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.

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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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Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘Tuber Edition’

  • Ruby (aka Tuber)[1] is doing so much better. Some of you may remember the post I wrote a couple of months ago: Fixing Ruby. Ruby had never known that human beings could give her good things in life. She has come so far. Gone is the sad little dog who wanted to hide in her crate all the time.[2] We now have a bright-eyed[3] confident little dog. Her tail is up and her ears almost stick straight out from her body. She loves life. She is following in the tracks of many dogs at The Swamp who try to kill the humans by sticking so close to their feet that we trip over them. She goes to the park and enjoys herself immensely. I would regale you with pictures but she hates the camera.
  • My health has really improved lately. Sticking to a routine has really helped my fatigue levels. I no longer sleep in on weekends. I used to sleep 12+ hours on the weekend just to be able to work all week. This morning I was awake and up at 8:30, which is early for me. Clearly all of the things I have been doing to look after myself have worked. Getting back in touch with the things that make me happy and contented was a good plan. Luckily, I will likely never run out of things to crochet for people. I have started on a new Realta afghan for my best friend Joe. I am making it queen size, which means it is roughly 4 times the size of the last one.
  • Piper has lost 2 pounds! This is ½ of the weight she needed to lose according to the vet who did her soft-palate resection last year. Her breathing is so much better even in this heat.
  • The rest of the dogs are doing well. Ruby and Zoe are hardly coughing at all now on their Lasix. Kiefer seems to surviving the heat ok. He likes to lay on the cool tile by the front door or in the living room in the shade. If it gets much warmer I will have to set up the air conditioner in the living room for him. Sawyer is still cold. He is always looking for a blanket to go under.

[1] Tuber as in potato. She is about as bright as one. But she is sweet, so very, very sweet!

[2] She still won’t sleep anywhere unless it is a dog bed.

[3] But very deaf …

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘dogs are having a great time’ edition

–       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[1] 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.

 


[1] The maltese we got for my mother late last year.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘I think we fixed Ruby’ edition

  • 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.
Published in: on April 22, 2012 at 12:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Dispatches from The Swamp – the ‘update edition’

  • Things have been going relatively well at The Swamp. We had a minor roof leak that was caused by some shingles being too tight up against the chimney. The roofing company I called fixed it for free. They say we need a new roof but I don’t really buy it. Good news is that the leak is fixed.
  • We had a huge willow tree that had to come down. It had been dropping huge branches and I was worried it might just come down on our house or across the road. It was a huge liability. The Urban Lumberjack in Maple Ridge did a fabulous job of getting it down. However, one of the rotten branches fell on the hydro and cable lines knocking both of them out. Hydro was back on quickly but they decide to cut the cable line.[1] When I first called Shaw to get it reconnected they were quoting a date of March 2. Anyway, I worked my magic and they were here the next morning at 8am. I am really glad the tree is down now as it is really windy here today.
  • Tru has picked up. She is eating more often than not. Her stitches are out so she could finally have a much-needed bath. She absolutely reeked! Now we will know whether her swampy smell is coming from her needing a bath or her horrible teeth. Regardless, she is soaking up the love and companionship at The Swamp. She still likes to greet you by tasting your hand. It is cute.
  • We bought a home theatre system last week. We set it up without too much difficulty.[2] The speaker stands took much, much longer to set up! The system is amazing. It has solved the problem of the TV being too loud for Deb as I now have a speaker beside my right ear. Music sounds absolutely fabulous! Diamond Stereo is a fabulous place to get great advice and products.
  • We also decided I should get better car stereo speakers.[3] They went in yesterday and they sound so much better. The sound is much richer. I have actually heard things in my music that I did not know where there. Music is so important to my self-care that these investments in my sanity are very important.
  • I have been feeling much better the last couple of weeks. I really hope it is a result of some nutrition changes.[4] I have had more energy for work. Getting up and going has not been the burden it is at other times. I do seem to experience a winter improvement in my ulcerative colitis. I am hoping it is not just the winter bump.
  • All of the dogs are doing well. Zoe is a bit of a worry at times because she is old but she is fine. Kiefer gets a little sore after going to the park. Piper and Sawyer are such a bonded little duo. They love hanging out together especially in Deb’s truck. We are so lucky to have such a great crew of dogs! The Cat is still doing well. She is as demanding as ever and is showing no signs of being sick. She is still using her litter!

[1] Hydro says it was for safety reasons, tree guy said it was laziness. I am going with the tree guy.

[2] The only error we made was putting 2 of the speakers on the far right ports as per the diagram. However, our receiver can actually take 6 speakers (plus a sub-woofer) so the first 2 ports on the right are not used if you are setting it up as a 5.1. It took a little thinking to figure it out and we (buy we I mean Angelina) fixed it the next morning.

[3] And by we I actually mean Deb.

[4] I have started drinking smoothies made of yogurt and fruit in the morning. The suggestion came from my friend Lisa.

Published in: on February 25, 2012 at 4:53 pm  Comments (1)  
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More Pictures

I am busy crocheting this today.

My newest project!

I am two-thirds of the way done, so the push is on.

Instead of a blog, I give you more awesome dog photos!

"I want my agent."

"I have a very large tongue, apparently."

"I have no idea why I am in this pose."

"I am truly one of the beautiful people."

"You don't really think you can get away from me, do you?"

Posting may be light over the rest of the weekend. We have people coming for dinner tomorrow for Thanksgiving!

Published in: on October 8, 2011 at 5:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Pictures!!!

We had a photo shoot with the Food Lady recently. She adeptly captures all the different personalities of our dogs! If you want great pictures of your dog get in touch with her. Enjoy!

Piper - in motion

Great picture of the Punk running. She always looks kind of goofy when she runs.

Sawyer in a quiet pose

Sawyer in a quiet moment. I love the teeth.

Zoe running

I Seriously, this picture should have the soundtrack to Chariots of Fire playing. Zoe rarely runs anywhere which makes this picture rather rare. Her tail is so perfect! I have working on getting her tail to grow out well and we are there. I adore this picture (and the dog!!).

Talk to the paw!

What can I say? This dog is adorable.

Kiefer

We were trying to get some action shots that day but it didn’t work. Oh well.

Look forward to more new pictures!

Published in: on October 7, 2011 at 7:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘it is not good enough’ edition

  • I had today off. Yay! I was clearly tired as I slept from midnight until 12:30 pm. I was up at 2:30 to use the washroom and then I slept straight through without waking up or moving for 10 more hours! I am clearly still having fatigue issues. I have been ok at work as long as I got to bed around 10 or 10:30 but maybe it is not enough. I am hoping it is just still the adjustment period and that my stamina will improve.
  • In other related news, all the weird pains have stopped. As of today, I am doing really well – no arm pain, no shoulder pain, and no wrist pain. My knee has a little pain but nothing major. I really hope this episode of my life is over. I have a theory about the arm pain but I am not sure if I am right.
  • The plea by Carrie Gelson, a teacher in Vancouver’s inner city, yesterday has resulted in some much-needed donations going to her children. However, this is not the solution. When you systematically defund social service programs like income assistance you have children in poverty. The average parent on welfare gets $84 a year for young children and $116 for children over 12 to start school. Most schools require at least $200 just for school supplies. There is no way they can afford to buy new clothes, boots, and shoes for the $100 a year clothing allowance per person. Even children who are in low-income working families, the problems are similar. There is just no way that everything can be covered when you are making minimum wage in this province. There is also no reason why kids should be going to school hungry, without appropriate clothing and school supplies. How are children supposed to learn when their needs are not being met? How can they participate in class when they are so hungry they cannot think? Or so tired they can barely stay awake? It is unbelievable that in a country as rich as Canada there is no reason we should have systemic poverty. We must pressure our politician to do better. Where is Christy Clark and her families first agenda? We must do better.
  • I have come to the conclusion that Piper is an orangutan. We took her in the car today and she was pulling like a freaking tank! We went into Bosley’s and she was pulling so hard that I couldn’t even gather up cans of cat food. I think she is even more bratty now than before her surgery!
Published in: on September 27, 2011 at 7:40 pm  Comments (2)  
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