Thursday, September 30, 2010

Shana gets her bandana.

It’s been a trying few weeks in DC’s dog community.  There’s a lot of fear over if our dogs are safe in our streets since Parrot’s shooting (and another in-home police shooting of a dog shortly after).  There’s anger over what happened.  There’s cynicism if anything will be done about it.  And of course, there’s sadness over what was done.


A recent posting on Parrot’s memorial blog was from one of his event handlers.  Her tribute to him breaks my heart every time I’ve read it.  This boy beat all the odds: he beat a rough start and a kill shelter.  He was rescued, saved, looking for his home.  He was supposed to be in the clear.  And yet, this happened.  After everything he’d been through, he died at a festival.  Someplace that should’ve been fun and safe.


I’ll admit it, it’s been  easy to feel blue over this.  I’ve gotten weepy a number of times over Parrot.  I’ve actually felt a little guilty for what happened to him—I’m part of the species who gave him a rough start and ended his life.  And I feel guilty and angry that it happened on my home turf.  It’s irrational, but the feeling’s there.  He didn’t deserve what happened to him.  He didn’t get the chance to have a long, happy life that he deserved.


But a few days ago, the endlessly and wonderfully cheery Dawn of Lydia and Pugs retweeted something from the Ellen Show that gave me a good little “Aha!” moment.  Ellen was commenting on a news report of a dog who was dragged behind a truck and was—thankfully—recuperating.  Linking to the report, she wrote “As an animal lover, this story broke my heart. As a human, it makes me want to help. You can help, too.”


My goodness, what a wonderful reminder that we can compartmentalize.  As a dog lover, DC resident, and human, Parrot breaks my heart.  As a dog lover, DC resident, and human, it’s my job to act and support the things that will work to make sure this never happens again, not on our watch.


The letters will continue to be sent to the police (who responded to mine with not the typical form letter that went out) and to the soon-to-be mayor (DC’s current one never responded—and then lost his primary two days after the shooting.  Coincidence?), the donations to preventing animal cruelty and breed discrimination will continue to be made.  And the successes towards making this place world safer and more secure for all dogs will be celebrated.


The first item on that list?  Shana.


Shana’s an American Bulldog (a great breed—our neighbors just got one named Roxy and she’s the keeeeee-youtest character) and the first of “Parrot’s Pals”—dogs who are rescued using funds from the Parrot Fund.  She was rescued in South Carolina just days after Parrot’s death and arrived less than a week later


At events, Lucky Dogs wear green bandanas.  In the early pictures before she arrived, Shana was wearing a red polka-dotted one.  In more recent photos, Shana has a green one.

 [There are more pictures of her on Petfinder.  Please go view her page and share it.]

It’s bittersweet and heartwarming.  That look of hope and happiness in her eyes makes genuinely want her to have the all the toys, treats, beds, love, snuggles, tennis balls thrown, adventures, and years that the world can offer.


So very , very much so.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Happiness is…

A couple of weekends ago, Alice, the Human Male, and I decided to have breakfast at Founders Park in Old Town, one of my very favorite places in the world. 


The thing that I love most about Founders Park is that it’s everyone’s park.  Every person that walks by, every bench they sit on, every spot on the lawn where they throw a blanket, is theirs.  And yours.  I don’t know quite how to express it in words, but if you ever end up there, you’ll understand.  It belongs to everyone.


That feeling isn’t limited to people.  As The Human Male and I sat on our regular bench, we noticed a black lab that was play in the grass behind us.  His owner had let him off his leash (while not fenced in, it’s considered the “dog” part of the park) and he was playing in the sprinklers.  He bounced through them, tried to bite the water stream, and rolled around on the soppy ground.


I can’t think of the last time I saw such pure joy.




Friday, September 24, 2010

Surf's Up!

Free Kibble's linking to this super cute article and videos on a surfing dog competition today.  Worth a read and a watch.  The bottom video has lots of cute surfing pugs, and Abbie's winning move (which is pretty fantastic) starts around minute 9.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Barrel Oak Winery.

The Sunday of Labor Day weekend, Alice, The Human Male, and I went to the Barrel Oak Winery.  It's located in Delaplane, Virginia, about 55 miles outside of DC.  I'd originally heard about BOW a year or so ago from a Kissable Canine newsletter about dog-friendly places around the area.  More recently, I'd heard about rescue fundraising events being held there.  After finding out they were having an island-themed celebration, we decided it was time to check it out.

It was so much fun.  There were dogs everywhere-- in photos in the bathroom, playing all over the lawn, sitting at the tasting bar, even sitting on a stool inside.

Alice wore her finest lei to the party.

We tried some samples of the wine, which were unbelievably fantastic-- I highly recommend the Seyval Blanc and Traminette.  The Human Male and I ordered some wine, sangria, and some snacks, then went and sat on the lawn to admire the view.

All around, Barrel Oak is a wonderful, wonderful place.  It was dog-friendly, kid-friendly, family-friendly, person who could use a glass of wine and escape from life for a couple hours-friendly.  I'm so excited to go back!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Found/Missing/Found/Missing: A Tree!

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree on the blog before.  By our house we have a planter that had a sad looking pine tree in it.  Since the day we moved in two years ago, the tree has been losing more and more needles.  We thought it actually made it through our Snowmageddons, but it quickly went downhill early this spring.  By the beginning of June, there were seriously only about five needles left on it.  The rest were on our patio.

One Work-at-Home Friday in May or June, I heard some people talking in our courtyard.  It was a couple of people from our front office and a guy who seemed to know a lot about landscaping.  They fawned over some trees in other planters, then walked over to ours and said matter-of-factly, "So, this one's dead."

I immediately texted The Human Male to let him know that we were finally getting a new tree.

I took one last picture with Charlie Brown:

While I was in Portland, they removed it:

And then they put in a new one:

After a couple of weeks, we noticed that New Tree wasn't doing so well.  Shortly afterward, we found a very similar yet healthier one in its place.

The tree seems to still be doing okay (although the sprinkler system in the planter went berserk this weekend and now shoots a 10 foot flood of water against our patio door at 3:30 in the morning).  It's losing some leaves, but I don't know if that's a sign of trouble or Autumn.  Fingers crossed this one holds up!

Dogs + IKEA stuff = The Best Song You’ll Hear this Week.

I heard some rumblings this week about the new OK Go video.  OK Go is a band from Chicago (all the best ones are!) that writes ridiculously catchy songs and are known for their wildly creative videos that tend to be done in one take.  I’m way too old to care about music videos, but I still get stupid excited when a new one comes out. 


I thought their last two videos (This Too Shall Pass and End Love) were spectacular and hard to top.  Alas, they managed:


Three and a half minutes of dogs and stuff from IKEA.


There’s so much to love about this.  My favorite parts are the high shelves, the rainbow boards, the red stools, and the high-five dog.  And I’d be remiss if I didn’t say I oogle over those round desk chairs each and every time I go to IKEA.


And did you notice the screen at the end?    Most of the dogs in the video were rescues, and the band is donating a portion of the proceeds from their video downloads to the ASPCA (here’s their posting on the video).  How cool is that?


I’m hoping that they’ll soon expand it out to the song or album.  Like I said, I’m old and don’t have too much use for videos, but I do like a good beat that I can bug out to now and again.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Best Kind of News.

Remember last January when Then Human Male and I met Matt Damon?  The Lost Dog and Cat Rescue announced today that he was adopted this weekend! 


So, so much happiness!  Matt’s such an awesome, charming boy.  I’m so incredibly excited that he’s been adopted.  That is one tremendously lucky family.


Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m the teeeeensiest bit sad.  The Human Male and I had several discussions (or potentially I talked at him and he was in the room) about adopting him.  I really wanted him.  But honestly, Matt wasn’t our dog—his family was out there, and now they’re finally together.


Welcome home, Matt Damon!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pool Party!

Our building’s pool closed for the season yesterday, so for the last few hours, management invited dogs to play in the pool.

Quite a few dogs took them up on their offer.

It was so precious.  Some of the dogs were afraid of the water, including Alice.

Others, like Alice’s friends The Danger Twins (two rambunctious lab mixes), were not so shy to belly-flop right in and swim like it was their job.

Despite her hesitancy, it seemed like Alice wanted to jump in and play.

But she did swim when we pulled her into the pool.

I love how her tail sticks straight up when she swims.

It struck me that she thought of it more as a giant bathtub and less of a rectangular river-- but I do think she enjoyed it.

I know we did.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Found: A Whale!

Another wonderful prize we found in Mystic, Connecticut.  Alice was not so thrilled about this guy.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Found: A Store for Alice!

It was a pleasant surprise to find a Black Dog store in Mystic.  We went to one in Martha's Vineyard on a family vacation twelve years ago, and I loved it.  I'm not a big fan of branded things (a funny attribute of someone who does marketing), but I'm a sucker for Black Dog stuff.  First, it's a dog, and second, it was originally used as a way for Martha's Vineyardites to identify one another when they were on the mainland.  How cool is that?  I just had to have my black dog taken in front of their sign.

What was super cool is that they were completely fine that Alice came in the store-- which meant I bought more.  I bought a couple of wine glasses with black dogs etched on them and a new girly collar for Alice.  I couldn't resist.  Alice's regular collar is extremely special-- it's a skull and crossbones collar that was given to her by my friend Lindy as an adoption gift.  It's pretty beat up now, but to "replace" it, the new one had to be tremendously fabulous.  Alice's new one is made of a preppy pink and green-striped ribbon with little black dogs on it.  The color looks great on her-- we can now see her from outside when she stands in the window.  I also think it's funny that it has black dogs on it, plus we're still keeping with her nautical theme.

Anyone heard of overnight fostering?

I don’t think there’s any secret that I’m feeling the urge to get a second dog.  The Human Male, being an unlikely voice of reason, has made a very valid point that we shouldn’t.  I know he’s right, so I’ve thought about doing volunteering and getting my fill of dogs that way.

Last night I was tooling around some local rescue group websites and found that one does overnight fostering.  Basically, if a transport comes in and the foster can’t keep the dog the first night (out of town, prior commitment, etcetera), you bring him in—basically give him dinner, a bath, and a bed for the night.

This definitely got my feelers up.  I think we could have an extra dog for a night every once in a while, and that short of time wouldn’t be a huge commitment and would alleviate concerns of getting too attached.  We definitely have a ton of questions before we’d consider signing up, and I’m just wondering: has anyone done this or know anyone who has?  I’d never heard of this before and it’s intriguing.  I’m very curious if it’s as good as it sounds and what the potential downsides are.

Technorati Tags:

Found: Mystic Pizza!

On our way home from Providence, I saw signs for Mystic, Connecticut.  Living in New York, I heard a lot about Mystic Seaport-- apparently it's a normal school trip who live in the state.  I'd never been there and was curious about it.  Not only because it's a seaport (I'm a sucker for water and tiny seaside towns), but because of the fabled Mystic Pizza, a la the 80's girly movie.  

I drove the first few hours back and took a detour when we saw the turn-off for Mystic, much to The Human Male's chagrin (though not really a surprise).

In short, Mystic is FREAKING ADORABLE.  In the 20 minutes we were there, it just seemed like the perfect little seaside town.  We got there and my brain immediately started screaming "Don't make me go back to DC!"  I started thinking about how much vacation time I had left and how expensive it would really be to keep our rental car for a few extra days.  We did end up driving back home that day, but I really want to go back.  Now.  

Thursday, September 16, 2010

What I did on my Summer Non-Vacation, Trip #5: Providence, Rhode Island.

After getting home around 8P on Wednesday from Ithaca, we left for another trip on Friday evening.  This time it was to go to my coworker friend Lauren's wedding in Providence, Rhode Island.  I was particularly excited about this one because I'd never been to the state and have heard wonderful, wonderful things about it.  After pricing airline and train tickets to Providence and the cost of boarding Alice, we decided it was most affordable-- and the most fun-- to rent a car and bring Alice along with us.  

I was so burnt out from traveling at this point that I tried my best to ignore that we were on the road, living out of a suitcase, and sleeping in another hotel (I'd been to three that week alone).  But the trip through Connecticut and Rhode Island, along the coast of the Atlantic, was so pleasant.  And Providence was FANTASTIC.  We stayed at the La Quinta in Warwick, which I'd recommend to anyone traveling in that neck of the woods-- they were wonderful and more than accommodating to Alice.  Our little dog quickly made herself at home.

We were extremely lucky that the night we were there that WaterFire was happening after the wedding.  WaterFire is a summer art installation in which they place bonfires in metal baskets in the rivers that run through Providence.  It was so cool, and Alice loved it.

Our stay wasn't long, but it was great and I can't wait to get back and spend more time in Providence.  And Alice is looking forward to it, too!

What I did on my Summer Non-Vacation, Trip #4: Ithaca, New York.

For my fourth trip, I went to a conference in Ithaca, New York.  I was pretty burnt out from traveling at this point, and I had to drive up there (a 7 hour trip up, 8.5 hour trip back).  So I won't get into details on the trip.  Overall, though, Ithaca was great, the drive through Pennsylvania was GORGEOUS, Cornell's a beautiful campus, and I found a spectacular local wine from Six Mile Creek Vineyard (the Seyval Blanc).

I saw this cool piece of a railroad car right along the border in Pennsylvania.  I can't for the life of me remember what it represented.

One interesting thing that I will mention is right outside of Harrisburg, PA, there's a replica of the Statue of Liberty in the Dauphin Narrows section of the Susquehanna River.  It was completely unexpected and supremely cool.  I guess she's 25 feet tall and made of wood, metal, and fiberglass, and built by local Harrisburg residents to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty.  I wasn't able to stop and take a picture of it, but if you're heading in that direction, keep your eye out for her. 

I was so, so happy to get back home to Alice.  There's nothing like coming home to a dog.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Run, Alice, Run!

On June 19th (not long after I wrote this post), Alice did something she's never done before: she ran in a real 5K!

The Red Cross of the National Capital Region had a 5 and 10K fundraiser, and the 5K (3.1 miles) allowed dogs.  I love the Red Cross-- they helped out a friend after she had a house fire a few years ago, and a good friend of mine used to work there.  When we heard about the dog-friendly race, the Human Male and I jumped on it.

Here's Alice picking up her number at the Alexandria Red Cross Chapter:

And here are some action shots.  I'd like to say that they're blurry not because I was jiggling the camera, but because we were going sooooo faaaaaassst.  Really, I swear! 

Each race I try to find someone that I'll finish before/close to/not far after.  This was Alice's-- the teeniest, tiniest chihuahua ever.  He was seriously four inches tall.

Halfway point!

And here she is crossing the finish line!

I was so proud of her.  Her official time was 39:34-- awesome for a little 22lb dog, especially on a very hot morning!  The wonderful crowd cheered whenever a dog crossed.  It was so sweet.

After the race, Alice was barely winded.

I'm so proud of my little runner!

Found: The Best Tea Shop Ever.

While we were in New York for my friend Karla's wedding, we made a stop before we went home at a place called Alice's Tea Cup.  I'd read about it maybe a year or so ago and have been itching to get there.  Since I was going through Alice withdrawal, I thought it'd be as appropriate a time as any to go.

It was a bit different than I anticipated.  We went to the one on West 73rd (Chapter 1) and it was definitely well-loved.  It's fancy enough that you feel like you're somewhere doing something special, but it's in a state that's great for kids to spend time without worrying that they'll ruin the seats.  Looking at the pictures of the two other locations, I think those might be fancier.  One thing that I was a bit disappointed with was that I thought you could borrow fairy wings while you were there, but alas, you had to buy them.

That being said, Chapter 1 was whimsical and charming.  It was in a little brownstone storefront, with keyhole-shaped door windows in the back and absolutely adorable tables made of old sewing machine stands.  More importantly, the tea was spectacular.  We ordered a pot of Alice's Tea, their signature tea made of green and black tea, vanilla, and roses.  Ohhhhhhhh, it's HEAVENLY!  We brought some home and have made many, many pots of hot and iced tea with it.  I'm so in love.  I can't wait to get to New York again and pick up a boatload of it.

If you find yourself in New York and would like a special cup of tea, I definitely recommend stopping in.  Just BYO Fairy Wings.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What I did on my Summer Non-Vacation, Trip #3: Long Island, New York.

I got back from Portland around midnight Thursday morning, and by 5A Saturday, we were on our way on another trip.  This time we were heading to Long Island for my friend Karla's wedding.

I love going to New York.  Anywhere on to the Eastern side of the state feels like going home.  Getting to see college friends made it that much better.

This trip was different than any other one we've taken: it was the first one that we've gone on without Alice.  We debated for a few weeks how we were going to handle it.  At first, we thought about taking her over to Fur-Get Me Not, one of our neighborhood boarders/dog schools (it's where Alice went to school).  They do an open-cage kennel, and I even took her to "audition"-- they have dogs spend about 15-20 minutes in their kennel to see how they react to the other dogs in their daycare.  Alice passed with flying colors.  Well, she actually just stood there, watching the other dogs play.  She didn't move the entire time-- which gave their staff a pretty good laugh.

When we started thinking about when we'd leave and when we'd get back in accordance to their office hours, we realized that our one-night trip would result in Alice being boarded three nights.  That was way too long to be sans puggle.  So we opted instead for Fur-Get Me Not's in-home pet sitting.

In short, it was fabulous, fabulous, fabulous.  Our sitter's name was Jennifer, and I absolutely love her.  More importantly, Alice loved her.  Jennifer called when she got there, sent me text messages throughout the night and next morning to let me know how she was doing, and wrote up a little report card when she left.  One message Jennifer sent was that she and Alice had been playing and she was giving lots of kisses.  Alice doesn't kiss just anyone-- her list is pretty short (only about four people).  So I figured if Alice was kissing her, things were going well.

I had a feeling that I was more upset about leaving Alice than Alice would've been about us leaving, but I didn't know just how true it was until we got home.  We got back home and let Alice out of her cage... and she walked out.  

Alice doesn't walk.  Alice tears out, runs in circles, jumps up and launches herself off our stomachs, runs away to find a toy, and does more laps around the house at hyper speed, chirping the whole way.  We can be gone all day or gone for 30 seconds taking out the garbage, it's all the same.  But no.  Alice walked out of her cage and said "Oh hey, hoomies.  Nice to see you again.  Can I have a treat?"  That was it.  Meanwhile, I was running in circles, happy to see our little dog again.  Go figure.

I love traveling with Alice and will continue to do it more often than not, but it's so great to know that we have options that not only make us comfortable leaving her, but also with whom Alice can thrive.

The Granny Panties.

I'll preface this one by saying it was late, I was packing for my third trip in roughly two weeks, and we were about to leave Alice alone for the first time.  I was wicked punchy.

Alice has this thing about laundry.  If we're folding it, she feels the compulsion to step/lay/unfold it.  It's not even like she's trying to be bad, but rather an inherent puggle trait, passed down through the generations.  She does it as if it's essential to her very survival.

Alice is particularly drawn to unfolding underpants.  She's attracted to skivvs like a magnet.  She doesn't run off with them, she just walks blindly over them so many times that whatever stack you made is destroyed like Godzilla trounces buildings.  

While I was packing late the night before for Summer Trip #3, I started getting a little punchy with her laundry walkabout.  So I put the skivvs I wear to go running on her.

I'll be the first to admit that these bad boys are not attractive.  But they stay in place and they don't get hot.  And they fit a puggle like a dream.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Parrot Fund

This afternoon, Lucky Dog Rescue announced that they’ve started a fund in memory of Parrot, the shar-pei/pit bull mix that was shot and killed by a DC police officer yesterday.  An early posting said that the fund would go to rescuing more pit mixes and educating the community on the breed; currently it’s saying that it’ll go to giving more dogs safe homes in his honor.  Both are great reasons, and I will be donating.

After seeing more pictures of him and hearing him called a shar-pei mix, we realized that we didn’t just know him from the website, but we actually saw him at the Wags ‘N’ Whiskers festival two weeks ago.  Parrot was a very neat looking dog, and there were a number of other dogs around him—no inkling an incident could occur.  Parrot didn’t deserve this.

If there’s any good to come out of this, it’s that there are a ton of witnesses coming forward and very angry animal lovers that are taking action (including Philip Bump, a pit bull owner who kindly posted contact resources).  Letters have been sent to DC’s Mayor Fenty and police chief Cathy Lanier (who owns five rescue dogs herself)—including my own.  Lucky Dog knows that they and Parrot are loved and supported (they’ve also issued a statement/update on the situation and police report—I’d recommend reading it only if you’re either an emotionless robot or don’t care if you cry.  It’s distressing).  Hopefully Parrot's foster pop knows that many people have his back, too.  A blog was started for Parrot.  National news sources are picking up on his story.  And DCist, my favorite local blog, did what they do best in sad situations and posted a gorgeous picture of a dog named Oz to cheer everyone up.

The Washington Post had a wonderful picture of Parrot today that I wanted to share.  It's a priceless example of a dog and his boy.

[Source, courtesy of Aaron Block]

We cannot let this happen again.

Technorati Tags:

What I did on my Summer Non-Vacation, Trip #2: Portland, Oregon.

For just about forever, I've wanted to go to Portland, Oregon.  I've heard such fantastic things about it-- that it was fun, funky, and full of wonderful people.  In more recent years, I've heard the food is to die for.  

I can 100% attest that the rumors are not only true, but greatly understated.

Last year I went to a conference in Buffalo for work.  The trip was less than stellar.  One night to get dinner at a restaurant literally one block away, I was propositioned five times (once by two undercover cops), saw an on-duty hooker, and watched a drug deal go down.  When you're used to being able to run around your metro area with no one even acknowledging your existence (to a fault, even-- can I tell you how many times people walk into me on a daily basis?), it's pretty uncomfortable.  When I heard the conference would be in Portland this year, I put on a pretty big campaign to go.  And fortunately, it worked out.  

This is the farthest I'd ever been from Alice and The Human Male.  I was fine with it until my second flight took off from Midway Airport in Chicago.  I came very close to crying and felt so trapped on the plane, like I was running in the wrong direction and couldn't stop.  While I live far from them, my immediate family and closest friends are all in the same time zone.  I just felt like I was getting so incredibly and needlessly far from all of them.  I had to reassure myself that it was not forever, just for a few days (and admit I will likely never be a West Coaster).

Portland has a lot to offer, so I was able to distract myself by sightseeing, eating (if you ever go, DEFINITELY hit Mama Mia's Trattoria, Eleni's Philoxenia, and Oba.  I had the best meal of my life at Oba.  Honestly, had I died on my way home, I would've been fine with it), and taking pictures of my "Flat Alice" at Portland locales.

First, here she is at Dulles Airport:

And in Portland:

This is in front of the cool Made in Oregon sign:

I can't remember the name of this fountain, but it's along the waterfront:

At Frontier Plaza:

Portland has a great light-rail system:

There are A TON of food carts in Portland.  I liked the name on this one:

And this place's name made my inner English Literature major crack up:

There's street art EVERYWHERE in Portland.  I liked these fountains in particular:

No visit to Portland is complete until you visit Voodoo Doughnut.  I don't even like doughnuts and I waited in line for about 20 minutes.

I loved the name of this restaurant at PDX:

And for all my Chicago friends, this Bud (at Midway)'s for you:

I got home a few days later and was so happy to see Alice and The Human Male.  Growing up I always wanted to travel a lot, but Dorothy had it right: there's really no place like home.