December 2014

Barkbox knows us so well!


Counting Completed #GivingTuesday

December 2014

On Thanksgiving afternoon, I posted a video wishing all of our beloved readers and lurkers a Happy Turkey Day.  During that video, I issued a “challenge;”  for every “Like” this blog received between Thanksgiving Day and midnight on Giving Tuesday (December 2), I would donate $1 to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA).

Soon, I had readers reaching out through Facebook to let me know that they wanted to “Like” the post but they were being prompted to sign into WordPress to do so.  That felt rather inconvenient for them, so I extended the challenge to Likes in WordPress AND Facebook.

And then I sat back and waited.  I might have accidentally-on-purpose allowed a couple more days to go by.  This is the season of giving, after all.

Well, the final count is in.  Over that long weekend, 64 people liked the post.  That means $64 to AWLA.  I am so thrilled you liked me.  I mean, literally, you LIKEd me.

But I thought about it some more.  $64 didn’t feel like enough.  So I’ve been doing some thinking and some internet research.

Remember this little face?

photo credit: Animal Welfare League of Arlington

photo credit: Animal Welfare League of Arlington

 Almost four years ago, this was the picture of MJ that snagged our hearts and took us to AWLA’s door.  She’s been a handful and a riot, and we couldn’t imagine our family without her.  And because of her, we’ve met incredible volunteers and families through AWLA; our community has grown.

If we were to head over to AWLA today to bring home another puppy (puppy=younger than 6 months), our adoption fee would be $200.  For us, it was 100% worth it.

And so, dear readers, with your clicks and support, Peanut Butter & Cheese will be making a donation to AWLA for $200.  It’s not a lot, but it’s food or treats or toys for those furbabies waiting on their forever homes.

On a related subject…please!  If you’re thinking about gifting a pet to a friend or loved one this holiday season, remember: that kitten grows into a cat.  That dog may have accidents while he’s adjusting to home life. That guinea pig will need her habitat cleaned.  A pet is more than just an unveiling moment of suprise and wonder.  It’s for life.

Adopt, don’t shop.  But please adopt responsibly.

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving from our little family to yours!

#UNselfie #GivingTuesday

Missing you

November 2014

Earlier this fall, James took an extended business trip, and the pups and I were left to our own devices for four whole weeks.  All Kari All The Time.

Here’s some things you need to know before we move on:

-Owning two dogs– parenting two dogs– is much easier with four hands.  It’s an extra person to hold the leash, to scoop the food, to rub the bellies, or to tag out when training gets to be frustrating.

-Our dogs love James more.  Given the choice between snuggling with me or snuggling with him, he always wins.  Yes, yes, it’s not a competition.  Whatever.  But I do walk away feeling a bit chopped-liverish when I’ve taken them on an adventure, rewarded them with treats, and hauled out the pool for afternoon lounging, only to have James walk through the door and they react as though I’ve tortured and ignored them.

– We have a routine that allows for a fairly equal distribution of labor.  It is rare that schedule goes out the window.  This trip blew up the schedule.

Right.  So.  Four weeks without James.  We had set ourselves up a fairly ambitious schedule of home improvements and CGC prep-training.  And every day, James received photo updates and emails from the dogs (yep) about how things were going.

First, they were confused by his absence, looking longingly out the windows for his return.


Then, they mourned him.

just to be clear: i was organizing closets.  the floor of our bedroom doesn't always look this... adolescent.

just to be clear: i was organizing closets. the floor of our bedroom doesn’t always look this… adolescent. And she wouldn’t let me touch one of those shirts.

…Even though adventures were continuing in his absence.


now, with harnesses!

IMG_1501 IMG_1557We tried skyping, but they just weren’t into it.  They’d bark at the iPad or run around the corner to look for James.  Even worse was when they couldn’t muster the enthusiasm to look at the camera.

Before long, they got clingy, helping me get ready for work or checking up if they lost sight of me for a few minutes.


We broke a few rules… (sorrynotsorry).


it’s possible i slept here all night.


James finally came home, and the love and snuggles I had selfishly enjoyed for those few weeks disappeared. No room for me. IMG_0611

He might have missed them more than he missed me.

But seriously, they were rockstars.  They were flexible when work ran long (no accidents in the house).  They were respectful when we took big adventures on our own.  They helped out with house chores (I wish I had took pictures when I put Swiffer wipes on Zozo’s tail.  You’ll just have to trust me) and yard work. They sang along or talked back as I prattled on when making everyone dinner.  They were their typical loving, well-behaved, mildly-spoiled selves.  But it was weird.

All Thumbs

We can get out the door, but Mama needs to help us back in.


All of the treats

Halloween 2014

Last year, I finally succumbed to the voice in my head and dressed the dogs up for Halloween.  This was particularly ineffective since we usually hide in the basement with the lights off and pray no one knocks on the door.  Our’s isn’t a terribly well-trafficked street, and the neighborhood does an indoor candy dispatch in the auditorium of the local middle school.

But it made me deliriously happy, and that’s all that mattered.

This year, both pups got some showy threads. And many pumpkin-flavored treats were sacrificed for the photoshoot.

Happy Halloween, and stay safe friends!

i feel pretty... oh so pretty...

i feel pretty… oh so pretty…

excited AND scared

excited AND scared

Mam told us to smile. #derp

Mom told us to smile. #derp


too many treats

too many treats


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.

mj was supposed to write a blog post…

but she opted to nap in a sunspot instead.


have a great weekend everyone!

Next Stage

September 2014


Allow me to explain what you’re seeing.  This is a picture of the cupboards beneath our kitchen sink.  Typically, you’d see household cleaners, a fire extinguisher, a box of trash bags… Not here.  Well, not any more.

Last week, we embarked on the change.  Zozo is officially a pup-of-a-certain-age, and our vet let us know the time had come to switch him from Adult Dog Food to a Mature  This will help us keep him strong and healthy as he approaches his golden years.

This also freaked me out a little bit, because I have expectations that Doodle will be around for at least another 6 years.  But I promise not to get too macabre today.

Both MJ and Zozo eat Iams ProActive Health Large Breed dog food.  Zo made the switch to Iams when we bought our house (remember this?) and MJ has never known anything else.  From puppies to adults, this has been our kibble of choice.  I like the Iams because it has lots of protein and not a lot of grain filler.  Sometimes we throw carrots or green beans on top of their bowls to be fancy.

We buy massive bags of food and fill a tupperware in the kitchen.  One tupperware would take up half of the undersink area.  Now there are two.  They are labeled.  MJ’s sticking with the Iams ProActive Health Large Breed, and Zo is transitioning to Iams ProActive Health Mature Large Breed.  They try to hide the word, but it’s there.  Our baby is getting old.

In the picture above, Zozo’s Mature food is on the left.  The two white bottles are his supplements: a fish oil, which he takes for his skin allergies, and a joint supplement.  MJ’s Adult food is on the right, and the white bottle is her cranberry pill supplement because she has some UTI issues.

Zo loves his new food.  MJ loves nabbing a stray kibble bit from his bowl.  And scooping and replacing two food bins is really helping reinforce our sit/stays.

Multiple tupperware can also make for a confusing, half-asleep breakfast time.  Hence the labels.  But that’s my issue.

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.