December 15, 2021

It's potentially a dog-eat-Christmas-tree kind of world we now live in, plus hodge podge *photos galore

We've been debating where to put a Christmas tree, because of Finn. In nice weather he's outside or inside tied to the kitchen door handle so he can't wander very far. His bed, food, and toys are there. Most importantly, apparently, is that we are there. Our master plan:  give him free reign of the living room during the Chicago winter. The family room is carpeted and full of toddlers and babies and their toys. 

Two year old boys eating breakfast - note:  Finn's
area is to the right of the table. He was
still sleeping in his crate - he and Lad sleep
 in. Meal time with toddlers is challenging. 

The living room is where we usually set up our tree though. It's off the beaten path, so Finn wouldn't give my allergies any trouble. Honestly, at this point if I haven't started wheezing, I don't think I'm going to . . . so long as I don't start sleeping with him in my bed or getting my face in his fur and nuzzling him like he's some sort of cute, irresistible puppy. Well, he's all those things, but there's literally no chance in hell that I'll become that reckless. My friend, Becky-who-babysits, loves on him enough for both of us. 

I'm not a monster, I DO scratch him, pet him, and talk lovey-dovey to him for some seriously joyful stretches of time. But I leave my nose out of the love-fest and I wash my hands immediately following. Becky's kind of love-on-Finn is much less reserved. 

Anyway, we've tried training Finn to hang out in the living room. We even moved the huge coffee table out of the room*. "Here you go, enjoy your larger space Finn." Well, turns out he'd rather be near us. He doesn't stay in there for long. I'm opposed to having baby gates all over the place. I'm tall, but I'm as clumsy as a baby giraffe. Not interested in taking a header. 

The girls got creative during our attempt at training him. They set up Curly's iPad and then called it with my phone to spy on him. Our version of an indoor surveillance system. When he got close to either of the two exits, they scolded him and we all shook empty water bottles full of coins to alert him:  NOT OK. Anyone wondering why I'm behind on my Christmas shopping bill, paying, and laundry?

Yes, we have a workout bike in our living room. That's another story. This is Curly getting him to sit and Mini in the video chat window. We are easily amused.

One of Coach's patients told him that Irish Setters are pack animals, so he will insist on being near us. Have I mentioned that we don't know anything about having a dog? Or was that implied? 

This is not Miles. I took Finn to the
pet blessing at our church.
He was in heaven.
Our cluelessness reminds me of an encounter that real-live, authentic dog owners, like so many of you, might appreciate. Or laugh at. I took Finn for a run a few months ago - since then Lad has decided no more running till he's over 1 1/2. Something about his tendons or knees or whatever. Coach only knows about people parts, so we were unaware. 

Anyway, a HUGE fluffy white dog named Miles approached on the path. I was trying to steer Finnegan AWAY from Miles. Here's where I need help:  WHAT IS PROTOCOL? Am I supposed to keep my not-my-dog away from other dogs? 

Mile's owner then said in a very sweet voice:  CAN WE MEET? 

Unrelated, but funny. I was taking a photo
to show Lad that Finn was going to church to
 be blessed and Finn took a crap, as in THIS IS
When I came home and told my kids this, they cackled. The socially-dog-clueless people that we are, we didn't know this was a thing:  asking if my dog can approach your dog, etc. Miles and Finn had a little sniff fest. They nuzzled one another. This leads to my next question:  HOW LONG IS ONE MEANT TO STAND THERE AND ALLOW THE DOGS TO GET ACQUAINTED? Is it rude to stand there too long? What if 'my' dog is more bouncy/young? Is it ruder to end the friend session prematurely? Finn would hang out all day, if allowed.

Anyway, gifting the living room to the dog appears to be a fail, so we're thinking the tree will go in there. We'd also considered the family room where the tots hang out. I could convince the 2 year old crowd not to touch, but one of the one years olds tends to struggle with off-limits stuff. We bought a tree today, after going to 3 places to find one. Progress, as in checking something off my list - not the 3 different lots we visited. 

Piece of shoe.
In the meantime, the day before Coach and I flew to Arizona, I conducted a test. Curious about whether or not Finn might decide free reign of the living room might be better than the smaller kitchen area, I decided to give it a whirl. I wasn't babysitting. I was making food in the kitchen for my upcoming party. I put him in the living room and I thought, HEY, HE'S DOING PRETTY WELL. 

I went to check on him. Oh. Shit. He'd wandered out into the front hall (I can't see front hall from the kitchen) and snatched one of Coach's black shoes. He'd ripped a piece off of the back. Oh brother. Note:  he also had my running shoe in there, like it was next on the menu. That would've ended badly. 

Shoe minus bite size bit.


Me:  (groan) OH. WELL . . . 

He didn't want me to run to the shoe repair place. He tried them out at home and they seemed fine. It wasn't noticeable. He's in the market for a new pair, so he wasn't terribly upset. He always buys exactly the same shoes. He likes the support/the look. I suggested that we tape up the back of them with Curly's black electrical tape that she uses to secure her dancing shoes. He took a pass.

Can I get you a pillow?
If we sound like hodge-podgers, wearing ripped shoes and shuffling dog ready spaces, well, guilty as charged. Add to that list the * from above:  we took the bunk beds down. That was hard. Not physically. Emotionally. Bunk beds have been a staple since before Reg was born. 16 years. It wasn't lost on us that Har and Lar could've been using that room had it worked out. Sigh.
Ugh, this was a hassle.

Anyway, we put Ed, Tank, and Reg in the big room with three beds. We moved Lad to the empty bunk bed room. Lad didn't want to sleep in the twin size bunk bed. We bought a full size mattress. He'll take that with him when he (and Finn) move out. We planned to store the bunk bed in the crawl space and basement storage room. 

Speechless, can't even say LOVE WHAT
Note the bed height though.
Pretend it's made.

Well, the bottom drawers and book shelf piece that fit under the bed didn't break
down. We decided to leave it in the room and construct Lad's bed around it. The problem:  what to put on the other side of the mattress to support it? Hmm. 

Me:  WHAT ABOUT THE COFFEE TABLE IN THE LIVING ROOM? THAT WAY FINN WILL HAVE MORE SPACE (back when we thought that smart idea was gonna work)?

The coffee table, stacked with the bunkie boards from the bunk bed helped level off Lad's makeshift bed. Now, his bed appears to be lofted because where were we going to keep the box spring if he didn't use it? If he doesn't like it, all the more reason to save up and move out. Am I right? 

After the shoe eating,
I was working at the
computer and I just let my buddy
 hang out near me.
We had the floor color first, so the dog
 matching the exact shade of our floor
 was not planned, but genius - right?

Oh, we once left Finn in the kitchen for less than an hour. He chewed our very nice, slightly new French sliding door (photo below). Now he goes in his crate when we leave the house. Oh, and we're thinking about enclosing the dance stage in the basement, so he can have a bit more space when needed. 

Speaking of guilty as charged.
Look over his shoulder at what was a very nice door frame. Humph.

Hit me with your dog advice. What's holding up your tree buying, gift ordering, card addressing progress? 

*editing to add:  Finn escaped yesterday, and why escape? - good home, great food, several sets of hands to pet him, etc. Yes, you are right - I FREAKED OUT. There is a stake in the ground with a cord-like 12 foot rope that attaches to his harness. (I could be using the wrong lingo - I don't own a dog). Anyway, the weather in Chicago is unseasonably wonderful. I put Finn in the yard tied up and the tots on the deck, not tied up- but the gate locks. When I went out to bring the tots in for lunch, and move the dog from the yard up to the deck . . . he was gone. So was the long cord. I had no idea how long it was since he'd slipped away.  I called his name. Nothing. I looked down through the yards and there he was. Sniffing in someone's bushes several houses down. I called him and he looked so happy that I wanted to play with him. He ran directly for me . . . with the 12 foot leash thing whipping around behind him. It's a mystery how he got unhooked, because the attaching clip is not broken. Anyway, PHEW. 

** ALSO (this just in and I HAD TO SHARE):  My brother, Pat, called here this afternoon. Wanted to grill me on what we were going to do about having Christmas with my folks, like boosters and such. He heard a baby in the background. 

He asked me:  IS THAT A BABY? 

I was like:  YES, I RUN AN IN-HOME DAYCARE (have for 7 years now, but that was implied). 

He was speechless. 

Bottom line:  my brother didn't know what I do for a job. He lives 12 minutes from me. Not that that matters, but he isn't in Alaska and never in touch or anything. Mind.Blown,. 


Nicole said...

Barkley is ALWAYS close to me during the day if he's awake. It's very cute. When he was a puppy he used to sleep at my feet and get up every time I got up. He's especially close to me when I'm preparing dinner, just in case there are dropped bits on the floor! Glad you haven't had any allergy issues with Finn!

me said...

If he's used to the crate, it's a good idea to put him there when you're out. It's like his little den - he can relax and know it's downtime. Also keeps random footwear safe.
(I am not a dog owner but do dog sit for my daughter's nice but neurotic cocker spaniel.) And let him hang with you - make sure he's comfortable around men and women and littles. Make sure he has plenty of toys to chew on.
As for out walking, usually watch for body language - if the owner is marching or leading the dog away from you, it's a signal that they're not in the mood for a meet and greet. The dog will also give off signals if it likes other dogs or if it wants nothing to do with you. Most dog owners who don't mind some attention will smile and have an open look. (At least that's how it works in my town.)

Busy Bee Suz said...

Dogs like to be with us. ALL.the.Time.
Yes, you should always crate him when you can't watch him; it's the best thing for him and your home, shoes, doors, etc...
Very scary about him running off with the cord; that could have been very bad. He ran because he was bored. They do need quite a bit of exercise to tire them out of boredom.
He is SO darn cute. I wonder if your allergy shots are what is helping you survive him in the house?
KONG dog toys. They have these almost indestructible toys that you can fill with treats. It will keep him busy for a long time, trying to get the treat out of it. Pretty genius.
Callie loves to 'meet' other dogs. Lillie wants to eat them. So, you can see how much we socialize.

You had him blessed. YOU ARE HIS GRANDMA NOW.

Laughing at the NOT BUNK BED, COFFEE TABLE BED. Only you.

Brother Pat is living in his own world. *sigh*

Maddie said...

Omg that sweet puppy face. Finn darling! You’re a handsome one. I can see why your friend cannot resist him. I’m so so glad your allergies are staying calm with your smart system. My (one and only) dog also chewed furniture. Years later and my family still discovers little teeth marks in odd places (like the underside of a chair? How even?). We got her when she was a bit over 1 year. Eventually she stopped chewing the (very nice antique) furniture and chewed her (many many many) actual chew toys. Dogs will teach you - one way or another, am I right? Anywho, I love that Finn has the whole family brainstorming ideas. Your kids were so clever with the iPad thingy! But yeah, our dog was also most happy in the same room with her people pack. We did crate her when young but as she got older she was content to doze on her dog beds, keep a lazy eye on her people and just chew the (many many many lol) dog toys. Hoping Finn outgrows his puppy phase soon. Hang in there!

Kari said...

Your brother noticing the children in your home reminds me of the scene in Field of Dreams when Amy Madigan's clueless brother notices the ghost baseball players on the field behind him. In defense of Amy Madigan's brother, they were ghosts. Your brother has no defense. :)

Your dog is SO CUTE. But yeah, they eat everything. You're lucky, our puppy eats underwear.

Kara said...

We got a Pandemic Puppy! Our first dog (well, my husband and I both always had dogs growing up, but you know.

Puppies are like babies with sharp teeth. They eventually stop chewing on things, but for a longer than you'd like time, nothing is safe. Hence, Shoe Jail. All shoes go into a bucket by the door, or else they're at risk of getting chewed up. We weeded out a lot of shoes in the first few months.

Dogs are totally pack animals and want to be with people all the time. Our dog is now a year and a half, and will agree to sleep on the couch in another room while my husband is working from home, but he likes to be able to open his eyes and see my husband from his perch.

We tried crate training. We failed crate training. He cried. It was so sad. So now he usually sleeps with a kid, or occasionally by himself on his bed in the loft. But there was a storm last night, and he freaked out and wound up in my bed, squished between me and my husband.

Pat Birnie said...

I have been meaning to comment for some time on how attached you seem to be getting to this dog you did not want! I’m guessing you are enjoying him more than expected, and you will miss him when they leave.

Also, confirmed that your brother is clueless.

Beth Cotell said...

No dog advice from me because we have cats. I am SHOCKED that your brother didn't know that you have a day care in your home. I can't even!!!!

Ernie said...

Nicole - Ah, Barkley. I'm sure Finn would follow me everywhere if he was allowed. He wasn't attached to his leash for awhile yesterday and he crawled under the table and considered claiming the half sandwich one of the tots left on the floor. It was comical. He laid there staring at it as if he was trying to figure out if he could get away with it. If not for the toddlers, I'd be a tad more lenient on having him wander in the kitchen, but he's big and most of the toddlers find him to be a bit much. It is a relief that my allergies have not reacted to him. Lad didn't give this decision a moment's thought, so he got lucky because he is trying to save money by living here and he could've blown that deal.

Ernie said...

Me -I appreciate your knowledge. He DOES have a ton of toys. And bones. At this point he is so big and strong that even if I didn't want to approach another dog I'd have very little to say about it. Yesterday when I walked him, I made him sit until the other dog was out of sight because he was pulling me so hard. I do think his behavior classes are helping. Lad took him to Pet Smart near out house for lessons after a woman I met while walking suggested it.

Ernie said...

Suz - We definitely do now crate him whenever we leave the house. Lucky dog that there is almost always someone home in our family. I don't know what the deal is with that cord, but I don't want Lad using it anymore. We typically only put him out there for very short stretches, so he was probably only gone for 5 minutes but yes - that could've ended very badly. He was about one house away from a main street, not VERY busy street, but a street with more traffic than our neighborhood nonetheless. And what if that cord had gotten caught on something? Ugh. Scary.

I'm laughing that Lillie wants to eat other dogs. Ann's dog does not like other dogs. I never knew that was a thing. Finn dragged me into another yard last week. The owner was out and the dog seemed really excited to see Finn - they've met before. Then the other dog just stood there and looked in the other direction while Finn sniffed her and wagged his butt like crazy. It was like the other dog was just saying HEY, I'M ALL THAT. YES, YOU MAY ADMIRE ME, BUT I'M NOT INTERESTED IN YOU AT ALL. It was very funny.

KONG toys - going to have to look into that. I swear Lad brings him new toys after every behavior class, but a toy that keeps Finn interested sounds great.

Ha, yes - this is the only kind of grandma I want to be for A WHILE.

Yes, hodge podge central over here. There have been a few moments since we took down the bunkbeds when we wanted to toss Lad out on his ear and I thought OH MAN WE SPENT SO MUCH TIME SETTING UP HIS ROOM. ;)


Ernie said...

Maddie - I really can't complain too much about the chewing. I've heard of the disasters puppies can cause. Finn has been fairly tame in that regard. He did chew up Reg's headphone's case that I had JUST bought him, too. We are being more careful and the fact that he can't go wherever he pleases has helped.

That iPad day was so funny. Quite creative. But alas, he isn't happy in the living room even though he'd have more space.

Ernie said...

Kari - I do agree that Finn is quite cute. The looks he gives, like when I unload the dishwasher and he's RIGHT THERE giving me the look that screams, BUT YOU REALLY WANT TO LOVE ON ME RIGHT NOW, RIGHT? My sister's dog used to eat underwear. I'm sure that if Finn was able to find underwear he'd eat it. Fortunately we don't generally leave underwear near his spot in the kitchen.

Yes, my brother. So confused. Good grief.

Ernie said...

Kara - Poor Finn, he is deprived. He will never sleep in bed with any of us. Well, when Lad moves out then he will dictate the rules. I can totally see Lad having his dog sleep in his bed. Anything that interferes with my sleep would be out on his ear and I am confident that Finn would interfere with my sleep.

Your shoe bin sounds like a good plan. There are so few things in Finn's space TYPICALLY that we've managed to do pretty well to avoid him chewing lots of stuff.

Ernie said...

Pat - I ALWAYS wanted a dog when I was growing up. I put it on my Christmas list every year. I wanted an Old English Sheep Dog. At that time we knew nothing of my allergies, but Pat's allergies were extreme and my folks were like we can't have a dog because of Pat. I was always like THEN GET RID OF PAT.

I do love Finn, but I will not be sad when he moves out. Promise. Besides Lad plans to buy a condo near us and I'm sure Finn will still be visiting quite a bit. He really does add a whole extra dimension to my days. Taking the kids out to play on the deck involves moving the dog away from the door, or going out another door. Moving him away from the table when they eat. Taking him out or enclosing him on the deck and keeping an eye on him so he doesn't escape or bark outside for very long. It's like having an extra tot in my daycare ONLY I'M NOT PAID FOR HIM.

Ernie said...

Beth - There is no question, you cats would get my allergies going, shots or not. I'm surprised that I've been fine with Finn.

Yes, Pat - what is your deal? Living in his own world.

Ally Bean said...

I've never lived with a dog so I offer no advice. Finn sounds like a handful, but is cute so that'll probably work in his favor. Deciding where to put the Christmas tree can involve intense negotiations even without a playful pup.

Ernie said...

Ally - Up until now, I could've said the same thing - never lived with a dog. Although, the truth is I lived with one until I was 3 or 4 when my folks discovered that my brother was deathly allergic to dogs.

We really only have the one spot for a tree. The family room is always too busy - which started back when my kids were little. There's one spot in the living room. The dog who hates to be alone has at least allowed us to have the tree in that same spot. But it IS still in the garage as of tonight, the 18th. Too much going on to bother with a tree.

Bibliomama said...

Ffs, Pat - Copernicus called, he said the world DOESN'T REVOLVE AROUND YOU. Do your parents know what you do? Sorry.
When we decided to get a dog, Matt was adamant that we would crate the dog at night and when we left the house. We crated her at night until Matt went away for business and then I let her sleep with me because, tiny adorable puppy, husband gone, hello. He got home and went to bed before me and I went up and the dog was asleep on his butt. Oops. As for crating her when I left the house, that worked about six times until she got wise to what the treat meant and was like, how about you eat shit? The crate is now in the basement and the dog has the run of the house, but she doesn't destroy anything. Except our dignity and self-assurance, obviously.

Ernie said...

Ali - Ha. Love this. Yes, my parents DO know what I do. The irritating thing is they wouldn't expect me to do much more than babysitting.

I am laughing at the dog sleeping on his butt. Awesome. And then HOW ABOUT YOU EAT SHIT? So funny. We did let Finn hang in the kitchen while not being on his leash the last few days, trying to train him not to go in the family room . . . but still sent him to the crate when we weren't home or when we sleep. He is cute, but I'm open to loving him from a distance when he and Lad move out.