Report Card

January 16, 2017

I suppose I shouldn’t laugh?

Giving Thanks, Year 2

December 2015

Last year, we asked you to click click click to make a pup’s dream come true.  This year, we’re just asking you to share.

We’re very excited to introduce you to Bud and Diamond.  These wonderful dogs have been looking for homes for well over a year.  We made friends with the folks at Alley Cat Rescue, who told us all about them.  We’re hoping to make things a little easier for them.

peanut butter & cheese is proud to sponsor the adoption fees for Bud and Diamond.  Check out this guest blog.  Share their stories.  Share their pictures.  Let’s help these two find a furever home– they’ve been waiting for a long, long time.


Alley Cat Rescue is a nonprofit and no-kill rescue organization, located in Mt. Rainier, MD. As the organization name would suggest, our main focus is on cats, but over the years Alley Cat Rescue has also helped many dogs to find homes as well. The staff at Alley Cat Rescue are lovers of all animals, and when we see a dog in need we just have to step in. As a cat rescue, we do not get in a lot of foot traffic in search of dogs, so we have two dogs at our facility that we have really struggled to find homes for. Bud and Diamond are fantastic dogs that just need someone to give them a chance! So this week Kari is letting us share their stories with all of you, in hopes that this post will help them to find their forever homes or a temporary foster home that will get these two out of kennels while we continue to search for a forever family for Bud and Diamond. Kari has also generously sponsored Bud and Diamond’s adoptions, so there will be no fee to adopt either of them.

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Diamond is an American Staffordshire terrier and Pointer mix. She is about 2 years old and weighs about 60 pounds. Diamond has been at Alley Cat Rescue’s facility for over a year and a half. Actually, as I write this post, today is day 556 that Diamond has been at our facility. She is sweet, loving, and energetic. She does well with other dogs and children of all ages. She is a true nanny dog and loves to interact with children. However, she does not do well with cats.

We have been working on basic commands with her and she knows sit, paw, roll over, and lay down. She is currently working on learning to stay and leash training. She can be very active when she is outside, but as soon as she gets indoors she becomes a couch potato. Diamond was found outside of the animal hospital Alley Cat Rescue partners with when she was about 6 months old. She wandered up to their door one day and Alley Cat Rescue agreed to help her find a home. We suspect that she may have been abandoned at the animal hospital by a former owner who hoped the animal hospital would make sure Diamond was safe. It has now been a year and a half since Diamond arrived at our doors and we are desperate to find her a loving family.


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Bud is a lab mix. He is about 5 years old and weighs almost 100 pounds. Bud has been at the Alley Cat Rescue facility for 397 days today. He is extremely loyal, loving, and playful. He is a very people oriented dog, and he doesn’t care for other dogs or cats; he would rather have his people all to himself! Once he gets to know a person he will follow them anywhere and try to be as close to them as he possibly can. Bud is the perfect name for this sweet boy, because he really just wants to be everyone’s best friend! He can also be protective of his new human friends, so we think it would be a good idea if his new human family exposes him to as many people as they can, as often as they can once they bring him home.


Bud loves to have a toy with him and he will carry a toy in his mouth as long as you let him, he loves to bring them on his walks! He gets so attached to his toys, that he can be toy aggressive. So we think it would be best if he went to a home with older children. We have been working on his toy aggression and he has improved some, but we would encourage any adopter to continue working with him. Bud is fantastic with training! With a little time, you could teach him any trick your heart desires. We have worked with him on sit, stay, lay down, roll over, and he is learning to play dead. He does well on a leash with a no-pull harness, but he can become startled by loud buses or large groups of people approaching him while on his walks.  When this happens he just needs to be reminded that he is safe and changing the direction you are walking with him often helps.

Alley Cat Rescue pulled Bud from a high kill county shelter early last November where he was set to be euthanized the same day that he arrived. An Alley Cat Rescue staff member was at the shelter pulling cats off of death row and saw Bud and just had to intervene. She recognized that Bud was terrified of the shelter environment and deserved a chance; so she packed up Bud along with 5 cats into her car and got them to Alley Cat Rescue where they would all be given an endless amount of time to find their forever families.

                                                                  – – –

Both Bud and Diamond are spayed/neutered, up-to-date on all vaccines, and micro-chipped. And thanks to Kari’s generosity their adoption fees have been sponsored! There will be no fee to adopt Bud or Diamond. Check out Bud and Diamond’s profiles on Petfinder for more information on these two dogs or any of the other animals available for adoption from Alley Cat Rescue .

Bud and Diamond are really great dogs; we have just not been able to bring in people who are looking for dogs to our facility. We are happy to care for Bud and Diamond until they find their forever families, but they have been here for far too long and we want a better life for them. Please consider adopting or fostering Bud or Diamond. If you are not local to the DC/Maryland/Virginia area, that’s okay! We are willing to transport Bud and Diamond anywhere it takes to find them their forever families! We would also be happy to set them up with a foster caretaker and cover all food and medical expenses while they are under foster care. If you are not able to adopt or foster, please consider sharing their stories for us and help them find the forever families they have been waiting for. Help us make this holiday season their best ever!


October 2014

Your dog is friendly. Well-behaved. He likes other dogs.

Who cares? I don’t. I’m terrified and a little traumatized and I’m thinking we need to find another place to work our distance sit-stays.

Because your friendly, well-behaved dog who likes other dogs just came charging around a blind corner with his leash dragging behind him, no owner in sight.

MJ saw him first. Her ears perked up before he’d even cleared the corner, and she released her sit-stay and sprinted the 15ft distance between us while I tried to gather the training leash and figure out what the hell was happening. By the time she cleared me and I turned to see what had caught her attention, your friendly well-behaved, human-less dog was 50-40-30-20 feet from us.

That’s when you rolled around the corner at a quick walking pace, phone in hand: “HE’S FRIENDLY”. You waved.

“WE’RE NOT,” I yelled. I panicked. MJ doesn’t greet other dogs well on-leash. Something about being restrained.

I’m trying to keep our leash taut with one hand while reaching to keep the dogs separated with the other. My feet are trying to establish boundaries, and I stuck out one leg and then another to keep distance between the eager visitor and our girl. I braced for a bite.

When you finally caught up, you explained that he must have heard our squeaky toy reward and that drew his attention from his dropped-leash sprinting in the field around the corner where you watched from the shade of a tree. You still haven’t picked up his leash.

“We’re leaving. Please hold your dog so we can we pass.”

MJ foamed. She half barked, half screamed because she wanted to say hi and I wouldn’t let her play. She looked… well… at that moment she looked like those horrible propaganda photos of pit bulls.

Our leash-walking protocols were completely out the window as we hustled home. I kept turning around to make sure we didn’t have a follower. I forced myself not to cry. MJ was cranked to eleven.

We’re lucky to live in a very dog-friendly neighborhood. Shepards and collies and bullies and yorkies shuffle by each other during more constitutions with civility and respect. The people and pooches are familiar. Leashes are required, and community spaces are specifically marked “No Pets Off Leash.”

This was a strange dog and a strange human. The rules were broken.

I’m glad you have a friendly, well-behaved dog. I want to believe this was an accident and you lost the leash. But I don’t think that happened, because there would have been more urgency in your recovery, especially when you lost sight of your dog. If not then, then maybe when you saw my terror.

We’re all safe. We’re lucky nothing escalated and no one was scratched or nipped. Because if things had gone badly, getting myself and my dog out of that situation would have been my priority.

And I don’t really want to spend time on what-ifs. Instead, I’d like you to hold on to your dog.

Where we struggle

August 2014

As we very publicly announced last week, MJ and Zozo are embarking on Canine Good Citizenship (CGC) certification training.  We’re buckling down and recommitting to a training regimen, which is good for everyone.

It’s going to be tough.  We’ll be breaking  bad habits, changing the direction of our previous training programs and working hard to ace the 10-part test.  In my last post, I indicated it’s going to be a year-long training program.  Maybe it will be longer; it all depends on the dogs.  We don’t want to overwhelm them or push them too far too fast.  And really, there’s only so much American Cheese I can take under my fingernails.

As we’ve started to return to the basics this week, I’ve been keeping a mental list of where we need the most work and where I expect our individual stubbornness will throw up obstacles.  Here’s what I’ve go so far:

  • Prong Collars to Harnesses.  CGC candidates may not test on prong collars or gentle leaders.  As I wrote last week, removing the prongs was a debacle.  It’s like we’d never walked on leash before, and the whole world was meant for crossed leashes and blistered mommy hands.  We’ve made the change to Easy Walk harnesses, and we’re back on track.  It’s taking the dogs some time to get accustomed to the feel of the harness across their shoulders, and I’m still figuring out how to walk them without needing to flip the leash over their heads every 3 minutes.  We’ll figure it out.


  • Leave it.  Boy, the world is full of sniffs.  And it doesn’t matter if we walked by that one lamp post two minutes ago or yesterday… we have to stop and sniff and mark and sniff and sniff again.  Outside, with so many senses engaged and so much newness, it’s near impossible to call “leave it” and move along like sensible folks.sniffs

So instead, we’re starting from Step 1 with their meals.  I bring their food to their eating spots, and they have to sit and leave the bowl until I release them (“take it”).  If they lunge toward the food, I remove it.  Setting the puppy table for dinner can take a few minutes now.  Zo’s fairly good about this cue, except if he’s on to the scent of something interesting outside.

  • Sit and stay.  Years ago, our on-leash dogs would sit every time we came to a stop.  Street corners, car doors, random slow downs in the walking speed.  We’ve let them get a little lax.  That’s on us.  Not any more.  You’re waiting for dinner- sit. sit

You’re waiting for me to put on my shoes to take you out– sit!  You’re waiting for me to open the gate because you can’t push your way through– Sit!  We’re at a busy crosswalk with lots of traffic– SIT!  MJ seems to be having the most difficult time with this one.  I often get the “you’re slowing my roll” look of judgement from her.  Fine.  No cheese for you.

  • One at a time.  When MJ leaves the house by herself, she’s confident and excited at the adventures before her.  When Zozo leaves the house by himself, the world is his oyster and it’s business as usual.  When I take Zozo out the door and leave MJ behind, MJ freaks out.  She screams, she cries, she sits in the window anxiously awaiting his return.  It’s painful for us to hear her so upset, and I can’t imagine the anxiety she feels lessens as time passes.  So we’ll try to divide and conquer: half the time they’ll train together, half the time apart.  James will take one and I’ll take the other.  Maybe we can get MJ out of the house first before she notices that Zo is going in a different direction.  Separating the little girl from her big brother is the worst.
  • Squirrels.  I just can’t with this.
  • Walking in the rain.  Look, I’m not thrilled with this either, but the more they fight with me, the longer the walk takes.  And then we’re all unhappy.  So I guess we’ll throw a party and up-the-treat-ante to make it a special occasion.
  • Staying at a distance/being handled by strangers.  MJ will want to lick everyone and wiggle and smile and break hearts.  Zozo will be cool for a while, until we disappear from his view.  Then he’ll lose it.  This is where our friends will come in!  We’ll be enlisting folks to help handle and train as we get further into our program (and after the winter months).
  • Laziness.  Long days, stressful work, illness.  We humans need to keep the commitment going.  We can’t expect the dogs to take themselves for walks (that would be something).  We can’t slack on correcting or praising and rewarding behavior.  Really, it’s on us.

There’s more.  I’m sure there’s more.  And we’ll find out together.

Time to get our hands dirty

June 2014

When you own a dog, you resign yourself to a certain level of mess in your life.  Muddy paw prints on carpet after rain.  Snout marks stamping upholstery.  Dog hair on everything and in everything.  Discovering a hole in the pick-up baggie the hard way.  Water bowl slosh-over.  Slobbery kisses after a particularly rough day, leaving your cheeks perfectly exfoliated. Tumbleweeds of fur rolling through your living room despite daily swifferings.

All of this I was ready to accept as a fur-mom.  I could handle it, to a degree.

But what I never really prepared for– what other furparents don’t disclose– is cheese squished under your fingernails.  Pants pockets dusty with biscuit crumbs.  Hot dog grease clinging to the grooves of my fingers.

Treats. Smell.  And the higher the value, the more potent.

I’m always looking for ways to reward our dogs for good behavior and well-executed cues. Something yummy and different, but not full of junk. Carrots, fresh green beans, apples and bananas are frequent fare during our “You Did It!” exaltations.  But for those really tough recalls, the getting attention away from woodland creatures and UPS delivery drivers, we need more. Hence the stinky treats.

Reading through various blogs, I came across Pitlandia, a blog about a rescue pittie living in Portland.  Athena and her mommy are very sporty and on-the-go, and we like reading about their adventures.  Occasionally they post product reviews, and I was particularly intrigued by Love It: LeanLix.

Based in Seattle, Washington, LeanLix was developed by Gracie the Yellow Lab and her mom (Sharon).  One snowy winter, Sharon was training puppy Grace in the snow, and grabbed a jar of fluff.  Grace did a trick, the lid came off and Grace got a lick.  Inspiration struck!

As their website says, LeanLix is “a reward that could be licked, low calorie and have health benefits (all while keeping all 5 fingers intact)”… exactly what we’re looking for!  With big plans for summer adventures, we thought we’d give LeanLix a whirl.

I actually ended up speaking with Sharon on the phone when I placed my order.  She was enthusiastic, friendly and so excited about her product and our dogs.  We chatted breeds, best LeanLix deployment techniques, and flavors our pups respond to.  Later that week, our treats arrived complete with a Gracie sticker!

IMG_1301LeanLix are packaged in tubes that resemble chapstick, and they work the same way: twist the bottom to dispense more treat!  They come in “littlelix,” like our Spring Training 6-pack, and “Big Dog.”  The flavors we’ve tried are bark bq, run-a-way frank, day at the beach, cupcake on the counter, grace d-luxe with cheese, and 1/2 eaten pb&j sandwich.  It looks like new flavors are being added every day. While our furbabies like them all, they’re most greedy about licking the grace d-luxe and run-a-way frank.

Here’s what we’ve found:  MJ and Zozo were a little leery of the treat delivery system at first, but once they tasted them, they were hooked.  The littlelix fit in pants pockets, while the Big Dog comes with a neck lanyard for easy carrying.  They get excited when the tubes come out of our treat jars, and they’d gladly run away with a littlelix if we’d let them.  Our hands are clean, our dogs are happy.  I’m happy.  Did I mention 3 licks equals zero calories and they don’t break the bank?

If you’re looking for something new, check out their site and give Sharon a call (you can also order them online, but I like talking to entrepreneurs).  She’s wonderful, they’re wonderful, and Gracie’s sticker is too darn cute.  Tell her MJ and Zozo sent you!

Cabin Fever

January 2014

Well, it’s cold.  It’s winter and there’s snow and ice and salt and it’s cold.  Other than Zozo, no one is particularly interested in romping around outside in the bitter, biting air.

Unfortunately, between the chill and renovations in the house, there’s not a lot of room for the dogs to burn off energy.  Poor timing on our part.  Oops.

Sure, we’re getting our investment’s worth in our toys, including ones they’re usually not interested in, because now they’re new and exciting and something to do.  (This must be how my parents felt when my sister and I became restless during snow days:  Let’s play Risk!  Why not watch “Bedknobs and Broomsticks“? But I digress.)  MJ, though, will hoard them, leaving Zozo to retreat to one of his favorite flopping spots to sulk.

Mama, the little girl won't share!

Mama, the little girl won’t share!

We’re playing exploring games like “Go find the treat,” in which we hide biscuits and let the dogs hunt for them (“Find It!”). Sometimes we hide them in treat toys, but the pups tend to get too aggressive in their pursuit of the yummies.


We’re working on refreshing our trainings: SIT!

"Lady's first, Doodle," says MJ as she physically pushes Zo to the back of the treat line.

“Ladies first, Doodle,” says MJ as she physically pushes Zo to the back of the treat line.


We’re finding new ways to burn off steam, sort of.

We may or may not be tolerant and/or cooperative about snuggling to keep extra warm.

IMG_1074 IMG_1073


And no matter what, we’ve got two extra shadows stalking around behind us.

Whachoo doin' Mama?  Makin' a snack?

Whachoo doin’ Mama? Makin’ a snack?


-We like snacks very much Mama. Don’t forget about house rules!

But let’s be real.  We’re going stir-crazy.  We need something new.  Anyone have suggestions?

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]


We have a problem.

An issue?

A challenge?

No, this really feels like a problem. And I’m putting it out to you, dear readers, for help.

Zozo, who is scared of his own shadow, has started speaking up. Not just speaking up, yelling.

FedEx truck pulls up?

A kid rides by on a bicycle?
“There is human puppy driving a contraption! GO AWAY! WHERE ARE YOU GOING? WHAT ARE YOU RIDING? WHERE ARE YOU GOING?!”

A doorbell rings on TV, and he loses it at the door (note: we don’t have a doorbell. We have a knocker. Let’s not even talk about that.) A car door slams and he can see it’s me or James, he wigs. MJ chortles in her sleep; WOOF WOOF.

We’re tried a terse “No.” We’ve tried an abrupt “Uh Uh.” We’ve tried to redirect his attention or focus on completing a cue (Place. Sit. Down.) Dulcet, calming tones. We’ve tried.

Barks abound.

I’ve read around, but…. Who has suggestions? Have you tempered your barker?


As the summer starts to wind down, we’re busy planning for the fall.  So, I have to keep things brief this week.

Several years ago, when we took Zozo to the Outerbanks for the first time, we discovered he was quite the water dog.  So, we’ve looked for opportunities around the house for him to continue to work on his swimming technique.

Lucky for us, Olde Towne Pet Resort is like Disneyland for dogs (more on them later), and they have a fantastic indoor lap pool.  And Zo visits to use the pool.

We call them Zozo’s swim lessons, because we’re (I’m) those kind of people.  Strapped into a life vest and with a personal lifeguard paddling alongside, Zozo spends a half hour getting fantastic exercise.



As do we, since we walk beside the pool as he laps.

(Please note the way he sheepishly glances at the camera, as though I’m embarrassing-slash-annoying his pool time.  Your spot’s been blown, buddy.)

16 reasons to not own a dog

1. let’s start with the obvious: you won’t handle poop. or wipe up after a variety of biological accidents.


2. you like sleeping in.

3. you dislike being outside in the extreme cold.

4. you dislike being outside in the extreme heat.

5. you cannot read minds.

6. you think that only adolescents cast shade or judge you (sort-of) silently.

7. the thought of handling treats containing liver, giblet, “hot dog”, marrow or antler make your stomach lurch.

8. you want to be in charge of the remote control. or just find the remote control.

9. you want to sit on the couch.


10. you prefer to not have Doritos-scented feet thrust in your face during cuddle-time.

11. the idea of a single doorbell, instead of the doorbell/barking duo, is already too much noise.

12. a quiet house provides solace, instead of panic.

13. if you prefer food and clothes without a side of fur. or snout-goo.

14. required daily exercise just isn’t your thing.


15. a dog wearing a coat, snood, bow tie, tutu, boots, hoodies and corresponding leash (maybe all at once) is repugnant.

16. you don’t want to talk to strangers.