The Critters Of My Life Archive

Piecing Myself Back Together

Posted February 12, 2021 By kmarrs

This is late because I failed to write a post on Wednesday to schedule for the usual time Thursday, but I’m just going to let that be ok.

Physically I’m on the mend. I got an iron infusion on Wednesday so here soon I should have some blood. I already have more than I did when I went to the ER a couple of weeks ago. Not a lot more, but when I got labs done right before the infusion, I was up a tenth of a point. This means the mass amounts of B12 I’m taking is actually working. There was just no recovering from Covid without an infusion, no matter how much B12 I take.

Ziggy is doing better. We have hired a trainer to give him 4 private lessons. As of this point, he’s just had his third lesson, and while he still has work to do, he’s come a long way. He’s 95% stopped being aggressive and we’ve had the start of a breakthrough with the chewing on people to play and show affection. Again, we have work to do still, but I feel hope.

We had a setback for a couple of weeks there where despite taking him out hourly he was peeing in the house. But it didn’t seem to me like he was marking. It seemed like he legit had to pee all the time and couldn’t hold it any longer so he’d just stop what he was doing and pee where he was. So I took him to the vet so they could check for a UTI. While his pee looked clear and healthy, there was noticeable swelling still from when he was neutered a few weeks prior, so the vet went ahead and put him on antibiotics. And within a day he stopped peeing all over my house. After a week of taking him out hourly, and him not having accidents, we pushed things back to where we were taking him out every 90 minutes, and still, he wasn’t having accidents. We’re now on the first day of taking him out every 2 hours. Here in a handful of days, if he still isn’t peeing all over my house, we’ll inch it back to every 2.5 hours. Eventually, we’ll get to where he can go 6-8 hours without being taken out. I know it’s possible because he can make it overnight as long as he’s taken out at 9 pm and again at 7:30 am. That’s a long stretch and he does it well. I am taking it slowly during the day though because while he’s a dog and doesn’t notice the difference between 90 minutes and a full 2 hours, he will notice the difference if we jump from, let’s say, every 2 hours to 4. I need him to have faith that we are aware he needs to potty regularly and we’re never going to fail to take him outside to do so.

I don’t think his previous owner was as thoughtful. While Ziggy is obviously housebroken, I don’t think he spent his first year of life in a loving and thoughtful environment. If he had, they would have trained him. I think they just bought a dog expecting it to be easy and then when they didn’t train Ziggy became a handful, and then when he was a handful he was abandoned. Now we have an energetic untrained dog with separation anxiety.

So we’re doing what should have happened a year ago. We’re loving him. We’re training him. We’re using positive reinforcement. He’s a good boy and we’re helping him be his best self.

Finally, a story to tie the physical health beginning of this post to the Ziggins update.

Ziggy tends to his momma at night when she’s going to bed. Her anxiety is at it’s worse then and he helps comfort her. But Zigs is aware that I’m not well and he’s very fussy about me. Anyway, when I got home from my iron infusion on Wednesday I sat down on the sofa with him and Sammy and I must have smelled different with that much pure iron coursing through me because he thoroughly smelled me all over investigating the difference. He’s a good boy and will make a good ESA.

Have a happy dog cuddling his grandmother.
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Struggles with Zachary

Posted January 28, 2021 By kmarrs

While this is a sweet photo between a girl and her dog, I wish it were the full story.

Ziggy is turning aggressive. He spends the bulk of his time as sweet as can be, but every now and then it’s like a switch has flipped and we can’t find the trigger, whatever it may be.

He started obedience training this week. I’ve paid for 4 private sessions so we can put our best effort into helping him be his best self. Hopefully we see progress, because if he continues to be aggressive I have to put the safety of my kids first. I love this dog and he helps Sammy feel safe and secure, but my kids are a bigger priority.

On the lighter side, while playing fetch with a ball doesn’t seem to be working, because he won’t return the ball, we’ve discovered that he’ll happily wear himself out chasing a lazer pointer so long as there are regular treats to catch for his effort. I’m hoping the exercise works to calm him. That would be nice.

We also learned he is good with other dogs, so the dog park will eventually be an option.

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Zachary

Posted January 21, 2021 By kmarrs

Meet Zachary! He’s high strung and mouthy but he’ll settle in. Need to train him out of chewing on people as a sign of affection. But it is affection and not aggression. So we’ll work with him.

So Zachy is a year old pretty much exactly. And whomever he lived with before did like zero training during the crucial training time.

He likes to chew on hands and arms to play and I need to break him of that. We’re responding like a hurt dog would, crying out in pain and going limp in the arm and it sometimes works. We’re also distracting with his favorite toy. But with the idea that he needs to play with people, we’re also teaching him fetch as a safe outlet for play with humans and a release of energy.

He is a chewer in general. We’ll work on that next. For now certain bedrooms are off limits and Sammy’s lovies are living on the top bunk.

He’s also having accidents inside. Of both types. He’s being taken out every 3 hours almost around the clock but we need to step it up to every hour or 2 as long as someone is awake. We’ll also start dispensing treats and praise when he goes outside. And shame him when he has an accident inside.

Then of course we’ll work on basic commands. I think I’m going to enroll him in obedience school. I was planning to train him at home, but I think we might need help. The catch is everything is closed because of covid. So we’ll work with him in the meantime and see what happens. I’d just really like him to learn leash manners and recall so the 9yo can walk him solo. That is a ways off but it’s a goal for the future.

We took on a challenge of a dog with special needs and I had an idea of that going into it. He’s a good dog and he means well, he just had bad humans before. I refuse to fault him for that even as I strive to correct him and train him. He’ll be a fine ESA dog with some work. He’s already made Sammy happier. So the future is bright.

I figure most the people in this house have special needs of one type or another. We all need a little extra help and love. So I have love and patience for a good dog that needs extra care. It’ll pay off in the end.

It’s like… ok…

My 13yo chews to stim. He used to chew on charging cords cuz good stim texture. Drove me crazy. But I discovered stim chews necklaces and keep him supplied (his current one is shaped like a sloth. Sloths are his current Special Interest.) and as a result he’s stopped chewing charging cords.

So I’m going to directly compare to the dog that chews. We’ll teach him not to chew humans and other things and we’ll keep him supplied in his favorite chew toy, and it’ll work out.

Both autistic kids and poorly trained dogs, while not generally comparable, do require extra patience and consideration as to how you can meet their needs safely. In this, there is no difference.

Please know 2 things.

1. I would not trade my 13yo for anything.

2. Unless this dog becomes aggressive and my kids are in danger, I will lovingly teach him better habits. And would not trade him for anything.

I love with my whole heart and unconditionally.

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Serotonin Boost

Posted January 14, 2021 By kmarrs

Sammy is majorly obsessed with snails. Just really seriously obsessed with snails. She is a Weird Girl with a capital W and I love that for her. Also, I have a local friend who breeds snails, among other things. So for a very small amount of money I was able to hook Sammy up with a couple of snails and an enclosure. Sammy had a serotonin boost this week that’s for sure!

(I gave them too much food. I’m still learning how much they eat. Don’t @ me with how much food is in there. When it starts to go bad I’ll pull what’s left out and give them fresh food but less.)

There are 3 of them in there. 2 adults and an adolescent. They are good little buggers. I’m rather fond of them myself.

Sammy spent the first couple of days terrified she’d do something wrong and kill them. Especially when they stopped moving long enough to sleep. But she’s mostly worked through that anxiety now and is really enjoying having them.

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Lucas has always had a thing for birds. So when he mentioned wanting a bird feeder, I did my job.

We offer 3 suet cakes, a tray of mealworms, black oil sunflower seeds, peanuts, and a regular seed mixture. Plus water.

It goes from mostly-completely full, to almost completely empty in about 24 hours.

So we diligently go out and refill it every day. This adds up cost-wise, but we are able to do so much bird watching and my Lucas is thrilled!

Rachel bought him a really nice pair of binoculars from a thrift store, and my dad cleaned them up real nice. I bought him a Bird’s of Ohio field guide so we can all identify what we see.

I’m buying bulk seed and mealworms from the Tractor Supply store, which is really the only way to buy seed. The suet cakes you can find anywhere for about $1.00-1.50 each. This adds up, but I can buy them here and there even just from the grocery store. The peanuts (raw and unsalted) disappear fast, but I can also buy those from the grocery store. Though I do want a source to buy them in bulk. It’s probably much cheaper that way. Anyway, we’re doing our best to manage the costs, as it is worth it. However, if anyone would like to kick some cash towards Lucas and his birds, here is my Paypal.

I’m going to be honest, this is Luke’s special interest, but most of us are enjoying it! As far as I’m concerned we’re going to maintain this year-round as long as we live here and probably at our next home too.

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The Collective

Posted March 8, 2017 By kmarrs

Sitting on my desk, is my third aquarium.  It’s a 5 gallon and it’s empty, save for being freshly planted.  I still need to cycle it, which can take a good month if not two.  But once it’s done I will have blue velvet shrimp in there.  I am, SUPER excited about this.  I’ve been wanting a shrimp tank for a while.

I tried to house them in my 20, but things went downhill when I got pneumonia 6 months back.  My tank was overstocked, so when I didn’t keep up on water changes, the chemistry went bad and the shrimp, which are super sensitive to these things, died.

But I learned my lesson.  Water changes every Friday or Saturday no matter what.  And it’ll all be ok.

Anyway, I’m piecing together the tank bit by bit.  I just got the plants in.  It’s scaped to be sort of  a full wild jungle feel.  They are in orderly rows, actually, but as they grow it’ll be more out of control.

There are five different kinds of plants in there.  Don’t ask me to name them.  I’m not good at plant identification.

I plan to kick-start the cycle process by adding ammonium.  I have it on order and it should be here sometime next week.  Then it’s a patient game of water changes and daily chemistry checks.  I’m not looking forward to it.  But if I don’t do it, the shrimp will just die.  So, I have little choice.

Once done I’ll buy 12 blue velvet shrimp and call them The Collective.  Because why not.

Meanwhile life in the 10 and 20 goes on.

The 10 gallon is now home to a nerite snail as well as my betta.  There were two snails but one of them died.  I’m not entirely sure what happened.  I know my betta was really upset about the invasion of the snails, but I’m fairly certain betta can’t hurt these guys.  I also upgraded the filer to a sponge filter, which is super exciting for my, and the betta both.  The flow of a sponge filter is much more gentle and betta prefer that.

The 20 gallon was out of control with its sunburst platy population, so I took them all back to the store.  Well, all but one.  I somehow ended up with an albino one, so I kept him.  That done, I was only at 68% stocked so I had the option of adding more fish.  I bought a pair of blue gourami.  Now they are male and female, but they are egg layers and the fish, snails, and filter will eat all the eggs, so I don’t have to worry about out of control babies.  I named them Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.

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