It's my baby's birthday today.

No, not Knox. That was last month. The still-dreaded double duty day. Knox turned ten on the eighth anniversary of his brother's Skjel's death. I didn't write about it. It was the first birthday of Knox's that my husband was home to celebrate.

It was also the very first time my husband has ever been home on the death anniversary.

I was relieved to have the emotional support this year until I realized his presence actually destabilized my control and sent me reeling back into a pit of grief. It didn't help that he convinced me to leave the house and go shopping for light fixtures for the Zeppelin Hangar. Every time a salesman would approach us my husband would start shaking his head violently at the sales person and beg them to go away with the power of his eyes. The sales person would look confused and then innocently ask how I was doing and if there was anything they could help us with.

At that point I would burst into tears, snot into a tissue so used it was starting to disintegrate and mumble something about needing a cake and pot lights. 

It wasn't our most productive shopping excursion ever and there are now five lighting stores I can never show my face in again. In the end, there never was a cake but there were smiles. Big tear stained smiles.

One day I'll be able to manage my son's birthday on my other's son's death day, no matter who is home or where I am. I'm sure of it.

Happy tenth birthday kid. Your peoples love you.

It's not Nash's birthday either. His was a week before his brother's. He turned 16. There was no cake for his birthday either. There was a volleyball game that evening and I made the poor boy keep score for his sister's team. Don't look at me like that. Have you seen how short the spandex bottoms are in girls' high school volleyball? I did Nash a favour. It may have been his best present yet.

I also gave him a car. Happy 16th son. Your peoples love you too.

There was a cake for Ken's 17th birthday, which happened three days after I wrote about Knox's hearing aide mysteriously disappearing. (No. His hearing aide was never found. Yes, it's been replaced. All hail name redacted insurance company.) Apparently I was too annoyed with losing my son's ear to write about my other kid's birthday but not annoyed enough to not throw a party for her and a dozen other teenagers.

May you never be too cool for dorky hats on your birthday, kid. Your peoples love you.

Today is Abbott's birthday. His first birthday. And like his human brothers, there will be no cake for him either. There may be a raw steak in his future but I draw the line at sticking a candle in it. Maybe. Hmmm. Suddenly Instagram is calling my name.

(Look at me, taking doggy parenthood to a newer, keener level of obnoxiousness.) 

And even though I couldn't be bothered to honor the birthdays of any of my human children on my blog this year, I'm bothering with my dog.

Yes kids, I do love Abbott more. But only for the moment because he is keeping my feet warm and I'm too lazy to either turn up the furnace or go outside to get more wood to put in the woodstove. 

When Nixon, my Boston Terrier, died on Nash's birthday last year, I thought I'd never be able to love another dog the way I loved him. Nixon kept me sane while I grieved the death of my son. I loved him wildly and passionately. 

But then we found Abbott. Abbott, the world's largest pain in my ass. And man, do I love this dog in an entirely different but equally wild and passionate way. 

Abbott sheds the weight of three cats in a day, he drools in a way that fascinates and disgusts me, he farts more than my husband and he hogs the bed worse than any toddler sleeping sideways ever could. He pees on my new grass with oblivious abandon, steals sips of my coffee as it cools on the kitchen table, and likes to put his head on my pillow while I'm sleeping on it and huff loudly into my face to wake me up at all hours of the night so he can dance in the freshly falling snow.

He sits on me whenever I have to pee, he hogs the couch when the kids want to sit on it and he has chewed holes in all my socks. While I'm still wearing them. He likes to walk through my legs as I'm walking. He steps on my flip-flops as I'm mid-stride and he has zero respect for cats and their personal boundaries. Abbott is entirely incorrigible.

But then this dog, this well-over 200 pound dog who is now actually taller than my husband and my son when he's standing on his hind legs, looks into my eyes, I melt. He's quiet and loyal and fiercely protective. 

Every morning he puts his face in Knox's and lets Knox kiss him goodbye. He stands still long enough for Knox's tight little arms to stretch out and he holds still as Knox tries to open his fists to pet him. 

Every afternoon he stands at the end of the driveway and waits patiently for Knox's school bus to turn onto our road and stop at our driveway. He sticks his nose into Knox's nose as if to say hello and then he walks beside Knox's chair the entire way up our drive.

And every evening, he snores gently with his head in Knox's lap as Knox and I read bedtime stories together.

He even leaves Knox's socks alone. 

(But not his toque.)

This big dopey dog is Knox's gentle giant and my constant companion. 

Happy first birthday, Abbott. Your peoples love you. Even when you chew holes into our socks.

Abbott, 8 wks old, the day I brought him home.

Nap buddies.

"I am the one who knocks."

My baby. I wub you widdle man.

Who Let the Dogs Out?

This past week I was convinced a mischievous ghost was haunting my house.

Weird things were happening. It was subtle at first; so much so that I hardly noticed it at first but one morning, at around 6 am, I realized something was out of place when I opened my eyes.

I woke up and the first thing I saw wasn't this:

There was no giant dog with his head on my bed, breathing moist warm dog breath right into my face in an effort to wake me up. In fact, there was no giant dog anywhere in my bedroom.

I called Abbott's name a few times and waiting to hear the familiar clicking of his paws across our floor but the only thing I heard was the chirping of the birds from outside my bedroom window and the soft whirr of our ceiling fan.

Worried, I got up to look for Abbott, hoping one of the kids had locked him in their bedrooms with him over night and that he hadn't been dog napped in the dead of the night when I noticed something out on our deck.

I looked outside the front door and saw this staring back at me:

"Let me in Mommy!"

Weird. I didn't recall waking up and letting my dog out in the middle of the night but maybe one of the kids did. I didn't give it any more thought as I crawled back into bed with my big puppy.

Except the same thing happened the next morning.

And then the next morning. 

And the morning after that. 

I kept waking up to realize my dog is not in my face and finding him outside on the deck. The kids claimed they weren't letting him out and I know I certainly wasn't, so WHO LET THE DOG OUT?

*Who let the dogs out?*

*woof woof woof woof*

(Sorry. That song is the worst earworm ever.)

After a week of waking up and finding my dog randomly outside on my front deck, I was starting to freak out. The idea of someone opening up my front door, luring my giant dog outside and then rooting through my underwear drawer (I have no evidence of that actually happening, but my imagination is ACTIVE) I was starting to lose sleep. 

Every morning as I let the dog back into the house in the wee hours of the dawn, I'd peer around nervously looking for the ghost/goblin/creeper who was messing with my dog and I and Abbott would just look at me like this:

It was the look of a guilty hound if I ever saw one. He knew what was going on, but the damn dog just wasn't going to tell me.

I thought about setting up a sting, to bust the intruder but that seemed like a lot of not sleeping and well, that seemed like work.

I thought about asking the kids to set up a sting but they're already talking about having me committed to an institution of some sort and well, why give them more reason?

I thought about having an exorcism performed but when I mentioned it to my husband he just laughed and told me to stop watching scary movies.

I went to bed that night determined to catch the criminal/ghost who was messing with my dog. The next morning I woke up to Abbott breathing in my face and pressing his nose into mine.

He was in the house! 

For the next few days, all was right with my world. Abbott was exactly where he was supposed to be in the mornings. Everything was back to normal.

Until I started seeing my dog outside in the middle of the day, when he was supposed to be inside, with me.

The only people who are home in the days are Knox and myself and neither of us is letting the dog out.

So who is letting the dog out?

*Who let the dogs out?*

*woof woof woof woof*

(Sorry. I can't help myself.)

And then last night, I saw this:

My front door was wide open. Immediately, I looked around for the dog. He was on his dog bed, his ears cocked, and he was looking at me with an "I don't know" look.

"Damn gremlins," I mumbled as I shut the door.

I walked into the kitchen, wondering if I really was losing my mind and busied myself with unloading the dishwasher.

That's when I heard it. 

A click. The click my door handle makes when it's opened.

I ran to the front door and I saw this:

I stood there for a few seconds and worried about ghosts when it dawned on me. 

My dog is taller than the door handle. 

Abbott is the ghost/gremlin/creeper.

Abbott learned how to open the front door.

I needed proof though, so I put the dog back in the house and then I stood on the deck, calling his name.

And just like that, my dog was using his paw to open the front door, like it was no big deal. All those mornings I found him on the front deck with the door closed? His big arse must have pushed the door shut. He can open it from inside the house, but he can't pull the door open from the outside. It's one way only dog magic up here.

I'm spending the day baby proofing my front door today because my dog is an escape artist.

I guess I should be grateful I'm not insane. At least not yet. Between the dog and the teens, surely I'm well on my way.

Don't worry Mom. I'll get you there yet. #crazytown

*Psst: Have you commented on this post? Go save a life and help the Shot At Life campaign succeed. Go be someone's superhero today. 

Big Puppy, Small Problems

My dog is growing at the speed of light. Or at least, that's what I'm told. I don't really notice it. It's rather like how your children grow bigger and bigger but you're deep in the minutiae of parenting and too close to the growth to see it until suddenly their pants are at their knees and distant relatives are commenting on how grown up your babies are? 

It's like that. Only pant-less and with more UPS drivers refusing to get out of their vehicles to bring you your parcel so instead they honk their horn until you come out and reassure them that the beast sitting on the deck barking at them isn't in fact, a hound from hell. 

I took Abbott to the vet last week for his six-month check up and the vet just about choked when he saw the numbers on the scale Abbott was sitting on.

150.5 pounds.

He looked at his chart and noted Abbott's age and then looked at me and then looked at my dog and he started to laugh.

I think he was laughing AT me and not with me. So my dog is bigger than me. I'm still totally the boss of him. 


I admit, I couldn't see his size. I mean, I know how LITTLE he is compared to his relatives. He's just a baby. My baby. My wee small pony-sized beastie who still has a lot of growing to do. He's not big. He's too small to be big.

And then yesterday I realized I was eye level with my dog as I was working at my computer.

Suddenly, I'm all holy crappers, my dog got BIG and "Do you mind? That is my coffee. Please keep your tongue out of it," and I can't even move my cup further away from him because he can reach everything. Anywhere. 

I'm going to need a taller table or a shorter dog.

Mom, I want to go outside and play.

Mom, I really think you should get off the computer and come play outside with me.

Mom. Come. PLAY.

Good Mom.

*thanks for sticking around in my absence. I'll tell you about that tomorrow. Right now I have to go throw a stick before my overgrown toddler dog decides to take away my laptop.*