Thursday, September 29, 2016

Why Can’t I FOCUS These Days??

I’m looking around my house and wondering why I can’t seem to find the time to empty the dishwasher. Or water the plants. Or clear off the dining room table of various and sundry items – including, embarrassingly enough, the route directions to Hilton Head. I mean, we’ve been home for a whole eighteen days now and there is simply no excuse for leaving something like that lying around!

I don’t handle well piles of stuff lying around my house – and, believe me, there have been nothing BUT piles of stuff lying around my house since the beginning of the summer.  I get a headache just thinking about them.

So with all this chaos swirling about me, it’s no wonder I haven’t been able to write a blog – let alone finish one.

While it’s true I have more on my mind these days, including making sure mom is okay in her memory care unit apartment and taking time to visit her as often as possible (especially while she still knows me), I cannot believe that alone is sufficient enough reason to allow my Philodendron to die of thirst.

And then today it suddenly occurred to me why I can’t seem to focus. Or at least one of the big reasons.

And, yes, her name would be Maggie Minx. 

You see, I sit down to work on some simple task, let’s say writing out my grocery list. But before I can finish writing the word “succotash,” Maggie has sunk her teeth into my leather boot and has dragged it off to the living room for a tasty mid-morning snack.

NOT my actual boot! Well, not the one she took today anyway.
So since this boot is not meant to have little perforations all over it, I jump up to retrieve it. I wrestle it away from Ms. Maggie and place it up on the counter on top of a catalog (that I have gotten around to neither perusing nor recycling). While I am doing this, Maggie has snatched my other boot. 

(Oh, and by the way, I’m just kidding about the succotash. That word has never appeared on any grocery list of mine!)

But, anyway, when I finally have both boots safely stowed out of her reach and I sit down to continue my list, I hear frantic barking coming from the living room. This means that Maggie is possibly warning me that a nefarious bandit is about to penetrate our fortress, bash me over the head with one of my leather boots conveniently stashed on the counter and make off with all our Milk Bone doggie treats. Either that – or she has seen a leaf blowing in the wind.  Same reaction.

While I don’t automatically jump up to check on her (and make sure that the side door is locked), I do have a bit of a tough time concentrating on my list what with all that canine cacophony going on.

I briefly consider adding “ear plugs” to the list. And then I grit my teeth and soldier on.

But I can’t blame everything on Maggie. I think I’ve developed a late stage case of ADHD. Suddenly, I can’t finish one task before I start working on something else leaving the first job woefully incomplete. Like this blog, for instance.

I was writing away and in the midst of the bit about the boots, I got diverted and suddenly started going through a stack of papers on the desk. Picked up an envelope with my new Visa debit card and had to go online to activate the card. But before I could finish activating it, I had to go through my purse to find my old debit card so I’d remember to shred it. But in digging through my purse, I realized how cluttered it had gotten, so I started weeding out the used Kleenex, expired coupons and movie ticket stubs that were littering the bottom of my purse.

When I FINALLY remembered I was looking for my wallet to get my old debit card, my online bank session had expired due to inactivity, so I had to log back on again.


When did I become so utterly unfocused??

I think it’s because I have way more than just me to deal with these days.  Oh sure, I have had Vince and the cats to take care of for a while now (and I’m sure there was a learning curve when they all entered my life, too – I just don’t remember it now).  I have also added in having my mom nearby who requires frequent visits. Not to mention taking care of a rambunctious puppy who needs to be walked on a regular and frequent basis or else she’ll leave a deposit on the floor to remind me that it’s not all about the grocery lists or the blog these days.

And I just started back at work, too.

Now, believe me, I know there are people out there who are thinking, boy, your life is so easy compared to mine! And, no doubt, they would probably be right.

Not our actual barking Yorkie.
But I just don’t know how to deal with starting a load of laundry and, before I get the last towel in the washing machine, I hear urgent yipping from the Magster indicating she HAS TO GO OUTSIDE RIGHT NOW!!! 

So I drop the towel back in the basket, retrieve my boots from the counter (after spending a minute frantically searching for them in the bedroom) and then I attach her leash and rush her out the door. If I’m lucky, she’ll actually go potty, but more often than not, she was just bored and needed a little sniff session in the great outdoors. Or she wanted to see if any of her neighborhood doggie pals were out and about.  This dog has a bigger social life than we do.

If I’m lucky, I’ll come back in and remember that I was in the middle of doing a load of laundry. More than likely, though, I’ll have picked up our mail and will start weeding through the junk, as well as the mountain of paperwork Medicare sends my mother on a seemingly weekly basis.  That will remind me that I need to pay my mother’s care bill for the month and then…
…well, you get the gist.  It’s not hard to see how my formerly organized brain has lost focus.

I feel like if I just sit down and make a list…  Yeah, sure.  My lists have given birth to little baby lists these days. I wake up in the middle of the night mentally adding things to my lists, which never seem to make it to actual paper the next day.

So I think I just need to focus on one thing at a time. Work through that thing – and move on to the next.  Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But, yeah. That’s what I need to do.

But first I need to take Maggie Minx to Doggie Day Care. And then maybe I’ll finally get that load of laundry done. We’re outta clean towels.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Oh Shih Tzu...So THIS is What Dog Walking is Supposed to be Like!

Last week a friend and neighbor went on vacation and asked me to walk her two adorable shih tzus a couple times while she was gone. She had a whole crew of friends and neighbors willing to help her out - and I had taken care of her cat once - but this was my first experience with her dogs.

This is a person who has come to my rescue many times in the past several months - taking care of Maggie when I was at my dad's hospital bedside or checking on my cats while we were out of town. She even - along with another neighbor and friend - drove to Alliance with me to help clean out my parents' home to get it ready to put on the market.

And, when I was a brand new puppy-mommy earlier this year, she helped save my sanity a time or two by volunteering to puppy sit Maggie lest I lose my new puppy-mommy mind. 

So there was no question that I'd help out.  

The only real question was whether I could handle walking two dogs at the same time. I mean, walking Maggie takes 100% of my effort and concentration as the eight pound little stinker nearly pulls my arm out of its socket racing from one side of the sidewalk to the other. She scrambles into bushes sniffing like a professional bloodhound seeking a lost toddler. Mostly she's looking for squirrels to intimidate and terrify with her ferocious barking. And if she encounters a dog she doesn't know? Fuggetaboutit. Killer-Dog-Maggie emerges to "save" the day.

So when I entered Suzy's house for my first double dog walking session, I wasn't sure what to expect. I thought I'd find two frantic dogs desperately seeking the nearest fire hydrant. 

Instead, I found two calm little angels who greeted me and let me pet them without yipping and hyperactively jumping three feet in the air to catch my attention. As if that were necessary.

When I called them over to me so I could put on their collars and leashes, they...well, I don't know any other way to put it, but...they came over to me. Oh, sure, maybe this doesn't sound like a big deal to you, but it's an experience I've never had with Maggie Minx. Getting the leash on that dog is like a major battle of wills. You'd think because I'm bigger and stronger, it wouldn't really be much of a competition - but you'd be wrong, kemosabe.

So once Chai and Cruiser were properly outfitted and I had several trusty poo bags stashed in my pocket, off we went.

And let me just say, it was a completely different experience. I mean, these dogs actually walked. They didn't pull and tug and run willy-nilly to and fro. The biggest effort I made was occasionally switching the leash handles as they traded sides.

Sure, they sniffed and poked at leaves and left doggie pee-mail like regular dogs...but walking them didn't require a death grip on their leashes in case they discovered a squirrel that needed to be taught a lesson.

After about 10 minutes of Maggie Minx walking, my  hand has usually cramped into a claw-like configuration and I'm ready to go home so I can apply a tub of Icy-Hot to my sore joints.

So imagine my surprise when I looked at my watch and realized I'd been out with Chai and Cruiser for a good 25 minutes without so much as a twinge of pain in my knee or a nasty reminder from my bursitis-riddled shoulder.

It was then that I marveled, so THIS is what dog walking is supposed to be like!

Who knew?

The biggest mistake I made was putting Chai's harness on wrong. I fretted about it for the first few minutes of our walk once I realized she could potentially escape. But this brief experience with actual calm dogs gave me the courage to remove her harness completely without worrying that she'd immediately bolt. I then hooked the leash directly onto her collar. I figured if she hadn't pulled on the leash up to this point, I wasn't in any danger of choking her. Trying this with Maggie would be akin to tying a noose around her neck and stringing her up - not something I have ever considered doing even in those new puppy-mommy moments of madness.

The only tense moment of the entire walk occurred when we spotted a young couple walking their black lab. Maggie doesn't do well with (a) big dogs and (b) big dogs who are strangers. She loses her ever-lovin' doggy mind and we immediately beat a hasty retreat because I cannot take her eardrum-shattering barks.

(And, yes, if we know the dog in question, we've tried putting them together to get to know each other. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't. The Magster is apparently very particular about her doggie friends.)

Instead, Chai and Cruiser looked calmly at the couple and their dog - and then went back to sniffing at leaves and leaving pee-mail. They didn't utter a yip or a growl. No warning barks. No crazed puppy eyes.

I was astounded. And thrilled. I didn't have to pick them up and run for the hills to avoid a Doggie Apocalypse. 

Instead, we calmly continued on our way and arrived back at their home at a leisurely pace. 

I calmly removed their harnesses, collars, leashes and other paraphernalia necessary for a good doggie walk. Their unused poo bags went back in the poo bag holder and I calmly gave them (and the cat - with whom they get along most of the time – an anomaly in Maggie's World) a couple more affectionate pats before calmly setting the alarm and calmly locking the door and heading home.


(As you have probably gathered by now.)

My blood pressure and pulse were surprisingly normal, I didn't have sweat dripping down my forehead and into my eyes from dragging any hysterical dogs away from other dogs, runners, walkers, bike riders, or blowing leaves that look suspiciously like a moving target that needs to be eliminated.

When I got home - and just before the wrangling started to get Maggie's leash attached - I immediately called the dog trainer. 

We clearly have some serious work ahead of us.