For Medicinal Purposes Only

It wasn’t my fault that my dog developed a drinking problem.  Really.  It was the vet’s.

First of all, it is WAY too late to call the ASPCA on me.  The dog and my liver are both gone.  So is the vet.  And the neighborhood where this takes place is totally yuppified.  There are no witnesses.  Except me, and I ain’t talking.  Oh, actually, yes I am.

Anyway, like all drinking problems, Goliath’s started gently, innocently.

But I guess I’d better back up.

You see, if I’d had any sense, I wouldn’t have taken that psycho puppy home.  He was past the cute stage, and had clearly been abused.  He didn’t like me when I went to the door of the house where he had a short-term reprieve from the dog pound.  Jeff, the man who advertised the puppy in the Washington Post, had taken the dog away from his friend who was abusing the dog, but Jeff couldn’t keep him.  He was going to be taken to the shelter the next day to be put down unless a home was found.  For $15, I got a teenage psycho dog, a leash and half a bag of dog food.

It was the best money I ever spent.

But still, I was stupid to do it.  Totally out of my mind.  He had greeted me at the door when we first met with aggression. Nasty, scary barking and growling.  But as soon as he was in my car he loved me.  He was never cross with me again.  If you’ve never had a truly devoted dog, you won’t understand this; if you have you will nod your head in agreement.  No one has ever or will ever love me as much as that dog did.   Did he somehow realize that he owed me his life, or did he like the brand of dog food I bought?  Hard to know for sure.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t equally devoted to other folks.  Or they to him.  It was way closer to oil and water.

He loved my roommate, Keily, too, which was convenient since she lived there with us.  My mother, when she stayed with us later that year, became a favorite.  But everybody else was greeted at the door by a growing maniac of a dog who didn’t want them inside his house.  I would hold him firmly and assure my (gullible) friend(s) that Goliath would calm down once they were inside.  But I lied.

He didn’t calm down.  Not exactly.  Once he accepted that it was OK for them to be there, Goliath assumed that they had come to visit him and that the reason they had come was to play with him.  So he would bring his toys to them.  Each and every one he owned (including his Ronald Reagan and Mikael Gorbachev squeak toys.)  He would put his head on their lap and bounce his head up and down until they played — a particular favorite of visiting men.  He would put one paw on them, then the other, then the top of his torso.  He wanted to play.  Period.  And saying no to an ever larger German Shepherd that my friends were actually terrified of was generally not something any of them were really willing to do.  So they played.

I have incredibly good friends, in case you can’t tell.  Personally I have no idea why they came back.  The dog drove many of them crazy.

Before you say it, Goliath got plenty of exercise.  I took him on long walks morning, after work and often late at night.  At night I would drive him to the grounds of the US Capitol where we’d walk around the buildings, he’d swim in the fountains, he’d be off the leash and had a great time.  I threw sticks, I exercised him.  He would pick up huge branches and ram them into me for fun.  I was bruised from head to toe.  And something story-worthy always happened.

For instance, one night we were on the Capitol grounds a few days after the Labor Day concert was held.  It was lucky for me that there was a line of port-a-potties, because I was having GI problems that night and needed to go.  I tied Goliath to a tree branch and went inside to use the potty, something I’d never done before.  Goliath went out of his mind because he couldn’t see me.  He broke free and started jumping up and down on the front of my port-a-potty, rocking it back and forth.  I was terrified that he was going to up-end the thing.  He didn’t calm down until I came out, which was hard to do as he was jumping against the damn door.  The next day at the office where I worked as a paralegal, I regaled my friends about the Washington Post headline that almost was:

Paralegal Perishes in Port-a-Potty

Anyway, as Goliath grew into his name, it became obvious that something had to be done.  I took him to training which was great for sitting, staying, laying down, heeling and the like, but my $200 fee didn’t cover rules for inside playing.  Nor did it cover how to keep him from killing my friends who had the temerity to knock on the door.

And then it happened.  When he was about seven months, I mentioned the situation to Goliath’s vet.

“Give him a tiny bit of beer,” she said.  “It’ll calm him right down, and he’ll go to sleep and leave you and your friends in peace.”

It was brilliant; it worked like a charm.  And it hardly took any beer at all for him to nod off, and he was content with the cheapest variety (as was I – hey, I was young and poor).  It was the most cost-effective remedy I have ever seen.

For a while.

The trouble was, he liked beer.  No, he loved beer.  He was GERMAN for cryin’ out loud, of course he liked beer.

So instead of wanting to play with my friends, he wanted to drink with them.  (Yes, he matured quite quickly.)  And just as he refused to take “no” for an answer when he wanted to play, well, he was even more insistent when he wanted to drink.  Every alcoholic beverage that was opened in my house for years required a “dog tax” – Goliath got a sip.  And there was no way you were going to get away without paying.  He was bigger than all of us.

If you read My Silver Lining, you know that my mother spent 2-1/2 months with me helping me recuperate from surgery.  Well, Mom adored Goliath, and loved nothing better than to sit with me and him and have a beer.  For Christmas that year, Mom gave him a special bowl.  A red plastic, heart-shaped bowl that immediately became Goliath’s beer bowl.  Using his feet to flip it up, he could pick up his beer bowl in his mouth, and thrust it at anyone who had an open bottle or a can.  It was impossible to say no.  And it was always just a sip.

Beer Bowl

Goliath played a huge part in my life in the 1980s, and was the most incredible dog.  He had a brilliant sense of humor, and did so many crazy things that I always had a Goliath story to tell to divert my mind from the fact that I was then a very sick young woman.  Amazingly, Goliath could always tell when I was really sick and couldn’t walk him from when I was feeling lazy.  He never let me get away with laziness, but was gracious if I was really sick.

When my now-husband John arrived on the scene, Goliath loved him immediately.  After our first date, Goliath and I walked John to his car, and Goliath, so intent on watching John, walked smack into a street sign, a complete Wile E. Coyote move. Goliath was hooked.  So I had to be too, didn’t I?

John and I had known each other for years and had many mutual friends.  When they heard we were going to move in together they all said “What about the dog?”

“Of course he’s coming,” said John.  “It’s a package deal.”  Goliath and I chose wisely.

Goliath lived until 1992.  Interestingly, our two subsequent dogs, Charlie and Cooper, have both had liver problems, but neither of them were drinkers.  Goliath’s?  His liver was just fine.

Goliath look-alike 2

Goliath’s Twin*

*     *     *

Goliath was a wonderful dog and a great drinking buddy.  This is not an actual photo of him — this dog is actually a breed called a King Shepherd (the photo is from here:  http://www.kingshepherd.com/)  The breed didn’t exist when Goliath was around, but it is exactly what he looked like.  As it turned out he was a cross between a German Shepherd and an Alaskan Malamute.  He had longer hair than most Shepherds, thicker fur, and a straight back.

This dog is Goliath’s twin, except that Goliath had one ear that flopped over, making him look completely ridiculous.

92 Comments

Filed under Criminal Activity, Dogs, Family, Goliath Stories, Health and Medicine, History, Humor, Pets, Stupidity

92 responses to “For Medicinal Purposes Only

  1. This is lovely~! Nodding and smiling all the way through! Goliath was a beautiful, beautiful beer addict. Rescued dogs often turn out to be the most loving, I’ve had 3. None had a penchant for beer but my God, love and loyalty that leaves me teary still as they are all gone to Doggy Heaven now. May Goliath join them for a frolic and have a beer with them too! Thanks for such a moving heartfelt look into your world. So glad you recovered and that Goliath was part of your first date love story. Sweet!!! xoxoxoxxoxoxoxxo

  2. I just KNEW that Goliath was going to be a great story! I’d say more, and maybe I will later, but right now my wife has got ME on a short leash. Lol :-)

    • Goliath was actually a story-a-day. He was a terrific distraction from my health problems. And he was hilarious. An amazing sense of timing.

      • Hmm… So Goliath was good for a story a day, and he was hilarious with an amazing sense of timing. Sounds like Goliath really was the ideal dog for you, Elyse, and if dogs could blog, I’ll bet he would have been one of the best dog bloggers too. :-) I looked at the photo of his “twin” full size, and I could see that Goliath really was a magnificent looking dog. Even if he had a taste for lots of brew because he was German and he could be a real challenge at times, he was a great dog and a wonderful companion. Thanks for sharing your humorous and heart warming memories of him with us here, and I loved the quip you inserted about his Ronald Reagan and Mikael Gorbachev squeak toys. (what? no Maggie Thatcher?) Lol :-D

  3. I love a good dog story. I know exactly what you mean about having a truly devoted dog. I had one named Ralph. Miss him like crazy. I never had a dog that drank, but I did have a pet skunk in college that enjoyed a capful or two of Budweiser.

    • You gotta tell that story. Drunk as a skunk ….

      There was a NY Times article not long ago that discussed how much more difficult it often is to lose a pet than a person. I think it is generally true.

  4. This is another one of your stories that I could and would keep on reading no matter how long it was! Although I did get *very* distracted by that “which writer do you write like” badge–like a man apparently–LOL!!!

  5. Having been the owner of a couple of devoted dogs for 13 years each, I can certainly understand your feeling of loss. The dog in my Gravatar is not my Bandit either, but looks like his twin.

    • It’s been 20 years, and I still think of him and his stories. He was hilarious — but even his departure was well timed, as I then had a young child and although Goliath loved children, I’m quite sure parents wouldn’t have wanted their kids coming over if they had to get through the maniac at the door!

      I know you miss your guys, too.

  6. Goliath sounds like a great dog. That was a really heartwarming story, but … you didn’t let him drive, did you? Because that would have been really irresponsible.

    • You know, Laura, about the driving. He wanted to. He was forever getting into the driver’s seat, but he couldn’t reach the clutch. And generally he was trying to kill anybody who can within 2 feet of mycar. He was worse there than at the door even. Oy!

      But even if he had been able to handle the clutch and the gear shift, I wouldn’t have let him drive drunk. Promise.

  7. Love hearing about Goliath. I had an equally rotten/ strangely adorable dog named Scout. She hated people and animals and mostly life, but she really loved me. That counted for something :)

    • It counts for a whole lot, Tori. Sometimes it is exactly what you need in life. I don’t know about you, but there have been times when nobody understands you like your dog. They always understand and never criticize.

  8. My rescued Shepherd Shelby enjoys a sip of beer as well. She also adores margaritas. Loved this story. We say Shelby has a hand addiction, she will put herself under your hand for petting, rubbing or tickling no matter what you might think you need to be doing at the moment. She has been a godsend to me after moving so far away from my family. Everyone assumes she is a male because she is so large (close to 100 pounds). She is just big boned. Pets enrich our lives so much.

    • Shelby sounds wonderful. But be careful of the salt on the margaritas ;) … Give her a sip fromme. Goliath liked wine, too — white only. He used to steal sips out of peoples’ glasses when they weren’t looking.

      And I’m glad you get a lot of comfort from Shelby. They really know what you need and when you need. There is no fooling them, no stretching the truth or masking it. Dogs are a vital part of my life, and it sounds like yours too. Nobody loves you that much. Ever.

  9. Gotta love a good pet story. Plus, his name seems to fit his personality. Well done!

    • Goliath was an appropriate name, but I hated myself for giving it to him. A few days before I got him, I’d been at a brunch with a few friends. We were talking TV trivia and someone mentioned Davy and Goliath — where the dog Goliath acted as Davy’s guardian angel (“I don’t know, Davy”). It was a time when I was desperately in need of a guardian angel, and I co-opted the name. But I always regretted it “Oh, he won’t hurt you — DOWN GOLIATH!”

  10. Oh, Elyse… what a marvelous story! It deserves to be published somewhere else! What a fascinating dog and what a history. I love stories about bad dogs gone good. This is a wonderful way to start my day! If my sister’s dog doesn’t calm down soon, I’m breaking out the vino.

    • So glad you liked the story, SDS. But I’m not sure Goliath qualifies as a “Bad Dog Gone Good” — he was more both in one large package. But I don’t know that anyone would publish this story — I think that some people might take the beer farther than we did (in fact once some folks I didn’t know well came over and in the time I was changing my clothes fed Goliath SIX beers. I threw them out and nursed my poor, very drunk dog. They were never invited back.)

      Beer was more effective than wine, though. But really just a little or the SPCA really will come after me!

  11. This is so good! Drinking dogs, I have known a few of them. My parents had two of them in fact. I wonder why some drink and some don’t.

    What a great story of your partner in crime Elyse.

    • When we were in the UK we were always delighted by the Pub Dogs, the ones who hung out at the bar. Goliath would have been a HUGE hit (in more ways than one!)

  12. I have never heard of a beer drinking dog, but it makes complete sense. If anyone on this planet should have one, it is you, because you found the humor in the insanity. Goliath sounds like a wonderful, caring friend…the big lug. I almost lost my coffee over the port-o-potty scene! Poor Goliath tied to a tree…lol!

    • The port-a-potty story is probably my favorite of all the times he got me in trouble or nearly killed me. And there were many.

      I’m finding that there are lots more drinking dogs than I knew about, and not just on college campuses. And when you live with a loving maniac, you really have to find the humor. Otherwise you die. Literally.

  13. Michelle Gillies

    This tale of your Goliath warms my heart and I love the name. The dog from the “Davey and Goliath” series was one of my favourite things. Dogs are like many family members, especially the quirky ones that supply you with endless amusing stories.

    • Thanks, Michelle. The name was a blessing and a curse. It did fit him, but it did nothing to alleviate the anxiety he produced. Glad you remember Davy and Goliath — that still makes me smile, and my Goliath’s personality, when not maniacal, was very silly like Davy’s Goliath.

      You must be a dog person, too.

  14. What a wonderful tribute to your great friend who had a heart as big as yours. Interesting advice that worked from the vet. Great piece from start to finish.
    The kids had to put Zena down–she had lived 15 years and it was time–we will miss her this Christmas.

    • Oh, thanks Georgette, what a sweet thing to say. (And it has been suggested that I can be equally vicious, but don’t believe it. Besides, I’ve had all my shots.) But yes, isn’t it funny that the VET told me to do this? Amazing!

      Sorry about Zena. She (?) will be missed if she was anything like Goliath. He was worse than any kid on Christmas eve — he’d wake us up throughout the night so he could get his presents!

  15. Sounds like a great dog! Maybe some beer will calm my dog down.

  16. You did indeed choose well – “It’s a package deal.” I’ve never even met your husband, but I love him! ;)
    I can feel for Goliath, not so much the drinking part, but the “play with me” part. Although I was Goliath – if I ever went to a friend’s house and they owned a dog, I vanished, to be found in some other room rolling on the floor, playing with the dog.. One of my childhood friends even claimed, more than once, that I didn’t visit HIM, I came to see his family’s Great Danes. (There WAS quite a bit of truth in that, I must admit.)
    And who knew you were such an environmentalist?!? Owning a bio-fuel dog, you greenie, you! :D

    • Well, he also knew me — there was no way I was going to get rid of my dog for a guy. Not no way, not no how. Especially not this particular dog.

      And I hear you on playing with dogs — one of my earliest memories is being found at our neighbors sitting and playing with their German Shepherd — who was ferocious — happily, safely. Dogs love me. I was walking up to my office in Switzerland once when a dog crossed the parking lot, heading straight towards me, jumped up and kissed me, and then continued on. They love me. Always have. And it’s mutual.

      As our current dog, Cooper, ages, John keeps saying that he “will be in no rush to get a new dog.” I just look at him. That’s what he said when our last dog, Charlie died. That’s what he’ll say when Cooper’s successor goes. Me and a dog? it’s a package deal!

      And I love great danes, too. We thought about getting one but they are so short-lived we decided against — then our Bernese Mountain Dog died at only 5.5 :(

      • I hear you on the big dogs. I’d love a couple Danes and a Bernese or two, but when we got our first dog, the wife insisted on something manageable. (So we ended up with the squad-car-crushing Cattle Dog! :D ) Our current guy is the biggest we’ve had, and though he’s a Mastiff, he’s got a full-size Mastiff head on a 7/8 scale body. Others have suggested a hint of St. Bernard, but since he’s a rescue, we have no idea. (And could care less.)
        Here’s one for us “dogs love us” folk. We went looking at a shelter (before we got the Cattle Dog), and I spotted a largish mutt – part Boxer, part Mastiff, anda couple parts WTF. I got down on my hands and knees and was getting kisses through the chainlink fence while my wife talked to one of the workers. Suddenly, this dog flies to the opposite side of the cage and goes NUTS – another guy walked in. The worker saw me face-to-face with the dog (she returned after chewing the guy out) and FREAKED, pointing to the sign over my head that read “WARNING! This dog does not like men. All men, PLEASE KEEP AWAY!” We almost took her home, but we decided it wouldn’t work well, since we were actively working the convention scene, and we couldn’t have a pet constantly going nuts after guys. Pity – the dog was a real sweetie!
        By the by, the dog was female, by the name – ready? – of “Butkus”. 8O

  17. April Sawler

    Hysterically funny, I’m new to your blog and love it!! Thanks for the laughs.

    • Thanks for stopping by, April. Apparently you are a dog lover too — non-dog folks probably clicked off early on! Welcome. Hope you check back again soon.

  18. as the current owner of a dog with the same issues, I’m going to start insisting he have a Sam Adams with dinner…

  19. You know, Elyse, I once knew this fella who had a dog that actually drank gasoline. Yeah, I didn’t believe him either, so we went to his house so he could show me. He put down a dog dish with a little gasoline in it, and sure as heck, the dog lapped it all up! Then he starts barking and running in circles, then suddenly, dropped to the ground! I thought the poor guy was really hurt, or even dead, but his owner assured me the dog was fine, he just ran out of gas. (Rimshot.)

  20. Our Jack Russel, Ruby can drink tea till the cows come home. Wecan’t leave a cup of it laying around or she’s straight in there.

    nice story.

  21. Oh, Elyse, thank you for that story. You made my day right before I sign off my computer and start packing for my vacation! I love you! :)

  22. What a great story. I enjoyed reading it from the first line to the last. My dad say, when he was a kid, we had a couple of cats who were addicted to tea. :)

  23. Thanks for sharing this, Elyse. And especially for giving me the image of a coupla’ politicians in the vice-like jaws of a big ol’ dog. Chow down, I say. Chow down.

    • He never did go after any Congressmen or Senators. There was a bombing one night which coincidentally happened about the same moment that we were driving off. (I am not making that up). We were NOT responsible (and didn’t even hear it).

      But I was trying to STOP him from biting. Really!

  24. GOF

    Wonderful story Elyse. Our new pup (now 40kg at 6months) is heading the same way…..although it cost us $300 to save her from being put down.
    She’s the most ebullient and affectionate dog we’ve ever owned….to the point of almost causing us physical harm. I’m off to buy a carton of beer today. Thank you for your timely advice.

    • Oh Lord, I’m going to be reported to the animal cruelty folks in a country I may never even get to visit.

      But remember, I created a monster with mine. Well a different monster. But I sure did love that big lug!

  25. Aw, what a moving tribute to Goliath and his owner. I would have given good cash money to see the Porta-potty Incident, had it ended up with a total tipping. I’m always afraid something like that will happen when I (rarely) venture into one of those things.

  26. Great story and great writing. Big dogs always make the best stories.

  27. P.S. I don’t mean you are a big dog who makes good stories….

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  30. What a great story! Goliath reminds me even more of my Lucas now – he was also a rescue, also big and high strung, completely devoted to me and a comfort when I was ill for a long time. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Fork. You have to love rescue dogs — because they are so totally devoted to you. Nobody loves you THAT much!

      You now need to write about Lucas, you know!

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  32. He sounds like he was a wonderful friend and dog :-) I have a black labrador who is a little nuts too. She was voted ‘class clown’ at puppy pre-school, and also assumes (wrongly) that anyone who comes to the house has come to see her/play with her. My dad in particular is pretty popular, she climbs all over him and licks out his ears/nose in her delight at seeing him.

    • Thanks, Holly. He was a wonderful maniac. Totally crazy but so loving. Glad your dog is a little nuts too. Life is too short for boring dogs!

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  34. lucewriter

    I love this dog!

  35. “Did he somehow realize that he owed me his life, or did he like the brand of dog food I bought?” Great stuff, Elyse.

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  38. What a great post! I totally understand what you mean about the love our dogs share with us. It is unconditional in a way unlike any other love. You had me laughing aloud more than once through this post!

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