Giving Thanks, Year 4

November 23, 2017

Year 1, we asked you to click.

Year 2, we asked you to share.

Year 3, we asked you to pay it forward.

This year… well, 2017 has been tumultuous in so many ways.  Just getting up and going to work has been tough when it feels like the world is falling apart.  At work, we’re having to “do more with less.”  Sometimes you have to find something to brighten your day.

Meet Eddie.

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Eddie is a handsome, golden 8-year old.  He snores and he sheds and he gives slobbery kisses.  He goes on walkabout when his person is attending a “no dogs allowed” meeting and he gets bored.  He’s sweet.  He’s the most popular being at the office.  You see his face and it just makes you feel happy.

Eddie has a very important job as a guide dog for Q (not his real initial).  They are world travelers, happy hour partakers, and together they’re living their best bachelor lives.  They’ve been together for 6 years.  Q says it’s maybe taken that long for them to really get used to each other.

[Let me be clear: I understand what is or is not appropriate behavior between service animals and not-their-people.  I have read enough stories online about people distracting service animals and tragedy striking.  There are boundaries, and I respect them.  Everyone at work respects them, and we asked Q how we should or should not acknowledge Eddie when they joined our office.  I also asked Q’s permission before taking these pictures of Eddie.]

At 8, Eddie is starting to slow down.  His walking pace isn’t what it used to be, and he’s stopping for rests at times that may not be convenient or safe for he and Q.  Eddie is otherwise in good health, but he’s aging, like the rest of us.  In late September, a rumor went around the office that Q would be retiring Eddie and getting another service animal.

All hell broke loose, and that’s not an exaggeration.  There were shushed hallway conversations.  People asked Q what his plans were, what Eddie’s plans were.  Q wants Eddie to be able to be a dog in his twilight years.  No fewer than five coworkers offered to adopt Eddie when the time came (I was one of them).  Q is Eddie’s entire life.  Would he understand?

Yesterday was Eddie’s last day at the office.  He’s spending the holiday at a friend’s house and then heading off to his new home with X (also not his real initial).  I stopped in qscucIIzRXiBo4y1FOw1AQto see Q today, because he leaves right after the holiday to meet his new guide.  He’s nervous and excited.  I asked how he’s feeling about letting Eddie go.  The good news is that Eddie will be living with a family that are good friends with Q.  They’ll see each other.  He’ll get updates.  Q’s looking forward to meeting his new guide dog, but there’s so much that needs to happen as they bond and adapt to each other; it’s going to be a busy December for them. I cried a little when I said bye to Eddie, getting one final sloppy kiss that left a slime trail on my sweater (worth it).

While Q adapts to life with a new guide dog, Eddie is beginning a transition to civilian life.  He’s going to be living with a family with small children.  He’s got a yard and extra room in a house.  But he won’t be hopping a plane for a jiu-jitsu tournament or heading down to a local pub for a young professional’s meet up.  Not often, anyway.  Suburban life awaits him.

We wanted to do something for Eddie, because he deserves to be rewarded for doing his job so well for so long, and to celebrate this transition to retirement.

This year, we’re happy to give Eddie a 6-month subscription to BarkBox.  Zozo loves his BarkBox and seems to know that the blue and tan box is for him when it appears on our porch each month.  The treats are good quality and the toys are fantastic and durable.  Our hope is that Eddie will enjoy these special deliveries, too, that are just for him.

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#naughty

December 2014

Barkbox knows us so well!

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Dinner bell

When they were both small and we were teaching house rules and house breaking, Zozo and MJ ate in their crates.  It afforded them a contained place for their splashing (they’re both super-messy eaters, which happens to be a proud family trait), and a required quiet-time after meals for digestion.  During the quiet-time, James and I usually inhaled our own meals.

Now that they’re older, the “rules” of mealtime haven’t changed, but the locations have.  We separate the dogs when they eat.  Zozo dines in the kitchen, the privilege of the first born furbaby.  He sits nicely at his place mat, waiting for his bowls to be filled and to be released to eat (“take it”).  He then daintily selects one kibble pellet at a time until his bowl is empty and his water is sloshed all over the kitchen floor.

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The little girl eats in her room.  She has to go to her crate and wait to be released for food, after which we gate her in.  She snarfs down her meal like someone will take it away before she’s finished.  And then she looks expectantly for more.  Hence the separation: if we leave her room open, she’ll try to steal some of Doodle’s food, and a fight ensues.

To be very clear, our dogs never go hungry.  If anything, they could stand to shave a pound or two off from snacks and treats and cookies and dog beer.  Yes, dog beer is a thing.  We tried it once in a BarkBox, and they liked it and… well that’s a post for another day.

But because MJ eats in such a rush, she’s plagued with burps and hiccups and stinky-poots.  So we’ve spent some time investigating ways to slow her down.

We’ve put tennis balls in her food dish, forcing her to work around them.  She snout-bumps the ball out of the dish or picks it up and shows off her “drop it” skills, then returns to devour the meal. Adorabull.

Real Simple magazine offered a discount code to try the Dog Games Slo-Bowl Feeder, from which we expected magical things.  It’s colorful and light weight and fairly sturdy and dishwasher safe (score).  The kibble bits spread in grooved channels, making the pups work to snag a bite.

miss flower bowl

When we first put this bowl down in front of her, MJ grumbled, “You gotta be kiddin’ me” and huffed in frustration.  It took her 10 minutes to eat her meal.  The second time we used it, she cleaned her plate in 8 minutes.  Then 6, then 5….She figured out that if she hoovers the food, she doesn’t have to work to eat. That’s right, MJ discovered a life-hack and outsmarted this very cool food bowl.  We’re back to blink-and-you’ve-missed-it-meals.

Then I read a great post from Peace Love and Fostering about the Kong Wobbler.  Part mental game, part exercise, simply place your kibble serving in the Wobbler, put it down, and enjoy the show.

Unfortunately, the way we have the room set up means mealtime requires supervision because the Wobbler can get stuck in corners.  That’s entirely our fault, but our pit-nacious girl doesn’t let that slow her down as she plays with her food.  Or fights for it.  I suppose that’s up to opinion.

And because of this delightful device, Zozo now finishes his meal before MJ.  He usually hangs out to watch the hunger games, too.  Jerk.IMG_1196

MJ’s brain gets much-needed problem-solving exercise, she eats slower, and she’s less stinky.  That is the trifecta of success!