Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Puppy.

Friday Puppy is the highly kooky and thoroughly enjoyable blog of Matt Baumgartner, the guy who owns Bombers, my favorite place to eat in Albany, New York (and the location of many of the happiest moments of my life). I wrote about Bombers a few months ago when I did my first trip sans Alice-- and probably a few other times, too. Nearly three years out of Albany, and I still have burrito and margarita cravings regularly.

Anyway, Matt and his blog team cover a gamut of topics, from
how to get out of speeding tickets in Smallbany, people who love Subarus, to why you should always check the closets when you close up shop for the night (he also wrote a nice tribute to a soldier friend of his that recently passed away that's far less crazy than the regular posts).

While the closet story may be one of my favorite Capital Region stories of all time (lots of weird things happen up there), one of the best features is that on Friday, he posts pictures of dogs on his website-- for no real reason other than to have a whole bunch of cuteness to start your weekend. It is a contest for votes (the winner gets a Friday Puppy t-shirt), but it's just fun to see the cute dogs. Hence the blog's name, Friday Puppy.

Last week I sent Alice's picture in to participate. And guess what? She's in the contest this week!

If you don't mind having your dog's picture posted on a crazy website, I'd say shoot some photos of yours on over, too. The address is fridaypuppy |at| gmail dot com. Wouldn't it be fun to load it up with pugs/puggles/chihuahuas/friends of puggles? We could all be the proud owners of Friday Puppies!

Thursday, January 28, 2010


A couple of days ago I was reading my Twitter feed and came across this message:

Someone I follow had re-tweeted it with the lead-in "Yay!"

I love looking at random pictures of dogs—there’s just something so fun about seeing a fuzzy creature just hanging out and being a dog that’s so sweet and fun. I love their funny spots and coloring, their disproportional noses, the way their ears and heads cock, their silly stances, that look of being carefree in their eyes. I don’t care if the person’s a stranger and we’ll never meet, I just like seeing dogs getting to be dogs. So I clicked on the link and saw Mama K.

Her picture is just too cute. She’s just standing there, hanging out, head tilted inquisitively, but not a care in the world. But I had to go back to the message: she had been poisoned? Someone tried to harm her in a really brutal, ugly way? Wow.

I don’t know why, but I just felt like celebrating her adoption. A dog I never knew existed until 30 seconds beforehand, and her finding her family made me weepy. It was just like, okay, everything bad that happened in your past is now over and done, and you’re going to have a nice life from here on out. That’s just really neat. Yay! indeed.

It made me realize that each time someone writes that an animal found its new family, its way home, or its way out of a bad situation, it really is cause for celebration—whether you’ll ever cross paths with that animal or not. And fortunately, there are a lot of people out there making it happen for them—by adopting, fostering, donating, posting and reposting, volunteering, or just generally supporting. It takes so very little effort to be kind, but it makes such a big impact.

May you find many reasons to celebrate today.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Stop the terrierorists, get treats.

A surrogate member of our family is Jack Bauer. Everyone in my family watches 24, and you don't mess around with anyone while it's on. Certain members of our family have even been known to hang the phone up on other ones who called when the show was on. It's just how things are.

Mamala sent me a great link this morning: scenes from this season acted out by Chloe and the Assistant Director's dogs.

I'd still watch the show if they were played by dogs. In fact, I think if they went back and re-shot Season 6 using Emmy and Bauer*, I'd probably even watch that.

*Isn't Bauer an awesome dog name?!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fine. Force me to buy chocolate.

I read a great article yesterday on I Love Dogs about Rescue Chocolate, a new chocolate company out of Brooklyn whose net profits benefit animal shelter and rescue groups. The chocolate’s kosher, vegan, and they have eco-friendly packaging—so you’re not getting anything too creepy or weird in a bunch of trash that’ll last for centuries. And each of the four flavors highlights a different cause: pit bull awareness, adopting from shelters, spaying and neutering, and fostering.

I don’t even know where to start with this one. Thanks to The Curious Grape, I’ve discovered that the good, fancy stuff really does taste better (The Human Male refers to this as “Chocolate Snobbery”). So I like this dark chocolate Belgian business. And knowing that the profits go to shelter programs absolutely warms my heart. And even better, this month’s profits are going to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) to help organize animal rescue efforts in Haiti.

I think this calls for a blog taste-test.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go place my order, and then put on some elastic-waisted fat pants.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

It's not you, Alice. It's me.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Alice isn’t the easiest dog to sleep with. Since then, I’ve had several more unrestful nights of sleep, and basically put the blame on her bouncing around (and, of course, Paranormal Activity).

It’s been atypically chilly in our neck of the woods lately, so I’ve been wearing heavy flannel pajamas to bed. We’ve also got four layers of blankets on the bed. And a hot puggle. I’d wake up warm and toasty (and, occasionally, pretty sweaty-- but in a dainty, ladylike way), but I didn’t think much of it. Then after waking up waaaaaay too early this weekend and being unable to fall back asleep, I decided that maybe I was under too many layers, and went back to my August-in-DC pjs.

And you know what? I slept like a freaking log. And so did Alice! When I’d wake up, she was in almost the same position.

Automatically, my first thought was “I’m cooler, and Alice isn’t bouncing around as much”—i.e., two distinct occurrences. Then it occurred to me this morning: maybe Alice’s bounciness isn’t totally because of her puggle nature. Maybe I was making her too hot, so she’s been moving around to get away from me. Or maybe because I was hot, I was squirming around more—making her move around, too.

Oh, my dear, sweet Alice.
I am so sorry. I’m pretty sure it’s me, not you. Let me give you tons of treats as I reassess all other little occurrences I’ve pinned on you…

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Stray Cat Cafe.

This past Saturday, The Human Male and I went to a fundraiser for The Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation at the Stray Cat Café. I’ve mentioned/swooned over The Lost Dog Café in the past, and the Stray Cat is similar—owned by the same folks that own Lost Dog, and actually just a few doors down from the original Lost Dog Deli (we recently found out the one that we’ve been getting take-out from is relatively brand-new). And though slightly smaller and renamed to suit cat lovers, much of the menu is the same—and equally as delicious.

The best part of the Stray Cat is its décor. One one side of the long, narrow restaurant are great cat paintings. The other wall is lined with pictures of the cats that have been adopted from the rescue. All are in black frames in a couple of different sizes, lined up right next to one another. It looks really cool, and it’s so neat to see all of those sweet faces and know they found loving homes.

When we got to the restaurant, we were greeted by Matt Damon. No, really! Here’s his picture. Matt Damon is a true charmer. He looked at me with his big head and I had to pet him. And then he rolled over and had to pet him more. I told him he was more handsome than the original Matt Damon, and one of his people said “He IS the original Matt Damon!” Duly noted.

They had some neat raffle prizes and great silent auction items. The coolest was to bid on having your dog painted on the wall of the Lost Dog Café. The Deli was recently renovated, and they have these terrific paintings all over their walls of dogs doing different things, like flying planes. The Human Male and I had to bid on that. I have a strict one-bid rule with silent auctions, and we were outbid by A LOT. As we were leaving, one woman was at the table making her bid and jokingly said “I’m ready to put down my life savings to get my dog on the wall.” As cool as it’d be to have Alice on the wall, I’m just not as dedicated—I’d like to have enough money so that I can actually eat at the Lost Dog. At least we helped drive the price up!

All in all, it was a really nice, low-key, super tasty night. And from what it sounds like, The Lost Dog and Cat Rescue raised just over $2,100. Nice! Just think about how many more cats they could put on their walls with that…

Friday, January 15, 2010

Bob, tell them what they've won!

The Human Male showed me a funny post yesterday from Atlantic blogger Andrew Sullivan. I’ve mentioned him before—he had that wonderful post a few months ago regarding old beagles. Andrew’s a beagle man, and they recently did the doggie DNA test on their rescued beagle-basset hound mix Eddy for fun.

It ends up that “mix” bit doesn’t contain any beagle. At all.

Eddy is a basset hound, bloodhound, and chinook mix. I’ve never even heard of a chinook—but after seeing a picture, you can see the chinook in her.

This article cracked me up—especially the part about them being a bit shocked and needing time to grasp it, as well as the apology for “leading people on for several years” that he owned a beagle. I welled up a bit, I was laughing so hard. Of course, readers started sending him pictures of and comments about their chinooks—they really do exist! Maybe he opened up his dog-loving fan base a little.

I’m fascinated by the doggie DNA tests, and I’d love to get Alice done. I’m pretty sure she’s a puggle, but you never know—she may be part chinook, too (a chinuggle?). At the same time, The Human Male said he was considering getting the test done as one of my Christmas presents this year, and I tweaked a little. I’d love to know for sure, but at the same time… I don’t want to know.

Obviously nothing would change, Alice would still be the same old Alice, but have you ever learned something that was totally different than what you’d been thinking for years and it rocks your world a little? For example, a few years ago I had an ultrasound done and was shocked to learn that I have a completely harmless congenital malformation called a horseshoe kidney. Obviously I've been walking around my whole life (and then some) with kidneys that look different than what they teach you in school, but can I tell you how betrayed I felt? It was like my body’d been lying to me literally forever! I was quite upset for several weeks. And when I thought of getting Alice tested came up, I had that feeling again-- like, would life be improved or worsened by knowing what breeds Alice really is?

I don’t know which way I’ll go eventually, but I know this for sure: I do love my dog, be her a puggle or a chinuggle.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How much is too much?

Ten days ago in Albany, NY, a deaf dog named Luna escaped from a vet’s office while she was being boarded in the middle of the night. She was videotaped getting out of her cage, making it through several more doors, and pressed the handle on the main door to escape. You can’t make this kind of stuff up.

The owners sent out an e-mail to local media, bloggers covered it, it was tweeted/retweeted/facebooked around, and the news channels and newspapers picked it up. People (including Luna’s owners) left messages and updates in the comment sections of blogs. It got so much press that this past Saturday, 75 people showed up at one place to look at her. 7-5. Who knows how many looked on their own schedule. Other people in the area left out food and water, just in case she happened by.

The best part of the story is that Luna is now safe at home. On Monday, she showed up on the doorstep of someone cooking bacon (again, you can’t make this stuff up) a couple of miles away. They recognized Luna from an article in the Sunday paper.

Yesterday afternoon, Luna’s owners had a press conference to show her off, thank the community for helping, and announce that the couple who found her (who chose to remain anonymous) wouldn’t accept the reward, but asked that it be donated to the ASPCA and local humane society.

Awesome, awesome, AWESOME story. And it truly shows what can happen when 1. People make the effort to help; and 2. The power that the media has to get the word out and engage people to make a difference in their community.

Of course, now there’s a huge debate going on regarding if it was TOO MUCH coverage—if it was too much for one lost dog, if the topic wasn’t interesting enough to warrant so much attention, if it was a person, it wouldn’t have gotten this kind of play.

I’m curious to hear your takes on this. What do you feel is too much coverage on a lost pet story (or a good story in general)?

From my perspective (one whose family has lost a dog and knows it takes a lot of people to bring her back) sure, it was a lot of coverage, but it got the result it needed. And honestly, I’d rather hear about the search for a lost dog than one more stupid story about the State Dinner Crashers (because crashing fancy parties is a sport in DC—it’s nothing new and everyone knows that. Heck, I crashed a Congressional party here even before my furniture arrived from New York. If you don’t want crashers, up your security) or Tiger Woods’ dirty mistresses.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Does this make me a bad pet owner?

I am not, by any means, a good sleeper.

I used to be worse and would barely sleep, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that there are times when there’s no point in being awake. Still, I’m a light sleeper and will wake up for anything—a car driving by, someone walking past our apartment, a shuttle launch down in Cape Canaveral. Throw in a kicky, restless puggle that can’t decide if she’d rather be under the covers or under some of the covers or on top of the covers or on top of the humans or under the humans or in-between the humans or sharing the human’s pillows or oh is it snack time already?... Suffice it to say, I wake up a lot at night.

Sometimes I wake up and I’m fine. Stumble to the bathroom and I’m out again in a couple of seconds. Sometimes I awake and worry about people I love dying. Sometimes I get angry that I have to get up in an hour. Sometimes I wonder why I wake up at the exact same time repeatedly (it was 3:30A on the nose, but it's recently shifted to 4:28), and then start thinking about Stephen King’s Insomnia and if I’ll be seeing the little white alien doctors anytime soon, and if I'll eventually progress to not being able to sleep at all. Other times I worry about my apartment being infested by gremlins or how unsafe it would be in a zombie attack, and wonder why I ever moved into it in the first place when I knew it was unfit from the get-go.

Monday night I had a new one. Last week The Human Male and I rented Paranormal Activity. This was my decision—I heard it was scary, and despite my late-night concerns, I like scary things. The premise of the movie is simple: a guy and a girl have had an increase of weird occurrences in their house, so they decide to record it. You find out pretty early on that it’s a demon that’s been following the girl around her whole life and harassing her. So while it was scary, I wasn’t too concerned—I’m positive there hasn’t been a demon following me around for the past few decades (nor The Human Male).

Alas, 4:15 rolled around, and I awoke with a start. I don’t know why, and I never found out why. But I did have a suspicion: I’d suddenly contracted a demon.

And not just any demon: one that was dead set on reaching under the blankets to grab my feet. And I was terrified—not that it’d pull me away and bite me like in the movie, but that it would actually reach under my blankets to touch my feet. The horror!

I started getting flashes from the movie of the scariest scenes, and I just knew—KNEW—that I was a goner. My feet were going to be touched by a demon and I would have to die while The Human Male and Alice slumbered comfortably next to me. While growing more and more upset about my imminent demise and angry that The Human Male and Alice didn’t have to deal with this, it did cross my mind that Alice—who will wake from a dead sleep to bark at a leaf falling off a tree or dust settling on a counter in the middle of the night—might make a little noise if a demon sauntered into the bedroom. But what if the demon put some kind of spell on her and she didn’t?

With my tossing and turning, Alice woke up and decided it was time to move, lick my face, and play with toys. That’s when I got my brilliant idea. I picked up Alice, threw her under the blankets, and tucked my feet under her.

I think in my panic I’d thought that it’d be like a little alarm system: the demon would lift up the blankets to touch my feet, and the puggle would awaken and arise, barking the demon out of the apartment. My feet would stay safe (and subsequently quite cozy and warm under 21 pounds of puggle).

When I got up on Tuesday, however, I realized what I’d done: I was willing to sell out my dog so that a demon wouldn’t touch my feet.

My question to you is, what makes someone a good, responsible pet owner? Is it that you’re willing to take care of and protect your dog in real situations, or do you automatically get labeled as a bad one if you’d be willing to bid your dog arrivederci, sucka in outlandish ones?