Hello fall, good-bye fall…

It seems like fall just started and now suddenly winter is fast approaching. Looks like I’ve fallen into a seasonal post mode. I hope to change that and post more often, but don’t hold your breath, there are a lot of things that I’d like to change and somehow never get there.

I haven’t been particularly busy, but I have had an exciting fall. Exciting being a matter of opinion to be sure. For me things like a new roof, and a new deck are terribly exciting. The roof was something I’ve wanted to do since I moved in 8 years ago, but kept putting off because of the expense, and I wasn’t having any problems. However, the roof was 25 years old, and I kept getting this nagging feeling that waiting until there were problems wasn’t the best plan. The world being as it is, and turning 60 this summer has given me a bit of a different perspective.

I’ve been an advocate of choosing happiness in my life, in combination with appreciating what I have, but lately I find that I am tending toward the much overused “you only live once” direction (I refuse to use the acronym so get over it). My version of this is to make my life comfortable within reason, for me. That “for me” is the big qualifier. We all have different things we value. I would not judge someone for taking vacations, or their dream trip around the world, or buying a new car every 2 years (or their dream car) if it makes them happy. I am not one to take vacations (in the past 30 years, I’ve taken one vacation) or buy a new vehicles (my car is a 2007), but I’m also not going to deprive myself of experiences or things that I value, like a new roof. Now I wake up every day feeling snug and safe in my home which is a nice feeling and totally worth the cost of a new roof.

In keeping with that idea, the BIG exciting news is that I replaced the deck. It is now much bigger! I chose composite instead of wood, which did cost a pretty penny, but was the best choice for me. I am getting older and the idea of power-washing and staining a deck every year was not something I had any interest in what-so-ever. This thing will be around and looking good long after I’m gone. I did get a bit carried away and enlarged it by more than twice the square footage, but I have zero regrets. It is wonderful and amazing and I love it. Of course my primary motivation was the dogs. My little ones don’t get to run around in the yard because of safety issues, and as a result used the deck as their outdoor space. Now we have a great big outdoor space where we can all hang out with plenty of room for everyone. It makes me smile every single time I look out the windows and see it. I had to make a few of my own adaptations for it to be safe for the littles, which presented a few challenges, but I figured it out. I even got some fake grass and shrubs for everyone to potty on.

Old Deck

New deck

We’ll be spending a LOT of time out here in nice weather, and I have a feeling we’ll be out here in the snow as well. I’ll let you know since I’ll be due for another seasonal post once the white stuff starts to fly.

Summertime 2020

Ok, so I realize it’s been a VERY long time since I’ve posted. For a little while there I seriously considered stopping for good, but I love sharing stories about my weird life living with a big pack of dogs (not to be confused with a pack of big dogs), so here I am again like it or not. I can hardly believe it’s already 4th of July weekend!

Yeah man, where have you been?

Let’s face it 2020 has been weird, unsettling, and just plain nutty, and as a result of some of the weirdness, I’ve been a bit busy sharing advice with family and friends about how to be more hermit-like. Who knew my choice to start a weird hermitish lifestyle would ever actually be considered anything other than weird. Guess it just goes to show, you never can tell.

Since my move here in 2012, and then a few years later my decision to retire and thus embrace a modified version of hermitude, I’ve had a lot of practice staying home, and have pretty much gotten it down to a science. In addition, my pre-retirement 20+ years working in veterinary clinics with sick animals afforded me valuable knowledge about how to avoid spreading nasty viruses, and effective methods of decontamination. Obsessive hand washing became a habit for me years ago at work, and naturally carried over at home because I’ve always lived with a bunch of dogs, so that part was a no-brainer for me.

I’ll admit, washing my groceries was new, but wearing a mask and gloves was another thing I was already used to. The only difference was wearing them out in public. When I was still working, I wore them daily in the surgical suite and lab. For me the “new normal” has been more of a process of adapting current routines and habits toward be even more cautious, as opposed to having to adopt an entirely different lifestyle.

Unlike most of my friends and family, my life hasn’t changed much. For the past several years I’ve ordered most anything, and everything I need on-line, including groceries. I avoid leaving home unless I really want or need to. Not because I have a fear of leaving home or because I am particularly antisocial, but because I just prefer to be home. I am quite content to spend my time at home, and alone (well as alone as one could be living with a houseful of critters). I have everything I need, and spend my time tending to my little non-human family, which takes up a lot of my day. In between my mopping, sweeping, laundry, poop duty, more laundry, and then a little more laundry, I spend my time reading, streaming movies and TV shows, baking bread, or dog treats (yes I’m one of those people), and relaxing outside on my deck with the dogs enjoying our quiet neighborhood, while they all sprawl out and sun themselves.

Besides, nowadays with the internet, social media, the good old fashioned telephone, and other cool things like Face Time and Zoom, I can visit with my human family and friends from the comfort of my home! An added plus is that my dogs don’t have to be left home alone while I socialize. I never get lonely because I have a houseful of living creatures to keep me company, talk to and laugh with (ok mostly at), and cuddle with if I need a hug.

Since March my only forays out of my home have been a few necessary trips to the veterinary clinic. Going to the vet is different now too – when I arrive in the parking lot, I call to let them know I’m there, a masked tech comes to the car to get the dog, and takes them into the clinic while I remain in the car. The vet does her exam, and calls me to discuss options. When the visit is finished, the receptionist calls for my credit card info, and the tech brings the dog back out to my car. It was different, but because I totally trust the staff at the animal hospital, I didn’t mind it at all, and if I’m being honest I kind of liked it. I was also assured that if necessary, I could accompany one of my dogs into the clinic. What more could I ask for?

“What more could you ask for? Food, yes, food would be nice. You could always ask for food.”

To give you an example of how truly little I was going anywhere involving driving my car, my battery died! This wasn’t the first time has this happened to me. It happened a few winters ago, when I was doing my winter hibernation hermit thing. After that incident I had a trickle charger installed on my battery, so this time it was just a matter of hooking it up. I did learn my lesson, and was reminded that considering how little I do drive, I should probably keep it hooked up to the trickle charger. The whole point is to prevent the battery from dying in the first place, and if the battery does die it takes a few days for the trickle charger to get it fully charged.

I hope everyone has a happy 4th, is feeling safe, finding whatever happiness they can, and remembering to appreciate whatever positive things they have in their lives no matter how small. We all know 2020 has been a challenge so far, but it’s half over. That’s something to be grateful for.

Poop-poop-de-doop!

I was picking up some dog poop for the upmteenth time today, when I suddenly realized that I’ve most likely picked up tons of dog poop over the years.  I mean literally TONS.  What a strange thought, and yes I probably do need to get out more.   So, how is it that I think I have literally picked up tons of dog poop? (asked no one, ever.)

Why are you talking about this?

For starters, I’ve been picking up poop for 40 years!  Yeah sure, anyone who has owned dogs for a long time could say the same thing, but I’m talking professional pooper scooper level here.  I worked in a boarding kennel from  1979 to 1983 and my main job was cleaning kennels, which we all know means poop duty, for multiple dogs, multiple times a day.

Seriously, no one cares.

In 1986 I started vet-tech school, and got a job working part time at the county humane society, and my main job once again, was cleaning kennels for multiple dogs, multiple times a day.  I graduated from tech school in 1989, and worked in vet clinics, and with rescue groups until 2012.  As a tech I cleaned kennels on the job, and once I started fostering multiple rescue dogs I had a lot of poop duty at home too.

Presently, I’ve lived with no less than 15 dogs since 2005…once again poop duty for multiple dogs, multiple times a day.  That all adds up to a whole LOT of poop, people!!  And let me be clear here – I don’t let dog poop sit in my yard – ever.  I clean up after my dogs immediately, whether it’s outside, or on potty pads (or not) inside.

Are you still talking about this?

I’m thinking this has to add up to at least a ton of poop, right?   Right? Hello? Never mind, I need to go pick up poop again…and I really do need to get out more, obviously.

 

 

It’s always something…

Many of you will remember the whole futon debacle of last year.  Ferris (aka destructodog) disemboweled not just one, but two futon mattresses during his teenage rebellious months.  Thank goodness with dogs the “terrible teens” lasts months instead of years.  I really don’t know how parents do it.

Ferris worked very hard on his project.

My solution was to have a futon free family room.  This meant no upholstered furniture, and I quickly learned, not any soft dog beds or pillows, lest our naughty friend get any ideas in his little tiny brain.

This is what happens to pillows, and yes that is Ferris in the middle of the mess. He tried to implicate Huck in his scheme, but it didn’t work. I knew who was responsible.

I had to resort to hard plastic dog beds with blankets inside to make them more comfy.  For almost a year now the family room furniture (and I use the term furniture very loosely) has consisted of plastic dog beds, crates stuffed with blankets, and a few spare blankets on the floor.  I had a plastic lawn chair to sit on, with another available if I had a guest willing to succumb to the mob of dogs.   Let’s put it this way, as long as any human brave enough to enter the doggie domain leaves the area covered in dog hair and saliva, the dogs feel their mission has been accomplished.

I did attempt to use a spare airbed that lasted about 30 minutes before it was flattened into a large plastic pancake (yeah, I know, dumb idea).

Really dumb idea

Earlier this spring I ordered a twin bed frame that sets up like a cot, and a child’s mattress – both were inexpensive, and with my Amazon points, cost me a grand total of about $25.  I figured at that price I could afford to experiment.  Fear got the better of me, and I let them both sit in boxes in my front hall for about 3 months fretting over whether or not I should risk having Ferris ruin another mattress, and dreading the possible issues with putting the frame together.  It had been several years since putting together the futon frames, but I remembered it involving tools and some swearing.

Last week I decided it had been long enough.  I was hoping maybe Ferris had grown out of his destructodog phase.  The bed frame took a whole 5 minutes to set up (boy did I feel stupid for worrying about that!)  The mattress is an inner spring, instead of foam or other more tempting to destuff material.  So far so good.  I have been closely monitoring Ferris when he’s in the family room, and he hasn’t seemed very interested in the mattress, other than napping on it!   It’s also usually covered in other dogs, so maybe that helps too.  The dogs all missed having a nice comfy bed to share, and now everyone is much happier, most of all ME!!!

Sharing the love

Ok, so you probably think this is going to be about sharing love with my dogs.  While I do enjoy doing just that on a daily basis, this is about something else.

I was recently invited to write a guest blog post for my very favorite Podcast – Experience 50 with Mary Rogers.  I was honored and thrilled to be her first listener blogger!

If you are middle-aged, and aren’t listening to Experience 50, then stop what you’re doing and go listen RIGHT NOW!  Ok, maybe finish reading this and then go listen, but seriously, don’t wait too long because you are missing out on something spectacular!  I love this woman.  She asks intelligent questions of her guests, and covers topics pertinent to all of us in the throes of middle-age.  Besides, just her voice alone is addictive, and her humor is hilarious.

Give it a try you won’t regret it, I promise!

https://www.experience50.com/

Summer

Wow, I haven’t posted anything since winter, how embarrassing, and here it is, nearing the last week of June already.   My, where does the time go?   Oh well, I suppose there’s no use fretting about it.  Time marches on!

I lost a few of the senior members of crew over the winter.  Losing a dog just plain sucks.  It never gets easier, no matter how appropriate the decision may be to say good-bye.  Because of my unique circumstances living with different versions of a rather large pack for the last 15 years, and prior to that, my career in various roles in dog welfare, I’ve been through it more times than I care to remember.

Everyone grieves differently, and I would never dream of telling someone else how to feel about the loss of a furry loved one.  Some people want to adopt another pet right away.  I’m all for that, as long as it’s clear that the new pet is not a replacement to fill the emptiness, and instead is a way to share love once again.  Some people feel that getting another pet would be disrespectful to the pet they’ve lost.  Some are so heartbroken they vow to never have another pet.  There is no right or wrong way, all I can say is to give yourself a little time to feel your feelings and do what you need to honor the pet you’ve lost, and then see if you can open your heart again.

I try not dwell on it, I grieve in my own private way, and move forward.  For me, having multiple dogs helps me through the pain.  We all still feel the loss, but we have each other to turn to for comfort .  Again, speaking personally, knowing my remaining dogs need me to be there for them, helps me to avoid wallowing in my grief.  As is often the case, I take my cues from the dogs – they live in the present, and life goes on.   Ok, enough sadness…

It’s been a cool and wet summer around here so far.  My flowers are doing well with all of the rain.  I’ve fed them a few times in hopes of more blossoms, but I haven’t had to water them much so far.

         

The dreary weather means dogs haven’t had too many opportunities to lay in the sun on the deck, but it we’re all hoping that changes soon.  Meanwhile, a warm blanket straight from the dryer on the floor will suffice.

Frankie, Huck, Tjarlie, Ferris, and Cubby

Happy New Year!

I must admit that I am more than happy to start the new year.  Don’t get me wrong, for the most part 2018 was just fine… up until the end, specifically just before Christmas week.

Thinking back, maybe I should have taken it as some sort of omen when I had no desire in the weeks leading up to Christmas to decorate the house, or bake, or do any of the usual Christmasy things.

My Christmas decorating this year consisted of bringing in the artificial Christmas tree in it’s bag from the garage, setting the bag down in the dining room, leaving it there for 3 weeks, and carrying it back out to the garage.

I didn’t even listen to any of my usual Christmas CD’s.   I did watch a few Christmas movies, but not all of my favorites, and most importantly, I skipped “It’s a Wonderful Life”.  Yeah, I should have known something wasn’t right.

Then, the week just prior to Christmas, I was slammed with a massive migraine headache.  I haven’t had a doozy like that for years.  It lasted 3 days, and just when I thought I was out of the woods, I got food poisoning (or so I thought).   It seemed to be subsiding, but then OH NO!

Just when I thought I was out…it pulled me back in (thank you, Michael Corleone). It slowly dawned on me that maybe what I actually had was the stomach flu.

Each day brought new and interesting adventures.  What will it be today?  Fever? Nausea? Diarrhea? Vomiting?  Maybe some sort of new combo we haven’t had yet?   Turns out, the possibilities were endless!  Can I eat today? NOPE!  Nice try – hahahaha silly girl, here’s more diarrhea for ya!

Are you feeling ok mom?

I began a very close and personal 10 day relationship with my toilet.  It was there for me when I needed it, every time, without fail.  “Come to me my weary friend, and rest your hot feverish brow on my cool white porcelain.”  I felt I was in good hands with the porcelain prince, and my beloved bed (a.k.a. my sleep nest).  My sleep nest is the only cure when I have a migraine, so over the years we have established a strong emotional bond.  Yes, between the two of them, I was well cared for.  We spent a lot of time together this Christmas season.

This may sound odd, but believe me, given the choice, I’d take the hell of that stomach flu over a bad migraine, any day.   The pain with a migraine is relentless.  At least with the flu, in between bouts of visiting my beloved porcelain prince, and napping, or more accurately, collapsing in a heap in my nest, I could tend to the needs of the dogs, cats, and birds.  I think it goes without saying that house work was LOW priority (but truth be told that’s nothing new).  General messiness, and floating dog hair is just kind of a given around here.

The dogs were incredibly good.  They were quiet, cooperative, there to cuddle when I needed it, and overall quite attentive to me.  Or maybe they just appreciated that I finally figured out what being a member of the pack really means… sleeping as much as possible during the day.  Whenever I would sit with them after stumbling out of the bedroom they would all gather around to carefully smell me.  People kept telling me “Oh, they know you’re  sick and want to take care of you!” 

Uhhh, maybe, or maybe they just liked it that after several days without a shower I was, let’s say, rather pungent…”Mmmm, you smell really bad mom, but you know, in a good way!  Let me take another whiff just for good measure.  Yep, stinky stuff, awesome!  You really are becoming one of us!”

I was still in bed on Christmas Eve, and all day on Christmas day too.  It was the suckiest Christmas ever *cue violins*

My totally pathetic Christmas dinner

POOOOR me.  Nah, not really.  I had everything I needed, including family and friends checking up on me by phone.  I just hunkered down and waited it out.  It was unpleasant, but I mean, it had to end at some point right?  RIGHT! And it did! Whew!  I am happy to report that I am now fully recovered, and it is all just a sad memory.

Lesson learned.  Next year I plan to start decorating for Christmas immediately after Halloween.

 

Everybody loves Nemo

This week we celebrated the 6 year anniversary of Nemo’s “gotcha” day.  The day that I adopted him from Wright-Way Rescue.  I have since adopted several wonderful dogs from Wright-Way, but Nemo was the first.

Nemo’s adoption photo. Awww, how cute and he was so little!

His litter had been given Christmas names like holly, wreath, candy-cane etc.   They must have run out of creative ideas because Nemo’s original name was Ornament…really? Ornament?   Ok, well not really a problem since I always change rescue dogs names when I adopt them.  One of our mottos here in The Land of Misfit Dogs is “new life, new name!”

I’ll admit I did name him after the fish from the movie Finding Nemo.  He was the same colors, and it seemed to fit him.  Nemo is very sweet, and friendly with people and dogs alike.  He is a favorite with people who visit.  You can see the sweetness in his face.

       

Probably the thing I love most about him is seeing how much the other dogs love him.

 

Truly, everybody loves Nemo…