The Great Escape or Why Metal is No Match for My Dogs

I think there is a natural law that says behavior must balance. For every good deed or achievement, there will be destruction or misbehavior. This seems to be true for both teenagers and the terrible canine trio, but I am focusing on the four legs this week.

The Good: Percy did an amazing job in class this week. He took the test he will have to complete to graduate (just to see where he was–no one thought he would actually pass) and it wasn’t too shabby. His off-leash work was good and the wild man was calm and mostly obedient.

Percy did try to take off after a punk poodle who decided to bolt during his own test. This poodle was embracing his new Mohawk and brightly colored additions to his grey head fur. I couldn’t blame Percy. That poodle seemed to know how to have a good time. Normally, this particular poodle has a pretty prance but not this week. This week it was all gallop and attitude.

The Bad: The boys escaped the backyard last week before Dad went to work and when he was the only one home. While rough-housing at the back gate, they bent the latch and went off for an adventure. The boys have put on a few pounds each so combined they are about 300 pounds. I suppose the fence did the best it could.

I am thinking of putting one of these inside the fence instead of outside.

The quiet gave them away. Dad has been a human and dog parent long enough to be suspicious of silence. The two big boys are between name tags at the moment (thanks, Drake the pig shark for chewing them off) so Dad was extra worried. He grabbed a handful of leashes and started for Grandma’s. The in-laws live three houses down and Haas adores Grandma. He will break out of his crate and open a baby gate to get to her when she pops by. Haas knows where Grandma lives and often tries to head that way when he is allowed out of the backyard. Fortunately, they were distracted by the captivating scents of the neighbor’s stuff so they hadn’t made it far. They did come running when called so…yay, training?

Here’s hoping the padlock, para-cord, and shoelace contain the wild ones.

Now I am off to protect the big boys from Drake. He is a demon tonight. Even Percy is getting tired of his nonsense, which is saying a lot, and I have had to peel Drake off of Haas’s jaw. His toothy smile and wrinkled head would make a terrifying Halloween mask.

May your week be filled with love, laughter, and treats. Be kind to yourself.

Don’t tell mom we play catch inside.

School is starting to overtake us. Every year I forgot how tired I am for the first few months. The first weeks are great but by now the exhaustion is getting to me. I am slacking on Percy’s training and many of my other responsibilities. I’d feel bad about it but that takes too much energy.

I refuse to feel guilty about not doing it all, anymore. Well, not too guilty, anyway. Right now I am giving all I have, all the spoons, the entire bucket, and any other metaphor that shows I am tapped out. That’s okay though. It’s sort-of, kind-of, how I do my job. Now its time for the boys to do theirs. It would also be great if the human family members would work on theirs. It’ll be good, though. My humans know the drill. They are experienced at being in a teaching family. They might be a little rusty in the fall, but they’ll get it. They don’t like scary-mom. The boys might have a bit of difficulty, though. This is their first time dealing with start-of-school mom.

Yesterday marked one year of having Percy. It seems like forever but also like yesterday that this Pain in the Patootie graced us with his presence. Of course, last year he had my old man dog to keep him in line. The other boys have been here about eight months. Whoa. Time for them to pull their rather generous weight. Here’s what they need to do:

  • stop eating things they aren’t supposed to
  • remember that there are no bones allowed on the couch
  • learn the difference between “I-need-a-snuggle annoyed” and “Just-leave-me-alone annoyed”
  • Play catch regularly
  • clean the kitchen floor
  • learn to trim their own nails

But really — their main job is to show us love. For the most part, they excel at this job. The boys probably deserve a bonus. They are still ecstatic when we get home. I keep expecting Drake to lift off with his tail moving so fast. He definitely is getting a workout. Today, Haas was so excited to see me he couldn’t stop on the tile and slid 3 feet on his belly like the old cartoon of Bambi on ice.  Maybe I should be nice and order them a new toy, even if it only lasts 5 minutes.

Mom…mom…mom….throw the ball

Maybe I am too tired to work with Percy on obedience tasks as much as I should but he seems awfully happy playing catch with a ball as I catch up on late work, notebooks, essays, and other assignments. He doesn’t care that it is sometimes 3 or 4 minutes between throws. I think he just believes I am playing hard to get.  The other boys get a trifle jealous but we make up for that with extra Haas snuggles on the couch and allowing Drake to slap Oldest Child whenever he wants.  He also gets to supervise the weekly blog post, so I don’t think he is hurting for attention. Drake might disagree but he is currently the biggest troublemaker. Just wait, Drake.  Mom will have more energy and time in a couple of months and your obedience training will go double time. Get ready to work!

This is what happens when I try to work at home. Haas wants to snuggle in my lap, Percy wants to play catch, and Drake plots destruction.

My dog makes the other dogs look good. You’re welcome, classmates.

What a weekend capped off by a trying Monday with the terrible trio. I’m now ready to go back to school. Thanks, boys.

Friday, Drake stopped jingling. We may be slackers here and left on some extra tags from Drake’s rescue days. It’s the same idea as a bell on a cat’s collar. The big boys really should get some warning before a Drake attack. Dad looked at Drake and discovered he was naked. Where was his collar? No one knew. My theory was that Haas was dragging Captain Wigglebutt around the yard by his collar again and managed to hit the clasp juuuuuust right. Fortunately, Dad retrieved the collar so we don’t have to replace his Smart Tag, name tag, and rabies tag.

Saturday was going to be much better. This was Percy’s group obedience class. I hooked up Percy’s training collar and we had a nice, well-behaved, walk to the car. He even sat nicely in the car for the entire trip without trying to wedge his head in my armpit.

We picked up Oldest Child from a sleepover and sat through the entry-level class with no problems.  My dog was being good! He did what he was supposed to and sat quietly, even when being fussed at by an adorable German Shepherd puppy. He was even calm when two Malinois came through and the owners addressed Percy by name.

You see, Percy is a bit notorious. Everyone knows Percy. This is not because he is the only lab in class, but because he gets called out in class. Like, a lot. Lately, it has been much better and he even got praise last week for doing really well with a new concept.  Way to go, Percy! We are getting this! Or, so I thought.

Class began well. Percy heeled like a champ, sat when he was supposed to, and responded to my cues. Then, we started on distractions. Just like we have been practising (with no trouble) for weeks, I put my leash on the ground, stood on it, and clapped. Percy took off, barking and having a complete freak-out. Ugh.  I could handle this, but still.  And he kept going….and going… and finally, the owner stepped in, couldn’t get Percy to calm down. He was sent outside for a timeout.  After a few minutes to calm down (and have an unscheduled potty break, ew), we went in and Percy did well for the rest of class. I apologized to the Mal owner next to me who keeps getting stuck with Percy and she said “It’s okay. We love Percy!”  It’s easy to love a dog who makes yours look like a dream.  I am choosing to look on the bright side and claim this as a service to other’s handler’s self-esteem.

Today, the trials continued with preventative pill day. We give our boys a combo chewable that is supposed to prevent heartworms, fleas, and other random worms and parasites that I would rather not witness. This can be a chore as it is the one thing Haas and Percy won’t eat without much strife. I decided to be tricky today. I buried it in the boys’ food bowls and locked them in their crates so they couldn’t steal each other’s pills.

I watched closely without looking like I was watching.  Haas gets shy and stops eating. Drake snarfed his food and pill and was released from his crate.  I checked the bottomless pit Percy and he managed to overlook his giant pill in the grooves of the slow-down bowl. I handed it to him and he dropped it and looked away. Apparently, there is a limit to what this stinker will eat.  Haas, in the meantime, had picked his pill out of his bowl and moved it quite far from his food bowl. There was no way he was eating it. Hmmm… what to do next.

Haas doesn’t like these hard pills. Apparently, concrete is softer and tastier.

Oldest Child had a plan.  Just peanut butter wouldn’t work so maybe a treat of a peanut butter sandwich on unhealthy white bread would do it.  The big boys would get 1/4 of a pb sandwich with the pill in the middle. Drake, not to be left out, would get 1/4 of a sandwich with a treat in the middle. Percy’s disappeared in one gulp.  Haas bit into his, split the pill in half, and spit out half a pill while eating the sandwich.  Good thing we had another 1/4 sandwich.  Finally, it went down and the big boys could be free.

Fortunately, all is forgiven, and my faithful friends are by my side again. I’m so glad Percy’s classes are almost over and I don’t have to do pill time again for a month.

Hope your weekend and Monday was much more fun!  Have a wonderful week and we hope you stop by again next time.

Vacation is over. Time to get to work.

Last week was quite busy with visiting family from out of town so training has been put on the back burner. It’s not the best time for this for a couple of reasons. First, we are running out of time on our six-month class and Percy still has a long way to go. I would love for him to be able to advance but he really has to graduate from the group classes to do this. Second, Percy had his annual trip to the vet and he got some bad, bad news. Percy has to go on a diet.

While we wait for the diet food shipment to come in, that means fewer treats and reduced portions since the heat is limiting outdoor exercise. We will increase our in-door training sessions but they aren’t as active. Percy does not like this one bit. It’s amazing how well this dog can pout.

Percy is also sneaky and tries to help the other boys finish their food. Now we have a new feeding routine. Each boy gets fed in his crate and bowls are checked before Major Pain is released. If we don’t remove Haas’s bowl, Percy goes in to lick the crumbs. There’s no dignity where dinner is concerned.

We suspected Percy was getting a bit heavy before his trip in because he was looking more like a loaf of sandwich bread than an hourglass. It even inspired new nicknames from Oldest Child (aka the Mayor of Angstville). We have “rat baby” Drake (I prefer Captain Wigglebutt), “brat baby” for Haas (Fluffy), and “fat baby” for Percy. Few people or animals are called by their actual names in our house.

Starting tomorrow, Percy and I will be having an early morning stroll. Just prying things he shouldn’t eat out of his mouth isn’t enough exercise for me to get healthy either.  Since I always come up with excuses not to do this for myself, I will use Percy for motivation. I am more likely to do something for his health than for my own so I guess this is another benefit of my furry friend. Here’s to both dog and human training!

Percy spectating instead of participating in Drake’s chaos.

Can we make ice jackets a thing?

When someone asks me what my favorite season is, I always answer “whatever comes next.” In the summer, I like autumn, in autumn, I like winter, and so on. It’s not that I am impossible to please, it is that I don’t have the attention span to deal with one season for more than a month. Haas and I are done with summer. It’s too hot and too muggy and all we want to do is sleep in the a/c. Unfortunately, in our neck of the woods, it will still be hot and gross for at least 2 1/2 months.

My snow loving monster dog refuses to go outside in the afternoons. I can’t blame him, really; 78 degrees is much more comfortable than 98 degrees. When puppy playtime gets too rambunctious and the boys are typically kicked out, Haas tries to hide in his bed. I may not see well, but a 100-pound horse-dog isn’t something I am going to overlook. To keep them healthy, they are on an even stricter time limit than when it is single digits outside. The only real difference is I have to force them to come in out of the cold. They don’t argue in the summer.

Inside is soooo boring!

We take precautions and the boys don’t go out for more than a few minutes at a time in the hottest part of the day. They have a covered deck and a tree they haven’t managed to eat yet that provides plenty of shade. They also get a big bowl of water that allows some summertime fun. Haas enjoys putting his snout in the bowl and blowing bubbles. I so wish I could get a picture of that for proof.

After bubble-fun-time, that scruffy giant face will then come try to snuggle. Dripping dog face in mine is not something I enjoy. He’s a sweetheart, and I love him, but…eww. Haas hugs are no fun when you need a towel afterward. It’s also a little too warm for a dog to act like a blanket and sprawl all over me.

So since it is gross, we will take it easy and hope you can do the same. If it’s hot where you are, the puppers and I wish you air conditioning, iced water, and binge-worthy tv. I am off to find some Andy Griffith Show for these boys.

I don’t stop at dog birthday parties.

Let’s get controversial for a few minutes. I’m ready to make some people huff loudly (bonus points if you have a mustache!) and roll their eyes. I haven’t started a good “debate” in a few weeks and regular school won’t start for about 2 months so no outlet there.

I love, love, love when my kids are able to, civily, take sides on an issue or statement and explain why. I’ve heard great reasoning for why organ donation should and should not be mandatory and why the voting age should be adjusted. (Interestingly, it was a pretty even 3 way split between lowering it, keeping it the same, and raising both the voting and draft age to 25 — all kids’ ideas)

Since my brief stint in summer school didn’t allow the time for teaching self-control (i.e. not calling a classmate an idiot for disagreeing with your position), I can just voice my opinion here.

Ready? Don’t drop me if you are a follower… I don’t have many to spare.

I love clothes on dogs. It’s adorable! A boxer in boots or a schnauzer in a necktie is a dog I want as a friend! Put a hoodie on that dog and I am done. Get me a picture and a pawtograph. (OH! That could be a fun idea for a fundraiser — get a picture of you and your dog with their paw-print autograph. I could be like a photo booth. Focus, crazy dog lady….)

Just because a dog has fur doesn’t mean it doesn’t need a little extra warmth.

Gypsy and Stump in older days –Gypsy loved her sweater for cold walks in the snow.

If your pooch is older, why not keep those joints warm with a brightly colored argyle sweater? I need to put that on my list for Drake. He’s a happy lookin’ fella and argyle will put him over the top. The husband will certainly agree if it allows Drake to go outside for longer periods of time with his cold-weather-loving brothers. After he gets used to his sweater, I can buy him a raincoat and rain hat. I’m sure they have one on Amazon. I just checked — there are 10,000 results when you search “dog costumes” on Amazon. Now I can start counting down to Halloween.

Getting the boys embroidered vests with their names on them would also help Youngest Child and the neighbors tell them apart. Currently, I hear about “the big black dog” misbehaving. They are all at least mostly black. Confusion eliminated. Everyone wins when dogs wear clothes!

Think of the jobs that would be created and maintained. I wonder how many dog fashion designers there are. Maybe I’ll look that up.  Someday. I’m going to guess the highly technical “a lot” with the caveat that some are probably amateur part-timers who are just as awesome as the full-timers. Do they count for job statistics? I could look that up, too, but I probably won’t. Instead, I am going to start picking out the boys’ Halloween costumes. I wonder if they make any in metal.

Chaos is the new normal.

The boys are in the doghouse (figuratively — they don’t actually fit inside Stump and Gypsy’s old house). They destroyed their pool. It started with a small puncture I thought I could fix but now it looks like it fell into a giant’s garbage disposal. No water play now unless it rains. What a long, hot summer it will be.img_2823

Maybe next year I can get them a metal watering trough or something. We had one for a summer when I was a kid that would work beautifully for these terrors but I am sure it is long gone. Should I have to buy metal everything?

How much can 3 dogs destroy? Everything. The answer is everything. There is nothing these dogs can’t decimate. I worry constantly about toxicity levels. It can’t be good to try to eat a sharpie (where did Drake find that?), or a soda bottle, or whatever I am about to pry out of Percy’s jaws.

They also ate my nativity set this last week. I have had to rescue the poor Mary in the past from Haas’s jaws but this is a total loss. I thought it was put away but I was so wrong. It is time to find a puppy priest for some canine confession. I’m a little lot concerned for them.

I briefly considered finding a yard ornament type made from cement or concrete or something like that for a nativity replacement. Then I remembered Haas’s taste for concrete as a chew toy. Could I try metal? Surely someone makes metal nativity sets that are small enough for a crowded living room. Maybe a framed photo of someone else’s is the right way to go. Maybe I should stop thinking about Christmas decorations in June. I really need to work on my other hobbies.

I’m off to quilt so I don’t use bad words at my boys.

I love my dogs. I need to keep working on house manners. I love my dogs.  I love my dogs. Sigh.

What’s in a name?

In college, my goal in life was to retire to the beach and make a living building driftwood furniture. I would have a German Shepherd named Hank and we would walk along the water’s edge every morning and play fetch with a tennis ball.

Since this dream was so far away, I could ignore the obvious problems: dogs aren’t allowed on many beaches, I live in a landlocked state I am rather fond of, and I don’t know how to build furniture.

Retirement is much closer these days and while I sometimes joke about running away to build driftwood furniture, I still haven’t named one of my dogs Hank. Even as my dream evolves, for some reason I haven’t let go of the idea of a German Shepherd named Hank. That part of the dream will probably never happen.

First, one of my brothers-in-law has a related name and I feel vaguely concerned that he will think I don’t like him if I use that name for a dog. It could also get confusing at family gatherings. What if I just yell, “Hank. Sit!” or ask the dog to “heel”. The brother-in-law might find out how bossy I can actually be.

Second, I tend to have rescue dogs and I feel bad about changing their names. How many names has the poor pooch had? Can dogs have an identity crisis? This is why Percy is still Percy and not Yeti or Linus. When I moved school districts, the new place calls me something slightly different from what I was accustomed to and that was weird enough. I’ll just let someone else have the chore of coming up with a name.

My new retirement dream is starting to take shape. It still involves dogs. My plan is to make lots of quilts, volunteer with a rescue organization, call and harass my children a few times a week, and work as part of a therapy dog team. This is probably a more achievable dream given that the husband has banned me from power tools that cut and superglue. (I wouldn’t super glue the furniture together, but I might want to glue sea shells on a chair or something.)

There will definitely be at least one companion on four feet (or on three — I don’t mind canines who have been through some things). I sort of even hope s/he is a little terrible at times. It’ll keep me from missing teenagers!

We are (going to be) the champions!

We made it!

I hope I get to say that at the end of the week.  I know I made it through year 17 of teaching high school students and I am confident that Percy will make it through level 2 of training this week.

Of course, being irrationally superstitious, now I am sort of afraid that I say this and Percy will choke and we will be stuck in level 2 of training for another 6 years. I’ll still love him either way, but I would buy him a cheeseburger if he would just pass this test without deciding to claim a cone or scratch his scruff. Part of what makes me nervous is that we will be there on a different day, at a different time, and with different dogs. The practice run at the local pet store went beautifully yesterday so I am optimistic enough to share with my 10 whole followers.

Percy doesn’t seem to be nervous. He has made his way through a stuffed hedgehog, a squeaky toy, a blanket, and he is currently trying to eat a throw pillow. Obviously, he isn’t losing his appetite.


This (potentially false) sense of security has me contemplating the other canine companions. Which one do I focus training on next? Maybe I should put it up for a vote.

One one hand, Haas is ginormous. He is probably scaring the neighborhood since his head is roughly the size of a beach ball. He also seems to think that concrete is a great snack. I wish that part was a joke. Instead, we have to replace the ring of concrete around the neighbor’s fence because Haas keeps breaking off a chunk and bringing it in for a light snack. He also tries to jump up on people and sit on the back of the sofa like some weird cat/parrot. The jumping isn’t so exciting and frequent for immediate family because we are all a little vertically, um, limited. When average height (or the occasional tall) people come over, it’s like he is yelling “my people!” and going in for an embrace.

Haas says “Pick me!”

On the other hand, we have Drake. Drake has really been coming out of his shell in the last few weeks. In some ways, it is wonderful. He can be so sweet and happy to see me and then the next he is launching himself off of the couch to take Haas down. He also throws tantrums like a two-year-old whenever I work with Percy on obedience training. He barks, howls, pulls in his crate cover and shreds it while slamming around inside his crate. Fortunately, our training sessions are short. Maybe the extra love of hand feeding and one on one attention won’t create a monster but make him “chill” which would be “fire.” (Just because school is out doesn’t mean I can’t keep working on my vocabulary — unless my kids and siblings are in the middle of an elaborate practical joke. In that case, good for you for being persistent!)

Drake was too busy gnawing on Haas’s leg to ask for your vote.

So, if you feel like it, drop me a note and place your vote! Do I focus my extra time in the summer training Haas or Drake next?

The end is near.

Percy and I had a rough week. I am certainly ready to start a new week and if he cared about time passing, I am sure Percy would be happy it is Monday and we are getting back to normal. Since this is Percy’s first spring with us, he doesn’t know the craziness/crabbiness of the end of the school year.

There are 10 days of school left and I am tired. No, not tired…exhausted, drained, frazzled, and bone-weary. It isn’t just that I am not sleeping enough (but that doesn’t help), it’s tired of fighting cell phones, missing work, and teenage hormones. I love all 127 of my kids BUT they are making my hair gray and I feel an eye twitch a-comin’. My boys don’t understand why I am perpetually annoyed and they have their own rough times.

On Thursday of last week, poor Percy experienced some gastric distress. This necessitated a bath, a kennel clean-up, and the permanent loss of his bedding. I was annoyed but not at my boy. He had to be feeling pretty rough to make a mess in his bed. I’m not sure why he thought rolling around in it would make it better. Percy didn’t get much comfort because of clean-up and clean-up of clean-up. (My tub looks awesome now, so there is that)

Baby Percy
Just over one year ago, my big baby was a little baby.

On Friday, I had to leave for 3 days and it is the longest we have been separated since Percy came to live with us. I am guessing it was harder on me than it was on Percy but I am pretty sure he missed me. My handsome boy stuck to my side for most of the evening I returned and shared his blanket scrap for 5 whole minutes! That’s a big step for the big baby.

Percy says hi
I will share my blanket if you won’t leave again.

I know in a few short weeks our training will get back on track, I will no longer look like Haas smacked me in the eyes, and there will be many leisurely walks and jogs in my canine companions’ future.

I can make it. Just a few more days and a few thousand reminders to turn in missing work. I will think paws-itively and have extra dog cuddles. I have made it through the last 16 years so #17 won’t be a loss. I promise to stop whining (about this school year) soon.

Our pack wishes yours a beautiful week and lots of carrots and happiness!