Archives for category: Dog

I’m Chi.  You might remember me from the last time I snuck into my human’s office and wrote a letter to all of you. I’m back! I’m sorry I was gone so long. It’s not easy sneaking into her office a second time, you know. Plus, I’ve had a lot to contend with these past couple weeks… like my shaved butt.

Yeah, they shaved my butt. And I like it when people play with me, but that was not cool. Mom took me into the vet’s office one day when I thought we were just going out together someplace special. She left me there! Alone! I made sure I pouted at her for the whole time she walked away. Don’t tell her, but I saw my human looked kinda sad and scared. I don’t like to see her look that way.

So then, they took me back into this room and they poked me with something. It made me yelp, and then I got really sleepy. The last thing I remember is the nice lady in the white coat saying she was going to take my picture… I like pictures…

Then, everything was spinning. Spin, spin, kinda like when I chase my tail — only I couldn’t figure out which way was up. And then I woke up really thirsty and I was in a cage thing. I really wanted my humans a lot. I went back to sleep cause I couldn’t do much else.

behindbars

I guess I had stitches and things, and it hurt a lot for a while. I hated the big white pills and I spit them out cause it made my humans mad when I did that. Serves them right. Then maybe a week ago, they were talking to someone on the phone and Mom got really happy and squeezed me real tight and everyone got excited. I thought I was going to get some cheese or something. The humans did sneak me some banana. That was ok.

So ever since they have been telling people I am be-nighn, whatever that is. I’m a pug, not this other thing. I think they are confused. My dad looks at me and laughs and says I have a wart on my ass. Well, that’s rude….

You’d think my story was over, but nooooo. Then it started to rain. And it rained, and it rained, and it rained some more. You have to understand that I hate walking in the rain. It makes my big paddle feet wet. And I just don’t like it and I try to find the dry spot near the house or wherever I am so I don’t get wet. It was terrible. One day Mom came home after getting stranded without an umbrella and she was soaked to the skin. The next day she came home early with a bucket and threw water all down the driveway. I really appreciated that she wanted to get rid of the puddle of water so I didn’t have to get my paddles wet.

Later that night and the next day, my humans seemed very upset, and sad. I guess there was so much water that people could not get out and no buckets were enough. They had to get their paddles wet. I am so sad for them. They even told me about a story where a dog like me saved a man from going under the water. I really hope everyone is ok out there…

I better go for now. Bye bye and remember to keep your paddlefeet dry!

Photo disclaimer: Is this yours? Please let us know so we can give appropriate credit!

Always from the days of old men has it been this way

And none born can escape this thing.

–Miu Hsi, “Bearer’s Song”

 

Life is what happens when we’re busy making other plans. This saying is not Taoist, but it’s still true. The morning dawned bright and warm, and all indications pointed to a fine day. We were in the vet’s office with Chi to make sure he had all his shots up to date. Chi was enjoying interacting with dogs and humans alike. The exam started off normally enough. Chi was healthy, happy. All these things we knew. The vet’s smile faded as she explored Chi.

The sun passed behind a cloud as soon as she uttered the word. It was just a bump, probably nothing. Chi was taken to the back area of the clinic. An aspiration was done. It’s nothing, we all said to each other.

Several days passed, and finally the results came. Mast cells in the blood — not good news. Words like surgery and excision were mentioned. Other words like incontinence, and worse, were also bandied about. More blood tests. Discussions about chest x-rays and paths of treatment… and when not to treat. Surgery was scheduled and it was decided an x-ray would be taken before anything was actually done. If the cancer had spread, we wanted Chi to live a happy rest of his life with us. It was decided that I should take him in and take care of the paperwork and the front-end stuff, and my husband would pick him up after the surgery in the afternoon.

The morning of the surgery, Chi was unusually affectionate, nuzzling my shoulder and offering kisses. The vet met me on the way in, and grinned down at Chi. “Wild man,” she called him. She disappeared behind a door, and soon the vet tech was weighing the pug, and going over instructions. I signed the forms and handed Chi’s leash over to her. I will never forget Chi’s eyes watching me as I left the clinic and headed for the car.

About 30 minutes after I left, my cell phone rang. The x ray had been done. Nothing had spread. Even so, I went about the day’s business on autopilot. Keeping routine and living in the moment were some of the best Lessons Chi had taught me, and I worked them.  I couldn’t relax until he was safely out of surgery. Around noon, it was all over. The vet reported Chi was awake and resting comfortably.

Chi, in essence, had a cancerous bump on his ass. It appears they got it all, and very early. Life has never been so good.

Chi, for his part, milked the occasion as much as he could. The vet techs spoke of his eyes following them back and forth when he came out of anesthesia. He could not really lift his head, but his eyes followed them and he made a game attempt to beg for treats. “I’m so pitiful,” his eyes told us as he walked unsteadily back into the house. With a deep sigh he sank onto the cushions of the loveseat and promptly fell asleep.

sickychismall

Chi also has built a relationship with the neighbors to the west of us. Well, not with the humans, not really… with the dog.

When we first moved into our home, there was an elderly couple living next door. They eventually packed up and moved away, and the house was vacant for a time. Early one summer, a new family moved in. Young, hard-working, the type of people who rise early in the morning and return home, then do it all over again. A few months after they arrived, they came home one day with a visitor. This visitor liked to bark. A lot. Other neighbors would occasionally walk by, looking for the source of the noise. Some of them didn’t look very happy.

Chi, Jake and I decided to go check it out one day. A wooden fence blocked the yard from view. Through a space in the vats I saw a gangly-looking pit bull, perhaps a year old. It was well-groomed, well cared for, but it was left alone in the backyard. I felt bad for the pup, and made it a part of the daily routine to throw treats over the fence and coo at the young pittie. I also knew socializing the animal was important, especially if it was to be left alone for a certain amount of time.

I let Chi and Jake out to play a lot during that summer. Food, toys, various items made their way over the fence. One day when I went out, a new dog toy had come from the opposite direction. It was all in good fun, and everyone was bonding.

Chi developed something of a crush on his new friend. He’d bounce out the door and run directly over to the fence. Jake, being an old curmudgeon, would banter and harass and bark at the young one across the way. Not Chi. Chi would lay down on a cool brick in the shade, and try to look under the fence and play with the dog.

One day near the end of summer, we were throwing sticks in the backyard and noticed a hole in the fence. I leaned over to examine the hole and started to laugh. The pittie was standing there, tail wagging, clearly admiring his handiwork in chewing off half of the wood beam. The dog didn’t count on the chain-link fence on our side, but still, he had applied himself and wanted everyone to see his accomplishment.

By the end of that week, the entire beam was worked loose and finally fell off. The neighbors quickly hammered a replacement up onto the fence. The replacement was gnawed loose within days. Chi would be very excited during these times.  He wanted to play! My husband and I started discussing building some kind of latched gate for the pittie. The beams of wood hammered up to fill the gap in the fence became wider, still old wood, but wider. The pittie was determined to chew through them all.

Finally, one day when all the leaves were falling off the trees and autumn was giving way to winter, a thicker, bigger, newer beam of wood was hammered into place.  Chi’s new friend has not been able to chew through this one — yet. They still meet at the fence, and treats and toys go back and forth.

But Chi has yet to get his pit bull friend over for a sleepover. He can dream…

that side of the fence

Recently I’ve talked a lot about my experiences with recuperating from a neck injury. During one of these experiences with my acupuncturist, Stephanie, we were talking about the lovely Chi. Stephanie asked if Chi had ever received acupuncture. Of course! What self-respecting Chinese dog has not, especially with one with a name like Chi?

It happened about 5 years ago.

Chi, like many pugs, gets excitable at times. He’s not always the most graceful. Occasionally, he’ll trundle into serious trouble. On this particular day, he was playing with a stuffed ball on an elastic band. And he’d shake, and shake, and whack himself in the head with it. Over and over he would repeat this with no ill effect. He was really getting into it that day. He took one careless step, fell forward, and slammed headfirst into a wooden tv cart.

Poor baby cried, and snuffled, and was completely miserable. Chi would not allow anyone to touch his neck, or console him. We took him to the vet early the next morning. Luckily, he hadn’t broken or ruptured anything. Still, he had a slipped disc and was pretty wonky. One of the staff vets had experience with acupuncture for animals. At the time it seemed a natural thing to do.

Acupuncture being performed on Wallie Fitzpatrick, an 11-year-old pug.

Sadly, we didn’t think to have a camera in the vet’s office way back then. This is acupuncture being performed on Wallie Fitzpatrick, an 11-year-old pug.

One of us held him while the vet began placing the needles. This really wasn’t necessary, although it’s something most acupuncturists would probably prefer just in case. Chi didn’t flinch or make any indication that the needles were troublesome. The vet put in about 10 to 12 needles, clustered around the ruff near the site of the injury and then extending all the way down the spine. After that, the vet left us all to relax for about 15 to 20 minutes. Chi was not restless or in any way bothered. It was something to see. The vet returned, removed the needles, and sent us off with a small prescription of valium in case he became agitated during the healing process.

The prescription was nice, but Chi didn’t need them. He healed completely naturally on his own. He slept most of that first day, and exhibited some stiffness over the following 48 hours or so.

Skeptics may respond that natural healing time is around the same. I’m not a vet, and can’t really respond to that. I can say without any reservation that Chi’s level of discomfort went way down almost immediately.

So, if your adult pug or animal is showing signs of arthritis, pain, or other issues, acupuncture may be for you. Check with your vet.

Service dog sculpture at Metrotech Plaza in Br...

Service dog sculpture at Metrotech Plaza in Brooklyn-2 (Photo credit: Martha Garvey)

After leaving work on a Friday afternoon, my mind is on many things. I think about how hard I have worked during the week. That thought is generally followed by “Only two days off! I need more time!” (Don’t we all think this one!) Generally, I then start compiling all the lists of “stuff” that a weekend entails: honey-do lists (heh), grocery list, schedules, stuff I need to do but don’t really want to do. stuff I really want to do but don’t need to do, stuff I really don’t want to do and will NOT do, etc. This is a process most of us go through, winnowing through the sheer possibility only to thin the list by finance and time into some vague structure to start the weekend. Much will get done, a few items will not and will then be shuttled onto the ever-lengthening list of stuff to do NEXT weekend.

Such was the case this past Friday. I was sitting on the bus as it prepared to leave the downtown area, idly people watching as I pondered what was for dinner. An immaculately-coiffed woman in a blue business suit sat down in a bench seat to my left. She fumbled with her oversized purse and brought out an iPad. She powered it up and sneezed twice in rapid succession, saying nothing to the several people around her who blessed her afterwards. The bus pulled away and started its journey, stopping every few blocks to pick up more people.

I was drawn out of my reveries by some shuffling and unusual activity at the front of the bus a few feet away. I saw the golden head before I saw the rest of the scene. The large golden retriever came onto the bus calm, regal, and quiet. I was on my way out of my seat at that sight alone, before iPad lady told me to move. I moved a few rows back, and watched the dog escort its master to the seat as people milled about, rather uncertain of what to do.

Service dogs never cease to amaze me. This was no different. Surrounded by strangers that might cause a lesser dog to panic and act out, this beautiful animal stood there as its master settled in the seat and then sank to the ground with only some pressure and murmured direction from its lucky human. When another person came to sit, the dog crawled under the seat of the iPad lady and settled right back in.

I don’t believe people understand the work and effort that goes into training a dog to perform as that one did on the bus. So much could have gone wrong in that simple series of interactions. I reflected on that small miracle as we made our way onto the interstate and headed north to suburbia.

I love and adore Chi, and have often thought of training him to be a therapy dog. There’s no way my lovable lug of a pug could be a service dog. He is too involved in responding to others. Most pets are, I’d think. I know that service dogs start their training as mere puppies with their trainers. Preparation time with these trainers can be over a year. There is a reason for that time. I usually witness service dogs leading their humans across streets, or walking down a hall. I take for granted what these beautiful animals do.

I am fortunate to work in a community that hosts two people with service dogs. Sometimes we are encouraged to greet the animals, and sometimes not. One of my favorite moments with a service animal happened at work, in the cafeteria at lunchtime. A black lab serves a blind man at work, and it’s a character to be sure. The dog was laying on the floor at the table next to us as the man enjoyed his lunch. The room was packed full of people. The dog was well behaved with the tiniest exception… it kept looking at us as we ate. My lunch companion and I did not interfere, knowing we should not interact with the dog, but it kept “flirting” with us anyway. A few months later in a conversation, that dog’s owner said he knew she did that, and sort of chuckled. So, clearly these are individual animals with individual personalities.

This golden retriever that came onto the bus was simply a magnificent animal. And as I walked down the aisle to leave the bus, I leaned over and whispered to the man. “You have the most magnificent service dog I have ever seen.” He broke into a smile so wide, so full of pride. In his world, that dog was clearly the greatest too.

The next time you see a service animal, take a moment and think about the miracle of training and love that takes place in order for a dog to serve a human.

Water overcomes the stone;

Without substance it requires no opening;

This is the benefit of taking no action.

 

Yet benefit without action,

And experience without abstraction,

Are practiced by very few.

TTC 43

Interpreted by Peter Merel

I learn a lot when I sit and watch Chi interact with his sisters. His sisters are two rambunctious Manchester Terriers. He lacks their energy and their speed. He cannot outrace them in one of their dizzying races around the yard. He can’t jump so fast and high that he almost catches a squirrel by the tail.

Still, Chi has something the flashier pair lack, and he uses it — often without fanfare. He can lie quiet and motionless. When they crawl all over him, he sinks into himself with a deep sigh. He’ll close his eyes and pretend he’s asleep. They will paw at him, push him, lick him. None of it matters. He’s oblivious. Sometimes, he seems longsuffering. Other times, he seems stubborn.

He uses this with his humans as well. If we want to put him in the kennel, and he doesn’t want to be there, he refuses to move. Quite literally, he becomes as water. Completely limp. The effects are comical as we drag him (gently) across the bed or the sofa or the floor. He is a conscientious objector. He is passive resistance incarnate. If you try to pick him up, his limp dead weight is hard to lift. If he slips from your grasp, he sinks back into the sofa, only for the cycle to begin again.

Chi is illustrating the overcoming of adversity with the humor of a sage. Water has no real substance; it flows, it moves, it molds to hard substances. And, over time, it carves stone. Water is the ultimate example of acting without acting. We can do the same, by flowing through difficult situations. If chaos is exploding around you, remaining low to the ground and flowing with the tide will serve you well. You can observe, witness from this place.

All this, from “doing nothing.”

be water

Take good care of my… baby….

There’s a lot of taking care of a dog, you can bet on that. Exercise. Grooming. Bling. Vaccinations. Dental work. Toys. bones. Special toys when the dog won’t play with the toys he’s already got. (Don’t judge.)

And yet, there are so many more moments when we take care of our pets.  Think about it a little while.

There’s the time Chi stepped on a piece of gravel. He stopped, plopped down on the ground, and cried until we stopped and plucked it out. And who can forget the cross country trip with Chi in the back of the car? He’d sit, cry softly despite the low-grade tranquilizer we’d give him.. and then howl as if he’d been stabbed when we had to stop and go inside the convenience store to use the restroom. So intense was his fear of separation that we had to take turns sitting and soothing Chi while we were doing even simple things while travelling. This went on for a very long time… although fortunately for all of us, he’s getting to be an old pro in the car now.

We could go on and on with these stories, large and small, about how we take care of our pets. There’s another way still we can look at taking care. We can look at how our pets take care of us.

If I allowed Chi to tell this story he’d talk about how I sometimes come home tired, overworked and overemotional about some silly thing which happened through the course of my day. He’d tell about trying to get me to stop — just stop. Mommy, lie down and smell the dandelions for a while. He tries to get me to pet him. Petting him calms me down. And there is always the best thing of all — I can give him treats! He swears it makes me feel better, but I’m not so sure about that one.

In the morning, Chi is my litmus test for the morning. If I’m tired, he’ll try to burrow me in and trap me under the covers. If I greet the day with a smile and gratitude, he wants to play. I always do feel great when I take that extra moment to play with him. And then we have the “conversation”. I’ve mentioned this conversation before, and I am sure I’ll mention it again. “Mommy has to go to work now.” Chi is always displeased with this, even when I remind him I do it to be able to get him more doggy bling.

It’s a dog’s world, after all. Dogs can be pretty smart about teaching us how to take care of ourselves. How do your pets take care of you?

Thanks to the Daily Prompt for the inspiration.

 

chicloseup2

It has happened, much more quickly than I anticipated. The dogs have rebelled against their new-found fame. Instead of happily watching me go into my study to write, I get this:

Image

I know — if only we all had such problems. Back soon, or whenever I can trick Chi into letting me get up from the sofa.

At times, everyone needs that little “bump” life brings. Maybe we have gone stale through routine; maybe we have gotten lost through grief. Whatever the reason, life has a way of bringing opportunity to our doors.  It encourages us to dip a toe back in the collective pool, as it were.

For me, life used dogs to remind me of innocence, to show me how simple it really can be. For me, I’ll even say it was God. I now understand why people say God = dog! It’s not as denigrating as some people like to make it.

Sometimes our human minds get all tied up in complexities. In my case, it was a broken heart. Life bumped me around a bit. I was depressed, and badly so. My mother and God seemed to abandon me at the same time. There was little point. I was scared of the world and unable to relax into outside life any longer. I barricaded myself into my house, resolutely staying away from the outside world. I was locked up tight, blocking the tiniest hint of Light from entering my world. God had little option but to bring something to break through the thousand layers of resistance. And thus, God = dog.

Chi arrived a little damaged as well. We understood each other, despite his peeing on my blanket. If he made the wrong move and sensed he’d displeased us, he’d cringe and hide. It took a while to coax Chi out of his darkness…. And, over time, I found myself being coaxed out of my darkness as well. Occasionally I’d get in a space where I would not want any attention from anyone, human or canine. Chi would stubbornly insist on coming wherever I was at those moments. When I would allow him next to me at those times, we would both benefit.

Eventually, looking back, I had to ask whom was healing whom. For a while I resented “life energy” being present. It was infinitely easier remaining in my comfortable husk of a life. Inevitably, just as the Tao te Ching says, the repeated presence and love of Yin wore its way through the rocks blocking the river of my heart. If it was so with the Grand Canyon, then it’s definitely so with lesser rock structures like the human heart.

To end our time today, I would ask you this question: What makes you come alive?

Now, go do it.

comealive

Blogger’s note: While there is some question of the attribution of this quote to Howard Thurman, it would appear the quote did occur in conversation with Thurman. Thus, I am using it.

Hi! My name is Chi. Well, my name was Chief, once upon a time. When I went to live with my new extended family, they shortened it to Chi. There’s a lot of reasons they did this. One, they wanted me to have a fresh start with a name phonetically similar to my old name, but without the bad memories for me. Two, I’m Chinese. You have to give a Chinese dog a Chinese name. It makes sense doesn’t it! Here’s what Chi means, from the great Wikipedia:

•                       Ch’i or qi (氣), “energy force” in Chinese culture

I sure am a great energy force! And I’m a great source of grounding for everyone around me. And I snuggle – a great heat source when it’s cold, and I am known to lower the blood pressure of my humans. I’m pretty cool.

Wikipedia has more good stuff to say.

In traditional Chinese culture (also chi or ch’i) is an active principle forming part of any living thing.[1][2][3] Qi is frequently translated as “life energy”, “life force”, or “energy flow”. Qi is the central underlying principle in traditional Chinese medicine and martial arts. The literal translation of “qi” is “breath”, “air”, or “gas”.

I’m not quite sure what active principle means, except that I do strut around a lot, and I prance. I’m cute too. I have a squiggly tail my family calls a qirky. I can make my mom laugh just by wiggling my qirky.

I breathe, and snort, and fart. See, that’s in the definition too. So, my name is really good for me.

Usually my mom writes this, but today I’m really glad she let me come and explain my name to you. I hope you all enjoyed learning more about me. Maybe she’ll let me talk with you again sometime.

I think it’s time for a nap… My mom tells me to tell you this topic prompt came from The Daily Post.

chinese_character_qi