Living with an Old Dog

As of this month, I have had little Daner Butt in my life for 14 years. Dane is the first dog to ever bond with me. Instantly he was mine and I was his. What an adventure we have been on ever since! He has always had an old soul, not one for playing very often. He would clearly look down on the other dogs in the family for their more playful natures. Dane was all about observing and being served.

Now that he is actually an old dog, I have to serve him even more. In the past year, Dane has quit jumping on and off of furniture. At first it was a bit of an issue to remember to lift him down. I would leave a room as I normally would, Dane snuggled on the bed or couch, only to hear a sad little cry after a few minutes. Then I’d remember I needed to lift him down, he could no longer jump down to come follow me. I’d find him scooted all the way to the edge of the furniture, straining to see where I had gone. Talk about breaking one’s heart!

In the past eight months, Dane has been a major drain on my sleep habits which is not helping anything in my life. His entire life Dane has had the occasional night during which he gets up several times and likes to meander the yard, sniffing at god-knows-what. It started going from an occasional night of being woke up several times to nearly every night. It went from a few times a night to every hour to three hours at max. I was exhausted!

I’d go to bed only to have Dane wake me up after an hour, crying, laying at the edge of the bed. I’d lift him down and he would make a beeline for the water dish. I would block him because in my mind if he drank water he’d have to go out again and I wanted sleep. I’d put him outside, he’d do his thing and dutifully come back in. This process would happen over and over again throughout the night, for months. Wake up, block him from the water dish, put him out, let him in, block him from the water dish, back to bed, wake up…

Before anyone jumps to conclusions and think I am ignoring a medical condition with my dog, somewhere after 7 am he lets me sleep. He sleeps peacefully for hours after that point. If I have a lazy day off we’ll snuggle in bed for hours at a time, me watching tv, him sleeping happily. So I knew
that him going out was not a medical necessity, something else was going on.

The first plan of attack was the thought Dane needed more exercise/stimulation. Despite the fact it was winter, we started walking in the evenings, at least until the really cold weather hit. For a day or two it seemed to help but after that it was business as usual.

As the cold weather set in, Dane’s arthritis became more apparent and after talking with the vet we put him on a joint supplement. I thought, “Maybe now I’ll get some sleep. Maybe he was in discomfort from arthritis and now that he isn’t, he won’t get up as much.” No dice. He was still getting me up.

I tried diffusing lavender oil in my bedroom at night to help knock me out, but hopefully it would also relax the dogs. I considered drugging Dane with Benadryl. (I never did but the thoughts that go through a person’s sleep deprived mind at 3 am are not always pretty. I can’t tell you how many times I fantasized about putting him to sleep just so I could get some sleep).

A few weeks ago Dane woke up at night as he usually does. He immediately drank some water. I didn’t try to block him from the water dish as it didn’t seem to help either way. Then he looked at me to be lifted back into the bed. Confused but happy to try and sleep, I lifted him back into the bed and we both fell asleep. A lightbulb went off.

All the months of sleepless nights weren’t happening because he needed to go out, he was thirsty and I wasn’t letting the poor guy drink! Or at least I hoped that’s what it meant. The next night I made Dane sleep in the dog bed rather than my bed. This way he had access to water whenever he wanted it. IMG_0040Suddenly I was getting several hour stretches of sleep at a time. It was lovely!

After a few days of apparent success, I bought three orthopedic, memory foam dog beds. This way I wouldn’t have to worry about a dog not having a bed. Since then, it is usually only twice a night that the boys get me up, usually Dane is the one to wake me. They go out, do their thing, and we all go back to bed.

For anyone wondering, no Dane doesn’t drink every hour at night. I finally realized what was happening. He had been waking me up since he was thirsty. I wouldn’t let him drink, instead throwing him outside. Being the obedient little guy that he can be, he would go, come in and still be thirsty but I’d still deny him water. I’d lift him into bed and he’d settle into sleep for about an hour before his thirst was getting us up again. Poor, thirsty little dog! Now that I am sleeping at night (for the most part anyway) I’d hazard a guess that Dane drinks maybe twice to three times at night.

After all of this I have decided that in the future, no dogs in my bed at night! Right now Frankie still sleeps in my bed but the other two sleep in their dog beds. Any future dogs will be trained from the start to sleep in a dog bed at night. It makes for a much better night of sleep for me. The things I do for this old dog of mine!


Reconnecting with Myself

The past few weeks I’ve been spending some time reconnecting with myself. This month I’ve been investing in myself in ways I haven’t in a long time. I started watching what I’m eating, thanks to Weight Watchers, and I’m down three and a half pounds. I’ve (mostly) given up naps and I’m working to establish a better sleep schedule.Thanks to accompanying a good friend on a makeup shopping trip, I’ve gone back to wearing full make-up, at least for two weeks and counting. I’ve even been disciplined enough to wash my make-up off at the end of the day.

It’s funny how something as small as makeup can make a gal happy. Wearing it reminds me of my days working in salons. When I walk into a Sephora or Ulta and I’m hit with the sweet smells of fragrances and shampoos, it feels like home.

I’ve even been more active at home, running the dishwasher, doing laundry, attacking the weeds. Little things but they add up and they are making me happy.

In the past year I’ve set out on a journey to identify my health issues and they are under control (mostly). I’ve gone back to college, I’ve even stayed on top of cutting the grass this year, unlike last summer. Perhaps some of the last steps (hahahaIMG_0082) of me reclaiming and reconnecting with my life means finding out what makes me happy- on the superficial end of things that has meant short hair, long fake nails, and make-up. On the intellectual side it means working to complete my college degree. On the mental/emotional end, it means speaking up more, expressing my needs, saying no more, and preserving my sanity. Making room in my life for those I love and not worrying so much as to what others think of my life choices.

I am feeling more and more like myself every day and that is a great feeling.

Just a Thought on Hunting

Thanks to the brutal slaughter of Cecil the Lion, thoughts on hunting have been taking over social media. People are (rightly) outraged over the death of this magnificent animal. I am a non-hunter. I am a meat eater but what I eat comes from the store and it is organic, free range. I’ve only fired a gun once and that was at Girl Scout Camp. I’m assuming it was a BB gun, but I couldn’t even tell you.

Growing up in the midwest, hunting is a pretty big deal. Deer hunters and the like wait eagerly for hunting season to begin. I see posts on my social media from people who are excited about November 15th.

Here is the thing I don’t get about hunting… How can you be proud of yourself for killing an animal that you baited and waited for? What skill does it take to set out food, wait for the animal to appear, and then shoot it? Granted you have to have aim but still. It’s not like you tracked the animal through the wild, and had to have knowledge of its habits and whereabouts. You laid out a buffet, sit there probably drinking beer, and then shoot.

I’m not saying that hunting should be outlawed, not when it is done legally. There is an overabundance of deer in Michigan so there is room and even need for hunting. However, poaching, hunting of endangered animals? I think the penalties for that should be much higher to try and discourage it from occurring at all.