Trifecta – Craft

Trifecta’s writing challenge challenges you to write a piece between 0 and 333 words, with the third definition of the word they give each week.  This week was:

 1 :  skill in planning, making, or executing :  dexterity
2 a :  an occupation or trade requiring manual dexterity or artistic skill <the carpenter’s craft> <the craft of writing plays> <crafts such as pottery, carpentry, and sewing>
plural:  articles made by craftspeople <a store selling crafts> <a crafts fair>
Click the link to head over and read some of the other submissions, or submit your own.

This piece is stand-alone, or can be read as a kind of prequel to Castle, Stormed.  The artwork is by my sister, the talented Doodle.  Click the image to go to her DeviantART.  It’s a free-hand pencil sketch, and, not to sound too cocky, but she drew it for me.  I requested an unimpressed goat.  It totally makes sense.

It took hardly any of his craft to get the map.  Its previous owner understood so little of what it meant, this scrap of parchment with the name of a long-forgotten kingdom, that by the time he’d been through, the woman had been glad to part with it in return for a song and a smile.

He’d have called it not enough of a challenge, but he tried to avoid setting himself up for failure.  The most complicated part was dosing the goats just right, so that they didn’t die on the way to the castle.  It was a little-known fact that dragons didn’t eat things they hadn’t killed themselves.  His father had wanted him to go into medicine, had taught Monroe all he knew of herbs.  He suspected the old man would not have considered this a worthwhile use of that knowledge.

The toughest part was hanging by his fingers, over the edge of the bridge.  He hadn’t really considered what would happen if the dragon didn’t take the bait soon enough, not until his fingers were going numb, his arms and back aching as he hung. Hanging over a dry moat full of rusty and broken pieces of armor shook his confidence in the plan.

He’d done it, though.  The dragon slept soundly less than an hour after he’d crossed the moat, and he padded through the empty castle, hopping confidently over the piece of the dragon’s tail that blocked the inner yard.

The highest room, in the tallest tower, he thought, mentally mapping out his best route through the maze of corridors.  I’m going to be rich.

His legs soon joined his arms in aching, as the stairs spiraled up and up.  Even with his goal so close, he stopped at the top landing to catch his breath.

His grin faded as he stepped forward.  He may have been clever in defeating the dragon, but it appeared he wasn’t the only one to get past.  She seemed surprised to see him too.

Taking out the Trash

Dear Parks Staff,

I really hope you don’t have video surveillance in the park.  If you do, let me explain.

It’s not what it looked like, I swear.  I mean, yes, I did kick that garbage can.  Okay, I’ll admit, I kicked it three times.  I meant it for the best, though.  You saw my dog getting all interested in it, jumping up and basically just being all over that trash receptacle, right?  I couldn’t just let it go.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Why three times?  Well, the first time, I could have sworn I heard something, but that could just have been the hollow thud distorted by plastic.  The second, though, nada.  The third, I thought I heard something, only it was fainter, but the dog was still freaking out.

You work in Toronto.  You know what’s out there. R.O.U.S., we have them.  Full grown raccoons that outweigh my dog do exist.  They are the reason our trash-pickup compost bin is kept hung up on the wall with bungee cords holding the lid shut.  Possums – basically demonic characters from a Tim Burton movie sprung to life.

On a side note, We are really big fans of the gigantic new garbage cans the city implemented – 5 feet tall with a big heavy lid, we no longer need to bungee our bins shut, and the raccoons seem to get the idea that pulling the lid up enough to squeeze in would be a bad life choice.  I’m not so sure it was a good idea to modify the lids of the ones in parks to include a big permanent opening for easy waste disposal, though.

I think the book 1984 stuck with me in unusual ways, because I was torn between “some poor animal is TRAPPED in the garbage can” and “There’s a raccoon in there, and if I get too close, it’ll latch onto my head with its creepy little child-fingers and chew my face off.”

Which is why I tried poking the lid open with a stick, while holding my arm over my face like I was dracula.  It makes perfect sense – the raccoon latches on, but my arm is in the way and can push it off.  Science, that’s what that is.  Though the stick was less scientifically effective.  in order to get the lid high enough, I’d have been almost fully suspended over the bin, and in full danger of face-attack.

We retreated, temporarily, to discuss options.  With Gwynn tied up far from the bin of doom, I came around behind, and pulled the lid open, bracing myself for the explosion of bandit-faced doom.  So, yeah, nothing came out but an ominous hissing noise.

Part of me, at this point, was thinking “Oh thank god, it’s a cat!”, but the instinctive part of me was saying “Oh crap, it’s angry, run away!”  Don’t judge – you weren’t there.

Speaking of, Doodle suggested calling you guys, but I figured that at 7pm, in the rain, you and animal control would be indifferent to the plight of a garbage-can beast.  But you could thank us for doing your job.

We retreated – what might have appeared to an outside observer to be us conferring about how next to abuse the garbage can.  And waited, but nothing emerged.

Just to be clear, I wasn’t attacking the garbage-can beast, I was trying to give it an out.  But unfortunately I think the stick I threw (from a distance) into the garbage can probably just beaned him in the head.  It was meant to be a freedom stick, though, i swear.

We were still not entirely sure whether there was something in there.  Actual leaning over the garbage can was necessary.  Doodle and I pulled up our hoods, which might have appeared to be us trying to belatedly hide our identities, but was in the hope of reducing the things the beast would have to hold on to.  Dracula arm up, and prepared for face-attack, I leaned in.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s too bad I didn’t have my phone, because there was the cutest little (cat-sized) raccoon in the nearly empty garbage bin.  Completely unable to get out.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd looking really really pissed off while non-stop hissing.  Reach my arm in?  HAH.

It’s at this point, I know, that any footage of our behaviour would have gotten a bit strange (like tentatively attacking a garbage can wasn’t strange enough, I know).  It’s just that we didn’t want it taking its wrath at having been soundblasted with garbage can kicks and then thwacked with a stick out on us.

So we pushed the can over on its side and ran away.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat?  We gave it enough time to theoretically get out and scramble up a tree, and then checked.  Unfortunately, by then, it was full dark, so we couldn’t be sure that there wasn’t anything in there.

In conclusion, dear park staff, while there are plenty of jerks who knock over your garbage cans for fun, that was not our intent.  We knocked it over for freedomAnd didn’t pick it up afterwards, also for freedom.

Yours truly,

Concerned citizens willing to fight and defeat dragons garbage cans in order to rescue fair maidens potentially giant beasts of the night.  Trashy freedom fighters.

**Update – I completely forgot to mention that the artwork is by my fabulously talented sister and comrade in arms, Doodle!**

Summer Master Class #3 – Underdog

I was pretty pumped last round to get to choose the prompt.  I was really pumped that I got my sister, Doodle, to participate in it!  And really REALLY excited when her post won.  It completely deserved it – it was a combination of funny and adorable and Pratchett-y that was just golden.  Check it out HERE if you want.

She left us with the quote below (follow the link in the picture to go submit your own responses or to read the other responses to the prompt):

follow the link to Master Class summer edition # 3

He had learned quickly to deal with it.  You had to act fast to make it clear that it didn’t matter to you, but that it also wouldn’t be a good idea to keep doing it.

It was certainly a Character-builder.  If Character had to do with frequent visits to the infirmary and the principal’s office, scraped knuckles, and a wardrobe that was scrupulously analyzed to give off an air of “don’t mess with me”.  His father seemed to think so.

His mother might have preferred if he’d shown the kind of Character that included turning the other cheek, being polite to his elders, and the spirit of camaraderie.

Rossamund was a boy with a girl’s name, and he knew it from day one.  He’d tried explaining that it was actually a boy’s name common in Wales in the eighteen hundreds.  He’d told them about how his mother was Welsh, and her favourite old Welsh ballad featured Rossamund, a mighty warrior who went off on adventures, slaying dragons, helping damsels in distress, and generally being a badass, manly kind of guy.  Even saddled with a name most people read as “Roza-mund”, emphasis on Rose.

He’d only made that mistake once – trying to explain his way out of the teasing.  A visit to the park with his mother had cured him of that – no boy can survive being called Rosie in front of his peers.  The two years he’d spent at that school were miserable.  And most definitely a Character building experience.

He’d been ecstatic when his father’d been transferred out of town for work.  He’d learned a lot about fighting dirty at his first school, and took advantage of his mother’s nervous shopping the summer before the second school to acquire armour.

Rossamund smiled grimly at the recollections as he dutifully passed on Character to one of his fellow students.  The best that could be said about Billy was that he excelled at contact sports.  The unfortunate aspect of his achievements in sports was that he rarely left them on the field, choosing to educate the scrawniest of the boys in the least sportsmanlike manner.  Lockers rattled in his wake, papers cascading out of some poor unfortunate’s hands as he exercised.

“C’mon, Billy-boy,” he jeered.  SLAM.

“I thought this was how you trained for football?”

SLAM.  The burly teen whimpered a cry for help, but none of the students observing stepped forward.

Rossamund hoisted him by the shoulders of his letterman jacket.

“Eh Willy-boy?  Wee Willy?”  Plant the idea in everyone’s mind, check.  He could distantly hear some nervous titters.  It was a start  “You’re right, this is kind of fun.”

SLAM.

“Please!  I’m sorry!”  there was a distinct teariness in Billy’s voice.

“What’s that?”  Rossamund leaned forward.

“I’m sorry!” the other boy cried.

“I thought that might be it, Tiny.”

Rossamund dragged the boy up by the collar and leaned him, almost gently, up against the dented locker.  He slapped him on the shoulder, almost in a comradely manner.  He then grinned, an evil looking grimace he’d practiced for hours in front of the mirror, turned, and walked away.

“Wow.”

Out of sight of the crowd of witnesses to Billy’s defeat, Rossamund turned in surprise.  He vaguely remembered the bookish girl smiling wryly at him from a class – history, maybe.  He cocked an eyebrow, not letting down the facade, and said, “Yeah?  I am pretty impressive, I guess.”

She nodded slightly.  “It’s nice, what you did for John,” she said, referring to the horribly acne-stricken boy Billy had taken a certain extra glee in pushing around.

Rossamund looked around, checking that they were out of earshot of the other students.  “I don’t do nice,” he snarled.

The girl only smiled.  “Yeah, well, if you ever want to try it in a less… aggressive… way, you should stop by the shelter sometime.  Plenty of underdogs there who could use someone to root for them.”  She held out a pamphlet which he accepted without thinking.

A swarm of students came around the corner and flowed around them.  Most looked cautiously over at Rossamund, to see what he would do next, to get out of the way if possible.  Conscious of observation, he stuffed the pamphlet into his pocket, out of sight.  She smiled again, and he wondered why he’d never taken notice of how pretty she was before.

He couldn’t resist smiling back at her, but turned it into a disdainful sneer as he turned to face the crowded hallway.

He figured he’d count helping out in a building full of four-footed allergens as yet another Character builder.

Dirty Dishes

storch-badgeI’m trying out a new writing prompt, from Sinistral Scribblings.  The Master Class takes the first sentence from a book as your first line, unlimited word-count.  This week, the book is Dodie Smith’s “I Capture the Castle“.   Having never read the book or seen the movie, I hold out hope that my version of the story won’t be a complete rip-off (albeit less well-written) of the actual story.  It’s on my to-read list, now, though.

Hearing what I planned to write, Doodle’s first response was that she’d draw me a picture of it.  I think she did a fabulous job of capturing the scene that I had in my mind’s eye.  Not that there’s any nepotism here at Goneforawalk, but have I mentioned that she’s my sister?  And she’s pretty darned good – you should check her out at her blog, or on DeviantART.  She doesn’t post new art nearly often enough, so feel free to head on over and badger her on my behalf.

in case you can't read it, the mug says "Don't Trust Turkeys".

in case you can’t read it, the mug says “Don’t Trust Turkeys”.

I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.

I lost my oar, the heavy teaspoon slipping, slick with soap, from my hands.  I tried to grab for it and nearly tipped my Tupperware.

Bamboo pattern was an excellent choice,  I muse, watching the spoon slowly and majestically settle on the bottom, like the titanic does in remakes of its last hours.  I suppose something with a rubber handle or tiny holes in it would have helped me more in this situation.

Hindsight is 20/20, and I never imagined this when putting things on the gift registry.

Frankly, I can’t see what exactly I ought to have done to avoid this mess entirely.  Not get married.  Apart from that, though, there are too many variables.  Every alternate beginning I run through my head finds me here, leftover stroganoff smeared on my knees, awash in a sea of dishes that are ‘just soaking’.

David.  I want to curse his name – primal scream out all my rage.  I want to throw things at his head.  My loudest holler can’t even fill this sink, though, and I have limited ammunition aboard-ship.

I guess I should consider myself lucky that he didn’t even bother to scrape the stray pasta and bacon into the garbage before flinging my boat into sudsy oblivion– I could be here for a while, and that torso-sized piece of pasta could be the difference between life and death.

I really thought it would be romantic, marrying an inventor.  I pictured a less-platonic Wallace and Gromit thing.  Cute, until you pay more attention and realize that Gromit gets zero recognition for all the crap he has to put up with, all the messes he has to clean up.  And, really, David is definitely the Wallace in this relationship.

His lack of attention to detail doesn’t bode well for a resolution to my current issues.  Neither does his habit of leaving dishes to sit until they become science experiments in their own right.

I hold out hope that he’ll notice I’m gone.  He finally managed to make something work – that proves that he’s at least got brains.

Figures, really.  10 years of marriage, of junk that doesn’t do what it’s meant to do, of him salvaging parts off my dishwasher, blender and hair-dryer, and finally, there’s something to show for it.  Apart from a sink full of dirty dishes, a dearth of smoothies and perpetually frizzy hair, that is.  I loved that dishwasher, dammit.  Most of his inventions go off randomly and unexpectedly, lots of flash and bang with nothing to show for it at the end.  It wasn’t really surprising that a quick trip into the lab to dust elicited a hum and flash from his latest work.

That nauseous dizzy feeling as the sink grew rapidly bigger and closer after I’d filled it was certainly unexpected. Shrunk, daybook and all – dishes still unwashed.  He told me he was working on a solution to our dishwashing problems.

What I really want to know is how a Shrink Ray is going to do that?

Gone Campin’

There is nothing I love so much as being in the woods.  The prospect of a trip north leaves me giddy and making lists, even if it’s just for a weekend.  Since Gwynn is back up north with my family, it’s doubly exciting to go up.  After all – what’s better than the woods?  Seeing one’s pooch for the first time in a week.

It might just be one of the most wonderful things… to be greeted with such absolute love and happiness.

This trip, I drove up with some friends of Doodle’s (and mine).  One advantage of this is that we actually got some photographs of the drive up!

Another is that K has a fancy camera, an artistic eye, and an enjoyment of taking pictures.  Any pictures with unusual colouring are definitely hers.  Other pictures, it’s probably equal chances being from my camera or hers.

Fiddling with colours…

… and artistic 🙂

It was considerably chillier up there than it has been most of the summer.  And rainy, though we lucked out with clear skies friday night, saturday morning, and sunday morning.

I’m kind of in love with her camera’s selective colour options

K & S … Doodle had to work on Sunday, unfortunately, so she missed out on hiking shenanigans

Gwynn found some puddles after all that rain

He’s very good at recall lately, and we practice a lot… still, on trails in this kind of woodland, I let him drag the long-line for short stretches, and call him back often.

We had a great trip, even with the rain.  Less fun… the trip home.

two lane undivided highway + Sunday afternoon cottage traffic + an accident closing the southbound lane = usually 4 hour drive extended to nearly 7… shoot me now.

a better picture to leave you with… sometimes Gwynn chickens out after he gets up on the rocks. Or his ‘getting up’ point is too close to a very long drop for my sanity.

What’s up, Doc?

I was talking about dogs with my doctor the other day, possibly the least awkward conversation I could have with the woman who not only helped my mom give birth to me, but has seen me naked numerous times since then.

I started the conversation by asking whether someone with asthma could be allergy tested to determine if it is the cat or the dog of the house that is affecting their asthma.  As someone firmly in the dog-lover camp (she was a dachshund breeder for a number of years), she assured me it was almost guaranteed to be the cat, but that, yes, there are allergy tests for that.  The same tests, in fact, that confirmed that Doodle is somewhat allergic to dogs, very allergic to cats, extremely allergic to hamsters, and hazardously allergic to Yellow Jackets (the bee, not the fashion accessory – those, I found out in my last daytime-TV viewing session, are ‘in’ this season, in case you were wondering, and unlikely to cause Doodle to be asphyxiated), in a ‘carry around an epipen’ kind of way.

On a side-note, and with no further proof than that my doctor told me so, apparently darker coloured cats are higher in allergen.  This wasn’t a valid enough argument for me getting a fluffy white evil-mastermind cat, according to my parents.  I was going to name him Moriarty.

As we continued talking, I mentioned wishing that I could adopt a certain blonde dog, whose owners might possibly be considering getting rid of her, due to youngest child’s asthma.  Whether it’s actually the asthma that’s making them decide this, or the fact that it’s been two weeks since I’ve walked the poor thing due to ankle issues, and she might just be a whirling dervish by now, I don’t know.  More on that drama later.  It would, however, require me to get my own place in quite short order, since my parents aren’t interested in a second dog, let alone a first.

Blonde? Moi?

My doctor was a bit surprised.  Are you going to take Gwynn with you when you move out?

Well… yes.  He’s my dog.  (side note:  it is amazing how many times I’ve had that question asked of me… people seem genuinely surprised at the idea of the person who walks, feeds, grooms, takes to vet, pays for all aspects of doggy ownership, and vacuums up the mini-Gwynn tumbleweeds would be the one to keep the dog when she moves out.)

Your parents are really going to miss him.

This is when I found out that the last time my dad was in, he took advantage of using this least-awkward-conversation-topic, too.  He spent his last checkup showing the doctor pictures of a certain orange fluffy grandchild.

Added to the times I’ve approached the kitchen and stopped out of sight to listen to my Dad’s conversations with Gwynn (are you a good boy?  You are a good boy.  You get cheese!  Good boy!  Good dogs like you get cheese!  … or whatever food he happens to be chopping, if it’s dog-safe ), my dad’s rep as ‘not a dog person’ is pretty much toast.

Well, now we know who the favourite is.

a very old picture of 'the favourite'

A Big Happy *sob* Birthday!

It’s the big one.  I’m officially old.  Practically ancient and decrepit, I’m only a few short years from being set adrift on my own personal ice floe.  One foot in the grave.  I’m pretty sure I found a gray hair this morning.  I’ll probably go bald, too.  That happens to women, sometimes, you know.  I’m definitely a spinster at this point, and I’m pretty sure I’m going senile.

What?  My birthday?  No, don’t be silly, that’s not for months.  My birthday hearkens the return of flowers.  Also, no, I’m not being over-dramatic here.  You are.  No, you are.  I know you are, but what am I?

Cue the Sad Violin.

It’s my baby sister’s 19th Birthday.  Nineteen.    She’s able to vote.  Well, ok, she could do that last year, But Still!  She’s living on her own in the far-away Ottawaland, having to scavenge for her own food and beverage in the not-quite-arctic-tundra of University Residentia.  She’s stopped thinking that boys are icky, probably.  She attends classes at an institute of higher learning.  She is officially able to purchase alcohol anywhere in Canada.  She’s an adult. 

She looks an awful lot like me. Only taller, more fit, and... well... like a taller, fitter me.

She was born when I was in Senior Kindergarten.  I was a great big sister right from the start.  When my teacher asked me what my new baby sister’s name was, I, already deeply attached to the girl, answered, “Dooor… something… something like door.  But… not.  I don’t know.  Can I play in the lego area?”

I taught her valuable lessons along the way.  Affectionate older-sisterly lessons like,

“Don’t lie down in the middle of the road while I’m riding my bike towards you, because you will be run over.  See, I wasn’t bluffing.”

And … well… off the top of my head, I can’t think of anything else that fits here.  Still.  I was a part of her education.

In return, she taught me valuable lessons like,

“If your demon-spawn baby sister comes up to you, looking completely innocent and cute, and wants to give you a hug, it’s actually in order to bite you on the face.

And

“If you chop off your bangs, and all the hair along the part in the top of your hair, right down to a buzz-cuttwice … our hairdresser will actually get out the electric razor and start prepping your hair for being an all-over buzz-cut.  And it really seems like he isn’t bluffing.”  That was definitely not the best look for her, even if she avoided getting the full buzz-cut.

I remember reading the Harry Potter books to her… Aloud.  With voices.  We learned together that Hermione wasn’t pronounced how it was spelled.

She actually enjoys going on walks with me.  I don’t even have to bribe her, most of the time.

Even when it's cold out... And even after we realised that the thing Gwynn is so interested in there is a deer-leg. Yech.

When she was really little (in real life, not just in my mind), her teacher asked them to draw someone they cared for.  While all the other kids drew spider-blob-people or block-blob-people representative of their parents, she drew a surprisingly detailed and identifyable picture of her babysitter.  Having finished the front (curly hair and all) before the aloted time was up, she turned the page over, and did the woman’s back, too (typical hands-in-back-pockets-of-her-jeans stance and all).

She makes art.  Artistic art, and always has.  At the age when I was drawing super-creepy-spider-people with no neck and spindly arms and legs protruding at unnatural angles from their bloated torsos, she was drawing relatively proportional not-scary people whose eyes were in the right part of their heads, and the same size as each other.  She’s in art school now, and the piece she gave me for my last birthday will be the basis for all decoration in a room of my future-house.

A woman came to our front door trying to sell something, and my sister politely turned her down.  As the woman was walking away, she told the woman, “Be Safe.”  Like she was sending the woman out into the zombie-apocalypse-wasteland.

yup... it's a zombie-arm for Sadie. We are totally ready for that apocalypse.

She and her friends were once spat upon by a silver mime.

All in all, she’s pretty kickass.

I look at her, and I still see her at 5, 8, 10… maybe 15… sometimes.  But she isn’t – she’s a young woman, and all grown up.  Holy cow, I feel old.

So Happy Birthday, Doodle.  I’m proud of you, and very impressed at how awesome you grew up to be.  Have fun celebrating!

ps, I hope you didn’t get awoken at god-awful-in-the-morning again today!

Murphy Plays with Fire, and my Mental Health

I was pretty pleased with myself.  I found a copy of The Girl Who Played with Fire for the rock-bottom price of $2.99.  It would perfectly complement the copies of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl who Kicked the Hornets’ NestI was sure it would look great right between them on the shelf.

For those of you unaware of the Stieg Larsson series, the book I bought, that was the second book in the trilogy.

At one point, prior to my purchase, we had all three of them.   The second went walking, before I got the chance to read it.  It’s been gone at least 6 months, so I figured the grieving period is over, and I might as well purchase when the option of a low-priced purchase arises.  We had established that no-one in the house had lent it, or brought it somewhere with them.  It was last seen… with the other books, on the book shelf.  It just… went away.

Within an hour of arriving home and proudly showing the family the sheer genius of I, the purchase of a replacement second-book… I found the original copy, the one that has been missing for 6 months or more.  It was sitting on the book-shelf in Doodle’s room, the same Doodle who has not yet read any part of the series, and has no interest in reading it.  Or, for that matter, moving the second book into her room.

Murphy: 1, My Sanity: 0.

Babies aren’t Puppies!

In my previous post, I mentioned that I do all my Christmas shopping online or months and months and MONTHS in advance of the holiday season.  Yeah, I’m done my Christmas shopping, and have been since mid-November.  You hate me, I’m ok with that.

How is it, though, that despite the fact that I’m done, I still found myself at the mall on December 21st?

I was doing good… in a kind of procrastinate-ey way.  I was supporting the Toy Mountain campaign, and buying a gift for an infant.  Last year, I had to buy something for a 13 year old girl… it was complicated!  I was a weird 13 year old, but I’m still sure that their suggestion of a dolly (seriously, ‘a dolly’) would be the most disappointing gift a 13 year old girl could receive.  This year, when I had the option of choosing my age-group, I jumped at the chance for getting a ‘newborn’ tag.

It’s a baby – how hard could it be?

In the jumbled chaos of the mall a few short days before Christmas?  Kind of difficult.

When someone decided they should grab most of the dog-toy stock and scatter it around the kids’ toys shelves?  And I really don’t know much about babies?  Really HARD!

Doodle and I spent a good 40 minutes in the store, sorting through things, trying to find items with labels identifying them as ‘0+ months’, while playing the “is it a dog toy?” game if it doesn’t have an age-label.

“Awww, so cute – a plushy floppy rabbit!  Let’s get this for the baby!”

*Squeeeeeeeeeeek*

“I thought babies liked things that rattled? Not squeaked?” checks tag.  “It’s a dog toy.”

you saw the episode where he clicker-trained the toddler, right?

This was repeated over and over and over again.  Doodle is particularly good at finding cute dog toys hidden amongst the pillow-pets (seriously, it’s a thing… talk about making stuffies utilitarian!), purse-teddies (think, empty teddy bear with purse-strap dressed in drag) and occasional regular stuffed animals.

Babies and dogs – they both put their toys in their mouths.  They both drool.  They both like random noises in toys.  No-one wants a dog toy as a gift for their baby.  It’s the same reasoning for why you shouldn’t clicker-train your neighbour’s kid.

A nice woman at the store gave us suggestions for baby toys:  “Colourful, short fur or no fur, and rattles.  They like rattles.”

I found some toys that fit that description.

Oh good! I was wondering why I hadn't gotten any gifts today. What do you mean, those aren't for me?

Gwynn likes them too.  He was kind of disappointed that I wasn’t sharing them with him (at all… he didn’t get to touch them, I swear).  I’m pretty sure that Christmas gifts shouldn’t come with the note please wash thoroughly before giving to baby.

I’m also pretty sure that when future-me has a baby, the dog will be more than happy to teach his new furless sibling how to shake-kill the squeaky toys Doodle will get for the baby.

Sick as a Dog or Lying like a Rug?

Last night was a long time coming.  I knew it was likely that something like that would happen at some point, though I’ll admit I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner.  Gwynn is, after all, my first dog.  His existence is like fertilizer for my paranoia, and many things he does/has done/will do give me a sense of dread.

I feel like now’s the time to mention that everything’s ok?  It is.  Honest.

We enjoyed a nice pitch-black walk, a cheerful romp in the park with a playful Newfie puppy (8 months old and already more than double Gwynn’s weight), and all was good.  I was appreciative that my sister Peanut and my practically-sister (who spends about equal time at our house and her own house, and has since she and Doodle were in kindergarten) had come on the walk with me.  Conversation is great for helping to ignore the cold in the air.  Extra people are great to have along if I want to go into the dark, Dark Park and make my way through the ominous shadows, across the graffiti-ed bridge, past the parking-lots full of sketchy people in cars, and to the dog park.

Once all our extremities were nearly solidified with cold, we went home.  Gwynn was eventually fed with his Kong Wobbler, though not right after getting into the house.

There was nothing I could find to figure out his bizarre behaviour.  He was licking his nose repeatedly and compulsively like a frog on crack, just sticking his tongue in and out the front of his mouth in rapid succession like he was trying to taste the air.

He got me to let him out time and again, only to rush anxiously around the yard, scarfing grass like reaching maximum grass-pacity would save him from the monsters.  I’d bring him in (which required chasing him down, because he was so nervous he was fighting to avoid me – racing around the yard pausing to jam as much grass into his mouth as possible before hurrying away from me), and he’d be ready to go out again within minutes.

Licking his nose repeatedly and then making the face and neck motion of a choking/gagging/wanting to vomit dog, but without any noise.

FREAKED ME OUT.

this is what most freaked me out. it's like the ninja of dog-deaths... hard to predict, hard to survive, needs fast action to stay alive

So, after establishing that my vet (despite their website claiming they’re open till 9) was not answering my 8:30 pm phone call, I found an emergency vet to call.  And, yup, the strange behaviour of my 50 lb deep-chested dog was enough for the vet to suggest that I come in, just to be on the safe side.

FREAKED ME OUT.

He had slowed slightly with the lick-lick-lick gag-face, but it was still happening, and he was still behaving extremely out of the usual.

I made the decision that, whatever it was that was wrong with him, it would be better to see the vet and be capable of sleeping at all that night.

We drove, pausing at my vet on the way, to establish that, yup, it isn’t 9pm yet, and yup, all the doors are locked.  I AM NOT IMPRESSED.

We finally pulled up at the 24 hour vet, I opened the trunk to let Gwynn out, and there he was, not a lick-lick-gag in sight, wagging his tail excitedly.

Where are we going, Boss?  Somewhere fun?  Is there cheese? OH MY DOG, IT’S A VET, I LOVE VETS!!!

He just about dragged me into the veterinary office, despite the fact that we’ve never been there before.  He showed ZERO sign of issue.  He might even have seemed healthier than before he’d started showing bizarre crack-frog behaviour.

I am feeling a bit embarrassed at this point, me with my polka-dot shoes and argyle socks, with my light-and-inadequate-for-the-weather-sweater and hat-hair, with my big purple binder of all-things-dog, juggling the binder, the purse and a peppy and completely healthy seeming puppy.

The vet was great – handled my pet-paranoia like a pro (which, I guess, he is), and gave me some tips on dog bloat issues, and some signs and symptoms I could notice.  He also gave me some of his thoughts on what the lick-lick-lick-gag-face thing might mean, and did a thorough physical check, just to make sure.

He heard unusual noises in his upper intestines.  He thinks it’s likely a bit of gas, and that’s probably why he was making the retching faces.

Since I was already there, and since it’s something I always forget to ask at my own vet, I got him to check Gwynn’s fat and/or skinniness.  He’s become extra fluffy lately, and it’s always nice to get confirmation that I’m neither starving nor stuffing him.  Apparently he’s at a very good size, nothing to worry about.  Bonus.

So… $115 for an emergency vet visit to get confirmation that my dog has gas, seems quite healthy overall, and is at his ideal weight.  At least it confirmed that he isn’t dying.

He threw up in his crate last night… a big wad of grass that kind of reminded me of one of those owl-hairballs… less the mouse bones and fur.  However, I’m betting that the cause of that throwing up?  Reaching Maximum Grass-pacity.

Extra bonus points to the 24 hour vet for doing a follow-up phone call this morning, I really appreciated it.

Do you know where your nearest 24 hour vet is?  I’ve got mine – their magnet is on my fridge.