Day 36

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Cruz Turns .5!!

Yeah I threw my dog a half birthday party. So I am a crazy dog person and I know it, but I also want to take an opportunity to explore that.  Just go full on crazy dog person with it.  People will mock dog birthday parties and other such dog mom events, but here are some reasons you need to get on board already!

      Having a dog is proven to make people happier, and get people outside which does the same.  Ive read stories about obese people adopting obese shelter dogs, and getting outside together to lose weight.  One man ended up losing around one hundred pounds, and became a marathon runner, and saved that dogs life by not only getting him out of the shelter, but by helping the dog to become healthier as well.  It is a cycle of improving quality of life, but the important thing to remember to me, is the difference it makes to humans versus your animal.  That process of losing weight and a lifestyle change is a few year for a human, but it can literally be an animals entire life.

That is why I throw my dog a half birthday party and give him cookies that look good enough that I would eat it! When people come home from work and think, “Alright, I have to walk the dog, feed the dog dinner..” etc. its a small portion of the day, but thats the best part of Cruz’s day,  undoubtedly.  I’m not sure people always make that distinction, and I am so grateful to have a pet that encourages me to get outside more often, and make sure he gets the enrichment he needs to be the happiest pup out there.    

Foot note on the crazy dog lady thing: My sister adopted another dog yesterday.  He is a twelve year old chihuahua off the streets.  He is extremely underweight and he only has two teeth.  So she saved him!  Current names under consideration include Cap’n (Cappy for short), Crunchy, and Krusty.

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Day 23

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{Please forgive the poor photo quality, this was not the outing I had planned.}

Day 23

This past week, was the kind of week that had me itching to get a dog.  Like from the beginning.  You know when you have those days/weeks/months/years, where it would just be easier to not be by yourself?  I have; increasingly.  A few months ago, I would have said that I needed one to get me through the long and lonely days of unemployment.  Every day was spent in solitude applying for jobs for up to ten hours at a time, and only occasionally would I find another fresh out of college friend to join me.  Now, I will tell you that my life has become the opposite of that in almost every way, except one.  Although I work four or five jobs, depending who you ask, and work overtime every single week, it turns out following your passion is not actually a paid career.  Most of my work is unpaid internships that have about a 5% chance of turning into a paid position.  So, not only do I have less time and more people in my life from the myriad of jobs I work, I still do not go out much.  And working so many jobs, I am at each job individually for a relatively low amount of hours per week.  Meaning, as is common for people like me, I am not forming strong bonds with most of the people I work with, and having five jobs is surprisingly lonely.  Especially since my shortest commute is just about two hours round trip.  So there is no time, and no money.

But don’t feel bad for me yet!

I am lucky to have a generous and established enough family that I can work several unpaid jobs while not paying rent.  Or groceries.  Or my phone bill. Or utilities.  Or insurance. Or…. okay you get it.  I am lucky. Very lucky.  I acknowledge this, but life is still hard.  Everybody has their own problems right?  Anyway, I still felt this void of loneliness between the long drives and various down time.  If you are anything like me, which I am guessing you are because you are reading a blog right now, then you are familiar with the theory put forth by Thomas Hobbes.  If not, allow me to paraphrase. People. Suck. Like, most of the time.  And for me, there is no better way to feel content than accommodating my introverted need for a lot of alone time than to snuggle up with a dog.  My dog does not judge me for burping loudly [mom], in fact he will probably join me, or at least get chronic puppy hiccups, because who knew that was actually a real thing!?

This past week, I did my usual hour and a half drive to Long Beach at 5:00AM to work ten straight hours at my unpaid internship.  I say it in a negative way because I think the mere idea that this is how the field of science works is absolutely absurd and needs to be changed, but make no mistake, every single thing I do in my life is to make it possible for me to work at this internship.  All of the extra jobs are purely to support myself through this job, or gain extra knowledge that may give me a competitive edge in some unforeseen way in some vague unknown future endeavor.  But this internship is my life, and the first time I ever got treated as an actual human with a brain at a job where am expected to be intelligent and engaged.  People do not shy away from telling me things because they know I will understand. It made me realize that in every job I have had previously, when people would tell me things, they say it with a tone of condescension, and I can tell as they are giving me instructions, they are expecting me not to understand.  Once again though, I am lucky.  I work there every Tuesday and Wednesday and I can sleep at a friends house in Long Beach, cutting my commute in half.  A friend really more like a sister.  What a deal. 

After working my two long days, we headed to my [actual] sisters house to have dinner.  At about 9:30PM I figured I had better drive the forty five minutes home since I had another entire work week to go before my sparing one day weekend. But alas, what the perfect time for my car not to start.  Everyone else having left in their own cars, I just looked down at Cruz who looked back at me with that little confused tilt head as puppies do.  It wasn’t the battery, but the way more obnoxious problem of a locked steering wheel.  Most may say, oh just jiggle it till it comes loose!  Which is easier said then done with my spaghetti arms.  So I called upon my older, wiser, but more importantly, buffer, sister.  She came right down from her apartment, but was also unable to sway it. 

After waiting over an hour for AAA, the guy proceeds to completely fix the issue in less than 30 seconds.  Isn’t that always the way?  So Cruz hopped up in my front seat and curled into a ball.  We started the drive home a few hours later than planned, but at least we were on our way.  Midnight on the 405.  Sweet.  But wait, dead stop traffic.  At this point, Cruz was just keeping me sane.  With another fifty hour work week ahead of me, sitting on the freeway in the middle of the night was certainly not the relaxing evening I had planned.  But one look at Cruz sleeping peacefully next to me, made it feel more like an adventure than any kind of unfortunate incident. All of a sudden it was a girl and her dog against all odds, and the devilish traffic demons of Los Angeles, and I felt I could have sat there all night and been just fine.  Not that I wasn’t thrilled the moment I passed the slight rear end fender bender that apparently required three police cars, four fire trucks, road flares, and the closure of the left two lanes. (!?!?!?!?) Dumb.  We made it home and both collapsed into bed for a few hours sleep before a grueling week.              

Day 17

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DAY 17

A few weeks later, Cruz and I embarked on our first journey to the mountains. You can see him above, surveying his new kingdom. It was new to him, but not for me. It’s an old favorite in good old Burbank, California, just enough of a hike to poop out the laziest puppy I have ever met. At three miles round trip, medium level difficulty, it really is not that daunting. The rolling hills and view of downtown LA (even the ocean on a good day) always leave us wanting more. Anyone who stays with us gets dragged along at some point, no matter their feelings about hiking.

Enter Cruz.

Billy and Kiki, my well versed hiking pups came along to give Cruz an added confidence boost. We made it about three quarters of the way to the top. Not because Cruz was tired, but because each time a person passed, he nearly tried to walk off the edge of the mountain out of fear. My personal favorite was when he dove head first with all his might into a bush and came out looking like the worlds dopiest flower child. (His first experience being up close and personal with a person on a mountain bike). Horrifying. I tried my best to comfort him, because lets face it, that is just what moms do.
I think due to a severe case of puppy sleepiness, Cruz calmly made his way back down to the car and promptly fell asleep. I should mention, this was the first day we had the opportunity to have him out all day, and we had other plans to go to a art fair in downtown Burbank. I knew it would be a struggle being active all day, seeing as when I got Cruz he was seriously so chubby he had a little roll of fat that wobbled around in-between his two front legs when he would walk. Adorable? yes. But he is meant to be an adventurer! Not a couch puptato (sorry I had to). Anyway, the heat of the day was not exactly helping the situation, and when we got to the fair, I was so excited to show my pup to the world, but he pulled me from booth to booth lying in the shade of each, and refusing to walk down the street in a normal fashion.
After about two hours, it was time to give up and go home. That was the best part of his day. He slept the rest of the day away, and the next morning was the first time he let me sleep in past 6:00AM without making me let him out to pee. Success.

Day 1

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My blog will start just the way it should, with Cruz’s first day at the beach.  After graduating college, and going through a job hunting slump, I finally got the yes I was waiting for.  My dog friendly home equipped with dog lovers and dogs alike, finally had room for me to have my very own.  But it was not as easy as I had hoped; we had a lot of requirements.  One: must be submissive enough to get along with our once physically abused and emotionally damaged rescue dog, Kiki Dee. Two: playful enough to run around with our two year old rambunctious boy, Billy Joel, yet still submissive enough to not mind his toy stealing ways.  Lastly, gentle enough to not rile our geriatric Chihuahua, Shanikwa.  At six pounds, fifteen ounces, she ruled the house; never moving and never barking.  She only sat and surveyed her kingdom, giving side eye to any who dared steal her pillow.  That was just the requirements of the house, I still had a list of my own.  I have a love for Australian Cattle Dogs, having been raised with them my entire life.  So my dog had to be at least part cattle dog, I prefer floppy ears, downward facing tail, smart, loyal, adventurous, and it had to be a rescue. No puppy mills.  I wanted to teach my pup well enough to let him off leash when we went hiking, to follow me freely, come when I called, sit and stay when I commanded, and I had some specialty commands in mind.

We went through round one, which consisted of weeks and weeks of traveling to all the shelters in the area, and I found the sweetest dog.  Her name was Bug. Or at least that’s what I called her.  She was a victim of neglect and when we adopted her from the South Central Animal Shelter in LA, she had no less that forty gigantic, breeding, blood sucking ticks.  She earned her name, and her different colored eyes had me sold in a heartbeat.  She was timid around humans, but she just had to learn to trust us.  We took her home and introduced her slowly to our other dogs, but she mostly just slept for the first few days.  After that, she started growling.  After a week she had gone after the queen of the house, not once, but twice.  The second time she sunk her teeth deep into my dad’s hand when he reached into save Shanikwa.  From the size of his scar, it is still clear today that Bug did not belong in our house.  So after months of effort, I was back at square one with a broken heart from having to drop a dog off at the pound for the first time in my life.

I went back to rescue websites and tried in vain to contact rescue agencies seeking up to $500 for a middle aged rescue dog with health problems.  I stumbled upon a woman who had rescued puppies from a pound after a pregnant stray had got picked up.  I remembered seeing the puppies months prior and thinking other dogs needed to be rescued desperately and these swoon worthy puppies would have happy homes in no time.  But they were still there without homes months later, and after dealing with such an aggressive dog, I thought a puppy I could train and socialize myself would be the safest bet.  I adopted Cruz, formerly known as “Puppy 1” a week later.  He was the most social in the litter, and he knows it, because as I type this his head in my lap.  The day I met him, he ran right up to me and sat in my lap.

Fast forward a few weeks  later after getting to the vet, finishing up final rounds of shots, and getting started on some basic commands, we made it to the beach.  It was then that I had a single crystallizing thought.  “This dog is worthy of a blog.”  My recent life goal of teaching a dog to surf with me (I can only surf small waves anyway) may become a reality with this one.  He fearlessly putted around in the water, and freely followed me up and down the beach.  Like a new mom, I feel the need to brag about the accomplishments of my five month old bundle of joy.  I was so proud and confident in his brilliant abilities as we wandered around and found a wooden teepee someone had built out of driftwood on the beach.  My supermodel of a puppy posed flawlessly.  It wasn’t until five minutes later when I was taking in the views of Cruz happily rolling in the sand with a beautiful marine background, that I realized that what he was rubbing all over himself was a corpse of a dead animal much larger than either of us. 

Welcome to our adventures.