Our original plans for Christmas were to go to Nashville to visit some of Craig’s family. His stepmother, Donna, lives there, and so does the rest of her family. They’re always a lot of fun to visit and we always have a great time when we’re there.
[I should step back and explain a little bit about the family relationships here. I’ve talked about Craig’s mom, who lives about an hour and a half away from us in Northern Virginia, and I have noted that they do not have a typical mother-son relationship. The reason behind that is that she is a paranoid schizophrenic, and due to that, she was unable to care for him for much of his youth. (I did get Craig’s consent to post this, by the way.) Craig’s parents divorced when he was about 5, and he lived with his mom until he was about 9. He was an only child. She had not yet been diagnosed, but in hindsight, it seems like everyone now sees that she was experiencing the onset of her schizophrenia around that time. When he was in the third grade, Craig moved to live with his dad in another state. His dad had just gotten remarried to Donna, who had a son, Geoff, who was exactly Craig’s age. In fact, the two were born only 10 days apart. Anyway, he lived with his dad, Donna, and Geoff the rest of his growing-up years. Really, Donna did more raising of Craig than Heide (his mom) did, and even now, even though Donna and Craig’s dad (George) divorced over ten years ago, she is the most involved parent in his life and they remain very close. His dad moved to Thailand several years ago, so we obviously don’t see a whole lot of him.]
Anyway, we went to see Donna, Geoff, and the rest of the clan for a few days over the New Year’s holiday since we needed to be here over Christmas. We drove there and back, and while it’s a long drive (11.5 hours each way) it was easy and uneventful travel. It saved us several hundred dollars in airfare and dog care since we brought the dogs along. I was a bit apprehensive about bringing the dogs with us, but they did really well, both on the long car rides and during our visit. I kept telling them how proud I was of them, because I really was proud! (You already know I’m a beagle mama.)
Donna has two beagles as well – Ella, who is about 5 years old, and Sam, a 13-week-old puppy. (They had beagles when Craig was growing up, so that was our/his attraction to the breed when we first looked for a dog several years ago.) Sam and her littermates were dumped at an animal shelter by a breeder who was having a hard time selling them due to the economy. (I have so much to say here, but I’ll save that rant for another time, other than noting that I certainly hope that breeder stopped breeding her dogs, at least for now! Grrrr.) I have to say, there is little cuter in this world than a beagle puppy:
Can you stand the cuteness?!
We were there for 3 days and 4 nights, and really, it was pretty much non-stop beagle mania. Imagine 4 dogs in constant play mode – running, wrestling, chasing, and so on! Even grumpy old Rocky was in on it, as his key play motivator is a cute puppy that could use some… ahem… attention. (Okay, he’s a humper. There, I said it. It’s embarrassing but harmless since everyone is neutered.) Macy was a bit unsure at first, and we haven’t seen her interact a whole lot with other dogs, but she got into it as well. I took some video on my fancy new phone, but apparently the files are too large to email to myself. (Note to self: Adjust video settings to make for smaller files.) The first night we were there, the beagle play was actually quite annoying, as the dogs were all still interested in playing when the humans wanted to sleep.
Aside from sitting and watching the dogs play – which was very entertaining – we enjoyed some quality time with aunts and uncles and cousins, good meals, a New Year’s Eve celebration, a night out with live music, and a showing of “Up in the Air” (which I highly recommend – such a good movie). It was a great get-away, and we really do hope to go back sometime soon.