Sunday, May 31, 2015

Miley and Maribel

A couple weeks ago, my friend Kevin came over to visit with his tibetan mastiff puppy, Maribel.  Maribel was bred by my friend Shana.:)  So it's a pretty neat connection all the way around!  After how well Miley played with Tito, I figured that playing with Maribel would be a piece of cake!  Slightly different scenario though.  Miley hadn't been running around on 5 acres and herding a golden retriever for an hour before she started playing with Maribel like she had with Tito. ;)  And Miley was REALLY excited that she had visitors!  After the initial off leash bout where Miley was more exuberant than Maribel was feeling like at that moment, I wrangled Miley and the pups got to get to know each other with Miley a little more restrained. i.e. choke hold on the collar. ;)

After a bit of that, we decided to walk the girls down to Little Cesars and get some pizzas!  Perfect opportunity for them to get to know each other more in a more controlled way.  Plus Maribel got to see, smell, and get exposed to a variety of things on the walk, while having Miley as a role model to show her how mundane everything was.  While I grabbed the pizzas, Kevin had the "pleasure" of holding both girls. :)

Then it was back to my house for a little more playing in the back yard.

Now if only either Kevin or I had taken some video of the girls together.......

Obviously I've been putting in extra time to not only keep Miley entertained, but to make sure that she's getting to play with other dogs.  It's something that I never put particular effort into with Heffner here, because she had him to interact with every day.  There were always periodic play sessions with other dogs, but not something that I was really trying to make sure she got super regularly.  Now with her as an only child, I'm more concerned that she get all the outlets she needs.  Especially considering what a little social butterfly she is.  This dog is a serious extrovert!  So now I'm on heightened awareness of how many play dates she gets.  How many walks beyond our usual routes around the house we go on.  And how many novel situations I put her into.  Admittedly, it's a lot easier to obsess about these things and put the added effort in when I've got only one dog to focus on and juggle.  But the flip side is that I feel added pressure to make sure that her waking hours that I'm not working are filled, stimulating and that she's not getting stale.  This pressure comes from no where or no one else but myself and while I realize that, it's there none the less.  I'm also still battling a little bit with the internal need to stay mentally occupied so that I don't think about Heffner.  I'm working on it, but it's like a lot of things in training.  You tend to work on the things that either come easier or are more fun to work on, than the things that aren't fun or you're struggling with.

I hope everyone had a great weekend!  And here's hoping Monday will be gentle!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Miley and Tito

On Mother's Day, I took Miley down to my parents' in Silverton so that we could relax, I could get in some family time and Miley could get to meet my sister's mixed breed puppy, Tito.  She'd sent me some pictures of him, but could this little mutt really be as cute in person as he was in pictures?  Oh dear lord yes!  And not intimidated by Miley's size AT ALL!  They were natural buddies and my sister and I were both looking forward to pups who were going to sleep soundly that night and give us a little peace. ;)

There was the initial butt sniffing and "sizing" each other up.  Then quickly came the play.

At which point we decided that this was too much energy to be contained in the house.  So outside we went!

Eventually, everyone needed a break.

Wondering why Jazz, my parents' golden retriever, is tired?  That's because he got to deal with Miley when she first got there.....

To be fair, I had taken Miley out into the tall grass in an attempt to take the edge off her energy....

She just has a looooooong edge.....;)

It was a great trip though and the pups all played well.  Miley was thrilled to have someone to play with in Tito.  And, much to Jazz's dismay, was also thrilled to have someone to herd.  I REALLY wish that I had caught the initial interplay between Jazz and Miley on video.  Even I was surprised by how quickly she corners and adjusts to who she's chasing!  Thankfully, I did manage to capture a little bit of Miley and Tito on video.

Judging by the number of toys that have been brought and dropped at my feet, it's now time to entertain the puppy.  Happy Thursday, and thank goodness it's almost the weekend!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Miley And Astro

Astro is Miley's buddy from the next cul de sac over.  He's also only a month older than she is, so they make pretty good playmates.  Admittedly, she enjoys being the bratty little "sister" at times and waits until he's preoccupied, and then she pounces! Brattiness aside though, they both definitely enjoy each other's company.  So when Astro's mom said that she had pulled out the pool and invited Miley and I to come over, we happily accepted!

It was a really nice way to spend a laid back, almost summer evening.  And wouldn't you know it, Astro's mom has a pretty nice camera to capture the hi jinks with! :)

Got drool??? ;)

Saturday, May 23, 2015


I have now lost two incredible dogs and the grieving process for each has been totally different.  When Bess got diagnosed with osteosarcoma, my world was turned upside down.  I was so incredibly ANGRY!  I wanted nothing more than for this disease to be some one's fault.  I wanted to hunt that person down and I wanted to beat the living shit out of them for doing this to my sweet, happy girl.  I could not wrap my head around the fact that this dog who, at the time, was standing alive in front of me, had a disease that would take her life and there wasn't a damn thing that I could do about it.  I felt utterly helpless and angry.  I took some time off of work to enjoy the time I still had with her and to try and work through what I was feeling.  I had so many emotions that I was cycling through so quickly and I was just generally having a very difficult time knowing that I was about to lose my little girl.  Her loss was so monumental to me, that it was hard to fathom how the rest of the world hadn't come to a screeching halt as well.  Her loss hurt so badly, that at times I couldn't understand how the rest of the world didn't feel the loss of her as well.

In an attempt to deal and work through this, I decided to keep a private journal so that I could word vomit every thought that was going through my head and every emotion I was going through.  Originally I thought that I might post it to the blog, but I quickly realized that if I started writing with the intention of posting it where anyone could read, I started censuring what I was writing.  And that defeated part of the purpose of the journal.  I wanted to get everything out as I was feeling it, without feeling self conscious about how someone else might perceive it.  There have been a few times over the past year that I've thought about going back through the journal and reading over what I wrote, but I haven't been able to bring myself to do it yet.  I'm still too well aware of what I was going through at that time, and things are still too raw for me to relive that pain.  Even just a few months ago, it was still painful to look back at pictures and video of Bess.  While the immediate pain of her loss has dulled, it's still absolutely there.  And probably reopened to a certain extent after losing Heffner.

I do feel that I handled the grieving process for Bess as well as I could.  I gave myself time and I tried to work through the emotions and accept what was happening/happened.  There is no rule for grieving.  There is no one who can tell you how long it will take or what things are guaranteed to help.  How many tears are appropriate?  What will make you feel better?  Do you even want to feel better?  When does it stop hurting?  There is a quote that someone posted a few months after Bess passed that I felt really summed up how I was still feeling:  "The reality is that you will grieve forever.  You will not 'get over' the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it.  You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered.  You will be whole again but, you will never be the same.  Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to." - Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and John Kessler.

It is very easy to judge how others deal with grieving.  We base our judgements a lot of times on how WE would react to the situation.  Or at least how we THINK we would react to the situation.  It's easy to be outside looking in and think "gee that person is still going on about this."  Or "gee, they haven't said much.  Maybe they don't actually miss her/him at all."  We all handle loss differently and we each have the right to handle that loss in our own way.  

Loss causes an emotional reaction.  Emotion isn't logical.  It's going to do what it's going to do and when you're right smack dab in the middle of it, it's just hard.  No one outside of the situation can understand the exact pain that you're going through.  No one else can fully understand the full impact.  Often times, we don't even understand the full impact of each loss until it knocks our feet out from under us.  You can't anticipate it.  You can't reason with it.  It is, what it is and you just have to figure out how to cope.

I don't know that I have handled Heffner's loss the best.  I chose not to take any time off from work.  Admittedly, the schedule was fairly full and we're still a little low on fully trained staff.  I also thought that the distraction would help.  When I'm at work, I'm surrounded by the millions of things that remind me of him.  I'm not in a place where his absence is constantly and painfully being driven home.  I only told a couple people and I asked not to talk about it.  I work with really great people who are very understanding of what my dogs mean to me.  They would have been respectful of my need for space regardless, but talking about it made it real.  And pretending that he was still at home waiting for me was just easier.

Once I was home, I kept myself constantly busy with house work, yard work and Miley.  Now I needed to make sure that she had play dates.  I was her sole source of entertainment and exercise.  When I wasn't focusing on that, I could put comedy shows on.  Funny shows were distracting in a way that wouldn't allow me to linger.  Basically, I was finding ways to not let myself grieve and accept the loss of Heffner.  While I don't think there is necessarily a right way to grieve, I also think that trying to pretend it didn't happen or ignore it, doesn't help.

After about a week of trying to ignore it, I was getting hit really hard when I would acknowledge it.  His loss was/is crippling at those moments.  Each dog means so many different things to us.  Heffner and Bess have both been staples in my life for so long that while I understood they wouldn't be there forever, it was easy to get lulled into the sense that a time without them was so far in the future that it wasn't worth thinking about.  They saw me through my divorce and all the scary and happy life changes that came with that.  They were my sources of unconditional love whenever I needed it.  They were my rocks.  I have joked many times that Heffner was my chaperon.  How he was always looking out for me and protecting me.  It was a funny joke, but it was also true.  I felt so incredibly safe with him around.  He has proved himself in a couple of situations that I don't think would have ended well for me if I didn't have him there.  He gave me a sense of safety and security that also gave me a freedom that I didn't even realize.  Until now.

I miss him so much.  He was my love.  My protector.  And this amazing presence in my life.  I am trying to figure out how to deal with the fact that he isn't just sleeping on the couch waiting for me to do something.  Or curled up on the bed next to my bed while I sleep.  Or waiting to roo in my face when I come home from work.  This is me figuring out how to grieve for him,

I am incredibly thankful that I have Miley.  She loves the cuddles when I need them.  She's happy and loving.  She's sassy and hilarious.  She keeps this house from feeling empty.  She's just generally the little love that I need her to be, especially right now.

I do have more happy posts forthcoming, but I needed to get this one out.  I felt the need to post this and acknowledge the two amazing beings that I have been lucky enough to have in my life.

Monday, May 18, 2015


I wish I didn't have to write this update.  Ultimately, I wish I NEVER had to write this update.  On May 2, Heffner passed away.  This is probably as public as I will go with this.  The further I get from that day, the more it seems to hurt.  I cannot find the words to do justice to how much I love him or how much he meant to me.  So I won't even try.  Right now, I just want my dog back.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

H and M - March and April 2015

Here we go again, work and life got busy and things have finally slowed down so that I have some time to get caught up.  It's actually to a point now where I almost don't know what to do with myself when I have a weekend where I don't have to schedule everything out so that I can fit it all in!  Then I remember all the little tasks that I've been neglecting because they're of lower importance and that momentary thought is gone.

While the east coast got thoroughly hammered by winter this year, we've had a pretty mild winter on the west coast.  In fact, we've had some very unseasonably warm and gorgeous days.  So nice that we had to take advantage of them and soak up some vitamin D in the back yard.  Heffner knows to really savor these moments. ;)  Miley occupies herself by running around the yard like a crazy girl with spring fever.  And I started doing some yard work.  Naturally, with a little help.....

When I first moved into this house almost three years ago, there were four saplings in the back yard.  Heffner very systematically went down the line and peed on them so frequently that they eventually died.  All four of them.  Once the saplings were dead, he then saw to the pruning of the no longer useful items himself.  You know, because he's considerate and likes to help me out. ;) I wasn't particularly attached to the trees, so I wasn't really bothered.  And after all, the whole point of me having a back yard is for the dogs' use, so eh, no biggie.  My dad has since planted an ornamental tree that he put a security boundary of posts and wire around so that Heffner's marking would not over saturate the tree.  My dad's a thinker. ;)

About mid March, Miley and I headed up near Tacoma, WA to volunteer at the Dane Outreach Education Day!  I've done this in the past with Bess and I was happy to do it again with Miley!  Our shtick is the core strengthening training that we've been doing.  Miley hasn't had nearly the time under her belt training on the equipment, but she was able to demo the general exercises well enough.  For all the pictures of Miley at the event you'll have to go to her Facebook page where I shared the pictures taken by photographer Stacie Knudtsen.  Miley had been progressing so well at home with her training, that I was a little surprised when we got to the facility and she was so easily distracted.  This is a dog who thrives on interaction with me.  I initially chalked it up to her age and the fact that we don't work on these exercises outside of the house or with other distractions going on.  She did a pretty good job, but not quite what I had expected out of her.  Within a few days, I realized what was really going on.  Miley came into season for the first time.  Ohhhhhhhhhhh!

It suddenly made so much more sense!  Being easily distracted, general lack of focus and a girl who had a general lack of "brain" that I wasn't used to.  Hello hormones!  As with pretty much everything Miley, her first heat was really pretty easy.  She had a lack of focus and was a little more emotional, but otherwise she was still pretty good.  I could even leave her loose in the house over night and she'd leave her boxers on!  Heffner was mildly interested in her, but nothing over the top.  And Miley thankfully wasn't a hussy, so I didn't have to separate the dogs during this time like I had to with Heffner and Bess once Bess got to the point where she wouldn't stop throwing her butt up in his face.  Who knows, maybe Miley will get that bad in subsequent heats.  Maybe this one is just an innocent one.

Towards the end of March, and while Miley was in season, I had her entered in a dog show.  No points for her, though she is starting to mature and come into herself more.  I did learn what her limit is on showing.  There was a double specialty on Friday and by the second show, she had really had it with standing still and focusing on what I wanted her to.  She was still well behaved, but she was antsy and getting easily bored.  Overall, she handled it well and as always, I was pleased with her.  We also had a guest at the time.  A friend of mine's bitch had also come into season and her handler had a bunch of boys with her for the show.  Nothing drives intact boy dogs crazy quite like a close by bitch in season!  She asked if her girl could stay with me for the weekend of the show and I accepted.  Phoebe was the easiest guest that we have ever had!  So well behaved!  Heffner initially wasn't thrilled, but he got over that.  Miley also turned one year old on the very last day of March!!  My baby girl is really growing up!

Going into April we were seeing some absolutely gorgeous days!  The dogs and I were having serious spring fever and were getting out hiking as much as we could.  And with the longer day light hours, we got to start doing week day light hikes!!

Admittedly, with running around and trying to focus on spending quality time with the dogs, I wasn't taking as many pictures.  I took a bunch of pictures that were just for me and I am jealously hoarding them.  But I do have a bunch of pictures to share already from the month of May.  As well as some updating that needs to be done.  As always, I hope that everyone out there is doing well and thanks for hanging in there with this sporadic blogger.