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In addition to not understanding basic concepts like moving, dogs do not understand pacing. Yesterday we were graced with perfect, sunny, 65 degree weather. Jared was home and, while we’re both still recovering from the plague, we got lots of sleep and were highly motivated to spend some time outdoors. So, off to the dog park we went.

Within seconds of pulling into the parking lot, the dogs turned into whimpering, whizzing little fuzzballs, fur on end with excitement. “Oh my god, mom! Dad! MOOOOOM! There’s another dog! He’s peeing! PEEING!!! Let me out let me out let me out let me oooouuuuuut!”

So we let them out, and WHOOSH! They were off. And to think that, once upon a time, we thought Hollie might not be able to run.

Who's a gimp? Not this dog.

More than one paw on the ground is obviously overkill.

We got their attention again, however, with the Chuckit, which is definitely one of the best dog toys we own.

Rudi's running ability was never in question. ZOOM!

There was running and jumping and barking and panting and playing … for about half an hour.

Oh, Hollie. You'll never catch up, but it's cute that you try.

And then, they both crashed in a nice, cool, shady patch of dirt. You know, like dogs do. It would’ve been swell to hang out for a couple more hours, but shoot, I had almost 100 photos to edit just from the time we did spend there (I blame the fancy new zoom lens Jared got me for Christmas), so maybe the shorter visit was for the best.

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The last few days have been a whirlwind of exciting things, and I want to go into detail on all of it, but the whirlwind won’t stop for blogging, apparently, so I’m just going to have to stick with the highlights for now.

First things first — I got a new camera! (Take that, number 33!) This was not a rash decision by any means. We’d saved up gift cards, and done research, and finally, this weekend, I realized there were a number of things I really wanted a Big Girl Camera for on the horizon, and, well, why not just do it now? And, to top things off, a nice guy at Best Buy gave me his 10% off coupon to use, out of the blue. I wasn’t even showing (much) cleavage!

I’ve quickly learned that the curse of owning a really nice camera is that you tend to photograph everything, and, well, I have so many pictures that it’s almost impossible to edit down to a few of the best. So, I’m saying screw the best, and I’m just going to show a couple of favorites. And you’ll like it. (Well, I hope you’ll like it, anyway!)

We went to St. Pete Beach with the dogs. I won a slogan contest at I Love Dog Friendly, and the prize was two nights at a pet-friendly hotel. We chose the Tradewinds Island Grand because, for one thing, it’s a gorgeous property, and it’s near where we got married, and my parents were spending a week in the area, so we thought it would be fun to hang out with them for a couple of nights. AND IT WAS.

The hotel was great — we particularly liked the little fenced in play area and the doggie room service.

island grand welcome

A warm welcome and gorgeous view.

ball fire hydrant

Classic Hollie. No interest in the fire hydrant or ball. Just hunting lizards.

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A few months ago, when I was in Austin staying with Susan and Chris, I borrowed Susan’s copy of The Happiness Project. I only got about 1/3 of the way through it before I had to give it back, but it tweaked my perspective. If I want to be happier, I don’t necessarily need to make a bunch of major changes, but I do need to make small, daily changes that make my life the life I want to live.

Little things like keeping my desk tidy really improve my mood, but you know what else works? Making a point to recognize the things that make me happy. I’ve been doing that, but I figured, if it works this well when I just acknowledge these things (both little and big) to myself, how amazing will it feel to share? Let’s find out, shall we?

1) Music in the shower. When I was a kid, I never took a shower without music. I lugged my big ol’ boombox into the bathroom with me, turned it up, and jammed out. I loved it. So, I’ve started playing music while I’m showering and getting ready, and you know what? I still love it. And it’s a lot easier now that my phone has a boombox in it.

2) Funky little beach places. I love being near the ocean, and while staying in fancy schmancy places (we stayed a night at the Ritz Carlton in Palm Beach last fall), I’m a real sucker for the little individually owned condos. They might not be fancy or offer great amenities or swanky bath products, but we’re staying in one right now during our work-cation in Siesta Key, and get this: Yesterday, I asked the woman in the office if she knew of a walk-in clinic nearby because Jared has been fighting a cough and I was concerned (he went, got meds, and he’s fine, BTW). Today, the office called me to make sure we’d found it and he was OK. I mean, how many big hotels offer that kind of service? I mean, sure, maybe the Ritz, but it also costs about 6x as much to stay there, so … yeah.

3) Saying hello. On our last work-cation, we stayed a couple of nights in Daytona Beach and spent a lot of time at a bar just down the beach from our hotel. One night, they had karaoke, and this old man sang, and he was good. He walked outside and we offered him a seat at our table — his name was Larry, we ended up talking for probably 45 minutes, and he had the most fascinating stories about being in the service with Glenn Miller, writing songs for Perry Como, riding the rails (illegally) for a year, working on cruise ships and buying a Ferrari and Ducati at the age of 90 (and then promptly selling them after racking up $5000 in speeding fines). You never know who you’re going to meet.

4) Thoughtful comments. I’ve had so many amazing conversations with people about this post — there were several great comments on the post itself, and then I had quite a few people email me or talk to me in person about it. And the kind words and advice on this post have been helpful, too. Of course, ever since I wrote that, Hollie has been doing great, so go figure.

5) Family. At the risk of sounding super cheesy, I feel like really have to mention that my family really does make me happy. Obviously, Jared is a huge part of that — what’s not to adore about a husband who doesn’t balk when I ask for his opinion on what nail polish I should wear? (I mean, sure, he doesn’t actually care, but he acts like he does because it’s important to me.) I get along wonderfully with all of his family, which I know is rare.

And then, you have my parents. My parents who are honestly (I think) happy to drive 90 minutes to our house to watch the dogs while we go off gallivanting to god-knows-where for a few days. My parents who get flustered every time I leave a few bucks for them to grab dinner (because, you know, they drove 90 minutes to our house so we could go away). I mean, just this morning, my dad spent a good 45 minutes searching through things in my (neat, but still not totally organized) desk because I didn’t have an email address I needed and didn’t bring the business card with me. My parents who will celebrate 40 years of marriage on Sunday. Whew.

6) Generous people. As many of you already know, there was a robbery at Puppy Hill Farm’s new facility a couple of weeks ago — $6000 worth of air conditioning equipment was stolen. And, for a rescue like PHF, that’s like a million dollars, you know? But the community has really stepped up and made some serious donations. We don’t have the entire amount made up yet, but between a few really large donations and lots and lots of smaller ones, we’re getting there.

7) Being able. I’ve done a couple of things for That’s Fit lately that have really made me think. I interviewed SELF Magazine’s editor, Lucy Danziger (she’s CRAZY fit), and she really emphasized the importance of appreciating the fact that you CAN work out, which I’ve kept in mind every time the going has gotten tough. Yes, running an extra mile is a challenge, but it’s a challenge I’m pretty damn fortunate to be able to take on. And then, I did a really strict diet for a week. It was not easy, but I was totally able to handle it — I saw it through to the end, which felt great in and of itself. Right now, I’m reviewing a ridiculously difficult workout program. It’s super hard, but guess what. I can do it. Awesome.

There are a thousand things I’ll think of to add to this as soon as I hit publish, I have no doubt, so I’ll probably give you another list before you know it. In the meantime, I’d love to hear what’s making you happy lately!

Hollie dogPart of the reason we adopted Hollie is because we knew she would need special care. She walks a little funny, sits to one side, her hips click with every step, and the vet who saw her before her we adopted her said she would need surgery; the only question was when.

When we took her to our vet (the same one who cried with us over Yuki), she had better news — Hollie’s hips aren’t as bad as we originally thought! Her right back hip has some degenerative disease, as does her left back knee, but our vet feels strongly that we’ll be able to manage it with supplements and pain meds, when necessary.

The other good news — our vet didn’t discourage us from letting her play. She’s taken in dogs with severe joint issues, and her feeling was that, if they’re feeling alright now, let them play and enjoy it. Of course, watch her and monitor her play, and don’t let her get too rough or crazy, but if we wanted to take her to the dog park or something, it probably wouldn’t be any more problematic than letting her play in the back yard.

And then, I exhaled.

You guys wouldn’t believe how happy that made me. I mean, sure, it doesn’t mean she’s okay, exactly, but it took away the nagging guilt I had about letting her play with Rudi and her other doggie friends.

And then she got hurt.

She’s okay, really, but after playing with a friend’s dog, she came home limping. She wouldn’t put any weight on her right back foot, and was crying in pain when she’d try to lay on it or get up. My heart split into a thousand sharp pieces, all of which landed in my gut. This went on for a couple of days, after which she went right back to normal. Until she played too hard the next week and did it again. (The limping only lasted one evening the second time, though.)

We know she’s a bit of a drama queen (our vet confirmed it), and I have no doubt that she knows I’ll come running whenever she cries. I’m positive some of her actions are because she’s milking it. That being said, I also have no doubt that it really does hurt — she wouldn’t whimper in the middle of the night when she doesn’t know I’m awake if it wasn’t real.

hollie dog bed

I’m so torn — when she plays, she’s just like a normal, completely healthy dog, and most of the time she’s fine after she plays. It’s just those occasional times that the playing causes her to hurt so much… Do I cut back her fun puppy play time, knowing that at some point, she might not be able to play at all, or do I let her go for it and do what I can to help her deal with the hurt when it occurs?

My gut (now, mercifully free of those sharp pieces of my heart) says to let her play. Of course that’s what it says right now, when she’s tearing around the house like someone put crack in her kibble. What would you do?

Back in the early days, when J and I were dating and just married, it was so weird to say good bye to each other for more than, like, the day. Now granted, I’m a more emotional person than most (and yes I cry at commercials and movie trailers all the time), but I would actually get teary if he was going out of town for two or three days.

(It was different, by the way, if I were the one leaving, because WOO HOO vacation!)

Now that he travels for work — a lot — that has obviously changed. After all, his first day of his current job was actually a two week trip to California and Puerto Rico, so we kind of had to get used to that quickly.

People are always asking me, “Isn’t that so haaard?” with a sympathetic tilt of the head. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried when we first realized just how much he’d be gone, but the thing that’s most surprising is how easily we both settled into things. I might talk to the dogs a bit more than I used to, and I definitely expect them to respond more often, but it’s very rarely lonely. And the nice thing is that, when he’s home, he’s really home. And since I work from home and we share an office, I get to see a lot of him when he’s here.

(Added bonus — when he’s been gone for a few days for work, I’m truly and genuinely excited to see him. How many people are that thrilled to see their spouses walk in the door after work?)

In fact, I just realized something last night. I’ve been trying to schedule my life around when he’s home; turning down offers for ladies’ night parties and other activities with girlfriends because he was in town and, well, didn’t that mean we needed to spend time together? And the irony of this is that it’s more important than ever that I have these friendships because there are so many days and nights when I’m on my own and would love to have something fun to do.

(Let me be very clear — at no point has J ever asked me to stay home with him. I mean, sure, he likes having me around — WHO WOULDN’T? — but he’s always encouraged me to hang out with my friends, and I’ve done the same for him.)

I read something the other day about how people don’t sleep enough during the week, and they try to make up for it by sleeping in on the weekends, but it doesn’t work that way. Getting more on Saturday and Sunday doesn’t change the fact that you got so little the rest of the week — you’re better off aiming to make each hour of sleep you can squeeze the best it can be.

See where I’m going with this?

It’s not that I don’t love sitting around and doing nothing with my husband. I honestly do — Sunday afternoon happy hour on our back porch is one of my favorite things in the whole wide world. But I also think it’s important that, rather than look at how much time we can spend in the same house, focus on doing more fun things, even if that means less time together.

So, I broke the cycle. He’s home this weekend, but I’m spending Saturday kayaking with friends. I don’t think we’ll have too hard a time squeezing in some fun on Sunday, especially if it’s anything like Sunday before last.

Hollie's first off-leash experience

Tired, happy girls

Also: THIRSTY. And cute.

Yes, those were gratuitous dog pictures, but Hollie just turned a year old and it seemed appropriate. You’re welcome.

This is a little overdue, I realize, but … meet Hollie!

cute dog

Hollie, January 2010

Is it any wonder we fell in love and decided to keep her?

(On another note, yes, it appears that, should we have children, I’ll get around to sending out the announcements somewhere around the time said child goes to his or her first boy/girl slumber party.)

Compared to what we’ve always looked for in a dog, Hollie is not a good fit. She’s short and little (about 35 pounds), with light, fluffy fur. And, you know, we’ve always been kind of partial to the big black dogs (what, you didn’t notice?). And, she’s not going to be a terribly active dog — she has some major hip problems which will, eventually, require surgery. Don’t tell her that — she pounces and plays with Rudi, running around the yard as much as we’ll allow. But, I don’t think she’ll be joining Rudi and me on our five- and six-milers.

One of the rare quiet times around here. I forgot what having a puppy was like. (It's LOUD.)

Her wonky hips give her a unique little wiggle, which, if you can get past the fact that it’s not really a funny issue, is pretty damn cute. She’s got a tongue that’s about the length of her whole head, and if you get close enough you’re going to get licked. Don’t try to fight it.

She’s only about seven months old, so we’re still working on obedience (well, let me rephrase — we SHOULD be working on obedience. But — spoiler alert — I’m lazy.), but she’s amazingly well behaved for a dog so young. No shoes have been harmed in the training of this puppy. (Though, if both these mutts would stop barking their heads off at every other dog on the street, I’d be happy. Very, very happy.)

Plus, oh my god, how do you not snuggle up with all that fluff? Just try to resist. Seriously.

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