Archive for the ‘Dogs’ Category

OK. So where do I start?

In the middle of December Gus stopped eating. He simply refused his dinner one day. After giving him a few days to get over it in case it was just stomach upset (Doctor Google informing me that a loss of appetite in a dog isn’t a cause for alarm unless it lasts more than 2 days), I spent pretty much an entire week with him at the vet (first our own, then a specialist) as they ruled out one diagnosis after another and he got sicker and weaker. His gums were practically white, he had no energy, and he moved like he was a hundred years old. As I was getting him down the stairs onto the subway platform to go to the specialist, a guy waiting for the train said to his friend “Wow, look at that old dog! He’s got to be like 15!”

Gus is 5.

Anyway, as I said, the easy and inexpensive conditions got ruled out one by one.

Worms? No.
Had he eaten a foreign object? No.
Had he gotten into some kind of poison? No.

Eventually it got down to ulcers vs cancer. And it didn’t look good. An ultrasound showed a mass on his spleen which we were told was 80% likely to be cancer and even if it wasn’t would eventually burst and kill him anyway. He had a biopsy for the spleen mass and an endoscopy for the gut bleeding and…

…he didn’t have cancer.

The spleen mass wasn’t even a tumour, just a nodule of spleen tissue and not a danger to him, at least right now. What he does have is inflammatory bowel disease, which can be really serious, but not as bad as cancer. “Change his diet to something he’s never had before,” the vet said. “Bring him back next week and we’ll see if he needs medication.”

We changed his diet, and I think Gus must have had this for a couple of years, because he is not only fully recovered, he is back to the energy and activity level he had when he was about 2 1/2. He played with toys the other day. He has not shown interest in toys in YEARS. Yesterday he happily spent about 20 minutes in the back yard sniffing around in the snow. He is scent vocalizing on walks again. He is all sleek and bright-eyed and happy. I mean, he is still Gus, so he’s still an abnormally lazy dog, but he is so much better it is amazing.

So that was my Christmas! For about a week we thought Gus was going to die, then he got miraculously better. It took all the money we had saved and then some, but he is going to be OK.

Because we didn’t want to travel with a very sick dog, we hosted Christmas here instead of visiting our families. My mother insisted on bringing Christmas dinner already cooked, because you will pry cooking for the holidays out of her cold dead hands, and Cecil got so many presents I think we will have to buy another house to put them in. Ben’s parents came a few days later and Cecil got even more presents, including a little hockey jersey with “Lil C” on the back.

Anyway. It was lovely to have Christmas in my own home, though I could have done without having Gus visit death’s door to make it happen.

Merry Gusmas!

Merry Gusmas!

Right after Christmas Ben came down with a terrible cold, which I came down with a few days later (right after visiting Ben’s grandmother, thereby probably taking out half a wing of the the seniors’ home) and Cecil a day or two after that. So this is basically a plague house. I feel a lot better, though fairly zombie-like (zombesque?) after a few nights of terrible baby sleep.

But hey, it’s the new year, when people decide to better themselves in spite of knowing they will fail utterly in two or three months! So what am I going to do to make myself a better excuse for a human being?

I really only have two things:
1. Learn how to be more productive with my time while looking after Cecil
2. Get some kind of non-music part-time job.

The key to 1 is, I think, limiting my time on Twitter, the major time-suck in my life, and the key to 2 is probably divine intervention because I have no non-music resume or skills, but you know, you gotta give it a try. I just want to diversify where my income comes from and make a bit of extra money in a somewhat more low-stress way. I love teaching but I can’t handle more than about 15 hours/week. It is too energy-consuming. So if you are looking to hire someone to work for you for about 12-15 hours a week doing something relatively mindless for a decent cause, I am your lady.

I’m giving myself a lot of time on that one, because as I said I have no resume to speak of and the job market is in the shitter, so I’ll be really impressed with myself if I can make that happen by the summer.

And to round out my “What I did on my blogging vacation” essay, a really simple recipe!

Cinnamon syrup

I made some peppermint syrup for Christmas lattes (just simple syrup + flavour extract) and it was such a hit I made syrups with all the extracts I have, including anise (which turned out awesome, BTW – it tastes exactly like those candies you get after dinner at Italian restaurants). Here is my first attempt without using an extract.

1/3 C sugar and
1/3 C water.

Stir to dissolve. Add:

Around 2 tablespoons cinnamon bark

and bring to a boil on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Simmer for 2 minutes. Don’t let it really boil or you’ll make some really disgusting candy. Remove from heat and let stand for at least an hour or, if you’re me, forget about it entirely for an afternoon while you do other stuff. Strain into a glass container – those little baby juice bottles are perfect. Just label it so you don’t accidentally give your baby a whack of cinnamon-flavoured sugar instead of apple juice. About 2 teaspoons sweetens your coffee and gives it a nice cinnamon flavour.
You will notice I didn’t resolve to blog more often or bring back the podcast or anything, though I do want to; I can’t promise that 2013 will see more than a handful of blog posts either. But hey, if you made it all the way through this, at least I gave you a little sweetness for your morning brew.

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The pack

From Knit your own Dog:

Basset Hound, Corgi, Scottish Terrier, Pug, Dachshund

The legs on the pug turned out very floppy – if I were making him to stand up, I’d stick pipe cleaners in the legs. Since I made these for a mobile for the baby I’m leaving it like it is.

When I construct the mobile I will most certainly post pictures of it.

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You all know Gus, right?


Yes, THAT Gus. Gus the Beagle-Basset. In case you don’t, let me tell you more about him.


Gus has a few problems. When we got him at 6 months, he was overweight and had almost no training (including house-training…that was fun). He didn’t make eye contact with people. He had separation anxiety and would howl in the most heart-breaking way when we left the house. He had to be fed in a separate room from Madeline and confined until she was finished eating, or else he would attack her and steal her food.

Still life with Gus and pumpkin

Unlike Madeline, who is a very bright dog and a quick learner, Gus was (and is) very slow to learn new things. It took him a long time to learn not to pee in the house. It took him a long time to learn a routine that would allow him to eat in the same room as Madeline without incident.

It took him a long time to learn that, when we left the house, we were coming back.

I don’t know just why Gus is, to put it charitably, a bit slow. Probably a combination of poor maternal nutrition, early puppyhood neglect, and maybe a few kicks to the head. Because he’s a rescue dog we don’t have any way of finding out. But I do know that, even though it took a while and he’ll always have some issues (he still needs to follow a food routine and he’ll always be a bit chubby), he’s become a wonderful, loving, fun dog. And I wouldn’t trade him in for the smartest Bagel Hound in the world.

Mostly because I already have the smartest Bagel Hound in the world.

So what’s the PSA? Did I write this just to wax sentimental about my slightly developmentally delayed dog, or do I have a point?

It’s this: It’s spring. I’ve been seeing lots of new puppies in the dog parks. And if you’re thinking of getting one – maybe you promised your kids that if they do well on their last report cards they get a puppy, or maybe you’re taking up running and want a dog to go with you, or maybe you just want a dog – don’t go to a breeder and get a $2000 puppy. Go to Petfinder or your local shelter and get a Gus.

Sure, there will probably be issues. But you can work through them – we did with Gus – and there will be issues with any dog you get. And at least when you get a Gus you know you’ve saved a living creature from a painful life and a pointless death.

I feel that way too sometimes

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We’ve been on a clean living and cleanliness kick lately, so this morning I made the bed right after getting up.

I know what you’re thinking, smug clean-freak people – “Why is that unusual? I do that every morning, right before I exercise for 30 minutes and sweep my already spotless floor!”  Well, lah-di-dah. It’s like flossing – I go through phases. Sometimes I do it every day when it’s my turn, sometimes I don’t.

Anyway, the dogs like to sleep in the bed during the day, especially when it’s cold and rainy.  Normally they burrow under the covers and make a little nest.  Madeline does this even when the bed is made, much to my annoyance.  Gus has never quite figured that one out.

So this is what he did this morning:

In case you can’t tell because of the matching duvet cover and pillow shams, he has burrowed under…a pillow.


I’m kind of impressed by his problem-solving skills.  Clearly his thought process went something like:

– I want to get under the covers.
– I can’t get under the covers.
– Maybe I can get under this thing.

I’m also impressed that he got under the pillow without flipping it over and losing his little nest.

"Will you please turn off the light and let me get some sleep?"

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That is all.

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Seriously, Richard Nixon’s corpse would make a better mayor than this buffoon.

– Someone stole my credit card number! And bought gas!  The bank just called to ask, “Hey, did you buy gas this morning and yesterday?” I didn’t, because I don’t have a car.  Bastards.

– Sadly, Paul the Psychic Octopus is no more. May he predict more football winners in the great aquarium in the sky.

– I can’t get over this. ROB FORD IS MAYOR.

I keep telling myself that the damage he can do is limited, because the mayor is just one vote on council and everyone on council hates him, but it’s disheartening to know that at least a plurality of my fellow Torontonians think that I (a bike-riding vegetarian artist) am a parasite and a blot on the landscape.

Anyway. To cheer myself up I made a collage video of the Daily Basset pictures.

And Ben is home!  Yay!

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Madeline and Gus throw Ben a welcome home party. Or I wake Gus up at 10:30 to put a plastic lei on him and take his picture. I upload, you decide.

She looks like a stuffed animal!

Party time?

In other news…the conference yesterday was great.  I saw some excellent talks and presentations and did some quality schmoozing.  People really liked our show.  And Ben gets back tomorrow!  So I will blow up more balloons and tie them to the handlebars of his bicycle!  And clean up the house, of course.

Oh, and because I totally forgot in my bronchitic/Nyquil haze, here is a montage of my…

OK, now I’m going to bed.

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