Day eleven – “eleven days with lena”

Wednesday, April 29, 2019

Today is moving day.  I am anxious to return home.  We have a good morning; but as I am about to leave the house, my sister calls.  She tells me that she and her traveling companion are having such a wonderful time that they would like to stay another week, and would I please please please say yes to anther week of Lena care.   I am paralyzed for a moment.  Of course, I want my sister to have a spectacular adventure in Ireland.  But for me, I committed to ELEVEN days!  I told her I would agree to stay for extra money (self-blood speaking).  She texts that she was only kidding and that she is ready to come home. I wonder.

Well, it’s after midnight now and no word.  Lena and I did walk earlier, and she did have a slight altercation with a man in a store.   A small nibble at his midsection, just a pinch really.  He was very angry, and I was freaked.  I scolded Lena and moved as quickly as I could out of the store.  I hustled home and even declined a short play date with two of her friends on the way.  I am sure one of the pooches was the one who was on hold.

I am happy to say Lena has eaten the entire bag of kibble. I hope my sister listens to my pointers and puts these good feeding practices to use i. e. fewer snacks, snacks in a bowl not in hand,  mindfulness of quality and quantity of food, etc.  Although; in her defense and in spite of my new found certainty, she knows her dog and has for close to sixteen years.

Lena is spoiled, quite an understatement; but one very good quality that poodles possess is their ability to learn and be trained.  You can not let your guard down for one minute, however, and think that you are the smarter one.




Day ten – “eleven days with lana”

Tuesday May 8, 2019

I have finally reached acceptance.  I understand Lena much better and poodles in general.

I learned today that poodles are one of the most intelligent of breeds.  They are herders, guard dogs, retrievers, hunters, swimmers, and excellent pets.  I have also learned that they are moody and are prone to depression if not exercised – euphemism for, “May Snap”!  One more detail, poodles are uncomfortable in chaos..too many people, dogs, children, etc. This is probably attributed to their sheep herding DNA.  They simply want to keep track of everybody while protecting their master.  Mercy!!!

I truly do not want to generalize about these characteristics.  Poodles like any other species are both loyal and foreign to their own DNA.  There is a strain; however,  that has been researched.  I am grateful for the warning.  “Forewarned is forearmed” Praemonitus, Pre-1500

Let’s get back to the day.  Overall everything goes well. There is good discipline with the food, and she is happy predictable Lena.  I feel guilty that I can’t take better care of her eyes.  This has been a concern and a struggle for me during this time.  I am very happy her Master will be back tomorrow.

No matter what I have learned about poodles and have observed about Lena, the most endearing mental picture I have of her is when she folds herself into a pup half her size and sleeps.




Day nine – “eleven days with lana”

Monday May 27, 2019

I can’t believe how much this dog loves chicken necks.  Of course, I do give them to her from my hand.  I have learned from a professional that dogs want to eat what their human is eating.  If you put the same food in their dish, they are not so interested.  This brings back the earlier memory of the popcorn.  I may try putting a chicken neck in her dish and see what she does.  I’ll put it in a moat. (see next paragraph)

Back to our day.  The morning goes well, I knew I would be out most of the day, so I put kibble in a dish in the middle of a plate filled with water (illustration below).  We walk quickly around the block.  On our route, we visit briefly with her chum, Leo. They have been friends for years.  Lena often posts herself in his yard waiting for him to come out.  It gets so humbling that both my sister and I avoid walking that block altogether.

Progressing on our stroll, I have a nice conversation with the human of another friend of hers. The man confides that Lena is unpredictable, and their pooch friendship is on hold.  I give a sympathetic look and say adieu.  I grumble to Lena while still shaking my head, “Get a grip, girl, you are down to one friend!”  She gives no sign of caring, but I know how much she loves her friends.

As to the evening, not much new.  Eyecare is mostly a warm wet towel around her head, and the bottle game is unfair.  I never get the bottle.


Day eight – “eleven days with lena”

Sunday May 27, 2019

This was a very busy day and an experimental one.  First of all, I stayed away Saturday night.  Lena has successfully convinced her Master and me of her frailty.  On one hand, she can be a snapping turtle and on the other a damsel in distress. ..blithe and needy, voracious and picky.  Even though I swore I would not fall victim to her charade, I have.

I was guilt-ridden Sunday morning when I crept into the house. I found her fast asleep with not one kibblet consumed and hardly any notice of my absence.  I was both relieved and annoyed. I wasn’t going to make a habit of abandoning my post (the thicker than water speaking).  But I was going to try and not go into agreement with her pretense.

This task is very similar to caring for babies: feed, play, change diaper, feed again, play more, sing, put to bed, and go try to get something done. I had more confidence now.  She ate, we walked, I placed her kibble in a moat to hold off ants (revised tip from veterinarian friend) and left to socialize and swim..such triumph!!

I returned in the evening. She was perky and happy.  We played bottle, she munched kibble, and I felt I was in control.  However, I remained aware that she could snap with one false move.  I kept my hands where she could see them and made all movements with warnings and calm.  I pray I am never called upon to do this task again; but know in spite of my whining, I will not regret this gesture.


Day seven – “eleven days with lena”

Saturday May 25, 2019

I woke this morning around 7:30 and was surprised.  Lena was not staring at me.  She was fast asleep!  I was freaked.  I tried to sleep again but my restless neurosis tripped me up.  I tip toed past her and heard her breathing.  I was relieved and thought that maybe she is feeling safe and doesn’t have the need to monitor me.  This is her nature and the instinctive nature of poodles.  I have read that they were used for duck hunting and for retrieving fowl from the water.  At some point “poodle” came from “puddle” because of their swimming ability.   I have also read that they have been bred and trained as herders and can get special licensing in Canada.  Yes, I can see that Lena is a herder.  This gives me better insight into her neurotic behavior and more fuel for my developing neurotic condition.

Since the water squirting episode, she has not let me go near her eyes.  However, she continues herding me and staying at my side.  I called her previous caregiver.  She was very helpful.  She told me to give the eye care a rest, and that Lena would get over it.

She did eat her kibble and a chicken neck.  I tried to pretend that it didn’t phase me, but I was greatly relieved.  I have become my sister.





Day six – “eleven days with lana”

Friday May 24, 2019

I am stressed because I want to go out tonight, but I am worried about how she will do if I should stay away for the entire night.  She is very dependent and after discussing this dog care assignment with many people, I am more aware that she is very old.  The consensus is maybe sixteen or older.  She is definitely blind in one eye and has had hip surgery.  I think she is also missing her Master.

We have had a good day.  We walked, she ate well, and I devised a plan to not have to scrub away at her eyes.  I squirted her with a hose.  I manage to get her body very wet then gave her a few squirts in her face.  She DID not like this one bit, but I could then dry her off and clean her eyes.  She looked beautiful!!

I did not stay away all night and am grateful because I did not leave a light on for her.  She was her usual happy greeting self.  We played, I wrote another post and felt much less neurotic.



Day five – “eleven days with lana”

Thursday May 23, 2019

This is a breakthrough morning.  I wake up early with Lena staring at me, of course.  I actually get up and don’t feel drowsy like the other mornings.  I take her kibble outside to appease her routine with her Master.  Later; she allows me to tend to her face and eyes, a task that terrifies me.  She is blind in one eye and her eyes are moist.  They need to be cleaned.  Also, she is temperamental and unpredictable. Usually, she tolerates the procedure, but sometimes she snaps.  Today she is cooperating.  Hygiene finished, and I have to leave – no time for a walk.

I return earlier than I wanted because I was afraid I left the broiler on.  I hate that fear of burning down the house of the owner of the animal I am caring for.  Oh, shudder.  Luckily; house is intact, and I did remember to turn off the broiler.  I make a mental note to either buy my sister a toaster or bring one from the residence.

We have a good evening and night.  We walk, and Lena is well accepting the dining rules.

She eats all her kibble and some of the special food that was left for her.  I am in heaven!

I have to confess that I am now a little more than anxious about Lena’s food consumption and the overall condition of this animal.  I am sympathetic to her Master’s neurosis and finding it difficult if not impossible to avoid contagion.



Day four – “eleven days with lena”

Wednesday May 22, 2019

I again wake in a very drowsy state. Lena, of course, is staring at me.  This is the morning that she attempts to speak.  I have seen this before from her.  A definite deliberate attempt to form words or her own interpretation from observation.  She is one very intelligent poodle!!

This is a very hot hot day.  She is a trooper accepting the new feeding turkey neck and a few nibbles of kibble.  We attempt a walk but only make it up one block and back again.  Once more, I feel I can leave and resume my life, which is slowly drifting away.

The evening is fairly normal.  We play our nightly “bottle”.  She keeps it and forgets where it is.  I lurch to find it and she goes berserk.  I mean, really BERSERK!  This plastic bottle is VERY important to her.

Also, one more observation.  Lena likes to eat at night.  I am wondering if that is her instinctive pattern from earlier times. I am going to work with it.  Why bother stressing about her appetite.

Close your eyes and listen.  Creatures that don’t talk are speaking all the time.

Day three – “eleven days with lena”

Tuesday May 21, 2019

I am backtracing now because I have let the days get ahead of me.  Oh yes, I remember.  I was in a stupor.  I don’t know what made me feel so massy.  I could not open my eyes, and there was Lena begging me in her very demanding scheduled poodle way.  I grumbled, got my bearings, and made it out of bed with Lena right behind me.  It’s not that she actually wants something.  She turns her nose up at food and would probably love to go outside, but that is not my routine.  So, she pops on to the sofa and goes back to sleep.  I struggled again with the T.V. to no avail but did manage to connect to Wifi.  Now, I am feeling more connected to the world, and can see that I will possibly survive eight more days.

Lena and I spend some time in her back yard.  This is her usual routine with my sister. This is when she eats her crunchies and plays with her bottle. The bottle is her constant companion and playmate.  She throws it in the air and catches it.  She dares anyone to take it and never allows it to be taken or tires of this game.  Finally, we take a walk and then I feel I can leave her to sleep while I get back to my life.

The evening is uneventful except she is doing well with her eating…kibble and chicken necks.  The only snack is a little popcorn.  She appears to love it, but when I put it in her bowl she looks at me as though I am trying to poison her.  There must be a whole strategy that dogs master in the art of begging.  I am on to her.