All of the updates you didn’t ask for

I did not mean to leave things on such a down note, last time, but you know how it goes. Life has a way of barreling forward whether you’re ready for it or not.

So now it’s—*checking calendar*—nearly December, and there is so very much news to share!

That’s a lie. I mean, very little of it is actual news, but I will share it anyway, because ye olde blog here is now old enough to vote, so why stop now? As Otto says, I always have many words, and it’s simply for his safety that I spew some of them somewhere other than directly at him. (True story: last night when he arrived home from work I began talking AT him so earnestly, the very moment he walked in the door, that when I finally paused for air he said, “I’m going to go take my shoes off, okay?” in that hesitant, overly-careful manner one might say “I’m going to put my gun down, alright?” to a distraught person standing on a high ledge. This may have been my first clue that I was overdue for posting.)

Also this morning Goose’s vet’s office texted me that her fecal exam showed “no intestinal parasites or ova detected” and what kind of monster would I be if I kept that sort of riveting information to myself?? You understand. (Also: isn’t technology amazing? I mean, just a few years ago I would’ve had to listen to an actual human speak those words over the phone. Now they text. MAGIC.)

The Aftermath Report

My mental health is still holding at acceptable levels of just-a-little-crazy, and my father seems to be doing well. We are headed out to Arizona later this week to visit for the first time since my stepmom died, so that’s going to be weird, but it will be whatever it is. We will also be there over Otto’s birthday, so my sister-in-law and I have been scheming on the appropriate cake to make and such. I’m excited to bake something at their place, because their kitchen is roughly the size of our entire house (okay, not QUITE, but still), and when I sent my sis-in-law the target recipe along with an offer to bring/purchase ingredients, she came back and reported that she had everything on hand. For a kitchen-sink-esque gluten-free carrot cake recipe that has about 25 different ingredients. Honestly I am thinking of just moving in, which I figure won’t be a problem, because they have two teenagers and I am obviously delightful in comparison. (Actually, not true; their teenagers are also delightful. But you know: teenagers.) (Related: It feels like just last year that we met tiny Banana and Gerber, but that was, in fact, a dozen years ago, and now Banana has a driver’s license and dear lord, I am old.)

The Barkley Report
When last we left off, Barkley The Very Anxious Puppy (this Little Golden Book did not sell well) had just started on Prozac. He had an adoption meet-n-greet that went as well as I think it could’ve gone… and as a rescue organization we try very hard to be honest about any given dog’s particular quirks… but this potential adopter was clearly not prepared for the reality of Anxious Barkley. “We’ll think about it” quickly became “we’ll pass.” Honestly, I was not upset. I mean, I want every dog to have the loving home they deserve, and it was clear that this was not a love match. So Barkley continued barking his fool head off here for a while longer, and then two things happened:

1) The heavens opened, the angels sang: the Prozac started to work. And Barkley The Very Anxious Puppy became Barkley The Only Mildly Anxious Puppy, which was absolutely incredible to watch. This poor dog who’s had a rough start to life and has basically no ability to balance himself went from sorta-sweet but very reactive to absolutely adorable gooberface in the space of just a few weeks. He will never be a laid-back dog but he is SO much happier now, and his true personality—lovebug clown with a hefty side helping of HI PAY ATTENTION TO ME I AM FABULOUS—is shining through.

AAAAAAAAND

2) Barkley’s mom found his listing. Their meet-n-greet was totally different from the first one, with his new mom being absolutely patient and understanding of his anxiety. It was clear to me almost immediately that this was where he was meant to land. Due to some changing personal circumstances, his new mom is technically fostering him for a while, right now, but I can assure you that he is home. He has two new canine sisters (who are much nicer to him than Goose ever was) and a host of feline siblings and a mama who doesn’t threaten to yeet him over the fence when he won’t stop barking. She dresses him in jaunty sweaters (and he lets her!) and he is being spoiled rotten.

And the icing on the cake is that I am designated dog-sitter, so I still get to see him and how happy he is. He was here for Thanksgiving and was SO happy to see me, when they got here, that his mom was actually taken aback and said “I wonder if he’ll remember me when I get back.” I assured her she would get the same enthusiastic greeting upon her return, and she did, and everyone is happy. Yay, Barkley!

The New Foster Report

I was SO looking forward to showing you my new foster pup, but then it turned out that she has an entire drama attached to her, and there was some question of whether we could even publicly list her, and it’s kind of been a whole mess. So no pictures, but I’ll tell you a little about her.

First of all, I’m not going to tell you about the drama, other than to say that every state has a mandatory holding period for pets who are picked up as strays, and once that time is up (and due diligence to contact any owners is done), the animal becomes the legal property of the shelter. If, just hypothetically (ALLEGEDLY), an animal who was microchipped came in to the shelter and the owner was contacted multiple times but then failed to retrieve the animal during the stray hold, perhaps even arguing with and verbally abusing the shelter staff (who are… taking care of this animal), it’s possible said animal would be transferred to our rescue but we would still consider allowing said prior owner to reclaim or adopt depending on the circumstances. However, if said animal was in terrible condition, obviously neglected, and also was considered a “frequent flier” at the shelter, maybe even having been there just the previous week, we might, hypothetically, be reluctant to consider that as an option. Furthermore, if said prior owner then took to social media to claim that said dog was “stolen” and threatening legal action against the shelter, the rescue, and “whoever illegally has my dog” (hi, I did not sign up for stalking, I just wanted to love this poor dog), we might (ALLEGEDLY) want to be very careful about how said case is handled.

Ahem.

Second, this particular dog is very old, very tiny, mostly blind and deaf, and absolutely the sassiest foster I’ve ever had. She is RIDONKULOUS. I love her. I also spend a lot of time carrying her around in a sling, because she wants to be held and I want to be able to use my arms/hands for other things, sometimes. So basically I have an infant, even though she’s about 200 years old in dog years.

Know who doesn’t love her? Goose. Goose hates her with the fire of a thousand suns. Why? I don’t know. Goose has gone after her twice and she has gone after Goose once (Goose is literally over twice her size, so she is fearless, or possibly just very dumb), and as both cranky little bitches have about 12 teeth between them, no one was hurt, but it’s still quite alarming. So although I am mostly enjoying this new houseguest, I am ready for her to find her new home, so that Goose will calm the eff down.

Sometimes the planets align; Tiny New Foster has been here for a few weeks, and will head to her new home just ahead of our trip. Yay!

The Thanksgiving Report

Chickadee and Sunny were slated to fly in on Wednesday night, and everything was going according to plan. UNTIL: they arrived home from a half day of work to gather their things and head to the airport, whereupon they discovered that their cats had gotten into a bag of beef jerky.

Did you know that sodium is toxic to cats? I didn’t! Until Wednesday!

I think I talked to Chickie 10 times on Wednesday, with at least half of those calls involving her crying so hard I could barely make out what she was saying. But do not worry; this is a funny story, because everyone is fine. Instead of flying in on Wednesday, the girls spent some quality time at the emergency vet hospital and sold a couple of kidneys, and the cats are no worse for wear. Even better, they were able to fly in first thing on Thursday, so we still got to have Thanksgiving together. There were a couple of “But that’s not as expensive as beef jerky! … too soon?” moments, which—to their credit—the girls graciously tolerated.

The REAL tragedy here is that after 15 years of wedded bliss and hosting faculty orphan Thanksgivings, Otto and I have a airtight system of getting dinner on the table for a houseful of guests, and the Thursday morning flight meant Otto was trekking to Atlanta and back when he is normally handling some of the cooking. I did my best—one dog in a sling, two other very hopeful dogs underfoot—and we got everything on the table, but I made a couple of critical errors.

Otto normally handles the mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving. With him not here, I peeled potatoes until my eyes crossed, set them to boiling, and went ahead and heated up the butter/cream mixture I’d be using. I can make mashed potatoes in my sleep, so I totally knew what I was doing. (Um, I thought, anyway.) TURNS OUT my dumb ass bought a 3-pound bag of potatoes instead of a 5-pound bag, but went ahead and fixed the correct ratio of additives for the 5-pound bag. Had I actually PAUSED and LOOKED when it came time to whip the potatoes, I might have averted the Great Potato Crisis of 2022, but alas. I did not. I dumped the entire container in, and instead of mashed potatoes, we had… thick potato soup. I did my best to salvage the mixture, but I fear I was unsuccessful. But at least Chickadee opined loudly and at length about how these were the worst mashed potatoes she’d ever had in her entire life. At the dinner table. In front of all our guests. And she wasn’t trying to be mean, you understand, she was just explaining (IN GREAT DETAIL) why they were Wrong and also Bad.

(Hi, honey! Love you!!)

Something was also different about the turkey, which Otto brined and then prepped for me ahead of time, so I have no idea what the issue was there, but it meant the gravy wasn’t quite right, either. Siiiiiiigh.

It was fine. We had plenty of food, even if you only counted the dishes I didn’t screw up, and I’d made the pies the previous day and they were beautiful AND delicious AAAAND gluten-free, so I like to think that made up for the rest.

The Goosefeathers Report

You may recall that Goose came to us with terrible skin issues which we have mostly resolved over the past year, thanks to medicated baths and topical ointments and specialized diet and supplements and what I can only assume is a lovely vacation home the vet was able to purchase with our support. Over the last few months she’s gotten back into a bad itchy cycle—not nearly as bad as when she came to us, you understand, but still troublesome—and we’ve been trying to sort out how to keep her comfortable.

Her main issues are her feet and… uh… her nethers. Lots of licking/redness/etc., and she has clearly been in distress. Back in May I’d taken her in to the vet to discuss, and one of the things the vet ended up doing was expressing her anal glands, which was… traumatic. Note that this is not hyperbole; Goose had to be both muzzled and restrained, and screamed like an actual banshee during the procedure, while I alternated between nervous laughter and muffled crying. Her glands were impacted and it was quite the ordeal. I won’t share further details because I promise you do not want them. ANYHOODLE. She was a little better after that, but then this week she was scheduled for her yearly visit and I brought up the skin stuff again, as she’s still licking, licking, licking, and her hindquarters/private bits persist in looking Very Angry.

The vet had apparently just done a Continuing Education segment on canine allergies, and so she had a LOT to tell me about it all, something about this med in combination with this mousse (she’ll be so stylish! I thought, before realizing it’s just a foam topical, for some reason), plus that anal gland issues can be caused by allergies. “Oh, you just did her glands a few months ago so she’s probably fine, right?” I said.

Wroooooong. So it was The Great Anal Gland Massacre, Part II: The Continued Indignity, and once again Goose screamed in a decidedly un-canine way, so much so that another tech came and knocked on the door to the exam room to make sure everything was okay. And then I was informed that until the situation is “resolved,” I should plan to bring her in for this torture once a month.

To add insult to injury, she also had to get a bunch of shots, and then I gathered up the new shampoo, fancy mousse, allergy meds, and went up front to give them all my money before we headed out. I attempted to make it up to Goose by taking her along when I returned the girls to the airport, and buying her some French fries on the way home. Car fries fix everything, right?

Addendum: They make supplements for dogs which are formulated to help them empty their anal glands on their own. That’s not nearly gross enough, so upon perusing Amazon I discovered that every single one of them is named something like “Boot the Scoot” and “Scoot Stopper” and “Super Pooper.” I feel like if I have to know this, you do, too.

The Homeowner Report

I mentioned last time that we were faced with replacing our deck AND our fence AND “we should paint in here, sometime” became “holy crap half the wall fell down, I guess we need to get this fixed” in the family room.

We are still waiting for the fence people. The current fence is still, uh, a fence (just kinda ugly and somewhat rotted), so this is not a big deal. There are no dog-sized holes, or anything, so whatever.

The deck crew showed up and worked at lightning speed, but then it started raining and for what seemed like several weeks but was probably only a few days, we had a framework but no deck boards. This meant opening the back door was sort of like staring into the abyss, and a couple of very confused dogs who normally run out to do their business had to be picked up, walked allllllll the way around to the fenced dog run, closed inside said run so that they wouldn’t spring back up the deck stairs and fall to their untimely deaths, and then carried back inside, after. (I think it goes without saying that that’s ESPECIALLY fun in the rain!) Eventually it stopped raining and the deck was finished, and now Otto and I often walk outside with the dogs before bed and whisper sweet nothings to one another such as “Wow, it feels so sturdy now” and “Can you believe how nice this looks?” We really know how to keep the magic alive.

The painting crew showed up and sanded the absolute CRAP out of the family room walls as they repaired every nick and hole and imperfection. The good news is that the walls have never looked so good (when we moved in, I painted, but I looked at all the uneven bits and said “Eh!” and neglected to sand). The bad news is that they forgot to seal off the room with plastic before they did so, and in addition to looking forward to the mesothelioma I can only assume we’ll all be developing, the entire first floor was coated with a thick layer of grit that took hours and hours and weeks to completely clean. But if you’re willing to overlook that annoyance, they were worth every penny. The room is now fresh and gorgeous and my children are relieved that we finally took down the wall of their baby pictures.

The rest of the house is still old and dated, but the room we spend the most time in is now super pretty, so I’m calling it a win.

The Conclusion Report

Life is hard and long and short and alarming and ridiculous and wonderful and it’s never what I expect and often not what I think I want, but still pretty good. I hope the same for you. (Maybe minus the anal gland thing, though.)

Wipeout

As I am wont to do, I started noodling over the inevitable blog post several weeks ago. Where to start, how to do it? I couldn’t quite hit the ignition, and so it simmered in the back of my brain along with the rest of… everything… like how I should probably go get an oil change in my car and Chickadee asked me to look for something in her room and how I ordered groceries and asked for one of the pork shoulders that was on sale, “average weight: 4 lbs,” and I thought “Hmm, that’s a lot, but it’s so cheap, and I can freeze leftovers” and then they picked me one that was almost 9 pounds and it’s taking up so much room in the freezer, I really should, y’know, cook it up sometime soon.

And then, a couple of hours ago, while I was trying to do several different things at once, the phone rang. I ran to grab it and managed to trip and go sprawling so hard that I not only screamed and probably scared the absolute crap out of Monkey (who’d been upstairs doing homework but fairly flew down to see what happened), but I also managed to give myself so many lumps and bumps I eventually (after confirming that nothing was broken) settled onto the couch with a smattering of ice packs and a desire to never move again.

That seemed like a sign, I guess. So here I am. I guess it’s time, even if it took me nearly braining myself in the middle of the day for it to happen. read more…

So now it can be told (sort of)

In addition to just being largely absent here, I have been sort of talking around the elephant in the room. Really, elephant isn’t big enough. Or scary enough, either. The dragon in the room? Let’s go with that. I have been talking around a fire-breathing dragon in the room while hoping it wouldn’t, you know, set anyone on fire.

First of all: Everyone is fine. More or less. Do not fret!

Second of all: I’m still going to talk about this mostly in generalities, because the specifics aren’t mine to share. Perhaps you will wonder about the details. That’s your prerogative.

Third of all: It has been about a year of trying to figure out The Best Solution™ to a sucky situation, and it has occupied a lot of time and energy, and as these things tend to do, it has also taught me a lot about the coping methods (or lack thereof) employed by various loved ones in my life and myself. Fascinating, on an intellectual level. Maddening, sometimes, on a personal level. But that’s how it is.

Fourth of all: I moved my parents across the country and all I got was a busted foot. But I’m getting ahead of myself. read more…

You still need groceries in a dystopian hellscape

Well, then. We’ve come to the portion of the program where I turn on the news, listen for a few minutes, and turn it off again in a fit of rage and despair. Fun! I am so tired of old white men making all the rules. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love and adore quite a few old white men, individually, but as a collective, I’m still waiting for anything good to come out of their scheming. I will not be holding my breath.

In the meantime, the banalities of life continue, and I am trying to do my best impression of a Functional Adult Who Still Cares. This is a testament to my acting skills, as my level of functioning is questionable at best, plus I’ve been dead on the inside for a very long time, but… eh. We all have our issues. Mine is that I’m a delicate flower and I hate everything, but what are you gonna do? I still have to pretend like I’m a willing member of the human race, or something. I guess.

So let us consider the Life Matters Of Which We Can Speak™—that is, nothing of true importance or which overlaps with other people who did not agree to ye olde Internet confessional—which are, ever so precariously, keeping me busy/somewhat sane/from hurling myself into traffic these days, shall we? Yes? Yes! read more…

More dog content? If you insist!

It’s been… oh, nearly a couple of months. I would love to tell you that I was extremely busy living life to the fullest during this time, but that would be a lie. Mostly I was busy 1) being cold (yes, Georgia winters are short, but I am a delicate flower and our brief very cold portions of the year always kind of sneak up on me), 2) baking things, because why not, 3) cutting my own hair (this started during the pandemic and as I am nothing if not lazy, I am slooooowly perfecting my technique, which mostly consists of a lot of swearing and getting hair all over my bathroom), and 4) dealing with small, opinionated dogs.

The only interesting thing on that list is the dogs, right? Right!

When we last spoke (er, when I last spoke? wrote? whatever), Grok had been with us for a few weeks and had become Goose’s new favorite chew toy. Despite his startling similarity to a disgruntled preying mantis and penchant for peeing on his own legs, Grok was a Very Good Boi, and after his neuter he was listed for adoption. I thought this was very exciting, but Otto thought this was very sad, as he was convinced that Goose needed to keep him. I remained the voice of reason—that reason being, “We cannot keep a dog just because our dog likes him”—and was thrilled when I got the message that Grok had an approved adopter who wanted to meet him. read more…

Shih Tzu Nation

Good news: I’m back again, in under a month! With the words, and stuff!

Bad news: Nothing interesting ever happens here except as it pertains to the dogs. If you aren’t interested in dogs, first of all, what is wrong with you, and second, this is not going to be very interesting.

When we last left off, everything was broken and/or deeply annoyed. Goose was in a cone and battling her mortal enemy, thrice-daily eye drops, and our house was presumably about to burst into flames due to faulty wiring, which would’ve been sad but also most of our electronics were already fried so, eh. We are now rewired and less dangerous, and Goose is fully recovered from surgery, footloose and cone-free.

And while it’s true that we are still operating our garage door via a spare clicker my husband has literally hung on a nail in the wall with a zip-tie (klassy!), most of the broken things have been repaired or replaced.

Which of course meant it was time for more Dog Shenanigans™. read more…

Broken, precarious, neurotic, and/or furious

Look at me—it hasn’t even been a whole month, and here I am again. Writing! Like some sort of… writer! Who does things with words on a regular basis!

That’s weird.

Anyhoodle, here we are, having survived the holidays and *gestures vaguely* everything else, so that’s good, right? I would love to tell you a fun story about how Goose has settled in to being officially ours by being even more ridiculous than usual, but basically she’s just peak ridiculous all the time, so there’s not much to tell there. I do hope to have a fun tale when the weather warms up, though, as her current favorite thing to do when I take the dogs out is to run across the pool cover and while I try to convince her not to. Otto thinks she may just charge full bore right into the water when we open the pool this summer, but I think she’ll just be miffed that her favorite pseudo-trampoline has vanished. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

In the meantime, I do love to use my language facility to complain a lot, so that’s what I’ll be doing today. Because: complaints! I have ’em! Although at this particular time I believe I am more than justified, though in the spirit of full disclosure I ALWAYS feel justified, so that’s not saying much. read more…

Christmastime, gone to the dogs

A few weeks after we received Goose, and about a week after we said goodbye to Licorice, my phone started lighting up with messages from the rescue. Possibility of a owner surrender, yorkie/dachshund mix, 10 years old; could I take her? Otto has always said we have a two-dog maximum. Well. I had just one dog, now, and even I was growing tired of my moping around and spending all my spare time crying (side note: my parents were very much of the “shield young children from death” variety, and while I’m not blaming them for the profound grief I found myself mired in after Licorice died, allow me to suggest to any parents with younger children that death is indeed a part of life and trying to keep your children from realizing that may bite them in the butt later on), so I said yes, sure, let’s get her.

It was a group effort; one volunteer worked out the surrender paperwork, another went and fetched the dog, and then I went to her house to do pick-up. It was a sad story: Rosie had belonged to a single, older owner for most of her life; when the owner died, her adult child claimed her, but couldn’t keep her. The dog I picked up seemed friendly enough. I now have a “doggie carseat” type contraption in the back of my car (because of course I do) complete with a seatbelt that attaches to a dog’s harness. I loaded Rosie in, buckled the seatbelt, and away we went.

About 30 seconds after I started driving, I noted that Rosie managed to flip herself out of the doggie containment and was now seated next to it, in the middle of the backseat. Hmmm. Well, okay. And then we were just a couple miles from home when Rosie jumped into the front seat. I did NOT drive into a ditch when that happened, so YAY ME. She had somehow slipped the harness—the one provided by the rescue as escape-proof, mind you—and it remained securely buckled while she made herself comfortable right next to me. Huh. read more…

The very goodest girl ever

In retrospect, it’s easy to see meaning in things where maybe there wasn’t any, but that’s the way we silly humans are, I guess. We need stories about our lives to make sense. We struggle to understand our experiences as cohesive narratives that follow some sort of reason. I know this. It does not stop me from doing it.

And so I know it both to be true and probably not when I tell you that after the first couple of days with Goose here, Licorice—the dog who took several YEARS to warm up to Duncan, and who generally practiced disdain for all other four-legged creatures—took to lying down next to her, patiently waiting for her food while I attended to Goose’s, and generally acting like Goose was her new best friend. Goose literally climbed all over her and Licorice was unbothered.

The story that feels true to me is that Licorice knew. She knew she was dying, and she knew I needed another dog in the house, even if it’s not a dog we’re keeping. She knew Goose would be a comfort to us, and that she wasn’t leaving us alone. read more…

*insert indignant bird noises here*

Licorice lasted about 2 weeks on her new glaucoma regimen before she started squinting again, and back to the vet ho$pital we went. They put her on a third eye drop, and so far, so good. So she now gets three different eye drops three times a day, but also they have to be given at least 5 minutes apart, so each dosing period is referred to as the Parade of Eye Squirts, but we’ve all acclimated. She doesn’t mind at all. (“That’s because she never sees it coming,” explained Monkey with an arched eyebrow, proving that his comedic delivery remains unrivaled.)

Chickadee and Sunny are coming home for Thanksgiving, and as we navigated Licorice’s medical issues and weirdnesses, Chickie kept reminding me that she couldn’t wait to come see her dog again. (Never mind her human family, natch.) There was a brief period of time when I worried Licorice might be in a downward spiral and perhaps would not make it to the holidays, but things are much better now. Phew.

Naturally, in the middle of this canine drama—while still insisting that I was absolutely not ready for another dog—I started looking at various rescue dog listings and just THINKING, you understand, about someday-far-in-the-future Next Dog. I did find a Very Good And Handsome Boi about 5 hours away who tugged at my heart strings, and Otto even offered to drive us out to get him, but I knew it wasn’t time, yet.

Finally, I contacted the coordinator at the rescue where we got Licorice a dozen years ago. “I’m ready to start fostering,” I told her. “But don’t get too excited because I don’t know how useful I’m going to be.” read more…

Things I Might Once Have Said

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