My Little Staycation

My hubby has been gone overseas for over a week, and he will return home on Wednesday evening, barring no issues with any of the four flights he will have in a 24-hour period that day.  While I am used to his frequent travels, he is typically not gone over one weekend, much less two weekends in a row.  So, I am ready for him to be home once again, for sure.  I think he is more than ready to be home as well, especially to eat what he describes as “real food” with “real eating utensils” again.

So far, though, it has mostly been a good time here at home for me.  My goals for this time were to get a few chores done around the house and in the yard, while enjoying some quality reading time, watching some of my favorite movies, spending more time with friends and family, and just giving myself a little “staycation” break of sorts.  It has been a productive time as far as the chores, and I am feeling quite good about what I have accomplished.  It has also been a fun time of dining and visiting with some good friends, my mom and my son.  I really am blessed in so many ways, and I have truly enjoyed their company over the past week, spending a day with company followed by a day to myself each day last week.

I also splurged just a bit and bought my first tablet.  It is actually a smaller, older model tablet, a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 with an 8″ screen, and it is just perfect to use while around the house, as it is very easy to hold in one hand while I’m sitting in my comfy chair.  Our Costco had a large display of them for only $199, and they are all new, not refurbished units.  That is a great price for a tablet, to be sure. Even though this tablet was preloaded with an earlier Android version, it quickly updated to Android 4.4.2 – Kit Kat, which was nice to see. FYI – I cannot find this unit on Costco’s website for sale, so it is likely only found in stores now.  I did find them for sale on Target’s website for $219.99.

Before I bought this tablet, I did just a bit of research online, including reading a comparison of the Galaxy Tab 3 to a comparable version of the iPad Mini.  While the review is from June 2013, I found it to be a good comparison of the two units.  Comparison of Galaxy Tab 3 to iPad Mini – Gizmag  Neither of these units are the most recent versions in their line, but I did not want to pay $400 or more for one either.  Finding the Galaxy Tab 3 brand new in the box was a great find, especially for only $199.  In fact, I’m tempted to buy another one for hubby for his birthday in October.  I especially like the fact that the Galaxy Tab 3 has a slot to expand memory with a Micro SD card, which I also bought at Costco for only $47.  The iPad Mini did not have a slot to expand its memory, which is a big negative in my book, for sure, and one of the main reasons we have not purchased any iPads to date.

Having this 8″ tablet at home is a perfect solution for most of my daily internet and computing needs, and I can now leave the laptop turned off most of the time, except for the times when I need to use it for typing or to work on photographs.  I am so frustrated with my laptop right now, and having this tablet will be a huge blessing for me.  It’s time to either upgrade my laptop, wipe it clean, or just resign to only use it when absolutely necessary.  For now, I am selecting option three.

Of course, something “challenging” always seems to happen when my hubby is gone for a long period of time, too, and last week was no exception.

On Friday, I took both of the dogs to the grooming shop that we have used for over twenty consecutive years.  Over the past few months, however, we have not been pleased with the job they have done on our dogs, especially when one particular girl works on them.  She is fairly new, though, and I have tried to give her the opportunity to improve, talking with her each time I take the dogs in to let her know exactly what our expectations are.  However, this time was much worse, as she cut our puppy on his stomach area pretty badly, and no one informed me of the cut when I picked him up.  It was well hidden on the inside of his leg, and I did not see it until the following afternoon when I was petting him while he rolled over on his back.  The cut was surprisingly large and looked quite bad.

I rushed Red to the emergency clinic for animals on Saturday, and he ended up getting five stitches.  I had to leave him there for a few hours, so after I left, I drove straight to the grooming shop to discuss this matter with the owner.  The owner immediately admitted fault and said that even she knew about the cut.  The owner had apparently told the other girl to inform me of it when I picked up the dogs, which she did not do, and the owner gave me a check to cover the full medical bill before I left.  I’m glad that she did not attempt to argue this matter with me, as I really like her so much.  After all, I have known her for over twenty years.

Despite my personal feelings for the shop owner, I suspect we will now change grooming shops in September.  I have the name of a lady that our vet recommends for this breed, so I guess we will give her a try.  It will break my heart in some ways, especially after doing business with the other shop for over twenty years, but I think it is a move that must be done now.  The owner could have simply picked up the phone and called me right away when she saw the cut for herself, and I could have taken Red to our regular vet on Friday afternoon before they closed for the weekend.  She did not call me, and that is the reason we will now switch groomers.  It was a poor and disappointing decision on her part.

Except for this incident, my little “staycation” has been a good one.  With three more days left until my hubby returns, I will hopefully get a few more little chores done and a few more good movies watched, all while keeping a watchful eye on Red and his injury.

Red will have to wear this awful contraption for the next ten days, when I can finally take him back to get the stitches out.  Poor little guy. 😦

Red wearing his "Cone of Shame"
Red wearing his “Cone of Shame”

 

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Little Red

We have a new four-legged family member!

Little Red
Little Red

On Saturday morning, we picked up our new puppy, and I am already in love with him.  Little Red is so nicknamed because he is an 8.6 lb red standard poodle puppy.  He is our third standard poodle and our fourth poodle, as we began our life with poodles back in the 80’s with a miniature apricot-colored poodle when our kids were small.  Our first standard was Big Ol’ Baby, apricot-colored, who passed away back in October after being a beloved family member for 15 years, and our second standard poodle is Girly Girl, who is now 2 1/2 and is light brown, almost a taupe color.  Color is not that important to us, but we think it will be neat to have a red dog for the first time.  Red is a relatively new color for this breed, and his parents were both gorgeous.

Over the course of our married years, we have also fostered a few dogs that have lived with us for shorter periods of time, and all were strays that we took in until we found good homes for them.  The most recent foster was Charlie, a sweet and feisty beagle who hit the jackpot as far as a permanent home a few years ago.  I actually fell in love with him and wanted to keep him, but when a good home with some people that we knew personally came open, we decided to let him go to them and get Girly Girl.  This couple was absolutely devastated after losing their long-time pet, and Charlie has been living like a king with them ever since.  It was a good decision, and we still enjoy getting pictures of him from time to time.

Little Red passed his puppy check with flying colors, and right away, he started doing his business out in the backyard regularly.  It seems that the breeder has already done some work with the puppies, as this is the easiest puppy transition we’ve ever had, at least so far.  Little Red had a rough night of separation anxiety on his first night on Saturday night, but last night was a completely different story, as he slept from 10:30 pm to 6:00 am in his crate without an accident.  He also has no fear of Girly Girl, and she has been good to play with him gently most of the time, with only a few reminders from us to “be easy” on occasion.  It’s so good to see her back to her level of play that she had before we lost Big Ol’ Baby, and I’m sure these two will enjoy many fun times together over the years.

We will be keeping Little Red at home and inside as much as possible until mid-March when he completes his final round of shots.  Both the breeder and our vet insist on doing this to hopefully avoid any unnecessary sickness, especially Parvo, which is deadly and, unfortunately, is very prevalent right now.  This means no weekend RV trips for a while for us, but this time frame actually works well for us, since hubby is out of vacation days until the first week of March anyway.  Girly Girl has grown up going with us in the RV, since we purchased our motor home shortly after she came to live with us.  She loves going camping, and I’m sure Little Red will love it just as much, too.  I’ve never met a kid or a dog that didn’t love to go camping, and having the RV makes it easy to bring the dogs along for the fun.

No doubt, Little Red will likely be nicknamed Big Red in a few short months, as he should be about six to eight inches taller than Girly Girl at the shoulders and the largest dog we have ever owned.  I’m not going to wish away these puppy days, though.  For people like us that have large dogs, the privilege of just being able to hold a dog in your lap for a few short weeks is a very special time, for sure.  Little Red likes to cuddle in the evenings just before bedtime, and I’m going to definitely take advantage of that as long as possible.

I’m very grateful today for the blessing of a new puppy, as well as the special love of so many wonderful dogs over the years.  I highly recommend sharing the love of a dog (or two) in your life.

Edit: WordPress informed me that this is also my 100th blog post.  How fun is that! 😉

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Saying Goodbye

To Our Big Ol’ Baby
5/1/1998 – 10/14/2013

(originally written on 10/14/2013)

 Pierre

The day that I have dreaded for 15 years came and went today.  We said our goodbyes through our mutual tears.  Yes, I saw the tear that you shed as you looked at me while you laid on your bed in front of the fireplace, unable to move anything but your sweet head.  It moved me so much to wipe that tear away from your face, and I hope you saw how much I loved you in that special moment.  I have cried buckets of tears since leaving you at the vet this morning.

The stroke finally took away your ability to move on Sunday evening, but as always, you followed us with your eyes and your heart until we gave you back to God shortly after 9 am this morning in the hands of the doctors that have kept you healthy for us for so many wonderful years.  I count it a privilege to have been with you, looking into your sweet, soulful eyes as you finally drifted off to sleep and as your heart finally quit beating about a minute later.  While it tore me up to watch you slip away, it also helped me to see your pain and distress leave you as well.  For that small blessing in the midst of my grief, I am grateful.

You are as much a part of our family as any person has ever been, and I have loved you just as much as any human being I’ve ever loved.  Looking back through pictures of you with our family and friends over the years today kept me in tears, both happy and sad.  You were there when our little family was whole, and you remained behind as both kids moved on.  You have helped me so much through my empty nest period, and I just don’t know how I will go on and be happy without your sweetness and companionship in my life every day.  You were always there for me, ready for a big hug, and you have been my constant daily companion.  You were our first big dog, and you were our first big-hearted four-legged love.  I am going to try very hard to remember your example of unconditional love every single day, too.  I’ve never met a being, either dog or human, that showed this kind of love so consistently.  No doubt, God gave you to us as an example of His perfect love, so that we could witness it for ourselves and know it is possible.

The memories are so rich and full in this house and in my heart.  I will no doubt spend days and weeks in memory with you, but one day, I know my heart will eventually be able to move on just a bit while keeping you in a safe place to comfort me when I need a fuzzy hug from you once again.

I thank you for taking Girly Girl under your “wing” two years ago to show her some of the ropes around the house.  She is still just a kid, but with your guidance, she is learning how to love already.  I know a lot of that came from you showing her how to love us, and I will do my best to continue to work with her on learning how to love and trust, as she came from a home that apparently didn’t show that kind of love to her before she came to live with us.

Right after you had the stroke and could no longer walk yesterday, it started raining and continued to rain for hours.  This morning, when my husband loaded you in the back seat of my car and we took you to the vet, it seemed that the cloudy sky was still so very sad, even though the rain had mostly quit.  The dreary clouds have hung in there with no breaks today, and I know that is probably contributing to my overall sadness right now.  The first real cold front is moving though, and the leaves are just beginning to change.  The plants in the garden are dying off, and it’s time to finish picking the garden this week before the first freeze.  Between the rain, the clouds, the evidence all around that nature is preparing to hibernate for a few months very soon, it seemed that God spoke to my heart that his creation is perfect and that your passing was just as it should be right now, at this time.  It was your time.

I am absolutely heartbroken over losing you today.  I think you may be, too, as it always seemed that you took your job so seriously to love us and always be right with us.  We will be fine, but we will always have an empty place in our hearts where you have been.

Please save me a spot in Heaven close to you.  I cannot wait to give you a real hug once again and take another long walk with you at my side.  You will always be my Big Ol’ Baby, and I will love you forever.

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