Saturday, December 31, 2011

People of Petsmart

There are times when I really dislike people.

I recently made a trip to Petsmart for snake bedding and a sweater for Talla. I had brought Jayne with me, which is common because he is a pleasant dog and he's the most emotionally needy dog in the house. As I said, he is pleasant - but he is still a large Doberman, folks!

I was approached - nay, accosted - by three different groups of morons. The first was a gaggle of teenage girls and their mother. I put Jayne in a sit and they knelt down to pet him. All was good until one of the girls launched herself at him and wrapped her arms around his neck, engulfing him in a very tight bear-hug. I bit my lip and forced myself to be calm. In no way, shape or form did I want to unintentionally communicate to Jayne that this was something for him to worry about. The girl released him and another one of the girls asked their mother (not me) if hugging the dog was a good idea. Before I was able to get a word in, the mother said, "of course it's fine - she wouldn't have brought him into the store if he was mean."

'Scuse me, lady! My dog is not mean, but he's also not a stuffed animal. I attempted to educate that hugging strange dogs isn't a good idea, but my kind lecture went in one ear and out the other. You know the blank, glassy stare people get when they're hearing the words coming out of your mouth but not actually processing them? Yeah, that's what happened. I walked away.

The second group was a mom, a dad, and two kids. They seemed nice enough - they'd recently acquired a Doberman puppy and were "probably going to get her ears cropped." I said my usual piece about ear cropping - good breeders have the ears cropped before the puppy goes home, there are no local vets that are good croppers, if you do decide to crop make sure you have someone to help with aftercare and taping, etc. Again, I got the glassy-eyed stares and dumb smiles. They assured me that "a local Doberman lady" recommended several competent vets, and then proceeded to grab Jayne's ears and say to their daughter, "see honey? Jewel's ears are going to look just like this!"

'Scuse me, lady! First, get your grubby sausages off my dog's ears! Second, no - your puppy's ears are not going to look "just like this" - because this is a crop done by one of the most talented vets in the country. You will not find any vet in the state of Iowa that can pull off something as beautiful as this:



So stop touching my dog, and stop thinking you're going to get anything that'll look halfway decent. Here's the deal - if you want beautiful ears like my dogs have, you need to buy your puppy from a responsible breeder.

The third and final group of morons had a 6 week old Shih Tzu puppy on a retractable leash. They were letting the puppy wander up and down the aisles. Jayne took one look at the little fluffball and decided that it had to be a squeaky plush toy of some kind. Must. Eat. Squeaky Toy.

'Scuse me, lady! You shouldn't even have a 6 week old puppy in your possession, let alone be letting said puppy walk on dirty Petsmart floors without its final set of puppy vaccinations! Also, retractable leashes are stupid roughly 99% of the time and have no business being used in pet stores. Lastly, my prey-driven dog is going to eat your puppy because he doesn't recognize it as an actual canine - it's not his fault that you have a moving plushie toy on the end of your leash. Be thankful he's well trained, or you'd be out a dog.

Stay tuned. I'm sure I'll have more People of Petsmart stories to share in the future. Pet owners come in all flavors of stupid.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Chebe

Ohhhhhh my gosh. I haven't been this excited about a gluten-free company since, well... ever.

My mom made these amazing little "dinosaur egg" cheesebread balls for Thanksgiving. Everybody loved them - slightly crispy on the outside, rich and chewy on the inside. Gluten free bread products are rarely flexible or chewy. (Most just crumble apart and make a disappointing mess.)

Chebe Original Cheese Bread mix makes 16 adorable little bread balls - the mix itself is only about $2.75, which is a great deal considering most gluten free mixes are overpriced.

The box:



Can you see why my husband calls them dinosaur eggs?



My parents bought me additional Chebe mixes for Christmas. We made the cheesebread on Christmas day, but I waited until tonight to try to pizza crust mix. It was a lot easier to make than our old standby of Bob's Red Mill, and WOW - the taste is unbelievable. It's mind-bogglingly good.

Here the box!



Alas, no pictures of my pizza. It was an ugly pizza because I had no mozzarella left, and had to use ugly cheese. Next time I make Chebe pizza dough (which will probably be soon) I'll take pictures and will hopefully remember to update this blog post.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to eat my pizza.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Talla, Q and A

Q: What kind of dog is Talla?

A: Talla is a street dog from Sonora, Mexico. While she is not a purebred (a selectively bred animal with a recorded pedigree) she is still a distinct type of dog. Many breeds started out like this - Canaan Dogs, Thai Ridgebacks, and Basenjis, just to name a few. The Mexidog can be classified as such:
A medium sized, short coated, slender dog with long legs, a curved tail and prick (or semi-prick) ears. Average weight is 35-55lbs. The head is dry and wedge shaped, with dark brown or black eyes. Body shape is reminiscent of a sighthound, with decent ribspring, depth of chest and a defined tuck-up. Front legs turn neither in nor out, and the legs are long and refined - yet strong. Front is well angulated, and pasterns are only slightly let down. Rear is moderately angulated with sufficient turn of stifle. Topline is level, and the croup is slightly rounded. Coat is short but surprisingly dense, with slightly longer coats less common. Feet are oval shaped, with well arched toes. Many have functional fifth toes on their rear feet, which resemble dewclaws but are actually extra toes - complete with pads and normally-sized & fully developed carpal bones. The most common color is tawny-gold with a black mask and white toes, but other colors (such as black, sable, tricolor, and brindle, all with or without white markings) are seen.

Temperament is social, intelligent and biddable, but somewhat intense. They are active and athletic, but have definite "off switches" as adults. Belligerence towards other dogs is rare - this is a type that usually gets along well with other animals. They are decent watchdogs, but not a true guardian breed. They generally do not bark unless there is reason for them to do so.

If raised away from the streets, they are generally quite healthy and hardy. The weak, the unsound and the sick rarely live long enough on the streets to pass on their genes.

Three examples of tri-color Sonoran Street dogs




Example of a less commonly seen phenotype - brindle, with a longer coat




Q: How big will Talla get?

A: Our best guess is about 35-40lbs, and 15-17" at the shoulder. As of right now, she's 13lbs and about 10" at the shoulder.



Q: How old is Talla?

A: We estimate her birthdate to be somewhere around Halloween (10/31/11) or perhaps a week or two earlier.



Q: Why rescue a dog from Mexico? Couldn't you rescue an American shelter dog instead?

A: The short answer? Because I wanted to, and No. The long answer is a bit more complex, but I'm beginning to realize that I need to fully and concisely explain my decision.

I didn't want just any dog - I had a very specific list of requirements, and the only dog I could find (without spending years scouring Petfinder on the offchance my dream dog would appear, and then having to apply for said dog and possibly be turned down for any number of asinine reasons) was the Sonoran street dog. I did not "take a home" from an American shelter dog - if I couldn't obtain a Sonoran street dog, I would have saved up and imported a dog (possibly a Portuguese Podengo Medio) from a breeder overseas anyway.

Many American shelter dogs that matched our physical requirements do not have the temperament I need. I did not want a terrier, but many similar American dogs are Rat Terrier or Miniature Pinscher mixes. I did not want a small pit bull, and I did not want a typical sighthound - but those breeds also are somewhat similar in appearance to the Sonoran street dog. Since we already have three dogs (and usually a foster as well) we have to be very particular about what we bring into the house. In our minds, the Sonoran street dog is as much a "breed" as our Dobermans and our Corgi - we knew what we were getting in Talla.

The cost of flying her to Iowa was no more than an average adoption fee for a single dog from a breed-specific rescue.

The stray dog of Mexico does not share the American shelter dog's "luxury" of a humane death by euthanasia. The only way for a stray dog to be humanely euthanized in Mexico is if someone pays for it, and that is a rare occurrence. Most puppies die - only the clever ones survive their first year. They are either killed by other dogs, hit by cars, eaten by predators or dispensed by human beings who believe them to be a nuisance. Of course, many just starve to death. In Sonora, 50% of adult strays die from an aggressive venereal cancer and sarcoptic mange. If their odds aren't bad enough, poisoned food is often set out for the strays.

The Mexican government offers no financial assistance for shelters, spay/neuter programs or humane organizations. Some municipalities have "perreros" - essentially rudimentary dog pounds - and if they're lucky, they have enough money to humanely kill their dogs. Most house strays outdoors in large pens until they are killed. Perreros in poorer areas have been known to kill their dogs by electrocution via car batteries, since the drugs used to humanely euthanize animals are either scarce or too expensive.

So really - when you stop to consider the world Talla was born into, and what her fate could have been - it seems preposterous to question the motives for those of use who rescue these poor dogs. I hate to be harsh... but American shelter dogs have it made in the shade compared to the estimated 20 million stray dogs of Mexico.

Lastly, I do my fair share for America's unwanted dogs as well. I extensively foster, volunteer and transport for Illinois Doberman Rescue Plus - which is an amazing organization that has also taken in "imported" rescue cases from South America. I'm sure Diablo, Bernie, Allicyn, Ned, Riley, Katie, Autumn and Tucker (my fosters from 2011 alone) wouldn't mind me extending my kindness to a Mexican stray. So before anyone criticizes me (or anyone else) for adopting a Mexican street dog, I ask that they think about what they have done for rescue this year... and if they haven't had eight or more fosters, or put 5,000+ miles on their car this year for American rescue dogs... I politely ask that they STFU.




Monday, December 19, 2011

The Mexidog has landed!

What a wild ride... Tallahassee is finally here.

It was pure hell getting her stateside. We were finally able to find some wonderful people to help - thanks to Mary for bringing her to Tucson, Jay for offering her a place to sleep, and Julie for doing everything else!

Delta couldn't fly her to Des Moines due to scheduling conflicts. The best we could do was Minneapolis. Hooray, another road trip. I left about 11am on Tuesday, hoping to miss rush-hour traffic. No such luck. Fortunately I've driven that particular route through Minneapolis enough that I only had one near-death experience... at the Downtown Exits, for those of you who know that area.

I stayed with my friend Sara in the Twin Cities, who graciously offered to drive to pick up Talla. I accepted, because I figured evening rush-hour traffic near the airport (and less than a week before Christmas) would be enough to turn me into a sobbing pile of goo.

We had no idea where we were going. First we went to the wrong terminal, got lost on our way back to the car, and met a very unhelpful lot attendant named Seita.

Us: "Do you know where the Delta Cargo terminal is?"

Seita: "......no. Five dollars."

Us: "Roh.... kay."

Onward. Sara's phone decided that we were driving in a river, so its GPS function was useless. We eventually found some large, dark, scary looking buildings that could have possibly been cargo facilities. On the other hand, they could have been military installations. There was no way to know for sure. The woman at Delta had told me to look for "Building MS4" but none of the buildings had signs... except for the building labeled Sky Chefs. I figured that Sky Chefs could have been a 1990's sitcom, or possibly a reality show on the Food Network.

Somehow we managed to find a building with Delta Cargo on the side. There wasn't any clear parking, so Sara pulled up in front of the entrance like this:



Lo and behold, we found the right nondescript building! The conversation went like this:

Delta employee #1: "Are you here for.... a live animal?"

Us: "Yes... the reference number is XYZ." (as opposed to a... dead animal?)

Delta employee #2: "You here for the puggle?" (totally serious.)

Us: "Haha.... no...."

They told us that we had to wait another 45 minutes before we could pick up Talla, but that the flight had arrived safely and on time. We left, thinking we could get fuel in the meantime. Two other people had arrived after us, but they had parked normally... they shot us funny looks as we got into the crookedly-parked Subaru. Sara's phone still thought we were in the river, so we got lost again. On the way back to the cargo facility, we were so focused on our discussion of the movie Cedar Rapids that we missed our exit. (Sara thinks I should move to Cedar Rapids, because there are hookers and drugs in the movie. I told her I didn't think the real Cedar Rapids was that exciting. She didn't believe me, even though I grew up in Cedar Rapids and never saw any hookers.)

We pulled into the parking lot behind a large semi. The semi zigged, we zagged, and somehow the semi ended up nearly hitting us. In an effort to avoid being crunched, Sara zagged again and unintentionally cut off the semi. The path was somewhat like this:



We hurried inside, since we really didn't want the semi driver to confront us about our crazy driving. By this time, Talla had arrived and was ready to be retrieved. A much nicer employee named Baliek offered me a bouquet of pens ("They're seasonal!" he cheerfully exclaimed) to sign the collection paperwork, and then instructed us to wait at Cargo Bay 1 for them to bring out Talla.

We went to Cargo Bay 1, but the door was closed and the only door had scary signs saying you needed special security clearance to enter. We went back to ask Baliek what we were supposed to do, and he told us to just wait. So we went back, and waited. Eventually, the bay door opened and along came.... a forklift. With a pallet. With one item on said pallet.... a tiny little dog crate containing a little street puppy from Mexico! It was ridiculous, so we both started laughing. Here's an idea of what it looked like:



We packed her up and drove to Chuck & Dons to buy her some toys. Despite being passed around and flown half-way across the country, she bounced right back and was quite social. After buying her toys she probably didn't need, we headed back to Sara's house... where she played like crazy for three solid hours. She made three of us bleed with her razor-sharp puppy teeth. I had to actually put her in a crate for her to actually settle down enough to fall asleep.

There you have it.... how we got a Mexican street dog to the American Midwest.

Also, in case you were not aware, Talla is not a bird. Nor is she a fish, or a turtle. Just making sure that's clear.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Bizarre Product: blk.

I love weird stuff.

I'm the girl who got a bag of dead bullfrogs and sheep eyes for Christmas one year... and was thrilled. I once collected bugs, slag and Orbitz bottles.

Imagine my glee when I found this at Hy-Vee a few days ago:



Yeah, it's water. Water with fulvic acid. Fulvic acid is apparently good for you... or at least, good for plants in some form. Ah hell, I'm fairly certain it's just a gimmick, but a cool gimmick at that. And holy moly, it's dark. When held up to a lightbulb, the bottle still looks like black plastic - no light shines through.



And it tastes like water. I know, amazing - you'd think with it being pure black that it would have some sort of flavor. Nope, just really bizarre, pure tasting water. For $1.89 it's probably not something I'm going to buy often, but I'll definitely keep some around to entertain guests.



Besides, I'm a sucker for neat packaging. Thanks Dr. Mickelson!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Who are we trying to fool?

Whenever anyone visits my house, I feel a strong urge to clean like a banshee until my home is completely spotless and sterile. Even if said visitor is only walking through the house, I make sure to clean every room they may possibly encounter.

Don't lie... you do it too.

What strikes me as funny is that the person visiting your home probably has an equally messy home of their own. Yet, we feel the need to spend hours cleaning in an effort to avoid embarrassment or judgement.

Even though the visitor has no intention of judging you.

I'm not saying I'm going to stop cleaning my house for guests. I'm just coming out and admitting that it's stupid. It's a Monumental Timewaster. A Terrible Trivium.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

What do Lady Gaga's dogs eat?

Answer: Rawww rawwww raw raw RAWWW!

I couldn't resist starting with a Lady Gaga joke.

Barring any disasters, we're switching to raw feeding in 2012. The cats already eat raw, but they are tiny animals so their food doesn't take up much room. The dogs are large, so to feed them raw we'll actually need to plan and prepare. Here's our list of required items:

1. a pickup truck capable of carrying 1300-1500lbs of meat
2. a large chest freezer
3. a large upright freezer
4. a band saw or similar meat slicing implement
5. goggles
6. an apron that won't absorb meat juices
7. a scale, possibly

Meat will come in pre-ground, 50lb, 18" x 24" x 5" slabs.
Each slab will be cut into 8 chunks.
Each chunk will be roughly 6.25lbs, which will feed my dogs for 2 days (with .25lbs to spare.)
Each slab represents roughly 16 days' worth of food.
500lbs = 10 slabs = 80 chunks = 160 days of food, with about 20lbs left over.
... that's 160 days of food (roughly 5.3 months) for $145.

Every 4-5 months, Aryn and I will drive to Wisconsin and bring back a truckload of meat. The distributor sells pre-ground raw meat to mushers and sled dog kennels, and has a proven track record of selling a quality product. Once home, I will spend the next few hours cutting up the slabs and placing it in the chest freezer in the garage. Whatever I can't fit in the chest freezer will go in the upright freezer in the basement. Then I will somehow clean the saw. Ewww. I may have to put out a broadcast to the neighborhood that I am indeed not practicing for a Hostel audition.

No, we will not have enough room to bring you any meat - if we're driving 7 hours one-way for this, you can bet that every pound we bring back will be split between our two households. If you would like to caravan up there with us, be our guest.... but please, no split requests unless you're planning on bringing your own vehicle.

Meat!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Another Busy Weekend

"I'm not sure if this'll be a throwy toll or a handy toll..."

Quote. Of. The weekend.

I'm beginning to realize that detailed accounts of my weekend adventures aren't as riveting as they are in my own mind. Taking this into account, I'll just cover the good stuff.

For starters, Aryn and I visited our Dobermans' breeder this weekend. We also got to hang out with our friend Lisa and her dogs, which was extra special for me because she has Ronin's brother Jackson. Even though Jackson is a lot bigger than Ronin, he still bears a striking resemblance to my dearly departed red whirlwind. I really enjoyed spending time with him - it was almost like seeing Ronin again. Of course, Jackson is no spring chicken and isn't as agile as he once was, so in that sense it was bittersweet.



Okay, I'm depressing myself. Let's switch to a happier subject... puppies! Sandi has an adorable litter of puppies right now, sired by Nick (Ch. Cambria's Out For Justice) and out of Savannah (Ch. Bruda The Artist Is Savannah) - they're beyond cute. Lots of boys, including a big, bold red male with a green collar that reminds me so much of Jayne. Whoever gets The Tank had better be prepared for a wild ride!

Our super-secret plan (which isn't super-secret anymore, I suppose) was to shop at IKEA after dropping off a foster dog with another Illinois Doberman Rescue Plus volunteer. Aside from the hectic drive to Schaumburg, the experience was amazing. Everything in IKEA is super-affordable and 100% awesome. For less than $90, I bought a duvet cover with two pillowcases, two pillows, a few kitchen funnels, a knit throw, a few bath mats, several bars of Swedish chocolate and a giant stuffed alligator for Jayne. I think there may have been more, but IKEA's amazingness has fuzzified my memory. I must return to IKEA. With a U-Haul truck. And more money.



I hate driving in Chicago. Apparently no one in Chicago understands the signs that say Speed is Radar Monitored. To me, that means, "drive the speed limit or get a ticket and die, punk!" But noooo, everyone drives 70-80ph on the 55mph, radar monitored tollway. Since driving with the flow of traffic is safer than driving the posted speed limit (especially when everyone else is tailgating, honking and cutting you off) I was forced to drive 70mph. If I get a ticket in the mail, I'm going to have to crush some heads.

Also, Illinois tolls suck. Next year I'm getting an IPass, because effective January 1st the cash toll rates are increasing from $1.90 per car to $3.60 per car. Also, there are a ton of tolls. This trip alone, I must have forked over more than $15 just on tolls. We never knew what kind of toll was coming up, so we had several methods of payment ready at every turn. "Throwy tolls" had little plastic nets into which we threw coins. "Handy tolls" had a little person in a booth to which we handed over a few dollars every fifty miles or so.

Throwy vs. Handy.

Now you understand the Quote of the Weekend.

(Also.... don't ever rewind the poop. Three times is enough.)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mr. Butt, and other dog show happenings.

Remember me saying that no dog show weekend is ever dull? Yeah, I've got another interesting weekend to share.

The journey began fairly well - we left on time, the weather was nice, the trip went quickly. Somehow we managed to fit four dogs, two adults and a weekend's worth of gear in the HHR... also known as the Clown Car Effect. The trick is to pack multiple small bags instead of one large bag. Also, imaginative use of bungee cords is helpful.

Saturday started badly. We were five minutes late (after a five hour drive) so Aryn missed the window for day-of-show entries. That meant that Rocket couldn't be shown at all, which obviously did not make Aryn a happy camper. Jayne finished his ALCH (Altered Champion) title in the first show with a Reserve BIS, but was beaten in the Group at the second show.

Much of the time at a UKC show is spent sitting around. Sometimes this is good, but occasionally it means hours of annoyance. This weekend we were crated next to a large group of people who had some serious "personal space" issues. They didn't respect our crating space at all - in fact, there was a point where one of them actually moved my chair so he could sit in front of Jayne's crate! I nicknamed him Mr. Butt. Why? Because it seemed like every time I'd look up, this guy's butt was less than a foot away from my face. There was even a time when he stooped over in front of me (to brush his dog) and his butt was practically in my lap. It was awful. There were probably seven or eight of them, and I probably saw more of their tushes in a weekend than their spouses see in a month.

It wasn't just the butts. They let their dogs meander into our space, walk up to our dogs' crates, and even allowed them to nose at our food. One of them actually careened into Aryn's chair while she was working on her cross-stitch, sending everything flying. He didn't even apologize until he was pinned with the parented Aryn Death Stare. I had to ask at least one of them to move every time I needed to get a dog out of a crate. It was madness!

After the Saturday shows, we enjoyed a nice meal at Outback. Our waitress was a bit "friendly" in a weird, awkward way. When I go to a restaurant, I don't need to know how many kids my waitress has birthed... though it was somewhat amusing to hear her talk about her young male coworker that had driven her to the restaurant that evening. He will be in Florida next week, if anyone is wondering. After steak and potatoes, we went home and played/tossed cheese to/loved on our friend's animals - Classic the Great Dane, Zuma the Kelpie mix, and Grover & Remi the cats. A late night trip to Petco yielded cat food, a few Kong squeaky balls, a cracked-out stuffed lion toy and this hilarious photo of Zuma:



We managed to make day-of-show entries on Sunday, but unfortunately Rocket didn't get his title this weekend. He really is a nice dog, moves like a dream, but he was a very different type than what was winning this past weekend. Jayne did well in the first show with an Altered BIS, but didn't do anything in the second show after winning the Group. We staggered to the car a bit after 6pm. We had hoped to leave earlier, but it wasn't in the cards this time. We stopped for some tacos, and as I pulled our of the restaurant parking lot Aryn said:

"Just to let you know, I might fall asleep on the way home. Don't hold it against me."

I assured her that it was fine. After inhaling the tacos, we officially started the trip home at around 6:30pm. Other than the crazy Minneapolis drivers making life difficult, the roads were fine. Once we made it out of the Twin Cities, traffic dwindled and the road was quiet. Everyone fell asleep but me. At about 8:45pm, Aryn suddenly exclaimed, "I don't understand why they're making the muffins!" I had no idea what she was talking about. So I said:

"What?"

"The muffins! I don't know why they were making them."

"Who was making muffins?"

"........ the people at the dog show."

"I didn't see anyone making muffins at the dog show. Who at the show was making muffins?"

"The people making the dog t-shirts...."

"..... there were people making dog t-shirts? At the show? This weekend?"

"............ I don't knowwww!"

I didn't know what to say. Obviously Aryn had gone insane. Once again, the car was silent until about ten minutes later, when Aryn decided to say, "I think they meant muffin tops. Like on the t-shirts. But I don't know how that applies to dogs. Maybe their hair sticks out like muffin tops. I don't know."

Again, the car went silent. Fifteen minutes away from home, Jayne had diarrhea all over his crate. I was up until 1am doing laundry.

The End.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Tallahassee

I think it's about time to spill the beans... we're getting a puppy. Specifically, an adorable pariah-type puppy from a coastal region of Sonora, Mexico.

She's about 8 weeks old right now, and her name is Tallahassee. (We call her Talla for short.)



Of course, getting a dog from Mexico to Iowa is posing some... difficulties. Right now, our best option is for someone to take her to Colorado in 1-2 weeks. A friend of mine will hopefully be able to drive her to meet me in Nebraska.

Unless, of course, a Colorado rescue can hold onto her until the 17th, at which time I can pick her up and take her home!

It's late, I have work tomorrow and a dog show this weekend, so I'll share more details about sassy little Talla another day. I just wanted to get this whole thing out there.








Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Why I love airports.

I know, I know. I'm weird. This is an established fact. The only reason why I'm writing about this is because my good buddy Jess is, at this very moment, writing about why she hates airports.

I love airports... probably because I love airplanes, and flying in airplanes. Peanuts! Miniature liquor! Hot towels! Amazing views! Skymall! Despite the brief discomfort of popping ears, I've always loved airplane rides. I love the feeling of being above the world, looking down and seeing little cars scurry around like bugs. I've been up in commercial airliners and private planes and have always had a great time. Even turbulence doesn't bother me. I remember being taken up in a small plane and being allowed to fly it for some sort of father/daughter bonding activity, though I do wonder if it was on autopilot at the time.

Airports themselves are fascinating little portals to adventure. I love the kitsch found in the gift shops, I love running down the moving walkways, I love watching the people. Funny hats! Flute players! Flight attendants prancing around in groups, thinking they're sooooo cool. Heck, I even like baggage claims - so many unique suitcases, and unique means of identifying said suitcases. I was in an airport in Amsterdam, and the airport was full of military personnel - armed to the teeth with AK-47's and scary knives. I tried to take a picture but they told me it was forbidden. At least, I think that's what they said - it was in a foreign language and they looked menacing and grouchy. It was great.

Perhaps this is all a result of my quiet, simple Midwestern upbringing. I rarely fly, so perhaps every opportunity to be on an airplane is more exciting than it should be.

I don't know. I'm only writing this because Jess beat me into submission. Thanks, mallow-roaster.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Hunter Jacques

This probably makes me certifiably crazy, but sometimes I invent conversations. Often these conversations are with the dogs and/or cats. This is a particularly good one from this evening.



"Actually yes, I did slay the beast with my own bare paws. Y you ask?"

"Because Pierre said you didn't."

"Well, Pierre is a liar liar cat on fire."

"But Pierre saw me take the turkey out of the plastic wrapping and hack it up for you boys."

".......... damn."

A bit of back-story. I know I've said that we feed our cats raw - but most people probably don't hack up the Thanksgiving turkey for their pets. Every year, Steve gets a free turkey from work. We've tried cooking the free turkeys, but they're tough and cheap, and never taste as good as the ol'Butterball standby. They're simply not worth the time and effort it takes to prepare them for human consumption.

I staunchly refuse to let any part of this turkey go to waste. Instead of throwing out the weight-bearing bones, I decided to toss them to the cats to pick clean. If there is a kitty heaven, Jacques and Pierre must think they've died and gone there... for they have gigantic bones to gnaw on for the next few hours.

Happy cats.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thankful 20-21

20 November 2011
I'm thankful that mouth injuries heal quickly. I thought I was going to have to go to urgent care and have my lip stitched, after Jayne bonked me in the face during Schutzhund training on Sunday. Monday night and it's almost sealed up, but I still feel I've got a marble in my mouth.

10 November 2011
Thankful that it's a three-day work week! Technically tomorrow is "Thursday" - most excellent!

I'm running out of photos to put on these Thankful entries. I'm guessing you don't want to see a picture of my nearly-chomped-through lip, so here's a photo of Jayne offering Kaylee a pile of toys and bones in exchange for a spot in the dog bed. Note how she has taken all his offerings and is still refusing to move. I took this photo just as Jayne realized his plan had failed, and now he had no bones or toys.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thankful 12-19

Holy crap, I've gotten behind!

9 November 2011
My HHR. It's been in the shop for more than a week, and I miss it terribly!

10 November 2011
Revy's cute little roo-roo howl. It's cute, and since I've been rewarding her for it... she's been doing it more frequently.

11 November 2011
Kaylee snuggles. She's the best lap-dog in the entire world.

12 November 2011
Jayne. He's such a special dog, I can't imagine life without him.

13 November 2011
My husband. Because while he can be a little annoying at times, he really knows how to cheer me up. Even if it means a stomachache later on... thanks for the 1lb bar of chocolate when I only asked for a Dove bar, buddy!

14 November 2011
It hasn't snowed yet.

15 November 2011
Shoot, I'm running out of ideas. Uhhh.... the post office? I love getting mail!

16 November 2011
All the opportunities I have to do fun stuff with the dogs.

17 November 2011
Illinois Doberman Rescue, for being such a beacon of hope to all animals - Dobermans mostly, but other dogs (and cats!) as well.

18 November 2011
The Ramones. Their music makes cleaning the entire house more bearable. Besides, scrubbing the bathtub is a lot more fun when you're singing at the top of your lungs "I wanna be sedated!"

19 November 2011
I'm thankful I'm at the end of this blog post. I'm tired!

Oh, and did I mention I'm thankful for puppies? Yeah, puppies are pretty cool.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Unlike.

Those of you not on Facebook, rejoice - this will not apply to you. I know it's childish to complain about anything that happens on a social networking site, but I've noticed a disappointing trend and it's time that someone said what so many of us are thinking.

Most Likes contests. Who likes 'em? Not I, said... me.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not blaming the businesses. I'm blaming the people that enter the contests and don't play nice. Apparently it's too much to ask that everyone act like adults, especially when it involves free merchandise. Over the past year or two, I've been able to identify the types of people that ruin fun Facebook contests.

1. The Smear Campaign
Some people rally against others in an effort to get votes for themselves. I don't understand it, I don't even have words for it - it's low, it's dirty, it's disappointing. If you can't win on your own merits, don't enter at all. There's no reason to drag others through the dirt because they threaten your chances of winning.

2. The Bleeding Heart
Having a sad rescue story doesn't make your dog deserve to win any more than the pretty purebred dog from a breeder. There are tons of dogs with horrible beginnings - yours is not unique. You can't assume that the other dogs in the running have had an easier time than yours. So please - unless the contest is specifically geared towards rescues, don't use your dog's past as a tool to guilt people into voting for you. Even worse is when this is used to guilt the businesses running the contests into giving you the prize anyway, even if you lose. Note: A subcategory of The Bleeding Heart is The Bleeding Heart + Smearer. The BH+S not only uses their dog's sad past as a way to garner votes, but trashes other dogs in the process. "You people shouldn't vote for that ugly Aussie, it's from a stupid evil show breeder - vote for Scruffy because he's a rescue found in a trashbin!" *

3. The Hoarder
Some people get all the luck. Over and over and over again. Common courtesy... if you win something, it might be nice to let someone else win the next contest. If you win a collar, please don't enter a contest for another collar - from the same company - less than a week later. Share the wealth.

4. The Clean Sweep
Some Facebook contests have more than one winner, for more than one category. Some people enter all categories and get angry if they don't win everything. Greedy much? Share the wealth.

5. The Professional
I understand that if you have a lot of friends, it's easy to win contests that focus on the Most Likes. What I find disappointing is when these "professional contestants" enter every contest they can find and then end up with a ton of free goodies. Meanwhile, everyday pets without professional portraits and "publicists" are being left in the dust. Share the wealth.

6. The Sore Loser
This is actually a blanket category that can - and does - include categories 1 through 5. Sore losers are the worst... newsflash, you're getting something for free. You aren't paying to enter, you have no claim to the prize. Don't complain to the business if you lose - It makes you look childish, and it's poor sportsmanship.



People... this all needs to stop. It's embarrassing, and it puts the businesses in an awkward position. They're trying to do something nice for their customers, and what thanks do they get? Snarky comments and nasty accusations of "not being fair."

Businesses... it might be nice to evaluate how effective these "Most Likes" contests have become. They used to be great, but they've turned into trainwrecks. The contests that really seem to work are the ones that don't rely on Most Likes, but rather the opinions of the businesses themselves.

As for myself... you won't see me enter any Most Likes contests anymore. I haven't for awhile, but not because I'm a sore loser - I just don't like asking my friends and family to vote for my own personal gain. Besides - to date, I have actually won a few Facebook contests, and I'd like to practice what I preach. This is me, sharing the wealth. ;)



* PS - I am in no way anti-rescue. I foster, I volunteer, I transport, I donate. I have two shelter kitties, and a puppy rescued from the streets of Mexico coming home soon. I just want to make that clear.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hodgepodge 4.0

When I was little, I thought the part in AC/DC's song Dirty Deeds was "Thunder Chief" instead of "done dirt cheap." I like my version better.

One time I ate so many grapes that I started hallucinating, lost all sense of direction and vomited on my great aunt. It was hilarious, in a distinctly horrifying and embarrassing way.

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On totally made my day. Thanks Mandy - hugs to you!

My car should be done late this week. Or possibly early next week. New fender, new wheel-well, possibly new bumper, and new hood. Antler damage. Excellent.

I'm beginning to miss having a foster dog in the house. I won't lie - it's a lot easier not having one - but I miss helping. This is probably brought on by the sad fact that Katie is at The Bridge now. Poor girl had a great 9 months, but I'll forever be sad that she never got her "forever home." It was nice to have known you, Mulberry Girl...


Friday, November 11, 2011

Thankful 8-11

I hope you all don't mind that I'm not doing this daily. It seems to work better in batches, and lets me write about other topics on days I don't do Thankful.

8 November 2011
I'm thankful for my company, and the opportunity they gave me to work from home. I enjoy it - working in pajamas, getting to spend all day with the dogs, and of course the direct and indirect ways I'm saving money. It's a bit embarrassing to admit this, but I spent about $50 each week - just on food - at work. Omelette and hashbrowns, soda, and the inevitable trip to Starbucks was quickly nickle-and-diming me into the poorhouse. Cutting out more than $250/month for fuel has helped too. With my little deer accident on Wednesday, I've been able to keep on working - despite having no mode of transportation. Yeah. Pretty darn thankful for "WFH."

9 November 2011
I'm thankful for Aryn's internet savviness. Before this whole mess with the deer, we'd entered a dog show in Minneapolis. It seems a waste to discard our entries, so we're going to the show anyway. Instead of a cruddy, bedbug infested hotel room, Aryn was able to find a house to rent for the weekend for about the same price as said nasty hotel. Private rooms, fenced yard, hiking trails, a fully functional kitchen, more than one bathroom, wi-fi... it's going to be an excellent weekend.

10 November 2011
I'm thankful that all the dogs love each other. I don't know how or why they've bonded so closely, but they have - and I'm not about to argue with the amazing pack dynamic we've got going on right now. I just hope adding Tallahassee doesn't mess it up.

11 November 2011
I'm thankful that I'm a homeowner. Renting had its place in my life - and owning a home has not come without its share of frustrations and "Oh Shit Moments" - but as a whole, I really like our house. It's not perfect, but it doesn't have to be. It's ours, and we love it.

Even if the kitchen does still look like this. Yow. Holy mustard, Batman!


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Buck My Life.

As of 6pm tonight, I am officially an Iowan. I can't believe it took me thirteen years of driving to gain my full Iowan citizenship.

I hit a deer with my car.

Before you ask, yes - everyone is okay. Everyone but the deer, that is.

If I'd hit it with an arrow or a bullet, I'd imagine my dearly departed grandfather would be very proud of my "bag." It was a big, robust-looking buck with a huge rack - I'm talking "decapitate that thing and stick it on the wall" huge. I can only imagine he's gone to the big cornfield in the sky, judging by how hard I hit him and how much of him was left on my passenger-side fender.

This sort of thing just happens in Iowa. Apparently November is the worst month for car-deer collisions, since Daylight Savings aligns the "commuting traffic" time with the "deer going about their bizniz" time. Yet another reason why I hate Daylight Savings.

I don't think the HHR is in too bad of shape. Luckily it has huge retro-looking fender things, and that's the only part of the car that seems to be damaged. If I'd been driving any other car, the hood, windshield and possibly the passenger-side door would be majorly messed up right now. Who knows, maybe Mr. Buck would have come through my windshield. You know what, let's not think about that. That's not a happy thought. We'll keep things positive, and say that my HHR did an excellent job of keeping me not dead.

Hopefully the auto-body shop has good news for me tomorrow. Either way, I'm guessing I'll be forking over my $500 comprehensive deductible. Hooray. I don't think I'll be buying any Christmas gifts this year. Thanks, Mr. Buck. You ruined Christmas.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Hodgepodge 3.0

What did people do before electric hand mixers? Did people just not bake at all? I don't own an electric hand mixer. Never have, and unless a relative buys me one for a gift-giving holiday, I never will. I've managed just fine without one for my entire adult life.

I love Parks & Recreation. It has the spark that The Office lost a few seasons ago. Ron Swanson is my hero.

Last time I did a Hodgepodge, I was complaining about the price of chicken. Hy-Vee must read my blog, because chicken was on sale yesterday for 99 cents per pound! I now have about three million pounds of chicken.

I often find myself needing a weekend for my weekend.

I house-sat/pet-sat for a friend recently, and this is probably my favorite photo I took while I was there:



The end, for tonight.

Thankful 7

7 November 2011
I'm thankful for... potatoes. Yeah, that's right, potatoes. I don't know what I'd do without them - they're a huge staple of my celiac diet. Bake 'em, mash 'em, put 'em in a stew... the possibilities are limitless with potatoes.

My favorites are the B-size yukon golds sold in bulk at the grocery store. They're cheap - 79 cents per pound - because they're not huge and plump. I don't care how big they are - they smaller ones have more flavor, and the skins are still thin enough to leave on without my husband complaining. Whatever dude - potato skins are nutritious!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thankful 5-6

Sorry, sorry, I was dogsitting this weekend so I didn't post Saturday's Thankful. Until now, that is.

5 November 2011
I'm thankful for people that understand my frustrations. It makes me feel like less of a horrible person when I have someone to commiserate with.

6 November 2011
I'm thankful for fall-time Daylight Savings. One extra hour of sleep makes me happy!

Also, puppies. I'm thankful for puppies. That goes for every day of the month.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Thankful 1-4

Forgive me, I stole this idea from a friend on a dog forum. We all complain a lot, but truth be told there's a lot to be thankful for in this life. Every day this month, I'm going to post something I'm thankful for, and if you feel comfortable - I'd like you to do the same.

I have some catching up to do, so here's 1-4.

1 November 2011
I'm thankful for cool parents. They sent us an extremely thoughtful Halloween gift that shows how much they pay attention to what we like.




2 November 2011
I'm thankful for Revy's breeder - I couldn't have found a better corgi breeder if I'd tried. She has been 100% supportive of us during Revy's diagnosis and recovery. No blame, no excuses, no deflection, no denial - nothing but support. Kudos to the breeder that can do that.




3 November 2011
I'm thankful for friends that have faith in my artistic/photographic abilities, especially when I'm doubting myself. I'll admit, the big green monster comes out when people talk to me about photography equipment because I don't have the money to buy anything more than I already have - and what I have isn't exactly something to be "proud of." $400 may not seem like a lot of money to some of you, but to me that's too much to spend on a piece of photography equipment right now. I start doubting my abilities, because I get sucked into the false assumption that equipment equals talent. Those of you that snap me out of it... thanks. I really appreciate all you do to make me feel better about myself.




4 November 2011
I'm thankful that I know so many kind people that recognize a need and leap at the opportunity to make it right. I have to leave it at that, because it's sort of a secret... so here's a picture of a chocolate ghetto bunny. Heh.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

It's Official.

Texas A&M confirmed it. Revy is officially an EPI dog. Medical alert tag ordered, enzyme supplier found, kibble selected.

Once our bottle of Pancrezyme is gone, we'll be ordering the human equivalent (Pancreatin) from this site. It's what most EPI dogs are on, since it's drastically cheaper than the veterinary formula. Our food choices are as follows:

  • Natural Balance ALPHA Dog (any formula)
  • California Natural Grainfree (any formula)
  • Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream
  • Acana Ranchlands (we may try this - but the fat content might be too high.)

For training, we will be mixing up her food and putting in these refillable squeeze tubes. It'll make rewards a lot easier than spooning out the glop from a tupperware container.

Oh, the glop? Yeah... this is what it looks like:



Yum, delicious.

I'll end this with a bit of good news - since starting enzymes, Revy has gained 1.7lbs!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Heavy Stuff.

Revy is a dream come true. Her breeder is wonderful, her pedigree is wonderful, she is wonderful. If every Pembroke Welsh Corgi in the world was just like her, I'd probably own a dozen of them.



A few months ago, I noticed she was getting thin.

Now, I've always kept my corgis on the lean side. Obesity is a huge problem in the breed, so I've always tried very hard to not let it happen. But this wasn't just leanness - this was skinny. I increased her food, thinking she just needed a few more calories. Nope. I switched her to a better food, thinking she needed something with a bit more 'oomph.' Nope. Shoot. By this time, I could feel all her ribs, and her hip bones were starting to show. For a dog with such a full and luxurious coat, this was cause for alarm.



Once the oily poop started, I freaked out and made a vet appointment. Naturally, I also voiced my concerns on one of the more trustworthy internet dog forums I frequent. A friend of mine (a nutritionist) mentioned that it could be SIBO/EPI... that's Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth / Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency. EPI basically means that the pancreas isn't producing the necessary enzymes for digestion, so the dog is literally starving to death due to malabsorption. I made note of this, and asked the vet about running specific blood tests to see if that could be the culprit.

The vet tentatively agreed with the possibility of it at least being EPI. He ran a CBC/Chem panel, and also sent a cTLI test out to Texas A&M. The CBC/Chem came back yesterday - normal, except for elevated ALT. Normal range is 9 to 99, and Revy's ALT is 213. Yikes. Yet another tick-mark on the long list of symptoms indicative of EPI. Since it's most likely EPI, the vet had us start treatment before the results of the cTLI came back. How's that for reassuring?

  • Yellow-grey, oily loose stools
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Ravenous appetite
  • Large, frequent stools
  • Sour-smelling stools
  • Coprophagia (eating poop)
  • Pica (eating non-food items)
  • Elevated ALT with an otherwise normal blood panel

Yep, that's her list of symptoms that fit in with EPI. Fan-friggin-tastic. There is no cure for EPI, but it can be managed with a specific diet and medications.

First, we had to find a kibble that fit the specific guidelines for a standard EPI diet. Grain-free, with 12% or less fat and 4% or less fiber. Talk about a needle in a haystack! For now she's eating Natural Balance Alpha Dog Lamb, Chicken Meal and Rabbit formula, but we'll be switching to California Natural Grain Free Chicken formula soon. (Any of the three original California Natural Grain Free formulas will work, but the chicken formula is the least expensive.) Instead of feeding it in kibble form, we grind it:



Side note: This also means I get to eat a lot of rainbow sherbet... for the plastic tubs, of course. Hooray!

Next, we add the prescription enzymes to the ground-up kibble. This stuff isn't cheap - roughly $100 for a 40 day supply. I guess you can put a price on love, and KV Vet says it's $94.95 for 8 ounces.



Next, we add warm water to activate the enzymes, stir up the glop and let it sit for about 45 minutes. Give the glop another stir, and Revy gets to eat her delicious pre-digested meal.

Once we get her stabilized, we may add coconut oil and/or probiotics to her regimen.

Oddly enough, I remember caring for an EPI dog back when I was fourteen years old and worked in the kennels of a local animal hospital. I didn't know it was EPI at the time, but to this day I remember the smell of the Pancrezyme powder. I remember liking the smell - how ironic that I get to smell it every day for the next decade or more.

Here are a couple great links on EPI. Before you ask any questions, at least read through the first link, as it's quite thorough and explains the hows and whys behind the disease.

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency in Dogs

EPI4Dogs

We've got a long road ahead of us, but I think we're going to be fine.

Paco Strikes Again

I love Paco Collars.

Not only is the quality and craftsmanship fantastic, but their customer service and integrity - and plain old kindness - impresses me time and time again.

So many people complain about the cost. I'm by no means rich, but I manage. It does help that I've been a good friend and promoter (at least, I think so) of their products for years. Where there is a will, there is a way - if you need a Paco Collar, you'll figure out how to make it happen. And if I may be so bold to say, Paco Collars will probably help you in any way they can.

Anyway, here's our latest addition to our Paco collection - a deluxe Rocko in silver and black, no tapering. As always, its quality is breathtaking.





Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hodgepodge 2.0

I have a lot to talk about. Most of it is pretty heavy stuff, and I need to figure out a way to say it. In the meantime, I have a few random thoughts.

I train the dogs with mozzarella cheese sticks. Now, whenever I eat a cheese stick as a snack, the dogs shoot unamused, accusing glares in my direction. 'That's our cheese, lady...'

Sometimes "the best dog food" isn't "the right dog food." I don't care if XYZ brand is fantastic - if it doesn't fit my specific requirements, I'm not interested in it.

Since when has the price of three Hy-Vee chicken breasts gone up to more than $7.00? This is getting ridiculous, folks.

When I have a headache, I want something that will soothe away my pain. Red is not a soothing color. What possessed Excedrin to make their Tension Headache pills bright friggin' red?



Stay tuned for the heavy stuff. It's coming... I just can't say when.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Twenty-Six Uses.

Last weekend, my friend Aryn convinced me to buy a jacket for our roadtrip in February. It's fuzzy and warm, made by Columbia... and has these weird fabric loop things on the sleeves.



We can't figure out what purpose they serve. The Columbia website offers no answers. To be funny, I've come up with twenty-six possible uses for the mystery loops.

1. anchor-points for mittens
2. if I was to be arrested, they could paddlock my sleeves together
3. a place to attach the leashes of two very small dogs
4. a place to store rolled-up piles of kleenex
5. a place to store candy bars (yum!)
6. anchor-point for my ID badge from work
7. straps to help me hang on the ceiling like a ninja
8. a way I can pretend to wear spectacles. Or be a raccoon.
9. finger-loops, in case we need to create a human chain for safety
10. if I put my thumbs in them when putting on a larger coat, my sleeves won't bunch up!
11. hang bells from them, and then people would always know my location
12. "somehow use them to hold the sleeves out of the way" - that was one of Aryn's ideas.
13. "Sylvester Stallone in Cliffhanger!" - Mike's idea.
14. something to chew on when bored
15. an effective tool when playing Red Rover
16. "to hook to something else on the coat" - another Aryn idea. I don't quite get her train of thought.
17. a way to anchor the jacket into a larger Columbia shell coat
18. to aid in magic tricks - specifically, ones involving levitation of objects
19. attach grocery bags to them so I can carry more groceries
20. attachment points to a pole in case you need to use the coat as a flag.
21. a way to hold multiple axes in a zombie apocalypse - did you SEE the cool axes the kid found in the season premiere of The Walking Dead last week? Yeah!
22. a way to hang the coat from your glasses so it looks like you have a fuzzy beard. Convenient for heists.
23. if you hook a water balloon to them and swing the coat around, the balloon will travel a greater distance.
24. attach poo-bags to the loops so you don't have to hold onto them during a walk.
25. to be mysterious, so people wonder about them. Like what I'm doing now.
26. a way to talk about a Columbia product so much that they'll send me free stuff. Probably unlikely.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A blog about a blog...

After last week's success, I got a bit more serious about my 'silly photography business.' Namely, I plastered the internet with photos and created a photography-specific blog. I also kept yelling, "Let's do this thing!" a la Ratatouille, though I'm unsure if that actually helped my situation, or if it was just fun and made the dogs give me funny looks.



Behold, the Sizzledog Photography blog.

We'll just have to wait and see where this takes me. Our next shoot is an Agility trial, which could be great or could be a disaster. We shall see.