The Cone of Shame

Monty is in the cone of shame. We’re not quite sure what happened but last weekend he had an irritated scrotum and was licking it a lot. I think it was getting better but then he went to the groomer on Wednesday and that set him off again. Over the weekend he seemed very unhappy and kept lying down on the tiles in the hallway (which he’d never done before) as if the carpet in the other rooms was irritating him. So we went to the vet on Monday and she’s given us a cone and various creams. She thinks he probably originally irritated it on a plant like ivy or brambles and if he’d just stop licking it for a few days it would get better. Unfortunately, licking his genitalia is one of his favourite hobbies, even when it’s not irritated.

I didn’t know this but the cones absolutely traumatise some dogs, including Monty. They just completely shut down and sit there looking sad. Yesterday afternoon he was refusing to eat, drink, toilet, everything. He just sat there. We ended up taking it off for a while to get him to do those things. And then it took him until 5 o clock this morning to work out he could go to sleep while wearing it. He literally sat upright all night until he eventually collapsed in exhaustion. Anyway he seems happier in it today, and in theory we can take it off tomorrow. We’ve had it off twice for about an hour each time today and he hasn’t been trying to lick much at all, so that’s promising.

In other news, at work, apparently our second in command has left. And I know this because LinkedIn told me he’s started another job. If I worked somewhere with hundreds of employees I could understand someone leaving without me knowing, but we actually have.. let’s count… 9 employees! So, great communication there. I assumed that he would be taking over running the company day to day when the MD retires (he’s in his 70s), so this seems like a bad sign.

I like sleeping

Monty is being quite difficult at night now. It started last Sunday, i.e. when we changed the clocks. Probably changing the clocks upset his routine, which we didn’t really consider at the time. He was settling down in his pen in the living room at night, but now he seems very stressed at being left in the pen. So we tried letting him sleep out of the pen, and it’s a bit hit and miss. Sometimes he settles on the sofa, other times he seems restless and paces around a lot and goes behind the curtains and looks out of the window. I think he doesn’t really feel safe at night on his own, which is strange because he’s always been happy at night up til now and he’s happy to nap in there on his own during the day time.

Apparently adolescent dogs can go through something called a fear period where they just seem to suddenly get scared by things they never used to, so maybe that’s it. Some people say you should just put them in a crate/pen and let them cry it out, but it seems so mean and counter-productive. We tried that for about an hour and when we went down he was genuinely very stressed and took a few hours to calm down. It’s not that he’s being naughty, it’s that the little guy has his own needs and for whatever reason he’s actually upset! So over the past week we’ve had three nights between us of sleeping on the sofa with him. Which isn’t ideal.

So anyway… I think he’s going to be sleeping in my room soon. I just hope he can behave and not start chewing my bed sheets 🙄

This is the expression of a dog who can’t understand why you interrupted his tasty grass meal to try to get him to pose for a photo
Apparently sleeping in this position, on his back with his stomach exposed (kind of), means he’s happy and feels secure

COVID and stuff

I don’t really get the apparent push that COVID is alright now and we just need to go back to normal and it’ll be fine. My boss’s dad died of COVID this week. It’s strange to see the contrast between people saying that it’s harmless and someone one degree removed from me dying from it. It looks like the push to open up again is coming from Boris Johnson trying to placate backbenchers to distract away from the ongoing disaster that is himself.

And on the topic of Boris, then there’s the National Insurance increase. I’m kind of annoyed about this if I’m honest. I don’t feel that the quality of services we get in the UK for our level of tax burden is a good deal. The NHS in particular worries me a lot since COVID. When I last needed a GP appointment, I had to wait about 30-45 minutes on the phone to speak to a receptionist and then the best they could give me was a telephone appointment a month later. It’s not so much a big thing for me personally, but my parents are getting older and it worries me that they will be deterred from seeking medical services should they need it. But overall it’s just a horrible policy that takes money from people who don’t vote Conservative (i.e. working aged people) while shielding those who do (i.e. pensioners).

Anyway… It prompted me to do some sums. I pay into a personal pension and a workplace pension. The workplace pension is salary sacrifice, but the personal pension is a better fund with lower fees. Obviously I get income tax relief on both, but the workplace pension is salary sacrifice so I also pay less NI as my taxable income is lower. It turns out that if I took all the money I put each month into my personal pension and instead paid it through my workplace pension, I would pay quite a bit less NI after the increase than I do now. And I can transfer it every so often into the private pension where the fees are lower. I hadn’t ever thought about doing this before. So… thanks, Boris?

In other news, it’s been a strange few weeks as Monty hasn’t been very well. Not last week but the week before, he woke up from his nap Tuesday morning and threw up. He looked unwell for a couple of hours and then perked up and seemed fine, until Thursday evening when he started vomiting again and had diarrhoea. I always knew that having a dog would involve it sometimes, but ideally you want this kind of thing in the morning so you don’t end up wandering around the garden multiple times during the night while your dog empties himself at both ends. We took him to the vet Friday morning but by the afternoon he seemed quite happy again… until Monday evening when we pretty much had a repeat of Thursday night. But he’s been OK since then and seems back to his lively self, so hopefully he’s got rid of it! According to my mum there was a post on the local Facebook group about such a bug going around and a few people noted the on and off nature of it, so I think he just picked something up. He’s only six months old so I guess you have to expect this kind of thing until his immune system is a bit more experienced. Plus, this is a dog who enjoys splashing in his water bowl with his muddy paws before deciding he’s thirsty and starts to drink the now brown water. He’s not really big on hygiene.

Hopefully we’ll be OK from now on… I have been quite worried about him at times. We’ve only had him four months but it seems like an eternity now. It feels like you very quickly develop an unconditional love for him. Maybe it helps that he’s so cute 🤫

MONTY!

Monty went to the groomer again today. He’s had a proper clip! He’s gone from being such a fluffy boy to looking just like his mum, the last time we saw her! I’m kind of sad he’s not as fluffy but it was nice to see him and think “wow, he looks just like his mum!”.

Before and after. He’s all velvety now.

I feel like he has regressed a bit recently though. Over Christmas we took him to the park every day and he was pretty much completely crazy every time we went. But after almost two weeks of that we managed to get him walking quite nicely on the lead (loose lead walking) about half of the time. Obviously, when he sees another dog or someone comes and makes a fuss of him it all goes wrong, but he’s walking a lot better most of the time in general.

But in terms of his behaviour around the house, he seems to have gone backwards a bit. He’s getting the zoomies a lot and nipping more than he used to. Some of it was definitely teething and it was obvious his mouth was hurting, but I think he’s finished with that now and he’s still quite nippy and zoomy. I can always tell when we’re about 3 seconds away from zoomies because he’ll just suddenly stare at your feet and move his head with them as you walk around. This is always a bad sign because it means he’s thinking “wow, those look fun to bite”. I think it’s his working dog instincts that makes him want to chase things that move and when he’s overexcited he can’t resist the urge. So once he’s focused on your feet, it means he’s a few seconds away from lunging at them, possibly biting them, then running away grunting, growling and/or barking as he does laps around the living room at full speed.

I suppose that progress isn’t linear and cockapoos are particularly excitable and energetic dogs, and he is still only 5 and a bit months old.

However, I ❤️ him lots.

Almost Christmas!

Sadly this year we can’t really have much in the way of Christmas decoration because Monty would eat them, but it is almost Christmas and I’ll be really glad to get some time off work.

I was playing with Monty a few nights ago and he bit my finger. Well, he jumped to get a toy I was holding and caught the bit of skin right next to the nail with his tooth. It wasn’t an intentional bite but it hurt and started bleeding so I went upstairs to put a plaster on it. I was standing in front of the sink putting the plaster on when I started to feel light headed, and the next thing I knew I was waking up on the floor. I can’t believe a tiny little cut made me faint. It wasn’t even still bleeding by the time I’d rinsed it and got the plaster out! Anyway I’m taking a more zero tolerance approach to his jumping now. If I have a toy, he has to sit before he can have it. I started letting him play more roughly with a lot of tug and throwing/chasing his toys in the living room because it seemed like he needed it to burn off his energy but it only works if he doesn’t bite me!

He has discovered how to jump to get onto the furniture. It used to be that he’d go up to a chair and put his front paws on it while trying to push with his back legs and kind of pull himself onto it, which didn’t work at all. He’s now discovered that he can actually just jump straight up in one go, and now there’s no stopping him. We didn’t really want him on the furniture, but when you leave him alone for a minute and come back into the room to find him sitting in your chair looking like he owns the place, what can you do?

(We have to cut the ears off all of his toys eventually to stop him from swallowing them. Mrs Elephant looks a bit sad now but he still seems to like her. When he’s tired he just lays there holding her in his mouth)

Here’s a picture from the puppy meet. Monty is the fluffy boy in the top right with the red harness. His mum is in the bottom left with the red collar. Notice how they are the same size as their mum already! The other three black dogs are his littermates. The white dog is a westiepoo (westie x poodle) who belongs to one of the other owners, and the other dog is a Rottweiler puppy who belongs to the breeder.

He looks like a fully grown little dog now. Or a little bear, the way he pads around the house. His behaviour is still very inconsistent though. He is teething at the moment so that may account for some of the craziness. We had a day last week where he’d seemed a bit unsettled all day, and then in the evening one of his baby teeth fell out while he was chewing on a toy. He’s usually very good at settling down and sleeping through the night, but that night I had to sleep downstairs with him because he started crying every time we would leave him. He’s a funny little guy. I guess that his gums were hurting and he wanted the comfort of knowing his caregiver was near. I kind of liked waking up in the night and being able to see him.

Socialization

Tomorrow is the puppy meet up so Monty can meet his brothers and his mum again. I didn’t really want to go but it’s good for his socialization (and probably mine too). I guess that’s being a dog parent. There will be his four brothers, his mum, the breeder’s new puppy (apparently she missed them after she gave them away and bought one of her own!) and one of his brothers’ owners has another dog too, which I think is a westie.

I don’t know what Monty will think to it all. Despite being completely crazy he’s actually quite shy with other dogs. He obviously wants to go up to them and play with them but when he gets close he often runs and hides behind my legs and takes a while to actually go up to them. Though we did meet a cavapoo puppy (very similar) around his age a week or two ago and he loved playing with him, so maybe it’s more that he’s shy with adult dogs.

Rare photo of Monty sitting still

Anyway the only negatives are that I have to miss parkrun and also that the park we’re meeting in is literally directly across the road from my old boss’s house. I hope we don’t see him 😕

Groom

He went to the groomers yesterday, for the first time. I think he’s feeling cute.

He went in looking a bit shaggy, and he came out looking like a giant bundle of fluff. She’s trimmed the hair on his face but left the length the same on the top of his head, so combined with the blow dry he ended up looking very 80s for a while. She also trimmed the fur around his paws so he looks kind of like he’s trotting around on tip toes. It’s not exactly what I was expecting… But he does look cute!

I don’t think I ever posted an update on my standing desk. I’ve been trying to keep a routine in my work day, which starts off with a run and then shower and breakfast, then a few hours standing at my desk. I like to stand first thing because I’m trying not to let things seize up after running. Then I try to stand again for a while after lunch and for the last part of the day. The non standing periods are sitting in the living room with my laptop to keep an eye on Monty, sat at the desk, or lying on my bed with my laptop depending on how tired I am.

The main things I found are:

  1. It didn’t really help my hip at all, but I worked out that my hip feels a lot better if I stretch my hamstrings. If I feel that annoying ache in my hip then usually a few minutes of hamstring stretching sorts it out. This seems slightly bizarre since the hamstrings are at the back and the ache was at the front and almost into my stomach, but anyway, that’s how it is.
  2. Standing is really tiring! At least to start with, I was feeling a lot more tired and hungry.
  3. Standing makes your bowels more active 😳

Life updates

I haven’t written here for too long. It’s the usual update – dog takes up all my time and energy, when he’s asleep I go to sleep too. Well, sometimes.

I’ve had the week off this week and have been spending a lot of time with him. He is amazing and I love him. He’s also a total pain who wants to run around and jump at me all the time, and my hands are covered in little scratches and tooth marks, but that’s OK and we’re working on it. He’s such a lovely little dog when he’s just padding around the house. He looks like a little bear.

He hasn’t enjoyed the fireworks. He’s OK with them when he’s inside, but getting him outside is difficult, which interferes with his toileting (as he’s very reluctant to go inside the house now – shouldn’t complain, but it’s not ideal for him to hold it). We’ve had fireworks every night for four nights in a row now, which I think is quite ridiculous and I really wish we could ban firework sales to individuals.

In other news… I have a stomach upset 🤔 Again! I think it might be spaghetti carbonara. I stopped eating spaghetti bolognese because the sauce is too much for my stomach (all the acid from the tomatoes, probably) and switched to carbonara thinking it would be better, but this is the second time I’ve had an upset stomach after eating it, so maybe not. It’s not as bad as last time, but I saw the signs and switched to an extremely boring chicken + rice diet (like my dog!) so that may have softened the blow.

So I’m back at work next week. Work annoyed me last week. My manager asked me to create some fake data in the system to display some charts for a demo. So I did. Then on Thursday morning the managing director called me into a meeting to complain that it wasn’t what he’d asked for. The problem was that he had created this data with no thought to how it would actually look when plugged into our charting system. What he actually wanted were completely different charts, but that is not what I was asked to do, nor was it realistic for the timeframe. He didn’t even tell my manager that he’d called me. I don’t deal with the managing director much, but when I do I always come away with a bad impression of him. So in some ways I’m not looking forward to work again tomorrow, but in other ways I feel like I have more important things (dog) in my life to worry about instead. It’s just a job.

Doggies

I never realised that having a puppy would be so much work. You see well behaved dogs out for walks, trotting alongside their owners with perfect behaviour. You don’t see all the training that goes into making a dog walk on a lead without attacking it. Or when they decide that what they really want to do is flip their water bowl upside down, while still full of water. Or the hours spent walking in circles around the garden while he searches for the perfect place to poo, because apparently it’s extremely important that you sniff the entire garden four times before deciding, except you also have a really short attention span so you might get distracted by a really tasty looking piece of grass along the way and then have to start over.

He always looks so calm and well behaved in photos. Trust me, he’s not.

He had his second round of vaccinations on Friday, so next weekend we can start taking him out. Chunky boy here now weighs 4.6kg, which is up from 3.9 only a couple of weeks ago. The vet didn’t seem concerned anyway, but I’m not sure if we’re overfeeding him… The breeder (or more likely, her young daughter) nicknamed him “Mr Chonk” because he was the biggest of the litter. But once we can take him out for walks he’ll be burning off more calories.

I don’t know how you tell if a dog is fat. For one thing he’s a crossbreed, so there’s a lot of randomness as to exactly what his genetics are so he doesn’t have a known ideal ‘shape’, and for another, most of what you see is fur.

We gave him the second dose of a ‘deworming’ tablet today. We did the first dose two weeks ago, and it made him completely crazy. He took it at about 11 in the morning and spent all afternoon totally hyperactive, barking, growling and generally worrying us because he seemed agitated and wouldn’t settle. We googled it and apparently it’s not a medically recognised side effect but plenty of people on forums talk about it. Others say it can’t possibly be the tablet because it’s not a known side effect. After having the second dose today, he was exactly the same again. So, yep, it’s the tablet. He’s supposed to have it done again in two weeks but we’ll have to ask to use a different medicine.

Day 4

Is it only day 4? All the days merge together now.

I think I’ve just accepted that I’m not going to sleep past 5AM for a while. We tried leaving the little pupper alone last night, for the first time, and he started howling at 5. We agreed that we would leave him til 6 in an effort to get his schedule a bit more aligned to ours, but by then he was really distressed and his stomach was gurgling loudly. He seemed a lot happier after we took him out for a toilet break, so I think really we just need to do that when he starts howling. Even if he’s just howling because he’s scared being on his own in the dark, letting him stay scared is just going to upset his stomach. At least, that’s how mine works! It’s a weird world for him. He’s entirely dependent on people who go through a door and disappear for hours. He hasn’t seen upstairs yet. He doesn’t know we’re only a few metres away.

He’s doing better with the toileting. He’s still peeing inside a lot but he hasn’t pooed inside since the first day. He’s a clever little dog. I’m amazed how quickly he learns things. I’ve taught him to “Sit”, and I’ve also taught him to stop howling and sit by the door of his pen before we let him out. He’s also learnt that when I hold my fist in front of him, he should boop it with his nose. I’m currently trying to teach him “Drop”, which seems important given that he puts everything in his mouth. On day two he ate a piece of gravel from the garden, which I hadn’t expected at all. Apparently puppies eating stones is not uncommon and usually they just pass them, but obviously it’s potentially dangerous so you don’t want them doing it. They also eat grass… In fact he seems to want to eat grass more than his actual meals.

The other problem at the moment is that he gets the zoomies. Which means that he’s playing quite happily with his toys one minute, then the next he’s rushing full speed up and down the room jumping up and down. It’s hilarious actually, but the problem is that this is when he starts getting bity and aggressive. His bites haven’t actually hurt yet but that’s something we need to stop. All puppies bite a little because their mouth is primarily how they interact with the world, they just learn not to do it by the reactions they get from their victims. He’s like two dogs in one. When he’s calm he’s lovely, but when he’s got the zoomies he’s like a possessed shark. It seems to happen when you think he should be tired… I guess he gets tired and grumpy and doesn’t really understand that when he feels like that he should go to sleep. He’s only a baby really.

Today we took him out for the first time in a carrier. Puppies need two rounds of vaccinations before it’s safe to let them walk around on the ground in public, and they tend to be 12-13 weeks old at that stage. Until then you need to both protect them from the outside world, but also introduce them to it as it’s an important part of their development. He seemed completely unfazed by being taken out, which was surprising. He just sat in the carrier quite contentedly (trying to chew the strap). This is the same dog who yesterday got scared and refused to go to the toilet because it was raining… and then got even more scared when I put an umbrella up.