Monday, December 28, 2009

Animal Nerds Click

I am a self-professed animal nerd. Pick a species any species and I can usually find something I love about it. I guess that's why I love going to the zoo or aquarium (those that are accredited and focus on conservation, mind you). I have a habit of staying at one exhibit for hours, just watching, without thinking twice about it. So when Kev and I spent Christmas week 2009 at Disney World, it wasn't a shock to anyone who knew me that we spent 2 of our 6 days at the Animal Kingdom - and it wasn't because of that awesome Everest roller coaster they have there.

One of those mornings we took Disney's "backstage safari," which allowed us access to the animal habitats, zoo keepers, researchers, vets, nutritionists and other non-public areas that most visitors never get to see. They only allow 12 guests per day on the tour and it does cost extra, but it is totally worth it for animal nerds like myself.

Now the folks at Disney tell you up front that you probably won't see many animals on the backstage tour, because they prefer their animals to be "on stage" where the guests can see them and not behind the scenes. But the morning of our tour was very cold for Florida - 42 degrees - and the trainers and zoo keepers kept many of the animals behind to do some exercises since most weren't in any hurry to get out of bed that day anyway. Jackpot!

We spent time at the white rhino barn and spoke with the head trainer and keeper. She introduced us to Samson (Sammy for short), a 40 year old white rhino who is her favorite due to his playful nature even at his ripe old age (you can see him on the right getting in the way of our safari vehicle "on stage" later on that day). After answering about 100 questions from our tour group - which consisted of a handful of other animal dorks like myself, a vet tech, a researcher from Costa Rica, and a vet from Mexico - Sammy's trainer showed us how and why they train these huge animals.

You may be thinking Sammy was going to get his giant rhino hiney on a pedestal and spin around or something spectacular, but you'd be thinking wrong. All of the animal trainers/keepers are required to work daily with every animal to teach them to help assist with their own vet care. And how do they do that - clicker training!

They teach the animals how to tolerate sticks from needles by poking them with a paper clip. All are trained to open their mouths on cue so that their teeth can be cleaned and inspected without it being a big deal. The lesser primates are taught to present their arms to receive shots, while the larger gorillas understand language better and understand the word "yes," which also helps to improve their vocabulary. The large animals, elephants included, are taught how to walk onto the scale and wait until they are released. The big cats are taught to tolerate their tails being handled, which I can only imagine is a bit challenging if my "little" cat is anything like a lion. All animals, great and small, are placed in the situations for blood draws or possible moving on a regular basis to desensitize them.

I watched Sammy show us how he could open his mouth on cue and expect a treat (hay) for his good work. Sammy showed us how he could touch a pool buoy when asked, something that helps when moving the animals, as keepers/trainers are not allowed inside the barriers with any of their animals for safety reasons. With the rhinos, elephants and giraffes they have found that whistles work better than clicks. They think it is the pitch of the sound that they respond to vs the dull click.

At Rafiki's Conservation Station, I watched as a trainer for the domesticated hoofed stock showed kids how they could teach a sheep to recycle. It was a cute trick where the sheep put a water bottle into the bin, but of course it was done with a clicker. I pulled the trainer aside once he was done with his demo and he told me that the bottle is something the sheep are naturally interested in due to the sound it makes. All of their domesticated hoofed stock - goats, sheep, donkeys and llamas that are in the petting area are all clicker trained. He said that the goats are the smartest and catch on so quickly that they can't use them for the demos because they usually learn something on the first or second try.

So for all of you out there (me included sometimes) who get totally frustrated with your greyhound not being willing to do something, think about Sammy the rhino. If all 3800 lbs of him can figure out how to open his mouth on cue for a bite of hay and a whistle, I think my 54 lb greyhound can figure out how to sit, pick up something, or even open her mouth on cue for her teeth to be brushed. Maybe Seka should have been on that backstage tour to get a lesson from Sammy.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

She's Crafty

My whole family is crafty. My father could build anything out of wood. My mother can create amazing dolls out of a few rags. My sister can bake and decorate a cake like no body's business. Me, well, I like to knit and most recently I like to sculpt beads out of polymer clay. My crafting time is relaxing to me. I get that creative itch and I have to scratch it.

Maybe that's what Seka has had the last five months while she has been hurting and recovering - a crafty itch. However, hers is the sneaky type. I present to you her latest crafty hobby: hole digging.

Now I would have blamed this behavior on Roxy if I didn't catch Seka in the act yesterday, and I guess I'm still not sure who actually started the hole since I did watch them both take turns making the dirt fly. I almost felt bad for correcting them because they looked like they were having so much fun, but our backyard is not the beach.

Roxy could care less that I covered up the hole, but this afternoon, I caught Seka outside getting the hole back to where they left off yesterday. Needless to say, she is very proud of her dig site - even if it really isn't that big. I can only wonder what she might be after. Roxy did bring me a dead mole one afternoon about three weeks ago. Maybe Seka is trying to match her hunting efforts by digging one up herself? I can only imagine what my silly girl has dreamed up while she was on her rehabbing on the sofa.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Getting Your Groove Back

Yep. I checked out for awhile. Totally and completely checked out without any warning to my readers. For that, I apologize. I guess I was just sad and just didn't have it in me to write and despite what my husband will tell you - I really don't like to whine.

It wasn't that we didn't do cool stuff in September and October. Quite the contrary. We took the girls for a spontaneous trip to LSU to meet Mike the Tiger, check out Kev's old stompin' grounds and attend the LSU/Vandy game. It started the month of September (aka road trip month) off with a bang.

We attended our first Beach Bound Hounds at Myrtle Beach, SC., and had a total blast playing in the sand, meeting new friends, and drinking, er, hanging out with old ones.

Then we were off to Boone, NC., to see the Mountaineers stomp Ga Southern Eagles.

And through all of this the girls were perfect travelers. Roxy only got car sick once. After all that driving, I would consider this a huge success.

What I didn't realize was lurking was the pain that the GBD was in. Seka put on a brave face through all of our ramblings. Let me put her walking boots on and never turned down the opportunity to go on a car ride, but once we got home and settled down, she went from bad to worse and couldn't/wouldn't walk at all on her 3-toed foot.

Now this wasn't all that strange, as we have had our battles with corns on that foot which caused lameness every now and then, but what worried me was that she lost all interest in being a part of the family. She didn't want to come downstairs. She only wanted to potty in the morning and at night (2 times a day). She didn't want to go for a walk and even turned down car rides. She wasn't my girl.

Off to Auburn we go, after receiving the report from Dr. Hottie that there wasn't anything else he could do for her. X-rays showed nothing. No fever. Corns didn't seem to bother her. They were out of ideas. I cried. I'll admit it.

After a 45 minute exam with Dr. Gillette, he determined that Seka has sesmoiditis in both of the outside toes of her 3 toed foot. This is why, despite her therapaws, pain pills, corn surgery, padding, and treat bribery, she would not use her foot as this injury is very painful, even at rest. So after a steroid shot in both joints, we soak the offending foot 2 x a day in epsom salt, apply heat wraps 2 x a day, and crate rest for the next 14 days. After this time, I scraped the little hard spot from her corn off and the most disgusting puss poured out of the opening. I don't know where this was living, but once it was out of her foot, she has been using it ever since.

Now Seka's got her groove back. And so do I. She's back to playing in the house - something she hasn't done since June! She and Roxy are now running and playing in the backyard - something they have NEVER done. Their games of tag are something I will never get tired of watching. We're taking walks again - still in our therapaws, but she's along for the ride and no longer crying at the door when left behind.

The funny part is that Seka seems to have a new attitude toward life in general. She's spunky, something that she wasn't like before. She's underfoot in the house, curious and more playful than ever before.

Seka's got her groove back - and thanks to her, so do I.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Kindred Spirits

People think I'm crazy when I tell them I have lots of "blogger friends." But it's true. And the great part about it is I've actually met a lot of them in person at various greyhound events. We all share a special bond that walk on four feet and are covered with fur.

So when something tragic happens to one of my friends that is oh so far away from me, it impacts me as well, even if I've never met their silly, wild, funny, muddy, pup. I've loved them vicariously through the musings of their person's blog.

Today, one of my favorite blog friends, Katy, lost her sweet Tamale very suddenly to a stroke. Many of us miss Katy's blog (I Hate Toast) and look forward to her witty comments on our own entries. Katy is one of the most fabulous people I have ever met. And that could be an understatement. So without ever meeting them in person, I know that her hounds are as fabulous. Isn't it said somewhere you are like your dog in some way?

So today all of us who may never have had the joy of actually rubbing Tamale's ears, or bathing all of that mud that she loved to roll in, are mourning right along side Katy. That's what makes blogging so special. It makes the world a bit smaller. It creates kindred spirits across the seas. It ties us to one another in ways we never imagined 20 years ago. It allows us to share our grief and offer support in small ways all over the globe.

Godspeed Tamale.

We love you Katy.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Greyhounds in Literature

I had a great professor in college who was from Uganda. His favorite quote was "readers are leaders." I tend to agree with him, but the problem with this theory is it doesn't define exactly what it is these folks are reading. In retrospect, I guess what ever you read is what you lead. Kind of like you are what you eat for your brain.

I'm not sure what it says about me that I like great fiction. Not chick fiction. But really good, NYT best seller fiction. I had been putting off reading The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger, for a long time for one reason or another. I always like to read the book before seeing a movie if I can, so I powered through it under the covers a few weeks ago before watching Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana make it come to life on the big screen.

It was around 1:30a when I came across this greyhound reference on page 163 of the paperback edition of Ms. Niffenegger's modern masterpiece:

"I've noticed that Henry needs an incredible amount of physical activity all the time in order to be happy. It's like hanging out with a greyhound."

Now, all of us who own a greyhound know that this is totally incorrect. It was shocking to see such a thoroughly researched piece let such a detail get through the cracks and it has stuck with me for weeks. It may not make that big of deal in the grand scheme of things, but obviously greyhounds have this misconception of needing way more exercise than the average dog - which we all know is pretty much the opposite - and it makes our job as advocates and adoption agencies even harder. So I just need to get this off my chest:

Ms. Niffenegger, I wish you would have taken a few more minutes doing research to find out more about greyhounds before crafting this simile. You would have found out that this breed could be considered one of the laziest among all dog breeds and enjoys its down time more than anything else in the world. And while I understand why you were drawing this reference because of what they are known best for (grace, agility and speed) it is simply incorrect and creates a false notion about a breed that is already difficult to adopt into homes across the country.

Ok. Now I feel better. I can let it go. The book is fabulous. Read it and skip page 163.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Simple Gifts

When I was little I vaguely remember my father telling me a story about someone in his family (it could have been him) rescuing nine baby opossums after the mother had been hit by a car. They raised the babies by hand and released them when they were old enough to fend for themselves - or became too gross to look at I guess. I immediately thought about this story at 5:45a this morning when my dear girls brought me a gift after finishing their breakfast.

My feeding process is pretty simple:

* Send the dogs downstairs to wait at the backdoor while I go to the kitchen to get their breakfast;
* Turn on all the lights out in the backyard and hand out the girls' portions on the deck;
* Roxy heads to the right and Seka heads to the left to eat;
* I close the door and go back upstairs to wash up and check on the cats;
* Finally, I go back downstairs and wait for the girls to appear on the deck to let me know they are done with breakfast and are ready to come back in.

This morning the routine started out the same as it always did, but when I came back down to wait on the girls to finish up I noticed they were both on the deck, but they didn't have their noses right on the glass like they typically do. The timing also seemed pretty quick to me, especially for Seka who takes FOREVER to eat anything, but I just thought I gave her a smaller portion than expected.

As I went over to the door Roxy got more excited. She was play bowing and bouncing all over the place. I know that she likes to see me, but this was a little over the top. I'm not sure what made me glance down before I walked outside, but thank goodness I did or else I would have stepped on my very own opossum rug courtesy of the pups.

What happened is a mystery to me. The opossum wasn't in that particular spot when I sent them outside to eat and I don't monitor them the whole time they are out there. I'm not sure what I would have done if I did anyway. But they either chased the varmint up to the door where it proceeded to play dead or Roxy picked it up like her favorite squeaky toy and brought it to the door where she dropped it for me to see and it killed over in an Oscar-worthy performance. I'm thinking it was scenario 2. If Seka wasn't lame, I'd give her credit for the grab, but I'm not sure she felt up to it, plus not very much interrupts her breakfast/dinner time.

So the darn thing is right at the door. The dogs are looking at me like "don't you like it?" I can tell it is still alive and "playin' possum," so all I can think of is if I open this door it will wake up and run in the house and we'll have a rabid opossum lose in our house at 5:30a.

I enlist the help of my husband to keep an eye on the "prize" while I go around to the side of the house to call the girls to gate and walk them through the garage. Thank goodness my girls are good off leash and know when I mean business - even in the early morning hours when I'm parading around in the dark in nothing but a t-shirt. (kudos Jen)

After 20 minutes of inspection and a photo op through the door (I certainly didn't want the camera to scare him and then have him charge me), our girls' catch decided the coast was clear and wandered off to opossum town. Maybe he learned his lesson. I know I will do some significant inspection of the deck prior to opening the door from now on when it is dark out.

I'm not sure if my father's story was true or not. My dad always had a way of pulling my leg, while leaving me with a little bit of hope that the story was true. This could be one of those cases. It's hard to think anyone could have sympathy for our North America's only marsupial. But while Kev and I stood at the door this morning looking at this nasty little creature play dead on our deck, all I could think of was that I was happy he/she/it didn't resemble road kill or leave nine orphaned babies on my doorstep for me to care for.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Excuse Me?

I've been spending a lot of time at the vet's office lately. Between Emma the Tailless Wonder Cat's diabetes getting all out of whack again and one of the pads on Seka's toes not healing properly after her corn surgery at the end of May, one might get the impression that I could have Munchhausen Syndrome the number of times I've been in the vet's office in the past two weeks.

It made me realize the profound difference of waiting room etiquette at the vet and when you are at your regular doctor's office. First off, people tend to want to talk to you when you are waiting to see the vet. Even people who just stop in off the street to pick up cat food or meds. People want to ask you about your sick cat that you are holding in your lap while all you can think about is why there are 25 people in the waiting area all who signed in claiming they had an appointment at 3:00 - just like you did.

So, I figure I can be somewhat polite and answer a few of the questions as vaguely as possible - "Her name is Emma... She's 12... Yes, she's a very good cat... She isn't feeling well... I hope she doesn't die either."

As the other waiting patients talk about their overweight cattle dogs and the screaming children who are there with their new 8 week old puppy, attempt to pet every cranky animal in sight, I started thinking about what if I started a similar conversation while waiting to see a human doctor. Just think about it. You're waiting to see your physician, feeling like garbage, and someone in the waiting room strikes up a conversation with you asking about what you were in for, how you felt, what kind of fever you were running, if the food was coming out of one end or both, if you were worried about dying when you walked in today.

It sounds absurd doesn't it? But it really isn't any different. It is polite to tell someone that you think their animal is cute, ask their name/age/breed, but that's really about it. When Seka and Roxy are at the vet I always get a lot of questions about their former lives as racers, and I'm happy to talk up the breed, but to me that's totally different than discussing medical history and/or issues.

There are veterinary privacy practices that prevents your vet from discussing your pet's medical history or problems with another patient. This is a lot like HIPAA laws for humans. But this doesn't prevent people from having bad manners, it just stops the vets from telling everyone how "Billy Smith" let his cattle dog become 25 lbs overweight and it caused him to have 2 slipped disks in his back.

So, maybe vets should have a sign in the lobby reminding people of what good manners in the veterinary waiting room look like. My suggestion for number one on the list would be "do not discuss death with other waiting patients."

Monday, July 27, 2009

My Inner Athlete

I didn't grow up playing sports of any kind. In fact, Kev had to teach me how to throw and catch a ball while we were dating. I tried out for my middle school track team once thanks to much persuasion from the coach. She thought I would be perfect for hurdles due to my tall and lanky build. There was just one major oversight in her plan - she didn't realize how uncoordinated I was. It looked like I had been beaten about the shins with a bat after the first practice. Needless to say, I didn't run track. I'm just not an athlete at heart.

Based on my girly nature, I guess most people would expect me to have a fufu dog, not an athletic one. And while greyhounds can easily be treated like cream puff dogs, I've realized that they are happiest when they can be the athlete they are born to be. So I've been in search of something that will allow my girls to express their inner athlete while allowing me to bond with them.

We gave lure coursing a shot and Seka took to it like a duck to water. It is fun, but for the handler, there's not a lot of skill involved. And let's be honest, when it comes to training a greyhound to course, there's really nothing to it. It will either chase the bunny (plastic bag), like Seka does, or it won't, like Roxy. I'd also like to mention that coursing isn't for the faint of heart. Dogs get hurt regularly on the field, sometimes in dramatic fashion.

I watch all of the sporting dog competitions on ESPN and Animal Planet with envy, wishing my girls could possibly do these things. Dock diving. Fly ball. And the creme del la creme - agility. Agility is a total team sport between dog and handler. It takes a lot of practice and a lot of patience. You also have to have access to these types of training facilities near you. I live in the middle of nowhere which makes signing up for a quality beginners class nearly impossible without a 2 hour drive one way.

Thanks to Facebook, I connected rather randomly with one of my former 7th grade teachers who by chance is huge into agility. They have shelties who live to work in the backyard, climbing the a-frame or shooting a tunnel.
When I expressed my interest in seeing her dogs work, they invited me over for an introductory session so I could see what I was getting myself into. I was instantly hooked. Just a couple of weeks later the girls and I found ourselves at the local ag center for a huge agility trial watching my new mentor compete with their two champions (Duke, MACH II, is pictured above). The next week I had Seka and Roxy in their backyard learning to jump. I think they say the rest is history.

Roxy has been slow to come around. She's a fruit loop after all and lacks confidence, but she has the build and brains to be great. Seka on the other hand cannot get enough (I think you can see the look on her face in the pic to the right). She will go out in the backyard on her own and jump over the two makeshift jumps I have created while we wait for our professional practice jumps to arrive. It cracks me up to watch her have her own practice sessions.

They aren't jumping at competition height yet (24 or 26 inches - see the wirehaired pointer to the right), but after three weeks with little access to equipment, Seka is successfully putting two jumps together and jumping on the table without hesitation. The tunnel on the other hand is a tad bit scary and I'm sure it will take awhile. While Kev was watching all of the dogs run at the Perry trial, he said he couldn't imagine a greyhound on the teeter or dog walk. I have to admit I'm a bit intimidated by these elements too. Just as long as they don't end up looking like I did at the end of my first day of track practice I'll consider it a success.

Most readers of this blog may also read Jen's blog and know of her amazing agility greyhounds. They are just two of the very few in the country competing in the sport. I'm a huge fan to say the least. Jen is my greyhound yoda. I cannot wait until my girls are at a point to where I can take my girls to a private agility session with her. But right now, I think I would be reliving the time I tried to play intramural volleyball in college and ended up being hit in the face so often that I had to wear a hat to cover the bruise on my forehead for a week.

Maybe my girls can help me channel my inner athlete, at least enough to make them look good out on the agility course. Fingers crossed - and shoelaces tied.

Friday, July 17, 2009


We took a lot of road trips when I was growing up. In fact, I've been to 49 of the 50 states, via road trip (well, I did fly to Hawaii). The ability to keep two girls from fighting like cats and dogs in the back of the van for hours on end was an impressive gift my father and mother both possessed. I guess it helped that I never got car sick from reading in the car and my sister and I both loved to play a variety of games in the car. We could ride for upwards of 10 hours without killing each other, until we got to the hotel - then all bets were off.

From the traditional "I Spy" and "Road Bingo" to the more creative "Counting Cows" game that my mom made up, we enjoyed playing those games even when we got to be teenagers. Another family favorite, spurred by my father's love of geography, was writing down all of the state license plates (or county names if we were just traveling in the state of Georgia - we have 159) we would see on a road trip. The person to see the largest number of plates from differing states by the time we would get to where we were going would "win."

If you saw a vanity plate, and could figure out what it said, it counted double. This has always made me secretly want a vanity plate. I even tried to get Kev a Red Sox-oriented vanity plate for his birthday a few years ago, but even in the state of Georgia, Red Sox nation is going strong and everything I could come up with was already taken - and I came up with 15 different options.

So, here are the ideas I have for my greyhound-oriented vanity plate that I secretly want and will probably never get. But maybe one day a kid who is playing a silly car game on the way to Disney, instead of watching a DVD, with his or her family will get double points when they see my tag.

Vote for your favorite at the poll to the right. Who knows? Maybe it will happen after all.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


This household has not been too lucky when it comes to digits lately. I'm not referring to landing some hot guy/dog's phone number. I'm talking about useful digits - phalanges, snappers, fingers.

Here's our digit drama in chronological order.

Seka's Laser Corn Removal
She had a corn removed from each of her back feet at the end of May and was lame for weeks. WEEKS. For a few days she couldn't walk at all and I had to carry all 68 pounds of her up and down the stairs for potty time and help support her for the act itself. This was NOT fun. But after four weeks of recovery, we've finally turned a corner. She's perked up, and is using all four of her feet most of the time.

For awhile there I thought we had made a huge mistake as the incisions were very deep and pretty scary to look at. There were nights of tears that I thought she might not get better, but she is way better off after making it through the long healing process. Did I mention the incisions had to be left open, uncovered and draining the whole time. Thank goodness I have own a carpet cleaner.

Note to all corn dog owners out there - pads could be the slowest things to heal on a dog. But laser corn removal is a good solution according to all of the experts I've spoken to, including Dr. Couto at OSU.

Roxy's Run in with a Door
Roxy lacks the patience that other greyhounds have. She bounces around and cries when she is bored. She doesn't like to wait, even when mom has her hands full and is the only one around with opposable thumbs that can actually open the door she is dying to go through.

Needless to say, when she gets all out of her head, bad things can happen and this is the second time such an incident has happened with a door. The first time she was trying to chase a hot blue dog out of our hotel room (who could blame a girl). This time, she was just being a pain and attempted to walk through a slit in the door the size of a dime and got her toe caught under it.

Three stitches and two feet of vet wrap later and you would have thought we had amputated her entire leg. Dr. Couto has said that greyhounds adapt very easily to a leg amputation because of the way they are built. Roxy milked those stitches and bandage for three days by using only three legs. It even took me taking her to our vet to have the bandage removed because of her screaming and biting (yes biting). Once the offending bandage was removed - all was right in the world.

Now we are just dealing with the tasty wound that has replaced the stitches. She sports a toddler sock and vet wrap most of the time as she would rather lick her toe into a bloody stump than actually let it heal. Why are gooey, oozy, bloody wounds a tasty traveling treat?

Louie's Leash Lashing of my Ligament
Meet Louie. This is my brother-in-law's eight month old lab puppy. Louie is a love bug, but isn't very confident. While we vacationed in MA for seven days, I did some training with Louie. We played clicker games, took walks, learned some basic commands and had a great time - until we walked past other dogs that is. Louie either really likes other dogs or doesn't really like other dogs - hard to tell when there's a lot of barking and leash pulling from an otherwise very submissive dog.

So, I walked the neighborhood with him, passing by several dogs and he did well with some corrections, marking and treats. I don't know what set him off. It could have been a taunting squirrel for all I know (he didn't like those either), but the leash got wrapped around the ring finger on my left hand and twisted it like a pretzel with a snap on the end. Needless to say, it was black for three days and totally swollen. Don't ask me how it happened? The only answer I have for you is I'm a donkey and things like this tend to happen to me.

Now the swelling has gone down and the color is somewhat normal. It is still painful to touch and Kev and I like to debate if it is broken or not. But really, what do you do for a broken finger? Um, typing blog posts probably isn't great, but I've never been one to follow the rules.

So, that's the summary of our digitally-challenged group around here. Seka is the best patient in the house. She follows doctors orders perfectly. Roxy, is the cry baby. Me? I'm tough (aka hard headed). But ask me again in a week when I have to go to the ER and have my finger reset while holding a stick between my teeth because it's healed all crooked and weird.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

School's Out for Summer

When you are married to a teacher, and you work from home, you have to put up with two things:

1. Daily afternoon naps after school
2. Summers off

I don't mind number one. It allows me to finish my work day, get dinner ready and workout before our evening together begins. It's nice to be able to end on my own watch, while he lets his body recharge from dealing with 102, 11 and 12 year old children all day. The nap is well deserved if you ask me.

Summers off can be hard to swallow. It's not a big deal for the first two weeks, but it becomes annoying somewhere along week three and after week four I can think of about 20 things I'd like for him to do besides sleep til 3 p.m. or watch day baseball. But it is his vacation, right?

There are five living things in this home that love Kev's lazy summer schedule - three cats and two greyhounds. The time and date stamp on this photo would tell you that on a Tuesday afternoon at 2 p.m., three of the five were still enjoying bedtime with dad. The other two cats had moved to a sunny window instead of the cold cavern that is our bedroom.

So far, the summer of 2009 has been officially titled the Sloth-A-Thon. It's a four-way tie as to who is winning.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Mountain Hounds 2009

I never got into the whole scrapbooking craze that took over all of womanhood in the early 21st century. I will admit that I attended 20 minutes of a scrapbooking party that lasted 7 hours, but sitting a group of crazed women that are trying to lose baby weight, sniffing glue and armed with scissors is not what I call a good time.

Instead of a long traditional post of the amazing time we had at our first official greyhound gathering, I created a few scrapbook-esque pages of our fun-filled weekend.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Religious Debate

The community in which I live is rumored to have the most churches per capita than any other city in the South. I would tend to to believe this is true. Life revolves around religious activities here, and if you're not religious it impacts your life just as much since you have to adjust your daily time line on Wednesday nights and all day Sunday to deal with the "church crowds" at restaurants, grocery stores, and other various places. It is not an exaggeration that in the South when a person meets you for the first time one of the the ways they make small talk is to ask you what church you attend, and if you don't have one they immediately invite you to theirs. It's only the polite thing to do.

When I received this e-mail this morning via a forward from a friend I knew I had to post it here. It was just too good not to share with the world. Here's the premise:

"This is literally a 'church signs' debate, being played out in a Southern US town, between Our Lady of Martyrs Catholic Church, and Cumberland Presbyterian, a fundamentalist church. From top to bottom shows you the response and counter-response over time. The Catholics are displaying a much better sense of humor! You get the impression that the Presbyterians are actually taking this seriously and are getting a bit upset..."

And now to spoil all the fun... yes, it's fake. I could have told you that when I saw that the two churches used in the church sign generator were a Catholic Church and a Presbyterian. In the South, all other churches pretend that the Catholics do not exist.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Fire Drill

I live in a house that has 12, count em', 12 smoke detectors. No my house is not a mansion. It has 10 rooms when you count the bathrooms and the basement. The lady who previously owned this home either was super paranoid about fire or the door-to-door smoke alarm salesman was wicked hot. There's really no other explanation.

I guess it isn't a bad thing to have a ton of smoke detectors in your home, until they all need to have their batteries replaced at once. That's what I've been faced with for the last month - running around listening for where the annoying high pitched beep was coming from. Then once you think you've found it, hauling out the step ladder for an impressive balancing act to get the old battery out. Every single one of the alarms had the batteries go bad within five weeks and the high pitched warning sound became the norm around here.

I guess that's where Seka learned her latest trick which involves whining at the top of her lungs in the middle of the night to make Roxy get up and move off of the bed she is sound asleep on so that she can have it.

Yes, she sounds just like the failing smoke alarms.

Now the first night this happened I fell for her trick hook, line, and sinker. At first stumbled around and tried to figure out where in the world the 13th smoke alarm could be. Lying there at 3 a.m. I had decided that I the one place I didn't check were our closets.

Then I realized it was Seka doing a pretty realistic impression of our alarms. I laughed and got up and went downstairs to let her out. But when I turned around I discovered only one dog had followed me down to the backdoor and it wasn't the one I thought it would be. I went back upstairs to find Seka settled in Roxy's spot, happy as a clam. And not moving.

The second night I ignored the crying but Roxy didn't. She got fooled again and lost her warm spot on her favorite bed. Roxy was a good sport about it and just found somewhere else to sleep.

The third night, not even Roxy fell for Seka's false alarm impression, which only frustrated her. I have to admit it is funny, but not at 2 a.m. And when she doesn't get her way, it isn't pretty. And when I'm jolted awake due to an unnecessary high pitched scream, let's just say it's not pretty either. The alpha order was restored pretty quickly.

Luckily Seka realized her audience for her stupid dog trick has been reduced to zero. And I've done some selective reduction of my own on the smoke alarm front.

I'm still on the look out for that hot fire alarm salesman.

-- Post From My iPhone

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Beach Dog

Here's Roxy sticking her toes in the Atlantic for the very first time. She was a bit freaked out by the waves at first. But she waded in with me pretty deep and even sat down in the water for a marshmallow! Seka on the other hand would rather have all of her other toes amputated than stick one of them in the ocean.

-- Post From My iPhone

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Art Therapy

It's spring break and I'm on vacation at the beach. Yes, the weather is good. Yes, I'm getting a tan. Yes, I've had a massage. Yes, I've had awesome meals. Yes, I've slept late. Yes, I've had drinks with umbrellas in them.

So, why am I a little blue? I miss my girls.

It sucks that people can take screaming, crying, cracker crumb spreading, children to stay in hotel rooms, not to mention fine dining establishments, but when it comes to pets it is total drama to find a place that will take a dog over 15 pounds, much less two of them. So my girls are staying at a fabulous place about two hours away from us that is for Greyhounds only, of which I will write more about later this week. But for tonight, I thought I'd share the make-shift art therapy session that I used to help me get over the hump of missing my babies.

These artistic creations were crafted on BeFunky. It's a free service that allows you to upload your own pictures and apply various filters to the piece to create a funky, fresh piece of art. It was a lot of fun trying out all of the options. I used a wicked old photo of Seka showing off her pearly whites and applied the Warhol filter. And since Roxy is such a character, I used one of the cartoon filters on one of the very first pictures I ever took of her.

So, until the day the world wises up and realizes that dogs are less likely to destroy a hotel room, vomit on the floor, wipe poop on the walls, and cause less noise than an 18 month old child, I'll have to learn how to comfort myself when we leave the girls for an extended time.

Bartender, another hair of the dog please...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

QVC Wanna Be

I've always wanted to work for QVC as on-air talent. I think it would be so much fun thinking of ways to make anything from light bulbs to porcelain dolls interesting, entertaining and necessary. I watch QVC regularly when I'm home alone (which is a lot) and their hosts fill my quiet house with a friendly, knowledgeable voice. If they ever needed a pet specialist, I would so apply for that job!

So, when the fine folks at the FURminator, contacted me to take a sneak peek at their new deShedding tools that you can use in the bath, I jumped at the chance to produce my own QVC-esque review of their product.

Now, I've never used any of the FURminator products. I have greyhounds, and we all know that they shed minimally. Well, that's what I thought until I threw them in the bath tub and used the TubNub on them! This rubber grooming tool helped to remove enough hair to cover another greyhound! And for those of you with black greyhounds, the TubNub helped me rinse Seka totally clean of all the soap residue, which causes the flakiness that you typically see the day after their bath. This is a bath miracle in and of itself, since I've tried everything (including apple cider vinegar) to stop this next day flake fest.

The deShedding Shampoo and Solution smell awesome and helped Roxy stop the constant, annoying itching she goes through this time of the year. I totally believe it is the combination of the Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids in the Shampoo and the Aloe & Oatmeal in the Solution that has put an end to the itching. Getting rid of all that dead hair that was floating around in her undercoat had to help too!

Putting an end to their spa evening, my girls enjoyed getting a quick dry with the FURminator's Microfiber towel. While the size is a tad small, it does a lot of work, soaking up a ton of water. I think this would be a great towel to keep in your car if your dog likes to take a dip in a local pond. This towel can soak up all the unwanted water before your pup jumps back in the car, and the bright green towel doesn't take up a lot of room in the trunk, like that old beach towel you've been carrying around.

So, now that I've got my taste of QVC-like fame, I'll do more product reviews from time-to-time. I've got to figure out how to position my web cam so Roxy and Seka can get in on the action as well. I wish I had kept the out takes so you could have seen Roxy interrupting me with her own reviews. Maybe next time we'll do a blooper reel.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Juicy Juice

I'm one of those people who may not have the healthiest relationship with food. I tend to eat my feelings. And boy, lately I've had a lot of feelings. It's part of the reason this blog has been neglected, because it's not been for lack of subject matter. So, I decided that I needed to renegotiate my relationship with food before I had to buy a new wardrobe, and not for the better - if you know what I mean.

Since putting my girls on a raw diet five months ago, they have been thriving. Pick something and it's better ten-fold: coat, breath, teeth, energy, etc. So, I started doing research on raw diets for people and came across a juicing program that both detoxes your body and helps you ease your way into a vegetarian lifestyle, something that I've always wanted to do, but have never been able to successfully do for any length of time.

So I purchased a juicer to make my own organic, raw fruit and vegetable juices. And after a bit of research on recipes that I thought might taste good, I went to the grocery and cleaned out the tiny organic section of our produce department.

Now, I honestly have never bought that many vegetables in my entire life. Ever. I even bought beets people! All I could think of while I was piling my basket full of all these healthy fruits and veggies was, "I bet my poop will be colorful."

I wasn't scared of the fruit juice. I knew it wouldn't taste like Tropicana, but it was fruit juice - so it couldn't be bad. I do have to admit that I was a bit afraid of the veggie juice. But I found that I really liked carrot juice - and so did my Siamese cat. I couldn't keep her out of it. She'd stick her face so far down in the glass that she would stain her cheeks orange. I learned the secret was to juice an apple with any veggie juice and it makes it better.

When you use a juicer, what's left in the machine is the fiber/pulp of the vegetable. After the first day I felt like it was a waste to just throw that stuff away. I don't have a compost pile, which seemed like an ideal place for this stuff to go. But wait - I do have a compost pile, two compost piles actually: Seka and Roxy. This seemed like a great way to add in veggies and fruits to their diets without me having to get out the darn food processor and mix it up special for them. So I scraped out the pulp and put it in ice cube trays and poured some low sodium chicken broth over the top. Now every day they get a little chicken pop treat, which they love.

So for five days all I consumed was fresh, organic juice. Usually it was fruit in the morning, veggie at lunch and fruit at night. I also had green tea. After getting over the hurdle of the first day and thinking about food constantly, it surprisingly wasn't hard. I had a lot of energy, despite the lack of chewable food. I didn't crave anything. After coming off of my fast, I've eaten a small vegetarian (I eat fish, eggs, cheese and milk) meal mid-day and still juice morning and night. I feel good and I don't have crazy cravings at all hours of the day. I also reach for the water bottle when I'm feeling stressed, which is still happening regularly. But all in all, my switch to a raw-er way of life has been good. I guess I should have paid more attention to my girls all along!