- This week has been long and difficult. It relates back to the bullying/mobbing I went through in 2010/11. It is clear that I am still suffering the effects of PTSD. It makes me anxious and defensive. I am always on guard for an attack or snide remarks. There were a few of those yesterday but for the most part it was ok. I am really trying hard to understand that what motivates people to be mean to me has nothing to do with me and is much more a reflection of who they are and what is going on for them. I took the high road yesterday and chose to ignore the crap.
- I am sure by now everyone has heard that cats are serial killers or mass murderers. Cats are predators who have always hunted. While cats may kill a large number of birds and rodents, larger predators like coyotes routinely kill cats. So many cats go missing if their families let them outside. The solution to all of this is for people to keep their cats indoors thereby keeping everyone safe.
- And another rant – This week we have heard that we are not going to have enough university graduates to fill jobs in the next 7 years. What really got me was all the whining and sniveling from unemployed social sciences graduates about not getting a job and that it is the university’s responsibility to provide more focused career counselling and resume writing. Seriously people? You have completed a 4-year degree and you can’t figure out how to develop a resume? If you are going to a degree in sociology, anthropology, history or any other number of subjects you are not likely to work in the field you studied unless you are going to get a doctorate degree and stay in academia. I have a Master of Arts degree in history. It has been my job to sell my skills to potential employers. I need to convince them that they need someone who has critical thinking skills, analytical skills and that I can learn their business quickly.
- I love Jesse. He is the sweetest dog ever! When I come home after a long day at work he is so happy to see me. His tail is going like crazy and he is talking to me loudly. Once he calms down he comes in for a head scratch. Then he presses his head into my legs as he gets his scritches. He has learned to give a ‘high-5’ with bow paws. He is so sweet!
- We have turned a corner with Gracie. She is no longer as anxious as she used to be. We believe she did not receive very much attention during her life. She seemed so desperate for human attention. She still needs to be very close to her people. She has stopped obsessively chewing on herself. Her toilet training has also improved markedly over the last couple of weeks. She is a very happy girl who is always ready to play or relax for a long cuddle!
- Something really great happened to me at work this week. One of our volunteers came out to me. She said she had never seen a lesbian who was out, with a partner and happy. Seeing open and me being out gave her assurance that she too could be honest about whom she is and come out. She made my day in so many ways. It was nice to know that my beliefs around being a role model for youth are realistic. We really can be part of the solution just by being visible.
I always find going back to work after the Christmas holidays very difficult. It is just not long enough. Plus there is the spectre of a brand new year ahead that begins with my least favourite month of the year. It always seems to me that January is one long-ass month of misery. In no particular order here are updates from The Swamp:
- I had a couple of other observations about our trip to Calgary. I was stunned to find out that I had to give personal information in order to purchase gravol at a pharmacy. Apparently they want to keep track of who is purchasing it. Is there a gravol intervention staged if one tries to buy too much?
- Rental car companies do not put snow tires on their cars in Calgary. Seriously people, WTF is that about? It makes the fact that I didn’t get stuck or seriously injure us in a crash all the more shocking. I seriously have not lost my winter/snow driving skills.
- We took in a new senior dog. She is a 16-year old Shih Tzu. She is a great dog. She sleeps a lot but when she is awake she is very engaged and charming. She certainly lets us know, in no uncertain terms when she is not happy with the state of her world. She loves food and snuggling. She has been getting around a lot better since we started her back on metacam. She is able to navigate our stairs in and out. She can go up the stairs to the bedroom but sometimes she just prefers to be carried and we oblige her. She is getting along with the other dogs and seems to have adjusted ok to such a big change. It is always tragic seniors lose their homes because their people have to go into care homes. Tosh was extremely well socialized and is very resilient. She set a land-speed record in terms of how quickly she settled into The Swamp.
- Jesse is continuing to evolve. He is looking really good and has gained some muscle mass in his back legs. Now his ‘princess’ behaviours are emerging. He is one loud and vocal dog for sure. If he wants something he whines and carries on like he is going to die. The other day Deb heard him screaming downstairs and asked me if he was in distress or if we were playing. We were playing. He definitely loves the sound of his own voice!
- He and Kiefer are battling out to see who can be the lowest dog in status in the house. Tosh and Zoe are really good at kicking them out of their big dog beds and making them sleep in the small ones. It really is quite hysterical to see those two trying to contort themselves into the much smaller space. Meanwhile, Tosh and Zoe are spread out on the big beds looking quite contented.
- The new Port Mann Bridge has not gotten off to a good start. There were ice bombs after a storm and it turned into a skating rink when the temperatures dipped down below zero the other morning. Even though it has had problems it has already been successful in reducing congestion on Highway 1. This is a great boon to commuters and has already reduced my commute time. The bigger benefit though is to the economy. As a port city Vancouver has very high levels of truck traffic. Making it easier for them to move goods in and out of Vancouver. Lower levels of congestion will also be good for the environment.
Well, it’s November again. The rains have begun in earnest. It is also National Blog Posting Month and I am going to try to blog every day for the whole month. I am not holding out much hope this will actually happen but a woman can dream. Hopefully you will all be treated to my unique, critical-thinking take on the world as I discuss politics (Obama good, Harper bad), feminism, music and of course, dogs. So here we go with the first post of the month on, you guessed it, dogs!
First up is Jesse. When he first arrived we thought we were going to have a challenge integrating him. He had pain issues, he had never really lived with other dogs, he had severe separation anxiety and stunk to high heaven. After a couple of months with good pain management he has fit in like a dream. Things are still a little foreign to him at our house but he is learning some key lessons. He now seems to understand that we go out and we come home. He is not screaming as much when he has to go into his crate which means hopefully the neighbours won’t call the police thinking someone/something is dying or actively being killed. He seems to really enjoy the softness at our house; the soft petting and caressing, the soft beds, the soft couch and the soft touch of Sawyer’s tongue on his face. You can just see him relax and lean into it a little bit more. It does seem though that some things cannot be unlearned. He does not really like raw at all so we do have to feed him a combination of commercial dog food and some home-cooked. He will pretty much eat anything as long as it is not raw.
When Gracie first arrived we thought she had weathered the chaos of her previous lives well. We were wrong. Gracie seems to be a dog who never had much stimulation so she began to chew on herself as a way to deal with this. At our house she has lots of stimulation playing with Sawyer and getting attention from us. However, when we seem to be winding down for the day like watching tv and/or getting ready for bed she begins her self-stimulating behavior. She has been to the vet, done 2 rounds of antibiotics and a medication that allowed her skin to heal and stopped her from scratching. We are now trying rescue remedy to see if that will settle her down a bit. She is truly one of the nicest dogs we have ever had.
Everyone else is doing well. Mostly. We are having some issues with the girls. Zoe, who is old and intolerant, is bitchy, Gracie wants to play and is relentless. She does not pick up on Zoe’s not so subtle cues that she doesn’t want to play. So they snarl a little and then Piper inserts herself, determined to finish whatever is going on. It has been mostly noise, however I did notice that Zoe had a little puncture above one of her eyes. Oh, and it would be useful if Zoe realized that she really doesn’t have enough teeth to be snarling at younger dogs. Meanwhile, they boys snuggle with each other and get along fine. Who knows?
Part 1 is here.
Bully Buddies asked us if we would foster a senior pit bull cross who was languishing in a shelter. Jesse’s life had been rough. His owner had difficulty caring for him from time to time and he could no longer. Jesse had 2 botched cruciate ligament repairs that have left his back legs weak and painful. If that weren’t bad enough part of his spine is fused. He saw a vet to determine if his pain could be treated and he was started on Metacam and Tramadol. Jesse arrived at The Swamp 2 weeks ago.
The first thing we noticed about Jesse was his absolute obsession with balls. He had to have a ball in his mouth at all times. He was also desperate to play fetch. Thankfully this obsessive behavior has calmed down. Jesse does have severe separation anxiety. He becomes very stressed when left alone. After 2 weeks we have figured out how to manage this for the couple of times a week he needs to be alone.
We took him to our vet last week, as we were concerned that he may be diabetic as he was sucking back the water and is very thin. He has kidney disease. So we are not sure how long Jesse has given that he has to be on Metacam for pain management. We will not compromise quality of life for any senior dog – he has to be pain free. He also needs to gain about 7 pounds, as he is really thin right now. He received a cartrophen shot and he is getting green lipped mussel to help his arthritis and strengthen his back legs.
Jesse is a good dog who has had a rough life; you can see it in his face. He is not used to any kind of comfort. He loves lying on the couch however, he really does not want to go in there without one of us. So every evening he goes towards the living room while looking back to see if someone is going to come with him. Yesterday he had the courage to go and lay on the couch without me going with him!
Here is Jesse’s top 5 favourite things in the whole world:
5. Stuffies – like any pit bull, Jesse loves to rip apart the stuffies. Luckily for him we have a whole laundry basket full of old ones that he can destroy.
4. Bones – Jesse really enjoys a good bone. He works on them for a long time. This probably why his teeth are really clean.
2. Stuffed Kongs – Jesse gets one of these at bedtime. It takes him a while to empty them. Deb is also getting very creative. Last night it was chicken and cheese microwaved so the cheese melted.
1. Balls – of course the number one thing on Jesse’s list of favourite things are his tennis balls or any kind of ball.
We hope that Jesse is with us long enough to lose the worried look on his face; he has seen so much adversity. It is our job to make sure this dog knows some comfort and stability before the end of his life. We don’t know how long he has but we will make sure every day is a good day for him. A huge thank you to Bully Buddies for pulling him out of the shelter. It is situations like this where rescue is at its best – pulling a dog that is likely not adoptable but doing it for the dog.
 The request did not come out of the blue. I had been involved in a thread on FB about perhaps taking an aggressive French Bull dog. The Frenchie didn’t need our help after all.
 Metacam is an NSAID and can be hard on the internal organs like the kidneys and the liver.
 He will have these weekly for 3 more weeks.
 This behavior has lessened.
 Anyone who has lived with a Cuz loving dog will understand.
Those of you who follow me on Facebook will know that we have recently added two new dogs to the crew at The Swamp. After suddenly losing Ruby on the dikes on July 18th, our house felt very empty. I believe the best way to honour Ruby would be to take in another dog in need. I had been reading about Charm, a blind Shih Tzu who had ended up at SAINTS. I contacted Carol and she said a volunteer was interested in fostering Charm but she had another dog, described as a Shih Tzu Cross, named Mustang Sally who needed a chance.
A few days later, I went out to meet Sally (who is now Gracie). She was super sweet, affectionate and despite the fact that she had ended up at the SPCA seemed remarkably issue-free. She came home with me that day. She had some medical issues: her skin was scabby and itchy from an untreated flea infestation. She had recently lost 16 teeth and was spayed. Her vulva was large and infected. She has since been to the vet for blood work and antibiotics for her vulva infection. Her skin is looking better and her vulva is calming down.
As soon as she arrived she wormed her way into our hearts. This dog, hands down, is the happiest dog I have ever met. She runs; she play bows; she fetches like a champ; and she is always on, except when she sleeps. She does love quiet cuddles and sleeping on the bed. She is really giving young Sawyer a run for his money. She is always trying to play with him. They became besties in the first hour. Her relationship with Sawyer was completely unexpected yet so amazing.
Gracie is not a Shih Tzu. She is actually mostly Lhasa Apso. The two breeds have lots in common as they were both bred to protect people: the Shih Tzus guarded palaces in China and the Lhasa Apso looked after Buddhist monks in their monasteries. The Lhasas are a bit bigger than their Chinese cousins and personality-wise they couldn’t be more different. Lhasa Apsos are fiercely loyal (as are Shih Tzus) and they have a very deep bark that you would expect to come from a much larger dog. They have excellent hearing and their job is to ‘sound a warning’. In Gracie’s case, she sounds a warning… at everything. Dogs barking outside, dogs barking inside, a fly moves in the kitchen, you get the idea. We are teaching her to be a little more discerning and she is getting the idea. We also don’t really want her to think she has to protect us. It is our job to protect her. Lhasa Apsos like to be with you all the time. It is only in the last couple of days that I can go to the bathroom without her. They also like to sit on your feet. I am not sure what this is about but I am sure it will come in handy when my feet are cold in the winter!
The only real issue that Gracie seems to have is that she is a bit dominant. Luckily for us we have experience with this kind of behaviour and can effectively manage it. It really manifests with bigger dogs for some reason. She seems to be mostly leaving Kiefer alone but poor Jesse he can’t move at the moment without her going after him. This will resolve as it did with Kiefer. She also likes to get up high on furniture or people and growl if other dogs come near.
Gracie has earned a couple of nicknames. I tend to call her Happy Gilmore in the morning or when I come home. She acts like you are returning from the war and she hasn’t seen you in years. She jumps, and dances and is generally exuberant. My other nickname for her is ‘itchy and scratchy’ as she loves to scratch in bed preferably whilst she is pressed into your back. I am sure Deb will pipe in with other nicknames!
So, this post can be summed up as follows: Gracie, the dog we never knew we wanted and who would fit so perfectly it was like she was meant to be with us.
- We are at my mother’s for the annual trip we do. My sister has a new mutt puppy who is so incredibly sweet. She and Sawyer and have been tearing up the yard playing chase; Sawyer loves to run and Gigi has never met a chase she didn’t like. The problem is that Gigi wants to play all the time and poor Sawyer, who is not an overly active dog, can’t seem to get any rest to save his soul. He tries to run down to the bedroom occasionally for respite. Secretly though, he is enjoying himself immensely!
- My brother-in-law loves to watch boxing. I don’t get it and I find the noise offensive. I now have my noise-canceling headphones on and I’m listening to music.
- Piper is also having a mostly good time. Maya attacked her like a little viper last night when she came in. We have really clamped down on Maya today and she has responded well.
- My sister is mostly holding it together. I just agree with her and all is fine. She really is stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place. Both her husband and our mother will not allow her to sit for any length of time. They treat her like a slave. She is volcanic in her behavior and no one is ever sure what might make her erupt. When she does go she spews vitriol everywhere and you just try to duck and not get hit.
- My mother really cannot stand the dogs. She doesn’t even want them to play in her general vicinity. I asked her if she liked watching them play and she said no. I don’t get that. I love to watch the dogs play; sometimes it is better than TV.
- The one thing I really don’t understand is why my mother is smoking while she wears oxygen. She complains about feeling crappy all the time and doesn’t get that she is causing herself all these difficulties. People can live a long time with COPD as long as they don’t smoke. She is not eating so when she catches something she literally has nothing to fight with. It worries me but I recognize there is nothing I can do about it. She is depressed and really has no interest in carrying on. She has never had to cope with any kind of health issues before and she is really not up for it.
- The best part of this trip will be getting to see some really great friends in Calgary on Tuesday. We are going to the Cactus Club for dinner.
 The maltese we got for my mother late last year.
- We said goodbye to Tru on Monday. She was ready to go. We thought she might have passed on her own over the weekend. She went very peacefully. I am pretty sure she lived for an extra 3 months because she liked it here. Rest in peace Tru, you were a very good dog.
- The last 2 days have been so warm! Uggh. I dread the annual arrival of summer. I just don’t cope in the heat. We are mostly ready though. We need to buy a new air conditioner for the kitchen. I also think the house may be warmer now that the big tree is gone out front.
- Given that summer appears to have arrived, I am trying to break my feet in to where my Birkenstocks this year. I have spoiled by the plush Naots with orthotics. I really missed wearing the Birks last year so they are on my feet today.
- Deb and I went to a fundraiser last night. It was a dance and the music was bluegrass and swing. I thought my ears were going to bleed. We lasted a grand total of 2 hours. I donated the dragon I made in filet crochet but it didn’t even get one bid! Deb thinks it was just the wrong crowd. However, the pug umbrella we donated sparked a bidding war. Who knew?
- All of the dogs are doing really well. We have such a nice group right now. They all get along very well. We are taking Ruby and Zoe to the vet on Monday. Ruby has a heart condition and needs a refill on meds. Zoe seems to cough a couple of times a day. It is not getting worse and it does not happen when she is active. I am thinking collapsing trachea but just want to be sure. We have had her for almost 3 years now, which means she is likely 12. Other than that she is totally fine being her princess, entitled little self.
- I am in my new office!!! This makes me very happy. We have tons of storage space in here. I have room for all my craft stuff and furniture. Plus it is purple!!!!
To celebrate this huge milestone, I thought I would give you the top 10 posts from the blog. I can hardly believe that I have been blogging since August 8, 2007.
#10 Mobile Me: Back to my Mac Views: 338 Published: April 14, 2010
It is amazing to me how quickly tech moves. Apple is retiring Mobile Me at the end of June in favour of iCloud. I am still not a huge fan of iCloud in that I don’t use it for documents or files I need/use on a daily basis. iCloud is not as straightforward as Dropbox. It only automatically syncs iWork documents. Since I move back and forth between Word and Pages and hate Numbers this does not work for me. Dropbox on the other hand is easy to save any file. Plus they recently doubled all the storage space you have earned through referrals!
#9 Extreme Begging and Other Dog Stories Views: 364 Published: June 9, 2008
Begging for food is a theme in our house. However, I have to say, no one does it better than Zoe!
#8 How do you solve a problem like Maria? Views: 397 Published: July 7, 2008
Well, I did continue to watch the show to the end. What can I say? I like a good train-wreck.
#7 Raw Feeding 101 Views: 444 Published: August 19, 2008
I have been accused of being a raw-feeding evangelist. I’ll own that.
#6 How do you solve a problem like Maria part 2 Views: 477 Published July 29, 2008
It was such a train-wreck.
#5 ICBC Hit and Run Coverage Views: 679 Published: October 4, 2010
I never did get the damage fixed. It was too minor to spend $300. I still hate ICBC.
#4 Living with a Dying Dog Views: 732 Published: January 5, 2010
We lost Gemma a couple of months later. She was such a great dog.
#3 The Inmates have taken over the Asylum Part 2 Views: 1673 Published: May 10, 2009
We have been so blessed to have known so many great dogs.
#2 My Mr. Lube Experience Views: 2557 Published: August 27, 2007
This post is still generating comments! I should blog more about cars!
#1 Dropbox vs iDisk Views: 2697 Published: April 12, 2010
As I mentioned above tech moves so quickly these days. Dropbox has certainly held up for me. I cannot imagine moving to another file system at this point. Plus given the recent doubling of space, I have 13.75 GBs of space and I am not using half of that at this point.
Thank you to everyone who has been reading my ramblings over the last 1000 posts. I look forward to the next 1000 posts!
- I have to say, I thought it would take much longer to fix Ruby. A couple of evenings of ‘puppy massage’ and she is now rolling over on to her back for belly rubs. She is wiggling around and trying to scratch her back. She has become way more engaged. Now when we move, she follows us, ever hopeful some morsel will fall into her perpetually open little maw. She still chooses to sleep in her door less crate but she is pretty tuned in to what is going on. She does the best little dance when she comes in wanting her treat. Now, if she would just learn her name.
- Tru is holding her own. She has never met a carb she didn’t like. This is a dog who will eat fried potatoes over bacon; cookies over steak; and pasta over roast chicken. We have never come across a dog who has such strange tastes in food. We are not sure if she was starved or if she survived on garbage. I think she ate whatever her people ate and maybe they were vegetarian.
- Tru and Ruby are now official members of The Swamp pack. They have been adopted. They have fit in quite well.
- Everyone else is doing really well. We think Zoe may not be as old as we were told. She has not changed at all in the almost 3 years she has been here. Piper is losing some weight so she doesn’t have difficulty breathing in the heat this year.
- It has been so nice since we hooked up to the city sewer a couple of months ago. We have no more stench that migrates into the house. This time last year when we decide opening a window might be great we no longer have to listen to the noisy neighbours because we can open one up on the quiet side of the house. In the past, there was no way we could open those windows as the smell was overpowering. Sadly the backyard is still a swamp.
- The frogs have been singing for weeks now. The ribbits are definitely the sound of spring at The Swamp.
We have the next new greatest diet plan ever living here at The Swamp! Zoe is our secret weapon. I think if we could market her to normal people we would make a small fortune. Here is why: whenever I eat something she claws my legs and barks at me non-stop until I give her what I am eating. She usually will allot me 5 minutes before she starts her tirade.
If I am eating in the living room she starts by popping up on her back legs and clawing at my chair. This invariably annoys me quickly because we have leather furniture. Then she barks. About every 10 seconds she will let out one bark.
When that fails she will jump up on my footrest and paw my stomach. When that fails to work to her satisfaction she will launch onto my chest. This means that all 20 pounds of her lands on my lungs with her face right in my face. Then I put her down and we start over again, wash, rinse, repeat.
Yesterday I was eating breakfast at my desk. Zoe detected that I could possibly be eating and came into my office. She started clawing at my lower leg. She then stretched up on her back legs and clawed my chair and started barking. I ignored her for a while as I tried to enjoy my eggs and tater tots. Shihtzus are knows for their tenacity and Zoe has that in spades. Finally, I give in and give her a piece of egg. She sniffs it and turns her head away. She doesn’t even like eggs! Then I gave her a tater tot. She didn’t want that either. I thought I was free now that she knew I wasn’t interested I thought I would be permitted to finish my meal in peace and quiet. Huh, was I ever wrong.
Here is the thing I have learned about living with Zoe: she always gets her way. It does not matter what we do to try to change a behavior we always lose. If I were to put her out of the room while I ate she would create such a raucous noise that there would be no peace for anyone in the house. One time I thought I was going to outsmart her when she was up on my footrest clawing at my stomach for my food. I decided I would suddenly lower the footrest so she landed on the floor. I did it once, I did it a second time and the third time, instead of landing on the floor she launched on my head. I lost.
Such is life with a Shihtzu. They are crafty and tenacious. Zoe is a prime example of a self-actualized Shihtzu. She has come a long way from her former puppy mill life. Thanks again to Turtle Gardens for rescuing our little despot. Yvette’s dreams of her becoming a ‘yuppy puppy’ have long been achieved.
So does anyone want to try the Zoe Diet™?
 I have actually become very good at ignoring her barking. It fades to background noise for a while anyway.
 Which in her little mind means she has not been fed fast enough.
 I then tell her: “Zoe, don’t do that it! It hurts mommy.” But she is an evil, Machiavellian dictator and she does not care. For her the ends definitely justify the means!
 See footnote 2.
 Sometimes I think she wants to take the food right out of my mouth.
 I am dreading capri season!
 I’d probably gain weight.