I broke my dog

Anyone who knows my dog will tell you that Juliette is incredibly sweet. They’ll also tell you that she’s a bit jumpy. We rescued her at six months old from a local humane society. In that short time she’d already suffered abuse and been slightly traumatized by it. Guys make her nervous. As do screaming, running kids (yes, we’ll have some issues to contend with as Devin grows up and has more friends over).

Surprisingly, though, my little nervous dog is not afraid of fireworks. Or any loudish noise of that type.

Well, she wasn’t until my little faux paus.

The nightly routine is that we let her out for her last potty break between 9:00 and 10:00. That gives us a good window so she won’t wake us up at some ungodly hour. So on the Fourth, we followed the same procedure. The banging was just beginning in our neighborhood, but I wasn’t concerned. I escorted her onto the deck and watched her make her way down the stairs to the grass. I planned to stand there and wait for her, but decided to go back inside and take care of a few things. Those few things ended up taking a while. And I completely forgot about her.

That’s usually not a problem. In fact, I often get distracted and she simply barks to let me know she’s ready to come in.

I heard no bark that night.

About 20 minutes after I let her out, I walked back through the kitchen and saw the light on in the yard. Ooops! So I went to the door and called for her. No tinkling dog tags or scampering canine greeted me. No noise but the boom-boom-boom of the fireworks. I looked around the house, thinking I might have let her in and blanked on the whole thing. She wasn’t anywhere.

Panic set in.

I turned on another light in the yard and saw no sign of her. I went outside and ran around yelling, “Juliette! Juliette!” Nothing. She was not in the yard. NOT IN THE YARD.

We have two gates that lead into our fenced-in backyard. Two locked gates. And a 6-foot tall fence. On top of that, you can leave a gate wide open and hang out in the front yard and she won’t come out without being summoned. (Well, I wouldn’t try it with a squirrel in the vicinity.)

And now my dog was mysteriously AWOL. I realized at this point that the barrage of light and noise must have infiltrated her senses and freaked her out. She wasn’t impervious after all. But where the hell was my dog?

As I tend to do, I sprinted for my husband with tears on my cheeks. “Juliette’s gone! She’s gone!” He grabbed his shoes and I ran willy-nilly through the house, choking back sobs and trying not to wake up my kid (who was sleeping through the explosions anyway).

I opened the front door to scan the street and there I found her. Huddled on our front porch. Pressed up against the door with her ears down and her tail between her legs. My poor, poor dog. I yanked the door open and she shot in and cowered at my feet. She’d somehow managed to squeeze through a broken slat on the back gate and escape from the yard.

I ran back to Scott, who was heading up the stairs. “I found her!”

“Of course you did.”

“She was at the front door.”

“I told you she was here.”

“No, she was outside of the front door. On the porch.”

“Oh.” (Trying to process how she accomplished her escape from the backyard.)

“I broke her!”

He shook his head and dismissed my drama. But I’ve had this dog for five years of fireworks. Five years of ignoring all the brouhaha and not twitching an ear at the bangs, booms and ka-booms. And here she was, velcroed to my leg, following me desperately from room to room, crouched next to the bed in fear as I laid down to sleep.

Even last night, a silent evening with only the chirp of the birds and the laughter of the kids in the next yard over, she protested when I let her out for the evening. I had to coax her into the yard and sit with her until she went.

I broke my dog, damn it!

She won’t be happy

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Whenever we take a trip, this one always gives me the brush-off upon our return. Like she’s telling me, “You know I hate it when you do that.” We’ll only be gone for a shade over 48 hours. And Aunt Laurel, the world’s greatest cat sitter, will be checking in on them. Still, she’ll resent me for it. But only for about five minutes.

Note to self

It was probably not a good idea to throw the empty mini-marshmallow bag into the trash basket under the desk after you guiltily munched on the last three handfuls while working on a project. Especially when the bag contained some sticky bits that adhered to the inside. Especially when you have a crazy cat that, for some very odd reason, has a marshmallow fetish and feels the need to come in four nights in a row, knock over said trash basket, and frenetically lick the inside of the plastic in her attempt to suck every last morsel of marshmallow off of it. Especially when you have a dog that will, while you’re toiling at your client, trot upstairs and snatch the bag that was, after each cat attack, placed back into the trash basket, then jump up on your bed (where she IS NOT ALLOWED), and proceed to shred the bag into teeny-tiny sticky pieces all over your duvet cover.

The agony of defeat

I took the canine over to the park for a quick sniff around before hitting the sidewalks for a longer walk. She checked out her usual spots and I followed her around the snowy inclines. Then I noticed that she’d stumbled across something semi-exciting. She was sniffing like crazy, then she picked it up in her mouth and began to trot around happily. A nice, flat piece of rawhide that every other dog in traveling through had somehow overlooked.

She was psyched!

My problem was that she also thought I was going to take it from her. As a result, she ran away from me every time I got close. It took me several minutes to get close enough to get the leash on her. I guess she somehow believed that I wouldn’t snatch away her prize, which she had gripped firmly in her teeth.

As we left the park, I swear she was bouncing along. So happy. So thrilled. So joyful. (Just like Joy skipping along the street, Michelle and Stacy!) My dog who stops every ten feet to sniff something was trotting at a nice speed, intent on not stopping for anything.

I imagine the refrain in her head going something like this, “Let’s go home. Let’s go home. Let’s go home so I can chew my rawhide.”

Unfortunately for her, I had every intention of getting in whatever form of exercise I could today (jeans are tight, ya know). So she kept a tight grip on the rawhide, and we walked.

At one intersection, as we the walk sign switched in our favor, I began a quick little jog across the street, towing her along. But she was resisting. “Juliette!” I growled at her. Crossing a semi-busy intersection ain’t no time to be lagging behind. So I pulled her across with me with a slight glare. That’s when I noticed what had happened. She’d dropped her treasure!

The poor thing. I really hadn’t imagined that she’d let go of it. And now that we were across and traffic was flowing, I wasn’t about to turn around. I did my best to ease her sorrow by flipping her a few treats from my pocket as we finished up our walk.

Then I did what any loving dog mommy would do: I presented her with a rawhide from our stash when we got home.

Beware of flying cat!

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Looks innocent enough, doesn’t she?

The kiddo went wee-wee (or pee-pee or whatever anyone wants to call it) on the toilet at daycare the other day. For the first time. Major milestone. And he’s been increasingly concerned with his bodily functions in the past few days, repeatedly pointing out when his nose is stuffed or when he’s gone poo-poo.

Encouraged by his new forays into toilethood, I decided to gear up the potty training here at home. During a diaper change this afternoon, I asked him if he wanted to sit on his potty. He practically ran in there he was so excited.

I picked him up so I could pull the potty out into a good spot and open up the lid. As I bent down to grab the lid, a furball rocketed around the corner and into the bathroom — and smashed right into my forehead. Before either of us figured out what happened (although I’m sure she STILL has no idea), Lucy had ricocheted off of my now-throbbing eyebrow and scampered back down the stairs from whence she came.

I had tears in my eyes it hurt so bad.

Dev was just staring at me with incomprehension. I positioned him on the potty, then put my hand up to my eyebrow to assess the damage. Lucy had actually bonked me so hard that I now have a small bruise. I bet she does too because she also rammed into the edge of my glasses while she was at it, nearly knocking them off my head.

There IS an explanation. My cat isn’t totally psychotic. What she was after was a drink of water. She and Maggie both stalk me occasionally, hoping I’ll turn on the faucet in the bathroom so they can drink from it for a bit. She’d heard me go into the bathroom and immediately turned off all of her other senses. She’d hit me mid-leap to her normal spot on the bathroom counter, poor confused cat.

It’s hilarious in retrospect, as most things are. But it’s most funny because who, besides me, can say that a cat plowed into their forehead at 15 mph while they were bent over putting their kid on the potty? Not a soul, I bet!

Made you look!

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Juliette came to us at nearly six months old. She was found with a broken leg, which the foster family had mended up nicely so she was none the worse for wear. But we knew right away from her demeanor that she’d been through a tough first few months. Men terrified her (still do to a point) and sudden gestures with your hands or arms sent her scampering. We deduced, as the foster family had, that she’d been beaten in some way.

Even more than the jumpiness and the wary approach to men, she’s super submissive. Although she’s totally loving and sweet, she won’t look you in the eye. Any photos I take of her are usually in profile, or slightly head-on with her eyes averted. I even took her to our trainer to attempt to work on this through clicker training, but neither Juli or I persevered, so she just continues to avoid eye contact.

As I was photographing Devin today, I did my usual coaxing to her. “Hey, Juliette! Yoo-hoo!” Nothing. She just presented me with her profile. Then I tried a new one, “Treat!” Wham! Her head whipped around and she fixed me with a direct gaze (and those BIG ears). I got this shot. I tried it a few more times and it worked like a charm. Funny that it took me this long to figure that out. Funnier still that her desire for a biscuit overcomes all of her submission that easily. Silly girl.

Now three members of our family have allergies

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Our dear canine has been scratching, biting and licking herself crazily over the past couple of weeks. Today it was confirmed by our vet. Allergies.

Well, I’m certainly glad it’s not fleas. But dog allergies aren’t as simple to treat as the type of allergies I have. With mine, I can just snort some wonderful medicine up my nose each night and…ta-dah!

For my beloved dog, we have to begin a series of twice-weekly baths with a special shampoo. And THEN we have to add the pills — two pills, twice a day. Oh, what fun. She doesn’t take all that kindly to pills. Last time we had to give her medication, she went to great lengths to avoid it, even when administered with the ever-popular peanut butter. (Although giving pills to my cat was much, much, much worse. MUCH.)

At least she’s healthy otherwise. She got a glowing report in all other areas. Now we just have to schedule these baths into our already time-challenged routine. I just have my fingers crossed that this treatment works so the poor girl can enjoy some measure of comfort.

Sweet cheeks

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Backyard garden art

I’m either a bad kid parent or a bad dog parent.

As Juliette and I were strolling down the street today, I realized that I’m now calling her by the little nicknames I’ve collected for Devin.

He’s my…peanut, pumpkin, sweetie, goober boy, bud-bud, and many more that just slip out and become regulars. And today, Juliette was also my peanut. Dogs just don’t seem as peanut-y as little boys do, do they? Sadly, I recalled at that moment that I’d also called her “sweet cheeks” a few days before. Dogs definitely do not get called sweet cheeks very often. They don’t even have cheeks! What was I thinking?