A Most Joyful Post

I wanted to wait until a month had passed before sharing our good news (which some of you already know) but we have a new addition to our family!

IMG_0385Meet JASPER!

He’s a Standard Poodle, a rescue, his background is sketchy but what we know is that he was with a breeder who may not have been as kind to him as they should have. He’s 3 years old, and when we first met him before Christmas he was calm but a little uneasy, he had kind eyes, but he wasn’t connecting in a joyful way with Gerry or myself.

IMG_0288I saw him on a rescue website, and on a fluke his foster mom happened to be in our neighborhood the day before we left for Southern CA and brought him by. We had to make our decision kind of quickly, I think I was more definite than Gerry was (although he wasn’t against the adoption, just not as certain as I was)

Jasper’s foster mom told us that he had been a bit nervous, had a few peeing accidents when he was scared or startled, and of course that was a concern. He even had a little ‘doggie-depends’ contraption to wear when I picked him up from the foster home on 1/4/13.

IMG_0346But what really sold me on Jasper were his eyes. He had incredibly kind and empathetic eyes. I feel that you can tell a lot from an animal if you listen with your heart (that sentence was a little maudlin, I apologize) and Jasper – who was called Chase by his foster family – seemed like a dog in search of someone to trust.

The kids reacted differently; Hannah was pretty upset that she learned about the possible adoption when I facebooked about it (totally understandable) and Max was neutral about the possibility.

IMG_0400During our 2 weeks away we discussed the dog a lot, and one thing that made the kids feel more engaged with the process was renaming him. Hannah hated the name Chase for some reason, we all have likes and dislikes that are hard to explain. Max suggested Jasper, and we all liked it. I felt it was close enough to Chase that it wouldn’t be too confusing, and as far as we knew he’d only been “Chase” for a few months.

I picked up Jasper alone, so it would be a calm situation. When I got home we realized that Jasper was scared of tall men and growled at Max when he first met him. It took about a week, but slowly Jasper and Max befriended each other (Max became “Mr. Walk” and “Mr. Food”, and that helped Jasper trust him).

IMG_0001 Hannah didn’t immediately bond with Jasper, I think she still felt a bit alienated from him because the process happened outside of her time at home, but slowly she, too, has come around and is loving Jasper.

The cats weren’t thrilled after having the run of the house for a few months, but it only took Ginger a little over a week to climb into bed and sleep next to Jasper. Nitro is longer coming around, but she’s definitely not afraid of him, and he’s not bothering her, so the path ahead looks clear.

IMG_2040Jasper is trusting us so much now, loving us, really becoming one of the family. One of the great joys of this dog is actually SEEING how his love for his new family is growing; it’s both touching and delightful. We are VERY lucky!

My friend London came over and Jasper fell head-over-heels in love with her! He wouldn’t get off her lap, just loving her, acting like a tiny poodle instead of a huge Standard. He also loves my friend Kathleen, he acts so excited and happy when she comes over. Loving our friends is a huge mark in Jasper’s favor!

We took Jasper to the vet and she gave him a clean bill of health. He was only fixed over New Year’s holiday, so he has a LOT more muscle mass than our last poodle, who was fixed as a pup.

He’s an unusual silvery-grey color with brown marks, really quite beautiful. His eyes are so soulful, he speaks volumes when he looks at us. We’ve trained him to do some small, silly tricks and also some helpful stuff like HEEL and STAY. He’s GREAT on walks, and never pulls when walking over ice (which is very important for both Gerry and I).

Obviously he loves this corner of the sofa...

Obviously he loves this corner of the sofa…

We took him for a family trip to our local dog run at Battle Creek Park and he was SO HAPPY! That really was a momentous event for all of us, it sealed the deal – emotionally – for both kids, and was the most joyful we’d seen our previously sad pup. We all felt very lucky to be part of that day, when Jasper let loose and showed how much he loves us.

So welcome to Jasper, our new love.

Best Friends


Those of you who know me know how much I love my dog.

Atticus is the best dog I’ve ever known.  He’s so smart, kind, gentle and easy.  He’s very empathetic (he seems to sense when any of us are sad, or having a lot of pain) and – above all – he’s a member of the family.

Atticus is very ill.  He started limping 2 weeks ago, and a visit to our vet left us with the best-guess diagnosis of arthritis and a prescription for a pain drug.

A week later his limp was worse, and when I ran my hands over his shoulders one morning, the right one felt much different than the left.  We took him to the vet again, and this time, after a few xrays and a pretty thorough exam, she said she feels that the loss of muscle mass in his shoulder is an indication that he has something called a Nerve Sheath Tumor.

Here’s what she wrote (she’s so wonderful, she emails me every few days to check on him, totally understanding how difficult the telephone is for me)

The … tumor … is something called a nerve sheath tumor. It can be very difficult to diagnose without an MRI or CT scan of the shoulder and elbow. It is a soft tissue tumor so it does not usually show up on an x-ray. It is usually fairly deep in the tissue and unless it gets very large it is difficult to feel on a physical exam. As these tumors tend to wrap around nerves in the neck/shoulder/elbow they can cause a lot of pain.

So every day Atticus seems a bit more limpy, a bit more in pain.  He’s taking several different pain meds (ironically, one of them is what I was prescribed for fibromyalgia) and his spirits are very good.  We want his quality of life to be good, his pain to be low, and his happiness is the most important thing of all.

Right now he’s just so happy to see us – any of us – he loves us so much.  He also loves getting his pills because we wrap them in cheese, so he feels like he’s won the lottery!


A Couple of Irish Laddies

I joked recently that it’s dangerous to be loved by me, because that seems to equal a diagnosis of cancer.  Okay, so it’s not funny, but it sure feels true some days.

Gerry’s had a rough couple of months. He’s doing very well in many ways, but the thing about Gerry is he has so much pride that he ALWAYS gets it together when seeing other folks.  But his pain levels have been high, and many days he gets up to see the kids off to school, then goes back to bed and sleeps until they arrive home.

As the weather warms and the sun is out more, I can see him coming back to life.  Warmer is easier for him (as long as it’s not too hot) and he’s dedicated this Summer to growing some decent grass in our yard.  We’ve also decided we’ll try a vegetable garden, but that’s another story…

We went down to the Mayo Clinic yesterday for tests, and to see his doc there (who we LOVE!) and she confirmed what I’d been thinking.  Officially, Gerry’s had a relapse.

Now, there are relapses, and there are RELAPSES.  This is more a movement in the direction we don’t want than a full-out health fail, but it’s notable.  I had a sense of this because of Gerry’s pain levels and exhaustion, but even though we’ve been at this five years, every day STILL seems like a new adventure.

Five years ago we were entering the diagnosis / care strategy phase, we were on the brink of being told that Gerry had one, maybe two years ahead of him, and his stem cell transplant wasn’t even considered yet.

So MUCH has happened since then, the most important being TIME.  Five years have passed, five really wonderful years, and we’re pulling for five, ten, fifteen more.  I’m greedy, I’ll take every day we can get.

So, I apologize for taking so long since my last post, and for not posting about knitting (which I really have to write about again one of these years…)

Some days it’s just really hard to try to put this into words for a blog, but it feels false and shallow to NOT address it.

Life’s been – busy – and also very rich and full.  I continue to think that we’re the luckiest folks in the world.

History On Two Needles

In other, most EXCITING news, I now have a tech editor for History on Two Needles and she’s running through the patterns like a rock star!

Huzzah, Kate, author of Beyond Knit & Purl, I am very lucky to have her on my team!!  Thank you, Cooperative Press!

I spent 6 hours reworking one pattern today, putting her suggestions into effect and creating a better schematic & chart, and I think we really have a good chance of getting this thing finished and printed by the end of this year.