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
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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.