Posts Tagged ‘dogs’

Doggone It – Part 2 (Lucy)

Since my last post, Part 1, I have received a steady stream of encouragement and sympathy. I really do not want to hand my dogs over to another family, believe me. If we can figure out a way to alleviate some of the allergy symptoms, we/I will. The issue is that our pediatrician likes to have at least a 2.5 year history of issues in order to proceed with any testing or diagnosis. I’m hoping the symptoms die down a little this fall when Lucy isn’t shedding as much.

Speaking of Lucy, she deserves to have her story told as well.

In April 2010, my sister was getting ready to deliver my nephew, Jeremiah, born with spina bifida. It was considered a high-risk delivery, so our family rallied together during his arrival and first surgery procedures. I spent many hours at Riley Hospital for Children, worrying, praying and holding the newest member of my family. During the months leading up to his birth, Steven and I were looking for another dog. Nothing had panned out well for us.

38116_772374333688_5369743_nI was sitting in a waiting room at Riley when Steven texted me that a friend and neighbor found a stray puppy walking along Ellenberger Park. They didn’t have room to keep her overnight, and Steven offered to take her in while we tried to find her owners. I came home late that night, but as soon I walked through the door, she greeted me with a wagging tail and crooked ears. She was a little shy, but she craved our approval, and we invited her into our bed (with Jake, of course) that night.

Honestly, we didn’t look very hard for her owners. She was too nice to be just a stray, but later that week, we heard about a similar-looking dog also wandering in Ellenberger Park. How could anyone dump such a sweet little girl?

We started calling her Lucy. That name was reserved for our first baby girl, but we decided it fit her. And she was our first baby girl. She was probably 4 or 5 months old when she became a Shattuck.

Lucy is the kindest, dumbest dog I’ve ever known. Her reasons for living are only to please and to play. Unlike Jake, she was housebroken in less than a month. She could chew through indestructible bones and toys within minutes. And she followed her big brother Jake all around the house, learning to wait until he was finished eating to drinking to venture toward the bowls. (If she forgot, he quickly let her know her mistake.)

Because her heart is so big, her brain is quite small. Isn’t that what an American dog is supposed to be like? She continually bumps into tables, doors and walls, is afraid of the vacuum sweeper and doesn’t know a stranger. She also thinks she is a lap dog and whimpers if she doesn’t fit into small spaces like Jake does. I laugh at her antics but also appreciate her ability to sense when I need a hug. She is a wonderful comforter and snuggle companion.

Her 55-pound body is muscular and strong. Her tail alone can wipe out glasses sitting on the coffee table, or take out small children. I was hesitant to introduce her to newborn Wesley, but she has been gentle and caring toward him since Day 1. I like her call her Mama Hen. She protects her people and guards her little boy from the wild world.

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She and Jake couldn’t be more opposite. He prances; she stomps. He’s delicate; she’s clumsy. But they are great siblings to each other. She made him a better dog, really. They got onto the same feeding and potty schedule, and they learned to play together. The commonality is that they both want to be with their people at all times, and they are both lounging, lazy couch potatoes. They may fight one minute, but soon after you’ll find them cuddling together.


And Wes? Oh goodness. There is a form of love between the three of them that I’m unable to describe. He is of their pack, and I dread the day it has to be broken – from sickness, death or whatever.


I honestly don’t know that I could endure a night without listening to Lucy’s snores and grunts in the dark. A life without Lucy would be… I just don’t know. Foreign.

She is our Lucy Bird, our Lucyberger and Lucy-loo.


Posted: August 30th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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Doggone It – Part 1 (Jake)

Wes rolls around on our bed, which is covered in dog hair. Then he gleefully grasps Lucy’s face in his hands and laughs as she gives him a big kiss. He pats Jake and tells him, “Hiiiiiii!!!” and then rubs his eyes. Within minutes, I have a kid with red hives popping up all over his face. <– This is a fairly common occurrence over the last few months.

I fear we may have a child on the brink of an official diagnosis of allergies. And I fear that our dogs are included in the unknown list of allergens. Of course, this is not confirmed, and we have been told that kids have to be at least 2.5 to get tested for anything, but I am starting to unravel slowly.

I try to sweep/vacuum/dust/whatever as much as possible. We have wood floors in every room. No carpet anywhere except for a couple area rugs. Our house is small, so it’s easy to clean. But days get away from me, and soon the laundry piles up, the sheets need changed and the floors need sweeping again. It’s not an ideal situation for a child with developing allergies and acute asthma (also not diagnosed, yet), which makes everything all the worse.

My dogs – Jake and Lucy – are my companions. I can’t imagine life without them.

National Dog Day was a few days ago, and it was also the day I realized that I may eventually have to endure pain that I haven’t experienced before. You see, I ached for a dog of my own as I grew up. My sister had allergies similar to what I suspect of Wesley, and we even had to move our pet cat, Sarah, outdoors. So of course a dog was out of the question. (Plus my dad claims to “hate dogs,” but I don’t fully believe him.)

I had a stuffed animal dog that I cuddled with for ages, probably even up until high school. I clearly remember thinking that I wanted a dog similar to the size of my stuffed animal – one that would cuddle with me a night and fit within my arms as I laid on my side to sleep. I didn’t know what kind of dog would do that, but I would find out. My mom cheerfully replied every time I asked for a dog, “You are most welcome to have a dog of your own when you live on your own.”

As my college graduation date approached, I started my research. I wanted to adopt a dog from a rescue organization. Online compatibility tests always matched me with hounds, and I decided to adopt a retired racing greyhound. I connected with a few Indy rescue organizations. Once I learned that my new job and living environment might not be a good fit for a greyhound, I looked into Whippets and then Italian Greyhounds.

Funny thing is, every book I read and all the sites I visited cautioned new dog owners about Italian Greyhounds. There were many in foster and adoptive care because of high owner surrender. Difficult to train, very clever animals. But I wanted one badly. I passed the tests and home visits and thought I would be giving a home to a gray or blue 5 or 6-year-old girl Iggy. Most dogs in rescue programs are adult, but I didn’t care.

A few weeks later, I received a phone call that a 6-month-old puppy was surrendered as a “failed show pup.” His ears turned up in a funny way, so he couldn’t be bred or shown. The owners had let him roam free on a horse farm, so I was told that he was muscular, a unique color and “cute as a button.” His name was Jake, and could I meet him this week?


I took Steven with me to meet Jake, the puppy. I fell in love, instantly. He wasn’t the blue colored older girl I hoped for, but he was mine. I knew it.

jake2He had a pink nose and a wild, energetic spirit. I left work during my lunch break to let him out of his crate and play with him every day. Since he was crated most of the day (if not he would have trashed the apartment), I felt bad for keeping him crated at night, too. One night I brought him into bed with me, and he climbed right into my arms and fell asleep. He was the dog I day dreamed about as a kid.

Sleeping with my dog has been a nightly occurrence for 7 years now. Sure, he’s too clever for his own good, and I admit he’s a bit of a jerk, but I love him. He was my original companion before Steven and I got married. We spent evenings together, played together and enjoyed the single life together. I love how he buries under blankets and grooms himself for 20 minutes every time he sits down. I love how he jumps into anyone’s lap and makes a new friend. He has tolerated Wesley’s toddlerhood well, and everyone loves him. Seriously, everyone. We can’t go anywhere in public without people pointing and asking questions and wanting to pet Jake. (Poor Lucy is too average.)

I really can’t picture a Shattuck house without Jake. If we have to find a new home for him, I will be heartbroken. He is my dog.

Jake, Jakey, Jake-a-roo


Posted: August 28th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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The Leaders of our Pack

I haven’t written much about our dogs, Jake and Lucy, lately. We’re not the type of people who toss the dogs to the side post-baby, but I rather like to think of them as additional toddlers in the house. Okay, so, they don’t take up all our time anymore, we don’t go on as many walks and they spend more time alone than before Wes was born. However, they still hog our bed at night, cuddle on the couch and enjoy lots of snuggles.

Since the dogs aren’t first priority anymore, I’ve noticed some things.

1) The back yard is full of poop. Gross. I spent 45 minutes filling a trash bag full of old dog doo so that I don’t have to watch every step that Wes takes this spring. We haven’t ever really worried about this because we rarely had people stomping around in our yard, and frankly, the lawn mower pretty much took care of our needs… Double gross. But I’m now actually really excited to spend more time outside, running, chasing and kicking balls around.

2) Our house reeks of dog. I used to be much better at keeping up with the dog smell around here. Now I feel like it’s gotten waaaay out of hand. I also used to blame the smell on my super pregnant nose, but I don’t even have that excuse anymore. If I complain about the stink, I can only imagine what people think when they visit. Just cleaning the couches and rug doesn’t cut it.

I think I’ve pinpointed the problem – Jake’s mouth. Seriously. His breed (Italian Greyhound) has frequent dental issues from their lack of panting. His breath has been pretty foul lately, and I think it’s past time to get these rotten teeth extracted. He’s going to be one of those old, toothless dogs – we’ve already pulled several over the years.

To make this post even more gross, here’s why I think our house – mainly our living room –  smells so bad. Jake grooms frequently; pretty much any time he gets comfortable, he finds the need to lick everything. And occasionally he misses and ends up soaking whatever he’s laying on as well. Enter stinky couch!

Of course, we’ll have a whole ‘nother smell issue once it’s warm out and the dogs “sweat.” Ick.

But now that I’ve totally convinced some of you to never invite a dog into your family, here’s the absolutely wonderful things about our furry kids.

  • They love Wes. I mean, truly love him. They follow him around the whole house. From Day 1, they were smitten.
  • Through Jake and Lucy, Wes learned how to love pretty quickly. Parental love and dog love are two completely different things.
  • They are guardians. Sure, they’re not very frightening, but they try to sound so to all those who pass by our big picture window. It’s kinda endearing to know that they want to protect this “pack.”
  • Once they get over your presence in the driveway, and we greet you at the door, they will love you to pieces. And lick your ears. Everyone kind to us is welcome in their domain, haha. In fact, they may sit in your lap. At the same time.
  • They make Wes laugh. Hearing his laugh makes me laugh and life is grand.
  • They let Wes poke, prod and pull. Well, Lucy does. Jake doesn’t like to be disturbed when he is napping, but who does?
  • They provide wonderful company when Steven is out of town and when Wes is asleep. I’m never alone.

So I guess the dog smells, once addressed, can be tolerated for the sake of everything above. And even cleaning up dog poop is pretty manageable.

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Posted: March 23rd, 2013
Categories: Leah
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Summer Solstice

The evenings of the two longest days of the year have been the epitome of what I believe summer is all about. Last night we had dinner outside on the grill. It sprinkled, and Wes found it amusing. The dogs lounged in the dead, prickly grass while we laughed with a happy, clapping baby.


Tonight Wes was in such a good mood that we decided to break out the bikes. I recently got a WeeRide, and we took the inaugural test drive. Success!

Minimal experiences make parenting pretty great.

Posted: June 22nd, 2012
Categories: Leah
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The Dog Bed

I started it. Before we were married, I lived in an apartment with my dog, Jake. He was just a cute little rescued puppy at the time, and I desired his companionship. Once, when I was sick, I let him sleep with me in bed, and he never went back into his crate at night. Enter married life – I wasn’t about to change this, so we got used to Jake sleeping around my legs at night.

Then we found and rescued 6-month-old Lucy, who was scared at night and just wanted our company. It was Steven this time, who allowed her into our already full queen bed.

Usually the beginning of the night is fine, when we’re all just getting into bed and falling asleep. But somehow these dogs have some uncanny way to unfurl from a tight little ball to monstrous bed-hoggers.

Impressed by my Photoshop skills? Oh yeah. If you haven’t yet seen How To Be A Dad, check out this great series called “Baby Sleep Positions.”

Posted: March 3rd, 2012
Categories: Leah
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