Sunday, June 28, 2015

Celebrity Sunday: Olivia Benson, Meet Olivia Benson

Nothing better than a celebrity cat meeting her celebrity namesake!

Olivia Benson meeting Olivia Benson. @therealmariskahargitay

A video posted by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Art of Hiring a Dog Walker...or not.

Earlier this year I was incredibly lucky to join a firm that put me in a position to stop commuting and move ten minutes from my office. Astrea grew up living in a condo, but I was apprehensive to move her into an apartment setting. Her temperament has changed so much over the past couple of years, I was terrified that she'd be that problem child dog barking all day long. LUCKILY she has adjusted very well. She rarely barks at the normal apartment sounds and people walking by, loves all the walks we go on everyday, and I think the smaller space has helped her confidence because it's easier for her to navigate around. Since moving, with the exception of a handful of days, I would come home at lunch every day to take Astrea out for a potty break and give her a snack. I knew eventually I'd have to hire a dog walker, but I put it off and off and off. After an incredibly busy week, I decided it was time to finally suck it up and look for a dog walker.

In the midst of reading profiles and reviews I sent one of my friends a message that said, "Omg. I'm interviewing a dog walker Saturday, I'm terrified. I'm definitely going to have to be a stay at home mom, because I think hiring day care will give me a stroke." I'm not kidding. This has been the most nerve wracking experience. When we lived in Folsom we were frequent visitors to the Doggie Daycare in the Petsmart Pet Hotel. That decision was so easy. We had taken puppy classes in one of their day care rooms and frequently spent time hanging out with the staff at the hotel. When it came time to leave Astrea for the first time we both knew so many of the staff members that there wasn't a moment of hesitation in leaving her behind. Couple that with the fact that I could drop by at any moment and see exactly what Astrea was doing by looking through the huge viewing windows and there was no real reason for me to be worried. This is completely different. This person is a total stranger. They will be coming into my house when I'm not here and taking my special needs dog out for a walk without me. Astrea cannot tell me if anything goes wrong. This is a complete leap of faith for me.

We started with an interview. Just one. Why just one? Because I only found one dog walker that was available for individual walks. Almost everyone else I came across picks up groups of dogs and takes them on long hikes or walks two or three dogs that live close by. Astrea is not a candidate for that. Astrea is an independent doggie and she does not want to follow anyone else's rules. She likes to go on her walk, but many days is happy just go to potty then relax on the grass. She's very easily distracted and would hate to leave any exciting scent behind. She's also not afraid to let you know that she's not a huge fan of strange dogs. So, that left us with one option.

The morning of the interview I took Astrea on a long walk in an effort to exhaust her and, hopefully, get some nervous energy out. Astrea was asleep when the dog walker arrived, but the second the she heard a knock on the door she was on guard. We were meeting not one walker, but two, the weekday walker and night/weekend walker. Astrea barked when I let them in, just to let them know who was in charge. They sat on the floor to let her check them out, and I knew pretty quickly how things were going to end.

Astrea LOVED the night and weekend walker. She was totally into him. Climbing in his lap, letting him pet her, and over all willing to do whatever he wanted. The weekday walker, the one I needed her to love, not so much. She would not stop barking at her. There was no real reason. The woman was doing everything right, but Astrea felt incredibly threatened by her. So, after a few more scratches and pets from the lovely night and weekend walker we got a few names for other dog walkers that do single dog walks and we sent them on their way. I was a little defeated that we weren't able to find a dog walker that day, but figured we would try another soon, or not.

A few day later, I came home at lunch to walk Astrea and saw a puppy on his first walk with his dog walker. I've never seen dog so terrified in my life. This poor puppy was trying desperately to get away from the walker. All its hair was standing up and he wanted nothing more than to be done with this walk. Astrea was extremely concerned. She heard the puppy's cries and would not leave until he calmed down. We talked to the dog walker a bit because I couldn't get Astrea to budge and she told me it was pretty typical for a first day with a dog walker. For the record, Astrea hunted down that puppy the next day, and it was doing much better. Not freaked out, still learning to walk on a leash, but much more relaxed. So even though I saw what a difference a day could make with a dog walker, I just couldn't imagine putting Astrea through that, not even once. I'm pretty sure she would be completely ruined. So...we continued with me coming home at lunch while we figured out our next move.

#LoveWins

I know it's off topic - but I'm so thrilled with the Supreme Court decision today. Poor Astrea thought I lost my mind this morning. I woke up and turned the radio on just as they announced the decision and freaked out. So exciting. Congratulations to everyone who has waited their whole life for the freedom and equality today's decision affords them. #lovewins

Monday, June 22, 2015

Mobile Monday: Mini-BFF

A couple years ago, my sister gave Astrea a new mini-bff. They're still working on their relationship, you know how toddlers can be, but when food and walks are involved, she LOVES him.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

New Name, Same [sort of] Blog

We're back! Not sure if anyone is still out there, but if you are - welcome back! We've got a new name, and renewed energy. It's been almost two years since my last post and a lot, a lot, a lot has changed since then. So let's break it all down.

First, let's start with what led to the break. I started this blog when I was in law school. After I passed the bar I looked for a job for many, many months. Finally, in October 2012 I interviewed for a job in San Francisco. They called me the next day and asked if I could start the next morning. So, with about 18 hours until I had to be at my new job I packed up Astrea and Ora and we moved back home. After a few months working in San Francisco I found a more permanent job in the East Bay. Trying to manage being a first year lawyer was more difficult than I anticipated and I couldn't keep up with finding things to write about. So after a few months of trying, I just kind of let things go here. I never forgot about the blog though. I occasionally posted on my facebook page, and kept thinking that someday I would get back here, so here I am.

So, you may be wondering about the name, well - that's what we're working with here - a blind dog and a toothless cat. How did that happen you ask? Well, let's start with the dog. Astrea was always a little different when it came to playing. Her all time favorite thing to do was chase shadows. We would spend hours in the grass while she chased the shadows of the birds visiting our neighbors feeders. It was cute and it made her happy, and I had no idea it could be an indication of a sight problem. In the summer of 2013, Astrea fell in the pool at my parents. And it happened more than once. It didn't even cross my mind that she may be having trouble seeing, I just assumed she wasn't paying attention. As the year progressed, around November, we noticed that at night she was starting to bump into things. Again, I really didn't think any of it. It's a big house, lots to see and hear, I just thought she was being clumsy. Then, she started to get apprehensive about going on her walks. I left early in the morning for work, so we would go on our walks at night. It was pretty clear she was having trouble seeing when it was dark so we started taking a flashlight, and even fashioned her a custom doggy headlamp! With the additional light she was on her way. By late January 2014, she was refusing to go on walks at night altogether. We went to the regular vet and he took a look in her eyes. He couldn't see anything scary - no injury, no growth - but he did notice that her eyes weren't dilating normally. Now that didn't surprise me. Her entire life Astrea had very large pupils that didn't seem to dilate normally, but it was never of any concern. She got around fine, loved to play, she had her little quirks (her love of chasing shadows, and hatred for looking up toward the sun) but I never had any inclination that her eyes were having any trouble. Since the regular vet didn't see anything that jumped out as wrong, he sent us to the ophthalmologist. The ophthalmologist would have much more powerful tool to really see into her eyes and figure out what was going on.


After the first falling in the pool incident.

On Valentine's Day 2014, I took the day off work, we drove to Stockton and went for our appointment at the doggie eye doctor. It was really, really uneventful. He turned off all the lights, took a look in her eyes and within a few seconds said, "She's got retinal degeneration." That was it. Turned the lights back on and after a few minutes of discussion, we were on our way. Based on her age, she had probably been losing her eye sight since she was born. There's nothing we could do. Most people have no idea their dog is losing their eye sight until the night vision goes. Once the night vision goes, the rest of the vision is gone shortly after. It's been a little over a year now, and Miss Astrea is essentially blind. She does best during the day time because she can still perceive shadows a bit, but otherwise, she's relying on her other senses. It's definitely an adventure, but we're learning. I'm sure there will be many, many posts to come about Astrea's sight, or rather, lack thereof.


Astrea right after we saw the ophthalmologist.

Toothless cat? Yup. This is actually old news. It was about two years ago that I first posted about the decision to pull Ora's remaining teeth. Not long after Ora came to live with us we discovered she was a sensitive girl. She had some skin issues and a few of her teeth were in bad shape. No matter how much we tried to manage her teeth and gums, her stomatitis was progressing quickly and the best thing for her comfort and health was to pull the teeth. It definitely has not slowed her down one bit. Ora is the queen of the neighborhood (a.k.a. neighborhood bully) and continues to be a master hunter. There have been some casualties, but luckily, her prey is often presented still alive and we've have many successful rescue missions. Pro tip - the easiest way to catch a lizard in the house is to throw a dish towel over it. It will stop running and you can scoop it up to release it outside. Ora still loves her dry food, and aside from the occasional treat, she refuses to eat wet food. She's gone for many a checkup, and her mouth looks great since having the teeth pulled. She's in great health and happy as a clam.


A baby squirrel Ora admired and tried to pay with one morning.

So that's where we are now. Even with a fairly recent new job, I finally have the time and energy to recommit to the blog and I'm ready to share our adventures with you! I hope you'll be with me in this new chapter!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Solider's Dog Given Away While Deployed

This is such a sad story, so I'm hoping that we can all get the word out and help find this dog!

About a year after joining the Army, 1st Lt. Brandon Harker got a playful lab over Memorial Day weekend in 2011, while he was at Fort Benning in western Georgia. He named him Oakley. Describing him sweetly as "a very big baby," Harker said Oakley loved to snuggle. "It doesn't matter who it was, he'd try to crawl up on your lap." He also likes to likes to run, swim and get into most everything -- "whether it's trouble or not."

Whenever Harker was in the United States, Oakley would go with him. Most recently, Harker was stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McCord in Washington. Whenever he deployed, his beloved dog would be left with a friend. That's what happened last year, when the lieutenant left Oakley with someone he described as a "good friend" before he headed off to Afghanistan. "Every time, while I was gone, I asked about him," Harker said, recalling how his friend would insist Oakley was "doing good (and) acting like his regular self. "I'd ask for a picture every now and then. But I never got any pictures sent to me."

Harker learned the truth as he was flying back to Washington. "What do you mean you got rid of my dog?" he told his friend. In the few days since coming back, Harker has been on a mission. He posted a plea to find Oakley on Craigslist, noting that he didn't know if the dog had been sold or given away -- something he'd been told happened in May, though Harker isn't so sure. It could have happened anytime between February or June.

Harker describes Oakley as yellow labrador retriever with a unique coat - on his face, down his sides and legs he has spots of a darker yellow or champagne color. Oakley is good with kids and other dogs. Oakley is micro-chipped and registered.

If you have any information, please contact Harker via his craigslist ad here.

Via CNN.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

11-year-old Uses Birthday Party to Help Pit Bulls

There is nothing I love more than a kid who is out to help others. Some of my favorite posts from my local shelters aren't the cute pictures of puppies and kitties, but the kids who are coming in to donate their birthday money or their allowance. It makes me so excited for our future to see a child who just wants to help make the world a better place. Check out Zachary Felts of Pauline South Carolina...

Zachary Felts of Pauline, S.C., has the following quote posted on his bedroom wall: “You can’t trust a Pitt Bull because they will steal your heart.” Although he doesn’t know who wrote the statement, the 11-year-old strongly shares the sentiment and claims it as his favorite quote. So much so, he sacrificed all his birthday presents to help pit bulls. “People think pit bulls are so mean, and they’re not,” Zachary said. “It’s just the way they are treated.”

In today’s world, Zachary’s favorite quote can stir up a little controversy. Pit bulls have been associated with aggressive behavior and are feared by many people. “There is a cultural bias when it comes to the pit bull,” said Dr. Jim Dobies, a veterinarian who owns South Point Pet Hospital in Belmont. “Gaston County has a number of pit bull mixes that are pets and they have always been the most friendly dogs to work with.”

Zachary, who has grown up with all types of dogs including five pit bulls, described the breed as “sweet,” and decided he wanted to help all the abandoned pit bulls he believes people mislabel. Zachary’s mother, Summer Felts, said that five months before his 11th birthday party, Zachary told her that instead of getting presents for himself he wanted his guests to bring dog items to donate to a pit bull rescue center in Charlotte. Although she said he loves all dogs, his heart lies mostly with pit bulls. “He gets all fired up whenever he sees the media representing pit bulls poorly. He knows how devoted and loyal they are and how they love to please their owners,” Summer Felts said.

Zachary chose South of the Bully Rescue Center because it was the only one in their region that specifically rescues the pit bull breed. South of the Bully rescues pit bulls from Chester County, S.C., Animal Control and Gaston County Animal Control. “I don’t know if I will ever have another breed,” said South of the Bully Vice President Karrie Murphy. “We all believe they are misunderstood and we are trying to change that image.” South of the Bully is a nonprofit organization staffed by volunteers. It was established in October to rescue pit bulls and place them in foster care until they find a permanent home. “Pit bulls are euthanized more often than any other breed,” Murphy said. The organization provides all necessary veterinarian care and needs through public donations and adoption fees.

South of the Bully will have an adoption event on July 27 at Pet Essentials on Pineville-Matthews Road in Charlotte. Zachary along with his family will attend to deliver all the donated dog items, including 300 pounds of dog food, and to get a closer look at one of their rescued pit bulls he’s interested in adopting. The staff is looking forward to meeting him. “For a kid to say I don’t want presents, instead, I want to give to these dogs, and to pick us, we were all floored,” Murphy said.

Summer said Zachary’s excitement was not curbed by the fact he wasn’t getting presents. “He was so excited at the party,” she said. “He was ecstatic as though he was opening presents for himself.” Many guests brought both a donated item and money in case he wanted something for himself. “He took that and bought more dog supplies,” Summer said.

Zachary, who is a fifth-grader at Glenn Springs Elementary School in Pauline, has decided what he wants to do when he grows up. “I want to have a rescue organization,” he said.

via Charlotte Observer

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Firefighter Captures Kitten's Rescue on Helmet Camera

If you want a little pick me up today, check out this heartwarming video of a firefighter's rescue of a tiny kitten.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Rescue Me! (from the bath...)

I recently decided that for the sake of our sanity and pocketbook, I need to learn to groom Astrea myself. When we lived in Folsom we had a fantastic groomer, Maureen. She was wonderful. Her prices were reasonable, she didn't double book, and she treated Astrea like the little princess we tell her she is. The first time I took Astrea to be groomed Maureen was at a big box pet store. The place was loud, there were lots of dogs and Astrea was terrified. If I remember correctly she peed on the floor she was so scared. When we went back six weeks later Maureen remembered how Astrea reacted and booked her at a time that was not so busy. Once there were no more dogs around she took Astrea off her leash and just let her explore the salon and see that it's not that scary. That's what got us hooked on Maureen. When she left the big box store and went to a smaller shop 30 minutes away, we followed her. Unfortunately, now were two-and-a-half hours away and that's just much to far for us to drive for a haircut. I've tried a groomer locally, I gave them two shots, but they just are cutting it.

20130713_110336

Please don't make me take a bath.

So, now here we are trying to navigate the world of grooming a dog who barely lets me give her a bath. One of the things that I always loved about taking Astrea to see Maureen is, when she would come back her hair would be soft like when she was a puppy. I've never been able to replicate that feeling when I give Astrea a bath at home...until now! I'll be honest, I never would have thought that dogs need conditioner. I know how important it is to caring for my own hair, but never thought that my dog may need some of the same level of care.

20130713_110351

This past weekend we tried Viva la Dog Spa Rescue Me! Deep Conditioner and I am in LOVE. Not only does it smell fantastic, once Astrea's coat dried it was so incredibly soft. I couldn't stop petting her and telling her how soft her fur was! A few years back Astrea had a little skin infection on her back end and her hair never grew back the same. It's always been coarse and tough. I was thrilled that even that tough, coarse spot felt fantastic! I can only imagine how it will feel after we use it a few more times. I was a little scared to even attempt to groom Astrea, but if this conditioner is a preview of what it will be like, I think we'll be ok! If you want to try Rescue Me! Deep Conditioner - check out the Viva la Dog Spa website. I also loved that I didn't feel like I needed to use a ton of the product on her. I started with just a small dollop in my hand and worked that through, and it was definitely enough to really get all over. Makes me happy to know that the bottle we have will last us through several baths!

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Look how pretty and clean I am!

UPDATE: It's been just over a week since I used the Rescue Me! on Astrea and she STILL FEELS SO SOFT! I just cannot get over how fantastic her coat feels! I'm sure Astrea isn't excited for her next bath, but I can't wait! I have a feeling things are just going to get better and better from here!!

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