Categories
Food Fun Pets

Snacks

My dogs, Mollie and Charlie, recognize certain words: outside, walk, breakfast, dinner, squirrel, no, good. They know what those words mean and react appropriately (or, in the case of squirrel, inappropriately, with loud barking and much drama). And recently, they’ve learned a new word: snack.

It started one morning when we all woke up early, and I was not quite ready to put their breakfast out. I offered them each a doggie treat, calling it a snack. Over time, it happened again, on early mornings and sometimes in the evenings, before dinner. Occasionally, they’d get a snack after a walk or before bed. They eventually learned to associate the word snack with their doggie treats.

They’ve also perfected the art of Begface: loving eyes, a slight head tilt, nose occasionally sniffing the air, mouth slightly open in an eager half-smile. Who can resist? Certainly not me.

And so, snacks are a routine now. I’ve started branching out, looking for new snack options, flavors and shapes and textures. It’s sort of like choosing between crackers and potato chips and popcorn, except for dogs.

I do my best to be a responsible pet owner, and I know that I need to keep their snacking under control. Just like humans, it’s easy for dogs to eat too many snacks (there’s a reason a well-known potato chip company built an entire ad campaign around the fact that nobody can eat just one). Still, it’s fun to reward them, to say the word snack and watch their happy reactions. It’s a sweet little ritual we share, an entertaining (for me) and a delicious (for them) moment in the day.

Here’s to snacks, the tasty tidbits of love that I share with my pups.

Categories
Animals Good Pets

Rescue

According to the National Day Today calendar, today is National Rescue Dog Day.

My husband asked me if there is a difference between rescue dogs and pound puppies. It appears that there are some minor differences.

A rescue dog, according to National Rescue Dog Day information, is a dog that is in a dire situation, such as living on the streets or abandoned in some way, and ends up being rescued via an animal shelter, a foster home, or adoption. They might need serious medical care, although very often, they recover quickly and develop into healthy dogs once they are in a safe situation.

“Pound puppies” is an unofficial term for dogs that are at the animal shelter, generally healthy but also in need of fostering or adoption. They might not have been in danger, sick, or injured when they arrived, and they typically don’t require extra care once they leave the shelter.

The primary differences, therefore, seem to be in the circumstances that brought them into their current situation and what they might need to live safe and happy lives. A small difference, but a meaningful one. Most importantly, however, they’re all dogs in need of good homes. If you’re considering a furry family member addition, please start your search at your local animal shelter or rescue organization.

There’s another aspect to National Rescue Dog Day that’s relevant. Rescuing can be a two-way street. Dogs have a way of making things better; easing loneliness, making us laugh, feel loved and accepted. Bringing a shelter dog into your life doesn’t only help the animal – although, of course, that’s a vital goal. But, if you yourself are in need of a little rescue, even if it’s only from time to time, it can help you, too.

There are oodles of animal rescue organizations and shelters doing their best to care for dogs, to find them homes and connect them with medical help and other necessary resources. One of the best known is the ASPCA. If you’re in a position to give of your money and/or your time, you can find more information at https://www.aspca.org/. If you’re looking for a more specific option, such as an organization that rescues certain types of dogs or delivers specialized medical care, a quick internet search will likely give you the information you need.

Happy National Rescue Dog Day. Here’s to all the dogs who’ve made life better through their companionship and love. And, here’s to all the people who have been and still are working to rescue each and every one.


Categories
Life Pets

Awake

Pre-pandemic, my alarm would wake me up at 5:00 a.m., insistently reminding me that it was time to get ready for my hour-long commute and the official start of my work day.

Each morning, there I’d be, snoozing comfortably, dreaming away, and then suddenly, a loud, irritating beep-beep-beep would jolt me awake. It would not stop until I took action. So, I’d hit the snooze button, putting off the inevitable, only to repeat the process all over again a few minutes later. Eventually, I’d accept reality and slowly exit the soft, warm bed, shuffle around in the early morning darkness, and get the day started.

Now, I rarely set my alarm clock. There’s no need; I’m not commuting, and the morning is no longer a rush of action I have to complete before hitting the road.

Instead, my waking up experience revolves around our dogs. Today, for example, I was awakened by Mollie and Charlie bouncing on the bed. They were playing some form of Dog Tag, with Mollie merrily pushing Charlie to one side and then Charlie gleefully jumping back across the blankets for another round. When they noticed that my eyes were open, they both bounded toward me with doggie smiles and wagging tails, eager to be the first to welcome me into the new day.

I miss my job. I miss seeing my colleagues every day, and I miss the work we did together, the sense of purpose it created.

I also resent the pandemic. I resent the lives it’s destroyed as well as all the interrupted plans and goals, the lost opportunities and disrupted expectations.

But, I do not miss that 5:00 a.m. alarm, and I do not resent the change in my morning routine. I much prefer being awakened at a more decent hour by happy, playful dogs who think I’m the most wonderful person in the world.

Here’s to little silver linings, wherever and whenever we may find them.

Categories
Pets

Meow

According to the National Day Today calendar, today is Respect Your Cat Day. It’s a day for recognizing and celebrating our feline companions.

I’m a fan of cats in general, but my experience tells me that most of them already believe that every day is Respect Your Cat Day. I’m not sure that officially designating a day for this type of action is necessary.

Still, here we are. So, today’s cuppa honors my cats.

They make life better through their warm cuddles and loud purrs, their soft fur and curious nature. They can be demanding and insistent but also sweet and affectionate. At times, they seem wise beyond their years; at other times, they do incredibly dumb things. In either case, they are supremely confident, unconcerned with the opinions of those around them. Yet, they seek us out when they want to know that they are loved.

Indeed, they are.

Categories
Pets

Goat

Mollie, our older dog, is a picky eater. She likes her food served in a certain way, at a certain location, and there are some things she simply won’t eat regardless of how hungry she is.

Charlie, our younger dog, is the opposite. He’ll eat most anything, and he’s always ready to eat. Dog food, people food, cat food, scraps of paper, pieces of plastic, Kleenex, pillows, backyard grass, sticks, leaves…everything is fair game. He does prefer food, but he’ll eat whatever he finds.

Of course, I don’t want him to get sick, so I’m constantly watching, picking up tiny bits from the floor, moving things out of his reach, pulling things out of his mouth. Nevertheless, I’m sure he’s ingested some things he shouldn’t have. It’s impossible to completely Charlie-proof the world he lives in.

We thought we adopted a puppy all those months ago. Maybe we actually adopted a goat.

Categories
Life Pets

Ruff

An update on our puppy, Charlie.

He’s no longer a puppy. He’s full-grown, or close to it, standing a few inches taller than our other dog (and his best friend), Mollie. He has long, spindly legs and a little underbite that, at certain angles, makes him look like a piranha. His fur has grown in, short but curly and fluffy.

He’s still chewing on things, finishing off his puppy teething days, but I’m no longer worried about leaving shoes out where he can get them. He’s learned to chew on his toys, ripping and mangling them in short bursts of time, cheerfully turning them into flapping, helpless scraps of cloth and plastic and stuffing.

He’s also discovered his bark.

His bark starts in the pit of his belly, rolls up through his neck, and ends in a growly ruff, ruff. It’s surprisingly loud for his size. It’s rare for him to burst forth with a ruff on his own; he typically waits for Mollie’s bark as a signal to begin voicing his opinion. He doesn’t bark often, but when he does, it can’t be missed.

I’m still his Favorite, his Most Beloved, his One Above All Others. He still dances with joy anytime I return from being away, even if it’s only been for a few minutes. He still snuggles with me when he naps, still sighs contentedly at night as he curls up on the blankets next to me and drifts off to sleep. I hope that’s something he never outgrows.

Here’s to that moment when you realize that the puppy is gone but some of the puppy sweetness remains. And, here’s to loving the dog that the puppy has grown up to be.

Categories
Family Life Pets

Baby

My dogs, Mollie and Charlie, wear sweaters. Yes, I’m one of those people who puts sweaters on her dogs when it’s cold outside.

When we first adopted Charlie, a few months ago, he was just a puppy. His sweater was small and fit him perfectly, covering his back all the way to his hind legs.

Today, I realized that he’s outgrown his sweater. I was watching him run around the backyard and noticed that his sweater only came halfway down his back. It was a bit of a shock, the suddenness of the change. I’m almost positive that the sweater was still the right size yesterday.

I ended up taking one of Mollie’s sweaters and putting it on him instead. Mollie seemed ok with it, but I’m an oldest child and know that it can be hard to watch your stuff be handed down to the younger ones. So, I’ll be buying Charlie a new sweater of his very own pretty soon so that Mollie can have hers back.

I suppose that, having had human children, I shouldn’t have been so surprised by the fact that Charlie had outgrown his sweater. That’s just what happens with babies, including puppies.

You get used to letting go of most of the toys, the shoes, the books and trinkets that represent the moments. For sentimental reasons, however, I have saved some of my children’s clothes, the ones that they wore for special occasions or that carry special memories. I’ll pull them out of their storage boxes from time to time, look at them and marvel at how small they are, hold them gently in my hands and remember those tiny, sweet boys. Sometimes, I can do so without tears, but most often, I find myself misty-eyed, deep in happy memories.

I’m a little embarrassed at having some of the same emotions today when I replaced Charlie’s sweater. He’s a dog, not a human. Then again, he’s one of my babies. Furry, with four legs instead of two, and, of course, different in so many other ways. But one of my babies, nonetheless.

Here’s to the passage of time and the sometimes obvious, sometimes surprising changes it brings. And, here’s to parents. We must let our babies grow up…but that doesn’t mean we can’t remember the babies they once were.

Categories
Pets

Bark

Our puppy, Charlie, hasn’t quite learned to bark yet.

He makes lots of noises, especially when he’s settling down to sleep. He’ll sigh, and squeak, and make long, drawn-out sounds of sweet contentment. It’s hilarious and adorable.

He also does a “rrrrruuuuuuugggggghhhhh” growl when he meets somebody new. It’s not an aggressive sound; it’s more like curiosity mixed with caution.

Every once in a while, he’ll make a short yip that sounds a little bark-ish. And, I’ve heard him truly bark, quietly, hesitantly, once or twice, echoing our other, older dog, Mollie. But Charlie doesn’t bark on his own. He’s definitely not much of a barker, at least so far.

Mollie, on the other hand, barks all the time. She barks at squirrels. She barks at neighbors walking their dogs in front of our house. She barks at the mailman, and the cats, and even at us, if we’ve been out of the house and are coming back inside. Sometimes, she’ll just randomly let loose with a bark, and we can’t figure out why.

I’m actually okay with Charlie not barking. Mollie does enough barking for the two of them. She’s sort of the spokesdog, the big sister who tells the story. The alpha. She gives the verbal cues, and Charlie follows along.

I suspect that Mollie is also good with this arrangement. Mollie and Charlie are good companions now, but there’s still a bit of jealousy from time to time. Mollie’s gone from Only Dog to Older Dog. It’s been an adjustment, this learning to share toys and snacks, walks and sleeping spaces, attention and affection.

One day, Charlie will probably become a little more verbal. He’ll most likely have more to say. As long as he understands, however, that Mollie gets to have her say first and loudest, I think everything will work out just fine.

Categories
Fun Holidays Pets

Sweater

Today is National Ugly Sweater Day here in the U.S.

The real fun of wearing an ugly holiday sweater is sharing the experience with others, laughing at the ridiculousness and figuring out who has the silliest, most creative and hilarious attire.

I’m regretfully remembering that I got rid of my Ugly Holiday Sweater in one of my cleaning and organizing frenzies earlier this year. It won’t be possible for me to participate in National Ugly Holiday Sweater Day this holiday season.

But…Mollie and Charlie have sweaters. There’s no reason that dogs can’t participate in National Ugly Holiday Sweater Day.

Let the festive frivolity commence!

Categories
Pets

Neon

We have some coasters that light up in neon colors when something is placed on them.

We don’t actually use them; they have a slick surface that doesn’t provide a secure hold on whatever’s placed on top. Still, we’ve kept them around.

One of our cats, Bandit, has taken to sitting on them. When he does, his backside glows. He looks a bit surreal, like an alien cat.

Sometimes, instead of sitting, he’ll do the kitty crouch, with his front and back paws tucked beneath him so that he looks like a loaf of fur. In that case, most of his body glows, the neon colors reflecting off his white fur.

When he’s in that position, he’s typically staring into the distance, eyes wide, watching the world around him. He looks wise, like he knows the secrets of the universe.

I suspect that, if he could talk, he’d have a lot to say about important matters in life. I also suspect that his advice would be liberally interspersed with the words “tuna” and “dinner” and “warm blanket.”