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


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: " 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.


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:


"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


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.