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Guest Post: Finding My Forever Family

IMG_4559Hi! My name is Coaly and I am a one year old, black lab mix.  I am guest blogging today to give my mom a break!  I wanted to share a little bit about my story and how I met my new family.  I hope you like this and, if you do, I’ll write every once in a while to tell you what I’ve been up to.

I don’t like to talk about the beginning of my life so I am just going to start from when I first came to Colorado…The nice people from the The Rocky Mountain Lab Rescue made plans to move me from Arkansas to Colorado in hopes of me finding my forever home.  So, on September 28th, 2016 I was put into a cage early in the morning and loaded in to the back of a U-Haul with a ton of other barking, yappy dogs.  I didn’t really know this was the start of my long journey to find my forever home, but it was definitely a big change from my days in the pound.   We rode all day, picking up new pups along the way, until we ended up in a parking lot in Aurora, Colorado.  There was a Petco close to where the U-Haul stopped so I already had a good feeling about this place!  Once we had arrived a volunteer got me out of my cage, walked me down the ramp and there were two goofy people waiting for me.  They seemed really excited to see me but I was a little skeptical – who were these random people standing in the middle of huge parking lot waiting for me?!  I had no idea who they were or where they were going to take me, but I was pretty excited to be off the hot, stinky, U-Haul truck.  The goofy people were super nice to me and they had TREATS so I decided to play along and see where this relationship was going.  I was on my best behavior while the rescue checked me out and microchipped me and before too long I found myself getting in another car!  I thought my travel was over for the day!  But, this car was much nicer and the goofy guy stayed in the back seat to keep me company while the goofy girl and a giant, furry dog sat in the front seat.    We drove down a highway with lots of lights and buildings for about an hour and then the car slowed and pulled into a driveway.  We got out of the car and the goofy people took me and the furry dog to the backyard of a house.  The yard was HUGE!  There was lots ofIMG_4572 room to run and a big apple tree.  I was so excited to be out the car I just ran and ran and ran.  I did stop to check out the furry dog who I found out was named Paterno.  Paterno seemed cool, but maybe a little lazy.  He liked to play for a little bit but seemed to get tired quickly and always wanted to lay down.  After we played in the backyard for a while the goofy people took me inside the house.   Inside there was a couch, some comfy chairs, a bed, and a basket full of toys – this place seemed alright.  The goofy people took me in a room where there was a cage set-up just for me.  It had a big fluffy blanket inside and even though I had no intention of hanging out in the cage it was nice that they had set it up for me before I got there.  I was a little upset that my cage didn’t seem to be in the same room as the goofy people and the furry dog, but I could work on that later.  After I checked out my new digs IMG_4564I found that there was a bowl in kitchen just for me.  The goofy people put some Puppy Chow in the bowl and I scarfed it down – and then I ran over to eat Paterno’s food too.  The goofy people seemed a little upset that I was eating Paterno’s food but I was REALLY hungry.  Remember, I was in that hot truck all day and I was super skinny – you could see all my ribs – of course I was hungry!  For the rest of the night I explored the house and the yard and decided this was a pretty nice place to be and the goofy people and the furry dog seemed pretty nice and they seemed to be really excited to have me in their house, so I would give it a try.

I have to admit I was not very clean when I met the goofy people.  What can you expect after riding in the back of a U-Haul for over 12 hours?  After I had settled in to the house a bit the goofy people got a hair brained idea that they would give me a bath.  Before I could even realize what was going on I was in the bath tub with the goofy girl and the goofy guy was standing guard to make sure I didn’t try to jump out of the tub.  I pretended that I didn’t really like the bath but it felt SO good to get clean and the belly rubs and scratches behind the ears were heavenly.  After it was over the rubbed me all over with a clean towel and I felt amazing!  I ran all over the house rubbing my wet body on all the furniture.  It was so much fun!

Once it got dark outside it was time to go to bed and the goofy people took me to the room with my cage in it.  I was less than excited to get in the cage, but I finally did and the goofy people said good night, turned off the light, and closed the door.  Now comes the embarrassing part – I started to cry and whimper and I just couldn’t stop.  I was so lonely and scared in this new place and I couldn’t help myself!  Luckily, the goofy people took pity on me and came to visit me in my room.  While they didn’t let me out of the cage (Rats!) they did stay and keep my company.  The goofy guy even laid next to my cage for the entire night so I wasn’t so scared!  I think I might like it around here…IMG_4568

While I was a little nervous at first being in a new place with new people and a new dog, it didn’t take me long to decide that this family was pretty cool and I would adopt them.  I love my big brother, Paterno, and I while sometimes he acts like I bother him I know he really loves me and I am keeping him young by playing with him ALL THE TIME!  I love the goofy people too and they keep me pretty busy too.  I run with my mom and go for hikes with my mom and dad.  I recently heard them say that next year they think I’ll be big enough and strong enough to tackle my first 14’er.  I’m not sure what a 14’er is, but I am really excited!  I may be bad every once in a while,  but it’s never on purpose, and I am trying really hard to be better.   But, I do have to remind my people that I am still a puppy and I still have a lot to learn.

Thanks so much for reading my first blog post about how I met my family.  I can’t believe I’ve been with my family for almost a year!  My life might not have started off good, but it’s definitely great now!

Do you have anyone in your family that found their forever home?  What was their story like?

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Remembering My Best Friend

thumb_DSC_7248_1024A year ago today I lost my best friend – today I fondly remember my best friend.  A year ago today was a horrible, awful day – today was a rough day, but it was a lot better.  A year ago today there were constant tears that felt like they would never end – today there are still occasional tears, but there are many more smiles and laughter.  A year ago today I never thought the pain would go away – today there is still pain, but the pain is dulled.  A year ago today I felt weak and helpless – today I feel strong and hopeful.

Throughout her life Nittany taught me so much and in her passing she has continued to be my teacher.  The most important lesson she has taught me in the past year is that I am so much stronger than I ever imagined.  It took strength to do what was best for Nittany and to make sure she didn’t live in pain anymore and it took strength to wake up each day in the days and weeks after she was gone and continue living.  After I lost Nittany I lost a piece of who I was.  It takes a lot of strength to come back from that dark place, but I did.  But, once you do, you realize your own strength and that you are capable of a lot more than you ever imagined.  I just kept telling myself that Nittany would not want me to be sad and cry all the time, she would want me to continue living and so, as hard as it was, I found the strength to keep moving forward.

Today, and every day, I remember Nittany and what a powerful impact she had on my life and how lucky I was to have been her dog mom.

Lazy Lab

How Could I Forget this Feeling?!

This weekend was supposed to be a great weekend away.  I was excited about the getaway but there was a lot that needed to be done before I headed out of town to meet Brandon in Gunnison.  I had to work in the morning and host a big meeting, pack, get the house ready for the pet sitter, track down our new iPhones that were being shipped separately and by different carriers, and get out of the house so I could make the 3 ½ hour drive in time for dinner.  This was all after a super stressful work week with lots of events whose success laid on my shoulder and a 12 hour day.  There was a lot on my to do list and suddenly I notice a huge lump on our dogs ear.  Paterno had a hematoma on his ear in August that the vet drained and said either it would come back or not – it chose to come back twice as large as the first one.  So, along with everything else that needed done I also needed to run Paterno to the emergency vet to make sure it was okay to leave him with the pet sitter for the weekend.  We get to the emergency vet and were told our wait would be several hours.  I could feel the minutes ticking away and myself getting later and later.  One of the vet techs took mercy on me and told me she would look at Paterno and let me know if he needed to be seen that day or if we could schedule something for later in the week.  She checked him over and told me the hematoma was relatively small (I would hate to see a large one because this one seemed pretty crazy) and scheduled Paterno for an appointment and potential surgery on Tuesday.  I ran Paterno back home, finally tracked down our phones, and headed out the door with exactly 3 ½ hours until our scheduled dinner.  While I finally made it out the door and on my way to our mini-vacation I just felt stressed and anxious.

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Fast forward a couple of hours…I made is safely to Gunnison, enjoyed a nice dinner, and headed to an observatory to check out the stars.  As we are getting ready to leave the observatory all sorts of warning lights lit up my dashboard and stated with quite urgency that I needed to have my car serviced.  But, it was almost 10pm in a town that doesn’t have a Chevy dealership that is open on the weekends.  I tried to put the car trouble out of my mind and decided that now is a good time to activate my new iPhone 7.  To match the rest of my day the phone would not transfer my old data and just kept giving me all sorts of error messages.  Finally, I surrendered to the day and tried to sleep but spent the night tossing and turning stressing out about Paterno, the car, and the thought that I’m wasn’t going to be to have any phone access.

When the alarm went off I get out of bed and still feeling overwhelmed and anxious.  I realized I was on a mini-vacation and I am too stressed to enjoy it.  I was being snappy and mean and felt like I was seconds from a full-fledged panic attack.

img_4481Now that I have set the stage of my fragile mental state I will fill in the details about my running.  Last Friday I decided, on a whim, I was going to get a tattoo on my foot (the tattoo wasn’t a whim I had been planning that for months, waking up one day and deciding today was the day I was going to get it was the whim).  The tattoo artist said I shouldn’t run for three days but after that it should be okay.  After three days I was still nervous and decided to take a whole week off to let the tattoo heal.  For some reason I irrationally thought that running would cause the tattoo to wear off (I do realize that is not realistic, but that is what my weird mind kept telling me).  So, Saturday morning it had been eight days since my last run with the plan to go for a run Saturday morning in Gunnison while Brandon was at his conference.

So, in the midst of my mental breakdown, I decided there was nothing I could really do about any of my issues at the moment and I would go for a quick run and deal with everything when I got back.  I put on my running clothes, carefully slathered my tattoo with tattoo goo, put on some super soft socks, my shoes and headed out the door.   In Gunnison at 8am in September the temperature is 32 degrees.  I was completely unprepared for this and was just wearing my running shorts and a long sleeve t-shirt.  The upside of this was I was ready to run from the very beginning just to warm up.  Because it had been awhile since my last run I just told myself if I could make it three miles I would call it good.  I set out running around the neighborhoods and downtown of Gunnison and then headed east of town to the Western State University campus.  The longer I ran the better I felt.  The beautiful sunshine, the fresh crisp air, and the new scenery was exactly what I needed.  One mile quickly turned in to two and before I knew it I was rounding out six miles.    As soon as I get in to the groove of running I love being out there but I have to play mind tricks with myself to get started so I can get in that groove.  At an even 10k I ended my run and headed back to our hotel.

The run was exactly what I needed.  When I got back from my run I felt at peace, focused, calm, and ready to tackle my to do list.  I contacted Onstar to figure out what to do with my car and they said that it wasn’t really urgent and I should be able to make it home and I should set-up an appointment for next week (the should was a little concerning but in my new mental state I could deal with it).  While I was away I had connected my new iPhone to my MacBook and when I got back it had worked out its issues and downloaded all my data and music and was ready to be activated.   I was still stressed about work stuff and dog stuff but it all suddenly felt so small and manageable when just an hour before it felt like the end of the world.

This summer has sucked and when I should have been running the most to deal with the stress, I did just the opposite and used my running time in the morning to sleep in and try to escape reality and it just ended up compounding the problems.  This weekend was a huge wake-up call that no matter what I need to make running a priority.   Running is my natural stress, anxiety, and depression buster and I need to never forget that.  I don’t want to end up back on the verge of a panic attack because that is a horrible feeling!  I am excited about the new week, the healed tattoo, and the reminder about how important it is to take the time for yourself.  Find the activity that centers you and don’t make excuses for not taking the time for yourself.  I am so excited that I found this feeling again and I am going to work my butt off not to lose it again.img_4501

 

 

More Adventures in Fostering…and Boogie’s Happy Ending

We have successfully survived out first weekend as foster parents.  It had its highs and lows and ups and downs but at the end of the weekend Boogie has found an amazing home…and it’s not us J  I know we had many doubters who thought Boogie would end up the next member of the English family.  But instead Boogie will be leaving us on Thursday to move to Georgetown and start his new life with his amazing forever family.

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Fostering has been a very educational experience.  Boogie was a dog like no other.  We have been parents to a black lab golden retriever and a golden retriever that we got as itty bitty puppies.  Both had lived pretty charmed lives before coming to our home and came without any trauma or emotional baggage.  Boogie was a completely different story.  We have no idea what his life was before he got to us but we can tell it wasn’t good.  He was nervous and timid and afraid of everything except Paterno.  His second day with us involved a trip to the vet to find out what was going on with his ears and to check out a scratch on his leg.  They found a bacterial infection and he was immediately put on antibiotics.  The trip to the vet pretty much terrorized him and he retreated to his crate for the remainder of the day.  Friday he spent the day with Brandon and was showered with love and more importantly…treats!  We found that Boogie is pretty food motivated and was starting to take food out of our hands.  He still didn’t allow us to pet him but he was accepting bribes which was a good sign.  Saturday was another terrorizing event when the first family that was considering adopting him came to visit.  He hated that experience more than he hated Brandon and I.  He wouldn’t come out of his cage to meet them and when we finally pulled him out of his safe spot he just stood on his leash shivering with nervousness.  The family didn’t really seem interested in the intense time commitment it would take to get Boogie to the point of being a “real” dog and headed out pretty quickly letting us know they would call us if they were interested…they never called back (and we were okay with that).  The rest of Saturday he retreated back to his crate once again only coming out to eat and go outside.  On Sunday Boogies luck changed.  A second family came to meet Boogie and they immediately fell in love with him (he is pretty cute and lovable despite is current personality).  Boogie was his usual illusive self but even with that they loved him and could see him as part of their family.  For the first time I knew Boogie was going to be okay and had found his forever home. After meeting his new family Boogie was ready for some more alone time and once again retreated to his crate.  For the rest of the weekend we have been working with Boogie trying to get him more comfortable with his surrounding and people in hopes of a smoother transition to his forever home.  He has been making baby steps but often heads to his crate for sanctuary.  We are excited when Boogie chooses to be the same room as us for a couple of seconds or lets us touch him…like I said, baby steps.

The taking care of Boogie has been the easy part.  We know how to keep a dog healthy and safe so we just brought Boogie in to his family and treated him like our dog.  The difficult parts have been the emotional parts of fostering that we never consider.   Wondering if Boogie would get a family, meeting a family who was a horrible fit for him and wondering if the potential adopters would all be like that, thinking Boogie might live with us forever even though he wasn’t exactly the dog we wanted, and finally the relief of finding the perfect family for him.  Fostering can turn in to quite the emotional rollercoaster.   The first day or so I was so upset and even a little depressed that Boogie didn’t want anything to do with me and feeling so bad for the life he lived before making his way to Colorado.  But, I realized that I can’t focus on that I can only meet him where he is, be there for him, and not to take anything personal.  I was doing the best I could do.

We know that dogs like Boogie need a good family but he just wasn’t the best fit for our family.  Paterno wasn’t that excited about having a puppy who would only pay attention to him (Paterno enjoys snuggling and cuddling and had gotten used to being the center of attention) and we want a dog who will cuddle and let us touch them.  Also, I am pretty sure we want a female dog because we need to even up the boys vs. girls team around here!   Like I said fostering has been a very educational experience.  We were happy to share our home with Boogie but I think there is a part of us that is excited for him to go to his forever home on Thursday.   I am excited to be able to clean the house and doing laundry without scaring the bejesus out of Boogie and Paterno is looking forward to snoozing on the living room floor without being pounced on by a puppy!

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Adventures in Rescue Fostering

thumb_DSC_7248_1024Today would have been Nittany’s 13 birthday.  Thanks to Facebook I woke up with a ton of memories of past birthdays.  Throughout this process I have realized the power of posting things on Facebook.  In the moment you are just sharing a quick memory or giving people a little view in to your life.  Years later when the memories pop back up it can transport you back to a different time in your life and it brings back a wave of memories and emotions.  After losing a pet they can be bitter sweet memories with lots of smiles and tears.  While it can hurt at times I do like starting each day with these memories.

The point of this post is not to spend more time grieving but rather give an update on what we’ve been up to lately.  After we lost Nittany we couldn’t even imagine getting another dog.  But, as the weeks passed the house was feeling empty without a second pup.  Paterno has adjusted to being only dog but we were afraid he might be a little lonely.  We didn’t want to jump in to getting another dog but we did start seriously talking about potentially fostering dogs for a rescue.  (We have fostered before and that is how we ended up with Paterno – so we totally know that fostering can be a slippery slope that could bring a second dog in to our family permanently but we are determined for that not to happen this time.)  We talked a little about what breed of dog we would want to foster and ended up deciding our experiences with Nittany were amazing and we wanted to help other labs and lab mixes find their forever homes so we applied to be a foster family for the Rocky Mountain Lab Rescue.  After a phone interview and a home visit we were approved!  I completely understand why they have to go through the process of the interview and home visit but the entire time I just kept thinking isn’t the fact we have kept two dogs alive for 10+ years enough of a track record?!  Yes, our lab had recently died but it was for something that was not our fault and we gave her the best life right up until the end.  Yes, our other dog has a neurological disease, but again, totally not our fault and we have been successfully treating his condition for almost two years.

So fast-forward from getting approved to agreeing to take our first foster dog.  We got an email last Sunday with the information about the dogs that would be coming in on the transport this week.  After all the anticipation of applying for and getting approved to foster I somehow had gotten cold feet.  I wasn’t sure if we were ready for another dog yet, even on a temporary basis.  So, I didn’t respond to the first request for fosters and hoped that other foster families would step-up and take the dogs that came in this week.  As the beginning of the week wore on the emails got more urgent the guilt set in and on Tuesday afternoon I finally pulled the trigger and said that we would be available to foster this week and selected a cute 4-6 month old black lab mix named Boogie.  Tuesday night I went to the store and bought some puppy supplies (it’s been a REALLY long time since we had a puppy in the house) and got ready for the pup’s arrival on Wednesday.

Wednesday night after work we headed east of the city to the drop-off, pick-up spot.  We had to drive to the DIA area at rush hour – it was a great way to start the evening.  Paterno came along because the pick-up time was at the exact same time he needed his medicine.  They told us that the transport van would meet us at the Petco parking lot at 6pm and we patiently waited for a passenger van to arrive with the pups.  At a couple minutes after 6pm a moving van pulled up and someone jumped out, ran around to the back and opened the door to reveal cage after cage of dogs that had been rescued.  There were probably 30 dogs on the van all coming from points east and going to all the different rescues in the Denver metro area.  There were huge dogs and tiny dogs coming down the ramp of the van and going to their respective foster families.  Some dogs were so excited to be off the van they bounded down the ramp and other dogs that were so scared and timid they had to be carried.  After what felt like forever they finally unloaded Boogie.  Boogie was so nervous coming off the van and tried to ran from every loud noise and sudden move.  From the beginning we knew Boogie had the potential of being a handful.  After we let Boogie get a little comfortable and used to being off the van we had to get him checked out by the amazing Rocky Mountain Lab Rescue volunteers.  The checked him over and gave him his microchip.  Boogie has some strange bumps on his ears and a scratch on his tummy that the volunteers requested we get checked out by a vet.  After the initial excitement we introduced Boogie to Paterno (who became fast friends) and headed to the car for the ride back home.

During the car ride Boogie was a complete angel.  He just stared out the window at the passing scenery and seemed to be a little more comfortable.  When we arrived home his nerves returned and he was very nervous about everything in the house (except Paterno). Because he didn’t really seem comfortable insider he spent some of this first evening in the backyard chasing moths.  He seemed to feel more comfortable outside and we wanted him to be as comfortable as possible.  After it was too dark to see a black dog in the backyard (and we didn’t want to be the people who lose their first foster dog) we came inside and got Boogie settled in to his crate.  Boogie really seems to like his crate and chooses to go there whenever he gets nervous or afraid so we just made his crate available to him and let him settle in for the night.  IMG_4432

While we successfully made it through day one of fostering we knew there was a lot more to come…Continue to check in for your adventures in adopting.

With a lot of rescue dogs they don’t come with any history so you don’t really know where they came from or what their lives were before they got to Colorado.  There are so many things that could have happened to Boogie to make him so fearful and timid.  It was our job to make him as comfortable as possible until he can find his forever home.

 

 

Good Grief

good griefI am not known for being an overly emotional person.  If you ask anyone (other than my husband) they will agree that I am pretty even-kelled.  (My lucky husband on the other hand gets to see the good, bad, and ugly of my emotions.)  I never cried in front of people and it was rare that people knew when I was upset, mad, or sad.  That was until recently.  With the passing of our pup Nittany so much has changed in our lives from our routine to our conversations to planning for the future.  The one biggest thing that has changed for me personally is my ability to keep my shit together emotionally.  I have found myself bursting in to tears at work when I look at a picture of Nittany, in the car when a song comes on the radio that Nittany and I used to do puppy dance party to, and everywhere in between when I remember something about Nittany.  The tears are both happy and sad but they come so unexpectedly that I feel like a ticking time bomb.

Yesterday was my birthday and I was having a great day with friends.  Suddenly, I was overwhelmed with grief that I could not shake.  I would just burst in to tears and feel so sad.  At first I thought it was because I was growing another year older but age has never bothered me and I knew deep down that wasn’t the cause.  When I really thought about it, and with something prodding from my husband, I realized my overwhelming sadness was a memory I had from a couple of months ago when I said “the only thing I want for my birthday is for Nittany to be there.”  I think I said this when we first figured out what was going on with her health and she was still relatively healthy.  When I remembered this statement on my birthday I was thrown into a tail spin.  I felt so sad that Nittany wasn’t there and then I felt so guilty and angry for being selfish enough to wish she was here even knowing how sick she was at the end of her life.

Grief is such a weird thing.  It comes out of no where.  You are cruising along throughout the day, enjoying yourself, and there it is lurking around the corner.  You feel like you are feeling better and making progress and then is just smacks you across the face and reminds you about whatever you are grieving.  Time passes and you are starting to feel confident that the memories are only going to be warm and fuzzy and suddenly you are taken down to your knees with sadness and heartache.  Even with the grief I know I am making progress forward but I was just so unprepared for how much it would hurt.

RUNMy running has been a huge area where I have been struggling lately (see sometimes the Jolly Runner talks about running).  It started out being tough to run because Nittany wasn’t there to welcome my back, so I was avoiding runs during the week.  I was still running on the weekend because that was a different routine where Nittany wasn’t as big of a part of my return home. Because I am in a training plan for my next half marathon in October my runs have been longer which give you a lot of time to think.  I have grown to despise this time in my head.  Eight miles of just being in your own head can be healing but it can also be painful.  Running around town I see all types of dogs with their families and it is a reminder of what I’ve lost.  During and after runs in the past I have experienced the normal “runners high,” feeling strong, happy, and confident. Lately the “runners high” has been overly emotional and while I feel more energetic I also seem to be sadder too.   This time in my head and the sadness that follows makes me want to just take a break from running but I couldn’t even imagine what kind of emotional mess I would be in a cut out running all together.

People have given me great ideas on how to handle the loss of Nittany and I appreciate the ideas and words of encouragement but one thing I have learned is that everyone grieves differently and there is no right or wrong way to grieve.  The only think I have learned for sure is that it’s good, and necessary, to grieve.  If you try to keep all those feelings inside you might explode, but most importantly you are not letting yourself heal.  I want to thank everyone who has been along with me on this strange journey and especially my husband for being my rock and walking this road of good grief with me.   Thanks for listening to my ramblings and letting me grieve through my blog.

 

The New Norm

I want to start by thanking everyone for their kind words and thoughts last week as our family was grieving the loss of Nittany.  We were overwhelmed with how many people reached out to share with us their thoughts and memories of Nittany.  It did not take us long to realize that our family and friends may actually have preferred the company of Nittany over the company of us…and I really don’t blame you.  Nittany was by far the coolest member of our family.

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We’ve gone through a lot of the stages of grief and will continue to for a long time, if not forever, but there are more smiles and laughs than tears and for that I am grateful.  We are remembering the good times, the crazy antics and just trying to get used to the new norm of being a family of three.  The one that is probably taking the new family dynamics the hardest is Paterno.  Important Note:  Paterno is our epileptic, soon to be 10-year-old, golden retriever that we rescued from the Golden Retriever Freedom Rescue when he was going to be killed by his owner because he had a birth defect and one deformed paw.  Paterno is suddenly in the family spotlight and we aren’t sure if he is quite ready for that responsibility.  I will start the next thought by saying we were not neglecting Paterno in any way, he was always healthy and well fed, but for the past several months Nittany and her health have been an all-consuming part of our lives.  This allowed Paterno to sneak under the radar and a couple balls got dropped.  While going through medical records we realized he was a little late on some vaccines (not really the important ones) and he was possibly getting a little pudgy because he was (not so) secretly eating the food Nittany would leave in her bowl.  We also realized we couldn’t exactly put our finger on the last time he was groomed.  So, as the spotlight shifted we began “Operation Make Paterno the Best Most Awesome Dog Ever.”  Paterno was groomed within the week and vet appointments set to get him update-to-date on vaccines and get a good overall physical from the vet.  The last piece of “Operation Make Paterno the Best Most Awesome Dog Ever” was to work on his physical stamina.  Paterno is not the most athletic dog in the world (having three good paws on one mediocre paw keeps expectations low) but we decided that some sort of regular physical exercise would do him good.  So daily walks commenced.  For the last week and a half the family has set out on family walks every night (except Sunday because, you know, that’s the day of rest).  Each day we have lengthened the walk and we are proud to announce we might be up to a half a mile.  Paterno is actually much more excited about the walks than the first couple days and his stamina is improving daily.  We do have a small issue with his bad paw bleeding from where he rubs it on the cement, but we are working on it.  All in all I feel like “Operation Make Paterno the Best Most Awesome Dog Ever” is progressing very smoothly.

PT2

As Paterno has transitioned to the top dog in the house we have noticed some peculiar characteristics that we may not have fully embraced in the past.  It did not take us long to realize that Paterno is not your average dog and, in fact, there are times when we question if he is actually a dog.   Apparently his dog like characteristics were just him mimicking everything that Nittany was doing and in reality we had never taught him how to be a real dog.  I suppose this is very similar to what happens to parents and their second child.  You spend all your time and effort on your first child making sure everything is perfect and by the time you get to the second one you are just too tired to really care and you just figure it will all turn out okay.  Paterno has never been a barker, in the past his barking was always instigated by Nittany.  In the past week and a half he hasn’t made a single sound.  It’s like he’s a dog mime.  The silence is a little creepy and it’s taking a little time to get used to.  He does not ask to go outside or let us know when he is hungry.  If he needs either of these things he just silently lays in the kitchen until one of us passes through and guesses what he wants.  He does not greet you when you come home or really acknowledge your existence at all.  His complete lack of interest in interacting with us actually had us Googling the symptoms of autism in dogs (on a positive note we think we have ruled this out).  He is not excited by the arrival of delivery food and just lays quietly until the food has been paid for, we’ve had a nice conversation with the delivery man, and we get the food on to plates.  At this point he may come over to investigate further, but if he’s really comfortable where he’s laying he probably won’t.  Paterno also has no interest in other dogs.  On a recent walk we must have passed 10-15 dogs on one block and he didn’t glance at any of them.  The dogs were barking and racing up and down their yards trying to get his attention and he just moseyed by.  A guard dog Paterno is not.  Nittany did not let anyone come within a quarter mile radius of our house without her alerting us to their presence.  If someone broke in to our house Paterno would simply leave us to join their family, all Dug style from Up.

Dug

There is a ton of adjustment going on in our family right now and I think we will all get in to the groove of the new normal but I have my doubts that Paterno will ever turn in to a real dog, and I guess that is our new norm.