Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dog tales!

After a busy summer, I finally have a moment of calm to write.

As the title, suggests, recent events have led me to talk about dogs!
I've been meaning to talk about Schatzie, our dachshund, for a long time, to share the many similarities between her and Cédric.
Saddly, because of back problems that gave her unbearable pain, Schatzie left us for eternal, pain-free rest, but I still want to talk about her, to honour the memory of a this one-of-a-kind little dog.

In the past couple of years, I noticed similarities between Schatzie and Cédric that made me wonder. Schatzie had anxiety attacks and was very sensitive to routine change and separation, she was clumsy to the point of hitting her nose when turning her head, she had food intolerances, she didn't play with toys the way you would expect, she was impulsive and a flight risk (and therefore alway on leash or attached in front of the house), she even had some sensory sensitivities and preferred lying down on me if I had my soft pjs on. All this led me to joke that she was on the autism spectrum!! Of course it was only a joke, which I hope won't offend anyone. It just really amused us to notice these similarities between them, and Dave and I joked a few times about the possibility that our parenting style had something to do with all of Cédric and Schatzie's behaviours...
Now that she's gone, I must add that she was an extraordinary dog, with an unmatched sweet personality and full of humour and happiness. She was Cédric's first dog and she never hurt him, even though the opposite is not true. He pulled on her hair and walked on her tail a couple of times (without any mean intention) and shes always reacted by leaving or giving him a little kiss. We will miss her a lot!

I wasn't planning on talking about her death that I hoped would happen in a long time, but such is life. One of the hardest parts of Schatzie's decline was explaining it to Cédric. I think he noticed that she wasn't as active and as much around in the last few weeks. Twice at the very end, she came out in the kitchen while we ate and Cédric started crying for no reason. Did he feel our worry and sadness, or maybe even Schatzie's pain? I talked to him a few times, to tell him she was in pain and she might leave us.. I debated a lot about the idea of allowing him to say good-bye. But she was in so much pain, she wasn't herself anymore, and I don't think he would have understood. To this day, I don't know if he is conscious of her death. After we had Schatzie put to sleep I talked to him a few times about the fact that she was in too much pain and that she had left us for ever. But is is very hard for me not knowing if he understands, not knowing if he misses her as much as I do, and not knowing if I handled the situation the best way for him.

And what followed makes me wonder just as much... I knew I wanted another dog right away. I couldn't bear the thought of coming to an empty house without a wagging tail, without wet kisses, without soft hair to pet. But there were decisions to make and as with all our decisioins, theyr were made more complex by autism.
We first thought of adopting a retired racing greyhound. But after meeting ne with Cédric, it turned out he was a little scared of such a big dog and their size created risks, in the stairs for example. After eliminating that option, we had to decide between an adult dog and a puppy. With Cédric, I thought an adult dog would be calmer and therefore a better idea, and it would be easier than a puppy to take care of. But someone suggested that a puppy gets used to whatever it's raised with, whereas an adult dog already had a personality with preferences, fears, etc., and that a young puppy would be more apt to getting used to Cédric and, for example, not bite him out of fear. So we decided on a puppy and chose a medium size breed so that Cédric wouldn't be scared but also couldn't hurt the dog too much, with a calm temperament so as not to make Cédric more active than he is, and who wouldn't shed too much.

So let me introduce you to Kimura, our little shiba inu female:

All that remains is to make sure to raise her so that she's as tolerant of Cédric as Schatzie was and hope that Cédric gets attached to her and is careful with her. Piece of cake, right? :/
For now, he seems to find her cute but he's a little jealous of the attention we give her!