Bud, an update



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.


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.


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

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.

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!


February 27, 2014

I’ve had the opportunity to work from home recently, due to illness and snow-tastrophies and general boss-omeness (that’s “boss+awesome” for those of you who don’t fluently speak Kari).

It’s a privilege to work in my pjs, with snacks and coffee and couches in easy reach.  And puppy snuggles.

Yes, during those days when the living room/kitchen counter/office/hammock becomes my command center, our furbabies are  (mostly) ideal coworkers.

Zo typically camps out, moving between napping (The Dorothy Intervention of daylight hours) IMG_1171

and participating in conference calls.  That is, he’s a snoring, adorable mound until I unmute the phone to participate in a meeting, at which time he growls, grumbles, and provides a rousing soundtrack to my conversation.  He’s also great at interrupting people who drone on and on…What can I say?  He’s got mad skillz.

MJ takes advantage of the human-at-home-which-means-no-crate time by lounging on her puppy-approved end of the couch.


She also pops over to my workspace, to sit and stare.  And judge me.  After which she gives a big, huffy sigh and wiggles away.

She sat on the floor in that exact stop and started at me for 10 minutes straight.

She sat on the floor in that exact spot and stared at me for 10 minutes straight.

Inevitably, something adorable like this happens, which I only discover when I try to stand up and ruin the sibling-love moment by falling over them.


Helpers to the end!

Bedtime Routines

We usually don’t allow the dogs to sleep on the bed with us.  James is very tall and he requires a lot of elbow room, and I tend to travel around in my sleep.  Overnight, the bed is for humans, only.

Due to work schedules, I typically turn in before the husband.  I grab my book and tuck myself in to unwind before I fall asleep, light on with the Kindle keys pressing into my cheek.  But while I’m settling in, I have company.

Because you see, until all of the lights go out, the dogs are allowed snuggle time on the bed (GASP!  I know.  I know.  I’m not proud).  Comfort queen that she is, MJ bounds onto the bed and rearranges the blankets to her approval, burrowing until she’s a lump curled against my leg. Typically, Zozo flops down and low-crawls under the bed to his preferred sleeping space.  I call this arrangement “The Dorothy Intervention”.

Zozo prefers to sleep with his head under the bed.

But some nights, when the wind is blustering or he’s not feeling altogether himself– or he’s feeling like a big goofball– Zo hops up on the bed.  He stomps around.  He circles to find the best nesting space.

wheres mjAnd then he picks up on something.

“Mama, where’s the little girl?  Is she here?”

Sniff.  photo 3

“I can smell her, I think…” under here

Rudely interrupted with light and a cold snout invading her cave, MJ nips a warning.  Completely freaked out, Zozo backs up and falls off the bed, thudding to the floor and scampering to the door in surprise.

“Is everyone OK up there?” James calls.

“Yep, Pupper just fell off the bed again.”

MJ always feigns innocence when I lift up the blankets to scold her:

“No nipping!  That’s not nice!”

“I didn’t do nothin’!  Doodle musta just fell.”

here she is

Within minutes, Zozo is back up on the bed, circling and sniffing and running for his life.  This cycles through three or four times over the course of a half-hour.  After the second time, I frustratingly shoo everyone to their respective, separate floor spaces and quietly resume my reading.

[I know what you’re thinking: send them out of the room!  Close the door behind them!  Funny story:  MJ can take a running start and hit the door at such a speed and angle that she pops the pin and opens the door.  If the head-butting method doesn’t work, they paw at the rug and whimper, like cats.  It’s really just easier (sigh) to let them in.]

One after the other, they sneak back onto the bed.  Shenanigans ensue.

When you see me at work the next day, and I look like I’ve gotten less than, oh, 6 hours sleep, you now know why.

Share and share alike.

When Zozo was a puppy, James and I agreed- we made a pact!- that we wouldn’t give him food from the table.  There’s too much that’s not good for his stomach, we said.  We don’t want to encourage bad habits.

Athena was already spoiled by nibbles of corn chips and burnt french fry bits from Five Guys.  We had a second, temporary rescue cat that would snatch whole cheeseburgers from plates and try to make off with scrambled eggs.

So with Zo, no meant no.  Except for maybe just a corner of a pancake (“He asked if he could taste it!”).  Or a bite of pizza crust (“No, see, it fell on the floor and he got it before I could pick it up!”).  Or baby carrots and green beans (“There are vegetables in his dry food.  See, there’s a picture on the back by the ingredients of what I think are veggies.”).  Or inches of apples.  You see where this is headed.

When MJ came home, we redoubled our efforts.  No people food.  None.  She wasn’t interested in food anyway, so fine.  She was, however, interested in smelling it.  We’d make dinner and she’d pad around the kitchen, snout in the air.

“What are you choppin’?”

“What’s that you pulled out of the fridge?”

“Is somethin’ bakin’ in the oven?”

“Can I smell the soap?”


Snout up, snout down, snout where it doesn’t belong.

Zo would hang out under the breakfast bar, waiting.


Because he knew. He could sense it.  It was in the air, like the warming naan or the baking chicken or the dishwasher detergent.  Mama’s weakness.

If there is something plain, unseasoned and ok for furbabies, Mama will share.  That’s the number one household rule:  Mama always shares.

Our dogs don’t beg.  They don’t whimper or whine if we’re eating and they’re not.  But they line up, bums on the floor in a perfect sit, and accept an offering like communion.  And then they scoot away.  If there’s nothing for them, they get a treat and then retire to their beds.  It’s now routine.

I’m a failure.  Terrible, terrible failure.

Is there anything, dear readers, you promised you wouldn’t allow as a furparent that’s completely gone out the window?  Am I alone?

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.