Settling In

After this past weekend, I feel like I can take a deep breath and really settle into a routine with Kramer. A week or so after bringing Kramer home, I dog-sat Spike, a 70-pound English bulldog. At only one year old, Spike had a LOT of energy and a very small space in which to expend that energy. I only had Spike for roughly 48 hours and then five days later, Spike came back…for an entire week.

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I’m not going to lie, it was a stressful week. Three dogs, with Kramer still learning the ropes of being a true pet, in a small space was pure chaos. The best way to describe Spike is like Tigger (from Winnie the Pooh) on steroids. He’s got a phenomenal and hilarious personality but it’s not a personality meant for small spaces with small(er) dogs. If he wanted to walk in the evenings, his energy was tolerable. If he didn’t want to walk (and there was no making a 70-pound dog walk against his will), watch out. Anything in the apartment was fair game – burrowing in the couch. Playing fetch. Eating my coasters. Body-slamming Kramer. Humping me. Chewing his Nylabone.

Fortunately for him, he’s adorable which made up for a lot of the chaos.

But back to our routine. Kramer is really starting to get the hang of being a pet. He has never had a true accident inside – every time he’s peed indoors it’s been marking, not because he had to pee. He’s never gone #2 inside, which I consider a true miracle. He has quickly caught on to the post-pee/poop treat routine. After coming inside, I find him waiting (not-so) patiently in the kitchen by the fridge where I keep their treats.

Kramer is still blanket obsessed and it’s the cutest thing ever. He must have a blankie with him at all times. Starting last week, I allowed him up on the couch to see what he’d do. As long as he has his blankie with him, he’s content to lounge around gnawing on it while Lucy sleeps (as usual) and I read (as usual).

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He is very much a pug; he barks (a lot) and follows me everywhere but that’s all typical stuff I expect from a pug. He sleeps just fine in the crate at night and I’m assuming he does the same while I’m at work during the day. He just chewed on one of Lucy’s many beloved Nylabones yesterday and while I thought Lucy’s head was going to explode – she doesn’t share well – it was another sign that Kramer is quickly learning to enjoy the good life.

I finally scheduled Kramer’s neuter and dental surgeries for Sept. 11. I’m super anxious for both – he has an enlarged prostate which is contributing to the marking and constant peeing outside but that’s reversible with the neutering (another reason to spay and neuter your pets!!). His breath also reeks so the dental will be much-needed.

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After two surgeries, there isn’t anything we need to address before he gets listed for adoption. As long as the surgeries go well, he should be able to hit the available page pretty quickly after the procedures. Which is sad. Obviously, it’s much easier on me with just Lucy to look after, but so far, the two fosters I’ve had on my own (Lady and Kramer) have been phenomenal. They’ve been two of the simpler fosters I’ve ever had and have been great additions, even if temporary.

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Be Kind to Yourself

It’s just 10 days until Christmas and we’re in the midst of my favorite time of the year. My decorations went up the day after Thanksgiving and Lucy is sporting her holiday collar:
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A few weeks ago I took her to the Selinsgrove Pet Parade which WAS. AWESOME. It was probably the longest walk of her life (seriously) and she had a blast.

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This was Ollie.

I also may or may not have given her part of her Christmas gift a bit on the early side…

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I bought Lucy her very own fleece blanket. To be honest, I was getting sick of her slobbering all over my soft, fleecy blankets so I bought one just for her. She loves it. Clearly.

I don’t get as much time off during the holidays as I did at my previous job (I wouldn’t change a thing, though – having real weekends all to myself still hasn’t gotten old) but Marty and I will make the trip to see both families over the course of four or five days and I can’t wait to get home.

Things aren’t all rosy, though. As I expected, there are ups and downs. It’s been almost five weeks at the new job and there are way more good days than bad days. Which is a refreshing change. But obviously there are bumps in the road. Certain days I miss my “old” life (not my job) more than others. Certain days it’s harder living alone than others. Certain days it’s harder not having a close group of friends here than others. Certain days it’s harder dealing with a stubborn Lucy in inhumanely cold weather than others.

Lately a few simple words that someone said to me (ok, emailed to me. Same thing in today’s world) have been going through my mind on a daily basis. She’ll know who she is because she’s one of my consistent readers 🙂

“Be kind to yourself.”

So simple, but it’s harder to do than you’d think, at least for me. As a pretty negative person, it’s so easy for me to be hard on myself, not be patient with myself and not let little things snowball. So I’ve been silently repeating that phrase to me on those not-so-good days.

I think it’s some of the best advice I’ve ever received.Thank you, and you know who you are.

Happy Holidays to everyone!

The Sweetest Thing

Our apartment building is set behind a karate school and its adjoining parking lot. Our front door faces the school and Novalee loves to start our walks by going through the lot. There are always people and cars to look at and she’s no dummy – she knows that the odds are in her favor someone will stop to pet her.

As soon as I got home from work the other night, I leashed Novalee up and we began our pre-dinner walk through the parking lot. Immediately a boy – maybe seven or eight years old – rushed over, asked if he could pet Nova and plopped down on the pavement to start petting her.

His dad is someone I “know.” He’s the one who helped me rescue Isaac after he ran away. His son still attends karate lessons so I see him from time to time in the parking lot plus he lives along the river which is one of my frequent running routes. So I know him well enough to smile and wave and his son was all about Nova so all three of us began chatting.

Actually, his son began chatting. He told me about how he used to have a dog but they recently had to put him to sleep at 17 years and three months old because he was in pain. He told me about how they thought the dog was invincible and might never die. And about how now he’s lonely and doesn’t have anyone to play with at home anymore. He said he plays by himself with his toys and sometimes lays in bed watching TV but that it’s lonely without his dog.

He told me about how he wants his dad to take him to go look at dogs that are available for adoption and that maybe a bulldog would be a good dog to get. And that maybe his new dog could sleep in his bed with him. And “does this dog like to sleep in your bed?” he asked, pointing to Nova.

All the while he never once stopped petting Novalee and kept saying how cute and well-behaved she was and that again, maybe a bulldog would be a good dog to get (not so subtly hinting to his dad…).

Novalee started to get cold (I actually think she was milking sympathy pets out them) and so the dad started to get his son to move toward their truck and head home. As the son got in the truck, he turned around and asked me what the dog’s name was and I told him Novalee.

Nova and I continued down the sidewalk and as the dad and his son drove by on their way home, the son leaned out the window, started waving and shouted, “good-bye, Novalee!” He waved all the way down the street.

I have never been so happy to spend 15 minutes outside in 30 degree temps.

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Six Months of Isaac

We officially hit the six-month mark of fostering Isaac!

The very first picture I took of Isaac - on our way home!

The very first picture I took of Isaac – on our way home!

Actually, we hit the six-month mark on Feb. 2 but I was in the midst of the flu, a sinus infection and thrush. I’ve only just begun feeling human; the past couple days have been rough, to say the least. Honestly, I really never get sick beyond a cold or two a year and so to get hit by a virus and double ear infection two weeks ago and then the flu and a sinus infection this past week…I’m physically drained, to say the least.

Anyway, Isaac’s six-month anniversary didn’t escape my notice, I was just too sick to write about it! I thought I’d do a mini recap/highlight reel of the past six months.

August 4, 2014: Isaac Goes to the Vet
As is standard with all fosters, I took Isaac to the vet the first chance I got. He essentially had zero health concerns, the first time that’s ever happened with a foster! He was (and still is) missing large chunks of fur but the lack of hair was not deemed to be caused by anything serious; likely a case of unexplained alopecia.

One of the first photos I ever took of him. And still one of my favorites.

One of the first photos I ever took of him. And still one of my favorites.

August 7, 2014: Isaac Goes back to School
Isaac didn’t, and still doesn’t, know how to play with Lucy, let alone other dogs. So was this training session a waste of money? Absolutely not. He learned a lot of basic obedience commands we still use. He just is never going to be a dog that plays well or gets along with other dogs.

The (not-so) model student.

The (not-so) model student.

Oct. 26, 2014: Isaac Goes to Crusader Carvings
His first real outing and he did great! He had an absolute blast and was very well-behaved with all the people.

Yeah, he liked the attention just a little bit.

Yeah, he liked the attention just a little bit.

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Oct. 31, 2014: Isaac Runs Away
He took years off my life. He had a blast.

"I'd do it all over again, too!"

“I’d do it all over again, too!”

Thanksgiving, 2014
We took Lucy and Isaac on their first extended road trip together. It was stressful, but we survived, thanks in large part to nice weather and a lot of walks!
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December 22, 2014: Isaac’s First Christmas With Us
We went low-key this year, but Isaac didn’t know any better!

He was just as happy to watch us open gifts as to get his own!

He was just as happy to watch us open gifts as to get his own!

Christmas, 2014
All four of us survived our second road trip in a month. Again, not exactly stress-free but we all made it out alive!
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And now here we are at six months! Nothing of note has really happened since the holidays; we haven’t traveled anywhere, Isaac hasn’t run away again, etc. He’s been hit or miss in regards to his behavior around Lucy; he’ll go days where he won’t bother her too much and then we have a morning like today where they haven’t even gotten out the door to do their business and he’s already humped her. So, the norm.

It’s not like you exactly celebrate six months of fostering because you’d like all foster dogs to be adopted ASAP but it’s still been a fun six months to look back on. He’ll definitely stand as our longest foster to date; I checked on Cindy’s stay with us and it was six months and five days and we’re just about there already with Isaac. But he’s so fun and sweet. Last night he curled up in bed with me again until my coughing drove him back downstairs 🙂 And this morning on our way in from our morning walk, he grabbed just one more chunk of snow to chew on (he clearly doesn’t understand this snow isn’t going anywhere soon!). He never fails to make me laugh.

He makes himself laugh, too.

He makes himself laugh, too.

Happy Five Months?

Can you believe we’ve had Isaac for five months already??

One of the first photos I ever took of him. And still one of my favorites.

One of the first photos I ever took of him. And still one of my favorites.

I, for one, cannot believe it’s been five months. Despite him not being our easiest foster (due to his determination to dominate Lucy), these past five months have flown by. We’ve now had him for nearly as long as we had Snowy and just one month less than we had Cindy, who has been our longest foster to date.

What’s different about Isaac is that for the majority of these past five months, he’s been healthy, which most certainly was not the case for our other long-term fosters. (I consider Buddy a “quick” foster because we only had him three months but even he had a host of health concerns). Isaac’s missing fur on his sides was not deemed to be caused by anything significant and his thyroid levels returned to normal really quickly once he was put on medication, which he no longer has to take.

So for five months we’ve enjoyed a healthy and fun second dog – certainly a change with no surgeries, medications, etc. to worry about. But that also means that for five months this perfectly healthy and handsome dog has been searching for his forever home and has yet to find it. Five months of his life that weren’t spent with his perfect family.

The longer we have him, the more I fall in love with him. Partly because it’s pretty obvious he also loves me, not to sound too self-centered. But he follows me pretty much everywhere and Marty says that every morning after his breakfast, he stares at the garage door waiting for me to get home from CrossFit. I can’t tell you how great of a feeling it is to have such unconditional love! I don’t even get that from Marty 🙂

A very, very common sight when I'm home.

A very, very common sight when I’m home.

I don’t think there’s any doubt that if he got along with Lucy we’d keep him, especially since he’s not getting any adoption applications. He is such a fun, healthy and active dog. But he doesn’t get along with Lucy, even though he probably thinks he does. She is getting very aggravated (as are we) with his persistent humping and let’s face it – he’s not getting any smaller and she’s not getting any bigger, so he will always win.

While it is possible to teach an “old” dog new tricks, it certainly isn’t a guarantee. Isaac’s learned “sit,” “down,” “touch” (i.e. “come”) but try to teach him not to hump Lucy? So far an utter failure.

I know Isaac’s perfect home is out there – a dog-free home with plenty of open space for walks and running (he loves running through the park next door to us) and maybe even kids; he’d be fabulous with kids. I’m sure people are turned off by his age (8 1/2) but I’m not exaggerating when I say he has the energy of a two-year-old dog, if not younger.

Hang in there, Isaac. We’ll find your forever family soon!

ALWAYS happy. Except when I cut our walks short.

ALWAYS happy. Except when I cut our walks short.

Resolutions…2015 Version

I know, it is isn’t even Christmas yet and I’m already talking about New Year’s resolutions. I honestly don’t know why I bother to make them because, like almost everyone else in the world, I never follow through. For instance, here were last year’s resolutions:

1. Find Snowy her perfect forever home – DONE

Violet (aka Snowy) and her sisters in her forever home.

Violet (Right) (aka Snowy) and her sisters in her forever home.

2. Budget money so we can juggle Lucy, her constant vet visits and any other potential future fosters – Not so much. I definitely paid more attention to my money and where it was going and we were able to afford what Lucy needed, but I definitely didn’t save as much as I wanted.

3. Continue to work on my patience when it comes to Lucy and her stubbornness – Again, not so much. I mean, I guess I worked on my patience but without any actual improvement.

"Keep working on that patience, Mom."

“Keep working on that patience, Mom.”

4. Take the dog(s) for at least six walks a week; we all need to watch our weight and Lucy always has energy to burn off! – Sort of? Since getting Isaac in August we’ve walked at least 14 times a week and same when we had Buddy, but Lucy has definitely not gotten as many walks as she needs. And now she’s fat(ter).

Buddy, always up for a walk.

Buddy, always up for a walk.

One out of four. Pathetic.

I have a lot of non-dog resolutions rattling around in my brain for the upcoming year but this is a dog blog. So in keeping with that theme, here are the resolutions I will make and may or may not achieve:

1. Shift into a career that allows me a more “regular” schedule to continue fostering and allow me to help SNORT in more ways than I am currently able.
2. Keep on top of cleaning! That means vacuuming, dusting and even just keeping the dogs themselves cleaner (wiping paws, more baths, etc.).
3. Continue fostering.

That’s it. Not exciting but with effort, all three are doable.

“Screw You”

That’s pretty much what Isaac said to me yesterday.

Ok, so I know I’m going to scare S.N.O.R.T. with this story but all is well that ends well!

Yesterday I had no plans after work and I realized Lucy needed her nails filed down at Petsmart so I figured after I fed Lucy and Isaac dinner, I’d take Lucy over to Petsmart. I fed the dogs, leashed up Lucy, nudged her out the door and quickly blocked the door to keep Isaac inside. Yeah, well, that plan failed because Isaac pushed his large noggin right past my legs and made a mad dash into the karate school parking lot in front of our apartment.

Uh oh.

(A key point to the story – there was a man sitting in his pickup truck, presumably killing time until karate lessons were over).

As Isaac made a mad dash through the parking lot, I shouted his name and he turned around. That’s when he looked me dead in the eyes, silently said “screw you,” turned around and continued on his merry way. Yes, screw me indeed.

"Haha!"

“Haha!”

The man in the pickup truck watched the whole thing unravel and tried to coax Isaac over to him but Isaac was having none of that.

Isaac proceeded to cross the street (heart attack #1) and run right down the sidewalk (at least he was on the sidewalk?) on what is one of our normal walking routes. All while taking pee breaks. Priorities, I suppose.

Keep in mind, though, Lucy was with me as she was already out on the porch ready for her car ride when Isaac dashed past us. I also had my purse with me and heels on since I had just gotten home from work. So I literally dragged Lucy through the parking lot, trying to keep Isaac in eye sight. Several times Lucy stopped dead in her tracks (remember, she hates walks so asking her to run was asking the impossible) but I had no choice but continue dragging her along. I thought for sure her dinner was going to make a reappearance with all her running.

Isaac turned the corner toward Dominos (smart dog) and a busy Market Street (dumb dog and heart attack #2). However, at that moment, the guy in the pickup truck turned the corner. He had hopped back in his car and followed us!! Isaac was busy peeing on a lamp post when the guy stopped his truck on the side of the road. Now Isaac was in a dilemma. He clearly had no desire to come back with me but he LOVES cars. And strangers, apparently, because he went over to the guy and hopped right into the driver’s seat.

The man drove back to our apartment and when I finally got back with Lucy still in tow, there was Isaac, happy as a clam in the back seat of the truck, grinning at me from between the front seats.

Not my shining moment, nor Isaac’s, although I’m sure he’d disagree. I swear I’m not an irresponsible pet owner; I take Lucy out every day without him sneaking out the door. I guess he just really wanted to go on a car ride with us.

Without going into details, the night spiraled downward from there (freshly-cleaned socks that fell into the dogs’ water bowl, a brand new skirt shrunken in the dryer…I could go on).

Isaac simultaneously makes me so angry and so happy. It’s a special gift he has.

PS – Happy Halloween! Here’s the doggies’ treat for the day!

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The Busy Season Begins

It’s been pretty silent on here because there honestly isn’t much to say. This past week marked the official start to the athletic year at my university which means I have no life (truly) for the next 10 months. Of course this coincided with the news about Isaac’s potential thyroid problem so stress has been high and free time has been limited.

"You won't forget about me, right?"

“You won’t forget about me, right?”

Despite having to do work (and homework) on Sundays, I rarely have to be at work so I soak up free time with the doggies. Today was cloudy and oppressively humid, i.e. not a great day for short-nosed dogs. However, despite having been listed for adoption for around 1-2 weeks now, Isaac has gotten zero adoption applications so I dragged Marty outside with Isaac and me for another photo shoot for S.N.O.R.T.’s social media outlets.

Using his tongue for maximum effort.

Using his tongue for maximum effort.

Running!

Running!

 

He likes Marty best.

He likes Marty best.

And how has Isaac been doing on his new meds? So far no visible or noticeable difference but he wasn’t exactly acting sickly before. I truly believed his hair was starting to grow back before he went on this medication so even if his hair continues to grow back, it’s going to be hard to determine if it’s the meds or just time that helped him. His energy is still really high and we’re still walking many, many times a day, so no changes there! We’ll go back to the vet at the end of September and see where we stand; here’s hoping for normal bloodwork this time!

Meet Isaac!

This morning I picked up Isaac!

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He is eight years old, BIG and a humper! And Lucy is not a fan of his humping. At all. First time I’ve ever seen her snap at a dog. So for now he’s in the kitchen and Lucy is in the family room until they get used to each other.

From what I can tell after having him for a whole entire hour, he has lots and lots of energy. When we got home, he wouldn’t stop humping Lucy so I took him for a walk around the neighbor hood. Verdict? He is definitely a walker.

After our walk, I put him in the kitchen and put up the gate. Not 30 seconds later I heard a strange sound; he had found Marty’s medicine ball and thought it was a ball for him.

Yes, he's sitting ON the ball.

Yes, he’s sitting ON the ball.

I eventually had to take it away from him because he would not quit!

As you can see, his skin is not good so I’ll be making a vet appointment ASAP. Other than the skin (and humping), he seems to be in good shape. He’s not fat (just solid), has been neutered and obviously his joints, breathing, etc. are all fine as he sped around the block!

If the humping continues, I will definitely work on some behavior training. Usually a water bottle spritzed in the face is a good way to discourage a certain behavior, whether it be barking, biting or…humping.