Changing schedules

Donning the military cap in his hatwear series. Photo by Declan

Donning the military cap in his hatwear series. Photo by Declan

We are all back at it. Everyone but Bear anyway. Declan and Maggie start new schools, as do I. And tomorrow we are all back on a schedule. I’m not quite sure where this leaves Bear, though. He’ll be spending more time alone. And after this afternoon’s maxi chip fiasco, he’ll be spending it in the office. Nearly by design, however, my mom recently moved to Portland and will be taking Bear to the river in the middle of the day. So Bear is also on a new schedule.

Bear was home alone this morning after Heather and I left and then Maggie took Declan to his new school to give him a tour. Don’t know the details but I’d bet he was left roaming the home. He may have discovered the maxi chips then. But it wasn’t much later when my mom arrived to take him and Mimi to the river. Mimi is about half the size of our cats, and her droppings proportionally sized, so it text-worthy when Bear had a “two-fisted poop.”

The trucker. Photo by Declan

The trucker. Photo by Declan

Back from the river is when I believe the maxi chips were discovered and quickly consumed. I got home to find Bear and Mimi panting at the door, left to their own devices while my mom went to enjoy a cup of coffee with a friend.

Not having a whole lot of time with Bear anymore, I decided to do some scent work. I walked around with it in my pocket. Bear was acting strange, grabbing a toy and carrying it around for a bit and then going and retrieving it again. he was half-whining half-barking. And finally he signaled the scent. But then he spit the treat out as he walked away. Strange.

So maybe he was reacting to Declan being low. Dec was not low, but he was coming down from a HI reading, clocking in at 378. And then Bear just let loose, throwing up a dark brown substance with a few bits of plastic that smelled like cat poo. He hit the area rug under the table and the wood floor, so clean up was half-good. The color and smell made me wonder if he ate cat poo.

Hitting the slopes. Photo by Declan

Hitting the slopes. Photo by Declan

After dry-heaving through the clean up, I took Bear around the block for his second short-leash walk of the day. He pulled more than normal. Annoying walks again and I wondered if it was the price to pay for total fun free time with Mimi and my mom. And then I wondered if maybe he had to poop, even after his “two-fisted poop” at the river. Releasing him from the short leash, he sidled up to a tree and did the second half of the rooster routine, leaving a puddle of diarrhea. Equipped with a poop bag, I still wondered if it was necessary or even possible to clean up. And for the second time in five minutes I was scraping Bear’s excrement off the ground.

IMG_20130902_211219Back home they solved the mystery. Fiona had taken the pound bag of maxi chips to her room while studying. Chocolate and Bear don’t mix too well. Operation steel stomach now in process.


Back to the dog park

Sleeping on the deck

Sleeping on the deck

It was our third annual trip to the Wings and Waves Waterpark in McMinnville. Last year Bear was along for the trip. This year Bear spent the day in his office. On our return I couldn’t help noticing that Bear was not in the office, but out in the kitchen area. I headed back to the office and nearly fell down by the smell, and then dry heaved seeing the mess of brown liquid on the floor. As my stomach turned right side up, I thanked whoever had the wherewithal to get Bear out of the mess, though they did nothing in terms of cleanup effort.

I wet down a few rags to cleanup and reminisced when we had cloth diapers in Eugene. Whether it was thinking about some of those nasty diapers we cleaned in the toilet, or just a sudden solidifying state of my stomach, I did not add my own mess to the already disgusting floor. What is going on with Bear’s constitution, though?

Bowl of Costco hot dogs and cheese sticks a day

Bowl of Costco hot dogs and cheese sticks a day

Is it the anniversary of his parvo experience, needing to somehow celebrate his survival, Bear’s insides are reminding us how far he has come and how bad it was. Or is it the new high value treat he gets for scent work? He’s been getting about one Costco dog a day for the past week. Though I haven’t tried this regiment, I imagine it could do some damage. After I have one I’ll taste it throughout the day. Or might it be the newly instituted lock down regiment is stressing his constitution? Bear only goes on short walks, no running along with the bike, no dog park, and treats only with scent work.

While cleaning the mess I decided to take Bear to the dog park. We’d walk on leash, which would be painful, before heading to the water and enjoying time off leash.

I finished scrubbing and spraying air freshener (it still smelled of poo) and loaded Bear into the car and drove to the park. The park full of dogs and the smell of the river distracted Bear greatly. He whined a bit and pulled quite a bit. Stay tuned on how the yanking develops into Bear’s lack of feeling around his collar.

And then I exhaled, taking Bear off leash and walking along the beach. The leash swung freely from my hand as Bear charged in the water for a stick. He boxed with other dogs. He charged other dogs, faking to the left at the last possible moment and dove into the water.

We came home and he flopped down, tired for the first time in a week.

Sleeping on the deck

Sleeping on the deck


Bear watches Dec prepare his kong.

Without guidance from the expert, banished from her property because of the dreaded parvo, we have made progress.  Training sessions have become less frequent, though the routine remains pretty similar.  Skills that remain since the beginning of time, from Bear’s perspective, are sit, down, stand, and circle.  Skills from nearly the beginning of time are scent signals (pawing, doorbell, and the dongle), leave-it, nice-walking, and watch me.  Skills introduced in the last two sessions pre-parvo include army crawl (Dec’s favorite), rollover, stay (Bear is nailing this one), nice-walking without leash, and go to bed.

Upward Trending

Walks have been enjoyable for the most part.  Aside from the occasional distraction of the dog across the street or the leaf in the middle of the sidewalk, Bear gets the mullet walk.  If the leash is in the left hand, then it is all business.  He walks at our hip, matching our speed, and sitting down when we stop.  Impressive, I know, but keep in mind that he is getting clicks and treats along the way.  When the leash transfers to the right hand then it is time to sniff and roam around a bit.  To be honest, I was a bit skeptical of this set up, but I see Bear looking back to check and see what hand the leash is in, and going to business or party mode depending on left or right hand.

During the walks we’ll stop two or three times and do some drills.  This lets Bear know that reacting to commands is not done solely in the living room or our home.

The sidewalk repertoire includes sit, down, circle, stand, and stay/come.  Of all these, “down” is the most difficult for Bear.  Unless he sees or smells the treat in hand, he glances at me while I give the voice and hand command, and looks away in disinterest.  If he senses the treat, then he will cock his head to the side, as if asking me what is this “down” word you say.  I’ll repeat the command, lowering my hand nearly to the ground.  This is when he usually makes it to down, putting a paw on my hand as he goes.  Bear is best at the stay command.  At home or on the sidewalk he’ll watch me from 20 feet, waiting for the okay to be released.

Not the best picture, but Declan is getting Bear’s Kong ready, putting peanut butter on the inside of it, before taking it to bed.

At the opposite side of the activity level from walking, Bear is spending more time in Declan’s bedroom at night.  Dec goes to bed earlier than everyone else, and Bear will follow us down to his room, settling into his den under Dec’s bed.  Dec tells us he moves between the den (under Dec’s mattress), the trundle bed, and Dec’s bed throughout the night.  Bear will wake Dec up around five most mornings.  Dec was low one of these times, but I think Bear is getting into the habit of moving around at five, and Dec is accommodating Bear, bringing him upstairs at that time, whether he is low or not.

Holding Steady

Walking without a leash with the pointer clicker, and go-to-bed have not progressed.  I’m afraid that we have missed the next step of these skills and he is learning something entirely different.  For instance, the go-to-bed command is meant to get him onto the “bed”, which is a blue-foamy mat with paw prints on it, that feels like a yoga mat for animals.  To condition Bear to go to bed, we lay the mat out and stand so the mat is between us.  As soon as he touches the mat I click and give him a treat.  At this point he goes into a sit before getting the treat.  To release him from the mat, I throw some treats on the floor and say “okay.”

We have done this drill a lot.  And now we say “Go to bed” as he approaches the mat.  However, I think Bear may be conditioned to go to the mat only if it is between us.  If I release him with treats on the same side as me, then he’ll saunter around, checking out what Ashley is doing, or look out the window.  It was my understanding that if the mat was on the floor then he would automatically go to it, yearning a click and the treat that follows.

“Go to bed” is a crucial command for Bear.  In school, at a restaurant, in a theater, or in a plane, the mat will be put down on the ground with the command, and Bear will plop down on it, staying there quietly until released.

Downward Trend

Unfortunately, the pairing of a low scent and signalling for the scent has digressed.  Pre-parvo Bear was a star at seeking the scent hidden in a pocket, tucked under a sleeve, or stuffed in a sock, and then signalling with either a paw or grabbing the dongle.  Now Bear finds the scent most of the time, but he will mouth it, trying to grab it.  We have had to go back to holding the scent sample in our hand, presenting it to him, and getting him to paw after.  The dongle and door-bell signals have gone to the way side in the pairing.

Bear is very lackadaisical with this work, often times plopping to the ground or looking at his favorite couch while I try to engage him to pair.  Heather and I have to remind ourselves and each other to keep it fun for Bear.  It is very frustrating when he puts his head down.  It feels like a personal affront.  What we’ve found is that simply moving him to another room and giving him energetic pets and tussles puts him in a more receptive state.

Falling off the Cliff

Not sure why, but Bear has taken to making a couple of deposits in the basement each week.  I am unwilling to accept that he is finding the basement a better place to poop than outside.  He sleeps in the basement with Dec most nights.  I cling to the hope that Bear is finding a second best place to poop.

Two nights ago Bear left a pile in the laundry room and one in the common room (both in the basement).  After cleaning it up, Heather found a small piece by the back door.  That small piece gives me hope that he was trying to get outside to the preferred spot.  Unable to get outside, Bear found the laundry room, which probably feels like a good place to make a deposit to him.  The laundry room has a concrete floor.  In the middle of the floor is a drain.  When the pump decides not to pump, then water spews from the floor drain.  Though we can’t smell it, Bear might pick up some septic smells from times when the pump quit working.  I am holding on to that logic.  I do not want a dog that feels comfortable pooping inside.

Bear and I go to a lesson this afternoon.  We are not meeting at Kristin’s place, but we found a park in between that we can meet at.  I have a lot of questions about how we have been doing and what direction to go.

The ins and the outs

Jelly and Bear share food and water

Much like with a new baby, I find myself focused on what goes in and what comes out of Bear.  My mood throughout the day is largely dependent on the healthfulness of Bear’s poops.  You can tell how the poops are on how I walk.  I walk confidently with a healthy firm poop.  Not only are they easy to clean up, but it is an indication of a healthy internal system.  All the mechanisms functioning smooth.  Second to the firm poop, is the Lego siting.  Everything is functioning, but I begin to wonder how many remain?  If one made it out, how many are stuck?  Looking out for signs of stress and pain, I worry about a pointy Lego-arm caught in Bear’s duodenum, causing some inflammation, some internal bleeding, and potentially a cut in the GI tract.

The random Lego siting is much better, however, than the excrement that resembles a Coke-flavored Slurpee.  With a Lego siting things are working inside,  but with a Slurpee something has shut down.  Could it be something he ate?  Or maybe he caught some virus (parvo?)?  How long do we wait before calling the vet?  And if we go into the vet, what will they be able to tell me other than to make sure he gets enough fluids and to get a sample?  And getting the sample turns my stomach, putting into question the entire puppy experience.  I begin to wonder if there might be a nice farm where Bear might be happier.

After witnessing a Slurpee, I am watching what he eats and making sure he doesn’t steal away to some hidden corner of the house to make an unwanted deposit.  It is tiring.  And beyond being on constant watch, I am anticipating what the next experience may be, updating how I might react to another Slurpee and hoping it will not occur in a neighbor’s yard.

Fresh from a walk, I am thankful that Bear has gone from the Slurpee to a goat cheese log: soft but holding form.

Another alert while sleeping?

Going to bed last night, Declan was 394, which called for a two+ unit correction.  In the past we might leave that alone, not knowing how it might metabolize through the night.  And there were times, depending on how active he was, that he woke up with a low blood sugar after having a 400 reading before bed without a correction.

But Bear was sleeping in Dec’s room last night, so Declan received a correction.  At 530 this morning Declan brought Bear to our room.  I lay in bed thinking Bear may have alerted Declan of a low blood sugar.  Should I get up and test Dec’s blood sugar?  It was early, though, and I needed to sleep.  When the alarm sounded without any more sleeping, turns out Declan was low.  He didn’t test, but he grabbed sugar tabs on the way back down stairs, and he was 107 when he finally tested at 630.

I am chalking this up to Bear’s second low-alert.


Not exactly sure why it happened, but Bear took a dump in Maggie’s room last night.  It could be that she had a tarp down while painting the walls (some last-minute redecorating before the first day of school); or it could have been the chicken scraps I gave him.  Needless to say, he deposited a soft-serve mound in her room.  He was considerate enough to leave three-quarters of it on the tarp.

Sidenote: Bear and the cats, Jelly and Ashley, both male cats, are more comfortable with each other.  Jelly doesn’t react at all to Bear yapping and general annoyance, while Ashley has taken to hissing and punching.  One or both of them come on the walks with us.  They generally lag ten feet behind us.  They must know how much this annoys Bear.  They saunter along behind, and he continually checks where they are.  Today Jelly followed us across a busy street.  This was a first, and I was worried he might not make it back across.  We lost site of him on the walk, and I wondered if he might find the underside of a tire.  I listened for tires screeching.  While typing just now, Jelly slinked in through the window.

And then

We could go back pretty far to find the root of all the events which occurred in the past 18 hours or so.  Could be last March when we decided to dive in and get a service dog.  It could go back to when we were finishing our basement and we decided to go with the pump to get the waste water up to the main stack.  We could go back to when we started having kids, which would then have us digging out the basement (with 5-gallon buckets) to make room for our growing children.

After winning the first game of the tournament, Maggie’s soccer team had just lost six to nil in the second game.  It was a triple digit degree day, and still hot driving home at 830.  I looked forward to a cold beer and an early bedtime.

And then (1)

Walking in the door at nine, I was happy to find leftover burritos in the fridge.  Normally not one to be an audience of boys playing Xbox, I quickly learned why Heather was in the TV room with Declan and two of his friends.  “Declan has lice!”  Have you seen Declan’s hair recently?  The lice had hit the Trifecta, the Club Med for Lice.  Vacation for the lice is over and just in time for our vacation to begin; we are set to fly to visit family in San Diego in just over a day.  Note to self: call and tell sis that we are traveling with some unwanted baggage.

And if you are one of those people who gets grossed out by the mention of lice, then you are probably in the group that either has young kids or no kids.  Just wait.  And don’t freak out when it comes.

Heather was toiling over Dec’s scalp after the treatment, nit-picking, literally (that is where the term originated).  I was trying to enjoy my luke-warm, half-eaten, chicken burritos, trying not to overheat as the heat of the day did not relent to any evening cool breeze.  It was as if we were back in Arlington, VA.

I noticed Bear was conspicuously absent from the scene.  It being so hot, he might be down in the basement where it is slightly more inhabitable.  What garbage was he finding?  What shoe was being torn apart as he played unsupervised in the cool of the basement?

Finishing the burritos, I search for Bear in the basement and actually felt a slight chill in the cool air of the basement.  Bear was nowhere to be found, however.  He was not in his crate that he has begun heading to on his own for his incessant naps.  He was not in Maggie’s room, a favorite of his with hidden snacks all over the place.  He was not in Declan or Fiona’s room.  Turns out he was upstairs sleeping in our room.  And he had a little throw up on the carpet earlier that Heather didn’t have time to clean up.

And then (2)

Bear was clearly not feeling well.  He turned his head away when offered food and water.  After witnessing Bear dry-heaving, bringing back memories of college, I tried to feed a Pepto-Bismol to settle things.  It worked for me back in the day.  However, he doesn’t even take the cheese wrapped Pepto-Bismol that he normally dances for.  Could it be that he’d moved up to larger Lego pieces and the 2×4 piece was now somewhere stuck?  More memories of retching to get every last drop from the evening help me empathize with Bear attempting to expunge something from his body.

Bear does settle down a bit, goes to the bathroom outside, and is ready for a good night’s rest.  Nit-picking is complete, Bear settled on his bed, and we are ready to call it a night, finally.

Bear dry-heaves again and I decide to call the veterinarian.  After being told that things can go downhill pretty quick with a dehydrated puppy, I pack up and take him across town to Dove Lewis pet-hospital.  They tell me that we should go in the side entrance as there could be potentially dangerous germs to keep Bear away from.  This is what I heard, but on reflection I realize they wanted us going in the side door to protect all the other dogs that might be in the main lobby.

After a quick physical, the vet says there may be something blocking his intestine.  He was in a lot of pain in one particular spot in his lower intestine.  “Is there anything that he could have eaten recently?”  she asks.  Legos and Nerf bullets run aplenty in our home and are available like food at a Las Vegas buffet.  Damn it, he got into the Indiana Jones set and was able to force a figurine down.

Bear being 14 weeks old and having already received three of the four Parvo vaccinations, it is unlikely that it is Parvo, but the vet needs to rule this out.  So a swab of stool is tested.

A mere twenty minutes later, slightly longer than a pregnancy test, but looking just like a store-bought pregnancy test, the Parvo test is positive.  This is when I realize that we were brought in the side entrance for just this situation.  Parvo is an extremely resilient, deadly virus.  High and low estimates are presented for Bear’s stay in the isolation ICU.  I ask if this will keep him from going to Kristin’s to be boarded while we are away in San Diego.

The enormity of Parvo has not hit me, and I wonder if I’ll be able to pick him up before Maggie’s 1030 am game.  The timing and location of her game was perfect.  We’d take Bear to the game, which was way out in Hillsboro, but very close to Forest Grove, where Kristin lives.  The vet very gently lets me know that it is unlikely he’ll be released later in the day (it being 130 in the morning by this time, game time is a mere nine hours away).

After nearly maxing out my credit card, Bear is taken to isolation ICU.  Before leaving I have to dip my feet in some solution to shed the Parvo, if any remained on me.

As the reality of Parvo sinks in, and the explanation of the danger of it and how it is transmitted, I manage to send an email to Kristin to let her know that Bear is Parvo positive.  It’s possible that other puppies he has played with have Parvo.  Bear could have gotten it from them, or he could have given it to them.

And then (3)

After each training session with Kristin, Bear goes on recess with his litter-mates and other dogs that she is training.  The favorite by far was Calvin.  Super mellow, Calvin would saunter up and lean up against you, nosing your hand to give him a pet.  He was the Mr. McGoo of the group.

Kristin’s message back at 730 the next morning is concern for Bear, hoping that he will pull through, and that Calvin was in a drug-induced coma, and that she might have to put him down.  She did have to put him down, and a large brain tumor is believed to be the cause.

Big bummer.

And then (4)

Declan and his friends are up, having breakfast and getting set for a day of Xbox and swimming.  Heather and I are trying to pick up the pieces before heading to Maggie’s game, then to visit Bear, then back to another game, and then back home to pack and get ready for our 630 am flight.  Still unsettled is where Bear will be when released from the hospital.

I send the boys down to brush teeth, hoping that Declan will find the tooth fairy’s gift.  He lost a tooth while I was at Dove Lewis. As I’m packing Bear’s pen and bed up, I hear the boys screaming that the bathroom is covered in water. F***!!

This goes back to digging the basement out and having the pump eject waste-water up to the main stack.  Intermittently, the pump will be on but not pumping anything out.  This causes water to back up out of the floor drain in the laundry room, and in this case the toilet never switched off after a flush.  The turn off valve never switched off, so the water just kept flowing, and with nowhere to go, it flowed over onto the tile in the bathroom and out into the hallway.  The good news is that the water flowing in the basement is clean, straight from the tap, almost.

Not sure why this gets the pump to work, but I merely have to unplug it and plug it back in and then it is able to work.  Every towel in the house is down soaking up a small portion of the water.  Did I mention that we are going to San Diego the next morning?

After several times wringing out towels in the bath and reapplying to the floor I have the stroke of genius to borrow Aaron’s steam cleaner to suck up the water.

It’s 1015 and we have to leave to catch some of Maggie’s game, which happens to be a mere five miles from Kristin’s house, where  Bear was supposed to stay.

On our way home we visited Bear.  He is not doing that well.  A cone around his head and an IV in his leg, he struggles to keep his head up.  The tech said that he was better in the morning, and even ate a bit, but after a giant diarrhea, he was clearly feeling worse.  He has not hit bottom.  We are hoping a bottom occurs that he climbs out of.  At this point they can only support him, providing hydration and nutrition.  He is also on some pain killers.

We are hopeful that he rebounds and is able to be picked up by friends who will care for him until we return.

Lego siting

Declan has a lot of Lego pieces.  The floor of his room is often completely covered with Lego pieces.  This is not an exaggeration.  If unchecked the common room in the basement, the living room, and most of the dining room table becomes work-space for Lego creation.  I haven’t done this (yet), but I would estimate the Lego’s would fill up a 26 gallon trash bin.  In addition to the formal work-spaces, old cottage cheese containers or plastic bags function as mobile Lego work site.  No one can escape the colorful hard plastic pieces.  Not even Bear.

Besides Legos, Declan has a dozen (or so) Nerf guns.  Though Nerf guns can be fun without bullets, the preferred mode is fully loaded.  Once loaded, bullets fly.  And they are occasionally found and reloaded.  Nerf bullets are sprinkled throughout, not as ubiquitous as the piles of Lego pieces.

Though Bear is limited to the dining-living room area, he continuously finds and chomps on Lego pieces, which I fish out of his slobbery mouth.  Second to Lego pieces, Nerf bullets populate corners of the floor and crevices on the couch.  Nerf bullets and Lego pieces are the Starburst and Jolly Ranchers in Bear’s candy store.

Bear loves to find a Nerf bullet in the long shag carpet of the TV room, possibly in a former pee or poo spot, chew on it as if it is a piece of Hubba Bubba Bubblegum until the plastic tip pops off.  Then he continues to chomp, alternating between the plastic tip and the foam shaft.

Not to gross people out too much, but what goes in must come out.  What I wonder is how many remain in his gut.

1×1 Lego piece

Nerf bullet

Do I need help?

Two close calls this morning

In the beginning we were pretty militant.  Bear was to sleep in Declan and Maggie’s rooms.  He was to alternate between the two.  On the very first night we got him, he was sleeping in Declan’s room.  Bear gets up early, though, and we told them too simply bring him up to our room when he got up.  That’s not quite true.  That was the second version, the slightly watered down version.  Originally we told them to take Bear outside before putting him in his pen.  We may have some silly ideas about raising a puppy, but we are not against changing things up.  Taking care of Bear quickly became a big burden for both Maggie and Dec.  Bear now alternates between our room and the kids’ rooms.  And when he is in their room, they just bring him to our room when he wakes.

So last night he was in our room.  At 530 he lets me know that he is up and ready to go.  I am not, however, so I pull him up on the bed, hoping he will settle back down.  And he does!  I was pretty surprised how quickly he settles back down.  The small drawback is that he is now taking up close to a third of the bed.  We delay the getting up for a bit, but the reason for Bear being up and ready is again letting him know it is time to go, and he starts high-pitch yelping it.  He is up on the bed still, which is a funny thing because he has jumped down from heights greater than the mattress.  For some reason he still thinks he can’t get down from the bed.  Lifting him down to the floor, he does a couple of whines.  What a baby I’m thinking.  I just need a couple of minutes to gather myself.

I see him starting the forward squat to pee when I realize that he’d been trying to tell me something this whole time.  I’d even taken my turn at the toilet, not thinking of Bear.  So I do a high-pitched yelp to halt the flow hopefully.  I scoop him up and take him outside.  “Cha-ching” and he is peeing where he is supposed to.

Back inside, making my coffee and getting breakfast ready, Bear feeds from the weeble-wobble toy that dispenses food as he noses it around the floor.  Dreaming of the hot cup of Joe and breakfast, I notice how quiet it just got.  Where did he go?  The gate to the TV room is down from watching US Women’s gymnasts get the gold last night.  I run in to the room to Bear in full ready squat.  Another high-pitched yelp from me, I scoop him up to take him outside.  As he unloads in the yard I am wondering if there is a small treat somewhere in the TV room as Bear is a traveling pooper, often times leaving three piles to scoop up.  Luckily I got him on the first unloading.

Lesson here is that if without an accident for a week, you need to keep an eye on the little guy.