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Lessons from The Jackson

I love my dog.

If you cannot appreciate a dog or are confused by people who love their dogs, just quit reading now.

My dog is one of my best friends, and, since Sam travels for work, is my most constant companion.

My dog is sweet and loving and warm and goofy and chill and smart and clumsy and neurotic and mischievous and lazy and demanding and playful and active and adorable and precious and tolerant and patient and snuggly and attached and pretty much just awesome!

Here are some of the many lessons I have learned from Jack:

  • There is no point wasting time being uncomfortable.

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  • Be friendly to everyone, even if you are skeptical of them at first.
  • Keeping yourself well-groomed is time well-spent.
  • Always get your beauty sleep.

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  • Be patient & forgiving.
  • Give kisses freely.
  • Be loyal & protective.

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  • A good treat is worth earning.
  • Take time to play.
  • Love fully & unabashedly.

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  • Appreciate the simple things in life: a new toy or rediscovering an old one, a good meal (soft food, in his case), a patch of sunlight,  a good nap, a romp outdoors, and spending time with your favorite people.

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I hope Jackson brightened your day as he always does mine!  I know we won’t always have him, no matter how hard we wish we could, but even then, he will always be our first baby… our Jackson.

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Diary of an International Puppy Move

We have made it to the UK!  We moved here for my husbands job, and today, we shall discuss how much fun it was getting our beloved pooch over with us.  Yes, you may read heavy sarcasm into the word “fun.”  I tried to snap shots with my phone of the actual move process, so you could see how it went.

First of all, isn’t he just so cute?!  How could we not do everything in our abilities to take this sweet face with us?  We had a decent amount of head’s up that the move was coming & started working through Defra’s Pet Travel Scheme early.  The regulations actually just loosened at the beginning of this year: only 21 days as compared to 6 months wait, no longer requiring the FAVN test; even so, it is still a complicated process. To simplify it: Step 1. Microchip your pup (& make sure it is an international standard chip – Jack had a chip already, but it wasn’t the right kind, so now he has 2 – double-oh-chip is double-safe 🙂 pardon the run on in the parentheses); Step 2. Rabies vaccination – the voice of experience reminds you to please have your vet note the maker of med, med name, & serial number on the vac certificate as well as listing said proper microchip number there as well; Step 3. Documentation – a health certificate must be completed within 10 days of travel by an official vet – I bold “official” because we found out a little on the late side that that meant a USDA vet had to clear it & stamp it off as well as whichever vet you get to fill it out. Luckily, our USDA vet was very helpful & made sure everything was completed correctly. Step 4. Tapeworm treatment given between 24-120 hours prior to arrival in the UK; Step 5. traveling on an approved route.

Can you see why this has been so “fun”?  That’s just what you have to do to make sure your pet is allowed into the country without a 6-month quarantine.  Most of our fun on the actual move came from the different stages of air travel we took to get there. So, here we go:

First, locate a pet-friendly hotel at which to stay. We visited family before we left, & our hometown isn’t exactly a big one. We got dropped of in St. Louis, MO to rest our heads before our first day of travel.  At this point, we have booked our flights, domestic & international, making sure to space them out & get straight shots only so as to avoid breaching the rules for max amount of time in the kennel for the pup.  Also, we’ve been wading through the rigorous requirements for the international flight, such as ensuring the proper kennel size, bringing the right things to go with the dog, & completing pre-customs preparation via fax.

Make sure the hotel has a shuttle that is big enough to hold said kennel.  Jack is not small, and we purchased what is advertised as an extra-large kennel for him. It’s not small.  They had to bust out this shuttle bus because the 15-passenger van-shuttle was not going to cut it.

We arrive at the airport, load up our multitudinous baggage & the kennel on a cart, and roll up to the counter like some kind of traveling circus.  The first thing someone says to us is “oh, that kennel is too big!”  Helpful hint to airline people: do not greet your customer with any statement like “oh, that’s not going to work,” especially when your customer is a dog-parent that has spent months trying to prepare for this, repeatedly asked your phone representatives questions regarding the logistics of this & clarifying that this would work, and is hanging on her last shred of sanity.  I was this close to laying down right there and running through the deep breathing exercises that my sister, Counselor Kayla, had me going through at home when planning was getting dicey, even though it probably would have looked more like hyperventilating & they mostly likely would not have let me fly after that, realizing that I was obviously unstable.

See, I am not laying on the ground! Anyway, the extra-large kennel was not going to fit in the M-whatever plane. They tried to find us a smaller one around the airport, as apparently they normally have a few around, to no avail. Off goes the hubs to save the day by taxiing to WalMart to buy us a large.  Jack got lots of visitors while we waited & did exceptionally well at staying calm – much better than myself, I’m ashamed to admit.

The difference you see here caused 3 hours of work, stress, & a bump to a later flight.  It’s a good thing we always show up so early.  We broke down the XL & checked it because we still needed it for the international flight.

Here he is, all ready to go on his first flight! He did ok, I guess.  We heard him barking indignantly when we walked away, leaving him with the gentleman from TSA.  You can pretty much tell exactly what he is meaning to say: “excuse me! you are leaving me here! hey guys! you forgot me! I’m back here in the cage!”  The voice starts slightly alarmed & quickly proceeds to frantic.  We landed at JFK & headed down to baggage claim, being informed that he would be brought out there.  We heard him barking before they raised the 4-foot, silver, mini-garage door and unceremoniously shoved the kennel out of it, slamming the door behind.  Needless to say, he was slightly traumatized.  Sam took him straight outside to walk it off, while I flagged down someone to help me with all our junk & point me in the direction of the car rentals.

We spent a pretty penny renting this little beauty not only to tote Jack & all our stuff around in, but also because we wanted to make a mini-vacay out of our 36hour stint in NYC.  We needed the means to get out & see the city while we could.  Luckily, the hubs is completely capable of driving a vehicle this size through the confusing mess that is NYC traffic; if you couldn’t guess, I am not.  Also, to note, finding a pet-friendly hotel around JFK was a little trickier.

We walked around that afternoon & the next morning to help wear Jack out before his next flight and to enjoy the NYC experience as you see. At the recommended 4-hours prior to departure, we rolled up to British Airways Cargo drop-off to send the baby to England.  There I am with Jack & all of his accompanying stuff, when the guy I need to talk to finally shows up & blurts “that kennel is too small for that dog!”

Let’s clarify that the kennel he’s referring to is the XL, the one we chose after meticulously following there 2-page handout about how to pick the right kennel based on measuring your dog.  As I stare blankly & I’m sure a bit incredulously at him, he continues to repeat: “that dog can’t go in that kennel, it is too small for him” at me. If you watch Modern Family, you will know what I’m referencing when I say that all I could get myself to do was put on a smile that was creepy like the smile Claire kept doing in the last episode, a not happy smile but for some reason my face has decided to do this, while I said “could you just wait & talk to my husband when he comes in from grabbing something from the car?”  I think it was all I could do to not go postal right then & there. I might have even been twitching.

So, we establish that Jack needs the GIANT kennel since he needs a certain amount of head clearance & is so tall.  Turns out, I’m an idiot (no big surprise there) & read the dimensions of the kennel in the wrong order – dad, maybe it still would be a good idea to get me that “Undercover Blonde” bumper sticker, or maybe we should go with a pin that I would wear everyday & people would know that they really are dealing with an airhead in disguise.

Anyway, here we are again, waiting & worrying, as Sam runs around trying to fix things. He finally finds a giant kennel, which not everyone stocks & is advertised as “St Bernard size,” only to realize that it didn’t have holes in the back. Ventilation on 4-sides is another kennel requirement. I’m talking to Sam on the phone during the revelation, and he yells, “there’s a sears. I’m buying a drill” & hangs up.  Now we are both questionably insane.  Sam busts in the cargo waiting room shortly thereafter & literally starts cranking holes into the back of this thing with a drill, causing a lot of noise & mess, but taking care of business nonetheless.

After that, we squared away the remaining details/paperwork & loaded him up just in time to get him on his scheduled flight. They put live animal stickers all over it. We filled his rabbit-like water bottle, gave him some food & a treat, attached more food & his collar/leash to the top, & fussed over his bedding. Here he was before we said one last goodbye & took ourselves to the airport.

When we landed at Heathrow, our sponsor was there to pick us up & drove us to the nearby Animal Reception Center. After Sam pulled on the door a bit & we pondered why it was locked, a gent opened the door & let us know that we should push. The next door really was locked though,  despite the big sign saying use buzzer, we tried it anyway.  We are quite brilliant. So, the ARC worker told us Jack was there & out of his kennel, but the cargo company guy needed to come down & talk to us about some paperwork.  He came down to say that Defra was in a tizzy because the brand name of rabies vac hadn’t been listed & they had to have it to release Jack. Geez, why didn’t you say that specifically anywhere on your website about requirements!  We had to wait at least an hour for the vet in Corpus to open, then wait around 5 more hours for Defra to communicate what they needed, the vet to understand & find it, and the vet to get that info back to Defra. It took for-e-ver. I had plenty of time to be patient, get hungry, get food at nearby services (gas station, or petrol as it were), take a nap, & waking up steaming mad. We finally got everything sorted, & the ARC ladies let us know that Jack had already had tea… he’d been fed apparently.  The reception center seemed to take good care of him because he wasn’t crazy, on-the-edge Jack that had come out in the kennel at JFK. He was normal, excited-to-see-us Jack that came out on his leash for greetings.

That’s the story of how Jack is now legally allowed here on UK soil.

A Lack of Attention to Detail

When your head is all a jumble and things fall through the cracks, you aren’t the only one who suffers. My head has been quite a jumble lately from a combination of too little intellectual stimulation and to much extraneous stimuli – a.k.a. not working or having a set schedule and having a lot of random things going on in the periphery. It is not uncommon for me to do dumb stuff, but absent-minded has not previously been my M.O. Lately, it seems to be my defining quality. The unfortunate incidental sufferer this week has been sweet pup. Now, as you can see, I did not slack off in purchasing cold-weather protection which he hasn’t quite warmed to (you should know by now that I will never slack off when it comes to purchasing), but two of my shining detail-oblivious moments this week involved him.

The lesser but still ridiculous of the two happened yesterday. Sam and I are sitting at the dining table working on different things, and Jack is whining. He had been to the dog park earlier that day, and Sam had just taken him out for a short walk/potty. He has food & water, so the only thing we can assume is that he’s just being a punk. He can be pretty clingy and isn’t fond of us sitting in chairs that don’t have space for him to sit too, but surely he can entertain himself for a few minutes. The whining gets to the point of ridiculous, so I finally get up and go over to him. What can possibly be so wrong?! That’s when I realize one of the tags on his collar somehow got tangled with the rug and he’s stuck to it. The poor thing couldn’t do anything but sit there until we finally payed attention to what was going on. What a couple of jerks! At least Sam was with me on that one.

The largest of the weeks mishaps took place on Friday. I had been to boot camp and came home to quickly get cleaned up for a Christmas party the girls in boot camp were having that I had just found out about. The plan was to do a quick walk/run with Jack in the immediate neighborhood then get ready for the party. The other thing you need to know is that apparently our door knob lock will remain locked after being unlocked with a key until you manually turn it to its very specific happy place of unlockedness. I throw down my purse, snatch up Jack’s leash, & we are out the door. Before we get to the driveway, I realize we are out of potty bags, so I back-track to grab a refill. You guessed it, the door is locked. All of the doors are locked, and I am phone, key, & ID-less. So, poor Jack had to spend an hour outside with me in 35° cold. Absolutely brilliant, Kim!

Disclaimer: our dog is very loved & spoiled (ask anyone), so please don’t look at these two isolated incidents and think us un-fit puppy parents. We do our best, which is all anyone can do.

To sign it off, just remember, wake up to your life & pay attention. You never know what you could be missing!

My dog would survive the Great Depression

You will undoubtably be hearing plenty about my sweet puppy, Jackson. He is a joyous mess that I love having in my life. He is my fur-child – don’t judge.
I have decided that if the second Great Depression should occur I will be taking tips from Jack.
Here’s the story: I am in the kitchen, and Jack is in the adjoining utility room, eating. He starts whining…a lot. Now Jack is a pretty communicative pup, so I’m not too worried; however, he makes enough ruckus that Sam comes from the living room to check it out. He can’t figure out what the issue is. Jack has food & water and nothing appears amiss in the whole room. Finally, somehow, Sam finds that there is a single, tiny piece of food stuck behind Jack’s bowls where he couldn’t reach it. When he moves the bowls, Jack scarfs up the wandering morsel and returns to the remainder of his food. How frugal! This dog will not be sparing a single nugget of  nutrition. My waste not, want not little sweet.
Speaking of Jack’s eating quirks, I am typing this post from the floor of the utility room, leaning against the washer. Sigh. Jack’s bowls were kept in the kitchen in our last place, but here, there is more room in the utility area for his bowls and food tub. We have noticed that he likes to eat when we do but didn’t realize it was more of a necessity than preference.  Necessity apparently it is.  As I’m typing, I hear whining and even some light barks from the utility room.  I think “oh, he’s dropped a piece” and go to help him retrieve it.  Alas, no wayward pieces; he just looks at me, confirms I am present, and starts to eat.  The velcro Viszla strikes again. 
There you have it; Jackson: economical, social, high-maintenance…and we are just scratching the surface.