Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Extra Sunshine

I just want to add the person we just encountered on a walk tonight as a bit of extra sunshine (sorely needed this time of year) today! Suddenly someone turned up behind us from an adjoining road in the dark, and as I tried to hurry along Monster needed to stop and contemplate nature for a while. The man and dog were closing in on us while I was frantically struggling to open a bag (why are they so impossible to find a way into - it's easier to break them than open them from the top!) and keep an eye on where Monster was crouching in the dark, not daring to call out to them to ask if they could please just wait a moment - since I know that's exactly what sends Monster (literally) barking mad at a nasty surprise in the dark. He hadn't yet spotted them approaching (well, he was busy after all) and I had a slight hope (vanishing quickly in my struggles with the resisting plastic bag) that we could still get away quickly enough. But whoever it was stopped at a distance and waited for us to finish! That's a kindness I've learned to not expect from most people, and certainly not unprompted! I was so happy and relieved (as was Monster, hehehe I'm soooo funny!), and called out a thank you as we managed to finish and started walking again. So nice! Whoever you were, thank you!

Wait... You mean someone was watching me!?

And Monster spotted them while I was searching through the dark (Must. Bring. Flashlight!) but stayed (relatively) calm! He didn't hesitate to turn his back on them and walk away, and while he did want to keep glancing behind us to check they weren't creeping up for a sneak attack he could also focus quite well on some impromptu obedience training instead. Great little five minutes in our day!

Today's Sunshine

Monster had a great time with The Kid yesterday! I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but The Kid and I have come up with Baking Tuesdays where I pick him up right after school and we spend the rest of the day and the evening baking something fun - anything from tiny cake pops to three tiered, heavily decorated cakes (obviously with some preparation ahead of time from me, since there's only so much you can do in one afternoon-evening). We've been doing it most of the fall semester and I thought back through the months today, and you wouldn't believe the difference there is in Monster from the start til yesterday! In the beginning it took lots of preparation, setting things up so not only he'd be fairly tired and content, but also so there were ways to manage him if (no, honestly, when) he became too rowdy, treats, games, training, etc. He loooooooves The Kid, but has problems handling it (same as all other emotions really), he'll jump and climb, demand attention, fetch 3000 toys, whine, paw, beg, and so on and so on. As we were busy doing things that interested us but bored him (he's not even allowed to taste what we bake after all) he'd build frustration all the way through and we really had to find ways to work around his behavior (The Kid - who is a wonderful person all around of course - is absolutely great with Monster, so patient (which is not a strong suit in general) and actually finds it fun and interesting to take some breaks and spend time with the crazy dog instead of finishing the cake!). But yesterday: nothing. Monster didn't jump once, didn't push or climb, didn't b- no that's not true, The Kid had a shrimp & egg sandwich so there was definitely some begging... And when we set up to start baking Monster watched for a while and then wandered off to another room to sleep! So relaxed! Sure we took some time outs to be with Monster anyway, but the difference is we could choose when and do it just because we wanted to, not because we had to if we wanted to be able to do anything else. The Kid even spent half an hour crawling around on the floor, wrestling and playing tug and being very physical with Monster, and Monster stayed controllable all the way through! While he certainly doesn't want to hurt The Kid he can get far too excited - very, very quickly - and become... less than gentle, let's say. Normally this kind of play is limited to a minute or two, and not too often either - I can play quite violently with him to push his boundaries and try to get him to learn to "land himself" (rather than having to be talked down by the control tower like in a bad 80s movie), but The Kid naturally needs to be a bit more protected. But like I said, yesterday there was no problem! And looking back, this is not an isolated incident where maybe Monster was having an extremely good day or perhaps was even sick or tired: this has been building up over the weeks and months in a very clear trend! Monster has been getting calmer and gaining better self control.

What!? What!? I can't hear you - wanna play!?

In no way is he a calm and self controlled dog. But he is calmer and he has better control. I really like little realizations like this when you can see such a clear pattern. Way to go Monster!

Today's Cloud

Monster's face seems to be healing up nicely, the scratches on and in his nose, along his cheeks and in his ears are all dry and don't seem to be troubling him much. The ones inside his mouth are barely visible anymore apart from one, but I think that's because it was deeper and takes longer to heal rather than because there's any problem with it. He does have some irritation in one eye still, it's not swollen but it's a bit runny and itchy. Since it's improving I'm not very worried about that either though, even if it's a bit slow. But. Yesterday Monster started limping... I can't find anything wrong with his leg - admittedly I'm absolutely awful at identifying the source of a limp, I think it's his right front leg but I've checked everywhere just in case - no warm areas, no swelling, no tender spots, no stiff joints, nothing. He's worse when he's been resting and softens up after he's been moving a while, so I suspect something muscular (or related soft tissue) rather than something skeletal, but that's as far as I get... I have no idea if this is related to the cat attack. Probably not, but the timing is weird. I haven't seen him do anything that could cause injury. Oh well, something new to worry about...

Who needs four legs anyway?! I hardly ever have more than one or two on the ground at any given moment anyway!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Today's Sunshine

First of all, Monster seems to be healing fine so far. I know it's way too early to rule out infection, but so far I'm cautiously optimistic at least. The scratches and punctures are all dry, and while they clearly itch he's not manic about it. We'll see where it's headed in the next few days...

In further good news we have the neighbor's dog over for a visit again today. Last time she was here was a bit stressful, because while she was out of the worst of her heat she still smelled veeeeeeery interesting according to Monster. I'm sorry, I can't remember if I've blogged about this...? Short recap: Tilly was visiting us regularly, sleeping over 3-4 nights/week, until about a month ago when she came for a three day/two night -stay and I discovered she'd gone into heat. Monster isn't hopeless around the ladies, but I don't really like covering his entire home with heat-scent since that gives him no place to relax. I told my neighbor he needed to make other arrangements for a while (she stayed the weekend of course, I mean after that) and we didn't meet Tilly for three weeks after that. Then she came again a week ago, and as I said already she still smelled of heat plus Monster hadn't met her for so long he was quite nervous of her again. That caused some stress for both dogs, and I had to control their space and freedom a bit to keep her visit as calm and pleasant as I could make it. Aaaaaaand, here I've managed to steer back to my original point again: much better now. It was probably still a bit early last time, but today Monster is used to her again plus she doesn't smell so much of heat (she's still interesting it seems, but he's much more relaxed about it).

Remember when the lawn looked like this instead of that miserable mud pit it is today?
We could run around and play then without sliding around like bumper cars...

So, back to normal! Well, sort of. Tilly's owner says she doesn't get noticeable false pregnancies after she's been in heat, but I don't know... She's tired and annoyed, doesn't want to play or even go for walks, and generally just wants to be left alone in some corner. To me she reads as if she's going into a strong false pregnancy (oh good lord! please, please let it be a false one! I didn't leave them alone together for a second once I realized she was in heat, and that was of course very early in the cycle, but when something can go wrong...), and I would like to know if I should consider that as normal or as a sign something is wrong. But I guess I should defer to her owner who knows her after all! I need to scale back on the control issues... If he says she's fine, and isn't experiencing a false pregnancy either, then so it is.

Anyway, going great! Monster's happy and relaxed, Tilly's... certainly relaxed at least, although I don't know about happy. Veeeeery relaxed maybe makes up for the lack of happy though?

Boooooo-riiiiiing! Let's go for a walk!

Oh god, I can hear the sleet as it beats against the windows....

Today's Cloud

This weather is driving me insane! Mud, ice, hail, and horizontal rain. Dark, wet, cold, slippery and blinding. I hate the so called winters down here. Going for walks is miserable and painful, and I have to admit I drag my feet a bit. Monster gets restless and demands to go out, but once out in the open where the wind starts to bite us and the hail and rain starts hitting us hard enough to bruise he freaks out and starts racing around tangling us both in the leash. So we cut the walk short, go home and fill up the clothes lines with more muddy and dripping wet clothes, shoes and towels... And five minutes later Monster looks up at me and says:

Boooooooored. Bored, bored, bored-bored-bored! Way past time to go for a walk!

What to do? There's only so much we can do at home, Monster needs to go out and move about a bit too - and I get a bit crazy from staring at the walls too. But the weather... There's only one thing for it. Move.

On occasion we do get one or two nice winter days here too though...

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Week In Review

You know what sucks? Let me give you a list:

  • Migraines. Migraines suck. You know what sucks worse than migraines? When a migraine goes away, gives you half a day's relief, and then starts over again. That sucks.
  • Miserable weather sucks. Yet another winter storm blows in, making it pretty much impossible to leave the yard for days - and for the worst of it impossible to even leave the house. Hurricane force winds with all kinds of debris make for a very nervous walk in open terrain! Not that it would be any more fun in a forest, admittedly...
  • Cats. Cats suck most of all. Especially that cat I just peeled off Monster's face. Monster found a cat on our lawn when we came home from a walk, and it apparently decided that it should claim our yard as its own since instead of running away it fluffed up and started growling. I didn't see it in time, so Monster ran over and stuck his nose in its face - not trying to bite it, he seemed to be more confused and curios than anything else - and the cat just latched on and clawed him bloody. There are deep claw marks all over his face, including inside his nose, one of his eyes, and inside his lips. A neighbor heard me screaming and came over to help. The cat wouldn't leave! He had to chase it out with a stick (he didn't dare try to touch it) while I held on to Monster. As far as he and I could tell the cat was perfectly fine (and I didn't see Monster hurt it in any way), but it's a neighbor's cat so I'm sure I'll hear if it's been harmed after all. I just find it hard to muster up much sympathy for it. Monster's lived here for three years, the cats know perfectly well that this is his place, why can't they just leave him alone!? And this was a different cat from the one we've been having problems with who hides nearby and jumps out and attacks us when we're walking past... Cats clearly suck. Right now Monster is pacing around the house licking everything in some sort of stress reaction. He's licking himself, me, the carpet, the walls, everything. And when he calms down he'll no doubt start to feel his wounds... I'm hoping it looks worse than it is, I've cleaned them as much as I can right now and will go through them more thoroughly once he's calmed down a bit - hopefully we can manage with home care, but cats' claws (thank god the little orange devil didn't bite him at least - that I saw) tend to leave nasty and easily infected wounds... And I'm worried about his eye. We'll see if we'll need to brave a visit to a vet...

A what!? No-no, I feel fine, promise!

(Another thing which sucks could be that I apparently write like a drunk child when I have a migraine, but let's just pretend that didn't happen OK?)