Being a crazy dog mom aka #sorryI’mnotsorry

In anticipation of an upcoming trip, we’ve been going on meet and greets through Rover and DogVacay to find a someone to watch Tucker. We’ve used Rover in the past and loved our one sitter but she is not available for an upcoming weekend so we’ve had to line up a few meet and greets. Being the crazy dog mom that I am, I absolutely hate to leave Tucker, but it is our wedding anniversary and I feel like I should potentially give my husband some more attention on that weekend. We’ve met a ton of great people and their dogs but I often get a little self-conscious about how crazy of a dog mom I am once I realize how much I talk about Tucker. For example, I have a 5 page document that Jason call’s the Tucker bible where I detail everything I can think of that might happen or things that a sitter might need to be aware of. My reasoning for this is that if I were watching someone’s dog, I’d want to know everything I could possibly know so I’m doing these sitters a favor. I’m sure some roll their eyes or possibly don’t even read it (I’m looking at you Mom and Dad).I’ve tried to make it really humorous but that probably only solidifies how crazy of a dog mom I am.

I’ve been thinking more about my status as crazy dog mom this week for several reasons. I’ve already mentioned the meet and greets. The other is I’ve kept a very close watch on Tucker this week—and remember, I already watch him super closely. He had a little diarrhea earlier this week and he has a fairly good tummy so I was worried he got into something that I didn’t see. Normal people would probably say, dogs get into things from time to time, diarrhea is OK, but of course I panic. The only change we’ve made is that our vet recently changed which Heartworm preventative pills they use and we are back on Heartgard which he’s had before but not for some time as we were using Sentinel. I gave him his monthly dosage on Monday night and then next day he had a tummy upset. I was then on poop watch…they got better as the day went on and the situation has cleared up but not before I utterly embarrassed Tucker by taking photos of his poop and sending them to Jason who was out-of-town. I’m sure he loved those photos. #SorryI’mnotSorry Tucker. The vets office told me before that they love photos like this because it can help them immensely. And, as a crazy dog mom, I love the vets office. It’s basically like going to a therapist for me. Sometimes I think if I had to do it all over again, I would search for a vet to marry. Today, Tucker took his sweet time going to the bathroom and immediately my guard was up. Remember the Homeland Security terror chart? My radar went on high alert and then he went and was jolly. Oh and yes, if you haven’t figured it out, as a crazy dog mom, I spend a lot of time thinking and talking about poop.

Another reason I’ve been thinking more on my crazy dog mom status is that I am in a Word Press course on blogging to help me with this blog. I’m sure that all the attendees will love to read about my dogs poop, but ask anyone who has a dog and I bet they analyze their poop as well from time to time.  So, to all my “classmates,” my name is Carly and I am a crazy dog mom. The first step is admitting you have a problem, right?

Did you really think I would post a photo of his poop?

Did you really think I would post a photo of his poop?

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Puppy Love

Recently I joined a group on Facebook for a breeder that my parents have used. She created a facebook group so that the families can connect and share their photos of their golden children. It’s been fun to see the various goldens, and I especially enjoy connecting with people who have siblings of my parents pup, Spenser. Spenser will be nine in September but he will forever be my puppy. My family decided to get Spenser when I was still living at home and we are very close, even though I haven’t lived at home for several years. Every time we come home, Spenser is my shadow. He could never ever leave my mom or dad or his golden brother Oliver but we have a special bond.

Tucker and his Uncle Spenser. Everything he needed to learn, he learned from Spenser.

Tucker and his Uncle Spenser. Everything he needed to learn, he learned from Spenser.

Several facebook posts in this group lately have featured new puppies who have gone to their fur-ever homes. It’s so sweet to see these little fuzzies and I even get a bit of puppy fever. Tucker will be 2 in October so he’s still very much a puppy but you know what I mean, those little guys and girls you can pick up and snuggle….and then I remember the puppy teeth, the wake up calls in the middle of the night, and did I mention those puppy teeth? I remember when Tucker was really small and I would look at him and say, what is your personality going to be like? Yes, let’s not forget the title of this blog: Crazy Dog Mom. And don’t forget one of the best parts of puppyhood: you can drink! Can’t do that when you’re pregnant!

I can tell you exactly his personality now: he’s a sweetie (what golden isn’t though?) with a mischievous streak and he’s a real smartie. He loves being outside and walking through the neighborhoods. He’s playful with other dogs but only a few at a time or else he gets nervous. He loves routines…as do I…he’s still very much a puppy- we’re still working on the jumping and the occasional nip but thankfully there’s no more puppy teeth. He makes friends fast and remembers them for life.

First few days..

First few days..

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Now here are some new puppy tips from me:

1) Crate Train. I can’t emphasize this enough. We still have Tucker’s crate up and open because he still enjoys going in it even though he now sleeps with us and has a gated off area (which includes the crate) when we are out. I often find him laying in there when we get home. It’s their safe place…and a safe place for you too. I can’t begin to explain how much more peacefully I slept at night during those first few puppy months knowing he was in the crate. The crate is in our bedroom so he never felt alone.

2) Socialize. Another one I can’t emphasize enough. We got Tucker in the winter of the polar vortex in Northern VA. We were fortunate to have places that host puppy socials (welcome to Northern VA, full of DINKS- Dual Income No Kids). We also got him in obedience class as soon as we could. Luckily we live in an apartment complex and a dog friendly community so there was no shortage of friends for Tucker to meet. And don’t stop doing it. We still take Tucker to dog parks, dog friendly restaurants/wineries/shops, etc.

Out to Eat!

Out to Eat!

3) Exercise. You need exercise, your dog needs exercise. If it’s hot or cold, treat puzzles or ipad games (yes, seriously!) My motto in life is that a tired dog is a good dog. Why do you think I’m writing this blog right now? Because I exercised my pup and he’s enjoying a nice little nap right now. If you really want to track your dog’s exercise and sleep, get a Whistle Activity Monitor!

4) Photos. Take Lots of Them. We have 80 million and no, I do not think that’s an exaggeration.

5) Get to know where the best deals are. I love Chewy. My neighbors do too because I see lots of boxes from Chewy in the mailroom. There can never be enough Bitter Apple Spray when you have a puppy or young dog. Once I think I covered myself in it. We have a cabinet that looks like Chewy, Petco and Wylie Wagg threw up. But pups need toys and treats and bones. Remember those puppy teeth?

Now it’s time for me to sign off and enjoy some time on the balcony with Tucker. What’s your best dog advice? Leave us some love!tucker060715m

Tucker goes for a swim

One of my goals in the next year or so is to take Tucker to a beach, perhaps in the fall when its quieter. Since Tucker has never really been swimming, I was curious to see how he might react in a pool. I heard about the Northern Virginia Animal Swim Center. This swim center offers “Learn to Swim” lessons for 30 minutes and I thought: Perfect! It’s out in Middleburg, VA so it was a little bit of a trek from Arlington, VA but we had made a plan to stop at some dog friendly wineries on the way home and make a day out of it.

Once we made it out to the swim center, which is on acres of farmland, we met Roger, the owner and he put Tucker in a harness that had a very long lead/leash on it. We went first to a long shallow pool with ramps on either end that Tucker could wade into…Using the lead, Roger guided him in and BOOM! Tucker went swimming away to the other side. Roger had us call his name to encourage him as well. We did this a few times then went outside for a potty break before starting to retrieve balls in the pool. When Roger thought he was ready, we graduated to the bigger deeper pool- with the lead at first and then on his own. After 30 minutes, he was worn out but he swam great and Roger gave us some cues to get him to turn around in the pool. Now, of course this was a controlled pool and not an ocean so I would still be very careful, but Tucker can swim. Being a golden retriever, I thought that might be the case but you just never know!

I’d highly recommend a trip out there- it’s a bit in the country but would be wonderful if you want to see how your dog does or if your dog needs to swim for any health issues. We paid $40 for a training session which included Tucker getting a bath at the end. Also, Middleburg is a really adorable town.

Tucker can swim!

          Tucker can swim!

After swimming winery time!

After swimming winery time!

Things I’ve learned from my dog

The other morning, Tucker and I walked up Arlington Ridge to Prospect Park, which overlooks the city of Washington D.C. and Arlington VA. From there I can see the Washington Monument, the Pentagon, Arlington Cemetery…and all the cars stuck in morning rush hour on 395 :). I was in a particularly reflective mood for some reason that morning and it got me thinking of the ways Tucker has changed me in the year and a half since we’ve brought him home:

One of the best days ever: when we picked Tucker out!

One of the best days ever: when we picked Tucker out!

1) Mornings are great: I have to say, I love my morning weekday and Sunday walks with him (my husband lets me sleep in on Saturdays while he goes running with Tucker or to the park with him).  In the DC area, it is very busy and I constantly feel on the go. Before Tucker, I was never a morning person. I would get up about 30 minutes before I had to leave for work, eat breakfast, get ready and off to the Metro I went. Now I get up most weekday mornings at 6 or earlier so that Tucker and I have plenty of time to go out, come back in and eat our breakfasts and settle a bit before our morning walk. The mornings are mostly peaceful- fairly light traffic around the neighborhoods and most of the foot traffic is a few people getting an early metro or people with some of our favorite 4 legged friends. Not only is it great exercise for both of us, but it gets me prepared for the day at hand. When I have to travel or have to be somewhere early for work and my husband walks him, I often feel like I’ve missed out on something. Are there some mornings where I would rather just stay in bed? Absolutely…mostly on those rainy mornings where I have to balance an umbrella and a golden retriever. However, it’s probably my favorite walk of the day.

Selfie on our morning walks.

Selfie on our morning walks.

2) Meeting people: I am an introvert. Once you get to know me, I open up and am silly and love to talk…but I generally shy away from big social settings. Having a golden retriever puppy, EVERYONE wants to pet your dog. We’ve met a lot of our neighbors and their dogs (I admit, I don’t know a lot of their names-its mostly ‘Fluffy’s mom, Bella Boo Bear’s Mom, etc) but there’s a sense of community that I didn’t feel before we got Tucker. We take Tucker most places that we can–wineries, running races, dog friendly restaurants and our newest adventure yesterday: the Washington Nationals Pups in the Park event. Yes, we took him to a baseball game–and he performed phenomenally well. Tucker is a conversation starter and that has helped me break the ice and has even helped me in situations when he isn’t with me.

 

Friends

Friends

Tucker even has little human friends aka cousins he loves!

Tucker even has little human friends aka cousins he loves!

3) Partnerships are stronger and better: I’m an individual through and through. My husband doesn’t define me and I don’t define my husband. Prior to Tucker, my husband and I enjoyed doing things together, but many nights we might watch one things on TV and then go our separate ways- maybe me watching something in the bedroom, while he stayed out in the living room. Or we approached things differently. This may be a longer way of saying that we weren’t always a unified team. When Tucker came into our lives, we had to become a team- who took him out and when, who fed him and when, etc. When he’s gotten sick as sometimes our pups do, I’ve been a stressed out mess and Jason has been the balance. The calm in any storm. Not only does that help me but it helps Tucker too. This also leads to my second favorite walk: Family Walk. Every night after we’ve had our dinner, we walk Tucker around the neighborhoods for our nightly “family walk.” We talk about our day, what’s going on in the world, etc. I admit, the growing partnership hasn’t always been easy and there have been bumps in the road but there’s no one I’d rather do it with.

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Our first night at home. December 2013.

April 18, 2015. At Nats Park!

April 18, 2015. At Nats Park!

4) Persistence is key: This is not my favorite Tucker life lesson as sometimes it shows my weaker side with him, but he has taught me that sometimes if you really want something, persistence is key. This is where I sometimes Mommy fail. You know how they teach you in obedience that if your dog barks because he wants something, to ignore him? Easier said than done when you are trying to get something done and he’s barking for his special bone in the cabinet. I usually start strong- ignoring, making sure I don’t give in to his barking too soon, etc. Some days, he does just get it at the first bark. However, he has learned that if he is persistent, and barks but then behaves perfectly, he will get a reward. We’ll get there soon enough with the good behavior, but it takes persistence—–and sometimes a little bark.

Sometimes we have differing opinions...persistence is key

Sometimes we have differing opinions…persistence is key

5) Life is for living, loving and smiling: I think this might be part of Tucker’s mantra. A woman walking her two small dogs the other day stopped me to tell me that Tucker was the happiest dog she’s seen. And he really is. He is frequently smiling and has an air about him that he loves life. The world can be a scary place-how often do we turn on the TV to see horrific news? Do yourself a favor–the next time life gets you down, turn ‘off’ (or mute if you can’t turn off completely) and play with your dog- or if you don’t have one, take a walk-chances are you will find a dog that wouldn’t mind another friend!

Smile!

Smile!

Tucker is turning 1!

I know I said I would write more in my last blog post. Every week night and weekend, I put a blog post on my to do list. Every weekend and week night, guess what happens? I get distracted. Either playing with Tucker, snuggling with Tucker, tiring out Tucker, or trying to have a life. In fact, I sat down to write this blog a half hour ago. What has happened? Tucker took my bagel, wanted to play tug of war, and now while I try to type this on the balcony is investigating every wood piece out there. However, I do want to write more and I do want to share some more Tucker adventures. So here’s what we’ve been up to:

We went to Gran’s house for a weekend where we played with Emily and Spenser and Bailey, my brother’s golden. Those weekends always tire us out and my parents house is the best “dog park” there is.

We actually went to dog parks here. I am a little leery of dog parks but I know it’s good for Tucker to run around and play with other dogs. While I haven’t mastered going to the dog park by myself with him, and my husband always has to go with us, I’ve stopped being such a helicopter mom and let my dog play.

We have continued our CGC class and he’s doing great. I’ve seen real progress and will be sad when it ends this week.

We moved into a bigger apartment within our complex. He’s still adjusting but thus far I think he likes it.

And the biggest: Friday is not only Halloween but Tucker’s 1st birthday. We are pretty excited and I do promise a blog entry will be coming celebrating our boy turning 1 this weekend.

Until then, puppy hugs and kisses.

Carly and Tucker

Tucker with Uncle Spenser and Uncle Bailey. Teaching him everything they know!

Tucker with Uncle Spenser and Uncle Bailey. Teaching him everything they know!

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Tucker and his new dog bed.

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Moving is ruff. Think I will just sleep here.

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Dog Park mid run.

Happy Father’s Day! Guest Post from Tucker

Just like Daddy

Just like Daddy

Carly’s Note: From time to time, Tucker will be guest posting on here.

Dear Daddy,

Happy Father’s Day! Sure, I know there are people out there that will say because you don’t have a two legged kid yet that you aren’t really a father. Let’s not be friends with any of those people. Of course you are a dad, you are my dad! So let’s get this Father’s Day post started!

First, I want to apologize for taking Mommy away. Actually, I’m not sorry about that. #sorryI’mnotsorry. You had her for plenty of years. Time to share the love. Like I get 99.9% of Mommy’s love and you get that teeny tiny percent left over. See, I share!

Thank you for not singing on walks like Mommy does sometimes. True, it gets me walking but that’s because I am embarrassed. Have you heard her sing Let it Go? I want to bark Let it Go Mommmmmmy!

Thank you for teaching Mommy how to semi-chill and not become too much of a smotherer (after all, you can’t spell smother without mother). These sentences will automatically delete as soon as you read them, to be replaced with LOVE YOU MOMMY but sometimes it’s best when we have our guy time and Mommy goes to have her girl time.

Thanks for making the worlds best kongs and bones for when you leave in the morning. I do miss you when you go to work, I do, but man I love those kongs.

Thank you for signing me up for puppy classes and being diligent with my training. I am turning into a fine young pup thanks to you.

Thanks for taking me along on trips to the wineries, parks, restaurants, etc. I love being social.

Finally, thanks for writing that email to Mommy last fall that said “Do you think we can handle a puppy?” This sent Mommy and Gran off on a puppyhunt worthy of FBI manhunt status on the AKC website to find reputable breeders which led them to Ivywest Golden Retrievers and ME!

I am the world’s luckiest pup to have you as a Daddy!

Tucker

Dad and Me...

Dad and Me…

Handsome Dude

Tucker meets Mommy and Daddy

Tucker meets Mommy and Daddy

The Power of Himalayan Dog Chews and Friendship…

I never knew something called Himalayan Dog Chews existed until my wonderful best friend Kim gave one to Tucker.  I was hesitant at first –  my parents golden retrievers always just have regular bones or Greenies and I wasn’t sure how Tucker would do with these.

Well….these chews are Tucker’s favorites and while he doesn’t get them every day (he wishes), he will get them when we do stuff like take him to wineries, take him out to lunch or dinner, or times where we need to distract him. From their website, they are 100% natural, no preservatives, no additives. They look a little bit like garlic bread when chewed on for hours, but Tucker gives them 4 paws up.  If I let him, Tucker would gobble these up in a day, but as he is a big chewer, I monitor him and take them away after a certain time. Not that there’s anything wrong with giving him the whole thing mind you, but that’s just what I do.

We have Kim to thank for introducing us to these treats and for so much more. I hope you are all as lucky to have someone like Kim in your life.  She is Tucker’s “God Mother” and without her I am not sure I would have survived the first 7 months of Tucker’s puppyhood thus far. She is a Mom as well to the lovely Oscar, Tucker’s very good friend. Oscar is a precocious adorable pug who has a tendency to get into a little mischief and who thinks he’s bigger than he really is.

Do you know those moms of children who spend all day  talking about their kids? Well, that’s pretty much what Kim and I do with our puppies when we aren’t talking about the latest celeb gossip. Kim has shown us all of the products we must have, what vet to go to,  what’s normal vs. what is not, when to freak out, when not to freak out, and has loved Tucker unconditionally.  A day doesn’t go by where we are not texting a photo of our pups, trading stories (Tucker did this, Oscar did that). We’ve laughed and cried over our dogs and their antics. Just about the only thing we disagree on and I wouldn’t even say it’s a disagreement but more of a fashion choice is Oscar tends to favor the bow ties where Tucker is more of a bandanna dude.

So here’s to friendship and Himalayan Dog Chews…may you have someone and something just as wonderful in your dog’s life!

 

Kim and I

Kim and I

oscarandtucker

Oscar and Tucker

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Tucker and Oscar