Tuesday, July 16, 2013

This Thing Called Life

So much has been going on since I last posted that I'm  not even going to write a long introduction. In fact, I think I may even use a list format so I don't forget anything.
News 1:  I got a treatment room in a Pilates studio so I can work as a massage therapist. I love the room and the people and now all I need are some clients. Originally, I was going to write this big long post about how excited I am, but there is more to say. So, just know that I am super excited and can't wait to have my first client.
News 2: Mr. K is in the hospital. He went in with what we suspected was an inflamed gall bladder, but now I have no idea what's going on. He had an MRI last night and he was supposed to get the results back this morning. Maybe he did, or maybe he didn't. I have no idea because they aren't allowed to tell you anything over the phone. All I know is that they switched him to a different ward. This worries me since he was just moved to the ward he was in. So, now I wait until visiting hours tonight and hope he's okay. I've had some pretty amazing people helping me out with getting to him and bringing him things. They even bought him some TV time yesterday.

News 3: I may have someone to run/cycle/maybe run a triathlon with. Problem is he's got bad knees, his wife is due in September and so both things will restrict him; understandably of course. But, either way, it's good.

News 4: I switched my dissertation topic slightly and now I am focusing on elite, disabled athletes who have either service or guide dogs. I think I may already have a few participants. So, that's good.
There. That's my news. I certainly could have gone into greater detail with any of those topics, but each one in and of itself would be a novel, never mind if I tried to write about them together.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

"Won't You Be My Neighbour?"

I'm Canadian: that's my excuse. We're a caring and giving people who must be sure that everyone is safe and sound. Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Yesterday was a fun filled day of Jess trying to be a good neighbour. I think my first attempt was a bit more successful than the second, but I'll let you be the judge of that.
On my way home from the gym in the afternoon I happened to run into an older man that I used to chat with when out walking the dogs. He himself had three dogs, but in the last year and a half or so all three have crossed over rainbow bridge; the last one passing just over a week ago. He was so sad and was quite choked up when talking to me. He kept saying, "Oh, I won't keep you," but I just had Nala sit and let him talk until he seemed talked out. He told me about how he was still going through his ordinary routine of opening the back door to the yard for the dog and even walking some of the routes he used to take with them. He lives alone and I don't think he has any kids and I started to worry about him. A lot of times when elderly people's pets pass away, the person becomes withdrawn and depressed; they have nothing to do anymore. Their company is gone too. As he talked I began wracking my brain for a way to help and it suddenly occurred to me that he could walk one of our dogs. He knew the two little ones and had petted them before. I thought Hermione might be a bit too high energy for him, but that walking Otis would be perfect. When I asked him if he would want to walk Otis, I think he was a bit speechless, but recovered quickly and sounded very excited. He asked where he could find us and what times of the day worked for us. I really hope he comes and takes Otis out. Not only do I think Otis would enjoy it, but I really think it could help our fellow dog lover. I know how attached to animals I am, I can't imagine being without a dog. At his age, I'm not sure he would even get a new one. So, if he can borrow one of ours and it helps, then I will make sure Otis is always ready to go.
My second adventure as a good neighbour went a little awry.
Later in the evening, I took Hermione and Otis out for a much needed relieve time. It's been warmer here the last couple of days than any of us are used to and so water consumption has increased; for dogs and humans alike. This also means more frequent bathroom trips for the little dogs. I just don't think their bladders can hold as much or for as long as the bigger dogs. On the way down to the cycling trail, I thought I heard someone shouting, but just brushed it off. With it being so warm and sunny out, everyone's outside or have their  windows opened. I was down on the trail for about ten minutes. The dogs probably didn't need that much time, but it was nice out and I was enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. Even at six in the evening the sun is still warm here. As I returned from the trail, I could hear the shouting again which grew louder the closer I got to my flat building. At my front door I paused and listened for a minute.
My initial thought when first heading out was that someone, or a few someones, were having some "afternoon delight" and had forgotten their windows were open; or maybe just didn't care that the windows were open. As I stood outside of my building though, it sounded more like someone was in pain-as if an elderly woman was having a heart attack.  I instantly began to worry because there is an elderly woman who lives alone below us.
I went in and told Mr. K about my concerns and he said I should knock on her door. So, I ran back down and rang the doorbell with no response. I stuck my ear against the door and could only hear water dripping. Becoming even more worried, I went back up and told him. I said that I thought I should call an ambulance, but that I was worried that I was being a nosy neighbour. What if she wasn't even home and I had misheard?
Mr. K pointed out that if anything happened to him that he hoped he had a nosy neighbour and I picked up the phone.
I was on the phone for about ten minutes, describing the situation and going back down and listening at her door again. Eventually, Mr. K went down and shouted through her mail slot, but she still didn't answer. He went outside to see if he could hear anything and heard the shouting, but he said it was more low key than I had described.
An ambulance and cops were dispatched and Mr. K and I waited outside for them to arrive.
The ambulance came first, with the sirens off thankfully. We chatted a minute and they went in and knocked on her door, calling her name.
To my complete embarrassment, the elderly woman that I had sworn was having a heart attack opened her flat door. The paramedics explained what was going on and she said that it hadn't been her shouting. She was quite well. So well, in fact, that she had been in her bathroom smoking weed which is probably why she hadn't heard Mr. K and I knocking and calling for her. Despite my mistake,  she was grateful that we had been concerned. After confirming once again that she was fine and that she was not having a party, the paramedics, Mr. K and I trooped back outside to face the numerous cops arriving on the scene. I couldn't believe how many they had sent. An entire van unloaded about eight cops and more arrived in pairs, driving cars. In total, there had to have been at least twelve police officers standing outside of our building. Just to add to it all, one of the officers who had come to my flat earlier that week to take my statement about an out of control dog who tried to attack Nala, was a part of the team.
We're going to get a reputation.
The whole story was re-hashed, but we explained that we had ruled out the elderly woman in our building. (No one mentioned the weed). The cops began wandering around asking people out for their nicotine fixes and it was concluded that the noises that I had confused with a woman in pain and dying was instead two older women having some private time that wasn't so private. One of their neighbours explained this happened a lot. The cops seemed annoyed, but after feeling a bit embarrassed, I thought it was funny.
The woman that I was so worried about was happily and safely, smoking weed in her flat and the two women who had caused the whole thing came out to sit on their front steps and have a smoke while irritated police officers clamored back in to their many vehicles.
The paramedics were the nicest and told us a story where they had climbed over a back fence and broke into a house because a landlord thought his tenants were in distress. That scenario ended with the paramedics actually busting in on the couple, despite them shouting the whole way into the house. We  laughed and I did feel better. The one paramedic patted me on the arm as they left and even though things had gone a bit askew, I'd rather that it ended this way instead of the elderly woman actually having a heart attack or a fall. I always think it's better to be safe than sorry and I'm glad I called because you just never know.
So, will stop being a nosy neighbour?
I told you: I'm Canadian. I can't help it. ;)

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Happy Belated Barkday to Our French Pig

Our little boy is all growed up. He's probably quadrupled in size since we brought him home last October. The little puppy blanket I made for him that he used to be wrapped up in only fits over his butt now. And, he celebrated his first birthday on July fourth.
Otis, the French Bulldog who thinks he's a pig, is a year old.
It's really hard to believe. It used to be that he hated going for walks and after only five minutes of walking we'd have to carry him. Now, he walks for as long as you do without complaint and even if he did complain, you wouldn't be able to carry him very far. I'm not entirely sure how much he weighs exactly, but it's got to be over 20 LBS. I once smuggled him into the grocery store under my coat because he was too small to leave at home and Mr. K wasn't at home. There's no way he'd fit under my coat now. I know with some puppies you look back and relish their puppy days, but are thankful they are over in some ways. But, with Otis, it's not really that way at all.
He was the easiest puppy we've ever had the pleasure of having as a part of our family. His personality hasn't even really changed at all. He's still a laid back, love everybody kind of guy. He's just bigger. But as I said above, I'm not entirely sure where the time has gone. How did he grow up so fast?
Happy belated birthday, French Pig. XOXO

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Eleven Years

When I woke up this morning I remembered what day it was, but for some reason writing this post took me nearly all day. It wasn't because I didn't have anything to say, but rather because the words I wanted to say sounded hollow and cliche. They're words I've written on this day since this blog started; or at least, most years on this day since this blog started. And so, I wondered how exactly do you say the same thing without it being cliche or insincere year after year? But then I began to think that it needed to be written and that it didn't matter how it came out. Because, really, this post isn't cliche or hollow to me. It's my yearly tribute to the little Black Labrador who changed my life eleven years ago today.
I didn't know how to say thank you in such a way that it seemed fresh and new. But then, I thought that this post really is for me and Jetta. So, even if it doesn't seem fresh and new to someone else, it is no less heart felt. So, here it is.
Thank you Jetta for teaching me to be the dog handler I am today. Thank you for putting up with my blunders and thank you for doing so many crazy things without batting an eyelash. Thank you for trusting me and for teaching me to trust you. I have so many great memories of some of the more grandiose things we did together, like climbing in ancient Greek ruins,; whale watching; "seeing" the Grand Canyon together; traveling to so many places I can hardly count them all. But, I also have great memories of the every day things. And, it's these things that I am most thankful for.
Sure, watching you race along a beach in Denmark was pretty impressive, but you guiding me from curb to curb every day, finding doors/chairs/elevators for me, you navigating the bustling university campus, and you lying patiently on the pool deck for the second time in a day for me are the things that made you a truly amazing guide dog. Your ability to go out three to four times a day because my crazy schedule demanded it is certainly noteworthy. Thank you for loving me in your Jetta way and thank you for being there for me when I felt alone. Thank you for guiding me down the aisle when I was a bride's maid for one of my best friends and thank you for making it possible for me to walk a straight line and carry a cup of coffee to class all at once.
So, what is it you say to a dog that you've tried to appreciate at least once every year for eleven years straight?
You say thank you and you hope that somehow that your beautiful black firecracker knows that the six years she dedicated to keeping you safe were one of the best gifts any being could have given another.
Thank you Jetta. Here's to eleven years and hoping for more. XOXOXOXO

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

I Scream, You Scream, We all Scream For...

That's right, folks. Our crew don't go crazy for ice cream. They tear the walls down for some good ol' carrots. Don't you parents out there wish your kids fought you for their veggies? Mine do...
Yesterday I put a roast in the slow cooker for dinner. We all know that I'm a terrible cook, but when it comes to the slow cooker, I'm not half bad. Last night's masterpiece was a pleasant surprise, but before Mr. K and I got to "tuck in" (as they say in the UK) to the tasty roast, gravy, pearl potatoes and carrots, I had to prepare the whole thing.
For a meal that was so delicious it really didn't take very long to prepare. I make a pretty good stew/soup combination we call "stoup" that takes me about an hour to get all together because of all of the chopping and dicing involved. Prep time for the roast took about 25 minutes and cutting the potatoes in half is what took the longest.
When I'm in the kitchen, most of the animals are watching what I'm up to. I'm sure it's to make sure I don't burn the place down, or perhaps, its to catch whatever I drop. Nala is the best for not begging or watching and I give her puppy walkers (AKA puppy raisers) credit for that. Hermione and Rufio perch on the arm of the couch nearest the kitchen and keep their watch from on high. Roscoe stands just outside the kitchen doorway and Otis firmly plants himself on my feet. He's a French Pig, what can I say? Yesterday was no different. Hermione and Rufio on couch arm duty; Roscoe patrolling the entrance and Otis guarding the interior.
After washing, peeling and chopping the carrots I realise that I had way too many. I'm a huge proponent of raw feeding and although we don't do it due to lack of space, I still give all animals, except Nala, bits of raw meat, fruits and vegetables. Nala's food refusal is so good, I don't want to change that by introducing her to the tasty world of carrots. Having too many carrots chopped up, I figured I'd share them between the creatures who can have carrots. I gave Roscoe the biggest chunks and gave Otis the skinnier pieces so he could fit them in his French Piggy mouth. Hermione's a good chewer so I wasn't worried about what sizes/shapes she got. The way they scarfed the carrots down was a bit startling, but even more so was how insistent Rufio was about having carrot.
How many cats eat vegetables? Meat I understand, but he was almost more excited about the prospect of carrot than the dogs were.
As I was having everyone sit and stay and passing them their carrot pieces, Rufio was sitting on my feet, meowing loudly and reaching for my hand with his front paws. His front toes are surprisingly dexterous.  Finally, when I realised that he wasn't giving up, I sliced a small chunk of carrot into even smaller pieces and gave him one, totally expecting him to spit it out. I was wrong. He sucked it down and asked for more by grabbing my fingers with his toes and licking my hand until I gave him another. This went on until all carrot was consumed and all parties satisfied that it was most certainly gone. In some respects you have to watch animals and carrots because they are high in natural sugars, but on the other hand, at least they're eating carrots and not manufactured, preservative/grain filled  treats. If my animals, cats included, want to fight me for carrots, I say, "go ahead" because there are worse things they could be eating.

Bloggie Notes: 
PS: Liz, one of our readers, is Nala's sister's puppy walker and her recently qualified dog-Nala's sister Pippa-is going to be featured in a TV show tomorrow. I think I was interviewed as a potential candidate for the show when I had Glacier, but he had just retired when they had contacted me...don't think I cut the bill. LOL The show is called "Me and My Guide Dog" and it is going to be on ITV. Please watch . Do you think this means that Nala is famous by proxy? ;) It is so exciting and congratulations to Liz.
PPS: Marie gave us a Leapster award, but for some reason the internet has decided that I can't see her page. So, thanks Marie. 
Wow, I haven't had "bloggie notes" in a long time. Again, make sure you watch Pippa and her handler on ITV tomorrow night-JUly third. The program is called "Me and My Guide Dog," just incase you forgot in the last three sentences.