Time For a May Update!

So it’s time for an update, it’s been a couple of weeks and I currently have a D on my foot, which means I’m stuck.

Send help and chocolate!

But, seriously, spring is … erm … springing. We have blossom and my windows are open/the Sonos are on half-pelt. Life’s okay.

My foot is going to sleep. Crap.

But, yeah, I survived London and Easter. S’all good. My mood has been relatively stable which is nice, though my anxiety remains through the roof. Not so good but it’s a work in progress. Shall we do this through the medium of bullet points, just for brevity?

 Okay then:

  • London was awesome. I really enjoyed it. I’m still paying it off but it was worth it.
  • Hidden Figures is even more awesome in the cinema. Bonus for having an actual American with me who can explain the whole political mess around it and the Space Race. Also, it makes me want to go back to my Space Race on an alien planet novella.
  • I am writing. My current focus is still on the Atridia books, specifically on a short story I’m calling “Bindings, Seen and Not” about a neutral gender bookbinder living in a city under state-sanctioned non-binary gender oppression.
  • The Handmaid’s Tale was amazing … and severely triggering. I want to watch the rest of it (I think there are like ten episodes). I’m not sure I’ll be able to though, it’s horrifically foretelling but incredibly relevant. I know a lot of people are noping out purely because of anxiety issues with the content.
  • In election news, I’m noping out. Due to a bureaucratic cock-up relating to the Great Name Change, I’ve been kicked off the electoral roll and won’t be back on it time for the local election. I’m very angry about this but also glad I caught it as I do want to vote in the general election next month. I just don’t want to have to listen to the election kerfuffle until then. Aside: I know it’s a cock-up because they have ZERO records of me under Old Name either and I’ve lived here for a decade and voted, both in person and postal. They also have no problems sending me Council Tax bills in my new name. It’s a work in progress but I don’t expect it to be resolved in time to vote locally (I have re-registered to vote and intend to give someone at Electoral a serious talking to about the legalities of this, I’m registered as a head of household and am not dependent of anyone else so there’s no reason for me to have been removed).
  • There’s no ETA on the guide dog front either. Sigh. The cats are picking up the slack though. Bramble and Gismo hugs are also helping.
  • I got an update on Uni’s progress and she’s doing so well. She’s happy and has a beach. That’s all I can ask for.
  • My mood has been yoyoing but nothing too hard-core though I managed to really trigger myself last weekend. It was unpleasant. Oh and I’ve been obsessing again, mainly on buying things, Field Notes and food. Oh and Midori, of course. But I’m starting to argue out reasons why I should wait (example: my phone is due an upgrade but, instead, I’m going to go sim-only for a few months/til the end of the year as it’s cheaper).
  • Money-wise, I sat down and worked out my income and did a spreadsheet. I’ve worked out a rough, date by date, payment plan and should be debt free just after my birthday. I even budgeted in a new Limitless card and my rent. 2018 should start out with a nice, clean, slate. If I can restrain myself and focus on the Big Picture.
  • At some point, I’m going to write that book on bipolar or, at least, how to manage things like money while dealing with the mood swings.
  • I’ve decided to teach myself bookbinding (I started learning it a couple of years ago), thanks to the help of YouTube. Actually, I’ve been a lot more crafty of late; mostly laminating stuff and experimenting with little things like making postcard-sized pictures for my fridge (mostly of upcoming movie posters and inspirational quotes) or laminating stuff for friends. I am now the proud owner of an awl, a craft knife, cutting map, guillotine and haven’t yet done myself any serious damage. Go me. My task for this week is to learn to saddle stitch and learn how to bind my own notebooks for my wallet (there’s more variety in terms of paper and cover colour). Plus it keeps my brain quiet which is the biggest thing.

  • I cancelled my gym membership. The pressure of attendance (I’m not an evening person, especially not when I ‘have’ to do something I don’t want to do) and my continuing plantar fasciitis had been driving me nuts. Said PF was getting better, then I went to London. Sigh. On the upside, I’m not missing the place and much prefer walking around Eaton Park with my guide dog owner friends and their hounds.
  • I’m eating better food. Simple meals which are easy to cook and fast (or involve the minimum amount of prep). This week it’s garlic and bacon pasta with chorizo and lots of herbs. Healthy and tasty.
  • My faux Midori wallet is working beautifully, as is the free diary I got from JP Books (though it runs out in September and I kinda want a dated one. Dates are hard.). I’ve been playing with the inserts and now have a zipper pouch, a kraft folder and a notebook inside each other on the first string and my diary and expenses ledger held together with a band on the second. It works perfectly. Oh, I added a Neo Queen Serenity tiara charm onto the string and it sits beautifully on my yen coin.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 is freaking awesome. End of. I didn’t look at my watch once AND I’m going back tomorrow.
  • I’m looking forward to so much TV and so many movies. I have tickets to Alien: Covenant and Wonder Woman already. I’m actually going to the cinema physically and ordering in bulb because the Odeon site only lets me book two performances ahead online (in person I can book loads). It’s annoying and cramping my social life.
  • Doctor Who is actually kinda good this season.
  • American Gods starts tomorrow. YAY!!!!
  • I’m managed to keep on top of household stuff, though I’m yet to put my washing away. Small steps, Asha, small steps.
  • I’m back in therapy and it’s helping. Reddit is helping more in terms of a support group which is just odd but so welcome. Ditto my very closest chosen family.
  • Ramen is still awesome.
  • I finally got my hands on a Lindt 1kg Gold Bunny in the post-Easter sales and I don’t regret it. Not for one second. 😀
  • We are Groot, people!
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The Days of Quiet and Reflection

The weather is oddly mild for December, indeed I currently have the windows open and the heating off while my dryer does its thing. The sun is bright and it feels about as far from winter as we can get.

I’m having a glorious couple of days; yesterday I watched Doctor Who all day and today I’m beginning the annual Game of Thrones rewatch. It’s a time of peace, quiet and reflection. Oh and coffee, alcohol and going through my packed fridge full of food. It feels weird without a dog in the house though, especially as I missed my Christmas Day walk with Uni. D came with me as far as the main road and then whined from the safety of the B and B’s garden while I went into the garage to get myself a coffee.

And by ‘whined’ I mean yowled so loudly the people filling up their cars could hear him and were probably wondering what was being disembowelled.

Christmas Eve involved Norwich and it was nice, drinking coffees, catching up with other GDOs and having far too many mochas. Norwich was actually quiet, though all the restaurants were packed. It was nice having the morning to just read stuff on the internet and run into old friends I’ve not seen in ages (and who have also defected to Nero’s). D is once again trying to get on Paul’s good side (which is easy) by purring and using him as a human shield so Gismo doesn’t eat him. Gissy won’t but D doesn’t know that so, you know, there.

I ordered myself a second Sonos:1 as two will cover my entire flat. The sound is gorgeous, the apps are a little more annoying but there are work arounds and this is for another post. Even Paul wants one now he’s seen how powerful this little speaker is. I just like the depth of the sound and the ability to play the same song in multiple rooms so it feels like I’m floating in music.

Plus it’s made me love listening to the radio again.

I don’t feel much like writing and I’m trying to listen to that. I had one story I wanted to finish for an anthology call but it’s just not going to happen. The angle is wrong and four days isn’t enough time right now.

I don’t like it but it’s okay. I’m supposed to be taking some time off, right?

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Asha’s Adventures in Getting a Guide Dog: The Basics

This is how much a Guide Dog will cost me. Personally.
This is how much a Guide Dog will cost me. Personally.

Part of dealing with losing Uni is trying to focus on the future. Because if I don’t I’ll just cry again and that’ll get none of us anywhere. Plus the future sustains me.

Also, right now, I have one of these and Ceri is shit at guiding me anywhere:

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The point is somewhere, out there, is Replacement Guide Dog and I’m going to meet her one day soon. That instantly makes it real; she’ll be going through her final training, waiting for me. I have a 50p piece I’ll carry with me almost as a talisman until the day we qualify, at which point the money is handed over to constitute a legal contract between myself and Guide Dogs (I liken it to a ten-year hire purchase agreement).

This time around things are a little different and faster. I’ve already had one dog which means several things:

  • The wait should be shorter. I spent nearly two years waiting for Uni, having to fight for her. I’m hoping to be matched with her replacement in under six months.
  • I have a much better idea of what kind of dog I need, as well as the one I want. The differences between those two things are a key factor.
  • I actually have some idea of what I’m getting myself into.

This blog series isn’t just about charting the process, it’s about education. As a result, if you see bolded text it means a term I’m going to use frequently, we have jargon just like anyone else. Most people have no clue how this works, much less what goes into the period between training and qualification. At the same time, personally, I’m in a much better position than I was when I got Uni. First off I know a lot more Guide Dog Owners (GDO’s) than I did when I first got Uni.

This is important because it means I have a safety network of people I can go to if I’m worried or need advice (it’s easier to get ahold of a close GDO friend, for example, when you need a quick query answering). There’s also the social aspect of other dogs; freerunning (letting the dog run off lead and be normal for half an hour) is an important part of their social lives but also us as owners and nothing is more fun than going up to somewhere like Eaton Park with another GDO and watching your hounds do what amounts of ballet while running.

The other thing is, for me, certain dogs (primarily Bramble) help my mental state. Bramble has this thing where she looks at you with Unconditional Love, it can’t be recorded or photographed, it can only be felt. This is because she’s not my dog and is actually quite important. Guide Dogs love their owners but it’s a private kind of adoration, other dogs are required for the oxytocin hit I need to keep functioning. I actually, unexpectedly ran into Bramble yesterday and it really did lift my spirit.

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Right now, officially. I’m not on the Guide Dog list. I’m not even an entity. I’m just a blind person with a Sightsaber and lots of friends with dogs. There are assessments scheduled and paperwork to be filled in. Then I get officially placed on the list, the important thing is to now think about what I want and need in a dog so that, when asked, I can give a succinct answer. The unofficial theory is that every extra you add on to the sentence: ‘I’d like a guide dog please’ means an extra month to wait so I’m trying to keep it brief.

So what do I need?

  • A short-haired, white/gold bitch, Labrador/mix who is good with cats and escalator trained (aka able to work the Tube legally).

This is important as I never liked how much hair Uni had and neither did she; she was phobic about being brushed and so I had to personally fork out extra money to get her turned into a labrador three times a year. She was happier, I was happier. I’ve also realised, though I knew this when I applied for Uni that black doesn’t work for me. I simply can’t see dark colours well so I basically want a blonde version of Bramble, that means I’ll actually be able to see her on free runs.

I want a bitch mainly because they’re easier to control and generally calmer, more submissive (and therefore should be happier around the cats). I’m resolute on the gender and refuse to move. At all.

Escalator trained is the complicated one. I travel a lot (compared to most GDOs) and while I’m no longer working I do go to London a lot. I like to visit shops, exhibitions and do stuff, especially as London is also a terminus if you want to travel elsewhere (like Bath, for example). Taking a guide dog on the Tube is a pain in the arse. It’s been easier this last six months with TfL’s journey planner and the buses (which Shannon knows in her sleep) but there are still times and places when I need to use the Tube. With Uni I was limited to stations that had stairs/lifts where as most have some form of escalator.

And Uni hated escalators. Like HATED them. She’d do that thing where a cat affixes its paws to the floor and cannot be moved by any force known to nature … then she’d shit herself in terror.

So yeah.

The one thing I want is a dog with a multi-syllable name. My autism means I’m bad with tones (much of the communication between GDO and dog is tone via voice and I suck at it). I’ve improved thanks to Mhairi’s instruction over the last year but having a dog with a name that can be shortened makes my life easier. Uni and I also had our shorthand, oh and the blackmail involved in ‘do this thing for me and I will give you a milk bone’.

I don’t get to name the dog, though there is apparently a rarely invoked option to changed it for something which sounds the same (So ‘Sandy’ instead of ‘Andy’). Initially I hated Unis because it was weird and no one knew how to spell it. She was Uni most of the time, Un when I was in a good mood and Un-lamb when I really needed a hug). She was only ever Unis when she was in the shit big time.

The good thing is my Guide Dog Mobility Instructor (aka a GDMI) is super supportive and knows my quirks, how my depression/bipolar and autism affect me, as well as my well documented hatred of navigating London. It’s one of the rare instances when I can do it far more easily with my cane than a dog. But I do actually prefer a dog. Now, officially, Guide Dogs only escalator train dogs who will work/live within London (which I and others call so many kinds of stupid you can hear it ringing across the nation). I know some GDOs who’ve taught their dogs but it’s still technically Not the Done Thing. I mean, I checked and my local shopping mall has like three escalators … it’s not as is London is the only place which has them. However there are escalators and then there are the Bastard 92ft Tube Escalators.

I’m too old to climb them anymore so a fully-trained dog is essential. The plan is, I’m going to do my training (called Class) in London and I’m going to take my time on it (last time I qualified in twelve days; the ‘norm’ is three weeks). Class was, for me, horrible and stressful, plus I never got to do the advanced stuff. I also did it from home so had to worry about extra stuff like keeping the house afloat, washing and feeding myself. I might have legally qualified but I missed out on a lot of stuff from how to work a dog at night to certain kinds of transport. London offers a dozen different ways to get around and I had to teach myself how to do a lot of them (the riverboat was fun; the London Eye was not).

I might have legally qualified but I missed out on a lot of stuff from how to work a dog at night to certain kinds of transport. London offers a dozen different ways to get around and I had to teach myself how to do a lot of them (the riverboat was fun; the London Eye was not). It’s got plenty of places for me to learn new skills and should also force me to get my head around the buses.

Doing Class somewhere else will relieve a lot of the burdens (as well as allowing me to stay in a hotel in a city with coffee shops on every corner and takeout on speed dial). I’m pretty sure, with a minder, the cats can survive the three weeks without me. Class is also the one time I can legitimately call in favours with friends and ask them to feed/water the Menagerie. All three can, technically, survive feral but I’d prefer they’re reminded where their bread is buttered. Especially if I come home with a new member of the family at the end of it. I’m mildly worried about it but worse-case, there are people in my life who will help me out on this one thing, especially as it’s not a daily thing.

But that can sort itself out later.

For now, it’s the initial stuff and paperwork. In my head, I’m looking at Winter solo and hoping due to the lists/priority status, to be qualified by May at the latest. It’s a ballpark but I’d rather have it, a goal, in mind than sit here panicking because I’m about to go through my most hated part of the year without a dog and just my own wits to sustain me.

So, here we go again.

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Unis’ Retirement (Working: January 2010-October 2016) and the Future

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Uni was officially retired on medical grounds at my request—and Guide Dogs’ agreement—on Monday morning. She’s currently in holding at their Redbridge facility in Woodford Green being medically assessed. She’s still ill (and blood was found in her faeces). After six very long weeks of continued gastroenterological problems, it was decided that, for her wellbeing, it would simply be the kinder thing to retire her, treat her illness (assuming it can be identified) and then see her rehomed with people who will love her until she passes.

As a courtesy Guide Dogs are keeping me in the loop about her condition, medical issues and her emotional wellbeing (she’s happy and settled in) but I need to say that retiring her, it’s not a decision I’ve made lightly and, oh fuck, it hurts.

Imagine having your heart ripped out and shown to you, it doesn’t even come close. Neither does putting down a beloved pet (at least you have closure and can reassure them as they go peacefully). Uni’s been my constant companion for nearly six years and not having her is … well, weird. This is grief; I know it is. I know it will go away but it takes time.

Uni was a character best described as ‘Einstein with a dash of Moriarty and a bit of Houdini’, she was smart and sassy, she took the piss. She knew things a dog shouldn’t know. Worse she loved people and that was a part of the problem, she wanted her cake and fully intended to eat it. It’s why becoming Asha was so easy, because she was the more recognisable and lovable of the two of us.

Basically here’s what happened:

  • She relapsed on October 7th. We were in Starbucks when she started giving me the paw and whining (Uni code for ‘something’s up) and she started shitting liquid as soon as I got her outside. I immediately took her to my local vet who took her in for observation and put her on fluids. At this point I was physically unable to look after her due to the stress so two days respite helped but didn’t solve the problem, even though the vet kept an eye on her over the weekend her, releasing her back to me on the Sunday. She was officially signed off work for at least ten days and the vet arranged for special food for her.
  • We’d previously had an appointment booked for the 17th to go down to Redbridge to discuss her case going forward. That was unable to be moved so I had to find compromise.
  • Because I’m autistic I need routine; it hurts when I can’t do things in their usual order or be at certain times. So I left Uni at home as much as possible for the maximum of four-five hours. She slept through most of it. I went out to run errands, grab a coffee, chat to new friends and old and do the minimum in a set amount of time to keep myself sane. I do not apologise for this.
  • After consulting with other GDOs, knowing it was a quiet week with a single event I wanted to go to (purely for selfish reasons of my personal sanity and needing interaction with friends in a dog-safe space), Paul suggested ‘half harness’ where you put on the neon bra bit of the harness but leave the handle (which is the bit which tells the dog they’re supposed to do stuff) at home. I then used my cane to get around and would therefore be able to take Uni out to archery, knowing she would be happy on a blanket with plenty of access to water.
  • On Thursday, she ate cat shit while I let her out to pee. She’d been avoiding the pen due to the associations with bowel movements and pain so I let her go where she wanted to, only realising later that she was actually after stuff in the garden. She was fine but on Friday morning I noticed her straining and knew the jig was up.
  • On Friday, after acknowledging she was still unwell, still exhausted, and on advice from trusted sources within Guide Dogs/my circle of GDO friends, I emailed my contact, making it clear I was unable due to my own mental illness and Uni’s continued suffering to give her the care she needed. She required a safe area, better eyes than mine and so I told Guide Dogs I would bring her down to Redbridge expecting them to either:
    • a) Retire her on the spot due to her age and the fact rest/food were making no difference in her condition. (My personal option).
    • b) Board her for an extended period while tests were carried out (which would still most likely end in option a).
  • I followed this up with an email requesting her formal retirement. Because formality. Also I wanted to make sure there was actual room for her at Redbridge. I also may have compared her to my Sightsaber and what I do when it breaks.
  • Friday/Saturday were mostly spent crying. Also packing Uni’s things.
  • Sunday: I decided it was only fair to take Uni on a short Victory Tour (again in half-harness) so people who cared about her could say goodbye. She got so many hugs and though it may seem cruel to take her out, we both needed to pretend it was just a normal day. We met a trusted friend who agreed with my plan and my motivations, as well as understanding the mental pressure this was all putting on me (remember: my bipolar is triggered by stress). We returned home and I had to reiterate (somewhat angrily) in an unexpected phone call that even though the vet cancelled, we were still coming down to Redbridge and this was in no way related to her pre-existing skin condition.
  • Monday: We got down to Redbridge, Uni slept most of the way. There was no coffee. She was however pleased that the vet wasn’t there, they normally poke at her and she, understandably, doesn’t like that. The forms were, thankfully, waiting for me and after I reiterated I felt it was unfair to continue in the current fashion (Uni is a guide dog which means she needs human interaction 24/7), both for her health but also for my mobility and state of mind. The papers were signed; I let them keep the 50p. Then we left, stopped for a drink in her honour and returned home.

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This is my last picture of Uni. Frank, that’s the nice chap who I’ve been dealing with, let me have some time to cry and hug her. She looks sick but also like the weight of the world has been lifted off her shoulders. I like to think she’s happy because being a guide dog is stressful. On the way back I spoke to my handler (a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor) and confirmed I wanted to be put back on the list for a new dog. We briefly discussed the details of what I need (a short haired lab or crossed bitch, must be white/gold, must be calm, good with cats and able to work with escalators and the Tube). He affirmed, though we’ve been quietly discussing retirement for a while now, that I’d done the right thing. Had Uni been a dog working in London, she would have retired by now anyway.

Validation helps.

I’m meeting him formally next month to fill in paperwork, because Guide Dogs love paperwork, and the plan is to pass me onto the London Mobility Team (because escalator-trained dogs are usually only for inner city blind people). I do go to London a lot, more if it wasn’t so stressful, and so it’ll be a simpler thing to just have them to class and find a suitable dog they feel will be compatible to me. Also, given the clusterfuck that was my previous class I don’t want to train at home or in somewhere I’m vaguely familiar. Norwich simply has too many bad memories.

So, that, friends, is what happens when your beloved guide dog retires. I miss her, I love her to bits, but I don’t regret a thing. This was always about her health, her well-being, but as her owner mine also had to factor in. We’ve always bounced off each other, it’s why we worked so well together. For now I’m trying to explain in as few words as possible to people why Uni’s not with me (someone actually asked me if she was dead!).

Short version: She’s ill and has retired. She’s being rehomed as soon as she’s well enough. I’m waiting for a new dog.

From a personality perspective though, it’s also going to allow me time to figure out who I am. Changing my name was easy because no one really noticed I was there, I was plus 1 to a gorgeous guide dog. Next Dog is going to be different, I’m going to be different and I have a six month wait (ish) to find myself and start my next relationship on the right foot.

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Uni is the World’s Best Guide Dog

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Note: I was going to post this last week but never got around to it. I’m posting it now so you can see how hard a decision it was to make to retire her on medical grounds. This next post will explain what happened and deal with the aftermath.

I need to say that because I don’t say it enough. The thing is, Uni isn’t exactly the dog in promotional material; she’s over-friendly, she scavenges, she needs love like the rest of us need air. She’s basically me in canine form which, as much as I hate the person who matched me with her, they did get it right. I bitch about her constantly but then it’s my right and I do love her, lots.

This is her post-run at Eaton Park; this is her truly content and happy, also knackered. Tongue lolling and sated from a pint of fresh water. There was even a ball. Uni loves balls, they’re like her favourite thing ever, especially when she doesn’t give it to you. Unfortunately her version, her personal definition, of Retriever is ‘I’m gonna bring the ball but only to show you, not because it’s yours or anything’. But then that’s part of her charm. Uni isn’t Bramble, she’s not perfect and calm, she’s excitable and loves any deviation to the daily routine.

Last night I had to get my medication so we got off several stops earlier and her tail started wagging, she started—though exhausted and thirsty—being her old self. It doesn’t last long but then she’s not been well. A couple of weeks ago, she got ill from eating something. While she perked up, she hasn’t really been her usual chirpy self. Then, last Friday, she started having problems from the other end to the point where it looked like she was trying to give birth to her own intestines (news flash: this is not an approved dog shitting position).

She was okay, except for the violence of her need to go to the loo every hour, and asking for food (Uni is truly, deathly ill, when you put a bowl in front of her and she turns her nose up at it). But my gut said vet so I took her, asking if this could be connected or a resurgence of whatever she’d had previously. A couple of days of fecal samples (don’t ask) later and we now know what it is.

Technically I can say the word, I just don’t like to. I did to one person and it totally freaked them out. It appears far too often in newspapers with panic attached. The point is, she’s been on seriously hard-core antibiotics all week, I’ve not gotten sick and neither have my nearest/dearest/their dogs (and if this was transmissible, we’d all be down with it and that includes my three cats). There’s a lot to be said for common sense and washing your hands (though I still got the Hygiene 101 lecture from Guide Dogs).

Yeah, six years and one very bout of illness taught me all I need to know about catching nasties from your guide dog. Ta.

Uni’s still ill but this is probably more down to how shit antibiotics feel. When I’m on them, and I avoid them like the plague, I’m very vocal. Uni can’t bitch in quite the same way but she’s drinking water and doing lots of sleeping. She’s still working though her ability to deal with trips home is almost none-existant. I’m hoping this is simple fatigue. We’re waiting on some medication which will help return her stomach to it’s ‘normal’ state (think actimel for dogs) rather than the swirling cesspool. I’m trying to feed her good things (with a little fruit on the side as it turns out she likes melon. Weird dog.) I’m also temporarily revoking petting rights to everyone, bar my closest friends (most of whom have dogs of their own), just in case. Because you really can never be too careful.

I need to say I have the best guide dog ever because I think it’s Time. This has been on my mind for a while; Uni’s nearly 8 which while still young for a dog is the second part of her working life. She’s not as young as she was and I work her hard. We’re out six days out of seven, usually, we go places and do things. She loves being out, being around people (especially if they’re her group of puppies, the humans she’s adopted like Shannon and Marie, as part of our pack; I get no say in this, apparently, so it’s a good job I like the people she picks).

The problem for me is Uni acts, unofficially, as my emotional support. She picks up on my anxiety and by seeing hers, I realise I have to be the stronger one and control my own. Plus dog hugs solve everything. She also loves me, but unlike other dogs, it’s a very private thing. I confess I’m jealous of my friends’ relationships with their dogs, Gismo is very demonstrative (and 45kg to boot) and soppy, Bramble looks at you like you’re the only other person in the world, full on Unconditional LOVE, for everyone. I want to cry every time she puts her head on my knee before she just adores you on this total, absolute level.

Uni doesn’t do that. Uni’s idea of love is to grin (which is terrifying the first time you see a dog doing it) first thing in the morning, to wait for me at the top of the stairs if I nip out without her. She’ll want to play and bring me her ball. Actually, she spends so much of her time, when we’re home, literally on my feet. As close as she can be. Any dog who sits on your feet loves you.

There are many kinds of love.

Plus she’s never gotten me killed, she remembers what her job is. That’s a massive plus.

This illness of hers, while she will recover, it’s kind of hit home that our relationship is coming to an end. Something’s shifted inside of her and she’s Tired with a capital T. She puts on a mask when we go out, a happy face, but when we get home she looks at me like she’s run a marathon.

We have an appointment in two weeks to see her specialist vet but I’ve already expressed my belief that it’s coming up to the point where we call time. The problem for me is multi-faceted; I self-harm in a very unique and twisted way: I try to get rid of Uni because I don’t feel I deserve her.

Yep, totally fucked up. I know.

My bipolar makes this worse, especially during my periods of intense depression.

Except this is different. I don’t want to get rid of her, I’m concerned for her quality of life and that’s the most important thing.

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