Life

  • Lucy and I have quickly gotten adjusted to life without Fred. I miss him tons, but it helps immensely that I’ve gotten regular updates. Fred is thriving and that’s what makes it all worth it.
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Oldie, but a goodie

  • It looks like I will not be running – let alone racing – the Broad Street Run in 2 ½ weeks. I’ve had some aching around the spot in which I had a pretty severe stress fracture seven years ago. It’s likely a stress reaction – a precursor to a full-on stress fracture. While I might be able to run the race because it’s mostly an ache and not sharp pain, 10 miles of pounding is not a smart idea – that’s how I wound up with a stress fracture all those years ago in the first place. I’m bummed because the race is a historic one in which you can pretty much only gain entry via the lottery (professionals and fundraisers are the exceptions, I think); the odds were slim to be picked and yet I was and now I can’t run it.
  • My goal is to be healthy to run a Vineyard run in mid-May; I ran it last year and while I’d like to be faster this year, that’s clearly not going to happen with any serious training on hold. So, the ability to run four, pain-free miles will be my goal.
  • I signed up for a partner CrossFit competition in New Jersey in early June; a friend and I are partnering up for a Barbells for Bullies competition. The group primarily supports pit bulls but also fundraises for all bullie breeds, so obviously it was a personal cause for me. I could care less how I do. I’m in it for fun. Truly.
  • No real vacation this summer; trying hard to save money to buy a condo/house by November of 2019. I had hoped to buy this November (my apartment lease is up each December), but I think another 18 months to save money is the smarter move, especially considering I will need a new (used) car in the not-so-distant future and I’d like to pay cash for it.
  • Speaking of saving money, I started a new, part-time job this past Friday. I am working (very) part-time at a local winery storefront. It’s very few hours a month – maybe once a week, max. Clearly, I’m not in it entirely for the money, but it doesn’t hurt, that’s for sure. I love wine and combined with the fact that it’s minimal hours, it is a perfect fit. I just have to make sure I don’t buy more wine than the money I’m making from the job.
  • Lucy has her annual physical next month; we have a lot of work to do in four weeks to get her weight down…

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    Yeah, everything is currently a bit tight on Lucy…

And that’s recent life in a nutshell.

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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.

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.

Crazy Dog Lady

The first step in getting help for a problem is admitting you have a problem. I don’t want help for my problem but I fully admit I am a crazy dog lady. I am utterly obsessed with Lucy, all bulldogs (including those I’ve never met) and my foster dogs.

But here’s some more reality – I am single, do not have kids and I consider dogs a passion of mine. If that makes me a loser, so be it. But I foster and actively assist with various volunteer efforts for SNORT and there are worse things I can choose to devote my free time. It makes me happy and I have the (limited) resources and time to devote to that hobby.

But even I have reached a whole new level of crazy. This evening, Lucy (and I) had professional photos taken.

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Anxiously waiting to start!

A photographer named April Zielger took the photos. I’ve followed her on Facebook for years; I’m not even sure why I started following her, but she does absolutely wonderful work and she’s very experienced in pet photos. Plus, she has a slight affinity for bulldogs. When the thought first crossed my mind that this might be something I’d want to do, I really didn’t consider anyone else.

How did the session go? Great! I absolutely cannot wait to see the pictures. And it’s now indisputable – Lucy just doesn’t like me all that much. Any time April tried to get a picture of Lucy and me, Lucy wanted nothing to do with me. Walked away time after time after time. It is quite clear I love her far more than she loves me.

Anyway, despite now cementing myself as crazy, I had a few valid reasons (at least they were valid in my own head) to do this. First, I adore this dog. Obviously. Right now, she’s pretty much the most significant thing in my life (besides my job – no job means no Lucy). I consider her part of my family; my lifestyle is based around her and I’m more than okay with that.

Second, I am really interested in photography. I have a DSLR camera of my own, like to shoot photos whenever I travel and LOVE looking at professional photographers’ work. So, I was highly interested in having a few really good photographs of Lucy. I appreciate good work and to me it’s worth the investment. These will last forever.

And speaking of forever, Lucy won’t be here forever. Not to be morbid, but a lot of bulldogs don’t reach double digits. Many do, but many don’t. She’s already 5 ½. Statistically speaking, that puts her on the back nine (golf metaphor for you). She’s active, healthy and happy – she’s not going anywhere soon; at least, I hope not. But I don’t see anything wrong with having some really good photos to remember her by and cherish forever.

And lastly, the least important reason: I don’t have many pictures of myself and Lucy and almost none I’d consider good. I am the least photogenic person ever. It’s a fact. I’m not a hideous creature but you wouldn’t know that if you saw pictures of me. It’s bad. So, if April got even 1-2 pictures with Lucy and me in which I look something like a normal human being, it’s worth it.

Plus, you know what feels good? Really not caring what other people think. I’m sure the general consensus is that I’m nuts. For someone who’s normally pretty stingy (that would be me), this is probably seen as a waste, not to mention flat out weird. But I don’t care. and that’s absolutely freeing.