Tag Archives: dogs

Grief

I wanted to wait before I wrote this. I wanted to wait until I could offer words of comfort or wisdom or at least feelings of love to people when they come to face this dark place. I wanted to write a beautiful tribute with photos and memories and love.

But I’m not sure exactly when that time will come, and I’ve been working hard to get there, and it’s clearly not happening anytime soon, so I’m not going to wait any longer. I know there are others out there who are going through this same thing right now, so here it is.

If you follow my Instagram account, you will know that I lost Lola almost six weeks ago. Her death was entirely unexpected, and she was surrounded by an excellent medical team at the time. Exactly what happened remains a mystery, and I can’t help but think that perhaps, given Lola’s confounding medical issues during her life, her death was also, maybe, supposed to be a little bit mysterious.

But I still can’t really even fathom that she was supposed to die at all.

I know. Listen. I’m a mostly-rational, intelligent human being. I have lived and lost, and I know death intimately well. I know all too well how it works, and that none of us are getting out of this alive, least of all little pugs. But Lola P was my heart and soul. I loved her from before we met, and the depth of that love grew exponentially over the years. I built my minutes and days around her, and in return, I found a level of happiness and contentment that I never even knew I had been looking for.

I keep saying this “isn’t what I signed up for”, knowing full well that this is exactly what we all sign up for when we give our hearts and souls to a beloved animal.

Lola was my home and my love and my life, and I’m not going to pretend that everything is okay and that I’m all right.

Through minimal effort, or even desire, on my part, I am obviously still alive and able to write this, although this continues to amaze me. How did my heart keep beating when hers stopped? How can I still be breathing when her ashes are sitting in a box beside my bed? My brain is clear enough right now that I can sit down and write this, but I am working hard to not spend my days lost in grief and despair.

Just to be clear, I’m not all doom and gloom to the outside world. I can present as functional when I need to. But I am not pretending I’m okay. I’m not pretending that this is easy, and I’m not hiding how hard this is. I can laugh at jokes. I can empathise and have conversations with my friends and neighbours about their lives. I can eat food, although I truthfully don’t care about it or taste much of it. It’s just there to keep me going, and I have to keep going, because that’s apparently what is happening, anyway.

How am I supposed to explain what this is like? Sleep is fitful, if even at all. Waking up is a continual reliving of the nightmare of the phone call, and of not having her here. Memories are everywhere. Guilt pops up when you least expect it. Anger randomly creeps in, just for balance. The panic comes in massive, unexpected waves. Inertia constantly threatens to consume everything. The tears might stop for a while, but they only return again as sobs, and often in public places. I simply don’t care what people might think anymore.

Every effort to go out into the world and behave like a normally functioning human being is good and positive, but it is usually, eventually met by an equal force of grief that throws me back down the dark well of despair and isolation.

Yes. This is what happens. Welcome to the club. It’s awful here.

I loved Lola fiercely and out loud to the world, and I will grieve her with that same love, equally and unapologetically.

Lola taught me to be present with her in the world – how to stop and listen and experience life through her perspective. She leaves a legacy that has changed me at my core.

I will not stop loving her, and she will always be my little Queen.

I know, from people who are loving and supportive, and who understand, that these feelings will likely temper with time, that I will learn how to better live with the loss of my girl, and that this isn’t a permanent state, it is a painful shift to an unrequested, new state of being.

And when I’m closer to that place, I will write again, hopefully with supportive words of calm and wisdom so that others who are grieving such a loss will know there actually might be a light in this hellishly dark tunnel.

But I’m not there yet.

I love you, Bean. I miss you.

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Senior Pug Life

Living with a senior pug is simply the best – either with a pug you’ve known and grown with over the years, or a senior who has more recently come into your life.

Senior pugs, like the best senior people, know who they are, know what they want, and their personalities just shine. They finally grow into their full selves, which, in Lola P’s case, means being as sassy and sure of herself as she’s ever been. Also – the cuteness! Puppies are off-the-charts adorable, but nothing is as beautiful to me as a silver speckled senior snout (or snout-less, as is the case with pugs).

What also often comes along with getting older – for people and pugs alike – are medical issues. Alas, this is one reason why so many mature pugs come into rescue – some folks either can’t, or won’t, afford their pug’s, often complicated, medical care.

Lola is now 13.5 years old, and for a pug her age, she’s doing great.

Our walks are much, much shorter now, and our pace is often glacial, but Lola P is engaged, feisty, and full of the life and spirit that so completely defines who she is, and she continues to teach me and challenge me to grow.

Being the medical mystery and marvel that she is, Lola has been through the healthcare wringer over the past few years, and my life has slowly changed to accommodate her developing needs. These changes will likely sound familiar to other loving, senior dog people.

A shockingly high percentage of my social time is spent in vet hospital waiting rooms, chatting with veterinarians and vet techs, and sharing stories with fellow pet parents. I consider our home vet to be family, and not only because I speak with him more these days than I do my own family.

My travel, evening, and weekend plans have been curtailed, and are often cancelled if the weather isn’t right, or if Herself isn’t feeling quite well and maybe needs a more watchful eye to make sure she’s okay.

Let’s talk about the spending. New shoes? Nope. Fancy dinner out? Nope. With many vet visits come many vet bills – and some of ours have been hefty. But I am so deeply grateful to be able to fork over the cash to save or extend my little one’s life. We have an amazing (and growing) medical team, and they deserve every penny, and more, that we give them. And I would rather have a healthy, happy pug than a newer, bigger TV, or whatever other stuff I’m told I *need* to have in order to be happy.

Speaking of spending… There are folks who have told me (repeatedly, and without solicitation) that Lola is “just a dog”, and that I’m crazy to devote so much time and money to her care, but, to be frank, those aren’t my people. I have stopped trying to explain myself to folks like this (some of whom I am related to), and I just feel sad for them now. Doubly sad if they happen to have an animal in their home.

I know what is important to me, and I know where my time, money, and energy are best spent. The level of care that I give Lola is simply a part of the dedication and love that I believe inherently comes with welcoming any new family member into my home, no matter how many legs they might have.

Dogs are family. The love and connection that our animals bring into our lives is unmatched and irreplaceable, and that love just gets sweeter as their faces get greyer, and their bones get creakier. The only rotten part of the deal is that we don’t get to have them in our lives forever. And that is simply the worst.

I have been quiet on this site because I’ve been focused on getting Lola the best care possible over the past year and a half, and dealing, sometimes not so elegantly, with the emotional roller coaster ride that comes along when a dearly loved one starts to show signs of faltering.

Senior pug life is something that I think only the luckiest among us get to experience. It’s not for the weak, and it is growing and breaking my heart open in ways that I never thought possible, but it is also the sweetest and most rewarding part of my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. …unless it’s the chance to do it all again from the beginning.

Cheers to the seniors. They are the best among us. May they all have safe, soft spots to sleep, and a kind person to love and care for them, and, in Lola’s case, at least, a quick and obedient mama who jumps at her every whim and command.

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Pug Eye Health

Do you have a pug?

Does your pug have eyes?

Not a joke question. A lot of pugs are “winkies” (one-eyed), or have had to have both eyes removed.

The late, great, Hazel, is my favourite example of an awesome, eyeless pug.

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In the six years leading up to bringing wee Lola Pug home, I learned a *lot* about pugs. Among many things, I confirmed that pugs are, indeed, spectacularly awesome, and I accepted that a lot of my time and income would be going into keeping my pug healthy.

Well. Lola has turned out to be more awesome than I ever could have imagined, and I have, indeed, spent a sizeable portion of my income keeping her healthy. And as she ages, her medical needs have increased.

Which brings us to today’s post. And pug eyes.

Do you see what I see?

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Trick question – there are two things going on here. Ignore the obvious blob, and look further.

Lola and I are no strangers to the pug eyeball game. She has already had two eye injuries that required surgery to heal, so we know that corneal ulcers are not to be messed with. Ulcers are serious and fast moving injuries that can lead to blindness, or worse.

We immediately trotted over to see Lola’s eye specialist – who we had just seen a few weeks before for a routine eyeball health check up – to get the diagnosis and treatment plan.

Lola seemed to take the news in stride.

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To help an eyeball heal, you have to pull out the full Monty of treatment and care, and that’s just what we did. Meds, detailed and timed application of meds, and the dreaded CONE.

 

A lot of work, indeed. But you know what?

It’s working.

It’s working because we’re diligent with care – and with keeping the cone on – and because we got lucky.

Corneal ulcers are most common with stuffy faced dogs – Pugs, Bosties, Bulldogs, Frenchies, Shih Tzu’s, etc – but they’re not the only breeds – or species – to have these issues. So be diligent!

How can you tell if your pet has an eye ulcer?

A few symptoms that Lola Pug has experienced include:

  • Watery eyes
  • Wincing, winking, or closure of one eye
  • Red eyes
  • Pawing at eyes
  • Sensitivity to light

What can you do if you think your dog has a corneal ulcer?

Get. To. Your. Vet.

It will not get better on it’s own.

And besides. If you go to your eye specialist, you’ll likely meet a lot of coneheads who are in the same situation as you are, and misery loves company, right? (yes, that’s a cat in a cone in a crate, and boy, did I feel sorry for him)

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So. Pug eyes.

They require attention, time, and sometimes many vet visits to keep healthy and happy. Especially if your pup likes to go on sniffy adventures, or is aging.

Don’t overlook obvious symptoms, do exactly as your vet specialist tells you, and hopefully your pup will have a lifetime of healthy vision.

And as for that blob on Lola’s eyelid?

Well, that’s a whole other unfolding story. To be updated next time. I promise.

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Obey the Pug.

Keep your pet’s eyeballs safe.

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Filed under Adventures, Friends, Pug Health

Tick Talk

I’m supposed to be studying today, so here I am writing a long overdue blog post. Because that’s what happens, right?

I blame Spring Fever!!!!

Lola P has been through the mill with health issues this winter, so we have been quiet for a while as we dealt with and recovered from our dramas. More about that in upcoming posts, perhaps, but for now, she is better than ever, and my goodness, have we been out and celebrating with little adventures!

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Spring has sprung in Toronto, and in addition to MANY more walks on the nature trails around Casa Lola, this means a trip to see Lola’s Uncle Deji to get her bloods done and pick up her heartworm meds for the summer.

This year, we have a new addition to her medicine cabinet, as 2017 is the year of TICKS IN THE 6IX*! (*clever title courtesy of Dr. Deji)

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Ticks are bad. Capital “B” bad. And they have invaded our fair northern shores in numbers not seen before (thanks, humans and global warming). Ticks carry Lyme disease and other dangerous fevers, and they LOVE to feed on the blood of dogs, cats, and their resident humans, causing many, sometimes fatal, health issues. So as much as I am not a fan of giving LP more meds, these are necessary.

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Thankfully, the tablets aren’t so gross to eat, apparently, so there were no hesitations from the Bean about her new monthly snack.

…and now we can venture out into the wilds of the Toronto Parks system again without (much) fear of LP playing host to these ghastly parasites. (I still have to worry about myself, however)

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Ticks aren’t to be messed with. They feed on all forest creatures – birds, raccoons, dogs, humans – and they wait on grass, dead leaves, sticks, even cement, to find a host so they can fulfil their gross and parasitic life purpose.

Talk to your vet. Learn more on trusted sites online. Protect yourself, protect your fur kids, and GET OUT THERE AND LOVE NATURE! Well. Love everything except ticks. And mosquitos. And black flies. But love the bees. And everything else.

Happy Spring, All!

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Sunbeam Pug

Aside from the cooler temperatures, there really isn’t much that The Pug appreciates about winter anymore.

It gets TOO cold for her older little bones to handle, and then add in the slush and the salt and the wind and the tonnes of wet snow, and I have a very grumpy little soul on my hands.

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The one thing winter does bring us, however (aside from relief from those 40 degree summer days), is Lola’s beloved sunbeam.

When I see the sunbeam come in the window, I pull out one of Lola’s beds, and position it just so before I call her over to let her know her winter bestie has arrived.

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Someone wanted company in the sunbeam the other day, though, and she wouldn’t stay on her bed unless I was there with her, so I picked up my work and…

…well, I’ve had tea in worse places.

I think.

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Snooze well, little one. Mama is right here beside you.

 

 

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Stanley the Christmas Visitor

Stanley and Lo are lifelong buddies. Both are beloved only children, both love their personal space, and both are little weirdos. A perfect pair, right?

Aside from her cousin Roxy, Stan is the only visitor who LP tolerates having in her space for longer than a few minutes, so when he came to stay with us over Christmas again this year, he fit in perfectly.

Seniors take lots of naps, so there was a lot of snoozing…

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…interrupted by a few adventures to visit Hanna, our favourite pet supply shop owner (and treat giver)….

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No holiday is complete without a gift to open on Christmas morning, so I bought Stanley some special snacks to open on Christmas Day. Stan is a bit of a picky eater, so I was worried he wouldn’t like them, but I was a deeply mistaken.

I think that I shall never see a Stan as sad as this Stan can be….

Stan’s stay with us involved lots of begging for snacks (he’s not subtle), lots of napping and love, and lots of waiting for his beloved Dad to get home.

And the obligatory formal family photo, of course. (The price of admission to Casa Lola is usually the humiliation of posing for a seasonal photo or two)

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Lifelong buddies and gorgeous old souls.

Now onto our 2017 adventures, friends!

 

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Merry Christmas Pug

From all of us at Casa Lola, we wish you peace and joy and the Merriest Christmas!

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First Aid Pug

Ever since Lola Pug was a crazy (and I do mean crazy) little pup, I have wanted to take a pet first aid course, just so I could be prepared to at least not make things worse if Bad Things happened.

11 years later, with a few emergencies under my belt, but also with a senior pug on my hands, I finally decided to bite the bullet, and off we went together to take the Walks n Wags Pet First Aid certification course.

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The course I chose to take was all in one day (yay!), and it clocked in at a hefty 10 hours, so Lola P and I settled in to learn and, much to my delight, have a lot of fun.

Well. I had fun. I mean…

…have you ever seen a pug in a pug muzzle?

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…well now you have, Clarice.

I wasn’t sure who else would be at the class, but it was a great mix of dog professionals (trainers, walkers, groomers, etc), and folks like me, who love their dogs – all dogs – and simply want to be better prepared to help in an emergency.

The first, and actually most impressive, rule of Pet First Aid?

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You are NOT A VET! GET TO A VET!

And while you work to get to a vet, here are some things you can do to help….

We learned how to identify lots of problems and issues, and then we moved on to practice bandaging a whole host of the more common cat and canine body injuries. And we met some lovely fellow participants in the process.

…all of whom were about as equally thrilled to be our live and squirmy test models. We were fortunate to have stuffies there to practice on, as well.

After a much needed lunch break, we got into the more exhausting topics, like choking, AR, and CPR. Now, supervising is what Lola does best, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise that she seemed to enjoy this segment most of all.

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She even got into the action to help! …or something….

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All of the human brains got filled up with some really great experiences and learning, and as we sat down to take the exam at the end of our full day, the pups were able to take a rest while we applied our knowledge to the certification exam.

I wrote my exam with a certain little pug lying on my lap and stamping on my bladder, but I somehow still managed to pass with flying colours. And so did Lola P!

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A huge thank you to Margaret Pender from DogGone Right! for being such a great first aid teacher, and thanks to the folks at Walks n Wags for creating such a comprehensive, inclusive, interactive, and fun course.

Just to note – I was not compensated for this blog post. I am genuinely impressed with the course and the materials covered in it, and I am very happy and relieved that I finally became a certified Pet First Aid responder. Lola Pug might tell you a different story, but I think she secretly loved being there, as well.

 

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Pug in a Hammock

This summer (like last summer) has been hooooot and sticky here, which is never good for pugs, let alone a black senior pug with many medical specialists on her payroll.

Which is all to say that when LP and I received a fabulous invitation to go and hang in the breezy countryside out near a (different) lake, we jumped in the car and drove, baby!

I had glorious plans to visit the beach, explore the town, and eat lots of baked goods, but when we reached our destination, this charming oasis greeted us….

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Notice the hammock?

Yah. So did I. Immediately.

Lola wasn’t so much a fan of the ‘Mmock at first…

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But I kept hauling her up beside me, and she eventually found her comfortable spot…

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…like, REALLY found her comfortable spot….

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So those plans that I had? To visit the beach and the town and to eat lots of baked goods?

Not so much.

But I don’t think that Lola Pug was too disappointed about that.

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So now I have yet another task on my hands.

A pug hammock.

Wish me luck, possums…and please share any tips or tricks if you have made your own dog hammock! (because who hasn’t??)

Also, special thanks to Olive and Oscar (these rascally souls here) for letting Lola Pug and I use their country getaway place (and their hammock) for a few days.

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Filed under Adventures, Friends, Frienemies, Hello Sunbeam, Slothpug, Traveling Pug, Weather

Pokemon Pug!

Like all great relationships, Lola Pug and I take turns at being “The Sensible One”. I waggle my finger at her when she wants to eat cigarette butts on the sidewalk, and she lets me know (loudly) whenever I have my eyeballs glued to my phone (and not on her) for too long.

But my pretense of having any maturity and good sense flies away faster than a frog in a tornado when something especially sparkly lands in my lap, and this past week delivered a pretty sparkly distraction for many of us.

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“Many” meaning most definitely not Lola Pug or Stanley.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t keep introducing her to the little creatures who are popping up in our ‘hood.

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There’s some sort of family resemblance to this one….

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Looks as if she’s warming up to the Zubat.

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Should I be worried?

Oh. Maybe THIS is her soulmate. She seems to be interested in it, at least.

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Yah. I think we have the winner here.

At least I think we do. It appears as if Lola begs to differ….

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The super hot summer we’re having in Lola P’s hometown has meant that we can’t be out and exploring as much as we want to, but I will sure keep my eyes peeled for new creatures to introduce to Lola.

Has your fur kid met any Pokemon yet? Which one do you think they resemble most?

And most pressingly…which Pokemon above do you think Lola Pug most resembles?

Happy hunting!

 

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