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Dogs

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Baby, Dogs, Personal

When I brought home Oliver 10 years ago I was living alone in Toronto. I had a beautiful corner apartment on Eglinton Avenue with lovely old hardwood floors and black and white tiled bathroom. I had just broken up with my live-in boyfriend and was on my own. It wasn’t my first time living on my own in the city, but it was the first time I felt like I was really doing it on my own. I’m pretty proud of that time of my life.

Oliver very quickly became the absolute love of my life. How can you not fall in love with a little pug-baby? That squishy face is only topped by his hilarious personality. That dog went everywhere with me.

Oliver and I have been through so much together. We’ve been through really hard times… Really, really shitty things. We’ve also done really fun things. Road trips, hikes, camping trips (not his favourite), Christmas dinners, my wedding… He has just been the best companion.

Over the last year Oliver has really started to show his age. It breaks my heart to even consider the fact that one day I’m going to wake up and he’s not going to be there to greet me with a snort and a sneeze. That’s the worst part about dogs. You know that one day they won’t be able to be with you any more.

I now have to carry him up and down stairs, carry him outside to go pee, and follow him around the house looking for accidents since the poor guy can’t seem to control his hind end anymore. I don’t mind the extra work, but I hate to see his body failing. It breaks my heart.

Isabel turned 3 in October. I can’t believe she’ll be starting school in the fall. This is about the time most parents start thinking about adding a second child to their family. We think about it. I think about it a lot. The truth is, it took a long time for Isabel to come into this world, and although I wouldn’t say we’re “trying” (more like, “trying to not care about trying”) I’m skeptical that a second babe is in our future…

Kids aren’t something I thought I’d ever have. I always pictured myself independent, on my own, more of the “cool aunt” type. But Isabel is my life and I’m so glad I decided to give parenthood a try.  A second baby would be warmly welcomed but I’m also 100% happy with how life is now. More so, I feel concern for Isabel. Any parent, or prospective parent knows, the pressure you feel from the world, from unwanted advice, always makes you question your abilities and choices. I always hear, “You can’t only have one!” and “I know an only-child and she has so many issues!” (Full disclosure: the only-children I know are all wildly successful individuals who I really admire. My best friend growing up, my cousin who is like my sister, a friend of my husband who is a wicked mom and runs an art gallery…) Although I’m happy with Isabel, who is my life and my world, I worry that she’ll be missing out on having a sibling.

This leads me to Leah.

I had been wanting a puppy for a while and am always researching breeds and checking out shelters, but I was concerned about how a puppy would get on with Oliver, who has mobility issues and is generally a grump around other dogs.  But when we saw some Boston Terrier/Pug mix puppies come up locally we decided to jump at the opportunity.

Sure, a puppy isn’t a substitute for a sibling, but I know from experience that dogs are the best companion anyone could ask for. And I know that Olivers time is coming… maybe not for a while, but it’s on the horizon, and I’m not sure how I’d get out of bed if not for a little wet nose nudging me out for a walk.

So here she is! Little Leah. Isabel named her. She’s pretty sweet… 3/4 boston and 1/4 pug. She’s a lazy little thing who has quick bursts of energy. She’s funny, incredibly snuggly and loves to be carried. I’m looking forward to the bitey-puppy stage to come to an end, but I’m enjoying the puppy snuggles. Oliver is doing pretty good, although Leah really wishes he would play with her. I often catch them snuggling together during nap time. She’s a smart little thing and already knows how to “sit” though potty training is going a little slow… We start some training classes soon.

The puppy has made things a little extra busy around here but I’m fortunate enough to be home all day with her most days. She has settled in really well to our little family. I’m looking forward to spring and teaching her to run with me.

Pugoween!

Dogs, Personal

One of my biggest fears about becoming a parent was how my dog Oliver would adjust to having a little person in the house. I got Oliver when I was living alone in Toronto. He and I were like two peas in a pod. We did everything together. We rode the bus together, we went shopping together, we played fetch in my little apartment until the wee hours of the morning together… I was worried that with the shift of attention from him to my new little person might cause some jealousy.  Luckily, he adjusted so well to the change in our family dynamic, and now that Isabel is a little older, she absolutely loves him to pieces. It melts my heart to see the two of them chasing each other around the house.

Before we had Isabel, Dan and I used to take Oliver out to our local pug group for play dates and socializing. It always made me laugh because Oliver was so anti-social. He’d sit in a corner by himself, but I always liked going because it feels good to spend time with people as dog obsessed as I am. Plus, being surrounded by a bunch of snorting, snarfling little pugs is just the best thing every.  We finally got back to our pug group last weekend, just in time for Pugoween!

Isabel is obsessed with Paw Patrol (or “Pawtrol” as she calls it), so my friend suggested we dress Oliver up as Rubble.

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It turned out to be a fairly easy costume to put together. I made him a little yellow vest with a zipper up the front. I used an older Simplicity Pattern (2755), and just omitted the sleeves. I’m not sure if this particular pattern is still available, but it is a good one! I cut a size medium for Oliver, who is a gigantic pug, and it fits him snugly. I used some plain yellow knit fabric that I got in the clearance department of my local Fabricland.

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For the little collar, I used a length of black webbing, and attached a snap to either end for easy on and off. I free-handed the emblem on the tag out of yellow cardstock and some beige felt.

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Rubble also had a back-pack that contains his digger arm and other doo-dads. I took an old cereal box, cut it down to size, and glued yellow fabric around it. On either side, I attached some brown felt and cut out some tools from cart stock to glue to either side. I then glued that to a length of brown felt, which formed a belt, that I then wrapped around him and fastened with a snap. I put in a few stitches by hand to anchor the “box” to the back of the vest.

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The only thing he was missing was the hard hat!!! I was pretty proud of myself for putting together this little costume. It probably took me a total of two hours to put together. Best of all, Oliver didn’t seem to hate wearing it (though he pretty quickly managed to pee on it).  It’s pretty far out of my regular sewing realm, but it was a fun project that put a big smile on Isabel’s face when she saw it all come together.

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Ok, now my time to blabber a bit about my dog… As I mentioned earlier, Oliver was always a bit of an outsider in the pug group. Not this time! He was right there socializing with the other dogs. He hardly barked and actually seemed to have a good time. It was like he turned a new leaf! I was so proud of my dog! I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks…

Now the crunch is on to figure out something for Isabel for Halloween…