The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Tuesday, October 05, 2004  

Bulldog Blogging Ahead

If you hate pet blogging, skip this post and scroll down, but just let me say: I blog about my bulldog Mildred (officially, Chadwin VII's Mildred Pierce) because readers ask about her. Really, they do.

Thanks to the generous contribution of a Rittenhouse reader, Mildred went to the vet last week for the first time in two years. (I know, I'm a bad daddy.)

Like most pets, Mildred hates the vet. When I first moved to Philadelphia I was able to walk Mildred to the vet's office for her initial visit. The office was some four blocks away. Upon arriving Mildred was happy and excited; from outside she heard dogs barking, and, I think, suspected she was going to doggie daycare, her favorite destination during our years in New York. Nice trick, huh?

It worked once.

From that day forward, Mildred would never turn left (east) at the corner of 12th and Locust Streets. Too suspect. (The same thing happened in New York at the corner of 18th Street and Seventh Avenue, only the scary turn was right [west].)

Anyway, Mildred really had to get to the vet, and I finally had the funds to take care of it. Unfortunately, I had a last-minute scheduling conflict. I couldn't reschedule without paying for the appointment, so I did what anyone else would do: I pawned her off on a friend, in this case, my housemate.

We live farther away from the vet's office now, and a taxi was in order. So far, so good. Mildred loves to ride in a car. She excitedly hopped into the cab and enjoyed the ride from Logan Square to Washington West, looking out the window and drawing adoring attention from those in other cars.

The cab let them out down the block from the vet's office and Mildred had a nice time checking out the spotting of her fellow canines, observing the neighborhood, and taking care of her business, as we say.

But once my housemate led her to the stairs to the vet's office, everything changed. Mildred turned on the proverbial dime and ran west. Once my housemate caught up with her Mildred pulled her favorite -- and most effective -- trick: she became "one with the sidewalk."

Now, if you've ever tried to get a bulldog to go somewhere he or she doesn't want to go, you know what was in store for my friend. It's like dragging a boulder with a single strand of dental floss. It just doesn't happen. And so, to his surprise and my knowing recollection, he had to pick her up and carry her inside. (I've done that myself numerous times. It's less cute than it is pathetic.)

Once inside, Mildred first had to hit the scales. For me, this always has been a moment of shame. "She needs to lose weight" is the refrain of every vet we have ever seen.

The verdict, the tally, the total: 62.5 pounds.

Yikes. Not a good start.

From there things got better, at least for a while. According to my housemate, Mildred bravely endured the taking of her temperature, her shots (two), and the examination of her ears (a persistent infection) and her paws (an allergic reaction to a chemically treated lawn). Only the, um, expression, got her riled up and ready to go.

The bill was far more than I expected. The really bad news, though, is that Mildred needs to lose seven (7) pounds. Wish us luck. We've tried everything, to no avail. Right now Mildred is on what she considers a starvation diet, and she's not happy about it.

But back to the vet's office. As I understand it, cabs in Philadelphia do not have to take fares with dogs. It's at the discretion of the driver. Unfortunately, when the appointment was over and Mildred was pulling with all 62.5 pounds of her might, it was raining torrentially. (And Mildred, like most bulldogs, hates rain. What's up with that, anyway? They're English bulldogs and they hate rain?) My housemate waited 20 minutes and watched 10 cabs go by before one stopped for this pleading pair.

"Thank you for stopping. Thank you, really, for taking us," he said. "Don't worry, she's a good dog," he added, at which point Mildred, as dogs are wont to do, shook herself silly, spraying the soaking she had just received all over the back seat and windows.

"Let's just go home."

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