Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Running in Circles

Unfortunately, over the past few years I've lost my teenage metabolism and grown to a much larger size than I had ever expected. The weight really does just sneak up on you. I didn't realize how big my love handles had gotten until I started working out and they started going away.

Yes, I've started working out. Gary and I got a gym membership and I've actually put in the effort to use it unlike past gym memberships. But hanging out in the gym is not always ideal. It's really hot and often smelly and it always feels like someone is watching me workout. I also have this puppy at home with an endless amount of energy...

Now, I come from a family of runners so I've always felt like running should just come naturally to me. It doesn't. I'm incredibly slow and I get shin splints and I tend to get bored (I mean the treadmills at the gym have TVs. I can watch as many trashy vh1 reality shows as I want). But as I was watching JD viciously chase his tail and considering a trip to the gym, I decided to try running again. Running with the pup.

A few months ago we purchased a "gentle leader" in a last ditch attempt to find something that would help with JD's relentless pulling on the leash. We had already tried body harnesses and face harnesses with no luck because they either didn't fit or just weren't an effective design. So when PetCo came to town, the "gentle leader" was the first thing I looked for. A friend had recommended it to me last summer, saying it calmed her golden retriever way down and made her a lot easier to handle on walks.

I swear this thing is magic. Before, I couldn't walk JD without coming home with red fingers and scuffed shoes. Now, I can walk him with no problem. A skinny piece of material wraps around his nose, but is loose enough so he can open his mouth and pant or chase balls. Then there's a collar part to go around his neck. The leash attaches to a metal loop hanging down from the nose piece. So if he pulls, his head gets pulled back and he has to look at me and watch me say, "no."

Anyways, walking with him had turned into a joy and now I was considering running with him. I had visions of bloody knees, broken teeth, and being dragged down Riverside Drive. I also had visions of cars squishing him or me or both of us. But I hooked him up anyways and we took off. And he did so well! He stayed right by me at a nice trot (my running speed is like fast walking for him) and was great motivation to keep going because he definitely wasn't ready to stop. He has a bit of a zig-zagging problem, though, so we had to stop a few times to unravel, but the trip was well worth it and he was pooped by the time we got home.

So JD is my new running buddy and as my lung capacity slowly gets better and my blubber slowly starts melting away, we run for longer and longer. I don't want you to think I'm neglecting the other dogs, though. Max is a beagle. He doesn't run unless he wants to run. He would probably just sit down and look at me like, "you're going to have to drag me." Crimson would probably love to go on runs, but he has back problems and will get really stiff and rickety. So we're sticking with park/beach/around the block walks for those two.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Few of my Favorite Things...

When you have three dogs, it's nearly impossible for nice things not to get destroyed in some way or another. Some of this is due to carelessness on my part; leaving my underwear on the floor is a clear invitation to rip it apart. And it is no coincidence that restaurants put leftovers in a "doggie bag," so if it's left in the car with a doggie, a doggie's going to eat it.

The other night I was on the floor, working on a crochet project. I had many crocheted squares laid out in the pattern that I wanted them and I was beginning to attach all of them to make a precious little baby blanket for a friend who's having twins. Focused in on my stitches, I didn't realize there were two dogs on top of my project. Not just on top of it; Max was rolling around on it like he was rolling in a bowl full of dog treats. "Really, Max? Really?" I shooed him and JD away from the blanket. Later, Crimson strutted over and stood in the middle of it. "Crimson, no, move. No, Crimson. Move. Move. Mooooooove. Don't lay down. No. No. Nooooooo!" He looked right into my eyes and laid down on top of the blanket. I nudged him with my foot and he just looked at me like, "I'm old. You can't make me move."

But laying on projects or clothes or paperwork is only the tip of the iceberg. I can't even tell you how many times I've come home to something of mine having been completely ruined. Because it's never Gary's stuff, it's always my stuff. My underwear, my books, my flowers, my laptop. About 95% of the time, Mr. Puppy is the culprit, although Max will eat a whole plate of food in the 3 seconds it takes you to grab a fork out of the kitchen and come back. JD is now 1 1/2 years old so he's mostly out of his chewing-on-everything phase, but not quite all the way. I used to set things on top of his kennel because, well, it's convenient. But then he started pulling things through the holes in his kennel and eating them. Like an entire sleeve of a sweatshirt. An entire sleeve. All the way up to the armpit. Of a brand new sweatshirt. So I guess that was my bad for leaving a sweatshirt draped over his kennel, teasing him, just as it's my bad for leaving things on the floor/in the open that I know are too tempting to leave alone. But peeing on my laptop was surely uncalled for.

A few months ago Gary was in Seattle for an out of town bachelor party. And JD wasn't happy about it. I was sitting on the floor with my laptop laying, closed, beside me. Now, JD is very good about letting us know when he has to go potty and at this point in time, he hadn't had an accident in the house in a very long time. He should have been banging the doorknob with his nose, but instead he just peed right where he was. I heard this sound like water being poured on plastic and turned to see JD's leg lifted over my precious MacBook. "Nooooooooooooooo!!!!" I lunged at him, trying to redirect the stream. I pushed him outside and began mopping up my laptop. I called Gary in tears, "JD....peed...on my...computer," I said in between sobs. Gary heard nothing but, "JD...waaaaaaaahhhh...hiccup...computer!" I filled a bucket with all the rice we had in our house and submerged the laptop. Later, I attempted to turn it on, the fan started running, then stopped, and the screen stayed black. I called Gary again and wailed some more and he promised me I wouldn't lose everything on my computer. When he got back, he took it to the computer-fixer-store and they said the urine had fried some kind of something inside and they could replace it, but it wouldn't be worth the money. So in the end, I got a brand new MacBook Pro, but it was really expensive and there went my tax return.

JD has not since peed on anything of mine, but he has knocked over various potted plants, chewed up at least three books, destroyed a bajillion pairs of underwear, ripped a hole in a pair of pants, and broken a crochet needle in half. So if you have dogs and you want to have nice things, put them away. My new MacBook has yet to see the ground and I no longer put things on top of puppy's kennel. But who knows what I'll forget to pick up next...

Friday, July 13, 2012

Back in the Groove

It's been a while...

I finally graduated in December with a BA in English (emphasis in creative writing) and have since joined the adult world workforce so that I can start paying my half of the rent. But I figured if I want to be a writer, I should probably write instead of complain about my boring, not challenging, stupid, boring job so that someday I can fulfill my dream. So here I am, bringing my blog back from the dead.

I am no longer a stay at home dog mom, I'm now a working dog mom. The boys (including Gary) and I have worked ourselves into a pretty functional routine for the day. While Gary and I are at work Crimson, Max, and JD get to hang out in our bedroom. JD gets to be in a very large, bird cage looking kennel with a big fluffy bed as he is still young and feisty and not trustworthy by himself. Max puts himself on our bed and snuggles with my pillow. Crimson's hips have grown weary and he only gets on the bed if one of us helps him, but he generally prefers the floor anyways, with his head on one of the many other dog beds. Gary and I come home for lunch and let them outside and give them snuggles and loves until we have to go back to work for the rest of the afternoon.

It sounds like an okay set up. Not ideal, of course, especially since the dogs had gotten used to me being home pretty much all day every day as I had mostly online classes my last semester. It was hard for them to adjust and it was hard for me to let go. I felt like a new mom dropping my baby off at day care for the first time, watching him press his nose against the window as I drove away. Heartbreaking.

Now I sit in an office 7.5 hours a day and wish I was home with the dogs while I simultaneously wonder what they are destroying now. Max enjoys shredding tissues, taking them right out of the box as if he needed to blow his nose, but instead viciously tearing them apart. JD has gone through at least 3 beds in his kennel. I find dog bed fluff everywhere as it spills out of his area and gets kicked into all corners of the room, bathroom, kitchen. I've threatened him numerous times that he'll have to be in the kennel with no bed, but I can never do it. And I even got bitter spray to make the dog bed not taste good, but I think he liked the taste even more.

It's not just that it's annoying to have fluff all over the place and to have to replace his bed every few months. Last time I took JD to the vet, he told me that labs like to eat things (everything), which I was quite aware of as I explained to him how JD stole napkins from laps and somehow, over a couple of months, ingested an entire plastic bowl. He also told me that we really should try to keep him from eating these things. Apparently they could get caught in his innards and make him very sick or cause him to die. We really don't want that, so we have been doing everything in our power to discourage the bed fluff eating. He's just a hungry, growing boy!

Max and JD have constantly been in this destroying mood, upset that they aren't getting attention from anyone for a few hours, while Crimson is very calm and wise. Until the Fourth of July...
We've always known that Crimson is a huge pansy when it comes to loud noises. He cries all night long when the Taku Winds start in the winter, cowers when the vacuum turns on, and barks at all sorts of bangs and bumps. So as we geared up to go watch the fireworks show on the third, Gary turned on the radio in our room to try and drown out the fire crackers being lit off in our neighborhood. Success. But a few days later, as people still thought the festivities should continue, we forgot to turn on the radio when we left for a few hours and came back to a big hole ripped out of the carpet behind the door. And in front of Gary's nightstand. All the way down to the floorboards. Oops.

The fireworks have finally subsided and we've learned our lesson that as Crimson gets old and senile, it is absolutely necessary to give him puppy Valium on the loud holidays. And that you just can't have nice things if you have three dogs. And how important their companionship is to me, especially now that I don't get to hang out with them all day and keep them safe from the terrible fluff in their beds, despicable tissues, and things that go bang.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Return of the JD

So about three days after JD passed, we realized that the house was too quiet. There was no head in my lap as I tried to do homework, there were no battles at dinner time, there was no leash wrapping around my legs when I took the dogs for walks...what was so wrong? Most people would think that two dogs is more than enough, but to tell you the truth, it was too easy.

Don't get me wrong, Max and Crimson are incredibly high maintenance and quite the handful, but for some reason Gary and I felt that the house had grown quiet; deafeningly quiet. So we began to look for a new addition to the family. Now, you may find this insensitive to the memory of our old pup, but our thoughts were that we were going to find the perfect puppy to uphold his memory. And we found him.

Meet JD Richter Stephens III (Richter was his name when we got him, so we just kept it as his middle name. Yes dogs need middle names). He is a lab-retriever mix just like JD II and he looks just like him. Through hours of research, Gary came across this little guy and his sister, Sunny, at a shelter in Sacramento. With no time to lose, Gary and I took advantage of his Alaska Airlines flight benefits and booked it to Sac-Town. Gary's trip down was flawless, mine not so much, but that's another story. Gary picked JD up, shaking and covered in pee at a PetSmart near Sacramento. He put him in a shopping card and spent two hours in the store buying him food, a kennel, wee wee pads, and a brand new collar. I met them later that evening and knew immediately that Gary and I had fallen in love with this puppy.

We brought him home in a little mesh bag that fit underneath the seat on the plane. You have no idea how much attention you get when you have a puppy with you. Honestly, I think he's the only reason we got on the plane with our standby status. He was perfectly behaved on the plane, sleeping almost the whole time and sticking his head out of the bag to see what was going on the rest of the time. He put his paws on snow for the first time that evening, and I have to say he liked it. That little Cali boy rolled around like he'd lived here forever.

A few weeks, a few pairs of underwear and socks, and a computer cord later, we are doing very well with chewing and potty training. Gary has taught him to sit and lay down and is now working on "stay." JD is already so much bigger than he was when we got him, but such a cuddly little baby. He has so much energy and brings out the best in Max and Crimson. I haven't seen Max play with dog toys until we brought JD III home. He wrestles with the old dogs, making them seem just as young as he is. I think that his presence will prolong their lives for sure. While we love JD III, we will never ever ever forget JD II, who has been enshrined on a bookshelf in our living room. Our new JD has lots of similar personality traits and looks so much like our old pup that it actually gets me choked up sometimes, especially when I stroke his puppy fur and remember how soft JD II was; still so puppy-like. I miss that old guy so much and all of the love that he brought to our home, but I am also so glad that we rescued this puppy from the shelter and brought him home with us. Our home feels whole again. It is busy and restless and warm and loving.

There are some people who think we are crazy for getting another dog. Three dogs? That's outrageous! But Gary and I are dog people and this just feels perfect to us. I couldn't imagine a bed with no dogs on it. I couldn't imagine a kitchen with no paws underfoot. I couldn't imagine a yard with no dog poo land mines. I love Max's seal belly on my feet at night and I love JD's little yips at dinner time and I love Crimson's wisdom as he takes the role of oldest. So maybe we're crazy for loving all this craziness, but I think that in this insanity is when we are at our best. This JD puppy saved us just as we saved him. He already has so much love for us and we have so much love for him. I don't know what it's like to give birth to my own child, but I feel like this love is just about equivalent. These boys are our babies and we live for them.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Death of St. Valentine

I've never been a huge fan of Valentine's day. I always loved giving and receiving all the cute little store-bought cards in elementary school and I will always love the candy that is included. As for romantic dinners and mushy gifts, I'm not so hip to it. The boyfriend and I didn't have big plans for V-Day this year; maybe dinner, maybe a movie, but we absolutely didn't expect to celebrate it the way we did.

Our baby, JD, has left us on Valentine's Day 2011. Three months away from turning 17, he just couldn't go on. He was so old and so tired he finally let go. After three seizures in three months, he just couldn't recover. On Sunday morning we woke up to a JD that refused to even sit up. As the vet was closed and we knew what was in store, we spent the day cuddling him on the floor, nursing him with water from a turkey baster, and propping him up enough to feed him his favorite treats. That night Gary, his brother, and I all slept in the living room with JD. We knew it would probably be our last night with him. None of us slept.

At noon on Monday, Gary took JD outside and set him down for one last peepee in the Juneau snow. We took Gary's truck. I drove because Gary didn't feel comfortable driving, his mom sat in the middle cradling JD's head, Gary sat in the passenger seat stroking JD's belly.

We told our favorite vet all that had happened and that we thought his time was up and he agreed with us. The doctor gave JD a sedative and then left us all alone with him to say goodbye. The four of us stood around him, telling him how much we loved him and what a good dog he had been. Eventually the doctor came back in and administered the shot that would put him to sleep forever. Gary held his hand over JD's heart as it slowly stopped beating.

Everyone cried. Everyone's heart is broken. We spent more time with him even after he was gone, making sure he always knew how much we all have loved him. Before we left, I buried my face in his fur, his soft puppy-like fur, and told him there was no dog out there like him and that we'll never be able to replace him.

We took his collar off to take with us and Gary made arrangements to have him cremated. I almost feel like we're going to have him back when his urn shows up on Wednesday. I want him to come back so bad. Even with the other two dogs still running around the house, it feels like someone is missing. Someone is missing.

Gary and his family got that dog when Gary was five years old. His mom saw them at the airport and picked the runt that was trying to drag a duffel bag across the sidewalk. He ended up being the sweetest, most playful old dog. I already miss his panting and his drooly muzzle in my lap. I miss picking up his butt when he falls down and how peaceful he looks when he sleeps. I miss clapping for him to come because he can't hear me yell his name. I miss his ears flopping when he runs. JD was a part of our family. A member of our family is gone and we are all devastated, but so happy that he isn't in pain any more.

I believe that JD is in a better place now because all dogs go to heaven. And hopefully he will be reincarnated in the next JD puppy that comes our way.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ooooooh Christmas Tree

Sundays are a special day for Gary and I. They are special because Sundays are Gary's only days off. Between Gary's six day work weeks and my evening classes, we don't get to spend a whole lot of time together. The time in the evenings that we do spend together, we are generally exhausted and lazy and simply share our days over a lovely meal or during commercial breaks. Sundays are different. Oh so different. On Sundays we sleep in and wake up slow, we watch football, make breakfast (or brunch), and make plans for all the wonderful things we need to do, making sure to include a nice walk for the dogs.

Today was no exception. We woke up late, started some chores, then set off with the dogs up to Eaglecrest to cut down some Christmas trees. We put all three dogs in the cab of my truck because it was too cold for them to sit in the bed and once we got the trees, they wouldn't fit. So in the very small space in the back seat of my very small Mazda truck, Crimson and JD cuddled up and Max sat on my lap up front. Max is an incredibly smart Beagle and if he can see out the window while we're driving, he knows exactly where he is going. He knows that if we are driving out North Douglas that he is a) going to go for a walk or b) going to see my dad. When he realizes that one or both of these things is going to happen, he starts to whimper and whine and fidget. So as soon as we got on the bridge to Douglas, Max began to turn in circles on my lap, whining in my face. Sorry kneecaps.

We finally reached the road to Eaglecrest and pulled over to go search the meadows for the perfect tree. All three dogs leashed and ready, we broke our way through the brush and crunched through the snow in our Xtra Tuffs. Once we were far enough away from the road, I let Max and Crimson run off leash, but as JD is a little bit senile decided to keep him on the leash and close by. Gary found a tree for his grandparents right away; a sweet little jack pine or "Charlie Brown" tree. Those are the ones his family loves, I don't know why, it's just their tradition. So he sawed it down and went off to throw it in the truck while the dogs and I went to search for another perfect tree for Gary's aunt. I had to tug on JD's leash a lot to keep him going. He's a little bit blind and I don't think he completely trusted me to lead him in the right direction. I don't blame him, I've fell in plenty of snow holes leading myself down the wrong path.

Gary came back and found us...wait, where's Max? We whistled and called for him, each of us saying, "I can hear him, but I can't see him." Beagle Boy's black, brown, and white spots blend in a little too well with the trees and snow. After a few minutes I spotted his neon green leash trailing behind him and remembered why I had bought that particular leash.

We found another tree for Gary's aunt, but couldn't find one for ourselves because we're not really into the jack pine tradition. It was starting to get dark so we decided to take the trees we had cut down and go buy ourselves a pre-cut tree because we didn't want to wait until next weekend to go on another tree cutting adventure. And I'm so glad we did because it smells soooo nice (although the smell is so nice, I'm afraid a dog will pee on it). Gary's grandparents and aunt were very appreciative. We even got some rice krispy treats and $10 out of it.

Now after wrestling our own tree into the house and into the stand, then scaring all the dogs with the vacuum, our tree is up and I think it'll probably be another week before we get the chance to decorate it.

Friday, December 3, 2010

In the Dog House

So I slept on the couch last night...

I was up until 1 AM doing homework so Gary went to bed without me. When I went in the bedroom, JD was curled up in the middle of the bed and Gary was halfway onto my side of the bed. Now, I was okay with JD being on the bed because he had a very rough day. JD had a seizure which scared the crap out of us and made him completely lethargic (he's fine now, don't worry). Anyways, I succeeded in squeezing in next to them and falling asleep quite quickly.

Around 5:00 I realized that the room felt like it was nine million degrees. Oh never mind, all of the blankets were piled on top of me. I kicked off the covers and resituated my pillow. That's when JD woke up and started panting. When JD pants, it isn't quiet; he pants with his entire body. Not only was he shaking the bed, but he was so loud that I couldn't fall back asleep. After tossing and turning for awhile, I figured out that if I put my hand on JD's head he would lay down and be quiet. The problem with that was I had to lay across Gary's legs to reach JD. Instead I took Gary's dead asleep lifeless hand and propped it on top of JD. Finally, sleep, precious sleep.

Before I could fall back asleep, Max started snoring. It wasn't his normal snore either. It was like he had started a lawn mower in our room. I got up and moved him several times, trying to open his airways and when that didn't work I threw a pillow at him. But then I was missing a pillow. So now it was 6:30 and I had to be up in an hour. And that is when I ended up on the couch where the air is cooler and no one snores or pants.