Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Rain Before the Sun

In more way than one.

First, literally.

The rain. If it wasn't obvious.
The weather has been pretty miserable for the past few days, but since I was off work, I decided to head out and ride weather be damned. I ended up getting soaked, but it was worth it.

Annie was very naughty when I brought her out and proceeded to do her best impression of the Hokey Pokey. I went on to clean up around the barn and ignored her while she continued to paw, shuffle, and flail. Once she got most of her shit together, I tacked up and questioned my sanity since the last time I had hacked out was over two weeks ago and the last time Annie had anything done with her was a week ago. Spring has come and Annie was feeling GOOD - having limited room in her paddock due to snow didn't help matters.

You put your right hoof in, you put your
right hoof out... you put your right hoof in and
Still, I let out a deep breath and mounted up. Annie was pretty fresh for the first 15 minutes of the ride - we had to reinstall her brakes and the fact that stand meant STAND. She wasn't 100% amicable, but managed to keep most of her eggs in a basket. I started to direct her in circles when she tried to walk off at the halt - she ended up realizing walking off would mean endless circles.

The rest of the ride went well. I alternated between a loose long rein and asking for some connection, leg yielding, shoulders in, and sporadic halting. She spooked at a few noises, but didn't seem bothered by much until we went to pass a home that had a woman and man in the front splitting wood with an electric log splitter. The sound of the wood cracking under pressure caused Annie to flinch and just as she did, the people's two dogs literally exploded out from under a bush and caused Annie to slam on the brakes and refuse to move.

I got her going again, but she was on high alert and did a pretty decent (and unrequested) shoulder in past a large semi-truck that was parked along the road. I patted her and she returned to her mellow state.

There is still a lot of snow... Ugh.
We threw in some trotting down the road and she felt good - easy to connect to my hands but she stuttered to a walk a few times when I wobbled a bit. I have poor balance at the moment, and I'm sure that made her uncertain a few times.

We continued on and down the dirt road we rolled into a canter - she came down to a trot and I cued for the canter again and she did. I gave her the reins and hovered in the saddle as we went, concentrating hard on keeping my legs under me and engaging my abs to keep myself poised and secure in two-point.

The rest of the ride went well and I popped off after having her stand and wait for nearly a minute. When we got back to the barn, I tied her with a fleece cooler on in an attempt to dry her off before reblanketing her and leaving for the night. She continued to flail her head and paw, which I ignored as I did chores.

Post-ride. Before her cooler was put on.
Not looking... great. But not looking awful?
Today I went out and was pleased to see the sun. I planned to hand-walk both horses the 5k loop around the subdivision and tied both and brushed them down. Annie was good to tie, which I was happy to see, and would look to see what I was doing but otherwise didn't move.

The walk was good - the first 10 minutes Annie was blowing and snorty. She didn't want to stand and kept moving her head and tentatively trying to step forwards. I reprimanded her sharply and worked on some ground-work, as well as standing, before continuing. The rest of the walk went well save for a moment when someone's garbage can lid went skittering across the asphalt from the wind. After that, I showed Annie the garbage cans and even rubbed the windblown lid on her.

I touch dis.
When we continued however, Annie kept trying to pull me towards other people's garbage cans (it was garbage day). So... every driveway we passed we had to stop and inspect the cans and admire their giant plastic cores. Annie got a brave and tried to nibble one of the lids and then scared herself when it moved, haha.

We got back to the barn and I tossed them back out, sans blankets, and came back later in the afternoon after running some errands. Annie tied to a tree and was good while I cleaned up manure. I even hopped up and did a bareback ride weaving through the trees in the paddock and wandered through the snow in the back paddock to check the electric fencing. We even walked into the creepy lean-to in the back paddock and I did "all around the world" because I am 12. All in all, I was pretty happy with her.

Scoping out the back paddock - it's melted a lot
but still quite a bit to go!
 Now, onto the other "not literal" part of this post.

Since being off the myoplast and being in training, Annie's weight has fluctuated again. I am trying very hard to not panic and to not beat myself up. She isn't awful, but it certainly has changed and I am kind of kicking myself for not putting her on the supplement the vet mentioned back in October.

In retrospect, the vet didn't really feel Annie was a very ulcery horse, but again, we couldn't really scope her so it was based off of personal opinion vs fact.

So, I've reached out to the Vet as well as a few friends and have some things in the works. Fingers crossed we can get to the bottom of the weight fluctuation issues and we find something that works. If anything, I'm learning that ulcers are some of the most difficult things to diagnose and treat: ulcergaurd only, no ulcergaurd; use nexium, no nexium; use blue pop rocks, don't use pop rocks; only alfalfa, angel wings and fairy dust... coconut oil and a priest's prayer.

She really is a good girl.

Fingers crossed we can find something that helps, because there is something not quite right about Annie and her weight fluctuations. I think I've done more than enough in trying to dot my i's and cross my t's and now it's time to get more aggressive. She finally looked great coming out of Winter, but now it's time to start looking at a different path. I just can't help feeling bad - and I truly wish we had a Vet around us that wasn't 6hrs away to scope her and get some definitive answers! It also doesn't help I'm in Canada and literally 98% of drugs I've been trying to get are not able to be shipped to me. So, that's been frustrating.

Anyways, whine fest is over. We'll get there, I just feel like a poop owner and am trying to do the best with the very limited resources we have available. I do have a game plan in mind, and should it mean having to haul her 6+hrs when the weather (and roads) clear, then that's what I'll do. For now, we'll work with what our mobile vet gives us and if we can't get anywhere, it'll be time to dig deeper.

Can't wait for the sun to peek through in all aspects.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Annie Goes Jumping

It seems like once a year, in February or March, Show Buddy and I make plans to ride together at the local indoor. I hadn't realized it before, but it seems to have turned into a tradition of sorts. Typically, Show Buddy and I ride together at shows and clear round/percentage days - we also tend to watch eachothers lessons when possible - but planned riding time often goes by the wayside, especially with my hectic schedule and the living distance between us (50 minutes).

The fun days we spend riding together are always warmly welcome, especially to get rid of the left-over winter doldrums (especially this year!). A big part of me is wanting to push myself to ride with Show Buddy more in these "no pressure" situations. We had always talked about trail riding together and I'd like to make that a reality this year, hectic schedules be damned!

Now, onto the fun:

I am loving the reach she gets with that hind leg.
I just need to learn to sit the fuck down.
After work on Saturday, I had the Boyfriend check over the horse trailer for me - I had done a complete once-over prior to hauling Annie to Barn C in January (including tightening lug-nuts and inflating tires), but still wanted the Boy to take a double check considering the snow had caused some damage to the lights (the top lights on the trailer actually got knocked off due to the weight of the snow). I have since ordered new parts for the lights, but the functionality of the trailer was not compromised.

Sunday morning I was up long before my alarm, but ended up getting myself together at a glacial pace. It didn't help the truck needed gas, so by the time I was hitched and on the road to the barn, I was already behind. When I finally arrived, I packed up the essentials and tossed all my tack in the truck so it would warm up a bit vs sitting in the trailer and staying cold.

Annie was pretty good - she danced around a little bit and I just waited her out (about 5 minutes) before loading her. She gets quite anxious when she sees the trailer - she'll snort and blow hard, but still gets in quietly for me. She usually will "tap dance" in place as I get her tied and her hay bag sorted out. Although she will eat treats from my hand, she refuses to eat hay. I still stick the net in there just in case, as part of me hopes she gets the hang of it soon and relaxes enough to try picking out a few nibbles. I imagine the lasting damage of our Trailer Issue is still prominent in her brain, which will take years of good experiences to erase/diminish.

She jumped some of them with... erm... enthusiasm.
We finally hit the road around 10am, which was about an hour later than I wanted, and I texted Show Buddy to let her know I'd be there soon (her horse needed a ride). We pulled up to Barn C almost 50 minutes later and Show Buddy's horse, Riley, loaded up like a champ and we were officially off to the indoor!

Annie was good to tack, and scarfed down some hay while Show Buddy and I set up some jumps. It didn't take long before I threw a leg over and started our warm-up. Annie felt a bit "up" during the first few strides of walk, so I quickly went to work bending and asking her to yield. She immediately softened and quietly went around the ring. Even as Show Buddy lunged Riley and he did his most impressive display of aerial acrobatics. Before riding, I had chose to wear a very small set of POW spurs, as the previous ones I wore in my last Trainer K lesson seemed too big/bulky for me and I worried I would accidentally poke Annie at the wrong time. The small spurs proved to be a good choice, as I had to really concentrate my efforts to put them against Annie's sides. Otherwise, I just used my leg as per usual. Once we started to jump, I did take them off though.
I almost peed myself doing the oxer.
The video makes the picture look a lot nicer than I rode it lol
The warm up went really well. Her trot felt swingy and open, she was relaxed into the bridle and was responding well to my cues. We went into canter on her right lead and she gave me two wrong leads in a row. I responded by giving her a correction with the spur and asked again - she gave me the correct lead this time and I praised her. For her left lead, she picked up the wrong lead once and I ended up changing direction to make it work. After that, she picked up the leads just fine on her left side.

She felt a lot more balanced and rhythmic than she has in a long time - still falling out in her shoulder, but I just floated the reins at her and went into a half-seat for most of the cantering. It was a nice feeling and even Show Buddy remarked how relaxed and quiet Annie seemed. Her tail hardly swished and she felt as if she could've quietly bounded around in the canter for a long time.

This is what an uncertain rider looks like... haha.
Sorry Annie!
The jumping went equally as well and I was happy to see that Annie had learned to pick her up feet (#jumpinggodzilla2017). She picked up a rolling canter after each and every jump, and even ended up getting a little.... hot as we progressed through the exercises. I insisted trot approaching each jump, and mare insisted we GO FAST NOW. It led to a few halt/rein-backs as well as taking a break to just trot around and beside the jumps. It didn't take long for her to get her brain back in it's bucket and we carried on with some lovely work. She had attempted several times to pop into a canter and even sneakily threw in a stride or two of canter at the base of a few jumps. I don't necessarily mind it, but the exercise we were doing was about trotting, not cantering. She eventually got her way when she cantered nicely for me, and I continued on to another jump. Good girl.

I did have a few boo-boos, mostly where Annie ran out on the second fence of a line. In my defense, Show Buddy set the jumps too goddamn high and I was secretly relieved when Annie did a polite detour around the second jump, which happened to be a vertical that made me want to pee myself. I chose to take the two "scary" jumps as single fences instead and Annie did really well with that. Gymnastics and lines make me nervous, and looking back I wished I had asked to have them lowered so I could have had Annie go through them more successfully.

Annie says: "Just sit there, I'll do it."
I did eventually grow a set of Lady Balls and successfully do the x-rail to yellow vertical line and was very proud of myself. Annie didn't duck out at all and I knew a lot of it was rider error. The previous time I had done that line, I buried my hands into her mane and just sat there as the jump came closer and literally said out-loud, "Oh no. No.. nO... NO." Annie responded by politely cantering off to the left and around the jump. Because, you know, steering your horse is beneficial in between jumps. However, when I remembered to actually ride my horse we had fun. We even cantered a bunch of fences and did a few little courses.

The afternoon was really fun - I enjoyed my horse and found that she seemed to have a passion for jumping sticks. I need to work on my position a bit tho, because I find myself being tossed forwards slightly on the landing side of the jump, typically 1-2 strides afterwards. Thank god Annie is so honest and let me push myself back up using her neck a few times. It's a bit embarrassing, as the jumps weren't even that big, but I guess my balance leaves much to be desired.

When we were finished riding, we turned the horses loose in the arena to roll. Annie surprised me by hunkering down to roll and then popping up like a literal Jack in the Box and throwing one of the biggest fucking bucks I've ever seen. She proceeded to gallop around and buck and kick and squeal.

Uh, thanks for not doing that undersaddle?

She went down a few more times to roll - I bet the sand felt good - and galloped around a bit more. I haven't ever witnessed her playing before, but she seemed to have a good time ripping around. I imagine it felt good to stretch her legs, as the horses have very limited pasture space due to all the snow.

Leaving the indoor I had to reinstall a few manners into Annie because Show Buddy left to load Riley and Annie was Forever Alone and Sad. Once she had a Come to Jesus meeting she settled and loaded quietly when I brought her around to the trailer. She was slightly dancey when we dropped Riley off and called out to him a few times, but seemed to keep her skull firmly atop her head. The haul home was fine and she unloaded great as well.

All in all, a very successful outing. The last time I truly "rode" Annie was exactly a month ago and her ability to keep a mostly level head when I throw all kinds of new things at her makes me excited for the future. For now, I am just enjoying the ride and am enjoying figuring out all the little nuances about her, because even a year later, I'm still figuring her out. Counting this ride, this was ride #4 over jumps!

A good bean!

Friday, March 16, 2018

On the Road Again - Literally

The left-over snow from February has been slow to disappear - melting has occurred at a glacial pace and I have finally accepted the fact the ponies and I will be relegated to the roads for the time being. Part of it kind of sucks, because the riding season has officially began for most other parts of the province, but our little northwest communities are seemingly still buried. In fact, a few people have had to temporarily relocate their horses due to the fact the snow caused a multitude of fence damage and with the slow melt, horses have been escaping.

A 20min walk to and from the riding arena
must be factored in when I decide to school.
It's annoying, but in any case, the horse has a good amount of warm-up
and cool-down time!
In case anyone has forgotten what kind of area my horses reside in, let's do a quick recap of what the rural subdivision is. The last post I made about the where-abouts and amenities was back in 2016, so I figure it's time to revisit it!

Both horses live approximately 10min away in a little rural subdivision which sits adjacent to the only highway in and out of our town. The subdivision is not necessarily "horse country" - as we only have a handful of owners and even fewer who are dedicated ring riders. The majority are for pleasure and/or trails; which, based off the amount of sheer wilderness around us is not difficult to see why a sand ring would be unappealing. 

This mare and blue skies make me happy!
And for now, through the waning left-over Winter days, we are stuck in the endless loops of streets and roads. Part of me doesn't mind, but bringing particularly fresh horses out for their first ride of the season on asphalt can be a bit... worrying. Cars, dogs, cyclists and walkers all use the roadway as modes of transportation and in some cases, the road is not wide enough to accommodate all (especially with built up snow). 

It can be a bit tricky - reminding your spooking horse that the moving object just ahead IS in fact a dog as a truck tries to weasel it's way past you. For the most part, the traffic is observant and respectful of the horses. Problems tend to crop up in the Spring, when the horses are feeling fresh and the air is has an underlying crispness to it. 

Our second ride lacked Vitamin D
That being said, I have had two really great road hacks on Annie since having her home. One in particular required a little more... self-control and discipline, but it wasn't necessarily awful.
The first ride was a few days after bringing her home. I didn't ask much, didn't expect much, and just toodled. Ty had just passed 6 days earlier and I had no "fight" in me to correct any behaviors or issues. Annie seemed to understand this and just marched along. A few spooks littered the ride, but otherwise she was happy and quiet. I was very happy with her, especially considering we were hacking solo (altho that has become typical nowadays).

The second ride was a few days ago and oh my... mare was fresh and eager to be out after over a week of doing Absolutely Nothing. Noting this, I prepared myself for some theatrics. She initially started with her go-stop-go routine after I mounted, but I took a more authoritative role in the saddle and simply said, "No." right back. This, for lack of a better term, pissed Annie right off and she kind of hopped her hind end and swished her tail because Very Angry. I kept at her, unwilling to back down and made it clear I expected her to halt when I asked and any indication of forward movement would result in several more walk-halt-walks.

"Hey... you back there, are we gonna go yet or what?"
-Annie, always.
I am glad for the time she spent with Trainer K, because I have realized that the fantasized "what ifs" will not come to fruition with this horse. She may throw a tantrum, but she isn't going to flip over backwards like my mind suggests. And in true Annie fashion, after attempting to root hard against my hands, pop up her haunches, and thrashing her tail around angrily, she let out a big sigh and complied. I was proud of her and proud of myself - being out in the open road is a hard (and unsafe) place to "duke it out" with a horse - and I kept asking what I knew she was capable of and didn't settle for the piss-poor excuses she gave me.

Once the brakes were reinstalled and her fresh little brain was firmly planted back inside her skull, we carried on and did a variety of exercises. We started off with bending and leg yielding - especially when she offered to spook (because ohmygodthatthingwasnottherebefore!!!1!). It helped regain and refocus both her energy and attention, which made further walk-halts much more pleasant and amicable. 

I had attempted a short stint of trot early on in the ride, but it proved to be the wrong choice, as a four wheeler hiding in one of the trails came roaring right for us. Annie came back to a walk and I allowed it as she stared hard into the bushes. Before the four wheeler could come bursting out, I made the executive decision to turn around and head back towards one of the other streets - we would have had to turn around anyways because the dirt road was still a sheet of ice.

From here we worked on collecting and extending the walk, as well as stretching her neck down and out. She likes to look at things when we trail ride, which I don't particularly mind, but I wanted to attempt to create an illusion of calmness to trick her brain into staying calm (because EVERYTHING IS EXCITING TODAY YOU GUYS). It worked quite well and when she brought her head up to check her surroundings, I was able to politely remind her to lower it with the outside rein and inside leg. 

As we rounded the corner of one street, I ended up running into a friend. She threw her truck in park and we chatted for about 10 minutes. Through this, Annie shuffled her feet very slightly, but more or less stood the entire time. Good girl. She let it be known she was not happy by making a "dunking" motion with her head every so often, but otherwise happily scarfed a few treats I fed her.

Second ride, just shortly after saying goodbye
to a friend who I had stopped to talk to.
Heading home took some cajoling and a good ol Pony Club kick to the ribs. Mare was certain she did not want to go home (I have the most non-barn sour horse ever) but I prevailed and we finished the ride with a trot down the long side of the street to home. She spooked at a puddle and I made her go back and walk through it. At which point, she was eager to head away from home, but completely slowed down when I did a turn on the haunches back to the barn. Sorry, Annie. 

All in all, I'm pretty happy with her. I know she got quite fit being with Trainer K, so I imagine all that pent up excess energy is bubbling at the surface a bit more than usual. She remained respectful and quiet, even during her minimal melt-down. This weekend Show Buddy and I are scheduled to ride together at the indoor and do some jumping, so fingers crossed no impeding snow storm or otherwise stops us from enjoying our horses!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Cavalry is Home

I had to dig them a small path to the trees so they'd have
some space to walk in.
And they have been home for a while.

I had initially planned to take two more lessons with Trainer K before bringing Annie home on the 27th - with my work schedule and a private clinic taking place during the last weekend of training, it didn't make it possible to take another lesson until the 26/27. Which, was all fine and dandy.

Unfortunately, things with Ty kind of fizzled the week prior and led me to (for lack of a better term...) abandon both horses at their temporary residences while I garnered as much time as I could with my boy. I am thankful tho, because when I told Trainer K, she basically said, "Leave your mare here and come get her later in the week." The same goes for Riding Buddy N and her parents (I'm pretty sure they were secretly hoping I'd leave Spud there forever though).

The water trough is somewhere behind the fence... buried

The week off of work was a bit insane and hectic, as we said goodbye to Ty, and also geared up for a major surgery for our other dog, Roxy. She has bilateral luxating patella - her left leg needed surgery as soon as possible and her right leg seemed to have built up enough scar tissue from what the Vet suspects was an old ACL tear. Which, as a previous vet assistant has left me astounded. This dog never showed any indication of pain - not once.

In fact, the only things that indicated she was uncomfortable in her knees was the fact she'd sit on her hip and wasn't running as much as she did before... And yet her x-rays tell the story of a torn and re-repaired ACL. The self-repair has built a little "shelf" which is holding her right patella ligament in place, so we will see how that continues to play out. She may be small, but the dog is tough as nails!

Her recovery of the left leg, thankfully, has gone very smoothly. She is currently just over 1 week post-op and we'll be able to start more rigorous rehabilitation next week, after her stitches are removed.

We moved a mattress into the living room vs choosing to
crate her overnight. 
The day after Roxy's surgery, I went out and picked up Annie from Barn C. Which, would have been a total non-event save for the fact snow was never cleared from the front of the trailer and had since turned into some variation of ice/snow that I ended up chipping/ swearing at for over an hour. When I pulled Annie out of her pen, she blew hard at the trailer, and danced a bit on the lead while I took her blanket off, but loaded up quietly.

She was equally good while I rounded up and loaded Spud - who had finally getting along with his two gelding counterparts. I think they were a bit sad to see him go, but they didn't really show much interest when I latched the gate behind us.

Digging out the trough.
Hard work - but I did it!

Once back at home, I gracefully slipped and went down like a ton of bricks on an icy patch beside the trailer. Ouch. Thankfully, that was the only real drama of the day, and Annie and Spud unloaded just fine. I tied them at the barn so I could start digging out a path and setting up the water trough. I had intended to do that earlier in the week, but... life sucked and I didn't get motivated enough to do it.

Spud was tied inside the shelter of the barn and Annie was tied outside the stall like usual - so, out of eachother's eye-sight. Annie stood quiet after shuffling a bit, but Spud... Spud neighed and cried and carried on like he'd lost his only love in the world.

Another hour chopping and scooping snow, and then I let the horse's loose to explore the very limited pasture that was available. Both of them seemed excited to be home, but took one look into the paddock and sighed as if they were completely disappointed. They were even more disappointed to find I had left hay littered along the trail I had built them (to encourage them to stomp down the snow).

This is looking out towards the trees from under the lean-to.

Looking out from the other side of the lean-to.

One little pathway.
Check out the fences in the back!
The entire saga took just over five hours from start to finish. The trip to Barn C, digging out the trailer, loading all my tack/items, hauling home, picking up Spud, unloading, digging the horses a pathway, setting up the water trough/heater, tossing hay, driving the trailer back into town and parking it and finallllly heading home.

Since being at home, I've managed to get a ride in on Annie (which will be blogged about later) and have worked more on tying/picking up feet/ etc. I don't like my horses to go completely feral in the Winter (especially Annie, since Trainer K put so much time and effort into her). Unfortunately, we have a ton of snow still hanging around so any "real" riding will have to be on the back-burner until the brunt of it melts. Luckily, Annie retains things quite well, so I don't while I don't suspect we'll be able to "pick up" where we left off, we'll be able to get back to that place quite easily.

She looks unenthused, but was so happy to be out.
As far as training, Trainer K was quite pleased with Annie by the end of the month. She did pretty much a work-up on everything. Some significant changes tho:

  • Standing quietly while tied made a huge turn around. Typically, Annie is very good at tying quiet at home, but will dance around at new places. She spent a lot of time standing tied at Barn C, in different areas.
  • Smoother down transitions. Before, Annie would kind of pull out the e-brake and almost transition like she was a reiner. Now, the forward energy is there when she comes back to a slower gait.
  • Stretching into the bridle. We started to get some of this at the end of last year and at the Derek clinic, but it seems much more consistent now.
  • Leg yielding. It's just overall better. My leg cues mean something now.
  • Suppleness exercises are the go to for when Annie gets stressed/tense/nervous. Trainer K showed us a variety of them to do, and I was able to practice them last week when I rode and they made a huge difference.
  • Jumping - Annie has become more aware of her feet.
  • Canter leads - almost no tail swishing, switching leads (cross-firing) or picking up wrong leads. Trainer K went just over two weeks without having Annie cross-fire or picking up multiple wrong leads.

Feeding the horses on the snow to make more pathways
has made a mess of the pasture...
Spud isn't happy with his muzzle either.
The whole training thing, I feel, was the right call. Trainer K understands how Annie's brain works more than ever and is able to either call the mare's bluff or support the horse as a rider when she reacts to something. I had muddled between the line of "Is she reacting this way because she's green?" or "Is she reacting this way because she is trying to get out of what I am asking?". I think it also helped Annie understand that when she gets a negative response from the rider, not to take it so damn personally.

She tries hard, but sometimes evades the question being asked, and when called out for it or redirected back to the original question, doesn't really enjoy being told she is wrong or to do it again. Trainer K was able to work with her in a way that set her up for success, as well as tapping into the mind-set that she is just a young horse. I'm sure I'll have more to say about the whole training process and how it played into mine and Annie's relationship as the year progresses and I am able to ride her more.

For now, we are eagerly awaiting daylight savings time and are welcoming any riding - be it road-hacking or hauling out for lessons on my week off!

Friday, March 9, 2018

And Life Just Keeps Going

First things first, I wanted to thank everyone for their kind words, messages, and thoughts as I navigate myself through a very different life without my best friend and partner.

It's been neither better, nor worse.

Just... different.

I've struggled with the idea of time - over a week has already passed - and I feel almost angry that life has continued on so... seamlessly? without Ty.

The horses still need to be fed. Roxy still needs exercise. Laundry still needs to be done. Work still needs to be attended.

It feels almost cruel.

And when I get the courage to go somewhere public (because in this small town, you are apt to run into at least five people you know), I feel sad all over again. The hoards of people who cruise the grocery store have no idea the girl in aisle 5 is trying her hardest not to cry for the 17th time today, because she misses her dog so damn much. The guy waiting for his wife in the parking lot with the tunes cranked up doesn't see the small tear that falls because even in her dreams, he is missing.

Maybe I'm being melodramatic. Or maybe I just deal very poorly with death.

And still, life just keeps coming.

The bills don't stop. The need to eat and rest is still evident. The truck still needs gas.

It just seems unfair. That the best partner I had ever known would be so easily removed from life - that the minutes seem to tick on by without any kind of remorse. All that remains is a cardboard box of ashes and collars that will never grace his neck ever again.

And it sucks.

I know I'll regain some sense of normalcy and instead, choose to put my efforts towards the good times and memories we shared, but right now I am very much stuck in the "all is lost" phase. And I think I need to be here and feel every inch of these feelings - at least for the moment.

Strong, independent and self-assured.
That's who he was.
I finally put his ramp and wheelchair on the buy and sell - as much as I want to hold onto these things, a large part of me knows these items were not who Ty was. In fact, he really only "dealt" with the assistance we offered as the disease progressed, but it wasn't who he was. And the other part of me knows it could help another dog in need.

Each day has not only been a struggle, but a journey.

I am thankful for the village of people who have offered a shoulder or hand. I realize I am still seeking comfort of the shadows, but little by little have started to step back into the light. I am still selfishly angry and trying to navigate my way through all these feelings as carefully as I can. The patience people have shown me is astounding and I wanted to thank everyone that this can be a platform I pour my heart out to without fear of resentment or judgement.

One day I will be "okay", and the funny thing about that is time is the only thing that will get me there.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Ty, The Very Best Dog

This past week has been incredibly tough, and I don't really have the words to convey the profound sense of loss or devastation that is wreaking havoc on my heart. It is one thing to see your partner (because Ty was so much more than just a "pet") struggling, but it is another to realize that struggle and do the most selfless thing a person can do - let them go.

Since his diagnosis of DM (degenerative myelopathy) back in July, we handled the bumps and blips in the road with ease as certain things just became part of 'normal life'. The race-way of sectional carpets and booties became a ritual that we took part in for Ty's comfort and in his best interest. He flourished with the minimal changes and then, just as quickly as our success had surmounted, it seemingly plummeted.

Ty was a very proud dog, and even as the disease made him incapable of simple tasks at times, he still would have powered on to follow me to the end of the Earth. That's just the kind of dog he was. He was hopelessly and frantically devoted to his person (me), and I him.

And when we cuddled on the floor a few weeks ago, I saw it in his face. He was quick to redraw his poker face, because if nothing else, Ty was not a complainer.

But, I saw it.

He was getting tired, and in the fleeting moment he had let his guard down, I saw.

We made his last week extra special. Bacon for breakfast, an entire steak to himself... paw-print canvases, a sleep-over in the living room, massages by the fireplace, and one last "walk". A walk without the wheelchair he simply "dealt" with (because: proud dog can do it himself, thank you very much), a walk without me hovering over him and worrying if he was going to fall.

One very last walk in the sunshine.

And even when he began to get tired, he powered on and walked himself through the front door. Because that's just the kind of dog he was.

My heart is irrevocably broken, and I will miss him immensely for the very rest of my days. I can only hope that everyone has the chance to have felt the love and devotion of a great dog, because he was the very best.

Thirteen years was not long enough.