Dogs in cars.

Now that oldest child is starting to drive, I get to pay more attention to the (canine) passengers of other cars instead of the drivers. I’m not much of a people watcher these days. I adore seeing dogs everywhere, even if it is just a head through, or hanging out of, a car window.

Years ago, when I lived in another town, I would regularly see an old truck with a man and a dog inside. I don’t remember the driver, except that he was a man and relatively tall. I remember the dog, though. This dog was huge. He often rode right next to the driver with one leg draped around the man’s neck, pointy ears brushing the headliner. The first time I saw him, I thought it was a human with a weird hat. Nope, it was a Great Dane. I saw them often. I suppose they just cruised around for fun. I see the value in that. I wouldn’t have been able to walk a dog whose legs were longer than mine.

Now I am in  my own situation with a dog whose legs are as long as mine. How must we look to other drivers and passers by? I’ve see the wide eyes of children when Haas managed to poke his giant head out of a window. Since Dad’s truck is having some challenges, I have had to transport Haas in my car. It’s a tight fit. Haas has figured out how to wiggle just right and get into the back seat. He can’t sit up straight like he can in the truck though. I discourage that as much as possible as the only thing I see in the rear view mirror is a fantastically fuzzy face, dripping with drool and taller than me. The general reaction when we hit a drive through is just “whoa.”

I hope some kid sees Haas or Percy when we are out and about for a spa day or going to class or having a special trip to the toy pet supply store. I hope they feel that sense of wonder and curiosity of how anyone could have a dog that is as long as the whole back seat. Maybe they wonder if I am growing my own Clifford. Maybe it is just a smile that kid can look back on when he or she is 40 and say “I don’t remember that crazy lady very well, but I remember her dogs taking up the whole rest of the car.” Maybe they’ll adopt their own giant dog and give those that are hard to adopt another look.

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!

Haas started school

After a few months off, we are back at the training thing with a different dog. Haas is a much more well-behaved boy than Percy was on his first day. Haas didn’t bark, imitate an over stimulated and under supervised toddler, or defecate in the middle of class. I count it as a win!

Geez, Mom. This is lame.

It amazes me how different they are when it comes to training. For Percy, my food-driven fiend, skipping breakfast and new treats were key. Haas wasn’t so interested in treats. Instead, I’ll have to transform into super cheerleader mom and play up the attention. I may also try popcorn since I don’t think chunks of concrete are our best choice of snacks. Haas might disagree but I bet his teeth are firmly on my side.

We have already had a decent start with learning “heel” positioning but once Haas hauls his fluffy self up, it’s hard to get him to stop when I do. He seems to think it silly to get up for just two steps. He would sigh and give me the same look I give him when he gets mud on the sofa –it’s a good thing I love you.

It almost felt anticlimactic to leave without special instruction or having to stop class to get an unruly canine under control. I know Haas will have his own challenges as we start our obedience journey. It’s almost like getting a new group of students. I am sure we’ll do fine. It’s just time to differentiate that instruction! These boys aren’t so different from my classes of teenagers. They’re wild, stinky, loving, and predictably unpredictable.

May your week be pawsitively wonderful!

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!

Who I Need to Be

I’ve written before about how helpful the boys are when I am struggling with anxiety and depression. I don’t write publicly about it often but tonight I felt the need. My boys mean more to me than I could ever express through written word. Part of that is because I don’t share the less happy stuff. People have enough to deal with in their own lives. Most people would rather read about the happy, silly, guess-what-my-weird-dog-did-this-time ramblings.

Tonight, I need the dogs. To be truthful to myself, I have needed them quite often lately. I even tried to sneak a visit with one of our counselor’s handsome therapy dog. Unfortunately for me, he was out of the office. As always, I will make it. Self-doubt, irrational fears, feelings of inadequacy, and various personal demons are always there and I have enough tools to get by. I am blessed in that I can function and the horrendous days are rare. The dogs help me be who I need to be.

It still amazes me, even after all these years of having dogs, how loving and helpful they can be. I’m sure they are responding to unconscious body language and aren’t actually reading my mind. They are sticking even closer than normal lately. Percy keeps an eye on me and it is rare for me to be seated and not have physical contact with at least one of these furry friends. I love them even more for that.

They don’t expect me to be happy and energetic. Sure, a good game of fetch and catch is a highlight but they also seem happy to kiss my face and just sit for a chin scratch. As I sit and write tonight, I have either Drake or Percy right in my face and have received multiple kisses. I won’t even fight to keep Haas in his own bed tonight because I know I will rest better with him there and feel better tomorrow. They are here. They accept me as I am. To me, this is beautiful. This is worth cleaning up another puked up sock or a destroyed set of blinds. It’s worth holding a 95 pound dog down to apply eye drops or find a new way to trick picky eaters to take a heart worm pill. It’s worth the terrible because I have the terrific when I need it.

I hope you get to experience this same selfless affection from a dog, cat, or hyper-aware goldfish. If you are struggling, I hope you feel better soon. I appreciate you and I know you are a pretty swell person, whether you know it or not.

This picture of Haas sulking after being forced to come in out of the snow makes me smile.

New Year, Same Old Us

I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions. I gave up my half-hearted attempts in about 5th grade when I failed, again, to keep my desk clean and organized. I’m good with goals, though. I dig the connotation that goes with “goals.” If I meet a goal, I get a reward or something.

This year I want to put my goals out there for a little accountability. It also provides an excuse to write another list, so, win! Add in the dogs and it is a double win!

  1. Have at least one dog pass the test to graduate group obedience classes. Drake and Haas are now the bad boy bunch with Percy causing minimal issues these days. I would love for Drake to stop hitting and for Haas to not eat my home from the foundation up. Obedience classes should be a great start.
  2. I am going to take each dog for a walk at least once per week. Hmmm. I think part of my brain may be trying to sneak in a fitness resolution. Fine. We’re not running and absolutely no burpees!
  3. Start my own YouTube channel with anti tutorials for quilting. It would be a “what not to do” so beginners feel better. On second thought, that might lead to profanity which is not a good example for my students. Maybe I will just settle for making dog beds for the demons.
  4. (I like odd numbers and wanted to stop at 3, but my most excellent mother hates them and I don’t want her to either throw things at me or to stop reading so…) I will untie my shoes before I take them off.

The dogs don’t seem to make any goals except to see how gassy they can be before we make them go outside. Do you have any goals for this bright and shiny new year? Let me know in the comments below! Like and subscribe today! (I’m practicing in case I ever start a weird YouTube channel but I would still love to read your goals or reasons not to have them)

Tis the season for stress and tests.

It’s testing time! Finals begin tomorrow for the human teens in my district. Only a few days are left before celebrations begin. Kids start sleeping again while teachers can breathe and have normal-ish blood pressure. Percy is “chill,” though. No more tests or class for him. While he didn’t graduate from group obedience classes, I’d say he has the skills to be successful in the family. He is currently relaxing with his blanket on the floor. We should all be so calm.

I love learning and try to find something new every day. Sometimes it is a line from a beloved book that I understand just a little more. Sometimes it is a new recipe. Sometimes it is something as simple as learning what new shows have been added to Netflix. Today I will do a little research on de-stressing.

Here’s what I know:

  1. Dog snuggles are a great way to calm down, provided those dogs are on the proper food and haven’t broken into the kitchen and then into the ranch dip. Regular readers can probably guess who the culprit was and I am ready-ing the air freshener.
  2. Few dogs are allowed in the school so I can’t use that for my kids who believe semester finals are the key to a successful life.
  3. Semester finals are important but not at the expense of your health.
  4. I can’t afford enough chocolate to feed all of my kids for the duration of finals.
  5. I really like lists.
  6. I am easily distracted and I was intending to write about stress relief techniques.
  7. One of my co-workers gave me candy today, but I left it at school.
  8. I have candy for tomorrow!

Was there a purpose to this post? Oh! Now, I remember (reading back through helps). I have learned today that I need more stress management techniques and definitely some to share with my darlings.

Meri, Meri, Quite Contrary…Quit tormenting me.

Meri is one of our original terrible two on four feet. I don’t write about her much because I prefer the dogs. Before Meri, I was a cat person, but it is only 90% her fault that I’m not crazy about her.

When the husband I were still newly together a hundred and a half years ago, we adopted a cat, Bosco. He was my baby and spoiled rotten until I became pregnant with the Mayor of Angstville (Oldest Child). Then, Bosco spurned my company and remained annoyed with me for about three and a half years. When Youngest Child showed up, all was forgiven as she was his baby so I wasn’t quite so awful. Those two were thick as thieves until Bosco’s stroke and subsequent passing.

Between the husband’s cat allergies and my grieving heart, I didn’t want another cat, at least for a while. When we went fishing at a trout park that following summer, we came home not with fish but a cat. This is the 10% that isn’t her fault. Meri didn’t choose her timing.

The kids fell in love with the pretty beggar who deigned accept their offerings of cheese and lunchmeat. Despite my objections, she came home with us and now bears the name of the trout park. Meri loved Dad and tolerated the kids. She and I clashed immediately. Meri hated when I was on any form of technology and demonstrated her displeasure by sneaking up and biting the back of my head. It happened more than once, to the delight of the other humans.

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I imagine Meri is contemplating my destruction in this photo.

It’s been a few years now and the hag and I have come to a bit of a truce. I let her out when the boys are free and she gives warning before trying to impersonate a zombie and eating my brain.

I have noticed that Meri’s relationship with the family is quite different from the boys and our previous feline. We all have full conversations with the cat and seldom are they happy. It’s not unusual to hear an argument from the other parts of the house. HOw a six-pound cat gets such volume is impressive. Most of them consist of something like this:

Human: You’ve already been fed twice today. NO. MORE.

Meri: No!

Human: Yes, you have!

Meri: NO, MROW!

Human: Too bad, Hag.

Meri: NO! (then sounds I am pretty sure are profanity)

Human: Do you want to go out? The boys are out back.

Meri: Merow, no, now, yowl

Cat heads out the front door and all is peaceful…until the boys come back in.

Meri is pretty, though, and has the softest fur I have ever petted. I admire her self-confidence. I don’t like her. She’s terrible, but she isn’t going anywhere.

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.

 

Why I do the things I do

This week I didn’t have a plan for what I wanted to write. It’s not that the boys didn’t do something strange or disgusting. They did. It’s not that we didn’t experience triumphs in training. We did. I didn’t have a plan or start gathering ideas. This is unusual for me. I like writing, sometimes. I love writing, most of the time. This week I was just going to take a pass. Few people would miss my weekly musings.

So, why am I writing so many words just to say “I’m not doing it and you can’t make me”? It’s not like I am getting a grade for this or making any money. I’m not. There is still some meandering before I get to the point. I figure my few-but-tremendously-appreciated readers have three choices. 1. Keep reading to follow the somewhat questionable path of my musings. 2. say “This chick is weirder than eating Reese’s pieces and mozzarella as a snack so I am leaving the table. Call me when you have a cute dog picture” and then bow out. 3. Skip to the last paragraph for the punchline/answer.  Do you, darlin. No judgement here. I love you whatever you choose.

I started writing this blog for a couple of reasons. Both are self-serving. I wanted to write as a way to maintain my mental health. I have to be better at taking care of myself if I want to help others. Writing helps me not overthink everything. The other reason was to minimize how many people had to hear yet another dog story but still get to talk about one of my favorite subjects.

I realized I was overdoing it when someone at school noted: “there’s always a dog story.” My excuse was that Percy was my Genius Hour/Passion Project I complete along with the kids so it was school related. People were getting tired of it. I didn’t want to annoy people or become tiresome, but I still wanted to share my delight in my dogs. Thus, I started this site. People could laugh at my boys, scoff at my frustrations, or just ignore it if they wanted to. It’s fine.

This brings me to tonight. If I didn’t want to write, why is this here? It’s Percy. He’s the reason. Tonight I sat on the couch not wanting to write, not wanting to play with the boys, not wanting to grade or vacuum or do laundry or the other million things on my list. Percy brought me a rope. Hard pass on catch tonight. He gave kisses. No. He knows me better than I do, though.

Big brown eyes keep staring at me and he keeps putting pressure on my legs and shoulders. I didn’t train him to do this and I am sure it is coincidental, but it helps me feel better when I am not quite feeling right. Every few minutes, he makes eye contact with me. It makes me feel loved.

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Just write, Mom. You know you want to.

This is why the boys are worth a muddy house right now and overworked dustpan and vacuum cleaner. They always make me feel loved. For those who can’t have pets for whatever reason, I’m sorry you miss this.

Percy (and Drake and Haas) made me write even if I didn’t want to. I wrote for me. I wrote to show how thankful I am for Percy, Drake and Haas. They let me be part of their pack. I still don’t like the cat. I bet yours is wonderful and I like cats in general. Mine happens to be just terrible. But that’s another post for another day…

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Drake and Haas “sharing” the couch. Haas now knows how Mom feels when he sleeps with her.