Introducing the intermittent reinforcement schedule

Basset with tongue in bowl

Despite what I may have led you to believe, Jelly has many advanced dog skills. She can do all sorts of magnificent tricks, like shaking a paw while laying down, sitting, or standing. She sits and stays while we fill her bowl with high-priced kibble, and refrains from eating her meal until we release her, which happens as soon as we hit our tolerance threshold for drool on the kitchen floor.

Now that she is maturing, I am enjoying my trips with Jelly to the off-leash park more. Jelly stays fairly close by. If she lags behind, it’s only to sniff a particularly fragrant blade of grass. Rarely do I have to call her to me anymore; she usually remains within a reasonable distance.

Except when she doesn’t. I attribute these lapses to my never training her to come when I call her. You’d think I’d have mastered this command, which requires an understanding of basic reinforcement theory. You learned all about reinforcement theory in Intro Psych, right? If so, you likely received a better grade than my mediocre B, thereby better preparing yourself for elementary dog training.

I know how I should have trained Jelly to come. First, I was to reward her every time she came, or as we say in psychology speak, to reinforce her on a continuous-reinforcement schedule. This approach is best when a dog is learning a new behaviour. The reward could involve my greeting Jelly excitedly or, more often (bad Annie), my giving her a treat.

Once Jelly came every time I called–did she ever?–I should have stopped giving her a treat each time (in other words, I should have shifted to intermittent reinforcement). This means I should have rewarded her occasionally, on what’s known as a variable-ratio schedule. The best way to maintain a learned behaviour is not to know when to expect the next reward. I want Jelly to comes each time thinking she might score a treat, which she may or may not.

Diligent dog trainers stop rewarding with treats altogether once the behaviour is mastered. These trainers naively believe that their dogs will come simply in order to please them. Forget that. Jelly comes only if there’s something in it for her, and that something must be edible.

But that’s only part of the problem. Recently I’ve realized that, rather than my training her, Jelly has been training me. Every so often I turn around, only to find my sweet dog MIA. When I look her way, I barely see her head above that long fragrant grass. Eventually she looks my way. She knows she should come but is waiting for me to call her first. That’s because she’s learned that if she runs to me out of the goodness of her heart, I’ll greet her excitedly but won’t proffer a treat. She knows I give her a treat only if she comes when I call her, so she’s learned to wait until I beckon, and then she comes a-running.

Now you probably understand why I received that B in Intro Psych. Not only have I failed at basic reinforcement theory, my dog understands the theory better than I do. She has me wrapped around her huge Basset paw.

The luck of the draw

Toddler sitting on sidewalk with little puppy kissing his face

I love my PALS visits with Jelly. I get to go to new places and meet new people and watch them adore my dog. Of course I love to tell them funny stories about her, but I don’t go on and on about her because it’s not all about us, especially during these visits. I have to find other topics of conversation instead.

I’ve long accepted that I’m terrible at small talk. Getting-to-know-you conversations are hard for me in general. I was particularly stumped at a PALS outing last week.

We had volunteered to visit a special nursing home. The residents there are hard-to-place older folks who would not otherwise be accepted into seniors’ homes. Many are alcoholic and/or mentally ill, and many once lived on the street. The alcoholic residents are given controlled amounts of alcohol at regular intervals. Without access to alcohol, these people would likely continue to live in poverty on the streets. The residence’s goals are to reduce these people’s run ins with the police and their need for emergency health care.

I’ve been in many seniors’ homes with Jelly and this one was more run down than others I’ve seen. (Imagine the challenges gathering funding for a place like this.) So were the people there, many of whom were socializing in the common area when we arrived. Still, this special residence gives them a roof over their heads and three meals a day, access to laundry facilities, and on-site medical care. There are significant daily supports in place, so they don’t need to be trying to survive on the streets anymore.

I didn’t know what brought these folks to this residence and my asking them would have been inappropriate. Of course I wondered about their pasts, though. Sometimes their mental-health issues were apparent, but others simply appeared poor and downtrodden. I hope my discomfort wasn’t obvious, but I felt even more awkward than usual finding common ground for conversation.

I often fall back on one strategy when I have no idea what to say. On all our PALS outings, people can choose to visit with the dogs or not, so those that do attend are clearly dog lovers (or cat lovers who are willing to accept second best). Their interest in animals gives me an easy inroad: I ask them about their experiences with dogs. That breaks the ice, probably for me more than for them. People love to talk about their dogs–I can relate to that–even if they may be sad recalling better times in their lives.

On this visit, our dog conversations reminded me that our lives may not have been all that different at one point. These people weren’t born mentally ill, although they likely were harbouring bad genes that would reveal themselves later. They likely lived with family when they were younger, just like I did. But at some point, poverty or mental illness or addiction derailed their lives. I expect they’ve had bad luck, while somehow I did not. Life is truly unfair.

I’m glad this special residence can provide these folks a home. Everyone deserves at least that, no matter what.

With age comes wisdom, sometimes

Basset hound running behind greyhoundI am slowly coming to accept that I am not the young buckette (is that doe?) I once was. I had a crash course in recognizing my limitations when I got sick. Now I know that I won’t run any more marathons, climb any more mountains, or participate in any more aerobics classes that will cause me to break a sweat.

But every so often I forget. Occasionally I try to run a little bit and my body quickly reminds me to stop. I seem to be the last person leaving every yoga class I attend–I roll my mat and collect my things at a snail’s pace. Everything takes longer than it used to when I was youthful. I moved with vigour once, but now I’m slow as molasses. In fact, recently I gave up rushing altogether, and I must say I don’t miss it.

I’m not the only one who is aging. Jelly turned 7 last month, which means she is now  a doggy senior. Although she looked like a puppy until a year or two ago–even dogs want to believe they look younger than they are–even her little red eyelashes are now turning grey. I’ve noticed she’s never been asked for identification for a senior’s discount.

There are other signs of Jelly’s advancing age: she is more likely to amble than gambol when we visit the park. Still, we go there so she can venture as far as she wants that day and visiting with her four-legged friends. I do miss the days when she’d chase her peers over hill and dale, barking frantically as she brought up the rear, “Wait for me! Wait for me!”

Except for last Friday morning, when Jelly temporarily forgot that she too is no young buckette anymore. She met up with Kona, a lovely tall greyhound cross, who seemed intent on a running mate. Kona egged Jelly on persistently, resulting in an all-out no-holds-barred chase around the park. Kona was born to run. She easily outpaced Jelly, who persevered nonetheless, cutting the odd corner when she needed to. Jelly fought the good fight, until she tanked, whereupon she slowly limped back to the car.

I knew exactly how Jelly would feel following that romp. I knew she would regret running herself ragged, but there was no way I could convince her to pass on the opportunity. We all need to learn from experience. Has anyone ever heeded the wisdom of elders?

I was not surprised that Jelly spent most of the weekend recuperating. Will her stiffness stop her from trying to outrace the next greyhound that wants to be chased? Probably not. She’s a dog, and she does not always learn from experience. Come to think of it, neither do I.

But all is not lost. Despite Jelly’s recent stiffness and fatigue, every time the wind blows, she rises from lounging and leaps off the deck, positioning herself under the apple tree in case a delicious snack happens to fall. Each time, I drag myself agedly out of my chair, thereby granting Jelly ample time to wolf down her spoils. Jelly’s body may be old, but, at least when it comes to food, her mind is forever young.

One potato, two potato, three potato, more?

This morning at the park, Jelly saw 6 dogs and 10 balls. You do the math. (Don’t forget to solve for both x and y.) How I long for a dog that ambles through the open meadow, sniffing the peed-on fragrant wildflowers. Is that too much to ask?

I’m sure you’re dying to know, after all this time, “How does your garden grow, Annie?” I have learned so much since we started this new venture, but I have so much more to learn. Don’t ask me for gardening tips because I don’t have any. Follow the instructions on the seed packet, water regularly, and enjoy the spoils.

Rule-bound gal that I am, I have followed the seed-packet instructions to the letter (with one exception noted below), and I have something to show for my diligent efforts. I spaced the seeds the required distance, planted them at the required depth, watered them regularly (more often I’ve watched J. water them), and we are now starting to reap the vegetables of our labour.

Very little beans growing on bean plantWe have harvested the odd tomato from our thriving plants, one little red strawberry from our patch, and several salads’ worth of lettuce and kale. If all of our little green tomatoes ripen, we will have enough to eat bruschetta and tomato soup and tabbouli for months. Our beautiful little flowers on our bean plants have become itty bitty beans, which will hopefully continue to grow so we can eat them someday.

Thankfully, Jelly continues to help thin our greens. No more supermarket kale for her; the garden variety is so much tastier. The dog is adept at thinning, but on this front I have failed. Thinning would involve destroying a plant I have lovingly nurtured. Why would I kill the runt of the litter? Don’t all seeds deserve a full life?

You won’t be surprised to learn, then, that our larger-than-life zucchini plants are encroaching not only on one another but on all the now-sun-deprived plants around them. As I write, mounds of mini zucchini are fighting for their lives. It will be survival of the fittest, plant edition, in our zucchini patch.

Eggplant plant with one purple flower

Baba ganoush in its infancy

Today we jumped an especially exciting garden hurdle. After weeks of watching our eggplant plants take root, we were blessed with our very first eggplant blossom. Eggplants are not grown in this climate because our growing season is short, so I’m trying to temper my excitement. We are crossing our fingers, between waterings, for at least one batch of baba ganoush before the first frost.

Potato plant in garden

Can you guess how many potatoes are growing?

As you can probably tell, I still have a lot to learn. For example, J. recently taught me that one huge potato plant may bear many potato babies rather than one ginormous one. Potato plants are notorious for multiple births, I now understand. Here’s hoping we’ll grow at least enough taters for a side of tots.

Next year’s garden can only improve over this year’s, right? I won’t plant as many radishes, I will remember to plant my greens out of Jelly’s reach, and I will thin my zucchini. What are we possibly going to do with all those zucchini? Suggestions are appreciated. Better yet, steal some. We’ll never notice.

 

The problem with dogs with balls

Terrier with tennis ball in its mouthJelly and I have been heading to the off-leash dog park most mornings. Whenever we go, I am struck by the number of people who are fixated by a tennis ball. Their dogs are excited to be at the park not to see their compatriots but to chase that ball relentlessly, drop it at their owner’s foot, only to chase it again. These dogs live to fetch.

Bassets and fetching? Not so much. If I threw a rabbit, they’d run after it. Bunny chasing is in their blood. Ball chasing? Forget it. Jelly has learned to ignore dogs with balls because she knows they will not be interested in playing with her.

I’m getting off track. It’s dogs with the other kind of balls, the kind attached to their bodies, that pose the problem. Jelly can spot those dogs a mile off. She doesn’t run much at the park anymore, except when she sniffs out an unneutered male. Then she’s emits a whimpering cry unlike no other and chases relentlessly after that dog until I manage to snag her, leash her, and take her away.

I no longer ask the owners, “Does your dog have balls?” I can tell by Jelly’s squeals and rapt attention that the dog does indeed, whether or not his wares are on display.

I often tell the owner that Jelly is very fond of intact males, which begs their question, “Is Jelly spayed?” What do you think? We adopted Jelly from doggie jail. Dogs don’t get released from jail until their reproductive parts are removed, thereby ensuring they do not add to the unwanted-dog population. “Yes, Jelly is fixed,” I respond, “although I’m not whether Dr. Animal finished the job.”

I say this because recently I learned that when girl dogs are spayed, only part of their parts are removed, ensuring that they cannot reproduce. But other parts remain, leading dogs like Jelly to be tormented by their desires for the rest of their lives. No wonder girl dogs, spayed or not, just want to have fun.

When these incidents occur, I bite my tongue rather than telling those ballsy owners, “Why must you bring your unneutered dog to an off-leash park?” (Jelly is not the only dog tormented by dogs with balls. Balls breed fights, and puppies, although any owner who brings an intact female to the park deserves a very large litter of puppies 58 to 68 days later.)

After an incident like this, we head to the balls-free zone of the park, where Jelly can frolic in peace. Those other balls may fly overhead, begging to be fetched, but Jelly ignores them.

During this week’s PALS visit at the retirement residence, Jelly and I crossed paths with a visitor who had brought along her dog with balls. No, I couldn’t see them, and they weren’t neon yellow, but Jelly quickly became entranced. Everyone nearby was tickled by Jelly’s relentless interest in this dog. I immediately pulled Jelly away from this dog before her squealing escalated to howling in the echoey hallway.

Jelly may be a doggie senior, but some days she acts more like a teenager with a crush. They say hormones can rage at any age. If you don’t believe me, join us at the park one day.

 

Volunteering by proxy

Calgary Stampede midway crowded with people

That’s me in the top right corner.

I must apologize for not writing yesterday, especially since I know how you hang on my every word. I spent the day carousing at the Stampede grounds. Just kidding. I’d rather sleep than watch adults young and old embarrassing themselves in public.

Stampede is a time for reckless alcohol overconsumption. With that comes an increase in philandering, and of course, STIs and unwanted pregnancies, despite the local campaign to “put a condom on your cowboy.” Not surprisingly, divorces spike following the week-long party. Stampeding sounds too risky to me, so I hunker down at home instead.

J., on the other hand, plans two visits to the grounds with our good friend, Triple D. They will be there from supper time until midnight both nights, but they won’t have time for drinking or philandering; they’ll be selling lottery tickets for fancy cars. They are volunteering for this task in support of PALS. J. noticed that PALS was seeking people for this fundraising event, and not only did she volunteer for two long shifts, she signed up Triple D, who is known for always making time for a good deed.

When I became a PAL, I learned that, in addition to our regularly scheduled visits, I’d be expected to support the organization in other ways. This included, for example, interviewing new recruits, helping out on the multi-station dog-assessment day, or attending fundraising events with or without my little pal in tow.

Most of these activities involve longer hours than I have the stamina for, so I pass. I do my part by volunteering for one-time visits–last week’s parade is a recent example, although that day felt more like a gift than an obligation–on top of our regularly scheduled visits with the old folks.

The same is true for Calgary Blood Services. I can’t donate blood, so I feed soup and cookies to those who can, and try to encourage healthy others to donate in my stead. I’m grateful to J. for persisting in giving despite her fainting after her second blood donation, and to my dear friend known affectionately as Spongebob (for reasons that will remain a mystery to you) who donated for the first time last month with no ill effects. Anticipating the milkshake he’d be buying on his way home probably helped him through the itty bitty pin prick.

Maybe I shouldn’t say that I pass on the volunteer duties I can’t fulfill since the truth is that I pass them on to gracious and willing others wherever I can. I wish I could volunteer myself, but I know my limits. A 6-hour sales shift ending at midnight–assuming I did not sleep through the chaos like Jelly did at that parade–would knock me out for days. I also know that the screening interviewers at Canadian Blood Services would laugh at me if I tried to donate blood despite my leukemia. I know what my limits are, and that there are some things I can’t do, however much I wish I could.

Kudos to those folks, J. et al., who donate their time or their gift of life (blood, that is) in my stead. Their generosity makes my heart sing, and I’m not the heart-singing type.

The pinnacle of PALShood

People often think our city is defined by the annual Calgary Stampede, that everyone spends the week at the Stampede grounds to watch chuck wagon races.  I used to attend Stampede occasionally, but stopped going after a traumatic experience there eons ago. I stupidly ate a corn dog and then hopped on a very twisty turny upside-downey ride, somehow forgetting that I suffered from motion sickness. Since then, I rarely visit the grounds, although I’ve heard, in addition to the adorable baby pigs, there are cooking demos and food offerings besides deep-fried Oreos. Now I’m reconsidering.

You’ll be surprised to hear, then, that when PALS called for volunteers to participate in a special Stampede parade this year, Jelly and I volunteered excitedly. “Pick us! Pick us!” I wrote, closing with a seasonal “Yee-ha!” I’m sure Jelly would love nothing more than to be in a parade, surrounded by hoards of adoring fans cheering and waving.

But this was not THE Stampede parade, the one that closes roads downtown for hours as 150,000 people line the streets watching endless floats and horses and marching bands pass. No, this was a special shorter Stampede parade held annually at the Alberta Children’s Hospital for those children who might not otherwise be able to participate. PALS has marched in this parade for the past 10 years.

Then came the local heat wave. Sadly, the dogs were not allowed to march this year because the steaming asphalt would have fried their delicate paws. That meant all we could do was hang out in the shade and accept endless loving from adoring children and their parents for three whole hours. It was a sacrifice, but someone had to do it.

Many young visitors swung by before the parade, petting the dogs and vibrating with the overstimulation. Loving parents snapped many a photo. What I did not realize was that, after the parade, all of the people who had been marching, along with those who’d been watching, would make their way over to hang out. The marching band, after a short break, reassembled nearby for another rousing song or two. The horses ventured within metres of the dogs and assembled briefly on the adjoining lawn before trotting off. There were princesses and Star Wars characters and mascots galore, there were lots of trucks, both with sirens and without. Even a few helicopters dropped in.

Sure, I shed a few. Even happy sick kids made me sad. No child should have to hang out at this wonderful hospital, ever. I teared up when I saw the chairs set up for the oncology kids, set well apart from the potentially infectious crowds. When I saw a cheery policeman waving up at the building, and realized he was acknowledging the children too sick to leave the hospital right now, I was a goner. Thank goodness Jelly had brought Kleenex.

How did my little PAL cope with the hubbub around her? She found a patch of grass in the hot sun, laid down, and napped. Occasionally she raised her head, but she was largely oblivious to the endless children petting her. Thankfully, they didn’t seem to care.

They say that being a love sponge is exhausting. Jelly is living, and sleeping, proof.

Jelly the Basset Hound with front legs up laying back on grass

Pride comes nowhere near the fall

Woman who has fallen off bike, bike lays on ground

If a woman stops eating in the forest, will anybody notice her pants falling off? Does it matter?

I am here to confirm what the research has been saying for years: your stair master is lying to you. Weight loss is about eating less, not exercising more. Trust me, I know. But keep exercising because it’s good for you in so many other ways.

Many moons ago, I was dating an avid cyclist. I made the mistake of trying out one of those fancy road bikes with the skinny wheels at the prohibitively expensive cycling store. Of course this bike had fancy clip-on pedals, so I sported an ill-fitting pair of those absurd looking clip-on shoes for my trial ride down the block. Needless to say, I did not make it far before I teetered over and, unable to unclip my shoes, fell to the ground. It was not pretty. No bikes were purchased that day.

Things haven’t changed all that much over the years. I no longer need the fancy bike or the clip-on shoes to fall to the ground, however. On Wednesday, for example, I took Jelly out for her morning constitutional. As we returned to the house, I failed to properly negotiate the small rise from our lawn to the driveway, a rise that has been there since the cement was poured 15 years ago. Somehow I found myself flat on my face, with skinned hands and knees and badly mangled glasses. Surprisingly, my recent weight loss did not seem to lighten my fall.

Thankfully my trusty therapy dog was at my side, as she often is when I fall, since I do most of my walking with her. She sighed, “Oh mom, not again.”

Jelly has has been PALSing around for 6 months now. She has visited retirement homes, hospice patients, university students, and a variety of special-needs populations. She has offered wags and kisses far and wide. People marvel at how calm she is in even the most chaotic of settings.*

She had an especially successful visit with a hoard of high-needs preschoolers. Somehow, in the midst of all the activity, she napped. One of the children saw Jelly sleeping, and observed, “She looks dead.” He repeated this statement several times. I was ineffective at disabusing him of this notion. I even placed his hand on Jelly’s belly so he could feel her breathing, to no avail. At least he wasn’t upset about Jelly’s apparent demise.

When she has her little PALS outfit on, Jelly is an equal-opportunity love sponge. She will take affection from anyone who will give it. I wouldn’t say she’s one of those miracle dogs who is drawn to the person who needs the comfort the most, but I may need to reconsider in light of my mishap.

After my fall, Jelly immediately rushed to my side, started kissing my face, and then waited patiently until I got up. I collected myself and arose slowly. Other than a few bruises, I’m absolutely fine. J., on the other hand, believes, for good reason, I am unsafe to venture out so I’ve been grounded.

Happy Canada Day! And be safe.

 

*I too marvel at how calm Jelly is in these special settings, since she’s often utterly frenetic at home. Remember the dining room table incident?

 

Nobody’s perfect, or is it just me?

Jelly with her long yellow tennis-ball-coloured toy

After a few worrisome days, Jelly is slowly coming back to life. She has howled a few times, brought us her favourite toy (you know which one that is), and managed a few short walks. She’s slowly on her way to a full recovery.

Every step she takes forward, it seems our parenting takes a step back. For example, in our desperation for her to eat again, we’ve been doling out treats out left and right. No need to sit or shake a paw or any other awe-inspiring manoeuvre; a mere visit to the kitchen is all it takes. And we’re normally pretty stingy on the treat front.

Then there’s the sleep issue. After a few days of sleeping longer than me, imagine my excitement when Jelly woke me early Saturday morning to give me a kiss. Could there be a better way to start my day than with a kiss from a perky pooch? In my joy, the fact that it was 5:20 a.m. didn’t even register. What happened to the rigidly consistent parent who would normally send Jelly back to bed?

That parent was MIA Saturday. I was so excited Jelly was feeling better that I leapt out of bed at that ungodly hour and took her out for her morning piddle. Then I fed her a little bit of food to assess her level of hunger–she’d eaten very little for two days by then–rather than holding off until her usual breakfast time.

Then, I disclose with deep shame, I let her come up for what we like to call “family bed”, a very occasional Saturday occurrence (Saturday is  laundry day) when Jelly joins us in the human bed so we can all sleep in together. She was snoring within seconds, allowing her parents another hour or so to snooze. Boy did we need it. All that fretting was interfering with everyone’s sleep.

Is this good parenting or bad? Must we judge it at all? I’d call my behaviour typical parenting, but maybe I’m being defensive in a time of weakness. Even parents who normally set diligent boundaries with their children lapse sometimes. It’s simply harder for many parents to set firm and consistent limits with any being, two- or four-legged, who has some kind of health or emotional challenge. Finally I understand why parents let their children into their bed in the wee hours: they’re too exhausted to send them back to their own beds.

All rules were not forgotten, however. At no point did we let Jelly up on the couch, despite my really really wanting to invite her. Is merely wanting to break a rule a parenting sin too? I’m told that so long as I don’t act on it, I’m okay.

Firm and consistent parenting is an ideal, but there has to be some room for flexibility too. Rules are hard to uphold, and sometimes I’m guided by emotion rather than reason. I’m weak, I admit.

Today, we were already back on track. I sent Jelly back to bed rather than celebrating her early morning awakening. Then we headed to a PALS visit, where I met a woman whose dog sleeps until 10 a.m. most days. Dare to dream, Annie, dare to dream.

basset sleeping on bed, head out and human's feet out as well

How to be a bad mother in one easy step

Basset with hot water bottle on head and covered in blanket

Remember how hesitant I was to start volunteering because I feared my precarious health would make me unreliable? I had visions of calling in sick on a regular basis, but I should have known better. I am a reliable person. If I say I’m going to do something, I do it. I don’t cancel any commitment unless I’m strapped to a hospital bed.

I am pleased to report that, several months in, my health has not affected my volunteering. I’ve had to cancel only one date because of illness, and legitimately so: I didn’t want to risk sharing an infection with an unsuspecting blood donor.

I’ve been feeling under the weather the past few days–am I still allowed to say that if I’m in remission?–but I had a PALS visit with Jelly scheduled yesterday. Of course we’d still go. I’m not contagious, I’m just not feeling 100%. What does the U.S. Postal Service say? “Through gout, fatigue, anemia, and fluid retention….” (That doesn’t sound quite right.)

It never occurred to me that one day Jelly might have to bow out.

Upon awakening at 7 a.m., I realized that Jelly had slept late. (She’s up with the birds, remember?) Most mornings I send her back to bed once or twice before we all get up. She didn’t wake us? t naively believed Jelly had finally overcome her early-morning awakening.

Then J. gave her breakfast, and I realized how wrong I was. When our dog is disinterested in food, we know she’s unwell.

Normally Jelly eats in record time. Those dogs who pick at their food all day? Jelly ain’t one of them. In fact, she has a special dog bowl that slows down her eating. Before she had her special bowl, she’d inhale her kibble so quickly that, soon after she finished, she’d leave her breakfast, each little kibble intact, all over the kitchen floor. (I’ll let your imagination fill in the blanks here.)

So J. and I both tried to recall what Jelly had scrounged in the backyard the day before, other than kale. There was the occasional blade of grass, and a quick nibble on some grass patching that J. had spread. For whatever reason, Jelly has always loved grass (no, I don’t mean marijuana) in any form. Could her gardening have caused her stomach upset?

Sadly, despite our stellar attendance record with PALS, Jelly had to pass on yesterday’s visit. I emailed the organizer early yesterday morning to apologize for the late cancellation. What I neglected to tell her is that a lawn is currently taking root in Jelly’s stomach, causing her some discomfort, and that if she’d only vomit, she’d feel a lot better. Some things are better left unsaid.

If only I could end this post here.

I am a terrible mother, joking about my sick one. While I was busy minimizing Jelly’s tummy ache, J. determined Jelly needed to see Dr. Animal. Turns out our pup has an infection, hence the fever, lack of appetite, and lethargy. She has shown some improvement today, thank goodness, as evidenced by a few fleeting tail wags.

Hopefully Jelly will forgive me someday for neglecting her care. If not, I’ll find her a good therapist, one who will let her up on the couch.