Doggy Daycare & More Comes to the East Coast

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Photo courtesy of Wagging Rights

I generally find that I get lots of reader feedback pertaining to two areas: 1) People asking for contact information for our real estate agent extraordinaire, Grace and 2) People asking about doggy daycare on the East Coast.

When we adopted Avon in 2012, I had a hard time finding dog walkers and doggy daycare spots in our area — most seemed to be located around Novena, Orchard or Holland Village. I was so thrilled when we connected with Woofy Nanny (which Avon adored), but sadly that business shut down in early 2013. There is Super Cuddles Playhouse on Tanjong Katong, but they don’t take medium-big dogs (i.e. dogs like Avon), and I don’t believe they have a pick-up and drop-off service.

Anyway, the point of this longwinded introduction is to say that I’m THRILLED that Wagging Rights, a new doggy daycare facility, grooming salon, gourmet kitchen, and “pet concierge” has arrived in Joo Chiat. And what a cute name! Avon and I were recently invited to their grand opening at 337 Joo Chiat Road (how fun is it that Avon received an event invitation from a PR company?) and I’m happy to report that it’s a beautiful facility.

Upon entry I immediately noticed the clean, bright finish. There are a few products (mainly for grooming) for sale in the nice seating area, and beyond that is the gourmet kitchen lined with food, much of it freshly prepared. They were actually doing a cooking demonstration when we visited, but I was holding a screaming baby so I didn’t want to interrupt!

The schmick entry area. Photo courtesy of Wagging Rights.

The schmick entry area. Photo courtesy of Wagging Rights.

Beyond the kitchen was the wide open doggy daycare play area. There were dogs of all sizes – Golden Retrievers, Border Collies, Shelties, Pugs, and Miniature Schnauzers among others – running around, happily chasing each other up and down the play structure in the middle of the room. Check out the fun wallpaper and art:

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While Avon happily played with the other dogs, I was impressed to see that they also have a doggy treadmill. That’s a fantastic way for athletic dogs like Avon to get exercise, but I’ve never seen one in Singapore before. Beyond the play area is the grooming salon; I didn’t go in, but two extremely fluffy Pomeranians emerged and seemed quite pleased with themselves.

Avon loving it

Avon loving it

I also have to give a shoutout to this hilarious greenery in the corner:

photo 3-2Wagging Rights offers both full and half-day doggy daycare, including pick-up and drop-off (which is key!). Their prices are as follows:

Full Day:

  • Small dogs & puppies (3-6 months): $35 per day
  • Medium dogs: $45 per day
  • Large dogs: $50 per day

Half Day (4 hours)

  • Small dogs & puppies (3-6 months): $20
  • Medium dogs: $30
  • Large dogs: $35

When I was looking for dog walkers and doggy daycare places, a lot of people quoted me $20+ just for a 30-minute walk, so the cost of all-day care is pretty good value. By the way, I noticed on Wagging Rights’ Facebook page that they’re currently offering a free 2-hour trial for doggy daycare. I might even look into that myself!

There are also going to be “canine good citizen” classes, led by trainer Michelle Chan of Pup, Pup ‘n’Away (again, super cute name!).

Wagging Rights is open 7 days a week, from 9am to 6pm.

Wagging Rights
337 Joo Chiat Road
Phone: 6447 0335

http://www.wagging-rights.com

Please note: While I was invited to this event and provided with photos, I would not endorse something like this without checking it out myself, and I had full editorial control over what I chose to write (or not write).

hashtagBLESSED

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I'm so lucky to have this smiling face waiting for me when I get home from work

I’m so lucky to have this smiling face waiting for me when I get home from work

I’m hashtagBLESSED [/sarcastic You're the Worst reference] in so many ways, but over the past month as I’ve been back at work I’ve thought a lot about how lucky I am to have such a fantastic support network.

I’m lucky to have an amazing helper who is kind, caring, and responsible, with whom the hubs and I feel safe entrusting our baby while we’re at work . 
 
I’m lucky to have a fantastic boss and co-workers who understand I have to duck out every few hours for a breast pumping session, and don’t make it weird or awkward. (Or at least if they are grossed out, they keep it to themselves.) 
 
I’m lucky to have an office with a conference room where I can comfortably pump in private while continuing to do my work. I have a lot of friends who have to pump in toilet stalls. 
 
I’m lucky to have a breast pump that was 100% covered by my insurance (and by mandate of the Affordable Care Act). 
 
I suppose I’m more aware of these things than I used to be, but I feel like there have been so many stories out lately that highlight how impossible it can be for women to both work and have kids.
 
I count my lucky stars I had paid maternity leave when it’s embarrassingly not a given in the United States. I feel lucky to be appreciated by my company when I read about the “Motherhood Penalty.” 
 
In July I read about the mother in South Carolina who was arrested for letting her 9 year-old daughter play alone in a park because she had to go to work . Quality childcare in the U.S. is prohibitively expensive, and this woman essentially had no other option. Isn’t it better for her daughter to play in a nearby park than to spend all day sitting in McDonalds?
 
Yesterday my friend posted this story on Facebook, about a mother working at the Dollar Store with a 1 month-old baby (because again, paid leave schmaid leave) needing government assistance to buy formula. It’s heartbreaking. The lack of education, the lack of support, the lack of financial assistance, the fact this woman had to go to work rather than be with her brand new tiny baby — all of it is heartbreaking.
 
In a rare bit of good news on this front, MIT recently held a hackathon to build a better breast pump. It’s about friggin’ time! As this fascinating New Yorker article by Jill Lepore points out, current models aren’t really so different from what they use on cows. On cows! This summer I was struck by this article in the New York Times, which pointed out “If men could breastfeed, surely the breast pump would be as elegant as an iPhone and quiet as a Prius by now.” Each time I schlep my cumbersome pump into the office, or hand-wash its various plastic parts after use, or listen to its laborious motor drone on, I roll my eyes and think of that quote, because it’s so true!

I think the term “War on Women” gained popularity during the 2012 elections (who could forget good old Todd Aiken or the guy who advocated that ultra-reliable form of birth control, putting aspiring between your knees?). And I feel like it hasn’t let up since then. All of the above are examples of the impossible situation so many women face. In June the Supreme Court’s staggering ruling in the Hobby Lobby case set a scary precedent for the control an employer can have over female employees’ reproductive choices. As of yesterday, the 5.4 million women in Texas now have just eight clinics where they can explore a full range of family planning options. WTF America?! 

This post started as an acknowledgement of how lucky I am to have so many advantages that enable our family to thrive and our baby to receive what we feel is best for her. I feel like it’s become a bit of a rant, because all women should have these advantages! In fact, they shouldn’t be advantages at all, but rather givens: paid family leave, affordable childcare, education and support for feeding your baby — how are any of these things bad or detrimental?
 
There are only the tiniest inklings of progress being made. As aforementioned, the Affordable Care Act covers breast pumps and is meant to provide lactation consultation (though of course many Americans remain uninsured). The Department of Labor  is conducting a feasibility study on mandatory paid leave. (A whole $500,000 to be spread across four testing areas! How generous!). But where is the outrage?!
 
I want to do more than feel lucky — I want to make a difference and help other women who aren’t as fortunate as me. Sure I was aware of these issues before I had a baby, but I’m a bit embarrassed to admit it took going through it to fully understand the plight of so many working women and to see how fucked up the system truly is. That’s the only way I can fathom why our male-dominated Congress has abjectly refused to act on this important issue, because they simply don’t get it. Other than calling my Congressperson though, what can I do? Please share thoughts and ideas in the comments, because I don’t want to be at such a loss. 

 

Please Welcome…

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Newborn Maggie for Blog

… Baby Maggie to the world! She arrived the first week in June – two days earlier than her estimated due date – at 11:28pm on a rainy evening at Gleneagles Hospital, weighing in at 7.5 pounds and 21.5 inches (99th percentile for length, baby! I’m hopeful she’ll someday be a Lacrosse center). She has blonde hair (as both her father and I do), blue eyes (for now), and to my great consternation seems to have inherited my giant schnozz. She is named after my two grandmothers, including my grandmother Margaret who was also born in Asia (more than 100 years ago!).

Labor was about 20 hours from start to finish, but that includes about 9 hours of bearable, crampy contractions and I labored at home for most of it (props to my exercise ball, Netflix and Avon for his support while the hubs wrapped up some meetings at work). I only labored at the hospital for about 5 hours, and I was able to meet my goal of getting through without an epidural, thanks mostly to the hubs’s awesome coaching. I was very happy with the tremendous support of my OBGYN Dr. Choo, and a bit less thrilled with some of the nurses at Gleneagles (please don’t ask me about my knee surgery in 1997 as I am throwing up, and don’t try to push me onto the bed when I am very obviously getting through a contraction by standing up. Kthanks). All in all, though, the hospital was great and the post-birth service was fantastic.

At 1 day old

At 1 day old

The first week at home was the toughest so far — I got very little sleep overnight due to feedings every 1.5 hours or so (all the sleep books say you have a “honeymoon” period during the first few days with newborns where they’ll sleep 18-20 hours a day; Maggie obviously didn’t get that memo), and unsurprisingly we were all just sort of trying to figure out a rhythm. Since then, though, overnights have been pretty good (mega KNOCK ON WOOD), as has breastfeeding, which was probably my biggest concern beforehand.

Another positive is that Avon ADORES Maggie, and has from the moment he first heard her emit a little squeak from her carseat (which we placed on the table when we came in, since she was sleeping). He bolted across the room with his head tilted, as if to say “What on EARTH is that sound?” then jumped up to the table for the first time ever to investigate:

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He is pretty much always within a foot of her, and is quite gentle. He likes to lick her feet (and tries to lick her face, much to our chagrin), and absolutely LOVES to walk alongside her stroller. One of our neighbors actually commented that he looked proud to be trotting alongside it. Honestly the biggest challenge is that he sometimes wants to be close to her and we have to push him away, but it makes me so happy to see how gentle he is, and hopeful that as she grows she will come to adore him just as much.

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It’s been really good getting out of the house, and I’ve tried to do so every couple days. One of our first outings was to the US Embassy, where we obtained Maggie’s passport at the age of 5 days. The poor girl has maybe the world’s worst passport photo – and she’s stuck with it until she’s 5 – but she was such a champ during the interminable 90-minute wait at the Embassy (all for about 5 minutes of oath-swearing and paperwork).  The obvious reward was the mini flag they gave her at the end of it (although she looks less than psyched in this photo):

US Embassy

Many, many thanks to Crystal, who in her blog addressed the totally unclear instructions on the passport application form (they make it sound like you need to list every international trip that you’ve EVER taken, but for citizens this isn’t actually the case). I think that saved us about six hours of work, which is fortunate since my brain was still totally fried at that point.

After the Embassy we grabbed lunch at Chili’s (it seemed only fitting to celebrate Maggie’s American-ness). I joke that as part of her Singapore upbringing she needs to visit as many malls as possible. In her first month of life, by my estimation, she’s visited seven so far (Tanglin, The Forum, Parkway Parade, I12 Katong, Raffles City, Marina Bay Shoppes and Milennia Walk). She even took in the Annie Leibovitz exhibition at the ArtScience Museum. I’ve been pleased to discover that most of the malls have really nice nursing rooms, and also that Maggie is totally amenable to cruising around them in her ErgoBaby carrier (which is a bit too hot for outside with the infant insert, but is nice and cozy in all the hyper-air-conditioned malls).

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She is just starting to enter that phase where she smiles (mostly at books, sometimes when she’s done eating) and every time it totally gets me. The days seem to pass in the strangest way; on the one hand I feel like we barely leave the house and she spends most of her time on her baby gym either playing with rings, doing tummy time (I prefer calling it “baby Pilates”) or being read to, yet each day flies by. I’m amazed by her little smiles and grunts and head lifts, not to mention how much she’s grown (she’s approaching 12 pounds already!).

Maggie's first 4th of July

Maggie’s first 4th of July

As expected (and to my eternal gratefulness), our helper LL has been nothing short of phenomenal. The hubs and I joke that she’s magical, as she seems able to effortlessly halt crying just by picking the baby up, no matter how fussy she’s being with her father or me. In the first week at home when my brain was scrambled eggs, LL kept the house from falling down around us by walking the dog, cooking our meals and doing laundry. In the subsequent weeks, although I try to spend as much time with Maggie as possible, it’s been amazing to have someone take her while I eat dinner, or nip to the gym for 45 minutes on the treadmill. We are so very lucky, and again, grateful.

I’ve got about two months left on my maternity leave (how have six weeks passed already?!), and hopefully will be able to get in a few more blog posts in that time. I meant to spend my last days pre-baby writing about exercise during pregnancy, so hopefully I’ll get around to that one soon. For now I will continue to marvel at my baby’s intoxicating smell, deliciously chubby arms, adorable coos, and even her silly little grunts, and to revel in each and every lovely cuddle. Life with Maggie is full of wonder, and absolutely wonderful.

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