Posts Tagged ‘pets’

Warning: spoiler alerts ahead.

Our family loves to read Elephant and Piggie.   I dryly read the part of Gerald the Elephant while Blitzen reads Piggie the Piggie with exuberant expression.

Our most-read title is “We Are In a Book.”  Our heroes romp playfully together until Piggie mentions that the book will end on Page 57.

“ENDS!?!” screams Elephant.  “The book ends?!”

“Yes,” says Piggie.  “All books end.”

We read those pages again and again, Piggie/Blitzen wisely helping her friend Elephant confront his existential dread.


Our latest read has been the story of Marley, a rambunctious, joyful 100-pound dog who lived life in a big way.  Before we started, Carrie and I sat down and talked to Blitzen about how the story would end.  After a few days of reading, we reminded her of the sad ending ahead and asked if she wanted to keep reading.  She responded “Yes!   I can’t stop now.  I have to keep reading about Marley!”

We read about the time Marley’s owner rode a toboggan down the snowy hill behind his house. Naturally, Marley jumped on and the two sped down, hanging onto each other, out of control, screaming, laughing and trying to steer clear of trees before landing in the river.   Blitzen loved every page of Marley’s misadventures.

We finished the book last night and the three of us sobbed together in bed, talking about endings.  We talked about our dog Stan and scattering his ashes under a tree in Central Park.

Blitzen drifted to sleep, then woke up.  “Marley was as wild as the wind,” she announced.  “I hope my dog is wild as the wind too.”


There will be many more Blitzen-tagged posts on Carrie’s brilliant blog.  We’re still inventing our family, still learning from one another, still in the middle of our story.   But all books end.   Foster families, like Blitzen’s beach sculptures, are monuments to uncertainty and impermanence.

Carrie and I have made a choice to live and parent like page 57 is a long way away.   When you speed downhill with someone wild as the wind you hang to each other and savor the ride.

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Well, it wasn’t a roadside manicure / pedicure stand.  It was an old fashioned lemonade stand on our front stoop.  Blitzen earned $13.75 hawking lemonade (minus the $5 she gave to a passerby because she thought the person looked like they needed it more than we did and she was likely right, because they took it!).  She even had a drive thru customer.  That is right, someone pulled up the curb and ordered 3 to go!

As she told her customers while she poured their beverage, ‘There is a big population of dogs and they need homes.’  She sat outside, quietly pouring lemonade and making neighborhood friends for more than an hour.

The following day, while I was at work, I engaged in this email exchange:

From: Andrew
To: Carrie
Subject: dogs

 I am going to the dog shelter. Blitzen typed this

love Blitzen  xxoo

Carrie  wrote:

You are brave, Blitzen – it will be a little sad but the dogs will be excited to meet you.

 Carrie typed this.  Love Carrie

Andrew wrote: (but not really)

I am doing this for the dogs.

 Love Blitzen


Then Andrew and Blitzen biked to our local shelter and made a donation and learned a lot.  She is disappointed that you have to be 18 to volunteer but she’s more committed than ever.



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Blitzen is really obsessed with dogs right now.  She still loves her guinea pigs but thinks it would be super to have a dog too.  We’re a long way from dog ownership but she has been asking lots of questions about our old dog, Stan the Man the Beagle.

Blitzen, dozing, almost asleep, ‘You used to have a beagle.’

Blitzen, dozing some more, maybe she is really asleep, ‘He was a pain in the butt.’

Blitzen, surely fully unconscious, but maybe not quite, ‘Pain in the butt is an expression. It means he was not a good listener.’

And she is out…..

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Dear S

With input from Blitzent’s teacher and Blitzen, we decided earlier this week that Blitzen should take a day off of school for a little bit of a break.  She has been working very hard, hasn’t missed any school not related to appointments (or hurricanes!) all year.    And she has had a couple of rough days at school and as you know, many rough evenings at home.  Blitzen is now regretting the decision but we made a plan so we’re sticking to it.  Given the amount of anger she is showing about this as I write this email, it is quite possible that you will hear tomorrow at family visit about how we cruelly made her stay home from school when she really really really wanted to go to learn and be with her friends.  “You never let me finish what I start” she is hollering at this very moment.  I just wanted you to know what was up –  we’re taking a much needed vacation day.

Blitzen was also having a bit of problem when it was time for pet therapy  tonight – she didn’t want to separate from her friends and leave school to go.  We spend a lot of time with Blitzen identifying afterschool activities, outlining our schedule and confirming plans – Blitzen is having some trouble lately sticking with her commitments and the schedule.  I’ve let her know that if she is not enjoying pet therapy, she can decide to ‘resign’ but  the decision will be final, she must speak to you before she does it and she must attend one last session to say goodbye to the trainer, the dogs and her pet therapy friends.

Best, Carrie and Andrew


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Someone asked how we have come to have pet beetles.

Well, Blitzen’s science class has been studying the life cycle of meal worms since the beginning of year and now that the meal worms are all grown up, the science room has a whole buncha beetles for the taking.  Blitzen was allowed to bring home 4 beetles.  They live in a Tupperware container with holes in the lid with some nice straw for bedding and corn meal for eating.

She spent her entire BTPT (bed time play time) last night trying to work up the courage to pick them up and hold them in her hand.  It was clearly so painful and frustrating for her — to be afraid.  She tried and tried, she cried and cried and then yelled a little.  Finally she announced to Andrew that I had to be brought into the discussion, “Carrie can help me overcome my fear!” she announced.  Well, not right away.  But we tried and tried and tried some more.  We got mad some more but then finally, Blitzen picked one of the beetles up. It was such an interesting process because it was very important to her that she pick it up.  She didn’t want me to put the beetle in her hand, she didn’t want to pet the beetle while I held it — she wanted to get it out of its little home and hold it all on her own.  And so she did.   That kid is totally not a quitter.  Kind of inspiring, actually.  Makes you want to go out in the world and pick up a beetle, if you know what I mean.

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Blitzen started pet therapy and she loves it.  And we love it.  She gets to interact with animals.  She is getting to know some of the other foster kids at our agency.  It is such a good thing for her to know other children in care that are not related to her.

And best of all, we don’t take her, she is there for 2 hours and she gets a ride home.  So we get to stay at work until 7pm — it is totally, totally exciting!  Some of you out there may think that I am kidding but I am not.

Anyway, they painted pumpkins at pet therapy this week.  I was kind of confused by this – what do Halloween decorations have to do with dogs?  I asked Blitzen what the dogs did while they were painting pumpkins.  She said, ‘They put the paint brush in their teeth and went like this.’  Insert mental picture of Blitzen bobbing her head around like crazy, pretending to hold a brush clenched in her teeth.

I am pretty sure she was kidding.

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Piggie play things

So the guinea pigs are cute and in every part of our imaginary play.  They come with us to the movies (the couch when we watch tv and eat popcorn), they make many visits to vet Andrew and are always very brave when they get the needle, they go to the pharmacy where pharmacist Andrew fills their prescription for claw drops.  Yesterday, after a romp around Blitzen’s room, they sat in their box and watched a rousing game of Headbanz.  They travel about being held, coddled or toted in a roomy box lined with a towel.  And they don’t seem to mind, probably because we ply them with lots of carrots and leafy greens.

My new plan is to try to give the piggies some extra power (I am thinking of good guinea super strengths) that will, in turn, give Blitzen a little more courage and hopefully increase independence.  Could the guineas ‘chat’ with while she showers, for instance, instead of me (from the dry safety of their box, of course)?  Perhaps they would like to help her choose an outfit for school in the morning?  I could make them little capes that say ‘Blitzen’s Super Pigs’ and teach them to squeak encouragement.

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