Wednesday, September 9, 2015

In a year.


In case you were wondering, which I assume you are because you keep coming back here, I have no clue what I'm doing with my life. This has been one of the hardest, yet most rewarding year of my life. It's hard to believe how much has changed in a year but despite everything that's happened, I've never been happier. I'm proud of the person I'm becoming again. I'm happy. And that's all that matters.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Why does country music hate on brown eyes? And other such rambles.

Seriously though, how come there are not more songs about girls with brown eyes… Those blue eyed beauties and green eyed gems have plenty of songs. But there’s a select few of us brown eyed babes that wouldn’t mind a country song or two...

I digress...

It’s Tuesday but a weekend recap is still plausible. My weekend was filled with wine, Chinese food and a house party for a friend’s birthday. It was also filled with leaves… So. Many. Leaves. Now that I live in a house with two dogs, the backyard was becoming quite the mess of leaves and land mines in the form of dog business. I spent a majority of the sunny, fall-filled days this past weekend cleaning up my parent’s back yard. I usually detest yard work, but I hate losing a pair of shoes over discovered landmines a lot more. It was pretty relaxing actually. I dug out my dad’s old 1-hp leaf blower and made a huge pile of leaves that was eventually transferred to a ridiculous amount of compost bags… gloves were a definite for that process… Is this TMI? Sorry, not sorry.

Toby was happy as a clam during this whole process. I hooked him up to the run in my parents backyard and he finally got the chance to spend endless hours outside doing whatever he pleased. Which turns out is mostly just tipping his head back in what looks like utter bliss and smelling all the smells. He’s definitely the type of dog that would live outside if given the chance… I know this because whenever I let him out, it usually ends with me picking up that 30lbs of fur and carrying him back inside. His beagle skills were in full force as he investigated his new home’s backyard and slightly turned his curiosity to the windstorm I was creating. I didn’t get a picture of it but for a few minutes he let his jowls fly as he tried to eat the wind coming from the leaf blower. At one point I lost sight of him but when I turned the corner I found him sitting on my parent’s two seated swing… That little character even figured out that if he jumped off and back on he could get it to swing. I caught him doing that a few times and eventually found him all curled up as the swing rocked him to sleep…

The other highlights of the weekend including meeting up with some friends Saturday night. First up was a trip to Keith’s house were we enjoyed a nice home cooked dinner with his girlfriend. After dinner we headed over to another friend’s house party to celebrate their birthday. Beer pong, a campfire for s’mores and an old wooden swing were enjoyed by all. It was nice to get out of the house and catch up with friends. The rest of the weekend was filled with the perks of living at home which included Chinese food and wine compliments of my folks.

I gotta say though… I can’t get over how good I’ve been feeling lately. This new atmosphere has been so good for me. For instance, I’ve been walking Toby every night after work. It has been so nice to unwind from the workday as he and I enjoy our little walk loops. I think that was something I was missing from before… taking the time to relax and unwind. Plus I know Toby is reaping all the benefits of this because that little monster definitely needs the walks to keep him from going stir crazy inside. But this change of scenery for us has been so nice. I feel like myself again while simultaneously learning more and more about me… does that even make sense?

I also have been spending more time catching up with the people who really do appreciate and matter to me the most. I wish I had paid attention to all this sooner but for now I’ll make up for the lost time and enjoy every day here on out.

Hope everyone is enjoying the cool fall weather we’ve been having. This is by far my favorite season. Although, I heard a rumor from a little birdy known as the weather man that snow might be in the forecast for Saturday… Might be time for me to pick up a snow coat for sir Tobster to wear on our walks! I won’t let you down though; pictures will be in full force if that is the case!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Toby... aka Sir Chews-A-Lot.

Last week I opened my mailbox to find two packages. I immediately thought they were the shoes I had ordered because it made perfect sense that a pair of size nine boots would not only come in two separate packages but fit in the mailbox… *cue blonde moment*. But as I looked closely at the package, I saw they were from Doggy Loot and they were addressed to the one and only Toby!

Have you guys heard of Doggy Loot? They are the largest website for dog product discovery. Their mission “is to spoil your dog by making it easy for you to discover new dog chews, toys, treats and more at discounted prices.”

A couple weeks ago I had asked Doggy Loot if they had any toys they thought were indestructible and would like to put to the test. They sent Toby a black bear (which I thought was cute since we live in Maine!) as well as 10 low-order bully sticks. 

The black bear is made by Tuffy and is part of their Zoo Series Bear - Beaufort. 

Its tag says “Extreme durability” and “Built to last” but it also gives a disclaimer that “There is no such thing as indestructible!” 

Well… I’ll get that in a second…

As I mentioned here, Toby is very skilled at destroying any and all things. This pup is even pretty creative… One afternoon, I was playing with Toby and he was getting a little too mouthy so I had sprayed a shot of the Bitter Apple Spray into his little mouth. He immediately ran away from me. I assumed he was hiding from me, but what I didn’t know what that he was off getting revenge. In the matter of 5 minutes he destroyed the zipper on my favorite fleece vest. A vest, mind you, that was hanging up between other coats and scarves that were much more accessible to him… I truly believe it that he went specifically for the vest because I had been wearing it that day… If it hadn’t been my favorite and only vest, I would’ve been impressed but… Ok who am I kidding, I was impressed… the zipper was straight!

Can  you see it? 

Here... I'll help you...

He even went on to one up himself by going after the trim board of our stairs. In the early days of having Toby, we didn’t like the idea of crating him all day while we were at work so we used two baby gates to pen him in a little bit bigger of an area. Well that last about a week. We came home one day to find he had not only jumped one of the gates, but he had decided to go down to the basement to snack on the laces on our winter boots. The next day, we thought we’d outsmart him and slightly raise the gates. When we got home, he was still penned up and all look normal. But about an hour later as I went to go upstairs I noticed wood shavings on the floor… and then I saw the stair… Toby ate the trim board of the stair! 

Again, annoyed but still impressed. (Although I think Toby is the annoyed one now since he has to be crated during the day.)

But his destroying skills don’t stop there… We are constantly replenishing his toy supply. Toby has a way of finding the weakest part of the toying and zeroing in until either the squeaker is out or the fluff has been removed, because that’s usually when we intervene and take the toy away from him. And it’s not like we’re buying him flimsy toys… We’re constantly looking online for toys deemed “indestructible” and sometimes even go as far as to play tug of war with each other in the store. We figured if two adults can’t break the toy, surely it must be good! WRONG!

And unfortunately, that is the case with the Tuffy Black Bear Doggy Loot sent us…. I had extremely high hopes for this black bear! First glance, it looked far superior to any of the toys we had previously bought Toby. The seams looked very well constructed and the material felt strong! The eyes were even sewn and not plastic like most toys. And unlike most toys, it was very full of stuffing, which I thought would be a strong suite for the this black bear. 

Its tag also said it had a squeaker… but the toy was so stuffed I never found it… that is, *spoiler alert* until Toby had taken all the stuffing out and low and behold a squeaker came out too….

The first day I gave Toby the toy, he was beyond excited. I swear he played with this toy differently than any other toy we had given him. In fact, we would catch him prancing around the house with the toy in his mouth, occasionally shaking his head like crazy, as dog owners know, to make sure it was dead…. 

Sorry for the blur.
I couldn't help myself with adding this photo...
By day two though, I noticed one of the ears was ripped apart… then later that night the stitching on one of the back paws was coming loose. 

Four days later, the toy was pretty beat up and that night I found Toby lying on top of it pulling the stuffing through the toy’s paw. 

We tried to take all the stuffing out in that area and gave it back to him, but he just continued to make the hole bigger and more accessible to the rest of the fluff. 

It was then we mournfully deemed it dead and laid it to rest on our kitchen counter… Toby followed the procession with much anticipation (and jumping), but I think he knows by now what happens once a toy reaches the kitchen counter… 

It eventually gets buried in the trashcan*….

Toby - 1, Tuffy Black Bear - 0.

So with that said, if your furry family member is the type of dog who focuses on finding the weakest part of a toy and destroying it from there, this toy, unfortunately, will not hold up to the test.

But there is some good news. The bully sticks Doggy Loot also sent us have been lovingly chewed. While they do have some odor, it’s not overwhelming. I looked online and found out they are low in fat and high in protein as well as 100% natural and digestible, all of which is really important to us. With Toby’s destroying skills, we love to give him treats that can keep him occupied while not causing him any harm. 

Toby ate about half the bully stick within a half hour. We took it away from him and he finished the other half the next night. Toby is known to demolish treats so we have to watch him closely with things like bully bones and rawhides. We think its the beagle in him... he just doesn't know when to stop!

The three of us are really thankful for the gift from Doggy Loot and because of their great prices we plan on ordering more from their site. Speaking of their website, it is updated every day with at least 4 new doggy products that range from toys, apparel to chews. And when you sign up they will email you the new daily deals every day! I definitely recommend this site to any dog owners who are looking for a fun variety of gifts (at a great price!) that even get delivered right to the door for their furry family member.

To stay more up to date on deals, follow Doggy Loot on Facebook and Twitter @doggyloot
And, hey, while you're at it, go ahead and follow me @thatchickgirl!

Thanks again Doggy loot!

*We haven’t had the heart throw the Tuffy Black Bear away yet… I might try to revive it with some amateur sewing skills… We’ll see!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Discount Dog Love.

Just like that guy or girl you were seeing that happens to mysteriously be MIA during the holidays I'm back.

Since we last left off, Josh and I adopted a puppy!!!

Meet Toby!!

Granted he's three years old and technically not considered a puppy, he's a beagle/bull-terrier mix so his hyperness will always keep him in puppy mode. (We do wish there was an off-switch some days...). He has an amazing personality for a dog and always finds a way to crack us up.

You might be scratching your head right now so let's play a game...

After a crazy year of moving in, furloughs, spontaneous adventures, a part time job and even some stressful things, why did Josh and I decide to get a dog?

A. To up my ranks in blog land by becoming a dog owner.
B. Because it was a Black Friday special and we got him half off.
C. Because thought we could casually stroll into the SPCA and not leave with a dog.
D. Because we both grew up with dogs and we knew we wanted that furry love in our lives.

The correct answer would be secret option, E. All of the above.

While I'm sure my page views will not soar any higher just because I got a dog, we really did get Toby on Black Friday and he was in fact half off. I'm pretty sure that's how stories of getting dogs like Cujo start.

But let's backtrack a bit for a second... because let's be serious, this blog is more for my personnel records than for getting famous on the interwebs.

Early last fall, Josh's parents dog had passed away. After a few months of wavering back and forth about getting another dog, they found out the NH SPCA was having a special on Black Friday and decided to check it out. Meanwhile Josh and I had been talking about getting a dog long before I moved in. I grew up with beagles, my dad grew up with beagles and I was hell bent on continuing on the beagle legacy. Josh however, wasn't so keen on beagles since they are "nose-down-and-go" once outdoors, LOVE to bark and howl, and to put it bluntly, they are not extremely trainable. He was leaning towards more of a lab or boxer type of dog.

We played the Petfinder game for a while, trying to find a good mix of what we liked but when it came time to actually fill out the application we talked ourselves out of it. I had only just moved in and we wanted to wait till we were more settled in financially and with ourselves.

When we heard Josh's parents talk about how they were planning on going to check out the Black Friday special at the NH SPCA we were excited for them but never thought of going ourselves. We had a plan and we were going to wait. Plus, we had to work too. We told them to send us pictures and let us know how the process worked in case we wanted to try adopting from them in the future.

Then around 3pm, as we were getting ready to leave work, we got a call from his parents... In one of the lonely cages, was a timid and shy beagle named Royce. They thought about getting Royce for themselves but they knew how much I wanted a beagle so they told us to come check him out. Josh and I talked and decided it wouldn't hurt to go see him, check his file, and figure out the adoption process...

As we drove down to the SPCA we told each other that if Royce wasn’t available we wouldn’t adopt at all, just look around and get more information on adoptions. When we got to the SPCA, Royce was no longer in his cage. He was out for a walk with a family and the volunteer told us they were most likely going to adopt him. He encouraged us to fill out an application anyways. As I filled out an application, Josh was out checking out the dogs and talking to the volunteers. I met back up with Josh and we walked around looking at all the dogs again. As I scanned the cages, one dog in particular kept catching my eye. He was labeled “Toby - Beagle” and while he had the beagle body style, he didn’t have the floppy ears. Regardless though, he was adorable. And funny! He was pretty content with himself chewing up and playing with his own toys and didn't seem to notice everyone walking around. He was keeping himself entertained; something the other dogs were not doing. After a few laps of the dog area of the SPCA, we kept coming back to Toby’s cage. We hemmed and hawed and finally asked the volunteer if we could take him for a walk.

When they got him leashed up and handed him over to us, I was amazed at how strong this little guy was. Never has a beagle been able to pull my arms out. Josh and I gave each other a look that said something along the lines of “this probably isn’t the right dog”. Once we got outside though, he was a completely different dog. He was content and playful, jumping up on us and giving us those lovely dog kisses. We stayed outside for a while with him and talked about how he wasn’t really what we wanted and he definitely wasn’t what we came here for, but there was just something about him. We brought him back inside and the volunteers asked us what we thought. We were so undecided so they encouraged us to go through his file.

He had been rescued from somewhere in West Virginia. They had found him with an embedded collar. When we had taken him for a walk we noticed he had as scar that wrapped around his whole neck. While we don’t know his whole story for sure, he had been found with a collar that has been so tight around his neck, it cut into his skin and eventually his skin grew over it. Toby has a lot of muscle to him, which is very unbeagle-like. We assume he had been neglected and tried to pull free making his collar tighter and tighter… or maybe someone was just very cruel to him… we don’t know. But regardless the little guy had to the have the collar surgically removed and he will forever have a ¼ thick scar around his neck.

But like I was saying… He traveled from West Virginia and was brought to the NH SPCA. A few months later he was adopted by a family that ended up surrendering him in only a few short weeks. They had young children and Toby was very mouthy. This made us nervous right away. Neither of us wanted an aggressive dog. The file said the family recommended that he was placed with families with teenagers or older. After going through the file we were even more undecided but realistically leaning towards not adopting him. When we brought the file back the volunteers asked again about what we thought of Toby. We told them our fear with having a mouthy dog and the fact he was surrendered so quickly. They said realistically he could’ve been surrender for a number of reasons. Although Toby is three, he was probably never trained. Maybe the family that adopted him wasn’t prepared to have a dog. Toby is a very playful dog and dogs like that nip when they are excited. Who knows what the real reason was, what mattered was what we thought of him.

All of the information kept us wildly undecided. There was just something about Toby though. Finally the volunteer told us to take him for one more walk. They gave us a tennis ball and said to take as long as we wanted with him. Leashed up and ready to go, Toby pulled Josh right out of the building, but once outside he was a completely different dog again. Alone with the just the two of us, Toby played with the tennis ball and us and really just melted our hearts. We could see where his mouthy-ness came from when we played with the ball, but it was really just playful nipping. Nothing vicious. We probably stayed with him for close to an hour outside till we decided Toby was going to be ours.

We were met at the door by a volunteer. She asked point blank what we wanted to do. Together Josh and I said we’re going to adopt him. The volunteer was so excited and started telling other volunteers. Based on the “What!? Toby is getting adopted!” and “Yay! Toby found a home” responses we started to wonder if we were really adopting Cujo. (They assured us we weren’t….)

So much excitement filled that car ride home and towards Petco. Excitement from Josh and I though. Toby clung on to my arm with his legs for dear life.

At Petco we must’ve looked like idiots… we had literally nothing at home for him so we had to buy food, bowls, a bed, toys, etc. And of course we had no idea what to even start with… We put toys in his face asking him if he liked it. I think a part of me actually expected him to be like Woof-yes! People came up to us in the store saying what a cute dog he was and asked questions like “Aww how old?!” –We think 3?, “What an interesting face, what is he?” –Beagle Mix? , “Does he like treats?” –Uh sure? We don’t even know; we’ve had him for twenty minutes…. (In case you wondering, he didn’t like treats at first). All the while, poor timid Toby just pinned his ears back and followed us through the store.

At home it was like Christmas opening all of Toby’s stuff up. He just kinda stared blindly at us. He didn’t like Milkbones at first. Just a sniff and head turn. Water seemed to be a whole new mystery to him. Josh and I took all the toys trying to play with him. Out of everything we squeaked and shoved in his face, Toby took the Kong bone-shaped toy and went off into the living room. And then that’s when it happened. Toby took the toy, bit into it and started squeaking it like crazy. Like really crazy. Then his ears pinned back, his head tipped up and he started howling…. With the toy in his mouth, he did a combination of bite-squeak-hoooooowwwl-repeat. Josh looked at me and goes “Well you definitely got your beagle!”

Its been over a month now since we adopted Toby. At the first vet visit we learned he was most likely a beagle-bull-terrier mix. Maybe some jack Russell, maybe some boxer, but realistically he’s a Heinz-57 dog. He can jump like crazy. He is a solid 30lbs. He loves to run. Any squeaker toy turns into a squeaker-howl fest. Outside he is nose-down-and-go. He has the appetite of a large dog. He finally likes treats now, but carrots are his favorite. He is super snuggly, but prefers to sleep upside down and legs sprawled in the air. Funny though… When we left the vet, I immediately googled “Beagle Bull Terrier Mix”. The first picture that popped up was a dog that looked just like Toby! Then I googled Bull Terrier traits since I’ve never looked into that bread before. The first sentence I read was “The best way to describe a bull terrier is a three year old child in a dog body.” Yup. That was Toby for sure.

As for the mouthy-ness, he has calmed down a lot. The first week was a little rough. He loves to play and he plays hard. We used the bitter-apple spray to help teach him not to naw or nip our hands when we’re playing. We also taught him the phrase “NO BITE”. If he starts to get mouthy we can usually say “NO BITE” and he starts licking the area he tried to bite. We’re hoping in time we’ll completely get rid of his mouthy behavior.

As for Josh and I, It’s been a huge learning curve. Toby has forced a lot of structure into our lives, which is great. We now wake up with our alarms because once that goes off, Toby is up. There’s no more hitting the snooze button once or twice. The second that alarm goes off its time to get up because Toby is already doing laps around our bed.

He’s also forcing us to be more active with walks and being outdoors more. We found out the dog park is only a 10 minute drive from our house and boy does Toby love that. Speaking of drives, Toby loves to go for rides now. The first two weeks we had to literally pick him up and put him in the car because he was so scared to go in it. He also loves the beach… which is extremely unbeagle like.

Also you’ll notice in almost all the pictures that we have been using a harness. Since he had the embedded collar and since he still likes to pull when we’re walking him (we’re working on that now), we got him a super durable harness that he basically lives in except for when he is crated or during the night. He doesn’t resist us when we put it on him or try to bite it off. The shelter had given us a simple gentle harness when we left but he literally ate that within the first week… Yes, he ate right thru the material, while wearing it.

Speaking of things he destroyed:

Decorative couch pillow
Stair case trim board. Yes… stair case trim board….
His bed
My favorite vest…
Josh’s carhartt work gloves
The corner of our comforter
His leash
And countless toys

Anything super fluffy is destroyed within minutes. We’ve had the best luck with Kong toys and this one random Chicken that our friends brought over made by Durables… knock on wood, that’s the only toy that’s lasted since we got him. We’ve probably got him over 30 toys since Black Friday. Its almost impressive the amount of toys he’s destroyed within days and even as little as minutes. Most of the things listed above were destroyed some time during the first two weeks. We’ve since figured out his destructive behavior and now are more cautious with what we leave lying around.

Anywho… If you’ve made it this far, congrats… and thanks. We are so happy to have Toby in our lives and he made our first Christmas together even more special. I’m excited to share more Toby stories with you as time goes on.

Now for your viewing pleasure he is an overload of Toby pictures…


He destroyed every toy in this picture. 
Nom nom nom
Goodbye my favorite soccer shorts.
Goodbye Christmas lights.
Dog Shaming Take 1.
"That pillow tasted aaamazing!"
"I grow tired of your pathetic dog shaming attempts."
"I got your sign!"