Tough Day In Dogland

Things are getting to me today.  I’m having trouble focusing on what’s good, seeing, instead, all the challenges and potential disasters.

First, there’s Grace.  Grace is clearly better today, and I got both doses of her antibiotic into her, along with roast turkey.  My vet says that she shouldn’t have the antibiotic without food, because we have to try to keep her from regurgitating, and antiobiotics on an empty stomach aren’t usually well tolerated.

So she ate quite a bit, drank a lot, and got her breathing med and her Rimadyl, in addition to the antibiotics.  She’s moving around briskly again and is much more alert.  For some reason, though, I’m more aware today that this is a potentially fatal condition, and that I may not be able, this time or some other time, to save her.  I woke up this morning having dreamed, or imagined, in some half-awake state, an antibiotic which could be added to drinking water, so that it would kind of ‘flush’ the area where the trapped food is.  That makes no sense, though, because one would hope that drinking water wouldn’t end up in that spot–that’s the whole point.  Still, chances are that it is happening–water getting trapped in her esophagus, I mean.  Writing about this imaginary antibiotic water has given me an idea.  Once she’s eating more normally, out of a bowl again, but with her head elevated, I’ll try sprinkling cranberry powder onto some of her food.  Cranberry, I believe, is a kind of natural antibiotic.

So I suppose I’m feeling Grace’s vulnerability more today, for some reason.  Maybe it’s that the worst of the crisis seems to have passed, and the adrenalin rush is over, and now it’s just trying, trying, and more trying.  I’m good at trying, and I can do that, no matter how bummed out I get.

If you summarize things, Grace-wise, it’s a thumbs up.  That optimistic vista showed itself this morning, and has continued.  So that should be making me cheerful.  Maybe it is, but it’s hidden under other stuff.

But the next thing to happen was nice, too.  One of my favorite students came, early this morning, for his last lesson before a tryout he had, and it was a good one.  I felt sure he would do well, and he did.  He called later in the day and told me that the judge had told him that if she could have, she’d have given him a score of 110.  I love teaching him, and this morning was particularly fun, because he and his mom and I talked a little bit about the famous, ‘Chinese mother’ article which has been circulating on the internet.

I’ll probably write more about that at some point–it’s a fascinating topic, and I’ve thought about it a lot, throughout my teaching years.

So our lesson was good, and then Frank the Plumber came, and between us, we may have fixed my washing machine.  It’s a little hard to tell, because there was some water in it which is still leaking out.  At least, I hope it’s the old water, and not new water.  We’ll see.

So far, so good.  Then it was time to get things ready for Nink and TA to go and pick up little Renard, about an hour away from here.  I washed a nice crate and a set of dog bowls, found a collar and leash and coat, and assembled the starter food I’d bought for TA.  Nink picked it all up, and headed off for the meeting.  

As I was organizing the things, I took a call from a woman who, years ago, had hired me to do an artistic residency in the city schools, under the auspices of a program she heads up.  I really enjoyed linking music to the kids’ curriculum, and I liked this woman.  Since that time, I’ve run into her several times at the park we know as the ‘dog park’, although, in fact, the rules are that dogs must be on leash there.  So it’s not what is usually meant by ‘dog park’, but it is the place where many dog owners like to congregate.  When I’d see this woman, she was always with her lovely dog, a hybrid Australian Cattle Dog/Rottweiler, and through a period of years, I watched her dog age.

Today she called to say that her dog had passed away, and now, after a long mourning period, she was ready to adopt another.  Would I find her one?  I would, and she gave me some attributes on her canine wish list.  This will be a fun matchmaking adventure.

And then I went to my dress rehearsal for the chamber music concert tomorrow evening, and stopped thinking about dogs, for two or three hours.

On my way home, I called Nink, who said that they were back, and that Renard was absolutely perfect for TA.  I was just passing TA’s apartment, so I stopped in to meet Renard, after calling up to see if it was convenient.  He is perfect for TA, and a little love of a dog.  But I have some concerns.  I’m too wrung out to write about them tonight, and will give it a shot, tomorrow.

Then I got home and found a message from Maureen.  She’s terribly upset about it, but she feels she must find another foster home for Clarisse, and I think she’s right.  Clarisse, although a big sweetie pie 99% of the time, has exhibited some aggression towards Maureen’s daughter, and also towards certain things which must be triggers for her; for instance, spray bottles.  This is such a bad situation, and again, I think I’m too drained to write about it.  These things will belong to tomorrow.

I guess there were more good things than bad today; it’s just that the bad things are so big…

Maybe what it is, is that for the first time, I feel that people are depending on my knowledge in the areas of dogs and dog rescue, and I’m painfully aware that I don’t have all the answers–not even close.  It’s not my style to feel competent in any subject in which I’ve had no formal training.  But I’m also aware that I do have more knowledge than the friends and acquaintances who think I can help them.  For that reason, I feel I really should try to help them.  Anyway, it’s a pleasure to me to help them.  And I will try, starting tomorrow. 

But for today and tonight, I think it’s OK if I feel like a bit of a failure, for no reason I can put my finger on.  It’s much better to remember that I’ve only scratched the surface of this dog thing, than it would be to get over-confident.

Well, it does me good to kneel down near Grace, peacefully asleep on her clean sheets, and hear her normal breathing.  Tomorrow I will try again.  Really, what else can anyone do?

A prayer for tomorrow:  Let me be positive and persuasive in speaking of what I know for sure.  Give me the power of explaining clearly the different facets of those things about which I’m not knowledgeable enough to have made up even my own mind.  And please–and here’s the hard part–let me be able to figure out which is which. 

I feel better, just having written this.  And maybe a good night’s sleep will finish knitting up my ‘raveled sleave’.

note to self: remember why you're doing this

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2 Responses to Tough Day In Dogland

  1. Maureen says:

    Ingrid~I just wanted to comment that you don’t realize how special you are to the living things whose lives you touch (canine, feline, human and everything else in between). I don’t feel “let down” by you in any way. I am upset with myself. I feel badly that I am letting Clarisse down, letting Deb down, and letting you down. YOU are a very important link in the chain of rescue for these dogs. I mean, as I type this, Maiya and Clarisse are cuddled up on the couch together…very peaceful.
    You take on a lot and probably don’t get enough recognition for what you do. You are not an expert but you certainly know waaaay more than I. That said, you know I would be getting a trainer and keeping Clarisse were it not for Maiya. I find the challenge of raising a shelter dog and teaching him/her that he/she can be and deserves to be loved is one of the greatest rewards and responsibilities in this life. I just can’t compromise the safety of my daughter, and quite honestly, the intensity of Clarisse’s reaction has me a bit shaken also.
    As the days, weeks, months and years go by, your link in the chain will continue to strengthen. I appreciate all that you are able to offer. But more than that, I appreciate your willingness to admit that you DON’T know everything, but will seek out the resources who do.
    I am sorry to have put all this on you with all you are going through with Grace. Let me know if there is any way I can help.

  2. Anja says:

    Maureen, I hope you can find a more suitable foster for Reesie. Please know that passing her on to someone else, you still saved her life by getting her out!
    She is a big challenge that I would not have taken on, there are however many, many, many dogs that are not and would fit quite well into your family.
    Don’t shut yourself off from fostering all together. Once Reesie moves on to the next chapter in her life, take some time off and when you get to the point where you would consider doing this again….. let someone else match you up with a dog that fits. It would be very sad if you’d never foster again. The dogs do need people like you!
    I’m sending good vibes to all of you, human and canine and hope that everything will fall into place soon and without struggle!

    Ingrid, you’re not letting anyone down. I suggest you get one of those photo-boards and for every rescue you have been involved with, put a picture on it. You’ll be surprised how quickly you will have to ‘add on’! : )
    You don’t have to be perfect, just keep giving and sharing, that’s plenty!

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