Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Castor & Pollux Organix Dog Treats

This month, the kind offer from included the opportunity to review Castor & Pollux Organix dog snacks.

Since every moment in my household is a teachable moment, I am always looking for a good training treats and things that my dogs are willing to work for. 

Though the most useful treats for the challenging things I am trying to train --like not going ballistic when the mailman comes around, like watching the pug next door and the boxer across the street with coolness and equanimity, like accepting the nail clippers with acceptance and joy--are high value treats, I was interested in discovering whether a more basic biscuit could inspire my dogs to realize their better selves. 

Could these treats be that biscuit?

At the time of writing, I confess that it seems not. 

These Castor & Pollux Organix chicken snacks are a hearty, crunchy, substantial-seeming biscuit that are great for late-night snacks, when the pups are hungry, or bored of their leftover mealtime food, and need a little somethin' to tide them over til breakfast.  I feel good about giving them to the dogs because they contain 95% organic ingredients, including free-range chicken so you know those sweet birdies were at least reasonably comfortable before their lives were taken so our dogs could eat them. They fill the pups up, and they are glad to have them.

But on walks, when we are going past our boxer friend Oliver's house and Fozzie and Oliver are going nuts at each other, these treats are not enough to break Fozzie's singleminded fixation on tellin' Oliver a thing or two. 

No, I'm afraid we gotta find some more freeze dried snacks for that, huh Fozzie? 

Freeze dried snacks, comin' right up. In the meantime, thanks for the chance to review a really good, basic hearty snack!

Since we're talking about food, I want to wish everyone a wonderful holiday filled with traditional foods like Veggie Booty and kale chips. We are bringing together a wacky assortment of people and a scrumptious array of food in what will surely be a mindnumbing day of debauchery. Can't wait to hear about your adventures around the tofurkey!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Back to River Bend

Not so many hikey posts lately, as Florian and I have been occupied with family and hardly get the chance anymore to get out in the woods. 

But we got to go on a little one recently, just before Florian had a rehearsal in Great Falls. Yep, it's Nutcracker season again, which means lots of rehearsals right near some of our favorite spots on the Potomac, like River Bend State Park. 

The river looks so pretty in the fall, 
and not surprisingly, Fozzie was not deterred by the cold water. It looked so clean and refreshing, it was tempting to join him.

but that will have to wait til next summer.

Of course the trail is pretty flat, and maybe doesn't make for the most thrilling of hikes. 

But it was enough just to be outside in the sunshine, 
to enjoy the last leaves remaining on the trees, and to look out over the water.

With less vegetation around, it's easier to notice really stunning natural features, like this tree with its gnarled roots exposed. 

How do some trees survive with their roots exposed and so close to the water? How did this tree get that way--did the river gradually widen, engulfing its banks and washing away soils along the way?
Whatever happened, it is beautiful. 

I wonder how that tree will look in a few years though, after the water levels rise even higher. 

Fozzie, do you wonder the same thing?
Probably not. Happily for them, I don't think dogs are troubled by existential questions, questions about the future, questions about the natural world and its rapidly shifting systems. 

They're just happy they get to go on a good walk. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Regression Analysis

Given all the seriousness of the past few months, I've had a bit of an urge to regress as of late, to cling to an earlier era before body parts started aching, before I had to grapple with adult things like death, before I had a serious job requiring Business Casual. 

This has expressed itself largely in harmless ways, like going to drum circles and dancing my aging heart (and back, and neck, and right piriformis) out. 

It also meant going away one weekend to a hippie music festival near the Shenandoahs in Virginia, for no other reason than that I needed to cut loose, be a free spirit, do the kind of thing that I used to do as a matter of course when I was in my 20s but feel so distant from, now that I live a much more settled life and have an employed Swiss fiance, and a job (or three), and a car that I drive, but do not live in. 

The festival was held at a beautiful campground with a large clearing surrounded by forest, fall foliage just past its peak. 

I camped with my old friends from that hippie band I used to play in, up on the hill above the clearing. 

There was a stage for the jam bands and grungy bluegrass acts to play on, 

and a bunch of grizzled old musicians and professional festival-goers living in amazing contraptions that I didn't know existed anymore. 

A friend of my buddy Eric was there with his wife and kids in their enormous camper, with vintage interior decor that our friend's wife did herself. 

My sleeping accommodations were nowhere near that deluxe. But the Honda Fit made a surprisingly cozy dwelling during the coldest night of the year so far, with temperatures in the upper 20s, and I was glad to have a car to sleep in.

It was good to spend a night under the stars, alone in my mini-mini van, with no one else to worry about or take care of. 

But one night was enough, and the next day, after warming up in the sun with my buddies and some instant oatmeal, I was ready to drive back home and face the adult world--with its family responsibilities, jobs, a real house with a real bed, and of course those dogs--once again. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Mobile Bones Canine Joint & Bone Supplement

I was contacted by Pooch and Mutt of, with an invitation to receive a free packet of dog supplements in exchange for a product review. 

Lamar Latrell is 13 years old and though he still trots along like a young dog and chases seabirds when he's on the beach, he is definitely developing some stiffness in his hindquarters. 

Most troublingly, he has started to have some trouble coming up stairs and sometimes stumbles coming up my porch steps. Sometimes, he can't manage to hoist himself up on my bed.

What do you do when your dog's back legs start to fail? I guess I could install a ramp or an escalator. Or I could get one of those devices that you use to lift your dog and give the back end a boost up stairs.

But before we go to those lengths, I thought we'd try some Mobile Bones canine joint & bone supplement

I've tried other glucosamine products for Lamar, and never really noticed stunning results. With glucosamine, MSM, Omega 3 and 6 and a variety of vitamins, this supplement seemed like a good thing to try. 

I sprinkled a bit on Lamar's food with every meal, and watched to see how he did on those stairs.

And it's hard to say! He may stumble a bit less going up stairs and climbing on the bed, but he still stumbles occasionally. 

And I'm not so sure my slightly picky eater enjoys having a grainy substance sprinkled on his food. It seems preferable to me, if you have a dog who's not a food inhaler, to give supplements in the form of a discrete tablet that can be smothered n peanut butter. 

Now I am not one to knock nutritional supplements in general, and I have found that for my own health there are a few that make a great difference. And, I am not necessarily the most perceptive person when it comes to noticing subtle differences in my dogs' mobility. Maybe someone else would have noticed that Lamar's got a bigger spring in his step, a bit more jaunt in his stride. But not I. 

What's been YOUR experience with doggie supplements? Have you found anything that really works for arthritis?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

New Creative Directions

My blogging has been more sporadic of late, the main reason being that with the passing of my mom it has been hard to motivate to keep writing. 

I know that many of you come and visit regularly and it means a lot to me that you do....yet some part of me was writing because I knew how much my mom enjoyed keeping up on our adventures. 

Life goes on though, and ultimately we have to live for ourselves even when the reasons for living are harder to discern, or when one very big reason for living changes or goes away. 

We have to find new reasons, not forgetting the ones that nourished us before but finding some way to access them even in their new and perhaps unrecognizable form. 

So last week, I started a new part-time job doing climate change communications for a government agency. My repertoire of writing topics will expand from ear discharge, Turkey & Duck snacks, and dandruff, to the necessity for human populations to adapt to a radically changed world and to mitigate what impacts are still in our power to alter. I am hoping that it will be a satisfying outlet for my desire to write things, especially things that may have some positive reverberations in the world.

And the evening of my first day on the job, I went to a drum circle and played Middle Eastern rhythms in seven and danced like an eighteen-year-old tree-hugging sarong-wearing hippie, my Business Casual neatly folded in my bedroom and long forgotten like it belonged to a distant lifetime. 

And as it was the night before Halloween, we took a moment to remember the dead. 

My Mom wasn't there in the flesh, but it's probably a good thing she wasn't. She would have been infuriated by a bunch of New Age idiots going on about connection and community and spiritual claptrap. 

I wish I could call her and tell her all about it, and again feel bathed in her uniquely disparaging and humorous form of love.  Instead, I am practicing keeping that love alive all around me.

Maybe someday I'll get used to the fact that she exists only in the night sky, in the flowers and trees, and in my heart. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

All Souls

Although this year we didn't have a momentous occasion like the birth of the 7 billionth human coinciding with Halloween, I still wanted to mark the holiday in some way. 

This year Halloween was a somber occasion, as for many of us--especially those who may have some pagan tendencies--it is a time to remember and honor the dead. My mom never made a huge deal for Halloween, but she did love kids and loved seeing all the little beasts come by in their costumes, and enjoyed rewarding their adorableness with sugary snacks.

This year, we didn't have Mom but we did have Dad, Uncle Johnny, Florian, and our buddy Eric whose house we descended upon. With that crowd, plus an old bag of costume stuff that we brought up from the basement,  how could you really go wrong?

Eric served us some really good, healthy, TVP-rich vegan chili he'd made from scratch with onions from his own garden, while we handed out sugar-laden, tooth-rotting corporate snacks to neighborhood children. 
Why is it that some of the most boring-sounding events, like sitting around in Eric's house with Uncle Johnny and some vegan chili, turn out to be some of the greatest times ever? 

Maybe it's all of those really good sugary snacks.