Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Apartment Antics

Yesterday was my birthday and, perhaps because I'm spoilt or perhaps because I'm content, I couldn't think of what I would like.  "What do you want?" people would ask me over and over, "there must be something..."  I was sure there was.  All year I'd spot things in shops and think "I'll ask for that for my birthday."  But, when the question came, when the moment to mention all of those little luxuries came, my mind would turn absolutely blank.

One evening, my mum called.  "How about a weekend away with us and the dogs?" she asked.
"Ideal!" I answered wholeheartedly.  Parents and dogs.  What could go wrong?

From the moment I adopted Caesar, my dad has always been on board.  He had a soft spot for the ginger mongrel before I did and still refers to him as 'my pal' whenever we visit.  A weekend away, though, would ensure that the pair were anything but 'pals' by the time we arrived home.

After a debate with my parents about bringing two cars or all travelling in one in which I had insisted that one would be better, not least because I don't like driving, it had been decided that Caesar should travel in the back with Damien and I and wearing his car harness.  The reason for this was partly because the boot of the car will only fit a small cage if all 5 seats are up and I could not put 2 dogs in there for 2 and a half hours.  Caesar, however, can usually be trusted to lie sensibly in the boot without attempting any Houdini style escapes but then there would be limited place for the cases and cool bag full of food.  It was a logistical challenge but, after some time, it appeared that the best arrangement was: Caesar in the back in car harness with Damien and I, mum and dad in the front with Sat Nav and Gemma in her small cage in the boot with the suitcases.  It was foolproof....

I set off at 4 from my house having frantically and independently packed the car.  I had Gemma in the cage, Caesar in his harness and I was pulling off the curb when he began to cry.  "Shhhh...." I told him but he wouldn't.  The crying continued all the way to my dads house 10 minutes away.  It was punctuated with howls and whimpers.  "Shhhhhhhhhh......" I tried to stay focused on the road, wincing as the sound bounced around my head.
Caesar and I travelling in the car

"Oh dear," dad said as he took over the drivers seat.  "What's all that noise about?"  Caesar ignored him and continued along his road to total annihilation of my ear drums.  Now sitting next to him, I stroked him, talked to him, shushed him, shouted at him, ignored him, begged him and eventually gave up on him.  He was not going to stop crying, it appeared, for the whole trip.  By the time we'd picked Damien and mum up from their different places of work, it appeared that the car journey would be a trial for all of us.  Dad had stopped the car while I took Caesar to the toilet, I'd tried giving him water and nothing seemed to be working.

When we arrived, after 2 and a half hours of almost unbearable noise making, Caesar turned it up a notch.  Dad pulled the car up at the apartment and Caesar began to screech.  He had seen two dogs running around on the moorland and the excitement was more than he could take.  He knocked into my face and screeched some more.  He jumped up at the windows and carried on.  Dad had his head on the steering wheel and his elbows over his head trying to drown out the noise as we sat in the car park.  It was unbearable.

On the upside, the lodge was beautiful and, relived that Caesar had eventually stopped making use of his vocal range, we were able to settle down to a nice evening meal.  Being on the Yorkshire Moors had it's advantages and we got the dogs out for a walk in the heather before the sun went down and the rain set in.

It was a tad windy on the top of the moor.  Can you tell?

After a nice evening, we turned in.  I'd brought the large crate folded up in the car and opened it up to create a bedroom for Caesar and Gemma.  I was relieved when they climbed in straight away and curled up together on the cushion bed that I'd created.  We made little fuss about going to bed and left the light on a little while until they were settled.  "Phew..." I sighed loudly as I popped my audio book on and fell asleep before I'd even heard a full sentence.

When I woke, the apartment was still in darkness.  Something had startled me though and it took a couple of minutes to realise what it was.  Caesar was now whimpering quietly in the living room.  Every few minutes, he would let out a loud bark and then begin whinnying like a horse again.  "You're joking!" I said to Damien but he was fast asleep.  I tried to turn over myself but I was awake and after a while it became apparent that Caesar had no plans to allow me to sleep again.

I checked my phone. 4:00am.  Damien was stirring now and beginning to complain.  I tiptoed to the end of the bed, slid my feet into my trainers and walked into the front of the apartment.  Daylight was beginning to filter through the darkness to the tuneless song of Caesar's whines.  "Shut up!" I told him impatiently as I slipped open the crate and let him onto the laminated floor.  I searched for his lead and slipped his head collar on.  "Thanks for this..."

It's not often that you find yourself standing on the moor at 4am.  And, although the morning was beautiful, it's not something I'd like to make a habit of.  I walked Caesar around a bit and then returned to the apartment.  Popping him back in his cage due to the 'no dogs in bedrooms' rule, I hoped that this might settle him.  In truth, if not worse, he was much the same as he had been earlier.

At 6am, after two more hours of failed sleep, I took the duvet and retreated to the front room.  Perhaps if I slept with him he might calm down, I thought.  This, as with my other theories, was not true.  I felt completely helpless.  'At least there's no one in the apartment next door,' I found myself thinking as I shuddered in the cold room under the duvet.  Caesar paced back and forth on the tiles, his claws tapping on the tiles.

Caesar at a 'dog friendly' pub - shame he decided to scare everyone by suddenly turning into a howling monster and having to be removed when he heard a puppy yapping in the bar!

I try to be patient.  I really do.  And, often, against my own judgement, I've been told that I am a patient person.  Perhaps outwardly that may be true but, inwardly, I scream at situations like this.  I lay there and felt my eyes fill.  Why was Caesar determined to spoil my birthday weekend.  It's hard to remember sometimes that, no matter what you have done for them, at the end of the day they're still just a dog.  In a sense, like a spoilt child, they will just make a fuss and carry on when they're not happy.  And, unlike children, they will never reach a point where they realise that they aren't the only being on the planet that has ever been cold/hungry/bored/tired.

I have to admit, I don't do well when I'm tired.  I don't like my eyes being sore.  I don't like feeling drained.  I was supposed to be going out walking on the moors.  Now all I felt like was having a very long nap.  Or, if that failed, crying.  Caesar nuzzled my arm under the covers and tried to climb on the leather sofa "no!" I told him sharply and turned over.  He began to cry again.

I allowed the thought of putting him in the car and leaving him there while I had a nap to wash over me like a tide of relief and then rejected it.  I couldn't do that to him as much as I felt like it...

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Depressed or Grown Up?

When I adopted Caesar 2 and a half years ago, he was 2 and a half.  If you're a maths genius....or at the least know how to add up...you will realise that Caesar is now 5.

Five.  I've repeated it to myself, to friends, to Damien.  Five.  Half way to 10.  I suppose if you think about it like that though, I'm more than half way to 50.  Five.  I lay in bed one night looking at him as he lay motionless by my side.  Five years old.  That's still only young.  Isn't it?  I felt my eyes prick.  In human years, he's 35.  That's older than me.  But 35 is the new 25, right?

I didn't feel tearful about him turning 5.  Nor about the fact that, comparatively, he's lived more of his life than me, at least by the law of averages.  I felt a sudden panic that, at 2 and a half he seemed so young and how quickly our time together has passed.  How the moments have flown without my noticing.  Yet I wouldn't turn time back.  I couldn't.  I don't know how I survived the months of destruction and noise and panic.  The anxiety associated with opening my own front door to see if my house was still habitable.  To see if Caesar was harmed.  I gave everything to helping him through his difficulties.  He gave everything to learning to trust me.  And we've reached a point.  A pinnacle at which I never realised that we would find ourselves.  We have an understanding, a trust if you like; he won't destroy my house and I will always come back.  We have those moments where that balance slips; I stay out too long, he bursts a can of deodorant but it is extremely rare that we return to the destruction that was before.

Caesar now spends a lot of his time on the windowsill, watching the world go by.  On walks, he is still a nutter and he does like to bark at anything that moves whether out and about, in the house or in his favourite spying spot.

Caesar used to be one-hundred miles an hour about everything.  He would run around from noon until night, skidding, spinning, bumping, barging and generally being a nuisance.  Everybody used to complain.  He meant no harm, I w
ould tell them, but he did cause it.  He broke things, knocked things over, wrapped people up in his lead and was a pain wherever he went.

A few months ago, I stopped one night and looked at Caesar.  We were at my parents' house and he was curled up on the floor.  When did he start doing that?  The following day I took extra notice of his behaviour at home.  He was spending a lot of time lying on the window sill, watching.  Just watching.

Right now he is doing the same except for he's gotten behind the curtain so that if I hadn't seen him climb up an hour ago then I wouldn't even know he was there.  He's laid silent and still with the odd loud exhalation to remind me I'm not alone in the room.  I'm unsure what he's waiting for.

"Do you think he'd depressed?" my dad asked me.  I frowned.  I'm not sure what Caesar has to be depressed about.  He has lots of nice walks, treats, training and he sleeps every night by my side.  But I couldn't deny that he's definitely slowed down considerably.  At first, I thought he might be injured and choosing to move less to stop any pain but he seems fine while running around on walks.

Everyone had spent so long willing Caesar to calm down that, when he did, it almost seemed wrong.  This calm, placid, quiet dog is not mine.  Bring back the one that used to knock me off my feet!

Caesar keeps the wacky, loud, bustly, bumbly and clumsy version of himself locked away in a box.  It's the same box that we keep the leads and collars in in fact.  So, at least we get to see him when we attempt to go for a walk!!!!

Thanks for reading.