Things Making Me Feel Needlessly Guilty
The three times I used Shiva’s surgery as an excuse for asking another dog owner to re-leash his or her dog.
The fact I wish I had thought of this sooner.
I spent the extra bit of money I had for this month on symphony tickets instead of savings.
The fact that I almost wish our Christmas this year would be as quiet as previous years. As lovely as it will be to spend the holidays with family, the coordination makes my head ache.
The Nanaimo bar I ate for lunch.
My cat. I haven’t seen him since I startled him off my chair. No wonder he hates me.
Things Making Me Feel Needlessly Happy
Our wee little tree and twinkle lights on the staircase. if I could, I would cover the house in them.
The fact that there are so many programs celebrating the beauty of dogs. Like this one:
Re-reading one of my favourite books from a wiser perspective.
December is just one day away.
Shiva’s purple polka-dotted coat made by my kind and generous practically mother-in-law. We are so lucky.
The yummy roasted potatoes I just had for dinner.
Things Making Me Feel Needlessly Nostalgic
This photo of Shiva with our old lilac bush.
Mint chocolate Girl Guide cookies.
The thought of giving up my Blackberry.
The wish I had blogged more last year so I would have a record of all we experienced. The knowledge that even if I attempt to tell the stories now, they won’t be the same as they would have been.
Things Making Me Feel Relieved
Tomorrow is the last day of Movember.
Things Making Me Feel Less Relieved Than I Expected
Tomorrow is the last day of NaBloPoMo. I kind of wish it wasn’t.
Today didn’t have the greatest beginnings. The pants I planned on wearing had a rip in them but I had to wear them anyway and hope nobody noticed because no other pairs were clean. Also, I haven’t purchased a new item of clothing in over two years and I am running low on options. Shiva spent forty-two minutes of our forty-five minute walk sniffing a single clump of snow so I didn’t get the exercise that usually helps me face the day. I was worried about a friend who had to face a pretty scary job interview and my leftover spaghetti lunch spilled out of the container and into my tote bag.
Gripe, gripe, gripe, gripe.
As it is the American Thanksgiving and as I missed out on writing my annual Canadian Thanksgiving post due to indolence, I wanted to take some time today to share my overdue gratitude. Apparently, though, all I can think of right now are the ways things didn’t go right, instead of the countless ways they did.
I mean, my cat and my dog actually shared the same chair! This should thrill me for at least a month!
Which, really, is a general problem of the human brain and the purpose of this day in the first place. Why do we seem to ignore the millions of things that go well, in favour of fixating on the few things that go less well? If there is anyone out there who knows the answer to this, please provide me with the link to your blog yesterday.
Each year I tell myself I am going to cultivate a daily practice of gratitude. Each year I do nothing. I get stuck in the medium, pondering the best way to go about expressing my thankfulness as opposed to just expressing it. Missing the point seems to be a habit with me.
Last January I found this great idea on Pinterest – as one does – that suggested creating a gratitude jar. The image iself was beautiful. A lovely glass vessel decorated with gleaming ribbon and filled with little white notes neatly clipped. It seemed so simple and yet so special. The initial concept was that at the end of year, or in the midst of a particularly rough day, I would pull out the hand-written thoughts and remember how much good there is in the world. It was a brilliant idea, a genuis idea! I instantly fell in love.
But I didn’t budge an inch. Instead I obsessed with finding the right jar and then determined I would never create anything as pretty as what I saw online, deciding to just give up completely. It was too much work. I’ll do it next year. Maybe.
Who can compete with this?
So here I am. December is a sleep or two away and I have done nothing but bitch for eleven months. Again.
It’s ridiculous because the thing is, I have a million things for which I am grateful. The point of the jar isn’t to make something that looks appealing in a photograph. The point is to dedicate a bit of time to feeling positive about my life. It doesn’t matter if it goes in a glass decanter covered in unicorns and sparkles, it only matters if I sit down to acknowledge how lucky I am. There doesn’t even need to be a jar! I can use a shoebox or an old pot or a grocery bag!
Because as much as I complain I am grateful. I am grateful I even have all three of the aforementioned things around to use! The box means I have something to protect my feet, the pot means I have a way to cook dinner, and the bag means I have enough money to purchase food. I am grateful I have a computer that still works enough for me to type this. I am grateful I have a blanket on my lap and a healthy dog beside me and a furnace that supplies heat. These are all amazing things! Stupendous things! Things that should make me dance every morning on my way to the shower!
Well, maybe not dance. With my lack of coordination that early in the morning I am likely to fall down the stairs and throw my whole gratitude thing down with me.
So even though it is only November 28th and not January 1st, even though I don’t have a special jar, or special shiny paper or even a pen that doesn’t leak, I am going to start this thing today. I may have to write my notes on tissues or the back of old pay stubs but hey, I should be grateful I even have a pay stub on which to write! I may not remember to do it every day or even every week but it’s not about ticking off a box on my to-do list. It isn’t even about perfection. It’s about doing something for myself that may one day change my perspective and may even lead to doing some nice things for others.
It begins now.
Almost four weeks after Shiva’s injury things are starting to return to the nutty speed to which we are accustomed. All that lazing around has caused the Tornado to lose some muscle mass but she makes up for it in sheer energy. I have a feeling it won’t be long until our girl is a beefcake again.
She got to play a rowdy game of tug for this first time in too long this last weekend and even though I have yet to capture a non-blurry action shot of her, I couldn’t resist snapping a few. Her joy at playing her favourite game with her favourite tugger was infectious.
I could watch the two of them play like this all day, every day.
Before you ask, it has nothing to do with the way Shiva relaxes enough to nap afterwards. Not at all.
I will deny it till my dying day and beyond. Life just isn’t the same without the insanity. I can’t believe I’m saying it, but it’s good to have her back in action.
Ever since that one episode last year when Shiva had an odd reaction in the woods, I have been hyper-sensitive to her behaviour when walking in the dark. Previous to that morning, Shiva’s fearful reactions were directed either toward other people, other dogs, plastic bags blowing in the wind, rocks, and garden gnomes. All things I could see myself and help her figure out. The aforementioned time was the first time I witnessed her responding to a scent or a sound that I couldn’t detect. And her reaction itself was unusual. She didn’t bark or otherwise lose control. Rather, she folded into herself and ignored treats. That last alone was enough to make me worry.
Coyotes were a prevalent species in Nova Scotia; according to my sources, they are just as prevalent here in Edmonton. Especially in the river valley where we walk on a regular basis. In the dark. The only thing preventing me from hyperventilating about the dangers of a coyote encounter is the knowledge that coyotes in Alberta are much smaller than their Eastern counterparts. Even Shiva has a few pounds on them. Of course, this consolation is slim when I remember Shiva is a goof and instead of running away like a smart dog, she’d probably do something stupid like stand her ground.
Over a month ago now, Shiva and I had our first Edmonton coyote experience. We were walking in the ravine in the early morning – as we do. All is silent during that time of day. Before the snow fell, it was just us and a few dedicated joggers and cyclists. About halfway through our journey, I heard a high-pitched screaming. At first, I thought it was an injured dog, or perhaps a dog left outside all night who wanted back inside. Within a few minutes, I realized the sound was swiftly moving around the ravine and was closer to our location than I had thought.
It kind of sounded like this, actually, only louder:
“Is it a bird?” I wondered. “Or maybe another dog walking with his owner?” But what dog walks while yipping like that? None I have ever seen.
Shiva appeared unfazed. She continued sniffing and trotting as she always did. Trusting her, I continued on our way but picked up the pace a little. The high howling sound carried on and echoed around us until I reached a residential street. I told myself I was being silly for thinking it was something serious or wild. I clung to the fact that Shiva didn’t react.
Until, that is, the next day when we were leaving the ravine again after a quiet walk. A cyclist pulled up beside us on the path to say hello, she had obviously rode by us many times before. We chatted briefly and then as she rode away she left me with this parting shot, “at least there were no coyotes today!”
Coyotes. So my fears hadn’t been crazy after all. If this local woman who spent a lot of time outside thought it was the wild canine who had made that sound, I should probably trust her.
No more than a week later, Shiva and I were walking through a different part of the valley at night. As we wandered from one path to another, I heard the sound reverberating around the river paths on our left. Now there were multiple voices. Eerie voices. This time Shiva’s fur was on end and her ears were on high alert. I decided to turn around and headed back home via a major thoroughfare instead. But I could still hear them through the trees.
It is likely nothing would happen. With Shiva on a leash, I don’t think they are going to take on an adult human as well. Coyotes are reclusive. They avoid people and almost never attack. I gotta say, knowing this and living it are two different things completely. I’ve never heard noises like these before. They freaked me out enough to stay away. In the dim light I am at a disadvantage. As a human I rely primarily on my sight and when that is taken away I fell vulnerable. This is why I have learned to gauge Shiva’s behaviour. If she is upset about something, I take her at her word and exit the scene.
That’s why this morning, when Shiva came to an abrupt stop at a turn in the path, I stopped to listen. When I didn’t see or hear anything, I urged her on. When she refused to move forward and then let out a few barks while staring hard straight ahead, I paid attention. I’ll never know what set her off. It could have been a leaf or a tree branch dipping low under the weight of snow. But I wasn’t sticking around to find out.
Has your dog ever behaved nervously while on a walk? Have you changed your actions as a result? I am typically pretty observant when walking the dog no matter what time of day. Shiva has taught me to watch my surroundings for hidden dangers. Thus, even if she isn’t reacting to something, I am pretty aware. This only makes the rare occasions where she does seem disturbed much more frightening. Maybe it is unnecessary, maybe Shiva is just being the anxious dog she is, but if she tells me she is uncomfortable, I listen. It’s just not worth the chance.
Dear Startled Dog Park Man,
I am sorry I didn’t feel sorry when my dog tore open your flimsy plastic treat bag. Giggling and shrugging were probably not the most considerate responses to my dog’s stealing all of your dehydrated turkey. I know how expensive that stuff is. I forget that most other dogs have manners and don’t see a Ziploc bag waved in their faces as an invitation to destroy. No doubt it is behaviour for which I should feel ashamed.
Perhaps if you hadn’t rewarded my dog for ignoring my recall I would have felt a bit more apologetic in the moment. I realize you were just being generous, but I would ask in the future that if I am calling my dog away, you don’t stop and give her a treat. Doing so only encourages her begging and makes it harder for me to convince her to leave you alone. It would be like someone throwing one hundred dollar bills at you while your boss yells at you to get back to work. On whom would you focus your attention in that scenario? You really did bring it on yourself.
Again, I am truly sorry I my dog ate all of your treats. I am glad they didn’t make her sick.
Your Fellow Dog Walker
I know you haven’t had an easy time of it lately. I know between the cone and the kennel rest and the harassment from the feline you are probably losing some serious shit. All you want to do is play and run around. But you can’t and it sucks. It sucks for us too. I promise if you keep hanging in there, eventually there will be a time you can do this again:
But all work and no sleep makes for very grumpy humans. I don’t like being grumpy. I don’t like locking you in your kennel at night. So if it’s not too much to ask, could you please, please, please settle down nicely tonight?
The Woman Who Controls Your Food Supply
To the So-Called Dog Lover at the Pet Store,
What may have seemed like a rip-off to you actually made my dog much more comfortable during her time of distress. I don’t care if you thought the flexible blue cone was a waste of money. It was cheap, but still far nicer than the horrible, stiff, plastic thing the vet gave us. I don’t appreciate your rude attitude nor do I appreciate you telling my practically husband that spending money on something that might make our dog’s life a little easier is stupid.
You’re stupid. I hope whatever animal you own never has to wear such a thing but if he or she does, I hope you learn the error of your ways.
Your Former Customer
Dear Food Network Canada,
I admit, I have stopped watching you. There was a time I was your biggest fan. I would gleefully rush home after work to make sure I caught the latest installment of Top Chef Canada. And I loved you even more for Bitchin’ Kitchen. Somehow, though, I got over you. Maybe it was all the unnecessary drama over who made the best appetizer out of vending machine snacks. I can’t say why but I’ve tuned out. Your longtime, hardcore fan no longer is even willing to pay the $3.00 a month to watch your network.
That’s right. I don’t get the Food Network anymore. Haven’t for months.
Wanna know one way to recapture my loyalty?
I have this friend. She has this blog, called Kol’s Notes. If you are worth anything you will have heard of it. She comes up with amazingly creative recipes, like these ginger apple and lamb muttballs or these ingenious shepherd’s pie pupcakes. I mean, seriously. She is the Martha Stewart of dogginess. Do you need any more proof than her most recent holiday concoction? Dog treat filled ornaments! Who does that?
A talented woman, that’s who. If your network is worth anything, it would recognize how booming the pet industry is and leap on that bandwagon. I’d like to suggest Ms. Kolchak Puggle as your first doggy chef. Smart, hilarious, and adorable, she is a guaranteed ratings diva.
Think about it.
A Closet Foodie
Dear Kitty Meister,
Before this becomes a habit, let me make one thing clear to you. No amount of scratching, howling, or shrieking at the treat cupboard is going to get you what you want. It may have worked in the past because you are really annoying when you holler at the top of your lungs but no more!
You may think you deserve sympathy due to your advanced age. You are wrong. Nine years is not that old, my furry friend. You are perfectly healthy. Stop the whole pathetic feline act and stop pretending you are starving when you have a full food bowl and when I know your favourite person gave you a handful of kitty crack less than thirty minutes ago.
It is time for an intervention. If you don’t keep your trap shut, I may decide you need to be weaned off the treats completely. Cold turkey. How do you like them apples?
Your Consolation Human
It is almost the holiday season and that means my new favourite pet blogging event is upon us. That’s correct, it is time for the Pet Blogger Gift Exchange, hosted by none other than Something Wagging This Way Comes and I Still Want More Puppies.
Have you signed up yet? Why not? Better get on it before December 1st rolls around and everyone is having fun and making new friends without you.
C’mon… You know you wanna and I wanna get to know you better! So what’s stopping you?
Your biggest fan,
Your Fellow Pet Blogger
Life in one of North America’s most northerly cities of substantial size has more pluses than minuses. I was surprised when I saw just how many varieties of tree live in Edmonton’s river valley. After living thirteen years on the Albertan prairie, a region sparsely forested and then only with cottonwoods, I expected more of the same when my plane landed in July. The dry climate and constant wind of the southern part of the province just doesn’t allow for much greenery. I was then trilled to learn how different the North really is from the South. In more ways than one.
For instance, being along the 53rd parallel means Edmonton receives many more hours of daylight during the summer months than my former city of Halifax. Thus, it follows, now that it is winter, my life looks pretty much like this:
Oh, there are brief periods of sunshine, or so I am told. But I have this habit of blinking and missing them.
I shan’t complain. For one thing, it’s only going to get worse. It is just a bit annoying that every year when I have committed to posting every day for thirty days, the only pictures I have to share look like this:
And no, I didn’t alter the photo to make it look black and white. This is just our world now. Not so much impressive or inspiring.
It just means I am going to have to actually come up with things to say and can’t get away with throwing up a few photos. For this last week, whatever creativity is lurking in the depths of my soul better crawl to the surface. Otherwise it’ll be “Black and White Sunday” every day until the Solstice.
On that happy note, I’d better make like a good Canadian girl and indulge in another of my country’s favourite pastimes – other than ranting about the weather, I mean. It’s Grey Cup day and that means it is time for my obligatory five minute interest in football. Since it is only once a year I suppose I can fake it for a little while. Go Riders?
I know. Even the Shivster finds my enthusiasm overwhelming.
It has come to my attention that I have not expressed in full the amount of anguish we experienced during the night of Shiva’s injury. It is true, I definitely held back. Many things occurred that Sunday evening which I could never divulge. It was just too personal and writing about the pain at this point would provide no benefit to myself or anyone else. However, there is an aspect to the horrific series of events that I do feel is worth imparting. Not in relation to the wound itself, in retrospect it wasn’t as serious as it could have been, more in relation to the treatment.Or the potential lack thereof.
Part of this withholding is no doubt due to shame. In order to be worthy of value in 2013 we are told three things: we must be forever 21, we must be thin, and we must be wealthy. To be anything else puts one in a place of derision. Well, it’s obvious I am not 21 and I wouldn’t be that age again even if it were possible. I am also not particularly thin. But I gave up caring about stupid things like the number on the scale a long time ago. Thinness rates as high on my radar as fashionable. Or being good at tennis. It just doesn’t matter. It’s the third requirement that pokes me in the side and reminds me I am not good enough.
I have made mistakes, there is no question. I own them. It is entirely my fault I am in the financial situation I am in. There were decisions that were made and they probably weren’t the right ones. Kicking myself in the head about them does not solve my current problems. Ducking my head and getting to work does. This is what I think we are doing but it’s going to take some time. Do I wish I could go back and change things so life would be easier now? Sure. I can’t. Does this make me a horrible, worthless human being?
According to some, yes. According to some, maybe I shouldn’t even own a dog at all.
This brings me to that terrifying evening three weeks ago when all of my greatest fears came to a head. Standing in the small examination room, looking down at the quote from the emergency vet, knowing we simply did not have the money to pay. There was no way around it. Could we get the money in the future? Of course. We both have solid jobs, we can sacrifice. But before the vet lifted a hand to stitch Shiva back up, they needed the cash in hand. That second. The clock was ticking.
It was one of the most excruciating moments of my life, knowing that I may not be able to help my poor puppy simply because I didn’t have the money.
Embarrassing? Hell, yes. Mortifying. My tears only made me feel worse but I couldn’t stop them. I had always feared the moment would come and when it did, I was unable to control myself. It felt so hopeless. I mean, what were our options? We either magically came up with $1,300 or… Or, what? There was no second option.
Luckily, we are connected with some pretty amazing people. It took but a few text messages for family and friends to offer their help. I will be grateful for the rest of my life to my practically mother-in-law and my two close friends for being there in a time of desperation. If not for them, I don’t know what we would have done. My mind draws a blank. Now that Shiva’s ordeal is over, this aspect of that night still plagues me. What if we hadn’t had friends or family to whom we could turn? What if we had been alone? What would we have done?
I don’t know. All sudden I felt no different to those who surrender their pets to shelters simply because they can’t afford veterinary care. If we hadn’t been able to pay for Shiva’s surgery that night, that may have been an option. We would have had to bring her home, maybe try to stitch her up ourselves without pain medication and then hope for the best. Euthanasia as a concept was unthinkable. I’d like to think the vet would have forbid it.
But perhaps we wouldn’t have had the wherewithal for even that. Perhaps the only option would have been to bandage Shiva up and drive her to the nearest shelter, pretending we had found her running at large. Perhaps we would have had to lie and pray that someone else could help her. It isn’t beyond the realm of possibility. But it’s a possibility that breaks my heart.
I don’t blame the vet clinic. I want to be clear on that. They do what they have to do and I completely understand why they need the money right away. Even in the depths of despair I did not question this. As the kind assistant explained why they would need financial approval ahead of time, I told her over and over again that I understood, I just didn’t have the money. No amount of pet insurance would have helped, either. Please correct me if I am wrong, but per insurance companies act much like dental insurance. One needs to pay upfront and than receives reimbursement later. It isn’t much help when you don’t have the payment ability in the first place.
Who is to blame? No one.Ourselves, I guess, for being in this situation in the first place. But I know we are not alone.
After going through this nigh traumatizing experience I have to wonder how many other loving pet owners have gone through the same thing. How many others were either forced to euthanize because it was the cheaper option or who felt compelled to abandon their pets outside of a shelter in the hope they would find help in the morning. I can only imagine the fear, and the shame.
For the first time in my entire life, I think I might have a goal. If I ever have money or if I am ever in a place where I can start something, I finally know what I would do. It is now my dream, fantasy, lala land imagining, to start an organization to help people pay for emergency veterinary expenses. I won’t ask questions, I won’t require proof of income or ask to see credit card statements. If someone calls in the middle of the night, saying their dog or cat or bird or guinea pig needs veterinary help and they can’t afford to pay right away, I want to be there to say it will be okay, your pet will be okay.
How many pets would have been kept out of the shelters if such an organization existed? I can’t help but wonder. It’s a huge gap that needs to be filled. One day, I hope I can do my part to lay some concrete.
Gosh, I have been so good with this whole NaBloPoMo thing until now. It’s the first time I really am sneaking in an attempt at writing only slightly before the stroke of midnight. Not bad considering there is only one week left. I’m doing much better than I expected.
I have a good excuse so even if I hadn’t managed to slide open my laptop before Friday ended, I would have given myself a pass. After all, I just spent the last two hours in conversation about art and writing with a literary genius. Well, a literary genius and the 1,699 other people in the audience. Oh, and Alanis Morissette was there too. Regardless, I figure if I just soaked in two hours worth of advice from a woman I have admired since I was a teenager, I can be forgiven for being too spellbound and overwhelmed to have a whole lot to say myself.
Besides, there is something more important going on here than my inner wranglings and my sudden onset of celebrity-star-struckedness. I don’t know if anyone has noticed but there have been a few changes around here. A house-cleaning, if you will – a simplification. The Art of AJ has done it again. Thanks to her magical work, I am so pleased to show off Rescued Insanity – The Next Generation!
Or something much less cheesy.
It’s cleaner, it’s brighter, and it’s a whole lot more comfortable. The new look feels a bit like a liberation. There is so much room to kick off my boots and flail around. The furniture has been pushed aside and it is time to dance! I’ve always flirted with the line between pet blog and personal blog and now I feel like the scenery matches the direction. It’s a new era, in a way, with one hundred percent more authenticity and without losing an ounce of Shiva.
Thank you for sticking with me after all this time. For listening to my stories and hanging in there when they dried up. The Petosphere is a beautiful place. I am so grateful you still consider me a member. And thank you to AJ Emm for putting it all together so quickly. Everyone of you means a lot to me. I definitely could not and would not have pulled through alone.
I am flummoxed. Yes, flummoxed, by a comment I received last week on this post.
Almost as befuddled as Shiva as she wonders why I am taking so long to put on my coat
If you scroll down to the bottom, Jobi, of the terrific Ask-Fisher.com, shared some of the things that have been stressing her out about writing online. I hope she doesn’t mind me bringing this up as it was a perfectly wonderful comment and I am touched she took the time out of her busy day to write it. If she does mind, I am sincerely sorry. I guess if you comment on this site you have to be prepared that one day, I might make it more public than it already is.
But I digress.
The lovely, wonderful comment about which I am speaking and for which I am excessively grateful made mention of the “rules of blogging.” I will allow this to sink in for a moment in the event you are as bemused as I.
Um, am I missing something?
Other than not stealing content and not being an asshat in the comment sections of other blogs, I wasn’t aware there were any “rules.” Besides, neither of those two simple tenets are generally followed, anyway. This is the Internet, right? If creepy Men’s Rights Activists are allowed to post their terrifying diatribes I don’t see why there are any limits at all. Maybe they are more like guidelines?
It would seem I am wrong. A quick search came up with a multitude of rules. Everyone has an opinion, it seems, on what is “good” blogging and what is “bad” blogging. For instance, according to Writer Tank one should never publish a post immediately after writing it. Well, if I never did that I probably would never have written more than a week’s worth of posts. Cuff me, officer. Cristian Mihai, on the other hand, thinks one should “blog often enough, but not too often” – whatever that means – and “use as many social media platforms as possible.” Right, so… None? That’s pretty much what is possible for me at the moment.
I am not being fair. Both of the articles I shared above make excellent points and I am sure they have been helpful for many people seeking their advice. My issue is actually related to semantics. The word “rule” being used to apply to something I do in my spare time, for free, because I enjoy it.
In my world, I relate much more to this post by Ashley Robinson. She encourages the breaking of all the “rules”. Go ahead treat your blog like a business, be a professional, hit up Google + as often as possible, if this is all stuff you want to do to reach a goal you may have. Do it for its own sake; don’t do it because it is how a blogger is “supposed” to behave. I reckon it doesn’t matter if I fill an entire website with things I ate for lunch as long as it pleases me. One day I may just turn my dog blog into a, I don’t know, a blog about monster trucks.
It could happen. Don’t put it past me.
We all have different ideas of what makes a good blog and different reasons for the time we spend online. The only rules that should exist, other than laws against stealing and harassment, are the ones we create for ourselves. The rest just don’t matter.
That’s right I said don’t. But now I am going to adhere to one of the annoying guidelines and end this post with a question. Do you think there are rules to blogging that everyone should follow?
As careful as we will need to be in the future, I really can’t wait until Shiva can do this again.
And most important of all… This.
Maybe by then, we’ll get some sleep at night.