Sunday, January 30, 2011


Today's Sunday sermon was about the importance of "home." The overwhelming human need to feel one belongs, is universal. "Before we can find that feeling of being home, outside of ourselves," my minister said "we must first find that acceptance of the good, and worth, within ourselves." This lesson is particularly important today, as gay and lesbian teen suicide rates are four times heterosexual rates. I was especially proud when my minister said as much, too.

Finding acceptance within ourselves is difficult enough in our teen years. But trying to do that while others may be simultaneously sending exclusionary messages  seems damn near impossible. And we all remember junior high school. Exclusionary voices can be loud. Very very loud.

It was only several months ago I left CA- where I'd spent nearly my entire life- and with it, all of my friends (my wonderful wonderful friends!), my family, my grandparents, my cousins, my job, and all things that remind me of what "home" is. And after 36 years there, I think a part of me will always consider CA home.

Will I feel at home in NC? Will I be excluded? Will I find more friends? were just some of my anxieties, as Chris and I made the move.

And there are some days I feel more at home than others. But I am also so happy to report that overall, NC does feel like home for me. Whether it's Chris, our new home together, our journey to get here, the NC culture, the forests and lakes, or a deeper acceptance of something (flawed but acceptable) I value within myself, I am "home."

And (wait for it...) Dallas definitely makes "home" just a little bit sweeter.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Am I walking Dallas or is she walking me?

So our routine has been to get up at 6am each day and go for an immediate walk - this way both of us are up and running and ready to take on the day. And each day, I have taken her on a different route within the neighborhood. The odd thing is, for the first half of the walk, Dallas is very shy and will walk behind me. For the second half of the walk, no matter where we are, Dallas gets this sense we are starting to make the turn for home and will immediately jump into the lead - to the point that she is pulling me down the street. And when the house comes into sight, look out world - she is ready for a full sprint home. The great thing is, now she is used to immediately going into the back yard after the walk to "take care of business" and then can't wait to get inside. Finally, she has now learned that at that point, I am going to take a shower and she is going to get to sleep more next to Robin - with Robin comfortably in bed and Dallas on the floor next to her. Nice way to know my girls are taken care of as I am off to work!!!!! And looking forward to my walk with Dallas later that night.....

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Steps

Upon arrival, Dallas seemed very wary of all of the staircases in our house...and she is pretty small... so we've been carrying her up and down them. On Sunday, our neighbor's black lab puppy "Mac" came over to play. (BTW- Mac looks amazingly JUST LIKE DALLAS. I do realize that black lab puppies all look alike, but this is eerie.)

Anyway, during the excitement of Mac's visit, little Dallas ran all the way up and then back down the all 12 steps  leading to the deck, on her own... unasked... which is when I looked at Chris and called him a sucker.

Dallas has been able to manage the stairs ever since. And we continue to learn she is capable of much more than she ever really lets on.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


As you may have guessed, we chose the little black lab puppy in Chris' arms in the last photo! We named her "Dallas" after the first city we lived in together, after we married.

I knew she was a perfect fit when I picked her up and she melted in my arms, sinking her head into my neck and relaxing when I held her upside down, like a baby- all four paws in the air. I think Chris fell in love with her playful side, as she was involved in a non-stop tug-o-war struggle with her brother over a rubber chicken chew toy for the entire 45 minutes we spent with her.

We prepared for her arrival with a major shopping spree at the local PetSmart: healthy dog food, leash, chew toys, dog bed, dried liver treats, shampoo, baby gate, pink diamond-studded collar (Chris actually winced), and more.

We also slept for three nights with an extra blanket in our bed, and next to our skin. This would be her dog blanket, but we wanted her to be able to smell us when she went to bed. Also, her foster mom gave us some of her old food, so we could slowly transition her to our new healthier food without upsetting her stomach. I hid all of the electrical cords in the house, and anything else she might try to chew, and set up the baby gate to create a little crate for her in the hallway until she's house-trained.

On the day I picked her up at the park, her foster mom was running late, so I waited about 15 extra minutes in the cold... nervous. Will she like us? Will we do right by her? Will we be a family? Can we protect her? Does my hair look ok? I actually thought that- Does my hair look ok? 

Her foster mom finally arrived and I took her in my arms. At last! Finally! She's mine! A dream come true! My new little bundle of joy stared up at me with those adorable big brown eyes.

And immediately threw up.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

And the Search Begins!


This is how the shelter shopping began.

Robin's Ideal Puppy Characteristics: Loves to snuggle, will not only tolerate but enjoy incessant grooming/ holding/ babying by Robin. Also smart and enjoys training.

Chris' Ideal Puppy Characteristics: Playful, socially excitable, and not a big barker. So, not completely opposite Robin's list..... but close.

Here are some of our prospects...

(Below) This little guy was at the Humane Society of Charlotte- turns out he had a long list of potential adoptors-  lucky man! The HS Charlotte and all of the rescue organizations provided truly wonderful experiences, except for the Cabarrus Humane Society, which seemed in dire need of resources. Chris & I agreed sadly that we just didn't have the heart to return there, an agonizing decision, since those were likely the puppies which needed us most.

(Below): This litter of five included some cuddly Labs and some Newfoundland pups! Gorgeous! For more info you can find out about them or support similar rescue efforts at their resale store- Faithful Friends Animal Rescue in Hickory, NC.

(Below): Tori has got to be one of the happiest and most playful puppies we've ever seen! We fell in love with her gorgeous colors and we're told she's quite the snuggler, too! You can find more info on Tori & others like her at Ironstone Lane Rescue in Troutman, NC.

(Below): This little Lab puppy was with her brother- and both were also cuddlers at 3.5 months. More like them can be found by emailing

Special thanks for for being an INVALUABLE resource during our search!

Stay tuned to see just who we'll end up with...

Well, that is not exactly how the story goes......

So, in reality, I wanted a puppy since the moment I moved to 1995.......long before Robin was ever a twinkle in my eye. But due to my job and career with Accenture, that was never going be a possibility - but I did enjoy taking care of Wayne and Missy Busch's dog and going running with Clay Reale's dog. But I was never to have one of my own. Then, I moved to Texas and thought I would acheive work/life balance and specifically bought a house with a fenced in back yard so I could get a dog. And I even went to a few PetSmart shops with dogs for adoption and was getting close to doing it, and then ended up traveling to Los Angeles every week for the next 4 years.....hence making it very difficult to get a dog. But, Robin was very clear that we would be getting a dog after we got it was just a matter of time. And putting in a fence in our back yard within 2 weeks of buying the house was a good sign that the long held hope of getting a dog would be realized. And sure enough, after Christmas, we started looking around for dogs.....though there was much discussion if it was to be a grown dog (Robin's suggestion) or a puppy (Chris' desire) on to see how it turns out!!!!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

How it All Began

"Dog or no dog" was NEVER the question. 

Even when we were dating, I told my husband-to-be that a dog was a non-negotiable. I think that was Date #3. Putting it all out there, right up front. I didn't want to waste his time or mine, if he couldn't see a dog in his future.

What I didn't count on, was that four years later, it wasn't a dog, so much as a PUPPY that he had his heart set on. I worked at the San Diego Zoo for eight years, trained dolphins in Hawaii, and took care of orphaned chimpanzees in Kenya. So I thought for sure I could sweet talk him into a nice little two-year-old dog. After all, he had no idea...

A project manager at heart, my husband speaks in bullet points, so I created a list, in his language, that went something like this:

1. House training implementation on a timeline of his/her own.
2. Scopecreep in chew marks.
3. Constant need for exercise exhaustion, despite stakeholder energy levels.
4. House training. Again.

 No luck. He was not to be deterred by a little poo. THAT was how it all began.

Or maybe it isn't... Maybe it REALLY all began when Chris and I began working together at a bank in 2006. One week after I was laid off (and he wasn't), we began dating. 

Two and a half years later, we married. After returning from our honeymoon, we spent the next few months moving me from CA to TX to NC with him. We sold one house and bought another. We got everything settled and bought some new furniture. We built a fence around the backyard.

And THAT'S where we are now. In NC- with the Southern "ma'ams" and "sirs," the glorious green kudzu that takes over, the Bo Jangles galore, the amazing colorful leaves in the fall, and the houses that sell for a pittance of what they'd cost in Los Angeles. This is where we are now. And I'm loving it. 

Now we just have to find our dog. Or... puppy, that is. THAT is how it all began.