Thursday, September 19, 2019


It is an absolutely wonderful day today. The sky is blue with not a cloud to be seen, the air is stirred by a gentle wind, and the sun is warm. My birthday week has almost always been ‘Indian Summer’ (am I allowed to say that?) and I have my parents to thank for their good timing.

The day started early, but this time it was Spike desperately needing out. I dragged Carm out of bed to help as it is hard to walk both dogs together: each of Adia’s steps is equal to 4 of Spikes pottering waddles. Getting business done is tricky. We bundled into jackets and headed into the picture perfect morning. The sun was rising over the trees across the lagoon, reflecting in the water. I couldn’t have painted a lovelier scene. 

Back at camp I fed the dogs and gave Adia a trazadone, an anti-anxiety drug … we were planning on breakfast in Morrisburg, and I had a plan to hopefully reduce the frantic howling that accompanied our last outing. I set up the app that I have on my tablet which records sounds - I was hoping to record the dogs while we were gone. 

I took Adia for a long walk to prep her for her time alone… when it was time to go we carried Adia’s crate into the bedroom and with Spike in the bedroom too she wouldn’t be alone. She got a Kong to take the edge off and I closed the blinds to create a dimly lit den. Away we went.

I should mention that there are no campers near us, in fact the campground is basically deserted so we knew we wouldn’t be bothering anyone even if the dogs put on an opera.

Breakfast, pet store, Giant Tiger, and finally Canadian Tire. An hour and a half later and we were back… no howling when I got out of the truck. A bit of whining when I opened the camper door. Stop the recording and see what happened. For the first 3 or 4 minutes there was some whining and mild howling and then silence. In fact I wondered if the app had stopped working but then, in the last 30 seconds was Spike crying and me talking to them and turning off ‘Parrot’. It wasn’t perfect but I consider it a success as I imagine that the initial noise will fade as they get used to being left.

My next conundrum is: do I try the Trazadone again and keep the crate? do I try the Trazadone and have her loose in the bedroom with Spike? Do I drop the Trazadone and keep the crate? I think I’ll do the trazadone and drop the crate a few times, with ‘Parrot’ recording of course.

Once back from our outing and we got Grace outside, we went for another walk, this time a bit longer. Spike labours but Adia could walk for hours. It’s quiet here with very few campers which leaves large grassy areas open for squirrels and geese. Our spot is on the edge of an area with lanes lined with towering pines and cushioned with fallen needles. There is a hush. Peaceful easy feeling washes over me, calming the anxiety that built up by leaving the dogs alone.

Back at camp I dug out my speaker and sat outside with music. Bliss. Take another short walk, this time with just Adia, to look out over the water to the St. Lawrence. Too mucky to let her in the water. Back to my music. Oh yeah!

I’ll do a bit of time travel to get back to Tuesday. We went home in the afternoon for Adia’s school. She did great as usual but there are a few things we can work on - walking on leash without being distracted is a challenge. We are in the right place to practice this! I’ve started using two commands: let’s go, for a loose leash walk; and go sniff for less structure.  Her stay is great and continues to improve (which you can see in the photos).

Carm golfed Wednesday morning and I took Adia to get her nails clipped, and then back to the shop with Spike to try on a harness. He now has a no pull harness with a comfortable breast plate. What he really needs though is a stroller :-(

We stopped at the vets to weight Adia and she topped the scale at 31.9kg - just over 70lbs.

Have I mentioned how beautiful it is today?

“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house."
~Nathaniel Hawthorne

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

with mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come

That peaceful easy feeling has descended on me again - a welcome change from the anxiety ridden mood I’ve been in lately. Yes, the first day of camping always seems to generate PEF. I don’t know if it is the change of scenery, the adult beverage taken out in the sun, or the release of all the stress of getting ready, but gosh darn it never seems to fail. 😊

It’s Adia’s first camping trip and she’s doing pretty well. It took her awhile to get used to being tied up - something scared her so she spooked and broke the cable tie clip, which scared her more… a sturdy rope and better clip and some treats and time settled her down. I can’t say she loves that aspect, but I’m certain she’ll get used to it. 

She loved walking around the park. So many smells and sights - it was a lot for a young dog to take in, but through it all (as long as I was paying attention) she walked on the leash beautifully. Last night we took her somewhere she could run a bit and visited the same spot as the sun rose over the misty St. Lawrence for a few minutes of crazy dog zoomies. She had a good time!

Oh, and best of all, she used the bell this morning! I started teaching her this last week and was amazed how quickly she figured it out. Well, I brought them with me and hung them in the bedroom. I showed them to her twice and wasn’t holding out much hope… but ring-a-ling-a-ling this morning! What a memory.

There is a bit of a crash landing though… she howls when we are gone, which gets Spike barking and howling as well. We have to figure out a way around this or our camping trip will be abbreviated… any quick working ideas? Bella, Kabira, and Spike, never made a peep in all our years camping - I know because I always asked the campers around us. They were such good dogs… I miss them.

Oh, and going to the bathroom in a strange place - it’s happening, but it takes ages. I’ve been walking and walking trying to get her to go, but gosh, it takes a lot of steps! (7600 today already and it’s only 1pm).

Spike is managing okay but he isn’t up for the hour long brisk walks that we used to take. I guess his age (11 ½) has caught up with him. So sad to see as he loved his walks. He just potters along with his weird shuffling amble. It’s nearly impossible for me to walk them alone - Spike lags and Adia drags - not a good combination.

I’m wondering if I might fire up some sparklers tonight - I don’t have 57 but maybe one or two big ones would do the trick :-) It’s funny - when I look in the mirror, I don’t see a 57 year old woman, I don’t feel 57 either. Perhaps the calendar is playing a cruel trick on me.

Life is pretty good though - I feel happy and content - blessed -  even when I’m not, if that makes any sense at all.

With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.”
~William Shakespeare

“The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.”
~Arthur C. Clarke

Thursday, September 12, 2019

smart-y pants

We had to take the brown car into town today to get a special superman coating that deflects flying rocks, so, even though I was feeling lazy, I packed Adia into the truck for an outing. 

After we dropped the car off we headed to the nearby PetSmart. I wasn’t sure how she’d do - this was her first foray into such a mind blowing environment, but as usual, she was a champion. Her nose was on high alert as we traversed the aisles laden with dog food and treats. Such a distraction! I was able to get her attention for microseconds, but they quickly grew to seconds - not sure that we got to a minute though! She got lots of pets from the sales staff and loved every moment. She is definitely a people dog. 

Hurrah for food driven dogs. I had a pouch full of kibble that was doled out generously. It really helps her to focus on me and calm her mind down. At the end we were able to walk down most of a row without sniffing. More work is required, but it is not a hopeless case :-)

We made a few more quick stops without getting her out of the car, and then we were at Grandma’s house (shhhh…. don’t tell Spike we were there without him!). Adia’s nose was going full bore again, but she quickly settled and had a mostly loose leash walk. She’s pretty strong when she puts her mind but luckily a little piece of kibble keeps most of her attention.

One thing we have to do more work on is getting her attention back with a strong distraction. Should I use her name or a little noise to refocus her? Camping will give lots more opportunity to practice.

Oh, and what is she doing now? She’s dead to the world in the bedroom! Such an exciting outing.

We picked up the cargo barrier for the car from Purolator this afternoon. We are anxious to try it out in the car! What a hullabaloo getting it here. Purolator would deliver with the construction but FedEx had no problem…

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
~Viktor E. Frankl