Da flu.

I am home with the flu. The real flu, the one where your body aches so bad but you are too exhausted to cry.  If any of you ever had the flu and I didn’t show enough empathy, I’m so sorry.

It’s horrible.

For now, enjoy photos of my nurses. They really step-up when ma’ma is down.

“Hey, if you could cut back on the coughing, that’d be great.  Trying to sleep under here.”IMG_0778 “Keep your germs away from my precious paws.”IMG_0774 “There is no way I’m coming up there with you.  You look like snot and sweat. That is not a compliment.” (PS. I was on the floor taking this photo because i was too tired to make it all the way to the bed). IMG_0772

Decorating with dogs.

It’s not always easy having dogs and a love of decorating (that borders on obsessive).  Dogs are cute, the stuff they need, not always as much.  I spend way too much a great deal of time trying to figure out how dog stuff can work for them and from a decorating perspective.

Here are some of our solutions…

Beds that are versatile enough for every room but nothing that screams HEY DOWN HERE, COULD I BE MORE UGLY. Above all things, beds and covers must be easy to wash.IMG_0758 IMG_0730 IMG_0727

Dog bowls that are minimal, metal (for raw feeding) and a rubber mat that allows for drippage.IMG_0728

Rugs that work double duty (pretty and comfortable). Hiding dog hair a HUGE bonus.IMG_0761 IMG_0773IMG_0748 IMG_0751 IMG_0750

Storage for dog items (I don’t leave my stuff lying around, why should they?).

This houses sweaters and collars:IMG_0733IMG_0734

Diapers and pads, check:IMG_0744IMG_0745

Snoods and doggy bags:IMG_0735 IMG_0738

Winter coats and training items:IMG_0739

Harnesses and leashes in garage for easier suiting up:IMG_0743

My goal, make so it some of the stuff, almost goes unnoticed.  What are some of your tricks??

Fashion.

Melvin is extremely barrel chested.  On the flip side, dudes got a short torso (compared to his head, neck and chest size). So clothes were never really an option for him as he is an XXL chest wise but more of L/XL lengthwise. I mean I tried, I tried real hard.  The only thing more difficult than getting a sweater or sweatshirt on him, is getting it off of him.  I once had to cut him out of a Redskins jersey. He is fine with minimal clothes, he is almost always hot anyways.  Aside from a winter coat and snoods, he is most content when nudie.

Jake is not much easier to fit, his chest and neck are Large, his body length is Sm/Med. I had to get his winter coat custom-made, otherwise he’d poop on the part that would inevitably hang over his butt. But Jake, he loves clothes. He would wear a snow-suit indoors, during the summer.  He likes to be covered by clothing, or blankets or beds.  He is almost always cold.  This year, clothes play a double role, they help to keep his diaper in place.  Win, win!  More reason to shop!

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I got schooled.

Way back when I first got Melvin, life was a bit overwhelming.  Max was on his last weeks and Melvin was…I’m not sure I know the words.  That dog was wild.  I got injured trying to walk him.  He would flip and flail and pull and refuse to walk.  I don’t think he’d ever even seen a leash, let alone been attached to one. Inside the house, he was like a wild caged animal, running from window to window (ramming the windows to try to get out), leaping onto and then off of the back of the couch.  Up the steps, down the steps, crashing into Max, furniture, doors.  My part-time job was fixing the area rugs that he was constantly moving across the floor.  When I’d put him in the back of the SUV behind a steel barrier, he’d break through the barrier, leap over rows of seats and try to sit in my lap, AS I WAS DRIVING. It was comical yes, but frustrating. One time, someone asked me if he was the real Marley.

I was in the process of looking for trainers but I was also desperate to have some alone time with Max.  Every time I’d try to remove Melvin from the room to have this time, he’d flail and freak-out.  Seriously, there was nothing tame about him.  None of my friends were eager to take him for a few hours.  I can’t say I blamed them.

Up to that point, I had no experience with doggie daycare.  There had never been a need so I wouldn’t say I was pro or con daycare.  Melvin and I were going on several walks a day but he was still so full of energy and I needed a few hours every couple of days that were just for Max.  So I took Melvin in to some local daycare places for a few assessments.  Each assessment came back the same. He was ‘harsh’, ‘played very rough’. should be with the more ‘aggressive dogs’.  That seemed like a bad plan.  I saw injury or lawsuit in our future so we left and never traveled that avenue.

By the time Max died, I had finally found a behaviorist for Melvin.  She and I had chatted many times on the phone about his issues and what I hoped to get out of time with her.   Aside from harnessing his cray, one of the main things I was concerned about was getting him more socialized with other dogs.  I felt he was ‘missing out’.  That his reaction to other dogs seemed… off.  (How adorable was I? Naive as could be but still so darn cute.).

There were tons of sessions and many, many learnings and growing and eye-opening moments.  But none so much as when the behaviorist told me point-blank that Melvin was indifferent, almost apathetic to the existence of other dogs. He was not fearful, he just didn’t care for his own kind. She said he didn’t pay attention to other dogs who were nearby (i.e. showed no excitement), in fact he preferred to ignore them.  But if they came too close, he let it known that he wanted them to go back from where they came. He preferred distance, space.  He showed zero interest in playing, or learning dog language or any of it.  I cried. I sobbed,  “his life was doomed for loneliness”.  “What had happened to him to make him such a loner?” More tears. “How could I ever fix this broken shell of dog?”  “Everyone needs friends!” And then the behaviorist put her hands on my shoulders and looked me in the eye and she said: that loneliness I was fearing, that (perceived normal) need to be with other dogs, those were things I created the need for.  I wanted them for him.  I felt they were crucial.  The thing was, Melvin didn’t need them.  He was not unhappy to be away from other dogs, just the opposite, he was at ease with that.  He didn’t want to play with them, he wanted to play with me.  He was likely NEVER going to change (thew in a ‘why should he?’) and she asked me if that was ok with me.  Was it ok that he was who he was?  Was it ok if he stayed this way, his way. Could I let go of my vision of how things were ‘supposed to be’ and instead give him what he needed to thrive.

I changed more in that moment than I have perhaps in any single moment in my life.  I arrived to that session with one Melvin, a dude I hadn’t gotten to know all that well (yet) and left with a Melvin that I felt such sudden bond to. He made sense now. He wasn’t broken, he was just Melvin.

I didn’t go home and only ever ask ‘what does Melvin want’, can you imagine?  He’d eat all day and the death toll of cats would be astronomical.  Instead I took the learning about recognizing who he was and what he needed and accepted him.  I started looking at his training from the standpoint of ‘how does he learn’.  How does Melvin operate? And that is how we got from a wildebeest to a king.  When other dogs came too close, I taught him to focus on me. When we were on the path and had zero choice but to pass by another dog I would verbally (and very proudly) announce that my dog does not enjoy the company of other dogs and then would put him in a sit and stare with me.  Suddenly, other dogs didn’t exist.  And Melvin was better off for it and he grew to trust me, and me him.

To this day, others find it ‘sad’ when they ask if Melvin and their dog might hit it off and I inform them that, Melvin doesn’t play.  He doesn’t chase other dogs, he has never once play bowed, he doesn’t give a crap about fetching balls, he hates squeaky toys. These playdate seekers claim ‘he’s missing out’. To that, I say calmly but with conviction, he’s fine. He has everything needs.

I was not certain we’d ever be a multi-dog household and I had fully accepted that.  It wasn’t until we met Jake and I saw that Melvin, in his years of training, had built up just enough tolerance to give to a 33-pound-googly-eyed-hot-mess Frenchie. Miracles I tell you, each and every one of them.

 

Hello Fall, I’ve missed you.

Fall has arrived!  The hot, humid temps are gone!  This means that the boys no longer have to do their summer dance.  The one where Melvin runs out and runs back inside as if he is running into and back out of a burning building. Or the one where Jake walks out and pees while still on the brick walkway and then walks five steps and collapses in a fit of drama and requires to be carried back inside.

The cool, crisp weather has settled in.  This means two totally different things for the boys. Melvin LOVES fall and winter and he is energized to go on walks, stay on walks and just generally be outside (as long as someone stays outside with him). He is exactly like me, I love this weather.  Jake, well not so much.  If summer is too hot, fall is now too cold. There is like one day all year when the temperature is officially changing over, the hour that it happens, Jake is comfortable.  Once fall officially arrives, he’s a character in Frozen.  That dog does dramatica really well.

It’s been fall for about 36 minutes:IMG_0631 IMG_0655

Two different muses.

I know the first several months with Melvin were hard.  I don’t really recall each and every specific about the difficulties but I do recall crying and being overwhelmed and there being looming uncertainty.  Most of that was health related (that part lasted years and even still continues) but those first few months, homeboy was no gem in the behavior area.  But we moved forward and he got easier and I’m sure he feels the same way about me. Now, I swear, he needs food, me and access to the outdoors for bathroom breaks.  He is so easy that sometimes I don’t spend as much time on him as I should.  I doubt he notices but it certainly haunts me a little. Just typing that part makes me laugh, I never thought Melvin would be the dog I considered ‘easy’. He and I have been to the vet together at least 500 times.

Anyway, I don’t write as much about him lately, I guess I figure you might get bored with me repeating the same old theme:  I. Love. HIm. It’s so basic and lovely.  Just like him.IMG_0576

Jake, is different.  Jake came with behavior issues too but the moment we came out of that rough patch, he started having spinal issues, wonky legs and needed fashion diapers. There has really been very little sense of moving forward with him.  He is in many ways, going backwards, and that will probably continue throughout his life.  I have no experience with this and the trial and error can be frustrating.  For example, Jake went through five beds last night (for three different issues).  Five.  I did laundry from 1am to 6am.  I had plenty of time to think as I was pleading for sleep to come rescue me and I finally realized something I’d been a bit clueless about:

Jake is Benjamin Button.

As Jake goes from adult to toddler, I have to move us forward in some capacity.  I think writing about our experiences helps with that.  Am I tired today? Yes, so tired.  Is this post about failure? No.  We made it through the night and I have a mediocre somewhat solid plan for nights to come. The beds are cleaned and ready for another night, even if it’s a night of battle.  But if you need us this evening, call before 7pm because we will be asleep by 7:01.  Warriors need their rest.

“I’ll be a baby again soon.” IMG_0597

Meannie.

I love the dogs. You know I love the dogs.  But if you spent time with us on any given day, you might think I was…mean.

You might hear me reminding Melvin that he can’t drink water after he eats.  You might see me taking his water bowl away, mid-gulp.  You would also probably see me do the same thing to Jake, pre-meal.  Withholding water?  Abusive. Yeah, that’s right,  I withhold water ten minutes before and ten after. Sue me. Thy eat a raw diet. They are liquid burpers.  You do the math.

What do you have against liquid burps?  I think they are tasty. IMG_0433

We go for walks and sometimes the boys don’t go #2.  But I know they need to go.  I find it odd that they need to go but they don’t.  So I take them out back and then I remind them that they have to poop by saying ‘go poop, poop, go, go poop’.  I say it fairly calmly, unless it’s raining (and then I yell it from inside) but still, it’s me, in the backyard, chanting poop to dogs. Crazy right?  I don’t stop there, I walk around the yard, following them, reminding them why we are STILL outside, I say things like:  ‘I know you would prefer to graze, but we’ve been outside for a long time and I have to work to afford you so I’m really going to need you both to GO POOP.’ Every once in a while, I throw in ‘for the love of God, poop.’ The thing is, I have 100% never been wrong about them needing to go.  It can be frustrating when they don’t share my knowledge of the situation. Sometimes,I give up and Jake comes in and poops in the doorway.  Then he looks at me like ‘what? you said to go poop.’

Seriously, I did what you said to do. IMG_0459

Lastly, I don’t let either dog lick themselves.  Sure, the occasional ‘lick the privates just because you can’ but for the most part, no licking.  Normal dogs lick and then move on.  Allergic dogs, they lick like there is no tomorrow, like there might be a buried treasure inside their paw.  If I let the boys lick, they would never stop.  They would not be dogs, they’d be two giant hot-spots with googly eyes and nubbin tails.  More than once I have gotten dirty looks at the vet when i calmly say ‘no licking, bud’.  Some people even gasp.

We can’t lick ourselves but we can still lick each other.  IMG_0493

Am I the only one? Do you guys do things that would seem crazy if not explained (and maybe still after explanation)?

It keeps getting better.

Both boys now have the poops.  It’s a bit of mystery as to why.  They both eat different food and I never change their treats.  My theory (which the vet does not discount) is that the current chipmunk-palooza going down in the backyard could have left some undesirable gunk on shells they hollowed out (shells the boys seek out like crack).  Since the boys share water bowls, they could have transmitted from one to the other.

Either way, double-dog-diarhea is a nonstop-thrill.

Step one: Gather up samples of said liquid poop for testing.  Relax, no photos.

Step two: Withhold food for 12 hours.  I am 100% certain they considered eating me.

Step three: Anti-poop meds and different probiotic than they normally get.

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Step four: Bland diet. The boys are fed (different) raw diets so we don’t want to introduce cooked chicken (and Melvin is allergic to chicken) so we are going with white rice and cottage cheese for four days.  Yes, four days.  And the instructions they give for feeding is based on the rice being uncooked even though you do cook the rice so I think I had a mini-breakdown trying to figure out the mixture post-cooking. (1 cup uncooked riced, then cooked mixed with 4 ounces of cottage cheese will serve a 25 lb dog for one day via 4-6 meals.  So I’m making it for 115 total combined weight then breaking it out for a 35 pounder and an 80 pounder. What? Rice math is hard.)  Seriously, who gives serving instruction based on uncooked rice? (FYI, 1 cup of uncooked rice = 3 cups of cooked rice, not that it makes the calculation all that much easier). IMG_0491 IMG_0492

I had already gone to the grocery store for this week (ahem, the Trader Joe’s saga) so this is literally all I purchased at Harris Teeter.  Three boxes of instant rice and four containers of cottage cheese. (Ok fine, and six bottles of wine but you save money when you buy six). I’m sure the checkout girl felt sad for my nutrition.

Here they are. Bonded in brotherhood and burning butts.

IMG_0470PS.  I won’t let Jake wear his Sirius diapers until the issue clears up.  I can’t have them tainted like that.

Crap.

I ran errands on Sunday.  Little did I know there was a mean-people convention in town and that the day would end up being lame.  I went to Trader Joe’s.  For those of you who know Trader Joe’s, you know that it is not only a place of organic goodness but also, and this part probably goes unspoken most of the time, nice/good people.  Friendly.  Helpful.  A shared sense of eating well. On Sunday, there was some sort of Freaky Friday going on cause jerks showed up and ruined the vibe.

I pulled into the poorly planned parking lot (not the parking lot’s fault) and saw someone packing up groceries.  I put my blinker on.  Then, I waited, and waited.  This person could not be moving more slowly if they tried, they even took a phone call.  No biggie, it’s Trader Joe’s.  They pulled out and I pulled in.  Next thing you know some crazy dude is banging on my window, screaming at me that I could have pulled around and taken another spot.  He insinuated that the delay in the people vacating my spot, was in some way my fault.  He was, screaming.  Flailing arms.  I told him to back the beep up but it actually took a random guy to come over and get in his face and say – ‘dude, we don’t yell at women, walk away’ – for him to go away.  I contemplated leaving, it felt that unsafe. (For the record, I am very outspoken. I speak up when others cannot.  But this dude, was batsh!t cray).

Instead, I went into Trader Joe’s.  Big mistake.  One it was jammed packed and for whatever reason, everyone was grumpy.  I was standing in produce looking a package of brussels sprouts over when I heard: “I hate people like you”. Wow. What harshness. I turned around to see what was happening only to find out the words were directed at me.  Some other angry-man apparently hates people who read labels or look for expiration dates because we hold up his precious life. He ranted on and on. The masses of label readers just stared at him.  I didn’t have to defend myself, his wife took over and I’m pretty sure he suffered major consequences for being so hurtful. Mean people suck.

So I got in the car and thought, just get home.  Home is delightful.  Home is kind, and lovely and the boys are waiting for you.

Melvin had explosive diarrhea while I was gone.  He apparently walked in circles while having these bursts and there was crap and crap-footprints everywhere.  I was a bit frozen, realizing the poop-clean-up-fairy was not coming and thinking ‘why me’ when Melvin walked by and I noticed that he had dried poop drippings on his butt area and that my dear friends made me laugh hysterically.

Find the humor, it’s all we can do!!   Wishing you a week free of mean-people and crap!

Why does my butt burn?IMG_0446

The blog is still called, Oh Melvin, right?

Hey, it’s Melvin.  Remember me? ‘Oh Melvin’ my ass.

A long time ago, this blog was all about me.  I had a tail back then and famous photographers took my picture and I was in a calendar that was available for purchase by the whole world.  The whole world people!

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Photo credit: Bev Hollis Photography

But then, I guess I lost it all. In addition to losing my poor tail (injury), I apparently lost my blog too. To this guy. I mean to be fair he is not responsible for the loss of my tail but if he’d been around then, I’m sure he would have played a role. IMG_3234

He steals my blog, my bed, my big rope toy.  Is nothing sacred anymore?IMG_9840 IMG_3245 IMG_0179 IMG_0276

This video, sums up my life.  Oh sorry Jake, let me move out of your way so you can wear my bed around on your head like a friggen maniac! My bad. What in the world was I thinking just trying to lay here on this small patch of rug.  Please yes, ram me in the head WITH MY OWN BED.