Dipping Our Toes In The Pool


Today, Lily the Lab had an adventure at a local facility that provides dogs with pool time & training to eventually learn to dock dive if the dog chooses.

The trainer reminded us that anything Lily did today was good, and I agreed with her. Of course, in my mind I imagined Lily would be a natural given her natural propensity for running faster than light, jumping and leaping and playing fetch until everyone is ready to pull out their hair.

But, she was a little shy and kind of demure. I suppose I was grateful she didn’t lose her mind and try to drown the trainer. I’m also thankful she didn’t turn the pool into a toilet in any way–the clean-up fees could have eaten away our budget for things as fun as doggy swimming lessons.

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Lab Mom Confessional

I have a gorgeous 17-month old black lab puppy.

If I were one of those parents who had wild human children that I had never successfully tamed, I would call my lab girl “precocious.”

But, I have been a pretty tremendous mom to humans. I have set clear limits, maintained consistency at a well over 90% rate, and have two teenagers that I can trust in any social setting to be polite, well behaved, and appropriate.

Why my human raising skills have not successfully been translated into puppy raising skills is beyond me, but I am willing to admit it: I am squishy when it comes to puppy dogs.

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Our Baby Turns One

13920471_10101048634574920_5292909464915378302_oWhen we brought Lily the Lab home last fall, I thought it would be fun to create a photo album on Facebook and do weekly photos of her like the new moms on my friends list did monthly with their infants.

When my girls were small, we didn’t have all the Pinterest-inspired ideas to try. Most of their first year is documented in a scrapbook album. While I did a pretty decent job, I didn’t keep up with the task as much as I would have liked.

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Adventures in Bunnysitting

As the owner of a good-sized, fenced backyard, I have seen my fair share of neighborhood wildlife. Without fail, we usually serve as landlords to at least one wild bunny hutch each summer. Prior to losing our 12-year-old golden retriever a couple years ago, we had the occasion to have a baby bunny [uninjured, but slobbery] delivered to our backdoor. Annie had a very soft mouth and a motherly demeanor–even for bunnies. Another summer, our small dog, Gibson, was not as diplomatic or careful–Annie did not speak to him for days. After that unfortunate incident, I have kept an eye on Gibson. Lily, our black lab, just turned 1 in August and it was her first summer for bunnies.

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Christmas Eve Shenanigans

Christmas Eve is usually culminates in some sort of meltdown on my part. Today, crisis averted because my husband made the trip to the zoo of a grocery store, my girls wrapped presents [oldest wrapped the youngest’s and vice versa], and I had help doing things that normally would have taken hours and hours.

I’m not 100% certain, but I think the way I began my day helped my mood CEWorkoutconsiderably. I headed to the gym for a 9 a.m. workout with my usual suspects. Our trainer dreamed up the second in a series of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” workouts. You move through the list of activities just like you would if they were parts of the infamous song. Fortunately, today’s workout did not include any fruitcake [burpees]. When I think about where I was a year ago fitness-wise, it boggles the mind. I had not even dreamed of starting regular workouts and I had not taken the Advocare challenge. Feeling pretty good about my prospects for even better fitness in 2016. Continue reading

Seeing Is Believing

Puppies are the ultimate bait and switch. You know they are going to grow, but even when you see it with your own eyes, it’s hard to believe it. Lily was 12.1 pounds at her first vet appointment at 8 weeks. Just six short weeks later, she was pushing 30 pounds and looking much more wise and knowing. Don’t believe me? Take a look for yourself.

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Under the Sea

1staquarium My daughter has wanted an aquarium for quite some time. I had pretty much decided that when her 10th birthday came this summer, we would bite the bullet and put an aquarium in her room.

She’s a pretty creative kid and had, many times, created her own aquariums.

Case in point: the little model at the left with plastic fish suspended by pipe cleaners from a cardboard circle.

This had adorned her dresser for quite awhile. A little reminder to Mom and Dad that she would really like an aquarium in her room.

She and her dad did some recon at a pet store earlier this summer. She picked out some varieties of fish she liked and determined the type of design she might like to see in her tank. She read about some varieties and asked her dad a ton of questions as he’d had fish as a kid. When I was a kid, my grandma had huge fish tanks and I could sit and watch them for hours, but I don’t remember a whole lot about what grandma taught me–except about beta fish. In fact, the last aquarium I had was set up beautifully, but I never stocked it with fish. It was amusing when people came over as they would stare at the tank for some time before finally asking if there were any fish inside it. They were almost offended when I told them, “Um, no.”

So, yesterday, we decided to go to the pet store and see what we could see. We purchased a 15-gallon tank and my daughter could not have been happier when she found a volcano decoration for her tank. She has a thing about underwater aquariumb4fishvolcanoes. It was, she said, the “dream of her life” to have one in her tank. Of course we purchased it plus a bubbler so it could be extra awesome.

Once we had the tank set up and filled [this was a daddy/daughter project], it looked pretty magnificent. The volcano was majestic, the rocks on the bottom of the tank were SO her, and the tank was tall rather than long, so she had plenty of room to sit by it and admire her handiwork.

I admit it, I was a little jealous.

I mean, look at it. That aquarium rocks!

Today, we went to the pet store and purchased four fish for her tank.

They are quite impressive. There is a black molly, a dalmatian lyre tail molly, a yellow fish and an orange fish. They have been christened Michael, Spike, Limoncello, and Maverick. They are pretty wild and crazy, so they will fit in around this joint just fine.

My daughter took a video of them and hopes it will be famous. The page views make her certain her fish are the next celebrities on the cover of People magazine. You never know!

A Community Gem–SICSA works for animals

In the Dayton area, we are blessed by some truly amazing groups of people doing fantastic work. The Society for the Improvement of Conditions for Stray Animals (SICSA) stands as one of my faves. You already know I’m a dog person. Truthfully, I’m an animal person. I love cats, their dander doesn’t care for me–so I admire them at a distance. I first learned of and loved SICSA in 1993 when I met the dog that would set the bar for all other canines in my life.

Oscar, the WonderMutt, had been named Hershey by the staff. He and his littermates had been named after favorite candies. He was the last to be adopted and had been at the center for nearly seven months when we first met him. My fiance at the time had been looking at dogs as a Christmas present for us. He had been to the center on the weekend when all the fosters bring their charges to the center to see and be seen. He had thought one particular dog fit the bill. Unfortunately, I worked a lot of weekends back then and once I realized what he was up to, I asked if we couldn’t please stop by SICSA and look at dogs. I should have said, look at “dog.” It was a time of the week when the dogs were home with fosters…except Oscar. To make a long story short, some big brown eyes and ear licks later and he was in our car heading home with us. His finding story led us to his name–he and his littermates had been discovered by a woman when she heard puppies crying. Someone had driven by her home, picked up the garbage bags in her curbside garbage container, dumped the puppies in, replaced the trash bags, and fled the scene. A dog found in a trash can needs the name Oscar, don’t you think? By his response when we first said it, he absolutely thought so.

Fast forward a handful of years and Oscar had become our one and only baby–and then, he wasn’t. It was the one and only time he was a drama queen.

He was over it soon enough, though, and became a tolerant big brother to M1 as she followed him around, handfed him, built Lego cities on his back and often confused his toys for her own.

He was with us until 2007 when the tumor on his liver finally took over and pushed him over the cliff. A couple years before that, he’d been given “six months tops.” Fortunately, Oscar was as stubborn as his Mama and had we not known the truth, we never would have imagined he had a thing wrong with him. He even ended up with two new ACLs before it was all over and he learned to love romping around the backyard again. He was an amazing dog. I think about him every day and I thank him for the amazing gift that was his friendship.

We have such a soft spot for SICSA that our oldest daughter, M1, even had a birthday party in which she collected treats, toys and other fun things to donate to SICSA. She was such an excited and proud birthday girl to head to the facility and drop off the trunkload of donated goods we’d collected from her friends. Her friends were equally excited to buy a gift for a lonely dog or cat waiting for their forever homes.

Today, SICSA has two adoption facilities and an active online presence on Facebook and beyond. It’s wonderful to have such a terrific organization in our local community and Dayton can be proud of the group’s efforts on behalf of animals in the Miami Valley and beyond.

Must Love Dogs

Sometimes, things work in the weirdest of ways. You just never know when a little something or someone will enter in and either create tons of chaos, tons of love or both.

Meet Gibson. (And, while you’re marveling at his cuteness, please ignore my complete lack of being done–long weekend and this pic was snapped during a backyard bonfire).

Gibson came to our home in February in a roundabout, weird way through an extraordinarily random set of circumstances. Our family went through a loss around Christmas time this past year that knocked us for a complete loop. Too painful and personal to document here, but sufficed to say, it had nothing to do with furry kids and everything to do with human ones. However, as is sometimes the case, a loss of a deep kind can sometimes best be filled by puppy kisses.

Before we tell you all about Gibson, though, you’ll need to be introduced to our other dogs, Annie and Henry.

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