Can’t take this lightly

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“Just when you think it’s safe to go back in the water…”

…Something strikes. Well, here we go again. I have two major issues at the moment that both seemed to pop up out of nowhere yesterday, and yet in truth, I shouldn’t be all that surprised about either of them because warning signs were there. I just didn’t register them as much as I might have.

Issue #1 : My mother’s health.

My Mom reads this blog, so I am not going to get into it too much! But we found out that she has some kidney issues that showed up in routine blood work she had done last week. Her kidneys aren’t functioning well, and she is in danger of going into kidney failure if changes are not made soon.

Fortunately, she seems to have gotten the message that this is really, really important and she has to take this seriously, and made an appointment with a kidney disease specialist for January 7th (the soonest she can get in). The fact that they didn’t rush her in this week tells me maybe we don’t have to panic too much—but then again, according to research I’ve done today into the diagnosis they gave her, it’s still quite serious. She truly needs to take better care of herself, and eat right and exercise. It’s not just an option anymore; something she can put off. Nope, it’s got to be done if she doesn’t want to get any worse. I hope she’ll take my advice and start right now with making some healthy changes to her lifestyle as we wait for her appointment.

I’m just so concerned. I can’t handle going through another major health crisis with her health. Her brain aneurysm nearly destroyed my sister and I; the stress of being the main people in charge of our mother’s care when we were barely out of our teens definitely changed us, forever. Seeing your mom on life support the night the aneurysm burst just throws you into a spiral of confusion, grief, “why us?” and anxiety that can’t be fully understood until you experience it. I know that we all have to say goodbye to our parents one day, but still… nothing prepares you for facing it, the moment you are forced to face it.

She was blessed to get better, and to heal and not suffer any major consequences of the aneurysm. The aneurysm itself couldn’t have been avoided, and it was just a bad luck of the draw, really… but everything else so far can be avoided. Her high blood pressure could be avoided if she ate right and exercised; she could quit smoking. She could get regular preventive check-ups, including things like mammograms and stuff. But she hasn’t wanted to, apparently… and nothing my sister and I have said, whether we pleaded with her in tears, screamed at her or logically try to present the facts, has changed that. It’s scary for us. Frustrating, and sad. We want our mother to live a long, healthy life, more than pretty much anything else. Without her, we would lose perhaps the most significant part of our small family. We need her. Seeing her being apathetic about her own health has been almost just as hard as seeing her in that ICU all those years ago. She doesn’t understand the severity of this, and I just pray every single day that she will. I honestly do pray every day for my Mom, and her health. She might not realize that until she reads this, right now, but it’s true. It’s a primary concern for me, and it always will be. So now, I pray even harder for her to help herself and do what has to be done. I pray for her health.

Issue #2: Sandy

I hate being wrong. Or ignorant. However, it appears I might have been one or both of these things when it comes to how well Sandy is fitting in with our home.

As you know, I have reported that things are going well. She has been calm and mellow around the house, and the pets seem to be all getting along. That’s all true. That’s how I saw it. She was a lot calmer, more obedient and seemed to thrive from getting positive reinforcement and direction from the pack leader (me).

But when I was gone, it looks like it’s been a whole other situation.

Remember how I said Hurley had been trying to come with me every day when I was leaving in the morning? How he ran out into the garage, and down the sidewalk that one day? Well, he’s continued to do that. On some days, it wasn’t as noticeable. He would linger near the doorway in the kitchen that leads to the garage, but not try to bolt through the door when it opened. He even went off and ate a treat one morning last week, which seemed like he was back to his usual, normal behavior. (Every morning when I leave, he gets a treat, which he always runs off with to eat in the living room as I am leaving.) He had been refusing treats for the past two weeks, though. Just dropping them on the floor and following me to the door.

On Friday, I went out with my sister and as I left the house, Hurley was back to his run-out-the-door tricks. He circled around my car in the garage, not letting me get too close, and put his feet up on the door of the passenger’s side. He made it clear he wanted to get in the car with me and not be put back in the house. Nothing I did could coax him to come to me, and go back inside. Finally, I did corner him, pick him up and bring him back into the house. He was so sad to go back in. But I had to go.

It bugs me that Hurley’s been so insistent on wanting to come with me whenever I leave. I’ve talked about it with my family and it seemed to be that he was feeling kind of jealous, or pissed about the new dynamic of having two dogs in the house. He had been accustomed to being the center of my world (Simon is a much-loved satellite!) and I thought he was just being a little spoiled, a little selfish about wanting me all to himself. It was sad, because awwww, poor Hurley… he loves me so much and he just wants to be with me. He’s so incredibly sweet and sensitive. How could I not feel bad about leaving him when he is so insistent on joining me?! I’d have to be an evil robot to not feel bad.

However, things  started to unravel yesterday. My Mom came over and we went out to lunch. When we got home, Hurley was limping badly. I checked him over and didn’t see anything bad. No blood, no broken or sprained bones (he let me bend, move and poke everything without yelping or tensing up, except for when I touched the pads on his left front paw… and even then it was just a flinch). I wondered if maybe he had something stuck between the pads, so I checked carefully. Nothing. Then I wondered if he twisted or landed funny when jumping off the ottoman or sofa, where he loves to sit. Once in awhile he “skids” a little on the laminate and tile as he lands, so I thought he might have done that.

But his stomach was all wet. Like, in the middle, but off to one side. I smelled it and it wasn’t pee. It was either saliva or water.

Did Sandy mouth him? It seemed like the most logical answer, because Simon certainly didn’t have enough spit to do that, and besides, he always goes for Hurley’s head and neck. I didn’t think Hurley could bend that way and do the licking himself. Maybe he was standing over the water dish and his hair got wet? I looked through his fur carefully and didn’t see any abrasions or cuts that would point to Sandy biting him. It was really weird.

All night, I watched both of them. My Mom had noticed something odd while she was at my house: she noticed Hurley not making eye contact with Sandy. They would walk past one another, but he wouldn’t look at her. He was also standing very close to me or my Mom. Closer than usual. Sandy was acting totally normal…wandering around, lying down on the tile and dozing, etc. Hurley was the only one acting different, and it was so weird.

Poor Hurley’s foot didn’t get better as the night went on, even though I soaked it in a bowl of warm salt water. I sat with him on the couch for a couple of hours, just petting him and letting him cuddle up against my leg and sleep. We all went off to bed with no problems, although I was clearly still worried about Hurley’s foot.

This morning, it’s no better. Damn. So anyway, I was getting ready to leave for work again… the dogs had been fed and outside in their new daily routine, and I was brushing my teeth. That’s when I heard a dog fight-scuffle in the hallway. I ran out there, and saw Hurley down on the floor, on his back, pushed up against the closet door. Sandy stood over him, face pressed in to bite at his belly. She was snarling and really biting at him, and Hurley was whining and yelping in pain. I ran over and it broke up. Hurley ran and hid in my bedroom and Sandy just kind of stood there. I backed her up and she got the submissive ears-and-posture thing, and I let her know that that behavior was not acceptable. She got the message, but only for about a minute or so… I saw her creeping off to go down the hall again to my bedroom, where Hurley was. I stopped her, though.

Hurley didn’t seem to be badly hurt. I couldn’t really see his belly clearly, since he wouldn’t let me get in there. He didn’t want to lie down for me, which is odd. But I felt around and there was no blood, and I peered underneath him and it just looked all wet. Just like it did yesterday when I got home from lunch.

So, it would appear Sandy has done that to him before. Was yesterday the first time she hurt him? Or has this been going on a lot longer but I never saw anything? Is she on one set of behavior rules when I am present, and another when I am gone? It looks like it. All I know is, I saw Hurley in a completely submissive position today, and she was definitely going at him. She was the aggressor in that case, I think. I can’t say for sure since I didn’t see it start, but based on what I saw, that’s my best guess.

I have written a detailed email to all the rescue people, including their behavior specialist. I haven’t heard back yet, but I hope someone can come to my house this week to assess the situation and help me determine what to do. Right now, she is segregated in my bedroom, and that’s what will happen whenever I am going out anywhere from now on.

This sounds bad, but I don’t think I want to keep her. I feel uneasy about this. I can’t trust her, apparently, like I can trust Hurley and Simon. She is making Hurley miserable, clearly… that has to be why he tries so hard to leave with me. I hate seeing Hurley like this. Hate it. I don’t like this strange energy that I felt in the house; and I hate that I might have missed very obvious clues that something was not going as well as I thought. I think Hurley might have been trying to tell me he didn’t like being alone with her, and I misinterpreted it as clinginess.

I’ll update everyone on the situation as soon as I know more. But I’m kind of hoping the rescue can take her back. I don’t even want them to return the adoption fee or anything like that; I just don’t want them to blacklist me or hate me for “giving up” on a dog, if that’s the way this ends up going. I’m sick of having dogs that don’t work out. I know I had to get rid of Katie that time since she was repeatedly fighting with Greg’s dog, but it sucked. And I felt like a failure. But that wasn’t entirely my decision, either… HE was the one who wanted her gone. Then, I didn’t keep Olive, and sometimes I wonder if I should have. I never wanted her; I mean, she fell into my lap… but I did like her anyway, and I loved her. And then I thought it best to find her a home where she could be the only dog since that seemed to be her preference (although she was never violent about it with Hurley; she showed her displeasure by peeing in front of me and acting up in that way), but I wonder: did I give up on Olive? Should I have kept her?

And now, this. I willingly adopted this dog. I made the sole decision, and if I return her to the rescue, I am the only one deciding that, too (I can’t ‘blame’ another person, like the ex).

Today’s turning out to be a wash, productivity-wise. I’m just really down right now, and anxious and preoccupied with these two issues. I hope it all turns out OK. I hope I get the answers I’m seeking and can make good decisions.

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3 responses »

  1. I’m very sorry to hear about your mom. I know what it’s like to have a parent that doesn’t seem to care for their own health. Maybe seeing it in black and white (here, or in a letter) would help her realize how much it means to you and your sister? Sounds dramatic but whatever works, right? If there are other friends/family around, maybe you could enlist their help in getting her to see how important this is.

    That sucks that you might not be able to keep Sandy. Honestly, though, she can’t be too happy in that situation either, so it’s not like you’re “giving up” on her. I wish you and your loved one (furry and otherwise!) the best.

  2. Thank you. These are just the latest speedbumps, and I know I’ll drive over them soon.
    Wow… somehow, in saying that stupid speedbump analogy, I imagined my Mom lying in the road and a car coming towards her. YIKES! No! No good! (Jesus, brain, why do you think these things? Can’t you work like a regular old brain for five minutes?)

  3. I will be thinking about your Mom and hoping all goes well. I know how it is when a parent goes through a scary, possibly life-threatening disease/event. My mother battled and survived ovarian cancer the year before hubby and I got married. I remember thinking how will I get married without my mom there if she doesn’t pull through? But she did and is now cancer free. To go through another event with your mom must be unbearable, but she is obviously a tough cookie and the love you and your sister have for her can help her through anything. Positive thinking goes a long way.

    I am so sorry Sandy is not working out. I have a feeling there will be more on this as I read up on the posts I have neglected to read lately.

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