Oh Doug.

Doug continues to be the most energetic animal I have ever encountered.  Here are some updates on how he/we are doing.

  • We are starting to make progress on him not mouthing me. My feet are less afraid to walk by him and my old bruises are healing nicely.
  • I have embraced our attempt to walk across the country as often as needed and he now only tries to eat the leash for the first ten minutes of the walk.
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  • He does great in the crate (both when I’m gone and at night).  I’m not sure when he will be a dog that can sleep with me (see next bullet point)
  • Doug views me as his playmate. But only in certain rooms, and for the life of me, I cannot figure this out. If I am in the kitchen, he will walk over to see what I’m doing but then he will go do his own thing. If I am in the office, he will either go play and entertain himself (between walks) or he will lay down in the bed in my office. If I go into the TV/couch area, he turns into a maniac and thinks I’m there to play with him and he will bounce off my body from all directions to try to engage me non-stop.  He does the same thing in my bedroom (which is why the crate sleeping arrangement is currently in play).  I’m going to be honest here, I really miss the comfortable areas of my house. Like my couch. I guess I will just have to cook or work in the office if I want to relax.
  • He is doing great with training.  He sits on command, most of the time.  He still won’t sit when I’m trying to sit on the couch though, apparently he does not believe in synchronized sitting.
  • He continues to do great with housebreaking!
  • We went to my nieces soccer game this weekend.  There were tons of people and a lot of activity and he did awesome! He does great in the car too.

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I was thinking about what a handful Doug is and how different he is from what I expected.  I’m not sure expected is the right work, he’s just different from what I’ve had so I guess my idea of how he would be was based on wrong things. Anyway,  I know some of us get up in arms when someone adopts a dog and then has doubts, or calls in a panic that the dog is not what they thought they’d be or that they are not sure if it can work.

If we want a dog to growl, to give us that warning sign that all is not ok, then we have to be more prepared when a recent adopter calls with the same type of alert.

As committed as I am to the dogs, Doug is a lot more work than I ever thought he’d be. He has so much more to learn which means I have so much more to teach him and that can be overwhelming and exhausting for even the most seasoned dog lover. There have been moments with Doug when I think, a first time dog owner would cry with him.  And the thing is, Doug is a great dog. He’s a normal dog. He’s got more energy than I’m used to but it’s still probably a normal amount. He has made me realize I need to figure out a better way to support new dog rescuers. When the dog is biting at your feet and you are worried they will never stop, I can’t come back to them with it won’t always be this way or it will get better.  When someone is overwhelmed in that moment, they need a more immediate idea.  Telling them it gets better will only make them worry more in the here and now because the future feels so far away.

It’s like if you are crying and someone says, don’t cry. Don’t cry? That is all you got? I mean at least go get me a tissue.

To all of you out there just starting off on your rescue endeavor, if you are overwhelmed or unsure or tired beyond recognition, here are some of my truths:

  • It’s hard!  You are not imagining how hard it is! You are both new to each other at first yet somehow you already love this crazy stranger. It takes a while to find a grove, even something resembling a grove. They don’t know what you want and you don’t know what they need. When you hit an a-ha milestone though, it feels so sweet.
  • It is A LOT of work. It is not always going to feel rewarding, in fact sometimes it feels like you are being tortured and maybe on a secret reality TV show. Crying is ok.
  • Some new dog owners do not go through a hard phase. Some of them just continue on as they were pre-rescue and it’s blissful and joyous. And you will be happy for them and still want to make a voodoo doll with a strand of their hair.  Not everyone’s path is going to be the same.
  • There is a reason I didn’t blog during Melvin’s first few years with me; it’s because he was even harder than than Doug is now. I didn’t have time or energy to blog becaue I was begging him to sit still. But you know how Melvin turned out. Melvin was worth every injury, every moment I hid in the bathroom because I was afraid to walk him.  Every time I sat in my car for a moment’s peace before walking in to deal with his exuberance. My love for Melvin is anchored in those early years, from those seemingly impossible rough patches, from those tearful ‘what the F was I thinking getting this dog’ moments.

This dog, yes this Melvin, my Melvin, was a full fledge nightmare the first year I had him.  The first time I had him the car, he busted through the SUV barrier and hopped into my lap while I was driving down a highway at 65 mph.  Poetically, we were on our way to see a behaviorist when that happened. Worth. Every. Single. Minute.photo

 

 

 

 

Hey Doug!

I met 20 dogs over the past seven weeks.  Every single time, while I loved the dog (I love them all!), I’d come home and have a terrible breakdown because that dog, wasn’t Jake. The house was empty, but I wanted Jake. I wanted my boy back.

I kept trying. I kept having breakdowns. Why was I torturing myself? I finally decided to take a break. The moment I decided to do that, a weight was lifted. I knew I would find a dog when I found a dog and it would just have to be ok that there were no dogs here.

That decision, lightened me. My smile started coming back. I found my laughter. I cried when I missed Jake but there were no torturous breakdowns. I needed time to realize that there is no situation that could present itself, even the next dog, where I wouldn’t still want to have Jake back. I accepted that another dog would come and that there could be sadness over the loss and joy over the gain. It didn’t have to be one or the other.

I could breathe again.

A little over a week ago, I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw this:

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I froze, in the warmest way. I saw Melvin in this dog. I saw Jake in this dog. This dog was their love child. My boys sent me this dog, I knew this to be certain. I applied for him immediately. I emailed them to say I must meet him. He was meant to be mine.

There were no breakdowns.

I had a home visit, didn’t cry once.

I bought him stuff (before meeting him), still calm.

Then last Thursday, my friend Virginia and I drove to meet him.

He came rounding the corner in his foster mom’s house and I felt Melvin and Jake. I felt them in his exuberance, in his clumsiness, in his joy.  I also, just saw him, as his own being. This new, beautiful change my life was about to take.

The moment I saw his face in the first photo, I saw a Doug. Face-to-face, he was still Doug to me. He’d found a new name. A new home.

Doug was found as a stray in rural South Carolina. He quickly became a shelter favorite.  The shelter called Pet Connect Rescue and asked if they could take him out or SC and give him a new life in the DC area. The rescue said yes, and Hooty/Doug made his way up North, into foster and now to me.

Here is what I know so far…

  • A lot of things in the house are new to him.  Like garage doors opening. And refrigerator ice maker noises. And mirrors.
  • He was neutered mid-August and the vet estimated him to be 1-2 years old. I worried a lot about 1-2 years old because that was by far the youngest dog I have ever considered. But he was already mine so 1-2 would have to be ok.  Imagine my surprise when I took him to my vet and she said… he is not a day over eight months. My eyes were crazier than Jake’s at that moment!
  • Doug is a puppy. He mouths EVERYTHING. When I try to walk, he tries to put my feet in his mouth. We go on 7,489 walks a day and somehow he still has energy.
  • He has not had a single accident in the house.
  • He puts himself to bed at 7:30pm, and I go get him to keep him up for fear that he will want to wake up at 4am.
  • He has yet to meet a person or dog he does not like.
  • At any moment, he could explode from joy.
  • He is not the dog I thought I wanted.  As it turns out, he is everything that I need.

Especially if what I needed was exhaustion! No seriously, how long are they puppies?

We start obedience training on Wednesday! Amen to training!

As for what breed he is, he’s listed as an English Bulldog mix. I ordered a DNA kit so we’ll def do a contest at some point for guesses.

I can only confirm he’s happy.

As am I.

Don’t be fooled by these photos, he only rests about 14 min a day.

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Flashback Friday – the letter to Melvin’s first family.

I’m going to do Flashback Fridays every now and then as Facebook reminds me of a post from the past that I think is worth re-sharing. This post was from a few years ago, it was a letter to Melvin’s first family, who knew him as Riley.

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A thank you note, to Melvin’s first family.
Posted on August 12, 2014

 

I was torn when I got Melvin, I was happy he was mine but upset that his owners let his health deteriorate It took me a little while to just feel grateful. This letter might have been different if I’d written it when I first got him. With time comes clarity.

Dear previous family of then Riley,

Thank you for deciding to not be dog owners. It’s because of you that my heart is full and my life is happy.

I was told of your frustration with owning Riley, that everyday you’d let him out in a fence-less yard before you left for work and that he’d wander off. You’d probably met some wonderfully well-behaved dogs in your life and you likely assumed Riley would hang out and wait for you while you were gone. Let’s be honest, Riley was not wonderfully well-behaved back then. He was a need-a-fence kinda dog. (To this day his recall is only mediocre). I’m just so thankful he was never hit by a car. They told me how frustrated you were that animal control had picked him up so many times and that on that last time, when they called you said: Keep him. Those two words, changed my life forever. When he left you and came to me he had mange and giardia and massive yeast infections, not to mention his horrible allergies. I want you to know that he’s so much better now, I don’t think you’d even recognize him!

I know that someone, somewhere did something to him with hangers. If that was you, I hope that heavy regret has set in. I pray that whoever it was, if they ever consider getting another dog, that the universe puts a hanger in their path and they’re reminded that they are not dog people. I want to assure you, his current life is free from punishment, what is required from him is only what he has to offer. Some days it’s exuberance, some days it’s sleep. Today it’s regurgitation. It’s all good.

I didn’t like you at first.  But I know now that you and I were meant to unite.  I’m eternally grateful you didn’t allow the vet to put him down. I’m sure many would have seen ‘the worlds most allergic dog’ as a hopeless case. I’m thankful you said  – maybe someone else can help him.  I imagine defeat was hard to admit. Or maybe you celebrated his departure. Either way, that’s okay.

Here’s the truth:  I understand.  I know how much money his medications cost.  I know how expensive his food can be.  I know, that just when I think we’ve spent all we can on tests, more are needed.  He is not the dog for everyone and you didn’t know that when you went and picked him from the litter.  I will probably never be able to retire, but I was able to make that choice freely when I took him.  I really do understand.

His name is Melvin now. He is healthy.  He is happy.  He is my heart.  He knows true love. He personifies joy.  He and I were meant to be together which means you were meant to have him first. I rescue dogs, that means that they each have previous owners, a past that I have zero control over.

Thank you, for giving him up.  You did the right thing. If we were ever to meet you on the street, I know he would greet you with love and understanding and wiggles.

Sincerely,

Me.  His forever.

PS.  No, you cannot have him back.

Sucker.

I love my dog.  I have a blog about my dog.  His face is on my Christmas card.  I am unconditionally committed to his health and his happiness.  That said, there are days, when he frustrates me to my core.  Days when I don’t enjoy him being underfoot, or showing me exuberance when I’m trying to relax.  Days when he does things that he knows he absolutely should not do.  Days when I must reprimand him.  Days when I have to give him ‘the look’ over, and over and over.

These days are few and far between, for the most part Melvin is a sweet boy and his good days outweigh the bad ones 50 to one.  But on those ‘one’ days, after I’ve let frustration speak my words and dirty looks have run amuck, I am always overcome with complete and weighty guilt. Each and every time.  I try to think back on all the occasions my parents reprimanded me, told me to go to my room, left me to wallow in what I’d done.  I’d survived.  But Melvin looks up at me as if he doesn’t know why I’m mad.  And then I convince myself that perhaps he doesn’t know, even though he’s just done the shameful act right in front of me.  Or did he?  There it is again, that look where he tilts his head and seems to say ‘huh?’.

Today is one of those days.  And yes, I just apologized to him for him being a bad dog.