The adventures of a veterinarian with lots of practical advice but no practical experience on raising a puppy.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


OK -- I'm the freaky lady who doesn't like to leave her dog. I make a living assuring people how I am more than capable and our facility is adequately prepared for caring for pets! Sure - they would rather be at home, I understand that but geez why is it so hard to leave them? I am now crystal clear on why people give me that tragic look of longing when we walk down the hall and separate them from their pet. I get it now - it's hard to have fun on vacation when your baby is in a cage! (Is this really me typing this?)

I learned from my mom (Darcy's MiMi) that Darcy was quick to learn how to escape the pen I had fashioned. Amazingly enough I am still surprised when she does anything naughty! We may have taken a few steps backward in the potty training department because she pretty much ran loose in my Mom's house all day! She got to be top dog and go fun places but... it was difficult to drop her into that little pen and walk away! At least I was leaving her in my Mom's kitchen which was familiar to both of us. Let me picture dropping her off at a kennel... NO THANKS! What a conflict of interest! Why is it OK for my clients to trust me/us with their pets but I'm unable or unwilling to leave my own dog? This is one of those situations I'm placed in with my job - the two sides of my brain just don't agree! The science and fact vs. the emotions. 10 years later and it doesn't get any easier.

Don't get me wrong. We have so much fun with dogs while they are boarding. 99% of them do really well, get into a great routine and have a terrific time playing with other dogs. It is fun to see them experience things and interact with each other. They are really cherished and loved during their stay. But... at the end of the day they aren't in our arms. They aren't in bed with us and we aren't making sure that everything is just so. I've spent EVERY minute of the last month with this little puppy and it's a hard transition to expect someone else to me the mommy.

So what I'm saying is I get it. I had the humbling experience of doing a house call euthanasia tonight. When I walked away from their home carrying the dog they had loved for 12 years it really opened me up to thinking about this. That pet was gone but it still took incredible trust for them to let me take her away. I don't want to pretend that it isn't a big deal. It is a big deal but it's still part of my life. For me to do my job there is pain. Sometimes it's just a tiny twinge when you have to leave your dog for the day or night. Sometimes it's a great big in your face pain.

Hopefully we won't have to leave Darcy for a while. In San Diego and Coronado there were dogs EVERYWHERE! The stores, restaurants and parks were full of reminders that Darcy was stuck back here in the cold! I'll post a picture of the fancy new collar we bought her and her first official jewelry! (I can't really believe how much thought I have put into that collar and name tag.) I bought her a pink leopard snuggly fleece at the street fair in Palm Springs. There were incredible handmade dog clothes and custom harnesses. We bought a fun book about going to the vet in a very cool store Fun dog toys and a sticker for my car ("wag more, bark less") in a San Diego pet boutique. I'm on my way to being a savvy traveler who brings the poodle along for the fun. I know she's ready but we still have to convince Dad!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Prep for separation

We are leaving town Wednesday! Darcy will be vacationing at Mimi and Papa's house while we are gone. Sunday I had lots of cleaning to do in preparation for our Super Bowl party so we had dry run #1. Darcy and the kids spent the day with Mimi and Papa while I spent a good hour vacuuming up dog hair. The official report was: no accidents, very well behaved but was MIA for a short time. After a brief panic and search of the basement she turned up unscathed.

I'm going to take her kennel although she really hasn't spent any time in it. It has a new tray and custom fitting "cinnamon" colored fleece bed - just hasn't been used... I plan on fashioning a puppy playpen with the baby gate but don't know how that will go over - turning the kitchen into doggy daycare. I'm a bit concerned about the fact that Darcy really hasn't ever been away from ME and that she likes to sleep on my bed. You can't really leave detailed instructions for a puppy sitter about how they should tolerate romping, chewing and tug-of-war at 5AM right after her first morning potty break. At least my parents are early risers!

I know she will be fine but we will sure miss her. I am however getting really excited about visiting a certain little doggy boutique that I discovered in San Diego last fall. I'm confident Harper and I will find that perfect something to help dull the pain.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Lessons Learned Part 1

What I've learned so far...

1. I am absolutely not cut out for anything larger than the puppy shown in the above picture. I say kudos to ANYONE who is able to chase after, keep up with or clean up after a puppy bigger than 3 pounds 7 ounces at 14 1/2 weeks of age.

2. Even though she is able to charm the pants off of everyone she meets - this puppy does eat cat poop. I now have an elaborate system of gates and cardboard boxes blocking access. I have also gotten out the baby gate and converted the kitchen into a puppy pen. I keep reminding myself, "An unsupervised puppy is a puppy in trouble"!

3. My voice can go really high-pitched when I say, "Does Darcy need to go potty" or the ever popular, "Darcy is such a smart puppy".

4. I have a lot of people say, "Oh! It's real!". I'm still trying to figure out why they think I would be carrying around a stuffed dog or statue of a poodle...

5. Darcy and I seem to have similar taste. We are both high maintenance. She has demonstrated an uncanny ability to make herself at home in Nordstroms.

6. We are going on vacation next week and our hotel does not allow pets! Why wouldn't you welcome a darling little dog like Darcy? My loyalty to Marriott may be a thing of the past!

7. No matter how many dog toys we have the pile of leaves on the deck have provided WAY more entertainment!

8. If your puppy is sleeping with you and she wakes up a little bit earlier than you would like - keep a stash of Greenies beside the bed! Darcy has a Greenie EVERY morning about 5:30 while I am multitasking - sleeping and at-home pet dental care all at the same time!