I’ve lost my shadow.

Wicket came into our lives almost exactly six years ago. Mr. Sandwich had finished up a bike ride and was buying soda at the corner store, and a tiny beige mop of a dog walked up and put its paw on his foot. He looked at it and said, “Okay, follow me.”

I was at home, taking one of the very few naps I got during my pregnancy. I heard him say, “Sweetheart? I need you to come look at something.” He was holding back the beige mop, who was trying to come into the house. I said, “Did it follow you home? Well, let’s put it in the back yard so it’s safe.”

He bathed the dog, and I made a trip to Target to buy food, a leash and collar, and a bed for a small dog. I had no idea what I was doing. I bought a cat bed.

We put up signs, and posted online, and eventually–because we were going out of town for Thanksgiving, and because you’re required to by law–we took her to the shelter. But we also put in for first rights, because we knew we weren’t going to leave her there any longer than we had to.

She cried when we left her there, and she was so happy when I picked her up. When she rolled on her back for tummy rubs–which was often–she looked just like an Ewok. That’s how she got her name.

At first, she was reluctant to overstep. She leaned rather than sit on my lap. She looked for permission to go through the doorway. But soon she was comfortable and secure enough to snuggle. She would lie on my lap as I sat on the back patio; I would pet her tummy, and we both would fall asleep. She kept my weight and my blood pressure down through most of my pregnancy, and when I had to leave early for maternity leave, spent hours curled up on the couch with me.

When Baguette came home from the hospital, Wicket instantly recognized her as one of the family. When Baguette would scream incessantly, Wicket would place tortilla strips–her very favorite treat, which we hadn’t meant to give her, at Baguette’s feet. When we set up Baguette’s crib, Wicket walked into the room, looked at what we were doing, and walked out. A minute later, she came back and gently laid a tortilla strip inside the doorway. She was giving Baguette a housewarming gift.

She almost never barked. For months, my father-in-law was convinced that she had been de-barked. But she had the ability–she was just too kind-natured to disturb anyone that way if it wasn’t absolutely necessary, like when she first came home from the shelter and announced to the neighborhood that she had a home, or the time she defended the house from Mr. Sandwich mowing the front lawn.

She was oblivious to earthquakes.

She let Baguette learn the word “gentle” on her, and never retaliated for the tugging and grabbing that a toddler can inflict, no matter how quick those toddler’s parents may try to be. She never scratched or snapped or bit, although we wouldn’t have blamed her if she had.

She sat with me through miscarriages 3 and 4, and kidney stones, and last month’s bout of pneumonia. She always gravitated toward the sick person in the room, knowing that they could use a little extra love.

She learned the word “walk,” and then she learned what “W-A-L-K” meant. We switched to code words, and she never did decipher “frisbee.”

When we went out of town, she went to Mr. Sandwich’s parents’ home. She loved visiting them so much that we called it “Wicket’s Disneyland.” She loved car rides (although when she arrived at the vet or the groomer, she was always disappointed). She loved walks, and other dogs, and every person in the world.

She had terrible teeth, and every year fewer of them. Until the past few months, she almost never had an accident overnight, no matter how late we opened the dog door the next morning. She was largely deaf, and very nearly blind, but she could still see me.

She followed me everywhere. I was almost never out of her sight. If I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, she came with me. If I went out back to hang up laundry, she joined me.

She’s been getting sicker for the past six weeks, even though for most of that time she was still dancing around me and scrambling onto the couch and rocketing out the door for walks. She had a cyst on the outside of her ear, and had a seizure or stroke, and developed pancreatitis. We’ve been adding milk thistle to her morning meal, and pumpkin and fiber to her evening meal. She loved bananas and strawberries and most of all asparagus, but she hadn’t gotten any of those recently because the pancreatitis meant she was on a prescription diet, and we wanted to be sure she had stabilized before we modified that on even the smallest scale.

This morning, she didn’t get up with me the way she usually did. When I set out her food, she walked away from it–twice. She threw up, and she trembled. I brought her bed out into the living room and tucked her under her blanket. She never stayed under that blanket, but she was under it for hours today.

I took her to the vet, who gave her more antibiotics and fluids and nausea medication, and told me to bring her back before closing for more fluids. I went to work. When Mr. Sandwich brought Baguette home, he called me to say that Wicket had fallen out of her bed and was having seizures. I raced home to find him cradling her in his arms. He handed her to me, and she relaxed and nestled a little. But her breathing was shallow and labored, and her legs kept going stiff.

We took her back to the vet, earlier and more urgently than we had planned. I held her on my lap in the car, and Baguette fell asleep in the back seat. Mr. Sandwich went in to tell them that we needed to go straight into a room, and they escorted us in. I cradled her head, and with Mr. Sandwich balancing a sleeping Baguette, we petted Wicket while they gave her a shot to help her relax.

She went within moments.

We were with her, which is what she wanted. And we were with a vet we trust absolutely, which is what we wanted. Except that of course we didn’t want this at all.

When we got her, everyone estimated that she was 12 years old. The average age of a toy poodle is 15 years. The best guess is that she made it to 18. That’s amazing, but it wasn’t enough.

Later this evening, I will mix pumpkin and fiber into no one’s food. No one will sit on the bathmat while I shower. At midnight, no one will follow me to the bathroom. Tomorrow, I will clean up no one’s soiled training pad.

We’ll have other dogs. She was our first, and right away she taught us that we wanted dogs in our life.

But I’ve lost my shadow.

October 2015: Scarier Than You Think

So I’ve had pneumonia. That’s meant too may trips across town to the doctor, and lots of medication. Unfortunately it’s been hard to rest, because even with taking sick days from work, Baguette still needs to go to school, and I need to drop her off. And Wicket had had a mysterious sore on her outer ear that required several vet trips for antibiotics, bandaging, rebandaging, and bandage removal.

But on the days when I didn’t have a doctor’s appointment, I took naps. Naps help. And that was my plan for Thursday–even though I did have an appointment, it wasn’t until early afternoon. So: school drop off, nap, early lunch, doctor’s appointment. It seemed like a good plan.

What that plan didn’t include, though, was what happened before Baguette woke up. Wicket, who is normally an exceptionally continent dog, had two accidents in the kitchen that morning. We never get upset at her for going in the house, because she actually works really hard at not doing that. If the dog door is closed and she’s really desperate, she scrupulously keeps it on the tile (I tried putting down paper; she went next to it and then looked at me with an expression that said, “I did’t want to mess up your nice paper! It looked special!”)

Then she started vomiting. This is something that happens only when her stomach gets too empty and she brings up bile, and we have changed her feeding schedule to accommodate that. What never happens is vomiting six times in a row.

Then she couldn’t climb onto the couch cushion that was on the floor. This from a dog who, the night before, had been jumping onto the couch with only her usual intermediate step (floor to giant memory foam thing to couch).

Then she started tilting her head to the left. Then she stopped being able to stand up. She just lay there, breathing heavily. I brought her bed out from our room so that she would have a soft spot to lie. Then she started frantically rolling, over and over in seemingly endless circles that flipped her out of her bed, but didn’t end the rolling.

I thought she was dying. I said goodbye, I told her that we loved her, I told her she’d taken good care of us. I cried and cried. I made Mr. Sandwich get off the bus as soon as he could so that he could pick up one of the counter-traffic buses and get home, because I had to take Baguette to school, but I couldn’t bear the idea of leaving Wicket alone. It was absolutely terrifying.

During her second bout of frantic rolling, it seemed like she was trying to get her collar off. So I took it off for her–and she was still. The rolling stopped, and she just lay down, exhausted but calm. I called Mr. Sandwich back, just before he was about to get on the northbound bus, and told him that I thought he didn’t have to come back, after all. I got Baguette up and fed and dressed, and had her say goodbye to Wicket, just in case. And then I crossed my fingers and took her to school.

When I came home, Wicket was still exhausted but calm. I called the vet and they had me come in right away. She still seemed like her normal self, albeit unusually tired.

What the vet thinks happened was this: The day before, Wicket had gone to the groomer. It was the place we’ve been taking her for at least five years, but that day there were different techs, and they gave her the fastest grooming to date. So the best guess is that she got stressed out by the speed grooming and her blood pressure went up, causing a small seizure or stroke. They gave her some medication to settle her stomach and sent her home.

I went to my doctor’s appointment. On the way, I started to have chest pains. My doctor gave me an EKG, and everything was normal, so it was probably just stress.

Here’s the thing: We’ve had Wicket for six years, and everyone’s best guess at the time was that she was 12 years old. That means she’s now 18. Overall, she’s in great shape–she may nap a lot, and she may be missing more than half of her teeth, but she loves her food and her walks. People are always amazed to hear how old she likely is. And no matter how long we’ve had her, I’m not ready for her to go.

The food has changed; the blood tests and x-ray showed that she has pancreatitis, so she’s on a prescription low-fat diet for the rest of her life. She’s had antibiotics and fluids, and is stronger and back to her usual scramble onto the couch. We each have follow-up appointments next week.

So all of that? Is why I can’t remember which day last week I had another kidney stone.

This October is not easy. I think this sums it up:

Auld Lang Syne

When I was younger, I thought it would be fun to go to a big, blowout New Year’s Eve party.

I never did. I’m totally fine with that.

First of all, I didn’t want to go by myself; I wanted to go to that kind of party with a boyfriend. And I almost never had a boyfriend, which limited my opportunities. (I did once go to First Night in Manhattan with a friend, her husband, and her brother, but I’m not even sure that was a set-up; I think we just all wanted to go to First Night.)

So what have been my favorite New Year’s Eve celebrations?

Growing up, we would have dinner at a Chinese restaurant and then see some blockbuster or other. That was always good.

One year–I can’t remember whether I was dating Mr. Sandwich yet–another friend invited me to a party at her brother’s Manhattan apartment (different friend, different brother, same Manhattan). But it was supposed to snow, and my block was always last to be plowed, and at the last minute I canceled because I wasn’t sure I’d get home. Instead, I spent New Year’s Eve curled up on my couch, watching movies I can no longer recall and eating either Chinese food or pizza. The details don’t matter, because what I do remember is that it was a great evening.

When we were dating, Mr. Sandwich and I spent one New Year’s Eve with his friends, starting at Cheesecake Factory and moving to one friend’s nearby apartment; we spent others playing board games with some of my friends.

The year we moved into our house, we hosted a party at which I learned that if I’m going to drink, I really need to eat dinner. Or at least lunch. But that lesson didn’t make itself clear until after everyone else had gone home, so the party itself was a lot of fun.

Since then, we tend to stay home, safe from the drunk drivers of the world. Last year, Bestie and her parents came over for dinner (we planned to start early, to reduce their odds of being menaced by drunk drivers on their return). A good time was had by all, including Wicket–although the hat placed on her head spoke more to her tolerance than to her awareness of the passage of time.

This year, we have planned absolutely nothing. It’s been a busy couple of weeks, with lots of events filled with people who want to see Baguette. She’s done really well with it, but she needs plenty of downtime. We all do. So we have no plans, and I think it’s going to be another great evening.

So to all, near and far–may you have a Happy New Year. And those good wishes aren’t just from me. They’re also from Wicket.

small dog wearing Happy New Year hat and leis

Happy Anniversary, Wicket

In November 2009, Wicket followed Mr. Sandwich home from the corner store.

Five years ago today, I picked her up from the shelter.

Based on everyone’s best guess, she’s 16 or 17 now. She sleeps more and she can’t jump onto the couch from the floor anymore, but she still loves her walks and her food and her tummy rubs.

I have too many Wicket stories for one post. But this dog, who is not at all the dog we imagined or expected, is one of the best things to ever happen to us. She brings us so much love and kindness, and we are really grateful that she found Mr. Sandwich on that corner.

So here’s to Wicket. And here she is today, in all her Wicket-y glory.

apricot toy poodle


Monday Listicles: 10 Ways Our Family Says I Love You

This week’s Monday Listicle is “10 Ways to Say I Love You.”

1) When Mr. Sandwich slides his warm feet across the bed to take the chill off my cold feet.

2) When Mr. Sandwich gives me socks to warm up my feet.

3) When Mr. Sandwich puts the socks on my feet for me.

4) That Christmas Mr. Sandwich gave me the exact slippers I wanted.

Clearly I really don’t like having cold feet.

5) The way, when I am violently ill, Mr. Sandwich will wrap me in a blanket or towel and just hold me.

6) The way Mr. Sandwich is always in my corner, even if I’m the one who’s being a jerk.

7) The way Wicket waits by the front door all day long so she won’t miss the moment when I get home.

8) The way Wicket gets up in the middle of the night to follow me to the bathroom.

9) The way Baguette ignores everything else in the universe when I show up. She almost never says “I love you,” but, wow, does she let me know.

10) The way Mr. Sandwich and I constantly say “I love you,” because our relationship is based on clear communication, and we don’t want there to ever be any doubt.

Best Saturday Ever (So Far)

Yesterday Baguette started taking swim classes again, and then we had lunch at Carl’s Jr. with Bestie and her family, in what has become something of a Saturday tradition. (It used to be McDonald’s, but we all got tired of McDonald’s, and their “we’re a coffee house” rebranding means that they don’t have booths, which we really need to corral two bubbly little girls, and for crying out loud, why don’t fast food places have changing stations?)

After we eat, we go outside to the tiny strip of grass behind the parking lot and let the girls run around. They have a playdate, energy gets burned off, and then we go our separate ways for naptime.

Baguette is nap-resistant (as I may have mentioned), and yesterday she only slept for an hour before coming out to the living room. But it turned out that the pool and the playing really had worn her out, and she fell back asleep with us–and stayed that way for almost another two hours.

That meant that I spent Saturday afternoon with my daughter snuggled up against me under a blanket and the dog in her bed next to us, while Mr. Sandwich and I stretched out from opposite ends of the couch and watched several–several!–back episodes of Cougar Town.

Later on, there was a massive meltdown (purple snow pants were both essential and intolerable). But that doesn’t take away from the fact that when all of us were cosy and curled up together as a family, I had everything I’ve ever wanted in life. all in one place, all at the same time. It was the best, most magical Saturday afternoon I’ve ever had.

This morning Baguette wanted to ride her tricycle, and let me tell you, helping a little girl in robot pajamas and pink owl rainboots steer around the block on a Radio Flyer trike? Makes for a pretty good Sunday morning, too.

Radio Flyer & Tricycle

Photo by mollypop, via Flickr. Creative Commons.

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead

So one of the blogs I follow is titled Sleeping Should Be Easy. And you’d think, wouldn’t you?

But apparently not.

As I’ve written, Baguette is not a fan of sleep. She is a master at finding ways to keep herself awake, even when she’s clearly exhausted. And then there are nights when she does a decent job of going to sleep, but for some reason wakes up–awake!–at 2 or 3 in the morning.

Last night was one of those nights.

Baguette kept punching and climbing on Mr. Sandwich in her sleep, so I kept pulling her back to me and holding her. Eventually, I think she settled down.

Then, at about 2, she woke up and wanted to talk. I tried hushing her, and she’d settle down, and then she’d rev back up. So, finally, I said, “Do you want to go in the living room with Mommy?”

She said, “Yes!” slid off the bed, ordered, “Come on, Wicket!” (the dog’s bed is in the corner) and waited for me to get up.

Thankfully, she didn’t want to watch TV. No, she wanted to lie down on the couch and snuggle with me under a blanket.

Yes, that is exactly what we’d been doing in bed. Where it was warmer.

Wicket, meanwhile, came out but did not want to stay in her other bed, which sits just above the couch. (Mr. Sandwich built a platform for it, it doesn’t just hover there–although that would be cool.) No, she wanted to come down and sleep on the same couch cushion that Baguette and I were using for a pillow.

This is why we don’t let the dog on the bed.


How Was Your Weekend?

Ours started a day early, kind of. On Friday, Baguette’s cast came off (huzzah!). What was her response to this development?

Sock all gone. I got a foot!

At the moment she walks with that foot turned out, and she still has a bit of a peg-leg pirate walk, but she’s rapidly getting back to her normal gait–and activity.

Since she’s Baguette, that activity includes not sleeping. We were up at midnight, driving around Los Angeles and environs at midnight. (You think I’m kidding? I’m not. We’re talking at least 20 miles of driving, and not all of it in town.)

Since we’re the Sandwiches, Saturday did not mean sleeping in early. Quite the opposite: we got up at 3:30, because Mr. Sandwich was entered in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon. He did quite well, finishing in the top 1/3 of his age division, and Baguette got to spend the morning on the beach. Let me tell you, this is one fearless toddler. And that means that when you’re her parent, and she won’t stop rushing toward the waves, you are definitely not fearless.

An early morning and extensive beach time did not mean that she had a good nap. No, she slept for about 30 minutes and then was awake for the entire afternoon.

Awake and tantrum-y.

But eventually even her strength of will could not overcome her exhaustion, and at 6:30 p.m. (6:30!)she passed out on my lap. We carefully moved her into the bed and settled in for a night of streaming video. That’s right, it was Date Night, Sandwich Edition. What did we watch? Captain America, of course (Avengers not being available yet, and both of us feeling that Thor would be ruined–ruined, I tell you!–by the presence of Natalie Portman). Now, Cap has never been my favorite superhero, and I had some issues with the movie–but it was fun, and we really enjoyed the chance to curl up on the couch and watch something of our own choosing while endlessly petting the dog’s stomach (Wicket is indifferent to TV as long as she is getting petted).

We made it to bed at about 11, which meant that when Baguette woke up at 3:30, I really, really hoped we’d be able to get her back to sleep. We couldn’t. But that’s okay, because we would have been getting up too soon anyhow: shortly after 5, I left for the ER, where it was determined that yes, I had another kidney stone.

Some Dilaudid and several hours of fitful sleep later, Mr. Sandwich and Baguette arrived to pick me up. We went out for breakfast and picked up some groceries, and then went home so that Baguette and I could nap. Which we both did, successfully. Our evening was low-key, and we made it to bed at about 9. Everyone slept through the night, and Baguette woke up on her own at 6, which (combined with the night before) tells me that, barring teething or broken legs, her tendency is to sleep for 9 hours at night.

Meanwhile, I’m still tired. You?

Captain America Shield

Photo by abuckingham, via Flickr.