Sunday, January 03, 2010

Ring out the Old, Bring in the New

New Year's Eve and New Years are always times where we sit and reflect on the year past and look forward to the year ahead.

I find myself in a somewhat similar place that I did in 2000 reaching towards 2001, but perhaps not as severe.

2009 marked some major changes in my life, some positive, some negative.

During the beginning of the year, I found myself kind of in a continual funk at work.  Add to that fact, I was carrying extra weight on my body that had a lot to do with my perception of myself.

Basically, I was not happy.  Work was not great, but it really boiled down to the fact that when I looked in the mirror, I was unhappy with myself.

I was continuing to compete with both my Border Boys (Duff & Robbie).  They were my rays of sunshine over everything else.  But, after the competitions, I was finding it more difficult to walk around from the pain in my knees.

The stress at work added with my weight caused me to have to increase my high blood pressure medication dose.

It was about the April timeframe when I finally got angry enough at myself to do something.  Anger is the best way I have of describing the feeling.  It is an emotion I am very familiar with and is something I have learned to both curse and bless at times.

It fired me up to start to work on calorie-counting and exercise around the time of April 20th.  I progressed to losing about 8 pounds by the time June rolled around but realized that I really wanted that extra guidance or rigor into my diet that I felt I needed.  Having used Weight Watchers in the past, I joined it online on June 10th and sought to really kick everything into a higher gear.

Well, it did.  By the time mid-October rolled around, I had lost about 33 pounds, was back to a lower dose of the high blood pressure medication, and the pain in my knees is only on occasion if I overstress them somehow.

I am down about 36 pounds to date but that is knowing that I have slowed my progress to get through a horrific budget season and chaos at home with a new puppy in the midst of 2 other dogs (until I lost Duff).

On the dog front, I had fallen into a bit of a pattern with my guys in the early part of the year.  I finally decided to retire Duff from agility at a trial in the end of May.  He just seemed to be struggling with things and while he enjoyed himself, I was concerned that he could injure himself.

Around early June, Robbie's vet was concerned with a blood draw from him and how fast his blood came out to test for heartworm.  We did a heart workup on him with blood pressure tests, EKG and chest x-rays.  His chest x-rays revealed an enlarged heart.  Though nothing really showed up elsewhere, she wanted to have a cardiac ultrasound performed on him.

The ultrasound showed mild cardiomyopathy where he had about a 5% deficiency in his heartbeats and a small regurgitation in his valves.  The amount was so minor as it could only be detected through the ultrasound.

The prognosis was to put him on cardio supplements but not actual medication.  His condition is not so severe that he has to be on full meds.

It was also around that time that I sent an email to Duff & Robbie's breeder regarding thinking about adding a new puppy sometime in the next 12 months.  I had thought of waiting until I lost one (hoping that would not be for awhile) but then thought that if Duff had his daddy's longevity and with Robbie's heart condition, though mild, I may want to act sooner than later.

I would like a puppy raised by my boys where Robbie, though 10 years old, is still of an age to enjoy one.

So, I had my order somewhat placed in the breeder's mind.  I wanted a girl.  I was bound and determined to mix boy and girl since Duff & Robbie could, at times, battle each other.  I also knew that I wanted the "reckless gene" that Duff had.  It is a confidence thing as well as a "woo-hoo" type attitude.

During July, Robbie gave me another terrible scare.  Kicking the latex soccer ball for him on a long run in the park, he yelped on the way out and came up lame.  I carried him home with Duff coming along for the 6-7 block walk home.  A trip to the vet that next day did not reveal too much other than a very strong suspicion it was not a knee but very likely a partial herniated disc in his back.  A regimen of strict crate rest and steriods worked wonders.

Robbie was actually off agility class for 2 1/2 months, meaning Duff was too.  Poor Duff, always an eager worker, was suddenly retired from everything.  We tried to make it up in other ways.

Earthdog came to mind on Labor Day weekend and the boys are always up for that.  It was at this event with a Border Terrier outing that a breeder mentioned the availability of a puppy from Robbie's co-breeder, Ann.

All I thought was, "I planned on a new puppy, but not in the fall.  Work is nuts right now."

After talking with Duff & Robbie's breeder, Jan, though, it seemed worth a trip to meet the little 12-week old girl in early September to see what she was like.

I was prepared to say "no" if it did not click.  Trouble was, I hear about her personality and she shares the exact same birthday as Robbie.

We met and she did seem to take an interest.  I liked her personality and she got along well with the boys (who were with me).  I took the plunge to add her to the household.

That first week was a little nuts, with me making sure the boys did not get into with each other.  But it was clear that they liked this new little girl.  Ghilley fit the household really well.

She reminded me a lot of Duff as a puppy.  Very full of herself and confident.  Wanting to play interactively with me.

After Ghilley arrived, though, it seemed like the deck of cards were falling around me elsewhere.

My friends lost their dog, Golly, Duff's buddy.  A week later, another long-time agility friend lost their dog, Dakota.  He was a dog that learned the joy of barking in agility from Duff.  Robbie's Mom died shortly thereafter, losing her battle with a heart-based tumor.

I was feeling more than a little paranoid but honestly did not expect to join that club in a couple months' time.

I made it through Christmas, feeling okay, but honestly a little meloncholy too.  Memories of my dad floated around in my head during this time too, probably contributing to some of my silence.

It was fun watching my nephews tear open toys but it was not the same.

So, 2009 came to a close.  Some people have said that they feel it has been a bad year.  Yes, in some ways it has.

But, I have a wonderful little miss who reminds both Robbie and myself that life is fun.  I have a new lease on life with a lot less body fat insulation (I do feel that in the winter) though I still aim for more.

Goodbye 2009.  I lost my MacDuff but his memories will always be with me and someday, we will be together again.

Onward to 2010 and adventures with my "little man" and "silly Ghilley".


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