Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sadie Lou

Sadie Lou. Next month, we'll celebrate our one-year anniversary with our beloved greyhound. I hadn't planned on posting this until it was closer to the anniversary date and until I had taken some pictures to go with it, but tomorrow we're getting our new dog and I wanted to get my post about Sadie done first. And, quite frankly, if I waited 'til I had pictures, this post might never happen!

It's been a hoot having Sadie as our pet and seeing her change throughout the year. When she first came to us, she was very timid and mellow. She followed me around everywhere, driving me nuts honestly. If I got up to get a snack, she got up with me. I couldn't go anywhere without my little shadow, that is, until Steve got home. She quickly figured out who she loved most - the tall man who gave her lots of treats and spoiled her. She actually took awhile to figure out what treats were. She went right to the peanut butter-filled Kong, but when we offered her a dog biscuit she'd sniff it and walk away. It wasn't until after a visit to the vet's office and he gave her meaty, soft treats that we figured out that those were what to get for her. After she got used to those, we were able to re-introduce the hard dog biscuits and she gobbled them up joyfully. Now, she'll eat practically anything we give her (we don't give her human food except as a very rare treat).

It was good to have figured out what kind of treats to give her because we were finally able to help her know her new name. We'd had a hard time getting her to realize that we were talking to her when we called "Sadie!" One day at the farmer's market, we ran into a woman with two greyhounds who taught us how to teach her her name, but it entailed using a lot of treats. So we stocked up and did what she had told us and it worked! While I watched tv during the day, at every commercial I'd call Sadie's name. If she came, she'd get a couple bacon flavored treats. Every so often, I wouldn't give her treats when she came, just lots of loving. Within a couple days she was coming when she heard her name even if there wasn't the possibility of getting food.

Teaching her to recognize her name by using food inspired me to start teaching her a "trick". We'd been told that greyhounds didn't like to sit, so I decided to try to get her to lay down on command. I waited until she was really comfortable with her name and would come every time, without food. Then I started having her come to me. I had food in my hands and would let her smell the treat but not eat it. I'd knock the floor with my treat-filled hand and say "Down". Her nose would follow my hand and eventually the rest of her body would too. When she was down, I'd repeat the word and give her the treat. I was surprised that within two days she was doing it easily every time I said "Down". Again, I wouldn't always do the trick with food in my hand but would lavish her with praise and love each time. Nowadays, she'll go down without food, we just say "Down" and tap the floor.

Steve loved that I was teaching her this trick and wanted to take it further. Doing the same thing I had down with "Down", he taught her to sit. Who said greyhounds won't sit? She loves it! Oh, and she totally knows it's what she has to do before we give her any sort of treat. So, when she wants to eat something, she sits. One day, we were grilling steaks outside. She'd been sniffing around the grill and obviously was interested in what was going on. When Steve put the steaks on a plate and turned to carry them inside. Sadie ran in front of him, turned, sat down, and looked up at him with an expression on her face that seemed to say, "Look at how obedient I am, I'm sitting! Now, please give me some steak!"

Now that she has "Sit" and "Down" more or less mastered (she sometimes chooses to pretend she doesn't know what we're talking about), I've started working on "Roll Over". It's a toughie. I'm starting with "Over" and having her just roll over on one side. I haven't been very consistent but last night when I tried it with her, she did it the first time. She's so smart. Once she's really good at "Over", I'll work on the "Roll". I imagine it's going to be pretty humorous. *smile*

As the months have passed, we have gotten to see new sides of our Sadie's personality. She's definitely not shy and mellow, at least not as mellow as she was. She's still lazy, which is great, but she loves being active and playing, at least until she gets tired (5 - 10 minutes top). It took us quite a few months to get her to play with us. Taking her to the dog park was really helpful as she learned from the other dogs that balls were fun to play with. Now she loves to play catch with a tennis ball, play tug-o-war with the rope, and her special favorites are the toy ferrets and foxes with the squeekies at the tail and head. She totally spazzes when we bring out one of those.

She loves people, especially kids. When we take her walking and she sees a person walking towards us, Sadie's tail starts wagging slowly at first then increases in speed as the person gets closer. By the time they are by us, her tail is wagging so hard her whole back half is shaking. Also, her teeth start chattering. This only started in January and really took us by surprise. It's the cutest thing! She chatters anytime she's really excited about anything. Like seeing my mom. After Steve and myself, my mom is probably Sadie's next favorite person in the world. She also has a special attachment to my nephew and niece. They stayed with us last summer for a week, shortly after we got Sadie. Poor Sadie was really depressed for a day or two after they left. I think she feels like they are a part of our pack and is happier than ants at a picnic when we're all reunited.

After months of taking her to the dog park, Sadie has finally accepted that the other dogs are worthy of her attention. We were told that greyhounds, having been raised solely around other greyhounds, didn't recognize other breeds as fellow dogs at first. For a long time, Sadie would completely ignore the other dogs at the dog park and go straight to the humans for what she deemed her rightful love and admiration. Eventually, though, she started playing with the dogs, too. She is especially interested in other black dogs. Sadie rarely barks (unless Steve is provoking her or I'm teasing her by not throwing her beloved ferret when she wants me to), but if she wants to play with a dog (especially a black one) and it isn't responding to her, she'll start barking at it, urging it to come run with her. She's become quite a friendly, outgoing animal.

Before we got Sadie, I was kind of nervous about getting a dog, especially a bigger dog. I knew it would change our lives and I sometimes panic when given too much time to think about changes. There have been some annoying moments in the past year (when she started eating our chair rail around the kitchen, etc.), but I wouldn't go back to our life without Sadie. She is part of our family, our pack. She has brought us a lot of joy and laughter, and when Steve was working late into the night or gone for work, she was such a comfort to have around. We became snuggle buddies. I love that dog.

Like last year, I'm kind of nervous about getting a second dog, but if he brings us even half the joy that Sadie does, he will be a great addition to our home. We found out yesterday that we'll get him tomorrow night! I'm excited and nervous but am really interested to see how Sadie handles the new addition. Fortunately, he's male, so it should help alleviate any dominance problems, and he's black - her favorite color! Yep, we're going to have two black greyhounds! I'll let you know how things are going once we've had him for a bit.

Wish us luck!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Shrinking Feet

Who knew that one of the results of losing 180 lbs would be smaller feet? Certainly not me.

I don't buy shoes very often; most of the shoes I own have resided in my closet for many years. I noticed that I had to tighten my Chaco's a little, but otherwise there didn't seem to be any difference in how my shoes fit. Oh except one relatively new, very darling pair that I gave away because they wouldn't stay on - I just thought I hadn't properly tried them on before buying them. Turns out, my feet had lost a lot of weight, too, I just hadn't realized it until a couple weeks ago.

Steve and I had eaten at a restaurant in downtown Salt Lake and decided to walk to the newly opened City Creek mall to check it out, since we were so close. As we walked around, I spotted a Clarks store. I used to give my mom a hard time about wearing Clarks shoes because they looked like grandma shoes, but she swore that they were so comfortable that it was worth their less than appealing looks. Well, lately, she's been showing me her new Clarks shoes and they have been really cute. I've been wanting good sandals that were cute and comfortable, so Clarks seemed like a good place to start. We went in to see if any caught my eye.

I found a really great-looking pair and wanted to try them on but had to wait a bit since the two employees were extremely busy helping other customers. While we waited, Steve and I played with the foot sizer. I hadn't seen one of those contraptions since I was a kid, so I felt like a nine-year old again as I fitted the sizers around my foot. Turns out that instead of being a size 9 like I expected, my feet are now size 7 1/2 to 8! I was surprised. Putting my faith in the sizer, those were the sizes I requested when approached by the salesman. The 7 1/2 were a tad small and they didn't have an 8 in-stock, but I ordered them to be delivered to my house after trying on a few other sandals in that size. That same weekend, I bought two other pairs of shoes - both in size 8s. They fit great!

Steve thinks it's funny that the big (to me) change in shoe size has affected me so much. I guess part of the reason is because I vaguely remember being a size 8 years and years ago, and it amazes me that I never really noticed that gradual enlargement of my feet as the rest of me grew bigger. I'm baffled that I could wear my size 9 shoes since losing weight and not notice how much they didn't fit. Today is the first time I wore one of my old shoes since buying my three size 8s. My feet are miserable; slipping and sliding all over the place as I walk.

I guess this means that this Fall I'll be buying new cold weather shoes! Woohoo!

Three and a half years after my surgery and almost 2 years since reaching my target weight, and I'm still having little moments of "Wow!" about my new body. They are so nice to have and really help keep me motivated to maintain my current weight.

Again, who knew that feet lose weight too?

Weird. But cool.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My Dress

Today I wore my wedding dress to school/work.

I love how I feel when I wear this dress. I feel very feminine in it, beautiful even. It gives me a smaller waist, accents my assets, hides my chubby knees (which I've become mildly focused on lately with short and skirt season), and shows off my slender calves and ankles. I've always had a thing for white eyelet fabric, so I burst through the ceiling when I saw the simple summer dress in white eyelet on the rack at JCPs last year. My cousin Cassie, who was helping me with my Spring shopping needs, teared up when I put it on. She knew what I knew as soon as I had seen it. This was going to be the dress in which I married my Steve.

And that is the real reason I love this dress. When I wear it, I feel the tangible reality of the love I have for my husband and the love he has for me. It's another reminder of the promises we made to each other a year ago this month. It brings a flood of memories of that wonderful morning; getting dressed before heading to the ceremony, stopping at the floral store to grab a single gerber daisy to act as my bouquet, looking into Steve's eyes as we said our vows, feeling like my heart was going to explode from happiness.

A year later and my life has lived up to the promises of that somewhat chilly April morning. Our love is evolving, growing. I'm often amazed by how comfortable I am with sharing my whole self with him. With that comfortableness there has come a wonderful sense of security and peace. I know that he loves me despite, or sometimes because of, the things that I perceive as weaknesses or flaws. And yet, I know there is still so much to discover about him and about us. It excites me to know I have a lifetime to spend with him and I know that anything that happens in this life will be better because he is by my side.

My wedding may not have been what I thought it would be (though it was what I had always wanted it to be), but my marriage has been better than I could have ever imagined. I may not have the typical wedding dress, but I love that I can wear it again and again. I don't wear it so much that it has lost it's special-ness, but I am so happy that I can wear it on an ordinary day and feel the extraordinary feelings from that wonderful day almost one whole year ago.

Monday, April 02, 2012

March Updates

Another month has passed along. Was it just me or did March fly by? The days sometimes seemed to drag into eternity (especially during some classes) but the weeks sped by at lightspeed. Now it's April and March is such a blur that I can't really remember what happened a few weeks ago. If I remember correctly, I had a pretty good month, all in all.

School. School was crazy this month. Both of my in-class professors (Jim and Sandy) are retiring at the end of this semester and Jim is trunky to the extreme. It didn't help that Sandy (Jim's wife) is having health conditions that seem to be impairing her mental abilities and ended up being replaced for my class. They've both missed so many classes that we're behind terribly and schedules for both classes have been so messed up that it's been hard to know what needs to be done and by when. For me, this is the ultimate frustration, and I was feeling pretty stressed. Fortunately, last Thursday, both Jim and Sandy's replacement spelled out the last two weeks of classes, so I can plan my school work and get things done in a timely manner. My online class is all but over, thankfully. I'm weeks ahead of schedule and just need to turn in the assignments and take the final test. To top everything off, I spent the month studying for the GMAT, the entrance test for the Masters of Accounting program, and took it at the end of the month. I did okay and am relieved to have it behind me. This month, I'll focus on finishing the last two weeks of the semester and applying for the Master's program.

Summer Trip. We got a healthy tax return this year and have decided to apply it to our Alaskan cruise. So, we have it all paid off and now just need to prepare for the trip. This week, if I can remember, Steve and I are going to get passports. Mine doesn't expire until next year but I need to get it renewed now because of my  name change. Steve doesn't have one. I'm not really sure we'll need passports but we are docking in Canada at least once, so it wouldn't hurt to have them. Plus, they're good for 10 years and we hope to travel quite a bit, especially once I finish school. We also want to look at the port activities and choose one of two for each port and hopefully pre-purchase them (I didn't know we could do this but Steve says he saw it online). I'm really excited for the trip, it's our unofficial honeymoon.

Journaling. Took a big nose dive this month. I still wrote in my journal but nowhere near daily - more like once every few days. The problem has been reading vs. journaling. Reading won more times than not. It's not like they're mutually exclusive events; I could journal the day quickly then read for a little bit. Nope, when I reach for something to do before turning off my bedside lamp, lately it's been my Kindle. I plan on making a more concerted effort to journal daily again in April. Fingers crossed.

Exercise. The highlight of the month, for sure! March blessed me with several days warm enough for bike riding and I took full advantage of each opportunity. I've concluded that I'm not a runner. I don't mind jogging for a bit, but I'll never be a distance runner. By distance, I mean anything over a mile. Bike riding gives me all the pleasures I get from running (bodily exertion, wind in my fair, faster travel) and is more enjoyable to me. Between walking the dog and riding my bike whenever possible, I managed to accomplish my 100+ miles of exercise for the month and shed the pounds I gained from the holidays and having my band too loose. Yay! Once I'm finished with school, I plan on walking Sadie a little longer in the mornings and still going on a bike ride (or even two) every day. The afternoon walks will actually be shortened a bit because the dog doesn't do well in warm weather. She drags like Julie being taken away from the chocolate store.

March exercise totals: 1656 minutes (27.6 hours), 117.6 miles of walking and biking (both indoors and out)

Other. I spent some good times with family and friends this month. We took a nice trip to Cedar at the beginning of my Spring Break and I managed to have lunch with a few friends I hadn't seen in awhile. And then, last weekend I got to see another good friend and her boyfriend.  Plus, we have friends who host dinner at their house every Monday for all their friends and we were able to attend a couple times. We're blessed with good people in our lives.

I chose to end the month, and get a jump on April Fool's Day, by spending too much time sitting in the sun sans sunblock Saturday, the 31st, and ended up getting a nasty sunburn on my arms, knees, and neck. I loved feeling the warmth of the sun's ray's on my almost-always-cold body so much that I totally forgot about the ill-effects of doing so unprotected. Turns out, we don't own any sunblock, so it's going on the top of my shopping list! Despite the sunburn, I had a marvelous last day of March; lots of time with Steve, baseball, shopping, and good food. If only every month could end so nicely.

Here's hoping for a wonderful April!

P.S. Did anyone do anything for April Fools Day? I didn't, sadly. I think I'm hanging up my hat on this one for awhile. Ran out of ideas. Maybe next year.