Monday, September 10, 2012

Day 3 Cross Canada: Thunder Bay, Ontario to Winnipeg, Manitoba

The next morning after the stair incident (and subsequent damn luckiness that no dog or person sustained any broken bones), we had to get Schultz back down the stairs.

We both showered that morning in overwhelming anxiety, and loaded our continental breakfast plates up with dread and a serving of intense fear. (Okay, okay, that might have been me. I think the Hubs might have actually had muffins and yogurt).

By the grace of Northern Ontario's angry Moose Gods, we somehow managed to get him down and out of the stairwell, safely to the boulevard to pee, and into the SUV.  A group of bikers made many comments/references about making sure we had control of him. Another man wanted to approach our Dane (fully decked out in a cage muzzle, remember), but mentioned something about the smaller dogs around us being Schultz' breakfast.

We headed out for the long, loooong, loooooong boring drive to Winnipeg.

I think this was to indicate we crossed a time zone in Winnipeg. Either that, or I am passed out at the wheel. The latter is the more likely scenario.

We hit so much construction - a Provincial highway improvement initiative translated into more areas than I can count that were reduced to one lane. One lane in total. So one side of the road would be given a green light, and we got to sit, idle and enjoy all the fumes surrounding us in the beauty of nature.

The sign holder wouldn't make eye contact, but would carelessly swing the sign back and forth, sometimes flipping it to slow, simply because she wasn't paying attention. Pretty dangerous/confusing, dumbass.

No, we're not in England, we're in the only open lane on Hwy #1 in Northern Ontario during the season between spring and fall: construction.

Just when I thought we had reached the end of the long day, it turned out that we got to sit through EVEN MORE construction along the city streets in the 'Peg. I was ready to snap. People cutting in, cutting me off, sitting. Waiting. Seething.

I've had enough of these motherf_cking cars, on this motherf_cking road: my summation of my emotions of having to drive an additional, unplanned hour after a full and tiring day.

We headed to the home of some of Hubs' relatives who were kind enough to offer their yard and home for a pit stop/run/stretch/dinner/hotel break for a few hours for the evening. They ordered vegetarian gluten-free pizza!! They even played with the dogs outside and let us do laundry there, which was so appreciated. (Trust me - when I am stressed, I "stress sweat", and it's an ENTIRELY different universe of stink. Potent enough to kill vampires.)

Sharing a drink, or using this bowl as a chin rest. Hard to tell.

The dogs were once again fairly well behaved, until the mosquitoes started to swarm us. From there we moved inside, where Ella tried to steal all the toys of the resident dog, and Schultz bumped into furniture and seemed generally out of sorts and stressed.

Background: We knew that Schultz' vision was getting poor. We knew he had trouble seeing some things, usually in low light. But as stuff was moved out of the house (before the drive), he started walking into light coloured walls (occasionally, not constantly) where large, dark pieces of furniture used to sit. Again, I thought it was worse because of the low light in the room at the time, but I knew it wasn't a good thing.

Then add in to the equation his stair terror. Add in falling off a low deck because he didn't know where the stairs were. Him stressed out in a strange house... not because of the noise or the people... but because we realized that he couldn't see most of it, if not all of it.

As he hunkered down once again, terrified to go over two small wooden stairs to the exterior door in an unfamiliar building, the gravity hit us that he must actually be blind. Really and truly blind.

I know there are bigger issues out in the world. I know there is unbelievable human and animal suffering around the globe. I most certainly get caught up and overwhelmed in my own life, but I do realize that major, awful things are happening right now in the world.

That being said, in that moment, we realized just how scared and how fragile our little fur baby was. His memorization of our old house hid how bad his vision was. Our vet explained a few months earlier that he had cataracts and that his pupils were fairly dilated, trying to allow as much light in as possible.

The blue-green sheen in his eyes was showing us the truth all along.

But when he trembled and pulled back when four of us tried to coax him down the stairs, it really became real. I know I have a flair for the dramatic, but it felt like my heart was breaking right then and there in Winnipeg. A part of me knew it was inevitable, but I really didn't think it had progressed as badly as it had.

With the help of the Hubs' family, area rugs were moved to provide traction for him (Schultz, not the Hubs), peanut butter was brought out, and kindness was showered on him as we tried to lift his 140 pounds over those two stairs.

S & S - If you are reading this, thank you for your patience and kindness.

We made it back to our Winnipeg hotel in good time, as traffic had cleared and we avoided construction en route. I was able to keep the tears at bay until we were in our SUV.

I cried for him, for his fear, for not being able to fix it or console him enough. I cried for my Hubs, who has such a bond with Schultz, because I could tell his heart was breaking, too. I cried remembering how hard it was in Scooby's senior years. I cried remembering the difficulties our blind cat (Mr. Grey) had when he was with us. I cried with fatigue, with hope, with sadness, with helplessness.

We got to the hotel, and I unloaded while the Hubs watched the dogs. I snapped at Ella. I snapped at the Hubs. I was mad at myself. And then the angry turned into what it really was - sadness and fear/anxiety, masquerading as outward anger. I cried on the hotel room floor beside Schultz, with Hubs sandwiched between us.

Everything is darkest before the dawn.

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  1. Construction is so fun and entertaining, especially when... I don't know, you actually want to use roads to drive somewhere. Gah.

    My heart is breaking for you and your pup.

  2. Light and love to you and your fur baby.

  3. One of my buddys has a blind dog, and it got around quite well. It loved chasing balls around the yard during bbq events with dozens of people. Once you get settled in again, he will relax and get around better.

  4. "And then the angry turned into what it really was - sadness and fear/anxiety, masquerading as outward anger."

    this is so well put, and it totally describes my reaction to difficult situations.

    I'm sorry you guys and Schultz are going though this. Chin up, buttercup.

  5. I'm sorry to hear about Schultz. Hang in there.


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