Wednesday, January 30, 2013

joey joey joerstein

Confession: I am having a love affair with my dog.

Before adopting/rescuing Joey, I was wholly unprepared for how much I would love a dog. My dog. Our dog. My dog...he's totally a Mama's Boy.

Joey, just after we brought him home for the first time. November 2011

We've had Joey for about 14 months now, and we seem to have settled into a good routine. Brian gets up for work between 5:30 and 6:00 and takes Joey out. After they get back, Joey makes a bee-line for the rug in front of the stove and waits for his two cookies (Milk Bones). Joey sleeps in our room at night, not on our bed, but his cozy little nook with Rainbow Blanket and his menagerie of plush toys. The only time he gets to sleep on our bed is in the morning after his outside time. When Brian gets in the shower Joey will immediately conform his little body along mine and we'll sleep curled up together for another hour or so.

I crotched Rainbow Blanket hoping to ease some of his separation anxiety. It didn't work.

It's taken about four months, but Joey has finally become comfortable taking care of business in our backyard. When we first got him, we lived in an apartment and all of his outside time was on a leash, so when we moved into our house, he wasn't sure what to do outside when we weren't attached to him. He would just stand a foot or two away from us and stare like, 'What am I supposed to do?!' We still take a morning walk around the neighborhood each day, something we both look forward to, I'm sure.

Nope, this stick isn't too big. I got this.

If anyone bugged our house and listened in during the day, they'd hear a whole lotta 'You're a good boy, Joey' or 'You're my sweet boy and I love you' or 'You are SO CUTE' and be bored to tears. I talk to him all day long, whether it's a running commentary on what I'm doing, or just telling him he's a good boy, and if that makes me crazy, so be it.
This was a one-time experience, riding in the front seat. Usually he's in the back of either of our SUVs, behind the grate or in a crate. But sometime you have to move a craigslist find and hold your dog in your lap.

He has no particular loyalty to one toy over another. One day he'll only want to play with his Kong and the next it will be his rope (a length of climbing rope from REI - it lasts so much longer). He does, however, need to take a plush toy with him to the backdoor whenever we let him out. Maybe he likes a friend waiting for him? I don't know. After we've all had dinner and I'm cleaning up the kitchen, Joey has decided that that's the perfect time to play Chase. He'll gather as many toys in his mouth as he can and then stand in the kitchen, wagging his tail at me. He'll wait patiently for me to chase him through the kitchen into the living room into the dining room into the kitchen and round and round we go. He has no traction on our hardwood floors, so he just quick-steps it, looking over his shoulder to make sure I'm still there. The silliness of this game cracks me up every night.

Brian and Joey have a different relationship. They're more like wrestling/rough-housing buddies, while Joey is fiercely protective of me and just wants to be near me. Never is this more evident than at bed time. Brian will take Joey out right before bed; after they're back Joey grabs his backdoor-waiting friend and bolts for the bedroom, ready for Cookie Time. Cookie Time started when he was a puppy and would vomit in the morning from excess stomach acid. The vet suggested giving him a cookie or two before bed to alleviate the problem. So Joey waits for me at the foot of the bed on my side, waiting for his six cookies (it's actually two that I break into smaller pieces...he's not the brightest dog in the world). Then he'll sit outside our bathroom while I wash my face, etc. He won't settle into his bed until I'm in bed. It's kind of adorable.

My boys.

The mystery of Joey's origin still intrigues us. He was rescued on the beach in Ponce, Puerto Rico, by a wonderfully sweet woman who works with a rescue agency here in the DC Metro area. Once she'd nursed him back to health, he was shipped to the States for adoption. We've never really known for sure what mix of breeds he is, but we're pretty sure there's some Shepherd and Chinook (an American Sled Dog) milling about. A sled dog in Puerto Rico?! OK. He's definitely no bloodhound...once something falls on the ground it's lost to him forever. Whatever he is, I'm forever grateful to the woman that rescued him and so thankful that Joey picked us. I had no idea that I'd quickly become One of Those Dog People, but here I am.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

laundry room redux

Anyone that follows me on Twitter* or Instagram* has seen and heard all about our fur baby, Joey. Joey, our year and a half old rescue, you say...rambunctious. Maybe needy. Definitely has separation anxiety. Since moving in, when we've left Joey alone he's had free reign of the house and can bark and howl without upsetting our neighbors. This has unfortunately led to some fantastic messes upon our (usually MY) return, however. And with the exception of my poor Nalgene bottle, all of these messes had their genesis in the laundry room.

The open shelves were RIPE with mischievous opportunities. The bins of yard/dog walking shoes were frequently emptied and scattered around the house. The packs of Coke were routinely torn open and it was always a scavenger hunt to find all the cans, praying that they were all still unopened. Two weeks ago four cans went missing and had exploded in the kitchen, living room, TV room and our bedroom. Joey was WIRED FOR HOURS and it took two hours to get the mess cleaned up. Last week was the final straw when he turned my fleece boots into chew toys and tried to eat Brian's NOOK.

We had to come up with something else for the laundry/mud room. After a not-so-quick trip to IKEA, we came up with this solution.

The bottom half of the Billy bookcases hold all of the items Joey loves to destroy and/or play with, and now they're safely hidden behind doors that have been child-proofed. Brian installed those hooks that you have to press down before the door opens all the way, and unless Joey sprouts opposable thumbs, we're good. The rugs are actually bath mats that are soft and nubby and easily washed. Joey has already turned them into a cozy little nest.

The room still needs a fresh coat of paint and a new floor, but those will have to wait until we switch out the water heater (which won't happen until we install a natural gas line to the house). All in good time. I love this little room now, it's a bright and cheery welcome when we enter the house.


watching joey in the snow

Joey LOVES the snow.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

looking ahead

I love a fresh start, a new calendar with blank pages, a do-over. That's how I always feel at the beginning of a new year.

For us, 2012 was another good year. Since the beginning of our relationship (2008), we have been transient and constantly expecting/planning/executing/finishing a move. We lived in four different places in four years. FOUR. And for someone that likes to be home, have a routine, needs order - ME - that was a lot of change and constant never-quite-settledness. A-ha! But now we can finally take a deep breath and know we're not moving for a long time.

The purchase of our house was definitely the highlight of our year. Since moving in, we've focused on getting unpacked and really making it our home. 2013 is the Year of the Yard. We have some major projects that need to be tackled: pave the driveway, have the remaining dying/dead trees professionally removed, till the yard and start fresh. The tilling of the yard is probably the most unwieldy project on our list but it desperately needs to be done. The entire yard has layers and layers of roots and vines under the surface and there's no way we'd be able to remove them by hand successfully - or in a timely fashion. Given the state of the yard when we moved in, and how happy our neighbors have been over the teeny tiny work we've done so far, we figure we've got a while before they start to get antsy about the lack of real progress, but I don't want to press our luck. We're one of the first houses you pass as you enter the neighborhood and we really do want to make a good impression. All the projects must wait a little longer, however, because the weather here in Alexandria is wonky at best.