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What to do When You’re Sick as a Dog – and Must Walk Dogs

My apologiesfor being out of commission yesterday, Dogsters. On Sunday night, I was felled by someoutrageousbug the likes of which I haven't had since I...

Julia Szabo  |  Jan 4th 2011


My apologiesfor being out of commission yesterday, Dogsters. On Sunday night, I was felled by someoutrageousbug the likes of which I haven’t had since I was a kid.

I suspect the mounds and mounds of garbage marinating on New York City sidewalks in the recent 50-degree heat wave were the culprit; with bacteria everywhere in the air thanks to the Sanitation Department’s infamous inefficiency, it’s inevitable that some mean microbes are lying in wait,so New Yorkers – and their dogs – arebound to feel under the weather.

Especially the dogs: like so many inspector hounds, they can’t resistgetting up close and personal withthosereeking bags of trash. Yuck!

I hoped that I could sleep off whatever was ailing me, but by yesterday morning, matters were even worse – my head felt like it was in a tightening vise, and I was so nauseous that bending forward almost made me puke. The simple act of tying my shoes became acomplex maneuver; to get it done, I sat down on one of the dogs’ beds and kept myself as upright as possible, doing my best not to look down.

I’m a single gal with a lot of dogs, and current economic conditions mean I can’t afford a dog-walker. And wouldn’t you know, the temperature yesterday dropped back down to the 30s. Lovely!I had to suck it up and takemy friends outfor their appointed walks when all I physically felt able to do was stay in bed.

In case you find yourself in a similar situation, I thought I’d share what helped me stand and deliver for my K9 crew.

Ordinarily, I don’t eat anything before taking my dogs out – I figure they’ve been waiting patiently for the exquisite relief of that first morning piss, and I hate to make them wait. Butthis time, I beggedmy friends’indulgence while I peeledthe lastValencia orange I had leftin the refrigerator. Happily, I didn’t have to feel guilty about my choice of snack, because most dogs loathe oranges, so they didn’t feel like they were missing out on anything delicious.

Normally, my first fruit of the day is a banana, but the mere thought of a banana yesterday morning almost had me heaving. I’m so glad I reached for that orange instead: Something about the cold wedges of citrus really revived me – and maybe even prepared my system for the shock of that frigid air out there. Lucky Magnus – more bananas for him (they’re my formerly skinny dog’s favorite snack).

In between walks – Itake my dogs out in shifts to avoid leash entanglements and other hazards of “pack-walks” -I forced myself tostop anddrink a few sips of water.

When the last dog was walked, I distributed everyone’s breakfast, then felt overwhelmed by nausea again. Happily, I had some crystallized ginger on my pantry shelf. While I love fresh ginger, I don’t usuallygo forthe candied kind. I’m not even sure what it was doing there. Well, now I’m in love with it, and very glad that the package caught my eye.

Like Cinnamon, ginger is a carminative – it promotes healthy digestion naturally. Chewing on these sweet-spicy morsels ofgingermade me feel instantly better, and gave me new respect for this delicacy, which I will always keep on hand from this day forward. Since yesterday, I’vecarried abaggie filled with candied gingerin my pocket – yep, like a little kiddie. Whatever works, right?

Again begging my dogs’ indulgence, I kept the walks short. To my amazement, they all seemed to understand that I was compromised, the sweethearts, and did their best to do their business efficiently and quickly so we could all return to bed for a therapeutic snuggle. I love my dogs.

Do you have any tips for coping with illness when avoiding dog-walk duty is absolutely not an option? Please share them in the comments!