by Fred Cederholm, Columnist
Economic Analysis Column, Baltimore Chronicle & Sentinel
February 22, 2010
I’ve been thinking about Sadie. Actually I’ve been thinking about pets, the Westminster Dog Show, Scottish Terriers, Mac I, and Mac II. We Americans love our pets. We lavish praise on them, we talk about them, we buy them stuff, and we keep our subconscious ears open for any news that relates to the four legged friends who reside with us. The largest pet-ophiles are dog lovers although cats come in second place. I am a dog person though it’s not that I don’t like cats; let’s just say I am a dog person.
You see we Americans spend over $40 BILLION a year on our pets. (Roughly half of that -- some $20 BILLION -- is spent on pet health care.) That combined total is larger than the Gross Domestic Products (GDPs) of all but roughly 64 national economies worldwide. Pets are big business whether they are a mixed breed, adopted from a shelter, or are a pedigreed pooch or kitty whose ancestry is documented to back pre-1066. For some reason the Norman Conquest frequently pops up in conversations about breeding and bloodlines. Go figure?
Every dog has its day and last Tuesday night saw “the best of show” at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show at Madison Square Garden in New York going to Sadie, a four year old Scottish terrier. In the dog world, this is the equivalent of Olympic Gold. Sadie was expected to take the coveted “best of show” category having already won about 400 or so other titles and prizes. She would have more than likely won this last year, but in the final walk about, she squatted, and peed on the green carpet before the judges. (Hey… when a girl has to go, she has to go.)
There is something about a Scottie that has always intrigued me. They are a most readily identifiable breed. Many folks TH*NK about FDR’s Fala, or George “W” Bush’s Barney and/ or Miss Beazley which inhabited the White House over the past 90 years when Scottish terriers come up in conversation. When I heard that Sadie got best of show, I just had to go on line and check out the news coverage for the event. She was the 8th Scottie to win that in the 134 year history of Westminster.
Sadie looks every bit the part, which means she has a very good groomer. You see if the breed is left untrimmed, they tend to resemble a fuzzy rounded sheepdog and not the boxy and trimmed Scottie. It generally takes me about 3 to 4 hours to give Mac II his haircut. It took two days of 2 to 3 hours to get Mac I “shaped up.” The final look though was worth every minute of the effort.
I had given Mac I (Macintosh the First) to my mother when my father passed away in 1981. Mac was part of our household for just over 13 years. When my mother had her stroke and lived with me in Lisle, I would wrap him in a blanket and smuggled him into my apartment like he was a baby. Everybody in the building knew he was there and once I was even told that my “baby’s” tail was sticking out when we rode up in the elevator. Oh well…
Mac II became part of our household when I left working for the RTC as a forensic accountant and moved back to Creston to be the full time caregiver for my mother, Alice. She passed away in 2002. Scotties are very protective of their household and families. Mac is truly a joy and a treasure. We had never been separated – until I was hospitalized for my heart surgeries last summer. Mac normally sticks to me like glue and even sleeps with me back to back, or curled up in the bend of my knees when I sleep on my side. He will awaken me with a GRRRR… when I roll over, because he has to move. I wouldn’t have it any other way, I kind of chuckle, and I tell him it is OK, and that he should just go back to sleep.
When I got out of the hospital after my first surgery and went to the Malta Animal Hospital to retrieve him, he recognized my voice and came charging into the waiting room to join me. About 3 feet from me, he slammed on the brakes and backed away. The Malta Vet people got him harnessed, leashed, and in my car, but Mac II didn’t want to have anything to do with me. That was pretty much the case for the next two weeks until I was returned to the hospital with the full blown MRSA infection. His imposed separation from me was so different during those two weeks that I was back at home with Mac II.
Mac spent the next 10 weeks back being boarded at Malta. I thought about him every day! When I returned to claim him after the second surgery and 10 weeks of IV injections of antibiotics, he was so glad to see me. I now refer to him as “my other four feet.” Right now he is sleeping on the floor in front of me with his chin on my one foot. I just wonder if he could smell the infection I got during the first go around. Dogs are really special --- so… congratulations to you, Sadie! I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.
© 2010 Fred Cederholm