Friday, December 30, 2011

We Have a Winner! Social Media for Social Good has Ended

the 28th has come and gone, so it looks like it's time to announce the winner of the cash prizes--$112 for the winner and $213 for the animal charity of the winner's choice. 

i'm not able to post about this in real time, so i'm linking you up to all the other bloggers who have been featuring this incredible giveaway, hosted by the lovely folks at Two Little Cavaliers and Pamper Yourself in Pink

please head over to any of the blogs on this linky list to find out who won this fabulous prize!

random desmond pix? why not.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Vacation = Sadness

in a few days, we leave for our very first trip to cleveland for a friend's wedding--a new year's eve wedding, in fact! this should be very exciting, and, under normal circumstances, i'd be busting at the seams to just go already. 

life with desmond does not provide normal circumstances. the night before we leave, we bring desmond to the dog sitter. i am sad. 

i've never been away from him for more than 24 hours. we'll be away from him for a large handful of days. too many for me, but i know it's a done deal.

i'm not worried about the sitter. he's stayed with her once before, and i know he will be in good hands with the companionship of kids and a sweet senior dalmation named spot. we found our sitter through this fantastic service called Goodnight Lucky
if you live in long island or eastern queens, i highly recommend you check out that link. if you don't live in those places, i highly recommend you check out that link and then open a business just like it to serve your local area.

there are any number of benefits to using Goodnight Lucky, but my very favorite one--and nearly the entire reason we chose them--is that your dog has company. all of the sitters who work for Goodnight Lucky must be home full time! your doggie will not be alone!

and that's crucial for desmond.

both of our sets of parents would be willing to watch desmond for us, but they also all work. desmond would have to be left in their homes alone all day. we've never tried leaving him alone somewhere other than our own house, so we're not sure if he would revert to separation anxiety destruction or not. he also might just be curious about his new surroundings and wind up making a mess of things while he's exploring. as you may or may not know, we do not and cannot crate desmond--or this wouldn't be any kind of issue. the way things stand, it's a bit risky for our parents.

so, Goodnight Lucky it is! and i don't have any problems with that at all. here are the things i am having a hard time with:
  • am i going to bawl my eyes out when we drop him off, therefore making him think something awful is happening?
  • is he going to miss us too much and be miserable for almost a week?
  • is he going to forget about us?
  • is he going to think we've abandoned him?
  • is he going to like his temporary family better than us?
  • is he going to show signs of separation anxiety at our place once we get back?
  • i'm off for a couple days before we bring him to the sitter. is this going to make things worse?
  • is he going to freak out when we start packing?
  • is he going to hate us for leaving him?
  • can i call him on the phone? is that weird? will it even be meaningful--will he know my voice if i talk to him on a phone? no, seriously, is that weird? i'm crazy, right?
  • what if there's some kind of medical emergency and we're not around?
  • what if there's some kind of crazy blizzard in cleveland--or NY for that matter--and we can't get home?
  • what if he gets lost?
  • more crazy-person thoughts, etc., etc.
i really, really, really don't want to leave him. the more i think about it, the more upset and nervous i get.

what can i do to be less insane? and what can i do to make this better/easier for him both before we leave? he will have all his stuff with him at the sitter's house and i plan to do our usual work-day leaving ritual with him in hopes that will seem "normal" (even though it will be at night). but, really, i'm freaking out. like a loon. please advise me before i go straight off the deep end and my husband decides to just leave me home while he goes off to have fun on a much-needed vacation.

on a total side note, you may have noticed that i posted six days in a row last week. i wanted to see what life would be like if i posted every day, as many folks do. it was exhausting and time consuming and resulted in many dirty looks from desmond while i was typing away and will probably not be happening again. i don't know how you people do it! i'm going to stick with my random non-schedule of posting and leave it at that, but--hey--at least i can say i tried. while we're traveling, i may not have much access to the magical world of the internets, so in case i don't say it later, please do have a wonderful and lovely new year's eve!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas from Desmond!

i know today is christmas eve, but on my side of the family that's the big day, so i thought i'd send our christmas wishes out now. this is, of course, the card we sent out to everyone (oddly, with the bottom part cut off. um...thanks, scanner). word on the street is the card was a big hit. we'll have to get real crazy with it next year, just to further cement the idea that we've totally lost our minds.

i hope you all enjoy your holiday, if this is your holiday. if it's not, well, i hope you enjoy the one you celebrate, too! cheers!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Crazy-Dog Holiday Décor

i keep reading all these other blog posts featuring big, gorgeous trees with pretty ornaments and feeling a little jealous.

last year was our first christmas in our first house, so we were finally able to get a big, real christmas tree. before that, we lived in apartments on the second floor, and it just wasn't that easy to get a big tree. instead, we would get tabletop trees or trees that were no more than 4 feet tall or so.

this year, i have a crazy dog. a dog who has been known to do his own landscaping. granted, it was on a plant, and it was a long time ago when he was causing lots of other destruction, but i felt nervous about a christmas tree, because it only took him three times to fully destroy that somewhat-significant plant. plus, there's the poisoning potential. he's a weird fella. i would not be surprised at all to find him munching down on some branches and quenching his thirst with pine-flavored water.

in addition to the tree, we have other decorations we typically display around the house. most of these are displayed at fairly low levels--on coffee tables, TV stands, hung from lower shelves, etc. clearly that was not going to be an option. actually, maybe i shouldn't say that. we don't really know if desmond would have bothered with these things or not, but i wanted to set him up to succeed instead of fail. i figure next year, he'll be almost 3 at this time, and we can give it a whirl. for now, if it ain't broke...

so, here are our semi-lame solutions to our crazy-dog holiday décor issues:

our wee li'l tree. it's a potted plant, actually, that we fully intend to transfer to the ground in the spring. we didn't want to have no tree, so we had to find something that was small enough to be easily hidden away in the spare room when we weren't home.

after leaving the table and place mats out for a couple weeks and seeing no signs of interest from desmond, we switched those out for a tree skirt instead.

so things are looking more like this now. still totally crazy, though, because all those ornaments are way too big for this tiny tree. it's kind of wild looking in person, but it makes us laugh.

here's one of those way-too-big ornaments. i got this for $10 through a doggyloot deal. it's not cheap looking at all. very nice. an excellent purchase for sure.

here's a pic of the tree lit up. we used two strands of battery-operated window lights we already had and taped the battery boxes to the back of the pot. this is a very high-end operation we're running over here.

here's where it gets more ridiculous. can you guess what this is?

how about now?

if you said, "that's obviously a wreath being used as a shade for a hanging pendant," you win a gold star!

so, yeah... that's the wreath we hung on our front door last year. this year we wanted to get a real wreath since we couldn't have the big real tree we wanted. we also didn't want to neglect our existing wreath. joey came up with this idea to take the glass shade off our dining room light and tie the wreath up to the metal frame that hangs from the ceiling. it's crazy but it works. we also then used the light's chain to hang some larger glass ornaments that were given to us by friends.

i have come to like this so much that i think i'll at least use the chain to hang ornaments every year.  the wreath...i don't know...

the rest of our decorations had to be placed out of desmond's reach, just in case. that means our house looks nuts, overall.

on top of our china cabinet is where this glass dish with beaded garland and a hurricane vase full of scented pine cones has to live when we aren't home. even our christmas cards have been hung up pretty high. i suspect that we'll wind up with enough cards to get down to the bottom-ish of the cabinet. that should be interesting...

desmond's stocking hangs from the top of our bar. all that's in it right now is one squeaky toy. most of his other gifts are edible, so they are stored in an upstairs bedroom, in their unopened shipping package. he still totally knows that box is for him, though. he sniffs at it like nuts whenever he follows us up there.

the floating shelf on the left houses many of our holiday knick-knacks, and we hung our stockings from the tops of the bookshelves in the living room--keeping them empty, of course, as a precaution. and, yes, that is a jets santa hat on top of the shelf.

here's the other stocking and our christmas-countdown pillow (safely stored away up top)

probably the worst part about all of this is that we are either too forgetful or too lazy to move half of this stuff down to a more normal level when we are home so we can enjoy it. even the tree sometimes winds up staying in the spare room. poor tree.

and while i'm talking about christmas, now seems like a good time to share our thanksgiving pictures! (aren't i the worst?)

here's desmond looking dapper before we left. doesn't it really look like he's wearing a white shirt since he's so white in the front?

showing off in front of the family

this is just to show you the tie & shirt collar more closely. the collar can go on around your dog's real collar and has a velcro closure. i love it. i want it in a million colors. we got it from Baxter Boo.

and here's the best picture we could get--out of, oh, seven or eight--of desmond and two of his human cousins (mozart the pomeranian's sisters):

i still think they're all very cute, but i may be biased

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Last Chance to Win Money for Yourself & Charity! Social Media for Social Good: Part 3

so, here we are at Part 3, the just-about-end, of the Social Media for Social Good: A Holiday Event for Pets cash giveaway (hosted by Two Little Cavaliers and Pamper Yourself in Pink).

today we have for you the last entry method. got google plus? or G+? or Google+? or whatever the kids are calling it these days? great! then this rafflecopter is for you!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Desmond's Budding Modeling Career

(definitely not my budding photography career, but i can live with that)

trying to be coy

this is just lazy

i don't know why, but i imagine he would be talking in an olde tyme voice here and say something that ends with, "...see?"

lost in thought

starting to get annoyed

"dad, please help me."

definitely aggravated with me

realizing i'm not going to stop so he better just look at the damn camera again

being all cute

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Liebster Blog Award Time!

update! i also just received this award from miss sophie & her momma over at Life with Sophie. thanks, patty!


i have some good news to share today with all of you: we're the recipients of not one but two liebster blog awards!

thank you so much Hawk, from the blog browndog cbr, and Pearl, from the blog Tricks for Treats.

here's how the award works:

Liebster more or less means "dearest" or "beloved" in German, and the award is intended to help up-and-coming blogs, traditionally with under 200 followers, get a little love from the blogging community. 
1. Copy and paste the award on our blog
2. Link back to the blogger who gave us the award
3. Pick our five favorite blogs with less than 200 followers, and leave a comment on their blog to let them know they have received the award.
4. Hope that the five blogs chosen will keep spreading the love and pass it on to five more blogs
so then, here are my five picks to pass this award along to. i'm not able to officially determine how many followers a blog has, other than with whatever Google Friend Connect or Networked Blogs information might be posted on the home page, so i'm mostly guessing. if i have chosen a blog that's super popular and fending off the paparazzi on a daily basis, please forgive me.

  • Barley & Ali is a blog about life's adventures with a somewhat-recently adopted shepherd mix. Barley is super cute, Ali's posts are highly entertaining, and the photos are great (way better than mine!).
  • Elizabeth writes the blog The Chronicles of Cardigan about her two corgis, Jon Farleigh and Dewi. The dogs are hilarious and so is Elizabeth's interpretation of everything they do.
  • Alfie of Alfie's Blog lives in London with his humans. He's an Entlebucher mountain dog, a breed I knew nothing about before I read Alfie's blog. I now officially want to get an Entlebucher mountain dog, because Alfie is the best. :-)
  • Dog is God in Reverse: My Life With Dogs is a blog that may make you feel like you need a nap. Kari cares for four dogs of different sizes and breeds who have different quirks and she always seems to be doing something or going somewhere (she also has an awesome living space, from what I can tell). Her Great Dane, Tori, is my favorite. I know you're not supposed to pick a favorite, but I can't help it. (Please don't tell Big Carl, Mesa, or Baily)
  • Married With Dawgs might make you feel jealous. Sarah gets to live the dream of owning her own doggie-related business (an eco-friendly boutique called NoPo Paws) and having pups by her side all day. Go check out cuties Hurley, Maggie, and Sadie.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dogs are Weird and Fun to Laugh At

desmond often sleeps in positions we don't understand. here's one we had a good chuckle over yesterday. how is this comfortable?? he's basically folded in half. also, his head kept slipping off my lap, not that he seemed to mind or notice. i moved it back for him, like a good momma.

all of my giggling did eventually disturb his slumber, so he punched me stretched and changed positions slightly.


perhaps desmond was just so horrified by the jets game that he lost all control of his body.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cash Giveaway! Social Media for Social Good: Part 2

ready for another way to enter to win $112 for you and $213 to give to the non-profit animal charity of your choice??

today's entries are twitter-centric; so, if you didn't want to use your facebook account to enter for the prize, or if you simply don't have a facebook account, perhaps this is the method for you! if you already entered with the facebook rafflecopter widget posted here, no worries--you can enter again today. and if you haven't yet entered with the facebook rafflecoper, no worries--head on back and go for it! all rafflecopter entry widgets will remain open until 12/29.

Friday, December 16, 2011

What We Can Learn When a Pet Passes On

last night, one of my very best friends accompanied her mother to the vet for the visit we all dread. their dog, dawson, went over the rainbow bridge.
dawson on a camping trip in 2008
i only got the privilege of spending time with dawson on a few occasions, but i can tell you that he was very gentle, very sweet, very laid-back, very furry--and very loved. i wish desmond could have met him and gotten to become DBFF with him as he has with dawson's niece, kona. i think he would have made various attempts to snuggle into dawson's golden fur and just relax while kona ran circles around them both.

would dawson not make the world's greatest pillow? how content does he look napping in the grass?

the one time i personally experienced the passing of a pet dog was during my childhood; my memory of that event is vague at best, other than the pain my mother went through. i'm unable to tell my friend that i understand how she feels right now in any real sense, but i know that this is a pain i can't begin to think about without getting very upset; so i can only imagine what's going on in her head and her heart. she spent her formative years caring for and living with dawson (whom she named in homage to--yup--dawson leery of the TV show Dawson's Creek. they both DO have gold locks and large heads). even when you know, as she did, that this day, this particular trip to the vet, is coming, it's not any less heart wrenching. i feel truly sad and sorry for her loss.

this news hit me hard for a few reasons. obviously, i love my friend to no end, so i immediately wanted to press a magic button to make her feel better. i also mourned the loss of dawson, even though i didn't know him well.

dogs are well intentioned in all they do, their passion for even the smallest moments of joy often makes it seem as though they are having the very best day ever, and their desire to please their caretakers is endless. it doesn't seem right that they don't get to stick around as long as humans do and that half the time it's we who have to make the call on when they leave us. it's especially maddening when you think about how many people out there don't even come close to having those qualities found in dogs that make them so easy to adore and call family.

when my friend told me what was happening, she also said, "go home and kiss des tonight." and i did. i hugged him extra tight a few times, and he didn't even seem to mind. i can only assume my friend went home, buried her head into kona's neck, and stayed there for quite a while.

all of this made me start questioning myself, and i wonder if my friend is thinking like this now, too.

how much of the time i spend with desmond is quality time? how often am i scrolling through twitter or checking email with one hand while absentmindedly petting him with the other? how often on our walks am i too busy being anxious or angry about his reactivity to remember how good and cute and attentive he was being before we saw that other dog? when he's not here anymore, am i going to wish i had let him sit on the couch with us even when we were eating dinner, instead of sending him away to his "dinner chair"? am i going to be mad at myself for not letting him sleep in the bed on my pillow/face more often when he's no longer there to say "no" to? when i lament about not having time to workout because of the dog, aren't i simply ridiculous? isn't having desmond in my life better than having defined abs?

another friend brought this up recently, when i was complaining about desmond's (and therefore MY) sleep issues--the idea that "he's not always going to be here, so just let him in the damn bed." it definitely struck me; i knew he was right, but it's hard getting logical advice to make sense to a very tired and frustrated woman. dawson's passing and the words of my friends have made everything swirl around in my brain.

i plan to be a dog trainer professionally. i plan to have people hand over their money to me in exchange for helping them learn how to encourage their dog to become well balanced. well balanced--not perfect. i definitely am not saying it's time to throw doggie manners or safety out the window and live blindly in a puddle of drool and hair and destroyed squeaker toys while desmond dines on a plethora of chicken and rib bones served to him on the good china. surely, i need to set an example for my future clients. i mean, who is going to hire me if my dog is a nutcase? however, i do think it's time to stop taking things so seriously in our household when it comes to desmond's antics. he's allowed to screw up, and so are we. it's OK if he makes a mess--we're capable of cleaning. more importantly, he's allowed to be a dog! that's what we wanted in the first place, isn't it? a dog?

maybe what makes us--the three of us--happy, in our own home, can be OK even if it's not what some folks would expect or prefer or allow if they were in charge. maybe i can share my food with desmond (when it's safe) and not feel guilty, like an irresponsible dog mom. maybe i think it's cute when he decides it's time to play fetch and alerts me by dropping the ball at my feet. maybe i'd like to keep my couch pillows out all the time so i can use them and desmond can, too, instead of reserving them for guests at parties. maybe my priorities aren't quite right and i'm too worried about what other people think of me as a dog owner. (and those guests who are concerned about leaving my home with the little dog hair that's left on the pillows after i've cleaned them attached to their clothes should no longer be guests.)

we're not going to be perfect. desmond is not going to be perfect, ever. neither is kona. or jackie. or luca. or nala. or cosmo. or mozart. or shea. or darius. or disa. or bernie. or winston. or tank. or bruiser. or any of the dogs of our friends or any of the dogs anywhere. not even military, police, and therapy dogs are perfect. dawson wasn't perfect either--and that's OK. you don't have to be perfect to be perfectly lovable.

RIP, Dawson. you'll be missed and loved always.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Social Media for Social Good: Part 1

folks, remember when i talked about the holiday blogging event for pets that involved fundraising and helping animals (any animal, not just doggies) and even a cash prize for the winner?

well, that all starts today! (technically it started at 9AM eastern, but i wasn't able to pull that off, so better late than never.)

there will be a total of three posts with a different way to get involved in each. today is the facebook entry. (the posts to follow will involve twitter and google+ entries, if FB's not your thing.)

if you would like some more information/details/rules about this event & giveaway, please head over to Two Little Cavaliers, or Pamper Yourself in Pink, as those are the hosting blogs. if you would like to just get to entering already, please see below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

as a reminder, all the bloggers who joined up can enter the giveaway, too. i am hoping to win so that i can give 100% of the prize to Ruff House Rescue, the great organization who saved my baby from certain death at animal control.

image from RHR's website, which i have linked to above

they've got lots of sweet and cute dogs who need loving forever homes, some of whom have been there way too long. foster parents would be a thrill for these dogs, too! you can see their adoptable pets here on their petfinder page and here on their facebook page. in fact, the FB page is often updated more frequently & quickly, so be certain to check it out.

i've previously discussed how much this organization means to me, in my Adopt-a-Less-Adoptable-Pet Week post (where i included some sad & skinny photos of desmond from before we made him our furry son) and in my Blog the Change Day post. you can also read more about desmond's history at the top of the blog in the About Desmond section.

thank you so much for reading and participating and all you do to increase awareness of animal issues! don't forget to check back for the other two posts in a few days.

also, for your entertainment, i'm including the list of all the blogs that are participating. feel free to visit them and say hi.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Part 3: Is Your Dog Anxious? Let's Review Composure Calming Treats

Update May 2013: I noticed this entry was getting some traffic, so I felt I should post a quick update about how well Composure calming chews work when the going gets tough. We were doing really well with Composure for a long time. As Desmond's dog-related anxiety and leash reactivity got worse, we had to up the dosage on the chews, to about 5 at a time. After Hurricane Sandy hit and left us displaced, his anxiety and reactivity continued to worsen, his separation anxiety returned, and Composure completely stopped having any effect on him. We have since switched to both Xanax and Prozac in combination, which you can read more about here and here.


NOTE: this post is part three of a three-part series about anxiety issues we've faced with desmond. part one can be found here. part two lives here.

today is your lucky day. i am not going to string you along and force you to read all my blather before telling you the good news that Composure chews work.

they freakin work!

go get them right now--you don't even need your vet to do it. (well, you should definitely at least consult your vet, but i mean you can buy these things online, not just as the vet's office. and they are cheaper online anyway.)

your luck doesn't run out there! here's a random photo of desmond being cute with his daddy, just because:

back to business.

these chews help desmond with his night restlessness (not that he's sleeping through all the way, but i'll take waking up once or twice over waking up every hour)...

and when we are getting ready to go out without him at a non-work-exit time (he has much more of a problem with us leaving at random times, if we're off, or on weekends than he does every morning when we head to the train. i guess he's used to that routine, so something out of the ordinary makes him nervous. don't worry, des! we'll always come back for you!)...

and in the car. to an extent. i think we'll need to work on some counterconditioning and see if that helps him more, but he was definitely more calm in the car than i've seen him be in months. (even when he saw a dog outside, his vocalization was toned down. super awesome.)...

and when we need him to be calm and still because he has a boo boo, like he did yesterday after he came back in from running around in the yard. his paw pad by the dew claw (i like to call that his thumb) got cut somehow out there (joey thinks that perhaps it happened when desmond kind of stopped short/slid to a halt on the new concrete) and the whole top of it came off more or less (technically, it's still attached, but barely. it's going to fall off, for sure.).

side note: i just noticed i'm using a lot of parenthesis today. is that really annoying? i'll try to stop. more random pics of desmond? why certainly!

here he is helping me fold a tarp

what a pal!
end side note.

desmond didn't even notice his boo boo until we made an attempt to clean it up and cover it, which is when he got really worked up--the usual, with the shaking and crying and teeth grinding. this time, he also tried to run away. normally, he has no problems with us fixing him, and he's never had a problem with the antiseptic drops or the liquid bandage before, but yesterday he wasn't having it. into the mouth three stress-reducing chews went. three is one more than the two a 55-pound dog would normally get, but the vet told us we could give him an extra if we ever needed it for an exceptionally stressful experience.

unfortunately, these things take about 30 minutes to kick in, so they were no help at all while i was playing clara barton, and all the fidgeting while joey had desmond corralled upside down in his lap made for a pretty sad looking wrap on desmond's leg that fell right off as soon as des stood up.

soon enough, a magical thing happened: desmond went off to happy land.

he wasn't passed out (yet) but just relaxed and pleased looking. he chilled out on the couch like it was the softest cloud in all the universe. he seemed thoroughly content. he was like this for hours, until the treats made him too tired to stay awake anymore and then we watched him try to fight it off for a few minutes. it was kind of cute and kind of sad. poor guy. i would not "drug" him up with the extra treat just for kicks or so he'll simply calm down and leave me alone for a while, but this was necessary. we needed him to let us properly take care of his leg and we needed him to not be attempting to run around and play fetch.

so, things are working out great so far with Composure. hooray!

what's very interesting to me is that these treats have less thiamine in them than any of the previous store-bought varieties we've tried--and we thought thiamine was the It Factor. apparently, it's this fancy colostrum calming complex instead:

[2012 update: it is neither of those things--but the l-theanine that really does the trick. also, after switching vets, we found out that a dog of desmond's size and anxiety level actually needs approx. 100mg of the stuff and it should be in his system at all times. wowza. so we are now giving him 5 chews a day]
see? fancy. so fancy that if i wanted to type it here, i'd have to go look up the HTML to make it happen, which i am feeling far too lazy for on this oh-my-gosh-it's-almost-time-for-my-week-off-after-christmas-i-am-so-close-will-i-make-it? monday.

not to say that thiamine is not associated with stress reduction--it surely is--but we've been missing the mark the whole time. this must be why i don't get paid the big vet money. also because i am not a vet.

random bonus of Composure chews? they smell delicious, which is a nice change from most treats. i have been tempted to quickly touch my tongue to one and give it a little taste, but i can't bring myself to do it. i'm sure joey would eagerly volunteer to munch on some if anyone would like to request a human sampling and review.

they don't look half bad either--and desmond absolutely loves them. win-win.

on christmas eve, we'll be going on another over-an-hour drive, and i'm seriously considering giving desmond that extra calming treat for the trip. last time was just awful. i think we all had a headache by the time we got to thanksgiving. between that and the new Roadie we got, i'm hoping we'll have found a working combination that will keep everyone in the car safe and feeling fine.

if any of you decide to try the treats at home with your pup, please do let me know how it worked out for you! i hope it yields the same results.

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