One Year with Baxter

It has been one year since Baxter joined our family. There have been lots of ups and downs as I adjusted to having a dog, but today I can say that I’m glad he’s here with us.

I wasn’t so sure I would feel that way at various points over the last year. There were a few days where I felt like I had postpartum depression – the feelings of being helpless and overwhelmed were so strong. Sometimes I could not figure out what he needed – when he regressed on his potty training after I introduced some wet food when he stopped eating the dry food. Thankfully cutting the wet food back to a very small amount mixed with the dry fixed that issue.

Getting outside help has made things substantially better. First we hired a dog trainer once a week for a few weeks. She helped us work with him on some of the issues we were having. He still has a lot to learn, but she gave us some tips on how to train him which were very helpful. Another thing we did is start taking him to doggy daycare once or twice a week. That way he gets to be energetic and social with other dogs while I get a little break from him. He loves it there and gets excited when I mention going to daycare. Plus he is super tired and chill in the evening after he goes and even somewhat the next day.

One thing I can’t believe is how much money we have spent in the last year on him. I have only ever had cats before and spend very little money on them. Part of it was us going overboard buying stuff for him like treats and toys, but also he has needed to go to the vet more often and now we are paying for the daycare.

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t think I want to go through raising a puppy again, despite how utterly cute he was. But I am glad now to have him in our lives.

Happy 4th of July

It is Saturday, July 4th, and today we are going to our first family gathering in several months. Since my father-in-law is currently undergoing chemo, it will just be the kids and not the grandkids attending this time. I got Michael some extra snacks to enjoy at home while he watches Baxter for us.

Joe’s job is winding down, and he starts his new job on the 13th. He will be working at a cabinet manufacturer. It’s first shift, but they are currently working extra long days plus every other Saturday. Once he gets through training, the hours will be 5:30-3:00. I would hate to get up that early; starting at 7:30 is plenty early enough for me!

His current job had their annual raffle, and he won a bunch of stuff, including a new laptop and a Dell all-in-one computer. I am using the Dell for work now instead of my old laptop. It has a huge screen, which I love. He was also able to get a graphics card that they were going to throw out, and he put that in Michael’s desktop computer. The only computer issue we are having now is that since we moved Michael’s computer up to the office, he occasionally gets disconnected from his games. So I bought an inexpensive wifi extender, and we are going to try that to see if it gives him a better signal up here. I do lose the connection occasionally as well, so it will help me too if it works.

Things with Baxter are doing much better. Since I cut back his wet food to a tablespoon per meal mixed with his dry food, he is settling more and we are getting back into a good rhythm with going potty. It’s still not perfect, but at least we gained back the ground we had lost for those few weeks. We are still meeting with the trainer and working on leave it and greeting people at the door and walking on the leash. It is slow going but I am still hopeful we can get there. I am also going to be taking him for a trial day at a doggy daycare this coming Tuesday. If it works out, I plan to take him there 1-2 times per week. I think it will be good for him.

The sunroom floor is in now, so that room is just about ready for the furniture that’s arriving on Wednesday. I am so excited to finally be able to use this room! I will post pictures once we get the furniture. We still need blinds and possibly other furniture, since we just got a recliner and a two-piece sectional with a chaise lounge.

So that’s my news for today. Enjoy your holiday!

One Year Old

Baxter will be one year old this Tuesday. Since I’m getting a dental implant that day and wasn’t sure I’d feel up to celebrating, we decided to celebrate over the weekend.

To start, I baked him a dog-friendly cake with ingredients like applesauce and pumpkin, complete with a frosting made from peanut butter and Greek yogurt. For the humans, I made cake mix chocolate chip cookie bars. We sang Happy Birthday and ate our respective treats, which everyone enjoyed. Then I gave him his presents. He got a split elk antler and a birthday balloon toy with rope.

I have to admit I have been struggling lately, vacillating between great affection for Baxter and incredible frustration with him. Now that we are not under a stay-at-home order anymore, I reached out to a few dog trainers and found one that is willing to do positive behavior training for a very reasonable price. So I have her starting this week.

If we can get to a point where I can take him for walks without being pulled every which way, that would go a long way towards helping the situation. If we can get him to stop bothering the cat, that would be amazing. Those are my top two complaints right now.

Hopefully I will be feeling better about things by the time we hit one year since the day we got him, which was September 7th. Until then, I’ll keep trying to take one day at a time. 🙂

Ten Months Old


Today Baxter is ten months old and we have had him for seven months.  Although he is peacefully napping in this photo, in actuality he is just as hyper as ever and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon!  The stay at home order has been hard on him as the dog park is closed, and he lived for his time there.  But Joe is taking him on walks every day after work, so that helps.  I can’t really take him on a walk because he pulls so hard on the leash, and he is too strong for me to handle.  Sometimes it is difficult even when I take him out in the backyard to go potty.

Speaking of going potty, he seems to be lengthening the time between trips outside.  It has been every two hours during the day, but he is going more like every three-four hours now.  He does still occasionally have an accident, but most of the time he lets us know when he needs to go out.

Training classes are canceled, of course, and will be rescheduled when the stay at home order is lifted.  I have tried to do some training at home with varied success.  The main thing I want to work on is heel, so that I can walk him, but it is very slow going.  I still think we may need a private trainer to help us get things under control, but I will wait until we finish the classes and see how things are going then.

20200112_095328The other thing that is an issue is him wanting to chase our cat, Peanut Butter.  He doesn’t always do it, but a lot of the time he does.  Peanut Butter spends a lot of time either in our bedroom or downstairs on the cat tree.  Sometimes if Baxter is resting, Peanut Butter can come over to me to be petted without being bothered, but it’s not often enough.  That’s another issue I would like a trainer to help us with.

So, how do I feel about having Baxter in our lives?  Well, I love him a lot and would hate to give him up, but I don’t think I will get another dog after he is gone.  Or maybe I would get a small dog that is already an adult.  Hopefully, Baxter will have a lot of good years with us and we won’t have to think about a decision like that for quite a while.



Settling In

It’s been a while since I posted an update on how things are going with Baxter. He is now 8 1/2 months old, and we have had him for 5 1/2 months. I am feeling much more calm about the whole situation now, which I think is partly due to the fact that I am once again taking my Prozac regularly. I had stopped and started it several times due to difficulties with the delivery method, but now I have figured that out.

Since I last wrote, Baxter has been neutered. That turned out to be an expensive proposition because the doctor was concerned about the way he was coughing and wanted to do blood work and an x-ray before sedating him. Everything was fine, but it all added up. The procedure went well, and he didn’t even have to have a cone. They said we could get one if he was licking the site excessively, but he pretty much left it alone.

Potty training is going much better. He almost always lets us know when he has to go out. Every once in a while he will pee or poop on the floor, but it is rare. He does still want to go out every two hours during the day, but I’m not sure how much of that is just because that’s just the routine we got into. It’s probably good for me to get up from my desk every couple of hours anyway, so that works out okay. In the evening, he will usually go every three-four hours.

I had mentioned wanting to get a trainer in my last post. When I talked to Joe about it, he wanted to try the intermediate and advanced classes at PetSmart, so we are now doing that. We have had two classes so far. The first one was starting to learn heel and settle. Settle went okay, but heel was not good, and I couldn’t get him to do it during the week either. But when we went to the second class, he did much better with heel. We worked on heel with sit and down as well as wait and stay. I really need to make sure to practice with him during the week so he will get them down.

Leash pulling is still an issue, so I need to work on let’s go and this way as well as look at me while we are walking. So many things to work on, it feels a bit overwhelming.

We are planning a vacation in July, so my friend Kim is going to come and watch Baxter for me while we are gone. She is bringing her dog (a husky), so Peanut Butter is going to go stay with Bob (along with Michael who isn’t interested in going with us because it is a lot of historical stuff) during that week.

Speaking of Michael, he is doing well. He picked his classes for his senior year, which will be Inclusion English, Financial Algebra, Chemistry, Blue Print Reading, and Economics. Of course he will also have his electronics shop. He will be 18 in a couple of weeks, so we are applying for SSI for him. Hopefully he will get that and will be able to keep his Medical Assistance. This Sunday we are having a birthday party at Dave & Buster’s for him. I told him this would be the last big party we would throw him and that we would do something special for his birthday in the future but just not a party. He was a little disappointed to hear that and we talked about how people sometimes have a party on special birthdays, so he felt a bit better about that.

That’s about it for now. This winter has been quite mild so far, and hopefully will continue that way. I have been enjoying my new schedule of 7:00-3:30, although my boss had mentioned me switching back to 7:30-4:00 once it gets past daylight savings time. I guess we’ll see how she feels about it then; maybe she will change her mind.

Until my next update, take care, everyone!

Mixed Emotions

It’s Christmas Day as I write this, and I am officially 50 years old. Seems like I should have a better handle on life by now, but I still feel like I am struggling to get through the day sometimes. My son will be 18 in a few months, which seems impossible to believe, but is true.

Life with the puppy continues to have its ups and downs. He is six months old now and growing bigger everyday. Sometimes I look at him and am filled with regret that I got him because he makes me question my sanity, but other times I am overwhelmed by love for him and thankful for the joy he has brought to my life already. On a sleepless night recently, I went so far as to read the surrender information page on a rescue website and found myself sobbing at the painful thought of giving him up, although I still don’t know how I am going to make it through puppyhood.

A lot of the day is okay. He still takes frequent naps, and a marrow bone will keep him occupied for up to an hour. He gets hyper around 3-4 pm and usually enjoys a trip to the dog park as long as it isn’t raining. It’s hard for me to take him places because he pulls so hard on the leash and jumps on people as well. I took him to the pet store recently and it was a disaster!

Potty training is still hit and miss. He sometimes whines at me to take him out, but other times will just do his business on the floor in the kitchen or the family room. If I catch him, I tell him to stop and then take him outside immediately. I know I should keep him with me at all times, but it is difficult to do that. It would help if we had a way to put a gate at the top of the stairs between the kitchen and family room. But that would require replacing the existing half-railing with a pony wall, and I’m not sure if my husband is interested in doing that.

Other issues include chasing the cat sometimes (although sometimes he will leave him alone), barking incessantly when he is tired of being in the office with me or wants me to play with him instead of eating my dinner, and more recently peeing in his crate when we go out. We don’t use the crate for sleeping, only for when we are out of the house, and it’s not going so well.

I’m sure most of these problems are due to my lack of ability as a trainer. I am considering a private dog trainer to help me learn the skills I am missing and get things under control. We did a group class at the pet store for puppy skills and he did learn a few things but it was difficult to concentrate because he was too distracted by the other dogs. I’m thinking some one on one time with a trainer would be helpful.

So that’s my update for now. I still have hope that I can make it through and keep my sanity intact.

A Little Less Blue

It’s been two weeks since I shared about the puppy blues and how overwhelmed I have been feeling. Things have been a bit better since then – I haven’t had another meltdown, which is a good sign.

I changed my work hours slightly so it would be easier to take Baxter to the dog park after work, and that has helped. He enjoys running around with the other dogs, and I appreciate how tired it makes him afterwards. 🙂

Potty training is continuing to improve as well. Although he has still gone in the house occasionally, there have been several times when he clearly signaled to me that he needed to go out. He is still going every 2-3 hours. I thought the time would be increasing by now, but at least it is getting easier to handle.

He is definitely still in the chewing phase, but he doesn’t seem interested in chew toys very much, unless they are brand new so the novelty is there. He will spend a good chunk of time with a bone that has some marrow on it though. My friend Kim shared with me that after her dogs are done with a bone, she puts peanut butter in it and freezes it to extend its life as a treat.

One good thing is that having to communicate my feelings and needs is helping me become a little more assertive, which is something that has always been a problem for me. It’s still not super easy, but I am forcing myself to speak up so that I don’t get completely overwhelmed again.