Monday, May 25, 2015

Blue Wilderness Chicken and Turkey Jerky Dog Treats from Natural Pet Warehouse

This month, Natural Pet Warehouse offered us TWO bags of jerky treats for the dogs -- Blue Wilderness chicken AND Turkey jerky dog treats



I decided to put the turkey treats to the grooming test, with a couple of senior dog clients. Doonie came to me for a summer clip down, and sure felt better about the whole thing because she got to enjoy some grain free, gluten free turkey snacks. 







I am not sure why these snacks contain salt and molasses--wouldn't dogs enjoy pure turkey jerky just as much? On the other hand, those are the only three ingredients and they are made in the USA. Who could really complain about that?

Not Doonie. She just lifted a little paw in supplication for another taste of that turkey-y goodness. 
And Loki? She just came for a relaxing bath in lavender soap. A bath made even more relaxing with some tasty turkey treats.

We brought some chicken treats over to Genghis to see how he felt about them. What would be his thoughts, feelings, and ideas about these bits of jerky fun?

Genghis has a lusty appreciation for the good things in life, and it showed with these treats. 











In fact, even if he had been feeling more verbose on this evening, it would have been hard for him to give a more ringing endorsement than the one he provided just with his look of pure anticipation as he contemplated these treats, and then eagerness as he realized fulfillment.


I think our distinguished panel of experts would agree that these Blue Wilderness Chicken and Turkey Jerky Dog Treats from Natural Pet Warehouse are some really good treats! 

Suitable for grooming desensitization, training, or just plain celebrating who your dog is.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Groovin' with Genghis at the 9th Annual Fashion for Paws Runway Show

Those of you who know me know that I'm pretty much of a nature girl. Pretty outdoorsy, kinda hippie, kinda crunchy, way more likely to sport a tie dye sarong with a treat bag than a cocktail dress with a purse. But there's a secret side of me that only those closest to me know about.  

That's the side that loves getting all dressed up and having an evening out with my sweetie 



and my family







and actually getting to walk the runway with Genghis at the Washington Humane Society's Fashion for Paws Runway Show!


Photo by Moshe Zusman
It's an annual benefit for the shelter, wherein volunteers who raise a certain amount can walk the runway in fashions donated for the evening by participating designers. Their dogs get to borrow doggie fashions for the evening and walk the runway too. 

It was three months of hard work to raise enough money to qualify, but I knew it would be worth it just to have this experience once!

As someone who grooms other beings for a living, it was fantastic to actually feel what it's like to be groomed myself and to get my hair and face done by professionals. 


There's a first time for everything! 

All the models spent most of the afternoon together backstage, so I got to make some new friends while I got my hair done and practiced my walk. Meanwhile, my sister brought Genghis to the event and he stayed at a special zen dog paradise until it was time for us to walk.

Then that moment came! Genghis and I were united backstage and I got to see him in his sparkly turquoise magnificence. 


When we walked out, he exuded calmness and self-assurance. Glad one of us did!





I had some treats because I thought he might do that thing he often does in public where he rolls over on his back with his paws up in the air and doesn't move for a while. 

Which would have been kind of good, but I knew the organizers of the show wanted to keep things moving. 












But Genghis elected not to play dead and angle for a belly rub on this occasion, instead just pausing in front of a photographer whenever he could to make sure they got a really good shot of his handsomeness. 

Photo: Janet Donovan
I missed not having Fozzie and Dahlia, and missed not having them hump my leg, lunge at other dogs, and bark and yodel loudly as they careened and pulled uncontrollably at the end of the leash. But maybe others wouldn't have enjoyed that as much. 

What's wrong with people, anyway?

Thanks Genghis and family for a lovely evening! This was truly a night to remember.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Day Reflections

This was the second Mother's Day since Mom passed away. A year and a half and sometimes I'm still not sure how I function without her! There's no replacing Mom, so all you can do is try to channel some of her unconditional love, joy and ridiculousness and in that way try to capture the sensation of having her with us again.

This weekend was dedicated to Mom's love, joy, and ridiculousness. 


Saturday, I brought Dad and Johnny to the Greenbelt Green Man festival, a wacky annual event celebrating the Green Man of pagan lore in the green, progressive community of Greenbelt.

It's really an excuse for a bunch of adults to dress up in vines and flowers and horns and play with hula hoops and hand drums, 





and for people like me to commit elder abuse and make my poor uncle Johnny wear a green sarong. 
















It was a fun time though, with great weather and the chance to see some of my green mellow hippie musical friends which always relaxes me. 

One of my friends gave me a thing that she didn't know was a Mother's Day present, but that I thought of that way. 

My first ever Mother's Day present. It's perfect. 
















And darn it, why shouldn't all moms be celebrated on Mother's Day, even if our kids are short, hairy, and have very poor manners?

Speaking of which, Sunday was a steamy day and a perfect day to take those kids on a nice walk. We went to Fairland Recreational Park, which is not far from us in Silver Spring. An enormous park, loads of mountain bike and hiking trails, streams, and several very angry turtles!


The dogs, fortunately, took no interest in the turtles whatsoever. Funny--do turtles have no smell? 

The dogs did however get nice and tired, so we felt OK leaving them in the afternoon to celebrate Mother's Day with my aunt, my cousin, Uncle Johnny, Dad, and my sister. 

Can you believe it, it's been about a year since Uncle Bob left us too. Here's a picture from old times; I have no idea when because I don't even recognize the dog. Maybe my aunt and uncle's old dog Ebbet?


Change is a part of life; I suppose you just have to roll with it, maybe even embrace it. 

Celebrate every moment of ridiculousness you can,



and spend lots of time with the people who bring out your love and joy.
 Mom would approve.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A New Hike in Pawtuxent State Park

This weekend was our first blast of nice warm weather, and we managed to spend most of it outside. 

Saturday was Zimbabwean Independence Day, and we brought dad to a celebratory picnic.











There was a lot of meaty food, which dad loved, and a lot of really nice people. We had a nice, social time, made some new Zimbabwean music friends and played some mbira music ourselves. 

After such a social day, Sunday was the perfect day to just get away somewhere with the dogs. Florian's favorite part of Pawtuxent State Park was closed all winter, so he was excited to find it open.

The park is huge and goes along the Pawtuxent River, which at this point is wide and calm, like a lake. 













Lots of really cool rocks to climb and explore, or just sit on in the sun. 

This is a popular area for fisher people, so we passed a few of them enjoying their idyllic, harmless, peaceful pastime of sticking a hook through an innocent creature's lip and yanking it into a medium in which it cannot breathe, all for sport. I also picked up long tangled masses of fishing line just waiting for wildlife to die in, along with broken beer bottles and charming plastic containers that once held bait. 

Once we passed the fisher people on our way along the river, the trail got more wild and we saw no one. Time for the pups to go off leash and get nice and wet. 

Though we've been to the Pawtuxent many times and there's nothing particularly exciting about it, this hike had a particular joy to it. The warmth, the sun, and especially the remoteness of the trail as we got away from the parking lot, and the knowledge that the dogs cold run and get wet as much as they pleased, unmolested. 


Fozzie loves to chase sticks into the water, and Dahlia usually follows him. 


There was plenty of evidence of wildlife. 



We saw a bunch of trees that had been chewed through by beavers. My spirit does a little dance of triumph whenever I see evidence of beavers, those little keystone species whose labors create habitat for other species as they build natural dams that flood the banks in some areas and create variability and diversity in the riparian ecosystem. 












Another little triumph--we saw an enormous sneeks! 

Not a triumph for Florian, who is so terrified even of the harmless black water snakes--which he refers to, in the singular, as "a sneeks"--that he screamed like a girl and then stood behind me, clutching my shoulders and jumping up and down. 

But I enjoyed watching our coiled, hissing friend scoot into the water, as I contemplated the enormous number of mosquitoes he or she is no doubt responsible for eliminating. 

Far back along the trail, the river narrowed and became rocky and even more beautiful, 

and we had to watch out even more for sneeks because according to our resident expert, they love to hide in rocky areas near the water and just wait for him, ready to spring. 

No more sneeks though, just lots of mud so we had to throw some more sticks to get the dogs to rinse off. Fozzie was happy to oblige, but Dahlia had to be coaxed in, and then scrubbed.

Why is mud so much more appealing than clean water? We'll just never know.

But eventually, both dogs were rinsed and we returned to the car and returned home, everyone contented and sleepy.

This felt like a perfect way to spend Earth Day weekend, peacefully enjoying nature, getting muddy, and celebrating beavers. And running away from a sneeks! How did YOU celebrate Earth Day? 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Dogswell Happy Hips Salmon Jerky from Chewy.com

Our latest score from Chewy.com was some Dogswell Happy Hips Salmon Jerky



I used to try often to get treats with glucosamine for Lamar to help his arthritis. Fozzie and Dahlia have no hip problems as of yet, but I thought that with salmon jerky you really can't go wrong tastewise so why not give them a try. 

To test out these treats, first of course we did the usual. 

The dogs were eager to do their Swiss ball exercises, their rapt attention on the treats.











Then we decided to really put these treats to the test by bringing them on a walk. 

Our springtime walks have been a real adventure lately. We have the good fortune of living right near a little woods that connect two school yards, and lately the woods have been full of bunny rabbits and deer. The other day, there was a fox on the trip who followed us a little way, and this nature momma ran the other direction in terror as I tried to keep Fozzie and Dahlia distracted.

Because when Fozzie sees a squirrel or a cat, all 85 pounds of pure muscle rears up on the leash and barks and yodels and lunges, while a compact bullet of Dahlia attacks Fozzie's neck with gusto. 

On this walk, we got to the edge of the woods without mishap and then Fozzie got that look in his eye and I peered into the woods to see two big white tails fleeing through the trees. 

Let's whip out those Salmon Jerky snacks! They apparently smell really good because I had Dahlia's attention almost immediately.  










Fozzie took a little longer, 

but once I had his attention he zeroed in on my hand and didn't look away.














That is the mark of a really high-value, good-smelling, super-tasty treat: a treat that can get Fozzie's attention even in the face of fast-moving prey species. 

The other nice thing I noticed is that having a really good treat after a high-stress encounter seems to cool everything down and let the dogs come to focus and calm.  

So as we continued on our walk and passed the house of our friend Oliver, the boxer whom Fozzie and Dahlia get a bit excited about every time we pass, all I had to do was reach toward the treat pocket and both dogs were sitting at attention. 

Oliver is the brown blob behind the fence in the background
I notice that overall, when I have a really high-value treat in my pocket, the whole tone of the walk is more calm and manageable and the dogs are more responsive and attentive. 

It's like they know when paying attention is really worth their while. 

Thanks again chewy.com, you make some rockin' training aids. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Florian's birthday extravaganza

For Florian's birthday a couple of weekends ago, we decided to really live it up and go on an overnight trip. Let's go to Berkeley Springs, I thought, and we'll have a thoroughly romantic, relaxing hiking, soaking in the mineral baths, maybe getting a massage and staying at a nice B & B or a rental cabin.

When we got to Berkeley Springs, we continued through the town and stopped at Cacapon Resort State Park. It was chilly, so no one was around and we could let the dogs run like wackos. 

Something about Berkeley Springs just makes me so happy, maybe because every time I've been there I've had a really good time. 

The first time was in 2009, when my sister rented a house near the Cacapon and my whole family stayed there. 


The hikes and scenery are amazing, and the town has all these groovy little shops full of Tibetan clothing and fragrant soaps and nifty hippie stuff that is right up our alley.

With the dogs nice and tired, we felt pretty good leaving them in the car while we went to go check out the shops and buy some aromatherapy body spray. Then it was getting into evening, and we were thinking about finding a restaurant and a relaxing, pretty room with a jacuzzi in one of the many spas in town.

But that would have required staying in one place for a while. Silly me! This was a weekend with Florian, and that was out of the question. Back in the car, off to another town closer to where we wanted to hike the next day, and to a Motel 6 next to a strip mall and a really good Thai restaurant.

We love Motel 6. Always pet friendly, with no pet fee! And the rooms have wood floors, how cool is that?













The next day, we were close to Williamsport which is right next to the Potomac. Breakfast in a nifty little independent cafe and then a hike along the C & O Canal.

I love the C & O canal trail, with the water right next to it, but it was a bit tranquil for Florian. So off to our next hike, the Washington Monument State Park along the Appalachian Trail.
It was fun to see the through-hikers, with their scruffy faces and enormous packs, and neat to see the little shelters they stay in for the months they are on the trail.










A nice trail up to the monument, which was at the top of a hill.
It's the first completed monument dedicated to George Washington, built by the citizens of Boonesboro in 1827.

Great views from the top





and a good place to enjoy the sun and relax a minute.


before descending inside the nifty stone tower.


Another whirlwind trip with Florian and the pups! Maybe we'll get to that hot tub for his 80th birthday.  

Monday, April 6, 2015

Heading out of winter

Finally on the East Coast we are getting to the point where it is not just not unbearably miserably cold, but its actually kind of pleasant and nice to be outside. A couple of weekend ago, Florian pulled out our book of hikes in the Baltimore area and found one that was supposed to have some cool ruins. 

The Patapsco River is one of those huge rivers with trails and recreation areas all along it. 











Finally, a warm enough day for the dogs to get in the water, get their paws a bit wet 



and get a drinkie











There was much rejoicing. 

It was a flat trail but still beautiful, 

with the water right next to the trail 













And eventually, a number of cool ruins. 

I know it was kind of disrespectful but it's hard to be too upset about a graffito of a large, good-natured banana. 

I have to admit, I'll be happy when there's a bit more green to enjoy on our outings. 

In the meantime, you have to appreciate the wacky things nature sometimes does.




That was fun, guys! Now its time to rest.