Friday, May 29, 2009

Puggle vs. Pink Birthday Cupcake.

So today's my birthday. My wonderful friend Erin gave me three really good, fancy cupcakes from Hello Cupcake yesterday*-- one for The Human Male, one for Alice, and one for me. I was going to give Alice the vanilla-vanilla one, but after trying the icing on all three, the vanilla one didn't make it past my office door. So Alice got the one with pink strawberry icing.

Here she is waiting for it:

And here she is attacking it:

She loved it. Thanks for the treats, Erin!

*Yet another reason why Erin's the best.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Found: A Stag.

In the middle of DC by Thomas Circle, there's a random, gigantic deer statue. I don't know why.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A week in the life of Alice.

It’s been such a busy couple of weeks, my camera and stories are backing up. So today, I’m giving you a long run-through of last week in Aliceland.

A week ago this past Saturday, we drove up to Hyattsville, Maryland to help look for Berdina, the WARL foster pit bull who’s been missing for a little over a month. Her most recent spottings have been in this area of connected parks along a river. The area’s pretty substantially wooded and overgrown with kudzu—I completely understand why she’s been difficult to spot.

Unfortunately, we didn’t find her, but we did find some pit bull sized prints (without human ones around it) near where she’s been more recently seen and posted a number of flyers. Plus they've hired a tracking dog, who picked up a fresh scent of her this past weekend around that area. Hopefully she’ll be found soon—or someone will just take her in and give her a long and happy life.

Alice came along for the walk, and she was great—she held up like a champ and enjoyed climbing in the woods. She also came home very dirty and got a bath, which she didn’t enjoy that much.

Then the next day, we attended a Blessing of the Dogs at the National City Christian Church in DC. My friend Erin (of Studs with Pugs fame), who lives nearby and is friends with one of the pastors, insisted we go. I’m so glad we did. They held it on the giant front steps of the church, and everyone was so nice. I think about 25-30 dogs were there—despite the unseasonably cool, cloudy, windy, and bad hair-inducing weather. The whole event was so sweet.

After that, we walked over to Dupont Circle and had Alice’s first post-church brunch at Bagels Etc. She approved.

Monday, we got some sad news: Rocco moved out! Alice was crushed. Then she stole the kitchen rug, and all was well again.

But fear not, we also got some great news that day: Tinkerbell, Oscar, and Tucker over at You Had Me at Arf gave Alice an award! Thank you so much!

And then Tuesday came. It was a work-from-home Tuesday, which Alice enjoys. She sits in the chair next to me and sleeps all day, and then begs for a treat anytime I grab something to eat. Around 4:30, I reached over to give Alice a hug and a pet, and I felt something on her neck, under her collar. I looked at it and it was a weird color—I couldn’t tell if it was a bug or some kind of growth. For a good hour, I wrestled with her to let me see what it was, then finally pinned her down and took tweezers to it. I figured if it was something, um, belonging to her, she’d cry and I’d know.

As much as I’m not a fan of growths, I’m wishing it was.

In short, it was some sort of tick. Anyone that knows me knows about my all-consuming fear of ticks. I can’t handle them. And this one not only had lots of legs and pincers, it was on my freaking dog! And my freaking dog was on my bed! In my house! On this planet! I was so grossed out, I almost threw up. Instead, I stuck the tick in a small Ziploc bag with hydrogen peroxide (for identification when The Human Male—who’s from Tickville, USA—got home) because I didn’t have alcohol, and then stuck that bag in a bigger plastic bag. I almost taped it shut with packaging tape, but I decided that I needed to try and control the crazy a wee bit. Then I sat the bag by my work computer and tried to focus on writing an article while keeping an eye on it, all the while praying that The Human Male would come home soon.

I cannot possibly stress how gross the thing was. I’m getting nauseous just writing about it. When I pulled it off of her, it seriously gave me the finger. What’s even more gross is that I carried it into the kitchen to put it in the baggie, and it climbed its way out of the tweezer grip and fell on the floor under the refrigerator. I had to brush it out of there (but only after stripping down and shaking off Alice to make sure it didn’t fall on one of us), and I swear it was on its cell phone, calling for back-up as I put it in the bag.

The worst part? THE THING WOULDN’T DIE IN THE HYDROGEN PEROXIDE. It sat in there, doing the backstroke, like my double-bagged containment unit was the perfect location for his little tick-infested Pool Party.

I was able to keep it together until The Human Male got home, at which point I shook the bag at him, started crying, and demanded he call and get a vet appointment. Which, after he finally stopped laughing, he did. They said not to worry, just feel the spot for swelling and watch her for lethargy, and that they’d check her out this week.

Once I was assured that Alice probably won’t die, I squished the thing in the bag and had The Human Male throw it down a garbage chute on the opposite side of the building.

I should probably note that Alice thought all of this was great fun.

I don’t know where she picked up the thing. I’d think it was Saturday, but we gave her a bath and felt her up then—I just feel like we would’ve notice this sumo tick. But I hope it was, because if she picked that thing up running around our neighborhood, I’m moving.

Save for Alice's big book news, the rest of the week was fortunately pretty quiet, giving me time to recover from tick trauma. We ate outside at practically every restaurant in our neighborhood, and ended the long weekend with a trip to Founder's Park in Old Town Alexandria, my favorite place in the area.

I think she had a good time.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ah, to be a bunny!

This was too good not to post. I just visited the Animal Welfare League of Arlington's Website to see if they had any good events coming up. And they do.

A Bunny Spa Day.

No, really!

On May 31st, AWLA is having a bunny massage therapist come in to do grooming and rub-downs.

Did you even know that there were bunny massage therapists?! Where do you go to school for that? And could you imagine anything better than getting to massage soft bunnies all day long?

Actually, maybe there is something better. I bet if you're really good in a past life, you get to come back as a bunny that bunny massagers practice upon.

I told The Human Male about Bunny Spa Day, and his response was, "Oh. So that's why all the bunnies look so relaxed over there."

Monday, May 25, 2009

Studs Without Pugs: Happy Memorial Day!

Before I moved to DC, I don't think I ever actually saw Memorial Day for what it really is. Sure, I appreciated the sacrifice of our soldiers and their families, but I saw Memorial Day more as a day off from school or work, or every few years, my birthday.

It wasn't until I moved here, with the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery in my neighborhood and the great men and women in the service we come in contact with every day, that I really started to see what it means to be in the military: how dedicated and tenacious soldiers truly are; the determined and stalwart strength of military families; how difficult it must be to manage daily life on top of the stress and strain of military duties; how more absolutely, positively needs to be done to keep our troops safe and to take care of them once they get back home. Memorial Day's no longer just a good day for barbecues and free parking.

A year ago today, I had one of the best nights of my life. I went to New York City and met up with my Urban Family for a surprise bachelorette party for my friend $-Money. And if you know about Manhattan or the military during this time of year, you'll know it's Fleet Week.

I won't discuss anything that occurred that night, but I will say two things: one, it's BETTER than everyone says it is; and two, we spent a ton of money on a pack of Marines to show them just how much we appreciate their service. They were so wonderful and we had the greatest time.

So on this Memorial Day, I'm going to say THANK YOU to the troops the best way I know how: by showing you some hot Navy Sailors.

My HLP Miss Heather is the best. I completely stole this from her site.

Let me just say, I've yet to see any type of military personnel that isn't smoking hot. I'm beginning to think it's an eligibility requirement.

God bless America.

You know what's really tough to do?

Getting a puggle to wear a pineapple top on its head long enough to take a picture.

Don't bother trying; puggles won't even do it for a treat.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Huge News!

Let me preface this by saying that this has been one of the harder secrets I've had to keep. But now I can talk about it!

About six months ago, I sent in a picture of Alice to The Bark magazine for their Smiling Dog section. I had a cute one from about three weeks after we got her and we took her to the National Book Festival. After walking all around DC, taking her picture in front of monuments and around town, she sat down on the grass and gave me a close-eyed, big toothy grin. As if to say, "You get one last fake smile and I'm done with your shenanigans, humans!" I just love the photo-- and it was one of the first smiling pictures we have of her, so it's extra special.

So I sent it in, and didn't think much of it after that. Then on New Year's Day, I got a note from their editor, saying that they'd like to put it into a book that they'll be publishing this fall called DogJoy. They made it clear that they'd be choosing around 500 photos, and the final decision on which ones would get in the book would be up to the publisher. The Human Male and I loved the idea, filled out all of the release forms, wrote a short blurb to go along with the photo, and waited.

And waited. And waited. And didn't tell too many people about it, in case it didn't go through. I'm not the best at keeping exciting news quiet, so it was quite the challenge.

Fast forward to today. I did a spur of the moment e-mail check this afternoon and there was another letter from The Bark's editor. Alice made it into the book!

I'm so thrilled about this, I can't even tell you. I just love that, within a year, this little dog has gone from being a nameless stray living on the street to getting published in photo books. I think it really shows that if you're not in the right place now, if you keep on trudging through, you'll eventually get where you belong.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I’m no paleontologist, but…

So I think by now everyone’s heard about Ida, the 47 million-year-old, nearly-completely intact fossil that was unveiled a couple of days ago.

Raised on a steady diet of Indiana Jones growing up, I’m a total sucker for any super cool archeological find. And I am loving me some Ida. She’s so cute!

Picture a la the New York Daily News.

Scientists are saying that they think she might be a precursor to humans. I’m not sure I totally agree with that. That cuteness looks familiar…

Monday, May 18, 2009

Late Night with Alice.

Obviously, I see a lot of Alice. But I've seen a lot more of her in the wee hours lately than I have in the past.

On Saturday night around 2:30A, I woke up, pretty sure I heard some kind of thuddy sound in the house. I'm a light sleeper and wake up a lot, but I was pretty sure this was something big. The Human Male was kind of awake, so I asked him if he heard something. He murfled something along the lines of "Maybe; what did it sound like?" It didn't sound like an insane psycho killer, so I got up and investigated.

It ended up being a mirror in the bathroom. We put up a full-length mirror on the back of the door with double-sided tape a few weeks ago, and the recent humidity made it unstick. It hit the toilet and wedged a little under the door. Mystery solved.

So I walk out of the bathroom and see The Human Male coming stumbling out of the bedroom, still mumbling about how he might've heard a sound. Alice is about six inches behind him, peeking out around his legs and looking ready to run in the opposite direction at a moment's notice.

Ladies and gentlemen, my watchdog.

Then last night, I woke up around 3A and heard Alice drinking in the kitchen. She regularly gets up between 3 and 4A to do a little snacking. But she seemed to be drinking a lot. I mean, like a lot. When I checked her bowl this morning, it was half gone. Once she finished slurping down her water, she came trotting back in to the bedroom and jumped on the bed. I laid still so that she'd go back to sleep, and she walked up to my face and rested her little wet chin on my cheek. It was so wet, it actually dripped down my face. Then she went over to The Human Male and did the same.

And then she sneezed on him.

And that sneeze was followed by another. And another. And several more. She sneezed for about fifteen seconds straight. And not little dainty ones. We're talking shake-the-bed-style rattlers. They were so loud, they woke up The Human Male, who would likely sleep through a bulldozer crashing through the apartment.

Apparently she drank so much, so fast, that she got water up her nose.

The perpetual sneezing scared Alice and she freaked out a little, so we tried to calm her down. But when she's upset about something, she gets that weird reverse-sneeze thing. Within seconds, she started the wheezing. And when she does that, she completely loses it. We think at some point Alice got in trouble for the reverse-sneezing (like she can help it), because she always gets this look on her face that clearly says "I'm a good girl! I'm a good girl!" and frantically tries everything she can to make sure we see her. It's so sad, we always work extra hard to reassure her that she is a good girl and rub her throat. But she was so worked up, she couldn't stop wheezing. It took her a good minute to stop. The worried look on her face was enough to melt a robot's heart.

Within seconds of her stopping and him asking what was going on, The Human Male was fast asleep again. Then this morning he asked me what was wrong with Alice. I explained to him about the water, the chinning, and sneezing. And that she sneezed on him.

You should've seen his face.

"She sneezed on me?" he asked, baffled.

"Yup. Right on you," I responded, trying to hold off the smile.

"And you let her do it?"


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Because "Where's Berdina?" isn't as fun as "Where's Waldo?"...

I noticed a flyer a few days ago at my office's grocery store for a lost dog named Berdina. From the check-out line, I thought she was an Italian Greyhound and completely adorable, and I decided to keep an eye out for her.

Then today, I found out more about her. Berdina is actually a pit bull, even cuter than I originally thought, and she's a foster from the Washington Animal Rescue League. She ran away on April 20th and has been spotted several times since then.

If you see her, contact WARL at 202-230-4493 or 202-375-7755.

I'm not sure how many people who read this live in the DC metro area, but if you do (or know someone who does), WARL set up a Website to help try to find her. It's located here. It looks like she's been seen around Chillum and Kirkwood Parks in Maryland.

I'm going to make some time this weekend to go out and try to track her down. Hopefully, someone will find her and bring her back and it won't be needed.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cue Jaws music...

Like many a proud dog owner, I like to have Alice set as my computer wallpaper at work. A month or so ago, I took this picture of her:

I thought it'd be a cute little picture to have as a background on my work computer. So I sent it to my work address and set it up the next day.

When I closed down my pages, I saw this:

Note to self: Make sure to resize pictures before sending them, or else you'll have another heart attack from coming face-to-face with a giant Alice.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Kinkaju, Jigglypuff, Alice.

While searching for a picture for Mr. Puggle's contest, I've been going through a lot of Alice photos. It's pretty fun to see how much she's changed since we got her in September. And all the things she's done. And all the trouble she's gotten into.

Every few weeks, I find a new favorite picture. This week, I'm obsessed with this one:

I know it's a blurry phone picture, but I just love it. Look at the glowing googly eyes! Look at the little teeth! Look at the tail! She just looks so funny-- like a goofy, tiny little cartoon character.

I can't remember exactly what she was doing when I took the picture, but I do remember she was getting into trouble.

Of course, she's a puggle-- that was a given.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

It's a Walk-Off!

This morning Alice, The Human Male, and I participated in the Walk for the Animals, a benefit for our neighborhood shelter, the Animal Welfare League of Arlington. I have to say, it was the most fun that I've had at 8:30A on a Saturday in a very long time.

It was held at Bluemont Park, this really nice park about five miles from our house. We'd never been there before, and it was so much more than I'd imagined. There were a lot of fields, a nice river (which I think might be part of the river by our house), and a ton of paths that connect to others. I just loved it-- I'm ready to go back now!

We weren't quite sure what to expect. AWLA's a shelter for the county (Arlington has just under 207,000 people in 26 square miles), but I guess I feel like it's our neighborhood shelter-- and how many people truly live in our 'hood?

Had I actually read the Walk for the Animals website, I would've had an idea: last year, they had 500 walkers and 300 dogs. My guess is that it was about the same this year-- people and dogs everywhere! It was great.

We were really lucky-- after what seems like a thousand days of rain (in actuality, it was nine), we had a beautifully warm and sunny day. True, it was muggy and allergy-inducing too, but it was soooo much better than the alternative. We'll take it!

All of the human participants got t-shirts, and the dogs got bandannas. I didn't get a good picture of Alice wearing it, but I did get some cute ones of her in it (and a couple of the bandanna).

The walk was three miles and took us from the park, through a couple of streets in Arlington, and onto some city paths. They actually closed a lane on one very busy street. Traffic was way backed up-- I felt really badly for the people who were stuck in it, but hopefully the silly dogs in bandannas made them smile.

Along the route, they had volunteers pointing the way and water stations set up along the way-- for both the humans and the dogs.

When we got back to the park, we perused the sponsor booths. There were some great ones-- Furget-Me-Not, Dogma Bakery (I can't wait to go there!), Time for a Walk, and Caring Hands Animal Hospital to name a few.

There was one in particular that Alice loved: Max and Ruffy's Dog Treats, a brand-new local dog treat company. We talked to Kelly, one of the founders (and also an incredibly nice guy), and he said that they just launched last night. Alice LOVED their treats-- especially the tomato one. She's actually curled up on a couch with a molasses one right now.

I like that they're local and human-grade-- The Human Male and I tried a couple. We'll definitely be ordering some.

By the end of the walk, Alice was one pooped-out puppy. It was a great morning-- and a terrific cause.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Studs with Pugs: Dahling, you look MAHVELOUS!

I love the movie Men in Black. I don’t know what it is about it, but I could watch it a thousand more times and still not get tired of it. It just cracks me up. Plus, the coroner has a fabulous name, and it’s got Frank the Pug—how can you not love him?

J has one great line in the move that I love in particular. Right after he gets his identity erased and puts on his MIB standard-issue suit and glasses (and that watch!), he turns to K and says:

“You know what the difference is between you and me? I make this look good.”

Love it! Yes, J does look good in that suit. But better than K? Maybe, but it’s hard to say. I mean, Tommy Lee Jones is definitely in the running for Studs with Pugs. Some things just make people look good.

What does this have to do with Studs with Pugs, you ask? Well, let me tell you.

True, a pug/puggle/puggle hybrid/dog friend of a pug or pug-mix will always make you look good, but when it comes to fashion, I always think of one name in particular:


Have you ever seen a man in a Valentino suit? Not sure? Just think back to any Oscars telecast you’ve ever watched, and the best looking man there (just don’t think about George Clooney—that one’s mine). I bet you one whole dollar that he very well might’ve been wearing a Valentino suit. And I can guarantee the prettiest dresses on the women run a high likelihood of being Valentino. I always think of Julia Roberts’ black and white dress, or that stunning red one that Katherine Heigl wore. So beautiful!

In short, Valentino makes you look good. And what makes Valentino himself look good?


Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go spend my day reading everything at Dog Art Today.

Yes, Valentino is a major pug lover. In fact, there’s actually a documentary about him that heavily features his pugs. Can you believe it? Pretty dresses and pugs—throw in a cupcake (and George Clooney) and you’ve got my dream movie.

He even had a special promo contest involving best-dressed pugs. I love it!

Sometimes, though, I have to wonder: does he have good taste because he has pugs, or does he have pugs because he has good taste?

Needless to say, I think we can all agree that this man could make us all look good.

The only real issue with Valentino is that I can’t afford one of his dresses. Mr. V, can I entice you to follow Isaac Mizrahi’s lead and do a line with Target? Si?

Hoof it, Molly!

I was reading the news earlier today and came across this article. Apparently a cow escaped from a slaughterhouse in Jamaica, Queens yesterday and took to the streets. The ASPCA caught her and named her Molly, and she's moved to a permanent home at a sanctuary called The Farrm-- and apparently already has a potential suitor.

There are so many reasons to love this story. What a spunky little cow! She really took matters into her own hands... or hooves, if you will. Go get 'em, girl! And it has such a happy ending.

When I read this, I was reminded of a moment when I was in fourth grade. We lived just outside of Minneapolis, and one day riding the bus home through from school through a very typical suburban area, we saw flashing cop cars and police officers gingerly sneaking around one side of a house. Something big was definitely up.

Then we saw what it was: around the other side of the house came a huge bull, trotting away into an adjacent yard. Apparently he fell off a truck on a nearby highway and went on a running spree for several hours.

It's still pretty funny to me, but to a nine year old, it was the most hilarious thing I'd ever seen. The police officers' caution on one side of the house and the bull happily traipsing away in a setting so foreign just ruined me. I laughed for hours afterwards. What's particularly funny to me now is taking that crazy scenario out of Minneapolis and popping it into Queens. The Human Male (who knows Jamaica well) cracked up when I told him, which makes me think that it had to be even more surreal than I'm thinking.

Congratulations, Molly! May you have a long and happy life down on The Farrm.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The BowWowPowWow.

We're going through an endless cold and rainy spell here in DC, so I thought I'd write about something we did when it was warm and good hair was attainable.

A week ago last Sunday, Alice, The Human Male, and I went to the BowWowPowWow in the DC neighborhood of Adams Morgan. Adams Morgan is a funky, fun little part of town on the Northwest side, so we had hopes for a fun afternoon.

All week, we'd been watching the weather report. DC's weather has been less than agreeable lately-- nice weekends in the 60s, followed by a full week of rain in the 40s. So we were pretty excited about the report: mid-80s with a chance of scattered thunderstorms.

I walked over to the grocery to buy stuff to make pancakes, and it was gorgeous outside-- low-60s and bright blue skies at 8A. Perfect light pants and sweatshirt weather. By the time I walked back, I was actually sweating. I had a feeling that it might be a pretty hot day.

By the time we got over to Adams Morgan, it was 94, and still not a single cloud in sight. We learned that, while Alice enjoys all sorts of tropical foods, she'll tolerate the heat but doesn't enjoy it too much.

We didn't stay too long, but it was quite fun. There were about 30 vendors, ranging from non-pet jewelry makers, Pet Head, vets, pet websites, Fur-Get Me Not (Alice's dog school) and the Washington Humane Society. All of the vendors who brought their dogs had built little shaded areas for them under their tables. The only dog we saw that was enjoying the weather was a cheery little baby pit bull-- I'm not sure anything would've phased her happiness.

Alice thought Fur-Get Me Not's water dish was the best.

All in all, it was a good time. And I love the fact that Adams Morgan Mainstreet Group put that much effort into a pet event. I'm sure we'd go back next year-- barring triple-digit weather.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Found: A Pegasus.

In addition to eating treats and stealing the entryway rug, Alice enjoys spending her time looking for mythical creatures.

This past weekend, she found a pegasus.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Alice likes pizza AND would marry one.

Do you recognize this place?

Hmm. How about now?

No? How about if I give you this clue?

Your need for dry skivvs courtesy of the Baltimore Sun.

...And now we're all freaked out.

Yes, the steps from The Exorcist are in Georgetown, tucked away in the corner of a parking lot next to an inconspicuous gas station (which on Saturday made coffee worse than any I’ve ever made—and I’ve won acclaim for my wretched coffee skills).

They’re completely easy to miss, unless a local points them out to you.

And yes, they are referred to as "The Exorcist Steps".

I think a lot of people have a love-hate relationship with them. I had some uppity Georgetown girl roll her eyes at me the first time I was there because I was excited to have made it to the top of them. And I’m sure the gas station guys would prefer that you bought some gas or wretched coffee if you’re going to park in their spots. But they do bring a lot of attention from tourists, many people use them for workouts (there used to be a workout routine—called "The Exorcist Workout"—written near the bottom in marker on one of the steps, where people would write in their best times, but it looks like it was sandblasted away), and I’ve even seen a fundraiser take place there, where people donated a dollar to have a slinky race from the top of the steps.

To continue her trend of having her photo taken in front of landmarks, The Human Male and I brought Alice over there to take pictures Saturday morning.

This picture cracks us up—it looks like she’s guarding the steps!*

Since we were there and Alice is a runner, we decided to have her do her own little Exorcist Workout.

Here she is running up:

And here she is running down:

Let me tell you, it’s incredibly difficult trying to run up a wicked steep staircase with an excited little dog and film it at the same time. Going down was marginally easier.

Alice’s time up and down, by the way, was 61 seconds. And that was dragging me along! We celebrated with treats from Georgetown Cupcakes. This was the first time we've gotten in. Georgetown Cupcakes always has a line, but we got there a few minutes before it opened and only had to wait about five minutes to get in.

The cupcakes lived up to the hype. Alice agreed she thought my coconut one was delicious.

*By the way, I should mention that the guy in the yellow shirt doing The Exorcist Workout was AWESOME. So incredibly friendly, and didn't mind at all that we got in his way.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Studs with Pugs: Well hello, ladies!

Just a little update: A Place to Bark just posted a new blog today-- definitely worth reading.


I’m mixing things up a little this week.

For the past few times, I’ve found that Studs with Pugs has been strangely fortuitous. My friend got offered a job when Ted Danson was featured, The WTTHMG was overthrown when The Human Male was our specimen, and Izzy came home the very next day when my bro Pedro was El Stud (he was also going through finals at the time, and it seems he did really well).

I mentioned to my boss (who received her PhD two weeks ago) the day that Izzy came home that I'd been having some luck with the blog. She started laughing and said, “Boy, I could’ve used you last week when I was defending my dissertation!”

I immediately started trying to put together how I feasibly could’ve made Studs with Pugs for her. Does her husband have any pictures with pugs? Maybe there’s a photo circulating the internet of a hot guy holding a pug standing near our exhibit booth at a public health conference we attended?

Likely not. In the elation of Izzy returning, I forgot about this great burning question until a few days ago.

A couple months back, I learned about a no-kill rescue in Tennessee called A Place to Bark. They work with shelters and animal control offices in Milwaukee, Chicago, and Tennessee to take in dogs that need care, get them healthy, and find them homes (I think they do some internal adoptions, but mostly work with local Humane Societies). It seems like they're not adverse to taking in some really tough cases.

I’ve been following the founder Bernie Berlin’s Twitter feed. For 140 characters, she can fit a lot in. She seems like a neat lady: funny, kind, and so passionate about her work-- and a fellow Midwesterner to boot! It’s almost as if the tough and extraordinary work she’s doing is “just something you do”, if that makes any sense. The vet expenses, the long interstate transport drives, helping animals in bad situations-- it’s just something you do, no questions asked. All in a day’s work. And yet, you can tell that she still has that joy and excitement for her work and the dogs and cats that come in, as well as the sadness when a dog has dealt with too much and passes away. I’m not sure how she’s found that great emotional balance, but she has.

On her blog, she has a ton of beautiful photos of her dogs. Not only is the artistry there, look at the smiles on their faces-- ALL of their faces. Those are some happy canines!

Scrolling farther down, I got to a picture of Ms. Berlin herself. WOW—on top of a good heart, she’s gorgeous! After the girly part of my brain decided that was totally unfair, it hit me: maybe the Studs with Pugs doesn’t necessarily need to be a guy. Maybe we could give it to a lady once in a while. I mean, even GQ puts a woman on their covers upon occasion, right?* Maybe we could have a Babe with Barkers once in a while?

So behold: This week’s Studs with Pugs is Ms. Berlin. And in another twist, it’s a video entry (it happens around 1:30).

Excuse the high pitch with which I write this: LOOK AT THE CUTE PUGGLE PUPPIES! THERE ARE BLACK ONES, TOO! EEEEE!

And in a far more civilized, audible tone: look at how happy PuggleMom is. It's like she knows that her babies are going to be raised in a safe place (on an aside, don't miss out on these pictures, too. Double EEEEE!)

Okay, so maybe you’re saying first a lady, then a video—and you’re making us do the work of clicking on links this week? Cop-out, Human Female! Well, if watching someone get the familiar puggle kiss-attack hasn't melted your heart yet (or haven't realized I'm driving you to their sites), then try this on for size…

A Place to Bark is in the middle of building a shelter, and like many non-profits, they’re hurting for donations right now. Ms. Berlin seems tough and determined that they'll make it through and continue their mission, but obviously, it’s going to be tough.

So I’m going against the Studs with Pugs grain this week, in hopes that it could persuade the Shelter Donation Powers that Be that A Place to Bark could use a hand. Especially now, when there are so many dogs out there who need help-- a safe home, a warm lap, medical care, a bowl of food.

After hearing how wonderful my parents’ neighbors were to take time out of their days to help find Izzy, I can’t keep quiet about someone who’s out there every single day trying to make the world right. As I see it, it’s everyone’s responsibility to do our part—whatever “our part” may be, big or small: a prayer, a dollar, a kind word, or a helping hand—to help fight for the causes we believe in and support the true warriors among us.

* By the way, Mamala—I meant to tell you that GQ sent a back issue to The Human Male: the Jennifer Aniston cover. Fortunately the next issue had a very large watch ad with Daniel Craig in it, which The Human Male kindly gave to me without prompting. So all is well.