Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘caring for pets

Not Better

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If something is not getting better, does that mean it is getting worse? Not necessarily, but possibly. We continue to face the parallel issues of Cyndie’s recuperation after breaking her ankle and Delilah’s mystery illness that is looking more and more like what may be the end of her life. Cyndie and I are striving to be positive and calming alongside the obvious sadness we are experiencing.

The main evidence we are getting from Delilah is that she has stopped eating. Short of further expensive veterinary options, we are left with that clear X-ray and good blood results as the only reference for ruling out easily resolved causes. There are a variety of other afflictions that may be triggering Delilah’s shutting down but at ten years old, putting her through the trauma to learn more won’t necessarily provide much in the way of extending quality years for her.

Since kitty treats were the only thing she would accept (her ignoring scrambled eggs this morning was a real gut punch), we figured she could enjoy those yesterday and get a little more than zero calories.

That just resulted in a return of her vomiting this morning.

I’ve shortened her walks to just long enough to pee and/or poo if she has it in her to do. I told Cyndie this morning Delilah’s poop was rather cat-sized. I guess that’s what you get on a diet exclusively of kitty treats.

She mostly lays at Cyndie’s feet but still occasionally pops up to bark at something outside that neither of us can identify. Delilah shows no signs of pain or discomfort so we are left with witnessing her slow down between glimpses of her old spark.

If she continues to refuse to drink water or broth or eat anything we offer, it will be a matter of days before we will need to make that final decision which is never easy to make.

Not much else beyond keeping Delilah comfortable seems very important to us at this point.

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Written by johnwhays

November 20, 2022 at 11:33 am

Wonderful Time

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We are having a wonderful time at the lake with family. Wish you were here.

That’s Elysa’s dog, Diesel chillin’ on the couch with me while I read the digital version of the StarTribune newspaper. The rest of the day consisted of waiting out a rain shower playing a card game; doing a little more tending of the mini-labyrinth pathways; building a jigsaw puzzle while waiting out the second rain shower; catching a couple episodes of Ted Lasso to expose the show to more family members; squeezing in an hour-long bike ride around the lake; enjoying grilled burgers for dinner; ending the day with more card games that included the entire household.

It’s been good to have a break from full-time animal caretaking at home but we miss them and frequently find ourselves wondering how the new sitter is getting along with all the challenges.

I’m not sure that I am fully absorbing the depth of pleasure we are experiencing in not being constantly responsible for walking Delilah or feeding and cleaning up after all the animals at home.

Being up at the lake with family really is a wonderful time, for multiple reasons.

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Written by johnwhays

May 30, 2022 at 6:00 am

Another Saturday

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Another Saturday morning when I get to choose what will get my attention. It’s hard to ignore the most prominent fact imposing its way over almost everything we pick. Our weather has entered a cold spell. In our region, winter cold spells mean below zero Fahrenheit. Not quite polar region craziness of 70-below, but days of any number below-zero bitter cold might as well have the same impact.

Preparing to exit the home module for any length of time involves donning garb that rivals climbing into a spacesuit. If you don’t like wearing a facemask for protection from spreading the coronavirus, you won’t like going outside today.

Delilah paces semi-patiently at the front door while we methodically navigate the fine art of adding multiple layers of apparel and accessories in precise order. She takes several slurps from her water bowl in preparation for the impending outing.

It occurred to me this morning that, if we didn’t have a dog or chickens, we wouldn’t need to get out of bed and go outside when it is so wickedly cold. Some people don’t have to go outside if they don’t want to. I didn’t want to go outside, but I didn’t mind that we had to.

The snow squeaked under our boot steps. Eyelashes occasionally stick together as they frost up. Moving air starts to sting exposed flesh. Every few steps, Delilah will keep one paw up and hop once or twice to give that foot a break from contacting the snow. She emphatically rejected our several attempts in the past to offer her winter booties.

The chickens seemed nonplussed by the harsh conditions. We added some extra straw to the coop and installed a radiant heat source to ease their burden a little bit. They seemed to be demonstrating their winter hardiness, as advertised for our variety of breeds.

Accomplishing our goals with minimal distractions allowed us to promptly return to the safe warmth of our spaceship where Cyndie prepared an omelet for breakfast that rivaled a 3-star chef’s and I ignited an inspiring fire in the fireplace.

I am leaving the decision for later about whether I will interrupt my indoor endorphin-producing hobbies to go outside and finish clearing the snow off the deck that I pulled down off the roof eaves yesterday.

It’s Saturday. Morning cartoons, hot cocoa, snuggling under a blanket, giggling with family, listening to music, reading a book, writing inspirations, laughing at our foibles, assembling a puzzle, staring at the fire, it’s the best day of the week type of stuff.

Baby, it’s cold outside, but that is just the way things go sometimes.

There are plenty of ways to cope and we are going to employ several of them and enjoy this Saturday to the fullest. I invite you to do the same, whether you are experiencing a polar vortex or reside somewhere closer to the equator than we do.

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Pet Fatigue

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Getting up at zero-dark-thirty, driving an hour to work and another hour home upon completing my hours of day-job duties leaves me a little drained for the full-time dog and cat duty that I’m faced with while Cyndie is away. When I walk in the door, Delilah is all fired up to get her pre-dinner jaunt around the property and guard the barn while I check on the chickens in their coop. At that moment, I’d prefer to get off my feet and close my eyes for a spell.

Luckily, the fresh air rejuvenates me and we have a good outing, but back in the house after that excursion and I am even more exhausted than I was when I arrived home the first time.

Cyndie’s been gone almost a week, with a second week left to go before she is scheduled to return, and I’ve been experiencing a contrasting mix of reactions to my return to solo (sort of) living. Having the whole bed to myself is a bit of a luxury that I am enjoying but it comes at the expense of missing another warm body to ward off the chill of cold toes. Stretching out at every possible angle and not feeling like I am bothering anyone is sumptuous, though, I just have to say.

I hate to admit that only half-way through this current assignment of tending to the animals had me wondering yesterday if there might be someone young and adventurous who would love to have a dog like Delilah live with them.

After Delilah repeatedly bothered me for attention the other night, I finally just stopped what I was doing and sat down on the kitchen floor to interact at her level. In no time, I had drooped to completely laying on the floor and she settled on one of her favorite spots under the table.

The thing is, when I get up, she does too. No rest for the weary.

I breathe a little sigh of relief after securing her in the crate that is her den for the night, but the respite is short-lived.

Pequenita recognizes the instant the dog is confined to quarters and happily steps up for her dose of undivided attention. If I am upright, she reaches up and sinks her claws into my pantlegs and if I am reclined, she begins delivering the headbutts.

She is not subtle about asking for a little of her own undivided attention.

I feel like the mother of infants who never gets a break from constantly having a child clinging to them. At least children eventually grow out of that phase.

I dare say, if I end up living alone someday, I have a strong suspicion I would end up choosing to do so without pets, much as I love the ones we have acquired in our years here.

This becomes significantly more obvious to me when Cyndie is away for extended amounts of time. Thinking back, the year she lived in Boston while I stayed home in Eden Prairie, I don’t remember needing to care for any pets. I don’t think I realized how easy I had it at the time.

Although, I wonder what I would end up writing if I didn’t have dog/cat/chicken tales to blather on about anymore.

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Written by johnwhays

January 23, 2020 at 7:00 am

Manipulating Neurochemistry

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How are your stress levels today? Don’t think about the answer. Feel it.

Cyndie and I have faced some questions about how we are doing lately. It hasn’t been as easy to answer as usual for us. It was a tough winter, but listing our grievances doesn’t feel good to share. It doesn’t paint the picture as accurately as we know it to be.

Our move to the country and accumulation of animals for which we need to tend has put distance between us and our friends and family. Some connections with people and activities have broken, and only a fraction of new local connections have sprouted in their place.

We have gained a brilliant wealth of new relationships with our animals, and precious though they are, it is not the same.

Yesterday we had an opportunity to drive the suburban roads again that consumed our everyday back when we lived in Eden Prairie. The dramatic contrast to our present-day environment was revealing.

Is it worth it? The struggles to cope with the never-ending challenges of weather and the unrelenting daily routine of required chores to care for our horses, chickens, dog, and cat? Some days, more than others. It’s life. It’s something we chose. (By the way, that’s a luxury –having the choice– that is not lost on us.)

Our challenges can be framed as onerous and laborious; burdens that could be lifted by giving up our animals and moving back to the conveniences and camaraderie of our life-long friends and families in the suburbs.

The difficulties of the last few months, and the years of owning and caring for our animals can also be framed as invigorating, rejuvenating, inspiring, and fulfilling. It is adventure of a very high order.

When we choose to frame the ups and downs of life in the positive, we manipulate our neurochemistry in healthy ways. That is a choice we have power to control. I spent an unfortunate number of years manipulating my biochemistry in the opposite direction by mentally framing my life in the negative.

We won’t prevent harsh realities from challenging our decisions by simply thinking positive all the time, but we will be better served to meet those challenges when we give our brains the healthiest balance of on-going positive neurochemical support possible.

Life here is challenging, but we are doing well. Really well. Thanks for asking.

It feels right.

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