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Every now and then, we check in on Charlie and Stella, their adjustment to life together, and I make note of their cute stories. This time, I have been trying to record video of their shenanigans, too!
When Stella and K moved in, I knew it would be an adjustment for Charlie and me, which I wrote about at length here. You guys REALLY seemed to enjoy that one, so I wrote another, intending it to be a regular series. And then life happened, and I didn’t make these posts as “regular” as I thought I would (hello, Ruby and remodels and other things, oh my!). I’ve gone back through my archives to brings these types of posts together, called Pupdates.
The time seemed right to work on a new one, especially since I’ve been trying to record more videos of both of them. They’re getting older now, so their “puppy” moments are more spread out, and my everyday work habits often involve them exploring around outside or snoozing right next to the computer (as we speak, Charlie has her ears all perked up because she hears the highly suspect garbage truck down the street, while Stella is buried under blankets and couldn’t care less). The change from these puppy-to-older-dog moments has made me more cognizant of the limited time we get with our precious pups, and I don’t want to take it for granted.
In other words: this post is probably more for my own sake, which is why there is so much detail. Someday I’ll want to read this again, so I’m indulging myself (and hopefully a few of you who love them from afar). This past month has also been unusual in general, so I’ve actually been writing this post off and on for several weeks; my mention of our usual “schedule” is, of course, up in the air right now, which I’m sure a lot of you are experiencing. I debated the integrity of writing as normal vs. directly addressing all of the Covid-related stress, and I figured that if you’re visiting my blog today, you might be looking specifically for something just like this instead of the news.
Hmm, what topic should I start with? These posts don’t really have a structure the way tutorials do, so I’m a little rusty! 😂 But we can start with a fun one: our sleep habits. Tons of pictures, of course — and with a new video!
When K goes off to work, the pups are just as groggy as I am, and will go back to sleep with me until I’m ready to wake. Charlie will lay, solid and unmovable, curled in a tight little ball or spread herself over the entire foot of the bed. In either case, she will not budge unless it’s very, very obvious I’m heading downstairs to start the day. If I’m getting up to go to the bathroom or moving around just a little, it doesn’t faze her. She. does. not. move. a. muscle.
Stella, on the other hand, will often wake first and patiently wait for signs of life from me. Then, she’ll stretch — with her front paws on my neck or face — to wake me further. If that doesn’t work, she’ll nuzzle (by putting her nose in my eye or ear) and climb to my other side by stepping on my pillow. Which includes stepping on my hair. It’s pretty brutal!
Lately, though (a sign of her getting older), she’s been enjoying sleeping in more. The whole WAKE UP!! routine of hers has gone from an everyday occurrence to only some days. Some mornings, she’ll cuddle as I slowly wake. Instead of aggressively stirring, she’ll saunter to my side where she can curl into a ball beneath the covers until I am more clearly awake.
Once I’m finally up, we immediately do our morning routine: outside to potty while I make my first cup of coffee or tea, fill their food bowls, empty the dishwasher, then carry Stella upstairs to complete breakfast. Charlie usually follows us back up but immediately turns back around once Stella starts eating to go back into the kitchen for her food (we had an incident a few years back regarding food aggression so we keep all feeding totally separate).
I usually leave their food bowls out in case they don’t finish all their food and want to come back to it later (Charlie steers clear of Stella’s bowl, and Charlie’s bowl is too high for Stella to reach, so they can easily manage without the other pup messing with it). Charlie is usually a grazer in the morning but wolfs down her food at night. Stella sometimes takes her time, but she’s also more often on a diet than Charlie (because of Stella’s tiny body and the history of her breed’s back issues, weight fluctuations can be a more significant problem, so we look after her feeding more closely).
Also, for a tiny pup, this gal eats LOUD. When Stella gets in front of her bowl, it’s “CRONCH CRONCH CRONCH CRONCH.” She also eats and drinks just a little at a time, so the loudness can be very jarring and unpredictable (needless to say, the food bowl gets put away if I have a phone call because she will do it on purpose to interrupt).
Charlie also LOVES to drink water and will take very long gulps from either water bowl, so we keep ’em both filled at all times. Stella, on the other hand, will drink tiny droplets at a time, then coughs dramatically afterward. (In case you’re wondering, we’ve asked the vet about this; there is no underlying medical cause, she’s just very bad at drinking water and seems to try to inhale it at the same time she drinks. She gets a lot of extra pets and consoling from K when it happens, which is likely a motivating factor for her as well… she only does it when he’s around 😆.)
I’ve mentioned it before, but Charlie is the classic “gentle giant” compared to Stella. They’ve got very distinct personalities, where Charlie will be the protector/assistant to Stella’s schemes. They will work together and like to try to corner small animals in the yard (Charlie doesn’t know what to do with them, so they run right past her if they try, but her size makes her the more intimidating one and Stella uses this).
Stella is the HUNTER. She has killed a number of animals, including a possum and a bird (that one was really surprising; she took off right from the door and caught the bird before it could fly away!). Charlie doesn’t have as strong of a sense of smell or sight as Stella, so she typically only notices something once it is running far, far away from her.
It’s a good thing that Stella is tiny and is more tolerant of baths because she LOVES to dig. She is so proud when she gets caught in a giant hole that we didn’t know she was digging (I’m paranoid about erosion issues in the back yard and don’t like it when she digs near the fence line). In fact, we’re redoing the gardenia garden beds (later this year I hope) partly because she has dug out the beds enough to contribute to them falling completely apart.
Stella also loves to roam around in our neighbor’s ivy when we’re in the front yard working on projects. She does these little hops from one spot to another!
Bathtime and Rain
When Stella has a bath, the tub gets so gross! But it’s always necessary. She will cake herself in dirt and has a shit-eating grin on her face when we catch her down in a hole along the fence line.
Speaking of baths, CHARLIE HATES THEM. She will fight, stiff-arm, hide, and try every other method she can to avoid getting a bath. Once she’s in the tub, she is on alert, but doesn’t fight. She actually really seems to enjoy the part where we scrub and massage her fur in every direction. She will try to get out of the tub if you don’t have a hand on her, though. I kind of laugh at this, because as long as part of your hand is physically touching her back, she won’t try to shake off the soap. Just don’t let your hand slip, or it’s soap bubbles all over the bathroom.
Conversely, Stella is the one who hates the rain more. Funny, how Charlie hates bodies of water but if it’s falling from the sky, she’s all “meh”. Stella will look at K or myself, betrayed, as though we caused the rain and simply aren’t turning it off for her. She will also refuse to go outside for a potty break if it’s raining, which drives us mad, because then we have to put on shoes and go out there with her to keep her from running back to the house before she’s done. We know she has to go. She knows she has to go. So just go! 😂
Buuuut…. once she comes back in, and she’s all wet, she LOVES getting toweled off! She’ll run all around, try to slide her belly onto the rug (I don’t care for that, so I try to train her to slide across the towel instead — it’s adorable!), and wait to get picked up so we can dry her off and pamper every little paw.
Routines and Communication
Out of the two, I think Charlie is the one more dedicated to routine. They both prefer predictability, but you notice Charlie’s anticipation WAY MORE than with Stella. She adapts to new routines very quickly, and you can see the wheels turning in her mind. It’s very cute. When Charlie is convinced of What Happens Next™, there is very little that can be done to change her focus. She KNOWS, and will persist, until she’s right (because eventually, she always is). Our nighttime routine is “humans eat, walk, dogs eat, bed.” So between each of those steps, she is trying to Vulcan-mind-meld us into doing the next thing as soon as we appear to be done eating.
Stella has a WEIRD habit: she sleeps on remotes and phones. If we can’t find the remote, we check under Stella first. It’s under her 85% of the time. We don’t think she takes them; she just happens to lay down on top. And that definitely causes our programs to be sped through, interrupted, rewound, etc.
Also: as you’ll see in the video, they’re both just plain weird! Charlie will freeze when she’s getting scratched, Stella’s ears do funny things, Charlie loves to wedge herself between pillows and the couch (or just not lay on them correctly altogether), and more.
Both of the pups LOVE our new truck. Charlie has her own little window to peek out of now.
Part of the reason K wanted a truck was because of how the doors dip down further, closer to lap height. It has a short enough ledge where Stella can put her little paws on and look out the window comfortably (she couldn’t do it in my Jeep as easily; the lap to window ledge ratio was too tall). When she’s not looking out of the window, Stella will nap directly in his lap.
We take the pups with us, as often as we can, especially on weekends away. Last summer, Charlie went out with K’s family on a boat for the first time. Stella enjoyed the swim, but Charlie didn’t want to get in the water.
We also went to the beach, where Stella went out in the water with K while Charlie mostly dug herself into a hole in the sand. She made sure to flick sand into all of our drinks, too.
We’ve noticed that Aloft locations, in particular, are extremely pet-friendly (they don’t require extra pet deposits per dog, have an area for walking, and often have a lounge area where you can eat and bring your pups if the nearby areas don’t have any accommodating restaurants). It’s easier to do in the summer than the winter, but we most recently went to Greenville in the winter on a rainy weekend and still found restaurants where we could bring them and hang out (a favorite of mine was the beer hall with couches).
Stella also got a new harness in Greenville and she is VERY proud of it.
Playtime & Bonding
Stella enjoys wrestling with Charlie. It’s pretty comical to watch them play since Stella is the size of Charlie’s head, so Charlie mostly just sits there and patiently lets Stella attack her.
Since K and Stella moved in when both Charlie and Stella were around 6 years old, they’ve had to learn to live together as well as both of us. Stella and I have a sweet little bond and Charlie ADORES K. Charlie goes nuts when K comes home! It’s cute, because she recognizes the sound of the vehicle turning the corner and then looks expectantly at the doorknob waiting for it to turn. She probably jumps the highest when she’s waiting on the door to open.
Another bonding thing that Charlie does: if she likes you, she will sit on your feet. She will also sit on your lap if you’re sitting down. Because of her size, it’s kind of ridiculous-looking (and heavy!).
Charlie also doesn’t understand belly rubs. She’ll stand over you and let you rub her belly, or she’ll climb across the couch in a weird way that allows you to access her stomach, but she’s never understood the concept of “if I want my belly rubbed, I should roll over on my back”… it’s hilarious that it’s just never clicked for her.
This part is in the video, and it’s my favorite: Stella has what I call “sleep yips” — where she dreams about chasing a squirrel or chipmunk or whatever, and she lets out these muffled little barks. I’ve tried for ages to get it on camera because she always seems to stop right when I hit record. But I finally got some of it!
Charlie and Stella are both turning 9 this next month, and I’ve noticed that one of Charlie’s eyelashes has turned white. It’s especially noticeable when she’s napping:
It’s probably my new favorite thing about her, other than the protest groans she makes when I am forced to move her (Charlie will try to block/take over the entire foot of my side of the bed, and I then have to nudge her, which she very audibly does not like).
Speaking of white hairs, Stella is mostly black but has a tiiiiiny number of white hairs in random places. It almost always makes her look like she picked up an extra hair from Charlie’s shedding, rather than her own fur.
So, there you have it! I hope this canine overload brought a little lightness into your day. If you have a fun story to tell about your pet, I’d love to hear it.