Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I am a very lucky woman.  For many reasons, really.  I have a wonderful, albeit quirky family.  We are a bit like The Osbournes, but less rich.  We are all healthy - even the furry girls.  I have a job that I truly enjoy - what could be better than helping new fuzzy kids everyday?  I am healthy.  I have good friends and people that love me.  I laugh more than I cry.  I am happy.  And, I have 5 consecutive days off all to myself!

What will I be doing, you ask?  Well, cooking is high on the list, as Thanksgiving is a couple of days away.  We're doing the big turkey festivus as T hasn't had a traditional Thanksgiving with us in many years.  It's predicted to be chilly here, in the 40's, so we'll probably have a fire going, too.  I'd like to clean.  Yes, this does actually bring me joy. Nothing like a clean house to feel organized and uncluttered.  Well, maybe not uncluttered, but clean.  I'd like to see the new Harry Potter movie, and do a little shopping.  Not too much shopping, though (see aforementioned "Osbournes but less rich").  I'm considering making home-brewed beer.  The new TV show "Brew Masters" featuring Dogfish Head Brewery has inspired me to brew some yummy beer.  I brewed some long ago, but it's been many moons since then.  I'd like to work on my short stories and maybe settle on one to see through for a completed novel. I want to play ball with Nyxie until she's exhausted, rather than when I have to rush off.  I want to rub Arwen's belly until she falls asleep.  I'd like to go to the gym and not have to stare at the clock so I can hurry to the next thing.  There never seems to be an end to the "things".

Most importantly, though - I want to spend time with my family.  I want to have a few days of no "things".  No appointments, no work, no clock-ins, no stress.  I want to be able to have a conversation with Matt and T and not have my mind wander to what needs to be completed, and by when.  These are my Thanksgiving wishes.  Do we wish on Thanksgiving?  Well, since it's my time to do what I please, I say we do.  I wish for family, plenty, and laughter.  And I wish this for you, too.  Much love to all my blogging buddies - I am thankful that you all choose to share your lives with me and my pack.  You are loved and thought of more than you know!  Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Monday, November 15, 2010


I have a dirty little secret to confess...I have dog envy.  Not envy for different dogs in my life, but envy for dogs that I could take anywhere and introduce to anyone.  Dogs that like, no, love other dogs and people.  Arwen likes people, and only dogs she can dominate, but it's always a gamble with her.  Nyxie...well, you all know how well Nyxie plays with others.  She is coming around to the fact that all people are not murdering thieves bent on our pack's demise, but rather a signal for treats and yummy goodness!  In her deep chocolate eyes, dogs, are still not to be trusted.  In fact, her rule of thumb is to bark as menacingly and ferociously as possible to dispel these canine interlopers.  How dare they exist in her universe!!

Needless to say, going to the dogpark is an adventure of epic proportions.  One might ask - why bother?  Well, we don't have a yard of our own and after having taken Nyxie the week before last with no incident and actually enjoying my dog as other people can enjoy their dogs, I was again addicted.  I loved taking her when she was a wee pup and I miss those times spent with her running about, off the leash.  So I decided to try it with both girls -to give them a bit of much-needed run time.

Getting the 2-headed beast out the door and into the car is the first leg of my perilous journey.  They scramble for 1st out.  Nyxie will then conform to me, walking loosely while Arwen hurdles forward.  It must be quite the sight...I shudder the think about a dog or an unsuspecting squirrel dashing into view just as I'm reaching the car.  The trip to the park is heralded by panting - hot, wet panting.  Nose prints on every inch of glass, save the windshield, mark me as "that crazy dog lady".

Thankfully, the park is nearby, only a few miles from home and we pull into the parking lot.  I was hoping the threatening rain clouds would keep the regulars away, but no such luck.  There are several people lounging about on the benches, casually watching small dogs in sweaters sniff about the yard closest to the parking lot.  Now I understand using the closest yard (there are four separate areas) - after all, the point of going to the dogpark is to allow your dog to play with other dogs.  This assumption based of course on the premise that your dog is a well-socialized member of canine society.  I only hoped for a yard.  A fenced area in which they could run freely.  But to get to one of the unused yards, I would have to pass the closest one.

We decided to wait in the car.  There, Nyxie was fed treats when she stopped menacing the other dogs through the window and was able to sit quietly, albeit nervously in her seat.  A first step to safe exposure conditioning.  When the heat of the panting and the fading sun's rays was too much for a parked car, I left the lot and drove a few miles, allowing the girls to calm down after seeing all the canine excitement.  They must've thought I was cruel for not letting them play..."But mom - we just got here!!"

Just as I had hoped, the skies began to open and big drops fell hard.  "Yes!  Now I can go to the dogpark!"  Undoubtedly not what most dog parents say when the rain starts, but with my 2 miscreants, I have to be super careful.  Just as I suspected, everyone was clearing out.  All but one lady with a rather large Shar Pei mix in a far away yard.  Maybe we shared a dirty little secret...

Texas cold fronts move in fast, like within a half hour fast.  We arrived to rain, but temps in the 70's.  The clouds were rushing in and even the hawks flying above seemed eager for cover, giving up hopes of fat little chihuahua meals.  We made it to the farthest yard, I unleashed the beasties and they ran like the wind.  All their pent up energy and mine dissipating with the rain and clouds.  Their ears flapping, tails flying, legs pumping.  Grace and beauty unleashed!  My misfit dogs ran and ran, sniffed and read the signposts left by others before them.  After a short time, the rain fell heavier and the winds picked up.  Cooler now, bringing with them the expected cold front.  The temperature was dipping into the 60's.  The girls panted in tired relief, energy spent, tackles and bitey face over, they settled under the awning by the water fountain.  They were done.  No need to stay longer.

"No worries, mom!  We'll be back soon - when's it supposed to rain next?"  My girls are a work in progress.  They are slowly tolerating more and more out of their comfort zones.  They are evolving and growing, as I am, too.  I don't have dog envy...I have yard envy!!    

Friday, November 5, 2010


I'm a person who trudges through chores and banalities and can only relax after all that needs to be done is done.  Generally I'll feel agitated until all these things are completed.  For example, each day when I come home, I immediately walk and feed everyone, pick up after everyone, put the trash out and make or have dinner (depending on how ambitious I'm feeling) and then finally relax into my own interests - TV, a movie, reading.

The other night, I was so overwhelmed with these responsibilities, add the daily task of caring for a high maintenance 13 year old, that I just lost it.  I crumpled into tears and pitiful helplessness - not a state I'm at all used to or remotely comfortable with.  In fact, admitting this to you all is a bit, well, embarrassing.  Matt, my loving partner of 10 years, reminded me of an important metaphor:

You're on a plane, when an emergency's declared.  The oxygen masks drop and are suspended above you.  Do you put a mask on your child or on yourself first?  If you get theirs on first, you might be overcome with smoke, and then the child is left to cope alone.  If you put yours on first, you are then readily prepared to help everyone around you!  So the lesson here is you have to help yourself first before you can be of use to another.

This realization gave birth to the notion of Utterly Indulgent Me Day!  I went to the store, took Arwen for a training walk, took Nyxie to the dog park (yup, I sure did), worked out, and made myself a yummy lunch.  It was a wonderful day!  I've been meaning to start loose-leash-walk training with Arwen, but just haven't felt   motivated enough.  It's been incredibly annoying, but I fought my frustrations, and I did it!  By about the middle of our walk, she understood what was asked of her - if she pulled, I halted all forward motion.  I'm sure she was wondering at first what was wrong with mom- was she hurt?  Clueless?  "Just smell that amazing tree and all the pee-mail scattered about!  I can a-l-m-o-s-t reach it..."  We'll have to keep training ongoing, but it was a great start.  The most important aspect of our walk was my mental state - calm and assertive.

I wanted to have fun with Nyxie and it suddenly occurred to me that we hadn't been to the new dog park in my city since it opened.  Not that this is shocking - Nyxie has rejected her own kind for years now.  This is something I'm working on with her, but it's taking time and the very patience I've lacked recently.  The park was clean, and divided into 4 separate fields.  When we arrived, Nyxie sniffed the air and even though she'd never been there, she began to whine excitedly.  She never barked at anyone or their dogs, and when we walked through the gates to the airlock, her whining intensified.  She remembered what a dog park is and what it signified - running, fun, and freedom!!  She dashed around, over and over running straight at me and veering right or left at the last possible second.  What a blast!  We ran together until we sank exhausted into the grass.

Who needs an oxygen mask when you have dogs to save you from yourself!