Monday, November 29, 2010

I'm Back!

Don't I look like I'm getting bigger?
Hi! This is Gasthof again. I snuck onto mom's computer last night while she made chocolate chip cookies. Maybe I'll try to sneak one later, but she says I can't have chocolate.
I graduated from Level 1 obedience a few weeks ago and started on Level 2. I wish I could play with the other dogs....our teacher says we can't play with the other dogs afterward because then we wouldn't pay attention and would just want to play. But I like going to class because I get lots of treats and attention from both my mom and dad. I can tell they love me.
I overheard mom and dad talking about me today. They said that I seemed to grow up in the last week. They said I have started acting more mature, whatever that means!
Me and Dad on the farm!

I have been around more people in the last week, and I love the attention! I love everyone. I got petted, I licked lots of hands, and gave lots of kisses. Some people said they don't know why I lick so much, but their hands taste so good, like all the food they eat. I even got to try grandma's famous turkey and mashed potatoes! I can't wait to go back to the farm again! Maybe I'll get to go there in the spring time...and maybe mom and dad will even let me chase a rabbit. They didn't let me off the leash for very long this time...the one time they did, they kept calling my name, but I could hardly hear them--I smelled the best smell and did not want to leave. I don't get why they didn't want to come smell it too. I kept trying to call their name but it seemed like they didn't get it. Parents.
Aren't I cute?
I didn't have time to finish this yesterday, because mom came back too soon from making the cookies. She watched the Vikings game and I slept through the whole thing. Even though I have a Vikings dog tag, football is boring to me...why would I want to watch guys throwing and running with a ball, when I can't play along? I would rather nap and have good puppy dreams where I run off-leash through the fields chasing birds and bunnies and nap under the afternoon sun. Now that is what I call entertainment.
Mom and dad have been busy lately planning for a wedding. They're getting married! Mom has been busy on her computer and looking through books after work. I even heard them talking about me joked around that my last name is Clark until they get married, while dad said that it's always been Kremer. They're silly...when would I even use a last name? At class, the teacher and everyone else just calls us by our first name. I guess dogs are similar to singers like Madonna and special we don't need a last name.
I overheard mom saying to dad "Our dog is a wimp". I'm not sure what that means...she said that I didn't want to go outside to go to the bathroom because it was raining. I don't like to go outside in cold weather unless mom or dad goes out there too. Today, I teased her by walking outside for a few seconds, then running back in. Then I even made her walk ALL the way down the stairs before I would come outside. I ran down the stairs, took care of business, then darted back inside to play with my toys. It's cold out there! I think she forgets that I used to be homeless in Iowa....when it's cold outside and I'm all alone, I get scared. But if mom comes outside with me, I don't feel scared because I know that I can follow her back inside...or even beat her to the door. Having four legs makes me speedy! I'm faster than mom, and she's a lot older than me.
See, I'm no wimp! I like the snow when mom plays with me!

Well, I should probably might get done working soon, and I want to go play with my toys. Hope everyone is staying warm! 

Licks and kisses,
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Monday, November 1, 2010

A busy week

It's been a busy week, and I hate to admit it, but today was the first day taking Gasthof for a run in almost a week. I didn't have to work last Tuesday since I worked the previous weekend, so I ended up sleeping 12 hours Monday night. I STILL didn't feel better (sinus pressure, congestion...etc...all the fun stuff) but I was lucky and got an appointment the same day I called, was diagnosed with a sinus infection, and was started on a 10-day course of antibiotics and Flonase nasal spray. Nick was having all the same symptoms, but refused to make a doctor's appointment until he found out what my doctor said. I told him to make the appointment so he could make sure they still had appointments available. He wished my doc could just prescribe him antibiotics too without having to see him, but it doesn't work like that! Anyway, my doctor said that sinus infections take longer to get over because we have poor blood supply to our sinuses (and thus it takes longer to heal). I never knew that but it makes sense! I also learned that even though Flonase is a steroid nasal spray, it just stays within the sinuses so it doesn't have the negative side effects like oral steroids (prednisone and other ones). Nick was lucky and got an appointment for Wednesday and was started on the same antibiotics. Sharing is good in relationships, except when it comes to illnesses!

Both of us are feeling better, but I still noticed sinus pressure and congestion. I don't want to be stuck in Europe and have this get worse, but I also don't want to be on medication I don't need. The current plan is that my doctor wrote me a "just-in-case-I-need-it-if-I'm-not-feeling-better-by-Friday" prescription for Z-pack (5 day course of antibiotics). I wouldn't let my sinus infection ruin my trip to Paris and London, but it would be even more enjoyable to be over this sinus infection :-) Now I wonder what Nick will do...not sure if he will call his doctor too, or if he is feeling enough better that he's not going to worry about it.

On top of trying to get over being sick, both Nick and I had a busy work week last week, I was trying to learn French, we were trying to plan our trip to Paris/London, and get his apartment packed and cleaned because his lease ended October 31st.

Guys have many great attributes, and I hate to stereotype...but sometimes they are not the best planners (or communicators of their plans!). Nick had mentioned that he would like it if I helped him pack, but he did not ask me about a particular day. On Thursday I offered to help with some of the larger items (bookshelf or something) since my mom was lending me her CRV. When I called to let him know I was on my way around 8ish, I find out that his mom is already at his apartment helping him pack. He informs me that he planned on getting most of the stuff out of his apartment that day. I had no idea! I thought I was just helping a little...:-) Anyway, I wasn't upset, just caught off guard. On our way to my house around 10:30 we were driving separate cars (I was driving his car, he was driving my mom's CRV), and we were coming around a curve in the highway when all of a sudden I see some cars breaking in both the right and middle lanes. I didn't have much time, but I noticed a car up ahead not moving in the middle lane. I tapped on my brakes, thinking I would get Nick's attention as he was driving behind me, then quickly moved into the left lane...I am looking both ahead and behind at the same time. I was scared to watch--like a horror movie--almost expecting Nick to slam into the car. Thankfully, the rest did not play out like a movie. Nick was able to move into the right lane and miss the stalled car. A chill ran throughout my body and I breathed a sigh of relief and silently said a prayer of gratitude that we were all I write this, I realize that at the time it happened I didn't even think to call 911...I am not the type to think "oh, someone else will call"...but at the time I was so focused on how grateful I was that we were both okay and still getting over the shock of it that I did not think to call. At the end of the night after we were unpacked, I could not find my wallet anywhere. I had already drove my mom's car to her place, picked up my car, and drove home. Over the course of the night I had driven three vehicles and been to three places. I finally gave in and drove back to my parents...and sure enough, my wallet was sitting in the front seat. This would not be the time to lose my wallet before leaving the country!

On Friday we went to a friend's Halloween party. It was nice to be with friends...and one of my favorite parts about parties is the food! Alexa and Josh's baby is now 5 months old...she's now giggling and saying sounds like mama. How fun!

On Saturday I helped Nick move, I unpacked some items, did the dishes and laundry, and cleared out my closets of all the random linen (towels, wash cloths, bedding, pillows...sorted them and stored them in the linen closet (once that was clean!!) It felt nice to have the main floor clean! I was either packing or working from 10:30 am till 10:30pm and only sat down for riding in the car, and one 15-min nap.

On Sunday I slept in a little, and decided to go to church even though I would be 20 minutes late. My aunt & uncle said I didn't miss much. I made it in time for the offering, a few hymns, and the that's pretty good. I had been looking at a few other churches in the area, but I really like how comfortable I feel at the church in which I grew up. I know a lot of people there. Most of the people I know are adults ages 40 to 90, and then some of the middle and high school children (I babysat or helped with Sunday School for quite a few of the high schoolers when they were it is fun to see them grown up!) I went over to my grandmother's house after church to celebrate my parents' and aunt's birthday. When I was younger I took Sunday lunches for granted, but now that I'm older I am VERY impressed by my grandma and the meals she can put together. She didn't know how many people were coming, but she seemed so relaxed! She tried out a recipe called "American Legion Funeral Hot dish". I got a kick out of the name. My mom and aunt wanted to rename it, but I don't think it's a bad name. Anyway, after the busy week I had, I didn't have much energy left, but somehow I was able to wait to take a nap until 5pm. Nick had to work most of the day on Sunday because of the upcoming trip, so my mom helped with handing out the Halloween candy. Gasthof got so excited the first time that I lost my grip and he ran up and jumped on the door. Thankfully he didn't scare the kids, but at least it's Halloween! I had treats ready to give Gasthof if he sat at the top of the stairs and waited nicely, but I made a mistake and put the treats on top of one of the speakers in the living room. Gasthof tried to get the treats and in doing so he knocked over the speaker, which knocked over the lamp, which broke the glass lamp shade, which broke the light bulb. I cleaned up the mess and mom kept Gasthof away...I didn't know till Nick told me that the light bulb has mercury in it. Nothing I can do about it now, I guess, except not throw away the light bulb in the regular trash.

On an ending note, towards the end of our run Gasthof and I were about to cross the street from the park over to the sidewalk, crossing a busy 30 mph street at the bottom of a hill. Two boys were riding skateboards and two were riding a bicycle (one wearing a mask). Gasthof got so spooked by the skateboard as we were about to cross the street. I fell into the street, lost the grip on the leash, and Gasthof ran across the street onto the sidewalk. For the second time in a week I prepared myself for the worst. I yelled "Gasthof" and "wait" and walked over to him. Thankfully he didn't run into the street again and waited for me. I now know to keep a stronger grip on Gasthof if we are around skateboards or bikes!

Time to go to obedience training! Both Nick and I have to work Tuesday and Wednesday...then it's off to Paris and London! Hope everyone had a safe weekend!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Some Saturday Randomness

I signed up for the Twin Cities Marathon in March this year, but I had the hardest time trying to train for the marathon. I wasn't in shape enough to want to run and put up with a racing heart beat and I could not convince myself to get up early before work to run. And by the time I was in shape enough and motivated to try running after work rather than just on the weekend, it was 85 to 90 degrees and humid! The only time it wasn't unbearably hot was in the morning, and no matter how hard I have tried over the years, I am still not a morning person. Paying $100 for a marathon was not motivation enough, but getting a dog has worked! I have much more motivation to run now because I know how important it is for Gasthof to get exercise. I focus on him--looking at his floppy ears, seeing his curious looks and his always sniffing nose, or making sure he doesn't pull on leash--and I forget that I am getting a workout too! Now that he no longer has an injury and can run, I have ran with him 8 times in the last 2 weeks, for 25 to 30 min each time. Today I didn't think as much about him as I did about myself; I admit that I wanted to run because I was stressed out. I feel like I have too much to do and not enough time. Nick and I are leaving for Paris and London in two weeks. We have the plane tickets and a list of things we would like to do, but that's about it. I am finalizing hotel arrangements this weekend, if things go as planned. I started trying to learn French a week ago, and I am finding it very interesting but I wish I had started learning the language sooner! The trip crept up on me and I realized I don't have as much time as I thought I did to get everything done! Even though running takes time out of my evening, I think it makes the rest of the time more productive and I am less stressed out.

A pretty view during my work day...the nice thing about driving around for my job:)
For those of you who know me well, you know that I am a procrastinator and one of my flaws is that I have a hard time being on time to places. I recently have discovered part of the problem. First of all, I am an optimist. For me, this can translate into me thinking I can get a specific task (or many things done) in an allotted amount of time. Yes, if I had planned better, I could have learned French more thoroughly and researched hotels more. Second of all, I get distracted easily with other things that I put on my plate. The best example of this is that I have a new puppy who has been a priority in the last month. I knew about my trip before getting him, but after hearing about him and meeting him, I couldn't not adopt him. He has made it more difficult to clean the house and get things done.and I have to think about him before I schedule things during the week I am finding ways to incorporate him smoothly into our lives....not just make him fit in with our schedule, but sometimes put what is good for him's a balance. Even though it is a transition, I love him and I can't imagine life without him! My best friend Julie Ann will be dog sitting when we are on our trip. We are so lucky! She is great with dogs, and Gasthof loves her! When she's around, he forgets all about me :-) I am optimistic that even though we procrastinated on planning the trip, it will be a wonderful time. I like walking and exploring new cities...we will try to have somewhat of an itinerary, but I plan on leaving plenty of time available to explore.

I hear this from others, so I know I am not alone. One of my number one complaints in life is it feels like I don't have enough time to do all that I want to do (and still get adequate sleep). I like to have my plate full (as an expression...but I do like having a full plate on Thanksgiving...which is just over a month away!) Nick's mom Melanie, once told me "You don't let the grass grow, do you?" She told me this last winter after I bought my first house. I started looking at houses in October 2009, I decided on one in November, closed at the end of December, and moved in January 1st 2010. Buying a house may have appeared to be a quick decision, but what some may not know is that I started saving for a house December 2007, right after I finished paying my parents back. They helped me pay for a lot of my college expenses, but I contributed to the housing expenses, food, clothing, all my books, and my interim trip to South Africa.  I worked hard every summer trying to save up for each school year.

I feel lucky and grateful to my parents for helping me pay for college, and I know that parents who can afford to often help pay for some of their childrens' college education. Money is a touchy subject, and it can be a cause of much stress. I have friends who had to struggle to pay their way through college, and many who will be paying off their loans for years. Even though my parents did help me pay for my education, I am still proud of myself for buying my own house. I could have spent my earnings on clothes, a new car, or other material things, but instead I let my savings account grow to where I could afford a ten percent down payment on a house.

In the year 2009, I lived in 3 different places. My living situations felt temporary, like I could never quite settle in and get comfortable. I have a lot to learn about taking care of a home, but thankfully I have wonderful family and friends who have helped give me advice or lend me a hand. My house has given me more than any other material thing. Not only has it given me a sense of pride, but more importantly---for the first time since living with my parents---I feel like I have a home.

Emily, Gasthof, and Nick. It's hard to see Gasthof in the middle because it's so's hard to get him to sit still for pictures with both of us!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

If Dogs Could Talk II

Woof! It's Gaaaaaasthof! I was able to sneak onto mom's computer while she was getting ready for dinner. But I have to be careful because dad is coming home from paws don't type too fast, but I'm getting better. Lately mom and dad have been tired and very busy with work, so they haven't taken me on a walk or played with me in the backyard before work. Usually mom gets home first, and I get so excited that I can't help but jump all over her. I don't get why she doesn't jump with me? I put my paws up on her to show her I love her. She shows me she loves me by petting me, playing with me, and feeding me. Lately I have been trying a different sample every day of food...tonight mom mixed "Prairie" lamb and oatmeal kibble with my "Iams". Yum! I licked my bowl till it was shiny and I could see my nose. My favorite stuff is the venison meat and liver from the can. It's tasty!

My mom's aunt LeAnne recommended that my mom turn on the radio or have a CD playing while I'm home alone. When my mom turned on the radio, and she said there is only ONE station that works. I guess it's an old CD player and the dial doesn't work to change the station. Guess which station? I didn't know, because it's all in another language. When mom came home she said "Hola!" and sounded excited. She said I was listening to a Spanish radio station with Latino music and Spanish speaking hosts. Maybe if I listen to it enough, I will be able to talk with the Chihuahuas next door?! Our neighbors have two Chihuahuas. They look like they would be fun to play with. I think they're smaller than my head!

Today was my fourth run this week! Mom took me running on Monday and Tuesday, and dad ran with me yesterday since mom had to work late. I like spending time with dad, he is fun! But he doesn't let me sleep in bed with him, like when mom stayed up late last night. I wanted to know what mom was doing, so how could I stay still? I heard her typing on the computer and watching tv. Dad says she's watching Survivor. Wouldn't she rather play with me? Or I would help her with her typing...I am getting better.

At least we got to run outside again today and she even played with me in the backyard. I love playing with her. It's especially fun when I stand still and let her think I will give her the frisbee, then I sprint off in the other direction.  I may not run like the big dogs...but I'm fast and she can't catch me! She says I look cute when I run and flip the frisbee into the air, but I'm not good at running in a straight line. On our run today at the park, her knee kept running into my head or my side. I just wanted to see the guys playing frisbee. She tried to get me to sit, but I didn't want to listen. It's boring sitting. It's much more fun sniffing the ground, chewing on sticks, and watching the guys play frisbee. She doesn't have treats or anything, so I didn't want to listen. I'm on a leash when we run so I can't choose where we go, but I can choose if I sit or not. Ha!

Mom says I have a lot of energy. When I jump up on her, she says "No!" and makes me get off her. Then she holds me and makes me wait for a few feels like forever...but then I jump up on her and try again, thinking maybe she didn't know I wanted to play with her. Maybe mom and dad will let me play with them tonight, I heard mom say she is having game night. I love being right where they are, it's so much fun:) I only want to sleep when they're sleeping too.

Uh oh! I hear the garage door opening...hope everyone has a good night and finds lots of sticks to chew on! Yum!
Licks and kisses,
Gasthof  oOOo
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Monday, October 11, 2010

If Dogs Could Talk

If dogs could talk, this is what I think Gasthof would say:

Hi! My name is Gasthof and I am a puppy. I don't know who my dog birth parents are, but the guess is that one of them is a lab and one is a Plott Hound. No one in Minnesota seems to know what that's because I was born in Iowa and came to Minnesota just a few months ago. I really like it here in Minnesota. I met nice people and other dogs (and cats too!) through Homeward Bound Rescue. Three weeks ago I met Emily and Nick, who are my adopted parents...I don't know what that means, but I hope it means I am here for good. I'm ok with not knowing my dog parents because I'm happy now. I just want to be loved. We rescue dogs don't need a show like Maury to find out if someone is our parent. We get chosen, and that makes it more special. Nick and Emily wanted me, and I am happy to be with them. People sometimes ask how I got my name. I think it's cool because I don't know any other dogs named Gasthof. My parents met at the bar/restaurant called Gasthof zur gemutlichkeit...I'm glad they named me Gasthof and not Gemutlichkeit!

I love my house, and I have lots of fun toys to play with. If I am good, I get to sleep in the same room as mom and dad. I can't sleep on the bed because they tell me to get off and that there isn't any room. But that's ok, I have a comfy bed all to myself, with my own blanket and a bone. Mom and dad never chew on my bone...I don't understand. It's so much fun to chomp on! I like it when mom or dad rubs my belly or scratches by my collar or behind my ears and tell me that they love me. I love them too!

We have a big backyard with lots of room to play...I just wish it didn't have a fence. I've tried to jump over it a few times, but my mom has stopped me every time. I don't get why she stopped me. I just wanted to play with the dogs on the other side! My neighbor Connie is very nice. Her son brought his dog over this weekend. He was a fluffy white dog. We touched noses and sniffed each other through the fence. But when I jumped around to play, he ran away! I tried jumping up onto the tree to jump over the fence, but my right leg got caught and my mom helped me down. I want to be bigger and stronger! 

This morning mom said she was going to see my vet (I call him doctor D). He likes to look me over and make sure I'm ok. I scraped up my legs and belly when I got out of my kennel a few weeks ago. Last time he gave me two shots. I was a big boy and didn't cry! This time I didn't go with her to the vet. She went to pick up some medicine. She says I have something called Giardia. I just hope that means I get to take it with yummy food. When mom left the house this morning, she put on a nice CD that her friend Julie Ann gave her. It's called "Unwind Mix". I barked for a few minutes when she left, but then I quieted down so I could listen to the music. I like Julie Ann. She always smells like food!

This afternoon mom seemed cranky when she came home. All I wanted to do was get her attention, so when she was sitting on the couch with her work computer, I put my paws on her, licked her, put my head on her computer...but she didn't play with me. I thought maybe she didn't notice me, so I jumped up on her. She kept saying "off" or "down" but I don't really know what that means yet. I just get so excited when she comes home and lets me out of my kennel that I don't always hear what she tells me. After she ate food she seemed to be in a much better mood. I guess she was just hungry. I am always hungry. She never gives me any of her food, but lately my food is very yummy. She has been mixing in some kibble that were free samples from doctor D's office. It tastes better when she gets the dry food wet with water...this is making me hungry just writing about food. I always get treats at class...I wonder what I will get tonight. Its called obdience class or's a big word that I don't know yet. There are 7 other dogs in the class, but we don't get to play together. At first I think I'm at class to play with the other dogs, but I calm down when I realize I have to listen to mom to get treats. As long as there is food, I'm happy. Guess my mom is like that too.

After mom finished working, she said we were going for a run. This made the day much better! Before our run, mom put a funny looking collar on me. She called it the "pinch collar". It gives me a little pinch if I pull on the leash. I don't get why we can't spend all day sniffing everywhere, but mom says "come on" and we have to keep going. I got to go on a run with mom! On our way I met a lot people...but some people moved out of my way and wouldn't say hi to me; I just wanted to play with them! Some people said that I am big, and a few kids asked if I bite. The kids live at one of the apartment buildings by our house. My mom told them that I don't bite but that I nip sometimes when I play. She also said that I get excited and jump up on people. The kids wanted to pet me, so I sat nicely. They petted me and scratched my back. One girl jumped back and giggled when I licked her arm. They said I was a very nice puppy. They even asked mom if we were going to walk by their apartment tomorrow. I hope we do!

I have to go now because it's almost time to go to obdience class, and mom and dad need to eat something first. I hope they drop some food while they're eating. I like helping them clean up the floor. I also don't want mom or dad to catch me typing on this computer...I might get in trouble. They aren't mean when I get in trouble, but they won't pet or play with me for a minute. I want to play all the time! Hope everyone is having a fun night. I wish I could watch the Vikings play. I guess someone named Randy is going to be playing. My grandpa's name is Randy...maybe he plays for the Vikings? I'll have to watch for him after class. Gotta run!

Licks and kisses,
Gasthof  oOOo
              (      )

Here's me and mom. I tried to smile for the camera!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Gasthof and Dr. D

Gasthof is one happy puppy! First day able to run again :-) Look at that tongue!

Gasthof finds the sunny spot

Before I begin, I wanted to just clarify after my last post. I should have titled it better. Things are going well with Gasthof--I just wanted ideas on a few things. Thanks for your comments!

On Saturday I got a call from our veterinarian (Dr. D) saying that Gasthof's stool sample was positive for Giardia (a microscopic parasite that is often found in areas with poor sanitation, and can contaminate water sources. If interested, you can read about Giardia on the Mayo Clinic website. The vet said that this parasite was often missed in the past, but now they have better testing methods. He also said that he has found more success in being aggressive with treatment and treating it with two medications rather than just one.

Gasthof's medical bills may exceed mine this year (So far we're at $225). I knew with dogs came medical expenses...but I feel bad that he has had this many issues within the first few weeks! However, because he is a rescue dog (and still a puppy), much of this isn't surprising. If you bought a used car and the owner had not ever given it an oil change, changed the tires, etc (I don't know much about cars so I'll stop here!), you would expect that the car would need some TLC!

Here's Gasthof's list so far of ailments/medications/vaccines
1. Soft tissue injury (treated with rest/no running for 11 days, and an anti-inflammatory)

2. Skin infection (treatment: Keflex antibiotic)

3. Scrapes on his belly/groin/legs from getting out of the kennel (the scrapes appeared to heal normally)

4. Giardia (treatment to be picked up at the vet's office on Monday morning).

5. Vaccine for Distemper

6. Vaccine for Lymes Disease

7. Heartgard (one chewable tablet per month)

8. The vet also said he has separation anxiety (trying to get out of the kennel so much that he injured himself. He has mini panic attacks), so Dr D gave us some information about treating this.

He had the Rabies vaccine back in July, a few other vaccines, and was neutered just before we got him. The good news is that he has put on about 2 lbs in the last 2 weeks. The vet expects him to grow some more.
I'll probably end up buying him different food coming up (the vet recommends "Instinct" and "Prairie" brands), but I'll make sure to incorporate it slowly into his diet rather than switching suddenly.

I let Gasthof nap at the foot of my bed with me...I was in desperate need of a nap!
I have Gasthof in a harness that is buckled in..this helps keep him safe if I were in an accident, and also helps keep him from climbing to the front of my car while I'm driving
I have really been lacking in sleep the past few days, and this afternoon I took a long nap (from 1:30 to 4:15) and Gasthof rested at the foot of the bed the whole time! I was very impressed. Nick was wonderful (I'm very lucky!) and helped mow my lawn. The backyard grass was getting very long, and this was making it tough to clean up after Gasthof. The vet says we have to be really careful because we could get infected with Giardia if we accidentally get contaminated by Gasthof's stools when cleaning up after him. Good hand hygiene is key!

Gasthof showing his purple pride (see dog tag)
On a side note, Nick and I met up with some coworkers on Friday at Gasthof's (the bar/restaurant on University)--the same place Nick and I met almost a year and a half ago. We had a good time...but after we were there a few hours, I started getting overwhelmed with the number of people! I could barely walk anywhere--everyone was standing in groups of people touching shoulder to shoulder....but overall it was a good night. The Vikings play the Jets tomorrow and I hear that Randy Moss will be playing....unfortunately we have dog obedience class from 8 to 9 and will miss most of the game. We need this win!!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Open to Ideas :)

So, since this whole puppy parent thing is new to me, I'm just wondering what other people think is a "normal" amount of time in a kennel during the day. Nick usually leaves for work before me, So I put Gasthof in the kennel when I go see my first patient (anywhere from 8 to 9ish in the morning), then I try to make it back for a quick lunch break and to let Gasthof out (?30 minutes or so, depending on the day), then I am usually home by 5 or 5:30pm (sometimes working from home but letting him out of the kennel). I live in a good location for my job so sometimes I am able to do some work from home in between seeing patients (many live in Fridley and Columbia Heights).

South Innsbruck Neighborhood/Fridley
I have really been enjoying the fall weather...sunny days, highs in 60s to 70s...trees changing colors. I really enjoy being a home care nurse and driving around to different cities and neighborhoods that I may not ordinarily see. This is especially nice with the changing of I thought I would post two pictures from my work day (don't worry--both of these pics were taken from my car but I was parked on the side of the road). I feel bad that more people don't get to enjoy the scenery and are stuck in a cubicle at work most of the day...but then again, they are around more coworkers...I guess it all depends on what you like. Some people might hate driving around or not being around coworkers or other people their own age. Most of my coworkers are older than me, and most of my patients are in their 70s to 80s...but I like older people :-)
42nd Ave South/Minneapolis
 For me this weather is perfect for running...however, I haven't been running lately...partly because of Gasthof. I am taking him to the vet Friday morning for a follow up, and to see if the vet will ok him to run in the backyard...he's a puppy with a lot of energy. Cross your fingers! Today I decided I NEEDED TO RUN (or should I say a "jog" since I'm slow??), but I almost didn't because I started to feel guilty about putting him back in the kennel after hanging out with him for a half hour or so after work. (he "helped" me clean/put away laundry...). I have been home with him most nights (Nick hung out with friends to watch the Twins game yesterday and today) and I spend time with him before work, but I'm wondering if I should feel guilty about re-kenneling him after work and going out with friends sometimes...I suppose it depends on the frequency; it's not like I plan to go out somewhere every night.

The other day I went to a Muse concert with Nick, Tiffany, and Steve at the Target Center. We were on the floor level. It was such a fun night! It didn't seem like many people were dancing to the music, but Tiffany and I did our part :) We left for the concert around 7:30pm and got home before midnight. I want to spend time with Gasthof but I also want to be able to go to friends' houses or leave the house for other events on occasion and not feel guilty leaving Gasthof home alone. It's important to have time away from the house too sometimes, right? I know that having a dog changes responsibilities and priorities, but I just am not sure what is a normal amount/a tolerable frequency to be away from Gasthof.

Not sure if anyone is reading this...but if so, please let me know any advice or thoughts you have! Thanks!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Gasthof and Me

I wasn't sure if this day would come....but last night we let Gasthof sleep on the floor of our bedroom. To many of you, especially those with pets, this may not seem like a big deal. But for me...I have never had pets before and this is all new to me. I was skeptical about letting him sleep in the bedroom. I was worried he would constantly try to get up on the bed, that he would make noise, that he would get into things/chew on furniture when I was sleeping.  But after reading the dog books and giving it more thought, I decided we could give it a try.
We bought him a small bed at Fleet Farm the other day, and my mom brought him a big comforter/blanket she got at Goodwill (see photo of Gasthof napping). This weekend we gave him a chance, but he would not stop jumping on the bed, so we brought him back to his kennel in the kitchen. Yesterday morning he got to nap with me on the bed for an hour when Nick went to work earlier than me. So we were working up toward it....and then he [accidentally] had most of the house to himself yesterday afternoon after he escaped from his kennel. Nick forgot to mention in the previous post that Gasthof gave himself a number of cuts/scrapes on his underside and legs from the kennel door. A good thing that came out of yesterday's incident was that we realized he is not very destructive (remember the movie "Marley & Me"? He's energetic like Marley but less destructive!)  Most of the mess was because he likes food and paper/kleenex (which we already knew!)...but he didn't ruin furniture, break anything, or have any accidents, nor did he get into any closets or cupboards or scratch any doors. I am glad that this happened yesterday rather than a week ago...because over the last few weeks we have done our best to consistently correct misbehavior immediately and redirect him--like giving him a bone he can chew on or his own food he can eat, or show him a good behavior--like getting him to sit/lay down and then praising him for that. So I was pleasantly surprised when he didn't chew on any furniture, the couch, or tear up the pillows. I know the day may come, as Nick says, when Gasthof will ruin something special of mine...but I'm trying to do my best to prevent that from happening.

***If interested, Nick posted a video yesterday of what he came home to yesterday when Gasthof got loose...***And I forgot to mention this, but when I got home from work yesterday, I saw Nick on the couch eating dinner...I asked him "Where's Gasthof?" Nick said "In the kennel. I needed some time to eat in peace". I could tell that something was wrong. Honestly, I thought he lost his job or something! (he looked abnormally tired/defeated). I was glad that it was "just" Gasthof getting loose and making a could have been a lot worse!
Although it probably goes without saying, having a dog changes my routine, my schedule, my priorities...but it has also helped me read more! I have really enjoyed reading about dogs, especially about bringing a new dog into a home and about dog behavior. One of my favorite books I have been reading and I highly recommend, especially to those dog owners who rescued their dog, is called Adoptable Dog: teaching your adopted pet to obey, trust, and love you by John Ross and Barbara McKinney. The authors give a lot of good examples and address many issues that dogs can face. It helped me understand what to do--and what not to do--and why. For example, I didn't know that you shouldn't pet a dog when he's scared because it reinforces the fear response.  The book also helped me realize even more how lucky we are--that Gasthof hasn't demonstrated many of the problem behaviors described in the book (such as food aggression). He pulls on the leash too much and likes to jump up on people...but those behaviors can be fixed with proper training. He's only been to two obedience classes and has only been with us for just over two weeks, and I can already tell that he is a smart, sweet dog who seems to love everyone he meets.

Reading Adoptable Dog on a sunny Sunday morning

When he wants to go outside, he walks over to the sliding door and waits patiently. Even when he's hungry and it's meal time, he still wants to follow me if I leave the room. He wants to be where the action is, and he wants to be loved. Nick and I both love him already--and it seems like he's been with us for longer than two weeks!

The hardest thing right now is that because of his leg injury last week, the vet says we can't let him run, we have to keep him on the leash in the backyard, and we can only take him for a 5 to 10 minute controlled walk every day. The week prior we would run with him in the backyard and play fetch, we would take him on two walks every day.......for a puppy, this is rough! (And it's hard on us too!) Gasthof isn't limping and seems to want to run's almost impossible to keep him from running up the stairs at home, or running when playing with a toy. We have a follow up appointment with the vet on Thursday...I really hope he can run soon because it breaks my heart to take him out to the backyard and not let him run around and play!

Done with lunch and back to work! Hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful fall weather. I would love it if we had more months like this...highs in the 60s, lows in the 40s. It is jeans and a t-shirt or sweatshirt weather, just the right temperature for walking or running, and no need for air conditioning. PERFECT! :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Gasthof on the Loose!

Today was the first day we discovered what happens when Gasthof is given free reign to the house and is unsupervised.

Earlier today should have been a portent for what was to come. We had a miscommunication when I asked Emily, still partially asleep, to feed Gasthof before work.
She remembered around lunch time and ran home to feed him.

For the future we will need to develop some sort of system to flag if he has been recently fed. If they only made giant pill reminder boxes that could hold a daily serving of dog food. Who knows, there are some people who are so heavily medicated it might exist.

Apparently 3 caribeners and two slide locks on his kennel are not enough to keep a playful dog locked in. Lesson learned! Mental note: we need to caribener the corners and not the sides of the kennel door.

I took this short video where I survey the damage here:

From what I gathered, here is the damage toll:
  • 2 kleenex boxes, with the majority of the kleenex still usable (but in need of new storage)
  • one bag of napkins, with a stack of salvageable napkins
  • an empty takeout box ripped to shreds
  • two brownies, or so Emily will have me believe. Next time Gasthof's drinking all the beer :-)

The rest was just a handful of artfully placed randomness, damage free.

This just goes to show that keeping doors shut and picking up after ourselves is excellent preventative damage control. This also served as a good reminder that we have a rescue dog who has only been with us for two weeks and has only had 1 training class. I will take this opportunity to remind Emily that someday Gasthof may chew something endearing and the only thing we will be able to do is shrug it off. Most dog owners can confirm it's only a matter of time.

Finally, I'd like to say that I am proud of how optimistically Emily and I handled the situation. Instead of getting upset, we got happy. There were no shoes, no pottery or other important things used as toys.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My First Trip To the Vet

I made my FIRST trip ever to the veterinarian yesterday (hence the title of this post). I was finishing up with work at home, when I brought Gasthof outside to go to the bathroom. I saw him run down the stairs and begin barking at my neighbor, Connie (She is in her 80s and has lived in this neighborhood for 50+ years! She remembers my when most of the land was farmland. She is a very sweet neighbor). I didn't want Gasthof barking (he was excited to see her), so I yelled "come!" He sprinted across the yard and was running up the deck stairs toward me, when suddenly, he slipped! It happened so quickly, so it's hard to say exactly what happened...he didn't fall down the stairs, just got his legs tripped up. If he hadn't have gotten hurt, it would have been a good clip for a show like "America's Funniest Home Videos". He didn't yelp or appear in pain, but when I walked down to talk with Connie on the other side of the fence, I noticed he was limping. He would run with 3 legs and hold up his right hind leg. Despite the injury, he still wanted to tag along. I brought him inside and thought about what to do. As a nurse, I know what to do to help humans, but not dogs. With humans, you want to follow RICE if you have a sprain (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate). So, I figured I could try some of this with Gasthof.  I grabbed some frozen barley from the freezer and an ace wrap from my drawer...

(I'm pausing because most of you are probably laughing, guessing where I am going with this...).

Needless to say, Gasthof would not let me bandage his leg. I remembered the name of a vet that my coworker had recommended, so I called to see if he had any appointments left for today. I figured they wouldn't because it was already almost 4pm, but we were lucky--they had an opening in an hour! I put Gasthof in the kennel and started looking for his vet records. Nick had been the last to look at them...thankfully he had an idea of where he put them! (I'm usually the one who has to find things that he has misplaced!). I didn't know what it would be like at the vet's office, so I figured I should bring some treats and Gasthof's nylabone. I stuffed the treats, toy, and vet records in my purse and we piled (literally!) into the car. I had never driven Gasthof in the car by myself, so I tried to buckle him in (the harness I bought him turned out to be too big, so I have to return it for a smaller one. He's lanky). This was another thing a newbie like me learned quite quickly...dogs do not like to stay put. It took me a few minutes to try to buckle him with two seat belts, and in two seconds he was free. I sighed, gave up, and hopped into the front seat, quickly putting my hand back to keep Gasthof from following me. By now, I'm sure my face was flushed and my hair was a mess. But I was on a get my puppy feeling better. I know it may sound dramatic, and for those of you who grew up with pets I'm sure this sounds easy. But for me, this was new territory. I knew it wasn't an emergency, but it was a situation I had never been in before. I've never had someone so dependent on me before.

The moment I got onto the highway, I realized it was rush hour. With all the distractions, I had forgotten to take into account rush hour, and I forget about the time it takes to get Gasthof into the car and settled. I was flustered, but Gasthof looked peaceful and happy as he peaked his head next to me and looked out my window. I was just glad he didn't try climbing to the front while I was driving.

I made it to the vet's office 10 minutes late, but it ended up being ok. I felt like a new mom, with Gasthof in one hand and trying to fill out paperwork with another. I guess having a pet is good practice for parenthood? (just saying...I'm not planning on having kids any time soon!). My friend Alissa and I were talking this morning. She has an 8 month old puppy named Shirley. We both love having a puppy...but are glad not to have any kids yet! It's too bad that Alissa and her husband Mike don't live closer...Shirley and Gasthof could be puppy pals. Guess they will have to be long distance for now and be pen pals...hopefully they will meet someday!

Ok, back to the story...(for those who know me, you know that I am not the best at telling stories without getting sidetracked!). Gasthof and I were sitting in the waiting area, when all of a sudden, he jumps up onto the bench and starts excitedly wagging his tail. He sees another puppy coming inside! Most of the time I can keep Gasthof under control...but at times like these I wish I had the strength of a weight lifter. He tries to test my biceps and my patience...whining and pulling on the leash. However, I give him attention and start scratching by his collar, and he settles down well enough.

The vet tech opens the door, and as Gasthof's paws slip and slide and his legs bow outward on the linoleum floor, I am reminded of my first time meeting Gasthof.  It was a bright, sunny morning on the day I met Gasthof. Nick and I saw Gasthof (then named Boss Man) sitting quietly in his kennel amidst a sea of barking dogs. When we first went up to him, he started licking our hands and wagging his tail with excitement. It was love at first sight. One of the volunteers with Homeward Bound Rescue said we could walk him, and I quickly volunteered. We got him on a leash and he was so excited to get out of the kennel and be where the action was...within 15 feet of the kennel he started peeing on the floor.  A volunteer was ready with paper towels and spray, and said that it was okay. Gasthof and I continued toward the front of the store. He was surprisingly strong, but he also endearingly clumsy. He knew where he wanted to go, but his feet had a hard time getting him there! He is very outgoing and wanted to say hello to everyone! Within a few minutes we reached outside and began walking him outside the store so that he was not as distracted by the chaos. Freedom! He pulled hard, and I had to be stronger. I wasn't about to lose him before getting him home! I switched over to our leash because theirs was a hard nylon rope that was burning my hands. Nick tried walking Gasthof as well, and had about the same amount of luck. Despite the pulling, I could tell he was one special puppy! He had beautiful brindle color with a white marking on his chest, big floppy ears...and you could tell all he wanted was to love and be loved!
Back to the story (again)...the vet tech brought us into a room, and Gasthof and I waited patiently for the doctor. The doctor was very nice, helpful and thorough. I told him about the rash I noticed (Gasthof was neutered on 9/16, two days before we got him), and about his limping. He prescribed two weeks of antibiotic (Cephalexin) for a skin infection (likely staph). He is hoping the leg injury is just a strain (it was hard to examine Gasthof because he wouldn't sit still!). If it's a torn ligament, we would know because Gasthof wouldn't start getting better in a few days (if it's torn, he would need surgery). Treatment: prescription NSAID (anti-inflammatory) and rest. That's the toughie. Gasthof and resting are not often used in the same sentence, especially during evening hours when we're home. He wants to run around in the yard, play with his toys, and follow us everywhere! For at least a few days, no walks, no letting him run (which means walking him on a leash to go to the bathroom), and try to help him rest as much as possible. He's like a child--he doesn't understand that he can't play like he normally does. And the more rest he does, the more he needs to get out his energy/excitement, but it is hard when he can't run! I tried to set up a barricade to keep him from going up and down the stairs to the basement, but he managed to get around it (he figured out he is skinny enough to get between the rungs on the banister..sneaky guy!), and I even put the brush that he hates on the stairs. He sniffed it, then went around it. I needed to get some things done, including finishing this post, so eventually I had no choice but to put him in his kennel. Earlier today he rested nicely on the couch (see picture below):

All in all I had a productive day, and it seems like Gasthof's leg is doing better. He's not limping around as much, and I'm glad that he rested for almost a half hour on the couch. Although I did get quite a lot done today, I can tell that it is hard to get stuff done as efficiently with a dog (and I am sure it is the same way with kids!). However, I did clean faster than normal this morning because I did not like hearing him whine in his kennel! Today I vacuumed the entire house, cleaned my office, planted Hostas and weeded part of the front yard, unloaded and loaded the dishwasher, did two loads of laundry (even some of Nick's) and I did some of the homework (from obedience training) with Gasthof. I also spent some quality time with Gasthof...he likes having his head petted, his neck and shoulders scratched, and he giving kisses. However, he still has not learned (or is choosing not to learn...) that I don't like being jumped up on when I'm sitting down! Yesterday when Nick and I were moving furniture, Gasthof jumped up and scratched my arm (it hurt!). He does not know his own strength...he gets too excited sometimes and just wants to play (see the pictures below...)

Gasthof trying to get the bugs! (but they were in between the window and the screen)
trying the "solarize" option on my camera phone
On Sunday my aunt Martha and uncle Len gave Nick and me some furniture for my house! My mom even got to dog sit for about 20 minutes while Martha, Nick, and I went to get the last load at the storage unit nearby. One of the items I received was a beautiful wooden desk, which has already found its spot in the living room. When I worked some from home I had been sitting at the couch, but sitting at the couch and typing has been hard on my back and shoulders. This new workspace is perfect! We also got a matching dresser, which fits perfectly in the "music room", a single bed, which will work out great in the "sports room" (where Nick will eventually put his computer), a side table, a love-seat, and a high-back upholstered chair. The pieces really helped make my house feel more homey. Thanks Martha and Len! :)

I think that overall I am doing a good job with Gasthof, considering he is my first pet, but I do enjoy when Nick is home and we can double team makes getting things done (like cooking, cleaning) a lot easier. It's also nice going on walks the three of us. I can't wait till we can take Gasthof for runs in the morning! Regular morning exercise would be good for all of us. I hope that Gasthof heals well and gets better soon--it's hard for him to not run around and play!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

How Do You Sleep?

One-third of your life will probably be spent sleeping.

I once researched a sleeping technique for sleeping less, but staying equally productive, called polyphasic sleep in college. I found it appealing, but never pursued it. Who wouldn't be interested in joining Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla? Improve your IQ while only sleeping 4 hours a day? sign me up!

In reality, who has time to take a 30 minute nap every 4 hours? And I mean, with clockwork precision. I suppose it IS possible to easily find time to nap during the week. It could even work over the weekend. But sooner or later, a special occasion might happen where you miss a nap or you may have a beer (oh, yeah, you can't drink alcohol or caffeine really) and then all of the advantages will all be over.

Now that Gasthof is around and needs to be walked every morning before work, I am setting my alarm earlier. This means that I will now be waking up at 5:30 a.m. weekdays. Consistency is the key to success. I need to self-impose a bed time. At least that is what I keep thinking to myself.

I am curious what your opinions are on the correlation between the necessity of sleep and the quality/effectiveness. To elaborate what I mean, here is an example:
Let's say that the amount of time I can stay awake without sleep can be measured like a fuel tank on a car. Now say I go to bed with 1/4 tank left, sleep 8 hours and wake up fully fueled. Now assume I need to wake up at the same time every morning. Can I go to bed with less in the tank, refuel in less time, and still wake up with a full tank?

Since I know that you could use more sleep and never have enough time, why don't you read about Polyphasic Sleep? Please share with me your beliefs or customs regarding sleep. I am always open to new ideas that bring success.

BTW: Mattresses are the cheapest during Labor Day sales according to my Manager who used to work for mattress store. And to Paul McCartney, "Those freaks was right when they said you was dead."


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pancakes and Coffee! Pro Tips!

This morning, like most Saturday mornings, I make a half pot of coffee and try perfecting my pancake recipe. Today I had a bunch of new experiences that are worth sharing.

Most of you who use French presses at home for coffee probably also have an auto-drip coffee maker too. This time around, not only did I use the coffee maker to heat the water for the french press, but after I pressed my coffee, I poured it from the press back into the coffee maker carafe to stay warm while I work on my 6 cups. No more cold coffee from a French press!

I've recently discovered that adding a little cinnamon to my pancake mix correlates to 200% more deliciousness (scientifically proven). Keep in mind, cinnamon and cumin are similarly colored and both start with the letter 'C'. I ALMOST made some spicy pancakes.

Another addition to a more perfect union between coffee and pancakes was the use of local honey purchased at the MN Renaissance Festival. It is made from bees who primarily collected their sugars from rye. I used it to dip my pancakes in, but I wonder if I could incorporate the honey into the actual pancake batter in the future. I'll let you know how it goes when I try it.

I also want to share a humorous accident that happened with the syrup. We use 100% maple syrup so we make an effort to use every single drop. Since we were low I put the bottle upside down on the counter so that the syrup would go towards the pouring end of the bottle. I then proceeded to forget about it until I had finished making pancakes. To our surprise, the cap was inadequate and leaked syrup all over the counter. And what is the best thing to use to clean up syrup? Pancakes! Instead of wiping off the syrup with paper towels, we dipped our pancakes in the mess. Too bad the granite counter top is too big for the dishwasher.

Thanks for reading! If you have similar breakfast ideas or stories please comment and share them! Finally I will leave you with my current recipe for pancakes.

3/4 cup 100% Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1 Tbsp Whole Ground Flaxseed meal
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp raw cane sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 Grade A Brown Egg cage free, vegetarian fed
1 cup buttermilk (or to substitute, mix 1 Tbsp lemon juice w/ 1 cup milk and let it sit a little bit)

Mix dry ingredients
add milk and lightly beaten egg, stirring minimally, enough to mix ingredients equally.
*Key - let the batter rise for about 5 minutes before making pancakes*
butter up a cast iron skillet and start making pancakes!

Hope you enjoy! Let me know if you try this recipe! It's a great treat for everyone in the house!

PS - I'm curious what is your favorite coffee brand/roast? I just picked up Peace Coffee's 'Common Roots Cafe' blend, but my current favorite blend is their Twin Cities Blend. Absolutely Fantastic.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Five Fun Furry Friday Factoids

1. When I go into the bathroom, Gasthof follows me. And because I don't trust Gasthof with free reign on the entire house, I let him sit next to me while I take care of business. Today, Nick left for work earlier than me, and I still had to blow dry my hair. As I blow dried my hair, I noticed that I shed more than my dog! I was wearing black scrub pants and could not find a single dog hair on them!

2. Nick and I learned how smart Gasthof is when yesterday he opened the kennel by himself! My mom called him an escape artist and my aunt LeAnne said I should have named him Houdini! Could be a good nickname :) I am glad that Nick and I were home when this happened...I was laying in bed and Nick was showering, when all of a sudden I hear metal clinking (dog tags) coming towards me...and Nick yelling, "I think Gasthof got out!" Nick said he put Gasthof in his kennel so he could shower and not have to monitor Gasthof. When I went over to the kennel and looked at the latches, the top one was still closed. Likely he pawed at the latch enough to move it, then weaseled his body out of the bottom half of the door! The next time I kenneled him, I had to use a lock to keep him from getting out. A friend said his dog had learned to get out of his kennel as well, and he used a carabiner to keep his dog from getting out. Gasthof likes his kennel, but he likes being where the action is even more! It's hard to remember to close certain doors...but Gasthof is so smart that he likes to remind me when we leave a door showing us different clothing items he tries to bring to his kennel. This includes underwear, socks, shirts, etc. It's hard to have time to clean up when I have to watch his every move...they are constantly learning, and I don't want him to develop bad habits.

3. His favorite toy is made up of two ropes, knotted together in the middle, with tennis ball sized canvas covered balls on each end with the John Deere logo on it (see photo below). I'm trying to teach him what it I say, "Get your John Deere" or "Where's your John Deere?" and then give him the toy so he associates the two. Yesterday I thought it was cute the way he plays with it--throwing it up in the air, holding on to the ball or rope with his teeth and whipping it around. I still think it's cute, but I'm watching him closer--ready to duck when he accidentally lets go and the John Deere whacks me in the face! I already have a scab (like a rug burn) on my left elbow and I can't remember what it is from...he's so strong, I need to go to the gym and build up some muscle!

4. Yesterday I took Gasthof on our longest walk yet--almost an hour! However, he walked me as much as I walked him! (to prevent him from getting distracted and not heeling, I kept him on a short leash...which means quite the arm workout!) If he stops, he is very strong and holds his ground...tough to get him moving again! Also, he is notorious for not walking in a straight line, but rather walking with his left front and back legs pointing in towards his right...which means me accidentally stepping on his feet and almost tripping over him. Maybe I should nickname him after a friend of mine who also has trouble walking in a straight know who you are ;-)

5. Growing up, I never had any pets (not even fish!) because of my mom's allergies. Thankfully, Gasthof does not shed much, and the last time she was around him, she seemed to do very well. Another positive thing is that I do not have allergies as badly as my mom, and so far, Gasthof has not seemed to trigger any allergies. It's more when we're outside that sometimes my seasonal allergies kick in. Another thing my mom likes about Gasthof is that he rarely barks (so far, I have only heard him bark when we leave and he is in his kennel...and only a few other times--when he was trying to get another dog to play with him, and when my neighbor was doing laundry and he saw the steam coming out of her house. Even so, he only barked a few times). He likes opening his mouth to chew on things (thankfully he has only chewed on my furniture once), but not to bark. I know with time this can change, but I'm glad he doesn't bark at everything in sight like some dogs. :)

PS: Although "No!" comes in short second to "good boy" in our most commonly used words/phrases, I love him, I enjoy his eagerness to learn, and I can tell he will bring a lot of joy to my life.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Got Tips?

For those of you with dogs, I would love to hear any tips you have! I'm new to this and doing the best I can, but I definitely am learning something new every day and have room for improvement. I will try to make my blog entries shorter...I've just been so excited the last week or so, and it's all brand new to me!

The number one thing I learned in the past few days is consistency. I have been consistent with my training so far (using same words and hand motions/commands, being consistent what I will and won't allow ie getting up on furniture)....but I need to be more consistent with timing (the story of my life!!)...I need to have a good schedule for Gasthof and stick to it. Today I didn't have our usual play time in the backyard (I had to go to work early), so of course that's going to throw him off. He didn't feel like drinking water in the morning, and he wouldn't poop!

Nick and I are taking Gasthof to obedience training starting next week (1 hour/week for 6 weeks. he is so smart...I know it will be good for him. I think the toughest part will be getting him to listen when he is distracted by all the excitement. I practiced today by having treats and making him sit, lie down, stay when the neighbor's dog was on the other side of the fence. I have been playing fetch with myself sometimes...about half the time I throw the frisbee, he doesn't run for then I run and go get it! But it's a big backyard so it's understandable he gets distracted. He starts doing one thing, moves onto another, but he runs up to the house with me if I start heading inside. He has gotten better at knowing that I won't let him inside until he is sitting quietly--and I stand on the other side of the door (I go in first, wait for him to sit, then let him in).  Today he was very persistent with eating the I brought him inside and gave him his food. He sure was hungry! I sat down at the counter to write in this blog, so I wasn't paying complete attention to Gasthof. All of a sudden, I look up--there is Gasthof, quietly trotting by, bringing a washcloth into his kennel. He sits innocently, obviously thinking that anything in his sight can go into his mouth. He looks at me like "What mom?" I didn't scold him, just took away the wash cloth....then I noticed that he also had a pair of my underwear in the kennel too. Good thing I noticed before they got chewed up! (However, he hasn't chewed up his blanket, he just likes to play with it...but I'm not going to risk it). So, because I could tell he wanted something in his mouth, I gave him the nylabone. His behaviors (like wanting to chew, bringing stuff in the kennel) are normal, but I want to give him alternatives that I am ok with! Like his dog toys. I think I need to buy a few more tomorrow!

I work this coming weekend, which means I get a day off from work tomorrow. I am going to hang out with Gasthof--maybe try going for a run with him?? We'll see..... Then in the afternoon I am getting a much needed massage :) Nick will have more time to spend with him this weekend--I think that will be good for them both since Nick has been busy and hasn't been around the last few days. Guy bonding :)

Well, I'm off to play more with Gasthof, then we're going for a walk with Nick. I'm looking forward to the day when I can walk Gasthof without him constantly pulling on the leash! :)

Wish us luck for Monday (obedience training)!

Terrible Twos on Tuesday? Gasthof, meet Tux

Gasthof has helped me become a little more of a morning person...although he's nice and doesn't bark to wake me up. He is quiet and appears content in his crate/kennel until I take him outside. I have a fenced- in backyard, so when he goes out most times he isn't on the leash. Thankfully he has been very good about taking care of business before playing...he's a smart guy! Thankfully Gasthof isn't an early bird, but rather more of a night owl like me. He stayed up with me till 1:30 tonight! Because he's still getting used to his new environment, everything takes longer and takes more, it's still exciting and new for the both of us. For me, this translates into staying up late because I can't wind down, and for Gasthof, he has so much energy that sometimes he doesn't know what to do with himself! He laid down for maybe 20 minutes tonight, other than that, he has been on the go for the most part from 7pm to 1am. He can't sit still...kind of like me!

Another rare moment. Note the bandage on Tux's right leg...we all were protective of that!
My friend Tiffany and her dog Tux came over to meet Gasthof tonight (Tuesday, September 21). Tux is a much smaller dog (less than 10 pounds), and was scared of Gasthof (53 pounds) for most of the night. Like most puppies, Gasthof just wanted to play, but he liked to lick at Tux and wanted Tux to run around with him. Gasthof was very persistent and could not seem to figure out that Tux wanted to just be left alone! It's like 2 year olds who can ask "why?" a billion times and talk a mile a minute about anything and everything, but you can't always understand them. Also, 2 year olds like to say "no"...I think Gasthof is at that stage where he is smart enough to know if he did something wrong, but he is testing his boundaries and asserting some independence. However, both Tiffany and I thought it would be good for the both of them to meet. Gasthof gets overly excited about playing, and Tiffany said Tux is somewhat afraid of other dogs. Put a shy, small dog with an outgoing, large dog, and you get quite the combination! Some of the things I got on video, but missed some of the best candid moments. Tux had no trouble jumping onto the cooler that we set up to somewhat block them...but when Gasthof tried to get over it, he almost slipped and fell back (thankfully he didn't fall down the stairs). I can laugh at it 'cause he didn't get hurt. We all have those clumsy moments! As I'm sure I've probably mentioned before, Gasthof is VERY STRONG and he is quick (sometimes hard to see it coming, and then all of a sudden he's jumping up on you before you can stop him). Some advice from one of the foster homes was to use a large water bottle to squirt him if he tries to jump up on things/people. Needless to say, by the end of the night, everyone was wet (especially Tif!). She was such a good sport about it and was very kind/gentle/patient with Gasthof. Thanks Tif! :)

The Gasthof barricade. He was relentless. Tif was brave and set down Tux...we had to see how they would act together. Gasthof wanted to play, Tux was scared. Thus, it led to Gasthof licking Tux, and Tux barking at Gasthof. But by the end of the night, Tux could tolerate Gasthof a little bit more. Or else he just went into shut down mode...they will both sleep well tonight!
Things Gasthof likes:  
-Paper, pens, books (all of which I have to take away from him!)
-Running around, playing with the frisbee
-Marking his territory all along the fence
-Giving kisses, licking arms, hands
-Meeting new people (today he met my neighbor's son and grandson, and my friend Tiffany)
-Meeting new dogs (today he met Tiffany's dog Tux)
-Being scratched on the collar & behind the ears (thanks to Tif for a few tips!)
-Eating and drinking...although since the surroundings are still new, he often gets easily distracted during mealtime...but he's pretty good when I redirect him.
-Learning (I've recently been teaching him "stay", and while I the muffins/banana bread was baking, I was determined to teach him "lie down". I say "lie down" as I snap my fingers and point to the ground. I just started teaching him "shake" when the banana bread timer started beeping. I figure since he has so much energy today, I will tap into that by also making him exercise his brain! Nothing like late night study sessions ;)
-His crate/kennel. (Inside he has a fleece bed, a fleece blanket (one of my old high school track blankets), the kong toy, nylabone, and a new rope toy I got him at Cub today)
-following people around, and trying to jump up on them. I am working on this one...I know it will take some time and training! :)
-Eating grass, picking up sticks (thankfully he hasn't thrown up yet from the grass...)
-Going for walks (although I keep him on a short leash, so he currently doesn't get much leeway with walks)
-Being in the kitchen while I cook (we put his kennel in the kitchen, which is where I spend a large amount of my time when I am at home). The kitchen is a nice, bright, open area...and thankfully it fits his giant-sized kennel. It's funny, but some things are easier to give up than I thought (space, a blanket, one of my towels...and I know that my walls, carpet, and furniture may take a beating), and it all feels worth it. Guess I'm growing up :)
Harmony...for about 30 seconds.  :)

I told Nick that my reason for getting a dog had nothing to do with practicing to have kids. However, now that I have a dog, I can see how having a dog does help prepare a couple for having kids some day...patience, responsibility, sacrifice, guidance, and teaching (for starters).  And, like a parent with a new baby, it's hard not to talk about Gasthof. I know that soon enough we will all be more accustomed to the routine, and we will wonder how we lived without him!
Puppy love! Watch out Chris, Gasthof wants Tiffany!;)

Before getting a dog, I would rarely make it outside before work. Now, it's not an option, but it's been very good for me. It's nice getting fresh air in my lungs, the smell of grass in my nose, and the feel of grass on my feet...
I hope everyone is getting outside to enjoy the weather! Pretty soon it will be colder and everyone will wish it were summer. So make the most of it!

A final note: as I was typing this, I got distracted and didn't keep as close of an eye on Gasthof. He managed to sneak a kitchen towel into his kennel and was in the process of bringing one of my pillows into his den when I looked up. Now he looks very cute and innocent all curled up in a ball :) I don't get mad when he brings stuff in, I just take it away and give him one of his toys that he can play with. I'm trying to focus on positive reinforcement most of the time (except for jumping up on things or barking...then I spray a little water on him. Thankfully he isn't much of a barker...just when he is barked at by a cute little dog named Tux, or when I leave for work. With the rumbling of the garage door, the whimpers begin. I'm not sure how long they last....but one time I had to run back in to get something and he had already appeared to have settled down. Feel free to comment, give advice, etc. I'm just trying to do my best for Gasthof. Good night!!

Gasthof wanted to sniff Tux all night long! Enough already Gasthof!
Tif telling Gasthof to sit (and using hand signal)
Gasthof kiss attack!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Emily and Nick are back to Work...but Gasthof wants to play!

A random, non-dog related event of my day: when I was driving around Minneapolis, I was about to drive over the Lightrail tracks, when I noticed a man lying down on the ground (of the Greenway bike path), not moving. A man with a bike was standing over him, with a concerned look on his face and a cell phone in his hand. I rolled down my window and asked if he needed help. I was getting honked at, but I didn't care--the cars behind me must not have seen what was going on. The man said he called an ambulance. There was nowhere to pull over, so I turned onto Hiawatha and took the next exit...and made my way back towards the bike path. The closest parking was street parking about two blocks away. I grabbed my CPR mask, backpack with nursing supplies (dressings, gloves, BP cuff, etc), and my stethoscope, and ran to the path. I felt soooooo out of shape as I ran the 2 blocks, but I couldn't stop till I made sure he was ok. When I got closer, I saw flashing lights, a police car, and 2 officers. The biker was no longer there. I asked, out of breath, "Is he ok?" The officers responded that he would be fine, they were taking him to detox. They said "thank you for calling" (although I wasn't the one who called)...I explained that I had seen someone lying on the ground--that I drove around the block and came to see if he was ok. I thought it was a bike accident or I was glad it wasn't that. They helped him stumble into the car, as the guy mumbled things I could not understand. I am not experienced with emergency medicine, but I could at least focus on the ABCs (Airway, Breathing, Circulation)...I had gloves and dressings if he was bleeding, and I had a mask if he wasn't breathing. I am glad that in the end, it wasn't a situation that needed me, but I am glad that I didn't just keep driving. As a nurse and as a human being, I could not just ignore someone lying motionless like that. If it wouldn't have been so close to the train tracks, I would have just put on my emergency flashers and parked right there. Once people understood what was going on, it would have been ok...but it all happened so quickly! It really got my adrenaline going...just wish I wouldn't have felt so out of shape as I ran the meager 2 blocks to get to him!

A quick note about his breeding/mix. I have heard a number of comments, including that he looked part pit bull, doberman, lab, greyhound, whippet sighthound, etc. So I asked one of the foster parents about how they guess his breed. This is what she said: "We go with the guess from our vet as well as what we think based on our experience (we've seen a lot of dogs!).  Also knowing that he came from Southern Iowa changes everything in terms of breeds. Most people assume all brindle dogs are pit bulls or greyhounds.  However, pit bulls are banned where he came from in Iowa and it's huge into coon hound hunting.  That and the whole look of his face basically is almost definitely Plott Hound.  Doberman I can see in the leggy-ness but the Plott Hounds are built so sleek that could contribute to that.  Most people in MN have never seen a Plott Hound or a Plott Hound mix unless they've been to the South!" I thought this explanation was very helpful! She also let me know that his scratches were from playing with other dogs...he liked to play rowdy...and scabs are very common (she said it's just like little kids scabbing up their knees). 

Gasthof definitely had a lot of energy today and loved to test the boundaries...and just show us that he is all puppy! He has been jumping up more on me today (and every piece of furniture...), he spilled some of my milk, started chewing my wooden end table in the living room, tried to eat grass each time he was in the backyard, even picked up the book "Housetraining" with his mouth haha...he was less interested in his Kong or Nylabone and more interested in all the new things in my home! So goes. I just really don't want my pottery to break, so I moved that further away from his reach. Looks like I'm going to have to keep the house more clean! Nick has guys' night tonight, so it's just Gasthof and me hanging out tonight. A friend of mine just got a 5 month old puppy, and we've already set up a play date in two weeks. How fun! Gasthof will love having more puppy friends!
Today was the start of the work week. Nick was wonderful and took Gasthof out in the morning and fed him. However, Nick had a hard time getting ready...and got a few dirty paws on his khakis! Since I don't trust turning him loose in the house, I had to put him in his kennel when I showered. I was able to see a few patients, stop back for a half hour to let Gasthof run around the backyard and go for a 10 min walk. Then I went back to work--so he was in his kennel until I returned home.

When I came home later, I played with Gasthof in the  backyard, then took him for a 30 minute walk. He was pretty good at walking along side me...I didn't really give him any room to sniff the ground or eat the grass. He was on a short leash today, but I knew if I let him sniff around we would never get anywhere! A few times he appeared a little apprehensive about the new surroundings, putting his tail between his legs and stopping dead in his tracks...staring at people or trucks that drove by...I let him wait for a few seconds, then I said "Let's go, it's ok" and kept walking. I didn't pet him...I read that when they're scared, they often don't like to be petted. It took about 30 minutes to go maybe 1.25 miles or so? It's good for him to get in a routine, and I know with time he will get more comfortable. Not only was the walk good for him, but it was also good for me. I enjoyed looking at the water tower in the distance, with bright pink and magenta hues covering the sky. If not for Gasthof, I may have just went home, taken a nap, and never got the fresh air or seen such beautiful scenery. Like children, dogs help us enjoy the simple things in life that we often take for granted. Two of my patients today had 2 year old children living in their home, and both were very cute...I couldn't help but smile when they tried to communicate. They said one word at a time and their eyes lit up. I told one of my patients that I got a puppy...the little boy said "Puppies??" (like he was wondering where they were). I showed him a picture of Gasthof and he exclaimed "Puppy!!" and was very happy. His eyes gleamed. Children remind us of the simple joys in life.

Sometimes it's easy to get down, impatient, annoyed, and stressed. But hang out for a few minutes with a two year old, or even a puppy, and you will find it's hard not to smile :)