Well, I'm finally getting to some blawging since I've switched my site over to Zenfolio. For my first entry (that has taken me about half a year to start...) I'd like to spotlight a very special family, the Barbers. So, step up to the fence with me and meet some of the current crew (play the video below).
I met Dr. Renee Barber through a referral from Sara Epstein, owner of the former and wonderfully missed Z-Dog Bakery. Dr. Barber was one of my first in home session visits in 2010, and as soon as I walked past the white picket fence and saw this peanut gallery of dogs bounding out of the house literally rolling, darting, shyly creeping, and trotting excitedly toward me, I knew I had chosen the right niche and I was immediately in love.
Above: The first four I met from left to right... Bailey, Bumble, Jilian, and Hanah Banana Elizabeth Smith Barber.
Bailey is hell on wheels, and Bumble always keeps her distance as not to get stepped upon
The Barbers currently reside here in Athens with a crew of 9 dogs, 5 cats, and 2 guinea pigs. Right now Dr. Barber is a DVM resident at UGA in Neurology, and Jamie works with the UGA Department of Infectious Diseases. Pretty smart people... with enough research behind and in front of them to deserve a comedy at home! Anyway, what I think is so endearing is that most of their dogs have come from different shelters or vet hospitals with serious surgical needs. So the family keeps growing... and apparently Jamie is the softy. Almost always clad in colorful crocs (& scrubs), the Barbers sweetly match their equally colorful living space and animal activity.
A most recent family photo,
Chickpea, Bumble, Cindy Lou Who, Bailey, Spinky, Charley (a foster - white one in the back), Rooster, Felix, Flounder, and Gilian
Rooster (Cogburn) in his Halloween costume one year
Rainey Lynch - my favorite and most awesome and over-qualified pet wrangler, helping with a Christmas photo
Jamie always offers a delicious craft brew before and after photo sessions, this is Rainey getting shnockered but by dogs
I asked Renee several random questions out of curiosity on what life is like at the animal house... I'm gonna do this question & answer style:
Me: When/Where did you and Jamie meet?
Renee: We met at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Jamie had been living on a sailboat for 12 years.
Me thinking: (...and now he lives with on land with 9 dogs, 5 cats and 2 guinea pigs? Wow, it must be love!)
Me: Who were your first dogs?
Renee: Jilian and Hanah
During Hanah's last days... I was allowed to bring her a double cheeseburger which was shared with everyone
Me: In what order did you gain the dogs?
Renee: Bailey was the 3rd, Bumble the 4th, then I lose track.
Me: How often do you go on vacation?
Me: How do you split up the kids?
Renee: We split them up between people and one or two take to the kennel.
Me: Do you want kids one day?
Renee: Would love to.
(I always wonder this about people with lots of pets... pets OR kids, or pets AND kids, etc... regardless... I have a feeling Jamie and Renee would be excellent parents)
These are hats she made one Christmas for the dogs...
Me: Do they all snuggle with you at night?
Renee: Not really, they sleep in dog beds, kennels, etc.
(Would be killer to snuggle with all these dogs, but then again maybe not)
Me: When you lose one, would you say coping easier since you have so many?
Renee: Yes, it's hard to be sad when you're surrounded by so many dogs.
Me: Do you notice if they miss Hanah and Jilian?
Renee: No, I haven't appreciated that any of the dogs notice when one goes missing. They're very routine oriented and only seem to notice change if the routine is disrupted.
Me: Do they tend to pair up together like high school cliques?
Renee: There are definitely cliques. Bumble and Chickpea love to play. Felix likes Bailey. Cindy Lou Who loves Squid the cat. Spinky hates everyone except Cindy Lou Who. Rooster and Flounder are playmates but interestingly, Rooster hated Flounder for a long time and they just recently started hanging out together. None of them play with each other as much as Jilian and Hanah used to - they would wrestle all the time. Maybe there are just too many of them. Often if two dogs start playing another dog (usually Rooster) will try to break up the party. Whenever we try to take them all to Sandy Creek to run around and play, they all just stare at us instead of playing.
Me: What about feeding time?
Renee: They're pretty calm until dinner... then they all get separated, some in the kitchen, some in the kennels, some in the bathroom, etc.
(I'm picturing Shark Week)
This isn't feeding time but close enough
Me: What would you say about living with so many dogs?
Renee: They're a great security system! I'm always amazed at how different their personalities are...