Posted by: Bonnie Anderson | July 16, 2011

PJ – The Grand Finale

I’m going to wrap up Pet Week today, but it’s challenging because there is so much to tell about our dog Pushinka Jacques, who we ended up calling PJ.  He was a Bichon Frise, and when we first got him he was the cutest little ball of white fluff I had ever seen.  This was our only pet whose papers were not the kind on the floor for potty time.  We wanted a dog that didn’t shed and wouldn’t get too large and was smart (and cute).  PJ filled the bill.

The first order of business was to crate train PJ so that we could leave the house and not experience any of the nightmares that had come with Blondie.  I read up on dog training and talked to our vet and it seemed like a no-brainer.  Why hadn’t we ever done that with Blondie?  It would have eliminated a lot of turmoil.

We made the crate comfy for PJ and he didn’t object when we put him in it.  Hooray!  We can have a dog and have a life.  But who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of a dog (The Shadow knows)!  We would return home and be greeted by the most awful smell.  It smelled like…could it be…no it couldn’t, dogs don’t defecate where they sleep.  But as our vet would end up telling us over and over again, PJ has not read the books.  This was troubling, as you can imagine.  Coming home to a smelly house and a fluffy white puppy covered in doo doo was not our idea of a proper homecoming – never mind bathing the dog at the end of the day.  We gave the crate several tries, wondering if this incident was just a fecal faux pas or a more serious matter of canine determination.

I determined that it was the latter when one day I left the house for five minutes when I realized I had forgotten something and returned.  I was once again greeted by that now all too familiar stench.  This time I had my revenge though.  I took the crate, dog and all, into the backyard and took the hose to it.  Poor poop-covered PJ cowered in the back corner while I let him know who the real boss here was.  It was the last time he ever pulled that trick.

We decided to take PJ with us on a trip to see my in-laws.  We woke up early in the morning, loaded the kids and the dog into the car and headed out on our 900 mile road trip to Maryland.  The kids all traveled well – never a problem with carsickness.  That’s why it surprised me so much to discover that PJ did have a problem with it.  He threw up from here to Maryland.  How much fun is that!  We were to learn that anything over about a five-minute ride in the car would elicit that response.  Needless to say, that was his last road trip.

After he got a little older, we did leave him with the run of the house.  He had an iron bladder (it turned out) and would never have an accident.  One day we left home and had a covered (acrylic, thank goodness) container filled with bagels in the middle of our dining room table.  PJ pulled a chair out, climbed up on the table, flipped the lid off and enjoyed bagels all over the house.  He even had breakfast in bed with bagel crumbs there as evidence.

I think having been raised with cats was confusing for him.  He would sleep on the back of our couch like our cats.  We would come home and find him on the dining room table.  He was weird.  Once he got into a bowl of Hershey’s Kisses, which is serious for a dog as chocolate is poisonous to them.  I came home to find wrappers all over the house.  I don’t know how he unwrapped them, but he was smart and could do lots of tricks (we didn’t know about this one).  I called our vet and he told me to give him Ipecac Syrup or Peroxide and make him throw up.  It didn’t work.  Have you ever put your finger down a dog’s throat to make him puke?  Me neither.  So after failed attempts with Peroxide, I decided to take him for a ride.  I put towels down and off we went.  We rode for over half an hour.  It was the first time he ever took a ride and didn’t vomit.  Finally I took him to the vet where he fixed the problem.

At Christmas time I love to make cookies.  I made up a batch of sugar cookie dough and somehow it had made its way to the back of the frig and I forgot about it.  Two weeks later when I found it, it was not suitable to roll out.  The sugar and shortening and butter formed a hard rock-like blob which I threw in the garbage.

PJ was ornery and had proved that he could not be completely trusted so it was our habit to make sure the garbage was not in his reach.  We were not perfect at this as evidenced by shredded diapers that were disposed of in the bathroom trash after our grandchildren had been over only to be found by the super sniffing shnoz of PJ.  So I was kicking myself when I came home and found my forgotten kitchen garbage can knocked over with its contents spread all over the kitchen floor.

It was not until midnight that the full implications of this incident hit us.  PJ always slept on the floor of our room and this night he was restless.  I let him out and watched him as he could barely stand with his back legs.  I awakened Bob and off we went to the 24-hour emergency vet.  That wad of cookie dough that PJ had consumed had completely blocked his digestive tract and he was dehydrated and actually dying.  He was totally listless by the time we arrived.  It was going to cost us about $400 minimum to pump his stomach and keep him on an IV.  This wasn’t in our budget – it was more money than he had cost.  We talked about it and decided to get him hydrated with the IV and take him home to go to our superhero vet Dr. Blum in the morning.  The IV gave him enough relief to make it through the night and Dr. Blum was able to fix him up again.

Dr. Blum passed away a few years ago and this fact has played into our No More Pet Pact.  I know some of my readers knew him and could testify to what an amazing man he was.  He felt so sorry for PJ and me with all we had been through that night.  He didn’t even charge me for the visit.  He said I’d been through enough.

When it was time three years ago to put both Mack and PJ to sleep, Dr. Blum was there for us.  Mack was first.  He had been a dynamic cat of about 16 pounds and was down to less than 7 when we put him down.  At the time, Dr. Blum was suffering himself with
his wife dying of cancer.  We cried together.

During the few weeks that passed until I took PJ in, his wife had passed away.  We cried together again as we petted PJ and said goodbye.  It turned out that it was my final goodbye to Dr. Blum as well as he has now passed.  He was our vet for over 30 years
and was the most amazing man with animals and people, too.  He was an act that cannot be followed.  As we considered if we would have more pets, the fact that our kids are grown and we love to travel plays a big part.  But when we think of Dr. Blum and trying to
replace him, well it’s just unthinkable.  We have many sweet memories of this man and the ladies who worked with him.  He served the community above and beyond his calling.  If anyone has a word of honor for Dr. Blum, I would love for you to share it here in the comment section.


  1. Thanks for an entertaining and sweet story. Your PJ sounded amazing. Dr. Blum seemed like a gem of a man.

    • PJ was quite the dog. I cried while I wrote this piece about him, and Dr. Blum, well, you picked the right word – a gem of a man. Thanks, Jessica.

  2. Bonnie,
    As I recall we introduced you to Larry (Dr, Blum) He and I were close friends and always talked about the Lord whenever I visited his facility. We only lived about three blocks from him. And one day, Taffy (our daughter Linda’s Yorkie-both living with us) fell over and appeared dead. I snatched her up and put her in an empty clothes basket sitting near by and rushed her to Dr. Blum. She was lifeless and not breathing, I don’t know what the man did, but in a few minutes she was revived and lived for many more years. Later when our Poodle, age 17, died I took him to Dr.Blum. He smply said leave him to me and go home. I never receivd a bill of any kind, This man loved the animals. Whenever I took one in to him for treatment of any kind he first soothingly petted them, hugged them and made a big fuss over them. I think the animals fully understood and loved him and so did we. For most of our 63 years of marriage we have had a dog in our house (Sometimes a cat too) But we also have made the difficult decision-no more pets, too much responsiblity at our ages. We still have to fight off the urge.

    • You are right, Dad. You did introduce him to us back in 1977. We are very grateful – I don’t know how we could have functioned as pet owners without his care. Since then I have found out that a lot of my friends went to him, too. Some traveled all the way across town just to see him.

  3. Bonnie, How lovely is it that your Dad left you a lovely comment. Dads are pretty special arn’t they. I have loved reading about your pets, and was saddened to hear of their departures. Mark always says we shouldn’t have pet because we worry about them, they make a mess at inappropiate times, and we’ll be so upset when they die. But for all the wonderful times they give us now I couldn’t be without them. I did threaten to turn Alex’s dog into a statue yesterday after she ate yet another of my plants, and to make matters worse she looked pleased about it.

    • Yes, Dad’s are great. It is so special that he not only reads, but comments sometimes, too. I can picture the look on Alex’s dog’s face. I’ve seen it before. It’s like that of a toddler – I’m cute, you won’t shoot me; you can’t resist me!

  4. Dr. Blum, and his wife, were indeed two special people. Totally delightful, with a great sense of humor each, who I really missed when we moved away. I never hesitated to take any pet to Dr. Blum’s office, and really it would have been great if he could have seen me instead of some of the “winners” I had for people doctors. I never heard anyone say anything negative about that man, which is amazing to say about anybody! I also used to work with Ellen, who went to work at Dr. Blum’s. She was always a joy. I hope God makes more folks like the Blums (and sends them my way!).

    • Thanks for sharing your memories of Dr. Blum (and Mrs. Blum).

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