Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Snow Days

It's been a long time since my last post, so long, in fact, that this is my first post of 2011. So happy New year everyone. If you live in Toronto or anywhere in North America you will know that we are enjoying one of the snowiest winters in years. Cadie loves it. All this snow means that the temperature has been pretty mild, plus she loves to run and jump and dig in the deep, loose snow.

Luckily we haven't lost any dog toys under this white carpet of fun. Though we have had some close calls. On at least 4 occasions Cadie and I have been digging frantically, while I try to calculate store opening and closing hours to see if we can replace the ball. As I said though, so far we've come home with all of our toys.

We haven't been going far. The sidewalks are very salty and I worry about Cadie getting salt stuck in her paws, I've heard of dogs developing infections if the salt stays in their paws. Anyhow, mostly we've been going to the nearest large-sized park, and then going for a walk along one of our trails.

As you can see, Cadie has taken the opportunity to make some new friends. She's becoming bolder with huskies, and labs, which is great, because it means that she's starting to bounce back from those attacks when she was a puppy. Today, a corgi gave Cadie a run for her money. Who knew corgis could run so fast. So, even though winter is just beginning, Cadie and I are having a blast.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Between the Schnauzer and the English Cocker

What do you guys think I should do?
 There are times in the park when I feel as though there are really three dogs out there with me; my dog, a good dog, and a bad dog. Cadie is the neutral dog, and by neutral I mean easily swayed, the schnauzer is the bad dog, and by that I mean easily tempted to go it's own way; the English Cocker is the good dog, and by that I mean, most likely to obey commands. Before the Schnauzer people get all upset, I don't mean that schnauzers are bad dogs, but they have a strong independent streak, like all Terriers. The English Cocker on the other hand, seems to have no other purpose in life except to try to please it's owner. You know I love Terriers, but sometimes their independence is a bit of a liability. Let me explain.

In the past 2 weeks Cadie and I have been forced to eliminate 2 neighborhood parks from the list of parks we frequent, why? because without warning she'll take off after a squirrel; in the worst case, she nearly ended up underneath the tires of a big, white van. So I eliminated that park right off the bat, it's just too close to the road, and the squirrels are dare devils.

This last weekend Cadie showed greater restraint. The squirrels tempted her, but she stayed where she was, earning her a big mouthful of liver. I know that Cadie will follow her natural instincts, but again, this park is just too close to the street, so it's a no go.

The thing I find funny, in a scary way, is in that moment before Cadie's natural instincts take over she's completely conflicted. She does a couple of false starts, she hesitates, and even seems to turn her head from side to side, as if she's listening to two people talk. It reminds me of those old time cartoons where the devil sits on the left shoulder and the angel sits on the right, and they compete for the chance to guide the poor, lost soul's behaviour. Instead of angels and devils I see Cadie being torn between the natural instincts of two of her base breeds.

What did you say? I can go chase the squirrels?
 The Schnauzer, as we said, is independent, and likes to do things it's own way, so if a squirrel dares to run past it's path, the squirrel better be quick, because the schnauzer is unlikely to allow them to pass in peace. Also Schnauzers are very barky, Cadie is not a barky dog generally, but at the park, she has been known to be more vocal.

English Cockers on the other hand, are less independent, and tend to be more trainable, and follow commands more quickly. They were bred to work with people, and as a result they want to do their best to make their people happy. Cadie is very much a people pleaser.

So the scene at the park goes like this:

Me: Cadie come
Cadie shuffles her feet, looks from side to side, and back at me.
Cadie: ruff ruff
Me: shrugs. Cadie come.
Cadie shakes her head back and forth rapidly, the shaking moves back to the front legs, then shudders down her body, at one point every muscle is shaking back and forth. The shaking gradually stops, the front stops shaking first, until only the tail is still moving.
Me: Cadie. Right here! pointing at the spot on the ground between my feet
Cadie stares at me.
English Cocker: We have to go, that was a command. We have to go!
Schnauzer: you don't have to go, she already loves you, you don't have to do anything she says now.
EC: Yes we do, if we don't go, bad things might happen. Besides she has liver, I like liver.
Sch: yeah, liver's good, but not as good as catching one of those squirrels. Look at them, all smug, thinking they can get away from you. You should go and show them that you're the boss.
Cadie turns her head from side to side
EC: No. No. We should go, we were called.
Me: inching forward slowly so that I can put my foot on her leash. Cadie I said NOW!
Cadie dances a little and chooses either:

Option A: to come to me, get her liver, be a good girl, and stay longer in the park;


Option B: to ignore me and go after the squirrels.

Why are we leaving the park? What did I do?
I can't complain too much, she chooses Option A most often, but every now and then, she is lured by the persuasive Schnauzer, and takes off after those pesky squirrels. The outcome is a couple of very tense and frightening moments for me, and that, if I'm lucky enough to catch her alive, we leave the park as soon as I possible. She's always surprised by this turn of events. Oh Cadie, listening to that Schnauzer voice won't lead you to anything good.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Milestone

Yes, this is my hundredth blog post. This blog, that started in February, just before the Olympics, is now 10 months old, and yes! has 100 posts. To celebrate, I took Cadie back to her two favourite dog parks Sherwood and Sunnybrook.

Friday was a great day for me, we knocked off work early, had a wonderful lunch at the Estates of Sunnybrook, and then I took advantage of the extra time by taking Cadie for a good long walk, and romp around Sherwood Park.

 It was the perfect day. Sunny and not too cold, and Cadie was able to play in the park for her usual hour in her favourite spots. But even with the early start, evening comes early in December, and the light is soon started to disappear, it was practically dusk by the time we left the trail at 4:30.

But, night also, must come to an end, and in the morning we headed up to the official off leash dog park at Sunnybrook. Again, the weather was beautiful, bright, sunny, and not too cold, despite the frost on the grass.

Normally I don't take Cadie's leash off in this park because she doesn't have the best recall there, but all the work we've been doing has paid off, and she came every time I called her, and soon her leash came off.

The morning wore on, and Cadie had had her fill of chasing balls, so we decided to spend some time exploring the foot trails that surround the park. This was a really nice treat. It was totally new scenery for me, and new smells for Cadie.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again, the weather was perfect, and Cadie confidently trotted along, super happy, seeing this walk through an urban park, as an adventure...that's right, an adventure on the end of a designer leash.

After a good play and a good walk, we headed back to the car, and then home, where we warmed up under a blanket, while drinking hot tea.

I hope you've enjoyed reading our 100th post, as much as we enjoyed living it!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Blown Up in my Face

So just days after I let Cadie have the run of the house I'm in the middle of a personal panic. Her leg seems to be getting worse. I mean, she can still run, and jump, and walk, but she seems to be holding her back right leg more than she was even a week ago. Is she getting worse? Am I imagining that she's getting worse? Who can say. All I know is that I've decided to limit her access to the bedroom during the day because I don't want her jumping down from my mattress which sits almost 2.5 feet off the floor. I've also decided to step up her physio massage things that I've been giving her.

I know that I have a tendency to overreact, and last night I started to cry, thinking that she needed surgery, or that she was dying, or something. The cool light of morning shows me two things:

1) Her ears are down more than they have been in the past, this could be a sign that she's in pain, or it could mean that she's tired.
2) While Cadie may need surgery, she's unlikely to die, so I can stop playing that scenario out in my mind.

If nothing else, I'm determined to ensure that Cadie has a long, healthy and happy little dog life.

Monday, November 22, 2010

It's Finally Happened

Yes, it's finally happened! I think I've finally broken through Cadie's need for lengthy exercise outings. well, not most of the week, only on Sundays. It seems that Cadie is much more interested in sleeping in on a Sunday morning, she lounges in bed until about 8, when she rolls over, stretches, has a quick look around to make sure that I'm still in bed, and then nods off again. The only thing that can derail this is my getting out of bed.

Yesterday I had the nerve to get out of bed, and be working on the computer, Cadie came and found me, and herded me back to bed. Once back in bed she threw herself on my lap so that I couldn't get up again. Alas though, it was too late, she was already so keyed up that she wasn't able to get back to sleep, so we headed out into the freezing cold to see the first snow of the year. Since Cadie isn't a big fan of precipitation of any kind we made our way home again within an hour. Once home, Cadie headed right back to bed, where she stayed mid day when I took her out to watch the Santa Clause parade.

Maybe her need for more sleep is a sign that she's getting older, maybe it's a growth spurt, or maybe it's just that Cadie is hibernating until the weather improves, either way, I'll take it.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Doc's Advice

I know you've already seen this picture, but I wanted to show it again. As you know, my biggest fear is that Cadie will break her very long legs, and we will have to fix them. This fear isn't totally irrational as my last dog had a broken leg, and the care she required at that time haunts me still.

I had noticed a change to Cadie's gait a while back, and I kept asking people if her legs looked broken. They always answered no, but I was convinced that there was something wrong. So I brought it up with my vet. She had Cadie walk up and down the stairs several times over, then she watched Cadie walk straight across the room.

It turns out that Cadie has a ligament injury on her back right leg. So she's been favouring the right by shifting her weight to the back left (something you can see her doing in the picture above).

Not great news, but obviously it's not a break, so it's not terrible news. However, it means that we are now doing some light stretches after our walks to help ease the injury, in the hopes that Cadie will stop shifting her weight. This will also make a difference to the way we play with the tennis ball, no more high balls, from now on we have to roll them across the grass. I'm glad we caught this early.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Dog Days of Flu Season--Do Dogs Get the Flu?

There 's nothing worse than seeing my fur baby sick, and Friday morning, I had to see her very sick. She was sicker than I had ever seen her. As expected, she made it through the illness, and is doing much better, though she now has an infection in her left eye. Luckily it's not a very bad infection, though it is unfortunate the she developed this infection while I am visiting my mother, without her eye drops. Oh well, this kind of thing happens, I suppose, and we are seeing the vet tomorrow morning.
Poor Cadie, she was sleeping soundly last Thursday night when all of a sudden the peace was broken. The worst of her sick day went on for about an hour, her stomach settled out after that, but she still looked terribly tired and drawn, which isn't all the surprising given what she'd been through. She flopped down on the couch and barely moved her head. I looked at her just wishing she could talk, so she could tell me where it hurts, and what was wrong with her. Unfortunately  I couldn't stay home with her that day. But Cadie and I are both very lucky to have Aunt C working at the end of our street, so she popped up to check in on Cadie at noon.

It was great Aunt C called me to tell me that my dog was doing better, she was tired, but frisky, interested in food  and visiting. I was most heartened to hear that Cadie had refused to come back in, because she was enjoying the cool grass and fresh air so much.

It's funny, in an awful kind of way, to think that our pets, perhaps even children or aging parents challenge us to handle things from which we normally shy away. As well paired as Cadie and I are, she has a tendency toward eye problems (this is her third eye infection) while I am totally creeped out by having to touch eye balls. I'm so freaked out by eye balls that during my first aid class--while looking at the picture of a pencil sticking straight up into an eye, I put my hand up and asked what a trained first aid person should do if they genuinely can't provide assistance to someone because their injury freaks them out too much. I was told to suck it up, and that when you are in the moment you won't remember your hang ups. I didn't believe them at the time. I know people who are terrified of needles, and then find themselves having to administer insulin shots to their pets. I have a friend who is creeped out by vomiting, she can't even listen to someone vomit, she is now the mother of 2 small children, and she still calls me to calm her down if she has to be with her children while their sick. It's so weird to think about what we can do if we have to. What's a person to do? if Cadie needs me to rub salve in her eyes, then that's what I have to do, just as my friends have to sit with their children and inject insulin. We do what we have to do, and somehow, as responsible care givers we dig deep and manage to muddle through.

So, Cadie and I have survived her first really serious illness, none the worse for the wear, but stronger and ready to face our next scary health crisis.