Leaving puppy Sadie Rose while on vacation

Back in October before we adopted our Cocker Spaniel puppy, Sadie Rose, I suggested we hold off on looking for a puppy. I knew that we had several trips planned, including two in June. I thought it would be best to wait and get a puppy AFTER all of our trips.

The puppy bug had everyone, and I was out voted.

IMG_1593So we adopted Sadie Rose. She has been a great dog and has fit nicely into the family. The kids love her. But what were we going to do when we went out of town?

Our first thought was to have her stay at my in-laws’ place. They have two dogs, and we thought she could easily stay with them.

When we asked, my in-laws said that one of their dogs is a digger. He sometimes digs under the fence. They were worried Sadie Rose would get out. Their property is large enough that it would be hard for them to check everywhere the other dog might dig. So my in-laws decided that they would drive to our house daily to check on Sadie Rose and our three cats.

P1030299Because Sadie Rose is still a puppy, we don’t let her have free reign of the house. We have a gate up to keep her in our kitchen and dinette area. And she has a dog door allowing her unlimited access to the backyard so daily visits would work.

Our first trip was a short weekend trip to Dallas to visit the Lego Discovery Center. My mother-in-law came over for an hour on each day we were gone to give Sadie some company. Sadie was eight months old at the time. She did great.

But that was only two days. The real test was coming. We would be gone for eight days at the beginning of June for our trip to Disney World.

On our first short trip, we left her a new bone to chew. This time we left her with a few new toys and a bigger bone to chew. We hoped this would keep her busy while we were gone. We also left on the radio to provide some sounds for her. (The radio is on most days so nothing new except it wouldn’t be turned off at night.)

During our trip, we received a few text updates that Sadie was doing fine as were the cats. This helped the kids – though honestly, we were in Disney World and they were often too busy to worry about the puppy. By the end of our trip, we were eager to get back and see her. She was so happy to see us.

I knew a few days after our return that it was probably now not even a memory that we were gone. She is just happy to have us home and to play her favorite game – laser tag. But we had one additional short trip – four days to the beach for my husband’s annual legal conference.

As before, she did great. Nothing was destroyed, and I know she loved the extra attention my in-laws lavished on her. But she couldn’t be happier than with us at home. And with no more trips planned this year we will just be home raising our puppy.

“Can we have a dog, mom, please?”

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Bella at 8 weeks

It was early in January almost three years ago when we decided to adopt a cute black puppy whom we named Bella. Our dog Mandy had died two years before – right after Christmas, and we had been talking about getting a puppy in the summer. Our neighbor rescues dogs and one of them had a litter of puppies and well, you know how hard it is to resist cute little puppies.

My daughter was two months shy of her second birthday when we adopted Bella, and several people said we were crazy for taking in a puppy and planning to tackle potty training all at the same time, but we didn’t listen to them. We had already fallen in love with Bella.

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Bella at 11 months old

Bella was a mutt. He mother was about 40 pounds, and we think she may have had some black lab in her. Bella was a good puppy, and the kids loved her. She did normal puppy things such as trying to chew on their toys, and of course, she got big very fast which meant that in her excitable puppy antics, it was easy to accidently knock down Lexi. Our three cats were certainly not thrilled with our new addition.

An allergy test in October would change everything. Lexi turned out to be severely allergic to both cats and dogs. It was a tough decision to get rid of all our beloved pets but a necessary one for Lexi’s health. (If you don’t believe me check out her photo on my post about getting rid of the pets.)

Now it has been two years since we found a new home for Bella. She went to a nice retired couple who could give her the amount of attention and exercise that she needed. It couldn’t be a better match. She left us two days after Christmas. It was hard on the kids, but they soon adjusted to life without pets and we saw an immediate improvement in Lexi with the animals gone.

But Bella is not forgotten.

“I want Bella back,” Lexi says. She repeats this every few weeks.

But Jase understands that she isn’t coming back. When we found her a new home, it was forever. But that doesn’t stop him from wanting another dog.

“We can take Lexi to the pet store and see if she is still allergic,” he suggested the other day as she petted a dog outside his school.

And while we have conquered a lot of her allergies using NAET, I am not sure adding a dog to the family is the right decision at this time. Lexi does fine petting dogs or visiting homes with dogs, but that is not the same thing as living with them. So for now, I will just have to get used to hearing the kids plead for a dog and hoping that one day we can have one again.

Allergic to Everything: Part One – Getting Rid of the Pets

Lexie was two and a half when we finally had her tested for allergies. We had been seeing the dermatologist for a year before he agreed that her eczema might be related to allergies. The allergist ordered a blood test to determine her allergies. I was eager to find out what she might be allergic to especially if it helped relieve her itching. There was no way I was prepared for the results; she was allergic to everything.

They tested thirty-seven items – ten environmental things such as dust, pet dander, grass and twenty-seven common food items. She scored a Level 2 classification or higher on all of them which indicated an allergy. And one of the highest allergies was to cats (Level 6) and dogs (Level 5). The first words out of the allergist’s mouth was get rid of the pets.

We had three cats and a dog at the time, and they were part of the family. One of the cats had been with us longer than Lexie. None of us wanted to see them go so we decided to try everything we could to keep them. We made her room a “safe” room. We cleaned it and kept the door closed and the cats out. And since dust (Level 6) was another high allergen, we bought dust mite protective stuff for her beds and installed an air filter in her room as well as the living room. We tried putting anti-dander solution on the pets and cleaning more often. We even replaced the carpet in our living room and on the stairs and put in laminate flooring to reduce her exposure to dust and pet dander.

We received her allergy test results in October.

Lexie in December 2010.

By December, Lexie was miserable. It was clear that the animals were still causing her problems. While my parents were willing to take the cats for a while to see if that helped, we had no one who would take in our black lab that had just turned one. Seven days before Christmas, my parents took the cats. I cried like crazy the day they left. But Lexie’s reaction to their absence was immediately noticeable. Every winter, Lexie’s nose always seemed to be running like she had one long continuous cold. The instant the cats were gone, her nose stopped running. She still itched around the dog who we were keeping in the kitchen, so we found her a new home. She left us the day after Christmas.

The house was extremely empty without our pets, but Lexie was doing a little better but not great. Clearly the pets were not the only problem. It was time to start eliminating food from her diet to see if we could uncover which foods were causing her the most problems. I will address eliminating food next week and the following week I will tell you how we were able to bring the cats back nine months later.