I’ve never been a big fan of marijuana. The couple times I tried it, decades ago, I had strong, unpleasant reactions. I’m told it’s exponentially stronger today, which sounds much worse. I have no particular feelings about its use, though stoner culture doesn’t appeal to my German Protestant work ethic. For relaxation (not that we deserve it), I’ve stuck to Yoga, Malbec, or TexMex Margaritas.

But recent changes in our elderly Jack Russell Terrier had me looking for treatment alternatives. At 15, he’s nearly blind, and partially (or selectively) deaf. He seems increasingly unsure why he’s walked into any room, and while he’s always pined for his next meal, and never hesitated to lie and say he’d not just gotten dinner, I think increasingly he believes his own lies. He’s agitated and whiny.

The easy-to-get remedies helped, a little: Calms Forte, Rescue Remedy. Subtle but definite improvement. But in the last week especially he’s been very hard to calm. Our vet seemed hesitant to prescribe doggie downers, so recently I thought, why not pot?

It’s legal (ish) in California, but I hadn’t thought about how it works. With some neighbor recommendations (thanks NextDoor.com!) I headed to a local cannabis club that offers dog treats and treatment. I got to the skeevy, abandoned-feeling part of the shopping center. The security guard outside a locked door confirmed I was there. “I’d like to learn about treatment options for my dog,” I told him, realizing that this sounded like a ridiculous fib.

But you can’t shop at pot clubs without a doctor’s note. And I guess California’s medical marijuana laws don’t cover dogs.

“Look online,” the guard told me kindly. “There are doctors who’ll use facetime and give you a note on the phone.”

I headed home and started on Yelp, looking for local docs, but it seemed crazy to make an appointment days out and pay $100 to meet an MD and tell them about my dog’s anxiety. Pretty quickly I realized there were easier options, and for $49 I filled out a 10-choice form (I chose 3 true-ish symptoms), and within 5 minutes I had an email: “Congratulations, we are pleased to inform you  that your Recommendation was approved by our doctor.”

This slip of pseudo-fraudulent paper seemed even sillier to bring up to the security guard than my dog story, but the note and my ID got me buzzed right in.

“First time?” asked the chipper receptionist inside. She gave me a clipboard, and I sat down with 3 other people filling out their medical marijuana paperwork. The next person is buzzed in after me, and the receptionist says, “Delivery?” I look up, and here’s the pot delivery guy from central casting: buff, handsome, big afro and Tshirt complete with marijuana leaf. He’s holding a package wrapped — you guessed it — in brown paper and done up in masking tape. I nearly giggled.

5 minutes later, I was in the “showroom.” My pot specialist, young and hip, could tell I was nervous. “Do you have some idea what you’re looking for,” he asked, “or should I describe some different options?”

I explained I was looking to calm my anxious dog, hopefully without giving him the munchies, which he’s got 24/7 already. There were 4 different tinctures and also dog treats, though after a few questions it became clear they all had the same extracts. Non psycho-active (I didn’t want to make the poor guy stoned), and “shown effective” for anxiety, pain, swelling.

I paid (cash only!), and feeling vaguely naughty, brought my purchase home.

While I wish I could say it’s been a miracle cure, it has helped. A little.

Aging isn’t for sissies. It’s hard to watch our parents and pets struggle with the unkindnesses and rough edges of life. It’s frightening, and sad, and defies quick cures. Our dear dog still has his challenges, but I hope he’s a little more comfortable and a little calmer. And I feel better that I tried something, whether it’s doing anything or not.