I’m still standing…

Some weeks are hard. Last week went beyond hard and bordered on laborious. No, that’s not the right word. It was laborious in terms of work and tasks but gut wrenching for the emotions as well. It’s fine. Days keep on passing and sometimes there is comfort in that. I find my biggest comfort in humor. That’s part of why I love my boys. They do weird stuff that makes me laugh.

As a worrier by nature, my job can be an amazing opportunity to feed that nature even while trying to fight it. Kids can have rough lives they can’t just leave at the door. I do all I can to help my kids be better than I am. If, in some minuscule way, I can help them learn how to form positive relationships, manage stress, believe in their inherent value, and see the possibilities, maybe they can avoid some of the challenges I face and they can make a difference in the world. (That sounds super self righteous but good intentions are in there somewhere)

So–how do the dogs fit in? This is supposed to be a dog blog and not just aimless ramblings by a strange old lady. How do three ginormous, blanket-eating fuzz faces fit in to this self-indulgent pity party? They are actually the good guys here. I may struggle to teach them to “down in motion” or “shake” or “potatoes aren’t toys”, but they teach me to love more and try to be less self-centered.

They don’t let me sit around feeling unloved for too long. There is always fetch to play, balls to catch, chins to scratch, and dog vomit to clean up. Tonight, Percy knows I need him. He can’t speak my preferred love language. He can’t perform acts of service for me or cook dinner. He can give dog kisses and snuggles. I know he wouldn’t have bonded with me if I hadn’t fed him and worked with him and shown him love first. He’s a payoff I may never get elsewhere, which is perfectly fine.

My kids, take-home and school, may not ever speak the same love languages I do. They are all different and have their own lives. I don’t even expect them to love me as I love them. At some point, they’ll all have to go off and leave me behind which is exactly as it should be. They all have such amazing potential to change what is wrong in our world and expand on what is right. I can’t fix the world. I can’t fix my kids, and I can’t fix myself. Someday, I’ll accept that. In the meantime, I am going to ice my sprained knee, think about the grading I should be doing, and scratch a dog or three.

Thank you for indulging me this evening. Wallow time is over now. It’s time to catalogue the trio’s tribulations for next week. I hope to talk to you next week and wish you lots of love and laughter.

All the feels

I am amazed at how much love can live inside my heart. It almost feels like rainbows and glitter are going to ooze out of my ears with ponies and baby seals singing in the background. It’s early enough in the year that my students are still angel babies and since we focused today on how valuable we are as individuals in addition to getting to celebrate my grandfather’s 81st birthday with him, I am almost grossing myself out with happiness and…well…love.  It makes me never want to end my sentences.

Even having to outwit the boys to give them monthly meds isn’t getting me down. Instead, it was almost funny to see who took his pill and who had to be fooled with a peanut butter and banana sandwich. The answer: Drake was a good boy about his pill, Percy came in second with only needing 1/4 of a sandwich, and Haas was tricky and needed a full half sandwich, in case anyone is keeping score.

I am giving much of the credit for my sappiness happiness goes to these boys. Dogs can be so good for our hearts and minds. Even if I am sometimes overcome with the amount of emotion I generate, it never seems as much as what our dogs feel toward us. How do they keep loving us even when we are grumpy or sad or too lazy to throw the ball one more time? How can I live up to what my dogs believe me to be? I really don’t think I can, but I will sure try.

So, today, on a Monday, I am setting a goal to be like my dogs when it comes to my kids, both take-home kids and student-kids. I am going to love them even when they are grumpy and stinky and overwhelmed with life. I am going to remember that they are valuable even when they aren’t feeling it and their actions make life tough. They won’t always remember, but like my boys think I am awesome no matter what, I will remember they are awesome — even if I have to reread today’s post to remind myself.  I know I can never live up to my dogs’ ability to love and accept but I am sure going to try.

Ugh, okay. I’m grossing myself out with this already so I’m going to cut this short and go snuggle a dog or three. If any of my students found this, I love you, kid, and you’re my favourite.  (So are you, other kid, just don’t tell the others)

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Teamwork makes the dream work.

Today I started my first full week back with kids and the neediness (oh the neediness!) is going to drive me bonkers. The students are great. I have a wonderful group of students this year. I even get Oldest Child in class. It’s the boys who are worse than static cling in January.

Since I am not at their bark and call all day, I can’t seem to leave the dogs’ sight when I am home. If it isn’t Percy gnawing on a blanket while staring mournfully at me, it’s Haas hugs and snuggles on the couch. Drake tries for cuddle time with Mom but Haas just sits on Drake who then must vacate if he wants to breathe.

Mom says she has to work so I can eat but I’m not stupid. Food comes in boxes right to our door. She’s just mean.

As soon as I walk in the door, it sounds like a bison stampede. They are so wound up, I fear for my furniture. Even with repeated “No!”s and “Off!”s at full teacher volume, there’s still a better than average chance to see a dog soar through the air after launching himself from the back of the sofa.

If it isn’t furniture, then it’s a broken record of “Don’t chew on your brother!” Percy is actually the good boy lately with Drake taking over as King of Obnoxiousness. Haas currently has Drake pinned with Drake’s head firmly between Haas’s jaws. I guess he is tired of Drake’s crazy like the rest of us. It took both Percy and Haas working together to get that monster subdued. On the bright side, I am proud of them working together.

It’s all about optimism, today. My students are going to continue being wonderful, the boys are going to calm down within the next six months, and Percy will finally test into his next training level. While we are at it, Drake will keep making sure Haas gets his exercise and Haas will stop breaking into the kitchen to scare the cat. It’s going to happen. It’s going to happen. If I repeat it enough, it’ll be true, right? Even if it doesn’t, I have an amazing team of co-workers who will keep me sane when either kids or canines go crazy. Let’s get this year started!

There are upsides to crazy canines. Give me a minute and I’ll come up with something…

My dogs and cat are terrible. They drive me bonkers and eat more than any five teenage boys. I am seriously considering leaving out snacks and a cold drink for the FedEx person since Chewy shipments happen frequently and are roughly the weight of an adolescent elephant.

But…I sure do love these dogs. Yes, it is annoying when they get possessive and all want to sit on me at once to get pets. I’m a good sized person but I am no match for 225 pounds of canine. At the same time, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my boys love me.

As a major introvert, quiet time after a long day of meetings or students is cherished more than chocolate. My boys don’t let me take it to extremes. It doesn’t even bother me anymore that I know I will have to pry at least three items out of dog mouths. So far today, we have confiscated a rock, a shred of blanket and an ink pen I haven’t seen in two years. Where do they find these things? It’s like a lazy way to have a treasure hunt! These giant goofballs expect a certain amount of attention and they are big enough to demand it.

The truth is, I need that affection, too. They make me laugh and gross me out constantly. It’s wonderful to scratch behind dog ears and feel the weight of a dog leaning against your hip. It is a little less great when you absent-mindedly reach over to pet Drake and his head is soaked in Haas slobber.  I believe I have mentioned that Drake’s head fits in Haas’s mouth. It spends an excessive amount of time there.

When Percy’s classes end, I will miss him sticking his head under my arm for our lengthy drive each week. He absolutely loves his car drives and, weirdly enough, his training collars. I know they probably just signal that it is one-on-one time for him so having someone always happy to spend time with me is awesome.

These boys are sweethearts and I am blessed to have them. The cat, though. Oh, the cat. She is another story. Currently, I am convinced Meri is plotting my demise. I used to be a cat person. Other cats are great, but Meri hates technology users. Since I use mine more than is healthy for work and hobbies, that means she bites my head. She also hates the dogs so there is safety when the boys want a snuggle. It works for me.

I hope your pets are as terrible and wonderful, just like mine.

10 Reasons I Love My Big Dogs

The husband has always loved and wanted big dogs.  I liked medium or small sized dogs. They don’t eat as much, they don’t have giant poops, and when they are obnoxious, you can just pick them up and move them out of the way.  I never wanted a big dog.  Now, I have three.  Since I love them terribly and wouldn’t give them up, I decided to focus on the positives of the big guys.

  1. There has been a drastic reduction in the number of politicians and salespeople who come to the door. I guess a giant head with teeth bigger than most people’s fingers staring at you from a window next to the door might make you hesitant to knock.
  2. I don’t have to lean down to pet the dogs.
  3. When I can no longer afford gas due to my feed bill, I can either saddle one of the dogs or have them hitched to a cart.
  4. If we lose power in the winter, I don’t need a space heater because they are as big as blankets and are happy to sleep right on top of us.
  5. Our furniture gets even wear because they weigh as much as some adult humans.

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    Haas sitting on the couch
  6. I don’t have to clean out from under the couch cushions because they regularly lift the cushions and check to make sure there is nothing tasty (like food, socks, or money) under there.
  7. We don’t have squirrels. I’m not sure that this is really a bonus but sometimes I think they plot my demise.
  8. Now that I think about it, we no longer have midnight cat fights in our yard. Oldest Child could now sleep at night if it wasn’t actually night time and Oldest Child is nocturnal…
  9. Vacuum factories are going to be able to be in business for a long time because asking even a “designed for pets” vac to handle the amount of dog hair I have is unreasonable and I totally understand that I will have to replace my vacuum often.
  10. Dog hugs when I am having a bad day. If I try to resist, the biggest brings in reinforcements and I get both dog hugs AND kisses from those three big babies.

Haas needs a pedicure.

Sometimes, in the middle of the day, I will have the smallest moment of panic. I worry if I gave Stump his pills. Stump isn’t with us anymore so it only takes a second to go away.

Today, I got a familiar, but not the same, text from my husband. Only this time, instead of Stump, the med check was for Haas. His medication is for something much more minor–an infected toe. I found the morning routine of loading up pill pockets to be strangely…comforting? soothing? normal, maybe. It isn’t our normal anymore, but it was for almost a year.

Mom says I take amoxicillin but I say it’s more like yum-oxicillin!

The new fuzzy face was much more enthusiastic about taking meds and ran off happily to play with his brothers. I still miss the old fuzzy face who would begrudgingly swallow a meal’s worth of pills to treat congestive heart failure and epilepsy before lying in the bathroom doorway to watch me get ready for work. I miss him but I am glad he doesn’t hurt anymore.

I am especially grateful that Haas only has a few more days and he will be back to being medication-free. I feel blessed that my boys are happy, healthy, and playful even if that means I will spend forever cleaning up after them. I’m not even too upset that they ate the vent covers for the space under our house.

Poor boy with a hurt toe and split toe nail.

Someday, they may need maintenance meds and help up off the floor but until then, I won’t borrow trouble and I will laugh at a 100 pound puppy bouncing around leaving slobber trails while trying to get Dad to play chase. I’ll even forgive him for pulling my nativity’s Mary out of a box and trying to eat her. (She’s fine)

My, what big teeth you have!

We love rescue dogs. Almost all of our dogs are or have been rescues and mutts are our favorites. Our first family dogs were a schnauzer/basset mix that we picked up at the local shelter. They were adorable little fluff balls who grew into rather homely (if not regularly groomed) dogs. They were awesome though. We loved their sweetness and personality.

Since we know where Percy comes from, we are pretty sure about his lineage. Percy is a Labrador Retriever and Chesapeake Bay Retriever mix. He has webbed toes.  It’s kinda cool. He is also a very handsome boy who is obsessed with playing in the rain. Percy adores all water that doesn’t come with dog shampoo.

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I am sitting nicely and I am all dry. Can I please go back out in the rain?

Drake is a little different. When we adopted him, he was listed as a lab mix. I could believe part of it. From his build and bark, I imagine that he is also part hound of some sort. The other parts (I know are not scientifically possible but I teach lit so I can suspend disbelief) I think some science fiction mad scientist or fantasy magician created. He appears to be part pig and part shark.

Evidence (that wouldn’t stand up in court):

  1. Drake constantly makes a snorting/snuffling noise like a small pig. He has no known sinus issues.
  2. Drake roots around in the ground and constantly has a line of dirt on his nose that make it resemble a pig snout.
  3. Drake eats everything, animal, vegetable, mineral, and fabric.
  4. Drake has incredibly sharp teeth and they often show.
  5. Drake shreds every (stuffed) animal he comes across, especially if it is losing innards.
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Drake smells something tasty!

I speculate that Haas is mixed with horse. I know his breeds are big (from appearance, we believe Irish Wolfhound and Bernese Mountain Dog), but he was as big or bigger than the miniature horses that lived next door to his foster family. He also likes to rear up on the hind legs and try to nuzzle our faces for affection.  His weird feature is extra toes. I have no idea where they come from.

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Teenager is smaller than Haas. Their attitudes are about the same size, though.

In reality, it wouldn’t matter if those mixtures were actually true and not just Monday-and-I-don’t-feel-well musings. I love my boys. They drive me nuts and make a huge mess. They are stubborn and take forever to train and feed. They also give the best snuggles and the happiest greetings, even when Mom comes home in a bad/sickly mood.

I am sure purebred dogs are just as wonderful and have amazing traits that my boys would never have. I think everyone who can and wants to have a dog should have that perfect fit. For us, that perfect fit is the horse dog, the webbed toed rain dancer, and the pig dog.  They are all terrible and amazing and I wouldn’t trade them for even a luck dragon.