He’s a pretty old man for only being 2

I’m just not feeling like myself today.

Yesterday evening Dietrich was in the yard by himself when he let out a sharp, panicked bark. I opened the back door for him to come inside and he barreled down the steps and into the laundry room (which is the same as the kitchen–have I mentioned we live in a shoebox?) like black greased lightning, crying.

His fur was up and his ears were down and he let me poke and prod him all over to see if something had bitten or clawed at him, but he was physically sound. For the rest of the night he shadowed me or the husband, whimpering when he changed positions. All day today he slept at my feet or cried in his bed, although he was fine on our lunchtime walk and trotted merrily through the park.

After some hemming and hawing about whether or not to find a vet and take him in, I called the other middle who said, in short, that obviously we want to take good care of our furbaby and if he’s acting so different than he normally does, it’s worth checking out.

So the husband and I paid the ER fee for a vet visit tonight (actually cheaper here than in the old days, which blew me away) and came home with a dog diagnosed with a chronic bad back. Yes, Dietrich is a 2-year-old grandpa. Poor baby.

He was a perfect champ during his check up! I rubbed his muzzle and talked to him the whole time while the husband held his collar and the vet lifted, pulled, twisted, bent, and flexed every last hair on our little guy* who didn’t bat a lash. He stared at me with his melty chocolate eyes and, call me a sap, but there was 100% trust there that I’m proud to have earned from such an amazing dog.

In conclusion, our not-even-three-year-old dog has a senior spine, which makes us sad for him but relieved it’s not something more serious, although as he gets older we have to watch for degenerative disc disease. And (surprise surprise, a customer service shout out) I could not have been more impressed with the customer service, friendliness, care, and efficiency at Caring Hands Animal Hospital and if you’re in DC or NoVA and need a vet, go here!! Major, major props to them.

We went to Caring Hands, by the way, because a stranger walking her dog in the park today saw me and the Dietster and wanted to introduce her little dog. I said Dietrich wasn’t feeling like himself and I didn’t think he’d make a great first impression, so she didn’t come closer but she did suggest that we go to Caring Hands on South Glebe if we needed to have a vet. Lo and behold, we did so we did now we do. 🙂

For the next five days Dietrich will be on pain meds and his bed. I guess I should probably start my meds too so we can lay around and cry together.

She called me a grandpa. Wah wah wah.

*He’s down from 85 lbs to 77 lbs, which is just right. When he weighed in at 85 for his last vet visit, the tech told me that’s really on the high end of what’s good for him. 80 would be perfect, but he’s my exercise buddy and we can’t help that we’re walking away the pounds. Although we will put him back on 4 cups a day instead of 3.

 

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Just like the old days but it’s the new days

After graduating from college, the dear friend–who premiered in my life as the college roommate–and I met for breakfast at the same restaurant every Thursday for about six years. Obviously, this can no longer be the case.

But today the dear friend and her mister flew into Baltimore, and the husband and I, with the help of our new GPS* unit, picked them up at the airport and went for Thursday breakfast just like it was the old days. And then we all strolled around Baltimore, went shopping, and had lunch because this is the new days.

When we got home from our B-more adventure, a box was waiting for me on the front porch. The little sister drew my name in this year’s sibling gift exchange and had told me to expect a hair dryer box not containing a hair dryer a few days after Christmas.

The little sister is a remarkably thoughtful gift giver. She is also a stylist, something I am always proud to tell people when talking about my family and something that accounts for the hair dryer box at her disposal. Inside this box with its bold Italian labels proclaiming the superiority (which I don’t doubt) of its original inhabitant was an array of cosmetic treasures that I cannot wait to use. She also included a necklace ‘because it didn’t seem right without something pretty.’

Yes, yes I will smell amazing and be frizz-free in the new year.

Me: Thank you for the great goodies!
The little sister: You’re welcome! And I hope you don’t mind the necklace. It seemed incomplete without something pretty to open.
Me: I love it. I don’t have anything like it and it’s not in the picture because I’m wearing it.
The little sister: Oh good! I saw it and thought of you. I got it at Target because I know you know how to get to the one near you and home again, just in case.
Me: Ahh, a doubly thoughtful gift. Oh! I also like the candy canes, which tumbled out of the box in a merry display of enthusiastic Christmas cheer.
The little sister: The mom added those.

This is the second time this Christmas that someone has offered a gift with the explanation, ‘I saw this and thought of you,’ and I don’t think there’s a more humbling or thoughtful thing to say to someone else.

On Christmas morning as the husband, his brothers, and I exchanged sibling gifts, the mother in law tucked a small square box next to me, bearing a tag that read from the mother in law and offering the excuse, ‘I saw this and thought of you.’

It is a truth universally acknowledged that cute gifts from Etsy must arrive in equally cute wrapping paper.

The strips inside the ornament are lines from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, a favorite, and whether it was the content or the concept of the ornament that made the mother in law think of me, I don’t know. I repacked the ornament as carefully as I had unpacked it and it’s now hanging in the shoebox, helping to extend Christmas until I’m darn good and ready to pack everything up.

Tonight, unable to eat out or partake of holiday food any longer, the husband and I went grocery shopping. In the old days, there was red velvet cake. But this is the new days, and in DC, the red velvet cake comes with a fork. If that’s not customer service, I don’t know what is.

Dime-size bites don't make it taste better but they do make it last longer. God bless the new days.

* For Christmas the husband and I received a GPS unit with all the trappings from the parents in law. It has proven a valuable addition to our navigational well-being.

It’s the little things

Last night I went to bed so the husband could wrap my Christmas presents on the other end of the shoebox and still maintain some mystery. When he was done, he came in to tell me good night.

The husband: All wrapped! And I got them on the first try, too.
Me: The first try? Do you normally give gift-wrapping a few drafts?
The husband: More often than not, especially for your gifts. I want them to look nice.

Well there I have it. You can live with someone through multiple gift-giving seasons and not find out for years that that person practices wrapping your gifts so that they are just-so.

When decorating for Christmas the other day, I was determined that my favorite ornament would be displayed, someway, somehow. I hung it from the edge of our pendant lamp, where the light catches it just right and I can see it from anywhere in the shoebox.

While working at the desk under said lamp, I noticed, for the first time in over 20 years of looking at this ornament, that it is translucent. The delicate swirls and swooshes on the back are visible through the fragile smoked glass indent on the front. Who knew? Even an old favorite like this gem can surprise.

An extremely sensitive press release I had to write today was approved by the House legal counsel with no changes on my first draft. The boss texted then, “good job, he is difficult to impress :)” and I think I actually chirped with glee.

Even when you think you’re doing a good job, even when you know you’re pretty good at what you do, a virtual pat on the back goes a long way. A simple “i like this a lot as is” can make a perfectly fine day a good one.

Working from home during the Christmas season means that I am here when the daily packages arrive for us or someone else in the house. I pop out of the basement like a prairie dog from a hole when I hear a truck rumble up in front of the house. Fortunately, today I had to send one and chose the UPS Store for my postal and social needs. I highly recommend them. The UPS guys, not needs.

The friendly young man helping me out even added extra stamps to two of my envelopes at no charge, “just to be sure.” Chivalry–and customer service–are not dead.

These are little things. And they are what give dimension to life.