I need pet insurance

My dog looks high and we have spent entirely too much time at the vet in the last month. We still have two more visits to go this month and it is a good thing I prefer to stay home instead of going to a nice beach and wiggling my toes in warm sand while sipping some umbrella’d drink. I’d have no money to tip the waiter/delivery dude.

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We want something from a food delivery guy. Dad has food. He can deliver it to our faces!

Instead, we fretted over an abscess on Drake’s neck ($), treated it both internally (gross) and with oral medications, before we discovered Haas’s incessant licking near the wound caused a hotspot that needed more medication ($). While the first week was a challenge to get Drake to hake his meds, the second week was much easier due to the prednisone. Within a few days, Drake was out-eating even Percy and didn’t require a cheeseburger to wolf down pills. We did have to stop him from trying to rob Haas.

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Right after having Drake’s abscess drained.
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I know you say I’m all better, Mom, but snuggles will make it extra better!

As Drake recovered, we knew we needed to take Haas in to have his itchy ears checked and treated for infection ($$) Since we had to pay for a doggie exam anway, I thought it would be a good idea to check out a bump that had formed on his back end. His foster mom thought someone had shot him with rock salt so when we first noticed it a while back, we assumed it was something just under his skin. We were not so lucky and found it was a tumor that needed to be surgically removed ($$).

Today my biggest boy went in for booty bump removal. This isn’t the first time we have had to take a dog in for tumor removal but it was always something benign. The only thing I was worried about was his no-longer-fluffy butt getting sunburned or how the other dogs in class might giggle and point. However, this time the news was both good and bad. Haas did well in his surgery, didn’t have to be completely put under, and they got all of the tumor. The bad news was the tumor was malignant. There are no medications required but we will have to watch for the inevitable return. We hope that it won’t be any time soon. He is currently wandering the house on unsteady legs and hoping for a treat. I think he’ll be getting a few of those this evening.

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Mom! Let me have some dignity, please.

The positive is Percy is completely fine and eating everything in sight ($$$$$).  We are glad to be back to detailing doggie adventures and hope you are having a fabulous summer. Until next time, I am off to baby my poor pathetic puppies.

Making myself useful

This last week I got to do a few hours of volunteer work transferring a couple of dogs from a kill shelter to a different town’s no-kill shelter. This was organized by a local rescue organization that is woefully understaffed and underfunded but still does an amazing job. It was a wonderful experience and one I plan to repeat.

As the getaway driver, I was quite nervous for our hour drive. Would they cry all the way? Would I fall in love and want to end up with two more? Would they pee in my car? What if their gas was worse than Haas’s?

My heart started to break when I saw these beautiful pitty babies. Normally, I’m not a pit bull fan because I am drawn to scruffier dogs. However, these two, a male and female, melted my heart. I’m a sucker for animals with special needs and it was obvious these two needed some TLC. The female was terrified, appeared to have an abscess on her sad little face, but her buddy was a mess. He seemed to have chunks ripped out of the fur on his back and little nicks in various places. Their toenails were overgrown to the point it looked painful. The animal control officers said they had been covered with ticks and what I thought was some matting, on closer inspection, seemed to be a healing wound. They were in dire need of a bath. These were the worst smelling dogs I have ever encountered.

Their behavior on the trip was impeccable. The little female sat quietly with the saddest look on her face while her friend alternated trying to climb into the back glass and drooling on my console.

When we arrived at their new (temporary) home, their roles switched. The female willingly walked out of the car into the building while the male refused to leave the car or go through any  doors. Their sweetness doubled as we had to wait a bit for their intake papers and kennel to be set up. Meanwhile, a staff member and I fed these pretty pitties treats that they took delicately from our hands and stayed close for snuggles. As they had been dumped, neither dog had a name. The assisting staff member named the male Diesel and I was allowed to name the female Agatha. For some reason, I felt so much better about them after they had names, even if they may not stick.

It was so hard to leave them but it made me grateful for my own boys. I love my rescues, at least one of which was also dumped. I so hope those brindle beauties find a loving home soon. I keep an eye on the new rescue’s website for those sweet babies but I am betting they need some vetting still. They are going to make someone very happy one day and I’m glad to have met them.

Stranger Dogs, Stranger Days

There’s a new routine/obsession for my pack of terribles. It has become all consuming. As soon as the back door is opened, all 3 boys shove past the resident door person, hip checks the adjacent table, and fly down the steps.

This is where paths often diverge and the hunt begins. Percy barks orders (or fear, but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt) and heads to the south side of the shed. Drake races toward the north and Haas alternates west and east. The hunt for the shed monster begins anew–every couple of hours, loudly, over and over.

Drake’s concentration is fierce and he carefully, yet frantically, digs under the shed. Here, Percy takes command/paces nervously and lets the entire neighborhood in on the play by play. Meanwhile, Haas keeps trying to shove his giant, fuzzy head into a previously dug hole roughly the size of his paw. Granted, the paw is massive, but his head is bigger. The only thing Haas retrieves is another pound of dirt that he magically  transforms into a muddy hipster beard.

When Drake yelps and the hound howls come out, the big boss calls off the hunt. The pack gives Mom sad eyes and all 3 attempt to crowd into her lap. She doesn’t give in and take care of the shed monster for the boys. Mom is wise and knows it is probably a garden snake, a mother bunny just trying to care for her babies, or even a shared canine hallucination (these boys will eat anything, good idea or no, so maybe it’s doggy drugs). It definitely isn’t a scaly beast who will come through the walls and devour us in our sleep, no matter what these boys think.

Mom isn’t scared of the shed monster; but even still, she’s not checking out the situation. She’ll just snuggle big, brave, muddy puppies and keep watching Netflix.

Love or whatever

Previously I have written about trying to learn how to show love as freely as my dogs do. This was central to my classroom strategy this year. Since the school year is officially over, now I get to reflect on how well it worked. There was definitely a change.

When I had my very first classroom 18 years ago, I accidentally slammed my door on the first day and scared the freshmen. When you combine that with my natural RBF (resting um…butthead…face), 30 kids were terrified. They soon realized was all bluff and gruff. However, my kids thought it was hilarious to tell incoming students how scary I was. For the first 14 years of teaching, I just went with the unfounded fear turned to continuing upper class prank. It worked well with my inclination to avoid sappiness.

Then it became time for me to go home and change some things in my life.

I had a new opportunity to start the year with love rather than fear. It was tougher than I expected. Before, I had very few discipline issues because by the time kids were no longer afraid, our procedures were established and I could form relationships. I also needed to break my ingrained habits.

I didn’t want to be the scary teacher. Instead of kids laughing at their long running joke (excepting those who thought I was legitimately terrifying and never moved past it), I wanted to be the kid of teacher my kids loved and remembered fondly.

The first two years in my current district, I just tried to be the kind of teacher, and person, I wanted to be. I made some improvements but they weren’t enough and I didn’t feel successful in any way. Then came Percy who would never have been a dog I picked out for myself.

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This was Percy’s first visit with us. At the time, he seemed so big but now I realize how little he actually was.

Percy is the most loving dog I have ever met. I started using him as my model for some of my behavior. I try to show my kids every day how much I love them so the students don’t have to guess or hope their teacher cares. Obviously, I don’t show my affection in the same way Percy does. I have no desire to slobber on anyone or follow them around every moment of the day. I still need my space and quiet time.

I just started telling the students how I felt. I worried that teenagers would think it weird or that they were too old for getting read to and fed snacks. I gave it a go. Then I told them again.

I reminded my kids that I would love them no matter what their standardized test scores were. And in their very last class, I reminded each section that I loved them dearly and I would miss them.

The best part of actually verbalizing how I felt felt instead of just hoping they knew was their response. One group even responded immediately with a “love you” as they left. While I searched for the tissue box that seems to roam the classroom, I thought about how happy I was this year. I had no behavioral discipline referrals. I signed more yearbooks than all other years combined and I have a great start for my new memories book.

I know it isn’t just saying “I love you” aloud to my kids. I actually worked to improve our classroom environment and atmosphere in other ways, as well. Those three words were the scariest part and I will keep working to make my classroom not just a room of learning but also of love.

I don’t regret taking the risk of stating my feelings just like I don’t regret getting a giant, slobbering, blanket-carrying, bottomless pit of a dog who thinks he must be in constant physical contact. Percy and I encourage you to show the love yourself this week. We need more love in the world.

Happy days are here again

The terrors have 2 reasons to celebrate this week. First, it is the last week of school so there is a whole lot of snuggling and playing catch and tug in the boys’ future. The second, more immediately exciting reason to celebrate is that Haas is passed into level 3 of his training class.

We had no plans to try to test out of level 2 and hadn’t even attempted some of the requirements but my Haas was a big enough bum to pass! This was the hardest level for Percy because there was always so much interesting stuff going on and he wasn’t physically capable of leaving my side for 2 seconds. Haas, on the other hand, just wanted to lie down and didn’t care if I walked around him or did cartwheels across the floor. I’ll take it, though.

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Haas on his way to get his celebratory cheeseburger for passing his test. His head hits the roof of the car. 

Haas is difficult to work with/train because he isn’t food driven. At home, I can get him to work with a little peanut butter or some commercial treats but not outside the house. We’ve tried all the dog treats, bacon, beef jerky, popcorn, string cheese, and hot dogs. They last about two bites. The only thing that works in the actual training class is Chex Mix. This works for me for a few reasons. One is that I would much rather smell Chex Mix breath in the car instead of dog breath. Another is that I can steal the rye chips. Of course, when I come across them, the other handlers probably think I am eating dog treats instead of my dog eating human treats. Oh, well. They already think I’m nuts for having a horse sized dog.

I’m a rule follower.

When owning pets, it’s very important to set and enforce certain ground rules. These are mandatory when owning dogs that are bigger than you. Being a gal of exceptional willpower, I like to make sure everyone in the house adheres to “the rules.”

  •  Save your furniture and keep animals off!
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    Don’t bother me, Mom. I need a nap.

    definitely don’t them hang out on top of the couch

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    I can watch the door better this way.
  • no dogs on the bed

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    I know I take up half a king size bed, but you really need to clean your room, Mom. Don’t change the subject!
  • No playing ball in the house.

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    Throw it, Mom! I want to play catch!
  • No people food–especially snack foods

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    This is what Haas used as training treats for class this week. The rye chips are Mom’s, though.
  • No bones–they stink!

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    What? It’s tasty, Mom.

Oh, who am I kidding? The rules don’t apply to me.

History Repeats Itself

Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, I will reread some of my posts from the last year. Sometimes, it’s a bit…dull. Sometimes, I wonder how I still have three dogs who are all in good health and we still haven’t had sock removal surgery. Go Percy!

Last time I checked the diary archives, I noticed that this time last year I was counting down the days and being frustrated by Percy’s lack of training success. This year is a little different. I have avoided finding out how many days are left but I am still frustrated with dog training. This time it’s outwardly Haas being uncooperative but actually it’s me falling back on old habits. I’m letting my stress over end-of-school-year stuff get to me. I’m on top of the paperwork. I’m behind on preparing to let my kids go and on being consistent with dog training.

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Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll keep an eye out for papers that need to be graded. We’ve got this!

I figure I am learning by at least recognizing what the problem is. That’s a start, right? I know that when Drake’s turn comes around to go to obedience school, I won’t be starting in the spring. Ideally, I will get my rear in gear and have Haas finished up by the early fall. Then, I can start Drake when I am still busy but less likely to get overly emotional anytime something doesn’t go my way. This sounds like a plan! I can do this!

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We don’t need to train, Mom. Let’s enjoy the deck and my dirt wall art.

I could start my super enthusiastic return to the training regimen tonight and turn over a new leaf. The weather is beautiful, though. Maybe one more night of denial won’t hurt. Surely, I can still get everything in order tomorrow, right? My kids won’t move on for almost a month, I have several days before going to training again, and I don’t really need to come in out of the sun.

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Drake was just awfully cute and minimally dirty so I had to get a picture while I could.

Happy Monday evening to all.