And Baby Makes Five

Gertie and Duke are going to have a younger sibling! It’s not a puppy, though, but a human baby.

You can’t really tell, but the boxers’ bandanas say “Big Sis” and “Big Brother” in October-inspired colors.

I know that Gertie especially finds human babies quite lickable, but it will be interesting (understatement?) to see how the boxers handle this new addition to the family–one that stays in our house, and cries, and requires Mom’s attention! We will find out this fall–I’m due October 3.

Duke has been extra protective of me. He’ll wedge himself between Tom and I if he thinks Tom’s being too rough with me, and his definition of rough includes hugging for a little bit too long, certain dance moves, and other miscellaneous movements. He doesn’t like to go into the doggie daycare room now because he thinks he has to stay with me. And I have to be pretty careful if people try to come up to us during a walk, or if a visitor or service person comes into our yard. Duke is not messing around when it comes to protecting his mama!

Gertie is kind of like, “Whateves!” She trots happily into doggie daycare like usual. I do think she has been extra lovey with me, though. She give me many more kisses than usual, and we cuddle a lot. I imagine she will be put out when my belly gets too big for me to make the lap she likes!

I am a little bit worried because Gertie and Duke are used to getting a lot of attention from me. And while our hearts expand to hold all of our dear ones, time doesn’t expand. I just don’t want Gertie and Duke to feel neglected or unloved, especially during those busy, sleep-deprived first months.

What advice do you have for preparing dogs for the arrival of a baby?

How Do You Get Woodchuck Hair Out of Your Teeth?

This was Duke’s conundrum.

Neither of these is the actual woodchuck that Duke and Gertie caught. I was too busy screaming and trying to wrestle the dogs away to take a picture of THAT woodchuck.

You see, the boxers encountered the aforementioned furry woodland creature on an outing several days ago. I let the dogs off leash in a field, and I saw Duke startle on the other side of a tiny wooded outcropping. I thought he had encountered a bee, or maybe even a plant he’d never seen. But when I rounded the little tree I saw a terrified but aggressive woodchuck. Then Gertie saw it–or more likely smelled it, as it produced a musky smell similar to that of a skunk (though thankfully not nearly as strong!). Both dogs lunged at the rodent, although Gertie waffled between attacking and cowering (Am I the brave huntress? Or am I scared of this thing?). I screamed and screamed for the dogs to come to me. That didn’t work, and when Duke had the poor creature belly up, I started to run away because I knew I didn’t want to witness the gruesome kill. (I know, I’m a coward, but it seemed a foregone conclusion at that point.) But somehow as I was starting my escape, Duke backed off just enough that I could grab his harness. And Gertie was just scared enough that she wasn’t going to attack alone, so she eventually came with me. Phew!

The woodchuck, much to my annoyance, stood its ground the entire time. Once I finally had a hold of the dogs, I urged it to Shoo! But no, it just bristled its fur and released some more musk. It didn’t seem very big, but it must have been a mother protecting its babies. So I’m extra glad the dogs didn’t kill it (and that would have been a disgusting clean-up job; it may have rivaled the deer poop puke incident).

Duke did come away with a small trophy. A day later I noticed a little bit of blood on his new toy, so I opened his mouth to check his teeth. I didn’t find the source of the blood, but I did find some gray-brown reminders of his big adventure–woodchuck hair. (Duke was never actually too worried about the woodchuck-hair-in-teeth issue. As I was writing the first part of this post, he was sawing logs so hard that the woodchucks are worried about their habitat.)

A few days after that, I took Duke to the vet for his annual check-up. The first thing Dr. Weber did was open Duke’s mouth to check his gums. He said, “Hmmm, Duke’s gums are getting even more overgrown. He’s even managed to trap some hair in them.”

Me: “Yeah, that’s actually woodchuck hair. He and Gertie caught one. But it got away!” I explained that I didn’t really know how to remove woodchuck hair from a dog’s teeth (and I had kind of forgotten about it). Dr. Weber grabbed a cotton swab and swiped the hair out from Duke’s gums. Hmmm, I guess I could have done that. The job did take two more cotton swabs and a pair of tweezers (and even caused Dr. Weber to comment, “Gross, Duke.”).

Free of woodchuck hair and oh-so handsome!

Luckily, the dogs didn’t run into Willie the Woodchuck, a frequent diner in my parents’ yard, when we visited that weekend. They did run into these two bundles of cuteness:

Gertie and Ella (my niece)

Gertie thought she needed to share Tyler’s blanket.

Have your dogs ever caught a creature unexpectedly?

Wednesday Woofs and Wanderings

I have lots of tidbits I would like to share with you today, so please bear with my ramblings. Just think of yourself as a dog on a walk, sniffing any and every bush you happen upon.

1. Greetings from sunny Iowa!

I laughed out loud when I saw this picture, taken by the great people at Dog Zone Daycare, so I had to share it with all of you. Do you think he resembles anyone?

2. Today is my birthday. I tell you this not to force birthday wishes, but to discuss Gertie’s unique way of celebrating. She chose to wake me up with a rousing rendition of “Whimper, Whimper, Whine.” I assume this is the dog version of “Happy Birthday”?

3. Have you seen this?!

Piper, a seven-year-old bulldog rescued by an artist, has taken up painting to calm her nerves. Admittedly, her artist companion helps her out by holding the paper and changing colors, but Piper works the brush with her mouth and her head. Read more and see a video of Piper painting in this article. Also, check out her Facebook page (it offers details on buying one a Piper print–I have my eye on one!).

I hope you enjoyed your walk through the ramblings of my mind. Hey you! Stop marking!

What do you think of Piper the One-Eyed Painting Bulldog? Does your dog ever wear sunglasses? Does your dog “sing”?

How to Save a Dog With a Photo

I have saved the following links in my bookmarks and drafts for months now, and it’s about time they see the light of a post. They focus on the impact that quality photos can have for shelters and rescue groups.

Can We Save More Lives Simply By Taking Better Pictures?

This article from the ASPCA website simply explores the question posed in the title, and the video imbedded within it is an inspiring, must-watch video (this coming from a notorious ignore-r of videos included in articles and posts–it’s short, I promise!). The differences between the Before and After shots are staggering. (And I realize that shelters and rescue groups are often run by overworked volunteers who may have amateur photography skills at best and little time and amenities with which to produce great shots. Berg advocates that professional photographers “adopt” shelters or rescue groups to save dogs, and she also offers webinars to teach amateurs how to take better pictures of dogs. More about that below.)

The problems in the Before shots include terrible lighting, unpleasant backgrounds, odd poses by the dogs, and pictures taken through fences, kennels, or cages. The biggest difference I noted between the two sets of photos, though, was in the dogs’ eyes. In the Before photos, the dogs’ eyes are sometimes closed or glowing (as their eyes are wont to do in response to flash). Other times they’re shadowed by the poor light or blend in with a dog’s black fur.

In the After shots, the viewer can see the light, and the life, in the dogs’ eyes. They now look like beings with souls and potential friends (even soulmates–The eyes are the window to the soul, after all). Similar to the way a potential buyer walks through a well-done open house picturing herself in that home, a potential adopter can more easily see herself opening her home, and her life, to a dog with whom she can connect.

Teresa Berg’s Five Tips for Better Dog Photography

Laurie Bartolo sent me the second link, above, and it features the same photographer in the original link/article. In this link she offers concise, helpful tips for how to get good photos of dogs–whether your own or adoptables.

While I am not going to delve into whole paragraphs of description or promotion, I do urge you to check out the sites below:

  • Teresa Berg’s site: Focus on Rescue.
  • Berg is not the only pet photographer advocating for volunteers to take up their cameras and save more dogs. Check out this post by I Still Want More Puppies about the group Second Chance Photos.
  • HeARTS Speak. This organization, of which Teresa Berg is a member, “unites artists with shelters and animal relief organizations in order to save the lives of animals and better the lives of people” (they said it so well, and I am lazy, so I borrowed their words).
  • It has been documented that black dogs fare worse in shelters than other dogs, and black dogs are also notoriously difficult to photograph. So check out these Tips for Taking Photos of Black Dogs.
  • Perhaps you would like to get your child involved in saving dogs through photography. Check out these tips from The Bark that are geared specifically toward kids.

If you are involved with any of the groups mentioned above (or a similar group), or have taken up the cause of taking quality photos of adoptable dogs on your own, please leave a comment and tell us about your experience.

If you don’t have experience with this cause, would you consider taking it up? Why or why not?

Picture Me With a Hangdog Expression

It has been a month since I last posted. And, in that last post, I didn’t suggest that I was taking a hiatus, say for a round-the-world trip. I just didn’t post for a month. And now I’m breaking one of the rules I set for myself when I first started blogging: No posting about how long it’s been since you last posted. Ugh!

But as I contemplated posting again, I debated between just forging ahead with the post I’ve been meaning to do for at least two months (about photographing adoptable dogs) and a post that acted as a segue between my silence and the regularly scheduled programming, to offer, if not an explanation, an acknowledgement of the fact that I’ve been a slacker, as well as some updates. As with the last time I took an unplanned hiatus, I don’t have a good excuse. But I will say that the longer you neglect your blog, the harder it is to get back to nurturing it. I had anxiety about simply clicking on the link to my dashboard. Then come the questions of how to handle the segue, how to get back to regular posting (and also: Should I continue to blog? Why am I blogging? What does it all mean?!), etc., etc.

Anyway, I decided on a compromise regarding how to re-enter the world of posting: do an update post now, but also have the photographing-adoptable-dogs-post finally ready to go (that post is set for Tuesday).

What We Have Been Up To For the Past Month:

  • Dukie’s rehab. He’s baa-aack! Based on his x-rays from about a week ago, Duke’s leg has healed well, and he can now ease back into normal activity. So back we went to our illicit off-leash outings, and oh did he run! He did his chugging, head bobbing, full-out run. He also went back to doggie daycare last week. He still limps when he gets up because of the arthritis that had already formed, but the vet says the surgery made quite a difference and that his bone is actually healing ahead of schedule.
  • HAAAAAAACK. Kennel cough. Gertie caught it at doggie daycare, then gave it to some other dogs at daycare (which caused me to feel like a Very Bad Dog Mom to have taken my girl to daycare with a hacking cough and snot running down her snout, but I swear the snot was snot there when I dropped her off! And I thought the hacking was possibly due to some innocuous allergies.). Duke also caught the cough, but it didn’t seem to affect him very much. Gertie went to the vet and got a look of shock at the amount of mucous pouring forth from her nostrils, as well as antibiotics. She did fine on the antibiotics for six days and then started puking
  • The Great Disappearing Walks. I have been having problems with my S-I joint (the sacro-iliac joint, located around the tailbone/lower back) for a while now, and the pain forced me to stop running a few months ago. This development actually translated to better walks for Gertie and Duke, since the walks became my main workouts, aside from my physical therapy workouts, so I sought out hills with Gertie and walked briskly for 40 minutes or more with my fawn girl (I went easier on Duke since he was still rehabbing). But for the past week or so, the pain has increased to the degree that walking is now a chore to be dreaded, due to the sharp pain that comes with every step of my left foot. So there have been a couple of days when the dogs simply didn’t get walks, and a couple of days when my husband had to take over dog-walking duty. My solution now is to load the dogs in the car and drive to the aforementioned field where I only have to walk about a hundred yards to the entrance. Then I can release their leashes and let the canines wear themselves out. This strategy has worked out pretty well for the boxers, but I am grumpy. (Though I do realize that it could be much worse.)
  • Spring has sprung. Due to the whiny tone of the above two bullets, I feel the need to end on a positive note. How ’bout this spring? Duke and Gertie are fans. Before our walks became truncated, I would walk Gertie to Brucemore, a mansion sitting on several acres in the middle of town that has become a public trust. While walking, I scouted redbud, crabapple, and pear trees to photograph in full bloom. We also came upon this idyllic scene several times: a pond with a log on which six to seven turtles sunned themselves, all framed by a crabapple tree in full, pink-blossomed bloom (see picture below). Duke has delighted in showering the hostas, weeds, wildflowers, and other spring blooms with his scented urine. So much to mark, so little time.

In addition to neglecting my own blog, I have also, gulp, been slacking on my blog reading. So I also plan to catch up on what you all have been doing. But if you would like to tell me what you’ve been up to here, that would be great too: What have you been up to for the past month? Alternatively, what are your best stories about puking or hacking dogs?

 

Dog Guides Wayward Human

 

 

When a 19-year-old college student invaded a home in La Porte City, Iowa, something strange happened with the family dog. When the student took off, barefoot, Annie the Bloodhood willingly tagged along. Police believe that the man, whose confusion and actions seem to be caused by an underlying medical condition, wandered on a trail all night long, with Annie by his side the entire time. Annie is home resting now. Read the whole heartwarming story here on the Gazette’s website.

Have you heard any heartwarming dog-helps-person stories lately?

Don’t you just love stories of dogs helping wayward people? Maybe I need Annie’s help to keep me from straying so often from this blog! I know I’ve been slacking lately. I don’t have much of an excuse, other than home improvement and organization projects taking over. Lame, I know. I will try, try, try to do better, and I’m still going to write a post on photographing adoptable dogs.

Dukie Update–It’s appropriate that I use that nickname for Duke because he is back to walking every day, and he is making the most of his walks by making them double-poop outings. Yay for me! But I don’t really mind because Dukie is so, so happy to be out walking, discovering new smells and enjoying the spring sun. He has had his staples removed and no longer requires physical therapy, just daily walks. He goes back in one week for x-rays to determine how well his bone is healing. He still has to be outside on-leash only, and he’s not supposed to be going up and down stairs, though we have been slacking on carrying out that rule.

Gertie, for her part, is playing extra hard at doggie daycare on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Her caregivers told me that when we got Duke, they noticed that her play slowed down a bit, since she had an in-home playmate and sparring partner. But now that Duke has had to take it easy, Gertie has ratched up her play to frantic pre-Duke levels. At least she has an outlet for her extra energy! (And, of course, she gets daily walks too, except on Tuesdays and Thursdays, since she’s wears herself out just fine, thank you very much.) She will also have a great time romping at my parents farm this Easter Sunday.

Do you and your dogs have fun weekend plans?

Dogs are Everyone’s Buddies

(AP Photo/Erie Times-News, Greg Wohlford)

I saw this story, about a gorilla and her bunny companion, in my local newspaper the other day, and it reminded me of other stories about interspecies friendships, particularly between dogs and other species. These tales of animals creating lasting connections with each other, especially when they’re expected to be enemies, just warms my heart. The compassion that animals can show for a member of a different species in distress can be startling and really beautiful.

A 100% "Gertified" great book!

If you are also touched by stories of disparate animals connecting with each other, you should check out the book Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom, by Jennifer S. Holland. When I first saw the book title online, I almost dismissed it because I assumed it was one of those hokey coffee-table books. But then I read the author’s credentials, and the fact that she’s a senior writer at National Geographic sealed the deal for me. With chapter titles like “The Potbellied Piglet and the Rhodesian Ridgeback,” “The Sled Dog and the Polar Bear,” and “The Red Pandas and the Mothering Mutt, as well as full-color pictures, this book is irresistible to dog (and animal) lovers.

Not surprisingly, 18 of the 47 friendships profiled involve dogs. Anyone care to guess which breed of dog is featured most often? (Actually, mixed breed dogs appear in the most chapters, but one breed of dog gets spotlighted in two different chapters; all the other specific breeds discussed only get one chapter each.) Orangutans, gorillas, and monkeys cuddle up with tigers, kittens and even capybaras in my other favorite chapters.

My one gripe with the book is that I expected the stories to offer more depth. Many of them left me wanting more, but I suppose that’s not all bad. Maybe it has just helped me discover a very specific new reading and learning interest! And the fact that the stories are short and sweet, and enhanced with excellent photos, means that the books is great for kids too. I think older elementary students, and even some of my middle schoolers, would enjoy reading the book on their own. I might share a few stories with the whole group if we have time. And young children would love to hear these stories and peruse the pictures.

Have you ever observed interspecies friendships? What surprising stories have you seen about animals of different species befriending each other?

Being the Bad Guy: Enforcing Duke’s Rehab

Duke doesn’t like rehab any more than Amy Winehouse did. Luckily, though, we can force him to follow his rehabilitation program. It just makes me feel like a meanie.

Duke lies in his "rehab nest," with a warm compress on his knee.

It’s been almost a week since his surgery*, and Duke seems to be feeling pretty good. And that’s actually the problem. He’s still on major exercise restriction for another eight days. He cannot go up or down stairs (except to go potty) or get up on the furniture (though the booger has hit the couch a couple times when I turned my head for two seconds). He can only go outside on-leash to potty.

The problem is that when I hook his leash to take him potty, Duke starts doing his little tap dancing routine, then spins and hops and pants with excitement. He thinks we’re going for a walk and just doesn’t get why Mom is being so MEAN by taking him back inside right away!

Duke also gets physical therapy twice a day, which includes applying heat to the knee for five minutes, performing flexing exercises (gently bending and straightening his leg), and then applying ice for 5-10 minutes. So far he has been typically stoic for the PT, but he’s starting to get antsy with all this lying down.

I am looking forward to Week 3 of rehab, when Duke can at least start taking walks (albeit very short ones). He’ll also be off pain meds and antibiotics and can hopefully have a little more freedom around the house. Duke would like to skip weeks three through eight and just be ALL better so he can get back to romping and stomping.

Patience, Dukie, patience.

When have you had to be the enforcer for the benefit of your dog’s health?

* For more information about ruptured ACLs in dogs, and the surgeries available, check out Veterinary Partner. My vet provided this information when Duke was diagnosed with an ACL tear. The surgery he had was the Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA).

Dog Photography: Q and A With Laurie Bartolo

When I wrote the post 6 Tips for Photographing Fido, I consulted my blogging friend Laurie Bartolo. I admired her canine photography, and I knew she would have helpful tips to offer. And she didn’t disappoint! I thought her answers were so good that you should see them in full. So now I present a Q & A with dog lover, dog photographer, dog graphic artist, and dog blogger, Laurie Bartolo. You can check out Laurie’s awesome work at her eponymous blog and the new Doggone Artsy.

Girls Just Want To Have Fun by Laurie Bartolo

Andrea: What is your experience as a photographer?

Laurie: I am completely self-taught as a photographer and my interest in photography was inspired by my love of dogs.  I started out drawing and painting dogs, and quickly realized that I would need good reference photos for my drawings and paintings since it is somewhat difficult to draw or paint a subject that moves.   My husband bought me a digital SLR camera for that purpose and I almost immediately became obsessed with photographing dogs.   Since then, I have spent my days scouting out the canine subjects that appear in my photographs.   I’ve been doing this as a serious hobby for several years, and I’m working towards doing photography and art full time.   In 2012, I’m planning to take a cross-country road trip where I’ll capture photos of dogs across America.

Andrea: What do you consider when composing a photograph of a dog?
Laurie: For me, composition comes into play before, during and after any photo shoot.  And getting the composition I want takes a combination of planning and spontaneity. In all of my compositions, my goal is to capture dogs in a candid, natural state, just dogs being dogs.  With the exception of my own dogs, I do not know most of the dogs I photograph – they are simply dogs I encounter as I’m out scouting for dog photo opps. I will literally stop my car to photograph a dog I see on the side of the road while traffic piles up behind me.  While these photos end up being quite spontaneous, they often do require planning as well.
As far as planning goes, I have a list of ideas for photographs that I hope to capture like “dogs riding in cars” or “shop dogs”.  There are also individual dogs that I want to photograph, and places I frequent where I know dogs are usually present.  I have found that by thinking in advance about potential photographs like this, I am much more likely to (1) go out and hunt for the desired composition, and (2) to actually stop traffic to take the photo if/when the opportunity presents itself. Trust me, it’s inconvenient to lug my gear everywhere I go, but the few times I didn’t do it, I missed major dog-photo goodness.
During the photo shoot, I am taking cues from the dog and the environment.  I frequently move around and look for different points of view, and have found that you can find a much better composition simply by moving a few feet.  I’m also thinking about what I can and can’t change later in Photoshop.
After the photo shoot, I use Photoshop to make small enhancements to the photo.  I frequently convert my photos to black and white or another monochrome effect like a sepia tone.  To me, this makes the dog stand out more and gives the photo a classic look.  Cropping a photo is another simple way that I improve my compositions.
Andrea: What are your tips for capturing dogs in action? Specifically, how do you prevent blurry pictures? What setting(s) on a DSLR might you use?

Laurie: Many DSLR cameras have a “sports” or “action” setting that takes the guesswork out of it.  So if you are not sure about things like shutter speed, you can choose this setting and let the camera do the work for you.  Sometimes you may want a blurry shot – for example, some blurriness in a photo of a moving dog can emphasize the movement.  This may be cool if you wanted to show a dog’s tail wagging crazily, or showcase the athleticism of a dog running after a ball.   Manipulating shutter speed to get the desired effect takes practice, but generally speaking, a faster shutter speed will freeze the action so you don’t get the blurring, while a lower shutter speed will have a blurring effect.

There are other things to consider with blurry pictures.  Blurriness may not just be from the moving dog, it can be caused by the movements of the photographer too.  “Camera shake” (shaky hands) or moving around while trying to capture the photo will also cause blurriness.  One way to overcome this is to use a tripod, if it’s practical for your photo shoot.   I have photographed my own dogs using a tripod and the photos are noticeably sharper.  Some photographers will even use a remote shutter release for a camera on a tripod to further reduce “camera shake.”
Another important tip with dogs in action is to take lots and lots of photos.  Remember those flip books with a different illustration on each page, and when you flipped through the pages, you saw the characters in action?  This is the same idea – you are catching every single movement – some of those are awkward (which can also be fun) and some are keepers.  The great thing about digital cameras is that you can take as many pictures as you want.  If you take hundreds of photos, a few of them are likely to be really good.  But if you only take 2-3, your odds of getting a good photo are much less likely.
Andrea: What are your tips for getting great close-ups of dogs (especially if the dog is coming toward your camera)?

Laurie: Good question – I have often ended up with nose prints on my lens!  There are a few options here, and most of it depends on the dog and your equipment.   But foremost, for close-ups, unless you have a really well-behaved dog who is used to being photographed, don’t try to pose them and then take a photo.  Rather, be prepared to take some spontaneous photos and spend some time getting those shots – you’ll be rewarded with a great candid, close-up photo of your dog.

We have a tendency to wait until our canine subject is perfectly posed and then we start photographing.  But by then, the dog is up and walking towards you. Take photos even when you don’t think it’s a shot you want to capture – you are doing two things here: (1) you are getting the dog used to being photographed, and (2) you are increasing your odds of capturing a totally spontaneous and unexpected great photo.   Even as the dog is approaching you, just click-click-click away.  It may not seem like you’re capturing great photos this way, but you’ll see when you upload them to your computer that some came out great.
Remember that dogs are really not interested in the photo shoot.  They have no idea what is going on or how they are supposed to behave, and no interest in the outcome (which is hopefully a good photo!).  Additionally, some dogs are quite curious about that thing you’re holding up to your head and aiming at them.   When dogs wants to check something out, they do it with their nose, which is often why they will come towards you and stick their nose on your camera lens!  Rather than jumping up, grabbing your camera and saying, “we are going to take dog photos now,” try easing your dog into the photo shoot.  Let them check your camera out (while you’ve still got the lens cap on!) and maybe burn off some energy before you start clicking.
If you have a long lens, you can take “close-ups” from far away (most of my canine subjects are off in the distance, and I have a really long lens for this reason).  If you have a zoom lens, you can adjust your lens as the dog approaches you, but this takes quick hands as well as patience and repetition.   The best trick here is persistence – resist the urge to give up just because you just missed the “perfect shot” – another perfect shot is right around the corner, so keep clicking away.
When I’m working with a dog that habitually moves towards me while I’m photographing him (my dog Webster is guilty of this), I’ll throw something for him so he goes after it, putting distance between us.  And then I’ll start shooting him as he is approaching me, clicking almost constantly, while adjusting the zoom as he gets closer.  Or I’ll enlist the help of an assistant who can manage him with treats or attention, while I take a ton of photographs.  When all else fails, bribing your dog with treats is a good option.

Check out this article on Dogster  that Laurie suggested with more tips for dog photography. The article discusses whether taking better pictures of shelter animals can help them get adopted more quickly, a topic I find really interesting, so I will be posting more on it later.

Thank you to Laurie Bartolo for her time and insights!

Dukie Update: Thank you for all of your positive thoughts and prayers for Duke! He is doing well. We’re doing physical therapy every day, he’s taking a boatload of meds, and he’s actually already at the point of wanting to do more activity than he’s allowed. For now, he can only go outside on leash to potty, which is especially disappointing for him on a day like this–it’s 65 degrees and sunny today! He can’t do stairs or get on the furniture either, although his Grandma Terri got him a plush new dog bed, so he can snuggle on that in lieu of curling up on the couch in our family room. :)

Happy Leap Day!

And I’m back. I don’t really have a good excuse for my almost three-week absence, so let’s just call it a case of the February Doldrums. I have had some serious motivation issues (not just with blogging), but I’m going to make a comeback! And I haven’t been feeling well at times, but that’s not a great excuse.

The not feeling well is especially not a great excuse since Duke hasn’t been feeling well either, but he is still raring to go every single day. It turns out he does have surgery to repair an ACL tear. It’s never a good sign when your vet gives your dog the nickname “Money Pit,” but we love Dukie, and he’s going to get his new knee.

In addition to his knee issues, Duke currently has an ear infection and could also use surgery for gingival hyperplasia (overgrown gums). He has also had a scratched cornea recently. But I am just hoping all goes well with his surgery this Friday, and we’ll deal with the rest later.

I apologize for my long drought in posts, and I hope you’ll stick with me as I get back on track! Next week I’ll be posting about dog photography.

Do you ever feel like you spend way too much time with your vet?