An Early Morning Soapbox

This morning, as I was feeding Little Bear, I was scrolling through Facebook as I always do. I came across a picture that I, for some reason, felt compelled to comment on:

My opinion of this picture was basically this; that it made me sad to see such a young puppy with his ears cropped, and also that the adult dog was, frankly, hideous. I think the specific words I used were “an abomination of irresponsible breeding”. Maybe that phrase was a little dramatic but, at that moment, that’s how I felt. A big part of me feels incredibly and intensely sorry that poor dog. He has obviously been bred for the specific reason of looking like that (I say that because how do you even describe that look? Seriously, if he were a human he would be a cast member on the Jersey Shore.), and for no other reason. He may be good at obedience but certainly can’t perform any athletic activities. Truly, if he were even to attempt to run I fear he might pass out before he got more than 5 yards. And what kind of life is that for a dog? He will undoubtably have knee and hip problems from too much weight being put on his joints. I just find it incredibly unfair to breed a dog to look a certain way when you know that it’s going to cause the dog problems and possibly make him be in pain.

Well, clearly my point of view on this photo is not shared by the others that were commenting because there were many negative responses being thrown my way. I was, to my own admission, unaware that this is actually a breed of dog called an “American Bully”, a mix of APBT, Staffie, and Mastiff. And they all look like this. Once I was made aware of that fact I was even more disturbed. Mostly by the fact that I, as well as a lot of other people I know, have been referring to these dogs as a fad by Pit Bull breeders and calling them “Hippo Pits”. But also as a Bully advocate that 1) People are going to automatically associate this dog with Pitties. Because they associate every breed of dog that looks any where close to this with Pitties. So now not only is there another breed of dog for us as advocates to protect, but there’s also another breed of dog for us to try to keep out of shelters. 2) While I’m sure that these dogs have a great temperament (given the types of dogs they are bred from), they all have cropped ears and look like they they’ve been hitting the juice pretty hard. Which will make people think they are aggressive, because people judge dogs on how they look. Which again, as advocates, makes our job that much harder. 3) We already have a HUGE problem of Bullies overcrowding our shelters, and until that gets under control I believe that breeding should be very limited. We just don’t need any more dogs and puppies being sold by backyard breeders when there are thousands of good dogs dying in shelters everyday. RESPONSIBLE breeding, for the betterment of the breed, is one thing, But this is clearly not that! This is breeding a dog for a look and that is all.

The other problem people seemed to have about my comment was the cropping of the puppies ears. I got responses like “Do you know ANYTHING about dogs? You have to chop their ears off before they’re twelve weeks so that they heal properly and they’ll be in less pain.” I was done with being in a “Facebook fight” at that point, because it’s stupid and trivial. But here’s what I said to myself. “Uh yeah, I do know something about dogs, probably a lot more than you do! And what you’re saying is that you have to cut a dogs ears off, and you should do it while they’re young so that they’re in less pain.” Now, I’m one that is against ear cropping. Period. It doesn’t matter what breed of dog it is, Dobie, Dane, or Pittie, there is absolutely no reason other than a cosmetic one to crop a dog’s ears. And why, if you love dogs would you want it to be an ANY pain at all?? And one more point, as far as AmStaff’s go, when it comes to show dogs the AKC prefers natural ears. So there goes your cosmetic argument. It just upsets me. And that’s my personal opinion…which I’m entitled to and don’t need fifteen people calling me stupid or ignorant when I express it.

So there, that was my soapbox for the day.

 

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Happy Birthday Rooney!

Mother Nature must have known that Tuesday was a special day. We woke up to the coldest day of the year so far, and the Dutch Dog had an extra spring in his step during our morning walk. Rooney absolutely loves it when the hot, humid, sweltering weather of Summer subsides. I imagine that the crisp bite of the Fall air reminds him of being at home in Holland. Unfortunately for him we live in South Carolina and that cool air never lasts long. So for him to have a walk in the chilly breeze for his birthday was a special treat!

Three years old. Roo is officially an adult dog. Not that he knows it. Three is generally the age when a hyper-active adolescent dog starts to calm down and become a more well behaved member of canine society. Not Rooney. He’s still just as exuberant as ever!

Of course he got presents. First he got treated with a frozen peanut butter Kong, always a favorite, and then it was time to open gifts. We got Roo a toy from Kong (they seem to be the only brand of toys that he doesn’t immediately destroy) that is squeaky and a tug toy…all of his favorite things in one. He loves it! 

No birthday would be complete without a good nap, and Roo and Little Bear had a good one snuggling together. To top the day off he got to spend the evening doing zoomies around my Mom’s backyard and playing with his best doggie pal, Polo.

All in all a great birthday for Mr. Rooney!

Who Are You and What Have You Done With Little Bear

I don’t know what’s going on. About two weeks ago someone switched out my fussy, grumpy, overly needy baby for a happy, laughing, independent one. They look the same…they make the same crazy bird noises, but they certainly don’t act the same. It’s as if the moment Little Bear turned six months old someone flipped a switch.

Little Bear has been so sweet lately (not that he wasn’t sweet before). He finds everything hilarious and is laughing all the time. And the most amazing thing…he’s craving time to play by himself! I’m seriously enjoying this new found independence. It means I can actually get things done around here and the layers of dust are finally being swept away! And lets not get carried away with it. He is definitely still the same child; he needs his mommy time; which is good because I need my Little Bear snuggles!

Most of all I’m just happy that he’s happier. It had to be a stressful existence being upset all time! Now if he could just get the hang of putting himself back to sleep….

He went from this….

…to this!

 

Finding My Passion

Being a SAHM is hard. Really hard. I never expected it to be this hard. Apparently my mind lives in a place full of gum drops and unicorns, and when that reality is crushed I tend to cry. Not only is being someone’s sole source of entertainment for twelve plus hours a day completely and utterly exhausting, but it also leaves very little time for me to do anything for me. For instance, I’m not even a full paragraph into this post and have been called away by Little Bear three times. I had visions of fun outings, cuddles, and nap times that lasted two hours or so. 

We do have fun outings, every now and then, but there is only so much that you can do with a five and half month old and only for so long before he starts to freak out! There are lots of cuddles…and lots of crying too. Don’t even get me started on nap times.

Please, don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else with my time. I have no desire to put Little Bear into daycare. Being with him is the most wonderful, joyous thing in the world to me. I can’t imagine someone I barely know being there to experience all of his “firsts” instead of me. But I must admit that this whole SAHM thing leaves me with a feeling of wanting more.

Where did I go? Before Little Bear there were so many things I was passionate about and loved to do. I was in the middle of starting my own business. I had a direction that I was headed in and my future was a little uncertain but I at least knew the general path it would take. Now I feel lost. I’m not used to not contributing financially to our family and that is something I find myself struggling with quite often.

I thought about opening an Etsy shop, but unfortunately my sewing skills are not quite good enough to sell anything that I’ve made (So now Little Bear has an overload of stroller toys to play with!).  I’ve thought about writing a children’s book, and might still do, but I can’t draw more than a stick figure so that puts a bit of a damper on that possibility. I do love street photography and have quite the collection of shots from when we lived in Amsterdam, but at this point in time getting them all together is just a little too time consuming.

I guess I’m facing the conundrum every mother faces…can we have it all? At this moment my answer is no. Me time will just have to be put on the back burner. Because for now Little Bear time is just too important to miss out on. He needs me a lot more than I need to feel totally “fulfilled”. In the meantime I’ll try to suppress the guilt I feel for not wanting to spend every waking moment with him!

 

Why I Don’t Go To The Dog Park

Before I had Little Bear and became a SAHM I had been working with dogs for about five years. I worked at doggie day cares and, when I found out I was pregnant, was in the process of starting my own dog walking business (which has been put on hold, hopefully not indefinitely). I spent 90% of my time in the company of large groups of dogs. Not to mention controlling large groups of dogs. This experience, I think, makes me better inclined to understand the nuances of dog “language” and behavior than your average pet owner.

A lot of people think that the dog park and doggie day care are basically the same environment: lots of dogs running around and playing in an enclosed space. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth as there’s one BIG difference between day care and a dog park. Day care is a CONTROLLED environment! Whereas the dog park is basically a free for all.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that dogs are like kids, their “parents” generally think they can do no wrong. And it’s these puppy parents that make going to the dog park an absolute nightmare for others.

I recognize that Rooney needs a spot of training and is generally as rambunctious as a bull in a china shop. He’s also a bit of an, ahem, hump magnet. Contrary to popular belief this has nothing to do with sex. It’s a dominance thing. And as evidenced by the fact that Rooney is bossed around by twelve pound Polo he is NOT a dominant creature. Which all the other dogs at the park immediately recognize and so feel the need to assert their…ummm…dominance over him. In the form of humping. Sometimes two at a time. It’s not a pretty picture. Eventually Rooney will get tired of this less than polite behavior and do something about it. He’ll generally warn whatever dog is currently expressing it’s dominance over him by turning around and snapping. Read: warn. Snapping doesn’t mean he’s going to bite. It is his way of telling another dog that he has HAD ENOUGH and they need to stop…now.

Unfortunately, because he’s a Pit Bull, uneducated owners wrongly assume that he’s going to attack their sweet, precious, wouldn’t hurt a fly Golden Retriever; even though it’s the Golden (Or whatever other dog has decided to see that Rooney knows who’s boss.) that is exhibiting the bad behavior. He’s come home with scratch marks on his belly from another dog’s dew claws and once someone even bit him on his, uh, manhood.

But the dog discrimination doesn’t stop there. We’ve had incidents of Rooney and another dog innocently playing and the other dog’s owner will begin to freak out that our dog is attacking their dog! Seriously? Do you not know the difference between play and aggression? Sure it gets a little loud and boisterous, and I’ll even give you that Rooney is very vocal when he’s playing. But don’t you think that if your dog was in any danger from my BIG SCARY PIT BULL that I would try to stop it?!? Apparently not.

Once the owner of another dog actually kicked Rooney. To say this didn’t go over well is an understatement. Don’t kick my dog. You’re going to see repercussions. Period. Would you kick my child? No? Well you just did.

After the the kicking incident there has been a ban on the dog park in our house. It’s just too much drama. Every time we go something crazy happens and we have to leave early. If only dog owners would admit that their dogs have faults, be aware of what triggers their pets, and, you know, have some control over them! Then the park would be a much happier…and safer…place for all! Until that happens we’ll be sticking to supervised play dates with dogs we know!

Five Months Old

It’s been another month, and this one certainly brought a lot of changes. We seemed to have skipped the “four month growth spurt”, so I’m sure another one is coming soon enough, because he’s only gained a pound and a half (16 lbs 12 oz) and grown about an inch (26 1/2″) since the last time we were at the doctor’s; at the beginning of the month when he had his last ear infection. However, there has been a lot of other stuff happening!

The biggest things that happened this month are that Little Bear learned how to roll over from his back to his tummy and he got his first two teeth!!! We’re a bit early in the teething department but now hopefully we can just get it out of the way! (Is this wishful thinking?) Surprisingly he hasn’t been any more grumpy than usual.

He has also started to reach out for things that he wants and is showing a definite preference to being held by me (poor Daddy!). Currently his favorite thing to try to get to, besides me, is Roo. Or any other dog for that matter. Seems like he’s going to take after his Mommy and be canine crazy! He just loves to pet him and can’t stop laughing when Roo licks the drool off his face.

Little Bear’s “vocabulary” of noises has also expanded dramatically this month. He is still babbling up a storm and using all the goo and ah-gee noises that he used to, but has now added “raspberries” and what sound like high pitched bird calls to his repertoire. The razzies are hilarious, and he knows it too! His favorite time to do them is when he’s eating his rice cereal and consequently getting it all over himself. And me. And pretty much everything else within a three foot radius!

Not all the changes have been fun though. Just when I thought we had a sleep schedule down he’s decided to go on a complete sleep strike! Before, he was predictably getting up at 11, 3, and finally waking up at 6. Now he is up almost every hour! We are all feeling the sleep deprivation, and it’s not pretty. I just hope and pray that once the pain from his teeth breaking through subsides he will go back to being a better sleeper.

I know I say this every month but he is just growing and developing at breakneck speed and it is always so astounding to me how much he changes. Not only from month to month but from week to week as well!

Cloth v Disposable

Little Bear has been in cloth diapers since he was old enough to fit into them; at about two weeks old. Before he was born I was a bit nervous about using only cloth, but determined nonetheless. I knew, if for savings reasons alone, it would be worth it to have him wear fluff. Still, it was intimidating. There is an OVERabundance of information out there, so much so that I caused myself to have a mini panic attack over what I was going to put on my baby’s butt! (Diving Into Fluff) Thankfully after all the research I did…who knew one person could become so obsessed with something that catches poop…I was completely prepared and the system we chose was the perfect one for us.

As it turns out my stressing and panic attacks were for naught. Cloth Diapering is in fact incredibly easy. The most important thing is to find a system and brand that works for you and your little one. Because I’m a SAHM I don’t need to use a diaper service. I just throw everything, wet bag and all, into the washer, set it to sanitize and three hours (!) later they’re ready for the dryer. I have to admit if we didn’t have this amazing washer and dryer with their sanitize/antibacterial settings I may have used a service; but we do, so…

We do use disposables at night. Little Bear outgrew his newborn size All In One’s before we even had a chance to put them on him, and fitting a prefold into a cover in the dark at 3am is just a little too much to ask of me when I’ve got one foot in dreamland!

Recently, though, we’ve been having to use ‘sposies a lot more than usual. Little Bear has had two ear infections in a row. Anyone who has experience with babies, ear infections, and antibiotics knows that they will go #2 anywhere from 5 to 6 times a day, if not more. Frankly, that is just too much laundry for me to do. Call me lazy if you want but that’s how I feel about it!

Here’s the thing…when we were talking about using cloth the one thing all the skeptics said to me was, “Aren’t you worried about how much they leak?”. Turns out the disposables leak more than the cloth do! Just this morning Little Bear woke himself up because he had leaked out of his ‘sposie and it was ALL OVER EVERYWHERE. That wouldn’t have happened if he’d been wearing cloth. I can’t tell you how many pairs of pyjamas I’ve had to bleach because of disposables. There is no way that we could do disposable full time. Even Hubby, who swears he can’t fit the cloth onto Little Bear as easily as I can (which is just nonsense), prefers to use them over the disposables.

Little Bear is growing at such a break neck speed that he’s about to outgrow the newborn size and move up to the One Size diapers. These will last us until he makes the big boy step of potty training in a couple of years. Another thing that cloth has over disposables is that they’re so darn cute! Have you seen the patterns on them? I mean, whoever decided diapers could make a fashion statement…genius! I can’t wait to go shopping for new covers! As if I needed another excuse to go shopping for Little Bear….