Archive for September, 2011

The Last Puppy?
September 23, 2011

(one very happy, wet dog after playing in the sprinkler!)

There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.
~Ben Williams 

Today, I actually said the following: “I think this will be the last time we have a puppy.” 

It’s been 8 years since Bailey blazed into our lives, the little toot. Of course, we had our fine Shadow to mentor him, and I recall that it was a pretty painless puppyhood, mostly  because Shadow bore the brunt of his puppy antics. 

Dear Shadow, now I better understand and appreciate how much you resented little Bailey, because now I am taking the brunt of Tucker’s puppy antics; Tucker is constantly  looking to me to entertain him, and I’m falling down on the job. 

My recollection of 15 years ago, which is hazy at best, was that Shadow was the perfect puppy, easily trained and consistently obedient. I don’t remember Shadow’s ever being such a toot, rather he was an old soul to begin with. 

There was only one time he really got in trouble, and that was when he nibbled the corner of Joel’s briefcase. He got the “what for”, and he never nibbled on any “off limits” items ever again. Shadow was quite the gentleman, and I don’t recall that he was ever willfully disobedient. 

(except there was that one time in his twilight years, when his groomer, Susan, arrived, and he hightailed it south, just as fast as his arthritic legs would go… When I caught up with him, I think he was a little embarrassed; he was stoic about returning to face his ordeal.) 

Just a month ago, Tucker also blazed into our lives, albeit with a decided handicap, which we embraced and corrected, with all the baggage that surgery, feeding tubes, conehead paraphernalia and extra TLC entail. 

This puppy is a TOOT on the scale of a Bailey, but without the guidance of a Shadow. So it’s up to Joel and me to guide him into greatness, a la Shadow, but without the benefit of Shadow’s serene nature. 

I sometimes find myself totally exhausted by monitoring Tucker’s activities, especially being watchful when he’s in his “Jaws” mode. Trying to distract a teething puppy from chewing on inappropriate things involves a lot of “NO! Leave it! Drop it!” and scrambling to replace it with an appropriate chewy. He picks up EVERYTHING in his mouth outside. I think he ate a cigarette butt the other day (left by workmen on our street). 

(I’m chewing on something on Mom’s approved list here!)

I simply cannot let him out of my sight. 

We practice training skills daily, beginning with a long walk (he heels naturally, and doesn’t pull like Bailey… a big plus). Then there is a lot of playtime, and some school, where we drill on things like “sit, shake, speak, down, roll over, come, go, stay, jump, quiet, upstairs, downstairs, fetch, drop it”. Tucker is doing great at picking up these commands, but still needs to work on consistency. 

Sometimes Tucker is perfectly on the mark, and other times, he is stubbornly resistant. I never punish his intransigence, but rather I praise his obedience. 

We go outside A LOT; there have been no accidents for quite awhile. I also sit on the floor for much of the day and fling toys to and fro for fetching purposes. Or we go up and down the stairs (a good way to burn excess energy!). But playing in the sprinkler is the best fun! 

(herding the sprinkler with wild abandon!)

Then there are the puppy hours, which means early to bed and early to rise. If that means I’ll be healthy, wealthy and wise, well, that would be a bonus. But I sometimes wish that Tucker would sleep in every once in awhile! I don’t get to take long naps like he does during the day. 

(nap time, right behind Mom’s desk chair)

However, I keep telling myself to not wish the time away, but instead try to enjoy these intensive puppy days.  He is just so cute and very sweet natured. 

Sometimes I can’t help thinking ahead to when he is grown up, but oh, how sweet it is when he cuddles in, puts his head on my shoulder and snuffles in my ear… it’s moments like these that I don’t want him to grow up at all. 

Looking on the bright side of our Tucker’s development, we are hopeful that he will be a laid back little fellow. Lately we have had swarms of men from the Memorial Villages Water Authority invade our yard to rehabilitate the sewer lines, which run along our eastern and northern boundaries. There are bulldozers rumbling and generators roaring, trucks coming and going, and just causing a big, noisy mess. 

Tucker has taken it all in stride as just a normal day at home. Bailey would have been a total nervous wreck with all the uproar and unpredictable aspects of this project. 

But Tucker doesn’t react to the noise, greets each man with a wag of the tail, and has not barked at any of them. If I had wanted a watch dog, I guess that wouldn’t be a good thing, but since I just want a mellow, friendly dog, that is a plus! So far, that’s what Tucker has turned out to be… 

Doorbell rings? He thinks it’s a new friend! And thankfully, he doesn’t bark.   

It’s the same when we go to the vet’s office. Bailey and Shadow would both quake and tremble, but Tucker prances in jauntily, in spite of all the procedures he has had there in his little puppy life. It’s just normal to him. I’m crossing my fingers that this attitude will last his whole life long. 

As you can tell, it’s been quite a BUSY month, and will continue to be so until Tucker has matured and settled into being the fine dog he was born to be. Day by day, we are getting closer to that goal, but there is much work yet to be done. 

In His infinite wisdom, I think God decreed it that young women with boundless energy and stamina raise up babies. But He didn’t say anything about puppies and tired, older women! 

Which is why I have to ask myself, “Will I ever raise up a puppy again?” Joel says yes, that I will forget how hard it is and fall in love with another pup someday. I’m not so sure. Ask me again in a few months! 

Note: pewperson will return on Oct. 7.


The Continuing Adventures of Tucker
September 16, 2011

Scratch a dog and you’ll find a permanent job.  ~Franklin P. Jones 

Puppies are time consuming little scamps! Or time wasting, if you consider all the hours I have simply sat on the floor and either played with Tucker, taught him tricks or just cuddled with him. Then there are all the outside ventures, whether walking him on a leash or just running free, wandering around the yard, plus trips in the car to acclimate him to riding about.  I guess that’s not really wasting time, if the end result is a happy, well mannered dog. But I sure am not getting much done besides the above mentioned things! 

All my usual impulsive outside  activities (whether running, gardening, shopping, going out for meals) are out, or rather they must be carefully planned and not last for any lengthy duration of time. But I know that as Tucker gets older, this phase will eventually transition to the next, when he can be trusted to not have accidents or chew on things. 

I need to remind myself to not wish the time away, and just enjoy his puppy days!

In the meantime, we went back to the vet this week for a follow up appointment. I thought I’d save myself a trip and bring the kitties along for their annual checkup. This is always a comical experience, rounding them up, stuffing them into a crate, enduring their wails all the way there, lugging them into the office and finally getting them up on the examining table, where they refuse to leave the crate from which they had just tried to escape earlier in the routine. 

Tucker helpfully followed along on his leash… good dog! 

He had a good check up; his mouth looks great, and he gained another pound! They gave him a few inoculations, which I always hate, but I know they are important. 

But then I had the vet check a spot on his right flank that he had been chewing, and they discovered a large “hot spot”, which is always an ugly sight. They shaved him down to expose it and treat it with an antibiotic salve, and of course, he is not to bother it. 

Good luck with that! I told them I had a soft Elizabethan collar at home; all I had to do was get him there before he chewed any more. All the way home, I shouted “Leave it! Leave it!” At least the cats were silent, grateful to be done with all the indignities they suffered. 

Once home, I discovered that he was NOT going to put up with that collar, no way, José! So now what was I going to do? I had some of the bitter apple spray, but I knew it would only last for so long. Then I got the idea to cut off the top of a tube sock and stick him inside like a little sausage. But I couldn’t find one big enough to pull over his fat tummy. 

I rummaged around some more and found an old neck warmer from my snow skiing days. Eureka! It was exactly perfect, and while Tucker didn’t exactly like it, at least he tolerated it and couldn’t bother his wound. But when he went outside to pee, I would have to pull it up, so he didn’t pee into it. 

I think he was embarrassed about having to wear that turquoise band around his middle, just like I imagine many dogs whose owners dress them up are.

(not my dog. And not a happy dog)

Next thing I knew, it was off! I suppose it was foolish of me to think he wouldn’t bother it. 

So it was back to the collar, poor, pitiful thing. After I left him to run a short errand, I discovered that it was really too small, because he could still reach the hot spot in spite of the collar. Argh! 

This time I bundled Tucker in the car to take him with me to the pet store to make sure I got a good fit. One of the staff helped me, and I got one that worked. 

Or so I thought. Once he was out of my sight, he managed to work on his spot AGAIN, which means a tighter cone and a very unhappy puppy. First it was the tight binding around his feeding tube, and now this.

But he’ll just have to deal with it for a week, and then it’s BACK to the vet for yet another follow up appointment. We’ve made it this far, and I know we can overcome this setback, too.

(Have they named the new wing after us yet?) 

p.s. Tucker’s breeder told me a trick to try. Guy said to spray Tinactin powder spray on the spot to help it dry up and keep it from itching. It seems to have really helped; Tucker is much more quiet now that the itch isn’t driving him crazy.

What caused the itch? I don’t know! I’d like to know. Parasite? Unlikely. Allergy? With his recent liquid diet and prescription food, also unlikely. Hot weather? Maybe? Certainly we will be on alert as to a cause, so we can make sure it doesn’t happen again.

It Was Just One of Those Days
September 9, 2011

I was an accomplice in my own frustration. ~ Peter Shaffer

It all began with a yellow triangle with an exclamation mark inside. “It” being a series of small frustrations that escalated into one giant one, resulting in my not being my usual polite self. 

The triangle thing on my computer screen indicated that I had no connectivity to the internet, which was irksome mostly because I was supposed to be updating the content on the arts pages on our church’s new website. Since the operating system was new to me, it was going to take some study, trial and error and then time to actually work on the pages. Oh, did I mention the site goes live on Sunday? No pressure. And no internet! 

Argh! It had been months since I last had such a problem. Why now? So I tried all the tricks in my decidedly low tech book, like unplugging the modem and router, waiting, plugging them back in, rebooting, etc. Problem is that the modem and router are way up on top of the bookshelf, which requires climbing atop a ladder to access. 

No luck. I gave up and called Comcast. Surprisingly, it didn’t take long, and the woman did something on her end to make the yellow triangle disappear. All my new e-mails then popped up, and I was so happy! I began to answer the ones that needed attention, only to notice they were still sitting in the outbox. The dreaded yellow triangle was already back. 

Double Argh!! Hello Comcast? This time I got another woman who had me try something else, which did nothing. She then announced that I needed a new modem, and that I could either go to a storefront and exchange it or she could have a man come out next Tuesday. 

Triple Argh!!! Did I mention I was trying to update web content by Sunday? So I added “go to Comcast store (on Tidwell at 290)” to my list of things to do on Friday. 

Friday morning began with a puppy who needed to go outside (good Tucker!). Early was good, especially with all the things to do on my list. I left Tucker with Joel until it was time for him to leave for work, at which point he kenneled him for his own safety. And I headed north on the Beltway to pick up an engraved award plaque I had left the day before.

As I headed north of I-10, I could see the southbound traffic was dead stopped all the way to my destination (near the horse track). Note to self: Go home via an alternate route. Inside the store, I was more than a little peeved to learn that my order wasn’t going to be ready for another two hours. 

Quadruple Argh!!!! I steamed out of there, obviously unhappy and unsure how to get home. But I wiggled my way south of the race track and found 290, got my bearings back and rushed on to finish my other errands, mindful of a sweet puppy stuck in his kennel. 

The pet store didn’t have the kind of dog food I needed. I had forgotten my grocery list, so I had to wing it. As it turned out, I got home probably 30 minutes later than I had anticipated, but then I was going to have to make another trip out to the trophy store. Grump grump grump! 

But hallelujah, I returned to discover the yellow triangle was gone! It was a miracle! And I only forgot one item on the grocery list. But best of all, nothing lightens a bad mood like a sweet, silly puppy. Things were beginning to look up! 

I am mindful that all of these minor inconveniences are just that: minor. They pale when compared to the major ones experienced by those who have lost everything due to wildfires, earthquakes, tornados and the like. When I put it all in perspective, my irritation dissipates, and my blessings abound. 

All is well.

Tucker, Take Two
September 2, 2011

My little dog – a heartbeat at my feet.  ~Edith Wharton 

This morning, Tucker’s feeding tube was successfully removed! What a difference it makes for him to finally be free of that hot, itchy, bulky bandage. No more scratching, no more worries on my part that it become dislodged. 

A big plus is that now Tucker can eat things by mouth, rather than through a feeding tube which bypassed his mouth. That taste sense is key to enjoyment, and once he was able to do it again, his interest in meal time has returned. He lets me know when it’s time, which is good, because sometimes I lose track of the hours. 

This week, I decided that despite the presence of his feeding tube and bandage, it was time to be introduced to a collar and leash. As one might expect, there was initial resistance, with much balking and struggling and yipping. You’d think I was torturing the poor little fellow! 

But soon, Tucker was walking alongside me, heeling naturally with only a few tugs to encourage him when he got distracted. We go out several times a day for short distances (too hot to go any farther), and I am looking forward to taking progressively longer walks once things cool down a bit. 

It is remarkable to me to watch Tucker meet and greet people who are strangers to him. Being hand raised has resulted in a dog who loves everyone. For instance, yesterday we were surprised by the yard guys, who were working in the “flower circle” in our driveway. Tail wagging effusively, Tucker greeted them like long lost friends, enjoying the scent of them. I had trouble pulling him away! 

It’s the same at the vet’s office. I had feared that because his initial visit resulted in major surgery, he would be traumatized by the experience and forever quake and tremble on the way to, and at the vet’s office. But not Tucker! He goes in there, smiling and wagging at everyone, and all the staff just love him. When the doctor picked him up to take him back to remove his feeding tube, he got a face full of puppy kisses. 

What a remarkable dog! My theory is that because he feels so much better now, he just loves all the people who cross his path, even if they have to sometimes stick him with pointy things. I am blessed and honored to be the one to raise him up, and I want to do my best to do it right. 

The days just get more and more fun as Tucker settles into a routine and becomes more comfortable with his surroundings. I hate it that I’m missing the annual youth choir retreat this weekend (first time since 1999!), but think it’s best to not leave him in a new, strange place for 4 days, especially during this transition to solid food. 

So, Tucker, it’s just you and me this weekend. Let’s make the best of it and surprise Daddy with some cute new tricks when he comes home on Tuesday!