Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My Bilingual Daughter

Ellie is getting pretty clever. This evening she told me (while she was on the toilet, no less...and I'm sure you wanted to know that) that "how you say 'forehead' in Spanish is 'quatro cabeza'."

Not bad at all.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Preschoolers today

Now I'm certainly not one to judge - okay, now that the laughter has died down... It's certainly not my place to tell someone where they're going wrong in raising their kids, because I'm making plenty of my own mistakes and my glass house can't handle any stones thrown at it. But seriously, there's a kid at preschool who really needs a little more discipline. He just turned four, and:
  • His mom let him get out of his car seat and out of the car THROUGH THE BACK WINDOW. OK, he didn't actually make it all the way out, but it was only because they were running late and his mom pulled him out before he could do it himself.
  • He taught my daughter (and everyone else at school) to run around with pretend rifles yelling "FIRE!" and shooting at other people.
  • He told a story to the kids at his table (I was there, as was his mom) about how he saw a movie where "there was a big alien and the guy shot...he shot...he shot...he shot!...he shot the alien and the alien exploded and got stuff all over the guy!"
And is giving little plastic cowboys and Indians (the cowboy with a rifle, the Indian with the full headdress, etc) appropriate for 4 year olds?

Jeez, how old am I to be complaining about this? I need to go get some Depends before those darned kids egg my car.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Cleaning up

I finally cleaned out the car and brought in Gideon's leash, collar, and ropey-ball toy. When I went to put them with Mena's stuff I held both leashes like I used to when I took them out for walks together. I felt so comfortable wrapping them both around my hand. And it felt so bad looking at the empty collars on the other ends.

I gave the old dog medicines to the vet for disposal and/or donating to needy clients. I think that helped, since I don't have to see all of it any more - especially the stuff we were giving Gideon near the end. I've also put the remaining dog stuff we don't want to keep in a big pile to either give to neighbors or give to the local shelter. But I just can't pull the trigger and give it away. I know we don't need it (and some of it was stuff that was never used) but it just makes things seem so final. I think one of the worst things is those 3 cans of wet food that are leftover. When I bought 12 cans I thought Mena might have time to finish them all. Little did I know that Gideon wouldn't even have enough time to finish them all.

I still have good and bad times, but more good than bad. Mostly it's when everyone is asleep that it's's just so quiet. I miss the nails clicking, the breathing, the digging of nests on the carpet. And I really miss having someone to talk to when I get home, or I'm the only one awake.

But overall, life is getting a little easier and we're all doing better. I know that it's healthy to get over their deaths and to move on, but in addition to feeling better I often also feel a range of other emotions. It's almost like I have 2 separate TV shows going in my head at once. Show 1 is the "feeling better" show, and Show 2 is the "sadness/grief/guilt" show. It's very strange watching both shows at once. And I'm not really sure I want Show 2 to end quite yet.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Dear Gideon,

I've written this letter over and over, and I just can't get it to express exactly what I'm feeling.  There's so much I want to say to you, but I just don't know where to begin.

Do you remember how right after Mena died, I whispered to you that you should let me know if you were ever in pain like Mena was and needed to leave us?

I was lying.

Okay, I didn't want you living in pain,  but I never imagined you'd leave so soon.  But a couple of days later you began having eye problems.  I found out that you had an inoperable tumor only one week after Mena died.  And exactly two weeks after Mena died in my lap, it was again time for me to hold one of my best friends as he died.  That's two of my best friends gone in as many weeks.

It was a little easier for me to accept with Mena, partially because it all happened so fast, and partially because I could tell she was getting very uncomfortable.  With you it was difficult to follow through with our decision once the painkillers started to work - you were your puppy self again.  I know it would have been selfish to make you live with the pain for any longer, but I still hope that you can forgive me for making such a terrible choice.

As difficult as it was losing a "healthy" dog, at least you were able to spend your final days having fun.  I am eternally grateful to have those last few days full of wonderful memories with you.  Going on our superwalk together, playing catch, watching you destroy your ropey ball toy...I cherish every single moment.  And there could be no better memory than your big sloppy tongue after a walk, or how you got so wiggly when I looked at your tennis ball.

I definitely expected to miss those types of big things.  But I never realized how much I counted on the little things that you (and Mena) did.  The house is now so quiet, especially at night.  It feels empty without your breathing, without your tail thumping, without your digging little "nests" on the rug downstairs.  Even without your licking your hands and arms.  As much as that annoyed me at times, I'd give anything to hear you do it again.

There are so many things I can't imagine living without.  Who is going to:
  • clean up the food under the table and on the kitchen floor
  • put his furry butt on me
  • leave clumps of butt fur all over the place
  • bring me yucky tennis balls
  • walk with me to the park and poop twice
  • let me pretend his tail is a paintbrush
  • calm down when I rub his belly button (it soothes the savagest of the G-men!)
  • drag and shred garbage into Matthew's room
  • be a wiggler when I get home
  • protect the yard and house from squirrels and/or strangers
  • bring me a belly to rub when I'm feeling sad
Most importantly, who's going to be my "little guy"?  And who will let me be "his dude"?  

Do you still remember when you told me you were my little guy?  In my mind, you're still that little puppy who peed on my shoe at the Seal Beach Animal Control Center.  Once you marked me, that was it...I was yours.  You were one of my best friends for more than 8 years, and I still can't believe that I don't have you around any more.  

When you died the world lost one of its brightest souls.  But, as Ellie points out, you're still with us - like the Angels.  And I can rest a bit easier knowing that Mena has her big brother back after what must have been a very long 2 weeks.  Enjoy her company again...I know you were missing her at least as much as we were.  Make sure you let her win a battle royale now and then, and don't get too mad when she steals your toys.  And you guys remember to guard the house, take care of the yard, and take care of each other.

No matter what, please remember that I always tried to do my best for you, and that you have always been (and always will be) in my heart.

Your dude

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Private Parts

Sharon (to Ellie): "What do you do if someone wants to touch your private parts?"
Ellie: "You say 'NO!  I don't want that chocolate."

Well, the school HAS been teaching the kids about appropriate looking and touching...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Gideon, 1999-2008

My best friend is gone.  I've known a lot of dogs, but none were like Gideon*.

I first saw Gideon, a 3 month old “Shepherd Mix”, wiggling in a cage at the Seal Beach Animal Care Center.  He was such a cute puppy that I couldn’t believe he was still available.  We took him on a walk, and I was hooked.  While we were filling out the adoption paperwork, he peed on my shoe, so I guess he was hooked on me too.  From that day on, he was my “little guy” and I was his “dude.”

How could we resist this?

Or this?

We didn’t have kids yet, and we raised Gideon accordingly.  I loved wrestling with him, letting him gnaw on my hands and arms while we were playing (he was always so gentle).  And when we played outside he would go crazy every time I threw his "ropey ball" or rolled his "geometry" toy (a strange red globe-toy-thing for dogs).  He would bring it back to me all day long, but then move it just out of my reach.  It was our little game, and I loved it.

Geometry was a favorite

One of my favorite memories with him was planting the grapefruit tree in our old yard.  He helped me dig the hole.  His favorite tree, however, was the avocado tree.  He would eat anything that fell on the ground, even if it was still rock hard.  He'd just gnaw through the pit and everything.

Working on the Little G tree

One of his favorite "at home" activities was destroying tennis balls.  First, he'd chew it until it broke a little.  Then he'd "shave" it with his teeth and pull all the felt off.  Finally, he'd chew it a little more to turn it into a thousand pieces.  It was so much fun bringing a new can of tennis balls in - as soon as I'd pop the top he'd smell the "new tennis ball" smell and go bonkers!  And when we went for walks in the park he would concentrate on finding a tennis ball around the tennis courts.  He could sniff out tennis balls that were so far back, and then not give up until he (or I) got them.  He'd parade around for the rest of the walk holding it in his mouth, dropping it on my feet, and just looking like a proud father.

Even in the snow, tennis balls need chomping!

Of course, he loved going on walks.  Gideon wasn't like a lot of dogs - he preferred to stay on trails or sidewalks, and would rarely explore from side to side.  It was all about going forward, getting to the next stop.  On the W&OD trail, which has a yellow stripe down the middle of it, he'd always walk right along the stripe.

As our family grew, he missed being an “only child,” but he loved being part of the family.  And through everything, Gideon was always an amazing friend.  He always knew what I was feeling, even if I was trying not to show anything.  When I was happy, he'd be all wiggly.  When I was mad or upset, he'd go to his crate (even though I wasn't mad at him).  When I was sad, he'd come put his butt on me and let me rub his fur.  In fact, putting his butt on things was one of his favorite things to do.


Here Ellie, let me put my butt on you!

From the day I met him to the day he died, Gideon was always a puppy at heart.  He was, and will always be, my little guy - and I will always be his dude.  I cherish the memories of our time together, and I miss him more than anyone can imagine.

*Gideon, also known as Little G, Gid, Gid Kid, G-Monkey, My Little Guy, G-Man, Gidster, Brownhound, Mr. Stinkypants, Mr. Man, The Furry Buttcheeks McGee, The Gentle G, Stripeyback, and many combinations of the above

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Best Friends, Together Again (and always)

After two long weeks apart, you guys are together again.  Make sure you take care of each other, and let the squirrels know who the bosses are.  We love and miss you two more than words can say.

Gideon and Mena

Gideon's Last Full Day

Saturday was about as perfect as a day can get.  Gideon was feeling good, and we went on the W&OD trail again.  He was pretty sore, so we just did the "regular" walk, but man was he happy.

You expected to see him doing something else?

Come on Mom, the pooping grounds are this way!

Gross, yes, but it's how he'd want to be remembered!

Is Sharon trying to look like a rapper?

He was really tired for a while, so he rested for a few hours until Nadine came over for dinner.  We all played outside for a while, and he had the chance (and was feeling good enough) to first play with a ropey ball and then destroy it.  

It doesn't get much better than this!

After we came in, he was pretty tired again, but REALLY happy.  Nadine coming over was a fantastic way to spend the evening.  

Once he cooled off a bit, we took a few pictures with our happy Little G, and then had dinner.  

Of course, after dinner, we decided to relax the "under the table" rules a bit.

I did a little more playing and relaxing outside with Gideon after it got dark (while the kids were in the bath).  Then the standard rubbing and cuddling later.  I really can't imagine a more perfect "last day" with my sweet little boy.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Perfect Walk

I went on the perfect walk this morning.  Gideon, Matthew, and I went to the W&OD trail right by our old house.  It started with a great car ride.  I moved the seats around so that Gideon could get up between the kids' car seats and put his head up by me.  It didn't take him long to do that, and he rode the whole way to the parking lot with his head under my arm.

He was SO excited to be there that I had a tough time keeping Gideon in the car while I got Matthew into the stroller.  Once we were set, we did our old "usual" walk, along the W&OD trail from Carlin Springs to Wilson and then back along the Four Mile Run trail.  I'd forgotten how much Gideon (and I) have missed that trail.

When we got to the far point by Wilson, Gideon needed no reminding that it was his old pooping grounds.  Happy doesn't begin to describe his reaction.  He even managed to do a toe wipe that threw some sand around.

A happy Little G at his "pooping grounds"

After that, we cut through the field and back around the "back way" so we could come back next to the Rose Garden.  The weather was perfect - it was in the mid to high 60s, the skies were bright blue with a few clouds, and there was a nice breeze.  And the trail was practially empty.  When we got to the picnic area, it was just too nice to pass by.

Sorry Gid, there's no picnic here for you

After a quick rest, and getting Matthew his snacks that I had been promising him for the whole walk so far, it was time to go again.  And by "time to go", I meant for me.  Every time I walk anywhere near the bathroom at the picnic area, my bladder starts yelling.  So we all went in.  Gideon waited patiently at the door, of course.

Gideon is pretty used to waiting for me in this doorway

Ahh...finally it was time to head on.  A quick trip by the Rose Garden, and then back to the car along the Four Mile Run trail.  It was wonderful following the path through the woods.  As we headed under the Carlin Springs bridge to go back to the car, Matthew fell asleep.  Gideon was still pulling hard, so I decided to add on our other "usual" walk - the W&OD trail from Carlin Springs to Columbia Pike and then back along Four Mile Run.  We hadn't done the "superwalk" in a long time!  

A few of the trees were starting to change color on the way out, and it was nice crunching through a few leaves.  By the time we got to the far point of this leg, Gideon was pretty tired.  At the pooping zone, all he wanted to do was flop down for a while.

A very tired Little G

We waited for a while, and he managed to get enough energy up to jump up and woof at another dog walking by, but quickly flopped back down again.  I was happy to wait with him, and will never forget how peaceful it was listening to the crickets and birds, with some water flowing in the distance.

After a while, my butt got too wet (from the grass, in case you must know) so it was time to go.  With a little coaxing, Gideon got up and we both hobbled along for a while...him on his bad hips and me on my bad knees.  We got warmed back up, and headed back to the car.  This part of the walk was probably my favorite...all I could hear was the sandy wheels of the stroller turning, Gideon panting, some critters making noise, and the water flowing in the river.

When we got back to the car, I scrounged up some water for Gideon and let him drink while I got Matthew up and out of the stroller.

Messy?  Naah...

I figured Gideon would plop down and do his heavy breathing in the back on our way home, but I found my arm quickly covered in dog slobber...and wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

The happiest little soul

Overheard on the W&OD trail

Two bicyclists were riding toward us.  They were all decked out in professional-type gear for road bikes, including the super-fancy helmets, matching outfits, very nice (looking at least) bikes, all the equipment you'd expect to see on a pro's bike.  I thought they were part of some biking team.

Guy #1: "Have you ever heard of drafting?"
Guy #2: "You mean like for the war?"
Guy #1: "No, for biking."

I guess Guy #2 wasn't as professional as he looked.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Being a grownup sucks

We've set the day.  Sunday, exactly two weeks after Mena died, will be my last day with Gideon.  I bought 12 cans of wet food for Mena when I thought she had a couple weeks left...and now Gideon isn't even going to be around long enough to finish them.  Wow.  I didn't see that coming.

Even typing it out, I can't believe that only 2 weeks ago we thought we had two relatively healthy dogs.  Now, in a matter of 2 weeks, we will have lost both of them to "masses".

And I used to thing being a grownup sucked when it came time to squish a big bug.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Worst

It's a tumor.  In the nose and behind the eye.  There's a lot of fluid around the eye and in the brain.  I'm still waiting to hear treatment options, but none sound acceptible for a 9 year old dog.

I thought I had prepared myself for the worst.  I was wrong.  I'm crushed.

MRI day

The visit to the opthamologist ruled out glaucoma or any other "easy" problem.  And, she said it wasn't that his eye was swollen - it was being displaced by something behind the eyeball.

So...we got Gideon an MRI to figure out what's back there.

No results yet.  Hopefully today.

On the positive side, Matthew was his usual spectacular self.  Despite getting less than 25 minutes of nap, he stayed happy all day and didn't mind (until the very end) being cooped up in a stroller in all the doctor's offices.

And that includes his 10pm trip to urgent care to search for a sticker up his nose.  That they couldn't find.  *sigh*