Category Archives: Maisie

My favorite DIY: The doggie shower

IMG_2494We have been taking Maisie to the beach almost every weekend since she was old enough to go.  She loves it there, rain or shine, hot or cold, it is one of her favorite things to do and she knows when it’s time for another beach day.  She can tell by the way we are dressed and how long we sit and drink our coffee, a trip to the beach is on the morning list. Before we got Annie, she would head straight for the basement shower when we got home and patiently wait for all of the sand to be washed away.

To say this shower is rustic, is probably being kind. There is nothing fancy about it and the opening is about 24″ wide.  The best way to get her clean was to get in there with her because there is no way to reach her otherwise.  The sink is right next to the shower opening so you need to squeeze by the sink to get into the shower.  Really, the whole thing needs to be torn out and reworked, but for dog washing purposes and the occasional teenage boy sleepover it served the purpose.

When we brought Annie home I knew that there was no way she would go in there.  She didn’t like small spaces or doorways and this was the tiniest space in the house with the most narrow doorways.  We had to figure out an alternative because in order to treat and control her itchy skin, she needed twice weekly medicated baths.  The tiny shower just would not work!

My best ideas come to me in the middle of the night, and that’s when I found a solution.  Shortly after we moved into this house we relocated the laundry machines from the basement to the second floor.  Left behind was a huge 48″ cast cement double sink that we were using mainly to wash paint brushes.  Talk about wasted space!  If we removed the sink, we could build a shower base 20″ off the floor and the drain and water supply lines could stay in the same place.  When I said to my husband “I have an idea”, as usual, he was completely willing to put in the work to make my vision come true.IMG_2452

The deep mop sink, which was found on a bargain website, gets filled with soapy water and then we use a submersible pump and hose to lather them up. ( Annie’s foster dad gave us that brilliant idea when he gave her a bath the day we picked her up.) We got tile from the tile discount warehouse nearby and a rolling cart to tuck into the corner that houses my supplies, towels, and the dryer.

Chris built a rolling step with locking casters that stores underneath the baIMG_2465se.  Maisie jumps right up without the step but Annie uses it so that she can easily walk in when it’s bath time. It also works well with the grooming table (Maisie despises the grooming table, Annie stands patiently like it’s no big deal).






I hung pictures of all of our dogs all around the IMG_2455room but the 3 Princesses each have a place of honor right over the rolling cart.  Bailey in the snow, Maisie at the beach and Annie in our backyard.

IMG_2506We didn’t intend on bathing them together but one day Maisie decided to jump in with Annie and they both fit so we went with it.  We also blow off a lot of the water with the dryer before they get down. It keeps the hair and water contained and then I can move them one at a time to the grooming table if we are doing a full groom. (This doesn’t happen after every bath, only when I’m feeling especially motivated). IMG_1750

Once they are completely dry they get a full brush out and trim.

No more climbing in the shower with the dogs, we can now easily reach them to wash and rinse.

Voila, a fabulous area to wash the dogs and sweet-smelling pooches as the final result!

There’s a thief among us!

Which one could it be???

Over the last couple of months some unusual things have gone missing. A pair my favorite knit gloves, two muffins that were left on a plate for the kids, a sock, a container of spinach dip that was placed next to a bag of carrots, a deli bag with a couple of slices of swiss cheese, a wooden coaster created by an artist depicting neighborhoods in Chicago and the repeated disappearance of Grandma’s dog treat containers that she brings to the house when she dog sits. I have found my coffee cup empty or knocked over when I return to the spot where it was left. A plum was pulled out of Grandma’s bag while she was napping. It had a couple of punctures and then was left discarded in the middle of the room.

With two dogs in the house, it’s difficult to assign blame with complete confidence, but I’m pretty sure it’s all Annie. I have found incriminating evidence in the back of her crate, and up until now, Maisie’s only vice has been the bathroom trash or grabbing the end of the toilet paper roll and stringing it around. She’s more of a rebel when she’s alone, I think Annie is the scavenger.

At least that’s what I thought until the joint supplement episode. When I found the empty container, I was immediately worried about Annie and didn’t even consider that Maisie was involved. The strewn about cotton rounds were her calling card and my son found her trying to get into a dog treat bag. Both of those things came out of a drawer within the dog food cabinet. Maisie has proven to be very handy opening doors and now apparently drawers. It wasn’t until I was talking to poison control and they recommended treating both dogs that I thought there was a possibility that Maisie had participated. Until then, I was convinced Maisie would never do such a thing.  But of course she would. She’s. A. Dog!  These were yummy, beef flavored supplements that I doled out like treats!  Thank goodness we did because Maisie had twice the amount in her system than Annie!

So now, I’m more confused than ever. While it is certainly possible that Annie is the instigator, I’m beginning to think she stands and watches and then cleans up what is left. I am very curious about how they have gotten things off of the counter. Annie’s not that tall, she’s not a jumper and she doesn’t even climb on the couch. The stools don’t have any scratch marks on them. Maisie could easily jump up and grab anything she wants, but she never has. Or I should say, I’ve never caught her even thinking about doing that, and up until recently, nothing has been swiped off of the counter. Is Annie instructing her on what to grab and then sharing the spoils? The crumbs and wrappers keep ending up in the back of Annie’s crate, not Maisie’s.

Hmmm, until I catch them in the act I’m left to my own imagination.








Oh no, better call poison control!

Friday morning started out just like any other.  I woke up early with the sun, stumbled downstairs and fed the dogs while my coffee was brewing.  I love Fridays, I go into work 15 minutes later and I get off at 2:00 to start the weekend.  This was our last day with Abigail, we were helping her move into her new apartment on Saturday and she starts grad school on Monday.  I was looking forward to spending the afternoon with her and we were planning on family dinner that night since we wouldn’t all be together again until Thanksgiving.

We didn’t have too much more to do to get her ready, she had been gathering her things in the living room for the past couple of weeks so that all we had to do Sat. morning was load the rental van and hit the road.  She and I gathered her remaining odds and ends and then started the final task on our list, replacing the styrofoam beans in her bean bag chair. She’s had it since her freshman year and it’s been well-loved and used. I thought it would be a nice gesture to spruce it up for her time in grad school. This was a bit daunting, I broke the zipper on the cover trying to get to inner bag.  Oh well, deal with that later.  The bigger issue was emptying the flattened beans from the liner without making a huge mess.  We opted to do it outside, and managed to keep the beans contained. We laughed a lot but I was very flustered and hot because we were right in the line of the setting sun and it felt like it was 150 degrees at that moment. As we were finishing up,  Chris went to pick up the fresh pizzas that we were having for dinner and then Abigail and I walked to the store to pick up dessert.  I figured we would all be back around the same time and then we could enjoy the evening while we ate outside.

When Abigail and I returned, the evening took a turn.  Greeting us in the front hallway was a chewed open 2lb container of joint supplements, an open sleeve of cotton rounds (ear cleaning supplies) that had been strewn about and a discarded bag of dog treats.  In addition to being hot and bothered with the bean bag project I was also feeling emotional about saying goodbye again. Apparently in my distraction I left the door open IMG_2713to the food cabinet when I fed the dogs. We had been gone for a very short amount of time, but the damage done was great.  It took me a few minutes to gather my wits, read the warning label on the supplement container and make a call to the emergency vet.  I was referred to the ASPCA toxicology hotline and sat on hold fretting about the situation for about 10 minutes.  Chris was cooking dinner and the kids were sitting outside waiting for me to join them.  It was becoming clear that our family dinner plans were being altered!

Just as dinner was literally being put on the table, I was hanging up the phone with instructions on how to induce vomiting. (So appetizing for us all.) I would also need to keep them both moving until they emptied their stomachs. So….Chris helped me administer the potion and I started walking them up and down the alley.  Maisie was quick, and while I was ready to blame Annie for the whole episode it became obvious that Maisie was just as guilty.  She had ingested at least 13 supplements, her daily dose was 1 chew twice a day, thank goodness we were able to act quickly!  Annie was not so easy, we gave her another dose, continued walking for another 15 minutes and that still didn’t do the trick, so we headed to the ER. She needed to receive an injection that would take care of business.  Poor Annie.  She does not like going to the vet and at this point it was obvious that she felt lousy. I was assuming that she ingested at least 15 chews if not more. They took very good care of her and she surprised us all with only having 6 chews, it was such a huge relief. Maisie really was the trouble maker in this instance!

By 9:00 I was back home feeling terrible while sitting in the kitchen drinking a huge glass of wine and trying to salvage the remnants of our family night.  We all sat around the table, chuckling about the series of events and how I was able to get out of moving Abigail into her apartment.  The dogs were both fine but would need to see our vet in the morning for blood work as a precaution.  I really wasn’t looking for an excuse to stay home because I  did want to go and do the Mom things; putting sheets on the bed, making sure her bathroom was clean, stocking her fridge and pantry and giving her a final hug. Instead, I spent 2 hours at the vet and then went home and snuggled up with my furry girls and watched the Olympics.  Dad was in charge of the move-in and I’m sure they had a great time and lots of laughs.  Chris and Abigail have an amazing bond and the dogs gave them a gift of one more day for just the two of them.  Maybe that was their plan all along.

Waiting for the all clear from our veterinarian





Every Newfie party needs a Lab to keep the games going!

It’s official; I’ve crossed to the other side. Some of my friends are concerned; some just shake their head and wonder what has happened. It used to be easy to find common ground because it’s perfectly normal to have 2 kids, no matter their age. Now as I embrace the passing of time and each of the kids discovering their own exciting direction, it’s a little more difficult to find common ground since it is not very common to have two dogs the size of young adults.

For years, my primary source of preoccupation had been my kids. I drove carpools, volunteered in classrooms, organized team activities and celebrations and basically sacrificed the bulk of my free time to taking care of their needs. Those days are over! My children have both graduated high school and are well on their way of discovering the different paths of their future. It’s exciting, rewarding and a little bit sad to embrace the changes in our family dynamic but I can’t run away from the fact that my kids are out of the house for more months of the year than they are at home. Of course I still worry, a lot, but I can no longer fix their biggest concerns with a hug or kiss.  I’m here for them when they need me, but they are now in charge of their own happiness.  There has been a lot of stress and worry this year for each of them, but they have both managed it beautifully and I am so proud of them.

Last January, after Thomas returned to college we adopted Annie. She needed a lot of attention and it took a tremendous amount of time and patience to gain her trust. She had come from a terrible situation and before her rescue she didn’t have any reason to know that she could have a positive experience with her owner. I dedicated all of my extra time to her and I found patience that I never knew I had. Slowly, she began to trust me and we began to form the type of bond that I think she craved all of her life. The fact that she needed so much of my time easily allowed me to refocus my attention from my kids to her rehabilitation. Once again, I was able to fix a concern with a hug and kiss and she has changed so much. I have filled my need to nurture by helping this sweet dog. So that leads to the change in my priorities. Of course my kids are still the most important people in my life, but they aren’t here every day and it is appropriate for all of us to embrace the change in our relationship. So now, I focus a lot of my attention on my dogs and I love it!

Last week we went to our first Newfie party and had a wonderful time. I’ve connected with a group of Newfoundland owners in the Chicago area and they get together every now and then. On this day, a facility was reserved that had a pool for the dogs and a large play area. It was so fun to see all of these large dogs playing together and to be a part of a group of owners who don’t think I’m nuts for having these 2 huge dogs in my life. Everyone there loves the breed, isn’t fazed by flying drool or a smear on the leg after being nuzzled by a big head. I’m always so sensitive to the feelings of my friends when they come to my house and in this group there was no need to apologize for anything that some people might find to be a nuisance. It was such a relief to just enjoy the gorgeous dogs around me. I wasn’t worrying about anyone else and I had such a great time. I look forward to the next meet-up!