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Swift: It's a dog's life for Kita, my needy pooch

Tammy Swift, columnist

Dear Friend:

Thank you for agreeing to take care of my dog. I knew you were the right person for the job when you told me about the summer you spent giving insulin shots to your son's aged goldfish, Emil. I also truly appreciate that you did not mind the waivers and paperwork, including the "Do not even consider not resuscitating" order and the agreement that you will:

Act as a marrow/stem cell/kidney donor, should Kita require it;

That you would incur all costs if something ever happens to me and Kita's future happiness and vigor depends on her receiving four complete titanium thigh, knee and ankle replacements as well as a bionic tail; and

That you have no qualms about performing CPR and mouth-to-mouth on a dog, even one whose favorite snacks include regurgitated roadkill and sheep entrails (for more information, refer to second half of Section 62(ab) on page 47, paragraph three, of enclosed document titled, "How to get Kita to eat.")

Obviously, you understand that I love my dog very much. Your own story about performing cardiac massage on that dragonfly that accidentally flew into your windshield told me that you are a person of great compassion.

Anyway, Kita's care routine should be reasonably easy to master for any average citizen, as long as they are a registered nurse with some knowledge of veterinary medicine as well as just a smidge of background in gerontology, physiology, herbal medicine and international law.

I've attached the following "quick-start" guide to give you highlights of her care, although you will also want to peruse the supporting materials, which I've thoughtfully collected for you in this four-tier file cabinet.

So here we go:

Food: While Kita was once perfectly happy to chomp away at Alpo like a barbarian, we now order gourmet, made-to-order food from a place called "The Farmer's Table*.") Her meals — which consist of artisanal lamb gently hand-tossed with organic heirloom vegetables — are gently cooked in sous vide packets, then packed in refrigerated boxes and overnighted to my home for about the cost of an average Thanksgiving dinner.

Come to think of it, it's weird this stuff is called "The Farmer's Table." When I grew up on a farm, our dogs ate anything from steak bones and moldy hamburger buns to overripe tomatoes they found in the garden and the occasional bull snake. And you know what? They were incredibly strong.

Now I spend more money on my dog's food than on mine, and my dog requires acupuncture, dental scaling, laser treatments and a drawerful of supplements.

Footnote: Oh, and Kita will not eat the food if it's cold. It needs to be heated to about 115 degrees. But don't microwave it; that will destroy the nutrients. Just heat it gently over low heat. It should be about the temperature of a milk bath for one of the Gabor sisters.

Walking: Kita does not do stairs, should not jump up or down from things and won't walk on bare floors. The tiny Acorn attached to the side of the couch is meant to prevent her from jumping down. It cost me $2,700 off Amazon, and she still jumps off the couch.

Technically, she has three bad legs, but her care team believes she still needs to do some walking to keep her muscles strong and to preserve her sense of "dogness."

You will find a tiny, crushed-velvet, red carpet rolled up in the dog-supply door. Simply unfurl this in front of her so she doesn't have to step on laminate. Don't forget to occasionally bow. After feeding her, simply bow and scrape while backing out the door.

Sleep: Our Highness requires a great deal of rest, which is why she has this heated, Tempur-Pedic bed with adjustable bed frame, swan-down pillow-top and cashmere blanket. Mostly, however, she prefers sleeping in my bed so she can watch Animal Planet. Oh, and she doesn't like sharing a bed with anyone because she's self-conscious that her CPAP machine makes her sound like Dog Vader.

So I guess you might as well bring a sleeping bag and sleep on the floor.

But not too far away from her, OK? She usually needs to be carried outside to relieve her bladder at least three times a night.

Yup. It's a dog's life.

Readers can reach columnist Tammy Swift at tswiftsletten@gmail.com.

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