Idea courtesy of The Daily Prompt.
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.
We were drawn to Asheville for a number of reasons: artsy community, excellent food, walkable, and dog-friendly.
Since we went the week leading up to Thanksgiving, James still had to check in with work. To keep our dogs out of his hair while on a conference call, we leashed up and headed out to the Biltmore Estate.
Holy cow is that place incredible. Under construction from 1889-1895, George Vanderbilt’s 3,000 acre estate boats of “four acres of floor space, including 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces.” So, your typical country cottage.
While dogs aren’t allowed inside the main house, they are permitted to roam the gardens, hike the trails, and get a coffee.
[Side note: If you want to walk the estate and then tour the mansion, the Biltmore does have first-come/first-serve kennels where dogs can curl up with fresh water and protection from the elements. We didn’t opt for that feature during our tour– first came the adventure with the dogs, then I dropped the furries back and snagged James for our human’s-only tour in the house.]
Two dogs, one Kari and a pocketful of treats left our little mountain respite for this expansive tourist draw in Asheville. We had a dusting of snow that morning, so MJ was wearing one of her (my) favorite hoodies to keep her warm. We got more comments about the dog-in-outfit during our walk!
We got to the estate as they opened for the day, so the trails were rather un-peopled and we could take our time with sniffs and changing directions. If I read the map correctly, we wandered over 5 miles of the estate, which wore everyone out and drained the pocket of treats.
James and I have started planning our out-of-town escapes around things we can do with the dogs; rather, places we can go with the dogs.
- must be an easy car ride (less that 8 hours without traffic)
- must have well-lit, green-area’d rest stops along the way
- must not be in a state with BSL about pit bull breed
- must have dog-friendly activities
- must not require kenneling
We’ve taken them to the Outer Banks. We take them on overnights to relatives’ houses. And now, they’ve been to Asheville.
Through homeaway.com, We rented a wonderful converted barn just a few miles outside of downtown Asheville, NC, for a Thanksgiving escape. Pet-friendly with wooded trails, lots of sniffs and radiant flooring.
We woke up our second morning to find a dusting of mountain snow!
We ate, we napped, we went on adventures (you’ll have to wait for those), and we broke out of our travel crate.
Oh, and there were bears. We saw them. Well, one. Our renters book was full of helpful information, like “Will a bear attack my dog?”
Asheville is a great, walkable town. And we have the pictures to prove it. Next time, on Serial.
Right before the holidays, it was time to get my roots done. I’m not shy about my greys. They happen. I color them. We have an understanding.
And the woman who does my hair, Katie, is a rockstar. We’ve been through a lot of styles and colors together, and I really look forward to my time in her chair.
She’s also been a big fan of our dogs, whom she’s never actually met in-person. She asks after their well-being, mourned MJ’s stump with me, and cheered for Zozo’s paw-horn. She’s good people.
Sunday before Christmas, I had an appointment scheduled for first thing in the morning. Having seen small-ish dogs in the salon before, I texted Katie to see what her thoughts were on my bringing MJ along. (Zozo has a fear of my hair dryer, and I didn’t want to set him up for catastrophe.) The last thing I want is for a social, wiggly girl to be underfoot or in the way of clients and stylists on a busy weekend. But Katie was game.
MJ and I got dressed and coffee’d. I packed a bag with a small toy, some treats and her crate towel, and we headed over to the salon.
That’s right folks: we girls got our hairs did.
Guys, it could have gone either way. But it was awesome. MJ was stellar and wiggled her tush off. She got lots of love from stylists and clients alike. By the time we left, the place was hopping– scissors snipping, dryers humming and water gushing, and it didn’t faze the little girl one bit.
Special thanks to Katie and the staff at PR at Partners in Shirlington for being wonderful. Maybe we’ll do it again.
Barkbox knows us so well!
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?
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.
Happy Thanksgiving from our little family to yours!
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.
…Even though adventures were continuing in his absence.
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).
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.