Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBTQ+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Tag: Dogs

Patience and My Parent II

Well, it’s been about a year since my post regarding me exercising more patience with my mom, and I’d like to share my experience with it. To recap, back in December 2014, I complained to Mom that I didn’t want to hear about what shows or movies she was watching on Netflix, but about her and she snapped at me during a December visit that “This is me!” I posted about this visit and the changes I’d subsequently made in my February 10 post entitled Patience and My Parent.

So, for the last year, I’ve exercised patience when dealing with Mom, and I’ve reaped benefits from it. The biggest one is that nearly all our conversations this year have been enjoyable for me. Even, surprisingly, the political discussions (for the most part). I’ve also learned to speak up when our topic starts to make me edgy or angry or upset and ask for a change of subject, which Mom has always been happy to agree to. Previously, it was all I could do to convince myself to chat with her only once or twice a week, and frequently, those chats were half an hour or shorter, and I almost always ended them feeling stressed and in desperate need of calming down. Since beginning with exercising patience with Mom, my stress level with these chats has gone down, and the calls have lengthened and become frequent enough I’m calling Mom at least once almost every day, and frequently spending at least an hour on the phone with her over the duration of at least one of those calls.

Something I wasn’t expecting to help so much with my stress level is asking Mom to change topics. I spent the first part of the year afraid to ask for topic changes, but when things started to get heated about politics back in October, I gently interrupted Mom and asked if we could change subjects. Mom didn’t even pause to ask why I wanted to do this; I think she recognized that it was upsetting me. She promptly started in on another topic and our conversation continued as if we hadn’t just broken off an intense subject, and I was able to calm down and enjoy the remainder of the chat. Since then, I’ve been much more willing to ask for a topic-change if I feel myself getting uptight or angry or frustrated with a particular subject we’re discussing, and Mom has, every time been willing to change the topic without question.

Something that helped a great deal with our discussions was hooking Mom up with Bryce’s dog in April. I recognized after Poopie’s (her previous dog) death in November 2014, that Mom had slipped into depression. She wasn’t getting out of the house very often, and had fallen into vegetating in front of the TV. I think I was understandably concerned for her. I wrote about this in my 21 April 2015 post, My Mom + Bryce’s Dog. This introduction started off rocky; the dog, whom Mom renamed Mei Ling, had not been properly socialized because she’d been a shelter dog most of her life, and Bryce had little energy for taking her out to be with other dogs. Mei Ling is a stubborn, vocal, excitable dog, and Mom had never had such a dog before, so she spent the first two or three months struggling to introduce some discipline into Mei Ling’s life. It was very difficult for Mom, who at first didn’t understand Mei Ling, but they got through it. Mei Ling’s been living with Mom just over 8 months now and they’re both happy, healthy, and attached to each other.

So Mom and I are getting along much better these days. I’m enjoying my chats with her, and I’m sure she appreciates me calling her so frequently. This really is the better way to do things, and I’m glad Mom and I had that brief discussion back in December 2014 that led me to making this decision to be more patient with her.

My Mom + Bryce’s Dog

I spent about two and a half hours on the phone this afternoon on phone calls to my mom and to a friend I met via Bryce. Anita and I have been keeping in contact since his death, and hang out together every so often, and today she brought up the subject of Bryce’s dog Candy. Bryce’s mom has been looking for someone to take Candy in. One prospect got another dog for herself before Bryce’s mom could suggest she take Candy, and another prospect is someone she has no connection with whatsoever; the friend of a groomer she knows, and she feels uncomfortable passing Bryce’s beloved pet off to someone she has no knowledge of.

Mom’s much-beloved dog Poopie died in November of last year. While she’s growing accustomed to being alone, Mom dislikes it. She’s always had someone to care for, whether it be her children or her pets, and I know she’s been missing the companionship of having a dog. Mom’s considered getting a cat, but she’s very much a dog person these days, and I know she’d be happiest with a dog. Though she’s looked online at shelter dogs, the fees charged for adopting a pet have turned her off—she’s not desperate for a dog, but she has been considering adopting one.

When Anita brought up to me the fact Bryce’s mother was looking for a good home for his dog, I tentatively suggested my mom might be a good candidate. I was a good friend of Bryce’s, his mother can get my mother’s pet-care history from me, and she wants to have a way of hearing how Candy’s doing, which I’ll be more than happy to provide.

As things stand, they’re still up in the air. Last I heard from Anita today was that Bryce’s mom would talk to her husband about passing Candy on to Mom. Anita’s fairly certain things will go through. Mom, though willing to take Candy in, isn’t counting her eggs; she’s given it to God and told me that if it’s meant to be, it’ll happen, and she’ll accept whatever decision Bryce’s mom makes.

Overall, it’s been an enjoyable afternoon. I think Mom’s readier for another dog than she believes she is, and I think Bryce’s mom is ready to let her go. I do know that Mom told me she couldn’t bear the thought of Bryce’s beloved pet being given to a shelter again (he adopted Candy from one), and I’m fairly certain Bryce’s mom will appreciate knowing Candy’s gone to someone who adores dogs. It’s fitting, I think, that if Bryce’s mom decides to give Candy to Mom, they’ll be going to each other, and I hope this is the outcome. They both deserve to love and be loved.

Responsible Pet Ownership

I’d like to get a “companion animal.” That’s what pets are called here in my building. I’m not quite sure on the procedure here, but I have to either have my psych doc write a note, or get a form for the same doc to fill out so I may have a pet.

My pet of choice is a cat.

I haven’t actually gotten one yet for a couple of reasons. One is that my mother owns an elderly dog. If something happens to her, I may need to take him in, either temporarily or permanently, and my building permits only one pet per household. I could not consign my mother’s dog to a shelter for his last days.

The other reason?

I want to be able to afford my pet’s care if at all possible. Taking Mom’s dog in would be on an emergency basis, but any cat I get would be a pet I’ve spent (quite a bit of) time considering getting. Right now, my finances could not endure the burden of a pet’s care; I have too many bills going out and I struggle to save money even without bills. If I’ve spent any amount of time considering adopting a pet, I simply want to ensure I can afford the animal.

To me, “responsible pet ownership” goes beyond getting my pet fixed. I’ve seen, in the government subsidized housing I’ve lived in the past ten or so years, a lot of irresponsible pet ownership. People adopt animals, dogs and cats, when they can’t really afford the care. They do it not thinking of the possibility they may have to pay high medical bills if the animal gets sick. Or, if the pet has a chronic illness or disease which medication can help, how much that medication will cost over the long term. My Mom has only occasionally taken her dog in to a vet, and then only when his health concerns exceeded her capacity to deal with them on her own.

This is not responsible pet ownership.

I’ve come to accept that getting a cat may be years in my future—or possibly never at all. I have too much stuff to straighten up in my life right now to welcome a dependent creature of any kind, no matter how much I’d like one. If I can’t take care of myself—and I mean in every way I need to, not just feeding, clothing, and sheltering myself—right now, I do not need to be bringing an anmial into my home unless, as I said, I must take in my Mom’s dog because something’s happened to her.

So, no kitty for me—yet.

Geriatric Vestibulitis

My mom’s dog had a serious, and shocking, attack yesterday morning. According to Mom, Poopie collapsed and stretched his legs toward his head. He rolled on his side and back, and he writhed. She noticed his eyes were darting and circling in their sockets.

She didn’t know what it was. It came on suddenly, without any previous symptoms of ill health. He simply collapsed, writhed, stretched his forelegs up toward his head, and had a fit. No matter what she did, she couldn’t keep hold of him or bring him out of it. At last, she managed to gather him into her coat and went downstairs in her apartment building to see if somebody could drive them to the veterinarian—whom she was planning on making an appointment with for a checkup for Poopie.

The first vet she saw, a younger one, suggested she consider the possibility of putting Poopie down. They did blood work, which came up clean for anything indicative of a stroke. The vet didn’t tell her he’d done anything to help Poopie come out of the fit, and told Mom to bring him home. When Mom flatly stated she couldn’t since he wasn’t better (she still had no idea what was going on) and was herself somewhat freaked out by everything, distraught, and wasn’t thinking clearly herself. The vet agreed to keep Poopie, and Mom went home, where she called me.

I thought the same thing, and suggested to Mom to go back to the clinic to have Poopie put down. We were both in tears. However, after she hung up, Mom did something else. She researched Poopie’s symptoms on the internet and discovered what the problem may be: Geriatric Vestibulitis.

They’re not precisely sure what causes this condition in older dogs, but it does often lead to them being euthanized. The dog can take up to several weeks to recover, and may be left with a tilted head. Some dogs need to be nursed through their recovery—hand-fed and watered, and carried out to potty. Another “attack” may occur in some dogs—but by far not all. Most dogs recover with minor side effects—or none at all.

Mom went back to the veterinary clinic to fetch Poopie in the afternoon and met the other veterinarian who runs it; he had a much better “bedside manner” and told Mom the other vet had given Poopie a steroid shot. They’d put Poopie in a cat kennel and padded it well so he wouldn’t hurt himself. When he came out to Mom, he was shaky, but seemed back to himself for the most part. The shakiness Mom took care of by taking Poopie out to some grass to potty and they went home.

Poopie’s spent the day recovering today, and Mom says from what she’s seen, there are no averse effects like head-tilting or walking in circles. He’s slept, eaten, and had water and seems to be well on his way to a full recovery. When I last talked to Mom, she said she’s going to wait a couple days before calling the vet, so she can be sure Poopie’s fully recovered.

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