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…

One Week Since Mandy Died… Still Brings Tears

It’s been one week since my miniature schnauzer Mandy died in my arms.  While it wasn’t unexpected, it’s never easy.  The end was mercifully fast- but I wish I had spent more time holding her, and not rushing off to the cemetery where they have a pet cremation service. I hated giving her to the guy who worked there, though he was so gentle and respectful… but I was saying goodbye to my best friend.  I think about her all the time and will bust out in tears over anything that remotely reminds me of her.  I’ve been through this before. I know it gets better, but for now, it sucks.

I spent the vast majority of the last 8 1/2 years on disability being at home with Mandy.  We knew each other’s routines and quirks, and I miss that.  When I unload the dishwasher or clothes dryer, she’s not there snooping.  There’s nobody snuggling in bed over on her part of it, with her blankets and comforter.  Nobody is there to do all she can to get as close to me as possible during thunderstorms.  She isn’t here to jump UP on her recliner (yes, a people recliner), but then walk DOWN the doggie stairs to minimize strain on her joints.  She’s not here to sit in front of me, and then walk backwards towards the kitchen if she wanted her canned dog food (or at the end, whatever people food I could get down her that was low sodium).

That last day started out like any morning over the last two weeks had- she wanted food, and was alert and snooping around.  When ‘it’ started, she had either fainted or had some episode that caused her to lose consciousness.  The whimper was the clue for me- she wasn’t a ‘noisy’ dog, so with any ‘distressing’ noise,  I knew something was wrong and immediately went over to her- and picked her up.  She started to squirm a bit, and wanted to be put down, at which time she went straight to her pee pads and peed.  Then she walked about two steps and froze.  The look in her eyes was one of incomprehension. She just looked at me with eyes that said she was scared, and triggered the ‘go help her’ reaction in me.  I picked her up, and she ‘felt’ different. She wasn’t as stable keeping herself balanced, so I got her laid on her comforter, putting a disposable bed pad under her (after the fainting spells, she has bladder and bowel ‘issues’).

Then it was just time to hold her and talk to her.  She had her ears up a few times, but it was obvious that this was bad.  She wasn’t going to make it out of this spell.   It was going fast, which was a blessing for her, but I felt like my heart was ripped out.  I kept telling her how much I loved her and thanking her for being the best friend I could have had.  I told her I’d miss her, but that I knew she was tired and it was OK…. she could go and rest.  Her breathing got ‘agonal’- or more like shallow gasps every 5-10 seconds, gradually slowing down, her tongue getting pale.  And then she was still.  No more struggles. No more wondering what to do with her to make her feel better. No more medication or foods to try. No more hoping I was doing the right thing by her.  No more heartbeat.  She was gone.

My dad got there about 5 minutes later, and I’d already called the pet crematorium, that would be closing soon; they were going to wait for us to get there.  I felt rushed, but knew that I would lose it if I had to put my best friend in a box in the garage overnight if we didn’t get her over there ‘on time’… but I really didn’t want to let her go so quickly.  I wanted time to just be with her.  I wanted to hold her for a while longer.   I wanted that time to be ‘enough’ to feel like I wasn’t just rushing to make it before they closed.  I know that the rational thing to do was what was done- but I just wanted those last irretrievable moments to feel her in my arms.  To scratch her ears one  more time (or two, or three).  To rub that place between her eyes that made her relax.  To just BE with her.  To see that she was at peace.  To just have time alone to say goodbye to my best friend.  I might go weeks without seeing another human being at times- but Mandy was there every day for the 11 1/2 years I had her, and with me 24/7 for the 8 1/2 years I was on disability. She was my world.  Sure, I talked to my dad daily, and we do see each other regularly…. but Mandy was my constant.  And then she was gone.

It’s only been a week. I don’t expect the pain to be gone, or even all that much lessened.  With nothing else going on with any sort of regularity (like work, that I was still able to do when my last dog died in 2001), Mandy was what gave my days order.  This is a new normal that I do not like !

I’m planning on getting another puppy, and have found a breeder I like. The next litter is due sometime in the spring. I like this breeder well enough to wait; the photo of the puppy I saw in the ad for this last litter was perfect.  An absolute doll- so I will wait, and have something to look forward to, which helps with the healing. I’m getting things puppy-proofed and some new goodies for her.  I’ve picked out a name, and have first dibs on the female puppies with the litter to come.  That puppy will never replace Mandy, but she will fill the dog sized hole that has been ripped open in my heart.

I’m so thankful for the years I had Mandy. She was special.  I’ve loved each of my three dogs (all miniature schnauzers), but the amount of time I was around her made for a different type of bond.  She actually understood a LOT of words. Dad could ask her to do the same things, and she’d sit down and stare at him. If I asked her to do something, it was done. 🙂

I miss her and will probably keep writing about her.  I can’t imagine loving a human as much as I’ve loved my dogs.  I’m lucky that I’ve had wonderful dogs in my life, and I know that getting another one means I’ll have to face this loss again. But life is so much better having had them with me for the years I have.  There is no more loyal friend. ❤

Mandy- 20113/28/01 - 12/27/12

Mandy- 2011
3/28/01 – 12/27/12