Let’s Abolish Mondays

Mondays can be rough no matter what. It’s hard to get going again after a weekend. My Mondays are even more sketchy because I have therapy sessions on Monday mornings. Depending on the type of session, I can find myself mentally exhausted before noon on a day when I typically have a ton to do. So, my Monday looked like this today, Dropped Thing 2 at school at 7:45. Drove the 20 miles home. Did a training session with the puppy. Showered. Drove 22 miles back to the city for therapy and did some tough, emotionally draining work there for an hour. Ran to the liquor store for beverages for a party we’re hosting on Thursday. Stopped by the bank. Drove to two stores to knock off some holiday shopping. Made it home by 2. Ate a little lunch, wrapped a couple gifts, and did some laundry. Left at 3 to pick up some items at a store before collecting Thing 2 at 4:15. I arrived home at 5, just in time to let the dog out and greet hubby who picked up takeout for dinner. The rest of my night has been a blur because I am spent, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I could have fallen asleep at the dinner table, but I powered through.

Steve and I were discussing tonight that the work weeks in the United States are insane. No one needs to be working 40+ hours per week. Wouldn’t we be a much better, healthier, happier, more relaxed, less bitter and homicidal nation if we worked 32 hour weeks and had a day off mid-week instead of just having two days on a weekend? I mean, I know it’s better now than it was back in the mid-1800s when people had to cut lumber to build their own homes and then dig their own wells and grow all their own food. I get it. We’re pretty cushy with our air fryer ovens and indoor plumbing and all, but it’s all what you’re used to. Our lives go at six million miles an hour these days, and it is taxing. It’s no wonder we live for Fridays and want to run away on Mondays. We are inundated with information and news and bombarded with ads and requests for our attention. And, in the midst of all of this, we try to maintain relationships and households. It’s no wonder pioneer folks had their kids working by age 6. They couldn’t do it all without help either.

I think my corgi puppy, Loki, summed Mondays up best when I tried to capture his photo this morning:

Monday mood

Adulting is hard.

When The Words Don’t Come But Growth Does

What I have managed to accomplish while my brain has been on hiatus

The past week has been a blur. It seems my head hasn’t had the bandwidth for writing blogs or even thinking, really. I’m overwhelmed. Somewhere between the continuing pandemic, the transitions happening in our family, the addition of a furry ball of love with four short legs and sharpy teeth, and the annual stresses of the holiday season, I find myself a little out of sorts. I think I need a long winter’s nap or a two-week, solo, all-expenses-paid vacation to Bora Bora so I have time for my brain to snap back into place.

If there is good news about any of this, it’s that despite all the craziness I am finally at a place in my life where I know it’s okay to be off. I know I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to be cranking out insightful, meaningful pieces daily. I’m allowed to struggle on occasion, to not know what I am thinking, to take a mental break to deal with the business of life and put up a Christmas tree and drive my son to the airport. The last time I wrote my blog every day, I did not acknowledge these things. I made apologies for what I felt was sloppy work. I’m not about that anymore. I’m not here now saying mea culpa to you. I’m here letting you know where my head is right now. I’m telling you that I care about writing, but I also care about honoring my mental and personal space. So this means I am making personal progress and achieving growth. Yay, me.

I even took time to dress my puppy for a photo

Sometimes we have to make compromises in life. Lately, the compromise I’ve been making is less time to write so I can take care of my family and myself. I’m hoping to have some space in my life and my head soon so I can go back to writing about things that make me passionate. For now, though, enjoy the photo of my cute puppers in a holiday bandana because sometimes a post with a photo of a corgi puppy in front of a Christmas tree is the only good we need in the world.

The Dog And The Bell And The Butler

Beware of smart dogs

House training a puppy is a lot of work. Loki is 11 weeks old. It feels like we are letting him outside constantly, but he still has a couple accidents a day. I know it is going to take time. We’re trying to be consistent as possible. Honestly, we’re just grateful he sleeps from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. without asking to go out. He is a good boy. And so very handsome. Still, I’ve been reading advice online to determine if I can help the house training process along because, as darling as kids are when they are young and energetic and funny as they experience the world through fresh eyes, every parent just wants to stop talking about pee and poop all day long.

In more than one place, I’ve seen it suggested that you attach bells to your doors to house train your dog. When you take them out, you ring the bell and then when they go potty outside you praise them like crazy. Supposedly, this teaches the puppy to associate the bell with needing to potty outside. Eventually, at some point your dog learns to ring the bell when they want to go out. It’s all very Pavlovian.

I haven’t decided how I feel about this. On the one hand, many people have said it works well, so it might be worth trying. On the other hand, I have to say that with a dog as smart as a corgi is (and man…he is smart), I fear Loki will learn that when he rings the bell, I come running. So, maybe he does learn to ring the bell to go outside, and my house training problem is solved. But then he starts ringing the bell all the time, and I become his butler, running in every time he summons me. Then I have a different problem. I’m conditioned. He’s become Pavlov, and I’ve become the dog.

I might just give him a couple more months grace period on this, time for his tiny bladder to grow while I learn to be more consistent taking him outside. That way he can remain the dog in this scenario, and I don’t start running to open a door every time a bell rings.

Playing With The Big Dogs Now

Loki and Teddy – fence friends

Our sweet puppy, Loki, is not-quite-so-little-anymore. He’s 11 weeks old now and has gained almost four pounds since his Fetcha Day four weeks ago. His front paws seem huge, his eyes are darker, and his markings are becoming more pronounced, He has met our neighbor dogs to the south, a golden retriever named Sawyer and his buddy Teddy, a yellow lab. He has zero fear of these dogs who are about 75 pounds heavier than he is. He stands at the fence on his hind legs with his nose to his new friends. He can’t wait to play with them. The neighbor dogs to our north, a Wheaton terrier named Finn and a chocolate-colored schnauzer named Chewie, Loki is not so sure about. They scared him the other day by sneaking up to the fence and barking at him while he was peeing. Loki stopped mid-stream and tore off towards our front door, not looking back but barking complaints the entire way.

Today was Loki’s first opportunity for play time with other dogs. We’d been waiting to take him until we were certain his vaccinations were on track. At his first visit to his new vet on Thursday, he got the necessary shots so we enrolled him in an hour long Playful Pup socialization class in Denver. When we arrived, there was already one dog there, a much larger mixed breed named Vaquita. Not long after we entered, a cattle dog mix named Pablo arrived. There were just three dogs in class today, and six nervous parents hoping their fur babies would play nice. The other dogs dwarfed Loki, but it was obvious from the start that Loki was the least fearful.

Loki and Pablo playing

The dog trainer allowed the two larger, more fearful dogs to meet and figure out their dynamics first, while Loki watched from a safe distance behind a wire gate. Pablo and Vaquita were tense around each other. Their hackles were slightly raised and there was some doggy trash talking and flashing of pearly whites. Steve and I stood there wondering what the hell we had gotten our little guy into. After a while, Pablo and Vaquita began taking breaks from their interactions. The trainer had assessed that Pablo would be a better first meet-up for Loki, so Pablo was allowed into the gated area with Loki. Loki was eager to see what this bigger dog was all about, and Pablo was eager to prove he was the bigger dog. The early doggy tussles had Pablo in the lead, but as the minutes wore on we began to see Loki figuring out how to use his diminutive size to his advantage in play. Pablo and Loki played amicably but vigorously for about 10 minutes until both of them were dog tired. When Vaquita was reintroduced into the mixture, Pablo became protective of Loki. He clearly liked his new playmate and was not keen to share. Loki, for his part, seemed like he could use a nap. Vaquita got a bit aggressive with our tired pup, and Loki did something we hadn’t seen him do before. He scrunched up his puppy nose and bared those piranha teeth to let Vaquita know he was D-O-N-E. The trainer told us Loki had done a great job at his first play date and had earned some rest. So, we said our goodbyes and took our baby home.

Loki don’t play that

I have to hand it to the trainer. She had her hands full today with two larger, more fearful puppies and one tiny, scrappy guy who had been itching for a play opportunity. She didn’t just carefully monitor the puppy language; she also watched the anxious parents who were simultaneously fearful for their babies and fearful their babies might hurt someone else’s baby. She took care of all nine of us without blinking an eye. And I left Loki’s first puppy class feeling both proud of Loki for being a typical, assertive Corgi despite his size and proud of Steve and I for not freaking out when the bigger dogs got a little riled up around our 9 pound boy.

All in all, the day was a great success. We’d started Loki on the path to being a good dog citizen and we’d learned to relax a little about dog interactions ourselves. It’s hard for people who are conflict averse to watch discord, even puppy discord, without feeling uncomfortable. I think we learned as much today as Loki did. And we’re ready to sign him up for another socialization session, which means all three of us grew today and will grow more soon.

Our good boy

When You Know You’re Gonna Have A Good Day

“I woke up this morning and I said, you know, instead of waiting on a good day, waiting around through ups and downs, waiting on something to happen, we’re gonna have a good day.” ~Nappy Roots

I love a fall Saturday filled with activities with my favorite people. To make the day even sunnier, we brought the puppers along for a full day of adventure and socialization. He loves the peoples, and the peoples love him.

Most photogenic member of our family…all six pounds of him

We started the day with a cross-country meet at 9 am. It was a perfect morning for a run. Well, it was a perfect morning for someone to run, just not me. I don’t do that yet. Still, it was just 60 degrees, so Luke knocked 1:16 off his previous race time. After the race we hurried home by 10, and were off again at 11 a.m. so Luke could go to his first college interview of the day downtown at noon.

Finding Luke is like playing Where’s Waldo

While he was interviewing with Whitman College, we got some tasty coffee at Blue Sparrow in the RiNo (River North) section of Denver.

Oat milk vanilla latte…yes, please

Joe, who was in town for just three days, got to spend some quality time with our new little friend. He is threatening to take him back to Washington. I think not. Still, it was a beautiful day for relaxing on a green space while waiting for Luke.

Loki is the most popular member of our family

When Luke finished, we ordered sandwiches from Snarf’s and headed towards his second college interview of the day in Englewood. Luke spent time chatting with a representative from St. Olaf while his immature mother snapped this photo because she is, in all actuality, a 12 year old boy.

I can be a little cheeky sometimes too

Loki got interested in a water feature, until he realized water is wet. He then moved on to being Chief Leaf Inspector, which he preferred greatly. He inspects them with his mouth because that is how puppies operate without the aid of opposable thumbs.

We finally headed for home around 3 p.m. We had invited some of our favorite people on earth to dinner (Joe’s best friend and his parents, who are some of our favorite friends as well), so we had to get cooking. Literally. I set a casual, fall-themed table for 8. It’s nice to be able to hang out with people indoors again.

While Steve and I finished preparing the brisket and baked potatoes, the boys played corn hole. This was quite generous of Luke because he does not like this as much as Joe does. But he acquiesced because he won’t see his sibling again until Thanksgiving.

Brother time

And so we had a pleasant meal with our friends, putting a perfect exclamation point at the end of a long, but fun day. The puppy was worn out, our older dog relished the attention of our guests, the boys cracked each other up, and dinner turned out great.

Sometimes, it’s worth getting up at 6:45 on a Saturday. Life’s what you make of it.

You’ve got only one life to live. You can either make it chickenshit or chicken salad.” ~Cousins (1989) 

Puppies And Toddlers…Basically The Same Experience

It’s been a while since I cared for a young child. Tonight, though, I was reminded of that long since past experience courtesy of our newest family member.

We decided to try the puppy on a short walk not long after dark. He has made it most of the way around our block on leash once already, so we figured it would be good to try again. I should have known our endeavor would not go as well this time because, as I was working to put his harness on, he wrestled and squirmed like a toddler recognizing that his pajamas mean bedtime is imminent. Once we had him outfitted for the walk, we went out the front door and he sat down, bit the leash, and refused to move. Undeterred, I picked him up and walked him down to our yard, where he walked into the grass, and threw himself down in a pouty, dramatic sploot, belly down with feet splayed out behind him, chin on the ground. Still, I thought since Ruby was walking ahead of him, he might perk up so I picked him up and walked on. Along the way, I several times tried again to see if he would follow Ruby’s lead and walk. Each time, he dramatically flung himself onto the grass in a petulant, defiant show of stubbornness. I gave up and carried him the rest of the way so at least Ruby would enjoy the walk.

One of Loki’s corgi toddler tantrums

When we got close to home, Ruby and Steve went ahead. Loki started whimpering. I know that sound might mean he needed to use the grassy facilities, so I set him down in our neighbor’s yard. He walked a couple steps forward and, sure enough, started doing his business. I praised him for his effort, pulled out my iPhone so I could train the flashlight on his deposit, and waited for Steve to come back out. I was afraid if I didn’t mark the spot, we would forget where it was, and I didn’t want to leave our new neighbors (whom we just met last night) an unwelcome puppy prize. While I was waiting for Steve to return with a poop bag, I set our mail on the ground. There was a bag from J Crew. Loki amused himself by gnawing on it. He was dragging it around and as the bag got closer to his mess, I panicked. I tried to grab the bag from him and he resisted, backing up onto his fresh pile, squishing it between his little white feet. Dammit. I’d saved the bag, but now the dog would need a bath.

Oh…the indignity

Steve put the dog in the utility sink while I dug around for the mildest soap I could find. I knew we didn’t have any puppy soap, so I settled for a mild castille soap since we would targeting his feet. It was only his second bath and we quickly discovered bathing is not his favorite. We got his feet washed, both of us working to get the wriggling ball of fur through the ordeal as quickly as possible. We wrapped him in a towel, and tried to dry him as best as we could. He flipped and flopped and gnawed at the towel, little puppy growls of annoyance coming from underneath as if he was cursing us, which he probably was.

When we’d decided he was dry enough, we set him loose. Clean, invigorated, and freed from his unpleasant experience, he started running around the laundry room with increased fervor. He’d gotten his second wind. He went straight for the door stopper, bit at it several times, and barked at it for mocking him. Then he turned around and started chewing on my shirt. It seemed like it might be witching hour and I was out of energy for this, so off to puppy jail he went. Once inside his pen, he crawled up onto his new bed, collapsed, dropped his chin onto the edge, and began to close his eyes. He was done. And so were we. All three off us exhausted and ready for sleep.

Then Ruby pushed her stuffed candy corn toy at me. The rest of us might be out of energy, but this one isn’t. I can’t remember how I survived these nights when our sons were 2 and 4. Earlier today, those days would have seemed like a million years ago. After tonight, they feel like yesterday.

Fetcha Day

Today was Fetcha Day for our new furry baby. After spending the night in Vernal, Utah, we drove into Duchesne and met the breeder at 9 am. She was wonderful, and Loki (whose full AKC name shall be Happy Go Loki Seven) was perfect from the get go. He played with a kitten, ran around the grass, and then settled into our arms like he had always belonged with us.

The drive from Duchesne to our house is approximately seven hours, and with a new pup we wanted to get home as quickly as possible. Along the way, we stopped several times at parks to let Loki use the grassy facilities and stretch his three-inch long corgi legs. By the time we hit Interstate 70, a point where we should have been a little over three hours from home, traffic came to a dead stop and then proceeded at a snail’s pace. That was about 1:30 pm. We got home at 7:30 pm. You do the math. At least it was a gorgeous Colorado fall day with plenty of color on the mountains to make the sluggish day bearable.

Loki could not have been a better travel companion, all five pounds of him. He did all his dirty business on the stops we made and never in the car. He missed his dinner time, but never whined about it. He entered his new kennel on his own and took several naps in there unprompted. And he tolerated ten hours in a car like a seasoned pro. He is a puppy to be sure, all sharpy teeth and nails, but he loves people and could not have a sweeter disposition. I can tell he is going to give us a run for our money, though, because he is smart. He has already proven he learns quickly. We are going to have to be careful because he is sure to pick up bad habits as quickly as good ones if we are not.

When we got home, we had a plan to slowly and respectfully introduce Ruby to the new brother she did not request. We had Luke walk her before we came home to get her in a calmer mental space. We let Loki run around the yard as soon as we arrived and then we put him in his small kennel, carried him in, and set him where Ruby could see him. She came close to investigate, clearly was not thrilled, but walked away without a snarl or as much attitude as I had expected. Then we left the puppy with Luke and took her for another walk. We are going to work to keep them separate by keeping Loki in his pen or crate when he is around her and not allowing him to play around her until Ruby is ready to accept her new roommate. It might take a couple weeks, but I think our slow approach will work. Fingers crossed.

We are all exhausted now after a long day, so it’s time to settle in for the night. So far so good with the puppy, the doggy introduction, and an only mildly sassy Ruby. Life is better with a furry dog friend or two.

Puppies Can Cure Almost Anything

It has been a day. I’ve been all over the place mentally. So, rather than try to form coherent sentences, I shall just share this video with you of our future furry family member. Try not to die from the cuteness of six, five-week old corgi puppies running outside for the first time. When the world is going to hell, puppies still have the ability to make things better, even if temporarily.

A group of corgis is called a consort. After seeing this video, though, I’m thinking maybe it’s a chaos of corgis.

You’re welcome.

The Next Step Is A Doozy

“You don’t need to take all of the steps. Only the next one.”

For thirteen years, we’ve lived with a beautiful, anxious, determined, crazy, personality-plus border collie. We have adored her 95% of the time. The other 5% of the time we were wondering what planet she came from and pondering how to deal with her quirks. Dogs are something else. They are furry animals. Animals. And you let them live in your home and sleep in your bedroom. You buy them food and put them on ropes and walk them around outside. You travel with them. They become part of your people family, but they are still animals at the end of the day. Short-lived animals at that. It took us about ten years to understand our border collie, and now we’re on the precipice of losing our sweet baby girl. It’s been a rewarding (and now heartbreaking) journey.

We’ve never had one day in our home without a dog, so when we learned Ruby is losing kidney function we decided it was time to get a second dog that at some point will become our only dog. This is how Ruby came to us. Buddy was our senior dog who began having seizures and other problems. We saw his suffering and knew he wasn’t long for this world, so we selfishly got a puppy to ease our sadness around his transition. A funny thing happened when Ruby came along, though. Buddy (who Luke said was “on death’s doorstep”) suddenly perked up. He initially wasn’t thrilled to have Ruby around, but soon enough they settled into an arrangement. As time went on, Buddy became a bit more active. He played. It’s as if he saw the new dog and said to us, “Hey, hey, hey. I see what you’re doing here. Not so fast. I’m not done yet.” Luke said Buddy “must have drank from the Holy Grail” because he lived a year beyond the seizure we thought would be his end. I suppose now we are thinking that a new puppy might also give Ruby a new leash on life in her final months.

So today we did a thing. We made a commitment to purchase our next, greatest furry family member. Not a replacement for Ruby, as there will never be another dog like her, but a successor. We will be getting a BHT (black-headed tri-color) Corgi from an AKC breeder in Utah before the end of September. When we pick him up, he will be 8 weeks old. He will have been socialized with his five littermates and the breeder’s children, other dogs and pets, and farm animals. He will be cute but he will not look like the dog he will eventually become. He will be an energetic, active, ball of shedding fluff that will keep us awake at night for a while and keep us on our toes for years. We don’t know who this new family member will be or what role he will fill in our family unit, but we know he will bring new life into our home and shake us up. It’s scary, but it’s also exciting as hell. It’a a big commitment, but our kids are grown and we’re ready to experience some youthful energy again.

So, without further ado, meet our future family member, Loki.

He has a seven on his head, so we’re thinking he will be Loki Seven.