Ruffing it


Citrus Heights resident Kristy Johnson’s friends say she spoils her dog Abby far too much. And Johnson doesn’t disagree: Every weekday for the past year, Johnson, who works 50 to 60 hours a week as a surgical technologist, drops her 17-month-old female German shepherd off at Cha Cha’s Doggie Day Care in Sacramento. When she picks Abby up, she spends every minute with her. Not to mention nearly $1,000 a month.

Would you say your dog Abby is spoiled?

By me, absolutely. I’m obsessed with my dog. My dog has more toys than most children have. She’s got a bed in my room, the living room and one outside.

Does she sleep in the bed with you?

I was adamantly against dogs on the furniture. If I have a blanket on my bed on top of my comforter, she’ll look for the blanket and know she’s allowed on my bed.

Do you take her on trips?

To me, she’s not a pet. She’s my kid. I take her everywhere. I wouldn’t leave my kid in the backyard all day. I’m not going to leave my dog in the backyard all day.

How much do you spend on Abby?

Probably around $800 a month. Doggie day care alone is $400. Her medications are about $100 a month. She always gets toys and treats.

What is her illness?

My dog was diagnosed with hip dysplasia when she was 3 months old. It’s common in shepherds. It can cause her to be crippled over time. She’s having surgery in March. It’s $5,000 a hip. I have a website for her. It’s

How does Abby show affection?

I call it the “German shepherd paw.” I’ve heard it’s a trait of German shepherds. She’ll come up to me and she’ll give me her paw, no matter where I am. If I’m sitting on the couch, she’ll come next to me and put her paw on my knee. If I’m driving to work, all of a sudden there’ll be a paw on my shoulder (laughs). She kind of throws a paw at you.

How did you get your dog?

I bought her from a breeder in St. Louis when she was 9 weeks old.

Describe your dog’s disposition.

She’s definitely not aggressive. German shepherds tend to be people dogs. They don’t love other dogs. And she loves everything. She’s very sweet, she’s very docile.

Why did you choose Cha Cha’s?

Cha Cha’s is right by my work. So, it started off as a convenience thing. The reason I started taking Abby [is because] I didn’t want an aggressive Shepherd; I wanted her to socialize.

How do they socialize the dogs?

They separate the small dogs and the big dogs. Abby at first didn’t realize she was a big dog. They had to wean her to the big-dog area, because she was afraid of them. She can handle anybody now. She has her little buddies that she’s with more than other dogs. It’s kind of cute.

I hear they celebrate doggie birthdays at Cha Cha’s.

They have balloons, they decorate the whole place. And they get a party hat. Abby was a bridesmaid in a doggie wedding (laughs).

Are there many of these doggie weddings?

Yeah, [Abby] had on a crown, the bride had on a wedding dress and the groom [wore] a tux. And they had a pug ring bearer; he had a pillow strapped onto his back with a ring on top of it (laughs). They had a cake made for the couple. It was made out of dog-food stuff.

And it’s an arranged marriage?

It is two dogs that really like each other. Abby doesn’t have a boyfriend right now, but she’s working on it. She’s an eligible bachelorette.

What is Abby like after having fun all day while you’re at work?

She’s happy to see me. She jumps all over me when I pick her up. She’s excited when we pull up to doggie day care. I don’t put a leash on her. I open up the car door and she runs straight for the door. I love her. I’ve never been in love with anything as much as I love my dog.