A Tribute to Rascal

The world needs all kinds of kinds and I am the kind who has never not had a pet.

This is long but I need some written therapy so hang with me.

I was born into a family that owned a wonderful dog- my parents’ first baby, Bruno. When I was 10 we took in a stray cat. When Bruno died, we still had the cat and a year or two later my brother and I brought home a puppy (much to my mother’s chagrin). Since then, we’ve had lizards, hamsters, a bird, fish, some rabbits, and more cats and dogs pass through our door. The month I graduated college- five months before we got married- Kyle and I took in Lylee. (A few years prior to that we’d found an elderly stray dog that we took in and was living with K and his family at that time.) Obviously now, in our own house, we have Ly and Enzo. My brother has a rescue cat. And my parents have a dog, three cats, and a rabbit.

I’m not kidding- I have never been without a pet.

But the worst part about owning a pet is losing a pet. And last week I was reminded of that.

Like I said, when I was 10 my mom brought home a stray kitten. We think she was roughly 6 weeks old. My mom was a first grade teacher in the country and this scrawny little thing wandered up to her exterior door. The teachers all decided they’d take turns trying to “take her home.” The kindergarten teacher’s husband refused to adopt another cat so it was my mom’s turn. She thought Dad would send the little furball right back. Instead, he cuddled with her all night and named her Rascal.

Rascal grew to be a 19 lbs indoor cat. She’s always been jet black and a little mean, lol. She and K have never gotten along, although I think he loves her deep down. She was my cat- my responsibility to feed, drive to the vet, change the litter, play with, clean up after. She slept between my legs under the covers almost every night and she’d run to the door to greet me when I was home from college. Since Ly hates cats and Rascal was older and more settled with my parents, she stayed in the family home when I eventually moved out.

Last Wednesday I had to say goodbye to my childhood best friend.

I’ve had a few pets leave this world naturally, but I’ve also had to make the call twice. It sucks. Both times we made the choice those animals let us know that it was ok and they were ready. Rascal gave me that on Tuesday night. It’s a quiet sigh or a simple nod of the head, telling you that they are at peace with leaving the world and, while they know you are not, you eventually will be and they’ve appreciated every moment of love and affection and shelter you’ve provided.

But it doesn’t make the sadness any easier.

This is not meant to sound elitist, but if you’ve never owned a pet you probably don’t understand most of what I’m saying. (But maybe you do! I don’t know.) When you’ve loved and cared for something for 5 or 10 or 15 or 18 years you form a bond and a language. And the hardest thing that your pet will ever tell you is, “It’s time.”

I won’t lie- my head and my heart and my eyes hurt so, so much from crying. I was laying in bed last Tuesday night wondering if I’d ever be happy again and why the f*ck we even own pets when this is inevitable?

But it’s because those 10 or 18 years of pure love and joy and family are worth the decline.

So in honor of Rascal, if you’re a pet parent, love them extra hard today and give them a few more treats than normal. The most unfair thing in the world is the lifespan of a pet, but I doubt my heart could stand to love them any longer and lose them.

*This is just a PSA and my own opinion, but if you have to make the tough call to say goodbye to a furry family member, please don’t send them in alone. Sit with them and hold them until the end. It sucks and it’s terrible, but they need your love and your lap more than ever in that moment.*

My Family

Before I begin I’d like to announce that my brain is complete mush. I have been so efficient and organized for the last few months (planning Easter, mom’s birthday, our NASCAR trip, sprucing up the house, etc.), and then on Thursday I opened my eyes at 7:58 am (don’t be mad at me, Kyle) and tripped over myself trying to get to work. I’m supposed to be there at 8am; thank goodness for 3 minute commutes. (I was 15 minutes late.) So I’m pretty much a mess. Also, this should be an April book review, but I didn’t finish that many so I’m saving it for May. Also also, sorry for all the shameless links back to other posts. #ImNotSorryThough

Ok. Moving on. Today I’m going to rant…

On Wednesday my husband and I celebrated 3 years as a married folk. The December before we got married we adopted Lylee and the December after we got married we brought home Enzo. There are four beating hearts in my happy little family.

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Honestly, I don’t get too worked up when people ask me when we’re having kids. Usually it’s friends & family members that are emotionally invested in our lives and genuinely care about us and our someday-growing family. It’s not a big deal. I think 95% of the time I just smile and say, “Not yet.” The question is usually innocent and worded just like I said: When are you guys going to have kids?

Here’s what we hate (Kyle gets SO angry)… Do not ask me when we’re going to “start a family.” Do not imply that I don’t have a family because I don’t have mini-humans running around my house. Do not lessen the love that I have for my husband and for my dogs by suggesting that we’re not a family without children. Someone- an acquaintance, not even a friend- once asked my husband this question and he looked them dead in the face and said, “We are a family. We’ve been a family for a while now.”

Even without the dogs, K and I are a family. (Although let’s be real, we’re never truly without the dogs. Haha.) I’m totally ok fielding the kid questions- but don’t challenge the legitimacy of my family.

And that’s the end of my rant. Maybe that was more like a PSA?

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Let’s Just Catch Up…

Between the holiday posts (I went a little nuts in October) and all the link-up posts I’ve been doing I think that I’ve failed to really share where I’m at in life with y’all. Also, I know that I’ve had a little more traffic here lately (yay!) so welcome, new friends! Let’s get to know one another just a little bit better.

Some bloggers do coffee dates and some do “currently” posts, but I think I’m just going to refer to this as our little catch-up sesh. First and foremost, I need to gush about the friendly, open, kind environment I’ve entered into with this blog & the blogging world. It probably sounds silly to people that don’t blog, but I really feel like I’ve met some incredibly inspiring people and creative souls just by putting figurative pen to paper here. I hope you guys find this space to be equally inviting and welcoming ❤️

Speaking of inviting spaces… I’m done with Facebook for a while. I don’t have a blog page on there so it doesn’t affect this space, but scrolling through my news feed definitely affects my emotions and temper and heart. So I’m going to be done with all the drama for now…
On a side note, if you’d like to connect via social media please, please check me out here:

(Sorry for the shameless plug… but now my IG is public so yay for that!)

Also! I got another “celebrity tweet”! (Dom, the winning fashion designer from Project: Runway Season 12!)

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Ok, how did you guys do this month with NaNoWriMo?? I know not everyone participated, but I’m always so amazed by those who pump out +50,000 words in a month! Woof!

I added a new page to my header recently: 30×30. It’s my to-do list before I turn the big 3-0. I have five years soooo…. hopefully I can cross something off between now and then. (Actually, I get to cross No. 29 off because tonight we’re going to a Cavs game!)

For the record… I don’t understand basketball. Neither does K really. This will be fun…

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So I’ve started listening to Christmas music… and I also have some decorations up.
Listen… next Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent so I think it’s justified- even Jesus starts the celebration in November. It’s fine…

I haven’t mentioned my dogs once in this little catch-up post… But now I have 🙂 For my birthday last month my thoughtful baby brother & his fiancee got us a 3 month BarkBox subscription. PERFECT GIFT ALERT. Let be real… had they given me money or food I’d have just given it to the fluff babes anyway.

Speaking of my baby wittle younger brother… he’s tying the knot in July next year. (I gushed about his engagement here.) This was the kid that I forced to play “house” with me and who sat through hundreds of fake-school lessons. Now he’s going to be playing house for realzzz soon… I’m not crying, my eyes are just sweating.

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(but I actually probably would…)

But honestly, I’m so excited for this wedding and all the pre-wedding festivities! I’m just so thankful for my family!

And that brings us to the end. Have a good Thanksgiving week, friends. I will see you Wednesday for a few #hashtags!

Thank you, blogging community, for being so kind and fun and welcoming. I’m so grateful to be a blogger ❤️

-Louise

A Grateful Heart with Ember Grey

We Are Crazy- and Grateful

The other night I was lying in bed and realized that I am 110% crazy. Dog crazy. I’m the crazy dog lady (married to a crazy dog man). When I had this realization I was comfortably drifting off to sleep with Enzo, our 35lbs. collie/whippet mix, curled up between my knees. Lylee, our 65lbs. husky/boxer mix was behind me, lying between K and I with her paws draped across my back. He had his arm wrapped around her back. Essentially it was a triple-spoon situation. Weird, right? That’s when I decided we’re totally bonkers.

On top of that, last Friday my dogs and I were invited to a doggie birthday party for our good friend, Ernie the miniature dachshund. Lylee stayed home, but Enzo and I went and had a marvelous time! We celebrated his first birthday with hats, gifts, and human and puppies cakes. Ernie’s mom, Kayla, said that he passed out from happy exhaustion as soon as we left.

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Yesterday I met my other best friend and her pup, Bones, at a local elementary school and we had a puppy playdate at the fenced-in playground. Obviously the company I keep know what’s important in life, too: four paws and a wet nose.

It used to bother me that people mocked me for gushing about my dogs or pointed out the yellow dog hair on my pants. Honestly, though, I don’t care 🙂 My dogs are amazing, intelligent little souls. They love they harbor for K and me is immeasurable. As much as I love them, I know they love us more because we are literally their entire world. We don’t deserve that love, but it doesn’t stop them.

How crazy is that? I have to ability to fill their tummies, make them happy, keep them safe, discipline them, etc. Their entire lifestyle depends on us… so why wouldn’t I obsess over them? Their happiness and health is my responsibility.

We don’t have children- and I know that kids bring a whole new set of emotions, responsibilities, and hurdles- but right now our dog have the basic needs of humans, children, etc. They want to be fed and loved. They need to be healthy and exercised. They seek comfort when they’re scared or injured. They have favorite snacks, actives, and ways to be loved.

I know that I am on the extreme end of this dog-mom spectrum. Our babies sleep with us, ride in the car, get Christmas gifts, and have playdates. (At the same time, because of this strong bond, 98% of the time I know what my dogs want, need, and prefer.) I can tell you what my dogs will do before they do it. No everyone is that invested; I get it.

BUT… if you are a dog owner or you are considering getting (adopting) a pup, you owe them more than food, water, and shelter. (That’s all the State of Ohio requires. That’s a load of cow poo.) Some dogs have the intelligence and emotional capacity of a 2 year old child. You don’t need a kid to know how smart and emotional a 2 year old can be. On top of food and shelter you owe your 4-legged friend love, attention, proactive healthcare, exercise, and loyalty.

Can you tell I’m a little passionate about this? I’ll wrap it up, but not without a video I saw last week:

My heart is so grateful for the love my dogs give me- I can only attempt to return that love to them.

Do you have a dog? What’s your favorite thing to do with your dog? Have you considered adding a dog to your family?

-Louise

Grateful Heart w/ Ember Grey

For the Love of Dogs

Yesterday I got to talk with a sorority sister about her new dog and dogs in general. Dogs (particularly mine) are my favorite thing to discuss. Since I enjoy the topic and I’m a self-proclaimed expert, I figured why not dedicate a post to my favorite domesticated creature.

[ Note: I am not an expert. I am not a doctor or a breeder. I have had dogs all my life and draw my “facts” from the experiences I’ve had with them. ]

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Dog food companies are out to make a buck and you’re better off doing your research, talking to your vet, and monitoring your dog. Our dogs don’t have a scientifically formula-ed, organic, all natural diet. We feed our dogs a grocery-store dog chow and the vet is 100% ok with it. Lylee has a sensitive tummy and Enzo is a picky eater, but they both love their food.

If you’re trying to cut costs or looking for a healthy alternative, skip the dog treat aisle and instead go for some baby carrots, bananas, green beans, and broccoli. All these things are great for dogs and most have little to no calories. Plus, a $15 bag of Beggin’ Strips doesn’t even last as long as a $2 bag of miniature carrots. Broccoli is known to reduce the risk of certain cancers in dogs by 60%. Sign me up!

Speaking of risk reduction, did you know that with every heat cycle your dog goes through her risk of cancer increases? Get your pets spayed/neutered! If you’re worried about money there are a ton of organizations and shelters/humane societies that will help with costs. Please, please, please protect your dog!

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“I’m neutered and still cute as a button!”

It sounds a little heartless, but if you have a puppy crate-training is your best friend. Both of our fur-kids sleep with us, but they started with crate training. There are plenty of how-tos and tips on the internet so I won’t go into that, but when your dogs thinks of his crate as his bedroom it will help you with feeding, house-breaking, and even bed time. Never ever ever use the crate for punishment- it should be associate with good things (treats, personal space, comfort, etc.). Our dogs aren’t allowed in the other one’s “bedroom.”

All dogs are different so it’s really important to be able to read your dog. I have been bit multiple times because I couldn’t take a hint. (I was very young and unsupervised.) Like people, dogs get irritated and fussy, so it’s important to understand their body language.

In my opinion, mutts are the best! Obviously this isn’t a fact since all dogs are great, but I like to think that mutts take the best qualities from their ancestor’s breeds and combined them to form the perfect dog. It has been proven that mixed breeds tend to have less medical issues.

Letting your dog choose you is really important. I have had 6 main dogs in my life. Three of those dogs were strays or spontaneous decisions, but the other three were dogs that we actively sought out and contemplated adopting. With each of those dogs we knew it was imperative to “click” with the dog. (You wouldn’t invite someone to live in your house if you didn’t get along with them, would you?)

My parents adopted our first family dog (Bruno) from the pound and decided on him when he was the only puppy to ignore the food bowl and come trotting over to Mom for snuggles. We also knew Enzo was the one when he wouldn’t stop climbing all over Kyle. I love the feeling of “finding the one.”

"Thanks for loving me, Mom. Even though I ate the entire garden last year."
“Thanks for loving me, Mom. Even though I ate the entire garden last year.”

I’ll wrap it up for now, but look for dog related posts in the future. I hope some of these stories/experiences/tips were a little helpful! Did I miss anything?

Do you have a dog? What’s his/her/their name(s)? Have you picked up any pet parenting tips along the way?

-Louise

** I’m a big advocate of rescuing dogs and not going through breeders and ESPECIALLY not buying from a pet store or puppy mill. You can also find purebreds in shelters/pounds/rescues- as always, DO YOUR RESEARCH!