36 Hours of Thanks

Phew, what a whirlwind of a Thanksgiving!

Their looks say it all - they are TIRED!

Their looks say it all – they are TIRED!

We left Selinsgrove early Thanksgiving morning and made the 3 1/2 hour trip to South Jersey to spend the day and night with Marty’s family. It was Snowy’s first long roadtrip with us and her first time taking an overnight trip!

As usual, Lucy was in her prime as she loves Marty’s family and Thanksgiving because that means people food!

Overseeing everything!

Overseeing everything!

Snowy was a real trooper. She was understandably freaked out; let’s just say it took a lot of convincing to even get her inside Marty’s parent’s house! And once she was in it took a while for her to settle in. In fact, she wouldn’t even leave her bed to eat dinner so we fed her in bed. Yes, she got served dinner in bed.

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However, once the people food was brought out and she got a few nibbles of turkey she warmed up quite quickly! Marty’s brother also brought over his dog Ramzee later in the evening so the girls got to meet him. Ramzee is old and can’t see or hear but the girls did very well with him!

Lucy and Ramzee

Lucy and Ramzee

By the time company left, we had two incredibly tired (and stuffed!) doggies!

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The next morning Snowy was back to her usual self – she greeted me in the morning with her normal “hoppy” dance (but still insisted on eating breakfast in bed – I think she was just milking us for all she could at that point).

Buuut, just when she was getting comfy we threw her for another loop; early Friday morning we packed up the car and made the two-plus hour trip up to my family in Northern New Jersey to spend the afternoon.

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Stop. Taking. My. Picture.

Stop. Taking. My. Picture.

Yup, still eating in bed.

Yup, still eating in bed.

Lucy is still scared of my dad so of course Snowy then became frightened of my dad but by the end of our visit both were letting him pet them and of course both doggies loved my mom! My mom and I took both dogs for a nice, but cold, walk around our neighborhood and they really enjoyed themselves. My mom is a big walker and if my parents ever get another dog, she wants one she can walk several times a day (we grew up with a chocolate Labrador my mom walked all the time). I tried to showcase how well Snowy walked and how much energy she had to prove she would be a perfect fit for my parents but I don’t think they’re on board. Yet. 🙂

We left my parents’ house around 6:30 and got back home a little after nine last night. As the first picture indicates, both dogs are still exhausted – a Thanksgiving hangover, if you will!

Lots more to write about in regards to the logistics of our trip (let’s just say I was a nervous wreck traveling with two dogs, one of which is in heat and has a propensity to use carpets as her bathroom) but for now, we hope everyone had as fabulous a Thanksgiving as we did!

Happy Thanksgiving from the Seat Hog and Grumpy Dog!

Happy Thanksgiving from the Seat Hog and Grumpy Dog!

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We’re Halfway There

Hey, I’m from Jersey…I had to work a Bon Jovi reference in somehow 🙂

Anyway, despite having Snowy for almost three months now, we’re still trying to figure out how to get Snowy housetrained. For a few weeks we were accident-free both at night and during the day, so I thought we’d turned the corner but for the past 10 days, Snowy has reverted to having accidents overnight and while we’re at work.

I do think that her being in heat is partly to blame – she is definitely marking more and I guess she figures if she’s going to mark our carpet she may as well take a crap, too. However, I also think separation anxiety plays a big part, too. While she doesn’t get anxious or whine and pace while either of us gets ready to leave, she really only has accidents when no one is home.

At night, an easy solution would be to have her sleep in our bed to ease the separation anxiety but I will not let any dog sleep in our bed, so this is the solution I came up with:

A dog bed next to a human bed

A dog bed next to a human bed

The first night we tried this setup it took an hour of putting Snowy in her own bed, having her hop up on our bed, me putting her back in her bed, etc., etc. After an hour or so, though, she seemed to get used to the idea that she had her own bed and could be near us at the same time.

The outcome? Accident free nights (so far…)!

As the title of this post states, though, we’re only halfway there. I’m still coming home at lunchtime to messes. We tried a doggie diaper but our little escape artist managed to weasel her way out of the diaper. My hope? The doggie undies we’re getting from S.N.O.R.T. should be much, much harder for her to get off, so we’ll keep those on during the day. I’m optimistic that she’ll keep her undies clean, cementing my belief it is indeed separation anxiety, and eventually we can wean her off them.

Sigh. I’m so sick of pee and poop talk. At least she’s being super cute lately.

It's safe to say Marty is becoming her new favorite.

It’s safe to say Marty is becoming her new favorite.

There’s a First Time for Everything

For the first time ever, I diapered a dog.

Lucy is almost as confused as Snowy.

Lucy is almost as confused as Snowy.

There is more than one reason we had to go this route. First of all, Snowy’s in heat. S.N.O.R.T. ordered us a very cute pair of doggie undies but they obviously haven’t arrived yet and things are getting a bit messier so I bought a package of doggie diapers at PetSmart (**updated to add: I came home from work tonight and Snowy had managed to remove her diaper 😦 **)

Reason #2: Snowy has reverted back to peeing and pooping in the house, mostly overnight, but occasionally during the day (like today). I reached out to S.N.O.R.T. to get some help; I successfully housetrained two dogs so I’d like to think I have a bit of experience but I cannot get Snowy housetrained!!

One volunteer suggested that separation anxiety might be the cause of the messes and there could be some validity to that. She primarily pees and poops when we’re not home or are upstairs sleeping, but there are the occasional times she’ll make a mess in another room while we’re home. Still, not ruling it out.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a solution! If we crate her, she barks (and doesn’t stop. Trust me.) and because we live in an apartment, we can’t let her bark it out. Second, if we let her upstairs at night, she’ll sleep on our bed. Even if we put a dog bed on the floor she’ll hop right up into our big, comfy bed (no one said she was dumb) and I draw the line at sleeping in the same bed as my dog. Third, we do have to work during the day but crating her is ruled out and I can’t bring her to work.

Those eyes kill me...she's so sad

Those eyes kill me…she’s so sad

One suggested solution to the problem was creating a sort of pen for her; something that doesn’t feel like a crate to her but small enough that it might discourage her from soiling where she spends the day while we’re working. I think it’s a very logical next logical step. It would give me flexibility to move the pen around and try a few different spots – for instance, if she wants to be in the same room as Lucy, in a separate room, etc. Heck, I’ll even pen them together if they want!

Anyway, the reason for all this bathroom talk lately (which no one wants to stop having to think about more than me) is that holiday travel is less than a week away and I’m more than mildly freaking out! We HAVE to come up with a solution or else my family is not going to welcome us home with a dog that makes constant messes and I don’t blame them. We cannot kennel her as she is a foster dog and not our own; plus, I love traveling with my dogs! Neither of our families has met Snowy yet and pooping aside, they are going to love her!

I bought this pen today after work, we’ll set it up tonight and then see how it goes:

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As a side note, I got home from work last night around 9:30 and Snowy was making a mess everywhere (don’t get me started on the fact that Marty was home with her while I was at work and yet it went unnoticed she was tracking blood everywhere!). PetSmart was closed so I couldn’t run out to get anything so we grabbed an old pair of Marty’s boxers and put them on Snowy. I was doubled over in laughter from both her insane cuteness and her look of utter disgust. She was not amused. Honestly though, it was hilariously adorable but when I went to take a picture Marty stopped me.

“You can’t put a picture of her in men’s boxers on the internet. It’s not fair to her.”

And he accuses me of treating the dogs like people??

I’m a Horrible Puppy Parent

Boy do I feel like crap tonight.

So, Snowy is in heat. At least, I’m 99.9% sure she’s in heat. It’s not nearly as…messy (yet) as I’d imagined it would be but because the holidays are coming up and we’re traveling to visit with our families, we cannot have any messes. Therefore, we’re getting some cute little undies for Snowy from S.N.O.R.T. I’m partial to the Aloha pair in red even though they’re not exactly season-appropriate 🙂

Anyway, in order for S.N.O.R.T. to order them I had to measure Snowy’s back because that’s the longest/largest part they have to fit. When I got home today, I pulled the tape measure out of the junk drawer, walked into the living room and Snowy proceeded to flip the heck out. She was absolutely petrified. She ran away from me and all the way upstairs. I felt like utter crud.

The evil tape measure

The evil tape measure

I dropped the tape measure and ran upstairs and she was literally cowering next to my bed. She was panting and so, so frightened. So then I felt like something worse than crud. I obviously had no idea a tape measure would cause her to be so frightened but I feel horribly. I sat with upstairs with her for five minutes calming her down and eventually she followed me back downstairs where Lucy promptly gave her kisses on her ear and seemed very concerned.

Now Snowy’s just lying on the floor. 😦

Sad Snowy

Sad Snowy

Snowy is normally so well-adjusted it’s easy to forget that we really don’t know the conditions from which she came. She was neglected, obviously, and while I like to think (or pray) she didn’t suffer physical abuse, after events like this evening I’m not so sure.

Spa Day

Ok, the title is 100% misleading. The “spa” was Petsmart and it was more like 20 minutes than a day. But, earlier this week, I took the doggies to Petsmart for some nail trimming.

Lucy I knew wouldn’t be any problem. She’s had her nails ground down at least four or five times and while I wouldn’t say she loves it, she certainly soaks up the attention and treats she gets from the staff afterwards.

I took Snowy along for the trip figuring that it wouldn’t hurt to try and get her nails filed down. I figured worst case was that if she freaked out, no harm no foul. The pads of her paws are very puffy and swollen (thank you, puppy mill) and so it takes her nails a very long time to grow long enough to really touch the ground. But, she hadn’t had them filed down since we got her so I thought we’d give it a shot.

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She kind of had to be (gently) dragged along the floor but they did get her to the table and heaved her up there. Of course, she was facing the wrong way (but apparently really liked looking at herself in the mirror!) but they turned her around and got to work.

The staff said she was very good and she definitely was, but I think honestly she was too scared to put up any sort of a fight. That’s very common with puppy mill dogs or dogs that have been abused; they “pancake,” or flatten themselves onto the ground and almost seem to go inside themselves and ignore everything around them. While Snowy certainly didn’t go that far, I do think she was too nervous and confused to fight the process.

Good news is, though, she got her nails cut and she (and Lucy) got lots of treats afterwards.

All in all, I was very proud of her. She’s going to have to have her nails filed down every few months so I’m glad the experience went as smoothly as I could have asked!

Throwback Thursday

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This photo was taken in May of 2012 the day we brought Lucy home from the breeder to her new, forever home. My mother had made the trip to Philly and back with me that day and looking at this photo always brings back a flood of memories from the past several years. In May of 2011 my mom suffered a massive stroke; below is an essay I wrote for the National Stroke Association’s website just several months after her stroke.

Struggling to Find the Words

“I love you.”

Those words, spoken by my mother, have never meant more to me than they do today. The reason? A massive stroke that left my mom struggling to speak.

With a career in college athletics, “free” weekends aren’t exactly in my vocabulary. So when I got a phone call from my dad on a sunny Saturday afternoon, April 30, 2011 to be exact, I was in the middle of working a lacrosse doubleheader. His phone call happened to come at halftime and I figured he was just calling to say hello, so I picked up.

Turns out, he wasn’t calling to catch up.

“Katie, your mother had a massive stroke early this morning.”

I know when some people get traumatic news, they remember nothing. I remember everything. Where I was standing—in the middle of the field while the teams warmed up around me. What I said—“no, she didn’t.”

I remember wandering aimlessly around the field while my dad filled in the details: my mom had suffered a stroke in the early morning hours but no one knew until she failed to wake up the next morning. She had been suffering from a bad cold so when my dad woke up, he left her sleeping. He eventually got concerned that she was sleeping so late so he went to check on her. That’s when he found her lying on the ground beside the bed, a large cut on her face from a fall out of bed, and unresponsive.

I told my dad I’d get home as soon as I could. In fact, I was ready to jump in my car right then and drive home to my parents’ house in New Jersey. And then I remembered I was stuck at work.

I had to pull myself together long enough to finish the first game and find someone to replace me for the second game. Somehow, and this is where things got blurry, I found workers to fill in. I called my boyfriend, whom I also work with and who also was at his own athletic event hours away to fill him in.

I’ll never forget that his first words were to ask if I wanted him to come home and drive with me to New Jersey. That nearly did me in, especially since we had only been dating a few months, but I held back the tears and told him I’d be fine and would call him later.

As I walked off the field to head home to quickly throw together a bag of clothes, the tears started and didn’t stop for the entire two-and-a-half-hour drive home, which has never, ever felt longer.

My brother met me at home and together we drove to the ICU. We found my mother’s room and that’s when I felt the worst kind of pain I’d ever felt. My mother, my best friend, was pale as a sheet, lying on the hospital bed with a neck brace strapped on, tubes helping her breathe, IVs covering her arms, machines insistently beeping and a large, red scrape across her right cheek.

All I remember is absolutely breaking down. I’ve never cried that hard in my life. Looking back on it, I wish I’d been able to handle that scene better, but crying was the only reaction I had.

When I was younger, I’d sometimes felt embarrassed that I considered my mother my best friend, but ultimately I know I’m lucky. Before her stroke, we talked nearly every day starting the day I went away to college and as recently as the day before she had the stroke. There was nothing I couldn’t tell her, nothing about which I couldn’t ask for her advice. We could spend afternoons talking, shopping or doing nothing at all. I considered going home to New Jersey to spend a week with my parents my yearly vacation because I am genuinely at my happiest there; that’s where I am “me.”

So, my biggest fear immediately after the stroke wasn’t that my mom might be physically impaired or that she would have a long road of recovery ahead of her (that part was a given). It was that she might never remember me and what I am to her. And for a while I convinced myself, pessimist that I am, that she wouldn’t. During those days in the ICU, and even after she was moved to a regular room, she couldn’t speak, was barely awake for more than a few minutes at a time and could not give any indication she was aware of her surroundings and who was in her room.

The improvements were so gradual they were easy to miss, but my mom started to stay awake for longer stretches and began trying to get sounds out. Eventually she was moved to a rehab clinic for inpatient therapy—physical, occupational and speech.

She learned to walk again and to use her left hand to better compensate for the damage done to her right arm and hand. But speech was the slowest to improve; she so badly wanted to talk but just could not get the words out.

Several months after the stroke, she was home from rehab and back at my childhood house taking her daily walks, making herself meals and visiting with friends at our house. But none of that meant as much to me as when she finally uttered “I love you” one night during a call home. It was so unexpected I found myself sobbing yet again (something that had become a trend over the past months).

It’s not still easy for me to comprehend what happened. Nights are the worst for me. Partly because I can’t shut down my brain and partly because I can’t help but wonder if my mom knew she was having a stroke that night but couldn’t do anything about it.

But every day she keeps at it, keeps trying to put more and more words together and I could not be prouder of her, something that as a daughter I never thought I’d feel. Speech still doesn’t come easy to her and chances are it never will. A full-fledged conversation may never happen; it’s all a waiting game. But the one thing I hoped for most came true—she remembered me and remembered what I meant to her and what she means to me.

I love you too, Mommy.

Today, my mother still cannot hold a conversation. Yes, she can get words out but lengthy conversations aren’t feasible and it’s not always possible to pick up on her train of thought. Her writing also lacks the ability to put coherent sentences together which is incredibly frustrating for her. She knows what she wants to say or write but cannot say or write the words the way they are in her head.

I realize this is a bulldog blog but my mother’s stroke forever changed our family. What it didn’t change, though, was my closeness with my mom. There was no one else I would have wanted to make that trip to Philly with me to bring Lucy home and there’s no one else I’d rather leave my dogs with than my mom. She lights up around my dogs (both Lucy and foster doggies!) and truly loves having them around. Every time I call home she always asks about the dogs and puts up with me when I show her an unending stream of doggie pictures.

Not sure where this post was going other than to say that the photos of Lucy and my mom always bring a smile to face, something that hasn’t been easy for the past couple of years.

Lucy and her "grandma"

Lucy and her “grandma”

Odds and Ends

First, Lucy the Good Luck Charm strikes again! The girls made another appearance at Saturday’s men’s soccer championship game and the Crusaders won the title for the second-straight year (coincidence? I think not!) and will be making another trip to the NCAA Tournament.

The first round game is only about an hour and 20 minutes from here but because I have to attend the game for work purposes and Marty is out of town on Saturday and can’t bring them, I don’t think they can make the trip with me to the game. Let’s hope the team doesn’t lose without them there!

Second, Snowy has perfected the art of sleeping (and snoring) while sitting up:

Really, truly asleep

Really, truly asleep

Third, Snowy’s food bowl never winds up in the same spot where it started at meal time.

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The bowl started all the way back in the kitchen but every day it winds up in the living room.

Finally, Snowy’s name is not indicative of how she feels about snow. We got a few flurries (emphasis on “few”) this morning and this about sums up how she feels:

"I see the flakes, Mom. I'm not moving."

“I see the flakes, Mom. I’m not moving.”

Finally got her outside and she kept one eye on the door at all times.

Finally got her outside and she kept one eye on the door at all times.

It’s going to be a long winter if a few flakes on the ground causes this much drama!

Go SU!

Exactly one year later and Lucy has again resumed her role of good luck charm for the Susquehanna men’s soccer team but this year she has a new sidekick!

She was happier once she got to the field!

She was happier once she got to the field!

Our men’s soccer team is again in the playoffs and will have hosted two playoff games by the time the weekend ends. Last year the soccer team did not lose at home in the postseason (four games in total, including two NCAA games) and guess who just happened to attend all four games? That’s right, Lucy!

Last night SU hosted a semifinal game and along with Lucy, Snowy made her first-ever SU soccer match appearance. Since my job requires me to work home games, I wasn’t able to spend the game with Marty and the dogs but told Marty that if handling two dogs in the crowd was too much I would take one of the dogs into the pressbox. Well I’m happy to report Lucy and Snowy were perfect spectators!

I visited them during halftime and they were having a blast! They were getting so much attention – they were dressed in their SU jerseys so they looked particularly adorable! – and were being very well-behaved despite the large, rowdy crowd.

I’m pretty sure they stayed for almost the entire game and were feeling it this morning:

Snowy likes to sleep sitting up.

Snowy likes to sleep sitting up.

We host the championship match on Saturday night which promises to be even more crowded and hectic than Thursday’s game, but Marty says he plans on taking the dogs. If he doesn’t and they lose, it proves Lucy (and Snowy) is indeed a good luck charm!

Knock on Wood

This little stinker:

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Might, might be getting the hang of this housetraining thing. For roughly the past two weeks, we’ve made some significant progress with Snowy. First, she’s going more often when she’s outside. What I mean by that is we used to take her out every time we took Lucy out but only very rarely would Snowy do her business; most of the time she’d just stand there licking grass. Now, however, almost every time we take her out she actually does something.

Second, we have had FAR fewer accidents in the house. We went about an entire week late last month without a single accident. I didn’t post about it because I didn’t want to jinx anything although that ended being for naught because, for some reason, she started using the carpet as her own personal bathroom again for a few days early last week. But, since this past weekend, we’re back on a streak of no accidents.

Don’t ask me what’s caused the turnaround and if you check back in a week we might very well be back at square one, but compared to the first weeks that we had her, there are definite signs of progress.

Hey, are you writing about my bathroom habits again??

Hey, are you writing about my bathroom habits again??

We desperately need to get her 100% housetrained because the holidays are right around the corner and if we’re going to visit family she needs to be housetrained or we’ll be spending the holidays by our lonesome!