How to buy your Chihuahua a Winter Sweater.


Let him have one last (naked) walk so he realizes just how cold it is outside. Drive to the pet store, carry him in. To. keep him in an OK mood, and because the sign says you can, put him down on the floor so he can explore while you surreptitiously go through the dog sweaters to find the right size and style. Put your foot on top of where he just peed and try to rub it into the floor so nobody sees. Pick him up and “apply” the first sweater. No matter how dedicated to you he is, we all know Chi’s are a one person dog, he WILL bite you as soon as the sweater goes over his demon head. The “gargling growl” will commence and it will hurt more the second time when you try to put his front leg through one of the holes. His freak out will gain attention from everyone in the store except they think it is “cute” or “precious”. They coo “Aww, he’s smiling”. That is NOT a smile ladies !! He is not named “Chewy” for nothing! You manage to get his other foot through and avoid cursing the F word (and the Lord’s name) out loud as he draws blood from your thumb. You wipe it off, instinctively, on the sweater. NOW you have to BUY the bloody thing (pardon the pun). He is now having what appears to be a major seizure but really he is playing his best game of Twister to somehow slip from your grip. A salesperson will rush over and attempt to give him a freeze dried liver treat…his FAVORITE…but he has now gone on a hunger strike, sulking over the sweater you have just fitted him into like a straight jacket. (Which might be a GOOD thing at this very moment.) You put him down now but he refuses to walk, as if he has been rendered quadriplegic from having a polyester knit on his body. As you purchase the sweater, the more expensive one dammit as it now has your DNA on it, remember to buy some urine remover spray because he is mad, and he will seek revenge on your PILLOW when he gets home. And IN your shoes, that is as soon as you remove the enemy sweater because if you don’t, he will remain paralyzed, shaking, and giving you the stink eye.


I would like to talk about my dog Hannah and the story of her rescue. It speaks to how love and care can turn an abused dog’s life around, and yours at the same time. While Hannah is not my first rescue and likely won’t be my last; her story is unique in how she came to be with me. I am a little dog person…for the most part. I have had big dogs in my life, but generally, and especially as I am older now and live in a smaller home, little dogs tend to be easier. Yappier…naughtier, but easier…I guess! I went to a home this week three years ago to buy an item off the local buy and sell social media site. When I got there, I realized this was not a great place, drug paraphernalia around…weed smoke….liquor bottles strewn everywhere….not a place I wanted to stay at for too long. In the corner of my eye I saw a medium sized, skinny black dog in a wire cage. Immediately I knew she was not in a good situation. She was slumped in the corner, feces and urine around her, dead eyes….the kind that show she had given up. I had $200 in my pocket for various second hand shopping I was planning to do. I went over to the cage to pet her and was horrified at what I saw. The dog had what I was pretty sure were cigarette burns on her face and sides. The woman came into the room (the one I had been waiting for|) and I asked her how much she wanted for her dog. I didn’t even bother to ask if she was looking for a home for her, I knew in this situation money would talk.And it did. She looked at the dog, looked at me and said “a hundred bucks”. I said sold. I got the hell out of there while she had her “old man” bring the cage out while I gently walked Hannah out into the snow covered yard. She crawled. She shook uncontrollably. I asked the guy why she was walking like this and he said “Oh she’s never been outside since she was a pup.” I asked how she does her business then and he said “in her cage, we clean it up a couple times a week.” I learned Hannah was 8 months old, was a cross between a Dalmation and a Mastiff (although I think more Staffordshire than Mastiff|) and she had endured a rough 8 months after the kids lost interest. Hannah has healed from her burns, gained weight, grown taller, enjoys sprinting and jumping over other dogs as if they are hurdles at the dog park, loves tug of war games, will gut a stuffy toy in about five minutes, intuitively plays gently with her chihuahua pack, sometimes has their head in her mouth !!! for fun I guess…..and has the most bizarre attraction to unwrapped bars of Ivory soap. It HAS to be Ivory. She carries a three pack around like it is her baby (And I am just as bad as I buy it for her and have even named it her “Baby Ivory”. .Eventually she unwraps them and nests with these bars of soap while her pack mates try to steal them because they MUST be good if she is hoarding them. On a serious note, she is so attuned to my emotions and feelings she has become a defacto therapy dog for me due to my PTSD (I am a retired first responder-RCMP and a victim of a violent crime) I have my moments, and even if they are unspoken, if I am hiding them from my kids as we watch tv or just hang out, she is right there, by my side, sometimes on top of me because she lives with chihuahuas and thinks she is one…all 70 pounds of her!! Her intuition is phenomenal. She understands English so now I have to spell certain words to avoid her getting excited, or hiding \(like “let’s give her a bath, let’s get her nails clipped”….she is extremely protective. One night there was a person looking in my bedroom window and before I could even react (gasp, yell out, call 911) Hannah was full speed jumping from my bed to the window….I was certain she was going to crash through it….fierce, protective, ready to take his head off. I doubt the peeping tom will be back. She scared the hell out of me too and she is on MY side ! Hannah has issues as all rescue dogs do, some will probably never go away. She hates men wearing ball caps. She hates cameras ( I think it is the flash..which she anticipates) …and she suffers terribly at the thought of being kenneled. You can feel the whole bed vibrating the minute she thinks I am going out and she will have to go into her kennel. She usually finds a way out of it, creative ways, eating the side of the plastc vari kennel, tossing the metal kennel upside down with her in it until she can jimmy the now loose door to freedom. Finally, I couldn’t do it anymore and I leave her loose. Even though I know I will come home to naughty dog antics and the aftermath of canine high jinks. Three years ago this week my life changed for the better, and so did hers. I have had many dogs over my lifetime, all special in their own way, but I suspect Hannah will be the one who claims my heart the most. She has all of it now.

Reflections on a Wall of Silence

It is five years for me now since my daughter has spoken to me.

Yes she is always on my mind; where is she, what is she doing, another day of no contact, another day of not knowing.   However, I have stopped asking why, or what did I do wrong.  I no longer punish myself with unanswerable questions and circular thinking that leads nowhere.

The fact is that I know I did nothing knowingly wrong.   It is all on her…her interpretation of what she feels I did not do well enough. Since she does not even have the courage to face me in a face to face conversation and talk….it is on her for being a coward and hiding behind a “wall of silence.”

Yes I am hurt, rejection hurts.

Yes I am sad, I lost not only my daughter but my expectations of what my senior years would look like with her family around me.

Yes I suffered all the PTSD symptoms that go with living through a traumatic ordeal like this.

But, I have come to that place where I accept that it is what it is.   I can chose to live in the past or the wistful thinking of what might have been.  Or I can chose to create something new and meaningful for my present and future.   I choose the latter.  It is not easy.   But it is the only option for me.

Passive Aggressive adult children, like my daughter, who estrange, are upset about something.  I grant them that they do have the right to feel the way they do about whatever it is that they are upset about. I have no wish to deny them this right or their feelings.

However, they also have to accept that they do not have the right to deny me the right to my feelings and my thoughts and my reasons for my choices.

When choosing to remain silent about whatever it is that they are angry about, however, it is my opinion that they are just acting like cowards.

Talking, really sincerely talking and communicating about what that something is, seems to be too much of a challenge for them.  For some reason they can not express in a civilized conversation what it is that annoys them so much and has them feeling so angry.

Communication which could lead to resolution is beyond them.  So they remain forever in the past laying blame and expressing hatred, and they live with that emotion, they allow it to fester in their conscious and unconscious minds.  That grudge colours the way they look at things.  It colours their life choices.  It taints their psyche, and even though they are unaware of it, it is like a disease they carry in their deepest darkest thoughts.

Communication also requires listening!  Listening to that other point of view!  They fear the consequences of bringing their grievances out into the open because they fear hearing the other side of the story.   Therefore, they use the passive approach, rejection and silent treatment.   Like that can solves anything!?   They allow that silence to express all the anger they feel and it festers in them unchanging and unresolved.

The problem with this approach is that NOTHING changes and nothing gets resolved.

  • No issues are confronted and dealt with.
  • Childhood issues remain unresolved and are allowed to fester and influence what should be adult choices.
  • There is no closure for anyone involved.  Not for the parent, not for the now adult child and even the next generation, the grandchildren, are left dangling with unresolved past issues clouding the scene.

Start facing the reality that parents are not some “perfect creature” with divine insight into how to be the perfect parent in every situation.  Parents do the best they can at the moment when they have a choice that needs to be made.  Sure, in hindsight maybe, the choice was not the best one…but you can’t roll back the clock and change your mind.  You accept you made a mistake, you apologize and you move on hoping that the next time a difficult decision needs to be made you have the resources to do better.

Parents do not step into parenting thinking that they will willfully hurt their children.  Parents do not set out to harm their children in any way.   And if you really believe that is possible look into the eyes of your own child and say “I am going to knowingly and willfully harm you in every way I can”    Was it possible…could you think or say that to your child? Could you imagine following through on such a thought?   So if you could not do it why do you try to accuse your parents of doing so?

Life happens, things happen, choices have to be made based on the events and the knowledge at that moment.  You can’t parent with the hindsight of future knowledge.  No parenting crystal ball has yet been invented.

So if your feelings were hurt because of something a parent said or did in a moment of life induced stress, come to accept that “this is life”.   Express your feelings about that incident and the be prepared to listen to what the parent was going through at the time that led to that choice.

Listen to the regret and accept that expression of regret for what it is, remorse that we made a mistake.  Every choice bears consequences.  Not all the consequences are the ones we would wish for.  But that is the nature of life and living life.

We live, we make mistakes, we learn.

Here is a new thought, instead of hiding behind a wall of silence, talk about what upset you.  Shine the light of day upon your grudges.   Ask to hear the other side of the story.  There ALWAYS is another side to the story.

You may be surprised at what you learn, about the agony that went into making that choice that left you feeling the way you do.  You may gain a whole new perspective and understanding of the humanity of your parents.

If you continue to hide behind your shield of silence and non communication, I can guarantee 100% for sure, that nothing will change.  You will continue to feel the anger and annoyance and that anger and annoyance will taint your life choices, and the consequences of your choices,  in ways that you can’t even yet imagine.  You will carry that burden with you and it will have an impact on your life and the lives of your own children. From a position of life experience I can tell you that is a certainty.

Life can be very different if you chose to come forward for some honest dialogue.

You may not hear what you want to hear, but you will hear a truth that you have not allowed yourself to see.  And you may learn that being an adult means accepting different points of view.  You may learn that being an adult requires give and take.  You may learn that it is okay to agree to disagree and still find a way to be a daughter again.

I have now moved on. I have forgiven her for the choices she has made. It has been the hardest work I have ever done. The relationships I cherish in my life have grown stronger, authentic. I am so grateful for my remaining children and new relationships I never would have had if she hadn’t left me. Left us.  In a way my daughter’s absence, while agony, was a gift. The hole in  my heart remains because you cannot fill it with someone else’s love, but I no longer feel the emptiness that resides there. I have learned so much about myself. For the first time in my life, instead of denying the pain or trying to stuff it down and “be strong”, I walked straight into it. When I need someone to hold me, I reach out to my children. And when no one is there, I embrace myself.

Sometimes falling apart is the only way to start over, so can rebuild yourself into a more beautiful and whole person.

Though it is likely our paths in this life will not cross again, my prayer each day is for the heart of my daughter to be filled to its depths with such profound healing.

with RenateMarrello

My boy Jesse James



His mum was pregnant with him when she was found wandering on the streets in Los Angeles as a stray with stab wounds on her torso and neck.

Miraculously, she was rescued, saved, fostered, and ended up coming out to my rescue in Canada, and mine became her forever home.

Jesse was the sole surviving puppy and of course I kept him too. Jesse was always a frail little guy, hence the “outlaw” name, to give him some confidence maybe, who knows.  It was kind of like calling a Great Dane “Tiny”, or a fat dog “Slim”. The name did make people laugh when they heard it.


Jesse lived with us for 5 years, from birth onwards, and his mum Lucy and auntie ‘Baby Girl’ formed the trio of damaged-by-humans chihuahua dogs who lay up on my pillow at night, and shared a dog bed during the day when they were not outside sunning themselves, catching bugs, sitting in the window barking ferociously at the neighbour’s Rottie and other big dogs passing by.

Baby Girl, Lucy, Jesse, the trio of trouble.

Jesse got cancer, the fast kind that hardly lets you catch your breath before its too late and has gone everywhere. It started with a limp and then invaded his tiny body until his heart gave out.

Jesse and his mum, cuddling.

We made his last month the best one, unlimited treats, people food, ice cream, tummy rubs, finger tip massages. On the night he was dying, I bathed him in a warm bath to restore his dignity and make him fresh and sweet smelling for his journey across the bridge. As the warm water comforted him I told him all about Heaven, the Bridge, who would meet him there (two of my elderly rescues who had passed months before) and all the fun he would have basking in the sun, chasing bugs, the best bugs Heaven had to offer. I promised him that I would put some of his favourite home made biscuits with him for his journey. I told him not to be scared and to announce his name proudly when he felt a little nervous. I told him to look out for my mum who I lost when I was only 23, a true dog lover and someone who would be his “human” until I saw him again. I lay him with his mum Lucy where he was happiest, on half of my bed pillow, and she groomed him until he took his last breath. Little Jesse James, my gentle outlaw. You will be missed.



There’s a Monster in my House.

This is “Monster”.


She has earned her name.

I rescued her from a hoarding situation when she was 7 months old.  She is absolute proof that dogs have senses of humour.

She thinks it is hilarious to charge out the front door when someone is going in or out and “play” keep away…(she keeps away from you) in the middle of a busy road.

She caused me enormous embarrassment once when I was in such a panic that she was going to be hit that I ran to the fridge to get something to coax her back and all I could find was a whole roast chicken I was planning for supper.


I believe it remains the talk of the town that some half dressed plumpish woman was seen throwing an entire chicken at a dog in the road. (She took it out to the middle of the road to eat it. Traffic stopped because drivers couldn’t laugh their asses off and drive at the same time.)


Speaking of food, Monster adores it. And she thinks anything on a plate belongs to her.



Don’t look away for a second while eating your lovely beef wellington with garlic mashed potatoes and green beans or else you will be left to wonder if the gourmet meal was a figment of your imagination. ( I discovered, with my bare foot, a few hours later that beans and Monsters don’t go well together!)


Monster could have several editions of “Dog Shaming” books published in her honour.



Did I mention she drives?? Well, not intentionally.


Recently I was wondering why the love seat felt so lumpy. so I removed the cushion and discovered four doggy toys, ten bones, two cheese wrappers, three popsicle wrappers, a fork, a hammer, a cat food can, a piece of a photo frame, and old gum.


Today she got into a brand new box of 60 band aids. I don’t know how she managed it, but she presented with about 25 of them all over her (which she just might need if she keeps this up!)


Her idea of cuddling in bed is her bottom to my nose !!


She is, without a doubt, the world’s BEST pug!!!


My Girl Jess.

Oh, how I loved her. I will miss her forever.
She loved popsicles, caramels, soda pop, jujubes (but only the red ones) and salt and vinegar chips.
She hated having ‘pedicures’ and would ‘pretend bite’ me every time I tried to take care of her feet. (by “pretend” I mean she’s give me a warning that she had teeth and wasn’t afraid to use them….).
Her nickname was “Her Royal Highness” because she thought she was ‘all that’ and because she loved being in high places, whether that was the kitchen counter (which would usually coincide with me having baked something), my desktop (where any drink left there while I typed or read was claimed by her tongue in my glass!) and on the dining room table (reconnaissance ! ). Any attempt to remove her from these inappropriate spots resulted in her becoming a dead weight, looking at me as if to say “‘you talking to ME?” (CIRCA 1976 Taxi Driver) or at the very least, taking her sweet time in getting down…usually after finishing my ginger ale, tea, juice and dripping it off her beard unapologetically.
Yes, Jessica was the Queen of the House.
If she could have talked, it would have been with an upper crust British accent worthy of her lot in life. The only time she acted in a very un royal way was when she habitually snorted in my face each time she greeted me. Maybe she kept doing it because my sarcasm was lost on her when I said “thank you for that.”
I adopted Jessica as a puppy, one of the few dogs in my life who was not a rescue. I adopted her for my 40th birthday during a year that had been difficult, health wise, and I had gone through a difficult separation. When I arrived at the home of the litter of puppies, I was met at the door by the lady of the house, holding Jessica and telling me she was the last in the litter. she was gorgeous (Jessica, not the lady of the house). She explained that they had called her ‘Jackie’ as in Jacqueline Onassis due to the dark colouring around her eyes that made it look like she was wearing “celebrity” sunglasses. I had already decided on the name”Jessica” but on the way home decided to pay homage to her ‘family’ name and decided on the moniker Jessica Jackie ‘O’ had a nice ring to it. Jessica’s “husband” was Nikko, who was three months older than her and who passed away last year. They had a litter of pups, SEVEN of them, and Jessica got milk fever which cost me an emergency fee at the vet at 6 in the morning after I woke up and saw she was having trouble walking. (Why do dogs always get sick after hours??) She was spayed as soon as her pups were weaned and following that surgery she was grumpy and menopausal and for about 6 months she had two moods, namaste and I’ll bite you. The vet said she could put her on some doggy anti depressants but Jess and I rode it out.
We both got fat in our old age, slept on our backs (although my legs were not in the air, ……..anymore), occasionally spooned, we both snored, slept in and enjoyed midnight snacks. Whatever our souls are made of, hers and mine were the same.
This last week has had me feeling overwhelmingly grateful and extremely, intensely bereaved. Jess was old, yes, at 17, (she had the heart and energy of a dog half her age. ) but she had not been sick, or injured, and the early hours of the morning she died we shared a cuddle on the bed, her insisting I continue to rub her tummy as we both drifted off with Kraft Caramels in our tummies. I cannot understand how a happy, healthy dog could just go back to sleep and not wake anymore.
Maybe it was meant to be this way. That’s how it is done in the animal kingdom. Sometimes they just know when it is time to die. She didn’t appear to suffer; she just went to sleep and never woke up.
She was one of a kind. There will never be another like her. I had something with her that can’t easily be explained – a connection, a soul mate, a friend, a teacher. I will never forget her . Jess was one of the most stubborn, loyal creatures I have ever met.
I think she was my best friend.

In the immortal words of Louis C.K., bringing home a puppy is a “countdown to sorrow.”

I hate the inevitable.

For all of you who stayed to the end, thank you. I feel better already.



Mother’s Day – Minus Mum

Mother’s Day – Minus Mum
I had my mum for 23 Mother’s Days. The last one was the day I lost her. Yes, my mum passed on Mother’s Day, 1983, while I was visiting her in hospital, right in front of me. She started talking to her (long ago passed) father over my shoulder, and told me her dad had come to get her, and then she just…..died.
There is no getting around Mother’s Day. Every year, its looming arrival causes an emotional explosion. I adored her, and even though it has been 34 years, I literally think about her every day. Mother’s Day is a reminder of my terrible loss, so unfair not to have had her there beside me through life’s main events. Or to just call up to chat, to get advice, to tell her something exciting.
We all take our loved ones’ place in our lives for granted. Not being able to talk to your mum is very hard.
It has been my children’s loss not to have known her. She was my hero. She saved me. She is the best person I have ever known.
I lost my dad a year after she he died of a broken heart. This is true. He just dropped dead. He suffered greatly after her passing and his final words to her, just after she had passed, were “good bye my darling but not for long.” He kept his word to her.
Sometimes I can barely wait to go to Heaven to be with them. The three of us together again.
In the meantime, let me tell you a few things about her that I remember.
She had a British Accent and when she talked she sounded exactly like the Queen of England. And her presence had a royal-ness to it, my mum could take over a room, just with her dignity, kindness, humour, and aura.
She loved Lily of the Valley perfume, wearing odd hats (well, to me the then teenager they seemed odd) she often hummed “Onward Christian Soldiers” and she liked gin and tonic.
She had a mad crush on James Garner (Rockford Files), Raymond Burr (Ironside) and Robert Goulet. Sometimes I think she just mentioned this to get even with my dad who crushed on Sofia Loren BIG time.
My dad’s last girlfriend before he got together with my mum was named Muriel. So we had a cat named “Muriel”, and when that cat died we got another cat,,,and named her Muriel. Mum said it would remind dad to appreciate that he had her now. Muriel was sent to the litter box!
Mum had really lovely, long, soft hands which I loved in the evening when I would drape myself over her knee as a little kid and she would rub my back. Dad sometimes tried to do this for me but Mum did it perfectly. She had the touch.
She had beautiful, flawless skin. She wore velvet gloves to bed every night filled with vaseline as this was her home remedy to maintain lovely hands
She had a dry sense of humour and was ahead of her time in her opinions about things. She befriended a mixed race couple who had moved onto our street in the mid 60’s when they were being shunned by everyone else. She thought it was best, she advised me, to live together before getting married and having a career and being able to support yourself was the most important thing…to never rely on a man.
When I had said one time I wanted to be nurse she told me NO…you will be a doctor.
She embraced mental health days – one outstanding memory I have is the day I was feeling kind of fed up with life (oh yes, the life of a grade fiver is SO stressful !!) and although I hadn’t said anything when I was getting dressed for school, her intuition told her I needed a break, so she LET me skip school and took me shopping for the day, to Woodward’s and Eaton’s and The Army and Navy, …and to Woolworth’s lunch counter! My mum was so cool.
When a kid was bullying me in middle school (Leanne Wells, you know who you are!!!) , and really bullying me, with physical contact, my mum told me the next time she took a swing at me to fall down “unconscious” and wait for someone to call the principal and likely she would steer clear of me from then on. I actually did it, “coming to” when the principal got out the smelling salts (Oscar worthy performance) she was suspended, and never came near me again. My mum was brilliant.
Instead of bedtime stories, my mum would sit on my bed and tell me stories about the family, the history, the people, the gossip (apparently my Uncle Hartley had a secret family on the side). She told me about the years she was in a private boarding school in Belgium and how the English girls hated the French girls vice versa, she got into a rolling-on-the-ground fist fight with a french girl who had told my mum that the Prince of Wales wore a corset!! My mum was a monarchist!!
While at the school, the nuns had their own quarters, similar to a large dorm room, and would keep chamber pots under each of their beds (to urinate in at night). Mum proudly told me of the time she organized a group of thugs to slip bicarbonate of soda (like alka seltzer) into the chamber pots…hence, a fizzy experience  overflowing in the middle of the night. She framed the French girls!!
She also told me about the day she was called into the Sister’s office and told she had to go home to Wales as her mother had died. My mum was 13 at the time. They said she had passed away from a ruptured appendix. My mum never went back to school in Belgium and stayed home with her dad, who she adored. Her favourite song was “Oh My Papa – to me you were so wonderful” by Eddie Fisher and she would sing it often.
Oh, my pa-pa, to me he was so wonderful
Oh, my pa-pa, to me he was so good
No one could be, so gentle and so lovable
Oh, my pa-pa, he always understood.
Gone are the days when he could take me on his knee
And with a smile he’d change my tears to laughter
When her health started to fail (dementia) I had just joined the RCMP and was explaining to her what I did…she told to make sure I kept the (police) car doors locked at night and not to let anyone strange into my car.
When “streaking” became a “thing” (it was a fad in the early 70’s and called an “epidemic” by the media in 1973), I brought a magazine home that was all about this phenomenon ….complete with photos. This was totally my humour!! Not so much my mum and dad’s HOWEVER my mum sure took a long time “going over” the magazine despite her protestations, and seemed to have a fixation with the parachutist featured…in all his glory.
My mum was funny, devoted, honest, brave, generous, an advocate, and wise.
My Mother’s Day gift to her is honouring her life, loving her beyond the border between earth and heaven, and being the difference she made in my world.
Mum, I always feel you are nearby, and when I talk to you, you hear me. I just miss you so much. I wish we had taken more photos together and that you had not cut yourself out of the ones you were in!!
Today I will honour my very dear mum, continue to demonstrate my deep love and gratitude for this selfless and courageous woman who remains my greatest hero.
Erith Maisie (Nicholls) Thomson