A Very BIG Announcement

All of you know that I was taking a few classes this summer that literally took every ounce of my spare time. But that’s not all I was up to… I was also….trying to nurse myself back to health. That’s right, I’ve been sick. All day, all night kind of sick. For WEEKS! No…MONTHS! Can’t eat, can’t sleep, can’t move, can’t function.

And the reason for this sickness???

 

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That’s right…TWO onesies…means double the fun is on the way for Toblerone and I!

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We’ve got a lot to plan for since our lives are completely going to change but we couldn’t be more excited to raise two babies! TWO, people!

Here goes nothing!

Until next time, Readers!!! xoxoxoxo

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How To Fly With Your Pup

I’ve been promising people I would write this post since I’ve flown with our Labrador overseas twice now (Poor baby!). So here we are! Finally getting down to the nitty gritty of how to fly with your pup. Most of us can’t afford private jets so this is how it is done!

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Flying to Germany the first time, Harley was ten months old. Just a little itty bitty baby! Except he wasn’t THAT little. If you do have one of those ankle biter dogs (20lbs or less), then buy a carry on bag for him and bring him with you. But those of us with bigger dogs have to do things a bit differently. So first things first!

Going away for a few weeks and want to bring your pet?? DON’T!!

You are only going to make your pup’s life miserable. Do him a favor and find him a place to stay for the time you are away. Unless you are actually moving your life, don’t put your pet through this. It’s very stressful for them and it’s very stressful on you as well. Dogs can get all sorts of issues like reactivity, fear aggression, and social issues. New smells and unfamiliar places can really effect the behavior your dog.

Considering using a pet service??? DON’T!

IMPORTANT! PLEASE READ! Many people have looked into shipping their pet with a specific service. We had visited the offices of PETAIR in Frankfurt and spoke with the manager there. He HIGHLY recommended against shipping our dog with them for one very good reason. These airline services are great for large animals like elephants, horses, or even exotic pets like snakes, etc. For a domestic animal like a dog or cat its not needed. The way these services work is they do all the customs documentation for you but you have to consider that your pet is in their care hours before takeoff and once they do reach their final destination, the animal must stay in the crate behinds the scenes for an additional 4-6 hours JUST to go through customs. Whereas when you ship your dog as “cargo”, he is brought right off the plane with the baggage. No waiting, no customs other than what you go through in the airport.

 

1. CHOOSE AN AIRLINE

Here, let me help you. There are two things you are looking for when choosing a flight.

A. The most direct flight possible: The stress on an animal when having to switch flights is immense. And not to mention, you are not allowed to see them between flights. They can not leave their crate and can not see you. The less time they have to spend alone, the better. (We chose a direct flight from Newark to Zurich. For the second time Frankfurt to Detroit.) Most airlines will state their restrictions or guidelines for traveling with a pet. Do the research before you book a flight.

B. How does the airline handle animals: We checked around at a few and we chose without a shadow of a doubt, Lufthansa. Why? Because even though your pup has to travel in the baggage container doesn’t mean they have to be completely uncomfortable. Lufthansa has an actual specified place for live animals that is climate controlled. Our captain told me after the flight that he kept an eye on the air pressure in the area our Harley was and he really tried to keep the ride as smooth as possible. Very reassuring. Note: Very important that you aren’t flying during extreme weather. Not in hot season: June – August or cold season : December – February.

Harley waiting to go into the airport shortly before his big adventure! One last whiff of German air!

Harley waiting to go into the airport shortly before his big adventure! One last whiff of German air!

Be sure to reserve or book your dog’s flight and to speak with the airline to make sure that all information is connected to your ticket. Each airline only allows a certain amount of animals on each flight.

2. GET A CRATE

This is one of the most important parts. If you do not have the correct size to comfortably fit your dog and for him to be able to stand and turn around in it, the airline reserves the right to deny your dog on the flight. And they have done this so be certain! We got the largest crate possible for our guy to make sure he had enough room. He’s also 86lbs so it works for him.

Harley testing out his crate.

Harley testing out his crate.

Here is a calculator to find the right size crate for your pup: click here

Not all crates come with the water holder and we found a good one on amazon but you can find many at Lixit. More like what you would see in a Gerbil cage but its better that it doesn’t spill all over in a turbulent situation on the plane. Make sure you get one that has a bottle attachment for the crate. Some airlines require that you have water for your animal. Test this out with them prior to the flight as well so they know how to use it.

3. INTRODUCE THE CRATE

If you’re dog is like ours, he doesn’t use a crate at home. He only did when he was potty training in the beginning of his life. Once we had the crate we washed it completely and put a few of his toys and blankets inside. When he would go in the crate, he would get a treat. This helped him associate the crate as a good thing! His is big enough that we could actually sit inside with him so we did that from time to time too. It’s like a little fort! 🙂

Harley's crate with his dog bed, blankies, favorite toys, and a shirt with mommy's scent to keep him calm

Harley’s crate with his dog bed, blankies, favorite toys, and a shirt with mommy’s scent to keep him calm

You will want them to get used to the crate and associate it as a “safe” thing several months before you fly.

4. KNOW YOUR AIRPORT

I did all the background research to see if the airports we were flying to had a special “Dog Only” park or grass area. I did the google maps search to also look for any kind of walking area for him. You can also look on the airport’s website or call the information desk at the airport to ask them. Some airports even have dog areas inside the gate area.

5. UPDATE MEDICAL RECORDS

In order to fly anywhere, first it’s important to find out what the restrictions are for that country you are traveling to. Some countries require containment for up to 6 months, which I can’t imagine is enjoyable for the pet or for you. We were flying to Germany and of course back to the US 4 years later. What we needed for both countries was the same.

1. Dog must be micro-chipped.

2. Health records must be up to date with kennel cough and rabies immunizations.

3. You will need a signed health certificate from the veterinarian no more than 10 days before you fly.

4. Check with your vet to make sure that the pup has no illness or any other issues that could restrict him from flying like heart problems or arthritis.

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In Germany they actually gave us a little passport for him with all Harley’s info so that was cute and helpful!

6. TO DRUG OR NOT TO DRUG?

The only time I would suggest you see the vet about medicating your animal before flying would be in EXTREME situations. If your dog is nervous about everything at home, has severe anxiety, has the tendency to bite or attack when in extreme situations then I would say go for it. But if you are to do that…be sure to test the medication on your animal several days before you go. Be prepared that they may not be able to move, they won’t use the bathroom, and are completely lethargic. They won’t sleep..but it will look like they are really messed up.

Harley unable to move after testing out anxiety medication meant for a 35lb dog

Harley unable to move after testing out anxiety medication meant for a 35lb dog

We tested it on our dog but wanted to give him a very small dosage just to take the edge off as this was his second time. The Vet gave us medicine that she would normally give to a 35lb dog. Our dog is 85lbs… so..no harm no foul right? Wrong. We gave him one tablet and he was ridiculous. Couldn’t move from off the floor, we had to put him on the couch. It was awful. I felt so bad! The day of the flight I gave him less than a quarter of a pill and he still did all his crazy things, I think it just took the edge off.

If your dog is too medicated (not walking on his own, lethargic, etc.) the airline will not allow him on the flight. And for good reason.

The reason you shouldn’t medicate your pup is so they can self-regulate. When it’s too cold they won’t know to huddle to stay warm and their heart won’t work as it should to produce energy and warmth. You don’t want this in a plane where no one can get to him. He needs to get up and move a little bit to circulate his blood. He won’t be doing that when medicated. And the result of not being able to do this could be fatal.

 7. EXTRA TIPS AND TRICKS

– The first time around we made the mistake of making the 5 hour drive to Newark airport and then putting ourselves and the pup on a plane ride for 9 hours immediately following. We learned a hard lesson that time as first-timers and flying back to the states we drove the 3 hours to the airport (to get the most direct flight of course) and stayed overnight at the airport hotel with our furry guy. We were able to wake up early, go for a nice walk and have play time before heading to the airport.

Harley relaxing in the airport hotel the night before his big adventure!

Harley relaxing in the airport hotel the night before his big adventure!

– We brought an extra bags of food (thrown into a plastic grocery bag) and brought them in our suitcase and carry on. We knew we would have to invest in food once we arrived so we had quite a bit with us to transfer Harley properly into his new food.

– Stay calm! Dogs pick up on fear and stress from their pet parents. Take a few deep breaths and remain calm.

– On top of the crate place a note and/or a picture of your pup with his family members. Write the information of the flight they will be traveling on so that the workers behind the scenes see him more as a family member and take a little bit more caution.

Paper

 

So there you have it! Input from a regular old gal who experienced it all first hand! I hope this helps you in your travels wherever you may go with your furry family member. If you have any questions or think I left something out, please let me know in the comments!

Until next time, Readers!!!! xoxoxoxoxo

 

Settling Back In To America

It’s been a minute since I actually found some time to sit down and write. Toblerone and I have been slowly re-acclimating to all things American and the process has been fun so far!

We no longer are in the company apartment (THANK THE LAWD!), purchased a new home, and moved in! Everything happened so fast – literally 2 weeks time. Check out our new digs:

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The neighborhood we are in looks like Wisteria Lane (for you Desperate Housewives fans).  The people wave and are friendly and our direct neighbors are just incredible. It makes the world of difference to just feel like we would have someone to help us if something was wrong. In Germany, the neighbors wouldn’t even return a “Good Morning” until after 3 years! It was crazy.

I’ve already stored our Thanksgiving turkey in someone’s freezer while we waited for our fridge to arrive, and another one brought over her carbon monoxide detector after she learned we were having potential issues with our fireplace. We also got a quick visit and a bottle of wine on Thanksgiving from our other neighbors. I mean, where am I? Oh yeah…America! 🙂 But seriously, Michiganians (say that ten times fast!) are reallllllllllly nice people. We got so lucky!

I worked frantically to get two of the guest bedrooms finished for our very special guests (THE PARENTS!) I learned I forgot how to paint on walls here in the US so that took me a little bit longer than I expected! But they are mostly done. Need a few more things like end tables for one room and more pictures for both, etc. But we are ready for unexpected and expected guests alike!

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Thanksgiving was great! My parents and Toblerone’s mom came to visit us and we had a small yet very festive Turkey Day! It was so fun to host my first Thanksgiving here in the states in our new home. I wish the entire family could have been with us but some year we will host everyone. This was definitely a scale down from doing it in Germany for 15+ people!

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We went to a Christmas tree farm with my parents in search of the perfect tree. As you know, previously, my experience with Christmas trees wasn’t exactly easy for me to adjust to! At the farm we went to we didn’t bring any cameras, just our memories and it was the greatest memory I’ve had in a long time!

We put the tree together and it was really wonderful to have our parents here to be apart of the first Xmas in Michigan.

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Harley is adjusting and after going through a little bit of Reactivity (Fear Aggression) from being in a completely new place, he is finally starting to be more like himself.  We are all adjusting just fine and although we miss parts of Germany, I think we are happy where we are in this moment. We are where we are supposed to be. Which reminds me of my favorite quote from Max Ehrmann’s “Desiderata”

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

The universe is unfolding as it should…profound if you can just believe it and let it.

Until next time, Readers!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxo

 

 

 

Counting Down The Days

We can almost count on two hands the days we have left here in Germany. It’s been slightly hectic but not too much that it feels as if everything is spiraling out of control. I’ve been packing to keep me busy since I left my job at the end of July. The wedding came and went and now here we are. Next chapter! Just like that!

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I’ve been actively searching for homes and there is a massive amount to choose from! Our Realtor sent me over almost 90 properties to start sorting through a while back and we’ve finally figured out what we are looking for. Location is key for work and also easy to get to stores, city, etc. And my number one main “must-have” is a fence for our dearest Harley Noodle Jones Butt Butt. I just want to be able to let him outside so he can run free around his “own space.”  Waterfront is also ideal but not a necessary factor at the moment since there are so many lakes around us!

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Today Harley and I ventured out to our favorite spot, “The Butterfly Field” and through the woods…which is also a mansion for ticks and other such things! He had a little bit of a photo shoot and loved all the snacks he was getting! Living it up in the place we called home the last three and a half years.

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There are many new houses being built directly behind us blocking our entire bedroom and bathroom windows. In a year from now, our house won’t be the home we once had. This town won’t be what it once was. Things are changing, people are coming and going and that’s just how life is!

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Until next time, Readers!!! xoxoxo

 

Harley and Me – Lessons I’ve Learned From My Dog

I had a dog growing up but I never thought I would be a dog owner.  When I broke up with one of my ex-boyfriends I think I started to miss the dog more than him so I wanted to get a dog out of spite and the possibility I would run into him at the dog park to show off. You all know you’ve been there and wanted to do crazy stalker-like things to your ex. No? Ok…maybe that’s only me! But let’s stay on topic, shall we?

Harley was a sweet little 3 month old pumpkin when we got him and since then it’s been a wild ride with our million-dollar dog. We call him that because he’s always sick and our vet bills are always through the roof with surgeries and the like. How many of you have had a dog eat a sock at 3 months old only to have surgery done that cost $1400!!! INSANE! Anywho, he will be 2 years old in February and since he’s been sick these past few days I thought it would be good to write about him. (He’s snuggling with me right now as I write this to make sure I don’t give out any false information or leave anything out!)

Patience is a Virtue

I can be patient only in circumstances where I have to be on my best behavior. For example: in a meeting, teaching, meeting new people for the first time, dinner parties, etc. However, most of the time, I’m a loud mouth and when I want something done I speak my mind until it’s done. I suppose that would make me annoying. Once Harley came along and during his “puppy training” he had to learn how to sit for X amount of time before he could be rewarded with treats or love.

Harley waiting to get his ball

Every day there is some reason I tell him to “wait” or “stay” and he does just that. He doesn’t complain, he just does it. So now when someone is asking me to “hold on a sec” or “I’ll do it later,” I  try very hard to hold my tongue and allow things to happen as they are supposed to. I know eventually I will be rewarded too!

Beggars Can’t Be Choosers

Harley is a labrador…that means two things to me. 1. The absolute best looking dog there is (I’m biased) and 2. He’s the goat of dog breeds. He wants to eat everything he can find. This proved to us in his first 3 months (as mentioned above) when he ate a delicious smelly black sock of Toblerone’s. We always vowed we would never give him people food since the day one lady told us she keeps all her Lab’s alive until the age of 17 by not feeding them people food. Makes sense but we give in to those puppy dog eyes and he LOVES potatoes. So, he gets to have a snack here and there and we soothe are worried minds by telling ourselves that he gets a lot of exercise and gets to have a really good doggy life by eating really yummy food! I’m welcoming your criticism with this, I know.

Back on topic, as he begs for food, he doesn’t care what it is normally unless it’s kidney beans, cucumbers, or bananas. He doesn’t whine about it when we give it to him (which is not all the time by the way), he just accepts it (obviously…like I said…a goat.)  For me, I’ve learned to be the same. When I don’t see that giant pink diamond ring I’ve been waiting for…I won’t be upset. I’ll just take it ( and at this point, I’ll rip it out of his hands!)

Stop and Smell The Roses….Every Rose

Every single day that we go outside he has to lick every rock, eat every piece of grass, and smell the ground every 4 feet. Walking with him is atrocious so now we just let him run and he does his own thing. Whiplash is so not worth it for me! I take him out a lot every day even though I don’t need too but I like to. He loves to go out and run around and play and he’s in a great shape…so wish I could be!

After a day at school or when Toblerone comes home from work, we take Harley outside to play and it relaxes all of us. We take a moment to chill out and to get ready to relax for the evening together. It’s a nice way to cool down and Harley taught us that sometimes all you need is a little bit of time and some fresh air to get your mind stable. Who needs meditation???

This also taught us to definitely not sweat the small stuff. He doesn’t worry about bills or if the water is too cold in his morning showers. He simply just lives. The simple life…we start to appreciate that more and more each day.

You’re Never Too Big To Be A Lap Dog

Every time I sit on the ground for whatever reason Harley always comes and plops himself into my lap. Literally his fuzzy butt is on my leg. It’s probably the sweetest thing he does. Perfect for snuggling with him. Reminds me that no matter how old I am, I’m never going to be too old to snuggle up to my mom and rest my head on her shoulder or lay my head on my dad’s stomach.

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Harley follows me every where. He snuggles up to my legs as I’m cooking or as I’m putting on my makeup. He’s my little…I mean BIG sidekick. When I moved from the US to Germany I felt really alone at first and as if I had no part of me here. No family, no friends, etc. I had my materialistic things but what I didn’t have was the companionship of familiarity.

Somewhere along the line I had forgotten that Harley came from the US with me. He was just as much apart of the change as I was and he was and is the family I brought with me. I talk to him all day in English….sometimes German since he’s a bilingual smart ass and he loves me. That’s all I need in the world.

What have you learned from the fur balls in your life?

This lesson is brought to you by the letter H and the number 1 1/2 🙂

Until next time, Readers!!! xoxoxoxoxo

30 Day Blog Challenge – Day 21

Day 21- A picture of something that makes you happy

Easy enough….my baby!! Harley Jones!!!

We got him when he was 6 weeks old from a breeder and he was the sweetest little thing. Then we got him home and the terror began. He was a crazy little man and didn’t let us sleep and continuously convinced us he was a Vampire. I used to go to work looking like a murder victim. Blood coming from every space of my skin. He had such sharp little teeth and used to bite us.

Then as he got older, he decided he wanted to run the house and wouldn’t listen to us at all. He held us hostage in our own house. The barking started and the numerous dead things he swallowed whole because he wouldn’t “drop it.” Seriously, what did we get ourselves into?

But then….Now, he’s 17 months old and he’s starting to listen really well…he handles guests much better and doesn’t jump on them nearly as much. He’s become the sweetest little guy and is increasingly sweeter with each day. When I see his face and look at these pictures of him I just get all overwhelmed inside with love. He’s my own little baby!

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UPDATE: So Tobes and I are off to a cute little hotel in the mountains a few hours away. We will be there until Saturday. Looking forward to the massages, champagne and breakfast in bed, and getting away from having to clean. I’m beyond exhausted at the moment. I cleaned until my face turned purple today so I could come home to a clean house. I’m such a house wife. Anywho, I’ll have lots to tell you about after our adventure. And no worries…I’ll post the blog posts! Can’t wait for this crap to be over with.

In other news, my 27th birthday is exactly in 7 days…one week. I feel so old. And so unaccomplished. I need to work on that!

Until next time, readers! xoxoxoxo

Somewhere in the Mountains (Continued…)

Today was interesting. I’m cranky, so I guess it’s not that interesting or surprising for that matter. I slept terrible, fell asleep approximately 30 minutes before the alarm woke me up. So, I’m trying to keep positive throughout this blog but I’m sure I will fail!

So to recap last night, after working out for hours Tobi and I enjoyed icecream (hell with calorie intake on holiday!)

The live entertainment was hilarious but so cute! Our waitress turned into the entertainment. She had her keyboard set up in the dining hall and as we were sitting at our tables enjoying our wine and dinner, all the sudden we hear this very loud “thunder sound.” And then…she began. Oompa—Oompa—Oom- Pa-Pa! That carried on until 10:30PM or so.(Can you sense the negative undertone?) It was really nice…had I told you this story yesterday, I’d be glowing…today however, not so much.

Anywho…so back to this morning. Slept like crap and was not looking forward to the day as much as I should have been. Maybe it’s my “transition period” but I’m lazy as hell right now. Probably just Jetlag but still!

So Tobi wants to take Harley and myself to the mountain and take the gondola to the top and hike around the slopes. Great idea, although, taking a very untrained one year old Labrador around all these people and other dogs didn’t sound great after all. 

Harley was terrible. I’m in the process of trying to train him since I have so much free time but he’s just not listening. His poor throat must be sore from constantly choking himself as we walk. Every dog, every person, every spec of snow, branch, pine cone, stone….he has to smell and approach everything. Using his 80lbs to drag us along. We walk maybe a quarter of a mile and I’m put out. I don’t want to go any further. Excuse me if I want to sit in the snow and stomp my feet and whine and cry about how I hate this trip. (So I wasn’t sitting down…but doing all the rest.) Yes, at 26yrs old…I still have temper tantrums. Not ashamed here, people!

Nevertheless, we reach a little lodge/bar and attempt to sit down and enjoy the view and everything but that was once again impossible with Harley. I’m not sure what to do with him anymore. I’m frustrated and no longer have the patience for him to just “get it!” Sometimes, I think about giving him away. I just can’t handle it anymore and just like Tobi said, “He does whatever he wants in life and we get to do nothing.” Heck with this noise!

 I had enough and dragged Harley back to the gondola…to the car….to the hotel room. He needed a nap and I needed a gallon of wine. CHECK! I had some weird white sausage with sweet mustard and bread and Tomato Crème Soup. All very good and gave me a second to find my happy place, if there was any bit of that left after today.

 I get it, I’m a baby and there are worse things in the world like starving people in other countries or war, or whatever. I’m grateful to be on this trip but it’s so hard to enjoy it when I’m dog-sitting. I’m allowed to have bad days, and this is one of them.

 I can’t wait to get home to my things and continue unpacking! And hopefully through all of this…find a good trainer (not one that beats my dog…as we experienced before) to come to our house and really work with him. It’s become too much of a challenge for both of us.

I just rolled out of power nap and I’m watching my two favorite boys sleep…it’s hard to hate them when they are silent! 🙂 And oh so cute that they have matching snoring patterns. lol.

Until next time…xoxoxo