Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Day In the Life of Achilles

Before I get to the subject matter of this post, I want to congratulate my cousin Erin and her husband Brian on the birth of their new baby boy, Benjamin Matthew! Congrats to the new parents and welcome to the family, Ben!

Now on to Achilles...

I started thinking that in light of all my posts about Achilles' many mental issues and challenges he presents us with (see here, here and here), he might be getting himself a bad reputation on this here blog. Sure, I do counter those "OMG HOW DO I DEAL WITH THIS PSYCHO DOG" posts with some shots of him in cute holiday gear (see here, here and here), but there is more to Achilles' life than separation anxiety and cute outfits with fake facial hair. And that is what this post is here to show you.

Before we get to Achilles' daily routine, I thought I should update you on the latest Achilles crisis - the Moving of the Crate, Part 2: The Destruction of Our Duvet Cover. We tried a couple different things to keep Achilles in place while in his crate, and I think we've finally got it figured out. First we tried getting those rubber floor mats that hold rugs in place, and putting them underneath the plastic mats we have "protecting" the floor. Well, that holds the mats in place, but the crate seems to be able to slide on top of the mats now. And we HAVE to have the mats to shield the floor from as much drool as possible. So we also bought one of those really thick, rough welcome mats (although this one says "Go Away") and put the front of the crate on that (with the rubber rug slide-stopper thingies underneath it). We were hoping the welcome mat would be coarse enough that he wouldn't be able to move on top of it. While we were testing that theory, we put a big cardboard box between the crate and the bed so if our plan didn't work, Achilles at least wouldn't be able to reach the bed for more destruction. This is how that worked out:

Uh. He seems to have moved.

The box seemed to be a good call, because he ate a giant hole in it. Better that box than my comforter, I say.

Hmm. That clearly did not work. But, then we figured out the big secret: Achilles seems to only be able to move the crate forward when it is put in long-ways like that, probably because he is able to get the momentum of the rest of the crate behind him as he moves forward (look at me thinking physics!). So, we turned the crate the other way. It's a little harder to get him in now, because the door opens up into our heat/AC unit, but it's do-able. And now, if he moves forward, he just pushes himself into a wall, not towards the bed. Success! Plus we have that thick welcome mat in front of his crate, so in order to head towards the bed, he would either have to move that mat or lift himself up over it. And, for good measure, we put a 20-lb dumbbell in front of the crate to make it even harder to move. I will not be outsmarted, dog!

Achilles' area now

So, that's our current setup. It seems to be working for now. I'll be sure to let you know when he figures out how to unlock the padlock on the door of his crate, or when he figures out how to bench press twice his weight to move that dumbbell. Yes, I'm saying WHEN. I am certain these things will happen. And then we will be on the news, I'm pretty sure, because WHAT KIND OF DOG IS THIS.

But, now let's get to Achilles on a day-to-day basis, because contrary to the impression I'm giving here, he really does not spend all of his time being a lunatic. He really is very sweet most of the time.

This dog is definitely a creature of habit. He thrives on routine. When things divert from his routine, he gets very anxious and squeaky at best and very dramatic at worst. Example: this weekend while Eric was in Florida, Achilles went on a hunger strike. He wouldn't eat. That meant his...uh...outdoor habits were disrupted as well, and he was shaky all the time. He also did not play ONCE and spent all his time in the bedroom alone (after reading the rest of this post, you will understand how abnormal this is). As soon as Eric got back, the routine was restored and now he is back to his usual self. In light of this, it does worry me that I will be gone for two weeks for this cruise, but I hope he'll be okay and not starve himself to prove a point or anything.

Okay, I'm still not making him sound any less crazy. So let's talk routine, shall we? Have a look into Achilles' life:

Every morning, Achilles gets up when Eric does. Eric takes him outside, then when they come back in, Achilles comes back into the bed to sleep by me. As Eric showers, I usually start waking up. The second I start stirring, Achilles comes and lays on my chest so I'll pet him. We usually cuddle like that until Eric comes in the room to get dressed for work.

As soon as Eric comes in the room, Achilles growls and runs to get either his bone or his frog. This cycle continues the whole rest of the time Eric gets ready for work: when Eric leaves the room, Achilles comes to cuddle with me. As soon as Eric comes back, Achilles growls and pounces on his toy of choice. Sometimes he and Eric play a little bit before he leaves for work.

Achilles loves a good bone to chew on.

After Eric leaves, Achilles and I head out into the living room. He immediately finds a comfortable spot to sleep and stays there for a couple of hours. He prefers a spot in the sun, if possible, but any comfy spot will do. If it's a dreary day, he'll usually find a spot on the couch so he can be touching me at all times. If he's cold, he'll cuddle up against my legs under a blanket.

Achilles in his chair in the sun

When he gets hot, he makes this face.


Sometimes you just have to put your feet up.

Around lunch time, Achilles generally decides it's time for me to pet him. He will come and sit next to me (and sometimes put one paw on my leg) and stare at me until I invite him into my lap. Then he will generally cuddle up and rest his head on my chest while I pet him.

Mom. Pet me.

That's the stuff.

Then, because I don't usually have the stamina to pet him for as long as he requires, I go for a distraction and ask him if he's hungry. He gets very excited and runs to meet me at his food storage bin in our bedroom, then chases me back out to the kitchen while I fill his bowl. He might eat a little bit of food, then it's back to cuddling and sleeping in the sun.


Ah, sunshine.

Achilles is a BIG fan of licking. He especially likes to try to lick me after two of my afternoon activities: working out and showering. After I do each of these he follows me around the house, trying to lick my forehead. I don't generally let him, but he tries every day. That dog loves to lick.

Achilles licking the sliding glass door at my dad's house on my wedding day. Yeah.

As the afternoon wears into the evening, Achilles starts to be a little more on edge. He seems to know about when it's getting to be time for Eric to come home. He pays more attention to every little noise in the hallway which means he gets pretty barky while we wait for Eric.

In the warm weather months, we might walk to meet Eric on his walk home. Those days, Achilles gets very excited when he hears my phone ring around "Eric time" because he knows we'll be leashing up and heading out to meet him. When we start approaching Eric, I ask him, "Achilles, where's Eric?" and he starts checking every person who walks by to see if that's Eric. When he finally sees him, the tail goes crazy and he runs up to him. It's very cute. Those boys are BFFs.

Don't be convinced when Eric says he doesn't like the dog. Look at those faces!

This time of year, however, it's just too cold to take Achilles outside for any longer than absolutely necessary. So, we wait for Eric in the apartment. I often sit by our living room window and watch for Eric - I can see him crossing the street from our window. When I spot him, all I have to say to Achilles is, "I see him!" and it's go time. He freaks out and runs to the door where he waits, listening intently to hear Eric in the hall.

Achilles waiting for Eric

When he does hear Eric coming, he runs to get either his bone or his frog to greet Eric at the door. He's just always so happy to see him. As Eric said the other day, we should all strive to be as happy about ANYTHING in life as the dog is about him coming home. Check out the videos below...the first one shows Achilles waiting for Eric. I don't have a full video of his response when Eric comes in, but the second video is Achilles greeting us when we picked him up from the kennel this summer. That should give you a pretty good idea about his level of excitement when his family is reunited!

VIDEO: Achilles waiting for Eric to come home. Watch for it - at the 56-second mark, he hears Eric in the hallway and his tail goes nuts, then he runs to get his bone. Awww.

VIDEO: Achilles welcoming us home at the kennel

Once Eric is home, we eat dinner while Achilles humps plays with his frog. I'll spare you pictures of that, and just give you this one of him holding on to that frog for dear life as I pick him up.

Crazy dog.

After dinner, one of us (usually Eric, because he's very sweet) takes Achilles outside again. While the boys are downstairs, I usually hide. Then when Achilles comes back in, he comes to find me. I'm usually hiding in the same set of places (bathtub, closet, behind the bedroom door, on the kitchen counter), so he cycles through them all until he finds me. It's very cute.

We spend the rest of the night all hanging out and cuddling on the couch. Usually once Eric is home, Achilles cuddles with him and growls at me if I try to cuddle with him too much. It's like he's trying to look cool in front of his friend Eric and is all, "get away from me, Mom, you're EMBARRASSING ME!" Ha.

Oh, those boys.

Achilles just loves him some Eric.

When it's time for bed, Achilles waits patiently in the bedroom while we get ready. As soon as we lay down, he climbs up onto Eric's pillow and licks his face for a bit. I told you, he loves to lick, and Eric is the only one who doesn't generally mind it, so there's another reason why they're BFFs. When Eric has had enough and cuts him off, Achilles will crawl down towards the foot of the bed and nestle into a good spot for the night, usually between Eric and me. We all sleep the night away, then repeat this whole process the next day!

So you see? He's not all bad. Sure, he can be a brat sometimes, and he's definitely spoiled, and he definitely has issues. But, he's also sweet and loyal and loves us with every fiber of his being. He's a good dog!


Dad said...

Say it again...he is a good dog..he is a good dog. :o)

Anonymous said...

I didn't realize Achilles is such a cuddly thing! Definitely has personality!
Love, Aunt Rachel

Becky said...

LOL I just got the giggles because everytime you tried to paint this wonderful picture of Achilles, he continued to sound like a nut!! But you assure him that his Grammy will always love him just the way he is!