Tag Archives: dogs

Sometimes Too Much is Just Enough

19 Sep

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Murray the Dog joined the family a year ago last week. The last thing in the world I needed was a fourth dog. But there he was in that picture online, staring straight at the camera, his eyes boring into my heart. I heard him say, “I’m waiting.” Of course, I often hear chocolate say that too, so I may be partially delusional.

I should start by saying that as with many online matchmaking adventures, Murray was not exactly as pictured. In his photos, he appeared to be a dachshund, when in fact he turned out to be half dachshund, half kangaroo, and half Tazmanian devil. Sure, the math doesn’t add up, but he’s not that good at math.

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If I had to describe him with just three adjectives, I’d choose wild, crazy, and “Hey, those are my panties, put them down!” Okay, that last one isn’t so much an adjective, but it has become a one-word phrase around here.

Despite being 2-1/2 according to the records from the rescue organization, Murray is truly still a puppy. There isn’t a book he doesn’t want to rip apart, a field he doesn’t want to bound across at full speed, or an ear he doesn’t want to munch on. Unfortunately, he’s so damned cute and I’m so damned smitten that he usually gets his way. I have not, however, taken him up on his offer to drive. That just wouldn’t be safe, what with his head out the window.

He did go through puppy obedience class, where he graduated second in his class. There was only one other dog  there. Additionally, I spent the big bucks hiring a behavior specialist to try to get him to not be so fearful and barky on walks. It’s hard enough with Penny in a stroller and Watson smelling every blade of grass in the neighborhood for a solid five minutes. Having a young pup who lunged and barked at everything wasn’t safe or neighborly. Fortunately, he’s much better now. He actually listens before he disobeys me. If you’ve ever had dachshunds, you know that comes with the territory. He can also jump 3-feet into the air to demand payment for complying with any command. That would be the kangaroo in him.

Watson, who is 14 now, usually just gives Murray the side eye as he steals yet another toy. I can buy two of everything (Penny is not into toys; she’s into jewelry) and Murray will end up with both of them. And they will both be ripped apart in minutes. I’m embarrassed to admit how much time I spend scouring secondhand stores and garage sales for stuffed animals that don’t have plastic eyes, beans or wires in their anatomy, or technology of any kind embedded inside. The last thing I need is a stuffed animal that says, “Let’s go to sleep” every time Murray shakes it.

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Penny’s only objection to Murray’s crazy antics is at night in bed. You see, I made the crazy decision to downsize from a king size bed to a queen after sweet Justin moved on to the next spiritual journey.Penny wants to lie next to me at all times (I could Velcro her to my stomach and she’d be as happy as a clam that no one bothered and was able to live out a life free from worry). Murray frequently decides that any spot Penny wants should be his, so I frequently have to listen to them debate who gets mom’s fattest parts tonight. It’s good to know that my postmenopausal belly flab serves a good purpose.

So yes, I absolutely did not need a fourth dog. And even though there are only three canine family members now, I can’t even begin to tell you how much laughter, silliness, and fun we have every day. Sure, my toilet paper roll is frequently slobbery, my books are in poor condition, and some days I just go commando, but having crazy energy in the house once again makes it all worthwhile.

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Looking Back with Laughter

27 Mar

I got the call yesterday that my almost 17-year-old dachshund Justin’s ashes are ready to be picked up. I am also ready to be picked up, so I decided to look through my old humor columns for those in which I talk about Justin. This one made me laugh, so I’ll share it. It’s from 2001, so Justin was all of 2 years-old.

 

Things That Go Bump in the Day

The other day I was sitting at my computer writing a column about pornography when I heard a horrible noise in the kitchen that sounded like a raccoon had somehow managed to get in my dryer. And from the sound of the commotion, the raccoon was none too happy about being there, so he was kicking and thrashing, trying to get out. After fifteen seconds or so, the noise stopped completely, which I took to mean that the raccoon had (a) found a way out of the dryer, (b) died of a concussion from bashing his head against the lint trap, or (c) decided to play possum until I let down my guard and tried to toss in some wet laundry, at which point he would leap out at me, grab me around the neck, and demand that I let him sleep on the sofa with the rest of my menagerie.

Upon hearing the commotion, my dogs ran bravely into the kitchen and stood by the cookie jar waiting for a treat. Scary noises make them hungry. I know the feeling. After his cookie, my younger dog Justin actually mustered up enough courage to sniff around the door to the laundry room, only instead of sniffing down near the floor, he sniffed up in the air (if you can call nine inches off the floor “up in the air.”)  This just reinforced my fears. Probably the raccoon had given up waiting for me, managed to get out of the dryer, and was now hanging on the back side of the door, waiting to drop onto my head as soon as I dared opened it.

So I did what any rational-thinking adult would do – I grabbed the Yellow Pages and the phone and headed for the part of the house furthest away from the possible intruder. There were no listings under “Raccoons” or “Medium-sized Nocturnal Mammals in Major Appliances,” so I called a pest control service.

“I think there’s a raccoon in my dryer,” I whispered, not wanting the raccoon to know I was calling the authorities.

“Don’t you know that raccoons are dry clean only?” the insensitive lout on the other end of the phone joshed. When he finally stopped laughing at his own joke, he assured me it was almost impossible for a full-size raccoon to have climbed through my exhaust vent and into my dryer. I hung up, humiliated but not relieved – who was I going to believe, my own two ears (or six, if you count the dogs’) or a total stranger who had probably been exposed to so many toxic chemicals he glows in the dark?

So I sat on the bed trying to talk myself into checking out the situation. “You’re bigger than it is,” I said bravely. “Yeah, but it has the element of surprise,” I countered. “But you’re smarter.”  “But I’m dehydrated, so I’ll be weak when the fighting breaks out.”

Finally, I grabbed the aluminum baseball bat from next to my bed and snuck stealthily towards the laundry room. Now why I had the bat, I don’t know. Because the truth is, I could never hit an animal – I can barely bring myself to kill mosquitoes. The raccoon could puncture a major artery and I’d be reduced to cooing at it “I’ll give you a cookie if you’ll let go.”

With eyes half-open and in my best Ninja-stance (I think it was a Ninja stance from what I’ve seen on cartoons), I threw open the door to the laundry room. There was stuff all over the floor!  It was worse than I thought!  Obviously the raccoon was in the cabinet, tossing stuff out. There was dog food and other doggy paraphernalia everywhere. And flea shampoo spilled on top of everything.

Finally I got brave enough to look up in the cabinet so that I might face the intruder eye-to-eye, only to find there was nothing there. No raccoon. No large rat. Not even an army of ants that had gone AWOL.  What I did find was that the cabinet itself had somehow managed to leap off the wall, apparently of its own free will, and had landed on the dryer. The noise I had heard was the initial crash and the sound of everything in the cabinet, falling to the floor.

I guess that just goes to show you shouldn’t jump to conclusions. Things are usually not as bad as they seem. But just to be safe, I’m not doing any laundry for a few weeks.

Getting Through It

16 Mar

My almost 17-old-dachshund Justin died two days ago. It was heart-wrenchingly sad having to be the one to make the decision that it was his time to move onto the next chapter.

But today I feel more relief than sadness. In reality, Justin hadn’t been with me for a long time. He had dementia, blindness, deafness and seizures and as his body and mind failed him, the Justin I had once known was already becoming a memory even as he lay beside me in bed at night. Now that he is physically no longer with me, the heartache is tempered with joy that he is no longer struggling with these awful things. And, to be honest, joy that I am not struggling with them either.

And that decision I made two days ago — I have been on the precipice of making it for at least a year. I have been sad and heartbroken and tired and unsure for so long. Not being in that spot is an odd feeling, but a good one.

I still think I have four dogs and get out four cookies for treats. I wake up at 2:30 a.m. thinking I will have to carry Justin out to pee in the yard, usually holding an umbrella over us both as the Oregon winter has been very wet. I get out four harnesses for a walk. I feel confused that there are so few supplements and pills to add to the meals of Watson, Penny, and Murray, my three other dog-children who have done their best to keep my spirits up.

When I came home from the vet, with the still-wet paw print in a Ziploc bag and my sweatshirt wet with tears, the first thing I did was remove the boxes. I had shoved boxes into every nook and cranny in every room Justin had free reign in. Something in his brain convinced him that if his snout was wedged between the sofa and the table or the bookshelf and the fireplace, he was stuck. So he would stay there. For hours if I had to be away. Rather than living with the fear that he was stuck and afraid, I wedged boxes everywhere. And then replaced them when Murray, who is still a puppy, chewed them up.

I took them all out to the recycling pile and stacked them up neatly. I wasn’t trying to rid the house of the memory of my sweet boy, but of his horrible disease that had stood between him and happiness for perhaps too long.

Old dogs and I are no strangers. My very first dog child, Copper, was in a wheelchair for the last three years of his life and I had to pee for him through a tube implanted in his bladder. His brother Slate lived to be almost 16 and their sister Maddy Lou left too early at 12. So I’m used to the extra work. What I wasn’t expecting was how angry and frustrated I could be, not at my boy, but at dementia that stole him from me. I called it many horrible names in the middle of the night. Fortunately, Justin was deaf and couldn’t hear this while cradled him in my arms or he fell asleep with my arm over him because he couldn’t sleep without knowing I was there.

I will try to forgive myself for my frustration. I will try to forgive myself for not making the decision for Justin earlier. I was hoping he could experience a few warm, sunny spring days, lolling in the grass with the other dogs as I worked in the garden.

That is not to be. I know that on the first warm, sunny day, Justin the joyful, playful dog who loved to run around the yard barking like that butterfly he spotted was a deadly enemy he needed to protect us from, but never actually harming any animal (unless it was a stuffed toy with a squeaker inside) will be reborn. Maybe we’ll sit and chat in the patio swing. He’ll love that.

 

It’s My Circus

3 Jul

Sometimes I think that before deciding to adopt a dog, everyone should be required to join Cirque du Soleil for a year to learn the appropriate skill set. Just this morning, I could have used some contortionist skills in order to untangle from three dog leashes. And there’s never a time when I’m putting my dogs into the backseat of my car and hooking up their seat belts that I don’t feel like I’m working with clowns and a clown car.

But most of all, I wish I had tightrope skills. And not just because my dachshunds only allow me 2 inches of space in which to walk.

Ozzy - Fastest Crossing Of A Tightrope By A Dog Guinness World Records 2013 Photo Credit: Paul Michael Hughes/Guinness World Records Location: Norfolk, UK

Ozzy – Fastest Crossing Of A Tightrope By A Dog
Guinness World Records 2013
Photo Credit: Paul Michael Hughes/Guinness World Records
Location: Norfolk, UK

Life is about balance, and when you have three senior dogs, that becomes increasingly clear. Case in point: trying to balance traditional veterinary medicine and alternative approaches that don’t involve the phrase, “Here’s a prescription for some antibiotics.”

Two of my three dogs see a homeopath. Justin, my 16-year-old, shakes like a fracking-caused earthquake in Oklahoma any time we drive near the regular vet, despite the fact that he can no longer hear or see (he must smell the antibiotics). On our last visit to the homeopath on the other hand, he fell asleep on the memory foam doggy mattress she has on her floor. With the peaceful new age music playing on the speakers, I myself was tempted to nap.

The path to alternative veterinary approaches to doggy health care started with my first dachshund, Copper, who due to his insistence that he was a stunt pilot and not a short-legged dog, became paralyzed at age 12. With a combination of acupuncture, a doggy wheelchair, and physical therapy that involved me tickling his feet so that he would reflexively kick and keep his leg muscles strong, he had 3 great more years of semi-mobility.

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I search for a lot of non-traditional remedies for dog-related ailments on the Internet these days and I’ve had some amazing success. Justin was plagued with chronic UTIs for years until I discovered a product online called Pet UTI Prevention from http://www.askariel.com/. He has now gone three years without a problem! He’s also taking Epi Plus from https://www.purelypets.com and with it, his seizures have been reduced from every few days to about once a month. Both of these supplements are herbal remedies, not drugs.

All three of my dogs get Ceylon cinnamon with dinner, which helps reduce inflammation and infection in their teeth and gums. In addition to a 16-year-old, I have two 13-year-olds (I just found out that Penny had been lying about her age for years and when she came to me as a rescue, she was probably 5, not 2). Needless to say, I relish the idea of dental cleanings like I do my own mammograms. Especially for Penny because her teeth form plaque on the way home from her cleaning. She has so few teeth left, she could star on Duck Dynasty. The cinnamon even helped get rid of Justin’s abscess. (Be sure to use Ceylon cinnamon as dogs can’t digest the other kinds).

Watson has a slew of lipomas and one sebaceous cyst that occasionally bursts. It is not pretty, but I’ve finally gotten over the ick factor and no longer rush him to the vet for antibiotics. I use calendula oil and regularly apply warm compresses with castor oil. It seems to help. I do the same with Penny’s lumps and bumps.

I still love and appreciate my regular vet and struggle sometimes deciding which approaches to take in keeping my pups healthy. But just having options makes me feel less like a clown and more like a ringmaster.

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Doglight Savings Time Never Ends

1 Nov

This weekend, we’re all supposed to turn our clocks back an hour. For humans, it’s a simple task. For humans with dogs, it’s impossible.

My dogs get up at 3:30 a.m. for breakfast. I don’t know how or when it happened, but no matter what I’ve tried (giving them 10 p.m. snacks, taking them for a long walk before bed, showing them the circles under my eyes, etc.) , nothing has dissuaded them from hounding me until I cave in and serve up the vittles. It doesn’t help that between my hot flashes and need to get up to use the bathroom at night, they can feel me stirring. Once I show any sign of life, the jig is up.

So now, 3:30 will be 2:30 a.m. That’s just lovely. I’ve got a plan, but I’m sure it won’t work. Tonight, I won’t feed them dinner until 6 p.m. (an hour later than usual). The only way this will work is if I leave the house at about 4:45 and don’t return until I intend to feed them. Then at 11 p.m., a snack. We won’t go to bed until an hour later than usual. I will take some valerian to help me sleep more deeply and avoid actually moving while doing so. 

At 2:30 a.m. when they inevitable start jumping on the bed and pacing the floor, I will play possum. Or zombie…. whatever it takes. When my bladder kicks in, I will try to ignore it for two hours. When Justin stands on my trachea, I’ll roll over. When Penny starts licking my calves, knowing how ticklish I am, I will giggle quietly into a pillow. When Watson stands at the foot of the bed and howls, I’ll pretend it’s all a dream.

At 2:35, when I’m up feeding them breakfast, I will compose an e-mail to The People in Charge of This Stupid Fooling Around With Time System. Then we’ll all go back to bed and try it again the next night. I’m tired already.

Move Over, Rover

28 Mar

Three years ago a girlfriend and I rented a house on the coast of Oregon for three days for a nice vacation with our five dogs and her two very young kids. It was sooooo peaceful! Okay, it wasn’t, but at least it was noisy and chaotic out of town and that’s what we were aiming for.

While we were there, rather than sleeping in a bed that my dachshunds are too short to get on and off without assistance (and no, I haven’t yet invented a portable mechanical lift for them nor have they learned to use the mini-trampoline), the four of us slept on the sofa which was much closer to the floor. The sofa in this case was a sectional with room for all of us. It worked out well.

As soon as I could afford it, I bought a sectional for our house–a sectional with a chaise one one end. I thought the dogs could have all the space they wanted on the sofa and I could prop myself up to read or lie down in comfort on the chaise end. I envisioned myself with a cup of tea and a good book, gazing contently upon sleeping wiener dogs. Of course that’s not the way things worked out (you knew that already, right?) The dogs took one look at the chaise and decided that it was the best part of the new sofa, except for the new furniture smell, so they immediately planted their flag in the corner, took over the comfy cushion next to the reading lamp, and demanded I serve them tea and cookies. Okay, not tea, but cookies.

One day not long ago, I saw a picture on Facebook of a woman sleeping on a sectional sofa with nine dachshunds. Others may have viewed the picture and thought, “Crazy dog lady,” but what I saw was that she and they had an extra piece to their sectional. I immediately measured my tiny living room and found that if I squeezed things in tight and moved one of the dog beds that no one ever uses into another room, I could have a roomier sofa too! And maybe, just maybe, I could use the chaise. I boiled a teakettle full of water.

I’ve had my extra 23″ of seating space for two months now. I still have to sit in the middle of the sofa, propping my tea precariously on my chest (which gets harder with each passing year) and my feet propped up on the hard coffee table.  Watson and Penny and an assortment of stuffed animals, pillows and blankets cover the chaise. Justin is often there as well, but sometimes he enjoys stretching all 34″ of himself out on the other end of the sofa (which, if you do the math, means that I actually have 11 inches less space than I did before).

There’s only one thing to do–save up until I can afford to replace the sofa end with another chaise. They may have me outnumbered, but I’m gonna have that tea in comfort some day.Image

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My new book

26 Mar

My new book

Date Me, Date My Dog: Finding Mr. Right for You and Your Pack is available from Kimberley Cameron & Associates on Amazon for Kindle today! It’s doggone funny, filled with good advice, partial proceeds benefit Greenhill Humane Society in Eugene, Oregon, and smells like chocolate. Okay, maybe not the latter so much 🙂 PLEASE buy a copy, tell all your single dog-loving women friends about it, write a review, or all of the above. http://www.amazon.com/Date-Me-My-Dog-ebook/dp/B00C15TTVS/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1364302749&sr=8-3&

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