They go together: Carter, Home Runs and Blue Jay’s Season Opener

Today marked the return of Major League Baseball!  The Toronto Blue Jays played their first game of the 2015 season against the NY Yankees in the Bronx, and BEAT them 6-1. Sweet victory!  A great start for the Jays.

Let's go Blue Jays!
Let’s go Blue Jays!

Now, I’m not saying we had any role in this win, but there are far too many coincidences that maybe, just maybe, we did have a hand, or um a paw, in this win!

If you’ve been reading  my blog, then you’ll know we named our pup Carter, after Joe Carter of the Jays. The Joe Carter that hit THE home-run that won the Jays the 1993 World Series. Joe Carter wore number 29.  In today’s game, a rookie, a young pup, named Devon Travis had his first hit in the Major Leagues, and it was… a home run!  Guess what Travis’ jersey number is? Yup. Number 29.

Joe Carter wore 29, this young pup Travis now wears 29… there was a home run today…. coincidence? Who knows, who cares!  The Jays won, by beating the Yankees no less, and we love it. Wahoo!

Yes Carter watched the game. Carter watching the Jays game.Ok only for a few seconds at a time. He’s a young pup, a rookie member of this family, and he’ll learn how to sit through 9 innings soon enough. His name is CARTER and lots of home runs are what we’re hoping for from the Jays and the two baseball players in this house! So far so good. Good boy Carter, good boy!

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Early Days – Lessons Learned & the Unexpected

Having a puppy brings about a new reality. An obvious statement, I know.

Not only are daily routines adjusted, but it also changes you and your family. Some changes you expect, and some changes you could not have imagined, especially if you’re doing this puppy-thing for the first time like we are. You also learn some lessons, big and small, really quickly too.

Here’s our top 3 early lessons – lessons about your puppy and lessons about life-stuff…

1. Yes, it can happen to you too

We’ve had Carter for 11 days, and every so often, I stop and look at the fur-ball and I’m surprised that there is a dog in our house and that he’s ours!  When you say no to a dog for such a long time, and you think we are never getting a dog, that big life-lesson shows up to nip you in the butt: Never Say Never. It can happen to you too.

2. Puppies can’t tell time

Your puppy doesn’t understand, “Just a minute, I’m just hitting send and…” Ya, too late he’s pee’d on your floor. When it’s time for puppy to ‘go’, YOU go. As in, go now… asap… get that puppy out the door already!

3. Puppies can’t multi-task

Similar to the lesson above, when puppy wakes up in the morning he cannot: walk out of his crate, AND hold-on to pee, AND make it all way out the door on his own. He will make a pit-stop inside the house. Who knew? We didn’t. Now we know, you pick up your puppy and carry him outside. That works way better.

In addition to these lessons, there’s also the unexpected. In the blink of an eye, you become one of ‘them’, those people you may have made fun of or just didn’t get. I’m talking about becoming a dog-owner.  Our top 3 unexpected changes…

1. My new never-leave-home-without-it accessory

Are you ready for this? My new accessory is the poopy bag. I guess there’s a theme in this post that I didn’t plan, but housebreaking your pup is pretty much top-of-mind at this stage of pup’s life and yours. Yes, the poop-and-scoop bags are now in every pocket of every coat, in my car, and in my bag.  Did not see this coming.

2. It’s like baby, baby, baby oooh

I squeak and talk in a high-pitch voice to Carter. And call him all kinds of cutesy names. My boys laugh at me, but I catch them doing it sometimes too. I honestly didn’t expect I would talk to my pup the same way I talked to my boys when they were babies.

3. It’s a groovy kind of love

I knew we would love our pup. We loved him before he even came home! But did I expect my boys to be so involved and caring and concerned about him to the level they have shown? Nope. My boys are learning what it takes to care for and be responsible for another living creature that is dependent on you. It’s so different then when they had pet fish!

Just like I’m a new puppy-parent, so are my boys. They are learning early on, how hard and great it is to be a parent. How wonderfully unexpected!

Carter’s First Visit to the Vet – It was a Real Snooze!

Last Friday we took Carter to his ‘healthy-puppy’ check-up.  This was our first visit to the vet, and Carter did great. He slept through most of the appointment and examination. His litter-mate and brother Bauer, slept through his appointment as well. Maybe it’s a family thing!

Carter having a nap at the Vet's.
Carter having a nap at the Vet’s.

At the end of our visit, Carter was declared a healthy and normal puppy.  He also gained 1.8 pounds in one week! Oh boy.

If you’re off to see the vet for the first time, here are some tips for your visit and signs that you have chosen a good vet!

1. How to choose a vet

I asked a bunch of friends for vet recommendations in our neighbourhood. I then went online and researched reviews to help make my final decision.

If there were too many negative reviews, or comments about the vet being pricey, then that clinic was an obvious no.

I also read doctors’ and staff bios, how long they have been in operation in the neighbourhood, and looked at their philosophy or approach to care and treatment. For example a website of one of the clinics I reviewed, stated that their approach is to neuter male pups at 6 months.  I don’t want to get into a debate about the pros and cons of what age to neuter, but when a clinic makes such a statement, it makes me wonder whether this vet is open to discussions, or is flexible enough to assess each dog (i.e. breed), case by case rather than making such a blanket statement.

2. First impressions count!

From making the first call to book an appointment, to when we arrived, we were greeted by friendly staff.  The clinic we chose was very clean and tidy too. It also didn’t hurt that staff gushed over Carter!

When it was time for our appointment, the doctor was kind and patient with us and with Carter who kept licking her stethascope. She answered all of our questions (see below), and we didn’t feel like we were rushed out the door.

3. Bring your list of questions

We had a lot of questions, from food quantity and supplements, to chewing and biting. These were just some of our questions:

  • Is it ok that he eats his food in record-time?  Yes, most puppies do.
  • He has the hiccups a lot. Again, normal for puppies.
  • He once ate his own poo! Gross. Also normal, but don’t encourage it.

4. Bring your pup’s paper-work and vaccination record

I brought Carter’s paperwork but forgot his vaccination record. No biggie since he was not due for his second round of ‘shots’ at this visit. Luckily, the paperwork I did bring had his microchip number, and when the technician used a wand-like device to scan him, she was able to verify his number. Who knew about microchips and scanner-thingy-wands until you own a dog!?

5. Foster a good and open relationship 

Communication is a two-way street. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. Hopefully your vet will welcome this. As already noted, our first impression of our vet and her philosophy was positive. She wasn’t pushy, she provided lots of good information about what to expect now and down the road, and was supportive of us as new puppy parents.

Carter at the spa, I mean during his examination. Snooze.
Carter at the spa, I mean during his examination. Snooze.

Having said that, some friends have switched vets over the years. It’s ok to do so if the need arises. They tell me it’s easier to break up with your vet than with your hairstylist! Good to know.

A Day in the Life of a 9-week old Golden…

You know that saying, it’s a dog’s life? Well, our pup is living it.

It’s one week today that Carter has been at home with us. His first few days, he cautiously walked around the house. Sniff here and there. Play gently with his toys. Chewed not a shoe….

Well that lasted about 2 days! Now he walks around like he’s lived here his whole life!  He is one happy little dude.

I made a quick video of what Carter does all day long,  minus the ‘doing his business’ stuff because no one needs to see that. Take a look at a day in the life of a 9-week old Golden.

As you can see, he plays, eats (his FAV part of the day), and then he crashes wherever he may find himself. By late afternoon, his naps become MY favourite part of the day.

The First Few Days! At Home with Carter

Our puppy adventures officially begin! Carter came home on International Happy Day, last Friday. Who knew that day even existed, but it was indeed appropriate. If I can brag a little, my puppy is pretty cute.  Introducing Carter…

Carter aka Mr. Yellow
Carter aka Mr. Yellow.

Yes, our puppy was known as Mr. Yellow when he was born, and our favourite from the first visit.

Carter’s been home with us for a few days now, and so far, so good and so far, so tiring! Puppies are work. Duh. I knew that. Well sort of.

Puppies are a lot like babies, only unlike babies, they move. And they explore. As soon as you lose sight of him, puppy gets into ‘trouble’. Carter’s been pretty great at doing his ‘business’ outside, and the few accidents he’s had, it’s because we were not quick enough to get him out. Live and learn for all of us.

My boys are totally in love and have been super helpful. Hoping this is a trend that sticks! The boys took charge and took care of Carter this past weekend, and that included introducing him to TV watching. (It didn’t last long, but made for a cute photo.)

Just chilling.
Just chilling…for 30 seconds or so.

We also had visitors, some bearing gifts, all weekend long. It was déjà-vu all over again, with all the well-wishes, gifts and visits, just like we experienced when our boys were born.

What we know thus far about Carter is:

  • He’s a champion eater! He’s a little ‘hoover’ and eats in record time. He is also always looking for more, and comes running into the kitchen when he hears the fridge opening.
  • He’s a great sleeper (unlike my boys as babies!). We are lucky this puppy is sleeping through the night. Like growing babies, puppies need lots of sleep. Right now Carter is napping at my feet as I try and get this post written!
  • He loves to snuggle and loves company. He always naps near us or in the same room where one of us is in.

Many photos have been taken over the past few days. See below for, ahem, a few photos. (Honest, I did hold back!)

Shhh, I'm not done writing!
Shhh, I’m not done writing!
IMG_0280
Ahhh it’s a dog’s life!
IMG_6805
I know, I’m adorable.

 

Yup, our puppy adventures have finally begun! Now that my boys are back to school after March Break, wish ME luck! That question I keep asking, HOW HARD CAN THIS PUPPY THING BE? I’m not complaining. Yet. He’s still napping!

 

One more sleep!

One more sleep! Tomorrow we pick up our pup. Am I ready? I don’t think so. But ready or not, the countdown calendar says tomorrow’s the day we bring home a puppy named Carter.

1 Day Left 'Till Puppy'
1 Day Left ‘Till Puppy’
Let's go Blue Jays!
Let’s go Blue Jays!

We were recently on vacation in Florida (and yes the weather was PERFECT every single day), and being the baseball-crazed family that we are, we went to the  Blue Jays spring training game last Friday in Dunedin, Florida.

As I chatted with perfect strangers sitting near by, the topic of our Carter came up.  And we chatted about the baseball meaning of his name of course. In no time, my iPhone was out and I was showing people Carter’s photo. Who did I become, and where did this pride come from, I thought?

Before I knew it, my phone was passed around, up and down the rows.  I also showed them Carter’s Blue Jays’ tag and collar.  Between cheering for the Jays, sipping cold beer, and not complaining about the heat, there were a lot of “aw so cute” and “aw so sweet” comments uttered.  The Jays beat the Orioles by the way. And my my younger son snagged Marcus Stroman’s autograph, so it was a fun afternoon for all.

Cold and tasty Landshark beer!
Cold and tasty Landshark beer!
My little ‘Stroman’, looking up to Marcus Stroman.

While in Florida we went out for St. Paddy’s day, and the bar we were at had many funny sayings on the walls.  This one caught my eye and I had to snap a photo of it.

Hum, what does this really mean?
Hum, what does this really mean?

“Sometimes you’re the dog. Sometimes you’re the hydrant.”

I know this is a saying you can apply to life, but it made me chuckle. I think over the next few weeks, with our 8-week old puppy, we will have to be patient and accept that sometimes (or many times) we will be Carter’s hydrant!

So am I ready? Nope. I still have shoes left out and about my house!

Really, how hard can this puppy thing be!?

 

 

 

It’s the Final Countdown! Getting Ready to bring Carter home

We are one week away! What? Already? Time to get ready to bring puppy Carter home.

But before we do, there’s some shopping to do. Our breeder Catharine emailed a ‘bringing home puppy’ shopping list.  As you’ll see, what was listed and what we ended up with doesn’t match up exactly. It’s a little hard not to go overboard. Just a little.

We went shopping as a family, and coming to an agreement on some items wasn’t easy.  The hardest decision for us was agreeing on a leash and collar.  But I think it paid off to shop around! Take a read, what do you think?

Catharine’s Puppy Shopping List vs Our Family’s Puppy Purchases

  1. Crate – one that you can adjust the size as the puppy grows.

What we did:

One BIG crate!
One BIG crate!

I emailed my dog friends asking if they had a crate they no longer used or wanted. Success! A friend personally delivered a wire-adjustable-BIG-crate! My younger son fits in the crate very comfortably.  I know because he’s gone in a few times, on his own, not because I put him in there!

My big issue with the big crate? Where do I put it in my house? I had to do what I avoided for a long time; tidy-up and purge the ‘dumping-room’ we all have in our homes. On-top of the crate is his big (and stylish) comfy bed-pillow.

2. An adjustable harnesses for rides in vehicles.

What we did:  We did not make this purchase yet. I’m certain, my boys will be holding Carter on the way home.

3. Stainless steel dishes (for food and water)

What we did: We bought 2 ceramic dishes from HomeSense.  They have a great pet section, and well priced too. That’s where we found his stylish big bed-pillow too.

4. Grooming supplies – a comb (brushes do not get right down to the skin), nail clippers (scissor style), scissors, dog shampoo.

What we did: We purchased all of the above.

5. Collar & Leash – a 4 foot (leather) leash was recommended and a nylon flat or rolled leather buckle collar (rolled leather will not break the fur). Sounds like a simple enough purchase, but take a look at this selection of collars and leashes at Pet Smart.  Overwhelming. And not one collar or leash we could agree on.

We did finally agree on a collar and a most appropriate dog tag for Carter, don’t you think?

Perfect collar and dog tag for Carter.
Perfect collar and dog tag for Carter.
  1. Toys! Fleecy toys, squeaky toys, stuffed toys. Again, you would think easy to choose a toy or two.  Nope. The selection is again vast and it’s easy to get carried away. Here are some fancy-schmancy toys that we did not purchase. We didn’t think these were appropriate for a Golden, but were very clever!

What we bought:  We ended up with a stuffed chicken, chewy bone, bouncy balls, tug-of-war rope, and a chewy toy that you can add treats or peanut butter to, and according to friends, keeps your pup busy and happy.

  1. Bitter Apple spray – Used as a deterrent, it can be sprayed on plants, shoes, anything you don’t want puppy to chew. It’s kinder to spray and let the pup discover “ooh that tastes rotten”, than to constantly nag them. And a spray bottle full of vinegar….to spray where little accidents happen.

What we bought: Yes to both sprays!

7.  We were advised to not buy treats as they will upset puppies little tummies. Instead use little pieces of brick cheese or save little bits of meat from your supper for rewards. But look at what’s out there for dogs? We found these fancy treats at one pet store.

What we did: We didn’t buy any puppy treats. I think we’ll try the cheese. But may have to buy some healthy treats if we need to help with training!

In the end, this is what our purchases look like.  The additional items we bought includes: a blanket (a baby blanket on clearance from HomeSense), a food mat, a cute basket to hold all his toys, a big comfy bed-pillow, poop bags and a blue bandana, because he’s going to be one cool and well dressed Golden!

One week to go!  This is really happening. How hard can this puppy thing  be!? Maybe I should start reading my ‘how to train your puppy’ book. This  may be the most important purchase we made!

Blog, blog, blog…. and videos

The other night at my social media class, groups (that were formed the week before) had two hours to shoot, edit and present a short 2-minute video. Each group had to come up with a concept or story, write a script and a rationale for the video, and explain how we would engage a ‘community’ and promote the video via social media.  Talk about pressure.  But all 12 groups did it, and we did it well for a bunch of amateurs!

You might be thinking, what does this have to do with puppies!? At this very moment, nothing really.  But hang on.

One of the videos made by some of my fav classmates, was hilarious and spoke to the angst, yes angst, we bloggers face:

  • what to write about week after week,
  • find the time to write, and
  • (gulp) how many were posts due by Sunday?

Take a look at their clever and cheeky video…

Great video don’t you think? Simple and funny.

Visual storytelling via social media, that is the internet, is pretty easy these days. Anyone with an iPhone can shoot a video and post it very easily. No need for fancy video cameras. See video above.

More and more companies and organizations are using video (and YouTube) to build and engage communities online.

Which leads me to this video. This is where you’ll get your puppy and dog fix! This video was made by a British company to promote the power of advertising.  Take a look…

So there you  have it.  I managed to get a blog post written, used videos to make it more compelling (I hope), and incorporated hilarious and resourceful dogs.

Carter aka Mr. Yellow.
Carter aka Mr. Yellow.

With only two more weeks until we pick up Carter, I can guarantee there will be a few videos made and posted about his first days at home.  Until then, you can look at his cute little face.

Short-lived victory though. I’m back to where I first-started…. I know what I’m going to write about next, but I need to find the time! Help!

How Much is that Doggy in the Window?

A classmate suggested that I write about the cost of owning a dog so that interested future dog owners can plan and perhaps budget for it.

I’d like to say that my family crunched numbers before we made the decision to get a dog, but we didn’t. We went into this with eyes-wide-shut!

I surveyed some of my dog-owner friends and asked about their monthly dog-related costs. The responses were hilarious and the costs, luckily, were not too scary. What I also discovered is that there isn’t a set, one-size fits all, monthly or yearly cost for a dog. There are many factors that come into play. The following is a generalization and quick run-down of numbers based on my friends’ personal doggy-spending habits:

Cost of Dog

This is a one-time (unless you decide on more than one dog) and obvious cost.  The cost will depend greatly on the size and age of your dog, and whether it’s a pure breed, a mix, or a rescue dog. Pure breeds tend to be the most expensive and can range from $1000-$2000 for a puppy. Adopting a rescue dog costs considerably less: $210 for a male and $240 for a female dog through the City of Toronto’s Animal Services. A smaller mixed puppy can cost around $800-900.

Photo by ANTPKR, freedigitalphotos.net
Photo by ANTPKR, freedigitalphotos.net

Food & Treats

Again, the cost of food and treats depend on the size and age of your dog, and the quality of food you choose for your dog. A German Shepard, like my pal Maverick eats about $150 worth of food a month. My medium-sized dog pals Jake and Martha, eat about  $70-$80 a month worth of food.

Vet visits

Again your vet costs will depend upon the health of your dog, and hopefully they don’t get sick.  A “healthy” vet visit will cost about $100. When you first get a pup you’ll have to visit the vet a few times for immunizations, but generally you don’t see your vet more than once or twice a year.

Grooming and Spa Visits

If your dog needs grooming, it can cost about $70-100 a month to send your special furry friend to the doggy spa.  Some people buy nail clippers and brushes and try to do it themselves.  But some dogs need a professional’s touch and maybe even pampering!  Some dogs have hair rather than fur, so they do require haircuts.

Doggy Hair Salon for me please! (Photo by SOMMAI, freedigitalphotos.net)
Doggy Hair Salon for me please! (Photo by SOMMAI, freedigitalphotos.net)

Other monthly costs can include…

Doggy sitting – $30-50/day for family vacations that don’t include fido.

Toys & Chew Sticks/Bones – about $25-30 month.  It can be hard to resist a cute new toy when shopping for their dog food!

Yummy! (Photo by SOMMAI, freedigitalphotos.net)
Yummy! (Photo by ANTPKR, freedigitalphotos.net)

As you can see the costs can add up. But is it worth it? My friends gave a resounding and unequivocal YES.  This is how my (hilarious!) friend described Maverick, her adopted German Shepard, “he’s a like a Ferrari – good-looking on the outside, but requires a lot of maintenance.” He is an expensive dog, but he’s lucky that “he is the “George Clooney” of German Shepherds!” Bow-wow to that!

Another friend also said that her little Jake “gets only the best! We skimp on the children.” I have actually heard that more than once about dogs vs kids! Hum, I wonder what will happen when Carter overtakes, I mean, becomes part of our family?

The list of these expenses don’t take into account the ‘start-up’ costs associated with owing a dog. My family got a little carried away when we made those purchases. More on that in my next post.

It’s Friday, I’m in Love…

The countdown is on! It won’t be long before we bring little Mr. Carter home.

At times, it felt like this frigid February would never end. The Blue Jays have begun their spring training and so there is hope!  Hope of warmer temperatures and with March (finally) around the corner, it won’t be long before a puppy moves into our house.

If you think we’re not counting down the days, you are oh… so… wrong.  Just check out the highly sophistcated countdown calendar that was carefully and lovingly made:

Countdown calendar
Oh it’s on… the countdown that is.

Yup we are THAT close!

Now back to the “it’s Friday I’m in love” just like The Cure song…

We received the following updated photos from our breeder Catharine. Get ready to fall in love.  Here are the pups at almost 5 weeks old.

Ya I know. You want one too. It’s Friday, and you’re in love!