Research Parents Should Know About!

Jun
12
2014
by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Kids, Parenting, Research Parents Should Know About!

Difficult conversation with your child

Superheroes with the power to read, salt and pepper shakers that talk and toe tapping strategy songs are a large part of my day. They serve as a means to help preschoolers share, cooperate and enjoy their environment that they are a part of.

So, how do we talk to kids about the not so enjoyable..the troubling and scary events that occur in the real world?

Less is more.

The best course is to answer the questions in a clear, concise way. Don’t offer up extra information. And for the very little ones, it’s best to shield them from what’s happening all together (an easy way to do this is to avoid having the news on when they’re in the room).

As kids move into grade school, they are much more aware of the world outside of themselves. They also have great difficulty understanding the distance between that world and themselves. How they see the world will depend on how we, as parents, help to paint the picture.

When it comes to the tragedies that they’ll inevitably hear about, it’s best to focus on the facts and what you can do to help. One of the workers at my daughter’s school lost a large portion of his family in an earthquake. We talked about it as a family and focused on what we could do to help. My daughter wrote a letter telling him how sorry she was and we helped collect food and supplies for the people affected. The worst part of these situations for kids is their feeling of powerlessness, so enabling them to take control by being proactive about helping is important.

Sarah Solves It

 

Here are 3 more tips to help you talk to your kids about topics you may tend to avoid:

  1. Listen first, then talk. With the less is more philosophy, listening to our children in an empathetic, interested way is of utmost importance. Find out what they want to know, what questions they have, and take cues from the way they are talking. Do they want a hug? Reassurance?  Answers?
  2. Be truthful, calm and explain the situation. If children ask about a specific situation, such as natural disasters, a good answer is: “Yes, this was a terrible tragedy but it is very unlikely that it would happen here. We prepare ourselves for emergencies such as these. We have a lot of people whose job it is to keep us safe.” Even kids as old as twelve need to be reassured.
  3. Make them feel safe. Many specialist’s believe that it’s better to apologize and explain if an improbable, traumatic event does occur rather than have kids live with the fear that something “could” happen. PBS does an excellent job of explaining the science of tsunamis, earthquakes and the improbability of it happening to us on Savage Earth.

 

Please share some communication tips that have helped your little ones feel more secure after a difficult time, because we’re all in this together!   

 

 

Jul
08
2013

Panic Disorder

When I was growing up, my sister would talk about things that would enrage her and then half jokingly say about me, “He just doesn’t care. He couldn’t care less”. That was my rap.

Fact of the matter is, I wished that was true. I did care..too much.

I was a worrier growing up..grades, friends, social situations, etc. I did well across the board, so I guess I did a good job of hiding it. At the time, that was something I thought I was supposed to do. Keep the armor on & keep barreling forward. Fortunately, unbeknownst to family & friends, I sought the help I needed after my first, full-on panic attack. 

This is 1 trait I’d rather not share with my kids, so I recently spoke with a good friend of mine to get some more info on the subject.

Subway by Paul Cooper

 

Barbara was on a crowded NYC subway 20 years ago and began to feel dizzy. She was a fun, free spirited girl, in her early thirties but she began to imagine herself fainting somewhere along her routine commute. For no logical reason she spiraled downward into the darkest, most unnerving place that she ever found herself in. She wondered what would happen to her. Who would find her? Would someone assist or take advantage of her situation? Her heart was beating at least twice its normal rate.

Drenched in sweat, she wondered, “Aren’t I too young for a heart attack?!”

The next day Barbara felt better taking a less crowded train 15 minutes earlier. With the feeling creeping back again the next day, she caught an even earlier train. The pattern grew over the years to the point where she was leaving 2 hours earlier than necessary to sweep her panic under the rug. Even though Barbara successfully graduated college, was happily married & had kids, there was an odd sense of impending doom that seemed to follow her. Mundane tasks such as standing in the checkout line at the supermarket or driving alone began to cause her anxiety.

After many agonizing years & thousands of dollars wasted on misdiagnoses, Barbara finally found an informed cognitive behavioral therapist. A recovered phobic himself, the psychiatrist eventually taught Barbara how to meet these bouts with panic head so that she could move on with her life. This was the start of her road to recovery.Panic Bttn

 

Years later, having learned a great deal from her experience, she decided to help others that share such experiences. Today she is one of a few hands on therapists that go out “into the field” with her clients to control their emotional disorders. I spoke with Barbara about this crippling illness which silently affects so many people.

(continue with this post..)

Jul
08
2013

Panic Disorder

When I was growing up, my sister would talk about things that would enrage her and then half jokingly say about me, “He just doesn’t care. He couldn’t care less”. That was my rap.

Fact of the matter is, I wished that was true. I did care..too much.

I was a worrier growing up..grades, friends, social situations, etc. I did well across the board, so I guess I did a good job of hiding it. At the time, that was something I thought I was supposed to do. Keep the armor on & keep barreling forward. Fortunately, unbeknownst to family & friends, I sought the help I needed after my first, full-on panic attack.

This is 1 trait I’d rather not share with my kids, so I recently spoke with a good friend of mine to get some more info on the subject.

Subway by Paul Cooper

 

Barbara was on a crowded NYC subway 20 years ago and began to feel dizzy. She was a fun, free spirited girl, in her early thirties but she began to imagine herself fainting somewhere along her routine commute. For no logical reason she spiraled downward into the darkest, most unnerving place that she ever found herself in. She wondered what would happen to her. Who would find her? Would someone assist or take advantage of her situation? Her heart was beating at least twice its normal rate.

Drenched in sweat, she wondered, “Aren’t I too young for a heart attack?!”

The next day Barbara felt better taking a less crowded train 15 minutes earlier. With the feeling creeping back again the next day, she caught an even earlier train. The pattern grew over the years to the point where she was leaving 2 hours earlier than necessary to sweep her panic under the rug. Even though Barbara successfully graduated college, was happily married & had kids, there was an odd sense of impending doom that seemed to follow her. Mundane tasks such as standing in the checkout line at the supermarket or driving alone began to cause her anxiety.

After many agonizing years & thousands of dollars wasted on misdiagnoses, Barbara finally found an informed cognitive behavioral therapist. A recovered phobic himself, the psychiatrist eventually taught Barbara how to meet these bouts with panic head so that she could move on with her life. This was the start of her road to recovery.Panic Bttn

 

Years later, having learned a great deal from her experience, she decided to help others that share such experiences. Today she is one of a few hands on therapists that go out “into the field” with her clients to control their emotional disorders. I spoke with Barbara about this crippling illness which silently affects so many people.

 

Thanks for talking with me Barbara. Since panic disorder seems to creep up out of nowhere to affect people, do you feel that it’s genetic, a learned behavior or what?

Personally, I feel I was somewhat predisposed to my condition. My parents were very overprotective. I didn’t label them as “phobic” but they had their tendencies. Thinking about it now, my mother & a few of my aunts never liked to drive. There doesn’t need to be a family history of socially induced disorder for a person to be afflicted with the illness, but I have undoubtedly seen a pattern within many of my clients.

So talking about it with one’s family is important?

Yes, but people are quite resistant to talk about it..embarrassed, which strengthens the fear as well. A person that’s susceptible to panic should really attempt to talk with parents, uncles and aunts to see if they’ve had similar feelings. There’s usually a common thread. See what they remember, even if they’ve never labeled it as panic disorder. Especially since there are so many undiagnosed conditions that people, not simply, live with.

I guess it’s nice to have company too..

Sure, it’s comforting when feelings can be validated. People that experience episodes of panic often think that they’re going crazy or are told by others that it’s all in their head, so “Get over it”. That’s why it’s so helpful to find a supportive group that share similar experiences. It’s really difficult to face this alone.

Panic2

Where do you think all of this stems from? As you said earlier, it seems to come out of nowhere.

While no one knows for certain, most of the time there’s a connection with a very difficult situation or traumatic event that happens to that person. That negative experience seems to trigger “something” which the mind has a tough time processing.

The 1st time a person experiences severe panic in a particular situation, it translates into extreme fear. The problem is when the person runs from what they THINK is causing this fear (i.e. public speaking, bridges, etc.) & the brain begins to believe, “I felt better because I got away from what I was afraid of.” So naturally they begin to stay away from that which they’re afraid of..strengthening the monster they’re running from. It’s a snowball effect. And just as nobody forgets their first sexual experience, the same is true with a person’s first panic..they NEVER forget it.

Are there any similarities among the people that you’ve helped with these issues?

To me, it seems like people that are more susceptible fall under the creative type. A lot of Type A personalities..control freaks but various professions: lawyers, quilt makers, doctors, artists. But ALL I’d say were high stress, worriers “what if’ing”. Worrying about the outcome before they’re even in the situation. And I’d say the majority of them are people pleasers.

Any common age?RollerCaoaster

40 seems like the magic number for some reason. Many have tendencies when they’re between their teens & late twenties, but they don’t seem to surface until they reach their late 30s. They most likely experience small episodes when they’re younger but they don’t know what’s happening. They have a difficult time labeling it or choose not to confront it via drugs or alcohol.

 

When someone is experiencing episodes of panic, what do you think is the best course of action to take.

  1. Exposure, exposure, exposure! 95% of psychiatrists don’t go out with their patients, but I feel it’s integral for them to overcome their condition.

  2. The overall goal is to know that the fear will not eat you up & you will get to the other side of the anxiety. I do this through small, manageable steps which demystify what it is that the person fears.

  3. Since most anxiety is anticipatory in nature (regarding some future experience), I try to get my clients to be mindful of the actual action that’s occurring NOW instead of obsessing about the fear alone.

 

Thanks Barbara for your time & expertise.

Anytime. I’m happy to know I can assist people to move forward with their lives!

 

If you’d like to get in touch with Barbara, send us your contact info & we can pass it along to her.

May
15
2013
by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Research Parents Should Know About!, Super Why!

SuperWhy

Reading

“Children who watched SUPER WHY! on PBS Kids scored 46% higher on standardized tests than those who did not watch the show.”

 

SUPER WHY! has been successful in supporting learning in a highly engaging environment.”

Children’s Media Lab
Annenberg School for Communication
University of Pennsylvania

 

Mar
01
2013

 nephewThis week, we’re giving you a behind-the-scenes look at an integral phase of development for Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood & Super Why!. I sat down with our Research Director, Rachel Kalban, so she can tell you a bit about the research process & her experiences working on the series.

Explain your role as Research Director & a bit about your creative process.

At Out of the Blue, we believe that the only way to know if children will enjoy or understand a story is to ask them! We start doing this very early on in the process of creating a Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood episode. The research team creates a storybook based on an early draft of each script, & takes it to where the kids are: preschools, daycare, Head Starts. We sit on the floor with small groups of preschoolers & read them the story, asking questions along the way. In doing so, we are able to assess if & how the kids are understanding & learning from the story.

The time I spend with the kids is not only the most fun part of my week, but also the most important, as the process teaches me so much about how kids think & process new information.  After each research session, I sit down with the writing team & explain what the preschoolers taught me: what they liked, or didn’t like, how they understood the story, how much they were interacting and singing along… & we then work together to rework the script so that it is both maximally educational & appealing. I use the information that the preschoolers give me along with my knowledge of child development to give notes at all stages of production.Rachel Kalban

What is your favorite aspect of “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood”?

Oh wow, there are so many! As a child that grew up with Mister Rogers, I of course love the nostalgia elements that are woven into the new series. And I love that we push kids to use their imaginations. I think my favorite thing is how we are right where the kids watching are, dealing & grappling with the same issues. I have had parents tell me that their child “IS Daniel!

I love that we take themes like not wanting to share, or feeling jealous, or even not wanting to stop playing to go to the potty as serious issues, because they are for these little ones, & they deserve to have them recognized and dealt with as such. We strive to do so with love & even some humor!

What was the most emotional moment for you while making the show?

I get very emotional when I get to talk with parents of viewers. When the pilot episode premiered, 1 parent told me she overheard her son singing, “Grownups come back” when he was put to bed. Another parent said her son now tells his friends, “You can take a turn, & then I’ll get it back,” (he, like Daniel, also reminds her ‘When you feel so mad you want to roar, take a deep breath and count to four!”)

I don’t want to say I was shocked to hear these responses, because we worked very hard on getting the ‘strategies’ just right & that was always the plan, but it really moves me that we have given kids tools they can use in these hard day-to-day situations.

Just recently, an aunt of a child with Asperger syndrome told me that Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is one of the few shows he is allowed to watch because of how much it has helped him.  The family had just been to a restaurant, & in this new place, with new people, he knew just what to expect, because he had seen Daniel do it in “Daniel’s Night Out at the Restaurant”. Something that was very hard for him just a few weeks before was now manageable & enjoyable: he looked for the waiter, sat with his menu, waited patiently & had a wonderful night – just like he had seen his friends do.

SchoolSure, I like hearing that we get high ratings, but these stories are the reason I do what I do.

 

What was your most embarrassing mistake while working on the show?

In the beginning I was always saying Prince Tuesday instead of Prince Wednesday & X the Owl instead of O the Owl.  Almost thirty years later, those original characters still stuck with me!

On behalf of  hundreds of thousands of children, Thank You Rachel!

 

Rachel Kalban is the Director of Research & Curriculum at Out of the Blue Enterprises, a leader in children’s educational media.

Prior to her work with Out of the Blue, Rachel completed her Masters Degree in Developmental Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University & held several positions at Nickelodeon & Penguin Publishing Books for Young Readers. Rachel received her Bachelors from Cornell University.

 

Dec
18
2012
by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Parenting, Research Parents Should Know About!

I thought crying after dropping our girls off for school was reserved for the early days of September.

But here we are today, aching after dropping each daughter off.

My heart hurts in worry and fear of the unmentionable.

My heart breaks for those parents who, unknowingly, said their last goodbyes to their babies.

It’s all so wrong.

My anger, so raw, as I struggle to figure out what to do today and every day to protect.

To prevent.

To trust.

As Lisa Belkin said in Huff Post, “We can’t just grieve & hold our children close. We have to demand that our country earn the right to call itself a civilized nation..our central job as parents..is to keep our children safe. Make your demands heard”

As Fred Rogers said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers“.


The teachers & staff of Sandy Hook Elementary are my heroes.  They saved lives and put the emotional & physical well being of the children above their own.

I dreamt of Kaitlin Roig, the elementary school teacher who kept telling her students, as she kept them hidden, how special they were.  She wanted those words to be the last that they heard.  Fred would have been proud. And in the end, she kept them safe.

Six other adults spared their lives for the sake of the children. Real heroes who fought against evil.

 

Is it even a question that assault Weapons or Semi-Automatic Firearms have no place in civilized society? Stricter gun laws & the removal of illegal guns from our streets would undoubtedly assist the situation.

While assembling this post, I  finger the serial number that’s etched inside my Caliber bracelet..the same number that was on the gun used to create it. While I’m pleased to know that illegal guns were taken off the streets and transformed into something positive (& beautiful), it gives me a certain sense of pride knowing that a percentage of the money will fund Newark’s gun buyback programs (& beyond).

Will the Caliber Collection solve the gun violence issue? If it were only that simple. But it is a form of ACTION that HELPS.

We need people who put their strong beliefs into action. Through Jewlery for a Cause, Jessica Mindich has raised over $300,000 for some 300 schools & charities..that’ll do more good than plain old media verbiage.

 

As I ride my train into Grand Central, I pray for the families of Newtown and the heroes of Sandy Hook Elementary.

And I pray for my daughters to be safe and feel safe at school today and every day. Be well

Dec
11
2012

What do we want for our children?

I want my daughters to believe that they can do anything that they want to do..within reason.  I want my daughters to learn everything they need to know to go out into the world and make a difference.  I want them to learn, 1st & foremost, what will make them happy. Especially as an Executive Producer in Children’s TV, I am uber aware of the influence that media has on all of us, including my daughters.

“Kids spend nearly 55 hrs a week watching television, texting or playing video games.”  -The Daily Green

What they see & hear truly affects their view of the world.  I give careful thought to even the smallest details in my shows – what the characters eat, how they feel, what they do, which character traits go with which character, and whether or not they should be boys or girls.  It’s important to me that we don’t show our characters eating sugary snacks and cakes for a “special occasion” because, truth be told, it’s always a special occasion on a television show. In addition, one study found that 98% of food ads seen by children on top-rated shows were for junk food  -Health & US News

We know that boys are more reluctant readers, so we intentionally chose our main character, Super Why, to be a boy. We know that there are much fewer girls on television so we made our main character, Blue, a girl.  And we made sure that she didn’t have long eyelashes nor a cute little bow. She is blue. And she is a girl.

But when I look at media as a whole, for my own daughters, I worry. As much as I can talk with them and model for them the type of women I would like them to grow up to be, I find that in media, women are still typecast in traditional roles, while men are portrayed as the more dominant figures. Women are stereotypically represented as dependent and emotional. Women are the mothers, and men are the bread winners. Women are under represented in television about 3:1.

The fact that a majority of voice-overs on television are male, that there are more male news readers on TV & that many of the major film directors are men indicates that it is the male who has the authority & the control of the world of TV.” -Elena Beasley

This presents a male view of the world. When women are featured, their voices in commercials are often used to sell products such as laundry detergent, diapers & jewelry. And it should also comes as no surprise that advertisers typically use women as sex objects to sell a wide array of products.

We know there are no limits to what our children can do. So why are we feeding our children the idea of limits in the form of media?

And what can we do about it?

A lot.    [Thanks for joining us Bonbon Break friends!]

 

  1. Model behavior in your own lives that needn’t be so defined by gender

  2. Talk with your kids about such issues when opportunities present themselves in your day to day

  3. Limit the amount of questionable media our kids ingest..the same way in which we limit the amount of sugar they eat.

  4. Keep their dreams and expectations for themselves free and unrestrained

And I’ll do my part by continuing to write strong, smart female characters that create their own destinies!

Oct
01
2012

Most kids’ programs today say they’re “educational” simply to draw in parents. But effective programs aren’t created overnight..& like modern art, just because something’s minimal, does not mean that it’s simple

There’s a huge amount of R&D that goes into successful programs. On PBS Kids’ Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,we set out to create a show that would make the tenets of our socio-emotional curriculum as clear & straightforward as singing the ABC’s or counting to 10. We know that socio-emotional skills are skills that kids need for life.   

But how do you teach through TV?

At the end of 40 episodes, we want preschoolers to have seen the world through Daniel’s eyes & feel what he is feeling, learn the words that he uses, care so much for Daniel, and most of all, comprehend, learn & use the strategy of the day in their own lives.

A lot to ask? Well, I’m the one who’s guilty of pushing for an entire kindergarten readiness curriculum for Blue’s Clues & to ensure that kids’ reading skills skyrocket via Super Why. So, I’m always up for a challenge. And besides, us parents know how smart kids are. If we can give them the information in a well crafted story that they are interested in, they will learn. A LOT.

The Secret Sauce:  RESEARCH!

The key to creating a show that effectively reaches & engages children, is to involve the young audience in the process. We test our episodes starting very early on in the scripting stage, reading a script with storyboards to our most honest critics: the kids.

In our first episode, Daniel and his friends set out for a picnic at the Clock Factory Park. They set up a picnic with a blanket, some snacks & games to play. But, alas, it starts to rain! Disappointed, the kids run inside the clock factory.

Dad Tiger takes his time talking to the kids, breaking down the strategy to help Daniel & the home viewer apply it. Dad then sings the strategy to drive his point home: When something seems bad, turn it around, and find something good!

Suddenly, all the clocks inside the clock factory start to light up & chime all at once! The kids have an idea as to how to turn their rainy picnic around. “What about an inside picnic, with all the clocks?”

Hurray, the kids are not disappointed anymore.

Rachel Kalban, MA, head of Out of the Blue research held many sessions on this first script. What she found at the end of the first script testing is that the kids in research knew, after one reading of the story, that disappointed meant sad. This result came from children who didn’t have any knowledge of the word beforehand.

Success!   [ If you've just joined us from Bonbon Break, welcome! ]

Excited about our success, we decided to drive the idea home. Since we know that repetition is the key to learning, we decided that the 2nd 11 minute episode in the 1/2 hour should be about disappointment, as well. A different story, but 1 focusing on the same theme. At the end of 1/2 an hr, preschoolers would have about 10 instances of “disappointment” in the animation alone, including a full 1 minute song that exemplifies the use of the strategy. This ensures that all kids would walk away having learned our theme & strategy. Because preschoolers like to watch shows over & over, the learning would only multiply after repeated viewings. In fact, when Blue’s Clues launched, the study by Dr. Dan Anderson showed that with multiple viewings, “comprehension improved, & children increased their application of a demonstrated problem-solving strategy to problems both shown & not shown by the program.”

It was important for us to understand how kids were watching the show in their own homes & how the lessons would play out in their own lives. We sent a DVD to parents of kids ages 2-6 & asked them to watch the episode over the course of 1 week. They would then fill out the enclosed viewing diary, noting how many times their child watched & how they were using the lessons themselves.

We were thrilled to get these viewing diaries back. Kids were asking to watch the episode again & again. And after watching this episode only a few times, kids were applying the lesson into their own lives!

Some of my favorite feedback:

“Even though it’s raining, it’s good because we get to stay inside & play Barbies!”  -Madison (5.75 yrs old)

Zachary was upset that the bubble bath dissolved and I started the phrase and he finished it, then discovered he could make more bubbles by splashing. (Parent of boy, 3.75)

When Tamar was drawing a picture she “messed up” something in her picture but then just changed it to something else, like Daniel did in the first story. (Parent of girl, 6.25)

Teaching disappointment was a strong catalyst to propel our desire to enrich children’s lives by teaching many important, but overlooked, emotions such as empathy, resilience, persistence, and unconditional love in addition to sharing, remembering to go to the potty, and mad feelings.   

Zach said he had an idea of how to fix his broken zebra and turn it around and make something good.  (Parent of boy, 3.75)

 

 

Sep
28
2012
by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Kids, Parenting, Research Parents Should Know About!

What if your Mom was forced to retire after contracting severe health ailments from the dilapidated school where she taught? While many of her coworkers relied on air fresheners to disguise the mold, most went home with the typical “2:30 headache” due to the conditions.

Rachel Gutter told us that this was what urged her to work for The Center for Green Schools in 2007 & to become it’s Director two years later.

Tomorrow, Sept. 29th, the US Green Building Council is holding it’s 1st Green Apple Day of Service, where over 1,000 schools across the nation will join with their communities for healthier, more sustainable space.

The Center for Green Schools is putting out a clear message that a school’s physical environment truly affects the outcome of it’s students. Once parents, educators & school officials realize that there are some simple steps that can convert their school into a healthy, safe & enhanced learning environment, they realize it’s a win-win for everyone.

“It’s also about putting funds back into the classrooms” says Ms. Gutter. A school in Kentucky learned that after calling in an energy manager to review their building, they would save enough (over a short time period) to keep 104 teachers on payroll that were about to be dismissed. Our children’s (& teachers’) health and ability to succeed should not be compromised as a result of situations that have solutions.

You can find locations in your area that are taking part in the greening at MyGreenApple.org, because we need to take care of tomorrow’s leaders today!

Aug
17
2012

[Follow up post to Are you Ready for a New Pet?]

One decision made: We are getting a dog! Lots of new decisions to go..

The kids want a small “cute” dog & my husband wants one that is easy to travel with, so we are aiming for one that will be no more than 20lbs.

My husband is also mildly allergic to dogs, which we didn’t discover until after our pug had been gone a few months & his allergies miraculously cleared up! So we need to look for a low-shedding, low-dander, “hypo-allergenic” variety. Poodles, havanese, maltese, shih-tzus, bijons, some terriers, & many of their mixed-breed puppies can be good for people who suffer with allergies..so we are looking for one of these.

We also live in a city apartment, so we need a dog that isn’t “yappy” that will annoy the neighbors. We all agree we want a puppy that we can train and love and watch grow from the beginning.

When we first decided to get a puppy, I was set on rescuing one from a shelter, but after weeks of searching, I quickly realized it isn’t quite that simple. First, puppies are very hard to come by in shelters. You should be open to adopting a dog at least over a year & sometimes even much older or of unknown-age to adopt from a rescue shelter. Next, you are often unsure of parentage, making allergen prediction nearly impossible.  I also found that in our city, the shelters were filled with large guard dog types..not what we were looking for.  To find a small-dog puppy with known parentage I had to search shelters in a much wider radius & they were so rare that several in a row were snatched up before I could get our adoption application approved.

I was even told by one rural shelter that they probably wouldn’t even approve us for adoption because they don’t believe that dogs should be placed in “urban locations” regardless of whether we were fit to be dog-owners! So as much as I had hoped to “rescue” a dog, we have decided that we were going to go the route of a breeder, which poses a whole set of additional decisions and a lot more researching to avoid puppy mills.

I’ll be back with updates on our search for our newest furry family member soon but in the meantime, should you have any tips for acquiring a new dog, PLEASE share your comments here!