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 !!

 

 

I Just Want What’s Best For Her…

It’s so hard to know how to read what’s going on with Mandy (my 11.75 year old miniature schnauzer with heart failure).  She’s obviously not feeling well judging by her appetite and resistance to taking her medication (one is chewable, and she usually loves it; the others are pills I put in fruit that she usually snarfs right up). Her breathing isn’t ‘right’, and she’s coughing a little. She’s not peeing as much as she should be- but nothing smells funny or has a dark, concentrated color (she’s paper/pad trained, so it’s easy to assess).  And, she’s alert, getting up whenever I move, and doesn’t seem to be in any discomfort. She hasn’t fainted, and her tongue is pink.  Right now, she’s by the front door grumbling about something.  That’s ‘normal’ for her!

I’ve been down this road before. My last schnauzer had heart failure for the last year of her life, and she did quite well until the last couple of days. The only time she didn’t eat was the last 24-36 hours she was alive, and it was horribly obvious that she wasn’t doing well. I tried the extra doses of the medicine to help her get rid of extra fluid, but it was over. (I’d made a mental list of ‘it’s done’ symptoms to watch for).  It was- thankfully- fairly ‘quick’ at the end. The signs were easier to see.  I got her to the vet, who tried to turn things around, but he called me at work to let me know I need to come quickly. With Mandy, it’s harder.  Regardless, she has to go to the vet tomorrow to get checked out.

My dad and I have a ‘plan’  (God bless him – he’s 80 years old, and such a huge support, and he loves his ‘grand-dogger’). If I think I’m going to have to put Mandy to sleep tomorrow (not thinking that at the moment, but things are going back and forth a lot this weekend), he’ll drive and then take me to the pet crematorium.  If she seems like she’s doing fairly well, and just going to be seen by the vet, I’ll take her myself.  She’s good in the car (and loves car rides until she gets where she always goes- the groomer or the vet).  If something happens quickly tonight, and God forbid, she dies, he’ll take me to the pet crematorium. I’ll be a wreck.  The idea of putting her into a box to go to ‘that place’ breaks my heart.  I know she won’t know the difference at that point, but I will.  She’s been too good of a companion to put into a box for any reason. If there’s any way to keep her just wrapped in a blanket, that would be much better.  Even if it’s just for a 4 mile trip.  Even if it’s just because I can’t stand the idea of her being ‘disregarded’ by being in an ordinary box.

I’ve been through this before. I survived, and got another puppy who stole my heart all over again.  I can’t afford a schnauzer (which has been my favorite dog since I was a little kid), but my dad said he’d be sure I got the puppy I want, since he’s very aware that being on disability and having very little contact with people makes the companionship all that more important.  I’ve got my name on a schnauzer rescue list, and got an e-mail with 3 available, and very adorable, puppies just yesterday.  But, I won’t get another one until Mandy is gone- the stress of a rambunctious puppy probably would be too much for her- she’s never interacted much with other dogs (she hides behind my legs when I take her to the groomer), and gets a bit snooty about them sniffing her back door. She almost seems offended at ‘dog’ behavior :D.  I’m just hoping that Mandy does well enough to indicate she’s still enjoying life for a while to come. I know the outcome of canine heart failure.  I just have to be sure I’m reading her well enough to know when enough is enough.

I know other people love their pets as much as I do.  I think it feels ‘worse’ because I’m alone, and really don’t have contact with any other living thing as much as I do her, since I’m home all of the time. In the last 8.5 years on disability, we’ve been together nearly 24/7 unless I’m in the hospital, at some doctor appointment, or brief trips to the grocery store or pharmacy.  I talk to my dad pretty much every day- which is also really important. But Mandy is my primary source of interaction with anything alive and in ‘person’.  She is also really in tune to my routines, and understands a LOT of what I say (it’s kinda creepy sometimes- LOL).  I’ve never had kids or been married, but I think I can relate to the intense love a parent has for a kid, at least to some degree.  I’d do anything I could for Mandy, and if someone ever tried to harm her, I’d go postal.  And have no regrets.

It’s going to be horribly painful when she no longer has any quality of life.  Once it becomes a struggle for her, or there is any indication of suffering, it’s over.  I won’t put my best friend through anything that prolongs her misery to avoid my grief over losing her.  I know I keep writing about this, but it’s just so hard to think of her being gone.  I don’t mean to sound ‘dismissive’ when I talk about another puppy before Mandy is gone, but it’s how I keep my mind from being totally overwhelmed by grief.  The circle of life and all of that.  Knowing I’d get another puppy (Mandy) after my last dog died really helped me look forward, and not stay stuck in the crying part of acute grieving.  I could find some joy in a new ‘baby’.  I bought toys every payday until Mandy was old enough to come home. She  has an obscene number of stuffed animals now, most of which she ignores, so the new puppy will have a lot to play with as well.

Find Mandy !  She has about 10 times more toys now !!

Find Mandy ! She has about 10 times more toys now !!

As with anything in life, I can’t predict when Mandy will be too sick to ‘make’ her keep going, and I’ll have to let her go.  So, I have to keep myself prepared, and try and make her life the best it can be during the time she has left.  I also have to enjoy all of the time she has left.  Yes, I need to keep being realistic, but also can’t have her half gone while she’s still here!  I know I’ll love another puppy intensely, but right now it’s hard to imagine loving anything as much as I love Mandy. She has been such an important part of my life.  My primary goal is to give as much as I can to her for as long as she’s around. And know when the time comes to give her the final gift of no suffering.

Mandy in her sweater- 2012

Mandy in her sweater- 2012

In the meantime, I’ll probably keep writing.  I’ll keep having times when I’m in tears, and standing in the laundry area of my apartment so nobody can hear me cry when the spin cycle is going.  I’ll be a wreck after she’s gone. And I’ll love every minute I can still see her sweet face looking at me while she’s still here. ❤