I love my Canines

Sitting at the Main Street drawbridge in Port Colborne watching the Lakers traverse the canal with a Super Taz riding shot gun and napping in her favorite paw print plush bed.

Brent and I were having a movie day and he said: “hey, have you seen Gizmo?” He meant Poco.

Walking along the beach with the sun shining through the clouds and the yellow dances like northern lights across the lake. The magic and shimmer from heaven touching the earth. Sharing it all with little heartbeats who get it too.

Every time I sit on the kitchen floor and am never alone.

Listening to Taz have a crunchy snack.

Right before it rains there’s a smell and heaviness that saturates the very air we breathe. It makes Taz excited and Poco afraid. Nature affects us all.

The sound of nails clip, clip, clip across the hardwood floor.

The taste of cookies and warm bread that I have to share with a smile.

Asking at PetSmart if they have any smaller tennis balls while holding onto the leash of Taz and Poco with a quizzical look on my face. Saying with a straight face “these balls are simply too big”

Enjoying the smiles of strangers as I drive by in my Smart Car with Super Taz and Poco riding shot gun or staring out the back window like a bobble head doll.

Learning the delight of running as fast as you can through dry warm sand.

Never eating alone.

It doesn’t matter how many times I tell Taz and Poco that there is only one exit from the bathroom, they insist on following me relentlessly to the powder room.

Being interrupted in the middle of an intimate moment by a wet nose.

Always having a wing man.

Telling stories about Gizmo makes me feel good and I think it makes other people uncomfortable. I love to talk about my little dude. He was magic. I promise not to cry if you promise to listen.

This is a video of Taz in the role of entertainer on a Friday night. I’m still giggling.

Long Beach Poco

Poco is our quiet, but incredibly beautiful male lhasa shih tzu cross. He’s one of those sad sorry cases of abuse and he has many issues. He’s not great with people or other dogs. We always thought he was happiest curled up in his orange heated dog bed, but it turns out Poco comes alive for two things: a mini-sized tennis ball and the waves on the beach.

If you should throw the miniature tennis ball into the lake you might as well make Poco the newest Prince of Long Beach and happiest puppy in the world.

The normally watchful and sedate Poco comes alive when he hits the water. Regardless of the ambient temperature he will dive in with careless abandon and snap up the white foam as it hits the shore. Sometimes he ends up with a snootful of water or sand, but he sneezes it off and snarls as he dives back into the water.

I can’t help but laugh out loud at his determination. He seems to have endless energy as he races up and down the beach trying to catch the wave.

Poco has done this in the ocean too and the salt water is only a slight deterrent. He simply sneezes extra hard.

We often over look our quiet boy that doesn’t like to be touched by strangers, but he’s a hidden treasure. I’m hoping to remember the video camera and offer a little glimpse of our gentleman puppy.

There’s only a few more days left to enjoy the beach and I’m so grateful to have the puppies to share my morning and sunset walks along the beach. It’s a lovely romance and it’s nice to spend time with a guy who really gets me. Thanks Poco! (no offense Brent).

Long Beach

It’s September 25th and is one of those perfect weather days. Clear blue skies, butter yellow sunshine and a soft breeze that feels like a tender kiss.

I’m sitting on the newly built front deck of number four of the Long Beach Cottages owned by the Lindhurst family, of which I am a member.

After Labour Day Long Beach is mostly deserted. The beach becomes my own private paradise where I can let the dogs run safely along the beach each and every morning. We end our sun soaked days with a huge bonfire on the sand. Brent dragged a tree stump onto the beach in the spring and we’re still trying to burn it.

We were suppose to go to North Carolina this week with our trailer, but Super Taz became sick and we had to cancel our trip. After our visit with the Internal Medicine Specialist on Tuesday we learned our Super Taz fatigues easily, but she should make a full recovery. It was too late for North Carolina, but the need to escape still burned strongly in both of us, so we took the thirty minute drive to Long Beach and found our paradise.

The last few years have been busy and we hadn’t taken the time to enjoy the beach. I wonder if we both forgot how soothing the lake can be with her healing powers.

The sound of the lake is the base beat with her steady rhythm. Ebbing and flowing as the water laps the shore. The breeze rustles the leaves adding a wind instrument to the mix and the crickets provide the strings. A lovely orchestra of nature, until Taz throws in the horns.

I am not completely alone. There are small pockets of people, but they want their privacy too. We smile and wave and everyone keeps moving. It makes me feel like I’m not isolated, but I don’t have to become involved.

Adjusting to life without Gizmo has been difficult and these few days at the beach has been a soothing balm to my damaged heart. The water is warm as it washes over my feet on my morning walk. The sun warms me and the breeze keeps me cool. It’s a delicate balance. We can learn how to live our lives by watching how nature keeps the world’s equilibrium regardless of how we try to control it.

Somedays are important for going with the flow. Learning to appreciate the good things. Brent and I are very lucky. Once again…

Keep Your Mouth Shut

This phrase has been a part of my life for a long time and maybe its time I start listening.

There are people who are thrilled to hear my new motto, but it makes me feel a little dead inside. It makes me feel sad. I’m reading a book right now called Speak and on page 122 I read this tonight:

“When people don’t express themselves, they die one piece at a time. You’d be shocked at how many adults are really dead inside – walking through their days with no idea who they are, just waiting for a heart attack or cancer or a Mack truck to come along and finish the job. It’s the saddest thing I know.”

Maybe the last two months have been too much. Maybe I’ve been surrounded by sadness. Maybe it is time to keep my mouth shut for a while and see where my new found silence takes me.

So, if I seem a little quiet next time we visit I’m trying something new.

Not so Super Taz

Taz is our five year old 8 pound blonde bombshell shih poo pup who gave us a scare this week. We are particularly sensitive since the death of our beloved Gizmo on Aug 2, 2011.

Taz had a bout of lethargy and weakness last Thursday and we took her to our vet who directed us to the Niagara Vet Emerge Clinic, then to Mississauga Vet Emerge Clinic on Friday when she rapidly deteriorated to life threatening. She was stable and brought home over the weekend. We took her to an internal medicine specialist on Tuesday in Orchard Park.

She’s doing much better. She still tires easily and takes long naps, but she’s getting better.

The internal medicine doctor, Dr. Brummer at the Orchard Park Vet Hospital in the United States, did a bunch of tests and this is what we learned.

Chest x-ray: Taz has a heart murmur (no other vet has picked up on this), but her chest x-ray shows a normal sized heart. The murmur is probably a very small mitral valve leak. Dr. Brummer is not worried about it.

Abdominal Ultrasound: All organs, vessels and structures are normal. There is no bypass or missing vessels that would impede the workings of her liver.

Liver blood work: she has elevated bile acids and still has elevated liver enzymes. She probably has Hepatic Microvascular Dysplasia (HMD). This genetic disease can only be confirmed by a liver biopsy, but Dr. Brummer does not recommend putting Taz through this process. HMD should not affect her life, but she cannot metabolize many medications, so she should never get medications that would affect her liver.

Dr. Brummer does not know why Taz initially became lethargic, but he believes she worsened because they gave her morphine in the emerge clinic. Dogs with HMD can’t metabolize narcotics, so she had a near life-threatening reaction. The treatment made her worse.

Dr. Brummer recommends we watch her and bring her back if she has another bout of lethargy.

One of the key things we’ve learned is the vet care is much more affordable in the US and it is much more advanced. If you have an emergency with your pet we strongly recommend the Orchard Park Veterinary Hospital. They are wonderful and affordable. 

Bath Night

It’s six weeks today since we lost our lovable Gizmo. I saw many people today that I hadn’t seen since he died. Mostly co-workers who hugged and said kind words. Thank you for understanding he was my baby and thank you for your kindness. It means the world.

Tonight was bath night for the puppies. We’re preparing for our vacation/one year anniversary trip on Friday and I wanted to get the dogs groomed before Friday. I decided Tuesday was a good night and I started by giving both Taz and Poco a bubble bath. After I got the kids out of the tub and dried I started with the clippers.

I did Poco first and he looks incredibly handsome, but as I was sweeping the hair into the garbage I was overcome with tears as I pictured that hair being chocolate brown. I remembered how good Gizmo was to get groomed. He was always so patient and stood so still letting me learn. He was so sweet to groom and so easy. It didn’t matter what I did to Gizmo he always looks adorable. I miss that chocolate hair.

Poco looks incredibly adorable and Taz looks like a princess with her fluffy style. As we get ready for this trip I wish Gizmo was here getting his bath too. I wish Gizmo was at my feet begging for cookies. I’ve never wished so hard in all my life.

My kitchen walls are adorned by pictures of my puppies. Gizmo always stands out with love in his eye and personality oozing out of his body. What an amazing little dude and I am so lucky that I got to have him in my life.

Puppy bath night tonight and I really miss my Gizmo.

Night Shift

It’s 630 am and I’m just home from a night shift. The dogs are fed and I’ve just had a tasty turkey sandwich for breakfast with two cookies. There are a handful of benefits to working nights and eating cookies for breakfast is one of them.

The house is pleasantly quiet and the dogs are sleeping in their most favorite beds. The dishwasher is humming and the kitchen is clean. The farm seems quite peaceful this morning.

The drive home was uneventful and it’s one of those overcast mornings that’s great for sleeping. I’m about to go up and crawl into bed knowing everyone else is getting up to start their day. There is some comfort in crawling into bed in the morning and napping guilt-free until noon.

I think Taz stays up most of the night on her watchdog bed waiting for me, because she loves to nap all morning. She’ll curl up beside me and start snoring before I’ve had the chance to close my eyes. Belly up and totally relaxed she snuggles into the blankets and gives her therapeutic doggie sigh before she closes her eyes and nods off.

Poco curls up on my feet and seems asleep immediately. He usually falls asleep nose to tail and only relaxes once he’s really out. He slowly unwinds and expands until he’s laying along my leg snoring. He’s acutely aware of everything, but puts his army training on hold for a few hours of morning naps.

Gizmo never really woke up in the morning, so his nighttime napping and his morning nap would simply expand until noon. I don’t know how he did it. I don’t know how his bladder wouldn’t burst. Even at noon I’d have to wake him up and carrying him down the stairs with his tail wagging making his little old man noises. I’d put him the grass and he’d give me a look like I was crazy and promptly pee on the flagstone patio.

Shift work is hard on the body and the mind, but I do see the benefits when chocolate can be had for breakfast and the calories don’t count. It’s getting to be full light, so it’s time for me to go hide under my blankets and wait for lunch. I think beer for lunch?

Healing Time

There has been some discussion on how quickly people heal after the loss of a loved one. The books say anywhere from six weeks to six months depending on the connection. It’s only been five weeks since my Gizmo died, so I haven’t even hit the bare minimum in terms of grieving. I need time.

To all my loving friends and family: this is the normal grieving process. It’s okay to be sad and it’s okay to mourn. I feel sad. I feel sad in the way that I miss my Gizmo and not in the way that I’m spiraling downward into a great dark abyss. I’ve spent enough time in therapy to know that the only person who knows me best is me. I know I need time.

I understand that my grief may seem distressing and difficult to handle. I can’t tell you when it will end. I can’t tell you when I’ll feel better, I just will.

Gizmo was like a child to me and if you think how human parents mourn the loss of a child then perhaps that will put it into perspective for non-animal lovers. The loss of a child can destroy marriages and people. The loss of a child can make a parent leave their entire lives behind and seek a new beginning where nobody know them or knows of their deep grief.

Gizmo was a part of my every waking hour. I thought of him often and he brought a light and joy to my life that I wish I could find again. I might not ever “get over it”, but I will find a special place in my heart for Gizmo and my life will go on. It will never be the same life. It will forever be changed by the course of events that occurred on Aug 2, 2011.

If I could have changed just one small thing on that night then my life would be different. Then I’d still be happy and joyful, and still have that incredible light in my life. I can’t go back in time. I can’t change what happened. I wish everyday that I could have my Gizmo back.

I still have a huge swamp of guilt to wade through. You can tell me it wasn’t my fault, but the reality is I didn’t keep my boy safe. I didn’t protect him and for that I have guilt. Nothing can take that way, but I admit it and accept it.

Today is September 8, 2011 and eight years ago today my mother died. She was one of the few people who really understood me. She got me in ways that nobody else ever could. She got me in ways that only a mother can understand a child. There is a connection between a parent and child and when that connection is suddenly and violently severed it hurts for both individuals.

I miss my mom, but I know she and Gizmo are sitting on couch watching their favorite shows and eating a bag of regular potato chips. I know they are watching me like a mother watches their child, and a child watches their mother. With love and adoration.

I might still cry a little too much. I might think about my Gizmo a little too often, but yesterday I looked a picture of Gizmo and smiled. It only happened once, but that’s progress.

I love you little dude and mom. Keep safe.

Vincent Goes to his Forever Home

Its been nearly four weeks since Vincent came to farm and today he left for his forever home. It was difficult to watch him drive away in his new mom’s arms, but it was also right. The family called when they got home and said how much they loved Vincent and he was resting comfortably in his new basket dog bed. He’d eaten several treats on the ride home.

Vincent was one of those dogs who really tugged at my heart strings. His story, his shyness, his progress and his love made him irresistible. Brent and I discussed adopting Vincent and keeping him as our forever dog, but it was simply too soon after Gizmo’s death.

We weren’t ready as a family. Brent and I decided that Vincent helped us more than we helped him through a rough transition. We’d just lost our Gizmo and here came this little vulnerable, fragile, fractured little pup who needed a sanctuary.

It was a tough decision to take him in, but we thought Gizmo would want us to help another shy guy come to life. With our little chocolate dude in mind we brought Vincent into our home and watched him blossom. It was amazing.

Happy tails in your forever home Vincent. We miss you too.

Goodbye Chickens

We’re missing our chickens. I went out to feed the ducks and chickens, but there were only ducks and a handful of chicken feathers.

This is not a good summer for the farm. So much death. So much sadness. So much grief.

Coyotes? Fox? Both take the bodies with them and there were no bodies, just feathers, but coyotes will continue to come after and kill all the cats, while fox will stick to easy prey. Like the ducks.

I could hear the coyotes howling tonight and it gave me the serious creeps.

Having the coyotes in the barn means they’re one step closer to the farm. One step closer to the puppies. Once step closer to us, but there are three things coyotes don’t like: pigs, lamas and donkeys. I don’t mind doing a little farm investing, but it would be nice to find one that needed a home too.

Brent and I decided we needed to take back the barn, so we moved the pigs back into the barn paddock. We didn’t lose a single bird while they were on guard duty, so perhaps we can prevent further coyote killing by protecting the ducks with over two hundred pounds of pig.

The pigs and ducks seem happy living together and I think once the cold weather hits they’ll learn to cuddle. I really hoping they keep each other safe. It feels right to have them in that space. It feels good to hear the pig squeals and the duck hiss when I get my car out of the barn in the morning.

An empty barn is just the playroom for a raccoons and wildlife which brings danger closer to my doorstep and my puppies.

I send out a special cheer to Elvis, our rooster and Missy, our hen. A speedy trip to heaven, save a place for us in the barn and give Gizmo a big hug an kiss from his family who miss him very much.