Mine! Mine! Mine!

A few weekends ago, Lucy graduated from sleeping in her kennel each night to sleeping out free in the room. It’s gone really well, actually… on Lucy’s part. She stays quiet, she mostly waits until our alarms go off to ask to go outside, and she hasn’t chewed on anything in the night. We’re very proud of her.

It’s Meera that has become the problem.

For a long time now, Meera has had a large, flat dog bed in the floor of our bedroom. It’s an eggshell memory foam mattress – really ridiculous for a dog – but it was the largest size Walmart had so that’s what I came home with. She has always seemed to love it and, as anyone who knows Meera is aware, she does not share well.

So when Lucy started trying to sneak onto the mattress to sleep with big sister, that was not okay. Nevermind the fact that it’s plenty big enough for the both of them, or that Meera outweighs Lucy by at least 40 pounds and could easily just make her move… no… if Lucy is on the dog bed, Meera has a fit and comes over to my side of the bed to groan and whine and complain until I finally get up and (attempt to) do something about it.

That got old REALLY quickly!

So, to balance things out, we bought Lucy her own bed. A logical decision, right? We thought so.

So we brought home a small dog bed (one with the raised sides, like a little boat) and put it in the corner where Lucy’s kennel used to be. Keep in mind that this bed was significantly smaller than Meera’s bed.

Lo and behold, if Meera didn’t see that shiny new dog bed and decide, then and there, that she didn’t care what size it was the new bed was hers and Lucy absolutely could not have it. (Petty, jealous brat that she is.)

So last week, we watched as Meera turned daintily around in the tiny dog bed and proceeded to squish herself down into it. (Picture a large bird on a small nest. Or a big cat fitting itself into a little box.) She fit… but just barely. The sides of the bed were almost flat on the floor, but she was determined. This is new, so this is mine. I don’t care that I’m obviously uncomfortable, I’m proving a point here.

So she stayed there all night. I was amazed. And of course, Lucy spread out on the giant dog bed and enjoyed herself immensely.

The next day I took the tiny bed back and exchanged it for a larger size, since if Meera is going to be a brat about it she might as well be a comfortable brat.

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Keep in mind, the previous bed was at least a third smaller.

I’d say she likes it. She’s barely gotten out of it in days. In fact, she now likes to have it in her kennel during the day as well.

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It’s her happy place, apparently. It’s still technically supposed to be Lucy’s bed, but I guess as long as they’re both happy and not waking me up, I don’t really care. Pick your battles and all that, right?

All in all, I’d say $25 well spent.

 

 

Dear Diary: Strange things are happening

Dear Diary,

This past month has been very odd for me. First, I tried to let one of the neighbor’s dogs know that she couldn’t have the stick I was chewing on (it was MINE! I found it first!), and she got very mad at me. It hurt. Mommy took me to see daddy at the place where he goes every day, and they fixed me up.

I’ve had to go to work with daddy a whole bunch of times since then. He makes me sit on this scary table that’s up high, and then he gives me a shot. I don’t mind shots so much, but I don’t like this one. It makes me feel all heavy and funny, and then I take a nap and when I wake up my tongue is GIGANTIC and I have funny floppy things hanging out of my shoulder.

I’ve had to take lots of medicine too. Mommy usually gives them to me, and I don’t like to eat them. But if I eat them, I get Cheerios, so sometimes that’s okay.

Mommy feels my shoulder every day to make sure it’s not squishy anymore. It got squishy one time, and I had to take more medicine and have more floppy tubes put in me, but she seems to think it’s better now. Maybe my hair will start to grow back in that spot now. I don’t like having a weird bald spot right in the front where everybody can see it.

Also, big news: I have a baby sister now! Mommy and Daddy say she is a Lucy. I’m not sure what a Lucy is, but if she is a Lucy, I guess she’s okay. I like her mostly, but she eats my food and gets into my little house and chews on my toys. And I’m not allowed to chew on her toys! It’s not fair! I just want to show her how to pull all the chewy white stuff out of the inside of her animals and teach her to spread it evenly around the house. She obviously doesn’t know how to do that yet because she still sleeps with her fuzzy toys. SLEEPS WITH THEM! How weird is that??? Fuzzy things must die, and I must teach her this before it is too late.

She is fun to play with though. I didn’t really have anyone to play with before, but now we wrestle and play tug of war with the new giant rope Daddy bought us. I have to be careful when we wrestle though, because she is very much smaller than me. Sometimes I step on her accidentally and that makes her cry and I feel bad about it until she stops.

Also, I think something bad might be happening to us. Some of our things have been disappearing into big brown squares. The last time we had big brown squares, Mommy and Daddy put me into a rolling box and took me far away from Nana’s house and brought me to this house. I didn’t like it here for a long time. I missed Rosie and Lexie and my yard at Nana’s house, and it smelled funny here. I had to make new friends and learn to pee in new places. I didn’t like it.

A few days ago, Mommy took me and Lucy to another place that smelled funny. The yard smelled funny and the house didn’t have any soft things to lie down on and it made funny noises when I barked. I was all empty, like it was here when we first came. I don’t like that place at all. I hope all our things are not going to that place. My friends, Cash and Knox and Tyson, were not at that place. I wish Mommy and Daddy would just stay here, where it smells like us.

But if they do have to go to that empty place, I hope they take me. I don’t want to leave my friends, but it would be bad to leave Mommy and Daddy. I’m going to follow them around and sit right in Mommy’s lap every day until then, just to make sure they don’t forget to take me when they take the big brown squares of our stuff.

Lucy doesn’t seem bothered by the big brown squares. She likes to play in them. I hope Mommy and Daddy take her too. I don’t think she could survive all by herself with her evil fuzzy toys. So at least I will know someone at this new place, if we have to go there.

Maybe having a sister isn’t so bad after all.

Love,

Meera

 

How my fur-baby is teaching me to be a parent.

I’ve never gotten a Mother’s Day card. I’ve never had labor pains or contractions. I’ve never sat outside my baby’s door while he cried and prayed for him to soothe himself to sleep.

But I have comforted a scared baby in the middle of the night while the thunder rolls. I have rolled groggily out of bed in the wee hours to take care of bathroom needs. I have inspected poop and discussed bathroom habits at length. I have had a tiny head (or a heavy head, in recent weeks) fall asleep on my chest; I have also woken up with small feet in my ribs. I have taken my baby to sitters’ houses and to the doctor’s office and driven away while she cried and didn’t understand why I was leaving.

She didn’t come from my own body and I didn’t carry her for nine months, but she is no less my baby than someone else’s two-legged human child. And she has and is teaching me many things about how to be a good parent to those human children if and when they hopefully come along.

She has phases just like human children – she throws tantrums, she listens well sometimes and not at others, she is smart one day and sort of dumb the next. I have phases too; phases where I love her so much one moment and want to lock her in a box the next. I feel like that’s probably normal.

The phase we are in now is wanting to sleep on the bed at night, and I am learning a lot from the successes and failures of this phase.

She is allowed on the bed during the day, but has learned that she must (A) be invited, and (B) stay on the blue part of the comforter. These two things have been successful, although I don’t know how they stuck so well, but we at least have that.

In St. Kitts, she slept in the floor but would spend the last hour (between potty time and real waking up time) sleeping on the foot of the bed. When we came back to America, we decided there would be no dogs sleeping on the bed at all. This worked for a while and we didn’t have any problems. Then came the winter, when it was cold and I wanted to avoid taking her out to potty as long as possible. I found Meera would sleep longer and more soundly if we let her sleep at the foot of the bed; so we did. This also served the double purpose of keeping our feet extra toasty. When the summer started, she made us too hot and had to resume sleeping in the floor.

Well, she didn’t like that so much.

At first, she would give us the horrible pleading puppy eyes at bedtime and we wouldn’t have the heart to make her move. She got her way for a while. Then, she would start out in the floor but later disregard the “must be invited” rule and sneak onto the bed in the middle of the night when we either wouldn’t notice or would be too exhausted to bother trying to correct her. She won again. Now, most recently, she starts out in the floor and tries to sneak onto the bed. I make her get down and tell her to be quiet. She settles back into the floor for about 10 minutes before taking up a post near my head and groaning softly until I acknowledge her presence.

“Hush, Meera! Lie down!”

She resumes her silent staring. A few minutes later, the groaning starts again. “NO, Meera!” Silence. Then she’ll go around to the foot of the bed and try to make another sneak attempt where she doesn’t have to climb over me and might get away with it. The Mister wakes up irritated at this point.

“Meera! Get down! Shut up!”

This cycle repeats itself throughout the night.

On the one hand, I’m always tempted to just pat the mattress and let her win. It’s faster, easier, and I can go back to sleep without further incident. That little head curled up on my legs is so comforting. But there is always the inevitable moment hours later when I try to move my legs and can’t – there’s a very large, very solid object in the way. Said object is more than half my body weight and very, very warm. Said object is also, probably, snoring. You see, she observes the “stay only on the blue part” rule very well, and at night, when the comforter is pulled up around the Mister and I, the entire bed is the blue part… and she wants it all.

Down she goes into the floor again and the routine resumes. I don’t feel like we’re getting much sleep.

On the other hand, I can stay strong, be firm and say no. It won’t kill her to sleep in the floor or in the armchair in the living room. This, while painful for me now, is ultimately for her own good. Parents have to be the bad guys sometimes. If I let her win, she will run my life. I am her mother, not her friend. Be a parent, not a peer. Stay strong!

The voices in my head repeat these and other such cliches throughout the cycle.

In the morning, she’s always by my feet. I don’t know how this happens. We’ll try again tomorrow.

So, in summary, parenting lessons learned:

  • Don’t let the babies start doing things you don’t want them to do forever, because it’s harder to change the habit than to prevent the habit.
  • When you say no, mean it. They know when you are weak. Be strong!!
  • Just because she doesn’t like it doesn’t mean it’s hurting her.
  • Punishments must be consistent and predictable. She has to know that when she gets on the bed or knocks over the trash or doesn’t come when she’s called she will get a predictable, unpleasant result every. single. time. Not just sometimes, because she’s willing to play the odds. (See #2.)
  • I am a total pushover.

I think everyone thinking of someday having human children should have to train a dog first.

What do you think?

The Slime Incident

Have you ever wondered what it would smell like if a tomcat peed on a dead frog, left it to bake in the sun for three days, and then smeared the still-gooey parts all over something you love?

I had not. But yesterday, I found out anyway.

The lunch hour started off as any other – I left work with one hour to take care of the dog and grab something to eat at the house. I got home, released the hound into the yard and let her do her business.

That’s when things started to go south.

The first time she rolled, I thought, “Ok, it’s hot, maybe whatever it is is dry enough that it won’t smell much.”

The second time she rolled, I yelled at her. (Can’t chase her, I’m in heels and dress clothes.) The third and fourth times I just held my breath and hoped there was some way this could end with me making my 2:00 meeting.

When she raced past me back toward the apartment door… I caught it. Just a whiff. Just a slight bit of scent that suggested something had died long ago and the spirit world had rejected its remains and sent them back to the land of the living.

She was waiting at the top of the stairwell when I reached her. And reached for her. And touched it.

Something – I hesitate to try to guess what – was sticky, and thick, and all over her shoulder, neck, collar, ear and face.

We went immediately to the bathroom.

I stripped out of my high heels and fancy office clothes and threw the bathroom rugs out into the hallway. I turned on the water and grabbed the first large container I could find. The dog had fled. I had 35 minutes left in my lunch break.

She wasn’t hard to find. Even if I hadn’t known she was hiding in her kennel, I would have smelled her a mile away. That box reeked to high heaven and I’m just glad she came out on her own rather than having to go in after her.

After three attempts, I trapped her in the bathroom. Now to get her into the tub. You have to remember, we’re not talking about a chihuahua here; we’re talking about a 70ish-pound dog who is two-thirds my body weight and very stubborn. I did, with some luck, manage to haul her into the tub without getting the goo of death all over me. I rinsed and rinsed and scrubbed her with green apple shampoo. She tried to escape. I shoved her back into the tub and rinsed some more. She was not happy. Twenty-five minutes left.

I ended up having to scrub her down twice because once was just not enough. She shook smelly water all over the bathroom in protest. Fifteen minutes left. I dried her off and put the towel straight into the washing machine. I dried myself and inspected my clothes to make sure I didn’t have any of the goo on me somewhere. I got re-dressed and bolted down two slices of leftover pizza before racing back to work.

I walked into my office as the meeting was starting. I am woman. Hear me roar.

Dear Diary: I’m in love!

Dear Diary,

Now, I know I haven’t written anything in a long time, but I have such exciting news that I just couldn’t wait to share it. I’m in love, I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it!!

I used to think every day would always be the same: stare at mommy until she wakes up, check the yard for squirrels, and then spend all day sleeping on the couch and guarding the house until daddy gets home from work. But now, NOW there is something wonderful to look forward to in the evenings. After mommy and daddy are done with their dinner (which always smells so much better than mine and I don’t know why they don’t share), we go outside. And if we stay outside long enough, sometimes, if I am lucky, HE comes outside too.

They call him Tyson, and he is wonderful.

He likes to dig, just like me! We dig and dig and dig. Tyson’s holes are bigger than mine though, because he uses his mouth like a shovel and moves more dirt that way. Those are my favorite days – the days when I get to dig holes with Tyson. Maybe one day he will look up from his holes and see me as more than just the girl down the driveway. Someday… But for now we will dig our holes and play chase and I will teach Tyson how to catch squirrels. If he can catch a squirrel, then he will love me and we will be friends forever.

But he cannot have my favorite ball, or touch my people. I don’t share my people.

Love,

Meera

Meera and the disappearing fluff balls

The Mister and I woke up yesterday morning to a scene most of you have seen at your own houses – a world covered in glittering fairy dust (aka – the snow that’s keeping us all out of school this week). I had actually seen it at 3:15 a.m. – and again at 5:30 a.m. – because Meera was sick all night and wouldn’t let us get any sleep. The first time I took her outside, the snow was so bright I didn’t need a flashlight. She plowed right in, hardly seeming to take notice except to look around in confusion because she couldn’t find the grass. That expedition was a potty-break failure. The second trip out worked though, because she was at the point that she didn’t care where the grass had gone, she had to go and she was going to go wherever she wanted.

After that she slept. Finally. And we slept. Sort of.

Good thing we didn’t have class or work yesterday because neither one of us would have been able to stay awake to write full sentences. Meera was very quiet and slept most of the day – she was as exhausted as we were – but we woke her up around lunchtime to see what she would do when confronted with a white-washed world in the daytime.

Now remember, she was born and spent the first year and a half of her life on a Caribbean island. She’d never experienced cold until we came home and the seasons started to change. We live in Tennessee, so she’d certainly never seen snow beyond a few flurry flakes. We expected her to be hesitant, or to flat-out refuse to leave the stairwell.

We did not expect her to dash out the door, snow flying, skidding on the ice, sticking her head into the drifts and completely, totally loving every second of it.

But that’s what she did. She dug into drifts and was delighted to find grass at the bottom! She chased her ball and dug it out when we covered it up. And, it seems mean, but she LOVED when we would get great armfuls of powdered snow and dump them on top of her! She wanted to be covered in it, and then shake it off in a cloud of powder. She wanted to jump and leap and catch it all and eat huge mouthfuls off the sidewalk. She would get up to top speed on the smooth part and then stop suddenly – I think purely for the purpose of sliding and sending up sprays of snow. Just like a child! It was so much fun to watch her experience this new thing.

Her favorite trick though was Daddy’s amazing ability to create white balls with his hands and then throw them — AND THEY DISAPPEARED!! Rather than getting frustrated when she couldn’t find the snowball, she would run back to us at full speed and jump around until we threw another for her to chase. I’ve included some short video clips below.

It’s the little things in life. 🙂

How is your snow week going? Are you off work? Have you tried to drive? Let us know what it looks like in your area.

My Brave Little Toaster

All too often, passersby look at my 65+ pound dog straining at her leash and move a little farther away. This irritates me. Just because she’s bigger than a teacup poodle means nothing. Ask your neighborhood veterinarian and I’m sure they will tell you what I have heard so many times – that they are more wary of the little ones than the big ones, because the little ones are more likely to bite. The big ones usually cower in a corner like terrified children.

Make no mistake, if you were to sneak up on me or her in a threatening manner, she would make you step back a few paces and fear for your extremities, but otherwise, on a regular day with regular people, she’s nothing to be afraid of. In fact, she’s likely more afraid of you than you are of her.

So here are a few anecdotes to show why, if you pass me innocently on the street, my “big dog”* should be the least of your worries.

1. The other night she woke every dog in the neighborhood barking at a plastic grocery bag that blew across her path.

2. Today it took her five whole minutes to approach a threatening pile of carpet pads stacked in the neighbor’s carport that wasn’t there last night. And she approached in a wide circle from behind the nearest tree, just in case.

3. She makes friends easily with both dogs and people, but in St. Kitts she was approached by a friendly Jack Russell terrier and she curled up into a ball and shivered until he left her alone.

4. She’s afraid of thunder and wants to sleep with me when it storms at night. She’s also scared of small children and either runs away from them or hides behind my legs when they approach.

5. She’s so nervous of new, unexpected things and places that when I open the door to our back deck on pretty days, she not only won’t go out onto the deck, but she won’t even lie down in that half of the living room.

6. Last week we met a new neighbor. Meera took off toward her at full speed, having never seen her before in her life, and rubbed up against her legs like a cat begging to be petted.

7. She plays like a child. She wants to “tag” you and run away so you’ll chase her. She wants to put her head into whatever you’re doing and be “super-involved” in the process. She wants to hide your tools so you have to find them. She wants to pounce on things that look like balls, are shaped like balls, bounce like balls or are in the vicinity if you’ve said the word “ball.”

8. When you pass by and she’s straining at her leash, chances are she just wants to smell your hands and have you pet her. She loves people and she loves you, until you give her a reason not to.

There’s a reason I call her my brave little toaster.

And did I mention she’s part pit bull? But that’s for a whole other blog post.

So thank you to my landlord for being the only one in Martin to understand that a dog is a dog, no matter the size, and all should be allowed to live in peace with their people in whatever accommodations they have.

*70 pounds is medium-sized for a dog, by the way. You should see a bull-mastiff, weighing in at 150 pounds, and then we’ll talk.

Look at that goofy face!!

Look at that goofy face!!