Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bath Time

Even though it was a mild winter, the pups have not had a bath. We bathed Draco in October and Bella was most likely bathed at Debby’s but has not had an official bath yet. I say official because there was the occasionally unceremonious bath due to potty accidents. 

On Sunday, it was warm enough to break out the doggy shampoo and clean us some dogs. Bella was first. 

And you know what…it was easy. Other than realizing Dave would fail miserably at the Dive and Grab Olympics (Which Myself, Brycie and Sawyer would win Gold, Silver and Bronze) it went well. She did wiggle out of our grasps a few times (this is where I saw Dave attempt a dive and grab… was sad). But she generally liked it. I was somewhat surprised. I mean she is a water dog but being hosed down with cold water can’t be fun. But she was smiling and looking up at us with shining happy dog eyes. 

Draco….is not a water dog and is twice the size of Bella. Dave and I know he doesn’t like baths and he is a bit of an escape artist. But with a ten minute break in the middle for Draco to run around the back yard…it went well. 

We now have two squeaky clean and fresh smelling pups…for now. 

P.S. In case you are wondering…Bella still is eating Dandelions with vigor.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Montezuma's Revenge

I can't escape it. It's just one of those things that once noticed, will not go away. I probably don't even have to say the word and you know what it is. Though before we get to that, we have to start at the beginning.

Bella was sick over the weekend. Friday night, downstairs in the basement, her and I were hanging out. I was on the phone with my mom when Bella got out of my sight and I heard the noise that all dog owners have heard. It started quiet, then got progressively louder, that regurgitating sound from their stomachs. She let loose with one large pile of undigested food. "Mom, gotta go. Bella's throwing up," I said into my cellphone and ended the call. "Chassie! She puked!" I yelled, as I grabbed Bella and pulled her away from the pile before she could get to eating it. She looked up at me, wondering why I was taking her away from her food. I pushed her towards the door, got her leash on her and stepped outside while Chassie came downstairs to assess the damage.

Chassie made quick work of cleaning up the mess as I kept Bella outside. After she pooped, we went back in and Chassie said that maybe she had just eaten too much. She had loaded her up with treats in hope that she would stop eating the baseboards and had also given her a cup and a half of food. Maybe her six month old stomach just couldn't handle that much food.

Nineteen minutes later, as I sat on the futon comforting her, she runs away from me. She jumps up on the vintage 1970's couch and proceeds to lose her dinner all over one of the cushions. I rush over and take her back outside, yelling for Chassie again. We get back inside and I call my mom back, explaining the situation.

The next morning, Chassie notes that her poop is a little loose. I take her on a walk before I head out to work and she seems to be acting normal. Before I leave, Chassie says that she's going to be going out for a while and asks if Bella will be okay for a few hours. I respond that I think she will. She returns home shortly after one o'clock. Chassie will be able to tell you better than I as to what happened next, since she was on the front line for this one, but here is my account:

The first phone call came around 1:15. The poop was loose. What should we do? We talked it over and decided to wait it out. It got worse. A barrage of text messages kept me updated. At one point, her text was: "She's lying down watching TV. Is that normal?" For Bella, if she's not chewing on something or sleeping, that's pretty normal. Then after that one came a picture mail showing "translucent poop." You may ask what translucent poop looks like... I couldn't tell you. I stared at the picture on my phone for at least forty seconds, even turning the phone around, trying to figure out exactly what I was looking at. If she hadn't titled the message "translucent poop" I would have no idea what I was looking out.

I know Chassie is worried at this point. I'm staying calm, I have work to keep me occupied. At two o'clock, I ask her to find out what time the vet closes on Saturdays. She responds that they are open until five. I'm thinking that we may have to make a visit and we should have time to make it to our regular vet without having to go to the emergency vet. Around two fifteen, she texts me that the poop has now become a "'lil bloody." That makes up my mind for me. I call her and tell her we should go to the vet. She calls the vet and finds out that he was thinking of closing early since it was Easter weekend, but that if she's coming in now, he will wait.

At this point, we are closing in on two thirty. If I go back home, it's going to take me at least fifteen minutes. Then we'd have to turn around and drive back to Fairfax, probably another thirty minutes. Chassie decides that she'll take Bella herself and I'll meet them at the vet. This was the first solo trip with Bella in the car (besides my poor attempt at taking her to the vet for surgery.) A brave endeavor under normal circumstances, an insane venture currently.

She makes it to the vet without any issues. While inside the vet, things got a little interesting. I should have known something was up when the lady at the desk said they were in the second exam room. I don't know if it was before or after the vet stuck the thermometer up her butt, but exam room one was no longer available after Bella spent a few minutes in there. "There was poop everywhere," Chassie said. I imagined that the floor was covered, the walls had splatter on them, and there was poop dripping off the examination table. A little exaggerated, but I've seen this girl poop. It turns out there were three messy piles that the vet and the vet tech examined and then cleaned up.

I arrived in time to miss the festivities, but just in time to pay the bill. The vet tech said that she may have a few more accidents before the evening was done and the medicine they gave her fully kicked in. It turns out she was experiencing some type of pancreatitis. The vet said it was a good thing Chassie brought her in because it would have only gotten worse. She got three shots, three types of pills and three cans of special dog food. We were told not to give her any food or water for the rest of the day and training class was out of the question.

As we make our way back to the car, we decide that since Chassie was able to make it to the vet without an incident, we may as well risk it again and send her back home by herself. I wait outside the car as Chassie buckles Bella into the dog restraining seat belt and we're off. I go back to work to close and Chassie is headed back home. On the way home, it seems Bella was somehow able to escape the restraints and forced Chassie to pull off into a gravel parking lot in downtown Fairfax to rebuckle the seat belt.

Once I returned home, she pooped three times about an hour apart. In between those she laid underneath a table as I sat next to her on the floor. She had sleepy, sad eyes but only fell asleep for about twenty minutes. After her third poop, she was able to fall asleep. And sleep she did. The only time she got up was to go outside and pee. Chassie kept asking if she was going to be okay, which I assured her she would. She asked if I was worried, to which I said I wasn't. Quite honestly, it may have been the nicest night I've had in a long time. She wasn't running around, she wasn't chewing everything she could fit in her mouth, she didn't eat mulch when she was outside. It was almost like she was an older dog. I can't wait for that to become a nightly occurrence.

So we've had two of these situations, both very similar and both related to one thing: Food. Specifically one brand, the same brand we had tried the first time this happened. Chassie wanted to try the food again because she had read such good things about it and really liked the ingredients used and whatever else. For some reason, Bella does not like that food. Therefore, she will not be getting it anymore... ever.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Dandelions and Baseboards

What is it about dandelions and baseboards? No seriously what is it?

I can’t figure it out. Bella knows and she loves them.

I know I have told the baseboard story, but it is not a story anymore. It is an epic nightmare. She will not stop.

I have bought the BEST anti-chew spray (Synergy Labs's STOP Fooey Ultra-Bitter Spray) and it doesn’t deter her a bit. I give her chew toys stuffed with cookies, peanut butter and Easy Cheese. And she will chew on the toy and then start on the baseboards when I look away. It is beyond frustrating…

And then there are the dandelions. Oh where do I start…

First of all, dandelions…they are everywhere. Seriously….they….are….everywhere. There are yellow ones and there are white ones, aka seeding ones. And she will eat them both.

We will be walking down the sidewalk and I will be watching the grass ahead of us and then quickly looking behind us as we walk down the sidewalk all while watching her little chompers.

And she is sneaky. I rarely see her bite down, but I will notice one of the dandelions missing when I look behind us. I will ask her to drop it and she will as long as it is a yellow one. The white one, which are really just seeds, are gone as soon as they touch her tongue.

I just don’t understand her undying love for baseboards and dandelions…when will her "puppy" love for them end?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Comparison Thread (Upon Reflection)

Chassie threw out the next topic on her last post whether she knew it or not. That, my friends, is the comparisons we make between our pets or those close to us. I have only had a small pool to draw from, but have expanded said pool from what Chassie has told me.

Let me start by saying, as I told Chassie earlier this evening, Bella is six and a half months old. Whom she'll become is unknown to us, but largely dependent on us. There has been a lot of frustration these past four months, more so than we've let on through these writings. In the end, I think both of us are enamored with Bella. I'm more willing to admit that publicly that Chassie may be. However, both of us are more than willing to compare her to dogs we have known in the past.

I'll just list them as best I can:

Rusty: A Brittany Spaniel my family adopted when he was roughly 18 months old. Thinking back, Bella has been an angel compared to him. I remember we would come home from church, or some other event and he had destroyed the kitchen, getting into the trash and especially the newspapers. There was one major event, where he chewed through the wooden doors, tore down the drapes in the living room, emptied the contents of the trash can, and made a mesh of the house. My dad was furious. I couldn't imagine being in Rusty's place at that moment. Mom confirmed that he was going to be given to the "Pound" that particular evening, except they were just about to close. Rusty survived another day and "calmed down." He turned out to be a really good dog, I was even able to use him as a pillow while watching television. He did have a thing for squirrels and would want to chase after them while we were on walks. I don't think he ever was able to successfully catch one, though he tried.

McKenzie: A Victorian Bulldog John had at Longwood. I met her the same year I met John, Jeff, Nicolette and Maggee. Some of the best times of my short life were surrounded by those people and McKenzie. McKenzie was a sweetheart. Always with the tongue that one; panting, licking or smiling, she could turn any day into a good one. She was four or five months old when we met her. She got to wear the diaper. She was the only dog I've ever known, that had not been spayed. I'm not sure if there was ever a bad moment with McKenzie when she was growing up (maybe those are John's "Poop Chronicles"), I just know that she was one fantastic dog. Unfortunately, she was taken from us way too soon because of cancer.

Montana: A Boxer Jeff brought home the day after Valentine's Day. Jeff, myself and Matt were living together in Fairfax at that time. I remember I was sitting on the couch playing Grand Theft Auto with Matt when Jeff walked in with this little puppy. At first, I thought it was a joke and he was only watching it for someone. Then it dawned on me that no one's going to have a friend watch an eight week old puppy. I'm pretty sure I called Chassie after that realization and she came over. She was excited about Montana, probably because she could give her back. I wasn't fully in charge of Montana, but I feel that I did help raise her, so she is the closest comparison I have to Bella. Therefore, 'Tana gets a second paragraph.

I vaguely remember her peeing in the hallway. She probably had a few accidents on the carpet. We used a board blocking the kitchen and the hallway to keep her in the living room with us. She eventually figured out how to jump over that board. I remember the few nights I would have to take care of her. I would get frustrated that she didn't go to the bathroom after ten minutes of me standing outside. I have that same feeling with Bella every night. The memory that remains of Montana is her laying up against me on the couch, chewing on a toy or sleeping peacefully. We lived together for four years? I ask the question because I'm such a bad judge of time, it could have been six years for all I know. Regardless of how long it was, I think Matt and I raised Montana along with Jeff. I know she's Jeff's dog and always will be, but I know 'Tana still greets me with a little more enthusiasm than other guests and whenever Matt comes back to town, she remembers who he is. We may have not known exactly what we were doing when we raised her, but we had a good idea and Jeff was a pretty good dad. Montana turned out pretty good.

Kayla: A German Shepard Krista got about a year after Jeff got Montana. Again, I'm sorry but timelines are not my thing. Krista has told us many stories about Kayla and her poop. Sorry, I know, it always comes back to the poop with puppies. It turns out Kayla would throw her poop. That's right, like a monkey. I feel sorry for you, Krista. To return home from lunch and find your walls covered in a fresh new brown paint, I would have returned that one. Kayla has turned into a very nice adult dog, however she has always been people shy. I think I've been able to pet her twice since I've known her. Chassie has been able to trick her and pet her maybe three times. She's a very sweet dog, though. She definitely has a motherly instinct when it comes to other dogs.

Berkley: A Bernese Mountain Dog my sister Kelly owned. Berkley was the smartest dog I've ever known. I usually only saw him once a year, but every year he would greet me and then give me space as his brother, Cisco, a golden retriever, made his appearance known. Cisco was always rambunctious and pushed his way around Berkley, absorbing your attention. Berkley had a way about him, slowly creeping up next to you when you weren't expecting it and saying, "My brother's crazy. I'm sorry. I'm here and I'm calm." He would patiently wait for his turn to be petted, and always got petted the longest. He would do any trick I asked. He was another one that was taken too soon.

Missy: Chassie's dad's chocolate lab. I don't have the stories to do her justice. She's been described by Chassie as the smartest dog she's ever known. I've only met her a few times, but each time I've been impressed. One of her front legs had to be removed two(?) years ago because of bone cancer, but it doesn't seem to affect her at all. She's present in one of the cutest pictures of Chassie I've ever seen.

Hunter: Chassie family's blonde lab. You've heard about Hunter before, you will hear about Hunter again. The story was they went to "look" at dogs, without intending to take a dog home, but Roberta had a basket in the trunk waiting for the puppy that became Hunter. Almost fifteen years later he was the standard that all dogs will have to face for the Smith family. I had know Hunter only in his middle to late years, but he was on another level. There was just something about Hunter that made it easy for you to love him. Chassie asked me one time if I had to take Hunter or Draco home, which would I choose? I chose Hunter. She said, "Everyone always chooses Hunter."

Draco: Oh, Draco. Draco is Chassie's Australian Shepherd mix. Our history together has been up and down. There was a time when I'm pretty sure he did not like me. In fact, I was convinced he hated me. I would go over to Chassie's and he would freak out. He would not want to be in the same room as me, he would start shaking, he could not stay still, he would pant and pace and finally the only thing we could do was let him out of the room. He would go upstairs to where Roberta was and either hang out with her or sit in the bathtub. When Chassie and I decided to move in together, we brought Draco over to spend the night and all he did was cower in the corner by Chassie, away from me. To be quite honest, I didn't know if there was anything that could be done for him to like me. When he moved in, it was all forgiven. He took a day or two to adjust to his new surroundings, but now he makes my house his home. I take him on walks, I feed him sometimes, it's almost like he's become my dog as well as hers. He's an easy dog to get along with.

There's a number of dogs that have been left off this list, Scruffy, Tramp, Dutch, Zoe, Mario, Dakota, Riot, Cisco, I do apologize. There are some on the list that I cannot do justice for because they were such incredible dogs; Rusty, McKenzie, Berkley, Missy and Hunter, I'm talking about you. The point of this post is to remind both myself and Chassie that all of these dogs became great companions. We, (read Chassie) have very high expectations for Bella. Bella has a lot of endearing qualities, just not when she's chewing on the baseboards. Bella will be a good dog, just like all the others. We'll give her the love, we'll give her the guidance, we'll persevere through her rebellious times. If all goes well and she's willing, she may make as big an impact on someone's life as the dog's I've listed above. Good luck Bella, you've got some big paws to fill.

Monday, April 2, 2012

On Blast

Well since Dave put me on blast. I guess I should fess up.

I did freak out. Bella ate the baseboard for the umpteenth time (right after I fixed it too…damn dog). And that was the last straw…I was done. I put her on the leash threw her in the crate (with a treat lure) closed the door. Dissembled the baby gate playpen, picked up her toys, water bowl and called Dave. Now Dave was nice in his description of the phone conversation. My memory plays back that conversation like this:

[Dave] “Hello”

[Me] “She is your dog. I can’t take it anymore.”

[Dave] “Uh…what?”

[Me] “If you don’t come home soon, I am going to take all of her things put them in a trash bag throw it out and she will not exist in my universe.”

[Dave] “Ok”

[Me] “Bye”

And then I fixed dinner for myself and ate it in perfect bliss without having to be consistently aware of what Bella was chewing on and if she needed to go potty.

My biggest problem is Draco. I constantly compare Bella to Draco.

“Draco is calm, why can’t she be calm.”

“Draco doesn’t pee inside”

“Draco doesn’t pull on the leash”

“Draco doesn't eat the BASEBOARDS”

But I need to remember all the times I very seriously told Draco I was taking him to the pound. I would yell at him for the bad things he did and ask him if he would like to live at the pound. I probably ran around town for years telling anyone who would listen I was donating a tri-colored dog to the pound. Free to any home. And it’s not only the only threat, I need to remember the other thing I said…

“Hunter is calm why can he be calm.”

“Hunter doesn’t pee inside.”

“Hunter doesn't pull on the lea….wait Hunter does pull on the leash but he is cuter when he does it.”

“Hunter doesn’t….blah blah blah.”

Yup that is right I compared the perfect Draco to Hunter, the beloved family blond lab 1996-2010.

So am I a “grass is greener on the other side” kinda person?

No, I trained Draco and Hunter too (with help from Bry, Saw and Mom). So I know how to train my dogs to be good dogs. I just need to learn patience and grace. And who better than Bella to teach me. 

I hope it sticks this time.