Callie did something so adorable and Queen Callie-like yesterday, it deserves its own post.
As many of you know, I have fibromyalgia, and it is severe enough to keep me home just working as a writer. One of the benefits of working from home and choosing my assignments/frequency of blog posts is that I regularly am able to nap. Napping is imperative most days if I want to function past 3pm.
So the dogs are used to our nap routine. I won’t go into the why of it, but when they come upstairs and lay down on either side of me, they get treats. At naptime, Callie lays on my right and Charlie on my left… until he gets down to see if he can find trouble.
Yesterday, Jess was off of work again and came upstairs too, shortly after I gave out the treats. She lay down on the left side – her side.
Callie suddenly gave me a dirty look and got down from the bed. I asked her if she needed to go out, but no. So I laid down a fleece blanket as a potential dog bed and offered it to her, that got a “thank you, but no.” So I opened the bedroom door to let her go downstairs to the couch if she wanted and climbed back in bed.
She immediately followed me back up, racing up her stairs to get in between Jess and me. I looked at her and started to laugh. She was still down at the bottom of the bed and had lain down but was alternating between looking pleadingly at me and shooting daggers at Jess.
Apparently, Jess is no longer allowed to come upstairs for naptime. Or if she does, she better not try to cuddle with me.
Callie, to whom we cater in every way, was not happy until we pulled her up closer to us and started petting her, telling her how much we loved her. And woah, we do, with all our hearts.
I can’t remember if I have said anything about it on here but, I have fibromyalgia (along with chronic pain and chronic fatigue – aren’t those part of fibro?) I was diagnosed when I was 29, 3 years ago, but I likely had it for a couple of years before.
What does this have to do with Callie or Charlie, you might be asking yourself. Nothing and everything.
Fibromyalgia is not really understood yet by doctors or the public, heck, it’s not really understood by the patient who is experiencing it; it’s what’s often called an “invisible illness.” See the great spoon (energy) theory. Technically that was developed by a woman with Lupus, but she has spread it intending to be for all invisible illnesses.
Fibro affects those who suffer from it differently. It’s a nerve disorder of sorts. Some people get numb or tingling or sharp sensations in their faces, some get brutal muscle pain that spreads to their joints. I often suffer from “fibro fog” in which I struggle to think super clearly or say what I am thinking. The words are there, the images are there, but I can’t say them.
And then there is the worst, the flares. Sometimes when it flares up it’s just a bad neck/back/arms for me, but between the moving and all the activity this past month, my body shut down. I have spent the last three days in bed, getting up for food or to let the dogs out to go to the bathroom. I’m recovering, but that’s one of the things fibro does, it will slam you to the ground like a big wave if you don’t plan for rest times.
The dogs have been great, mostly happy to lie in the bedroom with me, especially now that they like to wrestle, but Charlie, as a 5-month-old puppy will do, is starting to go a little crazy. Yesterday, he purposefully antagonized our next door neighbor’s grumpy little Chihuahua TWICE, just so he could outrun her and fly back (I don’t even know how he got away from me the second time.) Thank goodness she’s a friend of ours!
I rescued this breed purposefully, not only out of my love for Cavaliers but because they can also either go or be mellow. I also knew that taking Charlie on meant a few years of craziness before the easy, mellow part – although he’s surprisingly good about that!
I feel like a failure when I hit this cycle again where my flares are so bad they prevent me from doing stuff with my dogs.
Charlie needs a regular training schedule. I can’t promise that. Callie needs to go on daily walks to stay a healthy weight and Charlie too, for weight as he grows, for exercise, and for energy. I can’t promise that either. I was able to when we got them, I was so good with Callie all winter and with Charlie this spring and early summer. And now… guilt
But then, right before we had to move, so many other things suddenly happened – mostly good, but energy-sucking none the less, and I’m back on the old carousel ride.
Fibro, how I hate you.
And how grateful I am to have such a wonderful family who loves and supports me, and my fabulous dogs who may get cheated out of some things but are certainly spoiled in other respects! I just hope it’s good enough.
Before we adopted Callie, we had another puppy named Tucker.
I’m about to admit a lot of stuff that I am not proud of, but I think this is a post that is important to share. We talk about getting the right dog, we talk about the dogs that end up in rescues, we write about the dogs we have and the ones we have rescued. But it is difficult for a dog owner, one that cares so deeply about animals, one that rescued her own puppy mill mama and is working hard to introduce her to everything, to retrain her, to admit that they once out-dogged themselves. But it happens. And in our instance, we got lucky.
I should back up to the beginning.
We decided to get a dog, and I had lived with several different bully breeds/mixes and loved them dearly. I previously had a lab too. I was watching Petfinder all the time, but I also did something stupid, I went on Craiglist pets and found an adorable “pit/lab” mix who was 12 wks old. The owners were getting rid of him because he was already too much for them.
It was instant love, and off we went to meet him/get him.
He’s pretty darn adorable, right?
Life with Tucker started out fantastic. He was fun, sweet, easy to train. He loved to play in the most entertaining ways. He stole the bottom of the cat tower…
As Tuck grew, he began to get wild. Puppy wild of course, but intensely so. I became friends with a woman named Erin who has a southern rescue boxer mix named Eos, a tiny chihuahua, and a huge field with a river running alongside it.
We met about 3 days a week and walked in that area where Tucker could run off leash and swim in the warmer months. Even after an hour or so of that, he was still wound up.
There were several factors my wife and I didn’t consider when we chose a dog. I have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, she works full-time and is more of a cat person than a dog one, although she loves dogs. My fibro began to get worse as the added stress of having Tucker grew, and I kept trying to convince myself that everything was all right. Nobody was really happy. The cats hated him, Tuck wasn’t happy, we were stressed, it was hard.
We began to notice something else, too. When we got Tuck, he had these adorable speckles on his nose. One day my wife looked down at him and said to me, “Where did his speckles go? His nose is just black!”
I took one long look at his face and said, “No, his speckles have just moved back as he has grown.” Along with his snout. He still had a bully head, but not a lab face, and I realized he had to be part Border Collie. That explained the obnoxious herding behavior. It also helped explain the strong reactivity combined with this anxious need to not react badly. Particularly in a dog that was probably an accidental mix.
Erin – the owner of Eos – and I became very close friends, and she began to fall in love with Tucker. Her whole family did, really.
Jess and I struggled with the reality of life with Tucker, but also what it might do to our daughter if we couldn’t keep him. We also agreed that we were committed to Tucker, no matter what he would never end up in a rescue.
Slowly, over the course of a month or so, Erin and her husband, along with Jess and I began to seriously talk about giving Tucker to them. It started as a joke one day. Erin loves animals and always talks about wanting to run a sanctuary, or perhaps doggie daycare. We joked that Tuck should stay with them half the week and with us the other. Not really that funny, but it was our reality at the time.
Finally, we all agreed that it really would be best if Tucker went to live with them. He would be 5 minutes away from us, we would see him all the time, and he would get to run in the field with another big dog several times a day.
It hurt to admit that I couldn’t do it. That I had out-dogged myself. I failed.
Tucker, however, ended up where he needed to be. His dad is his favorite person on earth, his best friend, he still has two kids to play with, and when I come over, and someone says, “Mommy,” if I’m sitting down, he will still climb in my lap. Tuck loves all three mommies. Like any good bully breed – he has a neverending supply of heart.
He’s a much happier dog now.
We would have kept trying, but it would not have been great for anyone. As much as it hurts to admit, I out-dogged myself, and the best thing I ever did for Tucker was give him away.
It took our family almost a year to be ready to even talk about another dog.
So, one very long post later, I have admitted some things I am definitely not proud of, but are part of a discussion that needs to happen. Even those of us who know a lot about dogs, who have a lot of experience and think they know what they are doing, can get way in over their heads. At least I did.
Stories from the life of a rescued puppy mill mama and the second rescue, a puppy Charlie, who arrived seven months later. Dedicated to other stories about rescues as well, particularly those from puppy mills.