Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Back home....

We are back home and into the after-holiday routine.  "Pebbles" was gone to visit her grandparents in CO all last week, but she's back now.  So the biggest change this week has been juggling her and the puppy.  It's been hard because he gets so wound up in the morning, just when she comes.  So I have to crate him when she comes so that she has a chance to get in the door.  I also have to crate him when she gets picked up because it's just too much to try to handle.  I hope that gets better soon - but not exactly sure how to go about making it better, other than just waiting til he's older.

Pebbles is also pretty short....so Hans' head is well above her waist and easily knocks her down when he's excited.  I'm working on getting him not to jump up, but it's hard when she's SO little because it's not like he has to jump up far.  A good thing to work on with the dog trainer this week.  We start Puppy Kindergarten with him this Thursday.  It goes for 6-8 weeks and hopefully they'll have some tips for us.

The nights are going better.  Hans gets very tired about the same time the kids are getting into bed so he's asleep in his crate by 9.  We can't seem to keep him awake past that.  Last night he slept until 4:30 - I got up to take him out because he started barking.  He's in his crate in the living room while I was asleep in the bedroom upstairs.  I can't hear him whining from up there, so he has to bark.  I'm not sure that's a good idea because then he gets FULLY awake and is hard to get him to go back to sleep when we come inside again.  Last night he barked in his crate until I layed down on the couch, and then I spose he could smell me.  He still didn't fall asleep for another hour because I could hear him playing in there and rolling around.  By 7 he was more than ready to get back out and be up for the day.  It made me realize that there will NOT be a day (weekends included) where I can sleep in again past 7.  And I was JUST getting used to staying up to watch Saturday Night Live.

Now you say - well, you have kids - you must have done that before.  Yes, you're right.  The kids are up by 7 on the weekends.  But there is this wonderful invention called "tv" that lets me sleep til 8.  And of course if the dog hears the kids awake, he'll be damned if he's going to stay in his crate.  TV does not seem to appeal to Hans.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Moving in the right direction....

We seem to be moving in the right direction with this puppy thing.

Things that are getting better:
- No barking/whining/crying when in the crate at night.  We covered the entire crate with a sheet...instead of just over 2 sides.  We also turned on NPR so that he could hear quiet voices.  To cure the barks at the beginning of the night we used an empty can filled with 15 pennies and taped shut.  As soon as the barking started....I shook the can loudly next to his crate.  I think after 3-4 times, he was quiet.
- No barking/whining/crying when returned to crate after nighttime potty trips
- Better at responding to name and "Hans, COME!"
- Better at responding to "OFF!" when he tries to climb on the couch or reach the cat's food
- Better at fetch inside with his tennis ball
- Accidents in the house are becoming very rare
-Walking on the leash in a straight line
- And best yet!?  Hans just went in his crate....ON HIS OWN....to take his nap.  The door remains open during the day when we are here and should become his "space" to take refuge instead of random places on the floor.  It makes putting him in there at night or when I am away much easier and happier for everyone involved.

Things that we are still working on:
- Can't seem to go longer than 2-2 1/2 hours at nighttime before needing to go out.  However, if he happily gets back in his crate with out barking and whining...I can do frequent wakes for a while.
- Chasing Molly.  He's getting better - and is not vicious about it at all....it's totally a play thing.  He usually doesnt' chase her upstairs though.
- Balancing the nighttime routine.  Right now I'm getting up with Hans, but on nights when I have to get up with the kids too, (like last night - Will had a nightmare) it makes it very hard to deal with both situations simultaneously.  Hans needs someone sleeping on the couch next to his crate, listening for his "pee cues" but Will wants to sleep in my bed upstairs with me.  Oh well, it doesn't happen every night, but it means I could fall asleep by 8:30 most evenings.

Will liked the crate too. 
This was a one-time deal when we first set it up and before the dog got to check it out. 
 Now it's the dog's private place, and Will just has to make due being "free."

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Dog is still alive

We had a rough night last night with the crate training.  He barked and whined for almost 2 hours before he finally went to sleep at 12:30.  (Jamie - I think I had e-mailed you 75 minutes....but then he started up again.)  We didn't let him out - hung in there.  And kept to our bathroom routine of taking him outside, but only when he is quiet.  There were no inside accidents.  He likes the crate for resting in during the day - even though we have to coax or put him into it.  Hardly any barking.  We are going to try the radio tonight - thanks to Joe for suggesting it, and yes...it probably will be NPR. :)
Even though some things are going well, and some are requiring lots of work it's much easier because John and I are on the same page about the training.  While others may have opinions all over the place - it seems that we agree on about 100% of what we need to do, and how we need to do it.

I went with Hans to the pet store today for "puppy play time".  But the website was wrong - it's tomorrow.  I'd like to learn more about introducing dogs to each other and get some socialization started right away.  As of right now, Hans is pretty cautious of other dogs and hasn't approached any on his own. 

Even though there was no puppy play time - it's fun to take him to the pet store because people tell you over and over again how sweet and beautiful he looks.  We tell new moms to take their baby to the grocery store when they are having a bad day.  Everyone will stop and tell you how beautiful your baby is and it's a great mood lifter.  Same thing with puppies.

I took Hans for a long walk today and we ended up running about a block and a half home.  This guy was yelling at me to not run the dog - don't run the dog, over and over he shouted at me.  Then I swear he shouted something about an attack dog.  (Like dogs don't know how to run on their own?)  Anyway - after doing some research and talking to a few people it seems that it may be for the health benefit of the dog not to run - I don't know, I guess I just made my 19th dog-raising mistake of the day.  Won't be the first, won't be the last.  All I do know, is that afterwards, I was able to take a whine-free shower.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Worried and concerned.....

This whole puppy thing is still moving forward.  Still working on it, as a total team.  John took last night's shift so I could get some priceless sleep.  Since I'm unwilling/unable to breastfeed the puppy we can both pull duties at night.  :)  (That could have also been "doodies")
John took him out at 11 and then he slept until 3:30, til he had to go out again.  And then again at 5:30 and 6:30.  If we can switch shifts here and there I think it will work well. 

John's tactics last night was to have Hans fall asleep outside the crate, and then put him into the crate, and he stayed asleep.  We'll try that for a bit and see if it works.  I'm not yet ready for him to be loose in the house for the whole night. 

There are very strong coloring in him of a Bernese Mountain dog.  From the nose down, that's him.  From the nose up, it seems to be Rottweiler.  If you google Bernese Mountain Dog Rottweiler mix, it's pretty much a picture of him.  The weird thing about Bernese Mountain Dogs is that their life expectancy is 6-8 years.  Cancer hits them very hard it seems.  But there's also lab, terrier, pointer and boxer in him as well. 

Behavior wise - he's getting better everyday.  I think we've done a good job of putting ourselves in the "alpha" position - so far.  When I went upstairs to get Will this morning, he waited at the bottom of the stairs until I called for him.  And then this morning when I went to the bathroom to put my contacts in, I made him wait at the bottom of the stairs for my return - and he did.  He got treats for that one.  He goes outside with us everyday to wait for the bus.  When the bus comes, he sits while the kids get on the bus - no barking or whining.

Let's see....Molly and Hans.  They are really doing quite well.  Molly's vet told me that it may take 3-4 weeks before she starts eating in her regular place, and following her old schedule, but last night and this morning she ate her regular food in her regular spot, drank from the same water bowl as the dog had and spent the night with me in bed - like normal.  She walks around Hans in the same room, and oftentimes, it seems, tries to bait him to chase her.  He doesn't "go after" her at all.  He's very curious.....cautiously curious since he's gotten her claws before.  It's cute because he faces her with his butt up in the air - begging to play with her, and jumping around her waiting for her to play with him, but it doesn't happen. :)  She also doesn't run away every time.

The only thing John and I are concerned about is his size.  When we were in the process of getting him, we were told that, of course, nothing could be for sure - but his mom is 32 pounds and they expected him to be a medium sized dog - perhaps 50 pounds.  We were ready for him to be even as high as 70 pounds - we could deal with that.  His mother was even in the "small dogs" category.  When I picked him up, I was surprised by how big he was, but he certainly wasn't the biggest of the litter - pretty much in the middle.  According to the staff at the pet store and friends that have commented on pictures - he's more than likely going to be 90-100+.  This is not something we are sure that we are ready for, and honestly weren't expecting.  I can change the behavior - I can't change the size.  John and I are worried that we don't have the house for a dog like this.  What do you think?  (Because we can't decide.)

Oh, and if he is our "furever dog" - do you think we should keep the name?  I'm not 100% sold.  I liked it at first because of the story - he started out as "Solo" because he liked to lay in his own area, and the Fosters changed it to Hans - short for Han Solo.  Also, it's almost like "Hanson" - my maiden name.
BUT it's really hard to say when you are redirecting him or calling for him.  There are no hard consonants in there, ya know?  Something like "Jack" or "Charlie" or "Buddy"seems to be easier to say.  I put I poll on the side of the blog - let me know what you think.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Day......what day is it?

Jim asked a good question - did Katie and Will prepare us appropriately for a puppy?

In some ways yes - in some ways no.  But mostly I think we made the right decision to have kids FIRST to prepare for a dog.  Because a puppy seems to be a lot more work.  I knew going in it was going to be a lot of work, but maybe I'm just sad that I was right. 

Things you CAN'T do to a puppy that would make it SOOO much easier. 
- you can't breastfeed a puppy - this would take care of SO much whining, barking, and general puppy behavior. 
- you can't "babywear" a puppy
- you aren't supposed to sleep with a puppy (for a while I thought this was a bunch of hooey from people that say you aren't supposed to sleep with a baby....but it seems this one should stick to keep the dominance behavior of the dog in check.)
- you can't put a diaper on a baby
- you can't leave the puppy in another room alone to play for a few minutes - did that yesterday and I ended up cleaning up a mess from the garbage can.
- There is no oxytocin hormone release going on inside my body....no bonding checmicals going on here like after a baby is born.  Would make it really easier to love him at 3 am.

Things that are the same after having a baby and after getting a puppy
- I haven't slept more than hour chunks since Saturday night.  (Because before we got the puppy....Will was sick all night.)
- My emotions are sitting on the edge of a pinhead.  I had to go to the grocery store this morning and I was so tired that I started packing another woman's groceries instead of mine.  When she pointed this out to me - I started crying and apologizing.  Of course, I'm sure she thought I was mentaly unstable - which I am at the moment.

Ok - so fine.  What are you going to DO about it instead of complain about it?
I have been reading about specific issues I want to work on first.  Leash walking, crate training, fetch, etc.  I started with "fetch" and "drop it".  You know - when the dog brings the toy back, but won't let you have it.  The tips that they suggested atually worked.  Reward him with treats when he brings the ball back (as you are shouting for him to come back) - he has to drop the ball to have the treat.  Repeat words "drop it" as he takes the treat and soon enough he will do it automatically.  By golly, if he didn't pick up quickly and we were playing fetch without treats 15 minutes later.  BUT then we tried again after the grocery store - and he seems to have forgotten.  But that's ok, I know it's possible.

We also went for our first leash walk to the park this morning.  He kept up and only stopped and wouldn't move forward a few times.  The tips of calling him, rewarding him with praise and petting, then keep moving seemed to work well.  It was funny to watch him on the return home because he was getting whiney - like he didn't know where he was.  Then as soon as he got to our yard and smelled it he started jumping up and down like crazy.

I need to work on the crate training a bit more.  He was very unhappy in it last night.  I had to literally push him in there and you aren't supposed to do that.  He whined and barked and carried on for most of the night in there while he was awake.  So he'd whine and bark for a long time, sleep a bit, wake to go outside, then carry on again over and over through the whole night.  This morning it was very evident he was not happy with the crate because I couldn't even entice him into it with treats. It's getting better.  I'm also not going to let him sleep in the evening tonight - while we are awake, he is too.

On a bright note - he hasn't had any inside accidents since that first day.  He is really very good about going outside, and I guess I'm very good about making sure he gets there. 

And while I write this, he seems all very innocent and perfect.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

This was earlier this afternoon...

Molly met the puppy for the first time!

Day 2

I thought a dog was supposed to help you relax.  Just kidding - I'm a little on edge today just because it's the puppy's first day and I want to make sure I get him exercised enough and worn out, etc.  It's hard to do when he doesn't want to go for a walk.  Right now, he's content walking around the yard on the leash and smelling everything everywhere.  We did get some running done in the back yard.  We also made a trip to Petco - just the puppy and I.  The workers there were tickled pick to see him and he was excited that there was someone to give him extra attention.  (He whined at the door after John left for work....and he whined as the kids got on the bus.)

Molly came out at some point before dawn to sleep on Katie's bed.  I moved her food/water downstairs and have shut the door so the puppy can't get down her just yet.  I'm off to Fleet Farm after Will gets home from school to see about getting a crate.  (They are 50% cheaper at Fleet Farm versus the pet store.)  I looked online for a used one for the size I need, but it's obvious that those were all bought at the pet store because they aren't marked down much!

Once I have the crate, I'm thinking I'll put him inside and then bring Molly up to "meet" him in a closed room.  It's going to take a while, but I think they'll get used to each other. 

Well, I must have done something right in tuckering him out because he's taking his 2nd nap of the day and it's only 11:00 am.  So far we've only had 1 accident inside - which was my fault for not seeing his cues.  He does a good job of going right away when we are outside.

The pet store gave me a sample of gingersnap puppy treats to take home.  I told them that I give the kids 2 days before they try to eat the treats themselves.  They smell really good....

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The new puppy

Working on making him part of our pack.....

But no one has seen the cat yet.....

Holy crap, I think we have a puppy.

I just got notice that we have a puppy. 

We are #1 on his list and all that has to be done is scheduling a meet & greet/pick-up.  My hands are shaking a little bit!  Do you want to see him???  His name is Hans.  He is a boxer/terrier mix.

Here is his description from the foster parents who are housing him in Minneapolis -
"If you are looking for a good behaved dog, we think Hans is it. He is forever calm and never gets over excited. He doesn’t seem to be afraid of anything and is always willing to calmly check things out. Of course, everyone can see how handsome he is!!!!"


Our bathroom

We are painting our bathroom!  John has been suggesting we should paint it for a while now, but it's been easy to put off.  We finally decided to just go ahead with it, so we both picked colors we liked.  We soon found that they were very different colors, and neither side was budging.

We agreed that we would paint the cupboards and wood trim black (actually it's not quite black....but almost.), and here is a sample door up against the two paint choices.  The one on the left is called "dill pickle"...the one on the right is called "sweet honeydew melon".  It looks white in the picture, but it has a light green tint to it.  Should I tell you which one is John's favorite and which one is mine so you can vote?  We seriously thought about that.....but then I caved and let John have his "sweet honeydew melon" bathroom.  The color is growing on me. 

Plus, John said I could have my way in the bedroom (well, that doesn't sound good on a family blog....)  I MEAN, I could could have the color I want in there, since we didn't agree on that either!  I have most of the walls painted in the bathroom - it's taken 2-3 coats because of the deep brown color it was before.  John has started sanding all the cupboard doors and will work on painting them 2 coats of almost-black.  Then we have to get a new light, new light switch/plug-in plates and new fixtures.

I will post pictures of the result soon.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Silver Lining...

Will threw up at 2:30 this morning.  The silver lining?  He actually made it to the bathroom and there was no mess to clean up.  Another sweet milestone of growing up.

Even though there was no mess, I slept in the chair in his room.  Translation: I didn't sleep.  We were up and back to the bathroom every 10 minutes for about 2 hours because he felt like he was going to get sick again, but never did. 

Another silver lining - even though we don't have a loyal, protective dog, we DO have a loyal protective cat. :)  Molly (who usually doesn't give Will much of her time) never left his side.  Every time he went to the bathroom because he felt sick, she was right behind him...at times even beating me!  Then when he would come back to bed, she'd hop up and lay at his feet.....and she NEVER sleeps with him.  Obviously, she's a bit tired today too.

Today, Will feels much better.  It's almost noon, he just had some toast and is watching shows on the iPad.  We are gonna try to nap after lunch.  He has a field trip to the city library on Thursday that he doesn't want to miss.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Thanks for all your thoughts.  The teacher was nice enough to write me back - on a Sunday morning, no less, AND after surgery.  She was immensely thankful and loved the fact that I'm checking and interested.  She said that on an average week she has to enter over 1,000 grades so she's appreciative of having extra eyes checking it over.  That made me feel better. And I will keep an eye on it, and I guess start keeping worksheets for a bit longer period of time. 

My birthday was yesterday and we all went to a restaurant called Osaka.  It's a sushi/hibachi grill place where they cook the food right in front of you (with a bit of entertainment mixed in for good measure.) I had made reservations so we got to sit right at the grill.  The chef shot sake in the adults mouths and Sprite in Katie and Will's - which they thought was ridiculously funny.  We didn't have much luck catching any food in our mouths as it was tossed to us, but the food was very yummy and we have plans to maybe make another trip back for the next birthday in April. 

Katie and I auditioned for our church's musical today as well.  This year we are doing "Willy Wonka."  Should be a fun one to do - and Katie did a GREAT job in her audition.  I'm always so blown away by her ability to stand up on a stage in front of 30 people and belt out a solo.  She was very funny during her read-through and had great expression and energy.  It will be fun to see the cast list in December.  She's hoping to play Violet Beauregarde (the one that blows up like a blueberry) but she will also be just as happy to be an Oompa Loompa. 

We went to an animal shelter yesterday for a meet & greet with a litter of lab/retriever puppies.  Of course, when we got there at 9:45, we were told that the puppies weren't going to be there until 2.  Originally, we had planned on 10, but I missed a message they left the night before.  I guess that one was my fault.  We couldn't make it at 2 and had to cancel that meet & greet.  Turns out the foster mom is adopting the one I had my eye on. 

Right before we headed out to the animal shelter we checked their website and saw that there is a litter of boxer puppies that were just added.  We had originally requested a boxer, so we were happy to see that there were some available!!  And oh boy, are they cute....
Just our luck - those puppies are in Superior, WI.  So now, I am waiting to hear from the owner when he is planning on bringing them to the metro for adoption.  They are already over 8 weeks, so I'm hoping it will be soon.  Correction - I can't contact the owner....I'm waiting to hear from the shelter person, who will hear from the owner.  This red tape is so frustrating.  We are getting closer....I can feel it, but I'm also hesitant to get my hopes up too high.  I am also willing to offer to meet the owner halfway to pick up a puppy, just so we can get him sooner!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

What would you do??

So Katie's grades and assignments are all accessible online as they are recorded and entered in the teacher's grade book.  It's nice for parents because they can help with lost assignments and help keep track of what homework needs to be done.

I hadn't really been checking it, but I looked the other day and saw that she had an assignment in Social Studies on maps that she got 3 out of 23.  And, because they only have 5 graded assignments in Social Studies, this was giving her a D-.

I e-mailed the teacher and said basically - oh my, is this something that we should go over with her at home, did she totally misunderstand the directions?  What happened? Etc.  I hadn't seen a homework sheet like this come home yet.  The teacher e-mailed me back and said that as soon as she read my e-mail she knew there had been a mistake. She went back and checked, and sure enough - it should have been 23 out of 23.  No problem.

So then, today I started going back through Katie's grades for the last 10 days that I still have corrected worksheets for.  (They haven't been recycled just yet!)  Another one pops out at me - a Media and Technology worksheet where it says online that Katie got 5 out of 15, but on the actual worksheet it says 5 out of 5.......but the way it's written, at quick glance it looks like +5/5....or 15/5.....but there are only 5 questions on the page and she got them all right and there is a star and a sticker.  So I'm thinking that this one got entered wrong too - giving her a C- average instead of an A. 

I e-mailed the teacher again - totally feeling like a pestering parent....especially since the teacher is having her tonsils out today and will be gone from school for the next 2 weeks!!  She will be back 4 days before the 1st trimester ends and report cards go out. 

Am I being too picky?  After all, it's 3rd grade.....but these mistakes are dropping Katie from an A to a D- and C-..........should I be double checking all of the worksheets coming home????  Great, more work.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Just voted!

We just got back from voting!  John voted before work this morning.  (I know because I saw his name on the sign in sheet!)  We've been talking a lot about this particular election in our house because the kids are getting older and know the names of lots of the people on the ballot. 

We also have 2 amendment issues on the ballot in MN this year - one concerning a voter ID and the other is a definition of marriage.  We have been strongly against both in our house this election season - even going as far as putting a "Vote No - Don't Limit the Freedom to Marry" sign in our front yard, which we had never done before.

As I was filling out my ballot, I was holding Will up so that he could see too.  When I got the amendment section, I filled in the "No" circle. 

Then, Will (being Will) shouted SUPER LOUD "YAY!  You voted NO!"  We got lots of smiles, laughs and encouraging looks so hopefully that is an indicator of others' feelings as well. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Post Halloween post

The kids had a fun time trick-or-treating.  John even scored a beer at a neighbor's house.  All in all it was a good night, not too cold, no wind, and our light was off at 8:30. 

We have to go to the grocery store today for potatoes, orange juice and milk.  I told Will that we could check on the clearanced Halloween costumes in hopes of finding a bigger Batman suit. 

I got a call from one of the shelters last night and we are all approved and ready to go!  If we select a "bully" breed then there are a few extra steps that we have to go through.  She did tell me (on the down low) that there are some pretty cute puppies being put online in the next week or so.  They are currently being weaned from mom.  The mom's name is Magic and she is a small black lab mix (about 30 pounds).  The previous owners didn't know she was pregnant when they had to put her in the shelter's foster program and they don't know who the father is.  So they don't know EXACTLY how big the puppies will grow to be, but that's a risk with all shelter animals.  I did see pictures of Magic, and oh my....she is gorgeous and sounds so sweet. 

I got an e-mail this morning telling me that the foster mom who is taking care of Magic will contact me when the puppies are ready and we can have first choice and go see them.  So, we may be getting closer....just in time to go for walk, upon walk upon walk in the cold November wind.  :) 

Who knows, maybe we'll have a new member to celebrate my birthday with.

Maybe that means we'll be getting take-out for my birthday instead of leaving to go to a restaurant....