The beginning..again

I’ve been working on a new blog site, but I’ve hit a bit of a wall. 

I want to start writing again, but honestly I have a hard time tearing myself away from Netflix in the evenings and chores on my days off. It’s tough to keep up with a hobby. About a week ago while trying to start the novel I’ve been wanting to write for the last 10 years I wrote a little something that I thought I’d share. 

My childhood was magical. I read Harry Potter and I really thought that I was a witch about to go to a faraway Hogwarts to learn spells, have a pet owl, and ride on a broomstick. I believed in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. I would stay up late and try to catch them, and my 6 year old self would have told you that I saw Santa once by my Christmas tree fixing an ornament. I rode my bike through the enchanted forest behind our house and came across a wicked being with a hooked nose and a wart every now and then. I would escape to the woods and pretend I was the kid from My Side of the Mountain. I would take my supplies consisting of granola bars, the latest novel I was reading, my dog Dax, and a blue bucket that I could collect pond water for drinking. I would sit by the pond, eat snacks and day dream the day away. I had barbecues and bonfires. I made snow forts and went sledding down the big hill at my elementary school. I was like Peter Pan and was convinced that I would never grow up. I thought those days would last forever. When reality came crashing in and the bus took me to middle school in town instead of my small school with no more than 100 children I was devastated. I don’t think I ever got over the feeling that I wouldn’t be 10 forever. I was a smart kid but I wasn’t ready for the next stage of my life. I clung onto Barbie dolls much longer than most and swore I’d never date a boy. But I did, and I did grow up.

I went to high school, then to college, and then to the work force. I moved on and away from the beautiful green and white house that looked like a barn. The one I called home for 12 years of my life. I can’t go to the pond with Dax anymore because she died when I was 22. As the years have gone on I’ve lost many memories from that time in my life. I don’t exactly remember all the details as I once I did, but I remember feeling free. I remember tossing my blond hair in the wind and singing Julie Andrews’ “These are a few of my favourite things” as loudly as I wanted to, because I didn’t care. I wish I still had a little more of that girl left inside of me. I wish her confidence didn’t die at age 11. I want to be able to live like my life is a musical again. Most of all I wish I could laugh and run and dance like I did back then. I wish I hadn’t let someone tell me that impressing others was the most important thing about life, because it’s not. At 25 I’ve found myself again, but I will never get those years back. The years that I could’ve spent enjoying things instead of crying over my weight, or some guy, or some assignment that does not matter anymore.

I find myself wishing that I could rewind time a lot so I could relive certain events. The big ones. The ones that somehow altered who I was. I’d go back to that dance and tell myself to get up out of the corner, to wipe the tears from my eyes and tell that hockey jock to F off. I would have fun and dance how I wanted. I’d wear my glasses and ignore anyone who said I looked nerdy with overalls on. I liked my overalls and glasses I don’t know why I let someone decide that I didn’t. I would go back and get good grades in high school and stop worrying about what everyone was doing on the weekend. I’d still be the center of attention but it would be because I was brilliant not because I was wild and obnoxious. I’d be a vet or a marine biologist like I always wanted to. I wouldn’t let my first love steal my shine and break me down to a weak little waif. I’d be confident and eat chocolate and watch a sappy film and move on. I’d still meet the love of my life in the end and we’d have an apartment and a great man to share our space with (the love of my life is my dog), but I wouldn’t have went through so much pain to get here because I would have been me.

Somewhere along the way I let someone tell me that being myself was weird and I should change.

What goes on back there? The question all dog groomers hate. 

What goes on back there? Do you have some secret lair? A torture chamber? Why is that dog barking? Is he scared? Who’s back there hurting him?
These are the questions that all groomers hate. What’s going on back there are people loving up on your dogs. They’re back there bathing them, or giving them a bowl of water and a fluffy towel to relax on. There might be groomers back there joking around with their co-workers, just like you do at your job, and probably fetching your dog a treat. 

There might be dogs that are scared to come to the groomer because they’re not used to the experience. They might bark because they’re not kennel trained, or maybe they’re dog aggressive, or they have not experienced having their nails touched before. For dogs that don’t go to a groomer frequently enough its probably a lot like being dropped off with an alien whom you don’t understand and can’t figure out exactly what you’re expected to do. They think they’re being punished and don’t know what they’ve done to be separated from the people that they love. 

Your dogs don’t want you to leave them, remember you’re their number one. Most of the time when you leave they do just fine with us, even though they’d really rather they were home with you. Please remember that we can only do the best that we can to make your dog comfortable. If going to the groomer is a foreign concept for your dog, they’re likely going to be really nervous and might even do things they normally wouldn’t like bite, scratch, bark, or whine. 

No we don’t have a torture chamber out back. MOST groomers love dogs and would never do anything to harm their favourite companion. We’ve chosen to spend all day working with dogs even after being pooped on (and yes, we’ve all been pooped on).  Most of us own our own furry friend and treat all of our clients as if they were our own. 

This isn’t to say that accidents don’t happen. They do, but a lot less frequently than you’d think. We’re trained to use sharp tools to cut the hair of a moving target, who isn’t always the most cooperative client and doesn’t usually know how to sit still. Sometimes a head, or a leg, or a bum moves too quickly, but most of the time we know how to avoid any scratches or cuts. Matting is a major reason why groomers are accused of nicking a dog and most of the time it’s actually a mat that’s too tight and has been left too long that causes the redness. Matting tugs at your dog’s skin. It’s heavy, painful, and cuts off circulation. Reds bumps, swelling, infection, parasites, and scratches are examples of what mats can conceal. 

Dogs in good condition who visit a regular groomer every 4-8 weeks usually love their pet stylist. They’re often excited to see them. They might still be hesitant to leave mom or dad, however they are are ok with going to see their friend who does weird things to them, but also give them treats and lots of love, and after makes mom and dad really happy. That’s what it’s all about for us. We like to make dogs feel comfortable, healthy, and loved in the short amount of time that they’re with us. 

Training my dog: an “aha moment”

I should start this post by saying I am not a dog trainer. I’m a dog owner who feels that good manners are important in the dog world. I don’t have everything figured out, but I’ve learned what works for MY dog. Everyone has different opinions on dog training, this is just a story about MY experiences. 

I have a fearful, leash reactive, little dog. I’m ashamed by the behaviours that I have fostered in him. He’s not a rescue, he’s been my bundle of joy from the beginning of his life, but I made some serious errors in his training from a young age. The biggest mistakes I made were coddling him when he was scared and reinforcing “tough guy” behaviour. 

I’m so thankful that I learned early in his life that it’s never too late to correct negative actions, but now we have to work twice as hard. I’m happy to say that he’s come a long way. Lately, while at the park I get comments like “he’s the most well behaved little dog I’ve ever met” or ” he’s so nice for a little dog”. We’re not quite up to “big dog standards” yet, but I’m pretty confident that we’ll get there. 

Today, Bane had an “aha moment”, I saw a lightbulb turn on in his sweet little face. 

At our local off-leash park Bane and I do some practice during quiet times (morning-early afternoon). Bane does this thing when he meets other dogs where he’ll lay on his stomach and wait until the dog gets closer, then at the last second he’ll bolt towards them. This is very poor manners in the dog world and, rightfully so, scares other dogs. We’ve been working on correcting this, but today I didn’t catch him in time. I wasn’t being observant enough and didn’t see the other dog coming. Bane started to run up to the dog and I was so disappointed in myself. All of a sudden Bane stops dead, turns around, and sits to face me waiting for his treats. Needless to say I was a very proud dog-mom and Bane got a handful of treats. 

I was proud of him today, but also in myself. I could easily toss my hands in the air, say “little dogs will be little dogs” and give up. I won’t because I made a commitment when I was handed that snuggly, little puppy to give him the best life possible, which includes repairing the damage I’ve done. As a little dog owner I try to remind myself that at the end of the day, regardless his size, he’s still a dog and it’s so important for his well-being to have good manners. I don’t know if he’ll ever be able to sit politely when meeting another dog without a handful of treats waiting in the wings, but we’re working on it. 

Old dogs 

As a groomer I have the utmost privilege of working with your beloved pets. It’s not something I take lightly. I groom each dog with my whole heart. I appreciate all of your pets, but none are more special to me than the mottled grey faces. 

I’ve met a lot of old dogs and each have a quality that younger dogs do not seem to have. Their older faces have a sweet calmness, a permanent smile, that only a long and blissful life can provide. Their eyes are often clouded with age, but behind the fog is the twinkle of undying loyalty. 

I’m often a stranger to these dogs, but they lay their heads on my lap or chest and I see appreciation in their otherwise blind eyes. Many young dogs push back with resistance against grooming, but my old friends try their best. They stand after I’ve done everything to make them more comfortable. They could sit or even lay down for the process, I’m sure I’ve shown them that it’s ok to relax, but they never do. 

I had an old girl in for grooming yesterday morning who was one of these special souls. Her joints were so tired. Her dad let me know that she might collapse because she can’t support her weight for too long anymore. Her legs failed her a few times, but she tried so hard to stay still and to stand. There were so many times I looked into her cloudy eyes and touched her sweet, grey face and saw the unconditional love of my childhood dogs. I’m sure the groom was uncomfortable for her, but her body language stayed loose and her tail didn’t stop wagging for our entire visit. 

It’s no secret that I love all dogs and I’ll never understand why some people don’t. When I started my journey to becoming a groomer almost two years ago I never imagined just how many dogs would earn a space in my heart. They’ve all squashed their way in and have changed me. You spend your relationship with your dogs trying to teach them something, but everyday I learn to live more appreciatively from your old dogs. 

Anxiety 

Uneasy and on edge. 

Nervous and unsettled. 

Relaxation is non existent.

 Mind is racing 

Always anticipating

The next moment. 

Chest is never steady with the flutters of fear gathering in the centre. 

There is no end and no rest. 

It’s hard to swallow

It’s hard to breath 

It’s hard to exist. 

Getting out of the misc. section 

Being a writer is interesting. Sometimes words pour out and other times the creative tap runs dry. For the last six months I’ve had no desire to write. I’ve been lost in monotony with nothing interesting to say. I’ve been taking in a lot of novels, nature, music and the company of my little dog Bane. 

Today, I watched a documentary called “It Might Get Loud” which profiles guitar greats Jack White, Jimmy Page, and The Edge. These three musical geniuses came together and basically just hung out and chatted about their careers together for this doc. If you’re into music, specifically great guitarists this is a must see. It’s just an hour and a half of guitar solos and music talk. 

Watching this doc made me realize I have a creativity that I haven’t been using. I’ve been lazy. Not in the physical sense, but definitely in the mental sense. I’ve been letting other’s do the creating for me. 

I read a good post the other day that discussed taking your blog and simplifying it. Picking one topic that you’re an expert on and rolling with it. The problem is with my journalism background I was supposed to appear to be an expert on everything. I don’t have that one topic that I’m passionate about, but I’m going to try and find it. Here’s what I do know. I’ve been enjoying learning about dogs, I like music, I take a lot of photos, I read a lot of books and I like to take long walks in the woods. I don’t care much for fashion, excersizing, or cooking extravagant meals (so no basic blog stuff I guess). 

For now my blog remains in the miscellaneous section, but I look foward to letting my creative juices start to flow again. 

Food is my nemesis 

I have a love/hate relationship with food that most people can’t grasp. I’m almost certain that unless you have a food restriction of some sort due to something such as allergies or in my case Crohn’s disease this post will be difficult to understand. 

Since I received my diagnosis I literally think about food 24/7. I’m on an extremely restrictive diet, called a low residue diet, indefinitely, that doesn’t allow me to eat most fruit, most raw/cooked veggies, whole grains, seeds, nuts, red meat, and popcorn (my food love for life). I have scarring in my bowel from going undiagnosed for so many years so being on a low residue diet keeps my pain at bay and also prolongs my need for surgery. When I was placed on this diet it was only meant to be temporary but after a year my specialist thought it was best to stay on it because surgery for Crohn’s patients can often cause the disease to move to other parts of the digestive tract. 

I’m always conscious about what’s in my food and something as small as a whole wheat bun instead of white can completely throw off my day. I have legitimately found myself angry with restaurants or even extended family members and friends because my dinner is incorrect. It’s hard sometimes not to burst and say “I’m not being picky, this food could literally send me to the hospital.” Or put me in excruciating pain for a few days. 

When people talk about being “hangry” I can completely relate. When the only foods I’m able to eat basically have zero nutrients I literally spend all day hungry and waiting for my next meal. I ate relatively healthy before my diagnosis so I was definitely spoiled. I find myself choosing the tastier, but less healthy options because they allow me to have some semblance of normalcy. 

I’m tired of explaining myself and describing my situation to each new person I meet. People often come off as accusatory or sceptacle when I’m discussing how Crohn’s affects me. Most of the time it’s too confusing for someone who can’t relate or someone tries to relate too heavily but they really don’t get it. It’s an all the time thing for me. Sometimes people might know someone who has Crohn’s and can’t understand why my diet is different. 

Food is my happy place and my nemesis. It causes me joy and some of the worst physical pain. Most of my thoughts revolve around ingestibles.