Belle is settling into her new home very well. She’s a real sweetheart!

The house training is going pretty well, she’s got the routine down, we’ve just had a few accidents when she gets carried away playing and tries to go real quick so she doesn’t have to miss the fun. I’m working on grabbing her faster when she starts to wander off to a corner, better to go out too often than not enough.

The crate training is also moving forward, she spent the entire night in her crate last night, rather than sleeping with us part of the time like the night before. She still went out to potty every hour, but that’s to be expected at this stage. She’s spending her nap times and quiet times in the downstairs playpen (same size as the crate, with her night time bedding moved down to make it feel the same) – it’s hard to resist her cries when she’s so close to my desk, but it’s easier to watch her there, and this way she gets the rest she needs. Otherwise the kids were waking her up to play every few minutes. Now they know they have to leave her alone when she’s in her playpen.

Dakota is adjusting well to having another dog around. He’s still not sure what he’s supposed to do with her, but he’s very patient and careful around her. We’re showering him with extra love and treats – wouldn’t want him to feel neglected because of the new puppy. We gave him a new nylabone this evening, he’s in heaven. We’ll see his trainer tomorrow, see what she thinks about his response to the new pup.

This afternoon we went to the local pet store for supplies and took Belle with us. She was so good! She stayed on her blanket in the car all the way there and back, and at the store she rode in the cart like a pro (with her blanket for comfort of course). I’m so proud of her!

Anyone walking by the house would discover our new family chant “No Bite!” Puppy teeth are sharp! Belle is used to playing with her littermates, and hasn’t figured out how to play with people quite yet. She loves to chase and follow, and tug-of-war gets that little tail wagglin’ but, as usual for the breed, she mouths everything. Even little Alex has his little move down pat, he stands up, turns away from her and says “No Bite!” I’ve got nicks on my fingers, and poor Jer has been the target of toe stalking all day (the rest of us have socks on for protection). Our current strategy is to remove whatever body part is tempting, from reach, and replace it with a puppy toy. This works, but we’re not always quick enough. Hopefully she gets the idea eventually.

Something new I noticed just a few minutes ago, is a behavior I normally attribute to the cats. Belle will stare at a toy, one of the cats, or even one of us for a long time, then begin creeping towards it, belly low, head down, ears alert. Only when she thinks she’s close enough to pounce does she break into a run and launch herself at her target. It’s hilarious to watch! Of course she does the full out run with ears flopping and tail waving sometimes too, but this stalking seems to be her plan of choice when she’s really intersted in what she’s after. The behaviour doesn’t seem fear or uncertainty, rather like she’s trying to sneak up on her target so it doesn’t get away before she gets to it. I’m going to try and get her to do it tommorrow while the trainer is here, see if she’s seen anything like it in a pup this young. Maybe it’s normal and I’ve just never had a puppy who did it this frequently.

We’re all really enjoying our new family member, and while I am personally looking forward to her sleeping through the night sometime soon, I’m very glad to have her, and can’t wait for her to wake up from her late nap so I can cuddle her again.

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Twenty Wishes is another Blossom Street novel by Debbie Macomber. Anne Marie Roche owns the bookstore just down the street from “A Good Yarn” the knitting shop that was our first look at Blossom Street. Anne is a young widow who feels alone and empty, her dreams of true happiness and a child of her own seemingly shattered and impossible.

Rather than spend Valentine’s day alone and sad, Anne and several of her widowed friends get together and have a party of their own. The topic turns to hopes, dreams and wishes for the future, and the women decide to each make a list of 20 wishes. No shopping or to do lists, only wishes – wishes from the heart, things each woman secretly wants to do.

Each list has some some eyebrow raising entries, like buying cowboy boots – but they also reveal hopes long buried, and the pursuit of these wishes leads each woman towards happiness and fulfillment.

Anne’s list takes her down an unexpected path, leading to a life she never expected and a relationship she never thought possible.

I would recommend this book.

From Puppy

Belle is home! We picked her up this morning and she’s doing great.

Ok, at the moment she’s howling at me because I’m typing and not playing, but for now it’s really cute!

She’s had quite a busy morning; she rode in the car, chased the kids around the front yard, met the neighbor who saw us get her out of the car, had a nap in the playroom, had lunch, had a nap outside, had a bath and is now waiting for me to come back and play, since the kids are down for naps.

I’m still soaked from the bath, and I smell like puppy, but I’m happy! She’s adorable and very sweet, and the kids love her. It’s clear she’s a lab, she picks up and carries everything from her toys to her leash to Alex’s stuffed animals, it’s going to be fun to teach her how to fetch.

I noticed over the last couple of weeks that the breeder would play music to the puppies when she wasn’t doing something with them. I think I’ll continue that for crate time, during the day, for a while so it feels familiar.

Check out the gallery linked above for more pictures from today. I gotta go play!

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It looks like nesting, and it feels like nesting…but we’re not having a baby. At least, not a human one! We get to pick up our new puppy on Friday, and I can hardly wait!

I’ve been collecting pink puppy stuff for weeks now, everything from a pink collar with a little heart shaped ID tag, to pink toys and bedding. I haven’t bought any actual dog clothes yet, but it has been a close call several times. I think I’ve gone a little crazy.

I can’t help talking about Belle all the time, and I think I’ve driven the poor breeder to distraction with all of the visits since the puppies were born. If I didn’t feel bad about taking up her time, I’d be visiting daily.

I know my poor hubby thinks I’m losing it, he gave me the weirdest look today when I asked him to make copies of a house training schedule I found in a puppy magazine. He’s humoring me though, and was quite cooperative in setting up the crate and is even going to take a day off to help out with the settling in period. I guess he’s just glad this is a puppy and not a baby that’s got me so excited.

The kids are excited too. They know we only have two days to go, and they love looking at pictures of Belle, when we aren’t visiting her. Both boys have grown more confident around dogs in the past few months, as I’ve been including them in the re-training of Dakota, and taking them with me to visit Belle. Even little Alex, who is barely taller than Dakota is issuing firm commands like “off” and “no” rather than squealing and running away now. I really think that the experience of owning animals is going to be a positive influence on their lives.

Well, I better get back to puppy-proofing. I’ve got to relocate the cat food and check for stray legos at puppy eye level.

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Our local library has a great schedule of events setup for this summer, including a Summer Reading Challenge that begins this week. We stopped at the library this morning and signed up both boys for the challenge, and picked up another batch of library books. Each boy has a reading log with their name on it, and they are excited to get started.

Josh already says he wants to read more books than anyone. I think this is going to be a great incentive to get him reading on his own. He’s got a pretty good start, and loves the library, so I’m confident we’ll make progress.

The scheduled events sound really fun too. One week they’ll play outside with bubbles. Another week they’ll make buttons. I think this will be fun for both boys, and give us something close to home to do during the week.

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Gotta love that picture! I just love the way dogs seem to know when you just need a hug. There is something about soft fur and a panting tongue that can just bring back the sunshine.

From Dakota

For the past couple of weeks we’ve been fighting the battle of the side gate. “Koda” knows it opens and outside is the world of smells and friends and possible treats. I know the dangers of roads, cars and other dogs. Now, normally Dakota doesn’t dig. He’s been known to sniff around and occasionally paw around if a smell really got his interest, but no major excavating. But with that little bit of daylight showing under the side gate, he’s decided to tunnel.

We’ve tried lots of things. First we blocked the gate with the trash cans, since they are on the side of the house anyway. He dug around them. We’ve started taking him through the house, instead of out the gate whenever it’s time for a walk, so he doesn’t think of the gate as the exit. (perhaps too late on that decision) We blocked the sunlight at the bottom of the gate with wood. The hole under the gate just got bigger.

Finally we decided to take drastic action. We bought chicken wire and several bags of soil. We buried the wire, and stapled it into place against the fence with heavy duty staples. Dakota managed to find the one weak area and pull up a corner.

We added more dirt, several heavy paving stones, grass seed (ok that was more for the lawn’s benefit than to keep the dog in) and several large tins of black pepper.

Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner. After suffering for two days because I managed to clog my sinuses with the dratted pepper, we have had no further problems. The wire and stones are still in place, the grass is sprouting, and there has been no digging.

Perhaps the pepper would have worked on it’s own, but now we don’t have a hole under the gate, and our new pup will have less temptation to dig. (we hope)

Just in case…I’ve told hubby that HE gets to sprinkle the pepper next time.

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Yesterday we had a great day at the beach. It was overcast and cool, but not too cool. We went to a park along the beach that we hadn’t been to before, and we loved it!

It’s a nice short distance from home, only about a 10-15 minute drive. From the parking lot we climbed a set of stairs and found ourselves on a bridge overlooking the train tracks. Now that totally made Alex’s day. He loves trains. Down the other side was a great little beach. Nice and flat, with very calm waves (more like ripples really) it was perfect for shell and crab hunting.

We found one little red crab, but he’d already passed on. The kids foun him interesting though, and were able to examine him up close. A wide variety of shells and pretty rocks found their way into our bag (I was prepared with ziplocs).

The kids got wet, we all smelled like seaweed, and the event was a success! We can’t wait to go back.

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From Puppy

Meet Belle! Or, “Summer Sky Aurora’s Belle” to be exact.

Belle is a three week old chocolate lab puppy, and the most cuddly little thing ever! We just get to visit with her for now, but will be able to bring her home around the 4th of July.

Until today we have been visiting will all three female chocolate labs in the litter, about once a week, to get an idea of which pup would be ours. Today though, we were able to mark the one we chose with a little dab of nail polish on the back of the head, so the owner can keep track of who belongs to who! Our choice was the lightest brown pup. She’s a bit bigger than her sisters, but extremely cuddly. While the other two were wiggling and squirming and searching for mommy, she was happily asleep in my arms. All three are adorable and sweet, but we only get one, so the choice had to be made!

There is still time to be sure of our choice, as their personalities emerge over the next couple of weeks, but the breeder is pretty sure this one is going to be a good fit for us. Also, we have second pick of the chocolates, so if the first pick family changes their mind, we may have to re-pick, but I’m not worried.

When we visited today all the puppies had their eyes open, and have been allowed to leave the whelping box and venture out into their mother’s run. Already they are leaving the box to go potty, and going back in to eat and sleep – pretty good for barely walking!!

The mother, Roxy, is an absolute sweetheart. She loves to show off her pups, and carefully smells and licks each one as it is brought back to her. You can practically see her counting to make sure they are all there! If past litters and the temperament of the parents are a good indicator, our pup is going to be incredibly sweet, and easy to train.

The hardest part about visiting is leaving the puppy when we go. I want to bring her home so badly! It’s hard to wait. But I’ve been using the last couple of weeks to get everything ready. I’ve got all the supplies I’ll need to care for a new pup, and the boys have had time to get used to the idea, and get really excited. They ask me daily if it’s time to bring home our puppy yet.

Check out the album linked under the picture for more puppy shots! The pictures start with week old babies when we first went to visit, and continue with each visit since. Look how much they’ve grown already!

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