Judgy Wudgy

A lighthearted title, a not-so-lighthearted post. This subject has been bothering me a while and I realized since it was troubling me and has been for a while, why not blog about it.

It’s clearly no secret Isaac does not like other dogs. I thank my lucky stars every day that he’s not mean to Lucy because when Isaac meets any other dog, he is downright nasty. I’m talking snarling, snapping and I’m sure if I weren’t able to hold him back, biting.

He's so sweet most of the time. And handsome.

He’s so sweet most of the time. And handsome.

So what, besides the obvious of Isaac’s behavior, is actually bothering me? The judging.

Isaac needs his daily walks because he has so much energy. But on said walks, we obviously occasionally run into other dogs and it causes me a ton of stress and yes, embarrassment. I feel as if everyone judges me for my dog’s bad – and scary – behavior. I want to scream, “he came to me this way!”

Is that selfish? I don’t know, maybe. But I’m also defending Isaac. Something happened that made him mean to other dogs; no dog is born this way. Maybe it was just the fact that he was attacked as a puppy. I don’t know. But it’s hard to explain to random strangers within the five seconds we cross paths that he’s a foster, that he’s been this way since we got him, that he got attacked as a puppy, etc.; all the people care about is potential danger to their dogs, which I get, I really do.

What sparked this post? Today on our walk I saw a black lab walking towards us. We were on the main street of our town with no way to cross to the other side during “rush hour” traffic (in quotes because Central PA doesn’t have real rush hour) so I knew I had to brace myself for a nasty confrontation. When this dog and his family got within five feet, I quickly said, “he doesn’t like other dogs.”

To which the mother said “oh great” right before Isaac proceeded to lunge and snarl at the other dog, practically taking a bite out of his neck.

The “oh great” comment is what got to me. I understand it; I don’t know what other reaction she should have had. But I felt as if I were being blamed and judged for Isaac’s behavior when in reality, I don’t know even who to blame! If I knew why he behaved the way he did maybe I could solve it.

There’s no real point to this post, just a need to vent. And express my sadness that whatever Isaac experienced before we got him made him angry at, and maybe even scared of, other dogs. All my other fosters I’ve been able to “fix.” There is no “fix” for Isaac right now, just continued love.

An obvious question to address, though, is whether we ever feel unsafe around Isaac. The answer? Never. Never ever. I can lay on him, hug him, kiss him, pet him, clean his ears, etc. and he has never once made a mean move toward myself, Marty or any other person. So I know his temperament is kind, there’s just something in him that is set off my other dogs.

Oh, poor Isaac. :-(
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Fall Photo Shoot

Isaac still isn’t getting any adoption applications, or at least none that are viable (i.e. no other dogs in the house). S.N.O.R.T. knows photos and social media are the number one way to drum up attention for a foster so today after work, I lugged my camera around on our walk so I could get some good pictures of him.

"Lug that camera around a little faster, mom."

“Lug that camera around a little faster, mom.”

Not wanting to leave Lucy out, I took her outside for a few photos, too. As evidenced by the photos below, you can tell which dog was more cooperative, to say the least.

Manly, even among flowers.

Manly, even among flowers.

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Tired but unbelievably happy after our long walk.

Tired but unbelievably happy after our long walk.

And here is where the enthusiasm waned…

Lucy has a...different kind of enthusiasm.

Lucy has a…different kind of enthusiasm.

Yeah...

Yeah…

Happy Fall!

No More Paw Problems

One of the most common search terms used to find my blog is something along the lines of “bulldog itchy red paws.” Nine times out of 10 it directs them to this post. It’s (thankfully) been a very long time since I’ve had to write about paw problems but I thought I’d do a follow-up post of what’s worked for us for those dog owners – bulldog or otherwise – who are struggling with red, itchy paws.

A lovely shade of red/maroon

A lovely shade of red/maroon

For most of her puppyhood and into her second year of life, Lucy literally ate her paws. She was constantly gnawing on them, licking them, etc. And they turned into the lovely picture above; they were dark red and even her toenails were starting to turn red from her saliva (the vet told me that was a common reaction).

I tried all the home remedies I could; I switched food, gave her only filtered water, wiped down her feet every time we came in. I even tried apple cider vinegar spray as that was said to kill the bacteria in her paws. I tried the bitter apple spray meant to keep dogs from chewing on objects they shouldn’t; in this case the object just happened to be her paws.

Absolutely nothing worked.

Embarrassed by her red paws.

Embarrassed by her red paws.


The first time we went to the vet for this specific problem, they gave me anti-fungal wash and steroids to quickly get the itching under control. And it worked…until the steroid dosage ran out and Lucy was right back to where she started – eating her feet and making a mess of our couch in the process, I might.

Back to the vet we went because I couldn’t take her constant licking and gnawing anymore.

The solution we landed on was one I’d been really, really hoping to avoid: allergy meds in the form of Zyrtec. We were also instructed to give her a high dose of fish oil, which I was definitely comfortable with.

So now Lucy gets 10mg of Zyrtec twice a day. Sometimes in the winter I’ll wean her to one and sometimes even none but the minute her symptoms reoccur, she’s right back on the meds.

This was not the route I wanted to go; I didn’t want Lucy on chemicals for the majority of the year. However, my vet said something that really struck home. My vet is highly allergic to dogs and cats…and yet she’s a vet? She takes daily allergy meds because she said that there was something on the market that was safe and could allow her to do what she wants, why wouldn’t she take it? In the case of Lucy, if there was a vet-approved medicine that would alleviate Lucy’s itchies, why wouldn’t I give it to her?

"Yeah, why not?"

“Yeah, why not?”

So today we stick with quality food, fish oil and Zyrtec to keep Lucy itch free.

Hopefully this is helpful for other owners struggling with itchy doggies!

Odds and Ends

I’ve probably used this title for another post but it pretty much sums up what I’m about to write.

Isaac’s bloodwork results came in yesterday and everything was normal! Which is good – really good! – but also kind of mystifying. Seeing as we’re with Isaac every day, it’s hard to tell if his hair is getting better – as in, actually growing back. Well, our vet squashed any glimmer hope I had of improvement by saying his skin looked exactly the same as the pics she snapped at our first visit well over a month ago. Sigh.

With a face like this, who cares about missing fur?

With a face like this, who cares about missing fur?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m relieved his thyroid levels are back to normal. They weren’t that far off normal to begin with, though, and it’s obvious the medication had zero impact on his hair growth, so we can stop giving Isaac the thyroid medication.

The next step? After consulting with a doggie dermatologist, our vet suggested adding a melatonin supplement to his diet. Even though melatonin is used as a sleep aid for humans, when given to dogs it can help with alopecia (hair loss) in addition to acting as a sleep aid. Um, Isaac certainly doesn’t need help sleeping but we’ll give it a whirl and see how he responds both with his energy levels and his hair, or lack thereof.

In other news, Lucy and I attended our final Dog Days of the academic year. It’s obvious we both love going but this year Lucy’s reaction has been particularly memorable. I don’t know if it’s being able to escape from Isaac for a few hours or what, but Lucy just cannot control herself on Dog Days. The minute we get out of the car she goes racing towards the middle of campus where the event is held. She always has her Susquehanna jersey on and she does this awesomely cute little hop/run across the quad. She tugs on the leash the whole way there and run-hops as fast as her short, stubby, jersey-impeded legs will let her.
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It’s just fabulous to see her get so excited and we have a great time there. Until next year!
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Making friends.

Making friends.

My Plan Worked

This evening, Isaac had a quick vet appointment for follow-up bloodwork. Lest anyone forget, Isaac does not like other dogs. And what does a vet’s office have? That’s right, other dogs. Which means vet appointments are stressful, to put it mildly.

"They're not stressful for me! I love getting into it with other dogs!"

“They’re not stressful for me! I love getting into it with other dogs!”

So, I came up with the plan to take Isaac to the university track to try and tire him out. Normal walks don’t seem to drain his energy – at all – but I thought a car ride combined with new scenery and lots of people just might make him a wee bit tired so he wouldn’t act up at the vet.

Watching lacrosse practice.

Watching lacrosse practice.

Loving life.

Loving life.

After a lap around the track, we hopped back in the car to head to the vet…where Isaac didn’t start a fight with any of the three dogs in the waiting room. Miracles do happen.

And the miracles continued when I got to take a special trip to the back of the where they keep dogs recovering from surgery and there was a five-month-old English bulldog, Harley! She had to stay in her cage but you better believe I pet her through the grates. Unbelievably cute.

So, a far better evening than I had anticipated. Now we wait for Isaac’s test results to come back; hopefully they show his thyroid levels are in the normal range and we can move full steam ahead with finding him a forever home!

"Adopt me!"

“Adopt me!”

A Birthday Weekend

This weekend I traveled roughly 430 miles in 30 or so hours. It was totally worth it, though. On Saturday I traveled to Carlisle, Pa. for work then drove to New Jersey that evening to visit family for my grandmother’s 90th birthday celebration on Sunday. You only turn 90 once so of course I wanted to be there!

Just a little driving this weekend.

Just a little driving this weekend.

It also meant that I left Marty in charge of both Isaac and Lucy for the first time. Isaac isn’t exactly a difficult dog but he isn’t easy, either. First, he requires walks and Marty abhors walks, despite willingly putting himself through five-hour half-Ironman races.

Isaac is also acting up a bit more in regards to unwanted advances toward Lucy. He’s been more…humpy and determined lately and let me reiterate – he is STRONG. It is very difficult for me to pull him off of her and it’s equally difficult to nip the “attacks” in the bud because he is quick!

Fortunately everyone survived and I spent Sunday celebrating my grandmother’s birthday (and visited one of my best friend’s – and her baby bump! – for her birthday) and cuddling this sweet, adorable puppy.

Pete!

Pete!

Meet Pete, my aunt’s newest addition. She currently owns enough animals to rival Noah’s Ark (two horses, two cats and now two dogs). Pete is a mixed breed and it’s anyone’s guess as to what he is a mix of but he is undoubtedly one of the cutest puppies I’ve ever seen.

I definitely missed my doggies (and Marty) but it was a special weekend that I’m glad I didn’t miss out on.

The beautiful birthday girl.

The beautiful birthday girl.

 

Do What Makes You Happy

I’ve slowly learned the value of doing what makes you happy. For years I thought I was doing what made me happy but recently I’ve come to realize that’s not the case. Some of the things that were making me happy are now making me unhappy but as simplistic as it sounds to just stop doing them, life obviously isn’t that simple.

So while I work to change those areas that are causing a lot of unhappiness in my life, I’ve started actively seeking out other things that do actually make my life more fulfilled. Fostering is one of those activities. I started volunteering with S.N.O.R.T. with zero intention to foster but once we started, I realized how fulfilled it made me. So, in the theme of doing what makes me happy, we continue to foster.

Another activity I’ve taken up is CrossFit. Trendy? Maybe. Expensive? Yes. Rewarding? You bet.

And I continue with small activities like Dog Days (to which we went back today!) to remind me that there are plenty of things in my life to look to for happiness.

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She found the ice cubes.

She found the ice cubes.

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She makes me so happy.

She makes me so happy.

Dog Days – 2014 Version

Today marked the return of Dog Days! As a refresher, dog days are held on campus every Tuesday in September as a way to help ease potential homesickness students may feel, especially freshmen. All campus employees are invited to bring their dogs for students to pet; there’s food for humans, treats for dogs and tons of fun.

Last year Lucy went to a handful of Dog Days and I took both Lucy and Snowy one or two times, I think. Lucy was in heaven with all the attention, treats, etc. and I had a blast, too, mingling with other dogs and their owners.

Needless to say I was more than looking forward to our first Dog Day of the semester as I missed last week due to a work event.

Enjoy a massive amount of photos!

So, so happy.

So, so happy.

Obsessed with the treat cart. Of course.

Obsessed with the treat cart. Of course.

Finally met Wrigley!

Finally met Wrigley!

One of two adorable puppies at the event.

One of two adorable puppies at the event.

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The best part of the day - getting pet!

The best part of the day – getting pet!

Sundays

I live for Sundays. Given the nature of my work, I work six days a week from roughly the end of August through May. While it sounds like fun – I do cover collegiate sports for a living – it’s grueling and gets more grueling (at least mentally) each year. I’m lucky, though, that my current institution tries to stay away from home athletic events on Sundays and while I always have work to do, I can at least mostly work from home on Sundays. That means that Sundays are spent soaking up time with the dogs.

"Every day is Sunday to me."

“Every day is Sunday to me.”

Unfortunately for the blog, that means by the time Sunday rolls around, I can barely string coherent thoughts together so this post will be slightly scattered.

Isaac has been on thyroid meds for roughly two weeks now and like I previously mentioned, there doesn’t seem to be a noticeable difference but I’m not sure if there’s supposed to be! We go back to the vet at the end of the month so I’m anxious to see what his blood work shows this time around. His energy his still high, even with the heat wave that recently rolled through. Heat waves mean nothing to Isaac except a bit more time in front of his personal fan.

Seriously, look at that neck roll!

Seriously, look at that neck roll!

I am excited to say, though, that on Tuesday it’s the return of Dog Days at work! Because of Isaac’s intolerance of most other dogs, he will not be making an appearance but Lucy most definitely will be. I’m beyond excited because it’s so good for Lucy to go to events like this and I get to snap tons and tons of cute pictures – so check back Tuesday for a full report!

Ending with a photo of Isaac since Tuesday will be all Lucy!

Ending with a photo of Isaac since Tuesday will be all Lucy!

The Busy Season Begins

It’s been pretty silent on here because there honestly isn’t much to say. This past week marked the official start to the athletic year at my university which means I have no life (truly) for the next 10 months. Of course this coincided with the news about Isaac’s potential thyroid problem so stress has been high and free time has been limited.

"You won't forget about me, right?"

“You won’t forget about me, right?”

Despite having to do work (and homework) on Sundays, I rarely have to be at work so I soak up free time with the doggies. Today was cloudy and oppressively humid, i.e. not a great day for short-nosed dogs. However, despite having been listed for adoption for around 1-2 weeks now, Isaac has gotten zero adoption applications so I dragged Marty outside with Isaac and me for another photo shoot for S.N.O.R.T.’s social media outlets.

Using his tongue for maximum effort.

Using his tongue for maximum effort.

Running!

Running!

 

He likes Marty best.

He likes Marty best.

And how has Isaac been doing on his new meds? So far no visible or noticeable difference but he wasn’t exactly acting sickly before. I truly believed his hair was starting to grow back before he went on this medication so even if his hair continues to grow back, it’s going to be hard to determine if it’s the meds or just time that helped him. His energy is still really high and we’re still walking many, many times a day, so no changes there! We’ll go back to the vet at the end of September and see where we stand; here’s hoping for normal bloodwork this time!