Saturday, October 20, 2018

Jake's 1st Birthday!

The weather is unusually cold and rainy for this time of October. Typically we'd be enjoying days with temps in the low 50's and the autumn leaf color would be at peak. But this morning it was a chilly 38 degrees with howling winds and snow flurries and most of our leaves have blown off already from the stormy rains and winds of the past week or two. Instead of a fun hiking excursion like I had planned, we stuck to the backyard and playing at Alan's house today since the windchill was pretty cold. We took advantage of the occasional bouts of sunshine peeking out from clouds to play outside in the yard and took a long scenic drive as well.

JAKE ~ 6 months old (adoption day!)

JAKE ~ 1 year old!

Jake has been with our family for just a little over 6 months now... and today is his first birthday! It's hard to imagine that around this time last year he was born as a stray in Texas... and now he's a pampered pup in Wisconsin! Strange how life works sometimes.

Jake continues to grow but his weight-gain has slowed a bit in the last few weeks and I'm hoping he'll plateau soon. I took him to the vet this morning to get weighed and get a refill of his Bravecto tick meds. His official weight today is 54.5 lbs, which means he's gained about 24 lbs in 6 months. My big boy!!!

We went to the pet store after the vet's office and let Jake pick out some treats. He always seems mostly interested in the smoked bone display but since I'm not a big fan of those treats, we always bypass it. But today I let him have one... and Charlie got one too. I think he's pretty happy with his treat selection.

VIDEO (Jake's Birthday Bone):

Jake is pretty adorable when he gets a special treat like a bully stick, beef trachea or duck foot. He always gives me this look of surprise when he first takes the treat in his mouth, like he can't believe what a lucky boy he is! Then he runs into the living room and tosses the treat up in the air a few times. He then races downstairs to show Grandma his treat and toss it up in the air a few times for her to see too. Then he comes racing back upstairs into the living room to roll around with it a few minutes before he finally starts actually eating it. Usually by this time, Charlie has either eaten her treat completely or is almost finished. Then as Jake takes his sweet time enjoying his treat, Charlie gives me the "stink eye" like I gave him a bigger treat or more treats than her and that is why he still has some and hers is gone.

Jake is a cuddle-bug. I've never had such a cuddly dog... and I absolutely love it! Jake always wants to be near me and at night he glues himself next to me in bed. He gives kisses by putting his snout right up to your mouth or nose. He has an affinity for sniffing things very hard! He'll put his nose right on something and inhale deeply. Sometimes I wonder what exactly he's smelling or why some things are so darn interesting! Just the other morning, he was lying on the bathroom floor while I got ready for work and he stuck his nose right into the crack between two tiles and inhaled so deeply and for so long! I just laughed at my big goofball. Not sure what he was sniffing, but whatever it was, it had his undivided attention.

VIDEO (Jake was pretty excited about the snow!):

We still haven't put a lot of work into "training" Jake on commands. He understands the basics (and honestly I think he knows more than he lets on), but sometimes he just gives us this blank stare with the cutest face. It's hard to resist those eyes. He could also just be stubborn. Who knows. I'm not ready to push him to learn. I accept him for who he is and understand that he's a different dog than Charlie. Where Charlie is all about toys and playing and games to keep her mind active, Jake is more about giving and receiving love. Having these two dogs is the perfect balance of everything you could want in pets - one very play-driven and one very loving.

Jake starts doggie daycamp next week. Just one day a week to get him socialized with other dogs and give him a full day of playtime. I think Charlie will also enjoy this "day off" to just nap and relax without having Jake trying to instigate wrestling and playtime. We'll take it week by week and see how he does. Two of my friends have their dogs at this daycare so I think it'll be a good opportunity for Jake to get to know them so we can have playdates together in the future.

Jake and Peanut in the backseat, Charlie of course is in front.

Both dogs have been spoiled with a lot of new toys and treats lately. Alan buys them stuff for when we're at his house and I have multiple bins of toys at my place now. We rotate the toys to make sure they always have something "new" to play with. Jake has a short attention span when it comes to toys and his favorite activity is taking each toy out of the bin (one by one), playing with it for 30 seconds and then getting a new toy. After I pick up all the toys and put them away, he starts over. My house looks like a disaster all the time because it's impossible to keep the toys picked up. But I love that "lived in" look of a house with a dog.

Today is a special day but it is also a day just like all the other days. These dogs are the center of my world and they know so much love. We don't save it up for special days; every day is special.

Happy Birthday Jake!

Here are a few photos from Jake's foster family when they first got him back in February (he was found with his other littermates in a field in Texas, abandoned and starving at almost 4 months old, all of them had giardia and ringworm - Jake bears the scars on his left side from ringworm where his fur won't grow back):

Jake (right) with one of his littermates during their rescue.

Jake (right) with one of his littermates during their rescue.

Jake at his foster family... slowly getting well and putting on weight.

Jake with his foster family.

Jake learning how to do stairs at his foster family.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

High Water

After several days in a row of gray and rainy skies, it finally cleared yesterday afternoon! Blue skies were visible through dissipating clouds and the sun came out. It was beautiful.

So when I arrived home from work, I announced to everyone that we were going to the park to enjoy the weather before it turned cold and windy the next day. Mom got Peanut ready and we loaded all the dogs and Peanut's stroller into the car.

The air at the park was warm and humid and a  low level of mist swirled around parts of the field and path. On the path to the park, we could hear the Wisconsin River roaring along the banks below us, waves splashing along the shore.



Riverside Park is an island in the Wisconsin River just below the dam in Downtown Wausau, with a sturdy bridge connecting the park to the mainland. There have been times in the past that the entire island is underwater during particularly big spring melts, so we're always prepared to get off the island if we hear the alarm sirens on the dam.

The water was still low enough to cross the bridge, but we could see that most of the island was flooded and we would have to stay on the bridge to stay dry.

That's a park bench they're swimming past.

That didn't stop Charlie and Jake though! They took off splashing through the water and having a great time. I watched to make sure they stayed out of the main channel of the river since the flooded waters were flowing very fast but they seemed content to explore the flooded park.

Mom and I chatted on the bridge, watching the water flowing swiftly beneath us, enjoying the fall colors enveloped in a warm mist and laughing at the dogs running back and forth through the puddles.

Peanut was so happy to be along, safely ensconced in her stroller where she didn't have to worry about being trampled by the bigger dogs. It was so uplifting to finally be outside enjoying the colors of the season and probably one last blast of warm humid air before the reality of the cooler season rolls in tomorrow.

It's a little strange being in the presence of the power of nature. The way the river just goes where it wants, flowing fast and free. Hearing the roar of the water going through the dam just upstream. Watching the seasons change all around us, so fast and fleeting. I had been worried earlier this week that the leaves were going to fall before we had a chance to really enjoy them, but for today we got what we came for and it was bliss.

Charlie got into some burs! What a mess.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Jake @ the Dog Park

Jake had his first trip to the dog park today! I chose Sandy's Bark Park in Rib Mountain since it's only about 4 acres and it's close to home. Our other local dog park in Weston WI is about 40 acres and it's easy to lose track of your dog there.

Since it was Jake's first time, I wanted to make sure I could keep an eye on him and watch out for any aggressive dogs.

We had a great time! Jake did good meeting the other dogs that were there and definitely knew which ones he wanted to play with. This park happens to be really close to a major highway so the background noise was pretty loud.

VIDEO #1 (Sandy's Bark Park - a lot of highway noise and someone with an annoying whistle):

VIDEO #2 (Jake's first time at the dog park):

We stayed for only about 10-15 minutes and by then, Jake was panting pretty good and seemed pretty excited. I didn't want him to get over-stimulated so we cut our visit short. Plus there wasn't a water bowl there so I wanted to get him back to the car so we could get a drink of water from his bowl there.

I ran a couple of errands before heading home, but when we got out of the car at home, he was limping on his back leg. I think he strained it at the park running around too much. I gave him one of his leftover pain pills from having his baby tooth extracted and we're taking it easy the rest of today.

He seems more than happy to snuggle and nap with me. It's another gray, cloudy day so it's a good day for staying in and keeping each other warm.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Dwindling Daylight

This summer flew by way too fast and I'm more than a little sad about it. There's so much that I wanted to do with Jake that we never had time to do.

And as we try to squeeze the most out of these weekdays and the dwindling daylight left after work, I realize that it will likely be snowing in a month or so. What a strange thought.

Because evenings like last night, where the 46 degree temps still feel mild and the river is still open and flowing, and I'm only wearing a sweater, it's hard to think about wearing boots and hats and scarves and being almost too cold to be outside. And yet, it will be here soon.

The funny thing is, watching the dogs romp around and play, I realize there's no point in being sad. They have no concept of it being "too dark to be at the park" or "too cold to go swimming." They do what brings them joy no matter what the circumstances.

So I sit back on my picnic table at the park and soak up the dwindling daylight. I watch them chase each other. I laugh at Jake because he takes a quick dip into the water to go swimming whenever he gets close to the shore and then comes out, shakes off the water and takes off after Charlie again. I marvel at how much of a water-dog he is... you just can't keep him from swimming if water is nearby!



I gaze at the trees beginning to reach peak color and their blurry reflections in the water, enjoying the sound of the swollen river flowing fast, full to the top of the riverbanks from all the recent rain. The darkening sky seems to enhance the fall colors, the leaves turning a darker, deeper color as the light disappears from the sky.


Soon enough, we'll be walking in the dark after work. But for right now, there's still a sliver of light and a chance for a fleeting sunset.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Charlie's 8th Birthday

Crazy to think I've had this girl for almost 8 years. Where does the time go?

When I look back at old blog posts, I remember what a pain in the ass she was back when she was a puppy. So demanding of my time and attention. Always wanting me to do something with her. The hours-long walks we did every single day. The miles of trails we hiked on weekends. All the puzzle games and food games we played to keep her mentally stimulated. The amount of dog behavior and training books I read.

Whew. It makes me tired just thinking about it.

But during those years, we learned each other's language. I can tell what she needs just by a look or watching her body language. She can likely do the same with me. We became a team along the way.

And over this last year, I've noticed she's slowed down quite a bit; not needing quite so much activity. Her anxieties toward other dogs and noises prevented her from getting out as much and she seemed more content and happy to stay home. I just went with the flow and let her do her thing. When I left for a walk or a hike, I asked if she wanted to come along and if she hesitated or walked away from the door, I left her home. That's what she wanted.

But then this spring we added a new dog - Jake. I had hoped he would give Charlie a playmate and bring her the things that she missed out on by being fear-aggressive with other dogs. And it worked! Charlie and Jake have a great time playing together and he's brought new energy into the house.

Charlie has her moments where I can tell she doesn't enjoy sharing attention but I do my best to share the love equally. Plus, now we have Alan in our family and there's so much love and attention to share with everyone.

Charlie's not the same dog she was when I adopted her off Craigslist almost 8 years ago. I'm definitely not the same person I was. We still live in the same house and our routine is mostly the same, but so much of our life has changed.

And that's what happens over time. Things change. Sometimes so slowly you don't even notice.

Happy birthday my sweet Charlie. My love for you still grows daily and I'm so grateful I took the chance on adopting you. You've made my life so much better than it was. You challenge me in ways I never thought a dog could. You make me appreciate when things go easy because of the difficulties we've been through. And you've shown me that going through difficulties only grows bonds stronger.

You'll always be my girl.

VIDEO (Birthday treat!):

Birthday bedtime snack... celery and peanut butter!

Charlie's birthday morning started with bringing out ALL the toys in the living room!
*This post is a day late (Charlie's birthday was October 2nd) because I wanted to actually spend her birthday paying attention to her rather than writing this blog post. Just one of those lessons I've learned from my dogs... live in the moment and be present.*