Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Getting Spayed

Well, today is the big day.  I dropped Margot off at the vet a little after 8:00 a.m. this morning to be spayed. I know this is a routine surgery, and normally I wouldn't be so nervous, but because I know that Margot has Von Willebrand disease AND after I almost lost Lexie during her enucleation surgery because of the same disorder, I can't help but be a little anxious right now.

Cheering me up on Christmas Eve.
When I got to the office, the receptionist told me that they had cleared almost the whole afternoon for Margot's surgery.  This made me feel both comforted knowing that they are not treating her surgery as a typical, routine spaying, but it also made me a tad more anxious than I already was.  I guess knowing that Dr. Ellis is taking Margot's surgery so seriously kind of also made me realize exactly how real the possibility is that the vWD could cause complications.

I've been trying all day not to even entertain that possibility, however.  I just keep telling myself and others that I know she'll be fine, but she was supposed to go into surgery around 10:30 a.m. and it's already 12:45 p.m.....

Spent Christmas cuddling with Margot and Sam.
Whew!  No joke, just as I was typing that last paragraph, Dr. Ellis called from the Animal Care Clinic!  She said that Margot is just now waking up from anesthesia and is looking around at everyone, and she seems to be doing well.  Dr. Ellis also said that the surgery "went fine," but they "had to use three vials instead of two."  I'm not 100% certain, but I think what that means is that Margot didn't do quite as well during the surgery as they had hoped.  I know that they had to order some vials of a certain medication to have on-hand during the surgery in case Margot's blood didn't clot on its own, and from what Dr. Ellis said, it sounds like they had to use more of that medication than they had originally anticipated.  However, at least they HAD the extra vial of medication on-hand, and Margot IS currently in recovery, so I'm just not going to think about how smoothly (or not-so-smoothly) the surgery went.  What's important is that she survived it, and hopefully she will be coming home tonight.  I'm supposed to call around 4:00 p.m. to see if I'm able to bring her home.

THIS was my Christmas gift last night.  :)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Margot the Destroyer (6-Month Progress Report)

It’s hard to believe my little Margot turned 6 months-old last week!  This morning, she came into the bathroom with me for the first time since she was a tiny puppy and I used to keep her in the bathroom with me while I got ready for work.  I couldn’t resist taking a photo of her sitting on the bathroom floor like I used to back then, but when I compared her 6 week-old photo to today’s 6 month-old photo, my heart broke a little.  She’s gotten so big! 

6 weeks vs. 6 months
I know that people like to say that they wish they could keep their dogs as puppies forever, and I do agree with that sentiment somewhat, but I have to say that I also love watching Margot grow up.  I’m just so proud of her for being such a sweet and relatively behaved girl (you know, for a puppy).  The only non-toy thing she has ever chewed and/or destroyed in my house since we first brought her home was the cord to my disco ball, and she just did that within the last month.  I wasn’t paying attention because I was busy stringing some Christmas lights.  I thought Margot was chewing on one of her toys on the floor beside me, but it turned out she had gotten hold of the cord to my beloved disco ball, which I always use during my annual Christmas parties each year.  I was disappointed in her for chewing through the cord because, like I said, she’s never done that before, but of all the things she could have destroyed at least the disco ball wasn’t a huge loss.   I’m still not sure what made her decide to try chewing on a cord instead of her usual toys, though, because she has always been perfectly happy destroying her own stuff.  People may think Justin and I spoil Margot by constantly buying her chew toys and stuffed animals, but I honestly believe that’s the main reason why she’s never chewed on our shoes, furniture, or anything else in the house….besides that one darn cord. 

I will say, though, that lately Margot has been more focused on purposefully destroying her toys, especially stuffed animals and balls, rather than playing with them.  It’s like tearing apart every new toy she gets as quickly as she can is her #1 main goal.  If you give her a tennis ball, the first thing she wants to do is pull all of the fuzz off the ball with her teeth.  Then, she will work on chewing the ball with her very back teeth until she finally punctures it.  Finally, she will use her paws to hold the ball while she rips the rubber into pieces with her teeth.  She will even pick up the pieces of rubber and chew on them like they’re chewing gum, but I try to throw them all away before she starts doing that because I don’t want her to actually eat the ball or choke. 

With stuffed animals, the first thing she wants to do is find the squeaker and remove it, which is funny because she always seems so disappointed when her toy won’t squeak anymore.  Once the squeaker is removed, then it’s time to remove all of the stuffing.  When the animal is no longer stuffed, no longer squeaks, and is merely a limp piece of cloth, you’d think she’d be done, but oh no!  Not Margot the Destroyer!  At that point, she will hold the cloth between her paws and pull it apart with her teeth until my floor is covered in hundreds of little threads.  It’s a mess to clean up, and every time I pick up the carnage that was once one of Margot’s toys, she always looks at me like, “Hey!  That’s mine!” 

I recently discovered a baseball while I was getting my house ready for our Christmas party, so I decided to give it to Margot to see if she’d like it.  I thought, no way could she destroy a real baseball as quickly as she destroys her dog toys, and if nothing else it would give her something to work on for a few days.  Within just about an hour, though, Margot came running up to me with a completely bald baseball in her mouth!  I could not believe that she managed to remove the stitched leather from around the baseball’s core in such a short amount of time!

I love Margot's yawns.

As far as actually playing ball in the house goes, Margot does like for us to throw the ball for her, but she’s not very good at giving it back.  In fact, she’s pretty awful at it.  She will bring the ball back to us after we’ve thrown it, but she always stops right in front of me or Justin and just stares at us with the ball in her mouth.  If we reach for it, she backs away, as if she wants us to try and take it from her.  If we ignore her, she will bring the ball closer and sometimes even put it in our laps or touch our hands with it, but she never actually releases the ball.  As soon as we try to grab it, she turns and runs away.  If we REALLY ignore her attempts to get our attention with the ball, she will eventually release the ball either right beside us or on our laps.  However, again, if we try to grab it, she will attempt to snatch it away from us first. 

The funniest thing is whenever we are able to get the ball from Margot and throw it into another room, if the ball rolls underneath the Christmas tree, under a table or chair, or into an area that is surrounded by other things, Margot will not even try to get the ball.  Even if it is easily accessible, she will look right at it and whine, then stare at us until one of us gets the ball for her.  Sometimes it’s really funny, but sometimes it’s very frustrating, especially when we’re busy and there’s no good reason why she can’t get the ball herself.  It’s like she’s afraid to even try, which neither of us understand.

As for the Christmas party I have mentioned a few times already, we had a great time this year, as always, and Margot was a big hit with my guests.  She was very well behaved, especially around the food, although she and Sam did have to be told to stay away from the food table once or twice.  After a couple of hours of mingling with all my friends, Margot and Sam decided to just curl up on the couch together like it was a regular night at home, which melted everyone’s hearts.   In fact, at the end of the night, we all voted for partygoer superlatives, and I was tickled when one of the ballots for Cutest Couple was filled out for Sam and Margot. 

Family Portrait

Justin and I tried to get a family picture taken with the girls earlier in the evening, and while it isn’t technically the best photo (bad focus is one of my major pet peeves), I still think it’s pretty cute.  My friends were obviously holding treats behind the camera to get Margot and Sam’s attention.  Oh, and please note that Margot is now officially taller than Sam.

*sigh*  Seriously, where has the time gone?!?!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Margot's Afraid of Santa...and Rain

Screen shot from my phone of the newpaper photo of Margot and me.
Margot and I made it into the newspaper last weekend!  I took her up to the dog park last Saturday, Dec. 1, because PetSafe was hosting a celebration to mark the end of Phase I of the dog park construction and the beginning of Phase II.  “Santa Paws” was there taking pictures with all the dogs, so of course I couldn’t pass up that opportunity.  Margot definitely didn’t like the looks of Santa at first, but once he started giving her treats, she decided that he was okay after all.  

When I look at the photo from the paper, I really cannot believe how big she is now!  She’s almost as tall as Elsea (my friend, Brett’s, 2 year-old, red Dobe), although Margot’s body is still obvious that of a puppy.  She hasn’t really developed her big, barrel Dobe chest yet, and she still has a little bit of awkwardness to her gait when she runs and romps around.   In addition, Margot still isn’t barking very much, except for occasionally when she plays at the dog park.  She also barked at Justin’s parents’ cat a little bit during our visit on Thanksgiving (in a playful way), but overall, she really isn’t very vocal.  She actually chirps more than she barks.  Yes, I said “chirps.”  She makes this funny little, high-pitched sound whenever she’s really excited or while she’s playing with Sam at home.  It’s hilarious and weird, but of course I think it’s adorable.
Margot playing with Buddy at the dog park.
The biggest milestone I have to report is that Justin and I have started transitioning Margot out of her crate.  We have left her out on several occasions for various amounts of time, ranging from a quick run to the store to an entire night while we slept upstairs, and so far she has done incredibly well!  We haven’t come home or woken up to any major disasters or accidents, which is a relief.  Mostly, I think she just curls up on the couch with Sam whenever she realizes that we’re not going to be back for a while, because that’s where we usually find her when we return.   We haven’t tried leaving her out during the day while we’re at work yet, but we’ll get there eventually.  She IS still a puppy, so we don’t fully trust her not to get bored and chew through some cords or destroy something else while we’re gone, and she’s still not 100% housebroken yet.  So, we’ll probably just continue to leave her out on random occasions in the evenings and on weekends to see how she does until we feel comfortable enough to try leaving her out during a work day.  Justin always comes home for lunch, so at least if he comes home to find a mess he’ll be able to crate her for the rest of that day.  Like I said, though, it will probably be at least another week or two before we do that.

My dog's cooler than your dog.  :P
As for the dreaded housebreaking report, Margot only seems to have accidents now whenever it’s raining and she doesn’t want to go outside, or if she absolutely cannot hold it during the night.  I do feel sorry for the girls whenever I make them go outside in the rain, but Margot is simply going to have to suck it up and get used to it the same way Sam has.  This morning, it was POURING when I opened the back door to let them out.  Sam walked hesitantly out onto the deck, but Margot put on the breaks the minute she saw the rain.  She tried to run back into the house, but I literally shoved her out the door and closed the door behind her.  I then proceeded to put some clothes into the dryer and fill the girls’ food and water bowls, thinking that both Margot and Sam would probably hurry and go pee so that they could come back inside as soon as they were done.  Well, Sam was soaking wet when I let her back in.  Margot?  Not quite as wet.  She had obviously NOT gone out into the yard with Sam and just stayed huddled by the door, but I didn’t have time to take her back out.  As I was putting dishes in the dishwasher, though, Margot came in and peed right at the kitchen door!  I immediately yelled, “NO!  Margot, go pee!” and opened the back door to let her out again.  This time, she quickly ran outside because she knew she was in trouble, but I seriously doubt she used the bathroom anymore while she was out there.  Again, she probably just waited right by the door until I let her back in.  I wish there was some way I could get her used to going out in the rain by herself, because she’ll go if Justin or I stand out in the rain with her while she pees, but we’re not always able to do that (nor do we want to).  So, the housebreaking saga continues…

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Dog Park Police

I had to go into the office an hour early yesterday, so I was able to leave an hour earlier than usual and take Margot to the dog park while it was still sunny outside.  Yay!  The poor little thing was feeling rather pent up from not being able to go to the dog park for two whole days.  I decided we would walk to the dog park rather than drive because I’m trying to burn some calories these days.  I took the long way around the perimeter of Ritter Park, which is a route Margot isn’t familiar with, so she mostly kept her head down, sniffing at the ground as we walked.  As soon as we started up the hill beside the tennis courts, though, which Margot has walked several times on our way up to the dog park, it was obvious that she knew were we were headed.  She would actually turn around and look at me periodically with this funny little open-mouth smile that she does when she gets really excited, as if to say, “Do you mean it?  Are we really going to the dog park?!?”  She even picked up her pace and started letting out excited little yelps as soon as the dog park came into view.  I couldn’t help but grin.  I just love how much she loves that place.

As much as Margot and I love going to the dog park, though, I’d like to take a minute to vent about a trend that I’ve been noticing lately that bothers me.  It seems that some dog owners have been taking it upon themselves to act as the Dog Park Police whenever they come to the dog park, and it isn’t just one certain dog owner who always acts like an expert on dog behavior and training, either (although, I will admit that Dog Park Police is the nickname I have given one particular dog park patron).   I have witnessed a few incidents when certain owners have scolded or physically handled other people’s dogs or had words with other dog owners about their dog’s behavior.   

Now, in the Dog Park Police’s defense, I will say that there are some people who bring their poorly behaved and/or aggressive dogs into the dog park who do not always step in to control their dog’s behavior when necessary, and I believe that those people deserve to be scolded, especially if their dog hurts another dog or person.   I don’t have a problem with that.  What bothers me is when the Dog Park Police monitor all of the dogs, including the dogs that aren’t theirs, make comments about how each dog is behaving, and then take it upon themselves to step in whenever they feel that “a problem” MIGHT be developing, or if they simply do not like a certain dog’s behavior. 

Here is a prime example for you:  A few weeks ago, Justin and I were at the dog park, sitting at the top of the hill.  A couple was sitting on the bench close to us, watching their Australian Sheppard mix play with a group of dogs at the bottom of the hill.   A couple of Dog Park Policemen were also standing at the bottom of the hill watching the dogs play.  The Aussie mix was barking a lot at a Great Dane, to the point that her owners started calling her name from the top of the hill and telling her to settle down.   Mind you, the dog wasn’t being aggressive in any way;  she was merely barking and running around the Great Dane.  After a few minutes, we heard the Dog Park Police call this couple’s Aussie mix by name, telling her to calm down. 

When the dog continued to bark, one of the policemen actually took this couple’s dog by the collar and started walking her up the hill toward her owners, saying something like, “Your dog seems to be having some trouble.”   

The owners, who were obviously offended, replied, “Could you please let go of our dog?”

From the bottom of the hill, one of the other policemen yelled, “She’s giving the Great Dane some trouble,” and the policeman who had taken the Aussie mix by the collar added, “She keeps barking in my ear.”   (Note:  the Great Dane did not even belong to these policemen.)

The male owner of the Aussie mix replied, “She’s a herding breed.  She thinks the Great Dane is a horse.  She’s doing what she’s supposed to do.”

At that point, the one policeman let go of the Aussie’s collar and re-joined her fellow policeman at the bottom of the hill, but a minute later her partner yelled up to the owners, “It’s not the barking that concerned us.  It was the growling.” 

The female owner then repeated, “She’s a herding dog.  She is not aggressive.” 

The whole incident was, of course, witnessed by everyone else who happened to be at the dog park that day, and the tension became palpable after that exchange.   You could hear the other dog owners whispering about whom they felt was “right” in the situation, and the offended owners of the Aussie mix even made sarcastic comments about their dog’s “aggressive behavior” the rest of the time they were there.  It was just extremely uncomfortable and ruined what could have been a very pleasant afternoon watching Margot play with her dog park buddies. 

Another example:  Just this week, I watched as an aggressive dog made it difficult for one owner and her dog to even enter the gate of the dog park, and then proceeded to harass several other dogs by growling, humping, and barking.  The owner of the aggressive dog did nothing to control her dog’s behavior, but finally decided to leave when it became clear that the other dog owners were getting upset.   She put her dog on his leash, left the fenced-in dog park, and was walking down the street towards home when one of the offended owners decided to yell after her, “Way to watch your dog!  Yeah, that’s some great dog handling there!” 

Now, as I mentioned above, I have no problem with someone scolding another dog owner for not controlling their dog’s aggressive behavior.   The problem I had in this particular situation was the fact that this guy chose to wait until the owner of the aggressive dog was practically out of earshot before passive-aggressively yelling at her.  It was extremely immature and, once again, made everyone a little uncomfortable.   

Those are just a couple of several examples I could give, but I think you get the picture.  It’s just such a same that certain dog owners have managed to ruin what could be fun dog park experiences for me and possibly others.   Now, even if the owners aren’t fighting with each other, I’m still uncomfortable listening to the Dog Park Police analyze everyone else’s dogs’ behavior, as if they think they’re Cesar Milan. 

“Oh, that wasn’t an ‘I’m playing’ growl; that was an ‘I mean business’ growl.  We should probably take the stick away from that dog before he causes trouble.” 

Yesterday, the Dog Park Police decided that Margot was starting to upset a smaller dog she had been playing with because they felt she was playing a little too rough with the smaller dog.  Even though the smaller dog never showed any indication of becoming upset with Margot, and the dog’s actual owner had assured me that Margot was not playing too rough when I asked her earlier if it was okay, I decided to just bite my tongue and move Margot to another area anyway, mostly to get her away from the Dog Park Police.   Thankfully, they never really say too much about Margot’s behavior, or else I would probably turn into one of those crazy, screaming, offended dog park owners, too.   In a heartbeat.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Vote for Suvi! (Plus, an Overdue Update)

I apologize for neglecting to post any updates about Margot lately, but I have been insanely super busy over the last month or so.  On top of my regular busy schedule with trying to juggle a full-time job and also manage my photography business, I’ve recently made a pretty big decision in terms of my photography business in general, which requires a LOT of planning and preparation.  Not only am I currently redesigning my photography website from scratch, but I’m also trying to get a ton of other things ready in time for the big Bridal Expo, which is taking place at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington, WV on January 27, 2012. 

Vote for Suvi!
Before I give you an update about Margot, however, I’d actually like to ask a favor.  If you followed by previous blog about Lexie last summer, you may recall that her second eye surgery was almost completely paid for by the generous donations that we received through my blog and also through a blog that Chad Dressen so kindly posted on his own famous dogs’ website,   Chad’s adorable Doberman and Chihuahua, Ramsey and Pablo, have drawn a nationwide following over the years, and recently a beautiful Pit Bull, named Suvi, joined their little family via Chad’s girlfriend, Brandy.  Suvi is currently in the running to become a Pit Bull Super Hero Breed Ambassador and help the Minnesota Pit Bull Rescue, but she needs your help!  Voting is taking place on the American Dog Magazine’s Facebook page until November 30, so please click here and vote for Suvi!  She, Chad, Brandy, Ramsey and Pablo are already super heroes in my book, so helping Suvi become an ambassador for her breed is the very least I can do for them.  Again, please spread the word and vote for Suvi as often as possible!

Ava and Margot on Thanksgiving
As for Miss Margot, she is getting so big!  I’m not sure how much she weighs right now, but she’s about as tall as Sam, and her crate is looking smaller and smaller.  She’s such a good girl, too.  On Thanksgiving, we took her to Justin’s parents’ house where they were hosting a small family gathering.   Justin’s second cousin, Ava, who is only 19 months-old, was fascinated by Margot.  After watching her for a while, Ava decided that she wanted to pet Margot.  I’ve seen Margot interact with children at the dog park, and she’s always been great with them, but Ava was much smaller than any other child that Margot has ever encountered.  So, I will admit I was a tad nervous at first, simply because I didn’t know if Margot would become too excited and accidentally knock Ava down by trying to smother her with kisses or something; however, Margot couldn’t have been better behaved.  She did surprise Ava with a kiss on the face once or twice, which sent Ava running back to her father’s lap for safety, but after a minute or two, Ava wanted to go pet the doggy again. 

Granted, Margot ignored Ava for the most part because she was so distracted by all the wonderful Thanksgiving food, but Margot was even a good girl in terms of begging.  She didn’t whine.  She didn’t paw at anyone.  She didn’t jump up onto anyone’s lap or even try to lay her head in anyone’s lap while they ate.  She would simply lie down at one corner of the table and watch everyone eat for a few minutes, and if no one offered her any scraps, she’d try her luck at another corner of the table. 

Margot is also still very well behaved whenever we take her to the dog park, which we are still trying to do as much as possible.  She absolutely LOVES to socialize with all of the different dogs and, of course, their owners.  I’m very proud of the way she manages to stay out of fights, too, as there are often little “spats” between some of the dogs.  Whenever trouble starts, though, Margot always high-tails it out of there!  Sometimes, if a fight starts happening in another area of the dog park, Margot will become curious and run towards the commotion, but she always stops as soon as she sees what’s going on and never tries to take part in it. 

The only time I really have to keep an eye on Margot is when an owner brings a smaller dog into the big dog area because Margot tends to obsess over little dogs.  She’s very curious about them and wants to sniff them incessantly.  Sometimes, this worries the little dog owners, so I will try to step in and redirect Margot’s attention towards a stick or something else.   There have also been times when a little dog that Margot is interested in will actually try to play with her a little bit, and despite Margot’s best efforts to play more gently with the little dog, sometimes she just can’t reel in her excitement enough, and so I’ll have to step in again.  Thankfully, it isn’t difficult to redirect Margot’s attention, which I can tell the little dog owners appreciate. 
Big girl teeth!
For the most part, Margot will spend several minutes socializing with as many dogs as possible, but inevitably she will always end up with one or two BFF’s, whom she will wrestle and play with until it’s time to go home.   She’s made BFF’s with all shapes and sizes, too, from a giant Mastiff/Labrador mix to a little Bassett Hound.  As long as they’re willing to wrestle with her, all dogs are friend-worthy in Margot’s book.

The one thing that Justin and I would both really like to see improve is Margot’s willingness to come when she is called.  I’m actually disappointed in myself for not keeping up with her obedience training very well, but the reason I’ve slacked off with her training at home is because I still fully intend to sign her up for some professional obedience classes after she gets spayed, which will hopefully be during Christmas break next month.  (I’m still waiting to hear back from the vet about how much the medications will cost to treat her for Von Willebrand disease both before and during the surgery.) 

After-bath swaddle.
All in all, Justin and I really couldn’t be more proud of our little Margot.  She’s such a joy to have around.  My favorite moments are when she’s sitting on the couch, lying half-way in my lap, and just calmly watching TV with me.   (We refer to this as her “zen puppy” state.)  It’s so funny to watch her actually watching television.  She’ll stare at the TV for a while, yawn, look at me with those soulful, almond-shaped eyes, give me a quick kiss on the face, and then turn her head and go right back to watching TV.   It cracks me up. 

Sam is Margot's favorite pillow.
I also LOVE finding Margot and Sam all snuggled up together on the sofa.  It’s so sweet the way Sam has finally adopted Margot, the same way she eventually adopted Lexie when she was a puppy.  It seems like only yesterday that we were actually considering letting Sam move in with Justin’s parents because she was so annoyed by Margot, and now Sam will let Margot do just about anything to her that she wants.  If Margot wants to wrestle, Sam wrestles.  If Margot wants to play tug, Sam will play tug with her.  If Margot wants to nap, Sam will patiently lie still while Margot climbs all over her until she’s found a comfortable position (usually right on top of her).  Sam has even been known to leave food in her bowl during the day and wait until Margot has been let out of her crate so that they can eat together.  

They’re both such sweethearts.  I’ve definitely been blessed with some of the best dogs anyone could have ever asked for, including Lexie and Jocie, whom I miss very much and still think about every single day.  Hug your puppies tight, folks.  :)

I am a human mattress.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Stop! Cuddle Time!!!

I jokingly refer to this as mine and Margot's MySpace pic.
I have no problem admitting that I love that Margot is a Mama’s girl.  I especially love the fact that she always kind of has to be wherever I am, even if she’s not giving me 100% of her attention.  Like, when I’m sitting on the living room floor in front of the fireplace (aka “my spot”) and she’s romping around the living room, playing with her toys, eventually she always gravitates over to where I’m sitting and ends up playing with that toy on my legs or in my lap.  I especially love it when she tries to climb into my lap after she gets tired of playing, like she used to when she was tiny.  She’s too big to fully fit in my lap anymore, but she still tries her best by curling up into a tight, little ball.  If she can’t get comfortable, she’ll settle for lying on the floor beside me and resting her head in my lap, even if the nice, big, soft couch behind me is completely empty. 
She always ends up in Mama's lap.  :)

Margot has also recently started “helping” me with housework.  She’ll follow me from room to room as I straighten up, and she especially loves to help “pre-wash” the dishes by licking the pots, pans, and plates that are within her reach as I’m loading the dishwasher.   It’s all very, very helpful, and I’m constantly thanking Miss Margot and telling her that I’m not sure how I’d ever get the housework done without her.  ;)

As much as Margot seems to prefer being by my side more than anyone else, she’s still very much a Daddy’s girl, as well.  In fact, when it comes to giving kisses, Justin is definitely her favorite person in the whole wide world.  Most people, including myself, can only take so many of Margot’s kisses before we have to push her away, but Justin loves receiving her kisses as much as she loves giving them, which absolutely makes her day.  As soon as she jumps onto the couch and starts licking his cheek, Justin says, “Kisses?!?!  Thank you, Margot!”  Hearing this positive feedback always gets her very excited, and her little nubble (aka her docked tail) starts wiggling back and forth as she continues licking him all over his face.  Without fail, Margot’s excitement and bombardment of kisses always sends Justin into a giggle fit, which only excites Margot more.   I have to say, it’s pretty stinkin’ adorable. 

Cuddle pile with Justin and Sam
Justin is also Margot’s go-to person whenever she’s really cold and needs major cuddles in order to get warmed up.   Whenever she gets a bath, as soon as I’m finished towel-drying her and she’s released from the bathroom, she always lets Justin wrap her in a towel and a blanket, and then he holds her until she eventually stops shivering and usually falls asleep in his arms.  Also, if it’s not very cold in the morning when I let Margot out to use the bathroom, she’ll usually come back inside and immediately start playing with Sam.  However, if it’s an extremely cold, frosty morning, as soon as I let Margot back inside she makes a beeline up the stairs and jumps into the bed with Justin so that he’ll cuddle her under the blankets.  That pup does NOT like to be cold!  (Most Dobes don’t.)

Speaking of Sam, she and Margot are continuing to get along extremely well.  They basically just play, cuddle, eat, and sleep together.  I still cannot get over how much Sam plays now.  It cracks me up sometimes because Sam almost looks like she’s annoyed with Margot and wants her to stop bugging her, but as soon as Margot stops, Sam gets her started again.  I also have to laugh every time Sam puts Margot’s whole head inside her mouth, and Margot just lets her!  I have no idea what that’s all about, but they both seem to enjoy it, so whatever! 

Sam's method of shutting Margot up is quite effective.

Anyway, as far as developmental milestones go, the only thing I really have to report is that Margot is continuing to do well with housebreaking.  I think she’s starting to understand that Justin and I let her and Sam out on a pretty regular schedule (first thing in the morning, in the afternoon when Justin comes home for lunch, as soon as I get home from work in the evening, about an hour after dinner, and then one final time before bed).   If she needs to go in between any of those scheduled times, she’s been pretty good about making her needs known, either by giving us “the look” or even whining on occasion.  She’s had very few accidents in the house while we’re home, although we do still occasionally find a mess in her crate, which sucks.  However, I’m pretty sure that she does try to hold it for as long as she can because she doesn’t use the bathroom in her crate regularly.

21 wks-old!

I’m hoping to get Margot scheduled to be spayed during the week of Thanksgiving, but that all depends on whether or not I book a wedding this weekend (I have two consultations lined up today and tomorrow).   So, cross your fingers for me/us! 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

20-Week (5 Months?) Progress Report

"Helping" me edit.
So, I have a question.  Margot is 20 weeks-old today, so technically that means she’s 5 months-old, right (assuming four weeks per month)?  However, she was born on June 13, so shouldn’t I say that her 5-month birthday is on November 13?!?!? 

Well, in any event, I’m happy to report that there has been more progress in the housebreaking department!  Margot seems to FINALLY be grasping the concept of telling us when she needs to go outside!   I’ve heard her whine on a couple of occasions, which prompted me to ask her if she needed to go out, and she’s also started giving us “The Look.”    I wish I could say that there have been minimal to no accidents in the house since Margot has started indicating her need to go out, but unfortunately I cannot, thanks to this horrible Hurricane Sandy-induced weather we’ve been having.  However, with that said, over the last two days Margot has actually made some progress in that department, as well, as she seems to be getting used to going out in the rain to use the bathroom. 

Speaking of the horrible weather we’ve been having, Margot got to experience her first snow yesterday morning.  As much as she hates the cold and rain, though, I wasn’t expecting her to like snow very much, and my assumption proved to be right.  As soon as I opened the back door and she saw the small amount of snow that was covering our deck, she put on the breaks and even tried to run back into the kitchen.  I stopped her, though, and basically shoved her little butt out the back door.  She sniffed at the snow for a few seconds, just trying to figure out what it was, while I encouraged her to go pee.  Finally, she reluctantly went out into the slushy yard and found a spot, but she turned her head and GLARED at me the whole time she peed.  When she was finished, instead of running back into the house and jumping on the couch like she usually does, she made a beeline up the stairs to our bedroom, jumped into the bed with Justin, and burrowed herself under the covers with him!  I couldn’t stop laughing.  What a little wimp!

In other news, Margot has been a wild child in the evenings since we haven’t been able to take her to the dog park.  However, this isn’t necessarily a totally bad thing because it means she’s spending more quality time with me and Justin again.  My only complaint about taking her to the dog park so often was that I felt like she was becoming a little bit disconnected from us, if that makes sense?  For example, Justin and I both felt like Margot wasn’t minding us as well as she had been before we started taking her to the dog park.  I actually wondered if it was possible that being around so many dogs all the time was kind of putting her in a “wild pack animal” mindset rather than keeping her in the “obedient family pet” mindset.   (To be clear, it’s not that she was being “bad” whenever we’d take her to the dog park, but she definitely didn’t listen to us very well whenever we’d call for her.)   For that reason, I’m actually kind of glad that the dog park has been put on hiatus for the winter, especially with her only being 5 months-old.  She’s going to do a lot of growing up, both physically and mentally, from now until spring, including some formal obedience training, and she is going to be spending the majority of that time at home with me and Justin.  Therefore, by the time Margot starts going back to the dog park on a regular basis, she’ll probably be much more strongly bonded to us, more mature, and hopefully more obedient when we give her a command. 

I am Sam and Margot's human mattress.
In fact, I can already tell that she’s started bonding more closely to me and Justin, especially since the weather has been so cold, because she LOVES to snuggle.   Last Sunday, I was in snuggle Heaven because that’s pretty much all that Margot and I did ALL day.  At one point, Ashley and I were watching “Moonrise Kingdom” on Blu-Ray and I was sitting in the floor in front of the fireplace while Margot played with her toys.  Little by little, I noticed that Margot was actually migrating over to where I sat, until finally she was actually playing sort of half-on my lap.  Then, when she finally wore herself out from wrestling with her new stuffed monkey and chasing after her tennis ball, she didn’t climb onto the big, soft couch and snuggle up with Sam.  Oh no!  Instead, my “little” 40-pound Doberman puppy chose to make herself fit into my lap by curling up as tightly as possible  and resting her chin on my arm as I cradled her.   It meant so much to me that she insisted on napping in my lap that I almost cried.  It was just so sweet.

After dinner that same night, I became a human mattress when both Margot and Sam decided to nap on top of me while Justin watched football, and later, when I went upstairs to watch one of my trashy Bravo network TV shows, Margot followed me upstairs and cuddled with me in my bed.  I know I’ve mentioned this before, but my favorite thing about Margot cuddling with me is watching her fight off sleep.  She does this thing where her chin slowly sinks down farther and farther, but she keeps looking forward with her eyes (“puppy dog eyes”).  Then, her eyelids get heavier and heavier, until finally she can’t fight it anymore and she rests her head on my leg, arm, chest, etc. and falls asleep.  It just kills me. 

I swear, if this dog gets any more lovable I think my heart may actually explode.  :)
Margot wearing Lexie's old Yoda costume!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

19-Week Progress Report (But Who's Counting?)

I feel like I haven’t been keeping up with this blog very well lately, but I assure you I have a legitimate reason.  The last couple of weeks have been super busy with a To-Do list for my photography business a mile long.  Then, to make matters worse, last week there was a fire in the building where my studio is located, which set off the sprinkler system, but only in MY studio!  So, the firemen and building staff had to take EVERYTHING out of my studio in order to vacuum the water from the carpet and set up industrial fans for a few days to dry everything out.  Luckily, my studio lights and equipment were not destroyed, and the damage to my backdrops, props, and furniture appears to be minimal.  However, I am now left with one hellacious mess to clean up, the electrical system in my studio and hallway are messed up, and I have a wedding consultation scheduled at my studio tomorrow after I get off work!  
My disasterous photography studio

Anyway, enough about my ongoing saga of terrible luck; allow me to update you about Margot instead!  She turned 19 weeks-old yesterday, although I swore I would stop counting the weeks now that she’s past that 16-week milestone.  Haha!  I do have several things to report today, though:

Margot has unfortunately tested positive for von Willebrand disease.  For those of you who don’t know, Dobermans are prone to this blood disease, which inhibits their clotting ability.  When we found out that Margot was old enough to be spayed, I requested she have a von Willebrand Factor test performed first, because the reason why Lexie almost died during her enucleation procedure this past summer was due to the fact that the vets couldn’t stop the bleeding.   Margot’s vWD test ended up costing me $160, which was kind of a shock, but now that we know for sure that Margot has this blood disorder, I know that it was money well spent.

So, what does this mean for poor Margot?  Well, first and foremost, she’s OKAY.  Dogs with vWD lead perfectly normal lives, and their condition only becomes an issue whenever they require any type of surgery or have some type of injury with moderate to severe bleeding.  For example, Margot received her first wound when she was around 8 or 9 weeks-old, which was a small scrape to her nose that bled just enough to create a little scab.  Obviously, having vWD was not an issue in that case.  However, now that we know that Margot has this clotting disorder, before she is spayed she will need to be pre-treated with a certain drug prior to her surgery that will build up her clotting factors, and there is another medication that the Dr. Ellis will order to have on-hand during Margot’s surgery that will help stop the bleeding if it becomes an issue.   Had I not had Margot tested for von Willebrand prior to getting her spayed, we probably would have found out the hard way, and perhaps even too late, that she had this disease.  

19 weeks-old!
Unfortunately, because of this news, Justin and I have decided to postpone Margot’s spaying procedure, which was previously scheduled to take place tomorrow.   It was going to be difficult enough for us to be able to afford the surgery, and now, with the addition of also needing pre-treatment drugs and yet another type of medication to have on-hand during the procedure, I have a feeling that it will probably end up costing an extra couple hundred dollars, which we simply cannot afford right now.  Mind you, I didn’t ask Dr. Ellis how much the vWD medications will cost, but I’d be willing to bet that my guess of a couple hundred dollars is pretty accurate.   I’m a little disappointed about postponing Margot’s spaying procedure, but at least it’s not CRUCIAL that she be spayed right away.  As long as she has the procedure done within the next year, I’ll be happy, and I’m sure we’ll be able to better afford it at some point within that amount of time. 

In other news, I’m very happy to report that Margot has only had one accident in the house over the past week or so!  Not only that, but I also think she’s starting to understand the concept of telling us when she has to use the bathroom so that we can let her out.  On more than one occasion, I’ve gotten up to check on her after she’s gone into the kitchen, and I’ve found her just standing by the kitchen door waiting for me.  In the past, she would have just peed as soon as she saw that the kitchen door was shut, so this is definitely a great improvement!   She’s also had fewer accidents in her crate, although that still happens more frequently than I would like.  I tend to blame myself and Justin, though, whenever she uses the bathroom in her crate because usually it only happens if she ate/drank a little later than usual the night before and/or we forgot to let her outside before putting her to bed.   BAD pet owners!  BAD!

Margot, Lilly (airborne), and Archer

As far as developmental milestones go, I actually have a new one to report.  I have officially heard Margot’s “grown up bark” on more than one occasion, but only when she’s playing at the dog park.  She has yet to bark when she’s at home, but I’m not exactly complaining.  I’ve heard that once a Dobe discovers his/her bark, it can be a little annoying for a while.  So, as far as I’m concerned, Margot can just save all those barks for the dog park.

Speaking of the dog park, I cannot even begin to tell you what a wonderful experience it has been for Margot, me, and Justin.  Almost every day that it’s been nice outside, I’ve taken Margot to the dog park after I’ve gotten home from work, then Justin has driven straight there after he has gotten off work, and we’ve stayed until dark just watching Margot and all of the other dogs play.  It’s been so much fun getting to know all of the other dogs and their owners.  So far, Margot’s BFF’s are a couple of boy dogs named Cody and Archer, but she’s also good friends with Lilly and Miko.  Margot, Archer, Cody, and Miko are all about the same age, and it’s been so cute watching them grow so fond of each other.  I think that they’re really going to miss each other during the winter.