Finn

Dear Addie,

Our life here in the Menzo house has finally started to feel calm, at least calm by our standard! We are well into summer now, and we have a “predictable enough” schedule – wow, that happened quickly.  Good job Addie!  Just recently, one morning while drinking my coffee, happily embracing this state of calm, I came across a picture of some adorable beagle puppies that needed a good home. My immediate reaction was “oh my goodness, wrap em up, I'll take them all!” not sure if you remember him, but our first family dog was a beagle named Jackson.

He was a handsome fella. We always referred to him as “young man” (even in his advanced age…), and told him how good looking he was even at the end when his years had really taken a toll. He was not only amazingly loyal, but also a sweet pup to our late kitty Annabelle. Side note: when Jackson passed away, Annabelle actually slept in his crate for weeks because she missed him so much. They really were BFFs.  Now, with the many memories of beagle life with Jackson flooding back, I decided to send the pictures of these little sweeties to daddy, so he could be my voice of reason and tell me what a crazy idea adopting a puppy would be.

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Well... that didn’t go according to plan.

Addie - meet Finn. Finn is the tiny, furry ball of adorableness nibbling at your feet.  Daddy clearly lost his voice of reason.   

I suppose calm is a foreign feeling for us anyway, so we were “all in” welcoming some new adorable chaos into our home. I mean who can resist baby beagles? Adorable!

It’s no secret we love pets and really feel that everyone (if they don't have allergies) should have one, or two, or three – ok, I'll stop there in case Clara and Gabe read this and use that as a ploy for one more!  VOICE OF REASON HAS SPOKEN ;) 

I’m a firm believer that having a family pet teaches kids how to care for, love, and nurture something important and if I’m being honest, gives stay at home parents their very own shadow and sometimes some much-needed company as well. Not to mention, I find they are the best listeners of my many one-sided conversations throughout the day ;).  Your dog Ruby is amazing!  Crazy, but amazing!  Hyper, but amazing!  Nuts, but amazing! Ok so those are probably all the same thing, but you get the point.  On top of that, she's very protective of our entire family, and particularly you - almost to a fault.

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You see Ad, Ruby & her siblings found themselves unfortunately abandoned in the sweltering summer Texas heat. We ventured out to the shelter “just looking” (ha yeah right - who does that?!) while killing time when Clara was at cheerleading camp - I took one look at that sweet puppy face and something told me she was meant to be ours! We welcomed Ruby into our home that day at a far younger age than most pups usually find their forever homes. She was abandoned at only a few weeks old.  You would never guess it from her 75lb self these days, but she could almost fit in the palm of your hand – her body anyway, she was all head.  With me not being a dog (shocker), and her life consisting of a decent amount of time hanging with you and me while everyone else was off to work or school, she learned to mother and protect as I would. Not that I would growl at people who get to close to you (like she does…), but she could sense danger and somewhat anticipate your needs and actions like a mother.  She really loves you baby.

Ruby has been our four-legged furry mother-like pet, protecting this family for the last 5 years now. Following your every move, even if that means climbing the playset slide, rock wall, or God forbid out the front door – she never leaves your side. She refuses to rest until everyone is tucked in and sleeping in their beds - including mommy and daddy! Not to mention being a light sleeper, she is ready to alert us the moment someone is awake.

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Having Ruby settling into this role before your ASD diagnosis, we found ourselves feeling incredibly blessed with such protection.

While dogs are often used to help those with disabilities or for therapy, unfortunately not everyone is cut out to handle a k9 companion.

A story was posted In Psychology Today where Temple Grandin (widely known as one of the greatest autism activists in our autism community, and a professor of animal science at Colorado State University) was asked about two twin ASD boys having a very different response to dogs and she was far from surprised. She went on to explain that in her experience, about a third of people with autism are unusually good with animals, about a third are terrible with animals, and a third, are about average. 

Interestingly enough, there have been multiple studies concluding that guinea pigs (of all animals) are actually the pet of choice for kids with autism. Clearly not as a service animal, but more so for mood & social developmental reasons.

Addie, could you see a guinea pig following and protecting you if you’d wandered away from home? Not exactly a picture I can paint, or perhaps it's just a funny one! No offense to the guinea pig community out there, but I’m kind of glad we went the dog route!  Haha!

So yes, this week we added an adorable furry friend into our bunch and welcomed Finnigan or Finn for short, our new handsome baby boy beagle. So far, you've learned his name, curiously acknowledged him, been surprisingly gentle in interactions and found that love for your headphones (or "headphone picture" as you call them) once again with your dislike of baby beagle howling.  Can’t hate on that one. Even Ruby who tends to be quite alpha towards other dogs has even been gentle and motherly towards him. He was truly meant to be here.

While the jury is still out on the role Finn will hold within our dream team, we’ll give up on sleep for a bit (who are we kidding we don't sleep much anyway), anxiously await who’s potty trained first (you or Finn-ha!), and hope that Ruby will see him as not work, but a playmate and companion which is well deserved after all these years.

If one thing is for sure, there’s plenty of love to go around, and we are very excited to have him.

Welcome to our OTOD Finn or should we say welcome to the chaos?

Love,

Mom