My Dog Made It Through Her First Year Without Me Killing Her, In Words and Pictures

Despite my best efforts, my dog Molly has made it through one year of life relatively unharmed. When I started writing this blog on her actual birthday, May 20th, I was going to say that the first six months were extremely eventful and chaotic, and the most recent six months were relatively unexciting. But as you’ll see below, excitement and chaos often pops up unexpectedly when it comes to dealing with a puppy.

Per my usual dog-blogging format, here’s one year of Molly’s life by the numbers:

1: Years old in regular time

7: Years old she’s supposed to be in dog years

67: Years old she acts most of the time…You try to walk her for longer than 10 minutes on a day where the temperature is above 65 degrees and she will fall to the ground and turn into dead weight, absolutely refusing to go any further. You then have two choices: carry a 96lb dog a half-mile back to the apartment, or pull on her leash so hard that the pain from more walking is far less severe than the pain from strangulation. Also, even though she is about six feet tall and extremely muscular, she gets on and off our couch as if she is the oldest, brittlest  dog on the planet.

96: Pounds. Yes, as far back as six weeks ago we started telling people that Molly was done growing. She really hadn’t gained any weight at that point after hitting the 90lb mark. After weighing her earlier this week, it appears we aren’t that lucky. The race to 100lbs is officially back on!

There was a time when Julie could easily hold Molly like this:

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And now you can see the back-breaking effort (literally) it takes to pick her up:

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9: Months we owned Molly before Julie finally came over to my side in the “should our human-sized dog be allowed to sleep in the bed with us” argument. Once upon a time before we got the dog, Julie and I agreed that it wouldn’t be sleeping in our bed ever, and then Julie immediately changed her tune after we got her. When I call her out on this, Julie’s response is always, “Yeah, but I didn’t know back then that I was gonna love her so much.” Pathetic. But finally a couple weeks ago Molly’s constant moving around and seizuring during her puppy dreams kept Julie up for just enough of the night that she decided it was time to recapture our bed from the dog version of Andre the Giant.

1: Number of times we rushed the dog to the Emergency Room in an absolute panic because she might have eaten some grapes. Listen, you can laugh all you want at taking our dog to the ER for grapes, but ever since we got her (the first dog either of us has ever owned, by the way), we’ve been repeatedly told by the Vet, other dog owners and people who can’t mind their own business that there are two human foods besides chocolate that are absolutely deadly to dogs: onions and grapes. So on that fateful Sunday night when we saw Molly standing over a pile of grapes that was magically sitting on the floor, how were we supposed to know whether she had actually eaten any or not? And even if she had just one, we were told by the ER staff to bring her in. Two very long hours later, we at least had an answer as to how valuable our dog’s life was to us…

350: The value, in dollars, that we put on Molly’s life during the Great Grape Debacle of 2013. The doctor told us there were two options: they could give her some medication that would try to block any toxins that were entering her bloodstream from the grapes, which would cost $350 and we’d be taking her home that night, or we could keep her at the ER for 72 hours while they constantly pumped her with IVs to combat those same toxins, which would cost a minimum of $2,500 but would provide a near certainty of her not getting kidney failure. We felt good about spending the $350 for the take-home medicine…because we knew she was a strong dog that wouldn’t get taken down by a measly little grape. Not at all because that additional $2,000 was needed for our vacation fund.

1: Additional times Molly has visited the ER since I initially wrote the above two paragraphs a week ago. I guess her health was going too smoothly (two months without a vet visit!)…in the mystery of mysteries, Molly developed a bunch of red bumps all over her back one day while she was home alone. When one of them started bleeding, it was time for another ER trip. But at least this time we got a deal, only $270 for the visit and a bunch of meds! But seriously, absolute mystery to the doctors…could have been bitten by something, could have had an allergic reaction to something, could have been just because she was missing me while I was away so much that she figured the only thing to get me home was to put herself in the emergency room. Well it didn’t get me to end my trip any sooner, and now she has a temporary deformity from her fur being shaved:

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100: Percent of the time that Molly consumes mass quantities of ocean water when we take her to the beach.

100: Percent of the time that Molly has the equivalent of a fire hose spraying brown water out of her ass after she consumes said ocean water.

1: Number of household items Molly has partially destroyed since I last wrote a blog about her New Year’s Eve destruction. Unfortunately it was the only piece of furniture we’ve purchased since moving to LA. Poor papasan chair:

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3: Days each week that Molly refuses to eat her breakfast. This one still confuses me, but I refuse to spend any more time or mental energy trying to understand her quirks. I read a comment on some random website that said dogs aren’t genetically programmed to eat on a schedule multiple times a day like humans are. They’re programmed to be able to go long periods of times without food because their ancestors in the wild would only eat when they found available prey. Right or wrong, this explanation is good enough for me.

2: Hard metal objects that she’s walked into face-first in the past 10 days. She’s definitely become a better walker over time, but she still has to look at every interesting thing during a walk around the neighborhood. And when that interesting thing is another dog, she will watch it for as long as she can, even as we make her continue walking. So it wasn’t totally surprising that she walked head first into a metal street light pole the other day when I was with her. And it turns out just a couple days later, Julie was crossing the street with Molly and she decided to pay attention to another dog rather than where she was walking…which ended up with her smacking her face against the side of a car that was waiting at the stop light. I know this dog isn’t actually my child so we don’t share any DNA, but I did once run face-first into a parked car outside of church while playing tag with my friends. So I guess it runs in the family?

Areas where we’ve seen significant improvement since we adopted her last summer:

Acceptance of being in water: Every time we’ve taken her to the beach over the past year, she’s gotten more and more daring with the ocean. When we took her a few days ago, she finally started chasing other dogs all the way into the water until she couldn’t stand anymore. She’s becoming obsessed with it, which I discovered can be a bad thing when I took her for a walk next to a sewage run-off a few months ago and she decided to jump in. Also, her second favorite thing to do at the beach besides go in the water at this point is to freak out on the sand as if she’s never felt such an amazing substance before. Check out this short video to see what I’m talking about:

Freaking out when she sees another dog: She’ll still let us know with firm pulls on the leash that she wants to go play with the dog she sees across the street, but at least she doesn’t go into full freak-out tantrum mode any more.

Acknowledging that her owners exist while at the dog park: This is an important one. I won’t say she’s the perfectly obedient dog when she’s playing with her friends, but at least now if we call her, there’s a 50/50 chance she’ll listen and come to us. This is especially important when a dog fight breaks out and Julie or I are sitting 50 yards away from it (as for the amount of dog fights I’ve seen, I’d guess it’s about 10 in eight months of going to the dog park. Probably four or five have ended in bloodshed for a dog or a human, but never Molly or us).

Treating her crate like a bed instead of a prison: Finally, finally! She voluntarily lays down in her crate when she’s tired. No longer does she treat it like a prison. No longer do we have to literally shove her into it when it’s time to lock her up. It just goes to show you that if you make the rest of your apartment scary and uninviting enough to a dog, they will in fact seek shelter in their crate.

Areas of no improvement or where she’s gotten worse:

About that water thing: The one exception is taking a bath. We try to bathe her once a month before we apply her flea treatment, and she’s as terrified of it today as she was at three months old. As soon as we get her in the bathroom, she turns into dead weight, forcing us to lift her into the tub and hold her there while she slowly tries to lean her way out of it. Not sure what it is about the tub, but it’s another one of those things that we’ve given up on trying to figure out.

Car entry and car rides: I’m not sure which one I would classify as worse, the fact that she won’t jump into the car on her own (never, not once in 10 months of having her), or that when she’s finally in the car, she will stay sitting up and rapidly panting the entire time she’s in there (even if it’s a six-hour ride to San Francisco). She hates everything about the car, which is weird because most of the time we put her in the car, we’re taking her somewhere fun. We’ve tried roughly 300 different arrangements to make her feel comfortable (putting a bed in the backseat for her, putting her favorite toys or stuffed animals in there, putting her in a harness that attaches to the seatbelt, and most recently, buying a dog hammock for her to lay in). None of it works. Tough to be a dog in LA and not enjoy car rides.

Separation anxiety: When we first got her, Molly hated being away from us, even if we were just in another room of the apartment. Then she seemingly matured and didn’t mind when we left her in the living room alone. And now she’s back to screaming bloody murder any time we force her to be more than five feet away from us. I’d like to think this has nothing to do with the fact that I’m always home with her so she hasn’t had to deal with being alone in the apartment all day, but let’s be honest, that setup probably hasn’t taught her to be independent.

So there you have it. Molly is good at some stuff, terrible at other stuff, but always entertaining. We’re thinking about getting four or five more puppies next month just to spice things up around the house (and to provide me with more dog-blogging material). Stay tuned.

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One thought on “My Dog Made It Through Her First Year Without Me Killing Her, In Words and Pictures

  1. Ju-Ju Bean: Are you wearing pig slippers? And is that a puppet version of “Say Yes to the Dress” in the background?

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