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 mission...to 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 him...it 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 open...by 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 is...so 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 line...you 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 it...so 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 grass...so 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 effort...plus, 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 something...so 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 :)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Second day in his new home

Gasthof, with his new Vikings dog tag, and beautiful white marking (Nick thinks it looks like the state of Minnesota)
Nick and I decided to stay at home today and get to know Gasthof better and vice versa. We wanted him to feel comfortable and loved, and to start developing somewhat of a routine. Obviously the routine will be different during the work week, but it's a start. Nick and I are both amazed at how attached both of us feel after only being with Gasthof for two days. I love him already! It doesn't seem like just yesterday (Saturday) that he was slipping and sliding on the floor of Petco (his long legs don't know how to walk on such a slippery surface) and pulling hard on the leash when we walked him outside the store. Everyone who knew him through Homeward Bound Rescue informed me he needs some leash manners, but that he seems very bright and eager to learn.
Gasthof doesn't always seem to know what to do with his long legs!
I never grew up with any pets because of my mom's allergies. The more I was around my friends' dogs in recent years, the more I considered having one some day. That "some day" came sooner than expected. I became a home care nurse back in March of this year, and in the past 6 months I have grown to love dogs even more! Many of my patients have dogs and/or cats. Some cats seem to act up my allergies...but I didn't seem to have an issue with dogs. I had a few patients with big dogs, including one patient with a pit bull....he was such a sweetheart. I started to see more and more how important good training is for dogs, and what great companions they are. The majority of them are very eager to learn, to please, and to be loved. Many of my home care patients live nearby--the majority in Minneapolis/St Paul, Columbia Heights, and Fridley, making my house a nice, central location! This means that some days I will be able to see Gasthof for a short break in the middle of the day! I often grab a quick bite to eat at home a few days every week...so now I can hopefully let him out to run around and play in the backyard, or take him for a walk. That means good exercise for both Gasthof and me!
Just relaxing after playing outside
He didn't bark at all yesterday; the foster mom said he's a very quiet dog and in two weeks she only heard him bark twice. He didn't bark even when the dogs were barking at Petco yesterday, when the neighbor dog barked at him, nor when we put him in his kennel last night or when we took him out in the morning. We knew it would happen sometime...and I was curious to hear what his voice sounded like! When Nick and I were talking with our neighbor, Gasthof was running along our chain link metal fence playing with their border collie named Nutmeg. Boy can Gasthof jump! He made a running dash for the fence, but thankfully doesn't have enough in him to jump the fence! At his last vet check up his weight was 53 lbs. I think he may grow a little more...I'm not sure if he could jump the fence, but I'm not going to risk it. The fence is about 3 1/2 feet. Nick and I don't leave him in the backyard alone, so it shouldn't be an issue. Gasthof tried to get the neighbor's second dog, a golden retriever named Ginger, to run with him. I said "sit" to Gasthof...sure enough, Ginger sat and wagged her tail, while Gasthof continued to run back and forth. At least he was able to expend some of his energy! Hopefully he will be able to have these neighbor dogs as playmates! Another thing I noticed is that Gasthof has been very good at marking his territory along the perimeter of the fence...thankfully that is also where he poops; so far I have not stepped in any and I hope to keep it that way:) Unfortunately, our grass is quite long and sometimes it's hard to find. It's nice having a big backyard, but it's a pain to mow. So goes!
My two favorite boys: Nick and Gasthof!
I didn't take him for a walk today, but we played with him a lot outside. He is getting the hang of fetch more...he now will pick up the frisbee about half the time after I throw it, but he doesn't bring it back to me or Nick yet. But yesterday he barely even picked up the Frisbee. He seems to be getting more comfortable today...and I know that he has so much potential. I'm very impressed at how well he is doing...I know that some days may be better than others with the adjustment, but I'm glad that he seems happy. We love trying to teach him. He is getting good at sitting. Now we are working on "stay", "lie down", "heel" and "paws off" (no jumping), and "kennel". We are quick to stop a bad behavior, but also very quick to praise him.  We focus on using his name when he is doing something right, and when he does something we don't want (like putting paws up on the counter, chewing at the carpet, or taking Nick's smelly socks...lol....we help direct his energy to something good--like chewing on his nylabone). I think it's funny that dogs like the smell of feet!
Nick took breaks from watching the game to play with Gasthof. Unfortunately, the Vikings lost :(
As expected with adopted dogs and puppies, Gasthof also had his first little accidents in the home today. Thankfully they were both in the kitchen...easy to clean up on the tile. Gasthof met Nick's mom, Melanie, today. He really liked her, licking her and jumping up to say hello, and was very happy to receive a raw hide treat from her! He is such a sweet dog who seems to love everyone! One thing we have to work on with him is getting him not to jump up on people when he meets them. He's a quick learner, so I'm optimistic. Plus, he has us for parents and teachers, so how could he go wrong? Lol. He might just be a little late to things ;)
Books for us to read...not things for Gasthof to chew on! He likes paper, books, pens, the carpet...makes it easier to keep the house clean. We put the shoe rack in the closet for the time being, after I saw him carrying my sneakers. He is sneaky! :)
A last few comments: he sneezes just like Nick's brother, Sam. He got a sneezing fit (up to 5 sneezes in a row) today. I love his floppy ears and his brindle coat. I even gave him a quick bath tonight...he didn't love it, but he seemed to do ok. Nick said his fur felt softer after the bath. I figured that it might be nice to rinse him off. When we got him, he had scratches/scabs on his ears. I'm used to cleaning wounds being a nurse...so I washed his ears and applied a little antibiotic ointment. I hope they heal well.

Showing off his brindle and how handsome he is!
For anyone still reading, sorry that this post was long. It has been a great weekend and I want to record these moments so later on we can see where he started and see how far he came. I feel very lucky to be blessed with such a sweet, handsome, smart, loving dog like Gasthof. Now I have to go pay Nick some attention too :) I will leave you with a few pictures I took in succession of Gasthof obeying Nick's command to sit:


About to leave the parking lot at Petco to bring Gasthof home! Love at first sight!

Gasthof, obeying "sit" command :)

I love this dog!
showing off his chops!

Welcome Home

Today (well, September 18...haven't been able to sleep yet!) I got my first pet. I never grew up with any pets because of my mom's allergies. Being a home care nurse I have been exposed to many dogs, and I really became interested in the idea of adopting/rescuing a dog. Initially, Nick wanted a puppy because he wanted a clean slate for training, and he was interested in looking at breeders; I wanted to rescue a dog. Nick wanted a dog that would not fit in a mailbox (i.e. not a tiny dog!), a breed that was known to have intelligent and quick learners, and one that likes activities like running, swimming, playing fetch, etc. I, too, wanted a large dog with the same qualities--and I also wanted a dog who would be loving/affectionate.

Call it luck, or call it fate....but in the end, it seems like it worked out perfectly. We got a big puppy (10 months) who is a mix between Lab and Plott Hound (random fact: Plott Hound is the state dog of North Carolina), who is very sweet/affectionate, playful, and who is eager to learn. We named him Gasthof.
Nick wanted to name the dog a non-human name...I didn't want a common dog name...and I wanted something with meaning. I thought of Gasthof, after the place where we met (the bar/restaurant Gasthof Zur Gemutlichkeit). We adopted him through Homeward Bound Rescue. They think he is about 10 months old. He was found as a stray in Iowa, was there for a few months, then came up to Minnesota. I have not heard him bark once, just a few whimpers when I went to the apple orchard for a short time today and he stayed behind in the kennel in the kitchen.

We had a great first day! I played with him in the backyard, took him for a walk, and he met a lot of new people today: a few neighbors, my parents, and friends Julie Ann and Dan. He did very well with the transition, better than I expected! Each time he did something he shouldn't (like put paws on the counter, jump on the couch, pull the leash, I corrected him and helped him do something positive/another command like sit, heel, etc. and then would praise him for that. By the end of the day, if he wasn't too distracted by other things, he sat when I told him to sit, and was not pulling the leash as much. Although his background isn't well known, you can tell that he did not learn things like leash manners.

He loved being in the kitchen when Julie Ann and Dan were cooking, but he did not beg for food. A few times he tried to get his cute paws up on the table, but after I corrected him a few times, he was content just following us around or lying in the middle of the kitchen. He definitely wants to be where the action is!

Things that surprised me:
He didn't have any accidents inside today
He came when I called him (from the backyard to the porch door into the house)
He didn't bark once.
He is VERY strong. He pulled on the leash so hard in the beginning he almost took me down and he's less than half my size!
He is darker in color than I thought, but a very handsome dog with beautiful brindle, floppy ears, and a white marking on his chest.
He seemed to develop attachment quicker than I expected.
He got into the car without any difficulty and did very well on his few short car rides. He put his head in my lap...it was very sweet.
He had a few scratches/scabs on his ears and face...I went into nurse mode and wanted to make sure they were healing ok!
He did very well with both Nick and me...we are both on the same page about discipline...consistency, rewarding positive behavior, immediately correcting bad behavior. We make a good team!
And last, but not least, it was love at first sight!

I suppose I should go to bed, so that I can wake up early enough to let Gasthof outside! I am very thankful that the previous owners of my house put up a chain link metal fence in the backyard...he has lots of room to roam and more freedom! I tried to teach him to play fetch today with a frisbee...he got it one time but seemed much more interested in running around and sniffing, taking in his new backyard. I hope tomorrow goes as well :)

FYI This is my first "blog". I thought it was fitting to start a "blog" on the day we got the dog. Even if nobody reads this, I think it will be a nice thing to have--like a journal I can look back on. I will post pictures soon.