Mr. Fix It

As Watson continues to get up there in age, we’ve got some important decisions to make. Namely, regarding neutering. As Bob Barker taught us very earlier in life, “help keep the animal population under control…” (Watch it here), so we already knew that we would have Watson fixed at some point.

Animals can get the procedure done as early as 8 weeks old, but our vet suggested we wait until Watson gained some weight. Needless to say, he’s packed on the pounds (10 to be exact), and we’ve been given the go ahead by the vet.

We decided to pick a time when we’d both be around just in case anything goes wrong or Wats has a bad reaction. Looks like Watson will be going under the knife early this Monday morning (Sept. 10). The procedure should only take an hour, but they’ll keep him overnight just to monitor his recovery.

As far as side effects go, I’ve heard and read about ripped stitches, vomiting, adverse reaction to sedatives and general sluggishness. Honestly, the drowsiness would probably be good for a little guy in such a delicate condition, but the others I could do without.

Beyond the tip from Mr. Barker, neutering will provide a lot of other benefits for Watson (and us). He’ll be less likely to run away from home, therefore avoiding getting hit by a car (or worse). He won’t be as tempted to approach other dogs which can help keep him safe from any biters (or worse). Getting fixed, as they say, is also said to improve behavior in male animals.

Not that Watson is particularly rowdy or disobedient, but he does have his moments. For example, he’s starting to nibble again when he plays. He’s getting quite the bark and at times quite the snarl (his adult teeth look vicious). He also won’t be trying to mark his territory by peeing on everything from lampposts and trees to twigs lying in the middle of the sidewalk. As far as I know, these are all just part of the puppy puberty routine, and neutering should help calm him down some.

Since today is the dude’s last day with his family jewels, we thought we’d give them a proper sendoff. (For those of you Arrested Development fans, enjoy. For those of you who have yet to appreciate and love this fabulous show, enjoy.) Say goodbye to these!

Wags&Kisses

Busy Bees

While the cat’s away the mice will play. (Thank you to my grade-school religion teacher for this lovely phrase. Ravens, you know what I’m talking about). In this case Jake is the cat, which makes Wats and I the mice. No, we’re not eating all the cheese in the house or leaving droppings in the cabinets, so no need to set traps (although we’d both surely take the peanut butter bait). But we have picked up some new hobbies in recent days.

Running:

First of all, I’m not one of those naturally athletic people who exudes coordination and endurance. Watson on the other hand is something like a playful cheetah. When these two combine, it makes for pretty humorous sight.

Since there are no pictures of this event because obviously that would just complicate my coordination issues further, allow me to set the scene for you: We run on a nicely paved trail near the apartment. Watson is still on a rope-type leash, no retractables yet. I keep a moderate pace, but Watson does a lot of pulling me along at the beginning since he likes to put part of his leash in his mouth as we trot along. By this time I’m cracking up and trying to run while he’s speedily weaving in and out and on and off the trail. I’ve definitely stumbled and nearly tripped a few times. (For those of you who don’t know, I’m the girl who broke her ankle while walking…) The proof is in that cute boot.

Basically, this is a dangerous hobby. After about five minutes, Wats tuckers out and slows down a bit. He still keeps up for the most part (not that I’m fast by any means), but sometimes when he finds a nice shady area, he’ll lie down without my knowing and ouch, there goes the ol’ shoulder.

I’m really trying to enjoy this whole running thing, and Watson is definitely helping. It’s nice to have a good laugh while I’m panting and sweating glistening. I appreciate his just-keep-running attitude. It’s pretty contagious.

Stick collecting:

Along with our runs, Watson and I take at least two lovely walks around the area each day. Upon our return home, Watson never fails to pick up a stick (many bigger than he) and drops it off in the front lawn of our building. We’ve got a nice collection going on. Sometimes he adds a nice dirt clod or rock to the mix, but mostly we stick to the sticks.

Extreme cuddling:

After all this exercise, who doesn’t want to curl up and relax some? Well, Watson and I have taken cuddling to an extreme level with the help of our man abroad. Jake sent us some goodies that are perfect for super sonic snuggles. This amazingly soft and cozy KING size blanket (in a wonderful grey color) is big enough for a pup that likes to stretch out and a lady who’s most comfortable in a ball-like position. (Sorry for the headless-blanket-lady look.)

He also sent Watson his very own first sea turtle! Don’t worry it’s just a toy, but it’s eco-friendly and absolutely adorbs.

I honestly can’t believe he found a sea turtle chew toy (oh the joys of the Internet). Watson has been enjoying the little creature so far (but I’d say it’s in more of a rough-housing sort of way, aka: not-so-cuddly.)

So, if you were wondering how a lady and her pup lad keep busy, there ya have it. Trying new things is always fun and adding a puppy into the mix certainly keeps it interesting.

Have any of you picked up new hobbies this summer? Are there any collections out there Watson might want to try getting into next? Hope your summers have been great (ours is about to come to an end way too quickly.)

Wags&Kisses

There’s No Place Like Home

Okay, the cat dog’s out the bag. Toto, I’m not in Indiana anymore. I just so happen to be somewhere that people like to call “paradise”: St. Croix, Virgin Islands. Not to make any of you readers jealous, but here’s a little bit of what “paradise” looks like:

It’s not every day that people get to travel to places like this, so why do I keep putting quotation marks around paradise? Because it almost feels like it, that’s why. One thing about traveling is the fact that you have to leave something behind. As you well know, I’ve left both Mackenzie and Watson back home. It’s only for a month, so it’s not really a big deal, right? Well, after reading the last post, it’s apparent that it’s affecting the pup, but it takes its toll on us as well, me especially.

It’s great that I get to see the two of them daily via Skype. That is whenever our internet is actually working and not freezing on Mackenzie’s unintended funny/awkward faces (gummy smile!). (You can’t see me here, but in some of these Skype pictures you’ll notice my shirt is off, well, that’s because it’s always so so hot in paradise).But then again, Skyping is only through an 8 x 8 screen. I guess that’s better than nothing. What’s really been getting to me is how the dog’s taking all this. Recently Mackenzie’s found Watson in this position:Hanging out by the window is pretty normal for him considering there’s a lot that goes on outside. And it’s also pretty normal for him to start wagging his tail whenever he sees someone coming from or going to their car. But it’s not typically the case for him to then run to the door, sit down, whine, and wag his tail as if it’s me who’s coming into the building, finally coming home. A little heart-breaking isn’t it? Tell me about it.

When he finds out it’s not me heading up the stairs, he heads on over to the couch and seeks comfort in Mackenzie’s lap or Mr. Koala.But I’m sure in reality, he’s imagining a little something like this:(I’ve really stepped up my photo editing skills these past couple of posts. Has anyone noticed?)

Either way, I’ve found that I’ve left behind more than my girlfriend and my puppy. I’ve left my best friends. Down here, I’m just “OJ” or the “Other Jacob” (the friend I’m helping is also named Jacob), but back home I’m more than that. I’m Watson’s “Playmate of the Year” (no, not the bunny kind). As unfair as all this seems, it’s actually practice for our little guy. I’ll be leaving again in a month in a half, only this time it’ll be for 5 months. But after that, I’ve told myself (and I guess now all of you) that I’m done with the lengthy traveling unless I can take those two with me.

Aside from seeing both of them when I get back, I’m looking most forward to Watson’s reaction when he realizes that I’m still around. I’ve always watched those videos of soldiers when they return home from war and the reactions of their dogs. (If you’re unsure what I’m talking about, have a look here or here or here.) I can only imagine what Wats might do.

To me, the best part about leaving is always being able to come back. (Especially to what I hope will be an extremely excited pup!)

When you have to travel, what’s your favorite part of coming back home? A sloppy lick from your dog? Perhaps getting to sleep in your own bed? Maybe even some smokehouse almonds (which Mac has promised to have stocked in the pantry upon my return. I’m holding you to that, lady.)

Wags&Kisses

Perplexed Pup

For almost a week now, Watson’s been a little more confused than usual. Not that he’s normally befuddled, but for the last few days he’s had a confounded and generally bummed out expression on his furry face.

When we come home from a walk, he searches the house and cocks his head from side to side. When he’s ready for bed, he pokes his head in every room of the apartment, and flips his ears quizzically (I’m not sure if ears can flip quizzically, but you know what I mean). What could he possibly be looking for? Perhaps the very first toy we bought him? This little hedgehog was Watson’s first travel partner, but Watson’s razor-sharp teeth chewed the stuffing out of him in about a month. We salvaged him by removing the remaining fluff, but a few days ago Wats completely shredded off the hedgie’s quills fur and left if all over the floor. Adios, hedgie, to the trash you go.

But he has many many (many) more toys to keep his mind occupied from the loss of his first toy friend, so I’m thinking it’s not that. What he’s looking for and confused about he only has one of… his daddio (play pal and snuggle buddy).

As some of you already know, Jake is helping a friend/colleague do some sea turtle (hawksbill sea turtle, to be exact) research on the lovely U.S. Virgin Island of St. Croix. He’ll be there for a while, but little Watson just doesn’t seem to understand.

Since Jake’s been gone, we’ve Skyped (aka: video conferenced) some, and figured maybe Watson would want to see him (yes, we have quite the high-tech dog). Well, that just led to more confusion. He started barking and getting antsy and leaping into my lap. We think he recognized Jake’s voice, but wasn’t able to see his face on the computer screen. One afternoon though, I was sitting at the dining room table Skyping with Jake, and Watson calmly climbed onto my lap, rested his head on the table, put his paw on the laptop keyboard and just stared right at Jake’s face on the screen. (Trust me, it was the cutest thing ever.) And he stayed in that same position for a solid 10 minutes. I think that might’ve made Jake’s day.One thing I think is pretty neat is that Watson actually responds to Jake’s whistles over Skype too. If we’re talking in the living room and Watson’s in the back room, he’ll come running in to me once he hears the digital whistle. He doesn’t even respond to my real-life (attempts at) whistling the way he does to Jake’s.

This is a pretty interesting time for us as far as puppy-parenting goes, but so far I’d say it’s going well. Sometimes Wats does seem to have a little bit of sadness added to his confusion, but hopefully once Jake gets back these new expressions I’m seeing will disappear. And maybe Jake will even bring a replacement for the pup’s trashed toy… (Watson’s hoping for a sea turtle stuffy from an exotic Caribbean local!)

Any advice for this poor pup who’s searching for his pops? Or this puppy mama who’s trying to keep the little guy occupied?

Wags&Kisses

It’s His Potty

Since we only received one comment when we asked our readers to share their inquiries about good ol’ Watson, we’ll go ahead and do our best to answer that question.

Aunt Sheri asked: “Is he totally potty trained now?”

We think it’s safe to assume she was referring to Watson, not Jake, so sticking with our first instinct, we continue on…

Short version: Yes, Watson is fully, totally, completely potty trained. And we love him for it!

Long version: Our little 5 month-old Wats has been doing all of his business outside for about a month now. (Did anyone else imagine Watson decked out in a dapper three-piece suit conducting a conference call when you read that? Or maybe just posing on the cover of GQ?).

Well, even though he dresses like an executive, we still weren’t sure what to expect as far as a time frame for potty-training to be finito, but it seems he’s right on schedule, and we’re through with spot-cleaning four times a day, thank goodness!

As we mentioned here, Cheerios were our secret weapon when it came to reinforcing good bathroom grassy-knoll behavior. One way I’m able to tell that Watson is fully, totally, completely potty trained is that we’ve for-the-most-part tapered off on the Cheerios, but he still keeps going to the front door time and time again. Most of the time he sits patiently until we notice he’s there, but other times he brings his urgency to our attention by squirming and barking — what I like to think of as the equivalent of the human style “pee dance.” (Come on.. don’t act like you’ve never done it.)

One little caveat: All of this positive progress with the total, complete, full potty training only holds up at our apartment. I’m not saying that at any given time he freely relieves himself on the floors of other people’s homes, but we have noticed a trend with Wats, he’s a dog who appreciates routine. When we’re staying with someone else, he’ll usually let us know when he needs to take care of things, but sometimes the excitement of new people, animals, and places gets to him, and it seems there is simply no time to go outside. That’s when we (and our very generous hosts) find little “gifts” lying around. (Actually, we sometimes find other non-bodily-but-still-bathroom-related gifts lying around at our place too… only three times though.)

One curious setback: When we visited Evansville for an entire week at the end of May, Watson came home and had clearly forgotten that outside is the place to be when nature calls. Is there a condition called puppy amnesia? If so, perhaps this is what the pup was suffering from at that point. We had to go back to coaching and reinforcing with Cheerios, but after a week or so, Watson was right back to the grass where he belongs (well, only when he needs to go or enjoy some exercise rest).

Not only are we thrilled to have a potty-trained pup (or puppers as I’ve been calling him lately. Sorry, boy.), but our cream-colored carpets are also so excited to get back to their pre-pooch, spotless glory!

Thanks again, Sheri, for the great question! And as always let us know if we can answer any of your other queries! (We know you’re out there, loyal readers, in 11 different countries to be exact (!!!), and we want to hear from you!)

Wags&Kisses

The Not-So-Great Escape

For those of you who’ve seen the movie “Marley and Me,” you know just how crazy that big yellow lab of a dog is. Future dog owners fear this movie in hopes that their dog isn’t as destructive or as rambunctious as him, even thought Marley proves to be a great companion and family member in the end. If you haven’t seen this movie, check out the trailer right quick.

For those of you who are dog owners, did that stir up any memories of raising your pooch? Perhaps some of these things are still going on? For us, this movie (and the end of the trailer in particular) stirs up a very recent memory. In fact, this recent memorable moment just happened on Monday. Did you catch the end of the trailer where Marley was walking outside the car, while John (Owen Wilson) was holding on to him?

(In case you have an appetite for more, here’s a longer clip that shows the whole scene.)

Well, as you might have deduced (yes, I just used a detective term) we had a similar situation that wasn’t as well rehearsed. In fact, it onset more fright and panic than anything else. Mackenzie and I decided to take Watson to a new park to enjoy a book and some sun (for a change from all the rain and the gloominess it brings).

The entrance to the park has a speed limit of 15 mph (which I was going) and signs directing patrons to different areas of the park. We didn’t know where we were going so we kept driving at that pace. On the left was a disc golf course and across the street was a little par 3 course, where some ladies were lining up their putts on the green.

Now, when Watson rides with us, he’s leashed and the windows are cracked just enough for him to stick his head out and enjoy the breeze. However, this time the window was all the way down. Of course he was still leashed and being held by Mackenzie.

Back to those ladies I was talking about. Watson loves people, we all know this. No matter how out of reach they appear. Well, Watson, being the golf professional that he is, decided that he wanted to help them sink their putts and the only way out was the window. And out he went. Still attached to the leash. Now, I hadn’t quite processed what was going on, but luckily Mackenzie had started to let some of the leash out so he could reach the ground. My car door wasn’t about to be a gallows.

Thoughts were racing through my head. Was he okay? Did I run him over? At that point I hadn’t completely stopped the car because again, I hadn’t processed what was happening. The last thought that raged through my mind was, “Why wasn’t Mackenzie holding onto him?” But it didn’t quite come out of my mouth like that… Worse than any one of Watson’s worst barks. I definitely put my foot in my mouth (taking a note from the pup).

She got out of the car and made sure Watson was okay, which thank God he was. However, the sting from my bark didn’t make things any better. Needless to say, it was a short trip to the park that day, but more importantly, an important lesson learned from our furry friend.

Situations like that can bring out the worst in us. Make us feel vulnerable and scared. But we should learn to control them, gather ourselves, be a team, and make the appropriate decision so that, in the event that something happens again, it can be handled differently. This dog brings out the best and worst in us, but we’re not going to let it affect our relationship, our little (goofballin’) family.

On a lighter note, does anyone have any funny stories about their pups? Things that you thought you could only see in a movie before it actually happened to you? I know this won’t be the last time anything like this happens, and we’ll make sure you readers are the first to know. No matter how scary or potentially shaming it may be.

Wags&Kisses

These Are A Few of My Scariest Things

You all know that Mom’s biggest fear is birds, and Dad hates balls of long, dark hair. You know, the ones you can find in shower drains? I guess everyone’s afraid of something, but you’re probably wondering what scares me. Good guess, but no, it is most certainly not “The Sound of Music” like the title of this post might lead you to believe. I happen to love barking along with those kids and that nun on the hilltops of Austria, but that’s beside the point. Here’s what I’m most afraid of:

First: People

Okay, before you get your fur in a bunch, let me explain. I love people. I don’t know why, but for some reason I lose control. Literally, my bladder lets loose, and my butt wiggles to the point where my rib cage is sore from my tail slapping it so hard. And sometimes I lose my breath because I’m pulling on my leash, trying to inch closer to an ear rub or some nice pats. So it’s not just people; it’s strange people or people doing strange things.

Mom and Dad like to take me on walks at night around the campus. One night we came up on a couple, and I started feeling a twitch. My tail was just about ready to get going when we got closer. Just as they came to pet me, I freaked. I barked so loud because the one on the left was a tall, dark, shadowy figure. And he was wearing something on his head. A little creepy if you ask me. I’ve seen the movies.

Another night, they took me to the fireworks show with another lad, Nathan. I’ve never heard anyone talk like him before (he’s British), but he’s a cool guy. Tons of people were there. I was in heaven, but Dad made us sit where no one was around. Total bummer, until they brought out a rawhide. They thought it’d keep me company during the show. Apparently my other canine friends can’t handle them. I was totally fine. That rawhide kept me busy during the entire show. I only barked a little bit. Until the end of the show… Some little girl came out of nowhere running and twirling one of those light-up toys. So I barked…a lot. Probably even bared my teeth a little.

I even made her scream, but that’s what she gets for running around with something I’d never seen before.

My cousin Blake says it’s normal. He barks at people ALL the time, but I know Mom and Dad don’t want that to keep on happening or else they wouldn’t be able to take me anywhere.

Next: Things with wheels

Again, let me clarify. You’ve read about my road trips and adventures in the car, so it’s not those, which kind of freaks Mom and Dad out. I guess they’re worried I’ll run into one or something. It’s everything else with wheels. Bicycles, strollers, scooters, golf carts. I just wished they’d stop moving! People shouldn’t be allowed to move that fast, especially  on bicycles. I see people on them, and I just want to lick them, but that dang thing with wheels gets in the way, and before you know it, they’ve blown right by me. They take all the fun out of it. Same thing with scooters and golf carts. I guess I only bark at strollers because they have little kids in them, and I know they just want to pull my tail.

Last: Loud Things

Okay, if fireworks don’t do the trick then what does? I’ll tell you what. Washer/dryer, vacuum and the hair dryer. Every once in a while Mom and Dad will wash what sounds like a ton of rocks. All the banging and clanging hurts my sensitive little ears, so I’m left with nothing else to do but bark my head off (even though they shut the laundry room door). As for the vacuum, that thing’s just plain scary. Ever since I watched “The Brave Little Toaster” with Dad, I try to get as far away as possible.

And if that’s not bad enough, Mom puts her hair dryer in my face all the time. Now you really know why my whiskers look funny. She singes the ends off with that hot air blaster. Don’t believe every word you read.

Those might not sound entirely terrible to you, but I have to give props to Mom and Dad. They’ve done a pretty good job of helping me, feeding me Cheerios during these scary times. They’re just preparing me for round two. I’ve already gone through my first fear period, but from what I keep hearing from Mom and Dad, most puppies go through two of these “fear periods.” They’re waiting for the second one to kick in around my next month-birthday. I’ve heard this quote that I’ll have to keep in mind when that time comes around, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Except the guy that said it was in a chair with wheels. Not sure if I can trust him or not.

So I’ve told you my fears. What are you all most afraid of? Is anyone scared of something that’s even a little embarrassing? Please share! I’d love to read  hear from Mom and Dad what you have to say.

Wags&Kisses