Tag Archives: Wilson

Seven Quick Takes Friday


  1. It’s been a tough week. I surrendered our dog, Wilson, to Toronto Animal Services yesterday after a biting incident earlier this summer. He’s a terrier mix, with a lot of Jack Russell in him, and he charged and bit a letter carrier after he got off-leash. It was a horrible accident (although the bite was a minor injury), but I realized that his behaviour was too unpredictable for us to manage. Every visitor to our house was a stress. We have no yard at our current home, unlike when we adopted him in Georgia, and even with 3-4 walks a day, we were unable to provide him with sufficient opportunities to burn off energy. I’ve been weepy all week, and broke down at the shelter when I took him in. My greatest hope is that they can find a home for him where he will be able to be the dog that he is. I can’t really say any more.
  2. I got my hair cut after my trip to Animal Services yesterday. It felt kind of like mourning, but at the same time a fresh start. It’s shoulder length and layered a bit. And I feel so silly writing about it now.
  3. Last night, we attended the Season Opener for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, a wonderful program including Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, and a commission from Toronto Composer Larysa Kezmenko called Behold the Night, based on a Midsummer’s Night Dream. The second half was William Walton’s Henry V: A Shakespeare Scenario featuring actor Christopher Plummer (who also arranged this work) reciting parts of the play from memory. Walton scored Larurence Olivier’s film Henry V, from which this work is derived. It was spectacular, and great finish to what had been a very sad day. The evening was capped by the TSO’s after party featuring the Heavyweights Brass Band in the lobby of Roy Thomson Hall.
  4. Z and I head to Orlando on Sunday where he is attending a conference and I will take five days to relax in the sun. I was able to score a very cheap flight and there’s no upcharge for me to stay at the (very nice) hotel hosting the conference.
  5. Michael auditioned for and was accepted into the Hannaford Youth Band and Jazz.fm Youth Big Band, both of which he played in last year. These ensembles are wonderful ways for him to get experience performing repertoire on both the tube (Hannaford) and bass trombone (Jazz.fm) and I’m pleased that he’ll be playing with them again this year.
  6. While we were downtown yesterday, we picked up tickets for Noel Coward’s Private Lives, now in previews at the Royal Alexandra. Starring Paul Gross and Kim Cattrall, it’s been getting a lot of positive buzz. Mirvish is also bringing War Horse to Toronto in the new year and I’m looking forward to that as well. 
  7. Friends from our parish were featured on the front page of the Star this week. John and Kathleen Rudolph are both professional musicians.  John is Principal Percussionist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Kathleen teaches flute at the Glenn Gould School and University of Western Ontario. Kathleen and I are altos in the parish choir, and Kathleen often fills in on the organ. Their daughter, Theresa, was just hired by the TSO, their first parent-child pair. The piece in The Star is lovely and worth a read.

More Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary.

Seven Quick Takes Friday


I had our second meeting with a financial planner today to do the data dump.  I came armed with all our financial statements and info, wills, Powers of Attorney, and they got it all down.  I have a few action items to get back to her with, but it feels great just to get started.  We'll meet again in four weeks to see what we need to do to prepare for retirement.  Someday.


Yesterday was Michael's 15th birthday.  We'll have a family party next weekend, and a dinner for him with just Z and I tomorrow.  He wanted to go to karate last night as he hadn't been much this week, so we just gave him his gifts and a big hug, and we''ll go out for Dim Sum (his choice) tomorrow.  We gave him a clock radio that docks his ipod and a memory foam pillow…he was pretty happy about both things!


He has a girlfriend.  His first one.  I can't really say more, but it's just sweet.


Tonight, Z and I are going to see David Clayton-Thomas (of Blood, Sweat and Tears fame) with the TSO at Massey Hall.  Should be a great show! 


Tomorrow evening, after the 4:30 mass, our parish's Catholic Women's League is hosting a wine and cheese reception for married couples in the parish.  I suggested this idea, as our former parish in Atlanta did it every year, and we've had some great feedback from people in their RSVPs.  Right after mass, the priests will bless each couple individually, and then everyone who wants to can head downstairs to our parish hall for a chance to mingle.  I'm looking forward to meeting some new people!


Monday is Family Day here in Ontario and school kids, provincial employees, and some others have the day off.  Z still has to work since he works for a private company, but I'm having two friends from university days over for lunch and some catching up.  If Z is free for dinner, the four of us will go out somewhere, as he knows them as well.  Should be a nice afternoon for some girl talk!


I broke down and had Wilson's teeth cleaned by the vet yesterday.  I vow to give him one raw bone each weekend to try to keep his teeth clean for more than a year.  Even with the National Pet Dental Health Month, I don't really want to spend hundreds of dollars each year on his teeth.  If we can extend the cleaning by a year, that effectively cuts his dental bill in half, so I'm hoping this plan will work.

The miracle in my dog’s mouth


The annual trip to the vet last month resulted in two things:  he’d gained a little weight and needed his teeth cleaned.

On the weight side, we’d changed his feeding routine a few months ago and we simply needed to cut back a little on his morning meal (from 2/3 to 1/2 cup of kibble).  He’s fed twice a day, gets tiny treats, and virtually no table scraps (except what he hoovers up off the kitchen floor), so the solution was easy.

On the teeth front, I was not surprised.  Terriers are known to have teeth that attract plaque.  He had teeth cleaning a year ago and the cost was outrageous:  hundreds of dollars, the majority of which was for blood work and anesthesia.  I love my dog, and want him to keep his teeth, but really.  It was outrageous.

I popped into my local Global Pet Foods where we get his food and supplies, and chatted with Rosemary, one of the owners.  I told her of my teeth angst and she proposed a solution (actually, one of two, but I’ll focus on the first.)   She suggested we give him raw bones to chew on once in a while. She explained that there is both a mechanical and biological benefit to this.  Gnawing on the bones provides a physical scaling of the teeth, particularly as they try to get the marrow out of the centre of the bone.  There are also enzymes in the bones that work to improve the flora of the mouth and prevent tartar from building up.  They sell frozen organic marrow bones and it’s important to get the right size for the dog.  I bought a bag of bones and have been giving him a couple per week to chew on.

A few days ago, I looked at his teeth and really didn’t see much improvement,  Yesterday, he spent hours chewing on a large bone, and was really scraping out the centre.  This morning when I looked at his teeth, there was NO brown buildup on his large incisors (canines?), and much less on his smaller teeth.  Unbelieveable!  And the extra bonus is that he enjoys the bones and they really occupy him for an extended period of time.  The only downside is that he needs to be supervised so that he doesn’t hide the bone somewhere in the house. He has already done this a couple of times and I had to follow him around for a while to figure out where he’d put it.  I really didn’t want a smelly raw bone to turn up under my pillow or behind the sofa!

I’ll be a regular bone customer!

The story of a small dog and his spe-shul holiday weekend.


I spent the aftenoon cleaning up dog puke after Wilson got into a bag of Easter chocolate.  Luckily, he vomited so copiously that a vet call wasn’t necessary.  He was doing, all on his own, what the vet would have induced.  Unfortunately, he seemed to prefer carpets and a hard-to-reach-corner under Alex’s bed.  

All is back to normal now.  

Easter celebration details to follow.  I need to get some sleep after the four-liturgies-in-four-days choir marathon that was the weekend!  

Up early tomorrow to take Alex to the movie set.

My Big Fat Middle Eastern Family…

…or a portion of it. 

We hosted family from across the Atlantic last week! 

Z’s brother, his wife, and 13 yo son visited us from France.  They arrived on Saturday, BIL left on Tuesday for meetings in Salt Lake City, and returned late Thursday.  They all returned to France on Saturday.  

We had fun!  Z took them to Niagara Falls and Niagara on the Lake on Sunday, we all went to the Ontario Science Centre to see the Sultans of Science exhibit on Monday (Z took the day off), on Tuesday I took them out to some factory outlets west of the city before taking BIL to the airport.  On Wednesday, I shuttled SIL and nephew to the subway so that they could visit the ROM and Eaton Centre.  Thursday, they hung with me and we did some errands on foot, and cooked together.  On Friday, BIL was back in town and they headed down to the CN tower and some sightseeing downtown.
Saturday morning, Z headed out to the Patisserie Royale and picked up some Cheese Knefeh for breakfast and we watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding, a story so applicable to our family situation (substitute Middle Eastern for Greek) that we were all roaring, even though Z and I have seen it before.

It was six straight days of cooking for a crowd, at least, a bigger group than normal.  It meant more planning and real meals every night, not just pasta, jarred sauce, and steamed veggies, my low-energy-day option.  It went something like this:

Saturday:  marinated flank steak with fixing for tacos, fruit crumble
Sunday:  buffet dinner for 14 with PW’s Chicken Spaghetti and lots of sides and finger foods.
Monday:  steelhead trout, mashed potatoes, asparagus, leftover ice cream cake
Tuesday:  rotini, tomato, and ground beef casserole, broccolli
Wednesday:  Chicken Enchiladas, salad
Thursday:  Pork tenderloin in a creamy/chutney/white wine sauce, mashed potatoes, green beans
Friday:  Dinner out!  Sushi and another ice cream cake at home.

The cooking was fine.  The most draining part of the week for me was that my SIL and nephew don’t speak very much English so I spoke French for a good part of the week, particularly when Z was at work and BIL was away.  I really enjoyed their company, but my brain was just fried at the end of each day!  I’m fine with simple stuff, but to have an intimate conversation with family members that you don’t see that often just stretched my abilities.  Plus they have something of an accent/speaking style (they are from Brittany) that I found a little difficult to follow at times, so I was constantly asking them to repeat themselves.

They saw Toronto on all it’s winter states.  When they arrived, there was very little snow and it was quite mild.  Later in the week, we got snow, it got colder, and they experienced a different side of our climate.   As they were leaving Saturday afternoon, the snow started in earnest and their flight was delayed for de-icing.  

We miss them all.  

Oh, and my SIL and nephew were very taken with our dog, Wilson, playing with him endlessly.   He’s been quite pooped since they left, but he had a great time!


Who’re you gonna call?

Bark Busters!

Really. I can’t believe that after one three-hour training session, there have been huge changes in our dear Wilson and his level of anxiety (read, barking).

The trainer came over Tuesday afternoon for our first session. The teaching (of me) part was short because their philosophy and methods are very close to that of Cesar Millan aka The Dog Whisperer, and I have watched pretty much all his shows. So I get the pack thing, the dog psychology stuff, and the notion of teaching by voice and action, not treats or physical discipline.

We started by working on getting Wilson to understand that he needs to be submissive to me. Then we dealt with knocking at the door and the doorbell. We did some outside work on walking and dealing with other animals he meets outside (lotsa work left to do here….Jana the trainer will bring one of her dogs in the future to help here). Then we did “distance training” which is teaching him to stay by my side even when he is distracted by things.

She recommended that we get a crate for him to use as a den when he wants to relax, so we picked one up yesterday and are just starting to get him interested in using it. That will take a while, but we’re not needing to potty train or anything…it’s more for his comfort and relaxation.

I have some practice stuff to do at home, and we’ll do another training session with Jana in a few weeks. But it’s freakin’ unbelieveable how much of a difference this has made so far.

Loose ends are getting gathered.

Many things are finally coming together.

  • My new laptop arrived yesterday and I’ve transferred most of my data over from my old one. It’s a lovely thing, with green satin lid, large glossy screen, and Windows Vista which doesn’t seem as bad as all the reports and, frankly, is not that much different from XP, at least in terms of the interface.
    I can’t find my CD copy of Quicken though. I purchased it last summer when we arrived in Toronto and were living in the condo. I simply cannot lay my hands on it and I need it to transfer all our financial files to my new machine. I will do a detailed scour of the house today to try to locate it.
  • I have been in touch with a behavioural therapist/trainer for Wilson. He’s a doll in many ways, but he’s got a lot of anxiety and is dangerously prey driven. That includes people, other dogs, small animals, and anything that deigns to come onto our property. Jana will come out Tuesday afternoon for 4 hours of training and we’ll see how it goes. She’s with Bark Busters and the organization has been recommended to us by multiple people. I just need to be able to have a plumber over without Wilson barking his head off for two hours.
  • My car is scheduled for repair starting on Monday. The total (including rental) is about $1300….I’ve learned not to be surprised at how expensive it is to have a few scratches and dents taken out of a car. But that’s why we have insurance. Because I wasn’t at fault and got to the car to the Collision Reporting Centre within 24 hours, I don’t even have to pay the deductible.
  • I’m back on track with my cleaning schedule. I’ve flipped between Flylady and the Motivated Moms planner, and am on the latter these days. I like her system because it’s slow and steady. A little bit every day and pretty soon the house is looking fine.
  • Alex was all in a tizzy because he is behind in his community service hours for school, specifically for Religion class. He is a peer tutor for math and science but he hasn’t had much business so doesn’t have the requisite 20 hours. I have lined him up some tutoring with one of his cousins who’s in Grade 9 and having trouble with math, and he’ll start that tomorrow. He and his father are also going to make some casseroles as part of a ministry that our parish has, making meals for the Good Shepherd Centre. The parish provides the recipe and large aluminum foil casserole pans. Parish members make the casseroles and then drop them into the freezer at the parish on an on-going basis.

Wilson goes to the vet


Wilson was due for his annual check up and vaccines so we made an appointment with an animal hospital that’s a 20 minute walk from home. His previous animal hospital in Georgia was an all-female operation that we really enjoyed. We brought his records to the appointment, along with his microchip info.

The new place is bright and airy, newly renovated. They’ve been in business for a long time and are one of only 7% of Canadian animal hospitals certified by the American Animal Hospital Association (for the 55th year!) The staff were excellent and the vet we saw was very kind. Wilson has some behavioural issues and I got some counselling for those, as well as some suggestions for collars (ones that give a whiff of citronella or just plain air when he barks) and pharmaceuticals (sedatives to use, for example, when we’re having people over and he needs to mellow out a bit.) We’ll give these options some thought.

The vet found him to be very compliant, and was able to cut his nails without any problem. (That’s apparently one of his tricks to see how easy it would be to deal with behavioral issues.) His view is that with some desensitization and a lot of tummy rubs, we can help Wilson learn how to relax in situations that are stressful to him. We’ll see.

Wilson’s in great health, other than some tartar build-up on his teeth, so he’s booked for descaling in a week. Unfortunately, this requires a general anaesthetic which, frankly, stresses ME out. We want Wilson to keep all the brain cells he’s got! But we also don’t want him to lose his teeth.

There are a couple of differences here in Ontario: we don’t give the monthly heartworm meds in the winter as there are no mosquitoes to spread the disease from November to the spring. Also, the vaccines are on a different cycle. Previously, we got everything, every year. Here, some are given every 3 years (Distemper, Hepatitis, Adenovirus, Parvovirus), some every 2 (rabies), and some annually (Leptospirosis and Bordatella). The three year cycle ones are in one shot, so he got a total of 4 shots today. But next year, he’ll only need one.