- 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.
I am home. Back in the land of wet and green. I will write tomorrow about some of my observations. Right now I have a date with my chair, TV and crochet hook! Oh and dogs! Lots of dogs no doubt.
Being home for any length of time makes me realize how completely enslaved we are to the animals who make The Swamp their home. It seems like we are either getting up to let the dogs out or in and every single time we get up, Edith the guinea pig screams for lettuce. Here is a breakdown of their demanding behaviour:
Jesse – He is a princess. Yesterday I went out and took Piper with me. He screamed so loud and insistently he woke Deb from a sound sleep. Thinking he must be caught in a leg hold trap she frantically went to find him. She did think, just for a moment, that perhaps I had fallen and he was sounding the alarm but then realized he wouldn’t do that! He sounds like a freaking Banshee when he really lets go. I have suggested putting a pea under his bed to see if he would notice.
Sawyer – We were joking around about how well Sawyer would do in the wild. After all, who would turn on his electric ‘bankie’ for him so he isn’t cold? He also loves to play with Deb when it comes to eating. He seems to not really like to eat, so Deb caters to his every gastronomic whim and it usually involves hand feeding. I somehow think he would die without lightly seared pork and beef. He will occasionally deign to eat a couple of raw chicken legs.
Kiefer – To put it bluntly – Kiefer is a knob. He barks just to hear himself talk. After he eats he will bark from the back porch for someone to come and get him even though the door is open. When he barks to go out or come in, he means it, as in do it now suckers!
Zoe – is perhaps our most demanding dog. If you even have dinner at The Swamp, you will be treated to the dulcet tones of her non-stop barking. If that doesn’t work then she claws at the furniture trying to get to you or attempts to rip open your leg. If she gets on the footrest of my chair, she will launch on to my head. For a full explanation of her behavior check this post out.
Edith – The guinea pig rules us. She screams so loud for lettuce every single time anyone moves in the living room. If the service is not fast enough, and it never is, she has now taken to flicking her shavings out of her enclosure. Edith has also decided she only really likes the boxed baby greens. I tried to give her some romaine off a head of lettuce and she refused to eat it. We have learned to give in because she will always win.
Gracie and Piper are not demanding at all. Gracie really just wants to be with you and by with you, I mean on you. She needs to cuddle. Piper demands nothing except for some attention some times when she thinks others are getting more than she is but this is rare. She does also like the odd treat when no one else is around. I am happy to oblige.
I have been a little moody/bitchy since Sunday. This is not normally me. I realize that a great deal of why I am feeling so crappy is that I have not had any time off since June that did not involve my mother. I tried to get a couple of weeks leave without pay in September but the powers that be said no. I still have some vacation days left so I have asked for next week off. If I don’t get it, I am going to be very upset.
So, in the meantime, I have decided that if I focus on some positive things my outlook may be different. Here is the list:
- I am grateful for my wife. I am a fortunate woman because I get to share my life with someone who loves me fiercely. We support each other and laugh so much.
- I am grateful for our dogs. Without dogs, I would just merely exist rather than live. They make me smile and laugh every single day.
- Music and the amazing dock in my office. I also have really good speakers in my car.
- The NHL Lockout
- CBC Radio One
- The end of the US campaign!
- Dogs love you unconditionally – to them you are a hero.
- Everything you do is interesting to your dog. Want to go to the bathroom alone? Forget it that’s very interesting.
- Every single dog is an individual. They all have their quirks and little weird behaviors that make them incredibly endearing.
- They provide free entertainment for your guests. At our house, Sawyer always treats guests to the ‘humpy bunny’ show. Not to be missed at The Swamp!
- They will assist you with your diet. It is really hard to eat a lot with 12 eyes staring at you expectantly.
- I love sleeping with the dogs. The little snores and breathing sounds are very comforting.
- The happy dog dance that ensues whether you have been gone for 5 minutes or 5 hours. It never fails to make my heart sing.
- The gentle affection between dogs is so powerful.
- The sheer joy on their faces as they chase each other through the house and we try not to get tripped.
- The way your dog looks up at you like you are their universe.
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?
Over the years, Deb and I have been fortunate to share our lives with many dogs. We have had many foster dogs who eventually went to new homes. Mostly though if we foster a dog we generally end up adopting it. We don’t generally foster young dogs, instead we focus on senior animals who need stability and security in their last years. Every dog we have had the pleasure of knowing has taught me something. Dogs are patient and wise; unlike us, they do not demand that you get their lesson immediately. Dogs have seen the very worst and the very best humankind has to offer yet no matter what they have been through, the violence and cruelty they have been subjected to most dogs still have an ability to trust us.
Tippy – unconditional love is a powerful healer
Tippy was my very first dog as an adult. She was a Maltese/Shih Tzu cross. I had just started university when Tippy came tome via a friend. This dog showed me the wonder that is unconditional love. During the first couple of years she was with me, I was going through counselling trying to deal with my fucked up childhood. Tip probably soaked up more tears than she should have. We were inseparable. She came to work with me, we went to grad school together, she was my constant companion. She was fiercely loyal and I adored her. Others were not so fond of her though. She was a little, shall we say, on the dominant side. Her place in the car was the front passenger seat and she did not like it if someone else was in that place. She would make their lives miserable! She also didn’t appreciate it if I had someone sleep with me – she would growl at them all night. For such a small dog, she certainly had a big presence.
The Chunk – embrace life and enjoy things with abandon
The Chunk was my accidental Shih Tzu. Dog lovers know the kind, the dog and breed you never knew you wanted! The Chunk was a force to be reckoned with. Typical of her breed, she was incredibly stubborn and tenacious. The Chunk was all about doing what felt good – she was a true hedonist. We were happily her slaves. When she really enjoyed things she did so with abandon. She loved to play on the bed in a little game we used to call ‘shih tzu abuse’ which involved pushing her away, trying to grab her paws and body slamming her. She would never do this in front of the other dogs for some reason. She exemplified the idea that to live life to its fullest you sometimes had to do it with abandon.
Piper – loyalty to those you love is not negoitable
Piper has taught me so many things, it is hard to know where to begin. I think I will start with patience. Piper took 3 years to completely toilet train. We all spent hours upon hours outside, in the rain, the heat, the snow, telling Piper to go pee. Twenty minutes was a good morning. She would sniff, eat grass, run the fence with Diesel next door. It also seemed that just as she was getting ready to pee something would distract her and we would be starting all over again. Piper is also incredibly loyal and attuned to me. If I am sick, she is always right beside me. She does not ask for attention she is just there. If I do not go up to bed the same time as Deb she will stay with me even though she really wants to go up for treats. She tolerates all the other dogs who want to be with me because she knows that she is my #1 dog in the house. Occasionally she gets tired of the interlopers and will launch herself on me for some love and snuggles.
Zoe – it takes focus to meet your goals
I adore Zoe. She came to us from Turtle Gardens 3 years ago. She was a former breeding dog who had lived a rough life. Once she got here, she quickly put her past behind her and became the diva she was always meant to be. I have blogged before about Zoe and how she gets her own way all the time. Zoe seems to have a unique skill wherein she can punish us if we don’t give her what she wants. Most of the time it is just easier to give in so at least she will stop for a while. This dog has such single-minded focus it is scary. If it was her job to cure cancer it would be done. World peace? She was just bark until everyone put down their guns.
Jesse – embrace change to meet your needs
Jesse is the newest addition to The Swamp. We adopted him through Bully Buddies. Jesse has had a hard life, you can tell just by looking at him. He worries about everything. Losing his Dad has been very difficult for him. Yet he has been able to come here and adapt. Jesse is 8 and he has some pain issues from the botched surgery on his back legs. He has never lived with multiple dogs yet he is managing here just fine; he has great patience with Sawyer who is in love with him. He hates to be left alone and has severe separation anxiety yet he will go into his crate without much fuss. He is even bonding with us. However we know that should he ever see his Dad again he would be over the moon and then crushed even more if he couldn’t go with him. Jesse has taught us that making the best of a bad situation, being adaptable and rolling with change is what we all have to do. Jesse is trying so hard to be resilient and still enjoy life.
We are back up to six canines at The Swamp. This means a lot of getting up and down to let them in and out. Obviously we try to get as many dogs out at a time to minimize the trips however they always seem to have other ideas:
Kiefer is ultimately lazy and he only does things on HIS schedule. Often we will have just let most of the dogs out and back in. Ten minutes later in Kiefer time he wants out. If he deigns to go out with everyone else he won’t come back in when the door opens again. Instead he lays in the grass until I have sat back down, become comfortable again and picked up my crochet hook. It never fails.
She will go out with everyone but she won’t come back in. She likes to hang out in the yard ridding it of every possible threat. She barks and carries on particularly if the German Shepard dog is outside next door. Her other favourite pass time is barking at the coyotes who are yipping somewhere. She also takes forever to pee. Her toilet training is rock solid but man don’t try to hurry that dog up!
Or Mr. Whiny Pants as I like to call him. Sawyer is afraid of the cold. In the winter trying to get him out from underneath his heated blanket is Herculean feat. His toilet training is still suspect so he must go out or he will sneak off to have an accident in the bathroom. Pretty much with him you get to stand and watch him pee, which is quick thankfully, and he comes right back in. If you don’t wait you will just be walking back in about 30 seconds when he decides to bark and cry. Then there are the nights he wants to go out multiple times for no apparent reason. He can whine like no dog I have ever heard.
Zoe is a Shih Tzu. This breed seems to have something against getting their feet wet. The rainy season here is a nightmare. She will not go off the step and she sometimes pees right there so everyone else gets to dodge it. At least she generally responds well to the lets go out excitement and doesn’t take forever!
When Gracie arrived at The Swamp she seemed to have stellar toilet training. She would race outside, pee and whatever and come right back in. It was all a ruse. She is now in boot camp, which means she is made to get up in the morning which she hates and we are teaching her to pee on command. She is not so happy to go out and pee now. She is starting to get the command now so it is taking much less time. Of course I am comparing her to Piper who used to take 30 minutes to pee when we had her in boot camp!
Jesse is a rock star! He goes out and comes in quickly. Although, I have never seen a dog who pees for as long as he does, I swear sometimes it is 90 seconds of peeing. I am not sure what is up with that. It might be his kidney disease.
In other news I have been reading all the entries posted on the Dog Shaming blog. I have to say that I feel pretty damn good about our dogs! No one has eaten the furniture, our underwear or eaten anyone’s false teeth! Our crew are angels.
 Hmm, he is a Newfoundland after all…
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.