Monday, November 27, 2017

Welcome Home Gus

Our hearts were hurting. There was no way around it. The house just seemed so empty without our Gold Dog Brodi around. The boys were sad. Justin and I were sad. Stoli was beyond sad and honestly, lost. We knew we were a two dog family, we just didn't know how much time was the right amount of time before thinking about getting another dog. We knew we would NEVER replace Brodi, it just wouldn't happen, he was to good of a dog but our hearts had this emptiness that was just looking to be filled. Justin and I started watching rescue sites---MO Pitbull Rescue, Great Plains SPCA, KC Pet Project, Pawsitive Tails---for a little pup that stole our heart. We weren't sure how long it would take, we just knew that we wanted to give a little pup a FURever home instead of working with a breeder. We also were hoping to find one with a little pitbull mixed in as we have a soft spot for their breed---after all, Stoli is pure American Staffordshire Terrier & we got her as a pup and she just turned 13 last month. Periodically Justin would send me a link to a new pup or I would show him a new pup but nothing was really jumping out at us, we didn't want to force it so we kept looking. Thinking maybe we would wait until spring & almost as soon as I said that, he sent me a link...

His name - Wrinkles.

Justin has always talked about getting a blue pitbull puppy when the timing was right--I mean, like ever since we got Stoli over 13 years ago. It should have come as no surprise that when I clicked on the link I would see a blue pitty and it really didn't, me falling head over heals in love with him---that was the real kicker. We talked about what it might look like to bring him into our home but for weeks it really was just that, talks and hypotheticals, nothing more. We had family coming into town & he'd probably be adopted before we could even get a chance to put an application in for him. Justin checked on whether or not his was still available daily. I won't lie, I kind of did too. & the excitement of a new puppy was building but just didn't want to get my hopes up, although hard not to.

We went home to my mom and dad's for a quick Thanksgiving visit & talked about getting another dog with them. Both of us pretty certain that we would wait & as we drove home I decided to take just one more peek at his cute, wrinkly face. This is where everything changed--his foster mom had just posted new pictures of him and his eyes were just asking for a chance. A chance to be part of someone's family. A chance to be loved.

And that is what we did. We gave him a chance by filling out the application. We didn't know if our application would be accepted. We didn't know if he was still available, after all it was Sunday afternoon and maybe their site wasn't updated just yet. There were a lot of unknowns but we wouldn't know without trying, so we tried. 

A few hours later we both received a text from his foster mom asking if we had time for a quick chat either later that evening or Monday evening. And if you ask me, we were shoe-ins, the application was MADE for us. I mean, we do have 13 years with this breed & she wasn't our only doggy. Plus, we raised her alongside our kiddos. We have a large backyard, live in a city with no BSL. On paper we hit all the boxes but our wildcard, our 13 year old Stoli. She's kind of set in her ways and honestly, we weren't sure how she would do. Then again, we wouldn't know without trying.

After a brief chat with his foster mom we decided to meet up with her and Wrinkles, who she had renamed Ford, on Monday for a little meet and greet. If that went well then we would do a home visit to introduce him and Stoli. Justin and I both had butterflies. We explained the process to the kids & how even if we loved him, it had to be a good fit for him too. By Monday afternoon our plans changed, his foster mom suggested a combo meeting. She would come to us, we could meet Ford & if all went well then we would introduce him and Stoli right then and there. 

We all fell instantly in love with him. I had two little boys who were desperate for a new puppy & a husband who wanted it even more. Our hopes were at an all time high. We all were praying that Stoli would welcome him into our home too & it was now or never. She sat by the backdoor pretty relaxed, she saw what was going on but never did she once bark or stand to show dominance. We put Ford in Justin's arm and we let Stoli in the house. She sniffed a little and then walked away. This was exactly what we were hoping for--she didn't seem to threatened. And not once did her tail or hair stand up. Once we all felt comfortable we placed them both on leashes and they sniffed again and then broke apart. Stoli eventually lost interest in him and made her way to her usual spot on the couch where she pretty much stayed the rest of the evening observing what was going on.

My watch vibrated. It was a text. From Justin. 

Can he stay?

So I just went for it and asked what our next steps were. His foster mom said it was up to us, if we wanted to think about it for a few days we could or he could be ours right then and there. She not only had the adoption paperwork and his food but also the medication he was on in her car. She had done her due diligence on us--checked out our social media accounts and called our vet. We didn't need time to think about anything, he was ours. FURever. 

Since we didn't anticipate it moving so quickly we literally had nothing. No kennel. No puppy toys. No collar. So I did want any new dog mom would do, I hightailed it over to PetsMart and loaded up on all things puppy. My timing couldn't have been better because they were having a massive online sale (CyberMonday) on kennels & they said that they would price match anything online. I mentioned we had just adopted a puppy and they gave me a free bag of food and a booklet of coupons. I also managed to snag a little bow-tie for him--after all, he's a pretty dapper dude. 

& by the end of the evening he had found his spot. Right on top of Stoli---his foster mom mentioned that he liked to sit on top of her other two dogs & she wouldn't be surprised if he weaseled his way onto her too. Never in a million years did I think Stoli would be this open to a new puppy in our home. She was everything that evening, it's like she knew what this meant to us, to Ford and really to her too.

Now that he was ours, we still had one thing to figure out--what do we call him? I liked Ford, his foster mom gave it to him, it seemed to fit his personality but the boys weren't sold. Hearing Logan say Ford was probably one of the cutest things I've ever heard but they had a few other suggestions. Our top choices ended up being:


So we turned it over to our family and friends to weigh in. Which really only complicated things more because there was really no one true winner. In the end, I was outvoted. The men in the house wanted Gus and although it may not have been my top choice (I liked Mobi to rhyme with Stoli and Brodi), Gus was a good fit. Plus, Justin and I met at Pitt State and he's a "pit"bull. Gus is PittStates mascot there and a gorilla with a wrinkly face--and just the other day I was following a car with the license plate that read GUS. It probably fits his personality a little more than Mobi would have...

I didn't realize just how sad our family had been since the passing of Brodi until Gus came into our lives that evening. The past few weeks we had loved on Stoli more than she probably liked but something was still missing. Brodi had this unique ability to just make everything seem okay. He knew exactly when you needed a little extra lovin and was right there to provide it. He would do silly things, even in his old age, that would just make you laugh. And although Brodi will always have a special place in our hearts, a place that no one dog will ever be able to fill, Gus has helped the healing begin. He's brought a much needed joy into our home. He's brought more love too.

He loves his gator--he doesn't want to go anywhere without it. He loves the boys and follows them most everywhere. He loves to cuddle--which is a plus for me. He loves to play fetch and has this adorable leap that he does too. He loves to pick things up with his mouth---I mean, he's still a pup so we lots to work on and we will get there.

His first few months of this life may not have been the best but thanks to the Missouri Pitbull Rescue and his foster mommy, his life from here on out will be filled with nothing but love. And gators. Because in the end, Gus just needed a family to take a chance on him and to love him. We just happened to be a family that had lots of extra love to give and was ready to take a chance.

Adopt. Don't Shop. 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Hartley Family

It had been 7 years and 3 babies since our last Hartley family picture---that was professionally done. We had even scheduled them multiple times over the last few years but something always came up but we weren't letting it happen this time. We were due and we were getting them done.

I reached out to a high school buddy of mine from back home to see if he would be willing to capture our family. He had recently started his own photography business and I thought it might be nice to have a familiar face behind the camera for my family--we were from a small town and everyone knows everyone. Still. Thankfully, Andy said yes and agreed to meet us on his wife's birthday (she's a gem) on the Saturday after Thanksgiving for a few minutes to capture our family.

Thanks Andy, these images mean so much to all of us.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A Few Thanksgiving Adventures

Since framily would be in town for about a week over the Thanksgiving holiday Justin and I decided to take the week of Thanksgiving off and plan a few things for the kids once they were finished up with school on Tuesday. One of the adventures was our idea, the other not so much but we went with it and in the end, we were glad we did. So we will start there, since it was the first of the two. 

A trip to Allen Field House. Yes, this Mizzou loving family was headed to Allen Field House for a KU men's basketball game. Shocker, I know. What we do for framily though--after all they both graduated from KU and wanted to take their littles to a game & the Souths love a good basketball game & there is no denying that KU has one of the best teams in basketball year after year. 

They boys were both super excited, Kaden had just started practices for his 2nd grade team, coached by yours truly and Logan was only weeks away from his first practice. Both boys love sports, they'll watch it all with us but this is the first year that they have really sat and watched basketball at home with us so it came to no surprise that Kaden was glued to the entire game--even if it was a blowout. 

We also ran into Grammy right inside the doors at Allen Field House.

We were up towards the top of the seats but there really wasn't a bad seat in the house--and honestly, it allowed the boys to see everything that was going on. You have no idea how happy it makes me knowing my boys LOVE basketball, I think I would have died a little inside if they didn't.

And although it took framily coming into town to get us to a game at Allen Field House, I don't think it will be our last game we see there. After all, Lawrence is only 20 minutes from our house & Allen Field House does have one hell of a college basketball atmosphere. 


Before we could head out for our next adventure we would need to fix our Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie and I had the best helper to do just that. Logan was very persistent on helping me make the pie & really besides dumping the pie filling into the pie pan and preparing the crust, he did most everything on his own. It was a gorgeous pie.

He may have been so persistent because he knew the pie was the only thing between him and a whole lot of fun with some friends at the GWL. 

That's right, we were headed to spend Thanksgiving Eve at the Great Wolf Lodge. We each packed a little bag and I made arrangements with a few of our friends to go with us and the rest was water history. Speaking of history, gone are the days were I need to ride with Kaden on the slides. He and Jax were both tall enough to go down on their own. I may have cried a few tears knowing that it's just one more thing that he no longer needed me for. Time needs to slow the hell down. 

They played and they played and they played. We finally had them take a break about 5ish and that's when I ran their friends home in time for them to have dinner. I returned to the framily having pizza in the hotel room & watching a Christmas movie--the boys have this huge love for ordering food in a hotel room, it's pretty cute. 

Shortly after they ate we headed down to the lobby for story time and although he may be big enough not to need me on the water slides, he still wasn't big enough to listen to the story with his wolf ears.

We ended the night with a little wand Magiquest scavenger hunt through the hallways of GWL. & if only I could have captured the picture of Logan and his wand, seriously, priceless. It would have made the picture reel for Logan at his future wedding. Instead I got this picture of the boys, still pretty priceless. We're pretty lucky with these two.

& since it was now Thanksgiving, we had to hightail it home to help dad prep for an evening of family and friends. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Our Sweet Brodi

Having a dog will bless you with the happiest of days of your life, and one of the worst days. 

I read this & instantly put it into my phone. I knew the day would come where we would have to say our goodbyes to our fur babies. I just wasn't prepared for it to happen this quickly and so suddenly. 

So Veterans Day will become a day where we remember those who have served, are serving and will serve our country in the future. It is a day were we celebrate the birthday of my sweet nephew, Brett. And it now becomes a day where we remember our sweet, sweet Gold Dog, Brodi.

In August Brodi started losing control of his hind legs, almost overnight. We made an appointment with him at our vet and they thought it was arthritis setting in. We came home with a few medications that should help elevate his pain and hopefully help him gain control of his hind legs again. We gave it the three days they suggested but it didn't seem to be working so I started googling and asked for a followup. I had a feeling that it was something more, that it was a disease called degenerative myelopathy--a neurological disorder where a dog will lose control over his hind legs which will then lead to his bowels and his front legs. The diagnoses meant we had limited time with Brodi, maybe 4-6 months at most & as much we were hoping this wasn't the case, it was. So we would make the most of these last few months with Brodi--the good new, DM doesn't cause pain. It looks painful because his back legs aren't doing what they need to do but it isn't. So we placed rugs around the house and we helped him up the stairs at night. We made it work and he was a trooper. 

On Friday he was his happy, normal self--or his new normal self. He greeted me at the door when I returned home from work.  He followed me around as I picked up the house & he climbed up on our bed as I fell asleep. Throughout the night he would climb up in our bed twice more--which we both commented on how that was unusual. Saturday morning started off pretty good too but quickly went downhill. We noticed that he climbed up on the couch, something he rarely does, especially if we are home. And he was leaning in a weird position against the couch. He sat there for awhile without moving. Justin lifted him up and moved him to the floor. He sat there again without moving. I called for him. He didn't come. I got a treat to entice him. He didn't come. I tried getting him to lie down. He didn't lie down. We knew something was wrong. Really wrong. 

We told the boys that we needed to take him to the vet & that he was very sick and in pain. That he might not be coming home with us & gave them a chance to say their goodbyes too. We made arrangements for the boys to be with some friends while we were with Brodi. We called ahead to the vet & they had a room ready for us when we arrived. Instead of carrying him in, Brodi walked into the room. Justin and I looked at each other, maybe there was hope. And then once he was lying down, he didn't want to get back up. We asked to speak with a doctor. Brodi was in pain. DM isn't painful so there was more going on. We could try to give him medicine and see if that would help control the pain but there were no promises and the DM would only progress from here so we made the decision to set Brodi free from all his pain.

The next hour was the hardest thing that I have ever experienced. Here we were saying goodbye to our most loyal companion of the last 12 years. He was there before marriage. He was there before kids. The moment we walked through the door with Kaden and Logan he became an instant protector. He was a big, goofy dog but he was always so gentle with the boys. He would let them crawl on top of him, rid him like a horse. They pulled on his tail and yanked on his years but he never once snapped at them. He never once growled at them or us. He was literally the most lovable teddy bear I have ever met. & that's all he wanted to do, was give love. Justin could have been mad at me, the boys too but not Brodi. Brodi would be there to greet me at the door each and every time I walked through it.

He'd lick the dirty water as I loaded the dish washer--I give him a look and shoo him back but he'd venture back over in a matter of seconds but he'd refrain from licking anymore, he just wanted to be close to the action.

He never left anyone downstairs alone and would always trail whomever was the last the go up to bed, right on our heels. He'd crawl up into our bed every night and he laid there and wait until he thought we were asleep and he jump down and head to his nightly spot. And he never got up before we did, he would always wait until we were up before he started to stir--unless nature was calling.

When dinner time came, he knew exactly where he'd get lucky.

He would alert us if someone was at the door or a deer was in the backyard. He could sit there forever and watch the deer run.

He and Stoli were the best of friends.

He loved the snow. I mean-catching snowballs, face in the snow searching for said snowball-loved the snow. Oh, how I wish he would have gotten to enjoy just one more snow.

& as much as he loved the snow, he hated the heat and would choose the cool hardwood floors over going outside every time.

He loved waiting at the bus stop for the kids just as much as I did. It was certainly a treat for both of us.

His favorite spot to lay during the holidays was right in front of the Christmas tree.

He'd humor us as we put costumes on him.

He'd play along as the kids "cracked eggs" on top of his head.

His little paws would crimp when they got wet.

Speaking of hair, he had it for days. It was a full time job trying to keep the floors cleared of his dog hair and eventually he would win the battle every time. Finally we got him shaved. We thought win, win--win for us when it came to controlling his hair and a win for him because he was cooler and more comfortable. But that first haircut brought a little shock to us all, I'm pretty sure he didn't want to be seen so he laid low until his hair grew out a little more. One time they even gave him bows...

He chewed up every. single. pillow. I bought for the couch.

Chewed through zippers on jeans.

Destroyed more toys than we can count.

Ate through & scratched the shit out of multiple doors.

Was a pretty high maintenance dog--he had an ear hematoma which led to surgery. He got more ear infections than I could count. And even more hot spots than ear infections. & then there is the DM that snuck up on us these last few months.

But all of this, every single thing, was worth it. What I wouldn't give to have him chew up another pillow or destroy another door. These things made him, him. He made our house a home. He never held a grudge. He never would turn attention down and he always knew when you need a little extra love and would nuzzle his little, well big, way into your lap. He'd nap with you. He'd lay right at your feet as you edited pictures or wrote a new blog post and let you gently rest your foot on his back.

Brodi wasn't just any dog. He was our dog. He was as much of a part of our family as anyone else and we wouldn't be the same without him. He brought energy and excitement to our days-made the cloudy days bright again. Made me smile in times when I found it hard to. He was and will always be a reminder of what unconditional love truly is and we will forever be grateful that we were the recipients of his love.

Twelve years and 3 months ago we decided to add another fur baby to our family of three. Justin found this little golden retriever in the Kansas City Star. We made a call, met with the family and we knew he needed to be ours. We needed him. It was love at first sight and every day since.

We will forever love you Brodi and we will miss you so fiercely. Thank you.