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Barking At Nothing, Teaching A Young Dog New Tricks & Chronic Pain

Yesterday evening the kids were taken home and peace and quiet once again reigned, as much as it can with a nutty puppy racing around, barking at nothing. He has a little perch at the end of the sofa where there’s no back rest, so that he can lie in the sun in the mornings and see the world outside at the front of the house. Which he barks at, constantly, even when there’s no-one around and nothing going on. The breeze moves the leaves on the wisteria above the window, he barks… a magpie lands on the opposite neighbour’s front steps, he barks… a bug walks across the front path, so tiny I can barely see it, he barks… any movement of any sort by anything and he barks at it.

This morning he’s out on the patio barking at the noise of the refuse lorries, the sparrows and the Police helicopter doing an overhead patrol. Like he has any kind of effect on these things… even the pigeons ignore him and the wind couldn’t care less if it makes him feel threatened. He’s not the bravest little soul in the world and introducing him to other dogs is going to be an uphill struggle. He was terrified by the big dog at The Mommy’s over the weekend and ran yelping from the French Bulldog next door that he met up with on Sunday on his way back from a walk with Bear. He was okay with the neighbour’s dog coming up to him and being nose to nose with him, but as soon as it started to snuffle, he leapt up and tried to pull himself from his lead.

Funnily enough later that evening, in the garden, with a fence between them, he was all bravado and barked at it like a mad thing. At some point they’re going to meet again, but hopefully he’ll have had a few lessons at the puppy trainers and met a few other dogs first and won’t be so defensive. He’s even scared of the tiny chihuahua a colleague of Bear’s owns. He met her once and she started yipping at him, she’s less than half his size and he backed off whimpering and tried to hide behind Bear’s legs. I’m only grateful he’s not a rottweiler or a bull terrier… that would be embarrassing for him, and us.! 😀

I’ve been trying to teach him to take his toys and blankets out of a cardboard box. It all started because there was an empty cardboard box on the dining area floor that terrified the hell out of him. Every time he went near it, he’d yelp and run. I sat on the floor with it, moving it around the floor and telling him it was okay until he came over and began sniffing it. Slowly but surely he’s gotten used to it and tried to chew on it a few times. Bear throws his toys in there to see if he’ll go get them, so far he’s only brave enough to take them out of the box when I hold the box open for him. Otherwise he’ll leave the toys there and find something else to play with.

As expected I lugged the heavy boxes down two flights of stairs, along with a suitcase that was stuffed to bursting, three other boxes and two bags. I went through what was left of the kids’ toys and sorted out the remaining cupboards in their rooms. All the tasks Bear said he would do. Two weeks ago. Not that I actually expected him to do them, that would be stupid, getting Bear to do mundane tasks is like trying to get blood out of a stone. Seriously, he’s 52 going on 16… anything not interesting or rewarding and there isn’t a cat in hell’s chance of him doing it. It’s why he lives on the Internet, reality isn’t even half as exciting as kitty meme’s and political debates with complete strangers.

He introduced me to his Twitter bubble a few weeks ago, as if I was likely to become a part of it… yeah, no chance mate, I like to know what’s going on under my own nose thanks and I don’t need to live and breathe Twitter to know what’s going on in the world. Especially as he tells me everything going on in the USA on a daily basis anyway, whether I want to know or not. The results of said lugging meant that for the past few days I’ve had damn near unbearable pain in my left hip and lower back as well as in my knees and shoulders. Bear’s answer is to go see the doc and let him harpoon me again… yeah, like fuck. I’d rather self-medicate.

It’s painless and controlled, unlike the harpooning sadist, who you can read about here if it interests you enough. Damned if I’m going back for more of that. Unfortunately the only half decent anti-inflammatory I can get without going OTC and alerting the sadist is Ibuprofen, in 200mg tabs which is like throwing stones at a tsunami. Chronic pain is a real bitch… always. I once had a bone scan to check for the spread of fibromyalgia. They found that I didn’t have fibromyalgia but couldn’t tell me what was wrong as I wasn’t presenting with the usual signs of arthritis or rheumatism or anything recognisable, although they did agree that something was wrong with my joints.

Exercise is always the advised treatment, but let me tell you something you only find out after you’ve been to a physio and spent weeks on end in agony… exercise doesn’t do shit for chronic pain but make it worse. Physio does nothing because no-one knows what’s wrong with you, so they have no treatment for it, so they put you through a range of exercises designed for people with rheumatism and osteo-arthritis and arthritis, but as you don’t have those, it does nothing but cause you more pain. Exercise makes the pain worse because you’re moving your joints in a way they’re not used to and they’re rubbing against tendons and ligaments in a way they wouldn’t usually.

Walking exacerbates the pain. Every doctor and physio I’ve ever seen said to go walking. I walked. I walked for 10 minutes every day for a month. Then I walked for 10 minutes twice a day for another month. Every day I’d dose myself up on anti-inflammatory’s and painkillers and walk. Every night I’d cry from the agonising pain in my hips and lower back that stopped me sleeping and made me more and more depressed because of the pain and the constant pressure to walk, being told it would get better. It didn’t. I spent six months walking and am now in a worse state than I was before I started. Now my knees are screwed too and I have to wear lightweight shoes, because anything too heavy causes pain in my ankles and knees.

Puppy’s Perch… for to bark at everything and nothing…

claytoonz

Nationally Syndicated Editorial Cartoonist

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