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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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:

Lady

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

Kramer

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.

Poor Kramer

Yesterday marked six weeks to the day since I brought Kramer home and he/we celebrated his six weeks by getting him neutered and scheduling a dental.

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“Neutering means what?!”

The dental ended up being the more complicated of the two procedures. When the vet did an oral exam, he saw a lot of plaque and a few already missing teeth but thought that overall the plaque was the biggest issue. Not quite. Ends up Kramer had severe gum disease that wasn’t visible during an oral exam. While Kramer was under anesthesia and they began examining his mouth, the vet was able to stick his instrument almost a centimeter deep in some areas of Kramer’s gums – that’s not good.

Kramer came home with five teeth left. Not five teeth extracted. Five teeth left. According to the vet, teeth were falling out left and right with very little prodding; as the vet tried to clean one tooth, the other next to it would fall out. While one tooth looked ok, the x-rays revealed zero roots holding the tooth in.

My poor little buddy. He wasn’t woken up from anesthesia until 4:30 and I couldn’t pick him up until 7 p.m. He was still so incredibly out of it, as is expected. But because he’s always such an energetic, happy guy, it was such a stark difference from the doggie I dropped off. When Lady lost 14 teeth, she was groggy but Lady slept 90% of the day to begin with – it wasn’t such a drastic difference. Kramer was just not himself at all. He gave me the most half-hearted tail wag I’ve ever seen him give and just stared off into space.

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He was so groggy he thought Lucy was a chair.

He was the saddest little sight. He was falling asleep sitting up – he refused to lay down but couldn’t stay sitting up. His mouth incisions were still bleeding quite a bit and he just sat there, swaying, with his little tongue permanently sticking out of his mouth.

He wasn’t much more alert this morning – he still had little interest in food which made it hard to get his meds in him. I was able to get some of his meds into him with some peanut butter and by the time I came home at lunch to check on the doggies, he was dramatically better. His tail was wagging at full speed and he stood right up in his crate to greet me.

Getting the meds in him is still an issue; he must HATE the taste of one of them because he refuses it in all forms – mixed in food, mixed in peanut butter, mixed in whipped cream. And then he ate a few gulps of his canned food and promptly puked it up – all over my sandals.

I finally got some canned food to stay down and he ate 75% of his pain meds with peanut butter after much prompting and forcing of peanut butter in his mouth.

He is so much better tonight, puking aside. He’s energetic and starting to bark at mystery noises outside again. My poor guy – he’s going to feel so much better now, though, with all those painful teeth gone.

Be sure to check SNORT’s available page – he should be listed soon!

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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Kramer’s First Vet Visit

This evening Kramer had what was almost definitely his first-ever vet visit. All in all, a successful visit.

The quick rundown: he is heartworm and Lyme negative. At a healthy weight (maybe even slightly underweight). His heart sounds good. He has an enlarged prostate (which will be alleviated when he’s neutered) and bad teeth (which we’ll take care of with a dental while he’s under for the neuter). His eyes are good. His ears are dirty but nothing alarming.

And this picture accurately sums up our visit:

IMG_2057He really wasn’t as bad as this picture makes it look. He was just wriggly, squirmy and energetic for the entire visit. It often took three of us to hold him in place for basic stuff, like hearing his heart. He was having none of it – he wasn’t angry, per say, he was just confused and wiggly! He’s wiggly at home, too – sometimes it takes me a good 30 seconds to clip his leash on because he squirms so much!

We’re waiting on fecal test results and an estimate for his neuter/dental. If the estimate is too high we may have to find another vet but big picture, he’s pretty darn healthy all things considered.

Oh, and I’ve been a tad busy since Saturday afternoon. I agreed to watch Spike, former SNORT foster and now Marty’s dog. I’ve been dying to meet the guy and he was as adorable as I expected, but three dogs (one of which is close to 70 pounds and still all puppy) in 680 square feet was a bit of an exhausting challenge! Spike left this afternoon and everyone – Lucy, Kramer, me – will be recovering for a few days!

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24 Hours with Kramer

We’re just over 24 hours into bringing Kramer home. It’s been a hell of a 24 hours – not in a bad way but man, I like to cram a lot into a little amount of time.

I got back to Lancaster at 2:15 on Monday afternoon. At 2:30 I was right back on the road to pick up Kramer. At 3:00 Kramer was promptly dumped into my tub as it was discovered he has fleas. A lot of them. For five straight minutes, nothing but dirt, blood and fleas washed off of him. There was so much blood which shocked me when I first saw it pouring off. No blood was visible until I started bathing him. Those fleas were literally causing him to bleed and for God knows how long.

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Based on the amount of blood and dirt coming off him, he’s never been bathed in his life. But he was such a trooper. Trust me, it’s not my first choice to take a dog straight to the tub before his feet even touch the floor of his new home. But it had to be done. And while he wouldn’t stand on all fours in the tub, he was good as long as his front paws were propped up on the edge of the tub so he could touch me. In fact, once the bath started, I think he absolutely loved the warm water and massage. He was so itchy and it had to feel like heaven.

After drying him off, I plopped him in the crate and literally ran to my car to get emergency flea supplies. Thanks to the support of the SNORT group, I learned of a product called capstar (it’s a pill) that kills fleas on dogs within 30 minutes. And boy did that stuff work as promised. Within 30 minutes 100s more (dead) fleas were literally falling off him. By the time we went to bed, his itching was already dramatically decreased. No new fleas whatsoever. Magic product, I tell you. And once the fleas started falling off, I brushed him for a while. His eyes literally closed in ecstasy.

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I know, ridiculously cute.

As with all puppy mill dogs, I had no idea what to expect before seeing him for the first time. He was surrendered by an Amish puppy mill breeder who said Kramer was “no longer doing his job.” I’ll just leave it there. Enough said.

No photos were taken of him and no information was given. And that’s what I got upon pickup – nothing. No paperwork. No vaccination history. NO NAME. That’s right, eight years and he never had a name. My favorite show is Seinfeld so Kramer was an obvious choice. Plus, he really does act like Kramer – he makes his presence known in the goofiest and noisiest of ways. For instance, he must mark a spot three times. No more, no less.

As you can see in the photos, though, he’s a super handsome dog. Dark fawn color and now that he’s been bathed, he has the softest, fluffiest fur. He is a pug through and through. Must have a human in his sight at all times. Spastic and snorty but so sweet.

Fortunately, Kramer seems to be crate trained – despite spending 95% of his time thus far in the crate, he’s had zero accidents. He has done his business outside, as well. The only incidents we’ve had indoors have been two marking incidents. He’s clearly marking, not peeing to empty his bladder. While the end result is the essentially same, his intent is different; I’m choosing to see it as a positive that he knows to take care of his business outside and I’ll deal with the marking as we go. Hopefully the longer he’s here the less he feels the need to mark – plus getting neutered will help. I’m also trying out the belly band today to see if he tolerates it.

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One week from today he has a vet visit. If this guy’s ever been to the vet I’d be shocked; plus, there’s zero record of any visit that may have happened. I’m really hoping he doesn’t have heartworm or Lyme. I’m expecting he will have something we need to address – it certainly appears he’s spent his entire life outside with zero care.

And Lucy? She’s less than thrilled. Poor girl had a busy and tiring weekend to begin with then I literally rushed in the door with Kramer. I’m thankful that so far Kramer hasn’t been overly interested and most definitely has yet to show signs of aggression. Again, they’ve been separated 95% of the time so far and she won’t even walk by his crate she’s so scared (for zero reason. He has done nothing to her and he’s inside a locked crate). Clearly part of it is her just being her neurotic self. But I do feel badly; I always do. I don’t think she ever loves when I have a foster around. But fostering is important to me and I always make sure she gets just as much attention as she always does, if not a bit more.

I really did decide to tackle a lot this past weekend – a long weekend in NJ, a late-night concert (Fleetwood Mac which was worth 10 times over but also saw me get back to my parents’ at 2 a.m. Sunday night/Monday morning) and then picking up Kramer 10 minutes after getting back to Lancaster before proceeding to de-flea him and go grocery shopping for the week. And then back into the work week routine at 4:30 this morning.

Fortunately, I have no more travel plans for a while – hence why I chose this time to get a new foster. We should be able to settle into a good routine and get Kramer healthy and on his way to finding a forever home!