The Other Babies

10256132_10202806968392453_2342478705946290499_nWe get asked all the time how the dogs are handling the transition from baby to toddler. It’s a complicated question. Each dog is so different. We really had no idea what to expect and, frankly, our predictions were completely wrong.

Dougal Going into parenthood, we though Dougal would have the biggest problem with the transition. Dougal is the baby. He’s a perpetual puppy, who has to be the center of the universe at all times. He’s needy. He’s demanding. He’s difficult. He’s my favorite. I worried he would be resentful of Harry, that he might lash out or throw tantrums. But, he’s been Harry’s biggest fan from the beginning.

Even before we got home from the hospital, Dougal has been smitten with Harry. Ben brought a blanket home from the hospital while Harry and I were still there. Dougal was the only dog who cared to sniff it and he was crazy about it!

Once Harry came home, the love only grew. Now, they are constant companions. Though Harry is getting more challenging, Dougal is ever patient and sweet. They share meals and chase around the yard together. They hug and kiss, and Harry tries to share his toothbrush. They are so sweet together. I’m completely surprised.

Hank This is where we were most wrong. Hank has had major anxiety since Harry joined our family. He gets upset and paces when Harry cries. He doesn’t like Harry to touch him, and he seems stressed out almost all the time. We do everything we can to keep them separated.

We try to carve out as much special time as we can for Hank, but it’s really hard to do. I snuggle Hank every night after Harry goes to bed, but I don’t know that it’s helping ease his anxiety. He just seems really stressed. Walks help, but it’s been hard to get out for regular walks. Hell, it’s been hard to squeeze in a shower most days!

I’ve read a ton of articles about how to handle this, but nothing has been particularly helpful. I’m hoping time and distance help. Hank is really good with older kids.

Otis Otis is the zen master of dogs. Nothing phases him. He’s a dream. Sometimes I look into his eyes and see great wisdom. Sometimes I look and wonder if there’s anyone in there. I really don’t know about him. But, he’s such an easy dog to manage. I can take him anywhere. He’s mostly indifferent to Harry, but that’s a good thing. In our life, anything low maintenance is a lovely change.

Grace Over time, Grace has gotten remarkably tolerant of Harry. He’s a bit obsessed with hugging her right now. His new word is “black” and he loves to point to one of her black spots and shout “Black! Black!” over and over. She mostly ignores it. She’s almost completely blind and deaf now, but she seems to enjoy the hugs and snuggles. She’s getting really affectionate in her old age.

Baby Harry: 19 Weeks

Grumpy Grace and the Cone of Shame

Grumpy Grace and the Cone of Shame

This has been such a difficult week, there is no more fitting photo than of Grumpy Grace and Her Cone of Shame. Grace has allergies and this year has been exceptionally bad. She’s chewed all the hair off her backside, leaving a red, raw mess. Nothing has helped. So, now she’s in a cone. Hopefully, this will allow her red skin to heal. As you can see, she’s not happy about any of this. But, we’ve all had a rough week.

Weight: We have two options. Either Harry has exceptionally heavy diapers (very possible) or our home scale is wrong. (I choose to believe it’s the scale and, in my case, it weighs about 50 pounds heavy. I’m really a size 6. Just ask me.) At home, Harry weighed 14.4 pounds with a diaper. At the doctor last week, he weighed 13 pounds 14 ounces without the diaper. I was really hoping we’d be up around 15 pounds, but our little guy is still very, very little.

Shorty: He’s height and weight proportional, but Harry is really small compared to other babies. He’s in the 12th percentile for height and 13th for weight. That means 88 and 87 percent of babies, respectively, are bigger than him. Who are these enormous babies!! As fast as he’s growing, I find it really hard to believe he’s so much smaller than average.

Power Noggin: While his body may be small, his head is gigantic. At a robust 17.25 inches, Harry’s head is in the 94th percentile for size. He’s full of SMARTS!

Milk Crisis: Right Boob is on strike again. Demand has increased dramatically this week (more on that in a second) and Right Boob has responded by collapsing in a heap and refusing to produce more than the absolute minimum. Harry hates Right Boob. He’s the most demanding boss. He tugs and cries, and turns as red as a beet in frustration at Right Boob. I’ve had to step in as the middle manager and counsel Right Boob on its performance. “Let’s talk about the kind of boob you want to be. Do you want to be the kind of boob that just produces the minimum? What can I do to help you be successful here?” I’ll let you know how it goes. The milk situation is hitting a crisis and I’m struggling to keep it together. I really don’t want to supplement with formula. It feels like a huge failure.

Sleep, Come Back: Harry has been an exceptional nighttime sleeper since he was born. This is not something we freely told people. We were not smug and we knew it could change at any moment. That moment came five days ago. Suddenly, Harry stopped sleeping through the night. He was waking two or three times, demanding food and attention, and not making up the lost sleep during the day. For several days, he was eating every two hours during the day and every three hours at night. The little man was eating more than he had as a newborn! Frankly, it’s left me exhausted. My milk production hasn’t been keeping up and we’re both cranky from lack of sleep. I assume this is a growth spurt, but I’m hoping it passes soon.

Poo of the Week: Harry has blown out a diaper every day this week. We’re switching to more expensive diapers to see if we can keep him better contained. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Wee of the Week: So far, I haven’t been hit this week! Woohoo!

Likes:

  • Rolling over – he’s a champ at it now!
  • His feet
  • His hands
  • His silicone teething toy
  • Otis
  • Penguin arms (flapping his straight arms up and down like a penguin)
  • Being held 24/7
  • Left Boob

Dislikes:

  • Socks
  • Blankets
  • Tummy time (rolling over is the death of tummy time)
  • Naps and sleeping
  • Right Boob

Let the moving begin!

Hank is not happy about the move.

Hank is not happy about the move.

A mere nine days before we were set to move 600-some miles, we found a rental home. I’d love to say we’d been dragging our feet and waiting until the last minute, but the truth is that we are rental rejects, No one wants to rent a home to a couple with four dogs. I suspect we’d have had better luck if we told potential landlords we were on parole for arson.

Of course, I understand why landlords don’t like dogs. If I were a landlord, I’d probably be a bit cranky about it, too. But, come on! We’re awesome tenants! We just couldn’t get anyone to take our bait.

Until Saturday, when an exceptionally nice (and unbelievably fit) woman decided she’d risk it and let us move into one of her rental homes. I couldn’t be more relieved. I was at the point of searching campsites in the area, and that was a very depressing backup plan.

So, now that we know where we’re moving and when, we just have to move. Easy peasy, right? Our house is chaos now as we pack, sort, and make decisions on our belongings. Thankfully, we don’t have a ton of stuff. By next week, we’ll have even less.

In the meantime, the dogs are getting increasingly uneasy. Hank is having the hardest time. He’s usually hiding, either in the kitchen, where he thinks I can’t see him, or inside one of the nightstands. Sometimes I find him burrowed under the covers on the bed. The poor guy doesn’t quite know what to do with himself.

When I call him out of one of his hiding spots and lure him onto the couch for snuggles, he trembles and puts his head against my neck or chest. He just seems so darn worried. I think he needs a stiff drink or a Xanax, something to take the edge off. I mean, we’re all stressed, but it’s a desperate situation that forces a 50-pound dog into a nightstand.

It will probably get even hairier around here for the next week or so. Please feel free to send us Positive Moving JuJu. Goodness knows I can use all the good vibes I can get. Happy moving!

A sad milestone

One year ago today, at nearly this moment, I lost the love of my life. My sweet dog Barley passed away and life hasn’t been the same since. Not a moment goes by when I don’t miss him. I’d give anything to see him again. That life has proceeded on without him is both comfort and curse. How can life go on without my sweet boy? And, yet it has. Days and days, an entire year. It feels like forever and nothing.

This song is for him. I have no words today.

Catch the Wind

In the chilly hours and minutes
Of uncertainty, I want to be
In the warm hold of your loving mind

To feel you all around me
And to take your hand along the sand
Ah, but I may as well try and catch the wind

When sundown pales the sky
I want to hide a while behind your smile
And everywhere I’d look your eyes I’d find

For me to love you now
Would be the sweetest thing ‘twould make me sing
Ah, but I may as well try and catch the wind

When rain has hung the leaves with tears
I want you near to kill my fears
To help me to leave all my blues behind

For standin’ in your heart
Is where I want to be and long to be
Ah, but I may as well try and catch the wind

Grace’s great love

Reunited and it feels so good…Grace and her couch

Reunited and it feels so good…Grace and her couch

We were out of town for a couple days (looking for a new place to live) and, when we came back, our springer spaniel, Grace, was positively giddy to be home. She danced and spun, and panted with absolute, perfect joy. I rarely see her so full of happiness. She’s “meh” about food and downright grumpy about Otis. She loves affection, but gets violent if she feels it’s being taken away too suddenly. (She’ll scratch your face if you try to quit petting her early.) She’d rather not be pet at all than tolerate substandard pets. But, one thing fills her heart with love.

The couch.

Grace is becoming part of the couch. She sleeps there from the time we get up in the morning (she has a bed upstairs with us) to the time we call her back upstairs for bed at night. She’ll literally leave her upstairs bed in the morning and go straight for the couch. I have to tug on her to get her outside to go to the bathroom. Grace and the couch are apart only during meals, bathroom breaks, and walks. It’s a love unlike any other. Occasionally, she’ll lower herself to sleep on the love seat, but it’s never by choice. That is her couch, she only lets the rest of us sit on it once in a while.

Grace and the couch had their touching reunion Sunday night and Monday I tried to take her for a walk. Apparently, it was too soon. She couldn’t leave the couch again. She walked about a block before deciding she needed to be near the couch, so I had to take her home. She immediately climbed onto the couch.

It’s a Hepburn-Bogart situation. I love the romance.

I’m hoping to lure her away for a walk tomorrow morning, but after an absence of several days, I suspect her heart really did grow fonder. It may be tough to pry her away. I’d be a monster to even try.

Otis is home

Back home and happy

Back home and happy

The world’s most expensive rescue dog is now home and happy, after two days of treatment for trash-induced pancreatitis.

He’s bubbly and snuggly, and completely irresistible, which is good considering how much his garbage buffet cost to treat. Grumble, grumble, grumble.

He’ll be on two different antibiotics (in addition to his normal drug regimen of two seizure pills and one thyroid pill every morning and night) for a week, and a prescription diet for the next two months to repair his damaged pancreas and digestive system. The little fluffball is a walking (okay, waddling) medical miracle.

We’re also on strict orders to get him to a healthier weight. He’s at 26 pounds and the vet wants him down to 22. When we first got him, he was on a prescription diet food that helped him drop a couple pounds, but he regained it when we put him on regular food. Even though he gets a really small amount of food, he gained back all the weight he lost and we’re now back at square one.

I feel his pain. (“Diets are the worst,” I lament as I choke down my homemade vegan tomato soup and try to ignore the Easter candy in my office.)

On the bright side…

• We discovered Otis looks awesome in hot pink. He will surely have some gender-bending hot pink sweaters in his wardrobe this winter. I love that boy in pink!

• The vet gave me a free can of wet dog food. After paying his second-day hospital bill and forking over extra money for his new medicines and a bag of fancypants dry food, the vet informed me Otis can no longer take his pills with a blob of peanut butter. Immediately after my head hit the counter in despair, she slipped me a can of the prescription wet food. They didn’t get me for another $5. I’m counting it as a win.

• Otis is okay and his shaved knees are adorable. (They shaved part of his legs for the IV.)

Here’s to a quiet weekend and no further Otis dramas. I need a break!

A brief Otis update

Otis having a rest

Otis having a rest

As I mentioned yesterday, Otis enjoyed a trash buffet on Friday and was suffering some ill effects (namely barfing and diarrhea). Last night, after a 24 hour fast to clear his system (the second since Friday), he got a home cooked meal of boiled chicken and rice, but it did little to improve his mood. By this morning, our little guy was not terribly motivated to do much of anything. When he refused his chicken and rice breakfast, I knew it was serious. Otis does not refuse food. Ever.

So, I brought him to the vet first thing. Turns out he has pancreatitis, which basically means his pancreas was so stressed by his garbage feast that it’s pumped out enough juices to start digesting itself and his other organs. This is not good news. Otis is really, really sick.

He’s spending today hooked up to IV fluids and hardcore meds, including pain meds since pancreatitis is a miserable condition. I’ll take him home tonight, but he’s barred from any food or drink. I’ll bring him back to the vet in the morning for another day of fluids and meds. Hopefully, this treatment will flush out his system, knock out the infection, and set his little organs back to right.

Poor little Oat Man.

We’re so grateful we caught this in time. Pancreatitis is fatal and treatment must be early to be effective. This morning, Otis’ white blood cell count was three times normal. That’s two brushes with death in one month for the fluffy white dog. I just hope he gets well enough to take a part-time job over the summer. It will take years for him to pay us back with just his allowance.

Moving forward, we’re going to have to be even more careful of his diet. Pancreatitis can recur or become chronic, so it’s gonna be low-fat everything from here out. And the trash is finding a new home.

Otis Barfwatch 2014

Otis at the vet

Otis at the vet

I came home Friday to a house full of garbage.

Unfortunately, there was significantly less garbage than there should have been since Otis availed himself of the garbage buffet. He was bloated, swollen, and full of what I can only speculate. I know there were skins and bones from at least four chicken thighs, a few pizza crusts stripped of toppings, the butt from a head of Romaine lettuce, and probably a dozen eggshells, of which I only recovered about three.

My high-maintenance dog, the one with epilepsy and thyroid problems, now had a gut full of garbage. All we could do was wait.

The barfing and diarrhea started Saturday. After pooping four times and barfing six, he seemed fine. He was running around full of energy, and chuffing to be fed after 24 hours of forced abstinence from food. I fed him dinner Saturday, then breakfast and dinner Sunday.

Unfortunately for my carpet (and gag reflex), he wasn’t quite finished.

Without warning, in the final minutes of last night’s Mad Men, Otis began barfing semi-digested food all over the carpet. I cleaned it up, then sat with him for a while, thinking it was over. After all, he didn’t get much food and it seemed like a whole lot of it came up. We went to bed about midnight.

At 3 a.m., my white wonder-barfer started getting restless. I jumped out of bed and took him to the bathroom, where he barfed again. There was no pep in his step. He was actually pretty miserable.

So, here we are again with a sick doggie, running on almost no sleep, worrying about what he might be doing at home alone. He didn’t have breakfast this morning and tonight I’ll make him some boiled chicken and rice in hopes of calming his poor tummy. If he can’t keep it down tonight, we’ll be back at the vet tomorrow.

This dog is giving me an ulcer. Ug.

A bit more about Otis

Otis

Otis

Last week, we had a rough time with our newest pack member, Otis. He has epilepsy and we had been working closely with our vet for several months to get him down to the lowest level of medication possible. Unfortunately, we hit a rough patch.

Over 24 hours, he had 16 seizures. We gave him as much medication as we could (until the vet told us we couldn’t give him any more) and still he had seizures. We were at the point of not knowing if he was going to make it. Ben and I both knew a hard decision was looming.

But, he pulled through. The seizures stopped and now, a week later, you’d never know anything happened to him. He’s the happy little cuddlebug we fell in love with in November. Otis is a living miracle and a true example of the power of love and a positive attitude. If Otis can get through the day with a smile, there’s hope for all of us.

Here’s a bit more about our Otis.

Brothers

Brothers

• He’s a one-trick schnoodle. Otis knows how to shake. It’s my favorite trick in the doggie playbook, but it’s the only one in Otis’ repertoire. If you ask him to sit, he extends his paw. If you ask him to lay down, again the paw. He’s mastered the shake and I believe he sees no reason to accommodate requests for lesser tricks.

• He’s a great conversationalist. Otis loves to talk. Sometimes, he chuffs at me and I chuff back at him. Other times, I speak for him (in a high-pitched baby voice, of course) and myself, carrying on long, elaborate dialogues about politics, current events, art, or who’s mama’s best boy. He maintains unflinching eye contact and appears very interested in everything that’s said. He may someday run for political office or write books on how to snag women. Either way.

Adventure Hound

Adventure Hound

• He’s a great kisser. Perhaps “great” isn’t quite the word for it. I believe it’s the poodle influence in his DNA, but Otis is a French kisser. The only thing fast on this low-riding fluffball is his tongue. He loves to give French kisses and they’re so fast, you barely know you’ve been hit until you feel a bit queasy. But, what can I do? He’s French.

• He has Old Man Butt. Otis’ physique is truly amazing. He’s a long sausage with super-thick, stumpy legs and a droopy old man butt. Watching him walk is one of life’s great joys. He’s surprisingly athletic, a great walker, and completely adorable. He won’t win any awards for best physique, but his body is a genetic miracle.

• He’s a midnight pooper. Actually, he’s more of a 2 a.m. pooper, but midnight pooper has a Steve Miller ring to it; I couldn’t resist. Otis has pooped only once on walks or hikes. He prefers our yard and he has a very delicate constitution. His prime pooping time is 2 a.m. and, if I don’t wake up in time, he will go on the carpet by the back door. We’re trying to retrain his bowels, but all he’ll do is shake hands.

We’re so grateful to have our funny little guy. His health is tenuous and every day with him is a gift…which we occasionally find on the office carpet. Long live Otis!

Otis the Angel

Otis at the vet

Otis at the vet

Otis recently celebrated his first month in our home and we’re absolutely in love with him. He’s the sweetest angel. He’s calm, affectionate, gentle, and completely adorable. I can’t imagine why anyone would give him up! The little guy is perfect.

So, far we’ve been tackling his weight problem pretty hard. He’s on a portion-controlled diet of low-fat, low-cal kibble. And, as part of my New Year’s challenge, he’s getting a ton of exercise. We go on a short walk/jog most weekdays and a longer walk or hike on the weekends. He’s a champion walker. He hardly pulls, keeps up a strong pace for such stumpy little legs, and isn’t much into sniffing or peeing on everything.

Otis and Dougal on a hike last weekend. Happy pups!

Otis and Dougal on a hike last weekend. Happy pups!

I’ve never met a dog who likes walking so much! He seems motivated to lose weight and complete his daily exercise with gusto. I suspect he’s training for a wrestling death-match with Hank, but you’d have to ask him about that.

So far, our little champ has lost 1.7 pounds. He has a few more to go, but I’m confident he’s going to get there quickly.

Last week, he had a full blood workup at the vet. He has a low thyroid level, so the vet has him on a new medicine to help with that. As soon as his thyroid level comes up, we’ll start tapering him off one of his seizure medicines (he has epilepsy). We’re hoping to get him off that medicine completely.

The only negative I can say about him is that he’s a trash hound. We’ve had to start keeping our trash bin on top of our kitchen counter to keep Otis from knocking it over and having a little party. I accidentally left the can on the floor earlier this week and he got into some ground flax seeds and a bell pepper. His mustache was so crusty from the flax seeds! It was pretty gross. But, that’s the only thing he does that’s even remotely annoying. He’s a sweetheart!

Otis having a nap at my office

Otis having a nap at my office

We’re just so happy to have him home with us. I truly believe shelter dogs appreciate love at a level that cannot be matched by dogs from breeders. He’s so appreciative of our family and bounces around with a joy that is truly contagious. He’s an angel. A stumpy-legged, chubby, lovebug angel. We can’t get enough of him.