Diary of an (unimpressed) Pregnant Lady – the first weeks of Healthcare.

NHSSo, before I begin, I want to make one thing perfectly clear: I am an avid supporter and great fan of the NHS as an idea and as an institution. I think it’s a great feat of social and universal medical care, and I have greatly appreciated being able to see a Doctor, get medicine and not be afraid of calling an ambulance if it were ever needed, since my arrival in the UK nearly 4 years ago. I feel that the majority of people who work in the NHS are incredible and very hard working people, who have been stretched to their limits by a government that takes from their plates at every turn, to feed the baying dogs of private industry below the table even though everyone is looking! I have nothing but respect for the people of the NHS, and for the institution as a whole. That being said, because the NHS is being bled dry by bad policies, the services they are capable of providing are becoming more and more limited. Part of my pregnancy experience thus far, has obviously been around my heath care within the NHS and regrettably, due to a combination of bad financial policies, antiquated notions of health around weight and the very odd bedside manner of a few individuals, it has left me with feelings ranging from slightly confused to totally baffled, and I got there via the stations of incredibly frustrated and utterly insulted.

But, this is not a “hate piece” on the NHS, so if that’s what you’re here for jog on love. It is a commentary of my personal, and regrettably so far upsetting experience of the antenatal care therein thus far, and I just want to make it clear that I genuinely believe that the problems are a result of the cut throat reduction of funding the NHS suffers under. Good? Good.

Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 17.52.51Now, moving on to my actual piece… Healthcare. It’s an essential part of antenatal care, and anyone who has sat through High School Biology, or has a meddling older neighbour or family member, has already been well schooled on “the basics”. Personally, I took a slightly more vested interest in the medical aspects of pregnancy, fuelled (not in small part) by my personal aversion to the very idea of it (as discussed here). I wanted to be as prepared as I possibly could be, for a process as notoriously unpredictable as this.

I had the timeline of the scans at hand, knew which symptoms to expect at what point, and which tests to expect as the weeks passed, and yet none of my reading prepared me for my experience with my very own “medical team”.

When I first discovered my pregnancy (with a private at home, Clear Blue pee on a stick test) it was April 19th. I called my (new) local GP’s office right away, and they summoned me for a registration appointment, which I needed since I hadn’t registered with them yet, because we had only just moved into the neighbourhood a few weeks prior. Said appointment was scheduled very quickly, for Monday the 24th of April. I went, filling out tons of forms and got to meet a very kind young nurse, who took my blood pressure (and complimented me on it), measured my height and took my weight. She entered some numbers into a chart and told me to make a new appointment to come and see the actual Doctor.

I was a little deflated, since I was hoping to get an official confirmation of the pregnancy at that point, especially since I didn’t have any sort of indication of how far along I might be. You see, I don’t have regular periods, and my last one had been in January of this year, so I had no way of knowing how far along I was, other than that the digital Clear Blue Test said it was more than 3 weeks. Alas, there was nothing she could do, so I went to make a new appointment. The first possible date? May the 5th, almost 2 weeks later! This baffled me, since everything I had read said it was crucial to know how far along one was, but oh well; I had no choice and they were doing their best.

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It also struck me as odd that I wasn’t instructed to take the oh so important folic acid, but I just took it upon myself to go buy some at Boots and made sure to take the average recommended daily dose of 400 micrograms. (As discussed with the Pharmacist.)

 

At home, I did a bit of crude math, based on a combination of the “3+ weeks” diagnosis the digital stick gave me and our *cough* recent intimate liaisons *cough*, and arrived at a rough estimate of 6 weeks pregnant. I downloaded the NHS approved app for my phone, and fervidly threw myself into even more reading.

My husband, very excitedly, took the morning of May 5th off, so that he could attend that very first Doctors appointment with me. The Doctor measured my height, my weight, took my blood pressure (which she too complimented me on – I thought this odd) and then asked me exactly the same questions as the nurse had two weeks prior. No sooner had the appointment started, she then wanted to dismiss me from the office, with a referral to the local hospital’s maternity unit.

Excuse me? But she hadn’t done any tests yet! No pee test. No blood test. Nothing to actually confirm the pregnancy. I asked about this, and she said that the “at home tests were as good as anything they could do”, and when I protested some more, especially about not knowing how far along I was, she laid me on a table and to poke my abdomen. She poked my abdomen – with her hands – and then proclaimed “anywhere between 6-10 weeks, but not past 12”. I was completely dumbfounded. That wasn’t a diagnosis. That wasn’t medical evidence. Where was I? When was I? The 1800’s?

Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 17.56.53In a desperate attempt to get any semblance of a medical answer, I also mentioned that my Rhys factor is negative, and asked if she would test for that please, since I know they need the confirmation, but even that was refused, saying he hospital would do it – whenever I got there. Which she didn’t know when that would be. Anytime within the next 2-3 weeks. I was to expect a letter (a physical, paper, snail mail letter) in the post, confirming my “booking appointment”. I walked out of that appointment with a prescription for an over the counter supplement called “Pregnacare”, which I was to take instead of what I had been taking so far, and in near inconsolable tears.

What if I was having a hysterical pregnancy? What if it was an ectopic pregnancy? What if, because I am quite heavy and thus a baby bump wouldn’t show on me like on other women, I was already passed the 12 week mark, which was the window for the dating scan? What if my hormones were just out of whack, given that my monthly cycle never recovered after the Nexplanon was removed? I had so many questions, and not a single answer. Not even a proper confirmation that I was actually pregnant.

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Not the start I was hoping for to my pregnancy care, and it had me very concerned for the rest of the journey, which I was already so concerned about. x

Diary of an (unimpressed) Pregnant Lady – an introduction.

So, about a year ago now, my husband and I decided we would try for a family. It is at this early point in my tale, that I must admit that this decision came from a place of deep love and mutual respect between us and helping each other fulfil our life dreams as best as we can – he dreams of having at least one child of his own; I don’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I always thought I would be a mum, but as I grew up and saw just how awful pregnancy seemed to be, and how many children there already are in the world who need a good home, the less interested I was in becoming a human incubator for, well, more humans who need incubating … but alas, I love my husband more than life itself and while he wholeheartedly supports my wish to adopt, he shared with me honestly how much it would mean to him to have at least one child of his own. I greatly appreciated that honesty, because I want there to be nothing “festering” between us in the long run, and I just could not deny him at least a chance at that wish.

(NOTE: Before any feminists jump into the ring here, to defend “my choices” let me be clear: I was not coerced, guilted or forced in any way shape or form. We were having an honest exchange among spouses, with ongoing conversations that lasted well over a year and he wanted me know that while he would support me no matter what my decisions were [my body, my rules after all] he just wanted me to know, that he still really wanted to be a biological Dad. I chose that I wanted to give this a try, since I want him to have happiness in his life in what ever form that may take. So please, let’s just not even go there, ok? Okay, thanks.)

Moving on… The idea of pregnancy has freaked me out for years. As a child I was fascinated with it, as most kids are, but as I grew older and watched my first friends go through it, I took up a thorough interest in the subject of human procreation (and even developed a relatively deep understanding of the material, for a non medical student)  in my post-high school Biology class. However, the more I learned, the more weary I grew of the process. The physical changes alone (and that’s completely ignoring the gruesome birth part) seem awful; organs out of place, skin stretched beyond repair, feet that can’t be seen, leaking nipples, uncontrollable food cravings, gargantuan mood swings and needing to pee every 5 minutes being just the tip of that particular ice berg! Add to that the borderline sociopathic way in which our society treats pregnant women, and I realised very early into my 20’s that I wanted nothing to do with that circus.

(What do I mean by “how we treat pregnant women” you ask? Well, very long list super short – the way they are treated as stupid, incompetent and uneducated invalids, that’s what. Telling them what to eat, what not to eat, what to wear and what not to wear, that they’re too feeble to carry near anything at any given time, or just do their normal jobs and worst of all, treat them as though their mental faculties and personhood has gone out the window!!!  “Don’t tell Sarah her favourite Sushi place has a new menu – you’ll hurt her! She loves Sushi and we shouldn’t talk about it in front of her while she’s pregnant!” –> that BTW was an actual thing someone said to me once, [except I changed the name] when I wanted to tell a pregnant colleague about the cool new dish I tried at her favourite Sushi joint, so that she could look forward to it for later. But apparently being pregnant means you can’t process new information like a rational human being, so I was “put in my place” by other people.)

Despite all this, for the reasons stated at the start, my husband and I decided we would give this grand adventure a go. And everyone around us was thrilled. Unsolicited advice on how to best get knocked up started flying in as soon as anyone knew we’d quit the birth control… unnaturally personal questions, from people whom I would usually not even go to coffee with like “Have you tried doggy style?” “You should be tracking your cycle.” “Try shoving XYZ magic product up your vagina.” and “Have you had your period this month? wink wink nudge nudge” … FUCKING EXCUSE ME?

Of course everyone (with exception of a select few best friends who know me intimately well) assured me that, once I was actually pregnant, my feelings on the matter would change instantaneously. I was supposed to be mythically aglow, floating on a cloud of happiness as I cared for a budding blossom of life that was “miraculously” going to be growing inside me. I would love the bump instantly. Feel defensive and protective, naming it even, as the “mystical, magical, motherly bond that defies even time and space” would take a hold of me. That sounds like a gold coin shitting Leprechaun astride a silver unicorn, but sure, I would be waiting for that.

Ironically enough 9 months since we first decided to start trying we discover that –  *overdramatic drumroll please* – I am in fact pregnant. I did not want to publish anything online until I was past the notorious 12 week mark (don’t worry, I have a whole set of controversial opinions there too – they’re coming in another post) but now that we are, and we’ve seen the Dr. and everything is fine, I am happy to start sharing my experience.

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And guess what? It’s exactly as fucking awful as I expected it to be. Don’t get me wrong, I am very much looking forward to having a little “mini-us” at the end of all this, and seeing the glee on my husbands face every time he looks at my belly now and the way in which he skips through the shops picking out baby pyjamas just makes my heart skip a beat, but I have only (consciously) been at this for a few short weeks now, and already I want to punch anyone who is not my Dr. or my Husband who talks to me about this damned pregnancy square on the sniffer.  That’s what this mini series is going to be about. A dreadfully honest, blow by blow account of this pregnancy.

If something does turn out to be lovely, or magical in any way, I will of course be objective about it and let you all know, but so far? Yikes.

I wasn’t able to find much comfort in books or online, everything just blabbers on about the magic… so to soothe my own mind and maybe even reach out to some other expectant human incubators who are not enjoying the ride, I hope this might be helpful. xx

#ScrumptiousSunday – Family Dinner & Beef Wellington

Nothing beats a family dinner, especially a home cooked one, so whenever Derek and I get the chance to invite family for a meal, we jump at the chance. 😉 A few months back, my Dad’s brother Norbert and his wife Birgit (who happens to be my wonderful God Mother) came to Ireland for their first visit in many many years. As a part of that visit, Derek and I wanted to host them and my parents, in our little apartment that we had at the time, for dinner. There’s just something special about playing host to family members, who always hosted you as a child.

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Of course we wanted to serve up something very special, so we went with a recipe created by the man himself – Gordon Ramsay.

We found his very popular Beef Wellington Recipe online, after seeing it served over and over again in his various TV shows, and tried our best to recreate that for dinner for our family. The challenge? My parents don’t eat carbohydrates, so we needed to find a way to cook for them that didn’t include the usual puff pastry wrapping.

Original Recipe here: https://www.gordonramsay.com/gr/recipes/beef-wellington/

We followed the recipe precisely for my Aunty and Uncle and ourselves, but had to get creative with the dish for my parents. We wrapped the roast and mushroom layer in another layer of parma ham instead of puff pastry and then wrapped the whole thing in baking paper, which we tied tightly with oven safe string. This allowed the beef, flavours and mushroom layer to cook beautifully, at the same time as the normal Wellingtons, while keeping in all the juices and flavours, without burning the ham layer (and keeping it completely carb free 😀 ).

We served the Wellingtons with mashed potatoes (mashed cauliflower for my parents), chilly string beans and sautéed garlic mushrooms.

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For dessert? Chef Ramsay’s no-bake cheesecake (with the ground digestive biscuits replaced with fresh fruit, and the sugar replaced with Stevia sweetener for my parents). I regret that decision now… because now I can’t go to my Dad’s house for dinner, without having to make that dessert. 😉 hahahaha

It was a wonderful evening, and we had loads of fun recreating some of these iconic recipes. The preparation was actually really simple and yet the flavours so rich and complex, that the evening was a complete success. If you’ve ever struggled to find a show stopping Sunday recipe, this might be for you. 😀

 

#TravelTuesday – Review Edition – Virgin Atlantic Airlines

Finding flights to Mexico from Northern Ireland seemed like it would be quite a challenge, but, SkyScanner came to the rescue and suggested a great deal with an Airline we had never travelled with before – Virgin Atlantic.

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All in all, it was an excellent experience. The price was great, booking was easy and the flights themselves were wicked. What I only knew as “first class” luxuries, such as complimentary headphones, blankets, pillows, “comfort kits” (including toothbrush/paste, eye mask, socks and ear plugs) as well as an open Bar (!), were all included in the economy price.

The flight attendants were friendly and quick, in-flight entertainment was almost exhaustive and even the pre-flight safety video was not only informative but hilarious!

You can find the video review that I created for this flight, on my YouTube Channel, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQacWKMEj3E 

There were, however, a few not so great points, that in all fairness for a good review, I need to bring your attention to also.

Connection in London – Outbound 

Because we had to get from Belfast to Cancun, and Virgin only fly from London, our ticket included a transfer from Dublin to London, operated by British Airways. (Which turned out to be an AerLingus plane… very confusing…) However, once we got to London Gatwick (at T1) there were signs by British Airways (who technically provided our first flight) saying that passengers heading to Cancun, Mexico should please proceed to T2. Once we got to T2 however, we were told that this was wrong, since our connecting flight was Virgin Atlantic and that we needed to get back to T1. #HeartAttack

By the time we finally got back to T1 and through the second batch of security, we were run ragged and I was in quite a huff by the time we finally reached our plane.

Security Embarrassment 

Long story short, on the flight home, the gentleman in the seat in front of me appeared to be smoking an electric cigarette. I kept seeing puffs of smoke appear above his head, it smelt like the fruity e-cig filling, and so I was in a pickle. Would I tell the flight crew? Smoking e-cigs was prohibited, but more so for me, it’s punishable (if discovered) if you do not report an infraction. So, on my way back from the bathroom I decided to pop into the galley (which was in front of where we sat) to mention my suspicion to the crew. The lady whom I spoke with, was very reactive however, and rather than waiting to let me return to my seat, waiting a couple of minutes (and maybe even watching the Gent for a while to see if he really was using an e-cig) she just marched toward him, right ahead of me. She asked him to raise his hands as she searched his seat and belongings for the device. I was mortified! I specifically told her that I didn’t want to say anything to her because I hadn’t seen the device as such, just the smoke, and didn’t want to make false accusations… but she basically just charged at him! I slithered back into my seat, put on my eye mask and earplugs and tried not to listen to anything, because I was afraid that the man in front of me would know it had been me who said something and would get angry with me.  That was definitely the number 1 way to make sure that people like me are uncomfortable ever reporting anything.

Connection in London – inbound 

On the way home, we ended up with a 6 hour layover in London Gatwick, this wasn’t tragic since we found the Yotel Airport Hotel Service, which was an excellent way to rest and spend time at the airport, but it was just a shame, given that with all the flights going from London to Ireland daily, there was no better way for the combination ticket to get us home; especially considering that we had an additional 2 hour bus ride back to Belfast on the other end.

Conclusion

All in all though, it was an excellent experience, and we would be very happy, not only fly with Virgin Atlantic again in future, but to also wholeheartedly recommend them to others.

5 Board Games to jump right into!

We always say that we would love to do more with our families, do something that doesn’t involve screens and electronics. We say we should sit and chat, or maybe even play board games. Oh yeah! It’s been AGES since any of us played a board game, let’s set that up for this weekend. Great. But what game?

And right at that point the age old argument ensues, usually ending the ill-fated evening before it even begun. Common suggestions will include “Game of Life”, “Scrabble” and “Monopoly”. Some ambitious soul might even recommend “Risk” or some never before heard of German game with 20,000 pieces and a handbook thicker than the last Harry Potter!!!

However, while being drastically different (yet classic) games (with the exception of that obscure German title), the one thing all those games seem to have in common is that while everyone knows “of” them, no one seems to have really mastered any of them (except your geezer of a brother, who wins at Monopoly every single god damned time and would have been better named Ebenezer…), and thus one of two things happens: either, no one can agree on a game to play in the first place or the choice leaves experienced board game players bored and newbies lost, which is never a good way to spend a family evening.

My husband and I had exactly such a lofty thought about a year ago. Wouldn’t it be nice, to play some more board games? As avid gamers (usually of the electronic variety) we both wanted to spend some real quality time together, being present with one another as well as family and friends without screens and plug ins, so we started our very own quest in search of the most awesome board games to share.

On our adventure, we came across some real duds (as was to be expected), but also some genuine gems and we now have a collection that caters to all levels; from weathered-by-adventure board game experts to green-eared-never-rolled-a-dice-newbies.

The trick, is to find games to start everyone off with; games that will allow new players to pick up on the rules easily and play confidently, while being challenging and/or entertaining enough so that gaming veterans don’t get bored.

We think we’ve found at least 5 of these and I would like to introduce you to them now. They are pretty straight forward, and mostly “pick up and play”. If you’re looking for something that your geezer of a brother won’t instantly beat you at, but is also easy enough to introduce to that reclusive, eclectic family member, I hope this will be the list for you.

Just to be clear, I am not recommending blindly; I have played each and every one of these multiple times myself, with a variety of friends and family members. Very importantly there are no endorsements at play here, this is my personal list of recommended “beginner friendly” titles. Clear? Good. 🙂

Let’s get tucked in!

1) Labyrinth

An easy to set up and even easier to follow game, first released in 1986. The simple objective is to be the first player to find all their treasures in a treasure hunt; each player gets a deck of cards, where each card depicts a treasure which has a corresponding tile in the maze. To obtain the treasure, players have to manoeuvre their character pieces through the moving labyrinth.

Players locate their treasure on the board (without letting the others know what they’re looking for) and then plot the path their character piece must take to get to it. There are no dice and no maximum spaces one is allowed to move, however, players will most certainly find their path blocked by walls!

Why? Because the board moves! At the beginning of each player’s turn, they must “move the labyrinth”. In doing this, they will start freeing up the path to their own treasure while inadvertently (or maybe deliberately) blocking the paths of other players. 😉 To claim the treasure, players must simply reveal their treasure card once their token stands upon the corresponding tile.

The first to reach all their treasures wins!

Labyrinth

Statistics:

2-4 players  Ages: 7+  Average Time: 20-40 minutes

2) Greedy Greedy Goblins

Another “pick up and play” game, the 2016 title Greedy Greedy Goblins pitches players against each other as members of their own Goblin mining guilds. Each guild has a preferred gem for bonuses, but what’s most important (and exciting) about this game is that there are no turns!

Cards depicting the Mines (and the guild hall) are laid out in a circle on the table, and in the middle are all the face down “mining tiles”. On the count of three, each player rushes to pick up and inspect one tile at a time. As soon as they have seen what the tile contains (a gem, a minion, a torch, a monster or a stick of dynamite) they must place the tile (face down) on any one of the mines. At any point players may then place their own coloured tokens on a mine to “claim it as their own” and once that has happened, no one else may place any more tiles on that mine.

Once all  the mines have been claimed, players take informal turns revealing what their mines include. This is the risky part, since while players will know what they placed in the mine themselves, they have no idea what other players may have placed there!!! Gems give points, minions are helpers who get even more points (or mitigate damage), monsters rob you of your points and while single/double sticks of dynamite double your yield, too many (more than three) collapse the whole thing and that player pays a penalty.

It’s fast paced, laugh out loud adventure, where players have to choose whether to risk it all with an over-tiled mine or play it safe, with a mine that only contains 2 gems that they placed there themselves.

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Statistics:

2-4 players, Ages: 14+ (that’s what the box says but I don’t see any reason why anyone 10+ couldn’t play this on their own, and I would even go as far as saying that 4+ could have an amazing time playing this with their family, as long as everyone plays with the understanding that the little kids are in teams with adults and the game is slowed down to allow them to make choices too!) Average time: 25-35 minutes

3) Settlers of Catan

Settlers of Catan, which was first released in 1995, is more in the vein of “classic board games” than the previous two, but it’s beautifully designed, easy to pick up and a lovely challenge!

As the name suggests, players play settlers in the fictional country of Catan. Each player starts with a pre-determined number of natural and refined resources, and as the game progresses they need to acquire and trade for even more resources, as these are needed to literally settle their areas. They need to grow wheat in fields, get lumber from forests and hay from grasslands, for example, to build cities and roads and eventually even connect to water based trade routes. Each settlement, road and structure is worth a certain number of points, and the first player to reach (typically) 10 points, wins.

This game is about strategic placements, trades and moves, while also making moral choices. You could send the robber to plunder other player’s settlements to get you ahead temporarily, but is it worth the possible retribution?

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Statistics:

3-4 players (standard) (2,5 or 6 players with expansion packs), ages 8+ Average time: 1 – 4 hours. (Personally, we have averaged out at 1.5 hours per session).

There are also some fun variations and expansions on the classic game, such as Catan Junior, Catan: Cities & Knights, Catan: Traders & Barbarians.

4) Scotland Yard or NY Chase

The 1983 title Scotland Yard, pitches a team of up to 5 players (the detectives) against a single common enemy: Mr. X, played by a single player. The detectives of the London Metropolitan Police work together to track down Mr. X as he escapes across London.

The catch? Mr. X only appears on the board every couple of rounds and the player playing him has to write down his progress on a secret board for verification later. Mr. X and the police must use tickets for the Taxi, Bus and Underground routes to get around London and the detectives work cooperatively to do this with as much strategy as they can. Their only clue? What tickets Mr. X has been using. Taxis only move from one point to the next, bus stops might be several “spaces” apart, whereas the Underground can take him the furthest, along the predetermined routes.

Mr. X gets to also use a limited number of “secret tickets” which allows him to use any mode of transport he wants, or even take a boat along the river Thames. If the detectives manage to catch Mr. X before the turns run out, they win the game, but if he makes it through all of his turns without getting caught, he “gets away” and he wins.

NY Chase, is a variation on this game, which I am personally very fond of. It moved the chase to New York City, where the FBI are trying to catch Mr. X. The difference other than the location? The police get (limited but helpful) use of a helicopter and they have road blocks as well! I love this version, because I love playing Mr. X, and it makes it more challenging to escape!

NY Chase

Statistics: 

3-6 players (but I’ve also played it with 2 players, where one person was playing all the detectives at once!), Ages: 10+ , Average Time: 1 hour

5) Cranium

Last, but definitely not least, is the brain teaser Cranium. Designed to “challenge your whole brain” and including a variety of activities, this family fun favourite pitches teams of at least 2 against one another in a combination of challenges revolving around “creative activities”, “knowledge of data and facts”, “performing arts” and “spelling/word recognition”.

It’s an all around crowd pleaser, combining aspects of classic party games such as Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit, Charades, Name that Tune and more. It’s the perfect activity for a group of people who can’t decide what to play, since there’s a little something for everyone!

Cranium

Statistis:

4+ players, Age: 8+, Average time: >35 minutes.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my little list, and really hope you’ve found something that caught your eye. Maybe one of these will liven up your next dinner evening. 😉

Have you played any of these? Or are you planning to? I would love to know what you think! Please let me know, in the comments below.

Bye bye for now! x

Littering almost Killed my dog… again. 

So, there is no shortage of littering in the neighbourhood where I walk my dog, Riker. There are loads of festivals, carnivals, concerts and tourist attractions in the area all year long and while the need to do so is rage inducing, I have become quite adept at playing “dodge-the-death-pile” with Riker.

There have been overflowing garbage cans, garbage cans with holes in them or sometimes just not enough garbage cans for the amount of people (read trash) coming into the area. What ends up on the street and in our path when that happens? Well, next to the seemingly harmless paper wrappers and plastic bottles, there are used food containers (usually with left over, dirty, dangerous food waste) such as,  but by no means limited to: fish, sausage, bread, bubble gum, chips, crisps, chocolate and of course empty or even shattered alcohol bottles, the smell of which attracts dogs who don’t realize that both alcohol and glass can kill them. So we do our best to dodge these disasters.


But there doesn’t have to be an event for regular old ignorance to rear its ugly head and become the unwitting assistant to a swift doggy demise. Tonight’s attempted culprit? An entire bar of chocolate.

We were walking home along the back of the Odyssey Pavillon, when Riker went sniffing through what looked like fallen leaves. I had to bust into a sprint to get to him (he has an 8m long leash to allow for playing) when I saw one of the “leaves” go straight into his mouth. As I caught up to him he seemed super excited and anxious to stop me from wrestling what ever sneaky treat he’d found away from him. He jumped and twisted and even tried snapping at me, but that meant he had to open his mouth and that was just enough for me to get my hand in there – I had to go all the way back to his throat and I pulled out this monstrosity:


Here is the bar next to my hand for reference:

Do you know what chocolate and sugar do to dogs? If so, you’ll understand my horror… if not… let me break it down for you real quick:

“A small amount of chocolate will probably only give your dog an upset stomach with vomiting or diarrhea. With large amounts, theobromine can produce muscle tremors, seizures, an irregular heartbeat, internal bleeding or a heart attack. The onset of theobromine poisoning is usually marked by severe hyperactivity.

In large enough amounts, chocolate and cocoa products can kill your dog. The toxic component of chocolate is theobromine. Humans easily metabolize theobromine, but dogs process it much more slowly, allowing it to build up to toxic levels in their system.”

http://www.hillspet.com/en/us/dog-care/nutrition-feeding/is-chocolate-bad-for-dogs

And sugar:

Xylitol – A sugar alcohol found in gum, candies, baked goods, and other sugar-substituted items, Xylitol, while causing no apparent harm to humans, is extremely toxic to dogs. Even small amounts can cause low blood sugar, seizures, liver failure, even death for your pup.”

http://www.caninejournal.com/foods-not-to-feed-dog/

So yeah – leaving that lying around is DEADLY!!!

Here’s the deal, if you litter, not only are you an asshole who doesn’t care about societal norms and the environment, but in 99% of cases you are endangering animals, including other people’s pets. End of. No excuses.

Oh, it wasn’t you? You think your kid dropped it? I’m sorry if this is a little blunt for you, but if your offspring is too uncoordinated to eat and walk at the same time (or too little to just not throw junk out of their buggies) they shouldn’t be eating junk while travelling then!!! By all means, give your kids snacks if they’re hungry; apples, bananas, carrots, celery sticks… you get the picture?

If you insist that they DO need to be eating sugary junk while in transit, through shared public spaces, fine, but you better watch them like a hawk and pick up any mess they make. I pick up my dog’s faeces for the greater good of society around me for crying out loud, you can bloody well pick up any garbage your mini human throws around. It’s not just dirty, it’s bloody dangerous and yes I am swearing because I am f*cking livid!! If I hadn’t have wrestled that piece of garbage out of my dogs throat… omg … the possible consequences aren’t even thinkable!! Why did this happen? Because someone was an ignorant asshat!

Just know this: if you litter, you’re an asshole. If you encourage children to litter, you’re an even bigger asshole, nay a cunt even, and if I catch you doing either, I’ll make sure to publicly shame the shit out of you. We clear on that? 😡

Holy crap…

Now, to watch my poor puppers for the next couple hours to make sure he has no side effects from what ever he did manage to swallow. 😢

Control your dog!

So, there are unspoken but universally accepted rules to owning and walking a dog. Most of them, I thought, were inherently obvious such as “pick up your dog’s mess” and “keep your dog under control”. Apparently these things are not as obvious to other people as they are to my dog owning friends and myself, though. 😦

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Here is today’s tale: There’s this lady in our neighborhood in Belfast, with an oversized white fluffy dog; I know its name but for privacy reasons let’s just call the dog “D”. It’s a giant teddy bear of a thing, I can’t quite judge it’s breed, but he’s friendly as all things; he just has zero manners and she is 100% NOT in control, always getting dragged behind him like a rag doll.

A few weeks ago there was an incident where he was so rambunctious, that he tore his own leash, leaving her to wrestle him by the collar. My Derek, being the gentleman that he his, leant the lady our spare leash and told her to just bring it back once she’d bought herself a new one. She was all grateful, we got the leash back, no problem – end of that story.

However today, as in 30-ish minutes ago, I was walking Riker and saw her; today I have lots to do and do not have the patience for the leash tangled mess that always happens whenever we bump into them so I choose a different route. At the local main attraction though, where all the dogs go walking, I’m talking to my Mum on the phone, via my headset so that I have free hands for puppy, when suddenly my headphones are ripped out of my ears by Riker’s leash getting tangled in them as he tries to hide behind me!!!!

“D” was OFF LEASH and his never-in-control owner was about 60m away, near the street! Now, “D” wasn’t being aggressive or anything, but he’s 4 times the size of Riker and off leash, trying his best to get his nose right up in Rikers ass for a good sniff! Riker can’t get away fast enough and I’m completely tangled in leash, cable and foreign fur!!!

I call out to her asking for help; her reply? “Just stay still! It’s what dogs do!” I yell back that she has to control her dog and come help me, she says “I am!”… (?) … She then gets to us and pulls her dog away, so I say “if you can’t control your dog he belongs on a leash, that’s why mine’s not allowed off leash yet!” What does she reply? “Well maybe you need to train your dog better.” with a sneer.

Excuse me? I need to train MY dog better?? We just got accosted by YOUR beast and it scared the wits out of both my Riker and me!

She then has the audacity to pull her dog away, proclaiming loudly for all to hear “come on “D”, clearly that doggy’s not allowed to play.”

It took all my self control to not to start an all out screaming match. I was livid; still am!

I knew I was going to get ugly if I stayed, so I stormed away, cutting poor Riker’s walk short.

How dare she? Clearly she didn’t recognise me or Riker, because she normally plays all cute and coy when we meet her… good to see what people are really like when they don’t know who you are!

Lessons learned? Other people are still assholes; don’t let a coy misdemeanor fool you.

Please please please, if your dog can not be vocally controlled leave them on their leashes. It’s not safe for them (traffic, rivers, other maybe not so friendly dogs or dog owners) and it’s dangerous for other dogs and people. Some people and other dogs, can be terrified by your dog, have allergies or react aggressively in defense.

Please remember that not all dogs like to be approached like that! I’m lucky because Riker is very social and he didn’t react aggressively but that could have easily turned ugly and I blame her 100% for all the risk!!!

Here are two great little posters I found online that outlines safe dog approach rules, if you’re a dog owner, or live near dogs, please take a moment to familiarize yourself with these guidelines.


I really hope that this insane lady, gets a better grip (literally) on poor Big “D” before something awful were to happen to him. I am terrified that he might run into traffic, or the water or antagonize the wrong dog… it’s not his fault his owner doesn’t know how to handle him. 😦

Riker and I are now curled on the couch, where he’s sleeping off the small shock.


Thanks for reading and thanks for being responsible dog owners. xx