Merry and bright

Happy happy, everyone!

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Giving Thanks, Year 3

November 28, 2016

(I’m not going to lie.  These are quickly becoming my favorite annual posts.)

Year 1, we asked you to click.

Year 2, we asked you to share.

Year 3?  Well friends, it’s time to give back.  We’re asking you to do something to help someone in a situation you found yourself in this year.

Let me explain.

If you follow our blog, you know we had a rough year.  We fought and we celebrated and we reacted and we lost.  We still mourn.

When MJ first received her diagnosis, we struggled with doing what was right for her while balancing our home budget.  It’s gross to have to make decisions for your furbabies based on finances, but that was our truth.  We were willing to swipe-now/worry-later and put everything else on hold (trips, home renovations, fancy dinners) to chip away at the debt, however long it would take.  She was worth it.  We’d do it again.

Our friends encouraged us to establish a Go Fund Me page, and they generously contributed to her veterinary expenses.  Every little bit helped: there were times when those unexpected gifts allowed us to say “yes” to the next test, the next treatment, the next step.

This year, we are working with Southpaws to fund one radiation treatment for a family  whose dog is battling the same type of brain cancer as MJ did.  The family won’t know us, and we won’t know them.  What we will know is that we took away the burden of one day.

And so, friends: think back on this year.  In your time of need, what would have helped you most?  Can you make that help happen for someone else?

Leave us a comment and let us know how you give back!

Street Animals of Cuba

October 26-30, 2016

We went to Cuba.  It’s a magnificent and startling and complicated place.

Doodle went to camp for his own adventure.  We missed him, but we were lucky to have a house-dog.  Our casa, the large house in which we rented a room, has a wiggly boxer named Pike who is curious, sweet and extremely well-behaved.

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He’d greet us in the morning and when we returned from the day’s excursions.  We brought in smells from America as well as places in the city he’d never visited.  We hadn’t expected to have a trip mascot, but he was a wonderful surprise.

Something else we didn’t expect– that we didn’t know to ask about in advance to emotionally prepare for– were amount of stray animals.  Because why would we?  How would we know that we’d see dogs and cats, puppies and kittens roaming around appearing generally well-fed but still showing the wear-and-tear of street living?

Some of them joined our tours for a stroll around a square and or exploring Hemingway’s Finca Vigia, vocally letting our guide know how much they liked her explanations.

In some places, dogs wear string collars with index-sized cards attached, like the pup perched on James’ lap.  The cards are handwritten and include the animal’s name.  They mean that someone feeds the dogs regularly.  These animals are still strays, but someone nearby looks out for them.

And yet, with so many animals in need of homes or stability, puppies are sold on the street, costing more than the annual salary of local doctors.

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In Cuba, there is veterinary care.  There is a spay and neuter program through animal welfare groups to try to control the stray population.  There is no such thing as dog food:  domesticated animals like Pike eat whatever their humans eat.  Pike’s breakfast was an enormous portion of freshly cooked rice and boiled beans, and sometimes chicken.  Cubans who own pets or who take care of them share their monthly food rations with them.

Together, James and I took close to 400 pictures.  So many are of the animals that hang around public spaces solo or in packs, calmly approaching humans for food or affection or sniffs.  Sleeping.  Prowling.  Co-existing with the bustle of the city.

And no, we didn’t come home with a new furbaby.  We’d never have gotten out and they’d never have gotten in.  But like so much of our trip, they’re going to be with us as we process our experiences.

Snugglin’

This is pretty much how they used to snuggle together.  He’s settle and she’d interlope. 

Tonight, he curled up in her place and shifted the pad around. And sighed. 


He hasn’t settled there since she left us. Maybe it’s ok now?  

Bud, an update

YOU GUYS YOU GUYS.

 

Last November we introduced you to some new friends, Diamond and Bud.  We sponsored their adoption fees with the hope that they would find good, loving homes after being long-term residents at Alley Cat Rescue.

In March,we we shared the good news that Diamond was adopted and on her way to her new, furever home.  We also mentioned that Bud was off on an adventure of his own to Anne Arundel county, for additional training and some new surroundings.

This morning we’ve learned the BUD WAS ADOPTED!  What a wonderful way to end the week.

#ADOPTDONTSHOP

Keeping Cool

July 2016

It’s.  So.  Hot.

Summertime in the suburbs of DC always swelters.  Humidity.  Tourists.  So much gross.

To keep cool this year, we’re relying on our old stand-bys:

Frozen Nibbles:  Zozo will do anything for frozen green beans and/or banana slices.  We put them on top of his dried food or use them as treats after short trips outside.  He’ll wait (im)patiently for them when we come inside.

why must you torture me with “wait”?

 When he was younger, we could sate him with ice cubes.  As he’s aged, he’s less interested in them.  But frozen treats seem to do the trick.

Basement dwelling:  it’s like we have an adolescent human boy.  He lurks in the dark corners of the basement, drawn out only by promises of food.  It’s cool.  It’s dark.  Quiet.  There’s video games and instruments.  He loves it.  And he’s reluctant to come up or share the couch.  Or he’s under it.

Dorothy Affect, basement version

Close crops: like it or not, we cut off all of his fur for the summer.  His shaggy, flat black coat is unbearable in the sunshine and heat.  He’s groomed closed to his skin– so close that you can see how white his belly is.  And it makes me laugh when he’s sleek and skin-y.

Water sports:  Zozo loves to swim.  Loves it.  He like to splash and paddle and chase balls.  We don’t have a pool at our disposal, so we often take him to Old Towne Pet Resort for a dip and a bath.

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Tell us!  How do you stay cool when it’s hot outside?  What are some things we should try?

Scrambling: Crozet, VA (Cville, Pt 1)

April 22, 2016

I’m a planner.  We’ve discussed this.  I’m happiest when I get to organize, when there’s a to-do list, and when I can track my accomplishments.  I get frustrated and disappointed when my hard work  is undone by things that are outside of my control.  But I’m also the person you want on your side in a crisis.  Change is good.  I’m flexible.  Two opposite people living in my little virgo body.  The struggle is real.

We like to take trips with the dogs.  The Outer Banks, Asheville, Woodstock (which I neglected to blog about but I’ll get back to)… this year is no different.  For our very first “just us three” trip, Zo, James and I set our sights on Charlottesville, VA.  We heard it was a great place to hang out: funky, historic, walkable, pet-friendly.  I rented a house.  I made reservations for dinners.  We made “excursion” plans.  And then we changed them on the fly.

See, on our way to Charlottesville, we planned to take a slight detour along Skyline Drive and take Zo for a hike.  Our travel plans coincided with the commencement of year-long activities celebrating the Centennial of the National Park Service.  We were excited to hike newly refurbished, blazed trails; to shake off the city and work and stress and enjoy the fresh, clean air.

In the days leading up to our trip, the news began reporting of a wildfire along Skyline.  We tracked the fire and changed our route. Every day in the week leading up to the trip, we tracked and changed and tracked and changed.  Thousands of acres of forest were destroyed.  Skyline closed.  Our big “WE’RE ON VACATION” moment came to a halt.

So I stressed and planned.  The morning of our departure, I nooked into the corner of the couch, laptop perched on my knees, looking for solid hikes do-able with a dog.  I hounded James with links and maps and “what abouts.”  He told me to calm down.  I scowled a lot. Zozo slept.  And then I found it: Humpback Rocks in Crozet, VA.  45 minutes from Charlottesville along the Blue Ridge Mountains.

We packed the car, strapped the pup in, and hit the road.  I felt better.

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And then the rain started.  It rained fairly steadily the entire drive.  When it wasn’t raining, it was misting.   But I was going to hike, dammit.  And so, we did.

Because of the rain, the trail was ours.  The site reads it’s a little over two miles and strenuous.  You climb 1,240 feet.  I don’t know what we expected.  No, that’s a lie, I do.  We expected strenuous to mean this:

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Ok, so here’s a preview of our Woodstock trip.  This is the Mount Overlook trail.  It was 3 miles up a sharp pitch.

And it was that.  And more… much more.

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Checking the map and trail warnings before we started out.  There was a warning that the trail is slippery when wet.  SO WHAT, I SAY!

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When we started out, there was finally a break in the rain.  It was short-lived. (see, looks a little like the Woodstock photo)

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Like clockwork, Zozo took a pit stop 1/4 of a mile from a trash can.  Instead of carrying it the rest of the way, James humped back down to the trailhead to dispose of the bag.  He’s a hero.

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Just a dog and his boy.  Ahead, there be boulders.  The trail became all scramble.

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I figured you might not believe me.  See. Boulder.  Oh, and it’s raining again.

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I might have said something stupid like, “that wasn’t so terrible, and now there are stairs.”  Silly Kari.

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Picking our way to the top.

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Look at that smile.  He’s having the best day ever.

The three of us are stubborn.  James delightfully (for me) goes along with my terrible ideas.  Zozo is part goat, scampering and hopping along like a fearless puppy (he’s 9).  The rain wouldn’t stop us.  And the final view… totally, absolutely worth the stress.

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Covered in mud and more damp than dry, we made our way back down the mountain.  Someone fell on their tush (hint, it wasn’t me).  We piled back in and made the drive to Charlottesville.  More on that later.

Daily Prompt, April 7: Tricky

“Hiding” and “quiet” are not two things we do well.

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Idea courtesy of The Daily Prompt.

Bud and Diamond: UPDATE

Remember these two?

 

I’ve heard from our friends from Alley Cat Rescue, and they have a great update for us:

Diamond, the Staffy-mix with the derpy tongue on the right, has found her forever home.  Three weeks ago, Diamond’s forever family fell in love with her toothy grin and goofy nature and brought her home.  AND SHE LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER.

Bud the lab-mix (on the left) is more… particular about his humans. Here’s what that means: he needs a seasoned/experience dog owner.  He likes some humans more than others.  Just like you (human, reading this post) don’t like everyone, dogs are also occasionally picky about their human companions.  That’s ok!  Alley Cat Rescue partnered with the ASPCA of Anne Arundel County, and Bud and his waived adoption fee have been transferred to them.  He’s working with a trainer every day while he waits for his best-match family.  You can read his profile here.

We’re so excited these two are doing so well.

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Let’s talk about this guy

February 1, 2016

 

When we moved into our house so many years ago, we worried that Zozo was lonely.  That he needed company when we were out of the house.  We thought he could use a companion’s example to follow when his social anxiety acts up.  And so, we brought MJ home.

When we let MJ go in late December, we again worried that Zozo would be lonely.  That his behavioral challenges would become exacerbated in her absence.  We had no idea how we would manage his grief along with ours.

For the first few days, he would look around for her: at meal times, in the yard, when he hopped on the couch for some snuggles.  The house is quiet and still.  It’s cold without the constant pittie shadow-slash-lap-blanket.

Long story very short: Zozo is amazing.  Yes, he’s anxious on-leash without her example.  Yes, he still barks at noises outside tgat we cannot see. He’s also silly and chatty and affectionate.  He’s enjoying the one-on-one with the humans.  He hops on our bed for pre-lights out snoozing.  His goofy personality is on display.  We’re dressing him in his jaunty kerchiefs and bow ties (ok, I’m dressing him).  It’s as if he’s coming out of his shell again.

 

It’s helped our mourning to laugh at him… with him; to enjoy being just us three.  He asks about her.  He sleeps with her crate towel.  We’re finding a new routine, the three of us.

The bundle in the top left corner is her crate towel.