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.

Photo1

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!

Where we Like to Walk

Hi!

I hope everyone is having a great start to their weekend. My second post for NoVADog Blog is out! Please go here to check out a few places in the DC area where we like to walk Tucker. Also, please be sure to check the blog out for other informative articles like learning how to run with your dog and a training plan for starting to run with your dog from other guest bloggers.

Tucker enjoying a Spring Day!

              Tucker enjoying a Spring Day!

Tucker has a playdate today with someone from Rover who may watch him when we’re on vacation this summer. We’re trying out these services (people host your dog–its almost like Match for your dogs) so if anyone has experience with them, please let me know!

Tomorrow is Easter and you can bet your bottom dollar that I have an Easter Basket ready (or almost ready) for Tucker!

Happy weekend!

Carly

Glow Dog Glow 5K!

Glow Dog Glow 5K!

Where Have We Been?

There has been a few month absence in the blog. It’s been hard to find time to write and quite frankly, the end of 2014 just really sucked dog-wise, January was all about recovery and February was about…rebirth. Despite the ice storm today, March is here and I’m starting to breathe a little bit again –  happy spring is around the corner and it’s hard to hate March – it is, after all, my birthday month!

So what happened? Why the long absence? And now the “rebirth?” On December 23, Emily, who I have written about before went to the rainbow bridge. She was my parent’s dog and my “sister” who had health problems the last few months at age 13. That previous weekend, my husband Jason and I, along with Tucker went up for the Christmas holiday. Jason and I had to travel to Indiana for his family’s Christmas and my parents were going to watch Tucker until we flew back on Christmas night. When we touched down on Christmas night, my parents met us with Tucker. Sadly, Emily had been having some episodes after we left, and they made the agonizing decision that no one ever wants to make. It was peaceful they said, and my parents were grateful that Tucker was there to be with them and their other golden Spenser. I was devastated but I knew that Emily had lived the best possible life. The vet told us it was likely she had a tumor or cancer and that there wasn’t much my parents could have done. We were pleased that she left us with little pain. Still, we had a good Christmas and we were happy that Tucker had done well at my parents house despite the circumstances. On December 27, we were spending our last day in PA, getting ready to head back to Northern Virginia to continue the rest of our Christmas vacation.  One of my parent’s neighbor’s had gotten a puppy a few months before and we went outside to see it, leaving Tucker and Spenser inside to play. We were gone less than 5 minutes and when we came back, I noticed Tucker was playing keep away with something he had grabbed. I couldn’t see what it was, but as I moved forward, all of a sudden it was gone and I went into panic mode. I searched all around, and all I could see is that there was one less mitten on a bench. He couldn’t have swallowed that everyone said…I still called our local vet, who said to either get him to an emergency vet or if we weren’t sure, feed him bread to help him get whatever went in, out. I really couldn’t say for sure he had gotten the mitten, it was so large and even though I couldn’t find one, it could have dropped somewhere outside. So, we fed him some bread..nothing came out and he continued to act normally eat, play and potty absolutely normally. I began to think that maybe he hadn’t really gotten anything. On December 30, we went to the vet for his annual exam and shots. The vet saw him, felt him, said he had no gas or stomach pains that he could see and just to monitor him, but he certainly wasn’t acting like a dog who had gotten something. At 3 AM on December 31, I woke up to Tucker trying to throw up- he threw up dinner but nothing else. I took him outside and he pooped but everything was normal. He kept trying to throw up further and rested off and on. I was fully panicked.

As soon as the vet’s office opened, I called and we got him in right away. They thought maybe it was a reaction to shots but he had never had reactions. I knew. Something was in there. They X-rayed him there and they could see the glove in the stomach. Because our vet’s office didn’t have surgery hours, we had to go to the animal hospital. We got there as quick as possible, but still had to wait hours to be seen because we weren’t a regular appointment and Tucker didn’t seem to be in distress (he had stopped vomiting). When they saw us and reviewed the X-Rays, they were hopeful they could either bring it up via making him vomit again or endoscopy. Neither worked unfortunately. They had the glove during the endoscopy but they were nervous about pulling it through the endoscope. Off to surgery, he went. I was a wreck. The only thing getting me through was that my brother’s golden had gone through the same thing after he ate a pacifier, so I knew what to expect. Tucker sailed through the surgery, and stayed overnight (Happy New Years Eve, right?) The next day we were able to pick him up and he’s stomach was shaved and he had a big scar in his abdomen but he was doing well. The next few weeks were all about recovery. I plan to write a full post on the surgery and recovery period separately, because I think that would really help people going through the same things, but I was so glad when after 10 days, he was able to get the staples out.

Tucker and Spenser enjoying Christmas

Tucker and Spenser enjoying Christmas

The guilt though was there for me. I felt like such a horrible dog mom. How could this have happened? Nothing I read and nothing anyone said could make me feel better. The vets even said he had no symptoms and that it was likely the glove would have had to come out surgically whether we rushed him to the vet the day I thought he may have eaten something or when it actually happened. Nothing helped me calm down. We were lucky that nothing more serious happened to Tucker and I just kept thinking, I can’t lose my boy. Forgiveness of myself came in time and as Tucker healed, so did I. He certainly didn’t hold it against me and his opinion was all that mattered to me in the end. I wish I could say that Tucker has learned his lesson and hasn’t eaten things since, but sticks on walks, napkins, etc., are hard to ignore for him. We are just super vigilant on walks and also make sure nothing is where he can get it in the apartment.

Tucker's Cone After Surgery

Tucker’s Cone After Surgery

As I said in the beginning, February began re-birth. Tucker was feeling better and at my parents house, they were looking at getting another dog. They rescued a 4-year-old golden retriever from Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue named Oliver. Oliver is an amazing dog and we were so happy to meet him a few weeks back. After a few minutes of greeting, Tucker and Oliver were off running around the dining room table and wrestling like old pals. They love each other dearly.

Spenser, Tucker and Oliver

Spenser, Tucker and Oliver

So this leads us to March. I’ve been asked to blog about dogs for a local dog magazine and I am super excited about that. I am in the process of redesigning this blog and I would appreciate any feedback you have for me.

Tails Wagging,

Carly