Our new puppy
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   We call her Sweet Pea—named after Popeye’s cherished cartoon baby. She is our new baby too—though of the canine kind. A Brittany beastie baby, she’s got long gams and emerging teeth that pierce through every material known to man. I love the freckles on her pink paws. 
   Born April 14, Sweet Pea is more than a “bundle” of energy. I liken her antics to a whirling dervish; she’s fast and furious, leaping through the air in a single bound to land on a lap in the lawn chair. This dog has got agility champion written all over her. Time to get some hula-hoops.
   While Sweet Pea appeared on Popeye’s doorstep as an infant foundling, we spent months scrounging the classifieds to bring the right puppy home. We traveled over 200 miles to pick out and purchase our new family member and the timing was perfect as husband John was home the following week on vacation. The twosome got to “bond” and “Papa” named her “Sweet Pea” while singing the classic song, “Oh Sweet Pea, come on and dance with me…” Ever since, she’s been dancing into our hearts.
   We’ve had our beastie baby four weeks and we’ve battled hookworms and mastered potty training. Now, we’re teaching basic commands; she is rapt when you put that treat in front of her. After Sweet Pea’s third and final vaccine in mid-July, the vet says she can leave our yard and we can explore our rural neighborhood. Watch out world!
   John and I have had a dog or two just about all our 30-some married years. However, it amazes me how much “pet parenting” has changed. Walk into a Petco, with your pet in tow, and you are greeted by a line of adorable pink and blue clothing, potty training pads, open bins with treats that look like Oreos and a selection of toys that can easily set your credit card back a few C-notes. Don’t forget plush and stylish bedding, organic and natural food lines, photo opps and grooming stations that offer the ultimate pet pampering “spa” treatment. There’s something cute and colorful to lure you—and your pet—around every corner. 
   During a recent visit at the new Petco in Kailua-Kona, I visited with a young woman and her Persian cat. “Queenie” was in a stylish carrier and had just enjoyed a spa treatment. “We have this pedigree cat and we want to do her up right,” explained the gal as she pulled out a wad of cash. “Having her groomed is pricey, but she looks and smells soooooo good afterwards; it’s a must.” Queenie looked regal, but bored; I think she was ready to return to her throne back home.
   Our Sweet Pea gets a bath on Sundays in our outdoor sink; in the past we bathed our 75-pound Golden Retrievers using a wand attachment on the hose. We screw the hose to the sink faucet so the water is warm. A medium-sized breed, our Brittany will grow to half that size, but she will certainly outgrow the sink soon. Then it’s back to our hose system. When Sweet Pea gets muddy in between baths, we let her splash in a plastic toddler pool we’ve got left over from our other dogs. Her short red and white hair doesn’t shed—which is a nice surprise—so she’s a quick clean up. When we dump the pool and it sits upside down, Sweet Pea uses it as a springboard.
   I must admit that Sweet Pea has her share of pet accoutrements: she sleeps in a pet crate on our lanai atop a cedar-filled bed and she has a smaller “snuggie” bed for daytime naps. She plays on a clean sheet on the lanai. Her ample stash of squeaky toys is augmented by edible Pig Ears. She devours Purina’s Beneful puppy food; the bag says it’s made with “real chicken, wholesome rice, the added goodness of real milk and vitamin-rich vegetables.” We also give her a daily dollop of sugar-free yogurt I make for us—it’s good for digestion and the vet has approved, of course.
   I already see our puppy is no princess. All of Sweet Pea’s new toys don’t compare with my smelly, rubbery LL Bean muck-lucks. She loves balls, but at the moment, her favorite obsession is chewing on palm fronds after she spies them falling from trees. If it moves, she’s on it. If it’s wet and dirty, she’s in it. Sweet Pea is the perfect puppy for us. “Oh Sweet Pea, won’t you be my girl….won’t ya, won’t ya, won’t ya be my grrrrrr-l?”
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