Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Roller coaster ride

The last two days have run the gamut - incredible joy and soul-searing loss.
On Sunday, after a very, very long, discouraging run of competition, Teddy and I qualified in an agility trial. While, admittedly, we've competed only sporadically for the past 18 months, it was nevertheless discouraging to come away with only experience. Both of our runs on Sunday were fun and fast. Teddy stayed with me and did everything I asked of him. In Jumpers With Weaves Team Teddy made a couple of mistakes, one mine, one his, but we had fun and I was happy - especially since it had been months since our last competition.
Then in our Standard run - everything clicked. It was one of those instances when everything was going right. I didn't know if we'd qualified, the judge is a bit tight on time, but I was just thrilled. As it turns out, we succeeded and came away with not only a qualifying score, but first place in our class. Sheer, unmitigated joy.

And then there was yesterday. A normal day at work. I got home to find my sister Fran cleaning up a mess little Roc had made - he couldn't help it and he wasn't happy about it. I think we both knew then that Roc was tired of fighting the pain and disability that has progressed over the past year. So I made a choice and the veterinarian who has cared for him since the day I brought him home sent him gently into that good night. Sheer, unmitigated grief.

I love them both. Tears of joy and sadness.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

He's old. We're done with him...

What will you do when your dog gets old?
Personally, I take care of him, and cuddle him, and let him do all the things he loves as long as he's happy and comfortable.
I recently learned that there are people out there who don't. When their dogs get old, they bring them to a shelter and leave them. Done. And then go out and get another dog.
And when I heard about their behavior, I rushed to judgement - deciding immediately that anyone who could do that was despicable and loathsome. Beyond contemptible. 
But I found out that there's a segment of the population that believes "it's what you do." They don't know that it's okay to cherish an animal throughout its life - however long that may be. It's what their families have always done, so it's what they do. When their pet reaches a certain age or level of infirmity, they relinquish it to a shelter.
Perhaps we need to work on educating people that they're allowed to love their old dogs forever. And stop seeing stories like this one:

Family surrenders 16-year-old Pomeranian to shelter because she's too old
Cassie used to be part of the family for more than five years, but on September 6, the 16-year-old Pomeranian found herself all alone and not feeling so great at the Carson Animal Care Center in California. Cassie's intake information indicates her family surrendered their dog because she was too old. Admittedly, 16 is a ripe old age for any dog, but isn't that the time for a soft caress, a soft bed and a familiar home? Not so for Cassie; sorry to report, and as if the family expected someone to rush right in and save the dog they dumped, here is what they stated:"...But they said that I spend most of my time indoors. I am house trained. I am learning how to walk on a leash. I should be the only pet in the house."

Monday, August 25, 2014

Allergy season

For the most part, Teddy's a pretty predictable dog. Every once in a while he'll start barking madly for no reason whatsoever, but there's usually a reason for his behavior. If I can figure it out. Yesterday I was a bad dog mom. He was acting weird, and I just got annoyed.
Sundays are pretty predictable around the house. The morning is spent on "ablutions" for four dogs. Nails, teeth, ears, face-washing, etc. As part of the routine I rinse off paws, especially Teddy's, because he has a mild grass allergy and we want to keep it under control As a matter of routine, I rub in some stuff the vet recommended to keep the ph of his skin where it should be.
In the afternoon we collapse. It's our time to do absolutely nothing. The dogs all know the routine and are all happy participants. You'd think a dog bomb went off in the tv room on a Sunday afternoon - little limp, sleepy bodies littering the floor and furniture. 
Yesterday Teddy wouldn't settle. He was making me crazy. He didn't have to go out, he didn't want to play, he didn't want to chew; not even on Booker. 
On one of our numerous trips outside, I noticed how pink his ears were. And, stupid me, thought "isn't that adorable."
It finally dawned on me that ear irritation is an allergy symptom. Sure enough, all four paws were red and angry looking. Teddy's allergic to the new goop from the vet. 
I washed his paws again, with hypoallergenic dog shampoo, dried him off. 
Simple answer. We both collapsed on the couch for the rest of the afternoon. 
Wish I'd paid more attention, sooner. It would have saved Teddy some discomfort and me some aggravation.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Disconcerting

Yesterday was a scary first in Roc's and my life together. When I got home from running errands, he wasn't barking. He wasn't fussing. He didn't wake up. I called his name, gently at first. Touched him, again, gently. He's at the stage when I check for breathing before I think "Roc's so cute when he's sleeping."
He finally awoke and had his normal amount of difficulty walking and moving around, not so bad. It's another indicator that our time together is getting shorter. So we'll enjoy every day that we have, little Rocky-dude.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Greener Grass

 We had a bit of a problem with our backyard. The grass died along our back fence. The new lawn service (we get a guy to mow) thought it was a feature rather than a bug. So widened it and weeded it and maintained a lovely patch of dirt. We thought it was kind of interesting when the birds in the neighborhood enjoyed taking dirt baths. It was much less fascinating when Booker discovered dirt baths. Which were followed by water baths and wiping mud off the bathroom walls.
 In an effort to do something about it (three Booker baths in two days prompted some action), we went to the home improvement store and bought the required ingredients for lawn: topsoil, fertilizer, seed, and a seed blanket.
My thumb is notoriously black - if it's green and it grows it runs screaming in the opposite direction when I approach. Imagine our surprise when, after only a week, there are signs of an impending lawn! I keep expecting failure in all things outdoors. Booker may be sad about the changes, but he probably won't miss the bathtub.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Running around - again

Sometimes I hate being a grown-up.
Just for a while, wouldn't it be nice if we could shed responsibility? If worries could go away for a while? If there weren't 80 kabillion things we had to take care of?
I'd like to hide in my bedroom, sleep 'til noon, be grumpy and not face the world.

Instead, today's agenda:
Work: actually a pleasure. I'm lucky enough to love my job and the questions/issues that come up are addressable. 
Dentist: My cracked tooth cannot be saved. Exact quote from dentist: "Catastrophic break." 
Veterinarian: Teddy is sleepy. Extraordinarily, worryingly sleepy. Weirdly sleepy.
Obedience Class: 30 miles away in rush-hour traffic. May not get there, depending on what the veterinarian says about Teddy.

The stereotype suggests that middle-aged spinsters like me should stay home with their multitudes of cats, reading in a corner. (I was going to say "rocking chair," but that's probably a bad idea with that many cats.) Not me. My current five-year-old vehicle has more miles on it than my first, 13-year-old-vehicle did. There's always something on the schedule, something to be responsible for, someplace I have to be, go, do.

And, having written about it - I'm very grateful for all of it. Getting older is better than the alternative.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Momma said there'd be days like this...

I love my dogs. A lot. I like spending time with them, doing "stuff" with them, and just hanging out.
Yesterday I didn't like either one of them at all.
Understand that most Sunday mornings without plans are devoted to "dog ablutions" - nails, teeth, ears, etc. Each dog doesn't take long, but when you take care of four (my sister's two and my two), it adds up to a couple/three hour chunk of time.
Afterwards, I just wanted to relax.
Roc was too hot, so I got the cool pack for him to lie on. He settled.
Teddy jumped off the couch and started whining. Booker jumped on Teddy and a vigorous round of "bitey-face" ensued.
Roc got paranoid about the two others jumping on and off the couch and started whining. And shaking, which usually means he has to go outside to potty.
Take Roc out - everybody goes. Booker insists on eating grass.
Come back inside - Booker throws up, Roc poops in the house (his disability means he's not always aware when he has to go).
Get everybody/everything cleaned up, attempt to relax again.
Teddy won't come in the tv room to relax - whines by the back door. Lift Roc off the couch (heaven forbid I leave the room without him), go see what Teddy wants. Mr. "I can't poop when anyone's watching" wants to go out.
Take Teddy and Roc outside.
Come in, attempt to watch tv. Roc's too cold on his ice pack, take it away. Teddy chooses a bone to gnaw on. Booker wants it. More bitey-face, more paranoia, rinse and repeat.
Not the restful Sunday afternoon I'd planned. And, something I never thought I'd say - Tango earned the "Best Dog" award of the day.
Booker

Roc and Teddy

Tango