The Joys and Challenges of Being a Dog Parent: An Interview with Author & Podcaster C.J Lopez

In this interview, we have C.J Lopez, an author, blogger, and podcaster, who shares her insights and experiences as a devoted dog parent to her beloved dog, Elvis. C.J Lopez is passionate about keeping her dog healthy and happy, and she emphasizes the importance of responsible pet ownership. She also highlights the profound impact of becoming a dog parent on her life and shares valuable advice for those considering adopting a furry companion. Get ready to be inspired by C.J Lopez’s love and dedication towards her furry family member, Elvis.

Growing up, we had Doberman Pinchers, Gertrude, and Gypsy. I remember Gypsy the most becuase she was around when I started going to school. She walked my siblings and me to our bus stop, a mile down a dirt gravel road. She was a true sweetheart that looked out for us. She would sit and play with us until we got on the bus and left for the day, and when we returned after a long day from school, we would look out the windows anxiously, wondering if she was there, and without fail, she always was waiting to walk us home. Gypsy would run around the yard and was a comfort growing up since I would go between my country home in Missouri to my city home in Indiana, having my life upside down quite often.
I always knew I’d have a pack of my own one day, and at the height of it all, I had six, but last month we lost my baby Marko suddenly, and we currently have five four-legged kids.
Marko lived a long life and traveled Europe until he finally rested his head in Texas.
We have a good mix of rescues and one baby, Elvis, whom we got from a breeder because I’m absolutely in love with Daschunds, and you don’t see them in pounds or rescue places since they are so well loved.

I’ll explain Elvis since he is the baby, not in age, but in personality and the one everyone sees all over social media and in person the most. The other babies are shy and don’t get online with me. They enjoy the quiet life and stay out of the camera as much as possible, only doing cameos occasionally.
Elvis is bossy. There is no way around it. If I could describe him as a person, he would be high-maintenance but fierce and independent. He knows what he wants and makes sure you learn it quickly. He gives love with all his heart and makes you give it back because he needs it. Elvis was born to be in the spotlight and has no problem commanding and shoving it away when he needs a break.
Be careful of his powerful nose that will nudge you insistently when he wants a cuddle, and beware of his show-stopper ability because he makes all the heads turn when he walks in a room. Trust me, when he is out and about, the paparazzi come out, and he gets a red carpet treatment everywhere he goes. He’s never been thrown out of a store, restaurant, or house, nor would I let it happen.

Elvis picked his name. It came to us while watching him wiggle on his legs, trying to walk through the tall grass when we brought him home. He had the sultry eyes that brought us in and that slick black hair that made you want to just snuggle with him. How could you not see the king? Let me tell you; he lives up to his name every second he can.

Honestly, everything he does is mischievous; don’t leave Elvis alone with paper or cardboard becuase once you return, he will have it shredded to pieces. We found this out the hard by leaving a box on the floor, ready to be thrown in the trash later, but Elvis encountered it, squared up on it, and took it down without much of a fight. We had cardboard pieces everywhere and a little Elvis proud of himself playing and rolling in it.
Still, to this day, he will shred anything near him if he’s left to it.

Elvis loves everything I’m eating. I eat oatmeal for breakfast, and he has a few scoops. Whatever I’m eating for lunch, he has a few snacks, and dinner is no exception.
Give me some french fries, and his ears perk up, while he looks like he’ll have a fit if I don’t throw him a fry or two. Yes, Elvis will always be found by my side, and you can’t get away without giving him a small piece of something you have; however, Elvis is on a special diet because of his disability, and we must be careful not to give him too much.
Because he’s paralyzed, he’s on prescription food that will help keep crystals out of his urine since he can’t pee on his own, and we watch how much water he takes in and ensure the food he eats doesn’t dehydrate him. It’s a battle, but we care for this little bundle of joy.

Elvis woke up one morning walking a little differently, and we noticed it right away because this little guy would jump everywhere and all around the house. We called him the “Crazy Wheenie.” My husband and I took him to the emergency vet, and they found that his disc was bulging and suggested rest and keeping him immobilized as much as possible, which we did. I held him in a crate next to my bed that evening, and when I woke up, the entire mat was soaked, and Elvis was paralyzed.
I was devastated. We rushed Elvis to the vet again, where they did xrays to confirm our biggest fears. His disc had ruptured, and he needed emergency surgery to ensure his life would be saved. He only had a 20% chance of walking again and surviving.

The vet told us it would be approximately $6,000 and six hours away.
I rushed home, packed an overnight bag, and off we went to Texas A&M veterinary hospital. Walking into the hospital, I held him in my arms, kissing his head with tears in my eyes. The nurse approached me, and I announced who I was because they were waiting on us. She said, “I’ll take him now,” I didn’t want to let him go, but I knew they would do their best to save his life, and I let him go, blanket and all.
I returned to my car and sat there for a few minutes before I could drive to the hotel and wait for a doctor’s phone call with his prognosis and when surgery would be.
I stayed there overnight, and when they said he would survive, I made the trek back home six hours becuase he would have to wait for five days to recover and to know if he even had a chance to walk, which they said was a 50/50 chance.
When I returned after five days and saw him standing in a sling with the vet holding him, I felt the same joy as seeing my children after giving birth. He tried to run to me, but when he took off, the vet almost lost control of him. I fell to the floor and called him to me, and I knew I didn’t care if he ever walked again. We would be okay. He was alive, his spirit wasn’t broken, and my baby was a miracle.
That was in 2021, and here we are in 2023. Elvis has no deep pain sensation, which means the feelings from the waist down are gone. The only walking or standing up he can do is skeletal walking, which is becuase the nerves in his body has the memory of when he walked. Still, his body cannot make operational decisions independently, so he mainly scoots around everywhere, but boy, he is fast, and his spirit remains the same.
Elvis is an IVDD Survivor (Intervertebral Disc Disease)

My husband found these emoji balls, and they are all over the house. We often step on them and scare ourselves as he scoots around the corner to find out where they are. He brings them to me, and we play fetch.
Yes, even paralyzed from the waist down, Elvis fetches the ball, and he will make sure you play with him when he wants becuase this little guy comes first, and you will stop whatever you’re doing to play with him.

Learning what your dog needs is the most challenging thing about being a dog parent. You have to know everything without being able to talk to your dog. I also find it problematic that dogs aren’t allowed everywhere that humans are.
My dogs are well-mannered, and most good dog parents also have their dogs that way. Elvis goes around with me, and I don’t apologize for that at all.
While I lived in Europe, people welcomed animals into pubs, restaurants, coffee shops, and stores, and it wasn’t a problem. Still, in the United States, people don’t understand how they’re a part of your family, and they can be well-mannered enough to go in and not bother anyone.
Being a dog parent should be as important as being a human parent.

We have regular checkups with our babies, not just Elvis, and we make sure we follow the latest things within the world of dogs.
The food we buy, we make sure it doesn’t have grains and that it has whole foods. We keep them up to date on any shots and don’t put them around other animals who aren’t vaccinated. We pay attention to their moods and note anything different with them if it happens. Everything that goes on with you can go on with them.
Just because their dogs don’t mean they don’t feel or need their teeth brushed, nails cut, or a bath. They need the same thing we do, just a little different.

Everything changes when you become a dog parent. I have two adult kids, but being a dog parent is like having your children.
My children also have dogs, and before they got them, I told them they better be prepared because everything they knew about their lives would change.
You will love them, worry about them, give up your free time for them, and enjoy every minute of it.
You can’t leave the house with abandon anymore. You have to take care of them first. You ensure their needs are met, and staying away from home for an extended period isn’t normal anymore becuase they’re sitting there waiting for you to come home (we don’t leave ours at home alone at all).
You will also stay up all night with them if they are sick, as I did when my human children were ill. When something bad happens, you’ll rush them to the hospital (we’re lucky to have a 24-hour vet here). If you don’t have a place open 24 hours or an emergency department, you’ll feel helpless because many businesses don’t have services for sick animals. Too many think they’re “JUST” animals.
It can be heart-wrenching and the most joyous moments in your life, all at the same time. Never take it lightly.

Don’t shop. Adopt. Look at a shelter or pound for a dog. While we have a dog from a breeder, we also have rescues. We have ensured that we give homes to the dogs that people have abandoned, and I can tell you those dogs are way better mannered than the dog we have from a breeder.
The look in a dog’s eyes and how grateful they were when you gave them a place when no one else would is priceless.
Take on the same responsibility as you would if you had your child.
Dogs will love you more than they love themselves and rely on you to be a good human. Don’t take that for granted becuase they will go without eating to ensure you eat. They will go without sleep to ensure you are safe and go without everything to ensure you know how much you are loved.