Tag Archives: dog

Not just a dog

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Jasper came to us as a little eight week old puppy. His story is not a huge rescue story. At the time we were trying to conceive. I was in a support group on line. I had recently announced we were looking for a puppy. We had adopted a dog who had only been at a kennel. He missed other dogs. We had taken him to the vet, blood work was clear. This friend ran an Australian Shepard Rescue. They lived two hours away from us. Someone dropped off two puppies and they were moving the next day. It was eleven pm.  We drove over anyway. We really thought about taking both puppies. I just couldn’t. They had named him Jasper. His brother was Proto. He cocked his head to the side and looked at me. That was it. We were taking Jasper home. The little they did know about them was that their mother was an Australian Shepard and their father was a German Shepard. 

 

Jasper was an incredibly stubborn puppy. We would take him for a walk. He had a high energy level so we knew they had to be decent walks. Sometimes he did not make it home. He literally stopped and refused to move. We carried him home. We tried puppy pads to house train him. He would stand on them, and pee on the carpet.  He would stand on them, and poop on the carpet. He had his vet visits and everything checked out.  The vet suspected he might also have some Great Dane in him as well. He did have a dewclaw but we thought it would be okay. It was. He had it until the end. It never bothered him. 

For awhile his ears did not know if they were going to be German Shepard and stand straight up, or Australian Shepard and flop. It often looked like he had a broken ear. One ear up and one ear flopped over. It was never the same ear flopped over.He was at first small enough he could walk underneath our other dog Trooper. Until one day we looked out and Trooper was wobbling on top of Jasper. It became a game for awhile. 

When we finally did have a baby and brought her home. It only took one sniff for both our boys to declare her their puppy. If she cried they were there. If they went outside the first thing they did when they came inside was find the baby. If someone they didn’t know came into the yard. One would bark and the other would stand in front of the baby. 

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They had some times that they didn’t always get along. They all wanted a ball. A toddler doesn’t know that balls are addictive to dogs. It was like crack for Jasper. It took a lot before he lost interest in the game. 

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Jasper was an eager to please dog. He loved to listen and get praise. He looked guilty if he even thought about breaking the rules. There were times that if he did break the rules he would load up in his crate on his own. There were others though that he was unapologetic. Like the time we came home to flour from one end of the house to the other. 

There was a time that both Jasper and Trooper got out of the backyard. The kid and I were driving the neighborhood looking for them. By this time his face was mostly white.  I almost didn’t recognize him as he was covered from head to toe in mud. We didn’t have a black dog. Who was that black dog with Trooper……Oh…MY…GAWD! He wanted in the car. There is love and then there is no way buddy you can walk. We were less than two blocks from the house. It was not hard. In spite of his love to escape the backyard, he did not like to be separated from us. He would go outside and do his business but he really had no desire to be out there if we were not out there with him. 

 

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We knew it was coming. We realized all of a sudden he was thirteen. Our boys were thirteen. How had that happened? Old age appeared slowly. Some days Jasper would get up and not be able to uncurl his spine. He walked like he needed a V-8. He had always had skin issues. They started to become more and more uncontrollable. The last two months he would eat and eat and eat and still he lost weight. His feet started going out from under him. He had trouble going up and down the stairs. It became so obvious it was time. How do you let go of a family member who has been part of your life for fifteen years? Who no matter what was happening was happy to see you? Who talked to you? Barking, its a lot like talking. Even when you know its the humane thing to do? 

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Jasper loved water. If it resembled water he was interested. I have never seen a dog enjoy water as much as he did. He could not resist. If left to his own devices he was in the water. It didn’t matter how much there was. It was enough for him. I could literally turn in circles with the hose and he would chase the water. 

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Jasper loved dirt. Even knowing he loved dirt, I still couldn’t figure out where all the dirt came from when it was bath time. He turned the water brown in seconds. Seconds. He never looked as dirty as he was though. 

Jasper loved his puppy. Jasper loved his bubby(what we call Trooper sometimes) Jasper loved us. Jasper loved. That is all there is to it.  Jasper loved.  We rescued him but in the end it was him who rescued us. We didn’t even know we needed rescue. 

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Jasper 

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August 1999 to June 25 2014. 

 

How hard can a family outing be?

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So let me start off by saying I wanted to write. I just didn’t really know what about.  One part of my brain is saying WRITE. the other is like…uh, I got nothing. So I decided to just write about my day and see where that took me.

This is the result.

 

I had decided that the dog we were dog sitting had been so super patient with me and my slow walks.  It was time to go to the dog park and take a hike down the path.  I am pretty sure this is where I lost my mind.

Its not like we have tons of kids.

We have one.

We were only taking Neeka, the dog we were dog sitting.

One thing I had not thought about. Rain. How do you forget about something that in summer happens at least once daily. I am really not sure.

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The coloring in the photo wasn’t altered at all. It really was like that. Rain clouds brewing. It was obvious a fire had happened here recently. Fires in Florida have many benefits. They cleanse and restore. Often, not always but often, they are started and put out by the same thunderstorm.  Walking along behind them I was like…..THIS….SO MUCH THIS…Even though the dog had picked a different path than we wanted to go. THIS! Huge breathe in of contentment.

 

Then we found water. We didn’t just find water. We found parts of the trail under so much water it looked like a pond.We were too hot and tired to turn back. We kept going. Walking carefully along the sides as best as we could. Hoping for solid earth under our feet.  Neeka loved it. Her antics at first made it not so terrible. Then when we were almost out of the water logged trail…the worst was ahead of us and on the other side. High dry and hot trail back.  This is where we found sinking sucking sticking mud. There were squeals. There were tears. Shoes you know can never ever get mud off them. EVER!  I wish I had taken pictures during this part of the trail.  I am pretty sure this ten minutes of the trail is when my back said, ” I quit.”  The kid was having some epic issues with the mud and her pink pants had mud on them too. It was inside her shoe..INSIDE! It does no good to tell her to just walk at this point. She has no ability to process logical information. Hand holding, balancing somehow we got through to the other side. I wondered why I thought this was  a good idea. It had rained heavily for days before this. I should have known.

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We got back to the pavilion. Where my husband made us laugh with his antics of trying to get Neeka to drink from the fountain. A few minutes later I dumped a water bottle of ice cold water on the kid.  It instantly brightened her mood. We were hot and sweaty and a bit bug bitten(I took the bug repellant out of the closet it just never got father than the counter).

A quick stop at Publix for Sandwiches and milk, no way was either of us making lunch. Not such a horrible outing after all. The dog was exhausted, The kid not so much. She jumped into the pool to not only cool off but hopefully wear herself out the rest of the way. Pretty please?

Even with medication I knew my body had enough. I had just enough energy not to be laying down most of the day but not much outside of that. Mentally though, Mentally I was not only content but I had all these ideas. All these plans that I needed to make.  The Kid’s birthday party is coming up. I feel like I have so much to plan and do for it. When I sit down and focus ,no, I really am on top of it.  The house is pretty much picked up, dishes are done, no laundry that needs to be done. The kid is quietly playing with construction paper ,scissors and tape. PBS Kids is kind of just background music.

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We totally got this family outing thing. Right?  Just as long as we have another week to recover before attempting again. If only parenting was like that. The kid will be fully recovered from today by tomorrow morning. She will probably wake up at the most ungodly hour of six am. She will probably want to DO something.

I think back on today and all I can think is….THIS…SO MUCH THIS. I would have never seen myself being at this place had you asked but I was here. This was my life. I won’t let anyone dictate how it should go. Pain, fatigue, parenting, it really can all go together.

 

Brain don’t listen to the body.

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If I had listened to my body. I would not have gotten out of bed this morning.  If it had been just my dogs needing to walk..I may have put off getting up a few more hours.

My body begged for mercy.  I left my boys to my brother in law and my husband.  If I get up and going and don’t think too much I can get my motivation before my brain figures it out. Its mostly a daily battle like this between brain and body. Most of the time there is a kid fueling this battle a bit more.   A few slurps of coffee. get clothes on. Medicate. Top of coffee and out the door.

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Neeka needed to run.

She needed her time at the paw park.

Today I planned on exploring this new trail I found behind the paw park. My body was less than thrilled with this idea.  So I sat on the bench and tossed balls for Neeka and hoped the medications kicked in. or the coffee.  Even still forty five minutes later Neeka is making it obvious she is done sniffing butts and chasing tennis balls. Ugh.  This is where I like walking dogs.  She just pulls me along for the first few minutes.

We stop for her to romp in the little stream first.

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There is just something about watching her that makes it hard to stay in my grumpy in pain mood.   So off we go. I have a small water bottle…alot less than what I would prefer to have. It was enough though.

The first bit I know I trudged. I kept looking around desperately for something to catch my interest. A few minutes later I check my pedometer. I know in my head what I want to hit for my goal. I just don’t know if I had it in me today. Then I made myself promise not to check the pedometer again til I got in the car. Just breathe. Just be. I wasn’t going to listen to my muscles protesting. I wasn’t listening to my joints creek.

The majority of this trail was in the blazing sun. Probably not the best time of day to be taking this walk along this particular path.

We come to a bench and Neeka catches a grasshoper and her frolicking was just so cute. So we start off again with a renewed determination to enjoy this. This is the last day I am kid free. This time is for me.

I start looking around with renewed interest and determination. I see this dock across from us. I can see it with some warm tone embellished by instagram.

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The forgotten dock. There were vines crawling all over it and it just looked so serene. This…This is what I need.

 

Now my drive is in full gear. We follow a side trail off a little ways. Its shady and we definitely needed the break from the beating sun. Neeka found some grass that looked yummy. I realized from our previous trips to the paw park she likes to eat this tall willowy grass. After the first day and no vomit or bathroom problems I let it go.

We rounded a corner and it was like we found a place that time had forgotten.

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I was struck by the beauty. A little piece I hadn’t realized I had been holding on to just released. I wasn’t listening anymore to my body, I wasn’t listening anymore to how hot it was. I was there.

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It didn’t seem like I had to look very far to find something interesting.  A large butterfly flittered by.  An owl took off from a branch right next to me. Its wings so quiet for such a large bird. That quiet space in my brain was where I was. It was where I had wanted to be. Where I had needed to be more than I realized.

We wondered around in the back shady trails. Not really with any intent. Just enjoying the trail. When it forked we went the way that looked the most interesting.

Dogs are great companions like that. They don’t need to talk, or bark, but when you do they are attentive. Sometimes we chased a smell down a little side trail. Sometimes we followed my curiosity. It didn’t matter.

I let Neeka off her lead for a bit. Trusting her to come back. I have been on other hikes with her owners and her. I knew she did this with them.

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I tossed sticks out into the tiny little rivulet of a stream. She happily chased after them..pounced on them…and brought them back. Where she promptly dropped it and then rolled all over it. It was her stick. It made her happy.

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How can you not laugh at her antics? She takes so much joy from such a small thing.

I was running out of water so it was time to head back.

We came to the end of the trail and up the few steps to the water fountain. Refilled my water bottle and gulped it down. Promising myself to take it slower with the next one.  I refilled it again and dumped that one all over Neeka. Cooling her off a bit.  Refilled again and walked to the car.

Finally checked the pedometer. I knew by how my body was starting to scream it was at least a mile and half. It was 1.87 miles.

Hot and sweaty we rolled the windows down and Neeka prompty put her head out the window.

Once we got home we did a short walk around the block. Goal achieved. 2.0 miles. You may think wow thats alot. You may think thats barely a walk. Keep in mind it took me an hour and half on the trail to achieve that plus the fifteen minutes to walk the block.

I jumped in the pool shortly after that. Just floated around. Letting my muscles enjoy that weightless feeling. A few dips under the water. Some more floating.

Took a shower to finish it off. Plus the amount that I sweated on that trail was ridiculous.

I left Neeka curled up on the futon sound asleep.

Driving home I feel renewed. Refreshed. Centered and connected.

I may have Fibromyalgia but I don’t have to listen to it all the time. I have gotten pretty good at knowing when its just normal groaning and when it is flare groaning. As much as I don’t want to move. I know my body needs it. Much more than it will admit.  So most days I tell my brain not to listen to what my body is saying. To just push through it. To just do what needs to be done. Sometimes that means I am gritting my teeth literally. My TMJ doesn’t like it and yes in the long run it raises my pain level. Sometimes I have no choice but to get what needs to be done. Then sometimes I push myself because I know I need it. Even if my body won’t admit it.

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