Children & Pets

By Allison Brennan

After two weeks in New York and a week of late nights working on the copyedits from hell, I’m brain dead. I couldn’t write a coherent blog if I tried. So rather than embarrass myself in cyberspace where my words will stay around forever even if I delete this blog at a later date, I thought you might enjoy pictures of my pets.

Yesterday, we brought home our newest four-legged family member: Lewis.

Lewis is an 8-month-old black lab whose owner couldn’t keep him because she was working full-time and going to college, and as we all know, puppies need a lot of attention and supervision. An 8-month-old lab, I’m discovering, is like a toddler. We had to dog-proof the house because Lewis picks up everything in his mouth, including a Lego R2-D2, dirty socks, and doll shoes. The kids have closed off their bedrooms (thank God dogs don’t have thumbs and can’t turn knobs) and so we only have to keep the living areas free of small or precious items.

Lewis is very well-behaved and friendly — and extremely playful. Which is great with you have two acres and five kids, but not-so-great when you’re exhausted. The big plus of having a lab is the short hair (no shedding!); the big negative is the drool.

Nemo has been hiding out in my office all day, and I’m not surprised. He was here first. He saw Lewis through the french doors and every hair on body rose. Between his fear and banishment, he’s pretty damn pissed. We’re introducing the animals tonight (after my daughter’s volleyball tournament.) And we’re getting a trainer. As much for Lewis as for us 🙂

Nemo joined our family last year, as an 8-week-old kitten from the pound. He’s orange and white, which is my favorite coloring for cats. He was so teeny when he came home! Now he’s a big cat.

This is Nemo playing the role of Gulliver Kitty in my Snow Village when he was four months old.


This is Nemo with a stuffer reindeer he purloined from the Christmas box.


Nemo in the sink (this was taken in April. He’s bigger now, but cats bend pretty easy and he still fits. Though he fills it up now … )

Last month, I heard this low motor in my office, and realized that Nemo was snoring. He didn’t even wake up when the camera flashed.


I never thought I’d like chickens–other than baked, fried, or grilled–but these two hens have grown on me and it’s nice to never have to buy eggs from the store. Except–considering how much they eat, the coop we bought, and the fence my husband built to protect them from those higher in the food chain–our eggs are probably costing us $50 a dozen. 


Meet Daisy and Nugget. Nemo likes to watch them. We’ve told him they’re not his chickens; he doesn’t think it’s fair we don’t share.

Chickens actually make fun pets. They’re tame, we can pick them up, they look hilarious when they run, and they put themselves to bed every night. We let them roam our yard (we live in the country on 2 acres) until we brought home Lewis. Now they’re behind a new fence (not the one you see here.) Here they were eating squash. They also love cucumbers, watermelon, and raisins.

After all this, I don’t know what I’m going to do if we ever go on vacation! Well, my kids have enough friends, I’m sure we’ll find someone to house sit. Our pets tend to be very spoiled. 

And because I called this post “Children & Pets” I have one more picture for your enjoyment, taken nearly three years ago when my sons were 7 and 4. Right after we bought a new, front-loading washing machine …


I’m at a volleyball tournament all day and won’t be able to comment until tonight, but tell us about your newest addition to your family, canine, feline, fowl or human!


23 thoughts on “Children & Pets

  1. Tom Mueller

    Thank you for sharing some loves of your lives. In addition to being a bibliophile (some say bibliomaniac; a librarian to boot), I am an animal lover. I am a co-founder of Saint Karma's Dog Rescue, along with my Daughter. Our focus is primarily those who are truly in need, gravitating towards Seniors looking for their Perfect Furever Homes.
    Wish me luck on winning your newest ARC. I look forward to all of our upcoming work.
    Thanks for all you do.

  2. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Allison

    Those pictures are too damn cute – particularly the one of Nemo in the sink. We used to have Siamese cats back when I still lived at home, and I've owned three horses of my own at one point or another, but now we travel too much to have pets. We just have to make do with the rabbits, owls, bats, and red squirrels in the garden. <sigh>

    Of course, what I'd really like is a German Giant rabbit:

  3. PD Martin

    Yes, I love the pic of Nemo in the sink too! We grew up with pets but my husband didn't and is extremely adverse to anything that sheds, smells and poops. It seems we're stuck with goldfish (although they do poop, of course). Sometimes I feel for our daughter – my family dog meant SO much to me growing up and she'll never have that. The again, I am asthmatic and most animals set me off. Sigh…. And at least my Mum's got two dogs.

    Grace once said to my hubby – "I've got a good idea, Daddy. You could move out!"
    "Then Mummy and I could buy a dog."

    I think it's nice to know where you lie in a child's pegging order 🙂


  4. PK the Bookeemonster

    Love 'em!
    When my dog passed away in March I said never again because I didn't want to go through that heartache ever again. But we don't have kids and the house was too empty. In May we got two from a local nonprofit shelter. Ryker is three years old, a German Shepherd/Akita mix and oh so sweet and gentle though somewhere in his past there was mistreatment: he shies away from loud males (during the hockey playoffs my husband had a hard time) and doesn't like loud sounds like fireworks and big booming thunder. He's also an escape artist but we've Houdini-proofed the yard now. Coda is a one year old Black Lab/something mix with big feet and very tall. He had never been in a home before so we dealt with house training and chewing issues. They're both wonderful dogs and get along together. We're a family again.

  5. Allison Brennan

    We were looking at rescue dogs (my husband originally wanted a pointer, though labs and golden retrievers were high on the list) when Lewis just landed in our lap, through a friend of a friend. Fate intervened.

    PK, our dog passed three years ago and it took us awhile to decide to get another. Our kids were devastated (the first animal, other than fish, to die.) Curly was 15. We had her longer than our first born, so she was there from the beginning for all the kids. But it was definitely time.

  6. Gayle Carline

    I've never owned Labs, but I know a lot of people who have and I've spent lots of time around their Labs, so I'm going to pass their wisdom on to you. First, the shedding. Lewis may not be shedding now, but Labs are renowned for the amount of short hair they can deposit all over your house, your kids, your cat, etc. The Labs I've known shed A LOT, almost as much as my Corgi, and my Corgi can daily give me enough hair to build another Corgi. Second, it takes them about two years to mature mentally. So when the trainer comes to work with you, be patient with Lewis. He may act like he just doesn't know he's supposed to be learning anything for quite awhile. But he'll get it eventually if you're consistent.

    P.S. Your boys are cute. Who know a washing machine could fascinate so many kids?

  7. David Corbett

    As much of a sucker as I am with pets, dogs especially, it was your two boys staring into the dryer like astronauts approaching the moon that got to me.

    Now — get some sleep.

  8. Louise Ure

    All your pets and children are a joy to see. I'm still debating getting another dog. I don't want to be unfair to either one of us: him for not going out much, me for not being able to travel.

  9. Eika

    Give all your animals a pat from me (and ruffle the boy's hair, if they're the sort that won't protest it).

    For Christmas, I got three fish. I honestly wasn't too happy about it– I'm in college, and they're nice to look at, but I can't really get attached to them– but now I'm kinda… I don't know. I smile when I watch them. Or the one remaining, anyway.

    Yeah, our animals are pretty well-established by now. Peeper the Parakeet has his wings clipped for the summer, so we don't lose him out the screen door, and can now say 'pretty bird'; we've had him since March last year. But again, at college and he's at home, so I can't consider him mine.

    I DO consider Cooper mine. December 28 my senior year of high school, we got a phone call: some friends who bred their dogs had 11 golden retriever puppies, purebred, and couldn't find homes for three. Yes, they know mom doesn't want another dog, but they know we're good owners, and they're pulling up the street with a puppy in the back seat right now… yeah, Cooper is my dog. I don't think we have any pictures of when he was falling asleep on my feet while I sat on the floor reading, or when he got bigger and fell asleep lying across my legs, or even now when I'll sit on the floor first thing after coming home, and, after much petting, he'll flop down and snuggle next to me so as much of him is in contact with me as possible. 108 pounds of golden lapdog, and still acts like a puppy sometimes.

  10. lil Gluckstern

    Love the picture of your boys; they are entranced. I love animals, but I am down to one cat who walks with me, talks to me when she is upset, and currently treating my studio as a gymkana (sp?) Your dog is beautiful, and it is hard not to laugh at their antics, which makes training harder. I don't want to talk about shedding 😉

  11. Fran

    Our two cats, after about seven years of living with us, have finally morphed into cuddle-kitties, which is what we wanted in the first place. The Maine coon cross is still a total whack-job and is terrified of air, but when things are quiet he cuddles, and the American bobtail has gone from Pretty Princess-hood to sweet thing, which is oddly terrifying.

    But man, I miss having dogs. In a big, bad, nasty way I miss having dogs. Sadly, with what happened to our Malamute cross, though, I don't trust our neighborhood so until we can move, no dogs for us.

    So thank you for sharing your pictures and stories. If I have to live vicariously, this is the way to do it!

  12. Reine

    Allison, I love your pictures! Thank you for making the morning fun!

    Here are a few of my own. One of Buffalo, my 25lb Maine Coon Cat, laying claim to my emergency back-up wheelchair. One of my service dog Kendall– before I rescued him from embarrassing wealth and a life of leisure in Scottsdale. Several other randoms.

    Zoë! Wow! Are those bunnies really real???? OMG!

  13. Allison Davis

    At one point in my life, I had three dogs, five cats and two horses…and the dogs were labs and they shed like crazy, I hate to break the news to you. Now I am down to four cats (the oldest dog, the granddaughter still living is next door with my brother who's schedule is more conducive to an older dog), which is plenty. I really want another dog but I travel so much for work, it'd be terrible…something to look forward to when I don't have to do this anymore. Lab puppies will chew up everything for about 18 months, then you should be ok….there are a lot of chickens in SF proper now, it's the new cool pet. No roosters though are allowed. Chickens are hilarious. You eat less chicken though once you get to know them sell as pets.

  14. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Reine

    Oh yes, they're real. There's one locally we've seen and he's huge. Think Wallace & Gromit – Curse of the WereRabbit … ;-]

  15. Allison Brennan

    Zoe, we had a bunch of baby bunnies in our yard. The smart one ended up living behind the chicken coop until he was grown — lots of good food! I don't think I could handle one of those giant rabbits, however …

    Reine, I love maine coon cats 🙂

    Alafair, I had that posted on my FB page, I think you commented … I think they'll get along, it's just the intro stage I'm nervous about!

  16. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Cute, cute, cute. Those cats crack me up. And the kids are adorable.
    I spent a really wonderful day today with my wife, two boys and our labradoodle, Mollie. It was a perfect day. By the beach, drinking beer, eating tapas, playing with other peoples' dogs and kids. Perfect.

  17. Catherine

    My youngest daughter, Ash has a red border collie called Bart. Bart was a farm dog who was hopeless at herding sheep and ended up tied up a lot till my daughter adopted him. Now he's a city dog who usually gets plenty of long walks, plays at the dog park with dogs he deems worthy of note and love. Lots of love.

    Ash has had a gig once a week lately in addition to her day job. I've been dog sitting sometimes while she's out playing bass. Bart usually is happy with any attention paid to him and then trots off to sleep.I think he's been feeling a little bitter lately though as on my latest visit, he for the first time pursued a campaign of destruction on Ash's stocking and socks. Luckily no hosiery was caught in his system…

    On my next dog sitting mission I plan to take him for an additional walk before bed and remove anything shreddable from his reach just in case. Life is rarely dull with animals.

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