Puppy’s First Birthday!

May 18, 2011 § 7 Comments

Happy birthday, sweet Annie-girl! 🙂

Our little Annie has turned ONE!

We’ve only had her for about nine of those months (since the end of August last year), but we have thoroughly enjoyed our time with her during this first year. 🙂

So, in honor of Annie’s birthday, here are her accomplishments:

1. Sit. One of Annie’s first commands to learn was “sit.” All I had to do was gently press on her haunches, say “sit,” and give our hand signal. She learned to sit in about two weeks.

2. Wait/Stay. This was probably the second of Annie’s commands. It took her only a few days to learn to wait/stay.

3. Potty bell. Annie learned fairly on that the back door is for going outside to potty…but she wouldn’t tell us that she was by the door. Next thing we knew, she’d have an accident because she couldn’t hold it. So, I nailed a jingle bell to the wall by the door, showed her to ring the bell while I said “potty,” and she learned it in only a few days. Now she’s smart enough to know that if she rings the bell, then she gets to go outside to sniff and walk around.

4. Shake/High-five. With the help of a treat and some nudging, Annie learned “shake” fairly quickly. Annie learned “high-five” the same time she learned “shake.” She loves to do either and both because they make me so happy. She’s so adorable when she does these commands.

5. Quiet/Hush. Shortly after Annie grew into her “big girl” bark, we taught her “quiet” and “hush.” These days, when we tell her “hush” after a particularly painful bark, she tends to do a little rumbly “back-talk.” Maybe she’ll grow out of that soon, too.

6. Lay down. A cookie on the ground just a little ways away from Annie. That’s all it took. She picked it up immediately. Now Annie knows that she has to shake, high-five, and lay down in order to get a cookie. Sometimes she does all three at the same time. It’s the cutest damn thing I’ve ever seen!

7. Come/come back. This one has been the hardest one to learn, but Annie’s getting there. We use cookies sometimes and shower her with lots of love when she obeys. “Come back” is for when we’re walking around and she gets ahead of me. Right now, we’re doing “come back” on the leash. I’m hopeful that one day we’ll be able to do it off the leash. That will be an important command to learn for the park.

8. Go get it/bring it back. These are for fetching. We’re working on teaching Annie to wait until we command her to “go get it” before she gets the chance to run after a tossed toy in order to “bring it back.” She is always so proud of herself when she brings a toy back.

9. Night-night. We tell Annie this when it’s time for her to go to the guest bathroom, which is where she spends the day when Robert and I are out of the house.

10. Leave it. Annie knows to step back and sit when we tell her to “leave it”–this can be for food, toys, treats, cats, whatever. Sometimes the cats are more difficult to leave alone, particularly Callie. But she’s learning. Maybe by her second person we’ll have this one down! 🙂

What we’d like to learn next year
I think over this next year, I’d like her to learn how to come/come back without any trouble, and particularly to leave Callie alone with little verbal direction. I’d also like for her to learn “quiet/hush” without back-talk. I’d love to take her to the park off the leash. I’ve seen people running with their dogs (something I’d love to do with her once my back is healed up), and they’re often off-leash. Finally, I want to teach her some more “fun” tricks like “roll over,” “play dead,” and fetching frisbees in midair. Robert would like her to learn “put it up,” so she can learn to put her toys away. Also, he wants her to learn “get down” better–so far, she still gets hyper when we tell her “get down,” but she really needs to learn to “get down” off the couches when we tell her to.

In the meantime, though, I am pleased with the kind of dog our little puppy girl is turning into.

Happy first birthday, Annie!

UTI rears its ugly head…for the third time

April 23, 2011 § 6 Comments

And, just like that, Annie’s back on an antibiotic. This is her third UTI since September. Of course, she wouldn’t offer a urine sample despite the fact that she desperately had to pee moments before we quickly loaded her into the car. This time, I thought, this time she’ll actually offer a urine sample! Annie did start to potty after a several-minutes-long tour of the outdoor facilities at the vet clinic, but when the tech moved forward to catch the sample in a cup, Annie turned around, wagging her tail. She thought the tech was playing. It was too sweet, really. But her behavior alone (incessant post-potty licking, dribble trails around the house) convinced Dr. Vet (who we absolutely adore) to prescribe her some meds. We went home with our own cup to catch a urine sample in two weeks. I’ve already done this before, so I know it won’t be terribly difficult.

We’re at the point now where we’re discussing dietary options. She’s on Science Diet Puppy, but she’ll turn one in May, so she’s close to adult food anyway. Dr. Vet wants us to try Royal Canin or ProPlan before we start talking about a prescription diet. I hope either of those works well–I’m worried a prescription diet would be expensive.

But you know what? Annie’s our sweet little angel-girl, and she’s worth any cost. Even if it means paying for more meds. Even if it means changing her diet. Even if it means buying stock in Resolve. She’s a good girl with a fickle urinary tract.

Such a sweet face.

Tension, taxes, and ticks–oh my!

April 4, 2011 § 11 Comments

Today was marked by three things:

1. Tension
I keep forgetting to post the update from my orthopedist last Wednesday. He X-rayed my back and said that the vertebrae from the first surgical site were still intact. The best, educated guess at this point is that my left-side sciatic nerve is “traumatized” from the herniation in 2008. He said that sometimes what can happen is that when that area becomes inflamed, the nerve sort of “overreacts” and shoots pain signals down the leg. He put me on a steroid and a pain killer. I take the pain killer at bedtime to help me sleep (and boy does it ever!), and this morning was my final dose of the steroid. I still feel pain in my left leg–it’s similar to tension. I generally want to just remove my leg and let it hurt apart from me for a while. I have a follow-up appointment with my doctor on the 13th. I’m still holding out hope that the steroid will take a little more time to work in my body and will do something amazing over the next couple of weeks.

2. Taxes
This basically says it all, right? I hate taxes. Like, hate them. I’m always nervous that I’ve done them dreadfully wrong. I guess if I were really concerned about it, I could take some courses from H&R Block or someone similar, but in the meantime, I’ll just sit around and chew my fingernails to nibs. The good news is that our forms are filled out. Now I just need my spouse’s signature, and these puppies plus one ginormo check will be headed toward their disparate treasuries tout-suite.

3. Ticks
I found a little, eensy-weensy tick on Annie’s foot earlier today. I panicked and called V…and then the vet when V wasn’t able to answer. The receptionist I spoke to was really sweet and helped calm me down. Of course, my first thought was, “Lyme Disease of Torture and Death!!!” But the receptionist assured me that I could remove it and kill it myself, otherwise the vet would be more than happy to do it for me. I took some breaths and told her I’d try first, and would seek veterinary assistance only if I absolutely couldn’t get the tick. I managed to get Annie to lay down calmly; then I took a pair of tweezers, some rubbing alcohol, and got to work. It took no time whatsoever because this eensy-weensy tick wasn’t even properly attached yet. It was definitely trying, but it didn’t have its head fully buried (thank goodness). I put it in the rubbing alcohol bath to die and watched it carefully to make sure I saw a head and pincers. I’m pretty sure I did see them…but I’ll be watching Annie’s leg closely over the next couple of days, just in case.

And, there you have it, folks. My busy Monday. Back pain. Uncle Sam’s money. And my first encounter with a tick.

It’s been a banner day in the Hab. household!

Day of relaxation

March 26, 2011 § 5 Comments

“And then I said to myself, ‘Self,’ I said, ‘Self, it is time to do right by you!”

This morning, I woke up extremely stiff and sore, and I thought it would be a brilliant idea to try loosen up with a walk at the park. I brought my favorite little walking buddy with me, and she did superbly as usual. Although I failed in my mission not to leave the house, I did enjoy the walk…until it started to hurt again. Sigh.

Annie is still conked out, though–she and I took an awesome nap when we got home, and now we’re getting ready to have dinner, since it’s after 6…oh dear, it’s actually almost 7. I’ve lost track of time.

I’m probably going to do more of this same thing tomorrow. It’s been nice just laying around entirely guilt-free.

Sometimes life just requires you to high-five a puppy

March 4, 2011 § 5 Comments

I’m dangerously close to missing my very first post for the Post a Day Challenge. But I won’t. Because it’s still 10:28 here in my neck of the woods. Boo-yah!

In a very short post, I shall demonstrate to you precisely why sometimes we have to high-five a puppy.

Take Annie, for instance.

Okay, that's just an expression. Please don't literally take Annie.

In only a few short days, Annie has learned how to shake and high five. Why is the latter particularly awesome?

Because sometimes, like after a day of amazing accomplishments…or a day of rest…., you just really have to high-five a puppy. She gets the best look on her face, too–ears go down and back, like she’s really concentrating, she pulls her head back so that she displays her double-chin, and then she just starts going for it. Sometimes, most times really, Annie does the high-five superbly well.

But on particularly wonderful occasions, Annie will give you the double-high five, placing both paws in your hand. I’m working on teaching her the word “dance” when she does this so that she and I can bust a move when I feel like a high-five won’t do.

In the meantime, high-five the nearest puppy to you. It will make your day so much better.

And on that note, I’m leaving this post behind and returning to the couch where I’m going to enjoy my alcohol-induced buzz. ‘Night y’all!

See? I knew I wasn’t crazy: or, why I love my vet

February 19, 2011 § 6 Comments

For the past few days (several?) Annie has been having some accidents in the house. They’re not big puddles. They’re not on anything of particular value to us (although…I’ll come back to this in a moment). They’re these little dribbly trails that indicate where she was walking (apparently in twisty patterns, as though she were lost). And, the most befuddling of all: she still rings her little jingle bell by the door to tell us when she has to go potty. Just sometimes we’ll walk into another room and find a dribbly trail.

Flashback to September.

Less than a couple of weeks after we brought her home, Annie developed a UTI–the dreaded urinary tract infection. We managed to catch her condition before red blood cells appeared on the scene, thank goodness. We had taken Annie for a routine puppy wellness check, and our vet (who we abso-stinking-lutely adore) asked us how potty training was going.

“Well…” Robert and I said simultaneously.
“We got her this bell to ring by the back door,” I said. “And it only took her five days to learn the bell. So generally we’re doing pretty well. But then….”
“Sometimes we’ll find these accidents in the house when she hasn’t rung the bell,” Robert finished.
Dr. Vet looked contemplative for a moment and asked, “Are they puddles?”
“No…” I said, suddenly feeling like we were uncovering a great Annie-sized mystery. “They’re more like little trails…like dribbles. It really looks to me like she might have started to pee before she realized she should ring the bell.”
Dr. Vet looked at her tech and said, “I think we’ll want to run a urine sample. It could very well be a urinary tract infection. Female puppies in particular are prone to them.”

Several minutes later, the urinalysis came back, white blood cell positive–an indicator for infection. She prescribed us two weeks’ worth of Clavamox, and Annie soon started to feel better and stopped dribbling on the carpet.

Flash forward to today.

This morning, I awoke to find a chewed-up trouser sock (one of Robert’s…sigh…) as well as little dribble trails of pee all around the front of our bedroom by the door. A couple of my sweaters that had been on the floor were in the line of fire as well. I woke Robert up immediately. “We have a problem!” I told him. And we set to work–he got out the Resolve to spray the carpet (we’ve already gone through an entire can in a few days, since this started), and I threw my sweaters into the wash and Robert’s sock into the trash.

After breakfast and another potty break, Robert and I attempted to make sense of what happened. We tossed around the obvious (maybe she’s pushing boundaries, maybe she’s not as potty trained as we had originally thought), but then we started to recall her last UTI. I called Dr. Vet and made an appointment to have her seen immediately. Of course, since she had already emptied her tank in our bedroom and the yard after breakfast, Annie wasn’t forthright with a urine sample at the veterinary office. But Dr. Vet didn’t even need one.

Dr. Vet asked me to explain what had happened (after all, she had just seen us a week ago for her second round of the flu vaccination), so I walked her through what we’ve been experiencing this week. “I don’t know, Dr. Vet. Do you think I’m overreacting? Is she just being defiant?”
Dr. Vet smiled and shook her head. “It doesn’t make sense for her to decide to sometimes ring the bell to go outside and sometimes not. When dogs are trained, they’re trained. She wouldn’t be making active decisions like that.”
“Yeah…it just doesn’t seem like she’s acting out. It’s not like she’s peeing on our bed,” I told her.

As I was talking, Dr. Vet knelt on the floor with Annie and loved on her (Annie so so loves her Dr. Vet love). Annie laid on the floor, showing her pink belly, happily snorting and spinning her little tail. And then Dr. Vet reached out and palpated Annie’s bladder. And Annie sprung up to her feet, pinned her ears back, and leaned against the wall. If she could have tucked her tail down, I’m sure she would have. Dr. Vet attempted once more to palpate her bladder. Annie cried and jerked away from the tech’s hold.

“Yeah,” Dr. Vet said soothingly to Annie. “That doesn’t feel good, does it, sweet thing? I’m sorry to hurt you…but you don’t want me to touch your bladder, huh?” Looking up at me, Dr. Vet smiled and said, “It’s okay she wouldn’t give us a urine sample. That reaction has confirmed it for me. Her bladder is painful, so I’m going to go ahead and prescribe her an antibiotic rather than keep putting her through a painful examination.”

I was so grateful to Dr. Vet for reassuring me that I was not overreacting, that I was not jumping at shadows. I am sorry that my poor little puppy girl isn’t feeling well, but I’m also glad that Dr. Vet has taught Robert and me the early early warning signs of a UTI that can help us get a diagnosis before the infection gets really painful.

So here’s to amazing vets everywhere who help loving pet owners take care of these precious animals. 🙂

How to make me smile…

February 17, 2011 § 4 Comments

Even on the most stressful days or weeks or years, there is still one single, absolutely best way to make me smile:

Showing me these faces!

To me, these are the four sweetest faces on the planet.

Leigh-Leigh and the Woogs--and no, the heating pad is not turned on. 😉

Not dead, just sleeping like it! 😉

The puppy-head herself! Annie-girl at her favorite window.

Look at how big she's grown!

How would you like seeing that sweetness in your library?

(I know, I know–this post is Annie-heavy, but I wanted you guys to see just how beautiful and big she’s gotten! 🙂 She’s now 9 months old as of yesterday [2/16] and weighs about 36 pounds.)

Our Christmas Adventure

December 6, 2010 § 4 Comments

Well, technically, it’s not Christmas day yet…but we still have had an adventurous Christmas. But, before I get to the adventure part, allow me to whisk you away on the journey to the adventure.

Before doing anything else, we laid out our Christmas tree trash bag to help us transport the tree to its final resting place after the holidays. (Its final resting place is “the land” on which my father-in-law hunts with his friends. We take our tree there so that it can provide housing for birds, chipmunks, squirrels, and other critters.) Apparently we didn’t do a very good job because Beatrice decided to help us spread it out better.

Beatrice is certain this is the way to help me open up and spread out the Christmas tree bag.

Realizing that we could only stand to receive more “help” from our furry little ones, we decided to close all four of them in our bedroom. This way, we could put the tree into its stand outside and take our time hauling it into the living room, while also leaving the back door open until we were finished. After we set the tree up, we decided it was time to release the animals–they were beginning to scratch the door and caterwaul (Callie and Annie are particularly good at this–you’d think they were dying). Before we take the time to decorate the tree, of course, I had to snap a picture of Annie and Milton posing in front of the tree! I didn’t like the lighting of this particular shot, but I love how Callie is sneaking a sniff from the couch.

Milton and Annie attempt to pose in front of the tree. Callie sneakily sniffs the branches.

Because I was unhappy with that particular shot, I employ Robert’s help (as well as a couple of cookies) in order to get the shot below. I think Annie would have sat for the rest of the day, just for the promise of the cookie that dangled over my head.

Much better portrait of Milton and Annie! Look at his smile!

After our impromptu photo shoot, we decided to get started decorating. Of course, lights go on first–and putting those on the tree can really be a time-consuming process. Milton will attest to that–he was pooped watching us Robert put the lights up around the tree!

Milt nearly passes out from the excitement.

We finished decorating our tree (of which I have absolutely no good pictures), and then ran out of the house to meet our friends for dinner and a high school football game. Christmas decorating was over. Or so I thought.

And now begins our real adventure….

The next morning started normally enough: I fed the dogs and cats, took the dogs out to go potty, went to wash my hands…and then I heard an ominous crash! When I walked into the living room, our beautifully decorated tree was laying across the coffee table. I told Robert to come quickly while I shut all the animals in our bedroom again–not knowing whether or not there was glass anywhere. Here’s what I think happened: Annie, my curious little monkey, managed to get around the back of the tree, stood up to sniff it better, and ended up pushing it over onto the coffee table. I know it wasn’t Milton because 1. he’s much too large to get behind the tree and 2. he was in the bedroom waiting for Robert to get up. I know it wasn’t the cats because, although they can fit behind the tree, they aren’t strong enough to push it over. Plus…Annie had a guilty expression on her face. Fortunately, the only ornament to bite it was a non-sentimental ornament, and I think I might actually have a few other ones exactly like it. (It was a hand-made [by my sweet cousin] favor for my sister’s bridal shower that my cousin and I co-hosted. For that reason alone, it’s sentimental. But I do think I have a couple of the extras, so I take relief in that.)

Anyway, after about an hour of trying to straighten the tree and set it back to rights, we realized that our “economical” (read: cheap) plastic tree stand had broken. The force of the fall must have stripped the plastic so that the bolt would only spin and spin. Then, whenever we thought Robert had managed to get some purchase on it to actually screw it into the stand toward the tree, the weight of the tree would only push the bolt back out again, and the tree would fall again. Sigh. So, we knew we had to get a new stand, but in the meantime we left it leaning against the wall. (Oh yes, after we removed the more precious ornaments that had miraculously not smashed to smithereens in the fall.)


Meet our new tree stand: “Santa’s Last Stand.” It’s metal, sturdy, and the stand itself has a large base. It also has a metal spike in the center, which is a bit tricky to secure the tree to, but we eventually got it.

Santa's Last Stand to the rescue! I see you back there, Annie.

We decided to remove all ornaments and lights because everything was just a complete mess. I helped Robert get the tree into the new stand, and then we redressed our tree from top to bottom (including lights). This time, three of the four animals were secured in our bedroom; Callie was granted permission to wander around because she is the least likely to bother us while we’re working. She watched from a safe distance and probably wondered exactly what in the hell we were doing, but at least she wasn’t stuck in the room with the dogs.

Finally, after long last, Christmas is officially set up in our house. I really believe that this tree stand is The One. We’ll probably get better at securing the tree on the metal spike as the years go by.

I know it looks a little crooked, but it's standing up straight. I was at an odd angle on the floor.

Merry Christmas, everyone! 🙂

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