The Return of Dead Sundays

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I love The Walking Dead.

Yeah, I said it.

If you spend any time on social media, you see people post they stopped watching after (insert heartbreaking death here) or because (pick a generalized complaint about plot or character development).

The zombie apocalypse was a favorite genre for me even before TWD. I’ve been an avid reader of Joshua Guess, Kate L. Mary, Chris Philbrook, and Samie Sands, to name a few, and I even wrote two zombie books myself.

We’re coming up on the second half of season 8 on February 25, and you’d better believe I’ll be watching. I’ll be hosting a live chat on my private Facebook group, Lori’s Dead Talk, and if you want to join us, send me a Facebook message so I can add you.

Have there been episodes or story arcs that have been “meh?” Sure. This will happen in any long-running show. I adore Supernatural, but there have been times I’ve been less engaged. But I ride it out, and sooner or later, it comes back around to the core of the show I love.

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Season 8B promises to be crushing. We have the death-in-progress to see through, and this is one of those “I stopped watching after…” points for some fans. Not for me, really, as this has never been one of my favorite characters. It also deviates wildly from the comics, which devoted comic fans sometimes have issues with.

But who’d want to watch if every episode followed the comics faithfully? No surprises there. There are characters alive in 8B who died long ago in the graphic novels, some died early on in the show but are still alive in the comics. And we have characters, including fan-favorite Daryl Dixon, who don’t even exist in the comic world. Keeps things interesting.

I enjoy the progression from simply trying to avoid death-by-walker for one more day to building societies and battling the real menace…other people. It’s realistic. When the apocalypse arrives, this is how it will play out. Walkers are unspeakably dangerous, but they don’t plan or strategize, they don’t have hidden agendas, they aren’t capable of betrayal, they don’t want more power. They’re mindless eating machines, and once you know how things work and learn how to survive in that reality, you have a much better shot against them than any one human who wants what you have or bears a deadly grudge.

People are the real monsters, and let’s face it…the show would’ve become tedious long ago if all anyone ever did was run from walkers or bash them in the head.

There are characters I love. There are characters I hate. There are characters I love to hate or hate to love. And having met many of the cast members at Walker Stalker Atlanta, I universally love the actors who portray the characters in the TWD universe. Seriously, I did not have one negative experience the entire three-day weekend.

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I’m counting down the hours to 9:00 p.m. next Sunday, to watching the tide shift and trying to anticipate how events will impact those who remain. I can’t wait to live chat with my TWD-fan friends, letting the snark fly, sharing the anguish and the victories, and someone can always fill in the blanks for me if I miss a detail.

Do you watch? Do you watch live or on DVR…or wait for it to hit Netflix? Have you ever been to a viewing party? A convention? Have any good memorabilia?

I’ll be there! Or, more accurately, here, on my couch, with my trusty machete under the end table within easy reach. Because you can never be too careful.

Puppy Milestones

This isn’t a real post, exactly. But today mark my boys’ birth-month-dates, or something like that.

Oliver was born October 18, 2016, so today he is 16 months old…

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As a standard poodle, he’ll probably grow a bit more, until he’s about two years old. Right now, he’s 57 pounds of precious poodly fluff.

Mozzie was born August 18, 2016, so today he is 18 months old. A year and a half. And as you can see, if he gets any more adorable, his cuteness will take over the world.

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After having goldens who ranged from 75-120 pounds (the 120-pounder was a “singleton” puppy, a one-puppy litter, hence the enormousness), he seems tiny to me at 62 pounds, but he packs extra truckloads of charm into every pound. Also a good bit of neurosis.

These boys are the lights of my life, and I don’t know what I’d do without them! Happy anniversary-month-day-of-your-birth-thing, puppernutters!

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A Rare Visit to the Out

I see people on Facebook post things like, “I twisted my ankle and I’ve been stuck at home for three days. I’m losing my mind!” I do not understand these people.

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Accurate.

We took Oliver to the groomer on January 11. Yesterday, Tom once again persuaded me to leave the house for a couple of hours. Nothing exciting, just a few errands and checking out some local businesses. The previous day’s weather was summery, but Saturday was chilly, so no walking the dogs along the river or heading to the beach.

We went by the Colonial Capital Humane Society flea market to drop off more crochet 26841165_10208037040323626_336358591896336060_obags and see what was selling from the things I’d donated previously. The volunteer I talked to was friendly and enthusiastic, but there was an awful lot of stuff still there, which is a little discouraging. Maybe I need to make different things. I didn’t see the signed books I donated, so hopefully they sold.

Village-Butcher-gallery9We went by The Village Butcher and ordered more shank bones for Mozzie and Oliver, and now I know where it is. You’d think this would mean I could go and pick up bones for the dogs by myself, but you’d be wrong. It’s much more likely Tom will continue to do this.

The main reason I went out today was to stop by our wonderful Farmer’s Market. It’s not produce season, but there are always artisans of all sorts in attendance. Bakers, knitters, wineries, jewelry makers…and soap makers.

Shortly after we moved here in 2014, I discovered the fabulous goat milk soaps, lotions, sugar scrubs, body sprays, and other products from The Beaman’s Fork Soap Company. I head straight to this booth every time I visit the market.

I discovered the Farm at Beaman’s Fork is only about a mile from my house. I haven’t been there yet, because even though Krisann is super friendly and we chat at the market and online, I am socially challenged. But one of these days I definitely need to go meet the goats, as well as her Pyr Casey and German shepherd Seife (which means “soap” in German). Baby steps. It’s only been four years.

Check out the Facebook page for lots of pictures of the dogs, goats, horses, chickens…and this spring’s brand new baby goats!

My reason for the market today was to pick up my Spring BFF Box from Krisann. For each season, she designs four limited edition signature scents for new soaps. I pre-ordered mine and couldn’t wait to see what was in there.

These are the only bath products I use now. The goat milk soaps, lotions, body spray, a new foaming sugar scrub… It kind of makes you want to take three baths a day and try a different scent each time.

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Beautiful, right? I wish you could smell it! I have the vanilla-lime wax melt in my melter now, and it is heavenly.

Here’s the card that describes the contents:

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I pre-ordered the Summer BFF Box also, and I’m already dying to know what fragrances await me. They do have an online store, too, so you can experience these handmade artisan delights firsthand.

Then I came home, after only about two hours, and Mozzie and Oliver tried to murder me with their love. It’s nice to be adored, but their wild, unrestrained welcome home routine is going to put me in traction one of these days. I’d hoped to bribe them into submission with bones from the butcher, but he only had knuckles today, no shanks, and Oliver can’t be trusted with the softer knuckle bones. He has poodledactyl jaws and breaks off chunks, swallows them, then barfs them up on the bedroom floor at 6 a.m. This is not how I prefer to start my day.

And now, having conquered work email and not having a new edit for a day or two, it’s time to resume my exploration of Doctor Who, to discover if I am destined to join the ranks of Whovians, or if the appeal will elude me. I’ll work on more bags for the humane society, but I also think I might dig out the one set of knitting needles I have and see if I can re-learn how to knit.

Because, you know, I need another hobby I can pursue without leaving the couch, much less the house.

Lazy-Mom Dog Treats

I’m extremely picky about what I feed my dogs. I worked in vet clinics for many years, and managed a holistic practice the last five years of my career. One of my specialties was canine nutrition. I keep Mozzie and Oliver–and every other dog I’ve had for the past dozen-plus years–on a diet of half grain-free kibble and half raw food.

But finding good grain-free treats is tough. They’re also very expensive. Dog-parents have to balance budget versus the time it takes to make your own treats, and recipes are also an issue. Most have whole wheat flour or other grains in them, and others might be grain-free but are messy, smelly, and a huge hassle.

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Did you say TREATS?

I try to be a conscientious dog-mom, but I’m also extraordinarily lazy. If it involves a lot of ingredients and prep and clean-up, forget it. But I’ve found the perfect solution. Two ingredients, and totally healthy!

Here you go…

  • One pound RAW ground turkey
  • One RAW sweet potato

That’s it.

Chop the sweet potato into chunks. Toss it in the food processor and chop it to smithereens while the twitchy Mozzie flees the room. Add the ground turkey and process until combined. If you need Mozzie, he’s hiding in the back hall.

Make into patties an inch or two in diameter in the dehydrator, ignoring the poodle at your feet hoping you forget he’s there, trip over him, and drop the raw treat mixture. I dehydrate on 145 degrees for 5-6 hours until they’re crispy and break easily, with maybe a bit of chewiness in the middle.

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Turkey and sweet potato treats

I store in the fridge and keep a few on the counter and break a bit off to give the boys when they come in from outside.

You can switch it up a little also. I tried ground beef, but it dries too oily, so I stick with turkey, but today I made a batch with green beans and blueberries instead of sweet potato. It was a lot more moist and squishy than the sweet potato, but they came out well. They took a half hour or so longer in the dehydrator.

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Turkey, green bean, and blueberry treats

If you don’t have a dehydrator, you could also do in the oven, on the lowest setting. I’ve never done this, but you probably better keep an eye on them and check them. Maybe turn them after a couple of hours.

And that’s all there is to it! A whole bag of treats lasts me 7-10 days and costs only a few dollars, as opposed to a small bag from the store costing $8-12, depending on brand and size.

You can also simply cut chicken breast or tenderloins into strips and dry them, or beef liver. These make great training treats.

Do you have favorite, easy, low-hassle dog treat recipes? Please share!

Whovian-In-Training

Series-1-970x545Several years ago, I tried to watch Doctor Who when it was on Netflix. I got about halfway through season 1 before losing interest. Since then, I’ve perfected my binge-watching skills, and I’m giving it another try.

I know the origin of the show goes back to 1963, but it appears the “modern era” episodes begin with the 9th Doctor, portrayed by Christopher Eccleston, in 2005, so that’s where I’m starting. (Plus, that’s what’s available on Amazon Prime.)

I’m not going into this blind. I have plenty of friends who are Whovians, and you can’t be part of social media without being exposed to a lot of elements of Doctor Who. I know about Daleks and Timelords, I know what the Tardis is, and that the Doctor regenerates. I know he travels through time and space, though he does appear to have a fondness for modern-day London.

As I’m writing this, I’m up to Episode 8 in that first season. I like it. I want to love it. 1900b675760e6cc1b802e8e0cff96cd1_400x400Maybe that will come.

I wonder if it’s like Supernatural. I often try to talk skeptics into watching this, but always have to warn them it doesn’t have a really strong start. The first season and into season 2 is more of an “urban legend of the week” show than the deep, complex world it becomes, with rich lore and wonderfully developed characters and complicated relationships.

My plan is to watch at least two full seasons. By then, if I’m not hooked, I’ll know it’s not happening. On the face of it, this show should be perfect for me. I eschew “real world” dramas. I like anything paranormal, supernatural, urban fantasy, or sci-fi/fantasy in nature. I also love things that have a lot of quirky humor, and Doctor Who definitely has that. There is a wildly devoted fandom of Whovians, conventions, merchandise…so there has to be something amazing there, if I can discover it.

I know there are things awaiting me that I’ve heard discussed for years now. Weeping angels. Christmas specials. Each new incarnation of the Doctor, including the upcoming 13th incarnation, which for the first time is a woman.

Help me out. Are you a Whovian? Why or why not? If you are, when did you start watching, and what keeps you devoted to this long-running series? Who is your favorite Doctor?

I really hope this works and I enter the ranks of the Whovians. If it does, I have a good 10+ seasons to watch, and there’s little I enjoy more than a good TV-binge. Then I’ll get all the inside jokes and can look with pity upon the unfortunates who have not yet discovered the wonder of the Doctor.

Whovians seem to be a lot like Trekkies in their absolute devotion and encyclopedic knowledge of their beloved shows–but more eccentric and unconventional. Anyone who knows me can tell you this should be a perfect fit for me.

The Dog’s Dinner

The most important decision we make for our pets’ health is what we feed them. If you watch the news or frequent social media, it seems every week there is a new pet food recall. No brand is exempt. Even top-quality foods can receive a tainted ingredient from a supplier, or there could be an error in processing, or something can happen while a shipment is being transported or stored which allows heat or moisture to cause food to spoil.

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The latest story involves several brands of foods manufactured by companies owned by Smucker’s, including Ol’ Roy, Kibbes & Bits, and Gravy Train. Testing has found pentobarbital in the products…the drug used to euthanize animals. While the levels aren’t high enough to be lethal, it’s not permitted in any amount, for obvious reasons.

There are cries of “how is this getting into our pets’ food in the first place?” If you feed these brands, and if you’ve ever looked at the labels, you shouldn’t be surprised. This is less about “OMG, there’s a toxic chemical in Fluffy’s num-nums” and more about “I bought the cheapest food on the market which is made of crap ingredients.”

Manufacturers will screech with indignation if you suggest they use protein sources contaminated with high levels of antibiotics, steroids, or delicious, delicious pentobarbital. Sure, technically, they don’t knowingly buy euthanized kittens in a back alley and toss them in the processing vats. “No, we absolutely do not use euthanized animals in our food. That would be very, very wrong. Must be the supplier. We had no idea.” (Yes, they did.) This is plausible deniability.

So, how does it get in there? I remember years ago, a local rendering plant had a broken boiler. It took a long time to repair, and bodies of animals awaiting processing were piling up outside the building. Photos clearly showed livestock and roadkill–and even the carcasses of domestic animals.

High quality foods use proteins from facilities designed to process animals in clean, safe conditions, and in some cases, even meeting human-grade food processing standards. An ingredient list would show beef, chicken, lamb, turkey, or other named, single-source items on the label, and if you ask, they should be able to tell you the specific source.

Let’s look at the ingredients in Ol’ Roy dog food.

Ol Roy Ingredients

There are so many barf-worthy ingredients, I barely know where to begin, but let’s look at the proteins first.

Meat and bone meal is the second ingredient. Okay, Roy, define “meat.” Any time you see this, or the fifth ingredient here, “animal fat,” or “animal by-product meal,” that’s a huge red flag. Those non-specific proteins are exactly the sort that come from these rendering and processing plants, where animals of all sorts are tossed in the vat and boiled, extruded, dried, and shipped off to substandard food manufacturers.

Think about what kinds of animals would end up in those facilities. Quality food producers, whether for humans or pets, harvest healthy animals and process them in sanitary conditions. In a rendering plant, producing these generic protein sources, you’ll find what’s known as the 4 Ds–Dead, Dying, Diseased, or Disabled. Awesome, right?

You don’t euthanize healthy animals. For pentobarbital to be in pet food, you don’t have to think very hard to realize a dying or diseased animal, which needed to be “put out of its misery,” is in that bag or can. Is that what you want to feed your animal companion?

“Natural flavor” is usually some sort of blood slurry, from any and every animal being processed. Yummy!

This food also contains BHA as a preservative. The primary use for this chemical is as a preservative in makeup and moisturizers, as well as in low-quality food. It is a suspected endocrine disruptor and possible carcinogen.

Ground yellow corn is the first ingredient. Hey, it’s cheap, so they can make a low-cost food. There’s also corn gluten meal (when you need even more corn and only have odds and ends left) and brewer’s rice. Brewer’s rice sounds good, right? Nope. It’s the tiny milled fragments left over when whole grain rice is processed. Basically, it’s the sweepings off the floor.

I’m not anti-kibble. It’s an economical, convenient option for most pet-owners. I feed my dogs half grain-free kibble and half raw food, and have for years.

Why grain-free? Dogs and cats are not built to digest or metabolize grain-based carbohydrates. Rather than being utilized to build a healthy body, most of it ends up on the other end of the pooper-scooper. If a wild canine gets grain, it’s typically from the digestive tract of a prey animal, and already partially digested. If a coyote invades your farm, it’s going to eat your chickens or goats, not graze in your corn or wheat field.

Grains are also a key source of allergens in pets. If Snoopy has chronic itchy skin, hot spots, anal gland problems, or ear infections, it very well might be a food allergy, and the source is much more likely to be a grain than a protein. So I don’t feed my dogs any grains, ever, not even in treats.

Ol’ Roy also has chemical color additives, added salt, soy (another allergy trigger for many dogs) and so many things I can’t pronounce that it boggles the mind. If you’re feeding this, your dog is better off if you simply feed him your leftovers, excluding things that are harmful to dogs, such as onions.

I get it. Quality pet food is expensive. Not everyone can afford $70 a bag. I’ve found Earthborn Holistic is an economical, good-quality, grain-free brand, and there are many more from which to choose these days. It’s an investment in your pet’s health. Spending a little more for food will save you a lot more in veterinary expenses down the road.

Sadly, in most cases, you have to do the homework. Veterinarians are given very little education on pet nutrition in school, and what they do receive is sponsored by large pet food manufacturers. Unless your vet has taken the initiative to educate themselves, they don’t know much more than the average pet owner about pet food.

We all have specific needs, a budget, and time constraints. But don’t look at the bouncy puppies on the pet food commercials, or look at the AAFCO certification on the bag (which means absolutely nothing beyond your dog won’t starve to death), or blindly accept what your vet tells you to feed. Learn to read labels. Learn what the ingredients mean. Subscribe to Whole Dog Journal.

It’s unfortunate, but the burden of deciding what to feed your pets rests solely on your shoulders. You (probably) wouldn’t feed your child a diet of nothing but generic mac and cheese and bologna, because while they wouldn’t starve to death, they certainly wouldn’t be very healthy, so don’t feed the animal equivalent to your pet.

The Valentine Reciprocity Deficiency

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. In the past, we made a fairly big deal of the occasion, since our first date was supposed to be for a Valentine’s dance at our high school. The dance was canceled, but we still went out on February 13, 1982.

The last 5-10 years, though, we haven’t really done much. This is fine with me, as I’m not really a holiday person. Last year, we adopted Oliver on February 13, so our first-date-anniversary has now been usurped and shall ever after be known as Oliver’s gotcha day.

Last year’s Valentine

While we don’t officially make a big deal of Valentine’s Day, Tom doesn’t always uphold this unspoken agreement. Or maybe it’s spoken, a little, when I say, “I’m not getting you anything. Don’t get me anything. It’s just a day.” I’m either very low-maintenance about holidays, or a terrible wife.

According to Time Hop, three years ago, Tom violated this agreement thusly:

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If you know me at all, you’ll see how well my husband gets me. I do love all things zombie apocalypse, and I definitely love chocolate. And distilled beverages. I even wrote two zombie apocalypse books, The Dead Survive and Fallback, and you should absolutely read them if you’re into that sort of thing.

I still have the bottle. The vodka undoubtedly didn’t survive the weekend. Valentine’s Day was on Saturday.

This year, he did this:

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Let’s break down the elements.

  • Heart-shaped bowl and tray. Very cute.
  • Nice, sweet card. No puppy-butt, but still a winner.
  • “Love” decorative accent. Deciding where it will go.
  • Note the bowl is filled with Kisses (classic) and a stuffed elephant. I love elephants, and have elephant artwork in the house, and an elephant tattoo on my right forearm. Bonus points because it looks like the elephant is taking a bubble bath in candy.
  • It’s hard to see, but those caramel M&Ms (a recent discovery and new favorite) are in a skull mug. Along with zombies, I like skulls. Because I’m quirky. Not strange. No, not strange at all. I have several skull bottles which formerly held liquor. (RIP, liquor. Your sacrifice was not in vain)

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Every girl has three pairs of skull leggings, right?

All very thoughtful, yes? It’s especially generous when you factor in the fact that Tom is being quite careful about his eating habits, including not having a lot of sugary snacks. Which means I will need to hide the chocolate and give him a few pieces in the evening, so he can enjoy a treat without the temptation of over-snacking.

This probably sounds strange, one spouse monitoring and rationing something in which the other might tend to over-indulge. Until you know he also does the hide-ration thing for me, only in my case it is the liquor bottle.

Sometimes I find it, and those days do not go well, because I am mind-bogglingly bad at self-regulating in this particular area. If I locate the stash, the answer to “How much alcohol is in the house?” is “None, because Lori drank it.” But mostly, Tom is an extraordinarily good thing-hider, and he provides my evening nightcap ration, so I can chill and watch some mindless TV and try to get my head to slow the hell down enough that I can go to sleep.

Yes, I have a pretty awesome husband, still adorable even though this is our 37th Valentine’s Day together. However, I did maintain the “do nothing” policy for the occasion, and now I feel like Sheldon Cooper does about Christmas.

Sheldon: Oh, Penny. I know you think you’re being generous, but the Bigbangtheory_bathitemfoundation of gift-giving is reciprocity. You haven’t given me a gift, you’ve given me an obligation.
Howard: Don’t feel bad, Penny, it’s a classic rookie mistake. My first Hanukkah with Sheldon, he yelled at me for eight nights.
Penny: Now, honey, it’s okay. You don’t have to get me anything in return.
Sheldon: Of course I do. The essence of the custom is that I now have to go out and purchase for you a gift of commensurate value and representing the same perceived level of friendship as that represented by the gift you’ve given me. It’s no wonder suicide rates skyrocket this time of year.

So, yeah. Also, I keep wondering what I’m going to do with that giant skull mug, and it occurs to me it would be pretty awesome if it was full of a massive dirty martini, but only moderately dirty, because I’m not a tramp.

And if it were full of martini, I’d probably feel a lot less bad about the gift reciprocity issue.

Canine Co-Dependency

It takes a lot to get me out of the house, and very little to convince me to stay home. The last time I was out for more than a couple of minutes was January 11 when we took Oliver to the groomer, over a month ago. I’m totally okay with that.

Now, more than ever, it’s leaning toward “can’t” leave the house rather than “don’t want to.” Because…

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These two.

The last dogs to join our pack prior to Oliver and Mozzie were Brody (2006) and Darwin (2007), and I still worked outside the home at least a few days a week until 2010, so they were used to me being gone from time to time. But since Mozzie arrived in November 2016 and Oliver in February 2017, I have literally not spent one night away from home.

My sister and her husband weren’t both out of the house simultaneously for years, because their dog had health issues, and they didn’t want to stress her or have her get into trouble while she was alone. I’m not sure I fully grasped the reality of this until now.

Our son gave us a camera so we could check in on the dogs on the rare occasions we’re out, and it does help a little. At least I can be sure they haven’t decided to eat the couch or engage in a doggie death match. But I also now know Mozzie paces much of the time, climbing up to my spot on the couch and looking around forlornly, and Oliver howls. A lot. “Mamaaaaaaaaaa, where are yooooooooooouuuuuuu?”

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A still from the camera footage. Note Mozzie on the left, in my spot on the couch. Oliver, by the sliding door, is in mid-howl, nose up and sending his cry to the heavens.

I can always come up with reasons not to go out. It’s raining. It might rain. It just rained so it would be splashy and muddy. Cloudy with a chance of meatballs. It’s hot, cold, windy, or buggy. The tide is wrong. There’s an event downtown and it would be crowded. I haven’t washed my hair since Tuesday (and it’s currently Friday). It’s Saturday night and the wait for a table would be too long. The dogs are due for grooming, and if we take them to the park, people will think we don’t take care of them.

You see where I’m going with this. It doesn’t take much.

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Besides, Mozzie says I can’t get off the couch. Don’t argue with him. Cute wins every time, and he’s even bigger and cuter now.

While I generally dislike excursions into the Out, I do like vacations, though, and a combination of “what to do with the dogs” and “all our money seems to be missing” has resulted in no away-from-home time for me since we went to Walker Stalker Con in Atlanta in October 2016.

If you love The Walking Dead and have a chance to go to a Walker Stalker event…DOOOOOO IT!

Even if we nailed down funding for a trip, how would that work? Mozzie is a twitchy, anxious dog, and a strange kennel would stress him out way more than would be good for him, and probably the kennel staff.

We have a reliable petsitter who was great with Darwin and Brody, and has stopped to check in on these two once when we had to be gone all day for a family event, but that’s the extent of it so far. I’m not sure Mozzie and Oliver would be okay with only three daily check-ins like the older two were. And leaving them alone overnight…? That’s a wildcard.

One solution would be someone to stay at the house while we were gone. Sort of a rent-a-mama. The key is for someone to be here a good bit of the day, and overnight. But how to find such a person? I dislike having people in my house. Oddly, though, I find it slightly less objectionable if I’m not here and required to interact.

The other, possibly better idea is to simply take the dogs with us, but again, there are some factors to consider. If we were going on an overnight trip to attend an event, that would mean leaving them alone in a hotel room for a minimum of several hours. If Oliver howls in hotels like he does at home, we’d quickly wear out our welcome.

But if we were, for example, on a beach vacation, they’d be with us all the time, other than when we went out to dinner, and a beach house offers more privacy and a better howl-buffer than a hotel room. We frequently vacation with dog-loving friends, though, and managing stranger-dog interactions elevates the stress levels and sucks the fun right out of things. I need to be able to relax and enjoy myself, not spend all my time as a dog referee, so we don’t typically take our dogs. Except…

We took Brody with us in September 2016, because he was rapidly declining, and it was either try taking him with us or skip the trip. He had issues with our friends’ dog, and she had to hide out in the bedroom the whole time to prevent Brody barking us all deaf and traumatizing the poor dog for life. We gave up and came home after only a couple of days.

This probably boils down to taking them with us, provided they are the only dogs present in a shared house, or finding our own separate accommodations.

Or simply staying home.  Aside from the lack of beachy-ness, it’s where I usually prefer to be, anyway.

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Congratulations, It’s A Poodle!

Surprise poodles are the best poodles.

One year ago today, I woke up as the mom of one six-month-old golden retriever puppy. The plan was already in progress to find him a nice young adult golden or Labrador retriever brother.

Within eight hours, previous plans were tossed right out the window and we welcomed an almost four-month-old standard poodle puppy into the family.

Colonial Capital Humane Society posted this photo and a description, stating he required immediate rescue.

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I texted Tom to ask how we felt about standard poodles. I knew I loved them, but figured I should at least have the courtesy to ask before informing him we now had one. He responded positively, and the wheels were in motion.

The fabulous Lisa Lee of CCHS left work to go take possession of the puppy. She even stopped by Tom’s store and told him she was there with his “son.” Now, Tom had never met Lisa before, and our son and his wife were currently on a plane back to Minnesota from a cruise vacation, so he was a bit perplexed. It was sheer brilliance on Lisa’s part, though, because if any part of Tom was having second thoughts about adopting the poodle-puppy, the point was now moot. He was immediately a poodle-dad.

meeting oliver

We met Lisa after Tom got off work, and this is when I met the puppy we would name Oliver

The poor pup had had a very traumatic few days, and was a bit overwhelmed. Within a day, though, he and Mozzie were playing and bonding, and adopting Oliver was probably the best pack-building decision we’ve ever made.

 

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Oliver will be 16 months old next week, and Mozzie will be 18 months on the same day. We’re looking forward to many years of fun and frolic with our two boys.

Happy gotcha day, Oliver! We love you!

 

To Tear or Not To Tear the Tearribles

Last summer, I contributed to a Kickstarter for a new dog toy, called Tearribles. The idea was to create a toy that was hard to destroy, but still allowed dogs the fun of tearing things apart. For my reward, I chose one XL Tearrible, the big purple monster.

There are four parts that can be pulled off–the tail, each arm, and the legs (which are one piece). The body is covered in the customary plush fabric with a layer of stuffing underneath. Inside, however, is an underlying structure, made with a sturdy nylon mesh with more stuffing and a squeaker.

Nylon mesh is also used in Fluff & Tuff toys, which are my favorite for my two rambunctious, determined puppies. I have four or five of them, and they have yet to inflict significant damage to any of them, and the newest ones are already four months old.

The removable bits of the Tearrible are held securely in place with double strips of heavy-duty Velcro, so you can tuck them back into place when they are pulled off.

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This all sounded great, and an extra interesting activity for Destructo Dogs 1 and 2. But as the saying goes, “no plan survives first contact with the enemy.”

Once Mozzie decided the Tearrible wasn’t going to explode, attack him, or make a sound like the freezer opening (his weirdest phobia, which is saying something, because he has a lot), he immediately focused on the tail. He pulled it off approximately 47 thousand times, and the tail-bit is small enough that I didn’t want him chewing it independently of the toy for fear he’d find a way to swallow it, so I put it away.

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The ears are non-removable and stick up, so one ear also received some toothy attention. They’ve pulled an arm off once or twice, and they’ve been replaced successfully. They have yet, after about a month, to pull off the legs.

Deprived of the option of removing the tail another ten thousand times, Mozzie focused on the tail-hole. He has totally ripped Mr. Tearrible a new one, removing all stuffing within tooth-range, which I pick up and throw away. I couldn’t reattach the tail now if I wanted to. While the toy is looking a little the worse for wear, the inner nylon layer remains intact, keeping the bulk of the stuffing and the squeaker inside.

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Having tear-off-able parts is probably a ton of fun for a lot of dogs, but I don’t think Mozzie and Oliver fully appreciate it. They’re really only interested right now because of the tail-hole and what they might be able to pull out of it.

If I were redesigning this toy, I think I’d do away with the tail, as that’s obviously a weak spot and resulted in these two being qualified canine proctologists. Or the tail could be large enough that it wouldn’t be a potential choking hazard or gastrointestinal obstruction for a large dog. The ears are also vulnerable and should perhaps be reinforced somehow or done away with.

The pricing ranges from $20 for the small Tearrible to $30 for extra-large, which is not out of line with other quality toys. I pay about $20 for the smaller Fluff & Tuff toys, and $30 for the extra-large gator. Since Oliver and Mozzie aren’t all that into the “rip the purple monster limb from limb” part of the Tearrible experience, I probably won’t buy another, sticking to the one-piece Fluff & Tuff toys instead. The plush outer casing over the nylon mesh is used in both Tearribles and Fluff & Tuff, and is a great element to reduce the amount of toy-unstuffing your dogs do.

If your dogs like dismembering things rather than de-stuff-ify-ing everything, this could be a fun toy to add to the collection. It’s well-made and well-designed for what it’s supposed to accomplish. My guys just seem to have different priorities.

Tell me…what are your dogs’ favorite toys?