Tag Archives: dog

Twelve-Year Pugiversary

Joel and I were seconds away from meeting the dog that was advertised for sale in the local paper. As soon as Joel opened the door to the apartment complex, a then two-and-a-half-year-old Peanut* came trotting from around the corner of an open door and down the hall. “CLOSETHEDOORSHE’SESCAPING!” I yelled. Joel replied, “She’s fine, she’s not going anywhere.”

These would be the roles we would play as her parents for the next twelve years.

Peanut 5 4 04 Homecoming

Her first day on the job of being our best buddy.

I became the overly-protective fussy mother and Joel became the fun dad, the calming voice of reason and the guy she could count on for the “better” treats (certainly not healthier but generally better tasting).

Today we celebrate being a family of three for twelve years.


First family photo.

Much of last year was rough; we didn’t know if we’d reach this milestone. Peanut became very ill. Specifically, she had a MRSA infection and she continues to struggle with those original symptoms from last February which include nasal congestion that still varies in its intensity. Those issues were masking the effects of age that were obviously continuing to happen in the background–the arthritis and trouble that has evolved over time with a wonky wrist and shoulder. Our attention has since turned back towards pain management and mobility support. Now, her vision and her hearing have become rather limited as well.

To say that it has all taken its toll on me emotionally would be an understatement; it’s hard for me to see Peanut this way. Joel handles it much better than I do. He doesn’t like it either, of course, but I’m glad he can be strong when I can’t be. He reminds me that none of us have been cheated out of any time. Quite the opposite; we’ve had more time together than we thought we’d have. I realize this is all part of the journey but it doesn’t make it any easier to accept.

Arden Peanut Office Mates Then Now

My coworker has been sleeping on the job for 12 years and counting…

I’d love nothing more than to keep this post totally upbeat and fun, but over the past year I haven’t been able to help but think about what we’ve had to say goodbye to and the precious things we’ll never do again. However, it has made me cherish the unique, quirky, and intimate opportunities that come with loving and caring for a senior. Hide-and-seek has become me banging on the ground, pointing to treats, and pretending that she found them first. She is now hand-fed her meals from a cart because she has a hard time standing bent over and seeing food in her dish. Not all of it has been precious though, a lot of learning how to navigate and roll with the changes has been frustrating and downright heartbreaking.

These milestones have become more and more bittersweet.

I could never write a post that truly captures what Peanut means to me because it would never be complete. Heck, I wasn’t able to write this post, which looks nothing like the first few attempts, without crying my eyes out. I’d forever be writing and editing.

From whether or not she needs a coat to go outside, might be getting sick and needs to see the doctor, or has had one too many treats already FUN DAD, she tends to be what Joel and I end up squabbling over the most. She is, after all, our baby.

At 8:00 this morning, the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and the pug was snoozing peacefully at my side having just finished her breakfast. Joel and I will both leave work early so we can take a group stroll. It is all just as it should be and I am grateful. Happy Anniversary to us.




*The people selling her, the second set of owners, referred to her as Princess. According to some paperwork in her folder that we were given, the name on her registration papers is Pretty Pretty Princess. Joel and I both quickly agreed that we’d change it but keep it somewhat similar so as not to totally confuse her. She is peanut-colored, hence the name Peanut. Ironically, we found out shortly after giving her peanut butter-flavored treats that she was allergic to peanuts! Peanut and Pretty Pretty Princess are only two of the countless names we’ve called her over the years (most others being too silly or nonsensical to mention).

Peanut already had pups and was spayed before we got her. I suspect she was originally purchased and bred for a profit, then sold off to her second owners. Over the years I have tried to find our grandpugs with no luck. I’d simply be interested to see what they look like and learn more about them. Perhaps their parents would be interested to learn about Peanut’s health issues, too. Peanut is registered with America’s Pet Registry, Inc. Her mother (dam) is Accardi’s Blossom-Whynonna and her dad (sire) is Rowdy B. I believe the breeder was from Joliet, IL, first owner from Aurora, IL, and the second owners from Elgin, IL. Her date of birth is 12/24/01. If anyone has information on the offspring from a pug named Pretty Pretty Princess, PLEASE reach out.


The Tent-tacular Outdoor Potty Tent

Last year was one of the coldest winters on record with extremely heavy snowfall; I won’t soon forget it. As temperatures started to drop this past fall, I couldn’t help but fret about what winter would have in store for us this year and how it would take its toll on Peanut’s potty time. Considering how difficult the whole process was for all of us and knowing that her little body would be taxed even further with age, I really wanted to make this season easier to manage.

My first thought was to buy an outdoor dog kennel and cover it with tarps or boards. There was much discussion between Joel and I about the ideal size of the kennel, how much to spend, how much work it would involve, the likelihood of Peanut actually using it, etc. After all, we tried using a bottomless camping tent outside a few years ago but we believe she did not use it because she thought she was still indoors.

I searched craigslist often over several weeks to find used kennels that might fit the bill but we never found anything that stood out as the best option.  Just when I thought this project was not going to happen, Joel proposed boarding up the sides of a pole tent we already owned.

Our project was a go.

Joel in the completed potty tent

A fine-looking potty tent indeed!

It has been over two months since we built the potty tent. I’ll cut to the chase and share that it has been a complete success ! We could not possibly be happier with the tremendous relief from the hassles of winters past. Why?

No snow or ice!* 
No getting knocked over by high winds!!
Instant access to clear, odiferous grass!!!

What We Used

  • 10 x 10 pole tent
  • 9 sheets of medium-density fibreboard (MDF) 97 mm thick; 3’ x 11’ 7/8” (1.21m x 2.43m) These boards were not designed for outdoor use
  • 2-3 boxes of small nuts and bolts
  • Gorilla Glue
  • 13 wooden lawn stakes
  • 12 cable ties
  • Table saw
  • Center support board
  • Truck (rented to get the boards to the house since our cars were not large enough)

Approximate total cost: $180 (excluding the tent which we already had)

The following is based on using the materials above and Joel’s measurements for our particular tent.

Confirming our plan: We put up the tent and picked out what we believed would be the best spot. We considered the distance from the door to the house and direction of wind.

Preparing the boards: This was a weekend project that Joel approximates took about eight hours. This included cutting the boards down two feet each in length so that they would not be taller than the tent. Boards were placed flat on the ground and overlapped about one foot on either side. For our tent, this meant using three boards per side for a total of nine. Joel then glued the overlapped sections together so that he had three full sides for the tent. Lastly, he drilled holes spaced about ten inches apart through the overlaps so that he could add nuts and bolts for extra strength.

close up of tent boards

Close up of glue, nuts, and bolts.

Attaching the boards: We transported the three tent walls around to the backyard where the tent had been erected. With the boards propped upright against the tent legs, Joel drilled holes into the boards where they met at the corners (top, middle, and bottom). This is where we fed the cable ties through, securing the boards to each other.

tent pole corner

 Duct tape secures the tent frame. Cable ties (2 of 3 shown) secure boards at right angles.
Slight buckling is is visible after two months.

 Securing the tent: The last steps included pounding in the wooden lawn stakes. This was meant to help stabilize the walls with the buckling and movement we expected to occur from winds and general outdoor wear and tear. The stakes were added to both the inside and outside for stability and extra strength against wind.

tent and lots of snow

 Two outside stakes are visible. This has to be done before the ground freezes.

The potty tent was completed in the nick of time. It snowed that same weekend. We were deliriously happy that the tent remained completely clear, however, Peanut was not immediately sure what to make of it. We had to keep her in socks since she ambled in and out of the tent for several days. I later added two small leaf piles to the tent when I made the connection that leaves seemed to…inspire her. That’s all it took. Once she went potty in the tent, the rest of the snow-covered yard became completely undesirable.**

view from inside the potty tent

 View from inside.

After two months’ time, the boards have buckled a bit but it’s not bad. We made it a point to brush off any snow that would collect on the top of the tent because the cover is only a thin canvas material. Because we grew concerned about just how much snow the cover could take, we added a tarp over the tent draped down at an angle from our deck for added security. I’m not sure how we would have reinforced the canvas top if we didn’t have this option.

potty tent is holding up in extreme snow falls

View of inside. Several wooden stakes support the walls on all sides.

We’re delighted that the tent has provided an excellent barrier from snow and wind; it’s exactly what we hoped for and then some. The benefits we have all enjoyed have far exceeded the cost of materials and our efforts to build it. We don’t intend for this tent to be up year round, only for winter. It would be great if we could reuse these same materials, but if not, we will absolutely consider investing in sturdier components for future use.

Hopefully others who have similar problems can use this idea to create their own wintertime potty oasis!

Peanut in the potty tent

Peanut gives the potty tent two dew claws up!

*A little snow collected in the corners when winds were extremely high.

**Peanut also made the connection that being in the potty tent equaled treats. Because she is so food-motivated and a bit too smart for her own good, she would go in there and do somewhat of a curtsy while staring at me like she did her part and now it was my turn. We had to once again start rewarding potty anywhere she went outside, just so long as she knew that inside the tent area was also an acceptable choice.

UPDATE: My suggestion to anyone interested in researching options would be to also check out fabric sheds (aka temporary or portable garages) from big box retailers like Home Depot and Menards.

Read the reviews for various sizes. You’ll likely find mixed reviews that some did and did not hold up in high winds and snow; I think a lot of it has to to do with how the shed/portable garage is set up, secured, and maintained. If you want to set-it-and-forget-it you have to get something really substantial and durable. Read what some folks did to strengthen and secure the structures. Notice how our tent has a wooden board dug slightly into the ground, centered in the very middle and secured to the top/center of the tent, providing extra stability against high winds. 

The Dogged Battle of Frosty Paws

I was supposed to be enjoying a TV show with the mister but my mind was elsewhere. I was thinking about Peanut, our 11-year-old pug, and our ongoing dilemma of how to make going potty outside in the wintertime easier on all of us. Because our little gal insists on finding the perfect spot on which to conduct business, she often takes so long that her little pads get too cold and she gives up the quest before completing the job.

Tried and Failed
Long rolls of plastic grass over scented wee wee pads. I ordered an approximate 5′ x 7′ roll of outdoor synthetic grass that I was sure would be a home run for use during inclement weather.  I was going to trick Peanut into thinking grass magically appeared in the middle of the basement, thus making potty inside acceptable. She refused to step on it indoors and skipped right over it outside, conveniently placed over the snow. This may have worked had we started it years ago.
2. Large tent outside to block wind, rain, and snow. While the tent is plenty large enough for Peanut to trot around inside and select from a number of fine spots, my impression is that the tent walls make her feel like she is still indoors, and she knows that good girls go potty outside. Anyone in the market for a bottomless tent?
Boots  Each brand that we’ve tried (and we’ve tried A LOT) rotates around on her paws when she walks, causing her to trip and stumble.
4. Dog litter box  Again, this may have worked if she was initially trained this way. It basically became a treat box–jump in, get a treat, jump back out and wait by the door to go potty outside.

Last year we had some success using Top Paw dog socks. They are rather thin and not waterproof, but they afford a few extra precious moments that m’lady requires when trotting around on frozen ground in search of that perfect spot. The problem with the socks is that they fall off at least 50% of the time, necessitating us to go on sock-finding missions in the snow and muddy grass.

In an “if only there was a way to keep socks attached like mittens” train of thought, it occurred to me that I could try to keep the socks attached with mitten clips for children. Why not? Since I insist that our little pumpkin wears a coat* to cover her belly, it made sense that I could clip the socks to the coat.

I tried it. IT WORKED!

I’m not sure if we would ever need the socks without the coat, but while mulling over what else we could do to reduce everyone’s stress, I had a vision of body-length elastics with clips for socks or boots. Ah HA! Doggie suspenders! I don’t recall ever seeing such a product in stores. Surely I would have noticed something like that to help solve our dilemma. Completely impressed with myself, I was already envisioning fabrics, designs, and the most darling photos of Peanut on the little tags. With a flutter of excitement in my heart, I just knew that I was going to set the canine clothing and accessories world on fire!

…until the next morning when a simple Google search revealed that such suspenders already exist. Apparently others had this same wonderful vision and were able to execute their vision long before I. Good for them, shucks for me.

There appear to be some excellent canine suspender choices at reasonable prices available online. I have not placed my order however as the mitten clips are actually doing the trick. (I see that there are suspenders for use with dog diapers, too.)

Peanut Coat Socks

Instead of clipping and unclipping all four socks each time I need them on her, I leave everything attached to the coat. The coat goes on first, then I bunch up the sock (already attached to the clip and coat), place quickly under the paw, then pull up or roll up the leg. I keep another coat handy for the times we don’t need the socks.

Over time, and before we came up with the potty tent, we needed to supplement the resistance on Peanut’s right front leg. Because she has such a weak wrist, she would bend and drag off the sock. Resistance from either side helped keep her from walking out of the sock. However, we no longer use any socks since creating the outdoor tent.

suspenders usded for dog boot sock clips

Mitten clips not long enough for your bestie? Try cutting up a pair of suspenders and simply pin the straps to the coat. It’s easy to adjust the length of the strap required for the right resistance without any additional cutting. 

*My homemade coat (pictured above) is another idea I cooked up since not only was it a challenge to find a coat that covered the entire belly, it was, and still is, downright impossible to buy off the rack for the petite and barrel-chested.

July 17, 2015

The addition about the dog coat has moved. I’ve added those details and more here.