Lucy Turns Six

Lucy turned six today. I haven’t a clue how (almost) six years have passed. She’s at the age where I’m now starting to look for signs of aging – gray hairs (she already has some), sleeping more (ha, that would be near impossible), stiff joints, etc. Six isn’t terribly old by dog standards but for a bulldog it’s certainly not young.

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Yeah, she could have used a larger size…

Lucy is the best decision I ever made. I brought her home when I was in a relationship, but I was the one who desperately wanted a bulldog, so I saved up, did my research, and brought Lucy home. Now that I’m no longer in a relationship, she means even more to me. I genuinely don’t know what I’d do if I went home to an empty apartment every night. As someone who suffers from depression and anxiety, I don’t think I’d be functioning very well if I didn’t have Lucy.

She has been such a trooper – she’s been through nine fosters, several doggie houseguests and one big move. It’s a lot and while she certainly has her bitchy moments, she’s been great through it all. I’ve been lucky to have such an easy dog; she was housetrained in two weeks, she’s always slept through the night, she never chews anything she shouldn’t, she knows where she’s allowed to sleep and not sleep, she’s great with all kids and adults, is great on car rides…I can literally bring her anywhere and know she’ll be fine. Except if she has to walk to get there…

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Pretty obvious this body doesn’t do much walking.

I’d have a lot more money saved if it weren’t for Lucy and I could not care less. She’s worth it 10 times over.

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So here are a few of my favorite Lucy pics:

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Baby Lucy!

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Hoppy!

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Bringing Lucy home

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I mean, come on! They were best buds.

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Fred Gets Surgery…Sort Of

Fred had his big day yesterday which ended up being only half a big day. He was scheduled for a neuter and a dental. At 13 years-old you’d think we’d just let him be, but because he wasn’t neutered, his prostate was significantly enlarged (which is normal in non-neutered dogs) and the neuter makes his quality of life better. Plus, since he was already going under for that, we wanted to do a dental. He has typically bad pug teeth; he was already missing more than a handful, several were loose and others were infected, dead, etc.

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Obligatory cute Fred photo

I dropped him off at 7:30 a.m. and just before 11:30 my vet called. I knew it was a bit early for him to be done with everything and I was right. Fred’s heart did not tolerate the anesthesia well; it would stop for five seconds or so, beat for five seconds, stop for five seconds, repeat. This started when the vet was halfway through Fred’s neuter, the first of the two procedures. They gave him some medicine that was supposed to regulate his heartbeat but it went right back to the start-stop-start activity, so my vet called it a day after finishing the neuter.

Obviously not having the dental done isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Don’t get me wrong, his teeth are bad and he may have some additional infected teeth down the road (he’s currently on antibiotics for several already infected teeth, in addition to the Lyme) but no way is he going back under anesthesia. If he’ll let me, I’ll try brushing his teeth but last time I tried he was NOT receptive to having me near his mouth.

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Even half the planned surgeries took a lot out of him

And now he will be listed for adoption, most likely this week. Twenty-four hours after surgery he was already largely back to his normal self. The thought of him leaving is bittersweet; I love this sweet old man, but I know he can find an ideal home to live out his golden years. A home where maybe someone is home all day or more frequently than I am. And he’s not super attached to me; his attention span is about five seconds max (except when it comes to Lucy) and so I know he will be happy almost anywhere. It makes me sad to see him moving on yet again at 13 years of age, but my normal reasons for not keeping a foster still stand. Lucy doesn’t adore him – although they are perfectly fine together, my finances need some tightening this coming year and I know if we can find a home with someone home more often, that’s a win for Fred.

I have such a soft spot for senior pugs and I’ve just loved having Fred around. Fortunately, he’s not going anywhere for at least the next few weeks.

Life with Fred (and Advice Needed)

It feels like Fred has been with me for ages (in a good way!) but it’s only been 12 days. He’s just fit in that easily. There aren’t a lot of updates; he is getting his neuter and dental the first week of March so until then, I’m just enjoying having him around.

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The only flaw he has is that he’s a barker – which is super common with pugs. He consistently stands at the patio doors and barks and barks and barks. It’s slightly aggravating in any situation but considering I live in an apartment complex with neighbors next to and above me, it’s something I’m hyper aware of. It’s difficult to train him because he cannot hear me, so verbal corrections aren’t an option. I did buy a spray bottle to spritz some water in his face when he barked but that was kind of a miss. Whenever he barked, he’d look over at me waiting for to spray him in the face – and continue to bark. So, he kind of got it – bark and there would be a reaction on my part. But it wasn’t enough of a negative reaction to deter him.

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I tried rewarding him with treats when he stopped barking but all he’d do is bark, stop for a treat, and go back to barking. And he’s not stupid – he knew when I had treats on me and when I didn’t. It probably would have worked if I’d given him more time, but I’m also gone during the day, missing key times to train him because that’s when he does most of his barking.

So, I opted to get frosted decals to stick onto the patio doors. It genuinely just about killed me because Fred simply loves staring out the patio doors. And 90 percent of the time, all he does is stare. But 10 percent of the time he barks nonstop and it’s just not fair to my neighbors. There are plenty of days I come for lunch and I find him sitting at the patio doors, just staring at the world outside, not making a peep, happy as a clam. But there are also days I come home and can hear him barking from the hallway.

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It seems so trivial, but it really did cause me a ridiculous amount of anguish to put the decals on. He is so happy watching his doggie TV during the day. But I think it was aggravating Lucy and I was paranoid neighbors were going to start complaining.

The verdict? So far so good. They have done what I had hoped they would do – limit his barking. It breaks a piece of my heart every time he goes over to the door and scratches on the decals, annoyed at the unknown object coming between him and his TV. I did cave and create a sliver of an opening down one side of one of the doors – it gives him a glimpse at the outside but with limited peripheral vision.

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I’ve just never seen a dog so fascinated by the outdoors which is what made this so hard.

Fellow dog owners, anyone deal with a similar scenario? Any advice or tips?

Fred Goes to the Vet

Sounds like the title to a children’s book! But that pretty much sums up Tuesday night.

We already knew Fred needs to be neutered and have a dental done but he also needed a thorough check-up before any surgery – we wanted to make sure his pneumonia was cleared up, his bloodwork was good, etc. So, I got him in to see my very favorite vet on Tuesday night.

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He’s definitely a stud.

What did we learn? Fred has Lyme. Not what I wanted to hear, but antibiotics and he’ll be good. He has ear infections – the antibiotics plus ear drops will solve that. Still a bit raspy in the chest so we did x-rays; chest x-rays were clear. Either he’s an extra snorty pug OR he has some scar tissue built up from his pneumonia. Either way, he’s clear for surgery since his bloodwork came back as “perfect.”

He was an absolute trooper. Because the appointment was directly after work, he got to hang out at the office with me for the afternoon. He was a BIG hit. Everyone just loved him and he was great. A little barky when I left my desk for more than 1-2 minutes but other than, just perfect. He got so much love and attention. Combined with the vet appointment, he was one tired dog, though!

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TAIT’s newest employee

We’re still figuring out when and where he’ll get his surgeries done but I’m in no rush; once he gets through surgery he should be cleared for adoption and considering I’ve fallen in love with him already, I am far from anxious for him to hit the available page.

Although I am anxious for him to be done with these antibiotics – they are seriously screwing with his stomach and let’s just say it hasn’t been pretty over here. I’m going to call the vet tomorrow and see if there’s a different antibiotic we can try because his stomach is just not happy!

Things are still going well so far, though – he fits right in and Lucy hasn’t made a run for it yet.

Name Change

So quick news first – Mugs has a new name! SNORT had a few too many pugs named Mugsy (or some variation of that name) so Mugs had to have a name change. I’ve gone with Fred – now I have a Lucy and a Fred from I Love Lucy! He’s deaf – he has no idea what anyone calls him anyway, so the name change isn’t a super big deal.

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Fred? Mugs? Makes zero difference to him.

Now, for some updates! We’re just about 48 hours into life with Fred. So far so good (knock on wood).

Absolutely 100 percent deaf, no questions. Can’t hear a thing.

He’s starting to break out the typical pug hops – hops when I come home, hops when it’s mealtime, hops when it’s treat time. Adorable. He is truly ecstatic when I come home – greatest feeling ever.

Fully housetrained (minus one accident tonight – I waited too long, totally my fault); no need for a belly band, although I kept one on him today while I was at work since he wasn’t alone for long stretches yesterday – today he went 4-5 hours while I’m at work (I come home for lunch), so I wanted to be sure there were no accidents while I was at work (spoiler alert – there weren’t!).

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He is a little escape artist! Give him a millimeter of space between a door opening and his shoulders and he’s gone! Of course, he’s on a leash but I do have to take both dogs out at once; if I try to leave him inside while I take Lucy out, he’ll find a way to wiggle out the patio door. Leaving through the front door is interesting, to say the least!

Like most pugs, he’s a barker. Unfortunately, verbal corrections don’t do anything. I picked up a spray bottle after work today; hopefully a quick spritz in the face when he (unnecessarily) barks will work. I hesitate to do treat-based training – he doesn’t need to put weight on!

Nighttime is going well; he sleeps in my bedroom and takes a bit to settle down into his pillows (well, my pillows that he’s commandeered) and at some point last night he moved from his pillows to his own bed (also in my bedroom), but so far so good.

And Lucy? Who knows. I don’t think she’s ecstatic but so far, their personalities match well. Lucy isn’t a huge cuddler with me and certainly doesn’t care where I am in the apartment. Fred must know where I am at all times and follows me everywhere. Also, toys have not been a huge issue yet – he has a few soft chew toys he likes but shockingly Lucy hasn’t been overly interested in them and he isn’t really obsessed with them, either – no territorial behavior from him, that’s for sure. They largely ignore each other – fine by me! And Lucy even got down on the floor with me last night to play fetch – normally she’s too scared (no, really) of the other dogs to play on the ground. So, a big step for her this early in the game!

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Finally, I took both dogs to the vet tonight. Lucy needed an allergy shot and I brought Fred along for several reasons – I’m not sure how he does home alone without me or another dog; I didn’t want him barking for an hour. Plus, I wanted to see how he did in an environment outside the home. He did spectacularly! No barking, no marking. He just sniffed the other dogs when he felt like it and was largely content to just roam and look around! I think this guy is going to do great in almost any scenario!

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Meets Mugs!

Mugs is here!
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Mugs is a 13-year-old pug. He is – sort of – an owner surrender. After 13 years, his owners decided they weren’t sure they wanted to keep him around and put him in a crate in their garage where he promptly got pneumonia. Not sure on the details, but somehow he was taken out of the home and brought to an animal sanctuary; a SNORT volunteer was contacted by that sanctuary to find him a foster home and just like that, I’m back to a two-dog household!

I adore him. Which isn’t saying much because I pretty much adore all my foster dogs (and all dogs in general).

So here’s what I’ve learned in 18 hours with Mugs:

  • Definitely 13 in regards to looks, not energy.
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  • He is not neutered (ugh – 13 years and never neutered?!) and is in desperate need of a dental. Typical. I’ll get him to the vet soon.
  • Despite the above fact, he hasn’t yet marked inside. Hallelujah! I had a belly band on him yesterday night and this morning but right now he’s roaming naked and has yet to mark.
  • He’s deaf. Can’t hear a single thing. I took a very quick look in his ears and they don’t seem to be terribly gunky so I think he’s genuinely hard of hearing. Doesn’t stop him from barking, though…
  • Typical pug who loves food (although it took him a bit to warm up to his new food) and adores the treats I have. He has quickly learned to head to the refrigerator (where I keep their treats) after coming inside from doing his business.
  • One thing he hates? The crate. HATES it. Barks and barks and barks. Last night I put his crate in my bedroom but that was a no-go after 45 minutes of barking. I’m a firm believer in letting a dog bark it out but I live in an apartment; it’s just rude to let him bark that much at 10:30 at night. Or any time of the day/night. I put him in the crate this morning when I went for a 40-minute run; considering he was barking when I left and barking when I got home, it’s safe to assume he spent the entire 40 minutes barking. When I got back, I had to run some quick errands so I left him out and came back to a clean apartment and no barking. So the crate will go away…for now.
  • He’s starting to show me some of the typical pug hops; hops around dancing when I come home, when it’s time for food, etc.
  • He has a lot of energy for 13 but he definitely tires quickly. As I type this, he’s sitting on the floor at the feet falling asleep after spending the last 20 minutes staring outside the patio door.
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  • And Lucy? After some getting-to-know-you sniffing, they’ve largely ignored each other. Like most pugs, Mugs prefers to know where I am at all times. She’s camped out on the couch now which is where she’d be anyway. I think his barking is driving her a bit bonkers but other than that, things are going well so far. Granted, it’s been 18 hours. But so far so good!
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Fostering Hiatus

It’s been a while now without a foster. Kramer was adopted Oct. 14 so I’ve gone almost three months without fostering. While there’s no definite date for my next foster, I will be fostering again soon. I promised my family I would not foster over the holidays – bringing home two dogs for several days is a bit stressful for everyone, especially when you don’t exactly know what you’re getting with a foster. Then earlier this month I dogsat – just for a few days, but I wasn’t going to foster during that time. And later this month I am dogsitting a puppy (!!) for about a week, so it looks like February will be when I start to look for the right foster.

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I really, really miss this guy.

Now that Lucy’s getting a bit older, I really appreciate the one-on-one time I have with her. Fostering is an upheaval for everyone – myself, Lucy, the foster. Again, you never really know what you’re getting with a foster, but I want to make sure I at least try and foster a dog I think has a good chance of fitting in with Lucy. That usually means an older, smaller, less active dog (because Lucy is kind of crotchety). Fortunately, I have a slight obsession with senior pugs and while they can be a bit more active than a bulldog, all the senior pugs I’ve had have fit in pretty well with Lucy.

Yesterday marked five years to the day that I brought home my first foster, Nellie (fka Cindy). That means Lucy has had eight dogs come in and out of her life and she’s not even six years-old yet! That’s a lot of dogs so while I’m not going to stop fostering, I do think I want to be a bit more selective with future fosters. It’s also really not easy to foster by myself. It’s doable but I’ve also been lucky so far – neither Kramer nor Lady were terribly complicated fosters who had lots of vet appointments or behavioral issues.

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Cindy

SNORT has been inundated with dogs needing foster homes and as much as I want to help, I know I have to wait. I am helping out with a transport tomorrow, though, so I’ll get a temporary dog fix!

PSA: If you’re interested in volunteering (doesn’t have to be fostering – transports, intakes, etc.), let me know! SNORT is really slammed the past few weeks!

Ready for 2018

Merry Christmas! Lucy and I had a great few days back at home with my parents and family in New Jersey. It was way too quick of a trip but a great holiday weekend.

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And now, 2017 is about to come to a close – it’s on to 2018. I don’t necessarily want to forget 2017, but it wasn’t my best year. Granted, career-wise it was an exciting and refreshing year. It was a needed change and I simply love the area to which I moved and I’m still really liking my new career. Personally, though, it was the lowest I’ve been in a while. A lot of things helped me get through the year – CrossFit, my CrossFit family, my parents, Lucy, Lady and Kramer, close friends. My newfound commitment toward running and running goals. Wine.

And I’ve been working toward embracing being alone. I don’t mean completely and totally alone, but without a partner to lean on during the tough days. Fortunately, I’ve always been pretty comfortable spending time alone. It’s the hard days, though – days where work sucks or someone pisses me off – that make being alone a little more difficult. But this year, I’m going to make a point of continuing to do the things I want to do whether I have someone to enjoy them with or not!

I’m not setting any lofty or cliché resolutions for 2018 (as in, I will lose “XX” amount of pounds or write in a gratitude journal every day), but I do have some goals in mind. Some goals are work related or not for public consumption. Some goals, though, I’m totally comfortable putting out in the open:

1. Run a sub-22 5k. I ran a 22:00 on the dot late last winter and since then the closest I’ve come is 22:22. Unacceptable. In an ideal world, I’d run closer to a 21:30 than a 21:59 on my way to achieving that goal, but I’ll settle for anything sub-22.
2. Foster. It does add a lot of stress, especially handling two dogs on my own, but it just makes me significantly happier.
3. Save money in eight out of 12 months. Certain months – December (hello, Christmas shopping), the month I pay my insurance (I pay my insurance in one lump sum) or need emergency car repairs – it won’t be possible to save money. But if I can save in all but four months out of the year, I’ll be happy. I put a large percentage of my paycheck into retirement so I’m not losing money, but I’m definitely not saving as much cash as I should be. I went a little shopping crazy this past year and 2018 needs to be different.

That’s it. Three reasonable, achievable and important (to me) goals. Hopefully in one year I’ll be reporting back about achieving all three goals!

Reverse Bucket List

Given that it’s Thanksgiving, this post seemed appropriate.

So what is a Reverse Bucket List? From here: “Think of a reverse bucket list as an exercise in grateful recounting: You’re basking in the pride of your experiences and accomplishments, and you’re taking time to get thankful for them.”

Let’s just say my life is not where I thought it would be at this point in my life. I’m 33, single, never married (and I’m the girl who subscribed to bridal magazines at the age of 12), no kids and one year into a new career after going to undergrad for what I thought would be my forever career. It’s really easy for me to default to thoughts like, “everyone else my age has done more than me” or “everyone is living the life they want.” It’s A: not true and B: not really a productive line of thought.

Thus, when I stumbled on the idea of a reverse bucket list, it struck a chord – so here is my reverse bucket list, in no particular order:

1. Graduated high school with honors
2. Graduated college magna cum laude
3. Competed in the Junior Olympics (twice) for fencing
4. Brought Lucy home

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My all-time favorite picture of Lucy

5. Fostered eight times (and counting, I hope)
6. Earned my Master’s degree (while working 60-plus hour work weeks) with zero debt
7. In fact, I have zero debt of any kind right now
8. Achieved a director position in what (I thought) was my dream career field
9. Ran two half-marathons
10. Competed in three CrossFit competitions
11. Overcome an eating disorder
12. Accepted a new job in a new career field
13 Traveled to St. Croix
14. Been a bridesmaid (twice)
15. Bought my first car

Fifteen “highlights” doesn’t really seem like a lot but these are the bigger ones that came to mind (winning a bookmark-making contest in elementary school didn’t seem to qualify).

I thought this was a worthwhile exercise. My life is not what I pictured it would be at this point (far from it) but that doesn’t mean I’ve nothing with my life to this point.