Dispatches from The Swamp – the ‘little bit of this and a little bit of that’ edition


–       We had our favourite photographer, Sheena Staples of Big Air Photograpy, back to The Swamp. We have great pictures of most of the dogs. However we have had some new editions since the last time Sheena was here. We asked her to focus on getting pictures of Jesse’s teeth when he plays.[1] See what I mean?

See the teeth?
See the teeth?
And more teeth.
And more teeth.
Our ripped boy!
Our ripped boy!

–       I have to say that even I am stunned by Rob Ford’s latest gaffes. I am sure he thought he was being funny when said he had ‘enough [pussy] to eat at home.’ I bet he rehearsed it in his crack cocaine, alcohol soaked brain and thought it would give everyone some comic relief. Instead it just showed him to be an even more crass, misogynistic jerk. I have said it before: I feel so sad for his immediate family. His wife and daughter must be humiliated. I fear for what his behavior is teaching his son.

–       Something has been seriously up this week with my ulcerative colitis. My pain levels have been through the roof. I am finding very little relief even with strong pain medication.

–       We have started swimming at least once a week. It has been quite magical for me. I grew up in the water. We had swim lessons starting at a very young age. My mother was afraid of water and she made sure that we were not and that we were able to swim. I feel strong and graceful in the water.

[1] Jesse does this thing with his teeth/lips when he is excited about playing. It is so freaking funny!

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘this and that’ edition


Piles of granny squares
Piles of granny squares

I have been neglecting my blog as of late. I want to post about all sorts of political and feminist things but I am tired. I am tired of the governmental corruption, patriarchal bullshit and our politicians thinking we are stupid. The state of affairs for women is deplorable; the dominant discourse is doing its best to keep us in check. It seems that any ground we gain in one area is lost in another. All over the world, women are being raped, beaten and subjugated and I feel powerless. I am still fighting the good fight in my tiny corner of the world but it is not enough. We need a revolution.

Instead of political commentary, I shall regale you all with tales from The Swamp!

• Jesse is awesome! He is doing so well. We have started playing fetch in the backyard and he loves it. He is getting much better about actually bringing back the ball. He actually caught some air yesterday, jumping a foot off the ground to catch a ball. The downside is that he is obsessed with playing ball. He is now barking and whining at the pail of balls on the barbecue. He is a happy, happy boy!
• Gracie has also come leaps and bounds. Her anxiety-based chewing on herself has lessened a great deal. The key is to keep her brain stimulated and lots of love and attention. Luckily she landed at The Swamp where all of this is abundantly available. She loves to cuddle with us (mostly Deb) although I do get my daily cuddles too. This dog never stops moving. She wants to play all the time. Her toilet training has improved greatly and she seems settled for the most part. She still does not like going in the car. I think she associates the car with bad things although who can really know. She whines and cries the whole time. Hopefully she will begin to realize that trips in the car mostly end at the dog park and then she comes home.
• Everyone else is doing well. Zoe still has quite the spring in her step given her age. Piper has lost a little more weight and is looking like a skinny pug these days. I have been taking her to work once a week and she really enjoys it. She gets to be the centre of attention for a whole day. Sawyer and Kiefer are also doing well. They like to cuddle together in odd positions!
• I have discovered David’s Tea. Oh my god is all I can say! The Earl Grey is to die for; it is so full of flavour. I can never see going back to Twining’s. I doubt I will ever drink coffee again!
• We have been watching some outstanding TV as of late. The Americans, a new show on FX, is about 2 embedded KGB spies raising a family and posing as Americans. It really does a great job of capturing the Cold War and the tension of the 80s. Justified is another great FX show particularly if you like hillbillies and the American south. He is an unconventional US Marshall. I am still digging the Walking Dead, Deb not so much. Deb is now watching Weeds from the beginning, which has been quite amusing.
• I am making another afghan now. For some reason, I find it very comforting to make piles and piles of granny squares. Then I turn them into an afghan. This one will take a while as I am making it for our queen-sized guest bedroom.


Finished afghan
Finished afghan


Dispatches from The Swamp – the ‘little of this, a little of that’ edition

  • 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.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘re-entry is hard’ edition

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.
Tosh and Piper
Tosh and Piper
  • 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.

Dispatches from The Swamp – the ‘demanding residents’ edition

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.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘things for which I am grateful’ edition

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Music and the amazing dock in my office. I also have really good speakers in my car.
  4. The NHL Lockout
  5. CBC Radio One
  6. The end of the US campaign!

Dispatches from The Swamp – the ‘I hope’ edition

  • The most important thing for which I am hopeful today is that Barack Obama is re-elected tomorrow. This US election has been even more insane than normal. The attacks on women’s reproductive rights have been outrageous from blatantly false and crazy assertions that women’s bodies have supernatural powers and insistence that women carry babies they don’t want. I wonder how men would feel if women made decisions that forced them to undergo unwanted vasectomies. A Romney presidency would be a catastrophe of epic proportions for the United States and the world. We could expect an invasion of Iran,[1] further roll backs to the already patchy US safety net, and more economic disaster for the poor. At least Obama has the ‘incumbent’ factor, which generally favours the re-election of a sitting president.
  • I am hoping I can take next week off. I have had not had any significant time off in months that did not involve my mother. I do still have to go to Calgary weekend after next but if I can get a rest first that would be good.
  • Listening to Christy Clark announce the new Destination BC,[2] I am hoping she loses her voice. I am so tired of listening to her feign excitement when, really, she has nothing to be excited about and she sounds fake.

[1] Not that Obama’s foreign policy has been all that great either.

[2] Ya, we used to have Tourism BC.

Dispatches from The Swamp – the ‘dog update’ edition

Well, it’s November again. The rains have begun in earnest. It is also National Blog Posting Month[1] 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[2] 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[3] 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?

[1] Or NaBloPoMo for the cool kids.

[2] His pain is controlled by tramadol. He is not needing the metacam now which is great news for his kidneys.

[3] We now have the lovely task of putting Surolan on her vulva because she is obsessed with her vulva.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘can’t you all go out at once?’ edition

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[1] 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.

[1] Hmm, he is a Newfoundland after all…