Here is a picture of my cute, little doggie-boy, Nakama. I ended up terrorizing him yesterday because he managed to swallow a piece of felt about 1.5 by 1.5 inches; totally my fault, I should have known better. I also thought I had the hydrogen peroxide at hand, which it wasn’t and when I called our market, they didn’t have any either, so I shoved the poor guy into the bathtub and tried to induce vomiting using my finger and shoving it down his throat. Poor guy ended up bleeding and foaming at the mouth, but still didn’t vomit at which point I contacted a friend at the school and asked if she knew if we had any hydrogen peroxide in the nurse’s station. She said she had some in her desk and I was welcome to the lot. So I prepared to drive my ATV back to the school, but ran into a set of flatmates and they had some at the flat. Needless to say, I borrowed the stuff and did what my folks had said, I put some of that in his mouth and had him outside to vomit. Well, nothing happened, and I was thick enough to not have my mobile on hand, so we went back inside. I had recalled reading on a web post that it takes about five to ten minutes and the hydrogen peroxide needs to fizz. The stuff didn’t fizz. So I did the intelligent thing and called my vet in Wyoming. I spoke to a few folks and eventually I was informed that the dog should have something in their stomach (I gave him some chicken while on the phone), it could take up to thirty minutes to work, and walking or running around helps. Just as I was preparing to hang up, Nakama started his vomiting spree all over the apartment. It was a major load, let me tell you. Two huge piles of food (one of which I did find the felt), and then quite a few hydrochloric acid spills with foam. Poor guy walked around the apartment for an hour vomiting and I cleaned as he went since I didn’t want to drag him down the stairs after he had already emptied the food contents of his stomach. Lesson learned in multiple ways, especially in making sure I cut off all loose pieces of felt from toys since it only takes a few seconds for a dog to gnaw off and swallow. Keeping hydrogen peroxide at hand is good (the vet told me he could have up to two table spoons, but I am not sure if that is based on his weight or not, he weighs about 30 pounds). Also, since it could take up to thirty minutes, ignore what is said on certain Internet sites and just chill outside if you don’t want to clean up a sticky mess. I know dogs tend to eat all sorts of garbage from who knows where, so when you live in the bush and do not have access to a vet, this is the best option. I would still call a vet to walk you through making the dog vomit, just because they are knowledgable (they said up to thirty minutes when the Internet pages I read said between five and ten, that extra twenty minutes is a long time when your heart is racing!). Nakama had only rice and chicken for dinner last night and this morning to help settle his tummy. He gets that normally anyway, but I held off on his dog food because I have no idea how his poor digestive tract feels after yesterday. As I mentioned, I tried to manually induce vomiting and he was quite distraught after that episode until I brought him outside, at which point he was excited to be out without Tomodachi. I am sure he felt he was being punished, and in a way he was, for my mistake and his natural desire to mangle any and everything in his reach. As long as I have the hydrogen peroxide at hand, then at least I don’t have to worry about him becoming aggressive and biting a finger off by manually making him vomit. All I can say is, thank you to everyone who helped me fix this problem and I learned many valuable lessons.
I have people constantly telling me that dogs are dirty and they don’t belong on the bed or the furniture. Well, good on them, they don’t need to allow their ‘pets’ on the bed. Why did I insist on my pups on the bed? Well, dogs supposedly have an innate desire not to ‘mess’ where they sleep. By having the dogs on my bed from the beginning it kept them from messing on the bed, but also helped me wake up to take them out to for a potty break. Both Nakama and Tomodachi nosed me when they needed to go from the time I brought both of them home. The bed isn’t huge, a full-size, but as neither could get off the bed in the beginning without assistance, it helped them easily night train. I still had to get up multiple times a night with Tomo, Nakama was older when he came to live with me, so he only needed one break a night from the beginning. Now, at four months, Tomodachi can make it through the night most nights, other times she needs one break, but she always wakes me. As for being on the bed or the sofa, they can cuddle with me on these pieces of furniture, and I want to have a bond with them, not treat them as objects. My fur-family, my choice. I chose their names intentionally, companion and friend. To me, they are not pets, they are family.
Today was a beaut of a day, so Tomodachi had her first solo walk. Now, by walk I mean that it wasn’t her going out to the approved relief area and sniffing, but an actual half-Mile of walking. Took us twenty minutes. I didn’t require much of her since she is just four months old, however we are going to start working heavily on her not pulling. I didn’t attach the leash to the ‘no pull’ part of the harness, but her next solo walk I definitely will. We worked on ‘sit,’ ‘stay,’ ‘watch,’ and ‘walk.’ today. She is still learning and I believe will get better much faster if we do solo walks a couple times a week. After her walk, which included skating on the ice rink that is our roads, she and Nakama decided to have a wrestling match on the bed. Clearly he missed her while she was gone, but they both need to get used to being alone at times since training them together all the time will not work.
I was all excited to start the New Year off with Tomodachi going on her first, solo walk. Weather happened, meaning I will never take my pups out in inclement weather they themselves choose to avoid. Today it happened to be 30 mph winds. None of us are fond of walks in the wind. Bring on snow for all, and Nakama and I will happily walk in the rain, but wind isn’t a condition we like. So, training today was what I like to call ‘Come.’ This game, as it were, is when I go to a different room I will wait a spell and say: Nakama, come. Tomodachi, come. When the come I give them a treat. Now, I do not do this every time I switch rooms, and I do keep treats in all rooms, including the bathroom. I do not want them learning to follow me everywhere and expect to get a treat, they need to learn the command. Nakama is actually pretty good, or was before I started this game, but he can be a seriously stubborn punk, so at times he sticks his nose up at the treats and does not come. He will learn, though. Tomo comes running, she loves treats and head rubs!
As we prepare for the Appalachian Trail Trek in 2025, I am looking at snacks all three of us can eat. I call this Doggie Mix. The oats are mixed with honey and baked. I included dehydrated carrots, green beans, and a small amount each of strawberries, blueberries, and bananas. The point is to make snacks that will not spoil and that two dogs and a human can eat. The dogs tried this concoction on the Christian Christmas Day and both enjoyed the treat, though they tend to like the beans and carrots more than the sweeter berries. Doggie Mix can be pretty much any type of approved human food, dehydrated. I don’t think I’d use fish in the mix because even dehydrated the oils would get all over the other ingredients, however, chicken or turkey jerky would probably work. I will need to try that at some point.
Living in Alaska means open spaces and snow. Unfortunately Naka and Tomo are not the best subjects for picturesque photography; neither wanted to look at the camera! So, I started training them on the word ‘watch.’ I hold the treat in my hand while they are already sitting. I love my hand in various directions and say ‘watch,’ and their eyes follow my hand. If they stand we start over again, they must remain sitting. This command only took a few days and we managed the picture in this post. Eventually I want to get them sitting far enough away to show more of the gorgeous scenery I see on our walks.
As someone with autistic spectrum disorder (not that I consider it a disorder, but that is the proper vernacular) and anxiety, I realized a while ago that I would probably benefit from an emotional support animal. Not to be confused with a service animal, which puts me on a soap box because of all the people abusing the terms incorrectly. My Nakama-kun is an ESA, which means (until recently) he was able to travel with me on planes and I could not be denied housing due to having a dog. An ESA is a pet, they are not trained like a service animal; though I was told I could qualify for a legitimately trained service animal, I chose not to because, from my understanding, a person with a legitimately trained service animal is not to have any other pets in their household. I love animals and wanted a second dog at some point, so forking over tens of thousands of dollars for a service animal who could go everywhere with me did not seem necessary. However, my ESA has transitioned into service animal mode quite nicely, and I am sure his little sister will get there, too.
Animals are rather intuitive and can easily tell when there is a physical wound. Tomodachi licked the burn of a flatmate the other day after he admitted he’d burned himself making his family Thanksgiving dinner. Nakama is like that, too. When we were doggie sitting last winter holiday the pup was losing his teeth and Nakama was over in that poor pup’s mouth licking the wounds. I am pretty sure that’ll happen when Tomodachi loses her milk teeth, too.
For me, even though I’ve had the physical wounds licked by Nakama, it is the ones that we can’t see that require more attention. I’ve lived with a few issues that can stop me dead in my tracks in terms of anxiety. One major issue is PTSD brought on by a fear I inherited from when I was six years old. This fear was brought back to life rather quickly on a Thursday when I was dehydrating kale. The smell reminded me of this fear so much I was in a kind of state of shock. Nakama sensed something was wrong and decided it was time to go on a lengthy walk (by lengthy I mean we went on a half-mile tundra trek that took almost half an hour). During that time I was able to calm myself and walk with my puppers.
My PTSD issue is from a childhood experience that many might consider ridiculous, mainly because I always hated how it affected me. So, here is the start of this fear. When I was six I had an opportunity to go to the high school in my hometown and gather with a bunch of other students in elementary school for some various activities, including woodwork, music, and theatre. I still have the tic-tac-toe board I made in that woodwork class, and I remember the music class, but didn’t get any further than that in the day.
During lunch I was standing with my group and one of girls pointed to a girl in another group and commented on how her brother was extremely ugly. I looked at the girl and didn’t pay much attention to the scarring on her legs. Then, when we entered the cafeteria I saw her brother and I ran, like legitimately ran and hid under a table. What I saw may or may not be what I remember seeing, but the fear was definitely real. This young boy, a year older than I, had been burned so badly on the face that to my recollection he was blackened. I do not know why seeing him affected me so, but it terrified me enough I had to be taken home. The following year a family friend told me this boy was there and I ended up going home with her and playing with her daughter instead of staying at the school.
Sadly, it gets worse, and in truth, for me, more ridiculous. For two or so years after seeing this boy with the unfortunate accident, I lied every Thursday to get out of having to walk to the daycare center from the bus stop after school. I claimed I was sick because by doing so I would already be at the daycare center and not have to run into this boy. My folks thought I was being bullied and didn’t find out the truth till much later. In a stroke of luck for me, this boy and his family moved away and I was able to move on, slightly. A couple of movies, Batman and The Neverending Story had a couple of scenes that scared the absolute bugger out of me. I still can’t do Batman, and when I see even pictures of Nicholson’s Joker, I shudder. I did finally finish The Neverending Story movie while in uni, so it took eight years before I knew the ending of the movie (not that it mattered much since I loved the book growing up). I still, at the age of 40, close my eyes during the one scene that brings about the PTSD.
The brain is a funny thing, though. By the time I was a senior in high school I was sure that the movie Batman had caused the fear and that the burned boy was something I saw second. It wasn’t until even later, around the age of 30 I realized that my brain had mixed the two up horribly. I know I was six when I met this boy because I recall almost every time I saw him. The movie Batman didn’t come out till 1990, which would have made me nine, but I couldn’t have watched the movie on VHS until I was ten or so because that was how movies for rent worked at the time. Renting a VHS was almost a year after the movie was in theatres. Clearly my fear had caused some timeline issues with my brain because I couldn’t have seen Batman until the boy and his family moved away.
A little background on the boy, from my recollection of conversations had with my mother. He and his brother and sister had lived in a part of the world that had quite a few bugs. As a way to keep the bugs off the folks used a net to cover the beds at night. An unfortunate accident with a lantern and a net caused the three siblings to burn; the boys’ faces and the little girl’s legs. They had come to the United States for medical care. Why this boy’s burn affected me as it did, I will never know.
Jump forward to last week and I am dehydrating kale. The smell of the dehydrated kale was similar to the smell I remember from home after Ma had picked my sister and I up from the daycare centre. The owner of the centre had played the movie Batman and everyone else enjoyed it, but that one scene with the Joker and the joy buzzer terrified me to the point I was in shock. When my sister and I were at home, watching Bambi and playing dolls, Ma was making something in the kitchen that had a particularly pungent smell. My sister mentioned watching Batman at that point, and clearly from that remark the smell was ingrained in my brain as a “bad” scent. The kale from the other day had that same smell. Thus, the anxiety and the need for my ESAs, Nakama and Tomodachi. They helped me through it and I was even able to dehydrate the rest of the kale, but I am pretty sure I will not dehydrate kale anymore, which is sad because that stuff is good!
Weirdly enough, or maybe not, I am not a medical doctor, so I don’t know if this is random or not, to tell you the truth, but I digress (and make a horrible run-on sentence that I am not going to correct), I am able to watch shows like CSI, NCIS, Criminal Minds, and Law and Order (whichever one) and see a burned corpse and it does not affect me. Clearly I am “over” the fear I experienced when I was six, but with PTSD it is the recollection of how afraid I was that gets to me, still. Plus, as I aged into middle and high school I developed an almost sixth sense when it came to watching movies. For some reason I was able to sense a part that would bring back that fear and leave the theatre, whether it be to pop into the loo or to grab a popcorn or snack. It never failed me.
Wow, that is a lot of possibly unnecessary information. I do tend to chatter on so, but I appreciate being able to write about this issue, especially since it surprised me as it did. The fact that Nakama helped me keep my cool by insisting that we needed a tundra trek right as I was about to have a meltdown proves just how much he and I are in tune with one another. It doesn’t end there, though, with the mental disorganization.
I also want to bring up that sporadically I end up with vertigo. I know when to expect these issues, so I’ve been lucky not to be driving or anything, or take precautions. The feeling is usually fleeting and I can get back to my regularly scheduled program quickly thereafter (which is good because they have hit me while teaching and that is not a positive). There is a surgery that would correct the main culprit of the vertigo, but thanks to the crap healthcare system we seem to embrace in the United States, I am denied this surgery for various, unnecessary reasons. Even my psychologist thinks it is rubbish, so I continue on with the vertigo and deal with the aftermath.
The Saturday after Thanksgiving I ended up with a heck of a spell to the point where Nakama stopped his playing and immediately was by my side. I was sitting at the time, so it wasn’t a big deal, but he was in my space and there for me as the best dog-tor in history. This particular stretch lasted four hours for me to recoup, so I was grateful for my dog because he definitely helped me feel safe. That is what a service animal does, makes a person feel safe. Whether it is a pet someone is claiming as a service animal (which really bothers me) or an actual trained creature (not trained by the person using the animal, but by a group who is trained in working with service animals), dogs are a wonderful companion and friend (thus, the names I’ve chosen for my two soulmates!).
Being soulmates to a companion animal is not for everyone. Dogs require dedication, training, love, and respect. The way I treat them is the way they are going to treat me. I play with my puppers, they play with me (usually when we are supposed to be sleeping!). I care for them, they care for me. It is a mutually beneficial relationship. Basically, I’d do anything I can for them and I know they would do the same for me because that is what folks who care about one another do. Now, if only I could train Nakama to not be a punk, that would definitely help! Whether a punk or not, especially since he is stubborn and still coming to terms with the fact that we have a new, third member of our tribe, he is definitely someone who has helped with my afflictions. We definitely belong together.
When I first met Tomodachi she howled at me because I wasn’t paying enough attention to her. She had one brother and a sister; both were black and brown and I am going to be honest, I preferred their coloring. Tomo wasn’t having any of that and immediately protested. I picked her up and she bit my nose. That, as they say, is that. I decided this little bit of spunk was the third member of our little family. She is just about a month or so here, I took her very early due to certain circumstances. She was eating food and drinking water by the end of the first weekend since she had her teeth. She still looks like a puppy (alien) in this short video. Now she looks like a dog and she is going to get a whole lot bigger! I am very excited, I love big dogs!