Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Daily Dickens: Fresh Air!

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Daily Dickens: A Room with A View...

and a nice bone to pass the time.

When can I chase squirrels?

The Daily Dickens: Let. Me. Out!

Ladies and Gentleman and Canines, May I present, straight from Scotland, via Idaho, Mr. Dickens.  Mr. Dickens recuperates from an operation "down there" so please excuse his moodiness.

And now without further hesitation:

The Daily Dickens: My Little Stoner

Wow, it's Friday and TGIF!  Actually my relief comes next Friday as we come closer to Dickens Restriction-free Recuperation.  All, in all, he's been pretty good, but this no-running, no-jumping, no-chasing, no-walks lifestyle does not suit him at all.  He gets pretty confused when we go out for a potty-break that doesn't result in a walk around the block, but then again he's stoned.

The vet placed him  on an anti-inflammatory, pain medication that he gets every 12 hours.  His mornings are high energy until the pill kicks in, when I hear the "thump," I know he's down for the count.  He hasn't tried to lick or bite the surgical site, yet.  I tell him to leave it alone, or else it's hello cone!

His walks are downright hysterical as he goes for anything that moves moreso than the non-medicated days.  He's wearing a collar, rather than a harness, so steering has been an issue.  Usually he stays pretty much by my side, now he floats from left to right and right to left wherever the wind takes him. 

Compliance is not his strong suit.  He has to work at growing this skillset.  Even in the house, he's jumped on a chair, tried to jump on me, and decided he can climb any old damn set of stairs he pleases despite my protests thank you very much.

Through all of this Dickens and Mom have started to bond.  Before she'd extend her hand for a lick, now he slobbers all over her, which delights her, and she rewards him with a pat on the head.

As for me, well, I'm the just the caregiver, the push-over, and they both know it!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Daily Dickens: Ruff, Rough, Ruff

OMG!  It's been a little rugged here at Rocksalot Cottage.  This is a new chapter in caregiving of the canine persuasion. 

Dickens came home yesterday afternoon.  He reminded me a noodle, all floppy and whimpering.  His latest accessory:  an Elizabethan cone or e-cone to bring it into the 21st Century modernism.  This poor creature could not sleep.  I tried to build a nest around him to support his coned head.  Every single time he lowered  his head to sleep the crackle of the cone woke him.  At one point he propped his nose on the rail of the crate and tried to sleep that way.  Um, no, he'd fall over.  My heart broke.  Really broke. 

Also, sweet Dickens hadn't been to the bathroom since 6 AM Tuesday morning.  After being pumped full of fluids for the surgery I at least expected him to squirt sometime last night.  Nothing.  Not a drop.  He had to be uncomfortable.  The incision, the dental extraction, and now the bladder caused me to have some genuine second thoughts about subjecting the poor pup-boy to so much.

Dickens being Dickens did not miss a meal last night.  The vet instructed me to give him 25% of what I normally fed him, which when you only get 1/3 cup, twice a day ain't much.  The kibble had to be moistened (let's add more fluid to a fluid filled body, ugh), it turned out to be a mixed blessing because he needs hydration.

I've mentioned these folks before, but my primary resource for all things Cairn is the Cairn Terrier Association of America.  These folks are THE BEST.  I reread the "Neutering" section and picked up some pointers, but none mentioned delayed bathroom stuff.  I knew he'd go if only he could sniff a spot.  The cone did not allow for his nose to reach the ground because of the plastic noise against the ground.

This morning I dashed out to buy (wait for it) a baby onesie.  Seems that has been successful for other owners.  Dickens initially protested the garment, but when the cone came off, he made a dash for the door!  Success!  Yes!  This pup sniffed and did what came naturally.  All of a sudden my lively pup emerged as happy as a young pup can be.

My eyes are peeled for any licking/scratching/itching action.  If I have to, he'll need to wear the cone, especially as I sleep.

Right now he's sleeping like a baby.  I'm going to let him make up for lost time.  He deserves the rest.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Daily Dickens: Today's Grind

With Dickens under the knife, I had these grand plans for organizing our kitchen.  Cleaning up.  Improving.  The Betty Crocker, Good Housekeeping, Martha Steward deep cleaning routine.

Instead I wrote, worried, and let the anxiety pour over me waiting for the phone call containing the his surgery results.  I designed a banner for this site.  I wandered over and worked on my book.  I reflected and meditated on questions from author Jon Katz over on Facebook.  Mom had her lunch.  If I weren't so wrung out, I would have tried pacing; however, writing helps me organize my thoughts, calm me down, and give me the space I need to get sorted. 

Jon asked the following:
Do we get the dogs we need?
Are they reflections of us? 

Just as I flipped Mom's grilled cheese and tomato sandwich, the phone rang.  The cheery voice of the vet at the other end.  Dickens came through the surgery well with one complication not associated with his "equipment."  The doctor noticed that he had an embedded baby tooth that should have fallen out last month.  She pulled the tooth much to my relief.  Dickens had a weird habit of grinding his teeth that no chew toy or treat could calm.  I had read that it could be anxiety, so I've been very low key around him so he feels safe.

The vet reported that Dickens sat in his crate awake and alert.  He'll be restricted for the couple of weeks (ever try to keep a Cairn Terrier out of circulation?), but otherwise he'll be fine.  True to his heritage he'll sport an Elizabethan collar during his recuperation, so neighbors can expect a cone head on a leash.  He'll take anti-inflammatory drugs and moist dog food until he heals.  It'll be a challenge as he does every day.

Now back to the answers to the questions Jon Katz posed.  I have no answers.  None.  Zilch.  I know that I've endured a lot of loss over the past 10 years, stuff that sends a soul reeling. He is not a reflection of me.  He might be a reflection of the care I provide; however, too many people have remarked that his eyes contain the inner wisdom of an old soul.  There's something.  I've seen it as well.  I know that  I had shut down over these past few months. I'd like to thinks Dickens sniffed out that last glimmer of light remaining in my heart.  He's got the challenge.

At the end of it all, the worry, the anxiety, and the cost brings my pup-boy back to me.  Where it will lead?  I don't know, but I'm grateful to have the chance to see.

The Daily Dickens: Pup and Circumstance

Dickens woke this morning with an air of apprehension.  He did his business and I returned him to his crate.  He senses something's going on as his breakfast didn't arrive as promised.  Dickens didn't fuss, but instead seemed quietly resigned to what the day holds.

Armed with a cup of caffeine and just about presentable to go out, I led Dickens outside for another chance to empty his little self (although, since he hadn't had anything since 8 PM last night, there couldn't be too much in there.)  He'd heard Brady across the street barking, so he joined the chorus as menacing as he could muster. 

The joy of Sunday's graduation from puppy school has led to another milestone - neutering.  This issue has plagued me since Dickens entered my life.  He's a cute pup.  He'd probably sire cute pups with the right dam.  In fact, I entered the notion of breeding him, but stopped short after he mounted the love of his young life, a poodle named "Lily."  Thankfully, Lily had her right of passage, but I could only imagine Dickens raising his right paw in Puppy Paternity Court.  He'd answer the question, "Why did you do it?" with the response, "I felt like it." 

Aside from the social implications of a puppy au naturel, there's are far greater health concerns.  Dickens might be the only pup I'll ever own.  I can't imagine walking around in the later years chasing pups (even though such a scene would bring me joy.)  Neutered dogs do not suffer the complications that their unaltered counterparts  experience.  Some reports suggest that Dickens might mellow a tad, but I accept this as an uncertainty.

Yes, I'm a neurotic pup-mom.  I admit this freely.  My heart tore as I handled him over to the vet tech.  Incredibly, I couldn't believe the questions pouring from me, such as "He's a double dumper.  He's only gone once this morning.  He doesn't go in the evening after 6 PM, even though I have him out multiple times at night.  What about this evening's meal?  Can he attend training this Sunday?  How will you administer the anesthetic?"  For some reason, I sounded more someone interrogating a prisoner of war, than quiet, gentle interrogatories.  At least, that's how it sounded to me.  Stress.

The vet tech's kindness and Dickens's willingness to jump in her arms gave me a bit of comfort.  He's a good dog.  I'll busy myself with housework until the call arrives to take him home.  The house feels empty to me.  I'm doing this for the right reasons, but my heart can't wrap itself around the fact that the little pups I wanted  will not come to pass.  But I'll have this pup - this bundle of fierceness and love, that in itself has to be the greatest gift.

Until then, I'm waiting for the phone call.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Daily Dickens: Snow Encounters of a Nor'eastern Kind

Well, Dickens went ballistic when I tried to put on his snow coat (replete with hood), so we ventured out in his waistcoat.  This happened to be a short trip out into the wind.  Dickens had never seen snow before this afternoon.  May this be the first and last time he sees it again!  Wishful thinking!

Our thoughts and prayers go to our friends to the south in New York & New Jersey.  A Nor'easter they didn't need.

And, get ready Snow Encounters of a Nor'eastern Kind...

Rocksalot Cottage: A Letter to Mother Nature

Dear Mother Nature:

Knock it off.  Really.  What are you thinking? 

First, you sent us a summer with unbearable heat, followed by a small, yet discernable earthquake in Maine.  Then to really get the juices flowing, a hurricane we named "Sandy" brought incredible destruction to parts of the East Coast.  Epic. (And trust me, unless you count the sand in folks' basements, there was nothing sandy about that mess.)   Now we're on the edge of a Nor'easter that's producing snow.

Please get your pretty little head out of the Southern Hemisphere and quiet things down around here.  These poor folks in Jersey have to evaculate again!

Let's try for a nice picturesque winter, rather than an artic armwrestling match, OK?

All the best,


P.S.  Thanks for last winter's reprieve.  Much appreciated.

The Daily Dickens: Small Dog Warnings

This fall has not lived up to its advertising.  Sure, Dickens and I strolled through some gorgeous foliage, but Mother Nature must be experiencing a bit of indigestion in the past week as yet another storm has been promised for today - a Nor'easter.  Nor'easters pack quite a punch so I'll be ever vigilant today.  High winds, rain, oh, and did I mention snow?  Up to an inch predicted for today.  Not a lot, but this caregiver and her pupster are NOT ready for the white stuff.  At least I'm not and I know the folks in New Jersey & New York City dread this storm's arrival.  So what can we do?

Here's what we can do:  Grab your coffee, fire up your computer, go to, and make a donation.  Large or small, it doesn't matter.  You'll receive a dual benefit:  you'll have given to a very good cause and the act of giving will warm your heart all the day long.

Today, Dickens encounters his first snowfall.  I'll record the moment and post it here.  Should be fun!

Please and thank you!


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Daily Dickens: Tuesday Tension Tamer

My nerves are on edge today:  Mercury enters retrograde, Superstorm Recovery, prep for a n'oreaster, and Election Day, so I thought I'd share something that makes me smile (and a tad proud) of Mr. Dickens. 

I admit my voice sounded shrill as I gave the command.  Neurotic pup-mom speak for I was afraid he'd chuck me the bird and go for the ball!


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Rocksalot Cottage: Turn Back Time?

The meteorological event has passed, but the storm certainly isn't over, not by a longshot.  The preparations leading up to and during the event were well worth it, but the after-storm fatigue caught up to me. 

Mom and Dickens are fine.  That's all that matters.  They are with me in this little space.  I am beyond grateful.  Over-the-moon grateful.

The source of my sleeplessness came from two darn trees that aren't mine that I've written about in an earlier post.  I've asked my neighbor to please cut them down.  The trees are dead.  The day of the storm the "popping" of the breaking branches set my nerves on edge.  My thoughts ran to "if these trees go, they'll take out the kitchen."  I should have grabbed some sleep, but those trees kept me awake, wide awake (that and an insane amount of coffee)

As I looked at the devastation along the New Jersey coast, the inland flooding, and the shots of the partially illuminated New York City skyline my heart broke for those who suffered losses of the humankind as well as coverage of my own state's coastline.  To have life up-ended in one live through that horror of howling winds, drenching rain, firestorms taking homes and a sea driven into one's own living room mercilessly... unspeakable. 

Obviously, a storm of this power and magnitude changes things.  The coastline has changed.  The vegetation drowned.  Trees that won't see next spring.  But it's the residents whose memories of Hurricane Sandy are altered...different...changed.  That night forever burned in their consciousness as they truly live day to day in places not their homes.  Those survivors of Hurricane Sandy are changed.  They are not the people they were last week, yesterday, or an hour ago.  Their time means finding a way to live.  Finding a home to call their own.  Waiting for gasoline.  Waiting for food.  Waiting for the power to be restored.  Fighting insurance companies.  Time mired knee-deep in forms.  Watching the clock tick as they await an answer.  Their time no longer their own.

We can help them by being there for them in the form our time, talent and treasure.  How?  It's easy.  Stop what you're doing right now.  Go online to and make a donation.  Go through your closets and donate "I never liked this anyway" clothing to the Salvation Army.  Or, sign up for Red Cross classes and volunteer to help with the clean-up.  It's a good use of time to make survivors time better.  Truly, this works!  And, volunteering has a boomerang effect, what you put out there comes back to you.

This morning the Internet offered reminders of the upcoming time change, such as " Don't forget to turn your clocks back!"  I wish it were that simple.  I wish making this all go away could be rectified by turning our clocks back one week.  I'll bet those hardest hit wish the same.

Until next time...