Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain


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A Humdinger of a Humbug

I am soooo not in the Christmas spirit this year.  I normally love to do all the things.  You know, decorate everything that can have garland wrapped around it, Christmas Tree up Thanksgiving(American) weekend, baking, gifting, more baking.

Not so much this year.  It doesn’t even feel like it should be here.

TheBrit and I did go weekend before last and bought a real tree.  I haven’t had one in ages.  Years ago I bought one of those pre-lit deals.  Swore I’d never have a tree I’d have to put lights on again.  But I thought, what the heck, maybe the smell of the real deal will put me to rights.

It stood in it’s stand bare for a week.  Finally  this past Sunday I decided perhaps I should put something on the Frasier Fur that has been sacrificed for my pleasure. So there it is:

 

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I’ve bought one gift. A Star Wars Planetarium for my nephew.

We decided that since we’re not in the jingliest of moods we’d do some things for other people to get outside of ourselves.  We saw a panhandler sitting on the corner in nothing but a undershirt, a pair of trousers, and shoes.  As we were headed to that hell on earth, otherwise known as Wal-Mart, we decided to get him some boxes of non-perishable food and a hoodie.

We handed it to him, still in the bags, through the car window along with a little cash and wished him a Merry Christmas.  He said, “It’s Christmas?  I didn’t even know it was.  I don’t keep up with it anymore.”

At first TheBrit was a bit concerned as to what he might purchase with the cash.  “I don’t care what he does with it,” I said, “If I lived on the street like that I’d probably want a drink, too.  Plus, many homeless people who do drink only drink beer as it’s an appetite suppressant and it’s cheap. They don’t necessarily drink to be drunk.  The drink to not be hungry.”

Then we went by a local restaurant to pick out a child’s name for the local Tree of Giving campaign.  The wish lists are supplied by local school system social workers, The Children’s Advocacy Center, The Methodist Home for Children, The Local Battered Women’s Shelter, The Local Recreation Center and The Sheriff’s Boy’s Ranch.  There were only a few names left.  We picked one and purchased everything on the child’s list plus a little something extra, wrapped them, and returned them to the drop off location.

I should be more thankful, I know.  I have so many reasons to be.  I’m still having a humdinger of a humbug. Bah!

I’ll count my three biggest blessings and cuddle with them.  Here I am with two of them doing just that(the hubs doesn’t want his countenance published):

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Is There a Dog Whisperer in the House?

We’re walking along on a clear, crisp, day when all of sudden, for reasons I cannot perceive her ears peel back, she cowers, and I can see the fear in her face.   She throws her nose in the air for a sniff.

Back pedaling ensues.  Pulling in the opposite direction.  She knows the way home and she’s making a b-line for it.  Full steam ahead, dragging me and her companion with.

I stop.  I have her sit. She even cowers from me.  I smooth her.  I try to reassure her.  I give her a minute to calm herself.  Then I say, “Let’s go, Dottie,” in the most excited way possible.

I try to pull her out of it.  Encouraging her to come along, “Come on, sweet girl.  It’s alright.  Nothing to worry about.”

Not.having.any.of.it.

This hasn’t always been the case.  She loves her walks and the minute she hears me moving the harness she happily runs up with a smile on her face.  She stands still while I put it on her and once I’ve said, “Good girl,” her tail wags her whole body she’s so excited.  Then she goes to the door and sits to wait for me to open it.  “Good girl,” again I say.

Not even five minutes later, here we are, in full panic mode that nothing will calm except the shelter of home.

Just a few days ago I discovered that she’s suddenly afraid of birds.  Whatever next?  An eighty-five pound dog afraid of a few chirping birds. She’s always been afraid of bad weather and gunfire. But birds?!?  No.

Just when I thought she was nearly fully recovered from her neuroses another one pops up.

The worst bit is I don’t really even know how to help her.  I feel terrible that she has such anxiety.

I won’t lie.  It’s doing my head in.  She’s even become afraid of going into the garden when it’s dark.  She “hides” behind the butterfly bush if I do manage to get her to go out.

This hiding is ridiculous.  It’s a tiny bush.  She’s huge.

Do any of my dog pals have any suggestions?


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Spontaneous Combustion?

I wish I had something profound to offer.  Alas I do not.  So until I do please enjoy these photos of my hounds.  I do love these girls!

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I’m just as shocked as you are, mom. I was minding my own business when this box suddenly exploded. It was spontaneous combustion. I did the only thing a respectable dog could do. I defended the home. Really, you just had to be there, man.

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We’re happy girls!


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Extremists

I’ve turned into the crazy dog lady.  Really, I have. But I have my reasons.  Think what you will of me.

About three months ago I decided to switch my girls from kibble to some kind of homemade diet.  It seemed like a good idea that the time.  Still does.

My main reason for even looking into a homemade diet was that Miss Sara, or Bitzer as she has been dubbed by me, would walk up to the bowl, sniff the kibble, look longingly at it like she wanted to eat it, and then walk away.  She learned to eat what she wanted of it quickly or Dottie would take care of it.  She would reluctantly eat about half of it and leave the rest for Dottie.

At first I figured she was eating until she was full and just leaving it because she was done.  But frequently, at least a couple of times a week she would regurgitate part or all of what she’d eaten.  I switched brands of kibble several times and then I went to Google.

While researching I learned that all Bitzer’s(I never even call her by her real name unless she’s in trouble anymore) licking and “fleaing” and puking might be because she’s allergic to grains.  I’ve since learned that she is.

Now, raw feeders swear by a raw diet.  And, for the most part I do, too.  It is closer to how dogs in the wild eat.  They are carnivorous.  Or omnivorous.  I’m not sure which because there are so.many. different ideas about what they are.

I looked into the Bones and Appropriate Raw Food model.  I looked into the Prey Model Raw diet.  I researched as much as I think I can about what is appropriate for my dogs to eat.  I’ve settled on what works for me and, more importantly, my dogs. It’s a homemade diet consisting of boiled eggs(the whole thing including shell), some vegetables(cook and mashed or raw and pureed), meat of varying kinds(pork, beef, chicken, goat, etc.), and bones.  I’m not going into a great deal of detail here about the percentages of each because this isn’t an advice post about how to feed your dog. This just works for me and my dogs.

You might be scratching your head by now wondering what this has to do with extremism. Stay with me, here.

I joined a raw feeding facebook group and a Yahoo! group.  This is a group designed to teach the ins and outs of raw feeding because you can’t just toss your dog a chicken leg every meal.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.

They are also extreme.

You see, at first I had settled on the Prey Model raw diet, which is only muscle meat, bones, and organs. So joining a group that helps people with that seemed only logical.

What I quickly learned is that anyone(I wasn’t the offending party) that asked any questions about feeding anything other than muscle meat, bones, and organs received a written flogging.  If they asked another question or mentioned that they fed their dogs any other “unapproved” food they were banned from the group.  No, you may NOT use ground meat. You may NOT cut your dog’s meat up. It has to be a hunk of meat bigger than your dog’s head.

They are SERIOUS.   Now, I know that groups have to have rules.  I know that they need some structure, but whew!  And so I unceremoniously un-joined the group because they do have it as part of their mission statement that discussion of anything other than their approved feeding recommendations WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.  The will freak out on your ass. Never on mine, mind you.  Because I saw how they treated the ‘others’.

I probably wouldn’t have joined the group had I read that before joining, but alas, hind-sight is 20/20.  And Bitzer just looks at those big hunks of meat and then looks at me like, “Seriously? You’re kidding, right?” So I cut hers up.  Sue me. Dottie?  She’ll eat anything! I even resorted to giving them *gasp* vegetables.

It just goes to show how any group can become extreme about just about anything.  And I’m pretty averse to extremism in just about any form.

As you might have guessed, since I’m the crazy dog lady, this entire post has been a pretext for working in some photos of Dottie and Bitzer.

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She Sips Stella by the Sea

 

DSCF1391Last week I took a couple of days off to spend with The Tour Guide.  On his suggestion we got up Tuesday morning and struck out for Jacksonville Beach.  Also on his suggestion we took the girls.

They slept most of the two-hour drive there and when we arrived at around 11 a.m. just about all the shops and restaurants were closed.  It’s the off season, I guess, though it’s still fairly warm here.

Though I had read online that Jacksonville Beach is dog-friendly there were signs posted everywhere saying no dogs between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.  What to do?

We strolled down the sidewalk near the shops and restaurants and found one that was open.  Well, it wasn’t open yet, but the man who was sweeping the alfresco dining area invited us in – dogs, too.  I was pleasantly surprised at how accommodating they were.

With a thick accent I didn’t recognize he said we could sit anywhere we wanted in their outdoor dining area and then he disappeared. There was no one else there.  We were their only patrons.

A few minutes later he resurfaced carrying a metal bowl filled with ice water for the girls.  Moments later a server appeared and took our order.  We ordered what we wanted and then I asked for a hamburger to split between Dottie and Miss Sara.  “Sure, no problem,”  she said.  Our meal came out complete with two doggie boxes for them to eat out of.  Dottie and Miss Sara scarfed down their burger, which had been prepared sans bun, while we sipped on our pitcher of Stella and ate our Gyros.

When we asked our server about a place on the beach we could carry our dogs she said we should just ignore the signs.  “Nobody pays attention to that.  There are always dogs on the beach,” we were assured. With that advice we paid our bill, gave her a nice tip, left caution to the wind, and headed over the boardwalk to the sugar white sand.

It was the girls’ first trip to the beach and they didn’t quite know what to make of it at first. They were confused as to why they were chasing the water one minute and the next the water was chasing them.  Miss Sara recoiled from the chasing waves.  Dottie pawed at them for a bit. Then I took their leads and we ran out as the waves retreated into the ocean and ran back to the shore when the waves chased us back.

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I think they had a pretty good time.  I know The Tour Guide and I did!

DSCF1374We could see the rain coming in from the ocean so we headed back to the car.  The deluge came just as we fastened our seatbelts.  Great timing!  And the cute cuddly dogs slept all the way home.