Tag Archive | animals

Pupdate: Duncan

Do you remember that I adopted a new dog?? Well, I know you’re probably itching for an update (haha probably not but I’m going to blab about him anyway) so here goes: he’s awesome!

Grace, Duncan, Jack

I mean, he’s also kind of a butthead at times (he likes to push the other dogs out of the way to get attention) but he balances it out pretty well. He loves attention, loves pets and belly rubs, loves to flop on top of me when I go to bed at night and snore away. He doesn’t chew things up (although he did try to bite my Wonder Woman shawl while I was working on it last weekend. We had a serious conversation after that incident. I think he understood the gravity of the situation and it has not happened again).He loves to play fetch, is the only dog to play with a ball, and he gets my dignified lazy pup Jack out roughhousing and wrestling. And when Jack is tired of it, Duncan moves on to Grace, who is delighted to have someone who will run around and around and around the back yard with her. As I mentioned before, he’s had a bit of a potty issue, leaving us a puddle when we’re gone all day at work/school. I really don’t want to kennel him for a variety of reasons, so we’ve been working with it and hoping it’s partly because he’s adjusting to living with us and partly because he is still a little young. We’ve had a few dry days, so I’m encouraged that we’re at least moving in the right direction. And I am encouraged for another reason too. When we adopted him, he had a small wart on his muzzle, and they said they hadn’t tried to remove it because he was recovering from kennel cough. The wart kept growing, and tiny ones popped up around it, and he had this really gross, bulbous growth. It didn’t seem to bother him at all, but then the more he played with the other dogs, and the bigger it got, it started getting…slightly injured. We took him to the vet and found out he has papilloma virus, similar to what humans get, but the dog version can’t be passed to humans. It’s apparently more common in young dogs, often regresses on his own, and surgery wasn’t really recommended. Okay, fine, we could wait it out. Well, the dogs kept playing, and the wart got injured again, and looked really red and painful, even though he was acting fine. Back to the vet, who said they could remove the warts, but it wasn’t hurting anything as it was. Okay, fine, we’ll give it a few more days and see what happens. That was about a week ago, and it’s gotten so much better! The main wart is much smaller, the tiny ones are almost gone, and the one on his paw is much smaller! I hate to be superficial, but he really is so much cuter without a large wart on the side of his face. And I am loving having three dogs. Yeah, we get more dirt and dog hair on the floors. Yeah, we’re spending more on food. But every day I come home to these three happy pups and my stress disappears. We sit out in the backyard and I love to watch them frolic. I come out of the bathroom and there are three smiling doggos waiting for me. (Yeah, that one’s a little weird, but still cute.) They’re noisy and messy and there’s always at least one dog underfoot…and I love it.

But three is my limit, I’m pretty sure.

The sun really did come out tomorrow!

Figuratively, anyway. We’re still stuck in a long stretch of gray, rainy days. Thanks to those who cheered me on after my rough day! Yes, after my (very) early start yesterday, things got much better. I had a lovely long lunch with two great friends. Funny how something like that can improve your outlook so quickly. I came home and got out the chewed up dog bed to further inspect the damage. Here’s what I saw. IMG_2309That’s all there was, the rest of the bed was fine. This was doable, especially since it didn’t have to look nice. I trimmed the rough edge of the zipper and re-threaded it so I could zip as much closed as possible. Then I just sewed it all closed, making sure to sew around the zipper a bit to keep it closed. I won’t be able to open it for washing, but at least the bed will last a while longer. It’s not pretty but it worked.IMG_2310_2Once that was done, I sprayed it all with the bitter apple no-chew spray and set it aside to dry. Then I moved on to the other bed, the one that had been soiled. It needed a second run through the washer but came out nice and clean. By the time bedtime rolled around, the pups had two good beds again!

But wait, it gets better! I got to sleep until 6:40 this morning AND nothing was chewed up overnight! *CHEERING* Yeah, I got this. These puppies aren’t gonna break me!

Puppy Time

We got our new puppy yesterday! I got tired of waiting to hear from the volunteer-run rescue shelter place, so we drove out to the Great Plains SPCA just to see if anyone caught our eye. We made it all the way through before this little black Lab looked up at us. All the other dogs were barking and she was just watching us. She had this pretty white streak on her chest and little white socks on her back paws. She was a little over nine months old, young like we were looking for, and seemed friendly enough. We arranged for a meeting and she was bouncy and playful and affectionate, and it didn’t take long for us to decide we needed to bring Jack up to meet her. The meeting went well, though they didn’t play immediately like I was expecting. She was a little more aggressive than he was, and he didn’t appreciate her nose going where it went. But they didn’t dislike each other, little growling, no hackles raised, so we figured what the heck, and brought her home.IMG_1458Her name is Grace, and she’s 59 pounds of sweet sass. She’s not quite 10 months old yet so they expect her to get a little bigger. Right now she’s about as tall and long as Jack is, but he’s much stockier. She seems lean and streamlined compared to him.IMG_1461As soon as we got them in the backyard together, they started wrestling, and pretty much haven’t stopped. They’ll take a five-minute break and then they’re back at it. I love that they’re getting along so well, but I had no idea how much space two crazy puppies would take up! Three dogs? Fuhgeddaboudit! But these two seem to be having a ball, so I can handle it. I kind of wish they’d chill out a little bit now and then, but it’ll happen eventually.The best news for me was that they did fine overnight together. Jack has a bed in the kitchen, so we put another bed in there for Gracie, and after a few thumps, it was quiet all night. I woke up to two very bouncy, happy puppies. And a puddle too, but hopefully that won’t last long. She grasps the concept; I think Jack just needs to leave her alone long enough to let her pee when they’re outside.

Really, it’s going better than I expected. I know there’ll be some tension over toys and sticks, but they had breakfast in the same room without too much trouble. The only sad part is that I seem to have lost my cuddle puppy. He won’t lie on the couch with me and when I got up, he didn’t even roll over and ask for his ten-minute belly rub. That’ll come back, right? I sure hope so!IMG_1459

IMG_1472And they do wear each other out, that’s for sure! This is Jack last night after three hours of almost non-stop wrestling:IMG_1466It’s been an adventure already, and I think we’re in for a lot more. I’ve got more dirt and noise than I had before, but I’ve also got a lot of sweet moments. IMG_1467

If you’re thinking about a new furry friend, please check out your local animal shelters first. There are a lot of wonderful dogs out there, and mixed-breeds can be just as fantastic (if not more so) than a pure-bred with papers. In the Kansas City Metro Area we have three big ones: Wayside Waifs, Great Plains SPCA and the KC Pet Project.

Samson: A Special Dog

Many moons ago (in 2001) my parents moved from Missouri, where I live, to Arizona. A couple of years after they moved there, they found a dog running around and managed to catch him. They were able to contact the owner and somehow it was agreed that my parents would keep him. He was a big, beautiful brown-red husky mix that looked rather wolf-like, and he and my dad became best buddies. My mom loved the dog too, but she’s more of a cat person, and plus the dog was just…Dad’s dog. His name was Samson.img293The vet estimated he was around 2 or 3, and he was extremely well-behaved. My dad did a training class with him but didn’t need to work hard. Samson somehow knew what Dad wanted him to do and then did it. His one fault was that he loved to run, and would escape in a flash given the opportunity. I’ve since learned that’s very common with huskies. It made for a few traumatic experiences, but somehow Dad and Samson always got reunited.img215Several years later, in 2011, Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. He went through several months of chemo and radiation and we were all optimistic for a while. But by early 2012, it was clear that he wasn’t going to get better. It took all his energy to get through each day, and he had nothing left for Samson. My mom was the same: she wanted and needed to focus on Dad, and she loved Samson enough that she wanted him to have a happy home and get some loving attention again. I didn’t want a dog really, but neither of my siblings could take him, and I couldn’t bear the thought of Dad’s dog going to strangers. And I think there was a tiny part of me that wanted the dog as a part of Dad. I knew I’d be losing him soon and at least I could hang on to Samson.

He traveled well on the two-day road trip back to Missouri, curled up in his bed in the back of the minivan. He wasn’t eager to leave Dad, but wasn’t opposed either. The worst part was when he got home and Samson wouldn’t eat. I tried dry food and moist food. I tried people food I knew he liked. He just didn’t want to eat. He never had a huge appetite, but it worried me. After two long days, he finally started eating again, and seemed to start settling in to the family.IMG_0841I think he was happy with us. He loved the back yard where he could run around freely. He loved the big tree with all the squirrels. He loved the patches of dirt where he could dig big nests to lie in. Within a few months, he was acting much younger. He’d play outside, running after a ball or playing tug with a toy. When we went on walks, he’d get so excited, jumping and bouncing like I’d never seen before, and he pulled on the leash like he never had with Dad. I know part of it was that I wasn’t truly his person, his boss, but I think part of it was that he knew he could let loose now. He was careful and sedate with Dad because he sensed the fragility in Dad, especially toward the end. Instinctively, he knew we could handle more from him.IMG_0994 IMG_9509The kids adored him, and he loved them too. He was so patient with them, letting them do whatever they wanted to him. I sent happy updates to my parents so they’d know Samson was doing well, and I like to think it brought my dad a little bit of peace. And when Dad died in April of 2012, I was grateful to have Samson there to hug. I couldn’t take care of Dad, but I could take care of his dog.IMG_8433IMG_8503One of my favorite things was to watch Samson in the snow. Being from Arizona, he wasn’t familiar with snow, and the first time we got a big snowfall he didn’t even want to go outside. We lured him out on his leash and within moments he was bounding around the yard joyfully. It was wonderful to see. He was in his element and he was beautiful.IMG_9520Last year we got a big snow, and my daughter took him out for a long walk on Christmas Eve. He loved it, but the next day he seemed extremely tired. He slept a lot, moved slowly and with discomfort, and just seemed…not right. We chalked it up to him being an older dog, almost 11, and worn out and sore from the extra exertion. Within a day or so, he’d mostly recovered, though he still seemed to tire easily.

On the 30th, I let Samson outside and left to run a few errands. He often spent most of the day outside, happily curled up in his nest watching the squirrels, so when I got home and he wasn’t inside, I wasn’t too worried. But when I went outside and called him and got no response, I started to wonder. I called him again, going out further in the yard, and didn’t see him or hear him. I knew he liked the narrow alley between the garage and the fence so I walked back there and found him curled up. He looked up at me when I called his name again and slowly, carefully stood up. I coaxed him out to the yard, scared at how slowly he was walking. It was clearly a lot of effort for him, and I couldn’t figure out why the front of his paws kept getting folded up. I got him inside and called for my husband. We watched as Samson stood there, glassy-eyed and swaying, and agreed he needed to go to the vet. Stupidly, I said I could do it alone.

I got Sam to the car and struggled a bit to help him step inside. He was a big dog, probably at least 75 pounds, so I couldn’t carry him. By the time we got to the vet, he was lying on the seat and had no interest in getting out. I still don’t know how I got him out, but I did, and we made it inside. I signed in and sat down to wait, petting Samson and hoping against hope that he’d be all right. I kept thinking, “But this is my Dad’s dog. He has to be okay. This is my Dad’s dog.”

The vet called us back a few minutes later, but Samson was lying on the floor and nothing I did or said could coax him to stand. I looked at the vet, helpless, and she asked, “Is he sedated?” I shook my head and burst into tears. She came forward to help him stand, and suddenly one of my brother’s friends was there helping. Jake was there with his family and their dogs, and he had his wife hold their dogs so he could help me get Samson into the exam room. I’d always liked Jake and somehow it was comforting to have a familiar face there. He offered to stay with me, but I said I’d be okay, even though obviously I wasn’t.

The exam was quick. The vet noticed his paws immediately and said it was a sign of a stroke, that normally animals know exactly what their paws are doing at all times. He had a heart murmur, was anemic and had poor circulation. She took some fluid from his abdomen, and the blood that came out indicated cancer. By then, Samson was struggling to breathe. She offered surgery as an option, but we both knew it wasn’t the right thing to do.

I called Alex and sat on the floor with Samson while I waited for him to come up with the kids. We all sat around Sam, petting him and telling him we loved him, and then it was time. And even though I knew it was the right thing to do, I hated doing it.

The next day I got rid of every sign of him. It hurt too much to see the bowls, the leash, the food. I donated some of it and gave some of it to my brother for his animals. I couldn’t imagine ever wanting another dog. I hadn’t wanted a dog in the first place, I’d wanted Samson, and I’d lost him too soon. It was horrible. It was like losing my dad all over again, and I was lost in the grief yet again. I missed Samson terribly, so much more than I thought I would. I’d gotten so used to his easy company, his big body leaning against my legs. I regretted all the times I told him to get off the couch, and all the days I didn’t take him for walks. I wished I’d bought him more toys, more pig ears, more rawhides. I wondered if I loved him enough, and concluded that surely I hadn’t. But that’s always how it goes, isn’t it? You never know how much you love someone until they’re gone.

Within four months, I was ready for another dog. I knew we wouldn’t find one as good as Samson. He was smart, sensitive, playful, gentle, intuitive, loving. Samson was everything good and nothing bad, and there are so few dogs out there truly like that. But there are a lot of dogs out there that come awfully close, and I needed that special brand of puppy love again. By the end of June this year, we’d found our new baby, Captain Jack. He’s not perfect, but he’s close, and he’s getting better with every bit of love and training we give him. Jack is my dog in a way that Samson never was. I am his person, and I love that feeling. Thanks to Sam, I know the special joy that comes from loving a dog, and I imagine I’ll be a dog person forever now.

I’m so grateful that I was able to take care of Samson until he could join Dad. I think of them often, picturing them together in the great big dog park in the sky. I’m grateful that this year, I get to ring in a new year loving a dog instead of grieving a dog. When the clock turns midnight, I’ll kiss my husband…and then hug my puppy. And I’ll send a little mental hug out to Samson too, to thank him for being part of our family.IMG_9553

I’m not a Dog Person

I was never a Dog Person. We had tons of pets when I was growing up, but I always preferred the cats to the dogs. Cats were soft and fluffy, cuddly and cute. Dogs were big and messy, noisy and smelly. When my husband and I got married and rented our first house, I was so happy to bring my cats from home to live with us. After that last year of college, they moved with us to an apartment, then to our family home. I liked cats. I was a cat person.

But I tried to be a dog person. After we bought our house, my parents gave us their dog. They were moving and didn’t have a fenced yard, which we did. So we got a big white husky-type mix named Quincy. He was sweet, if stupid, but he had a habit of pooping inside, and he loved to escape. We tolerated it. But then our first baby was born, and suddenly I had a dog following me around as I tried to take care of this fussy, colicky, screaming child. My patience was limited. I couldn’t deal with both, and I confess we gave the dog back to my parents after they’d fenced their yard. Life was simpler with just the cats.

Then my favorite cat died, poor Sasha. I was pregnant with my second child at the time, and the hormones got the best of me. We quickly adopted another Himalayan who we named George. Several months later, we found out our firstborn is allergic to cats. We helped George find a good new home, but the other cat, Beeper, was old. He was my cat. Katie’s allergies weren’t severe enough to warrant rehoming him immediately, so we decided to make it work, and we just wouldn’t get any more cats once Beeper was gone. He made it to 17 years old, poor thing, before his body started giving out in all sorts of ways. I hated to say goodbye but had to do it.

We were pet-free. Somehow we never even considered getting a dog, even though nobody was allergic. We weren’t dog people. Since we couldn’t be cat people, we’d be pet-free people. And in some ways, it was really nice. The house stayed cleaner and smelled better. We could have leather couches without worrying about claws. We didn’t have to clean litter boxes. We had a bit of extra money. We could travel without care. Yes, I could do this just fine!

Then my dad, who was living in Arizona, got sick. After a few months, it became clear that he wouldn’t be able to keep taking care of his dog. Samson was a huge red husky mix around nine years old. He was docile, gentle, and friendly. I liked him. I didn’t love him, but I liked him. Enough that I didn’t want to see him go to strangers. Maybe more importantly, I loved my dad enough that I wanted to take care of his beloved dog. So Samson came home with us.IMG_8381We had Samson for almost two years. Tomorrow it will be a year since we lost him, and tomorrow I’ll tell you his story. That’s what I started to do today, but this post is already too long. I guess the point today is that Samson turned me into a Dog Person. After we lost him, I really thought we would go back to being pet-free people. I donated or gave away all the dog supplies immediately. Samson was special and irreplaceable, and the only reason we had him was to to please my dad. Why would we ever get another animal?

But the house seemed so quiet and empty. I would come home and look in the kitchen door expecting to see a furry smile. I got up in the morning and the kitchen was colder without a soft dog to welcome me. The squirrels ran around our yard happily without a big brown dog chasing them. The snow fell and I couldn’t watch him frolic in it. I didn’t like it.

I lasted four months. It probably only took so long because I had to convince my husband he was ready for another dog. The kids were always ready, of course. So we scoured the animal shelters until we found our dog. We’ve had some struggles and some issues, but they’re worth it. Now I’ve got a sweet dog who snuggles on the couch with me, who plays with my son, who goes on walks with my daughter and on runs with my husband. He fills different needs for all of us, except one: that need to share unconditional love. And there’s no animal better at that than dogs.IMG_0272Yes, I’m a Dog Person now. Thanks, Samson, and thanks, Daddy.

I’ve said it before and will keep saying it: if you’re wanting a new furry friend, please be sure to visit your local animals shelter(s). There are so many wonderful animals needing homes!

Nope, that didn’t happen

Well. That hat I was going to make yesterday? Ha. I was dreaming or something. Despite getting distracted by internet and Grey’s Anatomy my best efforts, I only got about halfway done. So no picture for you today, sorry. Instead I will give you a picture of my charming puppy. And the cheese knife he chewed up this morning. And the Christmas tree he was pondering.IMG_014910410522_10152514534505918_4300276773253809054_n

10406939_10152514589815918_1949842694595031396_nGood thing puppies are cute, eh?

I have errands to run and miles to go before I knit, but I have faith the hat will be complete by tomorrow.

A Dog in Need

I know I blog about knitting and yarn and crochet and all that, but I am a mother first. I have two human children and one furry doggy child, and if any one of them needed help, I would do anything I could to make that happen. I am not alone in feeling that way, and I wanted to take a moment to put a call out there for someone who could use a helping hand, Rory at Kind Spirit Jewelry. This is what she said this morning:

I am really bad at asking for favors but I’m giving it my best shot here. I do quite a bit with helping and donating to animal shelters/welfare groups. I am finding myself on the receiving end this time. My dog has torn his ACL and needs surgery soon. I need to raise around $1000 to fund his operation. His lower leg bone is pushing internally against his leg and causing some internal bleeding and swelling. He can not walk at all using that leg. He is over 100 pounds so you can imagine the difficulty he has getting around and the difficulty I have carrying him up and down stairs. All jewelry sales will be going towards this fund. Any support is greatly appreciated, be it either thru sales or thru forwarding the links to my site and fb page in an effort to boost sales. Thank you for considering my cause. Blessings ~Rory

Through the magic of Facebook, I found Rory through a high school acquaintance. She makes all her pieces by hand, using leather and wire and beads and metal–anything that inspires her. She does a lot of custom orders. Her jewelry is beautiful, and for a long time I just admired her pictures.

But I also noticed something as I read her posts: her spirit is just as beautiful as her jewelry. She puts so much kindness out into the world each and every day. Her custom jewelry is made with love. She does a lot of cancer awareness pieces, and donates many of them to charity auctions. She is an animal lover, and creates special pieces to donate for those causes too.

My dad passed away a little over two years ago, and a few months back, I found a silver tie tack that belonged to him, and I immediately thought of Rory. I had a vision in my head of what I wanted this tie tack to become, and she worked with me to make my vision come to life. I love what she sent back to me.



After that, I had an idea for my daughter’s birthday. Katie had recently become obsessed with the show Doctor Who, so I messaged Rory again to get some ideas flowing. We went back and forth, sharing thoughts, and my daughter had a gorgeous, unique piece to open on her birthday.



I don’t do this kind of thing often but if anyone deserves a kindness, it is Rory. She’s not asking for donations, and neither am I. I’m just asking you to please take a moment to check out her website and her jewelry. Think about doing some birthday shopping, or early Christmas shopping. You could get something really special and do some good at the same time.

Find Rory at kindspiritjewelry.com and on Facebook at facebook.com/kindspiritjewelry


The Great Spring Shedding Event

I am not a new dog owner. I grew up with dogs, and I’ve had two dogs in my adult life. But now I have Max and he is unlike any of those dogs in so many ways. I knew dogs shed, some more than others. I know that huskies blow their coats twice a year, resulting in lots of big fur balls everywhere. But nothing prepared me for Max’s spring shed. About a week ago he started sprouting white tufts all over his body, then a day or so later they started falling. Or we’d pet him and be covered in fur. I did brush him, but given that A, he’s a puppy and B, everything is food to him, he kept trying to play and bite the brush. So I’d get a few minutes in each time, and it just didn’t really even make a dent. It kept escalating, and I started sweeping every other day to try to keep up. Still, there was fur all over my floors. Fur all over my clothes. Fur in my cereal and fur in my peanut butter jar. Seriously. Fur everywhere. And Max looked terrible because his coat was so uneven.


It got overwhelming on Friday. I was just so tired of feeling fur in my mouth and being covered in fur by 9 a.m. I was afraid it would take forever for him to blow his coat and I would never be able to brush him enough to make it help. But a good night’s sleep helped and I decided Saturday was the day. With some help from the hubby and some treats, I brushed and brushed Max. Then I brushed him some more. I fought with him over the dog fur because of course my weirdo dog likes to eat his own hair and I think maybe he shouldn’t do that. I had lunch and then I brushed some more, and he was looking really good. I could see a huge difference. I waited until he was worn out and sprawled out, resting, and I pulled out the handy little Furminator and brushed again. And now he looks so very handsome. He looks like he’s lost five pounds, his fur is sleek and silky, and I don’t have any more huge fur bunnies bounding around my floors. I was so happy with him that we went outside for a little photo shoot!




The dog ate my homework!

Well, he hasn’t eaten any homework *yet* but give it time: this dog is obsessed with paper. He’s been on several walks with us already and each time he’s found a used napkin, tissue, paper towel, candy wrapper, cigarette butt or something similar to consume. Sometimes I catch him in time to pull him away, sometimes I can get it out of his mouth, and sometimes he even drops it. And then of course sometimes he just chomps away and has a weird snack. Yesterday I left him alone for the first time. I was gone maybe an hour, to Costco to get him some food. I come home to find this:


I laughed and cleaned it up…and decided to keep the bathroom door closed from now on! After lunch today, I grabbed a tissue from the box on the kitchen counter. You guessed it: there was a damp spot and two small holes in it. I have no idea why he decided to leave it in the box. Today, I went to vote, making sure the toilet paper wasn’t accessible. Oops, but my slipper was. It was still intact, but a bit dampish. So was the dust rag he’d found by the basement door, where it was waiting for a load of laundry. I’m glad neither of them suffered the fate of the rope toy that only survived about 8 hours:


I took away the handle once he started tearing it apart to actually eat but the ball is one of his favorite toys now so I’ll let him keep it. Really, he’s much like a baby: it’s a darn good thing he’s cute! Still, if this is the worst that he does, I’m fine with it. Clearly he just gets lonely when we’re all gone. It’s a bit charming how he follows me everywhere I go. Even if I get off the couch just to get a drink, he’ll hop up from a nap and trot with me back and forth. It’ll probably get a bit annoying after a while, but it’s not yet. Neither are the muddy floors. And to be honest, I think the kids really *want* to go to school and truthfully say “The dog ate my homework!”


“It’s exhausting being this cute!”