Checking In

I’ve had a few tough days, as you may have guessed from my last post. I’m exhausted no matter how much I sleep. It’s hard to make sure that Dora gets her needs met, that I meet my own needs, and that anything beyond survival gets accomplished. 

But I try, and I’m doing ok. Not great, but ok.

To any of you who follow me and I also follow, I’m sorry that I haven’t had the energy to read and/or comment on your posts lately. I’m just so tired.

Days 53 & 54 With Dora

The three of us went on a long walk yesterday, about an hour and a half long. There were a lot of dogs and strangers around, but she did pretty well overall. She even got to sniff another pit bull mix! πŸ•

Things went pretty well, and we were all pretty tired when I started typing this last night, so I didn’t get very far.

Today, a friend and I went to a fast food place with outdoor seating, and Dora got her first practice at sitting and staying still in public while people ate. She got up about 5 times, but she sat again on command. Overall, it was pretty good.


It’s hard to imagine that this little girl will be allowed into restaurants with me later, that she will behave well enough to be trusted with that privilege. Still, Dora must be halfway there already. She did so well today, that I really think she can learn to do even better.

So, yeah… nothing major, just life together. Still waiting to see if my application gets approved. Fingers crossed.

Day 51 With Dora

I’m pretty tired. We walked around 5 miles today, split between 2 different walks. Why? 

  1. The temperature was 30 degrees higher today than yesterday.
  2. Generation 2 in PokΓ©mon GO released last night.


I haven’t actually seen these before, since I stopped watching the show before they reached these guys, and I never owned a Gameboy.

Overall, I’ve caught 12 new ones so far today, which is decent progress.


As a side effect, Dora has gotten a really good amount of exercise, and she is napping very well now. She sniffed so many things, saw several people and their dogs, scared about 45 geese into a pond, and had a great time. In general, she is getting much better at walking on a leash, but I need to be better at consistency with correcting her pulling.

Some days, I have the energy and time to make her stop when she pulls and to stand there until she relaxes enough to be ready to keep walking. On other days, I just want to walk. Today… today was more of the latter. But consistency matters most in teaching Dora to walk nicely, so I should try to do better.

Otherwise, I logged into Duolingo for the first time in a while and discovered they have chat bots for French now! 


I enjoyed talking to them more than I probably should, but they just rolled with my typos and underwhelming fluency. (Though I still maintain that if someone asked me “Do you want a sandwich or a salad?” and I said “A sandwich, please,” they would understand me even though it was a grammatical fragment.) πŸ˜‘ Oh well. 

It has been a pretty good day mentally and physically. 

Fitbit: Feb. 6-12

Warning: I talk about suicide in this post.

I have a purple Charge 2 that I wear almost constantly, because I want a heart monitor. As a side effect, I get slightly warped fitness stats emailed to me weekly. I say “warped” because the days that I spend 2-3 hours on the couch crocheting usually have 5,000 more steps than the days that I exercise more, so it’s clear that some of my steps aren’t actually steps.

Regardless, taking care of my body is a part of my growth process, so I thought it might be worth posting these from time to time. It’s still relatively new for me: I’ve only cared about my longevity for a little more than 2 years. Before that? Well…

Honestly, if I took an obvious path towards suicide, people would notice. Chemicals or injuries are very obvious. Overeating is slow and subtle, and in America, it’s rude to tell people that they are having too much to eat, so it is a very smooth road. Full plates, dessert when it’s offered, and self-medicating pain with sugar… it was easy but insidious.

As I came into my marriage, The Flutenist asked me to stop. To take care of myself. To live. 

I was… surprised might be too weak of a word to contain my reaction to being loved and wanted. As someone who had believed that if she died, she would fade into the aether, and the people around her would be subtly happier without being able to remember why… having someone ask me point blank to give him as many years of my life as I could was… like I said “surprising” is just not strong enough.

I took him seriously. 

I have lost 55 pounds so far, by making small changes and being consistent. (Read: I cut out refined sugar entirely for months, I stopped self-medicating with chocolate-caffeine-sugar combos, and I started eating smaller portions.)

My BMI is 30.0 right now. πŸ˜‘ Still obese, but just barely. My mom bought me a body composition analyzer for my birthday (at my request πŸŽ‰), so I will soon be able to temper that number with my % body fat. I suspect that the average healthy weight range for my gender/height/age may actually be too low for my body type, so I’d rather focus on maintaining a healthy fat level.

I had been exercising fairly frequently (about 45 minutes per day on the weekdays) before winter hit, but from November on, it’s been dicey here. My routine is ruined, and I can’t use my membership for the local indoor track (they have given us permission to bring my emotional support dog) because The Flutenist wants to wait until she’s better trained and/or has earned full public access first. It’s a good call, but it also prevents me from going.

At the very least, I’m holding pretty steady over the winter. Just going up and down a few pounds total. That bodes well for spring.

The Awkward Reality of Training Dora

Disclaimer: We haven’t started Dora’s official service dog training yet. We are still in the application phase. However, after all of the research and preparation I’ve done so far, I feel like I understand a few of the basics. For example, your dog can only learn to respond to your emotional cues if you practice those behaviors, just like verbal commands, just like learning tricks, just like almost all training goals.

So we were just outside for the 5th potty trip of the day (Dora peed but still hadn’t pooped). We came back inside. Within 10 minutes, she’s crying and poking at the leash. Dora only pokes at the leash when she really needs to go out. Cold ears and all, I had to bundle back up and head out. We went to one of Dora’s preferred spots. She finally finished her business after 6 trips, and I dragged her back to our home.

Child coming home from school? No. Go inside. Trash in the road? No. We’re going inside. Weird smells? No. Go inside. Geese flying around? Don’t care. Inside. Neighbor’s dog outside? JUST GO INSIDE! Screams. Pulls hard on leash/harness. Both inside. Door shut and locked. And I stood there, pressed up against the door, just breathing.

A nose touches my gloved hand, and I remember: I need to be training her now. She can tell that I’m not doing well, and I need to be interacting with her so that she learns to keep doing this.

I sit down and start talking to Dora. I pet her and apologize for being rougher than I’d like. I take off our gear (gloves, boots, harness, leash, coat), and I just start crying. Dora licks my face and I manage to praise her and pet her for doing it. I sob, she licks me, and I ruffle her ears and tell her that she’s a good girl. We do it again. And again. Until I don’t have any sobs left inside. 

It is such and odd thing for me at this early stage: allowing myself to experience my feelings so they don’t end up trapped inside and remembering to interact with my dog, teaching her little by little that if she comes to me when I’m sad, I will pet her, and love on her, and say nice things to her. 

It’s weird, being the caretaker who teaches her dog and the cared for who benefits from her dog’s care. Both roles are true, and it makes this a delicate partnership, held in balance through our affection for one another, which we’ve built through tug of war, walks, all of our outings, and just living life together.

I can do this. I don’t need to be perfect. I don’t need to have exclusively good days. Bad days are useful too. It will be alright.

Day 49 With Dora

It’s so cold here. The wind is just awful. It seems like half of the day I’ve had numb and/or painful ears. I’m dancing around the edge of frostbite, at least I think so. Mom said your skin hurts, then goes numb, then hurts again? (Or was that the other way around? πŸ€”) I’m too cold; I don’t remember.

Dora is just sniffing around the house like she’s looking for a potty spot. Which is why we were just outside for 15-20 minutes. For the 4th time today.


I can’t take it. She’s whining again. 

I AM SO COLD. WHY WON’T SHE JUST GO WHEN WE’RE OUTSIDE?! 

The longer we are out, the angrier and more tired I get, then the more I pull at her leash and snap at her. I can’t keep doing this. 

It’s so cold. 

I want to be a responsible owner and a good caretaker but the wind just saps my strength and leaves me empty. On days like this one, we stay out until I can’t handle it anymore, and then I stagger back home without being able to maintain good leash control or pay attention to what she’s doing.

15 mph wind. It’s just brutal when it’s below freezing. On days like this, my emotional support dog just makes things worse, honestly. It’s more the weather’s fault than hers, but I still get stressed out either way.