Sunday, February 28, 2010

Random Rants

Today was a fairly quiet day for me, for the most part Cadie and I just hung out. We watched the gold metal hockey game. And right now I am watching the closing ceremonies for the Olympics, and I am sorry to say that I am not enjoying them as much as I could. This is due, is large part to the conduct of our fearless leaders. Before I start this upcoming rant, I would just like to say that I have been every proud of Canada, and Canadian Athletes, but I have been very embarrassed tonight by our leaders. Don’t misunderstand me, I see nothing wrong with leaders showing patriotism, but let’s get one thing straight, this is an international event, not the Canada show. So, I think it would have been appropriate to congratulate all the athletes, not just the Canadians. Instead of seeing dignified leaders, I saw Vancouver’s mayor strutting around in a hockey jersey and some goof ball sitting in the royal box slinging a flag around like it’s a toy. Honestly, you can be proud, and you should be proud, but just as there is a code of conduct for athletes, there is still a code of conduct that needs to be followed. So here are the Canadian leaders acting like high schoolers, with the mortified head of the IOC standing in the background. And finally, I would just like to say that there is no excuse for sloppy, unintelligible French. Honestly. I’m making fun of average people who struggle with French, but I’m sure that the CEO of VANOC could get a pretty thorough crash course in French had he been willing to make the call. The final thing that I will say about the closing ceremonies is that I did enjoy the last 15 or 20 minutes, The Maple Leaf Forever was one of my Grandma Sayle’s favourite songs, so I did enjoy the final medley, in particular I like the floating moose and giant beevers. Very funny.

Although it is my personal opinion that the closing ceremonies are really one irritating debacle after another, I have to say that I am very proud of the Vancouver 2010 games. Officially, I don’t really care about the medals, secretly I intend to brag about these games well into my 90s (God willing). I am so going to miss coming home and being able to up the games on. SO I’m sad that they’re over, but even sadder that they had to go out on a sour note.

Before we sat down to watch the closing ceremonies Cadie and I got out for a short run. It was great, because Toronto was still celebrating the hockey win, so we got to celebrate that too.

I should sign off, I’m afraid that the muses just aren’t with me tonight.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Reality Check

So I’ve now had a taste of what it would be like to have 2 dogs. I’ve always thought I would love to have a second dog, but it’s kind of like watching the Cosby Show and coming to the conclusion that having 5 kids and 2 professional careers is easy, peasy and anyone can do it. Until yesterday I had totally bought into this thinking, but now I see that I am better to only have one dog.

Cadie played host last night to her friend, a cute little Westie, nick named Salt. Cadie and Salt are good friends, they look forward to seeing each other, and they play well together, so when my friend asked if I could keep Salt overnight I answered yes without hesitation. My friend often keeps Cadie, if I need to work late, or if I have to go out of town for the day. So obviously I was more than happy to return the favour. Salt arrived yesterday about midday, and stayed only about 24 hours.

I have to preface what I am about to write by saying that Salt is a fantastic dog! I honestly don’t think it would be possible to find a better dog house guest. Still I’m exhausted. I had decided to take the dogs out for a bathroom break at about 3:30, this was uneventful, but that’s because it didn’t involve coats, paw protector or egos. We went outside, they did their business and I brought them both in, feeling like I could certainly handle 2 dogs, no sweat!

We all had a nice little nap, but then at 5:30 the dogs were looking pretty bored, so I suited up and took them to the trail for a good long outing. This is where the fantasy came crashing down.

Suiting up was so tiresome. It involved 3 coats, Cadie, Salt and of course, myself. Then the boots, then the leashes, and the community grooming equipment (poop bags). We headed out, and we hit our first real snag as soon as we hit the sidewalk. Salt and Cadie often walk together, but never by the same person, and so they don’t have a rhythm, first one would stop then the other. Then one coat would come off then the other. By the time I was finished fixing the second coat the first one would be off again, and I think you get the idea. After only 15 minutes Salt had completely removed her coat and I was carrying it.

Juggling leashes was my next challenge. Although they walk really well for my friend, they know that I’m not the alpha, so they were zig zagging all over the trail, stopping and starting jutting back and forth in front of me each one trying to lead the pack. Now before you think I’m a total pansy who can’t manage the dogs I had prepared, I done some research. My friend had given me some tips, keep the leashes short, being the most important, and just for the record, I did all of these things. I think the dogs were able to sense my mounting frustration, and they struck while the iron was hot.

We did get a decent walk, and another one again this morning. Salt and Cadie get along really well, and there was nothing acrimonious about our visit. They helped me pack; they hung out on the couch and tried to steal each other’s breakfasts. All in all it was a good morning with Salt, but she was tired, and was so happy to go home. My friend called 30 minutes before coming to collect her which was a hilarious moment. It’s just so funny how intuitive dogs are. The phone rang, and before I could even spit out the words “Salt it’s your mom calling” Salt was off the couch and standing by the door. I laughed, it’s just so funny.

The other issue that I was not expecting to have to deal with was Cadie’s jealousy. As I say, she and Salt are good friends, and so it wasn’t acrimonious, but Cadie was not herself. I think she felt that she had been replaced, which of course was not true, but you can’t really reason with an animal. Salt headed for home, Cadie and I watched her get into the car from our dinning room window, and I think that Cadie was genuinely upset to see Salt leave, but we’ll see her tomorrow morning at the park.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Not Such a Great Day

I should not be allowed to groom. I had made up my mind last night that my bangs were far too long, and that I could surely handle trimming them. I have cut my bangs to within millimeters of my hair line. I’m trying to laugh it off, hair grows back, but I look ridiculous. But it could have been much worse, I also waxed my eyebrows, and frankly I’d rather have almost non-existent bangs than risk waxing my eye brows right off my head. I also groomed Cadie yesterday, all I did was brush her, trying to get some of the mattes out of her hair, that was uneventful, at the end of the day Cadie was just soft and silky, no catastrophies there. And at least it’s winter time, I can get away with wearing my toque to most place I might go.

My neighborhood has a sort of unofficial dog owners group. We have each other’s email addresses, and keep people posted on local issues, and upcoming events. It really is fantastic, back in October we were having a bit of a security issue, too many burnt out lamp posts, and rumors about strange men “hanging about” in the bushes along our trail. Back in the fall I organized a dog walk to benefit diabetes research and I used this network to promote it. As I say it’s fantastic, and I love it, but I was very shocked by the email that went out today. The email reminded us all that we need to be vigilant in picking up after our pets, as some dogs are starting to get sick from the, increasingly unsanitary conditions. I don’t know what more to say except that I am shocked. I mean I know that many people become less vigilant during the winter, but this is a serious situation. Dogs getting sick? Have we really become so lazy that we would rather see our pets can sick rather than bend over and pick up after them? Also, if the dogs are getting sick now, why aren’t people worried about people getting sick? This is truly upsetting. And embarrassing, it’s no wonder that so many non-dog people think so little of dog owners. The bright side to this is that so many of the owners responded to this email with support, so my hope is that people stay committed to picking up after their pets, and the dogs can start feeling better. One is particular is trying to organize a clean up of this space, I hope this takes off.

Tonight was bitterly cold, I can’t complain, for the most part this winter hasn’t been too bad, bright sun, light snow, but the wind tonight is cutting and I was very relieved that Cadie was not interested in going far tonight. Instead, she and I have been spending some quality couch time together. It’s funny I have friends who are really keen for the Olympics to end, but I am loving it, and I don’t know what I’m going to do next week when they are all over. I guess I’ll jut hope that the weather is a little warmer, so that we can get out a little more.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It’s not that Unusual

The snow fun continues for good old Cadie, she just can’t wait to get out on the trail after work and get running. She pulls all the way to the park, where she goes cuckoo for her tennis ball. The latest development, it’s not really new, but I’m still so pleased with it that I talk about it as if it were new, is that she will now bring the ball back to me. So there we were, on our 42 foot leash, I threw the ball for her, and she went bounding after it. Of course, because I refused to let go of the leash it meant that I had to run with her, which I think confused her, but she didn’t let it dampen her good time.

Today was also a jogging day, so after a very filling dinner we headed out once again. I love running with Cadie. I was motivated to start running with her for 2 reasons: the first was that as a puppy she had an unbelievable amount of energy, the second is that while I enjoy running, I have a lot of guilt around leaving the house without her. So I did some research, got the right equipment, and now we run together 3 to 4 times a week. I prefer to go after dinner. I live in neighborhood full of very young, posh professionals, who spend a lot of money on their exercise wear, and I find it very intimidating. Also, I’m very out of shape, and by going while the streets are quite I don’t have to get passed by 20 or 30, posh, fit people.

Cadie is the perfect running partner for me. She loves to run, but hates the start of a run, she needs lots of encouragement to get going, but once she’s on the move it’s hard to stop her. Cadie has the energy and the stamina to push right until the end. Me, I’m the total opposite, I have no trouble getting out the door, and tonight, when I got to the halfway point I felt very good, like I could run forever. That feeling didn’t last. 3 minutes later I was completely lacking in motivation, thinking about walking home, and depending on Cadie to get me there. I just find it so funny how well dogs know us. They know when we have fallen asleep on the couch, and need to be woken up; they know when we are running out of energy and need some extra encouragement to meet our goals. I honestly wouldn’t have the motivation to job without Cadie. Dog miracles, they’re everywhere.

I encountered another dog miracle today; at least I think it’s a dog miracle. Or maybe I should think of it as a dog miracle by association. I work with a woman who describes almost everyone she knows as “beautiful”, and at first I thought that she ran in a fabulous social circle, full of fabulous people. But now I think that she is the kind of person who sees beauty in people, instead of seeing their flaws. Not surprisingly, at least not me, she’s another dog person. I think dog people, because they surround themselves with such devoted fans, are able to see so much more beauty in the world than the average person. But then it’s hard to not to see the world’s beauty when you come home to a creature who adores you. I’m convinced that dogs know our flaws and limitations, but love us too much to hold it against us. Dogs will always see “their people” as beautiful no matter what, and I think that it’s wonderful when people can start to process the world in the same way, finding beauty rather than looking for scars. I think that’s two dog miracles in one night.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Best of the Simple Things

I woke up this morning feeling like my legs were made of lead, so I made sure that I got home in good time, so that I could get some veg time. Cadie was thrilled to see the snow. This is only her second winter, and while She doesn’t like the cold weather, she does love the snow. We got a good sprinkling of snow yesterday evening, so today’s trip to the park was particularly exciting. There were times that she was walking sideways. Of course, Cadie was not going to be given free range at the park. My thinking is that we got lucky on Sunday, and I am not keen to push my luck, especially not at rush hour. Cadie did get a good run, but I was holding onto the end of her leash the whole time.

Cadie and I have been following the Olympics. It’s so nice to come home after our evening walk and set up camp on the couch, with a hot cup of ginger tea and a big, fluffy blanket. Cadie comes and snuggles right up beside me, making sure that I get a good luck at her cutest face. There’s just something so nice about curling up under a warm blanket in front of the TV, especially when the world “outside” is so bleak and damp.

I also use these moments to try to keep up with Cadie’s grooming. I won’t lie, I won’t even sugar coat my thinking; I hate grooming. I hate grooming myself, and I hate doing it for Cadie. I mean, I know, it’s irresponsible of me, and I hate it about myself, but I am so lazy. As a result, when it is up to me to maintain Cadie’s grooming she tends to be more matted. I’m about to move to a new apartment, and I’m hoping that the move will jostle me into developing a schedule for both of our grooming, oh and the housework too, I’m not great at keeping up with that either. I’ve heard that a change of scene can make a huge difference to a person’s willingness and motivation, and I’m hoping that this is true. Now on the flip side, I once wrote an article on behaviour-change theory that said that it takes 3 years to successfully change behaviours. It makes sense, and I checked the references, and it seems to be air tight. This is less encouraging, I certainly don’t have the patience and focus for that. I’ll just have to restrategize ways that I can get the work done without having to commit myself to doing the work. I believe that there is a way.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Just Glad to be Home!

Not much to say tonight, I spent most of my waking hours at work, missing my puppy. But I have to say that I love it when it snows. Cadie doesn’t like the cold, but she loves the snow. She kept pouncing into small piles and snow drifts on our way home tonight. Every pounce produced a small snow ball that delighted her. She’d chase them until they disappeared. Then she’d look at me to let me know that I had let her down by only giving her tiny snow balls that disappear as soon as she finds them. Poor dog I laughed in her face. Then we snuggled on the couch watching aerials and ice dancing, I had a couple of mimosas. On the whole, not a bad day, but I don’t think I’m going to be able to stick the ice dancing event out until the end.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Gone With the Squirrels

This has been the worst day. I had a terrible day at work, which should not even be possible since it’s Sunday, but it’s more than work, this has been a day where everything has gone just slightly wrong, not enough really to make any one issue a real crisis, but I’ve had slow commutes, forgotten ingredients that have required additional trips to the grocery store, and I wrote the first line of today’s blog 5 times before I got it to stick. And no, I don’t mean that I rewrote 5 times, wordsmithing it, trying to get the perfect opener, I mean that I retyped it 5 times, exactly as it appears above, because my keyboard kept deleting it. The absolute worst thing that happened today though involved Cadie.

Cadie did not have a good night last night, she was extra clingy, which means that I didn’t have a great night last night, she was up at least twice vomiting, nothing serious though. Then this morning at about the usual time we headed out toward the park. The weather is unseasonably warm here, which means that the squirrels are out in full force. I threw the ball down to the other end of the park for Cadie, as is our ritual, she ran to get it, then a fat, plump squirrel jumped out right in front of her. It almost wasn’t her fault that she went tearing after it; I mean these kamikaze squirrels make it really hard for any hot blooded dog to ignore them. But what happened next can only be described as a disaster. Cadie took off at full speed, she darted back and forth through the grove, and I won’t even venture a guess at how fast she was going. She had her huge 42 foot leash trailing around behind her, but still she was going too fast and in too much of a zig zag for me to catch her. Toward the end of this 2 minute horror show Cadie darted out onto the street, and then disappeared onto our walking trail, which is where I finally caught up with her. Incidentally, one of the other little irritations this weekend was that I broke my boot lace, making it impossible for me to run. As I said, I did eventually catch up with Cadie, she was fine, just looked a little dazed and confused. I promptly put her back on her leash and started for home.

The whole thing has left me feeling very unsettled, work made me feel the way work always makes me feel, but normally I know that I can come home to Cadie and she makes me feel better. I mean, I’m a reasonable person, and I know that dogs are living creatures with minds and instincts all their own, but it’s still pretty shocking when you see your dog heading for danger and they aren’t listening to you. I know lots of people who tell me that their dogs are always there for them, if they fall, they are the fist ones to come over and see that they are okay. I know that Cadie loves and cares about me, so it is weird to see her tearing around like that, and not care that I am calling her back. Oh well, all we can do is go back to the basics and try again tomorrow. We’re going to be working on recall, and perimeter training.

I did have a very nice end to the day, so I guess it wasn’t all bad, I think that I have figured out how to handle the “situation” at work, which is good, and I had a great Sunday dinner with my friend. She left me use her fabulous kitchen where I made Salmon en Papillote, the fish was light and flakey, the veggies were perfectly crisp, and the cucumber was a perfect substitution for the zucchini. So, let’s just focus on the positive and go back to basics tomorrow. Wish me luck.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Doggie see, doggie do

A surprising good day, it started out on a pretty rocky note, Cadie refused to get up, slowing me down quite a bit. I was standing at the side of the bed trying to coax her into getting up, but Cadie would only lift her head up off the bed, give me a huge yawn and lay back down. The good news is that she isn’t huge s I was able to force the issue without too much of a delay.

I had been hoping to get to the office early to try to wrap my head around a potential problem. As it turned out my problem didn’t really exist, so I started to feel better before 9 am. From there the day just sort of trickled away and I soon found myself back at home, a little late, but Cadie didn’t hold it against me. We headed out and had a great walk.

I know that I have lead you to believe that we are super urban, but we spend very little time on the sidewalk during the winter because of the snow. My neighborhood has a great walking trail, and that’s where we go every evening after work. In the summer when we get more light we’ll also do our evening walk on this trail, but it isn’t super well lit, so we stay clear during the winter months. It was a fantastic walk, the sunset was warmish, and the temperature fairly mild for a winter day, and there was a nice light dusting of snow. We were with good friends, and then we even made it into the park where Cadie got a great treasure, and found the biggest, and best stick she could handle.

I threw the stick for Cadie several times, and she did her best to run with it, but it was just a little too big for her to manage. Then my friend called for her dog and we headed home. Cadie has an uncanny ability to watch one dog do something, get rewarded and then copy this movement. When my friend calls for her dog to come, she, the dog, always gives my friend’s legs a tap with her two front feet before sitting. Afterwards my friend gives her dog a treat, and we laugh about how her dog treats her like she’s a Pez dispenser. Cadie has always come to my friend when she calls for her dog, but today, Cadie watch the other dog “press the Pez dispenser” and get a treat, and decided that this might work for her too. So she too pressed her luck and was rewarded with a yummy liver treat.

We walked out friends to the cutoff spot, and said good bye to them, so it was a good day for both of us.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cadie and I

I have, by far, the best dog.

I know that this is open to debate, everyone always thinks that their dog is the best dog, except for those people who don’t have dogs, and I feel truly sorry for them.

My dog’s full name is Acadia Jane, but I call her Cadie. She is 19 Lbs. Ganaraskan, and she is beautiful. She has black hair, and always looks a little scruffy, and a wonderful little round face. A Ganaraskan is a newish breed, made up of ¼ Poodle, ¼ Cocker Spaniel, ¼ Schnauzer, and a ¼ Bishon Frisee. In addition to being beautiful she is also very sweet, and the past part of my morning is when I leave for work, and stop in front of my building. I look up and I can see Cadie looking right down at me, she is still standing there waiting for me when I am on my way home.

It’s funny all the small things that dogs do that can really change a person’s life. I mean aside from the fact that they us get up and out of the house, help break the ice with strangers, and generally fill our lives with love. Last night I was determined to stay up and watch the Olympics, in particular I wanted to see Patrick Chan and Johnny Weir skate. So I set up camp on the couch, and within 2 minutes I was asleep. But then, just as Chan’s music started to play I felt a little pressure on my feet, Cadie had come out to make sure that I was awake, which meant that I was able to see the two skaters I had been hoping to see. Just another dog miracle.