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!

Puppy Love

I think Drake is cheating on me. He’s been kissing his groomer. I guess I’m not too devastated, though. I do have two other dogs who slobber all over me.

I suppose Percy is my main doggie squeeze (big surprise if you know me or have read a post or two, amirite?). He was here first of these three and was the only one who was supposed to be my dog. Drake was supposed to be Youngest Child’s. Apparently, I was sorely mistaken about YC being ready to take care of something capable of independent action. That kid can grow plants like nobody’s business.

Technically, Haas is Dad’s but that is really only a weekend and daylight gig. Haas’s affections are split between Mom, Dad, and Mima. He’s his own island.

Drake is different from the other two. He isn’t fond of people. He doesn’t seem to fear them or actively dislike people. He just isn’t interested in them unless they are touching his fence. Those dudes are worthy of his big boy barks.

Drake seems to love me, though. He and Percy take turns sprawling all over me when I am seated. It hasn’t always been that way. For the first six months after his adoption, Drake was quite stand-offish. I could pet him but only if I went to Drake. He didn’t come to us unless it was to go outside. He seemed quite bonded with the other two so it was fine.

Gradually, we noticed Drake spending more time with us and begging for belly rubs. Now he spends the majority of his time with his belly exposed and head hanging off the couch looking like a possessed hyena.

Mom! Stop playing catch with Percy and scratch my chin and tummy.

Imagine my surprise when I went to pick Drake up from his first solo trip to the groomer (he normally goes with Haas) and she told me he was very good and gave tons of kisses. I bet it was the tummy rubs during bath time that won him over. I’m glad he feels comfortable with another human.

So here’s my “deep thought” for the week. Percy is easy to love because he will love you first no matter what. He won’t even give you a choice. Drake is easily overlooked. You have to love him first and for a long time. Is one type of love worth more than the other? For a while, I thought the one I had to work for was more precious but I don’t think so now. They are just different. Both types teach me something. I will love those (human, teenager, and canine) who love me first and unconditionally. I will also remember to work at showing that same unconditional love so I can have more Drakes in my life.

The boys and I send you love and hope for a beautiful week. Come back soon!

Gotcha Day Party

Saturday was an eventful day. Percy the Pain was back with a vengeance and we celebrated one year with the other two terrors.

I was hoping our one year Gotcha Day with Drake and Haas would be nice and snowy as these three can’t get enough of the white stuff. Instead, we just got a thin coating of sleet so they are still waiting for fun and winter games. To keep the disappointment low, I headed to the pet store for new toys. This provided the perfect opportunity for Percy to get in trouble.

While Mom was gone and Dad out of the room, Percy drank Dad’s coffee and was caught picking his coat pockets looking for cigarettes. Obviously, we don’t let Percy have either nicotine or caffeine. He doesn’t even get second hand smoke as Dad goes outside for that terrible habit. Percy was in so much trouble he almost missed out on Gotcha Day festivities.

Mom is a sucker though. Percy got to enjoy homemade pupcakes with his brothers. The boys all got new toys for about 20 minutes until they were utterly destroyed, but I think they all had a good time.

Haas got his peanut butter and bananas and Drake got his spray cheese
Haas is learning to play fetch so we thought he would enjoy a new ball. He ate it before we could play.
Drake just enjoys destroying everything.

I can’t believe it has been a whole year. The two rescues have changed so much. Drake is no longer standoffish and wants to snuggle with and smile at Mom as much as possible. Haas is still convinced he is a lapdog but is much more confident and has become quite the escape artist. They are all expensive and a lot of work but I am sure glad they came into my life.

Percy is no longer the most obnoxious dog in the house.

If Drake was human, he’d be a 3 year old. I am not figuring “dog years.” I am judging this based on behavior. Lately he has been hitting a new high of obnoxiousness. I still love him, but oh, my!

Partially due to training and partially due to just age, my giant pain who is Percy is calming down. Drake, however, is ramping up the terrible. He is currently declaring his annoyance at not being allowed to go outside. It’s noisy in here.

Someone is accessing our backyard so Drake has to spend a whole hour not getting to do what he wants when he wants. It starts with soft, high-pitched whines that morph into a strange howl/bark at the door. This dog is never quiet. When Drake is left alone for a whole ten minutes without attention from man or beast, he climbs up on the couch, flops down with his head on the arm and sighs his distress. Then, he groans a long drawn out moan like someone told the boys cheese was no longer a thing. 

Drake doesn’t even sleep quietly. Unlike Percy, Drake enjoys his naps. Often we hear barks, yips, yelps, and something that rather resembles the eventual draining of a clogged bathtub.

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Life is dark and meaningless when you can’t do what you want.

Then, there’s the slapping. I’ve never had a dog who slapped people and other canines when he was miffed. I’ve experienced that behavior with cats, but not dogs. I can’t even blame the evil Meri for that bad habit because she avoids the boys without fail. Earlier, Drake and I were having a discussion about appropriate behavior. He had his sweet face on and was draped upside down over my lap. (For some reason, he prefers to spend most of his downtime on his back.) I explained that slapping and hitting wasn’t okay and he needed to stop. Haas walked up to investigate and Drake whacked him across the face mid-lecture. Obviously, this dog listens well. When I threatened to ground him, he smacked my arm. Drake is currently in his crate to calm down.

This is a radical change from the independent, nonviolent, slightly stand-offish boy we brought home 10 months ago. I am telling myself he is just now comfortably settling in but I will be glad when this toddler phase passes.

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Drake in nicer days.

 

Attitude is Everything

When I tell people I teach high school students, many people tell me they are sorry or give some unnecessary praise for dealing with teenagers. It seems that attitude is the main complaint for those people. It’s true that teenagers can have some overly negative attitudes but I often think it is the expectation of negativity that makes it more noticeable or maybe worse. Teenagers can actually be quite wonderful and full of hope and love and laziness and inspiration and punkishness. I have often written that I like my dogs because they remind me of my kids. It’s easier to train the dogs, though. When they want to refuse or be hateful, I can’t understand what the dogs are saying.

I know that when I am having a particularly rough day with students, I get better results if I let my kids know that I lack patience and am not doing well. I try my absolute best to have as few of those days as possible but I am only human, just like the kids. They can hear and understand that it isn’t that particular class’s fault that I have used up all of my patience and I hope they see that I struggle sometimes, just like they do. I want them to see that even when I struggle, I have to push through.

When I am working with training the boys, though, I can’t make them understand that I am frustrated or impatient and it probably isn’t all them. I know better than to try to work with them when they have broken into the kitchen and eaten half a package of sweet rolls or ripped another blanket to shreds and spread it all over the back yard. It’s the little bits of impatience that I can’t explain to them and have to remind myself that this isn’t the time to work on our homework. Our trainer regularly reminds the class that we have to be in the right frame of mind to be effective when working with our dogs.  I get so caught up in “I have to do this right now” that I sometimes cause us to go backwards.

Today was good though. I set a time to work with Percy and did something relaxing for about 15 minutes before. It took a minute for us to work together but instead of getting frustrated, I was able to laugh when Percy started his “heel” position in the wrong spot. Normally when that happens, I guide him in a teardrop shape to the right spot. I cocked my head to the side (a weird habit I have before I correct him) and just as I was about to correct him, he maneuvered himself in that same teardrop pattern with a little extra hop at the end so he actually jumped into place. I don’t know if I should fix that or not, but it made me laugh and remember that training can be fun when I let it. I’ll ask the trainer Saturday about his weirdness but the rest of the homework went beautifully. He still had his challenges but that’s okay. There were more successes than challenges so I am calling it a day.

Since I wasn’t annoyed or impatient, I added a little time to work on training Drake. It lets me see how far Percy has come because I have forgotten what to do in order to get Drake started. He doesn’t know those basics that Percy does. It doesn’t matter though. Drake always has a good attitude. I thought doggie grins weren’t a thing until I met Drake. I have never seen a dog look so happy. The only time he doesn’t look happy is when Haas gets tired of Drake’s nonsense and sits on him.

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Can we train now, mom? I am so happy! Are you happy?

Drake picks things up much faster than Percy does. Maybe he isn’t as hard headed as Percy. Maybe it’s Drake’s better attitude than both Percy and I have on most days that makes the difference. He can be my inspiration as I try to get half a million things done this week.

I would love to be able to bring my happy boy to see my teenagers in the fall and especially when attitudes all around get a bit rough in October and April. You can’t be unhappy when you look at that grin and I don’t know how anyone ever let Drake go. I am happy to have been lucky enough to snap him up.

Maybe I should learn to meditate.

Every job has benefits and drawbacks. April, for teachers, is one of those drawback times. The kids are done (mentally) and getting them through testing season requires super hero stamina. Add in the sudden realization that we have a large, year-long, project due and if kids don’t start turning in work they will get to spend not just 47 minutes each day with me but allllll day long for 2-4 weeks of summer school and people start to get irritable.

In my infinite wisdom/stupidity, I do the year-long project with my kids. This year, the project revolves around Percy. I have the rough draft of the paper done but I need to finish the project presentation. My original plan had been to have Percy all trained and ready to bring to school. That ain’t happenin’ so now I get to figure out how to make a video.

Percy has improved tremendously but he is still a wild man. He’s handsome, loving, and maybe 1/4 tamed. He also tends to be a bad influence on the other two. That happy face, according to online articles, should be lowering my blood pressure and making my stress vanish. I think the jury is still out on that one.  The study and article authors probably don’t have giant dogs who tore up a window screen, ate a crepe myrtle bush, uses a log for fetch, or left a paw print like this on a front door when someone knocked.

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Did you know you can bulk buy magic erasers?

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One of Haas’s favorite outside toys

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Haas knocked on the back door and we didn’t get there fast enough.

Actually… the list of current things that drive me nuts about my trio of terror was a bit hard to come up with. Yes, prying a paint pen out of the shark-pig’s mouth can cause a jolt of fear (poison!) and going after the suspicious item you caught from the corner of your eye disappearing into Haas’s mouth is disgusting, the sweet moments outweigh the infuriating. I tell myself that it’s like exercise to emotionally swing back and forth in this manner.

Last night, it was about 10 minutes until bed time and my boys put themselves to bed. I could handle starting bedtime early, so I began the nightly routine.

First to bed, Haas gets a scratch on the head every night and praise for going into his crate. He was sitting quietly in the back corner and when I reached in, somehow I fell over, landed on my right knee and skidded to the back wall. There may have been some loud and not quite polite words.

As Haas tilted his head in concern or confusion about why mom was taking up half of his room, I heard the other two bolt from their crates and try to crowd into the still open kennel door.

Fortunately for me, Drake’s wiggly rear kept both him and Percy from being able to enter what they must have thought was one of Haas’s famous house parties. I was stuck since I couldn’t back out of the crate with Percy and Drake in the way. I ordered them “out” and Haas gave a doggy shrug and tried to do what I said. This meant he would have to walk on me to do what he thought he had been told. (The other two seemed to think I was just joshing them.)

After much confusion about who was to “stay” and who was to “go,” my skinned knee and I finally got everyone to bed and situated only to find that Youngest Child (the band-aid addict) had left me with only teeny bandages or some cut-off-a-digit-sized gauze.

Here is where I got some perspective. These three are friendly boys and are only doing what comes naturally. They get tired and fussy with each other just like my students do with each other and their teachers at this time of year. None of us want to do what we are supposed to do, but at the literal end of the day, some of my last thoughts are about my boys, my children, and my kids. I couldn’t do what I do if I didn’t love them, terrible or not.  Here’s to the next six weeks of the blood pressure roller coaster.

Things I have learned from my dogs

I love lists. That is actually an understatement. I love them as much as my dogs. Lists rule my life. If there is a “listicle,” I will read it. It doesn’t matter if I know anything about the subject matter or not, I will probably read that list. If it can be put into a list, I am on it faster than Percy can gobble an unattended cake.

On any given day, I have four different lists on my work desk. They are short term lists, long term lists, things accomplished, and grocery lists that will never make it to the store. Some of my lists have sub-lists.

I like those “Things You Can Learn from a Dog” or “Everything I need to know, I learned in kindergarten” type lists. They are almost always happy and good for a laugh or smile. The things I learn are seldom that fun, though.  They often earn a sigh and occasional profanity.

Here’s what I have learned from my dogs (and demon cat). Your results may vary.

  1. Flower pots can be shattered and then double as chewing gum when mom won’t let you have the real thing. (No backyard container garden for me this year.)
  2. There’s always room for treats and eating slippers. (Apparently, the more expensive the slipper, the better it tastes.)
  3. Flossing is great, especially when you use an iPhone charging cord.
  4. Someone will fall for sad, puppy-dog eyes. You just have to find the person who wasn’t in the room when you got in trouble.
  5. The more you yowl and stir up the dogs, the faster someone will scoop out cat food.
  6. You are never too heavy, or have too bony of a butt, to be a lapdog.
  7. 100 pounds can sit on the back of my sofa without tipping it over. 120 pounds is too much.
  8. A closed dog mouth is a suspicious dog mouth.
  9. Anti-gas dog treats exist and are a nose-saver. I recommend them for daily use.
  10. (My personal favorite) Dogs will love you and still want to snuggle when you come home sick from work on a Monday and look like a zombie.