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  • Miriam Green

How Much is that Doggie in the Window?


“What do you think about us getting a dog?” my dad asked as I came in the house.

Immediate reaction: That’s a great idea! Mom loves animals, and a small dog of her own might be a good companion for her.

Secondary reaction: You’re kidding me, right? You never let us have a dog when we were growing up, and now you’re going to get one? And who’s going to walk it?

On the plus side, studies on animal–assisted therapy (AAT) for psychiatric and dementia patients show that levels of stress pre- and post- animal sessions is significantly reduced in these patients. The idea is to engage a patient with a trained animal and a handler for a specific amount of time with a therapeutic aim. Even fish in tanks have been shown to increase good eating habits among patients.

On the down side, walking a dog twice a day, and of course, taking care of its health needs. Not to mention the idea of having dog food in the house, a danger for someone who may try eating it.

It turns out their immediate neighbors have a small dog that Mom has enjoyed petting. Mom has a gushing, cooing reaction to both babies and small pets. If we see a friendly-looking dog on our outings, Mom always stops to fuss over it.

We have a cat who would be a perfect companion. Zipper is almost 8 years old. He’s an orange tabby of tremendous girth who loves to sleep on his back and is very dog-like. And he’s incredibly sweet-natured. The problem is, he has diabetes and needs injections twice a day. Plus, he’s too fat to transport back and forth from my house to theirs. My husband is the only one who can lift him in his carrier.

What about a petting zoo? I remember taking the kids to a local one when they were young, but we can’t find any trace of it on the map. There’s a parrot farm a few miles out of town that is fun but also quite run down. No, we need a closer solution.

What about asking a local pet store if it’s okay to stop by once in a while? I asked in one on my way home, but they had no animals. They directed me to a store further down the street. I had to catch my bus. I’ll ask next week.

In the meantime, maybe the neighbor is willing to let Mom play with their dog for a half-hour every now and then. That might be the least complicated arrangement.

I’m reminded of that classic song, “How Much is that Doggie in the Window.” Very silly words. The last verse is the best:

I don't want a bunny or a kitty. I don't want a parrot that talks. I don't want a bowl of little fishies. ‘Cause you can't take a fish for a walk.

I think that will be on our play list to sing next week. After all, it’s a dog’s life.

Here’s another roasted vegetable dish that got good reviews all around.

Roasted Pumpkin Fries

We buy chunks of fresh pumpkin in the grocery store for soups and stews. Here’s another way of preparing it.

1 lb pumpkin cut in fry-size strips

1 Tbsp olive oil

Spices to taste: salt, pepper, crystallized garlic, and paprika

Directions:

Coat fries in oil and spices in a bowl. Transfer to a baking-paper lined baking sheet and place fries in rows. Bake at 450° for ten minutes; turn fries and bake another 10 minutes until the edges start to brown. Serve hot.

“The Effects of Animal-Assisted Therapy on Anxiety Ratings of Hospitalized Patients.” http://psychiatryonline.org/doi/abs/10.1176/ps.49.6.797

“Assisted Animal Therapy and Nutrition in Alzheimer’s Disease.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12365769

#pumpkin #dogs #animaltherapy #pumpkinfries #sidedish

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