Dear Diary: Strange things are happening

Dear Diary,

This past month has been very odd for me. First, I tried to let one of the neighbor’s dogs know that she couldn’t have the stick I was chewing on (it was MINE! I found it first!), and she got very mad at me. It hurt. Mommy took me to see daddy at the place where he goes every day, and they fixed me up.

I’ve had to go to work with daddy a whole bunch of times since then. He makes me sit on this scary table that’s up high, and then he gives me a shot. I don’t mind shots so much, but I don’t like this one. It makes me feel all heavy and funny, and then I take a nap and when I wake up my tongue is GIGANTIC and I have funny floppy things hanging out of my shoulder.

I’ve had to take lots of medicine too. Mommy usually gives them to me, and I don’t like to eat them. But if I eat them, I get Cheerios, so sometimes that’s okay.

Mommy feels my shoulder every day to make sure it’s not squishy anymore. It got squishy one time, and I had to take more medicine and have more floppy tubes put in me, but she seems to think it’s better now. Maybe my hair will start to grow back in that spot now. I don’t like having a weird bald spot right in the front where everybody can see it.

Also, big news: I have a baby sister now! Mommy and Daddy say she is a Lucy. I’m not sure what a Lucy is, but if she is a Lucy, I guess she’s okay. I like her mostly, but she eats my food and gets into my little house and chews on my toys. And I’m not allowed to chew on her toys! It’s not fair! I just want to show her how to pull all the chewy white stuff out of the inside of her animals and teach her to spread it evenly around the house. She obviously doesn’t know how to do that yet because she still sleeps with her fuzzy toys. SLEEPS WITH THEM! How weird is that??? Fuzzy things must die, and I must teach her this before it is too late.

She is fun to play with though. I didn’t really have anyone to play with before, but now we wrestle and play tug of war with the new giant rope Daddy bought us. I have to be careful when we wrestle though, because she is very much smaller than me. Sometimes I step on her accidentally and that makes her cry and I feel bad about it until she stops.

Also, I think something bad might be happening to us. Some of our things have been disappearing into big brown squares. The last time we had big brown squares, Mommy and Daddy put me into a rolling box and took me far away from Nana’s house and brought me to this house. I didn’t like it here for a long time. I missed Rosie and Lexie and my yard at Nana’s house, and it smelled funny here. I had to make new friends and learn to pee in new places. I didn’t like it.

A few days ago, Mommy took me and Lucy to another place that smelled funny. The yard smelled funny and the house didn’t have any soft things to lie down on and it made funny noises when I barked. I was all empty, like it was here when we first came. I don’t like that place at all. I hope all our things are not going to that place. My friends, Cash and Knox and Tyson, were not at that place. I wish Mommy and Daddy would just stay here, where it smells like us.

But if they do have to go to that empty place, I hope they take me. I don’t want to leave my friends, but it would be bad to leave Mommy and Daddy. I’m going to follow them around and sit right in Mommy’s lap every day until then, just to make sure they don’t forget to take me when they take the big brown squares of our stuff.

Lucy doesn’t seem bothered by the big brown squares. She likes to play in them. I hope Mommy and Daddy take her too. I don’t think she could survive all by herself with her evil fuzzy toys. So at least I will know someone at this new place, if we have to go there.

Maybe having a sister isn’t so bad after all.

Love,

Meera

 

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Because I married a caring man…

Because I married a caring man, I am sent inside to take off my heels while he walks the dog after work.

Because I married a caring man, I am allowed to sleep until my alarm goes off, even though he has to get ready for work as quietly as possible.

Because I married a caring man, I have a visitor for lunch on his day off. (This may also be because my building is a Pokestop, but we’ll let that pass.)

Because I married a caring man, we swerve for birds. (We are those people.)

Because I married a caring man, we’re getting another dog.

…Wait…. what?

Yes. You read that right. We’re getting another dog. I will admit I have not been on board with this over the past week, but this is me making an honest effort to get on the puppy train.

Yes! A puppy! We’re getting a puppy. Her name is Lucy (I named her, that’s something, right?) and she is approximately nine(ish) weeks old. She and her four siblings (no, we’re not bringing home the rest of them) came into the Mister’s clinic about a month ago after they were found abandoned at the local farmer’s market.

The Mister had been one of their primary caregivers for all these weeks, and had taken a shine to a particular favorite: a black lab-ish female with a white chest and two white toes on one foot.

This is Lucy.

Lucy is one of four remaining puppies after the first got sick and died. In an effort to save the rest of the litter, the siblings were split up last weekend and sent home with the clinic technicians. The Mister’s favorite quickly started to show symptoms. Bad symptoms.

This is the kind of disease that is highly fatal (but thankfully not transmissible to Meera), so the only options were to attempt to treat her (with small chance of success) and bring her home, or go ahead and put her down.

We made our decision Sunday night. Things did not look good for our little visitor.

But, because I married a caring man, Lucy’s 11th hour came and she was pardoned. A phone call to my office said, “I just can’t do it. I’m going to try and treat her.”

Surprisingly, our little friend has rallied throughout the week and is expected to go home early next. Home. To our apartment. With us.

Like I said, I admittedly have not been on the puppy train this week. I might not be on the puppy train next week either. But, because I married a caring man, I’m actually surprised this is the first time this has happened. So I’m making an effort to get on board. It’s not like this is the first dog we’ve ever trained, and it won’t be the last. We move into our house in just over a month and will have a yard and a lot more room then, so it’s not the end of the world.

And who knows, maybe this little black wiggly ball of fluff will worm her way into my heart like she’s done with the Mister. Meera already likes her, anyway.

[No pictures yet, but updates will come next week, I’m sure.]

How my fur-baby is teaching me to be a parent.

I’ve never gotten a Mother’s Day card. I’ve never had labor pains or contractions. I’ve never sat outside my baby’s door while he cried and prayed for him to soothe himself to sleep.

But I have comforted a scared baby in the middle of the night while the thunder rolls. I have rolled groggily out of bed in the wee hours to take care of bathroom needs. I have inspected poop and discussed bathroom habits at length. I have had a tiny head (or a heavy head, in recent weeks) fall asleep on my chest; I have also woken up with small feet in my ribs. I have taken my baby to sitters’ houses and to the doctor’s office and driven away while she cried and didn’t understand why I was leaving.

She didn’t come from my own body and I didn’t carry her for nine months, but she is no less my baby than someone else’s two-legged human child. And she has and is teaching me many things about how to be a good parent to those human children if and when they hopefully come along.

She has phases just like human children – she throws tantrums, she listens well sometimes and not at others, she is smart one day and sort of dumb the next. I have phases too; phases where I love her so much one moment and want to lock her in a box the next. I feel like that’s probably normal.

The phase we are in now is wanting to sleep on the bed at night, and I am learning a lot from the successes and failures of this phase.

She is allowed on the bed during the day, but has learned that she must (A) be invited, and (B) stay on the blue part of the comforter. These two things have been successful, although I don’t know how they stuck so well, but we at least have that.

In St. Kitts, she slept in the floor but would spend the last hour (between potty time and real waking up time) sleeping on the foot of the bed. When we came back to America, we decided there would be no dogs sleeping on the bed at all. This worked for a while and we didn’t have any problems. Then came the winter, when it was cold and I wanted to avoid taking her out to potty as long as possible. I found Meera would sleep longer and more soundly if we let her sleep at the foot of the bed; so we did. This also served the double purpose of keeping our feet extra toasty. When the summer started, she made us too hot and had to resume sleeping in the floor.

Well, she didn’t like that so much.

At first, she would give us the horrible pleading puppy eyes at bedtime and we wouldn’t have the heart to make her move. She got her way for a while. Then, she would start out in the floor but later disregard the “must be invited” rule and sneak onto the bed in the middle of the night when we either wouldn’t notice or would be too exhausted to bother trying to correct her. She won again. Now, most recently, she starts out in the floor and tries to sneak onto the bed. I make her get down and tell her to be quiet. She settles back into the floor for about 10 minutes before taking up a post near my head and groaning softly until I acknowledge her presence.

“Hush, Meera! Lie down!”

She resumes her silent staring. A few minutes later, the groaning starts again. “NO, Meera!” Silence. Then she’ll go around to the foot of the bed and try to make another sneak attempt where she doesn’t have to climb over me and might get away with it. The Mister wakes up irritated at this point.

“Meera! Get down! Shut up!”

This cycle repeats itself throughout the night.

On the one hand, I’m always tempted to just pat the mattress and let her win. It’s faster, easier, and I can go back to sleep without further incident. That little head curled up on my legs is so comforting. But there is always the inevitable moment hours later when I try to move my legs and can’t – there’s a very large, very solid object in the way. Said object is more than half my body weight and very, very warm. Said object is also, probably, snoring. You see, she observes the “stay only on the blue part” rule very well, and at night, when the comforter is pulled up around the Mister and I, the entire bed is the blue part… and she wants it all.

Down she goes into the floor again and the routine resumes. I don’t feel like we’re getting much sleep.

On the other hand, I can stay strong, be firm and say no. It won’t kill her to sleep in the floor or in the armchair in the living room. This, while painful for me now, is ultimately for her own good. Parents have to be the bad guys sometimes. If I let her win, she will run my life. I am her mother, not her friend. Be a parent, not a peer. Stay strong!

The voices in my head repeat these and other such cliches throughout the cycle.

In the morning, she’s always by my feet. I don’t know how this happens. We’ll try again tomorrow.

So, in summary, parenting lessons learned:

  • Don’t let the babies start doing things you don’t want them to do forever, because it’s harder to change the habit than to prevent the habit.
  • When you say no, mean it. They know when you are weak. Be strong!!
  • Just because she doesn’t like it doesn’t mean it’s hurting her.
  • Punishments must be consistent and predictable. She has to know that when she gets on the bed or knocks over the trash or doesn’t come when she’s called she will get a predictable, unpleasant result every. single. time. Not just sometimes, because she’s willing to play the odds. (See #2.)
  • I am a total pushover.

I think everyone thinking of someday having human children should have to train a dog first.

What do you think?

The Slime Incident

Have you ever wondered what it would smell like if a tomcat peed on a dead frog, left it to bake in the sun for three days, and then smeared the still-gooey parts all over something you love?

I had not. But yesterday, I found out anyway.

The lunch hour started off as any other – I left work with one hour to take care of the dog and grab something to eat at the house. I got home, released the hound into the yard and let her do her business.

That’s when things started to go south.

The first time she rolled, I thought, “Ok, it’s hot, maybe whatever it is is dry enough that it won’t smell much.”

The second time she rolled, I yelled at her. (Can’t chase her, I’m in heels and dress clothes.) The third and fourth times I just held my breath and hoped there was some way this could end with me making my 2:00 meeting.

When she raced past me back toward the apartment door… I caught it. Just a whiff. Just a slight bit of scent that suggested something had died long ago and the spirit world had rejected its remains and sent them back to the land of the living.

She was waiting at the top of the stairwell when I reached her. And reached for her. And touched it.

Something – I hesitate to try to guess what – was sticky, and thick, and all over her shoulder, neck, collar, ear and face.

We went immediately to the bathroom.

I stripped out of my high heels and fancy office clothes and threw the bathroom rugs out into the hallway. I turned on the water and grabbed the first large container I could find. The dog had fled. I had 35 minutes left in my lunch break.

She wasn’t hard to find. Even if I hadn’t known she was hiding in her kennel, I would have smelled her a mile away. That box reeked to high heaven and I’m just glad she came out on her own rather than having to go in after her.

After three attempts, I trapped her in the bathroom. Now to get her into the tub. You have to remember, we’re not talking about a chihuahua here; we’re talking about a 70ish-pound dog who is two-thirds my body weight and very stubborn. I did, with some luck, manage to haul her into the tub without getting the goo of death all over me. I rinsed and rinsed and scrubbed her with green apple shampoo. She tried to escape. I shoved her back into the tub and rinsed some more. She was not happy. Twenty-five minutes left.

I ended up having to scrub her down twice because once was just not enough. She shook smelly water all over the bathroom in protest. Fifteen minutes left. I dried her off and put the towel straight into the washing machine. I dried myself and inspected my clothes to make sure I didn’t have any of the goo on me somewhere. I got re-dressed and bolted down two slices of leftover pizza before racing back to work.

I walked into my office as the meeting was starting. I am woman. Hear me roar.

Top Ten Thursday – My dog might be smarter than me

Ok, maybe not all the time, but there are definitely days when I stare in wonder as Meera does something ingenious and I ask myself why I’ve been knocking things over and losing things all day long if my dog can figure out how to do whatever it is she just did.

She’s not solving the problems of the universe or anything, but when you consider the fact that she’s a DOG, it’s pretty intelligent.

For example:

1. We brought her two brand-new tennis balls from the States when we came back. These balls haven’t been used by any other dog and are straight out of the tube, so they don’t smell like dog or anything like that. They were in the bottom of a fully-packed suitcase. I walked into the living room one day and found her with her head half-buried under the contents of that suitcase, like she was bobbing for apples, and when she came up she had a bright yellow tennis ball proudly in her mouth. How did she find it????

2. We also brought her a giant-sized rawhide bone – and I mean like dinosaur-leg-sized – from my mother. She not only stole it from a suitcase and somehow got it down the stairs, but she propped it against the bed, jumped up first and then hauled it up behind her because she couldn’t jump with it in her mouth. Physics?? Really????

3. She knows I don’t let her eat foreign objects she finds in the yard, so instead of carrying them through the yard in front of me (sitting on the back stairs), she has started trying to carry them under the stairs so she goes behind me and I won’t see her. It doesn’t always work, but it’s a good try.

4. She likes to chew on empty plastic bottles, mostly for the noise. The problem, though, is that she doesn’t like them to have the tops on them. So, to solve this problem, she grabs the top-end and chews until the cap expands out and then she pulls it off. (Then she tries to eat pieces of the bottle. Not so smart.)

5. So, to solve this problem, we bought her an elephant plush toy that holds a bottle inside so that she can chew and get the noise but not be able to eat the plastic. It lasted two days before she found the velcro strip, pulled it open and removed the bottle.

BUT, there are also days when I wonder if she’s got a brain in her silly little head at all.

For instance:

6. She runs from everything. Dripping pipes, rustling tree branches, blowing curtains, squeaky doors… really anything that moves or makes noise. And I do mean anything.

7. Sometimes she stands on our back porch and just barks at the world in general, for no reason at all. I think it’s the voices in her head.

8. We use her large kennel to block the stairs to the backyard so we can have the porch doors open but she can’t escape when I’m not looking. Today I pulled the kennel back from the opening and started down the stairs, expecting her to follow me, but she stood on the porch whining at me through the railing. I couldn’t figure out why until she started nosing at the kennel. She thought she was still blocked in! Matthew had to go back up to the porch and physically show her how to walk around it.

But I still love her anyway. Somehow. Despite all the afternoons when she drives me nuts and I can’t figure out what she wants from me. It’s those times when I wish she could talk… and then I’m always immediately glad she can’t. There are two primary reasons why I’m glad we got her when we did, even though she does create some extra stress at times.

9. First of all, she gives me something to look after during the day; she keeps me company and keeps me busy; she loves me more than Matthew and she proves that I can keep something alive for longer than two weeks.

10. Secondly, she reminds me on a daily basis why I’m glad we don’t have children right now.

What funny things does your dog do?