Doug and other dogs.

I have not fully accepted that I have a dog that loves other dogs. No wait, I’ve accepted it, I just tend to forget. After years of having a leash-reactive-didn’t-enjoy-the-company-of-other-dogs-never-once-play-bowed dog (Melvin), and a hunter of ALL animals that were not Melvin (Jake), I still tend to go into oh no mode when we run into, are approached by or even set up playdates or meet & greets.

It’s been A LONG time, since I have had a dog that pulls towards other dogs in a good way.  In fact, I know the date, It was September 19, 2008. The day Max died. That is how long it has been.

Doug loves other dogs. Loves. He cannot get enough of them, even when they perhaps have had enough of him.

Sitting is boring. IMG_3615

I try to take Doug with me on the weekends whenever I can. 1. to dog friendly places so that he can mingle with creatures of his own kind and 2. to continue our training of don’t chew on human feet.  On the latter, we always ask for willing participants, we don’t just dive in!

We have met some great dogs on our travels, Doug has loved them all. We have met some dogs that were, despite their owners saying otherwise, not so well-behaved. Doug loved them all. We have had some dogs lunge and snarl and even attack Doug. You guessed it, after a brief WTF moment, Doug just starts to wiggle and wants to try again with them. He’s like a perpetually drunk, super fun, frat guy that you just can’t be mad at because he’s so flipping cray and now he’s leaping off the roof into the pool.

Laying down is boring. IMG_3595

Here is where Doug and I differ the most. He is an extrovert. I am not. Well, all the tests will tell you I’m 50/50 introvert/extrovert but Doug is 15,000,000% extrovert. Trust me, we don’t pull energy from the same social situations.

On our search for the next dog, we have a few things working for and against us.

Working for us:

  • Doug.
  • Doug.
  • Doug.
  • My willingness to meet and greet with any and all dogs.
  • Time. We are in no rush.

Working against us:

  • Doug’s unrelenting energy. He tends to bring out the worst in some dogs who otherwise would not play as hard as him as they are suddenly thrown into the ring of Doug doesn’t stop. Even when they beg for mercy, Doug still wants to play. We are still searching for the dog that will play, but then will stop and will communicate to Doug to leave them be and stop pouncing on me in a NO SERIOUSLY, STOP way.
  • My not wanting two Dougs. One is plenty.
  • Me realizing that the next dynamic duo in this house, won’t be Melvin and Jake. This one took a while for me to figure out. With each dog we meet, I am faced with knowing that the next two, no matter how much I want it or need it, won’t be like my little soulful, odd couple were. I accept this, the next duo should be who they are, wholeheartedly. But I’m human and I miss Melvin and Jake as a pair and well…it takes time.
  • Doug’s unrelenting energy, take two.

I like that we are meeting a lot of dogs and that Doug is getting to know his tribe.  When I brought Melvin home to Max, I didn’t have to really think about their lifetime together, Max’s time was short. When I brought Jake home to Melvin, I was brining Jake home to the dog that would love any dog that I did and a dog that would have the patience to tolerate Jake as he worked out all his demons. The dog we add now, well chances are good that Doug and that dog will have more than just a few years together. Chances are good they will have some growing pains as siblings and chances are, they will break some shit in their wake. I know this because no matter what dog I add, Doug will be a part of the duo. Doug brings the joy and the funk and some well deserved destruction to this life.

Starring out the window, looking for his next sibling…IMG_3565

 

 

Where did we go?

This past week has been buuuuussssssyyyyyyy! Here a quick recap to explain our absence:

  • I was still in vacation mode.
  • We got house guests, two-legged and four. The four legger did not love Doug.  I’m not even sure she moderately liked Doug.  So it was gating and rotating.
  • I got a three-day migraine. Fun!
  • I fractured my hand. Doug was not responsible. My clumsiness reigns supreme.
  • My new work schedule started.  I now go into the office three days a week.

That last one has been the biggest change for me and for Doug. Not so much for me that there is a change to where I work during the day, but for me in that I worry how it will impact Doug.

What is worrying?IMG_3552

Doug has energy. We know this. When I’m in the home office, he keeps himself busy on various floors and rooms of the house. He plays with toys, he runs zoomies, he chews pillows (I can hear you, Doug!). He goes out back and runs more zoomies. But unfortunately, when I leave, Doug has not earned run of the house yet. He is still gated in the mudroom.

  • I leave.
  • He eats his Kong.
  • He repositions on his indestructible bed that had I to buy because he is, well, a destructor.
  • After an hour or so he wakes up and wants to chew. He avoids the toys and chews I leave him and instead chews the bed (fixed that), the rug, the legs to the indestructible bed.
  • Nap.
  • Repeat chewing.
  • Nap.
  • You get it.

So I set him up to have a half hour walk mid-morning and another mid-afternoon. I leave new Kongs for those visits. I check in on him to be sure he is behaving. IMG_3544

I have tried leaving him on the first floor in the house. I take all the pillows up. He ignores his toys and goes right for the couch cushions. Or the shag rug. Or the acrylic dining chairs. Napping in between each one. Why, Doug, why?

I would never eat these pillows, they feel way too comfy on my parts. IMG_3540

So this is what I have been doing for the last week, worrying and strategizing on how to make this work transition, easier for my boy. I’ve also been missing Jakey this week.  Oh grief, this week, you win.

We will be back to our regular blogging schedule next week! We have some meet and greets to tell you about.

Happy weekend!

 

Homecoming.

I’m back! Aside from having to leave Doug unexpectedly in November when I had an emergency hospital stay, or here and there for a quick overnight (both of which he barely noticed I was gone), this was the first time I have left Doug for an extended time.

He did great! I’m honestly not sure he missed me all that much and that is exactly how it should be. I had a glorious week in the Bahamas and he had an awesome week with his Denise.

Some photos from paradise…IMG_3427IMG_3419IMG_3300

I will say, when I came in the door from being gone, Doug’s whole body was wiggling with joy. Everyone should get to experience someone wiggling with delight for them like that!

I also go to experience Doug’s first snow with him!  He loves the snow until he doesn’t love the snow, that usually takes about 4 minutes.  Dude takes after his brothers, none of them likes to be wet!

His first snow paw print…IMG_3458

And his exhaustion post snow romping…IMG_3463IMG_3477

I’m off the rest of this week in preparation for my new work schedule.  I’ll be going into the office more, which is going to be a big change for me and for Doug. I have him set up to have two walks on the days I go in, so all in all I think he’ll be ok.

Today we are getting some house guests and those visitors include a dog!  I’m excited to see how Doug does with another dog in the house.  I got extra bowls out and he didn’t even notice. When I got one of his old crates out, he promptly hopped in it and took a nap.

I love that he is so easy-going. I hope life never disrupts that.

So, I’m back! Doug did great! We are excited to spend some time with house guests (two and four-legged) and next week, we will embark on the next chapter work-wise.

Hope you all are enjoying your week!

xoxo, Tracey & Doug

 

Paradise.

My family takes an annual trip to the Bahamas during March. It’s one of those vacations where relaxation is required by law. Drinks are delivered, to pool, beach, cabana, wherever you are and it is the only place on earth where I am known to nap.

The last two years of this trip, I was dealing with Melvin, and then Jake, dying. I almost didn’t go on the trip with Melvin because his prognosis was so grave. I ended up going because 1. I was leaving him in the best care (seriously, I had about 40 people/vets checking on him hourly, he was too busy to die) 2. The oncologist said the odds of him dying in those few days were extremely unlikely and 3. I cut my part of the trip to 3 days. I went because, if Melvin could be dying suddenly, it was a reminder how short our time on earth can be. I went because the people I take this trip with are equally important to me and you never know when it could be the last trip we all take together.

Wow, that paragraph was depressing.

Leaving Jake last year was difficult, but his prognosis was WAY different. I knew we had time.

Suffice it to say, the last two years in the Bahamas, there was a lot of crying on my part. This year, I will be leaving a healthy Doug.  That has not stopped me from saying to him several times leading up to this trip, If you die, I’ll kill you.

The notes I left when it was just Melvin were long, partly because I’m crazy, but also because I had to outline a ton of ‘what ifs’. What to do if he ate something he shouldn’t have and had a reaction. What to do if his colitis flared up.  What to do if his tick disease flared up.  Etc. Etc. Etc. The notes for Jake were long, partly because crazy doesn’t just go away, and mostly because he had A LOT OF INSTRUCTIONS! Peeing, meatballs, diapers, mobility, ramps, wheelchair, stroller, rashes, MRSP, googly eye drops. The list goes on.

In sitting down to write Doug’s first note, it was fairly short. I looked at it and thought, I must be missing something. The majority of the note is how to get Doug to settle and snuggle, not really instructions for his care. For the first time, I have a dog that wakes up, is a fairly basic dog during the day, goes to bed, repeat. Since the note wasn’t long enough, I padded it with a little extra crazy, just for good measure.

Our dog walker, Denise, is staying here with Doug. She gets Doug. She is so patient with him that sometimes I have to tell her to be a bit more stern with him, like when he is hanging from her scarf with his mouth. I have complete faith that all will be great here, and in the Bahamas, and I’m looking forward to a tear-free getaway.

This year, Melvin and Jake will be with me. They are the beauty I see all around me. They are in every sunset and every sunrise.

Have a great week!

One of my favorite pre-Bahamas-trip memories – when Jakey was mobile and climbed into my suitcase. 6 30a6 30d6 30c

March 1st.

March 1, 2015. That is the day I would give if someone granted me the ability to go back. It’s one day before Melvin’s 10th birthday and two days before we found out he was dying. Its today…two years ago.

That March 1st is the last normal day I had with my perfect little family. It’s the last day that felt right, complete. That I even have a day to go back to where I feel life was such perfection, makes me blessed beyond measure.

IMG_3608

In addition to Melvin being there, Jake would be there too. My odd couple, in all their glory. I could live March 1, 2015 on loop, indefinitely.

That said, I have started realizing that March 1, 2015 will not always be the day. In fact, with each new day I remember, joy is where you look for it. I am still in a bitt of a messy grief stage since Jake has not been gone that long. A phase where escaping loss and missing Melvin and Jake, sometimes trumps the joy that is currently unfolding. But each new day, I become less torn, more here-and-now.

I have loved Doug since the moment I saw him on Facebook. I didn’t have my full self to give to him because Jake had only been gone a few weeks. As the grief of Jake lessens, I realize how much my heart is opening up to Doug. There is a love that connects him to his brothers, and that love is powerful and lovely. There are moments I look at Doug and know that we are building towards a love that will own me, (and one day, crush me). You can’t have one without the other. I can confirm that journey is worth it.

I love Doug. I love him every bit as much as I love Melvin and Jake and he has started healing me in ways that I didn’t expect. He has started to soften March 1st. He has made me believe in right now and has made me excited about tomorrow. He holds coveted space in my heart next to Max, Melvin and Jake and he is every bit as amazing (albeit much more crazy) than my angels are.

It’s hard to learn a new love in a shadow. I don’t think Doug realizes any of that though. From day one with me, he has been loved a thousand times more than he ever was in his previous life. As that bond between us becomes magical, I see the realization in his eyes. I see him look at me and he knows I’m his. He knows he’s home. He has opened himself up to love and joy and relaxation.

So have I.

On the eve of Melvin’s 12th birthday, when all of me feels the ache of not knowing a 12-year old Melvin (I mean the only thing more perfect than a 12-year old Melvin would be a 9-year old Jake by his side), I sit with Doug, and I tell him stories of his brothers and I realize that this March 1st, is a good one too.

Doug’s love anchor is winning. And that is how it’s supposed to go. Tomorrow we will celebrate Melvin’s heavenly birthday.  We will do things that Melvin enjoyed and we celebrate a love that lives on, a love that Doug owns now. I know Melvin sent Doug and I know he is fine with me letting the old March 1st go.

Doug in Melvin’s chair, in Jake’s sit style. #lovelivesonimg_3108