Saturday, March 30, 2019

Ringside seat

Hapi and I went downtown today, she was dragging her butt. I may not be able to take her down there much more, she goes so slow and I just want to get my shopping done before the stores close. Plus she wants to visit several shops that I don't want to go to in order to beg for treats. I've had to cut her off those dog treats because most of them are not good for her. I carry good treats for people to give her but they're often too quick for me. Half the time she's not interested in the treats anyway, she just likes visiting. And begging.

I crossed Main Street at a crosswalk to go to the post office. On the other side of the street is a small parking lot and in the slot next to the sidewalk there is a truck parked with an old fellow sitting in it. He is often there, apparently he just parks there to watch the world go by. He was grinning at Hapi slowly crossing the street so I stopped to chat with him.

"You have a ringside seat there," I said. Had to repeat it a couple of times because he couldn't hear me.

Then he basically told me the story of his life. Grew up in the backwoods a little ways from town, adopted by an illiterate couple. He didn't go to school. He says he sits out here now because he doesn't like what's on TV and he can't read, he can hardly write his own name.

I commented on his cap with a logo of a local excavation and building company. I know the company because they did some work for me. He told me he worked for them for 40 years, and before that he worked at a gas station that is long gone now. He said his friend asked him if the company gave him a pension and he told his friend no.

The friend said, "After making all that money from you for all those years, they never gave you a pension? I'm going to speak to them about that!"

The old man just grinned at that. Can't get blood from a stone.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

When your kids are sick

The dogsitter I lined up for the upcoming kayak trip lives just around the corner from me but we communicate via text. The other day I ran into his mother who works at a local big box store. She told me that actually her son is in the hospital seriously ill, but he has his phone with him.

I was alarmed. I admit my first thought was that I was going to have to find someone else and my second thought was that he is often quite ill and who's to say he won't get ill while I am away. His mother assured me that he was on the mend and would be able to dogsit very soon.

"He loves your dog. He misses seeing her," she said.

"This must be hard for you having him be so sick," I said, feeling a little guilty for that not being my first thought.

"Him and his brother," she replied.

I remembered that my dogsitter's brother is in even poorer health.

"Every day that I still have them is a blessing," she said.

Can't be fun.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

I think it might be Spring

This is the frustrating part of Spring, still lots of ice and the temperature swings wildly between below freezing and almost-T-shirt temps. Snow flurries, rain and sun. I can see funny little soil bumps in the garden where tulips are about to push through and the birds are not visiting my birdfeeder near as much (they're too busy nesting). On nice days I've been doing a bit of yardwork in preparation for gardening season.

I've been thinking about preparations for Hapi's demise. My son told me a couple of things about Hiro's last days that made me think that I should be prepared. One is, Hiro spent his last days on my son's bed, Hapi cannot do that because my bed is too high for her to get up on. So I have spent the last few days figuring out how to lower my bed so she can get up. Not that she cares, she has never expressed an interest in sleeping on my bed, but maybe that will change. Another is, I realize that taking a very large dog in pain to the vet's office for euthanasia is just not realistic, I need to talk to the vet about house calls.

Not that I am expecting this to happen in the near future, but the time from my son realizing Hiro was in trouble to the time of death was only a matter of days, I need to be prepared. Most of Hiro's early symptoms were simply signs of old age: stiff joints, increasing lack of energy, and the occasional falter in gait. Hapi has all of those on occasion, but I'm still thinking it's just old age. Another vet conversation. I've decided that I won't be taking heroic measures, but comfort is important.

And I have a kayak expedition coming up in May, very exciting. Already have Hapi's dogsitter lined up, he lives just around the corner so Hapi can stay home while I'm away. This time we won't be camping but rather staying at a lodge on a lake at a seriously discounted price ('winter season'). Hopefully we'll be out there before the black fly become awful but after the ice is gone. So exciting!

I've been off Facebook for a month now. I thought I'd pop back on briefly to let my Facebook friends know what I've done, but every time I think of doing that I just don't feel like it. I was talking to another son over the weekend and he mentioned that he had told my DIL that I was off FB but still on Instagram. I had told him previously that the one thing I miss from FB is that DIL's posts about her kids. So she has decided to move her activity to Instagram, and sure enough I am starting to see her posts there. Sweet!

Two of my grandsons have Instagram accounts so I see their posts as well. One of them is very quirky, as only a 12/13 yo boy can be. I was supposed to Skype with him on his birthday recently but he was having a serious meltdown so the Skype got postponed to the next day. I've never seen a kid who could throw a tantrum like he could when he was a toddler, apparently he has honed his skills in that department now that he is officially a teenager.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Hiro, 2006-2019

Hiro died on Monday March 11. My son arranged for the vet to come to the house and he and his housemates carried Hiro out to the backyard. They surrounded the dog and petted him while the vet performed the euthanasia. Needless to say, my son is devastated and I am pretty sad too. I'm sure Hapi picked up on my mood and has been a little subdued the past few days.

I had to laugh the other day though, I was walking with Hapi downtown and a fellow stopped to ask about her.

"Is that a husky?"

"No, she's a malamute."

"Seems kind of small for a malamute."

"She's a small malamute."

Most people comment on how big she is, someone thinking she is small is pretty unusual!

"And her fur is funny."

"Some malamutes have long hair, some have shorter hair. She's the long-haired kind."

"Malamutes I know have fur this long," and the fellow indicates about a foot with his hands.

"Huh," I said.

He shook his head at Hapi's oddness. Or perhaps he thought I didn't know real malamutes.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Oh Hiro

I just got a message from my son out west who owns Hapi's brother Hiro. Hiro is not well and the veterinarian has suggested that my son consider euthanasia. He might recover on his own but it will be a recurring condition if he does.

It makes me very sad. I love Hiro as much as Hapi I think. He is more stand-offish than she is, but also more vulnerable. Hapi was happy to come live with me but Hiro didn't like it, he depended on Hapi in ways that Hapi did not depend on him. He is a bigger dog and always had less stamina than her, much more of a homebody than she was in their youth.

Oh Hiro, I may not get to see you again.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

She's back!

Hapi and I coming home from the Reservoir
The ice on the Reservoir ponds is buried under a foot of heavy snow. It looks like someone tried to clear some of it but didn't get very far. I think skating is over. But the snow is good for X-country skiing so I've been out doing that and also snowshoeing. Snowshoeing makes trails for the other dogwalkers so I feel like I am performing a service. The town sent a little snow plough into the Reservoir but it didn't get very far, too small. They never used to maintain the trails but I guess with one suicide and a senior falling on an icy trail and requiring an ambulance made the town maintenance people rethink that. The part they cleared is okay but the part where they got stuck is a bit of a mess. The snowshoers and dogwalkers do a better job.

Dee is back! That was the big excitement at the Reservoir this week. Years ago she took a fall in another province and injured her back. One thing and another she had to return home to get treated, by car (2 day drive. Can you imagine? Two days in a car with an injured back?!?). Anyway, she had surgery but unfortunately it only partially fixed the problem. She could walk but she was in severe pain. For years. She and her dog came to the Reservoir almost every day and she was just the funniest, wittiest, sympathetic and sensible person I've met in a long time. Her dog Lily was scared of Hapi but eventually she got over it. Sometimes the pain was too much and she didn't come.

So last November she went back for a second surgery to fix the problem. It was very risky, she might have ended up paralyzed and there was no guarantee they could fix her. But I guess she figured she had nothing to lose. We dogwalkers didn't know until January how it went. The worst of the pain is gone and she is not paralyzed but the surgeon said she had to be careful or all his good work would be undone. Best physiotherapy was walking, so walk she did, just not at the Reservoir where the risk of slipping and falling was too great.

This week after the big snowstorm she thought she might be safe at the Reservoir. She said she would walk by the entrance and poor Lily would cry because she wanted to go in. Everyone who met her was so happy to see her, and Lily was happy to be off leash and meeting all the other dogs. She was even glad to see Hapi! Dee is her old self, funny and witty as ever. Said the walk around the Reservoir ponds was about ten kilometres (it's not), only slightly further than from her bed to her bathroom. She's still in pain but not like before. The surgeon thinks there was a tiny sliver of bone left behind after the first surgery, it's gone now.

It is so good to see her back, it made my day.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Some things you just don't see coming

I had a very interesting experience today, one of those things that make you rethink opinions and attitudes you've held for a very long time.

This morning I took Hapi to the Reservoir as usual and for reasons I won't get into right now I decided to walk along a trail that is well out of the way. One of the mountain bike trails that is narrow and steep.

I had arranged earlier that I would talk to my eldest son on the phone, just to catch up on things since Christmas. Yes it's been that long since I last talked to him. When his dog was still alive we used to go for long dog walks and phone each other, him in Toronto and me in Nova Scotia. Since I was on a trail that I used to walk along for those talks I called him. He was having breakfast in bed and said he was about to call me. So I walked and we chatted, with Hapi following along behind.

At a certain point I noticed that Hapi had stopped quite a ways back, so I stopped too. She was looking back the way we had come and I saw a man coming along behind us. Hapi was waiting for him sociably. I was at a fairly level point in the trail so I stepped off the trail so the man could pass me but he didn't.

He said, "I know you, we met fifty years ago."

I was holding my cell phone, still in the call with my son, so he was hearing the conversation. The man started to describe the time that we met, it was the birth of my youngest son and I realized immediately that the man was the doctor on call that day. It wasn't fifty years ago, it was 42 years, that son has just celebrated his 42nd birthday.

The birth was a home birth, without benefit of a doctor or midwife, just a couple of friends. I lived in a cabin that I had built a couple of summers previous, situated almost a kilometre from the nearest road. No electricity, no running water, no phone. And a blizzard that day with a foot of snow on the ground. The birth went reasonably well but afterwards there was too much blood and one of my friends went to the neighbour's place over a kilometre away to call a doctor. This was that doctor.

Nothing bad happened, everyone survived without intervention, but I did have to go to the hospital "for observation" for a couple of days. There was more blood than there should have been but I didn't think it was life threatening. But I was young and fearless then so perhaps I underestimated.

I never liked that doctor. I thought he said and did things that were uncalled for, but being in a somewhat vulnerable position I did nothing about it other than to avoid ever having to deal with him again. Until today.

He seemed really happy to meet me today. He started recounting that long ago day as he saw it. Our memories did not match up entirely, but after all it was 42 years ago.

He said, "There was so much blood, I was really worried!"

I said, "Really? I wasn't."

He said, "Well you should have been!"

But he said it in a nice way, he wasn't criticizing. Then he told me that that had been his first year in practice and he had only just moved to the area.

"What a way to start out!" he said.

I didn't know that. It kind of put things in a different light. He was inexperienced, trying to handle a situation that he thought was beyond him, trying to appear like he knew what he was doing. And this was my third birth, I did think I knew what I was doing.

He told me that he had just retired.

I said, "Do you miss it?"

He said, "Oh yes, I miss it a lot. All those people, they were like family, they were my family. I miss them a lot."

I was a little sad for him. I didn't know that a doctor might feel like his patients were his family.

Anyway, we shook hands and he continued along the trail, I waited until he was out of earshot.

I said to my son who was still on the phone, "Did you hear that?"

"Wow," he said, "Wow!"

He was six years old at the time and present at the birth. He remembered it.

I always had a very bad opinion of this doctor because of that single encounter 42 years ago. I avoided having anything to do with him. But he turned out to be a nice man, a good person, and probably a good doctor.

Ironically I walk by his house every day on my way to the Reservoir. I didn't think he knew that, but he did.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I also went skating today. I've been trying to go almost every day because you never know when the ice will disappear under a foot of snow or a whole bunch of rain. I tried to go skiing but the snow is very icy and I am a very bad skier. I lose my balance easily and fall down, then it is really hard to get back up again. After the third fall I thought that if I fall again I won't even bother trying to get up. It feels like a lot of work for not much joy. Unlike skating.

Hapi is not keen on my skating or having to go out on the ice but she is patient about it. And today there were lots of kids skating so she got plenty of attention.