Yet Another Scare

I got a phone call from my sister yesterday – she was in the emergency room with my brother.  He was complaining of numbness in his neck, severe chest/back pain and was coughing up small clots of blood.

Fortunately, it’s not his heart; my brother, despite being a smoker, is in pretty good shape.  He has pneumonia in one lung, a pulmonary bleb in the other (which apparently ruptured, hence the coughing up blood – he’s lucky his lung didn’t collapse), and pleurisy in both lungs.  They gave him prescriptions for pain medication and antibiotics and sent him home; my sister is taking care of him.

Hopefully nothing else will happen between now and next Tuesday, so we can enjoy our week together when she flies up here for the Thanksgiving holiday.

On a more pleasant note, Dixie is recovering very well and has returned to her former rambunctious self.  She’s also wagging her tail freely, so the vet says it’s healing properly.  Thank goodness something is going well.

On an even more interesting note, my husband booked the cruise for next February even though I hadn’t given him an answer as to whether I wanted to go.  I did make him buy insurance so we’d get the money back in case something happened and we couldn’t go.

2016…the year that seems like it will NEVER end.

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It Never Rains But It Pours

This year has been nothing short of horrible.  No sooner than we’d heard my sister was going to live and recover as much as someone with half her innards missing can, we faced yet another crisis.

Last Wednesday began like any other day.  I got up and immediately went to let Dixie outside.  I blearily drudged my way through my morning routine, but when I poured her food in her dish, she didn’t come back inside (she usually comes running).  I went to the back door and called for her, but she didn’t come.

I figured she’d wandered around to the front of the house and was about to go to the front door, when I heard my husband say, “What the hell is that??” while he opened the door.  Dixie came running into the house and collapsed, shivering, in the front hall.  I knelt down and the minute I touched her she gave a loud yelp and bolted to her kennel.

“What happened?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he replied, “I heard her yelping and when I opened the door, well, you saw.”

It took me forever to calm poor Dixie down enough to let me examine her, and even then I had to practically climb into the kennel with her.  All I could see was a shallow, but bloody, cut on the back of her left leg, but I knew what had happened – she’d wandered into the street.  It was still dark out, and she’s a solid black dog; she was hit by a car.

My husband had to go to work (of course), but I immediately called the vet and told them what I thought happened.  They couldn’t see her right away and suggested a nearby animal hospital, so I bundled her up in a blanket and carried her to the car as quickly (and gently) as I could.

They were able to see her as soon as we got there and x-rayed her and did some sort of other scan to check for internal injuries.  She was very, very lucky – she only suffered the cut on her leg, some other scrapes and bruising, and a very small fracture of her tailbone.  They gave us some pain medication, a stool softener (the fractured tailbone is making any elimination painful) and we were on our way home just a little over an hour later.

I was out of my mind with worry about her for the first few days – she refused to leave her kennel at all the first day, except when she came out to pee and poop on the floor (which I willingly – gladly, even – cleaned up).  The next couple of days weren’t much better, although she started to come out to eat and drink, instead of waiting for me to bring her food and water dish to the kennel.  She still wouldn’t leave it otherwise, though, and cried incessantly unless one of us sat next to her, petting her and speaking softly.

I had visions of her becoming a timid, frightful dog and the thought made me cry – I love my sweet, wild girl who, when she wagged her tail, managed to wag her whole body and tired out much larger dogs with her play and running at our nearly daily visits to the dog park.  I knew she’d heal physically, but I was worried she’d never recover from the psychological trauma.

By Saturday, though, she started coming out of the kennel for brief periods, acting more like her old self, and finally went outside to do her doggy business.  By yesterday she was MUCH improved, going outside with my husband while he continued the job of cleaning out the garden beds, and even went to go visit the neighbors behind us, who adore her.  We ended the day with a nice, leisurely walk around the block.

She still isn’t jumping on the sofa – it hurts too much, getting up and down – so we’ve made her a bed in the sunny patch by the sliding glass doors that lead to the deck out back.  And while there’s no full-body wag (yet), she’s wagging her tail again, if somewhat gingerly, and feeling well enough to beg for bacon and dog treats whenever I’m in the kitchen.

I’m confident that she is going to recover fully from this awful accident, which is such a relief.  Now our challenge is how we’re going to handle the next few weeks – per the vet, she’s not supposed to run until the fracture is fully healed, which will take six to eight weeks.  That means no running, and no visits to the dog park, and if there’s anything my girl Dixie likes to do, it’s run and go to the dog park.

I’ll keep you updated.

How’s Dad?

My daughter asked me this the other day as we were shopping for party supplies for my grandson’s first birthday party, which takes place on Sunday.

“He’s fine,” I replied.  “For now.”

And indeed he is.  But when he kissed me this morning as we were getting ready for work and I could already taste and smell the vodka – I don’t even wonder how he manages to sneak it past me any more – I reminded myself (again) it won’t last.

Of course, the “for now” qualifier began a conversation where I reminded her that it is highly unlikely this marriage is headed anywhere but divorce court.  She’s not happy about it – she not only loves my husband, but likes the convenience of having me available at a moment’s notice – but what am I going to do?  Lie about it?  I don’t think so; my sister spent the last 30 years bending over backwards to hide the consequences of her husband’s alcoholism from her children and it has come back to bite her in the ass – hard. (I’m working on a post about that.)

I have heard nothing about the job I interviewed for last week, not even a letter of rejection, so I’m continuing the hunt for gainful, reasonably-compensated employment.  In the meantime, I continue to keep in mind that not only will my husband’s current good behavior not last, it is entirely up to me to keep my cool when the vodka-fueled shit hits the fan.  It doesn’t matter how unfair or how hard it may be, it simply is the only way to deal with an alcoholic.  For my own peace of mind if nothing else.

In other news, Dixie finished her beginner’s training class last night, and even won the special prize at the end of the night for being able to ignore the treat on the floor the longest after being given the command “Leave it!”  She’s no dummy, my Dixie – she knew I had a treat in my hand I’d give her if she ignored the one on the floor.  😉  We begin the intermediate class tomorrow; the trainer said my energetic and often excitable little black dachshund mix is going to be a “hoot” in that class.

I can’t wait.

Soldiering on

Well, I’m still being “punished” but I’ve gotten used to it, including his ostentatious running about to do chores before I can get to them.  Seriously – I woke up yesterday morning and went to the bathroom; he heard me get up and rushed into the bedroom and made the bed before I could even finish urinating.  He also waits until I’m someplace where I can observe him doing whatever chore he’s rubbing in my face at the moment – again, yesterday after I came out of the bathroom to find him finishing making the bed, I decided to take a quick shower and get dressed.  The minute I came out of the bedroom, he ran into the kitchen and began unloading the dishwasher. I could give a thousand other examples of this kind of behavior, but you get the idea.

Have I mentioned that when I do manage to accomplish something (usually a task he does poorly, like cooking, or really dislikes, like scrubbing toilets), he hangs over my shoulder and asks me over and over and over again if there’s anything he can do to help?  Or if it’s something he hasn’t managed to rush to first, he’ll scold me for not letting him do it (this includes removing/putting away things in the pantry or cabinets, utilizing the step-stool he bought for me for this exact purpose because I’m so short).

This seems to be his extraordinarily passive-aggressive way of “proving” to me that he cares about me and our relationship.  Of course, the minute we have an argument it will become ammunition, because he has to do everything and I’m just lazy.  (There is no mention, of course, of all the housework I do every afternoon; neither of us can remember the last time he’s done something like run the vacuum or dust the furniture or scrub the kitchen counters.)

I gave up a long time ago rushing around trying to anticipate what he wants done and when. It did nothing but drive me crazy, because no matter what I do, he only notices – and complains bitterly about – the things I don’t do.  He can walk into a room that is 99.9% perfect, and will find and focus on the .1% that isn’t and bitch and bitch and bitch about it.  So I do what I can do and if he wants to run around and break his neck to get to everything else before I can, that’s his choice.

Then there’s the dog.  He’s jealous of her because she is the only source of non-stressful affection in my life these days and he knows it.  He’s not mean to her – in fact, he is quite affectionate towards her himself most of the time – but he complains about her, in terms of the time and money she costs, all the time.  The poor thing ran through a yellow jacket nest of which we were unaware in the back yard last week, and was stung at least six times – once on her ear and five times on her back.  I insisted we take her to the vet, and while he went willingly, he pissed and moaned about it all the way there and back.

Dixie is fine; she received shots and prescriptions for allergy medication, steroids and painkillers.  I’m happy to announce that while she is required to do the entire course of steroids, she only needed the other medication the evening she was stung.  By the next morning, the welts were gone and she was her usual happy, energetic self, and seems to have suffered no serious harm from her experience.  The yellow jacket nest was also destroyed, so there’s little chance she’ll be harmed again, at least from that particular pest.

On a more positive note, I sent my resume to an employment agency Friday and have already received an email from them expressing interest.  I’ve got an initial telephone interview with them this afternoon; hopefully, this is a step in the right direction and I’ll find the kind of employment I need and want.  I no longer care about starting over at my age; I’d like to be on my own as soon as possible after my youngest returns to school.

Wish me luck!

 

Control

I haven’t been active in the online support group for friends and family members of alcoholics I joined a couple of years or so ago for awhile – not since I began therapy.  But since my therapist has moved onto greener pastures, I’ve begun popping in and reading more often.  The last few days, I’ve been there quite often, and I’m beginning to feel a little better about how things are going.

It’s generally accepted that the spouses of alcoholics are codependent, and as such are desperate to establish some kind of control, both over their relationships and their lives.  Codependents tend to be the kind of people who feel the need to “fix” everything, while reluctant to ask for help themselves.  It took me a long time to recognize this in myself, but yes – I am guilty of both those things.  Gawd help me, the last thing I want to be is codependent, but I guess I am.

That control – or the lack of it – has been such an issue in my life has never been driven home as much as today when I took the dog for her morning walk.

Dixie is pretty darn strong and muscular for a 22 pound dog, and walking her is often an ordeal, especially if there are lots of people out and about, because she’s so excitable.  I can’t do much more than walk her around the block once or twice before taking her back home.

Using a harness is hard, because it gives her the leverage she needs to pull and yank me around.  A regular collar isn’t much better, and it makes me worry about the damage she could be doing to her neck and trachea.  So, I purchased a “head collar” – it has a loop that goes over her snout, and a strap that goes across the back of her head, just behind her ears.  When properly fitted, she can open her mouth, even eat while wearing it.  But she can’t pull, tug or try to run ahead of me when it’s in place, because she gets no leverage – it simply turns her head.  She has to walk next to me at my pace.

I wish I’d bought the damn thing three weeks ago when the trainer suggested it, because this morning was the first time we’ve made it around the block in less than half an hour.  She’s not crazy about having something on her head, but she’s getting used to it (and she loves all the treats she gets for walking alongside me), and I’m anxious to take her on longer walks when she has adjusted to it.

It occurred to me as I was getting ready for work today, that I was in a much better mood than has been usual after our walks and I realized why – I was taking her for a walk, rather than the other way around.  I was in control.

At first, I was upset with myself for feeling that way, then I realized that I should be in control in that particular situation.  I’m the human; she’s the dog.  I get to dictate the terms of our walk, not her.  My problem, as it is with so many of us married to addicts, is relinquishing the idea of controlling those people and situations over which we truly have none.

There is so little in my life over which I have so little control.  All I can do is control how I respond to it.

Well, that and how I walk the dog.

 

Dixieland

2016-07-24_01How can you resist a face like that?

Simple…you can’t.

I now have another shadow.  Dixie likes my alcoholic husband, and he seems more fond of her than he was of Snoopy, but she adores me and follows me everywhere.  I’m also the only person she’ll mind, which is both gratifying and frustrating.

We’ve been to two of our beginner’s training classes and she’s caught on very quickly to most of the things we’ve been taught.  Our biggest challenge remains leash training, but we’re working on it.  When I take her on our walks, we spend the first half going just a few steps at a time – if she won’t walk at my pace and pulls on the leash, we just stop – but she eventually gets it and does quite well, not getting excited again until we approach our house.

The trainer wants us to practice the “watch me” signal and give her a treat every time she makes eye contact and walks beside me, but I’d have to take an entire bag of dog food with me if we did that and we’d never make it home.  It’s the one thing I’ve not done exactly according to the trainer’s instructions.  I don’t want Dixie to expect treats on walks; the walk itself needs to be the reward and since the poor thing just loves being outside, I think it’s a good approach to take.

It’s just going to take a lot of work.  We knew that the foster family had a hard time adopting her out – we’d heard it’s because she wasn’t a puppy and is solid black, but I think I know the real reason:  she is very energetic, extremely excitable and loves to nip you when she’s playing.  That is going to be a hard habit to break her of, but I feel confident we’ll succeed.  She also still chews things – she loves paper – and we have to be careful what we leave within her reach when she’s out of sight, but I know from experience that will end as she gets older.

I’ve come to believe the “puppy mill” thing was also a load of hooey.  The fosters finally confessed that they didn’t know for certain she’d been in a puppy mill; the trainer they had taken her to a couple of times said she exhibited some of the same behaviors as a puppy mill dog.  She certainly wasn’t abused, and is in too good of health for a rescue dog (our new vet declared her “perfect”).

I think she was just the product of an irresponsible owner who never had her spayed or registered and let her run loose.  She was finally picked up by a dog catcher, and since she wasn’t chipped or registered, she eventually went to a shelter where, for the reasons I listed above, was never adopted out.  She was slated to be euthanized when the rescue organization stepped in and placed her in the foster home where we eventually found her.

At any rate, I’ve got my work cut out for me with this sweet, wonderful, crazy dog, but I don’t care – in fact, I welcome the distraction.  I certainly welcome the unconditional love which has been, sadly, in far too short a supply in my life.

2016-07-25

An Adventure

I’ve got a lot to talk about re: my alcoholic husband and his latest escapade (which involved trespassing and stealing), but this post will be devoted to our weekend adventure.

Thursday night around 8:30 my phone rang – Caller ID identified it as an Alabama number.  It took me a minute to figure out who the hell could be calling me from Alabama – oh, shit!  Dixie’s foster mom!

And it was, indeed, the foster mom, who was nearly in tears.  I now doubt what she told me, at least partly, but the gist of it was that a delegation of neighbors representing her homeowner’s association paid her a visit and told her that she had too many dogs.  At the time, she had five – her two long-haired dachshunds, two puppies that are dachshund-terrier mixes (also fosters) and Dixie.  According to the foster mom, they said Dixie was the problem; apparently she barked too much and was too rambunctious with the neighborhood children.  (I have reason to believe that it was just one neighbor that had a problem with Dixie, and he threatened to go to the homeowner’s association and lodge a formal complaint.)

The upshot of it was, could we get her immediately?

She said she could arrange transportation for the dog from Alabama to Ohio, but after consulting with my husband (who, despite anything else I may say about him, is a big marshmallow when it comes to animals and children), we decided that would be too much stress on the poor girl and we would just come and get her ourselves.

So, we packed quickly (packing quickly is something we do very well) and were on the road by 6 a.m. the next morning.  It’s about a 10 hour drive to Birmingham, and we were making good time so we stopped at a Petsmart outside of Nashville and got her a kennel, dishes, food and toys (I don’t believe in crating animals but I was told she was kennel-trained and preferred sleeping in a kennel, which turned out to not necessarily be true).  Once in Birmingham, we checked into our hotel, went to dinner, and then went to bed – we wanted another early start home so it wouldn’t be too late when we finally arrived with Dixie.

We were at the foster house by 6:30 the next morning.  I was told that while Dixie had a lot of anxiety when they first got her, she no longer barked, growled or snapped at new people.  Again, untrue – she both barked and growled at me the minute she saw me, and then growled at me again when I tried to pet her.  After I left her alone and began playing with the other dogs, she changed her mind and was soon accepting my affection.  She loved my husband from the get-go (probably because he petted the other dogs first) and was quite willing to go with us when we left.

To try and make a long story somewhat shorter, the ride home was fairly uneventful, although she did try to chew both a floormat and her kennel, but we stopped often to walk and water her at rest stops, and I kept some treats with me so that when we had to tell her “no” about something I’d have a reward when she minded.  She did bark and snap at my son when he got home from work, but he absolutely loves and adores dogs and took it in stride, and she was soon loving all over him.

We’ve had her four full days now and I think I can safely say that we already love her to pieces.  There’s been anxiety, yes, but she seems to be getting over it quickly.  She had a couple of accidents in the house, but that is to be expected (and is common, I discovered, with rescue dogs coming into/out of foster situations), and she is now doing her doggy business outside quite willingly.

She has met a ton of people – my son has had friends over, we’ve had coworkers over and my daughter came by for coffee this morning after she got off work – and she has not barked, growled or snapped at anyone else.  It only took being told “no” once or twice for her to learn that the vegetable gardens are off limits, although she’s extremely energetic and zooms all over the rest of the yard.

We discovered quickly that she is not so fond of the kennel, nor did we really have room for it, so we set up a bed for her beneath the small desk in our kitchen, which we only use for our printer.  It seems to fulfill her need for a cozy, enclosed place to sleep because she loves it.  She takes all of her toys there and goes to bed obediently every night.

What surprised us the most is that she does not beg for food when we sit down to eat.  She will often come lay down on the floor next to us while we’re having a meal, but shows no interest in our food.  She also is quite respectful of spaces that we’ve indicated are not hers – she has, for instance, completely left my grandson’s toys alone once I told her they are off limits.  Nor will she come into our bedroom unless invited.

Right now my biggest complaint is that she is not leash-trained and doesn’t always come when called, but I’m enrolling her in an obedience class, so that should take care of that.  She is a good, smart dog and I am thrilled to have her in my life.