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Fudge, The People Whisperer!

Our daughter recently bought us a sign that said, “Grandparents, so easy to operate, even a child can do it.”  She is right.  Our grandson has up wrapped around his little fingers and can do no wrong in our book.  Unfortunately, we also need a sign that reads, “The people in this house are so easy to operate, even two dogs can do it.” 

 

We are having a couple of bathrooms renovated and having contractors in our house since the beginning of May has altered the way the dogs behave during the day and at night.  Fudge, my bravest dog, has decided the noises their tools make is something she just cannot live with unless she shadows me.  Fudge has never been a Velcro dog and having her underfoot causes me to blurt out things like, “I need my space!” on a regular basis.  I see people on all the HGTV renovation shows talking about sight lines and open concept floor plans and all I can think is, “they must not have two dogs who stand in your day most of the day!”  Both dogs seem to want to be closer to me since we started the renovations and I feel like I am spending a large part of my day at an obstacle course. The other day I told John I am one step away from having a nervous disorder and he said he felt like I took that step years ago. FYI: people who state to others that they are on edge aren’t very receptive to jokes made at their expense.

 

I don’t know why the dogs are more stressed because the people working in the house have been great, but we are very routine oriented around here and our routine has definitely been different.  It has carried over into our nighttime routine and here is where I think Karma has decided to step in and teach John a lesson or two.  Usually, the dogs follow me to the bedroom when I go back there to watch my TV shows. We split up around 8 pm and don’t come back together until John comes to bed. The last time Hayley visited she said something about the lack of conversation after 8 in our house and we both looked at her and said, “Dr. Phil, if we need help, we will call you.”

 

Well, all that has changed now, and Fudge and Vern seem to need more of John’s attention at night.  I will come out of the bedroom looking to see where my nighttime companions are only to find John holding Vern’s paw or sitting in his recliner with Fudge on his lap.  Neither dog is settling well and both of us really need them to settle after 8 pm. In addition, from the bedroom I can hear the front door opening and closing too many times and when I yell for an explanation, John will yell back that Fudge keeps insisting to go out.  This means Vern follows Fudge and usually barks, then I bark that Vern has to come back in, then John barks that he has about had it with the dogs, and well, this is way too much partying for us.

 

The thing I want to know is how does Fudge make John listen to her just by staring and a couple of nudges with her paw.  The other day I had to leave early for an appointment and left explicit instructions with John about what to do when the contractors arrived.  I knew he would be leaving for work after they got to our house, so I told him to be sure and remind them to shut all doors and gates and not let the dogs outside for any reason.  He knows I am phobic about the dogs barking too much when left to their own devices outside.  I just don’t want to open the door one morning to find a petition signed by all the neighbors hanging on our front door stating that they all want to vote Fudge and Vern off the island.

 

So, imagine my surprise, when I arrived home and I could hear the dogs barking from somewhere outside the house.  Somehow, despite my very detailed instructions, what John heard was lock the dogs up on the upper deck OUTSIDE and then leave for work.  Even the workmen sensed there was trouble when I stomped into the house and demanded to know who left the dogs outside unattended.  All three of them wasted no time in throwing John under the bus. It took me two days to get over that one and it probably took John three days to regain his hearing in both ears.

 

The funny thing is it took us both a bit to catch onto Fudge’s game, but based on some highly skilled detective work and/or the fact that she immediately falls asleep when John gets into bed, we now know she wants him settled, so she can go to sleep.  The first night that he came to bed early muttering, “She just keeps pawing me and I don’t know what she wants,” she pretty much answered that thought non-verbally when she followed right behind him and promptly fell asleep.  She slept like the dead that night as if she was completely worn out from trying to get her point across to John.  I know that feeling and marvel that a few pokes from Fudge did what I can’t do with very detailed instructions.

 

We now have a 50 pound dog dictating to us when we should go to bed and we are hoping that changes when the contractors leave and our life gets back to normal.  Otherwise, there will be far more talking after 8 pm than is good for our marriage.  Things like, “stop flipping channels…stop asking me what is going on…yes, I like this show and no, I don’t think it is for people without any sense.”  It’s just better the old way in our household and we hope Fudge is going to let John start staying up late again soon.

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Goodbye Lucy

We said goodbye to our Lucy yesterday.  She was 4.5 years old.  The house is so empty and quiet this morning.  No clicking of her paws to the floor, no whimper to go outside, no morning walk, no flipping of the dog bowl for breakfast.  But she is free of pain from her awful disease.  I am so heartbroken.

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I hope you can help! I have a puppy that is on its way to come Sunday, but was told the vet found small sore (ulcer,) on its lip. They think its from play with other puppies, and have given her a shot of antibiotic. I'm reading that things can be much more serious then they are leading me to believe. Is this fairly common or should I be worried?

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Pet Sitter vs. Vet Boarding

I have to travel for work, just moved to Tacoma WA and need to find a pet sitter.  There are several services available but I don't personally know anyone.  I prefer getting someone to stay in my home with my dogs or at least be with them several times a day, if not staying overnight.  Any suggestions in finding someone or if you think its safer to keep them at a vet that boards. 

Thanks for your thoughts!

Nancy

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Holly knows so many words...

Our six chickens live in their own little chicken yard st the corner of our property and the property of three neighbors.  The chicken yard has its own fence, so that there are actually two fences that any predator would have to cross before it could get in with the chickens.  There are low oak trees surrounding the chicken yard and we have two chicken coops, a canopy and a roofed over area to protect them from hawks.

Today they were making lots of noise.  Judy said, "Holly, what's happening with the chickens?"  Holly didn't hesitate. She ran down to the chicken area barking.  Nothing was happening except two hens had gotten into a spat.  But, Holly would have chased away any hawk or other predator. Obviously, she understood what Judy was telling her...

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Vern and the Contractors!

I love the show House Hunters on HGTV. It always amazes me when a young couple has a million dollar budget and million dollar demands. When we bought our first house, we walked in, took one look, and wrote a contract that day. I wasn’t worried about popcorn ceilings, en suites, or the color of the walls. Up until that point, we lived in a third floor apartment and I was tired of lugging two kids and laundry down to the basement to do a load of laundry in the community laundry room. All I wanted was my own washer and dryer. Years later when I had to go house hunting for Megan, she went on and on about finding the right home in the right school district and kept implying that she was sure dad and I were equally concerned when we went looking for our first house. I can still see the look of horror on her face when I finally said, “Megan, I never even asked about the school district. All I cared about was getting a washer and dryer! We were fine with you going to a one room school house that topped out at eighth grade, if I didn’t have to go to the bank for a roll of quarters every time I needed to do laundry.”

Our house hunting skills have not improved since those days and when we bought the home we are living in now, both of us walked in the day the contract was signed and said, “where is our other shower?” Turns out, we only had one bathroom with a shower and another bathroom with an enormous tub on the main floor. The bathroom with the shower we both swore was on the basement floor was missing and since we are sure we are not so stupid as to buy a house with only one shower, we can only assume we were robbed prior to moving in. Which leads us to today and the contractors we have hired to rectify the situation.

On a good day, Vern barks at people walking by our house, people thinking about walking by our house, or people in their homes maybe thinking about taking a walk soon. Vern is never off duty and takes his watchdog duties very seriously. He also seems to lack the ability to differentiate between people he has already met and people he has never met. It is like his short term memory is shot and every day is a new day for Vern. Every person is a stranger upon entering our home and has to be re-evaluated every time they walk through the door. One time, my uncle who stayed with us every Thanksgiving and had been in the house for days, came up from the downstairs in the middle of the night to get a bowl of cereal and Vern woke the entire household to alert us to the stranger in the house. In Vern’s defense, when John ran out to see what all the commotion was about, he said he was scared of my Uncle Bob too, because his hair was standing up in every direction and he was only wearing his boxers. Plus, he never uttered one word to Vern and seemed hell bent on getting that bowl of cereal. All I know is I was glad I had waterproof mattress protectors on every bed that night. We all took a vote the next day and voted that Uncle Bob stay in bed where he belonged at night or I was going to have to crate him in Vern’s old crate.

Well, the contractors have been in the house for one week now and Vern is still barking at them as they come in and out the door. I have explained to Vern it is the same three men he has seen for a week, but he still feels it is better to be safe than sorry. I couldn’t ask for a nicer group of men to be in the house and they all love dogs, but all Vern knows is they don’t belong here. Added to that is the fact that it hasn’t stopped raining in days and they walk in wearing hoodies and hats and Vern is exhausted at night trying to keep them all straight. One day, one of the workmen came in through the bathroom window to save time and later appeared in the living room seemingly out of nowhere. Thankfully, he assured me he would only do that during working hours, but it was almost comical to watch Vern process what just happened and offer up a bewildered bark or two. You could just see on his sweet face that this was getting to be too much for even his watchdog abilities. Meanwhile, Fudge sidles up to anyone who stops walking long enough and acts as if she has not known the loving touch of a human ever in her life. Between Vern’s barking and Fudge the love sponge, is it any wonder they have started shutting the door as they work in the bathroom? I did hear one of the guys saying, “good ol’ Vern,” as I was explaining to Vern one day that he really needed to pace his barking or I was going to lose my mind.

I keep telling myself that it will all be worth it when my bathrooms are done. It’s only been a week, but some days I have to remind myself of that more frequently than others. I am praying Vern starts remembering facial features soon or gets laryngitis. If I thought name tags would help him remember, I would insist the workmen wear them, but then again, maybe Vern needs glasses.

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Spring Time = Sloppy, wet weather

Well it's spring time here in Northern Ontario. To most people Spring time means warmer weather, fresh beginnings, sweet smell of fresh air. Well, to us it means rain, rain, wet snow, rain and more rain.  Most of our winter snow has melted, but we have just gotten a few inches of wet, sticky snow over night; it will melt by tomorrow as it is supposed to be fairly warm +13°C.  My issues with this weather is that Chloe will not go pee or poop in the backyard now that the snow is gone and the lawn feels "squishy".  When I let her out she will just stand at the back door and stare into the house. I can swear she is thinking that I am completely nuts if I think she is going to walk on that wet and soggy grass!  She will not go pee before bedtime, like she usually does. She will hold it until the morning, and even then at times will not go when I let her out when we get up. She will hold it until our walk.   I'll see if she does anything when I go home for lunch and let her out.  

April 25, 2017 -  Chloe has finally been starting to do her business in the yard again....still with some reluctance. We've had a few drier, warmer days which has helped the ground thaw and the water drain more. Happy to see her going pee when she's let out and not having her hold it until she bursts!!!

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Up at Night!!

My two-year-old grandson has just decided that he doesn’t want to go to bed.  I have watched him on and off since birth and the fact that he took a beautiful nap and went to bed without fussing always sealed the deal for me when they asked me to watch him.  It meant Grandma could get a break in the afternoon and watch some television at night.  Well, one week before I was to show up to watch him again, they informed me that he doesn’t want to take a nap and has been climbing out of his crib and coming downstairs.  And somehow it was all my fault because the last time I watched him, back in January, we would snuggle together every night and watch Tayo the Little Bus. Apparently, as he descends the stairs after climbing out of the crib he has been saying, “snuggle up time.”  First of all, in my defense, I babysit for free and watching Tayo the Little Bus is no picnic.  Every night that I was there I tried to persuade him to watch another show, but he would look me right in the eye and say, “Tayo,” and no amount of groaning on my part could persuade him differently.  A show about a bunch of buses that live in a bus depot was not exactly my cup of tea, but I sacrificed because I love my grandson and I knew one or two shows would put anyone to sleep.

 

I live with the equivalent of a two year old that fights sleep and his name is Vern.  Vern is our toddler, only he is now seven.  I don’t know if Vern has ever slept the entire night through and he is always the first one up if we try and take a nap.  At this point, I think if he ever slept all night, I would still wake up in the middle of the night to check that he was still alive and breathing.  I even save packing John’s lunch for the middle of the night when Vern wakes me up.  I hate that job so much and hope one day in my sleep deprived state I will “accidentally” pack an expired pack of yogurt, a rotten hard boiled egg, or a peanut butter and meat sandwich, and cause John to decide buying his lunch out would be a better option. So far, that has not happened, but one can hope.

 

Well, I made the mistake of complaining to my daughter about Vern when she complained about her son and was instantly told that our situations are nowhere near similar.  To me, lost sleep is lost sleep whether it is caused by a toddler or an oversized dog, but my daughter took great offense that I even tried to insinuate that I had it as bad as she did.  She has this weird competitive streak that she gets from her father and seemed to need to win this “who gets the most sleep” battle.  As far as I am concerned, having a dog smack you around in the middle of the night with his polar bear sized paw is far worse than having to snuggle up with my grandson.  I think next time I go I will “gift” my grandson with an oversized boxing glove and tell him to use it to wake mama up right before “snuggle up time” and see if she can at least admit I have a point.

 

Vern recently had to have a molar removed and came home from the vet groggy and sleepy and the anesthesia along with the pain medicines made him sleep all night.  I still woke up at 5:30 am because I was sure he hadn’t survived the night.  I felt the same way I did when I woke in the middle of the night to make sure my babies were still breathing when they started sleeping through the night.  Panic, like I forgot to do something extremely important, followed by massive relief when I felt their little chest move up and down. So, yep, there I was at 5:30 am, the person who prays nightly for their dog to sleep all night, waking Vern up to make sure he was still alive.  In my defense, I couldn't feel him breathing, he seemed cold and I forgot he is part polar bear, and he didn't respond when I finally called his name. I almost called out to John, but knew me screaming, "VERN IS STILL SLEEPING!" was probably not going to get the reaction I wanted.  It was only after I turned the light on and saw one eye twitch that I realized he was safe and made a mental note to ask my vet about the long term effects of anesthesia and pain meds if I want to continue to use them on Vern to get a good night’s sleep.  Something tells me she will say no, but it is worth a shot.

 

I recently returned from babysitting and was able to get Archer to bed earlier than his parents, but naps were definitely a hit or miss. I gave it my best shot and came equipped with plenty up my sleeve, but no amount of trickery or cajoling could make that kid sleep if he didn’t want to take a nap.  It is the same when Vern decides it is time to get up.  He doesn’t giggle or pop his pacifier at me, but he stares and pokes me with his nose or paw to let me know he is staying up.  In the end, I decided that lost sleep was lost sleep no matter who or what caused it.  I know Vern is always the first one up if we take a nap.  He is always the first one up in the morning, although after going out, he will go back to bed.  That is the only thing that differs from a toddler, although I still think the “awakened by a large paw swat” makes me the winner in the battle with my daughter for who has it worse.  Not that anyone is keeping score, but if they were, I would win. 

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Does your doodle sleep in the bathtub?

It's National Puppy Day, so this morning I took some pics of my beautiful, goofy 6 month old australian labradoodle, Atticus. Recently, Atticus has decided that sleeping in the bathtub is preferable to his Orvis bed, or even my bed; he has figured out how to turn the shower knob with his mouth so it drips just a bit, and I find him in the bathtub, sleeping on his back, feet in the air with his head positioned so that is mouth is directly under the "dripping faucet." I tried to get a picture of him sleeping this morning, however, he got up too quickly. I did manage to get some pics of him carrying his toy to the bathtub and lying on the bathroom floor, replete with his toys and his hair sticking straight up!  I live in a NYC apartment where bathrooms are notoriously small, therefore Atticus' rather imposing presence truly challenges access to basics such as the toilet, shower etc; in fact, most of the time getting to the toilet requires an acrobatic move, so as not to disturb my resting doodle.  Just wondering if anyone else's goofy doodle has an affinity for sleeping in the bathtub?3356636402?profile=original3356636401?profile=original3356636528?profile=original 

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Tucker

Yesterday we lost our beloved Tucker to Bladder Cancer.  It was the hardest decision we had to make to let him go.  We took our other dog, Molokia so that he can have closure as we needed to be with him when he took his last breath. 

We will remember the ten years we had with him as he brought so much joy to our home and had us laughing at the funny things he did.  Our dog Molokia is so lost and I hope that we can both heal in time

Denise

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Excuse me, but that's MY seat!

To say Finnegan is a Velcro doodle would be an understatement.  He is always at my feet or I am within his line of sight. Others, who aren't owned by a doodle, may find it a little strange that we go around the house as if there was an invisible tether between us but I’ve adjusted to the extra appendage.  It’s not that he’s timid or scared.  He's loyal to a fault and believes this is the natural order of things. And, once a doodle gets something in his head, it’s darn hard to change it.  You all know what I’m talking about.  That’s why it was so alarming when I discovered him missing on Sunday morning while staying at my Mom’s apartment. It was her 9oth birthday weekend and she had lots of company. I went to make coffee and looked down.  No Finney sitting at my feet. I called him to go for a walk. I set out his breakfast and called him.  Nothing.  I went back to check the bedroom.  No Doodle.  I headed to the bathroom.  That’s always a signal for Finn to come running and scoot in before I shut the door. Nope. WTD??!

 

So where was he?

 

When Finn and I visit Grams, we always sit in her family room.  She sits in her comfy lounge chair, and Finn and I relax on the couch.  We watch movies or the news (the second is always a bad idea with my mom, but I digress).  Finn knows the living room furniture is off limits to a doodle but Grams gave in long ago and made the grand gesture of letting him have the family room couch. The previous night, everyone ended up in the small family room watching March Madness.  When Finn trotted into the room with me, there was no room for him on the couch.  If a doodle can stare in disbelief, that would pretty much sum up his expression as his head moved from one end of the couch to the other. I think he was assessing his chances of jumping into someone, anyone’s, lap, completely blocking their vision, but he looked at me and I mouthed the word “flying doodle” which is the equivalent of “don’t’ even think about it”. Then he tried the “border collie” stare to send a strong message but everyone just laughed and no one moved. Finally he took up his spot on the floor, sighing ridiculously loudly every so often, just to remind us how unfairly he had been treated.  So I guess it was no surprise that when he woke up on Sunday morning he went directly to the empty family room, by himself, and claimed his seat on the couch WITH his favorite pillow in tow– apparently for the day.  And no way was he giving it up, even if his bladder burst. That, or he was really excited for the next round of March Madness.

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Goodbye Dear, Sweet Scooby!

Our beautiful, sweet Scooby died very suddenly on February 15th.  We are heartbroken and devastated.   Our house is so lonely. We would love to bring another doodle into our home as a companion to Bella.  If anyone knows of a doodle in the Pittsburgh area who needs rehomed, please let me know.  I know we will be able to give this dog the best home possible.   

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Good News and Bad News...

The good news is that all ten of this group of dogs we just rescued from the the Korean dog meat market arrived healthy and in good shape.  These are three of the five kennels we received...

The bad news is that we are fostering seven of these dogs and there is a leak in the propane pipe from our propane gas tank to the house.  That means our water heater is not working - so Judy has to bathe the dogs in cold water.

If I had arrived earlier from the two hundred mile round trip to L.A. Airport, we could have brought the dogs to one of the local self service dog wash outlets nearby.  But, it is too late for that and the dogs were too stinky to wait until tomorrow to bathe...

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I haven’t had very many superwoman moments in my life.  I haven’t rescued anyone from a burning building, saved kittens up a tree, pushed anyone out of the path of a moving vehicle, but I did just travel over 700 miles with two dogs and a toddler.  And I did it all alone. I think that qualifies me for some title, although it may just be Stupid Woman

 

I was more than a little perturbed at my husband that I had to go it alone.  He had work obligations, he said.  How convenient, I thought.  If our daughter says she wants to drive 500 miles to see us, he spends nights checking the weather, and if there is so much as a minor snow shower on the horizon, he insists she fly.  Me, on the other hand, can load up two wheezy French Bulldogs and one toddler still in diapers and “off you go” is what I get as I back out of the driveway.  Actually, I would have been happy with an off you go, by the time I got going on the morning I left, he had already left for work. 

 

It may not be normal, but as I pulled away from the driveway that day, I felt like I was cheating on Fudge and Vern.  The whole thing started when my mom started to go downhill.  I was supposed to go to NC and babysit my grandson for ten days.  My daughter had a work conference/vacation planned for quite some time.  When my mom started getting really sick, I told Megan that I could not leave and they would have to bring the little guy (and he always comes with two dogs) to me and somehow, I would work it all out.  It doesn’t sound right to say as luck would have it, but mom died two days before they were leaving to bring him to me and they were able to come for the funeral and Megan could still attend her work conference and add on vacation as scheduled. 

 

I had planned on watching my grandson at my house the whole week and on paper that sounded like a good idea, but the reality was anything but relaxing.  Fudge and Vern get walked every day no matter what.  Just like that commercial on TV where the sick dad asks the kid for a day off and you get the impression that is only a pipe dream, Vern gives me the same answer when I ask for a day off.  My family thinks it is all in my head, but when Vern doesn’t get his walks, we pay for it during the night with a more active Vern.  So, even though I had one toddler and four dogs I felt compelled to somehow find a way to still walk my dogs.  I had planned on leaving the bulldogs home, but poor Bonzai was so sad when his people left that I just couldn’t do it.  I kept imaging how I would feel if I knew Fudge and Vern were left behind.  And before anyone tries to tell me dogs don’t think like us, and this is just me acting like my dogs are human and there is a name for that…. Anthropomorphism…..I am going to tell you the same thing I told my husband….put a sock into your big worded mouth. I know it’s true and if I had left Bonzai and Jazz, after the initial weeping was over, they would have turned to one another and said, “I want my mommy!”

 

Walking all four dogs and a toddler, who periodically thought he needed to be carried, proved to be my undoing.  At one point, Archer was just about hanging upside down and getting closer and closer to the sidewalk as I tried to maneuver four dogs and not drop him.  It might have been in his best interest to wear a helmet on our walks, but since we didn’t have one, we carried on as best we could.  In another life I am sure Fudge was royalty and she seemed to prefer that the Frenchies keep two paces behind her at all times and not touch her.  If they ventured too close, Fudge would do this crazy leap in the opposite direction, which almost always meant four leashes ended up in a tangle and me biting my tongue not to yell out a series of cuss words.  Keep in mind, Jazz has this amazing talent of being able to hump Bonzai while they walk and it was safe to say between the leaping and humping, we had our own carnival act going on.  Combine all this with the fact that John kept coming home late from work and I soon came to the realization that if I was on my own, I wanted to be on my own in NC with only two dogs and one toddler.

 

Which brings me to the day I broke Fudge and Vern’s heart, by backing out of that driveway without them.  I almost cried and kept thinking they were the ones saying, “My mommy is a traitor!”  I have to be careful who I share that information with, because not everyone understands.  We made it 47 miles before a little voice from the backseat yelled, “diaper change!”  I tried to explain to Archer we had a long haul ahead and I would be calling all the shots from this point on, but all he said was, “diaper change!”  So, we stopped and every stop after required a brief walk for the Frenchies to do their business, a lift back into the van for them, the unbuckling of a two year old from a car seat that made me long for the days when we rode backwards in a station wagon in our parent’s car, and the re-buckling of the same two year old who thought arching his back and giggling would be fun for grandma.  BUT, and I cannot say this enough, Archer was the best-behaved human in that car that day and was near perfect.  We had no tantrums, no screaming to be let out of his car seat, and the only real problem was he knows his movies by the characters and couldn’t understand why grandma didn’t know that Max meant turn on The Big Hero.  We quickly adopted a “point to the one you want” method and solved that problem.

 

It took us from 9 am to 1 am to reach our destination, only because we encountered a bad accident along the way that required me turning around on a steep and muddy median, and added about 3 hours to our time. Even then, when we were stuck in gridlock traffic for well over an hour and I was close to hyperventilating, I heard a little voice from the back seat say, “are you ok, memaw?” and I knew I was going to be just fine.  By the time we arrived at Megan’s, one of us was sleeping, and one of us was very tired.  As luck would have it, Megan’s cat had been saving up a weeks worth of meows for anyone who opened that door and never caught on the entire week that, “be quiet, Rocky,” really meant I was thinking about making him an outdoor cat for the duration of my visit if he meowed in my direction one more time.

The good news is we all survived and when I walked in the door after it was all over, Fudge and Vern seemed to hold no grudge towards me that my adventure with the Frenchies and Archer did not include them. Absence does seem to make the heart grow fonder or maybe it grew fonder because my Doodles need no help getting on and off beds and couches.  Either way, I think I slept for two days when I returned.  It’s not easy being Super Woman.

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I have probably written hundreds of blogs for DK and several of them have been about my mom.  Some of you have followed my mom on her journey to get to a Neil Diamond concert, her stealing a chair right out from under Vern, her reading of romance novels, the day she had to go on Viagra for her heart, her obsession with drinking coffee, and one or two hospital stays.  I know my mom has nothing to do with Doodles, but she always provided me with excellent material and it was fun to share it here on DK.  It has taken me forever to write this blog, because I don’t want the stories to end, but as we all know, every good story has to come to an end sometime.  My mom’s story ended on 1/17/17. She was 90 years old. This blog has nothing to do with dogs and everything to do with dying, so I won’t hold it against anyone who chooses to move on down the page, but writing is cathartic to me and I need to get this down on paper.  I started this blog when my mom went on Hospice.

 

Two years ago in October my mom had a stroke.  Up until that time, she lived in Senior Independent Living, drove a car, went to weekly hair and nail appointments, played Bridge in a club, loved to play Wii bowling and even took part in tournaments, and lived a pretty active lifestyle.  From time to time, my middle sister would wonder out loud if mom should be driving at age 88, but short of finding out mom was knocking off pedestrians up at the local Kroger when she backed out of a parking spot, I was not taking mom’s car away from her.  She was a cautious driver and told me more than once that she always thought of me when she had to drive slowly in the left lane for one reason or another.  She knew if I were behind her I would have been the one yelling, “Move over, grandma!” as I went around her in a huff.

 

After the stroke mom went to rehab and I won’t bore you with all the details, other than to say we hoped she could live in the Assisted Living part of her facility, but because of what she was and wasn’t able to do, ended up having to go to the 24 Hour Care Facility.  Basically, she had lost the use of her entire left side and it wasn’t coming back.  For an independent, impatient, person who hated staying home and had to get out and do something every day, this was the worst thing that could have happened to her and her mantra became “I want to die!”  She said it often and loudly. I don’t know if when you have a major upheaval in your life you go through something similar to the five stages of grief, but I can tell you she hit the anger and depression steps pretty hard. 

 

Saying “I want to die” to other people is never a good idea, because normally other people have a strong desire to live and want to talk you into wanting that for yourself, too.  Her heart doctor, who my mom hated because he replaced the heart doctor she loved and he was a pompous ass (her words), told her she needed to find a support group for people just like herself and that would make her feel better.  I was at that appointment with her and he suggested I do the legwork of rounding up these people and I thought about saying, “so, I should be looking for cranky old ladies who say they are going to slap the next person who tells them to look on the bright side?” He then went on to tell my mom that he was going through a divorce and his three kids hated him and all my mom said was, “well, you don’t have it as bad as me.”  I am sorry to say I laughed out loud at that one, because no one was ever going to be able to top my mom, in her mind, with who had it worse.

 

My mom was also very angry with God for doing this to her.  She told me all the time she talked to him daily and he didn’t answer her prayers and once I said, “mom, maybe he did answer your prayers, because I moved back here closer to you,” and I think she said and not all that enthusiastically,  “yeah, I guess.”  I called some days to tell her I would be there on Thursday and she would sometimes say, “make sure you call first in case I’ve died,’ and I always said, “fingers crossed here,” which made her laugh.  

 

It was so hard not to get irritated with my mom in the beginning because it felt like all she was doing was complaining and not trying hard enough to get better.  She would counter with we didn’t know how hard it was for her.  I have to give my sister, Vicki, a lot of credit because while my other sister and I lived 600 miles away she was in the same town and dealing with everything face to face.  Until I moved to Michigan and only a couple of hours from mom, I didn’t realize how much easier it was to be the daughter at the end of a phone line and not the one dealing with her face to face.  I know now, because her need to control what was left of her universe could be frustrating and irritating to the people around her. I guess when you are mad at the world for your circumstances; it is easier to let a daughter have it occasionally than calling out the universe. 

 

It could be something as simple as homemade cookies.  She hated the food where she lived, so I tried to occasionally bring her some goodies.  Unfortunately, she was very particular about the presentation and changed her mind from day to day how she wanted them given to her. I have been told to bag a couple in small baggies and then I got in trouble at Christmas time because I bagged the cookies instead of putting them in a tin like I did last Christmas.  And if you pointed out that the tin was hard to open and she had requested baggies before, she would say something like, “Don’t get all huffy.”  Another time, I was told to take what I brought home because I brought too much and she didn’t have room for it.  It was a couple of slices of banana bread.  My sister and I both laughed when she said she didn’t eat a lot of snacks, because for a while there, we felt like Crack dealers keeping her in her supply of Milky Ways, Three Musketeer Bars, and Peppermint patties.  I did like to say, “What day was that?” to her “not eating a lot of snacks” comment, just to keep her on her toes.

 

The last time I poured her a cup of coffee, she told me the cup was too heavy and I got the feeling that was somehow my fault.  The same with her iced water they brought her daily. It could only be filled half full and since she was the only one who knew where the invisible line was on her cup, there was no possible way another human being could get it right.  She played the stroke card every time anyone tried to point out that her demands were getting a teensy bit annoying and almost always said, “you don’t know how hard I have it,” or “why won’t the Lord take me?” I always commiserated with her on her first comment, but varied my response to the second by saying, “there is a reason they call it heaven,” or “that’s the question on the tip of all of our tongues.” That usually got a laugh.  

 

Humor is how I survive and it is how my relationship with my mother has survived.   Through the years my mom and I have had some contentious times, but humor could almost always see me through to a better place.  I could make her laugh and the more outrageous the comment, the better. When she could still drive and our kids were younger, from time to time we would revisit the idea of getting a cat.  My mom loved to offer her advice and would tell me if I got a cat she was never visiting again.  I would always hold the phone receiver a bit back from my mouth, and scream, “Kids, get in the car NOW!  We are going to get a cat.”  At the Christmas party this year, mom had on a new jacket and when I complimented her on it, she said, “Oh, this is my funeral outfit, but since I never seem to die, I thought I would wear it tonight!”  For the rest of the night, whenever anyone told her how nice she looked, we did not miss an opportunity to tell him or her it was her funeral outfit.  When the social worker came by we told her all about the jacket and while she was standing there thinking how best to respond, I added, “we are a little angry with her for wearing it tonight, because if she goes tomorrow, we are going to have to get that jacket dry cleaned.”  Even though mom was already starting to go downhill, she laughed, and laughed harder when the social worker said she had no words.

 

Mom had the nicest Vicar visit her occasionally and sometimes I was there when he visited.  He was young, red headed, soft-spoken, and very kind.  He would bring his children to see her sometimes on weekends and mom got the biggest kick out of the fact that his one boy was named Norman.  One day when he came, mom started talking about how she wished she could come to my house some day.  We both knew that the possibility of that ever happening were slim to none, because by that time mom could no longer stand on her own and had to be lifted in and out of her wheelchair with a lift device.  The logistics were just too much to think about at the time.  Well, I chimed in that there would just be no way to get her in and out of my house and while the Vicar was trying to think of something uplifting to say, I added, “and it is just going to be a lot of work for me to keep running food out to her in the car.” He stood there, dumbfounded, until my mom burst out laughing and said, “see how my family treats me!”

 

And in case you think I get off scot free with all my teasing, I have a daughter who picks up with me where I left off with my mother.  Just the other day, I was reading something to her someone posted on FB about how to avoid getting raped and I made the mistake of saying the article said rapists look for people they can move to another location.  Well, just like that, it caused her to burst out laughing and she said, “I think it is fairly safe to say no one is going to want to move you anywhere!” Of course, I laughed, just like my mom always did, and encouraged this behavior to go on for another generation.

 

The funny thing was when we finally told mom she was going to go on Hospice; we expected her reaction to be far different.  I thought she would throw a party, but instead she acted worried. She kept saying things like, “what’s going to happen now?” and when the Hospice worker came for her interview, my sister and I got the impression she thought we were putting her to sleep that day.  We worried they might not accept her into the program because she really didn’t seem all that sick, other than she kept gaining fluid weight. Then she started saying she didn’t want to die and when we asked what brought on the change of heart, she said she had enjoyed watching the World Series. It had nothing to do with family, this change of heart, but the fact that she loved the Cleveland Indians.

 

Which brings us to January and the end of the story.  We had a great Christmas. All her girls were home for Christmas and we celebrated at her place with lots of the Christmas cookies she taught us to make.  She got to see Archer, who she loved dearly.  We all knew mom was going downhill and when she said she was no longer going to go down and have her hair fixed, we knew something serious was happening.  Shortly after that she said they were forcing her to eat and she just stopped wanting food.  She was still spunky though and we had two nurses tell us she stuffed half a sandwich in her mouth and said, “There, are you happy now?” when they kept telling her she had to eat something. 

 

Pretty soon after that she stopped eating altogether and for a mom who ended every event with a treat, it was hard to comprehend or watch.  She drank only a little water here and there, but she was a tough cookie, and lasted two weeks.  Mom would have been thrilled at the end to see how thin she looked. Her weight was a lifelong struggle for her and she had more than a fair amount of vanity.  I often thought if mom had been granted one wish for all mankind, it would not have been for world peace, but rather that she could shop in the petite department at Macy's. At the viewing, my sister said we should have left all her size tags show and I thought we should have had a weigh in like they did on The Biggest Loser and posted that number right next to her.  

They tell you the hearing is the last to go, but every time I asked mom if she wanted me to play a Neil Diamond or Alan Jackson CD, she said no.   She didn’t seem to want any noise or commotion at the end.  My middle sister came home and insisted on singing to her.  I told her later, I thought that was what pushed mom over the edge finally and she must have said to herself, “I can’t listen to this crap anymore!”  It was either that or the hymns she played over and over again until I finally said, “mom must think she is already at the pearly gates with this music!”  I like to think if hearing is the last to go, my mom was laughing when she heard that line.  Maybe mom also decided if she couldn’t be there in person to see Neil or Alan in concert, she wasn’t going to settle with a CD. She had settled enough in the years since her stroke.  I wrote her Eulogy and a fire alarm went off in the middle of me reading it, which we all felt was mom’s doing.  I ended by saying I thought somewhere in the world, right before mom died, a world class coffee Barista must have preceded her in death, and God thought the time was right to bring her home.  After all, if she couldn’t get a good cup of coffee it wouldn’t be Heaven for her. 

Christmas Party, 2016

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Doodle Days Comics

For those sweet souls who have followed my Facebook page, I wanted to let you know that I deleted my account there. It became a sad, name-calling place where I found great unhappiness.

I love my hobby of making Doodle Days (I have no money making mechanism), so I will continue to make them even if I don't get to share them with many people. I have had a blog on Word Press for several years that I only updated occasionally, but will put any new content there if you care to see it.

Thanks for listening. :)

https://doodledayscomics.wordpress.com/

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Charlie met 2 of his siblings!!

I remember when I finally chose the breeder I would get Charlie from, I chose a litter that would (supposedly) be 20-25 pound red miniature goldendoodles. Boy was that wrong! Out comes 3 cream doodles, and 1 red! I wasn't sure if I wanted male or female, and kept on swapping. I finally decided I'd like a girl, so I picked out the name Piper and bought a few pink toys. I was the 3rd pick on the list and was expecting more than 4 puppies. There was only 1 boy, so I assumed I was going to get a girl. Who do I end up with? the lightest male in the litter LOL. I knew the two families ahead of me chose to pick out a girl, so my options were either the last girl who wasn't picked by them or the boy. I asked for more updated pictures of the boy, and fell in love!

I chose to get a miniature doodle because I am a single, lived in an apartment, and was still grieving the loss of the 15 year golden retriever that I grew up with who had just recently passed. His legs gave out on him, and for some reason I thought getting a smaller dog would prevent that. That was my reasoning at least, even though I've grown up with large dogs. Charlie was 8 pounds when I brought him home at 8 weeks old, which I thought was kind of large for how big he was supposed to be. Charlie kept on gaining and gaining, and I quickly realized that a 20-25 dog was not the right size for me. It almost felt like a game, lets see how much he'll gain this week, month and so on! He finally started to slow down about 2 months ago. He's currently 8 months old (as of today!) and about 34 pounds. He still has some filling out to do, and he is still growing so I think he will be around 40-45 pounds full grown (he was 20 pounds at 4 months).

A couple months ago I was able to find 2 of Charlie's sisters through the breeder's facebook page! I was so excited to see what they looked like. I was shocked to learn that one of them was 9 pounds!!! Barely bigger than Charlie the day I brought him home! The other girl (the red one) was 16 pounds. I kept trying to organize a play date, but with the holidays around the corner it was pretty difficult to find a time that worked. We were finally able to meet this weekend and it was incredible!! Charlie definitely knew that they were his sisters.

From left to right: Fenway (10 pounds!!), Penny (20 pounds) and Charlie (34 pounds)

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Penny:    (She was recently shaved, so not as much fluff)

3356636471?profile=originalFenway (literally Charlie's mini me!) with my mom:

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A couple pictures of my Charlie boy because why not:

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It was so nice to be able to compare potty training stories, their likes and dislikes, and their different quirky personality traits. We met at a park because we were all strangers, but all three of us have fenced in backyards (I don't live in an apartment anymore) so we plan on having LOTS of reunions in the future! If you ever have the chance to meet your dogs litter mates, I highly suggest it!

<3

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