A few of my favorite things.

Christmas brought with it some awesome additions for the mudroom.  I actually took all the photos down in there and rearranged them to include some of the new stuff.  Here are a few of my favorite gifts:

Just in case there is any confusion who the treats are for. IMG_8126

New here are the ‘You, me, & the dog’ and the oh-so-perfect ‘Hello/goodbye’ gifts. IMG_8127

I got the super fun ‘make your own sign’ for my birthday and the other two pieces for Christmas. IMG_8129

This awesome leash hook! IMG_8131

This true statement – luckily Doug loves everyone. IMG_8133

I also got the bottom two in this photo.  Be still my heart.  The photo above them is a gift I got after Melvin died. It’s the outline of his body (nubbin tail and all) filled in with words I would say – both about him and to him.  IMG_8134

Doug got his own place.

You guys know I love the dogs. You also know that I love decorating.  While some argue that Doug’s 2017 jail cell time was hardest on him, I just want to remind everyone the visual assault I went through daily having to see that monstrous jail cell in the middle of the room. I mean sure, I get it, he was in pain and needed to stay still and I was there 24/7 to tend to his needs.  But some days, that jail cell, mocked me.

It hurt my soul. Real bad.

Of course that time is behind us now (please God, no more surgeries) and in 2018, I want tp add another dog. Me wanting another dog, and me being a planner, means I need to work on having two safe spaces for two different dogs. There are those who would say, put the new dog in the mudroom and just let Doug have run of the house. Uh, no. Those of you who would say that are clearly insane and not allowed to vote. Homeboy is not even close to being behaved enough to have run of the house. Not even run of the first floor.  Most days, I say a prayer for the poor mudroom when I leave.

Two safe spaces. The end.

I need to find a spot for Doug (or the new dog) so that I can free up the mudroom (or keep Doug in the mudroom). Clearly you can see I am not sure which dog will go where since currently, only one of those dogs is here and I’ll need to see size and needs of the, at this point, imaginary second dog.

I do not recall how I became aware of Ginny Bins.  I think Instagram recommended me to her page and well Instagram gets me so I checked it out. She makes, in addition to so many other things, custom dog crates. I loved her work but I was hesitant to reach out because her crates were a bit more traditional and/or rustic and I although I realllllllly wanted one, I couldn’t see any of them working with my decorating style.

Around November, I reached out to her (the most awesome Ginny of Ginny Bins ) and I said: hey awesome Ginny-lady, your crates are amazing!  Just one teeny tiny thing, they are a little rustic for me, I like a more modern decor, do you think you could make one that is equally awesome but more the style of my house?

She said yes!

Ginny was a dream to work with and her and her husband hand delivered the crate over the holiday break. There are honestly, VERY FEW THINGS I would allow to take up visual space in the house (from a decorating statndpoint) and this is abosultely one of them.

Some of you have seen it in some of our recent Instagram stories. It’s amazing!

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I thought I was going to have to train Doug to go into it.  I figured we’d take a few weeks to get him comfortable being in it.  The day it arrived, he walked in and took a nap.

Ok, well that was easy.

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This thing is magical. Doug opts to nap in it. WHEN I’M HOME!  It’s also in a great spot. He no loner feels he has to follow me every step I take because he can pretty much keep track of me from all the views of his new digs.

I have yet to shut the door on it (with him inside).  I will also need to relocate the WiFi extender since he will 100% try to remove it from the plug and likely be electroctued.

On days I go into the office, Doug gets 2, half-hour walks, and those walk would probably increase with another dog, so I am not terribly worried about him being in the crate when I’m gone (once we add another dog). Also, one day, maybe, I’m not sure but I hope, I think, probably, althought not for sure but maybe, just maybe, that, perhaps, he will have run of the house, first floor.

For now, he has a condo, and a mudroom and we’ll see where this second dog idea goes. Go check out Ginny Bins (site and social media)! Tell them Doug sent you!

Bob. Take two.

I don’t even know where to start this update.

Bob, the cat that I named before I knew HER gender, is my (well is she really anyones?) feral cat. You’ll recall she was trapped this past spring and I got her fixed at my vet. I put food out for her every night and on occasion we’d run into each other and she’d hiss at me.

I would see Bob around here and there, but never consistently.  Until a month or two ago, when I’d see her every day and the food bowl would be empty each night.

The other day, I got a good look at her and well…now I think there are two Bobs. The new Bob, which I call Bob #2 looks exactly like Bob #1 except that Bob #1 has two eye patches and Bob #2 only has one. Clearly, the numbering of Bob and her eye patches could use some work.

I have heard that good food can change a cat’s coat and coloring but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it cannot erase an eye patch.

I do not know where my life with Bob #1 ended and my life with Bob #2 began. I also, again, do not know Bob #2’s gender.

I’m more than a little worried about Bob #1.

When we trapped the original Bob, it was suspected that she had more kittens than what we found on my neighbors porch. It was likely (unfortunately) that she got trapped before all her kittens were accounted for. My guess is, this may be one of Bob’s kittens.

I do not have any plans to trap Bob #2. I really hope she is a dude.  And gay. (no babies down this path in case you cannot keep up with my logic).

Regardless.  Bob #2 is eating great food, has a condo in my driveway and Doug hates her/him so they are definitely siblings also.

The universe can stop sending me cats at any time now.

Merry and Happy.

The holidays can be lovely, joy filled, and happy.  They can also be challenging, lonely, and heartbreaking.

I always say that best part about any holiday is who you share your couch with.  Sometimes, the couch is full.  Inevitably, someone is missing.

We understand.

This will be our third Christmas without Melvin, and the second without Jake. There are a few tears when I put their ornaments on the tree, but at this point, I’m mostly just grateful that they are both in my heart and that every beat is a chance for me to seek and spread joy in their memory.  Despite their physical absence, I’m blessed to still have a full couch.

Love lives on. But it is not always an easy journey.

We wish you all much love and much laughter this holiday season. To anyone who is dreading the holidays or too sad to celebrate, we send you love and hugs. We’ll hold a spot for you, just in case.

xoxo, Tracey & Doug

PS: If you are wondering what Doug thinks of Christmas, just check out his expression on our card.  It’s the ho-ho-ho version of  F-you.

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Ch, ch, ch, ch, changes.

So many things have changed with Doug this year.

Prior to the surgery, Doug loved the vet. Now he does anything he can to remain in the car when we arrive. His tail is tucked from the moment he walks through the door to the moment he exits that same door. While I get that he had two situations where he arrived at a vet, fell asleep and woke up unable to walk/in pain, I can’t imagine he applies this to every vet. Sure, if he did this only at the surgeon I would understand.  But he does this at our regular vet also. For a dog with ADD, he sure has great memory and focus in this area.

I’d choose to be back in jail over going to the vet. IMG_6244

Prior to the surgery, he didn’t seem to mind the cold all that much, he has jackets and hoodies to keep him warm.  But now I’ve noticed that on colder days, he’s not nearly as mobile. He’s stiff and uncomfortable.  I know he has arthritis (there is no having what he had done and not having arthritis) and I have also heard that all the hardware in his legs could ache in cold temps. He’s not even two yet. Focus on the joy, stay positive. At least he can stand and walk!

Let’s move to Florida. IMG_2074

Earlier this year, Doug was doing great with meeting dogs. Then he got attacked by one (he ended up in doggie ER) and he became, less-good. During surgery restrictions, play time was not allowed. I noticed each time that we were at surgeon or at rehab that he was snarly at other dogs, even lunging a few times. I talked to a few people who said that can happen when a hyper dog goes on lockdown. So, I hoped for the best. Now, I am ready to add a dog (or two!) and Doug is still not doing great meeting them. Long gone are the days where I worried a dog could keep up with Doug (or that my house would collapse), now I just want one who he can co-exist with.

Remember when that dog wolverined my nose? IMG_3706

What I know is that he does not do well with dogs bigger than him. And females are for the most part, are not his favorite either. You know who he does well with? Male puppies/male younger dogs (and some male dogs that are smaller than him). Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy? When will I have a dog that shares in my love of big, old dogs? When? No seriously, it is a question.

As it turns out, there are a lot of young dogs in our area in need of a home. There are a likely always puppies/young dogs available and I just never notice them as I go right to older dogs. Ideally, I’d like to add two dogs. I mean I entertain the idea of adding two younger dogs (plus Doug) and I’ll think I can do it and then about 20 min later I’m looking up definitions of insanity and they show a photo of someone with 2-3 young dogs.

Please give me a puppy to eat play with. IMG_7171

 

 


Thankful. Grateful. Blessed.

There are so many things I am thankful for.

I’m thankful for beautiful sunsets sent by angels. For surgeons who know their shit. I’m thankful for Peanut Butter City and a dog who can now run zoomies again. For sushi and salt and vodka. I’m thankful for my family, for friendship and beautiful moments realized.

I’m thankful for rescue, vets. vet techs and tranquilizers. For leashes that hold up, for healthy treat options and for photographs. I’m thankful for Instagram stories, Facebook and blogging. I’m thankful for you. For this community, for constant support and understanding.

I’m really thankful for laughter and love. And random acts of kindness.

I’m thankful for good hair days, handbags, boots and cold-snuggly nights. I’m thankful for the kids in my life.  I’m thankful for all the dogs, and a cat named Bob.

I’m thankful for memories, for giving hearts, and that love lives on.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo credit: Bev Hollis54342NNhol112204-R4-057-Edit

Photo credit: Bridgette E. PhotographyBT4A9990

Photo credit: Kate Juliet Photography kate_juliet_photography_pets_melvin_022836v2-2

Vet visit 10,591.

As Doug’s legs have gotten better, I started noticing that he is having some other issues. My general rule for vet visits is that 1. If it seems like an emergency, it is an emergency and we go right away.  2. If it something shows up (but not a 911) and persists, we go.  Doug’s latest symptoms have shown up, then gone away, then shown up a few weeks later for a day or two, then gone away. So it took me a little while to realize that in this case, persisting was defined a little differently.

  • He throws up. Not daily. Sometimes less than once a week. But enough that I can say ‘regularly’.
  • He has runny poops or poops that start out good then go runny.  This will happen once and then he’ll be fine for a week then it will happen again for maybe two times then not happen again for two weeks. (This one made a little more sense to me. As he has come off tie down and gone back to his normal exploring mode, things go in that shouldn’t).
  • He has a cough. He will cough one day, then not again for a week, then maybe throughout one day, and not again for several days.
  • He rarely has any of these issues at the same time.

All of the above started after his last surgery but also after he came off all his meds and as he was becoming  more active. Then last week he was just off.  He was hyper one day then completely lethargic the next day. And I could tell he was nauseous from the amount of drool he was producing. So off to the vet we went.

Take me to the vet woman. IMG_7171

I listed out all of the things for the vet and I mentioned how he never had any stomach upset with surgery or pain meds and that I thought it was odd that all of this started as he came off meds.

The vet found the timing to be very suspect. All of his symptoms (other than the poop part) could point to his esophagus being irritated during the last surgery when they put in or removed the breathing tube. He felt the on and off again could indicate it healing then flaring, repeat, repeat, repeat. So we started on some meds to coat his digestive tract, some meds to tamper down acid production and some meds to help with the poops. He also got a nausea shot that night and we went home with nausea medication.

The first few days on the meds were just more of the same. But by day 3 or 4, Doug was remarkably better and WAY CRAZIER than usual.  I could tell he was feeling better. The only thing that is persisting is the cough.  I know this cough, Jake had it when he was going through radiation and having anesthesia (and thus a breathing tube) daily.

The next step, since the meds did seem to help, will be to scope him and see whats going on. Is there inflammation in his esophagus?  Is it limited to there or does he perhaps have an ulcer.  Is it something else all together?

The only thing I  know for sure is that getting insurance on Doug is the best things I have EVER done.

I’m gonna take a nap but you need to keep working so you can pay for my insurance. IMG_7352

Doug’s corner. Featuring, Doug.

Heyyyyyyyy my people!  I’m out of jail and living the good life!

Where to start?…

So a few (dog) years ago she got all I’m the boss of you and now I’m going to kidnap you in your own house and put you in this jail cell and oh wait some stranger is going to cut your leg open and its going to hurt and you won’t be able to walk or run or jump or be a dog and the moment its healed he’s going to cut the other leg open and you will live a life of de ja vu and I’m still the boss of you and you will like it and I’ll keep a leash on you at all times and no running and stay still and sleep down here alone and seriously no running, not even thoughts of running including but not limited to memories of running!

She’s the worst. Well at least for this part of the update she’s the worst. Don’t even try to disagree with me unless your mother is also addicted to having surgery done on you.  No one? Thought so.

I mean sure, she came in the jail cell with me. And fine, she made me some pretty incredible treats.  And there were all those times she took me to Peanut Butter City and hello, that place is heaven on earth! They have Beckys there. I mean you gotta get you own Becky cause I got my Becky but there is also a Becky there named Jessie that I really liked too, anywhooooo, yeah, Smother is ok I guess.

Also, I graduated from rehab!  But she promises we can still go back and visit my harem. IMG_7302 (1)

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Where was I? Oh, right, I’m freeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Like she always says, forward is the best direction. So forwards is where I go.  Does it count if your forwards is a really fast zoomie circle?

The leg scars make me look incredibly rugged. I can tell the ladies love it. She dressed me up as something called Franken(leg)weenie for Halloween and she drew some lines on me that look like more scars and then she found out that stuff does not wash off easily so now it looks like faded tattoos and I’m not gonna lie, I like it. A lot.  I look like a damn badass.  IMG_7448

She says I’m not really a bad ass because I’m afraid of wind. She’s dumb.

Also, I love blankets now.  And not just as a snack! IMG_7268

So… I’M FREE!  I’M FREE! I’M FREE!

She keeps trying to introduce me to dogs (and Jake keeps whispering to me in my sleep that I should not, under any circumstance, fall for it or allow it).  Who should I listen to?

Gotta run, she just went upstairs so its time to eat another shoe!

 

 

Sweet Freedom.

Doug came off of all tie-downs a little over a week ago.  I didn’t make a huge deal about it because I figured he’d take off running and break something else. That is a truly what I think. I am still not sure it won’t happen.

For now, he and I both have freedom again.

I no longer have to take him into our backyard on leash.

He is no longer on tie down on the patio. Or in the house.

The jail cell is packed away.

He can run, jump and partially fly, whenever he wants. Although he has yet to do any of this yet, I’m hoping he feels some of his own physical limitations and will slowly increase his crazy. A mom can dream!

There are so many things I’m thankful for, like his wonderful surgeon (Dr. Sutherland at The Life Center/VSC) and his rehab girls at VSCR (Jesse and Becky).  It’s because of them that we are waving goodbye to limping, and hopping, and jail cells, and tie downs.  They set us free again.

I’m also, so thankful for all of you! Reaching out, commiserating, providing laughter during tears. We. Love. You! We feel your support, it wraps around us like a giant hug!  You helped to heal us!

Video and photo proof that the inmate has been released!

Wait, why are we so far apart?IMG_7106

 

What is freedom? Where are the chains that hold me back. IMG_7108

 

Incisions are healed so he is finally free to…be a dog.  IMG_7114

 

Hey brothers, she set me free!  I can pee on you now.  (they are not really there, just our little memory tree) #lovelivesonIMG_7103

That’s the way love goes.

I have some friends who have lost dogs recently and find themselves in a heavy-hearted conundrum. One that I know very well. No dogs in the house and uncertainty about ever being able to love a dog again. Then there is the ever awesome (not) feeling of guilt that they are in some way, moving on, or away from, the one they lost.

The number one question I get about grief and moving forward with Doug is: Did you love Doug right away.

The answer is, no. Love and grief are a strange combination.

Max was the dog that showed me the way. Without him, there would never have been a Melvin, a Jake or a Doug. He was the beginning, the catalyst, the original.

Melvin was a massive growth spurt for my heart. It is unlikely I will ever love another dog in the same way I loved Melvin. Our connection is spiritual and I am fine with that part of me belonging only to him. He changed me. But as with all loves, they grow and move and are meant to live on.

Melvin love, brought Jake home.

Jake is my baby. My love for him is different from my love for Melvin or Max. It is no more or less, just unique to Jake.  I felt that way when Melvin was here and after Melvin died. I doubt I will ever love a dog the way I loved Jake. That is exactly how it was meant to be.

Jake love, brought Doug home.

When I got Doug, my heart was still living in the Melvin and Jake era. I was still figuring out where my little family went. He didn’t fit in perfectly but at the same time, he didn’t have to find his place because there were no dogs here. I never felt guilty about bringing Doug home (but I certainly had felt that about dogs I met after Jake but before Doug).  I also never felt passionate about Doug’s arrival. In a lot of ways he solved the empty house problem which is not the most loving reason to get a dog.  Then again, I got Melvin because Max was dying so maybe life knows what it’s doing after all.

For most of Doug’s first year, I missed Jake.  If I wore some sort of emotional gauge, that is what would register as #1. Grief owns you until it doesn’t.

Last night after Doug was a madman and ran and jumped and did all the things he is not supposed to do post surgery I snuggled with my little guy. I have felt love for him for a long time now, it sorta just snuck up on me a few months into him joining the family. I know that sounds sad, I loved him enough to bring him home and keep him during the times he tried to eat my feet but I was not struck with an overwhelming YOU ARE THE ONE, I LOVE YOU SO MUCH right away with him.  I liked him a whole lot. I just didn’t have control over where my love had scattered after losing Melvin and Jake.

Last night, I realized, in a rather quiet, a-ha moment, that I LOVE him. Fiercely. Every bit as much as his brothers and in a completely different way that is also exactly the same. For anyone and everyone who has loved and lost and then loved again, you know what I mean. It’s not a guilty, replacement love. It is brand new love from the same loving heart.

I believe with all that I am that love lives on. That our hearts love, and when we lose the one we love, that loves stays theirs but our capacity to love widens to welcome the next love home. The chapters of our lives move on. What other choice do we have? Love is not meant to be tucked away in its pages, love needs air and light and new places to land.

The world needs love to live on, more than ever.

I know that if Doug could talk the first thing he would do is to thank Max, Melvin and Jake for sending my love back out into the universe.  I know with all that I am that Melvin, the owner of my heart, wants me to rain love down on as many dogs as I can fit into this lifetime and that anything else would be unacceptable to him.

Melvin’s song as you all know is Photograph.  Jake’s song is Superman. Every time I look at Doug, this song plays in my head.

Go out and spread some love today. Or better yet, do that every day.

#loveliveson

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Our Yellow Brick Home collection.

Recently, we got some bittersweet news. Our friends over at Yellow Brick Home are stepping back from doing pet portraits (I had to stop when I was reading it to hyperventilate) to make more time for the newest project they are cooking up, a baby girl! Ugh, it’s so hard to stay upset when it’s for such a good reason!

I am not sure I can put into words the feelings I have for the YBH paintings of my boys. Despite having tens of thousands of photographs of them, our YBH paintings are among the treasures I would rush in to save during a disaster. It’s not just that they are one-of-a-kind; they are one of my kind. My boys. I commissioned each one during a very definitive phase of our lives.

Melvin & Jake was ordered the moment I realized that my little odd couple were becoming soul mates. My very first, little family.

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Melvin’s was ordered just before his 10th birthday, to capture how soulful his Eeyore face had become. I found out he was dying while Kim was painting it and it arrived one week before we said good-bye. holupka-melvin-scan[1]

Jake’s was ordered just after Melvin died. During his intense grief, Jake’s eyes took on the most delicate vulnerability and I wanted Kim to capture it. Little did I know how poetic the timing was; his eye ruptured just a few weeks after the painting arrived.

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I had just ordered Doug’s (in the hopes no sadness would surround the timing of it) when YBH announced they were stepping back from the pet portraits. I just recently received it. My collection is complete!

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Some would say it’s all just paint on wood, but it’s infinitely so much more than that. Kim understands the connection between pet and person. There is an emotion in each stroke, the same way true love is painted into our hearts.

Farewell (for now) Yellow Brick Home.  Thank you for the treasures!

xoxo

Tracey, Melvin-man, Googly Eyes and Crazy Doug

This too shall pass.

I am part of a support group on FB for folks who have dogs going through the same surgeries as Doug. A lot of times people will post that they feel bad for their dogs, day after day, every day, to have to go through any of this, and that is the moment where I have to ask myself: why I don’t feel this way? Do I not care about Doug? Am I dead inside?

The reality is, despite what Doug is going through, it is nothing even close to what Jake (or even Melvin had to go through).  And that is not to say that Doug’s life is a comparison to theirs, not at all.  It’s just…I never looked at Jake and thought, you poor thing. I felt for his struggle but our entire lives were built around overcoming and opportunity. Sure, that last year I screamed to the universe ENOUGH already! But Jake and I moved forward, even on his last day.

Doug is going to have a great life. I have a lot of faith that his legs will be better than ever (and sure, a little worry here and there that they will not be able to keep up with him at all). Whatever will be, will be. We will figure it out.

Our plans for this summer got squashed. No doubt about it. Unlike Melvin and Jake, Doug loves to be outside, even by himself. I have screens that allow him to go in and out on his own while I’m home.  The back yard is built for him to enjoy and run zoomies  There will not be a single day during spring, summer or most of fall that Doug isn’t outside on leash, with me. No opening the door to let him run, I must go out with him. No lingering on the patio furniture, he is not allowed to jump up or down. No pool time, he’d 100% break another part of his body.

As sad as that is, Doug is fine. There is no way he will remember this phase. The first chance he has at a full outside zoomie session, he will transition from inmate to superhero. He will live in every moment and continue to have everything he needs. If and when the next challenge comes along, he’ll get through that too. Doug is powered by joy. Trust me on this, I live it every day.

Here are some positives that have come out of Doug being in jail:

  • He’s had to work on impulse control, and he’s doing great.
  • If I am not in the room with him, he will chill all day in the jail cell if necessary.  This is a great tool for us to have when people come over who are not dog/Doug enthusiasts.
  • Despite the death stares, he knows I’m in this with him. He and I have bonded, even during the barking and snarling.  (I bark and snarl also).
  • Walks are less stressful now because he is so excited to be out and about that he doesn’t chew the leash or dart left and right and backwards the entire time.
  • We have MASTERED all his commands.

One of my favorite sayings/quotes is: Where you’re at is not who you are. I have applied that to just about every struggle I have ever had. Those low moments, they don’t define you. This legs phase, will pass. And I have no doubt that one day Doug will break something else in his attempt to be the most insanely crazy dog on earth!

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And with that, I give you my little graduate.  I wrote this blog post last week and this week Doug was cleared to be off leash in the house. I am 100% panicked he will break his entire body but here we go anyway!

Where are the chains that usally hold me down?IMG_6483.JPG

The jail cell comes down:

 

 

 

Doug’s first moments of freedom are spent next to me. Can anyone say Stockholm Syndrome?

 

 

 

He’s clearly not familiar with freedom yet.  All those lovely industrial rugs and mats are to prevent slipping (and surgery!).

 

 

 

 

Peanut Butter City.

Doug started therapy in May. That was for his old-new leg. We were rocking all his exercises and moving our way towards graduation.  Then we hit a roadblock known as new-new leg. While we did surgery and recovery on leg #2, therapy had to be put on hold. That meant that leg #1 lost some ground. Double ugh!

A month after his second surgery, Doug was cleared for therapy for both legs. Woooohooooooooo, take us back to Peanut Butter City where the grass is green and girls are pretty!

Doug LOVES Peanut Butter City. That is what we call therapy because they feed him peanut butter to get him to do what they want him to do.

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It’s not just the peanut butter, he LOVES the ladies there too. I mean hard-core, loves them. One of them, Becky, he loves more than he loves peanut butter. Perhaps even more than he loves me. If Becky greets him at the elevator, he explodes with joy. If he’s doing an exercise and Becky walks by, he loses all ability to focus.  If she disappears, he is inconsolable and flips and flops in a furry of a tantrum. Doug has no game.

He. Loves. Her.

This is who he stalks Becky. He’s totally holding in his gut to impress her. IMG_4270

I mean, I’m glad he loves someone. Despite living with him, feeding him, snuggling with him, buying him several jail cells, paying all his bills and DRIVING HIM TO PEANUT BUTTER CITY, all I get are death stares.

You’re not Becky. IMG_6244

I will chew this tie down and set myself free and find Peanut Butter City on my own. IMG_6341IMG_6347

I gotcha, Doug.

Dear Doug,

A year ago I was broken. I was overwhelmed with grief and I was paralyzed under the weight of there being no dogs here. Jakey had not been gone that long and the void in my heart and in the house was crushing me. I’d met dogs and all of them made me have breakdowns. None of them were the dog I wanted.

The dog(s) I wanted had died.

So I gave up. My exact words were: it will just have to be shitty until it isn’t.

Then I saw you. I was scrolling on Facebook and I saw you and went past you and then scrolled back up and then back down and then back up. What was it about you? I didn’t think: you’re not Jake. I didn’t say: it feels too soon. In you, I saw the love-child of my delicious duo. More so, I saw a tomorrow that you could be in. I brought you home (one year ago today) and there were no breakdowns, at least none that were grief driven.

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In the first weeks that followed, my feet bled.  This is not some sort of poetic rhetoric, they literally bled because you were insane and tried to eat my feet with every step I took.  Every step.  I remember running and hiding in the bathroom.  I googled steel toed shoes.  Steel toed footwear in the heat of summer = not cute. During those torturous weeks, you made me miss Jake more.  I won’t lie, I did not love you. I regularly asked myself and you out loud, what was I thinking?

In addition to my bloody stumps, you had more energy than all the dogs combined times infinity. We walked non stop and still you were wound up and running zoomies. Still trying to leave me footless. How was I going to walk you with no feet?

I cried. A lot. About you. You were not at all what I wanted.

But then it was October. Then November. And we’d worked on you chewing toys and not feet and although I was still sad about Jake, I was not as unsure about you. December came and I still cried myself to sleep missing Jake, but I woke up smiling that you were here.

You saw me through almost all the firsts I had to go through without Jake. You were fairly insensitive about my sadness, in fact most times when I would cry you would jump on my back and chew my hair.

In hindsight,  you were everything that I needed.

I didn’t need a hug. That was Melvin’s job. Melvin’s collars were too big for you. I didn’t need you to make me laugh, Jake had that covered.  Jake’s jackets were too small for you. What I needed was a disruption to the structure of grief. I needed to go a little crazy.  Who better to show me that than you? You are my boy in the middle. Sandwiched between your brothers. Sort of like that circle on the top of your head.IMG_1852

You crept slowly into my heart.

I didn’t love all the walks, but the fresh air healed me. I was not excited about how much training you needed, but it helped pass time that would have otherwise been spent wishing Jake was still laying on the couch next to me. I didn’t love that you were such a terror, but every night I went to bed, I was almost too exhausted to be sad.

You were not the dog I wanted at first. But no dog was.  Today, I know with certainty that we were meant to be. Not just because you are addicted to surgery and I love going broke, but because when you look at me, my heart squeals. You are so much like Melvin, and so much like Jake, and nothing like them at all.  Even though you never met them, I still feel like you are brothers, that you are connected to them, and I do not think I would have felt that way with any other dog but you.

Your story is the opposite of mine.  You never had a family to lose. You never had someone committed to your health or well-being. You never had a home, or beds or peanut butter. If there is one thing I know, it’s that the universe will send me the dogs that others would not be able to go the distance with. I will travel this crazy life with you and your wonky Barbie legs, always.

I know you know you’re home.

Thank you for joining me on this journey of joy.  You are a strong force in this army. You bring the joy AND the funk.

You own my heart. Sure, some days I am still worried you will chew it up like one of your beds or swing it around like one of your Jolly Balls, but as all unconditional loves go, I’m willing to take that risk.

Happy Gotcha Day, bud.  I love you.  Forever.

 

 

Frankenlegs.

It feels like Doug has been on lockdown for eternity.  I’m sure it feels even longer for him.  I was looking for a photo yesterday and realized that he had his first surgery back in April. It’s almost September. The earth has not shaken from Doug zoomies in almost five months.

Set me free woman. IMG_5892

This go around is going pretty good.  I think there is just a general depression and acceptance by both of us that it will suck until it doesn’t. The meds combo seems to be helping Doug stay calm.  When I say he stays calm, what I mean is, when in his jail cell he has not yet tried to run zoomies or stand on his two frankenlegs only.  He will stare directly into my soul and bark for a long time, but he does it while sitting so that’s good. But when I go to let him out, trust me, home boy tries to run. In the yard he will let me get a few steps ahead of him (he’s on leash) and then he will run for five steps just because he can.

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

The death stares are fewer and have turned into more of a plea to his captor to stop taking him in for surgeries.

A softer side of the death stare. Using only side-eye. IMG_5840

Brothers, why is she addicted to surgery? IMG_5855

No seriously, stop taking me places where I go to sleep and wake up with another frankenleg.IMG_5872

We joined an AMAZING support group on Facebook for dogs with frankenlegs like Doug and it’s been really helpful for perspective and encouragement.  There are a bunch of people and dogs just preparing for or coming home from surgery and there are a bunch who are at the end and have videos of their dogs running free for the first time. A reminder that the end of this will come.

Have a great weekend!  Seek and spread some joy!

 

 

 

Two weeks of deja vu.

It has been two weeks since Doug’s most recent surgery.  It has been 14 weeks since his first surgery. Here are some updates:

  • We resume rehab next week. We are coming up on the original date that rehab should have been done, but now it’s almost like we are starting over.  Well, it’s not almost like we are, it’s more like we actually are. Thankfully, Doug LOVES rehab.  We call it Peanut Butter City.
  • Doug’s sutures came out today. That means NO MORE CONE! The funny part is that this go around, Doug actually loves the cone.  He has mastered sleeping on his back and having his head propped up on the donut cone.
  • Something is going on with his old new leg (the one he had surgery on first, from here on out we will call that leg Franken-leg-one) When he walks, his hock/ankle hyperextends (to an alarming degree).  The surgeon looked at it today and said it was either nothing (just the way he is compensating for Franken-leg-two) or something (I cannot tell you what he said about this part because I passed out from fear it requires surgery).
  • Doug’s current meds are keeping him pretty chill.  I’m not a person who believes in jinxing but I am still cautious to say that too much.  This go around, I have kept him strictly in the crate (not the pen) so I also think that has had something to do with him remaining calmer.  He is going to graduate back to the pen this week so we shall see.
  • Due to the previous bullet point, my vodka consumption has been that of a normal person.
  • Doug has also been super snuggly this go around. Just before he tore his other ACL, and he had been jailed for 12 weeks, he was starting to be stressed.  I get it, he had no idea why he was being held hostage. During that time, he had started barking at me non-stop (which was so fun and rewarding), and growling at the situation  (which I mean, what is better after a long day at work than someone snarling at you?). I am trying to do everything I can to make jail time more positive.
  • In relation to the previous bullet point, I fit in Doug’s crate with him.
  • Doug almost got a sister a few weeks back.  I felt like it would have been a great time since he would have only had a few more weeks of inactivity and by the time he was cleared to play, we’d be through the shutdown period of them being separated.  Then his other ACL snapped…

Here are some recent pictures of my little inmate:

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And here is a photo of how Franken-leg-one hyperextends: IMG_5645

 

Prison life is boring.

I have never been in prison but I imagine its pretty lame. There is probably a lot of boredom mixed in with a bunch of chores, and a lot of anxiety about being shiv’d or raped.  Those last two are tidbits I learned from watching too much Law & Order SVU.

Doug’s prison time is just the boredom part.  He’s bored. I’m bored for him. And we have three to four more months to go.  Even though WE SHOULD HAVE BEEN F’ING DONE BY NOW BUT NO, HE HAD TO BLOW OUT HIS OTHER LEG TOO.

But I digress.

The update is, boredom.  His leg is healing nicely (from what I can tell). The gag factor from looking at it has gone from a 10 to about a 4. We had to put rehab on hold so that sucks. He’s still on pain meds so he is pretty chill. He was chill during this part last time too.  It’s when he comes off of the meds that he is intolerable hyper and hard to implement restricted activity.  That should be at some point next week when his staples come out.

Until then, it’s just a lot of staring at each other and him thinking I’m addicted to dog surgeries.

The day of surgery when he’s like ‘what the? She made me have another surgery? Thanks a lot Mommy Dearest. IMG_5588

Our cone game is strong. Since Doug eats them. IMG_5590

Gag. Gag. Gag. IMG_5601

A PSA from Doug: if you are going to do drugs, wear a donut.

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That day I was at work and watching him on camera and thought the cone strangled Doug because he had not moved in four hours so I yelled BOO into the camera’s mic. IMG_5652

And in this NSFW photo you can see how nicely the other leg (the one closer to the floor) healed up and we are confident this one will too.  He should only be franken legs for a few more weeks!IMG_5669

Here we go again.

Doug is 12 weeks post a complicated luxated patella and TPLO surgery.  Two weeks ago we waved goodbye to our surgeon. As of last week, we probably had about six weeks more to go until he was free to zoom. We had just come off of pen confinement and needing to be leashed in the house.  Our rehab had finally picked up in intensity to really start building his muscle back up. He was sleeping upstairs again.

In other words, we saw the light.

This weekend, Doug tore his other ACL. I’d personally like to live in denial of this.  But Doug can barely walk now and his second surgery is today, so it’s apparently time to take a bite of this reality sandwich.

I sorta wish we had not seen the light or given him more freedom. To have it given, then abruptly taken away, has left him angry. He now sits in the pen and barks at me non stop. Not ideal, for either of us. 

I don’t really have the words to describe how hard it has been to keep Doug’s activity restricted.  I know a lot of people probably say that about their dogs, but the people around us can confirm that Doug is not, most dogs.  He is constantly in motion. When he’s being held back, he goes into destructive mode.  And as much as that drives me nuts, it is way more taxing on him to have to live the life as an inmate. These leg issues keep Doug from being Doug. He should be going in and out of the house into the yard whenever he wants. He should be running zoomies. Instead, he’s been in jail and on tie down and the moment he starts to taste freedom again, the jail bars drop back down.

He holds me responsible for it all, and it definitely impacts our relationship building. 

I am not sure how we will get through round two, but I know we will find a way.  I mean, we have no choice. Hopefully since this one should only be the TPLO surgery and not the luxated patella fix also (please God), it may be a bit easier on him.  Not sure about that but I am holding onto that hope.

If either Melvin or Jake needed this surgery, or even if they both needed it at the same  time, we’d all probably be high-fiving.  Staying still and resting was their goal in life. They probably would have cut their own ACLs if they knew it came with months of inactivity.  This down time for Doug, goes against his DNA.

I have had Doug for almost 11 months. It is estimated he ran stray for about 5 months. I’m hopeful he thinks jail-city is still better than being stray, but I can’t be sure. I’m trying to focus on the positive: we can afford these surgeries, he has good insurance, he’s young so healing is faster. But the truth is, my little family needs a win. 

Last night when I was laying in bed saying no, no, nope, no to this happening, over and over like a crazy person, I had a vision of Doug running stray.  What if he had not been found? What if both of his ACLs blew out and he was dragging his bloody stumps around? What if, God forbid, someone found him and decided he was not worth saving?

He came to me for a reason. One of those reasons is to be mended. We all know he will get that. Another reason could be to test the boundaries of my sanity. This surgery may breach that barrier, but who knows, it might help us get through round two!

Is he going to test my patience?  Yes, absolutely.  Will he pick back up on planning my death? Probably.

Will we make it through? Of course we will.  We are joy warriors.

 

 

The worst.

I had a migraine last week. It was terrible. Doug, was even worse than the migraine.

To recap:

  • Max would lovingly lay over my legs when I had a migraine and was sick.
  • Melvin would climb into the big bed, and want for nothing until I was able to get back up.
  • Jake would lay at Melvin’s butt forever, he had no clue I was even there (although a few times he would come into the bathroom, I’m presuming to be sure the person who could reach the food was still alive).
  • Doug’s pre-game, game-game and end-game is torturing me.

He was a maniac the day of the migraine. On a scale of 1-10 energy wise, he was infinity.  He also reverted back to trying to be my backpack, something he has not done in months (and I had not missed). He also, tried to chew my hair.

But the worst part was, and I was extra stomach sick on this migraine, every time I was crouched over the toilet, he would bark, at the toilet, ferociously. Like foam from his mouth would fly into my ear because he was so close to the toilet and in some weird toilet-attack-mode.

So, I shut the door. But he could still hear me getting sick, so he would just flip out until I opened the door again. When I would get up and walk out, he’d run in and bark at the toilet some more.

During migraines, I often write things down, either things that happen during the migraine that I want to tell my neurologist about, or things I need to remember, as I likely won’t have recollection of them after.

I woke up the next day to find this note:

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Obviously I won’t. But don’t tell him that.

For those of you anticipating the ‘other leg’ update. We see the surgeon tomorrow at 10am.  Until then, I’m in denial.

 

Graduation (of sorts).

Doug had surgery nine weeks ago.  Nine LONG weeks ago.  We had a setback at week 4 and he has been on limited-limited activity since then.  To be honest, I’m not even sure what that means. But today, 9 weeks in, we had our 8 week check-up (calendar math is not the boss of us) with the surgeon including a 2nd round of x-rays.  The good news is: Doug’s bones are fully healed!  Wooohoooooo!  Does this mean he can resume zoomies? Uh, no. He still needs rehab to build up the muscle mass that he lost (and in some ways never had). But it does mean that we can go into full-rehab-beast-mode!

Doug starting water therapy (finally)!

You guys know the struggles I have had to keep Doug calm. He’s been on the tranquilizer Ace for some time now and either I’m going more insane or it is having an opposite effect on him.  I have been reading up on it and in fact, I think that is what is happening to Doug.  It is actually making him more hyper.  All of the stories I hear of animals on Ace where it is working are along the lines of: the dog was immobile, drooling, very lethargic. The words I would use to describe Doug on Ace are: uncontrollable, crazy, hyper. Now that we are coming off of restricted-restricted activity and will likely just be on singular restricted activity, I can probable stop giving him the Ace.  Or I can stop since IT FAILED US.

Examples of Doug on Ace – as you can see, he is as subdued as a pumpkin.

 

I am sad to report that Doug, like many who find themselves in the prison system at one time or another, has found himself incarcerated once again. He is just not a dog that does well on a tie down, mostly because necks break and he does not seem to care about that risk.  I however love his fat neck so, the jail cell is back out in the center of the room where it can haunt my decorating soul full-time again.

No seriously, his neck is deliciously giant. IMG_5307

Hello old friend. Neither of us missed you. IMG_5267