Jul 22, 2013


Meet Penny. Our new 14 week old Aussiedoodle puppy.

Thursday the 18th was Adrian's 10th birthday. I knew I wanted to do something special, really special. You see, Adrian is the kind of boy who was born wanting a dog. Seriously I'm not exaggerating. Look at this short video of him seeing a dog on TV when he was one.

He has been begging for a dog for years. Probably since he could talk. There was one time that he cried himself to sleep because he wanted a dog so badly. When I told him he could get one as an adult he sobbed and replied "But then it will be too late!"  Unfortunately, although I love animals, I am allergic. I once rescued a cat for a friend and when she decided she didn't want her I didn't have the heart to return her to the street. I kept that cat, and loved her like my baby, until she died of old age 13 years later, at age 17. I suffered with allergies the entire time. I knew if we made the decision to get a pet it would be for life. So I always said no it was never going to happen because it is a serious commitment. And I didn't want the kids to have false hope. 

They kind of gave up on the idea of a dog or cat and started begging for ANY kind of a pet. A fish, a turtle, a bird, a hamster they didn't care. I tried to pass off our wild rabbit, Sir-Hops-A-Lot, as a pet. That only worked for a short while. I remember loving animals as a kid and that desire for a pet.  Steve and I discussed it many times over the years and we agreed it would be sad for the kids to go their whole life without a pet. (Okay were once given a beta fish, which Evie weirdly named Wanda, but it died when Adrian was just a baby.) For me personally the payoff is just not the same with other pets. I guess because although you may love them, they don't love you back in the same way a dog or cat will.

With Ainsley's trach and medical/special needs I was afraid of taking on the responsibilities of a pet even though Adrian promised to take care of it. He just wasn't old enough. But at 10, maybe it was time.  But what breed to get? Pet hair floating around the house would be a hazard for Ainsley if it got into her trach as she crawled around the house. There are bunches of dogs on the hypoallergenic list. One of which is the Irish Terrier. Which I love, but know from experience that I'm highly allergic to. Our neighbor was out walking hers a month or so ago and I gave it lots of pets. Later in the night my eyes swelled up massively and I made a point of showing the kids and explaining THAT was why we couldn't get a dog. Even though at the same time I was seriously thinking about getting one for Adrian.

I couldn't let the idea go and Adrian's birthday was fast approaching. I was talking to my birth mother and asked about her Mini Australian Sheppard because we wanted a dog about that size and I felt that my allergic reactions to her weren't as strong. She warned that they shed a lot. She thought about it and then found the Mini Aussiedoodle hybrid breed on the internet. She sent me to the Seattle area E-bay dog breeders website. I always thought we would adopt a dog from a shelter but I also knew that I would need to be able to bathe the dog regularly because of my allergies and thought I'd have better luck training a puppy to love baths.

I immediately contacted several of the Aussiedoodle breeders and was discouraged to find that many were already sold, or were located far away. Since we were vacationing the week before Adrian's birthday (a gift from my birth mother, and a time-share so no control over the dates we were gone) I knew it would be difficult to get to Oregon or someplace half across the state of Washington. One breeder told me "good luck", that her puppies sold practically before they were born and warned it would be really hard to find an Aussiedoodle. Another breeder's puppies wouldn't be available until August. It was looking doubtful that it would happen.

There was another breeder who showed a pup with soulful eyes that spoke to me. But she looked older and very different from her brother's picture. Honestly they didn't look like they were from the same litter, I was afraid the one I liked best would be the boy, and the listing was from May so I thought they would be gone but I left a message anyway.  The breeder called me back saying the one I liked was the girl and she was still available so I made arrangements to go meet her the next day and hopefully put down a deposit. We couldn't buy the dog immediately because of the vacation so they agreed to hold her for another 10 days. My sister came to watch the kids. I persuaded my birth mom to come with me to make sure it was a good choice since I knew nothing about dogs. We pretended we had a lunch date. It fooled the kids pretty well. It all happened so fast my head was swimming.

The breeder has an animal rescue center (for birds I think) and there were animals of all kinds at her "farm".   Penny was running free with all the animals and her brother and mother. I felt torn about buying her and taking her from this amazing place but such is the life of a dog, I guess. It was hard to leave her there. I just couldn't believe it or think about anything else for the following week. It felt so weird to have such a BIG SECRET! In addition to the vacation we also were doing a photoshoot with BlueLily Photography and I was really stressing about finding the right clothes so that the pictures have the BlueLily signature style. It was a lot to process and I just had to cross my fingers that it would all work out.

We cut our trip short by a day so we would be home the night before Adrian's birthday. (The trip was wonderful but that will have to be another post.) We were driving through the mountain pass at night. The kids had fallen asleep. We decided that it would be best to get the cash to pay for the dog so as not to arouse suspicion the next day. Thankfully we bank with BECU and they have a special cash machine at their banking center inside Safeway that allows larger withdrawals so we stopped to get a pie for breakfast (Adrian's birthday request). The kids didn't even know. We didn't get to bed until 2:30am!

In the morning I got the camcorder out and surprised Adrian with the pie, followed by an elaborate scheme to surprise him with his new puppy. I was so nervous that something would go wrong. But it was perfect. We claimed that we had to go pick up an iron hoop to use as a prop for the photoshoot. I even had a picture (off Craigslist) and that grandma was coming along to get some yard art. They bought it hook line and sinker. And I filmed it so you all can see. It's a little long at 11 minutes but totally worth watching to see Adrian's reaction and Penny at her new home.

We brought a small cardboard box and lined it with her blanket. I held her in my lap the entire way and she half-layed on me. I held her pretty firmly and she never got loose and was able to look out the window. She did awesome and didn't get sick.

We took her to PetSmart to get a collar, leash, her normal food and some other things. We also weighed her. Our baby girl is 10lb 12oz. We had planned to buy a 20-25 pound dog, but since Penny's parents are both mini's she will probably be more around 15 pounds fully grown.

The kids took a turn holding her in the box on the way home. 

Ainsley was excited but it took Penny a day or so to get used to her. Probably she isn't used to seeing humans crawl. Now they are pretty good buddies except that Ainsley is fascinated and kind of tortures Penny, following her around and begging to put the leash on her or to put her in the travel case. She gets sad a lot because we don't let her. Hopefully that won't last long.

Ainsley LOVES Penny. It's hard to believe there was ever a time that she was afraid of dogs.

Penny had a territorial moment and barked at a dog outside the fence. She's otherwise pretty quiet. It seems to be a good sign that she might grow up to be a decent watch dog.

Grandma showed Adrian the proper way to hold a dog so it feels safe.

She brought Adrian a bunch of doggie stuff for his birthday.

I think she's as "in love" with Penny as we all are.
Adrian was a little disappointed not to be able to go to the Rainforest Cafe for dinner, our birthday tradition. But he didn't really care because HE GOT A DOG. But we let him pick what he wanted, and he chose mac n' cheese and chicken nuggets from McDonalds. Easy. Hooray!

The kids are obsessed with Minions which worked out nicely since we were on the road we stopped at McDonalds often to get Happy Meal toys.

Ainsley LOVES these guys and it's been SO cute to see her playing with them, obviously acting out some scene in her head.

Adrian badly wants to play fetch but Penny didn't seem to be interested. We don't think she had "dog toys" on "the farm".

I bought some smaller balls on Saturday and we happily discovered that she played with it and could fit it in her mouth.
It looks promising that she will learn to play fetch and learn a whole bunch of tricks. She's already learned to stand.
Adrian's been doing great caring for his new puppy.  I was worried that Evie would be sad. And she is a little. But she's also very happy. And she's been helping Adrian care for her even though she doesn't have to.

We were able to push the photoshoot from Saturday to Sunday to give Penny another day with us. There was so much going on that we also needed the shopping time. It was really fun and I will write more about that in another post. They were amazed that Penny had only been with us for 3 days. She is that well adjusted to our family already. Or perhaps she just has an amazing disposition. Or both.

It was "meant to be". Seriously. Penny had been sold 2 other times. The first buyer's landlord changed their minds. The second buyer was acting weird when she showed up to buy her and then said she didn't like how she looked. Say WHAT?!!! Penny was meant to be OURS. We were so lucky that the breeders were also available on his birthday and were willing to go along with it.

It's been a crazy couple weeks. The house was a disaster. We are so relieved it is all over so now we can relax. After the photoshoot Sunday Grandpa David came over with Grandma Vicki's Corvette for a visit and to meet Penny. (We might have to have a meet Penny party in August. We'll see.)

Grandma Vicki passed away from cancer just a few years after Steve and I met. I know she would have loved seeing her grandkids in her car.  She was a lovely woman. My kids really missed out not getting to know her. There have been many times I've thought this, and this was definitely one of them.

Steve had to "Penny proof" the gate. (Our yard is otherwise fully fenced.)

Now we can relax and just enjoy the newest addition to our family.

We're going to be seeing a lot of this. She'll be keeping us on our toes. Hopefully there will be time for blog posts. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed my surprise.


  1. Love this! Thanks for sharing, as always.

  2. YAY! Happy Birthday to Adrian! I'm so happy to read that you got a dog! I can't imagine my life without my Rooney. I will say that I had to teach him to fetch. I read a book, A Perfect Puppy in 7 Days and I found it to be very helpful. I can send it to you if you want!


  3. What a beautiful moment to capture on video - I thought Adrian might actually burst there for a few minutes as we watched him process that this was HIS puppy! It's great that your yard is fully fenced - that will make such a difference in Adrian being able to take Penny out on her own to play with no worries about escape!

  4. Susan....
    Alright, I know that I've slacked in commenting. But I still check in on this Blog!! Not the same, I know!! ;)
    Congrats on your newest family member!! I love, love, love canines, and have a Beautifully Unique "Mystery Dog" of a mutt named Rose!! She is my little girl!! An Aussiedoodle?! I have never heard of that "breed"!! I commend you for adopting a mutt.... They are the best!! Penny is adorable!! ;-D

  5. PS. Penny will be awesome for Ainsley.... Dogs attach themselves to "special needs" kids!! Trust me on that one!!

  6. Raelyn thanks for the congratulations. I'm not sure if you actually read the post or just skimmed the photos but we didn't adopt a mutt. Although I would have liked to, we purchased a hybrid or cross-breed instead, from a breeder. We felt we needed the specific characteristics of this breed and needed a puppy (rather than a fully gown dog) which we'd be very unlikely to find at a shelter.

    There are many new hybrid breeds being created by intentionally breeding a pure-bred Poodle with other purebreds because Poodles don't shed and thus are considered hypoallergenic. The Aussiedoodle is just another type of "Doodle" like the increasingly popular Labradoodle and Goldendoodle.

  7. Susan....
    While admittedly, I was getting sleepy while reading this Blog post {At 11:33 PM with midnight lurking!! Yikes!!}, so I did mostly "skim the photos", although usually I read entire posts. ;)
    About the whole "hybrid" thing. I do not get it. In my opinion, a mutt is a mix of two or more different breeds {Whether bred intentionally or not.} This makes Penny a mutt!! Or a hybrid!! To each one her own!! Either way, Penny has a home filled with love!! ;)
    PS. Happy birthday to Adrian!!

  8. Penny is adorable.....
    Love the joy on Ainsely's face!!
    I watched the video on youtube and seriously? Adrian's reaction was SO WORTH IT!! Oh Susan he was so Verklempt! I was all misty eyed over his joy.
    Love that you did this for the children, you are pretty incredible Susan!
    Love all you do for the children.

  9. I think your mom looks like Margaret Atwood a wee bit, do you see it?
    Or is it just me.

  10. Now you have got your dog a suitable kennel or a dog run, what is your dog doing when it is not exercising? I browsed through quite a bit dog beds with all sorts of design and style.
    Dog Run NZ