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!

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