It’s A Dog’s Life… Part III


Poppy is a chewer.

I spend my days constantly watching her. I have learned that if she is unattended, for even a minute, she will find something to chew on.

Therefore… I watch.

She has a particular penchant for drinks coasters.

Whilst busy painting upstairs last week, I was enjoying some unusual peace and quiet. As I had left the two dogs contentedly sleeping next to each other, I felt sure the silence was nothing to be concerned about.

Wrong!

After about an hour, I checked on them and found that poppy had been hard at work on yet another coaster.

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Moving the coasters onto the sideboard is no deterrent. She seems to take it as a challenge to scale the back of the sofa in order to reach the contra banned treasure. I must remove all coasters from any surface and move them on to the, as yet unreachable, kitchen counters, or else we are condemned to ring marks on our surfaces.

Tissues. Tissues are cocaine for Poppy.

I must always, always ensure that the kitchen chairs are tucked underneath the table whenever I leave the room, or else I am certain to return to find Poppy happily sitting in the middle of the table, surrounded by shredded tissues.

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Worse still, she has no issue sticking her head into the wastebasket to fish out disposed-of tissues to make into gross confetti.

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I admit I am bit of a neat freak.

I hate clutter and mess and, as a result, I own several storage boxes.

One of these boxes doubles as an occasional table beside my favourite chair in the TV room. It is a very pleasant, chocolate brown, faux leather box, to match the REAL leather sofa that Poppy has already kindly destroyed for us.

Immediately upon arrival at the house, she began to chew on the box. I decided it was not a massive issue as I could always turn the box around to hide the hole she had created. Realising she was not at the end of her chewing phase, we opted to duct tape the hole up and leave it in situ, just in case she chewed another corner off.

Just as well we did… I present the duct taped box.

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Do not be mistaken. Poppy does not limit her destruction to the confines of the house.

Lately, we have been enjoying some very rare and very welcome sunshine here in Ireland.

The OH and I have been relishing sitting outside in the garden at any given opportunity. Due to Poppy’s relentless campaign of terror on my much loved and cared for flower beds, we have purchased a long line and a stake, which limits her running around to just shy of the flower beds. The line does not, however, deny her access to our deck.

It turns out the half-rotting deck is ambrosia to Poppy. We frequently hear a ripping noise and then see this flash of white, as she makes off with a piece of decaying wood.

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Our vague and distant plans to replace the deck with a stone patio seem to be becoming more pressing. We like to joke that Poppy is helping us with the removal of the old deck…

Her baby teeth appear to have all been lost and replaced by her forever teeth, so I am at a loss as to why she continues to chew everything in sight. She has more chew toys than any dog has a right to own, and yet she prefers to gnaw on my furniture, shoes, anything she can get her furry little jaws on.

So I continue to watch over her, my throat sore from repeatedly yelling, “Poppy! No!”, doomed to never again sit for any period of time without having to leap out of my seat to take some stolen item out of her mouth.

Will this phase ever end I ask myself…

Will it???

Ciao

💋

It’s A Dog’s Life… Part II


My beautiful little Bichon Frise, Lily, AKA the Love Of My Life, has many, many delightful qualities.

Her reaction to being groomed is not one of them.

As soon as the slicker brush appears, my adorable little bundle of white fluff morphs into the hound from hell. Regardless of how gently I use the brush, she growls like a demon at me.

For some reason she allows me to brush the hair on her head and face without too much of a struggle, but as soon as the bristles touch her back she bares her comically tiny little teeth at me. I have all but given up on any attempts to brush her legs as the snarling and biting is simply not worth the hassle.

But she saves her most mournful howls of despair for when I try to brush her glorious tail. The OH and I have resorted to what would appear to be a torturous ritual, whereby he holds her little head in his hands while I try to get the job done as quickly and painlessly as possible. The cries of dismay and distress that emanate from my little darling are heartbreaking.

Our solution, albeit a costly one, is to frequently bring her to the groomer. Not that this has been any easier to be honest. After a few trips, the groomer hinted that she might not take Lily again, as the biting and snarling was quite bad.

I despaired! If a professional found it hard to cope how on earth would I ever manage?

And then an angel was sent to us from heaven. A new staff member at the groomer, the wonderful Zowie, took Lily under her wing.

I could tell they would get along as Lily jumped into her arms the first time we met her. This was after being carried up the driveway, once Lily realized where she was!

Zowie adores Lily and has often told me she doesn’t find her difficult to groom at all. She did notice the issue with her tail however, and suggested that perhaps she has an underlying muscle strain around the tail area from her past life with her former, less loving, parents.

As I have shared with you all before, Lily came to us at 18 months with a badly matted coat and a tail that needed to be completely shaved to remove all knots and matts. I can only wonder what torture she had to endure in her last home, where she was either not groomed at all, or forcibly groomed at some point early on in her life. Because of this suspicion I find it particularly heart wrenching to feel that I am causing her any pain when I attempt to brush her.

When I return to the groomer to collect her, my little Lily is always so happy to see me and leaps into my arms, smelling better that I think I ever do!

The last time I collected her I had to do a double take. Zowie had so much fun with her that she had plaited her long ears and finished them off with a bow!

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I laughed all the way home, watching her little plaits bounce as she walked ahead of me.

Although Lily was not a happy girl… I think her face says it all don’t you?

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I, perhaps meanly, left the braids in place until the OH came home from work, as I simply could not deprive him of the sight in the flesh.

It was great joy that Lily shook her beautiful little head as I unraveled the plaits later that evening to reveal amazing corkscrew curls.

Between professional grooms we still struggle to keep her coat matt free.

I wish, more than anything, that I could undo what ever trauma that she carries from her past, so the grooming could be the lovely bonding experience I read about in all the training books.

My only solace is that she has a very forgiving nature and recovers extremely quickly once the brushing is over. She never holds a grudge and loves me, despite the torture I inflict on her.

That really is love, that is!

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Ciao,

💋

A Piercing Debate…


So, little North West has had her tiny one-year old earlobes pierced.

This has prompted much debate on social media and TV. I watched this morning as a vox pop was carried out on Irish breakfast TV about the issue.

Overwhelmingly, the public were not in favour of piercing a child’s ears until, wait for it, communion age. Almost everyone said they would wait until the child was old enough to “choose for herself”, i.e.; age 7.

The paradox that they would wait for their daughter to decide about her own ear piercing, but would not allow the child to choose her own religion, or whether she even wanted a religion, was lost on them.

I put it to you, which is worse… puncturing tiny holes in a child’s ears, a relatively painless and completely reversible procedure, or years of indoctrination into a religion that has fostered bigotry, misogyny and sexual abuse for decades?

The Catholic Church opposes both contraception and abortion, both of which are, in mine and thousands of feminist’s opinion, fundamental foundations to women’s social and economic freedom.

The Church is blatantly sexist in so far as it will only ordain men, instantly depriving half of the population of equal rights.  In 2010, the Vatican declared that the attempted ordination of women would be a “grave sin” and placed it on par with paedophilia. (The irony of this statement is almost unbearable.)

Any bishop who carried out the ordination ceremony would be excommunicated, along with the woman who dared to dream of being a priest.

During the 1920s the Catholic Church actively campaigned against women getting the right to vote. Pope Pius XI declared that women’s liberation would distract them from their true vocation of “motherhood and home-making”.

When tampons were invented during the 1940s, the Irish Catholic Church suspected that they, “could harmfully stimulate young girls at an impressionable age”, and subsequently got them banned from our shelves.

Until as recently as 1967, following Vatican II, women were expected to remain at home for up to six weeks after childbirth, before going to be “Churched” in a “cleansing” ritual blessing by the priest. Many women over the years have spoken of their sense of ostracism they felt prior to receiving this “blessing”.

The unspeakably shameful recent discovery of 800 infant bodies in a sewage tank in West Ireland, can be directly related to 1940’s Ireland and the public shaming of women who had premarital sex, which resulted in a baby.  These women were carted away to “mother and baby” homes, which, in reality, were little more than prisons.  The children that survived were brandished illegitimate and either adopted out of the country, or sent to the notorious “industrial schools” for a life of misery and abuse.

In this country, my country, under the watch of the Catholic Church, women were subjugated for decades.

Children, little boys and little girls, were beaten and raped by paedophiles, who were routinely discovered, only to be moved on to pastures new and fresh young meat.

Let us not even venture into the dark and murky history of the Catholic Church and it’s sympathy with the Nazi regime during World War II.

Given this shameful history, and the Church’s continued stance on (un)equal rights for women, I cannot understand how anyone could think whether or not to pierce a baby’s ears was a more important decision than whether or not to impose an entire religious ideology on to a developing human being.

Having been raised in the Catholic faith myself, educated by nuns my entire childhood, and still bearing the scars of shame and guilt this left me with to this day, I personally would consider the piercing of little North West’s ears a triviality, in relative terms.

The people in the TV vox pop are certainly entitled to their opinions, but I wonder have they really given the idea that they presume a child will make her communion, but would not presume to pierce her ears without consultation, much deep thought.

Sadly, I suspect not.

Ciao

💋

Note: I firmly believe that people have the right to choose and practice any religion that they want to, and this post was never intended to disrespect any individual person’s choice.  

Caught In The Act


The OH and myself were staying at a particularly posh hotel.

It was the morning of our checkout and, stuffed to the gills with a massive breakfast, we returned to our room to shower and pack up.

As he showered, I dressed and watched some TV.

After a while, it occurred to me that he had been in the bathroom for an extraordinary amount of time.

The door to the bathroom was ajar, so I peeped in to see what was delaying him.

And I saw him…

Head bowed, shoulders hunched, the hotel complimentary robe agape, face fixed in complete focus, there he was, pumping away.

His entire body shuddered with effort as his bicep rapidly flexed. Sweat dripping down his forehead in the still-steamy room, his breathing laboured as he resolutely kept ramming his hand up and down, up and down.

He was not going to stop until he had drained every, single, precious, last drop…                                 from the bathroom shampoo, conditioner and body cream dispensers and into our travel bottles.

Struggling to catch my breath, I doubled over laughing at the sight of the half-naked OH filling bottles with the incredibly expensive luxury brand goodies, the retail price of which I had lamented upon the previous night.

Turning towards me, red-faced, from embarrassment or exertion, I cannot be sure, my big, bearded, manly OH simply shrugged at me and muttered, “but my hair has never felt so soft”…

😈

Have you ever ‘stolen’ from a hotel room?

Do you consider complimentary toiletries fair game, or is it technically still theft?

What is the biggest or worst thing you have ever taken from a hotel room?

Go on… spill!

Ciao

💋

Facing the truth… Part II


To rehash an old line, today is the first day of the rest of my life! (well, technically, yesterday was…)

Recent grumblings about my weight and lack of fitness has spurned me into action. The OH has agreed to join me in my mission to get healthy again.

To maximize our chances of success, the OH and I resolutely polished off all the alcohol in the house on Sunday night and have vowed to not purchase any more. (Tough work but it had to be done…)

I have been to the health shop and stocked up on Milk Thistle, Artichoke capsules and various other potions designed to detox the body.

My fridge is stocked with nectarines, melon and veggies, and four large grapefruit sit in my fruit bowl.

Since the weekend I have single-handedly downed gallons of water. I might consider simply setting up house in the downstairs loo during the day, due to the increased bladder activity related to my water consumption.

The dogs have been walked more frequently and for longer than ever before, which results in a peaceful house for me, as they lie snoozing most of the day now.

I have been religiously massaging body oil into my skin post shower and already my thighs are feeling smoother and tighter.

I am waiting for my damned foot injury to completely heal and then I plan a seriously sweaty date with the clothes horse/cross trainer that is gathering dust in my spare room.

It is with sincere hopefulness that I write and record these changes today. My goal is that by sharing my mission with you guys and gals, I have committed to clean living and will feel the need to account for myself if I trip up.

My plan is to not deny myself any food I want, in order to compensate for my abstinence and my increased exercise.

Life has to have some rewards! I savoured a delicious mint choc chip ice cream in a buttery waffle cone at the weekend, basking in the sunshine and it was bliss. Foregoing my evening glass of vino will not be as arduous if I can look forward to little treats like that from time to time.

I apologise in advance for any angry/sad/demented ranting that may occur over the next week or so as I adjust to my new regime.

I will try to keep any outbursts under control.

So, wish me luck friends!

Ciao

💋

Facing the truth…


Ageing sucks.

I have noticed recently that I am starting to truly feel the ageing process kick in.

The mirror is not my friend.

I see more lines than before, more grey hairs, more flesh around my middle.

I have the hands of a sixty year old, because I have never bothered to use hand cream.

I feel aches and pains more often. My joints are stiff and sore.

I struggle to remember the last time I did not feel tension and burning in my shoulders and lower back.

More and more often I find myself in a room with no idea why I went into it.

I struggle to remember things or recall words I need.

 😰

To be fair, a lot of my woes could be a result of letting my once uber healthy lifestyle slip.

Once upon a time, I was a die-hard exerciser, healthy eater, moderate drinker and non-smoker.

I have at least stayed off the cigarettes, but that is about all I have in common with my former self.

Last summer I weighed a stone less than I do now.

I proudly sported an enviable set of abs and defined biceps.

My legs were slim and I had the much sought-after thigh gap.

I had cheekbones and clavicles on show for god’s sake!

Today I sit at my kitchen table feeling my jeans dig in around my thighs and stomach.  My bra feels restrictive and the cups are overflowing.

My face, reflected on the Mac Book screen, no longer flaunts bone structure, but instead taunts me with a slack jawline and sagging skin.

When I weighed less I had more energy.

I did not suffer in the heat due to any extra insulation. I felt lighter and springier and, I’ll admit it, happier in myself.

I need to make changes.

My diet needs to return to my once healthy regime of salads, fruit and lots of water.

I need to cut back on how much I drink. The truth is, the sadness brought about by my physical changes and increasing aches and pains has resulted in me often seeking solace in a glass, or several, of wine. This must stop.

I also need to reacquaint myself with daily exercise. The funny thing is that I know that exercise actually increases energy over time, but I find myself stuck in a lazy and apathetic frame of mind when it comes to actually getting that sports bra on and getting active.

Using ageing as an excuse is simply not acceptable to me anymore.

I have a body that works and I should put it to use.

I should fuel it properly with wholesome foods and push it to become stronger by moving it more often.

I am sure that not only will my physical appearance improve, but also my mood will be lifted and my thoughts will be clearer.

Stretching and using my body will most likely help relieve some my aches and pains, rather than add to them.

So what is stopping me?

That is the question…

Ciao

💋

It’s a dogs life…


My life revolves around two tiny, fluffy little dogs.

I exaggerate not.

I got my Bichon Frise, Lily, (aka Love Of My Life), for my 40th birthday, last October.

It was truly love at first sight.

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She sleeps with me, watches me shower, follows me from room to room, even the bathroom. She is my constant companion.

We bought her, but from a home where she was unwanted and neglected, so we consider her a rescue dog. She came to us at the age of 18 months, with matted fur, very little training and poor social skills.

We showed her complete love and affection, worked on her toilet training and got her matts shaved out of her coat.

After several months we saw a change in her as she relaxed and began to trust that this was her forever home.

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We celebrated her second birthday with great joy.

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One issue that was a major cause for concern was her distress at being left alone for any length of time. We feared that in her first home she had been neglected and possibly left alone all day.

Lily awaiting my return

Her panic and distress at being left alone has resulted in no holidays and a grand total of TWO nights out to the cinema for the OH and I since she arrived. Whenever I left the house on errands, I always rushed back, feeling massive guilt for leaving her at home.

She got so upset at any absence of me in the room that the OH and I decided to get her a little sister.

Poppy, the Cavachon, joined our household in April of this year.

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We had no idea the disruption and heartache she would bring.

Lily hated her on sight.

My little girls nose was put seriously out of joint by the interloper.

The OH fell head over heels in love with Poppy immediately, much as I had done with Lily. Many arguments as to whether or not Poppy could remain with us, given Lily’s level of distress at her presence, followed. Tears were shed on both sides and the house turned frosty.

My heart broke to see my once happy little dog cower in the corner as Poppy stole her food, her toys and her bed. My Lily just was not the same anymore and I couldn’t bear it.

After a few days, we took Poppy to our wonderful vet for her first health check, only to be told she had a congenital heart defect that was completely fatal. Our options were to allow her to progressively decline and eventually die at around a year old, or to opt for surgery that would completely cure the defect.

There was no question about it. We were not people who could be responsible for any animal suffering.  Given that the OH was flatly refusing the idea of returning her, or trying to rehome her, we decided we could not bear to bond with her and then wait for her to die.

We had no pet insurance and the surgery was due to cost up to €2,000.

The unscrupulous man we had bought her from was not returning our calls at all. We felt he needed to know the situation and stop breeding form the bad genetic line.

I hope karma has something special in store for him.

Our vet pleaded our case to the vet hospital and managed to get us a discounted charity fee of €1,000, which was a blessing.

I have to admit that the three days that Poppy was away for her surgery were a wonderful respite from the fighting and despair that had become the norm between the two dogs.

I savoured life with just Lily, as it had been in ‘the good old days’. We enjoyed three days of blissful togetherness.

However Poppy returned after the three days, full of energy, sporting a massive scar and funny little shaved belly. As if nothing had happened at all, she tore around the house at warp speed.

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This dog was unbreakable!

She proceeded to chew everything in sight.

Despite buying her a large collection of chew toys, she continued to favour my leather sofa, leather storage box, slippers, and chair legs, anything but the toys.

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Her little puppy nails scratched the sofa to shreds. So much so in fact that it is now covered by a throw to hide the ruins.

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She learned to jump up onto the kitchen chairs very early on and I have frequently retuned to the kitchen to find her perched on top of the dining table as if it were her own personal throne.

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She is single-pawedly destroying my much loved and well-tended garden. Fast as a cheetah, she is nigh on impossible to catch once she starts the garden rampage.

On the bright side, she took to house training very fast and has very few accidents now. She also walks very well on the leash, which is still a struggle with Lily.

Lily is adapting to the new arrangement, slowly but surely.

Lily prefers to lie in bed after I get up and wander downstairs at her own pace. She is not what you could call a “morning girl”.

Unfortunately, Poppy is.

As soon as Lily appears at the kitchen door Poppy dives on her for a morning cuddle and play. Lily growls, bares her tiny little teeth and a scuffle breaks out every morning. I have grown accustomed to this and tend to ignore it until it dies down after a few minutes.

My day ahead will be filled with keeping a close eye on Poppy to intercept any illegal chewing activities and countless trips to the garden for toilet breaks. I seem to spend an inordinate portion of my day circling the garden waiting for either dog to do their business.

But one day…

A breakthrough!

The other day I noticed the two dogs sharing a seat in the lounge, curled up together snoozing. They also now instigate play with each other, which still involves some snarling, but appears to be mostly harmless.

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They chase each other around the garden, trampling all over my flower beds. Lily has adopted some of Poppy’s bad habits and is now rooting around in my plantings as she never did before.

Poppy watches Lily’s every move, and we can see her learning so much from Lily. It’s lovely to observe her looking up to her big sister with total adoration in her brown, (slightly crossed), eyes.

I am feeling more hopeful each day that they will continue to bond, it is still very early days after all.

My Lily still knows she is my number one, my Love Of My Life. She maintains the privilege of being allowed to sleep on my bed, snuggled between me and the OH. Poppy is confined to her crate in the utility room at night, which suits her fine as long as she has her blanket and toys for company.

Each morning I am woken early by Poppy’s barking, demanding release and a toilet break.

I get up, do the honours and make a coffee. My days of sleeping in with Lily are long gone.

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I sit and enjoy the peace and quiet, as Poppy licks my toes under the table, and await the morning scuffle that will inevitably occur when Lily rocks up to the party.

Once the carnage is over, I get down on the floor and allow two gorgeous little dogs to climb and nibble all over me and I think perhaps Poppy has her place here after all.

Perhaps the ruined sofa, boxes, cushions and chairs are worth it for double the doggie love.

It has not been an easy couple of months but I am starting to see light at the end of the tunnel.

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Ciao

💋

* I feel it is only right that I should reference, highly recommend and thank rachelmankowitz.wordpress.com for inspiring me to write about my fluffy daughters.  🌻 🐶