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IT'S A DOG'S LIFE--AND SHE KNOWS IT
By Michael Matthews
June 2, 2011 -- Editor's note: In his April column, Michael told us, in his usual manner, about his cancer diagnosis, his reaction to it and his first round of treatment. We also learned about his purchase of a penis extender (aka the new Porsche) and his canny decision to bring pastry to power.

In his May column, Michael regaled us with tales of magic brownies and not-so-magical blood withdrawals. His latest dispatches are below. And he promises to get back on the hotel beat soon. -- Joe Brancatelli

MAY 24: MISS OTIS DOESN'T REGRET
I have to be totally honest: I am a little miffed at Miss Millie. You may remember that I mentioned Miss Millie, our dog, in an earlier column. Miss Millie had been limping. But let me go back a little further.

Miss Millie came from the Humane Society when she was about a year old and she has been part of our family for almost five years. She is an Australian cattle dog, a mixture of Australian Shepherd and Blue Heeler. We think. Maybe. She weighs in at about 45 pounds and she's the sweetest animal one could possibly wish for.

Being a "working" dog, she needs a lot of exercise. Her favorite is chasing a tennis ball for as long as she can sucker someone into throwing one. She also adores long walks around our neighborhood, where literally "everyone knows her name."

She went lame in mid-March, just two weeks before I found out about my problem. Off to the vet we went for X-rays, then to an orthopedic vet specialist. The final diagnosis? She needed an operation. A Left Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy, to be precise. A $4,000 job, to be even more precise.

Following the successful operation, we brought home one sleepy dog. Her big brown eyes stared at us with The Look. You know the one. It says, "What the hell have you done to me?"

Along with the various pills and warnings on what to do if there was any vomiting or loss of appetite, her discharge papers included this admonition: NO RUNNING OR JUMPING ALLOWED. Major bummer, no ball chasing. In fact, the precise amount of allowable exercise was to let her out the front door, on a lead, to have a pee. That meant no walking around the neighborhood, either.

The word soon got around that Miss Millie wasn't well and had an operation. Get well cards arrived. (Yes, they have them for pets.) Dog cookies arrived. Packets of duck breast and even toys found their way to our door. Miss Millie started to look pretty contented. Anything she wanted, she got. Totally spoiled.

This went on for eight weeks, in the middle of which my problem arrived. However, that didn't stop the inquiries about Miss Millie's progress. Every damn day someone would ask, "How's Millie?" Me, not so much.

Yesterday, while I was being zapped with the radiation machine and having even more blood taken, my wonderful wife took Miss Millie to the $4,000 vet for a follow-up checkup. All was well. The operation had mended perfectly and Miss Millie was now allowed to start her rehabilitation program.

Her six-week rehab is explained with pages of small-type instructions. She starts with gentle walks and slowly adds more strenuous activities. By week six, she might be allowed to play ball again.

So, this morning I took her for her first real walk in eight weeks. The neighborhood promptly came alive. She first met up with Snickers, her best friend. Much smelling of butt ensued. As we progressed around the neighborhood, she met other friends of the four-legged and two-legged variety.

"Millie!" came the cries. Pats and strokes from everyone. "How is she?" "Is Millie okay?" "Has Millie put on weight?" "Can Millie play ball?"

Then the compliments. "Millie looks great!" "It's great to see Millie up and about." "We missed Millie!"

It was a never-ending cacophony about Miss Millie. Seriously, that's all I heard.

I'm the one with no hair, being zapped everyday and having poison poured into my bloodstream on a regular basis. But who cares about me? Oh no, it's all about Miss Millie. Miss Millie this, Miss Millie that.

Who ever said it, got it right: "It's a dog's life."

I'll just have to get used to it and keep being miffed and cancerous to myself.

MAY 31: HALFWAY HOME
I'm exactly halfway through my radiation and chemotherapy and I had a CAT scan last Friday. Today I got the word from my oncologist that the malignant tumor on my lung has shrunk by 50 percent. I credit my penis extension, aka the Porsche, for its outstanding contribution toward my potential 100 percent success.

Take that, Miss Millie.

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ABOUT MICHAEL MATTHEWS Michael Matthews has managed and marketed fine hotels around the world for more than 45 years. He spent 14 years in Hong Kong building the legendary Regent International group. He has also worked with St. Regis, Ritz-Carlton and Rosewood hotels. Matthews is currently based in Arizona. He began writing Do Not Disturb in early 2004.

THE FINE PRINT Joe Brancatelli makes this space available to Michael Matthews in the spirit of free speech and to encourage editorial diversity and the wider discussion of important travel issues. All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property of Matthews. This column may not be reproduced in any form without the express permission of Michael Matthews.

This column is Copyright 2011 by Michael Matthews. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright 2011 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.