Phoenix, the Miracle

On Thursday night we got home from a week in Waterloo to find Phoenix in terrible shape. Dad was watching him and Aspen, since they don’t enjoy the traveling and aren’t a huge fan of my friend’s current foster puppy. Huib carried him out to greet me and I was in shock to see how immobile he was. We worried all night and had him sleep with us so we could monitor his health and help him when needed. He could not sleep well on his right side, finding it hard to move and find a comfortable head position, but on his left he was a bit more settled. We set off for Guelph around 9am and called the vet from North Bay.

Dad told us that on Wednesday morning around 10:30 he came out of the bedroom and stopped in the doorway. He said he all of a sudden began to tremble and fought to stay on his feet, but eventually fell over to the right and couldn’t get up. Dad didn’t have a phone or car so cared for him the best he could. He said it looked like a stroke and he was so worried.

When we first arrived, Phoenix couldn’t stand and didn’t seem to be able to focus on anything. He was drooling excessively and his nose ran. His head was at a tilt to the right and his eyes twitched. I was so upset, but knew we had to take him to his vet in Guelph because I knew she would do everything possible and be honest with us regarding his prognosis. We decided to stop at his foster family’s house before the vet just in case the worst was to happen, we knew he needed to see them and they needed the visit. After visiting for 10 minutes we set off to Guelph (they live in Etobicoke). It was the longest hour I’ve ever spent in a car and couldn’t stop crying and thinking that this could be the last drive we sat together.

We arrived at the office around 6:00pm and were greeted by Dr. b and one of her assistants, who just happened to attend the University of Guelph when Phoenix and I were there. Huib carried him into the examination room and placed him on the table which was covered with a blanket and towel for comfort. Dr. b asked us questions and then began examining him. After a few heart wrenching minutes she looked up and I said “it’s bad, isn’t it?”. She said it actually wasn’t as bad as we’d thought and that dogs do not really have strokes, but that they are more common in cats. She diagnosed Phoenix with Idiopathic Vestibular Disease and said that he should almost fully recover, but that I had to be willing to put in the time and effort to get him back to “normal”. I told her I’d do anything necessary and asked what was needed. She explained that there aren’t any treatments, it just takes time and patience since this condition seems to appear all of a sudden and then go away within a week or month’s time. She said there shouldn’t be any ill effects, but that he may have a permanent head tilt and his eyes may not completely stop twitching, but that he can see perfectly fine and will slowly get used to all of this. She explained that the reason he cannot walk on his own and tends to fall to the right is because IVD effects his balance and causes dizziness – I guess sort of like Vertigo in humans. Dr. B went to prepare a homeopathic remedy while her assistant and I stayed with Phoenix. He didn’t like being up on the table so Huib picked him up and put him onto the blanket on the floor where he felt more comfortable. After giving Phoenix the remedy, Dr. b assessed him further and asked that we call her on Saturday with an update and then set up a phone consult for Tuesday or Wednesday. She asked that we put him onto a mixture of mushy kibble and canned food so he won’t inhale his food and aspirate – this was her biggest worry since he could get pneumonia. After picking out some gluten-free food and paying the bill, we set off for home. It was a long day, we barely slept Thursday night and couldn’t relax in the truck on the way so slept off and on during the drive home – thankfully Dad came and drove most of the way home.

On Saturday, Phoenix woke me up around 8:30am wanting to go out and eat breakfast. I put one of our doggie life jackets on him so we could use the handle to support him as he tried to walk. I found improvements in the way he held himself, standing straighter and actually weight baring, rather than needing assistance to both stand and walk. When in a down in the kitchen – while I ate breakfast – he was able to lie semi-normally and look around at all the action. At one point he even got up on his own and walked over to the water bowl for a drink before I noticed. I put him on the couch for the afternoon while I surfed the internet and watched some television. Whenever I got up and he was still asleep I attached a bear bell to the back of the life jacket so I’d know when he was awake. Dad and Huib carried Phoenix inside the last two times he went out for relief because he seemed to freeze in one spot and refuse to move any further – guessing the outdoors got a little overwhelming at night for him. The other times Dad or I took him out during the day he seemed willing to help as much as possible as long as we were patient enough to wait for him to try a step. Huib and I slept with him between us last night and once he was put onto his left side he fell asleep and didn’t stir until about 7.5 hours later.

Today he seems a little stronger on his feet and actually wanted to stand while eating breakfast. Huib tried to get him to lie down, but he refused, so we just held his bowl up and watched to make sure he didn’t lose his balance. I took him out around 10 this morning and he tried to walk further than yesterday, but it is sort of a blizzard out there so I convinced him to go back inside. I have to almost carry him down the stairs, but he tries to help on the way up. He’s been sleeping on the couch beside me this afternoon, but I’ll probably take him out for relief soon and see how he does.

From the research I’ve done on IVD Phoenix should continue to improve and like Dr. B said not have any real side effects other than the slight head tilt. I’m so blessed to still have Phoenix and am relieved to know that he will soon make a full recovery.

My soul Mate

Today Huib and I are celebrating our 10th year of being together. Ten years ago we began dating and although it hasn’t always been perfect, we have defied the odds and are still just as happy together.

We met through a program at the University of Guelph called Safe Walk. I was the coordinator and he was one of the volunteers. I had seen his name on the volunteer list during my first year with the program, but it wasn’t until my second that I actually got a chance to meet him. One evening in October he was volunteering with one of my friends and they came by to say hi and to use my residence phone since he wouldn’t get back to his room until late and he needed to call his mom. After this initial meeting we had a chance to volunteer together a few times and this began our friendship. At the end of the month I had to attend a conference in Ottawa and after calling everyone, Huib offered to attend with me – as long as we could stop by his parent’s place for lunch on our way home. We had a blast in Ottawa, he showed me all the tourist attractions during our free time and we became closer as friends by the end.

All through November we spent our free time together and as he would now admit developed a “unique” friendship that crossed several boundaries. I’m not sure why, but I couldn’t wait until the next time we’d see one another whenever he left, even if it was only for an hour or we’d spent a whole day together doing nothing. Around the end of November I decided to be straight and ask him if he wanted to go out with me. I had been asked about our relationship by friends constantly and got up the courage to ask since he wasn’t really making any clear moves. He told me he thought I was a great friend and saw me as more of a sister than a girlfriend – I was crushed. We still continued to spend all of our time together and it seemed as though nothing had changed, so I was relieved.

On the 24th of November Huib went to Toronto with his roommate to attend the Barenaked Ladies concert and told me he’d be back the following day. He called me when he returned and said it was his roommates birthdays (they are twins) and had to stay for dinner and cake, but would be over later to watch a movie. We watched Far and Away that evening and when it was all over he looked over and kissed me – I was shocked!

Our first year together was a bit rocky, his family didn’t approve of me and gave him an ultimatum – either he break up with me or they would stop paying for his schooling – but we stayed strong and will celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary on February 4th.

Huib is an amazing husband and friend. He is always there for me when I need someone to laugh with or when I need a shoulder to cry on. He will attend girly movies with me without a complaint and help pick out clothes during my shopping excursions. Most remarkable of all though is how he puts up with my more emotional moments and reminds me of all the good things I have accomplished in my life.

I don’t know what I did to deserve such an amazing man, but I am thankful for him and for the love and support he provides every day without a second thought.

What If

I am currently reading “Remember me?” by Sophie Kinsella and can’t stop wondering – what if this happened to me? This is the first book of hers that I’ve read, but she also wrote the popular book “confessions of A Shopaholic” which I think was recently made into a movie. From what I’ve read, her books tend to have a humorous tone to them and “Remember me?” doesn’t seem to deviate from this trend.

Lexi (the main character) wakes up in the hospital and doesn’t know where she is or what has happened. As far as she can remember, it’s 2004 and she had been out with friends clubbing and remembers falling down some stairs. When the doctors come in to speak with her, she learns that she’s been in a car accident and that it’s the year 2007 – which means she’s lost 3 years of her memory! The book is told in the first person and describes the turmoil she experiences while trying to piece together what she has lost.

I’ve read other books where peple have lost memories or been through traumatic experiences, but for some reason I find myself constantly thinking about this one. What would I do if I lost three years of my life? I know Huib would be by my side the whole time trying to help me through the process, but I also wonder – would I want him to have to deal with this? He’s just such a wonderful man and has never once complained about the things I ask his help with or about me not having a job. Would I want to put this additional burden on him?

I guess I’ll never know the answer unless I’m put into the situation, but this book has sure got me thinking…

A Day of Mixed Feelings

It has been 12 years since my mother passed away and 6 years since Huib proposed – such a mixed bag of emotions.

Mom was a big part of my life up until 1998 when her diabetes got the best of her and she had to leave us for a better place – one without pain and illness. I remember our final night together, it was the Sunday before she went for her usual Monday dialysis. We used to rent movies a lot back then because mom wasn’t always up to doing much more than relaxing and spending time at home. This particular day we decided to rent City of Angels – a great Nicholas Cage movie where he’s an angel and falls in love with a living human, so decides he wants to be alive too. It was such a cool movie, to think we could someday be like the characters and watch over our friends and family. Mom and Dad left the following morning, as usual, but sadly this was the last time we’d see Mom at home. I often think of Mom every time I watch City of Angels and wonder if she is looking down on us, trying her best to keep us safe. There have been times where I know something bad should have happened, but it didn’t and I wonder if it might be her and Granny keeping us out of harms way.

Huib and I have been together for almost 10 years now, but it wasn’t until 4 years into our relationship that he decided it was time to move to the next level. Our relationship has always been one of timing and moving slowly – it’s worked out so far, so why change? I remember the day he proposed, it was so unexpected. We had decided to go visit Granny and stopped at Costco on the way to pick up some stuff. He went in on his own because we had Phoenix and Aspen so didn’t feel comfortable leaving them in the car. When he came out he told me he had bought a surprise but that I couldn’t have it until Saturday (the following day). I was so annoyed, but thought it was just a yummy snack since I remembered him telling me that there were some cupcakes I liked on sale before he went in. the next day we had a good morning and afternoon, but I was eager to find out what my surprise was. He told me I had to wait until dinner, which was frustrating, but I left it alone. When dinner was over though I was full of excitement and told him I’d waited long enough so to hand over the surprise, he told me “I think you have to go pee”. I didn’t want to, but obeyed after Granny told me to behave lol!

When I came out he handed me a card he had brailled along with a box… I wasn’t sure what to think of this, cupcakes don’t fit in a little box… I opened the card and tried to read the note through tears. Granny had asked me to read it out loud and I tried, but had trouble near the end – she just laughed… I guess Huib had asked her if it was okay before he proposed so she knew all along what he had planned. He told me that he wanted to propose then with Granny watching so she could enjoy our special moment – she had heart failure so we didn’t know how long she would be with us. He said he also wanted to make this day more of a happy one, rather than having it continue as a sad one – well it worked. We spent the rest of the weekend planning our big day with Granny and decided upon the date of February 4th since it was as close as we could get to Mom’s birthday (our way of including her as well). Granny passed away the following July so didn’t get a chance to see us marry, but we had no regrets because we knew she had helped us plan it all and had seen the beginning of our special day.

I miss you Mom and Granny, but know you’re in a better place and that you’re never far away.

Our Step-Dad

Dad entered our lives when I was 4 ½ and Brandi was 18 months. Both our sperm donors weren’t “ready” to be fathers so it was up to mom to raise us. She worked as an RNA (now called an RPN) at a local long-term care home and found it hard to meet people with her two young children following behind. She met Dad at a neighbour’s New Year’s Eve party and I guess that’s where it all began.

Over the years Dad has been a sore spot for me at times – not being willing to work longer than a year at a time and often spending weeks on end lying around and making things tough for the rest of us. When mom was getting sick Dad took care of her, but he also made things harder for us as well – financially and emotionally. Dad wasn’t really into children and found it hard to be patient and caring when Brandi and I were causing trouble. I remember asking mom why she put up with him and wondered if things would have been easier if he wasn’t around. Well mom passed away in 1998 and my relationship with Dad became tougher.

When I went away to university I made sure to spend as little time as possible back home and this seemed to suit Dad fine. Our relationship became really rocky though during my second year when I decided he had used up enough of our inheritance and decided to remove it from our joint account. Over the following years we saw very little of one another, but seemed to get along fine during our occasional visits.

Last year Dad came to visit for a couple weeks in Guelph when we decided to hold a birthday party for him. This visit began our new chapter. Since April Dad has been living with Brandi and things have really seemed to improve between the two of us – with him staying here once in a while for a week or so break. I’m not sure if it is his decision to finally deal with his debilitating depression or if he’s mellowed during his older years, but I really do find myself enjoying our time together – which was not something I did as a child.

Dad and Brandi have decided to move into a 3-bedroom house together and we’ve been helping them paint when Huib isn’t working. The house is cute – 2 bedrooms upstairs along with a bathroom and downstairs a small kitchen with a large living room and a third bedroom off that which Brandi has decided to use as her office and a spare room for visitors. The painting process has been a little stressful, with Dad not taking the time he should be with preparation and more careful painting, but Huib has promised Brandi that he will help her and fix what needs to be done better. On the weekend we helped her paint the living room and the house is finally looking presentable. I wasn’t sure about Brandi’s colour choices at first, but now that they are up on the walls – I think they’re great! Tomorrow we’ll go over and finish off the living room before moving onto the sun room or dining room as they will be using it. The upstairs is where Dad is doing his work and from what Huib has said, he sure isn’t the painter he used to be.

When all is done, I will try and post some pictures.

8 Months Have Passed

I had decided to delete this blog for a while, but now I’m back. I wasn’t sure I wanted to share my life experiences without the dogs, but after months of having things to say and nowhere to say them, I’m back!

We sold our condo in Guelph a few months ago and are beginning to just now fully settle into our northern life. I guess it took having the condo sell to help us accept the changes in our lives. It’s been an interesting summer so far.

We had a bonfire with Huib’s co-workers in May when the black flies were at their worse. It was a challenge for the first few hours, but once darkness fell and the campfire was hot, the bugs didn’t seem as horrible. Everyone had a blast and wants us to do it again in the fall – stay tuned…

What else has happened during my 9 months away…. Well my step-dad was kicked out by his wife and is now living with my sister. He spends some time with us, helping out with the dogs and yard work, but still hasn’t figured out where he wants to go next. I think Brandi is beginning to find it hard sharing her little one-bedroom apartment, but I cannot have him stay with us full-time. He has severe depression and even though his medication seems to be working now, I don’t know what I’d do if he went into one of his moments and was staying here. I don’t do well with silence and I don’t think he’d be as good about putting up with the dogs wanting to constantly play. Hopefully things will work out in the end for him, but for now Brandi will just have to put up with it.

Since Dad has been staying with Brandi, we’ve all been going fishing a lot. Huib bought me and Brandi pink fishing rods so it’s been fun joining the guys. During our first trip I caught a 21 inch pike, Huib caught a 22 inch one, Brandi caught a 15 inch bass and Dad caught two bass (a 12 inch and a 17 inch). We brought them all home and Huib cleaned them with Dad in the front yard. I’ve had pike before and don’t mind it, but tried the bass for the first time and thought it was also not too terrible. I am not much of a fish eater right now, but hopefully in the future I’ll learn to like it more. We went out again a week or so later, but weren’t as successful, just a few bites here and there without much else. On our trip out two weeks ago though I caught another pike and Huib made it for his dinner to take to work. I don’t mind pulling the weeds off my rod, but I cannot handle removing the fish I catch – I know….I’m such a girl!!!

The only other interesting thing I can think of right now to blog about is our canoe. Huib and I got a red Pelican canoe a few weeks ago and are really liking our time out on the water. Huib had to work a bunch of shifts during his week off so we decided to splurge and buy ourselves a canoe. It fits 3 people and is quite sturdy. We went for an hour paddle around the lake behind our house – it was so peaceful and beautiful. Hough Lake is really small and weedy, but Huib was able to show me different things we came across – a lily pad, some blueberries growing by the water and the beaver dam where we think a lot of our trees are going. The weather hasn’t been the greatest this week, but hopefully it will clear up so we can go out for another peaceful trip.

I’ll sign off for now, but will try and post more often.

Road Trip


Aiden arrived home last Friday around 1:30pm and immediately settled back into his normal routine. We never really realized how much we actually missed having him around until we spent a few hours alone. He is such a wonderful little guy, so full of personality and love. He follows me everywhere and has such focus when we are out. The first evening was spent on a puppy outing to Conestoga Mall where him and Reece met up with Amber and Honey. All of the puppies were well behaved and Aiden showed off his maturity and improved heeling abilities. The following day we hosted a puppy social. We had about ten dogs in attendance and all got along except this little black lab (Jasper) who decided it was a good idea to mount everyone!! He had a huge crush on my friend Jess’s guide dog Glacier, poor guy took it well though.

Sunday morning we got everyone packed into the rental and set off for Lindsay where we picked up my uncle. Cessna and Aiden slept in the back of the SUV while we chatted about the scenery and how excited we were to be looking at houses soon. Our first stop was in Bracebridge for some snacks and coffee. While at the Walmart my sister and Aiden got a picture done with Sponge Bob who had stopped there on his across Canada tour. Aiden did well, just sat beside him and allowed us to get a good picture. Our next stop was in North Bay for a pee break and some more coffee. I never realized North Bay was as big as it is. Aiden and Cessna loved the treats and pepperoni sticks they got throughout the drive, but weren’t overly happy being stuck in the back while we sat up front. Whenever we stopped somewhere Cessna would jump into the seats or Aiden would bat my sister in the head because he was bored. When we finally arrived in Kirkland Lake the dogs were excited to finally get out and be able to release some energy in the hotel room. Aiden had fun jumping from bed to bed while Cessna rolled around on the floor excited to be able to move around and get some belly rubs.

The house we looked at in town was nice. It needs a little more work than the sellers tried to say, but overall it was exactly what we wanted. The dogs did not come in with us as the woman who was still there at the time had a little dog so we didn’t feel it was right to bring ours into its territory. After the viewing we went to dinner at a restaurant not far from the house. The dogs had some water and then settled under the table for a bit of a nap. It was so nice having the two of them with us. Our other three are also great dogs, but often need more care or require special attention. I think they will like their new home though – it has lots of space and a fully fenced back and front yard. After dinner we returned to the hotel and played a bit of fetch with the dogs before getting ready to watch a movie. Both Cessna and Aiden curled up on the bed with my sister and I while Huib and my uncle had the entire bed to themselves. The following day my uncle and I packed up the room while Huib and my sister went to their perspective appointments. We had some lunch at the same restaurant and then set off to look at a house in the country about 30 minutes drive from town. The house was a 5-bedroom log home on 40 acres of land. The property was absolutely gorgeous, but the house needs tons more work than we can afford at the moment. In order to even live in it a great deal of work would need to be done so we just asked the real estate woman to keep us informed about any changes in price. It would be a great place to buy for the land and as a pet project for Huib to fix up over an extended amount of time. We let Aiden and Cessna run around a bit on the property before we put them back into the vehicle to begin the long journey to Deerhurst Resort.

The drive was beautiful, except for a bit of rain. The scenery along the roads are so nice to look at and the traffic was pretty light the entire drive. We saw a spot in the road where there had been a rock slide, another spot where a truck had lost its load of logs, and then about 10 deer in two different fields. When we were about 30 minutes or so from Huntsville there was a large truck which decided it was a good idea to hug the bumper of our car. Huib tried to speed up a bit and get the truck away, but the driver was persistent until my sister and Huib began taking pictures. We arrived at the resort around 8:00pm and immediately upon arrival the dogs began to run and play together in our suite. We had reserved a 2-bedrom suite for the night so the dogs had tons of room to play with one another. It was funny to see that Aiden still had his love for the tub because as soon as I entered the bathroom he followed and jumped right into the Jacuzzi tub to check it out. We got some good pictures of him in it and even got one of my sister sitting with both Aiden and Cessna.

The following morning Huib and I took the dogs for a bit of a walk around the resort and got some good pictures. Around 1:00pm we packed everything back into the car and headed off to Lindsay to drop off my uncle. The drive was quiet and we only stopped once to get some coffee and have a pee break. After dropping my uncle off we started the drive back home. We stopped at my aunt’s place to see if she was home, but no one was there so we continued on to Toronto. In the city we picked up Reece from another foster family and then went home. It was so great to finally get home and see Phoenix. He had stayed with our neighbour and was absolutely beside himself with excitement when we arrived.

We picked Aspen up at her breeder’s place Wednesday evening and were happy to see her again. It had been almost a week since we had dropped her off, but we knew she was happy there so weren’t too worried about the length of time. She was not overly happy at first when we arrived, but then after a few minutes began jumping up and making her whining noises. We let the other dogs out of the car to greet her and then everyone (Aspen being the second) jumped back into the car to head home. I think Aspen was really excited to see them all, her breeder has two dogs (Aspen’s dad & another retired stud) but they are older so not as into playing with her. She did get a chance though to play with her half sister Moose, who came to visit for a bit while her family was at work.

Aiden will be staying with us until Tuesday. We got an e-mail from his trainer when we arrived home to see if we wanted to keep him longer – of course we said yes!

Cessie’s Trip To Marineland

On Tuesday Huib, Cessna and I all packed into the car and headed off to Niagara Falls for a trip to Marineland. My friend and her group home were going so we thought we’d tag along. I was surprised when my friend called ahead and they agreed to allow Cessna to attend with us, the Toronto Zoo forbids service dogs from entering their premises. We arrived around 11:15am and waited for my friend and her group to arrive. Marineland was busy, I think it must have been group trip day or something because there were bus loads of people arriving one after another. The group arrived around noon and after a quick lunch we all headed into the park.

The first exhibit we checked out was the feeding of the sea lions. Cessna growled and made small barking noises at them, but I muffled her noises by holding her mouth closed. She was fascinated by the sea lions who were swimming around and making different noises. Next we watched the performing seals, dolphins, and walrus. Cessna was trembling with excitement, she began whining after a while of watching the show. I am surprised the people in front of us didn’t complain because she was right between them. After the show we headed over to the orca whales where we were splashed and entertained. Cessna was absolutely thrilled by them, she was so excited watching them swim and jump below her. Huib held her a couple of times so she could see better, she whined tons, wanting to swim with them. She enjoyed them so much that we went by and watched again before leaving.
Another eventful part of our day was when we entered the area where their were deer roaming free. We entered the iron gate and walked along, Cessna was absolutely amazing, she just walked along side me looking around with interest. About halfway through this part Huib looked back and noticed that all of the deer were following us, he stopped and took some pictures. When we began walking again a brave deer began to approach us, Huib scared him off several times, but he continued to come towards us so we left as quickly as we could.

Next we walked by a red deer, elk, and buffalo…I always thought that deer had smooth coats… Our final visit was to the beluga whales, they were boring! The line up to pet them was too long so we left after only a few minutes of watching. Overall we spent 4 hours at Marineland and had a great time. I don’t know if it would have been as much fun though without Cessna.

“Sing like no one’s listening; love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching; and live like it’s heaven on earth.” Mark Twain