I’m Fat, How did this happen?

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I’m fat, how did this happen?

I just want to get real here in this blog post to start a discussion and support for myself & everyone who’s struggling. I’m 5’ 9” and a comfortable weight for my body seems to be around 165-170 and a size 12. Yes, I’d like to weigh less than that but I tried for years & despite dog walking 5 hours a day & going to the gym that was about as low as I could get.

I’m ashamed to say I currently weigh 198, and am a size 14 which is completely shocking and not ok. Other people seemed shocked by this number because they say I “carry my weight well.” That’s why I wanted to put the number out there.

There are many factors that have lead to this. Last summer I was in & out of the hospital for depression, on & off several medications. I got down to around 160. Since getting out of the hospital, I’ve been on Seroquel (known for weight gain), which I got off of. I’m now on several medications including Abilify (which is supposed to be weight neutral but isn’t from my experiences on it over the past few years). While I do believe medications can effect your weight, I also have to take responsibility for what I put in my mouth.

I’ve always had a sweet tooth. I was a chunky kid, a girl scout who sold some cookies but also ate a lot. When I got to middle school I joined the soccer team and went on a 1400 calorie a day diet per a doctor. I was hungry a lot but lost weight.

In high school I took up smoking, and drinking, and not eating much. This kept me thin but then I got sober and food once again became an issue. In college I started running a lot which helped me stay around 165-170. Then when I moved to NYC I was not only walking everywhere, I started a dog walking company which had me walking 4-6 hours a day. I could pretty much eat what I wanted & not gain weight until my late 20s. Then my metabolism bid me farewell. I started going to the gym in addition to dog walking to maintain my weight.

Last year though I moved upstate and am now driving everywhere. I continue to go to the gym and walk dogs here and there but I’m obviously not getting exercise anywhere on the scale I used to.

Sugar is my best friend and my worst enemy. A cookie here, a scone there, pie, chocolate etc. Never in huge quantities, but almost every day I have eaten something sugary, I’m ashamed to admit. I’m an addict and apparently I need to learn how to abstain from this.

In the past year I’ve hired a personal trainer, been on & off Weight Watchers, did a weekly vegan food delivery service multiple times. I got a juicer and starting drinking green juices but could never seem to have the resolve to do a full on no eating juice cleanse. I’ve watched copious amounts of documentaries from Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead to That Sugar Film to Vegucated. I’ve been to the Catskill Animal Sanctuary & Woodstock Farm Sanctuary. I know how fucked up the food industry in regards to animal products and processed foods. I’d really like to go vegetarian or vegan but I struggle with that as well.

I’ve gotten a lot of solace and inspiration from Jasmine Singers book “Always Too Much and Never Enough.” It’s a memoir about how she struggled with her weight even as a vegan and her path (which involved juicing) to losing weight and getting a better relationship with food and herself. I’d like to find more books like this.

Before I blow up anymore I’m committing to a 3-10 day juice cleanse starting Monday 9/26/16. I want to detox and get off sugar etc. I’m trying to look at the fast as a spiritual challenge not just deprivation. I’ll see how long I can go for, but I’d like to make it 10 days. It’s like I’m afraid I’ll have a total meltdown, but things have gotten dire so I’m willing to give it a try.

I’m going to go to the gym or do some kind of exercise 5 times a week.

I’m going to go back to counting points on Weight Watchers.

I’m going to try to eat vegetarian and hopefully make my way to vegan. I want to eat whole foods and a mostly plant based diet.

I also may go to Overeaters Anonymous for support.

I’m tired of hating myself so I’m committing to this publicly and will post updates. I’d love to hear about your struggles and successes as well.

Anyone want to join me in this challenge?

 

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Why Saugerties, NY is one of the best towns to base your Hudson Valley visit

LIGHTHOUSESaugerties is an easygoing, down to earth town that was called one of the “coolest small towns” by Budget Travel. Situated between the Hudson River and the Catskill Mountains it is a very picturesque.

Location: Saugerties is 20 minutes from the also popular towns Kingston, 15 minutes to Woodstock & Catskill. 25 minutes to Hudson & Rhinebeck, 30 minutes from New Paltz & Hunter Mountain. All of these towns have great food, hiking, shopping, etc

Pet Lovers:

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Dogerties General Store & Gallery next to the movie theater on Main Street carries quirky home, pet, and outdoors items. Brooklyn expat Susie DeFord (me) hosts gallery opening parties that partner with nearby Inquiring Minds bookstore (also pet friendly) for events like involving music & writing on Saugerties popular First Fridays where stores stay open late and do special things for the community.

Wolf Moon carries pet food & treats.

There are plenty of pet friendly reasonable Air B&Bs in Saugerties & nearby Catskill. We are about to open one 10 minutes from Saugerties in Catskill on our 7 acres with creek & mountain views. Message me for details.

There are great easy hikes/walks to the Lighthouse & Falling Waters Preserve both along the Hudson River. Also check out Esopus Creek Conservancy Trail, Indian Head Mountain Loop, Huckleberry Point Trail. If you’re active in general there’s also good kayaking & biking (see also Revolution Bicycles)

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Some of my favorite hikes in nearby towns are near New Paltz (Minnewaska, Mohonk), Woodstock Overlook Mountain Hike, Poets Walk, Kaaterskill Falls, & North South Lake Region to name a few.

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Food: Who doesn’t love a town with 2 chocolate shops? Krauses is traditional & while Lucky Chocolates has more eccentric flavors & is also is a café that serves lunch, juices, & coffee. Rae the owner is a pet lover & lets pups come in from time to time. There are tables outside as well.

New World Home Cooking– innovative dishes.

Hudson Valley Dessert Company serves up great bakery items.

Cue & Stella’s Station: both seasonal businesses have outdoor seating and are pet friendly. Cue has live music a lot in the summer.

The Dutch Ale house: OMG best burgers in town, truffle French fries, & great food in general.

Pig Bar & Grill also has good burgers.

Miss Lucy’s kitchen: has the best brunch & deserts bar none.

Love Bites serves American fare.

Rock Da Casbah: for Rainbow Cheesecake & interesting twists on food

Deliciouso: has the best sandwiches in town, hands down. Also Brine Barrel.

For Mexican check out Main Street Restaurant & El Rancho

Slices, Village Pizza & have great pizza.

Chinese & Japanese check out King Szechaun & Tomo Sushi

Best Italian is Annerella’s off Malden Turnpike & Mirabella’s 

Takeaway Black Eyed Suzie’s 

Vegan Gourmet to Go 

Diners: Village Diner is super friendly & awesome, Barclay Heights Diner is cool too.

Coffee Shop: Blue Stone Roasters, Lucky Chocolates, & Inquiring Minds Bookstore also serve coffee.

Shopping:

I already mentioned Dogerties General Store but there are a slew of shops in town that have interesting finds.

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For nice home goods check out Lighthouse & Boudoir Baby Fine Nursery & Children Furnishings, & Argentum Home.

Quirky vintage etc stuff: Rock Star Rodeo.

For fashion check out: Dig ,  Juda Leah (super awesome couture), CCB, & The Pink Chandelier  & Frank & Co Fine Jewelers a staple to the community for 30 years providing.

Saugerties is known for its antiques you can see them at Saugerties Antique Center, Circa Jerk, & Newberry Antiques & English Gardens Antiques, Fed On Lights & Green.

In addition to Inquiring Minds bookstore, OUR bookstore is a great used bookstore.

Entertainment: Orpheum Theater has 3 screens and is awesome. $7 movies $5 on Mondays & Thursdays. Great popcorn.

There are several events in the summer & fall months. Hits horse shows, Saturday Farmers market, Garlic Festival, Food trucks, Zombie Crawls, 4th of July parade, Bed races Car shows & other shenanigans.

We hope you’ll come visit!

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How I Lost Everything and Regained Myself

After battling horrible clinical depression for almost a year, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve cried. I haven’t had suicidal thoughts for about a month. My new medication regimen- Brintellex, Seroquel, Lamictal, & Kolonopin has helped but there were/ are so many other things that contributed to restoring me to sanity.

Just to recap: My depression got really bad this year after a trauma and I was in and out of the hospital in Brooklyn and Kingston, NY with suicidal thoughts, anxiety, depression etc. No one could get my meds right. I was doing everything I knew to do to get out of it but it wasn’t happening. I had to sell my dog walking business because I couldn’t run it anymore. After several years of talking about it, my husband and I decided (backs against the wall) to move full time to upstate New York.

After 15 years of calling Brooklyn home I couldn’t handle it anymore, though it felt like I couldn’t handle life anywhere. For four months I went down to Florida to stay with my family. I was in and out of the hospital- meds, ECT, etc to no avail. When I got out of the hospital the last time it was so hard to stay in the day. I constantly thought about the past, what I’d lost or given up- my business and my home in NYC. There was also fear of the future- when would my memory come back after the ECT, when would the depression end, how/ when would I work again, how would I make a living in Catskill, NY?

The ECT and depression shattered my confidence. I was afraid to drive, sometimes afraid to leave the house. I had to force myself to get out of bed and shower. Every day I prayed, sometimes yelling at God to help me, and not understanding why he wouldn’t. But I was lucky. I was in the hospital with a lot of homeless people who had the same struggles with mental illness and alcoholism that I’ve had over the years. The only difference between me and them is that I have a supportive family and friends. I tried to be grateful for having a roof over my head, heat, and food.

Walking the dogs was the one thing that I could stay present doing. I forced myself to run with Izzy, my parent high-energy dog. I was in therapy twice a week, which was good. I finally found a meds doctor that could handle me. He said I was hard to treat because most doctors saw how upset I was and just kept throwing meds at me with all their side effects, instead of keeping me on only a few things and giving the meds time to work. I just thought if I found the right doctor and meds I’d be ok, but it was more than that. I was also in an outpatient program that was kind of bullshit, so I decided to go to noon AA meetings and walk dogs at a local shelter instead. It helped to work with the dogs and remember my trainings skills, especially helping a shy one who needed extra help.

I tried to look at things with a positive attitude even though I didn’t feel it. My dad was having heart issues and I got to spend more time with him and my mom than I had before I moved out years before. The people in AA in Florida saved me- I got sober there 19 years earlier and I still knew and kept in touch with the women who sobered me up. They were there for me again calling and praying for me, meeting up with me at meetings and dragging me to church. One woman started to call me every morning to pray with me. I found a few friends who had been through ECT and talked to them a lot for reassurance that I would get better.

Eventually, even though I wasn’t 100% better it seemed like things were starting to lift a bit so after Thanksgiving my mom and I drove back up to Catskill, NY to the small cottage we rent where my husband Dennis had moved our stuff into. Half of our stuff was in a storage unit as well. Dennis was still in Brooklyn staying at a friend’s apartment and finishing up his job. He magically got a new job in Albany in his field and was working both jobs for a few weeks until he could come upstate full time. He had only gotten his license the summer before, so he also had to buy his first car. I don’t know how he had the strength to get through it all on his own, though he did have help and support from a few friends.

After a two-day drive my mom and I arrived at the cottage. Dennis hadn’t had time to unpack much since he’d only been up a few days. We opened the door and saw all the boxes and all our stuff strewn about and I burst into tears. The feeling of loss of my old life was excruciating. I didn’t want to leave Brooklyn and give up my business but it was killing me and I was letting it. I worked 24×7 just to afford it and after years of that and dealing with the noise, crowds, gentrification, etc. it became impossible to sustain. My mom and I spent the next few days unpacking, organizing, and getting rid of stuff. I cried a lot. I still felt suicidal at times. I still wondered if I’d ever be “normal” again. I was afraid I wouldn’t and this might be the best it would get for me, crying and struggling everyday.

Dennis arrived that weekend to start our life full time upstate. It was so good to see him after four months of being apart. I still don’t know how I got so lucky to have such a wonderful, strong, and supportive husband. After a few more days, he started his new job and my mom left to go back to Florida. I felt alone and afraid. I spent time switching my pet Susie’s Pet Care web profile to upstate boarding and training. I started to get calls for boarding with the holidays coming up.

It is good to get work, but I can’t charge what I did in Brooklyn up here, so I’m not making as much which worries me even though it’s not as expensive up here. I have a therapist and psychiatrist up here from the time I spent in the hospital in Kingston over the summer, so I saw them. I started going to a lot of meetings up here and getting more connected. People started to invite me places and offer support. Sometimes, I’d go 3-4 days without crying. The suicidal thoughts started to subside somewhat. I got a small Christmas tree and decorated the front of the cottage with lights and wreaths.

cottage

It has been an agonizingly slow process but I’m starting to be able to stay in the day more. I have time, which is something I never had in Brooklyn. I took a sewing lesson and am learning to sew dog coats, collars, bandanas, and bed covers. I’m getting better at it so I decided to open an Etsy store appropriately called Dogerties. Besides boarding and training dogs I figure maybe I can make a little money sewing dog stuff too. I’d like to find a groomer I can apprentice with to learn grooming as well. Hell, maybe someday I’ll open a dog shop where there’s also grooming and training. I’ll do that when things slow down with the boarding. I’ve had 4 dogs here a lot due to the holidays, which keeps me pretty busy.

4 dogs

sewing

We’re also looking for a house up here. Our landlords want to turn our place into an Airbnb rental sometime this year. I spend a lot of time online looking at houses and doing what I call “stalking houses” where I drive by to check it out and sometimes get out and sneak around checking it out. It’s pretty amazing what you can afford up here for less than what Brooklyn costs. We want a place with a bit more space and a bit of land for the dogs to run on. I don’t want to open a kennel but I do want to keep boarding a few dogs at home. We’re also looking for a place that might have an extra apartment or building to do an Airbnb rental to make some extra money.

I’m grateful Dennis has a full-time job and I made a little money selling the business. It takes some of the pressure of earning money off. In NYC there was always a ton of pressure to run on the treadmill of constantly working and going out. I’m starting to have some acceptance around what happened and where we’re at now. Sometimes it feels like I just woke up and my old life was gone and I started this new life and was not sure I liked it. I miss my friends and sometimes I miss the city, but I think a lot of what I miss is the ego-trip I had about living in NYC and making a lot of money and going out a lot to museums, shows etc. though most of the time I just worked.

Upstate so far, and I hope it stays this way, there’s been time to enjoy the quiet life, though there is a lot going on here in the arts and music between Woodstock, Saugerties, Catskill, Kingston, and Hudson. Shit Dan Deacon and Cibo Motto played BSP in Kingston last year, I actually played their O-positive festival a few years ago. I have time to take hikes with the dogs, sew, write, do volunteer work with Saugerties Animal Shelter & Ulster County SPCA and hopefully start playing music again. People have had me over to their houses to hang out—which never happened much in the city. There’s a feeling of community I’m starting to get here that I don’t think I had in Brooklyn. Friendships were more frenzied in the city and often it was hard to make plans and actually see friends because of the unending busyness and exhaustion. I get to actually spend time with my husband instead of feeling like we’re roommates crossing paths between work and other commitments.

I don’t want to jinx it, but I feel like I lost everything, but somehow got myself and what was really important in life back. Sometimes I’m scared I’ll get sick again or that I’m somehow missing out by not being in the city. But for today, it’s noon and I have four dogs asleep on the couch as I write this in my pajamas drinking coffee. Tonight is New Years Eve and I’ll be grabbing dinner with some friends and speaking at a meeting. It’ll be low-key and I’m cool with that. Here’s to 2016—

I made it through 2015 by the skin of my teeth, but I made it, and feel like I can finally exhale.

 

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A Simple Heart- My Struggles with Insanity

No one ever really sets out to lose their mind. The hardest part is trying to piece it back together, particularly after ECT. Yeah shock therapy, yeah they still do that. It helps a lot of people but it didn’t really help me. It just made me confused and depressed instead of just depressed. I had 14 of those motherfuckers, so you can imagine it left me pretty confused afterwards. It makes you lose your memory which you’re supposed to get back over time or at least that’s what everyone tells you. I’m still waiting.

I’m not really sure what happened. I’d lived in Brooklyn fifteen years running a successful dog walking, training, and pet sitting service, which I loved. But managing people as it grew was a constant source of stress. As you can imagine the turnover rate is pretty high and people drawn to the profession aren’t always the most responsible. I had one guy lose a whole set of keys twice and then quit and then try to claim unemployment so I’m getting audited by the department of labor which is a nightmare of paperwork.

I was (am) happily married, we had an apartment in a nice neighborhood, Park Slope, until they built the fucking Barclay Center which totally ruined things. They started throwing up high rises left and right and every rich douche from Manhattan started moving in. It became crowded, expensive, and unbearable. I started wearing earplugs just to leave the apartment, sometimes in the apartment along with the fucking white noise machine so you can attempt to sleep through neighbors and sirens and the like.

So we moved to Clinton Hill, a little quieter neighborhood which it turned out was kind of a transportation nightmare with the old neighborhood and work. The G train isn’t the best line to be on. And when you work from home and your business is based in another neighborhood, and parking subway are pretty much ridiculous what do you do? If you are me you have a nervous breakdown apparently.

It wasn’t just that, it was like life was this giant game of Jenga and the pieces kept getting pulled out until the whole thing just fucking toppled. You’ll have to excuse my use of the F-word, I’m hoping at some point this whole thing becomes a spiritual experience but right now it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever been through and there is no other word to adequately express myself.

So one of the biggest Jenga pieces happened that February. We had been renting a cottage upstate a few hours to get away near Saugerties and Woodstock. We paid for it by bringing dogs up for a country get away. We’d sometimes throw 5 dogs in the car and take them up. It was ridiculous. Some of my happiest memories (that I can remember) were there. The dogs loved it and we did too, the simplicity, the nature, the small town.

One time we went to the movies in Saugerties and we got their 30 minutes early to make sure we could get seats like you do in the city. The theater wasn’t even open yet. Turns out they don’t open until like ten minutes before the movie starts because unlike the city doing a normal activity isn’t a shit show you have to plan for as if you’re going to battle. After the movies we’d go get pie at the local diner or visit our friend Rae who runs a kick as chocolate shop/ café that she lets us bring our dog into. We’d take the dogs on nature hikes and send pictures to their owners who were ecstatic because their dogs seemed so joyful in nature.

The cottage we rented from a really great artistic couple of NYC ex-pats who lived in a bigger house on the property. The cottage was small but the land was big, we had a few fenced in areas but were also surrounded but a hill, woods, and a creek. We tested the dogs on a long line always to make sure they would stay close and listed if we let them off leash. They’d swim in the creek chase each other around and basically have a blast. The cottage this place was our safe place our sanctuary from the cares of NYC until February 2015.

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Norman king of the creek

Norman running free Norman creek

We took my dog, Phoebe, and another terrier mix Norman upstate for the weekend. Norman had been up several times and listened really well so we had no reason to not let him off leash. Phoebe is a smart somewhat mischievous dog who kept testing the boundaries of how far she could go from us. She particularly liked going up the hill on one side of the property to try to find deer poop to roll in which was it’s own joy to deal with. She took off that day up the hill and Norman followed her. We followed them immediately not liking any of the dogs to be out of eyesight. We kept calling for Norman. Phoebe finally came back without him and I knew then something was wrong. I heard a hawk screech above us. I got in my car and started driving up the road to look for him to see if he’d just gotten lost or something. Dennis kept searching the woods. I rounded the corner and there he was dead on the side of the road. Some motherfucker had hit him and didn’t even stop. I screamed and burst into tears. I put him into the car and drove back to the house honking the horn and yelling for Dennis.

Harry and Catherine our landlords came out to see what all the commotion was I was sobbing so hard there was snot running down my face. I could barely speak. I love animals more than people because they have a simple heart unlike people who always have their hearts covered and cloaked by the things they’ve had to live through. There’s none of that with dogs. They just love you. I called Norman’s owners hysterical they couldn’t have been more understanding of the accident. I asked if they wanted me to bring him back to the city or bury him up there. They told me to bury him up there. Harry got a shovel and helped us dig a hole. I wrapped Norman in my favorite Walt Whitman T Shirt and said some prayers. I can’t stop blaming myself.

I was in shock, this couldn’t have happened in our one safe place to one of the dogs I had loved and cared for for years. But it did happen. I haven’t been the same since. If you told me I would lose my mind over a dog dying I would’ve told you to fuck off. I’m from Brooklyn I can handle that. But like dogs I have a gentle heart as much as I try to act tough.

The depression started soon after. First I didn’t want to go up to the cottage, then I didn’t want to be in the city. I started having trouble getting out of bed, leaving the house, basically functioning and showing up for life. Then the suicidal thoughts started coming. I’ve been on meds and in therapy most of my adult life for depression but it had never been like this, it had always been manageable. The hospitalizations started and endless series of doctors in the city and upstate. The darkness came and went but was always there. My mom came up and stayed with me for a while upstate since Dennis was working in the city. I put one of my trusted employees in charge of things for the most part and attended about a month long partial hospitalization program. That helped and the people of Kingston/ Benedictine hospital are very kind.

I decided I couldn’t go back to the city. And even got a receptionist job at the local SPCA. I decided to sell my business. I worked out a deal with another dog walking company I knew. But then after a few weeks I started to feel better and I also started to get scared. How could I let go of the business I had worked so hard to build for a part time job in a city my husband wasn’t even in yet. I went back to Brooklyn and that’s when it got really bad. I asked for the business back and the buyer obliged but I couldn’t run in I could barely function yet again. So I wound up selling it to her again for a smaller percentage. I didn’t feel like I had a choice I was painted into a corner and didn’t exactly have the time or energy or sanity to go looking for another buyer who would keep my employees and customers in tact and happy.

I went back upstate, my mom came back. They put me in the hospital again. They changed my meds again. Nothing but darkness, an empty hole where I used to be able to feel things. I kept asking my mom to kill me. We didn’t know what to do so I drove back to Florida with her. We were scared if she left me alone up there I’d try to kill myself.

A day after we got to Florida they put me back in hospital. Psyche wards are just not a place you ever want to be more on that later. I can’t remember much about that hospitalization because that’s where they gave me ECT. They would put me under 3 times a week and shock me. I’d wake up confused, but I guess they thought I was getting better because they kept doing it. Then they released me on like six different medicines I needed a chart to keep track of. They enrolled me in a Partial Hospitalization Program. On the third day I told them I was having suicidal thought and they kicked me out. They said I had to go back to the emergency room. Fuck that the first time I waited 28 hours to get help there and so far I was still fucked up. They referred me to a shrink who referred me to Wakiva another behavioral treatment hospital.

At this point I had what I know now is called Akathisia which is an inability to stop moving. I was pacing, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t sit still. Apparently, this was a side effect from all the medicines I was on. They admitted me at Wachiva to a ward where a woman wouldn’t stop screaming cuss words all day and night which I can tell you doesn’t do a whole lot for your depression. They took me off all the meds then called me bipolar (which no one ever had before) and put me on lithium. I thought it was working cause the shaking and pacing stopped so they discharged me. But then seven nights went by without me being able to sleep. I stayed up all night pacing. (Add More about hospital homeless and starting an AA meeting)

This time they put me in the hospital at River Point (which is nowhere near a river I can assure you). There they took me off lithium and put me on prozac. They eventually, discharged me to their Partial Hospitalization program even though I kept asking if they thought I was ready because I was still crying and having suicidal thoughts. They told me to let the meds kick in. They didn’t so the new doctor I started seeing put me on Brintellex. Which mad me nauseous and gave me diarrhea. I’ve been on it 3 weeks, with lamictal, and kolonopin. I had a good week when I was going down on the prozac and up on the Brintellex but then he tool me off the Prozac. Suicidal thoughts again.

Meanwhile my husband Dennis up in NY and I guess I (don’t remember) decided to sell our apartment and move upstate. He got a job and moved everything. Himself with the help of some of our friends. I want to go back but I have to get stable enough. I had a dream the other night that I hung myself at the cottage which was enough to scare the shit out of me. I don’t know what to do at this point. I’m sleeping on my parents couch and going to partial. I’m scared sometimes to leave the house or drive but I’m making myself.

I’m in AA for 18 years so I go to meetings and call people. I do step work. I’m trying to change my belief in God to something more positive working the second step “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity” but I’m so fucking mad at God right now. All I’ve done for the past 18 years of my sobriety is try to help other people get sober, do service work, even in my job I just wanted to help people and when I really, really need and am begging God for help it feels like he’s nowhere to be found. I suppose he’s in the people who have helped keep me alive until now. But I just keep begging for this depression to lift. I want what’s left of my life back. I miss my husband. I’ve been in Florida for four months trying to get well. My poor fucking parents. They are saints of patience. I just keeping praying for God to heal me. There are days I feel like I can’t go on but I can’t just kill myself. It would hurt too many people, and I know this is just my diseased mind.

NYC pissed me off a lot but I don’t know if I was ready to leave my business, apartment, and friends. Not in this way. It didn’t feel like much of a choice. It seemed like survival. Sometimes, I wish I could’ve stayed there and gotten the help I needed and gotten through it. Maybe I could have but that isn’t what happened. When I get well I don’t know what I’m going to do in rural NY. I suppose I can do some pet sitting, I want to learn dog grooming, and I can still train dogs. That part of my memory seems to be coming back. I don’t know when this will lift. I’m hanging on by a thread, hopefully someday I’ll be able to help someone else with this experience. If I make it through. I’m a goddamn warrior though, I’m not going down with out a fight.

normanface

Here’s a poem I wrote for Norman and his folks

Pay Attention!
for Norman

You had so much to say when I met you barking, Look a dog!
A pigeon!
Look a lady smiling!

Would you look?!
Do you see?!
Barreling breathlessly along with an occasional hop Your short legs struggling to keep up
With your riotous exuberance for every creature Under the wide open sky. Shiny under-bite smile Electric shock of white hair and brown eyes beg Pay attention!
Do you see that hawk over the hill?!
River rock juts up and out, a perfect perch
for you to survey all of God’s creation.
Pay attention!
Don’t worry, just run through green fields
Chase me or I’ll chase you!
Pay Attention!
Remember to play, and jump, and tease despite The cold November freeze and chest aching.
Cold has come and grey has settled into winter.
I will always remember what you taught me
to delight in the trees and wonder at the flowers, insects buzzing. The Spring must come again
with new life blooming, and we will pay attention.

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Leroy Found a Home!

leroy smiling

Thank you all for your support, I just wanted to update everyone that Leroy has found a forever home! After posting the blog, we were contacted by a few interested people. Leroy went on some “dates” with potential adopters and they were all really kind people. We felt the best match was with some of my dog walking clients, Abby & Mike, who already have 10-year-old female shepherd mix named Max.

Abby, Mike, Max, & Leroy

Abby, Mike, Max, & Leroy

Abby & Mike live on the 2nd floor of an elevator building in Prospect Heights. I felt they understood the needs and responsibilities an older dog can present. Stairs are an issue for senior dogs, especial large ones that can’t be carried so their living situation is ideal. It is also wonderful that Max who is sometimes anxious will now have a calm companion dog her own age. They can nap & chew on squeaky toys together and enjoy their retirement. Abby & Mike promise to spoil the hell out of both of them.

Our dog Phoebe begging for bagels with Leroy

Our dog Phoebe begging for bagels with Leroy

My husband and I are sad to see Leroy go as he’s become a goofy part of our family but our cat and dog couldn’t be happier to their house and our attention back on them. I’m grateful I’ll still get to walk and visit Leroy since he’s so close by.

If anyone is still interested in adopting a pit mix, I do know a wonderful female named Loretta who is being fostered by a friend of mine. She’s a bit younger and loves to play fetch, snuggle, and is great with other dogs. I’ve posted her info below.

LorettaFlier

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Filed under Brooklyn, dog training, Dogs

Sweet Found Dog Needs a Good Home!

On Monday 8/4/2014 I took my dog, Phoebe, up to Fort Greene Park for off leash hours around 8:30am. When I arrived at the park, I saw my friend Anna Holmes sitting by a large brindle pit bull mix who was tied by a thin yellow rope to the bench. I asked what was going on and she said she and others had been sitting with him since 6:30am that morning. People brought him water and food and someone went to get an old collar to put on him so the rope wouldn’t hurt his neck. He was panting and nervous but friendly. He had a cough and was pretty dirty, with lots of loose shed hair on his smooth coat. Anna Holmes was calling the no kill shelters to see if they could take him but none opened until 11am. She said she’d take him there in a car service. I didn’t have to start work until 1130 so I offered to take them in my car.

Leroy en route to vet on his first day.

Leroy en route to vet on his first day.

We took him to Sean Casey but they had 30 pit mixes they were trying to adopt out already and couldn’t take him. They scanned him for a microchip but of course he didn’t have one. We took him to the vet to get him checked out and get medicine for his cough. I had to run to work for a while so Anna Holmes stayed with him. She wanted to take him home after but her dog T-bone doesn’t do well with intact male dogs.

photo 2-2

I called my husband to see if the dog could come to our house for a few days until we could figure out what to do with him. If the dog wound up at a kill shelter he would certainly be put down due to his breed, the cough, and the fact that he was probably between 9-10 years old. My husband agreed that we could bring him home temporarily. I called one of my dog walking clients who has large dogs and asked to borrow his crate. He agreed so I ran by to pick it up en route to get Anna Holmes and the dog we were now calling “Leroy.”

panting

Leroy could’ve been scared and aggressive towards me, Anna Holmes, the vet, or any of the people or dogs we’d encountered that morning but he was sweet and goofy with all of us. He was probably nicer than my little terrier Phoebe who sometimes meets strange dogs and people showing her teeth or growling if they are too forward with her.

walking

It’s been a week and a half and Leroy is still at my house. Lots of people volunteered to help out with vet bills but no one could take him to their house. We have a few leads on homes but because of his possible kennel cough we’re waiting to introduce him in case he’s contagious. We plan on getting him neutered as soon as his lungs have healed from the cough and he can handle anesthesia.

leroy napping

Leroy mostly wants to lie around and be with people and dogs. He’s housebroken and loves squeaky toys. In fact we got him a few and now he tries to carry them both around in his mouth, which is ridiculous. He’s a bit dopey, sees his reflection and thinks it’s another dog to say hello to. We did a full senior panel on him at the vet and he’s parasite & heartworm free. His cough is starting to get better and I’m working on training him the basics. He has a lot of calluses on his arms so the vet thought he might have laid on concrete a lot. We gave him a bed but he mostly lies on the floor.

He gets along well with my dog despite her sulking about not being the center of attention. Phoebe occasionally growls at him when he crowds her space and he just walks away apologetically like he can’t help that he’s a big oaf. I actually used him in a training session with a small reactive (barky) dog, and he handled it beautifully. He simply moved away from the dog and turned away so we could work with him. He didn’t get nasty back at all.

toys

I wonder often what his story is, someone must have cared for him at one point because he’s so friendly and he’s a little overweight. Perhaps his owner died and the family or neighbors watching him couldn’t afford to care for him.

We are hoping someone will want to adopt this sweet old timer. He doesn’t need much just a few walks a day and some squeaky toys. He’s so mellow that he’d be an easy dog to care for. We can’t keep him due to our building’s pet policy. Please pass this post along to anyone who might be able to foster or adopt him. Leroy and I greatly appreciate it. Anyone interested in helping please contact me, Susie DeFord at Susie’s Pet Care 718-415-7880 susiespetcare<AT>gmail.com

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Filed under Brooklyn, dog training, Dogs

Hudson Valley Dog Boarding

Dennis with Phoebe, Marco, Penny, Charley

Dennis with Phoebe, Marco, Penny, Charley

Since November 2012, we’ve been bringing dogs up to our cottage near the Catskills on weekends and occasionally weekdays depending on our availability/ability to get away! Here are some highlights!

3 stooges

Mo, Qwerty, and Phoebe walk by the lake

country

Hike at Falling Waters on the Hudson River Susie with Penny, Zeke, Phoebe

field

Qwerty & Mo enjoying the back yard

goob comet

Comet & Phoebe frolicking

mo & qwerty creek

Mo & Qwerty in the Kaaterskill Creek behind our cottage

pile on

Christmas weekend pile on Susie Phoebe, Oscar, Willis, Sampson

Falling waters hike

Hike at Falling Waters with Zeke, Penny, Phoebe

For more fun photos please check our facebook page!

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Filed under Brooklyn, dog training, Dogs, Upstate