Sunday, July 15, 2012

And Then There Were Five

This is how things work in our household: At the beginning of the week we generally have no idea what wild experience will come our way by the end of the week. Often the excitement comes to us from an outside source, but even more often we are the authors of our own adventure.

The week started normally enough with a trip to Greenfield Village for Macy’s 2nd Monday with Analee and Megan and their children. 
Flowers in her hair

Homemade pennant 

On Tuesday, Hallie and Landon went to the movies (again! Two weeks in a row. Mike is jealous), this time to see Brave.

The craziness began on Wednesday. We had been toying in very vaguely hypothetical terms about getting the kids a dog. Dan and Doreen next door recently got a working dog for their son Elliot, who has autism, and Landon has been obsessed with the dog’s behaviors. Also, the people at Kaufman have said that pets can help kids with SPD. Still, we parents were wary. Both of us had pets when we were young, so we know that they’re good to have, but we also know that they require a lot of work, need a lot of attention, and hamper a family’s ability to go on spontaneous adventures.

We had recently begun slowly warming up to the idea of a dog in the future. Mike suggested to Landon that once he could take care of himself (independently get dressed, get ready for bed, help with bigger chores, etc.) we could get a dog. That would buy us a year or two, right? Well, conspiring forces decided to unite on a different plan. Hallie had started looking at pet adoption websites on Tuesday night and shared some links for available animals with Sara and Mike on Wednesday morning. Before too long, “Lucy and Ethel” (as Mike has decided to start calling them) got all enthusiastic about going out to Westland (about 45 minutes away) to see an available chocolate Lab. As Sara put it, looking at the dogs and thinking about actually getting one “is like crack to me!”

Sara and Chase came by in her SUV (the better to hold the dog we might take home), and the four of us plus Priscilia joined them for what was supposed to be a couple of hours to Westland and back to look at the dog. Five hours and two viewed dogs later, we had signed paperwork to take home a six-month old male Labrador retriever/hound mix who had come up with his litter-mate from South Carolina on Monday.

The dog came to us named Blaze (his brother was Rambo), but we decided to change it to Leo (for Landon and Eliza Owens). Hallie put the name “Dr. LEO” on his collar tag. Mike even invented a backstory: Dr. Leopold is the son of a star-crossed union between a charming Southern Belle and a tall, dark, and handsome Atlantic Canadian drifter.

It has not been all lollipops and rainbows as we have gotten used to each other. Leo may have suffered abuse wherever he lived before relating to his potty training because when he had a couple of accidents today he got very edgy each time Mike found out, including growling at us. Good thing Mike will be home next week to see if he can help Leo retrain. We are crate training, and we ran into a little hiccup when the dog messed in his crate. Once everything got washed, Leo happily went back to his crate.

Overall, the biggest challenge of this whole experience is that we really are not ready to own a dog. That said, being ready is probably overrated. Some experiences you just have to leap into realizing that millions of people are doing the same thing all the time. Leo’s a beautiful dog who is very affectionate, obedient, and eager to please. He’s taken to Mike as the Alpha of the pack and has spent his time either not far from Mike’s side or pining for Mike. Landon and Eliza seem equal parts excited and scared of their new “sibling” (three under five, and two not potty trained—what were we thinking?). Hallie likes Leo (except when he barks). Anyway, more Leo-centric stories are sure to follow soon.

Tired puppy! He kept sitting up while his head slowly began to d-r-o-o-p. 
In other news, Hallie and Landon attended a couple of parties at the local park for our neighbors. Elliot celebrated his birthday, and Gabi graduated from high school. We learned that parties can be overwhelming for the boy. He had a bit of trouble at Elliot’s birthday party, but he was able to gather himself together and have a calmer, better time at Gabi’s. He even charmed Gabi’s grandma into giving him a bag of penny candy!

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