Training Jack

We have had Jack for over two years and training him was long overdue. Overall he is a good dog, but he definitely needs to go through some training to be a better listener and to make sure he knows where he stands in the pack. Earlier this week we started training and for the first week he has to be tethered to me for most of the day and then keep the leash on for the remainder of the time until I can tether him to me again.

I came home from a meeting and found Pepper – the born again sheep dog that herded cattle in his previous life – holding on to Jack’s leash. The picture captures the order in the pack between them perfectly. Pepper is constantly watching Jack, drinking his water, and near by almost all day.

Even though Jack is my third dog – it is nice to be working with someone so that Jack and our family have the best relationship possible. I just wish I would have done this when we first got him. Greyhounds can be pretty stubborn…but there is no one that can be more stubborn than me so he does not have a chance.

Meet Jack!

We found a newly retired relative of Colby and decided we wanted to meet him. Little did we know we ended up bringing him home the same day! He is a week off the track and so we have to spend some extra time with him teaching him about windows, doors, reflections, stairs, etc.

Jack (as in the color of Jack Daniel’s whiskey) is young – only two – and we will get more of his story in the next week or so. He was so new to the rescue we came home without much information other than his pedigree.


For his life so far – he has only known a crate as a home and never had so much free room like in our house. He spent most of last night wandering from room to room not knowing what to do. He is great on a leash, likes the kids, plays with toys, and is doing a great job with his big transition to retirement. I had to literally place him on his bed – as he did not even know what it was. (He chose the hardwood next to the bed for his place to lay down before I put him on his bed and forced him to lay down.) Rescuing a greyhound and teaching them life after racing can be challenging, but also very rewarding! We look forward to having him as a part of our family!

Our Perfect Dog

Back in November 2008, Amy, a friend, and I went up to meet our next dog. I had him all picked out. An excellent runner right off the track, and half brother to our late greyhound Triscuit.

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 8.05.50 AM

IMG_0295.JPGWhen they first pulled him out of the kennel – yes pulled – they told us he was just nervous. He literally would not move. Trying to pull a large dog – all muscle at 80lbs was challenging but I was determined to show this dog that I could handle him. Amy thought I was getting a dog too soon after his sister died, but I just had to have him. Since we had fostered a dog as well as had another one – the organization we work with allowed us to foster him which really meant we got to take him home sooner than later. Evan was not even two so we also needed to make sure our new dog was kid friendly. We were told to muzzle Colby for the initial month until he got used to everything and everyone. After week 1, it was off, as Amy and I knew he would never hurt anyone. He was so easy going and just loved anyone and everyone. It turned out he was extremely stubborn, but I always say – no one will ever beat me at the stubborn game. His stubbornness was a challenge – but we got a trainer to help us win the battle!

The first few weeks were trying though because he had never walked on a leash, dealt with stairs, or understood the concept of windows. I remember thinking “oh my gosh, he is going to go right through the window!” – as he would run into them not knowing they were even there as he saw another dog outside.

DSC02973.JPGColby was the non-dog lover’s dog. Even though he was big, he never jumped, rarely barked (maybe 5 times in total that I can think of), and would love it if you pet him and rubbed his ears, but would leave you alone if you only wanted to say hi. He got all sorts attention by all. People always commented on how beautiful he was. Regardless of his 20 hours of sleeping – he always kept his amazing muscular physique. All he needed in life was food, water, some of your food, and a nice walk. For a long time – I would take him on a three mile walk each morning to ensure we both got out of the house and exercised. Nothing made him more happy…except perhaps when we all got home each day from being out.

Sure – he knocked over all of us at one point in time when coming home because he was so excited to see you – but as quickly as he got excited, he would also quickly find his way back to his bed. The kids would walk up to him, grab onto him, run their walkers into him and he would simply move away. He was insanely great with three kids and I loved him so much for that.


Colby also loved the couch but we moved into our current place he no longer needed the couch – instead he got his own carpeted room with a bed in one corner and a pile of blankets to nest in in the other.

Colby also loved his big fenced yard. He would lap around it and then stop to chew on some wild chives that we have growing until we would yell at him to come in. He loved to sunbathe in the summer and was even known to spend some time in our garden from time to time. I could always get him to run but never got him to fetch or even play with toys.

Working at home – he and I spent a lot of time together. Any time I would get up and walk around, he would come see what I was doing. If I was stuck on something I would go find him and pet him to break up the day. When I got my lunch, he would join me in the kitchen as he knew I would always give him some of my cheese and crackers. I always felt comfort hearing his nails click/click on our floors. Even though he would never stop an attacker – or even get up to see who it was – he always made me feel safer having him in the house with me.


This picture was taken a few days ago. Even though he limped while walking – he never winced when running.

A few weeks ago he came in from the back yard limping and barely moved the next day. Amy wanted to take him to the vet – but I had a feeling it was going to be like it was almost seven years ago. He was limping, but when he laid down he did not pant or look like he was in pain. He ate, he drank, he would even run back in the house after being out! Finally – two days ago Amy convinced me that he was not getting any better and that we should take him to the vet. She got me to take him on a walk – something she knew he loved – and something she knew would tell us if he was in pain. I decided to take him around the block but within the first few houses I knew it was not good. We had to turn around because he was in pain and finally knew we needed to take him to the vet. Amy made the appointment and told me she would take him and the kids the next day (last night) since I had a meeting. I knew it would not go well and so I told her I would miss my meeting and we would all go. We got him into the car (barely – he was having a hard time standing) and within the first mile – Amy pulled over and I got in the back and held him so he could lay down/brace himself against me.

Amy lifted him out of the car and helped him into the vet’s office. As soon as the doctor saw us she asked us if we ever had a greyhound before because she also knew the likelihood of the situation. She gave him heavy duty pain medication and took him back for X-rays. Since all 3 kids were there, Amy went back initially to look at the results and within a few moments I got called back to look at them too. I knew it was not going to be good, but it was a lot worse than we thought. It was bad bone cancer and his front leg looked like as she described it “swiss cheese”. She said it was so bad that it just fracture if he fell or even walked the wrong way. Treatment was not an option as even aggressive chemo and an amputation would result in maybe a few more months for our boy. We did not want him in pain – and so we knew what we needed to do.


We called in the kids and had the vet bring Colby in to say our goodbyes. We all cried and said what we loved most about him, then the boys decided they did not want to be in there when he died, so Amy took them out of the room and Cora and I were with him until the end (about 630PM). I held him and told him how much I loved him as he took his last breath.


That was a picture I took of him earlier in the day before he died. He had the best ears. He will be forever missed and will always be remembered as our perfect dog.

Farewell to My Tiny Salsa


Fifteen years ago Amy and I saw the cutest kitten. She was super tiny (always was), cute, and was the troublemaker of the litter. When we choose her – the people who were fostering us asked us if we were really sure because she was always causing problems. Our other cat at the time Pita never really liked her, but Salsa held her own.She always tried to eat whatever you were and even drink your drink. She was a forever kitten.

When the kids were born – she disappeared into the basement. Some of our close friends and neighbors did not even know we had a cat. About a year ago, she started coming up, and sitting with our oldest son Evan every night. She was his “BFF” and it was super cute. After fifteen years with us – Salsa passed away. She will be missed and forever loved!

Crossing Through Pennsylvania

On our recent trip east – we crossed completely through Pennsylvania twice and this was just west of Lockhaven, PA. We had to exit off of 80 for a gas/Mt. Dew break and as we were getting ready to turn right – we had to wait while the horse and buggy went by first. Needless to say, you just never know what you are going to see next.

Holy Crap

I walked past this car and it instantly made me laugh. What did those birds eat – and what did the person do to them that owns this car?

Farewell to My Helper

Pita on the lookout

A few weeks after we moved out to Chicago from Penn State, I decided I wanted to get a kitten because my childhood kitten, no matter how many treats I gave him or how many hours I played with him, really jumped up in my lap or slept next to me by choice. One afternoon, Amy and I stopped off at the pet store and I picked out a super cute greyish kitten. I was very excited to get her out of the pet store and into our loving home. The pet store worker came and got her from the kitten area, went to cut her nails, and before we knew it, escaped and climbed up into the wall that the pet store owner had opened in the back during some construction. The pet store worker told us he would call us when she came down and off Amy and I went to go see the first Star Wars movie (Episode I). A little over a day later, we got a call that she came down and was ready to pick up if we still wanted her. He told us she was a real shy kitten because her and her litter mates were born under a porch and did not have a lot of human exposure.

We went and got her and I was happy as could be. She was cute, and Amy did not really have the same love for cats as I did so I would surely be the cat’s #1 person. When we got her home, she instantly went into the bathroom and wedged herself between our tub and sink and I was forced to try and get her out using a yardstick.

Pita and Amy

Within a few days, she started exploring and got comfortable with me, Amy, and our apartment. Over the next few weeks Pita became completely attached…to Amy. If Amy moved, Pita moved…they were inseparable. Pita remained really shy with other people, but if it was just me and Amy – Pita was always there by her side or on her lap. Pita loved to play with clear bottle caps, and came to her name and to “Helper” – which I am not sure how that got started…I imagine it was because I was lazy or something at some point.

We moved three times with Pita, added in another cat Salsa, a greyhound Triscuit, Triscuit’s brother Colby last year after Triscuit died, and then our son Evan, and throughout all of it, Pita remained shy, but with no questions, the alpha of the pack. She intimidated her animal siblings, put them in their places, and ran the house. When we moved to our most recent house and I started working from home, things changed a bit and Pita stayed in my office under my desk with me every minute of every day that I worked. If I left my office, she would meow non-stop and I always joked about giving her a raise, etc for all the work she did. She did have her moments of eating my contracts, meowing during conference calls, and trying to sit on my Mac Book Pro as I was trying to work, but I loved having her around.

Sleepy Pita

About two weeks ago we noticed she could not jump up on the bed at night and Amy took her to the vet to get checked out. They did X-rays, blood tests, etc looking for either a tumor or something that might be causing her weakness and weightloss. After some shots and fluids, she sent home with some high calorie, mineral/vitamin supplements that should jump start her want to eat/drink. (that was a Saturday). On Sunday she seemed to get worse and as an un-experienced force feeder – I seemed to make her throw up everything I gave to her so I called the Vet first thing on Monday and took her in for three days of intensive care.

I met with the vet last Wednesday with semi-hopeful news. Her levels were not great, but the vet was impressed that she seemed much more perky and she sent her home with me…along with instructions to feed her every hour. I did that Wednesday and Thursday but it was so emotionally draining to see her go down hill every time I entered the room I called the vet Friday morning and asked if I should bring her in for another day of intensive care. The vet told me it would be best to keep her at home and to just keep at the feeding – so I did. The 1:30 feeding was rough – she showed no interest in swallowing and it just killed me. The last thing I did with her was brushed her fur and told her that “every girl, even if they did not feel good should still be able to look pretty”. She purred, I told her I loved her, and then left her alone to rest until the next feeding. When I went back in at 2:30 she had died.

She was an amazing cat who died a few months short of her 11th birthday. I wanted to thank the wonderful doctors and staff at Skycrest Animal Clinic for everything they did for her. I will truly miss her presence and will always remember her as my little helper.

Busy Yes, Blogging Yes!

It is hard to believe how little I have been able to actually blog about over the last two months or so. I have been busy with a number of big site projects – some that were the most complicated I have ever worked on ( to name one) – my proudest recent achievement.

I have also been busy with a number of home projects including re-painting, and a complete bathroom re-model. Since I seem to have so much free time – I also decided I needed to get a dog trainer to come in and train our dog Colby once a week and then work with him to make sure he is the polite dog I know he can be. I am looking forward to a few days of down time in the near future, but things are going to get crazy again because we are expecting twins in the spring! I do however plan to be more active here because I have learned so much over the past two months – there are plenty of cool hints and tricks to add.

For all you who have been asking questions and leaving comments about my Jappler menus – I am about to redo those so hang tight!

Random Fridays: The Raccoon Fight

Last night, about 1-2am I woke up to alien like sounds. First there was some hissing, then some clicking, and then some noises that sounded like cicadas almost. I was very disoriented and had no idea what was going on. After waking A up to see what she thought it was, she told me it was a raccoon fight.

The noises they make are so bizarre – I cannot even really duplicate them in any way. I do not know how many were out there but it sounded like there were some fighters and a posse. If this happens again tonight- I am going to have to record the audio…it was so wild!

My Boy Colby

Colby StretchingHere is a picture of Colby from this morning while he was stretching. You can see how big he is – and how much longer he is compared to Triscuit. We are working on getting some weight on him so he will be a bit more filled out but overall he is a very happy boy. He has shown a little stubbornness with moving, going down stairs, etc – but he is great around Evan and is extremely laid back. Last weekend some of our friends came over with their two greyhounds and all of them had a good time running around in the back yard and getting to know each other. We plan on getting some of his races on DVD so in the near future – if you want to see him run (as well as Triscuit – we are going to try and get some of her videos too) let me know. 😉