Monday, December 6, 2010

Ooooooh Christmas Tree

Sundays are a special day for Gary and I. They are special because Sundays are Gary's only days off. Between Gary's six day work weeks and my evening classes, we don't get to spend a whole lot of time together. The time in the evenings that we do spend together, we are generally exhausted and lazy and simply share our days over a lovely meal or during commercial breaks. Sundays are different. Oh so different. On Sundays we sleep in and wake up slow, we watch football, make breakfast (or brunch), and make plans for all the wonderful things we need to do, making sure to include a nice walk for the dogs.

Today was no exception. We woke up late, started some chores, then set off with the dogs up to Eaglecrest to cut down some Christmas trees. We put all three dogs in the cab of my truck because it was too cold for them to sit in the bed and once we got the trees, they wouldn't fit. So in the very small space in the back seat of my very small Mazda truck, Crimson and JD cuddled up and Max sat on my lap up front. Max is an incredibly smart Beagle and if he can see out the window while we're driving, he knows exactly where he is going. He knows that if we are driving out North Douglas that he is a) going to go for a walk or b) going to see my dad. When he realizes that one or both of these things is going to happen, he starts to whimper and whine and fidget. So as soon as we got on the bridge to Douglas, Max began to turn in circles on my lap, whining in my face. Sorry kneecaps.

We finally reached the road to Eaglecrest and pulled over to go search the meadows for the perfect tree. All three dogs leashed and ready, we broke our way through the brush and crunched through the snow in our Xtra Tuffs. Once we were far enough away from the road, I let Max and Crimson run off leash, but as JD is a little bit senile decided to keep him on the leash and close by. Gary found a tree for his grandparents right away; a sweet little jack pine or "Charlie Brown" tree. Those are the ones his family loves, I don't know why, it's just their tradition. So he sawed it down and went off to throw it in the truck while the dogs and I went to search for another perfect tree for Gary's aunt. I had to tug on JD's leash a lot to keep him going. He's a little bit blind and I don't think he completely trusted me to lead him in the right direction. I don't blame him, I've fell in plenty of snow holes leading myself down the wrong path.

Gary came back and found us...wait, where's Max? We whistled and called for him, each of us saying, "I can hear him, but I can't see him." Beagle Boy's black, brown, and white spots blend in a little too well with the trees and snow. After a few minutes I spotted his neon green leash trailing behind him and remembered why I had bought that particular leash.

We found another tree for Gary's aunt, but couldn't find one for ourselves because we're not really into the jack pine tradition. It was starting to get dark so we decided to take the trees we had cut down and go buy ourselves a pre-cut tree because we didn't want to wait until next weekend to go on another tree cutting adventure. And I'm so glad we did because it smells soooo nice (although the smell is so nice, I'm afraid a dog will pee on it). Gary's grandparents and aunt were very appreciative. We even got some rice krispy treats and $10 out of it.

Now after wrestling our own tree into the house and into the stand, then scaring all the dogs with the vacuum, our tree is up and I think it'll probably be another week before we get the chance to decorate it.

Friday, December 3, 2010

In the Dog House

So I slept on the couch last night...

I was up until 1 AM doing homework so Gary went to bed without me. When I went in the bedroom, JD was curled up in the middle of the bed and Gary was halfway onto my side of the bed. Now, I was okay with JD being on the bed because he had a very rough day. JD had a seizure which scared the crap out of us and made him completely lethargic (he's fine now, don't worry). Anyways, I succeeded in squeezing in next to them and falling asleep quite quickly.

Around 5:00 I realized that the room felt like it was nine million degrees. Oh never mind, all of the blankets were piled on top of me. I kicked off the covers and resituated my pillow. That's when JD woke up and started panting. When JD pants, it isn't quiet; he pants with his entire body. Not only was he shaking the bed, but he was so loud that I couldn't fall back asleep. After tossing and turning for awhile, I figured out that if I put my hand on JD's head he would lay down and be quiet. The problem with that was I had to lay across Gary's legs to reach JD. Instead I took Gary's dead asleep lifeless hand and propped it on top of JD. Finally, sleep, precious sleep.

Before I could fall back asleep, Max started snoring. It wasn't his normal snore either. It was like he had started a lawn mower in our room. I got up and moved him several times, trying to open his airways and when that didn't work I threw a pillow at him. But then I was missing a pillow. So now it was 6:30 and I had to be up in an hour. And that is when I ended up on the couch where the air is cooler and no one snores or pants.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

He Ain't Dead Yet

I got to talk to Gary for a whole 30 seconds last night. The boys...I'm sorry...the men decided it was a good idea to bring a satellite phone out hunting with them to call the womenfolk every night so we wouldn't worry. The womenfolk appreciate it. But you have no idea how hard it is to squeeze an entire day's worth of information into 30 seconds.

I skipped over the part where everything had turned to slush and my feet had been soaking wet all day. And the part where they made me swaddle a baby at work today and I was not so successful at it. Not important. I was telling Gary about the two pages of instructions I had typed for his brother to housesit because I am on my way to Portland right now to have Thanksgiving with my family since Gary ditched me for some deer. I'm not bitter. Anyways I was telling him all this and the fact that JD had just puked up his entire dinner about five minutes after he ate it. I didn't think it was too big of a deal. I think JD was very excited to play in the very wet snow. Then we came inside and he was still a little too excited to get a spoonful of canned food, causing him to gobble down his dinner without chewing any of it. I know that he didn't chew any of it because I had to clean it up.

So Gary is upset that his sixteen year old dog just threw up because anything that a sixteen year old dog does at this point makes you worry. [Honestly, I don't think JD is ever going to die. I think he will outlive every single one of us. That's how sprightly he is at his old age.] He also tells me that he was just having a conversation with his dad and their hunting buddy about JD. They were telling Gary that JD was going to "die any day", "there's no way he can live much longer", "he's so old!"

Now here is some very important information: Gary is very much attached to JD. Gary's mom brought JD home when Gary was five years old. The two have seen each other grow up and Gary will never be ready to let go. On more than one occasion I have heard of people giving Gary all kinds of crap about how their dogs died and his is going to die too. Here's what I have to say to that:

Why the fuck would you badger someone about their best friend dieing? Does that seem okay? Not so much. Everyone knows how much JD means to Gary because he tells everyone he meets. If you've ever met Gary, even for only a few minutes, I guarantee he will bring up JD and how much he loves that old pup. And, yes, I believe that all dogs go to heaven and when JD is ready he will join them. However, we're not counting down the days until this happens. When grandpa turns 80 we don't start saying, "Oh shit, he's gonna die soon" because that's rude and grandpa and all his friends and family would be offended. I'm sure if JD knew what they were saying about him, he'd be offended too. My first dog died when I was 14 and it was one of the worst days of my life and I wouldn't wish that feeling on anyone, especially Gary. When JD dies, it will be very sad and we all will cry and mourn because it will be like losing a member of the family. JD has a very obvious personality that we know and love. I don't care when he's going to die because I plan on spending every day loving him even after he's gone.

I'm sitting here in the Seattle airport fuming. I've been awake for almost 24 hours, I'm hungry, I'm freezing, and all I want to do is get in bed with all three of my dogs and cuddle with them all day long. And I want to give Gary a big hug because it was awful for those guys to gang up on him like that. And I hope they read this and realize what assholes they were being because other than this incident they're very nice guys.

JD may not be able to hear very well or see very well, he may pant a lot and poop in the house. But you should have seen him playing in the snow last night. Running and rolling and nuzzling the other dogs to join him. You should have seen him prancing around with his ears flapping and his tongue hanging out. He may be old, but he ain't dead yet.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Home Alone

It's that time of year when the deer are out and all Gary thinks about is shooting them. I can't tell you how many times I've gone to Western Auto - the man store - in the past month so Gary can look at gloves and bullets and deer urine. He tricks me by saying we're going to Costco, then makes a quick stop at Western Auto. I'm not so much a fan of guns or traipsing in around in the woods, following tracks, being stealthy. Guns are loud and dangerous and I just don't like them. I also have a really hard time being quiet in the woods because I'm incredibly clumsy. The one time I went hunting, I went with my dad when I was about twelve years old. I was cold, bored, loud, and almost fell down a cliff to my death. Never again.

But Gary loves this and has started an annual tradition with his dad and brother to take a trip to Gambier Bay every winter to have manly bonding and shoot some deer. Last year they were gone for five days, but this year they have extended it to eight days. They left yesterday morning and I'm already incredibly lonely. The only things keeping me sane are cable tv, homework, and my puppy dogs. The boys slept on the bed with me last night, taking the place of my big spoon, Gary. However, for the first time since he was a puppy, Max woke me up at 6 am because he had to potty. Then I had to kick JD off because he kept standing up and shaking the bed.

Today I have fed the boys breakfast and dinner, bought Crimson his especially expensive dog food (they have very high maintenance food needs), took them for a walk, played with them, and loved them. Tomorrow I have to wake up, feed them, let them out, go to school, bust home to let them out again before work, go to work, go to class, bust home to feed them and let them out. Single parenting is hard. Gary's mom is helping me out when I can't be home for eight hours, but I totally feel like those girls on "16 and Pregnant". Not really...but kind of.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Zen and the Art of Puppy Maintenance

In an attempt at complete relaxation I have been dabbling in yoga and meditation. OnDemand has some wonderfully easy yoga videos that I can watch for free and I bought a book on meditation for beginners that comes with a how-to CD.

In 8th grade I was awesome at yoga as you can see here on the left. But that was eight years ago and my body isn't quite as agile. Every morning (or almost every morning) before school/work, I lay out my yoga mat that I won in a drawing and attempt to move my body in ways that it is not meant to move. "Breathe out as you gently move into this next position," she says while I'm cringing and struggling to move my foot and breathe out slowly at the same time. I'm getting increasingly frustrated and sweaty when JD makes his appearance. I am in child's pose (which I'm pretty sure is the only comfortable yoga pose) when I feel JD's nose on my neck. I swat him away and continue. I move not-so-gracefully into downward facing dog (haha it still makes me laugh) and before I know it JD is walking underneath me like we're playing London Bridge. At this point I decide I'm done because the yoga is making me more tense than relaxed. Thanks JD, you're a pal.

As I do not have time or energy for any personal reading at the moment, I have yet to finish my book about meditation. I have, however, read enough to do some basic meditation as often as I can. I sit in one of our dining room chairs with my back straight and my chin down with my eyes open, but unseeing. I listen to the CD tell me to focus on my breathing. If I realize I'm thinking about something, I acknowledge that thought and then push it away. Back to the breathing. I try to meditate when the dogs are all passed out in their respective spots, but more often than not someone gets interested in what Momma is doing. Max sits in front of me, staring into my "unseeing eyes", distracting me from my breathing and causing me to think how creepy that is. He loses interest and I go back to my relaxed breathing. Crimson comes over and lays his head in my lap, nudging my hands, hoping for a scritch. No such luck buddy boy, I'm breathing right now. However, Crimson is pretty relentless and eventually I have to give up and wait until they are distracted once again.

I'm figuring out this relaxation thing despite my needy puppies. Every day I feel a little less tense. Especially after that hot stone massage I had today. If you haven't had one of those you should get one. Seriously. So nice.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Blustery Day

Windows are rattling, trees are swaying, waves are crashing, and I think our fence has seen its last gust. It is definitely fall in Juneau. The power went out at work today and the emergency lights came the middle of naptime. Needless to say, the toddlers were very confused and frustrated when I made them all stay on their nap mats although it appeared that nap time was over. Luckily I got to duck out early in order to make it home in time for my online Spanish class and left the other ladies to corral the restless toddlers.

During my fifteen minute drive from downtown to the valley, I drove ten miles under the speed limit the whole way home because I was convinced my truck was going to blow off the road and be sucked into the flooded wetlands. I made it to my laptop just in time to plug in my super-awesome-stylish-drive through window headset and sign on to my class. So if you've ever taken one of these types of classes, you know that you have to press a button to talk and then press it again to turn off your microphone. Today, every time I pressed the button to talk, a gust of wind picked up and Crimson started to cry. Crimson hates wind.

It is perfectly acceptable to be afraid of storms. Windows and doors rattling, creaking noises. They're enough to make anyone tense. Crimson goes far and beyond being tense. He shakes and cries the saddest cry. He paces around the house, checking every room. He is a mess. There was one night last fall, none of us got a wink of sleep because Crimson was freaking out. He started out on his bed on the floor, panting and whining, staring at the windows. Then he started pacing. He circled around the bed, sticking his nose in my face and letting out a desperate groan. Finally I put him on the bed with my arm around him, but he wouldn't stop shaking and every time a big gust blew by, he kicked me. After I couldn't take it anymore, he was banished to the garage where we assumed we wouldn't be able to hear him. Instead he started barking and scratching on the door with such fervor, he had to be let back inside and the cycle started again.

I have this awful feeling that tonight is going to be a repeat of that wonderful night last year. Crimson is already staring at the windows every time the windows rattle as if someone or something is going to break through at any second. His cries have gotten longer and higher pitched. Once the pacing begins, I know we're in for a long night.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Travel Plans

Traveling is an issue when you have three dogs. Gary and I rarely get to go anywhere, at least not together, because someone always has to be with the dogs. Asking someone to take care of dogs is not like asking someone to take care of a fish. With a fish, feed it once a day and it's all good. With our three dogs, the instructions are endless.

Gary and I have decided to take a weekend trip for a little R&R and Gary's brother has taken on the task of housesitting for us. He came over last night for the lowdown and ended up getting a lengthy lecture from good ol' Gary: vitamins, special diets, eye drops, leashes, meal times, poo schedules, whose bed belongs to whom, always shut the bathroom door, and although it's impossible, please attempt to keep the dogs off the couch.

Like I've said before, having dogs is like having children and you can't trust just anyone with them. Gary and I thought long and hard before deciding to go somewhere and trusting someone to take care of our puppies, our prides and joys. I've already told Gary's brother that if anything happens to any of my babies, his ass is grass. However, Gary is the true worrier. Every day he thinks of a new thing to tell his brother to do. We are only going to be gone for two days, but Gary cannot stop worrying. And I thought I was supposed to be the one having anxiety attacks.

I can sense that the dogs are beginning to worry as well. Max keeps staring at me like I'm abandoning him and Crimson has licked his foot raw. JD is mostly oblivious to the world, so he doesn't really have a problem. As soon as I get my bag out, Max is going to start seeking out tissues to rip apart in an attempt to gain my attention. "If I rip up this tissue, she'll have to stay." He's the toddler who acts out when he doesn't want momma to leave. It's adorable and often it almost works.

Being away from my puppies for two whole days is going to be hard. No little furball to cuddle with, no pink tongue to lick food off my fingers, no wet nose sticking in my face. But I guess Gary will be with me and he's okay too.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Puppy Therapy

I have never experienced anything scarier than an anxiety attack. Shaking, heart racing, crying, desperate, hopeless, frustrating, horrifying.

I had my first real anxiety attack on Friday. I can't even begin to explain what it felt like to wake up every morning this weekend mid-attack. I tried everything. Anti-anxiety meds, herbs, deep breathing, yoga, a SAD light, and foot massages from my very wonderful boyfriend. But nothing eased the panic like a good cuddle with my puppies.

I know the dogs could sense my unease and at first I was annoyed that they wouldn't leave me alone. Then I realized, they were just trying to help when they were licking my hands incessantly. So during the lowest of the lowest of the low, I turned to my puppy dogs. There is no greater feeling than that of the undying love that I receive from Max, JD, and Crimson. The big, brown puppy eyes and the wet puppy noses and the furry puppy paws all there to melt my heart.

Generally walking the dogs is the most frustrating task. However, the past few days it has been the biggest relief. Three leashes tangling as Max and Crimson fight to be ahead of the other while JD and his old joints drag behind. Constant sniff stops and leash tugging, but the fresh air and the unconditional happiness of the dogs keep me from curling up on the couch. And when I do need to curl up on the couch, there is nothing that makes me happier than a beagle butt in my face and a retriever tongue licking the tears away.

This is what dogs are for. Companionship and unconditional love. Even though they tug on their leashes, run away, and often turn their noses up at their dinner, I know that at the end of the day they are always up for a good cuddle. And as I continue to fall in and out of these bouts of anxiety, I know that I can count on my family, friends, and most of all my puppies to surround me with love.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A New Level of Garbage-Dog

Max, the beagle, has a nose like no other dog. He is the only dog I have ever come in contact with who actually buries bones and then finds them again. And when the ground is frozen and there is nowhere to bury his bone, desperate times call for desperate measures. I have found many a bone hidden under the bed or beneath a pile of clothes in the closet. One time he dragged a plastic bag under my desk to cover his bone so the other dogs wouldn't find it. He's not incredibly brilliant, but he loves bones. And garbage for that matter.

His love for garbage has recently become a huge problem.

Before Max was my dog, he was my dad's dog. I'm assuming that my dad is just more intimidating than I am because Max's trash digging days were few and far between. In the past month or so I cannot keep Max out of the damn trash! There is a permanent brown, crusty spot on our already doghair-ridden carpet where Max has smashed coffee grounds over and over and over again. No amount of scolding or ignoring, cold baths or locking trash can lids can deter him. I know what you're thinking. Just leave him in the kennel while I'm not home. I just HATE doing that. I sure don't want to be locked in a box all day.

After a particularly awful day of work/school/life, coming home to a dump is not amusing. Gary and I came down to two options: chop off Max's nose or set him into the wild so he can live with his own kind...the Alaskan garbage bears.

I'm kidding. What we really did was rig a contraption to the garbage can so that he couldn't knock it over anymore. And when I say we rigged a contraption, I mean we bungie-corded the trash can to the wall. Problem solved. Until he figured out he could put his precious little paws on the side of the trash can and nudge the lid open with his sweet little button nose and take whatever lovely treat was on top. Which is generally coffee grounds.

So my carpet is a mess, the lock on the trash can is useless, and I can't stop cuddling with my smeagle beagle (who is incredibly clean and soft from all the baths he's been getting) while getting the evil eye from Gary!

The other two dogs are complete angels while we're gone of course. Except for Crimson napping on the couch and JD occasionally losing control of his bowels (which is not his fault, he's old and when he gets excited...well, you know...).

When I'm not at home, I'm at school or I'm working part-time at a daycare with twelve glorious toddlers. I've come to realize that dogs are much like toddlers. You tell them not to do something and they do it anyways. While looking you in the eye. But it's impossible to be mad at them for more than five seconds because they're so freaking cute.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Canine Kiddos

3:00 am:
My boyfriend, Gary's, elbow is gently resting on my nose.
Max, the beagle, is nestled against my chest, snoring abrasively.
Crimson, the retriever, is splayed awkwardly across our feet.
JD, the old lab, is standing dangerously close to the edge of the bed, panting desperately and wishing he could see well enough to jump off.
And I, the lone female, am jabbing Gary in the ribs in a hopeless attempt at waking him up to help JD down and remove his elbow from my nose while simultaneously trying to kick Crimson off my feet and widen Max's nostrils.

Oh the joys of having children! I mean dogs...

My mom is always sending little gifts to my nieces and nephews. One day she said to me, "I realize I've been neglecting your children."
"Uh, I don't have children," I responded.
"Your canine children! I'll send them some treats."
I had to laugh and agree that they are my children. They drive me crazy, but I love them regardless. That's what kids do to their parents right?

At this very moment the old one (JD) is doing laps around the couch and I'm not really sure why, but he's sixteen years old and that probably explains everything.