Saturday, February 28, 2009

Revenge is sweet.

I've gotten several comments on how I'm a bit easy on posting photos of the Human Male in compromising positions-- mainly while he's asleep. I'll admit, I have no qualms about it. If he's gonna sleep around me, he should know I'm bound to either a. wake him up; b. harrass him; or c. harrass him, wake him up in the process, and then post it online.

Knowing the Human Male, I know there will eventually be revenge. When it will happen is always the question.

Revenge this time happened last night. We got a pizza and rented a movie, a combination that's pretty much the only recipe to get me to fall asleep. Approximately 20 minutes into Tropic Thunder, I crashed out. Since I was using Alice's special blanket, she joined in. And somehow, the Human Male found my camera.

Alice the Hoarder.

About a month ago, my mom was in at Style Mutt, a little dog store in Rocky River, Ohio. The owner of the store-- a pug lady herself-- had just rescued a puggle and named her Pippi. My mom told her that I had a puggle, and that I dressed her up as Pippi Longstocking for Halloween.

"Does her dog sometimes go crazy? Because mine will go nuts. It's why I named her Pippi," the store owner said.

"Well, she seemed pretty calm when she visited for Christmas. But I've heard things," my mom responded.

Fast forward to this past Tuesday. In previous posts, I've mentioned that Alice spends a good portion of her time stealing the kitchen rugs. Her MO is always the same: she runs around the house waving them like a flag, then piles them up in the middle of the living room with some of her toys and sits upon them.

We've pretty much given up hope that we'll ever use the rugs for their intended purpose again. Each night I put them back in their respective spots. Every morning I wake up to find them piled in front of the TV. I don't know why I even bother to put them away-- blind optimism, I suppose. Or maybe it's just good old-fashioned OCD.

Though this is a regular occurrence, every once in a while her pile becomes so grandiose, it's impossible to ignore. Tuesday was one of those days.

Here's the overall scene:

And here's the contents.

Two rugs:

A fabric grocery bag, a torn-up paper shopping bag (performed by Alice in another room and carried out into the living room) and four toys, including a boombox, a long dog, a tail ball, and a mouse, who was wrapped up in a piece of the shopping bag:

And on the outskirts, a green lobster, which she'd pulled the stuffing out through its eye:

I don't think I've ever seen Alice happier with herself.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Pouter.

I typically work from home on Fridays. Alice usually spends most of her time with the Human Male because I do my work at the kitchen table instead of in one of the nice cushy chairs. Sure, she'll come over and say hi, bring me a tennis ball to throw or beg for whatever I'm snacking on, but during the day, she's a Male's girl-- whether it's the couch, the chairs, or in bed, she's flopped out all over him.

A couple of weeks ago, the Human Male had a job interview. After he left, she came out of the bedroom and laid down on my pajamas, which were, um, folded carefully close to the ground. Aww, I thought. That's so cute! She wants to be near me, but not sit in the wooden chair. A little while later, she jumped in my lap.
Awww! That's even cuter! I said to myself. She must be fixated on me today. I feel so loved.

Then I looked over at my pile of pjs-- and then remembered that I had been wearing one of the Human Male's sweatshirts earlier. And I realized she was sitting on my lap because she had a better view out the window thank if she sat in the chair.

It wasn't about me at all-- it was about him. She was pouting because he left.

So today, the Human Male is out at a job fair. About 0.5 seconds after walked out the door, I feel a little tiny paw on my arm. Pretty soon, she was trying to snuggle up in my lap and wearing her pouty face.

I'm onto you, puggle, and I'm not falling for it this time.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Congratulations. You're semi-not idiots.

A couple days ago I heard that the HSUS issued a temporary change in policy regarding dogs taken from fighting situations. It appears that for now (and until they get together with some welfare organizations for an April meeting to further discuss the issue), they recommend that dogs are to be evaluated individually to see if they're adoptable, rather than being put to sleep automatically.

Well, congratulations, HSUS. You have finally achieved common sense. It's a shame you couldn't have had this moment of lucidity two weeks ago, but here's hoping it will last longer than a month.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Apparently Paczkis aren't the only pre-Lenten treat...

Today is Mardi Gras, and I've learned about something interesting this week: king cakes.

I'd never heard of a king cake before last Thursday, when I was out with two of my friends (one of whom is from New Orleans, and the other's apparently well-versed in eating and baking them and never bothered to tell me about them or bring me a slice. THANKS, Honey.) and they started talking about them. For everyone like me that has no idea what a king cake is, I was told it's like a giant cinnamon roll cake, and it has yellow, green, and purple icing on it. The best part is that there's a tiny gold plastic baby Jesus baked into it. And depending on the source of information, whoever eats the baby either is king or has to bake next year's cake.

And to those who have had king cake, telling someone all of this is very normal.

I did a little research (read: I went on Wikipedia) and found out that the cake is named to represent the Three Wise Men, and the disco baby Jesus is... well, Jesus. The king cake season stretches from the Twelfth Night (January 5th) until Mardi Gras. And apparently in New Orleans, one can show up in your office every day.

Needless to say, I'm a little distressed to find out there's a holiday season involving cake and gold-painted plastic babies that I didn't know about. Almost as distressed as I am to find out I'm surrounded by king cakes and never noticed. I was at the bakery around the corner this weekend and they have a big sign for king cake orders, and then I got an e-mail today saying that there's a king cake in my office right now.

But what's really aggravating is that I still haven't seen one in real life. They didn't have any on display at the bakery, and I'm working from home today. Every picture I've seen of them has been... well, let's say any one of them could belong on Cake Wrecks. I don't know if being all wreck-y is part of its charm (I mean, we are talking about a cake with a gold plastic baby Jesus baked into it for a holiday where beaded necklaces are thrown at you if you lift your shirt) but I really want to see what one looks like (read: I want to take a glance at it before I shove it in my face).

I've thought about making one, but then I remembered that, not only would I have to go through the effort of baking it, Lent starts tomorrow, and having something tempting in the house probably is not a good idea right now. So then I thought that I'd make one for Alice (please let me assert for the nine-millionth time, I'm not a crazy dog mom).

Would you believe that there are no dog king cake recipes out there? Maybe it's because dogs can eat everything that's in a king cake, I don't know. But after learning that some of Alice's favorite human foods aren't canine-compatible, I've been a little concerned with giving Alice people food. I'd just prefer a dog-approved version.

The best I could come up with is that there's a place in Huntley, Illinois called The Royal Dog Store that sells dog versions. I'm glad to see that there are some out there, though I do find it interesting that the only place I can find online that sells canine king cakes are in the heart of Paczki Country, and that they don't make those.

Happy Mardi Gras and Paczki Day to everyone!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Would you like a little dog with that wine?

As I mentioned in a recent post, I enjoy wine. For years, Mamala's been mentioning that my taste in wine is... well, let's just say in the less than $7 range (Pink Andre, anyone?). I'm pretty sure that what's been keeping her from crowning me as her favorite child.

I'm having a significant birthday this year, and I decided that-- as one gives up Boone's Farm when one finishes undergrad-- it's time to expand my palate and branch out to... let's not say higher quality (because Pink Andre will always be my favorite), but to more expensive brands. I've managed to up it to $12-- recession pricing, yo.

In addition to my "emergency trip to the grocery store after a bad day" buys, I love hitting up The Curious Grape. They have a great selection and the staff is both extra nice and knowledgeable. Their special tasting classes are a blast, too. It's a place where you don't have to be a connoissieur to feel like one: basically, you know you're going to walk out with a good bottle of wine and your friends will think you're a hotshot.

While I was in heavy dog-searching mode last summer, the Human Male and I went in there and discovered Dog House Wines. Their wine is pretty good, it's in a great price range (I think around $11 or $12). And the best part is, they donate 50 cents of each bottle to Guide Dogs for the Blind, which provides training and guide dogs to visually-impaired people, free of charge. I was kind of wishing I'd had some Depends on when I realized that I could support a non-profit dog organization by drinking wine, I was so excited.

In the months since, I've come to learn that there's a pretty strong connection between pet lovers and wine. Wineries that allow dogs aren't too uncommon, and there are actually now number of coffee table books of winery dog photos (this is just one). I had no idea! I don't know the first thing about running a vineyard, but I have idea of it being a dreamy, laid back, outdoorsy, and sun-drenched profession-- the perfect environment for a dog. I'm sure it's something far less romantic, like they keep rats from drowning in the barrels and the bugs from infesting the cellars or something, but whatever.

Recently I set up a Twitter feed and I love it. While I originally got it as a way to keep in touch with my friends when I'm too lazy to write a full e-mail, it's quickly turned into my easy source to keep up on news items for my interests.
Monday night, I was doing my regular minutely check, and Best Friends Animal Society posted one about a special wine they had. After following the link, I discovered that Best Friends has something called Vicktory Wines (through Carivintas Winery, who, by the way, has dog/cat/horse/nature wine clubs, too). Best Friends is the organization in Utah that got 22 of Michael Vick's pit bulls, and the Vicktory Wines (Vicktory-- get it?) have paintings of each of the dogs on its labels. Proceeds from the wine benefit the organization.

Each bottle is a little pricey: $40 a pop. For a Tuesday night, that might be a bit on the high side (particularly when you haven't tasted it before), but I know for certain occasions that's a totally appropriate price point-- especially since it benefits a good cause.

Certain occasions-- like a significant birthday, maybe (ahem, Human Male)?*

*Don't worry, Pink Andre-- while I may love dogs and non-profits, I won't forget you when I have my 30 cupcake celebration.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

When it comes to pit bulls, idiocy reigns supreme.

I read an article today on a judge in North Carolina who has ordered that 127 pit bulls taken from a kennel be put down. Were they evaluated before he made his decision. Nope. And why should they be? I mean, they're pit bulls-- obviously they're dangerous. Obviously no one has ever mistaken another type of dog for a pit bull. Obviously no other type of dog has ever done extreme damage to to a person. Obviously pit bulls can't be rehabilitated and lead happy, productive lives.

I freaking
hate this mentality. I think most dog people who have met a pit bull find them to be happy sweethearts. I think most dog people understand that you always look at the owner first before you look at the dog. I think most sensible people would say, hey-- let's evaluate the dogs before we sentence them to death. Whatever happened to that whole "innocent until proven guilty" law thing? And while we're at it, what about finding some credible witnesses to testify?

Of course, any rational thinking in this situation is akin to absurdity.
Obviously we should listen to the money rather than the groups that evaluated and rehabilitated many of the Vick dogs.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Take your dog to the cleaners... er, maybe to lunch.

Alice’s trainer, Kissable Canine, sends out a great little newsletter every month. The February edition had a short write-up on some nice places around DC to take your dog on a date. On their list: Quiet Waters Park in Anne Arundel County, Maryland; Mount Vernon in Alexandria, Virginia; and Bluemont Vineyards in Bluemont, Virginia.

I freaking love places that allow dogs—I’m of the camp that if a place allows kids, they should allow a well-behaved dog. I’ll unashamedly admit I’m far more apt to go somewhere if they’ll let Alice in. And believe me, I’ll be going to all three as soon as the weather warms up. Seriously, who knew that GW's old haunt allowed dogs? I didn't. Likely first on the list, though, is Bluemont. Next to Alice, non-profits, and ANTM, I love wine. I’ve heard fabulous things about Bluemont, too. I’m quite excited about this one.

This got me thinking about the other places I know that allow dogs in the DC area, and thought it might be good to share them—it can be tough to track down a list online of stores/places that are dog-friendly. I don’t know too many, so if you know more (even in non-DC areas), please feel free to share!

Barrel Oak Winery: Believe me, if it’s on the way to/from Bluemont (it's in Fauqier County, VA-- I'm not the best with my geography past Duke St. in the ALX), I’m stopping there first/afterwards. There are fewer things more beautiful than a vineyard, and this one has some beautiful views online. It also sounds like they have some fun events, like movies. Dear Warm Weather: Please come soon. Besos, The Human Female.

Le Village Marche: This little store in Shirlington (VA) allows arm-carried dogs. I brought Alice in one day and they were really nice her. Not a great place if your dog gets squirrelly and might jump—there’s a lot of tiny little breakable things along the shelves. And if you’re going to be buying anything from this fabulous store, you’re better off bringing it home.

Barnes and Noble: This one surprised me, too. I got kind of a vague response when I asked, but I’m pretty sure this is a company-wide policy—as the employee told me, they’d rather have dogs inside than left in the cold/hot car. But let me tell you this: I know for a fact that Clarendon is dog-friendly, as is Grand Rapids, Michigan’s B&N, and those in Manhattan. I’m thinking they’re all on board. They’re just not allowed in the café area. You might get a little flak from other shoppers (Alice had a lady give her attitude once—apparently sitting four feet away while waiting in line is too close for some), but if your dog’s well-behaved and not weedling in the self-help section, what are they going to do? Just to be on the safe side, it might help to call your local store first.

Restaurants with outside seating: This is kind of a no-brainer, but it’s important to note: if a restaurant has sidewalk seating (sit-down or take-out alike), they’re likely pet-friendly. Shirlington, Old Town Alexandria, and Del Ray (all VA) are safe bets. Some might have rules about if they can be inside or outside the seating fences, but I can tell you for sure that Busboys and Poets, Bear Rock, and T.H.A.I. in Shirlington have let Alice inside the fences, and Luna Grill, the Carlyle, and Guapo’s allow them (at the very least) outside the fences in Shirlington. Bittersweet and the one outside table at Red Mei in OT always have a dog sitting at the tables (Alice is a regular when it’s warm at Red Mei-- their food is stupid good), and there’s always a ton of dogs outside the seating fences along King Street. Mt. Vernon Ave in Del Ray is the same. There are two places in particular that I love in particular—one’s St. Elmo’s (they may even have a dog hitching post—I think I saw one yesterday when I drove by) and Caboose Café.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

How to create a monster.

I can sum it up in six words: Let the dog sleep in bed.

When we first got Alice, she would curl up in an uncomfortably tiny ball at the very edge of the bed and would start fake-sleeping about half an hour before we went to bed. “Look, I’m so tiny and small, I take up no room at all,” I imagined she’d say. “Plus, I’m already asleep. Why not just let me stay?” Being suckers, we would.

As it got colder, we tried to get her under the blankets. “Oh, no,” Alice would say. “I’m not going under there. Instead, I’ll lay right on top of you, so when you move, I’ll fall off and steal all of the blankets.” This got irritating, so during one night where she stole all of the blankets, we started tucking her under her own special Christmas blanket. She's been fixated ever since.

At first, she had some interesting ideas of what it meant to snuggle up with the blankets. At first, she'd sleep on top of it. As she got more comfortable, she'd stick certain parts of her body under it. What part she hid under it varied.

On a much colder night, we threw her under the covers, and she stayed. She's been there ever since.

She started by our feet, but lately, I've woken up to find Alice tucked in nicely, sometimes with her head up by mine. Or, in other cases, her rear end. Her favorite place is between the Human Male and me (pretty much in every situation-- on the couch, walking around, eating dinner), an activity that’s earned her the nickname “Moment Killer”.

Last night, however, was a real kicker.

I woke up sometime early this morning—like midnight or three or the sort (like all great Valentine’s Day dates, I fell asleep around 9:30). I was sleeping on my side, somewhere in the middle of the bed. I went to roll over—only to feel little fast-kicking legs between my shoulder blades. I sat up and found Alice laying horizontally below my pillow, taking up literally half the bed. Yes, Alice was kicking me to move over. And she gave me a dirty little puggle look that clearly said, “Why did you wake me up, human?!”

Yeah, that got corrected quickly. Alice soon found herself back under the bed by our feet. That was until 6A, when I woke up and found her snugged up against me, head on my arm.

I’m beginning to think that Alice needs a night a week sleeping in her crate, just to remind her that while she’s part of the pack, she’s the zeta dog here. Now, if she wasn’t so cute…

Alice the Photo Diva.

Let me preface this post by saying, once again, that I'm not a crazy dog mom, toting around my fur child like a pageant parent on speed. No, really. I mean it.

Yesterday Alice's favorite store, Wylie Wagg, had
Houndstooth Photography in taking pet pictures. I found out about a week ago that they were coming and scheduled an appointment.

I spent a couple days this week driving the Human Male and my Urban Family nuts, trying to get opinions on what she should wear. Alice typically trots around in a pink and black collar with pirate skulls on it. It's the cutest thing and fits her personality, but it's starting to get a little rasty and I just wasn't sure it had that kind of classy look you typically go for when you have a professional picture taken. I also thought about having her go naked, but I started thinking about how she was picked up as a stray and I wanted her to look like she has a family and belonged to someone (again, I'd like to reiterate that I'm not a crazy dog mom). We even thought bout a strand of pearls, but Alice isn't that... fancy. So I ended up making her a little velcroed collar out of pink with white polka-dotted ribbon and three fake pearls. Without going to Jay Manuel on everyone, I think it ended up being the right look for her pictures-- not too fussy, not too casual.

Houndstooth Photography was fabulous. Gracy and Lara are professional photojournalists with really impressive credits (made even more impressive when you see them-- they both look like they're barely out of high school), and from the few shots we saw, they took some really pretty pictures of Alice, both posed and candid.

Alice is pretty hyper at home, but when she's out in public or put on the spot, she's quite calm and attentive (something that always made us laugh when we went to Dog 101 class and was used as the example dog-- she was never the same at home), so we expected her to be pretty good. The poor girl, she was actually nervous! She doesn't like it when people stand around her in a circle, and the photo set they had set up between two display tables must've thrown her off a bit. She walked "off set" a couple of times. Fortunately, Lara's absolutely adorable cousins (and her equally fabulous aunt, whom we spoke with for a while afterwards) were there to tempt Alice with treats. Once she realized that if she let people take pictures of her, she got more, she was okay. By the end, she was posing and giving people looks that clearly said, "Where are my treats, humans?"

I'm not entirely certain, but I'm pretty sure that because of the angle at which she was sitting, they might've gotten some pictures of her scars. I really hope they did. Not only are they part of who she is, it's important to us to get to "tell her story". I do feel it's my responsibility, as the owner of a previously-abused dog, to show that this happens everywhere (even in the leader of the free world's neighborhood) and that there's no such thing as a dog who "deserves it". Her scars and past aren't something we hide; we want others to see them and ask. And personally, I love getting to say
"Can you believe some crapbag would do that to a dog?"

They said that the pictures should be ready in about a week, and I'm so excited to see them. Gracy mentioned that they might put a few on their blog beforehand, and I've been checking so often in case they post one of her, I very well could've doubled their number of hits. I just can't wait to see the photos.

While she was having her photo done, I was thinking about this picture:

This is Alice's first picture in the shelter, the one that was posted on Craig's List when the Human Male found her. I look at her in this photo, barely recognizable except for the white streaks on her chest. She just looks so sad, scared, and unhappy. She didn't even have a name when it was taken. And now just six months later, she's having professional photos taken of her. To me, this
was a nice reminder that when the chips are down against you, always keep on going-- you might not end up where you belong the first time around, but you eventually will.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I've often thought that Alice could be the poster girl for shelter dogs...

…But a box would work, too. I've entered Alice in Bissell's MVP Pet Photo Contest. If you were watching the Puppy Bowl last week, you might've seen the ads.

Here's what I like about this one: the grand prize not only includes your pet's picture on Bissell's packaging, but a $10,000 donation to a pet charity. Yes, that would be four zeros. Even the top five prizes are awesome: they all get their pet's picture on packaging, plus second place gets $5,000 for charity and third, fourth, and fifth get a $1,000 donation each.

Having Alice's picture on items at every Target in America would be cool but basically, we're in this for the money. In addition to Alice's shelter, I can easily think of several animal charities that could use this, the least of which being our neighborhood shelter*—I just found out this weekend that they're planning on putting on a huge new addition. Not only is this important for the animals who end up there (1,186 adopted last year alone!), they also have a safekeeping program, which temporarily houses pets in health or housing emergencies (like an owner's hospitalization, a house fire, or leaving an abusive situation) until other arrangements can be made.

But those are just two worthy options. Especially in times like these, $1,000 could go such a long way.**

This is the part of the post where I beg you in a dignified and ladylike manner to please vote for Alice. Her picture will be online from today through next Tuesday, February 17th. If you click on the link below, you'll be taken to her page. Please (please, please!) feel free to send any friend, family member, or stranger you meet the link as well!

* By the way, my shelter has little pug-beagle hybrid there right now, if anyone's looking for a new addition. What a handsome boy!

** As incentive to vote, if Alice is one of the winners, I'll accept suggestions for deciding on the charity.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Do Good While Watching Super Bowl Commercials!

I was going to embed the Pedigree Super Bowl commercial, but this is even better. If you go to the Pedigree Website and watch the commerical-- along with the four hilarious featured adopter videos-- they'll donate an 8oz bowl of dog food to dogs in shelters.

Go here:

Every year I cry my eyes out during the Super Bowl and Westminster, when they play the adopt-a-dog commercials. I even went to the store in Times Square last year (and had a tough time leaving a wonderful fawn doberman) and got a little weepy there. I'm so incredibly happy they're going the funny route this year-- it works!

Also check out their store-- they have some super cute little Dogs Rule stuff, including purses made out of recycled dog food bags. I'm seriously in love. My dad has the t-shirt and I have the mug and will vouch for it-- it works great and still looks sleek (and clean) a year later. And if I knew for certain what Alice's neck size was right now, she'd be getting the "Proud to be Adopted" collar. So cute!