Lip smacking.

Melvin has allergies.  Plain and pretty simple.  He takes the perfect balance of medication to help with the allergies.  Expensive but worth it.  These medications are a life-long endeavor.  Some of them are newer to the market than others and  the decision ultimately arose whether to provide him an itch free life now, not knowing all the long-term effects, or to allow the itching to an extent and play it safer.  Having lived with Melvin during the horrible, itchy, bloody days, I know in my heart that the decision is for him to be as itch-free as possible in the here and now.  No one knows what will come. The goal is to focus on quality of life, not quantity of days.

One unfortunate side effect of those medications is that my boy has bouts of nausea.  When a dog is nauseous he smacks his lips together.  Over and over and over. Like a metronome.  You think there will be a break when they sleep, but there isn’t.  The lip smacking is continuous.  Yes, it’s a little like nails on blackboard but as annoying as it can get, it will never be worse than what they are feeling. 

I hope and pray that I always do right by him.  Decisions about his care are not always easy and many of them haunt me, but I stand firm in the conviction that every decision I make is backed by unconditional love. It’s pretty simple, I want him to know as much joy as possible.  I am fairly certain he has no recollection of life before me and his current exuberance level suggests that joy is winning. Check, check.

Remaining upright.

This week we realized Melvin was taking too much of one of his antibiotics.  Well to be clear, he was taking the right dose for his weight, but it was just too much for him personally.  He was sniffing and licking every surface on earth and was having trouble relaxing.  The definitive sign was when he was shaking his head to give his ears a good itch and he fell over. I called the vet, he went cold turkey for two days and he is now on a lower dosage.  Melvin is back in full-on-streched-out-on-couch relaxation mode, still a little extra sniffy and licky but he only has two more weeks on the treatment so I think we can tolerate some oddball behavior until then.

A few years ago I snapped a rather scary quick shot of him shaking his head.  Imagine this scene and then one second later, ttttttttt-iiiiiiiii-mmmmmmm-bbbbbbbb-eeeeeee-rrrrrrrr.

I’ll always catch you little buddy.

Fame.

A few years back I had Melvin photographed by Bev Hollis.  I had stalked her work for some time and was able to get a booking with her.  We spent a lovely fall October day at a farm in Purceville, VA and the beautiful outcome can be seen in some of the header photos of this blog, throughout my house and in the homes of many family members.  The photos are breathtaking and I treasure each and every one of them.  And soon, you can treasure one also.

Workman publishing (you might have heard of them) publishes themed page-a-day calendars.  The themes include things such as Purses (yes I have this one), Islands, Flowers, Art, etc.  One page per day (thus the clever name), with a photo.  Below is the Dog themed calendar example from 2012…

In the 2013 calendar, MELVIN WILL BE ONE OF THE PAGES!!!!!  I can’t even believe I was able to wait this far into the post to tell you!  The calendar chose 27 photos from Bev (she is so friggen talented!) and my boy was one of them!  We don’t know which photo was chosen or what day he’ll get (I pray it’s not Halloween since that is my least favorite of all the days) but we are so excited and have started saving up for our bulk order.  The calendar goes on sale in July!  Woot!

Congratulations to Bev on her talent and to Melvin on being so adorable!

Gratitude.

You might recall the post I did about the passing of my dear friend’s dog. It was tragic and sad.  There is absolutely never a good time to die.  For them, Sosa left this world just as his newest human sister was turning three weeks old. Exhaustion was the new way of life, especially since there was already a five and two-year old in the house.  The weekend he died, half the family had the stomach flu.  The weeks after his death were filled with sadness, flat tires, ear infections, reflux, Croup and Scarlet Fever.  Life in their home felt ‘cursed’.  They personified overwhelmed.  Of course if Sosa had died and none of these things had happened, it still would have been too much to bare.

I am friends with these lovely people, to the point of being family.    If something ever happened to me I know they would walk across the street, pack Melvin up and give him a good life.  A few weeks after Sosa’s death, I was given the most thoughtful thank you I have ever received.  A jar of reasons why we are close, the little things that add up to a big friendship.  That jar sat in front of me for several hours before I was able to open it and it now sits on the counter as a reminder to live a life that makes the people in my life thankful for having me there.

One of the lovely handwritten notes was about being there when Sosa died.  A sad day indeed.  Grief becomes a part of you but eventually (hopefully) it stops owning as many moments in your day.  In an upcoming post I will tell you how they are motoring through the grief, how they told ‘the curse’ to suck it and how they are honoring the Sosa love.

Medicine man.

Melvin already took enough pills to require a pill-box that has seven days a week and a slot for AM and PM.  Now his morning, evening, and for some of those pills midday regimen includes…

As mentioned the de-worming is more of a proactive measure, there have been no visible signs (thank the good Lord).  The effect that all these meds have on my boy is that he is TIRED.  Also, for some reason they make him lick everything.  The ottoman, the rug, the blanket, my leg, the brick steps, the grass, the sidewalk.  I think it’s a nausea issue.  All in all he’s doing great and has a very relaxing, pill-popping weekend to look forward to!

Eating and worry. And more eating.

Recently I posted about Melvin’s success with weight loss.  I got him in June of 2008 and he had reached his target weight by about December of 2009.  Up to about six months ago he had maintained his weight with the perfect balance of diet and exercise.  If we could all be so fortunate!

Over the past few months I’ve started noticing that I can see the outline of his ribs more and more.  With the tail amputation and his general allergic-to-earth issues, he is at the vet a lot so he is weighed pretty regularly.  Over the course of the past six months he has lost six pounds, steadily.  Since he was already at his ideal weight we took proactive measure and increased his food intake.   At his vet appointment last week, he’d lost another pound.  This weekend I noticed I could see his backbone/vertebrae.  Yes, it made me panic a little.  And cry.

But this is Melvin, he has issues and it could be a million different things. The vet has started him on his every-so-often treatment for Helicobacter bacteria/gastritis and we are also going to do a proactive de-worming treatment.  While there is no visible sign of worms, one theory is that something could be keeping him from absorbing all this extra food.  If these things don’t work, we will try something else (more extensive blood testing and endoscopy).

The good news is that the only thing Melvin adores as much as me, is food.  He is very happy to eat more.  Most importantly, if love cures all, he’ll be better in no time!

Where is my Valentine?

How did Valentine’s Day sneak up on me again? I spend way too much time staring out the window…

Also, I’m a bit worried that my need to bark and lung at every dog in the neighborhood is limiting my dating pool options and not, as I had thought, bringing sexy back.  Is this the case?  Be honest.

Will I ever find love? 

Oh but just you wait.  A new girl just moved in to the hood and she makes me wiggle and dance.  My mom and her mom are pretty tight and I think I have this one locked up!  I shall not bark at her, I shall not bark at her, I SHALL NOT BARK AT HER.  

But first I shall nap.

Decorating.

I love decorating.  As a teen I would rearrange my bedroom at least once a month.  I pretty much still do that in one room or another.  Buying the new house has given me ample opportunity to shop like the crazy person that I am try out new decorating styles and configurations.  Since I have gotten quite a few requests to post some photos, I’ll take a break from this Melvin focused blog to show you some of the rooms that are ‘getting there’.  I guess it’s still a Melvin post since one way or another, he pretty much claims each of these spaces as his own.

The dining room.  I’m still working on accessory configuration and likely need to buy a few more pieces (there is always something to shop for!).  Also, the chairs look striped but that is just some fancy thing the cleaning lady does with the vacuum.  I have yet to figure out why she does that.

The crazy powder room.  I took some serious liberties here with the wallpaper.  I still want to switch out the child size builder sink but for the most part I love how dizzying this bathroom is. (I was kind enough to paint the toilet facing wall black.  The last thing I wanted was for anyone to pass out while sitting there).

And the great room.  Oddly enough the great room eating area seats more than the dining room.  I guess as long as no one goes hungry, it’s all good.  Also, it’s hard to see but the fireplace is double-sided.  You can also sit on the patio and enjoy the heat.  I like to think of it as my money burning in that fireplace because let’s be honest, when you are attempting to heat the outdoors, that’s pretty much what it is.

Flu.

I have been in bed with the flu for the past 48 hours.  Literally, in bed/on couch, unable to move.  At one point I had my hands crossed over my chest and figured I’d leave them there to make it easier for whoever found me.  While I was able to let Melvin out here and there, I had to get help for his walks.  He deserved much more than to be held up in the plague ward house with me. In between visits with guest walkers, he did find time to snuggle and give me a few, ‘are you going to make it?’ looks.

Weight watchers.

Ask any vet the #1 way to help a dog live longer and they will say to help them reach and maintain their ideal weight. In addition to every skin ailment known to modern medicine, Melvin came to me with a few pounds to lose and the vet was very clear that his life would be shortened by years if he didn’t lose some of it.

This is him on the very first day he joined our family, chunky and yeasty (look at how maroon his paws and legs are!)…

And this is him over the holidays, 15 pounds lighter and as healthy a coat as he will personally ever have!

Seating options.

Instead of laying on the super soft blanket and wide open space of the chaise part of the couch…

Melvin seems to prefer laying on top of the not-so-plush, much-smaller-than-him and quite-firm decorative pillow part of the couch (once he’s laid it flat because who in their right mind would put a decorative pillow upright?)…

Understanding.

Over the past couple of weeks Melvin has had some stomach issues and has needed to go out in the middle of night.  One, two, three o’clock in the morning, it’s all the same after midnight on a work night.  It would be easy to get annoyed but these things happen to all living creatures and I’m just happy he let’s me know he has to go out as opposed to using the bedroom carpet instead. 

This is not the first or the 40th time that understanding has been called upon. 

  • The very first night I had Melvin I found him curled up on my bed chewing on a pink bic razor he had found in my shower.  Luckily he started at the non-dangerous end. 
  • Shortly after the realization that in his previous life he had been abused by hangers, I found out that he would destroy any hanger I happened to lay on the bed while getting dressed. He did not care that his gums would bleed in the process.
  • He chews my hair rubber bands like gum and despite gagging on them over and over will not stop until I forcefully remove them from his mouth.  He has been known to put his ginormous head in my bag to find one.
  • He has thrown up (water) on my bare feet. 
  • He ate an entire cheese platter five minutes before guest arrived for a NYE party.  He was still having gastric upset because of it at Valentines Day.
  • I make my bed every day.  He un-makes my bed every day.

 The most recent opportunity for acceptance came last night.  We got a new couch this week.  Knowing he would opt to lay on the chaise part of the couch, I took proactive drool protection measures and put a blanket over that part of the sofa.  When I came home, I noticed a small section of the blanket had been pulled back.  Melvin, as part of the digestive upset, was nauseous and instead of throwing-up on the blanket as I would have prefered, he instead moved the blanket so as not to throw-up on it at all.  The throw-up fell into the crack of the sofa and dripped down the side.  My only reaction was to start laughing hysterically.  It’s official, he has taught me how to love unconditionally.   And for that I am a better person.