Tag Archives: dogs

It Wasn’t Until Last Night That I Knew

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By now, if you have read my earlier postings, you have met Ubi, and you know that he is a Cavachon.  You also know that a Cavachon is the lucky offspring of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and a Bichon Frise.  I say lucky because, well, just look at him.  Look into his eyes.  My neighbor gets credit for this picture.  She dropped her keys and he started to eat them, but she got him to look up at her long enough to capture one of the best photos of him to date.  Every time I look at it, and look at those eyes, tears come to mine.

I am so blessed to have this guy in my life.  He is teaching me so much about patience, tolerance and understanding.  So far he has gone through several USB chargers for my phone, and two power supplies for my Microsoft Surface Pro 4 at $80 a piece.  He has destroyed several of his toys in an explosion of fluff.  He has peed and pooped all over the area rug and hardwood floor in my living room, but that’s ok.  I purchased the rug just for him.  It’s made of polypropylene.  And yes, I can’t find half of my socks.  I’m sure they will turn up somewhere one I find his hiding place.

I tried letting him sleep in bed with me, and at first that worked out just fine.  But then he decided it was more fun to kiss me than go to sleep.  I don’t mind him kissing me, but not when I’m trying to fall asleep.  So now I’m putting him in his crate by my bed until he is a little older and learns that when the lights go out it’s time for bed.

As you know, Ubi broke his leg.  He healed spectacularly.  To watch him run is a wonderful sight.  He is so fast.  We are in puppy class right now, and he is the smallest puppy in the room by far, but he doesn’t care.  During play time he plays with the bigger boys and girls and loves it when he can get them to chase him.

So what is it that I didn’t know until last night?  Well another neighbor was over with her dog, and Ubi was playing with her and the other dog, and me.  Ubi is so friendly to everyone.  He loves it when people visit.  He runs up to them with so much enthusiasm.  He is just so irresistible.  I’m very happy about this.  I want a dog that people don’t have to be afraid of when the come in to my home.  I really hope he stays this way.  But there’s also a part of me that wants him to be attached to me more so than others.  I want him to know that I am his caretaker, and that I am, well, his Daddy.  But I figured, if he is friendly with everyone, I guess that’s good enough.  At least I don’t have to worry about him biting anyone.

But last night something happened and I knew.  While we were playing, with my neighbor there, and the other dog there, and new bully sticks that the dogs were chewing on, I had to go upstairs to make sure the doors were closed, so the dogs didn’t get into anything up there.  So I go upstairs, and I’m closing the doors, and I turn around, and there was Ubi.  No bully stick, neighbor and other dog downstairs, but there he was, looking up at me, seemingly with relief that I didn’t leave the house through some hidden exit in my bedroom.  What did I know?  I think you know what I knew.

Ubi Has A Peg Leg

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It was 4:00 am this past Wednesday night.  Just like the past 3 nights, Ubi was sleeping with me on the couch.  I felt this was safe because my couch is so low to the ground.  The highest point is no more than 2 feet above the ground.  Unlike the past 3 nights, at 4:00 am I woke up to a thud, and then loud screeching.  “Oh no!  Ubi!”, I cried out loud.

I got up and turned on the light and picked him up.  He was shaking violently and yelping.  I comforted him as best I could, stroking him, as he looked up at me with those all too expressive eyes.  I knew he was in severe pain.

Eventually he stopped shaking and squealing though, and I put him on the ground to see if he was limping.  He wasn’t putting any weight on his right rear leg.  He limped over to his crate, stepped inside, and lied down and went to sleep.  I closed the door to his crate, and decided to wait until morning to take him to the vet since he wasn’t complaining anymore and he was resting.

The next morning I called the vet at 7:00 am, right when they opened, and they got me an appointment at 9:00 am.  An x-ray showed a broken tibia in his right rear leg.  I felt so bad.  I felt like I used very poor judgement and I could never forgive myself.

The picture above was from when I picked him up from the vet a little bit later.  You can tell he’s frowning.  My frown is fake, but inside it wasn’t.  I told the vet tech that I just felt horrible.  She reminded me that I’ve never had a puppy before, and sometimes lessons have to be learned the hard way.  She said that she had no hesitation sending him home with me because she and everyone else there knew that I would do right by him.

It turns out that Ubi doesn’t need his cone collar because he can get to the bandage anyway.  A friend at work had a good idea, which was to spray Bitter Apple on it.  Today I am having to slow Ubi down because he doesn’t appear to be in any pain, and he’s flying around my condo like nothing happened.  He has definitely learned how to use his peg leg, and it doesn’t deter him from playing.  It pains me to stop him and slow him down because I know he has a ton of energy and he just wants to play, but the more he puts weight on the peg leg, the longer it will take to heal.

So I’ve learned a big lesson, and as I finish this up with Ubi at my feet barking at me to play with him, all I can think about is that this could have been much worse.  Everyone tells me that he will heal quickly because he is a puppy.  I’m looking forward to the day when he gets the bandage off and is released from bondage.  In the meantime, I will consider this to be a character building exercise.  Not for Ubi, but for me.

New Beginnings

After my 52 lb mutt passed on Dec 09, 2015, I was very sad for several weeks.  Being single with no children, I found myself to be very lonely, with nothing to come home to.  I’ve always had this strong desire to take care of something, and when Jamaica died, a part of me died inside as well.

I knew I’d be getting another dog, but I thought I’d wait for a little while.  Taking care of Jamaica toward the end became expensive because of all of the medications she was on, and because of the many trips to the vet.  Plus, I was still getting out of bed, looking down to make sure I didn’t step on her as she would always sleep on blankets right next to my bed, every night.

So I thought I would save a little money, and although I missed her terribly, I figured I’d take advantage of the new freedom I had.  I no longer had to worry about how late I stayed at work.  I no longer had to worry about taking her for walks, even in the coldest or wettest weather.  I no longer had to worry about whether or not the dog walker was doing his job and taking her for the full, 20 minute walks she was supposed to be getting every day while I was at work.

But the result of all of this is that I wasn’t doing much of anything.  I would come home from work, sit in front of the TV for a few hours, and fall asleep on the couch watching TV.  I was sinking deeper and deeper into depression, but I was bound and determined not to get another dog until the Spring.

Needless to say, if you have looked at my pictures above, this is not the way things worked out.  For a long time before Jamaica died, I had been researching what type of dog I’d want next.  Don’t get me wrong.  Jamaica was a wonderful dog, but I took a big chance with her.  I got her from a no kill shelter and just assumed that love could conquer all.  For the most part, it did.  Jamaica was a loyal, loving pet.  But there were some traits about her that I knew I’d want to be different in any other dog that I chose to raise as a pet.

Instead of speaking negatively about Jamaica though, I’d rather just state what I was looking for, and which I could only get by getting a dog which was bred to have these traits.  I wanted a dog that didn’t shed.  I wanted a dog that was hypo-allergenic.  I wanted a smaller dog for which exercising in my condo, plus a couple of good walks a day would be enough.  I wanted a dog that would be friendly with other animals and friendly with people, especially people that were guests in my home.  I wanted a dog that was smart, easily trainable, and obedient.

After doing some research, and asking around, I came up with the Cavachon.  A Cavachon if you didn’t already know is a cross between a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Bichon Frise.  A true Cavachon is first generation only, and thus they are rare.  So once I decided on this breed, it was a challenge to find a reputable breeder.  After checking a few out, Lynne Kaiser of “Smooch My Pups” was highly recommended to me.  The problem was, she is up in Michigan, and I live in Northern Virginia.  This turned out not to be a problem.  Lynne sells Cavachons to remote buyers all the time.  She sent me several pictures, and I had one picked out pretty quickly because he was about the cutest thing I’d every seen.

Then Lynne sent me some videos of him playing, and I knew I had made the right choice.  I had already picked out his name before I’d even met him.  I am a Linux Systems Administrator, and Ubuntu is a Linux Operating System.  So that would be his name, Ubuntu.  I knew nobody would call him that, so I shortened it to Ubi (pronounced oobee).

On Tuesday, Jan 26, I picked Ubi up from the airport, and held him in my arms for the first time.  He and his carrier were both covered in poop and pee, so when I got him home I immediately gave him a bath.  The poor guy was so cold.  I dried him off and held his 3 lb body tightly against me wrapped in blankets until he stopped shaking.  He briefly fell asleep against my chest.

After he was dry, I let him down, and the fun began.  I had a ton of toys, hand me downs from Jamaica.  They were all bigger than Ubi.  He played with them anyway.  He ran around my condo like he had always lived here.  He was happy and having fun.

So after one week of playing, pooping on the floor, peeing on the floor, but doing both outside most of the time, learning fetch in 3 minutes, learning sit in 10 minutes, running around at dog playcare like he owns the place, following me around the house like I am his daddy and best friend, being friendly to house guests, and having an extra long vet appointment because the vet techs didn’t want to stop playing with him, all I can say is I’m exhausted.  Well, that’s not all.  I am so in love with this little guy, that I would do absolutely anything for him.

Ubi has brought joy back into my home.  Although some days I go to work with my eyes half open, it’s all worth it.  To watch him play, to hold him in my arms while I’m watching TV, as he falls asleep on my lap.  I can’t tell you the beauty of this.

I love you Ubi!

The Difference Between Cats and Dogs

After having these cats for a little while now, I’ve come to realize that there are distinct differences between cats and dogs, which I find curious, wondrous, and most of the time, humorous as well. Here is the list I’ve compiled so far.

1) To discipline either a dog or a cat, you need to catch it in the act of what it isn’t supposed to be doing. However, if a dog is doing something it isn’t supposed to do, which my dog rarely does anymore after so many years, you yell at it, show it what the appropriate behavior is if any, and then praise it like crazy. If a cat is doing what it isn’t supposed to do, you yell at it, squirt it with water to the point where it is soaked, chase it away, hiss at it, and then go over and pick it up and praise it. The dog usually learns the lesson after 2 or 3 repetitions. The cat learns the lesson after about 30 repetitions if ever.

2) Dogs are generally pretty quiet while you are sleeping. Cats sleep until you are asleep, and then they make a lot of noise. They push things off of counters to hear them go bang. They bat things around on the floor, especially if you have hardwood floors, and especially if whatever they are batting has a bell in it. They chase each other up and down the stairs, tackle each other, growl at each other, and make all sorts of strange sounds which are completely dissimilar to “meow”. I’ve learned that if I just stay up all the time I have a lot more peace, and a lot fewer broken or lost valuables.

3) Dogs will do anything for a treat. They will sit, lay down, roll over, bow, and even shake your hand for that treat. Cats will do anything they can to snatch the treat from your hand, including working as a team, where one bats your hand and knocks the treat on the ground to distract you, while the other grabs the entire bag of treats, and instantaneously hauls it off to some unknown location where only cats go, even if the bag weighs 15 lbs.

4) This one is not for the squeemish. Dogs will vomit, and before you can get a paper towel to clean it up, it’s magically gone. Cats will cough up a hair ball, sit there and look at it, start to play with it, and then act surprised when you come by yelling and hissing at them with a water bottle in your hand.

5) Dogs will attempt to kick grass or dirt over their feces to cover it up. Cats will bury their feces, and then kick the dirty litter all over the floor just for fun. They will then track this dirty litter all over the house, and the dog will eat it and get diarrhea, all over the house.

6) Dogs love when you rub their bellies and will always be up for a good leg kicking, scratching behind their ears, or on that special spot. Cats love a good belly rub, or scratching, but only when they feel like it. When they do, they will jump onto your lap, or onto a guest’s lap very suddenly, and then paw at you or your guest until the scratching commences. They will then “lovingly” bite you which hurts like hell. If this was the female cat who demanded the scratching first, the male cat will be on your lap within seconds, pushing the female cat out of the way. This results in an MMA match on your lap, during which you, the referee will sustain several bite and scratch wounds.

7) And finally. Dogs exist to please you. If you are happy, they are happy. They are very emotionally attached, and almost empathic. Cats could care less about your feelings. As long as you provide a clean litter box, their food and water, and a warm place for them to sleep whether that is on you, or in their cat tree, they are happy. Oh, and finally, to the cats. I am not a cat tree.

Conclusion? Both dogs and cats require consistency, discipline, patience, a safe and healthful environment, companionship, and most of all love. However, if you took the Meyers-Briggs test and were more of a thinking person, get a cat. If you were more of a feeling person, get a dog. I’m a feeler through and through, but the cats are forcing me to be more consistent, more organized, and more patient. They are also giving me a better understanding of the things I cannot change, the things I can change, and what the difference between the two truly is. For the most part, I can’t change the cats or the dog, but I can change me, and that’s really about it.

The cats took the bandanas off after about 10 minutes. The dog will keep a bandana on until stinks, and is covered in food and slobber.

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Happy Halloween everybody!

Winding Roads

Since I got the two cats that currently own my home, people have asked me the question, “Larry, why cats?” Other than the fact that I am allergic, and grew up having horrible asthma attacks until we realized it was our cat Smiley causing them, I truly didn’t understand this question. People were not asking the question out of concern for my physical health. They were asking because I’ve always been a dog lover, and I have a very happy dog whom I’ve learned to take care of through advice, and trial and error. So why would I gets cats which would present a whole new challenge?

I still didn’t understand the question. I mean, why wouldn’t I want a whole new challenge? Well, honestly, I didn’t know what I was in for.

– Dog eating litter covered Tootsie Rolls and having diarrhea in the house.
– Cats eating dog diarrhea and getting diarrhea.
– Cats wanting to play at 3:00 AM and chasing each other around the house.
– Cats knocking stuff off shelves and counters and breaking them.
– Anything small object that cats can bat around, they will bat around until the object is inaccessible to, and at a minimum hidden from me. Dammit where are those ear buds?!
– Having to fire the housekeeper because I’m afraid of her squashing the cats when she moves furniture that I’ve asked her a million times not to move.

For the past two weeks, I’ve not had a lot of sleep. I’m constantly cleaning. I’ve put in a cat door into the laundry room where the litter box is. I’ve had to break off the flap from the cat door because the cats are afraid of it and won’t use it with the flap closed. I’ve had very little time to just relax, and have some moments to myself to just chill.

I’ll tell you what though, one by one I’m figure out how to either accept or fix each of these problems. The cat door is working as long as I keep the laundry room door closed. The cats no longer eat dog diarrhea because there isn’t any. I can’t keep the cats from playing, but I can use earplugs. I’m keeping breakable stuff off the shelves, or just accepting that things I need to leave on the shelves may just get broken. I keep small objects, especially valuable ones, in places where the cats can’t get to them. And as inefficient as I am at cleaning the house, I’m learning, becoming more efficient, and I’m saving money for the huge vet bills to come.

So what does this all have to do with winding roads? Well, I could have gotten another dog, but I wanted cats. I know how to take care of a dog, and I know that with the way I was living my life a few short months ago, I would be able to take care of another dog. I may still get another dog. But the cats are transforming my life. I’m not as lazy, I’m always moving, my home is better organized. And those free moments that I spoke of I sure do appreciate more when I have them.

I had a few free hours yesterday afternoon, so I got on my motorcycle and rode over to a friends house for a ride to Middleburg. My friend asked the perfect question. “Are you looking to just get there, or to have fun along the way?” Every person who rides a motorcycle knows the answer to this question. Take the winding road. The one that is unexplored, or the one where I can test my skills. We could have taken the highway almost all the way there, but we didn’t. In fact, we never even made it to Middleburg. We stopped to eat, and then headed back home. On the trip back I was following my friend, and there were many signs to get back onto the highway, but we just drove straight on by and took the next curve.

For me, life is not about the straight line that takes me to where everyone, including myself, will eventually go. It’s about zig-zagging and winding around the straight line, pushing myself to become a stronger, smarter, and skillful human being. It’s about learning that it’s not always about my comfort. Sometimes it’s about the challenge of learning how to better take care of myself, so I have more time to be with and take care of the ones I love. It’s not about learning how to predict what is in front of me. It’s about becoming the man who can better handle whatever is around the next bend.

Challenge which educates us, and changes our actions for the better is growth. Growth that makes us better capable of handling the next challenge is evolution. Some people can live in a box all their lives and be perfectly happy. But those who choose to push their boundaries, cause the human race to evolve. Either of these paths is a personal choice. I choose the winding road.

By the way, I’ve not had a single asthma attack since I’ve had these cats. I guess my body has evolved as well.

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Kids?

This is my first posting. I’m so excited. I realized this morning that a very few of my friends and family are not on Facebook, or are not my “friends” on Facebook. This is the perfect way to share what I am writing with everyone I know.

For my first post, I’d like to talk about kids. Sometimes I regret not having any, but then I realize that there’s probably a reason for that, and I may even be able to take a gander as to what that reason is.

When I wanted to have kids, I mean really wanted them, I wasn’t mature enough for them. It was all about me, and the women who I met, who would want a long term relationship probably noticed that, and would probably not want to commit to anything long term. I lacked the confidence they were looking for, and who could blame them for not wanting to be with a man who didn’t believe in himself.

I had to grow that confidence. I had to slowly build that maturity. I remember about 14 years ago when I killed a Chia Pet out of neglect and thought I was doomed to solitude for the rest of my life. But then a friend gave me a peace lily, a very hard to kill plant, and I watched it grow. I watered it, I gave it exactly the amount of sunlight it needed, and it grew. Not a great accomplishment considering the heartiness of this plant, but still, some confidence was born.

When I moved to my new home in Sterling, the peace lily died. I tried to keep it alive, but my new home just didn’t have enough light to sustain it. It was about that time that I rescued a dog. I had to! Her name was Jamaica, and her add said, “Woof mon! Bark mon! Take me home mon!”. So I did. I took her home. She is still with me today, 11 years old, happy, active, and for the most part healthy. Lately she has been having some balance problems, and a year ago her spleen needed to be removed on an emergency basis because it had filled with blood, and was about to rupture. But she doesn’t know that she isn’t as healthy as she used to be. She still has a light in her eyes when I pick her up from dog daycare, or when I come home after being out for a few hours. She still greets me, still wags her tail, and every once in a while, when, I’m taking her for a walk, she starts prancing, and turns to look up at me, and I swear she is smiling.

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A few months ago, my neighbor dragged me to a nursery to by some plants. I decided to buy another peace lily, and some petunias for outside. Why? Well, I wanted to give the peace lily another try, because I thought I might have figured out why the last plant stopped growing and then died. The petunias seemed to required the correct light for what the outside of my home had to offer, but really I knew nothing about them. I asked the salesperson at the nursery what type of soil I should buy, how much water I should give them, and whether or not I should use fertilizer. She gave me all of the information, and I did exactly what she said to do. At first, they thrived. So much that I had to replant some of them in a second pot. But then they started to die, and I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. So again I asked for some help from some friends and family. They told me I needed to pluck off the dead flowers, and two more would grow in each flower’s place. So I started to do this, and here is the result.

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The Peace Lily also thrived, so I decided to buy a second plant. A nerve plant is what it’s called. Also very hearty. It began to grow so quickly that I had to replant it in a bigger container within a week. Now it’s stretching the boundaries of that container, so it’s time to get a bigger one.

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Then Seri the cat became a part of my life. Seri was my first cat, and I had no idea what I was doing. She disappeared for 3 days, and I wasn’t seeing anything in her litter box. I asked for help, and most people just said to relax and that she will be fine, but when I find her to confine her to a room until she get’s comfortable with the dog and with me. She did turn up, and I did what I was told, and now I have a happy cat.

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After about 2 weeks, I decided Seri needed a playmate. So Bene the kitten entered our lives. I didn’t make the same mistakes I made before. I did what people told me to do. I didn’t worry that the cats were hissing at each other, or that Bene was terrified of the dog. Jamaica was showing no aggression towards either cat, so I simply kept introducing her slowly to Bene, and I would slowly let the cats spend time together in my bedroom unsupervised since they weren’t killing each other.

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Then one day I walked into the room after leaving them alone for a couple of hours to find them rolling around on the bed like they were one big fur ball. They chased each other around the room, jumped on each other; they were playing! I brought the dog in, and although Bene was obviously still scared, he was also batting at the dogs tail and chasing her around. Now if he finishes eating before Jamaica does, he will go down and sit next to her, and growl at her to try to get more food. All 2 pounds of him growling at my 45 pound dog.

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Then I found out the Peace Lily was toxic to cats. My neighbor took it off my hands and I purchased an Ardie, which is perfectly safe.

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I started thinking about why people have kids. Of course some of it is to make sure the human race continues forward, or to carry on the traditions or customs of the family, or the family name. But for me it would mostly be about being able to take care of something. It would be about making mistakes and learning from them. It would be about watching them grow, and thrive, be happy. It would be about knowing that I had something to do with that happiness.

So I guess I do have kids. They just aren’t human, but in a way, they will teach me and have taught me and offered me even more. In the case of Jamaica, I’ve become so much stronger, being able to nurture her through her struggles and illness. When it’s finally her time, and I truly hope that isn’t any time soon, I will know that she lived a happy, fulfilling life, and not because I did everything right, but because I did the best I could possibly do for her and loved her so much. I plan to do this with all of my kids, whether or not I ever have human ones, and at least for me, that is what being a parent is all about.

By the way, just in case you haven’t noticed it, there’s a lot of metaphor here. Possibly the biggest lesson I’ve learned here is that nothing grows in the dark, including me. When I first moved to Sterling, I isolated a lot. I got the dog, and that got me outside, but at home, I was deeply depressed and lonely. The Peace Lily died, and I couldn’t figure out why. After being here a little while though, I started to become more active. I got to know my neighbors, I would speak to them outside when we would be taking our dogs for walks, and I began to feel comfortable in my new home. So if you haven’t guessed it yet, I did one, very simple thing that allowed the plants which are currently in my home to survive. It took me about 7 1/2 years to figure this out, and finally decide to get more plants. What did I do? I pulled back the curtains, I opened the blinds, I let in the sunlight.

Nothing grows in isolation. We all need to love and to be loved. We teach each other, we learn from each other, and together we thrive. Today I have a zoo in my home, but I occasionally call it my family. I let the outside world into my home, and in turn I explore it. Today I have grown up just a little bit, and there is nothing I can’t do.