Tag Archives: dogs

Finished this book ages ago: House Broken by Sonya Yourg 

Cover of the book "House Broken" by Sonya Yoerg

Cover of the book “House Broken” by Sonya Yoerg

 

This book had a dog on the cover, alluded to dogs in the title, and has a main character who is a vet. I was sold! Also, the blurb mentioned the vet’s mother’s alcoholism, which was another draw for me. I like stories about dysfunctional families; reading them helps me make sense of my own childhood.

Before I get any further, I should mention that I read this book early last summer ( or late last spring?) and just haven’t gotten around to reviewing it yet. So this will be short and vague.

It was disappointing that there wasn’t more dog- and vet-related stuff in the book, and what there was, was not always particularly convincing. I’m thinking specifically of the minor plot line involving an aggressive dog, which was not very credible. It almost felt like the dog and vet stuff was thrown in there to get the punny title.

The writing, as far as I remember, was good and smooth. But I wasn’t entirely convinced by the actions and words of the characters. Your mileage may vary, of course; what you find realistic in a character might differ from what I would believe.

The plot held my attention and I did enjoy the dysfunctional family stuff. Well, “enjoy,” right? But it’s always interesting to me to read someone else’s take on it.

This book is going into the giveaway pile. It was an okay read, but not a fave.

House Broken by Sonya Yoerg. ISBN 978-0-451-47213-7

The Brindle Dog Bares her Teeth

Have I mentioned that the Brindle Dog doesn’t like other dogs? The dog we had before her was very dog-aggressive, and the Brindle Dog learned it as a pup when she came into our home. Since we didn’t realise that would happen, we took no steps to prevent it. So the Brindle Dog learned from old Ratna how to sit, how to stay, how to play, and how to fear and charge at other dogs. Continue reading

Finished this book: The Art of Racing in the Rain (by Garth Stein)

Cover of The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Cover of The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

This is a lovely book, telling the story of Denny (a racecar driver), his partner, and their child over the span of a number of years. The story is told from the point of view of Denny’s dog, Enzo, is a canine philosopher who bases his musings about the world and the afterlife on television and racing. Enzo is convinced that in his next incarnation, he will be a human, and he works hard to practice human traits so he will be ready for his next life

The book avoids being cutesy in its use of a canine perspective, but instead manages to capture Enzo’s love for and admiration of Denny, as well as Enzo’s fervent (and sometimes conflicting) desires to both please and protect his master. The way Enzo relates his ponderings back to the words and actions of racecar drivers, whom he views as philosophers in their own right, is sometimes surprisingly moving.

This book is a quick read, and is one of the better “from-a-dog’s-perspective” books I’ve read. Very different from, but as well done as, one of the first books I reviewed on this blog: Dog On It by Spencer Quinn. I like a dog book that doesn’t rely on the stereotypes of canine simplicity, good cheer, and blind loyalty, but rather treats dogs respectfully as the complex and alien people they are. That actually goes for any animal-perspective book.

I’d highly recommend this book. Even though I have no interest whatsoever in race cars, racing, or even cars in general, Enzo’s commentary and insights on his own life and the lives of his humans used images and experiences in these areas to tell a great story. I will read this one again.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.

 

 

The Brindle Dog Smiles for the Camera

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It’s been about eight weeks since I found a lump in the back of the Brindle Dog’s left thigh that is almost certainly a mast cell tumour.

The tumour grows a bit, and then shrinks suddenly as it releases histamines, heparin, and proteolytic enzymes (which break down proteins) into her system. Eventually, as the tumour grows and more of these substances are occasionally released all at once, she might start getting allergic reactions, stomach ulcers, and other damage.

Continue reading

F*ck Cancer (or, Another Dog at the Bridge)

Poe's eighth birthday. Taken at Urban Canine by photographer Amanda Borsa.

Poe’s eighth birthday. Taken at Urban Canine by photographer Amanda Borsa.

Remember how my post about Cookie’s death nearly went viral last weekend? That was because Cookie’s mom finally felt ready to read it, and she shared it on Facebook, prompting many of her friends to read and share it.

In a heartbreaking coincidence, another one of her dogs, Poe, died on Friday. Poe was only eight, but he had a haemangiosarcoma on his spleen which ruptured. Haemangiosarcoma is an aggressive cancer more common in dogs than cats or humans. From what I understand, this shitty cancer (aren’t they all) starts in the lining of the blood vessels and leads to large blood-filled tumours which can rupture. That’s what happened to Poe.

Poe comforting his sister Cookie after her diagnosis of osteosarcoma (with my Fluffy Dog in the background comforting Poe). Taken by photographer Amanda Borsa.

Poe comforting his sister Cookie after her diagnosis of osteosarcoma (with my Fluffy Dog in the background comforting Poe). Taken by photographer Amanda Borsa.

Poe was a well-known and much-loved dog, and people who knew him have been sharing their memories and pictures of him on Facebook. Poe was adopted by my friend when he was about eight months old. He and his brother Jack and four of their siblings were running wild down in Ohio, and were live-trapped. The person who caught them remembers that all six of them were so scared that they were piled onto each other in a corner. It seems that the shelter there found them too feral to adopt out, and wanted to euthanise them because it was felt they would never make good pets. Continue reading

Puppy Socialisation Classes: Trust your instincts

The Fluffy Dog at about nine weeks old.

The Fluffy Dog at about nine weeks old.

Puppies should be socialised. They should be socialised well, early, often, and as much as their growing little brains and bodies and spirits can tolerate. Some trainers and vets say that you should wait until the initial series of vaccinations is complete, but I disagree. I’m not saying take your vulnerable pup to the local dog park where she can roll in the poo of ill or unvaccinated dogs. But I believe that with a bit of thought, you can come up with reasonably safe ways to get your puppy started quite early with socialisation experiences.

With this in mind, when the Fluffy Dog was just a wee pup, his papa and I took him to a puppy socialisation class. It was a series of four sessions for pups under five or six months of age who had already had their first two sets of vaccinations. Mr. Fluff wasn’t that fluffy back then. He was a wee little round-headed fuzzy pup who showed no signs yet of the long-haired, long-legged, loudmouthed beast he’d eventually grow into. I already loved him with all my heart.

The puppy group started out as a lot of fun. We introduced the pups to various toys, and to each other. But I felt like the people running it were maybe new to this, since they put an awful lot of emphasis on self-control and calmness for such young pups (not really developmentally possible for the really young ones), and then they had us play a dangerous game. Continue reading

Finished this book: The Hidden Lives of Dogs by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

Cover of The Hidden Lives of Dogs by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

Cover of The Hidden Lives of Dogs by E. M. Thomas

This book is a reflection about the author’s many years of living with dogs, during which time she eschewed formal training, preferring to let the dogs develop naturally, make their own decisions, and learn from each other. Elizabeth Marshall Thomas wanted to figure out what dogs want, and to see how dogs would behave when left primarily to their own devices. Her observations, and her synthesis of all those observations over the years, are quite interesting, but they are so grounded in very particular views not only of dogs and kyno-human relationships, but also very specific ideas about human culture (that is, the one Thomas knows), that some of her conclusions and ruminations seems odd to me. Continue reading

Better than Chocolate and Wine and Books Combined (wait, that would be messy)

It’s true. I am wildly in love with my pets.

Tonight I’ve been working on my sets for an upcoming gig. This is a kitchen job, since the gear all fits nicely on the kitchen table and the cables reach the speakers (and yes, I have a subwoofer in my kitchen—don’t judge me!). I try to practice earlier in the evenings, before my tenant gets home from their shift, so my pounding bass doesn’t disturb others.

The Brindle Dog was stretched out on her side beside me, fully relaxed, sound asleep. I had to be careful not to dance onto her (I work the music with my whole body, feet and hips for the beat, arms and head for other bits I’m tracking, like melody or special effects), but I kept stopping to look at her with a full heart. Continue reading

Today I Can’t Shut Out the World

My Facebook news feed always shows me stories about hard-luck dogs: the ones abandoned, the ones surrendered to shelters by owners unwilling (or, so sadly, willing but unable) to care for them, the ones born wild and now starving / scavenging / suffering.

I’ve put most of those pages on a separate “interest group” so I’m not confronted with them every day, so I don’t start every day in tears as I eat my porridge before going to work.
But most of my Facebook friends care as much about dogs as I do, and the things they share still appear in my main feed.

I always care about these lonely and confused dogs, but at enough of a remove that the sadness doesn’t trip me up. Today, though, I feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of suffering in the world. I am feeling tender and moved toward all the abandoned and unwanted creatures, Continue reading

Adverse Road Conditions & Confused Drivers

I stepped out with the dogs this morning into this season’s first blanket of snow. The dogs were wild with joy, and instantly made it their Prime Objective to find all of their digging holes and excavate them from under the layer of snow. Within minutes, the pristine white quilt was defaced with the spray patterns of mud and dead leaves kicked out from a handful of Very Important Holes.

Since I have tenants, I have to make sure I keep the sidewalks clean. So I cleared all the sidewalks and both decks, then went in to shower and get ready for work. The snow was still falling, Continue reading

Frustrating Vacation Days

This is my third day of a five-day “vacation” in which I am just staying at home and trying to catch up on my life. I had a huge long task list involving some cleaning and organising, some art-making and writing, some (limited) socialising, and some progress on contract work and paperwork.

Saturday went really well. I met with the bank about the mortgage, sorted through all of the stuff in my front alcove (which is supposed to be my Reading Corner but has slowly filled with books and bags and baskets and bird cages), freecycled a bunch of books and other stuff, brushed the Fluffy Dog, wrote a blog post, and came up with a grocery list. Super productive, and I still had time to do some reading and kill a dragon or two in Skyrim while finishing off the bottle of wine I’d started on Friday.

Sunday was slightly less productive. I did get grocery shopping and dishes done, and sent out another invoice (yay for income!), but the big event of the day was a combo art playdate and doggy playdate with J. at her place. I love spending time with J., and the Fluffy Dog loves spending time with her new little rescue dog, but we got no art done. As a visit goes, it was lovely as always: we humans drank London Fogs and discussed the state of our psyches and the world around us while the two dogs (one 80 pounds and one not even 8 pounds) gnawed on each other and played adorably. But the thing is, I got no art done, and I had been looking forward to that for days, anticipating our playdate. This is the first time we’ve tried to combine the two (art and dog playdates). Maybe over time, as the novelty of these two dogs developing a friendship becomes more mundane, we will be able to do both. But I think that for now, I will have to just accept that when the dogs are involved, art won’t really be on the table.

The thing is, that doesn’t leave a lot of time for art-making now. Today has been mostly given over to waiting for and dealing with contractors. Electrical estimates this morning, and now I have been waiting for over three hours for the drain people to come and clean out the main drain. The appointment was for between noon and 2. I called at 2 to ask for an ETA and they said 45 more minutes. I called again at 2:50 and they said they couldn’t tell me a time because there had been an emergency and the guy got his machine stuck in a hole. Sigh. It’s 3:10 as I type this and they just called to say the technician is on his way, so I live in hope but I am not holding my breath.

I can’t make something when I know an interruption is coming. If I have 20 minutes or an hour or (happy day!) four hours scheduled, I can use it to make something. It doesn’t matter how short the time is as long as I know it’s mine. But in a circumstance like this, when I’ve been awaiting the doorbell’s ring since 11:45, I can’t put my head into that space. So I’ve sorted through paperwork and pulled the things I know I’ll have to work on later. I’ve replied to a few emails. I’ve sent another invoice, and after the electrician left I zipped over to the hospital to pee in a bottle for the urine metanephrine test. At 4:45, I have to be at The Forks to meet S. for coffee and I had been planning to walk over, but time is starting to get short.

***

Two polite young men showed up and cleaned out the main drain. This is a major deal for the household. We used to get it cleaned every two years, as we have massive oaks growing along the sewer line and roots get in there. Last time, we left it for two and a half years…. and had a sewer backup, rendering our former tenant homeless and leading to a five-month, $15,000 renovation. The nice young men (a white tattooed supervisor and an earnest brown apprentice) did find a fair amount of roots in there even though it was last cleaned eleven months and three weeks ago.

The main drain access is in my tenant’s suite, so I had to be present while the guys were down there. How odd to be in someone else’s space like that, in a power position (I, Landlord), seeing their things and the intimate details of their daily life, the apple on the counter and the scrub brush in the sink and the knick-knacks and baby pictures.

Now it’s time to let the dogs pee and I probably have just enough time to walk to The Forks to meet S. instead of taking the car. Yay for beautiful autumn walks! Perhaps that will make me feel less time-wasted and frustrated, and maybe I can get back on track for Day Four of my mini-stay-at-home-vacay.

I Hate TV (but I think I love Netflix)

It’s always hard for me to start watching a new show. I am easily irritated, and TV shows and movies seem to bring out my hostility in a way that only actual news stories can match. For example: I abhor a laugh track. If I start watching something and there’s a laugh track, I am very unlikely to keep watching. Because honestly, if you have to prompt me to laugh, you’re just not funny enough.

Also: reliance on stereotypes. The clueless hippie. The absentminded professor. The ditzy blonde. The geeky boy-nerd who can’t talk to girls. The geeky girl nerd who blossoms once you put her in a dress and get her some contact lenses. The Jewish mother. The Arab terrorist. The evil stepmother. Continue reading

The Fluffy Dog’s First Halloween

The Fluffy Dog in his devil costume, gnawing on a squeaky toy.

The Fluffy Dog in his devil costume, gnawing on a squeaky toy.

 

Even though he’s six years old, this was really the Fluffy Dog’s first Halloween. Usually, I keep him and the Brindle Dog (and the Old Dog, when she was still alive) locked away in a bedroom so they won’t get freaked out by all the commotion. But this year, the Fluffy Dog and I got invited to spend Halloween with J and her new rescue dog, Little One (who is really little! Seven and a half pounds to the Fluffster’s eighty!).

So Mr. Fluff and I took ourselves over to Wolseley to hand out candy. Little One was in an adorable Batgirl costume, and J had picked up a devil costume for the Fluffy Dog. Continue reading

The Fluffy Dog Gets an X-Ray

The Fluffy Dog is dopey today.

The Fluffy Dog is dopey today.

About a month ago, I took the Fluffy Dog in for his annual checkup. He was perfect in every way except that his left hip didn’t extend as much as it should, and started bothering him at about 80%. The vet suggested an x-ray to see what’s going on with his hip. Because of the particular shot they’d have to take, the Fluffster would have to be under sedation. I had to think about it; that’s a lot of money to spend on diagnostics for something that isn’t even bothering him in daily life yet. Continue reading

Finished this book: Marley & Me (by John Grogan)

Cover of the book Marley & Me by John Grogan

Cover of the book Marley & Me by John Grogan

I’m a sucker for a book about dogs. I mean, dogs, right? Nature’s most perfect animal? Except they’re not really natural, I guess. But anyway, what I love even more than a book about a dog is a book about a bad dog, because it makes me feel better about my own unruly beasts. The only problem about true stories about dogs is that they generally cover the whole lifespan of the dog. That is, from start to finish. That is, the dog usually dies at the end of the book. Well, I guess crying is good for cleaning out the sinuses. Continue reading

Old Dogs: Premature Anticipation

The Tire toy and a couple of chewed-up sticks.

The Tire toy and a couple of chewed-up sticks.

Now that the Brindle Dog is old, I expect her to drop dead any minute. Which is obviously ridiculous: this dog is like the Duracell Bunny. Or maybe like a Timex (if she’d ever taken a licking, that is). Some days, it seem like she’ll keep on ticking forever.

After all the things she’s been through, the emigration from her birth country, the mast cell tumour in her neck at the age of two, the removal of a canine (root and all) after she snapped it trying to uproot a tree stump, the country life with skunks and the city life with racoons, the bone spur in her spine that sometimes makes the pee-crouch difficult, the recent liver problems, the canine and feline friends she has outlived and grieved, it is sad and rather pedestrian that what might finally kill her is a rotten tooth. Continue reading

There are also good things…

Today’s post by The Bloggess is called The small things are the big things. She talks about how we tend to weigh negative things more heavily than good things. I was hesitant to read further in case it was one of those platitudinous positive thinking posts, you know the ones, where NOTHING BAD CAN HAPPEN TO YOU IF YOU THINK POSITIVE and YOUR ATTITUDE SHAPES YOUR OUTCOME and YOU ONLY HAVE CANCER BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT THINKING POSITIVE ENOUGH and all that crap. This context-free pushing of positive thinking completely overlooks the factors in people’s lives that they have absolutely no control over. Continue reading

Walking the Dogs: Finally some rain…

The Fluffy Dog on a hot day, defeated by the heat.

The Fluffy Dog on a hot day, defeated by the heat.

Over about three hours today, the temperature dropped from 30-feels-like-41 to 20-feels-like-26, and the rain started. Not the wild thunderstorms promised by the Weather Network, but a nice steady gentle rain. The dogs were wild with joy (granted, this is a common state for the dogs, but still): the Fluffy Dog got all uppity and started singing the song of his people, while the old Brindle Dog paced between me and the door, pointedly squeaking for attention. I get it, I told them (come on, we all talk to our dogs). You want a rain walk. Continue reading

Brushing Battles, Hot Spots, and the Cone of Shame

Super disturbing and easily misinterpreted picture of the Fluffy Dog's tail after shaving the hot spot.

Super disturbing and easily misinterpreted picture of the Fluffy Dog’s tail after shaving the hot spot.

It’s been hot and humid in Winnipeg for what feels like ages. The Fluffy Dog and the Brindle Dog are both blowing coat out of season, trying to cool down. Old Brindle is easy to defluff; her fur is so short that I just rub her enthusiastically when we’re outside, and the plucks of undercoat peel away and float to the ground. The Fluffster, though, is a different story. Continue reading

Why a Blog (and not a journal)? – in three parts

I.

I love the Internet. I’ve loved it since I got my first email address in 1992 and built my first web site in 1994.

Meatspace is not always comfortable for an introvert like me, but I have met friends, colleagues, partners, and a whole whack of other fascinating people online. Some of these connections have moved from “virtual” to “real” life. Many haven’t. Either way is a-ok. Continue reading

Old Dogs: When the News is Good

The Brindle Dog when she was a pup.

The Brindle Dog when she was a pup.

The Brindle Dog now at eleven years old.

The Brindle Dog now at eleven years old.

 

 

———————————————————————————————————————————————

My ex and I first met the Brindle Dog when she was two weeks old. Her mom Asja and dad Tommy were KNPV dogs, and through a complicated backstory, we ended up paying two hundred euros for a pup from this litter because Tommy’s owner felt sorry for us.

We visited the Brindle Dog and her littermates every week until we could take her home. When she was four weeks old, we chose her for three reasons: she was toddling around exploring more adventurously than her siblings, she had a lovely golden stripe running down the inside of her right front leg, and when my ex picked her up to cuddle her, she fell asleep all limp and trusting in her new papa’s arms. Continue reading

Walking the Dogs: Mud and Mosquitoes

The Fluffy Dog in his wading pool, with gunk in his fur and in the water.

The Fluffy Dog in his wading pool, with gunk in his fur and in the water.

My dogs could have a better life, I know. Mostly, they laze around waiting for something interesting to happen. We don’t do flyball or Schutzhund or agility or any other formal training. The Fluffy Dog goes to daycare one day a week, but the Brindle Dog doesn’t even get that. I try to take them each on a long walk every day but that depends on my internal stuff (stress, anxiety, depression) and my external stuff (work, physical health).

But when we do go for those long walks—or even for short ones—I try to let them do what they want. Continue reading

Walking the Dogs: Pride Fest weekend

A picture of Pride at The Forks, shamelessly stolen from www.pridewinnipeg.com. The attribution is Cynthia Bettencourt (at the bottom right).

A picture of Pride at The Forks, shamelessly stolen from http://www.pridewinnipeg.com. The attribution is Cynthia Bettencourt (at the bottom right).

I was planning on a quiet couple of days, but there was so much going on in Winnipeg last weekend! Bike Week, Jazz Fest, Pride, FIFA, farmer’s markets, parades and art openings and films and picnics and concerts, oh my! Plus in my own life, my dear friend got a new dog, and one of my French cousins whom I haven’t seen in ages was stopping by on his way across Canada to go pick cherries in the Okanagan. So much for a quiet weekend! Suddenly there was so much choice! New dog! Interesting cousin! House music at the Pyramid! Pride Fest and market and music at the Forks! Thunderstorms and BBQs! Continue reading

Walking the Dogs (Stress Management)

Picture of a picnic table and some trees with late afternoon sun coming through them.

Took this pic on a walk in the Exchange last week.

I resist doing the things that are good for me. I hate the little voice that snarls and nags at me to eat well, exercise, keep my house clean, be polite, stand up straight, be silent, be nice, keep up appearances, worry about what the neighbours will think, don’t rock the boat. That fucking awful voice from the past mixing up the things that would really work for me with the things that harm and crush and make a life small. Continue reading

Dog Meat for Dinner?

A picture of a black dog and her nursing puppies.

The Brindle Dog with her mom and siblings. Not snacks despite how plump and juicy they all seem.

“But think of the sweet PUPPIEEEES!!”

Of course I don’t want dog meat for dinner. But it makes me spitting mad when people who eagerly devour pigs and cows get all sentimental about others eating dogs. Because: Continue reading

When Good Dogs Die

DSC00309

Picture taken by me in Winnipeg’s Exchange District. It seems appropriately bleak for today’s post.

Cookie died today. It was a safe and peaceful death, in the arms of her loving mama and at the hands of a compassionate vet.

I will miss her joyful grin and the way she wagged her whole body when I arrived at her home. I love how she would wiggle her substantial butt frantically while also hop-hop-hopping with her front paws. She had a lovely friendly wide head and the tips of her ears flopped down. When she gnawed on a bone, her powerful jaws flexed and you could see the Rottie in her. Continue reading