I’ve not been blogging lately–in fact, the time before I posted the hip thing is the longest gap I’ve had since I started this blog. Part of that is because I’m not in my home and so I don’t have the same freedom to say, “Fine, kids, destroy the living room for an hour so I can go explore my feelings about backchaining behaviors.” Instead, I spend most of my days running around with wipes in both hands, cleaning swaths behind the destruction wrought by what seems to be 86 children (I swear, they multiply).

Part of it is that I find it very discouraging to blog without pictures, and my good camera (which was saved) really shouldn’t be used before it is cleaned and serviced ($$ we don’t have) and anyway the stuff that WASN’T saved includes its second battery, the battery charger, my lovely giant-capacity memory cards, and the card readers. So just to get it up and running again would be several hundred dollars. The only thing I have is the little camera on my iPhone and it’s far from ideal.

The other thing, of course, is that I’m sitting on a lot of posts about the fire and its aftermath, which needs to be discussed but every time I try I can’t figure out how to do it without the entire thing being a giant downer or looking like a money-grubbing jerk (since a rather giant check will–eventually–be coming our way, money that represents the entire contents of a home and 13 years of marriage but is still obscene to my mind because I usually get super excited if I can spend $25 to enter a dog in a show) because discussing the purchases we’ll be making or not making just seems unseemly.

And of course I’m trying to do my best to enjoy having only one dog (Clue) and not go FREAKING NUTS because I am stuck here with only one dog. I am getting seriously twitchy, people. Clue is doing beautifully and seems to be pretty much pain-free, as evidenced by the fact that she has stopped being quiet and introspective and has started chewing everything in sight because she’s bored and wants to go out and run. So the house is littered with bully sticks and beef tracheas and she and I keep staring at each other and I know perfectly well what both of us are thinking:

Holy heck I need a class.

Herding, tracking, groundwork, SOMETHING. But she’s out of commission for months still, and needs a bunch of x-rays before I can do anything, and even then I need to be very realistic about how sound she’ll be. So I can’t be sitting here jonesing for dog-related activity.

And yet I am. I am so hungry for a puppy right now that I can taste it. Even when I was planning to breed Bronte and Clue this year and keep something from one or both of them, I was still thinking about bringing in an unrelated puppy to give a third point around which to structure a breeding program over several generations. Now that breeding my own bitches isn’t going to happen, I can hardly stand it. I pore over breeder websites and imagine things and then tell myself I’m crazy because there is NO WAY I can get a puppy, probably for the entire year. But that doesn’t stop the itch, that’s for sure.

And, of course, we are getting advice from all sides, advice that we desperately appreciate and in many cases NEED, all centered on how we should address this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to (at least to a limited extent) rebuild our lives based more on who we are and less on what we could find or afford or tolerate. The money we receive for reconstruction will be targeted to an exact replacement, but of course it costs the same amount to rebuild a bathroom one room behind where it was as it would cost to rebuild it exactly where it used to exist. And we’ll receive contents replacement money but no obligation to use it to re-buy every stuffed animal and sport coat and umbrella we had.

So there will be some wiggle room and some decisions that we’ve never had the opportunity to make before.

Because we are in a category that I like to call “smart but not savvy”–Doug has a genius-level IQ but has to be carefully shown how to run the dryer, and will write down all the steps in a flow chart with “if-then” statements, and I’m not much better–we’ve been getting (and asking for) counsel on how to make these very practical and ground-level decisions. It’s a sad fact that we can develop cogent arguments about the tensile strength of experimental glue-lam strut construction but we would very happily design a house in which we had a 18-inch-wide hallway leading to a dead end above the deck.

Which is a very long introduction to the fact that the first thing EVERYONE says is that we should not a) have this many dogs and b) spend this much money on them. It’s ranged from as obnoxious as “This is your chance to get rid of those dogs and have a nice house” to “I know you love the dogs, but there’s probably not any reason to give up a nicer grade of kitchen cabinetry for…what is this thing labeled ‘dog room?'”

I am getting very tired of defending what I do with them and still getting looked at like I had just said I spend ten grand a year buying X-Men figurines.

So they would definitely not understand the idea of not only setting the dogs up like the royalty they are AND buying (gasp!) another puppy.

For that reason, I have come here. You all understand, thank God.