The shape of our lives has changed: A tribute to Nuala, April 15, 2005 to July 9, 2015

At 10:45 am on July 9, 2015, Phil and I guided our little sweat pea on her final journey. She was suffering from kidney failure, a condition for which there is no treatment in dogs. She’d stopped eating and most of what she drank came back up.

We could not give her a celebratory day. She barely had the strength to walk, let alone play, and, as I mentioned, she wouldn’t eat—even her favourite treats. The best we could do was to be with her and let her know she was loved until the end.

We had ten years of joy with her from the disgruntled yawp she offered us upon our first meeting, to her final, peaceful sigh.

In 2005, a little more than two years after the tragic death of our last dog, Zoe, from hemangiosarcoma, Phil and I were finally ready to look for another dependent quadruped to share our lives with. We had a cat at the time, Thufir, but we missed having a dog.

It was Phil’s sister, Stephanie, who saw the listing as she was perusing The Pennysaver (think print version of Kijiji). She brought it to my attention at break, giving me the magazine to bring home.

We called and made arrangements to see the pups. We drove down to Dill Lake Road and up to the house at the address we’d been given.

We knocked, the door opened, and we were led downstairs. The bitch and her pups were nestled in the space under the stairs in the midst of blankets and newspaper. The pups were all nursing, squirming as they do. Adorable. Kawaii even.

The owner crawled under the stairs. “Would you like to see one?” she asked.

“Do you have any girls left?” I asked. We’d been told on the phone earlier that several of the pups had already been claimed.

“We have one left,” the owner said, examining the pups. “Ummmm . . . this one.”

She grabbed the pup right off her mother’s teat and held her out to us. That’s when we received the disgruntled yawp. There she was, pudgy little belly, stubby little legs, delicate paws with tiny nails, ears folded over, and tail quivering, and she opened her mouth and cried, as if to say, “Hey! I was eating! That’s rude!”

Of course, I took the pup with an “aw, poor thing.” One sniff of that milk-laden breath, one touch of that soft butter-belly, and that was it. I wanted to take her home.

She was only three weeks old, though, and we’d have to wait.

In the meantime, we bought all the necessary puppy supplies and I finalized the arrangements for a self-funded leave. It was important to me to solidify the bond with our new pup and to ensure that I wasn’t a zombie at work because of the initial midnight feeding and outing or crying during the first nights.

For a name, we settled on Nuala. Even though the name refers to she of the white shoulders and Nu was a black dog with white bits, Phil wanted to name her one of my crazy Irish names. The world is grateful he didn’t convince me to call her Siobhan 🙂

No one could spell or pronounce Nuala correctly as it was. Our vet even included the notation (Noo-la) on her file.

We tried to crate train her. We really did, but she never felt comfortable. Remembering the time Zoe wedged her head between the bars and was stuck like that—panicking—for hours before we got home, we decided to relent. Baby gates around the kitchen would suffice.

There were the usual trials with house training, but Nuala was pretty good. Once she matured enough to control her bladder, we were golden.

Elegant pup

When I returned to work, we generally took her over to my mom’s. She was still working then, though, and when we had to leave Nu on her own, we were pleased to discover that she was not destructive. She valued her home. We appreciated that.

Nuala also didn’t bark. Except in the rare case where she was freaked out by something, or wanted to be brought in from the back yard (a vocalization we called the bark of command) she was quiet. It was almost like she thought barking was rude.

I started walking her in the mornings, and made friends with another morning dog-walker who lived up the street from me. Stacey (human) and Daisy (canine) became our buddies, not only sharing morning walks, but also going to the Laurentian Conservation Area on the weekends to let the dogs run wild in the bush.

I even jogged with Nu for a while. I called it puff-a-lumping, and even at a trot, Nuala could stay well ahead of me.

We attended puppy classes at the local PetSmart and Nuala proved to be a submissive girl. Her routine with the more rambunctious puppies was to roll over on her back and pee.

puppy class

She was just a really good dog. Cuddly and patient and incessantly licky 🙂 We really didn’t mind puppy kisses.

She never really caught on to the whole fetch thing. She preferred to play keep away, or, if playing with Daisy, she would defer to her canine playmate. She just loved to run.

Nuala and Daisy

Nuala learned to do all the standard things: sit, lay down, stay, come, and eventually, she shook both paws and could do high-fives with both. She wouldn’t stay still long enough to balance a biscuit on her nose. Still, we tried.

She didn’t like swimming, either. She loved the water, but her paws could not leave the lake bottom. This is one of the reasons we think she had husky in her. Huskies aren’t great swimmers. They’ll do it if they have to.

Nuala not swimming

The one bad habit Nuala had was that when she could, she dashed out the door and ran across the street to the neighbour’s. They had four Persians and Nuala loved kitties. We think she missed Thufir, who died in 2008.

Nuala’s early years were fairly uneventful, health-wise.

Then I noticed that she was losing patches of hair on her chest. Turns out she had food allergies. Enter expensive prescription food after a summer of making her food (salmon and rice, or salmon and potato, plus supplements). It also explained the periodic ear infections she got, as they could be an extension of the allergies.

Treats were now replaced with carrots or apples. Nuala loved them. She was quite the veggie dog.

Our pup-friends moved away and I continued to take Nuala to the Conservation Area until my father was hospitalized. Then I went to visit him on the weekends instead. Nuala adjusted graciously.

In 2011, she cracked a tooth length-wise and had to have dental surgery. Due to the stubborn nature of her roots (the roots of all dog molars are hooked), the surgery took longer than expected. She recovered fairly quickly, though.

The next year, she started showing evidence of arthritis. We thought her hips. She went on a regular regimen of Meta-cam.

We renovated our bedroom that year and Phil sawed the legs off the bed frame so Nuala would have an easier time getting in and out of bed. Yes. She slept with us. It’s why we had a king sized bed.

We also installed a runner beside the bed so that when she jumped down, she wouldn’t slip and end up doing the doggy splits.

It turned out, though, that she didn’t have arthritis. Her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) was slowly tearing. By December of 2012, the ACL had torn and Nu couldn’t put any weight on that leg, her right hind.

Post ACL surgery

So she had surgery to replace her torn ACL with a length of cable in January of 2013. In the wake of the surgery, she developed urinary tract infections (UTIs) (yes, that was plural) and the vet discovered that she was shedding protein in her urine, a sign that her kidneys were in distress. Further blood tests revealed that her kidney enzymes were just fine.

Still, we started her on Fortekor and switched from the allergy food to kidney support diet as precautions.

Then her ears started to get bad. She gave herself a couple of aural haematomas from scratching, one in each year, and eventually, the vet diagnosed her with fibrocystic ears. Her ear canal started to produce fibrous cysts. Enter the prednisone.

We tried to wean her off the pred, because long-term use was not good for her liver or kidneys, but we had no choice but to continue. The only permanent treatment was to remove her ear canals, something we weren’t prepared to do to our dear little pup.

The following year, in the summer, Nuala developed diabetes, which was a possible consequence of prolonged prednisone use of which we were unaware. We started a regimen of insulin and low calorie prescription diet.

We tried an alternate medication to the prednisone, but it was not effective and we returned to using the pred.

With the new treatment plan, Nuala was behaving like a pup again. She was playing again. We were happy.

Over the next months, we took Nuala in for several glucose curves and adjusted her medications, eventually reaching a good balance in about March of 2015.

All seemed well.

And then, three weeks ago on Friday, Nuala stopped eating.

It started with her leaving carrots uneaten. Remember, she LOVED carrots. We tried apple. No go. She left increasing amounts of her breakfast and supper uneaten, of concern because she had to eat a certain amount to process her insulin.

We took her in to the vet on Tuesday. Urinalysis, blood tests, and x-rays revealed another UTI and the beginnings of kidney failure, liver failure, or both. She ate a full meal at the vet’s, though, and they weren’t concerned about that. We were sent home with antibiotics and a plan to revert to the kidney support diet.

The next day was Canada Day, and Nuala continued to refuse any food we gave her. Then she started to throw up.

Thursday was worse. I resorted to cooking up a batch of rice and salmon, which she did eat, and subsequently threw up. I talked to the vet that day and he told me that we were overcharged for the x-rays and that he would leave some medication and the kidney support diet for us the following morning.

Phil picked up the meds: a anti-ulcer medication and an appetite stimulant along with a case of the kidney diet and the veterinary emergency number (just in case). When he got home, he gave Nu the anti-ulcer med and she promptly went over to her food bowl and started licking it.

So he fed her more rice and salmon. Two bowls. Which she ate. For supper, she ate a can of the kidney diet and we hoped that Nuala was past the worst of her illness.

Then she threw up.

Despite the administration of the appetite stimulant, the only thing we could get her to eat for the weekend was biscuits. She continued to throw up. On Saturday night, I reviewed the instructions on the medications and the antibiotic indicated that it should be discontinued if vomiting and/or diarrhoea developed. We discontinued the antibiotic.

Monday, I was sick (legitimately) and I called the vet in the morning to tell him the latest and see what he could suggest. I ended up making an appointment to bring Nuala in Tuesday morning.

I had a huge breakdown Monday night because Nuala was doing so poorly. I was certain we were going to have to euthanize her in the morning.

Phil took Tuesday off and I went to work. When we left to take Nuala to the vet, I called my mom and asked her to meet us at the door. I wanted her to have the chance to say good bye.

When he got into the office and examined Nuala, the vet said that he wanted to try one more therapy. He wanted to put Nuala on fluids to rehydrate her and administer anti-nausea drugs. He wanted to keep her overnight. If he could flush the urea from Nuala’s system, we might gain some time and, more importantly, quality of life for her.

He did this at no charge. He knows us and knows that we would always wonder if we had done absolutely everything we could. He wanted to exhaust this last possibility.

Wednesday morning, we brought Nuala home to stay with my mom. The techs had taken additional blood samples when they discharged Nu.

Around noon, the vet called and indicated that despite 24 hours on fluids, the level of urea in Nuala’s blood was exactly the same as it had been when we brought her in on Tuesday morning. Her kidneys had failed.

I asked if Nuala might make it to the weekend. The vet told me that she might not make it through Thursday. When we got home on Wednesday evening, Nuala hadn’t eaten anything.

On Thursday morning, we knew it was time. It was heartbreaking because she would still wag her tail when she saw us. She still had light in her eyes. She wanted to be happy, but felt too ill. She wanted to eat, but couldn’t bear to. Both Phil and I stayed home from work, we called the vet to wait for an appointment, and called my mom to come over and sit with Nu and us until it was time.

Enjoying the sun on her last morning

We bundled Nu into the car and went for her final vet visit. Phil brought all the leftover food and meds into the vet’s office and settled up before the appointment while I took Nuala for a final walk. I let her drag me into the wild strawberries and blueberry bushes in the lot next to the vet’s office, get full of fluff from the weeds, have a good sniff, and empty herself out. Surprisingly, she still had something in her to empty.

The appointment itself was very respectful and entirely at our pace. Everything was explained and we were given time to spend with Nuala. Our dear little pup had been there so much over the last few years that the staff all knew her.

None of the potentially awful things they warned us of happened. She just sighed twice and settled under our stroking hands.

And it was done.

The rest of the day was spent in a weepy daze. Phil made lunch and invited my mom over. It was surreal.

Slowly, it dawned on me. The shape of our lives had changed.

Our lives had increasingly been structured around Nuala.

Now, we have to shift around her absence.

It’s as simple, and as goddamned hard, as that.

Better days

Better days

Caturday quickie: Pupdate

Crash puppydog

What Nuala spends most of her time doing these days 😦

It’s been a while since I’ve had to offer a proper pupdate of this nature.

All was going well with our Nuala until a week ago last Friday. Previous to that day, our dear little pup (DLP) was handling her medication well, without apparent incident. She would snarf down her food in thirty seconds, consume carrots, apples, and cheese with wagging abandon.

In short, she behaved like the pup that she, at ten years of age, no longer is.

Then, on Friday, she stopped eating.

It started with her carrots, her mid-day and evening snacks. As a dog with food allergies, it was the snack (outside the hypoallergenic treats) recommended by our vet. Nu left a carrot uneaten.

As the weekend progressed, she ate less and less of her food.

Come Monday, she puked and wouldn’t eat any of her food at all.

Tuesday, we took her in to the vet and he examined her, performed blood tests, urinalysis, and took x-rays.

That evening, we were given the news: the only obvious issue was a urinary tract infection. We would be getting antibiotics for that.

Her blood work was troublesome, though.

Her kidney and liver enzymes were both elevated, indicating potential failure of either or both organs in the future.

There’s nothing that can be done for kidney or liver disease in dogs.

They’re starting dialysis trials at the veterinary college at the Univerity of Guelph, but it’s an ordeal for the animal and a great expense for the owners. At this point, our vet did not recommend it.

So we’d continue with the Fortekor, get Nuala back on the kidney support diet, and see how things went.

She left most of her food Tuesday evening and didn’t eat at all Wednesday (Canada Day). This is not a good thing for a dog on insulin. She needs food to process the drug. And she continued to vomit.

On Thursday, I resorted to canned salmon and plain rice. She ate. I was relived.

On Friday, Phil picked up an appetite stimulant and another medication to prevent ulcers from the vet.

When he returned, Nuala licked at her empty food dish and Phil gave her a serving of rice and salmon. She ate. He filled her bowl a second time and she ate again. Friday evening, she ate a full can of the kidney diet without being prompted.

Better days

Better days

This morning, she picked at her food and we tried the appetite stimulant. It didn’t appear to work, but then, at noon, she ate her food. And vomited it up two hours later.

The weird thing is that the UTI shouldn’t put her off her food. No obstruction was apparent in the x-rays. Her kidney and liver situations were not far enough advanced to depress her appetite.

So we’re all at a loss (even the vet) and Phil and I have the vet emergency service number in case something dire happens over the weekend.

It’s so distressing to have a sick pet. You just wish they could talk.

So that’s the latest health crisis for our DLP.

I’ll keep you posted.

Caturday Quickie

Sundog snippet: Miscellaneous stuff

‘Cause we all need miscellaneous stuff. Am I right?

The acting consultant position ended, I returned to my substantive position for two blissful weeks, and now I’m on leave.

My main writing-related goal was to prepare and send off my query package, but I’m behind (no surprise there). I’m still finishing up the latest round of revisions, but I hope to have them done soon(ish).

I’ve also offered to help a couple of visiting writers set up workshops while they’re in town over the next several weeks.

Jane Ann McLachlan will be up for the weekend of May 30 and 31. She’ll be doing a book signing at Chapters from 2-4 pm on the Saturday afternoon and then, on the Sunday, from 1:30-3:30 pm at the Older Adult Centre (in the YMCA on Durham), she’ll be delivering a workshop on Crafting the Contemporary Genre Novel.


I’ll save the second workshop and event details for my monthly update.

Other than that, I’m going to conduct a bit of spring cleaning around the house, and hopefully get a couple of long-outstanding projects done.

The rainbows!Not as impressive as the real thing

I’ve cleaned up my office, including the windows and my variety of prisms in the window. Though the pictures don’t do it justice, I now have rainbows dancing about the room as soon as the sun comes around. They even shine down the hall and into the kitchen 🙂

Guardians of the DeskMy druid

Just thought I’d show you the few things I have on my desk. The gargoyle is there to chase away distractions. The miniature is a hold over from my gaming days. This was my druid. I painted her myself, replete with ink washes, dry-brushing, and enough lacquer to protect her for over twenty years 😉


Phil and I found this heart shaped rock in the back yard. I don’t know why, but I like it. So it’s on my desk.

I also have to have plants. My African violets appear to be happy. This year, I’ve added an orchid to the mix and it seems to like the spot, too.


I’ve decided not to travel for this batch of leave, since the true purpose of it is to rest and rejuvenate so I can return to work and not feel that it’s the last place I want to be.

The driveway and yard are still a mess. The remediation of Regent Street has begun (soil and sod, prepping the storm drains for the final layer of pavement) but since our property requires some extensive work, a few things have had to be organized first.

We’re supposed to have a sewer line inspection done in the near future. The city engineer visited and suggested that in might be more economical to insert a “sleeve” into the old sewer pipe than to dig it up and replace it. We’re hoping that’s possible, but will have to wait on the results of the video inspection.

The retaining wall has to be finished, the railing erected, and our front entry rebuilt. Even though they’d taken the old set of stairs and moved them into the back yard, we can’t use them again. The bottom step would lead people off the end of the retaining wall (!)

The new steps will run around the corner of the house and into what is now a garden. I’ll have to find a new place for all my plants.

Depending on whether we can get away with an insert into the sewer pipe, or have to dig up and replace the line, we my have enough money to ask the sub-contractor who builds the front stairs to build the side entry as well. If not, we may rebuild it ourselves, but we wouldn’t be looking forward to the work.

The drive will be repaved when the retaining wall is finished.

So there are a number of dominoes that have to fall into place for things to actually proceed.

In the back yard, Phil has dismantled the old front steps and, along with the pressure-treated lumber salvaged from my mom’s deck replacement last year, he’ll be using the bits and pieces to enclose our patio, back fill with stone and gravel, and we’ll finally get to use the space again.

I’m so looking forward to having my summer office again. I didn’t get to use it at all last year.

I’ll be moving the plants from the garden by the house into the gardens around the patio. Now that the birches have been removed, there’s enough sun for the plants to thrive.

Bucket has now . . . kicked the bucket. The repairs necessary to keep her on the road were beyond Phil and we made the decision to count his purchase as a poor investment and cut our losses.

A farewell to bucketBuh-bye, la!

He is, of course, on the hunt for a new(er) truck, but will wait to see how much we might be investing in the sewer pipe lining/replacement before we commit to spending more.

Nuala is doing well. We continue to take her in for the occasional glucose curve, but her diabetes seems to be managed, and her other health issues well in hand. She just turned 10 this year.


And that’s about all I can tell you about this writer’s life at the moment.

Sundog snippet

Bits and pieces

A.K.A. catching up on a bunch of stuff.

First of all, happy Valentine’s Day, to all of you lovely people out there!


They say you’re not learning unless you’re failing. I must be learning BIG TIME at work these days.

That’s all I’m going to day about that.


On February 1st, St. Brigid’s Day, or Imbolc, I attended Wooing the Soul, a day-long workshop and storytelling session intended to help women connect with their inner goddess. I enjoyed the storytelling, which was based on The Wooing of Etain. We danced, we sang, we invoked the spirit of Brigid, saint and goddess, and we shared food and experience.

I reconnected with a few friends whose circles I’ve moved away from in the past years.

While it was a good day, I found it was a bit long. I kept finding myself thinking, I could be writing, which is, incidentally, how I connect with my inner goddess. It’s a problem I have. Instead of talking about something, or listening to others talk about it, I’d rather be doing it 😛

I won’t write more about the day because others have done a better job than I could, namely, my friend Kim Fahner on her Republic of Poetry blog, and the facilitator herself, Ann Kathleen McLaughlin, on her blog, SophiAwakens.

Training of a different sort

On February 3rd, I delivered a workshop on getting published for the Northern Initiative for Social Action (NISA) as part of their Arts Intensive art education week.

I haven’t delivered a creative workshop in some time and I was looking forward to it. I’d love the opportunity to do more of these in the future. *hint, hint, universe*

I was far more nervous than I usually am before a training gig, which is to say I was a bit of a wreck, but the class was an intimate group.

The workshop was only two hours, and I had trouble keeping things on track, because the training I deliver for work is rarely less than a day. It wasn’t too bad, however, as the class was largely not at the querying stage yet, so the fact that I wasn’t able to discuss that aspect of getting published at length wasn’t a huge issue.

I also shared my notes and PowerPoint after the class, so everyone received all the bits I wasn’t able to discuss at length in the class.

I’m quite happy with how things turned out.

There are always lessons learned attached to any learning event, though, and I’ve got those tucked away for next time 🙂

The writing life

In writing news, I received my second rejection of a short story this year. I try to take the view that I am one more rejection closer to ‘yes,’ but honestly, things that been going so poorly in general of late that it’s been a little difficult to maintain a positive outlook.

Still, I continue to forge ahead with writing, revising, and submitting. It’s what we writers do.


Nuala had another glucose curve back in January and the result is that we increased her insulin by four units a day and tried reducing her prednisone.

The former is working well (we think) but we had to resume her previous dosage of pred as her ears were beginning to close up again.

Otherwise, our pup-child is doing well and we’ll return to the vet in March for another glucose curve and general checkup.

A clarification on the dream thing

I just wanted to be clear that I have ‘normal’ dreams, too.

The other night, for example, I dreamed that my sister-in-law invited herself over to our house for a sleepover, which was to take place, at her request, in the storage area of our unfinished basement, which barely has room for us to stand or move around in, let alone three adults and camping gear—oh, didn’t I mention, the sleepover was actually a camp-out, in the middle of one of the coldest winters we’ve had recently, in an uninsulated basement with a drafty window . . .

I’ve also had work-related dreams in which the office has moved into a shopping mall and I’m there, after hours, with Phil, moving my own office furniture. I’m wearing a power suit, have short, dark hair, and I’m skinny in that way only women who spend several hours a day working out are skinny. But I’m still me. No one else is there.

Or, I’ve dreamed that my boss gets a promotion, and she invites me along for the ride, literally, as she’s boarding a Lear jet and I’ve been summoned to the runway on the assumption that, of course, I’ll want to drop everything and go.

Inside the jet, she lounges like Cleopatra, a platoon of virile, young military men seeing to her every desire. I wish her well and get the heck out of Dodge, happy to have escaped the ‘trap.’ Oh yes. Hellish trap, that would be . . .

I’ve had stress dreams, falling dreams, chase dreams, abandonment dreams, and nightmares I’m not going to repeat, because, while they are all perfectly clear in my memory, I don’t want to feed those particular beasts.

It’s just those rare few per year that are well developed stories in their own rights that have little, if anything, to do with my waking life.

Just so you know. I’m mostly normal. Mostly (she says in a voice like Newt’s in Aliens).

So that’s it for this week. My mom’s coming over for supper in a bit, and then I’m going to throw my hat in the ring of another writing contest.

Break a pencil in all of your creative endeavours this week!


Caturday quickie, part the second: Pupdate

The last time I offered a pupdate, Nuala had been diagnosed with diabetes, we had a VetPen, but were having difficulty regulating her blood sugar. We’d also stopped the prednisone and started an alternate treatment, cyclosporin.

Well, after three glucose curves, her blood sugar is still not regulated, but the vet feels that clinically, she’s doing fine. The stress of a day-long stay at the vet’s may have an impact on her glucose readings, however. So we’re continuing her treatment of 16 units of insulin twice a day.

We ended up returning the VetPen as the maximum dose on it is 16 units and we may have to increase her dosage again, depending on how her symptoms are managed. Phil and I are much more comfortable with syringes anyway, having had previous experience with our cat, Thufir (the caturday quickie mascot).

The cyclosporin was not working and her ears (which the pred and the cyclosporin were prescribed to treat) were once again full of cysts. She had an abscess in one ear, as evidenced by the amount of pus that came out of it, and so the vet has recommended a return to the pred. We have to monitor her water intake and urination and may have to adjust her insulin accordingly . . . because . . .

Nu is once more a piddle pup, incontinence being one of several side effects of the pred. We now have washable incontinence pads made for humans on the bed and the couch, and are otherwise tolerating the occasional dribble. She can’t help it, poor dear.

Other than that, she’s on Fortekor for her proteinurea.

That’s our complex pup in a nutshell.

After only a few days on the pred, her ear cysts are shrinking again, and she seems quite happy.

Nuala December 2014

This is seriously the best picture I could get of her. She’s absurdly camera shy (!)

Our aim is quality of life. She’s nine and a half, even though we still refer to her as the pup.

I hope this will be the last pupdate for a while.

Caturday Quickies

Caturday quickie: Things and stuff are happening


On Monday, Union Gas retrenched the gas line, as promised. Plus, we got a lovely new meter out of it. We’d just had our meter upgraded last year, but this one’s even nicer 😉

Tuesday passed without much activity, but a huge chunk of a cliff fell onto Regent Street the week previous and we figured the crew was occupied elsewhere. A jumbo (rock drill) appeared in the driveway, however.

Wednesday, the foreman dropped by to talk to my mom (she lives right beside us). He was going to talk to Phil and me after work.

By the time we got home, the front steps had been relocated beside the house, and our rosebushes and honeysuckle torn out.


My steps are beside themselves 😛

The foreman came by, as promised, and advised that they would be drilling holes in the rock to prepare for blasting on Friday. We took him down to see the piece of the rock that was in our basement, and he advised us to take down anything fragile or valuable. While his aim was not to damage anything, they would be blasting.

They were drilling tonnes of holes and packing smaller amounts of explosive into each to break up the rock, but not carry the damage to the foundation.


Thursday was Nuala’s next glucose curve. We dropped her off and discovered that while she looks to be in much better physical shape, she’d actually lost a half kilogram from last week. We think she’s rebuilding muscle.

When we went back to pick Nuala up at 6:30, we learned that she’d been a clinic dog for the day. After two hours in the kennel, she wouldn’t stop pawing at the bars. The vet, remembering her Houdini of last week, said, “She’s not staying in there. Might as well let her out.”

Nu spent most of the day in the vet’s office, or wandering the back room.

Her sugars were still too high, so we were advised to up her insulin dose by another unit and come back in three weeks for another curve.

We’re using the VetPen now and it’s supposed to be better with respect to ensuring a consistent dosage of insulin, but we still feel more confident in our ability to draw a proper syringe. Maybe it will just take a little getting used to.


The drilling was done on Thursday evening.

On Friday, I was home sick, but the blasting started, as scheduled.

The City Engineer came by and I signed off on the plans. He explained that there might be further delays as the person completing their retaining walls was behind by a few weeks. The plans for a full height retaining wall with railing are still going forward, however.

They’re even selecting a railing colour to harmonize with our house, either in a sand, or dark brown.

Our driveway will be fully repaved, with proper substrate, and the two water shut-off pipes will be repaired.

The foreman came by before every blast and asked if I wouldn’t be more comfortable outside the house. I assured him I would be fine. And I was, but the actual shockwave from the blast was something else. I felt the whole house do the wave 🙂


So this is how things look now. As you can see, the rock is all nicely broken up and they left the blast mats in place to keep things more or less tidy until they come back to clear things out on Tuesday.


And that’s where we are.

Phil and I are going to enjoy our Thanksgiving long weekend.

Tonight is Doctor Who night 🙂

Caturday Quickies

Sundog snippet: Chaotic life is chaotic

I will try to keep this a snippet, but there’s a lot happening these days.


The uncertainty continues.

My former manager is continuing in her acting position as senior manager until December 31. In the meantime, one acting manager has yielded to another, this time, a colleague, talented and deserving.

Two other friends from the consultant pool have been appointed to training coordinator, the position I held as an acting consultant for sixteen months. One of my friends will be handling coordination for my business line and the other for another business line. I’m very happy for them. The position will teach them a lot.

The new training is well underway. I delivered the Sudbury session the second and third weeks in September. Then I mentored a couple of acting advisors on our team to help them learn the way we monitor our new agents, post-training.

I’ll be doing a little more mentoring, and taking on the supervision of an agent returning to work.

Then I’ll be getting ready for the next round of training in November. After that, I’m not really sure what’s going to happen.

I got my projects from the summer done, but beyond that, I don’t know if anything more will come of them.

With all the major players in acting roles, we can’t really do more than react.

Phil’s got his own burden at work, but it’s not my story to tell, so I’ll have to leave it at that.

Usually, when things are going well for me at work, they go poorly for him, and vice versa. Now we both seem to be in a bit of a jam.


The city engineer stopped by my mom’s last week. Apparently, Union Gas will be by to bury the gas line properly again on Monday.

The Gas Line

Then, the rock will be blasted out. As you can see, the blasting mats are already in place.

The Blasting Mats

Then, they’ll be tearing up the driveway and repaving and, I suppose, getting the retaining wall up.

The engineer is supposed to be coming by with the work order for Phil to sign off on. He says he has a lovely railing for the top of the retaining wall.

You know about Nuala’s troubles from last week’s post. She’s making headway, but after the first glucose curve, the vet increased her dosage of insulin. Her sugars were too high. We’re in a holding pattern there until this Thursday, when we’ll take Nu in for her next glucose curve.

Phil and I are growing accustomed to our new schedule, but between that, the gloomy weather we’ve been having, and work uncertainty, we’re both exhausted.

At least, I’ll have my normal salary to look forward to for the next six months or so. We have some hefty vet bills to pay off.


As you may have guessed from my Next Chapter post, I’m trying to focus my energies on my writing. It’s what keeps me sane.

Unfortunately, trying to cram everything in tends to wear me out. I know this, and still, I do it.

When a writing friend came to town last month, I’d intended to meet her. She was reading at my mom’s church on the Sunday and then at the Public Library on the Thursday.

On Sunday, I was feeling poorly and decided not to go. I’m not big into church these days anyway. The week of her visit was also one of two weeks of training I was delivering. When Thursday arrived, I got home from work and essentially collapsed. It wasn’t until after nine that I realized I had missed her presentation.

More recently, I wanted to get out to the launch of an art show another friend was having, but events conspired against me and I couldn’t get away.

It really is true that life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.


I have a number of friends going through tough times.

They say news, whether bad or good, is supposed to come in threes, but it’s been far more than that, and since I’m such a hermit these days, I often don’t know what’s happened until after the fact.

I can only give them my moral support in most situations and wish them well.

I sincerely hope all of this misfortune comes to an end soon and that life resumes a better balance for everyone.

And that’s where I’ll leave you, with my very best wishes for a speedy recovery, a soothing of grief, a securing of contentment, if not happiness, and a world of ease to all your troubles. This, too, shall pass.

The warmest of hugs to you all.

Sundog snippet

Pupdate, part the whatever

It’s been a while since I’ve posted one of these. Phil and I had, foolishly, fell into complacency, having felt that the worst of Nuala’s troubles were behind us.

Not so, apparently.

When we had seen the veterinarian in June, following up on Nuala’s persistently inflamed and fibrocystic ear canals, we had been sent home with Nu on a regimen on low dose prednisone and periodic flushing of the problematic canals with TryzEDTA. She would be due for further blood tests in September to follow up on her kidney function and liver function to see how she was tolerating the pred.

September hit and Nuala started to behave poorly again. Her ears started to throw off more crud/pus, and we thought we’d up her pred for a bit to see if we could clear it up. She became listless and her bladder control was practically non-existent. She also started to drink a lot of water. A lot. It was so bad that I’d have to restrain her from drinking from puddles when we walked. We had to remember to keep the toilet lid down.

We noticed she was losing weight, too. We theorized, because we both knew the symptoms, that she might be diabetic, but I preferred to remain in denial for a while and hoped that her difficulties resulted from an existing condition that we could treat.

I thought initially that we could wait until the vet called for her follow up blood work, but week before last, we decided we couldn’t wait any longer and made an appointment for this Tuesday just past.

We brought in a urine sample as well, just in case. Turns out it was good that we did.

The first thing we did upon entering the office was to weigh her. It’s something we do every time. If there is any medication to be doled out or adjusted, the vet needs to know her weight.

She was 25 kilograms. The last time we’d weighed her in June, she was 31.4 kilograms. That was a shock.

In the examination room, though he confirmed the increased inflammation/infection in her ears and her poor physical condition, the vet said that we were to return to the lower dosage of pred with an eye to eliminating it altogether. Pred can apparently exacerbate the onset of diabetes. Joy.

He said that his immediate diagnosis would be diabetes, but that he’d actually like to perform the tests to confirm his diagnosis before prescribing anything.

Wednesday, Phil received the call at work: Nu was indeed diabetic, and there were ketones in her urine.

Now, for those of you who don’t know, this is bad. It means that Nu had depleted her fat stores and that her body was now consuming her muscle mass in an attempt to compensate for her inability to metabolize sugar properly.

I noticed that she had been a bit unsteady on her pegs in the last couple of days.

So, we both took off work early on Thursday to get back to see the vet before he left for the day. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to get the insulin pen and supplies he wanted for Nu, but he had some canine insulin and syringes that had been returned by another client. She’d need 12 units of insulin, morning and night.

We were also given new food, a diabetic diet, and advised to feed Nu between three and four cans of it a day (she was doing well on a half a can and a cup of kibble a day before) to bring her weight back up.

And finally, I’ll be taking her back in this coming Tuesday for a glucose curve to see how she’s doing and if we have to adjust the dosage or the food in the next little bit.

In the three days she’s been on the insulin, I’m happy to say that Nuala is already looking better, drinking less, peeing in the house less, and enjoying her usual activities (like eating garbage on our morning walks) again.

The hope is that getting the diabetes under control will also reduce the stress on Nu’s body and reduce the inflammation in her ears, if nothing else. Otherwise, it’s a game of wait and see. We’ll address her health issues as required, moving forward.

This is not new territory for Phil and me. Our cat, Thufir, was diabetic for the last three years of his life. Plus, Phil was a medical laboratory technician in a past career, so he’s cool with the whole injection thing.

The unfortunate part for me is that Nu needs her insulin an hour before her meals, morning and night. So . . . there will be no more sleeping in for Mellie on the weekends. I’ll either have to take up napping (something I’ve never been good at) or try to find some other way to recover from my weekly sleep deficit from working.

Something tells me I shouldn’t have decided to defer my leave with income averaging until the spring.

The important thing is that Nuala is on the road to recovery again.

I hope I won’t be writing another pupdate for some time. My poor dear has been through quite enough.

Next week: I’ll be posting my Next Chapter monthly update. There are still a few days left in the month and I want to make the most of them 🙂

So, this dog walks into a writer’s office and says, “Whatchya up to?”

Hell month, meet the week of epic . . . stuff

A.K.A. Where the hell has Mel been?

To preface this, admittedly lengthy, post, I have to admit that my “problems” are all of the first world variety. Also, as with all problems, I’m generally the author of my own misery. Even with events over which I have no control, I can still control my reaction to them. While I’m usually good at this, occasionally things stack up in such a way that I end up overwhelmed and unable to function. Then, I simply have to reposition, admit that the universe is trying to tell me something, and adjust my attitude appropriately.

Sometimes that means letting a few things go for a bit.

That’s the short version.

The long version follows.

What I thought I Mothers’ Day weekend would look like

At the beginning of this month, all I knew about Mothers’ Day weekend was that a friend was doing a Twitterview on Saturday at noon, and that I would be heading out to my sister-in-law’s for Mothers’ Day supper Sunday afternoon.

Outside my house

Outside my house

The city has started to work on Regent Street, the main traffic artery that borders the west side of my property. This has been a minor inconvenience, but since they’ve been tearing up a different part of the street every day, it’s been difficult to know which detour will actually get me and Phil home after work.

This municipal project will be ongoing until the snow flies and the ground frost shuts things down. I’d accepted the inconvenience. This work has to be done. All the catch basins, storm drains, and water supply lines will be replaced. The traffic and street lights will be replaced. It’s just going to be very dusty and noisy in the interim.

Construction panoramic

Google’s auto-awesome is so cool. It made a panoramic shot out of my pictures!

My mother is getting some work done at her house. The roof of the carport, upon which a deck had been built years ago, was leaking, and in a driving rain, water would run down the wall in her entry and on two occasions, it has trickled through to the light fixture in the hall and burst the bulb.

Construction at Mom's

Construction at Mom’s

She got several quotes and settled on a solution which involved removing the wooden deck and the gravel and tar beneath, sloping the surface for drainage purposes, installing cement backer board, new membrane, a thin layer of concrete, a non-slip surface, and new, aluminium railings. All of the new materials will be water-tight, up-to-code, and weigh much less than the layers of tar, gravel, and the substantial wooden deck that was there.

On May first, I signed up for an introductory month with Having thrown my back out last month, it was important that I start doing something to get back into shape. Though I haven’t attended a tonne of classes and have had to rearrange my schedule a few times, I’ve already seen the benefits with regard to the way I feel. I’m strengthening my core and stretching my joints. It’s a good thing.

Early in the month, I had also looked into changing insurance providers (house and automobile). I found a quote that Phil and I were happy with, and had planned to call on May 10 to finalize things.

So I expected a busy weekend. I just wasn’t prepared for a confluence of events to derail my plans.

Complications arise

At the end of last month, I applied for membership in, and was accepted into, SF Canada. I soon learned through the listserv that the online annual general meeting (AGM) would be held on the afternoon of May 10, starting at 2 pm. No problem, I thought, there will be ample time for me to attend both the Twitterview and the AGM and still get the insurance finalized.

Then a friend’s spouse died and the viewing/funeral was also scheduled for Saturday, at 1 pm. At that point, I knew I’d have to miss the Twitterview, but I had to go support my friend. I also set aside the insurance. Though there might have been time, I didn’t want to cram too many things into one day.

The final straw was good thing. The weekend previous, I finally ordered the adjustable desk I’ve been thinking about for a long time. The company, Candesk, is Canadian and offered the best value for the quality and price. I had only paid for standard ground shipping, but shortly received a notification from FedEx indicating that they were handling the shipping.

I can only think that the Guy Viner, the man behind Candesk, upgraded my shipping. Many thanks for that grace.

I got the call on Friday from my mom. The desk had arrived. I emailed Phil and suggested that we not spend all of what was already promising to be a busy weekend dealing with the deskage, but Phil wanted to get to it, he said, so we wouldn’t be tied up beyond the weekend.

Plans change

Upon arriving home, I promptly cancelled my yoga class, and got to work emptying out my existing desk. The plan was for Phil to set it up in his office space downstairs. He needed the real estate, he said. Phil also got to work emptying out his old desk, dismantling it, and taking the bits out to the pick up for a future trip to the dump.

Then, he took a nap.

After a brief break, I continued the emptiage, storing the contents of my desk in tubs and boxes and in stacks on the dining room table and coffee table.

I decided that I wouldn’t go online that night.

Out of the box

Out of the box

Mom was going out for brunch with friends and cancelled our Saturday morning breakfast date. So that morning, after a breakfast of bacon and eggs (there have to be some compensations), Phil and I got to work dismantling my big desk and moving its parts into the basement. We started to put my new desk together, but I then had to get ready to go to the viewing.

Upon my return, I promptly fired up my computer, temporarily relocated to the dining room table, and joined the SF Canada AGM. It was three hours. It was also very interesting, and I may have gotten myself noted for a committee or two. No word yet on when said committees will be struck, who will be on them, or what work will be required.

The desk assembled

The desk assembled

Phil had, in the meantime, finished assembling the desk, and after the AGM, we relocated it in its destined position.

I then started working on rearranging the remainder of the office, moving book shelves, dusting, and emptying out the wooden filing cabinet I got from Kim last year.

That jewel has been sitting in the living room, serving as storage for CDs, DVDs, and board games. Now it would be moving into its proper place, in my office.

I determined that blogging was probably not going to happen that weekend.

Checking email, I noticed that I’d received a request from the editor of Bastion Magazine for further revisions to my short story. I made a note and hoped not to forget.

On Sunday, after French toast with Mom, I resumed the work. I attached the computer cradle and cable minder to the desk and set up my computer. Phil had to help me move the filing cabinet into the office. Then came the work of trying to get all the stuff I’d unpacked from the old desk into the filing cabinet.

The desk at sitting height

The desk at sitting height

The desk at standing height

The desk at standing height

My old/Phil's new desk

My old/Phil’s new desk

I didn’t get it all done before leaving for my sister-in-law’s.

Mothers’ Day dinner was lovely and the day was so pleasant that we ended up sitting outside until the sun had almost set. We also got a bucket of potatoes and some eggs. My sister-in-law’s partner is a farmer 🙂

We got home in time to watch Game of Thrones, and then I set to on the revisions to my story.

Off to the races

The week at worked promised to be a hectic one: meetings, overviews of the new performance management process and program, training, the onset of monitoring, and working group meetings.

Hectic might be an understatement.

It was also raining. All week long.

When we got home from work, I went into the basement to put a couple of winter coats in storage and find Phil’s spring jacket. I also found an inch of water on the floor.

I later confirmed with my mother, who had lived in the house since she and my father bought it from my grandparents when I was two years old, that it was the first flood she’d ever known about. The first flood in 42 years.

I grabbed a mop and bucket while Phil got the sump pump in order. Though we’d had it for 15 or 16 years (since a basement repair required its installation), we’d never had to use it. The pipe expelled into the garden, and Phil had to dig it up and extend it to the driveway.

He temporarily rigged up an old vacuum cleaner hose, ran across to the hardware store, and got the tubing and clamps he required.

Phil later explained that with our unusually long, cold, and snowy winter, the ground frost was high enough to prevent the water from running through as it normally would.

Monday night, work on my office resumed at a much slower pace, I went to yoga, and then revised my story one last time for Bastion.

On Tuesday, we had a vet appointment for Nuala. Good news there. Nu is on a reduction plan for her prednisone, and her ears have continued in fair health.

The contract for Bastion arrived and I filled it out and returned it.

By Thursday night, I had almost everything sorted, but by then, the week of epic stuff had taken so much out of me, I got sick. Go figure.

I made good use of my day at home and finalized the insurance arrangements.

And today, I was ready to get back on the social media horse and resume blogging.

So that’s the story of my epic week of stuff, a week that wore me out more than hell month. Some of it was good, and some of it was bad, but all of it was epic. It’s always a mixed bag here at writerly goodness.