Still Training… 6 Years Later

Jack, my schnauzer, turns six this month. He was only seven weeks old and the shiest puppy I’ve ever seen when we brought him home the first day. He didn’t even want to walk on the pavement or grass those first couple days!

For anyone who has ever had a schnauzer, it is probably not a surprise that this breed is VERY strong-willed. That dog that wouldn’t even walk the first day now rules the house, except at night when he gets up for a drink of water because the cat will pounce on him with claws extended! Jack, and schnauzers in general, is a smart dog. But smart and strong-willed combine for never-ending frustration for my husband and I. Jack has two main problems:

  1. He can whine all day to get what he wants. And I mean all day! He usually wakes up from his morning nap around 11 am and wants a rawhide. I’ve tried everything to ignore him, including trying to let him whine it out to learn that his asking for something does not result in getting it. Jack almost always wins these battles. I can let him whine for hours at times and he will not give up.
  2. He gets super excited when he sees other dogs. In person is the worst, but he also gets excited when he sees dogs on TV – I’m talking about barking and standing on his hind legs in front of the TV. Once – and I’m not kidding – he saw a picture of a dog on a t-shirt on someone on TV and he went nuts. If there is a commercial on with animals and he hears the music, he will wake from a deep sleep to look at the TV too. He’s getting better with this issue after more than a year of training.

Now that the summer is coming, I’m looking forward to getting Jack out to the dog parks again to continue working on his training and providing him with the mental stimulation that a dog like him needs. If anyone else has suggestions on what’s worked for you, feel free to comment below!

IMG_0708

He knows he’s cute…

Travelling and Pet Shows

For the last couple weeks, I’ve been travelling for Pet Parcel business. I’m lucky to have family who watch my pets when I need to be out of town (and probably spoil them more than when they are at home!).

I know they’re in good hands, but I still worry about them getting into trouble or being general pains in the butt because they are used to their home and their schedule. Although I enjoy sleeping in on Sunday mornings (no walking the dog at dawn!), it doesn’t make up for the loneliness I feel without them. It’s so sad when I walk in the door and there’s no dog to greet me 😦

Every time our schnauzer, Jack, whines in the mornings because he DEMANDS a bone, he makes up for it in the evenings when he’s giving kisses. When Lucy wakes me up at 4 am, but wants to take a nap on my computer in the afternoon, it’s easy to forget the lack of sleep the night before. Anyone who’s owned a pet most likely understands the ups and downs of being a pet parent. Every time one of my pets starts to annoy me, which is inevitable when you have another living thing living in the same space, I think of all the joy they bring instead.

This week, I will pick up our pets and bring them home! In the meantime, I wanted to reflect on the fun weekends I’ve had in two very different parts of the country.

IMG_0357

Lucy on my lap next to my computer while Jack naps on her.

San Jose: San Francisco is one of my favorite cities in the US (and beyond), so I was excited to see what this smaller city nearby had to offer. San Jose’s Willow Glen neighborhood was an amazing enclave of the city! I found so many great shops and restaurants in this area of the city, including Crepevine, a restaurant that I always visit in the Inner Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco when I’m there. Willow Glen had the feeling of a neighborhood of a large city, but felt like it had the walkability of a larger city.

Kansas City: I planned to drive from Chicago to Kansas City, but work schedules meant I had to fly. I’m not sure why I expected the landscape to be flat, but I was surprised by how hilly the city is! Maybe it’s because the areas that I’ve been to in the Midwest – mainly Indiana, Iowa, and Illinois – are pretty flat. Or, maybe it’s because I watched Wizard of Oz about a million times as a kid and thought Kansas was flat (I know KC is in Missouri, but it’s close!). I absolutely love the Westport neighborhood, and it didn’t hurt that it was close to 90 degrees on Sunday so the patios were filled with post-St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, which made the area feel very welcoming. I definitely need to come back to explore more of this area of the city!

In the meantime, this week I head east towards Detroit to pick up the “kids”.

Hairballs for the uninitiated

I’m a fairly new cat mom. Lucy came home in August 2014 as a 6-month old rescue who was the lone kitten left behind after her littermates were adopted. After walking by the community-based pet store that functioned as an adoption provider for the city’s humane society, I felt like that kitten was meant to be mine. So my husband and I, who had always been dog owners, went to get this cat.

I don’t want to make it seem like getting a cat was a snap decision; I considered this cat for more than a week before adopting her. I knew that if I took this cat into my home, it was likely an 18-year commitment, if not longer. However, I did not do a lot of research on what it was like to have a cat. I don’t think I got more than 40 minutes of sleep the first night she was home. I could hear her walking around and I was worried that she would get into something that she shouldn’t. She got used to us eventually, though she does still wake me up around 4 every morning to play…

I tell you this because bringing a cat into the family is much different than a dog. And last month, after having a cat for more than 2 years, I got quite the surprise. I saw my first hairball.

 

Good thing she’s cute!

Note: if you are uneasy with bodily functions, you may not want to continue reading…

I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of regurgitation. This is not unheard of when you have pets – sometimes they get up in the middle of the night and throw up. Jack, our schnauzer, likes to do this right next to where he was sleeping, so usually this sound is a signal to move him to the hardwood floor right away! But this noise was smaller and further away. Jack was still sleeping next to me. I went out to the hall and founds something in my shoe in the front entrance.

For those who’ve never seen a hairball before, the key takeaway is not to panic. To be blunt, the hairball looks like a little piece of poop. My first thought was, “huh. That’s weird.” I cleaned it up and went back to bed. But then I had some nagging thoughts and I did something that is usually a bad idea – I Googled it. Googling medical conditions is almost always a bad idea. The first answer I found was that it is possible for cats to throw up feces in rare circumstances where they have tearing in their intestine. Thankfully, I persisted with the Googling and found a conversation threat that hairballs can look like poop! So, I got out of bed and got some latex gloves to inspect what the cat left behind, and sure enough, it was a hairball.

That was a relief. Hopefully for those of you who’ve never seen a hairball will not panic. Instead, get a latex glove or wad of paper towels and smoosh the hairball. A hairball will just be a big wad of hair that has collected in the stomach. Poop will look like… well, poop.

If it is poop, you definitely need to get to the vet ASAP. If it’s a hairball, get a good brush and some hairball control food and/or treats. The good news is that healthy cats do pass these occasionally and it’s not a big deal.

Hopefully you won’t be dealing with hairballs for the first time at 2 a.m.!