Live Forever

I couldn’t sleep again last night, likely because I drank a couple glasses of wine. What can I say? Sometimes you just want pizza and wine with friends without acting like an old person and worrying about the consequences. Still, when I wake up at 1 am ready to take on the world, it’s not the best. You’d think I’d have learned my lesson by now, but here we are.

I read if you can’t sleep, it’s a good idea to journal to unload your mind of whatever thoughts might be hindering your return to sleep. So, after an hour of hoping but failing to drift back off, I got up, herded our senior furry friend (the one who had woken me up in the first place) to the bedroom door, and headed to the sofa with a journal and pen in hand. Ruby is 14.5 now, which is towards the older end of a border collies’ general life expectancy. She seems to have her days and nights confused, sleeping all day and wandering aimlessly all night. I never know where she will be at 2 a.m. A couple days ago I found her in the master bathroom staring at the closet door, presumably thinking it was our bedroom door, the place where she stands when she wants to go out. And as I sat writing, she continued her travels around our main floor. Her nightly 5k is recorded through nail clicking, then silence when she hits an area rug, then resumed clicking. She seems unsure of where she was headed or what she was looking for. All I can think is, “Same, girl. Same.”

I find myself in tears when I look at her now for more than a few seconds because I know is waiting down the road, whether I am ready to get there or not. She has cataracts and doesn’t see well; she doesn’t hear well either. Tonight I noticed a small, tumor-like growth on the back of her right leg. Just another sign of where she is in her life’s journey. The medication and CBD treats we give her to ease her discomfort seem to be less help these days. Right now it feels like we’re in a holding pattern, circling the inevitable, but not yet cleared by the tower to land.

As I watched her amble around, I thought of our sons. They were 5 and 7 when she came to us. Joe is her favorite person. The boys have made it clear they aren’t ready to say goodbye to her and they hope they aren’t here to see her last moments because they think it will break them. I feel that in my soul. When Ruby is finally ready to cross the rainbow bridge, her passing won’t simply mean the loss of my constant companion of 14 years. Losing Ruby means I will have to let go of the period of my life I have loved the most thus far, the part where our boys were my day job and my night job, and Ruby was assistant to the assistant manager. It’s a double loss, which probably explains why it’s so heart-wrenching for me to sit with her on those long, silent nights. I’m double grieving. It needs to be done, but that doesn’t make it suck any less.

I see her discomfort with her achy joints, her struggle to get to her feet and balance herself before taking a step, and her confusion, but I also see moments of spunk when she goes toe-to-toe with our young corgis and very nearly resembles her 3 year old self. I am one with her in all these moments, facing my own mortality as well, whenever the universe wants its atoms back. Damn, it’s a bitter pill to swallow. “I know what’s ahead for me too, girl,” I tell her each quiet night we alone share. “I know it’s hard to let go of the people you love and the duty to watch over them.” I run my hand down the length of her frail body, weeping and reassuring her. “It’s okay. You’ve done a beautiful job taking care of us, making us laugh, and teaching us how to be present, but you can let go and rest when you’re ready. You’ve earned it. You’ve trained Loki and Goose well. They can take the torch from you and manage us with the same herding-dog spirit you did the whole of your wonderful life.” Last night she looked at me through those cloudy eyes, and I saw again what drew me to her. She is like me. She isn’t good at relaxing or doesn’t want to relinquish her favorite responsibility, either. We are sisters this way. And today she continues to fight for every moment of this precarious life as if she means to live forever, and all I can think is, “Same girl. Same.”

“Maybe I just wanna fly, wanna live, I don’t wanna die, maybe I just wanna breathe, maybe I just don’t believe, maybe you’re the same as me, we see things they’ll never see, you and I are gonna live forever” ~Oasis

Is That All There Is?

Some call this puppy jail. Ruby calls it peace of mind.

When we brought our corgi puppy home late in September, we knew our older dog, Ruby, would be against the whole sordid scenario. To ease her (and him) into the transition, I purchased a large, plastic corral to serve as a temporary border. It was, indeed, meant to be temporary. Turns out it has taken our senior dog much longer than anticipated to adjust to her new, four-legged housemate. For months, she avoided walking near the pen after its inhabitant lunged at the corral, causing it to shift a couple inches closer to her. Because Ruby is in kidney failure and has bad days, we decided that she deserved control of the majority of the main floor. Loki remained in his pen except for the few times a day we would allow a 20-30 minute, spirited “play session” (read: practice the “drop it” command while attempting to retrieve from the puppy all the items he has sloppily pilfered with his mouth). During the Loki free-for-all, Ruby enjoyed the spa-like comfort of our closed bedroom with the knowledge that she was safe from the chompers of the small, furry landshark we had brought home and inflicted upon her without consent.

In March, once Ruby had finally acknowledged that Loki was here to stay (the horror), we began letting them co-mingle for periods of time with supervision. Ruby spent most of those moments snarling and snapping as Loki attempted to play with her. Loki, completely unfazed by her snarls because he innately understood she would not harm him, continued to annoy the hell out of her. The humans in the house have grown accustomed to the sounds of Ruby telling Loki, not so politely, to f**k off, and Loki continuing to press the issue because how dare anyone not acknowledge the power of his cuteness.

A month and a half into the co-mingling experiment, things are beginning to calm down. Loki is starting to understand that Ruby will tolerate him if he stays out of her face. And Ruby is starting to acknowledge that having another four-legged around is not entirely horrific. She will even approach him when he is sleeping and flop down within a two-foot radius of his resting figure. Two feet appears to be the minimum distance for safety in Ruby’s mind. Loki now is able to remain out with Ruby for hours. The pen has become the place we put him when he needs to chill for a moment. We are trying to acclimate him to life on the outside and hoping he will learn to settle.

Today, though, I noticed something different in Loki’s demeanor when he was out and about. He was mostly avoiding Ruby, walking from closed door to closed door (he doesn’t have full house access yet), and looking curiously at everything. It felt like he was settling into the pace of life here on a Saturday morning. Then he seemed to get a little lost, as if he isn’t sure what he’s supposed to be doing to amuse himself now that he has a lot bigger enclosure than he is used to. He sniffed at his basket of toys, but seemed uninterested. He would approach the sofa where I was sitting, collapse into a sploot in on the floor, and then a minute later get up and go back to wandering around. He was antsy and seemed dissatisfied somehow. I couldn’t figure it out. He couldn’t wait to get out of his pen and then at one point I looked over at him and saw something that felt distinctly human about his behavior. As he sat there in front of the coffee table, his head swiveled and surveyed the room. He looked forlornly at me, and I swear I could almost hear him thinking, “Is that all there is?”

After all the time he has spent in the pen, wanting to be free on the outside, now he is on the outside and he doesn’t get what the excitement was about it. It’s like he just now realized the entire house is actually a large pen. So he has his freedom, but it isn’t what he expected it would be. And this, of course, led me to The Shawshank Redemption because, maybe after all that time with restricted access, he now isn’t sure he can survive on the outside. I wondered if he was thinking of ways to wreak havoc so we would pick him up and deposit him back into the safe space he has had for six months.

“There’s a harsh truth to face. No way I’m gonna make it on the outside. All I do anymore is think of ways to break my parole, so maybe they’d send me back. All I want is to be back where things make sense.” ~Ellis (Red) Redding, The Shawshank Redemption

So, we put him back in his pen, he settled onto one of his comfy blankets, and fell right asleep. Everything made sense again.

The T Rex Of Greater Sterling Ranch

I feel compelled to alert my neighbors that we may have a T Rex problem in Sterling Ranch. I have had the opportunity to witness this small T Rex, a juvenile, I believe, rampaging through the southeast corner of the Providence Village neighborhood. With short arms, sharpy teeth, and a vice-like mouth grip, it’s best you be on the look out. Don’t mistake his smaller stature as a sign of potential weakness in the creature. Make no mistake about it. He has a bloodlust that can’t be satiated. Just today I saw him rip open the cranium of a smaller juvenile T Rex. He then proceeded to carry his prey around with a glib nonchalance, as brain matter spilled from its head. A spine-chilling sight I won’t forget soon.

Attempts to capture the creature and pacify him with other tasty morsels have proven fruitless. Even when he has been presented with superior caliber game, the kind that would prove a challenge to most other carnivorous dinosaurs, he manages to best them in a matter of minutes. The toughest reptiles have felt his chompers penetrate their scaly exteriors and found themselves mortally wounded. At this point, I’m afraid all you can do it keep your eyes peeled for him, secure any quarry in which he might take interest, and keep your extremities in close to your bodies so as not to become his next victims.

He will, indeed, snatch with his pearly whites anything he can reach; and with his smaller stature, ankles, denim, footwear, socks, calves, feet, and toes are all highly vulnerable. Be forewarned that if you reach down to try to save any of the aforementioned body parts or items of clothing, you only subject your upper extremities, sleeves, sweatshirts, sweaters, and t-shirts to certain destruction. He is well-acquainted with weak spots. He will find yours. So far this week, he has ripped the arm off a bendy amphibian, gutted a large stingy ray, and dismantled a turtle with spikes.

Bring your pets and children indoors. If you spot him, remain inside and alert the authorities immediately. Any attempt by untrained individuals to subdue the beast will quickly become a regrettable decision. Please pray for the professional wranglers still endeavoring to capture and restrain this lethal predator. We need all the help we can get.

Bless His Little Heart

A little over a decade ago, we had young children and a young dog. So it was a happy accident when we discovered that our border collie loved chasing the bubbles we blew with our kids. It makes sense. Bubbles float carelessly on the breeze, disorganized and wayward. They are a herding dog’s dream chase. I was pleased to learn that little herding dogs like to herd bubbles as much as their larger counterparts.

Herding bubbles is pure joy for Loki. He loves the chase and will stand on hind legs trying to reach one that goes too high. I found it so charming when our border collie, Ruby, ran after bubbles. She was so determined, focused, and dignified in her pursuit. But there’s a different energy when Loki does it. He’s fast, but his height is a hindrance. He’s accurate, but not always the most graceful. Still, his spirit is in it. You can see it in his eyes.

Loki…King of the Derp

He tries so hard. Bless his little heart.

Loki, Puppy Of Mischief, Strikes Again

In Puppy Prison doing time

Tonight calls for a haiku about our relentless (and adorable) little corgi who has been living up to his namesake today by pulling double duty in our bathrooms.


One corgi puppy

on an epic quest to maim

all the t.p. rolls

I may have to pull a 2020 move and start stockpiling toilet paper because it appears we may be in for a shortage.

Loki’s Big Adventure

Loki enjoying some free time on the deck

Our seven month old corgi puppy has been getting more and more free time out and about in our house. We started with thirty minutes to an hour of supervised run around time. As time has gone on, we’ve worked to stop watching him so closely. Often, after an initial trek around the house to check out his usual haunts, he settles down with some toys and plays nicely by himself. So we have slowly allowed him more freedom.

Tonight we let him out after dinner and a visit to the yard. He did his usual rounds and then ran off towards Luke’s room behind Luke. With Luke watching Loki, I was free and so I went back to practicing my Italian on DuoLingo. Awhile later, I looked up and saw Luke at the kitchen counter. He and I began having a conversation. About five minutes into said conversation, it occurred to me. If Luke was in the kitchen, where the hell was Loki? Crap! We had a left our puppy unattended for at least five minutes. Do you have any idea how much damage a freaking corgi puppy named after the Norse trickster god can cause in five minutes? You should see what he can do in thirty seconds. Let me enlighten you. His usual run once he gets free is first to pull down all the dishtowels that hang in the kitchen. Then he runs straight for the hall bathroom where he unrolls some toilet paper and drags it through the house. Then he will tear over to the entry bench where he will grab any glove or hat someone has left behind and run away with it. After that it’s off to his toy bin from which he will pull every single toy out onto the floor. In. Thirty. Seconds.

We tore down the hall to Luke’s room and from the doorway we began to see the carnage. Some cardboard had been gnawed near the door. The roll of toilet paper that had been on the wall was shredded all over the bathroom floor. He then broke into Luke’s Closet of Shame (which is filled with Legos), and that was where we found him. We’re not sure if he ingested any Legos, but we’re impressed that he realized that plastic Legos were a higher value prize than the cardboard and toilet paper. As soon as Loki understood he’d been caught up to no good, he got a case of the zoomies and sped out of Luke’s room. When we finally managed to recapture him, he was panting heartily. And, if I’m being honest, looking a bit smug.

Puppies are something else. Loki is somewhere between a cranky toddler and a rebellious teenager right now. Sometimes he’s one, sometimes he’s the other. Either way, he earned his trip back to his pen after his free-for-all in Luke’s room. Loki tells other dogs he gets put into puppy jail after he tries new things. But, he’s just being dramatic.

Ain’t No Shame In That

It has come to my attention that the post I wrote months ago about my husband’s sleeping habits made him feel a bit called out. Let me first state that was not my intention at all. People who are included in my blog posts often think the blog posts are about them. Ninety-five percent of the time, this is untrue. Oddly enough, my blogs are usually about me or my opinions. I may mention other people, but not because I am calling them out. They are part of my story. They are not THE story. Anyhoo, my sweet spouse felt a little seen about my post regarding the fact that he can sleep anywhere while I, in fact, cannot. So, I have resolved to make this better.

In case you think, after reading that post, that I was calling my husband out for his sleeping gift, I thought I would share this little tidbit from our house. My husband is not the only one who sleeps in odd positions on the floor. While I still struggle to sleep on many nights in my comfortable Sleep Number bed with my twin down comforter, this family member, like my husband, has zero problem sleeping:

To summarize, I did not write about my husband’s fall-apart-on-the-floor-due-to-exhaustion sleeping habits because I was calling him out. I wrote about them because, as I stated in my earlier post, I am jealous and wish I could sleep like him. Or our dog. Or both of them.

If I could sleep anywhere, including on my stomach on the living room floor with my feet out in a corgi sploot, I would. Ain’t no shame in that.

Loki Is A Trickster And A Delight

The shade, though

We brought our newest family member home on September 26th when he was 8 weeks old. We’re now beginning our 21st week with our little mischief-maker. We’ve spent the past five months figuring him out and trying to get him adjusted to our life here. We’ve taken him to puppy socialization classes where he excelled at holding his own against dogs far taller and heavier than he is. We tried him at puppy training classes at Petsmart, only to be foiled by two very small, very barky, very distracting miniature schnauzers that made it impossible to hear the dog trainer and practice commands. We finally went back to the trainer who ran the puppy socialization classes, Lynn, and signed up for Delightful Dog class. Loki had a real affinity for Lynn, so we knew this might be the person who could help us get him on track (although we already thought he was a delightful dog).

Loki paying attention to Lynn’s pointers

Fortunately for us, there were only four puppers in the class including Loki. With fewer doggy distractions (and no excessive barkers), we were in it to win it. Lynn gave us plenty of wonderful tips for positive training. It’s all about treats and clear messaging for positive behaviors and lots of patience. Loki came to class already proficient in Watch Me, Touch, and Sit, plus a couple fun commands we worked on just for giggles, Spin (self-explanatory) and Boop (he has to put his nose through the hole of a donut toy). Our first real challenge with him was Down, which is hard to teach a dog who only has six inches of ground clearance. He thinks he’s already pretty far down and doesn’t see why we want him to lower himself. Lynn showed us how we could sit on the ground and lure Loki under our bent knees, which would force him onto his belly to get underneath for the treat. Once his belly hit the ground, we let out an emphatic “yes” and gave him a reward. It took about five minutes of this before he figured out that Down meant flat on his belly. Over the course of a couple weeks, we got him to the point where we can say Down and point to the floor and he drops onto his belly. Such a good boy.

Loki loooooves treats

We were still working on Stay and Come when time for the class final arrived. I was nervous on the way to class. I told Loki not to embarrass us during his test, but I knew he probably would, at least a little bit. Lynn did a great job of not making any of us, dogs or humans, feel anxious once we arrived. Loki blew through Watch Me, Touch, and Sit like a champ. Then he showed Lynn that he had learned Down. Loki did pretty well with Leave It, ignoring the treats in my open palm in front of his face. He did an okay job with Stay, but when it came to Come things went off the rails. With his leash off and other dogs and humans nearby, it was a Loki free-for-all. Despite my treats and emphatic cries of “Loki, COME,” he was what you would expect from a corgi named Loki…all mischief and tricks. But, that’s okay. He’s an adolescent corgi. We can keep working on it. He will get there eventually. He’s a smart little guy who loves treats and has patient parents who want to see him succeed.

The Graduate

When all the dogs had cycled through the exam material, Lynn played “Pomp and Circumstance” and handed out diplomas, with tacit acknowledgment from all the pet parents there is still plenty of work to be done. For us, it’s going to be many more walks to perfect loose leash walking, along with time focusing on Come and Stay. I would also like him to learn Place and Wait. And I will never stop teaching him tricks. If I taught him to use Inside Voice, I’m pretty sure I can follow that up with Crawl, Stretch, Shake, and a few others. Teaching a dog to behave is hard work. Teaching a dog to be cute is fun work. We’re proud of our little graduate. He only got a B- on his final exam because of the disaster with the Come command, but he gets an A from us for making us laugh every damn day. Good job, little Loki.