Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Cava Poo Chon

Just read an article on the newest designer breed of dog - the Cava Poo Chon.  These dogs, created in the lab by geneticists, are a combination Cavalier Spaniel, Miniature Poodle and Bichon Frise.  All I can say is that Bizz has them beat by a mile. 

Read the article -  Everything they say about their dog is what I say about Bizz except that he also has a hilarious sense of humor.

Dining out at Pampas

Last night I went to an amazing restaurant here in Palo Alto, CA.  It is called Pampas and is a Brazilian Restaurant that is a meat eaters delight.   The set up is very simple.  We all ordered the Rodizio and side bar. The side bar was a long salad bar filled with all kinds of veggies, salads, cured meats, fish and artisanal cheeses.  We all filled our plates though we were warned not to.  The Rodizio is an assortment of meats that is served by men circulating in the restaurant. A dozen all told. And they were amazing.  Top Sirloin, Filet Mignon, Lamb, Pork, different kinds of marinated chicken were all served to us and it was all delicious.  Much like dim sum or tapas - it all looks reasonable when it comes one little piece at a time.  But looking back we all just went to town.  As one of my co-workers said, the paleo diet come to life.

So the morning after I feel like I have a major food hangover.  My blood sugars didn't get too jacked up but my stomach is on strike and I could easily lie down for a nap right now. 

But for anyone wanting a gourmet treat who loves all kinds of meat I do recommend Pampas -  Bizz would have loved it but alas and alack - no outdoor seating.  And sadly - no doggie bags.

Nostalgia Foods

Listening to NPR this week I heard a story about Nostalgia Foods, specifically Mallomars.  Mallomars are a cookie with a layer of thick marshmallow which is then dipped into dark chocolate. They are only available a few months a year, stemming from the fact that in times before refrigeration - in the summer the chocolate would melt.

The household I grew up in also had Nostalgia Food.  We called it Lebkuchen, a Christmas cookie, made with molasses, brown sugar, assorted spices and a healthy dose of lard.  The cookies would normally be done by the women in the family, mixing the batter on the stove (since you had to melt the lard), then putting the dough on the backsteps to cool so you could roll it out and cut it into all kinds of shapes, then after baking icing them with a confectioners sugar icing that gave them a glossy sweet glaze. As far as I know I was the last woman in my family to make Lebkuchen. I would make it every year during Thanksgiving week, spending hours and hours mixing and rolling and baking, then packaging it into cookie tins and shipping them off to my siblings, aunt and uncle, step grandmother and putting together smaller packages for friends.  My mom used to tell me that if someone didn't like Lebkuchen then they would not last long in the family. 

The onset of my diabetes did not deter me but a few years ago I did stop baking the cookies.  They were just too much temptation for me to have in the house.  But this year I am rethinking that decision and I'm thinking of making a small batch up.  Not eating it myself, well maybe one or two bells or crescent moon shapes, the gingerbread men are way too big.  But making it to rekindle those wonderful memories of holidays past and create a few new ones with new friends.  Plus I have a really big oven now so the baking would go a lot faster.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Starting Over

I think I've written before about how important your medical team is when you are a diabetic.  As you age with diabetes you have a team of doctors who know you, and your body. They are constantly checking for changes and helping you address them.  Right now I have a crew of doctors I really just love.  They are my primary care physician, my gynecologist, my podiatrist, two eye doctors (one for regular checkups and the other who works with her to check me for any eye damage caused by the diabetes), the endocrinologist, and my diabetes educator (ok she's not a doctor but she helps me).

It has taken me years to get to the point where I have a team that I like, who all seem to like me (or at least they put up with me) and where I can schedule and have work 2 or 3 appointments at one site in one morning.

And two days ago that all blew up. I got a letter from my insurance company telling me that they are no longer working with Palo Alto Medical Foundation.  And that I would be assigned a new primary care physician at the end of the year.  Since this is a g-rated blog let me just say that the cursing that went with this announcement was very, very blue.

Things were already getting complicated because I'm working for a nonprofit that is going to give me absolutely free insurance when I finish my probationary period.  The only problem was it was Kaiser insurance which would not cover my staff of doctors. I seriously was considering continuing to spend almost $500 per month for my own insurance just so I could keep my doctors.  But now that's all over.

So here I am.  Literally starting over and rebuilding a team, a team which took me since 1998 to put together. I am planning my farewell tour of the doctors.  One last visit to get one last look and to get a copy of my records for my new doctors. 

I cannot imagine the chaos this is rendering in other lives where people are in far worse situations, where they are being actively treated for cancer, heart disease, aids - to be told nope can't see that doctor any more is a nightmare.  There should be a grandfather clause.

So a new chapter in my treatment begins.  But I do find myself wondering - is this all a first volley in a tough negotiation and will there be another letter in a month saying, oopsie, we didn't really mean it, we were having a tiff but it is all worked out.

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Little Dog in the City

Bizz and I spent a few hours up in San Francisco today.  We drove up to see my friend Carolyn's new place and to have brunch nearby.  Bizz did not want to take his usual place in the car so he rode shotgun all the way to the city - sleeping on the passenger seat with an occasional pat on the head from me.

I was really impressed by Carolyn's place.  When I drove up it looked like a typical warehouse district. But they rented an apartment in a lovely building that was completely rebuilt - lots of glass, a receptionist at the front, lots of security and a roof top deck to die for.  Bizz loved it.  We had lunch outdoors at a terrific little restaurant and he was served his very own scrambled egg in a to go box. The egg went - but into his belly.  He quite enjoyed all the smells of the city, and added a few of his own. But hilariously he was most excited when we walked by the French butcher shop - I nearly lost him when he lunged to try and go through the door.  It must be the poodle in him.

Anyway, a lovely way to spend a lovely day.  More adventures to come.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Cultural Enrichment for Dogs

Since I've gone back to working in an office, my time with Bizzy has become more limited on the weekdays.  However, I've configured my work so we get an hour together before I leave each morning and I spend at least two hours in the evening just focused on him - we take walks, we play, we cuddle, all good things.

I am now coming up on a three day weekend, and I'm finding myself planning what kinds of activities Bizz and I will do.  Yes, I've become a mother.  I find myself thinking of my own Mom who's way of spending free time with me was primarily being in shopping mode.  Since she was an antique dealer we would often head out with a set of sites to visit - garage sales, other dealers shops, flea markets - and while she'd look at items and talk to the dealers I would do my own shopping. I collected books and all kinds of miniatures, as anyone who has seen my house can attest to since I still have most of them, and horse figurines.  Some sites were better than others, I remember a small antique market out in the country that was next to a horse farm. I'm not sure that my mom knew while she was shopping I was crossing a large field and climbing fences to get a closer look at the horses.  I don't think she focused on my cultural enrichment, but I did learn a lot about people and how to be a collector.

With Bizz my cultural enrichment program is primarily focused on finding him new places to explore.  We have currently got 5 regular walks we take - 3 paths in the neighborhood and 2 at the nearby park.  We walk in a couple of different places in Campbell and we take day trips to different towns.  But given I have a three day weekend at least one of the days we are going to take a longer field trip.  But to where I don't know yet.  Any ideas?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Dogs on Leash

On my way home tonight I nearly had a heart attack. A girl was walking her dog on the side of the road when suddenly he darted out right in  front of my car. He was not on his leash.  Seriously - you are walking your dog on a mildly busy road and you don't put your dog on a leash?  I did not hit - him thank god. It was dark and I could see she was there but she wasn't wearing anything light colored so I had really slowed down to make sure I didn't hit her.  Thank god I did.  Then she stood there screaming for the dog who wouldn't come.

Now I know that Bizz has escaped more than once out the front door and has run into the street. But we never leave the house these days without him being in his harness on leash. He is only let off in the yard or in a leash free park and even then I get him a good distance from the parking lot before he's allowed off leash.

So I promised to post each day and that's what is on my mind right now. I'll try to be more entertaining in the days to come.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Tricorders for diabetics

I spent the day at FutureMed in San Diego.  Qualcomm got up to talk about the Qualcomm X Prize for a tricorder.  The tricorder was the device on Star Trek that Bones McCoy used to scan and diagnose a patient.  There are lots of them coming.  But diabetics, including myself, already carry a tricorder - our glucose meter.

What makes it a tricorder is that it takes a drop of your blood and tells you your blood glucose level.  
Blood glucose readings tell you more than a number - it informs what is happening - just like a tricorder.  How much insulin do I take, do I eat or take a walk?  Do I go to bed or march around the house for half an hour?  

So cool - I have a tricorder.  There are a lot of people here wearing Google Glass - is anyone else thinking Geordie LaForge from Next Generation?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Blankets for Shelter Dogs

There are two Sunday morning shows here in the Bay Area about raising and training dogs.  This morning one of the shows, Dog Tales,  moved me to tears. The show featured a group that is collecting blankets - new and old - for use in shelters.  If you've been to a shelter you'll see that many times the dogs are in concrete kennels.  The shelters just can't keep up with the demand so many dogs end up without a blanket or bed to lie on.  It's been shown that giving the dogs blankets will give them someplace to cuddle up and they become calmer. And a calmer dog is more likely to be adopted.  The show highlighted a group that works with assorted groups to get donated blankets and beds and deliver them to the shelters. 

So next time you are housecleaning and one of your blankets is a bit ratty - don't turn it into rags - wash it and give it to a shelter.  You will bring great comfort to a homeless, friendless little animal while he waits for his forever home.  I have a lot of extra yarn so I'm going to start turning it into blankets to donate to the shelter.  And I go to a lot of estate and yard sales - one group often sells used linens and blankets - I got Bizz 2 for $2.  From now on I'm going to pick up spare blankets for the shelter.

Bizz - Before and After

Played a trick on Isabelle and Kelvin yesterday. Got Bizz groomed and when I took him home I told them I had adopted a new dog.  They really believed it for a minute.  Here is Bizz before and after:

Bizz Before                                                                       Bizz After Groomer

His halter is actually about a size looser now. And look at the difference in his face - you can see his eyes and his ears are amazingly silky.  But still a cutie.

So much for daily blogging so far

ok, I admit it - I pledged to blog daily and immediately fell behind. I blame it on a new job, several clients, and a crazy dog who captures all my attention. So I am going to do 3 blogs today to catch up.  Here is the first - which is a set of photos of Bizz and his Halloween costume.   Bizz came into the office with me on Halloween - my first attempt at having Bizz in a workspace. He actually did very well. He hung in my office during the morning and played with my office mate and her boyfriend who was visiting. He got taken on several walks. And he came to lunch. That was the real test and performed like a pro - hung out all mellow and enjoyed his treats of turkey and cheese throughout.  He also came to a long meeting with me and did fine except when I took a break to use the bathroom. He stayed in the office but whined and scratched at the door the whole time.  Poor little man.

He did incredibly well Halloween night. Every time the doorbell rang I'd grab him and we'd answer the door together.  All the kids loved him and patted him.  One little boy who was obviously special was dressed as Iron Man. I told him that Bizz had never met Iron Man before. The little boy leaned in and told me that he wasn't really Iron Man and was concerned Bizz was confused. I told him to tell Bizz what he wanted to know and the boy knelt on my floor, put his arms around Bizz and told him he loved him.  I nearly cried. The mom did too.  So Bizz was a cutie patootie and won the hearts of everyone - what else is new.  More blogs to come.

Bizz as a devil dog

Check out those wings

His pumpkin costume was a little big but so cute
Here is Bizz in the office next to my desk with his beloved Pinkie.  He's wearing an orange halter to honor the day.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A blog a day for the month of November

Hi everyone, sorry I've been so behind on my blogging.  I just started a new job, along with working with several clients from my consulting practice, so things have been a little hectic in my online life. However, next month is a blog a day month on BlogHer.  Given I am a huge fan of BlogHer I've added my blog to their roll and I'm going to be posting something each day - a photo of Bizz (the most telegenic dog in the world), an idea, a story or just me blathering as usual.  All suggestions are welcome.

My story for today is about my car.  So in 2005 I needed a new car. My old one had been hit by a drunk driver and while I was only knocked about a bit the car had a dent that would cost more than the car was worth to fix.  A friend who was a "car guy" helped me to go shopping. A "car guy" is someone who knows everything there is to know about cars - reads the magazines, consumer reports, goes to car shows - in short an expert.  He insisted a drive a Hyundai Sonata. Hyundai's at the time were getting excellent reviews and better still they were a tremendous value.  I couldn't even get a car with all the features I got with my Sonata in another car.

I really like this car - though not as much as my 92 Taurus or my 76 Mustang ( a little car with a giant engine).  But two months ago I believe it went amok.  The car has always had some odd electrical quirks. The left turn signal goes really fast - and yes that is supposed to indicate a blown bulb but the bulbs have been replaced almost a dozen times.  But overall a good car.  Then in early September, as we began to get chillier evenings - the car alarm went off in the middle of the night. Since this was around the time Isabelle's car was stolen we thought someone had tried to break in. But then it happened again, and again. So I took it to the service center at the dealer and they told me they could not find a problem. Then just before my trip back east - it started going off like crazy - 4 times in one hour.  I had learned how to pull the fuse to stop it but back in the shop it went for 3 days.  At last we had discovered the cause of the problem -a faulty door sensor.  $75 later and I was on the road.  Until last week. On Thursday night the car alarm went mad at 2:30 am.  It went off 7 times in less than 30 minutes - the last time it went off with the alarm disarmed, the car unlocked, the doors open and me in the driver seat trying to get my flashlight so I could pull the fuse.  It was NOT good.  So back in the shop it went last Friday.

When I called Friday evening they told me they had watched the car all day but it didn't do it.  "Watched the car?"  WTF dudes. Given our hot sunny days that was not going to fly. They kept it all weekend and nothing. They kept it yesterday - still nothing. Finally today they called the corporate service people and were told there was nothing that could be done. I had asked for them to disconnect the alarm but that is seemingly impossible.  Seriously?  You can't disconnect the car alarm at all?  As my friend Deanna suggested - what I needed is a car thief.

So the car is home again. The fuse has been pulled - I have no choice - I think the neighbors will lynch me if it goes off again. And Bizz and I need the sleep.  All diabetics are encouraged to get plenty of sleep - it helps in blood sugar control. And the car alarm going off is not pleasant when you have an excitable little dog. The alarm went off for 30 minutes, Bizz went off for the next three hours.

So I'm in the market for a new car.  Here is my ideal car - a four door (Bizz likes having his own door), plenty of leg room, sporty with great pickup (yes I like to go fast) but with terrific fuel economy. And most of all comfortable with great back support.  All suggestions are welcome and will be test driven during this search. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

All Dogs Go to Heaven... Don't They?

Things this past week have taken a tragic turn for my own little pack. Yes, I have coming to think of my very unconventional household of myself, Bizz, my landlady Isabelle, her boyfriend Kelvin and their three dogs Pelucci, Truffles and Lucky as my pack.  I rent a house from Isabelle and she, Kelvin and the dogs live in the mother-in-law apartment on the same property. So while I don't share my house we all share a backyard and have become our own little pack.

Sadly, on Sunday, Truffles died.  I was out walking Bizz Sunday morning, a nice leisurely walk on a beautiful sunny day. When I was about half a block from home, out of eyesight but not earshot I heard the most terrible sound. At first I thought it was an animal being killed, then possibly a child screaming. As I got closer to home I soon realized the sound was coming from my own driveway.  When I got there I discovered that Truffles had become ill while in the car with Isabelle, who immediately drove home to Kelvin. Shortly after they got home Truffles passed away.  It was such a shock and poor Isabelle was literally keening and wailing.  Her love for her dogs is so tremendous, she has such a giving generous heart she was just heartbroken.

I gave them their privacy and later we spoke as they prepared to take Truffles to a priest to have him blessed.  Isabelle spoke of how much she'll miss him and we talked about many things including Truffles being in heaven.

I must admit I am not a religious person but as a child my sister told me a story about how when you got to middle school you got to go on a class trip to heaven.  There you would get to see all the relatives who died and went to heaven.  While disillusioned that no such trip was actually going to happen,  I've always treasured the idea that someday you would go and visit all the relatives who passed and I shared with Isabelle my idea of a heaven where my parents and grandparents were all together and with them were all the pets that have passed on through the years.  Surely a dog as sweet and good natured as Truffles would have a place in any heaven.  I assured Isabelle that my mom would have been fussing over Truffles, making sure he felt welcome since being a good hostess was always so important to her, while my stepfather (yes my parents and stepfather are all up there together) was leading him around some celestial garden giving him a lecture on the proper method of composting.   The thought gave her comfort and I admit it made me smile as well.

So I say rest in peace little Truffles.  I will miss his tininess, and his habit of coming to greet me whenever I came out my door.  I remember an evening last winter when I sat outside with all three dogs while Isabelle and Kelvin were out (before Bizz came on the scene) and Truffles just would not stop licking my leg,  I finally had to pick him up to get him to stop only to have him start on my arm.  He was a sweet little guy who will be greatly missed.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Tom Hanks and Type 2 Diabetes

Another celebrity came out of the diabetic closet this week.  Tom Hanks, two time academy award winner, announced that he was a type 2 diabetic while on David Letterman this week.  He talked about the impact of dramatic weight loss and gain on his health and blood sugar and also that he had a genetic predisposition to it as well.

It sounds like he had warning signs for almost 20 years.  The blood sugars they were talking about were pre-diabetic warnings - elevated blood sugars beyond the norm that can indicate someone has the possibility of evolving to a full blown diabetic.

Even more interesting Letterman said he is also diabetic and having to watch his sugars.  One of the things I learned from my reading is that as we get older our pancreas tends to wear out.  As one doctor said - if you live long enough everyone becomes a diabetic.

A friend of mine recently received the diagnosis she was pre-diabetic. The first thing I did was tell her to get to a diabetic educator. The educator will explain all the facts of a pre-diabetic lifestyle that can help stave off diabetes.  He or she will explain what is really going on with carbs and that there is more to carbs than just sugary treats. 

I recently returned to a diabetic educator with a simple request - help me create a diet so I can lose weight.  The challenge with diabetes and the use of insulin is that it makes your body hold onto weight.  In order to lose weight you need to control not just calories but your carb intake.

So for my readers here are the basics - if you are a diabetic you need to figure out what impact carbs are having on your body.  I am on a fairly restricted diet now of no more than 125 grams of carb per day.  Translated this means - I could have slightly over 2 1/2 cans of coke(46 grams of carb per can) a day and no other carb, or 5 bananas (27 grams of carb per banana) or 2 1/2 cups of pasta (43 grams of carb per cup).

But I don't do that. Instead I measure and try to have a mix of healthy carbs. No more white bread - I eat high fiber dense breads, high fiber cereals and a mixture of fruit but only two servings a day.  A very smart diabetic once told me something I've now adopted as truth - no more white stuff - no sugar, white potatoes, white rice or white bread.  The more complex the carbs the more slowly you digest them, the better for your blood sugar.

So hats off to Tom Hanks for reopening the conversation on diabetes. I just wish that people would deepen the conversation to being less about candy and more about what a carb really means.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Story of Milo

It seems to be my fate to encounter little white dogs.  A few weeks ago Bizz and I were out and about and we saw a little white dog running loose.  He saw us and took off for his nearby owner and I never thought anything about it.  It does seem to me that dogs spend their whole lives scheming on how to escape, until they get into the outside world and all they want to do is get back to their owners.

On Sunday morning, Bizz and I were out for our usual stroll and a woman came down her driveway to intercept me.  "I just have to ask if I can pat your dog, I see you out with him all the time and he's just so cute."  I immediately agreed and we commenced chatting. 

I learned a few important things - one is that there are coyotes roaming my neighborhood. Two of the neighbors cats had been killed in a very dreadful fashion and coyotes had been spotted. They come out at night and little domestic animals are very vulnerable. Bizz' reluctance to walk down that street several evenings became clear - he may have smelled a threat and was protecting not just himself but me as well.

We also discussed her neighbors and that was when she told me the story of Milo.  Milo is the little white dog I mentioned earlier.  The story broke my heart.  An elderly woman had lived across the street and had a little dog named Milo.  He was her constant companion.  A few months ago she became ill and her daughter came to stay with her from Sacramento.  Eventually Milo's owner had to go into a nursing home.  The daughter did not like Milo, was constantly letting him run loose but he always came home.  After the woman went into the nursing home her daughter took Milo on a ride and tossed him from her car.  She sold her mother's house and moved back to her home in Sacramento.

This story was so horrifying on so many levels. Here is a little dog who's owner loved him and yet once she became unable to care for him he was thrown away by a callous family member.  Even worse, she didn't even try to get him adopted.  The neighbor I was speaking with told me she loved dogs and loved little Milo and would have adopted him herself if given the opportunity.  I would have taken Milo in (you can never have too many little white dogs running around the house).  And worst of all she didn't even give Milo a chance at a happier life - she literally threw him away.  She could have dropped him off at any shelter, any veterinary office or even a pet store - any of those would have found a way to get him fostered.

What sickens me most is that she told people what she did. This woman had so little regard for a dog's life that she didn't even realize how other people would perceive this heinous act.  What a terrible person, I can only be happy she no longer lives in our neighborhood. I feel sorry for the people she encounters in Sacramento.

So why am I writing this?  As Bizz lies sleeping at my feet all I can think is was this what happened to him?  How did he end up on the streets of LA with no microchip, no license and no one to take care of him?  He got so lucky and I can only hope that somewhere out there Milo got as lucky.

But I also think of this as a wake up call to all responsible pet owners.  Make sure that your pets are taken care of in case anything happens to you.  And if you don't want a pet there are a ton of resources for rehoming pets - call the Humane Society; Animal Control; a rescue group for the breed, anything to make sure the animal doesn't end up alone and friendless like poor Milo.  And if you see an animal running loose don't assume there is a caring owner nearby.  As with Pelucci last week, help him get home or at least get someplace safe.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Dog Ran Into a Bar

I know this is going to sound like a fable but in fact the story I am about to tell you is true.  The last 24 hours have been physically and emotionally draining for all of us - myself, Kelvin and Isabelle, and our four dogs - Bizz (mine), Pelucci, Truffles and Lucky.  The reason was - Pelucci was kidnapped.

Yesterday afternoon Isabelle left Pelucci sleeping in her car in a shady spot while she ran into her gym. When she came out the car, her purse and her dog were all gone. Someone had come along and stolen her car with Pelucci in it.  She immediately called the police and Kelvin and the search for Pelucci began.  Kelvin came immediately while the police took several hours to arrive. 

Meanwhile the car thief had driven the car to the other end of the large strip mall and had entered the Home Depot (a hardware store) where he proceeded to charge several tools to Isabelle's charge card. 

After hours of driving around searching Isabelle and Kelvin came home.  I was in my house (they have recently moved back into their apartment on the property) and Kelvin came to tell me the terrible news. I was horrified of course.  Who would steal a car with a very loud barking dog in it?  Who would even dare?  But of course the windows were open to give Pelucci plenty of fresh air so it was easy access. 

My first thought was putting up signs. I ran inside and designed a Lost Dog sign and put in a photo of Pelucci I had taken earlier this year. I made plans to get up early and take Bizz over to the area where Pelucci had been kidnapped and start putting signs up. I made 40 copies and sent it to Kelvin so he could print and distribute  them as well.

I went to bed around midnight and Bizz was very cuddly so I think he must have been able to tell I was upset.  Isabelle and Kelvin went out again around 1 am and continued the search. 

Early this morning Bizz and I got up and loaded with tape and plenty of signs we headed over to the 24 Hour Fitness to commence putting up signs.  I focused on points next to cross walks, right above the button you push to get the light to change.  I figured if Pelucci was to be found people on foot would be the ones to find him.  Little did I know what was already taking place.  I also placed signs at a nearby dog park and networked with a few folks walking the neighborhood - giving them copies of the flyer so if they saw him they would have the number to call. 

After two hours Bizz and I headed home - driving up and down as many sidestreets as we could.  No luck.

Isabelle and Kelvin meanwhile were dealing with the police, the bank and were already getting calls from people who had seen the flyer and wanted to help.  One very helpful Starbucks barista had seen the sign and called to find out about the car so if he spotted it he could intervene and rescue Pelucci.  Kelvin thanked him and suggested he call 911.

I created and posted a Lost & Found Ad for Craigs List and dealt with a few business calls.  Late afternoon I discovered that for dogs lost and found in Santa Clara County you can go to a site and create a flyer for the dog you found or the one you lost.  I decided to check it out.  And what did I see?  It was Pelucci.  He was misidentified as a female but it was him. I'd know that smile anywhere.  I immediately started calling Kelvin.  He had been picked up by a Good Samaritan and I had that number and began to call it as well.

At last Kelvin answered his phone and told me they were getting Pelucci at that very minute.  They had gone to the Animal Control Shelter and when they opened the book of dogs that had been found there Pelucci was - smiling his brightest smile.

So, how was Pelucci rescued. This takes us back to the title of this tale.  A dog runs into a bar.  Late yesterday evening, 1.6 miles from where he had been taken and about 6 hours later Pelucci came running into a bar. The bar door was open and the patrons said that all of a sudden this little dog came tearing into the bar so fast he bounced into the wall.  He was obviously scared and alone and the patrons took him to their hearts.  One patron, our good Samaritan, Paul took Pelucci home with him.  The next morning Paul immediately took Pelucci to be scanned for a microchip but he wasn't chipped.  Then he took him down to the Animal Control to have a flyer created.  Then he took Pelucci home, planning that if no one ever came for the little dog that he would adopt him.  A short 5 hours later Pelucci was reunited with Isabelle and Kelvin.  The brought him home to a very jubilant household - I was so happy to see him I could hardly contain myself.  Bizz of course was quite bouncy and all the dogs settled into their evening meal.

So what did we learn from all this?  Just as there are terrible people in this world, people who would steal a car and abandon a helpless animal, there are terrific people out there. I cannot tell you how many strangers I met today who immediately offered to assist in the search.  There was a tremendous outpouring of support and love that makes me so happy I could sincerely cry.  And special thanks go to Paul who not only took in a poor helpless animal but also took him to the vet and to the shelter just to make sure he found his way home.  Today, I learned it is important to never give up hope that what is lost will find its way home to us.  You just need to keep your door and your heart open. 

Here is the photo of Pelucci that was on the site.  Doesn't he look relieved?  And Paul thought he was a girl because he is so cute. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

PigTails just aren't what they used to be

When I was a little girl I was notorious for wearing my very very straight hair in pigtails.  That's what we called braids in my house. Even into college when my sister taught me to French braid my hair pigtails was a way to keep my hair under control.

Well today I encountered something new - real pig tails - extra large to be exact.  I decided to take Bizz with me to the Farm Market in Campbell this morning. We were celebrating the removal of his cone of shame and the healing of his sore leg.  His leg is pretty cleared up though of course it's shaved so it still looks dreadful.  While he can't go into most of the farm market, the last time we were there they had a dog treat booth and he cleaned up on freebies.  And I wanted to scope out a potential gift.

However, my plans blew up when we came around the corner and Bizz suddenly lunged towards a man who was packing up his booth.  Turns out there was a second dog treat guy at the Farm Market. He represents Junk Yard Bones - a new treats supplier who provide real bones, pig ears and - yes you got it Pig Tails.  We chatted and he offered to get us a bone. I declined because the Bizz  I know refuses all hard treats.  Well then he was handed a pig tail.  Oh my god - this little dog just went to down. He plopped down on the sidewalk, put the pig tail between his front paws and commenced chewing.  It was hilarious. He refused to give it up.  In fact some passersby gathered to watch this rather fancy looking little white dog pigging out so to speak.

Well I got really lucky - it being the end of the show I got a deal and ended up bringing home a dozen pig tails.  Bizz finally loosened his grip so I could get him and the pig tail of his dreams home and he happily spent two hours munching and eating the pig tail this afternoon. I never did make it to any of the other booths though we did get in a good walk. 

I did learn two important facts once we got home - 1 is to close doors to the rooms you don't want the pig tail in before you give Bizz the goodie, the other is there is nothing cuter than Bizz carrying his pig tail treat around trying to find the perfect spot to eat it in. 

These treats are made with USDA inspected beef and pork and I can tell you - next weekend we're going back to get some of the other treats for him to try. I hear  jumbo pig ears are a big hit with other customers. 

You can check out their site

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Invasion of the Coneheads

Today was a really tough one for our little Bizzy.  He'd been bothered the last few weeks by - allergies.  Yes, I have a dog with allergies.  This is all kind of ironic because I spent so much time finding a dog I wasn't allergic to that it never occurred to me he could have allergies. 

His allergies cause him to itch.  I thought it was fleas but he gets a treatment once a month and he's flea free.  He also sneezes.  Over the weekend, he developed an itch/irritation on his thigh and took to alternately licking and biting the spot.  I wasn't too worried - dogs lick themselves all the time - but then I saw that the spot was getting redder, angry looking and it appeared he'd pulled out the fur on the spot. 

I called the vet yesterday when I realized that my over the counter med was doing nothing and got an appointment for first thing this morning.  Dr. Kumar was great.  he also has allergies so he was feeling Bizz' pain.  Bizz ended up with a shot of steroids (look out A-Rod - Bizz got the long acting kind so he's heading for the big leagues), two kinds of medications (one cream and one pill) and lastly - the cone of shame (if you do not get this reference watch the Pixar film Up).

The cone presents him with some challenges - he has to maneuver a bit more to eat and drink (which he did just fine though he got his food all over the cone so cone cleaning will be a daily routine), he can't bite the "itchy" spot though he keeps trying, and he has no peripheral vision (which means he keeps bumping into things including me). 

For me the challenges are - being very patient as he tries every possible maneuver to get the cone off; not laughing when he is surprised it hasn't come off; and most of all - not freaking out at the sight of a headless dog walking next to me.

Keep your fingers crossed that the meds work and his skin heals. The cone is on for the next five days.  It can't come off because he will immediately start biting himself again so we're both stuck with it.

In case you don't believe me about the headless dog - this is what I saw when I glanced just now:

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Walking and Talking

We've just concluded Labor Day weekend and I have to say - I'm a little tired.  In the course of the three day weekend I did five separate walking outings with friends then concluded last night with a one on one walk with Bizz. 

I find that walking with a dog is a great way to let the discussion flow.  You have to amble a bit, especially given Bizz propensity to stop and smell the flowers, do his bizziness and on one memorable walk - roll delightedly in goose poop.  Hence the walks are about enjoying the peace and quiet, fresh air and the company.

My first walk on Saturday was with my friend Rachelle and her delightful little dog Andy.  We decided to explore the Stanford Campus.  What was interesting to me about our walk was that you start where the earth is dry, brown and hard and we ended in the center (or perhaps beyond it who knows?) where the grass was green and lush and fountains everywhere were shooting water into the sky.  We talked of many things - old friends and new; work and of course our beloved pups.  here the babies are during their walk.  It was a hot day so it was nice to be someplace shady and cool.

The next walk was late that night with Marina.  We spent much of our talk discussing what an odd summer it had been for movies - that there really aren't any we wanted to go out and spend $12 to see.   No photos - it was actually almost midnight by the time we got home and collapsing seemed the optimal choice.

Sunday morning Ellen and I took Bizz to Half Moon Bay for my birthday celebration.  We had a lovely time walking near the beach then all over town.  Bizz was quite the star in HMB - even the guys just hanging out at the restaurant were making a fuss over him.  We of course had to discuss the two most important topics of last week - Twerking and Syria.  So yes, you can use both in a sentence. 

Sunday evening walking was around my neighborhood with my friend Lieu.  She is unfamiliar with dogs but quite enjoyed our walk and talk of all our old friends and how grown up her three children are becoming.  Hard to believe one is getting ready to make college decisions in the coming months.

Monday morning dawned and Bizz and I drove up to Menlo Park to walk out near the Bay with Caroline and her dog Brin.  I had not realized how flat Campbell is until we challenged some of the hills but I'm happy to say we both survived. Amazing to see how the restoration of the wetlands is progressing.  Brin and Bizz were thrilled to be off leash and Bizz did well until the very end when he decided not to wait for me to go to the parking lot.  Time for psychological games as I deliberately turned around and started walking back up the hill.  Bizz followed immediately. 

The final walk last night was the most exciting of them all - about 4 blocks from the house we were strolling and in the bushes and plants ahead of us we suddenly say rustling and heard the high pitched squealing of rodents of some sort.  Then the rustling seemed headed our way and something came out running straight towards us. I didn't stop to see (though I assume it was a raccoon, possum or giant rat) but turned and ran tugging Bizz behind. The poor home owners must have been scared when they heard my scream and an "Oh my God, Run Bizz Run".  We ran two blocks before I slowed down.  Not taking that route late at night anymore.

So that was my weekend in walks and talks. Of course we start again today with our more solitary walkies (that's what we call them), but everyone is invited to join us.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Definitely Older, A Little Wiser, But Having a Lot More Fun

Today is my birthday.  I decided to take some time to think about how this year has changed my life.  So, a year ago.  A year ago I had quit my position at the Anita Borg Institute though I was working out my two week notice.  I was so ready to move on to the unknown.  It had been a heck of a two years - I had lost several friends and one of my cousins to a variety of illnesses and I had lost several of my favorite co-workers to other organizations. I was in need of a life change, I knew that deep in my heart, but I was not really sure what I was moving towards.  Little did I know what adventures were coming.

This year featured an amazing vacation in Hawaii where I got to swim with dolpins for the first time. It was an incredible experience but what I enjoyed just as much was that each morning I was able to eat my breakfast with the group of dolphins at the hotel.  Those dolphins reconnected me with my love of animals, over the years of cat allergies had gotten me into the habit of avoiding animals for fear of a reaction.  After the dolphins I realized that perhaps it was time to pursue getting a pet, I had the time working at home and the resources.  And as readers know - that led to the advent of Bizz.

At the same time I launched my consulting business and began working with my friend Deanna on Global Tech Women.  The consulting enabled me to use my marketing skills for new organizations and in different ways. I edited a book, which led me to realize that perhaps writing my own book was not an impossibility.  Global Tech Women allowed me to pursue my passion for helping and I learned a lot about new technologies and expanded my horizons globally.  My network is amazing.

I've also focused on deepening relationships. I went to my college reunion for the first time and made new friends and reconnected with old ones.  I got to spend some quality time with my nephew and learn just what an amazing person he is.  I've been able to connect with women I met during my ABI days and deepen those acquaintances into friendships.

Bizz expanded my world by bringing me into the dog subculture of the Bay Area. I've joined in the group discussions at dog parks and met wonderful and entertaining people.  I know all my neighbors when previously I didn't know anyone.  And I have come to enjoy having the time to just relax and enjoy spending time taking care of my little dog.

Spending this year in a very different way gave me a lot of time to think and discover what is important to me.  It makes me realize how much I envy academics who get a year's sabbatical to pursue their interests and research. 

Bizz and I are off to celebrate some more.  here is a picture of a happy little Bizz (pre grooming and tail wagging).

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Glass Pumpkin Dilemma

As anyone who has visited my home in September and October knows, I am a Halloween fan.  Fan may be putting it to mildly. I have been collecting Halloween decorations for years.  I have collected quite an array of glass pumpkins, figurines, art pieces and dolls.  And each year on my birthday I pull out all the collections and decorate so I can enjoy the collection for the two months a year it is on display.  It covers every square inch of furniture from dolls festooning the chairs to glass pumpkins on the coffee table.

This year is different.  And the difference is Bizz and his incredible fondness for leaping upon every piece of furniture I own - including the dining room table and the bookcases.  I have literally found Bizz perched on almost every piece of furniture that I have.  And this combined with his fondness for all things stuffed has me a bit worried about the safety of my collections and more importantly Bizz.

Of course this all came to mind yesterday when we visited Pet Smart to pick up his food supply for the week. I love taking Bizz to the pet stores because everyone makes a fuss and he just loves sniffing everything.  We finished in the food aisle(yippee a sale) and turned a corner to discover the Halloween aisle.  There it all was in glorious profusion.  Pet squeaky toys in the shapes of bats, pumpkins, rats (ick) and witches - both stuffed and rubber filled one section.  And then there were the costumes.   A wide array of costumes including one whole section by Disney and another by Martha Stewart met my eyes.  My first challenge was what to pick.  Would Bizz wear a witch hat with fake black hair?  Could I strap him into a Nemo costume?  Would I want to?  Then I saw it - a Tigger costume.  Bizz is a very bouncy little dog and a Tigger costume seemed perfect.  But alas and alack - they only had size XS and XXL.  I'm not sure what dog size he actually is but I'm pretty sure he's neither of those.

I was further hampered in my pursuit by the location of the costumes. They were next to the Guinea Pig, Rat and Bird adoption station.  Once Bizz got a whiff of those I knew we were doomed.  His lunging made looking at costumes difficult and the actual trying on of items virtually impossible.  It's very hard to shop when from the corner of your eye you can see rodents cowering and you hear birds twittering with desperation.

Yes, he thwarted me.  Perhaps he knew what I was plotting and didn't want to spend all day October 31st dressed up like a Disney Tigger.  Maybe he didn't think he'd look darling in a little witch hat. And worst of all, maybe he knew that the chances were any time someone came to the house he'd be put into the costume and gushed over.  And of course there would pictures galore. 

However there are still 70 days until Halloween and I don't give up easily. 

He did get a toy that he did like on the trip. A soft squishy pumpkin that squeeks quite loudly.  This may be the start of a new collection.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

How do you mend a broken heart?

First off - it is not my heart or Bizzy's that's broken.  The heart in question belongs to our little friend Truffles.  Let's take a step back.

I first met Truffles last year when I first entered into my search for a dog. I had a list of possibly hypoallergenic dogs and had made several unsuccessful trips to the vet.  Running into my friend Barb at the library she told me she knew someone who had a Shih Tzu rescue and would see if they had dogs to place.  A few days later I got an email about Truffles.  He was an 8 lb, 10 year old Shih Tzu purebred.  His owner was going into a nursing home and he could not go. He had been living with her daughter for the last six months but she was a Chihuahua breeder and did not want him.  So he was being taken to a Shih Tzu Rescue group but they agreed to stop by so I could meet him. I let my landlords Isabelle and Kelvin know he was coming since I wanted him to meet my dogs.

Truffles arrived and he really had no interest in me at all. He did let me hold him, but he never relaxed and in fact stood rigidly on my leg the whole time.  And boy did he set off my allergies.  Sadly I knew I could not keep him.  Isabelle and Kelvin came out and Truffles left me and marched up to Isabelle and that was that.  He was her dog.

Fast forward to the last few weeks.  Truffles was acting very listless a few months ago and was diagnosed with an enlarged heart.  Isabelle was told he had a year or two to live.  She tried a bunch of homeopathic treatments and he did seem to perk up. 

Then the cough started. First it was an infrequent cough but incredibly loud for such a tiny dog.  And it grew progressively worse and worse, more and more frequent.  Soon every step he took was accompanied by a wheeze or a cough. 

In reading about enlarged hearts I read they could put pressure on the lungs which can cause the cough.  We all talked about it and after much googling and searching Isabelle decided to take Truffles to see Dr. Waxman at the Sage Group.

Now, back to our question on How do you mend a broken heart? If you are a dog in the Bay Area the answer is Dr. Waxman.  Why you may ask?  Because he is the ONLY animal cardiologist in the entire Bay Area.  The next closest is at UC Davis Vet School.  Surreal.  Dr. Waxman is also a fairly new doctor - finishing his training two years ago.  He has a nurse also specialized in cardiology and the two of them are amazingly busy.  But the most amazing part - they are about 2 miles from the house tops.  We got so lucky.

Isabelle took Truffles in this morning and we went together to pick him up this afternoon.  I had a big list of questions for the doctor that I'd written down so he talked us through the diagnosis. 

It seems Truffles has not one condition but two. He has an enlarged heart which is getting bigger - thus putting pressure on his lungs and the heart does not pump efficiently. But on top he has the scourge that all toy dog owners must fear - a collapsed trachea.  Truffles trachea is collapsed very deep down which is bad since there is a repair for the higher up kind. 

So where do we go from here?  Truffles now has to take 3 different pills. One is for the trachea - it is a cough suppressant with codeine. That will enable Truffles to not be as irritated and feel less pain in his chest.  And two heart medications to help him reduce his fluids and reduce the size of his heart. This will also reduce pressure on his trachea and help his heart work more efficiently.

So how do you mend a broken heart?  You go see Dr. Waxman and get some meds.  The good news is that the intervention does not require surgery. The bad news is that Truffles can no longer go for walks, is on bed rest and we have to see how the meds work.  So we have a couple of weeks to see how things are working out then back to the vet.

I will, of course, keep you all posted.   Here is a photo of Truffles in his sweater.

Scaredy Dog

I believe I have written about Bizz's fear of fireworks before.  We discovered this on the 4th of July when we made the huge mistake of taking him for his evening walk and it seemed every street was setting off its own fireworks show.  Last night I discovered Bizz is also afraid of thunder. 

The weather yesterday was very odd.  A traditional August day, hazy, hot and humid, the evening continued to be quite warm.  Bizz and I headed out for our before bed walk at 9 p.m.  We got on a few steps when I realized I had water drops hitting me. I checked to see if the sprinkler system had gone amok but nope - it was raining.

For those of you not in California, it never rains in August.  Campbell and San Jose are typically dry from April - October.  This year has been no exception. The hills are truly golden in color because everything is dry as a bone and there are fire warnings everywhere.  So feeling drops of rain was surreal last night.  They were big drops but it wasn't pouring so we continued the walk.

What was most interesting was that dozens of my neighbors were outside in front of their homes looking up at the sky.  And to a person they all said - "it's raining", with voices filled with wonder and more than a little concern.  Of course they all admired Bizz immensely, but returned to watching the sky.  One man talked about how alien this all was, another about was it a sign of the apocalypse.

One woman, who's large dogs always bark at Bizz from their house, greeted me with the words, "Earthquake weather," and shook her head. I asked what she meant. She told me this kind of freakish weather is the same as during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.  Yikes.

 But we carried on with our walk until suddenly Bizz froze.  I turned and saw a young woman coming towards us on a skateboard.  But it wasn't her. Bizz turned around and started pulling me back towards the house. That's when I heard it, the very distant rumble of thunder.  A few moments later another lightning flash and more thunder.  We made it back to the house in record time, it's amazing how fast you go when Bizz is not stopping to pee on every tree, bush, flower and electrical pole.  We got inside and Bizz ran around the house checking all the rooms.  A few moments later the sky opened up and a torrential downpour began accompanied by thunder and lightning.  Bizz jumped up on my lap and snuggled close, shaking ever so slightly.  Poor little guy.

I really needed to thank him, if we'd kept going we would have been soaked, and been out without protection in a lightning storm.  So perhaps his fear is merely his way of making sure we both stay safe. 

We survived and today is a beautiful and much less humid day.  But everyone is still talking about our freaky weather.  I'm not worried, Bizz and I completed his full walk this morning to both our satisfaction.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Barking Dog, Sleepy Jerri

Bizz is a darling dog and I love him so much. But, there are times I would happily give him away to a passing carnival troop.  Bizz barks.  Loudly.  And with much melodrama at times. And won't stop.  Ack.

When I first got him he really never made a sound.  He never barked at all. It all changed when the plumber worked on the house for two straight days and made him nuts.  He started barking and it continued. 

Now, I don't mind if he barks when someone approaches the house.  That's part of his life mission.  To protect me from all interlopers and evildoers.  The poor mail man seems to be targeted for this.  However, when friends of mine came to stay the barking became ridiculous. He would stand outside their closed doors and bark incessantly.  He might eventually stop but would return in an hour and start again.  We tried them sleeping with their doors open and he would stand next to their bed and bark. 

So, I ordered an anti barking collar called the Dogtra No Bark collar.  The collar gives an electric shock to the dog when it barks.  What's good about it is the shock is adjustable and it gives the dog a warning vibration before it shocks them. 

Bizz wore it one night - got a shock - and henceforth did not bark while wearing it. He would not even give a peep.  Once the collar was removed the barking would start again.  But with the collar on he would simply huddle next to me, obviously saying I'm sorry, I'm sorry, and not make a peep. After two nights he no longer needed the collar during the night, just showing it to him and touching him with it (not shocking but touching) caused the barking to cease.

And since her visit in early July, no middle of the night barking.  Until about two weeks ago.  The barking started again.  Only at the back door.   He would go out, thoroughly inspect the entire yard, maybe pee, then come back in.  At 2 am.  Not fun.  I'm not sure why or where this behavior came from. My landlords have moved into a mother-in-law apartment on the property and perhaps it is the additional two humans and three dogs that is upsetting him.  Or some cat that is tormenting him. Or he's just decided that 2 am is a fun time to explore.

Given my need for sleep I reluctantly pulled out the collar. But I also started doing our evening walks later and making sure he hit the yard right before bed to make sure there were no issues, I do want him to bark rather than do business in the house.  I didn't use the collar right away. I waited for a night when the barking happened and I pulled it out.  He had it on for 5 minutes, not a peep.  I took it off and he spent the whole night cuddled up to me, his head on my stomach. And he hasn't barked in the middle of the night since. 

I am still not sure about the use of this device but it had stellar reviews, did not hurt Bizz at all and worked incredibly well. Now it is more of a deterrent than anything else.  For those dog owners out there, if the barking is getting to be too much (and at 2 am any barking is too much) I do recommend this product. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The best laid plans of dogs and women...

I had a great plan for yesterday and it almost went off without a hitch.  One of my resolutions for the month of August was taking one day of each weekend and taking off for somewhere either new or that I haven't visited for a while. Last weekend it was Fort Funston (not exactly new but new this summer and Bizz loves it).  This weekend the goal was Sausalito.  Marina joined Bizz and I for our little road trip. The first part went off without a hitch.  We drove up to Sausalito - enjoying everything up until the madness that is the Golden Gate Bridge. If you are not going to have people pay tolls but rather send them invoices, then take down the dadburned toll gates. I mean seriously, people jockeying for position with the toll booths is insane and somewhat dangerous.   We survived though Marina had a good laugh because the bus in front of us had a huge Stress Off Ad for some sort of vitamin water/drink thing and I was cursing at it and the bus when it cut us off.  She must have taken 10 pictures of the back of the bus.

In any case we arrived unscathed in Sausalito, parked the car and took Bizz for a lovely walk.  He just went nuts with the smells of the water, the trees, the people.  We eventually found a little sidewalk café for lunch.  They brought Bizz a big bowl of water and normally I would mention their name, except they did something that I think might hurt rather than help their business. I ordered Bizz a scambled egg as a treat and they brought it on a very nice table dish. I asked her if it was ok for him to eat off the plate since most places bring me a to go box since dogs aren't supposed to eat off the people dishes. She laughed and said I don't care and we gave the dish to Bizz.  In fact as usual he got the best service of anyone. 

After we continued to walk the waterfront, failing to see any of the America's Cup boats out on the water.  We did get to window shop and took turns going into stores, though not fun when Marina was left outside since Bizz would basically freeze or attempt to get into the shop. I was buying something and could hear her outside, "At least sit down sweetie if you aren't going to move."

We finished our day of walking and shopping with ice creams at Café Tutti, very tasty and with a nice outside table.  And they had a nice ice water station so Marina was able to fill up his bowl.  So we can use their name.  Two thumbs and a dew claw up.

Our final stop of the day was back in Santa Clara. My plan was to drop Bizz off with Marina to take a short walk so I could get gas and go through the car wash. I dropped Bizz and Marina near her place and headed to the car wash.  I saw them approaching while waiting on line but then lost sight of them.  A minute later there was Marina carrying Bizz heading right for the car.  She climbed in and told me something shocking. Bizz had been so desperate to find me he'd fought her the whole walk - straining to go back or refusing to move, and then as they were actually getting close he had reared up on his hind legs and managed to escape his harness and took off.  She was able to catch him but accumulated a few cuts and bruises.  I was and I am still horrified.  Poor Marina.  We then had to find a way to calm Bizz down because we were at the point of no return - we were heading into the car wash.  Good grief.

The good news was Marina had him in a tight grip and I focused on having him drink some water and stroking his head so we were able to survive the car wash. The last time he went nuts and leaped around the car like a maniac.  I dropped Marina off at home and Bizz sat in the front seat the whole ride home, the epitome of innocence personified.  "Who me?" was the look on his face though every time I stopped patting him he'd start barking.

So much for my quick and painless car wash. It was painful for all three of us.  From now on Bizz will have to stay home for my trips to the car wash. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

When Bizz Met Max

By 10:00 am this morning Bizz and I had completed our good deed of the day.  We were out for our morning constitutional when what should appear ahead of us but a small white dog.  Now, I must say - I never noticed small white dogs much before I got Bizz - but now I think I'm a small white dog magnet.  The dog was looking at us anxiously from the other side of a bush Bizz was busy watering.  I didn't want to scare the dog - I could see he was well cared for and had a collar but it is so unsafe for little dogs to be roaming free - that I decided we should catch him.  Bizz overcame his usual disdain for other dogs (he is just not a player) and strained to meet the little dog.  The dog led us on a bit of a chase then went through an open gate into the back yard of a nearby house.  I went and knocked on the front door to no avail - no one home.  I thought briefly of shutting the gate but then thought if the dog doesn't belong to this house I'm creating problems for the dog (who would have no access to shelter and water) and the homeowner (who would be dealing with a strange dog in their yard. 

I got lucky and the house next door's garage door opened and a woman came out. I explained the situation and she told me that it was just Max.  He did belong to the house next door and we walked over and closed the gate. 

It was a great reminder to me on how important it is to check both gates before ever letting Bizz into our yard. 

As for doing a good deed - I had a woman come to my house yesterday - she'd seen a truck being driven around our neighborhood in an odd fashion - making several U-Turns - then stopping in front of my house.  She watched the man go through our gate then come out right away and hope in his truck and drive away. She immediately crossed the street to knock on my door to let me know. I thanked her - and she said, "We're all neighbors and I don't want anyone messing with our neighborhood.".  Turns out the truck belonged to our gardener but it made Isabelle and I more aware of keeping things that might tempt someone away from the gate. 

All in all a great start to the day.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Ears Have It

When I chat with Bizz most of the reactions I get are communicated through the ears.  We started the discussion with the question of did he want to go for a walk.  Watch his answer.

Yes, the ears definitely had it.

The King of the Forest

So I will admit it now, I have always had a thing for lions.  It has many roots in my childhood. One of my first stuffed toys was a lion which amazingly I still have today - all sewn and patched up with vivid orange thread which doesn't match anything.  The lion - who's name was mylion - is carefully tucked away to preserve it from Bizz and his never ending desire to claim all things stuffed as his own.  Not sure what is going to happen to my Santa and Snowman collections this Christmas. 

I also adored the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz.  I was convinced he was from New Jersey with his accent and I loved his curly mane.  I dressed as him for two Halloweens but from what I can tell not a single photo of myself in a Halloween costume exists from my childhood.  And of course there was Elsa, the lion from Born Free. 

So why do I talk of Lions when this blog is about my little white dog?  Well I think at his heart Bizz is a lion with more than a hint of the Cowardly Lion in him.  This thought started the other day when we were out patrolling the neighborhood and came across a neighbor attempting to entice his very large (bigger than Bizz) Maine Coon cat into his house.  Now Bizz goes absolutely nuts when he sees a cat - pulling on his leash, whining - all to beg me to let him attack. This cat however marched right towards us and Bizz froze - staring intently.  The cat came right up to him, his huge paws with their six toes fascinated me. The cat walked right up to Bizz and stared him straight in the eye.  They were less than an inch apart. I whispered to the man I was worried about his cat, he told me to be more worried about my dog.  As they stared - you got it - Bizz flinched.  He walked away - tail in the air but he kept glancing anxiously over his shoulder.  Yep, the cat won.

Then this weekend Marina and I returned to my favorite place - dog heaven- Fort Funston.  Bizz was of course overjoyed.  He did his usual running up to larger dogs that were tusseling, barking, then running back to stand or sit between my legs - very much an "I told you to break it up and if you have a problem with it talk to her".  At one point we were taken aback when I huge white dog came running up to Bizz - bigger than a german shepherd.  We were worried the dog was just going to slam into Bizz but amazingly Bizz held his ground and the dog pulled up short.  So maybe he's not that cowardly with his own species. 

But my favorite moment was during one walk Marina and I came to a fork in the road and we definitely went the wrong way.  We were walking in a thick grove of trees and as she and Bizz proceeded ahead of me I found myself having to stoop lower and lower as the tree branches were thicker and lower as we progressed.  Marina finally saw the break back to the main path and proceeded.  I was at the point of getting down on my hands and knees and in my mind I could hear the chant of lions and tigers and bears oh my.  However, that was disrupted when Bizz discovered I was at his level and proceeded to sit in the midst of my path to block me and thought this was perfect play time.  Marina quite enjoyed the conversation she heard from in the brush - I believe I kept saying _ Not now Bizz, would you please move.  When at last we were free Bizz returned to running about. 

I realized how long it had been since I had left the beaten trail and done a little exploring in the weeds so to speak.  And how much I love my little Lion dog - who is brave in the face of incoming danger but not quite sure how to deal with a face to face threat.

Here is Bizz in his classic lion dog pose.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Fireworks and dogs do not mix

I had pretty much decided Bizz was fearless - he doesn't hesitate when running up to scold big dogs, chase cats or defend me from strangers ( he was hilarious in defending me from my friend Ravi this morning which mostly involved him barking at Ravi then running back to jump in my lap.). But he is terrified of fireworks.  I had hoped we were done till New Years but someone set off fireworks tonight when we were at the farthest point of our nightly walk.  Well he didn't bark or even shake but we made it home in record time tonight.  And he has not left my side since.  He even sat on my feet while I brushed my teeth.  We are now in bed - he is at my side, his head on my leg and periodically checking in to make sure I am still here.  Poor baby.  

Monday, July 29, 2013

Dog Friendly Restaurants: Half Moon Bay Brewing Company

Yesterday my friend Ellen and I headed out to celebrate her birthday.  The weather was nice so we headed over the mountain to Half Moon Bay to enjoy a brisk coast side walk after our lunch.  We wanted seafood and needed someplace dog friendly. Ellen remembered a previous trip, when we were Bizz free,  and we ate at Barbara's seafood (with no outdoor seating not dog friendly).  Across the street had been a restaurant that she recalled had dogs outside.  We stopped on our way at the Sunday Farmers Market a block up and went to check out the goods.  We were immediately told that Bizz was not allowed so I opened the car windows( a good 4 inches each), took off his leash (he is known to get hung up on it when he's left in the car for as much as two minutes alone) and promised him a fast return.  I cruised the market quickly and after a chat with a glass blower who is from New Jersey (Maplewood - right near my home town) and who also spent his summers on the Jersey Shore (Barnegat on Long Beach Island)we headed back to the car. There was a couple staring into my car and I thought god what have I done.  Then we started laughing. Bizz had curled up on the top of the back seat directly under the rear window and was napping. He looked like a cat.  I rescued him and after a long cat with the people who'd been watching him off we went to the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company.

I give this restaurant 4 out of 4 stars. First off, they have a huge outdoor patio.  It is dotted with fire pits but also heaters are liberally distributed so you could eat outdoors on a very foggy morning win complete comfort. I was very happy in my shorts and t-shirt, no jacket required.  We were given a table with space so Bizz could stretch out next to it.  We were brought glasses of water while Bizz received a nice bowl.  There were a large number of groups scattered about with their dogs by their sides.  The men us large but not overwhelming. I had the best new England clam chowder in a bread bowl that I've had in years.  Ellen loved her fish tacos.  Bizz enjoyed a few bits of bread. I had decided not to buy him his own burger patty since I had snacks for him with me. 

I especially loved watching single people eating out with their dogs. It's nice to know I'm not the only person who talks to their dog like a person. One woman won my heart as she finished eating and said to her dog - that was lovely.  Are you ready to go?  Me too."  And off they went to continue their day.

The service was speedy (which is good since dogs do not have an unlimited patience with restaurants and Bizz does like to run up to other dogs), the food great and the atmosphere just lovely for a relaxing Sunday morning.  After that we went to the State Beach and did a long walk.  The only downfall was Bizz spotting an enormous group of horses and suddenly lunging.  I had him on a firm leash but he landed in what seemed like ashes and went from being my glorious little white dog to a black and white dog.  It was not a good look.  After dropping Ellen at home I brought Bizz back for a bath so he is once again my lovely little white dog.

So, highly recommend HMB Brewing Company the next time you and your canine companion are in HMB.  Also, the prices were very reasonable.

Saturday in the Park with Bizz

Bizz and I timed our outing on Saturday perfectly.  We ended up at our favorite dog park when there were loads of little dogs for him to cavort with.  Of course , being Bizz, he did not cavort. He did the routine and much required butt sniffing routine with all the other dogs but spent most of his time at my feet or very nearby - guarding me from all these interlopers who dared to approach me.  He did break periodically to bark like crazy at large dogs approaching the other side of the fence, returning to me with his tail high in the air and a self assured attitude that said, I told him.  All in all he was hilarious.

I ended up on a bench chatting with numerous other dog owners, all comparing stories of saving their beloved pets from shelters, dying relatives and the streets.  It's a rare thing to meet someone with a dog that they got from a breeder as a puppy and when they do they tell their story with an apologetic tone and a I'll get my next one from the shelter.

All the dogs have their thing - one dog will chase a ball but won't fetch it. One dog with amazing legs will fetch every ball thrown no matter who's master throws it.  Some dogs rough house and some dogs simply go from person to person waiting to be patted. 

What they all have in common is the absolute adoration of their human owners.  Like me they all feel very lucky to have found the right dog, their dog.  And of a single accord we all departed when it approached noon and the temperatures began to climb.

We walked out past the women prisoners who'd come to clean the park, the sheriff's bus prominently parked and the guards walking about.  The women all smiled at Bizz (he is the cutest dog) and I could see they wanted to pat him but we could not approach each other.  The lake was full of fish and ringed with fisherman - couples  happily fishing together, fathers and sons, grandfathers and their grandsons - all enjoying the lovely day. 

I love our Saturday mornings in the park, always very similar but no two exactly alike.

Monday, July 22, 2013

It's a Small World After All...

Yesterday just proved to me that karma and something else is at work in the world, or the world is even smaller than I thought.  Here's the story.

About a week ago I received an email from KQED - the local PBS station. They invited me to order free tickets for a taping of a new series - Genealogy Roadshow.  I ordered two tickets and when I got my confirmation I asked my friend Marina to drive up to San Francisco to watch the taping.  She said yes so we planned to drive up on Sunday morning.

Two days later I heard from my second cousin Bonnie.  She and I have never met in person but her dad and I met at my grandmother's funeral 15 years ago.  We've emailed and done Christmas cards for years and of course we connected as soon as we could on Facebook.  Bonnie introduced me to yet another second cousin who is working on - you got it - the family genealogy of my grandmother's family.  Patrick and I started emailing and we had a wonderful dispute over my grandfather's name. He kept insisting it was James and I kept telling him that was not possible since I was actually named Jerri after my grandfather.  He double checked and confirmed I was right (and thanks to my cousin Nancy who checked with her mom to confirm my grandfather's middle name was John and not James).  So much genealogy stuff in one week - who would have thought it?

Anyway, yesterday Marina and I hopped in the car and off to SF we went.  We were early - we'd been told to get there about an hour early. Taping was taking place in the old Mint Building - which now a very cool museum.  We stopped to chat with one of the KQED folks and he told us we could wait in the waiting room or if we had questions for a genealogist we could ask. I looked into the room and I saw what looked like my friend Jean Hibben.  Jean and I met back in 1999 - when I had first moved to California.  We had friends in common and we had all decided to meet up in Tahoe.  I drove in through a horrendous late season storm.  Thank god I had rented an SUV since some of our friends were coming from the UK with a skiing tour group (even though none of them skied).  Jean, our dear friend Wendy and I shared one room at the hotel and we had a blast that weekend. 

Anyway, I know Jean lives in LA and I couldn't figure out if it was here or I was seeing one of those doppelgangers we all have roaming around. I asked the man who she was - he said - Oh that's Jean , the chief genealogist for the show.  I immediately went towards her with a big smile on my face.  Poor Jean, I could see she could not place me right away (context is everything when it comes to facial recognition) and she said, "are you with the McCormick Family?"  I told her no and my name and she jumped up and hugged me.  She had had the same problem I had - she knew she knew me but not in the context we were in.

We had a wonderful reunion, chatted about old friends, she told me about the show and how much prep work it is to gather the information which looks so easy on TV.  She did finally have to get to work, but I'm hoping we can see each other again soon.  Marina and I managed to get in on one episode's taping.  Amazing how much work it is, especially when everything has to stop every time a vehicle with a siren goes whizzing by (which in San Francisco seemed to be about once every 10 minutes). I learned a lot watching and we had a wonderful time.

The episodes of Genealogy Roadshow will be airing in September and October. If it does well they'll do a season 2.  Like Antiques Roadshow they will be coming to different cities so if you want it to come to your hometown you better watch it.

Here are Jean and I with big grins on our faces.

And yes, Bizz did have to be left home. Yes he was a maniac when I got back.  He did have Kelvin doing work around the house for company so he could have hung out and had a guy's day but he chose to spend it sleeping amongst his stuffed buddies.  

Friday, July 19, 2013

Scandinavian Feet

I had to go to the podiatrist late last week, as part of my regular health maintenance.  I had purchased the walking shoes he recommended on my previous visit since my daily walking with Bizz was wearing out my shoes quickly.  He was pleased with how everything looked and told me I had great Scandinavian feet.  Scandinavian?  I'm 3/4 Irish and 1/4 German/French -depending on which country the region belonged to when my family immigrated. He explained that Scandinavian feet meant a broad sole of the foot, high arch and narrow heel.  Nice sturdy feet made to do plenty of walking.  Which explains why I have spent my whole life struggling to find women's shoes that fit properly.  My feet just don't fit into pointy high heeled shoes, never have and I am happy to say I never will try again.

I will admit - when I was diagnosed with diabetes my feet were my primary concern.  My great grandmother (also a diabetic) had undergone an amputation due to her diabetes and my step grandmother's brother had as well.  Plenty of reasons to control my blood sugar and keep on walking.  It's also why I never take my shoes off - at home or at other people's houses - protecting my feet is my top priority - though if warned in advance I bring slippers along.

So what does this have to do with Bizz?  Nothing much.  Though he does have an incredible fondness for my shoes and will often move them about the house to keep him company when I'm gone or bring them into bed with him. 

So how are your feet doing?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Little White Dog vs 3 Year Old

This Sunday I had to leave Bizz at home and head off to the beauty salon to get my hair done.  While there I discovered my hairdresser had brought her 3 year old stepson to be.  I found myself comparing Bizz and the three year old the entire time and realized they are more similar than you would ever imagine.

1.  The three year old repeatedly attempted to flee though the open door.  Susie had to keep one eye on him at all times since every time someone opened the door he'd attempt to take off.  Yes, Bizz does the same thing. An open door (or gate) to him symbolizes freedom, even though he has no clue what's out there or why he wants to go.

2.  A three year old has the attention span of a gnat - two toys were simply not enough for two hours.  Bizz is the same way.  He is endlessly roaming the house with his toys and abandoning them for something else.  New is best. 

3.  Three year olds have no compunction about demanding attention from everyone.  He approached every patron with the intention of engaging them in conversation. Bizz can't see a dog without immediately straining to engage.  Equally they both lose interest fairly rapidly.

4.  If there is a piece of furniture you don't want them on, well that's the one they will immediately climb on.  The three year old climbed on every piece - including the shampooing chairs.  Bizz would have done the same only much faster.

5.  They can make you feel terrible for yelling in a nanosecond.  Bizz has the most expressive eyes and so did this little boy.

6.  You spend a lot of time saying Sit and having the subject in question basically ignore you if there is something they find more interesting.

7.  What did you do?  Also an expression I am very familiar with.  At least the child can try to answer but mostly like Bizz he just would get big eyes and shrug.

The big advantage in taking Bizz along is that no one questions why he's on a leash.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Little White Dog in Summer

So now that the heat has really started here in sunny Campbell, CA I have had to learn more about dog care in summer.  Bizz is a very fluffy white dog and he can overheat really quickly.  I've had to figure out a few things and fortunately found some web sites and tv shows that have offered some helpful tips.

1.  Hydration - dogs can dehydrate very quickly.  I make sure Bizz always has a full bowl of water at home and it's full of ice.  I know that people who know me are very aware of my ice addiction in all things cold, but - dogs like icy cold water as well. Helps them cool off.  One show also recommended that you make a dog ice lick mixing water and chicken stock and freezing it so dogs can lick it.  Bizz and I aren't quite there yet since he does like to carry food to odd places in the house - I'm not sure I want a big block of frozen chicken stock melting in my bed.  I have also started carrying with me small bottles of water (available at Trader Joes) and I've trained Bizz to drink from a bottle. He laps the water out of the bottle or I pour it slowly and he licks it like he would from a faucet.  I now carry water bottles for both of us when we are out walking.  And at restaurants, outdoor cafes and even fast food places - just let them know you have a dog and ask for a cup or plastic container of ice water.  Everyone is incredibly obliging and helpful and I've never been turned down yet.  I am still in search of the perfect foldable container so if you know of one send me a comment.

2.  Walk at the coolest times of the day - Bizz and I do two longer walks during the day - one before 10 am and one after it gets dark (after 8 p.m.).  That way he can walk longer and the hot pavement doesn't hurt his feet.  Also, the advantage of California microclimates is that you can drive to a cool foggy place fairly easily - hence our explorations of Fort Funston and Carmel.

3.  Always have a shady spot outside for him to rest - we are very lucky to have two shady trees in our yard and a small overhang that provides shade all day.  Dogs can't be left out in a yard in full sun without anyplace to retreat.

4.  Frequent bathing - not every day but  Bizz does get a bath at least once a week (more if he rolls in something disgusting).  Dirt on a dog can cause them to get hotter.  Also, I make sure to wash his head and face each day with a cool washcloth to help him stay cooler.

5.  Don't expect them to eat as much. I was fretting since Bizz wasn't eating very much but I realized that like humans dogs feel the heat as well.  I make sure he always has access to fresh kibble and water and he still gets his wet food but in smaller amounts. 

6.  NEVER LEAVE A DOG IN A CAR - I am endlessly shocked that people will lock a dog in their car just for "five minutes".  Cars can heat incredibly rapidly and cause heat exhaustion, heat stroke and death. I never leave Bizz in the car except at the gas station and there the window is open and I'm right outside of it talking to him. If you can't be making sure your dog is ok and comfortable then the best thing to do is leave him at home in a shady yard or cool house.