Spread the Love: Pet Edition

Long before I was a mom to my 14-month-old little girl, I was a mom to a furry, silly, sleepy, occasionally annoying fur baby, Charlie.  He was my “guinea pig” child, and he taught my husband and I to think about someone besides ourselves.  When thinking about what to write for our “Spread The Love” series, it didn’t take me long to decide that I wanted to share about my special guy and how I came to be his momma.

When growing up, I often asked/begged for a dog, and although we lived in the country, it never happened for me.  I’m sure it wasn’t surprising for many, including my then-fiance, that the first time I had a “dog friendly” apartment I jumped at the chance to own a dog!  I took my disgust with shedding into account when looking for the right little buddy, and I often combed petfinder.com looking for a sweet, small (per my apartment’s guidelines), non-shedding friend.

One evening I came across a picture and description of an approximately ten-month-old llasa apso/poodle mix, which was a mix I had been keeping an eye out for.  I’m not sure what drew me to little “Richie,” as his picture was less than impressive. 

In fact, my husband Tom told me I was crazy for being interested in him.

He was matted and had clearly never been groomed.  The exceptions were his face and back left leg, which had been shaved.  I can imagine that his face was shaved due to extreme matting and to allow him to see.  I wish the same was true for his leg.  “Richie” had been found in the woods off Forevergreen Rd. in North Liberty by a man’s dogs who heard him whimpering under a tree with a broken leg.  Based on some other abrasions, it is believed he was thrown from a car and broke his leg.  He was out on his own long enough that he was thin (although it is possible he wasn’t well-fed prior to being tossed) and the leg had “healed” broken.

When the shelter told me this story, I wanted “Richie” that much more.  He was ugly, that’s for sure.  He was thin.  He tended to pull on the leash.  He still had to do a bit of doggie physical therapy, as he was recovering from surgery for the leg break.  However, he was housebroken, sweet, and a young dog.  It wasn’t too difficult of a decision for me.  After completing the necessary paperwork, he was mine!  One quick name change later, Charlie rode home with me. 

Now, over three years later, it is hard to imagine our house without him!

Charlie blog

Charlie was my first baby.  I have helped figure out/deal with his allergies, drive him to grooming appointments, and give him his medicine.  I soak his sore feet in his highly-allergic times of the year, make sure he faces forward in the car so he doesn’t get car sick, and snuggle him when is scared of noises outside. 

Do I have a bit of a high-maintenance dog? Sure do. Would I change him? Nope!

I know there are a few animal lovers I have to thank for getting my Charlie to me.  The no-kill shelter where I got him no longer exists, but without it I’m sure Charlie would have been put down.  Had that gentleman not followed his dogs into the woods and taken the time to rescue the little guy, who knows how much longer he would have made it?  Had the West Branch Animal Clinic not taken the time to fix this little stray’s leg, how could Charlie chase those rabbits he loves to hate?  All those individuals knew how to “spread the love” and had a big part in getting my fur baby to me.

So how can we all “spread the love”?  We are lucky that Iowa City is a pet-friendly community, and we also have an animal shelter just outside of town.  Whether you or your children like to walk dogs, you have some extra dog food lying around, or you are interested in getting a new family member, I encourage you to “spread the love” and help out an animal.  I have included a link to the Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center’s list of needed items. Check it out, and if you have the means, definitely spread the love!


Lana Criswell is a born and bred Hawkeye fan who has lived in Iowa City for almost ten years! She came for college and never looked back. Lana has been married to her husband, Tom, for two years and is momma to Jessa (3.5 months) and Charlie, the dog. She finished graduate school nearly four years ago in speech-language pathology and works at Children’s Center for Therapy in Iowa City. She is excited to be able to work 80% time now and have some “girl time” with Jessa each week. Lana loves spending time with family and friends, cooking/baking, going to Hawkeye games, going on walks around the neighborhood with the dog, and reading.


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