I think I finally know what it means to be a dog…I had the luxury of visiting my parents last week in my childhood home. Their home is perpetually the same — with one twist.
My parents have a very permanent visitor these days…a dog named Toby. Toby is my sister’s dog. She adopted Toby at an animal rescue center in San Francisco called Pets Unlimited. She wanted a companion, but not just any companion, a cuddlesome companion – lovable, snuggly and obedient in most every way. Toby qualified for the most part. My sister was able to satiate her need to take care of something, but she got a little more than she bargained for.
Much to my sister’s surprise, Toby became more than her pet. Toby became her possessive boy-dog (or what’s the opposite of “bitch”?? –>THAT’S what he became), laying claim to her body and apartment. He’d bark incessantly when left alone, and would bite ankles left and right if the ankles invaded the personal space of my sister. The quintessential guard dog — when he was first adopted, his propensity to tear off your head was enormous and instinctive. The muzzle was a regular accoutrement. Quarantine of Toby was also common. His little carrying case/cage became the needed time-out headquarters. My sister was in the dog house. Even though my sister had a positive outlook, I wondered if she doubted her decision to rescue a dog.
Toby, one of the luckiest creatures in the world; His life started purposeless. It is believed that his previous owners were violent and abusive. He was found wandering the streets of suburbia in California, aimless, tattered and abandoned. Who could blame him for his misdirected anger? My sister, Lori, persevered.
With obscene pressure to be a good dog, my sister eroded the vicious side of Toby. Toby began to advance to “little king” status. After a while, he shed the Mr. Hyde side of himself.
Soon the “time-out carrier/crate” became a thing of the past. The barking subsided and Toby learned to be a “normal dog.” Lately, with my sister’s burgeoning career, she has been on the move, becoming a world traveler and successful business goddess. This has been a fine opportunity for following:
1.) a dog grandchild for my parents,
2.) a semi-permanent new fixture in my parent’s home
In addition to my sister’s efforts, my parents have had a huge impact on Toby’s mental health. Being a retired couple, they are available to hang out with Toby all day, restoring Toby’s canine confidence. My mother, an amazing chef of everything healthy, has become Toby’s personal chef. Luxurious meals of oatmeal, peanut butter, cooked carrots, and sometimes bacon for breakfast — and DINNER, a variety of lean meats and soft vegetables: sweet potatoes, chicken or turkey, brown rice, green beans, pinto beans are usual fare.
During our visitation, Toby and I got the royal treatment. All the good morsels, have contributed to Toby’s mellowness. In spending time with my parents, I benefited from all the new interesting Toby-inspired, human meals my mother prepared. I did not eat the lean meat, of course, be’an Vegan and all…but, I added a few extra things to the menu like vegan Bloody Marys and green salads. Toby passed on the Bloody Marys (recipe below).
Toby curled up next to me at night and I begrudgingly decided to share my bed with the pup…which wasn’t so bad. I just pretended he was one of my children, and
he pretended I was the girl who adopted him.
Fresh Tomato Mary (from Vegan Cooking for Carnivores by Roberto Martin)
3 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, quartered
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon, prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons vegan Worcestershire sauce (preferably Annie’s)
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 ounces cold water
4 ounces vodka
Crushed ice for serving