Hannah Drake

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Introducing Benedict

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As you might recall, we adopted a kitten and got a puppy in the same weekend that we moved to a new house. What a wild adventure it has been so far! If you missed the introduction of Eggs, our cat, find it here.

Luke and I have talked about getting a puppy for ages. We talked about it so long, in fact, that instead of saying “Jinx, you owe me a Coke”, we say “Jinx, you owe me a puppy”! I think we owe each other hundreds of puppies at this point, but we’ll just start with the one.

The first task was decided what kind of dog we wanted. My top three was (Mini) Australian Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Border Collie. Luke’s top three was Border Collie, Golden Retriever, Beagle, probably. Since our top three were pretty similar, a golden retriever seemed like a good compromise and it was certainly easier to get here in the UK than a mini Aussie. We ultimately decided that a border collie or a beagle would be too high energy for us.

Once we had decided on a breed (and a name—we’ve had Eggs and Benny’s names picked out for months and months), it was just a matter of timing. I searched online for months and was able to find a breeder that aligned with our own timeline of getting a house. (We weren’t supposed to have pets in our rental.)

We decided to pick her up on August 18th, one day after we moved into the new house, and three days after she was available to go home. We drove about an hour to get her that morning and then spent the day ignoring all the tasks we needed to do around the house and playing with her and loving on her instead.

She’s a really sweet, docile puppy and she took to the kittens quite well, mostly ignoring them for the first week or so. She seems to be a quick learner and very intelligent. She knows her name already. She always gets in her crate immediately after coming inside. She understands “gentle” when trying to play with the kittens. She understands “no”. And she’s completely obsessed with Luke. (Luckily because Eggs likes me a bit more than him, I think. So we’re even.)

On the bank holiday last week, we took her to a friend’s BBQ where she was the absolute centre of attention. She did so great, but it probably helped that she had gotten her first round of shots the day before and was still a little lethargic. Toward the end, she did try to eat a hamburger, but other than that she was very well behaved.

Of course we’re working on house training her right now. She’s not great and some days are better than others. She poops about half a dozen times a day and it’s hard to keep up with her! She chews on stuff that she’s not supposed to sometimes, but we try to switch it out for something she can chew on or play with. We’re trying to only use her name positively, which means resisting the insane urge to shout “BENNY!” when she’s doing something she shouldn’t. We have some slip ups occasionally, but overall we’re pretty good about it and she seems to know and like her name. (We call her Benny all the time, but that doesn’t make her a boy!) She also needs some practice on the leash, but of course she’s just exploring her new world.

Once we’re done with our biggest and most time-consuming house project on our plate right now (re-doing the master bedroom before we have a house guest later this month), we’re going to work more with her on training her for obedience and tricks. We have high hopes for her and she seems like she’s going to be a great family dog for us. She’s definitely a keeper.

Summer 2019 Highlights

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F I N A L L Y! It’s nearly September, and in my book, that means autumn. But before I move on to my absolute favourite season (sorry, not sorry, but the gloominess just speaks to my soul), I wanted to do a quick little recap of the summer, starting with my 2019 Summer Bucket List.

To be honest, my summer wasn’t exactly what I expected it would be a few months ago. We didn’t get out to explore as much as I would have hoped, but we still had a lovely summer, even if it was a bit on the hectic side, especially toward the end.

HOST A GARDEN PARTY

This one was a gimme because my friend Taylor and I had already been planning it for months before I posted my list. We hosted some ladies at Taylor’s house the second Saturday in June, but unfortunately the weather did not cooperate with our dreams of it being an actual garden party. In the end, it was more like a sit down afternoon tea, but it was a lovely and beautiful affair if I do say so myself. We’re hoping to make it an annual event and hopefully the weather is more cooperative next time.

VISIT ENGLISH HERITAGE SITES

We did see Balsover Castle and Ashby de la Zouch Castle, both ruins that were conveniently on the way (or just out of the way) between us and Luke’s parents’ house. But other than that, I’m sad to say we didn’t cross much else off our list (AKA the booklet we got of all the sites when we signed up.)

TAKE A ROAD TRIP

I suppose it counts that we drove about four hours to Newcastle, but you just don’t get the same kind of American road trips here. There’s less of the “open road” because there’s more traffic. And, personally, I’ve never heard of a novelty like the world’s largest rocking chair being just off an exit on the motorway here in the UK.

GO WALKING

I pictured the summer weekends full of walking in the countryside somewhere. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. Maybe this fall while the weather is still decent. Or there’s always next summer!

MAKE AN AMERICAN FLAG CAKE

FAIL. Absolute fail. I did attempt it this year, but it completely fell apart. A cake pro might have been able to salvage it, since the layers were just falling apart, but it was really hot and I was really frustrated, so I just threw in the towel. In the end, I just threw all the crumbled layers into a big container and Luke and I just picked at it over the next week. (Here’s a throwback to 2016, which was also a fail but apparently salvageable enough that I still took it to the BBQ.)

HOST A BBQ

Ummmm…I’m trying to think. I don’t think Luke and I did host anyone over for a BBQ this summer, but we did host a BBQ for two for ourselves one day when the weather inspired it. Taylor and I also jointly hosted a low-key Fourth of July gathering at her house. In typical British fashion, it was BYO meat, but we made some classic American sides (corn on the cob, potato salad, etc.) and luckily Taylor planned to make an apple pie so we weren’t completely without dessert when my cake bombed.

SPEND SATURDAY MORNINGS AT THE FARMERS’ MARKET

Sadly, this one was a bit of a fail as well. We attempted to shop the farmers’ markets a couple of times, but they either weren’t that good, we had the wrong weekend, or they were cancelled. I was really looking forward to this one, but we just found ourselves a lot busier on Saturday mornings this summer that we usually are—or at least the Saturday mornings that mattered.

HAVE A PICNIC

We didn’t bust out the picnic basket this summer, something Luke is probably quite happy about, but we did have an impromptu picnic lunch with our usual spread when we visited Ashby de la Zouch Castle.

S'mores

MAKE S’MORES IN THE BACK GARDEN

CHECK! We did have s'mores in the back garden once or twice, but we also head stove top s’mores A LOT. It was a good little summer treat for us that wasn’t too much and wasn’t too sweet. By the way, I’m fully #TeamReeses and I don’t even have s’mores with plain ole chocolate anymore.

ADOPT A PUPPY & A KITTEN

Honestly I didn’t know if this one was going to be possible at the beginning of the summer (or the end of May, as it were). But lo and behold, we’ve added two furry little ones to the Drake family this month! You can read more about our kitten, Eggs, in Monday’s blog post. Look out for a post next Monday about our puppy. You can also follow them on Instagram.


OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

I’m just going to start with May because we did quite a bit of summering in May. We went to Ghetto Golf in town with my work, which was so much fun that we almost considered it for our G date. We hosted two parties, a Cinco de Cuatro fiesta and a Game of Thrones finale party. We went to London to see Come From Away with Luke’s family. (Highly recommend!) My mom came to visit. While she was here, she and I spent the day in London and then went to Hampton Court Palace. On the bank holiday over her visit, we went to Balsover Castle. And at the end of the month, before my mom left, we picked up our latest foster cat family.

June was a lot more low key. We saw quite a few movies at the cinema. My friend Gennean came to stay with us for a long weekend. We went to Lincoln to see comedian Reginald D. Hunter with Luke’s family. We decided last minute to have lunch at a BBQ festival one day and it was the best decision we made all month! And of course we had lots of kitten cuddles at home.

In July, we of course celebrated the fourth with lots of British friends. I went to Winterbourne Gardens with Taylor. We joined a gym! I started re-reading Harry Potter for the umpteeth time. And we made a lot of arrangements for all the big life events that would be coming up over the next few months.

August began with my birthday celebrations. We went out to Lane7 in town for beer pong and bowling. (We went there on our B date earlier this year.) It was so much fun! On my actual birthday, I took the day off to basically stay in bed, read Harry Potter, and cuddle with our kittens while it poured outside. That evening, Luke and I went out for sushi in town. We had an incredible opportunity to go to our second Arsenal game together (and second this year, the first for our F date), this time getting box seats! It was an unbelievable experience and one we’ll both treasure forever because it’s highly unlikely we’ll have a three course meal inside a cozy box at a sporting event ever again. The rest of August was mostly taken up with our house and the new additions to the family, which was fun but definitely made left a bit more chaotic and busy. We officially wrapped up summer on Monday’s bank holiday with a BBQ at our friends’ house, which was also Benedict’s first party! (She did great and she was obviously the star.)

I didn’t take as many photos as I would have liked to have done this summer. And like I said, I didn’t explore as much as I would have liked to have done this summer. But it was still a pretty great summer all the same.

Now…BRING ON AUTUMN!

Introducing Eggs

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So remember last week when I posted about the Ragnarok Family and I mentioned that Hela had been adopted? Well, we’re very pleased to share that she was adopted by us!

After we found out that the reserve on all three kittens had fallen through, we considered if we would want to keep any of the three kittens to become our Eggs. I think we always had a soft spot for Hela, but it became increasingly clear that she would be the one we would keep in the days that followed. We let Furbabies know and promised to continue fostering her brothers until they found their homes.

We officially adopted her on 16 August. Originally, we were going to adopted her when I took them in for their second round of vaccines on the 6th (my birthday!), but they asked us to hold off until later in the week when we dropped them off for what was supposed to be a week-long stay with another foster mom. We were excited to be able to adopt her on the 16th, which is a special date for us (we met, got engaged, and got married all on the 16th of different months), but even though our plans ended up changing, we actually forgot to adopt her when we picked all three up from the cattery after a weekend away. It worked out to get her on our special date! So all of that to say, she’s officially been our kitten for 10 days!

Of course she’s been living with us since she was about five weeks old, along with her two brothers and originally their mom. You can read all about that in last week’s post about the foster cats. In the two and a half months she’s been with us, though, we’ve developed such a special bond with her. Like I mentioned in last week’s post, she and I have a particularly special connection, though she does love Luke very much as well. But the fact that she sleeps curled up on my chest almost every night! I mean, it’s what I’ve always dreamed of from a cat! Here’s hoping she just doesn’t grow to be too big if she wants to keep that up.

We’ve known for quite some time that we wanted to get a puppy and a kitten as soon as we can, which was basically the moment we bought a house since our landlord wouldn’t allow pets. (Shhhh, don’t tell them five different cats have lived there in the last six months!) We were really hoping that we would be able to adopt one of the kittens we would foster to really get to know them, start a bond early, and be able to see them when they were so tiny. It was complete luck that we were able to keep one from this litter and we’ve taken full advantage of having extra time with her.

Despite what other people might think, we’ve been keen on training whichever cat we get and it was important to us to choose one that wasn’t stubborn enough to resist our attempts. Like I said last Monday, Thor is never one to turn down a treat, so he would probably be easily trained with food, but Eggs has also taken to it quite a bit. She knows her new name—and her brothers know when she’s called she’ll get a treat and they will too if they come as well—and she knows when we’re speaking to her. The vet recommended at their 12 week appointment that we get her comfortable in a collar as soon as possible, so we got her a little plaid collar with a bell. It took her a second to realise what was around her neck and there were a few failed attempts to play with it, but she’s really gotten used to it quickly.

We’ve also been harness training her since the 1st. We got her a mesh harness that covers her chest and back and I’ve been working with her two times a day if I’m home or once in the evenings if I’m at work to get comfortable in it. In the mornings, I put it on her and let her just hang out in it. Usually, she sleeps next to me in bed while I read. As she’s gotten more comfortable in it, she’s become more mobile on her own and been able to wear it for longer stretches. In the evenings, she does a short stint in the harness, something like 30 minutes at the most. This is when she needs to “work”. It’s easiest if Luke is home as well because we’ll sit on opposite sides of the living room and call her back and forth between us for treats. At first, she acting like Gilderoy Lockhart had magicked away all of her bones and she would become incredibly floppy. If she did walk, it was like she couldn’t control her back legs. She would almost slither across the floor, low to the ground. But as we worth with her, she’s getting more mobile. We try to play with her favourite toy, the mouse on the string, while she’s wearing the harness as well so she moves completely freely and normally in her usual parkour ways. We’ve also started attaching the lead to her harness for one or two treats so she can get used to it as well, but more intensive practice with the lead will come later when she’s totally comfortable in the harness.

My goal for her is to be able to walk on the lead, like a dog would. It’s completely possible, it will just take a lot more time than it would for a dog because it’s not quite as natural for them. Maybe she won’t ever get there, but for now, she’s making great progress to becoming an adventure cat. She won’t be allowed to come and go from the house as she pleases, but I would like her to be able to be outside in a controlled and safe way eventually. After all, she loves looking out the window. She could live in that world, not just watch it!

You can follow Eggs on Instagram and check out more of my Ode to Eggs on her foster kitten post.