Meet the new member of my family: Olivia Marjo

Between Christmas celebrating and surprises, and an eventful 2018 so far, I have ignored my blog. My apologies! Allow me to share who has kept me occupied and I am sure the reason for my distraction will be understood.

On December 20th (the same day I last posted a blog, as it turned out) I received one of the biggest surprises of my life in the form of a gift which is, hands-down, in my top five best ever. Here is how the surprise portion played out: That morning my husband and I drove to Louisville to do a bit of Christmas shopping. While he waited in the car, I dashed into one store to grab a particular item that was being held for me. Jumping back into the car, I initially didn’t pay close attention to who he was talking to on his cell phone. Until he said, “So, you have puppies we can come see today? Yes, 3 PM will work just fine.” He said a bit more to the lady who breeds miniature poodles but, in truth, I can’t remember because I was so stunned. Soon thereafter I was in tears and cried for close to an hour.

I know that sounds rather dramatic, but this particular dog has been a long-held dream that I had given up hope of ever coming true. Seriously, no joke, I have waited over three decades for a lap dog to call my own. It is a convoluted story of not having a yard, choosing the wrong dog, busy having babies, moving, and other real-life obstacles. For around thirteen years we owned two dogs — a Shih-Tzu and an Airedale Terrier adopted as puppies days apart — but they bonded with each other so the Shih-Tzu never became the indoor, cuddly lap dog I intended. We also had a cat who sadly developed severe health issues which were quite traumatizing, a gecko, two rats, probably a hundred fish over the years, and even a thriving ant farm. All were precious members of our family (some more than others) and making the decisions to let them go was difficult, particularly our dogs. Pets are a tremendous responsibility, an emotional and financial investment, and loads of work. My husband wasn’t keen on going through all of that again with a dog. I understood his feelings but the deepest desire of my heart to be “mommy” to a little dog continued to weigh upon me. To be perfectly honest, I had unhappily resigned myself to never having my dream realized. So much so that we no longer discussed the matter. Hence my absolute shock and overwhelmed emotions at that phone conversation!

Adopting a new puppy really isn’t an action to do on a whim. Then again, we had owned dogs in the past and I had thought of being a dog owner again so many times that I was ready to meet the challenge. Besides, I wasn’t about to refuse the best Christmas gift my husband had ever given me! In our enthusiasm, we moved our appointment up, so by 2 pm, I was sitting on the floor with five adorable, lively puppies frolicking around me. Oh, it was a tough decision! I expected one of them to grab my attention with some sort of cosmic connection. LOL! In the end, was an eeny, meeny, miny, moe decision as they were ALL tugging upon my heart, but we both adored one little girl’s big brown eyes and colorful face. The pic to the right is our first trip to Petsmart, minutes after leaving the breeder’s house. Naturally, her first toy had to be Mickey Mouse!

For a whole day, our new puppy did not have a name. We narrowed the list as we tried various names, eventually deciding upon Olivia Marjo. Olivia is simply a name I have always liked and felt like it fit her. Marjo is an homage to my mother, Marjorie Jo. My mom was a complete “dog person” who for literally as far back as my memory goes always had a small dog plastered to her side. If ever there was a lapdog whisperer, it was my mom! LOL! The sweet vision of her devoted canine companions — the first (Gidget) living close to twenty years and the last (Cricket) dying from grief less than a year after my mom passed in 2009 — has been a mental image I clung to and yearned for myself. No animal on earth loves as profoundly as a canine and now I know that feeling as well.

Olivia Marjo was born on July 2, so she is now almost seven months old. We have had her in our family for just over a month and it has kept us busy but been absolutely wonderful! Bringing a new puppy into one’s house with the Christmas season in full swing was challenging. She didn’t know what to think of the lights, constant activity, and introductions to so many new people. My party and baking plans had to be curtailed to a degree (not as many cookie batches or fancy appetizer displays) and I took the decorations down a lot sooner than I usually do. Yet, even with all of those upsets, we managed quite well. Below are a few photos from the holiday and a super cute video clip of Olivia “singing” along with my son-in-law Neil.

Olivia helping me wrap presents.
Sitting in mom’s lap wearing her poinsettia collar and playing with Rudolph.
Olivia with her human sister Emily, who gifted with a Snoopy toy.
Olivia with her upstairs toys. She has more in the basement where my office is!

I can adamantly assure that 2018 has begun on a soaring note. We are having SO much fun with our little furbaby! She is a true joy. My husband Steve has a blast playing with her. The two of them have developed a routine of serious play each morning and evening. She now has so many toys that we are rotating them to avoid boredom!

Kentucky got hit with a cold spell and nearly a foot of snow during the second week of January. I wasn’t too happy, being a person who hates the cold, but Olivia had so much fun! She seemed impervious to the cold, although I took no chances and bought her several warm coats. Whichever one she was wearing, she barreled through the drifts and tunneled deep to reach the grass underneath. It was hilarious to watch, a good thing as laughter kept me warm.

Olivia in her snow gear and me in mine.
Wearing her pink snow suit.
After burrowing tunnels in the snow.

The snow has melted thank goodness. The cold remains but it is tolerable so I can stay out longer and allow her to romp through the tall grass bordering our backyard and the golf course. She is a cross between a jack-rabbit and a bloodhound. We tease that she is searching for truffles (a trait bred into poodles centuries ago) but, alas, she has yet to find any amongst the worms, dead leaves, and rabbit droppings!

Two weeks ago we began training classes at the Petsmart in Louisville. So far so good! She has almost mastered SIT, STAND, LAY DOWN, COME (handy when distracted in the out-of-doors), WATCH ME, LEAVE IT (gradually the smelly socks are being left unmolested) and DROP IT. I have my bag of treats attached to my waist a good portion of the time and she will do just about anything for a tasty nibble!

Sitting at mom’s feet in the office.
Olivia in my office with Hedgie, one of her many toys.
In her office bed, with Lambchop, and playing with daddy.

Olivia spends the bulk of her time with me in my basement office. She has her own bowls, a bed to sleep in, toys to play with, leash and coats, and chewies. She keeps me company as I write and attend to other computer business but luckily isn’t too demanding. Not that I would mind overly if she was, but have to confess that her ability to entertain herself and sleep happily in her bed (or at my feet) makes it possible for me to get work done . . . in between trips outside!

Speaking of OUTSIDE (another word she recognizes immediately), the potty training is going well. It is a learning process, more for the humans than the dog. We need to learn her cues while being very consistent and patient. There were the inevitable accidents in the first week or two, but since then only two oopsies, and both were because we got distracted and missed the message she was sending. I am considering teaching her to ring a bell but for now the procedure is going well and we have other tricks to teach so don’t want to overwhelm.

So, as anyone who has ever had a puppy or new baby knows, a little one, with or without fur, keeps you on your toes. Yet, no matter how frustrating (and there are those moments), the joy outweighs by a hundred million percent. I am living my dream and it is every bit as amazing, fulfilling, blissful, and comforting as I thought it would be.

Thank you for sharing in my personal joy. In closing, here are three more pictures of my sweetheart taken on January 30.

Olivia with two of her many toys!
Mid-play with her daddy. Look how curly she is! SO cute!
Sleeping at my feet after some hard playtime.



Sharon Lathan

Sharon Lathan is the best-selling author of The Darcy Saga, a ten-volume sequel series to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.

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[…] Meet the new member of my family: Olivia Marjo […]


Such a sweet baby! I miss mine daily. All of my doxies have gone on after long illnesses but I just don’t know if I can do it again. They have such a part of our hearts. So glad you finally got your dream. Scratch her ears for me and congrats!!


How utterly cute! I tried to read this last week but it wouldn’t open for some reason, but it was ok this time.
I loved the video, was she loving the music or objecting to it? I thought it was really good!
I’m a little concerned that Olivia has no toys to play with and seems very neglected Ha ha!
Thank you for sharing your joy. 🙂

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