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. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

4-1/2 Months-Old

Another play date with Elsea!
Today, Margot is 4-1/2 months-old.  I’m going to stop counting the weeks now, I think, since her major milestone of finishing her vaccinations has passed.  Well, almost passed.  She still needs to receive her rabies vaccination, which will happen after she’s spayed next week. 

We’ve been going to the dog park a lot, and Margot absolutely LOVES it!  I love it, too.  It’s actually a very social experience for the owners as well as their dogs.  The funny thing is, I don’t think any of us owners have really learned each other’s names, but I could tell you almost every single dog’s name that’s at the park each day.  Haha!  So far, other than Elsea, Margot’s biggest buddy seems to be a white, fluffy Husky mix named Coda.  They are simply adorable when they are together.  They wrestle and tumble around in the dirt until poor Coda looks like he’s more like a shade of beige than white.  Margot gets pretty filthy, too.  In fact, we all do!  By the time Justin and I leave the dog park, we’re both covered in muddy paw prints and slobbers from all the various dogs, but it sure is fun getting that way!

Socially, I’m pretty proud of Margot.  She can still be a little timid if she doesn’t recognize anyone at the dog park right away, but she’s still very willing and eager to make new friends.  She also doesn’t like to wander too far from me or Justin.  The dog park is a pretty big, fenced-in area, and a group of us owners usually hang out at the top of the hill.  Every now and then, Margot will get brave and venture down to the bottom of the hill with a small pack of dogs, as long as they are also accompanied by an owner, but she usually doesn’t stay with that group too long before returning to the top of the hill with us.  One thing is for certain, Margot is a “people” dog.  Just about any time we lose site of her and ask, “Where’s Margot?” we’ll usually find her standing beside a human.  She absolutely LOVES human attention and affection and gives her kisses freely to anyone who wants them.   She’s definitely a charmer.

Wearing Lexie's old sweatshirt.  :'-)
I should also add that Justin SWEARS he heard Margot let out her first actual bark when he had her at the dog park this past Monday, but I have yet to hear this for myself.  She does vocalize while she plays, and every now and then she’ll let out a high-pitched semi-bark, but Justin says that what he heard was an actual bark-bark. 

As for a housebreaking update, I don’t really have anything new to report.  I will say that I haven’t seen many messes in the house over this past week, but that could also be due to the fact that the weather has been nice and I’ve been leaving the back door open as much as possible.  I love that Margot loves to play outside so much.  It’s funny, because we’ve started finding random items out in the back yard, like one of her toys or a sock, which means she’s started taking things out there to play with them. 

Snuggling with Daddy
I will also add that Margot is definitely a cold weather snuggler and LOVES her blankie.  A few days ago, when the weather turned cold, I found one of Lexie’s old sweatshirts and put it on Margot.  It was huge on her, but I could tell that she kind of liked wearing it.  So, Justin and I went to Petco last weekend and I bought her a little doggie fleece.  It’s light enough that it won’t make her hot if she wears it in the house, but I do think it will help keep her warm when she’s in her crate.  I worry about her getting cold at night because we turn the heat down before we go to bed (otherwise, the upstairs bedrooms are like a furnace).  So far, she seems to love her new fleece.


I have one more thing to mention before I go, and that is our trip to Little Victories this past Sunday.  Little Victories is a no-kill animal rescue, and Justin volunteered to work there one day last week .  While he was there, he met a lovable, three-legged Irish Setter mix named Oliver.  Now, Justin knows that I don’t really ever want a male dog, but he asked if I would be willing to meet Oliver anyway.  I found a photo of him on the Little Victories website, and the accompanying story broke my heart.  He lost his left hind leg after it was caught in a bear trap, and even lost one of his teeth trying to chew the trap off his leg.  Then, years later, he was shot in his other leg, which now contains a metal plate.  Well, after MUCH discussion about whether or not I’m ready to have a three-dog family again, I finally agreed to take Margot just go meet Oliver.  He was a very sweet boy, and he gets around so well on three legs that you almost don’t even notice at first.  He and Margot didn’t seem to mind each other one bit, either.  We took them both for a short walk up the road and back, but as soon as we got back to the main building, Oliver just seemed to want to go back inside.  I know this may sound funny, but I didn’t really feel that strong of a connection with Oliver that day.  I think he easily could have stolen my heart had he acted like he was very happy to meet us, but he really seemed totally happy living right there at Little Victories and couldn’t wait to get back to his bed. 
Snuggling with Sam in her new fleece.

So, Justin and I haven’t really talked about Oliver much since that day.  I honestly don’t feel like I’m ready to have three dogs again, though.  I WOULD adopt Oliver if Justin felt strongly enough about it, but, like I said, he hasn’t really mentioned him since last Sunday.  It’s just that Sam took SO long to finally warm up to Margot, and now they’re getting along so well that I don’t really want to risk messing that up.  I will 100%, DEFINITELY adopt a dog whenever Sam passes away, but until that sad day comes, I think I’m just going to leave things the way they are.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

17-Weeks Progress Report, Plus Progress for Sam!

Margot turned 17 weeks-old yesterday, but unfortunately the only thing I have to report is that she STILL isn’t housebroken.  Up until now, I wasn’t very concerned because I kept telling myself, “She’s still rather young to fully be housebroken,” but I think I’ve finally reached the point of frustration over this.  

17 weeks-old
The reason I’m so frustrated is because Margot WANTS to use the bathroom outside.  If we leave the kitchen door and the sliding back door open during the day, she will get up off the couch and go all the way outside to use the bathroom, and then come back inside all by herself.  However, if that kitchen door or the sliding back door are shut when she has to go, she doesn’t whine, she doesn’t scratch at the door or ring those darn bells, she doesn’t come stare at us, and she doesn’t even sniff around much to find a spot.  She gives NO indication that she has to use the bathroom, but if that back door isn’t already open for her when she has to go, she just immediately uses the bathroom in the kitchen.  It’s gotten to the point that either Justin or I will jump off the couch and follow Margot every time she walks into the kitchen because she will do her business within a matter of seconds if she sees that door is shut.  I’ve even caught her mid-accident on a few occasions, yelled, “NO!  Outside!”, then taken her outside and praised her like crazy if she finished using the bathroom in the yard, but it just still hasn’t seemed to click with her that she is not allowed to use the bathroom in the house.  It’s like she thinks that it’s acceptable as long as the back door is shut.  It doesn’t even occur to her that we will open the door FOR her if she will just let us know that she wants out.   
I think my next move is going to be taking Margot and Sam’s water bowl out of the kitchen and, instead, putting a water bowl beside each of their food bowls in the dining room, which is connected to the living room.  Right now, whenever Margot goes into the kitchen, we’re never sure if she has to use the bathroom or if she’s just thirsty.   So, if I put her water bowl in the dining room where I can see it, then she really won’t have any other need for going into the kitchen, other than if she wants to go outside.  I’ve even thought about blocking the two doorways to the kitchen with baby gates in the hope that she’ll actually whine or paw at the gate if she wants in the kitchen.   At this point, these are the only options I can think of that I haven’t tried yet.  I’m wide open to suggestions, though, if anyone out there has any.

In other news, I do have something very positive to report about Sam.  For the last two days, I’ve taken Sam and Margot for a walk together after I’ve gotten home from work, all by myself!  The reason why this is such a big deal is because Sam is usually a nightmare to take on a walk because she barks and pulls on her leash the entire time.  The last time Justin and I took the girls for a walk, he had his hand wrapped around Sam’s leash, and she pulled so hard on it for so long that his hand actually turned blue.  For this reason, I thought that I could never walk both of the girls by myself because it would just be too much for one person to handle.  However (don’t laugh), I’ve been watching so many episodes of “The Dog Whisperer” lately that Cesar Millan has basically become my mentor.  I’ve learned a lot about how a dog owner’s energy can affect their dog’s behavior, and I realized that whenever I decide to take Sam for a walk, I automatically expect the worst behavior from her and assume that the experience is going to be a nightmare, even before we leave the house. 

It breaks my heart how much this reminds me of Lexie.
So, a couple of days ago I decided to put Cesar’s teachings to the test.  As soon as I let Sam onto the front porch to put on her harness, she began her usual routine of barking and whining, and wouldn’t sit still long enough for me to put the harness on her.   I immediately tensed up and felt that sense of dread and annoyance that I always feel whenever this happens; however, this time I was more aware of how I was feeling and reacting to Sam’s behavior.  So, I stopped trying to put Sam’s harness on her for a moment, and instead I took a deep breath and tried to rid myself of those negative feelings.  This wasn’t easy, mind you, because Sam’s barking only intensified once I stopped trying to put the harness on her, but I did my best to try to remain as calm and in control of the situation as possible.  As I walked out the front door with Sam and Margot on their leashes, instead of thinking, “Oh God, here we go….” like I usually do, I simply thought to myself, “I am their pack leader,” and began walking down the street with a newfound sense of confidence.  To my complete and total shock and amazement, Sam never even tried to pull me once!  She simply walked right by my side, and I was able to keep my arm completely relaxed as I held her leash.  Margot pulled on her leash a little bit during the walk, but that was mostly because she had more of that curious, playful puppy mentality and was excited by all the new sights and smells.  All I had to do was give Margot’s leash a little tug, though, and she’d stop pulling.

I was so impressed by Sam’s good behavior by the end of our walk that I almost couldn’t believe it.  So, I decided to try walking both of the girls again yesterday evening, just to make sure it hadn’t been a fluke, and I’m happy to report that it wasn’t!  Sam was just as well behaved yesterday as she was the day before.  I wish you guys could have seen how bad she was during walks before these last couple of days, because I’m not kidding when I say that the difference is truly amazing.  I’m actually very anxious to go home today and walk them again because I love being able to get out and enjoy our little neighborhood and Ritter Park with them.  It’s good for all of us, both mentally and physically.

Anyway, there are a few other things I could write about, but instead I think I’ll just leave you with some photos I’ve taken over the past week.  After all, they’re worth a thousand words, right?  ;)

It's definitely snuggle weather!
After a long day at the dog park.
Play date with Elsea!
Oh, just getting buried at the dog park.
Margot's a fan of the fireplace. :)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

16-Weeks Progress Report (FINALLY!)

16 weeks-old!
Margot turned 16 weeks-old yesterday, and we celebrated by playing at the dog park!!!  I’m shocked that I didn’t take more photos of her first dog park experience, but I was too busy loving every minute of watching her socialize with all the other dogs.  We met Courtney and Elsea there around 6:00 p.m. yesterday evening, and Margot immediately recognized Elsea.  There is a separate area for small dogs to run and play, which was empty at that time, so Courtney and I let Elsea and Margot have a little warm-up run around the empty area before I finally decided that Margot could probably handle meeting all of the other dogs.

Margot the wallflower
I don’t even know how to begin to describe what an awesome experience this was for me and Margot both.  Margot was a little overwhelmed at first when a herd of big dogs came over to greet her upon entering the park (we called this The Welcoming Committee, as this greeting procedure seemed to occur every time a new dog entered the park).  Margot mostly stuck to Elsea’s side at first and always made sure she knew where Elsea was whenever she got brave enough to explore on her own a little bit.  Meanwhile, Courtney and I were enjoying watching all of the dogs interact with each other and admiring all the different breeds.  One of my favorites was a GIANT, black Newfoundland, named Fat Head, who was so sweet and friendly, but still intimidated every dog he tried to play with because of his massive size.  There was also a sweet, stocky Bulldog, named Tank, a scruffy little Schnauzer/Border Collie mix, named Prudence, an adorable little mixed-breed puppy, named Miko, who was the same age as Margot, only half her size, a lot of Labs, lots of Chihuahuas, one Rottweiler, a Weimaraner, a couple of Boxers, a Husky puppy, and a bunch of awesome mutts! 

At one point, I was so caught up in admiring all the other dogs that I lost sight of Margot.  When I found her, she was sitting oh-so-properly in the corner of the fence, just watching all of the action around her.  I laughed at how intimidated and shy she was being and encouraged her to get back into the game.  She rejoined Elsea and ran around with her some more, but several minutes later, I found myself looking for Margot again.  This time, I found her sitting on one of the park benches, just chillin’ in between two dudes.  She definitely seemed more interested in making friends with the humans than with the other dogs for probably the first half-hour we were there.

"Get back in the same, Margot!"
During that time, Kristy and Zach came to check out the dog park and watch Margot play (Kristy was in HEAVEN, by the way), and Justin met us at the park after he got off work around 6:45 p.m.  Having more of “her people” there actually seemed to help boost Margot’s confidence a little, and she finally started socializing with the other dogs more, especially the little dogs.  In fact, by the end of the evening, Margot was having so much fun wrestling with a Chihuahua/Min Pin mix that Justin and I felt guilty making her leave!  But, alas, it was getting pretty chilly and I hadn’t brought a jacket, plus the sun was going down quickly, so we told all of Margot’s new friends “good-bye” and headed back home.

The one thing I learned right away about going to the dog park is that both the dog and the owner are going to come home covered in mud and dog slobber.  So, that meant that Margot had to have a bath when she got home.  The last time I had bathed her was probably a month ago, and she was a bit of a handful at that time because she kept trying to jump out of the tub.  Last night, however, I think she was too worn out to fight me because she just stood perfectly still the whole time I bathed her.  Afterwards, Justin wrapped her in a towel and she fell asleep in his arms while he held her on the couch. 

Making friends at the dog park
I honestly don’t think that Margot’s first experience at the dog park and with socializing with so many other dogs could have gone any better.  I’m so proud of her.  The weather is supposed to be nice again this evening, so I’m going to try taking Sam to the dog park with us tonight, as well!  I hope that Sam will enjoy it as much as Margot did, although I’m a little concerned that Sam might not handle meeting so many new dogs and people at one time as well as Margot did.  Sam’s 11 years-old, and for the majority of her life her world has basically consisted of me, Chris, Zach, Kristy, Ashley, Justin, Jocie, Lexie, and now Margot, and you guys remember how long it took her to warm up to Margot, right?  Typically, whenever another dog or unfamiliar person enters Sam’s little world, her initial reaction is along the lines of “Stranger!  Danger!”  She barks a lot at first, but she also calms down fairly quickly once she realizes that there is no actual danger.  So, I’m hoping that, even if she does freak out a little bit and bark at the other dog park-goers when we first get there, once she sees how calm I am and realizes how much fun Margot is having, maybe she’ll loosen up and actually enjoy the experience, too.  OMG, you guys just don’t even understand how happy it will make me if I get to watch my Samul run around and actually have fun playing with other dogs tonight!  I’m trying not to get my hopes up too high, but I do have a good feeling about this….

Anyway, I guess I should also give a quick 16-week progress report since I didn’t do one yesterday.   First of all, I’ve hung the bells from the kitchen door and have tried to encourage Margot to ring them before I take her outside to use the bathroom, but she is actually really afraid of those bells.  I thought maybe I just scared her when I first took her paw and made her touch them, so instead of making her ring the bells, I decided to just ring them myself before opening the door each time.  Well, I guess she just doesn’t like the sound, because that scares her, too.  Regardless, I haven’t removed the bells just yet.  You never know, she may get over it and eventually realize their purpose. 

Another thing that I’ve been doing lately, in regard to housebreaking, is leaving the sliding door open while we’re home so that Margot is able to go in and out by herself.  Margot and Sam both really seem to like this.  Last weekend, Margot actually took her Wubba toy outside to play with it on the deck while Sam laid outside on the deck with her and soaked up a little sun.  It’s just a shame that this is pretty much the only time of year that we’ll be able to leave the back door open for them like this.  It’s just not practical to leave the door open when it’s either really hot or really cold outside because it affects the temperature inside the house and lets in bugs during the summer months.  It makes me REALLY wish that we could have a doggy door because Margot hasn’t had one single accident while the back door has been left open for her.  In fact, whenever she goes outside to use the bathroom all by herself, she always comes RUNNING back inside and jumps all over us, smothering us with kisses, as if she’s really proud of herself!  Hahaha!  It’s pretty adorable. 

The only other major things to report are that Margot’s adult teeth are starting to come in, and she’s growing like a weed!  I kid you not, there are days when I SWEAR she has grown taller overnight.  Right now, she is almost up to my knees, which blows my mind.  What happened to that little 6 week-old peanut who used to be able to fit under my couch?!?!? 

Not only is Margot growing taller every day, but she’s also getting sweeter and sweeter.  This girl LOVES to be loved, and she gives as much love as she receives.  We still crack up at how Margot does her best to give everyone equal cuddling time whenever she’s hanging out with us in the evenings.  She’ll snuggle up to Justin and let him pet her for a few minutes, then she’ll get up and come over to plop down in my lap for a little while, and then she’ll get up and go over to the loveseat where Ashley is sitting to give her a few minutes of cuddle time, before eventually coming back over to Justin and starting the whole cuddle-cycle all over again.  It’s also funny watching her fight sleep for as long as she can.  Her eyes get really heavy, her blinks get longer and longer, and eventually her little head will start to wobble.  As soon as she nods off, though, she’ll quickly raise her head with her eyes wide open, and she’ll look around like, “What?  Who’s sleepy?  I’m not sleepy!”

I really cannot say this enough, but I honestly don’t know how I would get through the day sometimes without knowing that this little one is waiting for me when I get home.  After we got back from our vacation this past summer, I entered probably the worst depression I’ve ever experienced (and, if I’m being completely honest, I still haven’t really come out of it yet).  I’ve never been one to wallow in self-pity, but the amount of grief I’ve experienced due to so many losses in such a relatively short amount of time (first with losing Chris, then the devastating loss of Lexie after such a long, tortuous battle, and most recently the sudden loss of my Jocie just a month after losing Lou) has been, well, overwhelming, to say the least.  Unfortunately, each loss that I’ve experienced has also come with a huge price tag attached, which has resulted in a mountain of debt that I can’t even begin to wrap my brain around how I’m ever going to be able to pay off, which now has me seriously worried about losing my house.  There’s even more that I could add to this sob story, but my point isn’t to try to make people feel sorry for me (believe it or not).  My point is that Margot has been my little beacon through this fog since the day we brought her home two and a half months ago.  Sometimes, even I have a hard time believing how much joy she’s still able to make me feel, despite the fact that my life is pretty sad and crappy at the moment.  Margot doesn’t feel sorry for me, though.  She doesn’t know or care about what I’ve been through already or about how many more bad things are on my horizon.  All she cares about is playing and cuddling with me when I get home from work, which is actually quite a comforting thought.   I am so thankful that I have Margot in my life right now because she makes me forget about all of my sob-story problems and focus on something positive (her) every single day, even if it’s only for a few hours. 

To be clear, I’m not saying that Sam DOESN’T bring me joy because I do love Sam with ALL my heart.  However, after having just lost Lexie and Jocie so suddenly within a month of each other, I can’t help but face the reality that I’m eventually going to have to say good-bye to Sam, too, and it’s hard not to think about that every time I look at her now.  Once again, though, I have Margot to thank for not allowing me to focus on such negative thoughts.  Without Margot around, I’m certain that Sam would have spent the rest of her days just lying on the sofa, being lazy and lonely, and I would have done nothing but feel sorry for her and dread the day when I’ll have to let her go.  Instead, thanks to Margot’s persistence and Sam finally warming up to her, I get to watch my 11 year-old Samul play every single day, which brings me more joy than I can even begin to describe.   

Yes, I can say with 150% certainty that Margot is definitely the best unsure decision I have ever made.  I just hope that she understands how much she means to us and how much I appreciate her love, because I’ll truly never be able to say it enough…and Margot doesn’t understand English.  ;)
Bath time!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Margot's First Play Date

I have so much to talk about this past weekend!  It started when Margot had a vet appointment on Saturday.  The office was packed that morning, so we ended up having to wait for about an hour.  While we were waiting, I think Margot made her first boyfriend, a little Jack Russell mix named Max.  Max’s owner and I were sitting directly across from each other in the waiting room, and Margot and Max kept meeting in the middle to sniff each other .  Margot really didn’t know what to think if Max at first because she was so much bigger than him, and he kept trying to play with her the same way she usually plays with Sam.  Once she got over the size difference, though, and started playing with him, it was neat to watch how gentle she was with this smaller dog.  Since Sam is so much bigger than her, Margot is used to full-on romping on top of Sam and playing with all her might.  With Max, however, Margot made sure not to swat him too hard whenever she’d paw at him, and she never even tried to romp on him.  Unfortunately, Max started to “fall in love” with Margot a little bit, if you catch my drift, and his owner and I decided that Margot and Max should take a little break from playtime. 

12 wks Vs. 15 wks.

As for Margot’s appointment, she weighed a whopping 28 lbs this week, and she received her last set of booster shots (the ones that make her immune to the Parvovirus).  The real news, though, is that Dr. Ellis said we could go ahead and have Margot spayed in three weeks, so we set up her appointment for October 23.  My poor puppy is going under the knife!  No, I’m actually totally okay with it.  I told Dr. Ellis during Margot’s very first check-up that I wanted to have her spayed as soon as she was old enough to do so because I didn’t want to make the same mistake with Margot as I did with Lexie. 

Lexie was around 8 years-old before she was finally spayed, but it wasn’t an elective surgery.  Lexie had developed pyometra as a result of having never been spayed (my late husband and I had considered breeding her just one time before we had her spayed, but after we finally decided we weren’t going to breed her, we just kept forgetting to have her spayed).  Lexie required life-saving, emergency surgery to remove her uterus, which ended up weighing 4 lbs. because it was full of blood and pus from the infection!  I felt like the WORST mother ever, and that day I vowed to NEVER put off spaying another dog.  Not only that, but I was later told that Lexie’s mammary cancer probably had a lot to do with the fact that she wasn’t spayed at a much earlier age.  So, YOU HEAR ME OUT THERE?!?!?  SPAY YOUR FEMALE DOGS ASAP!!!!!

Anyway, as I was saying, Margot is going to be spayed in three weeks, then, when she goes back ten days later to have her stitches removed, she’ll receive her rabies vaccination, and then that will be the end of her vaccination visits.  I guess my little girl officially isn’t a baby anymore.  :’-(

Yesterday, Justin and I decided to take Margot to Petco to buy her a new Nylabone.  She always loves going to Petco because she usually receives a lot of attention from the staff and other customers, and yesterday was no different.  The girl who checked us out gave Margot a free dog biscuit, and then after she talked to us for a little while about Dobermans and other dog-related things, she ended up giving Margot another biscuit before we left.  

As soon as we walked out of the store, Justin said, “I think you should call Brett and Courtney and see if Elsea wants to play.”  Brett and Courtney are friends of ours who own a 2-1/2 year-old, red Doberman named Elsea.  We’ve all been so anxious for Elsea and Margot to meet each other that we’ve literally been counting down the weeks until Margot was fully vaccinated and cleared to play with other dogs.  Even though Margot won’t be 16 weeks-old until Wednesday, Justin and I both decided that it was probably okay for her to go ahead and meet Elsea, as long as we didn’t take them to the park or anything.  So, I texted Brett and Courtney and set up their play date.

Meanwhile, Justin and I stopped at Walgreens so I could pick up a few things before we headed over to Brett and Courtney’s apartment.  While I was shopping, Justin walked Margot around the parking lot.  When I came out, Justin told me that Margot had just had two bouts of diarrhea.  We knew immediately that it had to have been from the free biscuits from Petco because Margot has experienced diarrhea in the past whenever she ate something other than her regular dog food and Iams puppy biscuits.  She must have a sensitive tummy.  I wasn’t too worried about it, but a few minutes after we got back in the car and started driving, Margot threw up.  Luckily, I had a sheet covering the back seat so I was able to quickly wrap up the mess, but several minutes later, she threw up again.  I felt so sorry for her!  She looked pitiful.  We considered postponing her play date, but we decided to go ahead and take her to Brett and Courtney’s and just play it by ear. 

Margot's first play date with Elsea!

Well, I’m glad we didn’t call off the play date because it ended up being so much fun!  It took Margot a good 20 minutes or so to warm up and probably shake off some of the car sickness, but after that she was perfectly fine.  Elsea kind of freaked her at first, though, because she’s so much bigger than Margot or even Sam, and Elsea kept running full-speed at Margot, causing her to hide behind me or Justin.  Like I said, though, once Margot warmed up to Elsea and realized that she wasn’t trying to hurt her, they got along really well.  They mostly just chased each other and explored the yard together, but they also had a brief wrestling match a little later on while they were lying on the porch.  Brett, Courtney, and I took pictures the WHOLE time, of course.  Haha!  What can I say?  We were some happy, proud parents watching our kids finally playing together and getting along so well. 

Brett with Elsea and Justin with Margot

As I’m sure you can imagine, Margot spent a large majority of the rest of the day napping, as she was pretty worn out from all of the excitement.  Before we left Brett and Courtney’s, though, we talked about going to the dog park together later this week, after Margot officially turns 16 weeks-old.  I would love to take Sam, too, but I may take Margot by herself the first time just to see how it goes.  Sam, believe it or not, is quite a handful to take out on her leash.  She just gets SO EXCITED that she pulls and barks constantly.  I know it’s probably just a matter of working with her in order to correct those bad behaviors, but that’s where I keep falling short because I simply dread taking her out.  (It’s that bad.)  I know that I need to, though, because it isn’t fair to leave Sam at home while Margot gets to go out for walks and play at the dog park.  So, maybe I’ll do that this evening when I get home.  In fact, maybe Justin and I will take Sam by HERSELF up to the dog park as sort of a trial run.  Yeah!  I like that idea a lot, actually.  :)