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Lame pup...WAY lamer veterinarian

(WARNING: SERIOUS RANT AHEAD…)

Yesterday, Ella injured her front left leg while we were out in Central Park. Ella grew tired of the Jack Russell Terrier who couldn’t decide whether he wanted to snap at her or sniff her, so she decided she’d rather say hello to his owner. She jumped up to greet him, he backed up a little, her jump was cut short by a taut leash, and she came down off balance and landed on her side.

The fall wasn’t so different than the other falls she has as a reckless puppy on a daily basis, but this time, she didn’t get up immediately. When she did finally get up, she came up lame, limping on her front left leg. We were very deep into the park at that point and it was a long way back home. I carried her as far as I could, but Ella’s getting big and momma’s got guns but even her arms of steel can only take so much. Anyway, mean momma made Ella hobble the rest of the way, and we eventually made it home.

I was hoping she’d rest it off, and that she was just scared and a little bruised, but today it seems she’s worse than yesterday. I tried to take her for a little walk around the block after work but she looked AWFUL, to the point I thought her leg was dislocated. On the verge of a panic attack, I scooped her up and brought her back inside so I could call her vet.

I called a little after 6pm and the office was already closed – I guess that’s my fault for calling “so late”. The answering service picked up, asked if it was an emergency (and panicked momma naturally said “yes” even though finding someone to calm me down was really probably more of an emergency than attending to Ella’s leg), took my number, and assured me she’d have someone call me right away.

That was 4-and-a-half hours ago. And guess what? STILL NO CALL!!!

I don’t care whether the underlying cause of Ella’s limp is simply a pine needle stuck in her paw pad, the job of a veterinarian…and the point of a messaging service…is to assess the situation and provide appropriate and timely care. I mean, what if her leg were broken? Is that not enough of an emergency to warrant a call back? Now, I don’t think it is broken, but the woman who took my message certainly didn’t ask enough questions to know that. What story should I tell next time I call that would elicit a response from this vet? A needle in the eye? A fish hook in the nose? Swallowed my razor? Ate 5 boxes of those chocolate peanut butter girl scout cookies? Would ANY of those work, do you think?

Well, all I know is I’m not sticking with this ridiculous vet long enough to find out. Truth is, this isn’t the first time I’ve been turned off by his practice…when Ella was 9 weeks old I was concerned she had kennel cough. I had just been in to see him a few days before, and he told me to keep an eye out for certain symptoms and call back if it worsened. The symptoms did worsen and I called back at 9am on a Saturday morning to get her in for further evaluation, only to be told by the receptionist that they were “really slammed” that day but I should call back Monday afternoon to try to make an appointment! Not only would they not make room for me that weekend, but she couldn’t even be bothered to schedule an appointment for me…I had to call again in a few days! Ridiculous.

So, here we go folks. This is one of the perks of having your own blog – you have the forum to tell the truth and the audience to listen! If you ever find yourself in NYC on the UES, avoid this vet (I know I will from here on out…):

Country Vets
Thomas DeVincentis, DVM, PC
430 East 75th Street
New York NY 10021
Ph (212) 535-3250
Fax (212) 744-6983

SHAME ON YOU!! How could you disregard this sweet face???




"My leg hurts momma...why won't the doctor call back?" *sniffle sniffle*



Anyway, first order of business tomorrow morning is to call a decent veterinarian and get Ella checked out. Fingers crossed it really is just a sprain…

Here’s a short clip of Ella’s little limp. I can’t really get any good footage of it while she’s inside. You can really see her favoring it when she's outside and scurrying along like a three-legged gimp...but you can at least see her hobble about with a sad pout...







A dog and her bone...

One of Aesop’s Fables is a tale about a dog and his bone…after receiving a bone from a butcher, the dog starts to hurry home with his prize, but runs into trouble when has to cross a bridge. While on the bridge, he looks down and sees his reflection in the water, mistaking his own image for that of another dog with an even bigger bone. So he opens his mouth, dropping his own bone to go after the bigger bone, only to fall in the water, struggle to swim back to shore, and end up with no bone at all. The moral of the story of course is that it is foolish to be greedy.

I’m not so sure that this classic fable really resonates with modern day pups. At least, I’m certain it doesn’t with Ella. First of all, Ella would never go to the butcher herself to get the bones – momma does that for her. Second, if Ella dropped her bone in the water, she’d look to momma to jump in and fish it out for her. And naturally, momma would. Third, if Ella did lose her bone, I think the photos below quite clearly illustrate that there is no shortage of back-ups. In fact, in this context, it would be foolish to NOT be greedy and take advantage of the opportunity to amass a personal fortune in bones.

Clearly Aesop didn’t consider the influence of doting and overly indulgent furparents when he originally wrote this fable. Maybe he didn’t anticipate our culture would ever evolve to this point, but I suspect that perhaps things weren’t so different back then, and Aesop just left out the part about the pup running back to the butcher with sad eyes and a cocked head, ultimately suckering him into giving him a replacement bone fit for a king. I find it hard to believe that even the ancient Greeks could resist the pout of a poor, wet, hungry pupper…














Remember I said that if Ella dropped her bone, she'd expect me to go fetch it? Well here's proof... (she's not spoiled at all...and I am not the least bit whipped...really. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to run...Ella has an itch and can't be bothered to lift her leg to scratch it...)







Ice Rocks!

After tonight, I'm wondering why it took me so long to give Ella ice. I'm certainly always looking for things she can chew on other than my hands, arms, hair, furniture, sweater, toilet paper rolls...little did I know that ice would not only distract her from all of those other things, but also provide endless entertainment for both Ella and myself! And, IT'S FREE!! (Makes me feel like a fool for spending so much money on those damn Kongs and bully bones...)

Anyway, Michelle Kwan and Kristi Yamaguchi can eat their hearts out...Ella puts on a far more dazzling ice show...

"So momma, how cold are we talking here? Why are you smiling that way?"


"I'm not so sure I trust momma right now but there IS something very irresistible about it."


"Let me just dip my toes in the pool first..."


"Maybe if I'm 'at one' with the ice...you know, Zen Ella."



"Oh, to hell with that zen crap. You betta back up, cube! I ain't no punk!"



"Ha! Now I've got you right where I want you, cube! You're no match for my killer puppy teeth!"


"D'oh! Brain freeze! FOILED!"



"Oh my God get it away! I can't take it! I can't take it!"

"Hurts so good."





Dreaming of my nikes...

I assure you that I did not set up this picture. I don't rule out that Ella staged it herself, though. Bitter that she didn't get the role of Cottonelle puppy, perhaps she's trying to create opportunities for upcoming Nike Shox ad campaigns. I wouldn't put it past her. I think all of the attention she gets on our walks is really going to her head. And I only feed into her ego further by constantly filming and taking pictures of her. I know she'd love nothing more than to be adored by millions.

Anyway, regardless of the underlying intentions, it's clear that she is having some sweet, sweet dreams about my sneaks...

"...mmmmm...the smell of that leather..."


"I can just taste those crisp white laces..."


"Momma, don't wake me up. I'm in the middle of a really good dream here and I'm not finished yet."


"Now, where was I? Oh yes...mmmmm those laces..."


"And there's nothing better than licking the bottom of those soles...oooh, except for when I sink my teeth into the tongue and thrash it back and forth like a rag doll...oh somebody pinch me this is too good to be true..."







Wild goose (duck??) hunt

Ella and I are currently in the routine of hitting Central Park twice a day for an average of about 90 mins each time (sometimes 2+ hours per walk). Momma’s EXHAUSTED (I thought I was in good shape before I got Ella – but not good enough. This is insane…). The jaunts are typically a balanced composition of walking, sniffing, socializing with other dogs, being stopped by random people who can’t resist Ella’s cuteness, Ella trying to dominate by sitting and refusing to move when she’s not the least bit tired, sprinting, jogging, and, recently, “stalking prey”. In Central Park, those prey consist of pigeons, squirrels, and geese…or are they ducks?

OK, look I don’t really know whether they’re geese or ducks which I know is ridiculous. And I’m a smart person, I swear. Geese have longer necks right? All I know is that when I lived on Long Island during graduate school, there was such a geese epidemic…well, really a geese POOP epidemic…that it became a public health problem and they were literally gassing them to death to try to resolve it. Awful. And they used to wander around the parking lot at my old apartment complex…but I must admit I never really studied the differences between those geese and the ducks I grew up with (not as pets, mind you…I’m referring to the ducks at nearby ponds in my community). Anyway, duck duck freaking goose, ok? Point is, Ella had a ball today going after anything with feathers and a beak.

So here’s a clip of her wild goose hunt on tonight’s walk. You’ll hear me call them geese on the vid…but in hindsight I think they were ducks. Look, it was pitch dark…and clearly in daylight I’d have trouble…again, NOT THE POINT, PEOPLE.

A couple of additional comments about the video…a) Sorry for my incessant sniffles…it’s still really cold here in NYC plus I haven’t gotten rid of my sinus infection yet, b) You’ll hear me refer to some crazy man who’s groaning in the background and distracting Ella…you can only hear a little bit of it in the clip, and just trust me on this one – LUCKY YOU – I SWEAR he was just jogging but those noises were obscene (and went on forever because he was “jogging” at a snail’s pace), and c) I didn’t get this on camera unfortunately – or maybe fortunately – but those ducks/geese left QUITE a mess behind in the end (hee hee…pun sort of intended). Ella scared the sh** out of them! Good girl Ella! ;)





Might as well play in comfort...

The life of a puppy is so strenuous.

Eat...chew...chase...bite...bark...chew...run...chew...jump...chew...I mean even with Ella's super puppy energy, she's bound to be a little tired sometimes...

Here's one rare occasion when she isn't quite at full speed while playing with her football. I think the coziness of the comforter soothed her just enough so that rolling around and letting out a few baby growls was about all she could manage. Even so, I think her devilishness shines through (and OH has she been a little devil these days...).

Enjoy...and if your ears are sensitive to squeaking, you might want to lower the volume...no matter how tired Ella is, she will never go easy on the squeakers...







Oh geez...NOT AGAIN!

My throat is KILLING ME. It even hurts under my tongue. And my ears aren’t much better. I’ve been living off of ice cream for days now (wait, maybe I shouldn’t complain about that). I just needed to run across the street to the store to buy some salt so I could gargle with warm salt water to see if that will relieve some of the pain since even my beloved thera-flu has stopped working. Ella was eating her dinner, and I was sure she’d be fine for just a few minutes…

Thing is, she probably would have been fine if I didn’t forget to put the roll of toilet paper way back up on the top shelf of the bathroom cabinet (I can’t keep it on the roll holder anymore…nor can I keep my hand towels on the towel bar…Ella cannot deal with the temptation).

This has already happened once before with the paper towels. And you wouldn’t buy it then that she was just practicing for an audition for a Cottonelle commercial…and I’m guessing you still won’t buy it now. And once again, I can't blame you.

And just to add insult to injury, I just gargled and that salt water didn’t help one bit. Can't momma catch a break? Sheesh...













Ella socializes with the stars!

Walks in Central Park are always an adventure, but this morning we managed to get in a photo shoot AND a little chat session with a celebrity! Not bad for a Sunday morning! First, the celeb sighting...

So, Ella and I were on the West Side by the 79th Street Yard just across from the Swedish Cottage. She had her eye on a squirrel and was poised to...well, let's be honest, poised to sit there forever and stare at it, aware that she's curiously drawn to it yet having no idea what it is...when we were distracted by the chatter of a father and his kids. I was just ready to give her a tug and move on when I looked up and saw him - Cameron Mathison, from All my Children and Dancing With the Stars fame! And let me tell you - he is STUNNING and I am quite sure that my face showed it. I was paralyzed in my tracks, deaf and mute, and I waited to see what would happen. Well, he brought his kids over - an adorable boy (i'm guessing around 6 or so) named Lucas (Luke) and a lovely little girl who was probably about 3 and timidly stood in the background and watched while Ella licked Luke's hand. They stayed for a few minutes to pet Ella (apparently Luke has a cousin named Ella as well - just in case you wanted to know), and as I was walking away, Luke carried on his conversation with me from afar, pointing behind me and saying "Hey! See that big building behind you?"..."Yes", I said..."Well my friend had his birthday party there!"..."Oh, well did you have fun?!"..."Yeah"...and meanwhile Cameron chuckled in the background. It was all just too cute. Anyway, Cameron was super nice and very friendly and open, and his children were adorable and so good around Ella, and although I'm sure he must have known I recognized him, I never commented on his celebrity. I never quite know how to handle those situations...I think he was waiting for me to ask for his autograph or something...but that's not really my style. Plus, truth be told, I could not remember his name!! I knew him from Dancing with the Stars but I don't watch soap operas so I didn't know too much about him. And what am I to say..."Um, so, I know you're SOMEBODY..."...uggh, how awful. Anyway, this was definitely one of the cooler celeb sightings I've had since living in NYC. And with the crowds Ella draws, I suspect there may be more of these in my future.

Anyway, in addition to hobnobbing with the rich and famous, Ella and I also took a little time out for a photo shoot which basically involves me bribing her with treats to sit and stay long enough so that I can get a good shot of her. As you can see, I'm rarely quick enough, but I did manage to get a couple good shots. The first shot below is my favorite - we're just on the north side of The Reservoir and you can see the skyline in the background...not a bad backdrop if I do say so myself...
















Worst game of catch EVER

I love Ella’s plush toys because they are safe and soft and perfect for a game of catch – in theory. But Ella has not yet learned (in other words, I have not yet effectively taught) the command “let go”, so often what starts as an intended game of catch turns into a tug of war. And since I try to avoid playing tug of war so as to discourage aggression, usually it means me sticking my fingers in her mouth to pry open her jaws of death to free the poor innocent furry toy. LOADS of fun.

This clip is a perfect example of a game of catch gone completely awry. After one reasonably successful catch, Ella was plum out of energy…then I proceeded to stack toys on her nose purely to entertain myself…then she manages to squeeze out one or two more decent catches before resuming her regular routine of biting the hell out of my arm…then I walk away in a huff.

Clearly we both need far more than just training…somehow I think puppy kindergarten may not adequately address all of our “issues”…





Saturday Slideshow - Special Edition

I've decided to entitle this weekend's Saturday Slideshow "An Ode to Sleep". I think most puppy parents would agree that, although we love our little ones all the time, we especially love them when they are sleeping. After all, if it weren't for their naps, when would we ever get a break? Plus, they look so sweet and innocent while they're sleeping (and we forget that sometimes looks can be deceiving!).

I affectionately call Ella the Energizer Puppy because she just keeps going and going and going and going...but here are some rare shots of my calm and sleeping bundle of joy.

I must admit that as I write this, I naively hope that one day I can post another Saturday Slideshow "Ode to Sleep" comprised of images of ME sleeping peacefully...see, I told you, totally naive and silly. Anyway, back to reality...

Enjoy the slideshow...and please keep your "awwws" to a low level...Ella's a light sleeper :)





Like a bird in a cage...

...poor Ella is imprisoned in my apartment and stares longingly out of the cracked window, dreaming of a better life...


"I'm only 13 weeks old...in the prime of my puppyhood...there's got to be more out there for me..."


"And YOU...YOU momma...all you ever say is "NO BITE", and you wipe me down with those cloths that smell like green tea after walkies, and you refuse to give me any of your ice cream...and you tell me it's all tough love and I'll appreciate it one day. Well I live in the NOW momma!"

"Still...those ear and belly rubs you give are nice...and I do love the kisses and free meals...but then again the sunshine and fresh air are calling my name! Man I wish my lil puppy brain were more developed because this is getting complicated..."





FREE AT LAST!!

OK folks, it's official. Ella has been given the go-ahead to walk outside! She had her 12-week shots earlier this week, weighed in at 17 pounds(!!), and the vet said it is now ok to take her out for walkies!!

Ok, so, maybe momma cheated and took her on a few walks in advance of this marker (rules schmules), but now I can do it without feeling guilty! Of course, while the walks may be guilt-free, they're not worry-free. Between the scum on the street (I'm referring to the dirt, crud, and feces - not to Eliot Spitzer and his working girl) and the questionably-balanced dogs ALL OVER the city, I'm a nervous wreck that Ella's going to take a paw in the eye or choke on a cigarette filter. But every furmother has to loosen the leash a little at some point (Don't be fooled though - I sweep my finger inside of Ella's mouth more times during the course of a walk than a CPR instructor demonstrating how to remove blockages). AND, not only do her paws get cleansed the second we walk in the door...her entire furry little body gets put straight in the tub EVERY time to make sure I scrub off whatever crap she's picked up along the way...

Anyway, we honestly have a hard time going more than 10 feet without someone - dog, human, or both - stopping us to coo at her cuteness or sniff her bum (usually the humans do the former, the dogs do the latter. Usually.) It's my goal to try to find a somewhat secluded place to take her so she can just focus on getting out some energy and enjoying the magic that is Central Park.

Here's a clip that was actually taken a couple of weeks ago (yes, yes, BEFORE she was "allowed" to go out) that I'm finally getting around to posting. We made our way to the Woodlands just west of Cedar Hill where we could wander along peacefully down toward The Ramble. Finally some time away from everything, off the beaten path...





We're both still recovering from the effects of Puerto Rico...

Well, I made it back from my trip to PR in one piece…but not one healthy piece. Ella and Grandpa also survived, although Grandpa’s hands and Ella’s behavior were both a little worse for wear.

I’m now far sicker than I was when I left, laid up with a virus and sinus infection, the severity of which I still can’t quite convey to Ella who has been a holy terror since my arrival home. After my second sick day from work spent constantly correcting her biting, chewing, and barking (Sleep? Why would I need sleep? I’m sure my doctor said that rest was optional as long as I kept pounding my meds) , she is finally starting to show some mild signs of remembering that she does not rule this roost. But I fear it will take another week or two to get her fully back on track.

She was, however, nice enough to help me unpack my luggage upon my return. As you can see below, she was totally on top of things.


The shot below requires a little explanation...I store all my old athletic shoes in my suitcase in my closet (sadly they don't get much use anymore, I don't have much closet space, and I rarely travel, so the luggage gets used for storage more than anything). Anyway, here she is in shoe heaven...

And below is a shot of Ella playing with her Wubba, her toy of choice while I was away. It was a pretty good choice for Grandpa too because he could hold onto one end, keeping his hands safely away from the other end that Ella was tugging on with her deadly puppy teeth.



And, as for my trip, I did manage to have some fun – albeit medicated fun – while I was there. And in case anyone was wondering what the answer is to the question I posed in my last post, thera-flu goes JUST FINE with pina coladas on the beach…

One thing for you fellow animal lovers to take note of...apparently they aren't so strict about the animal fighting in Puerto Rico. Here's a shot of a HUGE arena just up the street from our hotel. Anyone else find this odd and upsetting???


Anyway, on to less controversial sights and entertainment that I encountered in PR...
Here I am with my sister-in-law Carma who went on the trip with me, enjoying our firm's cocktail party and end-of-trip dinner on the beach...






Here I am on the left, preparing to go jet skiing..which, by the way, was the highlight of my trip. Forgive the closed eyes...I had to take off the shades so i wouldn't lose them when I caught air on the waves. And there I am on the right, a mere blur at my personal record speed of 42 MPH (I was mad I didn't reach the max speed of 45, but in hindsight, that was probably for the best...)




Here I am as a high-roller, playing the nickel slots in the hotel casino. I spent a whopping $6 and left with no winnings and an empty drink. My only consolation was that at least I knew I had a full bottle of thera-flu back in the room...




Here are some pictures of El Castillo de San Cristobal, a Spanish fort in Old San Juan. As you can see, the castle was cool, but the view of the ocean from the top was even more amazing. The best part of the tour in my opinion was this lizard who poked his head out of one of the windows...I'm not sure how he got in there, but I'm pretty sure he didn't have to pay the entry fee like we did...











And here's a short video that Carma took on the top of the fort...the most obvious thing you'll notice is the wind!! (As if my out-of-control locks in the picture above didn't already give that away...)


Here are a few shots of Fort San Felipe Del Morro (a.k.a. El Morro), a fort that overlooks the entrance to San Juan Bay. If you look really closely at the sky in the second row of pictures, you will see kites...there must have been HUNDREDS of kites in the air at El Morro. I don't know what was more amazing - the strength of the wind there, or the fact that so many people could keep their kites flying without a tangling of mass proportions.









And here I am...lighting the canon. God I'm funny. And original.



And finally, here are Carma and I, looking sweet, sunburned and tired, sitting in a swing outside of our hotel.



I hope you've enjoyed my brief holiday in San Juan, Puerto Rico...Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go take my next dose of decongestants and stop Ella from eating her wicker toy basket.

Ahhh...back to reality...