An awkward conversation

22 July 2019

Dear Haas,

We need to talk. There is this thing called “personal space” that you need to accept. I know this is hard for you because you can’t conceive the idea that someone doesn’t adore you or want you up in their bubble. What you did today just put your behavior over the edge. You absolutely cannot sit on a stranger’s lap when you are out in public. It’s just not done.

I know the gentleman was kind enough not to say anything but, still. That’s not okay. You have gotten too heavy and your hygiene lately has been sub par. No one wants a hairy, stinky giant they don’t know plopping his big bony rear down with no warning. All he wanted to do was wait patiently for the vet with his shih tzu. The next person may be frightened and then won’t want to be your friend.

Look. Dad and I love you. The kids love you. We’ll take your hugs and snuggles, but please stop sitting on strangers’ laps. Also, stay out of the trash. It’s just gross, dude. The groomer isn’t going to keep being so happy to see you.

I know you are a good boy and I love you. I just want you to give people their space and maybe don’t take up so much of a small waiting room. Also, leave the hot spot on your neck alone so I can take a week off from paying the vet. We’ll talk about you removing your sutures on your own another time and why that’s no good.

Love,

Mom

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Mom. You’re blowing this way out of proportion.

Dear Mom,

If he didn’t like it, the man could have scooted over. Also, if you kept treats out on the table so I could have a late night snack, I would stay out of the trash. The next step is to call grandma and grandpa. Now, turn off the light, I’m trying to take a snooze.

Love taking up the whole bed,

Haas.

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.

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.

Getting emotional on the eve of 40

Tomorrow is a big day. My kids start taking their state mandated End of Course Exams: a standardized test for my non-standardized kids. I dislike them tremendously. They disrupt our learning, frustrate the kids, and bore me to tears. Did I mention there are two days just for my subject? Some of my students will take a total of 3 tests that pull them out of class for 5 days total.

Contemplating those tests makes me think about what teaching teenagers and training dogs have in common. Besides using treats to get desired behavior, they are both discouraging at times. For both, this fades as I learn the individual quirks, motivations, and what we need to do to form 14a bond with one another. Then, it clicks and the positives outweigh the hard parts. I’ve been thinking about this since Haas’s training on Saturday and then today as I was reminded that I only have 5 weeks left with my kids. I’m not counting down the days and I am grabbing extra tissues.

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Some days I look at the lunch break chaos and get annoyed. Today I get weepy that it won’t be here for long.

The first weeks of training Percy were disheartening. I watched other handlers moving effortlessly around the room with a loose leash and stopping with an attentive pup immediately sitting and gazing at the handler in adoration. Percy didn’t do that. Check out this old post for more detail. Now we are a walking (or rather “heeling” heh) testimonial to our training classes. Percy is wonderful both on leash and off. Haas has his own challenges and eventually we will get it and life will be fine.

My kids are at the Percy’s-current-level-of-training phase. They don’t need me anymore and now I just have to show them. The majority have shown so much growth and development in the their reading and writing. I don’t care if someone else deems their progress acceptable; it is acceptable to me. They didn’t all grow at the same rate or even in the same amount as each other, but they grew!

Here’s where dog training and teen teaching differ. I get to keep my dogs for life. I have to let my kids go in 5 weeks. They’ll move up to the next level and I will see them in the halls laughing, crying, engaging in periodic impolite language and they will pass by without a thought and move forward with their lives. I’ll miss them but I will have to focus on my new set of kids. I will love them, too, and will let them go when it is time. I’ll keep watching those who connect on social media after they graduate and celebrate the births, mourn their heartaches, and adore their pet photos. Maybe I do get to keep them for life, in a way.

My kids –if you found this, I still love you and I don’t care or remember what you go on your MAP, ACT, or EOC. I remember YOU.

P.S. Tomorrow is my birthday and I have to give a standardized test. This is just added to my extensive list of why I hate standardized tests.

We’re back and the boys are still bad.

We’ve been away, both from the blog and from home, for a couple of weeks and we have missed you! Its been a crazy couple of weeks but they just reminded me how much I love my family, my dogs, and my school kids.

A few weeks ago a family member had a health emergency which meant I needed to drive across the state to be with that family. Since it is difficult to get the boys into boarding (no one wants to keep dogs who are the size of horses for some reason) when it is planned, it would have been impossible to get them in immediately. This meant that Percy would come with me so that our dog sitter/Grandpa could take care of Haas and Drake. They are enough of a challenge without the joys of the original terror on four feet.

Percy did beautifully on the trip back to his original home. He handled three hours in the car with minimal stinkage and was in labrador heaven at a whole new house and yard to sniff. He did have to hide from a couple of terrifying kittens who weren’t his biggest fans. I only laughed a little at hundred pound dog crying and trying to climb up my back when faced by three pounds of fluff. Percy’s second birthday happened while we were in St. Louis so instead of party he got a new hedgehog toy to destroy and a small bite of corned beef and potato. I’ll make it up to him soon and find some spray cheese.

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Percy insisted this beauty was out to get us. This is Meeko.

While Percy was living the high life and pretending to be an only child, my normally good boys were causing some trouble at home. Haas, known for being just slightly stubborn, decided he wasn’t going to listen to Grandpa. He refused to eat and refused to leave his crate.  I’d like to think it was because Haas missed me but I suspect it is more that he was angry about not being able to roam the house. He loves his crate when the door is wide open. It’s when you tell Haas he can’t sleep on a king size bed that he gets snippy about the whole crate thing. He even managed to break out of three latches on the last day to greet us at the door. I also noticed new teeth marks on the lock of the back door. I’m extra glad I hadn’t replaced that door knob yet.

Now that we are back in the swing of things, Haas also has to go back to training. He is night and day different from Percy. Percy is incredibly food driven. With just the right amount of breakfast, Percy would do almost anything for a bit of any food or food-like item. Haas isn’t food driven. Sometimes he isn’t driven by anything at all. For two weeks, I had him skip breakfast and took several different treats. Haas wouldn’t take them. This week I got desperate. We trained with popcorn. Why do I end up adopting the weird dogs? Drake’s weirdness will have to wait for another day. I still love them.

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Oh, Mom. I know you ran out of popcorn so there is no way I am going heel.

Now I suppose I should get caught up on the mountain of grading that is waiting for me. It’s a bit a challenge since I have three dogs trying to fuse their bodies to my side and lap. We’ll make it. It’s almost time to start the end of year countdown when it will be all dog all the time. Have a wonderful week!

Valentine’s Day love at our house

There is so much love in our house. I love dogs. Percy loves carrots. Drake loves sighing dramatically. Haas loves to snuggle. I thought about writing a sappy love letter about the dogs and my school and home kids but it has been a weird week, so I’ll just tell you about something that made me laugh. I love laughing so I am counting this as a love letter.

Oldest Child is smaller than Haas. That didn’t stop him from plopping his big ole butt on the kid’s lap. I could see the dog with one knee sticking out below and a teenaged elbow to one side. Before OC ran out of oxygen, Haas slid off the kid’s lap but trapped underneath him was the jacket holding the elbow along with the rest of the kid. It turns out that my kid can’t lift something that is of equal body weight.

Naturally, as any experienced and responsible parent would do, I laughed. “Help! Get off! I can’t move!” I heard. I laughed some more and, as the kid attempted to slide away, the giant Haas paw held the kid in place for the other two to slurp all over the kid’s face.

Oldest Child made it out with only a little dog slobber and none the worse for wear. I don’t think OC will admit to such a mushy emotion but that kid definitely felt loved.

If we can’t chew on humans, we’ll just chew on each other!

Sometimes Dogs Just Stink

Garbage Gut. Fat Baby. Bottomless Pit. If it has to do with eating, the name has probably been applied to Percy at some point. A few times a year, Percy causes himself gastric distress. Last night was one of those nights. Poor Percy. Poor Mom who had to clean it up.

We try to monitor what Percy eats because if we didn’t, that would be all Percy did. He doesn’t sleep, but the boy can eat. It doesn’t even have to be food to disappear down his gullet. He eats socks, nativity sets, sharpies, homework, grade books, slippers, trees, and anything else not nailed down. All of these things seem to pass right through.

Yesterday, whatever he ate must have needed an express ticket out because we were all regretting his poor choices.

At 2 am, Percy’s whines woke me and the smell that hit was more effective than my morning coffee to get me moving quickly. Haas was resting just outside Percy’s crate as if he were taking care of this poor boy. All 3 went out while Operation Crate Clean commenced.

When I was finally able to lock everyone back up and try to get an hour’s sleep, Haas decided the rules didn’t apply to him and he stole my bed. He takes up substantial bed real estate.

I guess I couldn’t blame him. I wouldn’t want to sleep next to Percy either. Poor Drake. He had to hang out with Percy. Maybe Drake needs an extra treat tonight. I know I need one! I sure hope Percy learned his lesson this time…but I doubt it.

I still think they are worth it but I hope it doesn’t happen again for a long time.

I’m sorry, Mom. It tasted good.