The Unthinkable

Yesterday our large very sweet and mild mannered foster dog who was on psychiatric meds for anxiety and whose background was a void bigger and blacker than she was attacked my senior smaller dog and tried to kill her.

I intervened every single way I knew how. Over and over. The sweet lovable foster dog was unstoppable. She lunged under and around my body as I tried to form a human shield, when all else failed.

I have stopped many dog fights. This was nothing like that. I’ve never seen anything like it. A switch had flipped and she could not hear me, see me, or stop.

I screamed and screamed – as loud as I could, not caring who I woke – for help. Nobody came.

Eventually I threw myself over my senior dog, leaving only enough space to avoid crushing her and elbowing the big dog in the face. My old girl bit me, not knowing it was me, fighting as she was for her life.

I got off easy. I have a number of wounds (a foot, a hand) but no stitches and a prescription for antibiotics that should prevent any further physical harm befalling me.

My senior dog needed emergency surgery we cannot afford. I charged and borrowed to do it anyway as the vets had stabilized her and things looked promising if only she could have and recover from the surgery. Then she didn’t. She’s now on life support. I don’t know if she will live.

Other volunteers with the rescue have chipped in, their kindness precipitating more tears.

I’m having trouble living. Breathing. Eating. Sleeping. The lump in my throat is hard and sharp, my nerves jagged and jarred into action every time my phone rings.

Please don’t let it be the vet. Please don’t let it be more bad news.

Everything I thought I knew is in question. I am in question.

The grief is undulating though never softer in pitch than the roar of a stormy sea. I feel… I don’t even know anymore.

I feel at fault.

And here’s the thing. I did – nay, we did (the rescue, professional trainers, vets, vet techs) – everything, literally everything, to avoid this, never anticipating it could happen, this attack, unprovoked, nonsensical. Not by this dog. Unthinkable.

The day before this happened these two dogs were chumming on the couch together. I took a picture as the big dog gave up room so the senior could be comfortable.

I never saw this coming.

And I could not – despite it all – make her stop.

It is hard to keep breathing.



Today I left my home

In a car that isn’t mine

Or driven by me

And don’t know if or why

I will come back.

Autism spectrum?

Today I took my beloved Azulito to his paediatrician and received a referral for an autism spectrum disorder assessment.

The palpable judgement from other parents in the room whose kids were capable of sitting and waiting quietly was soul crushing as he struggled through a vast array of “symptoms”.

The wait is 6 to 9 months to even walk in the door.

I love this child. So much.

I haven’t cried like this or felt so shattered in a long time.

This chapter in life is tough. And very lonely.


Gosh. I am so sorry for not writing. Ever.

Life has been busy. So busy. I’m parenting my crazy boys, fostering rescue dogs and working full time. The sleep deficit is at an all time high (low?).

But that’s not what brings me here.

I am stricken with an irrepressible urge to cry. A big ugly tear stained face and puffy eyes style cry.

I just ran into a colleague who has been off work for more than a year after being diagnosed suddenly with advanced and aggressive cancer.

I wanted so much to say “you look great”. I couldn’t. I wanted to cry. She looks and sounds like death. It took my breath away. Tears filled my eyes, my heart leapt to my throat, I could barely choke out “how are you?” Seems such an idiotic thing to ask. But it fell out of my mouth before I could shut the damned thing.

I walked back to my office to regroup and sort out the flood of feelings. I had this overwhelming sense of sadness. I felt afraid for my colleague. I missed my Mom. I felt ashamed of my shock and feeble question. Most of all I wanted (and still want) to cry.

Gosh. I hate this merciless disease.

Rescue Me, Rescue Her

I did it. I hemmed and hawed for ages. Then I submitted an application with Boxer Rescue. I followed the story of a three year old Boxer whose issues looked daunting, despite being almost entirely training-based. 

The LP objected. He relented eventually and said to do what I wanted. 

So I did. Yesterday I drove three and a half hours to pick up that wild child. And over three hours back home with her. 
I slept on the hardwood floor (in a sleeping bag built for a 5 year old) beside her xpen last night so she would settle. Ouch. She stopped crying and barking and stayed put. 

This dog needs work. A lot of work. She nips and jumps. High. She is very strong and huge for a female. She wants to play and play and play and believes (I think) it’s all harmless as nobody ever taught her four on the floor. At all times. 

I wanted to cry last night, asking myself what the heck I was thinking when I signed up for this. Then while I was trying to work from home (for her and our smaller, senior dog) earlier today she showed me that she can be very gentle and sweet. And afraid. She doesn’t want to be left alone. Who can blame her? This is pit stop number 3 for her in the past 2 months. Anxiety or an aversion to separation was to be expected. 

We have the dog on a “shutdown” of at least 2 weeks to ease her into our lives and to allow our resident dog to get acclimatized and reassured of her importance at the same time. I can’t take the rescue on leash walks outside our home/yard yet and she has to be in the xpen or leashes with me at all times (or in a crate but I haven’t yet decided if I am going to buy a crate, though she is allegedly crate trained). She broke down her xpen and figured out how to unlatch the gate on our fence (smart! scary!) already this morning so we aren’t off to the greatest start.
I have asked myself along the way why this dog and this business of taking in a new rescue called to me. Sure I want to help a dog in need. But it isn’t just that. This is about me too. My last rescue Boxer taught me so much – better said, we schooled each other notwithstanding our (my) countless mistakes. 

Rescuing this dog is also about reclaiming some part of me that feels lost or missing. I haven’t found the words yet to name that piece but I feel it in my bones. For one thing I have a deep need to take up space and time in my own life for me and my passions.  I’ve gone back to running. When it became clear our senior small dog is not able to manage longer runs anymor, another Boxer as my running companion seemed a natural next step. I also felt and feel strongly that I want my boys to learn about rescue animals and perseverance and the rewards of both. 

Am I in over my head? 

Probably. At least for the immediately foreseeable future. 

That thought struck me like an anvil yesterday as I prepared for the drive to pick  her up. It returned last night and early this morning. Then something shifted and hope returned. 

Need I remind myself my last rescue Boxer had never been socialized, was a wild thing with coprophagia (ew – look it up!), was severely malnourished and neglected and suffered from terrible separation anxiety for years? And that despite all odds she turned into an incredibly balanced and relaxed friend who spent 13 years with me?

Yep. That thought keeps my feet on the ground and hope in my heart. Never mind the tooth marks and scratches or the dog hair all over the place. I’m going to give this neglected girl my best. And see what happens. 

Stay tuned. And wish me luck. Please. 

A-ha Moment #47

Who knew that symptoms of an anaphylaxis response can include uterine (and bladder) cramping?

Not me. Until yesterday.

I’m still suffering through subcutaneous allergen immunotherapy (4 of my 6 worst allergens, the 5th and 6th aren’t effectively treatable by subcutaneous immunotherapy or there are no serums available to do the job plus the more you dilute the components by adding in additional serums, the less effective the therapy is likely to be). I’m still getting weekly injections and my local Immunotherapist has slowed the progression with each of the 3 vials that form my treatment protocol to get to a “maintenance” dose.

I’m nowhere near maintenance dosing yet. Progress has been very slow, with deliberation, to avoid anaphylaxis as I’ve had what my Immunologist describes as the most severe local reactions she’s ever seen in a patient (and she worked in a hospital treatment program for very severe allergy treatment/control for years overseas – so I guess I’m extra special in that respect – boo!).

Yesterday I was fine immediately after the shot. I have to wait in the office 30-60 minutes (we’ve been back down to 30 lately though I am wondering if Doc will change that after this week?). Throughout the wait I have to ice the injection site. I also have to drug before and an hour and a half after the injection to reduce the severity of my reaction. I did both.

Within an hour after leaving Doc’s office, I had these crazy uterine cramps – bad cramps! – and was thinking I might be getting the monthly visit early. Nope. My nose began to run. My throat started swelling and I began coughing. And coughing. And coughing. It was harder to breathe and I wasn’t doing anything strenuous. I took my asthma control medication and the second drug to reduce reaction. And I wondered whether I should take myself to the hospital or call my Immunologist.

I did neither, but I did take medication and call the LP and tell him what was happening. He agreed to meet me, we had some lunch (sometimes food can calm my reactions, especially warm food). I had a small bowl of vegan soup. The throat swelling and coughing began to subside. I started sneezing and the runny nose continued and my arm had swollen up like a football, but no more “systemic” (anaphylaxis) symptoms. I packed in the worry and went back to work.

I can’t say my focus was sharp for the rest of the day, but I hung in there. Last night I couldn’t sleep and did some reading about symptoms of anaphylaxis in case there were others than the ones I’ve had before (throat swelling, difficulty swallowing, trouble breathing, chest tightness).

That’s when I discovered that those crazy cramps could have been part of my body’s response to being routinely poisoned weekly in the hope of calming my overactive immune system.  Who would have thought?

I will mention all of this to my Immunologist next week of course (even though I fear it means she’ll keep me the 60 minutes again from now on), and see what she says, but in the meantime I wanted to share here in case anyone else is prone to allergic reactions and has cramps along with other symptoms – it can be an early warning sign of an anaphylaxis reaction and a cue to get medical help if you don’t carry an epipen (I do) or work very near a hospital like me. (Also apparently I like to play fast and loose with my health – gah.)

PSA over.

Now back to our very irregularly [un]scheduled programming.

I miss ya’ll. Been busy with kidlets, work and getting back to some self care (I’m running and I did almost no work while on vacation recently – unheard of!). Ta da!





Parenting is hard

Trite. I know.

But it’s true. And isn’t truth the bedrock of all things trite?

I have never been more humbled by my failings, my oversights, my impatience, my every imperfection than I am as a parent.

Being a litigation lawyer with very demanding and difficult clients, weasel-like opposing lawyers and fallible adjudicators is easier than being a mom.

Hands down. Any day of the week.

And therein lies the beauty and the rub of this exquisitely challenging and amazing role.

That is all.