Friday, November 29, 2013

Dream Logic

I love dream logic.

Problem:  Your snake is getting trampled by your dogs because he was on the sofa while they were loose.
Logical solution: Don't have the snake out when the dogs are out in the first place.
Dream solution: Passively watch snake try to escape until he slithers under a cabinet, and then worry about how to get him out.

Problem: A friend forgets to bring money for a tip.
Logical solution: Spot friend some money.
Dream solution: Get into an argument with friend about the ethics of not tipping your waitress.

Problem: You are at a fundraising meeting for a dog club, and have $400 dollars to donate.
Logical solution: Donate the $400 to the dog club.
Dream solution: Donate the $400 to a public school in Florida, and drive the donation down to the school yourself.  During a hurricane.

Problem:  You find a shirt you really like, but it doesn't fit.
Logical solution: Leave the store without buying the shirt.
Dream Solution: Stay in the store until it closes, carrying the shirt around, trying to think of ways to make it fit. At closing time, you reluctantly put the shirt back on the rack and tell the owner that "you'll think of something, don't worry!"

Problem:  You have to go to work.
Logical Solution:  You go to work.
Dream Solution: You do laundry with a friend and explain insurance to your aunt.

Problem: You can't get home.
Logical Solution:  Call a friend, call a cab, flag down a bus.... lots of options!
Dream Solution: You call your dad, who drives through the Iowa State University campus at top speed... despite all the roads being closed for a parade.  You tell your dad to slow down and find another route, but he says he learned how to drive in Sweden and knows exactly what he's doing.

Problem: You need to fill a prescription at Hy Vee.
Logical solution: You go to Hy Vee and fill the prescription.
Dream Solution:  You lock your husband out of the car and go to Popeye's, then visit a waiting room in a hospital and color with crayons until your annoyed husband tracks you down.

That was my night, folks.  Aren't our brains wonderful?  Random note:  Here's a screenshot of hilarity that ensued after I posted a photo of a Hy-Vee typo on my Facebook page:

I hope I have sufficiently weirdified your day.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Prairie Dobe Thanksgiving

We don't celebrate Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving.  Steve always has to work holidays, so we schedule holiday celebrations for his days off.  This year, we had Thanksgiving on Monday.  Steve's caveman brain kicked in (GROG BRING HOME GIANT ASS TURKEY!  GROG'S WIFE WILL THINK GROG IS A MIGHT HUNTER!) and he bought an 18lb turkey.  He did this, knowing full well that there was no way we'd eat that entire turkey in one sitting, and that microwaved turkey tastes gross.  We also had mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, and two cheesecakes.  Yes.  Two cheesecakes.  We still have mountains of leftovers.

So today is the "official" Thanksgiving.  I have no plans except to sit around in my pajamas, watch Harry Potter movies, and resist ordering anything from the Paco Collars sale.  (I might have failed at that last part.)

Earlier this morning I decided to take the Dobergirls to the dog ranch.  I dug a FidoFleece out of storage for Poison, and Kaylee got to try out her new Ruffwear Climate Changer jacket.

Kaylee was just a wee bit happy to be at the ranch...

Kaylee, stop modeling.  You're not in a Ruffwear advertisement.

Poison: "Stay?  Okay!  Look at me, I'm staying!"
Kaylee:  "Stay is for pussies."

Happy Turkey Day!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tuesday Reviewsday: Paco Collars

Oh boy.  I've talked about Paco Collars before, but I find myself tooting their horn yet again.  Not only are their products amazing, but they have an amazing staff.  I had the pleasure of meeting many of them in person - once at a collar decoration class in Minnesota, and once when I was in California on vacation.

And it all started with this collar.

When this photo was taken, it hadn't been worn for several years.  I never cleaned it after Ilsa died, and over the years her skin oils have turned white.  I can't bring myself to wipe it down.  It hangs by my front door, along with the Paco collars that belonged to Revy and Ronin.  As you can see, I place very high value on each dog's collar from Paco.  

I bartered for my first two collars.  I worked at a print shop, and Paco Collars needed letterhead and thank-you cards.  It was a great exchange, especially since there was no way I could have afforded Paco collars at the time.  Let me repeat that... Paco accepts barter.  

Here's my Paco Collar collection from a few years ago.

Paco collars are tough mothers.  I briefly mentioned the flood we experienced in 2010.  Our basement flooded at one point, and we had 20 inches of water down there for several days.  To my horror, I found most of my dog gear in the basement after the water had been pumped out.

Then there was this collar, which somehow had floated into the canning room and sat in a puddle of flood water - under a metal shelving unit - for three months.  This is what it looked like the day I pulled it out from that stagnant pool of water.

It was tarnished and smelly, but it was sound.  I wiped it off, cleaned it with saddle soap, and let it fully dry out.  Three years later, it's still beautiful.

Another beauty from Paco Collars...

I pulled Jayne's collar off and photographed it.  He's had it a few years, and he's rough on collars.  I didn't clean this collar beforehand.  I didn't even wipe it off.

I did the same with Kaylee's collar...

... and Talla's as well.

Here's another one of Jayne's collars.  The tan does darken over time, but I can't help but love it.  I find it to be much softer than the other colors from the very beginning.

Even my cats have Paco Collars!

I know I haven't really said anything new on this review, or explained from a technical perspective why Paco rocks, but I just had to write about the saints at Paco one more time.  They're remarkable people, and about as friendly and down-to-earth as you'll ever find in this world.  The owner in particular is one of the most welcoming people I have ever met, and I will forever consider her a very good friend.  

So thank you, Paco Collars, for being totally awesome.  Iowa will always be home to one of your biggest and most loyal customers.  Next time I'm in California, I'll stop by to say hello!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Is this Heaven?

One of my friends moved away from Iowa this summer.  Another one of my friends is considering moving to Iowa in the future.  Both of these events (and a bit of soul-searching) have had me thinking about what it means to be a happy Iowan.

Some people hate living in Iowa.  Others love it here.  I'm one of the latter.  Despite spending time in 18 states other than Iowa, I can't imagine living anywhere else. (Except maybe Wisconsin. I friggin' love Wisconsin!)  I'm going to approach this blog post in the same way that I approach my other passion - Dobermans.  When talking to prospective Doberman owners, I tell them all the reasons why not to get a dobe.  So today I'm going to tell you why not to move to Iowa.

If you crave big-city living, don't move to Iowa.  We have a few cities that are on the larger side (Des Moines: 207,000 people  /  Cedar Rapids: 128,000 people) but nothing that rivals Chicago or Los Angeles.  Small cities and small towns are the norm here.  Contrary to popular belief, small towns aren't always full of harpies that "know everyone's business."  My town has a population of about 1,500 people and we basically keep to ourselves.  The police officers and city council know me pretty well, but only because I'm the resident "dog expert" in town and sometimes they appreciate my help in dog-related matters.  It's not the end of the world if I forget to lock my car, and I almost never lock my front door when someone is home.  That is not to say that breaking into my home is a good idea though, which brings me to my next point...

If guns make you uncomfortable, don't move to Iowa.  Iowa is an open-carry state.  That means that residents with the proper permits can carry weapons in full view of the public.  In Iowa, it is extremely easy to get a permit to carry.  While we do not have an official castle doctrine (yet), we are granted civil immunity if we injure someone in self defense.  Furthermore, the law doesn't require Iowans to "run and hide" from intruders and/or attackers before reaching for our firearms.  Along the same line of discussion...

If hunting makes you uncomfortable, don't move to Iowa.  We have a strong hunting community here in Iowa.  Iowans love to hunt!  We're in the middle of deer season right now, but we also hunt turkey, duck, pheasant, goose, and small game.  Trapping is also common in Iowa.  If you're looking to hunt something a bit bigger, Minnesota and Wisconsin are just a few hours north!  (Side note:  Iowa has no large predators, aside from the occasional transient mountain lion.  Hunting in Iowa generally means you don't have to worry about something hunting you.)

If hearty eating offends you, don't move to Iowa.  Don't get me wrong - there are plenty of healthy options available here, but most of us aren't afraid of occasionally stuffing ourselves to the brim with fried cheese curds, mashed potatoes, corn smothered in butter and salt, and huge slabs of meat.  We like our hearty meals.  Also, the Iowa State Fair will give you Type II diabetes, and we are 100% okay with that.

If you hate the idea of needing a motor vehicle, don't move to Iowa.  This sort of ties in with the first point in this blog post.  Iowa is largely rural.  Certain cities have great public transportation, but unless you plan to never go anywhere in the winter and/or never leave Ames, ever.... you're going to need some vroom-vroom.  In Iowa, distance is measured in hours instead of miles.  I live two hours from my hometown.  I live about an hour (if you include rush hour traffic) from the office.  I live about an hour away from most of my friends.  I live about half an hour from any decent restaurants and my obedience club.  But it's okay, really, because driving is all I've ever known.  Also, Iowa receives fuel subsidies so our gas is cheaper than in other states.  Remember that if you ever need to drive through Iowa to Minnesota or Illinois... tank up in Iowa!

If you constantly need the "best" of everything in order to feel fulfilled, don't move to Iowa.  I'm going to be honest... we don't have the "best" sushi or the "best" burgers.  We don't have the "best" state parks or the "best" shopping.  We don't have the "best" wineries or the "best" entertainment.  But we don't need the best in order to be happy.  We're content with what we've got, which still happens to be pretty damn good.  If you know where to look, you can find great food, great entertainment, and great hiking spots.  We do, however, have some of the best meat and regional produce you'll ever find!

If extreme winters scare you, don't move to Iowa.  We get snow.  Not Alaska-level snow, but still a decent amount. In addition to snow, we get a huge amount of ice.  Blizzards are becoming more common, and driving in a blizzard is life threatening... and trippy as hell. And the wind!  Oh god, the wind!  It starts up about mid-November and doesn't let up until mid-March.  With wind chill, the temperatures in Iowa can plummet to -20 or more below zero.  On those rare winter days when the sun makes an appearance, you'll find yourself risking frostbite just to soak in that glorious natural light.

If extreme summers scare you, don't move to Iowa.  Summers here are hot and sticky.  On some days the air is so thick with humidity that you can practically cut it with a knife.  Temperatures over 100 degrees are not uncommon... often with 80% (or higher) humidity.  We don't run our dogs when the sun is at its highest because it's downright unsafe.  I wait until nearly midnight to go running because any earlier and I'd probably risk heatstroke.  Luckily, there's this fantastic invention called air-conditioning.  Mmmmm, air conditioning.  Also, cherry limeade.

A few words about "Iowa Nice"... You may have heard that Iowans are ridiculously nice people.  I can't say for sure if we are or not.  I think as a rule, Iowans are politely pleasant.  We're not overly aggressive drivers, and we're courteous to strangers we encounter in public. We avoid confrontation, and stay out of other people's business.  If we see someone who needs help, we help them. If you run out of milk, a quick trip to your neighbor will yield a smile and enough cow-juice to finish whatever you're cooking.  If that's Iowa Nice, then sure... we're nice.  That's not to say we don't judge people, but we generally don't make our opinions known.  (Everyone is judgmental to some degree, and radically judgmental people are everywhere.  Don't even try to say that's not true.)

So, all you prospective Iowans... still with me?  Have I scared you off?  No?  Great!  If everything I've said up to this point hasn't made you swear off Iowa, then you're probably someone who would be quite content in this state.

The weather is challenging, but surviving it earns us a figurative badge of honor.  I think deep down, we Iowans are proud that we're tough enough to thrive in this climate.  (Somehow, hitting a deer with your car is also considered a badge of honor, or more accurately a rite of passage. I know, it's weird, just roll with it.)

We may not have mountains or oceans, but we can appreciate Iowa's own brand of beauty.  We get to enjoy endless prairie, thick forests, rolling hills, and secluded rivers.  Farmland itself has a classic beauty that you can't find anywhere else.

Iowa has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.  Iowa's cost of living and taxes are both fairly low.  Even without a college degree, it's not impossible to find a job that pays enough for you to own a car and rent a nice apartment... or even own a small house.  We have great public schools. We have great teachers.  We have great neighborhoods, and I've heard it's a great place to raise kids. (I wouldn't know... except that I was raised here and I think I turned out okay!)

It's easy to own animals here.  Even as a middle class woman in my late twenties, I own enough land to be able to own several large dogs.  I own my home, so I have room for the freezer needed to feed them a raw diet.  There is no way I would be able to live my current "dog enthusiast lifestyle" in a big city.

In short, Iowa rocks if this is the type of living you enjoy.  To made a broader statement... happiness that correlates to any place you call home is relative. No one state or way of life will make everyone happy, and it's pointless to assume otherwise.  In the same vein, it's ignorant to assume that someone who lives a lifestyle or in a state different than yours is in any way less of an awesome person for doing so.  I love Iowa.  My friends in the Twin Cities love Minnesota.  My friends in Boston love Massachussetts.  My friends in the Bay Area love California.

Live in the place that makes you happy, but don't let your happiness be slave to where live.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tuesday Reviewsday: Masters Pride

Yeehaw, it's finally time to share with you all the best kept secret in the leather leash & collar business!  Yep, that's right - Master's Pride!

I've been a Master's Pride customer for years. The actual experience of buying from Rick is refreshing; he mails your order and includes an invoice.  That's rare in this day and age, and I think it show how much Rick's customers love his work that he can trust us to pay for our orders after we receive them.  (I don't know why this part of the ordering process makes me feel good, but it just does.  I think it reinforces my belief that there are still honest, trusting people left in this world!)

I asked Rick to tell me a bit about his company.  Despite me being a happy customer for years, I'd never known the "story" behind Master's Pride.  Here's the story!

Master's Pride was started in April 1996.  Rick has always loved and enjoyed dogs. Actually, Rick was terribly afraid of dogs after being bit by a dog on his right hand when he was a child; he still has the scar.  His friendship with dogs started when he was asked to dog-sit two golden retrievers back in the 70s.  He fell in love with both of them.  Then his cousin bought a golden retriever puppy, Duster, and a great friendship was started.  Rick and Darleen adopted Duster, and Darleen had the wonderful experience of having such a great friend. What makes Master's Pride unique is that all the leather work is done by Rick, and he gives attention to the many small details that go into making a quality product.  He is truly a custom leather worker whose work is done by hand, primarily using traditional hand tools.  This level of attention is hard to achieve in even a slightly industrialized setting. The real trick is talking with the customer and coming to terms with what they want, what can be done, and what Rick's experience tells him is best.  In the end, he wants the customer to be pleased with their product, even if he needs to modify some of their ideas. Many of the customers Master's Pride has enjoyed over the years have been there since the beginning and have been responsible for much of the growth of the business over the years.  This word-of-mouth advertisement by satisfied customers has been the primary reason for the inspiration to continue making the customers as happy as possible. In addition to the customer service, Master's Pride seeks to buy only the finest leather and hardware available.  The leathers include latigo, bridle, harness, and natural veg tanned.  The hardware is primarily solid brass, chrome brass, and stainless steel.

What I like about Rick is that he's not afraid to tell me if one of my ideas isn't what I really need.  He's passionate about suggesting the right hardware and leather, and it very focused on making sure he makes the perfect product for his customers.  

As I mentioned in the Hill Top Leather review, there's a style of leatherworking that I can best describe as "equine."  The leather is super smooth, shiny, and buffed to perfection.  Master's Pride leather goes into my category of "equine" leather.  The hardware he uses is lovely, and not overly bulky.  There is a sense of refinement to Rick's work, which I believe shows a real mastery of his craft.

Pictured below is Jayne's training leash.  It's a work of art - strong but elegant.  It's pliable and soft, and there isn't a rough edge anywhere.  

Occasionally Rick throws $10 sales.  This is a collar I picked up during one of those sales.  Hand stamped perfection!

I think this collar really shows the beauty of Rick's work.  I love how even the base parts of the collar- the buckle and the leash ring area - are beautifully crafted.

Here's what it looks like on Talla!

Here's one of my first Master's Pride purchases.  It was one of the few leather collars that made it through the flood of 2008 without being ruined.

In my opinion, Rick is one of the top names in the business of leather collars and leads.  You can't go wrong with any of his products.  I will always be a huge supporter of Master's Pride, and hope Rick keeps providing us all with beautiful leatherwork for many years to come!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Deep Clean

We're entering the height of the "fall mud season" here in Iowa... what better time to do a deep clean of the house, right?  (Sarcasm, folks.  Sarcasm.)

I'm pretty sure we all have a bit (or more than a bit) of clutter in our homes, but for some reason we feel the need to eliminate that clutter if we're expecting guests.  I have someone housesitting for me next month, so I officially need to start working on making my house artificially sterile and organized.

I should explain why our house is weird.  It's old. It's so old that there isn't a shower upstairs, only a bathtub with an extremely slow faucet.  The shower is in the basement, and the basement is what I'd call "marginally creepy."  We've gotten used to it, but I'm sure outsiders would still consider our basement a bit scary. I'm sure there are spiders down there right now, but at least this is the wrong time of year for snakes!  (Yes, I find snakes in the basement from time to time.  Usually dead thanks to the cats, but still.  Snakes.

The shower isn't anything fancy.  I'm pretty sure it was installed just so the former owner would have a place to rinse off after deer hunting.  It's not the worst utility shower I've ever seen, but it's definitely not a normal shower.  

So, knowing the basement needs a lot of work, I decided to clean and rearrange the pantry upstairs.  Totally logical decision.  

The pantry had become a catch-all for all random junk that didn't have anywhere else to go.  I spent about two hours on Sunday throwing stuff away, rearranging the dog medications and grooming supplies, etc.  I still need to go through a few shelves and pitch items we won't use, but it looks much better now.

After the pantry, I decided to rearrange the kitchen.  This happens about once a quarter. Our kitchen is tiny and has bizarre counter space.  We have black appliances but a white bread box.  The walls are mustard yellow.  We have the standard kitchen junk, but we also have oddities such as a bowl full of crystals, a little resin Buddha, a brand new Scentsy warmer, and a buffalo dish scrubber hanging from the window.  Steve says it's chaotic.  I prefer the term 'eclectic.'  Throughout the entire house, it seems we walk the thin line between quirky and cluttered.  I tried the whole 'clean and impersonal as a hotel room' method of housekeeping, and it sucked.  

Obviously, the basement still needs work.  I've been chipping away at it, but there's a ton of cardboard that needs to be recycled.  Our recycling gets picked up once every two weeks, and our bin isn't big enough to fit all the remaining cardboard.  Hopefully it'll all be gone by the time my poor friend must endure the creepy basement in order to shower.

Oh!  Another crappy thing about the house is that we don't have a guest bedroom.  We have a master bedroom, a nerd cave, a living room, a nook that acts as my "office" .... a dining room, a kitchen, and a massive creepy basement.  When we originally bought the house, we'd planned on putting in a guest room in the basement.  Oh, how naive we were... who in their right mind would want to sleep down there?  No one, that's who.  Except maybe a serial killer.  I bet a serial killer would love sleeping in the basement.

I will admit that the basement is well-lit. That's about all it has going for it.  It's a work in progress.  I will see if I can tackle a bit more of the basement tonight.  Then again, I may just watch the final season of Dexter.  I have priorities, folks!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tuesday Reviewsday: Best in Field Design

I really need to stop buying coursing slips. I really need to stop buying coursing slips. I really need to stop buying coursing slips. I really need to stop buying coursing slips. 

That has been my mantra, but when I saw a friend with a quick-release coursing slip from Best in Field Design, I knew I needed one.  

Candence worked with me via email to make sure I got the perfect slip.  She gave me a ton of options, and through our conversations I ended up getting a much better product than I'd originally envisioned.  She has several embroidery options, including non-sighthound designs for those of us who run CATs.  She provided me with multiple proofs, so I knew what my slip would look like and could make changes/adjustments as needed.

The finished product was nothing short of perfection!  I love the soft lining, and I love the collar width.  I did bevel the edges of the leather leash portion myself though. 

Strong hardware, locking alligator clip!  

I've had a chance to use it in the field, and I really like it.  It does take some practice to get the clip to release at the right time, but for the right dog it's a great alternative to the classic coursing slip design.
*NOTE* This lead is heavier than a standard coursing slip due to the hardware.

Final note:  This may reflect my personal preference, but BIF coursing slips are generally longer than other slips.  I would recommend asking for a total length of 4 ft.  Longer leads can be hard to handle at the line.

Monday, November 11, 2013

BONUS Tuesday Reviewsday: Merrick Purrfect Bistro (Canned)

I know it's not Tuesday, but I wish it was Tuesday... so I'm going to pretend it's Tuesday.  

Well wouldn't you know, decided the cats needed even more delicious canned food to try!  This month we were sent four cans of Merrick's Purrfect Bistro.  There are 16 different canned Purrfect Bistro recipes available.

"You woke me up for this?  ... This package had better be for me, or I will totally break into the pantry and eat another loaf of your bread.  Just to spite you."

Right off the bat, let's talk about what Merrick is doing right with this food.

- 100% American Made.  Let's face it - if pet food companies are superheroes, China is their arch-nemesis.  Purrfect Bistro doesn't have anything in it from China, and their facilities are all in the U.S.

- 100% Grain Free and low-carb.  Part of Merrick's "Real Food Revolution" addresses the unique dietary needs of cats.  Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they are strictly meat eaters.  Their teeth and digestive tracts are designed solely for meat.  Cats only have four small molars for grinding; the rest of their teeth are made for tearing meat.  (Dogs, by comparison, are not obligate carnivores.  Dogs have ten molars, since their diets can be varied enough to include non-meat foods.)

- No Gross Stuff.  Purrfect Bistro contains no artificial additives or preservatives, no gluten, no artificial flavors or colors, no corn, no wheat, no soy, no MSG.  Small side note on soy: Cats often have issues with hyperthyroidism.  Soy screws up the thyroid in cats.  Ergo, soy is bad. 

- Low Glycemic.  Every canned variety of Purrfect Bistro is low glycemic, which means it could be considered as a high-quality option for those of us with overweight and/or diabetic cats.  (Always discuss food options with your veterinarian first though!)

Time to look at ingredients!  We were sent two varieties:

Beef Wellington (Sliced)
Deboned beef, beef broth, chicken liver, deboned chicken, peas, dried egg product, potato protein, natural flavor, dried potato, cranberries, ground flaxseed, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Carrageenan, Guar Gum, Powdered Cellulose, Dried Whey Protein Concentrate, Sodium Phosphate, Salmon Oil, Minerals (Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Glucoheptonate, Sodium Selenite), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Niacin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate), Taurine, Choline Chloride, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Thyme, Sage, Rosemary.

Surf + Turf (Pate)
Deboned Beef, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Deboned Salmon, Dried Egg Product, Natural Flavor, Cranberries, Calcium Carbonate, Organic Alfalfa, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Carrageenan, Guar Gum, Sodium Phosphate, Salmon Oil, Minerals (Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Glucoheptonate, Sodium Selenite), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Niacin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate), Taurine, Choline Chloride, Yucca Schidigera Extract.

"Aha!  So the package WAS for me!  I'm starving, hurry up and open these!"

As you can see, I am awful at photographing food.  I suppose we all have to be bad at something. Anyway, the Beef Wellington is on the left, Surf + Turf on the right.  

Dart got shoved out of the way by the two adults.  I'm pretty sure Pierre (right) was channeling his inner tiger as he sunk his fearsome fangs into the Surf + Turf.

"Imma just take this as a to-go meal, mmkay?" - Pierre

Palatability:  Obviously quite high. (Really though, I'm pretty sure my cats would think cardboard would be delicious.  There have been times when I've been convinced they're part goat.)

Litter box Results:  No diarrhea!  (That's really the only thing I care about when it comes to the litter box.  If there are no messy cat-plops, I am a happy camper.)

Price:  At the price of a 24-can case (most varieties) is usually $24.99, but is currently on sale for $21.24... which means each can is a smidgen over a buck.  Considering this is a grain free line, that's a pretty darn good price.  (The sale price makes it even out to only $0.89 per can so hurry over to to buy a case or two!)

"You're done typing the review, now give me more food!"

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Meat Hangover, and other happenings.

There are many different types of hangovers in life.  While I may not experience alcohol-induced hangovers, I do experience the full gamut of dog-related hangovers.  Behold:

The Dog Show Hangover - the feeling of being hung over after a long weekend of conformation and/or performance events.

The Event Volunteer Hangover - the feeling of being hung over after a long weekend of stewarding an event, or working an event in general.

The Lure Coursing Hangover - same as the Dog Show Hangover, but with more flu-like symptoms due to being outside in the cold/rain/wind/etc for twelve hours.

The Visiting the Breeder Hangover - the feeling of being hung over after a long weekend of playing with adorable puppies.

The Adoptathon Hangover - the feeling of being hung over after driving to the Chicago area for an adoption event.  Made worse if you actually have a dog to take to the event.

And finally.... The Meat Hangover - the feeling of being hung over after driving 14-15 hours round-trip to bring home a load of raw meat for the dogs.

This weekend it was the Meat Hangover.  I think most people who go in on our order have a rudimentary understanding of what we go through to obtain meat, but I feel I need to relay an honest blow-by-blow account of how awful it actually is.  To be frank, we haul ass for about 16 consecutive hours.  We don't take breaks, because we haven't got the time.

Aryn got off work and picked up the truck at about 5pm on Friday evening.  I drove to her house after work, and got about 5 hours of sleep before we left at 2am.  The first six hours of our drive was in the dark, hoping to god that no deer would cross our path.  We stopped a few times to use the restroom - mostly at dark, creepy rest areas in the middle of nowhere.  These were quick stops - run in, pee, then run back to the truck so we could stay on schedule.

Luckily we arrived at the beef place on time.  We only budget about 10 minutes to load roughly 2000lbs of beef into the truck.  We pay, we back up the truck to the loading dock, we load the meat, and we leave.  This time I had to laugh, because the muchachos loaded our order to the tune of Gangsta's Paradise.  There's something oddly surreal about a group of guys throwing boxes of meat into a truck at 9am with rap music blaring, while another group of guys strip out beef carcasses in the background.

After the beef place, we hauled ass to the rabbitry.  Again, we only budgeted 10 minutes to load our rabbitry order and get back on the road.  After the rabbitry, we drove and drove and drove until we met one of our order-buddies on the side of the highway to deliver her meat.  We meet her on the side of the highway because we don't have time to deviate from our route home.  Meat is exchanged, and we press on.

This time we also stopped in Marion, Iowa to deliver meat.  It's rough, because we're on a tight schedule and the meat guys don't always label the boxes very well, so we're crawling around atop the pile of meat (like Koolies on sheep!) until we find the boxes we need.  Usually we end up covered in blood, if it's hot enough for any of the meat to thaw.  At this point we usually rearrange the boxes so the meat doesn't thaw any more than it already has.

We finally get back to Des Moines.  At this point, we've been at this for about 15 hours.  We unload, sort, distribute.  Our day is not over yet though, folks!  We drive to Aryn's house, and move my meat into my vehicle.  We then unload Aryn's order at her house. Then we occasionally have to clean the bed of the truck because we're not sure how the rental company would feel about getting back a bloody truck.  Then we return the truck.  Then Aryn goes home, and I drive 40 minutes back to my home... where I unload my meat.

We left at 2am.  I was "finished" with the meat run at 7pm.  That is 17 grueling hours spent in a rented truck, just for meat.  And that is why I get Meat Hangovers.

On a somewhat unrelated note.....

Before heading over to Aryn's house on Friday, I went shopping at Hy Vee for some snackies that would keep me awake and coherent on the drive.  I must have put my debit card in my back pocket with my phone, and it must have slipped unnoticed out of my pocket when I got into my car, because by the time I got to Aryn's house I had officially lost my debit card.

I called and and had the card frozen, because there is no way my card would have been returned in that part of town.  The next day, I called my bank for a new card. One problem though... it will take ten days to receive the new card.

So I cannot access my account for nearly two weeks.  Steve volunteered to take me grocery shopping.  I wanted to get as much food as I could, so I stocked up on soup, ramen, mac & cheese, and other cheap meals.  I felt like I was back in college.  It was embarrassing.

But let me tell you... Ramen noodles are delicious.

Tuesday Reviewsday: - Natural Balance Platefulls sent the cats a present!  At least, that's what I told them.  In reality, they just needed some super-cool bloggers to try out some kitty food.  They sent me four packets of Natural Balance Platefulls.

I should mention that offers free shipping on orders over $49, and their prices are comparable to what you'll find in stores.  In fact, right now has Platefulls for sale for $0.83, compared to the Theisen's price of $0.96.  And heck - if you don't want to spend $49 on food to get free shipping, their standard shipping rate is only $4.99 flat rate.  Not bad, not bad!

Chunks, gravy, and colorful veggie bits.  Each packet is the equivalent of a 3oz can, with less mess and less room wasted in the trash can!  

"Give me the food and I won't make you bleed!" - Dart

"I'm serious!  I will cut you if you don't feed me now!" - Dart
"Yeah... what he said." - Pierre

Dart tries another tactic.  Threats weren't working.

"FINALLY!"  *om nom nom*

As I expected, all of the cats really enjoyed this food.  The ingredients include named meats, and the main ingredients are all recognizable as actual food.  Named meat broths are used instead of plain water.  I couldn't find any creepy "Frankenstein" ingredients either.  The "litter box results" were great too - no diarrhea!  My cats have sensitive tummies when they eat non-raw meals, so I was happy that their guts weren't adversely affected by Natural Balance Platefulls.  

For under $1.00 a packet, I'd be very comfortable buying this for my cats!

PS - Dart says he wants more.  I might just have to order a 24-pack from - $20 is a great price!