October 27, 2008 Wife Swap?

October 27, 2008

Wife Swap?

Well this day fits in the “it could only happen to me” file.
I check my email and get this invitation to be on the ABC series “Wife Swap” on Fridays at 8 pm. This series is about families who trade moms to see how the other folks live and then halfway through the week, they change the rules and you have to live by the new mom’s rules. Amazingly, they are looking for a family that has a pet boutique, and has at least one child between the ages of 7 and 17. Well, I fit that description, and I’m sure they won’t choose me but of course, I got a big giggle out of it, and some friends put my name in anyway!
My husband got a huge grin on his face when I told him and he said sign up! He is under the assumption he will get someone “better” than what he has, oh poor misguided soul!
Now unless the woman who takes my place can groom dogs, run a salon, and homeschool her kids, I can’t foresee anyone taking my place at all. Not to mention run a houseful of pets and do it all without a husband around because he works seven days a week and is on the fire department, so even when he’s home, he’s usually out on a run or at a meeting. Yeah, good luck getting some help from him!
On the down side, I could see some woman coming in and being horrified that my house isn’t as pristine or kept as Martha Stewarts, and with a houseful of pets, plus the ones I groom, if you think my house doesn’t have pet hair in it, you are sorely mistaken! If I took the time to clean all the pet hair up, there wouldn’t be any time to groom or homeschool the kids, or do any of the millions of things I do but can’t think of right now.
Meanwhile I’m thinking if I get to step into the shoes of my polar opposite, for me this can’t be a bad thing. Maybe I’ll get the life of a pampered princess of a woman who probably has a housekeeper full time, and spends her days at the salon getting her nails done and a massage. Yep, for sure the person who gets my life is getting the short end of the stick!
I can’t think of any life that I couldn’t handle. Hard working? Sure, no problem! Lots of pets and squirrelly kids? Let me at ‘em! I’ve done plenty of hard jobs in my life, I’ve had farm animals, pigs, chickens, ducks, guineas, horses, miniature horses, llamas, you name it, and it’s been at my house. If it hasn’t, then I can manage anyway.
There haven’t been too many grungy jobs I haven’t tried either. I’ve cleaned pit toilets at Turkey Run State Park. Top that!
If by some reason they end up picking my family, my fear is they would get a person who keeps house like Martha Stewart and cooks a lot. That is something I’m sure my family could get used to, but how much fun would she be? Would she be able to write a book? Write a column? Laugh daily at herself? I may have my shortcomings, but thank God, I have a sense of humor about it!
For instance, this morning I was trying to reach Arnett Clinic, or Clarian Health or whatever they are called now, about some x-rays of my shoulder. The nurse had left a message on my answering machine a couple of times telling me to call them back for the results. Honestly, do I care if they blurt out my test results on my machine? It’s my shoulder for heaven’s sake and my phone; it’s not as if it’s a big secret. So I call the Otterbein clinic and am now greeted by a machine, press this to reach this . . . I press the number to get x-ray results and it says to speak to the desk press *, which I do and it says we can’t transfer you at this time, to go to the main menu press 1.
I can see this is getting me nowhere, so I call the main number for Arnett and tell them my dilemma, the woman says, “hold on and I’ll transfer you”. Then someone answers. “This is Dave”, I say, “Hi Dave, are you with the radiology department?” He says, “No ma’am, this is Caterpillar”. “Oh, well then Dave I guess you don’t have my x-ray results then do you.” I say laughingly. “No ma’am I don’t” “Sorry Dave, Arnett Clinic transferred me to you somehow.”
So, I call Arnett back and say, “Oops you goofed, you sent me to Caterpillar.” “No ma’am, that must’ve been someone else, what do you need?” and we get to go through the entire scenario again. Finally, I get to the right person and she is able to let me speak to the nurse who called me, and I get my answer of my x-ray, “Sandy they found nothing wrong at all on your x-ray”. “So that explains the knot on my shoulder and the pain” Must be in my head right? Sigh.
Guess I’ll take some ibuprofen and forget about it.
Meanwhile, I decide to hem up my new jeans that are supposed to be short length but are 6 inches too long. Why do jeans makers think if you have a big butt, you must also have long legs?
So, I grab a pair of jeans and I am on the phone doing my normal multi-tasking and I get 4 inches cut off, and sew up the hem and I turn them right-side out only to discover they aren’t my jeans but my sons!
About this time, he walks into the room and I bust out laughing. This is one of those it could only happen to me moments. Luckily, I didn’t cut off too much and his needed a little trim too, he just can’t grow anymore or he’ll look like a geek.
Wife Swap, bring it on! I double dog dare anyone to take my place and make it look easy. If they have a better way to do things, I’m game to learn it! Meanwhile I’ll enjoy my life on the beach they call their family to see how the other half lives! However, don’t hold your breath, I’m sure once they get a view of my life they’ll avoid us at all costs! Even T.V. can’t come up with a reality series as crazy as my life! Nobody would believe it!

October 14, 2008 Brittany or Lassie?

When you have children, everything changes. When my son was two, and I was pregnant with my second son, I found myself looking for a kid friendly dog. I had gotten in touch with a sheltie rescue that had come to the house to interview us, but at that time, they didn’t have a dog that fit our particular needs. I was a busy mom who ran a grooming salon and had one small child and another one on the way. I didn’t need a puppy. I preferred a dog with more “experience”. I remembered a collie breeder Estella Thomas from Spice Rack Collies near my old hometown and decided to give her a call. I told Estella my situation and asked her if collies would be a good match for small children. “I think I have just the girl for you,” she said, “if you don’t mind an older female”.
“That’s EXACTLY what I had in mind!” I said and off we went to meet her. Brittany was a beautiful 6 year old, tri-factored sable collie that was calm and laid back and oh so loving. She took to us instantly and she immediately became part of our family. My son would walk around with the cereal box and learned sharing, one for me, one for you. She was our constant companion.
One day while I was out in my salon grooming and Drew was napping, I saw Brittany jumping up in the windows outside the salon on my property. She was frantically barking, but I could barely hear her due to the noise of the blow dryers and clippers. I shut off the dryers and noise so I could check on her, and then I hear the baby monitor. I heard Drew crying, he was awake and she was coming to tell me!
She took her babysitting duties very seriously. When we were moving from the farm to a house in town, we were selling all of our horses and equipment and a friend stopped by to check out what was for sale. She left her sleeping infant in her van with the car running. Nobody could hear him, but Brittany did. She began barking and pawing at the van door. I hurried to get her away from the van before she scratched the paint, and sure enough, the baby was crying!
After the move and birth of my son, Lane, Brittany stood watch over the little guy as he lay sleeping on the floor. She literally stood over him, straddling his body, and as babies will do, he reached up and pulled on her long flowing collie hair, on her sensitive stomach! Before I could get to him, I saw her wince yet she still stood there as if to say, “It’s ok, he’s just a baby, I can take it”. She wouldn’t dream of biting a child, no matter what the torture! I kept her hair shorter after that so it wouldn’t be so tempting to grab.
She lay on the floor beside the kids while they napped, once, Lane managed to toddle to the dog door and fall backwards out of it! Lucky for him Brittany had just gone outside, and she was there licking his head while he cried. She knew how to make it all better.
She would stand between the kids and a strange dog if she had bad vibes about them. She stood between dogs that I had to groom that had aggressive tendencies and me too. She didn’t have an aggressive bone in her body, yet she stood there as if to say, “You’re going to have to go through me first”. She always made her point in the most well-mannered and subtle way.
We adopted Katy a standard poodle who was about Brittany’s age all the way from Texas. We rolled in the driveway about 2am and being a groomer and excited from the trip I decided to give Katy a haircut and bath right away. I trimmed up her hair before I decided to bathe her, and while bathing her I saw Brittany walk over the pile of black curls on the floor and pee all over it! I was shocked! Brittany NEVER did that! She never showed any type of dominance to the hundreds of dogs that had strolled through my door before. Other than the time of day, how did she know this dog was going to stay and she was telling her in dog speak, I was here first this place is mine, and now you are mine too.
I cleaned up the mess while the two dogs got to know each other. There were never any lifted lips, growls or any differences of opinion between them. They would each patiently wait for the other one to eat, and then they would eat. They shared everything.
One day it was storming and the tornado sirens went off. My husband is a firefighter and his radio was confirming sightings of a tornado coming our way. He had to run and help the fire department during the storm so I put the kids into the basement and grabbed the dogs; I had to force them to walk down the stairs because they had never seen stairs before, so I pulled the two 60lb.dogs down with me. The dogs paced and Brittany kept going up to the staircase and taking a step or two then she backed down. We stayed in the basement until the storm passed and after we all came up, I looked down and there was Katy at the bottom of the stairs, pacing and worried because she didn’t know how to come back up. “Oh Tim, for Pete’s sake go down and get Katy, she can’t come back up” I said to my husband. Just then, Brittany looked down at her friend, went down by herself, nudged Katy gently on the side, and walked up beside her. True friendship! Brittany was “Lassie” in so many ways over the years. I truly don’t know how I would have managed to raise two small children without her.

October 9, 2008 Baby-proofing your home for pets

October 9, 2008

Baby-proofing your home for pets

There’s nothing like getting a new kitten or puppy to remind you how unsafe your house is. Let’s face it, our older pets have gotten used to the place and don’t bother things but bring in a new pet, especially a baby or young one and you get a new appreciation for those older pets!
Just last night I was reminded of that fact when I went to make some toys for our latest acquisition, a kitten who found us. I tied a mouse toy to a piece of string and put it up on top of her cat climbing post I just put together. I forgot about it, and we had put a little bit of kitty kibble up there to entice her to use it. My husband asked, “What is she eating?” I said, “Oh, that’s just some kitten food”. However, as I looked at her, I saw her gnawing on something and got closer to see her working on the end of the mouse toy, with the entire string INSIDE of her!
I gently pulled on it and out came about 18 inches of string! If my husband hadn’t said anything, I may not have noticed. Cats eating string is deadly. It doesn’t always pass. My old cat Fuzz used to like to get into my sewing area and he became sick one day, over the weekend, began vomiting and by the time I got him to the vet, he was in very bad shape. They didn’t find anything, took some blood, and kept him overnight. When they called me the next day, he had died in the night. The only thing they could attribute his death to, was some thread that was wrapped around a tooth. When they ingest thread, it can strangulate the intestines and cause the symptoms he had. We didn’t know. Fuzz was only one year old.
Animals get into EVERYTHING. Trash for instance; forget all the bad stuff that’s inside your garbage, the wrappers of trash are deadly. Plastic bags and even a potato chip bag with an enthusiastic pup snarfing down the crumbs can cause suffocation and death. It’s happened to some friends of mine.
If you have a trash hound, put your can away where the dog can’t get to it, inside a cabinet, closet, or pantry. Remember to take out your trash every night before bed, so your little adventurer won’t have anything to get into. We tried putting the trash can on top of the kitchen island, which worked for a while until I caught my cat working in cahoots with the dogs and knocking it over for them. I went to Pamida and bought a cabinet for the trashcan and that works. Nobody is in the garbage now.
You can use baby gates to block off areas that are off limits. You can also use a crate to keep your pup in when you can’t supervise them. You need to get on your hands and knees and crawl all around your home looking for things that harm your pet. Electrical cords, things that have been eaten by your couch but you can’t see like pens, pencils, small toys, marbles, coins, etc. There is no end to the number of seemingly harmless things that are deadly to your pet.
Want some incentive to put away your laundry? Wait until you get a puppy that eats socks and underwear that you have to pay a few hundred for surgery to save.
Veterinarians are constantly trying to help animals that get into foreign things. Pets are JUST LIKE TODDLERS. If you have kids or grandkids you know that you have to watch them constantly and keep harmful stuff locked away right? Well guess what, you have to do the same thing for your pets. If your pet gets into something and gets sick or dies, whose fault is it?
Even food items can be deadly, onions, macadamia nuts, walnuts, raisins and grapes for example, you should never feed to pets. Many pets have died from those as well as ingesting pills that have fallen on the floor that you lost. Aspirin is toxic to cats! Aspirin is okay to give to a dog, but a cat can go into seizures and die.
I know that I have taken my house for granted for several years now, because I’m used to older pets who don’t feel the need to get into everything, but no more! We have made it a family rule to all get on our hands and knees, inspect everything, and get things up off the floor we don’t normally see. We will move furniture and leave no stone unturned!
Guess what’s coming up soon? I know, I really hate to admit it, but the season to be jolly is coming up quick and oh boy, a new kitten and a Christmas tree! What was I thinking? Oh my gosh, ornaments and those hooks! I can already see disaster in my house. I know I have to keep a few ornaments put away until this kitten grows up and learns to leave things alone. Well, if I want to keep the ornaments and the cat. I’m sure I can come up with some kitten safe stuff to decorate the tree. I know what is likely to happen; kitten will climb up the tree and knock stuff off. It may as well be stuff that can’t break and cause shards of glass to get into your feet, or hers. I’ll put that on my list of to do’s before the big event. Cat’s can climb over anything, but if you have a puppy, you can put an x-pen around the tree, it effectively blocks off things or you can confine your puppy to it when needed. A child’s playpen can work too, believe it or not, to put the Christmas tree in to keep the puppy away from it, if the tree isn’t too big.
What if your puppy eats a glass ornament? This is what to do: get some cotton balls, the real cotton type, not the synthetic, and dip them in milk or half & half and feed them to your dog, the cotton will pick up shards of glass inside your pets stomach and intestines so they cause less damage, of course then take your dog to the vet immediately!
Of course, since Halloween is upon us soon, be sure to keep the candy put up away from the pets! Artificial sweeteners in some candies are deadly to pets. Remember cats can climb on top of just about anything, and chocolate, especially the dark chocolate or bakers chocolate can make your pet very sick, and can cause death too.
Okay, well that should be enough to scare the wits out of you. Who needs Halloween, just let me scare you! I hate to be the grim reaper, but if you don’t already know this stuff, and something happens to your pet and I hear about it, then I’m going to feel guilty that I didn’t warn you. If you have a puppy, kitten or even a new adult dog or cat that isn’t used to your home, take heed of these warnings. If you have older pets that never get into things count your blessings and give them a big hug! Just remember even the most obedient pets get into things they aren’t supposed to occasionally. Keep them safe. Dig out your kneepads and get to work!