Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Blessings To My Husband - the Pack Leader

I just adore my husband. I usually sprinkle in little tidbits about him in my pet blog, but today I want to give him public praise, for without him, I would not be who I am today. Plus, I wouldn't have had the two lovable pets I've had since we married. And thus no blog to write.

For you gals out there who have good, caring, responsible husbands, give them a big hug and do something extra special for them today. Sometimes we can take these gems for granted. My hubby is a bread-winner, bill-writer, cook, counsellor, friend, accountant, dog walker, planner, lover, nurse...well, the list just goes on and on! He takes it upon himself to do nice things for me that he knows I like - such as his cooking. One of my favorite things is when he says he will take care of dinner. I swear, there can be a can of beans and some fruit in the cubbard and the main can whip up a miracle meal. The way he takes care of me and puppy is so endearing. I just don't know what we would do without him. And he can read me and my moods, God love him. Although I tell him every day just how much I love him, sometimes words need to be emphasized with actions.

I know my hubby's favorites too, and I try never to get lax with these things. Right now, one of his BIG favs is Chief. While loving and playing with Chief is so easy, caring for him is more time-consuming and can be tiring. J takes the brunt of puppy's care, especially taking him in the mornings. Those cold, cold, dark mornings when he has to play ball and walk Chief. Did I mention it's cold and dark? And winter hasn't even begun yet - we're talking snow and ice yet. Brrrrr! J took so much time and effort researching what type of dog to get us, mainly for my protection (so he says...), but when it comes to puppy's care, J has stepped up and is an outstanding Pack leader.

If my best friend is reading this, be assured I also know many of your other favorites. I will be sure to do these things for you as you so unselfishly do mine for me. You have taught me not just about love, but support and giving. I hope I have done the same for you. I hope you know how proud you make me. I hope you know that I realize just how much you give of yourself to me (and Chief).

I know if puppy could put his two-cents in this note, it would be all about playing ball - but it would be about playing ball with his best friend J. That sums up the love of a pet for his master. Something Chief and I have in common.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

After a Long Break, I'm Back

At the encouragement of my hubby, I'm back doing the blogging thing. I let a whole summer and much of the fall pass by without updating my blog about our puppy progress, and the 1 year anniversary of my sweet Hobby's passing.
Summer was pretty great. I really got to bond with Chief. He has grown into a very handsome, sleek dog. His sweet personality has also emerged. I think over these past months, Chief has come to accept and understand that J and I are his "pack". He listens and obeys better with each passing week, so now both parents are more settled. While he's still only a year and a half, he tries to test us with little tantrums of barking and stubburn refusal to obey the simplest commands. But, we follow the "Dog Whisperer" way of being calm and assertive with him, and eventually it works. I can see how people get frustrated and deal with their pets out of anger, but you just can't get angry. It's best to step away and calm down for a minute if puppy is acting up, which I admit I've done on more than a few occasions. What can I say? He's a head-strong dog, and he's very manipulative. But, that's also the breed. Malinois are working, smart dogs and we know we can never let up on his training. I'm loading a few recent pics of the boy for any of my friends and family who want to see our handsome guy.
As you can see by these two pictures, I like J's big fluffy green chair. Chief usually comes to love on me when he really wants to me to go out and play ball. So, if he doesn't get his way with some gentle loving, he'll sit his big furry britches in my lap. It's not as comfortable as it looks. The picture on the right shows just how big he has gotten (and him trying to take a toy I had put out of his reach). He's all muscle; lean and ripped. We have to feed him around 5-6 cups of food/day. With all the activity he gets, he can lose weight very easily.
I guess you could say much of our at-home time is invested in this furry critter. But we are a Pack now. We love and rely on each other, and I'm not just talking about how Chief relies on me or J. J and I rely just as much on each other. If one of the Pack is having a bad day, it's almost a sure bet that one of the other members can help in some way. On a weary day when I can't imagine having to come home and exercise or play with puppy because I'm just so tired, all it takes is a shy, bashful glance from his chocolate-brown puppy eyes to warm me up. A little tap of the tail to let me know he's happy I'm home (albeit just to let him out of the crate and play ball)... Still, he's helped me recover from the loss of my most loved cat, Hobbes. I'm not 100% over it, but I can rejoice in knowing my Pack has my back.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

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

I don't envy those who go home after a long, stressful day to an empty house or apartment, with no sweet furry critter to greet them. I know when I get home today my big puppy with be there in his "den" with ears flat and tail tappin' waiting to have me coo to him while I pet and scratch all his worries away. Little does he know just how wonderful it feels to have him appreciate me; he says nothing but never has the saying "actions speak louder than words" been so true. He gets so excited to be out and see me that he hops around, tail wagging, stopping only to be rubbed or scratched. I'd like to be able to bend down and snoodle him, giving him kisses, but he's so wired up at that point that I'd get a fat lip (and have in the past) if I get too close to his head. He's a head-butter. Poor hubby learned that two days in a row with a bloody nose both times. I think this calls for an injury inventory...

Me: fat lip, scratched gums (YES, I SAID GUMS), "black" eye, two cracks to the bridge of my nose, bite on my torso, bite on my right upper arm, two falls, whopping big bruise to my right calf, various scratches and bruises. That about covers my puppy love taps.

J: two bloody noses, a fat lip, a twisted ankle (twice), a head-but or two, bruising over most of his body and various scratches, blisters on toes from walking puppy.

So far, neither of us have had to go to the doctor or hospital. We are fortunate because a puppy can be very energetic and clumsy, but a 75 lb. puppy can be disastrous. Hubby and I are still looking forward to the day when we can introduce Chief to the rest of our family. Sometimes it's like having a new baby, and addition to the family. I'm by no means trying to say having a dog is the same as having a child, but we are just as proud. Chief definitely makes our little family complete. He occupies a different place in our hearts than Hobbes does, but he's definitely left his mark on us - no pun in tended.

My sweet hubby (BC-Before Chief) before we were married...ahhh, youth! He didn't know what was about to hit him!

Monday, June 9, 2008

No amount of time can erase the memory of a good cat, and no amount of masking tape can ever totally remove his fur from your couch. - Leo Dworken

After being away to visit family in NC this weekend, I returned home to discover how much I really missed puppy. This did surprise me since I didn't think I was as attached as I've become. Since my Hobbie died in November, I guess I've tried to ignore just how much I need my new puppy. I'm not sure that he missed me as much, but he's still as slobbery sweet as always.

It's so hot out right now, up in the 90s, and Chief is not one for staying out in this type of heat for long. Hobbes was a different story - even with a full-on fur coat, he would find a little shade and fall asleep. One of my favorite pictures is of him asleep in the deck, belly up - I think I posted that one already. I will miss him this summer. I so enjoyed cuddling up with him, putting my ear to his belly and listening to his loud purr. As for Chief, he's not much of a purrer, but he does cuddle once in a while. It's usually when he's so wiped out from being up during the day or for a weekend that he's at his most affectionate.

Best story to date starring hubby and Chief: the puppy pool. As the heat has cranked up and Chief needs to play and burn some energy, hubby went out this weekend and bought an $9 plastic pool - you know, the kind you see in almost every yard with kids. Chief's first responses to the pool were total indifference. He didn't want it, hate it or even understand that water means relief. SO...Sunday evening I'm out with my favorite guys in 90 degree heat and J is encouraging puppy to at least walk through the pool. Nothing. So I tell J to get in the pool, which he does; takes off his socks, shoes, stands in the pool. Nope. (Note: I think during all of this Chief KNOWS what's going on and what J is asking, but just wants to see how far he'll go to get some pool action.) Now I'm thinking J is gonna have to sit in the water, but I don't want to tell him that b/c I know he'll do it. In the next second hubby comes up with the idea himself and down he goes. Picture a 6 foot man with T-shirt and shorts sitting in a sky-blue kiddy pool, urging a 75 lb. dog to "Come on! Come on buddy! Come on in! Get in the pool!" This puts Chief in a twitter as to what to do next. Does he get his feet wet??? Jay, his life's-love, is sitting in the water and he's calling out to puppy! What to do ?!! He prances and prances around the pool for a minute or so and...I would love to tell you to look at the picture to find out, but I didn't snap one - DANG! Our fearless Chief got in and followed Jay's commands to sit and lie down - in the pool, in the water, with his Jay. That dog surely loves his master.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Poop and Play: a recipe for disaster

Memo to me: don't let the puppy carry ANYTHING unchecked into the house.
Funny story...Chief appeared to finally have learned to play alone out in the backyard yesterday and his parents couldn't have been happier. Then (dramatic pause)...disaster struck. J and I were patiently waiting for puppy to have his last poop for the day while he played a bit. We kept a semi-close watch while waiting, but apparently we missed his first poop which was our first mistake. After I saw him take what was his second poop and picking that up, I called him inside for the night. Second mistake. The horse came galloping inside very happy with his gooey tennis ball companion in his mouth when J perked up in a semi-panic. The stink could've cleared sailors out of a bar. The dog had not only rolled in his poop, but his ball had been dunked in it too! We ran Chief back outside and I tried in vain to wipe the poop off, but a bath was the only solution. Plus, we had to get him through the house and up the stairs to bathe him. So, I put some homemade paper towel booties on all four paws and up we went - to J's bathroom. Meanwhile, J and I were laughing, he at my dry heaves and at Chief walking like a prancing horse in his booties. Other than the slop J had to mop up in his bathroom, it wasn't such a bad experience. I think puppy might argue with me. He wasn't exactly pleased to be tricked into getting into J's tub only to be watered and scrubbed like the foul-smelling mongrel he was. Poor hubby, he had to get into the tub first before Chief would go in, so he got a crappin' bath too. We both got sprayed each time the dog shook. It was like a dirty, stinky Niagara Falls in that tiny bathroom. Wish I had taken a few pix, but who thinks about that during such a disaster?

Friday, April 18, 2008

"No matter how little money and how few possessions you own, having a dog (pet) makes you rich." - Louis Sabin

I'm feeling the love for my furry critters today. Chief has been so good with his behavior and training that I believe he is becoming more loving of us. When I get home from work, there he is looking at me with those big brown puppy eyes, big ears flat and tail tappin'. He used to get almost too excited when I'd get home. He'd jump at me over and over to the point that I'd have to yell to correct him, and what's the fun about that for me OR him. Poor guy, but he's just a puppy. But now I think he's learned we will come home to him. He's more secure and settled.

Of course I'm more settled lately because my sweet, considerate husband has been taking on "night duty" with puppy the last several days. I've been able to get uninterrupted sleep for more than one night in a row. I am a little worried about hubby though because he needs that full night of rest. He assures me he's fine, but I still think this will take its toll eventually. I can't have a sick, tired J; he's as mean as a bear when he's tired.

I'd like to give a toot to my family back in NC who are all involved in helping my mom recover from shoulder surgery. A big toot to my little mom. She suffers with chronic back/shoulder and neck pain and recently fell which resulted in a torn rotator cuff. But she's recovering now with the help of my sis and her family, as well as many friends who are so precious. God has blessed us, especially me, with people who are invaluable when I can't be physically there when my family needs support. Mom and sis - HANG TOUGH!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Is there a full moon? Why is it, when people and things start going sideways and acting weird, I turn to the excuse of a full moon? I guess I don't want to believe that puppy is just being BAD, and hard-headed because he is so I turn to a less plausable excuse. Hubby has been having behavior tugs of war with Chief since last night. I've noticed the boy is just not listening as well so I'm going to work with him after work. Serious business.

Just to show how serious I am, I've included a shot of Chief's new digs.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Everything I know I learned from my cat: When you're hungry, eat. When you're tired, nap in a sunbeam. When you go to the vet's, pee on your owner.

Spring brings more sun and warmth. I LOVE the energy I get from longer days, when I can take puppy out for a game of chase or work on his discipline in the yard, and not worry about piling on layers to keep warm. Gone is the biting cold and in its place is greener greens and bugging insects, warm breezes and SUN. Of course, I'm not happy when it rains, which we've had plenty of, but a change of weather is a blessing to me. It has been too long since I last posted, but it seems as the days get longer in preparation for summer, my time runs short. During this long time, much has changed for our new puppy, Chief. Much has also changed for me and my J.

We have all learned that in order to live happily together, only one can be in charge, and that one is NOT Chief. He is one hard-headed dog! Sly and quick too. He'll try to turn a situation to his advantage at every opportunity, little bugger. Yet, we are happy. He follows hubby around like a furry shadow, hoping for any play or attention he can get. Hubby is more than happy to oblige. They are a team. As a matter of fact, puppy gets a little jealous of my affection towards J at times. We play it as a game because it's hilarious, but in the end, Chief knows who's boss. Ahhh, but that puppy face and deep brown eyes...It takes a strong gal to not give in when you get that look.

We've just passed the five month anniversary of Hobbes' death in November. I still miss my furry cat who's purring settled my heart on even the most stressful days. I always looked forward to seeing him at home. I never thought I would stop missing him, and I haven't. The pain has just dulled a bit. If there was a cat who loved the warmer weather it was Hobbes. Belly up on the deck for a sun bath was usually the way to find him on sunny afternoons. I hope in heaven he finds the same plush backyard with plenty of sun and critters to chase. Green grass and cool shade from friendly trees. I'll bet he can even climb a few of those trees now.

A note to my in-laws who just visited: we look forward to our vacation in the summer! Can't wait to meet up for some sun, sand and fun. My father-in-law made us the best dinner last night with omelets, fried potatoes, and pancakes. Wow, it was tasty! Jim and J have the cooking gift, something I'm lacking. I become an idea desert when mealtimes roll around. It's pitiful, and I'm so grateful my husband balances me out. So don't forget vacation-goers: have a favorite dish planned for vacation. I will chose a night we can all fix our favorite food for dinner. As Jim reminded me, it should be a dish you like, not necessary something everyone else will like. I am leaning towards fixing some Greek chicken lemon soup. Yummmm! Can't wait.

I'll post some updated photos at a later time.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

"The average dog is a nicer person than the average person." ~Andrew A. Rooney

Since I've been down with the sick, instead of writing a long post I'm going to post a few more pix of my favorites furry ones. I'll make it quick, otherwise I'll fall asleep before I...zzzzz

Saturday, March 8, 2008

When I am happy, he is joy unbounded. When I am a fool, he ignores it...Without him, I am only another man. With him, I am all-powerful. He's my dog."

Our family of three is learning by leaps and bounds. Our Chief came to us trained but with a stubborn will of his own. As our friend Ed warned us, Chief would take advantage of any situation where he could get one over on his new owners. And that he has. Ed paid a visit for follow-up training this week, and while puppy has overall been a joy, he has seen to it that J and I have had to work to make him obey. Ed's mini-training session has helped us see the error of our ways - and made me realize what a SUCKER I've been. I'm such a softy! Dang, I hate raising my voice or being dominating. Unfortunately, that's exactly what I'll need to do. It's just not in my nature to be that way around animals. I'm a nurturer, not an alpha-dog leader. And so, my work continues.

The winter weather here is wreaking havoc with any attempt to be outside, but that doesn't stop puppy play or walking. Belgian Malinois are high-energy, working dogs that have to be engaged in something when they are not sleeping. If they become bored they become destructive and make mischief. Since I was under the weather today, my sweet buddy handled Chief's play and exercise. We've been having difficulty getting him to heel when we walk him, which is something the dog KNOWS how to do, but Chief pulls ahead and wants to lead. So, at Ed's suggestion, we purchased a prong collar to help as a training ad, and only a training aid. The change in Chief's attitude while walking was amazing. J said it best: "It's like he's a different dog!" It's still a little soon to proclaim problem solved, so we'll just wait and see for now.

Isn't God good though? I've prayed for help with puppy's training and for me, and I feel He's heard me. I know I stress too easily about things. I get worked up over things that are not that important. Even Ed noticed it when he was coaching me during our training session. He didn't come right out and say it, but his calling me "a little Navy Seal" when I tried to crate the dog was a clue. I've gotta relax! That's where J balances me. He is another answer to my prayers. I take stock in my blessing every day. I know how fortunate God has allowed me to be. Perhaps if more people considered what they have instead of what they don't, the world would be a much happier place. And more people would have pets like Hobbes and Chief.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

"In dog years, I'm dead." - Unknown

I'd like to say I can judge the type of day I will have at work based on my puppy's mood, but Chief's mood is always the same...playful. The first week of looking after him, I lost three pounds. Granted that J was out of town on business so I had morning and evening exercise duty, but really - three pounds. I'm not complaining at all. But I have to give a shout out to parents around the world. Well...parents who do a good job anyway. This 70 lb. baby is keeping his parents worn out! A friend of mine told me "A tired dog is a good dog," and this is so true, but what happens when the dog has exhausted parents? J and I would just love to be able to sleep through the night past 3:00 a.m.

The fence for puppy is going in! It should be finished by tomorrow morning. The whole family is excited for this addition because we are all hoping Chief will get some of his exercise on his own rather than wearing his dear parents ragged. The question in my mind is: will he learn to play alone?

My sweet husband is feeling the burn too. He gets up with puppy for that 3 a.m. wee outside, and after that Chief doesn't want to settle back down. So, J shuts the bedroom door. It's hard to go back to sleep after bundling up and standing out in the freezing night while your horse of a dog takes his leisurely time to eventually wizz. It's a pathetic moment when you're overjoyed that your dog relieved itself before your hair is so frozen it breaks off in your hand.

At least I know Spring is coming; I can smell it in the air. The temperature was up to 50 today and it was so nice to be able to walk Chief without wearing three shirts, two pairs of sweats, scarf, gloves and a coat. I look like "a tick ready to pop" on our walks. Hey, maybe that's why I lost three pounds.

I'd love a cookie and a nap right now.

Monday, March 3, 2008

"The dog represents all that is best in man." ~ Etienne Charlet

The weekend was a furry, high energy blurr. My hard-working, sweet husband made it home safely Friday night from a trip out of town. The weather was a snowy mess so I and his dog were a little worried. But, God is good.
J is the best of husbands. When he saw I was a bit tired from caring for Chief on my own all week, he promised to take care of puppy so I could rest up. I even got a nap on Saturday. I'm sure my greater-than-great sis-in-law can appreciate a good nap...and a good husband. I was also able to get a hair appointment in Saturday evening. Very relaxing.
Chief is starting to break out of his shell at home. He is definitely a people person in that he wants to be with J or me, but preferably both. He'll search high and low if one of us is hiding or goes missing without him knowing where. A true watch dog. When he's sleepy or just waking up, he is at his sweet best. He's a cuddler. A big, 75-lb. cuddler. My in-laws are supposed to visit from TN in April and we can't wait to see how Chief acquaints himself with them. I know my father-in-law will be laid back and relaxed. He's a lot like my husband. My mom-in-law is a different story. She likes animals, but watch out Miss C! He's a licker! Nothing like Barney, but Chief is so affectionate, he'll just use you as his pillow.
Since Chief is so young, he's also a bit clumsy. So much so, we're worried he might hurt himself running around after his all-important BALL. The guy hates to be without a tennis ball in his mouth. If he's not chomping or chasing one, he's gagging on one while pouncing like a cat on another. Never seen a dog that is so cat-like before. It's soooooo disgusting because of the slobber. We all know what a fan of slobber I am. The poor puppy slips, slides and skids into every wall and table and chair in our house. I wonder if he's as bruised and battered as I am, but I can't see it for all the fur?
Nevertheless, this is one dog that can bring out the affection in anyone. God is good.

Friday, February 29, 2008

"To live long, eat like a cat, drink like a dog." - German Proverb

My man is in-love with another guy...our new puppy, Chief. I knew I had taken second seat to the dog on the first night when J was up every 2 hours, taking the object of his affection outside in the 20 degree weather for a phantom pee or poop that never happened. New daddy jitters.
But, the new daddy had to go out of town two days after we got Chief, and I was sole caretaker of our new pet. So I sucked it up and walked the puppy in the early morning hours and after work in the evening. We played ball until my fingers were pruned because of dog slobber. I scooped poop and begged Chief to "hurry up" at 4:30 in the freezing cold morning. I guess you could say we bonded. He rarely lets me leave his sight. He's a faithful hero with a child-like spirit.
I learned a few things about myself in this my first week of new mommy-hood. To begin with, I can endure near-zero weather for extended periods of time. For those close to me, this is a feat because I'm a born and bread Southern girl who likes her warm, fuzzy, comfy clothes by a roaring fire. It must be said, I was excited about having the dog, but more excited about J coming home on Friday. I've been workin' for the weekend. Right on!
There have been marked differences in our house since the arrival of Chiefton. Before Chief (BC) I would work later and work at home. I cleaned when I wanted and did laundry only when absolutely necessary. I was a lazy bum. Since puppy arrived, I've gotta clean and do laundry. I don't like slipping in slobber, wearing slobber, smelling like slobber or just seeing slobber. Maybe the title of this blog should've been The Slobber Chronicles.
Some other marked changes:
  • BC ~ hubby kissed me hello AC ~ hubby kisses Chief hello
  • BC ~ hubby said I smelled good AC ~ hubby tells Chief he smells good
  • BC ~ sleeping late on the weekends AC ~ happy to sleep past 4:30 a.m. any day
  • BC ~ my neighbors ignored me AC ~ neighbors act as though I've won the lotto
  • BC ~ personal space and privacy AC ~ walking from the kitchen to den takes 20
  • BC ~ hubby shopped online for me AC ~ We have our own Pet Smart account

But the biggest difference in our home since Chief arrived has to be that the empty void left by the passing of my sweet Hobbes feels a bit less now. Hobbie was a sweet soul who gave me nothing but unfailing love and adoration, and I do miss him so. When I write about him I still tear up. I'll always hold him so close to my heart. His warm purr and soft striped furry pajamas offered me such comfort on the worst of days. Pets can advance our ability to love without us even knowing it. He's still here with me but I don't see how the ache in my heart will ever stop. But I think Chief is working hard to change that. With a sleepy stare he'll check for my presence and relax a little easier knowing his new mom is okay and by his side. We are safe and a little happier each day.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

"Old age means realizing you will never own all the dogs you wanted to." ~ Joe Gores

One of my sweet husband's dreams has always been to be owned by a dog. Ironically, it was one of my husband's nightmares that brought Chief into our lives.
J swears he doesn't dream when he sleeps, but once in a while he will remember a scrap or two from a dream. This one was a bad dream -- the quick and dirty version: J's out of town, I'm home alone. Someone breaks into our house. I'm okay, but the next day (in the dream) we get a dog and put in a fence. Fast forward to today, two weeks after his nightmare, and we have a 9 month old Belgian Malinois named Chief. The fence is due to be installed next week. What can I say? My man knows how to make things happen.
We first met Chief on Saturday, 2/23. He was not the first dog we looked at, but Chief was the one who looked at us. A great guy named Ed brought three dogs out to our home to demonstrate their training and obedience. Dutchess, the German Shepherd was beautiful and so disciplined. A sure bet in my mind. At first. Then, we met Chief. My first reaction to seeing him in my kitchen was, "Oh my, it's Chief." That's what I thought and said, and in my mind I meant Chief's the one. Within minutes, I knew if we were to have a dog, Chief would fit. I wasn't sure of my husband's opinion, but then I looked at his face. A kid at Christmas, that's all I'll say.
It wasn't Chief's quick obedience to his trainer and impressive pedigree that landed him in our home. He snoodled up to me that morning, leaning and rubbing up against me like our sweatly departed cat, Hobbes. I wanted to cry, and did later in the day, missing Hobbes and feeling like I was somehow betraying his memory. But it was because I missed him so that I opened the door to my heart to allow inside this 70 lb. lumbering puppy who wears furry pajamas and loves dog treats.