I’m a Helicopter Mom. Of a Chihuahua. So Sue Me.

I don’t remember my parents being particularly overprotective when I was growing up. I certainly played my share of sports, had minor bumps and bruises, even a few concussions, and they didn’t whisk me off to the doctor every time I stubbed my toe or had a snotty nose. Then again, my mother was a nurse — which meant she could quickly determine whether something was really a crisis and act accordingly. More often than not, the “crises” were manufactured by me, a self-confessed hypochondriac from a young age with an extensive ACE bandage collection my family still teases me about. (I don’t think I’m really a hypochondriac, incidentally — I’m using the term loosely — but I do tend to be dramatic about my own injuries … as well as most things in general.)

Rosie with her “Noni” (my mother), who calls me “Helicopter Mom”

Today, my mother’s theory is that she spent the day working with patients when I was a child; when she came home, I wanted her attention. I wanted to be the patient. So I made up ailments. Like sprained ankles, headaches, and other things I could pretty easily exaggerate. I wasn’t conscious of it. And lord knows I got tons of positive attention from my parents all the time. I don’t know why I was such an attention whore, but I apparently was. (And yes, I’m in therapy now. Twice a week. I know, it should be like 17 times a week at least. I’m accepting donations.)

Before Rosie, I had cats — Lucy and Ethel — who lived to be 17 and 19, respectively. They were pretty healthy up until they died, and I don’t remember being particularly overprotective of them. They were pretty independent — coughed up the occasional furball, got a UTI or two, then just got sick at the very end and died. I don’t mean to sound callous; I loved them dearly, but that’s what happened. They were healthy and then they were not. I simply didn’t really worry that much about them.

classiclucyandethel (retouched)
Ethel (left) and Lucy. R.I.P.

Rosie is a different story. I worry about her incessantly. My mother has dubbed me a HELICOPTER MOM. I hover. And it’s been this way since I rescued her last year. I clearly didn’t learn this behavior from my mom, so I don’t quite understand why I hover. It’s not like Rosie’s done anything to make me not trust her. She doesn’t drink (well, just lots and lots of water); meets her curfew; doesn’t run around with shady neighborhood mutts; and, as far as I know, does not smoke or take drugs (except her once-a-month heartworm treatment).

I can seeeeee youuuuuuuuu!!!

My “helicoptering” started almost immediately after I rescued her. Maybe it was because I saw her as especially vulnerable and viewed myself as her savior; maybe there was some weird tie-in with my aforementioned “hypochondria”. Perhaps I project it onto her. Maybe it was simply because I was a new dog mom and I wanted to do everything perfectly and I was just a nervous nelly. Whatever the reason, I have become one of “those smothers mothers” who practically hold out a safety net underneath the monkey bars every time their kid is on the fucking jungle gym.

I fell instantly in love with Rosie (which wasn’t hard to do) and couldn’t believe how quickly we bonded. When she arrived from Los Angeles via Waggytail West, she was exhausted the first few nights. I would just walk her, feed her dinner, wrap her up in a little blanket and watch the sweet little thing sleep. Sometimes my eyes would well up with tears, as I couldn’t believe how lucky I felt to have this little puppy in my life. She was truly my dream dog.

If dogs could talk, this one might say: “Um, mom would you stop being such a fucking creeper?”

As I watched her sleep more closely, I observed the way she loved to make her body as small as possible in the blanket (this is very Chihuahua-like); her gentle breathing; the way she adjusted herself every ten minutes or so, and the way she opened her eyes and look around every so often as if to say, “Where the fuck am I tonight?”

When she would go back to sleep, I started to focus on her sweet little blonde lashes and the way they fluttered a little, as if she was dreaming.

Continue reading “I’m a Helicopter Mom. Of a Chihuahua. So Sue Me.”

Dogs and Chicken Bones: A Bitchfest and a Few Haikus

As many of you know, Rosie was a street dog in L.A. before she was brought to the high kill shelter. So it’s her survival instinct to pick up every little bit of anything that looks like food on the street, especially in cracks of the sidewalk, by the curb, and under restaurant tables. We took a training course to try to break her of this habit, and it seemed to help for a while until she went right back to her old ways.

Rosie cuddling up to Manuel

I asked Manuel, her trainer (and love of her life), if I should consider getting a little muzzle for her so she can’t get sick (or worse) from picking up the wrong thing (like, say, rat poison). He said that would be traumatic for her, so I should continue the training instead. (Positive reinforcement, with treats. We just got these new ones at Trader Joe’s that she loves — freeze-dried beef liver. TJ’s has great, inexpensive USA-made dog treats, by the way. Find your local store here.) But I digress …

So yesterday Rosie and I were enjoying our afternoon walk, walking north on 10th avenue. As we approached 24th street, Rosie spied a chicken bone with a little bit of chicken left on the ends and she went bananas. I hate yanking her away from anything, and she’s not great with “leave it” or “drop it” yet, but she does have a harness so I yanked her quickly and hoped it wasn’t too hard. She seemed alarmed but unfazed about two seconds later. (The responsible thing for me to have done, in hindsight, would have been to pick up the bone and throw it out so some other dog didn’t choke on it. I was not thinking.)

Rosie enjoying a stroll “in the bag”

Anyway, we continued our little jaunt up 10th Avenue, met a few of her friends along the way, and then turned around to go home … passed that fucking half-eaten rancid chicken bone. Luckily, I was watching because Rosie went right to the spot (which was actually slightly hidden under a bus stop bench). I always have to watch her like a hawk. I distracted her with the promise of a “cookie” when we got home and a “ride in the bag” (Rosie’s new favorite thing — we did do that later). She sort of reluctantly left the bone alone. But it could have been extremely dangerous had she not. (Here’s some good advice, by the way, in case your dog swallows a chicken bone.)

Okay. so here’s the thing about chicken bones and New York City. They are fucking everywhere. Do they rain down from the sky? Is there a KFC up there? Do people just chuck them out of their cars? Eat their chicken on the street and drop the bones?

Who are these people? Why aren’t they more considerate? Why is it chicken bones people discard on the street? Why not, say, omelettes? Or steak tartare? Or cannoli? I’m baffled.

Thatcher, my friend Fiona’s boxer.

Just the other day, my friend Fiona’s dog Thatcher got her paws on a chicken bone and swallowed most of it before Fiona could pull it out. She was really worried about Thatcher. Thank god it all worked out, but Jesus, people, enough with the chicken shit.

Okay, so I thought I’d get out my feelings with a few chicken bone-themed Haikus. Ready?

Screen Shot 2017-04-09 at 4.08.40 AM
Why this and not, say, a cannoli?

Bone of contention
It reaches my dog’s belly
Blocking her bowels

Finger lickin’ good?
It may be so but you see
My dog Herb has died

Rosie’s at the vet
No thanks to you you asshole
Eat chicken at home


It’s Rosie’s Foster-versary! (And That Ain’t No April Fool’s!)

It was exactly one year ago today that I brought little 8-pound Rosie home to my studio apartment in a cab from the Upper East Side to foster her, while I thought long and hard about whether to make her a permanent fixture in my life. Julio the doorman was at the front desk when I walked into the building with her.

rosie julio
Julio and Rosie

“What the hell is that?” he said.

“Um, it’s a dog.”

“I know it’s a dog — but whose?”

“Mine, now.” I said, shaking slightly more than Rosie was. “Well … sort of mine.”

I had lost my 19-year-old cat Ethel two years before, so I had ample time to think about whether to get another pet. But I still had doubts. Would I be a good dog mom? Would Rosie grow up to resent me? Would she be a terror as a teenager and run off with an angry pitbull? Would she be into drugs? Prostitution? Trump?

One of Rosie’s first meals – a “mix-up” (ground turkey, eggs, peas, carrots, and chicken broth). Bon Appétit!

When I got her to my apartment, it was late and I had nothing healthy to feed her. (The former foster family said they fed her “whatever they ate — hamburgers, fries … ” — um, no.) I also had no toys to give her. I made her a scrambled egg and called my friend Fiona for advice.

“Give her a balled-up sock and roll it around on the floor. Give her one of those sweatbands you wear around your wrist and see if she’ll go for that.”

Rosie seemed like a rather intelligent dog, but clearly didn’t have very intelligent taste in toys because she loved the wristband and the sock.

Rosie’s first “official” toy, the crinkly pale green frog.

The next day, I went to Pet Central and, knowing nothing about dogs and what turns them on about toys, got her the lamest ones — a tiny pale green frog that made a faint crinkly sound and a plastic Nylabone with sharp bits that stuck out of it — presumably to massage her gums — that the vet later told me she could have choked on. Nice going, mom!

But hats off to me … I’ve obviously done a few things right, because I officially adopted Rosie on April 13th, 2016, and she’s still here — all 13 pounds of her — and so am I — (here; not 13 pounds) — and it looks like we’re stuck with each other. Thank god for miracles.