Saturday, September 8, 2012

A True Story

Once upon a time...

We had no dogs.
'Cause I insisted on having it that way.

Then we got him:

A year and a half later, we got her...

Penelope, aka "Menina"
... who, just before summer, met up with the neighbor and had these two:

Lady Galadriel & Guinevere, aka "Mutanta" & "Bitty", among other names - 6 weeks old today
And so far, it's been a grand adventure.

To be continued...

Saturday, July 28, 2012

It's Been a While... & I'm Growing

Love this photo, courtesy of our generous friend, Amy, who visited recently.

I've been terribly negligent of this blog, but my love for our dogs grows! (Well, except at dinner time, when Rhodes likes to hover too close to the kitchen area, begging for a scrap.)

There was a time when I wouldn't touch unfamiliar dogs (or even some that were familiar) - not out of fear of dogs, but out of a fear of germs. 
Apparently, I've gotten over this.

Just a few days ago, I approached a lady walking two (very hairy) dogs, and I stopped running to greet them. The owner "warned" me that, by stopping, I was sending a message to the female dog that I wanted to pet her. 
So I did. 
Then I extended the same kindness to her male companion. Under ordinary circumstances, this wouldn't be a big deal, but I live in the Houston area, it's summer, and I was running. 
And these (long-haired) dogs shed.


Anyway, as I said good-bye to Sarah, Buster, and their owner, and rounded the corner toward home, it occurred to me that I hadn't introduced myself to the sweet lady with whom I had just swapped dog stats, nor had I asked her name.
In the past, I would have carried a conservation with her and completely ignored the dogs.
Next time I see her, I'll be sure to seek a balance.

Through the years, we've owned a snake, a turtle, gerbils, frogs, and rabbits, and I've held many insects in my hands;
but for some reason, it has taken me YEARS to appreciate dogs! I'm so glad to have finally gotten over it. They really are amazing creatures with so much personality!

Just yesterday, as I was driving home from a friend's house, I noticed a dog trotting leisurely through our neighborhood. It was wearing collar, so I figured that I should practice The Golden Rule. I had Graham come out and help me catch the dog to see if a phone number might be attached. She evaded us briefly, but when we again found her, she was very cooperative.

Sedona had a very sweet disposition, and had apparently been let out by the pool guy.

Now, I would NEVER have put a strange dog into my vehicle in the past. EVER! But Sedona was tugging at my heartstrings. By the time I finally connected with her owners, we had brought her to our back yard and supplied some water for her. Who knew how long she had been happily traversing the neighborhood in the heat?

It turns out that she's a hunting dog who frequently seeks a way out. I could tell by the way that she immediately started checking the perimeter of our yard for a breach, that she must be some sort of escape artist.
In the meantime, Rhodes and Menina were going NUTS inside the house, eager to get outside and investigate this newcomer.

Before long, Sedona was reunited with her family, and I was honored to have been responsible for helping to make it happen. It's what I would want for our dogs.

If all of that isn't proof enough that I've become a sappy dog owner who throws caution, comfort, and sometimes even cleanliness to the wind, check out where I recently allowed Gabriela to bathe Menina:

She caught me at a mentally-compromised moment, or something, because I said yes to her using my bathtub. I don't think it'll happen again, though, and I was sure to use LOTS of bleach before getting in there, myself!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Reason #2

Rhodes knows how to open the blinds, and he loves to watch what goes on outside.

Not long ago, I was solid on my reasons for not wanting a dog. Very near the top of the list (right after the way they smell) was the inconvenience caused by the responsibility. We tend to be a spontaneous family; but with a dog, we have to plan ahead in order to make sure that Rhodes can go "potty" outside, have plenty to eat, and not have enough idle time to get into mischief. 

For the most part, he's a "good boy", in that he's only gotten into the trash about three times when we've been away from the house. He never loses control of his functions in the house, even if we're gone all day (which is very, very seldom). Like all good dog owners, we try to be as considerate as possible to his needs, while still enjoying outings.

So, yesterday, when our children had their first track meet of the year, we were faced with a dilemma. The stadium was located about 40 minutes from our house, and someone would have to drive back to let Rhodes and "Menina" outside, as meets generally last all day. Having arrived at the track around 7:30 a.m., we knew that we'd need to do this by early afternoon.

The lot fell on Caelyn and me to make the trek. We moved quickly in hopes of returning in time to see the other four children run in the 400m race for their respective age groups. As we drove toward home, Caelyn mentioned that, for this very reason, she plans not to own a dog when she gets married. (I hope her future husband will agree, or else...)

As talked, Caelyn reminded me that Craig's long-term goal involves land and more dogs, and that this will mean even less freedom for me to come and go. I pondered this thought and even wrestled with the difference between having dogs and having the dogs become our lifestyle. After thinking about it, I was reminded that, although it is an issue to consider what to do with pets when we occasionally travel, for me to spend most of my time at home is actually a good thing. I delight in being "busy at home" and minding my own business.

When Caelyn and I arrived at home, the dogs were so excited to see us, and Menina - who loves to give her version of "hugs" - wouldn't even go outside right away. Instead, she stayed right by my side, wagging her tail and soaking in all of the loving attention I was pleased to give her. Eventually, I went outside with her, just so she'd go, but even then she stayed right with me. Finally, Rhodes came and coaxed her into the yard. He loves having her as a playmate, and I was glad to have him as an ally. 

Rhodes was hesitant to come back inside, since he could sense that we were leaving again. Once he was in the house and Menina was in her crate, we headed back to the meet and made it within minutes of the next of our events! It was such an exciting time, and today I've been nursing a dry, scratchy throat - the badge of a mom who's not afraid to be loud and crazy when her children are competing. :-)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Dogs Are People, Too?

Um... No. You won't find me among those who equate dogs with humans. It wasn't that long ago that I was numbered with those who tried to avoid other people's dogs (the licking, sniffing, jumping... and that awful smell - even of clean ones - they just don't smell like people).

Still, I find it amazing that God has designed these beautiful creatures (yes, my opinion has drastically changed since owning two) to read our social cues and even respond emotionally!

Our family recently experienced a mini-crisis that took a bit of an emotional toll on us. My heart was blessed to see Penelope (better known in our house as "Menina") rush to Gabriela's side and lay her head on her shoulder as she cried. It was as if Menina were trying to give Gabriela a hug! Rhodes, too, seemed burdened by Gabriela's sadness.

It's astounding, really, that these dogs have been given the ability to show compassion. Gaining a better understanding of them has helped me to better appreciate "who" they are. Really, they're such sweet animals, and loads of fun!

I was thinking recently, as we all huddled together with the dogs in my closet during a potential tornado threat, that Rhodes is so loyal to us. He's over 100 pounds of muscle with a very strong bite, yet I can get nose-to-nose with him and feel no threat. Who would think that such a strong animal would be a safe companion in close quarters?

And who would have thought that I'd ever invite the dogs into my closet??

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Quantum Leap

It has been a LONG time since I've posted about the Adventures of Rhodes and Penelope (aka "Menina"). There's much to tell about our time in Texas so far; but I'll just start with today.

We made a great discovery at the local farmers' market recently, and Craig has had so much fun trying it out.

The lead that Rhodes is wearing in the photo is made of hemp and is worn across the chest for a hands-free experience.
Trey Howell designed this lead, and other similar products, after training dogs and not really finding a product that he liked enough to recommend to owners.

Craig appreciates that this hands-free option allows him to let Rhodes do what he loves best - RUN - during a bike ride, in a much safer way.

The carabiner allows a longer reach with the detachable portion of the lead. Rhodes really likes this option. :-)

Craig would look sexy even on a tricycle. Mm!

Gabriela joined us for our quick pre-gym neighborhood jaunt today.

I've never been to this part of our neighborhood before. The baseball field is right next to the horse stables. 

The home stretch

There's plenty to tell about this little cutie, too, but I'll save it for a later date. It's hard to believe that she's the same puppy. She looks so different now!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Meet Menina

Remember this post?

That longing has been fulfilled. Meet Menina: my belated Mother's Day present.

My sweet children devised a scheme that included online research by our youngest daughter, Gabriela, and a two-hour drive (one way) by the three oldest children and our good friend, Jon.

I'm in love!

She's passed inspection. Rhodes loves her, too.
EDIT: After having second thoughts about her name, we've changed it to "Penelope". We're still uncertain about even this. Craig likes the name "Pippa". We'll see long-term what sticks, I suppose.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Years ago, long before I became a dog l-... a dog lo-...
before I had a dog of my own whom I enjoy, I observed the lengths to which other dog owners will go for their "best friends".
This got my wheels turning, and I had an idea to start making gourmet homemade dog biscuits for sale.
Perhaps it was homeschooling five children, or maybe it was moving around rather often -- or it could have been the struggle to plan daily meals for our family of seven -- but I never got around to pursuing this idea.

We've had Rhodes for over a year and a half, and I finally made him some homemade biscuits over the weekend. An online search led me to this link, and a trip to Sur La Table supplied the cookie cutters in dog-themed shapes.

These were super easy to make. I did substitute the canned pumpkin with fresh, baked sweet potatoes. I couldn't find pumpkin in a can (which I'd ONLY use for dog food), and there aren't any fresh pumpkins this time of year.

My mom shared with me the story my dad tells of what my Grandpap used to do to demonstrate to customers in his Canine Commissary (in the '60s) to show that they were purchasing a good-quality dog food. Grandpap made all of the food on-site, using fresh ingredients from the butcher and the market. After naming the ingredients, he'd cut off a piece and pop it into his mouth, promising that if it was good enough for him to eat, it would certainly be good enough for their dogs to eat.

Too much money has gone into our teeth for us to do any such demonstration with these biscuits. Still, I trust that Rhodes is enjoying a good-quality treat.