Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Hell is a Frozen Wasteland

I sort of survived the weekend from hell.

I am not speaking of this last weekend, the weekend of Christmas and the holidays and a monster snow storm. Despite the snow storm, this last weekend was very pleasant (cats puking and pooping the truck notwithstanding). 

No, I am referring to the weekend before when there was all kinds of below zero weather and crabbiness galore.

I strongly believe hell is actually a frozen wasteland a la Dante's Inferno, and not a lake of fire like commonly believed.

I'm going to take a stand and say severe cold temperatures and weather changes do not make animals happy. I can only imagine how the poor deer and rabbits felt, going from near-70's temperatures in mid-November to immediate plummet of subzero winterland. No one had time to grow in their winter coats, and even Tess has been ragging out her coat because she is inside so much. There is no need to be fluffy.

It makes vacuuming happen a lot more though.

Generally I leave Tess outside during the day while I'm at work.  In forty degrees, thirty degrees, and even twenty degrees she is fine, especially if the sun is shining.  Snow or snowing doesn't deter her either as she loves to bound through the snow.

Thirty below is too much for her.

Friday, a week before Christmas, it snowed all day, blizzard style.  I'm not talking the big fat lazily floating snowflakes that put one in mind of happily strolling couples, hand in hand, or riding in a one horse open sleigh (no one wants to be in a one horse open anything in subzero temperatures).  This blizzard consisted of the stinging, tiny ice balls whipped around by the bone-rattling/chilling wind that makes one want to actually crawl into the fireplace and set oneself on fire. 

In thirty below weather with wind that basically sucks the soul out of people, the only way to get warm IS to practically set oneself on fire.

Tess has none of that. She barely goes outside to pee when it's that cold.  And if a dog with three coats who is basically made for the outdoors refuses to go outdoors, you know it's bad.  I don't mind snow and I don't mind the cold.  I do mind ice balls and I do mind cold that basically freezes your eyeballs open and gives one instantaneous frostbite.

Saturday the chaos began with the arrival of California Guy and Surina.  Surina has it worse than Tess.  She is four years old and therefore constantly energetic, but she refuses to go outside in the subzero weather (with good reason, she's practically bald she has such thin fur), and therefore releases her energy by bounding through the house, up and down the stairs, and annoying the cats until she gets a paw across the nose which in turn causes her to chase the cats. The cats were already in a bad mood given the weather, and Puckett had just recently recovered from her most recent bout of pouting for whatever reason she had for pouting.  One never knows with her.

Surina also has gotten it in her head that when it's that cold, she doesn't really need to be potty trained anymore either, taking the route of barely getting out the door to pee on my porch.

California Guy put the kabosh on that one right quick. Just because it's cold and there's snow, does not mean the dog gets to pee on the porch because she's too much of a baby to go down the stairs and pee in the snow. I had a dachshund who would do that too, pee right outside the door because she was too much of a snowflake to go out into the snow. That's one step away from just peeing on the floor inside and not even bothering to go outside.

What gets both me and California Guy is that Surina has absolutely no issue with the cold if we take her and Tess for a run, and she'll flop face first into a snowbank with no problem.

We finally got everyone calmed down and Surina disappeared under the kitchen table while Tess went upstairs. 

Sunday morning we were awakened at six in the morning with "pace pace pace, clicking toenails, pace pace, clicking toenails." I thought someone had to go outside.  That and the fact that Surina was upset because Tess was sleeping on the dog bed.  So instead of finding a different place to sleep she hovered, clicking her toenails until Califonria Guy hollered at her to go lay down somewhere.  Almost immediately the ringing of jingle bells could be heard downstairs, testimony that Percy was bored, hungry, or just feeling like getting into mischief by attacking the Christmas ornaments.  I got up to go shoo him and put away said jingle bells.  I was half asleep and had neglected to put on my glasses so when I inspected the railing where I tied the jingle bells to my Christmas lights, I bumped into my wineglass rack, knocking one of the wineglasses off and sending it to the ground.  The resounding crash and shattering causing Califronia Guy to call downstairs, "What happened and are you okay?"

So at seven in the morning in the freezing cold (in thirty below weather there is just no keeping the house warm enough no matter how much I heat, and my tile floor feels like a sheet of ice) we had to sweep up shards and particles of glass, and then get out the vacuum cleaner to make sure we didn't miss any. I would have gladly left it for later in the morning if not for the fact that of course Percy had to prance around in the middle of the glassy mess (I guess he wanted his paws cut up), and Surina had to prance around the kitchen in front of me, blocking everywhere I wanted to go until California Guy hollered at her again and threw her butt upstairs where Tess cowered.  I had to shove Percy up there too, not that that deterred him from coming downstairs and trying to play with broken glass.

Puckett was the only one with the sense to steer clear, and Willow, luckily, was locked in her cage, or she too would have been in the middle of the mess.

We finally got the mess cleaned up and were headed back to bed when Willow started to squall.  Loudly, demanding, like if we didn't feed her immediately she would pass out from hunger.

Have I mentioned that every night I put her in her cage with her food bowl and she has plenty to eat while she's in there?

She just wanted out.

I yelled at her to shut up, California Guy threw the dogs outside to pee, and we went back to bed.

And once again..."pace pace pace, toenails clicking, pace pace." I sat up and yelled "Set your ass down now and don't get up again!"

Surina lowered her body slowly to the ground, eyes wide and staring at me, and didn't move again. Tess wedged herself in a corner between the wall and the bed and made herself as small as possible. Willow was quiet too at that point, shocked into silence by the fraying of our moods.

The adventure didn't stop there. My clumsiness with the wineglass translated throughout the rest of the day where I dropped things, dumped water and tea on things, and then the highlight of my day when we decided we had enough of the dogs' restlessness and took them for a walk.  I made it half a block before wiping out on the slick-as-glass street that nobody had bothered to plow or sand, and came down hard on my tailbone.  I had to lie there for a few minutes to get my breath back, and at first I thought I was okay.  It was clear that I was not when I tried to sit up and the pain in my tailbone was so bad I almost lost my cookies.  Tess came over and sat beside me so I could put my arms around her, and California Guy also wrapped his arm around me and sat with me for a minute until I could actually stand up.

And stop crying.

And stop wanting to puke.

I called it a day.  I managed to hobble to the park so the dogs could run for at least a little bit (not long as Surina was already turning into a frozen dog popsicle - that dog has got to get herself a doggie sweater or something), and then we went home, where I crawled into bed with my bed warmer and took a nap.  Of course when I landed butt-first on the ice, it was so cold that any bruising, swelling, and pain was staunched so I didn't really start feeling it until I warmed up and realized I couldn't sit. Plus, I was nauseated the rest of the day.

I have never been so happy for Monday to roll around.

Thirty below is for the birds.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

On the Tenth Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me

Merry Christmas to me and California Guy.

Christmas is already a stressful time, and traveling at Christmas is even worse. California Guy and I had the brilliant idea of taking all of my pets to Casper to stay with him for four days over the holiday. I didn't have anyone available to watch the cats, and it seemed like a perfect plan for all of us to hole up for four days, out in the middle of nowhere.

My cats, I thought, were easy travelers. Tess is the pain in the ass when traveling. I've taken all three cats on short car trips to the vet or from the animal shelter, and everyone is always pretty chill, especially Puckett. I've never had a problem with them.

Of course I've never tried to put them in the car for two hours before, driving away from their home as far away as they've ever been.

So two days before Christmas, California Guy and I packed up in his truck my suitcase, wine, stocking stuffers, gifts, laptop, and all four pets complete with food bowls, dry food, and canned food for the trip to his home. We stuffed Percy and Willow into their carriers, put Puckett on a towel on the bench between us, shoved Tess in the bed of the truck, and hit the road.

Five Crazy Animals:

The animals have been kind of stressed lately anyway, and I throw Surina into the mix because she's usually hyper and a little nuts, particularly when it comes to food or when she's bored but doesn't want to do anything but chew on everything. Percy's been racing through the house, playing with his jingle balls and trying to yank down the bells I strung along my Christmas lights. The morning before we got on the road, he started to attack the gate to my stairs, trying to crawl up and over it. There was a snowstorm forecasted for Christmas Day, but I really should have known better than to try to take three cats in an unfamiliar truck for a two hour trip.

As we drove towards the highway, Percy immediately began to wail. He usually does. I was unconcerned. Then Willow started to meow. She usually does that too.

Then Puckett became agitated. She kept getting up from her towel, mewing her little squeaky meow, trying to crawl over the console to the back - like there was any room for her back there - and panting.

The panting worried me. Panting usually means a cat is extremely stressed and possibly about to puke. Or maybe die.  The last cat I had that panted like that died in my arms from kidney failure.  My Himalayan, Mindi, used to drool when she was very upset, usually when we tried to clean out her ears.

Four Piles of Puke:

An hour down the road Puckett had puked three times and pooped once, and a horrendous stench met us from the backseat of the truck, announcing that someone else had puked and/or pooped. The farther we drove the worse the stench got. Puckett was extremely agitated now, and I held her in my lap as she went rigid with shock and stress. Her head sort of lolled against my leg like she was too weak to lift it. My jeans were covered in barf, and Puckett blew her coat everywhere.  She had also started to drool, ribbons of saliva hanging from her open mouth and covering the bench where she sat.

Three Pissed Off Cats:

From the backseat Percy and Willow both yelled louder and more insistent like we were taking them through a portal to the bowels of hell.  The farther we got the more the smell reeked, and California Guy finally asked if I wanted to turn around and take the cats home.  I was nearly in tears.  At this point I was afraid Puckett would give herself a heart attack. She was panting hard and very quickly, and I couldn't tell which cat in the backseat had made a mess that smelled like rotten tuna mixed with a dead cat.  Maybe one of them had died from the shock by then, I wasn't sure, so I kept calling their names to get them to meow at me.

We turned around halfway to Casper and headed back home.  Puckett sort of sank into a stupor where she went perfectly still while still panting and drooling.  She stopped puking and pooping, though whoever had made a mess in the backseat caused us both to want to hurl.

Two Humans About to Be Sick:

It was another hour home and we drove the whole way without turning the heat on and rolling the windows down periodically. The smell was that bad.  We had managed to clean Puckett up somewhat though she'd gotten puke all over her towel, her paws, and my jeans, but whoever had gotten sick in the backseat was trapped in his or her carrier with the mess. All of that combined with whatever stench was taking place in the backseat was enough to make us both sick to our stomachs and ready to strap the carriers to the roof of the truck. 

And a Cat in the Bathtub:

When we got everyone home, I shoved Tess outside, released Puckett in the house where she immediately slipped under the bed and remained there, and brought Percy into the bathroom to see if he was the one who grossed everybody out.  Percy was clean, just loud and upset, and as soon as I let him out of his carrier he was fine.  He didn't hide and he didn't seem too much the worse for wear.  He went to the cabinet to investigate the state of his food bowl.

We brought Willow into the bathroom and let her out of her carrier.  There were two piles of poop and a pile of puke in her carrier, and the smell was so God awful I nearly had to bend over the toilet myself. Willow's paws and backside were covered in shit so California Guy had to grasp her by the scruff and hold her under the faucet while I rinsed and shampooed her.  She was in so much shock (or maybe just so pissed off) she didn't even scream like she usually does when I try to groom her.  The poor cat looked miserable and pitiful, and she looked even more miserable and pitiful when she was wet.  Wet, she shrinks down to half her size where she's practically just eyeballs and ears.

We got her cleaned up and released her.  She retreated to the dog bed to groom herself and fix the damage we inflicted on her.  California Guy decided to go home and collect Surina and then come back so we could spend Christmas at my house.  I turned my attention to the cat carrier.

I once again nearly hung over the side of the toilet.  I'll spare the details, but even a seasoned shit shoveler such as myself had to stop periodically to gag and cover my nose while I cleaned the thing.  

All in all it turned out to be a fairly nice Christmas.  We decorated my tiny tree, arranged the presents, turned on all the Christmas lights, and watched silly Christmas movies.  Even Surina the chow hound got a pile of ham leftovers to keep her occupied, and Tess got more than her usual number of cookies.

As for the cats, once everyone was back home and clean and secure, they reverted to normal behavior as though I'd never tried to drag them on some crazy adventure.  Puckett only stayed under the bed for an hour before she came out, and Willow forgave the bath fairly quickly.  Within the hour all three of them were dancing around the food cabinet, begging for food.  I was still nauseated and they'd all lost the contents of their stomachs, but hey, they were hungry.

Leave it to the cats to think about food after a nasty-smelling adventure like that.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Guilt Trip

Okay, this is getting embarrassing.

Even fully aware of the fact that I am a sucker and that Puckett can play me like a fiddle, I still fall for it EVERY SINGLE TIME.

I've been traveling a lot which is not normal for me. I'm such a homebody, and I hate packing a suitcase, going through security, dealing with TSA, and taking off my shoes, my jacket, and all my jewelry just so TSA can be sure that I'm not some kind of serial bomber who tries to sneak - horror of all horrors! - a razor on board.  This last time I traveled I had to take my Snickers bars out of my carryon as all food needed to be out (Snickers bars are very dangerous after all), and once my bag went through the security they asked me, very no-nonsense, "You have a candle in here don't you?"

Is that bad?

Candles are dangerous too, you know.  I might decide to light it on board and stink up the entire cabin with the scent of fruity, frosty melon with soft undertones of vanilla. The candle was a gift for my friend, and after TSA confirmed it was wax and not gel, they allowed me to repack it and board the plane.

At least I didn't try to take poppers onto the plane like my friend, the Paleontologist.  In his defense, he'd forgotten they were in there - he is a bit of a scatterbrain - and it did earn him the nickname of the Unipopper, giving him fodder for stories for years to come.  He even made the Denver paper.

In the space of a month I went to Texas for a week and then I flew down to Denver to spend the weekend with my other best friend.

I left a week ago Friday and got home very late on Sunday (after nine), and went to bed pretty quickly.  The next day California Guy came to stay for a night. I guess I didn't pay as much attention to my pets as I usually do because Puckett put up a protest.

I guess Sweetums did not appreciate being left or ignored.

When I got home from work on Tuesday I couldn't find her. Percy and Willow greeted me at the door like they usually do, and Tess was begging to go outside since the poor pooch had been locked in the house for days given the ridiculously cold weather and snow forecast.

No Puckett though.

I wasn't worried. Puckett has several spots she likes to hide in, especially when the weather turns to shit.  He favorite place is between the base heater and my space heater, though she also likes to sleep on the dog bed or next to the cat tree.  That night however she was nowhere to be found. I checked my bed, the dog bed, downstairs by the heaters, under the couch, the cabinets.  I even looked under the bed. 

I was just starting to panic when I remembered that Puckett is pretty good at wedging herself under the bed as far back against the wall as she can so that the shadows conceal her.  I checked under the bed again and there she was.  Her butt facing me, her face turned towards the wall.  I called to her and patted the floor.  She turned her head slightly, but didn't flick an ear so I went around to the other side of the bed and reached underneath to pat her.

She moved away and glared at me.  Then she shifted and turned away from me again.

Okay, so she was pissed.

She's done this before, so at that point I wasn't worried.  I figured she'd come out when she was good and ready.  Also, the forecast had predicted one monster storm coming in with 8-12 inches of snow and negative temperatures.

If I was a cat, I'd hide too.

By Wednesday morning, she had not emerged.  This is uncommon for her.  Every morning she is at the food bowl with Percy, mewing for her food.  Even if she doesn't care to eat the rest of the day, in the morning she has her ritual.  Eat, drink a load of water, use the litter box, and resume resembling a beached whale in her chosen resting area.

I left her alone Wednesday, but by Wednesday evening when she still hadn't emerged I got concerned.  She didn't eat, she didn't drink, and she didn't really respond when I reached under the bed to scratch her ears or tickle her belly.  Not a purr, just a dirty look.

Thursday morning she still wasn't waiting by her food bowl like she usually does, so by then I had had enough.  At least this time when I reached for her under the bed she purred and rubbed against my hand, but she still didn't move.  I told her enough of this foolishness and managed to coax her close enough so that I could drag her out.  She let me carry her downstairs where she refused to eat, gave me dirty looks, and stared at her food bowl like she was wishing something amazingly yummy would appear, or maybe that the food would just magically appear in her mouth so she wouldn't have to take the trouble and energy of eating it.

I offered her canned food and you would have thought I was offering her offal the way she wrinkled her nose and backed away.  Percy and Willow wolfed theirs down, but apparently even canned food on a white china plate isn't good enough for Her Majesty.  She did use the litter box and then slunk upstairs and under the bed without drinking water.  I left her a bowl of food and filled one of my white cereal bowls with water. Sometimes Precious just wants to consume her necessities out of human dishes.

I decided that if she wasn't coming out by Thursday evening I would take her to the vet Friday morning.

I came home for lunch around two and took care of things like dishes and cleaning litter boxes. As I walked into the kitchen, there was Puckett, mewing and weaving against the corners of the wall like she was demanding to know why the hell I hadn't fed her. She bolted down a bowlful of food, drank a gallon of water, used the litter box, and then sacked out in her designated spot by the heaters.  I stared at her in amazement. I couldn't decide if I was mad at her or relieved that she wasn't dying on the spot.

She's done this before.  I reacted the exact same way before.  You'd think I'd have learned by now.  When she pouts and faces the wall and gives me her butt, she's probably just mad and not sick.  Refusing to eat and drink and use the box is basically punishing me for not paying attention to her or allowing the weather to do something idiotic like snow for 8-12 inches.  She really knows how to get my goat, because she is well aware of the fact that if all is not right with her I start to panic and pay extra attention to her. She draws the line at being dragged to the vet, but she knows how far she can go so that I've sufficiently learned my lesson.

She's kind of a little asshole.

I'm kind of a big sucker.

And I fall for it every time.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Always Backup

Nothing shocks you out of living in the past than losing all your data.

I hate smart phones.  I'm going to go on the record to say they are the single biggest pain in my ass since the invention of the laptop.  When these stupid things work, they are the greatest thing in the world, and are so convenient.  When they don't work, one is screwed.  Completely screwed.

The other night I texted a few friends, looked up some things online, then powered my phone off and put it on the charger just like I do every night.  The phone was a Samsung Galaxy S4 or 5 or some such nonsense, and for a year and a half, it has been a pretty good phone. It hasn't given me any problems with the exception of the fact that people could not hear me when I talked to them on it.  I had to set everything to speaker so they could hear me. Otherwise, the phone was pretty reliable.

Or so I thought.

When I went to power it on the next morning...dead.  Completely dead.  There was no blinking green light, blue light, or even red light to let me know the thing wasn't charged.  I thought maybe it just failed to charge which has happened in the past. I have a faulty charger, or else I have a faulty outlet.  I'm not sure which. At any rate, I called Verizon customer service and the very amazing lady in tech support managed to figure out that my phone just wasn't charged and helped me get it back up and running.

This time I took it to the Verizon store to see if they could get it working, but alas, even on their charger in their outlet, the phone did not come alive. It was dead. It had performed that lovely Samsung phenomenon known as "sudden death." Those damn Samsungs are known for this, and I've had two do it to me in the past.

So who's the fool, buying another Samsung?

I wasn't worried. I had everything backed up on the Cloud and it was just a matter of buying a new phone and uploading my life back onto the new phone. After all, isn't that what the Cloud is for? To store your life so that when the laptop/smartphone/iPad/device from hell dies or falls in a puddle of water or the dog pukes on it, you still are able to get all of your stuff back.

Well somewhere between the last time I upgraded phones and now, I had either failed to set my phone to back up to the Cloud, or else smart phones are just stupid like I said because everything I had saved in the last year and a half - pictures, videos, notes, new contacts - was gone. And there was no way to retrieve it because none of it was on the Cloud.

Verizon tech support said as much as "You're screwed."

There are two points to this story.  Three, if you count the one that I am smarter than this, I always back up, and I've worked with these devices for so long that there is no excuse for my negligence.  First of all, always back up. Even if your phone is brand new, make sure you back up everything precious to you, either to the Cloud or to your laptop or SOMEWHERE so that you will not end up in the same boat as I am, lamenting the loss of my adorable photos of my pets.  Among those photos were the ones of Percy posing with my Vampire wine bottles; Tess (who never lets me photograph her) playing in the river; Puckett doing some super cute things like lying on her back with her paws in the air, or sitting behind my coffee table, glowering at me with only her eyes and ears showing above the edge; and Percy and Willow playing in boxes and bags.

The other point is you suddenly realize just how much you live in the past when everything that reminded you of the past is gone.  I had pictures of exes, pictures of get-togethers with people who are no longer my friends, pictures of August, and besides all these pictures, the contact information of certain people that didn't get backed up in the upgrade.  Now obviously some things can be recovered because I can always contact people on Facebook and get numbers back.

The contacts and photos of people I no longer see or talk to - people whose photos and contacts I'm hanging onto only for the sake of memory and to revisit sometimes when I get nostalgic - those are gone. And it feels like a door slamming firmly on my past, telling me, "That's it. No more looking backwards. There is only forwards now. There is nothing here tempting you, pulling you back into the past.  You have to move on. All your old texts are gone, all your pictures, all your contacts that you can't get back."

Back in the day when we didn't want the past to creep up on us we started a bonfire with old pictures, letters, and treasures, and we watched it all go up in flames.  In today's day and age, we just forget to back up.  And as I've said before, I know better.  I back everything up. My novels have like four copies backed up on various flash drives. I back up the hard drive of my computer constantly. I store my music on the cloud.  So I wonder. Maybe this was unconsciously intentional.  Were these photographs, texts, contacts holding me back? Losing the memories of my animals is definitely disappointing, but I can still take more pictures of them, and if I arrange my Vampire wine on the kitchen floor Percy will come over and pose beside them.  The animal pictures I can replace. I however seemed to be dragging my feet about moving on and looking into the future. I seem to be stuck in where I am, waxing nostalgic, and missing the past.

Maybe my phone was trying to teach me a lesson. Well, two. One cannot stay in the past, and one should live every day in the present because at any given moment, everything from the past may be eaten away by a faulty phone, a house fire, or whatever.  It's okay to treasure the experiences we've had, but not at the expense of experiences we might still have.  I don't want the best days of my life to be behind me. I want the best days of my life to still be yet to come.

Once again the lesson of living every day in the present becomes painfully obvious. There is a reason why animals - especially dogs - live each moment in the present.  The past doesn't matter to them. They like what's going on now, even if nothing is. They are concerned with the now and not the then, or the what will be. 

I am now the proud owner of an LG something or other, a product that has never let me down and always gives me notice when it is about to start croaking, so that I can back everything up and upgrade in a timely manner. It also has this fun feature where I can change the color of everyone's text bubbles. My text screen is a rainbow of colors (from the few texts I've had come in since this happened). And it has a ridiculous amount of emoticons to use, too many for any one person to use in a lifetime unless that person only spoke in emojis.  There are some things that are different enough from Samsung that will take some getting used to, and I'm not thrilled that the battery runs down so quickly.  For the most part, though, I'm really liking this phone, and it's pretty easy to use.

I still hate smart phones though.

Some new Percy pictures taken with the new phone. Percy always rises to a photo opportunity.
And yes, these have been backed up.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


While perusing the "news" on Yahoo (and I use the term "news" lightly because those people just do not fact-check when they spew out articles; and the majority of their articles lament Kanye West's mental illness and the breakup of Brangelina), I came across this article.

First of all, true to Yahoo standards, there are so many things wrong with this article that I'm going to quote Mary Jo Shively from Designing Women addressing Julia on an article about a dog who won a car at some auto dealer: "You know what amazes me about this article: first of all, that you read it..."

The conversations on Designing Women always make me wish I worked at their design firm until I realized that our conversations at the library aren't much different sometimes, and we have a parade of clowns coming in to boot.

Anyway, back to the article.  It's a very short article with a video from Country Living about a young German shepherd who jumped her fence, got picked up by animal control, and when her family came to the shelter, she thought they were coming to pick her up. Instead they were there to pick out a different dog. The article left out a lot of details and was written with only quotes from a shelter volunteer giving her account and perception of the situation. I was a shelter volunteer, and I was fifteen when I was a shelter volunteer. I tended to exaggerate stories myself at that time.  The article didn't mention if maybe the family had decided the dog wasn't right for them and wanted to rehome her and get a different dog. I can sympathize with that. I rehomed that hellhound I adopted that tried to rip out Tess' throat one afternoon. The article also didn't mention if the shelter actually adopted another dog to this family (and if the family really was just "trading" the dog in for something else then that just makes the shelter look stupid for adopting another dog to them). The reason the dog was surrendered was stated as she was sad and crying since another died and she wasn't the same happy pup. A lot of the article wasn't clear, other than the fact that a dog was abandoned. If the reasoning behind the abandonment really was because she was sad, depressed, and grieving then that truly is despicable.

Tess has been depressed lately and I'm not sure what to do about it. I'm not going to dump her at the animal shelter, though.  I don't know if some of it is just her getting older and slowing down. She definitely sleeps more. She chews more too. She still loves to go for walks, and she will still go all day long if I let her. She runs and plays and sniffs around, but at home she's usually sacked out on the floor.  She doesn't even sit in a corner anymore and watch me cook in the kitchen. Now she just flat out lays down on her side and goes to sleep.  Some of it could also be the weather. It's getting colder so she's inside more and there's not as much to do. When she was younger she loved to be outside in the cold, but now that she's older she'd rather be inside.

I think she's lonely.  Outside she's lonely because she's by herself. At least when she's in the house she has the cats.  In the past three dogs lived next door, one of whom was Tess' very good friend. They used to play and amuse each other through the fence.  Now it's just her out there in the yard with no dogs next door. I think she also misses Surina and California Guy during the week. On the weekends she perks right up and acts like her old self, even if Surina isn't the most playful companion. I wonder if Tess sometimes feels like half her pack is missing during the week. She's an alpha mentality after all and likes to have her whole pack around her.

Depression is an emotion I identify with all too well and I wonder sometimes if Tess isn't feeding off me. Dogs are very sensitive to moods, and shepherds especially are as close to mind readers as a dog can be. She could just be feeling my mood and reacting. Depression is frustrating because many times there is no major reason to be depressed. I have a nice house, a good job, a steady paycheck, four of the craziest most lovable animals in the world, a nice guy with another crazy dog, and good friends. My life is nothing but good things, but I tend to be affected by the general mood of others around me - people just seem sort of pissed off lately - and what goes on online because I spend a lot of time online for my job. There are days when I can't read one more book review because they are just depressing. Sometimes it's depressing because the critics are so mean (and I mean the professional ones AND the everyday reader ones on Amazon, many of whom need to tone down the vitriol), and sometimes it's depressing because I see all these fantastic, wonderful, amazing books come through and I hate myself because I know I don't have half the talent these authors have. Then I get angry when I read some punk ass jerk's nasty review about a certain book and wonder, "Geez, asshole, rip apart someone's project. Have YOU written a novel?"

Like Tess, some of the depression is loneliness.  I'm around people constantly and I have a few good friends, but I keep in touch with them mostly over texting or social media. I miss the days when I used to go out with a huge group of friends and we'd dance and drink and have dinner and just enjoy being with each other. I miss the days when I'd go out in this town and every other person I ran into I'd have a conversation with because we all knew each other. But we get older and tired, and we move on and feel more comfortable staying home, isolating. California Guy is only here on the weekends, and when he is here we tend to isolate ourselves more because no one really wants to hang out or do anything anymore.  Friends have moved on, moved away, or just plain disappeared, and I know how Tess feels, wondering where her buddies next door went.

Depression is ambiguous. It can come on for no reason at all, because there's not enough in one's life or perhaps because there's too much. It can come because of lack of nutrition or lack of exercise. It can come because of ennui or a wish to change one's career without knowing how, or maybe just a realization that things are changing and one can never go back. I miss certain people, certain times, certain feelings, and most importantly certain feelings certain people gave me. And I miss the innocence and naivete that comes with youth. Wisdom is a good thing, but sometimes too much knowledge can cloud one's mood and overall enjoyment of life.  We know too much. We have too many experiences that are bad. We've been there, done that, and we are tired.  We are tired of rejection, of having our hearts broken, of failing, of watching our loved ones fail or have their hearts broken.  I believe the reason some people keep living in the past because they can't let go of it is that they were less cynical and more innocent. The past is also where my dog was young and vibrant and energetic. The past is where I've had some of my best times.  The future is just full of uncertainties. When we were younger it was full of possibilities and thus we still felt excited at the prospect of it. It was easier to look forward.

Cesar Milan says dogs live in the moment. They don't worry about the past and they aren't worrying what's going to happen next. They just seem to content to stay in the moment of their lives, living each day one at a time. True, Tess misses her friends and this might impact her mood, but it sure doesn't seem to keep her down when something interesting is presented before her like a new bone, a run through the snow, a puppy to play with, a doggie pop. Tess might have her depressed moments, but she still enjoys moments of experiences that bring her joy.

I still do too, but maybe not as much as I used to. I may complain about not going out as much anymore, drinking with my friends and dancing, but part of that is my own fault. I'm just not as spry anymore, and I get tired at ten o'clock now. I can blame age and weight gain, but honestly, Tess doesn't let that stop her from still enjoying her favorite moments.  Now it's just a matter of being grateful in each moment and finding joy in the small things, like my dog does. Maybe I do get tired at ten, but that doesn't mean I can't go out at seven and still have a good time for three hours. Maybe as we get older it's time to aim smaller.  Stop expecting so much of ourselves and stop taking every failure so personally.  Depression is hard to battle, but it can be done.

And on the days when it's too overwhelming, maybe we just have an extra piece of chocolate cake, an extra glass of wine, and stay home from work for a mental health day. Give ourselves a break. One of my favorite things to do is still take my dog on a run along the river. It makes her happy and watching her be happy makes me happy.

After all, my life isn't so bad. I'm still laughing, I'm still enjoying certain people and certain experiences, and there is still chocolate.

However, that trip to Hawaii won't hurt.

I just wish I could take my dog, too and realize that recurring dream I have of us swimming in the ocean together, and running along the beach. There are still some happy dreams to be realized, and there is still the hope that they will be realized.