Ode to Howie

A couple weeks ago our 5-pound Maltese dog, Howie, let out a yelp in pain. Not knowing what caused it, we didn't really think much of it. Until it happened again during the middle of the night. And twice the next morning, one of which really upset Faith. It was so random we couldn't pinpoint what was causing it. So we decided to take him to the vet for an emergency appointment.

An oldie but a goodie...Howie LOVED the boppy!
 Dr. Lee was immediately alarmed when, as she was trying to check Howie's heart, he yelped in pain and acted as though he might bite her, which I know he would never do. Even she said it was "really unlike him."
 She thought it might be a slipped disc and said it could a) be a one-time episode b) be chronic pain or c) make him go paralyzed. Upon hearing this, I lost it. Howie is our first baby. We call him Faith's older brother. While things usually change for pets once people are born, it really hasn't been that different for Howie except that there is now a stroller on his walks and a new girl who gives him more scraps than we ever did.

BFFs from day one!
After an x-ray that revealed no slipped disc, but a fused vertebra (we now think he strained his neck) Howie was prescribed some pretty heavy pain meds for 10 days, along with strict orders to rest. In case you haven't met a dog like Howie, a Maltese doesn't ever stop moving while awake, let alone rest. He could be sound asleep, hear a knock at the door, jump off the couch and be biting the ankles of the doorbell ringer in approximately 2.4 seconds. So, seeing him at less than half speed was tough for his mama.

Howie at speed 0.
But enough about that before I make myself cry again. He is doing so much better and I haven't heard a yelp in at least a week, so I'm a happy pet mama. I hesitate to say he's back to 100% because I don't want to jinx him, but things are pretty much back to normal...now where is my wood for knocking on?

Howie looking dapper on a recent occasion
I want to share some Howie stories with you all so you know why I became a basketcase (sidenote: how did basketcases get such a bad rep?) when he was hurting.

Rob and I decided we wanted a puppy the fall of 2007. Full disclosure, I saw a picture of Leona Hemsley's Maltese that inherited her fortune and said to myself, "Now, that's the kind of dog I want." *Husband Hack: I actually told Nic that Malteses were both shed-free and hypoallergenic, which helped convince her. If you know Nic, you'd know that she WAS terrified of all dogs... ALL.*  I remember how snow-white and adorable the Maltese looked sitting on her lap.

We visited a few pet stores just to see the dog in person. My cousin told me not to buy from a pet store, but rather a reputable breeder so we checked ads in the newspaper for a few weeks and Rob did some Internet searching. He's the one who found the breeder from Walnut, Iowa and more importantly, the dog we have come to know and love as Howie. When we met him for the first time, our hearts melted at the 2.2 pound ball of fluff. His sister was for sale too and I dreamed of pink bows in her hair, but because I got to pick the breed, Rob got to pick the sex, and he wanted a male. So glad he did.

Seriously, could he be any cuter?
Love at first sight!
We decided on Howie's name after we met him but before we took him home for the first time. I remember we were driving to the pet store to buy supplies and trying to come up with name. Cubbie? Snoop? Rob threw out "Dave" after Dave Matthews and I vetoed it. In thinking of other musicians, he threw out "Howie Day" who sang our wedding song, "Collide," and that was it. We were both sold. He looked like a Howie, and it just seemed to fit his personality. Howie it was.

When Howie was less than a year old, he was playing in our backyard when the neighbor's English Pit Bull Terrier (think the mean dog from Toy Story) furrowed underneath our chain link fence and attacked him. Howie let out the yelp of a lifetime and pissed all over the place (sorry for the unlady-like term...not really). Thank God Rob was outside at the time and dive-bombed on top of "Lizzy" (who we now know as "Crazy") to get her to release her grip. That bitch (what? it's used literally here.) had bitten Howie underneath his arm, but we couldn't see it at the time. He was limping and shaking pretty badly. After a trip to the emergency vet and a $500 bill (that our neighbors who we still don't care for to this day did pay) Howie was back to himself after just a week... and as fearless as ever.

Another thing about Howie, he is a perpetual little brother. If there are two dogs in the room and Howie is one of them you can guarantee two things. #1 - he will not be the alpha male and #2 - the other dog will get tired of playing with him. He's always trying to start sh-tuff with other dogs and by that I mean a game of "chase me, chase me, chase me."

Howie and the Hulk!
Howie gets these short little bursts of energy where he runs around the house like he's on speed. Especially after his infrequent baths, but sometimes they're just out of the blue. Faith thinks it's hilarious. A friend at mine at work calls this the "zoomies" I think. And I concur.

Howie after one of his first baths...shortly before the zoomies!
 The second time we got Howie a haircut, we took him to this ghetto pet store and when we picked him up two hours later, the dipshit woman who cut his hair turned him into a Schnauzer. Needless to say we never went back there again even though the place Howie goes to now takes longer to get an appointment than my salon.

Howie's first haircut.
This is what he looked like after the 2nd haircut.
 We have never had a problem with Howie chewing up our shoes or our furniture or really anything, except my underwear...or any female's underwear for that matter (don't wanna make it seem like I'm special). He also likes chewing up tissues, but that wouldn't be as funny as watching Rob catch Howie in the act. (No worries, totally PG).

Last but not least, Howie is a smart dog. He's so smart that he learned all his tricks like sit, lay down and rollover within a few months. Now he does them in succession before we even ask just so he can get his treat sooner. And ever since he got hurt, a blink is worth a treat in my book. Let's just say he might be tipping the scales at 6 pounds next year. Lookout!

Howie on his 2nd birthday!
And if all of the above doesn't give you an idea of why I love him as much as I do...here's some puppy pictures to help you fall in love with him too...but not too much. You gotta get your own Maltese. Might I recommend Walnut, Iowa ... also known as "Home of the Howiedogs" in case you hadn't heard!

I believe this is his shirt that says, "Dear Santa, define naughty."
Isn't he just a teddybear?
Howie trying to steal a look at my Christmas list.
Howie and dad rockin out before that first haircut!
Howie never found a sleeping position he didn't like.
And he's great with very tolerant of kids.

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