Introducing: ?

Posted in Pets on February 8th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , ,

We don’t know yet!  We have a new addition to our family, but he doesn’t have a name yet!  It’s hard for a family of 6 to all agree on the same name for a new puppy…

As you probably know, our beloved almost 12-year-old dog passed away a week before Christmas.  If you know our family and how much we love animals, then it should come as no surprise to you that we are again a 2-dog household.  It all started a few Saturdays ago when we decided to take the kids to the Humane Society, “just for fun”.  Yeah, right – I should have known better!  How could I possibly think we’d be able to resist giving a cute homeless pet a loving home?  We couldn’t.  We found a lab mix we all loved, and we went to lunch, talked it over, and decided to turn in an application.  But another family turned in an application five minutes before us for the same dog!  They said they would look over the apps and call us either Monday or Tuesday either way.  Well, the entire week went by, and my husband called them every day because we had 3 anxious kids!  Disney (who’s 3) kept asking if we were going to take the ‘vanilla dog’ home; it was so cute!  Finally they called on Friday to tell us that the dog had been adopted.  We were disappointed but also kind of expecting it since we knew that another family wanted him.  But that did it – now we officially wanted another dog.  So Saturday on the way to the zoo, we stopped by another humane society and found another dog we really liked – she was a very unique looking dog, a black Lab / Basset Hound mix.  She had the long, stocky body of a basset, complete with long ears, but she was all black like a lab – adorable.  We didn’t have our checkbook with us, so we had to come back Sunday to put down a deposit.  When we came back Sunday, the dog got so excited that she nipped my husband on the mouth – twice.  Uh, oh.  Can’t do nipping on the face with 4 small kids, whether it was intentional or not, so we were back to square one.  When we were there on Saturday, we had seen people come in with 2 teeny tiny puppies, so we decided to have a look.  I was going to have to housebreak the Lab/Basset, so I figured if I was going to have to housebreak a dog, it might as well be a teeny tiny adorable puppy, right?  Never mind that I’m potty training a 3-year-old, have a toddler to chase around, and two other kids to get to school.  My days are so hectic, why not add to the chaos?

So here he is, how cute is this puppy?!?

He’s a beagle / shepherd mix about 8 weeks old, and yes, he is as sweet as he looks!  He just adores our dog Beesly, but she’s not sure what to think yet – eventually they’ll be friends I’m sure.  Squawky the parrot was intrigued with him too, mostly because he has a little bell on his collar so we know where he is.  The kids like the names Johnny and Buddy, but we’re not taken with either of those.  We liked the name Gizmo, especially because the kids have been into watching Gremlins lately, but the kids don’t like the name.  My husband and I also think the name “Hank Markdukas” is really cute – it’s a reference to the movie I Love You Man.  It’s a funny movie, not one of our favorites or anything, but there is a funny running joke in the movie about a Hank Markdukas.  We also like the name Michael Scott after the main character on our favorite show, The Office, but of course the kids aren’t thrilled about any of those names.  This sounds like a good poll…

What name would best fit this adorable puppy?

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The bottom line is, our cute little guy needs a name before he starts answering to “puppy”.  Yesterday I was feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of adding a puppy to my already hectic lifestyle, but it went well today, and he is incredibly adorable!  I love to snuggle him; he is so soft and sweet.  And the responsibility involved with him is different than the kids; there is much more instant gratification.  Kids whine, cry, yell and fight, while puppies wiggle and snuggle.  I love our new puppy!  That reminds me of an Alan Jackson song – “I’m in love with you baby, and I don’t even know your name”!

Small Town Networking

Posted in Everyday Life on April 9th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

The other day, I had signed up to work the annual county business and industry show – this is my 4th year working the show; third year for working it for the community theater.  I always sign up for this job because I find it fun.  Lots of people in the theater thank me profusely for working it; I guess they don’t find it fun?  I wonder why I like it so much… Well, first of all, I get to hang out with adults all day – that’s a plus and not something I’m used to.  And there’s the food – Dairy Queen has a booth about 5 away from ours every year where they give away samples of ice cream cake – YUM.  And then there are the spice people in the gym – they give samples of delicious spiced chicken.  Also in the gym are the dairy farmers with their samples of cheese – usually, but I didn’t see them this year; darn economy, I guess.  But a new booth this year was Myro’s Pizza, and they were giving samples of their baked potato soup (for a donation – you can’t give that stuff away for free, it’s TOO good!).  Most of all, I like working the Business and Industry show because I like meeting people from the area, spreading the word about the theater, and just being a part of and learning about things going on  in the county.  I always see many people I know; people I haven’t seen in awhile and some I see every day, and that’s always fun.  I usually work the show with a friend beside me, and we can chat in between “customers”.  That person usually introduces me to people whom I’ve heard of but haven’t yet met which is also fun.

This was an exciting year; we were very busy until about 2-3 pm, and during the busy time, we had many people who were interested in our theater – from audience to backstage stuff to kids stuff to donating things – I saw interest in almost every facet of the theater.  And there was interest in auditions for parts in plays; including a male who sings.  Those are an endangered breed around these parts.  I sure hope he shows up for auditions for our musicals.
At our booth, we had a display of pictures from our last show.  A passer-by pointed at one and said, “He used to be my neighbor.”  And I said, “That’s funny, he used to be my neighbor too!”  Turns out, the lady has been my next door neighbor for 2 years, and I didn’t even know it!

And the Humane Society had 6 adorable 6-week-old kittens at the B and I show!  I want a cat so badly – I did research on the internet to find out if they’ve come up with some miracle cure for cat allergies, but they have not.  In fact, webmd.com kept saying that people with cat allergies should refrain from getting a cat.  That’s enough to stop me for now, but I don’t know for how long…

So anyway, it was a great show  – I did actually get a little bored, but only because the action slowed down right as my co-worker had to leave.  I read our theater’s cookbook cover-to-cover, which was nice because I’ve barely had a chance to look at it before now.  It’s a nice cookbook, and I’m going to try a recipe from it for game night – had another frustrating trip to Walmart to shop for the ingredients.  But I don’t want to go off on a Walmart tangent right now; things are calming down for nighttime.  I did notice that the cookbook has my peanut butter bars recipe (MMmmmm, peanut butter bars!) under Halloween treats, where they don’t belong as they’re just a regular dessert.  Oh well, they’re somewhat easy to make and really good – I have to make those again soon!

Letter to the Humane Society

Posted in Pets on May 1st, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

As an animal lover, I am a big believer in getting as many of your pets from a humane society as you can.  Sometimes there are reasons why a family might need a “purebred” animal (allergies to certain breeds, professional showmanship, etc.), but for the most part, I don’t really like when pet stores carry dogs and cats for sale, especially when they try to make “breeds” out of dogs that are mutts!  Case in point – we visited a Petland this weekend, just something to do to pass the time while we were in Fort Wayne, Indiana visiting the zoo, and I noticed that at least HALF of their puppy stock was mixed breeds!  The same animals you could buy (rescue!) for a small fraction of the price at a humane society, or even a pound, where they euthanize (KILL) animals just because they have too many!  And here these pet stores are creating more, just for profit and to “design” a custom-made dog for somebody that in my opinion, does not have their priorities straight if they’re willing to spend extra money just to have a “designer” puppy.  Petland, etc. will make up breeds; for example, the store we went to had “puggles” (a pug crossed with a beagle), cock-a-poos (cocker spaniels mixed with poodles), and “borderjacks” (border collie mixed with a jack russell terrier), to name a few.  Anyway, I won’t go into the reasons for choosing to adopt your next dog from a shelter vs. a pet store (except to say it will SAVE A LIFE!!!), but I just thought I would post a copy of the letter I’m going to send to my local humane society to thank them for the awesome family pet we adopted a few months ago from their shelter:

Dear Humane Society:
We just wanted to say thank you for our new family member.  We adopted “Sasha” from your facility on March 4, 2008.  We renamed her Beesley after a character from our favorite tv show, and not only has she learned her new name and some new tricks, she has become a very much loved part of our family.  She gets along with our 2 dogs just like one of the “pack”, and she is an energetic, obedient, and gentle playmate for our 3 young children.  She seems really happy in our house, and we couldn’t be happier after choosing any other dog for our new pet.  Thanks so much for taking such good care of her while she was a homeless dog and for having patience with us while we got to know her to see if she would fit into our family.  She fits like a lost piece of our family puzzle, and we couldn’t imagine a better dog…  well, except for our “old lady” of the house, the pack leader named Charity, who Beesley worships and spoils along with the rest of us!  Here is a picture of the kids with Charity and Beesley.  Thanks again!

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Food Chain Gang

Posted in Pets on April 4th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I should probably explain where the title of my blog comes from.  It’s actually a title I picked out years ago as I was musing while doing housework one day.  I thought, a story about our household should be called, “The Food Chain Gang”.  At the time, we had a few more pets than we have now, completing the chain.  Back then, we were the happy owners of 2 dogs, a cat, a parrot, and a little marsupial (animal with a pouch, like a kangaroo) called a sugar glider.  The sugar glider and the cat have since crossed the “Rainbow Bridge” which some people call pet heaven.  And, if you’re a regular reader, you’ve read that we’ve added a new dog to our family in the last month.  But the new dog doesn’t exactly complete a food chain, so I just felt the need to explain why my blog is called “My Food Chain Gang” even though we are down to 3 dogs and a parrot.

As an animal lover, I would love to add even more pets to our menagerie, however, it’s just not practical right now.  We have 1 dog with some terrier (terror!) in her, Jack Russell to be exact, and she will “hunt” any kind of small animal we bring into the house.  So, my dreams of owning a rat or 2 or 3 will have to wait at least a few years, hopefully more, since the “Jerk” Russell mix is only called that in jest – she is our baby.  My husband and I adopted her before we were married and before the kids were born.  And before you judge me, do the research – rats actually make very good pets!  Unlike many of their rodent cousins; hamsters, gerbils and the like, rats are actually pretty clean, very smart, and they are even friendly and cuddly!

Since I already mentioned wanting a rat, which many people think is a crazy pet, it should be no surprise when I say with sincerity that if I didn’t have small children, I would have a pet alligator.  Again, a little bit of research will tell you that alligators are almost nothing like (in behavior) their fellow crocodilians.  They are actually quite docile and easier to handle than you would think if you know what you’re doing of course – stress that point.  I know some about handling alligators, though I’ve only held small to medium sized ones, and I have never even owned a reptile, so needless to say, this is not an option for me right now…  but maybe someday!

I would also like a tortoise, but with 4 kids, 3 of which will be under the age of 5, I do enough cleaning up around the house as it is – don’t need a tank to clean!  Plus, we are very lucky to be able to afford some mini-vacations now and then, and any more responsibilities for the pet sitter might put her over the edge 😉 

I have always wanted a goat, and now that we live in the country, I can see how easy it is to get one – you can just open up the paper, call a number and buy a goat.  But I don’t think the neighbors would appreciate what our lawn would look like.  Something tells me our quiet residential neighborhood near the heart of the downtown of the city would not be a good place to house a goat.

I would love another cat someday, but I’m allergic.  And it all but broke my heart when I lost my beloved cat earlier this year…  I felt very guilty that I couldn’t really pet her or spend time with her as much as I (and she) wanted because of my allergies.

And talking about cheap farm animals reminds me of another realization I had after moving to the country – baby chicks and ducks are really cute AND very cheep, err inexpensive!  But again, our Jerk Russell would just try to eat any kind of animal like that.  She STILL likes to hunt the parrot when he flies in the house, even though he’s taken a nip at her more than once with his huge beak!

And I would LOVE my own parrot – I’ve always wanted an African Grey, ever since I was really little and read a wonderful book by the same guy who wrote the movie, “The Water Horse”.  The author is Dick King-Smith, and his book, “Harry’s Mad” is just a wonderful story for kids about a boy and his pet parrot.  But while I’m on the subject of parrots, let me talk for a minute about pets NOT suitable for families.  Parrots sure are beautiful animals, and they’re lots of fun when they talk, laugh, and imitate, but they are also very moody and unpredictable.  Most are not cuddly, and if they are, it’s usually only with one person in the household, and they will resent every other person who gets in their way.  Which is what happened with our parrot – he has bonded to Daddy, that’s his “mate”, and the rest of us cannot touch him, OR ELSE we have to deal with the rath of a beak that is strong enough to snap a broomstick in HALF!  Parrots are VERY loud – and there is no relief from their noise.  Their scream can rattle your eardrum, and is almost always guaranteed to make a small child cry.  And, they scream to have fun!  It’s not just when they are upset or want something, so if you think you’ll be able to quiet a screaming parrot, guess again!  Luckily, ours is about to celebrate his 7th year with us, so through lots of growing pains, we’ve learned how to make it work in our house.  Parrots can also be very dangerous, so just like any other animal, kids need to have constant supervision around parrots.  Overall, as the owner of a parrot, I would HIGHLY recommend another pet choice to anyone with kids in the house.

I wouldn’t recommend a sugar glider as a pet either.  Ours was “used” – we actually f0und her at a garage sale – and that is a testament to how often people think it’d be cool to have one of these only to decide later they’re too much work.  They are intelligent, social animals, so they require lots of attention.  However, they are also nocturnal, so you have to be available at night to take them out of their cage to play.  Light will actually damage their eyes, so taking them out at night in a specially under-lit room is required.  They can be nippy, smelly (they excrete an odor to mark their territory), and can even make loud noises all night that keep you awake.  And they require a special diet of fresh fruits and vegetables also, which can be inconvenient and expensive.

So anyway, now that I’ve recommended all the pets that AREN’T good for families, I would say that the standard dog or cat IS great for families.  Obviously, there is a lot to take into consideration when shopping for one of these, and I won’t go into that this time…  if you really need some good advice about why humane societies are a better choice than pet stores and what to look for while choosing a pet, see my previous post called, “3’s a Crowd?”.

So, now you know where the title “My Food Chain Gang” came from.  Maybe someday, I will add to the chain and have a real zoo to call my own.  But for now, I will stick with the gang we have – everybody knows their place in the chain and gets along great!

3’s a Crowd?

Posted in Pets, TV Shows on March 4th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Announcing a new addition to the family: Beesley!  No, we didn’t have the baby early – Beesley is of the canine variety.  She is named for a character on what is quite possibly the best tv show ever, The Office (Pam Beesley).  Now that the writer’s strike is over, we can once again look forward to new episodes of this great show.  This way, if Pam and Jim get married, there is still a Beesley namesake 🙂

Beesley

She is a cocker spaniel mix about 5 1/2 yrs. old.  She is black and white and really cute!  She’s great with kids, and we’ve had a bit of a rocky start with our other 2 dogs, but we think 3 dogs will be good company and not a crowd soon.  We got her from the humane society, which is always a crap-shoot, but well worth it if you do your research.  Get to know the breed of dog you’re considering (if possible, sometimes they don’t always know what a mutt is made of!), and spend a lot of time getting to know the potential pet and vice versa – bring your whole family to test the dog around kids and look at a bunch of dogs to get an idea of what kind of personality and habits you may or may not want in a new family member.  Remember, this pet will be living with you and your loved ones for hopefully a number of years, so it’s really important to find a good fit!  Giving a pet a home who needs one is so rewarding!  It’s really easy and fun to go puppy shopping at a pet store because let’s face it, puppies are some of the cutest things ever!  But remember, they grow out of the cute and teeny phase within MONTHS, sometimes even mere WEEKS!  Puppies are not potty-trained, and you will have no idea how easy (or difficult!) your new puppy will be to potty train.  Our first dog took years to potty-train, whereas our 2nd dog basically potty-trained herself even though she was a young puppy when she came into our home.  Beesley is already potty-trained, and she seems to have had a good home in the past.  She is used to being let out on a cable in the backyard, knows her way around the house, and basically seems to fit right in so far at least…  So, our crap-shoot seems to have paid off thus far!  I will keep you posted!