Tuesday, February 28, 2012

New way to stress my dog out!

I think Lee thinks I stay up at night looking for fun new ways to make her life miserable! I assure her I don't and that it is just life happening that stresses her out.

Yesterday I had to say goodbye to my beloved HHR (I loved that car!). 5 minutes after picking up the new car it was time for agility. This gave me just enough time to put the seat cover on the backseat (my goal is to try and keep this car cleaner than my old one . . . ). Then it was time for Lee to get in.

She was a little nervous jumping in (the new one is an SUV so she has to jump higher) and she was clearly very stressed as we drove to school. I thought she was going to pant herself to death. Needless to say it was not the most relaxing first drive (in crappy weather may I add). She was a little better on the way home (perhaps tired after agility) and was a little better today when we went to the dog park this morning. It never crossed my mind that she would be so stressed in a different car.

Hopefully both she and I will grow to love this new car!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Emma - Puppy Play

We haven't seen Emma for a few weeks, but it is reported that she is doing well (she looks HUGE). Here is a video my brother in law sent me of her playing.         video

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Living with a terminally ill pet


While the focus of this blog is really on Hailey and her adventures, from time to time I like to share the adventures we had in the 9 years of dog ownership pre-Hailey.  Today is a story that I wish I didn't have to share, but is one that may help others through a difficult time.

For those who read my blog regularly, you have heard me mention Loki. Loki was our first dog. He was diagnosed with an immune disorder when he was 5 and a half and again when he was 7 and a half. The second time we were given a one year prognosis. So for 11 months our focus was on keeping Loki as healthy and happy as possible. FYI: Our vet at Ottawa Vet Hospital says his disease was the weirdest he has ever treated (lucky us!)

Looking back at our year of living with a terminally ill pet, here are some things I learned:

1) Trust your instincts. If you believe something is wrong with your pet, follow through and get tests. The first vet I saw the second time he got sick (my vet was away for a couple weeks), didn't believe me that something was wrong. I waited and went back to my vet who saw something was wrong and started testing.

2) Know your limits. If these are financial or just acceptable quality of life for your pet, have that in your head. This will help you make decisions during those emotional moments (for example, I thought blood doping was beyond what I was comfortable with and after a first biopsy confirmed he was dying, I refused to put him through the pain of a second to figure out how quickly).

3) Find a vet your trust and don't be afraid to ask for a second opinion! If they are insulted by this, you don't want to do business with them.

4) Be prepared for changes in other pets behaviour. Try and give the others the love and attention they need during this time. Gemini developed obsessive drinking (8 cups of water a day for her little 16 lbs self) which lead to tones of accidents and her hair fell out. We had her tested for lots of things, but it turned out she just was stressed.

5) I wish I had looked at cremation options before the day we said goodbye. I recommend asking your vet for the brochures before and "pre-planning." (This was much easier with Gemini because I knew what I wanted and didn't have to make that decision in the moments before the final goodbye).

6) Take lots of pictures. The picture I have attached above shows my very sick puppy  and does make me sad, but it also is a reminder of the life he and we lived for parts of those 11 months.

7) Take care of yourself. Because I got so wrapped up in the caring for the dying, I probably didn't always manage my own stress levels appropriately. In fact I didn't realize the stress I was under until a few days after he died and I felt that sense of relief. Care for the caregivers is important.

8) Spoil the heck out of them! We had to balance keeping Loki healthy with giving him a great quality of life. Since he had an immune disorder we were concerned about exposing him to other dogs/situations. There came a point however when I remember thinking, he is dying anyway, I would rather give him fewer great days than more ok days. The last couple months we also let him eat whatever he wanted!

9) Know when it is time to say goodbye. I always said I would know, and the truth was, it was Loki who told me. He had slowly been getting sicker and then he had the best day he had in weeks followed by the worst night ever. Sometime around dawn, he looked and me and we both knew, today was the day.

10) Take time to say goodbye. I knew about 5 am that it was time to say goodbye. We said goodbye about 5:30 pm that day. While I didn't want to prolong his suffering I wanted to make sure that we had those last few precious hours to say goodbye.

Caring for a dying pet and saying goodbye is not easy. It is one of those things people don't like to talk about. Unfortunately sometimes it is part of the journey. Wishing all your pets great health!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Feline Friday - A day in the life of Nin

6:00 am - Start meowing and carrying on. I am starving, these people never feed me, I am going to die.

7:00 am: My people are up, meow like crazy, lead them to the food dish. Oh look there is food left, maybe I should have checked before freaking out and thinking I was starving, oh well. 

7:02 am - Eat breakfast so fast that I immediately throw it up.

7:15 am: Lady is on the couch reading the paper. Climb on her and take about 5 minutes to settled down on her lap purring. 

8:00 am: Lady has gotten up and ruined my life, to show her I will go to the litter box and pee beside it.
Lee and Nin fighting over space!

8:20 am: Nap time. I will curl up on my pillow on the table and sleep all day.

4:00 pm: Oh my goodness, it is late and my people haven't fed me, I need to carry on and tell them. They are feeding me, oh look, there is food left, I really need to learn to check.

4:20 pm: My least favourite part of the day, Lee is hyper and will keep trying to hump me.

4:30-9:30 pm: This is my free time. I might cuddle on the couch, I might clean Gheera's ears, I might sit on people's lap, I might have to hide if Lee is humpy.

9:30 pm: Oh it looks like my people might be going to bed, but they didn't feed me, I am going to starve to death, oh my, I am freaking out. Oh, look they are feeding me and look, I still have food left. I need to learn to remember that! 

10:00 pm - Bed time, can't wait for the morning.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Agility

After nearly a year's break, Hailey started agility again this week. It was clear she remembered exactly what to do. (Does this dog forget anything????)  She didn't have to sit in a penalty box like Nosey Dog, but we did keep her to the side and she was not too embarrassing!

Here is a video of her showing off:)

video

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Stressing the dog out

I found a fun way to stress Lee out, painting.

It started when I took everything out of the closet and the hall. It got worse when I started putting putty on the wall to fix the spots where Gemi ate (as well as picture holes etc). I am happy to report that since I don't say no often to Lee, a stern "No" got her to stop trying to lick the putty off the wall. She had to go and sulk.

At one point she got down the hall, and told her to leave, but she stood frozen. As I approached her, brush in hand, she got scared and backed into wet wall. I threatened a bath, but man was able to wipe the yellow off her bum. She didn't try and go down the hall after this. In fact she just avoided it all (which was good).

She was clearly happy when the project was over and she could relax (so was I, am have never really painted and I wasn't good at it, next time I think I will hire someone) .

The cats didn't seem to notice anything was going on. I got paint on Gheera as he passed through from the basement (I am not going to win awards for being a neat painter), but other than that, they stayed far away.

Oh the fun of a long weekend!


Monday, February 20, 2012

Happy Family Day

From our pack to yours, wishing you a day of snuggles and belly rubs!


Baggy, Nin and Lee

Friday, February 17, 2012

Feline Friday - Who done it?


The crime scene: A kitchen in Ottawa.
Crime was discovered at approximately 7 am on a Saturday morning.

The suspects:

Hailey Bug: This pouch has a reputation for getting into things. Unlike most nights, she was not locked in the room with her people. She had refused to come to bed and was left sleeping on the couch. 

Bags and Nin: This crime duo has a reputation of getting into the garbage. 

When questioned:

Hailey Bug said: I was back upstairs when this occurred, it can't be me. I would never do something bad like get into the garbage. 

Bags said: It was that stupid dog. You should get rid of her. 

Nin: What mess? What is the garbage? 

The people now make sure there is nothing "exciting" in the garbage at night and Lee is made to go to bed. Lesson learned.

 



Thursday, February 16, 2012

New very bad habit

In the last week or so Lee has developed a very loud and annoying habit. While we are sitting eating she will come up and bark at us. I swear she barks extra loud. I tried to get a video of her doing it tonight, but since it is not a constant bark, it is periodic barks and I was eating it didn't happen.

My current strategy for dealing with this is a behavioural term called extinction. This means withholding whatever was reinforcing this behaviour. I am assuming this behaviour has been reinforced by either attention or treats, so when she barks, even though it makes my head want to explode I ignore her and pretend nothing happened.

I hope this habit goes away as quickly as it appeared!


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Don't romantize me!

I have found myself falling into a trap I hate - I find myself remembering my dearly departed dogs as perfect.  This is one of those things I hate when humans die. None of us are perfect and yet so often in death that is what people talk about/remember. Now I am not saying,  think ill of the dead, but I do try and remember people as complex and less than perfect beings. I would hope that if I died, that while my family and friends would remember and cherish my great qualities such as my dedication, humour, passion, that they wouldn't overlook the fact that I can be anal, my OCD type stuff drives them crazy and my impatience and perfectionism can be annoying. Those "quirks" are what makes me, me.

Loki and Gemi were not perfect. Don't get me wrong, they were both good dogs. They were loveable and cuddly, but not without their annoying "quirks". On this day of love I thought I would share these "quirks. I truly believe that these quirks are some of the reason we love our pets!

Gemi, Aunt C, Loki and me at the beach Sept.09

Loki: Besides having an autoimmune disorder (which wasn't his fault so we don't hold it against him), he could be a pain in the ass. He was embarrassingly humpy. He was dominant. He marked other people's houses. He was demanding. He would sit and huff at you through his crazy teeth until he got what he wanted. He was an amazing escape artist and would use any opportunity to explore the world. He hated the groomer, probably the only place he was "nasty".


Gemini: She was a very challenging puppy. She ate the baseboards and the walls. She never got past her bad habit and jumping up and biting people she loved when they first entered the house. It hurt and left bruises. She destroyed other people's stuff. For example, once she ate Uncle Chris' hat that he left on the floor and the mouth guard of Aunt Darlene when she was baby sitting her (who she adored). She also developed anxiety that led to her fur falling out and obsessive drinking and then peeing. While Loki was dying it was her that destroyed the carpets!

(I think the living dog, Lee's quirks are outlined clearly throughout this blog!)

Do your pets have crazy quirks that make them "more" loveable?

Happy Valentine's day!


Monday, February 13, 2012

Amusing myself

Sometimes the Lady and Man don't play with me and amuse me the way I want and I am forced to play by myself.
video

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Squirrel ears

Does your dog suffer from this disorder?

Symptoms are:
A dog that normally scores above 80% on recall, is suddenly struck deaf to all sounds in the world, except maybe squirrel ones.
A dog who is normally super motivated by a 6 letter word "c-o-o-k-i-e" could care less about the them and only wants to eat one thing, squirrel.
The dog chases a squirrel and/or waits at the bottom of the tree for the squirrel. The dog may try to climb the tree. The dog only sees the squirrel (squirrel blindness).

This seeming paralysis lasts until:
1) they catch the squirrel
2) by some miracle they appear to realize they can't catch the squirrel and perhaps your cookie isn't the worst thing in the world. (At least they don't have to climb a tree to get it!)

Black dogs can jump if it is to get a squirrel!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A letter to someone at the dog park

Dear Lady at the dog park,

It is not play if my dog is laying in the fetal position too scared to move as your dog drags her around by her neck.

It is not play if you have to physically pry your dog off mine several times.

It is not play if my dog can't get away because yours won't let go of her collar.

It is not play if my dog is trying to hid from yours.

This is bullying, it is not ok. If your dog is like this, please keep it on a leash.

Thank you,

Hailey's Lady

Friday, February 10, 2012

Feline Friday - Why my cat has gone mad

A rare picture of Baggy upstairs


Bagheera has lost his mind. After nearly 10 years of living in the basement (to avoid dogs) he now is all over the house. He actually got into the linen cupboard, a favourite napping place, for the first time in years this week.

The most disturbing change, according to Hailey, is his new love of her. The other day she was sleeping on the couch. He jumped up like he often does, walked over to Hailey, gave her a kiss and then walked away.  Hailey was frozen in fear! We just sat awestruck at the miracle.

The question is, why at almost 17 and after 10 years of clear dog hate is Baggy happier? Here are some possible reasons:

1) Stockholm syndrome. After a decade of living with dogs, perhaps he had developed this.
2) Sizism - our other dogs were small, Lee is big, perhaps he hates small dog.
3) Colourism - our other dogs were white, Lee is black. He is black. Perhaps he only likes black animals.
4) Dementia: He is almost 17, perhaps he has really just lost his mind.
5) Lee herself. She has always shown him the respect he thinks he deserves. She is fearful and does not try and hump him. 

Why do you think he is Mr. Mellow?



Thursday, February 9, 2012

Amazing PhoDOGrapher pictures

Ok I could be the completely crazy dog lady and share all the pictures that Brit took of our princess, but I am going to show some restrain and share share a few.
I have no idea how I will pick ones to print!

This head shot is so her!





She looks peaceful, this is rare when she is awake!

The hunter. Look how happy she is!







I love that her brown legs stand out in this picture. 

This is probably my fav! It will be printed for sure! 





Tuesday, February 7, 2012

PhoDogragher

On Sunday, Lee had a photo shoot with Brittany the PhoDographer. We had purchased a gift certificate from the Hopeful Hearts auction and were putting it to use.

We meet Brittany at a different park after Nosey Dog. Who would have predicted that every squirrel in the city was there in the trees teasing Lee!  Because of this, she engaged in slightly embarrassing not listening cause there are squirrels behaviour, which forced Brittany to get creative and us to put her on her leash more than I would have like too! Brittany got some great pictures of her, and a fantastic one of her I trying to jump up a tree to get a squirrel.  The stress of getting her picture taken totally tired her out and the rest of the day was spent like this:




Pictures to follow!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Nosey Dog Update

This was Lee's second last week of her scent class. Her Lady hadn't been to see her because she had to work the last 2 weeks.  Nosey dog has been going well. Lee has to sit segregated cause she is too excited. She and her Man have worked really hard on this and she is much better.

Here she is working hard:

video

Friday, February 3, 2012

Feline Friday - Spoiled Cat

Lee is not the only spoiled pet in our house, the cats get their fair share of love and attention, I just don't blog about it the same. Here is an example. This is a picture of Nin's bed on the dining room table. Yes, Nin has a bed on the table. He has always liked the table, but it is only since the introduction of Lee to the pack that he has actually had a bed on it.  This is where he spends most of his days. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Show us your heart!

Lee's work out

The Man has decided he is going to teach Lee to walk on the treadmill. For a few days they have been working on this together. It is going well.

Here is a video. Sorry about the quality but the treadmill is in a crazy corner in the dungeon (yes, our basement room is decorated like a dungeon).

video



From Lee: Thank you to everyone who voted for me for pet of the month. I knew the dressed up dog would win. I am afraid this will encourage my Lady to dress me up more.  Congrats Riflio, since you had to be dressed up like that, you deserve it!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Grief at month 6

I recently read a quote: "The days are long but the years are short" and that is exactly how I feel about this last half year without Gemi.

It is hard to believe it has been that long. I can still vividly remember those first few months, the long days and longer nights feeling a crushing grief - believing this pain could never pass and that for the rest of my life I would barely be able to get through the day because of the pain. However, time does heal wounds. That is not to say that I do not feel a pain for the loss of my girl. It is just the pain is more a dull ache in my heart and not a complete shatter.

I can also report that I am living with virtually no grief over this accident. I have come to the point where I know there is nothing I could have done. Clearly if I had known this may happen, I would have changed what I did. When you know better, you do better, and unfortunately sometimes when you know better it is too late to do better.

I do still live with certain anxieties. For example when Lee and Emma get playing sometimes and Lee may be a little rough, my heart jumps into my throat and I need to make it stop. I think this anxiety will probably be with me for a long, long time.

Now that I am on the far side of my trauma (truly a place I never thought I would be), I am trying to reflect on how I got here. I hope my experience may help others if they are ever faced with such a horrible tragedy.

1) I think I let myself feel the heartache at the beginning. In general I am a "stoic" person who suppresses her emotions, but this time I let my heart break and bleed.
2) Support. I have had great support from my family, friends and those in the virtual community.
3) Hearing worse stories. I  isn't that I take comfort in hearing the stories about people who accidentally did things that resulted in the death of a loved one, but hearing them talk about their pain and seeing that they could go on and forgive themselves, made me believe that maybe I could do that too.
4) Forgiving myself and thinking positively.  This took more effort than I ever would have imagined, but slowly I have been able to do this.
5) Being busy. The last few months have been really busy for me at work. Having things to do and being mentally busy have prevented me from being able to sit in the grief.
6) Exercise, sleep and vitamins - taking care of my heath, and keeping myself in a general good place has helped me cope with this and everything else life has thrown at me. I know when I get tired, I don't cope with anything (big or small).

So as far as the grief piece goes, I am in a pretty good place with it. There will always be a bruised piece of my heart over the loss of my Gemi. I also know I will likely face those bone crushing, suffocating days of grief from time to time, but truly for the first time since the accident I can say, "I will be ok."  Given this, I think this will be my last monthly report and will blog about it, if and when things change.

Thank you all for your love and support during this rather crappy part of my life journey!

Gemini