Thursday, August 27, 2020

I haven't forgotten

 I'm here! I'm here! I haven't forgotten that I own a blog! (ok, I sorta forgot for two years, but in my defense, I've been busy). I'm regretting letting all the time lapse, so there's not gonna be much of a recap. I'll probably do a 2019 photo dump and we already know that 2020 has pretty much been all shit, we're good there, yeah? 

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

If Only

This one is a hard one for me to write. I've spent the last two days either balled up on the couch or trying to go about my daily business, but still having random bouts of bursting into tears, so pretty much all my interactions have been people asking me if I'm sick or upset about something and me trying to get it out and ending up with my face all scrunched up and sputtering that I just can't talk about it right now.  Probably no one is surprised to find out: it's about a dog.  But not just any dog, My Caraway. And really, this is just for me, but if it helps you to understand, that's ok too.

Caraway came into our rescue program when she was just barely ten days old, with no mama, her eyes barely opened. So I spent the better part of May and June bottlefeeding her and her sister Caper. It was a 24/7 thing--I took them everywhere with me, even work.  I was making goats milk based formula for weeks, so they both smelled overwhelmingly like goat cheese and realistically, probably so did I.  I didn't care. My coworkers probably did, but I didn't. It was just something I had to do.

When you wake up every 2-3 hours every night bottlefeeding and snuggling orphan puppies, it's damn near impossible to not become attached and I did. I knew fairly early on that I was maybe getting a little TOO attached.  It was hard not to, these girls were special.  It wasn't just that they were beyond ridiculously cute, it was that their personalities  were just so damned funny.  They had spunk and they were SMART. They might have looked like little airheaded balls of fluff, but they had "it." --Just something really special in their little noggins. They were lovely and playful and had this overwhelming need to be dirty and covered in muck at all times. I can't tell you how many hours I spent bathing them or picking little grass burs out of their fur, only for them to be set down, run right out the door and go roll in it some more. I stopped filling up the re-filling waterbowl because that was "the Puppy Pool" and Cara would go swimming in it every single night, flooding the kitchen.

They ran in a little pack, half the time running smack into each other and knocking each other off balance.  They'd run as fast as they could around the house and the yard (figuring out the doggie door way early) and half the time I wasn't sure where they were until I listened for the sound of the mini-wookie growl and I could tell they were just outside mauling some grass.  As much as they liked to roll in mud and rip up plants, they were so good in the house that I never bothered to put up the puppy pen like I normally do to keep our computer cords and shoes safe.  Once they tired themselves out from knocking each other into oblivion, they'd simply slip under my desk and fall asleep draped on top of one another. They slept in my bed and even as early as 7 weeks old, they'd just sleep all night and only wake me up when they really needed to go. I'll admit it, I fell hard.

I knew fairly early on that I couldn't let these girls go to just anyone--I needed for them to go to people I knew, who would let me visit or send me pictures or...something.  Truth be told, I wanted to adopt Caraway, even though it didn't make any sense for me to do so. I already have 4 dogs of my own. I don't adopt my foster puppies, that's why I get all the puppies--other people find it too hard to give up their puppy fosters, but not me. I've had over 7 litters born at my house, not to mention fostering over 350 dogs and puppies over the past 17 years. I don't cave. But this time, I WANTED to cave, pretty badly. So much so that I drug my feet about looking for a home for her-- Her sister, that was easier--she was everyone's favorite--the one that everyone agreed didn't even look like a real dog she was that cute. But Caraway was always the one for me. And so I took my time.  I had time.

This weekend was rough from the start--Caper left for her sleepover on Saturday and her leaving, even though I knew it was going to happen, hit me harder than I thought it would. And Cara missed her sissie, so I held her close that whole night, her snuggled in my arms so soundly I woke up with a crick in my back because I hadn't wanted to move her. And then on Sunday, when we were going to go to a pool party with some Rescue friends, I knew I would take her so she wouldn't be lonely.

The rest is hard to type out, and if you're Facebook friends with me, you already know the story.. of how she romped and played at this pool party.  She had discovered this tennis ball that was almost bigger than her head that she could barely put her mouth around and carried it everywhere. She swam in the pool. She delighted in wriggling up to all the other dogs there, who were equally delighted with her. She was passed around and snuggled and loved on and generally had the best puppy day you could imagine.  And then, in a matter of 30 seconds or less, it all turned to shit.

She had been playing with this Golden Retriever who was there.. PLAYING.. And we were all watching them-- this was a party of rescue people. ALL of us had multiple dogs, years of dog experience. These two had been around each other for over two hours at this point with no cause for concern.   I say this so you understand that she was not unsupervised. We weren't being careless. There was literally someone less than 5 feet away.. when the Golden suddenly stopped playing with Cara and just snapped her up in her mouth and shook her violently.. I think in crocodile terms, they call it "the death shake"-- not to be all dramatic, but you've seen it before. You've seen dogs pick up a stuffed toy and just shake it from side to side. That's what this dog did, like she thought Cara was a toy.  We were all watching and IMMEDIATELY, the person nearest grabbed the Golden and made her drop Cara. 

The rest of this part is awful:  There was a lot of panic and yelling.. Cara was screaming this sound I had never heard come out of her before and thrashing and the first two people who tried to help her got bitten pretty badly. She headbutted one of them in her thrashing and knocked two of the person's teeth loose.  She was in fight survival mode and anyone who touched her, she lashed out. And then she was passed to me and I bear hugged her and wrapped her in a towel and she quieted.   We checked her for any obvious signs of bleeding and didn't see any. We probed her tum and she didn't yelp. We thought maybe she was ok. But then, very obviously, she wasn't "ok." She just.. stopped being OK.  She wasn't responding to me and I knew she was probably starting to go into shock and so we booked it to the ER. Probably less than 25 minutes after the shaking occurred, I was sitting with her in the ER waiting room. They got her in pretty immediately and confirmed what I knew--that she was in shock.  The young vet that came and spoke to me told me that they wanted to put her on IV fluids and pain meds and keep her overnight. They'd check her for internal bleeding, but they didn't find any looking at that first ultrasound. They let me go in the back to say goodbye to her and I went and held her for a bit. I kissed her little fluff head and apologized for having to leave her there overnight and let her know I'd be back for her in the morning, first thing. I stroked her little body and told her I loved her. She didn't seem to know I was there, I assumed because the pain meds they were giving her had taken effect. I don't know why I did it, but I snapped a photo of her in her warming bed at the ER.  It was the last time I saw her.

The rest of the night is a blur of phone calls back and forth from the ER.. she wasn't responding to fluids.. the ultrasound was now showing signs of obvious internal bleeding.. they wanted to do a blood transfusion to buy some time.. and then, finally, call around 1am from the ER vet who choked out that "Your little girl, she didn't make it, she tried really hard, but she just couldn't do it."  And I sat there, stunned. And I whispered an answer to their question about what to do with her little body. Then I hung up the phone and wailed. And I didn't stop, haven't stopped really. Even if I'm not crying on the outside, I feel like screaming on the inside, all of the time.

It's just.. heartbreak. There's not been a minute I haven't thought of her. Every time I walk into a room and there's not shredded toilet paper, I miss her. When I go to leave the house and I don't have to give her a chewie, I miss her. When I wake up and she's not gnawing on my duvet, I miss her. When I go to fill the water bowl and I realize I can actually fill it up without her swimming in it, I miss her.

There's a tremendous amount of guilt I'm trying to work my way through. She was so young, only 3 1/2 months old. If Only I had tried to find her a home with somebody sooner (other than me), she wouldn't have been there at that party and she wouldn't have been hurt. If Only I hadn't felt the need to take her to that party and show off how cute she was, she would be alive. If Only I had been holding her, instead of letting her run all over, she would never have gotten close to that dog. If Only.  I know, in my brain, none of that is true. I know, in my brain, there wasn't anything any of us could have done. I know, I do. But my heart still hurts.

Truth is, it was just a tragic accident. But. My baby girl is gone and I can't really wrap my head around it. I'm telling you all this because it's hard for me to communicate right now--so much anger and guilt and no one to direct it towards but myself.

I just. Miss her.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

A Boy and his Dog: year nine

I usually take pictures of Hopper and Mr. Bean together right around Hopper's birthday because it was right around then that in my fugue state of being 9mths pregnant, I decided adopting a puppy was a good idea. Thus is my annual reminder to remind you to never, ever allow 9mths pregnant women around orphan puppies.  But, like everything else this year, I am far behind and we just got in our annual Hopper/Bean photos this morning, impromptu-like. They still like each other, nine years later. 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Oh, the agony






Monday, March 05, 2018

9 things I really like about you

Today, Hopper Augustus Hovland is nine years old.  On Valentine's Day, his teacher had us parents write a "love letter" to our kids telling them at least five things we love about them, and that was super easy for me because I have about 5 million.  I will attempt to narrow them down to nine in honor of his birthday.

Dear Hopper the Show Stopper,  here are just a FEW of the many things I really really like about you..

1. Every morning, after you take off the PJs and before you get dressed, you insist on doing the "No Pants Dance." I can't fully describe the No Pants Dance and I'm not sure you'd ever speak to me again if I videotaped it, but trust me, it is phenomenal.

2. You are a good brother. You and Rowan try to knock each other's block off pretty much every fifteen minutes or so, but no one else is allowed to try that stuff and you have been known to physically tackle anyone who tries, as multiple calls from the principal's office can attest

3. You are so kind to your younger cousins, and just to younger kids in general. You never pull the "big kid" card. You'll hand over the ball, you'll push the swing. You'll hold their hand if the water looks like it's getting deep. You give them hugs.  You are someone they can look up to and it makes me so proud.

4. You cry unabashedly at things that touch your heart. Even if that something is a horrifically bad Adam Sandler movie. Your cousin Luna made you a handmade birthday card that said I *heart* Hopper and you got a little teary.

5. Sometimes, I get a little testy at you in the mornings and we yell or snap at each other in the car on the way to school, but usually, after about 5 minutes, we're both sorry and you always reach your hand out to me, so I can awkwardly hold it, backwards, from the front seat. You'll squeeze my hand and say, "I love you, mom" and forgive me for those previous 5 minutes. You probably don't even know how much that little squeeze means to me and you do it anyway.

6. You remain convinced that whatever you're good at in Wii Sports, you can probably replicate in real life. Despite our outings concerning bowling, golf, baseball and the fact that you've never actually played tennis, you're pretty sure you could make it to Wimbledon if you just wanted to.

7. You will ride absolutely ANY ride at any amusement park ever, with zero fear which is something I cannot do. And not only will you ride the ride, you'll scream with laughter, which I sometimes hear when I'm not screaming from fear.

8. Your eyebrows remain on point.

9. You are not just a Hopper, you are Hopper Augustus, which means Hopper the GREAT and whenever anyone asks you what your middle name is, you will tell them that with an emphasis on "the GREAT." And it is so, very, very true.

When you were born, my heart did this weird thing where it expanded a million fold and it didn't even hurt, because with every day, every hour, every minute you exist, you fill it right up, my beautiful, amazing boy.

Happy Birthday. 

Monday, February 05, 2018

Life at 3 weeks

The puppies are three weeks old tomorrow. I would say that it doesn't seem like it's been that long, but it seems somehow both THAT long and not very long at all. I'm a little frustrated because my wonderful, adorable mama has decided to opt out of nursing three weeks in. I've tried to reason with her and tell her that her CONTRACT specifically outlines that she needs to give me at least FIVE weeks of mama milk, but no dice. I started noticing her losing interest last week after I weighed them and they didn't fatten up as much as I wanted them to during week two.  Now, granted, they are honkers. But still, they didn't do the fatten up. So, I started paying attention to how often she goes in there and nurses and how long she was staying... and I don't know if she's thinking she's needing to fit into her pre-pregnancy skinny jeans or not, but she is NOT holding up her end of the bargain. But then, when you see her and them in relation.. it's hard not to be sympathetic..

And another thing, I'm not sure if I mentioned, but we have ANOTHER mama and babies in our rescue right now. They were born nine days before mine were. There was a brief moment in time when it looked like I might have both litters at my house, but an angel stepped in and offered to foster the other mom (or, more accurately, we begged her) and I did not end up having to do this in double time. That other litter has SEVEN babies and they are so ridiculously adorable it would make your teeth ache. And that mom?  She's like a MILK MAKING MACHINE.  Do you see how tranquil she is?  The lack of a look of utter panic in her eyes? 

So. Yeah. That's not what we have over here. 

I started out by supplementing them with Leerburg formula starting late last week and it was going well, they liked it. They reeeeeeaaaallly liked it. So much so that they were slurping it down so hard I thought they were going to swallow the little sponge I use to diffuse the formula (to avoid milk bubbles).  So, someone suggested I see if maybe they might be ready for bowls? I sort of had my doubts because they're really not even three weeks old. I was afraid they'd turn around and yell at me, "WHERE'S MAH BOOB?"

But far from that, they've really taken to it drinking their formula. Ok. Well, perhaps more accurately, WEARING their formula and slurping it off each other's paws, but it's going well!  This is a video of their first bowl feeding. I call it, "My Super Advanced Genius Babies"

Just multiply this by 5-6 times a day.. and there you have it. Life at 3 weeks. We go through a lot of baby wipes is what I'm saying. 

Saturday, January 20, 2018


This one is seven today.  Yesterday, he came up to me and said, "You know, I really like having a birthday, but the downside is: every year you have one, you're a little bit closer to death."  I was drinking my coffee at the time and it made me choke.

 Then I laughed and laughed. I mean, he's not wrong, amirite?   Trust me, I'm not too worried that this kid isn't thinking about death all the time. He's more concerned with stuffies, Roblox and how he can talk me out of making him go to tae kwon do (not a fan). 

We spent the day having a birthday party with classmates at one of those trampoline places that smell like feet and fear. No one broke any bones, so I consider it a success. I took a lot of photos of him jumping and I'm not sure I got his head in any of them.  But what you should take away from this photo is that he's grown a minimum of 3-4 inches in the last year. I thought that stuff was supposed to slow down, but it has not.   

My sisters are in town and they helped me make cupcakes and a cake for Rowan that I will go out on a limb and guess were PROBABLY edible, though I never really know because the whole cake thing is just for show because Rowan doesn't really like cake. or pie. or cookies that are not oreos, really. T

his is a kid who went to a tex-mex restaurant last night and, despite a full menu, opted to eat like, 5 plain tortillas.. And nothing else. We are the reason why children's probiotics have taken off in recent years. 

Seven. MAN. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Vanilla Ice Jokes Just Write Themselves

I had plans for Sugarplum, my pregnant foster to give birth over the extended MLK weekend. My plan WAS:  she could give birth on like, Saturday, or Sunday even and I would be able to be there with her and then have an extra day of watching over her and the pups on Monday while we were home from work/school. However, Sunday came and went and then Monday came and went and I was like: well. shit.  BUT then, Austin Icepocalypse was scheduled to happen on Tuesday and we joked  A-HA! What better time for the dog to give birth than when we're all homebound and unable to travel to the emergency vet if need be?  So of course she had them on Tuesday morning at 4:30a.m. 

Well, specifically, she went into labor more like at 3:15 or so. At least, that's when I woke up out of a dead sleep because her breathing was so loud and I discovered that she had completely destroyed the dog bed that was in her crate. I mean, I never went into labor myself (both of my kids were planned c-sections), so I can't really say this for sure, but I imagine when things start getting cooking and the nesting is unsatisfactory, a little dogbed shredding is in order.

At any rate, I woke up with her at 3:15 and we went into the tiny little bathroom that is off of my bedroom (i.e. "the puppy room") and we settled in.  I knew it was happening, she knew it was happening. We weren't panicked.  But still, I gotta say, it's hard watching and not doing anything. You kind of just want to rub their backend with a bunch of vaseline and hope they all shoot out like tennis balls from one of those automatic launchers. Spoiler: that never happens.

So, we sat in the room, she and I for about an hour and 15 minutes staring at each other. Her breathing was hard but she wasn't seeming in pain or anything. I only mention this because, well, I caught the first bit on video. I want you to know that if she was struggling or I thought she was in any danger at all, I would have put the phone down. As it was, the first video, nothing happens til halfway through and then it's like a "Blink and You Miss It Moment"--there's well.. a little squirt. You'll see it at :18.  And that was it. That's the beginning.

This next video is taken about a minute after the first. After that little "squirt" well.. I don' t mean to embarrass her here, but she pooped a little. Understandable. I went and tried to clean it up  but she was like,  DUDE, I DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR THIS. So I sat back down and started filming again. At first I thought she was just licking herself still, but then I realized when she moved her head back that the pup had actually come out.  So, what you see is her actually having that first pup. It is not dramatic and it is not a close-up. She said that is not in her contract.  Also, you may want to watch with the sound off because I got all teary-- we had been sitting there for a while, I was worried--we had xrays and the one closest to the "exit" had looked super big, so I was nervous about difficulty, and I'll be honest, birthings always get to me. It doesn't matter how many I've seen, it's just amazing to watch. Anyway, what you see is the first pup, still in her sac and Mama getting to work cleaning her up.  (Warning: I will tell you that I do not think this is gross. YOU might think it is, though. There is a bit of poo there to the side, but other than that: no blood, no "fluids"--just a Miracle of Nature at work.)

She had this first baby at 4:28am and the last one was born at 6:06am. Four gorgeous, beautiful pups. I'll never get over the privilege of getting to see this happen in real life.

Thursday, January 11, 2018


It's been a while since I posted some of the funny things my kids said when they were little, but rest assured, as the years pass, their language skills keep developing, but they're still Hovlands.  With that in mind, some of the recents:

Hop: Mom, I just want you to know that you and dad are the best parents I have ever had.

Ro (sending me off to exercise class):  Bye Mom! I hope you come back looking like John Cena only prettier!

Me: Hey Hop, you got straight A's the second time in a row!
Hop: Really??  ... Is that good?

Ro: (staring at the pregnant dog's butt):   Aw Man, the puppy door is still closed.

Hop: you know what? knowing your right from your left is important in tae kwon do, but I know my rights, Mom. Like I have the right to Free Speech.

Ro: Man, I have the pig feets.   (see below).

Seriously, I don't understand how the feet get so dirty when he's wearing both shoes..and socks? Like, this is what happens when he takes off his shoes and socks when he gets home from school. How does this even happen?  Does he take his shoes off at recess and bury his feet in mud?  Who knows. The "R" is for tae kwon do purposes. So far, it hasn't helped. 

Monday, January 08, 2018


First week of January is already history and this just goes to show you how unable I am to keep even the simplest of New Year's Resolutions (to blog once a week).  This is why I don't do resolutions, I am incapable of maintaining even a bare minimum of expectation that I'll stick to it, I just don't even start!  But here I am, starting. 

Thing is, I already know 2018 is going to be a year of many changes. Already this year, my boss has left our company, I've gotten a new couch, fostering a new pregnant dog.. I mean, I know right? How can you bear it not knowing about the couch?  (it's big, it's fluffy, it's brown). 

The boys are starting martial arts today.  Hopper wanted to do "street fighting,"  Rowan wanted to do "parkour" so we thought we'd get a running start with tae kwon do at the Y.  We don't expect to continue down the Y road, but a baseline establishing that they do in fact know their right from their left and are able to withstand 30 minutes of instruction is something I thought was necessary before finding those "street fighting" tutors I hear are so popular. Ro also starts basketball this week, which I sincerely hope he doesn't confuse with parkour because seriously, that happens more often than you might think.  Like yesterday, I thought we were going furniture shopping, but I was wrong. We were going to the place where you can hurtle yourself from couch to chair and flip off the sides into a collection of coffee tables--"parkour for Hovland kids," if you will. I swear I think I bought that couch so the salesman would stop having a heart attack.

At any rate, here's my new pregnant foster. Her name is Sugarplum and she's due sometime this week, we think.