Three Kids and a Dog

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Perhaps It's Time to Get a Dog of Their Own?

I'm part of this Berner List Serv where a few times a day, I receive a collection of emails that include questions, advice and silly stories about Bernese Mountain Dogs. Today, one of my fellow Berner owners attached a link to a newspaper in Massachusetts (where I was born and still have extended family - Hi Auntie Do Do - as she's probably the only one of them who reads this blog and comments. And she just turned 73! Kudos to her for figuring out how to access my blog and even post comments!).

Anyway, I digress. There was this great story about a lost Berner and the family who found him and the fun they had if only for a few short hours. The author is Esther Baird and the paper is the "Beverly Citizen." Here's what she wrote:

Beverly, Mass. - Both my husband and I come from dog families. As growing children we experienced all those great doggy benefits: Exercise, times outdoors, and the tried-and-true responsibility of caring for a living creature. But now we have two young children, and we’re good on those fronts. Really.

That said, last Sunday we had a dog for about three hours. Not just any dog, but a huge, handsome Bernese mountain dog.

I was carrying our baby out of church — she had reached her nursery limit. My plan was to sit in the car and listen to NPR while she dozed. But nothing alters a plan quite like a gigantic dog staring at you from the sidewalk.

It happened that one of my husband’s favorite boyhood pets had been a Bernese. So on behalf of his childhood, and because the dog’s eyes said that it was lonely and perhaps a bit hungry, I reached down and gave it a scratch. That sealed the deal. It followed me to my car.

I buckled my baby into her car seat so that I could take a look at the dog’s tags. The Bernese seemed amiable to me holding its collar, but indicated it would be even more upbeat about things if I’d share the teething biscuits and cheese stick it had spotted in my diaper bag.

While it snacked, I read the tags. They included a registration I.D., but no address or phone number. I looked at the dog. I’d fed it everything in my diaper bag and there were still a good 30 minutes ’til the end of church. There was only one clear option. I opened the front passenger-side door: “Hop in!”

It was obviously well trained, but even a good Bernese could be startling to a 10-month-old baby if said dog suddenly bounded into the back seat. To keep that from happening, I followed it into the passenger seat so that I could continually hold its collar. This meant that I then had to climb over the Bernese to reach the driver’s seat. If you’ve not tried this yourself, let me be the first to tell you that a grown adult and a Bernese mountain dog do not easily co-occupy the front of a Honda Accord. Dog hair abounded.

Finally we were all in our own seats. I turned on NPR and rested my hand on the Bernese. I felt calm and relaxed. It is hard to worry when a big dog is smiling at you.

I did, however, wonder how on earth I was going to explain this situation to my husband and daughter when they came out of church. While our 3-year-old is not really scared of dogs, she also isn’t used to them, especially giant ones that appear in her car after Sunday school.

When church ended, my husband and daughter approached the car from the back. The dog had fallen asleep and was lying down so that from the outside of the car it was not visible. Our baby had also fallen asleep leaving me to announce the presence of the massive dog as quietly as possible.

I lowered my window a few inches and began to make wild motions with my hand attempting to point my husband to the dog. He waved back. I began hissing, “There’s a dog in the car.”

“I see that she’s asleep!!” My husband hissed back, assuming that I was gesturing about our baby. “No!” I threw myself into my whisper. “There. Is. A. Doooog. In. The. Caaaaar.”

“We’re being quiet!” he replied, beginning to sound a bit exasperated.

I gave up the whisper. “DO YOU SEE THE GIGANTIC DOG IN . . .” Everything happened at once. My husband opened the driver’s side rear door and my daughter absentmindedly began to climb in. The dog woke up and stuck its huge furry head into the back seat. Our 3-year-old jumped and screamed, our baby woke up, and my husband stood there staring.

“There’s a dog in the car?!?”

Once all the hair had settled, we drove home – just another happy family with two kids and a dog. Later that morning my husband was able to reach animal control and they, in turn, were able to identify the dog’s tag number. And so our dog ownership morning came to an end. But not before we first had some good family exercise romping with it in the living room, got some great fresh air standing around with it on our porch, and felt responsible, and therefore a little sad, when we had to say goodbye.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Adler and Austen Play Ball

Adler and Austen have become quite the pals. Austen has even started calling Adler "Ah," and Adler has started to regard Austen as someone else she can garner attention from and play with when she's bored.

Recent antics of these two include Adler play barking when Austen tries to run her over with his "walker;" playing tug of war with one of Adler's toys; and throwing the ball so Adler can get it. The two have become fast friends.

Adler is amazingly tolerant of Austen, which is one of the reasons we selected this breed. However, she doesn't care for Austen trying to pull her tail. Make sure you watch this video until the end for your own glimpse of tail pulling. Poor Addie!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Austen’s Party

Austen celebrated his first bday with a lot of family and a few good friends. Of course he had a fabulous nap before his party started which meant that the little guy was still sleeping when his guests arrived. We let him sleep a little longer (2 ½ hour nap!) and then got him ready to make his debut. He looked, oh so 1, in his red buttoned-down Polo and khaki cords. He enjoyed feasting on the Bella Notte buffet and sampling the fruit – namely watermelon. He enjoyed playing with the balloons and his cousins, and when it was time to eat his cake, he didn’t make quite the mess we all thought he would. He was very careful not to get any on his shirt! At any rate, he loved his special day (and Adler loved having all the guests over too)!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Happy 1st Birthday, Austen!

Today is Austen's first birthday. I can't believe how quickly the time has gone. I guess a lot of parents say that when they look at their kids. Anyway, just wanted to post a quick happy birthday to my little guy today and remind us all of what he looked like on the day of his birth - one year ago today....

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Adler Down 3.1 Pounds

We had to take Adler to the vet over the holidays (nothing major - just a third eyelid that we didn't know existed and a sore tail from either being pulled by kids or accidentally whacked too hard against the wall from excitement). Anyway, she's fine, everything's normal and we found out that she lost 3.1 pounds!! Must be those green beans!

Our vet was pleased as punch that she was showing progress in her weight loss. At 81.1 pounds now, we have a few pounds more to lose before our vet is totally pleased with where she's at and stops recommending underwater treadmill walking.

Of course, now is the time too that Austen is eating regular people food and Adler gets all the crumbs or Austen feeds her out of his high chair, so I'm just hoping her weight doesn't go up!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Austen's First Haircut

Austen was blessed with thin hair. Despite this it was growing rather unruly especially with that pesky cowlick in the front (my mom says that I have nine cowlicks - she had a hairdresser count them all when I was seven). So we decided to bring Austen in for a haircut.

We took him to Snippets - a place where they cater to cutting young children's hair - they have TVs, cars you can sit in while they snip away and lots of toys to keep the kids entertained. Austen did wonderfully for the first half and then as his hairdresser was cutting the back decided that he wasn't having so much fun anymore. Anyway, he made it through his first haircut and we have it on film. I won't post the video here because it's entirely too long so here's a snapshot of the day.

Next up, Adler. She's due for a haircut and blow dry soon!