You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry, Part II

This is a big week for us.  This week, PB&Cheese proudly publishes its 50th post.  We are so thankful for our readers, our sharers and our cheerleaders.

For weeks, I’ve bent James’ ear, trying to figure out what to write about since this is sort of a big deal (to me).  What story haven’t I told?  What story needs to be told?

Last night, I was in the middle of writing a post about Zozo when a pal called.  She was upset.  People close to her had said mean, hurtful things about her wonderful furbaby.  We talked, commiserating about ignorance and intolerance against our girls.  After we got off the phone, my brain continued the conversation.

Instead of a sentimental rhapsody about a morning ritual that Zo and I have, you instead get this: a mini rant.  No cute pictures of dogs napping or romping or playing.  Sorry (not sorry).

In our almost 6 years of dog ownership, I have “learned” the following:

1.  big dogs are terrifying to people (we have one big dog).

2.  pit bulls are the Worst Breed Ever (we have one pit bull).

3.  people who own big dogs and pit bulls are horrible people (that’s us).

4.  pit bulls are un-trainable and mean-spirited.

5.  both dogs will maim us given the opportunity.

6. dogs will destroy your home.

People, and I know you’re mostly the choir here… but people.  Please.  None of these things are true.  You want the truth?

Dogs are loving.  They are loyal.  They know when they’re safe and they know when they’re scared and they will do anything for praise and affection.  Pit Bulls are smart and silly and fiercely protective of the people who protect them.  Big dogs are exuberant and they don’t always know their own size, and they like to lean and give hugs and bound up to you to say “Hi” and give kisses.

They want to learn and they want to please.  They crave a job to do, and they work so hard to do it well.  They would never hurt anyone unless that person was hurting them (or me or James).  Sure, neither is particularly gentle with squirrels, but that’s a different argument for a different day.  We love our dogs.  We care for them like they’re our children.  They’re messy and sticky and occasionally one of them dents the drywall (by the way, you know what else exhibits this behavior?  Toddlers.  Let’s lock them up next to the scary demon dogs).  We have been through the ringer with them.  Neither will turn on us because we all need each other   They know that.  We know that.

You know what does leave a mark?  Dirty looks, rude comments and an obstinate mind.  We wouldn’t be out if our dogs were a menace.  We wouldn’t go on adventures if we weren’t certain they’d come when called or greet other humans with respect and patience. We wouldn’t have people over if we didn’t think the dogs could behave themselves socially.  They can’t understand when you don’t want to play or accept kisses, but they can read that look in your eyes and the change in your posture, and they feel they’ve done something wrong. They don’t know what, but something has gone afoul.  They hurt.

So think about that when you run your mouth to someone with a “dangerous” dog.  You’re criticizing their pet.  A member of their family.  You’re insulting that person.  That to me is more mean-spirited than anything I have ever witnessed an animal do.

[dismounting soap box]

You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry

July 2011

Our little girl is coming along nicely.  Yes, she’s bull-headed and pushy and choosy with her crate-training.  Yes, she can leap clear over the top of her baby gate and make herself comfortable on the couch.  But she’s sweet and loves to snuggle.  She barrels into closed doors at the right speed and oomph to pop them open so she can investigate the happenings on the other side.  She wags her entire body.

And Zozo is amazing.  He’s patient and kind and ignores the little girl until she needs to be yapped into line.  He shows off his cues and proves to be a great big brother and occassional alpha.

Individually, they’re wonderful.  Together, they’re their own little wolf pack.  It’s delightful.

photo (2)

We’re excited to introduce MJ to the people and places we love to take Zo.  We call to schedule her for a bath.

“How old is she?”

“Oh, almost 8 months.”




“Catahoula/Pit mix.”

“…Hold on…. (hold muzaq).. I’m sorry, we don’t groom Pits.”

“Oh, but she’s very sweet and has never shown any signs of aggression.  She loves kids-“

“Sorry, no Pit Bulls.”  Click.

This happens with the daycare we like to take Zozo to.  The Yappy Hour.  I begin noticing people avoiding our pink bully as we puppy-lurch down the road (our leash skills could use some work).  MJ doesn’t understand; she just wants to shimmy and play and give kisses.

I find myself shying away from admitting she’s Pit-mixed.  “She’s Catahoula with some kind of American breed– boxer maybe.”  It’s a lie no one falls for.  She may be gloriously speckled, but her snout is all Pit. 

photo (2)

And I feel like a coward for betraying her heritage.

Gradually, when I call to make plans for spa days, daycare, boarding and training, I start the conversation off with the following phrase:

Do you have breed restrictions?

The question becomes part of our vernacular.  The answer? Unsurprising: can’t, no pit bulls. 

We became one of those families.  We’re young, living in the suburbs.  We have two rescue dogs.  One is a Pit Bull.  Obviously we’re dangerous drug dealers or thugs and criminals, and she’s vicious. 

And that’s when I get mad.



Why MJ is the best puppygirl in the world. By MJ. Naturally.

Y’all: Mama said I could use this as an opportunity for y’all to get to know me. She spends way too much time focusing on Doodle and not enough time on MJ. And I say it’s about time for me.

Here am I, Southern belle and one tough cookie. I’m part leopard, part bull, part puppy and all internet sensation. That’s a lot of awesome. Here’s my selfie:

It's ok.  You can tell me how cute I am.

Mama and Daddy say it’s a good thing I’m so cute, because I’m a menace. What do I menace? Thank you for asking: squirrels, birds, Mama, Doodle, Daddy, the cat.

I also steal the blankets (allegedly):379897_2749150640878_72146328_n

Let’s see… my absolute favorite things in the world are Kraft American Cheese slices, giving kisses, wiggling, chasing squirrels and running in circles around the tree, being stinky, and sleeping on squishy human things (beds and couches… now, now, I’m a lady). I may or may not have a tattoo on my belly.


Oh, I also love running zoomies and biting Doodle’s rear right leg. And Direwolves. I luv me some Direwolves.

I’m a good girl. I’m a sweet girl. I’m a pibble ambassapup.



Lessons Learned by New Fur Parents, Part II

 April – May 2011

1.  Adopting a puppy is the perfect excuse to get Lasik eye surgery.  This will really hit home the first time you stumble outside in the middle of the night for a pit-stop (get it?) without glasses and the puppy bolts into the darkness of the yard after a squirrel/bird/shadow/you couldn’t see it anyway. Blind whisper-shouting-hunting in the dark doesn’t get anything but nasty, passive aggressive comments from the Suburban Vampire Neighbors the next day.

2. Helpful hint that the Monks forgot to mention: when you have to wake up the puppy for an outting overnight, it’s time to push the alarm back an hour.  One whole, glorious hour.

3.  Know a good time to get hardwood floors installed?  When you bring home a puppy.  The floors go from looking new to weathered in a week.  PS: If you would like to borrow our dogs for a weekend to break in your new floors, just let me know.  They’re helpers, really.

4.  If the puppy doesn’t like where you’ve positioned her crate along the back of the couch, she’ll move herself.  Or, Fur-shui.IMG_0136

 5.  If the puppy doesn’t want to be in her crate, she will find a way to break out of it, after moving it and her brother’s bed across the room first.  You can also bet that the cat is hiding under the bed or on top of the fridge in response to this jailbreak.








6.  If it’s raining, you will have to carry the puppy out the door because she does not like getting her feet wet.  Also, do provide an umbrella over her delicate, princess head while she does her business.  If you don’t she’ll fake squat and wait until she’s back indoors and in her crate before relieving herself.  Annoying  Clever. Girl.

7.  This puppy will also get the “good dog discount” at the vet’s office.  Even when she’s a complete basket-case.

8.  Embrace chaos.  It’s sort of fun to live in squalor and mayhem.  Eventually the puppy will get a little more on-program (right?) and the older-brother-who-should-know-better will settle himself down (right?).  And in those moments when you think, “What have I done? I can’t handle this madness,” the little snout wakes up from an epic snuggle-nap on a lazy Sunday and looks at you like this…

"nap nose"

“nap nose”

We’re in so much trouble.

Throwback Thursday: baby MJ

Things are a little hectic this week, but I couldn’t leave you without a helping of PB&Cheese!  Please enjoy this oldie-but-goodie, taken April 13, 2011. 

At the time this picture was taken, MJ had been with us for all of one week.  It feels like she’d doubled in size since she came home.  She’s very much a puppy… but more on that later!

I will sit still for 6 seconds.  After that, I make no promises.

I will sit still for 6 seconds. After that, I make no promises.

Can you handle my truth? by Zozo

April 2011

i didn’t like the little girl the first time i met her. mom and dad had to bring me for a meet-n-sniff at the rescue place.   it smelled weird and there were a lot of barkings and new peoples.  mom and dad usually don’t make me go into those “environments” (their word) because it doesn’t “set me up for success” (Trainer Tim’s words).

i’m sniffing around a big room, and all of a sudden this little puppy runs under my tail and through my legs.  she’s beneath my belly and i can’t see her.  i get nervous and i do something i never do: i growl.  that makes mom and dad unhappy (Uh-Uh!), and the little puppy has an accident.  i tuck my tail and trot away.

dad comes over to see if i’m ok.  “hey doodle, it’s ok.  are you ok, bud? she doesn’t know her manners and we need you to try to be patient with her.”

mom is helping wipe up the accident, and i feel bad that the little girl embarrassed herself.  rookie mistake.

we try again, and this time we have a tiny milkbone treat side-by-side and i let her sniff me while mom has me sit.  dad jogs around the room and we both follow him, but the little dog is slow and her feet don’t move right.  i guess things are ok, because the little girl comes home with us.

they’re calling her mj.  i don’t even know what kind of a name that is.  it’s certainly not as regal as zozo.  she’s fuzzy and pink.

let me make one thing clear: being a big brother is hard work.  the little girl doesn’t know how to play ball or sit.  she tries to chase the cat, which is a big no-no. she doesn’t understand that sitting on the couch is a reward if you’ve been a very good boy or if you’re not feeling well.  she doesn’t even run right because her back legs work faster than her front ones. her brakes don’t work.  she snores louder than dad.  she has a lot to learn.

 oh, and dad and i are officially out-numbered by girls.  gross.

Wordless Wednesday: Say CHEESE

photo credit: Animal Welfare League of Arlington

photo credit: Animal Welfare League of Arlington, 2011

Why can’t we save them all?

May through June 2008

We’re going to get a dog.  We start telling people, “We’re getting a dog.”  Not really designer people, and since I’m a sucker for a good bleeding-heart story, we know we’ll rescue.  But from where?  With so many resources out there, and a significant lull at work, the emails flew:  links to websites and rescue societies, craigslist ads for people “looking for a new home for their pet they love so much but can’t have anymore because [insert reason here],” news stories about dogs from puppy mills and hoarders in need of a forever home (we could save one or four, right?).  We exchange more emails during the months of our dog hunt than we have during our entire courtship.

And then we find him.  I stumble across a link for a Chow/Lab mix who had been so mistreated by his previous owners that he’s gone blind.  The photos online show a dog with a perpetual smile, eyelids sewn shut, purple-tongue extended and ears open to face the world.  His profile boasts of a big, slobbery, happy boy with zero aggression-tendencies seeking a calm, forever home.  We must save him.  I send his foster-mom an application email, and the waiting begins.

 To keep busy during the waiting, I know I should do something totally unrelated to the pup.  Knit, read, take a language class, maybe clean the apartment.

 Instead, I lose my mind. 

I contact several veterinarians and scour the internet for information on how to train blind dogs. I reach out to consultants in our area specializing in “nesting” for special-needs pets.  I engage James in extensive dinner-time discussions about what scents we’d make each room in the apartment so the pup would know where he’d wandered to.  Would James feel incomplete having a dog he can’t play catch with or have as a running companion?  My wishlist fills up with toys specifically designed to engage dogs with sensory impairment.  I become the Wikipedia of blind-dog knowledge.  The Monks of New Skete are my homeboys.

But the unthinkable happens.  The foster-mom abruptly ends our correspondence and disapproves our application.  We’re perfect.  We’re gainfully employed and around.  We’re prepared to take care of whatever medical needs the pup has.  Our references are impeccable.

The response?  The apartment’s Property Managers have changed their breed policies.  No dogs with any Chow genes are welcome.  For the record, none of the following breeds are welcome: Staffordshire Terriers, Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Chows, Akitas or Dobermans.  (We’ll get back to this later.)

 And I am heart-broken.  No one would love that fur-boy like we could.  I take the news like a 14 year old girl’s big break-up from the love of her life.  I cry.  I shred pictures.  I’m angry and I decide we should move—apparently, that’s irrational of me, and so James and I fight.  We will never find another dog. (We= me making declarations.)

 James, meanwhile, is clandestinely continuing the search. Smart man.  After a week, he gently sends me the PetFinder link to a Border collie/Something mix. 

Me: Ok, he’s kind of adorable… Is that a star on his chest?

James: This fuzzy boy is living in West Virginia but can be driven to NoVa for the right family. 

Me: I don’t know, James.  Maybe we’re not the right family.

James, ignoring the previous comment/trap: Great with other dogs and cat-tested.

Me: Whatever, Athena will hate him no matter what.

James: He shows some signs of anxiety around people, men in particular.

Me: Well boys are kind of dumb, so he’s a smart dog.

James: He’ll need love and patience.

Me, perking up: I have those things.

James: Socialization exercise with humans. 

Me: We have friends!

James: The rest of his litter has already been adopted.


Homeward Trails Animal Rescue is handling the adoption applications.  We send in a form, and within 24 hours we’re contacted for references and to schedule a home visit.  If all goes well and we’re approved, the pup will be on the next transport.  Fingers crossed.