Happy Easter, friends!

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We hope you all have a wonderful day with family and friends. I will have a longer post for you all later. Today we are going to take a nice long walk on the beach before going to John’s family’s big lunch-time gathering. Then we will come home, pack up the dogs and their dinner, and head to my parents’ house for dinner. It should be a great day!

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Hey mom, looks like this bed is full. There’s a nice dog bed on the floor though…

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Hey mom, looks like this bed is full.  There's a nice dog bed on the floor though...

Lexi LOVES Zev. She snuggles up on him all night. The other morning she had her head resting on his bum while I was getting ready for work. Awwwww. Zev likes Lexi very much, but sometimes he is a grumpy old man and wants his personal space. And that is perfectly okay. He really has been a gem about learning to share his home with another pup. Lexi has learned that there are times when he wants to snuggle and play, and times he just wants to get snuggled by his people or hang out by himself. We are quite lucky to have found another couch potato in Lexi, since we have 2 couches that need to be kept toasty warm!

More progress!

Hi friends!  I hope you had a good week.  We sure did!  The dogs got a visit from our friend Lauren, who is home on Spring Break, and she brought the pups some cute flower strands to wear to get them in the mood for Hawaii.  Check it out:

They love Auntie Lauren!

They love Auntie Lauren!

my baby girl!

my baby girl!

Lexi has such a pretty sit!

Lexi has such a pretty sit!

This week we also determined the size of travel crates we will need for each dog and will be ordering them within the next few weeks.  I want to make sure the dogs are super comfortable with them, so we will keep them around the house and allow the dogs to acclimate to them before the big trip.

Lexi's idea of a comfortable sleeping position...

Lexi’s idea of a comfortable sleeping position…

Zev accompanied me to try out kennels, and he was oh so exhausted afterwards.

Zev accompanied me to try out kennels, and he was oh so exhausted afterwards.

Today, the dogs had their vet appointment to have the rabies antibody titer test done.  Lexi also got her rabies and distemper boosters, which will save us another visit in a month or so, and a physical exam since this was her first visit to our vet.  Lexi was very anxious and got herself pretty worked up, which included leaving a lovely “present” in the office lobby.  Once we were let into an exam room she began to calm down.  Zev was braver than usual and I think he helped her to relax a bit.  Eventually she stopped crying and laid on the floor with Lovey and John while we waited for Dr. Green to see us.

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Both dogs were very good for the vet and she worked quickly.  Lexi made fast friends with Dr. Green.  I was pleased to learn that she has worked with customers importing dogs into Hawaii, so she knows the process and requirements well.  I am certainly prepared, but it is nice to work with someone else who also knows the process well and can reassure me that I am on the right track.  There is a lot of stress involved with this process!  The antibody titers will be sent out to the Kansas State University lab today, and once the lab receives the samples the 120-day wait period begins before we can arrive on Oahu.  It will probably take 2-3 weeks for the blood to be tested, and we can check the results online through the Hawaii Department of Agriculture by submitting the dogs’ microchip numbers into the system.  Fingers crossed that all goes well with the samples.  We still have a lot to do, but we are definitely on the right track and glad to have a big, expensive, time-sensitive requirement checked off our list.

Lexi was mad at us for about 5 minutes for making her go to the vet.

Lexi was mad at us for about 5 minutes for making her go to the vet.

The dogs are really all set with the vet requirements until 2 weeks before our trip, when they will have their health certificates issued and a bunch of paperwork sent out to the Hawaii Quarantine Office.  It is all starting to feel so real!  Until then, we are impatiently awaiting warm spring weather!

this chilly spring weather is perfect for jammies!

this chilly spring weather is perfect for jammies!

Dad and his babies!

Dad and his babies!

big dude

big dude

So, I have a question for our followers and fellow dog people.  I am looking into calming solutions for Lexi for situations like vet visits and the flight to Hawaii.  I feel awful that she gets stressed out in some situations and would like to do what I can to help relieve some of her anxiety naturally.  I don’t want these experiences to be so tough for her.  I know over time she may very well overcome some of this anxiety, and I would like to give her some support while she is still acclimating to life as a family dog with us.  She is a good girl, just an “emo teapot” at times (crying, whining, working herself up to a heavy pant, pacing nervously, etc.).  Does anyone have any suggestions?  Laurelin used a Thunder Shirt with Lexi while  she was in foster care, but she wasn’t sure if it had much of an effect on her.  I think I might try using one again to test out in some of the situations that make Lexi anxious.  I know many people who swear by the Thunder Shirt for situational anxiety and nervousness, so it is definitely worth a try.  I have also heard good things about Rescue Remedy, a flower essence liquid that is supposed to aid in stress relief.  Also an option, provided that it does not contain any ingredients that could trigger Lexi’s allergies.  Does anyone have any other suggestions or ideas?  They would be much appreciated.  Only the best for this special girl!

Have a great weekend everyone!!  Hugs and kisses from Lexi and Zev, future Hawaii dogs!

Being Productive!

Hi friends!  We had a really busy but productive weekend, and I am feeling pretty proud of myself for it!  Since I made the official decision to accept the offer of admission at UH Manoa, the move has been all I can think about.  We started with solid preparations this weekend.

But first, a nap on the couch at Gramma and Grampa's house.

But first, a nap on the couch at Gramma and Grampa’s house.

On Saturday, the four of us took a trip to see our friend Denise Holmes at Dogs In Harmony.  Lexi got another box of The Honest Kitchen Thrive and she and Zev both got pets and scratches.  Lexi was a bit anxious again, and we think it might largely be due to the time of day we always seem to show up at the shop – right before closing.  Denise thinks that since there are numerous dogs in and out all day and leaving their scents, Lexi picks up on them and gets worked up.  She doesn’t do anything bad – she is a flurry of excitement when she first strolls in and always greets Denise happily.  But she quickly becomes anxious after doing some sniffing around and then promptly whines to leave.  We try to distract her with treats and attention, and it works for a short amount of time, so we will continue to arm ourselves with high-value treats on all outings.  Maybe next time we decide to head up there we will try to go at the beginning of the day, when there has been little to no activity there yet.  We will see if that helps create a better experience for her while she is still settling in.  She has been on walks at several different locations and visited a few other houses, but Dogs In Harmony is really the only public place we have taken her so far.  Over the next few months we will start to take her to new locations and work on having fun, relaxing outings.  After all, we will want to be out and about, confidently enjoying our new surroundings when we arrive in Hawaii!

After our visit with Denise, we took the dogs to Providence Animal Rescue League to get microchipped!  We now have one item crossed off the list of requirements for our move to Hawaii.  Both dogs were a bit perturbed at being at a shelter, and I can’t say I blame them.  Lexi especially was anxious as soon as she heard the shelter dogs barking from their kennels.  Luckily, the whole process was quick and easy and the staff were very friendly.  After handling the paperwork, we brought the dogs inside one by one to have the chip implanted.  Lexi was first up and came strolling into the lobby like a champ.  John got a firm hold of her, I distracted her with treats, and the chip was implanted in a few seconds flat in the skin between her shoulder blades.  Same thing with Zev.  He is rock solid in almost all situations (except at the vet – he is a big baby there!), so we barely had to hold him.  They stopped hating us a few minutes into the ride home when they got to stick their noses out the back seat windows.  All is now forgiven.  So, Step One is done and crossed off our list, and microchipping is a good thing to have done regardless.

On Sunday I brought a whole bunch of paperwork pertaining to Hawaii to our vet’s office.  I notified the tech of our move and gave him all of the checklists, forms, and paperwork I had printing out, as well as the microchip record.  I was able to schedule an appointment to have the OIE-FAVN blood-work done this coming Saturday, the 23rd.  Getting this blood-work done and sent off to the Kansas State University lab (one of two labs the work can be sent to) early in the process is definitely beneficial, as a 120-day waiting period begins the day after the lab receives the blood-work.  We need to arrive in Hawaii towards the middle of August, so this should give us the 120-day wait plus a few weeks of wiggle room.  Getting it all done early is best!  I predict that both dogs will be “emo teapots” (credit to Laurelin for this oh-so-true description).  The vet is probably Zev’s least favorite place ever, and he is convinced that there are monsters hiding there somewhere.  He is good about everything, but he acts like a big baby.  This will be our first vet trip with Lexi since adopting her, and from reading about her vet experiences in foster care I understand that she can be anxious about it as well.  I can’t say I blame them – I hate going to the doctor’s too.  We will be sure to arm ourselves with treats, and I know the staff will work their magic quickly and gently and have us on our way.  Hopefully the weather is nice out so we can reward the dogs with a nice walk afterwards.

big baby Lovey

big baby Lovey

Tomorrow, I am going to call Alaska Airlines, the airline we will most likely be going with, to go over some details and confirm their pet policies and requirements.  I know it might seem a little strange that we are looking at Alaska Airlines for a move to Hawaii, and it is.  More on that later this week.

I also plan on taking Zev on a trip to our nearest Petco in Warwick, RI to try out some airline-approved crates for size.  I have been doing some research online, but I would feel more confident if I could actually put Love in one of them to be sure of sizing before we purchase them.  Zev weighs more than Lexi, but Lexi is a few inches taller, so I will be looking for a crate with a few more inches of clearance above Zev’s head for Lexi.  Since Lexi is still working on her outings, Zev will go with me alone and let her know what crates he likes and approves of.  In a few more weeks or months (subjective to how Lexi is doing), we will bring her on a trip to a big store like Petco.

So, that is where we are in the moving process.  I think it is starting to sink in that this is actually happening, which makes me both excited and nervous at the same time!  We still have a LONG way to go, but we have a few small things crossed off the “to-do” list, and we have done hours worth of research on the remaining steps.  For now, we will handle everything step by step.  For anyone else who might be dealing with a move to Hawaii (or considering it), this checklist is essential for qualifying for direct release at the Honolulu International Airport: http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/ai/files/2013/01/aqs-checklist-5DOL.pdf.

Lexi continues to make progress and delight us every day.  She has been handling her meds well and her feet are slowly healing and strengthening.  We noticed yesterday that she rarely rests on her ankles anymore.  Her feet are definitely feeling better, and as they continue to heal we can exercise her more and more, building up muscle in those long legs.  We are also trying to bulk her up a little weight-wise.  I don’t think she is underweight, but she has been exercising pretty frequently so I have upped her food by half a cup per day to support her activity level.  I am really looking forward to hearing what Dr. Tapp has to say at her dermatology appointment in a few weeks.  Overall she is healthy and happy, so we are happy.

she is snoozing while momma is hard at work writing her blog.

she is snoozing while momma is hard at work writing her blog.

meanwhile, the big one is going ham on an antler.

meanwhile, the big one is going ham on an antler.

Phew, I think that’s enough for one post!  I will try to add some entertainment into the boring travel preparations.  Gotta keep the fans happy!  As always, thanks for following along and for your nice comments, well wishes, and support!  We love you all!

It’s Official!

First of all, prepare for a novel of a blog post.  I’ll treat you with a picture of the Weenie first to keep you hooked ;).

Hello there, friends.  Please read on!

Hello there, friends. Please read on!

Doesn’t she look smart??

Well, after a few days of waiting, deliberating, and weighing our options, I have made my decision:  I sent my Statement of Intent to Register to the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  A few days ago, I learned that I was waitlisted to UConn, the last program I was waiting to hear from.  While I could still be offered admission there if spaces open up, I also had a strict deadline to make a decision about Hawaii and had no way of knowing when I could be removed from the waitlist either way.  I still don’t know what kind of financial aid I will be getting from UH, which is a little scary, but I know most PhD programs in my field are usually quite generous with aid, and my dad has access to scholarships that we could probably get.  Despite my uncertainty about aid, I decided that this is the opportunity of a lifetime, and I cannot let this chance to finally get back in school slip away.  As my dad put it, “UH wants you in their program and wants your input and talents.  No other program has given you this chance to show all that you can do, and you don’t want to pass up the opportunity to show them what a great decision they made in admitting you”.  UH is a great school and they have a great sociology program, so I have no doubt that studying at UH will land me a great career in a few years.  Here goes nothing!

So, we are starting to gear up for this BIG move, which will happen mid-August, as I would start classes on the 26th.  I have done a TON of research on import requirements for the dogs and am prepared to follow all the steps necessary to get them there as comfortably as possible and avoid quarantine once we actually arrive on Oahu.  Our plan right now is to drive out to the West Coast, probably San Francisco, and catch a fairly short, non-stop flight from there to Oahu.  I think GoPetFriendly.com will be a great resource for planning the road trip – it has a cool interactive feature that allows you to plan a trip and find pet-friendly hotels, restaurants, and services along the way.  I am still researching airlines and their requirements for shipping pets, but right now it looks like Alaska Airlines will be our top choice (kind of ironic, since we are flying to Hawaii…).  They are one of very few airlines that have a pressurized, temperature-controlled cargo areas especially for pets, and the dogs’ comfort is our top priority.  They also do not have weight restrictions on the pets allowed to ship (especially necessary, since Zev is 105 pounds san kennel!) and overall seem to be the best line to meet our specific needs and give us some peace of mind (even so, I will probably still be a worried wreck – I love flying, but I know it will be a stressful experience for the dogs).  I plan on calling the airline this weekend to confirm their pet policies and make sure I have all the details I need.  Fingers crossed that we found “the one” to trust with our fur babies!

Our exact date of arrival in Hawaii is not set in stone yet, and actually depends largely on rabies blood-work.  Hawaii has very strict guidelines with respect to rabies, and the dogs will need to have blood drawn by the vet and sent to the Kansas State University lab for FAVN testing.  The day after the lab receives the blood samples, a 120-day waiting period begins before the dogs are allowed to arrive (of course, they have the pass the test as well, but I don’t foresee that being a problem).  If we were to arrive even one day before the 120-day wait is up, the dogs would be quarantined.  So, this weekend I am also going to schedule this blood-work and have it done soon, so that we do not risk cutting too close to the 120 days.  The import requirements are extensive, but I think we will meet all the requirements without a problem as long as I stay organized and pay attention to the deadlines.  I will basically tell John when we are leaving and what to pack ;).  Just kidding, kind of…I think I should double as an event planner.

So, now that I have bored you all to tears, enjoy a lovely picture of the kids on our deck this week!  Their wonderful daddy even brought their beds outside for them to lay on in the sunshine.

yay for warm weather!

yay for warm weather!

So, aside from getting the dogs (and ourselves) there, we also have to get my new car and our stuff to Oahu as well!  A friend suggested with ship most of our belongings through the U.S. Postal Service.  We will continue to look into our options and figure out the best fit.  There is much work to be done still, but we are off to a good start.  And we are so excited!!!  I am thrilled to finally start grad school in general, and the fact that I will be studying in Hawaii is just icing on the cake.  I think the dogs will love it, especially the weather.  It will be an adjustment for all of us, but I am pretty confident that we will all love it.  The Weenie will love living in a place where the temperature rarely drops below 65 degrees!  And Zev is pretty much happy anywhere, so long as he has his people, his Lexi, food, and a nice couch to snuggle on.  I think we can make do!

On another note, Lexi’s canine dermatologist follow-up appointment is on April 4th.  I am looking forward to meeting Dr. Tapp of Veterinary Healing Arts and hearing what she has to say about our special little girl and her allergies.

Zev is the keeper of my epic list of stuff to get done for our move!

Zev is the keeper of my epic list of stuff to get done for our move!

 

just hangin' out with daddy!

just hangin’ out with daddy!
Lexi makes a good bum pillow.

Lexi makes a good bum pillow.

Who, me???

Who, me???

Well, I think I have shared enough for one day!  Our epic migration has officially begun, and we are excited to share our newest journey with all of you.  If anyone out there has any advice or experiences to share, please feel free!  I am always eager to hear how other people deal with big moves like this.  Have a great weekend!  Hugs and kisses from Lexi and Zev!

 

Pictures Galore!

Hi friends!  We have had a lot going on with trying to make grad school and moving decisions.  We don’t have a definite decision yet, and it has been a stressful process.  Today I just wanted to take a break from all of that and share some cute pictures from the past few days.  The dogs are quite good at helping to melt some of this stress away!  We had a good weekend and especially enjoyed the warmer weather.  We are very eager for spring to arrive permanently!

Daddy and Lexi snoozing on the couch together

Daddy and Lexi snoozing on the couch together

Zev snoozing on his pillow fort

Zev snoozing on his pillow fort

 

then he moved to the other couch to nap

then he moved to the other couch to nap
and then Lexi decided to try out the pillow fort.  she approved.

and then Lexi decided to try out the pillow fort. she approved.

but she ultimately decided that my lap was the best spot for a nap.

but she ultimately decided that my lap was the best spot for a nap.

the froggie towel travels with us to gramma and grampa's EVERY week for bath time.

the froggie towel travels with us to gramma and grampa’s EVERY week for bath time.

my laundry helper

my laundry helper

helping (?) Gramma in the kitchen

helping (?) Gramma in the kitchen

momma's girl!  With a photobomb by Zev...

momma’s girl! With a photobomb by Zev…

<3

kisses from momma

kisses from momma

Thanks for following along, friends!  Hugs and kisses from Lexi and Zev!