Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Angel and Friends

One of the big events in our family this past year was the addition of a dog to our household! Angel is an adult female Bichon Frise, and she was most definitely meant to be a Cormier! She joined our family last August - this is how we found her...

We had been promising the kids a dog for years, but there were some things that needed to happen first before we could bring a pet into our home. First, the girls needed to be a little older to handle some of the responsibility (or rather, for me to nag them about the responsibility). Then, we needed to bring David home, then get him settled, then David needed to have his surgery and recover, then we needed warm weather, then we needed to go on our summer vacation...

At the end of July last year, Al mentioned that we should really honor our commitment to the kids and start looking for a dog. It was a Friday evening and we were getting ready to head to Chili's for dinner. I took a few minutes before we left to log into and entered our requirements. Because Hannah and I have animal allergies, we needed a "hypoallergenic" breed, and Al's extended family recommended a Bichon Frise as they were not high-energy but were good with children. We wanted an adult dog that was already housetrained, and one that would be comfortable with children in the house. Once I hit "enter", a list appeared of Bichons in our area. The first dog on the list, a female named Halo, was between 3 and 5 years old, and living with a foster family in Sandwich (about 20 minutes from us). I shot a quick email off to the contact, then turned off my computer and went to dinner. While waiting for our chips and queso dip, I checked my email and read the reply from Kristine, the woman caring for this dog. She wanted to know more about our family. I sent her a brief email with basic information, and suggested she check out our blog to learn more about us. Her reply was very enthusiastic - she felt our family would be a great fit for Halo. Kristine had one other couple scheduled the next day to meet Halo, but she was not optimistic as this couple were empty nesters and both worked all day. Halo needed more companionship than they could provide.

While I was hopeful that Halo would be the pet for us, I also needed to be realistic and keep our options open. That night, I inquired about a few other Bichons via email. All responses were lukewarm at best - they needed applications and background checks and were concerned about the number of kids in our home, blah blah blah... None were as enthusiastic as Kristine's.

By Sunday evening, we had learned that the other couple was not going to be the right family for Halo and that it was up to us. It was hard not to get too excited - things were going well and moving quickly! We set a time to meet Halo that Friday evening. We all headed to Sandwich to meet this little dog. This is the sweet pup we met...

We fell in love with her immediately! She was sweet and lovable and patient with the many little hands that were petting and poking her. Since we were going to be out of town for the next two weekends, we made arrangements to bring her home with us the following Sunday. We spent the next week gathering all the things we'd need for her - crate, food, treats, leash, special shampoo, treats, dental care, toys, and more treats (this was going to be one spoiled pup!).

I admit I was nervous. I have never had a "real" pet (fish and hamsters didn't really count). I didn't know how to properly care for a dog. But she and I were patient with each other and she's trained me well!

We decided to change her name. Kristine had given her the name Halo because the round puff of fur on the top of her head looked a bit like a halo. I wasn't really fond of the name, particularly since there's a violent video game out there called Halo and I didn't like the association! We did some brainstorming and came up with the name Angel. It fits.

I read through the paperwork we received, and learned some more about Angel's life before she joined us. Angel was rescued from a puppy mill by an animal rescue organization in Tennessee called A Place to Bark. She was given medical attention and groomed, and then transported to The Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago. From there, she went to her foster family in Sandwich, and finally, to our home. Since bringing Angel home, I've been learning more about puppy mills and the organizations that work to rescue these animals. Our pup probably had a pretty tough life prior to joining our family, but we have been helping her make up for lost time by spoiling her shamelessly!

Angel is most definitely an "indoor girl"! She is really good at relaxing, lounging, snoozing and generally taking it easy. She finds all the good sunny spots in the house and makes herself comfortable.

She loves napping near (and with) the kids...

Some of my sweetest times with her are early in the morning, before anyone else in the house is up. I sip my coffee and try to wake up, and she snuggles with her head in my lap...

But she's a lot of fun, too. She is patient with the kids, and even plays dress-up once in a while!

We added two other little friends to our household this year. David really wanted a hamster of his very own, so on his birthday in November, the whole family took him to PetCo to choose his new pet.

"I want that one! Right there!"

All summer, David had been talking about the pet he wanted and what he would name it. "Salty!" he declared. "Salty? Why Salty?" I asked. He gave no reason, but instead, improved on the name. "Salty Pepper! That's what I'll call my hamster!" I still have no idea where he came up with that name, but it's a really good one, don't you think? I don't suppose there is another hamster anywhere with that name!

Salty Pepper at home.

 This spring, we moved bedrooms around and Abbie found herself with her very own room (more on that in another post). She set right to work making it hers, and wanted to add some life to it. So she spent some of her birthday money on a lovely Beta fish she named Luna (it's a Moon Beta, hence, the name).

Abbie's room is all purples and blues with a little lime and hot pink thrown in (I call them the Justice colors). Very tween. So lovely Luna fits right into the color scheme.

And so now our family consists of two adults, four children, a dog, a hamster and a fish. I am begging them all to stop the insanity right there.

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