Category Archives: Puppy Tales

Parenting Puppy Panic

Rocco GG Bridge

As I sit to craft this post, I automatically let out a heavy sigh. And once I share the story, you’ll understand why.

Rewind to last Saturday.

I was in Northern California with my husband (a work event) and decided we would stop in San Francisco – the city of my birth – and enjoy the bounty of fresh seafood. Traveling along was our 4- month old puppy, Rocco. (Our youngest son was home – alone on his 18th birthday, I might add. Now, before you rush to judgment, our son has never given us any reason to rethink going out-of-town. He’s responsible and has proven so. Although, since I don’t trust him to care for a puppy, the puppy came with us, and our son fended for himself.)

As parents approaching an “empty-nest”, this new puppy has certainly filled a gaping hole in my life. My husband recently got a promotion and now travels at least half the time for work and our 18-year-old graces me with his presence on rare and fleeting occasions. Instead of regular “family” portraits, my Facebook feed is now littered with images and antics of the new puppy – much to the chagrin on our son, I might add. I suppose he’s jealous, but would never admit to it.

As we travelled south over the Golden Gate Bridge, we decided to visit Baker Beach – located southwest of the famous landmark – a storied “clothing-optional” bathing spot, as well as one of the most photogenic spots in the city. Besides, the puppy had never been to the beach! And we were trading snow for sand this trip.

For mid-February, the weather was glorious. Not a cloud hovered, and the Golden Gate literally shocked the brilliant blue sky by which it was framed. We leashed up the puppy and went to explore the shore.

Scores of dogs were exploring this “leash-free” beach zone with vigor and zest. Only, we kept our little Rocco tethered to us, as he’s not keen on the “come” command just yet, and I didn’t need a public game of seek and not-catch me. Besides, this visit was short, as we were on our way to devour copious amounts of fresh Dungeness crab.

After marveling at the size of surf, we snapped a few photos with our phone, and walked lazily back to the car. Fresh fish was waiting (and as it turns out, would wait and wait…)

Approximately 15 minutes later, as we pulled into a parking spot just north of the famed Fisherman’s Wharf, I noticed Rocco was acting strange. His little legs stiffened, and he began to tremble. His eyes began to close and roll slightly upward. He appeared to be near convulsions.

A deep sense of fear and dread clouded over me, “Something is wrong with him” I stammered to my husband. “I think he needs water.”

After unsuccessfully trying to get him to eat (a treat) or drink, I noticed sand in his mouth. Did he eat something he found on the beach? He wouldn’t open his mouth to let me investigate. His jaw was clenched shut.

There are two types of people in this world, those who operate like a fine-tuned clock in the face of an emergency and me – those who freeze, unable to think, speak or move, where the only sensation is akin to falling deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole…

Within seconds, my husband located a pet hospital (via his Smart phone), and rattled off the number for me to call, as he sped the car in the direction of help.

Honestly, I can’t remember what I said to the sweet voice on the phone, other than something was wrong with our puppy. She said something about her next available appointment being nearly 2 hours away, and when I numbly relayed that information to my husband, he barked, “He’ll be dead in two hours.”

I went blank.

The next movements were as though they were happening to someone else. I jumped out of the car in front of Marina Pet Hospital on Lombard Street in San Francisco, squinting from the sun as I carried my listless puppy into the building. Somehow, I gave the girl behind the counter my name, the puppy’s name, and my phone number. Then, she whisked him away.

The next think I know, the same girl who took my information, asked to see me in the small examination room to the side of the front counter. I was alone as my husband was maneuvering the city for a rare parking spot. She said, “It appears Rocco may have ingested something. We need your approval for at least $500 of treatment.” I nodded. And she promised to be back with more information as soon as she could.

There was a waiting area with seats, but I could only manage to lean against the front counter. As I stood with my back to the small examination room, another dog and owner entered, checked in at the front desk and were ushered into the same small examination room I had just exited. The dog was happy, with a wagging tail and tongue hanging out to the side of his mouth.

How I envied them.

Rocco Baker Beach

The next several hours all rolled into one hazy, mixed-up bucket of confusion.

When we finally met the doctor on duty – Dr. Kim – she informed us that Rocco had apparently ingested an illegal substance. They gave him an injection to induce vomiting, and a charcoal-based product to absorb whatever was already in his system. For the moment he was stable. We were told he would be here all day, but this facility closed at 5pm and Rocco required overnight monitoring, which meant, we would need to find somewhere else to take him.

(Insert aforementioned heavy sigh…)

Needless to say, it was touch-and-go for a while.

We found a 24-hour pet hospital in San Carlos near our family, and transported our puppy to spend the night under the watchful eye of Vet Tech, Joe, a darling young Asian man who donned a ball cap with his navy uniform. Turns out, Joe knows Dr. Kim from the Marina Pet Hospital, as he used to work there. And Dr. Kim recently wrote his “Letter of Recommendation” as he was wanted to become a Vet himself.

In that moment, I felt an odd twinkling of karma, and knew it was all going to turn out fine.

The next morning, as I sat at the airport, waiting with Rocco to return home to Montana, I was in awe that after only two months as a member of our family, this little bugger already had a clamp on my heart nearly as strong as my own flesh and blood.

With a few days distance, we can shake our heads and make jokes that on our son’s 18th birthday, he was home alone and behaving, while our puppy – who was under our supervision –  was being treated for a drug overdose.

Sometimes life is indeed stranger than fiction.

{Special note to Dr. Kim of Marina Pet Hospital and Joe from San Carlos 24-Hour Pet Hospital – I want to thank you both personally for your efforts to save our little Rocco. Dr. Kim, you acted swiftly and with such grace and kindness when dealing with me – in my most harried and stressful state – I know your actions saved our puppy. And Joe, for making me feel comfortable and confident about leaving Rocco with you for a sleep-over, my heart is filled with gratitude.}  


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7 Lessons From The Puppy

Want to spice up your life?

Want to stretch yourself?

Want to grow, expand and push yourself to the ends of the earth?

I have one answer.

Three little words.

Get. A. Puppy.

We are embarking upon our first month with our newest family member, and I can say, it reminds me of all the reasons I am glad I do not have small children anymore. And I’m not convinced a puppy is better or worse than human children.

Case in point = lessons I’ve learned from the puppy:

Puppy Lesson #1

Puppies take what they want then RUN.

And run, and run and run.

It doesn’t matter how cool and calm you are. If your arm is outstretched and you are talking in a sweet “come hither” voice, they know the real deal. And they run further and faster to get away from you – and keep the stray sock, glove, paper towel, hair clip or other random item that is three times their size, away from you. They found it, therefore, said item is now rightfully theirs.

Puppy chewing on Uggs

Puppy Lesson #2

Puppies sleep when the want, where they want and for as long as they want.

Which eventually means they will be wide-ass awake at some ungodly hour and insist that you be awake as well – it’s play time!

Yorkie Puppy Sleeping Rocco

Puppy Lesson #3

Even though the puppy is sleeping, if you stand up, and walk to the other side of the room, they are instantly awake. And they will follow you.

And get right in the middle of whatever you are doing.

Don’t think for one second your privacy is yours. That’s all changed. The puppy is now included in anything and everything you do.

Darling image of yorkie puppy

Puppy Lesson #4

Whoever said size matters never met a Yorkie puppy.

They may be slight, yet they are mighty (in their mind!)

(Best part of meeting Timber, the very gentle English Lab shown below, was when Rocco STOOD on his back. I wasn’t fast enough to capture the image, but Timber just laid there, probably thinking, will someone please remove this FLEA from my back!)

Yorkie meets English Lab

Puppy Lesson #5

That spot on the sofa that you thought was “yours” no longer belongs to you. (Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory better never get a puppy!!)

And if you think of a new spot, that spot also suddenly belongs to the puppy.

The sooner you embrace this lesson, the better.

puppy on the sofa

Puppy Lesson #6

When playing with the puppy, it’s best to just dig in, and get down to his level.

Especially when his legs are short and stubby and don’t allow for proper jumping up on you.

Joe playing with Rocco Yorkie puppy

Puppy Lesson #7

Forget your heart.

It’s gone.

And guess where it is?

With the puppy.

Sure didn’t take long for the puppy love to bloom!

yorkshire terrier rocco puppy


Puppy’s Day Out

Today was a lovely winter day in Southwest Montana (and Eastern Idaho) – and it was our puppy’s first big day out.

Not only was it Rocco’s first long car ride, first trip to the edge of Yellowstone National Park, and his first time in the fine state of Idaho – but he also met friends visiting from Healdsburg, California and Salt Lake City.

Road to Big Sky Montana

Edge of Yellowstone National Park

View from Rear View Mirro

winter view from the rear view mirro

Even though I continually complain when the mercury drops below “reasonable,” this part of the country has some of the most incredible winter scenery – and for that, I am glad for the opportunity to experience it first-hand.

walking in a winter wonderland

Joe walking in snow with Rocco

Isn’t he the most darling little muffin you’ve ever seen??

Yorkie puppy in the snow Rocco

Is it any coincidence that he’s the shape of a heart?

I love my Yorkie Puppy Rocco

Yorkie puppy walking in the snow Rocco

Katie and Rocco in snow

katie and rocco yorkie puppy love

Sexy Hubby, who??

Seems I have a new love – a puppy love!!!


Welcome to Puppydom

It’s been over 15 years since we last had a puppy – that’s over a century in dog years!

Upon deciding to add a new little ball of fur to our family, I began the quest to obtain puppy knowledge. What the heck was I going to do with this new wagging-pack member? How would I train him? How would he train me?

I began with the Internet (of course), with hyper-focus on sites that specialized in Yorkshire Terriers. The information available was overwhelming. Next, I visited our local pet store and spoke with the store manager to glean insight on food choices, training courses, chew toys, etc. (And all along the way, I began buying cute little sweaters, a sheep-skin lined harness and a leash with a flashlight included in the handle!)

Seemingly, the more information I gathered, the more unsure I became. I don’t stick to regimes. I get tired (dare I say, lazy?!) And lastly, my life has become very easy, so why was I about to add complications?

Yet, as the universe works, a friend suggested I chat with the local “dog whisperer” – so I called him. It was probably the smartest phone call I ever made! Prior to bringing the new puppy home, I made an appointment to have Ron Murray from Montana Murray Kennels pay us a home training visit. We would pick up the little “ankle-biter” on Saturday, and training would begin on Monday. Suffice to say, I would have to endure on my own for two days – 48 hours. (By the way, Mr. Murray assured me that I could not create bad habits in two days. I prayed that his insight would be correct.)

Prior to Mr. Murray’s visit, the first two nights sleeping in the crate did not go over very well. There were barrel-loads of barking, shrieking, pawing and otherwise general puppy un-ease.

I wondered if I’d made a grave choice.

My sleep is one of the most important parts of my life. I would become Medusa on meth without the proper sleep-sum per night.

What have I done?

Puppy training day could not come soon enough. I was hanging all hope on the fact this canine genius would solve all our puppy non-sleeping, hate-the-crate problems.

Upon arriving in our home, Mr. Murray began to spout all his puppy pansophy – highlighting the fact we need to act as the pack leader. He gave comprehensive information in terms of  “the pack” mentality and how we need to lead the charge.

Hands down, the most important piece of Intel that was passed from the “puppy professional” to me, was the “how to keep the puppy quiet in the crate” routine. That nugget alone was worth every penny of a private in-house visit.

How to Keep Puppy Quiet in the Crate Rule:

1. Place puppy in crate.

2. When puppy whines, barks or otherwise protests, begin the “correction” by shaking the crate and making a sound like a balloon losing air – pssssssssstttt, or aaaaaaaaaaaaattttttttttttttttt. 

3. Continue to “correct” as needed. 

The result?

Puppy sleeps peacefully in crate night after night, with each progressive night going longer and longer prior to needing to go potty. (Potty training is a whole different topic, of which I am not yet prepared to speak of successfully.)

Next time I see Mr. Murray, I’m kissing him directly on the lips!!

Yorkie Puppy in snow Rocco Christmas

rocco puppy running to me

Don’t worry, there will be PLENTY more of Puppy Tales as we progress.

In fact, today is our first visit with the puppy doctor – and boy, do I have questions!

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