Thanksgiving With The Woofies!

Thanksgiving With The Woofies!

 

By: Laurie-Beth Robbins

 

I am not procuring a turkey this year, when the Thanksgiving holiday rolls around. If doing such, I’ll merely stand in the kitchen, (AFTER the festive dinner is done), and righteously pick and pluck with gusto until I’ve eaten the entire crackling thing!

 

In this way, I am in complete understanding with and hold empathetic pain for my dear dogs. After all, these adorable creatures, if allowed, would just go and eat to the point of them puking even. And at least two of them would then gallantly gobble up all of THAT, and as if it’s fine caviar, lifted straight from the Caspian Sea!

 

It’s a very ravenous and off-putting spectacle to witness, this little “recycling ritual” that my pups so very dutifully do practice. Yes we all have it within ourselves, to quite happily just stuff and then stuff more!

 

Instead therefore, I am thinking about fish. Maybe seafood will allow this household to proudly hold onto some wisp or wing of willpower this Thanksgiving, or a mere modicum of dignity even, when it comes to luscious leftovers and that almighty “portion control” thing that’s such an impossible feat to even fathom.

 

What is it about this particular day on the calendar, or that “Thanksgiving Mystique,” that prompts us all to eat as if we’ve just barely survived all this time, and via food rations merely? Or handfuls of gruel!

 

With this quandary in mind, I asked my Dogs about Thanksgiving. Here is what one of them said…

 

I’m going to get out of bed on that morning and then go bark at the wall!

 

By doing this, I’ll burn some several zillion calories, and right away.

 

This may sound frivolous to all you gorging holiday goers and drunks; but if I can accrue some sneaky “reserve” points right now, then my great and encouraging, “Woofies Weight Watchers Club” will not violently kick my tuchas to the curb!

 

Then, when feeling more fully awake, quite strong like a bull, and just “cut out of granite,” I’ll brutally smash forward and then quite violently “head butt” my master – my little way of saying “Hello” – before I gallantly run right along, and smell my brothers’ rears, ears, and genitalia.

 

They say the only difference between mere “brown nosing” and righteous “ass kissing” in this great world is strictly a little matter of “depth perception,” so to speak. And so I am in! Woof-Woof crazy humans! It is Thanksgiving after all. Hear me ROAR!

 

Let’s face it, when you get all that judgmental stuff (analyzing another’s ilk) so swiftly out of the Thanksgiving way, and before it’s high noon, then we all can so fully be ourselves, and focus forthright intention to more important things going on. (Like eating the insides of a pillow and pretending that it’s my girlfriend, or humping my brother – just to confuse him, and all present company a little bit too – and then “marking” the lower right corner of every couch).

 

And when those human people just start massaging flasks of oil and handfuls of herbs all around in the crevices and corners of that fat bird? (Or that plump and eerily bumpy excuse for an animal)? The one that sits silently, and as it “tin pan nests” in all its raw and quite horribly pale skin – his fantastic innards having been removed and hidden somewhere amid this Godforsaken house? Well that’s just downright and unequivocally sick.

 

These folks have some mighty weird customs on this day, to say the least. For one thing, they douse everything with too much pumpkin! Cakes and pies, and soups and more! Then I’ll get a hold of all that orange colored goo, and go have diarrhea upon their bed. (They’ll be too busy playing “hostess with the most-mess” however, and so they won’t even find my little magic mound of holiday cheer, until they’re slipping into slumber land much later on). Heh, heh! Let’s see them covet so much obnoxious beta-carotene concocted crud the next year! I bet they switch to cheese. Silly orange people. What’s wrong with serving plain squash for all our dinner, or potatoes even? Pumpkin…Feh! Don’t they know what that does to a dog’s underwear?

 

And the relatives come over? Really? The ones my owners claim to hate even? (And the same folk whom my parents insist loathe them)? Why are people so phony when we dogs are just so genuine and real? No worries. If anyone starts arguing, then we pups can just go run and hide under the bed for a bit or two of time. That’s a much better spot to dwell in than most other nooks within reach, and it allows us to readily scream, pee, wolf down those poultry bones that didn’t make it so swiftly into the garbage can, and then gnaw the rug down there a tad more too! But Shhhh!!!! Let’s not let them know.

 

And whom in all Hades does a patient dog have to bite, to get a walk around here, on this calendar designated, “hectic date,” anyway? It seems these morons simply stand in the kitchen like a bunch of comatose zombie types, or stare at the football that’s on our TV, or worse yet, a good chunk of them just talk and they talk, and they will never shut up! Then they all eat more food – mounds upon mounds of glorious food – even the fat one over there! Incredulous stuff. And they think that we canines are a pack of puffy pigs? Boy are these turkey eaters some meshugenah nutcakes. They haven’t a clue.

 

 

 

And the fireplace is even all a flutter on this day, and yet for some odd reason, the people here seem so very pleased with this said flame! When I ate the charcoal as they prepped it all however, they started yelling! I think they’re manic, these weirdo human types, or that Thanksgiving brings out much neurosis from their twisted lot. Such isn’t Godlike, Doglike, or even that entertaining really. And yet they just erupt, and like little crackpots, left and right! Why can’t these people just chill? Is late November really worth all this fuss? Perhaps they have fleas.

 

And the libation practices on this particular day are just downright so FASCINATING to observe! I gaze around the room and see who’s well fermented deeply into their wine, and who is frothing right in tandem with their 42nd beer. And then I fixate on the fact that some strong smelling and intriguingly mysterious, “brown liquor” is warming the cheeks of those who stand out on the porch, and sip like Kings!

 

With this most interesting practice circulating the room, I’ll simply decide that I too should be “drinking” something grand. We dogs get thirsty after all and especially when nobody seems to be remembering to check our water dish on this busy day. But Ooh! I spot Uncle Jack’s unattended fourth tumbler with such murky liquid and just ice. Delish! I’m guessing, or based solely on my first sip anyway, that it’s a Macallan, perhaps a 21-year – and single malt and triple cask matured – and one incredibly smooth mother of a sultry sip of something? But then again, I’ll need to finish the entire glass, in order to really know for sure. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh, Thanksgiving!

 

………..

 

Cheers! And to a very safe and sensational Thanksgiving for you AND your dogs!

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*Laurie-Beth Robbins is a writer, a passionate “Foodie-Wineaux” chick, and a dogaholic. She contributes a column to Dog House Diaries on the first of each month, and lives on the New Hampshire seacoast, with her husband and three dogs: Tabouli, Voss, and Steak Tartare.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes Virginia, My “Dog Life” Suits Me Just Fine!

By: Laurie-Beth Robbins

A gal, who likes outings and bars to a fair degree, critiqued my doings. Oh let’s just call her “Virginia,” for anonymity sake; and she’s among a bevy of individuals who just don’t get it, no not at all, when it comes to how I live my life and in accordance with my dear precious canine pack.  And that’s OK.

You see, my husband, (before meeting me), had traveled on business to Korea 28 times, yet to Mexico 54, and to England 41, and to Switzerland 32, and to Holland a “baker’s dozen,” not to mention his company sojourns to places like Brazil, Sweden, Russia and the Ukraine, least we forget Taiwan, and too of course, China, and certainly Japan. The list goes on. But this is about dogs after all, and so I’ll wrap up my man’s past and lengthy quite worldly itinerary, (or for now anyway), as there’s a cyclical point to this shared blather. There really is!

As for myself? I’d taken up residency in places like Sweden and Greece for some dear time. And I’d embarked around this precious globe a little bit, (from swanky St. Barth’s to Japan and Paris too, and then some other fun places that dwelled right between). Moreover I had moved 54 times, and since the tender age of 18 nonetheless, and knew the sensation thus of what it meant to up and “run” in the dark hours of any night.  Don’t get me wrong now, as we (my soulmate and I) have never been and are most certainly not, “on the lam,” nor has our travel been anything short of mere boring and highly legal and pedestrian fun. Nonetheless, we have quite “done it” and done it to the hilt as some things go. And thus suddenly, (as Chekhov said so well), “It all was clear!”

I’d dated every famous chef, lawyer, and some folk whom I just shall never ever “kiss and tell” about, if truth be known; but to learn that paradisiacal places, palm trees too, and puffed out egos from hypocritical people, do not a happy lifetime authentically make.  And so, when my husband and I eloped, and in one hell of a Siberian whiteout snowstorm nonetheless – complete with a blue moon and our nuptial date landing on none other than New Year’s Eve – (standing before a JP, each other, our puppy dogs and God); we vowed never to participate in any “contrived” and “obligatory” things again – not even travel.

For us you see, every dance must be real. Case in point: A magnificent cocker spaniel entered our lives in 2008, stage right, and everything changed. Forever.  Not only did my mate and I stop eating out in restaurants, (we adore grilling, chilling, cooking, booking, or in the “read a book” sense of home bound and house lounging things), but we also quite clearly decided, never ever, to leave our dogs all by themselves.

Hold onto your leashes and lashing out in any way, as I do NOT insist nor judge anyone who opts to send their canine to a crate, or to a doggy daycare, or to the upper level tier of their own home even, and for their puppy dog’s “reverie” while they embark outside their house toward something else. That’s all just fine!

For my husband and I however, we had been re-aligned, and with a system that grounded us, and also “worked” for us, in quite beautiful ways. We suddenly had to face each other, talk to one another, care and micro-manage the dog doings and the dog watching (if one of us had an appointment out) and we had to literally, “Give up anything,” as the saying goes, “to in turn discover, receive, and embrace and enjoy EVERYTHING!”

It is a tricky thing to articulate, and I’ll share quite openly that we in turn forgo each and every movie premier, restaurant opening, spa open house, and multiple fetes. Occasionally, we do get a dog sitter for some things, but let the record state that two cocker spaniels did indeed accompany me, when my husband got his vasectomy done, and needed a “designated driver” to bring him safely and succinctly home. And so very little can separate us from our dear dogs. Such is fact. (Not to worry, as I send very good wine to that urologist, and I most certainly revere his allowance of four legged creatures, and in such a sterile environment no less). His zeal is marked!

But we don’t leave the dogs all by themselves at any time. We just do not. And this IS over the top, and thus our tragic figure, “Virginia,” IS in so many ways most certainly right. EXCEPT for the fact and sentiment, that one should never ever judge another human being’s journey of why they are here. One should never pretend to know what somebody else has moved through, what they are presently doing amid their days, what their needs and future course is all about, or why they do the things they do. What is that great yoga expression? (“Eyes on your own mat”)! That’s how we grow.

May every dog person do his or her own thing! And may we human creatures learn to WALK LIKE A DOG in some respects too – via a pup’s innate ability to be so unequivocally in the “present moment,” or to stroll away (versus stay, kvetch, and dwell) from any scent that doesn’t serve them as “good to get to know.” May we honor and/or in some ways quite righteously mock even, their uncanny, and unabashed knack, of so very lucidly surrendering right into a “deep sleep” whenever needed. May we be humble students. And may we, in so many unfathomable ways therefore, learn much!

As I type this column, my “Tibetan Terrier rescue” sleeps at my feet. He is a powerful reminder, (as are his brothers), that I am right, precisely, where I am supposed to be. No airplane needed.  Besides, when dogs meet and greet each other, and for the very first time anyway, they simply smell each other’s ass! And when you think about that quite “colorful bit of trivia” too, we people could get a hell of a lot certainly out of the way, (when it comes to understanding each person for who they really are), and break down pretentious and ridiculous perfunctory fronts, when doing the same.

Note to Self: Try new approach at next Chamber Mixer.

Cheers and happy October to you and your Woofies!

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*Laurie-Beth Robbins is a writer, a passionate “Foodie-Wineaux” chick, and a dogaholic. She contributes a column to Dog House Diaries on the first of each month, and lives on the New Hampshire seacoast, with her husband and three dogs: Tabouli, Voss, and Steak Tartare.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will The Real “Dog People” Please Stand Up?

By: Laurie-Beth Robbins

There are “Dog People” and there are “Non-Dog People.” And I respect both.  But there’s a new echelon that’s up and coming and über trendy amid today’s market of “hipster chic,” Reality TV nonsensical splatter, and that bastardized language some call “Twitter.”  That third lot is the ever loving, “Want To Be” dog lover people, and/or those who feel that by relaying the message that they just absolutely “LOVE dogs,” that they shall in turn garner a larger client base, voting population, country club golf invite for the day, or harem.  It’s not that different really, than an insurance salesman pitch, albeit with all the woof and circumstance made about how very tolerant and “easy going” an individual may pretend to be, in the genre of supposedly loving canines.

Having raised four dogs at a time, I’ve thus got to weigh in…I really don’t care whether someone adores dogs, or thinks that they should be served as a gourmet and eight-course dinner. OK, OK, so as both a gourmand AND a pampering puppy mother, I can ASSURE you that I am not in favor of serving Cocker Spaniel (or any other breed, let the record state) for somebody’s meal. My heart is not only attached to charities for helping dogs – as is my wallet – but that species has changed my life forever, and I am summoned therefore to do whatever I can to help change theirs.  But I frankly don’t judge, or find it “Godlike and kind,” (as the saying goes), to cast aspersions toward someone who simply dislikes dogs. That is their prerogative. So long as they don’t go out on some deplorable killing rampage and/or hurt dogs in any way, I can indeed accept and agree to “peacefully disagree” with the like or dislike and adoption choices regarding such animals. Let’s face it, it’s really not everyone’s thing nor should it be.  And that’s not a problem.

When people claim however, to LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, and then LOVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVE, dogs; I am then of the belief that this means that they’d actually like to pet them, snuggle with them, visit me while I am with them, (possibly even dog sit – I have VERY nice food and wine provided, plus cash for such tasks, by the way), and/or hear funny “dog stories” from time to time, due to their said adoration.  What I have come to realize about this sociological group however, is that they “LOVE” the concept merely, of saying that they are “dog people.” (I love the concept of saying that I’m a super model too, as it has such a jazzy nice ring to it in ways, and yet it’s FALSE). I thus can’t muster up any respect for these misrepresentative liars!

You see, the difference between telling somebody that you “Love Dogs,” (versus you loving the Amalfi Coast, Abu Dhabi, Aspen, or some other fantastic lavish place that begins with an “A,” where you have never ever been), is that most likely, the recipients of such news are NOT going to invite you to venture there, via the luxurious amenities gifted by their private jet, as they embark along their holiday. But they may very well remember you as a potential sitter for their precious creatures, when they go abroad, due to your exclaimed and overzealous proclamation about “favoring dogs.”

And you’ve met these posers that I’m talking about! (The ones that say they love dogs, and that it’s “Really, really fine if you bring them along to our picnic”). Then, the very same individuals go into anaphylactic shock when your dogs are so much as walking near them, (or God forbid try to kiss them), and happily jumping up on their couches and chairs as to find their pleasant spot, while the humans “discuss” whatever else is so very important.  The people fidget, get up twice or thrice to move “the good pillow,” or to suggest that the water dish be moved to the other hallway, or to remark about how “when sitting for their cousin’s dog, he was IMPECABLY behaved and never got on any of the furniture whatsoever.” (This only helps me to see clearly, that my dogs are not pretending to be anything other than what/whom they are, and that the room is made up of phony creatures who’d do well to take up drinking more, or at minimum a belly dance class or two). Relax a little!!!! You have a forest full of ear hair, that’s downright nauseating, and apparently of no concern to you, yet you worry about some non-shedding paws gracing your 30 year-old couch? After inviting the dogs to come along, no less? Have some fun!

Granted, if one chooses to “not” adopt dogs, that is one hundred percent fine by me. And don’t get me wrong, as I could care less as to whether people want dogs in their abode or they don’t. (My parents are not “dog people” per se, and I am more than happy not to bring my furry boys into their home).  Yet if you SAY that you love this said specimen, then you need to authentically, thoroughly, and unequivocally own that! This means that fur, drool, and yes, even urine, (sounds like my last classified ad dating liaison back in my single days), but all of these fluids and “things,” and from a mutt most likely, could don your skirt. In this regard Monica Lewinsky could still pass checkpoint!

What these people SHOULD say instead perhaps, is that they LOVE dogs, so long as they act like highly repressed, brainwashed, militant, and privileged prep school kids, who aren’t spoken to much by their parents, and who’ve learned at an early age that speaking at all, (and particularly at the dinner table of all stoic places), is something forbidden on most accounts.  Therefore, so long as your dog doesn’t resemble a dog per se; and is devoid of a personality and any warmth, and has a name like…Mitt Romney???…then all should just go gloriously! “BRING THE DOGS! WE’RE FINE WITH IT – REALLY!” Tsk. Tsk. Tsk.

Look, I hate mayonnaise, kids, people who snore, and most of all; hosting guests overnight. And I OWN those! I DO! (Each and every one of them, and with tremendous disdain and quite genuine and open loathing). I do not believe such pet peeves are helping to solidify my seat at any Hellmann’s conference, win me points with any Soccer Moms, grant me a cot at some sleep study clinic, nor do I think that the Bed & Breakfast Association is going to loan me ten million dollars anytime soon, to open a chain of places with terrible quilts, squeaky beds, and quite creepy and outdated armoires. And that’s OK! I own my dislikes and I am vocal and open about each one.

I therefore don’t invite someone to, “Go ahead, and bring your babies with you, as breastfeeding in my living room is MORE than just fine, and then when your hyperkinetic and ill-mannered child goes and opens up my cupboard and proceeds to throw each and every pan and lid and ladle upon the newly cleaned floor, I will think it’s so “CUTE!” As I do not.  I simply tell people that I don’t do kids, or overnights, and to hold the mayo. (And to know that I could knife someone in their sleep, and with circus trained thrust and precision, if an onslaught of snoring should commence at any time). KIDDING! Sort of.  But I am honest about my boundaries – that I am – and I feel that “non-dog” people, should wholeheartedly be this way too. I am happy after all, hiring a dog sitter, and thus leaving my pampered pooches, (or myself too), at home.

The bottom line is that morning people should be with morning people and that night owls should dwell among those who choose to party throughout the dark. People who prefer their meat RARE need to match up with others who do the same (otherwise Chateaubriand becomes a really complicated thing) and then vast “DOG People,” need to socialize with those who get it when choosing to have dinner parties that include one’s pets.  So simply meet those “other people,” (who claim to love dogs yet really don’t), out and about somewhere, and thus away from your puppy pack. And then watch this same lot squirm righteously – mark my words – when they tell their server that they’d just “LOVE” their entrée served “medium rare,” yet when it arrives as such, they send the steak back, and call it “raw.”

Cheers, and to people learning about authenticity, and from their DOGS!

*Laurie-Beth Robbins is a writer, a passionate “Foodie-Wineaux” chick, and a dogaholic. She contributes a column to Dog House Diaries on the first of each month, and lives on the New Hampshire seacoast, with her husband and three dogs: Tabouli, Voss, and Steak Tartare.

 

 

 

 

Retail Therapy – Why A Good Dog Bed Can Save Your Marriage!

By: Laurie-Beth Robbins

 I used to sleep with five men every night, and I liked it.

Now, now, don’t size me up as some blunt and prurient exhibitionist, (nude beach enjoyment aside); as four of those five males mind you, were simply my adorable dogs!

I’d bought my puppies their own beds, quite often – I DID! But the ravenous creatures just gobbled them up. That’s right; fluff, thread, and fabric, be gone!

And so, twenty-two dog crate, bed, sofa, chaise, igloo, mat, crib, and car seats later, (not to mention dragging an old mattress up alongside our own, to serve as “theirs,” and too, designating the entire guest room as a “dog room” that provided the animals their private queen sized cushy place to stretch), I had simply given up on the said quest of training my handsome pooches to sleep somewhere other than in my arms.

After all, and as a clever pal of mine reminds me so well, “We won’t be signing our dogs up for Westminster anytime soon!” Therefore, if my furry kids prefer to sleep with their Mommy, then what’s so psychologically Oedipal or twisted about that? (Note to any psychiatrists reading this: Please feel the need NOT to answer the above question).

All seriousness aside however, how bad could it genuinely be, to have your precious pets gently laying their heads upon your pillow? Couldn’t grand solace emerge even, when these creatures are ever so happily snuggled up in your engulfing and dear embrace? What could be so terrible, frankly, about a benevolent puppy dog firmly “pinning you in,” as to secure his place, and yours, throughout the night?

Heard of tick season anyone? I will spare you some downright nasty and vivid imagery that plagues my ever so worrisome mind, but to say that in the “Live Free or Die” lovely state of old New Hampshire, (its focus on individual liberties being strong), it is nonetheless a “Tick Mecca,” of unfathomable proportion. And if you DON’T find a bevy of these badass bugs atop your dog, cat, or self for that unpleasant matter, you are a walking, bona fide, and miraculous, statistical rarity. Better put, you don’t exist!

Frontline applications aside, there are a host of reasons that placing canines between your thighs, as you drift away into la-la land, (and for many of us that means in the buff), just isn’t so comforting. And whether the Kama Sutra is your bible, or whether you’re “old school” and truly in bed just to sleep; it is impossible to adequately get those sanctimonious “8 hours” (of anything mind you, as I have tested this theory well) when you’ve got one snoring husband, and four stretched out dogs, that are taking up most of your bed.

And so? I bought my husband a very fashionable dog bed for his reverie, and thus eradicated the problem with one swift and wildly astute, resolving purchase! OK, OK, so in actuality I bought THREE fabulous canine couch concoctions of sorts, and am astounded and delighted to share that my pack of puppy cutie pies just righteously adores them!

Have I some trifecta of tips, as to assure that even an exhausted shopper (having up until now never gotten it right) can miraculously and effortlessly train their pampered pooches to sleep on their own places of rest? Indeed!

  • Buy a bed that’s LARGER than your dog’s size. (For years I procured dog beds based on the suggested size retailers provided, as per my dogs’ measurements or weight. No wonder they found our big spacious slumber area more enticing)!
  • Go for comfort, not “cool” designs! (Let’s face it, your pets don’t prioritize the leopard print cushion or canopy bed covering nearly half as much as you do, and most likely would rather flop down on a mound of freshly cleaned laundry, and/or anything that offers a nice bolster for their reclining shape.
  • Ignore the bed! After wasting time by placing dog toys, cookies and my own clothes (and thus sent) onto each of the sleep contraptions I’d bought in the past, only to have my dogs look away from me and perhaps write me off as some vast lunatic; (again, don’t feel the urge to comment here per se), I alas merely unwrapped the new (and ever so successful “luxury chaise” lounge beds) and never approached them or even so much as looked at them again! But my dogs DID.

Half the fun for a pup after all, is to explore and put curiosity and prowess toward some purchases that “might” be taboo for them to touch. What I’d procured from www.drsfostersmith.com – complete with soft velvety covers that can unzip and go right into the washing machine, with the beds themselves being overstuffed with plenty of “MiracleLoft® Polyfil,” turned out to be the “elephant sized” point of interest in the room, and something unavoidable for my dogs to embrace!

My dogs are on their beds in the day, by choice, and at night drifting sweetly into their dreams – a soft “flying carpet” perhaps magically transporting them wherever they wish!

As for some marital tips? Or the proof that such retail therapy could be the modern day dog owning couple’s “glue” and better-spent investment – and more than counseling even? Having never done “lovers sessions” with any shrink, I cannot aptly speak about the latter. But I WILL share that at the end of an evening, when the only thing left is to get horizontal with your mate and count your blessings for one more “glorious gift of a day,” it is genuinely nice to have some cuddle room. (Devoid of little furry bodies that prompt an individual to scrunch up, freeze, and fear any movement at all, in efforts not to crush one’s beloved pet).

Besides, for those occasional moments still, (a thunderstorm, fireworks or the like), when a dog or two DOES want to burrow under our covers, and can thus make things complicated, crowded, and/or cramped; it’s not a problem! My husband now has THREE dog beds that he can choose from, to go and sleep in.


Cheers, and sweet dreams, to you and your pack!

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*Laurie-Beth Robbins is a writer, a passionate “Foodie-Wineaux” chick, and a dogaholic. She contributes a column to Dog House Diaries on the first of each month, and lives on the New Hampshire seacoast, with her husband and three dogs: Tabouli, Voss, and Steak Tartare.

 

 

Can’t We Just Give Them Lobster, And Then Go To The Beach?

 

By: Laurie-Beth Robbins

 

 

It’s 6:30 on one monsoon rain of a morning. I am on the phone with Animal Poison Control and giving them sixty-five dollars off my credit card, as to learn whether my miniature schnoodle is going to die.

 

My dog ate a Clorox wipe this morning, and just four seconds after I’d used the wet cloth to mop down my ever so sticky and filthy counter tops. (I’d naively assumed that I’d made the great toss of that item, and right into the nearby and overflowing trash).

 

Note to self: You are NOT a basketball player nor do you play one on TV. Never ever therefore, think your mildly focused slam dunks are “all that.”

 

What is it about some pups that insist on eating first and asking questions later? This is the same dog mind you, that grabbed a plump, RAW, salmon steak – bones, skin and all – directly off a platter that donned the deck table as prep for the grill. He gulped the fish instantaneously and then jumped about like an overzealous kangaroo, in pursuit of more!

 

Weighing in at just 18.2 pounds, this snuggly creature has also once happily snatched a raw cuttlefish from my day’s major meal, (the succulent bite just smothered in fresh pesto), and then proceeded to run vast laps around the yard with the said mollusk dangling from his mouth – tentacles flapping about – as if he’d proudly caught some day’s mighty find, perhaps a live mouse or a bird.

 

This canine eats potholders, washcloths, dog toys, and tubes of makeup. He will grab anything and everything that remotely exists within reach – that’s right, bugs, upholstery, my husband’s “anti-snore” mouth guard, and perhaps the UPS man to boot! Yet never, not even once, has this creature so much as licked one of my precious shoes. (A smart choice).

 

But hide the Neosporin now, or swanky face cream too! Conceal any feminine protection items, and be certain to move that coarse new nail file, or Q-tips, hair scrunchies, and towels as well! Even when this dog was accidentally injured, and then returned from the vet with metal staples in one of his legs, (a mini-suture attempt); the little man readily yanked out each and every stitch, chewed them up gallantly, and down his tiny gullet they did go!

 

Can’t find the car keys? Or sunglasses? An undershirt, empty water bottle, or socks? Check Tabouli! Is he under the bed? The household search begins therefore, and with all swift moving team operatives (my other dogs too) enlisted to help…

 

Now if you Google that obsessive-compulsive eating disorder called “PICA,” (where creatures eat nonnutritive selections of things, such as sheetrock or tinfoil), I would not in the least bit be shocked, if some giant popup with my little Tabouli’s picture emerged upon your screen. (And with him sporting an enormous “Cat in the cream” kind of smile). No matter how you slice it, this puppy’s appetite is charged full throttle, and 24 hours each day.

Least I omit reporting on his voracious appetite for all aspects of nature and the season’s weather elements too. Snow, rocks, dirt, grass, dandelions, insects, (living or dead) and the litany of things that he’ll devour goes on and on!

Certainly, my vets know me well.

 

Having had this dog’s vitals checked, as to rule out any chronic illness, I am grateful indeed to report that he is to the best of all of our knowledge quite healthy. He’s up to date on all his vaccines and tests, and this does bring some counterbalance or comfort to my absolute panic, when witnessing one of his besiegements of food.

 

It is without exaggeration however, that I depict my dog’s procurement of miscellaneous objects and appetizers, in saying that he downright pillages his next potential “food prey,” and as if he’s Attila the Hun entering a village and beginning the attack!

 

Tabouli charges into our kitchen as if he’s storming the Bastille prison in 1789 right along with scores of French Revolutionists! (They run alongside perhaps in his head – he too being tired of that “Let them eat cake” snooty standard, as his insatiable pallet is being primed for something else).

 

This puppy’s powerful prowess, when on the hunt, is only heightened by the strong, guttural, and near deafening sounds that emerge from his obfuscating little being when he is grabbing something that clearly doesn’t belong inside his tender stomach.

 

Like a grumbling Viking, at some Scandinavian smörgåsbord of epic proportion – Glögg and Mead filling goblets in bountiful droves – Tabouli can damn near ROAR in such a manner, that any guest might possibly pee a little even, just out of fright! (I’m convinced that this has happened actually, and that my dinner invitees are just too shy to ever say). His consumption is alarming, frightening, and even quite fascinating from a mere scientifically obscene level in ways as well! What would Beowulf do? I’m telling you folks; this baby dog can gulp it down!

 

One man, whom I know well, wears a toupee. And it is with intentional and diplomatic precision therefore, that I don’t have this said gentleman to dinner. As I’m convinced, that should his wig shift and/or tilt haphazardly, in even the slightest bit of error, that my grinning Tabouli (and with rapid and sly skill) will extract that fringed “piece” from the man’s skull, and then snort and howl at a supersonic pitch, followed by a strident parade across the living room floor with his new pièce de résistance. He’ll tiptoe tepidly up to each individual next; revealing his swift scalping finesse, (as if sanctimonious ritual has been performed), and then he’ll eat it!

 

Rest assured, if you are not on my regular “brunch invite list,” such decisions most likely have nothing to do with YOU!

 

Quite flabbergasting indeed it is, to see this schnoodle’s zeal, or to watch him gobble up an entire apricot (pit still inside) that accidentally rolls out from the open fridge door onto the floor. Equally baffling to be privy to is the fact that this, well, for lack of a better expression, “good eater,” will quite thrillingly swallow any pill or bite of medicine that’s offered to him when needed. In this regard, I suppose it’s time that I count my many blessings…

 

Don’t get me wrong, as I’m so in love with my dogs (have GOT to stop breast feeding them in public) that it’s quite often that many people do say that I’m “over the top!” I will cook for my pooches, clean them with love and adoration, and I can basically put it all out there right now, and admit that I DO indeed enjoy them quite more than some people!

 

As a Jewish mother certainly too, it goes without saying that I want my sweet boys to sit and eat, eat, and then eat! However, yanking the lint from the little dryer tray, and running down the stairs with such mounds of colored dust half chewed and gone, (taking the term “zero to 60” to new esteem), does not a kvelling Mama genuinely make. Altogether now, shall we? Oy vey iz mir!

 

And wile the “Dogs In The City” expert or dear Cesar Millan and the like, would have an absolute field day with this animal, (and with his mom undoubtedly too), my Tabouli prince is of course a “dog of the seacoast” and thus not in geographical proximity to swanky specialists per se; and so I take ownership of ME having to handle things, and well.

 

Not only did I redirect this furry boy, and from his tastings to instead some toys, and increased his exercise too, but I created the ever polite and congenial, “Thank You” game, in which I OVER ENUNCIATE the words “thank you,” (and in this gentle and seemingly romantic stage whisper if you will), prompting my sir Tabouli to readily drop the rock that’s in his mouth, and to receive great praise in return!

 

I am proud to reveal that my son enjoys the “thank you” game almost as much as he does eating whatever he can find, though we still do have a couple relapses from time to time, like on that pensive ‘rain day,’ when stuck inside the house and Clorox wipes seemed pretty appealing to the man.

 

The mystique in all of this however, is that I’m constantly educating my non-dog owning friends, as to just how very complicated it can be today, to raise a canine. (Safely that is). When I was a child, I did not know anyone who brushed their dog’s teeth, applied any kind of topical monthly flea and tick prevention (or gave their pup heartworm preventative pills), and nobody EVER worried about feeding dogs a couple of grapes, raisins, or some host of other “no-no” foods; as having a dog was pretty easy.

 

This begs the bloody question therefore about all of our efforts and angst as dog parents. After all, can’t we just feed them lobster and then go to the beach?

 

Obviously, such nonchalance just doesn’t cut it. We have got to care about whether it was a shallot peal that fell to the tiles, a store receipt, or my husband’s fish oil supplements too. We have got to be ‘awake’ to the dangers that lurk (not dissimilar to “child-proofing” a house) when certain dogs are in specific environments holding triggers that tempt and summon them to go explore!

 

While dogs are in their element when on the beach, and seem to come alive, full force, as they gallop “off leash” with dramatic aplomb; they can in turn get attacked by other strange canines, become congested and or itchy from salt, sand, wind, and climactic conditions, and they can more readily consume glass or garbage even, depending upon what’s been left in the surf. Some puppies smell a special creature and run right up between houses too, right away from the beach and then into the road! Others return home albeit in soaking wet and muddy condition, and with a guaranteed ear infection to follow.

 

To look to our labs, cockers, pugs, or whatever breed they be, and with a laissez faire attitude about it all – crustacean treats thrown their way without worry and them monopolizing the full terrain or local beach without our care; just isn’t going to happen.

 

We are here as advocates for these precious “gifts” that we receive. And unlike the “tough love” one might deliver to a child, as to help him grow wings and independence in every facet of his colorful life, a dog, is never ever going to take himself to the doctor, brush his own teeth, clean his ears and body, and cook a meal for he and his brethren to enjoy. We are here, to “appear” or emerge, on constant watch.

 

And I don’t mind the heightened accountability involved in caring for a canine today. Much like increased disease in human lifestyles during this era, (perhaps due to fillers, preservatives and massive mounds of junk food being wolfed down or considered popular amid the dietary habits of many), dogs today of course too, are being diagnosed more often with terrible cancers and there is so much that must be done and/or cannot be ignored regarding consumption and health and that balance.

 

I’m authentically happy to take on that challenge because it means that I am therefore receiving the role and thus responsibility too, of joyously having my dogs as a part of my life. If one doesn’t welcome in the bevy of stress, mess, and at times even duress, or if one basically says, “I cannot handle this in my life,” then as any spiritually evolved soul will teach us, we are then also “closing that almighty door” to the opportunity and in turn too, all the good.  One can’t have just one, without the components that help make all great things to also happen, to improve, and to bring solace to us in measurements that cannot be weighed.

 

Alas, I well stumbled upon some serendipitous solution to my snatching schnoodle’s ravenousness and lack of discretion regarding objects. Seeing as I adore cooking and arranging each daily feast, I began requesting Tabouli’s help, (that’s right, designating him as some acclaimed and highly coveted sous chef, or perhaps that adorable little rodent in the sweet film “Ratatouille,” that assists while others cook), and just WOW what a difference this had made!

 

No longer does he outright steal any morsel of food, when being called to sit directly by my side and help prepare what we shall eat. He is newly interested and seemingly inquisitive to watch, and with tennis match eyes darting back and forth as I putz left and right around my kitchen – from the stove to the sink and so it goes.

 

Tabouli is fixated on what “Mommy is going to chop,” or on a myriad of phrases and gestures that have taught me that as long as he can see what I am doing, and too, that he’s a participant in some way, (me calling him from another floor altogether and informing him that, “It is time to help Mommy make dinner”), then he respects and therefore rejects even, the opportunity to pluck something from my clutches, counter or half ajar cupboard. (Stand back Culinary Institute of America, as a new wave of “Canine Cooks” could just become the next “Top Cheftestants” of our future)! Stranger things have happened after all. Or in my house odder occurrences take place and every day.

 

Besides, my adorable schnoodle genuinely seems to receive more contentment from his new role, versus when he eats the day’s find and forbidden fruit. And this makes great sense to me, because as the old adage says so well, “Feed a man a fish, and you feed him for a day, but TEACH a man to fish and you then feed him for a lifetime.” And with 6 red mullets on my grill this very second, I can share that holding my cuddly dog up to the level of the grill, and thus allowing him to watch, (while being held underneath one of my arms as I nudge this Greek delicacy with tongs extended from my other), not only gives the guy a lesson in how to prepare a Mediterranean treat; but it takes some of his once perverse thrill, away. Why grab what is clearly within your reach already, and what is more interesting to therefore appreciate?

 

As for “appreciation” or my gratitude for every little blessing that does indeed abound, those Animal Poison experts quite thankfully did assure me that all would be fine. I was to feed my dog pumpkin, (to assist in him passing the cloth which he ate), and be watchful for any major stomach upset. (To exclaim “Hallelujah” would not even do justice to the relief, peace, and religious place I then found, as I exuded many thanks to the patient representative on the other side of the phone).

 

Ten minutes later, my man Tabouli had up and gutted a toy octopus, the fluff or synthetic cotton atop my couch and his widened eyes piercing enthusiastically toward the pile. And with the phone call I’d just made considered into that equation, I could only view this as a somewhat good sign this time, as far as his energy was concerned. However I DID ask him readily, to get up and to instead, “Come help Mommy make a delicious black rice bread piece of toast!” Worked like a charm!

 

Cheers to your Independence Day celebrations and to finding ways to extend some safer “freedoms” to your sweet dogs!

 

***************************************************************************************

 

*Laurie-Beth Robbins is a writer, a passionate “Foodie-Wineaux” chick, and a dogaholic. She contributes a column to Dog House Diaries on the first of each month, and lives on the New Hampshire seacoast, with her husband and three dogs: Tabouli, Voss, and Steak Tartare.

 

 

 

 

To People Grilling, Dog Chilling, And All Being Right With The World!

By: Laurie-Beth Robbins

Summer is here! And as hunks of luscious grilled octopus, layered over mounds of brown rice spaghetti, fill up my plate, (drenched in delicious oil, and dusted with savory Herbs de Provence, pink Himalayan sea salt, and freshly ground pepper); my four precious dogs sit to my left.

For onlookers and guests, it is commonplace therefore, to enter my home and find me putzing around in the kitchen – wine and olives well open, and serving happily as my dedicated “sous chefs” for every night – as I prepare a smorgasbord of sumptuous, healthful, and satisfying selections to don the grill.

More often than not however, one will remark how aromatic the steamed brown rice is, or how delectable the mere sight of the grilled red garnet yams are, or how appetizing the nicely seared game meats do look. I then explain that “our dinner” is yet to be revealed. (At that point however, I am simply getting the dogs’ food arranged, and out of the way, as to aid in their better behavior, so that we all may quite righteously dine).

“I’ll have what your dogs are having,” is uttered more times than not, when I am cooking, as I’m reminded time and again by anyone who meets my canines and me, that they so dearly then wish, to “come back in another lifetime,” as one of my dogs. For this reason alone, how very grateful am I!

But let me take this moment too, and humbly so, (and in the name of expressing how very “tricky” some menus can be), to say that at the end of each day, it is my DOGS who appear to have a swankier palate and/or more “gratitude” for eating in general, than most of my guests.

While my pooches will not go anywhere remotely near a fillet of fresh sole, (the damndest thing), they are indeed zealous fans of any other salacious fish, scrumptious seafood, posh poultry, and too, exotic game meats.

In fact it is through my dogs’ appetite for such things, (like ostrich, caribou, llama and more), that I have come to look at the act of merely savoring every meal, (regardless of what ingredients are involved), as not only a mode of survival, but as a God given gift, and that at minimum one worth a hundred, if not million, zaftig tail wags. Cheers to that!

So for ANYONE entertaining this summer, (whether human guests grace your table, or instead panting dogs do then swiftly “enter your stage right” and with hunger to boot), this column, is unequivocally for you!

……………….

The problem as I see it, with eating bear, is simply that the animal is just too darn fatty. From a flavor standpoint, their meat is packed with an intense and deeply oily, and savory taste. (Perhaps all the salmon skin that those enormous wild animals do eat, lends to this sizzling and almost piquant and unpredictable mystique).

But when trimming a shoulder roast of bear, the task is never ending, as one encounters heaps and masses of white globules, or countless hidden pockets rather, of thick, and hardened blubber-like suet, and at every turn!

Like opening a door, only to find another one, and then another after that, or as if playing with those colorful and artistic Russian Matryoshka dolls (one hidden inside the next like an egg); trimming bear fat, and on an already “butcher cleaned” hunk, or loin of meat nonetheless, requires patience and meticulous skill.

I was standing in my kitchen (which at that time was up in Vermont) and now some sordid years back. I was a slave to this said grizzly challenge. And it became very clear to me at that time, that whatever I chose for a menu, when entertaining, (at each and every different hosted dinner nonetheless), was always so wrong.

Whether cooking for vegans and serving what I deemed to be one beautiful Tabouli dish, (with wonderful sprigs of fresh mint even), or instead springing for caviar, and with the full “accoutrements,” (when savvy wino and foodie types were coming to dinner), I’ve been consistently shell-shocked by the fact that people don’t really eat with righteous gusto, nor do they kvell and rave so glowingly about each bite.

Some guests have visited me for an entire day or several hours at least, and yet declined to eat any food – as in “at all” – despite them having agreed to come over for something that most dictionaries today refer to as “lunch.”

That’s right, through my every meal, amid my cooking repertoire and hosting zeal, (taking a Tupperware container with my homemade cioppino back to the fishmongers who sold me the pounds of luscious seafood for that delicacy, or dropping off some “alligator-crocodile-saffron-risotto” to the gourmet grocer who helped locate the select and rare spices for me to use); my Hamish gesture, at some point does come back, and just bite me in the rear! The people throw the food out, (scared out of their minds to even nibble on it some) or they feel incredibly embarrassed, intimidated, and awkward, and as if they must now come up with some obligatory and lengthy “culinary review,” or make me some treat to thus eat, and on that evening even, in return.

When did serving people a mere bite of food, become so complicated?

Giving food to our furry friends is an easier labor of love!

To a dog, it is a privilege to get a lick even, of something new! But when back on what should be fair human terms, things rarely go as lucidly or well.

I not long ago had a buffed and thickly built, young military man visit, who’d somehow suffered through all phases of “Air Force food” and across our vast globe – the Iraqi desert too – yet he left almost all of his grilled chicken thighs and salad on his well covered plate. (When here with me). It was as if he could barely work up room, but for one morsel.

A web designer came to the house for a meeting that I had called (and a meal I mentioned I’d provide) and not only did he pass on any of the grilled elk chops and spinach salad that was fresh, but he refused any offering of food whatsoever – not an olive even. Was he on a diet?

I held a student reunion for some college kids I used to teach, and in turn spread out an ENORMOUS “Caprese salad,” and with the real buffalo mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, and fresh local basil, (on a mammoth rectangular board that I had to go to Home Depot to get, cut, and then shape, due to its size), and enhanced with over 12 pounds of giant cooked and peeled shrimp. To my absolute astonishment, that group just barely ate, but for the cakes and sweets that a few of them had kindly brought along as their gifts. College students? Christ, when I was in college, I not only hungered for a couple of my professors, (school girl crush as it goes), but would have driven to Canada, and at night, for a mere “All you can eat” Chinese buffet! And twice or thrice did actually! (On the latter that is).

Didn’t anyone’s Mommy and Daddy teach them that when you go to someone’s home for a meal, you are supposed to eat? What is wrong with this big starving yet great nation? Are they counting calories, carbs, and/or carcasses?

Why on earth wouldn’t people so graciously, and politely, (but for any allergies or religious dietary restrictions that they’ve carefully specified before coming to the host’s abode), pick up a fork? And experience something offered to them, and from someone’s hospitable and warm kitchen? I just don’t get it.

Not only do I always ask guests, and long before our scheduled rendezvous, about particular items that are “off limits” for them to consume, but I also spend a small fortune to assure that the freshest ingredients and most exotic and still healthful cuisine shall grace our table. Yet even a bowl from an entirely organic pot of chicken cacciatore, (that I masterfully whipped up with fabulous wafting aromas that could have lured in a pack of wolves) – fennel seeds being the almighty secret ingredient – remained in the ceramic dish handed to one somewhat heavyset man, who simply stared at it while here. Was my selection too healthy? Oy, it’s getting so difficult to entertain…

The thing about dear DOGS however, is not just that they are salivating for almost ANYTHING, (as I’ve proved with a related rebuttal or counter mention of sorts, via the “sole” disdain acted out by my sweet furry and precious ‘kids’); but that with a canine, there is an actual love of life and of eating and/or having an appetite for anything that is next. (And despite it all being so drastically and genuinely unknown). Dogs just dig in!

With the understanding thus, that my sweet puppies, (and I as well), do view food very differently than some, and with the belief that a meal is the nicest thing that you can make, share, and do for another human being, I am constantly inviting folk for brunches at my home.

And I believe that when someone comes over to my house for a bit, they should experience a taste of how I eat, live, cook, give, and so it goes.

It’s nice too, if they may leave having had some special new experience on one level or another – a colored sea salt that they hadn’t yet tried, a raw clam, or bite of grilled yak. I like to make things interesting for my company and yet of course want it all to be delectable as well.

So back to the badass block of bear meat that sat on my counter, up in the northern green mountain state of Vermont…

Plunging, with numerous knife attempts into the flesh, (at odd angles and with a rhythm comprised of both jabs and more precise carvings, as if working with an artistic sheet of linoleum), my thrusts just weren’t cutting it, or properly stripping the white glop from my piece of plump and beastly dense, black bear.

I began an almost “rock, paper, scissors,” approach, using kitchen shears, my hands, and a small hacksaw from my husband’s tool case, to yank at different sides of the roast and remove the fat.

It was hours later when the entire neighborhood trickled in.

My husband and I, (then engaged), had been living in a ski condo at that time, up on a mountain in the boondocks of Vermont. We’d therefore invited the other “summer time inhabitants” to come on over for a bottle or two, and for a bite off the grill on one morning.

Instinctively, I put out a bevy of typical “brunch” themed foods – smoked salmon with capers and gluten free bagels, fruits, olives, a cheese platter – gazpacho too! My assumption had been that such first tastes would ‘hold people over,’ while we grilled my alas sliced bear tips (a near three hour process for me to clean and carve accordingly) as that animal had been the only thing from our freezer, that I believed to be large enough to feed all our expected then guests.

The motley crew was made up of children, a man who’s wife lived out of state, (due to her work), a physical trainer, some landscapers, a few young couples newly living together, one of their dogs, and a telecommunications consultant.

What on earth would we talk about? Movies! That’s always a universal enough “common ground,” and if that fails, one can always break out the dirty jokes!

To my absolute shock however, just one sliver of the smoked salmon was peeled off the huge platter and devoured that day, (and by a child nonetheless), and my entire smorgasbord of breakfast fare was pretty much left all untouched. Instead?

They ate the bear.

They gobbled every “steak tip” up that my husband pulled off our little grill. From the dog that’d sauntered in, to the people; they all proclaimed the meat to be so soft, full of flavor, and juiciness too. Even the female trainer (the toned, tanned, hard body of the group) wasn’t going near a bite of bagel but didn’t balk whatsoever at a big plate of bear!

Not one person mentioned “Corduroy,” and his overalls, from my childhood days of library books and fun. Nor did anyone say a bit about dear Smokey the forest fire creature, or Global Warming, or Global Cooling, or white furry Polar creatures and with melting ice slabs as their floor. Nothing!

No one complained that the meat was too fatty, too greasy, or not accompanied by enough salad or anything else. It was truly, a special something to see.

Before that however, and AS EXPECTED per se, all dogs involved on that day, batted up to the plate, and without judgment or squeamishness or reasons “why not” to enjoy. In many ways, I believe that it was the “canine current” therefore, (on that day) which in turn carried the pulse of the house and planted the seed of suggestion as far as trying new things.

There’s an expression of course that, “Sometimes you eat the bear, and then at other times the bear eats you.” (Which I suppose serves as a reminder to us in life, that the finesse of each day is not to let things get the best of you, regardless of how fierce, threatening, and mammoth they may seem). Dogs, far more than we mortals, know how to dance this tune out well!

But I will share that when preparing food for others, nothing goes the way that I think it will. Ever. And this has changed the way I embrace entertaining today, and by several thousand or million orders of great magnitude. Yet I’m determined to get it right. And along those lines, I’ve certainly learned by now, that when “letting my dogs lead” in this department, I am at minimum off to an undeniably quite genuine, and helpful start! Cheers to YOUR summer menus, and to your dogs helping graciously with dinner!

*Laurie-Beth Robbins is a writer, a passionate “Foodie-Wineaux” chick, and a dogaholic. She contributes a column to Dog House Diaries on the first of each month, and lives on the New Hampshire seacoast, with her husband and three dogs: Tabouli, Voss, and Steak Tartare.

 

 

Know Your Own Power

Know Your Own Power 

By: Laurie-Beth Robbins

I turned 42 last month, adopted a rescue dog, and devoured as many green olives stuffed with sundried tomatoes (my favorite “charcuterie item” or snack, in the world) as a grand and righteous birthday week could fit in.

During that interval too however, I walked across my living room floor and reached for my relatively new cell phone. I had messages to check, or so I convinced myself on one morning. But instead of retrieving voicemails, I very readily experienced, and on just my approach, a little static electricity “shock,” (in a nanosecond, if even that), which in turn wiped out, that’s right – kaput, dead, zapped, gone – my phone’s functionality entirely.

 

Stranger things have happened of course, but really? Is my energy THAT powerful? And worthy of slaying electronic devices even? A static shock? Like when the socks and blankets come out of the dryer? Come on now! Couldn’t the phone simply pause and then reboot or something? Long story shorter, it couldn’t.

 

Even after removing the battery, moving my wall charger to a different outlet, turning the device on and off; (or trying but to no avail) AND calling Sprint, (which only got me the number of a local dealer), I was praying and hoping for ANYTHING that I could do, to remedy my ridiculous and yet incredulously real situation.

 

I paced, I stressed, and I kept punching the power button on my phone. “Let me FIX this silly and unbelievable fluke, let me figure this out…”

 

That cell phones were non-existent at one time, and not too long ago at that, doesn’t matter during those all too frustrating moments. As society has conditioned us to become quite dependent on these little toys, and to use them for our modes of communication more than any face to face compassionate and articulate sit down or personal exchange.

 

As a beautiful cousin of mine often asks, and aloud from our great world, “Is there weird voodoo or something that I can do to fix this funky scenario? Because I’ll totally do it!”

 

Suddenly I was beyond stressed, about some mere appliance or gadget even, (Tsk, tsk), and in turn losing sight of something far more important (and furry) that sat at my feet.

 

With my husband graciously babysitting our dogs, I found myself driving, and for the first time in years without a cell phone, to a nearby Sprint repair shop avec my broken device. And while I felt like a real raving lunatic, walking into the phone store, and telling my story which I couldn’t rightfully believe fully myself; the charming young man at the desk (age 18 perhaps, or maybe 22) knew that drill and quite well.

 

“I used to work at Staples,” the seemingly boy informed me very quickly, “and we always had to touch a metal pole, and wear special bracelets and such, as to discharge that potential or possibility of a static electricity shock, when turning on a computer or anything like that.”

 

Skipping physics class all those years in school (as to go to the art room and paint) may have been authentically good for my soul. But suddenly, I was a grown up woman who didn’t even know that “static cling” (or this kind of thing) had more power than the vast garlic induced flatulence in my house even. Who knew?

Pilots are taught that they should connect a ground wire to their plane before filling their tank, to prevent a spark jumping from the fueling hose to the open gas tank nozzle. (And hence the whole package blowing up to Armageddon).

 

Professionals in the fuel handling business know this sacred law as well.

 

But the poor schmuck getting gas at the local quick stop may not have a clue, (admittedly I didn’t), that he/she should touch metal before filling up their trusty car.

 

“You ALWAYS want to be certain to touch something metal before going near your phone,” the Sprint rep continued, “or near any device; as to completely DISSIPATE any damaging energy.”

 

And it was right then, standing in the Sprint store on the seacoast of New Hampshire, when a light went off in my ambulatory mind, and one that shed so much insight, and helped me tremendously with the dealings of my precious dear DOGS nonetheless!

 

That’s right, Jews touch and kiss a mezuzah (decorative symbolic and holy ornament affixed to the doorway of their home) when coming or leaving their house. Catholics may bless themselves with holy water, while pantomiming the sign of the cross, whenever entering a church. The superstitious throw salt over one shoulder. The geriatric set (and the highly dysfunctional lot of individuals out there too) munch down a “little blue pill” before sex. The president of the United States even, immediately, upon exiting his helicopter after each land, very distinctly assumes the position, and then aptly “salutes!”

 

But the young techies at Staples? They touch metal. Lesson learned.

 

And EVEN MORE POWERFUL than THAT lesson, (for me), was the wake up call then too, that we must always clear our negative energy and ilk as well, or discharge it somehow, before entering the personal space of any dog.

 

Despite how crummy we may feel, how insurmountable our external factors and obstacles may to us at any time seem, or how stressed and depressed we are about the little or the big that we encounter during any week; WE, (as compassionate dog owners and lovers), need to put that ball of fecal matter away.

 

Our dogs after all, as any expert in that field will reveal, serve as mirrors to our own colorful soul. They show us when we’re acting out of sorts, and they even make it easy (yet STILL we humans don’t always “get it”) as they merely imitate what they’re “picking up” from us, and they do such with impeccable precision. (Whether we’re ready to admit that or not).

 

Just like the cell phone, that quite unfathomably could instantly die, and from a static electricity shock passed through just one little finger, a dog will smell, absorb, emulate and compete with, whatever nutty behavior he is feeling from his master and his surroundings.

 

Perhaps one needs to cry in the shower, or drive to a friend’s house and just vent and get all of their heinous day “out.” Ripping up old phonebooks even, can do wonders for channeling stress, and in creative, cathartic, and clever directions!

 

Before we encounter our dear dogs therefore, it behooves us all tremendously to “get it right” or to calm entirely down, as just not to ignite something that’s quite out of control, and which leads to long lasting and unpleasant realms of behavior, spilling lucidly from all involved.

 

I will never forget when I was attending another individual’s birthday celebration, some years ago, at which the two dogs I had then were invited along. Once there however, I was not only mortified and ashamed by the erratic behavior that oozed from my canines and out of every pore, (despite each pup having been to that specific house and near those very people multiple times); but I was flabbergasted and puzzled as to why my sweet dogs were acting so very angrily and undeniably bad.

 

My youngest dog violently air snapped and growled horribly at a man who merely sat down on a seat somewhat near to him. My other dog ran up and literally pulled a generous baguette slice, (with hummus spread donning its top), right out of another man’s hand, and as the individual was raising the appetizer to his own mouth to eat. My pet then gulped the forespice down in one gluttonous bite – whole – and too, gutturally barked at the man, awaiting more.

 

Granted, I HAVE taught my dogs to sit in little chairs at the table, as we eat our family dinner. I have taught them also, to intentionally scrape the meat off of each and every artichoke leaf that I extend their way, and to then let me retrieve the leaf back, (to thus discard it), as they wait for a taste from the tender artichoke heart. I have taught them good food. They know, for example, to pull the olive pulp away from the center stone as I hold out an olive, and to then let me take that little pit back, and away from their plate.

 

But I have also taught them to silently wait, while I recite the daily blessing over our food, out of gratitude, and at every meal. To witness them behaving like corybantic pirates therefore, that had bludgeoned for mere sport or sick thrill, (on that day at someone’s home), just didn’t add up.

 

When driving home, my husband and I deliberated over, “What in all Hades had just happened.”

 

We both had thought ourselves to be in good spirits that day, and weren’t aware of any odd energy that we’d unintentionally carted along. We contemplated the people in the room – every single one – and we discussed at length, the days that led up to that gala. Our dogs had consistently seemed “well.”

 

The next day however, when calling our pals to say, “Thank you,” I apologized profusely about the insane and tricky to justify “terrible dog behavior” that we’d contributed to the party as well, and I remarked that, “Oddly, dogs seem to pick up OTHER PEOPLE’S energy, and yet all folk at yesterday’s gathering seemed so very much OK.”

 

My friend then readily confessed, and as if it were a relief in many ways too, that it was HE, (and his mate), who’d had the knocked down and dragged out fight the night before that soiree, and too, on the day of their company coming. And so that whole, “Let them eat cake” thing, (what kind of cake, how many people attending), and the stress, mess, and duress, or all that jazz that goes into planning “a little birthday celebration,” had gotten the best of them. Whether we knew it, or any human sensed a blessed thing, didn’t matter. Dogs operate on energy that is present. That’s just how it’s done.

 

Save jumping tricks (in reward for cookies or bones perhaps) for a pup’s amusement, but don’t think for two minutes that you can trick or aptly fool the sensory perception of a dog. You cannot convince your beloved furry pal that all is so beautifully “well,” when it’s not. Go dissipate that nasty stuff, and before you even dare to enter their dwelling!

 

I was amazed at that moment, in that to a dog, one’s smile or one “pulling it together,” while ready to explode, cannot lie or be masqueraded as something else. The dog smells it, senses it, and takes it on full throttle even! And all while no mortals in the room have but a clue.

It’s downright fascinating and eerie, albeit enlightening to witness, how our four legged friends can so astutely apply that “6th sense,” and when we all may miss such a vibe, or wave of energy that’s floating about. So be it.

 

Make no mistake however, as if you do not go “fix” that seething attitude or suppressed resentment or ‘tinder box waiting to blow’ mentality that you are schlepping around, then your DOG is going to show you, and quite possibly in vast out of control ways, that you not only “Should have had a V8,” but that you have GOT to learn, how to chill.

 

There are two morals of this story, as I do see it, and in the best “Aesop’s Fables” sort of way. And those are to always touch metal before going near any electronic device, and to also touch MENTAL metal, before going within the parameters of any dog.

 

I suppose too, that if a young buck at The Sprint Store, expresses that, “You should never underestimate your own power,” (and on the week of your forty-second birthday nonetheless), then that’s a pretty good ‘something to be grateful about’ as well.

 

And so here’s to appreciating those special snuggly creatures that surely ignite such light and electricity in our lives, and to swiftly getting rid of any sparks that could harm them at all!

And here’s to possessing the wisdom, (and instinctive reflexes), to know, and to smoothly act out, the difference between the two. Therein lies the finesse.

 

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*Laurie-Beth Robbins is a writer, a passionate “Foodie-Wineaux” chick, and a dogaholic. She contributes a column to Dog House Diaries on the first of each month, and lives on the New Hampshire seacoast, with her husband and four dogs: Caviar, Tabouli, Voss, and Steak Tartare.

 

The “Adopting” Difference, and How It Is Done…

Steak Tartare, (Laurie-Beth’s Tibetan Terrier rescue dog), shares a moment for the camera.

Before procuring my first dog, (a cocker spaniel), a pal of mine brought a Portuguese Water Dog to a party that my husband and I hosted. Within seconds, it became clear that the pup was more polite than some of our routine dinner guests. That solved it therefore, regarding breeds, on that day. Off we went, into a dizzying frenzy of Google searches, the perusing of several “puppy find” sites, and so it goes!

We became ensconced in a bevy of e-mails, phone calls and cyberspace “tag.” Eventually the overtly affected owners of these “PWD’s” (we were quickly brought up to speed with their preferred code phrase or inner club name) returned my calls. And OY-YOY-YOY, did the looniness quite righteously begin!

Not only were the puppies being sold (nearly all of them paid for and reserved before they were born even) for $2,500. per dog, or more, depending on breeders and their set-up, but somewhere, on the other end of a multistate spanning telephone line, chirped a woman who proceeded to give me the inquisition, about aspects of my life which I’m not sure an onslaught of psychiatrists would even question.

She would need to see a photograph of every single room in our home – possibly multiple pictures and angles of certain rooms – (if the one photo of each didn’t meet her criteria or reveal enough of what she needed to see, via every square footage of space). Did this mean we had to break down and alas buy a Polaroid?

We’d need to sign a 41-page contract, (according to her law), in which we’d agree to transport the dog back to her for a visit, every year, after the purchase. Really? Even in-laws are much easier to avoid!

But a full examination and approval of whether we were doing a “proper” job of raising, feeding, and caring for the animal would be determined during that annual hookup. This breeder even had the ability to “repossess” the dog, (according to her contract) if we were not meeting routine needs of hers, which included feeding the dog a specific diet, to be procured solely from links that she’d provide.

The list of where we were to buy the dog’s food, AND grooming toiletries, would be given to us, once the said contract was signed, and she would readily be following up with those sources, to assure that we’d stuck closely to that regimen and bought the goods loyally from the places she instructed. (And yes, this was all still in the United States of America, where our individual freedoms are supposedly paramount). Tsk, tsk, tsk.

HOWEVER, as this seemingly combative woman clearly expressed it all, she was “Not even considering whether she’d consider considering” (her exact quote) us buying one of her dogs yet. And that process would be something she’d “mull over for a very long time,” before conducting at least four more - hour long each – telephone interviews with us, regarding this choice.

She asked me too, and in the most condescending manner fathomable, as to what kind of “exercise” I was prepared and willing to give this said dog.

“Would walking him work?” I was asking, instinctively, in all seriousness.

Apparently however, my quick wit and/or legitimate response to her question (and her tone that intimated we were sloths) wasn’t good enough.

She followed my answer up with, “Do you have any idea how much exercise this breed needs, or anything about the breed really?”

I thought better, and informed her that upon bringing her/my puppy home, I would enroll him immediately in extensive Zumba, Spinning, Pilates, and Kickboxing classes. (And that depending on how he did in such competitive and contact sports or “social settings,” I’d consider interviewing candidates to serve as his personal trainer). The woman hung up the phone.

Did she not think that was funny? What did she mean with, “What are you prepared to DO, to exercise the dog?” What does every person do? Gymnastic class? Hike Mount Everest? Sign the dog up to travel and train with Cirque du Soleil?

I mean, as far as MY OWN regimen is concerned, I have Winston Churchill’s approach in that, “Anytime I get the urge to exercise, I go lay down for a while, until it passes.” But I WOULD HAVE walked the dog, for goodness sake! I would have!!!! Really!!! Oy.

Seven PWD breeders later, from Connecticut, to Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and then some; each individual was more meshugenah than the next.

Let me not leave out the irate diatribe one PWD’s husband engaged in, as he deliberated and dictated to me the details of protocol, as to why I would need to have the dog groomed with what’s known amongst the breed as the “lion” haircut, versus the other mere basic styles of haircuts for this dog. (In the obscure event that he and his wife did agree to sell us one of their PWD’s that is).

Alas! I learned that a litter of these highly coveted creatures, existed much closer to home!  Hoping this odd cult of crackpots merely dwelled outside of our state; I exhaustedly called the breeder who lived closer to us, once again reaching only a voicemail for approximately two weeks.

I explained that we were ready and looking to buy one of their dogs. I said too, that we’d sincerely hoped that we had reached a breeder excited to find loving homes for their puppies, and of course devoid of any 41-page contract to sign, and/or ridiculous medieval rules to strictly follow.

(I mean, The Witness Protection Program didn’t even make my prior dates and suitors sign that kind of bulk before taking me out! Though that may have fallen right on the cusp of their new recycling wave and efforts. Granted. So be it). Nonetheless, water boarding even, is a far less interrogating process than what one must endure when liaising with Portuguese Water Dog breeders. Did Obama have to go through all of this to get his pet dog? I’m writing to my President!

Nonetheless it was just days later when that somewhat local source sent a scathing e-mail to the contact info I’d left on her phone. She vented and lamented that she did not sell to “impulse buyers,” and that the sale and placement of PWD’s could take a VERY long time. She provided a book list, detailed quite specifically, sighting 14 publications and approximately 17 additional articles, (which could presumably be found in library archives), that I was to read before contacting her ever again. (At which point there’d be a quiz – as to assure I hadn’t skipped and/or lied about completing the assignment).

There was no doubt about it, in that adopting a small child in Namibia or Uzbekistan would have been a much faster and easier process for us than entering the “PWD circle” of such an über and “highly allocated,” elite pedigree of dog.

Sadly, each and every single breeder of the PWD’s appeared to have more flavors of dysfunction than the next. Due to column space and respect for the limited time which so many of us have in one day to devote to reading, I shall refrain from sharing more on THAT process; but can assure you that when you “rescue” a dog instead, you deal with folk who actually prioritize finding lovable, warm, safe, and amazing homes for mistreated dogs.

In other words, the rescue lot gives a damn, about the things that are truly important – reminding a precious creature that life, indeed, is quite good again - wasting no time on such bupkiss as “lion haircuts,” your home décor, and whether you’ll jump through vast poodle hoops, as to reassure and confirm that they, as human breeders/sellers are hugely important.

Three dogs, and a whole lot of soul growth (thanks to my sweet canine cuties) later, I was committed to adopting a RESCUE dog.

Inherently fearful, that if buying a very pricy dog could be so genuinely difficult to do, (let’s face it, my money wasn’t “good” there, with the pack of PWD folk, not on any account, and regardless of currency), then the process of ADOPTING a semi-homeless animal, would probably require swat teams and a full on four year investigation, phone tapping, and so forth, just to happen.

Au contraire.

All of this waxing poetic to say, (albeit true life occurrences I will admit), that a little back page was necessary in my mind, just to bring some proper contrast as to what’s involved, or moreover who is involved, when you “rescue” a dog instead of buying a puppy.

Rescue organizations and shelters have websites. Listed on those websites are dogs (and cats, birds, or other animals depending on location) that are available for adoption. Included in their mention, is a blurb of information about them (and MORE mind you, then you will get from many affected breeders who should be so lucky, for your interest, concern, your questions, and your coin).

Specified too, on these sites, is a fee. That’s right, there is no such thing as a free lunch in this world, because the dog you get most likely needed to be transported, cleaned, possibly neutered or spayed, and too, treated for the atrocities that he/she endured along its journey, en route to you. Let the record state however, that your fee could be $100 or your fee may be $400 or it may range from a bit less to a bit more, but it will NOT be analogous to anything which some of the breeders are requesting, for their advertised pack. The money component involved with rescuing is considerably less.

And don’t get me wrong, as I am not knocking breeders for THEIR passion, as dog owners and salespeople. Nor am I negating the fact that their little newborn puppies need good homes to move into as well. I’m simply stating that ironically, the rescue task, that one would think would be very tenuous and painful to approach, is a far more peaceful, harmonious, happy, healthy, and wonderfully communicative experience to embrace (in my opinion) than dealing with a group of people who are just plain silly.

Once you’ve contacted a rescue organization and established whether your desired dog is still available, what his/her required fee is, and what condition he or she comes with or without; you have the patriotic freedom to either walk away, or to complete an application (most of which are “downloadable” off their site) and express your sincere interest in adopting that dog.

And the paperwork or designated form? It asks you important, thoughtful, and REAL questions. (Do you have other animals in your home, and if so what are they, their breeds, and their ages? Do you have children? Do you currently go to a vet, and may we contact them as a reference? Do you own a home or do you rent, and may we contact your landlord if you are renting)? Finally, someone who gets it! Hoorah!

While every organization and thus application form, is a little bit different, rest assured that respectable questions, assuring that you are allowed to have a dog, that you have a pattern and/or plan and place to get care for that dog, and “things that matter” are what you’ll deal with.

Your references will be called, and you too will get “that phone call” that brings entire new waves of news, and a new way of living, into your world! You suddenly will recognize that whatever perfect “costume” or package or ‘way’ that you’d envisioned your dog purchase going, you will not get that “thing” that you so thought you unyieldingly wanted.

BUT, you will get the dog that you need, (as experts and dog specialists so very astutely do say), and you will get the dog that of course too, needs you.

I thus was downright shocked, when the stray dog that pulled at my heartstrings via a rescue organization’s write-up online, was multiple hours away in another state; and yet the director of that establishment, even offered to help with the transport, if it meant that we were a good match for each other – the dog and me. What?

After being water boarded by people who wanted a near three thousand dollars for a puppy, and who asked about EVERYTHING except how loving, safe and healthful our environment and doings would be for their pup; I was sincerely humbled, delighted, and very grateful to have alas connected with people who are about authentic placement of dogs. (And into warm, wonderful, and welcoming homes).

My fourth dog thus joined my husband and I, and our three canine boys, who were here prior to this rescue. (Yes, I tried very hard to have just one dog, and four husbands, but somehow couldn’t even land a Reality TV show for that, and so for now I will leave things just as they are). But when I met my now so precious pet, (a Tibetan Terrier), and the very incredible rescue organization leader who so thoughtfully drove him to the “half way” driving point, between their home and mine, I was re-linked, all over again, to heartfelt loyalty, connectivity and authenticity – abounding full throttle when you rescue a dog.

The expression, (on bumper stickers, refrigerator magnets, and the like) about “Who Rescued Whom,” could not be more accurate when it comes to human events and to the gift that we mortals are given, when a rescue dog bravely enters our world. And the process, to get there, is one of heart, joy, and real deal living. I’d feel quite cheated actually, if never having lived it.

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By: Laurie-Beth Robbins

 

*Laurie-Beth Robbins is a writer, a passionate “Foodie-Wineaux” chick, and a dogaholic. She contributes a column to Dog House Diaries on the first of each month, and lives on the New Hampshire seacoast, with her husband and four dogs: Caviar, Tabouli, Voss, and Steak Tartare.

 

19 “Rescued in L.A.” Books Donated – A+

Dog House Diaries would like to give an A+ to Mrs. Maureen O’Neill of Killingworth, CT for her generous donation of 19 books of “Rescued in L.A.” to her grandson Jayson’s class. Jayson attends Mrs. Scrivano kindergarten class at Valley View School in Portland, CT.  “Rescued in L.A.” is one of Jayson’s favorites!

 

Thank you Maureen & Jayson, we appreciate your support!! Woof! Woof!

Follow the Tail of Charlotte

 

On Thanksgiving 2011 I was contacted regarding two pitbulls in PA that were in need of rescue, and that one may have a little trouble walking.  I contacted the owner and the following day I went to see the dogs, only intending to meet them and take pictures to try to place them with rescues.  I asked to meet the pup first, who I was told was 9 months old and had trouble walking.  I was not prepared for what I saw.  One of the owner’s children carried a dog down the stairs, named Crysis, and sat her on the floor at my feet.  For a moment I was going to say “I thought she was a pitbull”, because at first glance she looked more like an emaciated greyhound, but then I realized she was one.  She just sat at my feet, barely moving, hind legs sticking straight out, looking like a skeleton with skin, and had a blank stare on her.  She didn’t move her head to look at us, didn’t take treats, nothing . . Nothing the average 9 month old puppy would do to greet visitors.  I knew the second I saw her that I would be taking her, and told the owner to have her ready for me at 7:30am the next morning.  I don’t remember much else from the visit because I was almost in a state of shock.  I left, got in my car, and cried hysterically for the rest of the night, almost positive I would taking her to the vet the following morning to be euthanized.  I also called the one person I knew could help, and tell me what needed to be done, Kim Barnett.  She of course says what she normally does in a situation like this “just get the dog”.
I picked Charlotte up first thing the next morning and took her directly to the vet.  Once leaving the house she had been crated in non-stop for three months, she perked up a little bit, which gave us hope.  Although she had obviously sustained some injury in the past, the vet assured me she was not in pain, so I took her home.  But, she couldn’t take more than 3 steps without falling, couldn’t hold herself up to potty, couldn’t tolerate dog food, was covered in bed sores and urine burns, and tried to eat every rock and stick in my yard.  To my surprise, upon hearing about her arrival, people flocked to my house to help, friends, old childhood friends and strangers, all bringing something Charlotte would need – a crate, pre-boiled chicken, blankets, towels, and just help.  And despite the hell she came from, she was sweet and started to open up every day, tried her hardest to walk and run around my living room and dining room, which had been converted into a make shift Charlotte safety zone with carpeting, chairs, x-pens, and gates.  She played with my dogs for short periods of time and when she tired out she would sit at the bottom of the couch waiting for me to help her up.  I was sick that week as well, so we spent a lot of time laying on the couch sharing a pillow.  Although it was a lot of work, I would do it again in a second, and many people here were inspired by this girl’s strong will to make it.
I knew that I couldn’t afford what her care would probably be, and we loved her so much, but I knew she had to go into a rescue, but also knew that was going to be nearly impossible, until again Kim and Camp Papillon stepped up, without even seeing her, to take her into their care.  Kim drove from Connecticut to Pennsylvania the following weekend to pick her up to foster her and continue her care.  It was hard to let her go, but I knew she was in the best hands, but I have more of a bond with this little girl than any dog I have helped rescue over the past seven years.
Jessica Blouch

Charlotte is recovering slowly and surely, but still is in need of an operation, if you wish to donate, please send to : Camp Papillion, P.O.Box 332, Stroudsburg, PA 18360, Please notate on the envelope and check for Charlotte, or go on line and visit their website at www.camppapillon.org. We will keep you posted on Charlotte’s progress here in CT.  Dog House Diaries has donated to Charlotte’s recovery, we hope you will also!