Yesterday was Gina’s 12th birthday, and tomorrow is Odin’s 8th or 9th birthday, so we decided to celebrate both at the same time yesterday. They both got a little cake with a candle, and lots of freshly grilled steak. They were super stoked. This morning I took Odin for a “birthday” 2-mile walk. He is a happy, tired little Boog.
We will celebrate Azzie’s 9th birthday in April, with more cake, ice cream, and steak!
In memory of our sweet Hazel, and also to commemorate Gina’s 12th birthday (a HUGE milestone for a Bernese Mountain Dog) we planted our live “Christmas” tree. We called him Pepe the Pinon Pine. Long may he thrive and provide shelter to birds and shade to the humans and cats.
What have I been up to? Wow. So much. We can all agree that 2021 has been a hard, harsh year. Here’s hoping 2021 treats us all gently.
Gina turns 12 in February, Odin turns 8 or 9 in March, and Azzie turns 9 in April! *touch wood* They are all healthy and happy, and they will remain that way if I have any say in it. Gina only goes on short toddles down to the local park (barely half a mile) and Azzie joins Odin and I on our shorter walks. Odin and I are still trying to get out on long walks together about 3 or 4 times a week.
I am still working as a virtual medical scribe, but I changed companies a few months ago (the other company I worked for was bought out by a huge global conglomerate and they were making some rather dubious and unhelpful changes to our processes, so I decided to leave) and now working for a nice little company based in the US. I’ve risen quite quickly in the ranks – now mentoring 3 scribes on 3 different doctors, as well as performing QA work on notes from all the other scribes, and working as sole scribe for my beloved Dr. H – who FOLLOWED ME FROM THE OTHER COMPANY TO MY NEW COMPANY! Yes! FOLLOWED ME! He also brought the rest of the clinic with him! This put a lot of brownie points on my cards, so I was astounded and thrilled! The work is tiring, but I like to teach/help people. Still liking my work, too! I get to work from home in my pajamas and avoid all the silliness that goes on out in the world at the moment. The USA is screwed, really. But I am sure you have heard/read the news. I avoid news – especially mainstream media – and I am no longer on ANY social media platforms. I deleted my Instagram account a few days ago after reading/hearing about the new draconian Terms of Service which allows them free reign and access to your accounts, computer and life. I thought it was just the usual dramatic overreaction by people (people like to do that these days – have you noticed?) but I actually read them, and read some breakdowns of them by intelligent people, and, yeah, it’s unbelievable what they think they can get away with. So, sadly, I deleted my account (will only officially be gone in Feb, but it is no longer accessible) and now figuring out other ways to express myself, I guess.
My photography was limited to my phone anyway, with Instagram – and, while I got some beautiful shots and have good memories there that I am glad I caught, I really need to get back into my _real_ photography with Bertha (my D300) as best I can here in New Mexico. We have, as we always do wherever we live, created our “Bird Bar” in our backyard, and we now have hundreds of birds coming by daily to feast, and many different species, so I have started photographing them! We have some unique/rare birds coming by, including a Greater Roadrunner! She/he (you can’t tell, as the males and females look identical) has a crushed/crumpled left foot, and we don’t know where her/his mate is – we used to see the two of them together, so something bad must have happened, as they mate for life – so we do our best to make sure he/she has lots of food, water, and a very safe place to relax for a bit whenever he/she needs it. Our backyard is a bird sanctuary, basically! We have a bunch of “wonky” birds (no legs, weird beaks, missing eyes, broken/crushed feet, gigantic compared to their brethren, etc) in our Bird Bar, and we are rather proud of that! Speaking of birds, I rescued (yes, right out of a tree) a yellow and green Budgie a few weeks ago – Husband called him Commidus the Elusive (named after a famous/infamous Roman gladiator) as he was clearly a little survivor, living with the Finches and Sparrows for we don’t know how long. He was traumatized (not by us, but probably in his escape/abandonment) and he is slowly coming out of his shell. In order to help him learn how to Budgie (as he could only Sparrow or Finch!) we also got a little female Budgie who was all on her own at PetSmart, looking very miserable and sad. We called her Julia (the Roman version) aka Jules, and she has been instrumental in helping him become a happy, talkative, Budgie-like Budgie 🙂 They are loud and obnoxious and we love them.
Husband is busy getting his degree, and he is doing well! He starts his next series of courses on Monday, after a very short break for the holidays.
Also, on the morning of 10/10/2020, I went across to the Big House (my mother-in-law’s place) to feed the feral cat colony, as I do every morning, and as I was about to leave, I saw 2 dogs hanging around. One was a golden coloured female Pitbull mix (looked like a Staffie more than the American Pitbull) and the other was a tiny, cream coloured Chihuahua male. The Pittie was clearly in very bad shape… and I burst into tears. I got them both some water in a big bowl and put it along the fence (it is still very warm in October, here) and backed off to my car. Both dogs came to the water (the female was struggling to walk) and drank the bowl almost dry. I didn’t know what to do – it was a Saturday, so nobody was around to watch them and no rescues/vets open) so I drove home… but I sobbed the whole way because of the way the female looked… my heart was utterly overwhelmed with pity and sadness for her, and anger at whoever had abandoned her. I got home… tried to explain to Husband what I had seen.. but I was sobbing so much he could barely understand me, but asked me if I wanted to go back and do something, and I nodded yes, yes, definitely yes. So we drove back and found the Pitbull lying at the gate… clearly in a great deal of pain, and looking like she wanted to give up. The little Chihuahua was close by, guarding her, yapping away.
Very slowly, Husband went closer and closer to her, and eventually managed to touch her head and stroke her neck… and she initially looked very scared, but she then just relaxed, let out a big sigh, and let him stroke her head and what was left of her ears (they had been chopped off.. BADLY… as the idiots around here like to do with Pitbulls to make them look mean). We called around, mobile vets, rescues, etc… but nobody wanted to help. Thankfully, I had saved the number of Frank – a friend of my mother-in-law’s – who had helped get all the feral cat colony spayed and neutered many years ago, and had helped us with some other dogs we found (and found homes for or found the owners) – and we called him, desperate. He JUMPED to help us. He is an amazing man. We then found out he was a top man at the Humane Society in NM! We didn’t know that – he’s such a down to earth guy. He called his friend (also a top dog at HS) who was called the Dog Whisperer (and had dealt with many Pitbulls – as we had never dealt with them and we were a little nervous, if I’m honest) who came to help. He walked up to Hazel (as we later found out her name was) and she immediately just let him touch her… by that time we had gotten her and the Chihuahua into the nice cool, grassy yard, and they were lying under the trees in the shade, sleeping safely for the first time in a long time, it seemed. The little guy did not leave her side. We later called him Lambert, because he had little “lamby” ears and ended up being SO sweet and gentle. With Frank’s help we got Hazel into a kennel to get her to the emergency vet (the only ones willing to help us) and we drove her there, with Lambert. She had pyometra (her uterus was filled with pus and it was leaking into her body) from being over-bred. She had heartworms (badly – they had scarred her lungs already) and other tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease. She was in a very, very bad way. The vet said she was on death’s door, basically, and probably would have died if we hadn’t brought her in. Frank had discovered she had a microchip by that stage, and found out her name – Hazel – and that she was about 10.5 years old. She had clearly been dumped out in the rural areas and left to die, as when Frank found out the address of her “owners” – they were over 20 miles away… and there was no WAY Hazel could have walked that far in her condition. Not sure if the little guy was her friend and had been dumped too, or if he was just a little stray who found her and decided to protect her. Frank contacted them, and all their other numbers, but nobody responded. The vet also contacted them with the microchip data, and all the other numbers, and they never responded. And we were GLAD about that – because there was no WAY we would let them have her back. No way in hell. So, Hazel underwent emergency surgery for the pyometra and started on antibiotics, etc. She stayed at the vet overnight and we fetched our new dog – because we decided on the spot that we would be adopting her, no doubt about it – the next afternoon.
The vet said she was strong, and a real survivor, and she said that we would wait one month and check her again before deciding if we would proceed with heartworm treatment. Until that time, she needed to stay calm and relaxed and comfortable to prevent issues with the heartworms, and she was also recovering from surgery, and many infections and nasty bugs on top of that. We decided to keep her separate from our crazy 3, as they were not exactly conducive to “calm” – if you have ever met them, this would be totally apparent. We made her a cozy den at our old house in the nice big yard, with heaters and blankets and a big pink plush piggy toy to keep her company when we were not there. She had a nice big, green, grassy, shady yard to relax in, and she LOVED it. I found her many times sleeping on the grass under the tree while the weather was good. When it got colder (and man did it get cold fast) she happily chilled in her den and we often found her still asleep and relaxed and comfortable when we came over to feed her, give her her medications, and spend time with her. She perked up, got more life in her golden eyes, and more energy. We took her for little walks in the area (only a few minutes each time) and she loved that too. She was gentle, and funny, and so, so sweet. She definitely gave that horrible “pitbull” stereotype a run for its money. She was very interested in the cats, but not in an aggressive way – she probably could have learned to get along with them if she got the chance. We were never really sure how she would deal with other dogs, especially big dogs, as her only dog friend had been Lambert, and he was tiny. She did encounter our neighbour’s dog briefly, through the gate, but she did not growl, snarl, bark, or even get tense… she wagged her tail and perked her ear stubs up, and that was about it.
So we had 2 good months with her, where she was so happy, and relatively healthy (vet wanted us to wait an additional month before starting the heartworm, and I am glad we did, as we got the extra time with her) and then we started the heartworm treatment. The vet warned us on multiple occasions that heartworm treatment was harsh, and horrible, and very dangerous. It’s like chemotherapy… there’s a fine line between killing the worms effectively, and not killing the dog, basically. She fought hard for 2 weeks. She tried her absolute best. Unfortunately, we lost her to the heartworms (After some horrible emergency visits to the vet with a bloated stomach, difficulty breathing, lethargy, etc) and the treatments. The worms won. (I am crying writing this, as it was so recent it still hurts like hell to think about it)
Thankfully, we were there when she went, peacefully, gently, assisted by our incredible vet, Dr. Anderson, on 12/28/2020. It was me, Husband, and my mother-in-law, and we told her we loved her, and we would see her on the other side one day. We later found out her birthday was 08/08/2010. Some interesting and significant numbers, I think. We try to find comfort in the fact we gave her a loving, caring home in her last days.
Unfortunately, even though we would happily have offered Lambert a home, he escaped about 20 seconds after we got him home to the big yard (where Hazel would eventually live a few days later) and we tried to get him to come back to us, but he disappeared into thin air… we searched all over for him, but he was gone. We like to think he was her guardian angel, and when he knew she would be safe with us, he went on to help another dog in need. It’s the only thing that makes that horrible ache a little easier to deal with. We were so ready to give him a good life as well. According to the vet, he was about 6 months old, and in good health.
Hazel was a special, special dog and we will miss her terribly. She made an impression on so many people, and so many people helped us with her care and sent love and good wishes for her – she touched many people in a deep way. And that’s about all I can manage to write right now, as I am crying again.
I will be updating my site a lot more now, as I have no other means of contact with the world since deleting my Instagram.
Things are getting “real” here in the Vee household!
Our RV is in the “queue” for the full check out “check-out”; we pick up our gorgeous old Jeep in a couple of weeks time; we’ve sold Erika. We were heartbroken; both of us near tears, but it had to be done. We will miss this little firecracker of a car. She was a pleasure to drive, and so fun.
We’ve got a buyer for Daisy (also heartbreaking, but we know the people who are buying her and we know they will take good care of her like we did, so it’s not as bad as saying goodbye to the little Smart) who is letting us hold on to her until we go get our Jeep and get it into perfect running order (just a couple of things need doing – she’s otherwise running fine); husband is counting down the days until his ETS leave begins… and then we’re going to go fetch our Winnie (not sure what we’re going to name her yet; we have to get to know her first) and start sifting through our belongings to decide what comes with, what gets stored and what gets sold or donated. So close now we can taste it! I will post photos of the Jeep and the RV as we get them, of course.
Azzie’s brace was adjusted and it came back today (This company is SUPER fast with shipping and help! Send me a message if you want to know more, but I’ll be writing a post on the whole process very soon, with photos and maybe a video or two as well) and I’m going to put it back on Azzie for her evening walk… *paws crossed* With all the new adjustments, it should be perfect this time and we can get stuck into her recovery! My bionic dog will be on the mend, finally!
We’re making lists (and checking them WAY more than twice!) and researching solar; gathering the goods and bits and bobs that will make our RV life easier and more comfortable.
I’m researching places to boondock, and places to stay with hookups; we’re deciding on what state we will now be “residents” of; researching all the documents required to register vehicles, RVs, and us in this new state; finding a storage space in Oregon; sorting out prescriptions for the dogs, and check-ups before we head out on the road. It’s busy, busy, busy, but oh so exciting!
I’m trying to sort out work that I can do online, on the road, with the reasonably limited (but not as limited as it was a few years back – we’ve really picked a good time to be setting off, as there are many more options available and information at hand for full-time RVers) internet access that we will have.
I have a few things lined up, but who knows what will pan out. If we can get our YouTube channel up and running and out there in the world, we can perhaps earn a little something extra that way – but that takes time, of course. We’re also going to be joining the Amazon Affiliates program, and starting a Patreon account – so if anyone wants to chip in a dollar or two, we’d be most appreciative!
What have we been up to the last couple of months? We’ve said goodbye to some long-time friends, like little Kink. We’ve caught up with an old friend, Max, and Ellie and Shane. We’ve made a new friend or two as well – little Georgie! Odin gets very excited when he sees her at the dog park – his first girlfriend. We’ve also gotten to know Alistaire and Tater a little better, with a lovely forest walk and a chill session on a posh hotel’s balcony.
We’ve had some early morning dog park sessions, before it got too hot (thanks, Georgia), and we’ve watched an eclipse!
We’ve gone shooting and I’ve done well – better than I was expecting with such a long break between range days.
We’ve had good days and bad days, but through it all we’ve hung on to this new adventure ahead of us.
I felt it was time to have a little update on life in the “milburbs” and things happening.
First off – Odin has made some remarkable progress with meeting new dogs and making friends. Besides our friend Max, who is his absolute BEST BUDDY EVER, he has now made friends with some other dogs – including some WHITE dogs (which he had issue with before) and some very excitable dogs (which he also had issue with before) and while we are still careful with the meet-and-greet process (Even at the dog park) he has made some really awesome steps forward in his behaviour. Dealing with dogs on our walks has also become more manageable (not totally great yet, but getting there) now that he’s got Max in his life, and we often meet them and walk with them (walk bonding is the best way to get dogs to calm and become friends) on long walks and he used to get silly about seeing a dog in the distance, now he wiggles his butt and barks (but that’s also the influence of Azzie and Gina, who bark even when they know the dog as well!) and when he knows it’s Max he is SO HAPPY he leaps about and wiggles and smiles and pokes all his friends with his nose.
My husband got to see how far he had come (because he’s not there for the day-to-day work that I do with them) on 2 occasions now – once at the beach when he met a couple of VERY energetic and noisy dogs for the first time (a friend of his from work brought her two) and again at the dog park (when he met another dog for the first time, who belonged to a friend of my husband’s)
The dogs had an absolute BLAST at the beach, as well – their first ever time. They ran and ran and dug in the sand and swam and were utterly exhausted by the end of the morning. They made new friends, and found a new place to be wild and free and happy. It was a magical morning.
In other, slightly more worrying news.
Ever since we got Gina, she has had a slightly elevated protein level – kidneys/liver were the main culprits. In Germany, one of the reasons the vets suggested she be spayed (She was still intact when we adopted her, age 3) was because the levels climbed and she started having hormonal issues and multiple “heats” in a row and they were scared it would lead to pyometra or something cancerous (Bernese are prone to cancers, unfortunately) so we had that done and while the levels dropped, they were still just SLIGHTLY above average.
We went to various vets in Germany (due to moving, not due to any issues) and each one gave us the same diagnosis and suggested a medication that could help. In the EU it is called “Fortekor 28” and it was very expensive, but we put her on it and it helped a great deal to keep her levels regulated. Still slightly above average, but never dangerous.
Then, upon moving to the USA, the new vets (both military and civilian) said they wouldn’t put her on the medication (which we eventually found had a nice well-priced generic version) until they had done their own tests… so when she had to have blood tests done to check that the Lyme disease (which she had picked up in Germany thanks to the diabolical ticks there) was all cleared out of her system, they indicated higher levels than she had previously, because she had not been on the tablets since we left Germany. The vet (who we settled on) said not to worry and we could wait and see until her annual heartworm tests were done. So, a few months ago when the heartworm tests were done (negative!) they also drew extra to test her levels.. they were quite high (in the 800’s when they SHOULD be under 100 – as that’s where her levels had been before, when I checked on her previous labs from Germany) but unfortunately the vet who we were working with had a family emergency and left the practice where he worked! A few weeks later, we knew we had to bring her in for her “senior” panel (As she is now over 7 years old) and asked them to test again. They did and this time her levels in her liver were dangerously high (over 1000…. ) so tomorrow we go to the vet to get an ultrasound of her liver/kidneys to check for masses.
I am trying to be calm, trying to be positive – hoping they find nothing and we can just put her back on the fortekor (or generic alternative) and it will bring them back down to good levels again.
She’s our First Fur Kid, and to lose her would be devastating on so many levels.
I thought it was well passed time for another update, as things have happened, and changed and other things are still ticking along.
Dogs are doing well – I’ve now taken all of them to St Francis Animal Hospital at one point or another in the last few weeks and I have to say I have been very happy with the service and the people there. Odin had an ongoing issue with his tummy, and I finally gave up on trying to fix it myself (it was a losing battle!) and the vet found he had multiple types of worms (not eradicated by their usual monthly dose of heartworm tablets, which does kill some types, but not these, clearly!) and she said that after moving from lovely cold Washington, she’d found from experience that Georgia is a “cesspool of bugs, parasites and protozoa of all kinds” – her words, not mine. She says that you have to be vigilant and most DEFINITELY keep up the heartworm medication, as they are rife here.
Gina got her Previcox, finally, and she is doing SUPER well on it. She’s full of bounce and energy again and comes with on 99% of the walks. She sometimes decides to stay home if it’s late evening, she’s already been to the loo on the previous walk and most importantly, daddy is home.
Azzie’s hotspot cleared up very nicely and I’m keeping an eye on her for any others that might appear.
With this hot, humid weather (Georgia is rolling out the spring/summer carpet already) there are ticks and fleas, but I’m finding the BravEcto is working very well. I’m the only one who gets bitten, now!
We also clipped down Azzie and Gina a few weeks ago – it was just starting to get SO hot that we couldn’t leave it any longer. All the groomers we tried were booked up, so we just got some good clippers and we did it ourselves. We made a few mess-ups (especially with Azzie, as she WRIGGLES like mad and it’s hard to keep her still enough to work on certain parts of her body!) but it came out looking pretty good and the girls were feeling much lighter and cooler. We didn’t shave them down, just clipped their very long fur down to about an inch or so. Probably more, as we didn’t want to go too close, just yet. We’ll try again in a few weeks, armed with this experience!
An update on my school work: I wrote my theory exam 2 weeks ago and I did VERY well. Much better than I thought I would! That was also with minimal “working off page” and I felt pretty proud of myself! Now the theory is done, I’m starting into actual practical work – actual transcription! It’s very exciting, to me. Sometimes the accents and the Americanising…. ZING… of the words gets on my nerves a bit, but it just makes it more of a challenge, and will help me when I step out into the REAL world to begin working. I’d really like to work with psychology reports and things, but I don’t think you get much choice. I just want to get working, so I can start earning and contributing.
I also want to get my school work done so I can start responding to all the people who have asked for my help with their dogs! A few evening ago, while walking the chickens, a lady came up to me and starting talking to me about the dogs, her dogs, my dogs, etc, and asked what my website was for my training. I explained that i only do it for myself and I’ve done it that way – I don’t have any professional accreditation. I do have a partial degree in animal behaviour, but it’s more aimed toward horses! I didn’t mention that though. But she was determined, this lady, and said that she’s seen me walking my dogs and how wonderfully well behaved (I laughed, but let her carry on) they were and all that, and wanted my help with her dogs. My first question was how much exercise they got and she gave me the usual American answer “Well, they have a back yard to play in, so I don’t walk them.” So me, being the polite person I am, simply said “Well, that’s a start.” And she took my name said she would look me up on Facebook. I won’t hold my breath, but I will certainly go walking that way again when I am done with school, and see if she still wants my help. I will have time then, and her dogs don’t suffer in the heat like mine do, so I will have during the day to work on them, after walking mine.
Our Bird Bar, as we call it, is in full swing. We’re getting all sorts of new kinds of birds every day, including a hummingbird!! We bought a feeder for them, and I made some “nectar” syrup from scratch. No colourants etc. We had a couple of them coming by quite often for a few days, but then the HUGE ants found the feeder and I keep having to clean it out because they keep DROWNING in it! And I’m sure the hummingbirds don’t want to drink dead ants. Very annoying! I’ve tried moving the feeder further along the branch, but they keep finding it!
There’s also a family of SIX squirrels who come down to the yard from the tree in the front. I call one of them Blinky, as she initially had a very closed up, swollen eye and I thought she might lose it. But she’s bounced back and it’s just a little bit odd looking now and her little ear is a bit wonky, but that’s it. She’s still recognisable though.
I’ve seen loads more fauna around here (foxes, deer, and even a RABBIT the other morning!) and I am slowly starting to recognise local plants and trees. I still have to work out what kind of tree we have in the back yard here, and clarify what the huge one in the front is too. When I finish my school, I will start with the proper Herbology and crafting of salves and lotions and potions and tinctures. I just don’t have the time right now to focus too heavily on that side of my life. I am looking forward to it though!
My good friend from South Africa – an amazing photographer – has launched a project called Running With Dogs and even though I am far away, he wanted to include me in it! I was thrilled, and honoured, and SO flattered! I’m the only guest photographer, as far as I know. I sent him quite a few photos, after a lovely shoot with my husband and our pooches in the forest. He selected his favourites and he will include one of them in the calendar! I’m so excited!
What else? Oh, I made some peach crumble from scratch (Except for the peaches – they had no fresh ones at the commissary when we went, unfortunately) and bread too. I’ve made my chocolate cake a few times as well now. I’m trying to get out of my lazy rut and get my baking skills in gear, but my brain is usually so tired/burned out from school work that I can barely concentrate for more than 10 minutes sometimes! But I shall persevere! It’s getting easier now, with just the practicum modules, but still mind-intensive.
Our garden is doing WELL! We harvested our first batch of Arugula the other day! It’s so delicious! It just tastes so good, knowing we grew it ourselves! Now just waiting for the other herbs and plants to catch up and give me a harvest. Hopefully it will only be once I’m done with school! I’ve got Sage, Chives, Chamomile, Echinacea, and all sorts of wonderful things coming up! Our garlic is doing nicely too. The mint plants in the front are flourishing! We use them to make Mojitos 😀 I am trying to find things to make with the Chocolate Mint, as it is spreading all over the place! I might have to replant her into a pot by herself if she keeps this up!
Otherwise, we are doing well. Things are settling into a routine and we’re finding our way.
And in this adventure story, there will be hurricanes, DNA results, surgeries, Lyme disease, new old cars, a road trip to the rural South of Georgia, new opportunities, broken things, fixed things and lots and lots of boxes.
First – the hurricane. If you are even vaguely aware of the weather around the world, you would have seen in the news the swath of destruction left behind by Hurricane Joaquim. Luckily for us, it focused its rage on South Carolina, and we only got the tail/tip – but it was pretty heavy even then. Pouring, driving rain for 5 days straight, windy and ranging from very cold and wet to very warm and wet. Strange times. The dogs and I got soaked, generally (I went through a lot of socks) as I wasn’t keeping them indoors anymore, because we were in the middle of discovering/mentally mapping our neighbourhood and checking out all the walk routes we had on offer. Note: there are LOADS of different routes, some nicer than others, some to be avoided in the mornings (too many kiddies on the way to school “OOH PUPPIESCANIPATTHEMCANICANIOMGTHEYBARKED *cue the screaming* and also the forest paths are lovely but best avoided in the early morning and early evening as that’s when the deer come out… and thus.. the hunters. Seriously.) and others to be avoided around lunch time as that’s when people come home during their lunch hour and feel it’s fine to just kick the dog out and “let them be” outside. No lead. No tether. No watchful eye. Nada. Odin does NOT like this idea and we’ve had a few frothing snarling snapping sessions while I drag him down the road, accompanied by barking (excited) Azzie and growling and barking (protective) Gina. Tim (from BH) was right: there was a great deal of “regression” for Odin in his behaviour, but he seems to be coming right now. It’s much easier to remove him from a situation than it was when we first got here – he was a monster. *Deep breath* I don’t even want to think about that first week.
Speaking of Odin! His DNA test results (thank you Wisdom Panel) came back today! And we were TOTALLY WRONG about the breeds he has in him! No Greyhound whatsoever (of any type) or Border Collie for that matter. Guess what he is? German Shepherd…. and… Irish Red and White Setter… AND… wait for it… Keeshond! Yes, you heard me… Keeshond! We were NOT expecting that one! Not sure where that falls in with his traits and behaviours and looks… but there you have it. He’s truly a mix and match, our gentle boy. I was on the right track with his training though – they are all tracking/hunting/search dogs, and of course GSH love agility too, so we’ve got him right there. Now we just need to find a local area to practice/socialise him again. And the girls.
I finally bit the bullet and bought the training collars… tone and vibrate only. We’re going to test it on ourselves first anyway, and then decide HOW and WHEN we will use them. Azzie will get one as well (I bought the 2 pack) to help curb her various naughty habits. We’ve tried everything else and she just ignores it and does what she wants, so I think this will work. I’ve been consistent. I’ve been patient – but over 2 years and she’s still doing her own thing, despite my best efforts? Yeah. Time for a new angle, right? I would never hurt my dogs – let me just state that right up front – but for distance training (for Odin) and catching Azzie in the exact moment of her bad habit (various ones!) will be much easier with this option. I’m still reading every bit of literature I can find on training using the collars, and we will only begin when we feel totally sure of what we are doing. My dogs are too precious to me to mess it up by just wading in and learning as we “go along” kind of thing. Nuh uh.
Precious dogs being Bernese, we keep a watchful eye out for lumps and bumps… and we found two (and now THREE) on Azzie, of various sizes. So on Friday morning last week she went in for surgery to have them removed. She didn’t go under – she was heavily sedated though, because she’s wriggly – but there was a heavy local anesthetic in the affected areas. She came through fine, none the worse for wear. The incision on her back is quite large, and for some reason the vet missed a stitch.. so there’s a little gap between two of them (6 stitches altogether) which we are keeping a close eye on for infection. She’s handling it well – I trimmed the excess hair around the edges of the shaved part, as it was tickling her and making her lick/scratch the area – and has been 80% good about not messing with the surgery areas. The one on her front leg is healing very quickly (only 1 stitch) and she has totally stopped licking that one now. She goes back to have the stitches removed in just under 2 weeks time. We MIGHT have to go in earlier if it gets infected, despite our best efforts. Here’s hoping they hold out until then.
My other precious Bernese, Gina, got a faint positive for Lyme disease before we left Germany, so the vet there suggested (strongly) that we get her tested again when we settle in here. So we did. Took over a week for the results (they do off site testing, unlike Germany) and it came back with another faint positive – so she either HAD Lyme disease (which is totally likely with the HORRIBLE ticks we had in Baumholder, who were seemingly impervious to anti-tick stuff!) at one point recently, or currently has it. Either way, she is being treated now and hopefully no damage has been done to her (already delicate) kidneys. Also hoping it will clear up the random lameness issue she has. It should, if it’s Lyme related.
In our urgent quest for a reliable and suitable second hand car (before our rental had to be returned) we have traveled far and wide around Georgia. One of our trips was far out into the country to view a comfy and well loved and used 4Runner. We headed down toward a place called Lincolnton and a road called Lincoln. This was the real South, people. The one you see in the movies and on TV shows about farmers and small towns. White fences, huge acres of grass, big drooping Willow trees, horses, cows, beloved old trucks kept in mint condition, combine harvesters, rolls of wheat resting in cropped down pastures, men and women sitting with their dogs on the porch and enjoying the afternoon light and the sweet smells from the Sweetpea flowers. Idyllic. Breathtaking. Peaceful. The light was absolutely gorgeous and I wished I had brought Bertha along. Little Ziggy (my purple point and shoot) did just fine though and I got some lovely shots as we drove through back roads and tree lined avenues that went on for miles and miles in one direction. It was a serene trip, there and back, and we had comfortable silences and many interesting and amusing conversations. We didn’t bring the dogs on this one, as there wasn’t much space in the back of the small rental car (we swapped it out a few days before – got rid of the minivan, as we didn’t need it anymore) for them to relax on a long trip like that. We checked out the 4runner, but it was a little TOO worn for our liking (knobs and things missing, bits falling off, and an unsettling smell that we couldn’t quite narrow down) and we thanked the VERY nice people and headed back home. Dogs were thrilled to see us of course. A few days later we went to check out an SUV (also an older one) and that was even more “well worn” – but luckily the man who was sorting the sale out for his elderly neighbour said “well I have this car here that we’ve done up and we’re selling” and we walked across the road to have a look at an older Honda Accord Station Wagon. We liked her, the moment we saw her… but we still had others to check out, so we drove her a bit, had a think and said we would get back to him. We then checked out a whole bunch of other cars and it all came down to a choice between a younger Honda Civic and this older station wagon. It was a difficult choice, but in the end a vast array of Pros in favour of the station wagon won out and we purchased her two days later. The Georgia DMV – Augusta one, anyway – is rather nice 🙂 We had no issues and soon we had plates, and license, and registration and then we had to think of a name. It took a few days, but we settled on Daisy. As in… driving Miss Daisy. She’s adorable and the dogs are LOVING all the space in the back! We’ve been giving her lots of TLC (new tyres, new sparks, etc etc) and she’s giving us back a smooth easy ride. Match made. Happy us.
Before we even left Germany we were on the look out for a washer and dryer (they don’t come with the house furnishings, unfortunately) and we found a set for a good price. We asked the reason for the good price and we were told that the dryer “just needed a starter button” and it was good to go. Lies. LIES! We’ve changed the starter button, changed the thermal fuse, tested all the wiring with a (newly purchased) volt meter and WE STILL CANNOT GET THE DAMN DRYER TO WORK! So it’s been “hang it outside on sunny days” old school laundry for us. The Sears serviceman was meant to come and check it out this morning, but they called and changed the date so we’re without a dryer for ANOTHER week. Meh. Hopefully it stays sunny for the next few days so we can get some laundry dry.
At least the washer works well.
My DIY husband handyman has fixed a few things in the house on his own, and when our shelves arrived with our HHG, he also (with a tiny bit of help.. seriously, hardly any help from me – I just held things and handed them to him) put them up and anchored them like a pro. Very proud of his handiwork!
A long time ago I had a chat with a friend about ways to make money while being a stay at home wife and fur mother, herbalist, photographer and seamstress but also contribute to my awesome family in more ways (especially financial) I have found many things and done many things. Where we were living before (Germany) made it quite difficult to get green things going and maintain them (and we had no garden and anything I grew in pots had to remain behind when we left… which we did, just over 2 weeks ago. It was hard saying goodbye to Persephone, Bob, George, Terence & Phillip, and the little Bamboos, but we found them a good home with a lovely German lady who will take good care of them all) and my other hobbies and potential income avenues (vintage inspired clothing and photography) were not allowed on the military post. Long story. But NOW… now we are back in the Land of the Free, and I can once again pick up the reins of these various projects and I’m very excited. I’ve also added two more ways to add to the family income. One is a virtual assistant site that I am a proud member of (Fancy Hands, if anyone is interested) and the other… wow… the other is even more exciting. I’ve been accepted as a Merchandiser for the rather cool, clever and fashion forward company chloe + isabel.
Now those who have known me since I was younger might be a little surprised at this (for a few reasons) and why I am so keen and excited about this opportunity. They perhaps thought I was too much of a tomboy to be “fashionable”, but I was always interested in fashion (even tried my hand at fashion design, much to my mother’s horror) but could never afford anything that I wanted and never had the tools to make anything properly. Or the patience, I will admit. I’ve always had very expensive taste (something I share with my mother and now my husband as well) and my idea of style was classic and elegant. (I’m an Isabel, according to the Friendship Philosophy of Chloe and Isabel) A complete opposite to what I wore (wear still…) when I was not in school uniform. Audrey Hepburn type of style: effortless, simple, classy and never going out of fashion. I secretly (and not so secretly) collected Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and any other fashion magazine I could get my hands on. Didn’t matter if it was 10 years old or 10 minutes. I’m not sure what happened after that (don’t remember – thanks head injury) that made me stop dreaming, but there were many years of quiet introspection where I “made do” with what I had and never really looked beyond my comfortable, useful and simple daily clothes. Work or weekend, I wore the same kind of thing. To be fair, I rode horses, walked dogs and stood around at events taking photos for 8 or 9 hours at a time, so comfortable was pretty key in what I wore.
The last few years, after marrying my gorgeous and awesome husband, I’ve started trying to develop my “style” – in between walking dogs of course. I’ve looked at starting a capsule wardrobe (after I learned that you don’t include “exercise” clothing or pajamas in the count! WOO!) and was looking at Stitch Fix as an option as well, but have since had a look at my wardrobe contents and I think I can make something out of what I already own, PLUS I will have all these GORGEOUS accessories from chloe and isabel!
Now to the point of this: moving to the States, settling into our little home and not having to move for a few years has made me realise that NOW is the time to start this: fresh clean slate, new me, new style, new attitude. I think that Chloe + Isabel is that kick in the bottom I need. I’m very excited about this!
When our household goods arrived two days ago (and with it, my clothes and shoes) I have been brutally honest and begun the process of paring it down to a few classic and timeless items that I can mix and match. The rest will go to charity/thrift shop. My mum is also going to send me what’s left of my stuff back home. It’s not a lot, but there are clothes there as well (I had to fit my life into two suitcases when I left home and moved to Germany to join my husband) and some shoes too (boots mostly, and riding things) and lots of books and music! I’m being positive about this all. I’m taking it all as a major opportunity to be the ME I’ve always wanted to be. I’m lucky enough to have an incredibly supportive husband as well. He makes all the difference. He said, “You have to spend money to make money, Andrea, so just do it.” I don’t want to let him down so I will be dedicated and try my UTMOST to make a success of this. I already have ideas, I have to admit, for things to do to get my name out there and start selling these beautiful pieces. Just have to get it all together. We’re still unpacking boxes from HHG, but we’re getting there and our house is beginning to look like a home already 🙂
I think that’s a good place to end Part Bee of the Adventure stories.
Odin and I went for our third run together last night. It was great. A little warm, but not too bad for him (or me) and he kept up nicely even after racing around in circles on the grass while I chased him earlier that evening. He had to stop and piddle a couple of times, and a little girl wanted to pat him as she’d “read all about him” apparently… not sure where, as I am not on Facebook and I don’t really post about my life anywhere but here… *shrug* but he was too “in the zone” by that point and he wasn’t interested in being petted by anyone (except me of course, because I have the treats in my pocket)
But otherwise, a really nice run. I felt good. Knee hurt like a bugger when we stopped though, and walking up the stairs was a killer. But I’ll push on through.
He keeps me going, and keeps me steady in my pace. I feel like I can for longer, and farther when he’s trotting along beside me. It’s a nice feeling. I do feel bad leaving the girls behind, but they just aren’t up for it, and Azzie gets WAY too distracted.
Had a bit of a silly incident yesterday morning – Odin lost his marbles for a few minutes (cat, small dogs, cars racing by on the road, barking Azzie, growling Gina… just general chaos) but it’s all good now. Was a bit heartsore afterward, as it showed me that we still have very far to go with Odin’s behaviour – thought we’d come quite a way, but progress is subtle I guess.
Still on my weight plateau. But I’m feeling in control, especially now that I am running again. Tried on some clothes that I got from a friend a while ago – when I was larger – and they all fit me so much better now. It’s great looking in the mirror and seeing the changes I’ve worked so hard to make. Started up my yoga too – I do it in the other room, while the dogs snooze after their long morning walk, usually. Taking it easy on the knee-intensive positions, as my knee really does take strain when I do certain moves, but otherwise, all good. I can do 10 push ups, too, and hold plank for 1 minute. Working on that.
What else did I want to waffle about?
I forget right now.
Oh yes! Our dates are set, tickets are booked, kennels are bought… Just have to collect them today – will be a tight squeeze, as it’s a GIANT sized kennel for Azzie! Now we just have some other arrangements to make, some things to cancel closer to the time we leave, and begin deciding what will go with us on the plane and what will be shipped (and be unavailable for 3 months) to our new duty station. I really want to get out of here (many reasons) and I know my husband can’t wait to get away from this awful unit. He’s got some friends, but even they know that it’s better to get out than stay here and wither away. Going to the States is a double edged blade, really. Conveniences, a proper address, I can work, but there’s the whole “it’s filled with Americans and on the verge of either collapse or civil war” thing… *shrug*
Where we’re moving is VERY hot and excessively humid pretty much all year round, so we’ll be shaving the dogs down – not to the skin, because I know that’s bad for double coated dogs, but just shorter, so it’s easier to manage, and easier for them to cool down. Thankfully, there will be air conditioning in the houses.
What else? Oh! I got to bust out my dusty sewing machine and skillz, to make a Peter Pan collar to attach to her store bought dress, for a photo shoot she did with her husband. That was cool. I felt useful. It came out very well and I was pretty pleased with myself.
This last weekend was our second attempt at dog obedience/training classes.
We took Odin on his own on Saturday, but unfortunately due to staffing issues, the trainer couldn’t stay and had to return to OR to man the desk/counter, so instead I sent Odin and husband off to walk with the only other people who pitched up: Punchen (not sure how to spell it) the deaf, albino Great Dane pup (only 7 months old and he is over 130lbs) and his owner, Stephanie. Initially Odin was very wary of the big lug, but my husband said that as they walked, he got over it, and eventually they were walking side by side for quite a bit of the walk. That’s awesome news.
And then Sunday, the trainer suggested we take Odin early, on his own, for the “puppy play class” just so he could chill and watch and see how things went without worrying about Azzie. He didn’t have to do anything (but he did go into the agility arena for a walk around with the other pups) and he just chilled, while the puppies ran around and played together. My husband said he was very good – just a few “moments” but much better.
Then I arrived with Az and G, and this time around I let Azzie greet all the dogs (on her own) and she was 99% better. She’s a social dog and likes to meet everyone, which is my main issue: when the dog doesn’t WANT to meet Azzie she still wants to go say hi – so I thought that letting her say hi and interact a bit with the others would put her more at ease… and it WORKED!!
I was so proud of her! The only barking/craziness came when she was playing with husband and Ods in the “time out” area (it’s enclosed, so he took them in there for them to play when we got there – as Odin desperately wanted to play with his big sister, after watching all the other dogs play together) even though they weren’t in time out, while I took Gina into the agility arena and ran her through that. Gina was AWESOME!! Everyone was so impressed. She didn’t do the raised walking thing, or the rigid tunnel (it was set up in a curve, so she couldn’t see the other side, and she’s never done it before so the trainer said don’t worry about it this time) and she did a shortened version of the soft tunnel, but she jumped everything, and even did the see-saw and BOTH sets of weave poles 🙂 I was so pleased with her! She was also very pleased with herself! She LOVES to do that stuff!
Now that Odin knows some of the commands (he does, however lay down for “sit” and for “down” and for “relax” and for “gentle” – but we’re working on getting him to tell the difference) I took him through the rally course (obedience course) and while he was a little wary of the pieces of laminated plastic attached to the cones, he did really well 🙂 He really is a smart dog, and is coming along so nicely. Everyone noted his progress, just as everyone commented on how good Azzie was this time around too.
Next week, I want to take Azzie through the agility course, and maybe even Odin… and then impress everyone with Gina on the rally course 😀
All in all, a really good weekend with them. A huge relief after the hell-hounds of last time.
A gorgeous morning – still cool enough that the dogs could enjoy themselves, but the sun was out and it warmed up slowly. By the time we got back to the car, it was starting to get quite warm, so we were just in time.
We discovered a NEW section of the Bahrenbach Pfad! (The Bear River Path) and took a wander down that to explore, but didn’t get too far as Odin started to whine a little bit as his leg started to get sore.
Dogs were _awesome_ on the walk! So well behaved. Odin met the horses for the first time, in the paddock near the parking area and he was scared at first, but then when he saw Gina being peaceful and calm and relaxed with them (sniffing noses and being nuzzled softly) he came close enough to sniff and be sniffed and it was awesome. Azzie did well too – she does get SO excited though and wants to play… luckily these are two elderly boys (the horses) and so they weren’t easily spooked by her play bows and huffs. But they all did well and I was very pleased. They also all three waited beautifully while a lady with a very feisty and large Labrador went by down the other path. The lady thanked us profusely for our patience and calm, which was pretty cool 🙂 No barking, no silliness. They sat (well Odin stood – he’s still too wobbly/sore to sit properly) and watched and Gina even wagged her tail. I gave them treats, they watched me. It was brilliant.
Same thing when we got to the car – another lady was parked there and she came up another path behind us a few seconds after us…
Dogs didn’t bark, even when they were in the car and the dog came and sniffed the car before heading to his car. I was SUPER proud of them 🙂
Azzie was a little anxious as there was medium loudness kabooms coming from the range, so I put her back on her lead and she felt a bit “safer” and enjoyed herself more. But she was not in the mood to play, despite Odin’s best efforts (he even did a yoga stretch out on the open field, expecting her to want to play and chase him around – but she didn’t want to) to engage her.
Odin’s tummy not so great this morning – maybe too much food again (I upped it a little last night as he seemed VERY hungry) or maybe still ruminating on the marrow bones. He perhaps needs a smaller one 🙂 I forget he’s not as big as the girls, sometimes.
All in all, a lovely walk!
Here are some photos:
Odin is coming along really well – gaining weight, putting on muscle and he can go further and further on the walks now. He is a happy boy. He has a few quirks we need to work on – but nothing major (so far) that causes concern. He is a gentle boy, still, and I am hoping he remains that way. He and Azzie play so nicely together – nice and gently, the way Azzie likes – and even Gina gets in on the dog piles now. She did lose her temper a bit this morning and put him in his place, but I think he accidentally stood on her tail while they were wrestling. He wasn’t phased – just left her alone for a few minutes and then went back for more when she calmed down. She happily played some more, so she was fine too.
On other good news notes: I lost another pound! I’m well pleased with myself – only one more to go until I reach my (first) goal weight! It’s been a long, difficult haul for me, but worth it. I think I’m looking ok for a (nearly – just a few months away) 40 year old.