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

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


As the mother of a 9 year old girl I guess I could choose to stick my head in the sand. I could just assume that she is a smart and generally self assured little girl and should be able to figure some things out herself. After all, I know my Mom & Dad showed me a book at some point but my memory of the actual "facts of life" talk is a little vague. With TV, Facebook, texting, movies and 1000 other little girls around will I really have to tell her straight up? For now she is blissfully unaware and I'm loving it. She thinks boys are icky, kissing is icky and Daddy kissing Mommy is extra icky. So far so good!

Darcy on the other hand seems to have a crush. This isn't Bieber fever or me mooning over Josh Groban. I think it is generally a good thing that I approve of the fellow - he seems to be a fine, upstanding guy. He seems to appreciate her for her amazing personality, not just her long legs, flaming red hair and flawless teeth. They are comfortable with each other and don't have any of the gut wrenching insecurities that come with typical teenage love. They greet each other passionately, cuddle and touch whenever possible and are just happy to be together. They are not afraid to proclaim their love to the world and just when it gets all mushy - wham - full body contact puppy wrestling. Snickers is young and will find a great home with a wonderful family soon. Darcy will just be a memory and he will move on to other crushes - kids, neighborhood dogs and a variety of Petsmart goodies. He will remember something about her consistent, gentle love. He will know that she welcomed him into HER environment with open arms and just shared, no strings attached. She won't be heartbroken - just happy.

I guess I need to face facts that my kiddos are growing up and that loving is part of the deal. I'm imagining the tears, heartbreak, and raging hormones. I'm trying to figure out how to negotiate the dangers of social media, cell phones and the internet. I'm hung up on how scary this will all be for me and not realizing that it will shape my children into the adults they will become. The example my husband and I set for them, the choices and decisions they make in their own relationships AND my ability to remain sane will help to define how they will treat others. Amazing!

Life lessons, love lessons - courtesy of Darcy.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Birthday Girl

Today Darcy is 1 year old. I thought about having a party - although how exactly does an adult go about throwing a 1st birthday party for a dog (I almost said puppy!)? How would I actually schedule some sort of a "celebration" without confirming the suspicion that I actually am insane? The kids and I have talked about it, lots of ideas involving cupcakes, party hats, pictures and all the neighborhood dogs - did you notice I said kids? There isn't really anyone else here (over the age of 8) that might want to actually go the distance with a dog birthday party. So... I'm thinking it over and to be honest... I would really rather celebrate with a little retail therapy. I don't need a cupcake and it would probably give Darcy diarrhea. I don't actually own a little doggy party hat and I'm not really crafty enough to make one. I took a picture to commemorate the day but our neighborhood dogs aren't really refined enough to invite. I'm sure you know what I mean.

Oddly enough I happened upon an amazing website with gorgeous handmade collars. That is more like it! A new collar for Darcy will be just like a new pair of boots for me! Then, I watched Pride and Prejudice and ogled her namesake in her honor. I guess I'm trying to justify my vices - online shopping and Matthew Macfadyen. Is there shame in loving fine leather goods and fine English actors? Is there shame in self gratification and pinning it on a poodle's birthday party? I guess what I'm saying is that I would understand (and won't judge!) either approach - cupcakes or collars.

Happy Birthday Darcy! The past year has been so much fun and we are so fortunate to have you in our family. You truly are part of our lives now and have adjusted to the chaos beautifully. Our harmonious dysfunction has certainly shaped your little doggy personality and your "endearing quirks" are no doubt due to my own "endearing quirks" - I'm not sure that is a compliment! Take us or leave us we are a pair and I can't wait for all the birthdays to come!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I have a client who recently told me that their 14 month old dog had NEVER laid down in the house - not even one time. Since acquiring this puppy and now over 1 year later - he has yet to lay down and just rest. I still can't believe it. When the family is sitting around watching TV and just relaxing - he won't, can't or doesn't know how to just be still. OK, I have a 5 year old son and we often marvel at his perpetual motion but he eventually does fall asleep. This particular dog is just conditioned to sleep in the kennel at night, otherwise he is on the go.

I mention this because I just absolutely love Darcy's ability to rest, be still and relax. She takes relaxation to a new level and will fall asleep in my arms like a dishrag. She curls up in the crook of my knee and will be dreaming in mere minutes. When she is so blissfully peaceful it's near impossible to be wound up. She melts and I can start to unwind. I think that ability to seize the moment and refresh is important. I am in the middle of a transition that could keep me awake and stressed. I know they say that petting a dog can lower blood pressure but petting Darcy can hypnotize.

My husband thinks that having a dog in the bed is annoying. I think her bedtime and wake up routines are endearing and comforting. She trusts in the safety and security of her home, doesn't sweat the small stuff and knows the importance of just being "near". Good advice if you ask me!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Where did the summer go?

So much going on and the summer has passed us by. Darcy has enjoyed the heat, water, sun, fun and has grown into... well lets just say she's grown. She hasn't grown much in stature, she seems to be destined for the 5 lb mark. Slim, trim and too busy to eat but just the perfect size to tote anywhere and everywhere. She's grown in a sense that she has seen more of the world. She has had so many firsts and has taken everything in stride - wide eyed and cool as a cucumber.

She has had her first dip in the pool and is a natural swimmer. She has played with her first litter of kittens, stayed in a hotel, stood on a rock in a cool river, seen fireworks, heard summer thunderstorms, caught endless frogs and bugs and has truly learned to appreciate air conditioning. She has crossed Kansas and looked out the window to gaze at Pikes Peak. She stood tall on a boat with the wind in her ears and got her own lifejacket. She slept in a tent and tasted s'mores, the consummate camper.

But - I guess some things will never change. She still tips her food over before she eats it and she is still relentlessly chasing the cat. She loves every dog she has ever met - some more enthusiastically than others. She loves the car and tolerates the crate. She owns my office and has more than one person catering to her every whim. She still loves her green bed the best and still sleeps at my feet.

So, no matter what changes I've had a ball watching her test the waters. I've decided to include the pictures most representative of her summer. Two pictures are from our camping trip to Crested Butte, CO. She stuck her head into a hole and luckily didn't meet up with whatever made that hole! She had no fear of the frigid river and loved watching the kids play on the rocks. Also, "Captain" of the pontoon. Although her favorite part of boating is the usual picnic lunch that seems to accompany the ride, I pretend that she is sniffing the wind and reminding herself what a lucky little puppy she is.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Shaved, sutures and sleep...

This was a big week for me - I decided to spay Darcy and Thursday was the big day. I really had mixed emotions going into this day but none of my anxiety revolved around the surgery itself. As odd as it seems, I found myself stressing about the little stuff and worried about her whining and crying in the cage all day. I wonder if my clients are more nervous about the surgical procedure and anesthesia or the cage??? I was completely confident in how the surgery would go and knew that I'd make sure she wasn't hurting but if she cried all day... how would I cope with that?

One of my dearest friends had a tiny chihuahua that needed to by spayed so we agreed to schedule Paprika and Darcy on the same day. We decided we could support each other as veterinarians and nervous (neurotic?) pet owners. They both are between 4 and 5 pounds so I went carefully to my calculations - how to create the perfect blend of sedation, pain control and anesthesia? Well, I suppose my fear of her crying in the cage won out because man did she sleep! I can honestly say that she felt no pain and had no stress while caged - I doubt she even knew she was in the cage! I was so happy that she was calm for her catheter placement, had perfect vitals during the procedure AND slept the day away peacefully after it was all said and done. The only evidence of the day is a shaved belly, 3 little stitches and a missed grooming appointment! Her usual Friday spa treatment was postponed until next week but she certainly isn't objecting to that!

I guess my confidence is restored. I'm so proud of my anesthetic safety, pain control protocol and staff training. I love the fact we can monitor EVERYTHING and keep the little ones warm while they are asleep. I know the results of lab tests and examinations and can tweak my protocol as a result. I KNOW that my clients "babies" are safe, sound and comfortable and that the day of spay or neuter is just a bump in the road. However I know that it may be a day full of worry, stress and fear. I was able to hold my girl before, during and after the surgery. I checked on her constantly and had lots of people helping me out. I never doubted she was OK. So I realize that we need to educate our clients about the procedure itself and the finer points of anesthetic safety but it wouldn't hurt to spend a little more time telling them about how much lovin' they get too! We cushion their heads, cover their tootsies and tell them over and over that it's going to be OK. We open up cans of yummy, stinky canned food and take them to potty. We pick out the perfect blanket, bed or towel for each one as they are waking up. I guess it's some kind of female coping mechanism for dealing with stress! Fuzzy, warm blankets and comfort food make everything better!

So Darcy has almost forgotten about that scary day and is being really good about not licking her sutures. She peed on my lap during the drive home because of all those wonderful hydrating fluids! She is 36 hours out and back to tormenting the cat. She ate all her dinner tonight and was chasing bugs in the yard (all time favorite game).

After an overall good experience I can say that I've really stepped up my game on brushing her teeth - lets put off that first dental cleaning for oh, 10 or 11 years!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

6 Months Old!

Well Darcy is 6 months old and finally had a big girl haircut. I decided that she was almost unrecognizable as a puppy - looking more like a red miniature sheep! Halie her groomer has taken great pains to carefully tease, trim and scissor her into quite a beauty. It is a pretty stressful situation because no matter what great marks I may get as an understanding boss - my staff seems to think I'll blow my top if Darcy's haircut was botched! Now I know that I really like her to look pretty but... seriously!

I've seen clients get MAD (I mean mad!) about their dog's eyelashes being trimmed. I've seen soccer Moms, sweet Grannys and well mannered gentlemen show their "not-so-nice" side when Fluffy's topknot didn't measure up.

I know I'll be just fine if Darcy's haircuts have highs and lows - just make sure her nail polish and bows match! The funniest part of this whole story is that Darcy's current playmate and best friend is a hairless Chinese Crested puppy named Andy (you can see his nose in the picture). They seem to accept each other - one furry and one bald - and will wrestle for hours. Darcy has ninja like reflexes and can grab the one patch of hair on Andy's head and hold on like a bull rider! Until Andy is adopted they will continue to be the oddest couple I've ever seen!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Why do puppies chase feet...

... and why would I shoot several minutes of video of her chasing my feet? I'm sure all of you out there understand - I'm addicted to taking pictures of my dog. Darcy is naturally a calm, well mannered little girl, loves to get into adorable poses and so I guess my instinct is to snap a (few) pictures! Nothing wrong with that right? I feel so accepted, I know everyone reading this probably has several (hundred) pictures of their dogs on their camera... right? OK so it's not that bad but I do have to balance it out - one of the kids, one of Darcy - and so on.

Lately she is a bit more wild when outside running in the tall grass. It seems to be some sort of energy source. She almost turns into a different dog when her ears are blowing in the wind and the sun warms her red ringlets. How amazing to experience your first Spring and honestly not have a care in the world. Darcy has found everything about the change of seasons to her liking and is right at home with the top off the Jeep. She sees birds, hears the frogs and has experimented by chewing on some pretty icky stuff in the yard. She seems to fear nothing and I'm already thinking about all the fun the summer will bring. I decided tonight to buy some sort of contraption that will allow her to ride along on my bike.

So I've posted the video of her running around chasing my feet. It will be so fun when she is an old lady to look back at this moment in time and remember all that fuzzy hair. When she looks up at the camera the expression is priceless. I've caught evidence that she DOES potty outside and also some evidence that when I call her name she doesn't always come running. She and my 4 year old son seems to be in the same stage of development. In my defense she usually comes when I call but the 4 year old still needs some work.