Melvin’s doing great! We go back Monday and I’m guessing we come home without a bandage (but definitely still with staples). Unfortunately, one thing the vet cautioned against was Nubbin getting wet. While others were stocking up on water and batteries, I was raiding the plastic wrap/baggies aisle. They had leftover holiday Press’n Seal on sale. Sorry Melvin.

Nubbin 0; Irene 1.

“Don’t step on the nubbin”.

I could never have guessed that would be the most popular phrase spoken in this house. Melvin is resting comfortably. Last night was pretty rough, he was in a lot of pain and he cried and moaned (which made me cry and moan). He found it impossible to get comfortable. The only way he’d lay still was if I talked. Suffice it to say, we are both exhausted today.

This morning he got a bandage change and the vet said he’s doing good, we go back on Saturday. Until then it’s lots of love combined with pain meds, antibiotics and skin cream (because of course poor Melvin had a reaction to the tape they used on his IV). I’m praying the bandage stays on, I love him but I’d rather see his nubbin a week from now. Especially since if the bandage falls off, I have to redo it.

Some photos of drunk-high-confused-drooling Melvin…

The Tell Tale Tail.

Melvin lost his tail today. He is still at the vet in recovery but they said he did great. He will bounce, as he always does, right into his next joyful moment!

I love his crazy tail (I love everything about him) but what I really love is that ‘thump’. While at the vet the other day they took him to clip his nails while I stayed in the examination room. Suddenly, I heard the thumping. thump, Thump, THump, THUmp, THUMp THUMP, THUMP, THUMP. Melvin was clearly in the room next to me and his tail was in full motion and whacking the wall between us. It was hysterical! Just this morning, as I was making subtle morning movements while waking-up, Melvin thumped for me. I’ll miss that melodious tail song but Melvin will find a new, equally wonderful, way to express his happiness. He has way too much for it to ever be contained!

Thank you too all our fans for your well-wishes during the tail-debacle! We’ll keep you posted.

Cast away.

The vet thinks it’s time to take the cast off. Based on what Melvin’s tail looks like, my non-medical degreed opinion agrees. That thing needs some air. It has very little fur left on it and it looks a little (ok a lot) like a shriveled up hot dog (sorry buddy but momma speaks the truth).

Melvin is Melvin, his tail thumped and whacked the whole time I was cutting the cast off (yes, I’m his vet tech for this procedure). We’ll see how it goes, I’m hoping for the best. If he busts it open again, we are going to have to part with it.

Fingers crossed!


We lived in a townhouse in Reston. Since no one owned their yard, I didn’t worry too much about where Melvin did his business. We did most of our walks around a large public park so the geography of his bathroom breaks were never a concern. In the new neighborhood all the dog owners bonded immediately over a single question: Where are we supposed to let the dogs ‘go’? Obviously we all pick-up, every time. The issue is that urine kills lawns. Neighbors do not want dogs contributing to the death of the sod they are so desperately trying to water and keep alive. I found myself sneaking out for walks in the darkness, pulling on Melvin so that he’d walk a full block to the vacant lot before he did anything. I knew I needed a new strategy when the poor thing took to peeing on the sidewalk when the empty field destination was just too far away.

Solution: I only let Melvin go in our yard and once he’s done I open up the water bottle that now joins us for all our walks and I neutralize the spot. So far, no brown spots. Yes, there were a few looks of ‘what the hell is she doing’ but now those looks are much more of the ‘wow, she is pure genius’ variety.

Harry Barker.

As mentioned several times before, Melvin is allergic to just about everything. After finding the one food his body could process without giving him extreme itching, I set out to find a treat. Melvin, like most labs, is food motivated. I don’t think there is anything he wouldn’t do for the promise of food. I couldn’t bear the thought of him only having kibble for meals and treats, and worried that he’d tire of it eventually…and then what?

The treat experiment was both brutal and expensive. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that we went through 100 different brands/types of treats in our endeavors. The one blessing was that the trials themselves were quick. Since he was already tolerating his food well, introducing only one treat at a time made it very easy to identify what was causing the almost immediate redness and itching. It took maybe two days for the reaction to surface and then a week for poor Melvin to get over the physical effects. As per usual, it was easy to feel like I was torturing him.I tried every treat that said: wheat, soy and corn free. Every treat that said: Hypoallergenic. I then passed each onto the neighborhood dogs who were blessed to tolerate them all.

Enter the wonderful Harry Barker into our lives. They have a Hypoallergenic treat that is pure perfection, it’s as if it was made for sweet Melvin. I order it in bulk and Melvin is reaction free! Harry Barker has the most wonderful dog and cat items, they are environmentally conscious and they pack a surprise gift in each shipment. I phone most orders in, while the website is super easy to navigate, I order in bulk so I always call to see what we can do about lessening the packaging. They know Melvin by name and remember our unique situation each time we call. It’s like chatting with an old friend.

Harry Barker, we love you!!!

I’m not your nurse.

I suffer from migraines and there are days when I skip work (Melvin loves this part) and retreat to the darkness of the bedroom for time under the covers (Melvin still in love with the concept). Inevitably, I get sick. My previous lab Max would sit by my side the entire time. When I’d opt to lay on the cool bathroom floor, he’d drape himself over my legs to comfort me. He was in it for the long haul. Melvin’s love is far more conditional. I’ll run into the bathroom (Melvin thinks ‘oh fun, chase’) and kneel on the ground (‘I love my mom, she is coming down to see me’) and then…This is the exact moment Melvin cannot get away from me fast enough, you’d think someone was chasing him with a water gun the way he runs downstairs, only hitting every third step in his swift getaway. When I call his name, he wants nothing to do with me. He’s done. Well he’s done until the hunger pains kick in and then he fakes it.

This is where I found him after my last migraine. Clearly he felt his day was harder than mine.

And here’s another of him trying to make the best of the bucket seat.

Enjoy the silence.

Most dogs tend to be skittish about storms. I feel the same way. Melvin has always slept soundly through thunder and whipping winds, even a minor earthquake. My panic does not seem to cause him the least bit of concern. Last night, during our first ever together power outage I found out that silence is what terrifies him.

The power went out (and immediate darkness set in) about 9:15pm and coincided with a loud boom. Melvin didn’t move a muscle. He didn’t even really budge when I ran into furniture piece after furniture piece cursing in my quest to find a flashlight. It was about ten-minutes into the outage when I noticed him flinching at the slightest noise. He started looking back and forth in a ‘what’s that? did you hear that?’ fashion. Normally, when the house is making its usual noises (fridge hum, AC, TV etc.) he can drown out the less important noises (crickets, floor creaks, planes) and focus on the noises that need his full attention (dump trucks that have the nerve to drive by our house or the doorbell). During his first blackout, every noise became overwhelming and left him looking terrified, unable to move and breathing heavily. About one hour into the silence he had a minor panic attack, complete with hyperventilating. I tried putting on music but it had no effect.

Thank God for phone apps. I ran a ‘white noise’ app for him and within minutes it calmed him. He sighed, laid down and went to sleep. And at 2:30am when the power came back on and all the hums kicked back in (and I leapt out of bed startled), Melvin just continued snoring. All was right with his world.

Mother Goose.

Three mornings now Melvin and I have come across a very large gaggle of geese. It plays out the same way each time.

I see geese first and consider turning around.
Melvin see’s geese before I can decide and pulls with great force in direction of them.
The geese see Melvin and take flight.
Melvin, who has forgotten (since the day before) that they can fly, becomes so startled that he hits the deck and becomes paralyzed with fear.

Today the geese were in the woods behind us and Melvin was able to stalk them from the safety of the house. As a truck drove by the birds took flight and Melvin once again, ducked. He is oblivious to his breed’s hunting lineage.