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I’m still here, still kickin’, still paying for the domain so I’m thinking maybe I should actually, you know, use it.

I’m going to try, I swear, and isn’t this a good start? I think it’s a good start. Rudi does too.

Hollie thinks it sucks. In fact, not seen in this picture is me holding the white dog back with my left arm as she barks her head off at the ridiculous hat that made its way onto Rudi’s head. Thank god pictures don’t include sound.

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I might, on occasion, be guilty of anthropomorphizing my dogs to some extent — I mean, they are the recipients of most of my witty commentary during the day, and, you know, they don’t laugh, per se, but they seem to get the joke more often than not (and give me a better reaction than some of the humans I’ve met to boot) — but there’s no doubt in my mind that they really do smile.

I just got back from a run with them (well, with them each separately. They’re not bad on leash these days on their own, but put them together? And may god have mercy on your soul), and without a doubt, Hollie was beaming.


Read the rest of this entry »

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In case you didn’t already hear all about it on Facebook or Twitter, we had a bit of a scare last week when Rudi got into some people meds and went into renal failure.

I’m not going to make you wait for the outcome — she’s doing great and has a real chance at a full recovery. You know, after a week in the UF Small Animal ICU. A week in which she made every doctor and student working with her fall madly, deeply in love with her, of course, but a week in the doggie hospital nonetheless.

Home and happy as a, well, a dog rolling in the grass on a sunny day, I guess.

She had maybe a 50/50 shot going in, and when we walked in with her, I did my best to accept the fact that we very well might not get her back. I believe this acceptance may have come out as me yelling at the doctors, “This SUCKS! This super, super SUCKS!” in between my hysterical sobbing and nose blowing and crying into my sick dog’s coat, but, you know, we do the best we can do in those situations, right?

Fortunately, her numbers began improving fairly quickly after admitting her, and though it took days before I allowed myself even a glimmer of hope that she’d be able to come home, let alone have the possibility of leading a normal doggie life, I did a lot of thinking. I mean, I really am a believer in many things happening for a reason, and considering how this was extra painful for us because Yuki’s death still feels so recent (even though, yes, it’s been close to three years now), and I just can’t believe that this would happen without the universe having some reason.

Don’t ask me why, but I really felt like I was supposed to learn some lesson (other than “if it’s not 6 feet in the air and locked behind a steel wall, dogs, even if they’re well-behaved and never get into anything anymore, can get to it”). And somewhere between her bloodwork showing numbers that were frighteningly high and showing numbers that were sparkling with promise, it hit me — I’ve completely taken her for granted.

I’ve taken her presence for granted. Hollie’s too, for that matter. And I’ve definitely taken for granted the effect she has on people. I mean you should have seen the way the veterinarians and students and staff lit up when they saw her. And if she can do that while fighting for her life in a place where people are rushing from one emergency to the next, what else could she do? She’s always had a way of making people smile — she’s a silly, floppity, sweet girl, and people take to her instantly. Why am I keeping that all to myself?

So, now that things are looking up — she’s home, her numbers are practically back to normal (and likely will be within the next week) — I’ve decided that I’m going to work hard to share her. I’m going to really focus on training both dogs well so that we can take them more places. Jared and I used to take Yuki everywhere; it was easy because we just had her and she was so sweet to everyone, but once we got Rudi, we backed off because, well, I was lazy and it was more difficult. No more. We’re going to have two dogs who walk well on leash and politely sniff other dogs without going batshit crazy. That’s the first order of business.

Second? Once she’s properly trained, I’m getting Rudi, and maybe Hollie, too, certified as a therapy dog. I want to take her into nursing homes and hospitals, and take her to schools and libraries so she can help children learn to read aloud. If I’m getting a second chance at having her in my life, you can be damn sure I’m going to use that second chance to make a difference.

And I won’t lie — I’m also giving myself permission to take a break during the day to just sit with the dogs and get in some snuggles. I swear it’s good for the soul, and I know they enjoy it. And you know what? I’m giving you permission, too. To snuggle with your own pets, I mean, not mine. Although, I mean, if you really want to, I guess you could cuddle my dogs, too. See? I’m a sharer!

Final thought, for my Gainesville and surrounding area folks — I cannot recommend UF’s emergency animal care enough. The doctors we worked with were absolutely incredible, the facility is amazing, and, in the case of an animal facing renal issues, there’s the ability to do dialysis plus one of the best kidney specialists in the country. Rudi loved everyone there to the point of being excited when we returned for her check up. While she always wanted to go with us at first when we visited her during her stay, she was also happy to go with the doctor or student who took her back, which let me know that she was being loved and treated well when I wasn’t around. And we were treated well, also — everyone was so kind and informative and understanding. Special shout outs to Dr. Bandt, Dr. Genovese and Katie, who made this terrifically difficult time a little easier on allĀ  of us (and earned a friend for life in one special black dog).

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In addition to not understanding basic concepts like moving, dogs do not understand pacing. Yesterday we were graced with perfect, sunny, 65 degree weather. Jared was home and, while we’re both still recovering from the plague, we got lots of sleep and were highly motivated to spend some time outdoors. So, off to the dog park we went.

Within seconds of pulling into the parking lot, the dogs turned into whimpering, whizzing little fuzzballs, fur on end with excitement. “Oh my god, mom! Dad! MOOOOOM! There’s another dog! He’s peeing! PEEING!!! Let me out let me out let me out let me oooouuuuuut!”

So we let them out, and WHOOSH! They were off. And to think that, once upon a time, we thought Hollie might not be able to run.

Who's a gimp? Not this dog.

More than one paw on the ground is obviously overkill.

We got their attention again, however, with the Chuckit, which is definitely one of the best dog toys we own.

Rudi's running ability was never in question. ZOOM!

There was running and jumping and barking and panting and playing … for about half an hour.

Oh, Hollie. You'll never catch up, but it's cute that you try.

And then, they both crashed in a nice, cool, shady patch of dirt. You know, like dogs do. It would’ve been swell to hang out for a couple more hours, but shoot, I had almost 100 photos to edit just from the time we did spend there (I blame the fancy new zoom lens Jared got me for Christmas), so maybe the shorter visit was for the best.

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This is a little overdue, I realize, but … meet Hollie!

cute dog

Hollie, January 2010

Is it any wonder we fell in love and decided to keep her?

(On another note, yes, it appears that, should we have children, I’ll get around to sending out the announcements somewhere around the time said child goes to his or her first boy/girl slumber party.)

Compared to what we’ve always looked for in a dog, Hollie is not a good fit. She’s short and little (about 35 pounds), with light, fluffy fur. And, you know, we’ve always been kind of partial to the big black dogs (what, you didn’t notice?). And, she’s not going to be a terribly active dog — she has some major hip problems which will, eventually, require surgery. Don’t tell her that — she pounces and plays with Rudi, running around the yard as much as we’ll allow. But, I don’t think she’ll be joining Rudi and me on our five- and six-milers.

One of the rare quiet times around here. I forgot what having a puppy was like. (It's LOUD.)

Her wonky hips give her a unique little wiggle, which, if you can get past the fact that it’s not really a funny issue, is pretty damn cute. She’s got a tongue that’s about the length of her whole head, and if you get close enough you’re going to get licked. Don’t try to fight it.

She’s only about seven months old, so we’re still working on obedience (well, let me rephrase — we SHOULD be working on obedience. But — spoiler alert — I’m lazy.), but she’s amazingly well behaved for a dog so young. No shoes have been harmed in the training of this puppy. (Though, if both these mutts would stop barking their heads off at every other dog on the street, I’d be happy. Very, very happy.)

Plus, oh my god, how do you not snuggle up with all that fluff? Just try to resist. Seriously.

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Thanksgiving is coming, folks. Like, fast. In fact, since I work for a holiday blog, I’m pretty much already onto Christmas!

This week hasn’t been a bad week, but it has been challenging. It’s been my first full week of scheduled training for a race in February (which is now going to be a 15k and not a half marathon — more explanation on that later), so not only is it adding about an hour of things I have to do onto my days, but it’s requiring a lot more physical effort (and making me really, really hungry). Fortunately, I think it’s starting to become habit, which, as any runner will tell you, makes all the difference in the world.

Yesterday, I was talking to my friend Metalia and feeling a bit whiny. She admitted that she had been having a shiteous week, but, that she’d decided to do something about it. (She also shared this with me, and I scored 5/12 — my 6-year-old self would be so disappointed, and also confused.)

Anyway, I list things I’m thankful for each night before I go to bed. Maybe it sounds cheesy, but it helps me calm my mind and remember why I’m excited to wake up the next morning. So, now, I’m going to share a few of those items with you, and I’d love to hear yours in the comments!

The Internet – Without the internet, my profession wouldn’t exist. Not only do I hold jobs that I love, but I also love the people I work with. There’s stress and pressure at times, like in any job, but I laugh enough to more than make up for it. Also, in addition to the internet being the reason I’m friends with quite a few amazing people, it’s also helped me keep in touch with old friends. Internet, I love you.

Kind Strangers – For a couple of weeks, we fostered a beautiful lab mix named Blackie. He was adopted after the first week, but returned, and I started to wonder if I’d be able to give him up. But, the following weekend, a wonderful couple came in and fell in love with him the way I knew somebody would. And when I cried while handing him over, they didn’t scoff — instead, they hugged me.

Options – Our Publix grocery store is about 1/2 a mile away from our house, and I love it. However, when I went in to order my turkey (15-18 pounds, fresh, and free-range), the woman looked at me like, I don’t know, a free-range turkey had just popped out the top of my head. She asked me to explain what I wanted again, so I told her, “Free-range, you know? Cage free? They’re usually organic?” After that, she asked me to just write the terms down. And so, I think I’ll be going to our hippie supermarket for my turkey — sorry, but if the person in your meat department is unfamiliar with those aforementioned terms, I’m thinking another location might be a better choice.

Funny shirts – I’m currently wearing a “Check Meowt” tee supporting Feral for Life, which helps rescuers help cats. Every time I look down at it, I giggle. Some outfits make me feel good because I think they’re pretty, or flattering, or have a good memory associated with them. This is just pure fun.

Rest days – While I actually feel great, my knees are really, really happy to have a day off from running. Five miles on Saturday — anybody want to come with me?

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There’s a reason dogs hang out in the kitchen when you’re cooking. They’re hoping that someone will drop the sour cream, and that, upon hitting the floor, the container will pop open and the contents will splatter all over the kitchen wall, the dishwasher (on the opposite side of the kitchen), and the floor.

What they don’t expect is for it to splatter all over them.

rudi-sour-cream-incident

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I know I’ve said it before, but I truly don’t think I could have two dogs with more opposite personalities. I took them over to my friends’ house, friends who have a four-year-old Golden Retriever and Rudi’s sister. Rudi and her sister don’t look much alike — Rudi is tall, skinny, and has short black fur with a little white on the chest. Her sis, Ariyah, is tall, has long black, brown, gray, and white fur, and … is decidedly not skinny. However, their mannerisms are almost identical

The two sisters and Blue, the Golden, love nothing more than playing nonstop. Yuki, on the other hand, would far prefer the other dogs be locked outside so she can have all the people to herself.

Oh, and also? While Yuki spends a good bit of her time hiding her butt so Blue can’t hump her, Rudi, my sweet little baby girl, spends a good bit of her time doing the humping. Awesome.

For more dog awesomeness, you’ve got to check out this post. Seriously.

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dscn3096Could she look more pathetic? (She could, but she’d have to take lessons from Yuki to manage it.)

Jared and the dogs play a game every morning. As he brushes his teeth, he lunges at Rudi, who grabs a toy and runs away. Yuki barks at Rudi for being an idiot. Then Rudi returns and the whole thing starts over again, repeating for a few minutes each morning. Fun, I know.

I’m trying to play, but apparently, I’m doing something wrong, because nobody seems to get too excited when I lunge. Instead, Rudi follows me around, holding a toy and looking sad. Of course, Yuki’s not far away, ready to growl and bark the moment Rudi starts to play.

I think we need a better game. Maybe we can just play “cuddle.”

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This weekend, in addition to the Gators’ big win over Georgia (Go, Gators!), I had a race. Although, nobody was drinking cocktails or tailgating for my event, so you probably didn’t hear about it. But, my friend Meredith and I did the Dog Days 5k, which benefitted the UF Vet School (I think).

And we did really well — we finished the whole thing in 30:15, so I know, not fast by “real” runners’ standards, but good for us, especially considering the course, which consisted of one GIANT hill and a bunch of smaller ones. I’m super proud to say that, while we might have had people passing us on the flat portions, we did all the passing on the uphill portions. Because we are badasses.

Afterward, Meredith’s husband ran the one mile fun run with their adorable pooch, Mya (also a Puppy Hill Farm baby). My husband would have run with Yuki, I’m sure, only he was in Jacksonville at The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.

Believe it or not, this picture was taken almost immediately after the race, which is why Meredith and I are stricking superhero poses. Don’t we look like we could totally do it again?

(I’m so glad we didn’t have to do it again.)

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