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.