Snuggle bug


Where’d Mom go? I guess I’ll keep her side of the bed warm.

I woke up this morning shivering. The bed sheets were gone. I felt around in the dark for a blanket, and discovered a small nest in the middle of the bed. Right on top, I found a snoring pile of fur.

“Charlie! Get off,” Matt barked.

Charlie lifted his head, sleepiliy looked around the room, then promptly fell back asleep.

The general rule is that Lex and Charlie sleep in their dog beds. Charlie’s bed is on Matt’s side, and Lexie’s is on mine. This worked out until we recently rearranged the room. Matt was a little snot and demanded to have the side of the bed closest to the window, so we swapped sides. This caused confusion because Matt still wanted Charlie to sleep on his side.

Lex would rather snooze on the couch.

The first night, I brought Lex up to check out the new arrangement. She sniffed the beds, scanned the room then walked downstairs to sleep on the couch instead.

It took some convincing with Charlie. Matt got him to the new bed location, but by the middle of the night I saw he switched to my side.

“Chaaaarlieeeeee! Come heeeeere!!” Matt begged. Charlie sighed, then buried his head deep in his bed.

By morning, Charlie had relocated between us. It would have been cute (and of course it was!) if he wasn’t such a bed hog. It’s hard to imagine how such a small pup could commandeer an entire queen-sized quilt, and build it into a small fortress. I pulled at the edges of the quilt, and they wouldn’t  budge. Somehow he had Superglued them in place. I wiggled my fingers under Charlie and tried to move him, but suddenly he weighed as much as a full-grown rottweiler.

I grabbed the rumpled bed sheet off the floor, and covered up the best I could. I snuggled in close to Charlie and Matt, shivered, then fell asleep.


The first several days we had Charlie, he happily slept between Matt and me in our bed. He would wiggle between us, roll onto his back and pass out. Waking up to puppy kisses is one of the most divine things in the world.

This continued for close to a week. Until Charlie got worms. Then he was relegated to the dog bed on the floor. He recovered from his ailment almost immediately, but the floor bed orders remained in place. Over time he would sneak up until we saw him, then sulk as he slid off the bed.

Charlie sleeps best in bed. Our bed.

It’s said that dogs sleep anywhere from 12-18 hours a day. As a growing puppy, Charlie has evolved into an expert napper. From the top of the couch, to laying in a sunbeam out in the yard, Charlie catches his share of ZZZZs.

But his favorite spot remains in bed with us. Preferably in the middle, paws outstretched, belly exposed. Soft puppy snores, paw twitches.

Sleep tight, Charlie. Don’t let the bedbugs bite.

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Kibble wars


Charlie caught in the act — stealing kibble from Lexie’s bowl.

We told Charlie, “No cat food for you! One year!” Clearly he didn’t get the “Seinfeld” reference. He still sneaks and nibbles.

If he’s not taking Pink’s cat food, Charlie will grab a mouthful of Lexie’s kibble. This pushes Lexie to the puppy chow. And Pink has been spotted gobbling out of Lex’s bowl.

Quite simply, feeding time in our house has turned into food wars.

Charlie came with a yummy bag of puppy kibble, and instantly turned his nose at it. He’s much more interested in the food that isn’t his. Lexie’s run-of-the-mill dog food is gold to him. Pink’s kibble is divine. Her wet fishy-smelling cat food? Charlie is over the moon.

All the while, his puppy chow sits untouched.

The finest puppy kibble couldn’t lure Charlie to his bowl.

So we went out and bought some Eukanuba puppy chow. It didn’t take long before he was sneaking over to Lexie’s bowl and grabbing a mouthful.

Lexie seemed unimpressed, and nibbled at Charlie’s food, wondering what the big deal was all about.

Since the cat isn’t a complainer, it was probably days before we realized she hadn’t eaten. Charlie had been devouring the dry and wet food, and by then Lex has joined in on the kibble larcenies. Pink watched from atop her new cat tree, and plaintively forced a weak “mew.”

Matt hatched the plan. He grabbed a cardboard box that already had an entry spot and an open top. We put Pink’s food in the box, and she could climb in, with protection on three sides. This seemed to work, until Pink followed a floating fuzzball into the front room, leaving the kibble open for the taking. Charlie and Lexie were eager to munch.

Realizing I had to do something, I took on a new persona: Jillian the lunchlady. I’d like to think I’m a bit cuter than the school marms at my alma mater Field Elementary, but I held firm to their discipline. The approach was simple: Put treats in each pet’s bowls to lure them there, then stand in the middle to monitor as they ate. Hopefully from their own bowls.

Pink prefers to dine at a Paul Newman establishment. Lex and Charlie prefer to eat her leftovers.

Honestly, Lex always has been a self-regulating dog when it comes to her food. So getting her to eat on command was more of a wish than a command. Surprisingly, the organic blueberry treats (!) were a hit, and she lingered to eat some of her kibble, as well. Charlie powered through his treats, and ate most of his puppy chow.

Pink was extraordinarily interested in her food for about a minute, then retreated back to the tree. Of course, Charlie made a beeline for her bowl.

“NO!!” I screamed.

He stopped in his tracks. And went back to his bowl.

A rare surveillance photo of Charlie eating from his actual bowl.

Thinking things were under control, I went to the front room to watch some television.

A few minutes later, Charlie rushed in, and spilled a mouthful of Lexie’s kibble at my feet.

Clearly we’re not close to an armistice in this food war.

As we’re finding with our puppy training efforts, these things take time.

Learning to love the crate … or not


Charlie and Lex snooze away after a day of play. (Photos by Matt)

Everyone has issues.

As for Charlie, our recently adopted border collie mix, he enjoyed making deposits on top of the guest bed or the laundry in the basement.

Seriously, this is not a big deal. I mean, he’s a puppy, almost five months old. Proper house training takes time, and patience. But this became a bigger issue when we visited the vet to treat Charlie’s worms. The vet tech strongly encouraged us to crate Charlie. At night, and even during the day. No more on the couch, and definitely no more sleeping with us.

I was crushed.

I could think of nothing better than waking up to puppy breath. Matt was more straight-forward about it. Charlie needed to learn he was not on par with us humans.

Sigh.

Matt firmly embraced his new role as Stern Daddy. And when Charlie kept pooping on the bed, Matt resurrected the crate. We had tried it for like a day when we first got Charlie, but he peed all over himself. He seemed less stressed outside of the crate. But now, Matt wanted to try it again. We went on a short trip to the store, and left Charlie in the crate. We came back to a completely drenched dog. We couldn’t tell if it was saliva or pee. We washed the crate pad, and left him alone a few hours later. When we returned, again, he was soaking wet.

That night, we played crate games. Matt and I took turns tossing squeaky toys into the crate, alternating with biscuits. Charlie seemed comfortable with it. He even went all the way in and curled up for a few minutes. But when it came time for bed, and the game included closing the crate gate, Charlie simply lost it.

He waited until I was almost asleep, then let it rip. A-WOW-ROW-ROWWWW!!!!!! WOOOOO! YIP! YIP!

I had read that I should let him howl. To not reward him by letting him out. I turned on my side, and tried to not think about the chaos downstairs. I started to drift off, then Charlie stepped it up a notch. I thought of my neighbors, and asked Matt if the downstairs windows were open. He couldn’t remember. I didn’t want anyone to call the cops.

I sighed. Heavily. And weighed my options. I walked downstairs.

Charlie howled until I opened the door. He was dripping wet. I pulled out the wet mat, then took Charlie outside. He immediately peed, so I started thinking he was wet from nervously drooling on himself. Matt and I decided to put a fresh blanket in the crate and bring it upstairs. We got Charlie back in, but he was not happy about it, and let us know all night.

Snuggle bunnies.

We woke up knowing we had to do something. After consulting multiple pet behavior websites, we hatched a plan. We drove to Costco, and bought three dog beds — a large one both dogs could use on the main floor, then two individual beds for upstairs. Then we went to Meijer and bought a baby gate. We put a dog bed on Matt’s side of the bed, and put the gate between the bed and the wall, providing Charlie a space that is about 3 feet by 5 feet.

It worked like magic.

Looking for reassurance, I went to the message boards (specifically my dog friends at Reddit) to get input. Mostly everyone encouraged us to stick with crate training, although some said if the current approach worked that was cool, too.

We tried the crate a few more times (usually when we made short trips away from the house) but the end result always was the same. Charlie would drool all over himself. I began to suspect a form of separation anxiety, and worried that continued exposure to the crate could cause harm.

So we continued with the confined space at night (baby gate, plus dog bed) and experimented with letting him roam free during the day. Even when we were gone. The first time we tried this, Matt and I were terrified. As we drove home, we imagined the destruction waiting for us.

But upon opening the front door, we were greeted with … nothing. Not a squeaky toy out of place. We chalked it up to beginner’s luck, then tried it again. And again. Always with the same result. Charlie didn’t even nibble on his chewy.

What great relief.

Now that Charlie recently taught himself to use the dog door, and apparently is housebroken (through positive reinforcement, he’s finally pooping outside), we get to move on to the next commands.

Did I mention he already knows how to sit?

Puppy love


Within minutes of arriving, Scout was chasing a large tennis ball in our backyard. Bounding, prancing, awkwardly hopping the way a young dog does. Matt and I looked at each other without saying a word. There’s no other way to describe it than … puppy love.

Before we tell any more of this story, we have to thank the people that made this happiness possible: the wonderful volunteers at True Heart MinPin Rescue. Based in Richmond, Ky., foster mom Gail drove almost seven hours to Michigan this morning with precious cargo.

As Scout hopped out of Gail’s car, we noticed he didn’t look much like his online profile pic. He was much thinner (his puppy paunch was gone), his nose seemed more slender and in general he seemed smaller than we expected. And, to top it all off, he was beyond adorable. In a way a puppy profile would never be able to accomplish. Puppy love, indeed.

While we were all standing in the yard, Gail confessed that her husband didn’t want Scout to go. They had become close buddies in the last couple months, and her husband told her, “No one will be able to take care of him the way I do.”

With the compassion of an animal rescue worker, she assured him Scout will be OK, that she was sure of it. And by him letting go, that opened a spot to save another dog. I tried to imagine myself letting a sweetie like Scout into my home for a couple months, knowing eventually he would move on to a loving adoptive home. I don’t think I have it in me. The loss and grief would be too much. Gail and her husband are cut from a special cloth. She told me the first time she and her husband turned over a dog to a new family, they drove a block away, pulled over and sobbed. She said it gets easier, especially knowing when a dog is going to a great home.

See Scout. See Scout play.

Lexie is nonplussed. In fact, she’s taking a snooze right now. Their initial meeting went well, and it was followed up by a thorough butt sniffing in the back yard. Ya know, pups need privacy. You can’t just make a move like that on the front lawn!

And Pink could care less. She seemed more interested in snagging some of his puppy chow than hanging out.

And Matt seems content to have another furry friend to share the couch at naptime. As Matt took a catnap this afternoon, Scout lined up several squeaky toys and ropies along Matt’s belly.

Good dog.

Help us rename Scout!

When I told my mom we planned to let ya’ll pick Scout’s new name, she laughed.

“But you already have the name picked out, right?” she asked.

“No, we’re asking for suggestions, then we will put the top names in a poll. Our blog readers will select the name.”

I can’t remember her response, but I’m pretty sure my mom said we were crazy.

Perhaps, but we’re more than happy to involve you in our puppy journey. I mean, you’ve been here this far; I can tell you are invested. So why not help with the name?

Send us your suggestions, either in the comments below, on the Finding Furever Facebook page or by emailing us at findingfurever2012@gmail.com.

We will pick the top names then post them in a poll, where you will make the final decision.

So far we’ve received a few interesting submissions, including Kitty, Walter, Rocket and Mocha.

Keep ’em coming.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The poll has closed. The name will be revealed tonight! (June 25)