Big Dog Care

She’s graceful, long-limbed with a mop of tossed auburn hair and soulful brown eyes that could melt a polar ice cap. And she’s Irish with fiery Celtic blood coursing through her veins - I desire her.
She's an Irish wolfhound - the dog of my dreams, that is until the harshness of reality infiltrates my canine fantasy: Giant paw prints on the freshly waxed floor of the living room, strands of drool dangling from tables and the coup de grace - using garbage bags for the significant poop pick-up. I shudder at that point, my fantasy bubble bursts and I’m done with the Celtic lass.
My point: Jumbo-sized dogs are irresistible, but the care involved in owning one is at another level for most us, unless you’re like my neighbors, Frank and Freda Philpot, committed mastiff owners. But even they couldn’t get it right the first or second time. The first Philpot mastiff, Phineas, dropped dead from a heart attack at five and Farla, their second one, had some awful degenerative bone disease that cut short her life at four-and-a-half.
So when Frank and Freda got a third mastiff puppy, I was sure they lost their minds. That was ten years ago and I’m pleased to say that Phyllis, their brindle-coated mastiff is doing just fine thank you.
Last Saturday morning our paths crossed while walking our dogs. I remarked how hale and healthy Phyllis looked.
“Not bad for a ten year old mastiff,” Frank said smacking with self-satisfaction - well-deserved I must add.
“How did you do it this time?”
Of course I didn’t quite follow his long list of preventative care he rattled off. Something about shots, hydrotherapy, a raw diet and lucky charms. Fortunately the Philpots are independently wealthy and don’t have to work, because it was obvious that their lives center around their 160-pound pooch. Still, they painstakingly cracked the code for health and longevity of a giant breed they adore and for that dedication they have my utmost respect.
All this to say, owning one of those gorgeous, bearish giant breeds is not for the vast majority of us. Unfortunately so many people underestimate the great care required for these exquisite beasts so they end up in shelters.
I still dream of my Irish wolfhound, but since I’m no Philbot, my fantasy will remain just that. Think it's time to walk DJ, my 22-pound Welsh terrier.