Thankful for 5 Years, My Family and New Opportunities

You can read all the blogs and books you want. You can talk to all of your friends and family who have kids. You will learn a lot… but you won’t know what you are going to be like with a child.

walking-with-emmett

A little over a year in and I am still figuring out what I am like as a mom. As with every mom, I have made some sacrifices, slept a little less and probably added some stress to my life. What I am doing is trying to see what are the things that are stressful to me and also make a note of what things I enjoy the most. As I have said before, I have just this one life and only a small amount of time with my son and I plan on doing my best to enjoy it.

Making these notations of stressers and what I want from my life, I have made big and little changes to my day, work flow, expectations and relationships. Probably the largest change is I have made the very big decision to leave my job, at Hall Internet Marketing, that I have had for 5 1/2 years.

When I started, I was a different person and we were a different company. I have had countless opportunities, I have learned so much about business and marketing and I have had the honor of helping the company grow into the solid team it is now. I will miss my work friends, my boss and our clients but I knew it was time to make a move.

With that said, I did find my next adventure and I think you are going to like it… I am going to be joining the wonderful pack over at Planet Dog. If you have heard of them, I am sure you are squealing with delight right now. If you haven’t, let me tell you a little about this great little company that is doing BIG things.

planet-dog-logo

  • Planet Dog is a socially responsible, values-based company, bringing people and dogs together for fun and mutual support.
  • They make their own line of premium products “made for dogs, by dog lovers” – including the award winning Orbee tuff balls & bones and more. Otto likes the new Snoop combined with the Orbee ball.

otto-snoop

  • Their mission is to amuse, explore, support, innovate, create, educate, celebrate and philanthropate… all in the name of the dog.
  • They not only have a B2B business with pet products but they also have a B2C component with their online store and their innovative flagship store in Portland.
  • Planet Dog just started a major partnership with the Life is good company.
  • They donate 2% of their sales to their foundation – The Planet Dog Foundation. They just passed $1 million in giving to organizations that raise and train therapy dogs, service dogs, search & rescue dogs, bomb sniffing dogs, police dogs and more.

I cannot think of a better fit for the woman and mom I am right now than Planet Dog. I love their mission, their products, their drive, their vision and zest for a fun and full life.

So on Thanksgiving Eve, I am so, so, sooooooooo thankful.
I am thankful for the past 5+ years with a growing, rewarding job.
I am thankful for my wonderful little family and for Emmett who is really forcing me to take a long, hard look at my life and go after what I want and make big and small changes to get it.
And I am thankful for a new, exciting opportunity with a company I can’t wait to help carry to their next level.

So hey, if you want to keep an eye on what I am up to and where I am spending my time – go check out Planet Dog and the Planet Dog Foundation, Like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter and I can’t wait to help them tell you their story.

Apparently Raising a Kid is Like Training a Puppy

Otto in the babys roomThe room is ready, the clothes are washed, the baby showers have been had, the baby books have been read, the hospital bags are packed… now we just wait. So we don’t exactly have a baby yet but all signs seem to be pointing to this – raising a baby is very similar to raising a puppy.

We got Otto at the end of May and I am so glad that we did. Trust me plenty of people told me their opinions about getting a puppy while pregnant. I heard I am crazy, I heard I am a glutton for punishment and one nice person who is in my life almost every day, even told me after the baby I would have to give both my dogs away because I wouldn’t be able to handle all of it… people are neat.

I am so, so glad we got Otto. He has been a reason to laugh, a reason to get out an exercise multiple times a day, an exercise in patience and he has been a surprising gateway to some great conversations with my husband about how our life is going to change.

As we prepare for baby and train the puppy – I can’t help but laugh at how similar one sounds to the other.

First, Adam and I were strongly urged to take baby classes at our hospital to prepare for parenthood. We opted to take two of the classes offered. One class I have renamed ‘How not to Kill the Baby’ class. It covered CPR, first-aid, child proofing your home etc. It started with a quiz about how safe your home was. It was a tough quiz, lots of stumpers and trick questions… we aced it! Our secret? Baby proofing is just like puppy proofing. All the way down to wires, crawling around on your floor to see what they see and even storing and cooking things on the back burners of your stove. Man we are going to be so good at this 🙂

Next, a father I know was telling me about the joys of parenthood and then got into the heartache of it too. He said there was no greater pain that when your child is sick or hurting and they can’t tell you how to fix it.

One life lesson I have learned over the years is parents do not like it when you compare their baby stories to your dog stories so I kept my mouth shut but… I think I have some experience with that pain too. A sick puppy is horrible but going through cancer, amputation, chemo and eventually passing with Brody this year… I think I have some experience in heartbreak when your baby can’t tell you what is wrong.

Diaper Bag DispensersLastly, when this raising a kid is like training a puppy theory really solidified for me was when I saw these ‘Diaper Bag Dispensers‘ – Dude… those are dog poop bags! But in more colors and more expensive! What a sham! And yes, my diaper bag will be filled with dog poop bags and not diaper bags dispensers.

So I think we are pretty good down owners… so I expect we are going to ace this baby thing too! As long as Adam doesn’t come home one day and I have the baby in the dog crate and the puppy in the crib… I think we will be ok!

I may eat my words, I may have more proof when the baby decides to come but for now, it is giving me a false sense of hope that we can do this… and that is enough for me! We will keep you posted.

Lounging with LannaLee – Amanda Pants Style

Oooh I hate attention and interviews and deep thought provoking questions… so when the lovely LannaLee asked to interview me for her weekly podcast, Lounging with Lannalee, I panicked.

I listened to some other people’s interviews with her and they were real, live, interesting people. I am just me. Rob Gould has his colorful past and many adventures in the PR world, Rich Brooks has his cool confidence and a big upcoming event. What the heck would I talk about? I just have my dogs, my job, my med school husband, a human growing inside me and a love for living in Maine… So that is what we talked about – work-life, dogs, Maine etc.

You may have a listen, if you have nothing better to do. If you want to hear from people more interesting than me, you can find more Lounging with LannaLee podcasts on her website.

Puppies are Hard Work!

Otto, Say Hello to the Nice People.

Otto on the rocky beach

Well we have had our new pup, Otto, for a month now so I thought it was about time he was officially introduced. Otto O’Brien is a handsome Hungarian Vizsla that we got from Widdershins Farm in Dover-Foxcroft.

Puppies are the best! They warm your heart, have cute puppy breath, love to snuggle and are absolutely hilarious. My mother always said puppies HAVE to be that cute so that you don’t kill them… she (as usual) is right. Adam and I consider ourselves very good dog owners but a puppy is not a dog. It is a puppy, a baby, a blank slate.

Some things a puppy does not know:

  • Where to go pee… he just knows he has to pee. So he did. Right there. Aren’t you proud of me?!?
  • That the world will not always catch him. Otto will sleep anywhere when he is tired; back of a sofa, under a chair, half off a porch. Someone will always catch him or move him to a safe place right?
  • That the whole world does not revolve around him. If someone doesn’t stop to say how cute he is or to pat him on the street, Otto is VERY confused. ‘Did they not see me?’
  • Bed time vs. play time – it is all Otto time all the time… isn’t it?
  • Not all dogs and cats want to play with him. Coming from a farm with his brothers and sisters and a very understanding cat… Otto doesn’t understand that not everyone wants to play. A snarling pit bull with a muzzle? He probably just needs an Otto hug!
  • The difference between a toy and not a toy. We are fortunate he isn’t in the destroying things phase (yet), toys are just proud things to prance around with. It is all very cute until ‘WAIT! That is my flip flop!’
  • Probably the hardest of them all… a puppy does not know the word ‘NO’. Cute little, sharp puppy teeth clamped onto the tablecloth, a chair, your nose? Saying ‘no’ may warrant a stop and look your way but as of now it does not mean ‘oh they don’t want me to do this’. This is a tough one.

Glad Otto is here

After losing Brody 4 months before, I really was not sure if I was ready for a puppy. Now that Otto is here, I am so thankful he is here when he is here. Adam has a break from school and his time has been invaluable. We were just talking about it yesterday and this time with Otto now is going to make our lives so much better for many years to come. Puppies take a LOT of time. I can’t imagine doing this alone or without Adam’s time off from school. Puppies also bring a lot of joy and fun to our house that I think we were missing after a pretty rough year. This was definitely the right time.

Puppy School is good for puppies and for puppy parents!

I also wanted to take a minute to talk about one of the greatest businesses that we have gotten to know because of little Otto. Brody and Chili were/are wonderful dogs but they were/are spoiled rotten, raised with college kids and ski bums and both (especially Brody) have/had some socialization hiccups (Chili is not a fan of dogs who have had their hair done or that you can put in your purse). With Otto, at this stage in our lives, we wanted him to be as socialized and trained as possible. So we went to the World Wide Web and started doing some homework. We came across the puppy nursery school Dances with Dogs in South Portland. After a little more digging, we found out some of our favorite people and dogs also had gone there or were currently going there.

Julie of Dances with Dogs with OttoOtto goes to Dances with Dogs once a week. Not only do you get the basics of a puppy day care (a tired puppy when you pick him up) but it is a school environment. Julie (right with Otto), the owner/pack-leader, and her husband Mike not only wear out the little buggers physically but they are teaching them and getting their little brains worn out too!

Dances with Dogs is wonderful and being the professional online nerd I am, I have to tell you how well all of Julie’s hard work is executed. Julie uses the internet to show us (the puppy moms and dads) what she does while our pups are with her. Each day your puppy is with Julie, you get an online Puppy Report. they are detailed, funny and sometimes read like a Days of our Lives script (puppy romances, aggression, protecting precious items etc.). You hear how your pup is doing, what they are working on, what they like, things you need to work on at home and so much more. The school’s website is also full of resources and articles for puppy moms and dads.

Julie uses Facebook to keep everyone up to date on what is going on with the school and their pups. She has a Facebook Group and uses her personal page to talk about news, events they have coming up and to share photos of the puppies. She has such a captive audience there. I haven’t seen a post from her yet that doesn’t have at least a dozen people interacting with it.

One of my other favorite parts of Dances with Dogs is Julie is a photographer. She set up a photography site and posts pictures of the puppies and the school regularly. Come on… who doesn’t want to look at puppy pictures all day?!?! On Otto’s first day she had 5 pages of photos of him, which I obviously shared with everyone I know. Genius! Keeping puppy parents in the loop AND marketing herself because all those photos are just going to be passed along!

We are so happy we found Dances with Dogs. It is so great for Otto AND for us. Puppies are a lot of work and you can use all the help you can get! So far this has been an amazing adventure and we are so happy to have little Otto around. I am sure you will be hearing a lot more about him in the future too.

You May Never Be “Ready”

I am a planner. I can even be a bit of a control freak. I like to organize my day, my email, my laundry, my life, my life plan, my goals for the next week/month/year/lifetime… I plan. It is who I am. I want things in the right order. I want things to be done at the right time.

One thing I am learning (well trying to learn) is that sometimes there are things you will just never be ready for. There isn’t the perfect time or setting and then when they happen – you have to make it the perfect time.

I still miss Brody. I can’t even talk about it (or type about it) without crying.
I don’t think I will actually stop missing Brody.
I still sleep with his blanket and I still talk about him in present tense.

I like having two dogs. My husband likes having two dogs.
Chili likes having two dogs. He is a worker and needs someone to boss around.

So when I decided to start looking around for a breeder who had the type of dog I wanted, I still wasn’t ready. I thought it would take a long time to find the right breeder. I had a list of criteria that were really important to be met. Once I found a breeder I liked, I thought I would hear that I would wait a year or two. I was ok with that.

The day before I contacted the breeder, her dog had a litter of 8 pups. Unknown to me, there was one puppy not already spoken for. When I spoke to her and she said the puppies wouldn’t be ready to go home until May 22nd (my birthday), I got goosebumps. Maybe then wasn’t the time but it sure seemed like I was supposed to get this pup… So we ARE getting this pup and the decision was not made lightly.

We have now known for weeks that we were going to go ahead with getting this puppy. I just wasn’t ready to talk about it, except to a few close friends. I have spent time with all of the puppies twice now.

Now has become the right time. It is actually pretty amazing how things have fallen into place. It is also crazy how ready I am for a little puppy power in my life. I can’t wait to bring home that cute, wrinkly, wiggly, shoe eating, floor peeing bundle of brownish/reddish fur.

It may not have been the right time but we are making it the right time. We are excited. I know Adam and I are good dog owners. I know we are responsible people. I know we think things through very thoroughly. I know this will be one of the luckiest dogs in the world.

What I don’t know yet is perhaps how many other things have I not let into my life because I didn’t feel it was the right time. I am thinking about it though. I am not going to start going around making huge impulsive decisions. I am going to try to be a little more open minded about waiting for the ‘right time’ for everything. Life just has to happen sometimes… right?!?

When Should You Buy Skunk Odor Remover For Your Pet?

stinky skunkYou should buy skunk odor remover BEFORE your pet gets sprayed by a skunk.

I have had two of these awful experiences in my life as a adult pet owner and I can attest – pets don’t generally get sprayed during pet store business hours. I have heard great things about Nature’s Miracle Skunk Odor Remover. We now have some in stock for ‘next time’ as much as I wish their wasn’t a ‘next time’.

On a calm Thursday evening, Chili met a skunk in our backyard. We used the trusty baking soda, peroxide and dish soap mixture and it did a decent job. You can read more about our experience and the homemade odor removing mixture on PROXI’s blog.

Homemade works but you should stock up on odor remover just in case!

I Miss My Doggie

I hate it when people begin a blog post by apologizing to readers for not posting in a long time. I think it is annoying so I will spare you. I know I haven’t written anything for about a month and to be honest, the two posts that were published, I actually wrote before Brody died and I had scheduled them to post on their own.

I just passed a month without my best friend and it doesn’t seem to get much easier. As Adam wrote, when I am going through a hard time it can always be fixed with a cuddle date with Brody. Now I am sadder than I can remember and my magic elixir is missing.

I know many people think they are just dogs but they are so much more than that. Brody has been my best friend since I was 20. He was my protector, the ultimate listener and my version of Prozac. There was not a single day that went by that he didn’t make me laugh.

Brody was larger than life and we lived his life to the fullest. It was not easy keeping that dog alive, even before the cancer. Brody had some special needs and an internal compass that was permanently askew. I could tell you Brody stories every day and you would find it hard to believe they were all about the same dog. His judgement wasn’t always the best like the time he jumped down a waterfall, ate a bottle of rug cleaner or approached a large skunk the way you would another dog (he went to go sniff the skunks rear – it ended badly).

Losing this part of your life is more than losing a pet. Your life, your schedule, your buying habits, exercising habits and how you just live your day to day life are around around this animal. You need to relearn how you do everything. With a special needs pup like Brody, my life very much revolved around him.

What I have

I do not have Brody but I know I do have a lot. I have a wonderful husband who has let me grieve in the way I need to. I have wonderful friends and family who have come to see me and let me know that they are thinking about me. I have an understanding boss and coworkers who have given me the space and time that I need to figure this out.

What I also have is the confidence that I did everything I could for my hairy friend. I never knew if when it was time, I would be able to make the decisions I needed to make. I know, I knew and I can sleep knowing I did everything that I could. The day I had to put Brody down, he had been in a lot of pain and a CT scan showed that he had dozens of lesions in his spine and in his ribs. The cancer was back, it was big and there was nothing I could do to fix it.

I have comfort in all the decisions I made along the way. The day Brody shattered his leg in April and we found out about the bone cancer, I made some decisions about what we would do. I took all my clues from Brody on what he wanted and what he was up for. With the amputation and the chemo, we got an extra 10 months and every day it was like he knew it was a gift. There was an actual smile on that dog’s face that didn’t go away until right near the end.

I loved that dog, let’s be honest, I was obsessed with that dog and taking the best care I could of him. He deserved it. Now I have to figure out how to carry on. I will. It will take time. I don’t know how much but I bet it is a lot. I think there will always be places and things I won’t be able to do without thinking of him and those will be little gifts.

Thanks everyone for your patience, your love and your kind words. They are truly appreciated. I will get back into blogging regularly about all the other pieces of life I come across. This is a part of my life and I appreciate that I had you and this blog to share it with.

Thank You Brody

Brody was a lifestyle

This is a guest post from my husband

“I have a dog!” I didn’t appreciate that I had rolled my eyes upon hearing this answer, as I immediately pictured the vast array of purses she must possess as carriage for her ‘mini-dog’, because she followed right up with: “no really, a real dog… he’s BIG, his name’s Brody”… and so the conversation with the beautiful blonde at the concert continued.

As Amanda and I continued dating, this fact was not lost on me and I can still vividly recall the first time I laid eyes on that magnificent mass of muscle. Not to sound cliché, but anyone who met Brody would agree he was seemingly chiseled out of a stone block without a piece of flab to be found or an inch of his frame misused.

As I stood there pondering the various ethical and moral implications of someone mating a Doberman with a Rottweiler, he wasted no time reminding me of whose house I was in, and whose girl I was there with and that she was not meant for sharing. I had decided to make quick work of our introduction and become best friends on the spot, but Brody had other plans and it became quite apparent his trust and respect was to be earned. Luckily there was footage of the encounter:

Brody and I eventually bonded over rough-housing and chasing each other around the house (not allowed), playing in parks off-lease (not allowed) eating food originally intended for humans (not allowed) and playing tug of war (also not allowed).

Brody and AdamWe excelled at getting caught and he would unknowingly toss me under the proverbial ‘bus’ as I often as I tattled on him. As many times as I shared tales of an XL size paw print on the counter, or an empty tissue box that I knew to be full the day before, he would just as swiftly snitch on me as he unwittingly exposed our secrets of food we would share against Amanda’s well-intended wishes. Whether already tucked in for the night or on the opposite end of the house he would bolt up and all 95 pounds would bound through the house en-route (often missing the turn while sliding sideways on hardwood floors) to the kitchen at the slightest hint of cheese slices being opened, a hardboiled egg being cracked or an ice cube tray coming out of the freezer, plowing over anything in his path. Our biggest bust may have been his over-exuberance when the whip cream can came out of the fridge… that would be our last day attempting that feat.

While I may have witnessed it for many years, even I cannot fully appreciate the bond those two had together, and what they each truly meant to each other. From the first day after adoption to their last days here at home Brody remained a source of joy, security, pride and a tremendous source of strength to Amanda, and for this he will never be forgotten. I cannot thank him enough for loyally standing watch over Amanda as she transitioned from a 20 year-old college kid (…with a puppy), to the intelligent and beautiful woman and loving wife we know and love today. Chili and I truly have some big paws to fill.

Brody keeps secretsBrody was everything to Amanda: most loyal companion, good listener, protector, dance partner (4-legged version), co-pilot, singing buddy (little known fun-fact: the word “Brody” is actually incorporated into the lyrics of every song written… ever), cuddle-buddy, trail-guide, shoulder to cry on, a soft pillow after a long day and a daily welcome-home party.

Often the longest part of Brody’s day was the time (what seemed like hours) it took Amanda to reach the top of the stairs after her car came to a rest in the garage signaling her arrival home. I was almost always third in line to get my welcome-home kiss, which was fine as I was usually crowded out of the dog’s waiting spot at the top of the stairs… their tails/nubs wagging wildly.

Having been a dog owner for close to 20 years, I naively thought I could appropriately anticipate life with Brody; after all he is just a dog. Wrong. Brody was anything but your typical dog and the easiest way I can explain living with Brody, was that ‘Brody’ was a lifestyle. His hulk and bulk were hard to ignore but it was the little things we loved about the guy. He would often grunt and growl and play games with himself that we still aren’t sure if he knew he was playing alone? He would spin wildly in place and plop his front paws down like the puppy he was, always with a smile and a wiggle of the nub. Brody’s character permeated everything he did, and it was this goofball character that made his transition to a tripawd so easy for both himself and his mother.

In the coming weeks we will be tasked with deciding Brody’s final resting place. One would assume we would choose his favorite spot, but he has so many to choose from as he truly loved everything and everywhere. Running in the waves along the sands of Ferry Beach (favorite), chasing turkeys and squirrels at my parents’ house (favorite), swimming for tennis balls while swimming upright like a seahorse at Little Sebago (favorite), or bounding over bridges and tree roots while giving chase to Chili through the Fore River Sanctuary (also favorite).

Brody on the boatIf we asked him, I think Brody may have settled on the same answer his mother would: Peaks Island. With as big of a smile a dog could muster, the pair would always enjoy a crossing on the bow of the ferry, with that massive head poking out through the gate, doing his best to consume all of the salt air and scenery he could. I already miss these trips. He truly loved each lap of that island (especially with Stan in Trees – the truck), each trip to Centennial beach and each stay with his loving grandparents who I know are sharing this aching with us.

Amanda is in pain right now; there is a hole in her heart I cannot fill right now and a hurt I can only hope will soften with time… as the only one who could make it all better is now gone.

Thank you Brody for a lifetime of memories.

Brody Burrito

Please Meet Me at the Door

Sleepy BrodyPlease meet me at the door.
Please, I’ll do anything.

This is my new mantra every time I drive towards my house. I repeat it. I beg. I cry. I park the car holding my breath and I walk in the door full of wishes and promises to do anything to have Brody meet me at the top of the stairs.

I have heard that knowing your dog is sick matters less about their food consumption, less about their energy level and more on that one moment when you come home – are they greeting you at the front door? It has been about two weeks and only once or twice (yesterday was one of them) have my prayers been answered and there has been a wiggly nub waiting for me as I walk through the doorway.

Brody is hurt and we can’t find the pain. We have had x-rays, we have had blood work, we have had an ultrasound, we have tested for lyme and he passes every medical test. It isn’t the cancer, it isn’t the solo hind leg, it isn’t an infection and it isn’t lyme. I am out of money – let’s face it… I am beyond the point of out of money. We have him on 3 pain killers and have him on the oral chemo. He eats, drinks and goes to the bathroom just fine but he hurts and I hurt too.

I haven’t slept in my bed with my wonderful husband in about two weeks. I sleep on the schedule of a new mother – I sleep when my baby sleeps and that is a sporadic schedule. We have more appointments that I cannot afford next week. Until then I keep him comfortable, we snuggle, I operate day to day on autopilot and I hope, pray, and make deals with higher powers for some sign of recovery.

I have invested most of my wishes on that wiggly nub at the top of the stairs, greeting me at the door when I come home – that will be my sign.