We Took A Little Break

A few weeks ago I had to have the air duct system under the house replaced. The old one was originally installed, I think, around 1988 or 89 after Sam moved in. (Before we knew each other.)

The air quality inside the house was, well let’s just say, poor. And the dust just. would. not. go away. I’d dust one room; and before I even moved on to the next room, the dust would be right back where it had been. It was frustrating to say the least.

So along with having the system replaced, I bought some air purifiers from Amazon and have had them running at various speeds all day long every day. I could tell the difference almost immediately.

I also did a “spring cleaning” of sorts of the main part of the house. Being the only human in the house, I could only reach so far even standing on the step stool or laying on the floor with the dust mop; but I got about 95% of the dust. I let my little robot vacuum do the rest of the reachable areas.

I still have to do the big room downstairs, but that’s going to take a week at least. First I have to get rid of some most of the clutter that’s accumulated over the 28 years since we closed in the carport and made it into my office and laundry area. That job alone could easily take a week, especially since I still can’t bring myself to part with some dog toys, clothes, collars, etc. from as far back as Kissy. (For those of you who don’t know, Kissy was my own first dog as an adult. She was a small miniature poodle who came with me when I moved down here in 1993 – from Long Island, NY – to marry Sam.)

So, with all the cleaning I had to do, I had to take a break so I could give Zen and Zoey some quality time. I’ll take another break while I’m (finally) doing the room downstairs. But Zen, Zoey, and I will return! And I’ll probably be posting pix and videos on Facebook of my two hooligans.

The pups’ monthly Gotcha Day is coming up in less than two weeks; and Zen’s first yearly birthday is two weeks from today so you know I’ll be doing a post for that! And Zoey will have her first half-year birthday the very next day. ๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‚๐ŸŽˆ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿพ๐Ÿพ

Playtime in the yard.

Happy Anniversary Sam

Today is our 29th Wedding Anniversary. Right now we should be enjoying our morning hug and first cup of coffee. We ought to be enjoying it together. We ought to be looking forward to celebrating with our dinner at Schwaben House later on, sharing our joy with Annette and Giorgio and the staff as we have for the last several years.

I miss you so much! I hear our favorite songs and they start the tears flowing. Or I go into Publix and avoid the ice cream shelves in the frozen food section – especially the Haagen Dasz bars that we always enjoyed together.

I never used to mind living without another human, as long as I had a canine companion. Now, after all our years together, I feel so empty and alone at times. Zen and Zoey are so sweet, and such good company … they make me smile and laugh and at times yell in frustration … but they’re not you. While you were in the hospital I could at least cling to the hope that a miracle would make you whole again and able to come home.

Sam, I know you’re up there in Heaven watching over me. You’re my Guardian Angel now; and along with Callie, Shadow, Ducky, Radar, and Bogie, you’re also watching over Zen and Zoey for me. I try to be my old cheerful, optimistic, sometimes silly self because I know that’s what you would want to see me being. Out in public I usually am. Here at home is another story.

I love you, Sam. I always have loved you. Our little squabbles and arguments were just that because we were soulmates from the start. Our connection goes much deeper than just our hearts. It joins our souls, and even though you’re not here physically, I know your spirit is here with me. I just miss our physical togetherness, our “us”, being able to feel your hand in mine or your arms around my waist. I know you whisper in Zen’s ear sometimes because he’ll stand on his hind legs and put his front legs against my chest and paws on my shoulders and give me a hug and a slobbery kiss. Don’t ever stop, please. I need those Zen hugs!

Zen Hugs

Happy Anniversary Sam! Have I Told You Lately that I love you, that there’s no one else above you? That was our wedding song and it will always be our song. I will miss you forever and always, until we meet again.

Missing My (Human) Soulmate

It is with very deep sadness that I must tell you my beloved husband, Sam, passed peacefully in his sleep early Friday morning, October 7th. ๐Ÿ’”๐Ÿ˜ข.

Remembering Sam’s better days.

Most – if not all – of my long time readers know (but may not remember) that Sam was diagnosed with early-onset dementia in June of 2018. Back then it was still mild enough that Sam could enjoy a sense of independence. As the years passed, however, his cognitive abilities became so impaired that the doctors insisted he not be allowed to drive any more. That loss of independence really bothered him. Then Bogie had his traumatic accident, and a month later we lost Ducky to the sudden heart failure. The two losses coming so close together devastated us both and really started Sam’s downward spiral.

Before the dementia took control of Sam’s mind, we had a soul-to-soul connection, an affinity with each other that carried us through many trivial arguments over this or that. And it helped me separate the Sam I love from the dementia-induced alter ego who angered me, disappointed me, and hurt my feelings so often.

The real Sam was a kind-hearted, loving, friendly soul who never met a stranger. The real Sam loved his family – including each one of our many fur babies – with his whole heart, and we all love him. Now Sam and the fur kids (except Zen obviously) are all together again. Sam is no longer being chased relentlessly by his dementia demons; and all the earthly anxieties that plagued Ducky when Sam’s demons were lurking about are gone. So now they can all relax and enjoy each other’s company while they wait for Zen and me to join them.

I miss the real Sam. I know his spirit is with me, but I miss his physical presence. I miss our morning hugs, sitting in his lap with my head against his shoulder when I was sad, our walks around the back yard. I miss our day trips to the mountains with the pups. I miss his smile, his laugh, his hand reaching for mine. I miss watching him interact with the dogs. And I will miss him and each of them until it’s my turn to join them.

Grief is the price we pay for love. I know the pain of this loss will ebb and flow. I’m prepared for that. So I’ll close this post with a simple requestโ€ฆprayers for anyone and everyone impacted in some way by dementia. It is a horribly cruel disease, worse than cancer in my opinion.

I don’t have the obituary quite ready yet; but I can tell you that we will have a simple memorial service for Sam at our church a week from Saturday. For anyone who wants more details, just send me a message or email.

Zen’s Chillin’ with Grandpa

My little boy is spending some time with his grandpa, doggie mama, auntie, and cousins – being taught doggie manners by five adult dogs in the same house. And getting a break from the stress of dealing with his human daddy’s dementia. And giving me a break from his teething. ๐ŸŠ ๐Ÿฆˆ

Exploring Grandpa’s Yard
The room where he spent the first 8 weeks of his life.

“Grandpa Chuck” has been enjoying Zen’s time with him, too. I get glowing reports – and photos and/or videos – daily. Zen is being an absolutely perfect house guest. No teething, no biting, and no “accidents” to clean up. He did need a bath though after spending part of last Saturday helping his grandpa wash his truck. ๐Ÿคช

Meanwhile, I’m here at home, working with hubby’s dementia doctor, trying to help him deal with the challenges of the dementia. I’m alone physically but I do have emotional support in the form of family and friends. And I can call our medical professionals any time I have questions.

I miss my canine emotional support team (Ducky and Bogie) and my “little ray of sunshine” (Zen) but I’m managing. At least I don’t have to worry about any of them getting hurt or feeling neglected.

My K9 Emotional Support Team
My “Little Ray of Sunshine”

So, on this Friday after Thankful Thursday, I’m thankful for caring, supportive medical professionals, family members, and friends (both online and IRL). More thankful than any words can convey.

Have a great weekend everyone! If it’s hot where you live – like it is here – stay cool and hydrated! If it’s cold, then keep warm (and hydrated). Love you all! Thanks for being our friends!

A Land Shark Has Possessed My Puppy!

HELP! A land shark has possessed the body and soul of my sweet puppy!

This sweet little fella I was so thankful for a week or so ago

has been possessed by demon land sharks! Now he’s attacking not only his toys, furniture, clothes, and shoes, but also me. And I have the scars to prove it! And in some pretty private places that I won’t show/name here,

And that’s just for starters. My arms look like I have chicken pox. Tuesday night when I was texting with Bogie’s trainer, James called him a furry alligator. And that’s about what this little guy has turned into.

The odd thing is, I’m the ONLY human he’s focusing on for his “Baby Jaws” bites. He plays nicely with his daddy, and if he bites him it’s only by accident. And on the way home from the airport on Wednesday night, he very calmly laid on the back seat with his head on his Uncle Doug’s leg.

I love and adore this little guy; but for the sake of my sanity and my skin, he has spent a lot of time in the kitchen these last few days. I hate it, but he is stressing me out. I can’t figure out why he’s deliberately biting at MY clothes and skin, no matter how many times I reinforce him for playing with his toys.

“This too shall pass” they say. But he just started teething a few days ago. He has another few months to go yet.

HELP! Help me change “Baby Jaws”, my “furry alligator”, back into the sweet puppy he was a week ago!

Happy First Heavenly Birthday Sweet Bogie

You were taken from us way too soon, sweet boy! Daddy, Ducky, Uncle Doug, and I miss you terribly. Daddy, Uncle Doug, and I still have tearful moments. And Ducky still looks for you multiple times a day. Sometimes, I’m sure, she senses your presence.

Last week I wrote a list of some of the things I miss about you. I thought it would help my shattered heart. So, here goes…..

Things I Miss About Bogie

His goofy smile…

His sweet, loving nature.

His innate ability to sense when his Daddy needed him.

His affectionate nature. He was all about giving “kisses” and climbing into my lap – in the chair – or laying next to me on the couch with his head in my lap.

His pestering Ducky all the time.

His stealing Ducky’s Kong Bounzer out in the yard.

His stealing paper towels and tissues off the tables in the living room whenever he had the chance.

His love of life.

Zoomies!

His love for us and Ducky.

His physical presence.

His wanting to be with us all. the. time.

Everything.

A Trainer’s Tribute

Back when we had our first appointments with our current vet, I asked for a recommendation for a dog trainer for Bogie. The young man they recommended highly is now our friend as well.

Like everyone else who had met our precious boy, James fell in love with Bogie instantly. On Tuesday morning he sent me the following tribute with a request for permission to post it on his business page. At the bottom of this post I will include James’ info.

————-

“He never got to see the snow.

“A day short of seeing and running through it, feeling and tasting it in the wind.

“He was beautiful, and he was just beginning to see the world as all dogs do at that age. He wasn’t yet a year old.

“In just a short time, a matter of almost a couple of months, I saw him grow and his heart expand, and the potential growth both as an incredible student and a wonderful family dog.

“Our last session together we began to work with him on his leash. He was so curious and eager to see the world around him. I knew the next steps would be a milestone for him, the next session a new achievement.

“When you’ve been doing this as long as I have, you can see deep into their eyes sometimes, and see a spark of light into what an incredible future is just a pawprint or two away.

“When my client messaged me, myself now a day into the snowstorm, I had to read it over and over again to understand.

“The gate was open, it happens. It happens to all dog owners sometime in their journey with their dog. Gates open, it happens.

“He ran, he ran through the gate with everything he had in him. The kind of exhilaration we only find in dreams.

“The driver never stopped. They didn’t even slow down, continuing to fly on the asphalt away from their wrongdoing, outrunning fault and forgiveness.

“Two children across the street saw what happened,, and brought his body to the driveway. A lady, a stranger, stopped in the middle of the road and held up traffic so the children could safely carry him across.

“I wish children had been part of his life’s story in so many, many other ways.

“Out of respect to the deep and open pain the family is still feeling, I can’t and won’t say his name.

“I wrote this because sometimes pain has to transmute to meaning, otherwise it just keeps eating at you.

“He was a good boy. I had only seen him the day before, and had I even a hint of the loss that would have been felt… I would have wished with all I had to give, that he could’ve had one dance in the snow.

“I will miss you, and every student after that reminds me of you, I will hold a part of you as I guide them on their journey; a journey you deserved to see so much more of than you had.

“With All, Sweet Boyโค๐Ÿถโค”

———

With deepest gratitude, I now give you James’ info: James Lyon, owner of Ilio Canine Care. Check out his website at http://www.iliocaninecare.com. James also has business pages on Facebook and Instagram.

ACE Free Work, Ducky & Me

*ACE stands for Animal Centred Education, and is a program conceived and built from the ground up by a British gal by the name of Sarah Fischer.

To greatly simplify and shorten a long and complicated story, Sarah has been doing free work with many different animals for several years in an attempt to find reasons for their unwanted behavior, including reactivity and/or sensitivity to many things, people, and other animals. She also uses Tellington TTouch body work to introduce handling but ACE includes Free Work and detailed observations which give clues to a dog’s sensitivities. 

I first learned  about ACE and Free Work from my friend, Janet Finlay, who owns and operates Canine Confidence Academy in the U.K. and provides online learning as well as person-to-person workshops (up until the pandemic shutdown and will start again as mitigation makes it possible). I’ve taken several of Janet’s online courses over the years since we adopted Ducky, including the current (ongoing) one – Your End of the Lead 2.0 (an updated version of her original course by the same name) – to help me deal with Ducky’s reactivity. The courses also include private communities/forums where those of us taking the course can share our videos and stories without fear of judgment and form valuable alliances with other guardians of reactive dogs.

In some ways, Free Work for dogs is similar to beginner nose work; but instead of hiding treats, you put them in full view of the dog. Generally, we use a variety of surfaces, enrichment toys, etcetera, as the “course” layout so that the dog gets sensory information through its feet, nose, eyes, ears, etc.  Once the course is set up, you invite the dog to explore it.

If possible, video the session (so you can watch later to pick up on those things you might miss) while the dog is exploring and getting the treats and observe her/his movement and posture, noting things that they like, nervous system responses, preferences (with respect to the direction they move in, objects they interact with, etc). Don’t include items in the course that you know are concerning to the dog, or remove an item if the dog appears to be wary of it. And, importantly, observe without any expectations as to the outcome.  (Believe me, that last part takes some practice!)

The great thing about Free Work is that you don’t have to buy any special equipment – you can use whatever items you already own. And you can lay out just one or two items, or four or five, with enough room for the dog to move freely around them. (If your dog is super sensitive or tentative to her/his environment, it’s probably better to start with only one or two items so as not to overwhelm them.)

For Ducky, I needed a space where I could give her the freedom of eating her breakfast away from the main source of her anxiety – her “Daddy”. And, because she was so anxious at times that she wouldn’t eat out of her regular food bowl, I got out some different lickimats that I’ve purchased over the last couple of years. At first I just laid out the lickimats on the floor of my “office”. Then I experimented with different heights – like a 12-pack of toilet paper, an overturned Amazon box, and an agility cone (with the lickimat bowl inverted over it). Over the last several months, this has become Ducky’s preferred way to eat her breakfast. 

The ACE Free Work not only gave me a way to relieve Ducky’s morning anxieties enough for her to eat; but it also gave me a learning opportunity. While observing her movement around the room via the videos I posted, several of my course mates (and Janet) started picking up on clues that she had some definite areas of bodily discomfort. When those clues were pointed out to me – in addition to the clues I was picking up on myself – I saw something that greatly concerned me: that Ducky might have cruciate disease in her left hind leg. As you know from an earlier post, that didn’t turn out to be the case; but she does have dysplasia in her left hip and we now have options for relieving and managing the pain.

So, with all that said, if you’re interested in learning more about ACE Free Work, I suggest checking out Sarah Fisher’s website: http://www.tilleyfarm.org.uk.  There is a private group on Facebook, as well, called “ACE Connections” that you can ask to join.

Just Catching Up

Hi Everyone! We’ve been busy around here between Ducky and the bees, doctor appointments, and a ten-day visit from my brother.

I’ve been focusing on Ducky’s behavior – specifically her reactions to hubby – for quite some time now with help from my friend, Janet Finlay, who owns the Canine Confidence Academy (based in the UK). Janet’s website provides so many resources and courses for guardians of reactive dogs that I haven’t had a chance to peruse them all even after more than a few years as a member. I had actually signed up for and started her original course – Your End of the Lead – several years ago and it really helped me help Ducky; but as happens from time to time, life got in the way and I had to switch some priorities around for a while.

Janet has also written a book, Your End of the Lead, which is a condensed version of her original course by the same name, with some additional newer material as well. It’s well worth the read, in my opinion, and is available on Amazon, Dogwise, and another site I can’t remember at the moment. And there are also some closed Facebook groups and a forum you can join once you become a member of the club.

Just so y’all know – Janet is NOT paying me to review her website or book. I’m sharing the information with you because I believe in Janet’s approach to training/working with reactive dogs and helping the humans who live with and love them. I believe in them because using her approach has helped me to help Ducky. ย (I don’t have any affiliate relationships with Amazon or Dogwise, or the third publisher, either, so I’ll make absolutely no money by promoting anything.)

Ducky is still somewhat reactive to strangers – especially here at home – but she was much more relaxed during my brother’s last visit than she has ever been.

Anyway, this past weekend found us reflecting on two anniversaries – Saturday (the 24th) was Callie’s 4th anniversary in Heaven; and Sunday (the 25th) was Shadow’s half-year anniversary being reunited with Callie. It was tough on me, emotionally; but I am thankful that my Golden Girls blessed hubby and me (and Ducky, too!) with so much unconditional love and so many wonderful memories. I’m also thankful that I was able to share their lives with you all for so many years. And, the reflection made me realize that I truly am ready to add another Golden Retriever to our family. We recently submitted an adoption application to our local breed rescue group, so please start sending us some really good vibes to help us get approved.

Well, that about sums up our lives for the past several weeks. Ducky’s doing great – watching a squirrel on the trunk of the oak tree at this moment – and enjoying life. She loves having all our attention; but she misses her sisters/favorite playmates.

Play with me, Mom! I want attention!

 

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I Almost Gave In

As hubby and a few of my local friends are aware, I’ve spent the last week or two considering adding a new Golden Retriever puppy to our little family.

I checked local GR rescue groups’ websites, tried reaching out to two breeders I knew of on FB Messenger, asked local friends – some of whom work for our vet – if they know of other breeders, etc.

Yesterday, I found the phone number of Callie’s breeder. And I called her. She has a litter, and one puppy left from that litter. A little female. I felt my heart skip a beat. I had had my heart set on a male; but hubby said the gender didn’t matter to him. And he’s the reason I was even considering getting another dog to begin with.

The price Debbie was asking nearly floored me. I mean, I know it’s been 15 years since we brought Callie home; but good grief! Anyway, I was willing to pay it if hubby really wanted another Golden puppy.

Then reality “hit” me square in the face: I’m. just. not. ready. I’m still too emotionally raw after “losing” Shadow four months ago. And I don’t believe Ducky’s quite ready for a younger sibling. And then there’s the long-term commitment: food, vet care, training, enrichment, time, etcetera.

So, I called Debbie back and thanked her for offering to lower her price “just because I know you and know you’re a good pet parent”; but I had to decline. She understands. I knew she would.

Some day, maybe, the time and circumstances will be right. I hope so, at least. I do sooooo want another Golden. I’m thankful that hubby understands that this is not the right time. And I’m thankful to my friends for their support on both sides of the decision.

There’s so much to be thankful for, but friends and family sums it all up pretty well. I love you all! โค๏ธ

Iโ€™m joining Brianโ€™s Home Blog in the Thankful Thursday Blog Hop! Visit some other blogs to see what they are thankful for.

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