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Bringing Home Puppy: Dog Allergic

#allergictodogs #dogallergies #puppy #newpuppy #fate

This is probably the blog post most people want to read about: how an allergy-prone family has a fluffy puppy living in their home. Honestly, it’s still mindboggling to me. With over six weeks under our belt, I can finally write about our experience.

In Bringing Home Puppy: Nesting, I talked about my kids’ severe dog allergies, and how we were taking a possibly heartbreaking chance attempting to adopt a “hypoallergenic” puppy. If one of the children had reacted poorly to the pup, that was it, our one shot at having a dog in the home was gone.

We left the first morning of spring break to make the six-hour drive to Tennessee. We’d arranged to meet the breeder halfway at 10:30 a.m. I packed for our trip the night before, then took an hour nap on the couch before leaving. By 4:15 a.m. the van was loaded with excited kids. Thankfully, hubby drove most of the trip so I could catch a few Zzzzzs here and there. I was both excited and worried.

It was an easy drive until we hit rain. We decided to meet the breeder at a rest area with covered picnic areas. We arrived first, donned in rain coats. The wait was excruciating, so the girls and I paced the fence flanking a nearby farm. CowIMG_20180402_103734563s came to moo and check us out while the rain pelted down. I watched every vehicle that turned off the expressway. Finally, a car pulls up and a lady pops out leading a beautiful white pup. She heads right for us, saying she figured we were the ones hanging out with the cows.



Full NAID. Gorgeous girl!

We met the first pup as planned, the full NAID (Native American Indian Dog). We spent some time with her; the kids walking and petting and playing with the pup. The adults watching for allergic reactions. My eyes kept wandering back to Tonto, walking in the grass with one of the breeder’s family members. From watching videos and studying pictures of him, I felt certain Tonto was fated to be our dog. His quiet, calm way and soulful eyes reminded me of someone I’d lost not too long ago. MY POPPY

The rain picked up and we moved under the protected area. The kids washed their hands and arms, then we met Tonto (“White Collar” at the time). He was sweet and seemed cautious, but comfortable. Soon, he started to loosen and move his tail. We petted him as he brushed past our bare legs. We waited. And then, my son showed me a couple of small, raised hives on his wrist. My daughter, the one who started our puppy search way back in the fall, admitted that her palms felt itchy. At this point we weren’t sure which dog they’d reacted to. The cool, pollen-damp air didn’t help either; all of our noses were dripping. We had gotten so close to owning a puppy, only to be confronted with the heartbreak I’d feared so much. ☹

The kids washed up again. Knowing that only the white pup had licked them, we continued on with our Tonto visit—having the kids hold the pup close and bury their faces into his coat. We talked over our options and waited and talked some more. The breeder agreed to meet us later in the week if things didn’t work out. Emotionally, I knew that returning the pup would be a lot harder than walking away in that moment, but I had this feeling that us adopting Tonto was meant to be. We had to try.

So, we signed the sales contract and said our goodbyes to the breeder. By one o’clock, we were heading down the highway toward the clear skies of Virginia. Tonto curled himself between my two girls and napped. It took us a little over six hours to get back home. The entire time, I heard not one cough or sniffle or sneeze.

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The next couple of days were busy with puppy care, but I was watchful for any allergic reactions. My son did get a couple of small hives on his wrist after being licked, which resolved with soap and water. I kept in touch with the breeder because someone was interested in giving Tonto a home if we couldn’t. It was only fair to the pup that I take him back immediately if I knew things weren’t going to work out. Fortunately, that never happened. 😊

For a puppy, Tonto is very affable and calm. Not much of a licker or biter. And no shedding—only a few “Tonto dust bunnies” here and there. He lives in the house, sleeps on the couches, rolls around and plays with the kids. Other than the initial contact hive episodes (which could have been related to what the pup had ingested recently. we have food allergies, too), our allergies are the same as always. Pollen season was probably not the smartest time to trial bringing a pup into the home though. But honestly, I see no difference. No drainage from noses/eyes, sneezing, or asthma. Skin issues/eczema are the same. And, no, they have not outgrown their dog allergies; both kids still react to other dogs. I can’t explain it, but my children are tolerating this puppy beautifully.

We took our time researching. This breed may not be the answer for other allergic families, but for us, I’m so thankful we took the chance. I’m a very careful allergy mom, so this was a HUGE leap of faith. Beyond huge actually! And to prove that he fits in perfectly, Tonto was recently diagnosed with pollen allergies (eyes).


Bringing Home Puppy: First Six Weeks

#newpuppy #puppymamaistired #puppy #love #writingaboutit

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It’s been six weeks since we brought our new pup home. Tonto is four months old! I can’t believe how much he’s transformed since PICKUP DAY. The days and weeks have rolled through in a blur. The piled-up laundry is mostly under control, so I’m at a good place to reflect on the new-puppy journey thus far.

I lost a lot.

Sleep mostly. Yes, I’ve lost lots of sleep. Navigating through the trenches of both crate and POTTY TRAINING contributed to my lack of Zzzzs. Puppies are like small children: no matter what time they go to bed or how many times they’ve been up during the night, they will awaken at the same time each morning.

I lost my bed. In the beginning, the first couple of nights, I actually slept on couch cushions pushed next to the crate. I sang to Tonto when the midnight moon peeked through the living room curtain, and again at one and two a.m. Gradually, in nights that passed like shift work, I moved to the couch. A couple of weeks later, to the next room. By the end of the month, after pulling out the baby monitor from storage, I even slept in my own bed. That would prove to be short lived though. Future post: CRATE CONFINEMNT

Writing time? Me time? Let’s not even go there. 😦


I’ve also lost tangible things. Why? Maybe my mind is mucky and worn-out. I don’t know really. It’s so unlike me. Most notably, I lost my favorite lip gloss, a cheap pair of sunglasses, and something else that I really can’t remember.

I lost my breakfast at least twice. From dropping, not the unsettling gastro way. The last time was after a long night spent calming the pup. I’d managed to make the youngest child a decent breakfast the next morning, rushing to get her to school on time. While trying to lock the backdoor, hold the leash, and carry my stuff—including a perfectly made avocado toast that I’d only managed one bite from, I lost it. The toast hit the ground greenside down. Tears sprung to my eyes as I quickly scooped the mess up into a poop bag, knowing that avocados are not allowed for pooches.

That was probably one of the lowest moments of the first month. Sleep deprivation can make anyone feel lost. Forgetful. There were a couple more tear-worthy moments. MOMENTS. But, the hours and days and weeks of what I have gained make all the bad moments so worth it.


I’m exercising more (even lost a few pounds). Family time has increased beautifully, revolving around the puppy. We’ve met a lot of new dog and human friends, forcing this introverted, more-of-a-cat-person momma out of her shell.

I’ve gained and lost focus. Other than checking email on my phone sporadically, I did not open my inbox on the lab top for FOUR weeks! I missed several school volunteer and/or donation requests. When several big boxes from Amazon arrived on my front porch, I realized I’d forgotten to skip the monthly “Subscribe and Save” orders. On the flip side, I’m re-learning how prioritizes when time is short or the puppy is sleeping. I actually made a decent Costco run in forty-five minutes flat, including checkout, while my daughter was nearby at an hour-long, rock-climbing class.

The pup has definitely given me a refresher in patience, too. I can only imagine the combined hours I’ve spent walking around the yard in damp socks saying, “potty.” TEETHING pain and the FIRST EMERGENCY VET VISIT have both been enlightening. We’re still in the throes of the former and just recovering from the latter.

But the doggedness has paid off. I see glimpses of the rewards yet to come. Perspective is what I’ve gained the most for all I’ve lost. I have a little fur buddy now. A fluffy tag along. And when he looks right into my soul with those deep brown eyes, I know that I am found.




Bringing Home Puppy: Naming


IMG_20180402_131939563#puppy #namingpuppy

It’s hard not to name something that you love. Like I said in the last blog post Bringing Home Puppy: Nesting, just from watching videos and looking at pictures of our pup, my girls and I had already falling for the fluff bucket. So a week or two before meeting him, the entire family started suggesting names. And lots of them! My goal was to have the list down to five names before meeting the first time. That didn’t happen.

Here’s the longlist:

Augustus “Auggie”

Second Longlist:


Having been shortlisted and longlisted in my writing, I can appreciate the beauty of the short list. I think the family and I did a good job in culling the selection.


We met the puppy! Our puppy. FUTURE BLOG POST COMING! Without further ado, the pup’s name is:


Bringing Home Puppy: Nesting


The little guy we’re meeting!

Nesting. Some may not know that term. My ninth grader didn’t, so I explained what it meant to “nest.” To prepare for the arrival of a new little one. The washing of tiny onesies and stocking up on wipes. Some to-be moms clean as well. I was always more into the shopping and preparing of things though. This time is no different.

But there is no baby joining our family. No. Those days have long past for this momma of four (knock on wood). We are bringing home a new puppy soon! The crate has arrived. The snacks and food have been researched and secured. Leash, check. Bowls. Blankets. And my youngest has found her calling in picking out dog toys. Hence the need for a nondestructive toy bin ASAP.

We are an allergy-prone family, so this new addition is HUGE for our family. Between us, there’s asthma, eczema, food allergies, latex issues, and a plethora of environmental allergies. Enough to keep us buying Nasacort and Allegra year around. Two of my children are allergic to dogs. Most every dog. This has been an issue of sadness, not only for the allergic ones but the non-dog allergic as well.

My oldest daughter started researching “hypoallergenic” dog breeds many months ago. I tried not to encourage her, knowing that allergens are found in more than just the fur. In time I became cautiously hopeful, yet still doubtful, watching her search from the sidelines. Eventually, I was doing my own searching and asking of questions. From Goldendoodles to standard poodles to schnauzers, we considered them all. Greyhounds even. None seemed like a perfect fit though.

Then my daughter suggested a breed that I’d never heard of: Native American Indian Dog (NAID). I googled for pictures and was very suspicious. The dogs were/are beautiful, stately even. Compared to the breeds found on most “hypoallergenic” dog lists, there appeared to be a mistake. The NAIDs—and off-shoot varieties like the Native American Shepherd (NAS)—have a dense coat that is either short or long-haired, supposedly shedding only once a year. The discovery seemed too good to be true.

Evidently the NAID is a newer breed, a kind of designer mix to resemble what native dogs of America looked like long ago. Online there seems to be some contention about what those long-ago dogs did or didn’t look like. But I wasn’t too worried about all that. We just wanted a dog that would work within our family. Something we could love that was fluffy and cuddly, but tolerable allergy wise.
Some NAIDs have a wolf-like appearance, but they have the same wolf lineage as any regular dog. Alas, some breeders of wolf hybrids, or wolf dogs, are possibly using the NAID name/resemblance to more easily sell hybrid pups in states where wolf dogs are illegal. Always check out a potential breeder extensionally.

By mid-February, I’d started reaching out to breeders and people who actually owned NAIDS. The testimonials regarding allergies were all the same. Something magical started to happen: the impossible seemed possible. Maybe. At least it seemed worth the risk of trying: heartbreak and disappointed kids.

Unfortunately, the likelihood of finding a NAID in need of a home at a shelter is probably next to zero. There aren’t many breeders of NAIDS in the US. After more research, I settled on a NAID breeder about eleven hours away. I liked that she didn’t plaster a hypoallergenic guarantee on her website. Being an allergy mom for so long teaches you that there are no guarantees. What works for us may not work for other dog-allergic families and vice versa. Our breeder was just as cautious. We exchanged many emails, texts, and lengthy phone calls. I felt confident my family was on the right path. Having allergies in her own family, the breeder understood our dilemma and was willing to work with us in our pursuit of puppy ownership.

There’s a chance our puppy won’t be coming home with us. If one of the kids react to the dog, it’s all over. The dream shattered. We all know this. It’s THE thing we all know but keep hidden just behind hope. I want the hypoallergenic claims to be true, but we shall see. I’m an optimist, but still, wishful thinking cannot change everything.

While waiting for the big day to arrive, we’ve watched our puppy grow quickly through photographs and videos. I believe it’s possible to grieve something or someone you’ve never held. Love is a tricky thing. So even though nesting is underway and travel plans have been made, we might come home with empty arms. Pickup day will either be one of our family’s best days ever or one of the most disappointing. I keep this fear folded away and focus on researching the complexities of new puppy decisions. Collar or harness? Shot schedules. Rawhide or nylon for chewing?
Stay tuned! Updates to follow.


A Good Mother Would’ve . . .

It’s February again, and Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. I’m sure the holiday is welcomed by romantics, but not so much by this clutter-minded momma of four. Especially not this year: It’s my youngest child’s last year in elementary school. My baby girl is growing up. There’s to be no more class parties where sticky-cupcake fingers exchange obliged valentines. Bittersweet. I’m trying to maintain a semblance of parenting perspective.

Two years ago, when my daughter was a third grader, she taught me a lesson in planning ahead—being prepared. I was in the kitchen, hurriedly slopping together a late dinner when she said, “Momma, don’t forget I have to take in a decorated box with my valentines tomorrow.”

“Valentines?” I rummaged through a stack of school papers on the counter: Father-Daughter Dance invite, spiritwear order, the soon-to-be-late soccer physical, donation requests, and an urgent plea for Box Tops. Near the bottom, I found it. I glanced over at the calendar. Darn it. She was right. But in my mind, Valentine’s Day was still floating faraway in next week somewhere. A good mother would’ve remembered.

I turned down the stove, then rummaged through the recycling bins until I found a shoebox. I plopped the box on the table and reminded my daughter where she could find the construction paper, glue, and tape. I returned to cooking while she assembled her shoebox—unaided, other than help with the scissors. She patched her box in various shades of blue and created a kitten of sorts on the top; its mouth cut open to receive the cards. It was simply beautiful, completed all on her own. But still, we had no Valentine’s Day cards. It was very cold outside, and I’d just spent two hours at the grocery store not four hours earlier. So we ate our dinner and went to bed. A good mother would’ve run to the store for valentines or stayed up late making homemade hearts.

The next morning, after I got the high-schooler fed and out the door, it was time to wake the middle-schooler. My first daughter. Some mornings she’s delightful and thoughtful, but some days, like this day, she was totally unreasonable. From wanting to wear shorts in eighteen-degree weather to the food she was not going to eat, everything was a battle. By the time her carpool ride pulled up, I was emotionally drained and still wearing pajamas. That’s when my third grader ambled down the stairs, rubbing sleep from her eyes. I remembered then! Hastily, I got us ready and out the door. No time for breakfast. A good mother would’ve made the time.

At the nearest store, the boxed valentines were nearly picked clean. It’s no longer acceptable to give out just valentine cards; kids expect candy now, too. We continued looking, hoping. Most of the remaining valentine-candy combo kits had the dreaded warning: “May contain peanuts or tree-nuts.” Finally, I spied a lovely box of “Tootsie Pop Valentines.” The ingredients read safe! I smiled down at the promising, colorful images that plastered the packaging: butterflies threaded with sucker sticks. Simple, but cute. We checked out and left hurriedly—and hungry. I’d forgotten to buy a package of string cheese and mini muffins like I’d planned. A good mother wouldn’t have let serendipitous luck derail her plans.

We stopped at McD’s to eat and label the valentines. We walked carefully in the parking lot, avoiding icy patches, only to realize at the door that I’d forgotten the class list and permanent marker in the car. After navigating the ice again, finally, we settled into a booth near the cashier counter. I left my daughter at the table to start assembling the cards and suckers while I ordered. After paying, I looked over and saw her making funny faces—arms waving wildly. And then startling words reached over the short distance that separated us, “There’s no cards! Only candy!”

I slid the tray of food onto our table, and then studied the sucker box. Near one of the endearing butterfly images, in the tiniest of print it read: “Use your own cut outs with the enclosed pops.” I had nothing but a box of regular suckers. I turned one over in my hand, hoping for a writable place on the wrapper, but nothing. Time was ticking loudly in my head now. I looked at my disappointed daughter’s face and wondered if skipping school would be an acceptable option. Damn it. “Okay, look. This is what we have—suckers and a Sharpie—and we’re gonna have to make it work. Write the names on the white sticks of each sucker.” She printed the miniature names as instructed, while I marked each completed child off the list. Our food sat on the tray getting cold.

Fifteen minutes later, I was driving us to school, sipping my cold coffee at the lights. My daughter finished her breakfast sandwich. Time still seemed doable—maybe we’d only be slightly late. But then, I turned the corner and saw the surprising line of minivans and SUVs. I pulled to the side of the road. “Let’s walk,” I said. We jogged instead. A good mother would’ve anticipated the loads of box-carrying kids not riding the bus.

I got my third grader to the school door just before the bell rang. She flashed me a sweet goodbye smile. I watched until she disappeared into the long hallway, then turned and headed back to my car. While walking through the parking lot, I noticed some things: shouting mothers pulling their kids along, late kids popping out of minivans, and several little red faces streaked with tears. Many carried elaborately decorated valentine boxes that were just too perfect, too precise. Too pink. My child went to school happy with her self-made blue box, filled with unadorned suckers. Even though I’d goofed in preparing for Valentine’s Day, it got done. And maybe my daughter learned a few things too: improvisation, making do, and just how to go with the flow. Cluttered mind or not, a good Mother did well.


This year’s box.


Culture Shock, flash fiction by Jane Boch (MY SWEET WORD Series)

I love this piece by Jane Boch so much that I need to re-blog it right now! This is a fantastic piece of flash fiction! Thanks for sharing it, Silver Birch Press. 🙂

Silver Birch Press

japanese pastry

Culture Shock
by Jane Boch

Carla no longer trusted chocolate. Her bite into the filled pastry contorted her face with sourness and disappointment.

“Bean paste,” Evan said, laughing.

Carla forced a swallow. “You knew?” she accused.

Carla would be in Japan for three weeks. She hoped this trip would propel her into an engagement with Evan, a U.S. Naval Officer, or prompt them to end the long-distance relationship. She couldn’t imagine marrying a man whose career demanded replacing chocolate with the gooey pastiness of mung beans.

A walk in Evan’s hilltop neighborhood led Carla to an overlook of the bay. Turning from the water view, she glimpsed a sign picturing a loaf of bread. Inside the shop, the fragrance of freshly baked goods, arranged on racks lining the walls, reminded her of the bakery in her hometown. She asked, “Sweet?” while pointing at a croissant topped with sugar.

The baker…

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What a great micro-read to start the week with…



By David Bussell


When the waiter poured the man’s wine and offered a casual ‘Say when,’ the man did no such thing.

Instead he watched, steadfast as the wine filled the glass, until eventually it found the rim and overflowed onto the tablecloth. The waiter cocked an eyebrow as if to say ‘Play fair, sir, say when,’ but the man remained staunch as the wine cascaded off the sides of the table, soaking the carpet and pooling at their feet.

Soon the wine collected around their ankles, then their shins, and still the man said nothing. Sweat beaded the waiter’s brow as the wine flooded to the edges of the restaurant and began pressing at the windowpanes. Say when, the waiter’s eyes screamed. For God’s sake say when! The bottle faltered in his hand but still the man said nothing, so still the wine flowed.

There was a…

View original post 111 more words