Major Misadventure Alert: Peanut The Puppy

Peanut at five weeks.

Since my last post, things have been pretty busy around the Bondie-Lybrink apartment. Austin starts a new job on Monday, I’ve gained several clients in the past week, and we’re bringing a new member into our little clan.

In my last update, I mentioned our interest in getting a puppy.

After researching several breeders, shelters, and cities, we found a five-week-old miniature schnauzer ready for adoption.

Before meeting her, we talked names. We came up with half a dozen crappy ones like Fluffy. We came up with some semi-decent ones like Bailey. But we came down to a couple great ones – Oreo and Peanut. Considering the puppy we wanted was black and silver, we went with Peanut.

We weren’t sure it was going to fit but, after meeting her, it felt right.

Adopting a puppy from a breeder can be difficult. If you’re willing to wait, it’s usually better to adopt a puppy from a nearby shelter – if one becomes available. That way, you can save a life and gain a companion at the same time (not to mention save hundreds of dollars).

Unfortunately, this wasn’t an option for us. A puppy is a huge time commitment. By the time we decided the timing was right, we had a matter of months before our schedule became impossible to warrant a baby. Because we needed such a specific breed for our apartment complex and emotional therapy training, we chose to go with a breeder.

If you have to work with a breeder, be cautious. The practice of inbreeding for show quality animals is still alive and thriving. While you want an AKC-registered animal to guarantee legitimacy and safe breeding practices, you don’t want to work with a breeder who only cares about the show quality of your pet. You need to be more concerned with health and overall happiness.

Some warning signs of bad breeders?

  • They don’t ask many questions about your home, your plans, or your experience.
  • They don’t answer your questions.
  • They don’t have proper documentation or a contract.
  • They don’t keep their animals in a safe environment.
  • They won’t let you visit your pet regularly.

Luckily, we found an experienced and welcoming breeder in Onsted, Michigan. She and her husband keep miniature schnauzers as pets and genuinely love the breed. She was happy to answer all of our questions and asked a few questions of her own. We felt comfortable and prepared.

We also felt lucky. The vast majority of miniature schnauzer breeders have waiting lists for their litters. It could be months, or even a year, before an AKC-registered puppy is available for adoption.  Our breeder is less experienced with technology and doesn’t have a professional website – meaning my hours of research digging through the depths of the web gave us an edge.

On our way to meet Peanut for the first time, we were nervous. We had just decided to get a puppy two days prior. I had only spoken to the breeder once before deciding to drive to Onsted to meet her (and her puppies). It had been a long weekend of discussing finances, responsibilities, paperwork, and registration. We’d spent several days justifying our decision to loved ones and friends.

To be honest, we were still unsure ourselves – as anyone is when making a huge (and life changing) decision.

But, when it comes to Austin and I make big life decisions, we have a tendency to get “vibes”. The first time we looked at a house, we felt physically nauseous. It was too much, too soon. The first time we saw our apartment complex, we were overwhelmed by how “right” it felt. We trust those gut instincts, especially when they match (which they usually do).

Peanut at six weeks (bottom).

So, we told ourselves, we would go with our gut.

When we met Peanut, all of our fears and worries and doubts disappeared.

She was precious and adorable. I was worried I would cry, thinking about Mitzi and what I went through last year when we lost her. But, somehow, it felt okay. I couldn’t stop smiling, and neither could Austin.

We felt comfortable with the breeder, who was happy to hold Peanut for a deposit. We were told she could come home with us in three weeks – on April 1st.

We placed the deposit, chose a blue collar, and fell in love.

Peanut at seven weeks.

Two weeks later, we went back to visit again. This time, Peanut was up and playing with her siblings. While she was still sleepy (like before), she was much bigger and walking on her own. She played with a few toys, but mostly sat curled up in our arms.

In four days, we go back to visit again. But, this time, we get to bring Peanut home with us.

We have so many questions and so much to learn. We’ve shopped for a hairbrush, a leash, food, toys, a crate, dishes, and treats. We’ve spent hours talking about training methods, puppy classes, and doggy day care.

This is going to be one hell of a misadventure, readers. A puppy, a wedding, graduation, and a family vacation all in one year.

You’re going to want to stay tuned for this.

Until next time,

Cassie

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Volunteering at Potter Park Zoo

Recently, Austin and I were accepted into the volunteer program at Potter Park Zoo – one of our favorite places in Lansing.

We went to orientation and learned quite a few things about the zoo. I’d like to share some of them with you, mostly because I want everyone to know why PPZ is so great.

  • The zoo is active in three American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) programs.
  • The zoo specializes in educational programs, including the BIG Zoo Lesson that helps teach conservation and sensitivity to the natural world and the Zoo and Aquarium Science course that educates high school students about career opportunities in animal science.
  • The zoo is home to year-round animals and, thus, is open annually. In fact, the zoo is only closed a handful of days throughout the year.

Potter Park Zoo started out as a gift from James and Sarah Potter in 1915. A bear, deer, and raccoons were transferred from Moores Park in 1920.  That was the beginning.

In the 1930s, Monkey Island and the Bird House (along with a few small moats) were built. Monkey Island has since been removed. Following the Great Depression, the Feline and Primate Building was built, along with the main park pavilion.

In 2002, a new animal care facility was opened. It serves as a surgery, nursery, and recovery area. There is also a full-time vet on staff.

In 2017, the zoo is home to a vast number of animals, including bald eagles, otters (with a beautiful story that you should ask me about next time you see me), a tiger, several lions, a rhino, spider monkeys, kangaroos, moose, lemurs, and so much more.

In our opinion, you get all of the thrill of the Detroit Zoo with a third of the walking time and a third of the crowd. You also get far more shade (more trees) and a beautiful park that you can explore once you leave the zoo.

Our first volunteer day involved raking and gardening. We were preparing a stage area for a big upcoming event (expect to hear more about that before May hits). It was really fun to work amongst a rhino, a couple of meerkats, and a lion.

I think my favorite part was turning around, rake in hand, to find myself face-to-face with a peacock.

I’m afraid of peacocks.

It was a great time.

This year is such a big year for us. We’re getting married, I’m graduating, we’re going on vacation, I’m turning twenty-one, and we’re topping it off with a puppy. Having the zoo for volunteer hours and recreational time is not only exciting for us, but it’s a nice break from our daily routine.

A few big announcements before I sign off?

I am officially going to graduate in December. My financial aid came through and everything is looking great. Next year will be my first full year as a full-time freelance writer with nothing to stand in my way – plus a degree in hand. And believe me, there were times when the people in my life didn’t think I’d end up with that degree. They certainly didn’t think I’d end up graduating early.

We also made the decision to get a puppy. And not just a puppy. A miniature schnauzer.

If you’ve been following my blog for more than a few months, you know that my family lost our miniature schnauzer Mitzi last June. I loved my baby more than I think anyone will ever know. I still do. But this whole idea started when I watched a few old videos I had of her – and I realized that I’ve been trying desperately to come up with the right dog breed when the right one has been sitting in front of me all along.

Mitzi was loyal and kind and sweet. She was adventurous and fun. She was everything I want in a dog. And it will be hard not to compare. And it will be hard not to miss her or feel like I’m replacing her somehow. But I think, in the end, this is a good choice.

Some people might think it sounds crazy – getting a dog, I mean. We have four guinea pigs already and our two bedroom apartment isn’t getting any bigger. But with Austin working full-time and my career only getting more stressful, I need an emotional support dog again. It’s really that simple. Besides, raising a puppy is good practice – right?

I’m open to suggestions about training a puppy to live in an apartment. We are looking into local training courses (puppy kindergarten). I’m also ready to hear advice from anyone who has trained a miniature schnauzer before.

We have our eye on a little girl who was born less than two weeks ago. She won’t be able to come home until mid-April, but we’ll know for sure by my next post if she’s going to be the one. We get to meet her this week.

If not, the search will start again. If you know any small (and adorable) breeds that are great for apartment living, let me know. We won’t be in an apartment forever, but I don’t want to deprive a bigger dog from an active puppy-hood.

Advice about working with breeders is also welcome.

I think that’s everything for now.

More (mis)adventures next week!

Cassie

Me Too

Tonight, I read an article that talked about how incredible it feels when someone says “me too.”

I’m hoping, when I describe this experience, someone else might say “me too.”

I’ve been a student at three different colleges. I started at NYU – a huge university in the heart of Manhattan. During my time there, I was miserable. I wasn’t like most of the other students. I didn’t make real friends, despite my attempts (my coworker Khalifa and my roommate Mara were the exceptions to that rule).

I spent the majority of my time in my dorm room, wishing I was somewhere else. When I wasn’t going out on cringe worthy dates in my desperate attempt to be less alone, I was convincing myself that time would help me fit in. It didn’t.

This was the first time, during college, that I did not identify with college students. In fact, I did not identify with anyone in Manhattan. Never in my life had I felt peer pressured to break my morals. In New York, my potential friends and my horrific dates took turns betting how long it would take for me to take my first underage drink.

My next school was LCC – a community college with classes in my hometown. It was a stepping stone to MSU and my first experience with online classes. I discovered a new kind of college. One that didn’t require me to identify as a college student. I got my own car. I started my own career. I moved on.

Then came MSU – a public university in Michigan. I started my first semester as a commuter with in-person classes. I almost failed a class because I missed so often. Why? Because my anxiety skyrocketed on campus. I avoided it whenever possible. I did my work at home. I started seeing a counselor. No one could tell me what was wrong with me.

Why did, I well-known overachiever, hate being on a college campus? I was paranoid and nervous. My hands shook. I prayed I wouldn’t see anyone I knew from high school. I hoped no one would stare. I felt like an intruder.

After that experience, I moved into my first apartment in West Lansing. No more long commutes. I took mostly online classes. I was close to campus. Still, I avoided it. I no longer felt the need to identify as a college student. I wasn’t one. I’m not one. And I freaking love my life.

I work hard on my education. I spend hours learning every single week. I don’t mean to brag, but my grades kick some serious ass.

But I’m not a college student.

Today, I had to take a test on campus. It had been literal months since I’d entered a school building. My classmates ignored me. And, even though everyone around me was perfectly normal, I felt I stuck out like a sore thumb. I kept my head down.

Next to me, in the testing room, were two blonde girls obsessing over their nails and spring break in Florida. My stomach sank. My thoughts raced.

I am not one of these people. And everyone knows it.

Me and my laptop (which seemed normal at home) that weighed twice as much as everyone else’s in the room. My and my worn out winter boots that didn’t hold a candle to their Uggs. Me and my un-lined eyes and naked face. Me and my not-size-two body.

The test started. There were more than four hundred people in the room. I finished first, in nine minutes. I scored a 90% and walked out while the people around me stared.

I am educated. But I am not a college student.

So what am I?

-3/2/2017