The Terror is Real…

I have told you about my wee (cat) dog Lucy.  Happy Birthday!  She is now 8 years old.  She is my mixed shi-poo (shit-zu/poodle mix) breed.  She is dysfunctional as a dog.  Why?  Lucy was diagnosed with strangles at 3 months.  The cure for this illness was to suppress her immune system.  Being prone to infection, that meant no going out for walks, no meeting other dogs.  I couldn’t give her puppy training like I had with Waldo.  With Waldo I got to take him to puppy classes so he could play with other dogs and meet other people and get to know the world around him.  What happened next?

I thought I came up with a genius plan.  When I would take Waldo out for his walks, I would put Lucy in an insulated lunch bag, which I would carry on my shoulder, and let her head peek out so she could get accustomed to sights and sounds in the neighbourhood.  She would slip her head out and I hoped she would get used to the sounds of cars and buses and airplanes, the noise of other dogs, the noise of people talking.  I wanted her to see bicycles and motorcycles.  She needed to get used to the world like Waldo did.

Well…it didn’t quite work out as I had hoped.  The only dogs she could be exposed to were…well…only Waldo.  She had been on the immune suppressing drugs for over 3 months and my nightly walks did not really help her see the real world.  How do I know this?  A leaf blows by…DANGER!  She barks at it.  A butterfly goes flying by…DANGER!  She barks at it. Wheelchairs.  DANGER!  Birds.  DANGER!  “Well, if she isn’t a good dog, then why is she barking at stuff like a normal dog would?” you may be asking.  Dysfunctional, but observant, is my Lucy.

Being quarantined with Sir Waldo, she learned what to do by imitating him.  She barks at EVERYTHING hoping she will get it right.  She will bark and Waldo will come running.  If it’s a leaf…he won’t bark.  After all these years she still can’t get it right.  Example:  He will bark at a bird.  He is facing the bird and barking at it.  What does Lucy do?   She stands in front of him, facing him and barks at HIM.  Great dog (dripping with sarcasm)!

I told you that whole story to tell you this story:

Today, poor girl needed a haircut.  Sadly her big bro, her protector and guide, had to stay home.  He has an infection.  I put the leash on her.  Normally she barks like crazy, but this time there was only silence.  We got in the car.  Silence.  She shook nervously in the car the whole drive there (8 minutes).  Normally she would be barking up a storm to impress her brother, but he wasn’t there.  I parked and looked to my left and that’s when I saw it.  An abandoned shopping cart.  I debated moving, but then thought I could get her out of the car without noticing.  Nope.  Oh the horror and terror!  Lucy went wild!  She knew it was evil!

 

We got into the store and she barked at every dog she saw (at Petsmart) because that is what her brother had taught her.  We got to the grooming salon.  I had carried her the whole way (all 9 lbs of her) because it was rainy and icky outside.  Well, I put her down so that she could feel like a dog again.  She scampered over to me, she stood on her hind legs and with her front paws scratched at my legs.  I picked her up.  She was still shaking.  Where was Waldo when she needed him?!

Her haircut was actually a trim.  She was there for a total of 20 minutes.  I came back to pick her up and she gave me an earful of complaints.  From the time I picked her up, paid for the cut, drove home, the barking did not subside.  I was evil and she was letting me know it.  Once we got through the front door she went running to find her big brother and tell HIM everything that had happened to her.  After finally exhausting herself with all the barking, she felt safe once again and perched herself up on her lookout chair, looking through the window to make sure she would be the first to bark and protect us from any imminent danger.

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Lucy the “cat” dog. Dogs don’t sit like this.

Here is a list of the most perilous items that she needs to warn us about:  leaves, butterflies, birds, children walking by, adults walking by, teenagers walking by, people walking by carrying groceries, letter carriers, strollers, bicycles, tricycles, buses, cars, motorcycles, lawnmowers, weed-whackers, squirrels, birds, people waiting at the bus stop, rabbits, cats, garbage trucks, recycling trucks, garbage blowing by, wheelchairs, scooters, and anything she has never seen before…like a shopping cart in the parking lot.  Yes, that would be the short list.

Now we come to dogs; other dogs.  Barking, walking, running…those, she has learned, are what she really needs to keep her guard up for.  For, when a dog goes walking by, she has learned to bark incessantly and the look around to see when Waldo will come to bark his approval of her house defense.  Then she is so full of pride because her brother, the one who never wants to play with her or be near her, will come and bark too so that they can quell the offender.  Yes, the terror is real…my dogs (dog and half-dog) can confirm that.

Astraphobia…or is God out to get me?

There are many types of fears:  fear of heights, fear of spiders, fear of drowning…to name but a few.  They all have their own “phobia” name.  I had this one fear, that some of you might also have had, called astraphobia or the “fear of thunderstorms”.  Allow me to share with you my mind-numbing anxiety and how I finally conquered this phobia.

The first lighting bolt / thunderclap storm that I can recall was when I was 4 years old.  Our family (mom, dad, us four kids) had gone to Croatia for a vacation (meet the relatives trip).  Being so young, I don’t really remember much.  The one thing I clearly recall is a lightning storm.  It was pitch black outside until the firebolt lit up the sky.  I was under an umbrella with someone (found out it was my mother) and we were trying to run quickly through the mud to get home before we got hit by lightning.  It was a terrifying experience and therefore etched in my mind forever.  That was thunderstorm number one.

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The second thunderstorm that I can recall, took place after we had moved into our new family home.  I was 7 years old.  It was early afternoon when suddenly, the sky went from pretty blue to smokey, dark grey.  We had to turn the lights on in the house.  I was standing beside my mother and we were looking out the window.  CRACK!!!  Lightning streaked across the sky!  Seriously, there were probably 5 bolts that went from cloud to cloud.  A few seconds later BOOOOOM!  Thunder shook the house.  My mom held me and informed me that everything was going to be fine.  Then the lights went out.  I was shaking with fear.  Then all of a sudden…ICE PELLETS!!  I had never seen that before.  Ice cubes falling from the sky.  Hail was piling up on the dirt mountain in front of our house.

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I started thinking that God must be mad at us.  (Yes, going to church all the time and listening to the bible stories of the “vengeful destructive God” in the old testament can really get a kid’s imagination going.)  Well, God wasn’t going to strike me dead on this day.  I bolted up to my bedroom and hid under my bed.  I would live!

Fast forward to when I was 18 years old.  Another never-forgotten storm.  I was back in Croatia.  This time it was me with my parents and younger brother.  We had gone to Medjugorje.  It was a pilgrimage for our Catholic family.  My mother wanted us to do the Stations of the Cross.  We were prepping for prayer when all of a sudden, the sky went black, lightning bolts came bearing down from the sky, the thunder shook the ground and I believed God was going to strike me dead.  (Oh yeah…that “fear of God” can really do a number on a catholic girl’s psyche.)  I looked around and my mother was gone.  Maybe HE struck HER dead!  Nope, mom reappeared from behind a statue saying, “I wasn’t even afraid of dying.”  Well good for you!  I had been terrified!

 

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(I wonder if my mother is a descendant of Zeus or Thor.  Why?  Doesn’t it seem odd that when the worst (and my most memorable) storms hit my mother was in the vicinity?  Something to think about, you conspiracy theorists out there.)

Now, into my adulthood I was still not a fan of storms.  I had friends and co-workers tell me that if I learned more about lightning storms I would get rid of my fear.  Oh, I read about them alright.  I read about golfers being struck by lightning.  STRUCK DEAD!  Then there were the articles about water being a conductor of electricity.  So, after all my “helpful” research, not only did I fear the storms even more, I managed to kick my fear into high gear:

  1.  No taking showers or baths if there was a lightning storm.  Why?  Water is a conductor and I would not be struck dead in my tub.fullsizeoutput_21eb
  2. No answering the phone during a storm.  Why?  Well, if water was a conductor, then surely an electrical phone would lead the lightning bolt right through my ear and into my brain and yup…strike me dead.fullsizeoutput_21ec
  3. No touching computer keyboards, screens, photocopiers, fax machines, etc. during a storm.  Why?  Same reason; electricity.  Like begets like.

Then something changed.  Children came into my life.

Now, this is the last memorable storm I can recall.  We were vacationing at the cottage.  Everyone was in bed.  Suddenly, a strange sound came to my ears.  It was rain.  You could hear it moving closer from across the lake.  So pretty.  So relaxing and then…BLINDING LIGHT!!!!  BOOOOOM!!!  I freaked and hid under the covers.  Then we heard a terrified voice yell “Daddy!”  Wiseguy went to comfort the wee 7 year old girl.  I shook underneath my covers and then my brain yelled at me: “What are you DOING?!”  fullsizeoutput_21ef

What was I doing?  What WAS my problem?  I had never perished in any other storm.  What was I so worried about?  I wasn’t a golfer.  So far, it seemed my mortality was not threatened.  My self-created reign of terror was officially over.

Afterward, when storms came around, I was the brave one and was there to hold our little princess.  I would tell her stories, or I would turn the radio on and we would dance.  Distraction…best thing to do during a storm.  After the storm was over, the beautiful rainbow would come out and all would be well again.fullsizeoutput_21ed

Nowadays, I do use electrical equipment AND take showers (not at the same time) when there is a thunderstorm going on.  The kids are all grown up, but I am now the official protector of my 9 year old fur baby, Sir Waldo; the fluffy shi-poo.  (Look at those ears pulled back and the crazy long “freaked-out-by-thunder” tongue.)

 

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Being a descendant of Zeus and/or Thor (yeah, might as well go with it), Waldo and I no longer have to fear the sky storms.  However, I do still wonder sometimes…is it astrophobia or is God out to get me?

P.S.  So far, no damage to me from God storms.  Yay me!

P.P.S.  I did take up golfing…

Lucy… I’m Home! Lequitia? Looowee?

I wrote about one dog love (my puppy / doggy Waldo) and today I will tell you the story of Lucy.  If you read my previous blog, you would’ve learned about my fear of dogs and how I came to own one myself.  This is the story of how a little black and white shi-poo came to be part of our family.

Waldo (a.k.a. “Fabio” the dog who believes he is the be all and end all) was our only fuzzy friend.  He came to us from a pet store that Princess worked at.  Hubby came home one day with a scared, little black Shi-poo.  She was being picked on by the pure bred shitzus so Princess asked if he could save her.  He did.  Roxanne became Waldo’s little sister.

Roxanne and Waldo were meant to be together.  Waldo was only one month older than his new sister.  When they napped, Roxanne would put her head on top of Waldo’s neck.  They ran around excitedly. Roxanne running out front and Waldo running after her.  We had a great little dog team, but it was short lived.  One day we had the backyard gate open and the chase continued from the backyard, spilling over into the front yard.  Speedy Roxanne ran happily out into the street and was hit by a passing pickup truck.  She died instantly.  Wiseguy and I were traumatized .  Waldo was devastated.  Waldo would sit by the window every day to try and find his playmate.  I thought we should find him someone new to play with.

Imagine my surprise when Wiseguy told me that he was coming home with a new puppy.  She was seven weeks old.  When I came home I couldn’t believe how tiny she was!  (Wiseguy named her Lucy because of the line from the “I Love Lucy” show where Desi would come home and holler “Luuuucy I’m home!”)  My wee little hairball had a head of black hair with white hairs just above the eyes;  they looked like an old man’s grey eyebrows.   Her black head sat on a completely white body.  So tiny and spunky and yippy and beyond adorable.  She was a shi-poo with spunk!  She was scampering around everywhere!  We found Waldo a new playmate!  Except for one thing:  Waldo hated her.

Waldo kept walking away from her.  He would climb on a step or jump on the couch so she couldn’t reach him.  Too much pawing and nipping and especially the scampering!  Poor Waldo.  We wanted to find him a mate and we found him an annoyance.  I guess that one year difference was just too much.  Oh well, Lucy was with us to stay.

Our new addition became ill after 3 months.  Lucy had strangles.  What?  Worse case scenario the illness could have strangled her to death.  For three months she had to take meds to kill her autoimmune system.  No regular dog walks because she could get an even deadlier infection.  Sadly her world exposure was quite hampered.  As such she barks at the following:  all people walking or running, people on bicycles or skateboards,  buses driving by, birds, leaves, air.  You get the idea.  For three months of her life all she had was Waldo as her dog example.  She even pees like Waldo; one hind leg up.   She never got to sniff or see or play with any other dogs.  She survived and became a unique (?) dog.

For some reason my little 10 lb. pup likes to play fetch.  A shi-poo that plays fetch?  Weird.  She likes to lick her paws like a cat.  When Waldo is looking out the window and barks at something outside, she will stand up on her hind legs and bark as well.  Why is she barking?  Because Waldo is.  If I leave them at doggie daycare, Waldo will hang out near her to protect her because she doesn’t really know how to be with dogs (we think she believes she is a cat).  After his big brother duty is done, he will saunter off.  Lucy will whine and be miserable if her big brother isn’t around.  Sounds like a regular human relationship between brother and sister right?

Although her name is Lucy, she will come when I call any name that starts off with the “loo” sound.  Lucy, Lulu, Lequitia (that was a favourite for a few months), Lucifer (haha), and most recently my niece’s little one who will be two in a couple of months called her “Loooweee”.  Lucy came.

So now you know the story of my two favourite cuddle-puppies.  Waldo, our pretty boy  who is very vocal when he wants something.  Lucy, the quiet cat-like dog who loves to cuddle and lick.  Lick everything and anything.  If she needs to go out she will sit and stare at you.   That’s your first clue.  If you don’t get it from that silent clue, she will jump onto your lap and start licking your face off.  No barking.  It’s her trademark “I need to poo” move.  Throw a ball and she will fetch to the point of retching.  Crazy dog.

If I had to do a dating profile for Lucy it would read as follows:  LOVE baths (I jump into the tub myself).  I HATE, HATE, HATE having my hair brushed.  Love walks so I can bark at everything and everyone.  Love to lick my paws.  Love to lick your face.  Love to be cuddled and coddled.  I will head butt you if you hold onto the ball and won’t throw it for me to fetch.  I am 7 years old and I run around like a puppy.  You may find me weird at first, but I have my own special qualities.  Love Lucy (aka Lequitia / Lucifer / Lulu / Loooweee)

P.S.  I love Waldo

Fuzzy Wuzzy…was NOT a bear

With my new career change and my new life, it’s nice to have something that remains constant.  Something that is familiar.  Something that I love.  Something that I can come home to and know it will be there for me.  Always happy to see me.  Always there to greet me.  Yes, you would think that I am speaking about my beloved “Wiseguy” husband.  It could be my handsome man, but sometimes he works nights and he is not there for me upon my return.  When he is not home, I have two fuzzy wuzzies that are always super happy to see me when I get home.  I have two fluffy puppies (until they get haircuts), but no matter how challenging a day I have had, their wet noses and wagging tails make me melt and forget about any trials and tribulations.  This is the story of how the first fuzzy wuzzy came into my life.

I hated dogs.  Period.  Yes, my early years, my teen years, my early adult years, I hated dogs.  Actually, I didn’t hate them, but they terrified me!  I always thought they were going to jump on me and wrestle me to the ground and eat my face off.  How did I get this insane conception?  No idea.  For years I just new that all I had to yell was, “Go home!” and they should go scurrying off.  Did it always work?  In most cases.  So, how did an anti-dog person suddenly become the owner of, not one, but two dogs?

Whilst Wiseguy was working nights, I was alone and wanted company.  I told him I wanted a dog.  He laughed. He chuckled.  He chortled (oh yes he did!).  With the comment of:  “You hate dogs.”  Yes, he was right.  The reason I began thinking I wanted an animal was something a friend said. He had just become the new owner of a German Shepherd.  I told him I could never visit him because I was terrified of dogs.  He said quite simply, “Oh, I don’t like other people’s dogs but I love mine.”  That got me thinking.  Yeah.  If I trained my dog then I would love it.  Wiseguy still thought I was crazy.  Even worse, I told him I would call my dog Barney.  Well, he poo-pooed me every night.  I kept going to bed at night wishing that I could have my Teddy-bear dog.

I wished for a tan coloured little pooch with little dark eyes.  I knew it should be a him and not a her.  I just felt it was right.  (I have these wonky extra-terrestrial powers I think).  So, imagine my surprise when after about 4 weeks my stepdaughter called, super-excited with this news:  “You aren’t going to believe this!  I got an interview at a pet store.”  Well, now you see how my hokey-pokey magic wish powers just seemed to come to fruition.  What happened next?

After a week at the new job, I decided to visit her and see how she was liking her new job.  She was always incredible with animals and this was a perfect fit for her.  I told Wiseguy that I was going to visit her and asked if he wanted to come along.  Sure.  So, off we went.  We arrived and Princess was super happy with her job.  FANTASTIC!  Suddenly, my eyes locked on this little furball.  He just sat there.  The other pups scampered around him and he just sat there.  Princesses’ sister (who also worked there) asked me if I wanted to hold him.  Hold?  Him?  I have held over 100 children, but 4-legged creatures…never!  She brought him to me and put him in my arms.  He sat there.  He didn’t move.  He didn’t bark.  The anti-dog.  I was amazed at this 10-week old teddy bear.  They had a little room that you could sit in to get to know one another.  I placed my little furball on the floor and he WENT NUTS!   He was scurrying and jumping and yipping and I didn’t know what to do!  Wiseguy was laughing at me (justifiably).  He came in and rescued me.  How?  He picked up the foot long fuzzy and placed in my arms where he promptly relaxed and just let me carry him around.  I fell in love with this little cutie.  What happened next?

Barney came home with us except he was renamed Waldo.   Like “Where’s Waldo?”  Wiseguy is great at naming people (children) and animals. Fuzzy wuzzy…has kept me sane.  At first I used to call Wiseguy and cry.  I had never had a pet before and suddenly I had this 6 lb furball biting me and scratching and whimpering and barking.  It was a learning experience with a puppy, but I did survive.  Waldo (now 8 years old and I like to call him Fabio).  He knows he is beautiful.  When his hair gets long (part shitzu-part poodle) he needs a haircut(e).  (lol!  My own funny.)  Biblically he is like Samson (and Delilah if you need to google).  When his hair is short (that is his “Baldo” phase) he is “sprite-like” as the 10 week old that I met. No matter what, Waldo aka Baldo aka Fabio is special.  Why?

Where’s Waldo?  As a dating profile I think he would say:  Hate baths, but love long brushes.  Hate squirrels, airplanes, ambulances.  Love robust trees. love waldo XOXO

P.S. I am beautiful and fuzzy but I am not a bear.  I am sure you bears are jealous! Love Waldo.  aka Waldorfson

Puppy love…

Let me tell you about puppy love.  Her name is Lucy.  Bet you thought I was going to talk about young love.  Although crushes and the youth dating scene is quite intriguing, I am going to tell you about my puppy love. 

I have two puppy loves.  Waldo, my first puppy is now 4 and Lucy is 3 years old.  Both are shi-poos.  We call them “puppy” all the time because they are small.  Well, actually, Waldo is over 20 lbs, but little Lucy is a meer 10 lbs.  My story shall continue with puppy love Lucy and all the excitement in her life to date.

We got her at 7 weeks when she was just a wee, bitty furball.  Her little, hairy body was white and her head was covered in black hair.  Very funny because whenever she sat down, she looked like a defective snowman.  From the first visit to the veterinarian, we heard that her one leg was clicking and we could operate later to have it fixed.  (Well, she runs like the wind now and our theory is, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.)  After 3 months of having Lucy at home, I noticed one day that her eyes were watering.  Hmmmm, that was odd.  I monitored it and by the next day it got worse.  We decided it was time to visit the vet and see what was going on.  Well, our usual vet was on vacation so we booked an appointment with one of the other doctor’s.  He provided me with some eye cream for her and home we went. 

So, I put this cream in her eyes, poor wee puppy.  I did this for 3 days and it didn’t seem to be getting better.  Not better at all.  We went back to the clinic and our regular doctor was there.  I told her about how I was taking a picture of Lucy running at me and I noticed that her lips were swollen and her eyes seemed like they were bugging out.  The vet handed me a few sheets of paper and said, “She has strangles.”  What the heck is strangles?  Well, she explained that strangles is a rare disease that some puppies get.  Basically the immune system goes into overdrive and if not treated, will actually lead to strangulation of the animal.  We collected our new set of pills and took puffy, puppy Lucy home again. 

Now, with Waldo, I took him to puppy training classes so he could learn to play and become a good dog.  Poor Lucy.  She was quarantined.  Her meds were so strong because basically they were killing her immune system so that her immune system wouldn’t kill her.  We were told NO being around other animals.  NO walks because she could pick up infections from the grass where other animals had been.  Poor Lucy.  So, I packed up my little 3 lb puppy and tucked her into a soft padded square lunch tote and carried her around outside so that she could see the world and hear its sounds so that she would get accustomed to them.

Three months passed and therapy was over.  YAY!  Now we could go for walks and do other fun things.  Lucy was not a good walker.  She could walk but would zig and zag between my legs and get wrapped up in Waldo’s leash.  And she barked…endless barking and barking and barking and barking at anything that passed her.  I think she has supersonic hearing.  She will start barking at nothing and then 2 minutes later we will see a bus drive by.  Well, I guess with all her other ailments something must work well.  Oh, did I mention that the reason why her eyes were always watering.  We heard from the vet that her bottom eyelashes are turned inward instead of outward so her tear ducts are constantly working.  Uh huh.  That’s the Life of Lucy.

Well, our little puppy love survived all those ailments.  She loves to play fetch.  She loves to jump around and have fun.  She loves to cuddle.  Monkey Breath calls her “old man” cause her face does look like that of an old man.  We like to call her Fang too because her underbite (yup, she has that too) leaves her one canine tooth jutting out.  Quite funny to see.

Right now, little Lucy is in surgery.  Yes it’s true.  I found her little butt swollen yesterday.  How it happened I have no idea.  Back to the vet.  This part is quite icky gross so I’ll let you read it if you would like the details.  Swollen anal gland.  Her’s ruptured.  ‘Nuff said.  So, now she is having surgery.

I am sure that in the future there will be more visits to the vets for Lucy.  Call it intuition or déjà vu.  There is one thing that amazes me about this furry little 10 lb wonder.  No matter what kinds of ailments life throws at her she always bounces back.  She runs and plays and enjoys life.  I know that animals can’t complain, but I don’t see her cowering in a corner and giving up on life.  Most of us have been through tough times in our lives where we just want out of the world and curl up into a ball and feel sorry for ourselves.  My puppy love is always loving and cuddly no matter how she feels.  When she barks she is invincible.  Every moment is enjoyed.  Even while sleeping, you will oftentimes find her on her back with her belly in the air.  Now that’s comfort.

Five years ago I would’ve thought anyone crazy to have such strong feelings about their pets.  Now I’m part of the crazy club of dog owners and loving my puppy love.