Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘dogs’ Category

Ah spring. The snow is melting and it no longer over my head everywhere on the lawn. Plus, as I walked around the block with Jasper, we discovered many interesting things have been uncovered by the receding snow. His favourite: an old piece of bread, yum. My favourite: a dirty diaper. It’s my favourite because when I said, “Leave it!” he actually did.

I missed my dog. The children could come to the hospital and visit me, but not the dog. And when I came home for visits, the kids got that I’d come back again soon, but not the dog. He sat at the back door and cried when I left.

He’s definitely worse for wear after two months without me. Since J could not leave him at home alone all day, friends of ours took him and kept him for the entire time, except some weekends. They love him dearly and I felt guilty taking him back. The guilt is lessened by the fact that in a month they will be getting their own puppy, a red male mini-doodle which, as far as I can tell, will look like Jasper Jr. But even though they love him, they did not know how to brush him. His grooming brush has a special technique that I never bothered to show anyone else. As a result, he is filled with mats in his long, long hair. J wants to take him to a groomer and have him shaved, but I refuse. I’m fixing him, damn it.

Here Asher and my brother demonstrate what happens to people who sit on the couch Jasper considers to be his:

Read Full Post »

Jasper recently graduated from Intermediate dog training and they like to make a big fuss of it, kind of like kids graduating from kindergarten. They hand out graduation hats and line us up for photographs. Fortunately, Maya came with me and could help with photos, because who can resist this silliness? (Well, Jasper, for one, definately resisted.)

j2.jpg

j3.jpg

j4.jpg

j1.jpg

Success!

j6.jpg

Read Full Post »

In this episode: kid health, dog obedience and fat loss –

Maya is pretty much healed now, and stuffing everything not nailed down into her face to make up for those few days she could not eat properly. We now have an appointment at an orthodontist for the next step: braces. Ugh.

Asher doesn’t have an appointment with the tummy guy until March, but I’m rattling cages and trying to get it earlier. Meanwhile, he continues to eat normally and I continue to wince inwardly and resist the urge to web surf for answers I can only actually get from the doctor.

My mission to stop Jasper from becoming an annoying and humpy dog at the park is actually coming along very well. He still tries it when he first encounters one of his favourite dogs, but pretty much all I have to do is yell: “I’m watching you, so don’t even try it!” and he stops. If he starts in again, I leash him and that really calms him down.

Yesterday, I walked with another woman who has a doodle the same age, and the two of them acted like very badly behaved teenage boys. Every time they encountered a dog smaller or younger than them, they’d charge the poor thing. The other dog would sit on it and Jasper would yank ears and tails. Usually calling them off would do it, but once they ran ahead to a young Golden and were really knocking the poor thing around in their exuberance, and would not listen to orders to leave him. So I managed to get in front of Jasper and yelled, “Jasper, STOP!” at which he came to a screaming halt and lowered his head in that ashamed doggy way.

I find that lately he’s taken another cognitive leap with me and understands a great deal of what I want from him. For example, when we walk around the neighbourhood, I don’t leash him and there is one spot where we walk on the sidewalk on a busy road to cross at a certain spot for the park. He normally walks right behind me then, but a couple of times he’s jumped the gun and start to cross early. The first time, I was so surprised I said, “Hey! Get back here!” and to my amazement, he did. He does not understand the words “hey get back here” but he understood my intent. And while he will roam into the road on the side streets, when he sees a car coming, he now goes straight to the side and stays still until it passes (because I make him wait whenever a car goes past.)

See – the smartest dog ever.

As for Weight Watchers, so far so good. I lost 4.5 lbs the first week and I know I’m down a bit more so far this week. Thanks to all the dog walking, I get enough points that I don’t feel particularly deprived (so far). But I am aware that I am still in the weight loss honeymoon period and the difficult stuff is yet to come.

Read Full Post »

I have a cold. This is Asher’s fault. He is fine now. Boo has it too, which she was clearly hoping for. From the moment Asher got sick and therefore started getting preferential sick-person treatment, she would cough weakly now and then and say, “I think I’m sick. Do I have a fever?”

Boo is obsessed with fevers and wants to take her temperature at the slightest sniffle or stomach ache. I told her that normally colds don’t come with fevers and she was shocked. “You mean, you can be sick without having a fever?” This opens up a whole new world.

The funny thing about her thermometer fetish (which Asher shares) is that J and I are firm non-believers in thermometers. We have two – a digital one and an old-fashioned mercury one which we’ve had for many years. When Maya was born, we took her in to our doctor for her 2-week checkup and asked if being good parents required buying one of those fancy ear-thermometers that had just hit the market.

Her response was an unqualified no. She told us that her opinion, as a mom of three, was that thermometers are largely useless. “Taking the baby’s temperature is just something to do to give you a few moments to try to figure out what to do when you already know something is wrong,” she told us.

We quickly figured out she was right. If a kid was hot, but cheerfully running around dripping snot on everything, we didn’t worry. If the same fever came with lethargy and no appetite, we were off to the doctor.

The only time I ever really need a thermometer is when I am sick, so I can prove it to J, who never believes me.

—————————————————————–

Despite feeling like my head is wrapped in thick cotton, I am off to Jasper’s last class of intermediate doggy training. I’ll remember to bring a camera this time, to get a photo of him with his little hat on. They go nuts with the whole ‘graduation’ notion.

He now knows how to heel, but doesn’t much like it, and to stand, wait, go lie on his blanket on command (that one still needs a lot of work) and touch a ball and a rope on command. He can discern between the two, which is a good parlor trick. Even better is that no matter what I pick up, if I hold it in my hand and tell Jasper to touch it -“Jasper, touch hairbrush” – he will reach out and touch whatever I am holding, which makes him look brilliant like he knows all these words.

It reminds me of when Maya was about 14 months old and learned the colour yellow. We’d hold stuff up and say, “Maya, what colour is this?” and she’d yelled delightedly, “Lellow!” This looked brilliant unless you help up something blue, because she’d still yell “Lellow!”

Read Full Post »

My lovely doggy is being a bad boy. It started a couple of months ago, when I started walking with a nice woman and her nice Golden/Newfie mix, Max. We would find ourselves at the dog park at the same time a lot, and the dogs are both only a year old, so all seemed good. Only Jasper developed a obsession with Max. He is madly in love with Max.

Whenever we meet up, Jasper starts pulling on Max’s ears and biting his butt. He even has tried nipping at Max’s heels. Incessantly – in a desperate bid to get Max to play with him. (Jasper loves nothing more than to be chased, and indicates this with bum-biting.) But worst, he humps poor Max as often as he can. Since Max has problems with one back leg, that is bad. And just generally annoying. The humping really kicks in if Max dares to pay attention to any other dogs, as though Jasper is trying to make it clear that Max is his and his alone.

We hadn’t run into Max and his mom for a little over a month, and then when we were at the dog park on Saturday, in this huge field with at least 100 other dogs. Jasper suddenly darted away from me through the crowd and, sure enough, he’d spotted Max.

I was putting up with it – we’d joke about Jasper’s stalker behaviour – but then I walked with a former teacher of Maya’s, who happens to have an aged Golden. The Golden didn’t feel like running after Jasper, who responded by becoming utterly annoying and tormenting the poor old guy, pulling and biting at him, and then he started with the stupid humping. The Golden and his mommy were less than amused.

I realized his annoying behaviour is getting worse and I don’t want one of those dogs that everyone else at the park talks about – “Can you believe she lets him do that?” So today when we ran into Max, the moment Jasper started being annoying, I grabbed him and put him back on his leash, forcing him to walk close to me for a bit. Then I let him off and he went straight for Max again. Back on the leash. Repeat.

Teaching him to distinguish between his ball and his rope, then touch the correct one on command is far more fun, I have to say. And way cuter.

Read Full Post »

Guess where I was at that time last night? I was walking through a huge park near here. A year ago, if you’d told me I’d be having a nice stroll through the park in the middle of the night in winter, I’d have thought you were completely bananas. But Jasper and I didn’t get our walk yesterday and he started begging. He makes his wishes very clear.

So off we went. I got the coolest things for the bottom of my boots. They make it very easy to walk on ice, so I can stomp confidently over anything.

The reason I wanted to go to the park was so that Jasper could run around off-leash. Of course, the by-law says he’s not allowed in the park at all, but I figured there wouldn’t be too many by-law officers hanging around at that time in winter. It did occur to me that, being a woman, walking in a deserted park late at night might not be considered to be a particularly smart move, but I figured I had the dog as apparent security (I call it apparent, because if anyone appeared remotely threatening, Jasper would come and hide behind my legs). Also, I have these impressive metal studs on my boots, and since Jasper was off-leash, I had his leash in my hands – a nice flexible rope with a big metal clip on the end of it. I was quite willing to whack anyone who bothered me. As it was, I saw no one.

————————————————————————

I’ve been watching the first season of The Dog Whisperer. I think Cesar Millan is cool, although it isn’t necessarily the way I’d do things. I’ve watched a lot of shows made by another dog guru called Stanley Coren, who was dealing with doggy psychology when Cesar was in diapers. His show did exactly the same thing – help people deal with messed up dogs. Naturally, they face some very similar problems and deal with them in completely opposite manners.

For example, if you take a dog who fears something irrationally, like the noise of a vacuum cleaner, Cesar would turn it on and force the dog to stay in the room, then make the dog get closer and closer, himself staying completely calm, until the dog realizes there is nothing to fear and relaxes. By not reassuring the dog and remaining completely calm, he helps the dog calm down. It works, and fast.

Stanley would take a different tact, putting the dog near the quiet vacuum and rewarding the dog with treats until its calm, then turning it on from a distance and repeating the process, ramping it up until the problem is solved. His method is to take away the negative association and replace it with a positive one. It takes a little longer and also works.

They are both firm on the idea that you have to make the dog realize you are the boss – the pack leader – by requiring the dog work for everything you give him. For example, Jasper doesn’t get dinner until he does something we demand, usually sit and wait until we give him the okay. This keeps them understanding that they have to listen to you and prevents them from developing anxious behaviours that result from thinking they have to be the boss.

Cesar and, to some extent Stanley, also believe that when you walk your dog, it should be slightly behind you with its head at your side, because the pack leader goes first. I don’t enforce that, letting Jasper wander all over. But I’ve noticed lately that when Jasper is uncertain about the situation, like when we are walking along a busy street, he naturally falls back and lets me walk just ahead of him.

Another advantage of a submissive dog is that you can dress him like an idiot and get away with it.

New Year’s eve, 12:30 am:

bb.jpg

b.jpg

Read Full Post »

Oh yeah

I have a blog!

Okay, I didn’t really forget. It’s just all these children and husband who kept hanging around. And now that they are gone, I’ve got work and laundry and stuff.

It is raining and all the lovely snow is melting. Here are pictures of when there was lots of snow:

aa.jpg

a.jpg

That’s our patio table Jasper is using as a bed. All the snow has melted off now. At least the thaw waited until after our winter vacation.

I have nothing to tell. Rather, I have much to tell, but it will all take to long and then I will explode from the guilt of not doing something more worthy of my limited time. Here are some more pictures to make up for it. This is of Jasper being groomed:

aaa.jpg

And this is the final result. His slightly reproachful look is because he doesn’t so much love being brushed.

aaaaa.jpg

Read Full Post »

to sleep …

and dream lots of really weird dreams.

This was my day yesterday: I slept. I hate when that happens.

I seem to have a bit of a cold and coughing kept me up late Friday night, but when J woke me up at almost 10 am, I’d had pretty much 9 hours sleep, which should be enough for anyone. It didn’t feel like it. I felt really dopey. We started getting ready for synagogue, but discovering Boo had a fever derailed that one. She wanted me to lie in my bed with her, so I got my newspaper and propped myself up to read. Next thing I knew, she was gone and Maya was accusing me of going back to sleep. The nerve! I assured her I was just resting my eyes, then tried to fake my way through a conversation as I dozed off again.

A friend called, long distance. I hoped that would perk me up, and it did. But when I got up afterwards, I was really dizzy. You know how on TV they show that someone is dizzy or disoriented by moving the camera in slow motion so everything blurs? I actually feel like that sometimes. It feels like, when I move my head, that my brain takes longer to catch up to where I have turned. Very disorienting. I went back to bed.

For the next four hours, I went to the mall with my kids and J and looked at bedsheets and book shelves. We rearranged the family room, installing a flat-screen TV we’d somehow had in storage, and hooked it up to a spare computer so we could stream TV shows off the internet. I cleaned up all kinds of cat poop the dog had dragged upstairs. Then, I packed to go to Ireland, and even managed to get on in first class. Once on the plane, I realized I’d forgotten all my medications.

And on it went, vivid and realistic, except for the part where I’m certainly not going to Ireland (and never forget my meds), the dog doesn’t drag cat poop around the house, we don’t have a flat screen TV just kicking around and no need for bedsheets. I’d like the bookshelves, though.

After those travels, I managed to drag myself out of bed for a while and have something to eat. J went to a friends with the kids for dinner, and I was back to bed. All in all, I was awake about 6 hours yesterday.

The vertigo is weird, but the sleeping jag is something I’ve experienced since I was a teenager. More fun with fibromyalgia!

—————————————————————–

The weird searches are popping up again. Someone was looking for “bad bad webkinz,” which sounds really obscene to me, but maybe I just have a dirty mind. Someone else actually googled, “Chinese have floppy breasts.” This is bizarre on so many levels, not the least of which is that in my personal experience, women of Chinese origin tend to have smaller rather than larger breasts, and those are less likely to be floppy. But really, level of floppiness all comes down to letting small children do nursing calisthenics. That, and gravity, which affects all of us, no matter what our ethnic origin.

Every day for the last month, and I exaggerate not one bit, someone has googled ‘hanukaka.’ Why? Would the next person please tell me? I mean, I know why they end up here, because last year, I told a funny little story about how in daycare two years ago Boo made a brown, lumpy banana thing while all the other kids made Christmas tree decorations from their cinnamon clay and the daycare ladies proudly presented it to me and said, “Happy Hanukaka!” (The picture is here.) But what else can Hanukaka mean? I guess I’ll just have to go google it myself.

I went and found that entry from last year and discovered it was exactly a year ago, minus one day, and I was describing the green grass on my lawn. Oh, the difference a year makes! We are currently being so buried in snow we had to cancel our family get-together because you can’t distinguish the road from the not-road, as J discovered when he went to get Maya from a sleep-over. I swear, it bearly goes a day without snowing this year and it is lovely. As long as it isn’t bitterly cold, I’m happy.

I have even been getting lots of exercise shoveling the driveway. I actually like doing this. It provides a sense of accomplishment I cannot explain. But I shovel and the kids and dog play and it is good for all of us. Except my neighbour, with whom we share a snowblower. He derives deep, childish joy from snowblowing and when he sees me out there with my shovel, always comes to complain that I am depriving him. I tell him I am sure he can find someone else who would be happy to have him blow them.

Backyard fun (Boo needed frequent rescuing):

temp1.jpg

temp2.jpg

temp3.jpg

temp4.jpg

temp5.jpg

temp6.jpg

Read Full Post »

It was one of those perfect winter days today, where the snow fell in big, slow flakes and made everything look beautiful. There was no wind and it was mild. I took Jasper for a long walk, then got the kids and when we got home, Asher and Boo played outside for a long time with the dog. It was idyllic and fun and helped me breath properly again. Here are pictures. Lots of pictures.

jsnow1.jpg

He loves to smush his whole face in the snow.

jsnow2.jpg

jsnow3.jpg

jsnow6.jpg

jsnow5.jpg

wrestle2.jpg

wrestle3.jpg

wrestle1.jpg

jsnow4.jpg

I don’t want to go on about it, but the reason it was so nice to watch everyone romp around was that my cat, Theo, died yesterday at the age of four, very suddenly. He developed crystals in his urine, his bladder got blocked and his kidneys were damaged beyond help by the time I got him to the vet. He died in my arms shortly thereafter.

He was a marvelous cat. He was utterly-unfeline-like in his friendliness and love of everything. He purred at his vet appointments. At one, he had to take a medication that had the side effect of calming them down and when the vet walked in, he was lounging on her counter, purring happily. She said, “Wow, that stuff really mellows them out sometimes.” I told her, “He hasn’t taken it yet. This is just his personality.” Even my mother liked him, and my mother hates cats.

I miss him so much.

theo6.jpg

theo3.jpg

theo5.jpg

theo2.jpg

theo4.jpg

theo11.jpg

Read Full Post »

J is off gallivanting around the world again for the next week. This morning, I got the kids to swimming lessons and snuck off to have a shower myself while they were supposedly being watched by their instructors. I say ‘supposedly’ because when I arrived at the end of Boo’s lesson to get her, she told me she didn’t learn much this time because she lost her instructor for a while, but eventually he found her. In the pool. I told the guy at the first lesson that without glasses my kid is blind, but it doesn’t seem to have sunk in. Either that, or he has the same problem. We’ll be chatting about it tomorrow.

Then we popped off to friends for brunch, where my kids were pretty well-behaved, I think. These friends only have one kid and she’s still wee, so the amount of noise and destruction she can cause compared to my kids is light years apart. I remember having people over with more than one kid when I just had sweet little Maya and watching in horror at the chaos. I hope we didn’t do that to them. Fortunately, my kids like to eat. After announcing he wasn’t hungry. Asher ate a pancake and four helpings of lasagna.

Then, it was off home to make Hanukkah cookies. I’d promised the day before. I was so bloody tired, but couldn’t see when else to do it, so soldiered on. The house is already a mess, of course. But we shoved aside crap in the kitchen and made the cookies. Dinner was order-in pizza, now that the non-gluten guy is out of the country. Afterwards, we decorated, adding icing sugar and many types of sprinkles to the chaos. These are some of the finished product:

cookies08.jpg

Here is poor Jasper watching us play and play with food and give him none, poor boy. He’s using a teddy for a pillow, so I had to take a picture.

jteddy.jpg

Asher knocked an entire container of thawed strawberries on the floor. Someone else knocked over thawing beef in the fridge, so now the fridge has been bled on. Maya dropped Jasper’s full bowl of food on the floor, and for one the damn dog decided that floor food did not interest him.

We realized after dinner but before decorating that Asher had not finished his Hebrew project for Tuesday. That wouldn’t be so bad were it not for the English project he hasn’t even considered beginning that is due Wednesday. There was no point in even trying to get any work on that. He can’t handle academic stuff at the very best of times in the evening, and having been promised cookie decorating is not the very best of times to suggest homework.

I have a point to all this. As I was singing Boo to sleep, I was reading yesterday’s Globe and Mail. I read Karen von Hahn’s column, in which she postulated that people who have children young are perceived as older, over-the-hill, compared to their peers who have small children. Her last line is this: “Who needs plastic surgery when you can be as young as you feel, thanks to artificial insemination.”

Is it just me, or is this woman completely insane? She has this idea that having kids when you are older makes you feel younger. Obviously, she is one of those women who had her kids when she was younger and, at 40-ish, is happily waving them off to university.

Gee, I wonder who feels younger – von Hahn, who is looking into the rest of her 40s having done the difficult work of childrearing and wondering what to do with her time – take a cruise with her husband? Throw herself further into her career? Train to run a marathon? After all, she clearly still fit and young enough to do whatever she wants. Or me, who is looking into the rest of my 40s filled with parent-teacher interviews and forgotten projects, kitchens with florescent yellow icing sugar dripping off the walls and the first child careening into adolescence like a runaway locomotive?

I wonder who looks younger – does the flour from the cookies dusting my shirt and the sprinkles in my hair age me? Or is it just the frazzled expression, the 40-year-old skin having gone unmoisturized and 40-year-old hair uncut for months because I’m too tired and don’t have the time.

I’m not really complaining, not really. I knew what I was getting into, although I never actually planned to have a kid at 36 years old. I am truly happy I had my children in my 30s rather than my 20s. But how can any woman who has actually raised children, as von Hahn has, be so utterly deluded as to think that raising small children in one’s 40s makes a person appear or feel younger? Those little shits age you, and they age you twice as fast when you are already older.

Anyway, I can see the dishes piled up in the kitchen from here, so I think I’ll just go downstairs, put on Family Guy and do some knitting. Maybe the dish fairies will come clean everything.

Jasper just discovered a kleenex box was in reach, and neatly hopped up to take one for himself. (He likes to snack on them.) Here is a picture, because he is the cutest dog ever, and don’t you forget it.

jkleenex.jpg

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »