“Come to my store!” exalted my daughter, pulling me up the stairs. I obliged, wondering which of my possessions she was going to try to sell back to me this time. That one has always been possessed of an entrepreneurial spirit.
” I have bracelets,” she said, gesturing to an array of beaded items she had crafted using the bead kit she got for her birthday. “And neck-a-laces,” picking up a pair of Mardi Gras beads she inherited at some point.
I picked up a bracelet. “How much?” I asked.
“5 cents,” she replied.
“I think you should up your price structure,” I told her. “To at least a quarter.”
“OK,” she said, taking my quarter and depositing it into a paper bag.
“What does that say?” I asked, squinting at her writing.
“Money for the pet store animals,” she said.
“You mean shelter?”
“Yes,” she said. “I want to donate all the money to a shelter.”
And oh, when she said that, my heart melted into a million little pieces and I realized I could die happy. I’ve never instructed her to fundraise, not for pets or for anything, really, so to see her do all of this out of the goodness of her heart just made my Grinchy heart swell two sizes.
“I have twelve dollars so far,” she said. Apparently before coming to me she had shaken down my husband, my son, and both sets of grandparents.
I gave her a dollar. ”Thanks,” she said, pocketing the dollar. Then she eyed me furtively. “You ARE letting Santa know I’m doing this, right?”
Ah. It all makes sense now.
In the corner, Brody eyed all of this while chewing on a 50 cent bracelet. Despite his proclivity for naughtiness, at least he is pure of heart in his intentions. Nuaghty, nice, or somewhere in between, whatever he engages in, it’s with the most direct of intentions. I wonder if Santa cares about intent.
A couple of months ago, we started having problems with our sprinklers. Because we live in what is basically the desert, this means that within one month most of our backyard was dead. Not that the grass was ever in great shape to start with, I suppose.
Anyway, we are slowly trying to put it back together, starting with two little patches of what has been dirt for a very long time but was at one point grass. For now, it is again.
“Do NOT,” my husband said, “under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES let the dogs on the sod for two weeks.”
And I tried, I really did. They didn’t tear a single piece up. And after two weeks of standing out in the rain and the cold shooing the dogs away from it, because of course despite the other hundreds of feet of foliage that little 20 square foot area of grass exerts an inexorable gravitational pull on all things dog, he then issued this directive: “Do NOT under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES let the dogs on the grass EVER.”
Which is, as you can imagine, a little tougher.
On Thanksgiving I was informed there was a pile of poop on the grass, which I thought about blaming on wild animals before remembering the backyard is all fenced in.
Then there was this:
And I just don’t know what to say. I could have sworn I was watching them every second but they must be super stealth pee-ers.
I can’t decide which one looks more guilty.
Husband is particularly picky on this since we’re possibly putting the house on the market next year. Nothing like a polka dot lawn to say, “buy me!”
Welcome back! Hope everyone here in the States had a lovely Thanksgiving. And in celebration of that and all the work it took the rest of the weekend to put the place back together, a post about cleaning products, something with which all pet owners are all too familiar.
I bought my car six years ago. Six years ago, I was obsessed with the idea of a black car with a beige interior. Sleek. Contemporary. Gorgeous. Six years ago, I was also very naive, with a nine month old who had yet to start throwing stuff on the floor and leaving red crayons on the seat.
So now, two kids and two dogs later, my beautiful beige car interior can best be described as “house of horrors”, a visual timeline of every insult that has been heaped upon it in the last half decade. No matter how much we try to stay on top of it, it’s a lost cause. It’s quite sad. I’ll come back to this in a minute.
A couple of weeks ago, Rug Doctor invited me to St. Louis to tour the factory and learn some more about their products. I figured hey, why not? I have an incontinent dog and two little kids and a spraying cat, so we definitely are familiar with carpet cleaning.
OK, so I’ll never be one of those Price is Right spokesmodels. But you’ve seen these displays in your grocery store, right? They’re everywhere.
I’ve rented the machines before, though not as often as the every 3-6 months (gulp) it’s recommended that you clean the carpets. I suppose I haven’t put much thought into the mechanics of getting a carpet clean, but Rug Doctor has.
Each Rug Doctor machine has three components: the spray hose, which shoots the cleaning product into your rug; the vibrating brush, which vibrates at 1700 vibrations a minute, and the vacuum hose, which pulls everything back out. Compared to what I usually do when there’s a spot on the rug, this is the mega-nuclear cleaning approach. Seek and destroy.
There are two main keys to getting the rug clean: The machine and the cleaning product you use in it. Here’s a nice tan rug, right? Remember this.
We got a demonstration from engineer Jason Hill, who told us about lift- the industry standard for suction. It’s near impossible to describe suction in a positive way that does not have some sort of inappropriate connotations, so let’s just leave it at “they demonstrated convincingly the superiority of this product’s ability to lift all sorts of garbage from your carpeting.” They run those motors to failure in the lab, just so they know before sending them out to stores how many hours of use they can expect (it’s about 1400, if you’re wondering.)
Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and managed to keep the pets away from all the good stuff! And now- da da duuuh…. let the holiday insanity commence!
You can’t pay me to go to the mall today. I don’t care how good the sale is, it’s not enough for me to deal with the scary elbow-y masses and the disheveled store racks and the fisticuffs in the parking lot. Plus, my sister is out visiting, and she has her shih tzu with her, and I think I need to get some pictures of her dog while they’re here.
I like shopping online better anyway. Instead of traffic and parking an insanity I make my UPS man come to my house like a brown shorted Santa with all the stuff I didn’t feel like dragging around the mall.
Luckily for me, animal stuff is in style this fall so there are lots of offerings that aren’t cardigans for us pet loving people. Of course most of them are more than I’m willing to spend, but if Santa wants to spring for any of them, well, he can go for it. And if I happen to see any of them show up on a Black Friday sale list, I might make an exception to my “no shopping for me till Christmas” rule. Here’s a few of my favorites:
I went to the gym this morning, although it’s not my favorite thing to do, because I know I need to accumulate a little exercise karma in advance of all the pigging out that’s going to be happening tomorrow. Such is life.
I joined the Y this year, giving up my 24 Hour membership for a variety of reasons:
- The Y has lots of stuff for kids
- The 24 Hour has been overrun by Pauly D wannbes who hog all the machines and are generally totally obnoxious
If there’s one thing the Y has going for it, it is a very low number of Jersey Shore types. On the flip side, there are a huge number of retirees who like to go to socialize. Which is fine, except when they try to talk to me, because I’m usually trying to get things over with as fast as possible and I hate losing count of how many bicep curls I’ve done because I’m too Type A to not do exactly 3 sets of 10. It’s one of the standard gym archetypes, along with Showoff Meatheads and Women Who Wear Too Much Makeup and Just Stand There Not Sweating, the standard Annoying Old Guy who Likes To Chat Up Younger Women.
Such was my position today when I was on a machine, concentrating, when out of the corner of my periphery I notice a man in his early 70′s to my left eyeing me. I ignore him, because eye contact is an introduction to chit chat, which I’m not in the mood for. But he is not to be dissuaded.
“SMILE!” he says, leaning over, which only makes me more nervous because then he might drip sweat on me, which will absolutely ruin my morning. “It can’t be that bad.”
And it kind of was that bad, because I hadn’t worked out in a while and my shoulders were burning and some other older person ran my foot over in the grocery store that morning with a shopping cart overloaded with Stovetop stuffing and marshmallows and my swollen toe was painfully filling up my shoe in a way that made me all too certain something might be broken.
This makes me indignant. Am I the only person who doesn’t sit around smiling while they’re exercising? I like to go all GI Jane when I’m working out. I grimace. I wrinkle my forehead. That is just what I do. And to think, someone is so disconcerted by my apparent lack of joy that they feel the need to point out my lack of a sunny disposition while I’m doing shoulder presses.
But I also know that this is something people of a certain generation just like to do, and it’s mostly harmless, so putting aside my glare for one quick second I give him a meek close lipped smirk, then go back to my grimacing. He gets the hint and leaves me alone.
I never really gave that annoying pleasantry much thought until my friend Jessica blogged about the Mood Police one day. Jessica, as brilliant a writer as she was a thinker, neatly dissected the subtle sexism inherent in such dictates in a way I never could put into words, and dubbed such tyrants of others’ outward expressions the Mood Police.
She was the victim of one such onslaught one sunny morning in a parking lot. “Smile,” the unsuspecting man said, “It can’t be that bad.” Now, in her case, she was undergoing chemotherapy for the Stage IV cancer that would eventually take her life at the tender age of 34, so yes, it was that bad. It was that bad. And she let the guy have it.
She has been gone for several years now, and I miss her wit and her beautiful way with words all the time. And strangely enough, I’m actually kind of grateful to this guy, for although he was taking part in a tried-and-true ritual long past its prime, every time it happens I remember how annoyed the mood police would make Jessica. And then I think about her, her gorgeous wedding and her adorable dog and how I would read her blog posts and wish I could craft the English language with her mastery and most of all, that I had her here to talk to. It’s strangely ironic that of all my memories of this amazing woman, it’s this petty statement that more than any other thing brings her face into clear focus, allowing me a moment to reflect on happy times ten years ago when our lives were all so full of promises yet to be fulfilled.
And then my shoulder and my toe seemed rather inconsequential, and I had to admit that the guy had a point. For me, it’s not that bad. I’m getting to do amazing things and wake up every morning to a big hairy Golden breathing in my face and kids screaming in my ear, and really, that’s pretty cool. Life has been good to me. So I am thankful.
And then I did have to smile, because the guy had moved on to another hapless victim who had the bad fortune of being on a leg press machine with no hope of escape. So I sneaked out and took Brody for a walk, which is another thing to be grateful for: my faithful companion who doesn’t care how ragged my sweats are, how I look with no makeup on, or what expression I have on my face at any particular moment. And best of all, he doesn’t talk.
Thanksgiving is one of the busiest days in the veterinary ER, which should surprise none of you. The very first Thanksgiving I had Emmett, he dug the turkey carcass out of the trash and settled down for a little leftovers. Luckily he left a disgusting trail of grease from the kitchen, across the living room and up the (carpeted) stairs so I managed to find him before he did too much damage, but Thanksgiving is a time of excess and gluttony for all of us, and for pets unaccustomed to the traditional rich foods of the holiday, it can lead to trouble.
Not to say you can’t give your pet some judiciously chosen Thanksgiving treats, as long as your pet is otherwise in good health. Choose wisely.
Foods to Avoid
1. Bones. Cooked poultry bones are exceptionally brittle and can easily splinter in your pet’s stomach, leading to a painful bellyache, a blockage, or even an emergency surgery.
2. Turkey skin. The fat is the problem here- most pets on commercial diets just aren’t accustomed to sudden high levels of fat in the GI system, which can lead to the pancreas essentially overreacting and the very painful, dangerous condition known as pancreatitis.
3. Cheeses and sausages. The same reasoning as above, with fat being the culprit. Keep that Hickory Farms gift box up high.
4. Alcohol. Not that I think any of you would actually do this, but yes, people try to get their pet drunk on purpose sometimes, and it’s not nice. Have you ever seen a hungover Yorkie? It’s awful. If you see your dopey uncle trying to give some microbrew to the family pet, you have my permission to pour the beer on his head.
5. Toxic foods. The following commonly used food items are specifically toxic to dogs and cats and shouldn’t be used in any food item they might ingest:
Foods that Are Good to Share
There are plenty of things that your pet can enjoy with you on Thanksgiving. The number one key to remember is fat is not your friend. The best way to deal with this is to set aside a small portion for your pet before you toss in the butter, cheese, or whatever Miracle Whip concoction your Great Aunt Edna insists is vital for the perfect mashed potato. So assume all these items are butter and gravy-less.
- sweet potato
- turkey meat sans skin
- mashed potato
- steamed green beans
- stuffing (no onions)
- canned pumpkin (before you add in sugar and cream and turn it into a pie)
- butternut squash
- low sodium broth, which can be used in place of butter for a bit of flavor
The best thing to do is plan ahead, make sure your pet is full, and, um, in my case, get a covered trashcan. Make some pet-friendly treats ahead of time so that when you see Grandma plucking forkfuls of fat-laden cheeseball out to give to Sparky, you can cut her off and tell her, “Why not give him a nice Brody ball instead?”
Looking for some recipes?
Try the Pawcurean Turbacon.
Or a breakfast treat from Foxy Treats.
Are you planning on sharing Thanksgiving with the pets? Any favorite pet recipes or foods I forgot to mention?
I am super-duper excited for today’s giveaway. You see, I’ve been thinking about all the things I am thankful for, and there’s a lot- my family, my health, my dogs. And all of you, because you guys are what makes all this carpal tunnel stuff worthwhile. You put up with zombie apocalypses and cheer me up when even Brody isn’t doing the trick.
So because I love you all, we decided to give away something super cool right before the holiday season. I don’t have one yet, except for the one I’m giving away, but I hear they are pretty awesome. I know you all like to read as much as I do. And one of you gets to win one!
Kindle Fire Giveaway!!
It’s a week of being thankful, and in that vein I’m reaching back into something I used to do regularly and make a Sunday post highlighting something great from around the web. Today, two large scale projects meant to bring more shelter pets into their forever homes:
Home for the Holidays
Iams’ Home for the Holidays program has just surpassed the 6 million mark for number of pets who have been adopted since the program’s inception in 1999. Way to go! They’re still working on their goal of 5 million bowls of food donated, as well.
2011 Results to date:
Since October 1st, we have helped find new loving homes for:
- Total adoptions so far: 413,903
- Total meals donated so far: 1,525,920
The Shelter Pet Project
Speaking of adoption, the Shelter Pet Project has just released a new set of Public Service Announcements in a joint project with the Ad Council, HSUS and Maddie’s Fund.
The PSA message is “A person is the best thing to happen to a shelter pet.” Truer words were never spoken!
When I was on the Hope Telethon last weekend talking about pet health holiday tips, the reporter asked me (without warning) if I was going to be bringing home another pet from Helen Woodward. And I answered honestly.
If it wouldn’t cause a major rift in the household, I would. I can manage 4 pets, and we’re at 3. If I can’t get a Boston, I’m thinking maybe I could just sneak in another cat for Apollo. He’s social, he likes friends. He’d like a pal.
My husband remains unconvinced, of course.
But they help reduce blood pressure! I could say. They are good for your health! Pet ownership reduces stress and depression!
In conclusion, there is really no reason NOT to have just one more, I say.
In return, I get a solid NO. So alas, I must wait and bide my time until I can convince him otherwise. Subliminal advertising, bribery, I’m trying all angles.
But maybe you’re in a better position than I am! It’s National Get a Pal for your Pet Day, after all, sponsored by Pets Add Life. Why not? You’ve probably got a lot of time off coming up, what better time to introduce a new pal.
And if anyone has some sly tips for convincing a husband to bring home just one more, I’m all ears.
This post is sponsored by the Pets Add Life campaign and the American Pet Products Association. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about the benefits and joys of pet ownership.
It’s Friday, and I’m in the mood for some Africa. How ’bout you?
I don’t know where my footage of me being the bush pilot in the Serengeti went, so I’ve decided I’m just posting Africa posts all out of order while I try and find it, and oh well. That was what happened after we left chimp camp, though. I talked the pilot into letting me fly shotgun over the FREAKIN SERENGETI which might be the only thing that could have topped a chimp brushing by my legs. It was spectacular.
Anyway, the next morning we left for the Ngorongoro Crater, which is one of most concentrated regions of wildlife in the world and a place I couldn’t wait to see. We were met by our wonderful guide Clemence, who would be our companion for the duration of the trip. On the way to the crater, though, we stopped at a local Iraqw village for a tour.
Life is simple out here, explained the village elder Martin. Take house building, for example. By yourself, raising a thatch roof could take a month. But if you get your friends to help, it can be done in 2 days. And how do you persuade your friends to help? Cash? Nope. (more…)
It hasn’t been in the news nearly enough, but there is a major disaster happening in Thailand right now. 20 of Thailand’s 77 provinces have been hit by floods since July, affecting 1/5 of the country’s population.
In a county whose resources are already stretched thin, imagine the impact of this sort of natural disaster on the street dog population. In Bangkok alone, there are an estimated 60-70,000 stray dogs, and they are suffering greatly. Local organizations such as Soi Dog and Wildlife Friends Foundation are beyond overwhelmed trying to rescue and treat these injured and starving pets. My friends at World Vets are, as always, some of the first on the ground, and they asked for my help getting the word out about this situation. From World Vets VP Kyle Baird:
Most of the dogs are territorial so the flooding has displaced them causing them to congregate on higher ground wherever they can find it. One of these places is being called “dog island” by the locals and it is now home toat least 150 dogs who bark and howl when volunteers come by to drop off food. (It’s) crazy.
To make matters worse there is now a shortage of dog food because all of the local food manufacturers are under water and have stopped production. The current rescue operation is going through 2000 lbs per day. Veterinary medical supplies are also much needed and inventories are very low.
No medical supplies.
World Vets has had people on the ground since last Thursday – two veterinarians and one first responder. They are treating the over 1000 rescued dogs that have been taken to Wildlife Friends Foundation in Thailand. The rescue groups in Thailand have asked us to send more veterinarians in December. This is not going to be going away any time soon.
We have already sent $20K in medical supplies and plan to send more with our next team.
If people want to get involved the probably best thing they can do is make a donation to World Vets. Now that we are there we can see which organizations are doing the work and we are passing donations and supplies on to them. One of the really tough issues is getting food and supplies where they need to be. For this reason we are sending all product donations with the volunteers.
How To Help:
1. Make a donation- this is the most direct way to provide immediate assistance.
Organizations providing direct aid in Thailand:
2. Share this post and help get the word out!
I will personally donate $0.50 to World Vets for every share on Facebook, up to $100- let’s get these animals the exposure they deserve!
Lots of people like to cook for their pets, but most people don’t do it every single day. Of those who do, most do so because they have to, a pet with kidney disease who also has food allergies and diabetes, that sort of thing. Occasionally there is the person who just likes to do it, like the chef who makes seared sea bass for his two incredibly spoiled schnauzers every day. I admire that dedication, which is significant.
More common are people like me, those who do it every once in a while for giggles at times like Thanksgiving- and yes, I’ll be coming up with something for the dogs because why not, it’s a holiday. And then they will go back to their regular food until Christmas, when I make them gingerbread. Because cooking is a show of love, even if you only do it twice a year.
(Yes, I made those both last year in a peppermint induced fit of insanity.)
For those sorts of occasional treats, balance isn’t a big deal. But when you are making a maintenance diet, a complete and balanced diet is vital.
I recently wrote an article on the topic of home cooking for Good Dog Magazine, and rather than re-invent the wheel I’ll just give you the link because I worked on it for quite a while, and I’m very proud of it, and it has tons of information about how to go about the process if home cooking is something you’re interested in. I had to interview a bunch of people for it, which as you know is a show of journalistic effort I don’t undertake on a regular basis, so you know it’s something special.
For the article, I interviewed Dr. Sean Delaney of BalanceIt.com. Dr. Delaney is a board certified veterinary nutritionist who just happened to be a resident in training when I was a senior student at Davis, and he remains just as friendly and knowledgable and excited about nutrition as he was that day one hundred million years ago when we were in a cramped room in the hospital annex with some Flintstone-era nutrition software doing nutrition consults.
We talked about food. We talked about online recipe sites and books. We talked about kabocha squash (did you know it caused neurologic signs in a group of labradors? Brand new info here, guys. You heard it here first.) I kept the poor doc on the phone for an hour but it was so interesting, and I love nutrition topics, and I know you do too.
Dr. Delaney has since developed newer web-based versions of nutrition software that creates custom recipes for veterinarians as well as for consumers. BalanceIt has about 500 recipes to choose from, all designed by a board certified veterinary nutritionist and best of all, balanced. When clients tell me they want to cook for their pets, this is where I send them because I know they’re getting information from a trusted source. After the melamine fiasco, I’ve been mentioning this site more times than I can count.
It’s a neat site because, as you can see above, you can really customize your options. You select the protein source and the carbohydrate source, enter your pet’s age and weight, and out comes a list of choices that fit your criteria. If your pet has a medical condition, you can ask your vet to create an appropriate recipe on the section of the site that is just for veterinarians.
So here’s their gift to you all: with the holidays bearing down, perhaps you are looking for a little something special for your dog or cat’s festivus plate. Dr. Delaney is offering all pawcurious readers one free recipe from the Pet Lovers BalanceIt site- a $20 value! The diets can be made using BalanceIt supplements or human supplements- you’ll get options for both.
Just enter the code “pawcurious” at checkout. And don’t forget to give them a like over on Facebook and tell them I said hi!
Will you get the English dinner? The Surf and Turf? Which recipe are you going to try? Have you ever cooked for your pet?