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

lucy

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.

Advertisements

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

18157665_1178863168903267_6105380928263622426_n

I think I count four chins in this photo.

Dad’s Retirement Party

18519702_10101419448251259_3384565327584714876_n

Amanda’s Wedding

18486392_10101425515916609_1294773384601783728_n (1)

St. Croix/Birthday

Battle Royale

20604559_10101522361247789_6135872600597391049_n.jpg

Fleetwood Mac Concert

Kramer

Pet Photo Session

Hershey Half-Marathon

73797665-201710150919420003784%23evhhm17%230-UNKN%23%7BIEVH-HM17-0000-3784%7D%23X.jpg

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.

IMG_0461

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.

cindyrolling2_0129

Pre-potty rolling session

couch dogs

cindy floor

Squishy.

lucy_cindy pillow

IMG_0200

Smiles

IMG_0207

She LOVED pillows.

IMG_0246

That face.

lounging_0263

More pillows.

20130423_192532

After heartworm treatment.

cindy waiting2

Sweet Cindy waiting at the vet.

IMG_0190IMG_0440

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.

IMG_3222.JPG

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.

IMG_2335

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.

IMG_3339.JPG

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.

IMG_2387

– 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.

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.

FullSizeRender (4).jpg

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.

FullSizeRender (2).jpg

“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.

FullSizeRender (3).jpg

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.

IMG_2273.JPG

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).

IMG_2387.JPG

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.

IMG_2335.JPG

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.

IMG_2376.JPG

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!

IMG_2273.JPG

St. Croix, Take II

Almost exactly two years after first vacationing in St. Croix, I was back again last week. My parents are down there for five (!) weeks; they usually spend roughly 10 days in St. Croix each time they visit but since my dad retired in April, they decided to stretch it to five weeks this time and I joined them for one of those weeks for my own vacation.
IMG_1846.JPG
And it was wonderful. A perfect mix of relaxation and exploration. I was there for a total of seven full days, including Father’s Day and my birthday, which made the whole week a bit more special. Of those seven days, four were beach days and three were touristy-type days which was the perfect mix.

The beaches were fantastic, as was the water, and the historic sights we visited were fascinating. I also must have read four books all in one week and went through wine just as quickly. Hey, it was vacation AND my birthday week.

My dad joined a gym down there and I tagged along with him for four of the days I was there (I have a CrossFit competition at the end of July so I couldn’t afford to slack on my training too much) and also dropped into the CrossFit box down there twice (shout-out to 340 CrossFit). Holy heck, no AC + CrossFit = near death. I have never, ever sweat so much in my life. And each time I went, running was involved, so in addition to lack of oxygen inside, we were subjected to ungodly hot temps outside. I still had a blast, though. It was CrossFit, after all!

All in all, it was so good to get away. I did not check work email once and was really able to disconnect and relax. Lots of time to reflect on the past year, especially on my birthday. Year 32 was the most eventful year I’ve probably ever had – some good, some not-so-good. I’ve taken steps forward in some areas of my life and steps back in others. Such is life, I suppose.

Anyway, here’s a photo dump of my wonderful week in St. Croix! And for those of you wondering, an update on what Lucy was up to while I was gone is at the end!

IMG_1849.JPG

IMG_1903.JPG

Estate Mount Washington

IMG_1927.JPG

View from Hams Bluff

IMG_2097.JPG

Whim Plantation

IMG_1994.JPG

The only way you’d get me on a bike would be after stopping at the full bar

IMG_2012.JPG

IMG_1835.JPG

19399584_10101467814240429_1590052340797525680_n.jpg

19399913_10101467814255399_4830974731799288640_n

19430124_10101467814260389_587546158377454874_n.jpg

And Lucy? She was being dog-sat by a wonderful friend who stepped up big time when I was in a pinch. Lucy had a blast and was spoiled beyond belief. She honestly didn’t seem all that excited to see me when I got back!

19239606_959498997525629_1370635553_n.jpg

Yes, a pool was bought for Lucy and the other resident dog. #spoileddogs

19244212_958667344275461_624749133_n

Told you, spoiled

In a Funk

The past two weeks or so, I’ve been in a definite funk. Not sure if it’s the fact that vacation is so close but still so far. And while it is vacation and I. cannot. wait., there’s still stress involved – making arrangements for Lucy, traveling solo, packing, etc.

IMG_8432

Cannot wait to be back here.

I have managed my (diagnosed) depression well for quite a few years now but there are still ups and downs with the downs being probably a bit lower than the average person’s and this is just one of those down times.

But it also hit me the other day – I’ve been without a foster for just about three months now, one of my longest stretches. It’s been a conscious decision – I knew I needed to wait until after vacation – but fostering gives me such a sense of purpose; I feel lacking in purpose without a foster. So I am definitely going to foster again, I just have to find the right foster. I live in such a small apartment (680 square feet) that I’m limited to dogs who don’t need a ton of space and aren’t overly energetic (there is absolutely nowhere to burn off steam in this apartment and with it getting to be hot outside, outside time will be limited for short-nosed dogs for the foreseeable future!).

18740696_10101435264590189_5223430375846211594_n.jpg

Foster #6, Blossom. Her dad sent me this photo a few weeks ago – clearly living the life!

There are still far more good days than bad days and I am loving life in my new home. I feel more refreshed than I ever did at any point during the 10-plus years in my previous career field. To be blatantly honest, it’s wonderful not being the boss anymore! Some people are meant to be bosses and while I’m not saying I’ll never be a boss of anyone again, right now it’s so freaking nice to not be in charge of anyone.

And Lucy has, of course, kept me sane and happy. I just love spending my weekends with her and while she won’t show it, I think she likes our new arrangement.

18921687_10101448054489129_1476056977894548721_n.jpg

Celebrating National Best Friends Day.

18740676_10101436502404599_629917223763924041_n.jpg

There’s been a lot of this going on.

18921945_10101446360977939_8614076364197078908_n

Spending lots of time outside.