Good Dog.

I know I share a lot of challenges about Doug.  Some I share so that others know that the struggle is real here too. Some are just funny.  Mostly, it’s just reality, right? Kids are way harder dogs, but raising dogs is something new every day too.  Both journeys are everything that love is about though.

Doug was handful from day one. He was every bit as spastic as Melvin was, but having Melvin didn’t automatically train me for Doug. Doug was energetic, Doug was not down with any helpful commands, but the worst part was, he mouthed my feet, 24/7.

Doug is now none of those things. Yes, he is energetic, and there are spastic moments, but that is also, just Doug. He and I have come a long way and there has been a lot of joint compromise.

There is now, mostly good. I mean, can’t we all claim that?  I’m mostly good too!

  • Doug greets the day with an exuberance that most will never be able to replicate. He springs from bed into a zoomie manuerver that takes him down the steps and out the door in about 3 seconds flat! He reminds me every morning that we are chasing joy.
  • Doug loves to eat. He loves food more than zoomies. But he has never once barked to be fed, and on days when we had to withhold food, he never showed me any punishment.
  • I taught him leave it. It is how I got him to stop destroying my feet. He knows leave it no matter what the situation is.  I have complete confidence in Doug and that command.
  • He never marked in the house. He had a few accidents at the start but who cares about that.
  • He is GREAT in the car. He loves car rides but just in general, he is calm and happy no matter how long the journey.
  • He does not beg.  He will stare at you with the intensity of a fiery hot sun. And he will drool.  But he will not try to take food or invade your eating space.
  • If i put him in the mudroom, or when he had to be crated after surgery, he never fought back on that. He goes in and waits to be let out.
  • He will stop anything and everything he is doing if I raise the volume on my voice and calmly say, absolutely not.
  • He sleeps 10+ hours a night. I’m not even joking about this.
  • He is not all that verbal. He’s more interested visually in what’s outside the window than he is to bark about it. He barks if he hears a noise that startles me and he barks like crazy at Bob #2.
  • He loves people.  Like he wiggles and wags and smiles and froths and very few people are nervous to meet him.  The ones who are mostly just worry his exuberance might result in them falling over.
  • He knows all the drills. When the doorbell rings, he has to go into the office. When I say bed, he goes upstairs and gets into his bed. When I say dinner, he breaks down all barriers to get to his bowl. He then sits and waits until it’s placed in front of him.
  • He knows go upstairs, go downstairs, get on your mat, go into your room (mudroom), go into office.
  • He knows sit, down, touch. He refuses to learn stay. Stay doesn’t translate to nuclear energy.
  • He never learned come but he did learn treat and now I use that to get him to where I need him to be.
  • He has moments when he has crossed over to hyper. When his face gets tight and his eyes get a little crazy. I say nap, and he goes to chill out for a little while.

He’s crazy. I am pretty sure he will always be a certain level of nuts.  That is who he is. But he’s also become a really, really, great dog.

I see so much of Melvin and Jake in him.  I know that what I see in him in those moments, is me. I am the common denominator.

I understand Doug and Doug understands me too.

Who you calling crazy?IMG_1496

Stockholm syndrome.

You will recall that Doug did great with other dogs. All dogs. Even if a dog didn’t like him, Doug was in love with that sucker.

Then he had surgery and was not around other dogs, but when he was (at the surgeon and rehab), he was oddly very lungey. We chalked it up to pain, not being full strength and maybe a little lockdown pent up’ness. He was also attacked twice just before lockdown last year and that may play a factor.

If only he could talk.

Since coming off of restriction, he has been around dogs at Thanksgiving. My sister has two little dogs and I had Doug on a lead cause I was not sure how he would do and I didn’t want him to think they were what smelled so good (it was the Turkey).  He did fine. This was at my parents house.

We have since started meeting dogs again. Mamma wants more dogs. Doug does not seem 100% on board with that idea.  The dogs are ok if they are met on a walk. Walking near each other and even sorta side by side, is OK. What he does not seem to deem ok any longer is a dog heading into our yard or house. The moment Doug realizes this is a home turf visit, he turns and become very vocal and lunges like a damn disco queen.

He also seems to do this intense stare thing that other dogs do not enjoy in the slightest. He does this to me sometimes and I start to feel like food. The thing is, I don’t think he knows he is doing it. His eyes are intense and he has them open like the rest of us but when we look towards something it’s ‘seeing’ and when Doug does the same it is ‘staring with the intensity of a thousand hot suns’.

We met a bulldog and the moment I met her I was already picking out her first five Sirius Republic collars.  The dogs were fine on a walk, They came inside and Doug apparently felt like she was a huge threat to the couch cause he went nuts on her and she was like F you, no you didn’t just lunge at me. 

So fun!

So…a wonderful follower of the blog, Jodi, reached out to a wonderful trainer in our area and we have our first appointment next week. She will (hopefully) help Doug get back to being Doug and then she will help us do meet and greets with other dogs.

Wooohhooooooo!

The foster mom of the lady Bulldog mentioned to me that Doug seemed ‘very fond of’ me. We may have a bit of Stockholm Syndrome and perhaps Doug has bonded too much with the person who held him captive for five months last year. I am trying to be less wonderful so that he feels like he can branch out and like his species again but it is really hard for me to be anything less than lovable.

We are a work in progress. Happy weekend!

Doug: I love my mom. 54342NNhol112204-R4-057-Edit

Doug: But not as much as Becky. IMG_7287

 

Who are the people in your waiting room?

Where oh where have we been?? I was traveling a little, Doug was being Doug, and next thing you know, it’s May!

We were at an internist appointment on Friday afternoon (to figure out why Doug’s poops are hot lava).  Our appt was at 3:30 and at 4:30, we were still alone in our exam room. I like to think of myself as a patient person, but had that been a doctor appointment for me, I would have said something long before the hour mark.

Here is the thing, this internal medicine practice is part of a larger Animal Hospital, including an ER. Melvin, Jake and Doug have all been ER patients there so I know those ER patients sometime require the specialist you are supposed to be seeing. We have been to this hospital so many times; some of those times we were the ones leaving with high fives and sometimes we were the ones leaving in tears and desperation.

But every time we have been there, regardless of issue, I have always left with the boys.

Jake’s eye ulcer ruptured and he was seen by ER and then they eye surgeon did her magic. That ER took care of Jake when he was choking on a bird. Melvin and Jake both had MRIs and Spinal taps done there. Doug had both leg surgeries done there and they fixed him up after that dog attacked him last summer.

Remember hamburger eye?

IMG_5318

And Wolverine nose?IMG_3696

I got both Melvin and Jake’s terminal cancer diagnosis at the oncology department of that hospital. As terrible as those moments were and as much as my world collapsed, I got to leave with my boys. I got to take them home. We had a little more time.

Here is a photo of Melvin, just because.

IMG_0710

On this Friday, there were many emergencies. There were many hallway tears.  There were many signs that some of the pet parents in the rooms with their loves, would not be leaving with those furry soul mates .

Some had to say final goodbyes.

So Doug and I had all the time that those people needed.  Our appointment would come and go and I had faith that Doug would be fine. What I really wanted to do, was to go to those closed doors and knock gently and make sure that no one was facing that heartbreak alone. To see if we could run up and get some cheeseburgers or donuts for a glorious last meal. To learn their dog’s name and let them know how awesome that dog seemed and that they hit the love jackpot with their owner.

There was a (human) couple there that had been on vacation when their dog started having seizures. Their dog sitter brought the dog in and they returned from vacation and went straight to the hospital. With them, were a couple they went on vacation with. When I said how nice it was of them to come to the hospital with them, the woman said: We have dogs, they are our world too, we get it.

Sigh.

I met a couple who had a boxer who had just gotten a terrible cardiology diagnosis. They told me how they had been spending extra time with their older boxer since they felt his time was coming, and then as it turns out, their six-year-old girl is the one that has a heart condition.  We spoke about how we do our best. The man part of this couple had been attacked by dogs (many times) growing up.  He was kind and understanding and as he told the story of those attacks, he gave forgiveness for each dog. The dog was not socialized, it was not that dog’s fault. One dog was older and maybe I startled him.

His empathy, made my day.

That is when I realized, my tribe, is absolutely always, the people in a waiting room at a veterinary hospital. Doug and I were eventually seen and as we were leaving, our friends called out ‘Douggggggggggg!’, or they ran over to give him some love. A  few even told me that Doug was their therapy dog that afternoon. An ambassador of joy if  you will.

And that is when I turned to each of them, said personal space be damned, and hugged everyone still waiting. We said a prayer for each family we met, and for those whose doors were still closed.

#loveliveson

 

 

Joy.

I get asked a lot about choosing joy. How I choose it over grief, or anger, or uncertainty.  The answer to that is, it is not always easy, but it has become who I am.

I have human moments. I start crying in the car for no reason (ok, fine, when the boys send me songs) and I have to pull over for other’s safety. I get sad and even mad that Melvin and Jake are not here anymore. Work stresses me out. People annoy me. Sometimes, it seems like the day/week is against me.

Choosing joy is not always a done deal. Eventually though, Melvin pops into my mind and love and joy rush over me and well… I have no option but to do as he taught me.

  • Jake and Melvin are not here anymore. But they were here. And were here is way more incredible than never here. And I feel them and I see them in all the beautiful things.
    • My heartbeat, is joy.
  • Doug does things that frustrate me. He is absolutely not the yin to my yang. He sometimes manages to push all my buttons, at once. But the moment I feel the frustration creeping in, I start laughing. Because Doug is, quite literally, powered by joy. He was delivered to my life when I prayed to still be a joy seeker after Jake died. I said the words please help me to continue on this joy journey and the universe said: here you go. Joy powers this one, whenever you are running low on joy, just look at him.
    • Joy still lives here.
  • Sometimes the wrong memories get served up. A moment of frustration with Jake, me wondering if Melvin’s cancer could have been cured had we found out earlier. A day after Melvin died when I was broken and not the best mom for Jake. Life sometimes tries to come at me from all the wrong directions. I do not entertain any of those moments. I did my best, I refuse to be torn down, not after all we’ve been through. So when those moments try to sneak in, I say nope. I go towards the joy. I go towards the moments that mattered, the moments that we won.
    • Joy owns my past.
  • Work stresses me out. Some days I feel like I’m drowning. But there is never a moment that joy doesn’t remind me that this job, that I happen to LOVE, this job has allowed me to give the boys everything they have ever needed. When cancer struck, I didn’t have to worry about whether I could give them the best care possible.
    • Joy is always just around the corner.

Let’s be honest folks, joy does not win (right away) every time. That would be odd and impossible. Sometimes, the grief is way stronger than the joy. Sometimes, the transition from angry to joy filled takes a few days.  I choose joy when I can and I accept that some days it’s going to be harder than other days.

I just don’t see myself ever giving up on the chase. Joy for me, translates a lot of the time, to thankfulness.  I have yet to arrive at a day where I am not thankful for something.

This joy journey all started with Melvin. From day one, Melvin dragged me, forward. I kicked and screamed and he just kept dragging me. One day he stopped for a break, and I had a moment of reflection and I looked back and realized, he’d gotten me through. Where I might have been happier to linger in a sad or difficult situation, he had shown me how to persevere. He changed me. From that point on, every time I looked at him, I felt joy wash over me and I knew with all that I was, that he and I were meant to continue chasing that emotion. He was the original joy for me. The joy catalyst. The one creature in this life that absolutely, every time, no matter what – moved forward with joy in his heart.

I’m just another way that his love lives on. Even saying those words, is joy to me.

We are coming up on the third anniversary of his death. I get haunted by flashbacks of our life three  years ago. But our life is not defined by our end, in fact I’d argue, the end is separate. The end will always come, but the middle, the middle is all ours. What we make of the middle, is what defines who we are. We don’t get to choose our beginning or our end, but we can own the shit out of the time in-between.

Our middle, is joy.

IMG_0446IMG_4294IMG_3201img_0911

He’s Doug.

I have always tried to help champion pit bull type dogs. From friends who have them, to rescues that save them, to campaigns that fight injustices surrounding them. I sort of assumed I would eventually have a pit bull type dog.  Melvin and Jake had their own BSL in place that no dogs of any type could come into our home. Or cats. Or bunnies. You get it. Jake was determined to keep that BSL going after Melvin died.

When it came time to add a dog to a home where no other dogs were, having a blank slate was so strange. I could bring any dog in. Any breed. Any personality. Any size or gender. There were only a few things on my NO list. I didn’t want a special needs dog at that point.  A dog with needs like Jake would have felt more like a fill in. I wasn’t ready to nurture like that again,  I was still reaching for Jake. I also did not, and still do not, want a yellow lab.

During that time, I met all the dogs, all the breeds. I just wanted the right dog for me.

Every dog I met, I had a breakdown over. If you recall, Jake died and on top of losing him, the house was empty. I wanted a dog to solve one of those issue because both of those issues together was just too much.

Then I saw Doug.

Doug brought life back to this home. He was crazy, and spastic, and did I mention how crazy he was? I was not sure what his breed was, he was definitely a mix. When I got him DNA tested, I hoped he’d come back part pit something. But a part of me also worried about that. Not because of myths or stories not based in fact, but mostly because at the time, he was not well-behaved and if he was a pit, we were going to have to work extra hard, harder than other dogs would have to. That excited me and pissed me off at the same time. I’m Doug’s mom and even I was looking at him with extra expectations. I then realized that I in fact, expected no less or more of him than I did of Melvin or Jake. The issue was likely going to be, that others would expect more from Doug. Others are not the boss of us. My goal for Doug is the same as my goal for all my dogs, to give him the best life he can have.

His DNA came back 65% Am Staff and 25% English Bulldog.

Knowing his DNA changed one thing and one thing only.  I was so proud to be his mom. I would be his voice, always.

Most people who see Doug come toward him and say is he an English Bulldog? I first say, he’s Doug. I usually wait until he is wiggling and wagging around them and making them laugh before I say oh so proudly: actually, he’s mostly Am Staff with a little English Bulldog mixed in. 

Some stop petting him. Their loss. Others dive in even more with a what an awesome mix to have! Those people are our tribe.

When people ask worriedly about his past, I tell him that Doug and I live in the present. Since the day we met, he has only known love. He is quite literally, powered by joy.

He is love and joy and Am Staff and bionic and always hungry and always happy and always zooming. He is Doug.

He is all mine. Haters beware, momma is the one you need to worry about.

The only thing I require of Doug, is to live his best life.  Check, check.

IMG_E8756

Doug is crazy.

We are almost six months post recovery on all of Doug’s surgeries. We have a few daily reminders that he is part metal. I can see and feel the hardware in both legs (I do not enjoy either of these), extremely cold temps make him creaky and sore, and he cannot go up steps very quickly.  In fact, he goes up as slowly as Jake did. True story.

But aside from those things, he cray. Like he is fully back to being BAT SHIT CRAZY.

If Doug had a car, it would have a bumper sticker that said zoomies-R-life and that car would sit in the garage because Doug would rather run to wherever he is going. Doug is constantly in motion. I forgot that he is impossible to keep weight on until we went to the vet and found out he lost six pounds. SINCE DECEMBER!

He runs in the morning, the afternoon and the evening. No time of day is left out. He is an equal opportunity zoomist.

Luckily for me, the thing he does 2nd best after zoomies, is sleep all night. He usually puts himself to bed by 9 and if I don’t wake him, he sleeps until 9 the next morning. It’s a simple life, sleep, zoom, zoom, bark at Bob, sleep.  Zoom. He eats in there somewhere, but clearly his metabolism does not notice.

There is a FB page for folks going through leg surgeries like Doug had. I stay on it because they were so helpful when I was going through Doug’s back to back surgeries so I want to provide support to newbies going through the same. So many of the people who are finishing up surgery one are afraid to let their dogs resume activity. I totally get it, it’s very overwhelming. The only reason I was able to do it, rather easily is, I WAS TERRIFIED OF NOT LETTING DOUG RESUME ZOOMIES. He was an inmate for five months. If he did not get to run when he did, the warden was gonna suffer a brutal coup.

Doug does not recall that he was ever incarcerated. I opened the door for that first bionic zoom session and he never looked back. I am actually glad that we got both legs done back to back because a lot of folks have to live in fear of the other leg tearing. That said, Doug’s legs will never be right. They are barbie legs, put on backwards. He is always going to struggle. But he’s good enough. And good enough is really great.

Bionic legs. Bionic butt. Bionic attitude. Powered by joy.

IMG_8535

The Bobs.

Update on Doug’s arch enemies cat siblings.

I have not seen Bob #1 in a long time. I am not sure what happened. She is microchipped to me and no one has called to say that she has been injured or killed. My guess is that she has either died (perhaps in a remote area or in the sewer) or she’s relocated. I obviously hope it’s the latter. Bob #1 and I never really bonded. Not just because of the allergies but also because she’s sort of a raging bitch and she really does not seem to like humans. Especially me. Which is totally fine, but it’s defiantly hard to bond with someone who you fear might chew or claw your face off.

Bob #2 on the other hand, is doing great. He comes to eat daily. He meows in the driveway to let Doug know he’s here. This fires Doug up so he rams the widow and viciously barks at Bob #2. Bob #2 just sits and torments him and laughs in a funny cat-sibling sort of way. Bob #2 also seems to like me. He will come pretty close to me and he watches me pour his food so I’m pretty much the best person ever to Bob #2. I even bought a water filtration bowl that holds a gallon of fresh water so he doesn’t have to drink sewer juice. If that doesn’t scream love from a deathly cat allergic person, I don’t know what does.

IMG_8369

Funny thing about Bob #2, I love him. I mean if he hasn’t come to eat on any given day, I worry and I go outside and start meowing like a crazy person.  Then it gets stranger because I start calling out Bob, Bob, BOB!.

IMG_8367IMG_8376

As for naming, we were going to go with Carl. But since there may only be one Bob now, he may just stay Bob. We are going to give it a few more months and if Bob #1 is really gone, we’ll make it official that Bob #2 is Bob. Just Bob. No number. Regardless, his middle name is most definitely Poop, because six-year olds choose the best cat names.

 

 

Melvin man.

Thirteen years ago today, at some point, my life was set on a path. I didn’t know it that day. It would be three years until I understood the magnitude of this date, one so great, as to change my life and my purpose, forever.

Today is Melvin’s birthday. He would have been 13.

There are parts of me so full of joy that he was born, that we found each other, that I got to love him. Oh man, that I got to be the one to love him is so much of everything that it is in fact, everything. Me. I was chosen. I’m infinitely grateful for everything about him.

I have never wanted to be by a dogs side as they grew older, more than I did with Melvin. Every year, he was more soulful, our connection more spiritual. I cannot imagine anything more delicious than Melvin being 13. I would have been honored to care for him, to linger longer on walks, to stare into his always loving eyes.

Melvin and I were not meant to grow older together. He is forever ten. Same goes for Jake, he is forever eight.

On Melvin’s birthday today, I will celebrate love. I will celebrate all the moments I had with him, and all the moments I’ve had becasue of him.

Today, I choose joy.

Maybe, just maybe, Melvin and Jake, were preperation for me guiding Doug as he grows older. Maybe Doug will be, my old dog.

Time will tell. Melvin will guide us. Love lives on.

This was my last birthday letter to Melvin, on his tenth birthday. The day after that birthday, he was diagnosed with Hemangiosarcoma.

We still won.

9 4 13

 

Rogaine Joe.

I have been looking at Doug and trying to figure out what is different about him. It took me a few days but I realized that the spots on his back, his dark skin spots (not his brown cow patches), have been getting darker.  Then I realized that the spots were not actually getting darker, but instead, his hair was falling out, thus I could see the spots better.

Here is Doug from one year ago.  IMG_2126

Here is Doug from this past December.IMG_7802 (1)

Here is Doug now. Please note the very fancy line I added to show exactly where the hair loss starts.  I’m so scientific. IMG_8408

I posted the situation on our FB page and there were so many AWESOME ideas of what it could be – seriously, you guys are the best! We went to the vet, got some tests done and:

  • It’s not fleas (I would have moved). Once we were settled in a new, non-flea home, I would have sued since he is on preventative.
  • It’s not mites. I itch every time someone says mites. Jake had mites 3 years ago. Still makes me itch.
  • It’s not his thyroid.

The experts in our life all agree, it is (maybe seasonal) Alopecia. Doug is going bald at 2! Of course he is, he’s mine, would you expect anything less?

We will see if it is actually, seasonal. It does make sense. He was in jail during last spring and summer so anytime he was outside, I either had his sunscreen shirt on or I had him under a tarp. He was on movement restriction and he would get too hot if the sun was beating down on him. So he did not get a ton of sunshine last year. Add that to him hating the cold (so he does not spend a lot of time outside without a fleece and coat and snood) and poor guy needs some vitamin D-oug!

It is bright and sunny today – we have gone from 30 to 70 to snow and back to 70 in four days and although climate change is apparently not real, our options for sun exposure are limited for a month or two more. He is sunning up as I type this. In the meantime, he is has also been put on 6mg of Melatonin, twice a day.

He has no comb over options so either the hair grows back or he is gonna need a t-shirt wardrobe. Also, and this is just to reiterate that Doug is ALWAYS in motion, he has lost 6 lbs since the start of winter (which was precisely when he got back to his zoomie-rific self). He had gained a few pounds during lock down, so this puts him at his ideal weight but I had sorta forgot his ability to burn through all calories.

Also, just to give a good Jakey laugh – Doug only weighs 10 lbs more than Jake did.

  • Melvin,  82 lbs, 18 inch neck.
  • Jake, 35 lbs, 18 inch neck.
  • Doug, 45 lbs, 18 inch neck.

Maybe this blog should be called 18-inch neck.

 

 

My little deviant.

Is Doug a weirdo? Yes. Absolutely. Maybe. Do I love him no matter what? Of course.

  • Doug is most attracted to, himself. He will go outside and pee. Then he will turn around and deeply (more deeply than what is considered normal behavior) breathe in the smell of his own pee. He will then walk a few steps, and go back and smell his pee, again. He has actually come in, then barked to go right back out, only to re-re-smell his pee.
  • There are some things dogs do when they are sexually aroused.  The common one for boys is of course the red rocket. But when they smell or taste something that arouses them, they do this really fast tongue flicking (like rolling r’s). Doug does this when he smells or tastes his own pee. I honestly think he is dating himself. I also think the relationship is going great.
  • He whops off, in front of people. You may have other terms for this, like jerking-off. Whatever you call it, he does it. You might be sitting there, minding your own business, only too look over  to him and he’s whopping off. Middle of the day. Middle of the floor. Zero shame or F’s given. (I have video of this but it is NSFW. Wait, that def makes me sound like a dog porn director but I am just an innocent bystander to all things Doug). I once caught him whopping off via the mudroom camera when I wasn’t home (this one is more suitable for work – I mean I guess, I don’t know).  You may be wondering if Doug cares if I share this. He absolutely does not care. I live with him.  I know.

 

Here is a photo of Doug and a separate photo of his, saucy, valentine. True love.

It’s a boy!

So maybe you will recall that after Bob (the feral cat that I thought was a boy, but was really a lady cat, and she had kittens and I got her fixed and now she’s chipped to me but roams the means streets of our hood), Bob 2 showed up.  Bob 2 looked so much like Bob one that I didn’t even know they were different cats for a while. Then I realized that Bob 1 has two eye patches and Bob 2 has one.

Cat math is hard.

I am pretty certain that Bob 2 is the child of Bob 1. When we trapped Bob 1, we were not sure if all her kittens were accounted for. I have been feeding Bob 2 for about six months.

So recently Bob 2 was trapped (accidentally when we were trying to trap my friend’s missing cat). Since I have been feeding Bob 2, I claimed him/her and s/he went to the vet for the snip, snip.  Obviously by the title of this post you can figure out that Bob 2 is a boy! We didn’t know this until the vet was able to take a looksy.

He was chipped to me, released back into my yard and he comes to eat every morning and night again.

Also, I’m still deathly allergic to cats.

I have no idea what to call Bob 2. Here are some ideas, feel free to vote on one or add your suggestion and we will formally name him this weekend.

  • Bob 2
  • Bobb
  • Carl
  • Oreo
  • Poop (suggested by a six-year-old)
  • Sherry (same six-year-old)

If anyone is wondering what Doug thinks of Bob 2.  He hates him. He barks viciously and rams the window when he hears him meowing.  That said, if Doug ever comes face-to-face with Bob 2, he would paws-up surrender and cry and jump into my arms for safety.

IMG_8327

Letters from Heaven. Letter three.

Hey Doug, it’s me, Jake.  How’s it hanging homey?

Your legs seem to be doing better. Only one dog can own wonkalicious and that is me, brother.  You’re going to have to get your own nickname. I was thinking you could own zoomiezombie!

I have been sending you some high fives from Heaven.  You try to chase birds, in flight!  Dude, you are awesome! You run, while they fly, and then you ram into the fence.  Hahahahahaha – oh brother, I really wish I was there with you, we would destroy those birds.

I also really, really, really appreciate how viciously you bark at Bob #2.  I mean s/he runs when you ram up against the window at her/him.  You and I both know that you would crap yourself if s/he ever saw you without the protection of the window. But good for you brother, you make me proud.

We noticed that you are finally not a spaz in the big bed.  That bed has a really beautiful history of naps with her (she called them migraines but they were naps), we were starting to think you were going to darken our legacy, but you finally calmed the F down.

Things here are great. We miss her, a lot. We send her signals that we are there with her and she catches every single one. She is so smart. Melvin and her talk all the time. He says it is his joy and purpose, on earth and in Heaven, to be her guardian angel.  I love her too, but I keep pretty busy making sure this place stays bumpin! I greet all the new dogs like I own the place!

We added a few to our gang recently, Sally – I know how much you love her brother, she’s here and she’s doing great. She is my spirit animal. She and I will probably get married. She is just impossible not to love.  Massey is here, I used to fence fight him but come to find out, he’s a cool, chill dude. He’s running (he is so fast) and jumping and keeping an eye on his family. Guinness is here now. That dude is so awesome, like I secretly watch him so I can learn his moves. He’s still pretty focused on letting his mom know he’s ok and that he’s with his sisters. I have a feeling he and I will get leather gang vests at some point (Sally will totally get one too). Diamond just arrived. Corbin leapt over like six hundred dogs to meet her! She lived the longest of all of us and she said that despite all her years, all she recalls is the love over the last few years with her mom.

Hey Doug, that time of year is coming up, the dates when she found out that Melvin and I had cancer.  Those dates still haunt her a little.  She tries really hard to forget them, but she can’t, because they are linked to us. So on February 9th and March 3rd – be extra saucy or snuggly. Keep her mind focused on joy. We are counting you.  Don’t let me down bro.

We still have bets on you. You are such a wild card.  I think you will still turn out like me. Weird legs, troublemaker, badass.  But Melvin thinks you will be soulful, like him and Max (boring!).  Either way, we made a really great choice in sending you to her. We can tell you love her like we love her. And it’s ok that she loves you every bit as much as she loves us. Love is supposed to live on. We only want her happy and safe.

Ok brother, I gotta go, my peeps need me to start this day with some Jakey funk!  Keep chasing the birds, I’ll be right next to you, hoping you catch one!

Love,

Your hero mentor brother, Jakey.

IMG_6086

 

 

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!

IMG_8080 (1)

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.

IMG_8123IMG_8112IMG_8093IMG_8123 (1)IMG_8122

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.

The odd couple.

A couple of friends and readers have lost their dogs recently.  The most asked question in my inbox is along the lines of:

How I got through losing Melvin or how I get through without him. And/or, how did I survive losing Melvin and Jake, back to back.

I don’t cry everyday anymore. Every so often, something will pop into my mind and the joy I feel for that memory will overwhelm me and I’ll have to stop what I’m doing and let some tears flow. I still stay goodnight to Melvin and Jake every night, but long gone are the days when I cry myself to sleep. Everyday, there is a beautiful reminder of them.  Sometimes its Doug doing something one of them would totally of done.  Sometimes its Doug being terrible and I remember how Jake used to leap off the couch onto Melvin’s head.  Sometimes, the blanket at the foot of the bed feels a little heavier over my feet, and I pretend it’s Melvin. Sometimes the reminders are obvious, sometimes I have to look a little harder to find the joy. No one said joy is always easy.

I had a moment on New Years day when I realized I can no longer say that Jake died ‘last year’. Time is both an enemy and a friend.

The answer to how I got through, starts at Melvin.

Melvin was the one thing that was supposed to happen to me in this life. The one thing that would drive who I was to become. It’s not to say my life before him wasn’t spectacular or without meaning.  My life before him was wonderful preparation. For all the joy that was about to explode in my heart.

Melvin made me a better person. He pointed me in the right direction. He taught me to choose joy, to have patience, to make kindness reign supreme. He taught me love. The type of love that requires that we take action, to make life easier for others. To love, even when it requires forgiveness. To choose joy, over all other things.

At some point, Melvin became Melvin and Jake. Jake became Melvin’s plus one. Eventually, there was no,  just Melvin.  At that point, it was impossible to have one without the other.  Especially, when Melvin died.

Melvin’s love lived on in both Jake and I. Jake became my beautiful link to Melvin. We had to learn to reach for joy through our grief. As for Jake dying a year after Melvin, well that was pretty much the universe sucking and being as hurtful as possible and there were some dark moments and I screamed and threw my fists (and a lot of karate kicks) at joy.  Then Doug’s face showed up on Facebook, and he disrupted the sadness. Sometimes joy shows up in disguise and you must have faith it will work out. Even when it’s trying to eat your feet.

I carry Melvin and Jake in my heart. Melvin is still with me, guiding me. Reminding me that joy is what I make of it. Reminding me of how much patience he had with Jake, at the exact moment Doug is driving me nuts. And Jake is the reason that when Doug had back to back surgeries, I didn’t stay in a ‘poor Doug’ state.  I was thankful we had what we needed to make it through. And we did. Jake moves me forward.

I got through losing Melvin, because of Melvin and Jake. I got through losing Jake, because of Melvin and Jake. I love them more today than I did yesterday. I feel closer to both of them (Melvin especially), right now than I ever have. Life put them into my life when it just as easily could have put them somewhere else. We found each other and that is where our story starts.  As for where it ends, well it doesn’t.

Love lives on.

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.

IMG_7852IMG_7854

Sally.

My friend (next door neighbor, sister), Virginia and her family, lost their dog recently.

Lost is a very simple word for a very terrible moment.

Sally should still be here.

Before I tell you how Sally left this world, let me first tell you how she became to be a dog I love. There is a rescue group in Northern Virginia called Lost Dog & Cat Rescue. They have a ranch in our area where dogs, who are not in foster, are housed until they find homes.  A few years back, during a polar vortex, they lost power.  Lost Dog put out an urgent plea via social media for people to take animals in for a day or two until the power could be restored.

Virginia, and her giving heart, immediately responded ‘of course’. They were assigned a dog to pick up the next day. When Virginia and her kids went to get the dog, Sally came running out and leapt into their arms. Sally was not the dog they were signed up to get that day, but Sally was the dog they took home. Sally was just meant to be.

The Polar Vortex came and went. The power was restored.  Sally never returned to the ranch.

Sally, was a Dachshund mix. She was probably 6ish when Virginia and her family took her in. She was a man-hating, bitch and bad ass. True story. I loved everything about that saucy dog.

Virginia championed every single thing about Sally. Sally would go nuts over men coming into the house (not in the fun nuts way, more in the let’s kill men nuts way).  Virginia could have put Sally in a room whenever a strange male came over, but instead, she would explain Sally to said male, and ask him to work with them on getting Sally more comfortable.IMG_2507

We should all be so blessed as to have a Virginia to explain our odd behavior and plead for understanding for us.

In return, Sally loved Virginia the most. The most of all the family and the most that a dog can love her person.

A few weeks ago, Sally got out of the house.  It was the accident we all fear, a door was not closed completely and she was tiny enough to wiggle out.

She was hit by a car.

I was at Virginia’s house when this happened. Her two youngest children came running in, screaming that Sally had been hit. The world started moving in slow motion. In the next sixty seconds, Virginia scooped up Sally, she and I got into my car and headed for the vet. The vet is one mile away.

Sally died in Virginia’s arms on the way.

DSC_0177

There are honestly no words to describe what an incredibly horrible moment this was in life. Anyone who has ever lived through anything like this, just hopes it never happens to anyone else.

Sally’s life began and ended in Virginia’s arms. She was loved fiercely. She was a little dog who left a huge void.

The car that hit Sally, didn’t stop. They slammed on their brakes, ran her over and sped off. In front of children. So today, and tomorrow, and all the other days when we find ourselves in neighborhoods where families live and love and dogs and cats live and love…please slow down. #slowdownforSally. And should an accident ever happen, and accidents are going to happen, please stop and do the right thing. Do it because you are a good person.  Do it for Sally.

IMG_2505

Dearest Sally, I hope to one day have half the spunk you had for life. Thank you for accepting Doug, you are the one and only female he ever adored. You will be loved and missed, forever. xoxo

Happy Birthday, Baby!

Doug is the first dog I have ever had where I got to make up his birthday. Even with Melvin and Jake being rescues, I got copies of their vet records and knew their birth dates.

Doug is two!

I don’t know if two will look much different from one, I am going out on a limb and say there should be fewer surgeries!

Doug – you are crazy, I have no idea what to do about you a lot of the time but you fit perfectly into my heart.

I love you. I’m excited to embark on the adventure of getting you safely to three!

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