We did the coolest thing after school yesterday! Our local library hosted a session with Travis Potts, local “Spider Man.” Not the kind that swings from building to building rescuing damsels in distress and battling villains, but a hero to the public, just the same. He’s a tarantula fanatic, and he brought his pets to share with us.
I have a morbid fascination with spiders. I think they are super creepy, but, yet, I can’t take my eyes off of them. Kind-of like a train-wreck. And there’s Charlotte. Who doesn’t love Charlotte? Spiders are completely enchanting. So when we heard that there were going to be spiders at the library, I was completely pumped. Porter, my six-year-old son, was excited, too. And Campbell, my four-year-old daughter, told me she didn’t want to go, but I made her, anyway, and when they opened the door to allow us to approach the spiders, she shriveled and cried, but, because I’m such an awesome mom, I drug her in. Yeah, I suck a little. SPOILER ALERT: She lived. And she loved it.
Travis brought four live tarantulas, and we got to view them and ask questions.
He shared all sorts of information about them that I didn’t quite absorb because I was keeping my eye on the creepy buggars, but as he talked about them and answered these crazy kid questions, the spiders became less creepy to me, and to Campbell. Porter dove right in. He asked tons of questions, and then when Campbell finally let her curiosity get the better of her, she asked more than tons of questions. I think she may have driven Travis insane. He got a small taste of what I deal with every day:
Excuse me. How much venom do they have? Excuse me. How many spiders do you have? Excuse me. Do they bite? Excuse me. What are their names? Excuse me. I think the baby one is really cute. What is her name? Spidey? Excuse me. What do they eat? Excuse me. How old is this spider? Excuse me. What is her name? Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me…
My daughter is a total chatterbox, but at least she’s semi-polite. With the excuse me bit. The first question of hers that Travis addressed was “how many knees does a spider have?” I chuckled a bit because spiders don’t have knees. So I made eye contact with Travis to let him know that Campbell was so naive to ask about spider knees. How cute.
Travis answered Campbell’s seemingly absurd question and explained in all seriousness that spiders have eight knees. And, better yet, if a leg gets caught in something, they can purposely separate at the knee to preserve themselves and then grow back the leg gradually with each molt. Huh? Yeah, that’s what I was totally thinking. I learned today that spiders have knees! Wow!
Porter asked some really valid and well-timed questions. So between the two of them, we learned a lot. And then I asked some questions, too, like how he got into this whole mess. He chuckled a little bit and explained that he took his son to a reptile show about four years ago and ended up with his first tarantula, Rosie. I loved hearing how he just stumbled upon being the local spider man. He taught us about their warning signs…how they “kick their hairs.” Porter was fascinated with that.
The spider with the knees that Campbell asked about was his first, named Rosie, because she’s a Mexican Red-Knee (the official name to officially slam it home to me once again that spiders have knees). She was really beautiful, once you got to know her. According to Travis, her breed is one of the ten most docile tarantulas, and a great one to start with, if you’re going to go arachnid. We even got to see her feeding.
There were others. L.P. was an abbreviation for his scientific name–it escapes me–as well as being a “little Potts,” and he will someday be 12″. Wow! He ate a cockroach right in front of us and spun some silk to make himself more comfortable while he ate.
And, then, there was Max from Argentina who was named after Travis’ friend, Max, from Argentina. Max was huge. Impressive.
Campbell’s favorite was the “so cute” baby one who hasn’t been named, yet, because Travis wants to get to know her, first. Well, that’s awesome. Campbell took it upon herself to attempt a name, but I think Travis is looking for something more original than “Spidey.”
I am beyond thankful that my children and I had this opportunity to experience tarantulas up close. What was once creepy is still creepy, but not quite so much. Travis talked about how he can hold Rosie, and it made me want to hold her. And for the first time in my life, in the presence of spiders, I didn’t have the urge squeal as if I was in a horror movie.
So I asked one last question, which, is of course, the ultimate FAQ: “Have you ever been bit?” His response: “Not yet. But I know it will happen.” And it’s worth it to him. And that is completely awesome.
N.A.S.H.A. waits until the littles have asked me for ten things in a row. She lets me sit down for precisely fifteen seconds, and then she punches me in the leg. Usually.
Sometimes, if she really wants something, she doesn’t wait for me to sit down. She waits until my knees are locked, and then she punches me right in the sweet spot, giving me a dead-leg like I’ve never had. The girl only weighs eleven pounds, so it’s not about heft, but about perfection of the skill. She has absolutely perfected it. This happens on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times in a day.
But this morning, she took it to a whole new level. Not only did I have my knees locked, but I was taking that sweet first sip of my piping hot coffee. BAM! All over my face and PJs. (Don’t worry, I’m okay. It wasn’t that hot.) And then she sat down, mocking me.
Does your dog ever do this to you, or am I the only moron that responds to it by giving her the treat she’s asking for, reinforcing the behavior not only with my attention but with food? Because it’s so cute and smart that she knows how to ask for a treat. She has trained me well.
He got +2. He’s IP (in progress) in Spanish.
He’s going down. Mayday.
But let’s put this into perspective, okay? He’s in first grade. It’s Spanish. And he didn’t know there were hints at the bottom!!! He didn’t know! He said he didn’t know, and I totally believe him, because he’s rad, and he would have gotten them all, had he noticed.
So let’s look at the positives, shall we? Of the two he got right, he got 2/2 for pets. So, technically, he got 100% where it really counts, right? And he even threw in some French. Because he’s so advanced. You know…I don’t want to brag.
Perhaps your kid has grown and moved and left you with an empty nest. Maybe you no longer need a home office since that laptop keeps you mobile. Or maybe you just have the extra space. Would you consider a pet room?
Sounds like something for nutty animal freaks, right? Well, most of the people who read my blog are nutty animal freaks, so we’re safe.
My clients of nearly two years, Matt and Connie,* have just such a room for their two pooches, Sneakers and Lanie.** When I came for the initial consult, Matt and Connie showed me around the house and presented the pet room. I couldn’t initially determine if it was odd or fantastic, but as they explained the room’s features and I got to know how down-to-earth they are, I settled on fantastic. And now that I’ve been working in that pet room on a regular basis for so long, I give it a five-woof rating, and not just because it’s a cool luxury.
But it is a cool luxury. Let’s go over the features of this particular room:
• laminate wood floor: looks great, wears well, and is super easy to clean
• large crate: the door is always open, but it’s a small comforting space that the girls mostly use for toy storage
• toys, and lots of them: naturally
• ample food and water in attractive dishes: a must, as food always tastes better on pretty plates
• two custom potty pads: potty pads are held in place by frames and Matt cut a plastic “netted barrier” to place over the pads so that the girls would stop tearing up the pads. Genius.
• nightlight: to scare away monsters
• protective gate secured with bungee cords: to keep the girls from trying on clothes in the closet
• shelves to support small ammenities: help keep cords and things up and away from the girls’ reach for safety reasons. Adds convenience for their caretakers.
• treat jar: because the girls are so good
• disinfecting wipes: for those surfaces that need disinfecting
• hand-vac: conveniently located for light vacuuming needs
• boom-box: so the girls can rock out when they get bored. I’ve caught them a few times.
• blinds and fan: to keep the girls cool in summer and well ventelated
• two video cameras: so Matt and Connie can see me stroll in like a zombie at 5:00 a.m. in my PJs (that uniform is a perk of being a professional pet sitter). And so they can have fun peeking in on their girls when they aren’t home.
• doorway baby gate: Matt removed the door to the room and replaced it with a tall baby gate so the girls can see out
Whether you think it’s awesome or you’re rolling your eyes, you must know how happy these dogs are while their owners are away. They absolutely love that room! Though they are excited to see me when I arrive and we have a lot of fun together, they are happy as clams to go back in their room when it’s time for me to leave, and sometimes, if they are really tired, they’ll even spend time in the room while I’m there! The pet room provides them with a sense of security. They have plenty of room and more amenities than most animals I know. Lucky, lucky dogs.
Do you have the luxury of a pet room? I’d love to hear about it. I’ve one-upped the pet room. I have a multi-room pet house. My pets even allow me to share it with them.
*Names have been changed to protect the innocent from tomato-throwing non-animal-freaks.
**Names have been changed so their canine friends don’t make fun of them for being spoiled.