Archive for the ‘Dogs’ Category

  • My Sick Bonnie Girl

    Date: 2017.02.23 | Category: Bonnie Barrell, Dogs, Family, Health, Home, Life, Me, Pets | Response: 28

    My dog , Bonnie, is very sick.
    That’s your trigger warning for this blog post.

    Surrounded by at least two border collies since I arrived in the world over 30 years ago, it’s safe to say that I was born a “dog person.” I’ve always had their cold noses in my face and their warm bodies pressed against me when I needed a good cry. They are an essential part of my life, and a part I was grateful to bring into the lives of my own children.

    We have had Leela for nine years and Bonnie for eight – both longer than our own children have been in our lives. When we adopted one-year-old Bonnie, we had a neurotic, anxious, obsessive mess on our hands who growled at any strange man who came near her, including my poor father-in-law. When she was scared, which was always, she rolled onto her back and peed everywhere. (Her barrel rolling behavior, along with her portly form, earned her the nickname “Bonnie Barrel.”)

    But I was determined to rehabilitate my new dog and we researched the best ways to help her. Eventually after a couple of years, she grew into the much more confident, happy and laid back dog she is today.

    Our kids love Bonnie and she loves them. She patiently and tolerantly lets them hug her and dress her up and rub her big ole belly everyday.

    About a week ago, Mark was putting flea medication on Bonnie and noticed a big bump on her throat. I immediately called the vet and they asked us to bring her in the next morning. The mass was about the size of a baseball. They took a needle biopsy on it and sent it off to pathology. She didn’t seem to be in pain and was still eating and breathing fine, so they sent us home to wait for the results to come back.

    On Tuesday I called and though they had the lab results back, they needed to talk to a specialist vet to interpret them, so again we waited. In the mean time we saw that her mass was noticeably getting larger. Yesterday as I picked up the phone to call our vet,  my phone began to ring and it was my vet calling me. After some discussion, he told me that anything growing that quickly was fluid, not tissue. He didn’t feel comfortable working on her and directed us to another vet in town.

    Although he is normally off on Thursdays, this vet happened to be in this week and they agreed to see us early in the morning.

    When I got home yesterday, I noticed a bloody spot on Bonnie’s neck. I thought she had bumped it, so I laid her up in our room. By 11:00 last night there was a larger nasty spot on the other side. By this morning she had blood and fluid all over her beautiful white fur and could barely walk. I just knew my dog was suffering and dying.

    Mark took her to vet appointment while I got the twins ready and off to school, all the while I was mentally preparing myself to have to say goodbye. The kids all knew something was up. My big girls wanted to love on Bonnie this morning, but Sarah was shaken by all the blood she saw. The twins kept asking about “Bon Bon,” and when I finally told Vera that Bon Bon was sick and at the doctor’s office, my not-even-two-year-old nodded sagely and said, “ok.”

    I’m sure my complete and total distraction this morning led to Vera falling and scrape her knee on the way into school. And as I held my screaming and crying little girl, all I wanted to do was lean into her and sob too.

    I finally made it to the vet and there was another customer at the front desk who was carrying on and on about her dog’s microchip with no sign of slowing down. She then tried to engage me in conversation before I interrupted at her and told her that my dog was very sick and waiting to see me. Fortunately the receptionist jumped on it and found out where she was and took me back, despite this lady STILL trying to have a conversation about the dang microchip while I was visibly crying.

    When I got back to the room they had shaved all the fur off of her neck and she looked absolutely terrible. Her mass had swollen to the size of a cantaloupe, but she was still so happy to see me. She ran to me, tail wagging and nuzzled up to me. The vet came in and told me that whatever this thing started as, it was now super infected and needs to be treated with IV antibiotics, along with some kind of laser and hydrotherapy before we could begin to talk about recovery. BUT he said the word I hadn’t expected to hear: “recovery.”

    He was so kind and gracious and showed us the pet ICU where she would be staying overnight, hooked up to fluids and medicine. The staff was so kind and reassuring, and he had a game plan for her.

    “Dogs are the best patients,” he said,  “because they don’t feel sorry for themselves. You’d never know she was feeling bad if you couldn’t see what was going on or take her temperature” (which was 105).

    So we left her there this morning for an overnight stay. They graciously told us to call as much as we liked to check on her and that we could even come visit if we wanted to. The vet explained that this sickness is an avalanche that needs to be stopped before we can begin to go uphill for her recovery. And so now we wait and we hope. I know she is in the very best place she could be right now.

    Saint Francis is the patron saint of animals. If you have a moment, say his prayer for us.

    Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
    where there is hatred, let me sow love;
    where there is injury, pardon;
    where there is doubt, faith;
    where there is despair, hope;
    where there is darkness, light;
    where there is sadness, joy.

    O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
    to be consoled as to console,
    to be understood as to understand,
    to be loved as to love.
    For it is in giving that we receive,
    it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
    and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
    Amen.

  • The First Note Home and the Animal Revolt

    Date: 2016.09.13 | Category: Bonnie Barrell, Dogs, Family, Health, Home, Leela Fish, Life, Norah, Pets, Puppies, Sarah | Response: 0

    One of my coworkers recently told me that she looks forward to Mondays just so she can hear what shenanigans Norah has been up to over the weekend. (Insert embarrassed/awkward emoji face here). But it’s true – she is always up to something. This past weekend it was spreading a combination of sunscreen and toothpaste along the hallway and around the bathroom sink – and that’s really pretty mild all things considered.

    But, last week, she did have her first note home from school.

    Now, Sarah is far from perfect and has her own set of issues, but she’s usually a quintessential firstborn rule follower. In the past three years, there has never been a note sent home from school, though her teachers have all filled me in on some of her antics that resulted in pulling a card.

    But, as we all know, Norah loves to buck the system. And when I was loading her into the car last week, one of her teachers could barely contain her laughter as she began explaining to me why Norah’s face was colored purple. In her backpack found a note that read:

    “Norah found a purple crayon at nap time and drew all over her face with it, colored the floor and ate some of it. The crayon was nontoxic. :) ” I do so love our teachers for being concerned about the crayon’s toxicity.

    Of course she got in trouble and had to make a serious apology to them the next day, during which they worked hard to keep from smiling.

    Perhaps I should gift them both with jumbo-sized boxes of Magic Erasers.

    *****

    And lest we forget the other three individuals who reside in our house, they have been up to their own set of antics. And no, I’m not talking about my other three children, I’m talking about our two dogs, Leela and Bonnie, and Angie Cat.

    We discovered, after having the twins, that Angie Cat protests by peeing on any and all clothes that happen to be on the ground in our room. And while this did finally force us to keep our closet floor clean, any time a piece of clothes would fall out of the hamper, it was game over. We’ve been very diligent lately about keeping all the clothes off the floor. Angie Cat though, refused to be deterred.

    We discovered her next target when Leela started waking up Norah in the middle of the night by climbing into bed with her. (I find it hilarious that she seeks out Norah’s bed at 2am, because Norah often torments Leela during waking hours).  I couldn’t figure out why in the world the dog would suddenly start sneaking into the girls’ room in the middle of the night until I smelled it. Angie Cat had struck again – this time taking out the dog beds. They were so sabotaged that we just had to chuck them out. We’ve made other attempts at making dog beds with blankets, etc, but without fail, nearly every night I am woken up by Norah whining and yelling, “Get off LEELA! GET OFF!” And then it’s often a good 10-15 minutes before I can convince Norah that it is, in fact, still dark outside and too soon to wake up.

    Thinking to thwart this newest set back, I set a pressure gate up outside the girls’ room to block Leela from going in. (Norah won’t sleep with the bedroom door closed). So, of course, the first time I set the gate up, at 2AM, I heard Sarah crying in the hallway. Half asleep, she was standing there by the gate, shaking, telling me she was freezing and her stomach hurt and she couldn’t get to the bathroom.

    Normally, she’d scamper over the gate, no problem, but this particular night it turns out strep had taken over her body. And because bunk beds don’t lend themselves well to vomiting children, I moved her to the couch in the living room. With no place left to block the dogs out, Leela decided that she was just as content snoozing with a sick Sarah, and Sarah, bless her poor, ill little heart, didn’t mind the company.

    Our new neighbor asked me last weekend why we have pets – “Aren’t they so much work with all your kids?” she asked. And while they can sometimes be just as irritable and messy as our children, they are part of our family. They were here before the children were and, despite the sometimes angry revenge peeing, take the kids all in stride and even deign to snuggle with them – on their own terms of course.

    P.S.: That cat pee smell is the worst and so hard to get out, but since we are cloth diapering now, I discovered a whole bunch of awesome things that get nasty smells and stains out, and this stuff is THE BEST at getting out that ammonia smell. I use it all the time. I am not getting paid to promote this stuff, just wanted to share it with my fellow cat/dog/kid parents as a FYI. Click on it to find it on Amazon.

  • Snow Days, Rest Days

    Date: 2015.03.04 | Category: Dogs, Family, Health, Home, Life, Love, Mark, Me, Norah, Pregnancy, Sarah | Response: 1

    Snow in Louisiana is a rare and funny thing – especially when A) the forecasters are actually right and it happens and B) it lasts more than one day. Both of those things happened last week and I noticed that people’s reactions were something like this:

    Day 1: SNOW! SNOW! SNOW! (ok, so it’s mostly ice) but cancel all the things and let’s stay home and party. No school! Yay! Also let’s take a million pictures and go outside in inappropriate clothing because none of us are prepared for this! Also, let’s update everyone and let them know where it’s snowing!

    Day 2: A much more muted celebration, yay – no work, no school, but really I’m tired of being stuck inside with my kids, can’t we all get back to normal tomorrow?

    Day 3: Real snow! It’s beautiful! But seriously, I’m over it. Please melt and go away and bring me 75-degree weather. Grumble grumble, complain, complain.

    My take? I loved it – all three days of it from ice, to slush to real snow. I loved being at home with my family. Yes, it had its trying moments, but there is something so wonderful about an unplanned vacation. Perhaps it’s the homebody in me, or maybe getting outside long enough to watch Mark and Sarah pelt each other with snowballs and build a giant snowman satiated my need to get out of the house, but I was in heaven.

    The stay at home gave me some much needed time to move Norah’s things into Sarah’s closet and get the twins’ things set up in a closet together – a big task that I had had no clue when I’d be able to accomplish. (And don’t worry, I mostly stayed off my feet, sitting in the closet organizing, folding, stacking and yelling for Mark to come move heavy boxes for me). We also cleaned bedrooms (in the same sitting and directing fashion).

    But, most importantly, whenever I felt tired or worn out, I could crawl onto a couch and put my feet up. And guess what? I had very minimal contractions and physically felt so much better.

    The girls played church, put on elaborate dancing and singing performances and generally enjoyed the heck out of themselves. I lounged on the couch and drank coffee while I watched them perform.

    Of course it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, but the unexpected break was a blessing. And when Sarah told me Thursday morning that she was ready to get up, get dressed and go see her friends that day, I applauded her good attitude.

  • Getting My Confidence Back

    Date: 2013.06.05 | Category: Bonnie Barrell, Dogs, Health, Leela Fish, Life, Me, Pregnancy | Response: 12

    We interrupt this vacation story to talk about exercise (I know, boo, HISS back to the New Orleans pecan pie on the griddle).

    You see, back before I got pregnant I was working out a lot, spinning and lifting. I was really proud of myself and got that great endorphin surge on a regular basis. I got to know my workout instructor and appreciated the lunchtime ritual of going and working hard.

    After I got pregnant, the heart stuff started and I was basically told to keep it just to walking. I was bummed, but knew I could keep up the walking at the very least. But then I didn’t. I couldn’t find the time to do it. After work all I want to do is come home, crawl on to the couch and try to muster up the energy to play with my daughter. Lunchtime became out of the question for time reasons and I quickly caved to just skipping it all together.

    As I gave it up, I also started feeling gross and down – my body trying to adjust to life without that boost. And then mentally I kept blaming my heart and the baby. I needed to take it easy after all, right?

    Well then I went on vacation and hiked it all over the city of New Orleans, and then up and down the beach in the sand, oftentimes while carrying my 30-pound toddler. And you know what? For the most part, my heart was just fine and I actually felt a lot better.

    So I decided to have a pep talk with myself and figure out a solution.

    While talking to a coworker about finding time to read, I started telling her about how I used to get up in the mornings and walk the dogs while listening to audio books. I loved the cooler mornings, the happy dogs, and the time to myself. And then it clicked – of course I should go back to morning walks, why hadn’t I thought of that sooner?

    I still had no planned start date for this, however. But this morning, I woke up early on my own. My brain fought me, “You don’t have to start THIS morning.” But I was up and figured no time like the present.

    When I went to the back door with my walking shoes on and my dogs went ballistic. They were SO HAPPY because they know what those shoes mean. I plugged in my audio book, and we took off. We went just shy of two miles, but it was nice, felt so good and the morning alone time was decadent.

    Plus, my postpartum goal is to be able to walk my favorite local 5k – the Pumpkin Run the Saturday before Halloween. I figure I need to at least give my legs some time to prepare!

    So here goes nothing. Let’s hope I can stick to this and continue to tell my brain to shut up in the mornings.

  • The Backyard

    Date: 2013.05.03 | Category: Dogs, Family, Home, Life, Love, Mark, Pets, Sarah | Response: 5

    After moving out of the house when I was 17 into a college dorm room, and then later into Mark’s townhouse, I didn’t think much of not having a yard to speak of. At college, we would all migrate out to the soccer field to lay out a towel and soak up some sun, and at the town house, well, we walked along the path by the nearby river and got our sunshine that way.

    And then we got Leela.

    Having a border collie in a town house was no small feat… especially when you get the dog as a puppy who has to be house broken. And border collies have lots of energy and need to run. Of course Leela went with us by the river, but we also spent some time in the scrap of side yard throwing ball for her. It was not enough. Plus, at the town house we had a psycho neighbor who would very literally scream at us when we went outside, lying in wait to spring on us.

    Needless to say, we looked forward to the day we could move to a place with our very own private space.

    When we began house shopping over three years ago, a fenced in back yard was on our “must” list. And boy did we ever come across the perfect, big backyard.

    Leela thought she was in heaven, and we also took a sigh of relief in knowing we had a private space to hang out in. Bonnie joined our family shortly after, and those two still run all over the yard chasing squirrels.

    Then we had Sarah. Baby Sarah could only be calmed by susurration of the leaves outside, so we spent a good portion of my maternity leave enjoying the back yard sunshine.

    As she began to grow and walk, her sense of curiosity took Sarah all over the backyard. Even now, when she needs to let out some emotion, we go outside and she runs, rakes, plays in the mud, in her swimming pool, her play fort, and now her tire swing. I like nothing better than spreading out my giant towel blanket, taking a seat in the sun and watching her enjoy nature.

    And then when Sarah’s second birthday arrived, I was so happy to have a great big space we could decorate, play and share with our friends and family.

    Never have I been more thankful to have my own backyard.

  • Engaging

    Date: 2013.02.12 | Category: Dogs, Photography | Response: 12

    Jason and Stacy contacted me about photographing some engagement photos for them. Jason and I have known each other a long time, and his fiance Stacy and I have always gotten along well, so I was thrilled to take them. The day before the shoot they asked me if they could bring their dog. And, of course, you should know I was even more excited about the shoot once I learned Stella was going to be there too. So together the four of us plus Stacy’s brother aka the dog wrangler took a walk in the park and had a great time. Here are a few of my favorite shots.

    Oh, hi Stella!

    I sent them a lot of photos of just their dog… but I don’t think they minded. After all, look how happy they are!

  • Animals on Parade

    Date: 2013.02.06 | Category: Dogs, Family, Holidays, Kitties, OMG YAY!, Pets, Sarah | Response: 9

    It’s that time of year again where the beads fly, the people scream, the floats roll by and the dogs bark. That’s right the annual Mardi Gras Krewe of Barkus and Meoux parade that walks along the riverfront. This year’s animal participants (and their owners) dressed to the theme “Stars, Guitars and Animals from Mars.” You should probably know already that there is no way I was going to miss out on this, especially with clear, sunny skies and temperatures in the low 70’s. So we loaded up, met up with my mom, sister, brother-in-law and nephew and headed out to see the animals.

    One of the best parts of this parade is that everyone brings their animals out to watch with them. As a result, one of the scariest moments happened when someone was walking their ferret by on a leash… in front of a very large brown dog. Mr. Ferret was very nearly a snack, but thanks to the strong owner of the big dog, pup missed out on his treat.

    Look at the glare in that dog’s eyes. Obviously I’m a born photojournalist.

    There was also a squealing baby pig in a tutu, a pony (who was subsequently awarded best dressed for his Elvis costume) and parade royalty with names like King Taco and Lord of Pegasus Rafferty.

    Oh and their was a goat with tin foil on his antlers!

    Needless to say, my tiny accessory queen enjoyed the show.

    I love that this parade is part of our community. It’s so family friendly and animal lovers come out in droves to support the local pet community. There was even a woman who was carrying her CAT in the parade. Sarah walked away with two pairs of beads, and a small stuffed animal that looks like a cross between a snail and a turtle (we’re calling him Snurtle). And, most importantly, we all got to enjoy the beautiful day. I think we’re going to attempt one more regular parade this coming weekend before Fat Tuesday arrives and we embrace the season of Lent.

  • Helping the Puppies and Kitties

    Date: 2012.12.10 | Category: Dogs, Friends, Holidays, Kitties, Love, Pets | Response: 9

    It’s easy to get down sometimes when life isn’t going the way you planned. I’m struggling through some things in my life right now that I will overcome eventually, but they just make some days seem gray. It also makes my writing a bit lackluster, so I haven’t been blogging as much here or over at Sweet and Saucy.

    But then there are really beautiful moments that shine through the gray.  In particular, my friend Cassie’s daughter Claire (who is 5) came up with the idea (on her own, no less) to make life better for rescue dogs and cats this year for Christmas.

    Claire is a beautiful little spirit. When I was up in Pittsburgh in October, away from my own sweet girl, Claire attached herself to me, and we quickly became fast friends.  Granted a lot of our time was spent teaching her how to play the “Hanging with Friends” app, but more of it was spent in hugs, snuggles, questions and answers. And even though Cass and I aren’t sisters, I feel like Claire is my niece.

    I’ve loved animals ever since I was a kid, and we own two rescue cats, so Claire’s  cause is close to my heart.

    So far, the response to Claire’s request for supplies for the local animal rescue has been amazing.

    See:

    Aren’t people wonderful sometimes?

    But if you want to play Santa Paws and help her out in her mission to save the kitties and puppies, check out this Amazon wishlist they have set up. You can pick what you want to send and be confident in knowing all your donations go to Animal Rescue.

    I’ve made Cassie promise to take pictures of the final donations and their delivery, and I’ll share them here when it’s all said and done.

  • Thankfulness

    Date: 2012.11.21 | Category: Baby, Dogs, Family, Friends, Health, Holidays, Home, Leela Fish, Life, Love, Mark, Me, Pets, Sarah, Work | Response: 8

    People have been posting all month about the things they’re thankful for, and all month long I’ve been silently doing the same. Sometimes I find that I get so caught up in my goals and wants that I don’t appreciate the things I have.

    So here are the top 10 things I am abundantly thankful for.

    1. My home. The place that shelters my family keeps us safe and provides all the necessities. I remember reading a book one time about a refugee woman who couldn’t get over the warm, running, clean water we all take for granted in the U.S.

    2. My dogs. Leela has survived a lot this year and I’m so thankful that despite it all, her springy, frisky spirit is still with us. And Bonnie has become the most gentle, loving dog around Sarah, always happily baring her hugs with a smile.

    3. My family’s health. I’ve had years of bad health and hospital stays and seen a number of friends in the hospital with their little ones this year. Sarah had a terrible year of sickness last year. So this year I’m so thankful we’re all ok.

    4. My books. I have a healthy appetite for literature and it helps keep me sane. It is the one thing that I truly do and enjoy for myself without having to consult anyone else. (Though I do solicit opinions on what to read next!)

    5. My job. I love my jobs (day job, freelance and photography). They bring me great joy, push my creative boundaries, and allow me to  meet some amazing and inspiring people. And, with my husband’s work, they provide for my family, allowing us to live comfortably.

    6. My extended family – my sisters, parents, grandparents and in-laws. I’m so thankful to live near most of them and have them part of my life.

    7. My friends, both in real life and online. How have I been so fortunate to know so many wonderful people? People who will have lunch in the park with me, people who will council me through stressful times, people who will share a glass of wine and conversation and people who share my love for a good book.

    8. Mark. As I’ve said before, my husband is my rock. He is an amazing father, a caring husband and a good cook to boot. He listens to my worries and complaints and helps me put things in perspective. Sometimes he’ll even get up with Sarah so I can sleep or let me put my feet in his lap while we hang out on the couch. He is my support and my love and I am so extremely thankful for him.

    9. Sarah. My litte love. Sarah is my sunshine, my light on a dark day and my greatest source of entertainment. She is an independent little thing, but loves a good snuggle every so often. She has her mother’s love for books and her daddy’s interest in how things work. She’s full of smiles, hugs, laughter and joy. I was once told that getting pregnant would be a long and difficult road, and God gave me her anyway and she is one of my greatest sources of thanks.

    10. My faith. Faith is hard. My own has been tested and questioned a lot this year. But I am thankful that I have it in my life every day. It gives me strength when I feel I have none left and continues to help me build myself up and learn.

    I hope all of you have a thankful and beautiful Thanksgiving!

  • Leela’s Great Escape

    Date: 2012.11.03 | Category: Bonnie Barrell, Dogs, Family, Home, Leela Fish, Pets, Photography | Response: 8

    Dear Leela,

    I know things have gotten tougher since we had Sarah and that you’re not all that fond of her trying to hug you. I get it. That’s why we let you lay on the furniture (mostly) out of her reach.

    You’re outside more when the weather’s nice (heck, I wanted to be outside with you today. It was 82 and breezy!)

    Yes, things have gotten a little tougher on you, but that doesn’t mean you had to pull a Houdini and disappear out of our backyard. We love you and we want you with us, we even fork over vast sums of money each month to treat your Addisons Disease.

    And even though that nice apartment manager, her husband and children loved you so much that they took you in, bathed you, trimmed up your hair, loved you and strongly considered keeping you before their consciences caved in and they called us, does not mean we love you any less.

    I feel terrible because you look sort of rough. You like to roll in the dirt, you have a big patch of hair shaved off your rear end from a hot spot and you got out without Mark and I even knowing you were gone. We feel like terrible dog parents. And to think those people didn’t even know you have Addisons Disease and you could have been dead in two months without your regular treatment. The thought makes me heart ache.

    So today, Leela, I’m thankful for you. I’m thankful you are a good dog who didn’t wander far. I’m thankful that Mark and I finally bought monogrammed dog collars with our phone numbers on them a few months ago.

    You genius simply amazes me. The back gate is locked and we have a privacy fence, so we didn’t expect you to be able to escape. How you got to the apartments behind that fence was a mystery to all of us, especially since Bonnie didn’t manage to figure out how you did it and stayed put (or maybe Bonnie was happy with where she was).

    And then we saw this:

    A hole you and Bon had chewed out of the fence. But even then, that hole only led to our neighbor’s backyard. That means you found another hole in her back fence to get to the apartments.

    So Leela, we’re glad you’re back and we’re thankful for the joy you bring to our lives. Please don’t take off again. The next people who find your pretty little tail may not be so inclined to call us.

    Welcome home girl, and please, stay home.