Van Gogh.

There are a few theories about what happened to Vincent Van Gogh’s ear.  I’d like to add one to the list, maybe he had allergies and itched it off.

Sunday night, I noticed there were drops of blood, that led to more drops of blood, and wait, what is that on the blanket, oh right, more blood.  Your mission if you choose to accept it (and uh, yeah, you’re obviously going to want to figure this one out) is:  Where is the blood coming from?

I looked at both boys, neither showed telling signs that would suggest who was bleeding.  In fact, they both were snuggled and comfy.  I started with the little one, short hair, tiny body, I could rule him in or out quickly.  It wasn’t him.  I moved onto the big guy, I checked nails, paws, legs, stomach, nubbin, back, head and mouth.  Nothing.

I double checked that it wasn’t me.  I went to wash my hands.  When I came back, there was more blood.  It was next to Melvin — where hadn’t I checked?  I lifted one of his ears, and (insert gag and gasp) there it was.  He had scratched his ear up, and on the inside ear flap was a gash, that cut deep into him.

I went to my satellite vet office (the kitchen) and got gloves, antiseptic wipes and Animax (the one topical medication I would choose to take if I knew I would be stranded on an island with a dog).  I headed back up to the examination room (the bedroom) to find my patient (Melvin man) already asleep on the table (my bed).  I ascertained by his sleeping that this was not a 911 on the pain front, check. Melvin is the best patient, he has complete faith that whatever I am doing to him, no matter what the discomfort level he might feel, must be necessary.  I cleaned his ear, the gash looked much deeper but less gory once it was clean.  I applied Animax.  I sat and waited to be sure the medicine soaked in (yeah,that’s right, I’ve met you before Melvin. The moment I turn around you will have found a way to lick the medication off your own ear — or, you might even allow the little guy to do it for you).

We saw the vet on Monday night. He’ll have a scar but otherwise my wannabe Van Gogh will be fine.

We made it a family trip to the vet, mostly because I love torture and exhaustion…

Yes Jake, that is why I bought you the car crate, so you could stand up facing backwards while we are driving.10 29 13

“Where did they take my brother?”10 29 13a

I think they were hoping we’d go somewhere more exciting. 10 29 13c

Social hour at the emergency vet.

If there is one thing I’m certain of, animal emergencies almost always occur one minute before the vet closes OR over the weekend.  This weekend, our dog sitter V was across the street watching puppy Charlie.  Charlie ended up getting sick and needed to go to the vet.  The regular vet was closing and thought he should go to the emergency vet.  Off we went.

While in the emergency vet waiting room, I was reminded how much I love those who love animals.  I go to the human doctor a lot, and I can assure you that there is very little talking that occurs in the waiting room among patients. If I asked someone why they were there they’d prob tell me to eff off, stand up and move seats.  That is not the case at the vet, there is an immediate bond, in fact the bond is so strong that it forms before you even arrive.

We were in the waiting room for 20 minutes.

  • I spoke to the owner of a sweet-faced lab who had stopped eating.  She had rescued him.  She lives one mile from me.  There is a chance we’ll be on each others Christmas cards list moving forward.
  • There was a guy with a cat emergency.  Despite not loving cats, he needed a hug, so he got one.
  • The owners of a very sick bloodhound told me stories of previous bloat and the challenges of owning a giant breed dog. Despite countless emergencies, they wouldn’t have it any other way — this one was in fact their third of the breed!
  • We sat by as an elderly woman was told it might be time to think about what her 16-year-old cat’s future holds.  The woman was going to go home that weekend, with her cat, and decided.

We showed each other photos, we got each other through the time in the waiting room. We shared a language, of love.

Puppy Charlie spent the night at the ER and is back at home with his family.  We are hoping the other animals are too!


Welcome to one of my most favorite weeks!  This my friends is the week of (the weatherman best not be screwing with me) the first frost!  Yes, I love fall.  It’s good hair weather, it begins boot season, it’s visually lovely and cheeks take on a rosy glow.  But the first frost, that is the day we dance and sing!  Frost puts half of Melvin’s allergies into hibernation!  It’s a magical time, it happens LITERALLY overnight.

Thanks to medications, regular baths, baby-wipes and a strict diet, Melvin is now only twice as itchy as other dogs.  From the first frost to spring, HE IS ALMOST A NORMAL AMOUNT OF ITCHY (as long as we keep those things up and add a humidifier).  He even goes from being red, to only moderately pink.  Woohooo!

And this year, Jake is with us for the first frost.  Itchy dog #2 will get relief now also!  We shall dance extra and sing a little more loudly!  WOOT!

You can see that the boys share in my excitement!  10 21 13

Aversion to wetness.

Melvin hates the rain.  Jake doesn’t love the rain but he is easier to coerce outside, probably because he thinks squirrels and frogs and birds are still out there, despite the water falling. But Melvin, he does not even care if a giant-peanut-butter-covered-steak-dinner-with-fries is at the end of the driveway – homeboy don’t like getting wet.

This wetness issue has grown in scope lately, as Fall has arrived, the grass is chilly and damp each morning.  Thus, Melvin refuses to walk on it.  He will stand on the sidewalk, look at the grass, decide it looks wet, look back at me, then the grass, then me, repeat, repeat, repeat.  If I somehow manage to ‘nudge’ him into the grass, he freezes, unable to move.  He then tip toes back to the sidewalk, almost as if the grass is hot coals.  Once he’s to safety, the staring starts again.

The biggest issue of all is that: he has to ‘go’ and he knows he has to ‘go’.  Although he won’t go into the grass, he also won’t head back inside either.  So I do what any NORMAL dog person would do, I verbally plead with him.  I head into the damp, wet grass. I plead some more, often with treats.  And then, I have to play the one card I know he can’t ignore.  I lean down and I show Jake affection, just Jake, in public.  Boom, Melvin in grass, doing what he needs to do just to make the madness stop.

I’m genius. The end. Have a great weekend!

I only like grass if it’s dry…5 13 13b

Recent Instagrams

Olympic sleeping champions practice extensively…10 15 13e

He gave me the stink eye when I was taking my time leaving for work…10 15 13d

Jake and his chins were excited for Sunday’s game.  The excitement was short-lived…10 15 13c

My lap dog…10 15 13b

Their life is rough and they don’t care who knows it…10 15 13a

Jake still works at NYC Transit…10 15 13

You can follow us @tholupka_ohmelvin !  We’d love to follow you back!

Melvin in hiding.

Jake has gotten a lot of blog time lately.  He’s funny, he eats weird stuff and his bodily noises break ordinances.  Where Jake is the fun and loud, hot pink chair, Melvin is the subtle, stylish, timeless wallpaper.  He’s the background to all my days.  Yes, I enjoy decorating analogies.

Since Jake’s arrival, Melvin has gone from fairly indifferent to moderately tolerant.  In other words, I think he pretty much feels the same way about Jake today as he did when he met him almost a year ago. This is Melvin’s typical approach…

If Jake is on the carpet whipping a stuffie around, go to higher ground:10 14 13a10 14 13

If Jake is looking for you, hide:10 14 13b10 14 13c10 14 13d

If your mother finds you, plead with a sad face so that she doesn’t tell Jake where you are:10 14 13e10 14 13f10 14 13g

Stuffie love.

Since finding out that Jake likes stuffies, and since the bird and frog incidents (he ate two live baby frogs last week folks – I was going to post about it but sometimes you need to just let deviant behavior be) I went out and got him some new toys (namely birds and frogs). The good news is that Melvin is getting used to the squeaker noise.  The other good news is that Jake is full on smitten will all his stuffies and he spends a lot of time playing with them and dragging them from room to room and laying upon them.  This leaves him less time to pee on Melvin’s bed or to torment living creatures.

Jake introduces Rug to her sister-wife, Duck. 10 8 13

What? We’re having a sleepover.  10 8 13a

Frogs. 10 8 13b

Come this way, my Pretty. 10 8 13c

Now, this way my Pretty. 10 8 13e

Hang on a minute, you are not the lightest duck.

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Being a, stuffie killer lover is tiring. 10 8 13d

And the best one, I declared a time-out on stuffies.  Jake had other ideas. Classic Jake video:

Weirdness Wednesday: Jake’s odd.

Jake’s weird.  I love him (and all of his weirdness), but seriously, dude has issues.  He has taken his carpet ‘activity’ to a new high (or low), by now including a stuffie.  I’m almost embarrassed to post this, but not really since I had no issues with recording it…

At the 20 second and 1 minute mark this is NSFWIYAAD (not suitable for work if you are a dog).

Get well gifts.

After our adventures in nature, my friend J and her adorable boys got my boys some get well and happy birthday (Jake) gifts, including custom artwork!  These two human boys are very much like my two canine boys.  Alex, (the older/larger one) is sensitive and kind (just like Melvin) and Aiden, (the younger/smaller one) is a comedian in the making and is also well-trained in reporting to ‘time out’ (uh, hello Jake).  The gifts included the cutest stuffies for Melvin and Jake!  Here is the thing, Melvin is noise sensitive.  If I turn on the blow dryer, he has to leave the room.  If you want to see him nervous pee, start clicking a clicker.  The squeaky noise that usually comes in stuffies, he is not a fan.  Due to this, Jake has not had access to squeaker toys since coming into our family.  When I got home with the gifts, I put them both on the floor.  Melvin immediately left the room.  Jake declared both to be his and it was very clear, he is indeed a stuffies-kind-of-dog. I felt pretty bad that I had denied him this great joy, although my guilt subsided slightly when I looked over at poor Melvin.  Yet another thing for Jake to annoy his brother with.

Thank you Aiden and Alex — you two are AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Mailbox love.

I believe in writing letters and more importantly, sending Thank You notes. Yes, it is so much easier to text or email or snapchat.  But I love sitting down, and writing out my words of thanks or hello or yo, what’s up and then looking up someones address and knowing that they will feel the love I am sending them the moment they open up their mailbox.  Gratitude rocks!

The boys are no exception.  Kind things are done for them and we would never take any of those gestures for granted so they send notes of thanks regularly.  Of course to do so, they obviously needed their own stationery…

Not the best picture but you get the gist…10 3 13

Animal Planet – part dos.

As a continuation of our last post.  Here is the Jake story from last week.

It was just about 8:30pm, we went out back and the boys roamed around the back yard (bee’s sleep at night, just a FYI). As per usual, Jake had to be lasso’d in because he is constantly in hunt mode.  Let me explain our backyard to you.  There is grass and a few trees, surrounded by a high wood fence.  I am not very fast but I could run from one end to the other end in about 4 seconds.  Jake’s hunting is usually focused on what is beyond the fence.

I got him in and we went upstairs.  Jake was suddenly having breathing issues.  He would breath in normally, but his exhale, his every exhale, was a cough.  This was not reverse sneezing, something he happens to do very loudly and several times a week.  This was something-blocking-his-throat-type-cough, like he was trying to work it out.  I waited one hour.  He was breathing in fine, so I was not thinking he was lacking oxygen.  But with every cough I noticed there was a lot of ‘mouth and nasal juice’.  That is the technical term I used at the emergency vet when we arrived at 10pm.

Let me fast forward to the conclusion of this evening.  Jake had something in the back of his throat, almost tickling him to make him cough.  A few leaves came up, some grass and then some white matter.  It took a minute to figure out what the white matter was.


It was like a cartoon, he was coughing up feathers.  I got him home and the next morning went out to the back yard to conduct CSI JAKE where I found more, not digested, white feathers and other things that my eyes can unfortunately not take back.  The best I can figure is that a bird, a small bird based on the feather size, fell dead into our yard (bees, birds…does Amityville Horror ring a bell?!!).  Then Jake ate it.  I kept expecting him to poop out a bird foot, which for the record, never happened.

No Audubon Society memberships for Jake!  On the flip side I got to see Jake’s chest x-ray and a French Bulldog’s chest is pretty friggen remarkable on the inside! Boom, the x-ray negates the nasal juice!

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Animal Planet – part one.

This is a two-part story about the boys and our recent adventures with…nature. The first story is about Melvin, because home-boy needs some blog time!

Late last week we went on a morning walk, as we do every single day of the millennium.  And just as we do every day, we headed into the backyard because Jake can only do certain bodily functions within the privacy of a fence.  As Jake was going #2 behind a tree, Melvin was patrolling the patio for leaves to eat.  All of  a sudden, we were thrust into a horror flick…

A swarm (at this point I didn’t know what it was a swarm of) suddenly engulfed Melvin.  It came from nowhere and there were hundreds of these flying bugs all around him. He was so confused and unable to figure out that he needed to run so I did what any mamma bear would do, I dove into the swarm to pull him out.  I was wearing pants and a fleece zipped all the way up.  As I leaned in to grab his collar, I suddenly felt stinging and pain all over my face.  At that moment I realized that Melvin was not just caught up in the action of being swarmed, he was being stung, repeatedly.

I grabbed his collar and took off towards the house. By this time, my screams had alerted Jake and he was literally flying through the air towards us (how cute is he to try to come save us).  I grabbed Jake midair, partially by his collar and partially by the skin on his back and I somehow managed to get them both through the mudroom doorway.  Something in me thought to close the mudroom door to the house so that the swarm, if following us, couldn’t get past the mudroom.

Luckily the swarm about faced about ten feet from where it attacked.  Melvin was stung countless times, the welts were already forming.  I got the dogs inside, grabbed my cellphone and called our vet.  Melvin is allergic to everything, I needed to know what to do!  They instructed me to give him his normal antihistamine, his daily prednisone and then to start Benadryl, on the hour all day.  I was to watch for facial swelling around the eyes.  My poor baby was stung all over his trunk, even in his ears.  The Benadryl did the trick though, although he was itchy, it did help.  After I called the vet, I called pest control. Once all calls were made, I realized that my face felt on fire.  One look in the mirror made me vow to not use the mirror again that day.  I was stung on my cheeks, nose and chin.  Still, I was way better off than Melvin-man.

It turns out we had two culprits that morning, we don’t do nothing half-ass..  Deer flies and two yellow-jacket nests were found.  The pest control guy felt pretty certain that my facial stings were from yellow-jackets.  The backyard was off-limits all weekend which meant Jake had to #2 in public. Tough love baby, tough love.

I am thankful for the following, in no particular order: modern medicine, the telephone, the vet’s early morning hours, Benadryl, momma bear mentality, Jake’s extra back skin, pest control, an understanding workplace booze, the world-wide-web, Melvin’s ability to be happy in even the most painful of moments and oh right, more booze.

Here is Melvin’s take and photos of him konked out on Benadryl (and on me):

“Ouch, what the…”

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Jake and the wookie sleeping bag.

When I bought the furry sleeping bag for Jake, the salesperson said to let him figure it out. So that is what I did.  Or am doing.  We are still not there yet but eventually he is supposed to figure out that once inside, he’s got to turn around.  In the meantime, I’m getting way too much enjoyment watching this unfold… a few photos of his approach and then a video of him, doing something. Still not sure what.

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Melvin takes the blog back tomorrow!