Saturday, 30 May 2009

The Days After

It's been a difficult week. I thought I was handling the Jake thing so well till we picked his ashes up from the pet crematorium. Hubby and I (the kids didn't want to go) drove out to North Wales to this lovely pet cemetery and even had a laugh that they had a cafe on the premises. Then we went inside to collect the ashes...

They were in a very nice wooden box with a plaque engraved with his name, the date of his death, and his age -- 22 months. Well, he was just shy of 22 months. Then the man gave us a key chain with some of Jake's hair inside. I lost it then. I didn't think I would cry so I didn't bring any tissues or anything.

I had been on painkillers, including diazepam, for most of the week because of my back. While the rest of the family had trouble sleeping, I was snoring away. Then the pain eased and I stopped taking them. And wham! It's hit me that he's gone.

I've put our name down for a Golden Retriever puppy. I'm trying to look ahead, but my memories of Jake are still so strong -- the good and the bad.

Well, I've had a lot of pets in my life. Jake will stand out for all sorts of reasons.

Onto another subject: I have been trying to keep up with everyone's blogs. And I've tried to leave comments, but something is happening with my server or something because it either takes forever or I get a weird message. Just know that I'm with you in spirit.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

He's Gone

Yesterday was Jake's last day on this planet. It didn't start off too well. He attacked hubby when he tried to put his halter on. Hubby's jeans were ripped, his leg bitten in two places (though not as badly as mine). When I heard the yells, my heart sank. Since Jake bit me so badly a week ago (entailing a tetanus shot and antibiotics), I knew if he did it again that would be the end.

I phoned the animal behaviourist, who of course wasn't there. If I can blame anyone for this mess, I blame her. While her assessment of Jake was accurate, her solutions were next to impossible. She was always late returning phone calls. It was always £200 here, £90 there. And at the end of it, Jake was worse than when we first saw her. Hubby also phoned the vet and left a message.

And we waited for these people to call back. And waited. And waited. Jake dragged the lead and halter around all day because we were too frightened to take them off. Finally, the behaviourist phoned back and said that these situations take a long time and there's no guarantee of a solution. Wish she'd told me that about £500 ago. The message hadn't been passed to the vet so hubby rang again. We were told to pick up sedatives and bring him in when he'd passed out. So we fed him six pills. And waited. Nothing happened. So hubby went back to the vet's and got eight more pills. And we waited. He did calm down enough to allow me to stroke him. I felt his body relax for the first time ever, I think. He was how he used to be before all the operations, etc. I am so glad I got that time with him.

He still was awake but we loaded him into the car. He gave one last growl. Our vet, who is the best vet alive, took him in, gave him a shot, then brought him out to us. Jake fell asleep, then the vet administered the final shot. We all cried. We asked to get his ashes back, and the crematorium rang last night to say they'd be ready today. I tried to pay the vet last night, but he said to come back later in the week.

Goodbye, Jake. I hope you're in a better place now.

Being the superstitious person I am, I hope all our luck changes for the better now. Does this sound callous? I don't mean to sound like Jake was the source of all our woes, but he certainly was ONE of our woes. For a week I've known he would have to go. I hoped he could go to a rescue place, but his unpredictability and violence meant he couldn't. I thought how we'd feel once he'd gone. Relief is what I thought we'd feel. I knew I had to clear his stuff as soon as possible and did so as soon as we got back from the vet's despite being blinded by tears. I know we will get a new puppy one day, one from a proper breeder. A Golden Retriever perhaps.

I want to remember Jake as he was -- the happy-go-lucky puppy with the little tail that spun round in circles when he was excited. That was a lovely dog.

Monday, 18 May 2009

His Bite is Worse Than His Bark

What can I say? Jake earned a reprieve from Death Row, the trainer came to the house twice, suggesting all sorts of things, many of which I've been doing. We have spent in excess of £300 over the last two weeks what with the trainer and the pain specialist. And Jake seemed a lot better.

But yesterday he bit me. Badly. On the thigh, thank God, though he could have gotten me on the face if I hadn't moved. I ran out of the room screaming because he looked like he was going to go for me again despite my turning away from him. He followed me to the stairs, where I collapsed. My daughter came running down to see what had happened and hubby ran in from the kitchen where the attack had occurred. I sobbed and sobbed. He ripped a great big hole in my trousers. My thigh is black and blue all over. Daughter started to cry too and threw up because she was so distressed by it all. She came home early from school today because she's still upset.

I blame myself again. He'd exhibited all the signs of anxiety and yet I persisted in trying to remove his halter. The trouble is Jake always exhibits all the signs of anxiety. He always smacks his lips, yawns, has half-moon eyes, scratches when there's no itch, chews on his paws. He only ever stops doing that about 5 percent of the day. He's a challenging dog, at least for us.

I've emailed the animal behaviourist yet again. I can't relax around this dog because some small thing I do might start him up again. So I'm avoiding him at the moment. If he comes up to me, I'll give him a quick pat on the head, no touching below the ears. Hubby handles him most of the time. He gets the halter on and off. He takes him on his walks. And Jake seems OK with him for the most part. But this isn't why we got a dog. We got a dog for companionship and protection. Instead, I need protection from him. I'm going to wait a day or two before I try to work with him again with the clicker and treats. He and I both need a break.

I understand him though. He feels that we haven't done our job as pack leaders in protecting him and keeping him safe and pain-free so he's taken matters into his own jaws. With disastrous results. We're afraid to walk him off the lead now. And he actually seemed better for it. The pain specialist thinks there still is some residual pain. He's on yet another pain killer. I'm in need of a few myself. But even Daughter is beginning to think the unthinkable.

Can this doggy be saved?

Friday, 15 May 2009

Wishin' and Hopin'

I read the other day that there's a report out saying women are bullied more by other women at work than by men. Judging from my own experience, I'd say that's true. Sad, but true.

The truth is that sisterhood is pretty much a myth. Women are less tolerant of and helpful to other women than they are to men. Maybe it's because we all suffer from the same thing and have little time for those that moan. We're all from Venus, and we'd rip each other's ovaries out at times if we could.

Of course it's a generalisation. We can be and are helpful to some of our sisters, but if there's somebody we're going to stick a knife in the back of, it's more likely to be a woman than a man.

The worst bosses I ever had were female. There, I've said it. One was a Machiavellian fat freak. Another was a wannabe Machiavellian freak (she wasn't fat). They favoured the men and spat on and sat on the women. I had a couple of female bosses who were all right, but not much in the way of mentors. I used to think it was because their generation were among the first female managers in newspapers. They had no women to emulate so they emulated the men. Badly. They resented the next generation of women because we had it that much easier.

It's not just in the workplace that women stab each other. There's the ongoing -- and, frankly, boring -- war between working mothers and mothers who stay at home. Working mothers are superwomen. We all know that. It's exhausting looking after a home, small children, and holding down a job. I have the utmost respect for women who do it. I'd like to be able to say that working mothers have respect for those of us who stay at home with our kids. But I can't. In my experience, working mothers look down on those of us who stayed home with the kids. We're not as bright, not as hardworking, not as ambitious. Our children suffer as well.

I never planned to stay at home raising my kids. I planned to be a career woman, just like all the other women I knew. Then I moved to England. I wanted to start over in a new career, but didn't know what. Then I got pregnant. Then I got pregnant again. I had no family nearby to support me if I did go back to work. Hubby had a pretty high-octane career and was quite honestly selfish. I knew I wouldn't have his support either if I went back to work. So I stayed home. It was lonely. It was frustrating at times, boring at others. I developed hobbies and went to the gym and for coffee. I cleaned my own house, did my own gardening, looked after my own children. And endured comments from my working friends. "Wish I could go to the gym." "Wish I could go for coffee." The meaning behind these wishful comments was clear: I was and am a frivolous human being with no real skills and am therefore inferior to them.

Or am I? I have a bit of wishful thinking too. Wish I could have gone to the bathroom in peace just once when my kids were younger. Wish I could get out of the house and have people treat me like I have even one active brain cell. Wish my parents lived nearby so I could dump my kids on them whenever, leaving me free to pursue a meaningful and lucrative career.

Why do we do this to each other? Here's what I really wish: I wish that we women could all just have a bit of respect for the choices others have made in their lives.

Or is that a wish too far?

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Oh Dear, What Can the Matter Be?

I have had a rather stressful week with Jake. Basically, he's turned into a psycho monster who lunges and bites and growls if we bend over him or look at him the wrong way. Why? I think it's because my daughter took him on a walk with her friend and her friend's dog. Her friend's dog has dominance aggression; Jake has fear aggression. The two don't match and they had a vicious fight. I think Jake was bitten on the front paws. Over the next few days he seemed subdued, as he was before his surgeries on his hips. Finally, hubby took him to the vet for antibiotics. To say Jake was unhappy at the vet's doesn't even start to describe the scene. The vet said his behaviour has deteriorated greatly since she last saw him and she left hubby with the impression that the only recourse will be euthanasia.

That was on Friday. On Saturday morning, hubby tried to put Jake's halter on him. Normally, Jake is very excited about having the halter put on him because it means he's going on a walk. This time he wouldn't let hubby or me get near enough to hook it on. Then he went after hubby and bit him on the calf. I took the halter off, and he didn't get to go for a walk that day. On Sunday he seemed more himself, but still growled several times in the day at us if we got too near him. I'd worked in the garden all day and Jake had been out enjoying the sunshine. Around 5 p.m. I was finishing up and he came up to me. I was stroking him and must have leaned forward. He went for me and bit me on the thigh. I burst into tears. Hubby thought it was because I was frightened. It wasn't. It was because I realised the vet might be right.

Yesterday he didn't bite anyone but did growl a few times if we approached him the wrong way. He tried to bite hubby after a walk when hubby leaned forward to get his keys out to open the door.

Today he's more his old self but we are being very cautious around him. Hubby and I are both scared of him now. Daughter is absolutely distraught over the whole scenario. So am I. But I can't have a dog who is unpredictable and bites. I understand that the dogfight spooked him and the trip to the vet spooked him even more. I don't know what to do. We see the animal behaviourist's trainer tomorrow. Maybe she will have some answers.

On to a less depressing subject: I've been tagged by Not Waving But Drowning. So here it is.
1. What are your current obsessions?
Puzzles. Namely, Sudoku and Scramble and Pathwords on Facebook. I can spend hours doing them. They take my mind off other stressful matters in my life.

2. Which item from your wardrobe do you wear most often?
Jeans (and bras and underpants of course)

3. Last dream you had?
Should I say? It was a rather naughty one about my neighbour, whom I don't fancy in the slightest.

4. Last thing you bought?
I bought a lot of food yesterday, which my children promptly consumed. Before that I bought some shoes and a handbag.

5. What are you listening to?
Birds in my garden. God know why they keep coming back, what with the cats and the dog.

6. If you were a god/goddess who would you be?
I always fancied being either Athena or Aphrodite. I love the sound of Aphrodite's name and the idea that she sailed in on a huge shell. But Athena's pretty smart and cool. Or maybe Artemis. Can't make up my mind.

7. Favourite holiday spots?
We always go to the same places in summer -- Wyoming and Florida -- the downside of being an ex-pat. However, there are some quite nice places in and near Wyoming and Florida.

8. Reading right now?
Barack Obama's books. He is so sensible and knowledgeable.

9. Four words to describe yourself.
At the moment? Depressed, downhearted, dispirited, despondent. What I hope to be? Happy, sparkly, confident, optimistic.

10. Guilty pleasure?
An entire day to myself to do with as I please with no regard for what anyone else wants or thinks.

11. Who or what makes you laugh until you’re weak?
My son and my daughter at times. My son figured out long ago that if he could make me laugh he wouldn't get in as much trouble.

12. Favourite spring thing to do?

13. Planning to travel to next?
Wyoming and Florida.

14. Best thing you ate or drank lately?
Carrot cake I made on Sunday to distract me from the dog dilemma.

15. When did you last get tipsy?
Saturday when I was at the Frenemies. Have to drink to tolerate them.

16. Favourite ever film?
"It's a Wonderful Life." I know almost all the dialogue.

17. Care to share some wisdom?
The wheel turns. Life might suck at the moment, but it moves on so hang in there.

18. Song you can't get out of your head?
"And I'm Feeling Good" by Nina Simone.

19. Thing you are looking forward to?
Hopefully, one day, buying a business and working again and having an income again and having hubby get out of his depression so I can get out of mine.

20 If money were no object, where would you choose to live?
Somewhere where I don't have to wear a coat in May.

I need to tag eight more people. Sorry, guys.

crystal jigsaw
pantheist mom