Giving Thanks, Year 5

Well folks, we’ve had a long year here at PB&C.  We fell off our posting but picked up an instagram (@zozobeanfinley), but it’s just not the same.  We can do better.

Of all our posts over our years blogging, our Thanksgiving posts are our favorite (1,2,3,4)  It feels good to give back, especially after you’ve given so much love, enthusiasm and encouragement to us.  We weren’t going to drop the ball on this.  And Mother Nature really demanded it.

Beginning November 8th, three California wildfires caused massive destruction, injury and heartbreak; the most destructive season on record in California.  Over 10,000 pets have been displaced by the fire, and the impact to other animals and wildlife is as yet untold (but devastating).

This year, we’re making three donations.  All three organizations are taking in displaced, evacuated animals.  They’re working to reunite families who were separated from their pets.  They’re providing emergency veterinary care to wildlife.  They’re making room where room is not available, working around the clock.  Will my contribution make a big impact?  Absolutely not, but we’re definitely in “every little bit helps” territory.

Humane Society of Ventura County

Los Angeles County Animal Care Foundation

Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA

Here’s what I know: there are plenty of local rescues and shelters in and around Malibu that could use your help.  I picked these three because their resources cast the widest net in terms of services provided.  I speak with no authority that these are the right choices for everyone, but they’re the right ones for us.  If you consider donating, I know you’ll pick a deserving individual (so many gofundmes right now), organization or foundation that’s best for you.

I hope that you and yours are having a warm and wonderful holiday season.  Take care of each other, and give thanks for what you’ve got.  We’re certainly thankful for you.


Team PB&C

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?

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.


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.

Candy-coated, or third time’s a charm

January 15, 2015

Guest blog.  No intro needed, but please share especially if you’re in the DC area.

Sometimes forever does not mean forever.  That’s a hard lesson to learn in life in general and even harder, for me, when it relates to animal rescue.

Back in the late summer/early fall, I fostered two adorable kittens through the Washington Humane Society (WHS)-  Almond Joy and Reese. They were five weeks old and sick when I brought them home, weighing 1.2 and 1.3 lbs. So very tiny. And I was so very scared. I’d never been responsible for living creatures that small and fragile.  Something I learned about tiny kittens – they are not all that fragile and are pretty darn resilient!  Once they got healthy, the little ladies were perfect and everything you’d want in mini-cats: curious, affectionate, playful with bursts of rambunctiousness, slightly mischievous, and super friendly.
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I was going through a bit of a rough patch and having these two mini furmonsters in my care made all the difference in the world. They needed me to take care of them; I needed the joy, entertainment, and snuggles they provided. I would often end my evenings sitting on the floor of my bathroom – aka the Kitten Suite – with one of them in my lap and the other falling asleep while perched on my shoulders. And I fell in love.

Kari, with a shoulder-climbing furmonster, aged VeryTiny

The one not-so-perfect part of this situation was that my main kittenlady – a 4 year old demon feLion (whom I dearly love despite her antics) – was not having it with the kittens. So there was no option to foster fail. These little girls could not be mine and I would have to find them a forever home. And quickly.
Starting the interview process for forever homes, I made it clear the kittens needed to go together since they are a bonded pair; that weeded out most people who e-mailed WHS expressing interest. Eventually I found a young couple who was eager to adopt both sisters. The couple hung out in my apartment with me and the girls for several hours asking all the right questions and seeming generally like they would provide the perfect home. The kittens even fell asleep on one of the potential adopters, one in her lap and the other on her shoulders. It just felt right.
The kittens went home with the couple two weeks later after being spayed. There were tears and one last fantastic kitten sleepover snuggle-fest. I was sad to let them go but I knew they would be very happy.  With Instagram and Twitter, I knew I would get to see pictures of the fuzznuggets growing and settling into their new home. My work here was done.
But then my girls showed back up at the shelter two weeks later.
The couple encountered a surprise life event and decided they could no longer care for two kittens so brought them back. I was notified by shelter staff immediately and went over to hang out the day they came in. Unfortunately I could not foster again because my resident cat had made herself physically ill from the stress of having the kittens in the house. But I wanted my girls to have someone familiar to help them settle in and I needed to hold them and make sure they were OK. It was so good to see them but I was so mad and my heart was heavy.  They were still tiny kittens, though, and I knew they would probably be re-homed in a short amount of time.
Sure enough, the girls being as perfect as they are, they were adopted back out within a week. I was thrilled. NOW my work was done!
Fast forward 3 months: Almond Joy and Reese have been returned again. What’s wrong with them?  NOTHING. They are healthy, sweet, smart, well-mannered beauties. But their adopter decided to move in with her allergic boyfriend – so back to the shelter they come. Again I was notified by shelter staff immediately and so again I went into the shelter on my lunchbreak.  These 6 month old girls are now gorgeous, mostly-grown cats with luxurious fluff. They recognized me on the spot and started giving out affection without hesitation. They are purr-factories and snugglebugs and my heart fights between being so full of love for them and shattering into a bazillion pieces because they have been failed by humans three times – once at birth and twice by people who promised false-forevers.
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Through Facebook, I immediately started spreading information about the girls along with pictures. My network jumped into action and images of Almond Joy and Reese flooded my newsfeed in posts and re-posts urging potential adopters to check them out. I was bowled over and am positive that a happy ending is just around the corner for my girls, but because you can never be too sure…
If you are in the DC/MD/VA area and considering bringing cats into your home please take a look at Almond Joy and Reese.  And if they are no longer available, check out the other wonderful animals that we have up for adoption at the shelter. But before you adopt, please, please, PLEASE realize that you are making a forever promise to a living, breathing creature who will rely on you for care. Feel the weight of that promise and make sure that you are adopting responsibly. Even the best shelters can be harsh environments and being returned to one doesn’t always allow for a happy ending.
Through the feedback and comments I’ve seen so far on social media, I am hopeful that today the kittenladies will be visited by at least one potential adopter if not several. And that is good and reassuring news. It is also good for the other shelter cats because if potential adopters visit after my ladies have been claimed, maybe they’ll consider the other lovely cats currently waiting to find forever homes. Emphasis on the FOREVER.
And remember – adopt don’t shop.


December 2014

Barkbox knows us so well!



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!

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.