Seeking Answers

I hesitate to post too much about Isaac because, while very few people read this blog, I don’t want to taint anyone’s opinion of Isaac (or anything about my life) by reading small snippets. Most posts are written because at the time of writing them, a certain issue is really bothering me. Writing as always been therapeutic for me. But as happens in life, a few weeks later what was really bothering is now in the rear view mirror. But here we go anyway…

Something in Isaac’s behavior lately indicates that he needs some help. What kind of help is the million dollar question. His aggression (outside the home – always outside the home) has gotten a bit worse and now we need to figure out why – is it behavioral and therefore able to be alleviated through training or is it health-related? Is there something going on in his little peabrain that’s making him act differently?
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His thyroid tests came back and while the base levels are slightly low, his TSH (thyroid stimulation hormone) levels are perfectly normal, meaning his thyroid is actually functioning at a normal level. Our vet believes that the next step is behavioral training. If we keep up with training we should see a difference.

The elephant in the room? What if we don’t see a difference in his behavior? Then what? Then we have to continue digging. I’m hoping to see the behavioral trainer within the next 7-10 days and really buckle down on training. A SNORT board member sent me this article which is a training technique I can – and will – immediately implement.

Our walks might look a little different from now on...

Our walks might look a little different from now on…

I’m not going to go into the possibilities if we find out we’re dealing with something that can’t be rectified with behavioral training. That’s too far down the road. But I love Isaac and I so desperately want to help him. While he can be aggressive, do you know what I found out last week? Big, rough, tough Isaac is petrified of thunder storms. He was shaking so hard the other night he woke me up! I can hug and kiss him (and frequently do, more than is normal or acceptable) and smother him with love. I can take random chicken wing bones he picks up on our walks (I know, gross) right out of his mouth without so much as a snap from him. I know he is a sweet dog and I want everyone else to know that, too.

Oh, I love him.

Oh, I love him.

Determined

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. Not that there isn’t stuff going on but nothing terribly interesting. For a week or so the weather was gorgeous so we had the dogs outside a lot for walks and playtime, the latter of which Lucy enjoys.

Strutting her stuff at the dog park.

Strutting her stuff at the dog park.

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We spent a quiet Easter at home; with our work schedules we weren’t able to make a trip back to New Jersey to see family so we had a surprisingly relaxing weekend at home.

But now for the title of this post. Isaac is of course still with us and there isn’t an adoption in his near future from what I know of the applications (or lack thereof) that have come in for him. We’re closing in on nine months with him and there are still parts of his behavior that I’m convinced have to be “fixed” or at least alleviated before he’ll be a successful adoption story.

Isaac definitely needs more obedience training; while he loves to walk, he loves to walk where he wants to walk. And if I try to guide him toward the route I want to take, it’s a no go. Obviously I’m supposed to be the one leading Isaac, not the other way around, so there’s one area on which we can improve.

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But what I’m most concerned with, honestly, is his behavior. He has never, ever been friendly toward other dogs (except Lucy, but we all know that Isaac’s version of friendly doesn’t go over well with Lucy…). From day one we picked up on that and I chalked it up to him allegedly having been attacked as a puppy.

Lately, though, he’s been hit or miss with people for no reason I can determine and I’m not going to let him continue being that way. I took Isaac to the vet today for some routine bloodwork to make sure there isn’t an underlying health concern that’s making him crankier than normal and then I’m going to try my best to enroll him in a behavior training session (or two, or three).

Hamming it up at the vet.

Hamming it up at the vet.

I’ve never met a sweeter dog when he’s inside his home. Around myself and Marty he’s a total marshmallow. He cuddles with us, lets us get close to his face, give him hugs and kisses, etc. Outside the home, though, he’s too hot and cold for my liking. I refuse to believe he can’t change so I’m going to exhaust all options. I love him to death and that’s why I’m determined to get to the bottom of what’s going on inside that head of his!

Survey of Threes

Three Things I Did Tonight:
1. Took Isaac for a walk. I hadn’t seen him practically all day!

I missed him.

I missed him.

2. Watched NCAA basketball. #marchmadness
3. Worked, unfortunately. Three game recaps to write tonight for our athletic teams.

My Three Spring Must-Haves:
1. Warmer weather (duh). I spent five hours in 31 degree temps at work today (real feel temps of 19-21 degrees. Balmy.).
2. Skirts. I love wearing skirts but really wear none in the winter. Kind of obsessed with this skirt right now:
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(source)
3. New sandals. I seem to have a need to buy a new pair each spring.

Three Foods I Eat Everyday:
1. Almonds
2. Lara bar
3. Baby carrots. Not because I like them all that much but because they’re the most convenient veggie to eat. I would much rather eat this every day:
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(source)
Three Things I Am (was) Excited for This Weekend:
1. Friday night TV (Marty gone = Say Yes to the Dress marathon)
2. Saturday morning CrossFit class. Open workout 15.5 complete!
3. Posting my final recap on Sunday night so I can truly relax.

Three Books I am Reading Right Now:
Going to cheat because I never read three books at once! I am, however, reading one book and occasionally skimming through another:
1. The Paris Winter
2. The Mental Athlete (because I am a mental midget when it comes to athletic endeavors).

Isaac’s Early Easter

One thing I love about volunteering with SNORT – they do so many special things for their fosters. One of which is gifts at holiday times and that includes Easter!

Which is a roundabout way of saying that Isaac got a package from his Secret Bunny! He got every single thing on his wish list – treats, coconut oil and, most importantly, a new Nylabone!

The most important gift...

The most important gift…

Isaac (and Lucy) will love the treats and Isaac loves his coconut oil rubs but let’s face it – the highlight of the package was his Nylabone!

Clearly I was starting to annoy him.

Clearly I was starting to annoy him.

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This has been a rough week for me (and yes, it’s only Wednesday). For the past three nights I haven’t been home before 6:30/7 and/or not able to make it home at lunch (don’t worry, Marty let the dogs out for me!). I haven’t had a car since Thursday night (in the body shop because someone hit my bumper) and I’ll be working roughly 10 hour days straight through the weekend. But it’s little things like tonight – giving the dogs new toys and treats – that get me through weeks like this!

A Weighty Issue

It’s official. Lucy is fat.

"Who are you calling fat?"

“Who are you calling fat?”

No, really. She has gained five-plus pounds in a year and needs to drop 5-10. :-( That is going to be very difficult for a dog who hates walks. We’re going to slightly decrease her food and force more physical activity. Should be fun for all of us.

The rest of the visit was the usual – Lucy’s healthy and has no shortage of fans at the vet.

Posing for her adoring fans in the waiting room.

Posing for her adoring fans in the waiting room.

Her fur looks good, her ears are great, her wrinkles are yeast-free and her energy? Fabulous. If only she’d expend that energy via walks.

Strutting around the waiting room.

Strutting around the waiting room.

I really do love taking her to the vet because she has such a blast and everyone loves her. You’d think we never give her any attention at home the way she’s an attention whore at the vet! Just thankful she’s a healthy three-year-old.

Cross Your Fingers…

Lucy goes to the vet on Thursday for her yearly physical and I’m praying she hasn’t gained too much weight. She’s definitely…rounder than this time last year and I have a sneaking suspicion the vet is going to tell me she’s got to drop some pounds. The unfortunate part is she still doesn’t like to walk unless she’s in the mood (so, once a week, no more). I foresee a diet consisting of carrots for treats instead of real dog treats.

My plan is brush her and get as much loose hair off of her – every ounce counts, right?? And if you’ve seen Lucy lately you’d know all you have to do is touch her and hair falls off. Shedding is no joke.

Maybe her cuteness will make them forget her fatness?

Maybe her cuteness will make them forget her fatness?

In all seriousness, she also has a patch of hair that’s starting to thin just like last year. I’m hoping it’s just seasonal but she’s already on a high dose of fish oil which was the solution last time around. And her paws remain red but sort of under control. So, other than those minor things, I’m expecting a clean (and expensive) bill of health. My budget certainly hopes nothing unexpected arises.

Lucy, for one, will be giddy when she realizes we’re going for a car ride AND to the vet. She loves the vet. A strange dog, for sure.

In other news, this was the scene on our couch last night – a first for these two.

The Hump Monster is tamed...for a bit.

The Hump Monster is tamed…for a bit.

Isaac still has a lot of issues around Lucy but I have to say they may be a tad more manageable since he’s been back. Not great and over-stimulation is a definite precursor to an attack on Lucy, but it might be better. Not good. But better.

Lucy’s Three!

Almost three years ago this little nugget came to live with us…

Baby Lucy!

Baby Lucy!

And now she’s THREE!

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My parents were visiting this past weekend and I probably told them at least five times how happy Lucy makes me, how much I love her and and how glad I am that I got her. I know it’s her birthday and I know I’ve said this before, but she’s the best gift I’ve ever gotten.

In human years she’s now 21 so I thought it fitting to get her a brand new collar from the brewery down the street:

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She got also some new Nylabones, a treat and THIS fabulous collar:

I literally couldn't stop myself when I saw a collar with a flower AND A SPARKLE.

I literally couldn’t stop myself when I saw a collar with a flower AND A SPARKLE.

Lucy is one special dog – in both good ways and weird ways. She has been a trooper with all of our fosters and with the exception of Isaac, I think she’s more than loved having another dog in the house. Her wrinkles make me smile every day, as does her butt wiggle that greets me at the end of the day. I love the way she’s been snuggling a lot more lately and I can tell that even though she’s not a fan of walks, the nicer weather is making her want to be a bit more active.

I’ve posted most of these before, but here are a handful of my favorite Lucy photos!

My all-time favorite picture of Lucy

My all-time favorite picture of Lucy

Lucy and her "grandma"

Lucy and her “grandma”

Small dog, big couch, big cone.

Small dog, big couch, big cone.

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Happy doggie!

Happy doggie!

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"Who are you and where am I?"

“Who are you and where am I?”

The girls

The girls

The farther out the tongue the more tired she is!

The farther out the tongue the more tired she is!

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Bully totem pole.

Bully totem pole.

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SO happy!

SO happy!

Operation Adoption

The best way to get a dog adopted is to get his (or her) face out in public. Luckily SNORT has a great website and very active social media accounts. Therefore, it’s my responsibility as foster mom to get lots and lots of great photos of Isaac, ship them off to SNORT and cross my fingers for the applications to roll in!

The weather hasn’t exactly been conducive to beautiful outdoor shots but today after work, the sun was still out, it was relatively warm and some of the snow had melted (as evidenced by the mud that came home with Isaac) so I dragged Marty on my daily after-dinner walk with Isaac so I could snap away!
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Not Good

He’s back…

I got a call from Isaac’s new mom last Thursday night that he had growled at an elderly lady on one of their walks yesterday and it shook his mom up. I wasn’t there so I don’t know the details; Isaac never actually physically touched or harmed the woman and while it was made to seem unprovoked, most dogs don’t get that angry over nothing. What may have appeared unprovoked to a human may have been very provoked in the mind of a dog. Again, I have no real idea what happened so I’m not going to waste time creating scenarios in my head that either excuse or blame Isaac. I do know it was dark which could easily have been at least a partial explanation.

What is fact, though, is that Isaac will not be staying in what was supposed to be his forever home; he is going to be removed and put back in foster care.

The obvious assumption is that he’s coming back to live with us. And he is. But contrary to popular belief, that is not how I wanted this to play out.

At least one of us is happy.

At least one of us is happy.

Let me say this flat out – Lucy is my number one priority. Since Isaac has been gone, her personality has been night and day. I had forgotten how energetic, active and mobile she really is. With Isaac around, she was either stuck on the couch or fearful of spending too long on the floor for fear that the hump monster would attack. I’m fully aware it seems like a minor and lighthearted problem, but it’s absolutely not. My dad even said he didn’t think the humping could have possibly been that big of an issue until he saw Isaac in action and Lucy’s fear of Isaac. Isaac is persistent and not to be stopped, no matter the punishment (timeout, a water bottle spritzed in the face, a swat on the bum, etc.).

In short, this sucks. This really, really sucks. I’m not sure if I can adequately express how much stress this has caused me. I’m tired and irritable 24/7. It’s been really fun for Marty.

I know it is not Isaac’s fault that he needs to return to foster care but it also isn’t Lucy’s fault, either, and I don’t feel as if she should have to deal with Isaac again. But Isaac has to go somewhere; his owner wanted him out ASAP and there literally aren’t any other choices since no other dog-free foster homes are available or want to take Isaac. And of course I love Isaac; selfishly I want him back but it simply isn’t fair to Lucy.

"I most definitely was not consulted on this decision."

“I most definitely was not consulted on this decision.”

Hopefully we find him his real forever home soon.

Life

This blog has been quiet the past few days and that’s because life has been very busy but uneventful. I lost my full-time assistant maybe a month ago? Five, six weeks ago? Anyway, I am currently a one-man shop covering 23 varsity sports during crossover season (i.e. the end of the winter season and the beginning of the spring season when those seasons overlap by a few weeks).

Stressful and busy don’t being to describe work right now and combined with some outside work issues, life is stressful. I’m tired all the time, super irritable and have limited patience. But one day at a time, right? I should have a new assistant within the next few weeks and a few weeks gets me that much closer to summer. :-)

Lucy can't wait until summer either.

Lucy can’t wait until summer either.

I’m still trying to be a relatively functioning adult which means doing adult things instead of crawling into bed like I want to. One of those adult things was giving Lucy a LONG overdue bath. Fun times for both of us.

Rub-a-dub-dub, Lucy in the tub!

Rub-a-dub-dub, Lucy in the tub!

The minute her collar comes off she knows it’s bath time but she never moves fast enough to get away from me. I lugged all 42, 43, 44 (God, I hope she doesn’t weight that much or the vet will kill me) pounds of her upstairs and plopped her in the tub. She actually wasn’t bad this time. Normally she tries to escape but this time she just stood there, resigned to her fate, slightly shaking.
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Her birthday is in just six days (!!). But with birthdays come annual checkups and I have a sneaking suspicion she needs to drop some weight. Unfortunately, the weather has been beyond horrible so we’re not getting out for walks, not that she walks anyway. So we’ve been playing fetch inside and I’ve been swapping out some of her treats with carrots which she appears to like as much as regular treats. Weird dog.