Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I'm a massage (groupon) whore.

(Using the word whore in a blog title might be inviting weird Google searches, but there's just no good substitute for it!)

I admit it. I am a massage whore. I scour Groupon, Yipit, Amazon Local Deals and LivingSocial for massages. I'll drive to Tigard on a Saturday morning. I'll figure out how to sneak out of work early on a weeknight. I'll go to a basement studio, a studio connected to your house, I've been to two studios in little converted sheds that felt like kids' playhouses with a massage table, hippie music, and a waterfall machine in the corner. For when I win the lottery, like my friend Bill, I've started keeping a list of who I'm going to share it with (because you don't want to make that decision in the heat of the moment of winning; you want a list that you've thought about in calm, considerate moments to refer to). And along with the folks who I'm going to buy a car, or give a down payment for a house to, or just write a nice check, I have a list of the things I will begin to do.

And getting 2 to 3 massages a week is very high on that list. It is an item on that list that could start immediately. Others will require some weeks or months of planning. And sure, I'd like one everyday, but my newfound lotto-winning life isn't going to be longer than 24 hours in a day, so capping it at 1 to 3 per week seems logical.

In the meantime, until this lottery-winning happens, I content myself with online massage deals and enjoy the experience of new masseuses, new styles, new studios, new music, new fragrances. Oddly, the weirdest massage I've had this year was in Honduras… where I had three… because apparently it is common there to slather on baby oil, to assist the masseuse. And I mean slather. For each massage, during the whole hour, I experienced seemingly endless drizzling. It took more than one shower and one dip in the ocean to feel like it was really gone. (I'm sure this killed coral and I will do karmic penance for it.)

But recently, I had my first myofascial release massage. If you haven't had one, try it! It was not exactly enjoyable during the massage, I won't lie - it is intense - but afterward, for a couple days, my back felt more neutral than it has in months. Perfectly relaxed with no areas of tension, and a true difference in my posture and muscles. What's the lesson? I guess that it pays to be a whore sometimes, when you try something new.

Monday, July 7, 2014

13 Weeks.

I keep saying that if I don't write it down, I'll forget, or be unable, to see if Reno is making any progress. So I'm writing it down.

We took him hiking three weeks ago. He has his own backpack because anybody, no matter their species, has their own backpack when they head out with John:

He loved hiking. He did not love the other dogs, whether they were off leash or on.

We brought him home 13 weeks ago yesterday. And so 13 weeks in, I am documenting that he has gotten more comfortable in our house. He can go up and down the stairs confidently, which was not the case originally. He still cannot go in the kitchen. He loves his kennel (aka his house) and sleeps easily in it every night for 8 to 10 hours.

He stays to his blanketed-spot on the couch nearly always, and has not jumped on the coffee table since that first day. He started wagging his tail, which when it began, was when we noticed that he had NOT been for a month! He now wags us a welcome in the morning, at night after work, and when we cross the room or have been gone for 3 minutes or more.

He jumps at fewer noises in the house, but still jumps at some.

And most importantly, let's chat about the reactivity. I'm not sure if he's less reactive - though I can say we are better at managing it. I can duck a dog heading our way before he even sees the thing. I can position us behind a parked car or in a stranger's driveway so that we can practice watching the dog walk by without his going over threshold. With me, he can currently handle a distance of across the street. Any closer, such as an unexpectedly chained or fenced dog, and he is over threshold in three seconds flat. It seems he can handle a closer dog with John.

One thing that has improved, without a doubt, is his recovery time. If he does go over threshold and starts lunging, growling, snapping and acting like he wants to devour the other dog, he can recover within one city block now.

Another improvement is that he has learned not only his name, but he's learned Sit and Shake! He is working on Down, Sit Pretty, and Come. I include Come in the 'working on' category because he's at about 80%. And 80% is really good but that other 20% is the time you really want him to obey. I don't know if any dog is 100% on the Come command. At the dog park, and on his long line, he has 90%+ recall of Come. We have not ever used it a true off-leash situation (because he's never been in one). So I call it 80%, to be safe.

But this past weekend was a slight digression from his improvement in anxiety reduction, thanks to the fireworks. Friday night the last ones that woke me up were at 2:05 AM. That erases any excuse that it's for the kids. I hate neighborhood fireworks. For Reno, the vet prescribed Xanax:

It worked for a while, and then it stopped. Next year, Xanax for me and a sedative for him. He is just today coming down fully off the heightened cortisol of the 3rd, 4th and 5th's all-day explosions. This dog has PTSD and I'm not even trying to be funny. 

Of course what I'd like to see is for him to be able to pass an oncoming dog (first on the other side of the street, and eventually on the same side) without having a reaction. I'm not sure this will ever be possible; everything I read is not encouraging. But, at the 13-week mark, I can say he definitely is less anxious on walks - he does not cower at EVERY bicycle, loud car, shuffling foot, crunchy leaf. He only cowers at some of them. He used to pass all people with rolled-back ears and a low posture. He now is more perked up, almost looking like he could go over threshold, but he never does. He is less interested in people who are not me, John, and Auntie Beth (John's sister, and his bi-weekly dog walker). 

He does not bark in the backyard ever anymore (thanks, we think, to the two weeks of the citronella collar), and now likes it out there - he goes out willingly and stays out there without us even, from time to time.

He is rarely interested in birds now; he saves that energy for squirrels - and cats, and dogs, of course.

He still sheds a ton; I think we're screwed on this one. When he's anxious, it seems to increase from the normal rate of Daily Shit Ton to a momentary Are You Dying? level. 

In three more months, I'll remember to update on his reactivity, his leash-pulling tendencies (which are still fairly high, depending on the time of day) and his anxiety. Hopefully by documenting, there will be continued improvements seen, and thus we'll move away from feeling so on-the-fence about adding the little red leaner* to our house. 

*Little Red Leaner is one of his nicknames; when he greets us in the morning, he likes to lean into us, or put the top of his head on your shin, or even on the floor, curling over and leaning in for maximum back scratchin. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Oh, yeah, and we went to Honduras in May.

I have always been weirded out by pictures of birds and monkeys on peoples' shoulders in foreign countries. But at this nature preserve, the monkeys were free to come and go - no cages, no nets, no barriers. Zoo animals in the US have names; so did these guys. If they wanted to come when called, and wanted to sit in your shoulder for a sunflower seed, they did. If not, tough luck. And if they wanted to relocate on Roatan from this location, they were free to do so. So I decided it wasn't so bad, and let this dude rest his gentle little feet on me.

Example number one of the off season. Sunset. 100% empty chaise lounge chairs, 5:50 PM on a Friday.

Hammocks on the deck of each hotel room. It's also 89 and full of humidity, but I regret not buying one of these lovely rope hammocks at a roadside market.

Example number two of the offseason. Black Rock snorkel site, a six minute walk from our resort/hotel and amazing underwater sites. 11 AM on a weekday.

Hammocks at the ice cream parlor in West End. The way to enjoy ice cream.

Dinner on swings! 

It was fun, even if our server thought it was weird we ate a whole meal in the swings, and not just cocktails (as most folks do).

Scarlet macaw I did not want on my shoulder.

John, suspicious of the capuchin. 

John, friends now with the capuchin.

Example number three of the offseason. 25 seat dive boat - 1 diver, 1 instructor, 1 captain, 3 snorkelers. $15 for a 2-site morning trip, and room to stretch out! 

Example number four of the offseason. Late afternoon swim, 4 PM on a weekday, and very few people disturbing my lazy salt-suspeneded back floats. 

Sun kissed. It was eight days without makeup, and without a bra. That's how I define vacation.

Above and below: 5 year anniversary night (the night we arrived). Silly, blurred photos, but a happy wood anniversary!