Introducing Neville

We’ve been a bit busy over the past couple of days with our new puppy!

Little Champ likes him—especially feeding him treats!—but he does have moments of jealousy. I’m attempting to get a good photo of Little Champ and Neville together…it’s pretty difficult!

Neville is SUCH a good puppy. He’s smart and sweet. He’s pretty playful, but he’s also content to just cuddle on our laps or follow us around the house.

That’s it for the post! If you want to read my little shpiel on buying a purebred dog, continue reading. Otherwise I will post about our inherited garden soon!

Why we chose a purebred puppy

I always thought that rescuing a pet is better than purchasing one, and that mutts were to be preferred to purebreds because purebreds can have health problems from over-breeding. But when I developed a pretty serious pet allergy, I knew that if we were going to have a family dog, our choices would be seriously limited.

We decided on the Havanese breed (see my last post) because they are non-shedders and really, really cute, and a good size for traveling, and good with kids. It helped that my aunt and uncle have a very sweet Havanese of their own.

The difference between the Havanese from a pet store or puppy mill and the Havanese from a legitimate breeder is HUGE. We compared both, and the Havanese from a farm, raised for 10 weeks with his mother and siblings, was much healthier, had a better temperament, and wasn’t nervous or skiddish like other puppies for sale. He was secure, healthy, and happy.

I’ve never liked seeing animals in cages, which is why I’m often tempted to buy a pet from a pet store—just to save them. But buying from pet stores just continues the industry!

We went to a pet store where the owners really did seem to care for the animals. Though the animals were in cages, they were able to play with other puppies. The store also offered a health guarantee. But the puppies were not happy. They looked tired and terrified. Not all pet stores, and not all breeders are equal. You really have to go with your gut when choosing a dog, not with pity.

I still think that breeding is a bit like doggie eugenics, but I also think there is a clear difference between neutering or spaying animals and sterilizing humans. Quality breeders makes sure their puppies will be cared for in a responsible, loving environment. They make sure the mothers and fathers are carefully selected, and their health is always priority.

On the other hand, “breeders” who run puppy mills care about profit. They treat their animals like prostitutes, pimping them out without real concern for the animals.

Our breeders breed Havanese for the love of the breed, to keep it healthy and strong. They make money from the litters, but profit isn’t their main motivator.

Bottom line

Growing up, my family adopted all of our pets but one. They were and are wonderful! Still, we had them all “fixed” because there are just too many animals that have to be put down in the world—we didn’t want to add more animals to the mix. If you are looking to add to your family, check out Petfinder.com and see if you can adopt a pet. Never buy a puppy from a person claiming to be a breeder until you see where they keep their animals regularly.

And ALWAYS get your animals spayed or neutered if you can’t take responsibility for their entire litter.

Puppies and Rainbows

Today was the kind of day that left me giddy as a kindergartner. We picked out a puppy and saw a luscious rainbow on the drive back from the farm!

First, I probably need to give some backstory since I’ve been gone so long.

I haven’t been posting lately because any post would have been a downer. Joblessness, homelessness, infertility, a miscarriage. Don’t get me wrong, I have definitely been seeing God’s blessings through everything–yes, even through the loss of our child. However, even when I would mention any of our troubles, along with the blessings, people would focus only on the apparent hopelessness and not seem to remember that I was encouraged by my faith.

Well, now I am writing to you from the living room of our beautiful rental house that is more than we could ever have hoped for. Our landlord / the owner is a Christian doctor and his family that are going to move to Chad to do medicine and missions for the refugees from Darfur. The house is in a great neighborhood and has plenty of room for the three of us. It makes me wish even more that we had additional children to enjoy it! Our new home is without a doubt a Godsend—it is amazing how He brings people together for their mutual benefit.

LT got accepted into an engineering program at a private school in Minneapolis and is joining the Marine Corps Reserves later this month. It will be quite an adjustment for him to go back to college again for a second degree! (He was a History major before graduating and then going to Officer Candidate School, followed by many more months of Officers’ training.) This fall he should be promoted to a Captain in the Reserves!

Little Champ did better than we could have hoped for on the long drive to Minnesota from North Carolina. Usually a very healthy boy, he’s been sick since the first few days of July—double pink eye first, followed by an ear infection, and now a cold that just won’t quit!

Originally LT and I decided we would get a dog after having our second child and potty training Little Champ. Now, since it will be quite some time before we will have another child (if the Lord would grant us another), we decided there is no time like the present. We have a new house, and we want Little Champ to have a companion to fill the gap between children. Yesterday we went to a pet shop to see the puppies. As fun as it was, it confirmed that 1) we can’t just get any dog, since I have terrible allergies to some breeds, and 2) we’d prefer to get a puppy from a breeder. The puppies in the shop seemed completely terrified, and while the shop owners seemed to really enjoy the dogs, I just don’t think pups should be cooped up like they were.

I had been in contact with some Havanese breeders for a month or so now and finally heard back from one that had a puppy available (all others had been previously claimed). After hours on the phone talking to the breeders and owners of the puppy’s parents, we decided that we definitely wanted to meet the little guy.

Here’s the photo they emailed me:
Today we went out to meet him, and on the way, I was just praying that he would either be our favorite by a landslide, or he wouldn’t want anything to do with us. From the photos of the litter, I’ll admit he wasn’t my first choice, but going to see all of the puppies together made me certain that he was the one. He was the first to jump up to greet us and was playful yet super cuddly. We are SO EXCITED to be bringing him home, but we are going to wait until Tuesday. We figure it’s better for him to get one last day with his mommy than to be traumatized when the movers come to our house on Monday.

We haven’t named him yet, and I only got a couple photos of him from our visit today, but I’m sure I’ll post more about him once we have his name chosen and have him home with us!

Four out of the five puppies in the litter. The one I originally thought was the cutest ended up just sleeping in the corner the entire time!

Our little prince. We’ve yet to pick a name for him.

I also foresee a puppy + two-year-old photoshoot on the horizon, since Little Champ’s birthday is next month!

P.S. Curious about the Havanese breed? Read more about this virtually hypo-allergenic dog here (on Wikipedia, of course).

32 weeks

Well, Little Champ is about 4 lbs, 17 inches long, and he still doesn’t have a name.

My “nesting” instinct is reduced to online window shopping. It would be nice for me to start getting anxious about everything that still needs to be unpacked…but I am sooooo tired. It’s like I have gone into a first trimester relapse.

Still, I did manage to sort the master bedroom closet out and make it nice and pretty. And I got a stroller, car seat, two bases, and a Boppy pillow with cover for less than $50. Woot!

This week we got Woman Within in the mail, a catalog for plus-sized women’s clothing. It was addressed to the previous resident, whose name was blacked out with a Sharpie by the kind post people. Anyway, let me just say that it is not particularly comforting to receive such a catalogue when I am keenly aware of how much weight I have gained in the past few months. Also, “Woman Within”??! What sort of terrible name is that for a catalog for overweight or larger set women? You might as well tell your customers, “Don’t worry, you are still a woman on the inside. On the outside, however, well…”
I am thankful, at least, that the models in Woman Within are at least average-sized. And by an average-sized model, I don’t mean average. I mean a woman who is considered “plus-size” because she is a size 8 or 10. But of course, to be a model, she still has to be taller than average and have a waist that measures 10 inches shorter than her hips.

In other news, Henry has adopted a taste for flesh, attacking me with his claws psychotically while I was on merry my way to give him a kitty toy. I cite my recent facebook status:

Newborn? Teething? Terrible twos? Puberty? All that will be a PIECE OF CAKE after raising this bloodthirsty kitten. At least he doesn’t spray or pee on everything (knock on wood) and is adorable when he sleeps. Yes, this is unconditional love, I tell myself as I dress a bloody leg. No, I didn’t fall into a vat of barbed wire. I have a kitten who is going through a vampire phase.

Basically, here I was, exhausted, wanting to take a nap. So I decided to sleep in the living room so I could catch Henry using the toilet (yes, I am potty-training an animal. He has been using it pretty consistently, but I need to teach him the correct “squatting technique” so he doesn’t get his feet soiled. He is the stealthiest little bugger, though, so I am usually on high alert in an attempt to catch him before he finishes the deed).
I heard him scratching, which is what he does to the litter before he uses the toilet (we are at the stage where I have a litter box inside the toilet, to get him used to zee potty). So I sneak over to the bathroom. He’s not there. He was, instead, scratching a cardboard box. To distract him, I went to fetch him a toy that he could scratch and bite. On my way, he dive-bombed me, claws first, and my leg bled in a nice, steady stream.

I can’t even imagine how many times my poor baby has heard “NO Henry!” or “Ow!!!” while in utero. That, and Nirvana. I am already traumatizing my son, and he isn’t even born yet!

On a happier note, I had a very quick check up yesterday, and both the baby and me are doing quite well in the health department. My midwife, who looks like the blonde twin sister of Sally Field, tells me that my next appointment is in three weeks and is the “invasive exam.”

Invasive exam. Great. Now I am picturing what the Nazis did to Poland. Honestly, could we think of a better euphemism? Perhaps not. Do yourself a favor, don’t try looking for synonyms of “invasive”—and especially not ones of “invasion”—if you are about to get one of those types of exams.

Of course, my adorable midwife told me exactly what she would be doing during my exam, so it won’t be much of a surprise. What was surprising is how she was able to describe the procedure with such a perky countenance.

I can’t believe that I will be full term in less than 6 weeks! There is so much to do before my baby boy comes home!

26 Weeks, Or The Week I Almost Lost my Arm

Not much has happened here other than me eating my baby’s weight in watermelon.

Okay, so I am packing for our move on Thursday (eek!).

In order for Henry, our kitten, to live with us on base, we have to get him microchipped and registered on base. Yesterday I took him in for his appointment. Let’s just say it was traumatic. He cried the whole way to the vet, we get there and there’s a dozen gigantic dogs that want to eat him. They are out of microchips. The lovely safety feature on our car locked me out after I turned on the a/c before putting him in.

So here I am, my cat, keys, purse and phone locked inside a running car and it’s 95 degrees out with unspeakable humidity. Thankfully I left the windows cracked while I was in the vet’s office (a grand 20 minutes filling out paperwork while my kitten is howling at some half-breed love child which I can only guess is half poodle, half platypus). Still, I left the windows cracked. I already have short, fleshy arms, and since the humidity was 900%, I only had so much time before they ballooned into cantaloupes.

Of course I couldn’t reach the unlock button, so I walk back into the vet’s office sheepishly and ask all the Marines, etc. in there if someone could help me, since I locked my cat in the car (award for terrible pet parent? Meh, at least the A/C was on). One guy with a German Shepherd stood up.

“How big was the crack in your window?”
I spaced my fingers about 2.5 inches apart. He turned to the girl next to him.
“Honey, you have small arms. Go help her.”

So this cute little thing comes outside with me. She got her arm in about as far as I had—about 4 inches short of the lock. I looked at my kitten, who was peering out at me from the holes in his kennel walls.

“Alright, I’ll try it again.” I was engorged with determination. I got my arm in as far as the girl had, about 4 inches short. Then I stuffed my arm in more, feeling like a deranged octopus as my arm squeezed in. I’m sure my eyes bulged out a bit.

Finally I reached the lock. I opened the door with my other hand. Okay. Door is open. And my arm is stuck.

The cute little thing was still standing next to me. I don’t know if she stayed out of guilt or curiosity. Either way, I am pretty sure she grimaced as she watched my feat in absolute horror.

“Could you reach in and roll the window down for me? I’m stuck.”
“Oh. Yeah, sure.”

And thus the tiny little woman saved the day. Or at least saved my arm from either dislocation or amputation.

And that was the “highlight” of my week.

Since my last post, LT and I went to GA for a murder mystery dinner party set in Regency England. So LT and I went all Pride & Prejudice and such. LT was fiiiine and very Mr. Darcy-esque, but I will refrain from putting up a picture of him, to keep him from embarrassment and to keep my female readers from coveting my extremely attractive and fit husband.

Me at our Regency Party

I also finally finished my last online class (WOOHOO!), went to a local writer’s club meeting, did some design work for people, etc. etc. LT and I saw A-Team, and we were both thoroughly entertained. Still have to see Karate Kid and Prince of Persia, but we might wait till they come to the discount theater.

So about this whole Toy Story 3 thing. Apparently it’s one of the best reviewed movies of all time. I admit I am pretty excited about it. But Cars 2 is coming out next year and Monsters Inc. 2 is set for 2012. This is just getting slightly ridiculous. To put that into perspective, my son will be 1 when Cars 2 comes out, the same age as my 5 year old brother was when Cars came out. Little Champ will be 2 when Monsters, Inc. 2 comes out, which is the same age my 13 year old brother was when Monsters, Inc. came out (Okay, he was nearly 3).

So Pixar is actually hitting (at least in my case), the next generation with the same characters I grew up with. And of course my curiosity is piqued. They are marketing geniuses. But they are also kind of mean, essentially making millions of dollars off of nostalgia.

Anyway, How’s Little Champ doing?

Well, he’s about 1 2/3 pounds and 14″ long. His eyes are fully developed (though they are still closed tight). His lungs and sense of hearing continue to develop, and he is starting to recognize voices. Of course, our Little Champ seemed to start recognizing LT’s voice a couple of weeks ago, tumbling around and kicking when his daddy started talking. Sure, that might be coincidence, but I’m going to say it’s because he luuuuuuuuvvvs his daddy.

And to embarrass my future son further if he ever reads this blog, I am proud to say that his testicles have begun their descent. That’s my boy!

25 weeks…and a kitten?

So, last weekend we found a kitten. Well, I did. LT and I were sitting on the couch Saturday morning talking when I heard a little howl. “Is that a kitten?” Then, sure enough, the little pathetic mewing of a kitten was to be heard. I went out on our balcony and could tell it was coming from the bushes by the first floor apartments. I thought it might be stuck in the bush, so I announced I was going to help it.

Thankfully I added another couple articles of clothing, so I wasn’t gallivanting around in my skivvies outside.

I came to the bushes and here was an adorable little grey kitty, who was not stuck at all in the branches, but was still mewing. It came right to me. Nobody else was in sight, and the kitten followed me out of the bush and to the stairway. He didn’t quite get the concept of stairs, though, and tried to scale the banister, so I helped him out. I opened our apartment door and LT was standing in the kitchen. There was a kitten standing in the doorway of his apartment. In a momentary relapse of his Marine Corps toughness, he totally went “awwww.”

Taking that as an invitation, the kitty trotted in, going to see this new person. We didn’t have any cat food, so we gave him some milk.

Apparently you are NEVER SUPPOSED TO GIVE A CAT MILK; THEY ARE LACTOSE INTOLERANT. Or so I read later that day on a kitty discussion board.

Whatever. The cat was starving. And he isn’t lactose intolerant. So THERE.

LT and I had plenty of errands to run that day. But now we had this cute little fuzzball under our care. We made signs looking for his owner and put them up around the apartments.

I went out and got some food, litter, and a litter box since we didn’t know how long he’d be with us. LT stayed home with the kitten. I got home and the kitten was snuggled up next to my Marine on the couch. If that isn’t ridiculously adorable, I don’t know what is.

Long story shorter, a handful of kittens were found the same day. Looks like someone dumped them on the side of the road. So if we ever did find the owner, I would not be giving him or her the kitten. I’d be giving him or her a swift kick to the patootie.

I looked online to see if anyone would want a kitten, since we weren’t going to have pets for a while. I counted 128 kittens or cats posted—just online for our area—in the past 2 weeks that needed homes. 128? Seriously? In 14 days? Fix your freaking cats, people! Or at least take care of the kittens. My word.

Anyway, we’re keeping the little guy. He is vaccinated and fixed, and he has scared me half to death a handful of times in the past six days. (Summary: he licked himself too much after surgery and bled all over the bathroom when I left him alone for 15 minutes. He sleeps harder than LT—nothing wakes him up, and he looks dead. The vet gave me 4x the recommended flea treatment for a kitten his size. Yes, he had fleas. I have turned this apartment upside down vacuuming and washing everything in hot water. Twice.)

But he’s a joy, and we are thinking he will be a nice little addition to our new home.

Did I mention we are signing the papers today? Squee!

We have yet to name the kitty. I have a list of names (including Mister Bingley, Kenobi, and Kit Fisto), but since LT was gone most of the week, we haven’t decided on one yet.

As for our baby, we are at a dead end with names. We just can’t seem to find the right one.

Speaking of my neglected child…(no, I haven’t been neglecting him. But the kitten has taken up nearly all my thoughts lately, considering all we’ve been through the last 6 days)

Little Champ is about a pound and a half and 13.5 inches head to toe, the length of those plastic recorders you play “Hot Cross Buns” on.

He’s been poking me quite a bit. He tickled me in church, and it took every ounce of me to burst out laughing while Pastor was talking about something very serious and theological.

While the experts at ParentsConnect say that the baby can’t feel it when you poke your belly, I’m pretty sure this little one can feel when I rub my bump, because he reacts. We have tickle attacks from time to time, and LT gets a kick out of giving me raspberries to jostle the baby a bit.

So now I am really outnumbered. Though LT would probably say that the kitten doesn’t count anymore, since I rid him of his manhood. Either way, I am already enjoying being the lady in a house of boys.