Miss Gioia

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Christmas Card Photo Shoot

Tis that time of the year again. Our photo shoot was much more successful than last year's attempts. Gioia is old enough now to be motivated by an ice cream bribe.

These are some of the outtakes from the session. We ultimately selected a photo of just Gioia, not one of her and Frankie. But it was a close call.

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fun With Momma's Hat

Step 1. Find Hat.

Step 2. Try it on as many heads as possible.

Step 3. Giggle.

Step 4. Chase dog around the house when he grows tired of the game.

Step 5. Give dog a big hug. Thanks for playing.

Welcome to the new world order (Sorry Frankie).

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My Babies

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Evidence That They DO Like Each Other

Lest you think from my earlier posts that Gioia and Frankie do not get along, here is evidence to the contrary. She likes him. She just doesn't want to hug him on command.

Perhaps one of these days I will get a decent shot. Probably wishful thinking, though.

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Attempt #2

Argh. I can't believe you are trying to make me take a picture with Frankie again, Mom. I am so angry. Watch me throw my Tigger. There - ha HA! I showed you!

So much drama, yet Frankie stays calm through it all.

Perhaps it is time for Plan B.

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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Christmas Card Photo - Attempt #1

Not happening.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

When I Get Out of Bed

This is what I see every morning when I come back from my shower.

On the days that I take Frankie downstairs to pee pee, we walk past the guard at the front door. There are three guards who rotate watch duty. One is very very quiet, barely nodding as we go past. Another guard is quite old and mumbles only in Taiwanese. We cannot understand a word he says. The third guard is my favorite. He is always happy and smiling. He exclaims "Mei mei!" every time he sees Gioia and makes her smile so big. Anyway, this guard, my favorite guard, is trying desperately to get Frankie to notice him. When we walk past on our way out or in, he shouts "Flankie...FLANKIE!!"

But Frankie never looks his way. I keep trying to encourage him to go over and say hi, or to even just turn his head and acknowledge the guard. But no. Apparently "Flankie" is just too different. It is hard to capture my fur baby's very short attention span.


Sunday, May 4, 2008

One Two KISS

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We all trooped down to visit Frankie in quarantine on Friday. We had six adults and a baby in tow, all coming to love on our sweet puppy.

Frankie really likes to kiss Gioia, probably because she is just at his height. She tolerates him quite well, actually. She is not afraid of him at all. If he licks her too often, though, she gets a look on her face like - hey now...

More Frankie pictures here.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008


He made it! We were emailed pictures from the pet transport company late last night, as evidence that Frankie had indeed arrived. Chris, Gioia and the nanny got to go visit him today. Reportedly, he is in very high spirits. But he was so sad to see Chris go. How do you explain three weeks of quarantine to a puppy dog?

The good news is that Frankie can have visitors on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Gioia plans on seeing him often. She was smitten, apparently.

For the record, I did not chose her outfit today. I laid out the dress this morning, but the jacket was someone else's choice entirely. Warm is good, yes, but matching is even better. Sigh.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Frankie is Enroute

Frankie is on the plane now, flying from Atlanta to Taipei with a refueling stop in Anchorage. He has a long way to go before he lands tomorrow night at 9 pm.

Poor sweet puppy.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Frankie Day

Four years ago today, Chris and I walked into a shelter in Chicago and found our first baby. We took him home wondering what in the world we had gotten ourselves into. He was skinny as a rail - so much so that someone admonished me to feed him in the first week. He also was nervous and scared. Perhaps so were we.

Frankie is in the United States right now with his grandparents (paternal), waiting until Taiwan allows him to come home. I miss him so much that it makes me weepy. His grandmommy sends wonderful email updates so we can know he is safe and sassy. Today apparently he sneaked into the car as she was getting ready for work, hoping to go for a joyride.

Good gracious, do I love my Frankie. See you next week sugar. Happy Frankie Day.


Saturday, July 7, 2007


We took Frankie to the vet this morning to see about his teeth. Boxers have bad teeth, you see, so we have to take him in once a year or so for a cleaning. We also brush his teeth regularly, as a preventative measure. Actually, Chris normally brushes his teeth while I sit by helplessly.

Chris has been worried about some gum inflammation, and we decided to consult with a western vet. Teeth cleaning for dogs is quite serious, with anesthesia and everything. So we scheduled a pre-cleaning checkup to talk about his issues (sounds funny, right) and make sure everything was OK before the real cleaning visit.

It is always such a big deal when Frankie goes out of the compound in China. First, he elicits such a strong reaction from people; it is always a surreal experience. Second, he gets so excited and worked up that he sheds like a maniac. We have to place towels or a blanket in the car to minimize the damage, but little white hairs still wind up all over our clothes.

Frankie did really well with the vet, though. He has grown up quite a bit since we first met him almost four years ago. He remained calm even when the med tech stuck a thermometer up his butt for three minutes. I wouldn't have been so relaxed if it had been me.

The verdict is that his gum inflammation is really a growth. Because Frankie is a Boxer and Boxers are susceptible to cancer, we have to have it biopsied. Odds are good that it is not cancer. We are worried nonetheless.

If you are so inclined, please pray for our sweet little Frankie this week. He will be going through a lot in days to come.


Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Frankie's Story

People are often suprised when we tell them that Frankie came with us to China. My standard response is - If Frankie didn't go, we weren't going. Frankie is family. There was no choice.

Getting him to China was suprisingly easy. At the time we moved, there was a one month quarantine in Shanghai, but it could be done in your house. So essentially we brought him straight to the apartment from the plane. We used Globy Pet Relocation. Best $600 ever spent. The US has no quarantine either, by the way, so returning shouldn't be difficult.

Once we settled in, however, things got weird. You see, Chinese people are not used to dogs. Not at all. I have seen an astounding number of grown men scream like little girls at the mere sight of Frankie. Dogs as pets is a relatively new phenomenon, so most people have had only intimidating experiences with country dogs. All this fear had led to some odd, even scary laws. For example, we are not legally allowed to walk Frankie outside during daylight. He must be licensed, which in Shanghai means paying the pet professionals $200 plus $250 in license fees to get the paperwork processed. If the dog is not licensed, then he can be taken by the police. Survival beyond 24 hours once that happens is extremely rare.

Less than a year after moving to China, we read news reports of serious dog massacres in two separate towns. There had been some rabies outbreaks, and the local leaders responded by ordering every dog killed - licensed or not, vaccinated or not. It was one of the most horrific, ignorant rulings I have personnally witnessed. We were very afraid for Frankie that week. But surely that would never happen in the big cities, like modern Shanghai. Surely.

Later that fall, we moved to Beijing where dog laws are much stricter. We were not allowed to live in the city center because Frankie is too tall; he is above 35 cm. Many people told us to not worry about the law - that many people keep dogs illegally in the city. But we are Americans, and we felt uncomfortable with the idea of non-compliance. So we chose a home far from downtown.

It was a good thing we did because, less than a month later, the Beijing dog killings began. Illegal dogs all over the city were ordered "cleansed." Some were beaten to death right in front of their owners. Others were taken away to be killed. Then we heard rumors that the police were coming out to our neighborhoods, where we were supposedly legal, licensed and safe, to check for big dogs. I have never been so frightened in my entire life. I spent one whole night lying with Frankie on the bed with my heart twisted in knots. If they had killed my dog, I would have lost my mind. Literally.

International pressure forced the President of China to reverse the death order less than a month later. It was an awful, awful time. Chris and I said that it was like Anne Frank for dogs, with everyone hiding their family members in the basement. Since then, things have been better.

Frankie is family, and I cannot imagine life without him. Sometimes China can be scary, bone numbingly scary. And now you know.

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Friday, March 2, 2007

Dogs Don't Like Hugs

Around two years ago, Chris and I saw an article that stated pretty unequivocally that dogs do not like hugs (not the same article, but similar). We looked at each other almost simultaneously and said... Mmmm really?

We adopted Frankie from the Chicago Anti-Cruelty Society in December 2003, three days after we bought a new house and one month before we got married. Frankie came into our lives like a tornado. He looked like Gollum – ribs sticking out everywhere because he was 20 pounds lighter than his normal weight of 65. He was anxious and scared. We thought he was deaf for almost a week because he would not focus on our words at all, too frightened to respond to audible cues.

In the first six months of the Frankie-era, things were difficult. He tore up our house when we were not home. When confined, he pushed the crate from one side of a room to another. Once we came home to find the crate (and him) perched precariously at the top of the stairs. I got several calls at work from my husband saying “Guess what your &%$@ dog just did!? I knew it must have been bad, whatever it was, because Chris hardly ever swears.

In this early time, Frankie really didn't like hugs. Here is a picture of me trying to hug him in the first week; clearly he was not really enjoying it.

But you know what? It got better. Slowly, almost without us knowing it, everyone relaxed. Frankie grew to trust us, grew into us, and now he is so unbelievably lovable. Last week, I reached down from the couch to hug him, and he snuggled right up to me, leaning into my side. If you stay with us, he will sneak into your bedroom and silently beg you to let him come snuggle. He is a bit of a slut, our puppy, wanting to sleep with everyone.

I have been thinking about Frankie's journey towards feeling secure a lot this week, primarily because I have also been reading about another family's journey to pick up their newly adopted child here in China. The first few days seem to have been very hard. The child is mourning the loss of her only known existence, her ayis, her home. We all know this is normal. During our homestudy visit last spring, the social worker warned us about how hard the transition will be. But does knowing it is normal help you to get through more easily?

Am I comparing our adoption-to-be to my dog's homecoming? Well, yes and no. Now don't get your knickers in a twist; I do know that the first few months with our daughter will be infinitely different – both harder and more wonderful – than the Frankie transition. But I think that our experience with Frankie can maybe offer some hope that things will get easier, better and we will become a family. We will all just need some time. And that is OK.

For the record, Frankie does indeed like hugs.

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

to blog or not to...

I have debated starting a blog for a while now, primarily because many seem quite narcissistic. Beyond the unwanted foray into focused egotism, however, I have been reluctant because my own attempts at journal keeping have never been too successful. My mom's attic has three or four books with a few eloquent entries in the front followed by reams of empty pages. I begin well, but seem to have problems with momentum.

Now, however, it seems that the idea of a blog is becoming more and more attractive. I am a bit of a crafty girl, always have been, and it probably is a good idea to keep a record of projects - hopefully not in a "look what I did- aren't I great" kind of way. First, a visual record of ideas, trials, mistakes, successes can help me to grow and develop. Second, I have done so many projects over the years that I no longer remember, especially those given as gifts. Perhaps it would be wise to organize and catalog the creation of these things that take so much of my free time.

Most importantly, however, my husband and I are in the process of adopting a little girl from China. In the very near future, we will need a space to share pictures and stories of Miss G with our family and friends. And while we wait, this may be a good place take a deep breath and prepare.

So for this first post, I leave you with a picture of my first two babies: Mr Frankie, whom we love deeply and sometimes allow to climb on the couch with us to watch movies, and Chris, my partner, lover, husband, and best friend.

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