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Life with a New Dog


As we considered life with a second dog, we had in mind an “older” dog, not a puppy. It didn’t quite work out that way. The dog formerly known as Dante is about 2 years old. Little did we know we would be in for an interesting time.

Meeting Zeke

After we brought the dog formerly known as Dante home a few things needed to be done. I thought Dante was a great name (now I think it is even more appropriate since we’ve entered our private divine comedy), but the Girl had other ideas. She was thinking Hunter, and I know not why. We hit PetSmart to get our freebies and discounted items due to the adoption. We needed a collar and harness as well as a crate. I had not priced crates, and nearly choked when I saw the price tag on the crate. “Free dog” is just like “free hamster” …. never believe it. I was standing in the check out line and she keeps wanting to get the inscribed name tag. I see more money I can’t afford, particularly since we just bought 2 new hamsters, and stuff with them, the week before. The Girl is killing me, even if she’s promising to reimburse me. “Can we hold off on the name tag? Let’s settle on the name first.” Somehow I prevail, which is great because in less than 24 hours the name changed again.

Day one of the Dog formerly known as Dante and Hunter seemed to be going very well, all things considered. He seemed eager to please. He seemed to be very gentle with the kids. It took him a few hours to stop panting, but no big deal. He was a “Visa Dog”- every where you want to be.
Fast forward to the kids’ bedtime routine. First he kept wanting to head upstairs with us. Well, he is a Visa Dog. But a light whack on the bottom and he was racing down the stairs with his tail between his legs. (more on that tail later). He sat in the kitchen while I went back up. When I returned I noticed a clump of aluminum foil on the floor, and some Saran wrap. I’m confused. Amie came down behind me. “Was there still some applesauce bread left?” “About half.” In the immortal words of Inspector Clouseau, not anymore. He’d taken the bread off the counter, opened it and eaten it in the few minutes we were upstairs. No food will be safe! Such, apparently is the peril of a bigger dog.
The tail. He’s missing the end of his tail. Not a bob. It is like someone injured his tail it was removed. Or something. But at this point it is one less part of him to shed. I sometimes call him Sir Sheds-alot. He is a Shed-o-matic like Huck was. Amie is really happy about getting Bob, the robotic vacuum. Thankfully the dogs are not freaked out about it like they are the normal vacuum. Anyway … back to night one.
We’d set up his crate in the home school room while Lulu’s was in the living room behind the couch. I let them out before I went to bed and then put them in their respective crates. It was a Saturday night and should have already been in bed since I had to preach the next morning. I went upstairs, brushed my teeth and went to bed. And the whining started.
I tried to ignore it. Maybe he’ll go back to sleep. It was only a few minutes but it felt like hours since I didn’t have any time to goof around with this drama. I went downstairs to see if my presence would chill Dante/Hunter down. He was fine, for about 5 minutes when the whining resumed with the occasional bark. This was not good.
I had an idea. He shared a kennel at the shelter. Maybe if I moved Lulu’s crate next to his … so there I am in my underwear at midnight hauling a crate trying to avoid scratching the wall because I don’t want to paint it again. Now, Lulu, who doesn’t do well with change like this isn’t wild about getting back into her relocated crate. Finally she reluctantly slinks into the crate and I’m off to try and get sleep.
It was quiet. It stayed quiet. Until I heard a panting dog arrive next to my bed at 4:30 in the morning. I looked to see if Amie had gone down stairs but she was next to me. But she woke up as I try not to scream “What are YOU doing here?!” As soon as she gets up he jumps onto her side of the bed. Oh, she was not happy about that. Downstairs, we discover that the side door has opened up. Nothing else seemed to be displaced, chewed or otherwise destroyed. Apparently he immediately went upstairs looking for us. Soon he was back in his crate and I was in my bed trying to sleep.
We survived Day 1 with Dante/Hunter.
Week 1 has been interesting. He has had the name Cody for over a week. I think we can get the engraved name tag now, maybe. We did have a little scare as he barked at the older son one day, and the younger son the next. It could have been the older son’s head gear or that he was bothering his brother. This is a shepherd mix, and could be protective. The younger son seemed to have surprised Cody and gotten in his face, as if he was Lulu. He’s not, and this is all new to him. But it has been a week since all that, so we are slowly trusting him with the kids alone.

Not the Superhero- a brown dog tick

Then there was the tick. Not his fault. He didn’t ask for the tick but it was not just bloated with blood but laden with drama. I felt it behind his ear but it was hard to see what it was. The Girl assured me he had no ticks. The next day the Girl freaked because it was a tick. It had been over a decade since I’d removed a tick from a dog. He refuses to hold still while I’m trying to gently pull this thing off, not wanting the head to remain burrowed in his skin. Amie was not pleased that I was using her tweezers, so I promised to sterilize them with alcohol. Soon I had the tick removed, and in a bag with alcohol, just in case he gets sick.

He has tried to head upstairs a few times, only to be shooed back down. Not a big deal. He likes to jump, still, and we’re trying to train this out of him. Sometimes I’ll go outside with him and wrestle because he has so much energy. But this is the Girl’s dog, not mine. I don’t want him to attach to me, just listen to me. She hasn’t been so great about the walking and grooming yet (big surprise- and when I told my father he laughed at me).
He hasn’t really gotten any food again. That’s because the leftover baked goods are now placed on the top of the refrigerator. But we are careful not to put the plates on the table too soon since he goes cruising by the table and his nose is at the top of the table. One day there was The Licking, as he got a lick or two in on the Girl’s leftover meal.
But when he’s bored and unattended he tends to chew and or destroy things. Lulu loved stuffed animals and flip-flops. He tore up one of the girl’s sneakers. He ate one of our remote controls rendering it useless and us unable to watch Dish downstairs until the replacement arrives. He tore Lulu’s pretty pink bowl apart. He tore straps off Amie’s old foot brace. We rescued my reading glasses from him. He chewed on the hose nozzle in the back yard.
Has he touched the toy tire out back? No. But he hasn’t avoided all toys. A tennis ball is shredded. The shark was decimated (finally acceptable chewing!). He is still in serious chew stage. He may bankrupt me.
This morning was the hole in the backyard. By the irrigation. When Lulu was a puppy, we had a dust
bowl for a backyard. Now we have a nice, irrigated backyard. The frustration factor is growing because no place is safe. Like a restless 6 year-old boy he often neglects his toys to discover trouble. Thankfully he doesn’t have opposable thumbs and can’t stick anything into an outlet. Or use scissors.
But we kind of like him. Lulu likes having another dog to play with, though they compete for affection. Lulu grew out of the incessant chewing (and resulted destruction). We are hoping he does too. SOON! Before Amie ends up on Xanex!

I thought we were done.
With this crazy notion of a second dog. But the robotic vacuum had been ordered. I also knew the eldest and her friend up the street would not cease and desist in the search for a new dog. I had to take some control over this situation or …. I’m not sure what delusional fear I had. But I went on the local shelter’s website to see if we missed a good dog. We’d done this when we adopted Lulu, even though I don’t think she was one of the dogs we’d identified. I was looking for the shy dog we’d seen to see if there was a profile for her.
On the website I noticed that they were having a special pet adoption weekend with no fees (license excepted). I didn’t have to look for a dog that no one wanted and had been there too long. I went through the list, passing over the bazillion Pit Bulls. There were a few dogs that I found interesting, and sent their profiles to Amie in an email since she had long since gone to bed. There were 2 females and 2 males.
The next morning was a normal Saturday morning in that I made bacon and waffles. The shelter wouldn’t open until 10 anyway. Before I cooked breakfast Amie narrowed down my list from 4 to 2- the 2 boys: Dante and Fritz. The Boxer mix got the heave-ho. The eldest came down stairs wanting to adopt Willow, the shy dog. I mentioned that she may have been abused. She thought we could help the dog return to “life” again. My little girl has a redemptive heart, at least where animals are concerned.
This time we took along the older boy. And our dog. I figured we’d better see how any potential dog got along with Lulu as well as being around 2 of my 4 kids. Back down Silverbell we drove with its dips and bumps to return to the noisy, smelly shelter.
When we arrived I thought I’d look into Willow first so we went to the tent. The volunteer quickly pointed out she was shy, and next to that on the form was “no other dogs.” Ixnay on the illowway. So it was back to the customer service office that was in need of the paint job (and no small amount of air freshener). We found a shady spot among the pavilions for PetSmart and other vendors for this pet adoption extravaganza. She stayed with Lulu while the boy came with me, and waited. No one was staffing the office. Finally a too skinny for words woman showed up to help us. “Dante is off-site. He’ll be at the Oro Valley Pet Smart until noon.” He was so stinking cute I couldn’t see him coming back. By the time we got there, assuming he hadn’t been adopted, he probably would have been packed up and brought back. Our timing sort of stunk on the Dante front. We got the kennel number for Fritz and off we went.
He was a shepherd mix. I was hoping the other part of the mix would knock the size down some. Maybe it made him bigger because the dog was huge. Nope, not for us. Why don’t they put weights on the profiles online. I would have known instantly, not for us.
I thought we were done.

The eldest snuggling up to Huck

On the way out we saw Kado,  a really cute Lab mix who was almost all black. I suspected he was part Chow due to the spot on his tongue. He reminded me of Huckleberry but without all the extra fur on his shoulders. He seemed gentle and licked Eli thru the kennel door. He was hooked. But I saw dangling man parts. I didn’t want to have to pay to get him neutered. Oddly, though, he was next door to Dante’s kennel spot which was shared with another dog.

As we made our way out we had to pass by the noisy boys who barked at anything and everything. In that confined room it was REALLY loud. Earlier they barked as one dog wearing a cone of shame came through. It was slow moving because he was frantically trying to get it off his head. It was hilarious except for the incredibly loud barking some of whom had cones of their own. It reminded from the end of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World when Ethel Merman slipped on the banana peels and all the men in casts and tension roar in laughter.
So we drove home. The kids were disappointed. I was too. I was also frustrated by the traffic. She was trying to assure the boy that Kado was not the dog for us.
I thought we were done.
When we got home she talked to her co-conspirator in the house up the road. “Oh, they neuter them for free.” Now I was in a bind since this dog was only about 1 and should still grow. I wanted an older dog. She suddenly wanted Kado. Dante, 2, was about as young as I was willing to go. Amie went on line to see this dog. They want me to go back. Back through the traffic. Back to the buildings filled with barking. Back to the smell. Back to the 50 other people too cheap to pay adoption fees for a dog. Back….
I still hadn’t stopped sweating. I wanted lunch before I descended into the madness for the third time in about 24 hours. There was the thought of having to make another trip later in the week after this dog had surgery. Why does everything seem to be so difficult? It was my day off and I just wanted to read the Mitch Rapp novel I got from the library the day before while I got my tire repaired.
This time I had my daughter, her co-conspirator and Lulu to evaluate the dog. As we drove I noted that now the really backed up intersection was clear as a bell. Figures…. There we were arriving not sure if Kado had been adopted. Once again the lot was jam packed and we were in the auxiliary lot making sure we didn’t step on any snakes out here in the desert. At least I knew where I wanted to go. I grabbed an adoption survey and filled it out among the incessantly barking dogs (that other dog didn’t seem to bark!) and then waited for a volunteer to assist me. I told the older woman which dog we wanted to visit with and went to his kennel. I noted that Dante was back. His kennel-mate had been adopted but he hadn’t. Dante, a shepherd-lab mix was bigger than the picture indicated due to its bad angle. The volunteer took us to one of the visitation areas while my daughter went to get her friend and Lulu. It was hot out there as the canopy didn’t cover the whole area. While we waited for Lulu the dog seemed far more interested in sniffing and peeing than in me. I’m surprised he didn’t think I was a tree and peed on me. All seemed well when Lulu arrived. There was the perfunctory bottom sniffing as an introduction. And they started to wrestle. It seemed okay.
Suddenly it shifted. Lulu had enough, for some reason, and there was some growling. We separated them. Lulu ended up under a chair and the pup came right back, ignore her “leave me along” signals. He was like a drunk 22 year-old in a bar full of women. I wasn’t so keen on this. “Can we meet Dante?” Kado was very active, and still quite puppy-ish. I wasn’t sure I was ready for all that again. I’m getting old.
Off she went to exchange the dogs. Based on how long it took her to get this dog out of his kennel I feared we wouldn’t leave til sundown or Jesus returned, whichever came first. I was pleasantly surprised when she returned before I suffered heat stroke. Thankfully it was only supposed to be about 100 that day.

The Dog Formerly Known as Dante

Not much happened when Dante arrived. There was the usual sniffing. Soon they were wrestling. This time he growled and we separated them. Lulu kept a little distance while he seemed really interested in the treats she had (warning, warning, warning). But the two dogs developed a workable relationship of play and respecting boundaries. The volunteer was pleased. Dante was neither afraid of nor all over the girls. He’d lick hands and move on.

Scary to think of how little time you spend with a dog before deciding whether or not to bring it into your home with your wife, 4 kids, dog, 3 hamsters and a fish. What are we thinking with all these pets (largely the eldest’s fault)? But it isn’t like they’ve got a loaner program and I have all day to figure this out. He is already neutered so if we bring him home today we need to head to the pet store for a crate and a collar.
I’d been texting and giving Amie the updates. It was really good we got the new vacuum because he is a serious shedder- Sir Sheds Alot.
The volunteer took Dante back while I went to finalize things and pay for his license. I got to look more completely at his info. His previous owner brought him back after the landlord got upset. He was a Visa Dog- everywhere you want to be. He liked visitors. The clerk told me he was chipped already. I was asked if I needed a leash and the next thing I knew I was walking him thru the parking lot. It took awhile since he seemed reluctant to get in my front seat, but he was fine on the ride home. My not so little girl got her dog. The dog formerly known as Dante…..

I was perfectly happy with one dog. We all were. All of us, except one.

The eldest wanted her own dog, one who would love her above all of the rest of us, especially me. I am Lulu’s alpha dog. She is most likely to listen to me, and to come to me. The eldest wants this love. The hamsters, due to their personal limitations cannot show this love.

I don’t remember when the barrage began, but it was some time ago. It went on mostly ignored and put off.

She decided to up her game. And she gained a co-conspirator. It was her friend up the street (literally since she lives on a hill) who had recently gotten her own dog and wanted to share this great delight with her friend. She looked long and hard for her dog, so long I figured she’d never get one. But she did. It was an older dog, about 5 years old. This intrigued me slightly. It was, in part, a function of her idealism. For me it was- no house breaking. The thought of a friend for Lulu was appealing since the promises of walking her would largely fall to the ground after a week or so. There is way too much for an 11 year-old to do.

And then her co-conspirator sent her a link to a 5 year-old dog at the local shelter. It had been there a few months and there was now no adoption fee. She felt urgency- what if they have to put her down. “It’s a no-kill shelter.” “Are you sure????” “Yes, this is why they have to spend all that money to build a big, new one.” Silently I thought, so it can be a rest home for Pit Bulls. The pleading continued.

Since it was a Friday, we decided to appease the child. But first I had to make a deal with the devil, I mean my wife. Another dog, IF we get a robotic vacuum. The free dog would cost me a $200+ vacuum. Sometimes I wish I could be the selfish husband and father. There is stuff I want too! A practice amp for my recently re-acquired electric guitar, some music new & old. You know, important stuff.

Deal in place, we went to see the dog with an eye toward adopting it. We took the youngest along so he’d stop annoying his siblings and the eldest and I went to the shelter.

I hate the shelter. It is really loud and smells, like dog. Like hundreds of dogs. Hundreds of wet, sweaty dogs. And then there is the barking, echoing off the cement block walls. Some dogs go nuts every time they see someone or another dog. They are surely to be avoided.

One of the great things about Lulu is that she very rarely barks. When she wants to play she’ll bark. Otherwise it is a whine which the eldest calls a yodel claiming she is part Besenji, oddly enough a breed that originates from the Congo and known for its yodel.

We arrived to discover a very full lot so we had to park by the road. We arrived just in time for it to open as we discovered. So we braved the barking to find the customer service area. We had the dog’s number but needed to  get its kennel location. So we found ourselves in the small, smelly office with walls seriously in need of new paint and a new computer.

The daughter stepped up to the plate and handed the worker the dog’s number. The woman put the number in and searched. “She was adopted.” “But we saw her profile last night.” Apparently they need more help to update the website. I mentioned this as a possible volunteer option for the daughter when she was older.

I thought this was the end of the search, at least for now.

I was wrong.

And so began the odyssey of wandering among the barking, stinky dogs trying to find the one dog that didn’t bark, wasn’t too big or too small (no Chihuahuas) that would be a great companion for Lulu and great with the kids. I wasn’t asking for too much. If you wanted a Pit Bull or PB mix you were in luck. Tons of those. But I wasn’t.

We also went through the sick ward and heard the whooping of kennel cough. Been there with Lulu, rather not go there again.

They had to expand, and there was a tent we saw on the way in. Getting there…

We found another poor, lost soul wanting to get over there. Finally we found a volunteer instead of one of the highly tattooed inmates who works there. Instead of there being a way from inside the “compound” you had to go out the gate. Okay, that is easy but a sign might have been nice. You know, one right next to the signs saying there are plenty of dogs to see in the tent.

The tent is where they put the intake dogs, and the new strays picked up by Animal Control. We saw but one possibility- but she seemed shy and previously abused. Our search seemed to have reached its end.

I thought we were done.


Time flies when you are having fun … and lots of surgeries.

We adopted the little guy when he was only 20 months old. His lip had been repaired but his palate had not. Yes, our Chinese Charmer.

He has now lived 80% of his life with us. And we are thankful.

It is hard to believe he once suffered from failure to thrive syndrome because he is SO ALIVE. Most of the time Eli is non-stop action, and noise. A constant torrent of noise (which can be hard on his aging father). He’s also a creative kid.

There are times he is quiet- when he’s asleep and when he is reading. He does enjoy reading. He like graphic novels and his Action Bible (a graphic novel version written by a guy Amie knows from Word of Life).

He also love comic/action heroes. He’s got some comic books, and a friend of our gave us a boatload of action figures. Any time I pass a Marvel movie on FX he wants me to stop. And I have to think about whether it is appropriate for him.

And then there is Star Wars. Loves Star Wars like any little boy would and should. He keeps wanting to bring his birthday gift of The Force Awakens up to his room even though there is no DVD player up there.

As we prayed on his birthday, we prayed for a year without surgery. Last year he had two. He currently has some head gear. We’ve got two world renowned cleft specialists talking about the next few steps in the process. It would be great for him to have a bit of a break.

We are thankful to have Eli as part of our family- even though he won’t go to bed quietly, and he won’t stop moving. We can’t imagine life without our little guy.

 


Last week our Congelese princess asked: “Mom, why aren’t there more black people in movies?”

It is a difficult question.

She, of course, watches kids movies. I’ve seen just about every movie she has. So I racked my brain.

Lucious Best a.k.a. Frozone is just about the only one who comes to mind. He was played by a black man, Samuel L. Jacksom.

Maybe Will Smith had a point.

Aren’t black children, and not just transracially adopted kids, an audience for kids’ movies? Don’t any black filmmakers make movies for kids?

TV shows aren’t too different. I think. My kids don’t watch much TV. If they do it is a show we DVRed or on Netflix.When I am home after lunch- their time to watch- I don’t see many or any black people.

In the shows I watch there aren’t many either. Certainly not representative of our population.

When I was a kid I regularly saw black people on TV. Sesame Street. Different Strokes. The Jeffersons. Good Times. What’s Happening. The Cosby Show. The Fat Albert Show. Not just a random character, but whole casts.

What happened?

In Democracy in Black, Eddie Glaude Jr. discusses the loss of black social structures. With the advent of cable television, some new ones rose. At least for a time. Much of the black programming moved to these less mainstream, edgier networks. They became less mainstream, and I suspect we are all the poorer for it.  Now we are lucky if a show has a black character or (gasp) two.

As a result, my children don’t regularly see people like them in movies or TV.  They are all the poorer because of it. I want them to see an integrated, not a segregated society. I want them to see black families.

Thankfully we have black friends. Our world is mostly white though.

But we may have to plunder TV Land for appropriate shows (probably not Sanford and Son).

So, any movie recommendations?


Last Year’s Rally

Friday is Game Day. Each year the local schools hold a Drug Awareness rally at the same park. It isn’t about making kids aware of drugs, but an attempt to dissuade kids from using them. They bring in lots of law enforcement: helicopters, bomb squad robots, motorcycles etc. The kids love it. I love it except for one thing.

As you may know we have 3 transracially adopted kids. So? They look nothing like me. And I can get paranoid that some well-meaning person will not realize I am the parent of one of them and think I’m some predator. In our paranoid society, I’m paranoid that I’ll be unjustly accused. In a park filled with police officers.

I just don’t want to have to explain, and hope I have a picture of all of us.

Am I the only adoptive parent who struggles with this? Or do I need therapy?


The Odyessy ended with Ulysses slaying all the suitors for his wife. This one ended with no violence and death. Nor did it end with a fisticuffs with a bona-fide suitor.

This car buying experience was so different for us. What next? Would they show up? Would things be as they said?

Friday we hadn’t heard anything by 3 so Amie called. I understood if it would take a few days to get the work done. But they said the guy was on his way with the car. So it was time to clean out Gold Faithful. Four kids can certainly accumulate a lot of crap in a van. She mentioned something about some Legos finding their way into the “stow and go”. I didn’t see any Legos, but there was a stockpile of pencils, and a whole lot of dead grass and dirt. We thought we got everything out.

The guy arrived, and we signed the paperwork in a few minutes. Very simple and straight forward.

Thankfully I had the title. That was touch and go. When on vacation I had brought the keys to the lockbox to the office. I wasn’t sure where I put them when I got home. I found keys that fit, but wouldn’t turn. Somehow I got it open.

After signing paperwork, I went to double check everything.

  • New clips on the bumper? Check.
  • 4 new tires? Check?
  • New flanges in the cup holder? Check.
  • DVD player installed? Check.
  • Headphones? Only 2. They didn’t have 4, and would send 2 more later.

So far, so good. We are really enjoying the van. We did discover one oversight. I had the radio off during our test drive. I forgot to check it out afterward. It turns out the rear speakers barely work. It is probably covered by the new warranty.

We also discovered that we forgot a few things. We didn’t remove the garage door opener. They realized that and sent it overnight. We also left the new Toby Mac CD in the stereo. At least we have it on iTunes.

 

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