Our “Winter Break”

Besides my post about Ryder (who is currently in a foster home right now, yay!), I have not blogged since Christmas. I have several excuses, but only a couple of them are legitimate. Here is the biggest one: We’re moving!

Most of my extra time has been spent getting our house ready to sell and looking for a new house. We ended up buying a new house before our house was even on the market, which added some serious stress to our lives. But once we spent a couple weekends touching up some paint and fixing a few things, we listed our house and it sold in two weeks!The Mr. and I couldn’t believe it when we got the offer in and we are officially moving in just a few more weeks.

While I am so happy about how painless the process was, I am struggling to balance the sad emotions of leaving a familiar place with the happiness of a bigger, newer house. On top of that, I have had to think about the dogs’ adjustment and making everything easy for them through the whole process. In the long run, I think the dogs will love the new house. We have a big fenced in yard, a nice neighborhood to walk in and our favorite trail system connects just minutes from our doorstep. The house is about 20 minutes south of Portland, in my hometown of Old Orchard Beach (and more importantly the home of Lisa’s Pizza and Pier Fries!).  So now we will also be about 2 minutes from the beach instead of 20!

Besides dealing with house stuff, our winter break included a lot of snowblowing, playing in the snow, shoveling snow, and oh did I mention snow? IMG_4959 IMG_4976 IMG_4974

With all the snow days and work form home days, the pups got a lot of snuggle time in.IMG_5105 IMG_5168 IMG_5094

Although I haven’t had a lot of spare time to blog, I have kept up on Facebook and Instagram, so make sure you like and follow us there! I will be sharing more about the move later, but for now, here are some of the things that happened during our three months of blog silence (in photos): IMG_5161 IMG_5152 IMG_5120 IMG_5110 IMG_5054 IMG_5040 IMG_5337 IMG_5291 IMG_5269 IMG_5278 IMG_5267 IMG_5242 IMG_5214

 

 

My Time with Ryder

There’s a new dog in my life and his name is Ryder. Although he is not a foster, he is the focus of my free time and volunteering, and I love him.
Ryder 5

Since we foster failed last time and Sarge became a permanent member of our family, our fostering days are over for now. But I still wanted to help dogs in need. I have also wanted to find an organization here in Maine that doesn’t import more dogs into the state, but that helps dogs who need homes here. Luckily, I came across Buddy Up Animal Society whose mission is to help last chance dogs in shelters right here in the state. I contacted them and then met Ryder.

Ryder, like so many other ‘rescue’ dogs, has had a rough beginning to his life. I will spare you the details, but he has had some issues with other dogs, which has made a foster arrangement difficult. He has been in shelters/rescue for over two years. Right now, he is in boarding at a local daycare facility. He loves people so much that being kept in a kennel for most of the day is not ideal for him.
ryderflyer

Because of his lack of a consistent schedule and owner, Ryder really needed a brush up on some of his manners. That is where I came in. He and I enrolled in a six week obedience class geared towards bully breeds, called “Good Bully.” Every Friday night I picked up the handsome boy and we drove down to Finish Forward Dogs, a training studio that is extremely generous in helping train rescue dogs.
ryder class 2

The first night was a little bumpy. He was figuring me out and I was trying to understand him. I could see he had major potential and an eagerness to please, he just has had no rules and boundaries to live by. It was clear that he craves attention from people…and chicken treats! As the weeks went by Ryder’s personality and intelligence shined. He already had a solid sit, but we worked on down, down stays, leave it, place, and leash manners. I really looked forward to our time together each week. It felt like a partnership, and we were progressing together. He was learning manners, and I was learning how to teach manners, both with an end goal of finding him a forever family.Ryder class 5

By the end of the six weeks we had really bonded. I could tell he was happy to see me when I picked him up from boarding. Over the weeks I learned that he could get a little worked up in the car when he’s been in the kennel all day, so bully sticks became a weekly treat for the ride. He really loves food, treats and toys and I was happy to find any excuse to give him some!

To ‘graduate’ from the class Ryder had to pass several tests that included:
Leash Walking- Check, he followed me like a pro!
ryder class 1
15 foot Recall- Check, that boy will follow his people anywhere!
ryder class 4
Sit with no food- Check, he is a pro at this!
ryder class 3
Down with no food- Check, we worked hard on this one!
Stay while another dog walks by- Check, again, as long as you are in sight, he will do whatever you want!

He passed with flying colors and REALLY enjoyed picking out his stuffie at the end! Watch the video, it’s super cute!
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Ryder is really a wonderful dog. He charms everyone he meets, and the staff at the daycare and the trainers at Finish Forward have only great things to say about him. He’s snuggly and affectionate and so very handsome! Although in his past he’s had some issues with other dogs, he’s been improving and I don’t think he absolutely has to be the only dog in a household. Just look at him hanging out with other pups before class:
ryder class 6

It is all about finding the right home with the right dogs that will be the right fit for him. But, boy does he deserve it. He is such a love and has been homeless for way too long. He has so many less ‘issues’ than several of my previous fosters (ahem, Anna) so I can’t figure out why he is still without a family.

He and I are scheduled to take the next installment of the bully manners class, “Better Bully” this month. He is such a good boy and this next class will surely help him improve even more. After another six weeks of training I can only imagine how prepared and ready he will be to find his forever home!

Here is Ryder’s petfinder profile. If you know of anyone looking for an amazing dog to add to their family, please share Mr. Ryder. For more information, contact Buddy Up at info@buddyupanimalsociety.org.

Nola Muffin Monday: My Brother Sargent

When Mom and Dad first brought Sarge to my house (yes, MY house), he was just as much of a pain as every other dog they brought home. I don’t understand why every new dog has to come into my territory and try to tell me that it’s theirs now. It’s not. I am in charge and that is the way it will always be. Sarge tried to show me he wanted to stay by climbing on top of me. I’d have to bark and growl at him to tell him to stop, but he’d still do it! Sometimes, I think he’s just not very smart. Mom and Dad had to help tell him to leave me alone, and THEN he finally listened. He’s such a suck up! But since then, he’s slowly been growing on me. He’s pretty old, and way more slow than the other dogs that stayed here, so he doesn’t bother me as much. He does take my toys right out of my mouth sometimes, which REALLY annoys me, but then he gets in trouble by Mom and Dad (see, he’s not always a saint!). He also is kind of clumsy and knocks things over. Oh, and the WORST thing about him is his tail! I mean, it’s always wagging and he can’t tell how close he is to me so it hits me right in the face. Can you believe it? No respect.nola and sarge curled

The other day Mom and Dad left with him early in the morning and came back home without him. At first, I was pretty happy; I never get the house to myself! But then I saw that Mom and Dad were sad and worried so I knew something was different. When Sarge came back and he had that funny contraption on his head, I understood. Sarge didn’t feel well. IMG_4997

Although I can’t say I love sharing my toys with him, I do think he has been the least annoying sibling to share my house with. And, since he’s been here they haven’t brought home any other fosters. So, I figured I should be nice to him when he’s not feeling good so that they’ll see that I like him a little. nola and sarge snuggle 1

In the spirit of the how-lidays, or whatever it is that make Mom and Dad put up all the lights and put funny smelling boxes under the inside-the-house-tree, I have been trying to make Sarge feel better by snuggling with him. I have realized that he makes a pretty good pillow, and he seems to not mind when I get close to him. I DO appreciate that he doesn’t try to snuggle with me too much; I snuggle on my terms only.Nola Sarge's tail IMG_4992

It seems as though the old guy is staying around for a while, and although I will make sure he still knows I am in charge, I guess it’s ok with me.

The Dreaded ‘C’ Word

It’s probably the worst word you could hear starting with the letter ‘c’. Think about it, most ‘c’ words are happy ones: candy, cookies, cupcakes, cuddles, coffee, Christmas.

But this ‘c’ word is no good. People dread hearing it, and if you do, it changes your life.

 Cancer.

It affects millions of people, and millions of dogs. According to the National Canine Cancer Society, one out of every three dogs will be diagnosed with canine cancer, and of those, half will die from it. It’s pretty scary to think about. And, it’s even scarier now that Sarge is one of them.

Last week I noticed a growth on the inside of his back leg had gotten much larger. He is a pretty lumpy guy in general, he’s old and has lots of skin tags and bumps. But, this one just didn’t seem like the others. After a needle aspiration and a look under a miscroscope, the vet determined it was a mast cell tumor.

Mast cell tumors are the most common skin tumor found in dogs. Older dogs of mixed breeds (like Sarge) have a high susceptibility for the disease. There are three grades of the tumors, based on how aggressive they are. I declined to have Sarge’s tested right away, because our course of treatment would not be any different based on its grade. Bubba boy is too old to be put through chemo or radiation therapy. The tumor will be removed on Thursday, and after that we will find out what stage it is and whether it has spread to other parts of his body.

The Mr. and I are dreading this surgery so much that it hurts. Although he shows no sign of any pain, lameness in his leg, or anything but pure happiness, it is sad to look at him and think our time together could be coming to an end. We knew when we decided to keep Sarge that eventually something like this was probably going to happen. We promised him that we would give him everything he could possibly need or want to live a fantastic life until then. But really, I didn’t think it would happen this soon. It’s only been 8 months since we walked out of the shelter together and only 5 since he was officially our Bubba Boy. His high level of activity, happy spirit and eagerness to please just led me to believe he’d be around forever. I made Nola promise me that she’d be the first dog to live forever, so I was hoping that Sarge would be the second.

While I have a tendency to think the worst, and know that things will probably be fine, it’s still so heartbreaking. You never know how a dog will react to anesthesia, and what his recovery will be like. We will do our best to give him everything he needs to come out of it ok and in as little pain as possible. We just have to hope that his 14 year old body is strong enough to fight along with us.
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Snood Dude

One of the first purchases I made for Sarge when he joined the M&M&NK household permanently was a jacket and a Sirius Republic snood. As an older gentleman, I knew he would need some extra protection from the cold Maine weather. And, it was good timing because we had just gotten a little snowstorm! Nola loves her snood (well maybe not, but I certainly do!) and she’s even a model on the website! Not to be outdone by his supermodel younger sister, Sarge was just as handsome as can be modelling his new accessory. We chose the football pattern for him, because even wearing clothes picked out by his mommy, he has to represent the Mr.’s passion for the manly sport.

Check out this cuteness:

snood1snood4snood2    snood7

snood8

snood6 copy

Thanks again to Sirius Republic for keeping the handsomest elderbull warm this winter!

A Few of Our Favorite Things- Part 2

As the holiday shopping season approaches, I wanted to share some dog related products that we love here at the M&M&NK household. Maybe some of them would make great Christmas presents for the dogs/dog lovers/dog owners in your lives!

headlamoL.L. Bean Headlamp
I don’t know about where you live, but here in Maine in the winter it is dark. Most of the time we walk the dogs before work in the dark, and again after work in the dark. Carrying a flashlight with two dogs who always go opposite directions is nearly impossible. I invested in one of these babies last winter and it made all the difference. Yes, it looks really dumb, like I should be working a coal mine or something, but in this case, it is function over fashion.

L.L. Bean Therapeutic Dog Couchllbeanbed
When Sarge came into our lives we knew he was going to need a bed that gave him more support than the ones we currently had for Nola (all 3 of them). We already had an L.L. Bean bed that we got when Nola was a puppy and we loved the quality of it. It’s no secret that we also like to support Maine based businesses, so we decided to invest in a Therapeutic Couch bed for Sarge. Yes, it’s a bit on the expensive side, but with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, we knew that if something ever happens to the bed we can return it for a brand new one. This particular model is great because it is extra thick with memory foam, is lined with fleece for warmth and softness, and has the bolsters that both the pups love to curl up next to.

vittlesVittles Vault
With two medium-large dogs, we go through a lot of dog food. I usually buy at least one 26 pound bag a month. But, our house doesn’t have a lot of storage space to keep large bags and I couldn’t find a clip that kept the bag closed well enough to keep it fresh. This container fits nicely in our kitchen pantry closet, it’s lid closes tight, and it keeps the pups’ food nice and fresh.

Orbee-Tough MazeePDOG_Mazees_med
If you’re looking for a fun interactive toy that you can’t find in a ‘regular’ pet store, this maze ball is a-maze-balls. Created by another Maine based company (and one we frequent regularly), Planet Dog, the Orbee-Tough Mazee is fun and interactive for the pups. You put a couple of cookies in and as your pups rolls it around the cookies move down the maze, closer and closer to the opening. Nola loves hers and I love that it keeps her busy!

harness2_Comfort Flex Harness
We have used every anti-pull harness available on the market for our fosters. But for Nola, and now Sarge, who both don’t pull regularly, we wanted a harness that was comfortable for them. I really don’t like walking dogs on flat collars alone, for many reasons, including safety and comfort for the dogs. Seeing dogs hacking and gasping for air while their collars are cutting into their necks makes me cringe. These harnesses are padded, IMG_4148have reflective tape for visibility and are great fits for our dogs with deep chests.

I like the sizing too, with the half sizes- Nola is a M/L because she’s sorta in between (she has a deep chest, but not too wide), where Sarge is a true L (with his deep WIDE stature). They come and a bunch of different colors and are pretty reasonably priced. Again, it is not a good anti-pulling tool, but for hiking, walking dogs with good leash manners, or for older dogs with neck/back issues, this harness is great.

nolasnood4


Sirius Republic Snoods
If you haven’t discovered these yet you must be living under a rock. These soft fleece neck warmers from Sirius Republic are fashionable and keep the pups warm in this cold Maine weather. It’s been especially cold lately, and the added coverage of the fleece for their head/neck has helped make walks in sub-freezing temperatures more bearable. Sarge and Nola both have one, and I am sure I will get them additional colors to match their ever growing cold weather wardrobe.

IMG_4929Decals from Bully Paws
Besides being locally made, the other trait I look for in dog related products is uniqueness. I came across these decals on Etsy.com  and HAD to have them. I bought two for my laptop and one for my car. While the two in the picture at right aren’t custom of Nola and Sarge, adoptdecal2there are so many breed options that I found the two that most resemble them, which are pretty close, minus Sarge’s straight up ear. I also purchased an “Adopt” car decal. They were reasonable priced, hand cut, and there are tons of different font/breed options as well as decals for cars, electronics, and iphones. These are so cute I want to buy more!

 

Are there any dog related products that are on your Christmas shopping list?