Thursday, October 28, 2021

Gratitude #57 Mostly About Xena

Welcome again to my monthly post of gratitude. If you'd like to read more uplifting posts from around the globe, head to LeeAnna's blog, Not Afraid of Color where she writes a weekly post, and others link up theirs. It will definitely lift your spirits; often these things we all note are simple things, don't cost much, if anything.

1. I am grateful for a very wise and experienced dog trainer named Maggie Mason, highly recommended by my friend Liz. About three weeks ago we went to her, at our wits' end with Xena. Walking her had taken a severe downturn, she was still charging and barking at Bella, and she was so fixated on the truck. A ride somewhere in it seemed to regress her, and she would withdraw, become aloof and anxious. Well. The one-on-one time with Maggie was invaluable in that she gave us a couple of pointers, was able to observe Xena and evaluate her, both outside and inside her facility, and said that although it was clear she'd been very abused, she knew there was a very good dog in there. I had realized within a few days of having Xena that she'd been on a chain for probably most of her life; her paw sensitivity and dexterity with her legs when the leash wrapped around them, and wherewithal to extract her leg(s), even literally doing a little handstand to hop over her leash (we'd kept her on leash in the house for the first several days as she acclimated to us and us to her) had made it click. Well, Maggie observed from the way her neck skin wrinkles from time to time that she had not one but two or possibly three chains around her neck... Maggie gave us some puppy training stuff to work through, since she figures she never really got to be a puppy, and said to call us in a few weeks when she should be more ready for training.

Well. The next day I suggested we walk together, all four of us, instead of one of us taking Xena, and one taking Rufus. MacGyver reluctantly agreed; we don't walk well together. My natural pace is much faster than his, and the dogs often play off one another which aggravates his rather short fuse of patience. So, off we went. Well, not quite like that, as Xena did NOT want to leave the house or 'her' truck, but with some liver treats (Maggie said treat, treat, treat), and the fact Rufus was leaving too, as well as both of us, she did come along.

From that very walk, it was a revolution in her behaviour and progress. A lightbulb went on in her head. It's been uphill ever since: she is much less reluctant to leave home, she is HAPPY as she trots along, tail up in the air, wagging, she's smiling in that wrinkled cheeks way that bulldogs do, we don't have to treat her as much on the walk, and her at-home behaviour has markedly changed. She's more affectionate; she comes OFTEN to give us kisses, sashaying her hips, wagging her tail, all wriggly; asking us to sit with her on the dedicated quadruped loveseat, she lets us hug her for short periods, LOVES my nightly jaw, cheek and head massages, even rolls back for short, very short, belly rubs. It's like she has established in her doggy mind that we are a pack. She seems, little by little, to be realizing this is her HOME. She's even instigated some play with Rufus, she has regular zoomies (mostly outside...), and she's actually sort of figured out how to play with a ball! Before, she'd just look at me, like huh? What is that? Why are you looking at me like that? Go get it if you want it.

I have to tell you the story that is behind that beautiful photo. On that day, October 22, we were closing the pool, which is a job that requires both of us. At first we had the dogs inside while we organized the cover and the little holders, and how far apart we'd need to space them... once we were underway, I let the dogs out as it was a beautiful fall day. They played and visited us, and sniffed and peed. They also rolled. MacGyver noticed it first on Xena, some brown skid marks on her white fur. I saw some on Rufus's shoulder. We kept going for a bit, and then... it was MacGyver again who noticed Xena, covered in brown 'dirt' and when we got closer to her, O. M. G. she REEKED. So uh, it wasn't sandy soil. It wasn't cat poop; it smelled like pig poop, no worse, like an entire barnyard, and believe me, I know from experience what both of the above smell like. We've since determined it probably was opossum poop, from the description of how it smells.
Rufus got right in on it, helping to clean her up...

So, out came the car washing big mitt, out came the car washing bucket, filled with warm water and Blue Dawn. MacGyver had read they use it to clean oil off wildlife, so we thought it would help in this case. Three buckets later, and she still smelled. Because we were out of dog shampoo, I thought I'd use some of my own, just a bit, mind you, and that is what finally seemed to help. We had her blocked off on the upper deck, and she was mostly pretty good, though she did run away a bit from us even though the water was warm, and we actually dumped the remainder of the bucket on her to rinse her each time. I towel-dried her off, using two big towels, let her shake and shake. Can you imagine her thoughts? "I covered myself in this bee-yoo-tee-full Chanel No. 0-possum, and you're washing it off???"

Anyhow, it was around 13-14C that day, with in and out sun, so MacGyver finished up the one side of putting on the cover, and I went in to straighten up and put shampoo, towels away. I came back in a few minutes to notice Xena was shivering a little, so I got another towel, dried her again, and brought her in. I got a bathmat to put on her loveseat so she could snuggle down there. Meanwhile, Rufus had been busy 'helping' us while we washed her, licking away on her, even before we got the bucket out (GROSS!), and he continued to lick her while she did the same to herself as well. 

Several minutes later, I noticed that she was shivering, quite a lot, even inside the house, and I realized that well, hello, she, like Rocco, has 'piggy' fur, as in nearly none, a pink belly, and she'd basically gone swimming in pretty cool weather, and couldn't warm up. So, on went the furnace, first time we turned it on, but she was still shivering even after it ran for a while.

Then I thought, Rocco. His 'Don't Bully My Breed' hoodie Dayna had bought him! I know how after a shower in the winter, I feel chilled, but putting on pjs and a warm hoodie and slippers can help me warm up in no time. A quilt on top of me is also most helpful! So I found his hoodie and got it on her no problem. Just a few months ago, it would've been a rodeo to do that. I eventually zipped it up, (always a bit tricky as it's under their belly, and hadn't been used for at least a year 😢so it was a bit stiff) and although her first steps were à la Lippizzan horse, she soon adapted and wore it until she went to bed. She stopped shivering not long after I got it zipped up.

She is more vocal these last few weeks too! I do hope she will one day 'woo-woo' like Rocco and our very first dog, Rex, used to. Visit Maisy the Barn Hippo for a rendition of woo-wooing if you have no clue what this sounds like. Each night in her bed in her crate (still crated at night for Bella's safety), she's started 'talking' to me for the first few minutes while I'm trying to read! It's adorable. Last night in her after-supper zoomies around the yard (one short lap) she did a growly-talky sound too!

Anyhow, all this to say I'm grateful for her presence in our lives, even though I still feel frustrated and annoyed at her for still giving Bella a hard time. That continues to lessen, but she will still 'arf' at her and lunge, but it is not as mean-sounding as before, and she always always stops instantly we yell, "UH!"
At Seacliff Beach, Leamington

2. I'm grateful for having such a gorgeous beach a mere 8 km away from home that is dog-friendly, with an adjoining pier and beautiful walkway along the marina.
Stunning dahlias

3. I'm grateful that I spotted this gorgeous katydid on October 13.

Such a gorgeous green!
Someone commented on Instagram that they thought she might be full of eggs with a large belly like that. It's the first time I've ever seen one like this, so 🤷

4. I'm grateful, though I hope it's normal and not more climate change occurrences, that the hummingbirds stayed until October 8. I will keep track better from now on. I always did in Alberta, where they'd leave mid-August.

5. Books: the best read by far this month, and I'm still living in it in my head, even though I've started Margaret Atwood's The Testaments, was The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. No wonder it won the Pulitzer back in 2014. I had to suspend the hold on Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga until Nov. 4 to let the next person I line read it, as it took me awhile to get through the nearly 800 pages of the book. I should mention an excellent YA series, the first of which I read when I was still teaching, by Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children. I read two more, the fourth and fifth, in October, so now have the sixth, the conclusion of the series, to read. 

6. TV: I started and finished Ted Lasso, and highly recommend this series. I cannot wait for Season 3. It is a feel-good massage-for-your-spirit of a TV show, with some great humour along the way. (Good does triumph over evil. Yes it does, MacGyver.) I have one episode left in Sort Of, "the ground-breaking series co-created by Bilal Baig, a Muslim, who identifies as queer and transfeminine, and whose pronouns are they/them" (Source: CBC). They are also the lead. Here is the trailer on YouTube. Bet you like it, and bet you burst out laughing.
'Like Mary Poppins?' 😂

7. I'm grateful for a day trip we did to Grand Bend, ON. We'd hoped there would be more colours there as it's two hours north of us, but it was still really green.
Lake Huron just past Sarnia

I love weeping willows.
On the banks of the St. Clair River

8. This has been one of the most interrupted posts I've written! I nearly forgot this like/love:: I love learning, about everything, but especially about things in my own backyard, so to speak. On our trip to Grand Bend, both on the way up and back, we spied these 'potatoes'? sweet potatoes? yams? some sort of melons? all of which do grow here, but they were ginormous. On the way home, MacGyver pulled off onto a side road so we could get a photo, and I sent it to Cindy of Stitchin at Home, because she's a farmer in southwestern Ontario, and so I figured she could clue us in. One of MacGyver's guesses had been sugar beets, but he wasn't sure at all about that either. Well, turns out he was right! I hope you get the idea for those of you who've never seen them either, of just how humongous they really are. And these PILES they were harvesting--! Thank you Cindy!

9. Finally, I am grateful for the sunrise that greeted me this morning as I came out of the gym where I teach yoga. The photo just does not do it justice. Such an incredible sight. How can we not want to take better care of this incredible planet, even if it costs us more money?


  1. Oh I am so glad that Xena is getting more comfortable and starting to settle in. Yep Bobbin occasionally finds something really stinky to roll in. After a bath, and a good shake and zoomies we are always wrapped in a quilt especially during cold weather. Lots of great likes.

  2. Such great news about Xena's progress! I loved that your dog trainer friend could tell there was a good dog inside her. Thanks for sharing the beautiful area where you live, too!

  3. That is wonderful news that Xena is starting to come out and blossom more. Sounds like your visit with Maggie was more than worth it. And that sunrise; I can only imagine how stunning it really was in person!

  4. It is so good to read that Xena is starting to settle into her loving home. She looks so good in her hoodie!

  5. Hi Sandra! Love every bit of the Xena story except for the poop. Of course, why not rub that all over oneself?! Eau de opossum, indeed. Lovely other gratitude shares - the Lake (!!), the sunrise, and sugar beets. Who knew?!! {{Hugs}} ~smile~ Roseanne

  6. I loved this post. Thank you. Wonderful progress with Xena

  7. beautiful travel! yes, it's suger beets's season in France too!