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?

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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.

One Year

An entire year has passed since I uprooted the life I’d been living for more than six years and moved 80 minutes away to start a new job in a new career field in a new city. As usual, in some ways it’s seemed like a long year and in other ways it seems like it was just yesterday I was moving into my new apartment. A year of “firsts” of is over; that may have been the most exciting part of this past year – experiencing all the “firsts” in my new apartment in my new city. First Thanksgiving, first holiday season, first birthday (although I actually spent that in paradise…), first run, first foster, etc.

It has not been an easy year (actually, it’s been one of the hardest), but I don’t have any regrets. So much than my job and home city have changed; as cliché as it is, events – work and personal – over the past year caused me to change but that’s not a bad thing. I am infinitely happier in my new career than I ever was in my previous one. Personally? I’m working on it every day. There will be downs – there have already been downs – but I had to move on in a new career field and allow any other changes to happen as they may.

Here are some highlights from the past year:

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Festivus

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I think I count four chins in this photo.

Dad’s Retirement Party

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Amanda’s Wedding

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St. Croix/Birthday

Battle Royale

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Fleetwood Mac Concert

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Pet Photo Session

Hershey Half-Marathon

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I hope the next year has just as many highlights and a few less low-lights.

Sad News

I got the sad news that my first foster, Nellie (fka Cindy) passed away this week. She was just over 11 ½ years old and spent four-plus wonderful years with her forever family.

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Nellie’s forever home.

My sadness is most definitely for her family – not for myself – and so this will be brief. She was theirs. I am sad because a truly wonderful dog is gone, one who defied all odds. Nellie survived the puppy mill, heartworm, Lyme and various other medical concerns. And she survived me (and Marty) as first-time foster parents. As I’ve written before, we really had no clue what we were getting into but I regret zero seconds of her seven months with us. Not a single second.

It is because I had such a wonderful experience being Nellie’s foster mom that I continue to foster. Seven fosters have followed since her adoption and all because of her. For that and many other reasons, she’ll always hold a very special place in my heart. Nellie has indirectly saved the lives of seven other dogs and for that I’m forever grateful.

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Pre-potty rolling session

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Squishy.

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Smiles

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She LOVED pillows.

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That face.

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More pillows.

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After heartworm treatment.

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Sweet Cindy waiting at the vet.

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Kramer’s Adoption

This afternoon Kramer went off to his forever home. I met his new mom (and her mom – Kramer’s new grandma!) halfway between Lancaster and his new home in New Jersey. It was a long day – I spectated at a CrossFit competition for most of the morning/early afternoon then drove to drop Kramer off and back home before my Hershey Half-Marathon tomorrow morning. More emotionally draining than anything else, though. Driving back home without him, knowing he was traveling in the complete opposite direction from me, was hard.

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Kramer was admittedly one of the hardest fosters to give up for a lot of reasons. I’ve been lucky – the two fosters I’ve had on my own – Lady and Kramer – have been two of my easiest. I don’t think it will ever get easier than Lady, and Kramer – while far more active – was pretty darn easy, as well.

Pugs are so distinctive in their personalities – but all four of my pug fosters have all been typical Velcro pugs. And while it takes some time to get used to having a dog who must be with you at all times (i.e. total polar opposite of Lucy), it certainly is a great feeling to have a dog that visibly loves you. I adore Lucy, but I don’t get the outward displays of love from her like I did from Kramer.

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Kramer also brought a lot of laughs into my life. He is such a funny dog and it felt good to laugh for the past two-plus months. He did something every day that made me smile and laugh. My apartment felt a lot livelier with him around.

In the last month, he’s also been extra great with Lucy. I’m not sure if she’s feeling friendlier toward him since he got neutered or if that’s just a coincidence, but she’s perfectly content to have him lay next to her. She wasn’t not okay with before then, it’s just happening a lot more lately.

This obviously begs the question as to why I didn’t just keep him and the reason is the same as all my previous fosters – it’s just not the responsible thing to do. While Lucy has done great with Kramer, it’s not like she’s ecstatic he’s around. The only dog she was ever sad to see go was Violet (f.k.a Snowy). She hasn’t gotten as attached to another dog since. Of course, it’s not like Lucy’s told me this. Maybe she loves Kramer more than she shows. But I don’t think she’ll mind going back to being the only dog again.

I’m also trying hard to save money. I renewed the lease for my apartment for another full year but I’ve put some thought into buying a condo after the next year of my lease. And my rent is going up $50/month – not an insignificant increase. The adoption cost for Kramer isn’t a big deal, it’s the cost of keeping two high-maintenance breeds healthy that’s a big deal.

Kramer also isn’t as easy a dog to travel with as other dogs, especially in comparison to Lucy. He barks. A lot. And I think he’d get on the nerves of my family when I visit. He’s just not my parents’ kind of dog. It’s selfish of me not to take that into consideration since I do like to visit them. I wanted to be selfish and keep him. But that wasn’t the adult thing to do.

And finally, there is zero possibility of me continuing to foster if I have two dogs of my own in a teeny tiny apartment. Plus, it’s not like fostering is a no-cost activity for me. I pay for toys, treats, food, etc. It’s not a huge cost, but feeding three dogs would be a big hit to the budget and push my apartment to maximum capacity. And fostering is important to me – I want to continue doing it. Maybe down the road when I have a larger home and a bit more spending money, keeping two dogs and being able to foster a third will be a possibility. It’s just not a possibility at this point in my life.

But I’m grateful Kramer has gone to such a wonderful home. He’s going to make his new mom very happy.

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How could that face not make you instantly happy?!

And now, the usual “what I want to remember” part of any adoption posts –

– How every time I walked through the door he immediately started whimpering and clawing at the crate door for me to let him out; he was that excited I was home. There is no better feeling than someone (or some dog) who is that giddy to see you day after day.

– After he was let inside after doing his business, he made a beeline to the kitchen (where I keep their treats). If I was still outside with Lucy, it took him approximately 10 seconds to realize I wasn’t inside yet and he’d trot right back to the patio door and stare at Lucy and me outside, waiting for us to finish so he could finally get his treat

– His blankie obsession. Cutest thing ever.

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– How he loved to roll around on the couch; he’d roll and burrow in and under all the blankies on the couch. At first I thought it was because he was trying to (and often succeeded) get his belly band off but he rolled and burrowed regardless; it had to feel so good after likely living in nothing but a crate for eight years.

– His struggles to get on the couch. Nine times out of 10 I’d lift him onto the couch. But if I wasn’t fast enough or wasn’t in the room, he would do it himself. It often took several tries but it was so endearing to see him try time and time again until he finally hoisted himself on the couch. And then the rolling would commence (see above point).

– His eyes. Pug eyes are the best, but especially his. They were a beautiful amber color and so expressive.

– How he had to poop at least two times per walk – often three times. We went through poo bags fast with him around.

– Watching his tail wag. Literally all you had to do was say his name and look at him and the tail started. The best was when I’d catch him mid-blankie gnawing and call his name or he’d see me across the room – he’d keep right on gnawing his blankie but he’d make eye contact with me and his tail would start going. Sweetest thing.

– I know I mentioned this before, but how much happiness he added to my life. It was simply impossible to be sad with him around.

Thus ends the adventures of foster #8. It’s going to take a while to rebound from this one, that’s for sure.

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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