Adventures with Lucy

Now that the weather is warmer, I’m trying to get out more to explore my “new” city. I moved here in the middle of November and so until now, the weather hasn’t really been conducive to outdoor activities. But, last weekend was absolutely perfect so Lucy and I explored a new dog park.

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The pitfall of having no snout? Inability to pick up a frisbee.

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I know, she’s beautiful.

The dog park is ridiculously nice. It is turf (a bonus after all the rain we’ve had) and has a big dog section and a small dog section. There are beautiful Adirondack chairs for the humans and a water feature that turns on in warmer weather – can’t wait to bring Lucy back in the summer to see her reaction to that!

As usual, she wasn’t so into playing with other dogs but made several trips up and down the park, basking in the human attention and pets. She was super content to roam and watch the other dogs.

On Wednesday, we had a post-op follow-up scheduled at the vet. Everything has healed great – now the question is what to do about her tooth around which the tumor grew? The tumor she had removed will almost certainly come back because it grew around that tooth and its ligaments ( didn’t know teeth had ligaments?); as long as that tooth and its ligaments are still there, the tumor will almost certainly re-grow.

Our vet sent her biopsy and x-rays to a specialist to determine if we remove the tooth and its ligaments now or wait for the tumor to re-grow. Either way it looks like we’re facing surgery relatively soon or down the road.

Fortunately, she adores the vet and while I absolutely do not want to put her under for surgery again, she handles surgery, anesthesia and recovery really well and is super happy to be at the vet.

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Ridiculously happy to be at the vet.

Because our appointment was late in the evening, I took her to work with me this afternoon so we could go right to the vet after work. She had a blast.

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Taking it all in at work.

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Pretty nice setup under my desk. 

Next weekend we go to New Jersey for a brief weekend visit with my parents so the adventures continue!

Happy Holidays

It’s 2017, so the holidays are officially over. I’ve said this many times before, but I absolutely love Christmas and this was a really good holiday.

Now that I’m no longer working in college athletics, I don’t get the full week off between Christmas and New Year’s so Marty and I crammed visits with both families over the course of just four days. It was busy but so, so good to see everyone.

Time for a picture overload:

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As usual, Marty and I spent New Year’s Eve doing nothing which is MORE than fine with me. I’ve never been a big New Year’s Eve person and I can’t even stay awake until 10 p.m., let alone midnight. We had a good weekend, though, with a brewery tour/tasting, some shopping and just much-needed time relaxing at my apartment.

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No New Year’s resolutions for me this year but I did see this insightful list of questions to ask yourself about LAST year. Looking at the past year can shape how you approach the new year, whether you set resolutions or not.

  1. What was the single best thing that happened to you this year? My new job. It’s not the most glamorous event but when all is said and done, it’s the best thing that happened.
  2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened? Changing jobs and moving.
  3. Pick three words to describe this past year. Challenging, exciting, stressful
  4. Who were your most valuable relationships with? Parents, as always. Marty. Marty and I have to really work at our relationship now since we no longer live and work together. It’s changed our relationship dynamic, that’s for sure.
  5. In what ways did you grow emotionally? I found myself living alone for the first time in five years and it was one of the parts of taking the new job that worried me most. But I’ve learned over the past six or seven weeks that I can be happy on my own.
  6. In what ways did you grow physically? Stronger and healthier. Fatter, too, if I have to be honest. But five pounds more than my “ideal” weight is still better than 30 pounds underweight (which is where I was really not all that long ago) so I’m working on accepting where I am right now.
  7. What was the most enjoyable part of your work? I changed jobs because I no longer liked my previous career; it was draining – physically and emotionally. Mostly emotionally. So the best part about my new job is that it’s all new. I’m learning every day and I like that aspect.
  8. What was the best way you used your time this past year? I disconnected more after work. Before I’d check my work email from the minute I left work until bedtime; this past year I tried (and was largely successful) to stop that habit. If an emergency came up, people knew how to reach me. It allowed me to actually relax when I was home. I read more than I have in  years, I took more walks and generally just enjoyed my down time more than previous years.
  9. What was the biggest thing you learned this past year? Change still isn’t easy for me but inevitably it’s good for me. I’d been stuck for six years (and was going through the motions in just about every part of my life) and even though I was unhappy, change scared the crap out of me. Taking this job was a leap for me but I knew in my gut it was the right leap to take.

Summer So Far

It has been a wonderfully unremarkable summer. We do not currently have a foster, Lucy is active and healthy and up until this past week and a half, we spent the majority of our weekends at home relaxing.

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Ok, a CrossFit competition isn’t relaxing but it was fun!

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One of the summer’s highlights? Visiting this handsome devil and his dad!

Yesterday, we got back from an 11-day, 1550-mile roadtrip/vacation. We started out by dropping Lucy off at my parents’, driving to Lake Placid for Marty’s Ironman race, then down to Western Maryland for Marty’s family vacation, then back to NJ to pick up Lucy and then back home to Pennsylvania. Phew.

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Ironman Finisher

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Lake Placid

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Deep Creek Lake, Md.

It was an exhausting 11 days, not helped by the fact that I got food poisoning midway during our Maryland vacation. Still feeling some mild effects from that, to be honest, but I’m mostly back to normal. And it was worth it – everyone had a wonderful vacation.

It’s unfortunate that tomorrow is Aug. 1 – it means almost back to reality for me at work. The summer months are largely 9-5 with free weekends and it’s so easy to fall into that relaxed routine. Sadly 10 months out of the year are the polar opposite of that so I thoroughly enjoy relaxing summers like we’ve had so far. It’s nice to not be on the go and not being required to be anywhere for the most part. I got to see friends and family but still had lots of time to read, relax and – most importantly – nap on the weekends.

While late August marks the real start of the fall athletic season, it’s always this time of year that I start to really want to foster. That sounds like a backwards way to think but I know it’s because fostering gives me a distraction from work with which I am less than satisfied. I honestly do not know if Lucy is ready for another foster but if I think what appears to be a good fit comes along, we will foster again and sooner rather than later.

I’m sure we’ll have a few more highlights as the summer winds down and hopefully I’ll be checking back in soon with a new foster!

Two Days I’d Rather Not Relive

Anyone who follows me on Facebook knows this has been a hell of a few days over here. For those who aren’t aware, hang on…

I have to rewind to maybe a month ago. One morning Lucy got sick – vomited and may have had some other intestinal distress, I can’t remember. It really wasn’t a big deal – we fed her a bland diet for a day and just a few hours after getting sick she was already back to normal.

Maybe a week or 10 days later, the same exact thing happened except this time she puked up some random round object. I looked at it for a while and really had no idea what it was. Still don’t have a clue. But I figured that may have been in her stomach the first time she got sick but now it was out of her system and I thought that was the end of it.

Then on Thursday morning – her fourth birthday! – she got sick yet again. I was planning to call the vet that day anyway to set up her yearly physical and when I mentioned she had gotten sick three times in 3-4 weeks, they suggested bringing her in that morning. Twenty minutes later we were waiting in the vet’s office.

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Among other tests, they took some x-rays and found something somewhat concerning on two of the four images – a round object in her intestine. Because the round object disappeared on two of the four images, the vet wanted to send it off to an expert x-ray reader (didn’t know such a job existed…) for a second opinion. They sent me home with some probiotics and instructions to wait to hear back about the x-ray.

Well, five minutes after we got home, Lucy puked up the half a cup of bouillon she had drank that morning all over my couch. I called the vet and barely got the words out “Lucy puked” before they said to just bring her in and they would keep her until they figured out what was going on.

That afternoon the vet called back and said the x-ray expert recommended surgery – he felt strongly that something was blocking her intestine and making her sick.

At 5 p.m. Thursday evening, she went back for surgery and the vet found two objects. The first was something completely lodged in her intestine – as in, they could not get it to move at all. So it took a bit more cutting than they had anticipated to get it out. What was it? Still no freaking clue. They said it was a big hairball but I was able to look at it – and it doesn’t look like hair, exactly. It looks like a solid dust ball or something. I don’t know. We’ll never know.

And the second object? Even more random. There was a piece of something dangling into her stomach. They showed me that object, too. It’s not a foreign object – it looks like a small clot or tumor of some sort that was hanging on by…body tissue, maybe? Anyway, it was hanging off her stomach wall and into her stomach. Probably not making her sick but the vet recommended getting it biopsied. Crossing my fingers the biopsy shows nothing concerning.

Thursday night I was able to sneak into the vet to see her before they shipped her to the overnight ER clinic. So pathetic.

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She arrived back at my vet Friday morning but they wanted to keep her for the majority of the day for observation. Because she has stitches not only on her tummy but also literally holding her intestines together, they needed to be sure that small amounts of food wouldn’t rupture the stitches before they felt comfortable sending her home with me.

I picked her up a little after 4:30 today and I could not have been happier.

Oh, and while all this was going on Novalee was adopted.

Yup, Miss Nova found herself a forever home.

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Her adoption was finalized earlier this week and her new mom is from Central NJ. I had planned to drive home to my parents’ house in NJ on Friday to do the exchange; our university is on spring break and I thought taking Friday off for a road trip with Lucy and Nova to get Nova to her new mom while also visiting my family would be ideal.

And then Lucy decided she needed surgery the day before our planned roadtrip. Novalee’s new mom was kind enough to meet me about an hour from here and she was so happy to meet her new addition. Nova was just happy to get back in a car and sleep.

I actually held it together when they drove off. Nova is such a people dog and I know she’ll absolutely love any home she’s in. And she won’t have to share attention with another dog. Her new mom is very bulldog experienced and could not wait to bring Nova home. She even bought her a new martini glass collar – my kind of woman 🙂

But wait, there’s more. Marty has been gone since Wednesday morning and isn’t home until midnight on Sunday (Monday morning, technically) so I’ve been handling all this on my own. I’m stressed and tired but I managed everything just fine. Logistically things were a little tricky but all of us got through it. I know I’m capable of doing anything that needs to be done on my own but when you’re used to having someone else in the equation it’s easy to get used to relying on the other person for support of all kinds. I’m proud that I handled everything on my own without asking for or needing outside help (asking for help is not a strong suit of mine).

So, Nova (whose new name will be Holly) is settling into her new home, Lucy is snoring away next to me on the couch and I’m drinking a massive glass of wine.

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I have to keep a close eye on Lucy for a few days to make sure her food seems to be moving through her without issues and we go back in 10 days to get her stitches out. Hopefully the biopsy is completely normal and we don’t have any lingering issues from that.

Right now I’m still in a fog; it’s been a really, really weird and stressful two days. In some ways it works out well that Nova was adopted today. Sure, it made for a long and emotional day but Lucy’s issues prevented me – and are still preventing me – from dwelling too much on the departure of Nova.

I hope the next time I blog it’s about something completely trivial.

A Whole Lot of Nothing

Not much at all to report. This should be renamed the Blog About Nothing (a Seinfeld reference, one of my favorite shows). Work is insane, Lucy’s still fat and Isaac’s still with us.

At this point I’ve assumed Isaac will be with us for the foreseeable future. There’s no reason to believe he’ll be adopted any time soon so for now he’s ours 🙂 And because he’s ours, I get to dress him up in reindeer costumes (disclaimer: it was for SNORT’s facebook site for Halloween).
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Because there’s nothing else to write about, I thought I’d write about 10 things people may or may not know about our dogs.

  1. Lucy is NOT the puppy I thought we’d bring home. I had my eye on another female (I had the pick of the four females in the litter). But when she attacked my sparkly ring, I knew she was mine.

    Lucy in the middle; the one I thought we'd bring home is on the right.

    Lucy in the middle; the one I thought we’d bring home is on the right.

  2. Isaac was actually in another foster home for two weeks before we got him. After two weeks, the family realized he was not going to work with their pug (or pugs – I can’t remember) and I was contacted to see if we’d take him. I now know why the pug family couldn’t continue to foster Isaac…
  3. Lucy HATES when we carry things. Anything. Boxes. Bags. Suitcases. She is petrified and runs away. Which is fun when I leave Petsmart with both her and bags full of stuff because she refuses to walk with me even though I’m carrying her treats. I have no idea why. It honestly makes us look like we abuse her or something. It’s horribly embarrassing.
  4. Isaac likes his jerseys but doesn’t like his sweater. And he doesn’t like his sweater because I once got his dew claw stuck in it while trying to put it on and he’s never forgotten.
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  5. Lucy hates costumes. I can’t put her in anything. Not the reindeer costume. Not a tutu. The only thing I can put her in is the Susquehanna singlet which makes me sad because I want to dress her up.

    Lucy as a seventh-month old Susquehanna "runner."

    Lucy as a seventh-month old Susquehanna “runner.”

  6. I don’t actually know what Isaac’s life was like before we got him. I was told he was with a male owner in Boston for all eight years of his life but I don’t know if he was an only dog (he must have been, if I had to guess), if he was in a house, an apartment, lived with more than one person, was socialized with other dogs or people, etc. I just don’t know.
  7. Both dogs love cat poop. I just don’t get it and it makes me want to vomit.
  8. Both dogs love butt scratches. I think this is pretty common, especially for bulldogs, but scratch their butts and they’re in heaven.
  9. Lucy never has and probably never will “do” steps. There’s no reason – she’s perfectly healthy. She’ll only go up staircases that are like six steps high – max – and only those that are wide. It severely limits where we can live, to be honest. Second-floor apartments are legitimate no-go. She absolutely won’t go up stairs and I’m not carrying all 48 (fat) pounds of her up stairs.
  10. Isaac’s nubbin wags; Lucy’s nubbin does not. When Isaac’s happy, his nubbin shakes like you wouldn’t believe. When Lucy’s happy, her entire rear end shakes like you wouldn’t believe.

Hopefully I have something more interesting to report soon; it is almost holiday travel time, which is always an adventure. And not necessarily in a good way.

One Day, Two Celebrations

Today is a momentous day in our household. I had no idea at the time, but when I picked up Isaac exactly one year ago today, it was also his birthday. I didn’t know until I went through his paperwork the next day that Isaac had literally just celebrated his birthday the day I brought him home. Which means that today Isaac turns nine and that we also celebrate (I guess it’s worth celebrating?) one year of fostering Isaac.

I felt so badly that he spent his last year’s birthday being transported to his second foster home after having just left what had been his home for eight years. I think he had a better birthday this year.
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Isaac has been with us twice as long as any other foster and for the most part, this past year with him has flown by. Gosh, I adore him. So much.

Isaac's birthday pup cup.

Isaac’s birthday pup cup.

Handsome boy.

Handsome boy.

The day I brought him home.

The day I brought him home.

Yesterday Isaac spent the day with his favorite dogsitters while Lucy, Marty and I went to a BBQ.

Lucy thoroughly enjoyed herself at the BBQ.

Lucy thoroughly enjoyed herself at the BBQ.

Originally we were supposed to leave Isaac in Selinsgrove while we traveled to NJ for a long weekend. Our plans changed, though, and I’m glad we got to spend Isaac’s birthday with him.
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The Best Week Ever

Just a few hours ago, Marty and I returned from what I deem the best week ever. My parents take semi-frequent vacations to various U.S. Virgin Islands and on their most recent booking to St. Croix, they offered to let myself and Marty come with them. They were renting a two bedroom house and they obviously only needed one of those bedrooms so when they posed the question of whether we were interested in occupying the other bedroom, the answer was a very emphatic YES!
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For the past 9-10 days, I have been completely disconnected. I did not bring my laptop, only sporadically turned my phone on and pretty much avoided any talk of work 99% of the time.

Because it was such a perfect week, I wanted to document it so that I could remember it for a very, very long time:

We flew out of Newark early Saturday morning and had a brief layover in Puerto Rico before flying into St. Croix late Saturday afternoon.

Saturday night after we got settled in, we went to a local brewpub for dinner. I just had wine so I can’t speak to the beer, but the food was shockingly good. And the view (we were right on the boardwalk) was spectacular.

Beginning Sunday morning, Marty and I began each day around 6 a.m. For the first few days I was awake at 5 or 5:30 a.m. but there’s something about laying in bed with a fabulous view, strong breeze and warm air that makes it impossible to actually get out of bed at that time. Eventually Marty would brew coffee and we’d have a cup on our own personal deck prior to getting our day started.
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Most mornings we picked a place to run; I say most mornings because before leaving on vacation, I tweaked my back during deadlifts and gave myself permission to take days off to make sure my back didn’t bother me too much. And with nothing but hills and mountains around, my back wasn’t exactly keen on running each morning.

After our (or just Marty’s run), everyone would spend the rest of the morning having breakfast, drinking coffee, reading books and floating in the pool.
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Lunch was around noon and usually eaten at home; cold cut sandwiches just taste better on vacation. 🙂

After lunch we’d decide how to spend our afternoons.

On Sunday, we went to Point Udall for some photos and then spent two or so hours at a beach (Shoy Beach) which was my one and only requirement for the trip – multiple trips to a beach. It has been a very, very long time since I’ve been that relaxed. The water was calm, warm and clear. I could have spent all day in the water – it was perfection. I haven’t been truly happy in years but I was pretty darn close on Sunday. My dad cooked some delicious chicken thighs that night and we spent the rest of the night relaxing.

Point Udall

Point Udall

Shoy Beach.

Shoy Beach.

Monday afternoon was spent walking around Chistiansted, the “biggest” city/town on the island. We stopped in tons of little shops, picked up some trinkets and I found the perfect ring – a gift from some of the early birthday money Marty’s family was kind enough to give me before leaving.

Fort Christiansted

Fort Christiansted

Christiansted

Christiansted

That night I treated my parents (and Marty) to dinner out along the coastline at eat @ cane bay. I normally stick to wine but my mom and I both decided to order one (ok, two) “Sex in the Champagne Room” – vanilla run, cranberry juice, maybe pineapple juice and champagne. Beyond good.

Tuesday we started the day with another run and then spent the afternoon playing tourist. We had lunch in Frederiksted and then toured the Cruzan Rum Factory and the St. Croix Botanical Garden. Both were worth the visit but the rum factory was the definite highlight.

RUM

RUM

Botanical gardens

Botanical gardens

Wednesday we went to Chanay Bay for another beach day; this time we broke out the snorkels and it was awesome. Starfish, fish, sea urchins. Wednesday night dinner was at Off the Wall – casual dining with the sand literally between our toes.

My more than generous parents.

My more than generous parents.

Thursday we visited Cane Bay – my least favorite of the three beaches we visited. The water was rougher and the water not deep enough for my liking. We also got sandblasted and I think I stepped on a sea urchin. But any beach in St. Croix is still fabulous.

Our final full day was Friday. We went back to Christiansted that morning to pick up some final gifts and mementos and then headed back to Shoy Beach for the afternoon. I spent a ton of time snorkeling and relaxing in the water, soaking it all up. It was definitely my favorite of the three beaches and the weather, while hot, was gorgeous. We capped off the night at Cheeseburgers in American Paradise – another perfect atmosphere with great food (and company!).
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Again, I could not have asked for a better week. I was beyond relaxed and exploring an entirely new place was utterly fascinating. From driving on the “wrong” side of the road to asking if we wanted rum in our morning smoothies from the local coffee place, it was more than I could have hoped for. I know this isn’t a trip we’ll be repeating for a very long time so I more than soaked up everything we experienced the past week.

Odds and Ends from the Week:

The poverty on the island is depressing. Nothing I didn’t expect but still sad.

In relation to the above point, the number of homeless/stray dogs and their conditions hit home the most. We saw one dog outside one of the grocery stores we visited with a severe limp and a massive tumor growing near her front right armpit. She was just sitting outside the grocery store watching people come in and out. My heart just about broke. And she was just one of the many strays we saw.

The wild life here is different. Very different. Horses that don’t appear to actually belong to anyone. Goats, chickens, roosters and baby chicks everywhere. Teeny, tiny lizards. Big iguanas. Crabs. Birds unlike those in the States.

Just a random horse hanging out right by the road.

Just a random horse hanging out right by the road.

Island time is real. We went to a parking lot that was supposed to open at 8:30 a.m. It definitely opened no earlier than 8:35.

The prices. Oh. My. God. $7 for a pint of Ben & Jerry’s? $6.99 for a regular-sized box of cereal? I genuinely have no idea how people afford to eat on this island and we weren’t exactly suffering from the impoverished conditions in which many of the locals live.

Obviously a big “thank you” to our dogsitters. Without them there’s obviously no way we make this trip.

And an even bigger thank you to my parents for taking us along. Seriously more than we deserved and I appreciate it.

My Little Helper

On Friday, I was able to give Lucy a few hours peace from Isaac when she accompanied me on a home visit for S.N.O.R.T.!

I’m not able to do a ton of home visits because of my location (I’m really not near anything) and because they usually happen on the weekends – except I don’t really have weekends from late August through May. Anyway, this home visit was for a potential adopter (no, not of Isaac, sadly) for one of S.N.O.R.T.’s fosters and it was only an hour away in Harrisburg.

Lucy loves car rides and I knew Isaac would get a car ride on Saturday when I took him to the group dog walk so I loaded her in and off we went!

Yeah, she enjoyed the car ride.

Yeah, she enjoyed the car ride.

The family I was doing the home visit for had a Boston Terrier, Tank. Unfortunately Tank wasn’t a huge fan of Lucy – although apparently he adored his pug sister that passed just recently – but Lucy was too excited to care. She helped herself to some dry cat food and found a rawhide that, in true Lucy fashion, she became obsessed with. Seriously – Tank could have been ready to rip her head off (which he wasn’t, by the way) and she wouldn’t have noticed. She was happy as a clam. Once she shoved the rawhide so far under the coffee table she couldn’t get to it, I took it as a sign that the home visit was done.

All in all, a brief but fun outing for both of us. Hopefully I can do a few more this summer while I have the time and Lucy can “help” out again.

Proud Mama

Alternate title: We’re Alive.

Quite a gap between posts but a lot of relaxing has been going on over here. The athletic year is done as of tonight when the final track & field athletes compete at Nationals. Once I post those recaps, I am officially done with the year! Despite tonight’s events, life has gradually been slowing down for a few weeks which is glorious. Last weekend Lucy and I traveled to New Jersey to visit my parents for a belated Mother’s Day celebration. Lucy had a blast away from Isaac and she was the perfect guest.

Because I wasn’t around last weekend, Isaac wasn’t able to get back to the free dog walk. Why couldn’t Marty take him, you ask? You’d have to ask Marty. But I digress. These walks are super important for Isaac to try and get him almost desensitized to other dogs, in a way.

Today we made our way there and Isaac was awesome. Truly. He did not snap at a single dog and even walked right by several dogs that were snapping at him!

"I know how to pretend to look good."

“I know how to pretend to look good.”

He’s not “cured” by any means. When it’s just the two of us on walks he’s still hit or miss but it’s obvious he can be around other dogs. And the other benefit to the walks? This is what he looks like for the majority of the afternoon:

Melting.

Melting.

Seriously, I was ecstatic and so proud of him. He has no idea why I was happy but hopefully the more positive experiences we have the more progress we’ll continue to make. A well-behaved dog is in there, we just have to keep working at it.

And because I don’t want Lucy to feel left out, here’s a cute picture to end today’s post!
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What a Roadtrip

We survived!

Ok, from this photo it looks like we barely survived!

Ok, from this photo it looks like we barely survived!

We were gone from Tuesday, Dec. 23 through this afternoon (Dec. 28). We traveled from Central PA to Northern NJ to Southern NJ back to Central PA with a car packed to the brim with gifts, dog supplies suitcases and, of course, two doggies. But we made it. We got to visit both families and while Isaac saw more than his fair share of timeouts (definitely no improvement in that area!), we’re all back in one piece.

As is the case for anyone who has to travel over the holidays, it’s not exactly relaxing. You’re spending two, three, four days in someone else’s home, sleeping in someone else’s bed, eating someone else’s food, etc. It’s 100 percent worth it because it’s simply not the holidays without family, but it is definitely exhausting.

She's pretty much been asleep since we walked in the door.

She’s pretty much been asleep since we walked in the door.

We made the most of our time in New Jersey, that’s for sure. I saw both my mom and dad’s sides of the family, had a wonderful Christmas dinner at my aunt’s house and had plenty of time with Marty’s family. Santa was more than kind to us – and the dogs, too. We really are so fortunate.

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And for me personally, I can’t overstate how much I enjoy being home. I more than just love my parents – I truly enjoy spending time and hanging out with them.

My dad.

My dad.

No matter what else is going on in my life or what else might happen down the road, I’m never more comfortable than I am at my parents’ home so for that reason alone, holiday travel is worth it.

Now we’re back at home and fortunately have a few days of relaxation to recover from the holiday travel!