Saturday, November 20, 2010

The New Kid: Meet Cousin Lou Lou

She's French, she's fiesty and she's the worst disruption in Linus' life since Mommy started scooping the poop from the backyard. Lou Lou has arrived, and with an attitude all her own.

As soon as my sister's 9-week-old brindle, petite Frenchie pup was introduced to Linus (and friends) last week, it was apparent that each Frenchie is blessed with its own distinct personality. Lou Lou is confident, boistrous and an aggressor (hmm.. reminds me a bit of her mother). Linus is a hippie pacifist who shuns violence (and that's the way I raised him). Despite Lou Lou's attempts to engage Linus in puppy play, Linus shyed away from her even to the point of finding refuge in his kennel. He found quiet moments to lock his sorrowful eyes with mine, visibly exasperated, almost as if he was crying out, "Mommy, why did you let her come?"

I'll go ahead and admit it for the record: Lou Lou (named for her future home, Louisville, Ky.) is a cute and funny little girl who likes to give kisses, wrestle her toys and collapse for impromptu naps with just about anybody. She's got big sweet eyes, a true bulldog strut and an inquisitive nature about her, and I can't wait to get to know her better (and for her to settle down!). Believe me, I'm probably more excited than anyone about having another Frenchie to fawn over.

I enjoyed the puppy stage with my Linus, but I also know I've raised a wonderful dog who is obedient, intelligent and just as adorable in my eyes as he ever was. So, until little Lou Lou's puppy stage wears off, I'll be flooding Linus with all the love and treats that he can take. Just so he knows that to me, he's never old news.

 Here's some pics Lou Lou and Linus!
Picking up my sister and the puppy from the airport - Linus wouldn't acknowledge that the little squirt was even in the car.

Lou Lou and "Aunty E," as I am being called.

Plenty of pink! Lou Lou chews her first Kong.

Hard to get a good, quiet shot of that little girl!
Lou Lou with her Mom, my sister Laura Marie. Less than two weeks until these two call KY home again!

Here's me with my lovely sisters: Laura Marie and Hannah.

And let's not forget our special Linus... don't strangle him Aunt Hannah!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The New Mommy Jitters

The home phone rang around 11 p.m. two nights ago. When the home phone rings that late at my house, you can bet it's one of three things: a sister, a telemarketer, or a sister. It was, in fact, a sister.

A very anxious sister who has very recently  made an extremely important decision in her life: to have a baby (doggie). A little wide-eyed, bat-eared, pot-bellied baby who looks like she may have dipped her front paw in a puddle of white paint and whipped it down her chest. I'm happy to announce that our Frenchie family is expanding, and just in time for my sister to move within 70 miles of Linus and me.

We discovered six-week-old No Name From Louisiana after Laura Marie semi-seriously began perusing puppies online last week. She e-mailed me some considerable candidates, none of them had "the undeniable look of love at first sight" that you have to have when you make such a momentous decision on the mere promise of a picture. When little No Name's image popped up in my inbox, there was no doubting the smushed face. Not only did her innocent eyes plea a serious case for sweetness, but I was overtaken by an overwhelming sense of "this is the one." Not the one for me, of course, but the one for Laura Marie.

So, after a series of payment processes and travel procedures, No Name is securely on her way to the arms of my big sis, who is also my best friend. She will arrive in Brooklyn (the sis' current residence) in time to turn around and hop on a plane to Louisville, where she, her Mommy and her Daddy will make Kentucky their permanent happy home.

Once I knew I could invest time, love and finances into my new dog, and had a support system set up around me, I was ready to become a Mommy.

As joyous as this all obviously sounds to the onlooker, the new doggie mommy is always struck with a period of overwhelming anxiety and doubt as the realities of dog ownership set in: What if she doesn't like me? What if I don't spend enough time with her? What if she has a health problem? What if she can't be trained? How will this decision change my life? As a former mother-to-be who experienced this spurt of pre-maternal fear, I was adept to respond to my sister's late-night anxiety attack when she called Tuesday night.

Purchasing a dog is a huge commitment, let's not gloss over that fact. It's a commitment of several years that requires tremendous patience, unfailing love, substantial playtime and, honestly, the finances to back up whatever need may arise. However, for those of us who truly love dogs, purchasing a dog is also a dream - a lot like getting married, buying a house or having a baby.

I have trouble with dog owners who make dog ownership seem like a chore. Yes, it requires responsibility that goes beyond making sure you dog eats and doesn't run away. But dogs are adaptable creatures that can be trained, can entertain themselves, can be crated for short periods of time, and, if cared for properly, can enhance a person's lifestyle rather than hinder it. I've found that it's been easy to integrate Linus into my lifestyle, you just have to know where you have time and flexibility to work him in. I enjoy taking him to the doggie shops, the doggie parks and on walks on the weekends. We sleep together every night and go on car rides together. I also am fortunate enough have doggie-loving friends who welcome him into their homes. He often has playtime with other dogs while Mommy enjoys some chat time and wine.

I am also blessed to live in a house with a backyard and an extremely supportive family that will play with Linus whenever he beckons. My greatest asset as a dog owner is having people in my life who are willing to assist with the caretaking of Linus. I can reassure Laura Marie that she will have no problem raising her pup as she will have the support of a dog-loving family and friends. For any aspiring dog owner: develop a community of friends and fans who will be ready to help you care for Linus or entertain him whenever you need some time to yourself.

New Mommy anxiety is super normal, but if it gets ahold of you it can make you doubt your POSITIVE decision to invest in a dog. It can spoil that fun euphoria of welcoming a precious new companion into your life. Don't get me wrong, if you don't have the financial means, the time or the heart to make sure your dog is living its best life, perhaps you should reconsider your interest in buying a dog. Plenty of people make bad decisions to buy dogs all the time - and I can't condone these decisions as irresponsible individuals continue to add to our problem of the population of unwanted doggies. But if  having a dog around is something in your heart, you can't deny it, and you are willing to adjust your life to make it work, it can be a great decision for both parties. And, when you are ready to take the plundge, I can vouche from personal experience: it's an extremely rewarding endeavor that leads to a priceless, and ever-present friendship.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Halloween Preview

For those of us who are too old to break out a flagrant costume and not yet blessed with children to decorate on Halloween, our remaining pleasure is dressing up our creatures.

My creature is a little bit less enthusiastic about the holiday of swapping identities than, say, the average four-year old. Most grade school kids are eager to tell you what they are going to be for Halloween: a vampire, a ghost, Batman or a puppy dog. As the parent of a dog, not a child, I am in the advantageous (and marginally abusive) position of having the ablity to select the most demoralizing costume possible with no "child" input. Although, with Linus, I'm convinced that any costume that he can detect touching his fur gets a doggie frown face.

Yesterday we were running some errands, and we stopped by a couple doggie shops looking for doggie costumes. I've had an idea for Linus' first Halloween costume for months, but I wanted to scope out the simple costume-in-a-bag options. I was impressed with the Petsmart selection. Our options included ghost, lobster, pig, dracula, bumble bee, pumpkin, hot dog and shark. Martha Stewart also offer these ridiculously cute "pajama" style costumes of a skeleton and a zombie. I was sold on the skeleton, but they were sold out of mediums. So, we tried on a sparkling blue "alien" costume right there in the store. With costumes at 50 percent off, this wouldn't be a bad trial costume.

The smirks, giggles and sneers from fellow shoppers gave me enough motivation to fork out the $3.70 for the alien costume. C'mon, we're not laughing at him, but with him! Although I am not sure this will be the final costume, it's a great back-up if my other idea doesn't pan out. Here's some great photos of Linus "trying on" Costume No. 1 for the family. As you can see, Linus is thrilled with his alien costume.


Me, Dad and Linus... a Papaw Halloween photo!

Angry about this costume thing.


Still angry... "please take this off, I look ridiculous!"

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