To: Shiloh the Miniature Schnauzer

Oh, sweet girl… it’s been over 2 months since I said goodbye to you, and the pain of making that decision has been so hard.  I know it was the best for you, me, and your ‘sister’ Shelby.   But I do miss you. I’m always going to care about you.  And, I’m glad you got a forever family so quickly.  I know it was the best decision, but that doesn’t mean it was (or is) easy, by a long shot.  I. Miss. You.  But, you need more than I have to give, and that hurts to know that my body will get worse, and you got stuck in the middle of it all.

Imagine my surprise when I was looking through Facebook for any entries about someone getting a new miniature schnauzer, hoping to see a photo of you.  And then I find your ‘mug shot’ for being missing during the hottest days of the year, and being missing for 3 nights.  That could have easily happened when you lived here, as you’d find any excuse to go for an unauthorized field trip.  I’ve fished you out of bushes, twice retrieved you from the kennel of neighbors whose back yard backs up to the house two doors away, and the time the nice grocery delivery lady got you headed back towards the house.   With degenerative hips, knees, shoulders, and spine, it was so hard for me to get you before you got yourself in trouble.  You were found miles from your new home, and were running scared at night when you were spotted.  I’m just so thankful that you were found safe, and unharmed.  And that your new family knew where to post your info so you’d be found.

I still cry when I think of you being gone, but I know the family you went to was needing a fur-baby.   Maybe it was just supposed to be this way- that I kept you safe until they needed you.  I know it’s safer for me- no constant fear of falling with you darting under my feet and legs, no totaled bed to change to recover from  (takes me 2 days to plan for changing the sheets on a good day), no worrying about you getting loose here, Shelby is calmer (though she did seem to wonder where you went for about 30 seconds- I think you might both need to be the only dog in a home), and you have someone who can be more active and do more with you.   But love doesn’t get shut off on my end just because you’re gone from here.

I’ll never regret getting you– just putting you through the confusion of leaving the home you knew, another month at the kennel where they observed you (and evidently cured your poop eating- wish I’d been let in on that little trick before I had to hand you over- I asked anybody I could for help with that), and then being with your new family for a week before you took off.  I’m sure they were terrified.  It was over a month ago, and I cry thinking about you being alone and scared in the dark.  The heat was terrible, and I’m guessing that’s why you moved around at night.  You were used to 66 degrees year round.

Shiloh, it’s OK to be happy at your new house !  I want you to be happy- they love you and want you so much (as I did).  They didn’t care that you weren’t a baby.  I’m not sure they got all of the info on why you were sent back (and it was mostly about my body falling apart, which wouldn’t have been an issue if the regurgitation of poop you ate hadn’t made frequent bed changes, different poop eating deterrents, many types of foods, behavioralist help, not much help from the vet who you saw here, etc. necessary).   I really did all I could to keep you.  I knew it would be hard to give you away- you were one of three who lived in this house…and your absence is felt.   I wasn’t sure I expected to still be crying almost daily. I’d been doing fairly well until I saw the mugshot.   I’m just so glad you’re safe.    They love you, Shiloh- let them.  Don’t run off.  Go to them when they call you.  Learn what they want to teach you.  Be your usual goofy, happy self.   Throw your toys in the air and wonder where they went.  Run around and slide on the floor.  Snuggle with your new family.  You look good !  Your eyes are bright, ears up- be the sweet, funny girl you always have been.  You don’t need to be afraid.

I’m gutted, as I knew I would be.  But it was the only logical thing I could do for all of us.  It wasn’t lack of love, but the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, and I’ve had a life of lousy situations to survive. You needed more. I needed less. But it was never lack of love. I’m the only one who had  a choice in this, and that is so unfair to you, even if you are a dog.  I’m so sorry.  But please, let your new people love you.

  • * * * * * * * * *
    Letter I wrote for your new family, though I’m not sure the kennel gave it to them (from what I’ve heard, you’re not like this as much anymore ):To Whoever Becomes Shiloh’s new family,                      June 12, 2019

Shiloh has been with me since she was 8 weeks old- and was VERY wanted. She will always be loved by me (and her big “sister”, another schnauzer).  This has been an agonizing decision.  The ONLY reason I’m sending her back is because of a change in my health, and inability to manage a particular behavior (more detail later).  Ideally, she’ll be with someone who is home most of the time (I’m rarely away from home). She does “scream” if she’s feeling alone.  But she’s also full of kisses and tail wags when I came back in the door- even if I was only gone long enough to take the trash to the street on pick-up day.   She’s my 5th miniature schnauzer.  Shiloh will be 2 years old on July 8, 2019.

Shiloh has always been very friendly (that’s how she landed with me- she wouldn’t let any other puppies get near me when I was choosing !!), curious, and wants to please, though there are times when she needs extra patience to catch on to some things.  There isn’t a mean bone in her, and she is very eager to check out new people.  She’s never been around kids, but I haven’t seen anything about her that would give me pause to introduce her to children.  She loves to snuggle, and will spend as much time as you allow being on your foot, lap, or lying next to you in bed.  She plays well with my older dog.

She also loves to fetch her toys- but don’t let her have any type of edible toy (rawhides, antlers, chew sticks, rope toys, or stuffed animals) without supervision.  (Her sister broke a tooth on an elk antler, requiring surgical removal).   Shiloh has jaws of steel and can go through half of a foot long compressed rawhide in an hour- eating it as she goes. She has decimated a lot of toys- but never hurt my stuff after a right foot slipper when she was very little. She will sneak off with things without hurting them (socks and slippers are favorites).  If you simply ask “Is this yours?”, she’ll slick her ears back, and look pitiful.

It breaks my heart to not know where she’s going to end up.  If I had known that my body was going to break down like this, I never would have gotten Shiloh, and put HER in this position.  We are bonded. She is bonded to my older dog.  She loves the groomer and vet- but she wants me when all is said and done- and I’m sure that she’ll adapt to a new person, but for me it’s like ditching a kid, when fur-kids are all I have.  But I know that one more full bed change could take out one of my shoulders for good.  I have to plan linen and laundry. I can’t lose my shoulders when I’m told I’m going to need a wheelchair. 

Shiloh is paper-trained (I put a crate tray on the floor and put pads on that, so there’s a ‘buffer’  to avoid leaks).   She’s  been very good about going on the pads for a long time.  She will need to learn to go outside if you expect her to do that.  But it sure is nice to know she has a place to go 24/7, in any weather- or for any MD appointment I might have.  I get the human underpads 30 x 36”  by the case from Walmart or Amazon- much cheaper than dog pads or individual bags- and hold more than one pee.  I do NOT recommend small metal crate training with Shiloh because of the coprophagia (see below) and vomiting. Everything would be a mess.  A contained area that is easily cleaned would be ideal if she can’t be within site at all times.  She’s had a plastic baby ‘pen’ that configures into a hexagon or rectangle around the pee pad tray for training purposes.  It’s bigger than a regular crate, but much easier to clean, and less likely for her to jump around and get messy. 

Shiloh is a poop eater (coprophagia).  She’s done it since she was little, and it’s actually VERY common with dogs (goes back to hiding their scent from predators).  I’ve tried various products to make her poo taste bad to her, but none have been all that great.  The only thing that works the best (and isn’t %100 foolproof- but probably %95) is to supervise her pooping, and clean up immediately (even if you take her to the yard).  She will eat poop and throw it up (that’s where my degenerative shoulders and hips make it extremely painful  to manage linen and laundry, causing pain for days).  It’s not her fault.   She’s not doing it on purpose.   She wants to please, and she doesn’t understand the connection between eating the poo and getting sick. She also doesn’t have the ‘dog gag’ sound to warn you- she just spews.  I’ve done what the vet, kennel owners, and dog trainers have suggested, and she still eats poop at times when she can sneak it.  This is her “special needs” situation.  She needs someone who is able to be there a lot.  There are times when she’s fine, and poops without eating it- but then there are the times when she barfs up the poop.  I’m sending some remedies that have been marginally effective for short periods of time- the behavior modification has been the most useful.  I can’t stand as long as she sometimes needs. 

With my physical limitations, I’m impacted for 2-4 days after a full linen change and laundry when she does eat enough poo to throw up (and it’s a lot sometimes- not just a spot here or there).  For someone with a working body, it might not be any big deal.  I also keep a waterproof pad and some blankets on her side of the bed.  But she ‘misses’ sometimes.  Again- NOT HER FAULT.  If I lose my shoulders, I lose independence. 

I take her to her pads before bed and tell her to ‘go potty’ (pee), and then she sleeps in her “house” (carrier) on my bed.  If she needs to pee at night, she’ll whimper or scratch the carrier to wake me up, and I take her to her pads, wait until she’s done- then back to the carrier until it’s time to get up.  If she whines again, she likely needs to poop.  She can be sneaky, and go get a turd- where you’ll see a ‘poo track’ on the pads with no poo to go with it.  If that happens later at night, I do NOT have her sleep in her carrier, in case she throws up; she’d be covered in it- and that’s not fair to her, besides being a mess.  She is content to sleep in another room particularly if there’s a baby gate so she can see her person.  I have a dog bed for her by the baby gate.  Her “house” will also do. I’m sending some pads for peeing, some for covering furniture, and lightweight waterproof massage table covers that are good for chairs. 

After meals (twice a day), I put her in the  “house” for 30-40 minutes – or until she indicates that she’s antsy, and take her to the pads and tell her to “hurry poop”.  When doing this at a new place, she’ll likely need her leash on to make it easier to keep her focused.  She is a bit ADHD when it comes to maintaining her attention- she sees 100 things she’s interested in, all at the same time.  But she’s not quite 2 yet.  My others did the same thing at that age, and chilled over time.

Shiloh is a ‘greedy eater’.  She inhales food, and has ‘puzzle bowls’ to slow her down, or she throws up (I’m sending several bowls, as she figures them out).  She also loves ice cubes.  I tried freeze dried green beans for a low cal treat, and she eats them whole, then barfs them up intact but rehydrated.   She’s been eating Blue Buffalo Basics, Turkey and Potato Grain Free DRY dog food (per the kennel recommendations).  I gave her something with corn in it and she treated it like movie snacks- after she’d pooped it. She’s been on other dog foods, and this one does give her turds a more formed texture.  I’m sending a container of the Blue Buffalo- there’s more than enough to transition to another food if you prefer- but watch out for any stuff with corn.   She also loves frozen pumpkin puree.  Either drops on some parchment, or a very small ice cube tray work great.  A teaspoon per meal is sufficient if you choose to give it to her.  Pineapple was suggested, and it does seem to help a bit- but she doesn’t chew well (if at all) if she really likes something (and then barfs up the whole pieces) , so I puree the pineapple and freeze it in a candy bar mold that has segments that I cut and put in a zip bag in the freezer- she loves anything frozen. Greek yogurt ‘cubes’ are also a hit.  The Turkey Blue Buffalo, pineapple, and Greek yogurt were the info from the kennel when I asked them about possible solutions- I did NOT want to let her go. I asked her vet about doing some health checks for reasons she  might be eating poop and she basically dismissed me. 

I’m sending her pajamas- in the winter, she gets cold, especially after being groomed- she acts like she’s being tortured, but the shivering stops. (She can be  quite the drama diva).  They are also a bit like a loose Thunder Shirt in calming her down if she’s on a wild-woman energy burst that goes on for a considerable time.  The PJs relax her.  I’m also sending toys, a blanket, her carrier, and a couple of pairs of socks with my scent on them.  Her nickname is “Lo-lo”.   She knows “kitchen”, “cookie”, “go potty”, “hurry poop”, “good  girl”,  “sit” (though that kind of depends on how much she wants what she wants at the time), “check the door”, “I’m coming back” (won’t follow me to the bathroom), and a few more I’m blanking on (I’m crying my eyes out writing this). “Stay” is ADHD dependent- don’t count on it.   She thrives on “good girl”, and eagerly soaks up the ear scratches and verbal praise.  She’s very sensitive to tone of voice.

She rides well in the car, and I’ve included her seatbelt adapter that attaches to a HARNESS (never just  her collar). She’s not perfect on a leash, but has been doing better.  She’s practiced in the house and trips to the groomer or vet. I’m keeping her collar- I want something of hers to keep.  She’s used to the Puppia brand.

If she’s freaked out by something (fireworks, thunder, etc), she finds comfort snuggling on my shoulder, sucking my earlobe.  It’s a little slobbery, but she calms down.  Usually, she just looks to see how I react to something, and then chills out if I’m not bothered.  She’s done that since I got her.   If she feels ‘alone’ she screams… not howls, not barking, not crying.  Once she sees her person, she’s fine. Until then, it sounds like  someone is trying to kill her.  There have been some Academy Award worthy performances.  Scared the snot out of me first time she did it.   

She will run if she gets outside- and doesn’t stop until she finds something in the neighborhood to investigate.  I can’t chase her (it’s more of a hobbling walk) – so that is another reason (for her safety) that she needs someone more mobile.  I haven’t given her time to come home on her own, as she is SO friendly that she’d let Jack the Ripper in the house, and ask what kind of knife he prefers.  She could be dog-napped very easily.  Or run over, as she’d never stop for traffic.

Shiloh has some skin allergies that didn’t get any better with Benadryl or a prescription antihistamine from the vet.  I use chlorohexidine wipes (available for dogs) if she starts licking a lot.  She has a couple of ‘lick’ areas on each side where the hair has fallen out- but it’s already grown back a lot.  That’s not unheard of in schnauzers.  She loves butt scratches right above her tail on her lower spine, and any ear and neck scratching as well.  Most of the time, the allergy doesn’t seem to bother her.  They’ve cleared up quite a bit with some dog CBD treats- sending a bag of those as well.  One a day is fine. They are low dose, and have NO psychoactive effects. 

Even with her quirks, she is such a sweet girl.  She loves everybody.  That makes her a lousy guard dog (though she is good about alerting to vague things, and has been growling a bit more at the door, and not just people on TV), but an amazing companion. She does things that are just funny (usually with her toys- flinging them all over, and then wondering where they went, etc).  She has very little discrimination with edible things- and will snarf something up without chewing or ‘testing’ it.  If you have any type of things that are toxic to dogs (cigarettes, medications, foods dogs can’t have, etc), I’ve found it much easier to put up a baby gate while I handle anything that could hurt her, until I’m done. When she’s pooped after meals, she is loose in the house, so she can run around.  She loves stairs, and sliding across hard floors.  She’s been OK for a couple of hours home alone (loose) if the other dog had a vet appointment.

It’s impossible to convey how gutted I am about having to have Shiloh rehomed.  My intent was, as it’s been with the other four dogs I’ve owned over the years, to be a forever home.   I want the best for her, and I don’t think it’s me, no matter how much I love her.  A piece of my heart goes with her.  IF my shoulder goes out completely, my independence is shot- and then she’d need someone else anyway.  I’ll remember her every July 8th.  And likely a lot more often than that.  She’s one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever met- and it’s been a  privilege to have such a joyful little being in my home.  

I will deeply miss Shiloh.  
Tearfully,
Shiloh’s First 21 month person  
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
This was her life before I had to hand her over to the kennel.  I know there have been changes, and if that’s for the best, then I hope she’s doing well adjusting to the changes. 

And Shiloh, you will always have a piece of my heart.  Let your new family have yours.

 

 

The Lull in Posts Over the Past Year

It’s certainly not for lack of material.  Or being too busy (well, having a new puppy has been interesting over this last 11+ months).  In many ways, it’s because I have too much rattling around in my brain, and trying to figure out what to write about (in a coherent fashion) has been more of a problem.

The last year has been wild.  In January of 2013, I was grieving the loss of my beloved Mandy- the miniature schnauzer I’d had since the summer of 2001.  She was my heart, my life, and my only consistent companion.  I knew the day would come, but it’s never easy.   I was really alone for a couple of months, and it hurt.  As in ‘boohoo’ type crying on and off for weeks.

Mandy Bluebonnet Tumbleweed Mar. 28, 2001- Dec. 27, 2012 This was her last photo… ever.

Mandy Bluebonnet Tumbleweed
Mar. 28, 2001- Dec. 27, 2012
This was her last photo… ever.

Then, I got my new miniature schnauzer puppy at the end of February.  She was a day short of 9 weeks old when I brought her home.  She wouldn’t get near me in her crate on the car seat until about 2 hours into the 2.5 hour drive home from where she was born (longest drive I’ve made in over 10 years, and my left knee still hurts).  Then she scooted to the wire door, and at least was close enough to see… she was so cute !  And the games began !!  She was  a crazy little thing, after being seen as the ‘shy, reserved little girl’ in the litter of three pups, two of which were males.   She got over that in a hurry !!  Just NUTS !!  But not a mean bone in her- she was just active, and always on the go.  It took quite a while for her to listen to my commands- which wasn’t about ‘dominating’ her, but making sure she was safe.  I had to get a shock collar, which broke my heart- but the little zap (about the same as when you rub your socks together on the carpet and touch someone, or something) was enough to catch her attention.  Now, I just have to ask her if she needs her collar. 😮

Shelby in one  of her toy bins :)  About 9 weeks old.

Shelby in one of her toy bins 🙂 About 9 weeks old.

Just a happy puppy kind of day !   Shelby- 4 months.  Silly girl !!

Just a happy puppy kind of day ! Shelby- 4 months.
Silly girl !!

Growing up !  About 10 months old in this photo…

Growing up ! About 9 months old in this photo…

Now, she is still active, and very much a young dog, but is such a sweetheart, and really understands a lot of what I tell her.  “Stay” needs some work, but otherwise, she knows the difference between the types of her toys, different rooms, and when she is NOT supposed to bark or whine at someone outside – I mean seriously, the mailman doesn’t require daily announcing !

My biological mom visited a couple of times, and it’s always great to see her 🙂   I’ve thought more and more about ‘biological bonds’ and how that never is severed by adoption- if anything it’s more intense.  Having my biological mom in my life has been such an amazing gift.  That’s something for a few blog posts.  My biological paternal uncle also visited- the first time I’ve met someone from my biological dad’s side of the family.  That was great !   I honestly enjoy both of them (as well as others I’ve met through my biological family tree- that is more like a group of trees).  Neat, really nice people.

This summer, my cousin was diagnosed with cancer.  It’s a tough kind of cancer, and she hasn’t  ever been really sick before, which makes all of the procedures, sensations, and inability to just do what she sets her mind out to do that much more difficult.   She has had so many side effects and complications- it’s been so hard for her (as it would be for anybody).  Since I’m the family ‘go-to’ for deciphering medical information, we talked and e-mailed a lot.  We still do.  I’m glad to be of some use to her (and other family members who know I’ve been an RN for nearly 29 years, even if I’m now disabled- which has increased my knowledge about a  lot of the little things with my own personal medical journey- it helps me find some ‘good’ in the bad I’ve been through).  She is SO strong mentally, and has such an amazing support system with friends and co-workers.  I told her how in awe I am, since the people around here (co-workers) dropped me like a hot rock when I had to leave work in 2004.  She is blessed with an employer who still sees what she can do, and co-workers who are really there for her.  It’s amazing how well she’s doing in such a truly lousy situation.

Last (early) summer, I started on a weight-loss plan, and did lose 35 pounds that have stayed off- but I had to stop the Nutrisystem products for the artificial sweeteners.  I had about 3 solid months of migraines… no days off. I might have some time during the day when my head didn’t hurt, but there were no days with no head pain (I’m never free of muscle pain, and that’s been for the last 19 years).  SO, I had to give in and start taking daily pain meds along with some ‘as needed’ migraine meds.  I’ve been avoiding regularly scheduled pain meds for years.  But, my quality of life is going down the tubes.  With the pain meds, I’m now able to do more around the apartment in short spurts, which has been good- though I’m in no way able to do ‘normal’ amounts of housework.

The dysautonomia is also getting considerably worse- so any activity has become incredibly painful and leads to problems with my heat intolerance, blood pressure and heart rate.  The chemo I was on for leukemia from early 2010 through the latter parts of 2011  is known to cause peripheral neuropathy (as are many types of chemo)- so with an already existent neuropathy, it makes sense that it doesn’t do it any favors.  The heat intolerance is much worse, and even though the ice vest helps considerably, I have the air conditioner on when it’s  less than 20 degrees outside because I’m over-heated inside, if I do any sort of activity that causes my internal thermostat to go whacky.  It’s miserable.

My thighs have begun to shrink.  As in visibly smaller, and not in the good way from weight loss, but in an abnormal way.  SO I had to have an EMG (electromyelogram).  That showed more neuropathy.  I was sent to physical therapy (PT) for exercises- which will be an ongoing thing to avoid ending up needing a walker (at best) or wheelchair (at worst) for just getting around my apartment.  That is scary.  Since last spring (or maybe before then- the time gets away from me), a childhood friend of mine has been volunteering to help me get my apartment straightened out and drag stuff off to the thrift store at one of the churches here.  That has been SUCH incredible help.  She will also go to the grocery store if I need something picked up, and we’ve made a sort of contingency plan if I can’t do much at the store  at all, where I ride the scooter and she pushes a cart.  My guess is that we’d spend a fair amount of time laughing with that arrangement, but it’s so nice to know she’s around.   Another junior/senior high school friend has also moved back to this area recently, and has also offered to help out – so I really do feel blessed to have two people (and my dad) who I trust, that are willing to help me out.   There are days when I feel like that’s the only way I’m going to be able to live outside of some type of facility- and having no longterm care insurance, I would have to go to some state run ‘pit’.

Last week, I went to the store for my monthly fresh food/dairy stuff.  I had my ice vest on, and when I got home, I was still in trouble.  I had to drag out my ‘arsenal’ of thigh squeezes, leaning over the counter, etc. to keep from passing out.  I am so thankful for days when nothing is so bad as to need some sort of quick ‘first aid’ maneuvers to stay conscious.  Or headaches that are bad enough to land me in bed.  Or muscle pain that causes me to be essentially immobile.   I’m getting more and more thankful for days that other people would consider to be very boring- but keep me from having to contact one of my doctors.

The first week and a half of January is rough every year because of two very painful anniversaries… the January 7, 1978 murders of my figure skating coach’s six children (by her husband)- and wondering how she has been all of these years. I miss her, even now.   And, the January 10, 1987  six-hour rape I went through by the uncle of a baby I took care of up to six days a week for about 6 months (back when 6 months of my life was a much bigger portion of my overall existence).

I’m not sure anybody ever ‘gets over’ things like either of those.  While I wasn’t physically hurt by the murders, it was one of the most traumatic things I’ve ever been through, and at age 14, I was miserably unprepared for how to ‘get through’ something so horrific. I knew the older girl a bit from the rink- which made it all hit so much closer to home.  She was a year younger than I was… and it was all so impossible to understand.  I was 23 at the time of the rape- and while I managed to keep myself alive, it was also something beyond my level of coping skills emotionally.  There isn’t a year that has gone by, or even a day or week since either of those events that I haven’t thought about the overall impact they have had in my life- and wondering how my skating coach has been.  Every few years, I have to deal with parole protest letters for the guy who raped me.  I’ve written other blogs about both of those.

So, I’ve had plenty to write about.  But sometimes, it’s just too much to try and put thought to writing.  Many things are rattling around in my thick skull… and writing about them does help me.  I feel ‘heard’ – even if the majority of things I write about won’t be seen by people I know- it still helps that ‘someone’ out there will have seen what I have to say.   Thank you for stopping by to ‘hear’ me.

*Ann, if you are out there… please comment.  I see a lot of people who look up information about that day.  If you are one of them – or know how she is… please let me know 🙂

 

 

Shelby the Miniature Schnauzer Puppy

I’ve been sort of scarce on WordPress in the last several months because of a new furkid I got at the end of February.  Shelby is a miniature schnauzer puppy, who is 6 1/2 months old now.  She’s becoming more lovable and showing a very sweet and good-natured personality. But during her 4th-5th month, I thought I’d kill her. She was teething and listened to NOTHING I said- so training her for basic safety things (like “no” and “come”) were out the window. I finally had to get a shock collar for her, which broke my heart, but she caught on in a hurry with just the vibrate mode- I ended up having to use the actual ‘shock’ very few times (and tested it on my fingers- it’s like static electricity after walking on carpet in socks and touching something conductive).  She hardly wears it any more.

A couple of weeks ago, she got spayed.  When I picked her up, she looked stoned.  Totally blotto.  That was probably good.  She got pain meds for four days, and did very well. I took her to get her stitches out earlier this week, and she was perfect. I held her down, and she didn’t move at all.

Night she got spayed... lying low and looking stoned.

Night she got spayed… lying low and looking stoned.

After her last haircut, she would shiver (I have to keep my apartment at about 66 degrees to avoid passing out).  So, I had to get her some sweaters and a hoodie.  I just got a ‘polo’ shirt for her, as it’s not as heavy (it’s been in the 90s this week, with heat indexes in the low 100s…. granted she’s inside, but still…). I never thought I’d be one of ‘those people’ who got clothing for their dog.  I get her functional stuff- nothing just for decorative purposes.

Worn out after getting groomed- but they said she was a good girl !

Worn out after getting groomed- but they said she was a good girl !

Shelby's hoodie !

Shelby’s hoodie !

New 'polo' shirt !

New ‘polo’ shirt !

Socks- for those sharp little nails... she hates them :(

Socks- for those sharp little nails… she hates them !

She has become a great little companion, though still a baby.  Her teething seems to be ‘done’.  She spit out 12 of her baby teeth, which I’ve got in a transparent gemstone jar.  She’s smart, and is trying to learn commands (she’s really good at ‘sit’ and ‘no barking’).  I can see spending many great years with her…which is good- for a while, I wanted to trade her in for a dead goldfish 😮

 

 

 

 

Need to Write More…Puppy-Motherhood is Tiring !

There’s something about just getting stuff out of my head, whether or not anybody reads it, but knowing that somebody somewhere is probably going to actually know what is going on in my little corner of the world makes my life seem so much less isolated.  I’ve been busy with my puppy…or should I say she’s been busy with me.  This one is a corker.  I’ve had four miniature schnauzers now, and this one has been the most challenging.  She’s very smart, very fast, and has a mind of her own. She also wags her tail at literally everything, so discipline is a crap shoot since she thinks everything is fun.   There is no association between me telling her ‘no’ and what I’m telling her ‘no’ about.  It’s just fun !  For her.  The only thing that she doesn’t like is the crate with a blanket over it. If she can’t see me, she is NOT amused.  Within a few minutes the crying starts.

Don’t get me wrong, I love her like crazy.  She’s got this look of perpetual happiness on her face. My dad says that in 20 years, when she’s been dead and gone for a few years, her tail will still wag.  After Mandy’s illness and being so ‘on guard’ the last month she was alive, it’s nice to have the upbeat energy around here. It’s also nice to be needed.  I miss being a working nurse, and somebody noticing  whether or not I am around and worth something.  Shelby needs me for her food and water, and clean pee pads. She also needs to be loved, and for me to interact with her and let her know that it matters that SHE is around. But she wears my butt out !   Some days I swear I need a net to round her up.  She has that puppy run of tucking her butt under, slicking her ears back, and just going for broke.  And she can stop on a dime. I’ve fallen once trying to avoid tripping over her.

She’s already learned quite a bit- fetch, ‘let go’ (when she doesn’t drop the fetched toy), “get on your chair”, “go potty” (she will go on command if she has to pee- or sit down and look at me if she doesn’t ), “sit”, “down”, “are you hungry?”, “do you want an ice cube?” (she loves ice on her teething-weary gums), and if I holler loudly enough, “NO!”.  She’s not really too good at “stay”.  She will come to her name being called, but sometimes it’s a ‘fly-by’ if she’s wound up and wants to play.  If there are dogs barking or cats meowing on TV, she stops what she’s doing and looks at them. If the bark sounds somewhat menacing, she joins in… it’s funny, but I’m trying to get her to know when barking is not OK (i.e. the neighbor taking out the trash…  I don’t need an alert for that).

She has little fear. She will jump from my arms, off of chairs, over toys, and off of my bed.  She’s growing, but she’s still not that big – I’m guessing about 13 pounds. We go to the vet tomorrow for the last Parvo shot, so she’ll get weighed then.  At least once during the day, she starts running like her butt is on fire, racing around tables, past chairs, down the hall, and sometimes over me (via a quick stop on my lap).  I haven’t done enough leash work with her because of the weather and my activity intolerance, but from what we have done, she’s not amused.  Though she did walk nicely on the leash last time we went to the vet for other puppy shots.

In the morning, she wakes up about 8:00 – 9:00 a.m. and wants to eat (she’s getting a gravity feeder tomorrow). I usually don’t go to bed until 2:00 – 4:00 a.m. (worked nights for a long time), and give her a puppy health biscuit before bed so she isn’t having to go too long without something in her tummy.   I get up and give her the 100gm scoop (heaping 1/3 cup) for her breakfast, and then go back to bed. She will putz around for a while, go poo, and then come back to bed with me. She likes to snuggle against my legs or back, and really is a cuddle bug when she slows down.  She seems to sense that I need to sleep and is really good about our routine.  She is very good about using her stairs to get up on the bed, and has her own bed and blankets up there, but prefers to snuggle.  She also brings toys to bed sometimes (as long as they aren’t the squeaky ones, they’re OK  🙂 ).

When I finally start moving around and she knows I’m awake, she gets SO excited. It’s so nice to be ‘wanted’ every day, and to have ‘someone’ show me that she’s glad I’m there for her.  Usually there is a fair amount of slurping on whatever part of me she can get to, and that tail literally wags too fast to actually see.  Boat motor speed.  And she’s so happy. It’s nice to start the awake part of my day with that.  Shelby can’t stand when I’m in the shower. I have to leave the shower curtain open about 8 inches so she can peek in to make sure I haven’t left her. I talk to her the whole time I’m in there, and it’s a transparent plastic curtain (but it’s green with turtles on it), so it’s not like I’m behind a concrete bunker, but to her I may as well be.

Sometimes she comes over to the recliner where I’m sitting and when I reach down to pet her, she flings herself over on her back, spread eagle, and waits for the belly rubs to commence. She has no shame. If I sit up, but reach down again, she throws herself down, and waits for more.  When she is ‘in the mood’ she will lie on her back in my arms like a baby, and doze off. She’s big enough now that with her arm in the crook of my elbow, her legs hanging off of my lap by a good 6 inches.

She LOVES her grandpa, and he loves her. She learned to climb up the couch using his inner thighs as a brace many weeks ago. Now she just takes a flying leap and gets on the couch. She can easily get on my lap in the recliner.  She loves the crazy playing with her grandpa; she’s not a prissy little girl- she’s ‘all in’ when it comes to playing. He’ll put her down in case she’s had enough and she always turns around immediately and wants more. 🙂

Last night, she walked over towards her pee pads and stopped cold. She leaned forward with her back legs planted firmly and acted like she was stalking some sort of evil prey.  I couldn’t figure out what in the world she was confronting, so went over there expecting something fierce. It was a plastic bag from her pee pads that had fallen on the floor.  Uh huh.  Go Killer!  I’ve seen her smack bugs with her paw and then eat them (yuck- but she’s too fast to pry them from her teeth), so thought that maybe it was at least something alive… nope. The dreaded pee pad bag.  Oooohhh. Gotta watch out for those !

Her curiosity is fun- it’s refreshing to see things for the first time with her.  Sometimes she does it from the safety of my arms, but most of the time she just charges in and pokes around. She does NOT like mirrors. She’s not curious about who that dog is, or why I’m over there and holding her.  I’ve got things ‘baby-proofed’, and so far she hasn’t been interested in chewing up my stuff.  She has an elk antler that she loves, as well as Nylabones for this teething that is making her kind of cranky and nippy. But there isn’t a mean bone in her. Even when she’s charging at something, her tail is going like crazy, ears are up, and a sort of ‘smile’ on her mouth… never bared teeth.  She’s just goofy !!

So that’s what I’ve been doing. I’m exhausted, but I love her.  The season change is hard with the pollens and erratic weather. We may have strong storms on Monday (possibly tornadoes), so I have more headaches and muscle pain.  I saw the pain guy last week.  Seems I got TMJ a few weeks ago, so he worked on that with a steroid injection.  I wanted to get some beef jerky, but figured my jaw would rebel… bummer, since jerky doesn’t mess up my blood sugar, and I’m always looking for protein sources that are ‘grab and go’.   I’ve been back to  reading other blogs more recently, but still miss regular updates from y’all.  Now that Shelby is playing on her own more, I can get back to writing and reading… funny how this blog world has become such an important community.  🙂

Big girl haircut !!

Big girl haircut !!

The view when I have been on the computer... Shelby brings me toys !!

The view when I have been on the computer… Shelby brings me toys !!

 

 

Just One of Those Months

For the past week and a half, I’ve had some moderately severe jaw pain on the same side where I broke a tooth, and had said tooth repaired, requiring me to open my mouth wide enough to swallow the Hindenburg.  It hurt.  But a few shots of novocaine, and I blew it off.  Until the novocaine wore off.  I’ve been hoping it would just get better on its own, but it isn’t, so I read up on some causes of jaw pain, and ended up going to an urgent care place this afternoon HOPING to get it checked out for being a fractured jaw bone.  The nurse practitioner was pleasant enough, but I’d never seen him, he didn’t know me, and as is common with weekend visits, I got the impression that they figured I wanted pain meds. I have pain meds. I want this fixed !  The intake people asked what pharmacy I wanted (since it’s Sunday), and I told them I  wouldn’t need any prescriptions (I tend to have ONLY my pain management doc deal with my pain prescriptions- keeps things much neater). The nurse practitioner informed me that ibuprofen or naproxen was the best option- which I agreed to without any issues- if this is TMJ- which he determined without feeling my jaw or doing an x-ray.  I felt dismissed.  I don’t go to urgent care places unless I’m pretty dang uncomfortable and need to at least get an x-ray done.  Waste of time.

It’s been a weird few weeks.  I fell about 3 weeks ago, dodging my puppy. It wasn’t her fault- she is just non-stop motion and can turn on a dime.  Fortunately, I landed ‘slowly’ and was able to sort of ease down to the floor, leaving my left side (same side as my jaw pain) the only thing bungled up, and even that was relatively benign considering what could have happened.  I didn’t even drop my microwave entree in my right hand !  But I was sore for a few days.  Maybe I jarred my tooth and jaw.

A week or so after that, one of my teeth (bottom LEFT) broke. I hadn’t noticed it being an issue before- it was simply not there when I was chewing a gum drop.  I found it by gingerly nibbling at the gum drop (too soft to cause a tooth to break), and made arrangements to get it checked- to at least file down the razor edge that was making my tongue hurt like crazy.  Then I got the tooth filled- which is where I had to open my mouth far beyond anything I’d done for decades, if ever.  I felt ‘something’, but didn’t say anything since I wanted the tooth fixed and then out of there.  The dentist is a decent guy- was a former neighbor when I was about 12 years old.  He got the tooth fixed, and I flew like dandelion seeds in the wind. I’m waiting until my dental insurance goes into effect on June 1st for anything major. I finally found a policy (Medicare doesn’t care about teeth) that I can afford and has decent coverage.

But since then, my jaw has been bumming me out, so I got it checked.  I am not pleased with the lack of diagnostics to make sure it’s not broken.  One x-ray would shut me up- I may call my regular doc tomorrow to see about it- she knows me and listens.  I just saw her last week for my disability paperwork review (pain in the butt paperwork for the insurance company).  I’ve declined over the last year.  She thinks that the chemo for the leukemia has pretty much trashed my body- but what was the option? If I didn’t take the 19 months of various IV and oral drugs, I would have been dead within  a week of diagnosis; I’d already had the bad lab work for about 3 weeks, and with APL, people are generally dead within a month if treatment isn’t started.  I had to do it.

We talked about the dysautonomia, and the probability that it’s from diabetes. My blood sugars were outrageous when I was diagnosed (like 389mg/dl for a random check, and an A1C of 10.2).  Nobody knows how long I had been undiagnosed. I was diagnosed with dysautonomia about a year after the diabetes diagnosis, so there’s a really good chance I had the diabetes a long time before it was confirmed.  I’d talked to my neurologist about what else could be done (since it’s a neurological disorder and all), but she didn’t know the cause (and didn’t seem too interested in finding out).  Now, I’m not sure if I should take it up with my endocrinologist, primary doc, or who.  I get tired of all of them, even though they’re all quite kind.  My oncologist tells me to just be thankful I’m alive- and I am. But I do have bummer times when I fell overwhelmed.

Since I’m not working as an RN, I feel so useless.  I have so many physical limitations, even though my brain functions pretty well most of the time. I have brain farts and some memory blips.  Sometimes my word-finding isn’t so great, and I can get emotional over stupid stuff.  And God forbid anybody have the thermostat over 65 degrees, or I panic because I know that I’ll pass out.  I wear the ice vest most of the time when I leave home.  Or, I shop at 2 a.m. to avoid the heat of the day.  I worked nights for years, so being awake isn’t hard.  It’s also nice to not have crowds who are impatient because I’m slow. I get tired of the heavy sighs behind me; I try to stay out of the way- but there’s always some grouch.  Why can’t people just be thankful it’s not them?

Sometimes I get worn out about my spine collapsing (degenerative disc disease), fibromyalgia, arthritis, degenerative joint disease (one knee already replaced- one with a partially torn ACL and medial meniscus that never got fixed because of that pesky leukemia), blah, blah, blah. My primary doc feels that some of the leg pain is from collapsed discs in my lower spine.  If I have ‘known’ collapsed discs in my neck and upper spine, there’s no reason to think they aren’t also in my lower back.  I haven’t had a pain free day since around 1995.  I don’t have that frame of reference anymore. When someone asks me to do one of those pain scales, it’s a joke.  A 5-6 is my normal.  That’s a good day.  I have to make something up to fit their paperwork.

But, I know I have a lot to be thankful for.  Yes- I’m declining. I am having trouble getting normal things done at home.   But, I’m still in my own apartment.  I am not captive to the schedules of some nursing home or assisted living place with employees that would rather work in a landfill.  My mind is still intact (or so I tell myself 😀 ) .  I have doctors that don’t judge me (now that I changed oncologists).  I have a puppy, who is really quite adorable, though she’s going through the ‘el destructo’ phase right now with teething.  But she’s a great little companion, and even though she’s only been here for 2 months, she’s got a place in my heart that isn’t going anywhere.  But some days are just the pits.

So, today I’m whining.  My body hurts.  I feel like a mutant.  A useless mutant.  And yet it could be so much worse.

Loves to play ALL. DAY. LONG.  4 months old now !

Loves to play ALL. DAY. LONG. 4 months old now !

Big girl haircut !!

Big girl haircut !!

 

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. 🙂

 

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…