Thursday, March 31, 2016

Head of Security

In the week since I've moved into my house, I've had to think about things I never had to think about in my apartment: buying a lawn mower, trash pick up, and whether to get a security system.

Growing up, I never lived in a home with a security system, so I'd never really considered getting one. I wouldn't have bought my house if I didn't think it was in a safe area, but when a representative from a security company stopped by to give me information about their new homeowner program I wasn't sure what to do. My mom wouldn't give me advice. My dad wouldn't give me advice (although I could kind of tell he wanted to say you should do it from the tone in his voice).

So, Barley and I did what we do best--we "cased the joint." This time instead of studying every yard for signs of dogs and e-fences, we studied them for security yard signs. The majority of our neighbors seem to have them. I decided to take the plunge and called my rep.

The installation happened this week and to say it was hard on Barley would be an understatement.

We can't all be as chill as this guy, I guess.

I had plans to leave work a few minutes early and get her out for a quick walk before the installer came. I left work 15 minutes later than usual. I had planned to do some relaxation games in the living room while we waited for the installer to arrive. He called to say he finished the previous job early and could come immediately. He made it to the house before I did. Sigh.

The guy was very nice and gave me a few minutes to get Barley out for a bathroom break before he came in. I kept her on her leash and he gave her her space. I knew I needed to be in the room to answer questions and I knew Barley would have a conniption fit if I left her in her crate, so I grabbed a pocket full of treats and we did our relaxation exercises while the guy worked. He chatted with me--we'd both lived in the same area of Virginia and had the same area code for our cell phones--and I thought he was completely pleasant.

Barley wasn't so sure. If I stopped rewarding her calm behavior for too long, she'd sit up and I could feel a low rumble going all the way up the leash. The installer would talk to her and she'd tilt her head at him, but kept her ears perked and tail still. I moved her bed and had her do some "mat" work (one real mat was in the car from agility class and the other is lost somewhere in the abyss of things to be unpacked). She relaxed a little.

Then the alarm system started beeping as it started its setup. Barley continued to work with me, but the little bit of relaxed behavior she'd given me was gone. She was read to pop up at a moment's notice.

The installer had to walk past us to put sensors in the kitchen, so I repositioned myself to make it easier for Barley to stay focused on me. He passed us once and she was interested, but looked back to me for a treat. He passed by a second time and she did the same. On his third pass, he asked me a question and as I went to answer--instead of praising Barley for her good down--Barley popped up and nipped. Luckily, I had her on a short leash for that very reason and the guy never stopped moving while asking his question, so all she got was air and the guy's back was turned so he didn't even seem to notice, but I was mortified.

I've always wondered if Barley would protect me if necessary. I assumed she would from behavior on walks when she's known I was a little on edge. She's also highly skilled in the arts of intimidation when people have food that she wants, so I know she has an intense mode.

You WILL give me pizza crust.

But I've worked hard to make sure Barley has never felt like she was in a position where she had to protect me and our training has made her far more relaxed than she used to be.

The mail carrier brought mail all the way up to the front step and Barley didn't even notice.

It seems that Barley wanted to give me a little reminder that no matter how much technology I install, she'll always be head of security around here. Message received.

Be sure to visit all of the great blogs joining in the Barks and Bytes blog hop hosted by Heart like a Dog and 2 Brown Dawgs.

Heart Like a Dog

Monday, March 28, 2016

Barley On the Move

It may seem like we've fallen off the face of the Earth since I announced that we closed on our house earlier this month, but I promise we're still here--and officially moved into our new house.

Soth and I had been in our old apartment for 6 years and Barley had lived there her whole life, so even though I've lived through plenty of moves, I'd forgotten how much time and energy it takes to move--and I'd never had to work right up to moving day before, either. After surviving an event at work where I brought 300 middle schoolers to campus for an all day celebration of reading and writing, my mom and aunt/godmother arrived last Friday to help me get some painting done before the furniture moved in on Monday.

We worked insanely long days all weekend to get my master bedroom and kitchen done. Without my mom and aunt, I'm not sure these projects would ever have gotten done, but thanks to them, those rooms are exactly how I envisioned them less than a week after moving in.

I'd gotten all of the wallpaper out of the master bedroom before my family arrived and we took it from this:

Notice the Barley tail?

To this:

This is one of the few corners of the house that doesn't have mountains of boxes.

I have wanted a sunshine yellow room my entire adult life, but haven't lived in a place where I could paint the walls, and now I have one. It's exactly what I wanted.

We took the kitchen from this (which I thought was cute, but not me):

To this (which is 100% me):

Barley'd been visiting the house for a few weeks, so I was hoping that she'd settle in quickly. That hasn't quite been the case. She's acting much like she did when I first adopted her. She follows me everywhere or on the rare occasion she lets me out of her sight, she gets into something she shouldn't (ex. stealing a strip of rabbit jerky out of a bag of treats I still needed to put away and eating it wrapper and all . . . which eventually led to throwing up plastic wrap). When I put her in her crate, she cries. When I gave her a chew to keep her busy while I was carrying things in from the car on one of the man, many trips back and forth from the apartment, she carried it around but wouldn't settle down to chew it until I stayed inside. 

There's been a lot of panting and pacing.

She put herself to bed in her crate early the first night we stayed here, but she's been struggling to find a spot to settle down.

She stole her brother's little bed.

She has never been allowed on the couch in the 5+ years we've been together--and had never even made an attempt to get on the couch at the apartment--but every time I turned around last week, I kept finding her on the couch. I finally caved and patted the cushion while I was sitting on the couch and inviting her up. It might be the only thing she likes about being in the house right now.

Soth is the pet I was most worried about since he has FLUTD, which may be caused by stress. I was afraid he'd have a hard time with the new space. I'm happy to report that I was wrong.

Soth has embraced his new home that I never imagined he would. He had a few hours to explore solo between the movers leaving and Barley coming home from the vet from her teeth cleaning. He ran from room to room where I'd strategically placed cat towers and furniture near windows so he can watch birds easily. 

He really thought the mattress should stay this way. I told him to quit being dangerous.

He loves the storm doors at the front and back of the house and has been very upset when I've told him that it's too cold to leave the doors open for him to watch out the storm doors all day long. When the temperatures decide to stay consistently warm, he might get more opportunities to watch like this.

Most bafflingly, his favorite feature in the house appears to be the basement. I can't figure out it's appeal--the floors are cold (and this is the cat that has me trained to turn a heating pad on for him when he's chilly), the windows are too high for him to see out of, there's no food--but runs down there every chance he gets. When we first moved in, the door didn't latch and Soth quickly learned he could open it by sticking his paw under the door and pulling. My mom quickly fixed that for us and now Soth only gets to go down there when I say he can (I don't want to be heating the basement all day long--or worrying about him accidentally getting shut down there!). He runs down the stairs and then walks laps around the basement--through Barley's gym area, through the furnace room, through the workshop, under the stairs, repeat, with the occasionally side trip to the laundry room. He's like a little old man walking around a track for exercise--I may need to get him a jogging suit! I can't figure out why he wants to be down there or why he walks lap after lap around the basement, but if it makes him happy and he's getting good exercise, I guess it makes me happy.

Soth's found favorite spots to rest and to watch out the windows in every single room. 

He's even offered to help clean.
The only problem we've had with him so far is figuring out where to feed him where Barley can't easily snack on his food. His grandma might be building him a little "dining room table" of his own--window height, of course, so he can have dinner and a show when birds are in the yard. 

Life is slowly starting to fall back into place, so I'm looking forward to making the rounds to everyone's blogs again and catching up with everything that's been going on in your worlds! We've missed you!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Changes for Barley

Last Friday, I closed on my house. After an hour of signing my name 10,000 times and a few hours of waiting for the title to transfer, I got the keys to the house and rushed over to unload a few boxes from my car and then run home to pick up Barley and take her over to see her new house.

We got there just in time to take a sunset walk in our new neighborhood. I think it's safe to say we couldn't love our new walking route more. I will never complain about being able to walk beside the lake every single day. 

After a quick stroll to get a little of the crazy out, we went back to the house, Barley could actually check out her yard and the inside of the house.

Once we got inside, the crazy Barley I was expecting came out. She had to patrol every single room, sniffing along each wall, before moving on to the next one.

The patrolling was followed by some serious zoomies from one room to the next and up the stairs and down the stairs and up the stairs again. 

Once she worked out the crazy, she was ready for the official tour of the house. We started with the basement (because I finally have my own laundry room!!! and had 3000 loads of laundry to sort). Barley discovered that she has her very own dog shower in the basement. Bath time is going to be so much easier now.

Barley also found her gym. Right now, it's just a big empty room that we can toss toys around in, but for Christmas or her adoption day anniversary, she's going to get some shock absorbing flooring (shhh! we'll have to keep this a secret for a while!) so that in the winter (and the months we wait to save money for a fence) we can set up a couple jumps down there.

We also tested out the laundry chute in both bathrooms and then raced back down to the basement to see if the socks we dropped in made it down there. They did.

Barley found the master bedroom closet (a.k.a. thunderstorm central where Barley will have a bed set up so she can retreat in any scary storms). 

And this is only half! of the closet.

We've been spending a few hours a day  at the house so that it can be all ready for painting when my mom and aunt arrive next weekend to help with that project. Barley still isn't complete sure what to think. She's quit with the zoomies, but she still isn't completely relaxed. I took her mat over (her crate is way too big and heavy to tote back and forth each day--and there isn't room in the car for Barley and the crate, even when it's folded up), but she hasn't been too interested in relaxing on it.

So far, she's been doing an excellent job with walks in the new neighborhood, though. We went back to using our "I Need Space" leash while our new neighbors get to know us, and we've been going through lots of treats to make sure each encounter she has with a barking dog in a yard is a happy one.

I'm hoping that she'll start relaxing inside the house soon, too, because we have several more days of wallpaper removal ahead of us.

Not really my style.

We hope that everyone is having a happy FitDog Friday and enjoying the great outdoors a little extra for us while we're working on Operation Wallpaper Removal. We'll be making the rounds to see what fun you've had this week a little later than usual so that I have something fun to look forward to after today's housework! 

Friday, March 4, 2016

Maintaining Sanity

This year has started out much more hectic than I ever imagined it would be. Last week, my realtor called and told me that everything was in place and we could move the closing date up. On Monday, the loan officer at my mortgage company said we were all set to close TODAY.

The major moving won't happen until later this month because that seems like a good spring break activity, but it still meant there were plenty of things that had to happen immediately.

First, I took a long time browsing different Etsy shops looking for the perfect ID tags for Barley and Soth. Barley will be getting her teeth cleaned at the vet while the movers take things out of the apartment and put them into the new house, but Soth will be shut in a bathroom at the new house during the process. I don't want to take any chances of us not being able to reunite if a mover accidentally opens the bathroom door and Soth bolts out. Thankfully, the shop Stamped by Colleen got Soth's tag stamped and shipped the day I ordered it and it arrived already!

I spent a lot of time on the phone with different utility companies (thank you to my electric company who let me start service online without talking to a human being!). Luckily, I have a dog that demands attention and reminds me to take breaks. When I called the water company, I got a recording that said, "We're experiencing a higher volume of calls than usual. Please visit our website for more information or call back later." Then it hung up on me. I tried again and got the same message. It seemed like a good time to go for a walk with my Barley girl. We did a little loop around the neighborhood and I was prepared for my third try with the water company where I first talked to a machine, which then sat there in silence for two minutes--I actually checked my phone to make sure I hadn't been disconnected--before telling me it was putting me on hold for 12-15 minutes, so I could talk to a human being.

The packing has continued and Barley still hasn't gotten used to it. She's still staring at every single box and trying to gnaw on them if I turn my back on her.

This is not the face of a happy dog.

Barley also tried to help with getting the new bedding for the new guest room out of its package. She wanted to be sure she was the first to test it out. Unfortunately, I had to tell her that it's staying in the packaging until it goes to the new house to be washed.

Foxes, Owls, and Books! Three of my favorite things!

Luckily, we had agility where Barley got a chance to run around and get some of the crazy out. We were back to the jump-treat-jump-treat-jump-treat method for the first couple of turns, but she eventually settled down and got focused and we had a really productive night. Our trainer praised us for doing so well when Barley's whole world is upside down right now (it's nice to have our regular trainer back!).

And I had a chance to unwind when I saw that the grocery store had the new Great Lakes variety pack--which included two IPAs I've never tried before and pairs very well with packing.

By the way, it's really hard to take a good picture of a beer! I knew this before, but I just assumed nobody could do it--until I saw Jen's pictures every week for her Barks 'n Brews posts and they are all amazing. (How do you do it?! Besides having handsome Leroy in the pictures, of course!) 

Despite the stress, we had a really great walking week. We got in 23.12 miles this week and are only two miles behind schedule--that's the closest we've ever been to staying on schedule this early in the year! (Thanks, Mother Nature, for the mild winter!) We might not have gone anywhere special for those miles, but since they're some of the last miles we'll get in this neighborhood, that's ok. I'm so thankful to have my Barley girl by my side while I'm working through all of the adventures that come with buying a house. Happy FitDog Friday everyone!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Barley the Musical

When I was in college, the movie version of Rent came out and my friends and I watched it over and over again, taking turns singing along to different parts. At that moment, I wished my life was a musical and people would just randomly burst into song throughout my days.

Last night, as I got ready to feed Barley her dinner, I found myself singing, "If you want to be my dinner, you've gotta get in my bowl" (that's how that Spice Girls song goes, right?) and I realized that my life really is like a musical--with a cast of one human. 

Sing it again!

Barley and I started off our relationship on a musical note. Garth Brooks' christmas album has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid, especially the song "The Gift" about a poor orphan girl named Maria--so when I adopted a poor orphan dog whose shelter name was Maria, the fist thing I did was call my mom to sing, "A poor orphan dog named Maria was in a cage at the APL." There are several other Maria songs that have been added to the soundtrack over the years as well.

Regularly, I find myself singing The Eli Young Band's "Crazy Girl" and reminding Barley that "I wouldn't dream of going nowhere." Or, I remind myself that "I don't want easy, I want crazy" by singing a little Hunter Hayes. On agility nights, I often sing Barley a little Miranda on the drive in to remind her to hide her crazy "and start acting like a lady." 

Then there are the songs where I just insert her name into it. Like Justin Bieber's "Baby": "like Barley, Barley, Barley nooo. Like Barley, Barley, Barley oooh." Or sections of songs that seem applicable to her life, like part of LMFAO's "Sexy and I Know It": "Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, yeah. Do the wiggle man. . . . Girl look at that Barley."

Soth gets in on the musical moments throughout the day, too. When he's restless, I pet him and sing, "I see the moon, the moon sees me, the moon sees some bunny I want to see." I regularly make him dance with me while I sing parts of Disney's Beauty and the Beast: "There's something sweet and almost kind, but he was mean and he was coarse and unrefined." Or sometimes I squeeze him while I sing our adaptation of "I Love": "I love coffee in a cup, little fuzzy cats, bourbon in a glass, and grass. And I love you, too."

Every day when I leave for work, that love of the Rent sound track comes back as I embrace my inner  Mimi and sing, "Just came to say goodbye, love, goodbye, love, goodbye, love, goodbye" to the pets as I gather my stuff and head out the door. I'm certain at least one of my neighbors has caught the tail end of this while I've been locking the front door.

It's not exactly what I had in mind when I wished for my life to be a musical, but I can imagine a better soundtrack for my days.

Do your pets bring out the musical side of you? What are the best songs on your pet's life soundtrack?

Be sure to check out all of the other great blogs in Thursday's Barks and Bytes hosted by Heart like a Dog and 2 Brown Dawgs.

Heart Like a Dog