Feelings of Guilt

Things have been quiet around here lately because things are anything but quiet at work. The fall student-athletes reported for preseason almost two weeks ago, classes started Monday the 26th and we have seven home games spanning this Friday and Saturday, all of which I have to work. And that doesn’t include all the road contests I have to write about.

Repeat that process until May.

So, it’s about this time of year I start to feel guilty because I see a lot less of this face:

"Are you abandoning me?"

“Are you abandoning me?”

And we have a lot less time to play:

One of Lucy's three beloved Kongs

One of Lucy’s three beloved Kongs

I will not deny that I am a crazy dog lady. I do not have children and the way my life is going, I’m not going to have children any time soon, if ever. That’s certainly not why I got Lucy – to fill that hole – but because I don’t have children, Lucy means a lot to me.

Professionally speaking, these haven’t been an easy past couple of years and when you combine that with the hours I work, it makes it very difficult to spend so many hours away from Lucy; “guilt” would be an understatement.

I also struggle with sometimes feeling selfish for even getting Lucy in the first place. I got her when I had this job and worked the same hours I do now so this isn’t a new development. I guess combined with some overall unhappiness with life in general, the feelings of guilt and selfishness seem magnified this year.

I don’t know exactly where this post is going except to say yes, I am a crazy dog lady; yes, Lucy is just fine on her own but yes, I do feel both guilty and selfish.

Hopefully she forgives me and just to help that process along, Lucy will be getting extra treats, extra toys and more than extra attention!

It’s a Good Thing She’s Cute

…because it’s always something with this dog!

"What do you mean I'm a lot of work, Mom?"

“What do you mean I’m a lot of work, Mom?”

Lucy’s been on allergy meds for probably just under a month now. For a while I thought it was lessening the amount of time she spent chewing her paws and while it may still be slightly better, she’s definitely still a paw eater. Of course, according to the weather channel, pollen counts have been quite high in this area for a while now, so that could be why she still attacks her feet from time to time.

However, we now have a new problem:

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It was next to impossible to get a good picture of Lucy’s leg – the above photo was the best I could do. About four days ago I noticed small bumps on her leg (I know the picture makes it look more like hives, but when you look at her skin they’re definitely small red bumps) so I obviously freaked out. However, Lucy didn’t actually seem to notice them at all! I pressed on them and when she didn’t have a reaction pressed a little harder – still nothing. They don’t seem to itch as she continues to just eat/lick her paws, not her leg.

I gave her a few doses of benadryl which had no affect on her bumps, so I’m kind of at a loss. Every morning I wake up and hope the mysterious bumps are gone, but no such luck, which means we may have to make a trip to the vet yet again. Unfortunately, I have to unexpectedly make a trip to N.J. tomorrow through Monday so I can’t make an appointment for Monday and this week things really get busy at work with seven home games in two days.

Luckily Lucy doesn’t appear to be in any discomfort and everything else is normal – appetite, etc., so hopefully she’ll be okay until I can carve out some time to get to the vet.

Any dog owners out there have any idea what these bumps may be??

Selective Memory

I was going through old pictures the other day and stumbled on a bunch from Cindy’s first few days with us.

As we were getting ready to send Cindy (whose new name is Nellie) to her forever home, Marty kept telling me what a good foster mom I had been, saying that Cindy had come a long way and it was because of my care. I brushed him off; in my mind, Cindy had been easy from the start. She was a sweet, sweet dog who had minimal needs – just a couch, food and a hand to pet her (and not stop!).

But in looking through the pictures, I realized Cindy did come a long way in the six months we had her (although I maintain that given her background, she obviously had an inherently sweet disposition and was a fighter. No dog who isn’t innately sweet and strong would come out of that situation as well as she did, no matter what care they receive after escaping a puppy mill).

Bringing Cindy home

Bringing Cindy home

Blurry, but you can see she was just cowering in her cage.

Blurry, but you can see she was just cowering in her cage.

It really didn’t take long to see her personality start to shine through but physically it was a long (and not-so-pretty) road.

You can see her wrinkles were so red they were almost black.

You can see her wrinkles were so red they were almost black.

Some diligent cleaning, filtered drinking water and quality food quickly erased those tear-stained wrinkles.

She also had a leaky private area. For the first month-plus, we had to keep her in the cage when we were gone in part because she leaked goo all over the place; I should have bought stock in baby wipes during that time! I still have a stain in the trunk of my car from her drips. The cause wasn’t anything serious, most likely an infection or remnants from her final litter and she was treated with antibiotics, so I really didn’t think twice about wiping her; Marty told me not everyone would “wipe a dog’s hoo-hah” but it was simply what had to be done.

Cindy also had dry eye so she accumulated some impressive eye gunk that had to be cleaned out several times a day, even with the eye drops she was given.

I don’t write all of this to pat myself on the back – not at all. There are many, many people who do more than I did with Cindy. It just occurred to me that in the midst of caring for Cindy I really didn’t think about what I was doing. I don’t know how anyone wouldn’t want to do whatever needed to be done for this face:

Smiles

Smiles

It’s funny the things we remember and the things we block out; to be honest, I had completely forgotten about Cindy’s leaking until Marty had mentioned it. Knowing the type of environment from which she came, though, it was impossible for me to deny her anything, from attention to care, no matter what that care entailed.

I don’t think I ever once got frustrated with her, even when she wouldn’t eat out of a bowl or leaked in my car, and that’s saying a lot. Patience is not a trait I possess but I found myself incapable of getting frustrated with Cindy. It’s one of the reasons, I think, that I’d be willing to foster again down the road. Besides the obvious saving of a dog’s life, it teaches me patience and I know I get as much out of fostering as the dog does.

Lucy and Dude, Sitting in a Tree…

Since Tuesday I’ve been on my own with Lucy. Marty left to work at an annual running camp in the Poconos and won’t be back until this weekend. Unfortunately for Lucy, her favorite owner (Marty) is the one who left and she’s stuck with her least favorite owner (me) for the week.

I could tell she was a bit sad this week and since the weather yesterday and today has been on the cooler side, at least as far as August goes, I thought I’d take her for a trip to the dog park after work today.

Well, just our luck and who was there? Another bulldog named Dude (whose name I LOVE)! We’ve actually met Dude before on a handful of occasions during his walks in our neighborhood- Cindy took a particular liking to him – but we hadn’t seen him in several months.

So it was a bulldog party at the dog park today!

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Do NOT let this picture fool you! Dude is not fixed and he spent the entire time very, ahem, excited, that Lucy was there and pretty much chased her everywhere!

Lucy was on guard the entire time.

Lucy was on constant guard.

I have to hand it to him, he was persistent!

I have to hand it to him, he was persistent!

It was hard to get a photo of them because they didn’t stop running around the entire time.

Two cuties!

Two cuties!

And this was the aftermath:

Either tired or missing Dude.

Either tired or missing Dude.

Sadly, I found out that Dude’s family is looking to find a new home for him (and this family is actually his second family; he was given to them from a family friend when he was about a year). They have a lot of kids (three boys, from what I counted at the park today!) and all of them are involved in sports so the family feels badly they don’t have the time for Dude that he deserves. I told her that S.N.O.R.T. gladly accepts any short-nosed dogs who are in need of finding new homes for whatever reason so maybe Dude’s family will look into that option since they said they hadn’t had much luck yet in finding him a new family.

Looks like today may have been Lucy and Dude’s first and last date!

A Lunchtime Surprise

Every day I come home for lunch to let Lucy out and spend some time with her (and eat my own lunch!). Most days are pretty routine – I come home, we go outside, Lucy does her business and we spend some time roaming around the yard if it’s nice out. Then we come inside, Lucy eats her peanut butter (I slather some on her Kong), I eat my own lunch then we sit together on the couch watching What Not to Wear.

Not a bad little routine.

Sometimes, though, that routine doesn’t go as planned; I have a lunch meeting, it’s raining, or…Lucy gets sick.

Probably licking vomit off her nose.

Probably licking vomit off her nose.

I knew this was coming when Lucy grabbed her stuffed toy out of the closet while we had it open for literally a few seconds yesterday. There’s a reason the stuffed toy is hidden away – Lucy eats it. Literally. I’ve begged Marty to just throw it out but he didn’t and so she grabbed it. And before we could stop her, she’d eaten pieces of it, including some of its stuffing.

So today I took her out and her stuffed toy proceeded to exit out both ends. Let’s just say I didn’t have much an appetite for my lunch.

Sick, pathetic Lucy

Sick, pathetic Lucy

Now, most dog owners probably wouldn’t be too terribly worried, right? Obviously whatever she ate was no longer in her system. However, growing up we had a lab who routinely ate things she wasn’t supposed to and twice had to have surgery to remove foreign objects from her stomach. So, I think it’s pretty understandable that I get a tad worried.

Fortunately Lucy seems to be feeling a tad better. Not great – she’s lacking her usual pep and energy – but she seems to have regained control of her bodily fluids.

So now we’re on a diet of rice and bouillon that so far is staying down. Knock on wood.

Yum

Yum

And on that note, Happy Monday!

I’d Finally Had Enough (Dog Cleaning 101)

Our apartment just isn’t that big, but as anyone who owns a dog will know, a dog has a way of inching its way into every space, corner and crevice in a home – I find hair in my food, drool marks on the couch, blades of grass on the carpet brought in from Lucy’s paws, etc., etc.

The grass is easily taken care of – it’s called a vacuum. There’s really not much I can do about the hair; despite my hate for this phrase, “it is what it is.” I vacuum pretty frequently, dust the hard surfaces and use this fabulous tool on the carpet:

I guess Lucy doesn't want me to clean?

I guess Lucy doesn’t want me to clean?

This was one of those total impulse buys turned turns out to be one of the best purchases I’ve made! It’s essentially a scraper for the carpet and despite using this at least once a week on the carpets in our living areas, I scrape up at least another small dog’s worth of hair every single time. Kind of fascinating in a weird way.

The drool, however? Major thorn in my side. I never wanted Lucy to be a couch dog but she is and there’s no going back now. Unfortunately, she drools in her sleep and chews her toys on the couch so it is now a cess pool of (crusty) drool. Basically, it’s just plain nasty. I couldn’t stand to sit on it, let alone let visitors sit on it. And we can’t put a blanket down because a certain 18-month old bulldog likes to eat blankets.

This weekend I’d finally had enough. I was sick of sitting on a couch encrusted in drool so I did what everyone does when they have a problem; I Googled the shit out of it.

Our couch is a microfiber couch:

An "after" shot after the second cleaning of the weekend.

An “after” shot following the second cleaning of the weekend.

And Google said rubbing alcohol would solve all my problems. According to what I read, all I had to do was spritz the couch with rubbing alcohol and use a neutral-covered sponge to rub all the nastiness out of it.

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So, Lucy was designated to the floor while I cleaned the couch…twice.

Sad Lucy

Sad Lucy

Verdict? I think it’s helping. It’s not perfect but that’s also part of the beauty of microfiber; it’s similar to suede in its feel and texture so it’s not supposed to look perfectly even-colored. The water/drool stains seem to be just about gone so if nothing else, I feel as if I can now actually sit on my own couch without contracting a disease (I’m joking…sort of).

In more interesting news, my parents came out to visit this weekend and Lucy was semi-normal (for her) around my dad. She adores my mom and seems to be more receptive to my dad in her own territory. Baby steps, baby steps.

My parents’ visit was much needed (for me) as it will be the last time I see them for entirely too long. It’s pretty obvious I am very close with my family; I’ve had a lot of things on my mind for the past year-plus and seeing them always puts me in a better frame of mind. It’s too bad that with my job I can’t see them more frequently.

I think Lucy misses them, too.

"Why did they have to leave?"

“Why did they have to leave?”

A Weekend in South Jersey

This past weekend was one of the highlights of the summer for Lucy (and for us!). For the second year in a row, Marty, Lucy and I all piled into my car to make the trip to South Jersey for a weekend with Marty’s family. Marty was competing in the Brigantine Triathlon again and this year his sister hosted a graduation/college send-off for Marty’s niece so it was a fun-filled weekend!

As usual Lucy was a tremendous traveler.

Safe, but not happy, in her cage.

Safe, but not happy, in her cage.

I do feel badly that she’s stuck in the cage, but when Marty and I both travel she obviously has to move to the backseat. And, while she’s a great traveler, I do not trust her to have free reign of the entire backseat for 3 1/2 hours!

This year I opted not to bring Lucy to the triathlon. Last summer it was 95 degrees and while this year was cooler, Lucy can also hold her bladder for longer than she could as a wee little puppy last year. It’s also just not easy for me to catch Marty on various parts of the course while trying to control a social (and strong!) dog.

After Marty’s race (where he won his age group and was the fourth overall male!), we packed Lucy up to make an appearance at the graduation party. Unfortunately Lucy only stayed about an hour and a half or so; it was raining, which meant we couldn’t run her ragged in the yard, and Marty and I decided that we’d drop her back at his parents’ house then head back to the party without having to worry about occupying Lucy.

For the limited time she was there, though, she had a blast!

"Catching" the raindrops

“Catching” the raindrops

Marty caught her antics on video.

Surprisingly Lucy was not as tired on Sunday as we thought she’d be. Don’t get me wrong, she was pooped on Saturday but by the time we got home on Sunday she still had some energy left and today (Monday) she’s back to her feisty self, playing with her new tennis ball thanks to Bubbie, Marty’s mom.

I am very thankful that Lucy is as great a traveler as she is. The drive to South Jersey is easily three and a half hours and not once did Lucy make so much as a peep. When we made pit stops she quickly did her business, we loaded her back in the car and were back on our way. She was happy as a clam at Marty’s parents’ house, playing with them, sleeping on the cushy, leather couch (!) and planting herself in the middle of all the action.

Pooped, but refusing to leave the action.

Pooped, but refusing to leave the action.

I honestly do not know what we’d do if she wasn’t such an easy dog with which to travel. None of our families live closer than two and a half hours, kennels are expensive and I do not want to kennel her every time we head to NJ for a simple weekend visit.

So, this past weekend probably marked the final fun weekend of travel until the holidays in November; I’d say we made the most of it!

Another Roadtrip!

This weekend Marty, Lucy and I will be making a trip to South Jersey in what will likely be our final roadtrip (non-work related) until the holidays. The trip is one that we’d probably take anyway because for the second year in a row Marty is racing in the Brigantine Triathlon which is just a few towns over from his parents’. However, this year we are also celebrating Marty’s niece’s high school graduation/college send-off.

Luckily, Lucy loves roadtrips!

Despite her look, she does love roadtrips!

Despite her look, she does love roadtrips!

I didn’t have this blog yet when we went down to the race last year but let’s just say that keeping a puppy occupied for 4-5 hours on a 90-degree day is not fun!

Lucy lasted approximately 10 seconds on the sand before she was removed (by me) because she was eating sand for breakfast.

Lucy lasted approximately 10 seconds on the sand before she was removed (by me) because she was eating sand for breakfast.

Don’t get me wrong, Lucy did tremendous, but I vividly remember Marty carrying her back to our car because she was so pooped out.

So on Saturday morning we’ll be awake at the ass-crack of dawn for Marty’s race, after which I’ll fit in a workout of my own and then we’ll head out for an afternoon of celebrating. Fortunately Marty’s sister and her family were more than happy to have Lucy join us in the celebration. They have a dog of their own – Diesel – so neither Marty nor I expect Lucy to be awake for most of Sunday (and probably most of Monday)!