A Boy and His Puppy

Josiah is enjoying life with a puppy in the house. Having someone smaller and younger than he to boss around evidently has a lot of appeal for our littlest guy!

In all seriousness, he tries very hard to help with Sadie: takes her out for potty breaks, throws the ball for her to chase, and tells her “No!” about a gazillion times a day when she breaks house rules by trying to eat something she shouldn’t. (I probably ought to mention in Sadie’s defense that usually the something is a K’nex or Lego toy that Josiah left on the floor, heh.)

He also delights in carrying Sadie around like a sack of potatoes. Poor doggie. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I want him to treat her well, definitely. We’ve always tried to instill in our children a care and respect for God’s creatures, so they know that if we carry or hold them we should do it gently and kindly. On the other hand, I am glad if Sadie is learning to be a tad patient with the younger set, given all the children in both our immediate and extended families, not to mention the many friends whose children spend a lot of time in our house.

Shots like these

are priceless; I love the affection little Josey has for the smallest “baby” in the family!! Aren’t they sweet together?

Addition to the Family

Last Friday, Jay took his first holiday this year from work so we could make a little daytrip to pick up the newest member of the family. Her name is Sadie; she is a fluffy ten-week old Cavapoo, which means she is half Cavalier and half Poodle. They are also known as Cavadoodles and Cavoodles. Either way I think the name is silly, but they are supposed to be great little dogs and after all, it’s not their fault they’ve been dubbed with a goofy name!

After Lucy left us to follow her police dog career, we knew we’d likely be adding a new canine to the family. We’ve loved having the two dogs, and were truly sad that Lucy couldn’t bridge the transition to Jay working again by using the potty outside the house.

Given we’ve learned recently that a couple of our children have dog allergies I (being the mad researcher that I am) checked out some non-shedding, hypoallergenic breeds. We also have come to realize that though we adore big dogs, our home and lifestyle do not necessarily lend themselves to accommodating them as easily.  We are rapidly filling our modest-sized home with children, leaving less space for dogs. We have also loved having the ability to snuggle with our smaller doggie, Sasha on the couch while reading a book or watching a movie, and she sleeps on Abigail’s bed at night, keeping her company which is wonderful. When we run out in the car to do a quick errand, or head out for a short trip, Sasha jumps into the car and goes along. Very transportable.

So…I looked into “Doodles” for starters: Labradoodles and Goldendoodles. They both come in petite sizes, and are supposed to be lovely dogs. Unfortunately, the price tag associated with them is not petite, and we quickly nixed the Doodles.

We thought about another Coton…heck, Jay even joked about cloning Sasha. Again, the Cotons are wonderful dogs, but the puppies come with a pretty hefty price tag.

Sasha is old enough that we were advised if at all possible to try for a younger pup. We consulted with several rescue organizations locally to see what type of pups they might have. In each case, we just couldn’t find the combo of a young, small hypoallergenic dog that seemed happy and lowkey with young children.

A couple of friends own Cavapoos and have shared with us how much they love them.  One friend referred me to a breeder in Oklahoma who came highly recommended. I called and chatted with her on several occasions and learned a lot about the breed. They sounded like the kind of dog we were looking for. We began talking more personally about our families, and were each delighted to learn that we are both pursuing international adoption. She and her family are in process to adopt a sibling group from Haiti. This is a total aside, but was such a neat encouragement to me I just had to share!

While this particular lady’s waiting list was too long to offer us a dog before mid-fall, she was able to help steer me toward a fellow breeder who did have some Cavapoo puppies available to come home early summer as we’d hoped.  I visited this lady’s website and checked out some of the pictures of the pups, but was startled to see that all the black puppies were offered at less than half the price of the other colored dogs. Well I had to find out more about that so I called the breeder and asked her, “Excuse me, but what’s wrong with the black dogs, Ma’am?”

And basically, due to the fact that the black dogs are so much harder to get a good photograph of, they just don’t sell as quickly, especially for today’s puppy buyer, who shops online and often chooses on the basis of looks.  It occurs to me that I have seen whole rescue groups devoted to the cause of black dogs, because they are the hardest to get adopted out of shelters, and sadly, also the color that is most often euthanized. Here is a page that explains the little known but reasonable sounding “Black Dog Syndrome”.

Well, long story a little bit shorter, I spent a couple weeks inquiring about each of her black pups, seeing pictures, and learning about their various personalities, and since the breeder was within driving distance, we decided to just hop in the car and drive all the way to the border of Oklahoma and Kansas!

Of course, Sasha came along for the ride, to help choose her favorite puppy:

We enjoyed meeting the pups…

and chose our sweet little Sadie from the bunch.

Sadie Puppy spent the 5 hour drive home nestled on various children’s laps, content to snuggle.

Snuggling with the Daddy of the family during a stop at Sonic:

We have thoroughly enjoyed our first few days home with her.  She had her first visit to the vet, and received a big thumbs-up! She is currently 4.5 pounds, and is very sweet and playful. In just a few days’ time, she has learned not to fuss in her crate at night, and she is doing really well with her potty training despite being so young.  She has a little basket of toys, and has figured out how to retrieve things from there when she wants to play. Here is one of her pictures we received before we made the trip:

And how is our resident doggie feeling about the new little interloper? Well, let’s say she is tolerating the new addition.  Sadie obviously adores Sasha, and desperately wants to play with her. Sasha hasn’t yet warmed up to the point of playing, but she is doing better each day. Sadie likes to lay down near the bigger dog….this shot is hilarious. It almost looks as if Sasha is thinking, “Really? Is she really going to stay?”

“Ah well, I suppose I’d just as soon make the best of it. SIGH.”

Sasha does seem ok curling up with Sadie, as long as Jay is there as well.

The children are delighted with their new baby, and are all good helpers with Sadie. I have not really tried hard yet to get a great picture of her, but here is what we do have:

My MacGyver of a husband took himself to Home Depot, and within an hour’s time, constructed a wonderful, hinged contraption that allows Sadie access to the back door which is off our den, but which prevents her from having the run of that living area. I’ve said it before, but my hubby is a genius, and I am always so pleased with his innovation!  We think it will look nicer painted white, but here are some pics anyway:

Well, if any of you have experience photographing little black doggies whose eyes blend in with their fur, and whose faces don’t seem to have any depth on camera, maybe due to the solid, darker color…and can weigh in with tips for this novice, I am all ears!! Send any advice you have, pretty please!!

Story of a Dog…

Once upon a time there was a little yellow labrador retriever named Dixie. She was bought by a young man who wanted a cute little puppy to love, and at first he adored her. She was tiny and adorable in that rolly poly way that all puppies are, and they had great times together. But soon the young man had to leave for college and he left Dixie behind at his parents’ home where the young dog was kept outside all day long. She got into mischief, became a barker, and grew into an unwieldy seven month old puppy, who was more wild than cute. (Although definitely still pretty cute.)

In desperation, the man’s parents called Lone Star Labs, a local rescue organization whose mission is to care for and rehome lost, abandoned, or unwanted labrador retrievers.  Lone Star saw potential in little Dixie, and they had almost immediate interest in her from a family who had four kids and wanted a lab puppy to call their own. But the family couldn’t take her immediately due to some personal conflicts, so Lone Star turned to one of their foster families to take her in for a long weekend until she could go to her permanent home.  You may remember this post chronicling her arrival at the Hornes’. Miss Dixie spent a nice April weekend enjoying the hospitality offered to her at House of Horne.

Early the next week Dixie went to meet her new family….it should have been a beautiful, happy moment for everyone, but it wasn’t. Evidently Dixie, in her puppy exuberance, jumped on several of the children, and the mother decided almost immediately that there was no way they could take this wild young thing into their home. Miss Dixie had to go back to her foster family, who were only too glad to see her, and welcomed her back with open paws.

For the next several weeks, the little golden puppy charmed her foster family, who admittedly fell in love with her fairly quickly. During Dixie’s prolonged second stay, the lady of the house was nuts enough to take on yet another adorable puppy for a couple of weeks who needed a place to lay her head until she found her forever family. This puppy was younger, and the lady of the house was forced to get up in the wee hours of the night to let her outside to “do her business”, but she didn’t mind. Well, at least not too much…how could you resist this little face?

I am happy to say that today sweet Lulu puppy continues to enjoy a blissful existence at the home of some dear church friends of ours with five children, and a lot of love to give.

By middle of May, the family decided Dixie was a keeper; they changed her name to Lucy, and happily settled into life with the exuberant puppy whom everyone agreed was a perfect fit for their family.

And she was:

She played frisbee with her favorite boy as often as he’d let her.

She lay beside the baby of the family when he was sick:

She happily snuggled whomever had a hug to give:

And life was good.

In October, when the Daddy of the family found himself out of work after his startup company failed in the infamous economic downturn of 2008, Lucy was there. She was a compassionate friend, and became his shadow day in and day out. She lay beside him at his desk while he searched for jobs. She ran to catch the frisbee again and again when he needed some fresh air, and a break from the long drawn-out search. She snuggled next to him in his leather chair while he drank his beer in the evening, and was just a wonderful, if a bit hyperactive canine companion.

And then, in August of 2009, the Daddy of the family returned to work.  His new job was far away, too far to enable him to spend many long evenings throwing the frisbee for Lucy. She began to miss her “favorite boy” who had been home and personally available to her each and every day for ten long months. Instead now, the children in the family, who were home most days, took breaks in between their studies to play ball with her, romp in the yard alongside her, or play a fierce game of tug of war. The mommy lavished what affection she could upon the golden yellow doggie, and even learned to throw a decent frisbee for Lucy to retrieve. And yet, Lucy remained unhappy without the man of the house around to personally attend to her.

How did the people of the house know that the doggie was unhappy? Well, because she told them so in no uncertain terms: by regularly doing her potty business inside the house instead of outside as the Good Lord intended for doggies to do. (And as Lucy herself had done very proficiently for over 15 months since joining the Horne Household.) This was a messy state of affairs. I am sparing you the gory details, but suffice to say it is not fun to deal with doggie mess on bedroom carpet again and again and again.

After three months of Lucy continuing to eliminate inside the house, the family was sober. They loved Lucy, but couldn’t seem to help her shake her nasty new habits, no matter how they tried. They contacted their friend*** at Lone Star who confirmed their suspicion that Lucy wasn’t adjusting to her boy being gone during the day at his new job, offered some suggestions to try to help, and asked them to please check in again soon to keep them posted on Lucy’s progress.

And things continued in the same way. After six months of efforts and no change in Lucy’s behavior, the Lone Star contact suggested something new. She remembered Lucy’s prowess with the frisbee, and wondered if Lucy was just as enthusiastic with a ball. The family assured her that yes, she was, and the wonderful contact suggested that perhaps Miss Lucy needed a job to keep her busy. She told the Hornes all about the GAP: (which stands for Gifted Animal Placement) a program which trains dogs who have unusually high drive to focus and retrieve, to use these skills in a variety of jobs, many of them assisting with local police and law enforcement.  Most dogs which succeed as GAP animals are so intensely focused that they often struggle to live a quiet life as an ordinary, albeit adored family pet.

In February, Lucy had her first GAP evaluation test: she passed with flying colors. The dog was, as they like to say in the GAP world, “ball-obsessed“! The Lone Star representative said in all her years working in dog rescue that she had only ever seen one other lab with skills like Lucy, and that she was truly a special and talented doggie. Armed with this knowledge, the Lone Star folks began searching for an actual job opening for the talented Lucy. Meanwhile, Lucy’s family, who loved her dearly, and hated the notion of her leaving, but didn’t know what else to do, began praying for the dog people to find the perfect spot for their sweet Lucy. The children prayed especially hard, though they always added afterward that they hated the idea of having to say goodbye to their beloved lab.

In April, the call came: a trainer from Austin would be in town over Easter weekend to run all prescreened GAP dogs through her training evaluation. She was specifically looking for dogs who could be trained in drug and peanut detection. This was Lucy’s big chance! Her family got her rested up for her big day, and they asked their family and closest friends to please pray extra hard that she would sail through the test like a champ.

And she did! (Thanks go out to all who prayed!) Lucy was one of the special dogs chosen by Austin trainer Sharon Perry to enter the program as a drug detection dog trainee. Even now, Lucy is a few weeks into her very important training to learn to be a police dog! Once she has completed her training with Sharon, she will be matched with a “human police officer” and as a team they will spend their days sniffing out narcotics in places like schools, and airports. Miss Lucy will be doing her part to take a bite out of crime!  Of course, Lucy won’t know that. From her point of view, she will only know that someone is paid good money to play with her all. day. long. One can safely believe that she will be as happy as a dog can be with her newfound job.

This is all somewhat bittersweet for the family who raised her from puppyhood to adulthood, and bonded with her in the process. There is something beautiful about the creatures God made being able to work at a vocation which will truly help protect people, and drug detection dogs do just that. So the Hornes are proud of their Lucy and the work she will do to make the world a better place.

And yet, there is a hole in the Horne household since Lucy has gone. For all her hyper antics, and naughty behavior in the house, Lucy was a loving dog, and the family had no doubts as to her affection for them. The boys of the house  have felt her absence most keenly. Lucy slept in their room and “guarded” them at night, and they miss her. Now in the evenings, when they pray and thank God for finding Lucy such a good “job”, the boys shed a tear or two even as they utter their thankfulness. Precious kids. And in addition to thanking God…they have now added a new request to their evening prayers: that God will bring them a new puppy someday to sleep in their room and be their friend.

* **We received very sad news early this week that our Lone Star contact lost her husband suddenly and unexpectedly. He was only 43 years old, and leaves behind not just his wife, but their two young children. If you think to pray for God’s comfort for this family, I know they are desperately in need of it.

The Old Woman…

Jay has been on a business trip this week. He doesn’t do many of these, but when he goes, we have a routine of sorts that we follow, and generally we all do pretty well. All of us except Lucy.

Have I mentioned Lucy is a high energy dog? No? Well then I’ll say it: Lucy is high energy. Yes. And that might be the understatement of the year. She is young, and she is a lab. ‘Nuff said. She is sweet, but she needs her exercise, which consists of running endless trips across the backyard to leap in the air and catch a frisbee. Jay is the frisbee-thrower in the household. Try as I might, I cannot begin to tire Lucy out with my frisbee-throwing (it’s pretty poor, folks). So, when the daddy is gone, Lucy’s exercise is the shoe this mommy lets fall. Mostly because I am just lazy like that.

But also because today I have been running kids to co-op (after stopping to photograph the local wildlife which we found in our garage this morning), getting in a couple hours of readin’, ritin’ and ‘rithmetic before dropping the eldest two at piano lessons so I could take the younger two along on the weekly grocery run as well as the final Party City errand before the big Pirate Birthday tomorrow for the 3 year old.

Arriving home, we slammed down some Boston Market, ran Abigail to her volleyball practice and after getting back home again, I calculated that we had a big enough window of time before needing to pick her up to take a stroll around the neighborhood and hopefully help poor Lucy who has been absolutely stir-crazy the last couple of days without Jay home, to run off some excess energy.

The boys grabbed scooters, I got Josiah buckled into his stroller, and off we went. The walk started out promisingly enough.  Jonathan listened carefully to my instructions about holding Lucy on her leash, and the two of them led our small parade. I’d have had him push the stroller, but we felt his inability to see over the top of it could present a hazard for both him and the baby. (Oh, if only I’d known.)  Nicolas chugged along on his little scooter, I brought up the rear of the party, pushing Josey in his new set of wheels.

All went well in front of me; I recall watching my big boy of seven with great pride as he carefully walked this dog who weighs more than he does and is far stronger to say the least. She, for her part, walked politely next to him, behaving almost like the lady that she is not. It was a beautiful picture….and one that could not last.

We had traveled only two house-lengths when Jonathan and Lucy stepped around opposite sides of a road sign in the middle of the sidewalk, and tried to keep on walking despite the leash remaining behind them, tangled around the sign. The dog panicked and began jumping around trying to free herself. Jonathan reacted likewise and began swatting at Lucy with what remained in his hand of the dog leash. The stronger of the two finally disentangled her part of the leash from the sign and began bounding up the lawn of the house we were stopped in front of. Poor Jonathan held faithfully onto the leash, and for his troubles was dragged across the grass for some ways before Lucy stopped again and commenced jumping around as though she’d gone crazy, no doubt additionally riled by the sounds of our neighbors’ dogs inside the house barking excitedly.

And then the Poster Mommy of the year made a really stupid move. I stopped pushing the stroller since Jonathan needed my help. What I failed to do was to put the brake on, so as I ran to rescue Jonathan, poor Josiah rolled off the curb, tipping over as he went down, smashing onto the pavement.  (Yes, don’t you all want to come and leave your children in my care now?) Since I had to make a decision between the screaming baby, and my seven year old continuing to yell for help, I ran to the baby, righted him and the stroller, kissed his finger which, he told me quite tearfully, had a big “cratch”, assured myself he had not hit his head, and ran to assist the seven year old who was still laying on the ground while the dog jumped around him like a spooked horse.

About this time (baby still screaming, dog gone mad, older son frantically trying to hold onto crazed canine) whom should walk up but the kind neighbor from two doors down, who does not have any children of her own, but has somehow managed to live with a lab for 10 years now. She had a concerned look on her face (wonder why?) but was really sweet and asked if I could use any help.  With her assistance – during which she assured me Lucy was very normal for a young lab, we got things to a calmer state (though the dog would no longer submit to Jonathan leading her leash) and finally set out again. The rest of the walk went without incident, and actually turned into more of a run; I spent a good part of it jogging along next to my dog at a nice clip. Lucy was obviously happy, began panting somewhat heavily as she ran, and seemed as though she was really getting a good workout, the liar.

As soon as we walked through the front door of our house, she ran and grabbed the frisbee off the floor, bringing it to me as if to say, “That was fun, but this is what I really want to do!” and proceeded to pester me for the remainder of the evening. Which really wasn’t gracious of her after all we went through, now was it, dear readers?

While I was out and about with my progeny a few weeks ago some total stranger walked up to me, looked at my four children and asked “What – do you live in a shoe or something?”. Funny, funny guy….not. I might have called him an idiot (or worse) in my head while outwardly ignoring him.  But well, he was right, sort of.

I am not old. I do not live in shoe. I do not have more children than I know what to do with. But Lucy, the dog…she is certainly giving me a run for my money.

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New Pets!

On Tuesday mornings the children and I head over to our home school co-op. While there, they take classes in various subjects from teachers who are wonderfully nurturing as well as experts in their field – we theoretically could have signed up for endless classes, but limited our choices to some arts, science, and a Kindergarten concepts class for Nicolas.  Which has been a real hit.  He is enjoying his sweet class with nine other K-ers, and they have been studying worms these past two weeks, much to his delight.

The highlight of the unit on worms was yesterday: at the end of class, each student was gifted with his own “worm habitat” which comes complete with two of the little critters inside!! For those of you who are wondering, “worm habitat” appears to be a fancy term for a box of dirt and newspaper shavings – observe:

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The addition of two worms to the household means we are now up to five pets, almost a zoo by most standards, but still admittedly not nearly as lively or exciting as Melissa’s house of pets (though I don’t think even they have worms yet)!!  Nevertheless we all gotta start somewhere. And so I give you the two newest additions to our family:

Indiana Jones and “Short Round”. Here they are in their habitat posing next to the worm breakfast of champions.

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And here is one of the little guys sticking his head out for a peek at us…I’m not for sure, but I think that is Indiana.

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So Melissa, if you’re reading, I feel your pain, Honey, I really do. Jay has already laid plans and is quickly executing on a project to bring even more wildlife into this house. About which I shall have pictures and info aplenty to share next week. So maybe you and I could see about going in on a nice, little pet-free cottage somewhere? Some quiet place with no wildlife, no poop, where we would bask in the peace and quiet and CLEANLINESS of it all….and then more than likely become bored silly in a matter of minutes!

She’s Not Going to be Able to Do this…

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once the new fence is up. Poor doggie.

It is with Great Excitement That I Introduce You to….

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…..Lucy!!

At least, that’s what we voted last evening to name this furry creature who appears to have taken up residence here at House of Horne.

Personally, I am a bit dubious that the name will stick. We’ve been calling her Dixie for six weeks now. And despite a very democratic process there is one member of the household (who shall remain unnamed) who, every time the dog is referred to as Lucy yells “No! Her name is Dixie!” A real team player, that one.

So anyway, we shall see. Since we came up with this name ourselves, there will be no prizes given to our wonderful participating readers. Sorry, folks. But kudos to everyone who chimed in – we have loved reading your interesting suggestions. I think it is fair to say that Lucy received the greatest amount of positive reaction, so in our book you are all winners!

Here’s to many happy years with ole Dixie, er…I mean Lucy!!

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Happy Endings

It is my delight to show you the newest dog to make the Happy Ending’s Page on Lone Star Lab’s website!!

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Sweet baby Lulu has been adopted, and not just by any family, but a great family whom we happen to know and love! And whom we never anticipated would have any interest in a tiny lab puppy. But…we are completely thrilled at how this all turned out. My children, who had a hard time saying goodbye to Lulu, are so excited for their friends who now have a dog of their own to love. And they are more than a little happy that now they will get to watch Lulu as she grows up.

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Me? I am happy for all that and more: we are back to just one crazy puppy at the Horne house, and for now, that is quite enough for us!

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Name that Doggie Contest!

As of today, we are the proud adoptive family of one sweet little yellow lab. Her name has been Dixie, which we like ok, but we are trying to determine if we can come up with a name we like better, that fits her perfectly, and that everyone in this family can agree on. Probably not on that last count, but it’s worth a try.

So…..all of our wonderful readers: will you please help?? Submit your best pick for a name for our new dog, and the lucky winner will receive…..um…..well….the SATISFACTION of knowing you helped the Hornes find the perfect name for Dixie, also known now as, “What’s-her-name”?? In addition, “What’s-her-name” will send you a letter expressing her personal thanks, signed by her very own self.

Dixie is, and probably at full-size will remain a rather petite-ish lab, topping out at probably 55-60 pounds. She’s a very pale yellow lab, “blonde” in color with brown eyes and a nose. She is loving and sweet, and can catch a frisbee like no dog we’ve ever been around before. For seven months old she is pretty well-behaved. She loves car rides, practicing her obedience training moves, catching frisbees from Jay, and pretending she is a lap dog.

If it is any help, here are some names that were put forth by various people around here as good possibilities. My personal favorite is Lucy, chosen because it was the name of the littlest girl in one of our favorite stories: CS Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, but Jay feels uncomfortable with that name because his paternal grandmother was named Lucille. Ah well….

Other possibilities which we cannot get unanimous agreement on include:

Maisie, Trixie, Tansy, Rosie, Sweet Pea, Pixie, Myrtle, Chloe, Charlotte, and Shiloh.

So come one, everyone, send in names!!! Little Miss “What’s-Her-Name” patiently awaits your wonderful suggestions!

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