January 2014: Our Family Grows

No, I’m not pregnant!

I hope. Just kidding. I hope.

Nonetheless, our little family has grown over the past month. One would think that four horses, two dogs, four cats, two bunnies and a hamster (not to mention two children and two sometimes-childish adults) would be enough to fulfill us, but apparently that is not true.

It was actually the last day of 2013 when we were blessed with the best addition to our family since my own beloved children arrived, but forgive me because I have to backtrack a bit here.

Annabelle had been asking for puppy for Christmas since approximately last April. She wrote to Santa regularly, and we talked at length about her requirements for a dog. My daughter is a practical sort, and she wanted a dog that would not only be a good companion, but one that would also be fun to take to horse shows. That, in her (and my) mind, had its own set of requirements, which included:

  • Able to jump into the truck without help, but small enough to qualify for any hotel room.
  • Non-shedding.
  • Quiet.

I had casually looked for a dog for most of the last few months, especially after the kids had been so saddened by the loss of our old friend Toby in August. We had seen a couple of dogs that might work, but my slow (to Annabelle’s mind) reaction time had caused us to miss out, and in each case the dog had already been spoken for by the time we called about it.

It was the snowy morning of New Year’s Eve, and I was working in my home office. I casually clicked on to our local Craigslist Pet category, and saw a brand new (within 15 minutes or so) post. It was the cutest little dog, described as “Milo”, who was a schnauzer, poodle, yorkie type mix. He weighed nine pounds, according to the ad, was house trained and neutered, and came with his crate and supplies. He was free.

Just as I read the post, Annabelle popped into the room. She saw the picture. She requested that I read the ad out loud. Then she did the smartest thing ever – she demanded I call RIGHT THAT MINUTE. She reminded me that we had missed out on other dogs by waiting to call. So I did. Call. Right that minute.

And to my enduring wonder and joy, that afternoon we picked up our first new family member of 2014.

Milo The Coolest Dog In The World

Meet Milo the Monkey Dog. He isn’t really a monkey, obviously, but his round furry face punctuated with the most intelligent eyes I have ever seen on a dog do give him a particularly simian look.

I have been blessed with some pretty cool dogs in my life, but I have to say that Milo has to be in the top, well, two (it is hard to compete with Bette, the belgian malinois I owned when I moved back to Idaho some fifteen years ago).

Milo is a wonder.

He loves everyone.

He has boundless energy, and plays with Winston for hours of each day, barking and growling like a lion as he zooms around like a Ferrari playing tag with a cement truck. In fact, despite that fact that he tips the scales at less than 10% of Winston’s hefty 100 pounds, Milo runs the show.

The monkey dog is an amazing blend of rambunctious energy and lap dog, who will play with the kids until they quit in exhaustion, and steal Winston’s chew toy in the back yard and run around and around the big tree until Winston just gives up and lets him have it. Then he comes into the house and jumps on the first available lap and goes right to sleep. He spends his nights in one bed or another, he is not picky. He is equally happy to sleep with Batman in his camo-draped twin, share Annabelle’s queen-size bunk with her and old-lady-dog Maddie, or try to crowd me and Desperate Hubby out of our king-size mattress.
Milo travels with me everywhere in the truck. He waits patiently for me outside the barn while I ride my horse or when I’m in the grocery store, not sleeping or even relaxing on the seat while he waits, but maintaining a strict vigil with front feet on the dashboard and a focused squint in his bushy eyebrows. He is a gem in public, walking happily on his leash and greeting every passerby as a long-lost friend. He really shines at the Parent Pick-Up Line at the kids’ school, graciously accepting every hug and pat and squeeze from the throngs of kids wanting to meet him.
I really can’t imagine our lives without him. He was the perfect completion to our already pretty complete family.

Until he wasn’t.


You see, we weren’t long into the New Year when Batman started lobbying for a snake. Yep, you read that right. A snake. Of the slithering, mouse-eating, escape-from-the-cage-and-crawl-in-bed-with-mommy variety.

I have no idea where Batman got the hankering for a reptilian friend, but true to form, Desperate Hubby promised my boy a snake when they were canoodling after I went to bed one night.

I’m not sure how the conversation started, but I can tell you how it stopped, and that would be the instant that I found out that snakes don’t eat snake food. Well, I guess that’s wrong, they DO eat snake food. It’s just that snake food is mice. All snakes, apparently, eat mice. Either live (gross) or frozen (almost as gross). To my youngest child’s immense disappointment, I put my foot down.

No. Snakes. Period,

But the problem was that Batman really wanted to have a pet to live in his room like his sissy has Copper the Hamster. And daddy had promised, after all. I tried to float the idea of Batman getting his own hamster, but nothing doing. He didn’t want any pet that bit him. No negotiation.

We had a problem.

So I did what I normally do when faced with a difficult situation.

I called Grandpa Vernon.

Grandpa Vernon’s (real) grandkids have a pet gecko, and they love it. He told me all about the pet. It was tame. Easy to care for. Eats crickets and mealworms. Easy to handle and enjoys being carried around. That sounded perfect!

Off to the pet store we went.

Enter JoJo the Gecko

(See how that rhymes?)

JoJo is a charming little guy. He eats crickets. He is quiet and quite clean. He requires little care at all, really, compared to some of the other high maintenance members of our extended family.

Unfortunately, he also hides under his fake rock whenever you enter the room, and arches his back and hisses quite loudly when you try to pick him up.

Batman is terrified of him.

I do think our family is complete now,

Categories: Kids Are Funny Creatures, Life in the Country | 1 Comment

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One thought on “January 2014: Our Family Grows

  1. Zac, Congrats on JoJo! He is a beautiful Gecko. We can’t wait to meet him. The boys think he’s pretty cool looking.

    Annabelle, I met Milo just after you got him and I am glad he is settling into the family. He is adorable.


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