The Snout of Communication

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I think one of my favourite things about Wheatie, and there are so many, is that when he gets excited he “snouts” me. He nudges me with his snout, sometimes his mouth is open sometimes it’s closed, it’s not a bite, it’s like someone trying to pull your arm to take you somewhere, except he doesn’t have a hand to grab my sleeve so he uses his snout! It could be when he’s excited about a walk, it could be just when I get home, sometimes it’s because it’s meal time or he’s just excited and playing and he wants me to join in.It is always done when he’s excited. He snouts my legs. img_6836

Now, I’m sure some trainer somewhere is going to say this is some sign of bad behaviour or something….like an act of aggression cause he’s using his mouth and maybe I shouldn’t reward this snout nudging… It could maybe fall under the same behaviour grouping as jumping up, which I know is not encouraged.

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But…yeah, whatever. He’s so happy when he does it, he’s so playful and full of joy in that moment, I’m just gonna enjoy his communication!  To be fair, given his background, he doesn’t get reprimanded much, the slightest raise to my voice and his tail goes right between his legs and you can see he gets fearful. He’s still so scared of so many things. Honestly, besides our on the leash issue around other dogs and him still barking at his reflection, Wheaton is very well behaved. His recall is better than Daisy’s. When I say “Stop” he stops, almost instantly. If I call him, he comes to me. Daisy doesn’t do anything she doesn’t want to do unless she sees the treat up front. She doesn’t fall for the “maybe Momma has a treat this time” trick at all! Wheaton always has hope that there could be a treat!! Snout

I’m use to Daisy being excited to see me and wanting to cuddle and snuggle….so if I get home and Wheaton is excited enough to give me a snout nudge, I’ll take it!

And be very happy to have been “snouted”!!

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Camping Begins with Something Unexpected…

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May Long, a weekend we all (im)patiently wait for, the countdown beginning somewhere around February 7th! Then, after Easter, when we get that first little brush with “Spring” and we all get antsy!  You know that fake out that Mother Nature sends us late March where the snow starts melting and the sun is high and the temperature goes above freezing….and we all venture outside with just a light sweater on!! Maybe we even pull out the BBQ just to get a little flavour of warmer Summer days that are coming! We crack open the windows, we get going on “Spring Cleaning”…. And then 2 days later, it snows again!

For me the joy is that Camping season opens but typically May Long is a miserable weekend….however, we all have high hopes, we pull our campers out and we cross our fingers that it WON’T rain (or snow) ALL weekend! Even the non-religious of the campers pray to some type of weather God on May Long Weekend!! It doesn’t matter though, we are all itching to get out and do something, anything, summer related!!

For 30 years I have been packing up and going camping on this sacred weekend…rain or shine, or in some cases, snow or torrential downpour with hurricane like winds, very rarely is it a gorgeous weekend from start to finish…but this year it was!!  I guess sometimes those prayers work!!

We did something different this year, something I wouldn’t normally do because it’s the first trip of the season, and for seasonal, it’s set up weekend…..but yes, we brought a guest. Don’t get excited & hopeful, it was a canine guest! I swore I would NEVER bring Bailey the Min Pin camping…she’s just too much energy for our little camper.

I believe the expression is “Never say “never”!” Because you see, my friends were in a bind, I’m their dog-sitter, their daughter had a volleyball tournament and it was May Long weekend….

*** Sidebar, I have a difficult time saying “no” to people who need my help.***

So along came Bailey the Min Pin! She’s actually much better now, and my fur littles are much better with her as well. She is just a way higher frequency of energy than my furballs…and Daisy has a very low tolerance for high energy in her space! Daisy wants everyone to “chill the f**k out”. (No idea where she gets that attitude from????)

But we did it! I fit all the “stuff” in the car, along with Bailey in her kennel! And we were off!

Camping with Bailey May long 2018 - 1We got to the campground, backed the trailer up into position and then the set up began. I brought the dogs out of the car, put out their dog beds and secured their tie out ropes and then went about my business to get unloaded and the trailer ready.

A few minutes late, I turned around and there was Bailey the Min Pin….making herself right at home on the top of the picnic table! She reminded me of someone on lookout in the Crow’s Nest! She found the highest point to keep an eye on everything! Those ears are always up, those eyes are always open, and she has big time “FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out).

She also cannot sit still, so she managed to get her tie out rope in knots every 5 minutes! My dogs only move to reposition their sleeping position!

Anyway, we had a great May Long! The sun shined on us every day….seriously! Not a drop of rain….amazing! We hiked the trails, we walked the rocky shoreline, we (tried) to sit and read in peace!!  All in all, I’m pretty sure our guest had a great time with us. I wouldn’t volunteer to bring her again but I wouldn’t say no if my friends were in a pinch again, now that I know it’s doable.

We all survived being in a tiny camper with Bailey the Min Pin!!

Wheaton Gets Sociable!

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We tried something new a couple weeks ago…we went to a dog park.

Yes.

Let me explain…

I have a friend who is a dog trainer. She also organizes a weekly occurring small dog play group. In the summer the dogs play off leash in a safe fenced in area of the off leash dog park. This is a great (secured) open space where puppies, or dogs with unreliable recall, or small dogs that don’t do well with an over zealous 70+ pound shepherd/lab/rotti/husky/what-have-you cross in their faces, or a dog like Wheaton, can do very well with off leash freedom & safe play!!

To be honest, at first I was very worried that Wheaton was going to still be a jerk when I took his leash off…even though other experiences had lead me to believe that his jerkiness is anxiety not aggression. As a human with anxiety, I get it, anxiety makes me an asshole too! I got your back there Wheatie Boy!!

Anyway, my friend was offering an “I’m an Asshole on my Leash” training session – No not the actual name of her training lesson but yes…basically this was what I needed so that I could help Wheaton with his issue. Well, our timing didn’t work out that day so we we missed the training but we did get there in time to join the play group.  Of course, all the way across the open area of the dog park (on his leash) Wheaton was barking and freaking out….and I was just hoping and praying he wasn’t putting a big target on our backs as I just wanted to get across the field and get to the penned in area.

We made it, we went in the gate, the moment of truth……

I took off his leash. Off he went sniffing, calm and curious about these other little dogs. Daisy by his side.

This was success. This experience made me feel so happy for him! His first real play with a group of strange dogs and he did so well!! I was such a proud Momma!! Yes, he and Daisy were a bit aloof but that’s perfectly fine….not everyone needs to be a social butterfly!! 🙂

Nothing else mattered but this look…..Dog Play 5this is the look of a happy Wheaton!  I swear he is smiling. He is not intimidated, he is not afraid, he is not nervous or anxious or concerned about anything else but sniffin other dog butts and peeing on stuff…oh yeah, and, “if all these other humans have these little pouches around their waist like my Momma does…does that mean they ALL want to give me a treat!!??!”

Momma’s good boy!

 

The Wheaton & the Pee

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Wheaton does not ask to go out for a bathroom break. He will still stop and pop a squat right in the middle of the rug if I don’t read his signals properly. He does not go to the door when he has to pee….but he will get fidgety.

If we’re home on the couch, or in bed, it starts as a lie down-get up thing. If he doesn’t settle after a few digs of the pillow, and a few turns, then I watch him. Next it’s get up and turn around. Then he just stands up and looks at me. No bark, no whimper, no huff. That look basically means “Hey Momma, drop your (knitting, your tea, your remote, your phone) whatever cause I think I gotta pee. Now!”

Daisy is the same, she just stares at me…if I ask her “Do you have to go outside?” She’ll huff. The difference in their stares of course is that Wheaton has no qualms about just peeing if I’m not fast enough, and Daisy would explode before she peed on the floor! She’d be so embarrassed! Wheatie is still unpredictable. And it’s difficult to break that because he learned that from 4 years in a puppy mill cage, in a cage it’s a just go environment. I don’t ever get mad or scold him for having an accident, if anything I apologize for not catching his signs quick enough. I’m trying to retrain a habit that was ingrained since puppy-dom. We have come a LONG way in the last 3 1/2 years so if this is the best we can do, I’m ok with it.  I know he CAN hold it! He just doesn’t control his impulses…if he has to go…he GOES!

I do my best to stick to routine. That does help. If it’s a busy day at work I take him for a lunch time pee break. At home I let him out for an early evening pee break. Sometimes with my insomnia I’m up in the wee hours…so he gets a wee break!

He does pretty well with me paying attention, he does however still have his separation imageanxiety pees…those are the ones where I have taken him out for a pee…all is done…then I have to leave them and I come back an hour or more later…or 15 minutes later…and there’s a puddle (not always ON the peed pad…but just a few inches over from the pad).  What is cute is that he brings his favourite toy to the scene of the pee crime. Like as if to say, “I know I peed, but I’m sorry…he’s my pinky“. 2015-10-29 17.26.48

It is what it is. I have just learned to keep a roll of paper towels and a good stain & odor remover spray on hand!

Look at that face…..how could you ever be mad at that faaaaaaace!!!!!

When you have rescue dogs, or dogs in general, accidents happen.

Roll with it!!

 

Healing

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I haven’t been blogging because we haven’t really been doing much.  I’m finding it exhausting being at work and maintaining normalcy for the work day.  Grief is exhausting…it sucks all your energy. You don’t realize how much mental energy it takes to hold your shit together until you finally get home and let go, let it out, and just BE.

IMG_0668On this healing journey I have many friends and family members checking on me and supporting me, emails, texts, phone calls, social media posts, etc, which I am super grateful for, couldn’t do this without them. Thank you. But, in the wee hours and the other alone times, when it’s just me, nothing, NOTHING, is as comforting as the constant devotion from my dogs. They are my lifeline.  Available for cuddles 24/7. Wheaton is still pushing himself up against me at night in bed. Daisy won’t start her day without her Momma Snuggles. I am blessed. IMG_1225

The grief is not constant now…it has moved and changed. It’s bold and random and all of a sudden just in your face at the most obscure moments….like just when you think you’ve got a handle on it and you’re in control of it…it slaps you in the face. It’s when you’re in the grocery store, or standing in line at the post office, or in the car on your way out somewhere and you’re of course wearing eye makeup which is now running down your face, or while enjoying a walk through the park with your dogs….or my current favourite inopportune moment; when a coworker or my boss comes to my office to ask me about something and I’m in the middle of a “moment”. It was easier (?easier, ha?) months ago when it was fresh and everyone else was in the moment and tears were just a normal occurrence, and understood, and no explanation was needed…now everyone has moved on so the coworkers don’t always get why I’m at my desk, or at the photocopier, crying.

Oh well, it is what it is and I will sit with this and heal in my own damn time.

Let’s move on to some stuff to look forward to shall we…Camp 2

We had our seasonal camping lottery draw and I got a pick position…29th pick out of 35 spots. I was shitting bricks that someone would pick “my spot” but my pick came up and our favourite spot from last year was still available! So, we are back in our corner spot with the path to the lake…now just patiently waiting for May Long weekend to start off the season!

Something that also brings me joy….this role as Auntie Jenn! I’m so fortunate…I have two lovely nephews. My bestie Michael and his husband have their little guy Conor IMG_1686and I’m proud (surrogate) Auntie Jenn. The boys also got a seasonal spot for camping this year so this will be Conor’s second camping season! He’s much bigger now, and mobile, he will be a riot!! He’s so smart and inquisitive! He sits back and studies everything before he pursues it. His mental wheels are always turning.  I can’t wait to see how Summer goes with my little buddy!

 

And then there is my Sister’s little one…Elliot. Auntie’s little Nugget! ElliotRemember that tiny little bundle I showed you in July…he’s now 8 months and I’m so proud of him, so big and so smart and curious! He’s pretty much standing on his own and trying out the walk! He’s already got the belly scooch mastered! Pretty sure he’s going to bypass crawling and go straight to run!  You can see him problem solving everything…how do I work this toy, this puzzle, etc. If he can get his hands on it he will figure it out!  This summer is going to be so much fun as he starts being fully mobile and investigating everything!! He’s my absolute joy!  If I could quit my job and just be full time Auntie I would be in my glory!!

Yes, having my dogs and these two little fellas in my life makes me feel pretty darn lucky,  especially when the world is ugly and throwing sad tragic news in your face every day. It can be difficult to look on the bright side or see the silver (tarnished as it is) lining.

Back to dogs and healing. A friend sent me a message saying “Hug your fur babies, it’s good for you.” with a link to an article about the healing gift that dogs have. You see there was a terrible tragic accident recently on a Saskatchewan highway, and even if you weren’t from the community, or even from Saskatchewan, as far as being Canadian goes, we’re all family somehow. A passenger bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos, a Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League team, collided with a semi-trailer. Tragically, 15 members of the team died and many more were injured. A whole community devastated in one quick flash. Families left shattered with the sudden loss of their loved ones. The story in the link below shows how a therapy group came in and brought their dogs to help the families and the community deal with their grief and pain.

How therapy dogs were silent healers in Humboldt https://globalnews.ca/news/4136899/therapy-dogs-humboldt-bus-crash/?utm_source=GlobalWinnipeg&utm_medium=Facebook

I’m no expert, but in my opinion, dogs really are the best healers. We all have a story. We all feel grief and pain at some point.

We’re all on a journey. That journey is always made better with a furry companion.

Take care of you.

In love and in kindness,

Jenn, Wheaton & Daisy

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Difficult Times

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It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write about my wonderful little furry fraggles I’ve just been busy. But not busy in the physical sense…busy in the mental & emotional sense…busy in my head. Busy in my chaotic hamster brain. So busy I’m exhausted. Busy keeping it together, busy staying afloat in every day life, busy trying to maintain composure. Just busy, so much overwhelming busy-ness. ….

You see, on Boxing Day my Mum died. One minute she was sending me email messages…and then a couple hours later the phone rang and my sister was telling me that our step dad called to deliver the horrible news.

She wasn’t sick. She wasn’t old. She wasn’t someone who should have died. She was a wonderful, vibrant 62 year old healthy woman on holiday…she was just getting ready to go to the beach. And then she had a massive heart attack and died.

I don’t tell you this for sympathy, just my story. And this is where the story is going to tie into my wonderful little Wheaton… My little fraggle of fur and skittishness and anxiety. While I was in the first few weeks of grieving I was a mess. I simply went from bed to couch and back to bed. Sometimes having the energy and awareness to walk the dogs, sometimes all I could manage was to let them out in the back yard and watch them from the back stoop. The amazing thing was what Wheaton did every night and every morning….

I’d put the dogs on the bed and then I’d crawl under the duvet. Daisy has always snuggled up close and at this time she would take to my pillow and curl around my head. Wheaton would wait until I settled into my sleep position on my side and then he would burrow under the duvet with me, and push himself up against my back. It was quite comforting to feel his little fur body pushing against me….it was like he wanted to make sure I could feel that I wasn’t alone. One particularly difficult evening I went to bed and before rolling to my side I just lay there on my back. Tears rolling from my eyes. Silent sobs. I felt like my heart was broken into a million pieces.  Wheaton moved himself over and then came to lay across my chest. His little chest across mine, his heart aligned with mine, then he stretched himself and put his chin down and sighed. He stayed like that for almost 20 minutes. It was as if he was trying to mend my heart with his. It was very healing. My little furry Reiki Master. My little healer.

He’s done this heart to heart several times over the last 2 months….always when I’m feeling at my most broken. Dogs are amazing creatures aren’t they!?! What a wonderful gift. Daisy & Wheaton are healing my broken heart with unconditional love. And also by forcing me to engage in life. I must walk them. I must make their food. I must play with them. And the more the weather improves and the sun shines the more they feel spring coming and they want longer walks and I need this too. They know.

So yes, this is tragic. This is devastating. This is sad. This is all the shittiest emotional BLECH tossed into a blender and served with a shit sandwich. UGH. I hate this moment in time right now. Hate it so much my words are just a jumble of verbal vomit wrapped in hurt and pain. It sucks.

But, when I can’t handle people, (and I have some great people…thank you to you all) I have these two little fur babies that make me smile, make me walk, make me laugh and make me love. I’m not completely broken.

Blessed Be….

Lil Angel 1

Amazing

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Wheaton is such a trooper.

You’d never know that he had major dental surgery 3 days ago. He’s been eating, playing and going for walks like nothing changed. I mean really….think of your own mouth if you’ve had your wisdom teeth pulled..cause that’s basically the equivalent to what he had done. Your whole jaw would hurt, you’d be taking T-3’s, probably not eating, plenty of rest…etc. He wanted to eat as soon as we walked in the door Tuesday evening. Nothing gets between Wheatie and his meal time! The next day he was playing with Daisy, ready for walks….everything. Today he was running around, happy as can be playing with his pinky stuffy toy and just being his usual goofy self. 

I haven’t checked in his mouth but I touch his face and jaw several times throughout the day and there is no swelling, he doesn’t seem bothered if I touch around his jaw….tomorrow I will open his mouth and check inside. I wanted to give him a few days before I open his mouth. I have looked in when he yawns and everything looks clean. 

He truly amazes me. He just keeps moving forward. He truly lives in the moment. What a wonderful little creature. 

Back to the Dentist

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Well we did our best for the last year…we chewed, we brushed, we ate a healthy diet but still at his annual check up Wheaton’s teeth were horrible. He had breath that only his momma could love and even then I had a hard time. The vet and I had that discussion again about extraction. More teeth to come out….big ones….the back molars.

Warm up VISA you’re gonna be smokin hot soon enough. I joke, but seriously veterinary dental is a costly event. There isn’t a flat fee. The different services have rates that are charged in 10 minute intervals. There’s a hefty anesthetic fee for administering and monitoring, and then the tooth polishing and the extraction, and IV fluids and medications. And more. And then some. And more.

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Hook roots

X-rays showed that his bottom molars have “hooked roots”, pulling those could risk fracturing his bottom jaw. The vet cleaned the bottom molars and pulled the smaller pre-molars on the left side next to the molar…it still had a slight hook and didn’t come out clean…for this reason she did not pull the same pre-molar on the right side.

Even the top molars had hooks that were not visible on the X-rays….this made the extraction difficult but not as dangerous as the bottom molars with their hooks.

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See the hooks 

Dental health is a HUGE part of your dog’s well being. And a part that we do not pay enough attention to…until there’s an issue. Trust me….2 dental visits totalling over $3,000 is a big chunk of change, and we haven’t even got to how hard it is on my boy! 
The anesthetic, the pain meds, the antibiotics, and the force needed to pull those big molars out….the pain after while his little mouth heals. It’s a lot. My Wheatie boy is a tough little guy…he’s so resilient. His history is full of pain. He’s lived through much worse. But this is part of why I hate this situation. And that’s my own empathetic impression. I hate the idea of my boy being in pain….I can’t explain to him why this is happening and he can’t tell me if the pain is being managed enough. All I can do is hug him and do Reiki on him and help him through. It hurts me to imagine how much his little mouth must hurt, but he just moves forward. He’s happy when I give him his big bowl of food, he’s happy when I cuddle him close to me, he’s happy to play with Daisy, he’s happy to go for a walk….so even though his mouth must hurt he’s still a pretty happy dude.

I am devoted to my dogs. They are the loves of my life. Their health and happiness is my number one priority. Period.

And now, when he’s snuggled up close to me and he yawns in my face, his breath won’t make me gag.

Happy Gotcha Day

Happy Gotcha Anniversary to my Wheatie boy!! 

My Wheaton is a goofball. He makes me laugh every day. 

My Wheaton is a sweetie. He fills my heart with love every day.

My Wheaton is a bit of a jerk (with love)!  He barks at other dogs every day.

My Wheaton is a Momma’s Boy. He wants to be snuggled every day (now).

My Wheaton is a challenge. He tests my consistency every day….I fail. 

My Wheaton is a million other things. 

My Wheaton is the love of my life (one of 3 cause Daisy and Chicken are in there too). 

Three years ago he came for a test visit….and three years ago he stole my heart. 

I didn’t rescue him. He just belonged here and had a long hard road to travel before he got here. 

Sweet Boy

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We’re coming up to our three year anniversary. To say my boy has become cuddly is an understatement….dude is a snuggle monster. He now needs to sleep under the covers up against me. When we sit on the couch he crawls over to me and wiggles his way in for snuggles. He asks to be cuddled….he puts his paw on me and paws at me until I stop what I’m doing and pick him up for loves.

Three years ago this little boy was in a filthy puppy mill cage. He was a mess. He was neglected, abused, used, forgotten and never ever loved. Never cuddled. Never held.

I don’t dwell on that…that’s his past. But I remind people of his story so that one day we can bring an end to the puppy mill industry. I tell his story because people just can’t believe that this was a reality!  And yes, this is still a reality for so many dogs.

Wheatie got his happily ever after. It’s my mission to make sure he has a happy life every single day!! That when he asks for loves, I put down whatever I’m doing and I give him the loves. When he snuggles up to me and rests his head on me I look at him, I caress his little face and I tell him “momma loves you baby boy”. When he gets past a “trigger” and doesn’t freak out I make sure there’s a treat in my pocket to reward his progress. I kiss him all the time even though that still makes him a little tense…he tolerates the kisses!

My boy is one of a kind. He’s such a special little fraggle. Three years ago I took a chance and asked to see this terrified mess of a dog.

He was meant to be my baby boy.

Gawd I love this face……