Keeping You In The Shmanda-Loop

You’re probably wondering what the heck’s a Shmandaloop. Well, it’s another nickname for Tansy. Steve came up with it one time when I was booking a Via Rail ticket. They always ask me what the name of the dog is, and in the background, Steve was petting her and said “Shmandaloop. S h m, a n d a, l o o p. Shmandaloop!” It was really hard not to start laughing.

She also gets called Joe with increasing frequency. Why Joe, you say? Well, long story time. Recently, especially when it’s hot, Shmans just flops down where she is and sprawls out. She also seems completely oblivious to people going by, and we’ve both nearly taken a header over her. There’s this sketch by the Vestibules called “Caspar Haboot’s movie music” where the guy sings what’s happening in the plot of a movie. If I could link to it, I would, but it’s impossible to find. At one point, he says something about “Look out, Joe! The fat guy is hiding…” When Tans has decided to lie in one of those awkward places and has tuned us out, when we are trying to avoid her, at the last second, we will sing “Look out, Joe!” at her. Now, we’ve taken to just saying to each other, “Remember that Joe is in the doorway.” or “Don’t move your chair backwards because of Joe.” Yup, we’re weird. But I wonder how long before Shmans starts responding to Joe.

Now that I’ve made you wonder about our sanity with these latest nickname choices, let’s get down to talking about Tansy. Amazingly, it’s only been a couple of months since the last update, but I was amassing quite a collection of notes so I figured I should go for it.

Poor Tansy had a bit of a rough July. We had the bladder infection at the beginning, and then after the antibiotics were done, her poop never went back to its usual solid form. Because I was about to go to Houston for work, I wanted her to be as regular as possible. So, I went to the pet store and got a probiotic. It didn’t take long for the probiotic to be doing its job. But when I got back from Houston, one of my coworkers noticed that there was a spot on Tansy’s face that was considerably lighter and looked like it didn’t have any hair on it. Um, eek? It turned out it was a hot spot, and a sizable one. How I hadn’t noticed, I don’t know, except that the fur is kind of rougher and thinner on the face, so it could hide better. But poor Tans, after getting off the other antibiotics, was given another course of them, plus some steroids to help make the spot less itchy so she would be less tempted to scratchity rubbity root root root at it.

I still don’t quite know what gave her the hot spot. Can probiotics cause hot spots? I did some googling, and it seems that usually they help pooches get over them rather than cause them, but I suppose she could have been allergic to something in the probiotic, and since allergies can cause hot spots, there we go. Or, did she come into contact with something in Houston? I noticed from time to time that she was rubbing her face weirdly when we were out and about and I had to keep making sure she wasn’t up to no good. I guess we’ll never know, but I stopped the probiotic and we started more antibiotics and steroids. When the vet last checked on her at her physical, she said there was a bit of a scab but it was much much better. So unless it comes back, I guess we’re in the clear.

The vet was very speicific that the antibiotics and steroids had to be given after food. They couldn’t be put in her food, I had to give them to her directly. This was the cause of many an amusing adventure, and I discovered that Tansy is more discerning about pills than I thought. She would come to me almost gleefully to get her antibiotics, but as soon as she sniffed or saw those steroid pills, she would run, hide, go quiet, whatever she could do to avoid them. Steve had to team up with me and catch her so I could give them to her. I was worried that she would end up being a pill-spitter, but I don’t think she ever spat them out, thank goodness.

I’m also pretty sure she got all the steroids because she started drinking tons of water and needing to pee more. I was scared that she had another bladder infection, but when she had to pee, she would unleash a river and that doesn’t usually happen with infections, and then I remembered steroids cause thirst and more needs to pee, so it was just the steroids having their side-effects. Thankfully, as the dose got smaller, she didn’t need so many potty breaks.

Then, after things had been normal for a while, her urges to pee went below normal. The first pee in the morning or the last one at night were really slow to happen if at all. This made me worry that there was some kind of blockage. Part of me didn’t think so because she could pee whenever she definitely had to, and if we were more active, she would pee more, but it was still weird. Thankfully, things came back to normal without me going to the vet for no reason.

You might think I’m really jumpy, more than my usual rate of jumpiness, but there is a reason. Before Trix retired, she just kept having medical issues, one after the other. There were bladder infections and increasing numbers of fat lumps and unexplained diarrhea and urgent needs to pee and random skin problems, you name it, Trix had it. And, statistically, Tans’s career is very similar in length to Trix’s. So I can’t help but notice these things.

Because I’m silly, I started calculating some stats. It’s a rough estimate because class time with Tans was shorter than Trix’s, but on August 18, Trix’s and Tans’s careers were the same length. At least I can say their time with me after graduation was exactly the same. On October 13, Tans will have spent the same amount of time home with me as Trix did. Because Tans started working younger than Trix did, this doesn’t mean they’re the same age. Those dates will be October 17 for age when Trix retired and December 12 for when Trix went to her happy retirement life with Brad. So, I’m a little easier to make worry than I usually am. I hope I don’t drive Steve out of his mind. For now, these issues are resolving, and I think I can consider them as one-offs or non-issues in the case of the reduced amount of peeing, but I just keep watching and hoping I catch things before she goes through the amount of agony that Trix did.

Like I said before, she had her annual checkup and they said she looked good. They gave her her Rabies shot and she didn’t have a reaction like that time in 2014. We decided that she should start taking fish oil to help with joint support because I notice she seems a bit uncomfortable and fidgety when she has to be in confined spaces like the floors of cars, and she takes a little bit longer to jump into a car. I don’t know if this is why, but I wondered if she’s calculating how to best do it without hurting herself. Trix started taking fish oil near the end of her career, in her case it was to help with skin issues, but I found that it gave her more energy. I don’t think I wrote this down, but we jokingly said that the fish oil gave her extra life points. I wonder if it will do the same for Shmans, not that she needs them. At first I thought it was doing that, but she seems to have calmed down. But if it helps her joints out, I’m happy to give it to her. I think it must be doing something because she does stay sitting on the bus longer.

It’ll be interesting to see if, when she lies down, we won’t hear so much of a loud thud. Back in August or so, when she would flop down, you would hear a definite thump. Ouch! That can’t be pleasant!

Another sign that Trix and Tans’s careers are about the same length is that their Attorney General’s ID cards both look equally as narled and beaten up. Incidentally, I wish the card’s actually had the dog’s name on them in Braille in case I accidentally mixed them up somehow. It’s unlikely, but it would be nice to check. The braille on one side is stupid. All it says is “Identification card.” Well, duh. That’s obvious by what it feels like. The other side has the number for Ontario Human Rights, so that’s cool. But where it just says Identification Card, the dog’s name would be a heck of a lot more useful, at least in my opinion.

Back in August, we went to my sister’s cottage and her little one, who has always been afraid of Tansy, made more progress. He was running around her when she was loose in the house, and he was out on the deck and she ran past him and he didn’t even care! She had so much fun at the cottage. She snorted and sprinted around the lawn chasing balls, and although she had to spend a lot of time on leash so she didn’t bowl over tiny kidlets, when she got loose, she had a great time. The little tool even stole some roasted marshmallows discarded by the one nephew who wasn’t the biggest fan of them. Shmans, always the opportunist.

I also went to Guelph and saw a lady I haven’t seen in years. I think she has been mentioned, or her dog has, a couple of times back in the Trixie days. It’s been so long since I saw her that Tansy has never met her. Unfortunately, when I did see her again, her guide dog had passed away. She was about Trixie’s age. I know it’s to be expected, but it’s still hard. It was hard when bunches of Trix’s cohort were retiring, but now they’re actually passing away. On top of this lady’s dog passing away, Rosamae left us a few months ago, and before that, Newmar passed away, and that’s just to name a few. Also, Beauty, my room-mate’s dog from the Trixie era, is dealing with cancer. She’s still pretty lively, but the fact is the time is coming. So yeah, lots of dogs around Trix’s age are leaving us.

Back to the subject of our visit, you would never know that Tansy hadn’t met this woman, because I let Tansy out of the harness to meet her, and when I did, Tansy gave her the biggest love fest ever. She must have known she needed it.

While I was in Guelph, I saw my old neighbour and the little guy we nicknamed the huppy. That is no longer an appropriate nickname. The little guy is 9 and talks and tries to solve problems just like his dad. I don’t think he remembers me, and was a little weirded out when I had baby stories about him. He also has a little sister who just turned 5 last week. I had never met her. Um, oops. Hopefully I can see them more now that Wroute is a thing.

I don’t know why, but Tansy has decided that her bed isn’t the best place to sleep. Sometimes she sleeps on the floor next to it, or on the floor by the side of our bed. Who knows why. She usually only does this for part of the night and then goes back to bed. Also, for a while during the night, she would stay put in her bed and not bound out unceremoniously to meet Steve, but recently she has started that up again. Thankfully he has already been up each time she did it, but still. Shmans, you keep me guessing.

At work, sometimes she gets lazy and tries to mindlessly follow coworkers. This is probably somewhat to be expected as she gets older, but it makes me nervous. It also makes me nervous when she just can’t control herself and darts out of my office area to meet a dog as they go by. I always worried if the first sign of her edging towards retirement would be her impulse control going bye-bye. But for now, I’m just going to think she’s having a frisky moment because it’s not happening all the time.

The last thing I have to talk about is funny, but would be funnier if I had a picture. In a previous update, I mentioned a colleague bringing his dog in, and she and Tansy trying to figure out how much interaction they can have. Well, this dog has figured out that I have treats and will try to steal them. She will also stick her head in the harness when I’m looking for Tansy. It’s a good thing she’s really fluffy and yellow, for starters. The guy always jokes that before she wants to work for me, she had better find out about what benefits I offer. Some day, I will get photographic evidence because it’s too funny.

And that’s about it. Tansy can amass quite the list of updates. Hope you enjoyed the ride.

Pick Of The Litter: A Fun Little Movie About Guide Dogs

I’ve been meaning to write about this movie, but I wanted to see it first. Now I have, so here I go. It’s a documentary about GDB, the school that trained Trix and Tansy, and it’s called Pick of the Litter.

It’s the story of five guide dog puppies, and the process they move through as GDB figures out if they will become guide dogs. Basically, it answers pretty much every single question I get asked by the public about the process of training guide dog puppies. It’s available in theatres in select cities in the states, and I know it was shown in Toronto back in May but I don’t know where else it’s getting shown in Canada. But now, it’s available for rent from places like iTunes and Hulu. The great thing about watching it through iTunes is getting the audio description is as simple as making sure it’s on in your media settings under accessibility. If you watch it in the theatre, you have to download this app called “Actiview and do this kind of cumbersome thing where it needs to hear the movie so it can sync the descriptions. I’ve never done it, I’m sure it’s awesome, but this felt a little easier, even if I could find some random theatre near me where I could watch it.

It’s definitely very cute and has some sad moments in it, but it makes it clear how many people are involved in raising a guide dog puppy, and how nothing is a guarantee.

Then, after you’ve watched the movie, you can take the Pick of the Litter quiz and see which puppy in the litter is most like your pup. I was sure they would say Tansy was like Phil, but apparently the quiz thinks she’s like Patriot. Hmmm. Not sure I agree, but hmmm. It thinks Trix was like Primrose. Hmmm. I would have put her as Poppet. I’m not doing well at this.

So if you like puppies, are interested in how guide dogs get to be guide dogs, or both, check it out. It seems pretty well-done.

The Tansy Scoop part 2

And now that I’ve put up the super time-sensitive and milestone-type stuff, here’s some random stuff that’s left over.

Tansy with a big fuzzy blob of pollen on her nose
I’m not a dog, I’m a bee.

I forgot to include a recent picture of Tansy, so here’s one that was taken close to her seventh birthday. I was at a conference, and when Tans went out to pee, she must have sniffed a flower and carried some pollen away with her. My coworker thought it looked hilarious so took a picture.

That poor colleague and I had a very confusing exchange. When I first saw her, she said “Wow, your new dog looks a lot like your old dog!” I wasn’t quite sure who she was because of being at a conference and so I made a comment about them both looking alike, but I was confused because Tansy isn’t what I would consider new. Then I realized who it was, deduced she hasn’t worked at our company for more than Tansy has been my guide, and it dawned on me that when she got the email a few months ago about Trixie’s passing, she thought Tansy had died. Then I thought she must have thought I was a real jerk, just replacing her right away with a new dog who looked exactly like her. I was able to explain things, but there were a few awkward pauses.

I’m not sure if I’ve written about this because it’s hard to search for, but when Tansy is holding a toy in her mouth, she makes this weird snort noise that tells you she’s holding something. It’s good to know, in case she decides to drop said thing on your foot, or squeak said thing in your ear.

A new thing I’ve noticed lately is when she’s really liking an ear rub or a butt scratch, she will make this growling, grunting noise to express her joy. I wish she’d done that sooner so I could have figured out her likes sooner. Oh well, it’s cute anyway.

There are moments that have been lost forever and I wish I could have gotten a picture of them, like the day she was playing with Steve and climbed right in his lap. She didn’t sort of put part of her body in his lap. No, all of her had crawled right up in his lap and stayed there for a few seconds. Or there was the time I was going to take her outside to pee at the end of the day, and she would not go outside until we had a snuggle on the floor.

As she gets older, her favourite songs phase her less and less. But her love of music is still a thing, and her latest song she likes is “My Own Worst Enemy by Lit.

I don’t know how long it will last, but hey, it’s fun while it’s a thing.

I’m starting to wonder if, when we can’t get our Google Home Mini to respond to us and we speak louder, if Tansy thinks we’re yelling at it. Sometimes, she acts similar to when she hears people yelling at each other. Poor, poor, sensitive Tansy.

But she’s not all sensitivity. As she gets older, she is more willing to hump other dogs! I thought her humpings were reserved for my brother’s dog, but apparently not. One day, when she was playing with Steve’s great aunt’s dog, she started humping her, over and over again! Shmans, I was cool with you getting away from humper dogs. I didn’t want you to become one!

I think I can also say that she was no fan of the fancy new emergency alert system and its multiple alerts. The first day, she didn’t seem to care, but by the second day, when they went off, she ran to multiple nearby people as if to ask, “What’s up with the screaming, shrieking things everywhere?”

Work is becoming a more and more interesting place for Tansy. A year and a bit ago, we got a manager that Tansy fell in love with immediately. Just the site of this woman turns Shmans into a leaping, snorting maniac. Thankfully she can keep it together when in harness, although she’s just waiting for her first chance to unleash her inner loopy Shmans. Then, another guy started working near me, and sometimes he brings his own dog in. We’re trying to work out how much interacting we want to happen. At least his dog is well-behaved and he understands why Tansy isn’t just a pet.

Tansy has always been impulsive, but she’s also becoming a bit of a planner about her impulsiveness as she matures if that’s even possible. One time, I took Tansy out to relieve and I was talking to a colleague who also is a big Tansy fan. Tansy was circling as if she was planning to relieve, but she circled in such away that she could swing around and playfully leap at my colleague. Sneaky devil was trying to trick me. She knew it was wrong to just go nuts on my friend, but she thought if I didn’t realize what she was doing until it was too late, maybe she could get away with it. I told her no but what a goof.

I had two funny stories involving random kids at the mall lately. One day, I was walking along and this little kid came running at Tansy. Then I heard a little voice yell “No! Don’t pet those dogs!” Good job, kid. Then another time, I was waiting in line to pay, and a kid reached to pet Tansy. When his father and I told him no, he said “That’s not a service dog, he has a leash,” only he said “leash” like “weash” which cracked me up. He said it as if to say “Ha ha, I’ve figured you out.” Sorry, Detective, you have some learning to do.

I have a few nephew stories but not many. My sister’s little guy is one smart cookie. He has figured out that when Tansy is working, she’s calm, and he’s not scared of her. He’s only scared of her if she gets goofy and starts wagging her tail or trying to kiss him or wants to play with the cats or something. He even will walk right with her if she’s working. That’s pretty awesome.

She’s always good stuff around all the little ones, even when they’re trying to jump over her, or when they manage to spill salt all over her like Steve’s sister’s little guy did. Tansy just lies still.

This last story is more about my brother’s dog than the little nephews. We went to meet the new nephew back in February, and we thought we’d let the dogs outside to romp because it wasn’t that cold and they were both acting a little out of their minds. We thought if they got their sillies out, they would lie quietly. Well, they got bored out there, and came back to the door and had a little barking contest. Yup, Tans is a brat if you let her outside and will bark to come back in. I just put her on a leash so she would calm down, and eventually they lay next to each other.

And now I’m left with the odds and ends.
I’ve mentioned before that sometimes Shmans has gotten it into her head that nighttime is playtime, especially if Steve ends up crashing out on the couch. So, I started tying her down at night if I made it to bed before he got in. But then I noticed that she seemed to be super tired the next day, so I wondered if she was managing to get any sleep that way. So I would start shutting the bedroom door instead. That seemed to do the job and she was less tired. But in the morning, when I would open the door, she would do a full lap of the house before waiting for her food. It’s funny. It’s like she’s making sure everything is where she left it.

I don’t know how I missed writing this down when we were in class together, but one day, when I had her outside to relieve and I was hoping she would pee, I started idly singing “Number 1, number 1, number 1 is so much fun, number 1, number 1, number 1 all day long.” One of my classmates started laughing and asked me what the heck I was singing, so I had to tell her about the numbers rumba. Of course she hadn’t heard of it.

I was thinking about that memory the other day and started singing it again, and someone went by and giggled. They probably think I’m nuts too.

I must be subconsciously thinking about visiting Tansy’s raisers again, because I had this wacky dream that I came to see them. The trip in the dream was pretty much like the real trip, right down to the month of the year, except we all went to a musical designed for dogs, and everybody was encouraged to let their dogs loose in the aisles at intermission. Her raisers were once again not expecting this, and I sure wasn’t. Then, suddenly, all the dogs were magnetically attracted to the one dog who was still on a leash! It must have been a combination of thinking about her raisers, my dog dreams always seeming to involve loose dogs, and maybe that story about a service dog running amuck in a Cats performance.

I just have one more story and then I’ll get out of here. Poor Tansy must find me super unpredictable. But I always thought that she knew that when that flexi leash comes out, we are going to the park. But, I guess this hasn’t been made crystal clear. A little while ago, I decided we would go to the park, but I would relieve her first so I didn’t have to carry around a nasty bag of dog plop while she played. Of course, she did in fact do the doo. So, I directed her back to the garbage can by the door so I could get rid of it. I have never seen a sadder dog. She didn’t walk back to the door, she moped back there. Then, when I got rid of the poop and turned toward the park, she was off like a shot! I think she seriously thought I was going to go “Psych!” and walk back in the building! I think my heart broke a little bit that day.

And that’s it for this epic deluge o stories. Hopefully I’ll be back sooner.

The Tansy Scoop part 1

Wow. The last time Tansy got a dedicated post was December! That’s just not cool! Of course, as a result, I have a metric ton of things to write down. This one could be a multi-parter.

Tansy has entered a time period I affectionately nicknamed “the year of the complex.” She has worked with me for five years and she is seven years old. That’s how old Trixie was, and the number of guiding years she had under her belt, when she told me that work wasn’t her thing anymore. So, I’m probably going to be a little, no, a lot jumpy as we go past all the landmark spots, even though the logical part of me knows every dog is different. Come on, Tans, shatter my complex!

On the veterinary side, she’s been pretty healthy, but in April, I found her first old labby lump. It was really small but I found it. I think the vets must have thought I was silly because when I showed it to them, I said “I think it’s fat because I can wiggle and jiggle and twiddle it! They confirmed my suspicions and we moved on, but eeek, she’s officially getting older! She may not have much visible grey, but she has a visible lumpy! She also had a wee cyst on her ear a few months ago that the vet popped, and another wee tiny lump that disappeared on its own. Her weight is going up and down like a yo yo. They even checked her for worms, and of course there weren’t any, but we’re confused. At this second it’s back up and I’m working on getting it down. The vet at GDB said to watch her weight closely, I guess he was right.

She also lost some hair on her paws during the winter, just like she did in 2016. The weirdest part is she was wearing all Pawz boots, so it can’t be the fault of the other ones. The vets just think it was as a result of friction from the boots, and we’re not worried for now.

And a couple of weeks ago, she developed a raging bladder infection, and because it was a stat holiday, I had to take her to the emergency vet to get it looked at. Yup, they confirmed she had a bladder infection and she came home with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs, the kind they gave to Trix after her dead tail episode. Tansy approves of them just as much as Trix did. I don’t know where the infection came from, but boy did it attack quickly. the night before it was in full swing, she bugged me to go pee a little more urgently than normal, but it was hot as hell at the time so I thought she just tanked up on water. Then in the morning, she was whining when we woke up, but I thought maybe she was just hungry. Then things got weird as she started asking for more and more trips outside, hurrying out there like she was going to burst, panting like mad. But we’ve started antibiotics and those lovely pain meds, so she’s much more content now. And the fee didn’t crush my bank account, so I’m all good too.

In all my years of having guide dogs, and dogs in general, I have never been to an emergency vet clinic before. What a heartbreaking experience. When I first arrived, for some reason I expected it to be a little busier, or maybe a more confined space, I don’t know why. When I walked inside, it felt like walking into a great barren room. I couldn’t even tell where the front counter was. Then we sat and waited, and while we did, we saw lots of people come in worried and leave crying! I had always heard that emergency clinics felt kind of scary because they are very focused on making sure they get paid, and I experienced that. When I called, they said they couldn’t tell me whether I should wait or come in, but here are the fees, and we don’t take American Express or cheque. They don’t take cheque? Wow! Then when I got there, they had me come up to the desk and got all my information, and then it was time to wait. I realized that it was kind of like the human ER. They do some basic triage, and then you wait and wait. I kept wondering when we were going to take her outside and get a urine sample, because they said without the urine, they couldn’t do anything. After finding out that it would be pretty hard for me to get it, they agreed to help me when I phoned in, but no one was offering to help when I got there, probably because they were doing all the triage stuff. My friend who drove me was awesome and got the sample collected so they could work on it while I waited. It didn’t seem busy, but I think a lot was going on behind the scenes, and judging by the crying people, a lot of it was not good news.

I should clarify that they were all very nice to me, but it was just a very different atmosphere than I was used to. Thankfully, the antibiotics and pain meds seemed to have fixed her up, and yesterday my regular vet place said that her urine looked clean, although they said the pH of her urine was a bit basic, I’m not sure how basic and what that will mean. I guess we’ll figure that out soon. Let’s hope I don’t have to go to an emergency vet anytime soon.

She had her followup in May, and things went well. Since I was worried about her asking for treats after every little thing, plus a few incidents where it felt like she didn’t want to show any initiative, and there are a few hairy routes around here that I could use some help on, an instructor came to see me. She gave me some tricks to help Tansy realize that I’m not a human treat dispenser. She thought Tansy was just using her pattern-recognition skills to expect treats a little too often. Over all, she said we looked like a well-seasoned team and she was impressed with how quick Tansy picked up on things. Yup, she’s still a ninja. We’ve done that route a couple of times since, and she loves doing it. It’s fun to watch her get so excited. She also told me something about duck as a protein. She said it was known as a cooling protein. The way she explained it was different than that website, but she said it was helpful in calming allergies and would help reduce inflammation. Uh, cool, I guess.

Like I said, I had experienced a few incidents where Tansy didn’t want to show any initiative in getting around people and things, and that scared me. We would be in the mall and there would be a crowd of people but some space around the edges. Instead of seeking the space, she would just stand behind the people, waiting for them to move. A couple of times we were crossing a street and a car appeared and she would just stand near it, daring it to move. And one day, she seemed hesitant to get on an escalator, and that one scared me because speed is key with escalators. But the no initiative has gotten much better, so I’m going to assume she was tired and going on autopilot a little too much. As for the escalator, it’s a mystery for now. So far, so good.

Something else she was doing in the winter was when it was time to leave the house to go somewhere, she would squish herself against the couch and go super quiet as if she was hiding from me. That one scared me too because I wasn’t sure if she was less keen to go. But I think she was just less keen on winter. I can agree with her on this one.

But she is getting older. Like Trix did near the end, she has started to want to lie down when we ride the bus more. That scares me because I don’t think it was long after Trix started lying down that her career was over. But Shmans has always been one to conserve energy whenever she could, so I’m not super worried yet. She also sleeps more deeply at work now, so much so that she dreams more.

I really feel like things have gone full circle. Remember when Tansy was new and she would search the house for Trixie? I felt like I got a very small bit of that the day Trix passed away. When I came home after saying my final goodbyes to Trixie, Tansy would not stop sniffing me. I think she knew something was up, but I wish I knew what she knew. She gave me a very thorough inspection, it seemed even more thorough than the one that I get if I’ve been without her and seen a familiar person or dog, but I’m not sure if I was projecting my own thoughts on her. But when we went to Brad’s house a few months later, she didn’t do nearly as much investigation as I would have predicted since I thought she would be expecting Trix to be there.

In a final bit of sad news, I found out that last month, Sasha, the dog from Tansy’s puppyhood that I got to meet, finally passed away. She was 18 and I think her quality of life had diminished so much that it was her time. It’s still sad, and would be sad no matter how long she lived.

And I think I will break the post here. I have another post full of things, but this one is long enough.

What Dogs Are Seeing When They Watch TV


I was interested in watching this video because quite often, Tansy will come out and sit by one of us, get some pets and stare intently at the television. Her two favourite things seem to be crime stuff like Cops and Live PD, or any of the vet shows we watch, especially the Incredible Dr. Pol. The second category makes sense to us because those shows are full of animals, but aside from the occasional police dog we have no idea what draws her to Cops beyond it being the best show ever. We don’t get an answer to that specifically, but it’s still pretty interesting.

Music Does Soothe The Anxious Canine!

Tansy has taught us that music can be exciting and soothing, although lately, she has been less excited by her old favourites. Is that a thing of the past? But, if she has to be left alone, Easy 101 still keeps her very calm.

Now, a guy has developed music for stressed dogs, and you know what? It kind of sounds like something that might play on an easy-listening station.

I let the sample song in the story play, and I didn’t notice any effect, but Tansy was already seeming pretty chill, so maybe I should try it when I’m doing laundry.

You can read the full story of this awesome project and learn more about why Shmans loves Easy 101.

An Update On The Other Nephews

So, I posted a pretty big description of the one mephew in the holiday wrap-up. I went to see the two other ones about a month ago, and have been wanting to write things down ever since. Soon I’m going to have to come up with nicknames for these little grabbers so everyone can tell them apart.

I talked about the other nephew chucking stuff and then, thanks to me, going “oops!” Well, my sister’s little guy does things in reverse. Before he throws something, he says something that sounds like “Sukie jukie!” The sukie part sounds like sushi, and the jukie part sounds like Jupitor. Yes, he made up his own code word for “I’m going to chuck this!” We have no idea where he got it from. He doesn’t go to daycare yet, so it’s not from there. But it definitely means “get ready, this is so going airborn.” Sometimes, when he knows he shouldn’t throw something, he gets this mischievous grin on his face while he’s saying it. There’s a whole logic to it, because when Tans was eating and some food flew over the edge of the dish, he said “Sukie Doggie!” Which I think meant “That dog is throwing her food around!”

He has been a little slower to walk, mostly because he’s a very caughtious little guy. But when I saw him last, he was grabbing our fingers and going “Walk!” and walking around with us. At one point, he even grabbed my finger when I was with Tansy and got me to walk with him. Maybe, just maybe, Tansy is getting less scary to him.

He is really trying to speak, and it’s adorable. He points at anything he wants to have more of, and says “Open!” Either that, or he makes the sign for “more.” His favourite number is 2, and I don’t think he quite knows what it means, but most times, 2 is the right answer. “How many eyes do I have?” “2!” And how many ears do I have?” “2!” “And how many noses do I have?” “2!'” Um, uh-oh.

Most of us have funny names. I am “Carrot” to him. That makes sense. My mom is “Nanna.” That makes sense. My brother gets referred to as “Holy Moly” which makes sense if you know that the last time he saw him, he said “Holy moly!” to him a lot. But for reasons we don’t know, He calls my dad “Ducky!” He knows that the rest of us, when talking to him about my dad, call him Grandpa,” but he is “Ducky!” We will even say “Where is Grandpa?” and he will point at him and say “Ducky!” The things kids will come up with.

He is really listening, and to more than just the words we say directly to him. When we went to see him, my parents and I stayed in a hotel room so we wouldn’t be crashing at either my brother’s or sister’s place. After we left, my sister said that she heard him saying “Nana, Ducky, Carrot, hotel.” again and again. Yup, the boy is a sponge.

I knew that he loved to sing and dance, but we got to watch him do it, while I learned that I know precious little about the songs that play on “Thomas the Tank Engine.” He had this little book that had the words to the songs, with buttons that would play the various tunes. I don’t know how some of the songs worked at all. The words didn’t seem to fit into the melodies! But my mom started getting into one of the songs, and he responded. Next thing we knew, he was sort of singing along and wiggling back and forth in time to the music. I think we sang those songs for a good 45 minutes. My sister called it the song circle.

The older nephew, the one that’s almost 3, believe it or not, is full of crazy energy. It was hard to get him to sit down and eat his friggin dinner! If you let him, he would eat on the move!

Steve found out about this series of books by Chris Ferrie that are all about scientific concepts for babies. We both agreed that that was meant for my brother to read to this little guy. So, I went a little nuts and bought him 3 books from the series: one about quantum physics, one about Newtonian physics, and one about rocket science. Apparently, so far, the quantum physics one has been a hit! My brother says he gets asked to read it again and again and again. He even sent me a recording of him reading it, and the little guy getting all into it. He really loves “the green guys!” Those would be the electrons, apparently.

It’s funny to watch him play with the toys intended for my sister’s kid who is about a year and a half. Even though he’s much older, he can still find them fun to play with.

And now, for the biggest news. On Tuesday, I got another nephew. The little guy who is all into Quantum Physics has a little brother. I really have to come up with nicknames for the nephews or this is going to get super confusing and hard to follow. I don’t think the older one knows what the heck all of this means, even though we’ve been trying to prepare him by reading books about little brothers and little sisters and all that stuff. I thought it was funny that when they got out the smaller baby seat, the little guy tried to climb into it. No, you’re too big for that now. He must have been wondering if he got to choose which seat he should ride in.

You can tell he sort of gets what’s going on, because when he was at daycare, he started running around going “I’m a big brother!” along with his best buddy who also recently became a big brother. Man, he’s adorable.

I think that’s about it. The next time I will have updates, there will be a new little baby to write about.

Have A Giant Holiday Wrap-Up

Holy crap, it’s 2018. I feel like these holidays snuck up on us, then jumped on us, and now I’m still in disbelief that they’re over. In a small sense, they’re not quite over because I haven’t seen the nephews on my side of the family and we might see them this weekend, but everything else is over.

I think the Christmas season would have been a bit merrier if there wasn’t a roving cold going through the family making people sick one after another. This cold/flu/whatever the heck wasn’t messing around. It sent some pretty tough people to the doctor, and hung around plaguing some other pretty tough people for a week or two. It seems to hit you, then just when you think you’ve fought it off, it comes back for a second round of punches. I haven’t got it yet, and I really hope I don’t.

We got tons of time with Steve’s sister’s little guy. That boy can move, climb, do stairs, and his new favourite thing is throwing things. Food, toys, things that aren’t toys…you name it, if it’s within range, it’s probably going for a trip if you don’t catch him in time. I accidentally taught him a new word, but I think he misunderstands its meaning. Whenever anything would clatter to earth, I would say “oops” or “oopsy” or “woops.” Now, he says them after hurling something to the ground. Um, oops.

He’s adorable and a lot of fun. One hilarious thing he does is if you sing a song like “the wheels on the bus,” he doesn’t sing, but he does all the hand actions, and if you’re not singing, he stares at you. He also loves it if you laugh and cover your mouth when you do it. Like most kids his age, he loves having the same book read over and over. I think I could read the “Grandma and me” book from memory. I was almost hoping he would bring it to me and ask me to read it.

Watching him move around puts a whole new perspective on the world and how many things could be scary in it when you don’t know what they do. You can suddenly lose your balance and fall over. You can fail to realize you are under a table, stand up and bash your head. Doors can pinch your wee fingers. People way bigger than you can accidentally bonk you. There are hot things, sharp things, things that look like smarties that aren’t, things that look like they could be fun that aren’t, things that were fun that now no longer are, and they’re all waiting for you to set them off. How in the world do we survive this stage without crumpling into sad heaps of fear?

But instead of being scared, he is full of curiosity and wonder! Many times, you can hear him say “Ooo!” or “Wow!” as he looks at something. He is full of wonder, wondering what that is that he has just found, and we are forced to wonder what he just found and what that might mean.

He also makes it very clear that modesty is a learned thing. He got this adorable, fuzzy bathrobe for Christmas. He came down to show it off to us, and he looked like this little bundle of fuzz with hands and feet sticking out. Then, in a flash, the robe fell off and there he was in his birthday suit, and he didn’t care! He ran through the basement and we had to convince him to put it back on. We had to watch out that he didn’t just stop and pee on a random book. Oh no, “Grandma and Me” might be “Grandma and Wee!”

He got several adorable toys, and their songs and sound effects will follow me for quite some time. One was this little barn with animals and songs.

That video doesn’t have all the songs in it, and it even cuts off the end of one of them, but it has 3 of them that are chasing me around. I’m a terrible person. In the one that says “you give them all the things they need, and you get love in return,” I wasn’t thinking, and for a moment I was mortified. “What? Did it say you’ll get lunch in return?” I thought. Thankfully, I kept my mouth shut and heard what it really said.

Another big hit was this firetruck.

To the dad in this video, go ahead and let Dannie chuck it. It will survive just fine. I don’t think we’ve heard half the things it will say, but it likes to sing the song about “heading out to help, everyone in town, in our red firetruck, hear the siren sound.” We also heard a lot about seeing the flashing lights, and putting the ladder up and down.

There were some other big hits he got, but I can’t remember what they’re called so I can’t find the videos. One was a digger with a little backup beeper on it. Now, when I hear a real backup beeper, I keep hearing “Cat power!” in my head.

He also tested Shmans’s tolerance for little kidlets, and she was amazing. He would fall over her, hug her, try to feed her his bottle of milk, and she took it like a champ. How many times did I pet her and find her with sticky spots where he had probably been? Poor Shmans.

And if he wasn’t testing her patience, there were other doggies who would join in. This was so funny. I brought her into another gathering and kept her in harness. There were two little tiny dogs and several children there, so I was hoping to keep her calm. But this one dog thought there was something wrong with her and just kept poking at her. Sniff her eyes, sniff her harness, sniff her butt. It made me think of how we test responses of people who are in comas by shining lights in their eyes or pinching some skin to see if they flinch. Shmans was not responding, and this made the little dog more insistent. I realized that she would not leave her alone, so after getting approval from the people who owned the house, I let her loose. I don’t think I have ever seen two happier dogs. I think the little dog was sure she had just resuscitated Shmans, and Shmans was so happy to let loose. For the rest of the afternoon, the two dogs could be found playing under the table and being goofballs.

Tans was also amazing because about 3:30 in the morning when all this craziness was set to start, Tans barfed on our carpet. It seems I haven’t documented this fully, but at least once a year, Tans will barf. It’s always in a different month of the year, and we’ve started calling it playing barf bingo. The first two episodes have been talked about, but it happened again in August of 2015, then November of 2016, and just when I was a little too confident that we would make it through 2017 without incident, there it was. She had gotten sick once earlier in the week, but I only saw the evidence after I had fed her her breakfast, so I couldn’t make her skip a meal. Everything seemed to be going along ok, and then on the morning of Christmas Eve, we awoke to what sounded like someone slowly pouring a bottle of water on the floor. Yuck! So that breakfast got skipped, and despite everything being nuts, she didn’t have another upset through the whole holiday insanity.

Tans and Trix didn’t play much, but they got a couple of sessions in. Trix still likes to bark. But Trix is definitely getting older. I can actually hear her legs shuffling along. Don’t get me wrong, she can move, and she did a lot of moving to try and chase people around the kitchen all holiday, but the shuffle is audible. I think she might be moving a little better now, since the poor beasty had to have a toe amputated because it was full of some nasty cancer. They say the cancer didn’t make it to the bone, so she might be ok, but yikes! I don’t know if I’ve lost my mind, but Trix’s head looks noticeably smaller than Tans’s. Is this just something I’ve never noticed before or could it have shrunk? That’s probably not possible, so I’m going to go with the idea that I’m nuts and Trix’s head has always been smaller. Finally, she has this obsession with water, so much so that we have to restrict it, and we have to keep lids down on toilets and bathroom doors closed so she doesn’t try to suck water out of the shower drain or slurp it out of the john. We had to keep the little nephew out of the bathroom anyway, and couldn’t leave water down because if we did, he would probably make his own lake with it, but it’s so strange to see Trix need the restrictions. She hasn’t drank out of a toilet since she was new with me. I told her no and that was that. Now, it’s like she’s driven by a compulsion to drink more than she could ever need. In fact, Brad says if you let her, sometimes she would drink until it just comes back up. She has been tested for all the physical things that could make her thirsty and they come up normal, so we’re left with the conclusion she is doing it because old dog is old. I definitely am trying to get my Trix snuggles in when I can, again, because old dog is old. She seems to think I’m a decent person still, thank goodness.

Steve’s dad moved at the end of November. Now, we should never run into last year’s problem of not being able to get him to Christmas stuff. His place is much smaller than he had, but I think it’s perfect for him, and we all fit in it, even with two dogs and a baby walking around. It was neat to finally see it, since we hadn’t been there yet.

I have learned that I can be such a baby. Steve’s stepdad bought this game called Pie Face. Basically, there’s this apparatus with a chin rest and another part that’s slathered with whipped cream. Every time you turn the handle, there’s the potential to get a splat of whipped cream to the face. So, you have to spin the dial, and whatever number it comes up with, you have to turn the handles that many times while your chin is resting on this chin rest. If you manage to spin it the prescribed number of times without getting splorched, you get the points. In our game, you got double the points. In any case, once you make it to 25 points, you’re safe.

Here’s a video of some people playing it.

Let’s just say that’s not the way I looked. Apparently they have hilarious video of me. I look like I’m playing Russian Roulette. I know my face was all screwed up, and I did not like turning that handle. I kept hearing people saying “She looks like she’s going to have a heart attack!” It was a fun game…there was just something really freaky about never quite knowing when you were going to get covered in goo. That sounds gross.

While I’m all weirded out by getting splattered with whipped cream, some people really don’t like those gift exchanges where you can trade gifts with other people. At one gathering, the way it works is everybody brings something kind of generic that anybody might be able to enjoy. If you’re a woman, you bring something more feminine, if you’re a guy, you bring something more masculine, so there are enough things and everybody gets something. So, all the women draw cards and pick from the girls’ pile and show everybody what they got. Then they draw again and choose to either keep what they have or trade with someone else. The people who drew higher cards have a greater chance of leaving with what they want. Then the guys do the same thing.

There’s this one guy who just hates this game. He always gets annoyed when someone takes his gift, or in the old days when anyone could take anything, when he would end up with a more girly gift. Apparently, he has always been not the biggest fan of this game, so it’s not because he’s getting older or anything. It’s almost become a sport to make him trade, just to watch him get all sad. Yes, we’re evil. I don’t know if he just wants to get something and keep it, or if he can’t remember all the things and it’s too hard, but every year, he gets annoyed. If he would just be cool about it, we’d probably leave him alone.

So that’s the run-down of our Christmas craziness. Like I said before, we decided not to go out last night to hopefully head off this stupid cold. So it’s back to work with me. We just have the nephews on my side to see and then we’ll be all done.

What can I say about 2017? For us personally, it was a pretty decent year. We all were healthy, the nephews got a little older, we went to some shows, everything stayed relatively ordinary, which is the way we like years to go. As for the world, that was another story. It’s never good when every time you look at news, you just keep saying “That can’t be real! That’s not possible,” but it is. It is frightening to see so much open racism and hatred, but I’m happy to see a lot of resistance to that hatred so it’s not all bad. I really hope 2018 can bring better things for everyone.

Tansy Stuff

It’s almost Christmas, holy moly, so I thought I should write another Tans post. Amazingly, this one *shouldn’t* be a monster.

I was feeling pretty good about our progress with Tans in the hatch. Well, all of that fell apart when once again, she rode with something that bumped her as we rode. Now, her upset in the hatch has increased. She doesn’t care about a bone at all, and if you’re not careful, when we arrive at our destination, she will jump out of the hatch and run for the nearest safe person. That was embarrassing. We were driving to the Mandarin, and she was shaking and being completely wigged out. When we arrived, Brad was nearby. We opened the hatch, and didn’t have a prayer of catching her. She was in the air and out of there before you could say “Wait!” Sheesh, how embarrassing. I don’t know quite what to do now except ask if there’s any way to fasten things down that are riding with her, and start anew at rebuilding her trust in the hatch.

It’s weird how she reacts differently to different kids. My brother’s son can come see her and she’s as calm as anything, but apparently, my sister’s son makes her super excited, and has since he was a wee baby. The sad part is he’s the nervous one…so Tans’s thumping tail and excitement is not helping make the kid feel more at ease near her. As for Steve’s sister’s little guy, I think she’s mostly indifferent to him. I know she has licked his face a couple of times and he hasn’t been thrilled, but that’s about all I remember.

I know I have commented earlier about Tansy’s ability to snore, but it feels like lately, she has been snoring even more. I was so worried that when she was going to the vet for something else, I asked about it. Everything seems to be in order, so they’re thinking she’s just getting older.

So, you might be wondering why she was headed for the vet. Well, apparently leptospirosis, like Santa Claus, is coming to town, and the vet was recommending vaccination. That’s just freaky. I’ve never had to vaccinate her against it because I don’t play on trails or hang out in the woods. Trix started getting vaccinated when she went to Brad because they do romp on trails and could come in contact with wildlife. But I wonder what brought Lepto into town. Is it the weird weather? Very strange developments.

It’s a good thing that happened, because we discovered that Tans peeled off a kilogram in record time. We’re confused, but I raised the food a quarter cup, and we’ll see if that improves things. She has to go back on Saturday for her lepto booster, and we’ll get her weighed again. Hopefully we won’t have a medical mystery to unravel.

I am starting to think that the news will be good, though, because after increasing her food, it’s like she got younger again. She has been much more alert, much more playful and very much more peppy. Also, her fur got a lot smoother. This has happened before, so I shouldn’t be surprised, but the thing is we had to adjust down to this amount because she seemed to be gaining. We’re not walking a ton more, so I can’t figure out why the need changed. At any rate, sorry about that, Shmans. The decrease in energy happened so gradually that I just thought she was getting a bit older. Also, she wasn’t diving for stuff, so it never entered my mind. I wonder why her metabolism seems to vary so wildly.

As I combed through the blog posts about Shmans, I noticed that I never wrote a couple of things down that need a place. First, I did note that she reacted to her rabies vaccine in 2014. But, I never documented that when we did it in 2016, they gave her a shot of Benadryl and that seemed to have prevented a reaction. She never has reactions to other ones, so I wonder what makes her body flip out about the Rabies one. Or, was it just a one-off? At any rate, any time she gets a vaccination, I ask them where they gave it to her so I can watch the spot.

A quirk I never wrote down is when Tans gets excited and is flying around the room, sometimes she will try to climb up people’s legs or parts of furniture. She doesn’t try really hard, just sometimes Steve or I will suddenly find ourselves being pawed on the legs or sometimes we will see a couple of front legs up on the couch. One time, I heard Brad say “Get off the couch.” I was floored because I’d never seen her jump on furniture. Now I think I know what’s going on. My question is what is she trying to accomplish? Or, did she momentarily forget she was a grown dog and thought she had a wee tiny body that could climb things? She will also ping pong off the sides of things, sometimes hard things, and she doesn’t seem to care. Tans, you’re wacky.

I think that’s about it for now. I’m sure I will have lots more Tansy stories after the holidays.

Updates On the Two Black Beasts

I have some time, so I figured I should write about the two black beasts I know so the post doesn’t grow into a monster.

Tansy went to the vet for her annual checkup a month or so ago, and they said she looked great. They did comment that she does have a tiny bit of grey under her eyes. Nobody else comments on it, so it must be pretty subtle. Yes, Shmans does age. This is a big difference from Trix, who looked noticeably grey when she was only 3. Tans is 6, almost 6 and a half. This is good.

You can tell that Tans is ever so slightly settling down. She’s still nuts, but she calms down faster and tires out easier. Even the vet noticed that she was a smidge calmer. I didn’t think that was possible.

I also noticed that she’s not quite fearless. If we’re out on the balcony and the wind picks up in a certain way, she becomes insistant that we get our butts inside. You know what? As much as we’re probably safe out there, she has a point.

But I think she’s having a bit of a midlife crisis, or going through a late rebellious phase right now. Like I said before, she sometimes forgets the rule that she should stay in bed until I get up. She only does this if Steve is on the couch. I try to remember to tie her down if it looks like he’s going to stay on the couch. I tried only doing it for a short time, but as soon as I didn’t tie her down, she still got up and exuberantly greeted him at 3 in the morning when he was trying to sleep.

And just this morning, even though she knows the kitchen is out of bounds, she trotted in there like she owned the place. When Steve busted her, boy did she run back to bed and stay there.

Our buddy J was down for a visit. It was nice having him around. It felt like he had always been here. It was nice to think back on old memories. But I think Tansy loved having him around even more than we did! I swear, she would have gone home with him without a second thought! It was something else to behold, especially since they met once before without Tansy showing him all this affection. But this time, all she wanted to do was snuggle up to him, play with him, act like a total wackjob around him. It was a little spooky, since he said he was thinking about getting a guide dog, and it was like Tansy had decided she was the salesdog for GDB, trying to make it as appealing as possible.

Shmans is definitely quirky. Someone who sits near me started bringing their dog in. The dog seems perfectly good, and the person keeps the dog on a leash. It is interested in Tans, but it’s a dog, of course it is. But it behaves itself. Tans, on the other hand, started acting weird. Without provocation, she would get up from her bed and run to me. I would say hello and send her back to bed, and she would go back there, but this would keep happening. Then one day, Tans was playing with a couple managers that work nearby, they came over to see us. She got really excited, sprinted over to the other dog, played with it for a minute, and then came back. Now that I think about it, after she did that, she hasn’t been running to me every so often. Was she asking permission to go say hi to the dog, and that’s all she wanted?

She did something else weird, and slightly disturbing, at work. The fire alarm went off one day. Instead of just coming to me so I could leash and harness her up, she ran to some colleagues across the way. Um, chief? This is one of those times when I need you in a hurry!

I know I talked about Tansy barking at the door when she wanted to come back in when we were at the raisers place. Apparently, she will do it anywhere when she wants to get back in. When we were visiting Brad a few weeks ago, we went inside while the dogs were playing outside since Brad’s yard is all fenced. All of a sudden, we hear this squeaky yelpy bark at the door. There’s Tans, wanting to be back inside. Very very interesting. At least she doesn’t scratch the door or do other obnoxious things.

On the subject of Trix, she’s still doing well, but you can see that she’s 12 and a half. When we were there, Brad commented that it’s nice to see a dog making full use of the yard, since Trix just sort of sticks close.

Also, I saw how little Trix likes to chew bones. Shmans made short work of a chew that had been laying on the floor that Trix hadn’t touched in a long while, and found a bone that had just been laying out in the yard. We were sitting outside, and suddenly I heard “chew chew gnaw gnaw” and said “Um, what has Shmans found?” It was just a bone that Trix had left alone. That would not have been possible previously.

Trix has been nicknamed the bearded lady, since she has a definite white beard.

I could be crazy, but it seems like Trix feels the heat even more than she used to. After we came in from a walk, and had been in for a while, Trix was still going “puffa puffa puffa.” She would even do it if we hadn’t been out. I know it was hot that weekend, but woe.

But Tans still managed to annoy the heck out of Trix on our walk because she wanted to sniff every square inch of space, and Trix wanted to go go go! Brad says Trix likes to do that, but does not approve if she’s not the one calling the shots. Well well well.

It’s weird to see the dogs get up in the morning and not make a heap of noise. They just got up, I fed Tans, and put her outside to do her thing. Trix just sort of paced around and waited for Tans to get back in. I think she might have gotten fed. Then she went outside. Then they both came back in, puffed and snorted at each other and that was that. That would not have happened a few years ago. There would have been much chasing, wrestling, lion growling and roofing.

So here’s a scary factoid for the long-time readers. This coming Saturday, Trix will have been with Brad for 5 years. I had Trix for about 5 and a half. Wow. I’m so happy Trix has had a long, happy retirement.

I think that’s about it for now. I wish I had pictures, but I’m lame and didn’t even think of taking some when we had both dogs together and might have been able to convince someone to take them. Hopefully I’ll have more beast updates sooner rather than later.