Finding & Fighting The New Normal

We live in a fast paced world as well as one where you can post any type of media and within seconds anyone in the world can see, read, comment and even download the content. Struggles are still always going to be there and have to be dealt with, but in a lot of ways….it’s easier. 

Most of us have had periods of loss…be it the loss of a grandparent, parent, aunts, uncles, cousins, sibling, spouse, child, grandchild, neiece, nephew or their furkid. Loss of a job, marriage and so on. Personally, I’ve been through the loss of both parents, a husband and most recently the loss of my furkid. The above picture is of Mary Elizabeth….my furkid.

I had had Mary all of her life, I had both of her parents and little Mary was born a little over 14 years ago in my living room. She was in every way my baby. She was my little shadow. If I went somewhere, she generally went with me, with the acception of a store or church, she was with me. If I went somewhere to stay the night, be it at my sister’s, at my adopted parents or anywhere else she went with me. She was always, always at my side or in my lap. 

March 18th 2017 at around 10:30am I had to make the decision to let her go. The day before she had had a stroke and her little body had worn completely out. She’d not been sick prior and had enjoyed excellent health. With my arms around her, my face in her fur, I told her I loved her, crying as I did so, my sister in front of her stroking Mary’s paws and telling her she loved her as well. Mary had a peaceful send off from this life. 

I had known, a gut feeling, the night before that whatever had happened, whatever was wrong, that Mary would not be coming home from the vet’s office the next day. That sick, unstoppable feeling that claws at your very insides that the end was near. That there was nothing that I could do to make her better. I didn’t know that she’d had a stroke until we were at the vet’s office saturday morning. 

Mary had never been “just a dog” to me. She was a little life to take care of. A blessing in my life and also a responsibility. In my life she was…best friend, companion, secret keeper, my shadow, my clon & cheerleader when I was down, and my little furkid. I’ve never had children, so little Mary was also my furkid. There was never a time when I don’t remember being concerned in the winter if she was warm enough, cool enough in the summer, if she had had enough to eat or enough water to drink. She had a rather large toybox (at last count she had over 60 toys), she had a bed in the bedroom, a crate filled with cushions and a bed in the living room on the floor. Even though at night she slept with me on the bed, on her left side, me on my right as she snored with her little head on my pillow. 

It’s not that I thought that she would live forever. No one gets out of this life alive. It’s just…..there was no warning beforehand. Her last time at the vet’s when she had her last shots in July of last year….she was in excellent health. She was happy and bouncy all of her life. 

Mary was…such a big part of my life. I was always a firm believer that I hate to wait to go to the bathroom so I would even set my alarm to make sure that if she didn’t tell me beforehand that she had to go outside that I wouldn’t forget. My alarms were set for even at night and I would get up and take her outside then too. At 14 years old why should she have to wait? 

Since Mary was treated with love and basically just like a kid, (because she WAS my furkid) her personality was huge. She was loving and gentle….and stubborn. She was more different than any dog I have ever had in my life. I was told by many neighbors, family members and friends that when I was gone, if someone knocked on the door she wouldn’t bark. However if I was home, she would bark a few times to let me know that someone was at the door. 

As with any loss…..there’s a big hole in my heart. The pain is huge. I’m grateful that she didn’t continue to suffer. That day before she died was the only day and while I wish that she didn’t suffer at all, I’m grateful that she it wasn’t longer. I was blessed to have her for all of her 14 years, 5 months, 6 days and about 5 hours. She added so much to my life and I hope so much that I added to hers. She gave me soo much love, loyalty, sass and fun. 

Finding this “new normal” hurts. It’s hard. So much reminds me of her. So much of my time was devoted to her. Walking into the apartment it hits me full force. She’s not there to bark a hello to me. She’s not there to give me what for for not taking her with me or for being gone longer than what she thought I should be. She’s not there to cuddle with on the couch as I watch tv or read a book or crochet, or to take her downstairs to the yard. She’s not there following me in the bathroom to (I’m assuming) supervise me on things. When I go to see friends, she’s not there to come with me and visit with people. She’s not there to go for a walk and watch the animals outside cross our path. 

So many people have made comments about me getting another dog and it’s basically a slap in the face. It cut me to the core till I felt like I was bleeding. You can’t replace somene…be it a person or a furkid. 

For those of you who read this…please do something for me. if you have a furkid of your own, take a moment. Go love on him or her. Give them an extra treat. Let them know they are special to you. They give so much love and loyalty, so much devotion. Let them know that you love them. 

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The Inbetween Week

      For some reason I’ve always had a fondness for this week….you know the one. The week inbetween Christmas and New Years. There’s just something special about it to me. December 26th brings a kind of relaxing feeling, because the stress is over…the major stress. Most people, not all but most are half crazed the month before Christmas. (Instead of celebrating the day that it was actually created for….the true meaning….which isn’t Santa Claus, fancy presents, how much you have or get back….the true meaning is Jesus coming to earth, being born to give His life for us. Taking our sin on Himself.)  They are either out shopping, planning to shop and going through all the ads to make sure where to go and what to buy specifically (having it worked out to almost a science) or they are dreading it so much that they wait till the last moment and it just ruins everything for them until they actually go out and get it all done. And then there are some that do their shopping way way in advance and just relax the rest of the time before Christmas. 

Me? I remember what the true meaning of Christmas, celebrate Him in my heart…love Him and do what I can do for those I love when I can and forget the rest. It’s just THAT simple for me.) I get it done as close to December 1st as I can and then I’m done. I’m through and I don’t stress and worry.
      However as I said, the week between Christmas and New Years is relatively calm. The pressure is basically and comepletely over. There’s nothing left to do. No gifts to buy, no presents to wrap, no huge dinner to make, no stressing over how the house or apartment looks because it’s done. It’s over and done. 

      New Year’s is so much lower key. Granted there are some that put a lot of stress on the fact that if they don’t have a date to bring in the new year that it’s going to affect the whole rest of the year….but….to me? It’s cake!

      Laugh if you will. I’m still single. Well widowed and single. New Year’s Eve is a wonderful day to stay in, relax…order a pizza to ring in the new year and watch the New York Big Apple drop on TV in pj’s. It’s peaceful. It’s nice and it’s just me and my furkid Mary. I guard my New Year’s Eve very close and tightly. 

      So….that’s why the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve is special to me. It’s peaceful and comfortable like a favorite old shoe that just feels too good to get rid of no matter how friends or family complain it just works too well to toss out in the garbage. Have a wonderful day and a special week all. 

Until next time…love on those furkids. God bless. 😎

            

A Lazy Good Morning From Mary

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A sleepy Good Morning from Miss Mary

I confess Mary sleeps in bed with me. She is a tiny thing, only 29lbs and because she is well-behaved if I want her to sleep on the floor she has her own bed, plus she has a crate that she loves too, even though her first choice is to always sleep in bed with me. We sleep back to back, her head on the pillow and if I’m under the covers then she firmly believes that she must be too. It’s just always been that way.
      Anyway…one day last week I woke up, turned over and this is what I saw. So, I had to reach over and take a picture, because I’m biased and I’m me.
      Have a great day everyone! 🙂 Love on those furkids!

Mary & Laundry Time

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Mary waiting on me to stop playing with the phone taking her picture and actually start the laundry in the washer...

      So….as most of you know Mary and I moved a few months ago. Some things she and I have to do a little differently than what we used to. Sometimes I have to be a little creative.

      Like…..landry time. Dogs and other animals aren’t allowed in the laundry room. They are just supposed to be taken in and out of the building to use the yard or if they are going some where with their families. With that comes the problem that Mary has a hard time dealing with being left in the apartment. Which I try very hard to take her with me whenever I can.

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Settling in for a couple hours of doing laundry, granted she feels she has to supervise the work.

      My solution to washing clothes came back when she was howling at the top of her lungs a few months ago when she was very unused to being left in a new place. I started taking her with me when I would wash and dry clothes. I don’t break the rules, I don’t take her in the laundry room with me. I have her in her buggy in front of the window, 2 inches by the door and 5 foot from where I start clothes in the two washers. She waits there for me patiently in the hall and I start the washers.

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Mary waiting for me to stop with the phone and sit down beside her as we wait.

      THEN…..I come back to where she is and we do something. If it’s warm out which here it stopped being warm a month ago, we take a walk around the building or she goes out to potty and relaxes with me as we take in the arm breezes. I set the alarm on my phone and we wait for the clothes to be done that way. If it’s cold, then I pull one of the simple small chairs out into the hallway where she is and we sit there waiting to be able to put the clothes from the washer into the dryer and then wait for them to be dry.

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Sweet Contentment

      The kicker to all of this is the fact that I wait until it’s quiet which for this building is later in the evening.  My neighbors are all quiet ones, older and they believe in the early to bed, early to rise. Which there is NOTHING wrong with that. So Mary and I wash and dry clothes anywhere from 10pm to like 2am.

      Most of the time Mary settles down on her own, cuddles into her pillow and blanket in the buggy and goes to sleep unless I get up and then she’s wide awake.

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She Heard The Elevator Doors Open Behind Her.

      I couldn’t help it! I love her ears in this picture. Usually I only get this type response when I say the word, “Cookie.” Which for Mary is a Milkbone treat of some kind. All her treats I call cookies though.

Living With Mary: A New Normal

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A quiet evening with Mary at home

      There are many things that I wish I could change in this world. World peace, hunger, homelessness, violence and so many more things and not necessarily in that order even, but there is one thing that I really really wish that I could change right here where I live, actually here in my home.

      As most of you have read in the last few blogs, Mary and I have moved to a new place. It’s a highrise building that has a lot of things going for it. They are as follows;

*Cheaper rent

*No utilities

*Better building

*Garbage disposal (I have NEVER
had one before)

*Special area for dogs to potty (BAGS PROVIDED!!!)

*Maintenance crew (is AWESOME!)

*Each apartment has smoke alarms

*Each apartment has built in sprinklers here in case of fire

*Each hallway has built in sprinklers encase of fire

*Brand new carpet

*Brand new paint on the walls

*Large closets

*Friendly building daytime manager

*Friendly building night time manager

*Friendly neighbors (Mostly)

*Animal friendly building

*Two brand new elevators

*Balcony (Awesome view)

*A/C provided

*Laundry facilities provided

*Library on first floor

*A service coordinator on site

*Group Transportation Service for
grocery shopping

      All of this sounds great right? I mean all the way down the line. Great for me, great for Mary. Life is good and it’s a sweet deal. I mean this place is really very nice. It’s a 1 bedroom where before I had two bedrooms but this place is the right size for me (and Mary).
  

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Almost ready for a afternoon nap

      Only one fly in the ointment. Only one reason why I’m having a hard time with this new place that Mary and I moved to. Can you guess what that could be? Yep, the princess herself hates this place. I’m not being sarcastic it’s just fact. 😦

      We moved on the 1st of July and before the first week was out I had the first clue that she hates it with a passion. July 1st was a wednesday and on the 5th when I came back from church, as I stepped off of the elevator on the 6th floor, I heard HOWLING, from my apartment. Not crying and whining. Not whimpering….HOWLING! Like she was mourning my death or hers. Apparently she had been doing that most of the time I was gone. The walls are made of concrete so I’m not sure how many people heard through their own walls, but if they were in the hallway, oh man, yeah there was no way of missing that awful sound, trust me. Mary is almost 13 years old, but she has a very powerful set of lungs.

      So the next day I call and set up a vet appointment for the following day to see about getting her yearly shots (they were due at the end of the month of July) and seeing about how I could help her adjust to this new place and if possible getting something that would take the edge of her anxiety and keep us from being kicked out on top of that. Even the best of neighbors are only going to overlook so much.

      I explained to the Vet that Mary has never been like this before. Shoot, even when I left to go run errands she wouldn’t bark if someone knocked on the door. Family and friends were the ones who clued me in on that when they would come for a visit and I wasn’t there. They could hear her prancing and walking around by the door but she wouldn’t bark unless I was home. She’s just always been a quiet girl unless I’ve been near. We talked about her age and options and it wasn’t pretty.

      Even though we went from one apartment building to another one, everything is different.

*I’ve completely disrupted her life where everything is changed

*She’s less than 3 months away from being 13 years old

*Caracts, the Vet said that she can still see rather well but it’s just going to get worse

      So the solution was two fold or so it seemed. 1.) I was to do exercises with her, which I am still working on. Leaving her in the apartment and going outside the apartment for a minute at a time and then coming back. Retraining her for my absence so to speak and increasing the time each day. And 2.) Giving her a dose of a medication called, ACE that is to work as a doggie tranqualizer.

      The Vet asked me…Did I want to take the edge off of her before I leave? Or do I want to just have her full out sleep while I’m gone? My thought was just to take the edge off. This medication takes 3 hours to fully get into her system and be working. So if I want to leave around 3 or 3:30pm then I need to give this medication no later than noon of the same day and it lasts for about 8-10 hours.

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I had only given Mary a half of a ACE pill. Right before I left to wash clothes. She rolled out of that little bed and then rolled over to face me and the look on her face before I took her picture was like, "What happened? How did I get off the bed?"

      So…..I gave her a half of a pill. These pills are already marked so that it’s easy to break a pill in half or even into fourths. Which is handy. And it’s a 75 mg pill. I was definitely praying that this would work. I mean I don’t want her miserable and I also don’t want us to be kicked out of the building right? So I give her the medication and I wait a longer period of time. I waited 4 hours, thinking it’s going to work and she’s going to go to sleep because she can’t walk a straight line. When I took her out to potty and she squatted she tipped over. I leave with clothes to wash, come back an hour later and she’s HOWLING again.

      So, a few days later I tried again. I had to leave, I had a few errands that I had to run and I knew that I would only be gone just over a hour, because I was taking the bus and the other part of the time I would be walking. I wasn’t going to be gone all that long. I gave her a pill and waited 4 hours again and then left. I hurried because I wasn’t sure what would happen after I left. Granted Mary didn’t get up to walk me to the apartment door, but I thought that meant that she would soon be fast asleep, that’s the normal thought of what was going to happen, right?

      I hurried and I hurried and made it home as quickly as I could. I was anxious and yet dreading when the elevator would open because I was a bit scared of what I would hear. Would I hear silence? Would I hear Mary howling? Would there be neighbors pounding on the ouside of my door? I just didn’t know….

      And the time comes, the elevator stops at my floor, the door opens and I step out. And there it was….I could hear her whimpering, whining and crying….I’m truly STUMPED! Mary is just not happy here when I’m not here. At all. There for awhile she was doing better I thought and then there was someone who stepped onto the elevator when I got back from running an errand and the woman was complaining about Mary and didn’t know it was us. I thoroughly apologized to her.

      The building manager and the asisstant manager told me that it just takes time and that all we can do is try to ride it out and keep trying. That Mary has to have time to adjust and to keep trying to work with her. And then it was pointed out to me that it’s in my lease about no barking or whining and all after 10pm which the neighbor that pointed that out was smiling and trying to tell me to lighten up. Dogs are gonna bark during the day. Granted there is a difference between howling and whining.  Which Mary, even when I have to leave for just a little bit to run errands or whatever, is never left alone later than 6pm.

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Tired & happy from a long walk that we had

      A friend of mine here in town, made the comment about what a fighter and how determined this little girl (Mary) is, because her dog who is on the same medication and goes to sleep. Her dog is twice Mary’s size and weight takes the same thing and it puts her dog out. Anyway, my friend mentioned what a fighter Mary is because she was/is so determined to not sleep and will cry for me through the medication until I *listen* and come home to her.

      So far nothing has worked, medication, those exercises and also leaving a movie on the tv so that she can listen to it while I’m gone. I know it’s going to be okay eventually, it’s just waiting to get to that point. At least the last few times she hasn’t actually howled, it’s been whining and crying when I step off the elevator. Which I never want her to ever be that upset, I want her to be able to relax and have a comfortable life. At the very least a nap on her own when I leave for a bit.

      I have a new respect for anyone who has a furbaby that has any type of anxiety disorder. Not that I didn’t before, it’s just now….I have a deeper understanding of what you’re going through.

      Until next time. Love on those furkids! 🙂

Kari Lee