Poodle Clip

White poodle in snow-photo-D-StewartLeo was filthy.  His hair was long and matted.  He smelled.  But cold weather and his arthritis made me reluctant to take him to his groomer.  “What about we try bathing him in the tub?” my husband said.

I had only before clipped his feet and around his eyes between salon visits.  We had hosed him off a couple times when needed.  But bathe, shampoo and clip him completely?  Never.

Clip then bath

“Worth a try,” I said.  I gave him a preliminary clip with scissors first.  I figured it would be easier to wash him without long hair in the way.  So an afternoon of clipping while he lay on his side.  Then I had to get him to turn over.

Leo-in-bath- after first clip photo-D-StewartNext day, bath time.  A length of hose borrowed from some other plumbing in the house to go over the faucet.  Jim in the tub awaiting Leo as I lift him in.  Leo’s feet scrabble wildly but he gets a foothold.  Charlie, the other dog who detests baths, kept very quiet and far away outside the bathroom door.  He hoped we wouldn’t notice him but he wanted to see what was going on.  (His ploy didn’t work:  he got bathed next.)

Leo was very good and stayed still for us.  He slipped a few times.  We realized we should have got a rubber mat for the tub so he could get a better grip.  With his hair shorter, it was easier to shampoo him and to rinse him thoroughly.

bathtime-photo-Dorothy-StewartJim lifted him out to me, I wrapped a towel around him then let him go to shake himself.  It was a mild sunny day so he air-dried.  While not ideal for poodle hair, we thought it was best to not torture him with a hair dryer.  I have only a small hand-held dryer, not a powerful one like groomers use.  Leo doesn’t like dryers and it would have taken so long with my dryer that it didn’t seem worth scaring the wits out of him.

Clip again after the bath

After he was completely dry, I brushed and brushed and brushed him.  When he was all fluffy, I clipped again.  I only used blunt-nosed grooming-equipment-photo-D-Stewartdog scissors.  I don’t have groomer clippers nor do I know how to use them.  Because it’s winter, I didn’t want him clipped really close.  I left the hair on his body about an inch long (more or less depending on my accuracy) and trimmed his legs to about the same length.  I trimmed the base of his tail short and left his pompom long.  Then I neatened up his ear fringe at the bottoms but otherwise only brushed them.  I left the hair on the top of his head and back of his neck and shoulders long.

When it’s warmer, he will go to his groomer.  Considering that this took me the better part of two days and Leo began running from me clean poodle in snow-photo-D-Stewartwhen he saw scissors or brush in my hand, I think the money spent on a professional grooming job is well worth it.  Groomers do more than I can do, and do the whole job better.  Poodles need the hair inside their ears plucked to avoid infection and I don’t have the confidence to try that.  But for an occasional clean up job, I think what I call Leo’s “casual sporty clip” looks just fine.  So does he.

First posted Feb. 28, 2013 on my St. Thomas Dog Blog. When Leo got too decrepit to stand in the tub or even be thoroughly wet, I bought Wahl No Rinse Shampoo for Dogs. Lightly massage it in his coat, then towel it off. It worked fine, and I could do it as he laid on his side.

Corrie Street 27 Nov 2016

Barlow Reunion

Friday we got the explanation. I wondered all week why Ken and his storyline seemed to have disappeared behind a hospital curtain. Would one day the curtain be pulled back and there’s an empty bed, hospital-curtain-pulled-backa different person, a skeleton in a hospital gown? Maybe an emaciated Ken pleading for food and water? ‘So sorry, Mr. Barlow,” the nurse might say, ‘we forgot about you.’

You just can’t put Ken in the hospital and leave him there, with Tracy and Peter occasionally mentioning that Dad won’t see them. Is it contract negotiations? Vacation or other obligations? What?

It’s a Barlow reunion. We knew Ken’s grandson Adam was returning. At least Peter said he had called him in Canada and Adam had promised he’d come. Remember, Adam is the son of Susan (Peter’s deceased twin) and Mike Baldwin.

adam-with-jaquarAdam did return and he’s played by the same actor, Sam Robertson, who portrayed him a decade ago. He may use the surname Barlow but he’s Mike Baldwin’s Mini-Me. He pulls up in a Jaguar, just like Dad. Lights a cigar, Mike’s smoke of choice. In the factory office, he looks for the Scotch where he expects it to be from the days of Mike, and there it is. The factory may have changed hands, but traditions last.

He finally stops marking his territory in the factory and goes to the peter-tracy-adam-in-waiting-roomhospital with Tracy and Peter. No, staff says, they can’t just go barging in, someone is with Ken. It’s the mystery visitor who has been there every day.

Sibling surprise

In they barge anyway. A young man is reading to Ken. It’s Daniel, daniel-and-ken-see-newcomersKen’s youngest son. I had forgotten about him. So, it seems, had Tracy and Peter. Tracy thought he was a con man.  Peter thought he was a volunteer visitor. Neither recognized him. I think Adam has never met him.

Like all of Ken’s children, Daniel was packed off to Scotland. He is the product of an affair Ken had in 1994 with a hairdresser named Denise Osbourne. He and his mother were last seen in 2007 when Tracy, Adam, Peter look gobsmacked barlow reunionKen tried to be a good father to him. They must have kept in touch.

With the return of Daniel and Adam, the Barlow reunion is almost complete. Only the eldest son Lawrence and his offspring are missing. Unless, of course, Ken has more kids out there. Maybe someone should scout around Scotland.

Puppy Mill

I supported a puppy mill.  Not directly, but I puppy mill poodle Leo May 23 2010contributed to the financial well-being of one. My Standard Poodle Leo had spent five years in a US puppy mill as a breeding dog. His adoption fee from All Breed Canine Rescue was $100 higher than the usual because the original rescue group in the States had paid the puppy mill owner $100 each for the dogs they had taken from him. I truly hope he just didn’t go out and buy new dogs. He may well have, since this wasn’t an official “seizure” of the dogs by animal welfare authorities. I am glad that Leo and his cohort got away but it breaks my heart to think about their replacements. I wonder how long they’ll have to live like these dogs did before they get out, to a better life I hope.

When I went to pick him up almost two years ago, I saw all the dogs. Volunteers from the American rescue transport group Open Arms Pound Rescue had brought them to Canada. The majority were adult Labradoodles,  so breeding dogs. They were cowering in the cars in which they’d been traveling. Some almost skeletal, matted dry hair – just laying there looking terrified. Some I was reluctant to go near – bared teeth warning. Two were outside their car. A big blonde adult male was standing defensively in front of a smaller adult female. She was pressed against the side of the car, trying to disappear. He wouldn’t let anyone near her. Some of the younger ones were happy to be petted and fussed over. A couple small pups, Poodles, were soaking up affection in people’s arms.

Meeting Leo

My chosen foster dog, Leo, meanwhile, was trotting around on the end of a leash meeting and greeting. I thought he Leo's first day home Sep 2008belonged to the man holding the leash, until that man said to me “I think this is your dog?” When I put him in my car, I realized that he reeked – dirty dog smell, urine and faeces. We drove home with the windows wide open.

It wasn’t until we were at home, away from the truly sad cases, that I realized just how weird he really was. Not just that he wasn’t housetrained and didn’t know how to get up or down steps – neither of those things are surprising in an outdoor kennel dog. He just didn’t connect with humans at all. He wasn’t overtly scared or show dislike of people – just seemed to not see them. With dogs and cats, he was fine – didn’t pay a lot of attention to them but wasn’t nasty. He wasn’t nasty with anyone, just wasn’t there somehow. I’d never seen anything like it.

Puppy mill autism?

He bonded with me right off the bat, but still didn’t really look at me. Just stayed very very close to me. I thought about naming him Velcro, but it seemed like a joke that was very sad. It was like I was his safety base, but he never really saw me even though he kept his eyes on me constantly. It seemed like a severe case of autism – man-made.

LeoWhite-haired man-made I realized the first time I heard him bark. We were at my mother’s and her neighbour came over. He’s tall and white-haired. Leo barked frantically and showed great fear.  For many months after, even after he’d settled into normalcy, Leo reacted that way with any white-haired man, especially if he was tall. So I know that much about the puppy mill operator. Leo’s only other fear/aggression reaction to people came when anyone, but especially a male, would touch his rear end. Even now, after almost two years, he still moves quickly away if a man pats his rump.

Inability to connect with humans, fear of men and of having his rear touched – those were his main psychological problems. His physical problems – I think at least one vet’s child can thank Leo for a year’s university costs. The amount of money that went just in the first few months to get Leo to a healthy state was stupendous. Parasites, bad teeth, gastrointestinal problems, urinary tract infections – all part and parcel of poor nutrition and bad living conditions.

Maybe a show kennel start

It’s been a learning process for me as well as Leo. He ate his meals well right from when he came to us. He had no idea what treats were and was reluctant to take food from your hand. That proved problematic at obedience class. His teacher said “Poodles are often fussy eaters.” Not him. Once he got the idea of treats, that ceased to be a problem!

Interestingly, the hardest thing to teach him was what is usually the easiest – sit. It took three weeks of classes, with plenty of homework done, before he would sit when asked. His teacher and other people have suggested that he may have started life as a prospective show dog. Apparently the main thing show dogs are taught is not to sit.

Sitting is the one thing they are not allowed to do in a show ring. And Leo, Leo and Charlie Dog Park Grand Opening photo John Blakeeven when he was getting the hang of all the other basic commands, would not sit. It was a wonderful moment when he did the first time. Now he plunks himself in a ‘sit’ in front of perfect strangers if he thinks he might get a treat out of it.

Dog show people have also looked at him for the stance that show dogs have or learn. It’s called ‘stacking’, where they position their legs to show themselves to best advantage. Leo does it automatically. So he may have come from a show dog kennel to the puppy mill anywhere from 4 months to a year old. He’s short, so that alone would disqualify him from show ring aspirations.

Puppy Mill ‘stock’

Dogs that don’t make the cut have to go somewhere and some breeders will let them go anywhere. So dogs that aren’t “good enough” for kennel club standards are turned into breeding machines for “substandard” pups to supply the pet store, private sale and Kijiji markets. Leo’s days of making babies are over. But I wonder how many Labradoodles and Poodles that I see on line for stud service or for sale are his descendants.

Leo really brought home for me the horrors of puppy mill dog production. Lois, of ABCR, said that these dogs weren’t bad compared to others she has seen. Her guess is that they came from a small-scale ‘miller’ operation, those with more dogs than ‘backyard breeders’ and less than ‘puppy mills’. I’ve seen the pictures of dogs seized in raids on puppy mills, I watched the documentary on Oprah. I cried for those dogs and for the inhumanity of the people responsible. But I never felt the deep pain in my heart until I had Leo, and realized just how sad it was that a sentient creature should learn to live as a means of production and have none of the joys of being alive.

Leo learns to be a dog

Watching Leo the first time he realized it was ok to sit when he was asked, the first time he picked up a toy and clumsily played with it. The first time he willingly approached a man he didn’t know to make friends. All these were moving moments for me, watching my weird dog do regular doggy things. And the day Leo first ran full tilt in a field! I’d had him loose before, and he’d just walk around by my side.

Leo running Sept 2009 photo D Stewart

But finally he took off after Charlie, a few steps. Then he decided to keep going. Charlie got tired and stopped running, and Leo just flew across the field – ears flapping, front feet high-stepping. He didn’t stop for a long time. I cried from happiness as well as sadness when I realized from his look of joy that he had maybe never done this before, and he loved it! Everyone who saw him run those first few times said that “he runs like a gazelle.” It was as if he’d just discovered that he had legs. To this day, he really doesn’t run with other dogs, he runs for the sheer joy of running.

From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, June 25 2010.

Corrie Street 20 Nov 2016

Chickens Roost

sonia looks at sharifThe chickens came home to roost for Sharif this week. He’s gone. I do wonder what will happen to his chickens. Yasmeen didn’t like them at the best of times. And this is not the best of times for her.

Story and real life recently collided for the Nazir family. A few months ago, the story unfolded that Sharif, Mr. Respectable Family Man, had been carrying on behind Yasmeen’s back for seven years with yasmeen-heartbrokenher best friend Sonia. Alya figured out that there was something between them but had no idea how long it had been going on.

So, needing money for an embroidery machine, she blackmailed her granddad into giving her £14,000. He “borrowed” the money from the gym business account. His family money had gone for a downpayment on one of Phelan’s fictional flats for Sonia. Yasmeen was happy to put their savings into buying property that would help out her best friend and be an investment for their grandchildren.nazir-confrontation

Of course, they don’t know that Phelan has no intention of ever building those flats. Already a very complicated plot involving deceit by Mr. Scam himself, Pat Phelan, by Mr. Respectable, Sharif, and “I’m your best friend” Sonia and by “Carla wannabe” Alya.

You could predict that Sharif and Sonia would be caught out. Sooner yasmeen-figures-out-bribe-to-alyarather than later, likely, with Alya knowing. Of course, Yasmeen would not take it well. She and all the Nazirs will be very upset when, if, their money disappears with Phelan and Vinny.

Then real life intruded. So whatever the original plan, the writers changed or sped up Sharif’s undoing.

worried-sharifIt was Twitter. Donald Trump is not the only one who tweets without thinking of ramifications, apparently. Nor is he the only one who uses unsuitable words to do so. Marc Anwar, who portrays Sharif, took to Twitter to share strong opinions in strong language. And that was it for him on Coronation Street.

We see Yasmeen tell Sharif and Alya to pack a bag and get out. yasmeen-yells-get-outThat’s the last time we see him. While Yasmeen processes her betrayal and loss, Sharif disappears.  Next day, she reads a note he left. He went to Newcastle. Perhaps he took the chickens with him.

Royal Wedding Anniversary

Happy anniversary, Elizabeth and Philip. November 20th marks 69 years since their wedding. Four children, 8 grandchildren, 5 great-duke-and-princessgrandchildren. Three heirs apparent to the British throne – son, grandson, great-grandson.

On November 20, 1947 a Princess married her prince. Her prince was a Royal Navy Lieutenant and somewhere in line for the shaky throne of Greece. She was heir to the British throne.

royal-news-clippings
A page from my mother’s Royal Wedding scrapbook. (Click to enlarge)

So that Philip would have British royal credentials, the bride’s father conferred HRH status on him, then titles. On his wedding day, Philip became HRH Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich. In 1957 his wife, then Queen, made him a Prince of the United Kingdom.

Their wedding was the first big royal event after World War II. Six years of war had exhausted the British people and British resources. A news clipping (CP Nov. 19, 1947) my mother kept says British china manufacturers “can’t spare the time or the materials” to make wedding collectibles. The Royals and government knew, however, that after years of privation the nation wanted to enjoy something beautiful. So lavish, but not too lavish.

Princess Elizabeth’s Wedding scrapbook

royal-wedding-shoes
“Here is an artist’s study of the royal wedding shoes…” (Click to enlarge)

Every step of the wedding planning was reported. Everyone, I imagine, followed along as if they were in the wedding party. My mother did. She made a scrapbook called “Princess Elizabeth’s Wedding”. I took the clippings here from it.

At the time, she lived in a farmhouse north of Belmont in southwestern Ontario. Dad drove a milk truck and installed glass. Mom looked after two small children. The people who owned the farm and their animals provided her only regular company. Dad worked long hours. Mom was home alone a lot.

So in 1947 Mom spent a lot of time, I think, reading about the upcoming wedding. Dad would have been interested too. He had a soft spot for Princess Elizabeth. She had signed up for service during the war, she knew how to strip down an engine and rebuild it – that meant a lot to him. A mechanic in the RCEME, he worked on those same engines in the UK at the same time.

Five years of ‘ordinary life’

George VI and Princess Margaret
Left: “Viewed wedding gifts…” George VI and Princess Margaret. Top right: “Royal Groceries Bought on Credit”, Lower right: “Loyal Londoners Beam with Pride” – and compare their royals to others. (Click to enlarge)

Elizabeth and Philip had five years of what passes as ordinary life for royals. He continued in the Navy. They had two babies. Then five years later, her father died. Everything changed for her and Philip.

She became Queen Elizabeth II. He became first and foremost the Queen’s husband. Two more children. Nearly seven decades after that wedding, Elizabeth and Philip are still cutting ribbons and unveiling plaques. They are the foundation of a Royal Family that, despite predictions of its demise and its own drama and trauma, seems to be going strong. Long may they live.

Elizabeth and Philip wave from Buckingham Palace balcony
“Elizabeth and Philip, man and wife, were cheered by London’s teeming thousands…”

 

Arthritic Dogs

One week ago today at 7:15 pm AT, my dearly beloved Standard Poodle Leo died. He was about 14 years old. He’s been with us for eight years and leo-18-may-2009-at dan pattersonssix weeks. Since 2012, he had severe arthritis. Arthritis and old age finally took him. Took a big chunk of our hearts too. 

This post was first published Jan. 30, 2013 on my St. Thomas Dog Blog in memory of Leo’s predecessor Jack.  Now it’s in honour of Leo too.

Jack

Five years ago today at 2:15 pm ET, my beautiful German Shepherd Jack died. We had his vet euthanize him before his body did it by itself. It was getting pretty close; I don’t think he would have survived another night. He had a number of physical ailments. We don’t know exactly what all. but I suspect a fast-growing cancer was involved. He was only 9 3/4 years old. He had been my best friend, teacher and “baby-dog” for 9 1/2 of those years.

flowers and Jack photo by Dorothy Stewart arthritic dogsOne problem he had in his last year was arthritis in his hips. He would get up slowly and painfully. He would shift position a lot, trying to get comfortable. I gave him Medacam for it. I don’t know how much good it did because other ailments began developing soon after. His arthritis became the least of his problems.

My dog before Jack, Jamie, had developed severe arthritis in his legs. Poor soul got so he could hardly walk at all. Lying down was almost as painful for him. At the time, the only thing I could give him for pain relief was a Bufferin once a day. He could have had cortisone shots but I didn’t want to due to the bad side effects of steroid drugs. In retrospect, I might as well have tried it.

Leo, one of my present dogs, is arthritic now. X-rays a year ago showed severe damage to his hip joints and his spine. So we are getting to know all the pain relief medications that now exist. There are a lot more than sixteen years ago when Jamie needed something so badly.

Leo’s Arthritis Medicines

Leo started on Medacam. It can work wonders but not for Leo. So he went to Deramaxx, another anti-inflammatory. Again, when it works, you can see the change and, again, there wasn’t a visible improvement. So now he’s getting shots of Cartrophen in addition to the Deramaxx. It is said to mend cartilage. His doctor said you should be able to see a difference after a couple of shots. After three shots – don’t know. We will ask about the next level of treatment. (2016: the drug combination that worked best for him was Gabapentin and Deramaxx,}

Jamie and Jack showed classic signs of arthritis; stiffness when rising, limping after exertion. Leo’s early symptoms were quite different. He began slipping even when standing. Because Jack developed severe problems with his paw pads getting paper-thin, I first checked Leo’s feet. They looked fine. We googled it: can be due to arthritis. His vet explained: even slight movement isn’t easy with stiff joints so there can be a loss of balance. Slipping, if not falling, can be the result.

I read “A Case History of Maggie” (sorry, link is gone at Senior Dogs Project). Maggie, an elderly Golden Retriever, could no longer squat to do her business and would do it while continuing to walk. I hadn’t thought of that being connected to arthritis in the back legs but it makes sense. Restlessness, moving from place to place to sleep, can mean arthritic pain. All these may be less obvious signs of osteoarthritis.

Our present dogs came to help all of us, including the cats, fill the void created by Jack’s death. They have done that and more, but our happy, very silly boy is never forgotten.

(My Dog’s Arthritis has more. Commodity Dogs tells the story of how Leo and Charlie came to us.)

Corrie Street 13 Nov 2016

Explaining Why

michelle-in-back-roomPoor Michelle! Not a thought that often crosses my mind, but it did on Wednesday. Michelle had to explain to Amy why her tablet was open on an abortion clinic website.

Against Michelle’s wishes, Amy knows Michelle is pregnant. But Amy doesn’t know that the baby might have a congenital disease. Telling her that would introduce the topic that Amy too might have it. They were waiting for the tests results so they would know better what exactly they were dealing with. Or avoiding the discussion?

For Michelle to even contemplate an abortion must be extremely amy-enters-back-roomdifficult. She wants this baby, and she knows it’s pretty much her last chance to have another child. But she is afraid, with good reason. So exploring options is a reasonable thing to do. It also must be very, very hard. What she doesn’t need is to have to justify herself to anybody.

michelle-pleads-with-amyAnd Amy is maybe the most judgemental critic Michelle might ever meet. She seems to have inherited the harshness of her mother and great-grandmother Blanche. She also shares their belief that she should say exactly what she thinks, regardless of the hurt or consequences that may cause.

But Amy is also a child, and cannot therefore fully understand the ramifications of Michelle’s dilemma. All she knows is that she’s going to have a baby brother or sister. She cannot comprehend that there amy-confronts-michelle about considering abortionmay be problems further along that must be considered, no matter how difficult that is to do.

Amy’s mind is, simultaneously, one of a child, a scheming manipulator and a nasty old biddy who wants to mind everybody else’s business. That’s a bad combination for complex explanations, especially one like the sorrowful process of abortion consideration.

We knew, of course, as soon as we saw the site Michelle was looking at that Amy was somehow going to find it. But it annoyed me that the writers made it so easy. When she opened the tablet, I thought she would go through its history and come across the website that amy-runs-from-roomway. She’s nosy enough to do that.

After the business with Michelle flipping out about the phone call that Amy overheard, Amy’s antennae for suspicious behaviour must be up and at full alert. You’d think therefore that Michelle’s cautionary sense would be up too. So leaving that page up on the screen? I don’t think so.

Wartime Foresters

“The King’s Government call for lumber men and all skilled workmen not eligible for the Regiment or the Royal Naval Reserve for service in the forests of the United Kingdom.”forestry corps evening tele-7-apr-1917-heritage-nf

In World Wars I and II, Britain needed foresters. Lots of timber available, especially in Scotland, and both military and civilian need for lumber. But not enough people left in the UK with the necessary skills and strength to cut and mill it. That’s where Newfoundland, Canada and other British dominions came in: to provide the skilled labour.nfld-forestry-corps-scotland-wwi-heritage-nf

The Newfoundland Forestry Corps sent about 500 men overseas in 1917 to cut and mill wood. From 1939 to the end of WWII, the Newfoundland Overseas Forestry Unit sent about 3,680 men. They worked in Scotland, England and France.

nofu-badge-wwiiAccording to Neary and Baker (2010:9), “the largest single group of Newfoundlanders to go overseas during the Second World War did not go in uniform, but as members of the Newfoundland Forestry Unit.” In both wars, the forestry units were civilian.

The same rules for recruitment applied in the Canadian Forestry Corps (CFC) but it was part of the Canadian Armed Forces. The CFC was created in 1916 and disbanded in 1920. It resumed service in 1939 to 1945.

Forestry Soldiers and Civilians

The difference in civilian or military categorization didn’t matter at the time, but it did afterwards. In Newfoundland, men of the forestry units were not eligible for veterans’ benefits. The same was true for veterans of the Merchant Marine, a civilian unit responsible for keeping shipping channels safe for military and commercial vessels. Finally in 1962, the forestry units and Merchant Marine were recognized under the Civilian War Allowance Act. In 2000, their veterans received the same benefits as those of military branches.nofu-log-loading-duthil-1944-ngb-chebucto

In both wars, many men left the forestry corps to sign up for combat units. Either they reached legal enlistment age or got the required education level. As war dragged on, and more and more fighting men were needed, the physical requirements changed. Those men rejected earlier due to maybe not meeting the height or eyesight standards became eligible.alfred-j-munnings-draft-horses-lumber-mill-in-the-forest-of-dreux-leicestergalleries-com

Lumbering was still needed, however, so men continued to be recruited to replace those who had left. And there were injuries and deaths. It may not have been combat, but woodswork is dangerous. While working, 335 NOFU men were injured severely enough to be sent back home and 34 were killed. That’s one tenth. In WWI, 14 names are on the honour roll for the NFC.

2010 Peter Neary and Melvin Baker (eds.), Introduction, History of the Participation by Newfoundland in World War II, Allan M. Fraser (pdf)

The story of NOFU is in They Also Served by Tom Curran, St. John’s: Jesperson 1987. See Newfoundland’s Grand Banks for names, records and photographs from WWI and II.

Corrie Street 6 Nov 2016

Too much

eva-gemma-choose-all-we-doNot a scene this week. Too many, too much. It was extremely good, so this is both a compliment and a criticism. Edge of seat exciting, but too much to fully appreciate the separate parts.

Last week, we were left hanging with Ken. Was he alive or dead? Alive, barely, in hospital. Whew! Peter was still around. But Tracy found out he and Ken had been arguing just before the stroke. That was it – Peter, get out. Then she, Amy and Simon appear by Ken’s bedside. She tells him that they are there for him, always and ever more. Yikes! I half expected Ken to grab his pillow and smother himself.gemma-superimposed-on-hospital

But Ken and the Barlow clan were quickly overshadowed by David Platt’s car. First, Kevin welding right beside it. He had not noticed the cans of gasoline in the back. It’s a hatchback, it’s not like they too much for him peter-in-hospital-family-roomwere hidden from view. Sparks fly and Kevin says how happy he is that Anna is moving in with him. Words of Doom.

David escapes from the Bistro cellar and carries on with his plan to blow himself, Clayton and the courthouse sky-high. But his old clunker won’t start. All the Platts and others circle the car, screaming at David to stop.peter-superimposed-on-hosp-room

Lily escapes from babysitter Fiz’s back yard. She heads to the street, just of course as the car starts. David’s got his foot to the floor and the car takes off – straight toward Lily. Gary grabs her, car flips, gas doesn’t immediately explode. David crawls out, Gary and Lily are trapped underneath.

Everybody lifts the car and Lily and Gary are pulled out. Gas explodes. The Rovers is demolished yet again. Anna catches on fire.tracy-and-kids-with-ken

Meanwhile at the hospital, Ken regains consciousness but cannot speak. People go in and out of his room.ken-superimposed-on-shower

I wanted to savour each of these storylines. In the car scenes, I wondered about Ken. Then with Ken, I wondered about the crash. Stepping outside the story, I wondered if these were special episodes marking some anniversary that I didn’t know about. Because that’s what Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday felt like. A really big shew, as Ed Sullivan would say.david-superimposed-on-hosp-monitor

Usually in Coronation Street, music plays in the scene to which it belongs. The juke box in the pub or a radio on in a house. Music overlaying other scenes is an unrealism they usually do not do. But at the end of Wednesday’s episode, I liked “All We Do” continuing from the pub through the final shots. We saw the state of the central characters, and the music helped assimilate the whole.anna-surrounded-by-equipment

Therapy Visitors

“A woman was here today, a long time. I don’t know who she was. She had a dog. I don’t know if she was lost. But she sat right here, with the dog, talking and talking. I didn’t want to be rude, but I had things to do.”

mom and charlie dog 2012 therapy visitorsMy mother told me this one day at her assisted living home. She didn’t have anything she had to do. She had Alzheimer’s. I doubted that this woman and her dog really existed. But to be sure, I asked the nurse if anyone had been to see Mom. “Today is the day the therapy dog comes,” she said.

I told Mom the names of the dog and woman, and explained. She kind of remembered. But why were they coming to see her, she asked. “He was a cute little fella. But I’ve got my own dogs!” She meant mine who came with me.

“A kid was here!”

Another time, Mom was even more distraught. “A kid was here all morning. I don’t know where her parents were. I thought maybe I was supposed to be babysitting her. But I’m too old for that.” I asked where the kid went. “A nurse took her, thank heaven.”

The nurse told me what I suspected, after the therapy dog incident. School kids visiting nursing home residents. It’s good for the kids and good for the elderly.

Therapy or confusion?

I’ve seen the joy dogs can bring to nursing homes. The residents in Leo being therapy dog at Glendale Crossing 2012Mom’s home were always so happy to see me. When I went alone, I found out who they really wanted to see. “Where are the dogs?” Those who usually smiled and came over, even if they couldn’t speak, didn’t even notice me. It was the dogs they wanted.

Bearing in mind Mom’s opinion on unsolicited visits, I kept the dogs away from residents who kept away from them. For Mom, the staff made notes on her preferences. She did not mention any more perplexing visits.

Social contact is good therapy for people in long term care. It breaks up their daily routine, the boredom, keeps them connected. Staff do their best but they have the nuts and bolts of care-taking to do. So waverley-resident-cat-2009visitors, of all ages and species, help. But they can also be confusing, especially for those with memory loss. Like for Mom – wondering who is this, do I know them, why are they here.

“Why don’t they ask you?”

“Do-gooders!” Mom spat when I told her why the young girl was with her, “why don’t they ask you first?” Words to keep in mind. Maybe they did ask and explain, and she forgot. Alzheimer’s can cause memory and perception of reality to wander. Frequent cues might help lessen confusion, at least for the moment, about the “who” and “why” of visitors.