Tag Archive | shelter dogs

A Year of Duncan

Today’s Duncan’s Gotcha Day! For whatever reason, last fall I decided we needed a third dog, and it was a challenge to find one to fit in with the two we already had. We had a boy and a girl, and I thought it would be better to have two girls and one boy. So we met a lot of girl dogs, and none of them were a good fit. Then one of the people at our Great Plains SPCA said we’d probably be better off with another boy dog; that two girl dogs typically don’t get along as well. With that, our search started fresh, and it wasn’t long before I spotted Duncan’s picture online. I went straight from work to meet him and loved him enough that I had the kids bring the dogs up and we all had a long meet and greet. The boy wasn’t convinced at first; he’d seen another one online that he liked the look of. But the rest of us talked him into it (or rather overruled him) and we took Duncan home!

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He’s definitely been the most challenging dog we’ve had. He destroyed more things than either of the others and we had to keep trying different solutions. Finally we got gates and the dogs stay in the kitchen when we’re not home. I don’t love it, but they’re together, it’s bigger than a crate, and he hasn’t chewed up anything since then. At night, he sleeps in the kitchen and the other two sleep in the living room, and everyone seems happy enough. I hope he’ll get to a point soon where we don’t have to lock him up, but I’m not sure I trust him just yet.

He went from 65 pounds to 100 pounds of muscle. He’s not fat, just very solid. He and Grace have a great time rough housing, and she’s totally the boss of him. He’s the most gentle of the three dogs with the sweetest little kisses, he’s a big cuddle bug that will sprawl on your lap like he only weighs 10 pounds, and he’s fantastic with the little kids in our family. He’s just pretty darn awesome. Even with the chaos and bills and dirt, I’ve only once questioned the decision to adopt Duncan, and that was shortly after we got him when he chewed up some of my books. But he’s growing into a great dog, and I’m pretty sure that even the husband is glad we have him!

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All of our dogs are rescue dogs, mixed breeds from local shelters, and they’re all fantastic dogs. Adopt, don’t shop!

 

National Pet Day

Today is National Pet Day, and I have some of those! Three, to be exact, as most of you know. Jack, Grace, and Duncan are my best furry friends.

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They make life hectic and crazy. It’s hard to travel, they cost a lot of money, and they track a ton of dirt inside. I’ve given up on ever having clean floors for longer than an hour, and the dog hair on my couches is a permanent fixture.

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But they’re so happy to see me in the morning, and when I come home from work, they’re bouncing and barking with excitement. They cuddle with me on the couch when it’s cold, and they know when I’m upset and try to comfort me, Jack especially.

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Grace is the sweetest dog I’ve ever had, always giving kisses and wanting to lay in your lap, whether you want her there or not!

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And Duncan is like the clumsy little toddler brother, awkwardly getting his 90-pound body onto the couch and just flopping against you. He’s a jealous thing and demands attention with a paw, but he also gives the gentlest, tiniest kisses.

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There are so many times I’ve looked around at all the dogs surrounding me, and I just have to laugh. Yes, sometimes it’s a pain in the butt having three dogs. But most of the time, they’re three times the fun!

***If you’re looking for a new furry friend, please check your local animal shelters first! There are a lot of amazing animals there, and if you’re patient, you can usually find a specific breed!***

I Like My Dog Again

Every time I get a new dog, I forget what it’s like to have a young dog that is so much like a toddler. They aren’t potty-trained, they need lots of attention, they need lots of toys, they destroy things, and they often don’t sleep well. Duncan was or is all of these. Thankfully we’ve gotten past the potty-training issue, but everything else is still relevant. Sleep has been bad since Grace started her meds for Addison’s; the steroids make her eat more and drink more and thus need more potty breaks. Also, either they’re giving her more energy or she’s just feeling better, because she’s been sort of bonkers at times. So for the last couple of weeks especially, they’ve been restless between 3:30 and 4:30 in the morning. Sometimes they barked so that we’d get up and let them out. Friends, that is not a good time for me to wake up.

Last week was an especially bad week. The girl was out of town for a band event. She was gone three nights. Duncan and Grace usually sleep in her room. We didn’t want three dogs in our bedroom so Jack slept in our room and we left the other two downstairs, assuming Duncan would behave because he’d be SLEEPING.

Oh, how foolish we were.

That very first night/morning, there was barking at 4 am. I got up, went downstairs, let them outside, and saw paper all over the floor of the dining room.

It was books, guys. BOOKS. Not just any books. Oh no, MY dog of course likes OLD books. Old, valuable books that smell and taste interesting! When all was said and done, there were eight books that weren’t salvageable. Two of the eight were literally in pieces. It was a BAD day. I was sad, exhausted, frustrated, discouraged. I was kicking myself for leaving him out unattended, kicking myself for not giving him the exercise I thought he needed. I wasn’t sure if we were the right home for him, or if I had it in me to get past this stage. I was sure I was a bad dog-mom. He went to daycare that day and the next, and I slept in the girl’s room in the attic the second night to catch up on sleep, and those things helped.

Once I’d gotten a little more sleep, and gotten past the fresh wound of seeing my books torn apart, I was feeling more optimistic. Duncan really is a sweet dog, funny and charming and lovable. I do like having three dogs, most of the time. I like the way they play together and snuggle together. And really, I have to believe Duncan will grow out of this stage eventually. So, if Duncan is like a toddler, and maybe Grace is like a preschooler, I decided there was a possibility that having them together was the problem, and resolved to try separating them at night. For the last two nights, Grace has slept upstairs with the girl, and Duncan sleeps in the kitchen. And guys? I think it’s working! (I’m gonna knock knock knock on wood!) This morning, I didn’t hear a peep out of any of the dogs! I am greatly encouraged and really hoping this makes a difference in our sleep patterns. I need my sleep. Seriously.

So because I like my dogs today, I’m going to share some of the fun photos I took this weekend. I pulled out the good Canon to play with settings, and dogs make good subjects. They’re all very photogenic, in my humble opinion.

They were having a marvelous time romping around the yard, taking turns chasing each other and of course chomping on each other. I tried to get some individual shots as well. Jack was not interested in being cute. He’s a very serious old-man pupper. He’s here for the work, not the media.

Grace doesn’t mind the paparazzi, but you have to move fast to get the really good shots. I’m rather pleased with what I got. There were others, but when you’ve got one like this, who needs more?

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And then there’s Duncan, the fresh new star who wants all the attention. He can do anything from playful to serious to tough. He’s very versatile, you know.

So yeah. I think I can do this whole three-dog thing. It might take every last bit of my patience, and we may never own anything nice ever again, but at least I’ll have my puppers.

Margaritas, music, and more

You guys are so kind. I found some good knitting time to fight the funk but getting kind comments here helped too! That night we went to dinner with the family (mom, the siblings, the niece and nephews) and had Mexican food and margaritas in Dad’s honor, and we had a lovely evening. I was quite popular with the boys that night, at least the ones under the age of 6, so I got a good ego boost from that, haha! One of them even told me he liked my lipstick and allowed me to kiss his cheek.

img_5766I do enjoy being around the little kids, but it was a noisy, rambunctious evening and it wore me out. Thankfully from there we went on to the girl’s District Choir concert, and I got to sit quietly and listen to beautiful music. I’m so glad she’s in choir too; I love the band and orchestra music, but as a former choir kid myself, I have a special fondness for the choir. This weekend I got both! The girl’s school Symphonic Band was selected to play at the All-State Festival this week, and last night they did a preview for those parents who can’t attend.

Of course I thought it was terrific and it made me really want to drive the three hours each way to see the 30-minute concert…okay, not really. Just a little. If we weren’t going on Saturday to see her play the piccolo in the All-State Orchestra, it would be more tempting. But as it is, I’m super excited to see the orchestra, especially since they’re playing music from West Side Story!

Even with all the concerts, I managed to finish one sock, cast on a new one, and make good progress on two others. I might be able to finish two socks this week, if I’m lucky!img_5771Finally, yesterday was a good day: it was Captain Jack’s birthday! He is now four and is the old man of the pack. img_5769Clearly he’s not a fan of getting older. We had a little chat and he’s feeling better about it now. Or maybe it was the duck jerky treat that perked him up, who knows. In any case, he’s still my favorite pupper (it’s okay, Grace and Duncan know) and I’m awfully glad we adopted him. He’s helped cheer me up many times.*

Happy Monday, friends. Here’s hoping the week treats you well!

*All three of our wonderful dogs have been adopted from shelters. If you’re looking for a new furry friend, please check your local shelters first!

Pupdate on Grace

Grace spent most of the day at the vet’s yesterday, getting blood work and urine tests and other tests, and the good news is that we found out what’s wrong with her. She has Addison’s disease, a disorder of the adrenal glands that means her body isn’t getting the hormones it needs, and it throws her whole system out of whack. The not-good part is that it’s chronic, but with regular medication she’ll be able to have a perfectly normal long, healthy life.

So she’ll get a daily pill (small, we can easily hide it in peanut butter or cheese) and a monthly injection (which we can learn to administer at home if we like). The injected medication isn’t exactly cheap, but we can manage it, and she’s definitely worth it. She got her first doses yesterday and started perking up very quickly. She’s still not 100%, and her appetite isn’t really back yet, but I’m optimistic and encouraged that she’ll bounce back within a few days. I know Duncan will be happy; he keeps trying to get her to play with him and is quite befuddled that she keeps rebuffing him in the gentlest of ways. And that means Jack has been taking the brunt of Duncan’s energy, and I do believe he’s getting a bit tired of it.

I also got some good knitting done yesterday while I was sitting and fretting, so I’ll be sure to share that soon. Best part: I’m done with gift knitting!

Oy, that dog!

Okay, so let’s get back to Duncan. My not-so-little terror. The one who was leaving messes in the house when we first got him about three months ago. Want to know the good news? Of course: no more accidents! After about a month, he got used to holding it and it’s not an issue. Hooray!

Want to know the bad news? He eats things. First it was little things, like paper we left on the kitchen table. He chewed up the remote, but that only cost $20 to replace, no biggie. Grace had left a hole in our leather couch back when she was going through her destructive phase, and he discovered that and thought it was fun to pull stuffing out and make the hole bigger. When we covered up that hole, he made two new ones. When we covered the couches with scat mats to keep him off the couch, he made a hole in the arm of the couch. He discovered tasty things like the corners of our wooden chairs, or the wooden railing, or the corners of the TV stand. He pulled several books off shelves and ate them one very bad day, after which we closed the doors to the sitting room where the books are located.

Every time something happened, we talked about our options. For a while, we tried to cope by limiting what we left within reach. When it was obvious that wasn’t the solution, I tried playing with him more in the morning, giving him more time outside before I left, giving him extra toys, saving toys only for when we were gone. We subscribed to BarkBox, and our first box was fantastic. We talked about closing them in with doors, but didn’t want to run the risk of them scratching the vintage pocket doors. We talked about gates and crates. I don’t like the idea of crates, no matter how many times people tell me the dogs like it. Personally, I think they get used it, and maybe they like it for short durations and/or when they’re stressed or scared, but you’ll never convince me that a dog actually enjoys being in a crate for 6-8 hours. (Please don’t try. It won’t work.) So in my mind, that’s a last resort. But friends, we’re almost there.

I recently decorated for Christmas, and put out my large Santa collection on the sideboard. (You can see it here.) I thought for sure it was high enough and far back enough that Duncan wouldn’t be able to get to it.

I was wrong. The next day, a bad day, Duncan got into the Santas and destroyed three of them. Thankfully, they were not my favorites and didn’t hold great sentimental value. But it was enough for us to know we needed to be doing more, that our morning play sessions in the yard weren’t enough for him, and we decided to add more activity. One day the husband took him running before work, one day he went to doggy day care, and the next day I took him for a walk in the morning. That day, after his walk, after the previous day at day care, he got back into one of the couch holes, chewed up a reusable grocery bag, and destroyed a small box of post-its. He may still need a lot of activity, but clearly the activity alone isn’t enough to curb his destructive tendencies. And, get this, we just got new couches, because I couldn’t live with the old couches anymore. I mean, these holes were BIG. And looking at them every day was so depressing. (I know it sounds crazy. But in my defense, we ordered them when it looked like the scat mats were going to keep him away from the couches completely.)

So now we have gates, and the dogs get to stay in the kitchen while we’re gone. Friday was the first day we tried it all day. I latched the gates, put the scat mats in front of the gates, and also closed the doors to the living room. Even if they get past the gates, they can’t get to the couches. The husband is afraid Duncan will still be destructive, just in a smaller area. That is a valid concern, and if we see signs of that, then the crate will be next. But I couldn’t do the crate without knowing I’d tried everything else first, especially since I can’t afford five days a week of doggy daycare. Anyway, so far, so good. They were still safely in the kitchen when the kids got home from school, and nothing was destroyed. And we’ve done it again for shorter periods since then, and it seems to be working. (Knocking on wood and crossing fingers here!)

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Sorry, Duncan moves a lot, so he’s blurry. Yeah, he’s a handful. He’s now a whopping 90 pounds of muscle, orneriness, and sweetness. I can’t help it; I still love the big old blockhead. Grace chewed things up for a good two and a half years, just on a smaller scale, so I’m holding on to the hope that he’ll grow out of most of this eventually. If we have to do the crate, I will do it knowing that it’s what’s allowing us to keep him in our home, rather than taking him back to the shelter. That’s not an option for us. So I can get him a super big crate, and fill it with a blanket (that he’ll tear up, which is why I’ll get it from the thrift store) and toys (that he’ll probably destroy) and he will be safe and my house will be safe and maybe we can all live happily ever after.

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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!

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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.