Pupdates

Pupdates, or updates on my pugs:

20067186_1086612588135377_5488130758679724032_n

Mavis – So if any of you have been religious followers all the way back to when I first got Mavis, you’ll know that I had been training her once upon a time to be my service dog. Well fast forward a year later and I am once again working on just that, but this time with a trainer from Service Dog Express. I think that it is possible to train your own service animal, but I also think that it can prove quite difficult to stay on track when you are on your own. This month Mavis has met with the trainer twice and we learned how to properly walk her so that she is right at my side and focused on me. We’re working on sit and stay as well as door commands currently and our homework for this week is to play hide-and-seek with her so that it simulates her getting help if I need it. Our biggest challenge is Eleven. Eleven likes to constantly be the focus of attention and additionally loves to harass Mave, which makes it hard for Mavis to concentrate with a jumping bean by her side.

19933127_1484621514917664_8168096957319872512_n

Mavis also has enjoyed trying out a funky hairstyle: pawfectly pink! She will be attending Pug Prom on Twitter this weekend, so we had to see about trying a new look for her date Dug. Keep an eye out on her instagram and twitter because photos are definitely happening.

19765073_319578508491608_8830682279333330944_n
Eleven’s first pawdicure – Baby blue, which lasted all of 2 minutes!

Eleven: This month Eleven turned six-months-old! Six-months already!? Time has flown as my wee little baby is gaining confidence each day and catching up to her sister on size. We are trying to train Eleven to be more controlled in addition to Mavis because at home and when we go out as a family of four, it really will be a group effort. She has lost all of her baby teeth now and we are working on building her confidence as she is insecure around the unfamiliar.

19534902_1902093803392420_8066598436209688576_n
I’ve been drooling over this Betsey Johnson backpack for awhile now..

Well that’s it for now!

xo

-Cass, Mave & Ele

Let’s Talk

Gemma Correll has inspired me to talk about something that is a heavy topic for most people: mental health (how amazing are these images she drew up for Mental Health America?). Just this morning I had a panic attack which includes an endless cycle of “I have so much to do” and “why even bother, nothing I do is good enough.” I often have these all-or-nothing thoughts and it’s extremely difficult to break this repeating cycle. In planning my upcoming wedding, I have been overwhelmed with self-loathing thoughts: “no one will want to come” and “no one cares enough about me to be by my side,” but the truth is I do have wonderful people on my side. It may not be one-hundred, fifty, or even twenty people there to support me, but the people who are there, are the ones I WANT there. Those who love me unconditionally and understand my struggle with physical and mental illness and YET (yes, yet) still WANT to be involved in my crazy life; Those who are in my court through not only my ups, but my overwhelming lows.

I have struggled with major depressive disorder, anxiety, social phobia, and PTSD for years now and so many times I have felt ashamed, that I must hide these mental illnesses from society. [I think that] They will judge me, thinking “that girl is crazy”, “I don’t want to be around her”, or “she may snap at any moment”. The fact is: loads of people suffer with these issues of feeling inadequate at what they do. We are told not to express these emotions because we will appear weak and vulnerable, but holding on to them is what makes us weak and vulnerable in the first place!

I will honestly say that my anxiety is becoming unmanageable. I have tried so many different medications in order to feel more relaxed, but the ones that work are too sedative and/or they don’t last long enough; because of this, it is time for me to go to the next measure: a service dog. It was suggested to me in 2015 that I should obtain a dog for support (whether it be a service dog or a ESA) by my psychologist; I have always responded well to animals and grew up with a full house of five main animals (and some of them had various litters!). My pets have always gotten me through the struggles through the years: I grew up in not so favorable situations. I was abused as a child and the victim of severe bullying (this went on for over six years). I often spent my days hiding inside when I wasn’t forced (I begged to be homeschooled) to go to a school (and take the bus which was just as horrible if not worse) where I was constantly harassed. My only safe place was in the comfort of my own bedroom with my furry friends and dolls; even then I was tormented by my older brother and cyber stalked (even after I moved away from the hell of Newport, North Carolina) by the same cruel people I went to school with. These cruel girls thought it would be so “cool” for them to go to my social media platforms and save my photos so that they could go back and forth on Photobucket saying how ugly I was and that I was just a fat poser. I never understood the cruelty I received. I was brought up in a Christian household and taught to treat people like you want to be treated. I truly believe I have upheld this moral and proceeded through life with honest and compassionate intentions. I never bullied anyone, not even those who bullied me. I put my faith that God would lead me to a successful life, rich in love, which I have now obtained.

I got Mavis in March of 2016. After years of wanting a pug and a dog of my own, I finally received the gift of a lifetime in the form of this spunky, curly-tailed girl. I began training her at 3 months as a service dog, but with the stress of finishing my last semester and my first hard break-up, I took a [much too long] hiatus from the weekly training. Now that I somehow managed to graduate from Texas Tech and my heart is mended and found love, I am ready to get back on track! I want to use Service Dog Express to train Mave and get her into tip-top shape for her aiding in my life and the public access test (the test Service Dogs must pass before being deemed certified). I know anxiety will continue to play a big role in my life (although I wish it wouldn’t) and I’m tired of being afraid to go into public alone. I truly believe that I may have a shot of living a healthier life with her by my side. If you would like to get involved with our campaign, YouCaring is donating $500 to a fundraiser: It’s completely free, quick, and easy to do:

Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 5.27.27 PM18922127_205958323259465_5343644925916606452_n

Here is an example done by the wonderful Caleb (aka my fiancé) and my darling girl, Mave. This took five minutes to draw and take, so it’s super easy and affective. #SignedwithLove & @youcaring is all you need to include on your post! The opportunity to help will pass soon as it ends on JUNE 14TH.

or if pictures aren’t your style…

You can purchase one of the many cute clothing options available featuring “Mave Saves” on our Bonfire. The sales remain until JUNE 29TH.

Don’t want a hoodie or tee?…

The last option is to make a donation! You can do this through our Youcaring with a no end date or through our Paypal!

Here is our links: YouCaring, Bonfire, Paypal, & Facebook Page.

• • • • •

Struggling getting through the day? Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) if you need someone to talk to. We’re here for you, 24/7. 💚📲

Never give up ladies and gentlemen.

You are so much more than your illnesses and we need to fight together to end the stigma!

xo,

Cass & Mave

SaveSave

Originality

Some of my past readers may have noticed that I “revamped” my blog and change a few thing around, but that doesn’t change the fact that this my personal blog and I use it to talk about my struggles with severe depression and anxiety, my Chiari Malformation diagnosis. I think most people are terrified that they are alone and so if this can give my readers a sense of unification or understanding, then my job is done.

So many things have occurred since I last chimed in. First of all, I have a “new” position at the same job as a dog bather. I basically wash and deshed (which is a number of hair removing techniques),  brush teeth, clean ears, brush out, remove mats, and give pawdicures to lovely (mostly, although some are plain assholes) little and HUGE doggies. I like this position better because I don’t have to put as much stress on my neck and back as I did as a playroom attendant. I also feel like my job does have purpose. I got to make an adoptee Dalmatian mix all pretty in hopes of getting adopted and a freshly adopted Chow mix a deshed and brush after being severely neglected. My shift hours are also amazing for my chronic pain. I work 10 am – 3:30/4pm, which gives me enough time to sleep in and prepare myself for the shift and also allows me to have time to relax and unwind when I get home. I usually come home and lay on my heat pad for a couple hours. I work Monday-Friday, which is great, as well, because I get the weekend off to spend with my mom, but also having a schedule is good for my depression and anxiety.

I have slacked off a bit in Mav’s training, but we have come LEAPS and BOUNDS since my last post. I had a severe major depression episode and was completely upset after having some really hard personal news hit. I was shaking and wishing that I was not here. I finally let Mavis out and she immediately came over and laid on my upper arm by my face and just stayed still. I didn’t teach this to her at all, but she knew that her mom needed her help. She did so amazing and I felt like all my training had been justified. I also took her with me to a psychologist appointment and she did wonderful! She remembered her blanket commands and sat on her blanket and ignored the door opening! She had little slip ups in the hour long appointment: barking at a plant, falling asleep, and being a little restless. She tooted and snored in the room and my therapist couldn’t help but laugh.

I’ve been trying to cope recently with my chronic pain and anxiety. Today was very difficult in terms of pain. The back of my head had a weird pressure feeling right where my cerebral tonsils are (where my surgical incision is). I also had bad neck and back pain and weird muscle cramping. I thought about asking to go home early, but stuck it out. I got home and used my heat pad for about two hours straight. Tomorrow I am heading to Lubbock for my cousin’s wedding and will be taking my best little pug with me. She won’t be going to the actual wedding because she isn’t that ready to be in public. I get very anxious around event like these. A lot of people make me extremely anxious and then also being judged around family is a worrisome of mine. Hopefully all goes well.

Thanks for staying with us!

xo,

Cass & Mav

Mavi’s Must-Haves

Mavi's Must-Haves

 

animated_pink_heart_divider_by_gasara-d5hgo0z
When first deciding to get a puppy, it can be quite difficult to determine what he or she needs and what will make life easier for the both of you. I made a list of items that I ended up purchasing for Mavis and will reveal what has and hasn’t worked.
animated_pink_heart_divider_by_gasara-d5hgo0z
Crates and Beds
Puppies are so full of energy and deciding where they are going to sleep and be during most of the day needs a lot of analyzing. For Mav, I bought a small pink crate for the purposes of a comfy sleeping place and for potty crate training. Most people discipline their puppy with crated time outs, but it’s important that the puppy associates the crate with more than just a form of punishment. We want puppy to recognize that the crate is a safe place that they can go to relax. That’s why I put it in a comfortable space next to my bed (being in a familiar area, not secluded is key). Mav doesn’t get nearly as upset when she can see her momma and knows I’m close by. When choosing the size of the crate, of course, you want to accomodate the puppy’s growing size, but you also need to consider if the crate is going to be where you leave the puppy when you are not home. If it is, then the crate should be placed in a gated off tile-floored area, especially if you are gone for several hours. This way, your little one can potty, get water/food, and play while you are out of the house. Upon brining Mavis home, I used the round faux-shearling cup bed to transport her and she loved it!  She still uses her bed to relax in, although I keep an eye on her when she is using this one because Mav loves to dig and chew on her bed.
13092402_164667847264219_210061480_n
 animated_pink_heart_divider_by_gasara-d5hgo0z
Toys and Activities
On to the TOYS. Mavi’s favorite subject. I bought her a variety of different toys, although I already had a few from our other dog, Eli and cat, Oliver. Mavis loves her small Kong stuffies! Elmer the Elephant and Ali the Alligator are often her go to durable babies. Her all time favorite toys are her pink Nylabone that I keep in her carseat and her mini Ewok toy (they seem to be out of the Ewok cat toy edition, but here is the Chewbacca version)! I purchase the cat toys because they are more suited for her size, but avoid cat nip and feathers! The Kong rope toy and Nylabone teething ring do not seem to keep her interest for long, so I wouldn’t have purchased these had I known that beforehand, but every dog is different and your baby might love them. The teething ring is also really hard! I thought it would have been somewhat soft and rubbery, but it’s just hard plastic, another reason why I don’t think she is fond of it.  I love hiding Ziggies (although after the second bag, I moved to cheaper alternatives) and other treats into her Kong and she loves trying to get them out! This will keep your pup busy for a while, which is always appreciated and it challenges your pup with the promise of a tasty reward. Mav also loves playing with a little stuffed pug my boyfriend got for me when we first started dating and tennis balls! My mom recently gifted a cat tunnel that splits into three ways and both Mavis and Oliver are big fans!
 animated_pink_heart_divider_by_gasara-d5hgo0z
Potty Training
For housebreaking I wanted to get a pad holder basically so it would be easier for her to identify where she should go potty, but furthermore so she refrains from shredding or flipping her pads over. Sometimes this works and sometimes she loves to chew at the snap hands until it unsnaps and she get to the pad (to shred). She is a master at shredding pads. Make sure to make notice what size the pad holder is, so you can correspond with the right size potty pads. I fold the edges of my potty pads up to tuck the ends in. I always keep some Nature’s Miracle Urine Destroyer for carpet mistakes. I learned the hard way the using pee pads isn’t a great idea for puppy to potty train because towel, rugs, and carpets feel too similar and Mav got confused. I do not punish her for going in the wrong spot, but now just immediately pick her up if she is going or about to go and walk her outside. Your puppy shouldn’t associate going to the bathroom with you yelling at them, otherwise they may hide from you and then go (making sneaky hidden messes). Also, rubbing their noses in their accidents is also discouraged because puppies have such a short memory span and are so young that they do not associate why you are punishing them and will become fearful.  I bought a pooper scooper with the fear that she, like most puppies, would want to eat her and Eli’s poop, but luckily I was blessed with just a sniffer (the sniff to see if this is mine and run). I think it is something good to have on hand if you like to have backyard get-togethers in order to clean the area beforehand. Poop should be immediately picked up if the little one is indulging in this mysterious and nasty habit. It is really important to discourage puppy from this behavior as it can spread parasites and illnesses. I eventually want to try to use the tinkle bells to help teach Mav to ring the bell when she needs to go outside, but we have yet to cross that bridge with all that is going on.
 animated_pink_heart_divider_by_gasara-d5hgo0z
Health
Keeping Mavis healthy is one of my main priorities and having worked at a vet clinic for over two years, I know quite a lot about different products. First off, deciding on a food for puppy can be challenging when there are so many options and all the brands claim they are the best. The veterinarians I have worked for have only backed the brands Hill’s Science Diet, Royal Canin, and IAMS for puppies as their formulas are overall the best on the market and provide the perfect nutritional balance. For Mavi, I went with Hill’s Science Diet Small & Toy Breed Puppy food. It is so important to get puppy food for a puppy (versus Adult food, etc.) to meet their special nutritional needs. Feed BY the bag and not by what you think is enough to prevent over or under feeding. Avoid self feeders, as many dogs gorge themselves, leading to obesity. This also doesn’t provide a well set schedule for puppy.
I also recommend getting puppy grooming supplies. Puppies and dogs have different pH levels than humans, so buying them shampoo specified by their species is important. I decided to go with Burt’s Bees Puppy Shampoo because their cruelty free and I, myself, use Burt’s Bees for some of my grooming needs. I also purchased a dremel to keep Mav’s nails smooth. Puppies have super sharp nails usually, so the dremel can really help if you know how to use it. If you don’t know how, I recommend either youtube or asking your groomer/veterinarian if they could show you. Having a basic ear cleaner on hand is also recommended to keep puppy’s ears clean and free of debris. I clean Mavi’s ears twice a month to prevent the dreaded stinky ear infections and buildup. I recommend only using cotton balls, as Q-tips can potentially be shoved deep in the ear canal and can hurt the puppy’s ears.
Dental care is one of the most common issues that pet owners forget about, but it is so important if you want a long life for your best friend. If dental care is neglected, eventually your pal can and will get periodontal disease which can spread through the bloodstream and cause a number of serious health issues! I wanted to get Mav prepared early, although puppy’s teeth are usually in great condition and don’t need much help until they are 1.5-2 years old. I bough a toothbrush to help aid in getting Mav used to the teeth brushing habit. Ideally brushing your pet’s teeth three times a week is preferred (seems like too much, but it can save a lot of money in the end and it is good for your pup!) Dental chews are also highly recommended. I buy some veterinary recommended chews with enzymes added to help breakdown plaque.
Pugs and other flat faced breeds have short snouts and their noses can become very dry (as they are “smushed” in), therefore nose butter is a good idea to use weekly. The Blissful Dog has nose butter specially made for pugs in various sizes to cure the chapped blues. I also clean Mav’s face wrinkles with unscented baby wipes to avoid any hidden debris or dirt from building up and causing infections.
 animated_pink_heart_divider_by_gasara-d5hgo0z
Training Necessities
Since Mav is training to be a service dog, I have a vest for her that reads Service Dog In Training and has her name embroidered on it, a leash cover that is used to warn off strangers from distracting Mav from her duties, and an awesome patch to educate the ignorant. To aid in training I use a Rapid Rewards training pouch to have quick and easy access to rewards for a job well done. Along with the pouch, tasty treats are also recommended (sparingly) alongside their regular kibble. I found these treats that are moist and one of my little one’s favorites. I also purchased these, but they were too large to use as rapid rewards, so I had to cut them in half beforehand. They also are rather hard and difficult for Mav to chew. Because Mavis goes with me to so many different places via car ride, I wanted to maximize her safety. In some countries it is illegal to have an animal that is unsecured in the car! I bought her, her very own booster car seat that allows me to clip her in by the harness (sold separately) into a little seat/basket which attaches to the car’s seat. It also come with little pockets in the front that I keep toys in that keep her occupied (so that she won’t chew on the safety belt). I feel safer knowing that Mav won’t go flying through the windshield should there ever be an accident. You might think this is a little excessive, but I saw a case last year that made me more aware of pet safety: a pet mom and her furry friend were in a serious car accident. The pup broke his neck and had to be euthanized after suffering for over twenty-four hours (the neighbor had taken him to the emergency vet on the night of the car accident, who didn’t notice the broken neck. The next day the neighbor brought him into the clinic I was working in with complaints that something was not right with him and he was not walking, eating, or drinking). I also bought and extra seatbelt for when I am traveling in someone else’s car. This allows her to be safely buckled in without a special seat for her to sit in.
13118324_256670901350082_1549609956_n
animated_pink_heart_divider_by_gasara-d5hgo0z
Identification
Last but not least, the basic necessities: collars, leashes, and tags. I originally purchase this collar as it was cheap and durable, but Mav was so tiny, that I had to get a temporary kitten collar for her to use until last week. I already had an extra leash from Petsmart, so there was no need to get a new one. Finally because I have such high anxiety about social situations, I ordered my tags online along with a super cute strawberry bell. All my items I purchased online through Amazon (choose smile.amazon.com to donate a percentage to your chosen charity. I chose People Hope), with the exception of a few items I bought at Walmart and Petco.
 animated_pink_heart_divider_by_gasara-d5hgo0z
I hope that this will help make puppy decisions easier. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to ask!
xo,
Cass & Mavis
Dividers made by Laura Hunt

Training with Mavis

Week 2

This week my little Mavis will be 14 weeks and will have been living with us for 8 weeks! She’s been in training for 2 weeks using Training Your Own Service Dog by  Lelah Sullivan and AKA Shana Cohen. For those who don’t know, Mave is my service dog in training and she is doing incredibly well for her age. After we complete Sullivan’s and Cohen’s book, we will be using a training manual from Service Dog Express. Hopefully once both guides are finished, Mave will be in tip top shape. If not, I have local training organizations willing to help out with basic obedience training. Service Dog Express can also provide further training and instruction via webcam. SDE (located in San Antonio) can evaluate Mavis with a final walk through, after her training, to see if she is ready for the Public Access Test and become a Service Dog! I wanted to start a series of posts dedicated to my tiny terror’s (oh the wonderful puppy stages!) training progress. I’m hoping to help others in their journey to training a service dog of their own and how to go about getting started and what options they can choose.

First of all, I am not a liscensed trainer, but I consider myself a dog expert. I have lived with multiple dogs my entire life, worked in the veterinary field for about two years, and continue to work as a dog behavior analyst as a doggy daycare attendant (which is much more hands on then you’d think). Anyways, I know quite a bit about dog behavior and health which has set me up with the perfect platform to training my dog. I have looked into the alternatives of having a service dog pre-trained and ready, but the cons (for me personally) outweighed the pros. First of all the wait is up to a year or more to be matched with a service dog. Furthermore, the price of a trained service dog is anywhere from $1,200-2,000 and upwards. Another reason I didn’t choose this option is because you really have to be hands on when training a psychiatric service dog because they need to get you and your moods. Your ups, your downs, your triggers. This, in itself, takes persistence, time, and a close bond.

We started the intensive training on April 14th, 2016 and have learned Focus (keeping her eyes on me all the time), Touch (hoping that she’ll use this to alert), and are now working on Blanket (having her lie down on a blanket) commands. Technically it was recommended that the Service Dog Express manual begin at 6 months of age, but we are getting a jump start with Sullivan’s and Cohen’s training guide to prepare us.

13116718_761348650660704_1052108155_n

Locations We Have ‘Worked’ At:

Different locations will allow you to bring a service dog in training (SDiT) into their locations if you ask, but it is your liability should anything happen (potty accidents, etc.). On request if someone asked me to leave a location, I would gladly do so because it is their right, since Mave is not a service dog (yet). These locations I we visited had no problem with me bringing in Mavis, but I only worked on training commands in outer locations since she is so tiny and not completely potty trained yet. Documentation is important! So lots of photos, videos, and a log should be written down, in the case your service dog is questioned or legal action is brought against you.

As we perfect our commands and learn new ones, we hope you will follow our journey.

Xo,

Cass & Mavis

SaveSave