Some weekends are different than others

Last weekend started with the American Idol concert and ended with a 1 a.m. Sunday night visit to the emergency vet. That’s the beginning to the end without a middle. Oh, and there were police and fire trucks, too. Not an average weekend.

The American Idol concert was my daughter’s first large-scale concert. It wasn’t The Who or Springsteen or anyone great, but it wasn’t bad for karaoke.  It did convince me that America doesn’t vote for the best singers. And the show manipulates the results and finds ways to push favored singers to the end.

Oh, and Pia was robbed. How did she get voted off so early? She sounded better, looked better, and was more poised than second-place Lauren Alaina, who danced like a Disney Animatronic bear.

Being in a large crowd at the Nokia Theater also reinforced my theory that people are getting angrier these days. Two knuckleheads sitting on the isle seats next to us got bent every time someone had to leave to get food or use the restroom. Then, they didn’t want to move to let my wife and daughter back to our seats. It’s an American Idol concert you twits, not a play where if you miss one word the meaning is lost. You’re at the end of the aisle, what did you expect when you bought the seats?

I’m not good in crowds anymore.

Saturday and Sunday were filled with me spending a lot of time reading the Game of Thrones books, dinner with friends, watching Team USA lose (heartbreaking), and a faux ABBA concert Sunday night. Nothing like Swedish pop to put a smile on your face and at the same time create the contradictory feeling of queasiness that you’re about to bring up your tri-tip sandwich to the opening bars of “Dancing Queen.”

But then there was late Sunday night.

At around 10:30 p.m., I noticed four police cars outside, which made me think that shredding my jury notices for the last 20 years wasn’t such a great idea. But they didn’t come for me – yet – instead they were after one of my neighbors.

So, of course I had to watch a bunch of police officers standing around – it takes 7 to arrest one person – throwing their gum wrappers on my lawn. Then, two fire trucks showed up and the fire department ambulance. That led to my neighbor being taken away screaming, handcuffed and strapped down to the gurney.

All of that took almost two hours.

Stick an electrode on her head and activists would be breaking her out of my house.

Then I went outside with the dogs and noticed our yellow lab had a lumpy head, gross, and a swollen muzzle. A dime of blood blossomed on her head. Executive decision: Trip to the emergency vet where they gave her a steroid and Benadryl cocktail for the mystery insect bite and me a $200 enema for owning the mutt who stuck her head in the wrong plant.

My dog also received the make-over bonus of a 4-inch square shaved on her head for the oh so 70’s look of a laboratory research animal. My daughter broke into tears when she saw her in the morning, having slept through the fun during the night.

So, that was the weekend. Thanks to Game of Thrones, it’s taken me three days to finish this post. I can’t wait to finish the last book and get back to my life and blogging.

Happy summer.

Advertisements

My life of unfinished blog posts and other odds and ends

I’ve written a fair amount of unfinished blog posts lately – and I have plenty of excuses: work, more work, books, summer, dogs, and life. The good news is work is easing up this week. So, I’ll be able to read more and write more blog posts I’m unhappy with that will end up unpublished.

The ebbs and flows of blogging still amaze me. Sometimes the posts come fast and furious day after day. And then there are the lulls and the long walks through the desert looking for anything to write about. I wonder if the see-saw nature is due to my OCD or just part of blogging. Or both?

******

Cali lost her ovaries and uterus today. I watched spaying and neutering procedures on youtube so I would know exactly what happened. Once again the female of the species draws the short straw with a more complicated procedure. I could probably neuter a dog in a clutch if I had to – cut, squeeze, stretch, snip, repeat steps 2 -4, stitch. Looks pretty straightforward in the video. The spaying procedure? Not so easy. It’s more invasive and complicated. It’s no wonder my wife and daughter got down on the kitchen floor with Cali when we brought her home. Amazons unite and sympathize.

******

The clock runs until it doesn't (Creative Commons)

We went to our friends’ house  for a 4th of July party. We’ve gone to the same party over the years since our daughter was light enough to hold for longer than a minute. Yesterday, she went with blue hair (washable dye) and it made me think of the different little girl she’s been at the same 4th of July party over the years. From baby to 9-year-old in a breath. And she’ll be 18 by by the time I breathe out. Each year she participates and interacts more in the conversations and holds her own. But I can’t help but feel sad that her childhood is so short and there is nothing I can do about it. Tick tock.

Stay young.

The marshmallow thief and other snippets from life

I was standing in the living room this week when Cali ran out of the kitchen with a large bag of marshmallows in her mouth. My wife had left a cabinet open and opportunity presented itself. I felt like a shortstop fielding a 37-pound ground ball. I saved the run from scoring.

The innocent face of the thief

It turns out she’s quite the puppy thief, this one. Anything she can put in her mouth goes in her mouth. But there’s some mischief mixed in.

My daughter was on the floor drawing and Cali ran into the kitchen, grabbed the bag of markers and ran out, which irritated my daughter, who didn’t see the humor in it. Especially after the 5th time Cali tried it.

Cali has become quite the fun pup, and our “Socialize California” mission is paying off. (Does that make us Socialists?) She’s much more confident now and sounds and barking dogs don’t phase her as much. She’s doing great in puppy classes. We feel proud of the work we’ve done with her. Now we just have to cure her of her thieving ways.

****

Cali got sick this week. Diarrhea sick. I got sick at the same time – my own stomach issues. Coincidence? After a chicken and rice diet (Cali), and Pop Tarts and Popsicles (me), I got better but Cali didn’t. So it was to the vet for a sample from her back end, which the vet staff gave us some hell about, as they wondered why were testing her if she was not showing any other signs of illness, and she had had the stool test a month ago.

Ah, summer

Because we’ve owned dogs our entire lives and something is not right, okay? Shut up and take our money.

The vet’s office called the next day to tell us the test was negative. What?

We were happy it was, but confused. So, I called the vet just to see what else it might be. When he called me back, he said the second test was positive for giardia. Vindication for us, antibiotics for Cali.

****

I had a clinic appointment this week. My PFTs were up, but not back to the pre “flu from hell” levels. I felt happy and sad. Happy they’re better, but sad I may not get back that lung function. I also need sinus surgery. We’ll plan it the next time I go into the hospital. It’s like having your car repaired – making a trip in just to fix the door handle is a pain. I’ll wait until I’m due for a major service to repair everything.

****

Work has been nuts lately. So, I’ve felt like reading more than writing. I just finished Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen, which took me a while to get into but was excellent in the end. But I like Franzen’s other book The Corrections better. I have three or four unread books on my Kindle left to go this summer, though “summer” may be too kind of a word to describe this season, as it’s been warmer in Alaska than here in L.A. I’m writing this while wearing a parka and using icicles and flavoring to make homemade Popsicles.

Stay warm.

The dog days of summer start early for us

It’s not August, or summer yet, but our dog days (and nights) are here. We spend a lot of time playing with, talking about, watching, and walking the dogs. Our dogs consume our days. And it’s pretty darn nice and stress-reducing – most of the time.

Yellow Labrador on a hammock

We’re going to dog training classes. We have Nylabones in most rooms of our house, which, by the way, make for a heart-racing experience when you step on one on a wood floor. Like stepping on an ice cube. Surprise, you almost broke your backside because of a plastic dog bone.

We continually summon each other to see something new the pup is doing: “She’s yawning. Come look everybody. Bring the video camera.” 

And I’m tired everyday.

Cali has been doing great sleeping in her kennel through the night. But when the sun comes up, she comes up. I wake up on my dog couch with our yellow lab sleeping on my legs and two little brown eyes staring at me from the kennel. Out Cali goes to the backyard, sky barely awake itself. Then I try to go back to sleep for an hour. I try.

It’s amazing how important that last hour of sleep is to staying awake the rest of the day. No wonder I haven’t been blogging. I’m exhausted at night.

Cali is a bit of a conundrum. She’s shy with new people and dogs, but in the house her confidence grows each day and she’s become quite the playful pup. The trainer said she’ll become the dominant dog to our older dog. My wife and I were skeptical until this morning.

I walked into the kitchen while my wife was trying to explain a “neverbeforeseenact” of dog behavior – humping – to my daughter. But without using the word “humping.” As in, “Cali is humping the living daylights out of Luna.” Or, “humped,” as in, “Luna is being humped by Cali.” It was like watching a game of Password where you can’t say the word and have to dance around it.

Our unpredictable troublemaker

“So, you mean she’s riding her, Mommy?” Clever Mommy. Glad I missed the beginning of this conversation.

“Yes,” my wife said.

“She’s riding her like a cowgirl,” my daughter added.

Apply Parental Strategy #101-294-44B: Don’t say a word. Don’t laugh. Zip it. Yawn. Act like nothing important is happening. Continue with your daily tasks. 

And we did. And it worked.

My wife and I gave each other knowing looks of “that was close and awkward.”

I’m not looking forward to the day when my daughter comes home from school and tells us the more accurate word. It’s a shame kids and puppies have to grow up. They both peak at their maximum cuteness level when they’re young. At least dogs become less work when they get older. 9 year-old girls? Clearly, the opposite.

Bad owner. Bad owner.

After 13 days of living in our house, Cali is doing better. She’s still shy in certain situations, like the gardeners making noise, but in other situations, she is more confident. We can walk her around the block now without burning through a pack of dog treats, and she’s less fearful of barking dogs and other outside noises. Or, at least she can walk away from them, tail down, instead of planting herself.

Best of friends

Clearly, the only thing separating Cali from Labrador greatness and more confidence is me.

Example: We walked her to the pet store tonight to socialize her. All went well and she was doing great. Then, as we stood there debating whether to buy the $5 or $3 clicker, a man with a large Malamute came up to us.

“He’s half wolf,” he said.

“Is he friendly?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

My wife held our yellow lab and she let her sniff the Malamute. The man made some comment about the dog not being trained. Cali put her nose over Luna’s body to sniff the dog. Bold little pup. Good sign. I noticed the owner held the leash tight, transmitting tension to the dog.

Now here’s why I should wear a t-shirt with “I’m an idiot” on it when I’m out in public.

Giant wolf dog. Strike one. Untrained giant wolf dog. Strike two. Man holding leash of giant wolf dog tightly. Strike three.

A full moon moved from behind the clouds at that moment or the wolf dog became jealous of the Disney-happiness of our two labs because it growled and snapped. Wolf-dog’s owner must have expected this because he reeled him in with both hands, fast, like a swordfish on the line.

He apologized and I ignored him, as I was irritated.

Friendly, my ass.

I have no doubt the man will wake up one morning with one leg missing and wolf dog grinding away on his femur.

So, Cali freaked, of course. And I felt like an idiot, a common feeling. But a she seemed to recover quickly. We won’t know how much impact it had until the next time she meets a new dog. We signed her up for puppy classes with my daughter, which will help socialize her with other dogs, as long as they’re not part werewolf.

So, as of today, the dream of owning two Labradors has been realized and is as fantastic as I thought it would be. It feels good to be lucky some days, even when it’s accompanied by stupidity.

Puppy kisses are fleeting

Each hospitalization forces me to ramp up the fun and happy moments when I’m not in captivity. The clock is ticking. And I’m doing my best to fill our days with activities and concerts and you name it. If it sounds fun, we do it. I cracked open the piggy bank and put the cash collecting almost zero interest to good use.

And our most recent purchase was our best. We are now proud owners of a black lab puppy named California, or Cali for short. Or Cali California for long.

Play, play

We wanted to adopt a mutt, but we needed a dog this time we knew would be predictable, fit in well, and make life easy on my wife when I’m in the hospital. And I’ve wanted another black lab for a long time. So, I put away the guilt of not adopting, and the jealousy of not having cool, hip dogs like Dr. Nanos and Jessica’s, and found a local Labrador breeder.

As I mentioned in the previous post, my wife and I wanted an older dog to fit in immediately with limited work. My daughter wanted a puppy. So the universe guided us to a 15-week-old black lab – older with a larger bladder and less nipping. And she is perfect for us. A little on the shy side, but mellow, curious, well-socialized, and subservient to our yellow lab.

We feel so lucky to own two Labrador retrievers; a dream fulfilled.

The arrival of the pup this weekend gave us many laughs and “ah” moments and reminded me why I put up with daily treatments, IVs, hemoptysis and the hellish moments and stress of CF to gain another day.

Because when that day is like the one we had when we brought the puppy home, and the puppy kisses we got, and the smiles on our faces, and the fun of buying pet supplies and dreaming about the future of the new dog, and the sheer joy of living in a moment where nothing stressful exists, well, it makes the experience of cystic fibrosis bearable.

I thank the universe for dogs.

Letting the dog come to us

The big discussion topic at our house has been the new dog. What to get? When to get it? Adopt or buy? How old? Puppy or 1-year-old?

I was big on adoption, and still am, but it hit me this week that this will the last dog I own. The dog will most likely outlive me. My wife and daughter will be the ones to take care of it. And, I hope, it will take care of them.

Salt and pepper shedding. Can't wear black or white clothing.

There is one dog I dream of having more than any other: A black Labrador. Yes, not very unique as a member of the most popular breed in the US, but it’s the dog I grew up with and wanted five years ago before my wife and daughter used mind control and convinced me to get a yellow lab. I’m glad they did because our yellow lab is a honey.

But black labs are the best. They were the original color and there’s something special about them.

I’ve considered other dogs. A Bernese Mountain Dog would be a close second, maybe first if they lived longer, which they don’t. 8 to 10 years is old. And a German Shepherd would be a strong third, or tied for second, but my wife doesn’t want to worry about an aggressive dog.

So, I’m waiting for the universe to deliver our dog. Will it be a mutt from the rescue society? Will it be a black lab? Or will it be Clifford the Big Red Dog?

And though my daughter wants a puppy, it’s too much work for the first two months. I have a lot of paying work to get finished – too much to raise a pup. I would like an older dog, around 1, which could seamlessly join our pack.

We’ll see. It could happen this weekend. It could happen in three months. Who knows? I don’t. I’m going with the flow and waiting for signs – or phone calls. Either one works

.