Baby L. is a . . .

We had our 20-week ultrasound yesterday. It’s called an “anatomy scan,” because the techs looks at the baby from top to bottom – measuring limbs; looking at the heart, brain, and kidneys; looking for feet and hands; looking at the baby’s face. If you choose (and the baby cooperates, which ours almost didn’t!), you can find out the baby’s sex.

And so, meet Baby BOY L.:

In case you’re like me, and ultrasound photos look like Rorschach tests, his head is on the right.

Now, it’s on the fun task of agreeing on a name!

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July 28, 2011 at 6:22 pm Leave a comment

Baby’s first gift

Back Story

In my late twenties, I suffered from a rare endocrine disorder called Cushing’s Disease. I had a non-cancerous tumor growing on my pituitary gland (the gland sits right underneath your brain, and secretes hormones that control the adrenal glands, liver, and thyroid glands, to name a few). Because of this disease, I gained over 80 pounds; had high blood pressure; high blood sugar; depression; acne; insomnia; bruised easily; thinning hair; and stopped ovulating and menstruating.

After four years and three doctors, I finally got a diagnosis. While waiting for my surgery date, I passed out. No cause could be found, and I was sent home from the E.R. Five days later, I passed out again, and was diagnosed with massive bilateral pulmonary emboli (massive blood clots in both lungs). Surgery was postponed while the clots cleared.

I finally had my surgery, and after two long, hard years of recovery, I was cured. I lost the weight, my blood pressure and sugars returned to normal, the depression went away, my skin cleared up, I slept normally, and my menstrual period returned, though I really had no way of knowing if I was ovulating again. Until I got the positive home pregnancy test this April.

I posted my story on my Cushing’s support forum on Facebook. I got many good wishes, and a kind woman in the group sent me this gift:

A stuffed puppy dog, and a hand-knit blanket in white and shades of yellow. The blanket was made by the women’s 84-year-old mother.

The woman is a member of the Cushing’s support group because her son has Cushing’s. The woman started the only group in the world dedicated to Pediatric Cushing’s: http://www.jfcainc.com/

And I was just amazed that, though I never mentioned the theme of the baby’s room, it fits perfectly! We’re doing a puppy theme (see previous post), and will be decorating in shades of green, chocolate brown, and yellow!

July 24, 2011 at 4:16 pm Leave a comment

We have a nursery theme!

I’ve been trying to decide how I wanted to decorate Baby’s nursery. I made the mistake of just randomly searching Google Images for nursery theme ideas. Whoa overload!

So, I started thinking of things that interest D and/or I. I thought a ballerina theme would be cute for a girl (I took dance lessons until I was 16), but everything was PINK — and I hate pink. And I wasn’t a huge fan of the train-themed boy nurseries.

Then I saw a puppy-themed nursery. It was blue and brown, definitely a boy’s room. So, after days of searching Google, I found this gender-neutral, puppy-themed nursery on RoomZaar.com:

Green is my favorite color, and I love the chocolate-brown stripe. I was thinking of white and pale yellow as accents as well. Like this (I love Behr.com!):

So, I’m not sure what to do first: find bedding, and match the paint to that?

We’re probably going to get solid-color crib sheets, rather than special dog ones (since I can’t find any puppy paw-print sheets that I like), and stencil paw prints on the walls, as in the photos, hang photos or paintings of dogs on the walls, and maybe hang a shelf and place stuffed dogs on it.

July 8, 2011 at 12:28 am Leave a comment

Your dog’s place in the pack

It may not come as a surprise to those who know me that I am not a fan of “dominance theory,” Cesar Millan, etc. He advocates for outdated training practices designed to intimidate. Those practices are outdated because they were based on flawed studies of captive wolves forced into a pack. Current research is done on domestic dogs, and has found that dogs learn more quickly, and retain what they learned longer when they are trained with positive reinforcement.

But, this post isn’t about training methods. If anyone is interested in learning more, please comment, or contact me privately (see the About page). This blog is to help dog owners who are concerned that their dog will assert its dominance over their new infant.

I tend not to use words like “alpha,” “dominance” and “submissiveness.” Dominance is variable. Someone may be “dominant” over their child, but submissive to their boss. The same is true with dogs.

Dogs know that we are humans, not dogs, and do not recognize us as “alpha” over them or as part of their pack. They understand that we are in charge when we regulate their access to resources such as food and toys, and implement training methods like “Nothing in Life is Free” (aka, NILIF).

So, how do you help your dog understand that your new child is “in charge”? It’s not really possible as an infant. But once your child is able, have the child help you feed the dog (but always making sure that your child NEVER bothers the dog while it’s eating), giving commands that the dog knows (and rewarding them when they obey), and helping with training new tricks.

Never, EVER, roll or pin your dog down. Dominance theorists believed that alpha dogs (and wolves) did this to correct their young, or to establish dominance in the pack. It is not true. Wolves and dogs only perform this behavior as a severe threat, when they intend to kill the other dog.

July 2, 2011 at 6:32 pm Leave a comment

20-week scan!

My 20-week scan (where we will *hopefully* find out the baby’s sex) is schedule for July 27th!

So, what’s your guess?

June 24, 2011 at 8:33 pm Leave a comment

Dog-dog aggression vs. dog-human aggression

Dog-on-dog aggression is NOT the same as dog-on-human aggression.

Let me repeat: A dog that is aggressive toward other dogs is NOT automatically aggressive toward people. You should NOT assume that because one dog goes after another dog that the same dog will also go after your child.

Obviously, that does not mean that you can leave your child/infant alone with a dog that has not displayed dog-on-human aggression. I have said it before, and I will say it again: NEVER. EVER. Under ANY circumstances, leave your child alone with ANY animal.

What causes dog-on-dog aggression? It can be nature, nurture, or a combination of both. Members of the terrier breed have higher instances of dog-on-dog aggression, though it’s not a given. Many terriers live happily with other dogs. Dog-on-dog aggression is seen in all breeds. A dog that is attacked as a puppy, and not properly re-socialized with other dogs can develop dog-on-dog aggression.

In most cases, dog-on-dog aggression can be faded, or managed. If you are dealing with this issue, please consult a certified behaviorist or veterinary behaviorist. Find one near you be searching:

June 21, 2011 at 11:46 pm Leave a comment

What is a “CGC”?

I mentioned in my introduction that my dog, Reese, is a CGC. The acronym stands for Canine Good Citizen.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) introduced the test (actually, a series of 10 tests) in 1989. The program was designed to show that dogs had achieve an advanced level of training. Once reserved only for purebred dogs, it is now open to all dogs, mixed and purebred.

The 10 tests are:

  1. Accepting a friendly stranger — the dog must remain seated while a stranger approaches and greets the dog’s owner
  2. Sitting politely for petting — the dog must remain seated while a stranger gently pets the dog on its head or body
  3. Appearance and grooming — the dog must remain seated while a stranger runs a brush over the dog, and examines its ears and/or paws.
  4. Walking on a loose leash — the dog must walk with the handler on a loose leash, making a right turn, a left turn, an about-face, stopping at least once during the walk (the dog need not sit during the stop) and one at the end.
  5. Walking through a crowd — the dog must walk on a loose leash through a “crowd” of at least three people. The dog may show interest in the people, but may not pull toward them, or jump on them.
  6. Sit, Down, and Stay — The dog must sit on command, lie down on command, and stay in place (either sitting or lying down) while the handler walks 20 feet away.
  7. Coming when called — The dog must stay in place (either sitting or lying down) while the handler walks 10 feet away, then calls the dog to him/herself. The dog must go to the handler.
  8. Reaction to another dog — The dog and its handler approach another dog and handler from a distance of about twenty feet apart. The two handlers should stop, shake hands, then continue on. The dog being tested should remain seated and may show some interest in the other dog, but may not pull on the leash, growl, bark, or snap.
  9. Reaction to distraction — While walking on a loose leash, the evaluator will create a distraction (drop a metal bowl, drop a chair, etc.). The dog may startle, but should recover quickly. They should not bark, panic, or try to run away.
  10. Supervised separation — The handler hands the dog’s leash to another person, and leaves the dog for three minutes. The handler should be out of sight of the dog. The dog need not maintain a sit or down while the owner is gone, but should not pace, whine excessively, or try to pull in the direction the handler left.

More detailed information on the CGC test located here.

Many training facilities and individual trainers offer CGC Prep classes. Taking such a class is not required to test for the CGC. However, they do offer the opportunity to practice for the test. The AKC website has a search feature to help you find upcoming tests in your area.

Why test your dog for CGC? It’s often a stepping stone for those who want to get their dogs involved in therapy visits, obedience competitions, or dog sports like flyball or agility. For owners of so-called “aggressive breeds,” it can lower insurance premiums, or possibly even allow your dog to reside in apartment buildings that otherwise prohibit such breeds. Training with your dog creates a bond between you. Dogs who go through obedience gain confidence, and trust their owners. Dogs who are formally trained in obedience are easier to live with, and respond better to commands.

Earning a CGC certification should NOT signal the end of training. Training should be a lifelong activity between you and your dog. There are always ways to make known commands more difficult, and there are always new tricks to learn. The mental stimulation involved in training is almost as tiring as physical exercise.

June 9, 2011 at 1:57 am Leave a comment

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