Saturday, June 27, 2015

Grooming Fun with Nature's Recipe Chewy Treats from

Another month, time for another product review! always has something amazing for us to try by way of training treats.

This time, we decided to test Nature's Recipe oven baked chewy treats

These lamb recipe treats with carrots and apples are, as advertised, chewy so I knew my dogs would like them. They have a pretty good, pretty natural ingredient list though I do wonder why sugar has to be the third ingredient. Isn't it enough that human diets have been poisoned by excessive amounts of added sugar, salt, and processing? Do our dogs really need sugar too, or wouldn't they like the treats just as much if they were pure meaty bits?

here's one anyway
Anyway, these questions are not for me to ponder. Since I realized a while ago that the internet doesn't need another picture of my dogs standing on top of their exercise ball to demonstrate their enthusiasm for a treat, 

I decided to test these treats out on my grooming clients.

Winston is a bit of a tough customer; he and I have a lovely rapport until it comes time to touch his paws at which point he snaps and tries to kill me.

I can't say that these treats really changed his mind about the whole nail clipping thing, but maybe over time they will. He definitely enjoyed them as long as I wasn't making any moves toward those precious paws. 

Next up was Molly, a hound friend of mine who I've been grooming for years. Molly's pretty calm at this point and we have a nice time together. 

The most impressive thing to me about Molly is how much fur comes off her!

A few minutes with the Zoom Groom and Molly's fur is all over my porch. 

Molly's had a pleasant massage, I've had the fulfillment of a satisfying deshedding session, and we're all feeling pretty good and relaxed. 

Nothing left to do but celebrate with a really good treat. 

And maybe Molly herself is evidence of the power of years of grooming sessions with high-value treats! Thanks for contributing such a valuable asset to my practice.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

It's Official: Why I Completely Failed at Fostering Dahlia

As probably very few of you will be surprised to learn, last week I signed the papers to make Dahlia my forever little squishy beanbag. 

We've had her since last August. 

As time went on I was getting more and more attached to her snorts, her kisses, her snorting kisses and her bad breath and her little tiny squishy body, but I kept holding out. Part of me wanted to avoid having not one but two strong, hard-to-walk dogs, part of me felt bad for Fozzie having to put up with her nonsense. A big part of me wanted the simplicity of one dog and having always a space open for a foster. 

But in the end, there were some other factors that were much bigger than these excuses.

Like how she likes to lie down in cool water, 

and roll around so all of her gets wet.

Like how she loves people, and greets new humans gently and with joy. 

Like how she looks absolutely ridiculous in her winter hoodie,

and how she is not a picky eater and really helps with prewash when you have people over and a bunch of dishes to deal with.

Like how she gurgles and snorts and convulses on flat surfaces, 

especially after I have applied sunblock to the pink areas of her face and belly.

Like the fact that she is just. So. Weird. 

She is like a little snorting, snoring, biting, loving, humping, convulsing, deaf alien. All dogs are kind of bizarre but she just takes it to a whole new level. 

Then there's the fact that although she pesters Fozzie, he seems to actually like her. 

Often he's the instigator of their wrestling hump sessions, which I know doesn't mean that they're necessarily healthy... 

but he's not avoiding her, not afraid of her, and just seems to kinda like her. 

Maybe this is telling, but some of the times I love her most are when she's sleeping. Like when she digs the pillows on the couch into a comfy little nest and like how she snores loudly and how she doesn't wake up when I come home. 

Like when she collapses in a heavy thunk on the floor, 

and lies there in complete trust, usually with one back paw extended out the back so she looks like a little semi colon.

Or when she curls up into a tiny ball 

or a tiny compact shape like a beanbag.

and just snores.

But really the thing about Dahlia is the way it feels to think about her, to be with her, to wrap my arms around her compact form and squish her little mouth and feel her hot, foul breath and see the devotion--with a touch of mischief--in her eyes. 

I think it's called love. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Celebratory Camping Weekend in the Shenandoahs

This weekend, Florian and I had most of both days free so we decided to pack up the dogs, pack up a tent and go camping in one of our favorite spots, the swimming holes along the Thompson Hollow-Overall Run Trail. This is a place where Dahlia's been before, but we wanted to go there again to celebrate a little milestone in our family...more on that in a future post. 

When we got there Saturday afternoon, the camp site we'd had in mind was unoccupied so we set up the tent right away.

Then I took the dogs down to the water to cool off.

This is our favorite place to go on a hot, humid day. 

Somehow nature has conspired to create an absolutely blissful spa-like environment nestled in a fragrant forest, where every feature seems designed to relax and generate fulfillment.

We were not surprised that there were a number of people already enjoying the swimming holes , 

but the great thing about this place is that there are a series of depressions carved out over a long stretch of cascading rock.

So if one is occupied when you arrive, and you wish to enjoy relative privacy for whatever reason, 

you can just descend further to one of the other perfectly carved swimming holes to meditate and relax.   

Everyone we've ever met there has been mellow and nice, so once we ascertained that the natives were friendly we let the pups off the leash so they could explore.

There are a bunch of trails that converge near these swimming holes, and if you wanted to you could hook up with the Appalachian trail from here or you could do a loop trail that takes you past the 93' high waterfalls--the strenuous Tuscarora-Overall Run hike that we did with Lamar, bless his angelic heart. 

So we explored down the trail in the other direction, and turned around when that trail started to go uphill. 

Great time for a dinner break at the tent, then some after- dinner relaxation and reading on the flat rocks by the water. 

The dogs were completely exhausted by this point. 

But some fellow campers out on the rocks let us know they'd heard about a sighting of some bears just down the trail, so time to leash up.

Pretty soon, it was time to hunker down for the night. 

As you know, I am not the greatest sleeper and it was a bit of a crapshoot whether I'd sleep away from my beloved latex mattress. 

But I was still looking forward to spending the night with my yawning, snoring beasts 

right by my side and unable to escape to their own personal space.
Sure enough, come morning the bipedal among us were groggy and sore but we felt good anyway, and even better after going down to the water once more and enjoying a cool swim.

So relaxing and refreshing. 

Exciting too, once the crayfish started crawling out of their rocky hiding places and waving their claws around. We saw about four of them, and I was only mildly terrified and certainly less so than was Florian at the news of a gray water snake slithering about. 
So much wildlife!

And so much adventure and restoration. Hard to believe we were just a few hours from DC! 

The short hike to the car was enough to thoroughly exhaust those dogs, and Dahlia snored in my lap the whole drive back home.

I think we're going to have to do this again soon! 

Next time, with a cushy inflatable mattress pad for those of us who lack Dahlia's ability to be at home wherever she finds herself in the long as she's with her people.

Monday, June 8, 2015

To the Adirondacks, again

If any of you has ever cared for an aging parent, or let go of old family possessions, you know that some processes take a lot longer and are a lot more complicated than you ever expected.

I think we've done 3 or 4 7-hour drives to the Adirondacks since my Mom died, each one "the last." My dad really wanted to go, and once Florian was on board I didn't have the will to argue.

Alright then, we'll make the best of it. I knew that with the dogs in tow, there would at least be some good moments along with the challenges.

With Uncle Johnny along and Dahlia in my lap the whole way, the trip north was better than I expected. And of course, on arrival the dogs were delighted to be in nature with so much space to run around. 

The house is still in good shape, though it definitely needs someone to be living there and loving it again. Though I'd dreaded it, it was actually good to go through the rooms again and pay homage to all Mom's things

All the love that she put into that place, the care that she gave it, the dedication with which she cleaned and arranged and decorated and just lived.

It was nice to see many of her plants still thriving and in bloom

and to visit her garden with the little shed where she used to rest. As expected it was kind of sad, but it was also happy. Reassuring somehow to see that life goes on. 

That though Mom is no longer tending her garden, her garden continues to grow with the energy she imparted to it all those years.  

When I was growing up, we had no shower in the house so we used to wash up in the brook. 

So it was no real hardship that we had no running water for this weekend. When we needed to freshen up, 

we just gave the dogs a holler, they came galloping along down the hill from the house and down to the brook, 

where there's still roughly the same configuration of rocks that was there when I was a kid. 

So Florian could still wash up in the "deep pot" close to the rock bridge, 

which was where the horse-drawn carriages used to go before there was a road.  

And while he did that, I could walk along the brook surrounded by the mosses and ferns and trees that I grew up with, and the dogs could run and sniff and zoom and climb on a beaver dam and get wet and run some more. 

I love that forest. The water, the ferns, the moist forest floor covered in fragrant pine needles, 

the mushrooms and the red salamanders, the fresh woody smell, the silence.

I love the thought that we can always go back there and camp or stay in a B & B, and not have to worry about the house or the water or the memories or about being Senior Coordinator, and just enjoy the woods and the trails. 

What a great support network and mood elevator, to have those dogs around. 

They're not worried about old memories or family stresses, they just know that Mom would have wanted them to have a blast

 and bury Milk Bones in her gardens, and come back with a filthy nose. 

There was no TV or internet, 

but Uncle Johnny and Florian had the brilliant idea of bringing some DVDs for entertainment. 

So we even managed to have a nice, relaxing time in the evenings. 

And when there was a thunderstorm on the second night, and I was finally exhausted and relaxed after two nights of lying awake worrying about the house and my dad and what exactly I was doing bringing an 82-year-old and an 87-year-old man to a remote house with no running water and no internet or phone, 

there was nothing to do except just go cuddle up and sleep. 

Right Fozzie?