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Isa's Story

September 21st, 2017

Mama Bear gets Riled Up

Posted by teri in Uncategorized    

If it’s not one neighbor, it’s the other …

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the neighbor on the other side has now turned on “us” – complaining about Roxy’s barking. And I can’t entirely blame him. Arguably I’ve not been maintaining as much control over her as I should. Too busy doing things like washing dishes and clothes and cooking. Silly, unimportant things. This is a long post – I apologize. I need to vent. But there are pictures at the end if you care to persevere.

Maybe if he hadn’t been quite as … not sure of the adjective. Well, I have thought of several but none are fit to print. A spectacular exemplar of an entitled white male (my apologies, if any of you reading this fit that description, exceptions to the rule all of you). He said he was done talking to me and would go to the HOA if I didn’t keep her quiet and/or inside and then to the city after that. At one point he told me that if the city takes her away (for barking), they will probably put her down. I told him she was terrified and he contradicted me, said she was aggressive. Undoubtedly, he knows Roxy better than I do (sarcasm font). He can train a dog in three months. What is my problem that I’ve not gotten her trained in three months? But, he admits she was probably/possibly abused in her previous home. (Anyone else see a potential discrepancy in training time between a “normal” dog versus an “abused” dog?) He went on for quite a while, stating a variety of assumptions about Roxy and me on a number of topics. He also made quite a point about his fear of being bitten (again pointing out that if she bites someone, the city will put her down), particularly his hands. So … maybe he should not stick his fingers through the cracks of the fence into Roxy’s yard? My “favorite” quote: “I gave her a treat and she still doesn’t like me!” A treat? And he’s trying to bribe her through the fence – per our trainer a giant no-no. Funny how a superb trainer like him doesn’t know that’s a no-no. Nor, evidently, is he aware that yelling at a barking dog does anything but encourage them.

Probably the initial impetus for him being done with us: he came over last week with some leftover steak to try and make friends with Roxy. I’d just gotten home and he didn’t give me enough time to get her harness on or do any of the other potentially helpful things the trainer has taught us for visitors. She barks and lungs at him, like she does with everyone that comes to the house (sigh), and choking because I could only hold her by the collar. I finally grabbed her around her chest – OMD, her heart was about to beat out of her chest! It broke my heart! I did all the calming techniques the trainer has taught me and he gave her the steak. She calmed down eventually, leaning 90% of her weight on me, and was definitely not happy.

The secondary impetus was likely him being awakened Saturday morning while trying to sleep (10:00 am). Yes, she was being noisy. I admit it. He, of course, does the sensible thing and shouts at her from an upstairs window – remarkably helpful. As soon as I heard his voice, I went out and grabbed her. He harangued me for a while, very angry. Oddly, Roxy was silent from the moment I grabbed her. When he finished, I went inside and had a meltdown for 15-20 minutes and then went out back with the power tools. That had been the plan before our interaction but, because I am evil, I was so very happy I was being noisy. In fact, I am so evil, I am going to find out what time, per the city, that I’m allowed to make noise on Saturday morning, and I will start using the loudest and as many power tools as I possibly can at the stroke of whatever o’clock is kosher. Evil, I tell you.

After all this, I had a long talk with our trainer on Monday – she was so awesome. Talked me down, gave me a few additional suggestions among which was to write him a letter and tell him to (1) ignore Roxy, don’t try to make friends – it’s up to her if she wants to be friends, and (2) mind his own business. I think I love her.

I also started to give her CannaCompanion. We’re only a week in but maybe, just maybe, it’s helping. Oh, and y’all will like this story. This product is our second go-round. I bought another jar of (different) stuff a couple of weeks ago. I gave her one after dinner and I went to bed more or less on time. I woke up in the middle of the night when I rolled over into a giant, cold, wet spot, clearly pee. Spent some time wracking my brain trying to figure out what I’d done that pissed either Roxy or Wallee off so badly. Finally, I fell back to sleep. When I came downstairs the next morning, I found the jar on the kitchen floor completely empty (29 capsules). She had also peed on the couch in her stupor. She was still glazed and mildly uncoordinated but was back to normal by the time I got home that evening. My dog, the stoner!

Also, as she’s gained confidence, the destruction has escalated. I refuse to take inventory of all that has fallen to her puppyhood but I’ll leave you with this example:

Clean living rooms are highly overrated!

Our training is progressing and I am getting educated in how to take care of my hyper-sensitive dog. Our leash issues continue: mostly she drags me along behind her. And obviously if someone comes to/near the house, her threat of eating such brave souls is utterly sincere.

Now if someone has a suggestion for convincing the Roxinator that she should not take the stairs three and four at a time, up and down, I would love to hear it. I cringe every time (and it is every time) knowing how hard it is on her back and how cumulative these things are. Suggestions would preferably be something other than to to put her on a leash – we would simply end up in a heap at the foot of the stairs. Sub optimum.

I am acutely aware of being MIA from the site for most of the summer. Some is that they have been making me work at work (the nerve!). But it’s been hard for me to be here. I can’t contribute any helpful information or insight to the newbies. Arguably, the Roxinator may contribute some entertainment value. And I do miss all of you.

And I spent a good-sized chunk of the summer missing Isa horribly, daily. I understand it’s the way of things not that it makes it any easier. It has contributed to (or caused?) the brain fog I’ve been dealing with for seeming forever. Ran into Isa’s elbow protection for the wound that never healed stuffed in a drawer. I finally built the thing and we never used it or fine-tuned it (suffering from both fit and technical issues). The night I tried it on her the first time was the night she started limping with the secondary OSA lesion – the beginning of the end. Haunted all over again by the mental image of her body in the vet’s truck, one ear fallen over and up, so still. And, on a happier note, a bunch of memories of her happy goof self. So it goes – everyone’s story.

Oh and after all the hoop-de-do with the neighbor, Isa sent me a beautiful white feather. It’s tucked into a picture frame on my desk with the first one she sent.

Okay, moving on now to what I know you all are waiting for – pictures.

Compare and contrast:

Surveying the Kingdom

Now: different dog, different cat, different house/window, same picture(ish):

The windowsill is a “safe zone” for Wallee – Roxy knows it’s nose and paws off, at least she knows it most of the time. There is another window sill available, out of Roxy’s reach, but Wallee seems to prefer this one – go figure. Yes there are throw rugs – you don’t have to be a tripawd to have zero traction on hardwood floors, particularly when Miss Long Legs travels at the speeds she does.

Also evidence of their improved relationship:

I love that picture. And in case anyone is concerned about Wallee’s stress level:

And I leave you with:

Our first selfie!



July 10th, 2017


Posted by teri in Uncategorized    

And I’m a sap – but we all knew that.

Isa’s “gotcha” day was June 7 – it would have been ten years together. I was more than a little distracted from that by getting Roxy on June 8. Coincidence?

Isa was diagnosed July 1, 2016. July 4th was horrible – for both of us. She never liked loud noises and of course fireworks were second only to thunderstorms directly overhead. Maybe it was the tramadol that made the noise so much worse for her but she spent the evening in the back of the closet, shaking. So that was all I could think about this July 4th. That and realize the neighborhood was quieter this year and Roxy didn’t so much as bat an eyelash.

And Wednesday (12th) would have been her one year ampuversary. Now, in hindsight, the entire roller coaster from diagnosis until she went to the Bridge feels like time spent in another dimension. I think it’s safe to say I was far from rational at any point, ever.

Yes, Roxy is a blessing (most of the time anyway) and has helped heal my heart a great deal. But right this second, my heart is breaking all over again. So sharing here where I know it’s understood. This piece of sh*& disease is so, so grossly unfair.

All that said, a couple of pictures for you:

Surveying the Kingdom

The cat is Rodney, a tom who’s been at the Bridge for a couple of years now. He fine-tuned Isa’s cat behavior training. I have had this picture on my bedside table since it was taken four or so years ago.

and this one I think I told at least Sally about at the Pawty of the Century:

Still cracks me up, and yes, Rodney again. He did eventually forgive me for bringing her home.

Thanks for listening…


UPDATE: Look what Isa sent me last night! The Handbook on Be More Dog! I first saw the book in the vet’s waiting room at some point in this journey. Loved it and put it on my Amazon wish list where it has been ever since. So last night, feeling sad and sorry for myself, I stopped at my favorite mega-sized thrift store. When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping, right? I don’t always look at the books but I did last night. And there it was – for a whopping $1.29! I read it last night with Roxy in my lap (partially, she doesn’t fit all the way). I’m still sad, and will probably continue to be so, but I feel a little less broken. It has to take some work to send a book from the Bridge! But we knew my girl has special skills.



June 10th, 2017

Well, I’ve done it now.

Posted by teri in Uncategorized    

Roxy – look at those legs!

Her name is Roxy and it seems to suit her. Still, I reserve the right to change it at some later date. She’s eighteen months old but is currently too freaked out to be much of a puppy. We have a long, long road ahead of us.

I found her on Craigslist, a human’s sad story – her mom’s brother was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and she’s been working double shifts to help with bills and taking care of her brother. So Roxy has been getting zero attention, essentially a yard dog. Kudos to her mom for knowing Roxy deserves more and better. And it broke her heart (and mine on her behalf – I can’t even imagine) when I drove off with Roxy.

As reported, Roxy’s mom is part Great Pyrenees, Anatolian shepherd, German shepherd and some lab. Dad was a traveling man so zero information on him. That tail of hers – I have no idea. Certainly nothing in her mom’s makeup. When up, it curls completely back on itself, a complete tight circle.

I could tell meeting them in the Walmart parking lot that Roxy was not on board with this idea. It took trickery to get her into my car. Maybe I should have bailed on the whole thing. I certainly think such thoughts when I’m being growled and barked at in my own home. But there were an awful lot of signs in the week preceding meeting Roxy. The hummingbird that sat in a tree  in my backyard watching me all last weekend, the butterfly that swooped down almost whacking me in the face, tons of dogs in the park during lunch. I asked Isa to whisper in Roxy’s ear so Roxy could give me a strong yea or nay when we first met. I wouldn’t say I got a definitive answer from Roxy that night about her and me but I did get a strong answer that Roxy might be better off in a new home.

We’re 36 hours in now and she will occasionally come out of her self-designated safe zone (pictured above). I think she finally got some sleep last night which can only help. I bought some calming treats (with hemp – oh hemp, by any other name!) and they seem to be helping.

She’s reportedly good with cats and loved her previous cat. Wallee made a loud and unmistakable statement when we first walked in. Five minutes later walked up to Roxy (on leash), sniffed and did the kitty arch/rub. Roxy sniffed and didn’t move. I think there will be a beautiful friendship there eventually. Inchallah.

I have no clue how she is with other dogs. Eventually I will take her to day care, that will only help, but it’s way, way too soon for that. She seems to like people but is shy and a little fearful, then warms up quickly. We can work with that.

It’s interesting and odd, her conflicting behaviors. She will let me pet her for long stretches of time, without relaxing the tiniest bit. If I stop, she asks for more, even giving kisses. Most of this post has been typed one handed so I can continue with skirtches. But if I approach her in her safe zone, I get standard issue low warning growl. I’m not an idiot – for the most part I have something yummy in my hand which changes her mind immediately. Might be a puppy issue but she seems food motivated (hooray!). When she hears me moving around upstairs and/or I come downstairs in the morning, I’m treated as an interloper – full scale red alert. She has zero self-confidence (which of course explains all of the above) and is a nervous piddler (oh joy).

I know, without any of you saying it, that it’s not even been two full days. And I see progress within that time so I’m not flipping out (mostly). I think she will be a hard-core love bug once she figures things out here. She knows about couches and clearly spent some time there last night. There was evidence of puppiness this morning: shoes in random places (but not chewed on!), cat toys moved around, the mummified lizard from the window sill far from his original resting place. I plan on getting a ball out this afternoon and see what happens although the yard is not big enough for her to get more than a couple of steps. Exercise would go a long way but she’s still too freaked to take for a walk – a definite flight risk and she has no tags. Somehow she even lost her rabies tag. I’m open to suggestions for confidence building exercises and will certainly do some research.

So there’s the news. I’ve burst into tears more than once since Roxy’s been here, missing Isa. My guess is that’s totally normal.

Think good thoughts for us. I have a bit of a challenge on my hands.

Peace and hugs.

March 14th, 2017

So this happened

Posted by teri in Uncategorized    

Showed up in my snail mail last week. The donation was made by Isa’s day care. If you get a chance, check out Kindred Spirits – it’s a pretty amazing outfit.

I hope I am lucky enough to be half as loved as she was.



March 6th, 2017

Story Time

Posted by teri in Uncategorized    

I’ve been writing Isa’s story off and on in a little notebook I have. As often as not I end up in a puddle but that’s my “new normal” so it is what it is. I really haven’t gotten further than her “gotcha” day. I suppose it can considered progress that I’ve moved from the end to the beginning of her story. Her bed is still where it always has been, her food bowl in place. I put her harness back on the dining room chair – I moved it after the first contractor I met with asked me if I had a giant gerbil. (WT …?) I’m working up to putting her harness up from grabs here but I’m not quite ready.  I consider it progress that I took her collar out of the drawer and set it next to her ashes. I was careful not to let the tags jingle – that would be too much. She hated being without her collar, always visibly relieved when I buckled it back on.

But that’s my story.

Today the memory floated up to the top of my brain of her playing tug of war with an acquaintance’s yorkie terrier, at best all of three pounds. The yorkie won, pretty much every time. Isa loved the game more than the subject stuffed hedgehog and allowed the yorkie to “pull” her forward. I’ve never seen anything like it.

That’s a quickie story and sadly no pictures.

So how about the story of our hike to Wheeler’s Peak (Taos, NM), must have been in 2012 early summer since there are pockets of snow around. Trail head is at 10,000 feet with just over a 3,000 elevation gain over 6.2 miles one way. What was I thinking? The first leg to Williams Lake is easy, a mile or so, and flat, relatively speaking. We hung out at the lake for a while – Isa is all about playing in the water.

Then we started up. And up. And up. The view(s) are spectacular.

That bluish shiny spot down there, only barely seen behind/between the trees? That’s the lake.

I’m sad to say we didn’t make it all the way to the top, largely because I’m a giant chicken. In my defense I was feeling the altitude: my legs were being very grumpy and complaining about a lack of oxygen, it was cold and windy the higher we got, and the trail was nothing more than loose rocks and a long-ass way down. Exhibit A:

But the biggest reason? A certain dog continually disappeared down the mountain, hidden among the rocks, investigating who knows what. And she certainly was not responding to my call and her hearing has been known to be “selective.” There is a chance she could not hear me – the wind was blowing the “wrong” direction. She probably did that 3,000 feet of elevation gain at least twice over. This was on the way up, at our lunch break, before the “disappearing dog” game began:

She was dragging doggy butt that last mile from the lake back to the car and I don’t think she moved again until the next morning. Well, except for dinner of course. One must maintain one’s meal schedule regardless of fatigue level.

We had lots of good hikes (and snowshoes) over the years. Wheeler’s Peak was easily our most ambitious. My preference is to putter along and enjoy the scenery without bodily damage. Being all dog, Isa always did three to four times my mileage. For that matter our regular neighborhood walks were power walks on my part. I could only barely keep up with her – she didn’t walk anywhere, it was always a trot. Except of course when it was necessary to stop and pee on something. Better still finding something edible (her definition, not mine) – thank goodness she had a cast iron stomach.

So that’s today’s story. More as I am able.


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