Category Archives: Our Dogs

Understanding Chloe

For the first two months after we adopted Chloe (our border collie/greyhound mix), she drove me crazy. She didn’t just follow me everywhere, she got in my way every five seconds! She was neurotic and always on edge. You couldn’t get up without her spazzing out about it. She had the energy of a puppy, packed inside a 70lb, 3 year old dog. Calling her a bull in a china closet was putting it lightly.

She was the polar opposite of our other dog, Rodeo. Rodeo (lab/pit mix around the same age as Chloe) is the definition of chill roughly 90% of the day. He sleeps buried in the throw pillows of our couch for hours at a time. The only time he gets riled up is to protect us (usually unnecessarily!) Or to run. He LOVES to run. “Away” is usually his destination of choice! (He comes back, but on his terms.)

Chloe rarely barks and never whines, but she would get so anxious and excited – she seemed tense most of the day, really. She didn’t snuggle. She didn’t want belly rubs. She rarely slept. We were hoping she’d get used to us and settle down. Even once she seemed a bit more settled, she still drove me crazy.

I didn’t understand her. Rodeo could tell me what he wanted in a second, but I was lost with her. My inability to understand her stressed me out even more.

Recently, strong winds knocked down part of our fence. Rick did a patch job until we could fix it properly. Unfortunately, we had more wind come through one night and I didn’t realize that panel had fallen down again until after I’d let the dogs out the following morning. I looked up and they were both gone!

I ran through the house and out the front door – they were only a few houses away. I called out, “Rodeo! Chloe! C’mere!” I said it as sweetly as I could – I’ve read and been told how important tone can be.

Rodeo did his usual – he took one look at me, turned tail and ran in the opposite direction.

Chloe ran right to me. When she got to the driveway where I was standing, she sank down low and crawled to me. I praised her and loved on her and she got all wiggly and waggly. What a good dog! Suddenly, I started to notice her attributes.

Later that day, she was walking around with the Coveted Bone hanging from her mouth. (This bone was Rodeo’s, but she’s since claimed it as her own. They spend hours at a time stalking each other, waiting for the bone to be dropped.) I’d fed the dogs dinner and she wouldn’t eat. She just kept looking at me and pacing. What did she want??

Then it clicked. I took the bone from her and put it on the counter. She wiggled and ran to her bowl to scarf down her dinner. When she was done, she came and sat next to the spot where I’d put her bone. I jokingly said, “What?” She looked up to where her bone was, then back at me. I handed her bone to her and she was wiggling again. We’d connected. I was starting to understand her.

After that, she started snuggling me on the couch. She’s also been demanding belly scratches! Rick says she still doesn’t really like him scratching her belly. With me, she’ll either stand over my arm and paw at me or she’ll lay on her back until I get the idea. If I stop before she wants me to, she pushes my hand back under her for more.

This dog used to stress me out so much, we seriously considered giving her back. Now I can’t imagine not having her around. She’s so loving – we just had to earn that love. She didn’t give it up as easily as some dogs do. She’s incredibly smart and – now that we’re learning to understand each – she listens and does what she’s told. Even when she’s in full on play with Rodeo in the yard, she comes when called.

Of course, she still drives me crazy on occasion, but she makes up for it by being an all around wonderful pup. I love our Chloe.

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She sits still enough for pics now!


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They love each other!

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Dealing with the darker side

I understand impulse control. I have a hard enough time controlling my own impulses and I do not have ADHD. There are times, though, when I worry about Colin because I don’t know how you separate impulse control from just plain bad behavior.

Impulsively pushing buttons, I understand.  Yanking the wheel out of his brother’s really nice pop-up Lorax book because he has to know how things work… that makes sense (even if it frustrates me).

Picking up our 65 lb dog by her collar and throwing her to the ground? I can’t comprehend that.  What makes a child – any child – think that’s remotely okay?  (Let’s not even think about how Chloe outweighs him by at least 10lbs. How he managed to lift her up by the collar – even with her back legs still on the floor – is beyond me.)

This is what I walked in on after leaving the room for a few minutes last night.  We were going to head to the gym after dinner – I went to wake Rick up – and I told the boys what the plan was.  They were all excited (there’s a Kids Club at the gym). I told them all they had to do was behave for a few minutes while I went to get Rick and change clothes.

I heard her yelp and came in to see Colin holding Chloe up by the collar. Before I could get to him, he threw her to the ground.  I lost it.

I’m fiercely protective of my children – even when it’s one against the other.  Even when they’re “fur” children.  I completely lost it.

And then I just started crying.  I cried for about an hour. We obviously didn’t go to the gym. I felt awful for Robbie and Ryan – they’re constantly being punished for things that Colin does and that’s not fair to them.  I was too upset to go and too upset to be left at home with Colin.

Rick blames himself, which I tell him doesn’t make sense.  He’s not to “blame” for Colin – he saved Colin from a far worse fate.  If anyone’s to “blame” it’s that b—- that gave birth to the poor kid and likely messed him up for life by how she mistreated him in those first fragile few weeks.  (For anyone just joining us, Colin was adopted through foster care – taken from his birth mother at 5 weeks old.)

Rick called Dr. L’s office again last night. Hopefully we’ll hear from him soon.  Something has to give.

ETA: I am not saying that all kids with autism/adhd were mistreated at some point. I hope it doesn’t come across that way – that’s not my intention in the least. Colin may very well have issues beyond the autism/adhd diagnoses he’s received so far. He was malnourished and mistreated as a baby – peanut butter shoved in his mouth to keep him quiet and never held or loved for those first five weeks. I know that irreparable damage was done to him – physically, psychologically, emotionally – before he was even 2 months old.

I’m holding Wii Just Dance 3 as collateral

She survived!

Our sitter – we’ll call her “Kay” – just barely survived her first day with our crazy bunch.  She got a crash-course in Colin – he was into everything the second she’d turn her back.  She also had one of our dogs slip out (Rodeo, go figure!) and instead getting Rick (she didn’t want to wake him) she chased him down with the help of a neighbor, our boys and a gaggle of teenaged boys that were on our street!  In the process, she fell and scraped herself up very badly.  Gah, I felt so awful!!  We told her if that ever happens again, just go get Rick!  Chasing down our dingbat dogs is not part of her job description!! lol

She also mopped the kitchen when the dogs got the floors muddy – how sweet!

When she came to meet us on Wednesday night, she told Colin she had Just Dance 3 (we have Just Dance 2) and promised to bring it over.  She told him he could hold onto it for the weekend and she’d get it back on Monday.

I think I was more excited than Colin – I’ve just about worn out the Just Dance 2 disc!

I told Rick that gives me hope.  She left something of hers here and plans to come back for it on Monday!  Despite all the insanity, she plans to come back.  Yay!

I also offered her a little more money, because I felt awful for her rough day and – did I mention? – I REALLY WANT HER TO COME BACK!! 🙂

Just another $10/week, but that’s still not bad.   $140/wk for an 18-20hrs/wk. Cash, even!

I’m just relieved that she did well and she’s not ready to quit on us already. Rick got some sleep, I got some peace of mind, the boys had fun.  And Kay said she got her exercise for the day!  (yes, it was running full throttle down the street with three boys in tow and getting sanded down by the sidewalk, but it’ll be okay!)

And she gets three days to recover from us before coming back.  🙂

Holding my breath!

We found a sitter.

Holy smokes! We found a sitter!!

Where?  Craigslist.  I know. I know.  I thought the same thing, too, but I was kinda desperate and our other efforts were leaving us fairly empty-handed.

I posted an ad Monday night.  We’d just met another potential sitter – the only one at that point – and I just didn’t think there was any way it would work out.  a) She doesn’t like dogs. We have two, so they would have to stay with Rick in the bedroom. b) She has an 8 year old and 1 month old that would have to come with her.  I didn’t think that would be a big issue until I saw it in action.  Our house was complete chaos for the 30 minutes she was there.  The 8yr old was adding to the silliness of our boys and the baby would have been a complete distraction had Rick not been helping.  And  c) She doesn’t have a phone…and she’s staying with her mom while she and her baby’s father work on things.  (What if they made up and she moved back in? She has no car and wouldn’t be able to continue working for us!) Just too many red flags for me.

So… I posted the ad.

I mentioned we needed someone energetic and patient and mentioned one of our sons is autistic and has adhd.  I posted the pay rate (which boils down to roughly $7/hr).  I know it’s cheap, but it’s just 4.5hrs/day and 4 days/week… no meals need to be served or anything.  Just give them a snack around 3pm and keep them from burning the dang house down. 

About an hour after I posted my ad, an ad went up from a sitter looking for work.  She listed the same area we live in and put that she has experience with ADHD children.  Her number, however, was an out of state number.  I thought (in my paranoid brain) this had to be some kind of lure.  I didn’t answer the ad.

Another hour passed, and I received an email – from the same girl who had posted the ad after mine!  She gave me her number and attached a picture.  I still thought this had to be some kind of a joke, but maybe not…? 

We exchanged a few emails – she’s relatively new in town.  17 and graduated from high school early.  She lives very close by and her younger brother – who is Colin’s age – has ADHD.  I decided to throw caution to the wind and have her come over.

She showed up and she’s REAL! 

We talked about what’s expected. She loves dogs – her family has 2 of their own.  We joked about how we were a little scared of this whole CL deal – she was, too!  She was great with the boys.

After talking, we asked when she could start. She said any day was fine.  Then she confessed that she’d had another interview earlier that day.  “I’m totally picking you over them, though, I just want you to know that!”  She said not only was that job a little out of her comfort zone – they had a baby, a toddler and a 9 year old and wanted her to work about twice as many hours – but our family reminded her of her own. 

Wait, what?  Did she just say that?

I guess maybe we’re a little more “normal” than we thought we were.  🙂

She starts today – a little trial run before she has 4 full days in a row!  She arrived 10 minutes early and ready to go.  I’m holding my breath, hoping the day goes well. 

Mostly, though, I’m just incredibly relieved. 

Removed posts

I know I don’t have a lot of followers, but for those of you that have been reading… I’ve taken down any posts regarding the recent drama. I felt it was for the best.

To the fellow blogger that responded to my last entry – thank you.  I probably should have let it go sooner. I’m trying. 

At the risk of “vague-blogging” (my husband recently accused me of “vague-booking” on facebook!), I’ll just leave it at that.

I love all my children – even the furry ones.

Siblings

No matter what the challenges, I’m so very glad Robbie has brothers now. Having siblings can be such a rewarding, maddening, wonderful experience. I should know! I was also one of three kids. I have a sister that’s 4.5yrs younger and a brother that’s about 6.5yrs younger. Our parents divorced in 2001. Since then, the relationship with our dad has been tenuous at best. About a month ago, he let down his walls and met us halfway. He finally opened up.

I got a call a few days ago from my sister asking if I could meet up with family on my dad’s side in a town about 5 hours from where I live. My dad was in town helping his mom move and we all wanted to meet up for dinner on Friday. Afterwards, my brother, sister and I would go stay in my grandma’s vacation home nearby. None of us could remember the last time just the three of us spent time together. No kids, no spouses, etc.

The drive was beautiful. Central Texas in springtime can be breathtaking. Wildflowers and green pastures in all directions. Winding through the hills on two lane highways going 70mph. Occasionally the speed limit drops as you pass through a town that time’s forgotten. Those towns tug at my heartstrings. Dilapidated houses and abandoned stores line the streets. Some towns have fared better than others. The town we were staying in falls in the latter category. Unfortunately, my grandma recently decided to sell this house and the surrounding land, so we’re trying to get some final visits in.

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Brother's puppy in front of grandma's house

When my grandma bought this house, we all thought she was nuts. This house was a disaster. She completely restored it. Furnished it with antiques, replaced broken windows with antique windows from other houses – the whole nine yards. This house is beautiful now. The land around it has been tamed so hikes to the pond are easy and beautiful.

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Side porch

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Pond

We headed to the house after dinner (which went very well) and had a few drinks while catching up. My sister’s boyfriend of seven years recently broke up with her. I didn’t know before last night. She’s crushed, but trying to keep her head up and she’s not really ready to talk about it. Just being together in that house – joking around together and having fun – seemed to be good for all three of us.

We crashed around 2am. At 7am, my sister woke me up. When I laughed at her for doing that, she said, “I wanted to spend some time together before you have to leave!”

The three of us went for a walk down to the pond with my brother’s pups. We each had a camera in hand – the flowers were in full bloom and the doggies were extra photogenic.

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My lil sis

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We walked into town for coffee, then back to the house to pack up and head out.

Through several moves, divorces, fights, parties, ups, downs and sideways changes…my brother and sister have always been there for me. I know they know that I’ll always be there for them, too.

I love my crazy siblings.

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Proin (and how we almost lost our pup)

Soon after we adopted Miss Chloe, we noticed this…dripping of liquid around the house. Chloe’s pretty much always got her tongue hanging out and she drools a bit, so we just thought that was it. Then we found puddles. And that’s when we realized the dripping was (primarily) coming from the other end.

Seeing as how we’d recently spent a big chunk of change on new laminate flooring, this was possibly a deal breaker. She was ruining boards left and right. We consulted our vet and he suggested it might be spay incontinence. Apparently it’s common for spayed dogs to have some incontinence issues. There are a couple of treatment options, but the most common – and cheapest – is Proin.

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Essentially, it’s a decongestant. Our girl was prescribed 75mg twice a day. It worked like a charm! We were thrilled! As a result, we were able to keep our sweet Chloe!

Today, however, Proin almost cost us Rodeo.

We were naively keeping the pills on the kitchen counter. Chloe hates these things – we pretty much have to put the pill in her mouth and stroke her neck until she swallows it. No amount of trickery has worked.

That’s why I knew what had happened the minute we saw the bottle. Top was chewed off and about 30 pills were missing. There was not a doubt in my mind as to which dog they were in.

I called our vet’s after hours number and told him what had happened. He solemnly told me there is no way to reverse the effects and we would have to rush him to the emergency clinic for a dose of valium if he started seizing.

I just broke down.

I love this stupid dog SO MUCH.
He’s the best dog I’ve had the pleasure of knowing in years. He’s my protector and my snuggle bug.

All I could do was cry.

I sat on the floor by him and stroked his fur. He was panting hard and the hair along his spine was standing straight up.

My phone rang.

It was our vet.

“I just called the CDC. They said epsom salts might work to induce vomiting. How long ago did he eat them?”

“I don’t know – we’ve been gone for about five hours. I don’t know when he ate them.”

It was worth a shot.
Rick ran to Walgreens and bought a box. I made a pitcher of warm water and found the turkey baster. We mixed the salts in and took him out back.

Rick held Rodeo’s mouth open as I squirted salt water down. After four or five basters full, he heaved…and threw up three barely digested pills. I’ve never been so happy to see anyone puke.

He stumbled into the yard and threw up a handful more. I started bawling the happiest tears I think I’ve ever cried. I think he threw up 15-20 pills in all.

I’ve been monitoring him since. His pulse is normal though his breathing is a bit fast. About an hour ago he threw up the most foul-smelling liquid!! Since then, he seems to have calmed down. He’s laying down and breathing a bit slower. He may actually sleep yet.

Maybe I will, too.

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My poor baby

Happy Easter!

Our boys woke up this morning full of excitement to see what the Easter Bunny had hidden in our yard. They were convinced the eggs were hidden out back, however Mr. Bunny was worried the dogs would get to the eggs before the kids ever did, so he hid them in the front yard.

We let them check out back first anyhow.

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Excuse the state of our fence...we've had to do a couple of quick patch jobs recently due to a neighborhood dog busting in

It only took a minute for them to realize there were no eggs out there. They headed back through the house and out the front door.

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I’m amazed I got any pictures considering how fast they swooped in.

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48 eggs found in less than 5 minutes.

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Robbie's haul

We went back inside and each kiddo got to pick out four eggs – the rest went into one bucket for sharing later.

Now…off to do the family thing and have lunch with my mom! I’m so very blessed to have a husband that loves – or at least tolerates! – my family.

Happy Easter, everyone!

What makes those furry things tick??

I’m about 80% sure that’s what Colin thinks every time he interacts with our dogs.

Last summer, we sent our middle son – Ryan – to spend a week with his Mamaw.  One street over from Mamaw is Uncle R and his boy C. And they have a puppy dog. Ryan fell in love with this scrappy little thing. So much so that when he came home from his trip, he was depressed.  He missed this pup so much he was crying and whining off and on for a good couple of days. 

Now Ryan’s a “tough guy”.  He’s built like a brick and alternates between being the funny guy…and being entirely too cool for all of us.  So to see him crying like this just broke my heart.

We’d already been talking about getting a dog. Rick and I are both dog people and we felt a dog could be good for the boys as well.  Ryan’s tears prompted us to stop putting it off and see what we could find.

We searched petfinder.com for a couple of weeks – emailing each other links to dogs left and right.  Then we narrowed down the list to about 5-6 dogs we wanted to go see.  We decided to go without the boys. Friday before we were going to go on our doggy hunt, Rick found a pup just north of where I used to work in a shelter that was open until 6pm.  He sounded like a great little guy, so we wanted to check him out. He decided to bring the boys and meet me there after work.

Of course, we fell in love.  Rodeo was SO gentle with our boys.  He was advertised as a “lab/shepherd mix”, but he’s obviously got some pit in him.  He’s white with brown spots…and then black spots on his skin beneath his fur. Just playful enough and so sweet.  We fell in love immediately.

The next day, we bought doggy supplies (including a tag with his name and our info on it) and went to pic him up.

What a great dog – so patient with our kiddos and such a snuggle bug.  He made himself right at home almost instantly. After a few weeks, we noticed he was also very protective of his new family.  As much as the boys might drive him crazy, if you even jokingly spank one of them or raise your voice, he will get on the defensive!  (This has become a long-running gag in our house… poor dog.  One of us will tell one of the boys to cry out as we pretend to spank them and Rodeo comes running to the rescue EVERY time. I love this dog!! The funniest is when Rick and I try to make him pick between us…if we act like we’re hurting each other, Rodeo is just at a loss… he has no idea what to do and just looks at us and whines.)

[Let me take a moment to say that domestic abuse is far from a joking matter – I really hope no one reads this and thinks I takerealabuse lightly. Abuse against anyone – adult or child or animal – is no laughing matter.]

One day my mom made the mistake of walking in our unlocked front door unannounced. Rodeo hadn’t met her yet and he just lost it.  Hair raised, teeth bared…he was flipping out!  My awesome little guard dog! 

He also gives our boys warnings.  If they bug him too much, he gets up and walks away.  If they don’t take the hint, he will give them a little growl.  The most extreme thing he’s ever done is to nip – never breaking the skin, but he makes sure you get the idea.

At first, I thought he wasn’t a fan of Colin.  Colin made him uneasy – always poking and prodding him.  I really think he was trying to figure out where the batteries were on this new toy we’d brought home.  We kept a close eye on them as much as possible – I was scared to death Rodeo would snap eventually.  He never has.  In fact, he seems most protective of Colin out of the three boys.  He won’t follow him when he calls and won’t put up with him very often, but if Colin gets upset or is sent to his room, etc, Rodeo is there, trying to console him.

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Did I mention he’s a snuggle bug?

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The only down side was he would get so lonely whenever we were gone on the weekends.  We have soccer games and always try to go have some fun as a family on the weekends.  Sometimes it involves the dog park, so he gets to come, but usually it’s other, less dog-friendly activities. 

After about 6 months, we decided we should look into getting another dog – a companion for him.

Rodeo’s no small fry, so we thought we should look into a smaller dog.  Our house isn’t huge, by any means.  Yeah… a small dog.  That sounded like a good plan.  Let’s say 30 lbs or so.

We resumed our petfinder.com search – sending each other pictures and links left and right.

With each email, the dogs seemed to get bigger and bigger.  Who were we kidding? We’re not small dog people!  We like big dogs! 

And then… we found her.  Well, Rick found her. Miss Chloe.  Her profile just sounded great.  Border collie/greyhound mix!  We were looking for a smallerdog…and wound up falling for a bigger one!

Chloe’s back is about 2″ higher than Rodeo’s…and she outweighs him by almost 10lbs.  She has the same sweet demeanor he has – patient and gentle with our boys as well – but with a lot more energy!  We could hardly believe she’s almost 3.  Rodeo (who is about the same age) seems like an old man next to this crazy dog! 

We joke that Chloe is like the dog version of Colin – hardly sleeps and always ready for the next fun activity.  Colin’s first words on the weekend are typically, “Are we going to have fun today?”  Chloe’s first move almost every morning is to bring me her kong or rope, as if to say, “You’re up – let’s play!”

And – who am I kidding? – it’s nice to have another female around the house!

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