February 27, 2014

I’ve had the opportunity to work from home recently, due to illness and snow-tastrophies and general boss-omeness (that’s “boss+awesome” for those of you who don’t fluently speak Kari).

It’s a privilege to work in my pjs, with snacks and coffee and couches in easy reach.  And puppy snuggles.

Yes, during those days when the living room/kitchen counter/office/hammock becomes my command center, our furbabies are  (mostly) ideal coworkers.

Zo typically camps out, moving between napping (The Dorothy Intervention of daylight hours) IMG_1171

and participating in conference calls.  That is, he’s a snoring, adorable mound until I unmute the phone to participate in a meeting, at which time he growls, grumbles, and provides a rousing soundtrack to my conversation.  He’s also great at interrupting people who drone on and on…What can I say?  He’s got mad skillz.

MJ takes advantage of the human-at-home-which-means-no-crate time by lounging on her puppy-approved end of the couch.


She also pops over to my workspace, to sit and stare.  And judge me.  After which she gives a big, huffy sigh and wiggles away.

She sat on the floor in that exact stop and started at me for 10 minutes straight.

She sat on the floor in that exact spot and stared at me for 10 minutes straight.

Inevitably, something adorable like this happens, which I only discover when I try to stand up and ruin the sibling-love moment by falling over them.


Helpers to the end!

I could eat.

July 2011

On a particularly lazy Sunday, we huddle in the house waiting out a summer storm. James makes a killer grilled cheese sandwich, and he’s been begged into submission and is shuffling around the kitchen making our lunch. Pans clang, burners ignite.  Out comes the bread loaf, cheese slices and butter.  The commotion draws Doodle’s attention, and he becomes the instant helper by standing right behind James while he works.

Helper= trip hazard

MJ snores on the couch, indifferent to the activity in the next room.

mj is not interested.

mj is not interested.

James peels open the Kraft American Cheese Singles slice.  MJ bolts into the kitchen. There’s something about that plastic noise that has her unsettled.

“Hey Miss, what’s up?  We’re making lunch,” James chats.

Zo shifts his settled position into the middle of the kitchen, and MJ begins duckling-stalking behind James as he moves from counter to cook-top.  She steps on/over Doodle.  Ears pert, eyes open, sniffing the air.

Without thinking about it, James takes a small corner of cheese and offers it to Zo.  MJ erupts in her Brontosaurus whine.  How dare she be overlooked and unoffered.  She screams for her fair share.

“Ok, Miss.  Hold on.”  He tears a piece of cheese.  “Sit.”

From the other room, I can hear her butt hit hard on the floor.  She slurps the cheese down.

“Good girl!  Stay.”  James walks a few steps away.  She’s twitchy but working very hard to stay put.  “COME!”

From the couch, I hear the jingles of the furbaby stampede.  “Sit.”  Two dog rumps thwap the ground.


Ladies and Gentlemen: we have a winner.

This Girl will do anything for Kraft singles.  It’s her Klondike bar; her holy grail.  Within a week, she’s mastering her cues for a tiny nibble of cheese.

We replenish our stock, but this time with the white singles slices (which I prefer).  MJ won’t take them.  She turns her snoot up and sulks away.  Back to the store we go.

Only the yellow slices for this princess.


Lessons Learned by New Fur Parents, Part II

 April – May 2011

1.  Adopting a puppy is the perfect excuse to get Lasik eye surgery.  This will really hit home the first time you stumble outside in the middle of the night for a pit-stop (get it?) without glasses and the puppy bolts into the darkness of the yard after a squirrel/bird/shadow/you couldn’t see it anyway. Blind whisper-shouting-hunting in the dark doesn’t get anything but nasty, passive aggressive comments from the Suburban Vampire Neighbors the next day.

2. Helpful hint that the Monks forgot to mention: when you have to wake up the puppy for an outting overnight, it’s time to push the alarm back an hour.  One whole, glorious hour.

3.  Know a good time to get hardwood floors installed?  When you bring home a puppy.  The floors go from looking new to weathered in a week.  PS: If you would like to borrow our dogs for a weekend to break in your new floors, just let me know.  They’re helpers, really.

4.  If the puppy doesn’t like where you’ve positioned her crate along the back of the couch, she’ll move herself.  Or, Fur-shui.IMG_0136

 5.  If the puppy doesn’t want to be in her crate, she will find a way to break out of it, after moving it and her brother’s bed across the room first.  You can also bet that the cat is hiding under the bed or on top of the fridge in response to this jailbreak.








6.  If it’s raining, you will have to carry the puppy out the door because she does not like getting her feet wet.  Also, do provide an umbrella over her delicate, princess head while she does her business.  If you don’t she’ll fake squat and wait until she’s back indoors and in her crate before relieving herself.  Annoying  Clever. Girl.

7.  This puppy will also get the “good dog discount” at the vet’s office.  Even when she’s a complete basket-case.

8.  Embrace chaos.  It’s sort of fun to live in squalor and mayhem.  Eventually the puppy will get a little more on-program (right?) and the older-brother-who-should-know-better will settle himself down (right?).  And in those moments when you think, “What have I done? I can’t handle this madness,” the little snout wakes up from an epic snuggle-nap on a lazy Sunday and looks at you like this…

"nap nose"

“nap nose”

We’re in so much trouble.

The Status is Quo

February 2009-December 2009

Now that we’ve completed our three weeks of formal training, the informal portion begins: business-as-usual.  We’re reinforcing the lessons we took away from our time with Olde Towne School for Dogs, and we’re getting better at reading Zo’s cues before he melts down.

We’re not always successful, though.  The following are a couple of examples of our continued failures:

  • We throw a party, and people trickle in starting around 7.  The music’s not loud, the dishwasher isn’t on, and the attendees are a group of people whom Zo has met and loved.  He enjoys the people-food that our guests “sneak” to him, and he’s a champ at making rounds and licking up the crumbs until about 9pm, when something sets him off and he runs down the hallway to our bedroom.  He wedges himself under our bed.  If people want to say hi or bye to him, they have to squat down and peer under the bed.  Many of our guests do this.  He remains there until the last person leaves and the serving-ware is dried.  He’s reluctant to venture down the hall when it’s time for a potty break before bed.  He slinks outside, tail tucked and shoulders lowered, does his business in record time and then bolts back inside.  By the time we’re ready for bed, he’s calmed down enough to hang out on his cot, but his wide eyes and panting let us know that it’s going to be a long, restless and jumpy night for everyone.19777_1337730476256_4112101_n
  • It’s finally occurred to us that we should light up the fireplace in the basement of our rental house.  It’s chilly outside and the air smells like cotton, pine needles and cloves.  A perfect night for pulling up a chair (or rearranging the furniture so the couch is in warming distance to the mantle) to the fire.  I’m upstairs in the kitchen making hot cocoa in a pan, and I’m just about to the add the Bailey’s when Zo comes flying up the stairs, almost not making it around the corner into the hallway and back to his under-the-bed hiding place.  James isn’t too far behind in ascent.  He lit the fireplace, and Zozo got spooked and bolted.  The heat, the smell, the sound– we don’t know.  So, we push the couch back into its carpet-divots, break out a heavy blanket and enjoy our beverages and books sans flame.
  • Zozo has met my father-in-law more times that I can count.  They have spent a lot of time outside with a tennis ball.  And yet every other time he comes over, Zozo submission pees as a greeting and crouches into his crate.  Maybe Zo’ll grow out of it; maybe he won’t.  But I do know we’re buying stock in paper towels and Clorox wipes in case he doesn’t.

On the flipside, some wonderful things happen that make us forget these instances of “what have we done?”  There are absolute moments of joy.

  • We take a vacation and Zo and Athena can’t join us.  Off to camp they go!  “Camp” is my mom’s house. She has a cat of her own, Asparagus (or Gus, for short), who gets along tolerably well with Athena, and Gus doesn’t seem to mind Zo too much, either.  The cats divvy up the sunspots and nap away the week, and Zo hangs out with my mom.  They go on daily walks around the neighborhood, and he gets the hang of someone else taking him on-leash.  New smells, new human friends.  A fenced backyard inhabited by a family of bunnies.  He’s in heaven, as our daily reports… report.  In fact, we’re emailed photo-evidence that he’s having a good time.0     2
  • SNOW.  This dog is meant for cold weather, and for a hot minute we consider moving west to Colorado, he’s SO happy in the snow.  The dream melts away when I remember how much I loathe the cold.  This snow is just a dusting, but we spend hours outside playing, wrestling and chucking a tennis ball. Sure, we have to blow-dry the ice pellets out of his fur when we come inside, but the silliness is worth it.  In fact, Zozo perfects running into the back of my legs to make me fall over in the snow, just so he can lick my cheeks.  Gross? yes.  Hilarious when it’s happening, though.

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  • We take ourselves and Zo out for adventures.  We find local dog parks, Yappy Hours, brunch places that allow dogs on the patio.  We make play dates with friends and their furbabies.  Zozo is great with a rawhide bone under a cafe table.  He’ll sit by a park bench and sniff around and nap while we have coffee with friends.  He’ll run at the park until we force him to take a break.  He loves the ladies- who seem to love him- and he’ll tolerate male strangers if they have a friendly dog of their own.  We’re getting exercise and socialized.  We’re all coming out of our introverted shells.222882_1049956682091_8851_n


If this is what having a dog is all about (the goofy personality, the playing, the snuggling, the little kisses on my nose or feet, the daily success at conquering his inner boogeyman), it was more than worth the effort.