Monday, March 17, 2014

the holistic dog.

I started using doTerra essential oils about a month ago to help ease the symptoms of fibromyalgia and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). Both illnesses can be hard to get under control, and sleep issues are not only a symptom but also a perpetuating cause of flares.

Because of this, I first dipped my toes into the doTerra waters by purchasing lavender and a blend called Serenity. Before bed each night, I apply Serenity to the bottoms of my feet (the oils are more quickly absorbed into the bloodstream that way) and lavender to my neck and wrists.

This stuff works, y'all. But that's a different story for a different time (email me if you are interested in hearing more).

After a few nights, I noticed that, every time I opened the bottle of lavender, Claire's eyes would pop right open and her tail would start wagging. Every time. So, I began putting some lavender on her chest and behind her ears before putting her to bed. Since I started using it on her, I've noticed that she has a much easier time relaxing and falls asleep more quickly.

I started doing some research, and it turns out that you can use a number of oils on dogs for so many different things. Claire had another bout of acute pancreatitis last week and I rubbed marjoram and lemon on her tummy and between her paw pads to help with the pain. Lemongrass and peppermint combined makes a great insect repellent, as does the Purify blend. The combination of lemon, peppermint, and lavender provide great allergy relief (and I'll be starting both of us on this regimen early next week). Clary Sage treats dry skin. Digest Zen treats nausea and vomiting. Frankincense and lavender/Serenity calm stressed out dogs. THE OPTIONS ARE ENDLESS!!

I'm really excited about this discovery of doTerra, and it's worked so well for me and Claire that I'm now a Wellness Advocate for them -- after only a few weeks of being introduced to their products. If you have any questions about what essential oils might work for you and/or your dog, let me know and I'm happy to help! It's worth a try, right?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

why TGIF means "thank God it's february"...

I did not intend to disappear for the entire month of January. But sometimes life gets hard and it takes everything you've got to trudge through one more day.

That's how it was for me. And I'm so glad that the month is OVER!!

In addition to my health issues continuing to beat me down, I also found out - just a few days after Christmas - that Claire had a malignant tumor on her paw. She had surgery during the first week of January to remove it, and I was supposed to hear the pathology results a few days later, but the lab was closed for the holidays. During her recovery, she managed to rip her stitches out, despite wearing the Cone of Shame while I was at work. I came home and found little bits of her cast all over the house before realizing the bigger issue: ripping the stitches out had allowed the wound to gape open, exposing her bone. I rushed her to the hospital immediately and she underwent a second surgery to debride, flush, and pack the wound before stitching it up again. I didn't let her out of my sight for the next 12 days to give it time to heal. Of course, on Day 13, when I went into the office, I came home to find that she had managed to rip out the stitches again despite wearing TWO Cones of Shame at the same time. We rushed back to the vet, but thankfully the surgical site had healed enough where she didn't need to undergo a third surgery. By that point, the only open part was the top layer of skin, so that healed after a week of hydrotherapy and some good bandaging by yours truly.

Tough recovery, I'm telling you!

Additionally, I didn't get the pathology results back until just a week ago - exactly one month after the tumor was removed. Thankfully, they managed to get all of it and she does not need to undergo radiation or chemotherapy. I don't think I realized just how much the What Ifs were worrying me; when I heard the results, I literally felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders.

After all that, however, Princess Claire has a paw that is as good as new! The beginning of this week was a bit stressful for her as we got back into our normal routine. After being with her almost 24/7 for a month, she had a little separation anxiety for the first few days that she was left alone. She seems to be feeling a bit more confident now, but realistically, it may take a little longer for her to feel 100% while I'm at work.

My intent over the next few months is to get back to blogging on a regular basis. Of course, this all depends on how I'm feeling physically, but I'm finally feeling well enough to start doing other things rather than just work and sleep! Good thing that Claire is a snugglebug. I swear, even as I was taking care of her over the past month, she still managed to take care of me.

What a good dog :)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

merry merry christmas!

Despite the fact that Claire was less than enthused about posing for this picture, I can assure you that she is quite excited about Christmas!

May your days be merry and bright, friends! See you in the new year!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

happiness is...

...a sweet puppy playing on the beach!

We've been back in Nashville for a month and I'm JUST getting around to sharing this?! What's up with that?! Well, here it is: the video of Claire's first time at the beach back in August! Love seeing this girl so happy!

I apologize for the poor video quality. Blame the iPhone 4.


Friday, September 20, 2013

these are my confessions.

My sister sent me a link to this yesterday - the signs that you treat your dog better than you treat yourself. If you haven't seen it yet, you MUST check it out because the pictures are awesome. Here's what I have to say about the whole thing:

  1. You shiver half the night because you let them steal all the blankets. Truth. I also sleep curled up in a ball because she tends to sprawl out in the middle of the bed.
  2. They have their own personal tablet to watch animal shows on. Um, no, that would be weird. She uses the TV in our bedroom so she can get comfy and relax. Also, Animal Planet has some shows that are not age-appropriate for Claire, so she tends to watch The Food Network.
  3. More people show up to their birthday party than to yours.  Again, truth. People and dogs. The neighborhood pups aren't willing to come to mine...
  4. You take your job super seriously but you never get mad when they slack off at theirs. Yes. I mean, how can you get mad at that sweet little face?!
  5. You sing them lullabies to help them get to sleep... every night. Well, I sing along with the Spotify playlist that I made for her. She finds The Civil Wars very soothing.
  6. You pay top dollar for their groomer but you haven't been to a hairdresser in ten years. She has short fur so she doesn't need a trim, but she does get "manicures" - and I haven't been to get my nails done in a really long time... Pretend you aren't looking the next time you see me.
  7. You took the time to teach them to surf, but you can barely swim. Not true; I'm a Cape Cod girl, so I love the water! Though I did take up running because it's Claire's favorite thing to do.
  8. You take the day off work to make sure they don’t overheat on the hottest day of the year. I have done this in the past. Thankfully I won't have to do this at the job I have now because I can work from home and personally make sure that Claire is comfortable with the temperature set on the AC control.
  9. You spend your life savings on emergency surgery for them and would definitely do it again. A few things about this: (a) I'm a social worker, therefore I don't make enough to have savings, and (b) I'd cash out the ol' 401K if I needed to. But praise God that she hasn't needed emergency surgery because my heart would break for her!
  10. Your significant other is convinced you love them more. I don't  have a significant other. Probably because everyone knows that nobody puts Baby in the corner. No second place for my girl!
  11. You take them to the dog park everyday after work instead of going out and having fun with human people. I did this every day for the first three years of her life - and I met some of my good friends because of it (humans, not dogs). Now she tends to have more low-key afternoons since she's a mature 4-year-old.
  12. You sleep on the floor with them when they're not feeling well. I have done this on the few occasions that Claire was too sick to come to bed. When she had pancreatitis, she couldn't get off the couch one night, so she slept there and I slept on the floor next to her.
  13. You spend more money on toys for them than your parents spent on you as a child. Hahaha! When we were home on Cape Cod, even my mother commented on the endless supply of toys!
  14. You spent more time stressing out about their doggy wedding to the neighbor’s dog than your own. Not applicable, people! Besides, the neighbor's dog hates Claire. And Claire's many boyfriends would be jealous...

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

human obedience class [a shared post]

"Welcome to human obedience class,the class will meet every Tuesday night for four weeks,
do not bring humans who do not like other humans,
or cannot communicate in a civil way, this means
no Congressmen, people of the left or right, bankers,
tech support or customer service reps or
radio or TV talk show hosts.
We will teach basic obedience:
come when called, stay when told, feed when commanded.
The class will instruct you on  basic obedience:
how to get humans to stop
when you want to sniff something, pee on a bush, growl at a squirrel
or a cat, walk in a crooked line, throw a ball when looked in the eye
and given the command of three barks. How to make a  human take you into
bed, let you on a sofa, buy those gourmet bones.
In class two, we will learn how to maintain eye contact with humans,
triggering the "guilt response," where humans say "awww, puppy"
and offer a treat, a hug, walk or a meal.
In the third class, we shall learn to move pull humans along a path while
they curse and shout and make curious noises. We will
teach them to wait patiently while we sniff for food and sniff other dogs.
Class four is about learning to not emotionalize humans.
They are not like dogs,
they have poor instincts, are easily confused,
possess few natural hunting or survival skills,
and generally impaired senses of smell. It is impossible to train them
well if they are emotionalized, they are simple, elemental creatures,
very needy, with very short attention spans. They are not only
willing to be manipulated by dogs, they seem to love and need it.
Classes are important if you wish to live with humans.
Training is not about obedience, but communication.
We need to show them how to be safe in our world.
First, we will learn to read human body language,
how to read their posture, facial expressions, rear ends
when they move.
Humans make a wide variety of sounds, they are given to shouting,
waving their arms, making loud gutteral and whining noises,
especially when they are running after dogs, shouting commands.
They are nearly helpless when left alone, especially outside,
they have no instincts to speak of, speak too much and
need exercise several times a day.
Among the lesson topics: how to communicate with rescue humans
who have been abused – most humans seem to be – how to choose a human.
We all love humans here, and want to help them.
We believe the only way to choose a human is, in fact, to rescue one,
there are so many of them in desperate
need of a dog, it is almost immoral to choose a happy and healthy one.
Be prompt, bring leashes and some treats for training – humans call them donuts."

For more incredible writing, visit Jon Katz at Bedlam Farm. His books are wonderful, as well!

Monday, August 26, 2013

a little of this and a little of that.

First off, I apologize that I don't have any pictures to share with you all from the past week. As you may have read/seen on the Facebook page, Claire injured her paw and therefore spent a few days gazing longingly outside and sighing with complete boredom. Just as I was about to take her to the vet, though, she bounced back and now it's like that paw is as good as new!

We've continued working on training and Claire is making excellent progress on the reactivity front. I know that it will take a lot of time, consistency, and positive reinforcement, but I'm really happy with how she's been doing since our session with Debbie. We BOTH learned a lot and are working very hard each day (I'll post more about our training session a little later for those who are interested). We're also working on come when called, which somewhere along the way became come when you're done exploring. This is a tough command for Claire, who is a hunter by nature and thus easily distracted by anything that moves. And when her options are (1) listen to me, obey, and get a liver treat, or (2) chase the rabbit and either outrun it and catch it or give it a heart attack and catch it, I usually come in second place. But hey, I'm used to taking on challenges, so we'll keep working at it!

An interesting shift in the dynamics around here is that my mom has been referring to Claire as her dog. She's cute, isn't she?! She even came home this afternoon with some raw beef marrow bones that she picked up while running errands. Claire's love languages are words of affirmation and receiving gifts of bones, so she was ecstatic and sat by the freezer door sniffing around for awhile. Mom also keeps telling me that it's going to be a long drive back to Nashville alone, since Claire will be staying up here on the Cape with her. Ha! I can counter that with, "So you're going to be redecorating by keeping the sheets on the furniture?" Aaaaand... checkmate!

My relatives are visiting the Cape this week and the place they rent is right down the street from our house. I took Claire for our usual early-morning walk/swim on the beach and then we swung by afterwards so she could say hi to everyone. We snuck her in, since dogs aren't even allowed on the premises, but of course the first thing she did was go up to the bay window, put her paws on the window sill, and look out over the pool area. Way to be inconspicuous, Claire! On another note, can I just mention how soft Claire's fur has been because of the salt water? She might smell like seaweed, but her coat looks beautiful and feels like down feathers!

I'll try to be better about taking pictures this week, and in the meantime, I hope you all are enjoying the last few weeks of summer!