Staycation in SF

I live in a place people visit for vacation, traveling here from around the world. It is easy to forget this fact when I’m just trying to keep up with the demands of a typical weekday. This week, I’ve been fortunate to have time off between jobs, and I’ve tried to make the most of my staycation by going outside in San Francisco. 

 
Ace and I took a trip to Lands End yesterday. The sky has been unusually free of fog or clouds for the past several days, and yesterday I took in unbelievable views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands, where we hiked on Sunday. Ace took in the smells of the Coastal Trail and had multiple encounters with people fawning all over her, as per usual.

 
I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m really, really good at not working. I’m great at it, actually. If anyone can tell me how not work yet somehow remain housed, I’m open to suggestions. I think Ace would be okay with that, too.

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Catching Up with Your Favorite Boston

I have been terrible at keeping up this blog lately. Let this not reflect poorly upon Ace’s commitment to adventure and mayhem! She has been up to her usual antics recently, including modeling, tugging, and sprinting.

 
In other news, it has been WAY TOO LONG since I posted any of Ace’s product reviews. Here’s a roundup, and I promise to link to them weekly from now on (bad Mama): Ace has hunted the iFetch, packed the K9 Cube, participated in a Frisbee sampling and a durable toy taste test, caught a ride on the Pet-A-Roo, snuggled beneath Molly Mutt’s crate cover, bundled fashionably in Teckelklub’s Fuzzie, and today she tore up PrideBrites toys. Whew, what a busy girl!

Writing Fool, Flying Fool

I had a two articles published on Dogster this week. They are keeping me busy! Besides my usual product review, I wrote about how Ace is a little cheerleader, which you all know by now.
 
I’m scheduled to write a few more holiday gift guides this week, which basically involves a lot of getting lost on the Internet looking at dog stuff, but without all the guilt that normally accompanies such frivolity. Writing bits and pieces for Dogster has been a fun distraction from some of the less-fun aspects of my regular work life, and it makes me feel more connected to other dog owners despite having only one friend who owns a dog.
 
In other news, Ace and I are gearing up for our biannual visit to the East Coast. Right now I’ve got a few dog jackets and sweaters in my laundry hamper, waiting to be washed on the delicate cycle so Little Miss Hairless and Fatless can survive in the harsh Mid-Atlantic climate. Traveling with her is always more stressful than traveling without her, because I worry about her well-being and comfort incessantly for about eight hours straight. I always feel better having her with me during my visits, but it is unnerving to care about someone else so much in the unpredictable environment of a modern American airport and cross-country flight. I really shouldn’t worry, though — Ace is so charming and adorable that the whole world bends over backwards to kiss her spotted head, no matter where we go.

Bachelorette Pad

Jefe is visiting relatives, and for the first time Ace and I are without him yet in our own home. I’m surprised by how thrown off she is by his absence, but writing that seems weird because she is an animal of routine. I’m also such an animal, but unlike Ace I understand why these things happen and can use that understanding to cope accordingly. Instead, she just gets up suddenly from the couch and walks over to the front door, hopeful that the random noise outside is her Jefe returning. It doesn’t matter what I do, she’s not settled without him.
 
I keep sending Jefe crappy cell phone selfies like this:

 
Her photos from her daily adventures look like she’s having fun, though. For example, this:

 
And also, strangely, this:

 
Jefe should return home this weekend, and all will be right again in our little world.

Dogs and brains may be my two favorite topics. Check out this article in the New York Times about how MRIs of dogs’ brains are helping us learn about what it means to be a dog. The author makes an interesting interpretation of the data at the end of the article — that because dogs appear to be sentient beings that experience emotions, the law should treat them more like people than property. I often marvel that Ace is considered property from a legal standpoint, especially when I’m paying her vet bills, agonizing over the quality of her dog food, and having one of our many daily nonverbal conversations. Very interesting stuff to think about. We live in an exciting time!

After meeting with Ace’s surgeon yesterday for a checkup, I have good news — her knees are stable, and if all goes well, she can run off-leash in one month! We are allowed to increase her on-leash activity over the next four weeks, and she can even tussle with other pups. I am over the mood with relief and am looking forward to longer walks (this is the first time I have ever wished for longer walks, ever).

Limbo

I realized today that it’s been a while since I’ve posted here. I can’t help but reflect on how much Ace’s life has changed recently, how limited it has become. I can tell she’s bored, yet she’s so ready at a moment’s notice for all the fun to come back. I can see it in her face when I accidentally step on a stuffie or when we approach the crosswalk but instead turn back towards the house. She’s ready to go, anytime I ask, back to playtime.
 
I wish I could tell her what was up, and that she could understand.
 
Viewed from another perspective, things are going quite well. We are exceedingly fortunate that so far there have been no complications from her surgery or in the healing process. Her scars are all but invisible as the silky hair grows back on her thighs. We have one more Adequan injection to give Tuesday evening, and a follow-up visit with the surgeon in a week. Somehow we have managed to keep her from harming herself. This is no small feat!
 
I’m also thankful we were able to afford her surgery, that my job let me go home to care for her at lunch, that I’m not a single pet parent. Today I was approached by a homeless woman and her small dog, asking for money for a veterinary procedure. The dog had little bows tied in its long fur but it looked tired, and so did its owner. I gave her information on different charities and wished her luck. I get asked for money ten times a day, but seeing her desperation made me nauseous. I wonder what I would do in her situation, or rather what I wouldn’t do, to keep Ace alive.
 
So I guess things really aren’t all that bad here in limbo. We’ll just keep waiting, and if we wait long enough, if we’re really patient and still, maybe we’ll get lucky again and we’ll have our playtime back. I wish I could tell her that I miss fetch almost as much as she does.

Lounging

 
Ace had the slow weekend we are coming to expect as she heals from her surgery. We started off Saturday with a trip to the vet to teach Jefe and me how to inject her with Adequan. It is not a necessary component of her recovery, but I already decided that anything the vet recommends I will try. If you know me, you know I’m a bit squeamish about needles. If you don’t know me, but now you know I don’t like needles, just imagine how much I must love my dog if I’m willing to inject her! Ace was a gracious pin cushion and allowed me to practice on her with the vet tech’s guidance. We’ll get to have that exciting experience seven more times over the next month in the comfort of our own home, with possible maintenance doses in our future. Goody.
 
Now that Ace has graduated to 10-minute daily walks, but is so bored she wants to run a marathon every time we open the front door, I decided to use this weird situation to try to teach her to walk loosely on a leash. Leash walking skills were not our strong suite in puppy class, mostly because Ace is so excited to be outside and I have the misguided notion that she should be allowed to direct our movements during walks because the walks are “for her.” After watching a few low tech YouTube videos and initiating a few false starts, we managed to do a bit of training by pacing around the sidewalk in front of our apartment.
 
Now that we live in a fancier part of town, instead of drunk homeless guys harassing us during training, we have well-meaning, well-groomed ladies and gentlemen stopping our frantic efforts to coo over “the puppy.” Ace does a very good job at pretending to be a puppy learning to walk for the first time, until my neighbors invariably notice the odd shaven parts of her and nervously hurry off. We’ll see if I have the stamina to hold good boundaries so something can come of this strange time.
 
Otherwise, Ace was pretty much just lounging, as depicted in this collage of various stages of repose. The tongue lolling out of her flat face is my favorite, and we’ve gotten to see more of it recently due to the tranquilizer. Also, there is lip smacking, sleep suckling, and violent trembling. At least she’s running up those sand dunes in her dreams.

One Leg, Two Leg, Red Leg, Blue Leg

We met with the surgeon this morning. Apparently Ace has the same condition in her left leg as in her right. I expressed my desire to do both legs at the same time, and I’m so happy to report that we will be able to do just that. This will allow us to avoid another surgery in the future if all goes well. Ace will have the surgery on Thursday afternoon, and she will be held all day Friday for observation.
 
While I think the sudden news that one’s dog needs major surgery would be upsetting to any loving dog owner, I think I’m particularly upset about Ace’s knee problems because I have knee problems. I experienced a sudden and unexpected injury when I was 21, and had to have surgery soon after. I still have pain and I often worry about my future. My knee injury has been one of the worst losses I have experienced. I can’t help but project fears of my own limitations when I think (read: worry) about Ace’s future. This is something I really have to mull over if I am going to be able to take care of Ace.
 
You should see the list of care instructions — it’s really frightening. For the first ten days post-surgery, she will not be able to walk, and I will have to hold her up with a sling while she tries to urinate. Apparently I don’t have to worry about poop for a while: “Morphine-type drugs can sometimes cause constipation for 3 to 4 days so it is common for patients not to have a bowel movement for this length of time.” Awesome.
 
My mind is spinning, pinging back and forth between planning for her care and reflecting on my own horror and grief. The depths of my worry are endless. I am terrified.
 
And now, a cute picture of Ace:
 

Ah, that feels better! I needed that.

Bite Like No One Is Watching

I was in a dark place yesterday.
 
After blogging I decided to take Ace for a walk. She was pulling so hard with all her pent-up energy. I led her aimlessly up a street I’ve never explored in my new neighborhood. Suddenly the road seemed to rise at a 45-degree angle towards the sky (not uncommon in San Francisco). We somehow found a park and climbed switchbacks until we had a view of the entire eastern half of the city, from downtown to Bernal Hill. It was twilight and I felt like we had walked out of our hellhole and into a magical land. If Ace hadn’t been limping I might have let one of the teenagers push me on the rope swing over the void while she ran along the ridge, watching me fly.
 
Instead we walked home and took a bath; life doesn’t stop just because horrible things are happening all around you.


And why should it? What really separates the horror from the delight besides your opinion?
 
Tonight, Jefe and I built our last piece of Ikea furniture, a new bed. It is tall, dark, and handsome despite being cheap. I hoisted Ace up on the fresh sheets. I think she could sense my surprise that the bed’s construction had gone smoothly. She promptly engaged me in a wild game of Bitey Face.
 
Tomorrow, we go meet with the surgeon to talk about cutting my baby’s leg open. But tonight, we build and we play.