Adventures In Puppy-ing

Ellie Kevin Lancaster, meet everyone. Everyone, meet Ellie Kevin Lancaster.

This is my sweet little Shih Tzu. She weighs only two pounds and has rank puppy breath, but she is mine and mine alone. She  happens to be a little terror and have quite the rambunctious spirit, but that’s why I’m so smitten.

Ellie has been a hoot since bringing her home. She arrived on the scene with a bout of fleas and worms–common puppy problems, but inconvenient and worrisome for this new puppy mom. Don’t worry, we took care of it, but for our first couple days of furry friendship, Ellie was calm. Stoic. Tired.

Of course she was. She felt sick, poor baby.

After getting her treated and cured of her puppy problems, my sweet Ellie blossomed into the minuscule maniac she was destined to be.  She sprints across the living room to the kitchen in a furry frenzy, in frantic pursuit of “Big Dog’s” food and treats. Big Dog is Kasper, our former “little” dog.

He’s now the big one.

She plays with her dog bed as if it were an oversized toy, dragging it across the floor and gleefully ripping her claws into the soft fabric. I’ll have to invest in a new one soon.

She leaves tiny little puppy puddles on the kitchen tile. At least she doesn’t like peeing on the carpet too, too much. She gets so busy explorin’ her new world, she forgets she has a teeny tiny little bladder.

She’s my little explorer.

Why the name “Ellie Kevin?” She’s named after two beloved characters from Disney’s Up, of course.

She embodies Ellie’s (the character) adventurous spirit so well. Seriously–each morning she sprints from her kennel and begins to explore her brand new world; she’s full of joy and puppy curiosity, and she’s so sweet and good natured. She wiggles and squirms when you pick her up. She’d rather be discovering new nooks and crannies; she loves to cuddle when she’s tired, but she loves stretching her legs.

She’s my adventurer. She’s my Ellie girl.

And Kevin? You know: Kevin, the bird from Up. Her middle name’s Kevin, ’cause Kevin’s a girl. (Duh.)

I love you so much, Ellie. I can’t wait to begin a new adventure with you soon. Graduate school is fast approaching, which translates to a move to a new town and a fresh, shiny beginning. I can’t wait to take it all on with you.

Adventure is certainly out there.




“A Wilderness Explorer is a Friend To All…”

It’s no secret that Disney-Pixar’s Up is one of my (and all of society’s) favorite animated tear jerkers. Audiences go nuts over the film’s sweet lovebirds, Carl and Ellie. Their relationship is central to the plot and to the essence of the film–“Adventure is out there!” Carl and Ellie have inspired fan art, wedding themes, Disney-bounders, and Valentine’s Day cards since the film introduced us to the perfect balloon and adventure-loving couple back in 2009.

While I love Carl and Ellie for personal and generic reasons (see old post here), I can’t help but have fallen in love with Carl’s two initially unwelcome companions, Dug and Russell.

First of all, Russell is the coolest eight-year old I know. He has forty-seven patches on his Wilderness Explorer sash, and he is a friend to all, “be it plant or fish or tiny mole.” He looks both ways before crossing the busy Animal Kingdom streets (he loves to hang out there lately), and he gives very firm handshakes and great hugs. He sometimes throws a little fit when something doesn’t go his way, but he is always quick to forgive and forget the grievance.

Dug is also the cutest little pup you ever did see. He loves squirrels and hears guests exclaim “Squirrel!” to him countless of times each and every day and never gets tired of it. Sometimes baby Dug’s (plushes sold at Disney merchandise venues) visit with their tiny little Velcro and felt cone-of-shame. Dug always treats the little Dug’s with care and kindness, and he loves to give puppy kisses to those who visit him.

Now to the nitty-gritty reasons why the pair have made their way into my heart. Russell is tough. He might be a tad on the chubby side, but Russell is as tough as nails. Yes, he complained about the discomfort of the wilderness, but he made it. He got through his hurt knee (and, subsequently, his hurt elbow) and put himself last to take care of Kevin, his beloved bird-friend who happens to be a girl.

If you’ve never seen Up (how?!), this probably sounds just like a whole lot of nonsense.

Anyway. Russell is also tough in the fact that he is a normal kid living through an unfortunate normal occurrence–his parents separation and/or divorce. That’s tough, everyone. Despite his adversity, Russell is still an accomplished Wilderness Explorer: optimistic, eager to help, and only a tad whiney.

Dug teaches us to love unconditionally: “I have just met you, and I love you!” He’s like any of our beloved pups at home. Loyal and loving and cuddly and sweet and holy cow I miss my dogs. Dogs can be the perfect companion to broken people–Carl is broken because of the absence of Ellie. Russell is broken due to his unstable childhood. Dug is broken because of his mistreatment from Charles Muntz, the adventurer-turned-wacko.They are an unlikely trio, but they complete each other in the most perfect way that only Pixar could depict.

The ultimate lesson we can learn from Russell: “That might sound boring, but I think the boring stuff is what I remember the most.” He reminds us to take a step back from our hectic lives and really cherish those little moments that won’t become a Facebook status or an Instagram caption. The boring stuff fills an incredible void in our lives–without the boring stuff, the big stuff would be boring. Let’s remember to be mentally present for those “boring” adventures, because, in the end, we’ll miss those the most.

Thanks Dug and Russell for being the coolest dog and eight-year-old that I know. You help fill some of my days with adventure and fun, and I can’t thank you enough.

Thanks to Disney Springs for fueling my little addiction.

Love, Adventure, and Selflessness: Lessons We Can Learn from Disney-Pixar’s UP

Up is one of my favorite Disney-Pixar movies. I love it so much.

Exhibit A.

The first ten minutes are so beautiful and heartbreaking; I cry every time. The idea of a house being carried away by balloons is simply whimsical and so creative, and this entire movie redefines what it means to have an adventure. It’s soundtrack acts as glorious study music, and the characters are so incredibly lovable.

Up really has taught me so much, and it has reminded me of some loved ones in my own life.

Let’s talk about the relationship between Carl and Ellie. I believe Disney-Pixar has captured the perfect romance in this animated movie–whimsical and magical with a realistic touch. I love how there love was founded on their thirst for adventure as little kids, and I am so happy that Ellie is so rambunctious and energetic. The fact that their relationship is told entirely through a scored, silent montage is brilliant and provides the perfect backdrop for the audience’s heartbreak.

We can learn so much from Carl and Ellie’s relationship: love can be founded on friendship and on similar interests, adventure can be found through day-to-day activities, and the little things–such as sitting in adjacent chairs while reading and sweetly holding hands–can mean everything. I think people can get carried away in thinking that love stories have to be chock full of grand gestures.  In reality, the most beautiful love stories are filled with simple moments carried out with great love.

The best part of Up is near the very end. Carl flips through the “Adventure Book,” expecting to be disappointed by the empty pages he would surely find. Instead, he finds pictures that Ellie had placed in the Adventure Book documenting their life together. On the very last page, Carl discovers Ellie’s parting note to him:

“Thanks for the adventure–now go have a new one!

Tears. So many tears.

I think I love this so much because Carl and Ellie’s relationship reminds me so much of my grandparents’–I call them “Bo” and “Lille.” Bo, my grandpa, passed away from a brain tumor back in 2005. My grandparents met when they were in junior high, and were together ever since. Their love was based on those sweet little things that matter so much, and they both worked together to make every day–be it ordinary or special–a grand adventure for my sister and me.

I also saw Ellie’s attitude in my Bo; he reminds me so much of the woman who captured Carl’s heart–his exuberant spirit is so much like Ellie’s. He had so much fun in his daily life–he was a classic “bull sh*tter” (excuse my French) and tried to make every day a joyous one. I have so many awesome memories of my Bo; he would dance in movie theaters as the credits rolled, hold impromptu “parades” at our birthday parties, and hold last-minute free-throw shooting contests with ice cream at stake (we inevitably won the sweet prize every time; Bo loved his ice cream). He made sure that his loved ones were taken care of, even when it was his time to leave us. He was passionate about what he did, and he didn’t take a day for granted. He loved Lille, he loved my mom, and he loved my sister and me with all that he had.

He wanted us to have adventures with him; but he wanted us to have them even more so after he was gone.

He made this known to my mom and Lille. He wanted us to live life to the fullest, and he wanted to make sure he did everything in his power so that we could do so after he was gone.

This is why I think I love Up–Carl and Ellie were so devoted to each other, just like my Bo and Lille. Bo is the Ellie of the bunch; he did everything in his power to make everyday an adventure. What he wanted more than anything, however, was to see his loved ones have an adventure themselves, just as Ellie wants Carl to “have a new one.”

Let’s learn a few things from Carl and Ellie, and, subsequently, from my Bo and Lille.

Find love in the little things that someone does for you. It doesn’t have to be romantic love–take note of the way your sister does everything in her power to make you happy, take note of your mom’s constant pin-sending (you know: Pinterest), take note of your grandma’s consistent phone calls. That’s love. Roses are not required.

Find adventure in the mundane. Ellie (and Bo) knew the importance of this. Life won’t be a series of big moments; life is a series of little moments strung together. We must find the fun in it all, the adventure that awaits in every new day.

And, last but not least, look for ways to make the people you love happy. Ellie left that note knowing it would give Carl some peace; she encouraged him to continue finding new adventures. That’s not selfish. She (and my Bo) knew that selflessness was the most important thing, especially toward the people you love.

So. “Adventure is out there!” Take the lessons you learn from Up and apply them to your daily life. Always remember to make the people you care about happy, find adventure and joy in the little things, and always check under the porch for snipes.

They certainly are tricky little buggers.

I got this lovely shirt at Hot Topic.
“Adventure is out there,” my friends! Now go and find it.