Sunday, January 30, 2011

52 Weeks of Dogs: 5/52, Colours

"Burnt Sienna"

Yes, I know my last post was Week 4. I told you I was really late with last week's entry!

I chose brown for this week - my favorite color. I'm not talking boring, flat browns.... this photo is all about the rich, vibrant, deep browns and oranges that make red Dobermans ever so cool! This puppy is 6 weeks, 5 days old.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

52 Weeks of Dogs: 4/52, Oh! The Places You'll Go!

"Is this heaven? Nope... Iowa." (yes, I paraphrased. Get over it.)

This was a tough one for me - as you can see, I'm almost a week late with my photo. The problem is, Iowa is a dark and dreary place in the wintertime. When I leave for work, it's dark. When I come home from work, it's dark. The only time I can go elsewhere to get photos is on the weekend, and usually my weekends are jam-packed with other activities.

But alas, a promise is a promise - I swore I'd get 52 photos in this series, so 52 photos I will get!

I took Louie downtown to the grain elevator for this shot. Not only was this photo taken off my property, but Louie recently moved from Minnesota to Illinois - and then spent a week in Iowa with me! (PS - this photo is really best viewed on a large scale. Click the photo to see it in its full glory!)


This is a topic that I have been itching to write about. I may alter a few friendships by doing so, but it's a very important aspect of my life and I feel that it's important to voice where my husband and I stand on this issue.

My husband and I will not be having children. We will not be changing our minds. We made the decision before we got married that children were not in our future, and we expect our family and friends to respect that decision.

As with any group of like-minded individuals, there are fanatics. Unfortunately there are Childfree people in this world that make the rest of us look bad by being overly hostile when they share their beliefs. My husband and I try very hard not to stoop to that level. Just as we expect people to respect our decision to be Childfree, we respect others' decision to have children. However, this does not mean we welcome other people's children into our home or our lives unless we absolutely have to.

We live in a child-centric world. This is great for some people, but not for us. I have had health professionals put my life and health in jeopardy because of the chance that I might change my mind in the next five years and want a child. I ended up needing emergency surgery because of the misguided actions of those doctors. I very well could have bled to death from a hemorrhagic uterine tumor - it was a very real risk, but my doctors put off surgery for a week because they claimed they had to "respect my uterus" and my "ability to bear children." That week was hell for me - I was so anemic that they couldn't take any more of my blood for testing, I had pica and spent about 20 hours a day sleeping because I was so weak from the blood loss. I had to sleep on a grocery bag and a pile of towels because the bleeding was beyond my control. I was on high-dose prescription painkillers to help ease the agony of having a grapefruit-sized tumor bleeding out, but those pills just barely took the edge off. My husband had to take care of the animals all by himself, in addition to taking care of me and working full-time. Every day I worried that I'd go to sleep and not wake up the next morning.

This was a very angry time in my life, because no less than six specialists had reduced my self-worth to that of an incubator for the next generation. They apparently had more respect for my reproductive system than they did for ME - a living, breathing, highly educated adult woman who had always known she would not be a mother. To this day, my gynecologist does not like me because I pressured her into giving me an IUD. The thinly veiled disgust on her face when we discuss my lack of desire for children is a hard signal to miss. She herself told me that the IUD was not my best option. Given the health (or lack thereof) of my reproductive system, the best option for me is a hysterectomy - but that option is not on the table because the medical world says I need another 5 years to be mentally capable of making that decision. That is the world we live in.

It's very difficult to live a Childfree lifestyle in a family-focused world. Family-types have the support of society; we don't. Childfree people are often not given the same amount of respect and understanding for our decisions. We frequently hear disapproving/disbelieving comments such as:

"You'll change your mind!"
"You'll love them when they're your own!"
"You're being so selfish by not having kids!"
"You don't know what you're missing!"
"Your love of animals proves you have the maternal instinct!"
"Nonsense, you'd be great parents! Your kids would be so wonderful!"
"Who will take care of you when you are old?"
"Don't you think you owe your parents some grandchildren?"
" You aren't having kids? Omigosh, that's so sad! I feel so bad for you!"

Ah, the things some people say that make Childfree people bristle. Many people say they respect our choice to be Childfree, but often trivialize our life decisions by actually implying, "Parenthood is the best experience in the world, but I suppose you can make your own silly little choices, you poor dears!" We are happy with our decision to not have kids - to us, living in a Kid-Free Zone is the best experience in the world. In fact, we spend very little time thinking about our Childfree lifestyle at all - we take the dogs on day-long hikes in nature, we go to dog shows, we rehabilitate rescued dogs, we play video games, we watch movies, we go out to eat at our favorite sushi restaurant, we cook, we curl up on the sofa with a pile of dogs and a good book... the only time we even think about children is when other people bring up how "sad" our lack of having any is.

All I'm asking for is respect. If you want kids, great - have as many as you want. If that's what makes your life whole, more power to you - and I'm truly happy that you find such joy in them. But please, do not think less of me for not sharing your enthusiasm, and do not expect me to change my stripes and enjoy their company as much as you do. Thinking I'm wrong for not wanting kids would be like me thinking you're wrong for not wanting a 4ft long African python in your dining room. My husband and I do have such a creature in our dining room, we love him very much but we don't kid ourselves into thinking everyone else is "missing out on life" because they don't have one too.

Please understand that children are not welcome in our home. This not us being selfish or mean, this is us understanding that our home is not the ideal environment for your children. We have several large, territorial dogs that do not like children on their home turf. Our house is not kid-proof. We are protecting your children by barring them from our home.

If you're interested to hear a calm, well-spoken narrative by another young woman who has never had any interest in having children, click here. It was produced by National Public Radio's program, "The Story" - it's a great piece of media that truly embodies how Childfree people feel.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Another day, another dog show

I haven't been to a dog show in awhile, and I'm beginning to miss it. Dog shows have a funny way of making a horrible weekend into something to remember fondly - even though everyone can agree that the weekend still sucked. Today, as I travel down memory lane, I'd like to share one of the best pit stops along the way.

The Rock Island IL Show, 2010

My friend Aryn and I were driving to Rock Island for yet another dog show. Aryn was showing her dog Rocket, and I was showing a young Doberman named Spartacus. We left very early in the morning, as it was a three hour trip and our ring time was at 8am. I do not recommend doing this - but in this case it was unavoidable. When you're tired, bad things happen. This is a Rule of the Universe, and there are no exceptions.

It all started with Aryn getting a call from her husband about 45 minutes into the drive, asking if she needed the blue gym bag he'd found sitting next to their front door. Aryn let out a shriek and screamed that YES, the DID need that bag but it was too late to turn back now. That bag contained everything - show clothes, non-show clothes, toiletries... everything. Even shoes. All Aryn had were the clothes on her back, which consisted of a pair of pajama pants, a dress, a light jacket and a pair of fuzzy clogs.

We decided we needed to stop at Target, or else Aryn would have no shoes for the show and no toothbrush for the entire weekend. Unfortunately, it was so early in the morning that none of the Targets we passed were open yet. Our best bet would be to get to Rock Island and look for Target close to the show site.

Moline Illinois ended up providing us with a Target store. Aryn ran in and bought shoes, figuring we'd go shopping again once the dog show was over. Our next step was to make it to the show site. We got lost. Amidst our rage and hysterics, we made some bad decisions.

I yelled, "your dog is FAT!" at someone walking a morbidly obese cockapoo, only to realize that the car windows were open. Aryn yelled profanity about the whole "forgetting the gym bag" situation and also forgot the windows were open, so she ended up scaring the people (including the small children) in the car next to us. When we got to the show site, the lot attendant said there was no parking so we'd have to park off-site and use the public bus system. Aryn was not pleased, and accidentally voiced what she was thinking to the lot attendant. Attendant got mad, and we had to park illegally in a city lot. There was no way the city bus was going to let us board with an 80lb Doberman, so we had to lug all our gear to the site.... 5 blocks away.

The actual dog show went fine, aside from when our dogs' breeder yelled at me for not coming to the show dressed in show attire and when the show photographer yelled at Aryn. And no, for the record I did not wear jeans and an Art Club shirt in the ring. I wore normal show clothes.

We had a really bad lunch. Not only was the food terrible, but the credit card machine stopped working.

When it was time to leave the show, we argued with our dogs' breeder about Target. She insisted there wasn't a Target in the area. We insisted that there was, because we'd been there that same morning! Eventually we made it to the mythical Target and bought essentials. Then we drove to the breeder's house to spend the night.

We all went out to dinner, and Aryn and I had too much to drink... it was slightly embarrassing but hilarious. The worst part was that it wasn't just us - there were puppy buyers at dinner! We made fools of herself in front of puppy buyers! (Okay, I made a fool out of myself. Aryn had the good graces to shut up and play with her margarita glass.... though she did stumble/skip out to the van afterwards, laughing like a maniac.

Early the next morning we woke up at the crack of dawn... I was not happy about that. We then proceeded to do "dog chores" for three hours. We casually mentioned that Aryn's car needed fuel in order to get back to the show. Again, the breeder thought we were joking.

Me: Aryn's car needs gas, we'll meet you there.
Breeder: What? You need gas to get to the show?
Aryn: (speechless, eyes wide and mouth hanging open)
Me: Nooo, the car runs on fairy dust and kitten farts!

As you can see, I had lost my ability to filter my words. I think the breeder was a bit shocked that I talked back to her like that.

We showed. Nothing remarkable happened. On the way home I realized I'd accidentally left my purse and camera at the breeder's house, so we had to backtrack an hour to retrieve them. Then Rocket peed on Aryn's leg. At this point, it felt as if we'd fallen into some parallel universe where everything was out to get us. We weren't sure which option was better - laughing until we peed our pants, going on a murderous rampage... or killing ourselves.

The car ride home wasn't easy either. In fact, it was so choc-full of adventure and disaster that I feel compelled to make a list:

1. Two weird guys in a white van followed us and kept waving at us. Creepy.
2. Two fat pugs on Flexi leads attacked Aryn's car, leaving scratches on her front bumper.
3. We saw a really weird deer by the side of the road. We think it was either pooping, giving birth or badly injured, because it was squatting like a dog does when it poops. But I don't think deer poop that way, so your guess is as good as mine. We pondered over that deer for a good thirty minutes.
4. A big SUV full of guys pulled up alongside us, waving a sign that read, "Boobs for world peace?" We nearly drove off the road laughing. What really got me was the question mark.... why on earth did they pose it as a question?
5. The McDonalds drive-thru attendant spilled a huge cup of sweet tea all over Aryn. No joke, it was a huge cup of tea.

Welcome to the world of dog shows, folks. It's never dull. And every time Aryn wears her "emergency outfit" she bought that weekend, I chuckle.

Proof that the weekend wasn't a total waste - at least I put two points on Spartacus!

Monday, January 24, 2011

The fine line between Determined and Pathetic

I had to pick up Allicyn from her foster-foster mom today. A simple drive up to Ames turned into a frantic search for my Holy Grail, my Holiest of Holies.... the Cadbury Mini Egg.

But before I get into my story, I should give a class course in MiniEggology.

Cadbury mini eggs are small, bite sized chocolate eggs covered in a thick, crisp, matte-finish candy coating. If M&Ms had a Chuck Norris figure in their world, the Cadbury Mini Egg would be IT. There's no filling, no nasty paste inside - just pure, unadulterated chocolate and sugar. My favorite way to eat them is to microwave them just long enough for the chocolate to melt inside... 46 seconds.

Mini Eggs have been my favorite candy since I first encountered them in middle school. They are only sold in the springtime. I usually start looking for them once Iowa begins to thaw out in March, so you can imagine my surprise two weeks ago when I discovered an entire case of Mini Eggs in the local HyVee. I must have momentarily lost consciousness, because I don't remember anything between the first glimpse of those glorious royal-purple bags to the moment when I found myself sitting in my car, grinning like a crazy person with about 8 pint-sized baggies of Mini eggs in my clenched fists.

It was a week of bliss. Melty, chocolatey, mini-eggy bliss.

I let my husband have the last baggie, thinking that it would be easy to get more. This, my friends, was a grave mistake. When I went back to the store to get more, they were gone.

Fast forward to this evening.

As I said, I was driving to Ames to pick up Allicyn. I was a bit early, so I stopped at the local feed store to kill time. When I walked in, I saw a case of Mini Eggs! I decided to grab a few bags when I was ready to leave, but then some snot-nosed kid grabbed the last bag! Curses!

So I decided to drive to a real grocery store and try my luck. I had time to kill, after all. They had an entire endcap labeled "Cadbury Mini Eggs" but they were sold out. Drat.

On to the next grocery store. They too had a large section of the candy aisle dedicated to Mini Eggs, and from the end of the aisle I could see dark purple bags.... yes.... I was in luck! Oblivious to the stares of my fellow shoppers, I sprinted down the aisle with a huge grin on my face. But wait... what was THIS? Dark Chocolate Mini Eggs? BLASPHEMY!

At this point I checked the time... I needed to pick up Allicyn in 15 minutes. Did I have time to drive across town to see if the third (and last) HyVee in Ames had my precious Mini Eggs? Yes.... yes! I totally had time, if I drove really fast and cut through campus! As I sped wildly through the streets of my alma mater, I started to think about what I was really doing. Feelings of disgust, shame and embarrassment and a tiny bit of amusement melded together and I thought, "My god... this is pathetic! Leah, you've just spend the last hour driving around looking for little pieces of chocolate! Have you no sense of self-worth?"

I debated calling off the search, but I was about a mile away from The Last HyVee so I continued on. As I trudged through the slushy parking lot to check for Mini Eggs, I realized that what I was doing was possibly the lamest thing I've done all winter. I felt as if I had a neon sign over my head that said, "Girl With No Life, Looking For Chocolate" with a big arrow pointed at my head.

The Last Hyvee's seasonal candy section was being stocked by two teenage clerks. It would have been too embarrassing to shove them out of the way to look for my chocolate, so I tried to look busy by examining the store's meager offering of school supplies in the adjacent aisle. Once the clerks were finished, I stole a glance at the shelf.

...No Mini Eggs. :(

When I got home, I told my husband what had transpired. I made him promise that he would take responsibility in this matter, and provide his poor pathetic wife with Mini Eggs at the soonest opportunity. I didn't tell him that I do not intend to share my Mini Eggs with him... the less he knows about my Mini Egg addiction, the better.

Monday, January 17, 2011

An Update on Miracle

Miracle's story is spreading like wildfire.

Most of the response has been positive, but it stings a bit when the only thing some people can say is, "He doesn't have much of a chance, even if he starts eating it'll shock his system and he'll die anyway... wouldn't it make more sense to put time, money and effort into a dog that is readily adoptable?"

I'd like to address, in my own opinion, why we're trying to save him. Miracle has shown a strong will to live ever since our volunteer first saw him. Even when he was so cold that his temperature didn't register, when his head was so sunken that his eyes weren't visible, he was still trying to eat a bit of food from our volunteer's hands. You don't give up on a dog like that, not when the dog is fighting so hard for his life.

And he's getting better, he's improving every day. Trust me, if he was a lost cause we wouldn't be stringing him along. And whatever attention Miracle is bringing to our rescue is also helping our other dogs. Miracle isn't the only rough case we have right now... we have an American Bulldog named Logan who is also extremely emaciated. We just finished rehabilitating a deaf dog (pointer x pit bull?) named Tumaini, who was so emaciated that she had huge pressure sores on her hips.

Sure, we could be putting our time, money and resources towards other dogs, but feeding a poor dog isn't "heroics" - it's simply the right thing to do. So the next time you think it's "not worth it" to offer a starving dog a warm bed and some food, think about Miracle. Think about how much he has improved with a week of food, warmth and compassion.

As of today, Miracle no longer needs his IV. He is eating, pooping (hooray for poo!) and he took five steps on his own. Aren't you glad we haven't given up on him?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

52 Weeks of Dogs: Week 3/52, The Eyes

"Jewel Heist"

It was a given that I'd use Revy again this week - her eye is her best feature! I chose this photo because not only does it show off both of her beautiful eyes, but also her mismatched whiskers... black on one side, white on the other!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Do you believe in Miracles?

I'm probably a little late to the party by blogging about this now, but I didn't want to say much until I had some good news to help temper the bad. This is the same organization that my husband and I volunteer and foster for... we're on our third IDR+ foster dog... but that is neither here nor there. This blog entry isn't about Allicyn today.

Two days ago, Illinois Doberman Rescue pulled this dog out of a shelter. He was alive, but just barely. Animal Control had found him abandoned in an alley - he was so cold that his temperature didn't even register. Something about him said, "don't give up on me" - and luckily our volunteers heard him.

Instead of euthanasia, this 33lb shadow of a Doberman was rushed to an IDR vet in Joliet, Illinois for emergency treatment. The extent of his emaciated condition is horrifying - when we first got him, his head was so sunken in that his eyes weren't even visible. You could see every bone in his body, including neck vertebrae. To insert an IV, the vet actually had to cut into his neck.

Here's his intake photo. Be warned... it's probably one of the most upsetting images you will ever see.

His name is Miracle.

As of noon today, Miracle's temperature is up to 100.2 degrees and his weight is up to 48lbs. He's lifting his head, he's eating on his own, he's improving. Radiographs show that he has a pellet in him, as well as a mess of wire... which I interpret to mean 1.) he was shot by someone, and 2.) he was so hungry he ate metal wire. But whatever horrors are in Miracles past, whatever unkindness he has known... he's safe with us now, and he wants so desperately to live and be loved.

Here's Miracle a mere two days after his rescue. He is a testament to the resiliency and strength of the world's most honest and true creature, the Dog. It also goes to show that when people from all walks of life join together to do good, Miracles do happen.

While Miracle is received an avalanche of support, he needs all the help he can get. His veterinary bills are going to be astronomical. If you would like to help Miracle (or any of the other special and needy dogs that the volunteers of IDR have opened their arms and hearts to) visit the website (click here) and donate via the Paypal button below Miracle's story. If you prefer to send a check, you may send it to Illinois Doberman Rescue, PO Box 435, Barrington IL 60011. If you want your donation to go directly to Miracle, just mention his name in Paypal notes or on your check.

I'll try to update Miracle's progress here as often as I can!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Shameless Plug Sunday: Paco Collars

I have an obsession with dog collars. I have hundreds of them. Every few years they begin to unionize and I have to ship many of them off to the local animal shelter. But there is one collar company whose products I'll never get rid of... their collars are so amazing, so durable, so stylish and so practical that I cannot help but act like a silly fangirl whenever they're mentioned in conversation.

This week's shameless plug goes out to.... Paco Collars!

Yes, they're a bit more expensive than you're probably used to.... but trust me, they're worth it! While other leather collar companies tell you to keep their products dry, the folks at Paco Collars proudly challenge you to "get it wet, get it dirty."

Can't afford a Paco Collar? No problem! The company accepts barter as a form of payment, and that's actually how I've gotten several of my Paco Collars. They also have "oops" collars from time to time that they sell for a discounted rate - check their Facebook page for good deals!

How tough are Paco Collars? Well, Kaylee's collar was lost in the 2011 flood and didn't resurface for three months. It spent three months in a puddle of nasty floodwater... and Kaylee is wearing it right now. It didn't fall apart, it didn't get ruined, it didn't even deteriorate - the only sign that it had a rough three months is the deep patina that the brass picked up along the way. I considered using a brass-cleaning chemical on it to spruce it up, but instead I've left it alone to serve as a visual reminder of why my dogs (and cats) will always wear Paco. It's now known as the famous "Shipwreck Collar."

How awesome is the Paco Collars staff? Will they do the bare minimum or do they really treat their customers like family? I have a very special collar made by Paco... there are only two in existence, and the second one was given away at the United Doberman Club Nationals. I asked the folks at Paco if they could recreate the collar worn by the Doberman in the War Dog Memorial in Guam. They said they'd try... and what they came up with was nothing short of a miracle. It was as close to the "original" as possible - a 1" wide leather slip collar with thick brass hardware, with the words "Always Faithful" stamped onto it. There are two reasons why this collar is beyond cool - first, the lettering on the collar was stamped with an era-specific U.S. military-issue leather tooling kit. Second, everything was hand stitched. There are very few companies that would be willing to hand stitch that collar. In fact, I'd been told be several other collar makers that it "couldn't be done." Way to go Team Paco for achieving the impossible!

And yes, all those Paco products in the photo above are mine. Aside from Ilsa's collar and a few of the leashes, they all are used daily and worn hard. If you click the photo, it should open full-size so you can see now nice these things really are!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

52 Weeks of Dogs: Week 2/52, Black & White

"Revy Noir"

Revy in black & white... almost seems wrong to downplay her blue eye!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Gluten-Free Puppy Chow

I'll just come out and admit it... I'm not a very good cook.

Sure, there are a few things that I can cook really well - but I'm not the type of person that can recreate recipes, cook from complicated cookbooks, bake scrumptious goodies for everyone at work and impress the in-laws with my culinary prowess.

But there is one thing that I can "cook" that has everyone drooling - Puppy Chow. Until just recently, I was upset that I'd never be able to make it since the primary ingredient in my Puppy Chow is Hyvee's generic cereal "Crispy Hexagons." Crispy Hexagons has an awesome name, but it also contains gluten which means it's unwelcome in my kitchen.

But for Christmas my grandmother got me RICE CHEX! Gluten free! 'Aha,' I thought, 'perhaps I can make awesome Puppy Chow with Rice Chex instead of Crispy Hexagons! Sure, Rice Chex does not have any geometry in its name and is therefore lamer than HyVee's cereal, but it must be comparable, right?'


As it turns out... yes, that's right!

First, gather your ingredients: Rice Chex, creamy peanut butter, a bag of milk chocolate chips, powdered sugar and butter - and not that nasty fake butter... it has to be bonafide real butter - the kind that'll make Paula Dean proud!

As you can see, I mostly use HyVee's store-brand ingredients. I mean, it's not really possible for a grocery store to mess up powdered sugar or peanut butter, and HyVee milk chocolate chips are guaranteed gluten free.

Put a huge pot on the stove. Cut up 1/2 stick of butter into smallish pieces and toss it in the pot.

Measure out a very generous 1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter. And when I say 'generous' I actually mean 'almost 3/4 cups.' That's a 1/2 cup scoop in the photo! Anyway, plop the peanut butter into the pot with the regular butter.

Lastly, add the entire bag of chocolate chips to the pot. Turn the burner on to med-lo to medium heat. I usually start at med-low, then get impatient and turn it up to medium.

The next step is.... CONSTANT VIGILANCE! You don't want the chocolate to scorch, so you have to continuously stir the ingredients as they slowly melt. At the same time, you want to get two plastic grocery bags - one inside the other - and pour in a pile of powdered sugar. I don't exactly know how much, but my average sugar pile is about 2-3" high.

You know it's time to add the Rice Chex when the chocolate mixture looks like this:

Now stir gently... you will have some breakage, but that's OK - that only means you'll get a few monster-chunks of puppy chow in the batch! How much cereal to add? Ohh... uhh... about 3/4 of the box? I just add until it looks like this:

Now quickly transfer the chocolately chexy goodness into your waiting grocery bags - tie the ends shut and gently shake/roll/knead the bag until the chow has been completely covered by the sugar. Open up the bag and check it - if you think it needs more powdered sugar, just add some more and shake again!

Get a big glass of milk and enjoy your Puppy Chow... it's always best when it's fresh and warm!

PS - one of the best-and-yet-most-neglected parts about making puppy chow is... the spoon! Family tradition dictates that the spoon goes to one of the kids - the youngest, the oldest, the best behaved... it's really your choice. If you're like me and don't have kids, rejoice - you get the spoon all to yourself!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Free at last, free at last!

After 24 hours of stress, our first holtering experience is finally over!

The tape will be mailed to Alba tomorrow, the holter will be mailed back to Ohio by the end of the week and Kaylee will have shaved "racing stripes" for awhile. She's relieved to have the vest and monitor off, and I believe she was happy to hear that it's the last bit of health testing I plan on subjecting her to for a good long while. Little does she know what's in store for her in the coming months.... mwahaha!

Today also brought good news from OFA. The results are... Hips Good, Elbows Normal. I can live with that! To recap, here's her health testing:

- vWD Clear
- CERF Normal
- Hips OFA Good
- Elbows OFA Normal
- Thyroid OFA Normal
- DCM genetic test PHet
- Holter pending!

Now, if only Fed Ex would have convenient shipping locations.... but that's a story for a different day. G'nite all!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Don't Phunk With My Heart!

Today a package arrived from Ohio... a very special package that contained all of this stuff:

You may be asking yourself, "What the heck is THAT?"

It's a holter monitor, along with everything that is needed in order to actually test a dog. Part of complete health testing on a Doberman is regular monitoring of the heart, usually by 24 hour EKG. Since I'm a member of the DPCA, I was able to rent a holter from The Maumee Valley Doberman Pinscher Club. Someday I'll own my own holter, but for now it's more cost-effective to rent.

I'll be honest... I've NEVER done this before. I hope to god I didn't mess it up. I had help from my friend Erin - who also has never done this before, but at least she's watched someone else do it! The instructions that came with it were vague at best, curl-up-in-the-fetal-position-and-cry at worst. And to make things even more wonderful, the time counter on the monitor didn't work so I had to record the start-time with the clock on my computer. Sorry Alba, I woulda if I coulda... iMac time will have to suffice.

The whole kit-n-kaboodle stays on for 24 hours. Then the cassette tape gets sent to Alba Medical and I'll have yet another piece of health testing to get impatient over. On the plus side, this is the last bit of health testing I have to do for awhile!

Applying the sticky things.... "Please save me from the horror!"

The instructions just said to "attach the animal" - does this look "attached?"

(At this point, I was making lame Terminator jokes... the Thing that won't die, in a Nightmare that won't end.... an Unstoppable Cyborg, intent on killing Sarah Conn.... ah screw it.)

To protect the wires (and the entire vest) I pulled Ilsa's jammies out from storage and carefully put them on over top of the vest - thank goodness she was a full figured gal!

By now, Erin was making dinosaur jokes. Kaylee didn't think any of our jokes were the least bit funny. I began to wonder if I should have taken tomorrow off from work, because I can't help but worry that she'll somehow have the entire thing in bits by the time I get home from work. Maybe I'll call my boss and ask if I can have the day off.

"PLEEZ SAVE ME!" - Kaylee

Edited to add: She has given up on life. Poor, poor Kaylee.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Shameless Plug Sunday: Cozy Coats & More

I have a problem... I buy dog stuff. I buy *lots* of dog stuff. Over the years, I've run into good sellers and bad sellers, but some products (and the people behind them) have been more awesome than others. Once a week, I plan on highlighting a company or business that has knocked my socks off - either with their quality, their compassion, their prices or their customer service... or a combination of all!

This week's shameless plug goes out to.... Pam and her jammie business, Cozy Coats & More!

My first purchase from Pam was a pair of fleece jammies for Ilsa. Ilsa was dying of cancer and had lost most of her ability to keep herself warm. Her jammies served her well, even after repeat washings.

Ilsa in her "jim jams"

A few years later (Ilsa was no longer with us, but we'd recently gotten Kaylee) Iowa had one of the coldest and most brutal winters on record. It became apparent that the dobes needed something extra to get them through the winter. I ordered from Pam again and in a few weeks I had two more sets of beautiful handmade jammies!

Kaylee in skulls, Ronin in monkeys!

Over the next two years I bought a few more pairs. Kaylee has tiger-stripes and red-plaid, Ronin has dinosaurs and green-plaid. They're extremely durable, they wash well, they can be worn for several days at a time without stretching out and let's face it - they're adorable!

Their custom plaids!

Tigers and Dinosaurs!

But then, about a week ago, I found out that I was going to be fostering a tiny little dobergirl - too small for my dobes' deep-chested jammies. I contacted Pam and asked if there was anything she could do to help me out. Roughly TEN HOURS LATER, a set of 4-legged jammies were en route, courtesy of Pam and her awesomeness!

Poor Allicyn doesn't have a scrap of fat on her body - with her short coat and body condition, she is completely defenseless against the harsh elements of Iowa. Without Pam's generosity and sense of urgency, Allicyn would probably be in misery. Instead, she's toasty and warm in her heavy-bonded purple flame fleece "jumpsuit." Thanks Pam, you're the greatest!

Allicyn in her emergency jams - thanks Pam!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

52 Weeks of Dogs: Week 1/52, First is the Worst


I chose this photo of Allicyn because right now, she's the naughtiest creature in the house!

Diablo / Allicyn

On December 26th I said goodbye to my latest foster dog, a rollicking teenage Doberman mix with the ironic name of "Diablo." Diablo was a sweetheart, an honest and true soul who loved toys more than life itself. He has a great home now, living the good life with two human sisters of his own.

With a new year comes a new foster dog... Allicyn. Allicyn is about 14-18 months old, and was picked up as a stray. Honestly, we know nothing more about her. She's skinny, she's adorable and she's looking for a dobe-savvy home that will love her and care for her forever. It looks like she's had puppies somewhat recently, which is sad because she's still a puppy herself. I imagine that is also the reason why she's lacking in the fat department.

Goodbye 2010, Goodbye Diablo...

Hello 2011, Hello Allicyn!