On Being A Dog Owner

*WARNING* Talking about dog puke. Be careful if that grosses you out. Scroll down and I'll let you know when the yuck stops.

My dog has a bit of a sensitive stomach. He's been known to get emotionally upset to the point that he gets physically sick. He used to eat so fast that the food didn't stay down. He ate so many june bugs once that he coughed them all back up.

He's lucky that I don't gross out easily. J is also lucky, since I do all the cleaning up and treating of the sick critters. I've learned, with Rem, that I have to give him a little time and be patient when he gets sick. He'll often just sick up once and get over it. I look for signs, like not wanting to eat, lethargy, or differences in his poop before getting too worried.

There was one time when Remy was getting sick in the middle of the night once a week. Just once a week for a few weeks in a row. I couldn't find any connection to anything he was eating. It wasn't always the same day, or the same time of night, but it would be towards the middle of the week, and just once. We ended up going to a vet because we were taking him with us on a long weekend trip. We also went to a different vet than our usual one. They gave him, like, 4 different meds and a bland food diet. I stopped all but 1 of his meds the next day. The 1 I kept? Pepcid. The same as your or I would take. He only gets half a pill at a time, but it really seems to make a difference when his stomach is upset.

Why am I talking about this? He puked up all his food at 0230 last night. I'm very lucky that he prefers to be sick outside and will head to the back door when he doesn't feel good. Keeps the yuck off the carpet and makes it much easier to clean up. He'll usually stay outside until he feels better. Well last night he came back in, we tried to go back to bed, but he then rang his bells to go outside. Before I could get to the back door, he was puking up the grass he'd eaten after the first time. Ugh. OH, and this was after I stepped in some of the first yuck. Le sigh.

So we cleaned up some more, and he stayed outside for a while. By "we" I really mean "me." He didn't come back in until I made him come in. He was barking at something, maybe someone walking by, and I didn't want to disturb the neighbors. Finally went back to bed an hour after all this started.

This is the second time this week. He did the same thing a couple nights ago. Tuesday morning, to be exact. Now part of me wants to rush him to the vet and see what's wrong. BUT, there's a good chance that there is nothing wrong. I've been trying to remember everything he's eaten the past few days, to see if I gave him anything that could be making him sick. The only thing I can think of right now is his soft dog treats. They're chewy milkbone treats that he's been getting most of this year. But it's the only thing I can think of that I might have given him on days before getting sick, and not the days in between. I checked the treats and found out they were expired, which adds to the suspicion.

He's not acting tired or mopey. He ate a sick puppy breakfast (dry food mixed with some soft food). He won't be getting anymore of those treats (I threw the rest away), and I really think I won't be seeing him get sick anymore. On Tuesday, he ate a normal dinner with no problem. I expect the same today.

*End of Yuck

Let's talk more about owning a dog. I don't mind being the main caregiver for the dog, because I really really wanted a dog. Like, REALLY wanted one. Yes, I get tired of cleaning dog poop, I don't like cleaning up puke, I get annoyed with how much I have to vacuum. But the benefits of this crazy mutt make it all worth it. He can always make me smile, even if he was just getting in trouble. He obviously loves me and needs me. He even loves the cat, and hell, the cat has become a little affectionate with him.

I'm part of a facebook group for helping military families in my city with pets. They search for lost pets, search for owners of found pets, and try to find homes for strays. They make sure people follow the city laws about rehoming pets. The sad part is that you see a lot of military families who would rather give away their pet than move with it. You see the same excuses over and over again: I'm pregnant, my husband is deploying, pet A doesn't get along with pet B (even though they've only been together for a couple weeks), I just can't give it the attention it needs.

When I adopted Duke, he had some separation anxiety. He would cry when I left and cry when I came home. He probably cried all day long. I worked an 8 hour day and had a hour total of drive time, so he was home alone all day. Over time he realized that I kept coming back home, and that anxiety eased. We moved with him, from apartment, to small house, to duplex, then to another state, and again to another house. He hates travel, but is so glad to be with us. He's even traveled with me before. He stayed at Grandpa Weigel's, where he was scared to death of the cuckoo clock, and at my parent's place. He still gets excited when I get home. He still greets me at the door. And if I've been gone overnight, I can hear him meowing from the garage. I would do just about anything for that damn cat.

Now that Duke is FeLV positive, I know that there is very little chance of him coming with me if we were to get orders overseas. I can't imagine not taking him with me. We don't even have orders to leave here yet, and I've made arrangements for the just in case scenario. My mother assured me that they would take in Duke should that situation arise. I told her I would buy them a self-scooping litter box so that she would just have to empty the basket or whatever. But you know, should that day come, I will be in tears over leaving my kitty behind. I love that little stinker and can't imagine him not being part of our lives.

Yet these people will have a dog or cat for years, will raise it from a baby, and then decide they don't want to drive that far with it, so they'll just give it to someone else. It's mind boggling. I cannot comprehend how these people can just give up so easily.

Now don't get me wrong. I have surrendered a pet before. Our first cat, Lenore, A.K.A. Spawn of Satan, was my first kitty. We got her as a kitten. We raised her. We had her spayed. We got her declawed (front only) to save our arms and legs. She was a very violent cat. She loved to fight and would always come back for more. She had some weird, unexplainable habits, like eating clothing. I mean it. Especially knits and fleece, she would chew a chunk out and eat it. We had her for 2 years and she just got weirder and meaner. I reached a breaking point when she ate a whole in my brand new sweater that my sister gave me for my birthday. She pulled it through the holes in the laundry hamper to eat it. But even then, I couldn't bear to take her to the humane society. J did the dirty deed for me. He felt horrible because he ended up taking her on my actual birthday.

I was miserable about that decision. I felt like a failed her.

When I got Duke, I was careful to pick a cat with a personality that fit with my life and my needs. When we picked Remy, we looked for a dog that fit our personalities and wasn't just a hyper bundle of nerves. We worked with Duke and the pup to make sure they would get along. We put a lot of effort into these pets, and it makes me so happy to know that they are happy with us. I still wonder sometimes if they ever found a home for Lenore. J told them about her violent nature and they witnessed it first hand. We suggested someone with a farm, since she would have been an amazing mouser, but I never would have let her around kids.

This is probably the longest post I've written in a while. I like animals. I like animals better than people. Animals don't judge. Animals don't talk behind your back. Animals don't cause drama.

As I write this, Remy is lying at my feet and Duke is in the bedroom, probably on my bed. I will take these critters with me everywhere I can possibly take them. They make my life more livable, and I will make sure they have a comfortable life in return. I can't wait to see how they react when J gets home. I know they will both be excited to see him. Even Duke, who was afraid of men when I first got him. Duke is my proof that love and patience can change an animal's whole attitude. And we are proof that animals can change our attitudes.

EDIT: Let's add some photos, just for fun.

He seems to think he still fits in the cat bed.


holding his chew for him

I honestly don't know. That's the dog's food bowl.


  1. So sorry about Mr. Rem being sick lately. Hopefully the soft treats were the only culprit and he'll go back to being his normal, rambunctious, non-puking self! Hugs to Remy from Team Smith!


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