Good Golly Miss Molly

How cute is she?!

As if selling a house, buying a house and moving wasn’t enough change for one year we recently added a new family member.

Meet Molly.

I wasn’t actively looking for a second dog but a friend was fostering some puppies, and Caden had been asking for a smaller dog. He wanted one he could carry around and fit in this lap. We love our big dog but he’s not exactly lapdog material (although he tries hard to be one).

Without the boys knowing, I visited the puppies — a Chihuahua mix — and even took Hudson to see how he felt about it. He thought the puppies were fun at first … until I decided to bring one home!

Big dog, little dog

Actually, Hudson’s adjusted better than I thought. Molly is a good little playmate. She’s about the size of some of his toys (ha!) but even though she’s 1/10th his size she doesn’t act it. She’s fierce and picks fights and doesn’t back down even when he sometimes sends her sliding across the room. She just pounces back for more.

Hudson is very gentle with her too. He plays and rough-houses but not too rough and no one gets hurt.

She can be a little toy thief

Perhaps the biggest struggle for Hudson is she takes his toys. It’s just like children. She wants the one toy he’s decided to play with. He’s so gentle he often lets her take it, albeit with an exasperated sigh of defeat. They’ll fight a little over the antlers Hudson loves to chew. He’ll growl and snap at her when she tries to steal it, but eventually, unless I step in, he’ll let her take his favorite antler too.

This is where they can be found most days while I’m working. Hudson, my protector, always at my feet and by my side and Molly some place comfortable, the carpeted stairs or a spot of sunlight streaming through the windows.

Welcome to the family, Molly!

Pets are Cute!

My co-worker and fellow blogger shared this article with me in which the columnist challenged people, in the new year and the new decade, to look at a few things through fresh eyes. The writer listed 52 suggestions, one for every week of the year. This week’s topic is pets.

I’m way far behind on this series so I was supposed to be writing about pets like three months ago. The interesting thing about this series is how quickly perspective can change things. Subjects I wrote about earlier this year I now think differently about because life and my perspective is different. If I wrote them today I would most certainly write something different.

Pets is one of those topics. If I wrote about it three months ago when I supposed to according to the one topic a week timeline I might’ve written about pets I had as a kid and the boys’ desire for a pet and that struggle. But now we have Rocket. Now I’m a pet owner so my view on pets is transitioning. So two weeks into this whole guinea pig adventure, how do I feel about pets? They’re cute. And cuddly. And assuming Rocket’s squeaks are happy squeaks, his squeaks are cute. He’s cute when he eats lettuce or carrots and it’s cute watching Finn hold him. Did I mention he’s cute?

A pet is extra work but so far Rocket hasn’t been too much. Pets are added responsibility but a contained pet like a guinea pig is easier than some pets would be. A pet with kids adds a different element to it than “just” a pet because I’m having to watch the kids and the pet rather than one or the other, and having to teach Finn and Caden how to hold and care for an animal and what not to do. There’s added expense and time involved but, again with a guinea pig it’s pretty low-key. So far, the pet ownership experience this go ’round is pretty good.

Sick Rocket

It's hard to see but there's a little scabbed over area between his eye and his nose

Our little Rocket is sick.


We took him out of his cage Tuesday night and he had a place on his nose, like maybe a scab or a sore, where there was no hair. We weren’t sure if the hair had fallen out due to stress — had the boys been too rough with him the night before and he just couldn’t take it? — or was he sick with something really bad. The guinea pig book had said to watch them closely for signs of illness that it wouldn’t take much for them to get really sick, really fast.

Fortunately, we were able to call a friend of David’s who knew all about guinea pigs and was able to check him out for us last night. She thinks it’s a scab from a scratch he probably had when we got him, from one of the other guinea pigs at the pet store, and it just took this long for it to completely scab over and the hair to fall out. She thinks it will heal up just fine in a week or so.

As part of trying to figure out what was wrong with his nose, I called the pet store to see if, because he was still within the 14-day return or exchange period, I brought him in would they have their vet look at him to tell us what was wrong and what we needed to do. No, they said, they could exchange him for a new one but if I wanted to go to the vet I’d have to do that on my own.

The mere thought of trading Rocket in for a new guinea pig was too sad to think about. In less than two weeks, he’s captivated my heart and the boys’ hearts and David’s. He’s not just any guinea pig anymore, he’s ours. He’s Rocket. He’s skunkrat. He’s our cute little black and white fur ball. I’m glad this seems to be a minor injury and hope Rocket heals well and quickly.

Both boys told him “bye” and “hope you feel better” yesterday when we left for work and school, and last night at bedtime Finn asked me to pray for Rocket. We thanked God for bringing Rocket into our lives and asked him to help Rocket’s little nose feel better and heal quickly.

Guinea Pig Tales

Finn loves animals and seems to have a natural aptitude for them, at least much more so then I did at his age. I, at Finn’s age was very much like Caden when it comes to pets, and that is — scared to death. As a toddler, I wouldn’t go into the backyard because our family dog Lady, a blonde cocker spaniel, would jump on me, and that was terrifying. Around the same age I pulled the tail of mom’s cat Beauty and she bit me. I was scared also of dad’s hunting dog, Drake, a Labrador Retriever. Caden feels much the way that I did toward all these pets, and that is extreme fear, fear that they’re going to hurt him, that their bark means something bad, that their teeth clamping down on your flesh hurts, and that they may look cute but they really have some hidden agenda. Finn sees a pet and sees something to play with, something to love, something that is showing like and love by playing and jumping and enjoying playing with him.

So, for that reason — and because Finn has expressed interest in being a veterinarian when he grows up — I’ve been trying to figure out for months how to get Finn a pet that will make us all happy. I’m not (as) afraid of dogs as I was when I was kid — I mean most dogs I am bigger than, so I could take him if I had to. But as I mentioned, Caden is. The bigger issue with a dog, though, is time. We are not home enough to give a dog the attention it deserves. We leave by 7 a.m. and are sometimes not home til bed time. On a good day, we all make it home by 6. That’s not fair to an animal to leave it unattended for that many hours.

A cat would be a really good option because it might help deter the little mice that keep sneaking into my garage. But Caden and David are allergic to cats.

Fish die, birds are noisy and their poop is yucky, snakes and reptiles are slithery, hamsters are mice-like, and mice are mice ….

I was beginning to feel like I was going to have to give in on going with a dog and just figure out how to do better with our time management when Finn started reading the book Guinea Dog. The book is about a boy who wants a dog and his parents get him a guinea pig instead.  Hmmm. Maybe a guinea pig would make a good pet for us? I thought. I asked my co-worker Jo who knows all about animals and she, of course, was in favor of it. She was babysitting one night while David and I went out and I asked her to take the boys with her to the pet store to let them look at the guinea pigs and to buy us a book about guinea pig care.

That was about a month ago. We read the book and I continued to think about it. I went and checked them out on my own, and then again with David and the kids, and it seemed like a pet we could all be happy with. So this past weekend, when the pet store had a sale on guinea pigs and starter cages, Finn got his very first pet! And he was quick to point out that we were the first in the family to have a guinea pig. Papaw and Nana had birds, Aunt Nanny has a dog and a cat, but we’re the first to have a guinea pig!

What’s in a Name?

The guinea pig, for all intents and purposes, is Finn’s. It is also a family pet, in that we can all enjoy it. Finn, however, is responsible for daily food and water, treats, spending time with it, cleaning it’s cage (with help from me, for now). So, with great responsibility comes great power reward. Finn would be the one to name it.

We took suggestions from aunts and cousins and Facebook friends, with Oreo being the most suggested name because of the creature’s black and white coloring. But a guinea pig named Oreo wouldn’t do for this special little boy and his first pet. Finn chose the name Rocket Fido Smith, with the acceptable nicknames of Rocky and Skunkrat (Skunkrat coined by David while in the pet store because of the skunk-like striping down Rocket’s nose).

First week at home

So, week one with a pet in the house has been pretty smooth. Rocket needs to be socialized  to people, so except for food and water, he was left to himself in his new cage the first two days at home. I was very proud of the boys for respecting Rocket’s need for privacy and time to adjust. For two active little boys excited about their first pet they did excellent being patient. On day 3, we took him out for about 5 minutes (which was actually more like 10 since I felt the need to scoop some of the poop out while the boys had him out). Day 4, a little longer, and yesterday a little longer still. He’s adjusting pretty well I think, going from hiding in his igloo and totally freezing when we hold him to sniffing his nose around at us and letting Finn reach toward him and not scurrying away.

Finn is ridiculously happy about having him so I’m thrilled to see Finn enjoying his pet. For now, he’s even excited to feed and water him and feed him lettuce. So far, so good. More guinea pig tales to come, I’m sure.