Busy Long Weekend Ahead

Of course, for me, that simply means that there are reasons I’m expected to leave the apartment every day that aren’t work-related…and that sucks. Haha

If I could stay home, I would, most of the time. That’s part of the reason I’m always late for stuff. I have a difficult time leaving if I don’t really have to.

I’m also just kind of a jerk that way, I guess.

I love going home, though, after I’ve been out. I get such sweet greetings from the critters, for starters. And it’s like I can just relax and breathe again, which is nice. Being tense for all the time I spend away from home is exhausting! Haha

I’ve just learned one of my days away is going to be even longer than planned, which stresses me out a bit, but it’s true. It’s only one day. We’ll all get through it. I don’t look forward to all the stuff I’ll have to do between getting back and going to bed, so that won’t really be relaxing and breathing. But it’s only one day.

I can do that.

Speaking of critters, Brody and I did okay last night and this morning. I’m pretty sure some of the pack leader processes are just not going to work for me, but some will. Like, even though I have to struggle to keep Jack Bear out of his face, Brody is back to sitting before he gets treats. I’m trying to be consistent with it because I’m sure he’s wondering where the hell THAT rule came from all of a sudden. But he’d done it before, and he’s a smart guy, so he seems to be picking it back up pretty quickly again now. To me, it was not important to have him do stuff for my entertainment just to earn a reward – he earns them just by being him, as far as I’m concerned. But if it gives his brain a little something extra to do during the day, then it’s good for him, and therefore I am all about it.

The whole going through doors first isn’t exactly practical – my building doors close automatically, for example, and I don’t want to risk getting him stuck in or hit by one. He’s only little, guys! He already gets kicked a lot and stepped on by accident. I see no need to risk getting him bumped around more. My apartment door I’m trying to get us through more or less together. And stairs…just however we can get up and down them without either of us falling.

Walking…supposedly he’s supposed to walk beside or behind me, not in front. So far, he has always walked in front. Sometimes beside. There’s no way I want him walking behind me, though. I can’t keep and eye on him back there, and – to my mind – a walk is our time together. More for him than for me, even, but together nonetheless. Walking behind me is not together, and I’m just…no. Not doing it. I’ve got him walking next to me, more or less consistently, but he’s not always a fan. Plus, I can’t see his cute butt waddle as well as I can when he’s trotting out front. So while I am getting him used to walking next to me most of the time, I don’t think it’s going to be strictly enforced 100% of the time. Once we’re both comfortable with it, then I’ll go back to letting him trot a little bit ahead again. Not pulling, but not right next to me all the time, either.

That’s my plan, anyway. We’ll see how it goes and adjust from there.

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On Becoming Pack Leader

Had yet another incident this morning while out with Brody in which he lunged at another dog, almost without warning. This time, the other dog’s person was not understanding, in that he was not putting up with such behaviour and escorted his dog safely away immediately.

I felt terrible.

In talking about it with one of Brody’s treats ladies, who was with us at the time, I realized that one of his triggers might be the nose-to-nose greeting, particularly with dogs who are bigger than him. This was a puppy, but on the larger size, and she got right up in his face, right from the start, to which Brody said a whole lotta no. Apparently some dogs find that sort of greeting to be kind of stressful, and prefer to be approached from the side, instead. I noticed long ago that Brody shies away from direct frontal contact, even when it’s me reaching down to pet him. He prefers to ease into it, which I can fully understand.

Regardless, though, if things keep on like this, he’s going to get himself killed.

So naturally, I took to the internet, and delved into Cesar’s Way, website of Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer.

Now, I’ve stated several times – even as recently as yesterday – that I am not a good leader. This holds true for being a Pack Leader to Brody, as well, but in that case, neither of us can afford for me to not be one any longer. Really, I should have looked things like this up before Brody and I even met, but I was looking up a whole whack of stuff, trying to be prepared, and a person can only anticipate so much. Especially when one has never really realized that one would have to be a Pack Leader. I am the opposite of Alpha, so I have a lot of learning to do, anyway, but I think I’ve already taken great strides in just realizing that I have to come at all of it a different way.

Kind of like some of the lessons Hudson the polar bear taught me, actually. I saw things differently because of him, and now I am learning to see things differently because of Brody. It’s just time for teaching and learning between the two of us to stop being a one-way street. Brody needs me to lead, and so lead is what I’ll do.

Or I am learning to do.

One of Cesar’s rules is to live in the moment, not regret the past nor fear the future. Dogs live in the moment, and I need to, as well. Which I have already been thinking recently, anyway, I just needed a nudge to commit to it more resolutely. So instead of talking about what I will do, I’m attempting to talk about what I am doing. Or at least trying to do.

There is a lot to learn. And everybody is different so Brody and I will of course need to figure things out based on who we each are, but more importantly, who we are together. I just wanted so badly for him to love me – we came together because we’d both lost his girl and needed some extra love. While I have no intention of holding back affection, of course, I do intend to step up and be the Pack Leader he deserves. I now understand that’s what will create an even more loving bond between us than we already have.

Getting to know him has exceeded my needs and hopes from the get-go. Now it’s time for me to exceed his needs, too.

Love you beyond reason or measure, Brodykins. Time for us to both learn what that really means.

We got this.

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Rambling Mind

I don’t understand what’s going on. At all. Maybe nothing. I have no idea. There is, of late, a huge disconnect between my inner and outer realities. Add a healthy dose of PMS into the mix and the confusion is overwhelming. So isolating. Perhaps I am just succumbing to my usual paranoia and uncertainty. Though it’s often been right in the past – can it still be deemed paranoia if it ends up being correct?

Meh. Questions without answers, really. Better to just keep plodding along and wait for my next break.

I have my next MRI on Sunday. While I’m technically hoping it will be a quick session, I feel it’s much more likely that it’ll be one of the long 45-minute-IV-with-contrast-material types, instead. It makes more sense, since it’s just my annual check-up type one and they’ll want to get as much detail and cover as much territory in the scans as possible. I just really hate those ones, and am running out of ways to entertain myself while in the tube for that long. However, at least it’ll be over with, and since Monday is a holiday, I’ll be able to just relax and do nothing, if I want, the whole next day. That’ll help. Usually I feel more than a little off once I come out of the machine. I know it doesn’t do anything to me physically, but my mind feels cloudy, anyway. Maybe from focusing on remaining still while not letting claustrophobia set in.

There should be a law against cologne – or artificial scents of any kind – that I can smell even if I am not near you. Seriously people. What kind of nastiness are you trying to cover up by dousing yourself so completely in something else?

Anyway.

I’m frustrated at this whole not working Saturdays thing. I know, sounds weird, but there are several reasons why I’m feeling this way. Aside from the fact that it’s a shorter work day, and earns a longer weekday off, which is sometimes enough. But it would give me the opportunity to do other things I want to do sometimes. Like go to the zoo. I hate going on weekends, through the summer at least, because of the hoards of sweaty hairless apes in my way, ruining my Zen thing. But if I want to go on a weekday, I have to burn a vacation or sick day to do it. I got turned down for volunteering at the Wildlife Centre because the weekend shifts are first to go, and those are the only ones I could do. I probably wouldn’t be a Big Sister again anyway, but that’s another thing I can’t do. Not the in-school mentor program, at least. I can see my therapist if I book an appointment first thing and then head to work after, which doesn’t always have me in the greatest headspace for the rest of the work day. Sometimes it’d be better if I could just go home after and process. But I can’t, unless I am willing to burn a sick day, o vacation day, if I know far enough in advance that I won’t feel up to coming in that day.

Overall, it’s fine. I’ve just been feeling lately like I am having to give up a lot of the things that I’d enjoy or look forward to or benefit from in some way in order to continue receiving a paycheque. That is, of course, the most important thing, because without that I’d have far less opportunity than I do now. I guess I’m just sad that this seems to be all there is, and I am struggling to make even that much balance out. It’s depressing sometimes.

In other news, Mr. Brodykins has an appointment with the groomer on Saturday! He will hate every moment, except the ones where he gets to hang with Momma Kristi and ride in the car. Probably on her lap, if he gets his way. That’s his preferred mode of travel, after all. I hate leaving him there, knowing how miserable it makes him, but he does love being picked up after, and being told how utterly adorable he is. He likes to show off a bit, at that point. Maybe I’ll see about getting him some kind of little special treat for being a good boy. Because he’s always a good boy. He hates the whole grooming process with the seething fire of a thousand suns, but he doesn’t fight it. Instead, he freezes in his silent misery, and tolerates it all until it’s finally over. And then gets unnaturally excited when you put his collar back on.

Bless.

I love that little guy.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just so in my head I don’t really know what’s accurate or real anymore. Or maybe my instincts are good enough that I’m getting the hints being put out there, but am just not certain enough to react. Maybe there’s nothing to react to at all. Regardless, I feel dumb, so hopefully I can figure out at least some of it soon. It’s seeming pretty manic, really. I’m still here, though, so as much as I am trying to sort some things out, I’m also trying to, like, live day to day life. It’s all I can think to do, sometimes.

Long weekend coming up finally, and then next weekend is the first one I booked off for myself. Four days in a row! I don’t know how I’ll manage NOT to give myself so much to do that I won’t get it done and then be disappointed in myself…but I’m going to try not to give myself so much to do that I don’t get it done and feel disappointed in myself.

A co-worker just asked if it was Friday yet – it’s like he’s reading my mind. I was just thinking how far away Friday still is, but that it’s kind of a good thing because I have a lot to do in the meantime.

I was looking up screenwriting contests yesterday to see if there were any deadlines I could aim for but realistically meet. I realized that I’m not anywhere close to ready to start writing the updated adaptation of my first book, though. I need to sort out the changes that will be made and how they’ll all go together with the parts of the story that are being kept. I’ll work on a new outline first, and then consider starting the script.

Why can’t things in our heads just come out on paper automatically?

Walking With Brody

Took Brody out for a walk earlier.  The day was calling for rain but it was unseasonably warm out, so I wanted to at least give him a chance of enjoying it a bit before the rain started.  I got us semi-bundled up and we headed out.

I kind of let him choose the direction we went in, because it’s usually just a quick jaunt along one end of our street or the other.  Once he’d decided, though, I felt we could probably get away with cutting across to another block and continue on a route we haven’t taken in quite some time.  I knew he’d like it and have the chance to investigate all the smells along the way.

The thing is, we got going, and the clouds broke apart and floated away.  The sun came out, and it got even warmer.  I ended up taking his jacket off, and decided we should just keep walking.  I think we went further than our usual long route, even!  And he was awesome.  He seemed to be in a great mood, and in no hurry, but not stopping for long at any point.  Just sniffing and peeing and trotting along the way he does.  It was so quiet and relaxing and we met other dogs and people – it was just really really nice.

i even thanked him for it when we were riding back up to the apartment in the elevator!

Obvious harm to our planet’s environment aside, it was really nice to just hang out with the puppy and explore our neighbourhood a bit and not be in any kind of rush, or have a goal in mind.

I’d never have done anything like that before living with a dog.  He has definitely changed my life – and me – in our short time together so far.  I actually have a lot of anxiety in terms of leaving my apartment, let alone interacting with others once I do so.  And in the beginning, if I saw people coming along the sidewalk Brody and I were on, I’d have mini panic attacks and brace for the possibility that I would have to acknowledge them in some way.  It was sometimes a bit better if the other people had dogs, too, but I soon learned you never really know how THAT’S going to go, either, so I started stressing about that, too.

And while Brody hasn’t turned me into a social butterfly who loves going out to roam around, he has made significant changes in how I relate to my immediate world.  For one, I actually know some of my neighbours, both in the building and in the area.  We greet one another whether there are dogs with any of us, or not.  I still have anxiety leaving the apartment and encountering others along the way, but it’s not nearly as bad.  Sometimes I barely even notice it.  Walking with Brody has taught me a new level of patience, both with the speed (or lack thereof) in which we walk, and the number of times we stop, mixed with the duration of those stops.

Brody slows me down and teaches me how to just wander and explore without any goal in mind.  I’m not just going to the store, or the subway to get to work.  On days like today, we go for a walk.  I catch myself taking in the trees and sounds and air around us.  And also taking a crazy number of pictures because I actually live in a pretty nice area, and while Brody doesn’t seem to love the park as much as I do, we both still get a lot of peace from just roaming the quiet little residential streets, as well.

I don’t think I’d ever go out on my own, or anything, but I sure do love going for long lazy walks with this cute silly puppy dog, and that’s a HUGE difference for me!

 

Crossroads

Cashtown Corners Cropped

Last night I dreamed I was at a crossroads.

A literal one that I used to know fairly well growing up (though in the dream I was seeing it from above, which I never have viewed it from in real life), and a figurative one I’ve been standing at in life for several months now.

It’s funny, that particular intersection has turned up in dreams before, though I think this was the first time I looked at it from above in a dream, too. There’s not much going on at the actual site – there used to be a gas station that I’m not sure even still exists – but three of the four branches were where I spent much of my travel time as a kid. One led home, one led to high school and towns that had actual places in them like movie theatres or department stores, and one led to the school where my dad worked. I think we also went that way to go visit my grandparents, too.

That fourth branch, though, I know we occasionally drove that way, but I can’t really remember where it leads, or what it looks like on the other side of the hill. I guess in whatever’s left of my kid-brain, that direction holds the unknown; the unfamiliar. Not scary, exactly, but there is a bit of anxiety attached to it, because I don’t know it nearly as well as the tried, tested and true routes.

My dream eventually put me back in high school, or at least in the building as a former student, if not a current one. So I guess it decided to go with the route most travelled, too.

Except for the route home, of course. No matter which way we were coming from, we always ended up on the same stretch beyond that particular intersection.

In life, I have the feeling that I’ve been taking the known routes all too often, as well. And there’s nothing wrong with that, exactly, but for quite some time now I’ve just been standing at that intersection, staring at the hill that I’m not quite sure what’s on the other side, and then glancing at the other paths that I have a better idea about. I’m pretty sure I know where those lead, and what will happen while I’m on them. But if I take one of them, even for a few steps, I’d still have to come all the way to this intersection in order to change my route. So I have to be certain that I don’t want to go over the hill and check things out over there. Because every time I think I want to try, it takes longer to get back to the crossroads than it did before.

In some ways, the world moves more slowly now.

Or I do, anyway. I definitely do.

I just have to figure out a way to take a step again – in any direction – without feeling like it’s the end of the world if I choose wrong.

I also think it’s getting harder and harder to choose anything BUT the unknown path, which is also contributing to my long hesitation here. I haven’t quite gotten to the point where I understand that, even if I have to come back to this intersection again after going the way I know less about, the NEXT time I’m here, I’ll have all the information I need to make a new choice; a choice based on all the facts. I’ll know what’s on the other side of the hill, and I’ll know where all the other paths lead. That alone is good reason to take the first step.

Now I just have to do it.

In other news, I had a kind of cool experience this morning, thanks to my Facebook memory feed. Four years ago tonight, I was walking home from the subway and as I passed one of the closed storefronts along my route, I saw this little face looking up at me:

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I fell instantly in love, and stopped to take the picture, and glance into the store to see if I could locate the little one’s person. I couldn’t see anyone, but I assumed they were probably in the back getting ready to leave for the night. I would later worry that someone had left their doggie locked in the store alone overnight, and entertain thoughts of going to break the door and get myself a new dog, because anyone who would do that to a pet (aka dependent family member) didn’t deserve to have one, anyway.

I did check in the morning on my way to work, and saw no doggie in the window, so that was good. I never actually saw that dog again.

Until I stumbled across the picture in my feed this morning and had a confused moment when I thought it was Brody.

When I took that photo, I wouldn’t meet Alysia for another year and a half…more, actually. I had no idea that a little puppy who would look so much like that random one would one day come to live with me and become the newest love of my life.

Maybe I glimpsed my future that night?

Maybe I should keep my eyes open for a big bag of money next time?

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Playtime With Brody

Playtime

Holy crap I’m tired today!

Like, my eyes are sore from just being open. Ridiculous.

I can’t seem to concentrate very well, so I’m just going to write a few quick little bits about daily life the last few days.

I came in late this morning because I finally went to see my doctor about my crazy cough. I’m not over my cold yet, but it was still worth going in to see her because this time the cough happened months before I came down with a cold, so they are unrelated.

She gave me another prescription for the ventilin inhalers I was on back in the summer, so that should help. She even added some repeats just in case I need more than one to control the cough longer. The inhalers mess me up a bit – give me the shakes and increase my heart-rate and such, so I don’t want to use it during the day, if I can help it. I started using it before bed, because at least I can sleep better and hopefully skip the uncomfortable side effects. The doc also suggested the cough might actually be a side effect of Gilenya, which I hadn’t considered. She even looked it up online while I was in her office and said it was listed as a possibility, so that’s cool. If the inhaler once an evening works to more or less control it, all should be well. Assuming I can afford it, but that’s a worry I’ll deal with later. It’s not the end of the world, either way, after all!

In other news, I started playing more with Brody over the weekend. Or I started playing with him differently, and more. He’s a pretty self-sufficient little guy, and doesn’t require a lot of attention. He just likes to be close to you, and cuddle, and get his belly rubbed.

Within the first few days of him moving in, he started to play on his own. He’d grab a toy and run around with it in his mouth, throw it up in the air, chase it, and throw it again. Sometimes he still does that – did it with a tennis ball just last night, even. I think I threw it for him once, but beyond that, he was happy to play by himself.

Other times, though, he wants me to play with him, too. He wants me to chase him and try to get his toy from him, but he prefers a slow-motion chase. And a light tug on the toy, rather than really pulling it away from him. Sometimes I’ll pull it away, but then let him get it back pretty easily. He also has this sweet soccer move where he knocks the toy out of my reach with his front leg, and turns quickly to pick it up himself before trotting away with it.

He takes everything to his blanket or his bed, and I consider that his safe zone, so I never take his stuff from him when he’s there. Mostly, though, he’ll bring things near me, then scamper off as soon as I notice. I end up playing with him without really having to get up from the couch.

So over the weekend, I decided the time Brody chooses to play with me is more precious than whatever I’m watching on TV, so I hit Pause, and got down on the floor with him.

He was SO HAPPY!

He basically would run back and forth from the bedroom to the front door, but with me crouched in the living room doorway, he had to get past me (and, occasionally, Jack Bear, who was also excited to have me down at their level, and had to get all up in ma grill) both ways. I’d wait until he got close, then he would speed up, I’d try to grab the toy, and even if I got it, he’d get it back from me and continue on his course. He always slowed down once he got where he was going, then run faster when it was time to blow by Mama Sue.

Cutest. Game. Ever.

We both had fun, and he instigated the game a couple of more times over the weekend, so I know he liked it. I love finding new ways to connect with him, even though it’s only for a few minutes at a time.

It’s some of the best few minutes of my day. 🙂

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Learning Brody

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When little mister Brody Graham the Yorkie McPuppyFace first came to live with me, we were pretty much strangers to one another. I already loved him because of all I already knew about him from his people. To him, though, I was a virtual stranger. He did let me rub his belly pretty quickly that first night, which was a good thing. Not that he’s particularly choosey when it comes to potential belly rubs, I’ve learned, but still – it felt like a good step.

That first night was pretty riddled with anxiety for me. I’m already not good at adulting, and suddenly I had this sweet little guy – who was not a cat – requiring my care and attention. I was not yet one of his people, and my home was not yet his home. I had no idea how to read him – his moods, or what he wanted or needed. Every time he made a sound at ALL, I assumed he wanted to go outside, so I got up and took him out. Every few hours, pretty much. All night long.

I didn’t know if he would be too sad without his people he’d grown up with. I didn’t know how he’d do in an apartment, if he would bark at people in the hallway or be able to find the pee pad I left out for him when I went to work. I had no idea how he and the cats would do. And it turned out I’d never really walked anyone on a leash before, so basically he and I were all over the place for the first few days.

Lucky for me, Brody is pretty much the greatest dog in the world, and he took on every challenge and change like a champ. He is also very sweet and patient with me, and loves me even when I make mistakes.

Like when I accidentally made him fat and haven’t quite gotten all the weight back off.  Or that I don’t trust either of us to keep him safe if I let him go off-leash (except for when we go to the basement to do laundry together).

And we learn together, all the time.

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We’ve established some basic routines, despite my ineffectual leadership (I am not a very good Alpha, but I’m doing much better than I was initially), and I really love taking him for walks. I view it as our time together, and I treasure it. Except for when the weather is crappy. Then neither of us enjoys it and we both want to get back inside ASAP. He’s still stubborn sometimes, but we’ve found ways to work with it. At first, every time we went for a walk it was like a constant struggle. A battle of wills. What I liked to call a “directional difference of opinion”.

But something changed as we began to get used to one another. We found a rhythm of sorts – a sense of how to walk together instead of both of us trying to do different things. And I learned to pick my battles. It’s made both of us much more agreeable, really. I realized that I can let him choose when to stop and sniff around when we have more time, because so often on work days we don’t have that luxury and I have to rush him. So to make up for that, I let him slow me down on my days off. He’s taught me patience and makes me leave the apartment and talk to people and stuff. He makes me social. Kinda. More than I was before.

I mean, I see people out with their dogs all the time, and they barely even look at the dog, let alone interact and really be together. The dog seems more like an accessory, or something. Meanwhile, I can barely take my eyes off Brody. Partly to make sure he’s not eating something he shouldn’t, but mostly because he’s so damn cute. People come up to me all the time to meet him and pet him and talk about him. He just gives off this vibe, or something. People and other dogs are just drawn to him naturally, I think. I am in even more awe of him than they are, too, because they don’t know him like I do. I get to live with him and be around him for all his little noises and movements and silly random actions. I get the benefit of understanding that he just makes everything better, automatically. Just by being himself. Other people don’t get to see all that, which makes me lucky. That Brody lets me get to know him more and more each day makes me special.  It makes me part of his pack.

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I’ve learned how to hold the leash when I want him to stay more on one side or the other, and if I really want him to walk instead of sit and look around for an undetermined period of time, I’ve learned that I can carry him about 3 steps, and put him back down again, and he’s good to go. I’ve learned his memory is amazing, and his concentration can be very difficult to break if there is a chance treats may be involved.

I’ve learned that he drools like a machine for pineapple, McDonald’s fries, popcorn and pretty much any fruit. He also likes crackers and veggies. And cheese. He and I are both pretty ridiculous for cheese.

I learned to wash his face, especially around his eyes, regularly to prevent build-up of eye goo.  I’ve learned how he likes to be pet, and his favourite cuddling positions. I’ve learned which kind of toys he loves, and how he likes to play. I’ve watched him try to figure out how to play with the cats (who love him, by the way), and they all even try to groom each other from time to time.

I’ve learned what most of his little noises mean, and how to read his various moods. I’ve made up little songs for him – ditties, if you will – and he knows how to calm and cheer me when I am upset.

We’ve learned how to be family, and I couldn’t be more content and grateful and honoured. Well, every day I think I couldn’t possibly be any happier with him or love him more. But then every day I do love him more, so that expression doesn’t really apply here, I guess.

Anyway.  With his fake-looking little button nose and huge dark brown eyes, I think the only thing I really haven’t figured yet is how he deals with his own level of adorableness.

Because I sure as hell can’t.

Brody Nov 8 2015