The Adventures of Zorro

Back on December 25, 2012, a jolly ol’ elf left a special little gifty for our son T…..a Bearded Dragon named Zorro.  I’m thinking the jolly ol’ elf really has something against me; he keeps bringing gifts for my boys that mommy and daddy (well, maybe just mommy) wouldn’t normally buy for the kidlets.  But when it came to Zorro…. Really, what was he thinking!!!???!!!

Baby Zorro

Baby Zorro

Needless to say, it’s been an interesting year getting to know our little reptile. We are *all* fascinated by the little bugger. He is pretty cute. We enjoy watching him catch his crickets. Despite being told that Beardies (as they are called in the reptile world) like fruits and veg, we haven’t seen Zorro being very health conscious. Although, T did manage to video him chomping on some lettuce one night.

He has deemed me as the “pretty one.” He always diverts him attention to me when I enter the boys’ room, and when we let him “out-and-about” he does tend to crawl over to me.

He loves to hang on peoples shoulders and just watch the world.

scott and zorro

During the times when Zorro is “hanging out” with his peeps, he can be entirely motionless for a long time, but then he ZOOOOMMMMS around the room. Quick little dude!  He has become “trapped” under couches, behind cabinets, and the one time we let him “roam free” in the yard ( lets just say we won’t be doing that anytime soon) he zipped over to the bushes and bark mulch and we had a very hard time finding him because he blended so well!

I think the biggest (and hardest) adjustment we had to make was the crickets that Zorro eats. It’s like a pet within a pet.  We have a cricket-keeper, where we hold about 100 crickets per week.  T is responsible for feeding the crickets and cleaning out the box. When Zorro was a baby (and that didn’t last long enough!) he ate “tiny” crickets. But at about 4 months, he graduated to the “large” crickets….aka…..the chirping kind.  I felt so bad for M (who shares a room with T). It’s one thing to have to deal with T’s snoring, or love of night-lights….which have now been replaced by Zorro’s red night lamp.   But to have to sleep with chirping crickets—-that boy deserves a medal!!

This summer, I turned into Cricket Warrior Princess. There was one cricket—I called him King Cricket–who made  nice home for himself in Zorro’s log. And he chirped and chirped and chirped…..LOUDLY every day and every night……for 2 weeks.  I would go into Zorro’s cage with a pair of tweezers to try to “fish out” the crickets from the log. Kinda help Zorro out finding his food (it got to the point where he stopped “hunting” for a while because he knew the Pretty One would get his food for him).  Anyway….I just couldn’t get King Cricket out.  And then….one night….I saw him. Holy Guacamole….he was HUUUUGGGGEEEEE!!!

I told Hubby that my plan was to cut a section of the log to create a bigger opening to go “Cricket Hunting.” Hubby thought I was nuts. And I was becoming more nuts with each passing day. The alternative was to send me to the funny-farm, so he gave me his blessing to cut the log. Funny, I wasn’t give the opportunity. M-Man wanted the honor.  As you can see from the picture, he (we) meant business!

Cricket Hunters

Cricket Hunters

It worked! Within 2 days, I was able to capture King Cricket, and I was never happier to watch Zorro chomp on a cricket! Luckily, since then the crickets have been on the “quiet” side.

Zorro is now about 10 months old. He is getting quite big. Almost outgrowing his 50 gallon tank. There are days where he is somewhat boring, sleeping most of the day. Other days he amuses us with his funny poses or smiles.  He kinda fits well with us!

Catching some rays...

Catching some rays…

 

Grieving

apparently, it’s been a long time since I have grieved for someone I cared so very deeply for. And certainly, I have never grieved for someone who I spent 14 years living with.

It’s been a tough week.

I take great comfort in acknowledging a few things. 

First, I was a pretty darn good doggie-mommy.  For several years after the twins were born, I actually told people that I’m probably a better doggie-mommy than baby-mommy.  Dogs are, for the most part, simple creatures to figure out. Kids are *always* changing on you. From the start, I treated Aspy as a member of our family. She was my first pet. She was my baby-girl. My “practice” for when the real kids came.  I’m very thankful for Hubby letting me (and have the ability to) buy the “premium” dog food, and take Aspy to the vet for whatever ailed her.  First it was numerous ear infections, then when we moved East, she developed massive itchiness on her neck, and then later, her arthritis and thyroid issues took over. For 12 years (I subtract 2 for the years she spent with my in-laws in Cali while we were in England), she slept in our room. We celebrated her birthday every year. She went on as many vacations or day trips as we could take her. She had 3 round-trip airplane rides.  She was one happy dog. For years, my MIL would tell me that Aspen had a good life. I believe that. I tried very hard to give her one.

Aspen had a great last day. A Perfect Aspen Day.  Hubby suggested that for breakfast, I treat Aspen to Scrambled Eggs with Bacon and Cheese. My Ciocia  Jeannie (a fellow dog lover, the last person I grieved for, and who is taking care of Aspy in Heaven now) always believed that eggs are good for dogs. Over the past few years (maybe since Ciocia’s passing?) Aspen, and then Lily, would get any leftover scrambled eggs.  Bacon…..what dog doesn’t love bacon?!? Have you seen the doggie bacon commercials on tv? And Cheese.  Aspen LOVED cheese. More than anything. She would be outside (with the door closed) and she could hear a slice of American Cheese being unwrapped from the plastic.  When she became deaf, I think she could smell it from any corner of the house. Of course cheese would be included in her last meal.  I wish I had some zucchini for her that last day–she loved to munch on raw zucchini.

Hubby also suggested that we take Aspy on a car ride around town before heading to the vets.  Aspen LOVED car rides.  For the first four years we were together (before kids), she was my co-pilot. As long as it wasn’t too hot, I would take her to the grocery store, post office, anywhere. And then there were the trips to the beach, or the mountains, or camping.  She *knew* that a car ride equaled a new adventure. Therefore, I totally went along with Hubby’s suggestion. The last picture in the video tribute…..that was during that last car ride. As much as I thought Hubby was being TACKY and insensitive for bringing his camera….I wanted those last moments to be my private memories….in the end, I am ~glad~ he brought his camera. That last photo truly captures Aspen’s essence, and is thus a  fitting last photo.

Another factor that is making it ~easier~ for me to deal is that Apsen is no longer in pain. Shortly after the vet gave Aspen the sedative, Hubby and I helped her lie down. She closed her eyes. Yes, she was just sleeping. But it was the most peaceful sleep she has had in many, many months. At that very moment, I knew we were doing the right thing.

The day after….I went to Chicago. This was a planned trip. I had planned for over a year to attend this year’s National Mothers of Twins Convention (I attend every other year). The first day there, I was a zombie. I told my roomie not to expect me to make any decisions whatsoever. She was to lead, and I was to follow.  On Thursday, I was better. Maybe not better. But the convention provided a wonderful distraction.  Three whole days away from my house, and a new city, with a good friend, handling club business. Wonderful, wonderful distraction. I was even able to enjoy myself a bit.

But upon my return home on Sunday, all went pear-shaped again. I could feel Aspen’s “non-presence.” She just wasn’t there. 

SHE WAS NOT HERE. 

 IT MADE ME SO, SO SAD.

And it didn’t improve on Monday. Until a handwritten note from our vet came in the mail.  Finally, I was able to unleash all those tears I had been suppressing. The “healing” cry. 

For the most part, I’m doing better. I still notice that she’s not here. I occasionally get teary-eyed. Hubby has to deal with it, but I’m sure he expected me to be like this. But it’s ok. Because I know that wherever she is, she is smiling, as she did every day.

PS. Thank you to all my friends who have expressed their sympathies to us. It truly means a lot to us.

Helping Aspen

Aspen’s back legs, specifically her back left leg, are giving out.  The arthritis medication really isn’t helping any more, and I’ve increased her pain medication.  But if the legs don’t work, they don’t work, regardless of how much pain medication is given.

About 2 weeks ago, Aspen began having trouble standing up (particularly on the hardwood floors) and stay standing up. During her attempts, she would just skid back down.  If I was in the area, I would go and help her get up and steady her until she could move on her own power. 

For walks, instead of taking her through the basement, where we have hardwood stairs (which she hates), I have begun taking her through the front door, where there are only 6 steps and wood (trex) and not as slippery.  I then walk her across the lawn, a flat surface, to avoid the 3 stone steps, which are somewhat steep.  Most days, she can walk back up these 6 front steps with some encouragement; however, the last couple of days, I have had to carry her up (maybe due to my impatience?)

On Sunday morning, as I was assisting her downstairs (again, slippery hardwood stairs where she requires demands my help to make it down), she slipped. And she’s been worse ever since. I don’t know if the fall caused her left back leg to be weaker, or overnight the left back leg weakened, thus causing the slip.  She’s been limping around, and STRUGGLING to get up and hold her weight.  A few days ago, it was just “trouble” getting up, now it’s a struggle.

However, I have continued to take her on a daily walk. She expects it, and enjoys it.  In my head, I debate whether she’s capable to go on a walk. In the end, I say “Yes” because it brings her joy, and at least a small walk keep the muscles and bones working. Today was one of those days where I came very close to *not* walking her.  But I did. She went very, very slowly. The slowest ever. Towards the end, she was limping pretty badly. And, yes, I carried her up the stairs.

The boys have amazed me with their outpouring of love and support for Aspen. 

Two weeks ago, about the time I noticed Aspen having trouble standing up, I had to go buy her some dog food, as we had run out of her food. I was thinking out-loud whether I should get a big bag or a small bag, as well as “regular” dog food or continue to buy the food loaded with chondroiton and glucosomine.  All three boys agreed that I should buy the big chondroiton/glucosomine bag!

Each day, I alternate a twin to go on the dog walk with me (so someone can take Miss Lily a little farther). Yesterday, T-Man asked if Aspen would “make it” until our upcoming Maine get-away.  Yesterday morning I thought so. But I explained to T-man it would all depend on how she continues to do. He suggested we get her a doggie-cart for her back legs and then she could walk.  I explained that the biggest problem is all the stairs we have at our house.  He then suggested that we purchase and install one of those electric elevator lifts for our back stairs.

Today, M-man and I had a very similar conversation.  He felt bad that Aspen might not be able to go on walks much longer. His suggestion is that we get a treadmill, so Aspen could walk at her own pace at home.

Lovely ideas, boys….

Welcome to the Family….

T-Man has been BEGGING us for a pet of his own for quite a while now–2 years, maybe? However, since being snowed-over by M-Man with his promises of “I’ll feed, play, brush, pick up poop, walk, sleep with”  Lily…..I definitely wasn’t too keen on bringing another creature into the household.  Especially since T’s preferences are of the reptile variety (this girly-girl mom WILL NOT touch reptiles of any sort). And T isn’t exactly the responsible/reliable sort of lad.

However, T has a way of being RELENTLESS

Last summer, I told him that IF for a 2 week period he could put his clothes away (i.e., where they go…. the clean clothes be put in the correct drawer and the dirty ones into the hamper) and keep his area of his room clean, as well as putting his breakfast dishes into the dishwasher, we would TALK about getting him a pet. It didn’t even last a day.

Then he started on Hubby.  And Hubby is a softy when it comes to his kids, especially T-man (the 2 are peas in a pod, I tell ya). Well, since T’s grades and attitude have improved greatly over the past year, Hubby thought it might be a good idea to get T a pet. Rather than have him prove responsibility BEFORE getting a pet, the pet would require him to be responsible. I could see the logic in this. But I made it very clear that with 3 kids, 2 dogs, (plus Hubby), I would not be taking care of another pet…..fish or reptile.  (side note: My mother didn’t like pets, but she allowed us to have a fish tank. I got the bum-deal—no pets to play with, but I had to clean the tank….EWWWWWW)

T spent the entire last 2 weeks asking “Can we go to the pet store today?”  “Can we go to the pet store today?” “Can we go to the pet store today?”  “Can we go to the pet store today?”  (I said relentless, right?)

Yesterday, we went.  Hubby decided on a 10 gallon tank. T-man wandered around the store collecting the right decor for the tank–what he liked and what his new finned-friends would enjoy. And Hubby bought 5 starter fish—T named them Jonesy, Alan, Bob, Jessie, and Joe.

I have to admit the tank came out well. And the kids are all excited. Sadly, after 2 hours, one of the fish was missing. Not sucked by the filter, not hiding in the anchor or the shrubbery. Completely freakin’ GONE.  (??????????)  This morning we found one stuck to the filter, and one more will most likely be belly-up by lunch time.  Not a good start. Hubby and I are hypothesizing they developed brain damage by being in the plastic bag for 2 hours before being let into the tank to swim freely. (No, we are not animal cruelists—one hour to set up the tank, and one hour to acclimate to the water).

I will keep you posted on how our new housemates are doing, and how T-man is doing as the proud papa.