A.J. is my dog. One of the things I did while on an extended break from my career as a technical writer and editor was adopt this totally crazy and adorable dog. He's provided me with an incredible amount of frustration and entertainment. And as you can see, he's also provided me with a large amount of writing material. I'm back at work now, but plan to keep the stories coming - maybe just not as often.
We’re halfway through February, and so far this year has been a little rough on A.J. First he had a very scary accident. As a result of that accident, the area of the park we most often frequent where A.J. is allowed to run off leash has been cut in half.
While he was still recovering from his accident, he was running in his newly restricted area and, for the third time in less than two years, he tore off his dew claw. He spent several days in a bandage, then a couple more days wearing a “cone of shame.” As a result of that accident, A.J. now has a nice new pair of skid boots.
Thanks to Kathleen at Z-Control for the new skid boots. Hopefully A.J. can remain accident-free for a week or two – or, if we’re lucky, maybe even three.
Yesterday, after almost two weeks recovering from his accident, A.J. got to run off leash. After chasing squirrels around the park (well away from the road), I hooked the leash on and took him home. But before we left, I noticed he was bleeding from his dew claw.
He has ripped off his dew claw twice before, both times while trying to climb up trees after squirrels. This time I thought we got away lucky. The bleeding stopped shortly after we got home, and he seemed to be fine.
Later in the day we took A.J. for his afternoon walk. We had gone a couple of blocks when I decided to check his paw. He was bleeding again. We cut the walk short and went home. I was still hopeful that it wasn’t too bad and the bleeding would stop soon. No such luck.
A.J. was licking at his paw most of the evening. At bedtime he actually got worse. When he laid down to go to bed he couldn’t even figure out where to put his paw so that it wouldn’t hurt. It was another long night.
This morning he was still licking at his paw, and it was still bleeding. So after giving him his breakfast and taking him for a very short walk so he would go to the bathroom, we put him in the car and headed for the vet’s office.
Today is Sunday, so we had to go to a different veterinary office, the closest 24-hour vet. When it was our turn we went back and I explained to the vet tech what had happened. I also let her know that he was still recovering from being hit by a car, and explained what happened there. After I had explained everything, she said
“So, really, we can blame the squirrels for all of this.”
I laughed. “I like that, that’s much better than blaming mom.”
Like everyone else, she insisted none of it was my fault. (Just before we were called back, Greg said to me “You’re such a helicopter mom, but your dog is still hurt all the time.”)
Since this is the third time A.J. has ripped off this same dew claw, we knew the drill. They took A.J. back, sedated him, cut the nail off, wrapped his foot all up, and sent us home with pain killers, antibiotics, and a very woozy dog.
So, one more week where we have to work from home because A.J. can’t go to daycare. One more week with a sad and sore dog. One more week with a sad and stressed-out me.
Sometimes having a dog is as much about other dogs as it is about your own. Being a dog parent introduces you to other dog parents and to a whole world of dog-dom. And that can be very entertaining.
Today A.J. went to daycare. Most days when I pick him up the person who checks us out will tell me what A.J. did that day, or have some little anecdote about him. Today his anecdote was about the dog that checked out before us.
The man in line in front of me was talking to the daycare worker. I wasn’t paying much attention, but I heard that his dog was a large puppy who seemed to be in the “I’m much bigger than I think I am” stage of puppy growth. They brought the puppy out – a very adorable little Golden Retriever.
After they left, the daycare worker said “I have to tell you what just happened.”
“When I went to check him out and he told me which dog was his, I thought ‘that can’t be your dog.’ But then I realized the guy had an Australian accent.”
It turned out that someone had put that Golden Retriever into the system as an Australian Shepherd, because, well, what other kind of dog would an Australian have?
Another Christmas has come and gone, and A.J. has been as entertaining as ever. No trips to the emergency room, just a lot of fun with our mischievous boy. Here are a few of the things A.J. did that made us laugh:
Playing with Legos
Greg and I received some small toys in our Christmas stockings. I got superhero Legos and Greg got a Minion. We put them together, and I set them on the hearth. Today we ran some errands and left A.J. to watch football while we were out.
We left the house, but I forgot something and had to run back in a few seconds later. A.J. had already settled himself on the couch (where he’s not allowed – except when we’re gone, of course). We were gone for about three hours. We always assume A.J. makes himself comfortable and lies around the whole time we’re gone. We occasionally are proven wrong in that assumption.
After we’d been back home for a little while, I happened to look over at the hearth. One of the superheroes and the Minion were sitting on the hearth. But one superhero was missing. Iron Man’s car was on the floor in front of the hearth, and Iron Man was a couple of feet away. Someone had been playing with our Legos while we were gone.
Showing Me Ornaments
I was in the kitchen one day shortly before Christmas. I looked down to see A.J. right next to me, which is not at all unusual. Then I noticed something on the floor by his feet. It was a Christmas ornament from the tree. He had knocked it down and brought it to me. (Fortunately it was still in one piece.) I thanked him for the ornament, then put it back on the tree – much higher this time.
Greg and I opened our presents at home on Christmas Eve before we went to visit family. We took our presents out from under the tree and set them on the coffee table. I also got A.J. presents out from where I’d been hiding them and put them on the table with the rest.
Usually I help A.J. open his presents. This year he decided he was a big boy and could do it himself. One by one, he took his presents off the coffee table, opened them, played with the toy for a few minutes, then went to get the next present. He knew which presents were his, and he opened them all by himself. He’s so grown up!
To Grandmother’s House We Went
This year we spent Christmas with my parents. It was the first time A.J. was able to spend the holidays with us at his Grandma’s house. I don’t think he’s ever had so much fun at Christmas!
The forecast called for rain on Christmas Eve, but as we were driving up there it began to snow, and it didn’t stop all day. My parents live on several acres, much of it wooded. A.J. had so much fun! He ran through the snow, bounding through the trees, tracking squirrels, and generally just having a great time. He got more presents to unwrap and played nicely with his toys in the house. He was the perfect guest, he rode perfectly in the car the 2 ½ hours there and 1 ½ hours back (the snow was melted when we went home).
All in all, A.J. had a very good Christmas. He wishes everyone the happiest of holidays. Happy New Year!!
It’s the day after Christmas, 2017. I haven’t updated this blog in months. Not because A.J. didn’t do anything noteworthy – he’s still a constant source of entertainment for everyone who sees him. Instead it’s because I spend my days at work writing, and when I get home I don’t often have the energy to write more, even about something that is so much fun. But as the year comes to a close, here’s a short recap of some of the things I don’t want to lose track of:
The last blog entry was just before the 4th of July, so we’ll start there. I’ll write the full story later, but for now I can say that we survived the battle zone known as Portland a little better this year than last. Last year we weren’t at all prepared for how awful it is here – fireworks and bombs going off for weeks, driving A.J. completely crazy. This year with the help of a thunder shirt and some medication, he managed much better.
I’ve been very proud of my little guy this year. He’s had to be incredibly adaptable as our lives changed around him. For his first three years with us I was home with him almost constantly. Then last year I went back to work and moved us to a new home. But that year Greg stayed home with him and took him for long walks every day. This year was all new again.
In February Greg started a new job. We found a daycare for A.J. where Greg could drop him off on his way to work. A.J. adapted to this new routine and the new daycare well. He was always happy to go in when Greg dropped him off. Then in August Greg’s company had some layoffs, and the new guy had to go. A.J. was back to having someone at home with him all day.
Then we went on vacation for a week. Someone at the dog park told us about a place outside of town that sounded perfect for A.J. They have a lot of property, fully fenced, so the dogs can run around and play. There’s also a large covered area and an indoor play area. They have a bus that comes into town twice a week to pick up and drop off dogs, so we don’t have to make the hour-long drive to take him there.
So, off A.J. went for a week at a new boarding facility. He had a blast! When we picked him up the kennel owner laughingly said “You forgot to check the ‘My dog is crazy’ box.” He told me A.J. was so much fun to have there. He also introduced me to A.J.’s new girlfriend, a pretty little brown springer. Apparently the two of them had a wonderful week running around and being crazy together.
In the meantime, Greg had found a new job. Two days after coming back from the new kennel, A.J. went for his first day at a new daycare. As usual, they loved him there, and he’s been a regular ever since. I drop him off in the mornings, and he can’t wait to go in and see the other dogs. They have a webcam, so I can watch him from work sometimes.
So, two new daycare centers and a new boarding facility – it’s been a lot of change for one little dog. But he’s so smart and adaptable, and so sociable, it hasn’t been a problem at all. He’s still my happy boy.
In the meantime we still take him to the park regularly to run off leash. He’s a constant source of entertainment to many, many people there. He tracks and chases squirrels, going non-stop the entire time, his stumpy little tail always going a mile a minute.
We stop by the coffee shops on our weekend walks, where A.J. gets too big a share of our scones and donuts. Throughout the summer and fall he walked to restaurants with us and we all sat outside and ate. A.J. is always a quiet and polite little boy, and happy for all the attention he receives from so many people who walk by.
This year ends with another trip to the fun boarding facility. He also had a wonderful white Christmas as his grandma’s house. We’ll talk about that later this week. I don’t make new year’s resolutions, but I am going to try to be better about adding entries to this blog, because I don’t want to lose track of all the fun things this amazing boy does, and all the happiness he brings to so many people.
When we get home from walks A.J. likes to go into the backyard and make sure no squirrels or cats or other creatures have invaded the yard while he was gone. So when we returned from our walk this morning, as usual A.J. went to the back door and I let him out. He ran into the yard, at which point he and I both realized there was a squirrel hiding behind the tree in the back corner of the yard. Continue reading “The Chase”→