Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Seeking Stress Relief

Yesterday I was so tired -- I mean seriously sleep deprived. To the point that my brain wasn't working right and I felt almost physically ill. It peaked in the late afternoon when Mabel got home and I was torn in three different directions on top of my blood sugar dipping. I managed to bring myself out of it, with the help of an apple to bring my blood sugar back up, but I knew I really needed a good night's sleep.

I sort of got one. I went to bed early while Hubby stayed up trying to wear out the puppies. He told me not to worry about them and he'd take care of them for the night. At 2:40 a.m. I awoke to them whimpering and nudged Hubby. "The puppies are crying."

After a pause, in a half asleep voice he asked, "Are you awake?" Which in Male-ese means "I'm too tired to get up; will you do it?"

So I got up and got them outside. I managed to get back to sleep after that and got up for good at 4:45 to take them out again and then get to the gym. Afterwards I got home, showered and dressed, and went into the bedroom to find Hubby still sleeping. I knew he was going to California University of Pa. today to be a judge in some science fair thing, but I didn't know he didn't have to leave the house until 8 a.m. (he usually leaves at 6:30).

"Well, that's poopy," I blurted out.

"What is?" he queried from his bundle of sheets and comforter.

"That I had to get up in the middle of the night, and you're the one who gets to sleep in," I replied, then left the room to get on with my morning chores.

On top of this, at the end of last week he agreed to become the statistician for his high school's baseball team. While he doesn't have to go to practices, he does have to attend the games. Last night's game was postponed due to the rain, but now he's got games scheduled for tonight, Wednesday and Friday. Which means he won't be home until 7 p.m. those nights. And this will go on until May.

I knew this was going to happen. I pretty much figured this would be how it would work if we had a baby, too, which is why I've pretty much stated I will not be having any more children. While he'd be full of promises about how much he was going to help, there'd always be some excuse -- too sleepy, too busy -- to hold up his end of the deal.

So, as I feared, I'm doing the bulk of the "dirty" work -- cleaning up poop piles in the yard, cleaning up the accidents on the kitchen floor, cleaning poopy shoes after Mabel walks into a fresh pile. I was already prepared for afternoon duty, but now I'll have a lot of evening duty, too.
Of course, don't forget that I also generally do 90 percent of the general housework and childcare duties.

Now don't get me wrong; the puppies are adorable and I enjoy playing with them. I don't think I could bring myself to get rid of them now, because I've grown attached to them and they definitely are bonding with me.

But I'm just feeling overtaxed right now, and I feel I'm taking the brunt of the responsibility when it comes to the dogs. Things will calm down eventually; the dogs will grow, as will their bladders, and they won't need as much babying. And come summer time Hubby will be home to take the reigns as the primary puppy parent while I'm off at work.

The biggest problem I guess is readjusting our lives to this big change. I had to give Mabel hell this morning because she didn't do her homework last night; she told me she had done it, but when I peeked at her homework journal this morning I realized she couldn't have done her dictation practice by herself. So I sent her to her father, who was lounging around watching TV and eating his P0P Tartz, to help her with her homework while I was rushing around trying to get myself and Mabel ready for our day, clean up the kitchen and get the puppies set for their morning cooped up in the kitchen.

On top of this, the new puppies have stirred up the whole in-law thing and they've been finding excuses to drop over every single night. Months ago I made the "call first" rule, which seems to have been partially abandoned. Monday night's excuse was that they were exchanging vehicles with Hubby because they were taking his SUV to be serviced. This couldn't be a simple key exchange; they stopped by 15 minutes before Mabel's bedtime (which is one of their worst habits) and proceeded to sit down and "chat" for the next half an hour. On Tuesday they did try to call, but we were outside and didn't get to the phone. Five minutes later here they come; they decided to take a "walk" and conveniently had to walk past our house. Of course they stopped, came into the house and "chatted" some more.

To be fair, my mother's been stopping over a good bit more, too. But her visits don't come at Mabel's bedtime, they're generally brief and don't require a lot of entertaining.

I know MIL doesn't think I'm a good hostess; she made sure that I found out about her raving about my sister-in-law and what a wonderful hostess she is. When they visit their youngest son and his wife, SIL brews a pot of coffee and bakes them muffins. I don't make them coffee and muffins; Hubby and I don't drink coffee, and I'm certainly not preparing baked goods when I'm trying to watch what I eat! It comes down to this: they know darn well that Mabel's bedtime is 8 p.m., yet they consistently show up at 7:30, 7:45. Sorry, my daughter's routines come first.

Gee, I sound kind of stressed out, don't I? Coincidentally I've got therapy with Dr. K. today, which will come in very handy to get this off my chest some more. The good news is I'm not letting the stress drive me to overeat; my Monday-Friday rule is so ingrained that it isn't even feeling like an option for me. It may all culminate in a binge this weekend, but with this routine in place the damage is limited and controlled. For now I'm trying to use other methods to blow off steam: exercise, reading, taking a nap, blogging. Maybe if I can do enough of this kind of stuff throughout the week, by the time the weekend comes it won't be such a blow-out.


Vickie said...

Do yourself a HUGE favor and train them to GO in one section of the yard - by putting up some type of barrier (mesh fence works well) and always taking them there.

Eventually you can take down the fence but they will still GO there.

If it is a corner somewhere out of traffic - then no one looks at or walks through anything.

Not that you asked - but - after training lots and lots of dogs over the years - the method that I like best is to keep them on a leash and with me unless they are sleeping. And then they sleep in a kennel - this can be both dogs together.

If you are not home - kennel.

I started with every dog the minute it came home - kindly - but "started". All dogs were trained to voice - but if I had one to train now - I would do hand signals only - then their eyes never leave you.

Do you wait (I think it is 20-30 minutes - but it has been a LONG time) after eating and then take them out to GO? - this method works well - just can't remember timing.

Vickie said...

with the 20-30 minute thing - I should have said - you keep them occupied the whole time - like keeping a baby awake for it's last "early" feeding of the day.

Do you know to only feed at set times and not leave food out????

Maybe you have trained a million dogs and I am whistling in the wind . . .if not - find a trainer and start working with them now - not with dog - but with them giving you ideas/support.

Andrea K said...

Vickie, I COULD use some outside advice, because my husband thinks he knows all there is to know about dog training, and I had my suspicions that we should go more along what you suggest.

For example, the food. He thinks puppies should eat all they want, all the time (coincidentally, he has the same approach with himself!). I think it would be smart to have set meal times and try to minimize how much they poop at night.

As for bathroom, we have one small fenced in area of the yard that we are letting them go in.

Here is my schedule, and can you tell me when you'd feed the dogs?
4:45 a.m. -- wake up
8 a.m. -- leave for work
12 p.m. -- home from work
sometimes I have to leave for afternoon errands, but I'm always back by
3:30 p.m.-- Mabel gets off bus
We're usually home the rest of the evening until
9 p.m. -- bedtime

We don't really have a kennel. We've been keeping them confined to the kitchen when we are gone and at night.

The puppies are only 6 weeks old; is that too soon to use a leash? I was thinking around 8 weeks I would start.

And how do you train with hand signals?

We do have a trainer here in town that is supposed to be very good and I was going to call them about setting up some lessons once they're old enough.

Thanks in advance for your advice!

Lori said...

Andrea, I've been thinking about you and the puppies. They sound so sweet. You should ask Frances -- she's a Lab Lady -- about them too.

Our puppy was housebroken easily but he was also much older when we got him. It was a matter of a schedule and the husband was, oh, he can wait another five minutes -- I need to read my paper. Of course, you know what would happen.

You're such a good person; if my m-in-law said all of those things about my sister-in-law with the implication that I was lacking, I'd be sorely tempted to say a little bit snarky back.

I'm sure your husband meant something else when he said he'd take care of them for the night and I'm sorry you had to get up and take care them.

I hope you got a nap today at least.

Vickie said...

It has been too long since I had a puppy to remember feeding/potty times - CALL the TRAINER now.

But, you absolutely do not leave food out - then you don't know when they have eaten and much harder to house train - and it is a REALLY bad habit for them to just snack all the time - if you do that - then at what age do you then TEACH them??? would you let a toddler graze all the time? or a baby even? Probably this is the start of eating disorder - grazing - need to learn to eat at meal time - even if that is every 3 hours (don't know).

No dog should be eating all/any time - adult dogs - once or twice a day - depending on breed. Very measured food - and NO table food - ever - no matter what kind of dog. Begging is a really nasty habit and table food is terrible for dogs. And there are breeds that have NO off/full switch - will eat themselves to death. Labs get obese easily - I think they are one of the ones with no off switch and they can be terrible beggers if they think they can eat what/when you eat.

How small is the fenced area? Is anyone else EVER going to be IN there? if it will be the puppy's yard and kids will be IN there - then you need a much smaller section of IT for potty.

I always started with leash immediately. If I ironed - they sat beside me while I ironed. If I put away groceries - they trotted beside me.

Literally - they were with me - or in kennel - 100% of their day - until they learned. Personally - I would not use room. Too much freedom - Kennels are not cages they are teaching tool - security and can be thought of more as a bed.

And you time kennel time so that they do not ever "go" in their kennel. You do not leave dog all day - in kennel. No food or water in kennel. Later - water out - but I think I remember timing food and water - water much more often than food - ask trainer.

If you use the leash/kennel method - there are rarely any accidents and there is NO CHEWING.

Growing up and in adulthood - my dogs did not need a fenced in yard or electric fence - they knew where their yard was and to stay in it.

In my opinion - dogs have to EARN free range privledges (sp?) in house and out - even one room.

I kept the leash very short and in the beginning - all they were "working" on was how to keep on the correct side of me and not criss cross back and forth. I have never trained two at the same time - I have never had twins either - so I am not sure what to tell you. I know that you would keep them both on the same side - not one on each side of you.

Then as they get older - you start to work with specific skills (sit, stay, come, heel, fetch, etc.). I would guess that you use voice and hand together and then eventually just hand. There are universal signals for hand - like for deaf dogs (not dogs for the deaf - but dogs that are deaf themselves). Your trainer will have info.

My KIDS are much like this - I have never been one to have to SCREAM things at my kids - when we are out - they know what is going on from a nod or a shake or a pointing/gesture toward something - my kids watch me - my dogs always watched too.

And if you don't know - you NEVER EVER CHASE A DOG - not to catch them - not in play. Not as puppies - never as dogs. THEY CHASE YOU. Have you ever known someone that has a dog that bolts out the door or out of the yard - and everyone runs after it yelling? Worst possible thing that you can do. Once you start this - nearly impossible to get rid of behavior.

With most dogs - you can make them chasing YOU a game - as puppies - and they will GET it and just automatically chase/follow you.

For those that didn't GET it - or that we were working with as slightly older puppies -
We used the REALLY long (yards and yards) thin, black, nylon leashes/ropes - so long that the dog didn't know it was 'attached' - if we had one that thought it was fun to bolt. My husband would let it get pretty far way - and then would call it ONE TIME - and yank - as hard as a 6' very athletic guy can yank - one HARD yank - that "strangled" and pulled dog off feet and sent it FLYING through the air back toward us - looks truly terrible to the uneducated dog person. We didn't have to do with every dog - and didn't have to do very often - but faced with a "bad habit" starting - we did it - HARD.

I have always had beautifully mannered dogs - large dogs that did not change rooms or go up and down stairs without an "invitation".

Dogs that only barked once or twice as a danger alert - not as a normal thing.

As much as I love Frances - her stories of Daisy barking at dog run - continuously yipping - over bally - just make me cringe - that is like having a 7 year old still throwing tantrums. I can understand though - that was her "first/oldest" and she probably just didn't know. that is the type of behaviors that you get - if you don't start right/young.

I have NEVER had a dog that jumped on people or tripped people or barked or nipped or whined or begged for food.

My dogs healed off leash - outside - away from the house. Would I have them on a leash in downtown NY city - yes - or in high traffic area. But in normal - town - neighborhood - no - I would expect them to mind. And if I had a dog out - on leash - I would expect leash to be slack and comfortable - I would not put up with a dog PULLING on the leash - ever. Walking a dog - should not involve arm strength.

IF you spend the time UP FRONT - And do it right/young - you get a wonderful dog with no bad habits for LIFE. If you do not spend the time - you live with your dog for it's whole life - with the bad habits. What is cute as puppy is not cute 5-10-15 years later.

Puppies - that is when this ALL starts.

And you do have to know what/how in order to get a good dog - it doesn't happen by itself.

Vickie said...

I guess this is also my philosophy with kids and husbands. . .

Vickie said...

I just thought of something else - my sister-in-law's first dog - was BAD. Then they had a baby. Then they got another/second dog. Second dog was GREAT - really good manners. First dog was always sort of bad - my sister-in-law said that she just plain didn't know when first one was a puppy - and that second dog - was a "third" kid of sorts and by then she had learned a lot and put up with no nonsense. First Kid turned out really good - next kid turned out really good - then two more dogs and they are excellent - just the first dog was "spoiled" and not trained.

Vickie said...

In case you got lost
dog #1
kid #1
dog #2
kid #2
dog #3
dog #4