I think we won.

I have a friend who says "I think we won" as a sort of general expression of approvingness for things that have just happened. As in, we went to the dollar theater and watched Coraline and ate grapes and as we left he said "I think we won." Because it was a good movie and they were tasty grapes and we only paid 1 dollar each.

This week, Buzz and I won because the fence was fixed.

The fence along the back of the yard was only about 30" high and over the last month Buzz had figured out that he could jump it. Now, Buzz has no interest in running away, so he just jumped the fence to get a closer look at a squirrel. Or, like street-crossing chickens of lore, to see what was on the other side. He would zoom about the four adjacent yards then come to the gate to be let in within a minute. The problem, of course, is that Buzz jumps on people, wants to kill cats, and thinks all bicycles should be stopped. So, if people, cats, or bikes were to appear while he was loose...that would be trouble. For a few weeks now, I've had to leash Buzz while he's in the yard. Which is lame.

This week, with a lot of help from Tessa's food guy (he drove in posts and such), I zip-tied a 4' fence to the back of the 30" fence and now Buzz is contained. It is awesome.

By the way, the worker at Lowe's that helped me find the zip ties told me that what I should do was put a shock collar on my dog and that would teach him to stay in the yard. Yikes! Turns out this guy doesn't have a dog, has never had a dog, has never read a book on dog training, or have a real conversation with a dog trainer. Yet, he feels that he should advise me (a stranger) to use violence to keep my dog (who he knows nothing about) in the yard. I ended up having a somewhat long conversation with him about dogs and training so maybe I changed his thinking a bit. Because really, why solve a problem with pain when you can solve it with $26 of plastic?

Every morning since the fence was fixed, when Buzz and I go out back and I get to sit with my coffee and he gets to run about with his ball, I feel triumphant. I want to pump my fists. Yes, I think we won.

Giving back

You know what? Buzz and I really use the heck out of the public parks in our city. We are in a park almost every day. So, a few weeks ago, I finally volunteered my time helping to maintain one of the local parks. It felt so great to go in there and remove the invasive species and put wood chips down on the trails!

That little taste of do-gooding wasn't enough for me, so I made this quilt for a fundraiser (a silent auction for Ann Arbor's Ecology Center.)

The info is here for you locals

But folks, even that wasn't enough. I have decided to donate 10% of the proceeds from my etsy store to a dog rescue. Specifically, to That'll do Border Collie Rescue which is a rescue in Vancouver, Canada. I've chosen this rescue because
(1) They save border collies and Buzz is a border collie and border collies rule!
(2) Sheena, the founder and director of the rescue writes my favorite dog blog Three Woofs and a Woo.
(3) While I have never met her in person, Sheena has often taken the time to help me understand Buzz's behavior (recalls!) and needs (raw feeding!)
(4) Because the shelter I got Buzz from is...how to say...sketchy. In fact I never name it because they gave me Buzz without looking at my ID, calling my vet, or checking my lease. I gave them $40, they gave me Buzz. I'm glad of it, but that's not modern rescue; they could have been putting Buzz into a worse situation than the one from which he came.
(5) When you are British and American...from Wisconsin but living in Michigan...and Seattle is your heart's city...well, then, Vancouver seems local.
(6) The Canine Mafioso are a crime syndicate, not a charity!

So, more bags are in the shop (link is in the sidebar). And some quilts, too. And 10% of the purchase price will be forwarded to That'll Do Border Collie Rescue. You could also, of course, just donate to the rescue directly, if you want to do some unadulterated good. Just go to their website, and click on the "donate!" button on the left-hand side.

If you are in the market for a bag, though, here's some more information:

This is my bag, full of the usual stuff.

All of that stuff fits into a gallon-sized Ziploc bag.

I don't think you'd want to jam much more than this into the bag or you'd end up not being able to use the front pocket.

Here's what I usually carry around (the bag below is pictured inside out).

(1) using the clip (included!) I have a set of keys attached to the bag.
(2) In one of the inside pockets, I keep a roll of plastic bags for picking up after Buzz.
(3) In the other inside pocket, I keep a photocopy of my driver's license and health insurance card (I don't carry my wallet to walk the dog).
(4) In the main pocket, I have two balls, an extra leash, a bag of treats, a pair of gloves, and a small cloth bag which holds more pick-up bags.

I don't have any plans to make these bags bigger because that would involve adding side panels and at least an hour's more work for each bag; basically, the extra cost in materials and labor would make the bag too pricey. If you need something bigger, I recommend checking out the men's section in Target for their messenger bags; they tend to be a good size and have pockets and places to clip things.

And I hope you are having weather as nice as ours! Buzz is way too hot in his winter coat; I keep telling him to shed!

Bo Obama

I'm disappointed that the Obama's didn't get a rescue dog.
They got this guy:

(image from people.com)

Who looks totally adorable and seems to be quite a handful, too. :)

(photo from Huffington Post)

Which you know that I love.

I also love this picture. My favorite pictures of families are always these moments with all the unconscious, gentle mingling of limbs and sightlines.

(pic from people.com)

Okay, and as long as we're on it. THIS is amazing.

(pic by Pete Souza) And there is a great essay about the meanings conveyed here on the Huffington Post It reads, in part, "There are all kinds of interesting elements here. Bo running free, though leashed. Obama and the dog clearly relating to one another, Obama looking back -- already creating a bond with the puppy. And especially, the new President at full sprint -- completely off the ground."

I'm glad that Bo a "second chance" dog and not some gooey little two-monther. But here's the thing: he's from a good breeder, which means that he was never in danger of being homeless or dead. "We don’t want any of our dogs to end up homeless," the breeder told People Magazine. "And the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America, that we belong to, requires that their breeders take back their dogs if for any reason, any reason at all, the people can’t care for the dog. That’s what responsible breeders do, always."

Over 1.5 million dogs are killed each year in the U.S. just because there aren't homes for them. That number is just the adoptable, healthy dogs. And that number, while HUGE, is also not so very big. If just 35-to-40 percent of dog-owners got their next dog from a shelter or rescue, that would save all of those dogs.

All. of. them.

So, here's my beef with the Obamas:

The allergy thing. I do not have allergies, but people I know that have allergies keep them under control by (a)keeping their house clean, which includes vacuuming daily and buying quality filters for their furnaces. And (b) keeping the animal off of the furniture and out of the bedroom.

I'm guessing that if you live in the White House, you have high quality air filters and your house is vacuumed daily.

And if you do have to clean your own home and that much vacuuming sounds like too much work, you need to consider the amount of work it takes to keep a Portuguese Water Dog groomed (a lot!).

The Obamas just needed a low shed dog. And at a shelter, it is pretty easy to figure out who, among the grown dogs, is low shed. Just pet them. Got a hand full of fur? Move along to the next dog whose life is in danger. Look for dogs with single coats as it is the undercoats that usually cause allergic reactions. It's not a catalog people, you get to actually see and touch the dogs. You can figure out what kind of fur they have.

The whole thing wherein the Obamas said that their shortlist of dog breeds were Portuguese Water Dogs or "Labradoodles" also hit me funny. Because a "Labradoodle" is just a mutt with an advertising campaign and there's no way to ensure that a mixed dog is going to have the traits of one parent over the other (i.e., be hypoallergenic). Anyone with "Labradoodle" on their shortlist of dog "breeds" needs to do more research. They can be nice dogs, but people should save their funny names and $1800 for strippers; don't give them to the backyard breeders making mutts from poodles and labs!

Alright, alright, I'll get down from my horse now.

One question, though, does it seem smart to give a dog a name that rhymes with "no"?

Beers in the Backyard

Ah yes, spring has sprung. While I love winter, when it leaves me I get over it pretty quickly. Because there are many things to enjoy about the next guy. This spring character.

Better light to fill Buzz’s beautiful brown eyes.

Birds that chirp all day.

The ability to feel my face after walking the dog.

Good stuff.

In the winter, letting the dog out and playing with him a bit each evening can feel very choresome (that is probably not a word, but I don’t care). In the spring, going in the yard with the dog is awesome.
Because I take a beer with me.
And sit in the sunshine.
And Buzz just plays with his soccer ball and his sticks.
And then he comes over and sits by me and smiles.
He gets muddy maybe, but it is worth it.
For the sun and the beer and the birds.

Sometimes, we even have company for the evening unwinding. Tessa loves to come and play with Buzz.

Hi Tessa!

Can you wear my dog out for me?


Tessa seems to learn a lot by watching other dogs. Like that you can jump to catch a ball! Or, that Nylabones are fun to chew on. She has yet to figure out how to play Buzz’s favorite game, but she’s been watching closely.

Maybe someday she’ll learn this extra-stupid, ever-so-funny hiking game. It’s Buzz’s favorite. It should go on his tombstone when he dies in one million years: “Here lies Buzz / He liked to hike things between his legs.”

Sometimes Buzz pauses from this hiking game to play fetch or sit on his table.

This particular day was the first really warm day and Buzz hadn’t even begun to blow his winter coat. And he hiked the ball a hundred times, played a lot of fetch, and wrestled like a madman with Tessa.

Both dog were getting a bit hot. But especially Buzz. Frequent trips to the water bucket were made.

Eventually, Buzz just lay down in the dirt by the water bucket, taking occasional sips.

Then I noticed that Buzz was using his nose to push the edge of the bucket over. Before I even had time to shoot a picture or grab the dog, he had dumped a gallon of cold water into the dirt, scratched the dirt up to make mud, and started to roll in it.


Are you laughing? Because I was.
The aforementioned beer probably help me find the funny.
But seriously, the freakin’ dog made mud to roll around in and then went to town on it before I could say boo.

It is actually kind of genius of him. If a dog is in danger of overheating my dog book recommends applying cool (not COLD) water to the head, neck, chest and abdomen--either in a dunk tank or by using wet towels.

Notice that Buzz got most of his nice, cool mud on his abdomen.

Yep, now he’s even doing his own first aid.

Also notice, that he wanted to play some more after this hot episode...not such a genius after all!

I ended up taking him inside and giving him a nice tepid bath. Yes, Buzz got a bath. Which he almost never gets, but he ground in that mud really well, so the usual plan--waiting for it to dry and then brushing it out—wasn’t going to work. Plus, I wanted to make sure he was cooled off and the water was a good way to accomplish that.

Right Buzz?

Uh-oh, looks like Buzz has been reading the adventures of the canine mafia!