Tag Archives: Dog

Out of Excuses

20130921-115148.jpgI’m currently in Nashville,TN en route to tour the Jack Daniels facility in Lynchburg. Still, I got up this morning to work out just so I could write this post guilt-free. So expect more get-fit posts because they motivate me. And I think there are a lot of hilarious diets and exercise plans to laugh at, so I look forward to talking about those.

As you can see from the picture, I’m out of excuses for getting completely fit. Two of my biggest ones are now coming along for the ride. I’ve hit a plateau and have to step it up a notch.

Currently, I’m a full time SAHM (or VEEP as I prefer to be called) by day and part time CRM Specialist at a luxury car dealership by night (and some Saturdays). This leaves little free time for exercise.

I did manage to lose almost 30 lbs so far, though.

Most of the weight I lost was due to nutrition. I used a little-publicized program called common sense. Essentially, what you do is avoid most sugar and keep your food input relative to your physical output. Sounds weird, but it works.

I did, of course, use some exercise equipment.

One unique piece I used you can use anywhere – campgrounds, parks, at home, waiting rooms, farms, wherever you are. You set it down and it makes a beeline for the most dangerous thing around. Electric outlets, speeding traffic, stairways, knives, glass tables, whatever it is, this monster will find it. To use it, you take responsibility for keeping it alive.

This weight loss miracle is called a newly mobile one year old named Buster. Mine is an advanced model with a big sister accessory. She doubles the productivity. For instance, say Buster is headed across a field full of rabid coyotes to try to dash in front of a speeding semi. Big sister will wait until I am chasing Buster to shout, “Mommy, I have to go potty NOW!” Then it’s a time trial out and back.

You are welcome to borrow the equipment and accessory anytime. I mean that. But you have to bear in mind that when not in use, they do not store well.

I also have a low impact light cardio system I use called a dog. She requires a walk 1-2 times per day.

We’ve been on two two-mile runs so far. Slow, of course. I bring the dog on the warm-up and cool down, so shes happy, too. The kids get strapped in safely. Princess is quite the coach- constantly yelling to go faster. But as long as they don’t kill each other in there, I’m a happy, fit mama.

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First Steps and Last Steps

I’ve written about our dog, Whiskey, before. Mostly to explain how foolish it is to name a preschooler’s dog “Whiskey”.

We first heard about Whiskey, a Llewellin Setter, in December. She was offered to us by a hunter who had purchased her from a breeder. The hunter had discovered she wasn’t responding to his vocal commands and didn’t even flinch when a gun was fired directly over her head. A deaf dog was not a dog a hunter could use. If she didn’t get a home soon, he’d have to send her back to the breeder who would likely cull her. That seemed unfair. After much research on deaf dogs, I learned that any breed with white fur had a chance of being deaf as the lack of pigment in skin that produced white fur would result in nerve death if it occurred within the dog’s ears. I also learned that because dogs don’t talk, being deaf isn’t that big of a deal to them. They can still be trained and even are said to bond more deeply with their human owners than hearing dogs.

Our family is so perfect and so healthy that I felt it was time to give back and help a creature that had not been born so blessed. I agreed to meet the dog and see if we liked her.

We met the scrappy one-year-old puppy in early December and it only took one day’s discussion to decide we’d be her new family. She was beautiful and the perfect size and played so well with our daughter.IMG_3160

The weekend before Christmas, we brought her home. She was obviously overwhelmed. She’d been kept in a kennel with another dog her whole life, so all of these cushy couches, tiny children and being inside in general were very new to her. That’s why, we assumed, she had a habit of constant pacing and circling and why she kept such a strange stance. She’d settle in with some time and some obedience classes, we were sure.

Meanwhile, we fell completely in love with her. She was never completely confident in my parenting- she stayed on top of my son as he crawled around the house and seemed to hope I’d swoop him up and out of harm’s way so she could stop worrying. My daughter would play fetch with her and chase her around the house. Walking her on the leash never seemed perfect, but she got a lot better and knew to stay on my left side, right behind the stroller, at least until a squirrel or bird came into view. Anyone who pet her would experience her sweet, sweet eyes staring right into theirs, just begging for love. At nights, after the kids went to bed, she’d snuggle my husband or I on the couch.

She never did settle in. It became apparent that she was not deaf but had more problems. She almost never sat or laid down, especially while the kids were awake. There were times when she’d completely zone out and almost sway from side to side. Her teeth would even chatter during some of these episodes. Outside, the sight of anything- people, birds, cars, etc.- made her to run in erratic circles that caused her back legs to give out and she’d fall, skidding across the yard. Inside, household objects and my daughter would be knocked over by her excited circling. She never was completely house trained and there were frequent accidents inside the house. She did learn some things in obedience class, but it was a much bigger challenge than I remembered from training the dogs my parents had kept.

At our regular veterinarian’s recommendation, we did take her to a veterinary neurologist. After a thorough examination of the dog and a lot of video on my iPhone, he concluded it was indeed a neurological disorder. He told me that she had balance issues and trouble perceiving what she saw. The “zoning out” moments were likely mini-seizures. Options for treatment were limited unless he did an MRI and determined the exact cause of the problem, which might just be a congenital defect, inoperable tumor, or other issue. The cost of the MRI was a staggering $2000 before the cost of treatments to treat whatever issue was found.

While my husband and I discussed the possibilities, her symptoms were getting worse. It was clear her vision was failing. She was trying to eat her food from behind her food bowl. We decided to try at least one treatment. We started with one for hydrocephalus fluid on the brain. If that were the issue, steroids alleviate the symptoms after a couple of days treatment. Unfortunately, the steroids offered no improvement even after two weeks. She even stopped taking treats from my hand, I think because she was afraid she would bite me.

It was becoming obvious that a difficult decision would soon have to be made. With two small children to care for, I was having trouble handling the dog but refused to allow that to make my decision. I was terrified because I knew that I would have to be with her when we put her down. And then I’d have to explain it all to my three-year-old. So, on Wednesday, I steeled myself for the worst but kept one opportunity for a miracle and scheduled one last appointment with the neurologist for Monday. On Thursday, I spoke with the breeder looking for a magical clue to save Whiskey. The breeder was very kind, but there had been no other issues with the litter she was born into and the only clue he could offer was that she was born with a dome-shaped head that was different from her littermates.

I had always wondered if Whiskey’s exuberant hovering over Buster would prevent him from walking. My daughter had taken her first steps before 9 months and Buster was still quite content crawling past 1 year, it seemed. Until Friday morning. He finally took two shaky, lurching steps towards me and the toy I was holding while Whiskey stood right next to him, watching.

It was incredibly hot on Thursday, but the heat didn’t really become intolerable until Friday afternoon. Throughout the day, it was clear Whiskey wasn’t handling the heat well. Nor was she drinking enough water. She’d knocked over every bowl and even the big food and water bowl stand my husband brought home that we thought would solve the problem because she now seemed to have to stand in the bowl to find the water. Several times I took her outside and had her stand in a huge tray full of water because she was able to find the water that way. I also made sure to spray her down with the hose a few times. But by around 3:30 pm, she was crouching like she was about to fall over but refused to lay down and wouldn’t drink any more water. I put her in her crate just because I didn’t want my daughter to see her and because I wanted her to lay down. My parents picked my daughter up for their camping trip as planned at around 4:15 pm.

As soon as they left I went over and opened the door to Whiskey’s crate. The dog that came out was a sad, sad sight. Her back legs continuously failed her and she staggered like a drunk person. I took her outside because I figured it was heat stroke and/or dehydration. I hosed her down and she just laid down on my foot, defeated. I quickly carried her onto our porch where I could barricade her lest she tried to hobble out into the street to be struck by a car. I brought her water and she refused to drink it, even from the tray. I went back inside for Pedialyte because I just couldn’t handle it if she started having full seizures from heat stroke on the porch. I’d begun to realize it was time to let her go, but not like this. When I came back outside she was listless, eyes shut, but still breathing. I couldn’t open her mouth but lifted her lip and dumped the sticky, pink liquid right into her mouth. She ignored me at first and then began to lick her cheek where some had spilled. I dumped some water right in next.

My husband sped home and scooped her up into the car and took her to the emergency room. He wasn’t yet ready to face the conclusion I’d reached. So they treated her and made her comfortable and even kept her overnight. The neurologist called me first thing in the morning and agreed with my decision, that the dog’s quality of life can’t be good if she faced heat stroke on the first hot day of the summer. My husband agreed.

So I now had to face my worst fears. Saturday morning, my husband and I met Whiskey in an exam room to say our goodbyes. She was happy to see us, but still not walking well. We had Buster, so I stayed with the dog while hubby took the boy outside.

Alone with her now, I wondered how we’d ever get her to lay down to be euthanized. She was pacing as usual. But it seemed even she knew it was time. The doctor came in with the two injections and kneeled on the floor next to me. Just one day after Buster’s first two steps, Whiskey took her last two over to me and laid down right in front of the doctor. Her emergency treatment had left her with the catheter from the IV, so she didn’t even suffer pain from the needle. She went right to sleep with the first shot and then her heart calmly stopped with the second. I could feel relief in the room, that she was no longer suffering. I hoped she was somewhere in Heaven, running straight and chasing birds and squirrels.

It was much easier than I’d imagined.

On Sunday morning, when my daughter arrived home from camping, the next worst part had to happen. And it, too, was much easier than I’d expected. I feared a discussion on existence and morality. It was not to be. Here’s how it went:

We explained that Whiskey had become really sick. Princess said, “Oh no, is she still at the vet?”

My husband told her, “No, honey, Whiskey died. She’s not ever coming home.”

Princess looked my husband and said, “She’s dead?” My husband nodded.

Princess looked at her brother and told him, “Whiskey’s not here anymore, ok?” Buster smiled.

Princess asked if she could go swimming and then have ice cream.

While I’m sure there will be future questions, the tough part that had been gnawing at me for weeks was over.

What I did not steel myself for was tonight. She’s not here to snuggle with. There was no late night trips to get her to go potty outside. I haven’t tripped over any dog toys today. And tomorrow, I won’t have to run downstairs to let her outside so she doesn’t poop in the dining room and then watch her struggle to consume her food and water. But there will be no walk after I drop Princess at school. And she’s not going to be trying to guard Buster.

And I know my house won’t smell like wet dog. And every time I have that thought and remember the disgusting smell of her when she was all wet, it’s like someone punches me in the gut and I start sobbing.

It’s been a big weekend. With Jon’s first steps and Whiskey’s last, I’m reminded of everything good and bad about life.

Whiskey, if you’re up there and somehow reading this (hey, that dog on Disney has a blog, right?), please know that you were so, so loved and you are so, so missed. I wish that your brain had been up to handling all the love that I know you had left to give. I’m humbled and grateful that you were a part of my life, for however short a time. Rest in peace sweet girl.

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Today Is My One Year Anniversary As A VEEP CFO

housewife [derogation]

Housewife (shaking salt? where’s the margarita?)

It’s official.  As of today, a full year has passed since I hugged everybody in my office, shook my bosses’ hands and left the world of being paid for work.  I’m not sure if they miss me, but good God some days I miss them.

In some ways it feels like yesterday. But it feels like a different life. I was a different person.  I had clothes that fit, could afford makeup, and had a W2 to value (even if undervalue) myself by.
I was also delusional.  I was just entering the third trimester of pregnancy, so perhaps that explains why I believed these things about my future life as a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM, by the way how lame is that acronym?  Why not VEEP (voluntarily-eschewing-employment-parent?)  I’m using VEEP from now on):
1.)  My house will be cleaner.
Yes, because a house that is empty 3/4 of my waking hours will be much neater when I and two small children now occupy it constantly.  Of course, I’m home to clean it, right?  I wish I could find the original quote to properly attribute it, but I read somewhere cleaning a house with kids in it is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos.  That’s true.
2.)  I’ll at least have finally have some time to do a few creative things I’ve always wanted to do.  Kids take naps and watch TV sometimes, right?
Ha!  Want to know what writing/crafting/freelance/etc. is like for a stay-at-home-parent of more than one child?  Try this experiment:  Set a timer for 5 minutes.  Start on the project of your choice.  When the timer goes off, go feed something, clean poop off something, or hold something that is screaming loudly for no reason or a combination of these for the next hour or two.  Repeat 3-4 times until you just bang your head against something for the five minutes on the timer instead.  That’s what it’s like.  By the time another adult arrives home, trust me, all you can handle is a stiff drink or to lie prostrate, whimpering, on the couch for a few hours.
3.)  I’ll be able to slack a little some days.  I just won’t brag about it or anything.  I’m sure that’s what other VEEPs do.
Do you know what kids do to parents who try to read, watch TV or anything else unrelated to their immediate needs or desires?  They torture them. They destroy their most prized possessions.  They eat them alive.  (They do the exact same thing to sick parents.)  If you want to stay alive, you have to stay one step ahead of the little shits (see #4 for details about why this is an appropriate moniker for them).  Lunch better be ready before the thought occurs to them to be hungry. You better have another project ready to go before they notice how boring the first one is (approximate timeframe for that is under 5 minutes, FYI).  No demon born of hell can devise torture that compares to what a bored toddler whose blood sugar is starting to dip will do to you.  Do not test this, just believe me.  It’s for your own safety.
4.)  There won’t be that much poop.  
(Okay, I didn’t have this exact thought, but I never thought about how much of my day will be about poop).  My sense of humor has always been similar to that of a little boy in that I found poop very amusing.  Maybe my life now is punishment for that.  I have an 8-month-old boy and a 3-year-old girl.  And a cat.  And a dog.  If someone were to accurately title my current position, it would probably be CFO- Chief Fecal Officer.  My entire day’s timing revolves around when other creatures evacuate their bowels.  Except the cat; he’ll let me scoop his littler box whenever I want.  He’s just proud that someone knows even his stool should be preserved forever in a plastic bag and wonders where I keep the pile of gifts he makes me that I scoop out and take away to enjoy.
The boy is on no regular elimination schedule.  His ass will explode with  putrid-smelling shades of green and brown any time.  If I were to keep a chart of the times, I would guess that we would find a direct correlation between his bowel movements and my dining.  When he blows, though, it needs to be addressed immediately.  Otherwise things get more than a little messy.  What’s funny is as I write this (on my iPhone word pad while standing in the middle of my living room watching my son cruise around my living room) the boy is obviously grunting one out.  In his usual style, he’s following it up by sitting down and bouncing up and down a few times to make sure it does indeed spill out up onto that chubby little back of his that I bathed roughly 15 min ago.  I will BRB after I avoid this affecting my carpet.  (Note: See #2. It’s been a full 24 hours later before I could type another word.  And that’s only because the girl is with Grandma and Grandpa and hubby’s downstairs with the boy. Anyway, got lucky yesterday and poop only penetrated one layer of clothing.  Yay for absorbent fleece sweatshirts!)    (Another quick parenthetical interruption; the boy’s nursery is across from the office where I’m typing and I can hear his daddy saying “Oh, God, it smells so bad…”; Daddy is now stopping in to tell me that we should get the boy back on a strictly formula diet, the solid food is making his feces too odiferous.  Mental note:  This will be my last post involving poop as it seems to spur the boy on.)
Our dog is only 10 months old, has special needs, and is still “learning”, so I have to take her out at 7:30 am and then again every half-hour from 10 am on until she poops again.  If I don’t, she finds the dining room most convenient for depositing her ass’s contents.  She’s noticed I don’t like the dining room defecation, though, and tries to eat it all up before I notice. “Yes, this is actually  your life now,” I tell myself.
The human girl typically goes in the morning.  If we were to chart her poops, there would likely be a correlation between her events and her brother’s dining.  Yes, she is potty-trained and even though she can’t wipe herself, smearing some poop off a tiny ass and flushing isn’t that bad.  But, when you’re three, “things” happen.  Poop in a diaper is supposed to happen, thus there are a variety of ways even spill-overs can be easily handled.   Tiny onesies can be rinsed or thrown away.  The soiled diaper and any cleaning supplies can be deposited in a magical genie. Come to think of it, though, dragging a thin plastic sack of baby’s eliminations that is secured only by my own not-so-nautical knots to the garbage outside provides some less-than-magical moments and is yet another responsibility of myself as CFO. (Run on what?! Too many parentheses what?!  Seriously, back to the girl..) “Things” that happen to a three-year-old don’t happen in conveniently absorbent, disposable packages.  These “things” can ruin several layers of clothing, furniture and a young girl’s sense of pottying self-esteem.
Now, though, we’re mostly past the accidents, so furniture has been spared lately. But, last Thursday, she missed the hole.  In the toilet, that is.  She went in while I was outside taking the dog out and got her little Lightening McQueen padded seat on there, hopped up, and missed the hole when the poop came out.  When I came in after bagging the dog’s deposits, everything seemed normal.  Princess was screaming “I made a poopie, you have to wipe it!!!” at the top of her lungs.  When I entered the bathroom, I knew something was amiss.  “Mom, I got a little poop on my pajamas.  But I did NOT have an accident,” she told me proudly.  At least I think that’s what she said; I was gagging.  There were chunks of solid brown poop hung up on the handle of the padded mini-seat.  (She’s a log-maker, regular and healthy for sure.  Probably unrelated to her diet.) Her pajamas and her were entirely covered in similar chunks and smears.  I will stop describing there.  But no, this was no accident.  It was another incident the CFO handled readily and without complaint.
5.)  No matter what the sacrifices, at least my children will receive the attention they deserve instead of spending the entire day with strangers.  
For the first two years of my daughter’s life, I worked full-time.  Luckily, much of her daycare was provided by her grandparents.  About a year before I quit my job, though, my mom was all, “Jenn, I’ve finally found a job after looking for one for several years in this terrible economy, isn’t that great?”  And I was all, “Really, where?  No seriously, I need the phone number.  They need to hear about your embezzling habit and deviant behaviors.”
But, she wouldn’t give me the number and went on to join the ranks of the employed.  Like others their age, my husband’s parents winter in Florida. So, my precious angel went on to spend her days with strangers at a daycare.  You know what those strangers did?  They created an entire day that revolved around her learning, socializing, arts & crafts, exercising and sleeping properly.  Never once did they do the things that a parent would do, like dishes.  Or laundry.  Or grocery shopping.  Or cursing while paying bills online.  I bet they never once said, “I’ve got to go handle your brother’s diaper blowout.  Sit in that chair and watch TV until I get back.”  Or, “Please, honey, mommy’s ears are tired.  Can you just stop talking for five minutes?  I’ll give you a cookie.”
So, if you are one of those women who is jealous of me, you should be; I hang out with kids and spend my husband’s money all day.  Still, while you’re out to lunch complaining to your friends how you’d like to be a VEEP like me, just look at your friends while you’re talking.  Be grateful that you don’t have to start writing a blog to replace the conversations you have with them because otherwise you don’t get to “talk” to grownups.
And look at your clothes.  Do they fit?  Are they covered in poop?
And when you get home from your job and hug your child/children and they see that “You are my world.  I really missed you,” look on your face, know that my children probably received a “You are my world.  I would trade my right arm to leave here for just 10 minutes,” look about 15 times throughout the day.
But I am proud of my current position.  I love those little shits (much better than the big ones they do).  I’m Jennifer Greenberg, a VEEP CFO, and tomorrow I will enthusiastically report for doody. (So punny, right?  Tired of parentheses yet?)
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Whiskey’s In The Cabinet

I haven’t written much on here lately. This is mostly because the Greenbergs have acquired a dog. She’s a gorgeous Llewellin Setter. She’s at least part deaf but loves to give kisses and snuggle in your lap. She and needed a home and we needed a dog. We love her.

Like a bottle of Jack Daniel’s, she is black, white and carmel-colored. We named her Whiskey, which, we explained to Princess, is short for Whiskers. Princess put up a small fight for her chosen moniker- “Puppy The Puppy” – but she finally came over to our side and agreed Whiskey was a great name.

I still think it’s a great name, but I probably should have foreseen some issues.

Last week was my husband’s vacation. We’d initially planned a ski vacation and bought discounted lift tickets to Jay Peak. For a bunch of reasons, including the prohibitive cost of ski area day care and the new dog, we decided not to go.

At the last minute my father decided he was taking vacation that week and would be able to care for our infant. I found a reasonably-priced pet-friendly cabin 12 miles from the mountain and the trip was back on. I asked Princess if she was excited about our trip to Vermont and she replied, “YES!!! We’re going skiing and we’re going to stay in a cabinet!!!”

I laughed so hard it took me a while to explain it was a “cabin” not a “cabinet.”  I think because everyone laughed when she said it, she seemed to prefer calling it a “cabinet.”

Everything in this post up until now should have been included in a handout I gave to anyone within earshot of Princess on this trip.

Ski school instructors, waiters, water park life guards, lodging proprietors, bartenders (hey, the laws are apparently different in Vermont and I wasn’t winning “mom of the mountain” anyway), and fellow visitors might have overheard these nuggets from the ringlet-framed face above the bubblegum pink jacket in an angelic voice from Princess, to which my only follow-up could be a meek, barely-believable “it’s a dog.”

1. Did we leave Whiskey in the cabinet?
2. Can I take Whiskey out of the cabinet to play when we’re done skiing?
3. Can I have Whiskey in my bed tonight?
4. Sometimes Whiskey makes me turn in circles and fall in the snow.
5. Are we bringing Whiskey skiing?
6. Can we bring Whiskey to the water park?
7. I can’t wait to see whiskey in the cabinet.
8. Are we going to bring Whiskey home in mommy’s car with us?
9. I’m so glad we got Whiskey.
10. I love Whiskey.

Me too, kid. But keep your voice down!


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