City Hounds

Just sniffin' around…

Rule of 3

Neo-pagans believe that what they put out into the world will come back to them times three.  So, send out good energy and three times the good will come back to you.  Do an evil deed and three times the evil will hunt you down and find you.  It’s a little like karma, but with slightly different concepts of good & evil.

Three is also a “magical” number in many other systems of belief: good things come in threes, the Trinity, etc.  According to In Black and White (and I think Nathan Winograd says the same), if we increase pet adoptions by 3%, we could halt the euthanasia of healthy pets.  So, In Black and White created her own set of goals (in threes, of course) to contribute to making that change.  She has inspired me to do the same.

My Rule of 3 Goals:

1. Find at least three sponsors for the Wish Bone Canine Rescue Calendar Project (I’d love to raise at least $300 , but since this is my first time soliciting donations, I’m worried that’s too much to hope for. )

2. Work at least 3 adoption events for Wish Bone before the end of the year.

3.  Donate at least $30 in cash or goods to Wish Bone or CISAR before the end of the year.

My goals are modest to start, since I’m just getting started volunteering.  I’ve also set a deadline, so I have about 6 weeks to complete them.  After the first of the year, I’ll set new Rule of 3 Goals for 2012, and hopefully they’ll be a bit more ambitious.

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November 10, 2011 Posted by | Reflections | Leave a comment

The Beginning

I have a confession to make.  I didn’t like dogs when I was a kid.

Maybe more accurately, I didn’t know dogs.  My parents got a puppy when I was 2 or 3 years old,.  He was a cute little black Cocker Spaniel named they Buddy.  He didn’t last long.  He couldn’t be trained to stay in the yard, and we didn’t have a fence.  Mom and Dad hated to chain him up – they both grew up on farms and didn’t like to see dogs on chains.  Still, to keep him safe, he had to be chained.  But Buddy wouldn’t stay chained.  He figured out how to get loose, and Mom had to search the neighborhood for him a couple of times.  Mom was frustrated, and there was no way to keep him safe (they didn’t want to put up a fence), so Buddy was rehomed.

Next, I got a cat.  I had her for years, and she looked a lot like Frodo.  Definately NOT the same personality, though!  She wasn’t a friendly cat, although she did occasionally let me tuck her into my doll buggy and rock her to sleep.  My mom was adamant that she not sleep on my bed or get on the furniture – and she didn’t (sometimes I’d love to know how they trained her not to get on the furniture, because I can’t train my cats to do anything…).  She was put downstairs every night when Mom & Dad went to bed, and she was an indoor/outdoor cat.  I loved her, but we never really had the chance to bond.  She lived to an old age, though, and died while I was in college.

When I was about 7 or 8, I went to stay at a friend’s house for New Year’s Eve.  They had two collies.  I’d been there before; even spent the night before.  But after a few hours, one of my eyes began itch, then to swell shut.  My mother had to take me to the emergency room, where they surmised that I probably had a dog hair in my eye, and I was probably allergic to dogs. Sure enough, allergy tests revealed a BAD dog allergy.  Since hardly anyone in my family had dogs, and the few that did had poodle mixes, we’d never realized it.

From then on I avoided dogs because being around them made me really miserable.  But, as I got older, my reaction lessened and become manageable.  I still sometimes react to new dogs or to a lot of dogs at once, but it’s not the problem it used to be.  Thank goodness, because when I was about 20, THE dog came into my life.

I attended college about 250 miles from home.  My college was actually near the area where my parents grew up, so they purchased a house in their hometown, knowing they would eventually retire there.  It gave us a place to meet on the weekends and spend time together.

One night we heard a noise on the front porch, and found a tiny, furry black puppy playing with an empty Diet Coke can. We couldn’t find an owner; neighbors claimed they had seen the pup hanging out with an older stray.  He couldn’t have been hanging out for long, though, since he was only about 7 weeks old.  Unable to find his home & unwilling to take him to a shelter, we named him Happy (because he so obviously was) and I took him back to school with me.

From then on, we joked that Mom and Dad & I had shared custody of Hap.  Sometimes he stayed with me, sometimes with them.  When Mom and Dad retired and did, indeed move back to their hometown, Hap began spending most of his time with them.  Steve and I were married by then and both working full time, and it was impossible for us to get home during the day.  Since Mom and Dad were home all day, it seemed logical that Happy should stay with them.  They claimed not to be dog people (and really aren’t), but Happy won their hearts and they really adored him.  My extended family (also, mostly not dog/pet people) loved him, too.  Happy was invited to all family events, even if other dogs were not.  He was friendly, patient, good with kids, and a wonderful house guest.  He didn’t get on the furniture, bark, or dig in the yard.  In fact, he didn’t leave the yard – Mom and Dad didn’t have a fence in the new house, either, but it wasn’t a problem with Happy.  He didn’t even need a leash to be walked.

Happy was a dog of our hearts, that once-in-a-lifetime pooch for my parents.

Of course, Happy got old.  He slowed down and finally, he got sick.  His energy level dropped alarmingly low, and he began limping badly.  The vet found cancer, and also discovered a dislocated hip, probably done when Hap jumped in or out of the car.  One or the other might have been treatable, but he was both sick and in pain, and treating both at the same time was impossible.  The vet sent test results to the Univerisity of Illinos Vet School to be reviewed, and they advised the same.  It was time to let Happy go.

I was devastated, but that was nothing compared to my parents.  It was as if they’d lost a child, and both swore they’d have no more dogs.  I think my dad was embarassed by how attached he was to Happy, and swore he’d go through that loss again.

For me, Happy opened the door to the wonderful world of dogs.  When Steve and I finally had a house, yard and jobs that made it possible for us to have a dog, we adopted Red.  That was just weeks before we lost Happy.  Red and Happy didn’t get to meet, but I like to think they would have been buddies.  Just a few months ago I had a dream that Happy came back, and he was showing Red and Ruby a thing or two about being great dogs.  They’re both pretty awesome already, but Happy’s paws are pretty hard to fill.

November 9, 2011 Posted by | Reflections | Leave a comment

A Walk in the Park: Fall

We live a block away from a beautiful Victorian park.  Likely inspired by Olmsted’s design for Central Park, Miller Park contains two war memorials, a large lake, paddle boats, a beach, a Park House for special occasions, a mini-golf course, two play areas and a zoo. Oh, and an outdoor theater.

Red, posing in the park

Steve and I don’t take advantage of this beautiful space as much as we should, but the dogs do.  We walk there every day.  We meet others with dogs, but since we walk on the road, there’s plenty of room to pass.  We meet fishermen, sometimes in scary hats or hoods and holding long poles.  We meet cyclists and skateboarders.  These meetings are all good training opportunities, and Red and Ruby have grown into very good walkers.

Our old house

When we moved to town eleven years ago, we rented a house right across the street from the park.  We loved that little house, but had to move when Steve quit working and went back to school.  We needed a place with cheaper rent and wanted something closer to the university.  A year later, we decided to buy our own place, and it isn’t surprising that we ended up right back on this side of town, just a block away from the park.

We’ve often talked about moving to a larger house, or a different location (one closer to shops, work, etc.), but the park is part of what holds us here.  In the winter, when the sidewalks are unshoveled and the roads are slick, if I can get to the park I know the roads will be plowed and the traffic minimal – it’s a safe place for us to walk.  There are lots of routes we can take through the park, so we don’t get bored.  This time of year, it’s like walking through a painting.  The park glows, and walking there is an enchanting way to start our day.

Annual visitors

November 8, 2011 Posted by | Adventures | , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: Lost and Found by Elizabeth Hess

It started out well.   I enjoyed some of the adoption stories and was suitably outraged by the cruelty cases, as Hess probably intends.  The book tells the story of Hess’s experiences volunteering at the Columbia-Greene Humane Society in New York state.  She answers phones, helps with adoptions, goes on cruelty investigations with the officers and even helps out with a puppy mill raid.  She mixes together feel good stories of happily-ever-after adoptions with tragic stories of animals surrendered, abuse cases and animals returned to the shelter. 

The bad does seem to outweigh the good, giving the book a somewhat sad feeling, but it’s probably fairly accurate in its portayal of shelter operations.  In the final chapter, however, all my sympathy for these people when right out the window.  In “The Last Resort,”  Hess discusses the shelter’s euthanasia practices.  She spouts assumptions about the no-kill movement, about pet owners, the public about shelter employees.  She offers no data or statistics to back up her statements & no list of sources at the end of the book, but instead says things like “It’s as if there are two worlds of animal owners.  There are those who obsessively pamper their their pets and those who torture theirs. ”  (205) Really?  There’s no in between?  Because I think there’s a dog or two in every house on my block that would disagree.  They’re living pretty happy lives with owners who don’t buy them diamond collars or a new toy every week, but are pretty happy just being dogs and being part of the family.

But Hess herself isn’t the only one who says things that blew me away.  She quotes one rescuer as saying she doesn’t “adopt out pit bulls.  The would just get abused.”  (199) Huh.  There’s a pretty active pit bull rescue community (and bloggers here, here, here and here!) who might take issue with that perception.  Perhaps this rescuer really does think it’s better that she keeps 32 pit bulls herself, but to me it sounds like the justification of an animal hoarder (those are just the pit bulls; she has a unspecified number of other dogs and 140 cats.  Yet she turns potential adopters away “if she doesn’t like the message on the potential adopter’s answering machine.”).

I do realize that shelter staff often see the worst side of people and their animals.  The bad must surpass the good on many days.  But in order to continue sucessfully in that line of work, I think it’s imperitive that shelter workers remember that they see the worst of the worst, and that it’s only a small portion of what happens between humans and animals.  There are millions of people they never see who love and care for their animals and treat them as part of the family.    Even so, I have to wonder about Columbia-Greene Humane Society’s then director Laura-Ann Cammisa, professed animal lover, who (according to Hess) “is pushing to make (euthanasia) decisions earlier rather than later after the staff has become attached to the animals.  There is nothing more depressing for kennel workers than feeding and caring for animals and then losing them.”  (195) Gee, think how the animals must feel.

If you’re going to read this one, at least read Nathan Winograd’s Redemption as well, to get the other side of the story.

Please note: this book was published in 1998, and the employees and policies of the Columbia-Greene Humane Society  may have changed significantly in intervening years.  Their current website states they “do not euthanize animals for space constraints,” but does not elaborate on why they do euthanize.

November 7, 2011 Posted by | Book Reviews | Leave a comment

Going Vegan

Like most people, Steve and I have struggled with eating well for years.  We go through stages, eating well and cooking at home when we have time, but ording pizza and grabbing McDonalds when we’re busy or stressed out.  For years, both of us have wanted to commit to going vegan for ethical reasons (me) and health reasons (him).  I feel better in my mind when I don’t eat meat; Steve feels better in his body.

I started to jump on the “health” bandwagon this summer after reading Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy Change the World by Kathy Freston.  Steve grabbed the book off the bargain shelves at Barnes & Noble (it was later moved, so we think it was actually there by mistake – or the book had a sudden gain in popularity! ), and the book really changed my way of thinking about a vegan diet.  I knew a plant based diet was healthier, but I had no idea that there is evidence it can not just prevent, but cure diseases like diabetes and cancer.

Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change the World

For me that was a huge revelation, since so many of the diseases she discusses are those I’m forced to write in my familiy medical history each time I go to the doctor.  Cancer? Check.  Diabetes?  Check.  High blood pressure?  Check.  Heart disease?  Check.  Apparently, the Standard American Diet is killing off my family one at a time.

So, I decided it won’t get me.  Steve and I have committed to a vegan diet.  We concede that we may occiasionally slip up when we’re eating out or eating at others’ homes, but even there we’ll make our best effort to stick to the plan.  I think that it will get easier as time goes on and we settle into our new way of eating.  Because no matter what the books tell you, it’s hard to eat out and avoid all animal products, at least here in the Midwest.  Some places, it’s hard to avoid meat, so avoiding dairy is pretty much out of the question.  There’s only one vegetarian restaurant in town, and while they do serve some vegan options, there are only about 5 or 6 selections.  We met Steve’s parents at a family restaurant last summer and I couldn’t even find a vegetarian option on the menu.  Even the pasta all had meat in the sauce.  And, since the sauce is already mixed up, what are the odds they’ll agree to make meatless?  I suppose I need to be more fearless about asking.  Still, in some ways this is good encouragement for us to cook at home more often, which is good for the pocketbook as well as the body.

Steve’s a fantastic cook, and we’ve built up a great collection of vegan cookbooks over the past couple of years.  Vegan With A Vengence by Isa Chandra Moskowitz is one of our favorites:

Vegan with a Vengeance : Over 150 Delicious, Cheap, Animal-Free Recipes That Rock

This was the first vegan cookbook Steve bought, and it’s actually the book that got him cooking.  It really changed our lives.  About seven years ago, we were browsing the bookstore, and when we were ready to leave, Steve had two cookbooks in his to-buy pile.  Seeing my skepticism (I did the cooking back then), he promised that, if we got the books, he’d make at least 10 meals over the next couple of months.  What woman could refuse that offer?  Little did I know how much better it would get.  Steve discovered he really like to cook, and he’s really good at it.  Within a month he had taken over the cooking duties completely.  He’s done 90% of the cooking ever since.  Thank you, Isa!

Seriously, Isa’s  books are great because she doesn’t use a lot of “fake” food.  There’s a place for tofu hot dogs and fake bacon, but vegan cooking is oh-so-much-better when it’s not just an imitation of the Standard American Diet.  I mean, we all know fake bacon doesn’t taste like the real thing, so why not find something that just tastes great for what it is?  We now own all Isa’s regular cookbooks: Veganomicon, Vegan Brunch, and Appetite for Reduction.  She also has three books on vegan baking, which we don’t have yet.  I haven’t turned Steve into a baker yet, but I may take that up myself, since there’s no where in town to get vegan baked goodies!

Post Punk Kitchen:

Isa’s Show, Website and Blog

 

Watch episodes of Post Punk Kitchen on Google Videos or YouTube.

November 4, 2011 Posted by | Vegan Cooking | Leave a comment

Book Review: Dieting With My Dog by Peggy Frezon

I ordered this book as soon as I heard about it.  My dogs don’t need to be on a diet, but I do.  And they need more exercise, so I thought I might get some good tips.

That’s not exactly what I got, but it was worth the read anyway.  More memoir than how-to, I enjoyed the story of how author Peggy Frezon got motivated to change her own eating habits when she realized her attitude toward food was affecting not just her own health, but her beloved dog Kelly’s as well.  I can certainly relate, since adopting Red prompted us to make all kinds of green changes around our house and yard, and both dogs are now a prime part of my own motivation to get out and get fit.

I struggled to relate to the author’s empty nest syndrome, but I guess I can sympathize with having to re-think your life due to the absence of children. At the end of the book when she and her husband begin to realize the perks of having the kids gone, I wanted to cheer, since Steve and I are just beginning to consider the positive side to a life without kids.

There are a few dieting and excercise tips for people and dogs in the back of the book, although I would have loved more.  I didn’t find any really original ways to exercise with my dogs, just the obvious walking, running, fetching, etc.  Ironic that I wanted a little more how-to in this book, since typically I find diet/food books to be too much how-to and want more memoir!  Still, the memoir was quite fun, and Kelly is adorable.  A quick feel-good read!

Read Peggy’s Blog

Attend Peggy’s Weight Loss With a Wag Blog Tour!

November 3, 2011 Posted by | Book Reviews | Leave a comment

Happy Halloween!

Clown? Or Pimp? We'll go with clown.

I’ve thought about dressing up the dogs before, for Halloween or just for fun, but I didn’t want to be perceived as the sad-woman-with-no-kids-who-dresses-her-dogs-instead.  But, I think as I come to terms with the fact that Steve and I probably won’t have children, and begin to live a grand life without kids, I’ll worry less about that.  This year, I decided the heck with what other people might think; I’m just going to have fun with it.

So I planned ahead, got costumes, and made homemade dog treats to deliver the the pooches on our block.  We tried the costumes on the dogs last week, but didn’t do as much conditioning as we should have.  Red was okay, but his hat kept falling off – I’ll need to adjust that if we’re going to use the same costume next year!  Ruby didn’t do as well.  Her discomfort brought out her agression. I’m not sure if she wasn’t happy with her costume or didn’t like Red’s.   Maybe she didn’t want to be a witch?

Ruby the B/Witch

In any case, Red and I made our deliveries without her.  Things I learned:

1. Get the dog more used the costume in advance and make sure it fits.

2. Don’t drop a treat bag,or Red will eat it, bag and all. (Thankfully, I got the paper bags…)

3. Go later.  Some neighbors weren’t home yet.

4. Stay away from the door if the resident answers with the dog.  Red made one friend this way (Wigwag the bulldog), but got bit in the butt by a bunch of little yappers at another place. 🙂  That’s the  thanks he got for delivering them treats!

Seriously, though, I think I was guilty of being a little to excited/nervous about the outing.  Two of our neighbors were getting ready to leave to walk their dogs, so I rushed out the door to catch them before they left, giving Red little time to settle down and relax before doing something new.  Next time, in addtion to getting the dogs accustomed to their costumes in advance, I’ll take things slow before we leave and give them plenty of time to settle down.

November 2, 2011 Posted by | Adventures | Leave a comment

Fresh Start

Red and Ruby on a walk in the park.

I’m working hard toward a fresh start, and I’m hoping I can hold myself accountable for making the changes I need by writing it all down.  I’ve been doing it in an old fashioned journal, but I can’t add pictures there.  Also, I’ve always wanted to keep a blog.  I’ve started several, for several different reasons, and never stuck with it.

My dogs are a huge part of my “reboot,” and that’s where the name of the blog comes from.  We live in a very small Midwest city, in our own house and small yard, with two energetic coonhounds.  They need exercise, and they need to get out a do things, and so do I.  When I don’t do these things, we all suffer.  This became really evident this past summer when I was very stressed out, tired, and feeling terrible – depressed, suffering from migraines andn stomach problems, and overall just really unhappy.  Our dog Ruby seemed to becomea reflection of my problems, and she expressed her unhappiness by attacking our other dog, Red.  In the interest of keeping both dogs, I realized I had to do better at providing her with what she needs.

At the same time, I began a program for emerging leaders at work (work is successful, even if my personal life isn’t!).  In a seminar on emotional intelligence, I realized just why work is sucessful and home isn’t: I practice all my emotional intelligence skills at work and none at home.  I don’t have a life outside of work.  I don’t mean that I work all the time, but that I don’t really DO anything when I’m not at work.  And when the presenter asked us to rank series of emotionally intelligent traits, happiness fell very close to the bottom. Alarmingly so.

Life’s to short to be miserable, for me and our dogs.  So, it’s time to get out, get moving and get a life!

Ruby, my inspiration

November 1, 2011 Posted by | Reflections | Leave a comment