Being a New Fur-Mom

Shelby has been home for a month now, and today was literally the first day she was willing to sleep on her chair, and not on me, or next to my feet.  She’s growing like crazy, and is showing more and more personality each day.  It’s wonderful having such a bundle of energy around, but I’m exhausted. 🙂    I still miss Mandy, but the pain of losing her has definitely lessened with the fun of watching this new little being learning how this world works.

I was told that Shelby was the ‘reserved, shy’ little female in a litter of 3 puppies. Her bigger brothers may have been a little hard for her to handle, but she has gotten over that ‘reserved’ business with no problem.  I’ve had to throw away several toys that she has decimated.  Tonight, she had me laughing hysterically as she tried to pull a jersey knit baby blanket out from under herself, and was going at it like some sort of twisted paddle-ball imitation….her head was the ball part.

Today was also a bit of a wake up as to how much of a baby she still is. I’ve known about supervising puppies and dogs when they chew on rawhides for a while, thank goodness. Today, I had some arrive that I’d ordered for her, and gave her one. She was having a good time with it, and really seemed to love the thing. Then I noticed she was circling on her blanket like maybe she was trying to ‘bury’ it- but I didn’t see it. I heard her making some throaty noises, and immediately went to her and opened her mouth. The rawhide was wet and mucky about 1/3 of the way, and that third was down her throat… the dry part was in her mouth, invisible from the outside. If I’d gotten in the shower thinking she was a ways from it being too far gone, she could have choked.

Paper training has gone well- two full days with no accidents !  Not bad for only being three months old  🙂  She’s still eating three times a day, so what goes in must come out.  It was doing so within about 5 minutes of input- now she’s bigger, so there is more time for her to run around and play.  And, then she’ll stop and trot to her pee pads.

I’m exhausted.  I take naps most days, as does she- fortunately, puppies take 2-3 naps of at least 2 hours each day.  I put her back into the tent on my bed and zip her in, and she’s good about going back to sleep for at least one of those.  In the morning, she usually has an early pee run (I do the ‘running’ by carrying her to her papers), and then back to sleep before eating breakfast. I go back to bed when I can, and she’s trustworthy enough to put on the bed with me; she likes to snuggle against my back (or climb all over me until she chills out), and is learning that things don’t  move very fast around here (except for her).  I know that she will be worth it in the long run, but dysautonomia is no match for a puppy’s energy.   I rest when I can… and I love having her here no matter how tired I am.

Shelby with 'Grandpa'

Shelby with ‘Grandpa’

Shelby and one of her larger toys :)

Shelby and one of her larger toys 🙂

I have missed reading blogs, but hope to get back to some regular reading and writing as Shelby gets older, and more tolerant of me not being %100 focused on her. 🙂

 

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Remembering Peeps and Mom

Mom loved Peeps

Mom loved Peeps

This week will mark the 10th anniversary of my mom’s death.  It really was a miracle that she lived as long as she did, considering bilateral breast cancer (one side was actually ‘pre-cancerous’ but required a simple mastectomy, but the other side required a radical mastectomy), metastasis to her right lung, and metastasis to the right side of her brain.  Those are ‘just’ the cancer sites…she also had other cancer-related diagnoses including seizures that started well after her cancer treatment and dementia as a result of brain radiation.  The dementia was the hardest to watch. On March 13, 2003, she died after becoming septic from a urinary tract infection. She couldn’t verbalize symptoms very well, so dad didn’t know how sick she was until she began to have increased seizures and became unconscious during their winter away in Arizona. She had been ‘fine’ the day before, and had been with him at an art gallery.   Mismanagement (neglect) by the emergency room where she had been taken by ambulance (unconscious) took away any chance she may have had (they sent her home when she needed IV antibiotics- not pills and an elderly husband as her only caregiver more than 2000 miles from home)…but dad and I have to look at it this way: at least she didn’t end up in a facility not knowing anybody, and being impossible to care for at home. She survived 17 years after her last cancer diagnosis… I don’t know many people who have survived the all of the various cancers she had, especially back then.  If I remember right, her first breast cancer diagnosis was in 1981.  Things have changed a lot.

My mom and I were never all that close. For decades, I knew she loved me, but didn’t have a clue if she actually liked me. It was a hard way to grow up, especially when I was little.  As I got older (as an adult) and was able to imagine things from a point of view of someone in her situation (she had two newborn baby boys die within two weeks of their birth about 2 years apart  by the time she was about 25 years old), it made more sense that she couldn’t allow herself the luxury of being  vulnerable to more loss.  She was able to convey warmth to her students during the years she taught 2nd grade and later 4th grade and in the resource room at Rockford Christian Elementary School; they weren’t hers to lose; she could risk more of herself… but I never saw that degree of warmth.  I get it now.  She wanted me. She loved me. And she was terrified of losing me (confirmed by her mother).  It’s heartbreaking to look back at what she went through.  As a kid, I didn’t get it.  I just felt like she wanted me out of her way. I’m glad I was able to get past that as an adult, and feel compassion towards her.  She did the best she could most of the time.  I may not understand her reasons for some things, but I think most people do the best with what they are equipped to handle.  Add the loss of two newborns before her brain was even done growing, and more makes sense. That in and of itself would change her brain chemistry.

As mom’s dementia progressed, she had fewer and fewer things that she remembered and gave her some degree of pleasure. She watched the same movies over and over again, since she remembered them (and do NOT call  her while she was watching them, or she’d hang up on  you- something she’d never do in her ‘normal’ years).  She loved sweet stuff, which I’m told isn’t how she was when she was younger. I do remember her liking ‘Fifth Avenue’ candy bars when we went grocery shopping when I was a kid. She also was quite willing to take my Halloween candy leftovers (I didn’t like Baby Ruths, peanut butter taffy, or most marshmallow candy).  All I had to do was sort it, and give her my rejects- and she loved them.  During her dementia years, spice drops (gum drops) and Peeps were favorites. I made sure she had gum drops when she and dad visited me in Texas.

Peeps began making their marshmallow candies for holidays other than Easter, so I’d go to the store the day after holidays and buy mom a bunch of Peeps when they were half-price. They hardly weighed anything, so I’d mail them to her in Illinois from where I was in Texas.  She loved getting those ‘care packages’. Dad, however, was not all that amused by having to police them, since she’d eat them all at once if left alone with them.  This is the guy who would go all over town in July looking for pumpkin pie since mom thought it was Thanksgiving.  With the Peeps, he’d hear “I want some Peeps” multiple times a day until they were gone.  She remembered they were there…

Whenever I see Peeps, I think of her and the simple things that made her happy during her last several years.  As hard as it was to watch her slip away and become someone who was so unlike the ‘normal’ her, it was also so easy to make her happy.  I never felt I could do things ‘good enough’ as a kid- it may sound sappy, but I wanted to do something to make her happy when she had so little of her real self left.  For dad, it was hunting for pumpkin pie (and other goodies) during the off-season for whatever she had in her head that she had to have. For me, especially before I moved back home to help dad take care of her, it was gum drops when they visited, and Peeps to mail to her.  I don’t like Peeps at all.  But they do make me smile when I think of how happy they made her .  🙂

Peeps remind me of my mom

Peeps remind me of my mom

Shelby the Hairy Tornado

Shelby is 10.5 weeks old now.  She has energy that my ‘closing-in-on-50-years-old’ body isn’t used to (especially with the disabilities I’ve got).  She IS a hairy tornado.  She wakes me up in the morning by pawing at the inside of the tent she sleeps in (on my bed- to keep her contained and safe, but next to me) to go potty.  She has learned how to paw the zipper from the inside and get the door all the way open- well at least enough to poke her head through, so I can’t dawdle.  I’ll carry her to her potty papers, and insist she unloads both tanks before moving on to feed her (I keep a baby gate up until she’s done).  Otherwise, it’s like a Tootsie Roll dispenser malfunctioned and left ‘gifts’ in a trail on the floor.  She’s a mobile pooper.  According to the puppy training information, she’s doing well.  She gets it right about %80 of the time already; the info says that most pups aren’t totally trained until they’re 6 months old.  In the meantime, there are barricades all over my apartment, and I bring her to her papers about every hour, when she wakes up after a nap, or after a period of psychotic playing.

She’s into the piranha-teeth phase now.  One of her favorite activities is to sink those sharp little puppy teeth into the back of my fuzzy slipper and just hang on for a couple of steps. Then she waits to sink those teeth into the other one. Walking (for me) has become a hazardous situation. So, I shuffle.  I look like some sort of deranged Parkinson’s patient with a short,hairy stalker behind me. And she follows me everywhere ! The puppy training info tells me that ‘communicating’ with her as her fur-mom would do is the way to go… growling an intense and definitive ‘no’ growl is what she’ll understand.  What I understand is that I look like an idiot.  I don’t have a good growl. Go figure. I don’t even holler/yell all that well.

Her ‘guard dog’ attributes need a lot of work.  She barks when someone is leaving. When my dad came over yesterday, he took off his coat and hung it on the back of one of my dinette set chairs.  OK. No problem. Once Shelby got some love from her grandpa in the form of ear scratching, she turned around and eyeballed his coat (the only different thing over there), and proceeded to bark at it until she got up enough courage to slowly approach the ‘dangerous’ coat and give it a good sniff. Then she was fine. But barking once someone is already inside and comfortable enough to remove their coat is a bit backwards from alerting me when they’re trying to enter. Granted, I let him in.  But she’s done this with a friend who was here… let her come right in, but then gave her the business when she was getting ready to leave.  Uh huh.  She’s a scary one!  But I can’t bark at all, so I guess she’s one up on me there.

Then there are the times when she is just too sweet for words. She must sleep near me during the day (her ‘rule’, not mine). She has her own recliner with a soft comforter, but she’d rather sleep on the floor under the leg part of my recliner when it’s up, or next to my recliner on the floor.  If my feet are on the floor, she sleeps between them with her head on top of one foot.  When I pick her up to move her, she just lays in my arms, limp, and lets me do whatever I want to her. She’ll sleep on her back like a baby in my arms to the point when she’s dreaming and twitching. She is very trusting, and as long as she’s able to sleep near or on me, she’s content.  During the first part of the day, if I’m still worn out from an interrupted night’s sleep, I’ll let her play like a maniac until she wears herself out, and then haul her fuzzy butt back to my bed, put her back into her tent, and we both get another hour or two of sleep.

Shelby is  a kisser. When she’s on my lap, she loves to stand up and slurp my face.  Her tail is also semi-motorized, and moves so fast it’s hard to see the actual movement.  It’s just a little black blur on her butt.  And it’s in motion a lot!  She seems to be very happy just about all of the time (unless she’s trying to figure out why I’m growling at her).  It’s sweet to see how curious she is about everything, and that simple things give her joy.  All people should be so content with their lives.

The puppy stage lasts a good year to year and a half.  We’re only two months in.  I love her like crazy, and I’m worn out !  I look forward to watching her grow and learn things she needs to know to be a safe, civilized dog.  In the meantime, I am the hairy tornado monitor, pee pad changer, food dispenser, belly scratcher,  and toy cleaner-upper.  And I wouldn’t trade that for anything 🙂

Sleeping in any position

Sleeping in any position

Killing her toys...

Killing her toys…

In one of her toy bins...

In one of her toy bins…