Miss Night's Marbles

Musings, mumbles, marvels, and sometimes mockery, live from kindergarten.

#Kinderblog, Day 3. The highlights reel…

Aren’t you folks lucky – 2 blog posts for you, in just a single night! (Second one coming up shortly, I promise!)…

Day 3 of the #kinderblog post-a-day challenge asked us to write about the very best things about 2013. Because I love me some bullets, here you go:

  • I spent 5 days in Vegas with my buddies MattBGomez and JonFines. We had THE. BEST. TIME. Chrissy was there, too, and significantly contributed to The Awesome.
  • While in Vegas, I got to meet Audrey Penn, the author of The Kissing Hand. I was so awed and starstruck that I cried a little bit.

 

  • I spent 2 weeks at my very favourite place on earth, with my favourite people on earth, with my dear little Skip, and we visited SO MUCH beauty on the way there and back.

 

  • My teaching intern from last year “graduated” into her own classroom, and I get to watch her be amazing every day.
  • I got my new job (on the dark side, in admin), the kind of job I have wanted for a long time.
  • I SAW RAFFI IN CONCERT!!!

 

  • I got to hang out at conferences in Calgary and Vancouver, with some of my favourite #kinderchat friends, including @mauimickey, @mmekathleen,  @learningmurd, and @namesescapeme.
  • The Flood revealed all the things I love very best about my city, and made the most proud I have EVER been to have been born and raised here.


 


I just realised that, in writing about the BEST  parts of 2013, I included 2 of the WORST parts: the flood, and losing Skip. I hadn’t wanted to write about heartbreak, fear, tears, anger, here. Both of those events – one so hugely public, the other so intensely private – shook me to my very core, brought me to my knees, and are indelible marks of what 2013 meant. I’m not going to go down the trite, condescending, smug, road of silver linings or closed doors/opened windows. But I will say this:

Many years ago, a friend gave me a card that said

“Everything will be okay in the end.

If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

2013, you were okay.

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With his ears cut short and his tail cut long…

**Updated October 19th, with NEW! PICTURES! Feel free to vote again!

Ok. So. The new puppy.

Through  a convoluted grapevine of events, about a week after I lost Skip, I got a phone call. From a dog breeder.

Not just any breeder, but a breeder of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

No big deal, except: they were the only other breed I seriously considered when I got Skip.

No pressure, she said. Just wanted to chat. She had a feeling I would  be a great home for a Cavalier.

She had a feeling.

No puppies just then, current litter all spoken for. Another litter coming in November. Should she keep in touch, put me on the list?

Sure. Put me on the list. What the heck.

A few nights later, sitting in my empty lonely too-quiet, too-dark house, with tears that would not stop, my heart so broken, my arms and lap so empty, physically aching from missing my little dog who never came home. Very very sure this was NEVER going to get easier. The hours would always feel this long, the house always this empty.

Literally in the middle of a sob, an e-mail:

One of the current puppies, suddenly available. He was mine if I wanted him. She — the breeder —  had a feeling I needed him, he needed me.

She had a feeling.

A quick, tearful, fervent, yes. The next weekend, a family trip, 2 hours up the highway, to meet her — the breeder.

To hold him — the pup.

To play with a yard full of the happiest, most beautiful, loving, healthiest dogs, I had ever seen.

Yes, yes, I will take him. Here is the deposit, here is my handshake, here is my heartbeat, here is my promise to be back in 7 weeks, to bring him home.

My friends, meet my new friend:IMG_8087 IMG_8090

He’s a Cavalier King Charles, and If you Google “black and tan cavalier king charles.” you can see what he will look like when he grows up.

He was born 3 days after Skip died, and I sort of like to think that they crossed paths up in doggie heaven somewhere in those 3 days; that Skip told him he needed to find me, and I would take good care of him.

He will come home on November 30th.

There’s just one little thing:

He needs a name.

And I am hoping you can help:

And, now that YOU have voted, if you have a children in your life, please help them vote, too. Skip was named by my very first class, and I always loved that. So ask your kids. Heck, ask your class.

I have a feeling…

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My name is Skippito Bandito

Oh, my friends, this may be the hardest post I have ever had to write….

At about 11pm last night, my sweet little Skip laid his head down and fell asleep on my chest, for the last time. While he came through his surgery relatively well, the stress of surgery and hospitalization wreaked havoc in his little brain, causing a long cluster of severe seizures. He had possibly had a stroke, and likely had permanent brain damage. His neurologist and primary care vet had concerns about his quality of life, both immediately and in the long-term.

When I was first researching chihuahuas, in the months before I got Skip, I remember reading a piece about how, with tiny dogs, owners have to always have one eye on the road ahead, looking for things that might be no problem for a bigger dog, but potentially hazardous to a 5-pound pipsqueak. With Skip, more than with any other pet I have ever had or known, I have always felt strongly that I was his guardian, deeply responsible for his safety and happiness, accountable for the decisions he was not able to make for himself.  This was perhaps never more true than last night. He was too spunky to let go of his own accord, but far too sick to stay. I made the decision that he could not make – to let him go. I have no doubt that he is up there somewhere, playing happily with the many dogs and cats that have been loved by me, and by the people I love.

Having Skip in my life has put me on the receiving end of far more generosity and kindness than I ever would have believed. To everyone who was rooting for him: thank you. There is no doubt that his last days were full of love, and I believe that your prayers were answered in the incredibly kind, respectful, compassionate care he received. No dog could have asked for more. Honestly, the world would be a better place if all PEOPLE were treated so kindly, so respectfully, in their last days.

One of Skip’s favourite places in the world was Coppercreek Camp, and some of my favourite memories with him are of the road trips we took, to California and back, to visit my camp family. The owners of Coppercreek are my dearest friends, and they have been in constant contact with me through Skip’s whole ordeal, loving and supporting both of us. Many of you have asked if there is anything you can DO, for Skip or for me, and so, if you are so inclined, please consider making a donation to the Coppercreek Memorial Scholarship fund, which helps fund camp experiences for children in need. If every child could have as much fun at camp as Skip did, the world would be a much better place.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE (scroll down to for the link to the online donation system).

From the bottom of my broken heart: thank you.

HappyCamperDog.jpg

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The one with the waggly tail…

I didn’t set out to have a dog with special needs.

I got Skip as a healthy puppy, from an excellent breeder, who still keeps in touch and stands behind her animals.

At about a year old, he started having seizures. It took over 2 years of vet appointments and constant readjustments of his medications to get his seizures reasonably under control. (And, to be clear, many vets unfamiliar with his history would STILL not consider his once-or-twice-a-month seizures “under control.” But for Skip and me, this is great.) It also took a guardian angel of a dog neurologist, and yet it still embarrasses me to say that “my chihuahua has a neurologist.” It sounds ridiculous.

He takes 3 different medications, all of which have “increased appetite” as a side effect. This, also, sounds ridiculous.

And because of that, he LOVES to chew on things, and he puts EVERYTHING in his mouth.

3 years ago, Skip needed emergency surgery to clear an obstruction from his stomach and intestine. The obstruction? A wad of my hair, consumed inadvertently through his chewing habit. I have long, thick hair, that wraps all-too-easily around his toys…

As I type this,  Skip is in the Animal Hospital for gastro-intestinal distress.  He’s been there since yesterday afternoon. He’s been vomiting intermittently for 2 weeks, and the most recent episodes involved the upchucking of what appear to be… tiny clumps of hair. An ultrasound showed that there is SOMETHING (my money is on MORE HAIR) in his intestine, and in the next few hours, an ultrasound will tell if it is stuck, or just moving along. The possibility of another emergency surgery looms large.

And so I have been teary off and on: out of worry, out of exhaustion (a nasty vomiting attack at 2am made a rough start yesterday), out of gratitude: for my family who have wrapped their arms around me, literally and metaphorically; for my brother who met me at the vet clinic for Skip’s ultrasound, sat with me while the vet explained her recommendations; for  my dad, who texted to make sure I can handle this financially; for my mom, who has phoned repeatedly, offered to come over just to keep me company. My amazing boss let me leave work at 1pm yesterday, no questions asked. Three friends have texted to check on me. THIS MUCH KINDNESS is overwhelming. All of this for my 6 pound, ridiculous dog.

And that’s the thing: it feels RIDICULOUS.

I’m cautious about sharing Skip’s ups and downs with a lot of people. Many react as if  I am taking Extraordinary Measures to keep a chronically sick animal alive for my own selfish reasons. I have had people straight-up laugh in my face, saying “It’s A DOG, for goodness sake.”

Yes, it’s a dog. HE is a dog.

He is a dog who was a gift from my mom, a promise upon finishing my Master’s degree: “When you are ready and settled, I will get you a puppy.”

He is a dog who weighed ONE POUND when I got him, tinier than a guinea pig, who once got lost UNDER the washing machine, who could take a nap in the front pocket of my hoodie.

He is a dog who, at 2 pounds, could walk for 2 hours down to the lake on our vacation in Montana.

He is a dog who greets me with uncensored enthusiasm when I get home, whether I have been gone for an hour or 10.

He is a dog who makes me smile every time I look at him, and makes me laugh out loud at least once a day.

He is a  dog who has made 3 different apartments into HOME.

He is a dog who SPRINTS to the bed when I tell him “It’s night-night time,” dragging a stuffed toy nearly as big as him.

He is a dog who sleeps curled behind my knees all night, and then burrows into the crook of my arm for cuddles every morning.

He is a dog who has hiked Kootenai Falls and Beacon Rock with me.

He is is a dog whose cuteness, sweetness, and affectionate spunkiness are remarked upon by everyone who meets him.

He is a dog whose general overall EXTREME healthiness is the reason it took us so long to hit the right dosages for his anti-seizure meds: his liver and kidneys are SO efficient that the drugs were not staying in his system long enough to do any good.

He is not a dog limping through life, suffering daily, enduring the unendurable just because I can’t let go.

He is a dog who won’t let go, who has too much life to live, too many adventures to have.

*Update: I started this post last night, worked on it this morning. In the interim, the possibility of surgery has become a reality. Skip is still at the clinic, waiting for the weekend on-call surgeon to come and remove the bezoar (because, let’s be straight here: that IS the word for a ball of hair lodged in a GI tract). While I absolutely believe Skip and I are more than able to handle a routine surgery and a routine recovery, I have put a DNR on his file, and requested that, if the surgeon discovers things to be much worse than originally thought, they let Skip go. This is the hardest decision I have ever made.

So now, I wait. Although I am alone in my house, I’m not feeling lonely. The people who love me have woven a tight net around me. The vet taking care of Skip has been truly exceptional, answering questions thoughtfully and kindly, keeping me updated, endlessly patient when I get teary on the phone.

If it is meant to be, he will get through this, and a week from now I will be tweeting all of you about his latest tricks and adventures. If it is not… that little dog has had an amazing life, and has made my life exponentially better every single day. He has  never had regrets, and neither do I.

That being said: if you are the kind of person who prays, some prayers for a routine surgery and easy recovery would certainly not be remiss.

And if you don’t pray, some good thoughts and positive energy, sent out into The Universe or whatever you believe in, would also be appreciated.

Because I just don’t feel like our adventures are done yet.

**Update Sept 9: Skip had the surgery, and while the operation  itself went well, the stress of surgery, anesthesia, and hospitalization sparked a cluster of very severe seizures. Late last night, his neurologist called, worried that Skip had had a stroke and/or permanent brain damage.  At about 11pm, Skip laid his head down and fell asleep on my chest for the last time.  He wasn’t scared or in pain, and while I am very, very sad today, I know it was the right decision. Skip and I are both so blessed to be on the receiving end of so much kindness from so many people. He brought nothing but love into this world, and brought out the best in everyone he encountered. Sleep well little man, be good, I love you.**

SleepySkip

 

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All Day PD With Me!

I spent all day today in 4 great PD sessions:
1 – Helping Kids Cope With Anxiety
2 – Bullying and Harassment in Schools
3 – Self-Regulation
4 – Occupational Therapy 101 for Teachers (this was not the real name, but is the best possible description).

In my usual style, I took notes by tweeting. The sessions were SO GOOD that I storified my tweets, just to share with all of you!

 

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