desoto_hia873: (Linus)
After so many months of looking for a dog, I'm addicted to petfinder.com. This photo makes my heart hurt:

Babette


Because as lovely a dog as Bella is--and she is--I still have a Linus-shaped hole in my heart. It's been nearly two years, and I don't think it's ever going to go away.

::sniffles::

I don't know how it's possible for two completely unrelated mixed-breed dogs to look so alike. On top of that, according to this one's profile, she came from a schnauzer/terrier litter. I see neither schnauzer nor terrier in that pic.
desoto_hia873: (Bella)
I'll change topics soon, really. Just not quite yet.

I've had a week to get to know Bella now, and she's proven herself to be a very nice and well-behaved young lady. She's perfectly housetrained, which, yay! A thousand times yay!!! I hate housetraining dogs--I find it really stressful because you have to walk a fine line between communicating to the puppy that it's done something wrong when it relieves itself indoors and not being so stern that you wind up creating a phobia. Through my inexperience, I almost did the latter when Linus was a puppy, and I'm very relieved that the whole issue has been taken care of for me with Bella. She doesn't have a very strong "I need to go out" signal, but neither did Linus, so I'm used to guessing when a dog needs a pee-break, and she hasn't had a single accident. Which is pretty impressive given that she's only nine months old and has been dealing with the stress of a major life change herself.

Tollers are generally high-energy dogs, second only to border collies. Of course, they all have their own personalities, and some are more high-energy than others. Bella, thankfully, is not one of the high-strung, perpetual-motion types. She's quite happy to lie on her pillow next to the couch when I'm reading or on the computer. She walks beautifully on the leash. She'll wander off to sniff things when she's on the extendable leash, and occasionally she'll try to dart after a squirrel, but otherwise she pretty much just walks beside me. I don't think she really knows the command "heel"; I think this is just her way. She's a very gentle dog and only needs gentle corrections.

She's also a pretty quiet dog. She sometimes barks when she hears strange noises (like the huskies howling next door), but not very often and not for very long. She's all wriggly happy in the mornings and will play-bite my hands, but she has a soft mouth and hasn't come close to hurting me. She hasn't shown any kind of aggression at all. I had to take a paintball out of her mouth on Christmas Day, and she let me do it without complaint. Her sit command is coming along really well. I've just started making her sit and wait before she gets to eat her meals, so that'll help even more.

I took her to a retriever trainer a couple of days ago, and she gave me several exercises to do with her. She actually does most of them already: she'll lie quietly beside me when I sit down, she makes eye contact readily, and she kind of knows "wait," so it's not hard for me to get her to follow me out the door instead of the other way around.

Her retrieving instinct isn't very strong--sometimes she'll run after a thrown ball, but she'll just as often ignore it. We'll have to work on that--I like throwing things for dogs and having them bring it back to me, and it's a good way to tire them out. She definitely needs work on her recall, and I hope we (i.e., the trainer and I) can deal with this soon because I want to be able to let her play off-leash in appropriate areas. And she's decided that she likes chasing the cat, so I've had to be more strict about that. She's great with Jim's brother's dog. He brought her over on Boxing Day, and the two of them chased each other around the backyard at top speed and then got into a serious rough-and-tumble wrestling match, all in play.

Bella's two biggest problems are that she likes to "counter-surf" (she's very food-motivated) and she's rather timid around new people, especially children. She often comes and stands behind me when MiddleJim, LittlestJim, and their cousins are around. She's still tied to my waist when she's indoors, which takes care of the counter-surfing, and I've told Jim's kids to give her treats often when they see her, so she'll come around there too.

Linus, bless his furry little heart, was an insatiably curious, excitable, perpetual-motion dog. He was filled to the brim with joie de vivre, which was fun to watch but could also be tiring after a while. Bella's not a couch potato, but she does have that all-important off button, which makes her a remarkably easy dog to live with.

Bella in the Backyard, Dec. 28, 2007

New York

Apr. 30th, 2006 03:24 pm
desoto_hia873: (Xander - eyesthatslay)
Some time ago, I mentioned that I might be going to Cuba with my father. Well, that didn't happen - which was a good thing, as it turned out, because then I would have been away when Linus collapsed and had to 'cross the Rainbow Bridge', as dog people seem to call it. ::is a bit mystified by that terminology:: And as hard as that was, Linus needed me here and I needed to be here for him.

If I squint, I can see a silver lining in there somewhere, I just know it.

Anyway, I'm still trying to come to terms with all of that - Linus, I mean, not Cuba - and sometimes I think it's OK and other times it seems like an unending struggle, and man I feel things way too much and wish to heavens that I could dial it down at least a little because I'm stuck at Spinal Tap's 11 and I'm also starting to talk like Xander.

Anyway #2, Jim and I have decided to take a week's no-kids-allowed holiday near the end of May. My first choice would be to go to Europe, but a week's not really long enough for that. I'd just have gotten over the jet lag by the time we'd have to leave to come home. So I was thinking of a destination along the U.S. eastern seabord and I've never been to New York. (See? The subject line is relevant to this post! Like Xander, I do get to my point eventually.)

I know shockingly little about New York - where to stay, what to do. Can someone give me a few pointers?
desoto_hia873: (Linus)
I mentioned a few days ago that the Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind has a dog school near where I live - they have The Founder's Path and Garden where you can purchase inscribed bricks in support of their programs. This is the one I got for Linus and Daisy (Daisy is the dog I grew up with).

desoto_hia873: (Spike - Lonely - vampkiss)
I debated on changing my LJ layout tonight to one that will list tags someplace handy, but wound up scurrying back to my current format out of fear that I'd mess my banner up. I'm such a wimp.

Anyone know offhand which S2 styles include the tag lists? Perhaps I'll try again sometime when I'm feeling a little braver.

Went to Peterborough for a really long weekend over Easter (I took Thursday off too). It was Jim's 46th birthday on Sunday, so there were gifts to buy and restaurants to go out to and those things really should be singular but it's less fun to write them that way. We also had three (definitely plural, this time) Easter egg hunts on Sunday with the boys: first Jim hid eggs for them, then LittlestJim insisted on rehiding them for us to find, and finally, not to be outdone, MiddleJim had to have a go at it too. Some of the eggs were rather melty after all that handling, but the boys didn't seem to mind. Then we all played a game of Monopoly and LittlestJim won. Again. The next Donald Trump - you heard it here first.

But I have the means for revenge now. LittlestJim's birthday was in February and I bought him the board game Careers. I used to play it all the time when I was growing up and figured he'd like it because (a) he likes board games, and (b) it has money in it. What I didn't tell him was that I am the Undisputed Careers Champion of All Time. I haven't lost a game of Careers in decades. LittlestJim is going down. Ha!

In other news, it doesn't look like I'm going to be a university professor anytime soon. I'm pretty sure they're interviewing by now and my phone has been quite silent. ::pouts::

And finally, my apartment is still too quiet. Linus's crate has been temporarily retired to my mother's basement, but his baskets and toys are still here. I restrain myself from playing with his toys, but occasionally lean over the baskets for a whiff of eau de chien. It's just not right that he isn't here.

I miss you, little dog.

Breaking

Apr. 11th, 2006 12:57 pm
desoto_hia873: (Linus)
It's amazing how many dogs you see around when you suddenly don't have one of your own anymore. I live in a suburb - they're everywhere.

Linus had hemangiosarcoma, for anyone who wants to learn about this sort of thing. He had no symptoms prior to his collapse on Friday - he might have felt some discomfort, but it wasn't enough to slow him down or affect his appetite. He was galloping around my mother's yard and thundering up and down her stairs on Thursday, and wolfed down dinner in his usual haven't-eaten-in-a-week fashion early Friday evening. The vet who examined him on Friday night palpitated his abdomen and couldn't feel the tumour despite its size.

More details, cut for the easily squicked. )

I guess I'm writing this all down because Linus went from being an apparently perfectly healthy dog who wasn't even showing his age to an acutely ill and aged animal who had to be put to sleep in the space of less than 24 hours. Even though he was 13 years old, I never thought of him as 'old' because he never acted like it. He played with his squeaky toys incessantly and strangers often asked me how big he was going to get when he finished growing. I'm glad that he didn't have an extended period of decline, but a part of my brain keeps asking, "Why did you tell the vet to do it when he was fine just a few days ago?" If I can get my stupid head to accept that he really was very sick, then it will feel more like I saved him from inevitable suffering and less like I condemned him.

I don't usually use LJ for personal posts, but I'm taking this pretty hard. (Note to self: buy shares in Kleenex.) Due to events and my own illnesses in recent years, I'm very self-aware and I'm now in the peculiar position of watching myself shut down. My apartment is so empty when I go home (I live alone) and I don't know what to do with myself when I get there. So far, I've solved the problem by sleeping alot. Last night, I went to bed at 8 pm.

This is all a long-winded way of saying that I'm not keeping up with LJ very well at the moment - actually, I'm not keeping up with anything very well, except possibly any sleep deficit that I might have had - so please don't think that I'm ignoring you. I'll be OK; it'll just take me a little while to get there.

Eventually, I will find comfort in the fact that Linus went quickly and without suffering. He was a good dog and he deserved that.

Eventually, I will find comfort in the fact that my decision spared him a lingering, painful, and unavoidable death.

Right now, I find comfort in remembering that, when I arrived at the clinic on Saturday, he walked as fast as he could towards me, wagging his tail, and lay down next to me and went to sleep with his head on my lap. I was the centre of his world and he trusted me and that pretty much says it all.

I just wish it didn't hurt so damn much.

~*~

Thank you all so much for your kind words in comments to my last few posts. They mean more to me than you could possibly know. ::loves you all::

If you've lost a pet and want to do something that will help others in their memory, check out The Farley Foundation. You can also buy an engraved brick in the Founder's Path and Garden at the School for Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind. Linus and Daisy, the dog I grew up with, already share a brick there - Mom and I went to see it again on Sunday.

He's Gone

Apr. 8th, 2006 09:34 pm
desoto_hia873: (Linus)
The ultrasound showed quite a large tumour on his spleen and that it was bleeding. His condition this afternoon was worse than this morning. I spent about an hour with him before making the decision and he seemed to go downhill even during that time. He started rolling over on his back - something he doesn't usually do much - and I wondered if he was trying to relieve the pressure of the internal bleeding. The vet had suggested that we could take him home for the night to say goodbye. But he seemed mostly relaxed and I didn't want that to change for the worse.

I didn't want to see him hurt. So I made the decision to let him go before that happened.

I just didn't want him to hurt.

I'm sorry, Linus. I'm sorry I couldn't make it better. You'll always be with me.
desoto_hia873: (Linus)
I talked to the vet a little while ago. Linus is still with us and looking a little better this morning. He said that he's eaten breakfast and he's wagging his tail at the staff. His blood tests all came back normal - even the kidney-related ones, so I guess the low protein dog food is working on that front. He has, however, developed an irregular heartbeat. He may have had the doggie equivalent of a heart attack last night. They're going to do abdominal and heart ultrasounds today. The former will look for tumours (which can apparently trigger heart events) and the latter for structural problems and heart disease. Either way, his long-term prognosis isn't super - he might have another nine months to a year at best.

You don't even want to know what all this is going to cost. But the tests so far are non-invasive and he's not suffering and, well, he's my baby. If it turns out to be a tumour, I don't think I'll go the surgery route. It wouldn't buy him much time and would (obviously) cause him alot of pain. If it turns out to be heart disease, he can be medicated and might get another year. His frisbee chasing days are, however, probably over.

I'm going to go and see him this afternoon and am hoping I can bring him home tonight.

The end is likely not that far off, but it looks like it might not be today, at least.

Thank you all so much for your kind comments to my last post. ::hugs flist tight::
desoto_hia873: (Crazy Spike - killmebecomeme)
This is Linus (the little black and furry guy - the one in the t-shirt is me). He's been my faithful companion for over thirteen years now. He's a dog of indeterminate heritage - he's beagle-shaped, but his mother looked like a gold Lhasa Apso and his sister like a white poodle. Go figure. He's never really grown up - he's pretty much acted like a (thankfully, house-trained) puppy his entire life.

Until tonight, that is, when I found him in a state of collapse in the bathroom. I couldn't get him to walk, so I had to carry him out to the car. I just got home from several hours spent at Ottawa's only emergency veterinarian. They think it's either kidney problems or, more likely, a tumour that has started to bleed out. The kidney problems I've known about for a while - he has standard old dog bad breath and has been on low-protein dog food for a couple of years. The tumour, if it's there, is something new and unexpected. They're keeping him overnight to get some fluids into him and do some blood tests. The vet said there was a 75% chance that he'd still be alive by morning.

I'm not ready for this.

Linus in Canoe

desoto_hia873: (Linus)
I spent the long weekend at Jim's cottage with his brother and alot of children (they each have three), which meant that Linus did the same. Linus loves cottages - lots of swimming and running around in the woods. And, occasionally, finding something marginally edible on the neighbour's property and gorging on it. Which he did with great gusto on Saturday afternoon. And which meant that he threw up and had diarrhea all Saturday night with a similar amount of gusto.

::sighs::

Next time, I'm getting a gerbil. (But not really.)
desoto_hia873: (Linus)
This is Linus. He's been my annoying but cute companion for lo these twelve years, which makes him my longest relationship ever. This in spite of the fact that he keeps trying to kill himself. He's come within a hair's width of jumping off the Niagara Escarpment, thrown himself over a six foot tall wooden fence while tied up on the other side (and dangled there until rescued by a neighbour), poisoned himself with lamp oil and prescription drugs, and been mauled by another dog. OK, that last one wasn't his fault.

He spent the day yesterday at my mother's house - his behaviour always goes into a sharp decline when he's there because he knows he can get away with it with her. He took the opportunity to eat an entire package of Fisherman's Friends cough drops, which are violently strong but at least not likely to do him in.

And probably improved his breath, come to think of it.
desoto_hia873: (Linus)
OK, one more post. Got this from [livejournal.com profile] cousinjean:

1. Stop talking about politics for a moment or two. [Not that I was, but I did read alot of it.]

2. Post a reasonably-sized picture in your LJ of something pleasant, such as an adorable kitten, or a fluffy white cloud, or a bottle of booze. Something that has NOTHING TO DO WITH POLITICS.

This is me in a canoe with Linus, my dog. He was a few year younger then and is getting a big aged now, but still looks like a puppy.

Linus

NOW I'm going back to packing.

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