Friday, June 18, 2010

Mission Accomplished

I just wanted to take a moment to put up a quick note saying that J.J. just left for his new home. There's a family that has a farm about an hour from here that wanted to add J.J. to their brood. Ten acres, two other dogs, and about four kids that he can ran rampant with.

He's their dad's Father's Day present.

I'm gonna miss the pup, even though I look forward to finding our forever dog.

Good luck, J.J.!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Happily Ever After

One year ago today, Sam and I married.

We, along with my sister and best friend Sherri, left OKC early in the morning for our flight out west. There was a great deal of excitement on everybody's part. Quite possibly, Sherri's excitement was that she was getting three days out of town, with one whole day to herself in Las Vegas, but I won't say for sure that's the case. Even though she has gorgeous pictures from the Bellagio.


We had a brief layover in Denver, maybe 40 minutes or so, and then we continued on our way.

A year later I still remember the slot machines in the airport when we arrived at McCarran, and how utterly hungry we were. We wanted lunch, badly, but it was barely 10 am local time.

Ignoring our hunger for the time being, we found our way to the bus ride out to Circus Circus. Once we arrived there, we ended up waiting for about an hour in the lobby until they had our rooms cleared, thanks to the lovely time difference. (I had built in a good deal of extra time between when we arrived and when we were supposed to walk down the aisle, in case there were mishaps.) We kept getting distracted by the ticket booth down the hallway advertising all the various shows in town. Eventually we got to go see our rooms and drop off our things.

Sadly, I was a bit disappointed with the rooms--I've gotten more amenities at a Motel 6. Literally. Hotel room didn't even have a coffee pot.

Vegas just isn't what it used to be.

Anyhow, afterward we went in search of sustenance. I remembered from previous trips how Vegas had tons of cheap buffets and restaurants, so I was looking forward to good, cheap food.

Like I said, Vegas just isn't what it used to be.

After an overpriced meal we could have gotten at any diner in the Midwest, we went somewhere... I can't remember if we went to the courthouse first or upstairs to fill out all the paperwork at the wedding chapel, select our music, and so forth. I think we went to the Chapel first.

To be honest, I hadn't really given any thought prior to that as to music or the other little details they wanted to know. I just knew that I wanted to get married to this wonderful, handsome redhead who'd wandered into my life. All of these details came out of left field. Not to mention that the music choices were rather, erm... uh... cheesy? I know, I know, it was a wedding in Vegas, but still! We went with the only inoffensive choice, which was Pachelbel's Canon in D. At least it wasn't done by Jingle Cats.

As I've mentioned, we also had to travel out to the courthouse to get our marriage license. Thankfully, that was one of the few times in my life when social security didn't screw things up for me. (To date, they have the wrong birthday and name for me. I've decided to just live with it.) It was a very long wait, and poor Sherri had to wait outside in the Nevada heat the entire hour and a half it took us to get through the line and to do all of the paperwork.

I don't think I ever stopped bouncing on my toes the entire time. Or staring at all of the other people waiting to get their license. I couldn't help but wonder how many of them were truly a last minute elopement; Sam and I had made our decision to go to Vegas several months earlier. For many, many years I'd declared that I was not going to suffer through a large wedding, and the man who chose me was A-okay with that.

(To the eternal gratitude of the rest of our family and friends, however, Brad and Regina organized an absolutely lovely reception for us a couple of weeks later. I have the most awesome friends!)

We then returned back to the hotel, and had a couple of hours to kill before the big moment. Sherri got to aid me in all of those last minute preparations for hair, clothing, and such. Everybody needs a Sherri to help them when they're getting married. I'll even loan her out to you if necessary!

The three of us made the trek up to the Chapel about 30 minutes early, and to our surprise and delight we could go ahead and do the ceremony ahead of schedule!

While strains of Pachelbel's Canon floated through the audio system, I walked down the aisle, my entire attention focused on the man I was about to wed. We joined hands and stood before the preacher; it was the beautiful and romantic moment I'd dreamed it would be.

Then we found out that our preacher was straight out of The Princess Bride; but we didn't care.

Twenty minutes flew by in a blur as we said our "I do's," and I became the happiest woman in the world.

Le sigh.

Then came the flurry of pictures and signing papers and taking care of more of those pesky details. Once again I don't really remember that much of it--just that I was wondering why in the world I was wearing 3-inch heels.

Overall, though, I wouldn't have traded any of it for all the tea in China.

A year has passed since that joy flooded my soul, and I can say with complete honesty that despite the roller coaster ride we've been on for the last year, I am just as madly in love with my husband as I was a year ago today.

I love you, my Sam, and I look forward to our spending our years together in love happiness.

Love is patient, love is kind. It doesn't not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. --1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Reading the Fine Print

Sam and I have come to a very sad, very disheartening realization/decision. We're going to have to find J.J. a new home.

We both love J.J.--he's an absolutely adorable dog, very smart and very playful. Unfortunately, he is not a good fit in regards to our cats. J.J.'s first instinct is to hunt--he has what is called a "high prey instinct." As such, if you toss a toy, he doesn't just want to fetch it--he wants to rip it to shreds.

The last couple of days have been very rough, especially Monday. When we awoke Monday, this is what we saw out of our back yard:

It was a very, very rainy day. So rainy, in fact, that this has been termed a once in 500 year flood. Because of this, we had to keep J.J. inside all day. This was very rough, as J.J. is a high energy dog that needs to burn off lots of energy, and he did not want to go outside into the rain--even to do his business. This meant the entire day I spent in the back room with J.J., trying to watch for signs that J.J. needed to eliminate and to keep him from tearing up everything in the house.

We were doing okay in the morning. In the afternoon, though, he was becoming very aggressive towards me--constantly biting at my fingers and toes, even when I was trying to distract him with his chew toys. By the time Sam returned home from work, I was a nervous wreck from trying to deal with J.J. all day.

Eventually we got through it, however.

Yesterday (Tuesday), the weather was much improved, so we were able to let him be outside. This made the puppy happy, as he very much wants to be outside where he can run around and burn off energy.

Unfortunately, however, he was still being very aggressive with me--particularly after I'd had Nala in my lap for about an hour. When I brought him in that afternoon, he was aggressive/snappy at the cats as well, and had I not been there I think he would have figured a way over the doggie gate in order to chase them.

Last night Sam and I had a long conversation over what to do about J.J. We both like the dog and want him to be happy. However, we don't really want a strictly outside dog, as we're both inside people. (Sam's sunburns from that first day should have hinted at that.) But J.J. wasn't happy whenever we'd bring him inside, as he needed space to run around. More importantly, we didn't feel comfortable about having him around the cats.

Then we did a little research, to see if there was a way to keep him and train him with the cats. As we read, however, we found that the two breeds of dogs that have the hardest time with cats/other small animals, are hounds and terriers.

J.J. is a Beagle (Hound) / Jack Russel Terrier (Terrier) mix. No wonder we were having such issues with him wanting to attack things!

The two of us both still want a dog, but we need a dog that is a better fit for our home. We do not regret taking J.J. home at all--someone needed to rescue that puppy! However, we don't want to keep him long term. Therefore, we've put out ads in a couple of different places for J.J., in hopes that we can find him his permanent home. Once that's done, then we can look at finding a dog that will fit in with our lives.

Still, it makes me very sad that we will have to part ways soon with J.J., as he's a very lovable puppy.

To err is human, to forgive, canine.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New Digs

Consistency and I, well, we've always had an off-again, on-again relationship. Sometimes, consistency and I are like that couple who are constantly talking to and touching one another. Codependent, if you will. Other times, however, we're like that couple who are "in a long-distance relationship but still like to see other people."

Thankfully(?), the addition of J.J. has led to my, personally, having to stay consistent and follow a schedule; this aids in my desire to blog. Why it works, I don't know, but it does!

Now, as I've mentioned numerous times, Sherri also has a blog now. So I was checking out her page, and loved the way it looked. Personality, life, joy... so pretty to look at. Plus, I follow several other blogs through Google Reader, and after looking at Sherri's I went to check out their pages. Will's is simple and clean, with a gorgeous lighthouse, which I think is perfect because I think of Will and I think of beaches and curiosity. And sharks. But not jellyfish.

I peeked at Kelly's, and hers at least is laid out the way I remember--all those lovely books! Not to mention more "professional" sites such as Whatever, WWdN: In Exile, Boing Boing, and Pioneer Woman....

All of this to say that I became dissatisfied with they way my blog looked. So, I changed it! My home is brimming with life these days between family, friends, cats, and a dog, and I wanted to share that feeling with all of you.

I hope you enjoy it.

Also, because I felt the need to share.....

Design is an opportunity to continue telling the story, not just to sum everything up.

--Tate Linden

Monday, June 14, 2010

Week 12, Days 4-5

Week 12, Day 4

Saturday was Week 12, Day 4 for our little J.J., and he had a very good, very busy day. He continued on his streak of no accidents (hurrah!), and continued to get better at his pack walks. Despite his desire to chew on the tendril of evil which clips to his collar (his leash), we're still making progress with walking.

That afternoon/evening, Sherri came over to keep me company, since Sam was working all day and had a gig in the city that night. We fed the pup and put him out in the yard for a couple of hours while Sherri and I went to eat some tasty fish at Red Lobster. During dinner, Sherri and I decided to depart decorously and divert dollars towards delivering delicious doggie treats and dainty doggie toys to one deprived, demanding dog.

Oh, and capture a couple of captivating treats/toys for a couple of capricious cats.

(Isn't alliteration fun, children?)

When we came back, J.J. was overflowing with puppy enthusiasm. Literally. So we put him on a leash and took him for a brisk walk together. We then crawled into Sherri's car with J.J. and drove over to her house to introduce J.J. to Grandma K.

It was a good trip all around. J.J. rode excellently in the car (with the help of a treat or two), and when we got to their house he ran rampant in their backyard. J.J. was particularly fond of Grandma K's pant leg.

I wish we could have stayed over longer, but unfortunately I take after my father, and mosquitoes absolutely love the taste of my blood. Finally, the number of bites I was getting forced us to go back home, but J.J. did fairly well when all is said and done!

He rode equally well going back, and once we got him back in his pen, he went straight to sleep and slept most of the night until Sam got back.

Week 12, Day 5

Some days you wake up and not only do you know that everything is going to go your way today, but then it actually does. You get the girl, you get the job, you win the lottery--great things to make a great day.

Sunday was not that day.

Upon completing our pack walk and breakfast, we put J.J. out in the yard so that we could go to church. After church we had lunch with Sherri and Grandma K, which was quite delicious. We came back, took care of the dog, and relaxed a little bit before heading out to play D&D with our local group at about 3 o'clock.

We were a bit flummoxed as to what to do with J.J. while we were gone. On the one hand, it was supposed to be in the mid-nineties that afternoon, and we don't really have a good source of shade yet in the yard for the puppy. Plus, it had also been two days since the puppy had had an accident, so that was encouraging. On the other hand, we'd never left J.J. by himself in the house yet, and it would be about three hours before we could come back and briefly feed him and let him out to do his business. We didn't want to put him in his kennel, because we want him to only associate the kennel with bedtime, not with being punished or loneliness.

After extensive deliberation, we decided to go ahead and leave him in his pen inside the house, sans kennel. After all, we figured, it was better to have to clean up an accident than to end up with a heat-stroke-suffering J.J.

We had a fantastic time playing, and at about 5:30 took a dinner break so we could come back and take care of J.J. Unfortunately, J.J. couldn't last that long, so it took us awhile to clean up, feed him, and put him out in the yard.

However, it wasn't that bad I suppose, and we ran back to the group to finish up our session. When we returned home at about 9:30, J.J. was uber-excited to see us, as he had spent most of the day by himself. We immediately took him out for a rather long walk around the neighborhood, before coming home to play a little bit before bed.

One of the things we've been working on with J.J. is to not bite humans. He can chew on any toy he wants, but humans don't qualify as chew toys. J.J. bit Sam while they were in the back yard and managed to draw blood, so Sam flipped J.J. onto his back and held him down in the yard until he finally submitted. It took about 30 minutes or so, during which time J.J. constantly squirmed and tried to bite at Sam, but eventually J.J. relaxed. I must confess, watching it was very difficult, but Sam said it needed done. Afterward, I cuddled with J.J. for a little bit when they came back in, and then it was bedtime.

Everybody was glad for bed.

Now, if only the puppy and I can survive our fist rainy day together....

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.
--Roger Caras

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Week 12, Days 1-3

Week 12*, Day 1

So Sam and I brought this little rascal home Wednesday afternoon.

In my previous post, I ended with Sam heading to the city for a gig and J.J. and I were hanging out at home (with a brief, 10 minute visit from the pretty Sherri). Thankfully, J.J. was napping and I was researching how to raise a puppy. On his drive home, Sam gave me a call saying he was stopping at Wal-Mart to get a crate for J.J. to sleep in that night. Which was fantastic, because I was planning on suggest he do that very thing.We think the same way sometimes. It's quite frightening. That's right. The world should fear us.

Sam soon returned with a portable, collapsible kennel, like Suzy and Nick use for their dog, Toby. As soon as Sam set it up, Techie ran into it and declared it his new home, and woe unto the foolish mortal who tried to say otherwise.

I then pointed out Techie that he hates any kind of pet carrier. Techie explained I'd never got him a plush, comfy carrier; I'd always provided hard, plastic carriers that were scary to ride in. I then reminded Techie that he worships the ground I walk on. Techie was like, oh yeah, and decided to get out of the carrier.

(Speaking of the cats, Techie tolerates this new animal in their lives much better than Nala. The first night Techie went up and touched noses with the puppy and followed him at a distance. Nala took one look at the dog and ran under the bed until further notice, thank-you-very-much.)

Once we evicted Techie from the kennel, we persuaded J.J. to go in and go to sleep. Sam and I then followed suit.

*When we took J.J. to the vet, they wrote him down as being 12 weeks old. Based off of our research and observations, we think J.J. may be closer to 10 weeks, but for the purposes of this blog we will go with the "official" guess-timation. Also, I'm considering his first day with us as Day 1 of that week. FYI

Week 12, Day 2

About 5 o'clock in the morning, Sam and I awoke to J.J. yelping his little head off, and we figured the poor guy had to go out to the bathroom. Sam got out of bed and told me to go back to sleep, which I quite willingly did. I found out the next morning that sometime during the night, the collapsible kennel had collapsed in on top of J.J., and that as a result he'd soiled the kennel. Not a good start to the day.

First thing in the morning, we took J.J. out for his first pack walk. The trick is teaching him to walk on his leash so that he's walking either right beside or slightly behind us, and not pulling out ahead of us, as that would make him think he is Alpha over us. Being his first time on a leash, he did fairly well. Sam is pretty good at keeping the leash the right length. From what we've read and seen, when you're walking a dog you should have your arm hanging loose at your side so there's no tension, and have just enough slack in the leash for the dog to move about 6 inches in any direction before the leash pulls him.

We ended up having to drag J.J. a bit before he caught on to what was going on, and of course he kept getting distracted by anything and everything. Each time he'd start to stop or go after something different, Sam would make a "chhhkt" noise and tug the lease so J.J. would refocus on following us. It took us about 15 minutes to make it around the block, stopping at each corner and telling/showing J.J. how to sit and wait.

Once we got back, we fed J.J. and then took him immediately outside, as when a puppy is young, food he eats puts pressure on his colon and makes him have to go pretty much immediately. Unfortunately, Sam was feeling pretty horrid due to food poisoning from the Italian restaurant we stopped at the previous day, so he called in sick and went back to bed for about three hours.
During those three hours I was about ready to pull my hair out. It wasn't too bad at first, because J.J. just collapsed at my feet under the desk and slept for an hour. When he woke up, though, I petted him for a couple of minutes and then he squatted down and started to pee.

I immediately did the "chhhkt" noise and stopped him mid-pee, as I'd read that you have to catch dogs in the act for them to understand what they're doing wrong. If you wait until after they pee, and then rub their noses in it and say "bad dog," they learn that the mess is bad, but not that the act of making the mess is bad.

After telling him no, I took him outside so he could finish the job. We stayed out there for about 20-30 minutes and nothing happened, so I brought him back inside. Perhaps a grand total of five minutes passed before he peed, I mean, eliminated, inside of the house. Back outside we went. Another 20-30 minutes pass. Again. We go inside. Again. He eliminated inside of the house. Again.

Rinse. Lather. Repeat. About 2-3 more times.

By the time Sam got up again, I was becoming highly frustrated. Sam took him out for me, and I started doing some more research. Sam went around and started patching all of the holes in the fence, J.J. staying close to him the entire time. Before Sam had finished, I had a plan of attack, which I shared with Sam (he approved). We left J.J. in our newly fixed yard, and went to Walmart.

Once there, we returned the collapsible kennel that had tormented J.J. (ah, customer service, how I don't miss working in your field). We then went and bought J.J. a real, honest-to-goodness crate, a gate, a doggie bed, and some small rawhide rolls; the rawhide bones are too big for his mouth, unfortunately.

After suffering through Walmart's oh-so-fantastic check-out lanes (why, in the name of all that's good and holy, does it always take 20-30 minutes to check out, even when you use the self-check and/or 20-items-or-less aisles?), we came home and put up the dog-fence between the kitchen and laundry room. We set up the crate, put his bed inside of it, and J.J. fell in love. I think he could spend all day curled up in his bed chewing on his rawhide rolls.

Unfortunately, the laundry room is where we were keeping the litterbox, so we had to move it out into the front room for now. Nala had an accident in the bathroom because she couldn't find the litterbox, but once we showed her she was fine. (Hallelujah for accidents not happening on the carpet!)

As the day progressed, we got a better handle on what to do as far as housebreaking is concerned. After he woke up from a nap, and after he got finished eating, we'd take him out until he eliminated. When he did, while he was doing it, we'd tell him to "Do your business!" and then tell him what a good boy he was.

We also took him for his second pack walk. He did better this time around, though he was frightened by some of the dogs we passed by. Sam would gently tug the leash to take his attention away from the dogs when we passed them, and just stayed calm and confident. At one point Sam handed me the leash and marched our two neighbor dogs (little chihuahua terrors) back to their yard, and then we kept walking J.J. He seemed to be doing pretty okay.

That evening Sherri came over, and kept us and the puppy company for a couple of hours. He was doing much better by this point, and Techie and Nala would come up to the fence and look at the sleeping puppy. Once we put J.J. into his crate, Techie even hopped over the fence to say "hi!" to me and stare at the dog in the crate.

When we went to bed, the puppy started howling (a true-blue hound dog howl, too) because we'd left. Sounded almost like a tornado siren. Okay, not really, but it was high and annoying. Based off of what we'd been reading, we just ignored him and eventually he fell asleep.

Day 3

Sam got up every three hours or so during the night to let J.J. out to do his business. Unfortunately, Sam was unable to get to J.J. quickly enough to prevent accidents in his crate, but thankfully we had a couple of different bedding options, so we could be washing one while he was sleeping on the other.

That morning we decided that I would take J.J. on his pack walk by myself, as Sam had to get a few things done before he went to work. Unfortunately, I'm not as good at it as Sam--I was keeping too much tension in my arm, which was making J.J. nervous. But, we managed to get around the block, and when I remembered to relax, he walked pretty well right beside me.

I started doing a routine with J.J. Before he goes outside, I make him sit, praise him, then make sure to walk out the door before he does, and once I'm out side I tell him "Outside, J.J., outside!" and have him follow me. I then tell him to "Go do your business!" At the beginning of the day I had to do it while he was actually eliminating, but by the end of the day, whenever I'd tell him to "Go do your business!" he actually would. In fact, he made it through the entire day (and night!) without having a single accident.

After Sam had left for work and J.J. had had his breakfast, I left J.J. outside for a couple of hours so that I could get some housework done. I'd check on him by looking out the window from time to time, and aside from almost getting his head stuck in a folding chair, he had a fairly uneventful morning; and yes, I did go fold up the chair so it was no longer a hazard.

After I brought him back inside, we did some work on the "Sit" command, though it's difficult to do with just praise and no treats. Thankfully I managed to pick some up today, so starting tomorrow/Monday I'm going to really focus on training him on the "Sit," "Stay," and "Come" commands.

Thankfully, he was tired out enough from his eventful morning that he spent most of the afternoon napping. One of his favorite "sleepy" activities is to lay down in my lap and chew on his rawhide roll while I hold it in place for him. It's a good together activity.

That evening we went on another pack walk, and Sam had to distract him from a couple of dogs that were aggressive towards J.J. However, we controlled our impulse to comfort J.J., and after a few moments he seemed as good as new. Sam's parents came over later that evening to admire our new puppy, and J.J. was pretty well behaved for it.

While Sam was bidding his parents goodnight, I was sitting in the laundry room with J.J., who was curled up in his bed. My hand was draped across his back because I'd been petting him, when Techie nonchalantly walked up to the fence and jumped over it. Regal as a king on his throne, Techie sauntered up to me to be petted by my free hand, completely ignoring the puppy. J.J. made one move as though he wanted to chase after Techie, but a quick "Chhhkt!" stopped him. Techie took three more pats before slowly turning, looking J.J. in the eye, and hissing. Before I could do more than snicker, Techie had turned his back with grace and poise and then jumped back over the fence.

Have I mentioned how much I love and adore Techie? He's the best black cat familiar a witch could hope for!

Nala, meanwhile, still wants nothing to do with "That Thing" in the laundry room.

Also of note, J.J. did not have one single accident that entire day/night.

Thank you for mulling this over. If you haven't finished this, well, I don't blame you. Though I suppose, if you didn't finish it, you didn't read that last sentence. Hmmm.... Well, thank you to those of you who did participate in this meandering, wandering post. I'll try to be more coherent in the future. As it is, it's now 10:45 and I'm going to bed.

Until next time!

Puppies are nature's remedy for feeling unloved, plus numerous other ailments of life.
--Richard Allan Palm

New Life

Klaatu barada nikto!

Whew. It's good to be back.

Okay, okay, so a lot has happened in the *cough*5 months*cough* since I last posted. Sherri's been riding my arse, reminding me that I needed to update, until she eventually declared the blog dead.

Ah well. Good thing I have an excellent res spell handy.

Since I last posted, Sam has graduated from OCU, we've moved, Sam has a job, we have a house... oh yeah, and we now have a puppy named J.J.

J.J. is the most recent change in our lives. Sam and I had been talking about getting a dog since last Christmas, but we didn't want to get one while we were in the apartment, as we felt that would be cruel to a dog. Heck, I thought it was cruel to the cats, but they were stuck with it. So, last Wednesday (in honor of our upcoming anniversary) we went to a couple of the local animal shelters to see what we could find.

Sam and I were looking for an older dog--somewhere between 1 and 3 years old. My husband had never had a dog before, and while my family had a dog when I was a child, Boots passed away when I was about 8 years old; we never got another dog. Which meant neither of us had much practical experience with dogs, and certainly none with puppies. As such, we were wanting a little older dog.

The first shelter we went to was here in town. About 8 dogs were needing a home there. Unfortunately, none seemed like a good fit--one of the poor dogs didn't even have bottom teeth left any more! Others were too hyper, or obviously had housebreaking issues (which is what we were trying to avoid). There was a gorgeous white Husky/Lab mix, but he wouldn't even come up to us--he hung out at the very back of the cage. Combating disappointment, we decided to travel out to Tecumseh (the keeper at the local shelter suggested it) to see what we could find.

It took us about an hour to locate the place and make an appointment with the gentleman who was in charge of it. Upon arrival, we found only two dogs there--an older chihuahua, and a little puppy who looked to be 2-3 months old. Now, any one who knows me knows that I feel that small dogs, like chihuahuas, are merely a snack for real dogs, so he was out of the question. I already have two cats, thank you. The puppy was very cute, but we really didn't want a puppy either. While we were talking with the man who ran the shelter, he explained that the policy at the shelter was to only keep dogs 2 days, and if no one claimed them to then put them down. They'd picked up the puppy out by the lake on Monday.

We couldn't leave this little puppy, knowing that if we didn't take him he'd be put down that evening. Just wasn't going to happen. So, against our better judgment, we went ahead and took the puppy.

The shelter man was delighted to have someone take the puppy--he didn't even charge us for him. Just said to take him and be happy. As I was settling into the van with the puppy in my lap, I looked down and saw that he was absolutely loaded with fleas and ticks--one of the ticks on his shoulder was as big as my thumbnail.

Now, what you have to understand is that ever since I was a small girl, I've had a deeply rooted fear of bugs (usually spiders, but sometimes other creepy crawlers get me going). Laying eyes upon that tick made every hair on my body stand on end, and I think I might even have started whimpering in my throat. Poor Sam got to hold the dog instead, and we drove to the vet so fast I think we violated a few laws that haven't even been invented yet.

Thankfully, the vet is used to this type of thing and had a plan ready for such a contingency. After they gave the puppy his first round of shots (who up to his point had been called such names as: Max, Malcom, Seamus, Jack, and Bandit), they then sprayed him down with this absolutely foul smelling liquid. Imagine someone taking a vial of cat pee and a bottle of rubbing alcohol and mixing it together in a can of hairspray. Now multiply that times 10, and you have a vague idea of the scent of this stuff.

However, within a minute, fleas and ticks started raining down off of this dog. You'd run your hand along his back and bugs would literally cascade down off of him. After that, they gave him a pill inside of a doggie treat, telling us that within 30 minutes it should kill off the ticks clinging to him. The final weapon in our arsenal was a small packet of Frontline, which we were to apply along his spine when we got home, to ward off fleas and ticks in the future.

Filled with joy at the prospect of new, clean puppy, we headed for home. Also, we had settled on a name for the puppy. Sam thought he looked like a bandit, because the puppy has a black "mask" marking over his eyes and ears. I didn't want to call him just Bandit, however, so after discussion we decided on Jesse James, or J.J. for short.

Here's a picture of J.J.'s face, the little bandit.

Grandma Nena quickly made the connection to the Dalton Gang when she found out about it.

Once we'd arrived home, we then commenced upon the next engagement of our battle against The Bugs. This maneuver began with a bath, to get that absolutely horrid goup off of his fur. (J.J. was unimpressed with this.) While a great many fleas were wiped out by the downpour, there were a number of survivors still clinging to J.J.'s coat, not to mention the ticks which were bunkering down. We then began the process of using my Leatherman to grab hold of ticks/fleas, pull them off of the puppy, and squish them between the Pincers of Doom(tm) or against the Post of Judgment(tm). This went on for an hour, with the terrain heaving the entire time, thwarting our aerial attacks. (J.J. was full of puppy energy and wanted to explore his new home.) We gave J.J. a second bath and rubbed him down with towels, before continuing our ongoing mission to destroy all insect life upon the pup.

(For those of you worrying, all of this took place outside. I wasn't letting J.J., no matter how cute, into my house until we'd eradicated the fleas and ticks.)

J.J. continued to squirm and whine for the next hour, before finally, finally falling asleep in Sam's lap. Once that happened, the Battle for a Clean J.J. turned for the better. We literally went over J.J. with a fine-toothed comb to find every creepy, crawly thing on him and pick'em off. Three hours after the battle was rejoined, we succeeded in wiping out the local bug population.

So we now had a clean, happy puppy.

You can see him above, finally getting a real nap. You can also see the insects' revenge upon Sam--a massive sunburn all over his legs, arms, neck, and head.

That evening, I kept J.J. company while Sam played a gig in the city. We only had one accident, which thankfully was in the laundry room, and he spent most of the evening napping at my feet while I was doing research online as to just what in the blazes you do to potty train a puppy.

For the record, I'd be absolutely lost without the Dog Breed Info Center. The person who wrote most of the articles on the website is a huge fan of Cesar Millan (of the Dog Whisperer fame), and so she is able to explain everything in excellent detail, and provide anecdotes from her adventures with Allie the Boxer, Bruno the Boxer, and Spencer the Pit Bull and how what she's learned applied to them.

I'm going to try (emphasis is on the word try) to get another post up soon detailing our adventures since getting J.J. cleaned up. However, I have learned the sad lesson of not to make promises on this blog. So I'll just try my best.

Blessings upon you!

P.S. You can view my Flikr photostream of J.J. pictures here.

Whoever said you can't buy happiness forgot little puppies.
--Gene Hill