my dog is the cutest dog

I know this is crazy, but I saw this facebook ad, and…sigh.

I entered Bentley in a cute pet contest.  I couldn’t help it.  I picked an older picture, so he’s a little bigger now, but really, he’s still just as adorable.

I mean, seriously…am I right?

If Bentley wins, we could win $10,000 to be donated to our favorite pet charity (which would probably be the Seattle Humane Society), a $500 pet shopping spree (I’m uncertain as to what this entails) and most importantly…A BISSELL PET VACUUM. 

I don’t know how many of you have been to our house, but there’s a good chance you left with enough fur on your clothes to fashion a sweater.  We have four (yes, four) vacuums, and at any given moment at least two of them are clogged with dog hair.  We’re approaching “drowning” status.  Sure, I could go buy a new high-powered vacuum, but I think we’re a shoo in to win this thing, especially if I can get the power of facebook behind me.

Oh, and I forgot to mention: the winners of the contest are going to be featured on a Bissel box.  So not only do I win money for charity and get myself a new vacuum, but we’d also be able to launch Bentley’s modeling career. 

Voting starts January 29 and runs through February 4th.  If he doesn’t win this round, I’ll be hitting you up again in another two weeks.  Let’s save us all the trouble and win this thing the first time around.



Since I said I was going to blog once a week…

When I was a kid growing up in Arkansas, I was what some people might consider a “nerd”.  Not only was I a head taller than everyone within two years of my age, but I also skipped a grade, rocked glasses and braces, used an inhaler, and once a week spent half an hour in the doctor’s office getting allergy shots. 

(this is where I would insert a hilarious/embarrassing/now charming picture from my childhood if I had one handy on my hard drive, but I don’t, so you’ll have to check back later)

For the most part, I’ve outgrown these awkward elements of my childhood persona.  The braces came off when I was in high school, and my dentist now tells me I have one of the most beautiful sets of sans-cavity teeth he’s ever seen.  My junior year of high school my parents gave me contacts for Christmas.  Upon opening the small box and seeing a case I promptly started crying, proving I would have no problem with dried out lenses.  I’m still usually the tallest woman in the room, but at least some of the boys have now outgrown me.  And as for the allergy shots and inhaler, I stopped using them in college when I realized hauling needles to China with me was going to create more problems than solutions. 

I used to have what you might call severe allergies.  Usually an allergist will do a skin test to determine what things set a person off.  This involves injecting tiny little pin pricks of possible allergy culprits under the skin and waiting to see what happens.  Most people will develop small whelps a centimeter or two in diameter if they’re allergic to the mold, or pollen, or what have you.  The size of the whelp is an indicator of the severity of the allergy, and a doctor will use those measurements to determine how much medication to put in an individuals allergy injection.  The first time I had this done as a child, I puffed up so big they couldn’t measure anything.  Grass was the worst, but apparently I was allergic to nearly everything they stuck me with, which made growing up in the Ozark mountains loads of fun.

As an adult I’ve mostly been able to keep the allergies at bay.  There are certain times of year that are worse than others, and the smell of fresh cut grass, while delightful, will probably always cause terror to shoot through my veins and send me running for the nearest sealed room.  A few years ago I took the advice of my doctor and started using a neti pot, and cut my 3-4 yearly sinus infections back to zero.  Plus, the limited number of horse-pill sized allergy medications that used to be available only with a prescription are now sold at Costco for pennies, and don’t need to be taken with a gallon of water to get them down.

Things recently shifted, however, when Joel and I took up residence in North Bend.  I’ve been telling myself it’s because there’s more nature around, and sometimes Nikki brings in pollen into the house on her fur, because surely, SURELY I am not allergic to dogs.  There is no possible way my Creator would have given me such love for these furry little creatures AND caused my throat to constrict and my sinuses to fill up every time I cuddled with one of them.   Whatever the cause, something was definitely wrong, because each night as we’ve gone to bed it feels like my airway has shrunk three sizes.

This morning I finally broke down and went to see an allergist.  I’m on a new insurance plan with my employer (thank you, employer!) and signed up to see one of their approved doctors.  They instructed me to stay off of my allergy medications for the four days leading up to the test, which made for a very, very long three-day weekend.  When I arrived, we went through a series of questions, and as we talked I found all my theories of dogs-transporting-pollen being dashed.  No, they wouldn’t be bringing things into the house right now because it’s winter.  Yes, the dust in the house is probably hard, but the dust at this point is probably mostly dog dander.  You don’t allow the dogs in your room, do you?  Oh, you do?  On the bed?  And they crawl all over your face and lick you as soon as they wake up every morning?  Hmm, this truly is a mystery…

Turns out there is good news and bad news.  Good news: my previous allergies to dust, dust mites, ragweed, trees, and mold seem to have mostly disappeared.  Bad news: I still have a severe reaction to four allergens – grass, a type of seasonal fall mold, cats…and dogs.

Suggestions from the allergist that would help my allergies but potentially give me a heart attack in the process included keeping the dogs out of our bedroom, and especially off of our bed.  Seeing as how all five of us sleep in the same room and Bentley and Finn regularly use our bed as a wrestling arena, I’m not sure I can make this happen.  I can, however, start changing my sheets once a week and buy an allergen filtration fan for our room.  I plan to sleep curled up next to it until I can once again breath at night.  I was also given a prescription for an inhaler, which sends me way back to elementary school when I huffed and puffed my way through PE with the help of one of those little contraptions.    I was told that if I start using it more that two or three times a week I would need to go back in and get a prescription for something stronger, or potentially get rid of the dogs.  I’ve decided I’m going to MAKE that inhalor work if it kills me, because all the other options bum me out.  It’s no good to breath if I have to turn my back on the boys.

So no allergy shots for now.  Thank goodness, because I have a reputation to protect.

Dear Bentley, part two

RE: the new kid

It’s been a few days now, and I’m fairly certain you’ve noticed that there has been an addition made to our little family.  This deduction comes mainly from the fact that said addition has been glued to your side, face, leg, tail, or whatever other body part he can get his little mouth on.

Here’s the thing: over New Year’s weekend Joel’s good friends (and mine, for that matter) came to visit, and brought with them a little snowball by the name of Kiwi.  Do you remember her?  About four-months-old, twice your size, and looked a lot like Nikki?  She was the one who kept jumping on you when you were trying to nap in the kitchen.  Anyway, you two seemed to hit it off, and as a result you were pretty exhausted all weekend and, well…we liked that a lot, because when you’re tired you don’t have the energy to eat our shoes.  Or the baseboards.  Or chunks of Nikki’s fur that you find under the dining room table.

I had been telling Joel that you needed a buddy for awhile now.  The plan was to get another big dog, someone to help Nikki guard the house as she starts to slow down.  We’d thought about another Great Pyrenees, or maybe a Great Dane, definitely something with “Great” in the name.  We were in no rush, though.  We’d originally said sometime after Christmas, and then started pushing it back to the summer…until Kiwi came and chased you around the house until you collapsed.  Or more specifically, a few days after Kiwi left when you started running laps around the house and doing that horrible screetch-howl you do when you really want attention and no one will give it to you.

Back when we were thinking about bringing you into our lives we talked for awhile about getting a dachshund.  You know, those wiener dogs?  Joel had one when he was a kid, but for whatever reason I’ve never really been drawn to pets that look like they could double as food items.  We bypassed on the doxie in favor of you…and aren’t you glad?  Of course, since becoming a dog-mama I now realize that I’m infatuated with all dog breeds, be they show quality or be they mutts, and have since gotten over my dogs-that-look-like-food hangups.  Then, about a month ago Joel went to a friend’s house for a night with the guys (you and I stayed home with Nikki and watched “Hoarders“), where he met and  immediately fell in love with a little wirehaired doxie named Penny.  He spent about half of his evening sending me pictures from his cell phone.  He tried to tuck Penny in his pocket and bring her home to play with you, but was unable to make it out the door before being intercepted by his friend’s wife, who began to threaten bodily harm if the pup was not put back.

After your weekend with Kiwi we decided to start the search for your new sibling.  I already spend a good portion of my lunch hour on, and I work a volunteer shift at the Seattle Humane Society (as you know from all the doggie smells I bring into the house on Mondays) so I had a good idea of what was out there.  What I didn’t expect, however, was to find a wirehaired, one-year-old, housebroken, fully vaccinated doxie  for only $175 within a two-hour drive of Seattle. 

I was so excited I emailed the rescue organization before talking to Joel.  I got a prompt response inviting me out to see the pup the next day, which was a little quick, so I filled out the paperwork and told her we’d be there the next weekend.  I was starting to get nervous about adding a third dog to our relatively small house, so I even told her we weren’t definitely going to take him home, and if someone else fell in love with him and adopted him we wouldn’t mind.

In retrospect, I can’t believe I said that.

On Saturday we loaded you up into the Land Rover and headed over the mountains to Eastern Washington.  You did well in the car, as you always do, with the exception of the McDonald’s drive-thru.  For whatever reason, you’ve got it stuck in your head that whenever we pull up to a window like that you should get a treat, or at least some acknowledgement of your presence.  Work on that, will you?

We arrived at the foster home as it was getting dark.  Several Schnauzers popped their heads up to watch us out the window and started barking as soon as we stepped out of the car, indicating we were in the right place.  We stood at the gate as a nice lady brought a small, gray dog on a leash out to meet us.

Little B, I’ve sometimes wondered what my husband looked like as a child.  Now I know, because the minute he laid eyes on Finn, from somewhere deep inside this grown man, a seven-year-old Joel grew so excited that he could no longer be contained.  That sweet, silly little grin has been plastered on his face ever since.

But back to you.  Finn was shy at first, and scared really, which made sense when we learned that he’d only been in the foster home for a week, and in a rescue home before that, and in a shelter for months before that.  He growled at Joel a little, and shrunk away from my hands.  He expressed his displeasure most vocally when you decided to investigate his foster mom’s cat, which was hiding in a kennel on the front porch.  I know you meant no harm, because you had never even seen a cat before and I’m sure you were fascinated, but for whatever reason Finn was feeling protective and let you know.  We saw moments of hope, though, when you would run to the other side of the fenced yard and Finn would follow you for a few feet, then remember he had already decided to be nervous and turn around. 

Finn’s foster mom swore to us that he actually loved to play and chase other dogs around, and we prayed it was true.  You love to run, and love to wrestle, and there was no point in bringing this dog home if you two weren’t going to get along.

No point except seven-year-old Joel, that is.  Seven-year-old Joel was not going anywhere without that dog.

We loaded back up in the car, you in the back, Finn in my lap, and headed to the rescue house to fill out the paperwork.  Now, Little Beans, I tell you this so you know why we keep cuddling and coddling and loving on your new brudder, so don’t tease him about it, and be sensitive.  Finn shook and whimpered as we drove away from his home of one week.  He was scared to death, and very unsure of us and our big black car and our jumpy little puppy.  He’s probably sick of moving and being taken away from people he’s bonded with, and I don’t blame him.  It occurred to me in that moment that we are so lucky to have you, and you are so lucky to never have known what it feels like to live in a shelter, or move from place to place, or even potentially be hit by someone 20 times your size.  He’s still not sure about us, so be nice to him, okay?

Finn started to calm down as we drove, with Joel and I both gave him lots of back scratches and tried to assure him we were sticking around.  The nerves seemed to start back up, however, when we got to the rescue home he’d lived in for two months.  We understood why when we walked inside.  In addition to many other animals we could hear in other parts of the house, we met:

  • a deaf Basset Hound,
  • several cats,
  • a kitchen full of Boston Terriers,
  • a four-month-old mix puppy that was so excited to see Joel he nearly jumped over his cage,
  • a tropical bird that sounded like a fire alarm when it squawked, which it did the entire time we were in the house, and
  • a laundry basket full of four-week-old puppies that had been left in a box at an abandoned building, and would have frozen to death within hours had they not been found.

No wonder Finn was nervous, right? 

And none of this is said in a derogatory way.  If someone shows up at my door with a laundry basket of puppies, I’m not turning them away, either.  And if not for this wonderful woman Finn wouldn’t be with us, or with anyone else, because he was on death row at the animal shelter he was living in before the rescue home, simply because quarters were getting too tight.

After a quick microchipping and exchange of paperwork, we were out the door.  Finn sat in my lap on the long drive back, and started to relax as we drove towards home.  You slept, no doubt anticipating the wrestling match that would ensue when we arrived at the house.

When we got back to North Bend, you bolted inside, while Finn looked around as if he was unsure whether or not he should take the time to get to know us or you or any of his surroundings.  We walked through the kitchen and into the living room, where he seemed surprised to see dog toys already on the floor.  You had assumed pounce position, ready for playtime, but Finn needed some time to settle in.

Apparently he only needed an evening, because since Sunday morning when you two woke up, you’ve been chasing each other around the house.  And I say “each other” because I’m seldom certain of who is chasing whom.  Finn seems to have settled into his role as your brudder just fine, and when the pair of you aren’t playing you’re sitting on the couch together, or on your pillow in the kitchen, or on our bed.  Even Nikki seems to have adjusted.  After a few days of snapping and growling, she now seems ready to ignore Finn’s presence.  I think she’s realized that he keeps you occupied enough that you no longer feel the urge to dangle from her face while she’s trying to walk from one napping spot to another.

Little Man, I’m not sure you realize this, because he acts totally normal with you, but Finn is still a little scared.  He growled at our friends on Tuesday when we took him to Bible study, and he whimpers whenever we get in the car, as though he’s afraid we’re taking him somewhere and dump him.  That’s why he gets to sit in the front seat with me.  Personally, I think your spot in the back is more fun, because you get to watch all the cars and lick the windows, but Finn doesn’t realize that yet.  So don’t be jealous if he gets some extra attention.  I don’t even think you know what it feels like to be jealous, because you’re a pretty swell puppy, but it might be hard on you to watch us holding Finn and giving him hugs instead of you.

Who am I kidding.  You squirm like a fish when we try to hold you too long.

(On a sidenote, if I groan now when I pick you up, it’s not that you’ve gotten fat; Finn is just tiny by comparison, and it makes you feel as though you weigh 50 pounds instead of 20.  Don’t start dieting…yet.)




Seeing as how it’s mid-January, now seemed like a good time to make some new year’s resolutions. 

I’ve never been one to make resolutions in January.  Working in higher education for so long has kept me on the school year calendar that most people abandon after college, and I find myself feeling more contemplative around the start of the new academic year instead of the calendar one.  However, I am no longer one of the blessed few who celebrate summer with two months off, so January is feeling a little more like the start of something new than it normally does.

So here are a few things I’d like to get done this year, in no particular order:

  • Avoid the gym until everyone who made a new year’s resolution to lose weight/exercise more/look good in a bikini come spring break has given up, because I know I won’t get my elliptical back until the swarm is gone.
  • Get Bentley a buddy in the form of a new puppy (done and done, I’m sure there will be another post along these lines to come fairly quickly).
  • Blog once a week (because every day blogging is no longer feasible).
  • Learn the fundamentals of cooking via the book Ratio and hopefully put them into play by baking a killer loaf of bread.
  • Re-teach myself to crotchet, thus carrying on the tradition of my mother and grandmother and who knows how many elder-mothers before.
  • Keep looking and applying for jobs that I think I can love.
  • Do not, absolutely, under no circumstances have a nervous breakdown about turning 30.
  • Give better presents.

Several of these are already under way, some of them may not stick, but I’m going to try darned hard to write on this blog once a week because it makes me happy to do so.  And I have a lot of free time at work.