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.

DSC_3846

Finished afghan

Finished afghan

 

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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 ‘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.

Published in: on November 1, 2012 at 4:21 pm  Comments (3)  
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Things I have learned from my dogs

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![1] 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,[2] 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’[3] 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.


[1] Just ask my best friend Joe!

[2] 7.5 pounds on a good day.

[3] Don’t worry, no shih tzus were harmed in this activity.

Published in: on September 30, 2012 at 12:14 pm  Comments (2)  
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