Should I be Mad?

Miscellaneous

I know, I know – I introduced you all to my recent trip to Iceland yesterday, and this post is going to be about something totally different, but it’s my blog and I can do what I want. (Part two of my Iceland trip will be up within the next couple days, I promise!)

A few posts ago, I introduced the internet to my beautiful ball of fur – Zoë. My girlfriend and I have had Zoë for a little over three weeks now and we’re still working on her potty training. She’s getting better at it as the days go by (e.g. occasionally whining when she has to go outside), but it’s still not at 100% potty perfection. There are still occasions where I catch a glimpse of the sun shining through the window and reflecting off a perfectly placed circle of bodily fluids, and times where I’m not so lucky and end up with a wet sock on the way to the kitchen. But, like I said, we’re making progress at what I like to think is a reasonably good pace. (If you potty trained your dog in three days, I don’t want to hear about it. Take your super puppy and kindly leave my blog. That is, of course, after telling all of your friends about it.)

Now, to the part where I’m not sure whether or not I should be mad. Being the unemployed blogger I am, waiting for that one day the right person reads my blog and my writing career takes off and I befriend all of the celebrities like Ariana Grande, Tove Lo, and Rich Homie Quan (man do I love rap), I spend a lot of time at my apartment. Ever since getting Zoë I don’t really have a choice to get away to skate or go on a solo photo adventure. I can’t bring her with me, due to the obvious reason – she’s all fur (you thought I was going to say she’s only 9-weeks old, huh?). If I did bring her with me, I’d have to bring her back within an hour of leaving because the sun is brutal here in Charleston. Unless you’re at the beach with a nice breeze, you’ll sweat faster than Biebs getting pulled over in the USofA without his green card. (Does he have citizenship in the US? If so, my analogy is irrelevant and I’m being judged heavily by all of the Beliebers.)

(I’m sorry for this break in the current programing you’re tuned into, but I just witnessed the saddest thing ever. According to whatever spell-check system WordPress uses, the word “Beliebers” is in fact a real word. There is no red dotted line underneath it, signifying it’s spelled incorrectly, so that must mean it’s a word, right? I should just stop where I’m at in this post and have this be my final sentence. The world will soon be run by these Beliebers, and everyone will be forced to bleach their hair and shave the sides of their head, leaving only a reasonably long, awkward patch of hair on top. Thanks a lot, Canada. Take your free healthcare and friendly people and shove it – but let us keep that delicious bacon, please. The US is doomed.)

Being the only one at the apartment during the week means I have the freedom to do whatever I want. I could elicit the hardest of drugs to residents at my apartment complex if I wanted to (I don’t). I could fill every square foot of space in the apartment with M&M’s (I haven’t…yet). I could even use the bathroom and keep the door open if I wanted to (this is the one option listed I do). Now that we’ve established that, the craziest thing happened the other day. I got up to use the bathroom, made it safely with two dry socks, and executed my business to perfection. Perfectly executed bathroom session complete, I turn around to walk out and what do I see? The cutest of puppy faces staring back at me. Awww, Zoë. What else do I see? The most symmetrical circle of puppy business separating me from Zoë.

I kind of just stood there, not knowing how to react. I mean, yeah, sure, she peed in the house again. BUT, she peed in the bathroom. It happened a few days after that as well, only I didn’t witness it this time, I just saw it when I walked in.

Should I have been mad? Should I have flipped everything in the apartment  over in a furious act of Hulk-rage? Should I have banished Zoë off to our screened in back porch with all of the creepy spiders and dog fur from the person above us until mom came home? Nope, I did the complete opposite and gave her a treat and then tweeted about it with an excessive amount of emoji’s. My thought was she saw me and wanted to be like her dear old dad *wipes tear from eye*. She’s a super-DUPER-SMART pup and saw the human bathroom as her bathroom as well. Gosh, she’ll be the one supporting us soon, just you wait!

Anyway, that was the post that ruined the fluidity of what would have been a  perfectly executed three-part Icelandic trip summary. Can’t promise it won’t happen again between part two and part three. Life’s just that unfair sometimes.

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Trip of a Lifetime! (Part 1)

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(Preface: I probably should have written this either during my time in Iceland or shortly after I got back from Iceland, because everything I’m saying will be based off of memory and not really “in the moment”. With that being said, I won’t be able to remember everything exactly (luckily I have pictures to help out with remembering exactly what we did and when we did it), but I shall try my best! Be sure to check back for the next part!)

Way back in January, New Years day to be exact, I was awoken by a phone  call pretty early in the morning. After having to pry my eyes open with wrenches due to the alcohol consumed the night before, I noticed it was a call from my Aunt. Now, given the state I was in and time of the morning it was, I most likely would have ducked the phone call. But, for some reason I answered it, and I’m so glad I did.

“How would you like to go to Iceland?”

Wait, WHAT?!?! I think I found something that wakes you up easier and faster than coffee: ask people life-altering questions. After a brief conversation with my Aunt, my girlfriend and I were one step closer to a trip of a lifetime. A string of emails back and forth between my Aunt and me over the next couple of weeks resulted in my girlfriend and I booking our flight to a country we never would have thought of going to: Iceland.

Six months go by and our dream vacation is right around the corner. Now, I’ve only been out of the country once, and that was to the Azores two summers ago, so I’m nowhere near the traveling veteran my girlfriend is having lived the first half of her life in Paraguay. Traveling internationally to me has been slightly tainted by living off of my dad’s and brother-in-law’s clothing for three days while in the Azores. Can you guess what happens next? Yup, you got it. We arrive at Keflavík International Airport to find out our luggage was never transferred to our flight in Toronto. No matter what you tell me, I’m placing the blame on the Air Canada lady at BWI Airport who repeated THREE TIMES our luggage would arrive at our final destination. Anyways, our trip wasn’t starting off the way we planned, but we were too sleep deprived to really care (plus, our luggage was flown on the next flight over, so we got it the following day).

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(Our cottage in the valley.)

Day 1 – Arrival Day

After finding out our luggage didn’t make it, we we’re off in our rental car to explore the south-western coast of Iceland. (Speaking of rental car, it was good that our luggage didn’t make it, because we had just enough room for six people and the luggage that did make it.) The weather that day wasn’t very welcoming (rainy and 45 degrees), but it was pretty typical for that time of year in Iceland.

Too be honest, there wasn’t very much to see along the south-western coast. Apart from the fact that it was so hazy, the land surrounding the roads was nothing but volcanic rock fields with the occasional jagged trenches. We made our way around the land similar to the way the vikings did around the year 1000: Mapquest. While fighting sleep deprivation, I couldn’t help but notice how eerie the area was. We probably saw three cars the whole time we were exploring, and every residential area we past through was a complete ghost town.

We made a couple of pitstops along the coast at some scenic viewpoints and at some natural hot springs before arriving at an Icelandic grocery store. It’s always fun going to foreign grocery stores and seeing what it is they have in stock (I say that like I’ve been to so many of them). Apart from the typical Icelandic brands they had, they also carried things like Lucky Charms and Mountain Dew.

There isn’t much to go off on the ride to our cottage, because the whole drive felt like a dream. As a matter of fact, my uncle who was driving admitted to dreaming while he was driving, which we all thought was hilarious. After finally making it to our cottage, we fought off sleep as long as we could in an attempt to salvage our sleep schedule. Let me tell you, it was one pathetic fight. Once my head hit the pillow, I was asleep. It was 5:30pm.

(Side note: we were in Iceland during the summer equinox, so it never got dark. Each night our room progressively got darker as we put blankets and towels in front of it to sleep.)

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(Stokkur Geyser erupting from atop of a mountain)

Day 2 – Haukadalur Valley and Gullfoss

After 15 hours of sleep the smell of pancakes filled the cottage, leading us out of bed. We figured since the previous day was such a struggle, we would explore the area surrounding to cottage. Finally getting our luggage back, everyone got dressed for the day and we took the shortest drive of our trip down the road to Haukadalur Valley to see the geysers.

A steady drizzle of rain and fog filled the air. Combine that with a cool, brisk wind, we were deep in the true Icelandic experience. Upon arrival to the geyser fields, the scent of sulphur filled the air, which, by the way, isn’t the greatest of smells. The steam from the boiling water waiting to erupt caused visibility to be even more obstructed, but we were able to get an up-close-and-personal look at some of the eruptions, as seen below.

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After being on the ground for a few eruptions, we decided it was time to hike up the mountain that overlooked the geysers. The mountain we climbed up looked tiny from a distance compared to the surrounding mountain ranges, but when you’re at the bottom of it you’d think otherwise. It took us 30-minutes to hike to the top and get a great view of the geysers and the valley where our cottage was, which seemed a little long, but steady drizzle caused the ground beneath us to be slick with mud.

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Hiking down was just as challenging as hiking up, but once we were safely back down we cleaned our shoes in the runoff of water from the geysers, which was probably frowned upon (oh well, we’re American, what do you expect?) and headed off to see what is said to be the largest waterfall in Europe: Gullfoss (translated – Golden Falls).

Gullfoss got its name because on a sunny day, the water tumbling down the three tiered, staircase falls truly appears to be golden. Unfortunately for us, the weather was very gray, but the sight was beautiful nonetheless. The roar of the water approaching the falls then free falling some 34 meters down to the bottom was almost as mesmerizing as the sights of the falls itself.

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(Gullfoss on a clearer day of our trip)

Our time at Gullfoss came to an end and we decided to call it a day. The little activity we did over the course of the day seemed extreme due jet lag. We drove back towards the cabin, ate some dinner, and wound the night down with a relaxing hot tub session and Icelandic beer. Ahhhhh, what a great night that was.

Overall, the first two days were amazing, sleep deprivation or not. As stated before, I never thought I would have gotten a chance to travel to Iceland, but thanks to my family I was able to do exactly that. From the moment we landed in Iceland to the end of day two, I already knew this trip would be life-changing. Be sure to check back soon to see what we did the next couple of days!

Puppyhood

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This is Zoë (be sure to follow her on Instagram! @zoe_the_auz). This little bundle of joy has graced my girlfriend and me with what hopes to be a lifetime of memories and laughs. So far? The laughs seem few and far between.

When we were in the beginning stages of puppy scouting, we were thrown all of the typical new puppy-parent questions: the ever infamous “are you sure you want a puppy?” as if we were telling our friends and family a joke, just to see what they said; “do you know what nurturing a puppy consists of?” as if we were being introduced to the dog species for the first time; “are you ready to take her into considerations when making plans?” as if we have the schedule of Kanye West, etc. All we were thinking of were the nights cuddling her on the couch watching a movie, enjoying a nice adult beverage; the cute puppy-kisses waking us up at a reasonable time in the morning; the easy-for-you-but-impossible-for-her tug-of-war games we’d play with mommy’s socks. Then we woke up…at 3:00am.

I’m here to give those of you who have ever considered getting a puppy some classified information on what puppyhood really consists of. If I wanted to be like everyone else and say, “it’s a lot of work”, my blog post would end here. Lucky for you, I’m not like your mom/dad/sister/brother/friend/garbage man/mailman/dentist/financial advisor or even Mary down at the gourmet donut shop. This is first hand experience.

Say good-bye to your sleep schedule

We were prepared to be woken up early in the mornings to take Zoë outside for the good ole’ one-and-two combo. What we weren’t prepared for were these awakenings to occur every three hours. I would love to see the security camera footage of our zombie walks at 3:00am, while Zoë is prancing around, squatting down to say “these four strands of pine straw belong to ZOË THE AUZ! ‘psssssssss’ ” then darting in and out of the bushes.

Then, when you finally bring her inside, be prepared to a) play with her for a little while, hoping the three rounds of stuffed-toucan fetch tires her out (it won’t), or b) try to sleep through the screeching howls and screams of her in her crate.

Best thing to do before bed? Make sure your soon-to-be pile of fluff doesn’t nap before you’re considering going to bed. Try taking him/her on a nice long walk before settling down. (Be sure to have a fast enough pace so they can run, ya bums.)

Crate-training is worse than wet socks

The first night we brought Zoë home, we were already in fear of putting her in the crate that night. We were told to section off the crate with a divider, so she only has room to sleep and not move around as much (i.e. pee). We tried to make it as comfortable and appealing as possible with pillows, blankets, and toys.

Out go the lights, and in comes the loudest, most bloodcurdling screeching and howling (and other noises we still can’t put into words) we’ve ever heard. It literally sounded like the divider fell on her and she was being pierced by the hooks. (That may or may not have happened, minus the piercing, due to faulty configuration…) The sounds were so loud, my girlfriend and I were expecting to hear a knock on the door and be taken to puppy-jail for being complete idiots.

Tips for crate training? Introduce your soon-to-be puppy-scent puppy to their crate as soon as possible. Try putting little treats in the crate, and having them eat and finish it while in there. Then, open the door and let them out, giving them soft compliments. Keep doing this until you deem it necessary. Oh yeah, and make sure it’s sturdy and configured correctly.

You don’t need a “Kanye West Schedule” to feel the pain of planning

Need to go to the bathroom? Make sure you know where your puppy is. Need to take a shower? Make sure you know where your puppy is. Need to close your eyes for just a second because you got 2 hours of sleep last night? Make sure you know where your puppy is.

Wait a second…Kanye West does these things too! I’m pretty much Yeezus!

These were the things Mary from the donut shop was talking about. You don’t have to have meetings scheduled with Adidas, nor be consumed with ACTUALLY keeping up with the Kardashians to experience the drawbacks of having a puppy. Simple, everyday things are harder when you’re a humom or a puppy dad (dad’s don’t have cool pet names).

Tips for scheduling around a puppy? Feel free to leave them in the comment section below. Thanks!

Nothing is safe come teething time

As I sit here and write this, I can see Zoë chewing on the hand strap of my monopod I used at the beach yesterday for taking pictures. I had to stop her because she moved onto biting the foam handle off in little pieces. When I got up to take it away, she ran straight to her crate. Yay crate training! Here’s a treat!

Puppies will chew on anything that isn’t one of their toys: shoes, blankets, any type of strap/string, wires, their crate, any part of your body, you name it. I even saw Zoë chewing on the couch one day. Not something chewable, such as the corner of the couch, but the side paneling of the couch. How she’s able to position her snout and actually get a tooth on the couch panel is something only Einstein himself could solve, but he’s dead, so it will remain a mystery.

Tips for teething puppies? When you see your soon-to-be cuddle-butt chewing on something they aren’t supposed to be chewing on, simply clap loud enough to get their attention (try not to startle them). Then grab one of their chew toys and calmly let them know this is what they should be chewing on.

You may want to invest in some rubber boots

Your soon-to-be mommy’s little angle will pee in your house. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. I don’t care if you’re Cesar Millan himself, it’s going to happen.

We have hardwood floors in our apartment, and it’s kind of bittersweet in the sense that it’s an easy cleanup, but you can’t see any of these treasure puddles pooling in the one spot you’re about to step in unless you’re at the right angle. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve walked to the fridge to grab something to drink and stepped in a cold puddle left behind by Zoë, and wet socks are worse than crate training, as previously explained.

Tips for potty training? Whenever you see your puppy start sniffing around as if you dropped a piece of food somewhere, stop what you’re doing and take him/her outside. Chances are your puppy is ready to mark their territory. Congratulate him/her with a pat on the head and a small treat, while acknowledging what he/she did.

Now, I’m going to sound like a complete dad, but even with all of the hassles I’ve encountered in the two-plus weeks of having Zoë, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Being able to see her grow up and be a mature, smart dog, accomplishing all of her life goals of barking at squirrels, fetching tennis balls, and running behind me while I skate is going to be awesome. So, go out there and get that pup you want. Even though there are a lot of troubles that come along with pups, you’ll be happy you did when you see them sleeping peacefully next to you. Also, you can use some things to your advantage!

  • Having the worst dream of your life? Only three more minutes until little Daisy will wake you up to tell you she has to pee!
  • Stuck on the phone listening to your mom talk about holiday plans? “Damn it, Rover, don’t pee there! Sorry, mom, gotta take Rover outside!”
  • Can’t go out on Friday because you have no money, but too embarrassed to admit it? “Sorry, man, can’t come out tonight. Gotta be here for when Buddy has to pee!”
  • Conversation getting awkward with Mary at the donut shop? “Sorry, Mary, gotta go. I don’t want Lucy to pee in your shop!”
  • Blog post dragging on? “Sorry, guys, Zoë just woke up from her nap, gotta take her to pee!

I’m sensing a peetern here…