Friday, June 6, 2014

a love letter to claire.

Dear Claire,

It's been five years since I first went to the Nashville Humane Society and found you. Well, since you found me, really. You're the first friend I made in this city, and my life here (and in general) would be so different if we never met. Where did the past five years go?! We've been through a lot together during that time, both good times and bad. And while it's so wonderful to enjoy those good times together, I think it's even more of a blessing that you've been able to help me so much through the darker days. A stranger once told me that you're my guardian angel, and I have to say: I believe it!

My favorite memory over the past five years is from last summer when we were back home. We got up really early and went down to the beach before the lifeguards showed up. You'd never been to the ocean before and, at first, you were a little afraid of the waves. Soon enough, you were running as fast as you could up the dunes and then back down past me to jump into the water. I remember that there was a landscaping crew hanging out in the parking lot, having breakfast before starting their day, and they came over just to watch you. When you were done running in circles (showing off again!), you came over, covered in seaweed and sand, and jumped all over them. One of the guys said he'd never seen a happier dog.

Not a day goes by where I'm not laughing at something you've done. You are silly and mischievous and curious and just so smart! You love to show off for people - whether there's something in it for you or not. You love having your tummy rubbed and you get annoyed if there are people nearby who aren't doing so. You are the best squirrel/rabbit/cat hunter around, and I dread the day that you bring one back to me (so please don't). You love walking the neighborhood kids to school in the morning and saying hello to everyone on our typical route. Running is one of your favorite things to do, and I love watching you zoom by with your little baby ears flapping in the wind! Chase is still your favorite dog to have play-dates with, and I've honestly never seen two dogs love each other more. You sleep the best on Grandma Sue's Pier One blanket (that she so kindly parted with on your behalf), and you never go to bed without bringing Lambie and Moosie with you. You love coming with me to run errands on Saturday mornings, mainly because the people at the stores we go to always have a special treat for you. Fetching anything except the peanut butter jar is still beneath you, no matter how many different kinds of balls or frisbees I try to entice you with. You enjoy watching the Food Network, but you're not such a fan of Animal Planet. You hate when I'm on the phone and will go to great lengths to get me to stop using it - like the time you wedged your face between my ear and the phone over and over again until I hung up from my conversation. Whenever someone comes to our house, you always think you're the reason they're there, and you bring your toys to them immediately - but just to show them, not to play with them. And there is nothing that makes you more excited than when I come home from work!

Naturally, ClaireBear, I could go on and on. But the bottom line is: I love you more than anything! You are, by far, the biggest blessing in my life. I can't imagine spending my days without you, and I certainly don't want to! You are a huge part of our family, and even though you don't get to see your relatives very often, you can rest assured that they miss you and love you dearly. I know I say it a lot, but it's only because it's true: you are the MOST loved dog in the world!!

Happy Gotcha Day, little one!

Monday, April 21, 2014


A few friends and I were talking the other day about the things that really annoy us simply because they drive our dogs CRAZY. I've found that I can't really classify these things as "pet peeves", but I also can't classify them as "people peeves"... so I've settled on just calling them Peeves. Am I missing any?
  1. Dogs in cars who bark out the window. Safety hazard for me and Claire!! She gets so irritated and gets all jumpy, and then I have to shield her from bouncing off the sidewalk into the street. Roll up your windows, people, or leave your dog at home!
  2. People in cars who bark out the window. Yup. You're an idiot. Show some respect.
  3. Small animals with tails. Squirrels. Cats. Chipmunks. Groundhogs (we saw one a few weeks ago). They should hibernate forever. Or at least exist in a wide open field so that Claire can chase them safely without me having to worry about all the traffic.
  4. All the traffic. I'm sure y'all can agree, whether you have a dog or not.
  5. An inability to climb trees. If she could, it would make #3 a lot easier. It would also be a huge help when the neighborhood kids play frisbee with her and get it stuck waaaay up in the branches.
  6. An inability to eat chocolate. I like sharing snacks with Claire. And when I make delicious things like brownies and cookies, it hurts me to see her big brown eyes staring up at me when I know that she can't have the chocolate...
  7. The depth of the PB jar. If it were short and stout like a teapot, her tongue could reach the bottom. But instead, she can only get a good half of what's left on the sides, and there's all that PB on the bottom that she just can't reach. It's such a tease.
  8. Leashes. Roaming free would be much more fun for Claire, but I just tell her that she's the one taking ME for a walk, and that I'd get lost finding our way back without her. Makes me feel better.
  9. Loud people. Calm the heck down!! Bring it from a 10 to a 2!! Claire is getting stressed out, and my ears are ringing!
  10. Lack of personal space. Claire and I hate this -- me with strange people (airplanes give me anxiety because of this), and Claire with other dogs (aka: most puppies). Back it on up and trust that yes, we can still see and hear you from an arms' length away.
There are, of course, more things that could be added to this list. Give me some time and you may see a Part 2 sooner or later. Did I miss any big ones?

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...