The Munchkins

Life with identical twins

Lark, Confidence

In the last six months I’ve realized that Lark’s anxiety is getting worse, not better. She’s been with us for almost 3 years now and somehow, she is not much more comfortable in our house than when she came to us. That pains me. I’d hope we would help her build confidence, but that didn’t seem to be happening.

I started looking for a trainer to help us. One day as we were leaving riding lessons I realized that one of the women that we ride with is a dog trainer! Over the next few months I got to know her, and we chatted about dogs. I’ll be honest, it took me a while to pull the trigger because it took me a while to pinpoint what I wanted her to work on. In the mean time, she gave us advice a few times on our fosters, and finally I asked her to come evaluate our dogs.

When most people think about dog trainers, they think of teaching a dog the common commands like sit, stay, and down. While I’d love to eventually get there with Lark, those aren’t even on my radar at this point. Our priorities are helping Lark with her confidence, help Midas stop being an asshole, and help Annie stop barking.

Mary sent the training plan to me this week and I almost cried when I read it. We had worked with a trainer a year ago and she had zero ideas on how to help Lark. Mary had four sessions mapped out with things that would help all three dogs. It hurt a little to read her assessment of Lark as being very shut down, but it didn’t surprise me.

I’m so excited to start this journey. I’m hopeful that with some work, we can have a happy, healthy, well behaved pack. We’re also going to take a long break from fostering. Lark’s anxiety around certain things has gotten much worse in the last six months, and I have to wonder if the fosters haven’t worsened things in some way. While I love fostering, I have to put our dogs first. At least for a while. Hopefully we can get back to it eventually, but for now it feels right to focus all my love on my pack.

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Thunder Shirt

I’ll be honest, I’m not entirely sure why I waited this long to buy Lark a Thunder Shirt. I think I thought we would alleviate her anxiety some other way? But we haven’t. We’ve treated her allergies and her itching, she’s been with us two years, and she’s still incredibly anxious a lot of the time. In fact I think her anxiety even ramped up a bit this summer.

The verdict? It helps. May not in every situation, but definitely in the big ones.

The Thunder Shirt wraps tightly around her belly, and is supposed to act kind of like a swaddle for a baby. The first day she wore it I didn’t notice any difference so I kept it off the next day. But, that evening there was a storm and she was shaking on the couch next to me. I put on the thunder shirt and the shaking stopped. I also put it on before her trip to the dermatology vet. She hates this place because it’s a lot of poking and prodding. She cried when we pulled into the parking lot so again, I thought it wasn’t helping. Normally I have to leave if they need to do anything to her, but she stayed quiet while the doctor was looking at the surgery site and while she pulled out the last stitch. As she was grabbing the stitch I said “Wait a second. I didn’t have to leave!” If I’m in the room she normally freaks out, but I was holding her and she was super calm. She even looked a little sleepy! The shirt definitely kept her calm.

She was still anxious while eating her dinner, and still anxious if I wasn’t near, but overall, it clearly helps in situations where anxiety is beyond just the normal every day level. With those results, I’m super thrilled!

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Vet Week

Like Shark Week except more expensive?

Both dogs went to their specialists this week. Lark’s appointment was planned, Midas was more last minute.

Midas’ eye wasn’t looking good. It was often red, and the swelling hadn’t gone down even though it had been a year since diagnosis. The vet immediately noticed he was squinting and was concerned. He checked his pressure and it was 34.5, higher than it should be.

Long story short, the eye drop we are using isn’t controlling his pressure as it should. We are adding in another drop that lessens fluid production. I give it 3 times per day and I can already notice a difference. His eye is visibly smaller. My concern is that this dosing schedule is not sustainable. Morning and night I give three drops, fifteen minutes apart (latanoprost, the new drop, then artificial tears). In the afternoon we are to give the new drop again.

The next step is surgery. I think it’s more of a when do we do surgery, not if we do surgery at this point. There are two options I’m considering. The first option is laser surgery. This is less invasive, and they use a laser to destroy the part of the eye that produces fluid so that it produces less fluid. I forgot to ask if we still have to do drops after this but my guess is yes, we would still need to do the latanoprost. The other option is to remove his eye completely. This is more invasive, but obviously a complete solution. No eye, no pressure, no glaucoma, no eye drops, no headaches for Mighty Man. It’s a slam dunk, but it’s also clearly more invasive. Do we try to keep the eye? That is the question that I can’t answer at this point. I feel like less invasive is better? But then complete solution is maybe better?

Lark had a growth on her foot that we’ve been keeping an eye on since she came to us. It started out as .5cm, then grew to 1cm, and then grew again. It didn’t bother her, but if we didn’t take it off soon, they wouldn’t be able to because they wouldn’t be able to close the skin. Fun fact, it was cheaper to do this at the fancy dermatology vet than it was to do it at our regular vet because they have a laser. Regular vet would have needed to do general anesthesia, laser doesn’t even require sedation. It was seriously half the price.

Lark is clearly an anxious dog. They thought they *might* need to sedate her, but as soon as I left she froze in place and it wasn’t needed. I told the vet tech that maybe she thought if she stayed still enough they wouldn’t notice she was there? We chuckled at that one. The procedure only took 45 minutes, they sutured and bandaged her up and we were out of there. They sent me home with a donut collar, but since she’s a rat terrier with long legs it does no good. I currently have a sock on her foot, but we will need to find her an e-collar this weekend. Wish me luck. An anxious dog in an e-collar? I’m sure nothing will go wrong there.

As the evening went on I noticed her toes were swollen, so I think they bandaged her a little too tight. I’ve been clipping a little bit here and there to loosen it up, but I have a bad feeling I’ll be taking it all off and winging it sometime today. Lucy had a growth removed from her paw too, and that thing was hell to heal. There must be something about paws!

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I took a bunch of pictures one morning earlier this week, as well as pictures outside last night and every single picture except this one was blurry. This camera focuses slightly different than my old camera, and I think it’s time I sit down with the manual and figure it out rather than hoping it picks the right focus spot. I also want to figure out the wifi piece so it’s easier to snag pictures off the camera.

This weekend, my goal is to take some close ups of the girls. I used to take so many! But I just don’t do that anymore. I probably have more pictures of the dogs than the kids these days and that needs to change.

Here’s the ever gorgeous Larkie. We have switched from her winter fleece to her spring fleece. Sometimes she doesn’t wear any fleece at all! It’s so weird seeing her without one though. Her fur looks so white and for some reason, she seems like such a peanut.

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I asked Alexa if it was going to snow and she said yes, to expect about two inches. I think we’re at 4 inches at this point, and it’s still snowing as of Sunday evening! Alexa, who gives you your forecast info???

Sunday after dinner I realized we had a low key, boring weekend and if I wanted some content for the good old blog, I should probably take some pictures. Threw the dogs out in the snow and voila! These were taken at 7:00pm, so they are heavily edited. Heavily. Also, I cranked up the ISO so grainy. Just look beyond that k?

Lark was not amused. Not at all. She avoids the snow at all costs and will normally only go where I’ve shoveled or Annie has worn a path, but she had no options and her fleece suit only covers so much. Sorry girl!

Nevada had her first adoption event on Sunday. I’m fairly proactive at events. When people approached the dogs I immediately went up to them and said “Are you looking for anyone in particular? No? MEET NEVADA.” She’s young, she can be an only dog, and she’s potty trained. She’s rescue dog gold! Unfortunately, no one we talked to today was interested in adopting right now, they were more looking for in the future. Also, we decided she’s a chihuahua/shiba inu mix based on her curly tail and her face/ears.

Annie is my only dog that loves the snow and doesn’t mind it one bit. She was tearing it up out there! Nevada finally joined her and raced around a bit. I really need those two to start playing to get Nev’s energy out, and to help her lose some weight. She’s already lost a pound!

This was the best picture I could get of all three dogs playing (I left Midas in the house, I’m not that cruel). Annie was having a blast and the other two were lobbying hard to go back inside.

Pretty girl.

And another pretty girl!

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Poor Larkie. She has quite a few skin issues. I talked to my regular vet about them, but eventually went to a veterinary dermatologist. (McKeever in Eden Prairie if you’re local.)

She has three main issues. At first I thought they were all connected since they all present at the same time, but turns out that is just coincidence.


Pattern baldness. She loses hair on her neck, her buttocks, behind her ears, and recently down the fronts of her legs. Apparently this is common in rat terriers. At some point the hair might not grow back, but at this point it still does (and then she loses it again). Her fur is thin at best, so she wears a sweater or fleece most of the time. I’ve found that the fleece suits that go down her legs work best because they keep her warmer, and they don’t irritate her skin by chafing. I’ve since cut the turtleneck off this one to make it more comfortable, and we have another similar in grey.

Her spots. In the winter her skin is white underneath her fur, but in the spring her spots start showing and by summertime, she is as spotted as a dalmatian. Turns out she has extra melanin in her skin and it comes to the surface when she is exposed to more sunlight. Nothing to worry about luckily!

Allergies. She gets pretty itchy, which we’ve been assuming is seasonal allergies. We treated them with various medicine last year, but my hope was to be able to pinpoint what she’s allergic to with allergy testing, and then do allergy shots year round to avoid the medicine. Allergy shots are more natural, more specific, and work better than medicine. The vet did allergy testing in July and oh man, that was rough. They shaved her fur and injected 54 different allergens into her skin. I had to keep her calm through 54 pricks! It was not good. Worse, she reacted to nothing! Oddly enough, I had awful seasonal allergies but also never reacted to anything with allergy testing. Turns out my inflammation was from gluten, which made my histamines react to seasonal allergens. Lark eats a grain free diet so that shouldn’t be her issue, but we repeated the allergy testing on Saturday (for free!). She’s been itchy lately, so it seemed like a good time to recheck.

This time I was smart and asked them to sedate her. She did much better with the allergy testing, and they were able to do it faster since she wasn’t wiggling on the table. And she reacted to things! A few weeds (that bloom in the fall, which explains why she didn’t react in July), dust (you’re in the wrong household for that allergy!), and mice. Now that we know what she’s allergic to, we can treat it appropriately. She will get diluted allergy shots every two days and then sometime in March or April it switches to every 20 days and a non-diluted formula. I think that her itching and her anxiety are at least somewhat tied together, so hopefully this will help all around.

Lark is the one I worry most about. Annabelle certainly gets anxious in situations, and Midas obviously has his quirks, but overall, those two lead relatively normal lives. Lark is always waiting for the other shoe to drop kick her, even after a year and a half with us. She has made huge strides in that time, but still gets scared every day from every day noises. I have a trainer coming in at the end of the month and I’m hoping that will help us help her. I just want to give her as many peaceful moments in her day as I can, and if that means $400 vet bills, so be it. (I did however make sure to get some free advice on how to treat Midas’ seasonal allergies this spring.)

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Happy birthday Lark!


Oh Larkie. You’re four!

Last year, Lark’s birthday slipped under the radar. We had just adopted her, and by the time I really looked at her vet paperwork, her birthday had already passed. She got her pupcake last week, and will get spoiled all day today.

Back before we adopted Annie, I would read the dog bios on Underdog’s site and think I could never deal with a dog that was nervous or shy. Once we met Lark, it was heartbreaking to see how she had clearly been abused. She has so much anxiety about all the things, but even with that, she tries so hard to be a part of everything. Over the last year I’ve watched her confidence grow. She’s more relaxed around my parents, and the girls. In the last few months she’s started giving kisses (watching Demi constantly kiss us hopefully showed her the way!) and she even gave kisses to Delaney the other night. Delaney was over the moon and couldn’t believe Lark was showing her that much affection.


I think going to the lake has been a big part of her social growth. It’s so good for her to get out of her comfort zone and still be okay. When she’s out on the boat, all of the anxiety is gone. She just chills and watches us fish.

When we first got her she would run away any time I came towards her and tried to pick her up. Now she sits and waits when I ask her to, and will even walk in front of me, stopping so I scoop her up on my way. I feel like we have a good groove and she trusts me to keep her safe.

Larkie girl, you have taught me patience and love and once again, I pledge to you that it will only be the good stuff – and lots of lake days! – from here on out.

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Larkie Lu

Larkie had an awesome week at the lake! You could really tell she was relaxed and enjoying herself. She likes my mom and knows she’s safe, but she still generally needs me near by in order to let my mom pick her up. Not this trip! My mom was able to pick her up at least twice, and Lark jumped up and sat next to her on the pontoon when we cruised around the lake. This is huge. HUGE.


Lark and Annie went fishing with us all three times. As soon as we got on the pontoon her nose went in the air and started sniffing. I have no idea why she relaxes so much on the lake but she does!

We’d been fishing for a bit when I looked down and thought “What on earth is Lark doing?” Her butt, is up on Annabelle’s back.


Here’s the view from another angle. God bless Annie, she just let Lark do her thing. Delaney thought maybe this was Lark doing downward dog?


My mom rocked Lark on the swing Saturday afternoon and we quickly realized she loved it. Must be the rocking motion? Even after my mom got up, Larkie stayed and just chilled on the pillow. She ended up here a few more times over the weekend.

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Pictures of Pooches

I have been horrible about taking pictures with my big camera this summer. I’ve gotten out of the habit of taking it everywhere with me, and I just can’t seem to remember to pick it up. So Sunday, Delaney grabbed it and took a bunch of pictures. She did an awesome job!


caden pose



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Lark the Lake Dog

We quickly realized that we couldn’t leave all three dogs back at the cabin with my mom when we went out fishing. It was too chaotic for her. It was an easy decision to always take Lark with us, since she does better when she’s near me. Turns out, she loves being on the water!

A lot of her anxiety comes from being so afraid that something hiding around a corner or behind something, or some noise is going to hurt her. She’s very skittish inside houses, or even in our backyard. But on the lake, she can see everywhere! It’s nice and wide open, and even better, it’s quiet out there.

This night we were all fishing on one end of the boat, so she happily lay down on her towel bed and fell asleep. She was happy as a clam!

The week at the lake was really, really good for her. We got in almost daily long walks, much longer than the walks than we normally take at home. Plus there were plenty of walks to and from the boat and the beach, and paddle boarding. I always hope that exercise eases some of her anxiety, but it’s hard to know. She also was much more relaxed around my parents by the end of the week. She wouldn’t run away from either of them, and let my mom pick her up easily. Baby steps!

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