Time for a change

For those of you who have followed my blog for some time you will have noticed this week that on both platforms, Blogger and WordPress that my blog sites have had a makeover. 

The reason behind the change was two-fold, firstly it was just time for a change and secondly it was time to move forward. Both platforms used photo’s of Frankie as part of the blog. My Myasthenia kid page had a photo of Mollie and Frankie from the summer as its banner. Every time I went on the page it was a very real reminder of everything we have lost and the grief I feel. The time both Frankie and Mollie have been gone can still be counted in weeks, I still feel very sad most days. When you are with your dogs like I was 24/7 for the last 11 years they become a massive part of your life. It was like losing two members of my family, the family I have made with Jay. Still having them on the Facebook Myasthenia kid page and as a huge part of both blog platforms felt wrong. Although I will mourn them forever it was time to move forward and the new chapter of our life is now with Dembe our yellow Labrador. Not featuring him when he is a major part of my life felt disloyal to him. So hence the change.

I’ve known since the day we lost them both that the day would come that I felt strong enough to update the look of my blogs and Facebook page. I needed there to have been enough time passed that I wouldn’t feel guilty for changing things. It still took an awful lot to change the banner of my Facebook page associated with this blog. I wondered if people would think it was too soon or that I didn’t care about Mollie and Frankie. No one has said anything and deep down I knew they wouldn’t but you are still very conscious of how things may look to other people. 

The blogs were a spontaneous decision on Saturday night, when Jay was working late. I hadn’t like the look of blogger for ages and I needed to change the banner of the WordPress sites. I had taken a lovely photograph of some tree’s a couple of weeks ago and thought it would make a nice banner / background. I love Woodbury Common it has strong emotional ties for me. Every dog we have ever owned has been walked there, it was where I would go to forget the stress of everyday life before I became too sick to walk the dogs. To have that represented on the blog and it being my photograph gives me a sense of pride.

I also needed to change my Google Avatar. The photo had been a black and white one of me and Frankie. It is one of those things where every time I saw the photo I would hold my breath and wait for the pain in my heart to start. I have now changed it over to a lovely photo of Dembe. I wanted to start to look forward as I have been feeling a lot better of late. More like me and not totally bogged down in my grief. 

It has taken time for me to accept that I am allowed to look to the future and how our life with Dembe will be. Being an only dog he is even more the focus of my attention. He must some days wish that I would shut up as I talk to him constantly. He is the thing ( along with Jay ) that has got me through these last few months, who has forced me to get out of bed, to socialise when all I wanted to do was go to bed and just not have to deal with the world. Although it has been really hard on occasion I have made it through 100% of my worst days and that is an achievement.

The final thing I changed was my profile photo on my social media accounts. For a year possibly more it had been a close up photograph of Frankie’s nose. People always ask me about it as it was a cute photo but when you have just lost a faithful companion it can be really difficult emotionally to talk about it and people assume that he is still with us. I then have to say that he isn’t and that compounds the hurt. So I have changed this over to a photo of Dembe because when I speak about him I don’t feel sad. 

It took longer than I thought it would to change all the stuff. Whilst updating all my social media accounts I realised some of them were out of date and they still talked about Mollie and Frankie. So it was sad updating them but I do need to do this. I will never forget them they were a massive part of my life. They the three of them saved me when I was grieving for Travis our first Weimaraner and then when I became sick. I don’t know if I would still be here without their love and affection. Dembe has done the same shown me that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that it is ok to be sad as long as it doesn’t dominate every waking hour. 

So I hope you like what I have done to the blogs etc I think you will agree it was time for a change.

Dembe aged 24 weeks

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Post Easter Vibe

Well as usual when there is any disruption to my routine I am really thrown. Like I have said before and in the blog post Upheaval I don’t do well with change. Easter always throws me out as do any bank holidays, it can leave me unsure of what the day is for a week or so. I know it’s not just me everyone is thrown when there routine is altered. So for this week I thought I would just update you all on the sewing and embroidery projects I have been working on recently.

I have been making a lot of cushions. I like making cushions as it combines using my embroidery machine, sewing machine and overlocker. I have also been using my embroidery machine to embroider motifs onto sweatshirts. However my latest make only used my sewing machine and it was nice to get back to basics. I made some bunting, 10 metres of the stuff to go in the garden once the revamp is finished. (currently being held up waiting for various different parts to arrive)

The bunting has been made out of various scraps of material I have had lying around for a while and some fat quarters that I didn’t know what to do with. I can’t wait to have it hung in the garden this summer. It’s the first time I have made bunting and I am very pleased with it. I don’t know why I haven’t made it before.

I really love using my embroidery machine, it gives me another way to express my creativity and also make items that are personal to the gift recipient. I am in a cushion making phase at the moment, which I really enjoy because it uses so many skills. Here are just some of the ones I have made in the last few months.

I love the ones with the Deer on they are my favourite. I also really love the Llama one and the Lion head. Embroidery always cheers me up when I am feeling low, it’s been really hard since Molly and Frankie passed away, even though I have Dembe it’s not the same. I wouldn’t be without him and he is enormous fun but it is a massive change to my routine with him being a puppy.

I have also really enjoyed learning how to embroider sweatshirts. I buy plain £10  unisex sweatshirts and then embroider a nice design on them. It has been a case of trial and error getting the stabilisation right on these. I am much happier with the last three I have done, although I still wear the other two that I did before Christmas.

What is even better with this design was that it was free one month. I am also starting to now get adventurous and changing up the colours from those that my embroidery machine says to do it in. It is important when you do that to write down what colour you are using instead of the one listed on the screen or you can get yourself into a bit of a pickle.

 

I wear this sweatshirt a lot as it is totally me. Whenever I am stressed or anxious I try to sew as it keeps me focused on the task at hand rather than worrying about something I have no control over.

 This is a terrible photo but this is my favourite design that I have embroidered onto a sweatshirt I call it Chinese Chrysanthemums. I bought this sweatshirt especially to embroider this design onto it as I felt it was so dramatic it needed the black background to really pop.

What I love about embroidering clothing is that by changing the colours, placement etc you end up with a totally unique piece of clothing. I am going to try some more embroidering onto t-shirts for the summer. I will use a few of my old t-shirts to practice on to ensure I have the level of stabilisation right so there is no puckering or distortion of the design.

I think I love my embroidery machine ( like I love my sewing machine ) because I have to use the old grey matter and solve problems. It was nice making the bunting recently as it was going back to basics and just doing something that wasn’t too taxing but still needed thought about. 

I also made a peg bag recently, which has made me chuckle as it is like I am doing my sewing journey in reverse. Last year I was making quilts and bags, designing my own patterns etc this year I have made some bunting and now a peg bag. Both though are good basics to master. The peg bag I made my own hanger from wire as I didn’t have a small enough hanger and then made my own pattern. I used remnants from another project to make the bag. Now I can’t wait for my washing line to be back up ( once the garden is sorted ) so that I can see my peg bag in use.

I like using my sewing skills not just to make decorative items and gifts but to also solve problems. So recently I have made us a beautiful front net ( type ) curtain from a Broiderie Anglaise panel I was given. It is brilliant as it stops the light glaring onto the TV during the day but doesn’t impact the light levels in the house. It also provides us with some much-needed privacy. It looks really nice from outside the house as well. The problem with our lounge window is that it is south-facing so we end up with the light streaming in which is lovely but can also mean you end up all summer long having the curtains closed whenever you want to watch the TV. With the panel being denser than net it gives us privacy which we both value (I know that may sound odd from someone who writes a blog). It’s also had the added bonus of stopping Dembe looking at the window and barking at everyone who walks past! 

Off Topic

I know some of you are going to think I have well and truly lost my marbles so please feel free to skip this post if you hold no truck with the supernatural / ghosts / spirits what have you. I have to write about it due to what has just happened and I can’t ignore it any longer.

Ok so regular followers of my blog will know that we lost Frankie and Mollie within 7 days of each other ( 29th Dec 2018 and then 5th Jan 2019). Jay and I are not religious, although he was brought up in the Catholic faith, I guess he is atheist or agnostic. I have never asked him. I was brought up without faith and am atheist. However I do believe that we don’t just cease to exist when we die. Which I know for some atheists will be difficult to get their head around. The thing is I have seen too much, heard too much and had premonitions of events that I couldn’t possibly known about months or sometimes days before they have happened. That I just know that there is more to this world than what many of us see and hear.

For example for the month before my A-level results came out every night without fail I would dream about the letter C. Like on Sesame street this letter C would be huge and there would be 3 of them. It was bizarre and whilst dreaming I would try to change it to 3 B’s as I knew this dream was telling me what my A- level results would be. Low and behold exam result day I get 3 C’s. Pure laziness on my part, preferred earning money and going out to actual studying!

Before my driving test I repeatedly dreamt that I would be in a part of Plymouth called Little America and I would be asked to perform a reverse around the corner. As I was undertaking this the driving examiner would tell me to stop as he had under estimated how close the white car behind us was. Low and behold on my test – I am driving through Little America and I am asked to do the reverse around the corner. As I am doing it, just as had happened in my dream the driving examiner called a halt to it as a white car was too close.

I could go on and on and that would either serve to bore you rigid or for you to believe I am totally bat shit crazy. My premonitions come and go, I can go years without them happening. The last time it happened that I can remember was when Jay had his car crash in 2011. For around 3 months before I had the same dream over and over that Jay would be in a car crash and that our car would be written off. As I had dreamt it Jay did indeed have a crash ( caused by a drunk driver in a stolen car) and our car was written off.

So that’s the premonition side of things, I also see things. Not hallucinations but spirits / ghosts etc. I wrote extensively about the flat Jay and I used to live at in my post entitled “Haunted” (link here ). I can have feelings about places / people also. I also can hear things not as in voices but as in I can hear things like a dog jumping off the bed upstairs when Dembe is downstairs with me and the only dog that used to jump off Jay’s bed was Mollie. I have also heard a dog shaking his head and the collar jangling with the ID tag but Dembe is fast asleep next to me. 

The first dog I saw that had passed was our first Weimaraner Travis. The second litter of puppies had been born in 2007 and I had come in from work and was upstairs checking on them. I heard a dog behind me, I turned to look and assumed it was Mollie. I still remember what I said ” are you going to take care of these puppies or will I have to do it?” As I said those words I had turned my head back to the whelping box, when Mollie didn’t walk past me I just assumed she had gone back down stairs. I went down stairs and walked into the kitchen to find Jay in there with all 3 dogs. I was confused so asked him ” have these three been down here the whole time?” to which he replied “Yes”. I nearly fainted with shock, I knew that I had just seen Travis, a full body apparition of a dog that had passed away over a year ago. 

I am not the only person to have seen Travis. A delivery driver and his mate was bringing in some furniture and told me one of the dogs had escaped from the kitchen. I said no they are all in the kitchen. The guy went white and said I just saw a dog on the stairs . Travis used to sit on the bottom widest step and we had nicknamed it the sulky step as he would sit on it when we went to work. 

My mum has stepped over a dog in the middle of the night on the way to the bathroom when she was staying with us and then realised all three dogs were in my room. There had been no dog in the hallway.

My cleaner ( years ago when I could afford one!) said she had felt a dog brush past her on the stairs as she was vacuuming them. When she looked into the lounge ( our stairs are in the lounge and have an open banister) she saw three dogs sprawled over two sofas all fast asleep. No dog had gone past her, well no earthly dog. 

So strange goings on in my house have happened for years. When family members or close friends pass I have problems with the electrics, things turning themselves on and off without us touching them. Since one friend passed last year my hallway light at the top of the stairs flashes on and off. It’s just flashed whilst I am proof reading this. Initially Jay never noticed so I thought I must be imagining things. Then one day the light went off completely for several seconds and then came back on again. It can go days even weeks without the light flashing and then all of a sudden it is doing it every time the light is on. I acknowledge my friend in my head but I have to tell you out of all the stuff that has happened here, that’s the only thing that can scare me. Especially if I am in the house alone.

 That brings me nicely up to what happened today and surprised me so much I said “Oh my god” out loud and Jay said “did you hear that?” I was sat on the sofa that is opposite our stairs. Our stairs has three mirrors going up the side of them so I can see in the mirror opposite me the top of the stairs. What had caught my attention was the sound of two steps at the top of the stairs. I looked in the mirror as I always would have done when the Weims were alive only to see the back-end of a Weimaraner disappear into my room. I then said “oh my god” because I was taken a back not frightened. Jay had heard the steps but due to where he was sitting he couldn’t see the mirror. When I told him what I had seen he wasn’t surprised as we have both seen and heard our babies since they passed. It provides us with a level of comfort knowing that they are still with us, even if it’s in spirit only. 

Dembe has also seen them, I say this not because I pretend to know what he is thinking but because of his reactions. He has play bowed ( stuck his arse in the air and bent with his front legs on the floor) and rolled his ball to nothing. I was sat across the other side of the room and watched him do this, not just on the one occasion but on many occasions. He has taken toys over to what we have nicknamed for years the sulky step because that is where Travis and Frankie would sit sometimes. 

Jay has heard Mollie, Frankie, Willow and Travis accompanying him on his walks up the common when it has just been him and Dembe and not another soul in sight. Some days it is a comfort other days it just reminds you of how very much we have lost. Of course we wouldn’t be without Dembe but at the moment it still feels like we are all still getting to know each other. With Mollie, Frankie and Willow we had been with each other for years and we know all their little idiosyncrasies. So although the house doesn’t feel as empty as it did in those six days after Mollie passed whilst we were waiting to get Dembe, it still feels pretty empty compared to how it used to be.

I think that’s why what happened this afternoon really sort of shocked me. I wasn’t expecting it. It was nice to know that they are still around and they don’t feel pushed out with Dembe around. 

Upheaval

Currently our back garden is in a state of upheaval, I know that the end is in sight (fingers crossed it will be completed or at least almost completed over the Easter weekend) . We knew it would need to be done this year but had hoped that it would wait until the summer. At the time we had discussed the plans we still had the two Weimaraners and not a puppy who was hell-bent on discovering every piece of rotten decking and turning it into a huge hole, or carrying bits of rotten wood into the house.

I will be honest I don’t cope well with change, I don’t like not knowing when things will be completed. I must have a plan or my anxiety goes through the roof. I often wonder if my inability to cope with change, tell a story just going from A to B, rather than all around the houses, my problems with textures of foods, materials, clothing, dirt on my hands is a massive signal that I have some sort of sensory processing issue or the fact that I am on the Autistic Spectrum.

 I have noticed at my physiotherapy sessions that I take my therapists instructions literally, I have to look at her to see what she is asking me to do as invariably I will do the literal interpretation not what she has asked me to do. I wonder also if my need to control everything is also born from the possibility of being on the spectrum. I like order and control. I like a routine, changes in routine cause anxiety.

The other “issue” I have although I don’t see it as an issue it is just mildly irritating is that I will get fixated over words and repeat them endlessly in my head. A few years ago for months I was fixated on the phrase / word Beth Din after listening to a programme on radio 4 about Jewish courts ( a Beth Din) and getting a divorce ( a Get ). The word Get also became part of this never-ending repetition of words in my head. I now sometimes panic if I hear the phrase Beth Din worried that it will start-up the never-ending loop of this word bouncing around in my head. Sometimes I will also say the word out loud but it is always when I am by myself. That’s not deliberate it just tends to be when I am by myself the word loop can intensify if I am not distracted. 

I know some people might say that this sounds more like OCD but there is no dread or sense that bad things will happen if I don’t say them or have them on a loop in my head. It is just something that happens and I can go months without having a word doing a loop, today’s word seems to be parallelogram. The words can be because of the way they sound or the way my mouth moves when saying them. I know it’s a bit bizarre and I may regret being so honest about sharing! 

So as I said earlier I can’t get to a point without going around the houses and there was a diversion definitely in the paragraph above. So the garden looked ok to those that didn’t realise that a lot of the plant pots were covering holes in the decking. It was getting to the point where we just didn’t have enough pots to cover them as Dembe was always busy making more.

We are doing the work ourselves helped by friends who have offered up their time and expertise. 

On the Sunday Jay started he pulled all this up really easily as it was all completely rotten. The balustrade was also completely rotten through. Jay made a start before our friend Leanne came over to give him a hand. due to my medical conditions I am not physically able to help and it really upsets me that all I can do is plan and order the things we need. Whilst everyone else does the physical labour. Before I was sick I would have loved to have got involved ( wearing gloves of course!).

In 4 hours Jay and Leanne removed loads of the rotten decking but were stuck when it came to the joists. In some places the joists were rotten so it was easy to saw through them and remove them. However quite a few parts were not rotten and sawing them by hand was taking forever.

Jay asked one of his colleagues from work if their husband had a chain saw and within an hour they were here making light work of the joists that had caused so many problems.

Of course to complicate matters we live in a mid terrace, with no rear access. So everything that is removed from the garden has to come through the house. On the following Tuesday Jay removed all the decking and joists that had been piled up in the back garden and brought them through the house. Cue lots of mud and bits of wood. It then took him a couple of hours to saw the large pieces into bits small enough to get into our car. Thankfully it was only two car loads to get it up the tip.

The following Sunday, Mark who had helped us with the chain saw the previous Sunday came over and helped Jay remove the remainder of the decking and the joists. This time they took everything out through the house the same day so that Jay didn’t have to do it by himself on his day off. This last bit only took around two hours.

The next phase of the garden will be completed (fingers crossed) over the Easter weekend. Due to the soil being heavy clay and water-logged we need to install a drainage system called a French drain to remove the surface water or the gravel that will be going down to replace the decking will just turn into a bog. 

The garden did dry out a bit when we had a few days of sun and wind but as soon as it rains it turns back into the mess you see above.

I had to order 25 metres of land drain which is the black coil of pipe in this photo. Rather unrealistically I believed that it would come in a box – obviously my spacial awareness is lacking. It doesn’t look to big here but it is enormous and had to be rolled through the lounge and then the kitchen to the patio. The small amount of patio that Dembe has had to do his business on has got smaller and smaller as more items are delivered.

We have fence posts, fence panels, garden gate and 3x 800kg of gravel. For someone who likes order and routine it is a lot to deal with on a daily basis.

All the fence posts, panels and garden gate also need painted so we are waiting for three days of dry weather so that we can slap a coat of Sea Grass on them ( same as the fence in the photo above).

I know it will be fantastic when its been completed and that Dembe will have a lovely space to run around in, where he can’t slip and hurt himself or chew through rotten decking boards. And although it is being done earlier than we had planned at least we will have the summer to enjoy it. If its anything like it was last year Dembe will be getting a paddling pool to enjoy as he loves water!

So if everyone could keep their fingers crossed for a relatively dry Easter it would be appreciated.

Dembe

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while will know that sadly I lost, well we lost our beautiful Weimaraners 7 days apart at the end of last year beginning of this year. I let you know that we had also got ourselves a beautiful yellow Labrador ( he has a bit of fox red in him as well). I haven’t really spoken about him much here, not because he is some state secret but because mainly my blog has always been about the Weimaraners and because our lives have changed so completely with losing them and having Dembe.

 Mollie

 Frankie

Willow

Our lives have always revolved around our dogs and they always will. With the Weimaraners our lives were quite restricted, when left they would destroy our home ( chewing furniture, banisters, carpets basically anything they could get their teeth into) and sing to the neighbours. It meant if they were ever left we would have to pay for a dog sitter or beg friends to come and sit with them. They were fine as long as they had someone with them they just had awful separation anxiety when left alone. We could have taken the easy way out and given them up / rehomed them. If you ever look on websites for dogs you will always find Weimaraners on there 6 months to a year old who are being rehomed because they can’t be left alone without causing damage or noise. It breaks my heart. 

We decided as that as we had wanted them we would have to adjust our lives accordingly. It meant no going out together as one of us would have to stay home, ( they also destroyed the car if left in that with Willow eating the handbrake one day!). They dominated our lives for 15 years but although it may seem like a huge hardship they gave us so much love and so much companionship for me I never saw it as a hardship. We loved them dearly and due to that love we were prepared to put our lives effectively on hold for the time they were with us. Those years went past in the blink of an eye. The hardest part of those 15 years was some people just not understanding that our dogs would always come first and that we would miss events because of not being able to leave them. 

Now I am not slagging of the Weimaraners, a lot of their problems were caused by me and Jay. I fell ill 3 months after Frankie and Willow were born and due to the stress of me being ill and genuinely not being well enough their training was rubbish and so was their socialisation. They also got attacked several times when they were puppies by other dogs, so they became nervous aggressive. Walks became so stressful it was easier to walk them at 5am, which then became 4am which then became 3am. Jay would then be up for a few hours and then would go back to sleep getting up time would depend on whether he was working that day or not.  Evening walks would have to take place in dark on the common like the morning walks so that they wouldn’t bump into any other dogs. It was stressful, we were always worried about dog owners who had no control over their dogs who would let them get up in Frankies personal space despite us telling them he was nervous aggressive.

When Willow passed away in 2017 things got easier, mainly because there were only two dogs to control and the fact that she would whip the others up into a frenzy. We missed her greatly but it would be a lie to say that things didn’t get easier. Frankie no longer reacted to dogs out on the walk, he stayed well clear of them but you no longer had to worry that he would get aggressive due to his fear. Mollie was always really good with all dogs and we never had any problems with her. 

With Dembe it has been a clean slate, training started from the minute he arrived home and has been consistent. We don’t get dictated to by him when he goes out for a walk, where as the Weims would start crying and pacing due to being creatures of habit. For Dembe we have deliberately kept his walks unscheduled, so he doesn’t know and therefore doesn’t start acting up demanding a walk. He fits in with us not us with him. We don’t love him any less or any more than the Weims, we just decided that we wanted some of our life back.

The change in both of us has been immense. Jay used to suffer terribly with fatigue, we put it down to his methotrexate for his psoriasis and the stress of looking after me and the dogs. In reality now we know that it was night after night of broken sleep. Being awake for a few hours in the middle of the night from 3am until 5am then going back to sleep was destroying him. He never wanted to do anything or go anywhere because he was always so exhausted. Who can blame him he was dealing with extreme sleep deprivation. What I haven’t said is that when he was on an early shift ( quite often he would have had a late finish the night before so he wouldn’t have gone to sleep much before 11pm) he would get up at 3am and that would be him up until he went to bed that evening. 

Jay is now up every morning by 7am, 7.30am at the very latest. If he is on a late night we get to do stuff all together before he goes to work at 12pm.  We have a cup of tea and have a chat and then we will take Dembe out. Depending on how I am feeling or where we are going means that sometimes I can join the boys using my mobility scooter. Dembe is limited at the moment as to how much exercise he can have so that we protect his joints . Currently he can have 20 mins a day in just over a weeks time he can go up to 25 minutes as it is 5 minutes for every month of his age. 

Jay and I would be lost without him but we have really struggled to accept over the last 10 weeks that he is actually ours. That probably seems a really weird thing to say but I think because he came into our lives during one of the most traumatic periods we have lived through, although we loved him immediately there was almost this feeling that he didn’t belong to us. I would forget he was in the house with me and he would bark and I would jump out of my skin. His care was never, ever compromised it was just we were overwhelmed with grief and all this love we had for this little ball of fluff. 

He seemed so very little when we first got him home at 8 weeks, despite the fact his weight has increased by at least 10 kg and he has got so much bigger he still seems very dinky to us. After having three huge Weimaraners for over a decade I am guessing anything would seem tiny.  He is a very affectionate dog, he loves cuddles and kissing. He really loves Jamie and they have a little routine that when Jay gets into the car he looks into the back and Dembe smothers him in kisses. For me Dembe is my little shadow, I can’t go anywhere without being followed. He has also started to pick up on when I am unwell and adjusts his behaviour accordingly. We are not at the stage yet where he will happily lie on the bed with me all day but he will snuggle up next to me on the sofa. When I had a migraine Sunday afternoon and went to bed at 6pm he came up with me and settled down with his head over my feet. Just like Frankie used to. He also likes sleeping curled up on the top corner of my pillow. He gives me a little kiss goodnight when The Archers theme tune comes on at the end of the programme and settles for the night.

Without him Jay and I would have fallen apart. We have both really struggled mentally and physically over the last three months. I finally have started feeling more like my old self again but I am very quick to tears. Anything about Rainbow Bridge and I am gone. If anyone posts that their dog or cat etc has passed away I break my heart. The pain is still very raw but I am able to function in the world where as initially I felt so disconnected and as if I was trying to work on autopilot. 

I have neglected a few friendships because I have just been overwhelmed by the grief of it all. I know some people just wont understand at all how you could be so upset by an animals death. Believe me you can. I wish every night the last image in my head wasn’t Frankie passing away or seeing Mollie unable to walk or lift her head due to the catastrophic stroke she suffered. I had to stop watching this weeks episode of the walking dead when the heads on spikes mouths were moving despite them being dead. Frankie’s mouth muscles twitched for the whole time I lay on the floor with him after he passed away. It was too much and sent me straight back into flash backs of losing him. I was quite proud of myself being able to write all this without sobbing but I have fucked that up now.  I hope some day those horrific images stop waking me from sleep and stop being the last images in my head before I fall asleep because I do know happiness despite being so sad.

Without Dembe I wouldn’t be here, it is as simple as that. I could not have carried on under that weight of grief. I am not saying that to be melodramatic but for a few days there I wanted to die myself. My heart hurt and no one except Jay understood what I was going through. I have never seen Jay look as ill as he did during those 6 days that we had no dog in the house. When Dembe came home the colour came back into his face and it forced us to start living again. He is our miracle boy and our saviour. Even when he is being a wee shitebag.

If you would like to find out more about Dembe he has his own blog at http://www.thedembediaries.com 

Solace in creativity

Last week I wrote of my guilt at being happy, although I received lots of supportive comments, my emotions are still all over the place. The last week or so I have cried everyday over Mollie, Frankie and Willow. I think that is why I have been trying to occupy every minute of every day lately through some sort of creative endeavour or to get out of the house, so I can’t sit and brood.

I am beyond exhausted, last week Jay was on holiday and we spent the week catching up on jobs that have probably been outstanding for 12-24 months. Obviously I am very limited in what I can do and with Dembe ( our nearly 16 week old yellow Labrador pup) it is very difficult to do things together. We made a massive dent on the list of jobs that need done but as anyone who owns a house will tell you, one job soon multiplies and becomes another 4.

We have sorted out our bathroom, its been in a state of almost done for around 10 years I kid you not. Little jobs needing done but neither of us having the energy or inclination to get it completed. I finally cracked and decided a week before Jays holiday enough was enough and it would get completed. Initially it was just that the grout and silicone sealant would be redone. That however has evolved into the bathroom being redecorated – overdue as I believe it was last done possibly 5 years or more ago. Which then means that before the walls are painted the woodwork gets repainted. So the thing spirals. All because I can’t spend any free time doing nothing because the minute I do the sadness overwhelms me.

I have been working hard on the creative side of things as well. For a while I didn’t want to do anything, I didn’t know if I would ever be able to do anything again. Both days that the dogs health suddenly declined I was sat at my embroidery machine. I blamed myself for not paying them enough attention. To not sew or give myself a  creative outlet was a way of punishing myself. Because as I stated in last week’s post I love to make myself feel guilty.

So I thought I would share my makes with you. I am limited with how much I can type this week as my shoulder (right) is grinding away and popping out, my wrists and fingers are also playing me up. So typing is uncomfortable.

I have been making this one for a friends granddaughter. This will get turned into a cushion at some point over the next few days, depending on when my shoulders and wrists / fingers decide to cooperate.

I’m not happy with either the hedgehog or the sheep as I rushed the hooping and as a result they have puckered. However these two will be turned into cushions for our home and I was desperate to see how this design stitched out.

I love the highland Cows design, this was from the same Etsy seller who designed the sheep and the hedgehog. This one will be a cushion for us. I am toying with putting this design on one of my blank sweatshirts.

 

 

The Charlotte cushion is a Christmas present for my niece – you probably think I am bonkers but I like to work well in advance in case my health suddenly declines. That way I don’t feel stressed out in December trying to make lots of gifts to a deadline of when Jay will drop them down to our relatives.

The owl Cushion – I bought this design around Christmas time. Due to the dogs passing I never got the opportunity to stitch it out. So I had a go a few weeks ago. I am really pleased with how it turned out. 

The Evie cushion was for a friends Granddaughter. This will be the last one I stitch out of this design as it has been poorly digitised. Every time I stitch it out I have problems in the same place. I have invested in a new unicorn design now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made a job lot of doorstops, many of these will be gifted during the year or at Christmas. These doorstops have washable covers as the bottom has an opening that has velcro to fasten it. Inside I have used cat litter ( clean obviously) to weigh it down. I place the cat litter inside a ziplock bag and also use an elastic band so it has two forms of closures to stop any leakage! I enjoyed making these door stops, it made a nice change and was a challenge for me after making so many items the same on the run up to Christmas and with making cushions.

As I haven’t posted a photo of Dembe on here for a few weeks, I thought I would share this with you. 

This is me and the little man. He sleeps every night with his head on my pillow. Most nights his nose is touching my head or face. I love feeling his breath against me. He is such a loving little chap. Without him I’d have never made it through the last 10 weeks.

The guilt at being happy

Those of you who read last week’s blog post will be happy to know there have been no further Sula Drop “incidents” since the one described by last week’s post.

Guilt is something I deal with on a daily basis. I feel guilty about most things. I feel guilty that I can’t do as much as I used to in the house due to my medical conditions. I feel consumed with guilt that our lives haven’t gone the way that we had planned them to go. At the moment I am being eaten up with guilt because for the first time in week’s I feel happy. I worry that people will think that I didn’t love Frankie and Mollie or didn’t love them enough because now I love Dembe.

I catch myself sometimes in a negative cycle of self talk telling myself that it is not possible to love another dog so much already if I truly loved the other dogs. I know that what is amazing amongst human beings is our capacity to love even when in the depths of despair. The love I feel for Dembe is different to the love I had for Travis, for Frankie, for Mollie or for Willow. Each of those dogs I loved differently but with the same intensity. I never felt the guilt of having Frankie and Willow after Travis passed away because they were born in the house, although Frankie was sold and came back to us. So I don’t get why I am struggling with the guilt of having Dembe?

Is the guilt stimulated by the fact we had to go out and buy him from another breeder? Rather than him be born in our spare room? I feel it acutely at times. Just looking at Dembe on occasion will reduce me to tears because looking at him reminds me of what we have lost. 3 dogs in the space of 55 weeks. That is a lot of loss to deal with, on top of the human losses we also suffered. 

I also feel guilty because my anxiety levels have dropped since Mollie and Frankie passed away. I knew that they weren’t long for this world even though you hope in your heart they will last just a little bit longer. Frankie had rapidly declined over the space of the 12 months and I am now pretty sure that the inner ear infection Mollie had in the summer was her first stroke. Purely because the symptoms the day before she passed were exactly the same.  Both dogs were spoilt rotten in the last 12 months of their lives. They really enjoyed themselves. We had hoped Mollie would have a good six months after Frankie passed but it wasn’t to be and that breaks my heart. In the days after Frankie passed I made such a fuss of her, plied her with sausages like they were the elixir of youth. I feel guilty that perhaps I didn’t see how much she was grieving for her son. The vet certainly felt that the grief was a contributing factor in her catastrophic stroke. 

My anxiety levels have dropped also because Frankie was having some quite bad mobility issues. At night I would never sleep very deeply because I was always listening out for him in case he fell or he couldn’t manage getting back upstairs after going down for a drink or to let himself out into the garden. Because Dembe is younger he doesn’t get to roam around the house at night or even during the day. He can’t yet manage the stairs so he is confined to my room at night by a baby gate.

I would talk about the day that we wouldn’t have the Weimaraner’s anymore and it always seemed like some mythical date in the future. Even though I could see them ageing and losing condition I must’ve practised cognitive dissonance because on another level I couldn’t believe we would ever lose them. They would live forever in our little bubble, being loved and returning that love tenfold.

Now I get anxious about loving Dembe too much in such a short space of time. I still look at him at times and have to remind myself that he is mine. I wouldn’t be without him, he is a devoted pup who loves Jay and I equally. Today at a friend’s place Jay was training Dembe in the garden and Dembe was so totally focused on him. All this little dog wants to do is please us, be loved and be fed the occasional piece of cocktail sausage when he has been a good boy. If we had tried to do the training with the Weims they’d have put two fingers up and walked away. We loved the Weims for that, they were so independent, free thinkers, the hooligans we used to nickname them – in a loving way. The relationship we have with Dembe is so totally different, he lives to please and be told he is a good boy.

He has a lot of traits like the Weims had, he is almost like a mish mash of all their characters. He reminds me a lot of Frankie the way he is such a mummy’s boy, the way he herds me ( nudging the back of my leg with his nose) when following me into another room. The way he has to be with me the majority of the time, although Frankie would have never climbed into the shower with me, Dembe does this frequently. The girls however would regularly poke their heads around the side of the shower when I was in there. Willow was the most adventurous and would come in and have a drink! She was the water baby out of the three, she would run to the pond on the common and dive straight in for a swim. She always looked like a human when she was swimming due to the way she held her head out of the water. I always imagined her with one of those 1970’s  swimming caps covered in flowers. 

I am glad that we decided to change breeds after the Weimaraners.  Weims will always have a special place in my heart, too many years involved with them not to. I have owned 4 plus 18 puppies were bred from Mollie over two litters. Life without them is strange. However my eyes have been opened to the world of Labrador’s now and although I know each dog has a different character, I love Dembe’s character. I can’t get my head around the differences in breeds of dogs. I was quite ignorant before and just thought all dogs were pretty much the same. We have gone from hose pipe / shower averse Weims to a dog we can’t stop getting wet at the slightest opportunity. In the shower no problem I’ll join you mum, got the hosepipe on ? I need to chase that and bite the water. He has us in stitches every day.

I guess guilt is just part of my makeup, I have always been this way. I feel guilty about stuff I haven’t done. I think it comes from a sense of always being in the wrong, even though that is untrue I always felt that way. I always doubt any decisions I make for fear of getting it wrong. Now I am trying to break that habit, I know the guilt is just a stage of grief. I have been through it with every dog I have ever lost. With Travis for years I felt guilty that we had given up on him – despite being told his kidneys were failing and that he had less than 12 weeks to live. I felt the same way about Willow, not noticing how poorly she was quickly enough – neither of us did and the vet told us how stoic our dogs were and didn’t show any signs of illness until at death’s door. I felt guilty after Willow had a closed Pyometra despite taking her to the vets in the preceding weeks saying that there was something wrong with her. I felt the same guilt when she had breast cancer, even though the vet told us he was surprised that we had felt such a small lump.

See how the guilt eats at me. Even when I make the right decisions for my dogs or discover something early the guilt starts that I could have been better, spotted it sooner. It is a pattern I am trying to break but its hard when this has been your thinking pattern for over 40 years.

Although I was terrified of what people would say about us buying  Dembe so soon after Mollie & Frankie passed away, even though I knew it was absolutely necessary to preserve Jay and my sanity. Unless you have lost two dogs within a week you aren’t in a place where you can judge. You never know what you would do until you were in that position. I now no longer care what people say about it. 100% it was the right thing for us. 

Whilst I struggle with the guilt of loving him so much,  I am a work in progress. I am learning to deal with the guilt of being happy again.