Friday, December 8, 2023



When Charly started getting old, her good behaviour deteriorated noticeably…particularly in relation to food.  It became difficult to reinforce the rules given her deafness, but her misbehaviour could not simply be attributed to not hearing our commands.  As a young dog, she had kept her distance as we ate and maintained some manners, but as a senior, she threw caution to the wind.  She would come very close to us when we were eating.  At times she inched forward as my daughter ate “floor-picnic” snack plates…slowing creeping until her long tongue could lick something up.  “What do I have to lose?" she thought (I think), "A little chastisement?  Short ostracization?” 


It is this brazen disregard that I recall every December.  One Monday evening, we had gone out for dinner to celebrate my daughter’s birthday.  We had stopped at home first, and I should have taken two minutes to feed Charly.  I didn’t.  And, senior Charly no longer had the stomach or the patience to wait…not when there was wrapped up food underneath the Christmas tree (unbeknownst to us).  While we were eating, so was Charly.  When we came home, the living room floor was strewn with paper and aluminum foil.  We pieced together what it was that she had found.  The chocolate had come from overseas, and my spouse frantically called his family to find out what it had been, and how much:  four large chocolate bars in various flavours.  Simultaneously, I read out over the phone to the animal hospital staff grams and percentages of cacao from saliva saturated scraps of recovered paper.  Their calculations revealed a low level of toxin…until we found the extra-dark-chocolate wrapper.  Then, we all scrambled in the car and raced to animal emergency.  


Charly was fed charcoal to absorb the toxin and induce vomiting…three times over the course of many hours.  I cried as we left her and drove home in the dark.  I kept my phone by my bed, waking frequently and anticipating a call with dire news.  But, the sun rose and the next day passed.  She was going to be fine, the hospital staff said, and we should pick her up because she refused to eat any more charcoal.  That was the vet bill that led to the establishment of a savings account for Charly.  And that was the last time in our home that chocolate was ever left unattended.  


Happy holidays!!  Read more OldDogBlog on January 5, 2024.

Friday, December 1, 2023

Sled Dog


Charly spent many weeks as a puppy at my parent’s cottage in the prairies when it was winter – an early and heavy winter.  She loved the snow.  She loved stealing one of my red 2010 Olympic mittens off my hand and giving chase…turning and darting by me…taunting.  She was small enough at first that I didn’t need a leash for her – I could outrun her even in heavy winter boots.  I could grab that mitten and then a tug of war ensued.  She could get a lot of exercise running in that deep snow…that meant I could get more sleep.  But, slowly, she started to out run me and we had to use the leash in the yard and on the frozen lake.  Charly was terrible on that leash…so driven and excited – having tasted freedom.  My dad nicknamed her Sled Dog.  Sled Dog never totally accepted any leash. 

When my daughter was born, I started using a waist leash so I could push the stroller and also exercise Charly.  Sometimes we’d run together using that waist leash.  My weight kept her in check, though she pulled me off balance enough times for me to always watch for her triggers so I wouldn’t get bowled over.  Years later when she was 11, I was harnessing my old Sled Dog with the waist leash for a walk, and it broke right at the part where my belt joins the stretchy part of her leash.  In haste to get the morning routine underway, I connected it with a cookie-bag twist tie that was handy and hung onto the top of the stretchy part just in case.  Why did I attach that twist tie?  I honestly don’t know…because for thousands of walks we’ve been habitually harnessed to each other?  And now, that twist tie has held for over a year and a half.  I laugh to myself – all that we need is a wire to stay connected now.  Sled Dog has finally retired.

Practically perfect…even at Hallowe’en

Let’s ponder OldDogBlogs “Practically perfect” from March 13, 2024 and “Brazen” from December 8, 2023.   Essentially, let’s just add them to...