Six Months Of Shmans

Tansy has been very much neglected up here, but I have once again amassed quite the list of updates, observations and acknowledgements of time.

Back in October, Tansy got out her barf bingo dabber and checked off that month. I think the little rip stole some dropped food at a social event at work, but even so, it’s another month where she has barfed. I wish she wasn’t so silent about it. I had no idea it happened until a colleague pointed it out. Hmmm, is that less or more disgusting than asking a colleague to graphically describe ooze coming from a cyst? Maybe it’s a toss-up. Har!

Shmans went through a phase of having little lumpy bumpy skin irritation things. The vets weren’t sure what they were, and we treated them with medicated pads and they went away. A few came back when I went home to mom and dad’s so I’m not sure if it’s an environmental allergy or what. Thank goodness they have stayed gone though. I kept having nightmares that one day I would rub her belly and a great hunk of skin would be covered in lines of unnoticed lumpy bumpies!

Then one day, when Brad was here, he commented that Tans’s underbelly looked all baggy and bunched up. His comment was “it looks like she’s going to have pups!” I had a few nightmares about discovering that Shmans wasn’t spayed after all and was about to have puppies. You can see it’s really easy to fuel my nightmares. The vet says that’s just the way she is and not to worry. It hasn’t changed, so I guess that’s just Shmans.

I also noticed one day that her neck felt flabbier than usual. For now I’m going to say I’m just paranoid. Her weight is mostly staying the same, but I can never predict when it will bump up or fall down.

She had another session of losing hair on her paws. This time, when it grew back, it came back white. We don’t know if it’s the boots, maybe this brand isn’t as uniformly made as the official Pawz ones, or they’re made out of a different kind of rubber, but once again she had rubbed patches. It’s always on different paws though. In previous years, it was on the rear paws, now this time it was on the front ones.

Speaking of boots, I had a new experience. I had to put boots on her while riding in a car. I would have never been able to pull this off with the other boots. But with difficulty, I got them on. When I left, I didn’t realize how much salt was out until she started hopping. The car was right there, so I had to put the boots on during the ride so when we got to where we were going, she would be protected. Add that to the list of things I’ve learned to do, right up there with relieving two dogs and having to find something else to serve as an emergency poop bag.

Poor Shmans has such a hard time finding dogs that can handle her level of energy but aren’t too rough. I saw a dog who actually scared poor Tansy. We went to visit a coworker, and she has two little dogs. The one was pretty calm, but the other one wanted to make sure that Tans knew she was on his property. The first thing he did was pee on his house. Then, he wouldn’t stop trying to dominate poor Shmans. Imagine a little Boston Tarrier-like dog trying to show Shmans who was boss. Not only that, but he kept trying to hump her head! He’s blind, so I guess he just aimed for some part of her and went to town. Tans was not sure what to make of this and just tried to stay out of his way. Tans, you have such a hard time.

She is getting older though. She has some grey that is visible, and some white on her paws in addition to the new white that came back after the hair loss. Someone described her as salt and pepper, and that she has a beard. Someone else said she looked wise, I’m not sure if it was her facial expression or what. I also notice that she seems more chilled out. Her moments of insanity are shorter and she takes longer to charge as I used to call it. She’s started lying down on the bus again, and she lies down in places where I wouldn’t expect it. Yes, this dog is mortal.

Our buddy J thinks she’s more chill too. While he was here, we were getting ready to leave but I had to head back for something, so Steve and J stepped outside and Tansy just wandered out with them and stood there. That would have never happened when she was younger, as history will attest. She would have been up and down the hall like a shot. But she just stood near J and waited for me.

But she is still full of beans. She still loves J a lot, and when I went to meet him at the station, Shmans jumped on him. Randomly, as he was sitting around, she would come running over and start bonking into him and being a total goofball. One morning, he tried to do some stretches and situps and things, and Tans got right in his way and thought he was on the floor to play with her. She has been known to give in to her impulsivity a little bit more. I can’t remember where I mentioned this, but during the fall semester, I had a co-op student working with me until January. Inexplicably, whenever her teacher would come to observe, Tansy would surprise me by leaping on her in harness! Just once, thankfully only once, she decided to suddenly increase her speed while on the stairs because she saw something that distracted her. That little lapse in impulse-control scared me. She absolutely adores the guy who sometimes brings a dog to work. I now have a picture of that dog!

Tansy standing with Charlie, one on each side of me.
Tansy and her new deskmate

Anyway, even if he doesn’t have that dog with him, Tans will exuberantly greet him. His desk is right next to her space and sometimes, when we’re coming back from somewhere, she’ll try to go visit him first. She also will forget her manners and run from our area to say hello to that one coworker with the super-dominant little dog I talked about earlier. Occasionally, if I’m working late and the cleaning lady comes around with the vacuum, Tansy has decided she’s a play toy too. I have sometimes heard a voice say “Go to mamma, go to mamma!” and I have to rescue this poor woman while hiding my embarrassed face. And of course, she has been known to lure other dogs into our area. I don’t know how she does it, but every now and then, some dog will break free of its owner and come bounding in here. So Tans keeps life interesting.

All these stories remind me of something I heard while passing by a kid and his mom. The mom was telling the kid that the doggy was working so he couldn’t pet the doggy, and the kid was trying to argue that no, the doggy doesn’t look like he’s working. Wanna bet, kid? If you’d seen the events above, you would know that yes, she is working sooooo hard not to be bouncing off the ceiling right now.

But she still can control those impulses. She was hilarious with my co-op student. She would be very reserved, then I would take the harness off and only if I brought her over to the student did she say hello. She would get up on her hind legs and give her a hug and some kisses. I wish I had a picture. It was like she knew the student wanted a guide dog and wanted to show her what it was all about.

Shmans was none too pleased with the last winter. Sometimes I think she wished she could hibernate. In the morning when it was almost time to go, she would get super quiet, as if I might forget her if she didn’t make any noise. Oh dog, I don’t like this winter either.

Something new she’s started doing is she won’t just celebrate after a meal, but she’ll celebrate while I’m getting it ready. Well, I’m glad she’s happy. She also chooses where she sleeps, and if she misjudges when it’s time to rise and shine, she’ll take the hint and either go back to bed or flop into the crate.

If I’m at the office late, even if I feed her, she will get so excited when I show signs that we are leaving. It’s like she’s saying “Good! I can go home and totally loop out and then relax. Finally!”

Let’s add some songs to the list of songs Tansy gets excited over. Oddly enough, she likes “Joshua Giraffe”, but only when it starts speeding up.

She has decided that River by Sarah McLachlan

is a good one, as well as “Is Anybody Home” by Our Lady Peace

and “On Top of the World” by the Carpenters.

Oddly enough, a song she has heard many times has recently joined the awesome list, and that’s “The Happy Song” by Imogen Heap.

Just a few weeks ago, she decided it was worth dancing to. It sometimes seems like she likes the theme from Dr. Demento,

but I’m not sure about that one. W’w’w’w’w’w’wind up your Shmandaloop!

We learned at Christmas that Shmans will not tolerate wearing things for fun. We tried to get a picture of her with a Santa hat on, and that Santa hat flew! We also tried to put bells on her, and that was not a good idea. I have never seen her work so fiercely to get something off. So, harness, jackets, boots and mut muffs are ok, but keep those bells and hats away. Ok then.

Another amusing part of Christmas festivities was when we started singing “If you’re happy and you know it.” Somehow, we ended up singing “If you’re happy and you know it, pat your leg,” and this drove Shmans nuts. Everybody was patting their leg! Were they all calling her? What was she to do? Poor, poor confused dog.

She got some toys at Christmas from my Secret Santa. We had a funny Aira moment. The agent was describing the package since I couldn’t find a braille note until we got to the bottom, and maybe the lighting wasn’t awesome. When we got to the toys, they were stuck together with Velcro, and the agent thought the big one was a kangaroo. So we thought the thing stuck to it must have been its baby, or Joey. Then we found the note and found out it was a squirrel and an acorn. So, they were nicknamed the squangaroo and the jacorn from then on. The squangaroo didn’t make it because Tans was trying to use it for rougher play than it was intended, and the poor thing ripped, but the jacorn is still with us. We also got some smaller stuffed toys in March, and sometimes she picks up the jacorn and one of those and brings them to us.

Sometimes when she’s playing, she will inexplicably let out these little yips. I was worried they were pain, but I’m not so sure anymore. It’s like she’s so happy she can’t contain herself. Of course, I’ll keep watching and we’ll see, but for now, I’ll say they’re happy.

I am sure there are things that we do that probably frustrate our guide dogs, like getting on different buses. I’m sure they’re thinking “You just got off that moving chair thing, why do you want to sit on another one?” But I can add shopping for a couch to the list. There are few times when I actually imagine what Tansy is thinking, but last Saturday as we shopped for couches, I heard her thought process loudly and clearly. It went a little something like “Woman, I just found you a seat. Why do you want to find another one? I just got nicely settled and you’re asking me to get up again. Did you not like this one? What’s so different about the one we moved to? It’s not that far from that other one! You’re weird!” Sometimes, on our way to the couch we were interested in, Tansy would just stop and try to direct me to a seat, any old seat. Poor baby, she had no idea.

Back in September, my grandma moved into an assisted living place. When I have had the chance to see her, Tansy has decided that random residents need some love. We’ll be trying to go by one of them and she’ll try and scooch over so she can nuzzle them. Even though I mind, thankfully they don’t. I wonder what she notices about them.

Can you believe that Trix has been gone for over a year? February 21 marked the anniversary of her death, and it is now April. We are chugging through all of her anniversaries too, and it blows my mind. I reached out to her raiser on what would have been her birthday and we both said we were thinking of her. It was really weird not to buy her Christmas presents this year.

One of the things Tans inherited from the Trix days finally bit the big one. Remember that no-spill water bowl I bought for Trix at work? It finally died. It started showing signs of wearing out with a wee crack, and then it just started coming apart. I ordered a new style of no-spill bowl, and after one bowl nearly got lost in the postal strike, it arrived from Amazon. It stores one heck of a lot of water. Even with two dogs drinking out of it whenever my nearby coworker brings in his dog, there is still lots left. It must seem magical to the dogs. It has this floating piece that only lets up so much water at a time, but as they push on it with their noses, more water comes up. It makes me think of a bottomless cup.

A couple of weeks ago, Tans and I celebrated 6 years as a guide dog team. Shmans has now worked the longest out of all 3 dogs, Trix being the only real close competition. But she has smashed all her records in age while working and time working together. On May 31, Tans will turn 8. To put it into perspective, when Trix turned 8, she had been retired for nearly 8 months, had been with Brad for almost 6 months, and Tans and I had just gotten home a couple days before. I’m not trying to call Trix a crappy guide dog or anything, I’m more saying I can sigh a sigh of relief that I am not a dog-breaker.

And those are the majority of the Shmans updates for now. I have a bit more news, but it needs to be in a post all on its own. Basically, Shmans got to see her raisers again, and I want to chronicle those adventures, complete with pictures! See you then.

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