The Hard Goodbye.

Happy National Dog Mom Day to all of you dog moms out there!

Now seems as good of a day as any to jump back in to blogging, as I should have already updated you on what’s happening in my dog life. Truth be told, I have been dreading writing about it. Mainly because I’m terrified I’m not going to do it the justice it deserves. If you follow me on all the regular social media outlets, you might have known that in the last 14 months, I said hello to a rescue whom we named Luna and had to say goodbye to my darling princess pupcicle, Addy, which was one of the worst days of my life. I think I handled it fairly well. And by fairly well, I mean, I laid in bed or on the couch hugging Beanie (Ann’s dog, who pretended to hate Addy but I think ended up missing her more than all of us). I certainly handled it much better than I thought I would: which was to drink heavily and completely fall apart. There was a bit of falling apart, but mostly compartmentalizing based on the rationale that I was doing what was best for her.

I 100% stand by that rationale. Addy was approaching 13 years old, which for a Labrador was well beyond the 10 year life expectancy. She was walking slower, never went upstairs, and spent most of her days sleeping. She was on several medications for arthritis and pain and it was becoming clear they were no longer working as well as they should.

But when I looked in her eyes, there was—as always—love and happiness. And so I told myself that it wasn’t time to say goodbye—although I made both Ann and the vet promise that if they thought it was time, they would let me know and even harassed April on her last visit about her thoughts. Probably not fair to put that on any of them (other than the vet), but sometimes you need to hear it from someone you love that it’s okay to say that it’s time.

Enter Luna. On a cold and snowy March morning, I’m downstairs enjoying my coffee in the quiet still of the morning when I hear Ann yell from upstairs “Uh, Sherry, COME HERE!” My first thought: oh shit what did Toulouse (aka The Evil Kitty) do? And from the moment of standing up and setting my coffee on the table to walking up the stairs, I envisioned numerous scenarios of things Toulouse destroyed or puked on or god only knows what else.

But no, Ann was looking out the window into our backyard and pointing at one of the dilapidated sheds. “What is that? Is that a dog? I think it’s a dog.” I squint towards the shed and all I can see is a fluffy, dingy head popping up and down and up and down and up and down. Ann asked “Is that Rocky?” (the dog from down the street) and immediately we hoofed it down the stairs and ran out to the shed. We peeked in one of the windows and breathed a sigh of relief. It was not Rocky. But it was below freezing and this fluffy bucket was a mangled mess, freezing, and probably starving and thirsty. The only problem was the door was iced shut and the windows too tall to climb into. We knew we absolutely had to get her out. We had no clue how to do it.

After about 30 minutes of prying on the door, we finally managed to open it enough for me to squeeze through. At first, Luna shied away from me but saw the towel in my hand and I think her survival skills overrode her fear and she jumped into my arms. I say “she” but that was only a guess and being used to having girl dogs. Her hair was so matted that we couldn’t tell what gender she was just by looking.

We took her in to the vet, who was visibly angry at the state in which we found her. He said said she looked healthy, but he honestly couldn’t do a proper exam unless they shaved her. I agreed and several hours later, he called back to say it took two people over 2 hours to get her shaved and she was severely emaciated, but thankfully did not show any signs of long term damage because of this. She lost two pounds of hair and was down to a very tiny eight pounds (a far cry from the 80 pound Labrador waiting at home!). However, the most concerning thing he found was that the limp Luna had when we found her was not because of the massive mats under her paws but rather because every single bone in her paw had been broken. EVERY SINGLE BONE.

Even worse than that? Her bones had already started to heal crookedly, so that her paw was at a right angle to her leg. She needed a cast to give her a better chance of it healing somewhat straight, however, to get a cast on required rebreaking all the bones and straightening them back into place. Poor baby girl. We scheduled the surgery for the following day and brought her home, wrapped in a blankie that she still loves to lay on.

As I mentioned earlier, Addy was no longer going up the stairs, but I didn’t want her to feel left out with this new puppy in the house, so Luna and I slept downstairs with her for the first couple of weeks. Slowly Luna got healthier, started gaining weight, and trusting us. Not-so-slowly Addy’s decline seem to be in a free fall and between the two of them, we were at or on the phone with the vet sometimes up to three times a week.

And then it happened. I gave Addy a treat and she choked on it. After I cleared her throat, I looked at her. Really looked at her and I knew. I knew it was time. I could see it in her eyes. She was tired, she was in pain, and I knew at that moment I had to let her go. A life without treats for Addy was not a life at all. I didn’t know how, but I knew that it was time to say goodbye.

I made the appointment, but her vet wouldn’t be back in the office for a couple of days. I took this opportunity to spoil the shit out her every waking moment and gave her all the human foods that she loved to eat: strawberries, cheese, bread, spaghetti, steak, cake, and one final bacon cheeseburger with fries. From the moment I made the decision and booked the appointment, I knew somewhere in my breaking heart that it was the right one. I worried that Addy would think I was replacing her with Luna, but in the car ride home from the vet while hugging Addy’s collar I realized that it was Luna who allowed Addy to be set free because Addy didn’t have to hide the pain anymore, pretending to be okay for my sake. Addy knew that she could go because now Luna was there and Addy wouldn’t be leaving me alone. My only hope is that Addy knew how much of a Labrador-sized hole she would leave in my heart when she laid her head in my lap for the very last time.

Memoirs of a Princess Pupcicle: Chocolate Lab

I would like to start this post out by acknowledging that chocolate is very bad for dogs.  I do not give my dog chocolate.  Nor do I condone any dog eating–or even licking–chocolate.

But, well, I have a Labrador.  And when it comes to food, Labradors are exceptionally crafty.  As I have mentioned before, ninjas could take lessons from Princess Adelaide Grace.

One year for Christmas, a friend was so very kind to send me a kilo of dark chocolate from Haigh’s Chocolates in Adelaide (hahaha, Adelaide.  Not that I’m laughing at the city itself, just the irony of the chocolate coming from a place with the same name as the princess).  My friend didn’t tell me what she sent in her magical package, which arrived one day in early December.  It was filled with a Christmas card, a letter, and a few small wrapped gifts.  The card just said “Happy Christmas!” and the accompanying letter told of a year filled with adventure and fun.

Nowhere was there any mention that I should keep the largest/heaviest of the wrapped gifts far, far away from the princess’s reach.  It was all nicely wrapped and so I put it under the tree.  For nearly two weeks, Adelaide (the dog, not the city) seemed uninterested in any of the packages from Adelaide (the city, not the dog).  Since Adelaide (the dog, although perhaps also the city) cannot contain her excitement when she smells food, I presumed that nothing in the packages was edible.  Therefore, I did not believe any packages from Adelaide (the city, not the dog) would be tempting to Adelaide (the dog, not the city).

HAHAHAHAHA. Wow! I was spectacularly wrong!

One day while I was leaving work, Ann sends the following text:

what’s Haigh’s?

To which, I responded:

An amazing chocolatier in Australia.

The reply back with a picture:

would it have been wrapped in Christmas paper?

I responded:

uh…maybe…why?

Of course, I was on the subway and since phone service was sketchy, I couldn’t call Ann.  What I did manage to do was text my friend in Adelaide, who confirmed that the AWOL package was, in fact, a full kilo of dark chocolate, not just a small bar of chocolate.  I relayed that information to Ann.  The second I came above ground, I called and received the following diatribe:

YEP! YOUR FUCKING DOG ATE THE FUCKING CHOCOLATE.  ALL OF IT.  EVERY LAST MORSEL! GONE!  IT’S ALL OVER HER FACE AND SHE’S JUST LYING ON YOUR BED BASKING IN THE GLORY OF EATING ALL THE FUCKING CHOCOLATE!  AND NOW I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO!  SHOULD I TAKE HER TO THE VET?  SHE SEEMS FINE BUT SHE COULD DIE!  I CAN’T BELIEVE SHE ATE ALL THE CHOCOLATE!  I MEAN, YES I CAN, BUT WHY?!?!?!  IT COULD KILL HER!  DOES SHE KNOW THIS?  OF COURSE SHE FUCKING DOES, BUT SHE OBVIOUSLY DOESN’T CARE BECAUSE SHE ATE ALL THE GODDAMN CHOCOLATE!

After several minutes of panicked back and forth about the antics of my newly minted Chocolate Lab, I hung up and immediately called the vet.  After explaining Addy’s dalliance to the vet tech who answered the phone, I was put on a brief hold and the vet himself came on the line.  After repeating the story to him, he asked a couple of questions about how Addy was doing.  I replied no vomiting, no diarrhea, no sluggish behavior, and that according to my roommate, she is happy as a clam and proudly flaunting the remnants of her feast.

To which the vet responded:

well wouldn’t you be happy as a clam if you just ate a kilo of dark chocolate?!?

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Touché!

Thankfully the worst thing to come out of this was that a) I was deprived of some delectable chocolate (the real tragedy of this story!) and b) now the pupcicle thinks she is immune to the evil effects of chocolate to dogs and is constantly trying to sneak a taste when I’m not looking.

sigh… #lifewithlabs

Sunday Comics: National Humor Month

I find it rather ironic (aka lazy of me) to not have posted any Sunday Comics in April, aka National Humor Month.

Oops.

Being the last day of April and, conveniently falling on a Sunday, I have decided it’s better late than never.  Plus for full disclosure, I must confess that I only learned it was National Humor Month this morning when I came across this article from the Huffington Post.  I would like to point out–for the record–that their article was originally published on April 26th, so I don’t feel like too much of a slacker for waiting a few more days (also, we’re going to TOTALLY ignore that it was published in 2012…like I said: I only found it today)!

The article highlights a few reasons laughter is the best medicine–which to me ranks higher than apples and slightly lower than wine or coffee (although having both wine and/or coffee does help the laughter flow, so really they are all interrelated).

  • Laughter Reduces Stress: When stressed, we produce a hormone called cortisol. Laughter can significantly reduce cortisol levels.
  • Laughter Can Reduce Pain: Laughter causes us to produce endorphins, which are natural, pain-killing hormones.
  • Laughter Strengthens the Immune System: A hearty laugh decreases stress hormones and increases production of T-cells, immune proteins and infection-fighting antibodies.
  • Laughter Helps the Heart: When we laugh we increase blood flow and the function of blood vessels, which can help prevent cardiovascular problems.
  • Laughter Relaxes the Whole Body: One good belly laugh can relieve physical tension and relax your muscles for up to 45 minutes.
  • Laughter Helps You Recharge: By reducing stress levels and increasing your energy, laughter can help you focus and achieve more.

You can read the full article here.  And if you click on the link of Sunday Comics (here or above), you can see all my noble attempts to help keep you healthy!

Without further ado, here’s a video that makes me laugh every. single. time.  Probably because this is soooooo Addy–not the German Shepard, who haughtily does it perfect, but the Golden Retriever…because well, I think everyone with a Golden or a Labrador can relate.

Consider this your medicine for today–and bonus points if you’re drinking red wine and/or eating dark chocolate while laughing 😉

 

 

PS–In case you’re wondering about the Featured Image of Addy in the snow: it is completely not related, except that it is what I imagine Addy’s version of laughter looks like! 🙂 (for those of you who follow me on email, the picture is below)

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Memoirs of a Princess Pupcicle: The Enforcer

I’ve inherited a cat.  He, being Toulouse, spent the first year or so of his life with us–so he is not unknown to Addy.  He is, in fact, her kitty.

When Toulouse first moved in, he was small enough to fit in your hand–and naturally thought he could easily take on a 90lb dog.  Toulouse would follow Addy around the house and wait patiently for the perfect moment to strike.  His favorite spot was behind a pile of books at the top of the stairs: a well thought-out ambush spot for the Princess as she came up the stairs.   The problem, of course, being that she tended to be slightly oblivious of this ball of fur and could easily knock him down the stairs with her big ol’ labrador tail.  I’m quite sure she did a time or two.

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Baby Toulouse waiting to ambush Addy

A couple of years have passed, but Addy, of course, still thinks of him as her kitty.  Toulouse–for some reason unbeknownst to me–will even allow her to occasionally bathe him (although he always looks mortified while she’s licking him).  Since Toulouse has moved back in, I’ve seen a lot of pouty Addy faces that some of her affection might be given to Toulouse, however, she always has my back when I’m fussing at him to stop clawing the furniture or to get off the countertop.  Addy is more than happy to chase after him, barking reminders at him Get off the counter!  Stop clawing!  Don’t make Momma yell! Come back you need a bath!

Yelling in both human and barking–double whammy!  Poor Toulouse.  Meanwhile, Addy smiles at me I got this, Momma, I got this.

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Best seat in the house: a sunny window and far out of reach of a certain cold, wet nose…

Memoirs of a Princess Pupcicle

Confession time:  remember earlier in the week when I told you that as I started sharing some of my series from ShezzaSpeak, I would start with my one of my favorites, Chalkboard Art?  Well, that was a lie.  And anyone who actually knows me knows that it was a blatant lie. This is because more than food or wine or beer or coffee or humor or travel, my most favoritest thing is my darling beloved pupcicle, Princess Adelaide Grace, about whom I’ve already shared a couple of stories (which you can read here and here!). So I guess technically hers was the first (rightly so!) series from ShezzaSpeak that I brought over.

Today, I thought I might share exactly how this series came to be with my very first Memoirs story.  With the exception of a couple of grammatical changes, I’ve left the story as I originally wrote it, which was over 2 years ago.  So just for current day references, she’s now nearly 11 (she’d say 10.5!) and down to a svelte 83lbs!

Memoirs of a Princess Pupcicle

I’m sitting in bed with my laptop, silently urging writing ideas to come.

Suddenly I am aware of soft snoring from the end of the bed.  I look up and there is a cute 90lb ball of fur.  I can’t resist.  Slowly, ever…so…slowly I reach for my phone.  I quietly scroll the camera icon upward.

Don’t you dare take my picture.

Sigh.  Why not?  You’re so cute and I love you and I want a picture of you looking cute.

You already have 8390 of them and you’re supposed to be writing, not procrastinating.

I don’t have 8390 of them and I’m not procrastinating, I’m searching for inspiration.

You could write about me.  8390 articles would be far better than 8390 out-of-focus photographs.

I could write about you, however, you don’t like to have your picture taken.  In order for a post to be successful, you need at least a picture or two.  At last count, I believe you didn’t like having your picture taken.  In fact, I believe that you hate it.

I think you’re making that up about pictures and posts.  But I’ll make you a deal: if you write my memoirs, I suppose I could make an exception.

Your memoirs?  Really?  That’s a big word.

Yeah, well, I’m a big dog and I’m 8 now–don’t think I don’t know that you give me senior food and senior vitamins.  If you tell my story, I’ll let you take a picture of me.

A picture?  As in just one?

Well first let’s see how good your stories are.

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Cheese Thief

Did you know that labradors are never used as taste-test dogs?  That is because they will eat anything with the same amount of gusto:  good food, bad food, cookies, carrots, remote controls, whatever. Being true to the labrador lifestyle, Addy will eat just about anything (thankfully I curbed her non-food eating habits early on in life), but if it’s food–or anything vaguely resembling food (cough cough**Vaseline**cough cough)–Addy thinks it is fair game.

Being a svelte 83 pounds, Addy does not do sneaky or graceful well…unless food is involved.  When sneaking food is on the day’s agenda, my beloved pupcicle could teach ninjas a thing or two about stealth.

Picture it:  Ann (aka roommate) is working upstairs and has a nice plate of ham, cheese, and crackers for snacks.  She has one eye on her work and one eye on her plate because she knows not to leave the snack plate unattended lest Addy decide to help herself.  Ann’s biggest mistake, she admits later, was thinking that she would notice Addy trying to help herself to the snack plate.

Poor Ann did not know that for the entirety of her life, Addy has been perfecting the art of the walk-by-and-eat act.  This is where she will casually walk by a table and in one fluid sweeping motion licks up all the food within reach of her tongue.

And just like that–in plain view of Ann–Addy stole all her cheese.

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Adelaide Grace, Cheese Thief, strikes again!

 

MWWC #26: Solitude

This month’s wine writing challenge is SOLITUDE, as selected by last month’s winner Beth of Traveling Wine Chick.  Honestly, I’ve been feeling a bit at a loss with this topic, as I’ve spent quite a few previous MWWCs talking about how wine is best paired with great friends.  But even the most extroverted extrovert needs to reset sometimes, so with George Thorogood playing in my head–click on his name if you need background music!–here goes:

wine stain

I think one of the best things about summer is sitting outside and drinking wine.  Sure it’s a lot of fun with others, but it is equally enjoyable by oneself–sitting on the porch reading a book or lounging on the beach listening to the breaking of the waves.   It gives you time to relax, to enjoy, and to appreciate everything around you, like the delightful syrah-viognier blend you randomly picked out a few weeks back.

The thing I enjoy most about drinking in solitude is that it is very decadent. Opening a bottle of wine simply because you love it–not having to think about catering to anyone else’s palette or worrying that the food pairing is not quite right.  Taking your time to really get to know the wine.  Trying new styles and tastes you might not dream of trying in front of others (I mean, I know very well that my friends drink merlot when I’m not around!).

Plus you get the whole bottle to yourself.  Not that I’m telling you to drink the whole bottle (for legal disclaimer purposes).  I’m sure you can look up on Pinterest 846 things to do with leftover wine.  Personally, I always thought “leftover wine” was a myth or a horror story told to oenophiles…but if it is really a thing feel free to share your “friend’s” leftover wine horror stories suggestions.

whole bottle

If the thought of a bottle is too daunting, find a great little restaurant with a spectacular view and start with a glass.  Take your time to enjoy all the sensations of tasting the wine without expectations or boundaries and just allow yourself to enjoy.  Order food.  Enjoy it more.

Several years ago, I found myself with a free afternoon in Sydney.  In need of a bit of respite, I happened across a little cafe near the Opera House with a fantastic view of the Harbour Bridge.  Fresh oysters were the special and I just couldn’t resist (I never can!).  The waiter recommended a New Zealand sauvignon blanc and while I’m not a big fan of the ol’ sauv blanc, I decided to give it a go.  BEST. DECISION. EVER. (or at least at that moment in time).  The crisp apple finish of the wine enhanced the creaminess of the oysters; the lapping of the waves and the cool breeze coming off of the water provided the perfect setting for allowing myself to just relax and indulge.  While I don’t remember the name of the aforementioned New Zealand sauvignon blanc (I know, epic fail!),  I vividly remember wishing I could bend time and make that moment last forever.

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That is the beauty of drinking in solitude: making an experience and enjoying the moment…of you.  I think in this day and age of technology we expect–no, we demand–to be entertained 24/7, when in reality what we need is more unplugging and appreciating not only what is around you, but what is you.

disconnect

Do yourself a favor and try it–you might like it.  I’m not asking you to make it nightly habit (for legal disclaimer purposes), but as a treat for yourself.  If you want to be even more decadent and celebratory, pop the bubbly (trust me you won’t be disappointed!)!

Still not convinced that drinking in solitude is for you?  Before I go open that blanc de blancs chilling in the fridge for a special occasion (you know, like Monday night), I leave you with this final thought:

drinking with dog

Cheers!

Memoirs of a Princess: Bella’s Story

Just when you had given up hope that you’d ever hear from me again…

First, I’d like to dispel any rumors that I acquired a cow. Granted, it was suggested by my housemate on FB that perhaps we should get one, but at this moment the closest thing we have is the Princess.

Oh you haven’t met the Princess? Well, let me introduce her. Unless of course, you know her in real life or if you follow ShezzaSpeak and have already been introduced–either way, IMHO the pictures are cute enough to scan through again 😉

Shezza Speak!

A certain princess is 9 today.

It’s hard to believe that time has flown so quickly.  It seems like it was just a few months ago when I brought the princess home from the doggie daycare center.  At the time, I had a catahoula named Stella.

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If you know anything about catahoulas, you’ll know that they need to RUN.  Since RUNNING really isn’t in my vocabulary and I was working crazy hours, I found a doggie daycare center to take Stella to 3 times a week.

On one particular day in February, I noticed a beautiful yellow Labrador puppy hanging out in the front room and didn’t think anything more about her until Stella’s next trip to DDC.  As I was picking her up that evening, the head vet tech causally mentioned Bella (the aforementioned lab puppy)  had been “living” at DDC.  Apparently her owner was living with his grandmother when he bought…

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Sunday Comics #36: Fighting A Minion

My apologies if you’ve already seen this on my FB feed, but I could easily watch it over and over and over and presume that you could as well!  The brave pooch is the spitting image of BFF & BFFH’s puppy, Sophie, who would TOTALLY fight a minion!