How a Non-Morning Person Tackles a VERY Early Morning

February 25, 2019 11:00 AM

I’m not a morning person. I never have been. At times, I’ve found that having dogs can collide with my natural inclination to sleep-in past, say, dawn. That was not the case this morning. This morning I got woke up before dawn. Several hours before dawn, actually, and it wasn’t even the dogs’ fault this time.

This morning at 4:42 AM, I woke up to Herbie, one of our cats, hoarking up a mondo hairball at the end of our bed. He not only woke up me, but he also woke up the dogs, who really didn’t appreciate getting up that early, either. I don’t think Herbie cared about the dirty looks that any of us gave him, though. He just proceeded to defile the end of the bed, jumped down and started to groom himself so that he has enough ammunition for the next hairball, which is due in about four days, according to his schedule.

Herbieheart

Herbie, the hairball hoarker. This picture is courtesy of our awesome pet sitter, Addy from Prad’s Posh Pet Care. I especially like the hearts that look like devil horns because that pretty much sums up Herbie’s personality. Sweet but naughty.

There aren’t too many moments in human or pet parenthood that quite compare to having to get up and clean up a stinky, grody hairball at 4:42 in the morning with two grumpy dogs who refuse to move off the covers that need to be removed from the bed. The only moment that comes to mind is being barfed on by a small child who assures you he isn’t going to get sick when he crawls into bed with you in the middle of the night. That was worse. But this was close.

After I stripped off the quilt, the blankets and the top sheet and found a different quilt to use for the rest of the night, I was pretty much up for day. Did I mention I am not a morning person? I went to bed around 1 am last night. It does not thrill me to be up before the sun for any reason, but it’s especially unpleasent when I haven’t been asleep for even four hours. At least today, I was productive with my extra time that should have been dedicated to sleeping.

So far, I’ve done four loads of laundry (mattress pad, sheets, blanket and quilt), cooked eight pounds of dog food and two pounds of German potato salad to use up the bacon Dennis defrosted this weekend but we never got around to frying. I’ve straightened the house, cleaned the kitchen, did the dishes, scrubbed the shower and took a shower, did my hair and put on make-up. I even put mascara on my eyebrows! (I didn’t know that was a thing before this morning when I was watching Youtube videos on my iPad while debating if I should get up or not.) It actually works pretty well. Who knew!

I suppose there are benefits to getting up that early. I’ve got a full days worth of chores done before 11 am which frees me up for the rest of the day to write. Or play video games. And maybe nap. Probably definitely nap. That is the only silver lining to getting woke up that early on this very cold (it’s 3 degrees outside according to my phone) Monday morning. I got stuff done.

Of course, half the stuff I did (laundry) wouldn’t have needed to be done if Herbie had jumped down off the bed and barfed on the floor like a gentleman. Maybe next time. I’ll know in another four days or so.

11:19 AM

Sunday Morning Moment

February 24th, 2019 10:40 AM

I think it’s hard to be happy when you know others are suffering. Which makes it extremely hard to be happy in our world today. Politics aside, there are so many people hurting in our country and abroad.

Parents purchase backpacks lined with Kevlar for their children in an attempt to offer some sort of protection, even if just psychological, against the numerous school shootings we live with now.

Wars and violence turn millions of families into refugees, forced to give up everything for a chance to live and to ensure their children have a future.

Natural disasters strike without warning and people lose their homes and their lives. There’s illness and suffering and death. Some I know personally, some I do not, but I feel for them all, regardless.

It feels like one almost has to be unfeeling to be happy in this world. To put up a wall of Teflon to block out all the pain that we know surrounds us every day. There’s a high price to that strategy, though, because Teflon isn’t discriminating. It blocks out everything, pain AND joy, leaving just a flat surface that nothing or no one can penetrate.

So what’s the answer? I’m not sure there is one. For me, it’s enjoying the good in the moments, even when those moments are woven with sorrow and worry and loss which are a part of life.

This Sunday morning, a cold, windy, no-sun gray Wisconsin day, I sat down to write in my warm house, with my husband and my pets around me, and I felt incredibly happy and at peace. The world is a hard place now, harder than it’s been during my lifetime, I think, but this moment in my life is good in spite of it.

I am lucky. I am aware. I am grateful.

cat tree

Three cats enjoying the cat tree earlier this week we actually saw the sun for a few hours.

11:04 AM

Christmas with an INFJ and Five Four-legged Hoodlums

December 21, 2018 4:03 PM

I’m not a fan of Christmas. I don’t think of myself as a Scrooge character, per se. It’s not like I begrudge other’s from enjoying the holiday season — whichever holiday it is they choose to celebrate. Christmas and all the hoopla that surrounds it just seems to touch on everything I hate. Here’s a few of the major challenges I face every year.

Socializing. My Myers Briggs personality type is INFJ. The I stands for introverted. (Read more about INFJ in I Always Knew I was an Odd Duck )That means I don’t like large gatherings of people of any kind. I define a large gathering as a guest list with over four in attendance. Unless there are playing cards involved. Then I’m good with six, maybe seven in attendance at the most. Since most Christmas get-togethers involve more than four people and do not involve playing cards, I generally avoid them whenever possible.

Awkward gift-giving. When you give a gift and they don’t – or worse, they give a gift and you don’t. I realized this year that I inadvertently put myself and my neighbor in this position.

My neighbor has dogs. I have dogs. We’ve become a bit friendly in the past couple of years because of our conversations about the dogs — as in are your large, unleashed German Shepards going to eat my small Pomeranian mix? And I’m really sorry my old, cranky Bichon Mix bit your unleashed miniature poodle who wandered into my yard while my dog was leashed.

Seriously. My neighbor is a very nice guy. Who doesn’t leash his dogs. But I like dogs and his dogs are friendly, friendlier than mine are, so it’s all good. Last fall, around early November, I had accumulated a bunch of new toys that my dogs didn’t like for whatever reason. I put them all in a bag and gave them to the neighbor thinking his dogs might like them. Christmas Eve last year, the neighbor showed up with doggie gift boxes for my dogs and, horror of horrors, I had nothing for him. Not so much as a Christmas card (because I don’t send Christmas cards). I was so embarrassed. I’ve been embarrassed for the past year because of my faux pas. I was determined that it wouldn’t happen again this year.

I shopped in early December and bought doggie toys for the neighbor’s dogs. (No, I didn’t buy him three leashes, although I was tempted). I wrapped some of the toys and put bows on the gift boxes. I’ve been ready for him to stop over with his Christmas gift for two weeks. This afternoon, I saw he was outside so I sent Dennis out with the bag of gifts for his dogs. I even put in a Christmas card. (I got several sent to me when I donated to an animal fund).

When Dennis gave the gifts to the neighbor, the neighbor looked at the bag in horror and said, “Oh no, not again this year!”

Oh my God. The neighbor misinterpreted my dumping off gently used dog toys last year as an early Christmas gift! He was reciprocating my used toys with his Christmas gift last year. It’s like the reverse Gift of the Magi. Neither one of us wants to exchange Christmas gifts but we’re doing it anyway.

God, I really hate Christmas. INFJ’s don’t have nearly enough tact or social skills to deal with these kinds of situations. (Doug, if you happen to read this blog, please don’t reciprocate with a gift this year. We’ll call it even and ignore Christmas next year!)

Christmas Cards. I like getting mail as much as the next guy, but then there’s the problem of what to do with the cards I receive. Do I put them on the mantle and let the cats knock them down and the dogs chew the paper? Do I scotch tape them to a door frame and let the cat chew the scotch tape, knock down the cards and have the dogs chew them? It seems like a shame not to display them. And it seems like shame to read them and throw them away. So I end up tucking them away in my bill box for a month until I need the space for all the Christmas bills that are pouring in and I throw them away in February and feel guilty for not enjoying them more. Only an INFJ can feel guilty about a Christmas card.

I did send Christmas cards once upon a time when I still bowed to the social expectations of the holiday. I didn’t enjoy it. I never knew what to say. I always ended up sending them out on the 23rd so most people didn’t get their card before the holiday anyway. Slowly, I parsed down my list to only the really old relatives who would be offended if they didn’t get one. Now those relatives are all dead, so I don’t send out any cards out any more. I know that probably sounds tactless and harsh, but it’s the truth. If you don’t get a Christmas card from me, don’t be offended. Be flattered. You’re not old in my eyes.

Holiday Decorating. This one is probably the greatest bane of my holiday hate-list. I do not like decorating anything. Houses. Christmas Trees. Cookies. Don’t like decorating any of them. Christmas is nothing if not all about the decorating.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy a nicely decorated house for Christmas. I just don’t want to do it. And I don’t have a talent for it so when I did do it, it didn’t look very good. Plus, there’s the five four-legged hoodlums that rule the house which would destroy a Christmas tree and, more importantly, make themselves sick from eating stuff they’re not supposed to. One cat eats ribbon, tinsel and bows. Two cats eat plastic. All of them eat yarn. One dog steals whatever is dangling within his reach and eats it. Any Christmas decoration I have has to be something that’s not tempting to eat, chew or climb. That leaves this.

xmas

This is a small ceramic Christmas tree I bought for my mom at a craft fair thirty-two years ago. We unplug it and put it in a cabinet every night so the four-legged hoodlum cats can’t knock it off the table.  There’s also a small fabric Christmas tree on the kitchen table which you can sort of see in the corner of the picture. It’s crooked and bit sad seeing as how I’m not the greatest seamstress. It’s also bare, since a hoodlum cat pulled off all the bows last year, and I had to remove the bells because another hoodlum cat was trying to eat them, but at least it’s something.

Holiday Baking. I like to cook. I do not like to bake. It’s fussy and it requires lots of measuring which means lots of things to wash. However, I do have fond memories of Christmas cookies and do feel that having a few of the standby’s are a necessity for Christmas. So I suck it up and bake Pecan Fingers and Peanut Butter Blossom cookies every year. On a good year I’ll do a roll out sugar cookie and decorate it with colored sugar which is much quicker than going the royal icing route.

One thing I do like about holiday baking is I get to look through the baking section of my recipe books which is something I don’t do very often since I don’t bake very often. It’s like looking through a scrapbook. I have many, many handwritten recipes from my mom, my grandma, my aunt and even a great aunt.

aunt gladys2

My mom baked a batch of cookies for Christmas as a gift for me eleven years ago. My Aunt Gladys made them for me when I was little and I love them. Mom included the original handwritten recipe for the cookies and these pictures. My mom’s handwriting is on the top gift tag. The picture is of my Aunt Gladys (in the middle) my mom when she was fourteen (on the right) and her cousin, Myrtle, (on the left) in downtown Milwaukee. The year is 1943. I love the hairstyles and street car in the background.  The picture on the right is of my Aunt Gladys in her later years in 1975.

 

aunt gladys

This is the original recipe written in my Aunt Gladys’ handwriting. I don’t think I’ve ever made the recipe myself because they’re super putzy.

stangels

My grandma’s original recipe for Stangels, a German cookie with walnuts and meringue on top. Love these and I may get ambitious yet this year and make them. 

almond cookie

Also my grandma’s recipe card for Almond Cookies. They’re hard to make, almost like making a pastry crust with ground almonds. They were my dad’s favorite and I made them a few times for him after my grandma died. Since they’re hard to make and require rolling out the dough to cut them out and decorating, I haven’t made them in years.

 

This year I ran across a cookbook my kindergarten teacher made for my class in 1971. All our mother’s sent in their favorite holiday recipe and the teacher compiled it in a book. I remember we got to draw a picture of ourselves at the bottom of the recipe. My picture is really big. Apparently, I had no problem with self-image at the age of 5.

kinder cook

Dig that funky seventies wallpaper cover! I remember picking that pattern out. I picked it because I liked the pink and orange combination. I still do like pink and orange together.

kinder 2

me

There I am! An artist, I am not, even back then. It’s funny, but I don’t think my mom ever made this recipe. If she did, I don’t remember it. And who puts raisins in Snickerdoodles? C’mon, Mom! 

paul

This one made me sad. Paul was my first best friend and he taught me how to ride a two-wheeler bike. Paul passed away, far too young, around twenty years ago.

Which brings me to my last Christmas complaint. Melancholy. This time of year is a hard one for many people and many people have much more difficult circumstances to over come than I do. They deal with true tragedy — like I’m sure Paul’s family does this time of year. I don’t deal with tragedy. I deal with the passage of time and the losses that inevitably occur because of it. Especially if one is lucky enough, like I have been, to experience the passage of time for the past fifty-two years.

Most of the time I do not struggle with sadness and depression, but the holidays do tend to hit me a bit harder than they used to since my son is grown and moved away and my parents have passed away. Dennis and I were talking about this the other day, and I reminded him that we have to remember we are in the good years of life. We’ve lost some people in our lives, but we are together and healthy and someday, when we’re old and possibly alone because one of us has died, we’ll look back on these Christmases we grumbled about as the “good times.”

Did I mention that INFJ personality types are supposed to the perfect personality to be a counselor? I think I’m missing that aspect of the personality type. All my patients would be suicidal after a couple of sessions with me.

In spite of the parts of Christmas I don’t like, I do very much like seeing my son for the holidays and all the fun and non-social activities that go along with it. I look forward to it all year and I cherish the memories during the following one. That’s the part of Christmas to hang on to.

Tonight is the Winter Solstice. I am a fan of the solstices, winter and summer. It’s a time when I look back on the 6 months from the last one and take measure of where I’m at. Yay or Nay? Yay means things are as good or better than they were six months ago. Nay means they’re worse.

This year’s Winter Solstice? A residing Yay. 2018 is one of the good years.

5:10 PM

 

The Pet Version of Sophie’s Choice

October 29, 2018 2:51 PM

It’s been a long, long month. Very long. As in l-o-n-g. Since the end of September, Dennis and I have not been able to leave the house at the same time. I wrote a blog at the end of September, Man Plans and God Laughs, where I shared the physical problems one of my cats, Frankie was having.

After four days of waiting for test results back from the vet, I found out that Frankie’s problem is physical, but it’s not caused by an infection or urinary crystals. It’s caused by stress. The vet said this is common and it’s very hard to diagnose what stresses a cat. But it wasn’t hard for me know. I’ve known that the incessant barking when we are not home by Sammy, my dog, was stressing Frankie out. I even blogged about it when I was forced to miss a Sheepshead card party earlier in the month because of it.  I Didn’t Sign Up for This!

So, what to do? Although there are anti-anxiety drugs that are supposed to help Frankie with stress, I really didn’t want to go that route. Frankie has an amazing personality and I didn’t want to mess with that. We needed to find another option, and until we did, we vowed that one of us would stay at home with the dogs at all times so there would be no long bouts of barking. When I say “all times” I mean ALL TIMES. Sammy barks even if we are both outside at the same time and he’s inside, so any outside work that Dennis needed to do meant I had to stay inside, on the first floor, to keep the dogs company. Even my being on the second floor, where my sewing room is, causes Sammy to bark if he’s left alone downstairs. He’s a little clingy.

For the past month, showers needed to be coordinated where either one of us stayed downstairs, or I took the dogs upstairs and locked them in the bathroom with me so there were no accidents when I wasn’t looking. (For some reason, Charlie feels his housebreaking training does not apply to the second floor.)

Dennis had a few business trips during this month, because, of course, those always come up at the worst possible time. I could not leave the house during those trips, unless I took the dogs with me. Which I didn’t, because they’re not that well-behaved in the car, and I only have one dog restraint. I ended up missing two events with my writing group that I really wanted to attended. I did find a Pizza Hut that will actually deliver to our house.

It’s not like Dennis and I go out a lot anyway, but when we couldn’t go out, we found that we really wanted to.  We did take the dogs to a couple of drive-thru’s for dinner this last month when we just had to get out of the house together for a little while.

We pondered our options during the first weekend Dennis was back from him trip. There weren’t many and none were good.

  1. Drug the cat and hope that helps. NOPE. That’s the last resort.
  2. Up Sammy’s Prozac. I did do this and I have done this before and it worked somewhat, but not completely. I knew I still wouldn’t be able to relax when were out because I’d be worrying that Sammy could be barking and stressing Frankie.
  3. Find Sammy a new home. This was a horrible option that wouldn’t really solve the problem. Charlie barks constantly when he is alone in the house without Sammy. So finding Sammy a new home also means finding Charlie a new home and this is basically a death sentence for Charlie. (No one is going to take a 14-year-old dog that requires a special diet that has to be prepared every day, not to mention the crazy expensive cost of his diet and his monthly medication.)

Basically, Dennis and I faced the Sophie’s Choice of loving pets. Which pet do we choose to save, the cat or the dogs?

On a Sunday morning over breakfast, after a very stressful, sad Saturday as we tried to figure out what to do, we remembered what one of our friends suggested earlier in the month. Build a separate room in the garage for the dogs.

Could we do this? The requirements were specific and not easy. It had to be comfortable, like a room in our house, not like a kennel. Charlie and Sammy are small dogs. They’re not going to survive well in an uncomfortable garage. That means the room needs to be heated and air-conditioned  and it needed a raised floor, so the dogs don’t have to sit on a cold, cement floor.

It needed to be furnished. At least a love seat near a window and probably a rug and some pillows, too.

And, this is a critical requirement, it needs to be sound-proof. Very sound-proof because based on my past experience of locking the dogs in our finished rec room in the basement, they both bark constantly when confined. Sammy would bark anyway even if he wasn’t confined, but locking both Sammy and Charlie in a room is going to mean both dogs bark constantly.

Dennis spent that Sunday researching and estimating. At the end, he was somewhat confident that he could build a room that would muffle the barking enough to work. We thought that the cats may still hear muffled barking from the first floor, but it would be likely they wouldn’t hear it on the second floor. Cats are smart. I figured that if Frankie had a place to go to get away from barking, he would use it.

The downside of the idea is it was very labor intensive. Dennis is very handy with projects and he turned our basement into a really cool rec room. But this was a different animal. It’s a full new room that not only needs a frame, it needs sound-proofing, insulation, and drywall, lighting, electrical and A/C. We decided to also put in a heating element under the raised floor so there’d be no chance of the cold seeping up through the floors come January.  This is going to be one hell of a nice kennel.

Did I mention the other downside is that it’s going to be expensive? I have a little money from my mom’s estate and I decided that putting it toward this room is a perfect use for it. She’d want me to do whatever I could to make sure all my animals can live in harmony in my house.

Thank goodness we decided not to get the pool! Dennis had the space cleared in the garage already where we could put the dog room. By Monday, he was placing his first order with Home Depot before he flew out-of-town again that week.

Construction ensued for the next three weekends. This meant that I could not leave the house, or even the downstairs for that matter, while he worked on the room.

This dog room has nicer amenities than my house! We bought a solid core wooden 6 panel door because it blocks sound better than hollow core doors do. I have white hollow core doors in my house. We bought wood laminate flooring instead of vinyl because the heated floors work better with laminate. I have a small amount of laminate in my house that I hate the color and style of. It’s not heated. I have vinyl in my kitchen, fourteen year old white carpeting in my family room and a year-long contract with Stanley Steemer for carpet cleaning every three months to try to keep it clean with five animals. The dog room got a nice new blind for the window. My blinds are ten years old. The dog room  even has a programmable thermostat, separate from our house, that we can control via wifi. If we’re away, and I see it’s getting too hot or too cold in the room, we can alter it from wherever we are. A lot of research and planning and work and time and money went into prepping this room.

Finally, this last Friday, Dennis finished the room to the point where the dogs could use it. There’s still some cosmetic stuff, like taping the drywall seams and painting, but it was functional to use.

We were so excited! We would actually get the leave the house together and go out. Where to go first? A nice leisurely dinner out at one of our favorite restaurants? A movie? The casino? All fine ideas, but I thought we should introduce the dogs to the room gradually, so we settled for a quick dinner at our local Culvers so we could be back home in under an hour. We were so excited to be out that we took pictures at Culvers when we were there.

dennis

While Dennis doesn’t exactly look excited, he does look happy. And exhausted from building the room in three weekends.

me

I’m not good with selfies, but I think you can tell I’m pretty damn happy to be out the house after a month!

Here is a picture from the video camera we have mounted in the dog’s room. You can see the floor, the love seat, the carpet and several dog beds. There is a window next the love seat that the dogs like to look out of. And look at that floor! I love the floor. It’s nice and toasty warm, and it warms the entire room with a cozy-feeling heat. It reminds of me of how warm air feels around a fireplace. It’s really nice!

room

This is what freedom looks like in our house. You can see a bit of Sammy in the bottom left corner and Charlie is on the sofa.

The first experiment with the room went awesome! The dogs only barked when we left and they heard the garage door close. They were quiet the entire time. Apparently, sound proofing works both ways. They’re not hearing the random sounds of the house, like the sump pump or the furnace or the cats galloping around upstairs, so they aren’t barking. When they did bark, the sound was barely noticeable in the house on the first floor. As a matter of fact, Frankie was sleeping in a clothes basket in the laundry room which is by the door to the garage when we left and he never moved while we were gone. If he heard any barking it didn’t bother him enough to move. The room is a success!

We further tested the room out this weekend by having a Chinese dinner in Brookfield where we were gone close to two hours (no barking) and another dinner out last night at one of our favorite supper clubs (still no barking, even after dark, which was unheard of in the house.) I’m not sure if the room is the full cause of the new non-barking world we’re living in now. It could also be partly caused by the higher dose of Prozac Sammy is getting.  Whatever the reason, we are very grateful!

There were two unexpected bonuses to this entire ordeal and one unexpected repercussion. The first bonus is that I didn’t expect the room to end up that nice or that comfortable to be in. I’ve been wanting a quiet place to write so I am moving a small desk into the dog’s room and I’m going to use it as my writing space. Hurray!

The second bonus is after spending a solid month with Frankie and watching him closely to make sure he isn’t having problems (he’s has had none at all) Frankie has finally become a lap-kitty. I’ve been waiting for this moment for six years! Okay, I did lure him up with a knitting project I’ve been working on, but once he’s there, he stays even when he’s done playing with the yarn.

lapcat

Frankie, my very un-stressed, healthy, happy buddy, sitting on my lap. Lucy, our Tortoise Shell cat is to the right and Herbie, Frankie’s brother, is in the upper right corner. Our cats all love to hang with people.

The one repercussion that’s not so great from this project, is that I now want laminate floors that are heated in my family room. And I want new laminate flooring in my entry way and Dennis’ office. And I want to replace the vinyl in my kitchen with laminate, too.

I see more construction in Dennis’ future.

10/29/18  3:47 PM

 

I Didn’t Sign Up for This!

September 23, 2018 8:20 AM

Last night, I did something that I haven’t done in probably fifteen years; I babysat. The dogs. I guess, technically, it’s not babysitting when they’re your own furry kids, but it still felt like it. There was some place I would rather have been, but I couldn’t go, because Sammy can’t be left alone for over an hour without barking. Dennis got to go and I got stuck at home minding the kids. This wasn’t what I had in mind when I got a dog.

FC10B0FA-2FAD-42AC-9EE6-CABBB26BD52B

Sammy, the problem child.

Although, I have to admit, a lot things came along with parenting my non-furry child, as well, that I didn’t expect. I guess that’s just part of being a parent regardless of the species you’re parenting.  Being there for whatever comes along, good or bad.

the pack

The rewarding part of parenthood. Sammy, snuggled on my lap outside by the fire.

I am especially happy that I didn’t grumble at my kennel for the mix-up when Dennis and I traveled to Philadelphia the week before last, because they saved me this week. You can read about it here Bucking the Universe – Part 3. There is someplace important that Dennis and I need to be on Thursday. Instead of just picking up and going, which is what most 50-something empty-nesters do, I had to arrange for childcare. My kennel was the only option given the amount of time we needed to be gone.

I called them and explained the situation. Even though it was a last-minute arrangement, they agreed to take the dogs for the day. That was a relief, however it also means that our day needs to revolve around the time frame of the pick-up and drop-off times at the kennel. Because of our situation, the kennel was very nice and agreed to let me drop the dogs off at 7 am (normally, the drop off is 8, but there’s a three hour drive involved in our destination, so we needed to leave as early as possible.) An overnight wasn’t possible on Wednesday or Thursday at the kennel; I checked. So, we’ll do what every parent does. We’ll do what we have to do and make the best of it.

However, this means that we will drive six hours-ish and we’ll have about 3 1/2 hours at our destination. Not ideal, but it’s the best option I could come up with, other than me staying home again, which isn’t an option I’m willing to consider this time. I’m crossing my fingers that we don’t hit heavy traffic on the way home and miss our pick up time. I honestly don’t know what the kennel would do if that happened since they don’t have space for them to stay the night. I figure that the travel gods owe me one after the Philadelphia trip, so, hopefully, it’ll be okay.

We do need to come up with a long-term solution to this problem, however. Last time this happened, we put Sammy on 10 mg of Prozac for six weeks. It did solve the problem, we were able to leave for a day, have a pet sitter check in with him a couple of times, and he was fine. No barking. However, it took away his personality, too. There was no Sammy-spark. He didn’t play with toys and he slept most of the time. It was like he went from age 2 to age 15 overnight. That’s not a good long-term solution.

This time, we’re still trying Prozac, but the vet cut the dosage to 5 mg. We have noticed a marginal improvement in the barking when we’re gone, but only for about an hour to an hour and a half, max. He starts to get nervous at 1 hour and he starts pacing the house. When he does that, I know that barking isn’t far behind.

Other options we’ve considered:

1.  Enroll the dogs in doggy daycare. Probably won’t work since neither one gets along with other dogs. Charlie barks and  growls at other dogs, Sammy just barks. They would both get a ‘N’ for Needs Improvement in the Works and Plays well with Others category on their kindergarten report card.

2.  Hire a babysitter to stay with them. This one might have merit, although it sounds really dumb to have to hire a babysitter to stay with a dog. I have to think it would be a pretty sweet babysitting gig for a 14-year-old. The problem with this one goes back to the doggy day care problem. In addition to not getting along with other dogs, Sammy doesn’t like new people. And by new people I mean he barks his head off at anyone that comes into the house that isn’t Dennis or me or our pet sitter. It doesn’t matter how many times he’s seen them, he still barks non-stop. The barking duration will be shorter, say fifteen minutes, if he’s somewhat familiar with a person. Fifteen ear-splitting, brain piercing, teeth-grinding minutes. The pitch Sammy hits when he barks is just a tad higher than a smoke alarm’s shriek and he’s easily as loud. This is the best case scenario. If the person is a stranger, he’ll bark non-stop until they leave. Maybe this wouldn’t be such a sweet gig for a baby sitter.

To avoid the constant barking at the babysitter, I’d have to get Sammy to get comfortable with them before we left him alone. I’d have to have the babysitter over several times a week, in half hour stints until Sammy got to know them. Which would take a couple of months. That sounds like a lot to expect from a 14-year-old baby sitter. Not to mention we’d have to teenager-proof our house. Lock up the liquor and lock down all the smutty cable channels. (I was flipping through stations looking for something to watch last night and I was amazed at the amount of porn available for only $9.99 at the click of a button. Even the descriptions of the programs were R-rated!)

3. Build them their own space apart from the house, so when Sammy barks, the cats aren’t affected. Poor Charlie would still have to deal with it, though. This idea is actually new; a friend suggested it Dennis last night. It is doable since we have a lot of room in our now-clean, 3-car garage. That empty space was meant for the pool, which probably isn’t happening now, and even if it does, it’ll go in rec room not the basement.

Dennis could build a wall and parse off a smaller room in the garage where we could insulate and put carpeting down. We can heat and air condition it through a free-standing heater that’s safe to run all the time (we have them in the bedroom because it always seems to be too hot or too cold on the second floor). We could bring up the old love seat from the rec room and put it by the window. They could look out the window and sleep on it (assuming Sammy ever calms down enough to sleep). I’m not sure this would work in the dead of winter because I think the floors would still be too cold, but it’s definitely an idea that has merit. I am concerned about Charlie being stuck with the barking, but he is anyway in the house, so I don’t know that it matters that much. I would leave Charlie in the house, and put Sammy in the his doggy-den, but Charlie barks non-stop without Sammy.

4. Put the dogs in the rec room so there’s more distance between the barking and the cats. We’ve tried this and both dogs bark non-stop in the rec room. Charlie is louder than Sammy, so the barking is still pretty loud even on the second floor.

5. Do nothing, let Sammy bark; it’s not like it’s a life or death situation. This is the one option I cannot do. Frankie, one of our cats (and Dennis would say my favorite animal although, like any mother, I say I love all my animals equally) gets very stressed with the barking. Even if we didn’t have cameras in the house to monitor what the dogs do when they’re alone, I would know if Sammy barked a lot just by how Frankie acts when we get home. He’s reluctant to come down stairs and when he does, he slinks around and is clearly nervous. This passes in a few hours if Sammy has been barking a short time. The one time we let Sammy bark for 5 hours when we were gone, it took Frankie days to recover and I was afraid he never would. I was so happy when he got back to normal. (Okay, maybe there is a teeny bit of favoritism, but don’t tell the others.)

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Frankie, my buddy.

6. Hope he grows out of it. The is the last-ditch resort, but it is possible. Sammy is still young, and like raising kids, some challenges just have to run their course.

7. Train him not to bark when we are home, so I could give the command to be quiet through the camera’s when we’re gone (they have two-way microphones). Sounds great in theory, but like many child-rearing philosophies, it’s not so easy to put into practice. I’ve tried saying “no” firmly, but I don’t even think he hears me over his own barking and having me scream “No” at the top of my lungs combined with Sammy’s barking, isn’t something the cats or Dennis want to experience.

I’ve tried threatening to put him outside if he doesn’t stop. This wouldn’t help when we’re not home, but it would help when people come over. I even followed through on my threat, because, you know you have to follow through if you want the kid to know you mean business. All that putting him outside did was to get the neighbor’s 3 dogs to join into the barking. While this whole “doggie grapevine” thing is cute in Disney movies, it’s as annoying as hell in reality.

I admit it, I’ve even tried bribery. There are gadgets which allow you to talk to your pets and dispense treats remotely. I gave him a chew toy filled with cheese to distract him. It didn’t. I tried throwing down his doggie treats. He ignored them. I fed him some deli meat which he stopped barking long enough to choke down, about 2 seconds, before he started barking again.

There’re shock collars, which I won’t do. No corporeal punishment in our house. There’s a citronella collar that our vet recommended that spritzes citronella every time he barks. The theory is dogs don’t like the smell of the citronella so they don’t bark. I would consider this option except for one thing. I have two dogs and both dogs bark. Sometimes Charlie barks first, when Sammy is quiet. This means Sammy will be spritzed with Citronella regardless of whether he barks or Charlie barks. Sounds like a pretty fun game for Charlie, but I don’t think I can do that to Sammy.

I was researching this problem online last night and several sites suggested that we trade-off dog watching services with friends who have dogs. We keep their dogs for a weekend and they keep ours a different weekend. I can just imagine asking a friend to take my yappy, unfriendly dogs; one who needs a special diet and eye drops once a day and the other who needs Metamucil and a pill everyday. Oh, and by the way, did I mention that they both both piddle around a new house to mark their territory? Charlie will claim the leg of the couch then Sammy will claim the leg of the couch and the footstool, then Charlie claims the leg of the couch, the footstool and the end table and so on. Remember that memory game where each person adds an item to a list and the first person who forgets an item loses? My dogs would rock at that game.

Trading off dog watching services probably isn’t in our future. I’m just hoping that one of these other solutions works so I’m not stuck home, babysitting the dog for the next fifteen years or so.

Much like becoming a parent for the first time, I had no idea what I was in for when I got a dog.

9:27 AM

Charlie the Survivor and Sammy the Protector

June 20, 2018 4:19 PM

It’s been a busy, busy week. Dennis has been away on a business trip since Sunday night, so it’s just been me and the menagerie at home. I know some writers have great bursts of productivity when they sequester themselves away in a hotel alone for several days so I thought I’d give that a try this week.

I have to say, I got a lot of writing accomplished on Sunday night through yesterday. I worked on a story that I haven’t touched for four or five years and I made significant progress. I also did lots of research for it, which means I googled things like “what countries don’t have extradition treaties with the US?”, “what countries have anonymous offshore banking”, “what countries operate offshore gambling casinos”, “how to open and get money from offshore accounts”, and “what places are safe to live in the Caribbean”. (Hello, nice Mr. NSA agent. I’m writing a book. Honestly!)

If Dennis and I get audited by the IRS next year, it won’t be a coincidence.

Since I was putting in 10 to 12 hours a day writing, I didn’t bother to cook for myself. One of my meals was a frozen chicken pot pie made by a grocery store that I bought and froze a few months ago. I had that last night. As I was eating it, (it wasn’t very good) I wondered if the chicken was ok in it. It wasn’t terrible, but it tasted a bit off. For future reference, if you have to ask the question, “is the chicken good?” the answer should always, unequivocally be NO!

I was pretty tired last night, so the dogs and I were asleep by 11:00 which is early for me. At 12:30 I woke up, not feeling so well. I had to turn on the light, which I normally don’t do when I get up so I don’t disturb the dogs. Nothing I could do about it last night, I woke both of them up.

As I continued to feel worse, I went into the bathroom and was sick. Now normally, I wouldn’t write about such an event, however, it truly showed the difference in the personalities of the two dogs. As I was being sick, Sammy was right there next to me doing the doggy-equivalent of holding my hair back. He was so nervous that he was dancing around me and rubbing up against my legs. Charlie, The Survivor, on the other hand, was still in bed, sending death glares my way for waking him up and leaving the light on.

That’s the thing about survivors, they are able to detach from anyone and anything as long as they are taken care of. I suspect that’s why Charlie was able to detach from my mom and settle in so easily at my house when she died. Same thing with the kennel. He missed me, but his needs were met so life went on. Don’t get me wrong, I think I’m probably Charlie’s favorite person. As long as I keep the light off and puke quietly so I don’t disturb him.

Today, Sammy has rarely left my side. Thankfully, being sick was a short-lived event, but I still only got about four hours of sleep. Two of the cats and Sammy were wide awake and ready to play at 5:30 AM this morning. I’m really looking forward to longer nights and shorter days. If you’ve read this blog before, you know why. If you haven’t, you can find out why here.

I’m moving a little slower today than usual. I had some errands I needed to run this morning and while I was out I decided to stop at the library and pick up an actual book to read outside this afternoon (as opposed to my kindle). Sometimes it’s good to have a real book to curl up with. It was a curl up with a book kind of day.

So this afternoon, instead of making more progress on my writing, I’m lounging on the swing with the dogs. Sammy has been close by the entire time.  Every time I cough, he jumps on me and peers into my face with anxious eyes to see if I’m okay. (I assured him that I am, I just have allergies.) Talking to my animals is not abnormal for me, I do it all time. Not usually to the extent of describing my medical diagnosis, however. I guess that’s what three days of solitude with only animals to talk to will do to a person. Good thing Dennis gets home tonight.

Besides, I think Sammy and I have taken our relationship to a new level. He’s now Sammy The Protector to me.

Now I have a Protector and a Survivor. That’s a pretty good combination. Between the two of them, I think I have all my bases covered.

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This is my view from the swing. Sammy is sitting on my stomach and Charlie is wrapped around my feet. Life is good.

4:50 PM

 

How Not to Give your Dog a Bath

June 17, 2018 12:55 PM for June 15, 2018

I have a new found respect for dog groomers. Their jobs are not easy.  Friday, before my wonderful Meijer shopping trip, I decided to give the dogs a bath. I bought a fancy shampoo and conditioner about a year ago that I haven’t used. It’ll be fun, I thought, to give Sammy a nice bath and condition his coat.

I’ve given Sammy a bath several times in the past. He’s has this thick coat, though, that is almost cat-like. It’s soft, he sheds, and, my favorite aspect, he doesn’t smell. Sammy can get a bath once every couple of months and be fine.

Charlie is a different story. Charlie has a thin, curly coat that I keep clipped short. About three weeks out from his bath, Charlie gets a bit odiferous. After four weeks, he’s downright stinky. If he goes any longer than four weeks between baths, I’m spot cleaning him with a wet wash cloth and soap trying to beat back the scent.

My mom was very particular about who she allowed to groom Charlie. He has very sensitive skin and is prone to razor burns (according to my mother). I figured I better skip the hair conditioner on Charlie.

Mom used a groomer that has a mobile grooming salon that she would bring to my mom’s house. Since having Charlie, I’ve been having her come every four weeks to bathe and groom Charlie. Since Sammy doesn’t get stinky, I have her give him a bath and a small trim every other visit to save money. It’s been at least a year since I’ve given Sammy a bath myself.

The last time I saw the groomer, her next opening was five weeks away. This is one week beyond Def-con 1 of stinkiness for Charlie.

Last Thursday night, three weeks into our five-week wait for the groomer, I was sitting outside with the dogs. I noticed that they were taking turns gleefully rolling on their backs in the same spot on the lawn. Oh-oh.

That night, when Sammy jumped on my lap, I noticed a gamey odor on him. On Charlie, the same gamey odor blended into his normal 3-week-from-being-groomed- dog stink that was already a bit more pronounced than usual (I think because of the kennel stay). I decided I needed to take matters into my own hands and give the dogs baths on Friday.

I don’t know if Charlie has ever had a bath at home. I don’t think so. I don’t think my mom gave him one and I know I haven’t. When I inherited Charlie, I also inherited the groomer. I’ve been spoiled.

Being that Charlie is almost 17 pounds, I didn’t think he’d fit in the kitchen sink where I normally bathe Sammy, who is only 10 pounds. I decided to bathe them in our walk-in shower in the master bathroom.

I put on sweats and got both dogs into the bathroom. They were excited to be able to come upstairs with me in the morning. Normally, they stay downstairs with Dennis while I get ready.

I decided to do Charlie first and get the worst over with. I was not looking forward to giving Charlie a shower. I expected him to be nervous and shake the whole time. I envisioned struggles to run out of the shower stall and him cowering in the corner while I tried to spritz him with the hand-held sprayer.

My fears for Charlie were, once again, unfounded.  He was a bit perplexed as to why I was carrying him into the shower, but as soon as the warm water hit him, I think he understood. He stood perfectly still and let me wash him, and turn him as I needed to. He even let me wash his face and rinse it with the sprayer. I towel dried him for a minute and let him go to wander the bathroom.

Then it was Sammy’s turn. Sammy is not a dumb dog. He saw what was happening with Charlie and he wanted no part of it. While Charlie stood in the middle of the bathroom shaking himself, Sammy was playing keep-away — with me trying to catch him in my wet, bare feet on the slippery floor. Eventually, I cornered him and picked him up.

Once I got him in the shower and set him down on the floor, he bolted before I could get the shower door closed. I got back out of the shower and chased him around the bathroom in my now wetter feet until I cornered him again. This time, I outsmarted him and closed the shower door before I set him down.

He did okay as I was running the warm water over him. However, it’s been a year since I bathed Sammy myself, and I forgot about his undercoat. Sammy is like a little otter when he gets wet. The top part of his coat repels water, and his thick furry undercoat stays dry. I had to put the hand-held sprayer an inch from his skin, to soak his undercoat.

In this midst of doing this, Herbie, our water-loving cat, managed to get into the bathroom without my knowing. Hearing the shower on, he nudged the shower door open a few inches like he always does. Sammy is not a dumb dog. He saw his opportunity for freedom and he grabbed it!

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Herbie the water bug.

Sammy went tearing out of the shower stall sopping wet and ran into the bedroom. In my haste to catch him, I dropped the handheld sprayer in the shower which banged off the shower wall and spun water around the bathroom like a sprinkler. It got the walls, it got the floor, it got the water-loving cat who decided he doesn’t love that much water and took off. Charlie stood there, looking at me perplexed, wondering what all the fuss was about.

At this point, I was as wet as the dog. I got back out of the shower, skated across the wet bathroom floor with my wet, bare feet into the master bedroom only to find Sammy rolling on his back in the middle of our bed. Herbie was on the floor next to the bed licking himself and giving me the evil-cat-eye for spraying him with the hose.

I retrieved the two old towels I had out for Sammy, dried off the bathroom floor and the walls. I got a fresh, good towel, put it next to the shower and went to catch Sammy who was now grinding his wet head into my pillow.

We went back into the bathroom and I made sure the bathroom door was securely shut this time. I carried Sammy back into the shower, shut the shower door and started over. Most of Sammy’s top coat was already dry, but his undercoat was still damp.

I successfully shampooed Sammy okay, but when it came time to rinse I realized I might have used a little too much shampoo. Bubbles were pouring out of his undercoat in an alarming quantity. It was like pouring cold root beer over ice cream. Pure bubbles.

The more water I ran over him, the more bubbles I got. I bent over so long, that I started to get dizzy, so I sat down on the bench in the shower, put Sammy on my lap, and let the hand-held sprayer run over both of us until the bubbles finally stopped.  It took about three minutes. At this point, I decided we were done with bath time and I opted not to use the doggie hair conditioner.

I turned off the water and I put Sammy on the floor of shower where he immediately shook himself, managing to spray water everywhere including my hair and my face and my glasses. I dried my face and Sammy with the last towel. Then I let Sammy out of the shower stall, where he went into the middle of the bathroom and shook again. And again. He shook himself a total of three times which ensured that whatever part of the bathroom hadn’t yet been hosed down, was now wet. The mirror was dabbled with water droplets. So was the window. My make up table had a sheen of water over it, and there was no longer a dry towel to be had.

I took off my wet clothes and left them in a heap in shower and I opened the bathroom door to the master bedroom. Sammy made a beeline for the bed and rolled around on the comforter. Charlie joined him.

I decided I might as well shower for real this time, so I closed the bedroom door so the dogs couldn’t escape and cause mischief. I gathered the wet towels into a heap in the corner along with my clothes, and then I cleaned the shower stall and took a shower. I found an old beach towel to dry off with. By the time I was done and had dressed in dry clothes about twenty minutes had passed.

I sat on my now damp bed with dog brushes and started to brush Charlie. I was so happy to find that he was almost dry. It took about a minute and a half for me to run a brush through his hair and he was done.

And then there was Sammy. Sammy looked mostly dry but when I put him on the bed to brush him, I found that his undercoat was still sopping wet. I swear, it’s like a sponge! Out came the hair dryer, and I spent the next twenty minutes blow drying the dog. Not how either one of us wanted to start our day. Once he was finally dry, I spent the next ten minutes brushing him. I never spent this much time on my own hair even when it was longer.

Finally, we were done. The dogs were dried off, I was dried off and the bathroom was dry-ish. The bed, however, was not. It was damp and had a strong odor of wet dog.

I stripped off the comforter and sheets, put them with the wet towels and put on fresh sheets.

Then I let the dogs out of the room.

There was great joy and exuberance as the dogs celebrated their freedom. They ran at full bore through the upstairs and then downstairs where the three cats were lying in the sun on the floor taking sun baths.

It looked like an explosion of cats when the dogs came running into the room. Each cat immediately jumped up and fled to higher ground. One jumped to the kitchen counter and the other two scaled cat gyms.

Four loads of laundry later, I was finally done with the after effects of bath time. Dennis was forced to towel off that morning with a couple of hand towels but he was a good sport about it. Both dogs were super soft and smelled wonderful.

Later that afternoon, as I sat outside with the dogs, I noticed that they were taking turns gleefully rolling on their backs in the same spot on the lawn. Seriously?

Is it wrong to febreeze a dog?

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Here is Mr. High-Maintenance himself looking all cute and sweet-smelling.

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Mr. Low Maintenance looking very chill after his bath.

 

1:58 PM

 

Checkout Clerks and Crocheted Pants

June 15, 2018 1:55 PM

I got a glimpse into the how the other half lives today.  And it happened, of all places, in the checkout line at my local Meijer store.

For those of you who don’t have a Meijer store, it’s similar to a Target with a super large grocery store attached. Our Meijer has meat and produce that rivals the high-end expensive grocery stores in my area.

I go to Meijer once or twice a month, usually when they have half pork loins on sale. Pork loin is one of the main foods Charlie can eat, so when it goes on sale, I make a trek to Meijer and buy a lot of it. At least eighteen to twenty pounds at a time.

Meijer canned vegetables are inexpensive, and they have the handy pop tops. Normally, a pop-top can vs. a can-opener can wouldn’t motivate me to hike a store roughly the size of a two football fields to buy it. However, when I’m making Veg for Charlie, having pop top cans makes a big difference. I use twenty cans of carrots and greens beans. That’s a lot of cans to open manually and my can opener is slow.

One Meijer trip a month is dedicated to buying 20 cans of canned pop-top veg for Charlie. I try to not combine the veg purchase with the pork purchase in the same shopping trip. The cart gets pretty heavy to push around with 20 pounds of pork and 20 cans of vegetables in it.

I was in a hurry today, though, so I bought both pork and veg. And I shopped for our Sheepshead card group party. We rotate playing at different houses, and it’s our turn to host this month. I grabbed a few bags of junk food, and some cute little bakery angel food cakes for strawberry shortcake. I needed bacon for a recipe I’m making. Meijer only had the super, big, two pound package of the brand I like, so I had that in my cart as well.

While I was in the meat section, I tossed a package of brisket burgers in the cart for dinner tonight. So while I didn’t buy a lot of different items, my cart was pretty heavy and laden down with meat. Lots and lots of meat.

There are down sides to Meijer. The main one is that most of the check out lanes are self-service. There are very few checkout lanes that are manned by Meijer employees and, in my experience, Meijer checkout clerks are the slowest individuals I’ve seen work a register.  I can check myself out and bag my merchandise much quicker than going through a checkout lane.

However, today, I was feeling lazy, and I was pushing about twenty-five pounds of meat plus all my veg canned goods and I just didn’t feel like bagging it all myself. The check out lanes weren’t busy, so I gave it a shot.

There was a lady with a pre-teen daughter in line ahead of me. The lady was probably in her mid-thirties and she was tall and slender. I noticed this because she was wearing black crocheted pants like these.

black crochet pants

I thought they were cute on her. Never in my life, even at my thinnest weight ever, could I pull off wearing crocheted pants. I would have to sandwich my thighs into them and little pillows of flesh would be poking out of the crocheted holes. When I peeled them off at night, the indentation from the crocheting would leave patterns on my thighs. Kind of like when you cut a tied rump roast out of it twine. Not a cute look.

When it was the Crocheted Pants’ turn to be checked out, the checkout clerk decided he needed to refill his bags. He still had, what looked like to me, plenty of plastic bags on his carousel, but apparently I was wrong. He needed more. Many more.

While I waited for him to get the bags from another lane, and load them up on the carousel (moving in slow motion the entire time, I swear!) I had plenty of time to survey the items Crocheted Pants had on the conveyor belt.

She had organic milk, frozen salmon burgers and tuna. I considered leaving the line to swap my brisket patties for salmon burgers for tonight’s dinner. I’m sure Dennis would love that. I’ve also considered making riced cauliflower “mashed potatoes” for Dennis in the past. I like being married though, and I think passing salmon off for brisket or cauliflower off for potatoes is grounds for divorce in Dennis’ mind.

Accompanying the salmon burgers, Crochet Pants also had a plethora of green veggies – fresh, not canned. She had some box that boasted quinoa as an ingredient and several frozen entrees that said Vegetarian in big, bold letters.

And there I stood, behind this bounty of healty food, with twenty-five pounds of meat in my cart. The contents of my entire cart looked like a mound of flesh – except for the canned veg and a couple bags of junk food. I wanted to tell her, it’s for the dog! All the pork is for the dog! We eat fresh vegetables, too. The canned veg is for the dog! The two pounds of bacon are for a party. So are the bags of junk food! Truly, this isn’t how we eat every day.

As we continued waiting, Crochet Pants and I, for the checkout guy to finish loading his bags, Crochet Pants’ daughter started to get restless. She was surveying the candy that lined the aisle for all the impulse purchases. Eventually, she grabbed one and started badgering her mother for it.

What did she grab? Peanut Butter cups? Nope. Snickers? Nope. Gummy Bears? Wrong again. She grabbed Extra Sugar Free gum.  Her impulse purchase was sugarless gum. Even the kid eats healthy!

Perhaps, I thought, if I ate that way, I too, could wear black crochet pants without my thighs poking through like a bratwurst splitting out of its’ casing.

Did I mention that Dennis is barbecuing a beef brisket for our card party tomorrow?

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This is why I will never wear black crocheted pants.

When the clerk finally finished loading his plastic bags, Crochet Pants Lady produced her own reusable shopping bags for him to pack her groceries in. I would say if she produced those earlier maybe the checkout clerk would have delayed the restocking of the bag routine, but he probably saw twenty-five pounds of meat in my cart heading his way. I don’t think it would have mattered.

As the checkout clerk slowly, and methodically checked out Chrochet Pants’ groceries (I saw tofu go by!) and there was more space on the conveyor belt, I started to load my meat on it. Each pork roast was at least five pounds and encased in plastic. They made a thwap sound as I hauled them onto the conveyor, similar to the sound my thighs would make as they slapped together if I wore crocheted pants. But the meat is for the dog! Really! 

Two pounds of bacon went on top of the roasts. It’s for a party. I won’t even use it all. It’s just the size they had.

When it was finally my turn to get checked out, I have to admit, I was cranky. At this point, I had spent more time waiting in the checkout line than I did shopping. I was not in mood to make small talk with the checkout guy. Apparently, he didn’t sense this.

When he saw all my pork, he laughed, and made a comment about how we must be grilling out a lot this weekend. Finally, I thought, it’s my chance to explain the plethora of meat! Unfortunately, Crochet Pants was long gone and would never know.

“It’s for my dog!” I said. “He has allergies and all he can eat is pork and lamb. I like to stock up when it’s on sale.”

The checkout guy looked at me as if I’d lost my mind. “Your dog?” he said, as if I told him I was going to throw the meat directly into the garbage. Obviously, he was implying that no one should be spending that kind of money on an animal. My pork was on sale for $1.30 a pound. I wonder what he would have said if I had bought the ground lamb, like I sometimes do, at $9.99 a pound?

My crankiness with this guy was escalating.

After a few moments, he said, “I have to ask so I can tell my wife tonight. How does your dog like his pork prepared?” His words were polite, his tone was not. He was judgemental and condescending. Those are the nice words that I thought. There’s were others I won’t share here.

I explained my process of grounding the meat, mashing the vegetables and frying it all together. I was very polite, even though I didn’t want to be. I did not share that the dog belonged to my dead mother and I was doing what I had to do to keep him alive and happy. No need to justify my choice. I also held back the urge to sarcastically comment how glad I was to be offering conversation for him and wife tonight. I guess it’s only fair that I provide some entertainment for him, since he provided a blog post for me.

In the few minutes I spent talking with this guy, I decided that someone who is in their late fifties and clerking at Meijer probably didn’t take the job to pass the time. That’s hard work and a lot of standing. I am fortunate that we have to means to be able to purchase the food Charlie needs. Not everyone would be able to do that. I don’t know if that is the situation that caused the clerk’s attitude or not. Maybe he’s just not an animal person. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s the former and not the latter.

It was an experience using the Meijer checkout today. It showed me a glimpse into two different ways of life and attitudes. One made me chuckle. One made me mad. Next time, though, I’m going back to self checkout, no matter how many pounds of meat I’m lugging around.

2:51 PM

Rambo Dog!

Monday, June 11th, 2018 7:20 PM for Sunday, June 10th

Yesterday was a rough pet day around our house. Three of the five had potential medical issues.

Yesterday was a rough day for the pet parents, too.

Frankie, our live-wire kitty who doesn’t realize he’s going on 6, managed to injure a leg while playing with me. He loves to jump and spin with a wand toy that has three feathers attached to it. Yesterday, he must have overdid it because after our play session, he was limping and favoring a leg. It wasn’t bad enough to take him to the emergency pet vet, but I did fear we’d be going in this morning to have it checked. Thankfully, after sleeping the afternoon away in the master bedroom, he woke up fine. No clue what happened but it was scary!

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The second incident occurred with Herbie, our other wild-child cat who is Frankie’s 3/4 brother (same mom and dad’s were brothers. Sounds like an episode of Jerry Springer, doesn’t it?) Herbie is a bit of a brute. He’s larger than his brother, Frankie, and he’s not nearly as smart. Sounds kinda mean, I know, but it’s true. Where we have to make sure Frankie isn’t smart enough to get into a situation that will hurt himself (like figuring out how to get on the top of the shower rail and be unable to get down) with Herbie we have to watch and make sure he doesn’t do anything dumb that will get himself hurt.

The problem is Herbie is very stubborn, He wants what he wants and he’s unlikely to  concede defeat without a battle. A stubborn streak combined with not-so-many-smarts can make for a bad situation. Which it did.

Herbie, unbeknownst to me, decided to sleep directly under the recliner part of my chair. When I went to put the chair down, I noticed there some resistance. As I was trying to move it up again to check what it was stuck on, Herbie launched himself out the side, fur all disheveled, shaking his head and grumbling.

Thankfully, we have a recliner that moves up and down with a motor, and it moves very slowly. I, literally, cannot get out of this chair fast. It takes a good 8 – 10 seconds for it to go up and down. This is actually the exact reason we spent the extra money to get a recliner with a motor rather than the normal manual kind. I’ve had experience with closing a cat in one of the kind that snaps down and it was very, very scary. It involved a day long vet stay and I was very lucky that she wasn’t injured and I could take her home.

Now if it was Frankie lying under the recliner and he saw it starting to inch its way down toward his head, he would leave. And if he didn’t, once the recliner touched any part of him, he certainly would leave and probably yowl, too. Not Herbie. Herbie stuck it out until he had no other option but to move or get crushed.

Thankfully, Herbie was fine, although he ignored me for several hours. The incident brought back some very bad memories for me. It was scary.

Herbie eyes

Herbie

Charlie, The Survivor, was our third problem child yesterday, in two different ways. If you read this blog, you know how I’ve talked about having to make dog food every week for Charlie because he has food allergies.

His primary allergies are chicken and wheat products which means dog kibble is off-limits for him. Which is fine by Charlie since he’s never eaten dog kibble in his life. He refused to eat it as a puppy so my mom always cooked food for him.

Once he started living with us, Charlie saw Sammy eat cat kibble as a treat, so he stole a piece. He liked it a lot! Now as a treat, I will give Charlie a few pieces of cat kibble several times a week.

We always keep a bowl of dog kibble out for Sammy. Charlie has never been interested in it because he doesn’t like kibble and because he refuses to eat food out of a bowl. He literally will not eat off a dish or a bowl. He eats on a plastic placemat. This bowl-aversion does not carry into his water consumption which he handles just fine out of a bowl. (Thank goodness! Not sure what I’d do if he didn’t).

Yesterday afternoon, for what ever reason, (he had his breakfast and lunch) Charlie decided to try Sammy’s dog kibbles. And, apparently he liked them since he ate the entire bowl! That about a cup and half of dog kibbles made of chicken and wheat consumed by a small dog with chicken and wheat allergies. I braced myself for the worst.

I waited. I watched him. I took him outside extra times. Nothing. No effect whatsoever. None today either. Dare I hope that he outgrew this allergy (and bowl aversion!) and can now eat kibble? No more veg days! Or at least less of them? I would be very happy if that ends up to be the case, however, I’m not getting my hopes up. I will give it another few days and let him have some more kibble again and see what happens.

The second thing Charlie managed to do, has left me in awe of his bravery and strength. During one of his potty breaks outside at dusk, Charlie stepped on a honey bee and he got stung. He came limping into the house on three legs, licking frantically at his foot.

I’ve never had an animal stung by bee before, so I grabbed my mom’s old dog first aid book and looked up what to do to help him. Turned out it’s basically the same thing you do to treat a human bee sting. Watch out for anaphylactic shock. None, thank God. Scrape the stinger out with a credit card. Not easy to do on a furry paw, but Dennis managed to get it. Apply a baking soda poultice to the spot. Again, not so easy on the bottom of a paw, but we managed. Finally, rinse it off and apply ice to reduce swelling. That one didn’t go so great. Charlie was pretty much done with the whole thing by the ice part.

The book said to expect pain and swelling for a day or two at least, and that we could give him benedryl to help reduce swelling. I was expecting a couple days of him being laid up, and us having to carrying up and down the stairs.

Through the entire ordeal, Charlie didn’t yip once. Not even when he got stung. (I swear like banshee when I get stung.) After tolerating our futzing with the sting for about a half hour, Charlie limped over to his bed on three legs and went to sleep. He’d wake up every so often, lick his foot a few times and go back to sleep. By the time we went to bed, Charlie was fine. He bounded up the stairs two at a time like he does every night. He jumped on the bed before I could lift him up. No limping at all.

Today, there is no sign there was ever anything wrong with his foot, I can’t see any swelling at he’s running around the house as usual. He even went for a short walk today.

I am newly impressed with Charlie. I’ve now nicknamed him Rambo. He is one tough dog!

charlie by addy

Charlie AKA Rambo

Dennis and I are grateful that today was much less eventful in our house. And I now always wear shoes out in the yard. I’m not as tough as Charlie.

7:56 pm

 

 

What Not to Do to Your Dog in Public

Saturday, June 9, 2018 1:26 pm

For the first time this year, Dennis and I took Sammy to the farmer’s market in Waukesha this morning.

One of the reasons I wanted to get a dog, almost 2 years ago now, was so that I could have an animal I could hang out with outside of the house. Someone who could ride with me in the car to get a hamburger or ice cream. Go to a farmer’s markets and outdoor flea markets on occasion.

I love my cats dearly, but they’re not all that enthused about jumping in the van and going for a ride. And I’ve tried walking them on leashes. They were very adept at crouching on the ground with their claws embedded into the earth, but as far actually moving with the leash on, not so much.

I was surprised, and dismayed when we took Sammy to his first farmer’s market a year ago. He hated it. He cowered at all the people. He barked at all the dogs and wouldn’t let anyone, human or animal, get near him. When we tried to take him through a drive through for a hamburger, he barked and growled at anyone who happened to pass within six feet of our car.

Not what I expected.

Dennis enrolled Sammy into a socialization class at our local HAWS last summer. Sammy learned how to let other dogs approach him and Dennis learned how to help him feel safe when other dogs and people were around. Today Dennis put all that training to the test and then some.

Being the first time he’s been in public since last fall, Sammy was a little more on edge at the farmer’s market than normal. He has to get used to it again, but he was still doing well. Sammy prefers to walk with Dennis when we’re there. I think it’s because he did the HAWS training with him. Or maybe it’s because Dennis prefers to walk with Sammy when we’re there.

You see, Sammy is a magnet for attention. As we walk him down the aisle people literally stop and comment to each other and us about what an adorable dog he is. Several people called him the “laughing dog today”. I swear Dennis walks a little taller with an uncharacteristic perky spring in his step when he’s walking Sammy at the farmer’s market. (I’m the one bringing up the rear of the group juggling all the bags.)

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Sammy is wearing his smile here.

Today, though, Dennis took Sammy’s socialization exercises one step further than ever before. Probably further than anyone at HAWS ever expected one of their doggie-graduates to have to endure.

A family came up to ask and asked if Sammy was a Pekingese. I said he was not, he was part Pomeranian, part Shih-Tzu. The husband replied that they had a Pomeranian at home that they loved.

To my shock (and embarrassment), Dennis scooped up Sammy, flipped him on his back and showed this family how when you turn Sammy upside down his ears flip-up and he looks just like a Pom. The dog who, last year at this time, was so freaked out he couldn’t go in public was now being tipped on his back so strangers could admire his ears.

The family was a bit taken back and didn’t know what to say, although, they did comment that Sammy didn’t look all that thrilled about the whole thing. I wonder if HAWS has a class to socialize humans on the things not to make your dog endure while in public?

Sammy handled the situation like a champ. I was proud of him. We tried to reward him for literally having exposed his vulnerable underbelly to strangers with hot, homemade donuts but he wasn’t interested. Dennis, however, was.

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Sammy ignoring his piece of donut

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Fresh, hot donuts. Yum!

I’ve heard some people go to the farmer’s market to get fresh vegetables. We go for fresh made donuts.

Sometimes I do buy vegetables, too. But it’s usually to make things like Beef Stroganoff and strawberry rhubarb crumble.  I resisted buying the fresh dill for Swedish meatballs. And in a small nod to health, I bought a head of lettuce.

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Since the donut treat was a bust, I wanted to make sure Sammy had something he really enjoyed to attach to our outing. I suspect he still only tolerates going to the farmer’s market, even when he isn’t flipped on his back, so we needed another place to stop.

The answer was easy: Five Guys Burgers. Sammy’s favorite place to go.  He even knows the name. Say Five Guys at home and he gets all excited and runs to the door.

Come to think of it, so does Dennis.

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Watching for Dennis to bring the goodies

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Waiting for the next bite

2:24 pm