Saturday, March 31, 2012

New Year's Resolution

Guess who broke their new year's resolution again?

Not Badger. His resolution was to destroy at least one toy per month

Not Mushroom. Her resolution was to find a forever home

Crap, it's me. My resolution was to take Badger out for one 30+ minute walk each morning and evening. For the past month, I've been sleeping in while Llamaentity does a quick morning potty walk. And for the past week, I've been staying late at work, so Llamaentity occasionally does the same thing in the evening. It is very tempting to just let the dogs play to tire them out, but walks are better for their training and their socialization. (Not to mention they tend to knock things over in our apartment when they play.)

"I much prefer walks to being bothered by that barbarian Badger"

Does anyone have tips for waking up in the morning?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Badger's Paw

After putting the dogs into their crates for bedtime last night, I heard a little noise that I had hoped to never hear again.
*slurp slurp slurp slurp slurp*
Badger was licking his paw. He tried to feign innocence, but the evidence was clear - his left front paw was a dark red, inflamed color.

"Slurp slurp sl-- Oh hi! I was just getting ready to sleep"

 We had taken him to the vet in January because his paw was red, and he was licking it all the time. The vet tech held down a squirming Badger while the vet shaved the fur between his toes to reveal a small cut, scabbed over, but with the skin around it raw and red from his constant licking. She prescribed us some powder to sprinkle between his toes to stop the itching and, hopefully, the licking. We followed the vet's instructions, and by the time we brought Mushroom home in February, Badger was no longer licking his paw.

So what happened? I have a suspicion that the long walk we took on one of the unseasonably warm days last week either re-aggravated his old injury or caused a new one. Llamaentity tried to look for cuts between Badger's toes, but all that was visible was a sprouting of red, wet fur. We still had a little powder left from January, so we sprinkled some on his paw anyway and sent him to bed.

See the red fur? That's supposed to be white

 I'm not sure if the medicine will even help because his fur has grown back. We may need to take a trip to the vet again to get his paw shaved. And after that - what? Will Badger need to always wear dog boots to protect his delicate little paws? We bought some boots in the winter, but they wouldn't stay on his paws. My cousin suggested RuffWear boots but cautioned that dew claws may interfere with the strap. The local pet store sells disposable rubber boots that I've been wanting to try, but I'm not sure how well they'll hold up when hiking in the woods (or along the side of the road, because we don't have sidewalks once you leave the apartment complex).

Does anyone have suggestions for dog boots that are both durable and don't fall off easily?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

New Toys

Whenever we go to the pet store, it is difficult for us to avoid buying ALL THE THINGS. This time, we went for more dog food, and we came out with a new toy and a bag of treats as well. We also browsed the dog bed selection, but we decided to get a Molly Mutt cover for our old, chewed-up dog bed instead (pics when we get it).

Unlike Badger, Mushroom is allowed to play with "stuffies" because she's not destructive

They always insist on playing with the same toy, no matter how many other toys are out

We went to the grocery store on the way home. Note to self: Don't go grocery shopping on Sundays. The crowds were awful; it was like riding bumper-cars except with shopping carts. But we made it out of there with all our limbs intact and made tacos for dinner!

The best tacos in Massachusetts! (Not because we're amazing cooks, just because Massachusetts lacks decent Mexican restaurants.)

Friday, March 23, 2012

When Worlds Collide

In my last blog post, I wrote about how I don't play as many video games these days (though I would like to). Some of my other interests are basketball, social justice, and of course, dogs. This blog exists at the intersection of the three.

I spent a while thinking how I should say this without upsetting anyone, and I figured I'd just come clean: We're Knicks fans. We also support our local Celtics, my hometown Rockets, and Llamaentity's hometown Suns. But the Knicks hold a special place in our hearts because they're underdogs who stand a chance of overcoming the odds and making it into the playoffs (sorry, Bobcats).

Speaking of dogs, Knicks player Amar'e Stoudemire tweeted a picture of this little guy a few days ago:

Photo credit: Amar'e Stoudemire

This is his 6-year-old, 67-lb bulldog Spudd, who is recovering from pneumonia. Get well soon, Spudd!

Although we originally started following the Knicks because of the meteoric rise of the previously unknown Jeremy Lin, Stoudemire might be my new favorite player. Not only is he a dog owner, he also wore a hoodie prior to tonight's game to bring attention to the death of Trayvon Martin. I actually wrote a blog post about Trayvon, but I ultimately decided against posting it because it was way too depressing, and there are already a lot of informative, respectful pieces out there.

One of the blogs I read to keep up with social justice news is Angry Asian Man. So imagine my surprise when I went to the site and saw a little upside-down pittie face!

Photo credit: Angry Asian Man or maybe Anna John

Apparently this Havi / Maisie lookalike is the canine companion of Anna John, one of the co-founders of the Sepia Mutiny blog, which recently announced its retirement. It's always a pleasant surprise when I find pictures of dogs in unexpected places!

What are some of your non-dog interests?

Video Game Rant: Puppy World

This blog was originally supposed to be a video game blog. I had sworn to myself that I wouldn't let life get in the way of gaming. And yet... The last time I played a non-Facebook computer game was last week. I don't even remember the last time I played the PS3 - we just use it for Netflix now. I play plenty of games on our iPad, though. I have become the dreaded "casual gamer".

We received the iPad as a present from my parents. The first game I downloaded was Puppy World by OMGPOP. It sounds ridiculous, but I had spent months wanting to play that game. It was not all that complicated. You raise puppies, which grow after a certain amount of time, clean them, feed them, pet them, and give them away to kids. Then you start the process over. At first, I thought the puppies were adorable. Then, I grew annoyed at having to check the iPad regularly to see if the puppies were ready. After that, I started to have ideological qualms about the game.


First, why are you giving puppies to children? Puppies are pointy. Puppies require lots of hard work. The parents of the children are nowhere to be seen. Then, one of the children has the nerve to say "You can never have too many puppies!" Um, yeah you can. It's called animal hoarding, and it's terrible for both the person and the animals.

Next, where are you getting all these puppies from? You're basically running a puppy mill. Somewhere in the back, on the other side of that door, you're hiding cages full of dogs that are forced to have litter after litter. And for what? Some technicolor kid that hoards puppies? Why all the focus on purebred dogs, and puppies in particular? The plot is something about needing to save the world from an evil cat overlord. Okay... Assuming that needed to be done at all, why won't older dogs suffice? Why won't mixed breeds suffice?

Finally, not only are you running a puppy mill and marketing your puppies to children, the conditions are deplorable. The puppies get poop on their heads, and you have to bathe them. So you rub a sponge on a poop-smeared puppy and then plop it into the hands of another puppy-hoarding kid. Good luck with that giardia and those hookworms!

I know it's just a game, and it's not even a game that most people play for more than a few days. But, as a game marketed primarily to children, it is really irresponsible in that it glorifies and "cute-ifies" animal cruelty.

Who needs video games when you can gnaw on an antler?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


My experiences while dog-walking seem to be different than that of most pitbull bloggers. When I walk my dogs, people don't jump out of the way, clutching their children tightly. No one lectures me about how dangerous pitbulls are. A few people pick up their tiny dogs, and a few people eye us warily and give us a wide berth, but I think they would do that for anyone. Mostly, people react by smiling, waving, and saying hi (while their children bark at my dogs for some unknown reason).

Maybe I should pick up Mushroom when we pass someone who picks up their tiny, barking dog. Bet that would make them feel silly

Now, I don't think I live in non-dog-judgmental utopia. I think it's because I have stealth pitbulls.

Badger stealthily sneaking a sip of my cream soda
Badger and Mushroom, though they resemble pitbull-type dogs more than any other type of dog, are very mutty and look like they could be any mix of breeds. Badger has a medium-length coat. Mushroom is very small, weighing in at 33 lbs fully grown. If someone asks what breed they are, I'm torn about whether or not to say they're pit mixes. After all, we don't know for sure what they are. On the other hand, they're cute and pretty well-behaved (especially when wearing their Gentle Leaders), so they could potentially be good ambassadogs. I guess it doesn't matter too much, because they're usually strangers who we'll never see again.

It took so many tries to get this picture because Badger kept trying to lick my phone

However, I've recently started looking for a training program and an in-home pet-sitter. I've read that pitbull-type dogs might not be accepted in some places. Do I awkwardly ask if they accept pit mixes because my mutts might be part pitbull? Or do I stick with the breeds listed on their vet records (Cocker Spaniel/Border Collie for Badger and Lab/Terrier for Mushroom) and skip the whole pitbull topic?

Badger's smile would probably give us away

What would you do?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Karma Collars "Lucky Dog" Contest

Please vote for Badger and Mushroom in the Karma Collars "Lucky Dog" contest!

Click to vote for Mushroom the glutton:

Click to vote for Badger the upside-down shark:
If your dogs are participating in the contest, please leave a comment with a link so I can vote for you, too!

Monday, March 19, 2012

How My Dogs Keep Me Healthy

The following is a Toastmasters speech I gave today (pictures mostly unrelated and added to reduce wall-of-text effect):

Fellow Toastmasters and welcome guests, I recently realized that I have crossed the line from being a dog owner to being completely dog-obsessed. It wasn't when I bought Patriots bandanas for my dogs - I justified that because of the Super Bowl. It wasn't when I bought a winter coat for Mushroom - she has short fur and gets cold. It wasn't even when I took my dogs to a birthday party that my friend threw for her dog - I figured my dogs would enjoy playing with the other dogs. The moment I realized my dog-obsession was when my friend handed me a couple of birthday goodie bags for the dogs. I love my dogs, and in return, they've given me a healthy lifestyle by making me go outside, stay home, and spend less money.

Sharing is caring. Not sharing means getting yelled at

The first way my dogs keep me healthy is by making me go outside. When it is below freezing and the wind cuts like an icy knife, my dogs need to be walked. When there is a torrential downpour that creates ankle-deep puddles, my dogs need to be walked. When I would rather sleep in on a Sunday morning, bundled up beneath my blankets, my dogs need to be walked. And then there are the gorgeous, sunny, spring days where I'm itching to go outside, and my dogs, unlike my spouse, are happy to tag along. Our typical walk is down three flights of stairs, plus a half-hour walk, and three flights of stairs back up. It's like a StairMaster, a treadmill, and a two extremely cute personal trainers all rolled into one. I also like to take my dogs on outdoors adventures, such as a hike in the woods, a stroll on the rail trail, or a splash in the pond (followed by a bath). Not only do my dogs force me to go outside, they've inspired in me a love of the outdoors.

The second way my dogs keep me healthy is by making me stay home. Dogs like strict schedules. They like to be walked, fed, and put to bed at the same times every day. I can no longer attend late-night parties, because similar to Cinderella, I need to be home by the stroke of midnight, though I face far smellier consequences than a pumpkin carriage. And if I attempt to go out after their bedtime walk? I'll certainly regret it in the morning, because my furry little alarm clocks will start whining and howling if their breakfast isn't served by 9 o'clock. Weekends used to exhaust me because I jam-packed my social calendar and didn't leave any time to recover from my work week. Now, I haven't become reclusive, but I always have a good excuse to head home early.

Super healthy breakfast of bacon and blueberry pancakes

The third way my dogs keep me healthy is by making me spend less money. This is accomplished by making me have less money after I pay for vet bills, dog food, and my apartment's pet fees. My attempts to trim the fat from my budget have also been successful in trimming the fat from my diet. I rarely buy alcohol any more because it's expensive. I don't eat at restaurants very often because they're expensive. I buy less junk food and TV dinners because they're expensive. I've switched to buying raw ingredients like fresh vegetables and lean meats because they're cheaper. While I would love to say that I cook them for myself, my spouse actually does the cooking because we like our food to be edible. We're now paying less money to eat a healthier diet.

When I was writing this speech, I realized that there was a twist ending. I did not need to have a dog to reap the health benefits of going outside, staying home, or spending less. Anyone can go for daily walks. Anyone can go home early and keep a regular sleep schedule. Anyone can cook their own healthy food. (Some of us might require a little help.) But in my case, my love for my dogs was the motivation I needed to live a healthier lifestyle. And for that, I'll give them few extra treats and belly rubs when I get home.

This belly rub incapacitated Badger for at least 15 minutes

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Garlic Fries

We made these garlic fries for dinner, but we were too busy stuffing our faces to remember to take pictures. So here are pictures of Badger and Mushroom instead:

"Hi, my name is Badger, and I'm not scared of anything, especially not little girls riding scooters."

"Hello. You may call me Mushroom. I find it unreasonable that I'm expected to poop outside in the cold when pooping on the carpet is much more comfortable."

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Party Poopers

Yesterday the four of us went to a birthday party for my friend's 1-year-old Great Dane. This was the first time we transported both dogs in the car together. It was mostly successful, with the exception of the time Mushroom managed to release the seat belt and almost ran charging into the street (luckily, the belt buckle was caught on her harness). After that scare, we made sure to always leash the dogs before opening the door. Between keeping track of two dogs and having frozen hands because we forgot our gloves, I didn't manage to snap any pictures of puppies frolicking. We did see a huge (taller than the Dane!) brindle dog whose owner said it was a Boxer/American Bulldog mix.

My friend even went all out and gave goodie bags to the dogs.

"This is what you do when you don't have kids." - my friend

Here are Badger and Mushroom playing with their new toys:

Om nom nom rope

Shortly after this photo was taken, Badger had already shredded his rope toy, so we swapped in the tennis balls. I had just finished mentioning to Llamaentity how some bloggers' dogs had destroyed tennis balls, and weren't we lucky that Badger had never done anything like that, when we noticed that Badger was oddly quiet (cue ominous music)...

Here is the aftermath:

Guess which toys were Badger's? Also, note the destroyed Kong football

Poor Mushroom. Badger is the reason she can't have nice things.

Has your dog ever destroyed something you didn't even think was destructible?
What are some of your favorite durable dog toys?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Happy Birthday From Badger and Mushroom

Today is my cousin's birthday, so I sent him this picture:

I'm too cheap to buy real party hats

As I was creating this picture, this is what the dogs were doing:

Not fighting!

I never thought this day would come, but they are actually (sort of) getting along! The trick? Oddly enough, antlers. Mushroom has magically gotten over her resource guarding (though we prefer to be on the safe side and keep the high-value squeaky toys away). She didn't mind that Badger basically circled her as she chewed her antler, and after a while, Badger gave up and grabbed the other antler. She did occasionally try to hoard both antlers, but Badger was surprisingly good-natured about it. Hey, if that's what it takes for them to stop roughhousing, it's well worth the money!

Also, I ordered Mascot's reversible puffer jacket from Doggy Loot, and it arrived today. The forecast showed snow for tonight, so I'll post pictures if we get a chance to try it out.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sports + Dogs = Treats

When we took Badger to UMass Lowell's Pucks & Paws night, he was amazingly well-behaved. He walked unfazed through a huge crowd of people. He sniffed politely at the other dogs or ignored them. He listened to our commands and didn't try to pull us up or down the stadium steps. He accepted us putting a bright orange bandana around his neck.

But the one thing that scared terrified him was the thunderous applause from the crowd. So we started giving him treats every time our team scored a goal. At first he was too busy cowering under the seats to take the treat, but he quickly learned that loud scary applause = treat time!

Check out all those two-leggers trying to fetch that flat, black ball!

This has carried over to watching sports at home as well. The dogs get treats when our team scores, which is especially lucrative for them during the basketball season. (Embarrassingly, I praise the dogs as if they were actually the ones playing the games, like "Good three-pointer, Dirk Mushroomski!"*) Badger will actually watch the game while Mushroom prefers to lie down and wait for the treats to appear.
*Bonus points if you know which player this is.

*yawn*... Why don't you watch something important, like the Republican primary debate?

Do your dogs watch the game with you like Badger?
Or are they disinterested like Mushroom?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Vet Recap

Mushroom got her bill of health yesterday! She does have giardia, so it's not a *clean* bill of health, but we got some medicine for that as well. This means she's all set to be officially ours tomorrow! Also, we can start taking her to our vet, which is a much shorter drive.

Mushroom's personal nose warmer

Here's an old photo of Badger at the pond, taken by Llamaentity:

Just looking at this picture makes me smell wet dog

Have a great weekend!