Monday, January 31, 2011

Positively Pitbull Stories by Oh My Dog

Last week, we Sadie had the pleasure of being featured on Oh My Dog, a blog I've been following since I entered the wide world of pet blogging.  This is our first post/feature/mention on someone else's blog and I was tickled pink when Maggie from Oh My Dog told us that we were to be her very first positively pitbull story.  I'm so proud of my girl!

Click here for the post.

When her story went live on Friday, I sat her down, showed her the laptop and read aloud.  I would like to think that she was as excited as Mom but well, she knows the story and Choco the wonder puppy was so much more cuddly than boring old click, click, type, type machines.

I can't wait to see what precious pup is featured this Friday on Oh My Dog - what a great idea!  Inspiring me to finish up my Passion for Pitbulls page that I've been working on.  Coming soon!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

This Is What It's All About

Remember Josephine and GenaThe lab puppies we had over Christmas?  This week I had the pleasure of getting updates on both of them.  Seeing how they are doing, receiving pictures and updates from new parents.  Now THIS is what it's all about.  I think they call this the Reward part of fostering.  Tastes much better than a biscuit!

I'm right at home!

This past weekend, I heard from Tammy, who adopted Gena.  Tammy's up near Seattle so I got to spend an extra week with Ms. known as that the rescue could spay her before she traveled to her forever home, which was a treat for me. Riley is doing awesome in her new home, progressing well on her basic training and is getting to do lots of cool things like meeting cats and going to puppy classes.  She's obviously a much beloved puppy, surrounded by toys.

The update on Josephine was completely unexpected.  I had stopped in at the rescue to drop off a few extra supplies I had and pick up some more food for Choco.  Out comes a woman holding a black lab.  I ask who this sweet girl is and she tells me Emma, well, she used to be Josephine.  My heart stopped for a nano-second as I thought they might be returning her but the woman wasn't the young woman who was part of the couple adopting her.  Turns out she had her spay surgery that day and Grandma was helping take her home.  She is sooo big!  I didn't have my camera on me to take a picture but she's about 20 lbs now.   I wish I could say she remembered me...maybe she did...or maybe it was just the anesthesia.  Either way, it was a treat getting to see her again - something I never thought would happen.  Her name is now Emma and she too is living large with her new mom & dad.  Dad was there and you could tell he was absolutely in love with her.

So as I inevitably move closer to losing Choco to his forever home, today I feel uplifted and re-energized.  It's not about how much I adore these puppies - it's about finding them all forever homes to love them even more. 

Whole Dog Journal's 2011 Food List is Out!

It's that time of year again!  Each February, Whole Dog Journal (my fave dog-related publication) releases a list of dry foods that they have thoroughly vetted and pass their stringent criteria. I had misplaced last February's copy so when I started my Great Food Experiment with the girls, I was bummed not to have their list to ensure that my selections were also foods that they recommend.   Now it's out, I can compare and am a happy dog owner. 

Unfortunately, you have to subscribe to Whole Dog to get the list of foods but they do offer an online article talking about some of the selection criteria that informed owners may use in selecting their pet's food and how it compares with their criteria.  If you aren't a Whole Dog subscriber, it's one publication that I do recommend and it's only $20 for a year's subscription.  In addition to food recommendations, there are great articles on positive reinforcement training, product reviews, health information and just general good doggie stuff.  I save all of my back copies in a binder (yes, I binder everything) for future reference.  Their monthly journal even comes pre-hole punched.  A company who caters to my tendency to binder...I'm sold!  But enough of my spiel for Whole Dog...

Yippee!  All of the dry kibble foods I have selected for my store (Wellness, Solid Gold, Taste of the Wild, Orijen, Acana, Merrick, and Castor & Pollux) are on the list!  My girls have tried Wellness and Solid Gold so far.  They are still doing superb on the Solid Gold.  Today, I'm switching them up to a different formula of Solid Gold.  I'm going with their MMillenia Beef & Barley formula primarily because they have not had any beef formulas yet as well as wanting to keep them on Solid Gold as the first test to ensure Maggie's now-defunct coat and itchiness problems do not return.  The calorie count is slightly higher than the Hund-n-Flocken (but less than Wellness) so I'll have to keep an eye on Sadie but am not too concerned.  She seems to have gotten back down to ideal weight.  I'll be bringing her in for her weigh-in this week as well so we'll see.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Morning Routine

Hubbie gets up at 6am.  Lets Choco, the wonder foster puppy out, and usually Maggie.  Sadie does not like being the first up in the morning.  It's cold (she thinks 40 is cold, god forbid we ever move somewhere with a real winter) and it's not Mom letting me out (she has this strange attachment to me being the one whom she rudely wakes up welcomes the day with).

Hubbie lets dogs back in, dogs go back to sleep with puppy curled up with them, hubbie leaves.

Before the last sound of hubbie's engine fades, Maggie & Sadie run into bedroom.  Mom, wake up!  Wake up!  We're hungry.  If you couldn't tell we were awake, let's dance on the hardwood floors...clickety clack...clickety clack.  GO LAY DOWN!

Puppy arrives last in bedroom and pathetically tries to climb the bed.  Mom lifts puppy into bed to avoid the onset of crazy play time.  He immediately settles in under the covers and starts snoring. 

Maggie & Sadie spend the next precious last hour of Mom's sleep time checking in every 10 minutes to see if she's ready to get up yet.  Mom ignores them and gets no sleep.  Puppy does not stir.  Mom gives up on last hour of precious sleep time at 2nd check-in. 

I'm up...I'm up....might as well write a blog post.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Choco-dile, Wonder Foster

I knew this day would come.  The day when I seriously considered adopting one of my fosters.  Proud to say that I made it past Foster #1...ashamed that it's only Foster #4.

Maybe it's because he's a pitbull, a breed that I adore and am committed to rescuing.

Is it already time for breakfast? 

Maybe it's because he actually sleeps through the night, doesn't whine when I put him in his x-pen at night, and rarely whines in the morning to wake me up.

Maybe it's because Sadie adores him and he's brought out a playfulness in her that I haven't seen in ages.

It's probably not because he's already started to destroy things around the house.  Or that he has a habit of barking at toys, my girls with toys, bones, etc (which Maggie officially stopped putting up with last night).  Or that every time I take my eyes off him for more than 10 seconds, he has managed to get his hands on a shoe, sock, plant, etc.  But it is probably because none of these things faze me in the slightest.  Our previous foster puppies challenged my patience - he totally understands what I mean when I tell him to leave it, drop it, no, good god puppy where did you get that???  And he runs away from whatever is getting him in trouble now to the next thing that will get him in trouble...with the bounciest, goofiest puppy prance.  I am totally in love!

But strong I stand.  Adopting any foster means no more fostering - 3 dogs is maximum capacity at our house.  It is inevitable, I know.  There will be one that I just can't let go.  But two months in, with a highly adoptable (even if he is a pitbull) puppy?  TJ told me last night to remember the good we are doing - the socialization, the wee bit of training.  To take comfort in knowing that his time with us prepares him to be a better pet to his forever family.  So I cherish the moments I have, know that I will cry like a baby when he goes, and commit to finding him the best home that I can.  Sniff, Sniff.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Truth about my Big Scary Pitbull; Creature Comforts

The truth is that my Big Scary Pitbull is neither that big nor that scary (Sadie asks that you please, please, please do not share this fact with the postmen, UPS drivers or pizza delivery people).  The truth is that she is a spoiled princess.  Sadie feels that she must always have the comfort of a blanket, dog bed or other creature comfort during her frequent napping.  Last night?  Well, while Choco-dile, the Wonder Foster, was napping on the couch with my "Dogs Don't Belong on the Couch" hubbie, Maggie had commandeered the tiny corner of the blanket hanging off the couch.  This left nothing for Sadie but the bare, cold, hard carpet.  I know...practically torture! So she improvised:

Hmmpphh!  Fine!  Basket of clean laundry suits me just fine.

Or when you dare to take the dogs on your honeymoon and forget the dog beds?

I don't care if there are elk in the woods to run after.  Take me home to my bed!

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Food Experiment: Solid Gold

Food #2 in our Great Food Experiment is Solid Gold. The girls have been on it for almost two months now and I'm loathe to continue on to the next food. Why? 'Cause Solid Gold is the miracle I had hardly dared to hope for. Less than one week after switching, Maggie's itchiness virtually disappeared. Well, no not virtually....ACTUALLY. I have seen her scratch herself maybe a handful of times in the past couple months. And this is the dog who compulsively scratched herself each and every time I petted her. Miracle! Her coat, which had started to improve on Wellness, is now lush and soft. Looking at her, I see a dog that is finally comfortable in its own skin and I wonder if we will see a change in some of her leash aggression and behavior problems as well.

Why did I chose Solid Gold for our 2nd food? Many of the reasons were the same as Wellness - commitment to high quality ingredients, whole foods, lack of artificial preservatives and no corn, wheat or soy.

Solid Gold, one may say, is the original all-natural premium dog food. While many of the brands you see in your specialty pet store are relatively new to the marketplace, Solid Gold has been around for decades. It came highly recommended at several pet stores here in Portland and with all the new trends (BARF, anyone?) in dog food, it says something that this old of a brand continues to receive high accolades from shop owners and occupies plenty of their shelf space.

I did find the Wellness website more informative in comparison and wish that Solid Gold displayed their About Us section a bit more prominently, though I did like the section on their Holistic Philosophy.

Web design and content aside, Solid Gold has exceeded my expectations.  Sadie's weight is still looking healthy (I'm crossing my fingers that we'll find those last 5 lbs gone at the next vet weigh in!) and all's normal on the fart/poop front.  It did take them a few days to adjust to the taste - I don't think it was as tasty as Wellness but they adjusted quickly and now dive in (it helps having puppies around to steal food if it's not immediately gobbled up).  

So now what do I do?  I had expected to see some improvement with Maggie.  I had not expected her itchiness to disappear entirely.  I still believe in the benefits of a varied diet but don't want to cause her health issues to reappear.  Part of me wants to give up the food experiment entirely.  If I could nail down one ingredient as the probable cause, I would be able to avoid it in future food selections but no, no common denominators in Wellness and Iams that aren't in Solid Gold.  The only clue I saw was that Solid Gold contained several oils (salmon, almond & sesame) and perhaps those oils are helping her coat?  Who knows.  So I'm going to proceed with caution.  I will try out a different formula in Solid Gold first (they've been on the lamb formula).  If Maggie continues to do well, I will try another brand of food.  However, at the first scratch, back to Solid Gold Hund-n-Flocken we go.

I heart Solid Gold's food names.  I like a company with a bit of creativity!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

My First Rescue Operation

I've been busy the last couple days helping OFOSA intake 45+ dogs from high-kill shelters in CA.  This is about a once monthly deal for the rescue, my first time helping them out and the first time that I felt I could define myself as a dog rescuer.  It was amazing.  Even though I've volunteered in shelters, at adoption events and fostered, these past few days were different.  These dogs were on the brink of euthanasia down in CA and now they are safe!

Seeing the condition that these dogs came in opened my eyes to how terrible conditions must be in those high-kill shelters.  Medical issues go untreated, dogs arrive with little or no paperwork and the rescue scrambles to unload, walk, feed, water, document, vaccinate and care for a great number of dogs in as short of a period of time as possible.  I was assigned to the picture-taking team and helped with all the other tasks, including naming Piper the Pitbull puppy and Wilson the poodle mix.

When all was said and done, over 80 dogs were transported from northern CA.  They spent almost 24 hours in a van the size of an airport shuttle.  OFOSA took in about 45 of them with the rest going to several area shelters, including Columbia County Humane Society and Southwest Washington Humane Society.  About 35 of the dogs we took in were puppies and after seeing that they only had foster families lined up for a small fraction of those dogs, I was worrying about whether I could stick with our decision to take a few weeks off from fostering...and our decision to try out a couple adult dogs next.  It doesn't take much to forget about sleepless puppy nights.  Especially when you have this guy needing a home.  Meet Choco, our newest foster. He's a 4-5 month old Pitbull and Sadie's new BFF. I love Love LOVE the freckles on his nose!

I didn't even have to finish the question when I asked TJ if we could take him in.  Didn't even need to fully explain why our home was needed.  One look at my face and he said yes without hesitation.  I have the best hubbie in the world!

Blog the Change

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Brazilian Black Bean Stew aka Feijoada

And just when I had all of you thinking I only blog about dogs... I will call this the wifey subject matter of my blog.  You know...dogs, wife, business owner. Because my hubbie loves to eat and I love to cook.  I especially love cooking things that on paper he would hate and ends up loving.  This is one of those recipes.

I've always been one to experiment with cooking and when my good friend Julie, of Julie vs Vegetables fame, asked me for a good recipe using artichokes,  I got a burst of inspiration.  You see...the very bestest thing I cook in the world is risotto and risotto is where I learned to experiment.  Wanting to challenge Julie (which in turn would provide a hilarious JVV blog post), Choose Your Own Adventure Cooking was born (copyright pending, yo! don't be stealing my ideas).

Today's Choose Your Own recipe is Brazilian Black Bean Stew (aka Feijoada).  I used this recipe on as my basis and altered from there.

Prep Time:  Several hours - you can slow cook this recipe for 6-8 hours or simmer on the stove for just a few.  Your first choice.


The Feijoada Regulars
1 T olive oil
1 Onion, chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 red, green, yellow or orange pepper, chopped.  I would usually use a green pepper which I think is most authentic and tastiest in these kinds of stews, but alas, TJ Hates-with-a-capital-H green peppers so I went red.
1 bag dried black beans (soak overnight) OR 3 cans of black beans.  One of the things I have never mastered is making a good soup from dried beans.  I can soak 'em for 2 days and simmer for 8 hours and those suckers never. soften. up.  By all accounts, using dried beans gives the stew a fuller, more authentic flavor.  I still use canned.  Your choice.
2 Bay Leaves (some recipes say to crush them but I prefer to remove my bay leaves after cooking so I left 'em whole)
1/4 t coriander
Salt & Pepper to taste

The Choose Your Own Part

Likin' it Spicy

1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (why do recipes always specify that jalapeno's should be seeded but not bell peppers?  I have no it...I got a recipe to write.) 
1 t chipotle or adobo powder. 

Requisite Meat

No Feijoada recipe is complete without the pork.  It can be done, veggie just won't be as good.  The meat shows up in the Choose Your Own section due to all the choices.  When all's said and done, you need 3-4 cups of meat.  Select at least two from the following:

Diced Pre-cooked Ham
Cooked Bacon, reserve bacon grease after cooking
Diced Sausage - more choices here, I debated a good andoiulle or chorizo but settled on mango & jalapeno chicken sausage. I avoid sodium nitrate as much as possible and there are a few good chicken sausage options at the grocery store sans nitrates.
Ham Hocks (either cooked with the dried black beans or pre-slow cooked to achieve a nice pulled action)

These can be added regardless of your spicy additions or meat selection.

2 Mangoes, peeled and chopped (many variations call for only 1 mango but I always find that I don't get as much fruit out of 1 mango as I would like so I say 2)
Fresh cilantro, for garnish
Fresh parsley, for garnish
Sour Cream, for garnish

The Assembly

Heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add garlic, onions & peppers (including jalapeno if you chose to spice it up).  Saute for about 3 minutes or until onion is soft, stirring occasionally so as not to burn the garlic.

Dry Beans ~ add with the water they were soaking in and additional water if needed until water is several inches above beans.  Add ham hocks, if using.  Bring to boil and reduce heat.  Simmer for several hours, or until beans are mostly tender.  Remove ham hocks and pull meat off bone, if using.
Canned Beans ~ Drain, rinse and add to pot with water to cover.

Add bay leaves, coriander, salt, pepper and chipotle/adobo, if spicing it up.

As stew is a-stewing, saute meats.  If you are using bacon, saute in reserved bacon grease...mmmm...bacon.  If not, use 1 T olive oil.  Saute for 5 minutes or until well-browned.  Add meats to stew.

Simmer for a couple hours.  Add mango about five minutes before removing from heat to soften and infuse the stew with the sweet flavor.

Serve over rice (authentic) or corn/tortilla chips (what my hubbie prefers) and garnish as desired.

Bon Appetit!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Great Debates: Allowing Dogs on the Furniture

TJ asked me this weekend - "When should we stop letting the foster puppy on the couch?"  It's a question we had to cover ourselves with Maggie back in the day.  And I honestly don't remember when exactly we stopped allowing her to cuddle on the couch with us but I'm pretty sure it happened when she both started demanding to be allowed up and was able to jump up herself.

When puppies are tiny babies, they often end up snuggled on your chest as you try to get just a few more winks in before starting your day.  After all, you've been up all night with them, right? Which turns into the puppy being lifted onto your lap every time its activity level starts to wind down and is ready for a nap.  Pretty soon, the puppy starts demanding to be allowed up.  This happened in my house this morning.  I was checking email, FB, the usual morning routine.  Gena hasn't figured out how to jump up on the couch yet so she placed her front paws up and barked.  And barked.  And bark-growled.  And barked again.  I think it's time to stop allowing the puppy on the couch, TJ.

To let the dogs up on the furniture or not?  It's a question that each new pet parent has to ask themselves and one for which there are two distinctly strong opinions in my own home.  For several years, I agreed to my husband's no dogs on the furniture rule.  I occasionally broke said rule, much to the consternation of my husband.  You are causing behavior issues with them, confusing them.  To which I replied, It gives us the opportunity for more advanced training.  Teaching them to ask permission, which pieces of furniture are strictly off-limits and which they can ask to come up.  Allows us to utilize cuddling with us on the furniture as a reward.  But when Maggie's incontinence problem started to rear its ugly head, keeping them off the furniture was a necessity.  So for several years, they were only occasionally allowed up on the bed for a quick nap.  I never allowed Maggie to be up for very long due to her pee issues.  But now that those medical issues are firmly under control and accidents are but a memory of the past, we are back to having differing positions on the issue of our girls and our furniture. 

Bottom line?  This is a personal decision for any doggie parent.  There's no right answer and used properly, can strengthen bonds and become an avenue for training and reward (in my opinion).  I will respect TJ's position when it comes to the couch...which I must admit I did break with the fosters - at 3am, it was nice to have Maggie agree to amuse the puppy and give me some sleep if I allowed them to cuddle & play on the couch.  She is very talented at this type of negotiation.  But when I'm blog-writing in bed, watching a movie or TJ is out of town, the dogs may be allowed up on the bed with me.  The key here is that it's not an always.  Generally, if he's out of town for a couple days, I'll allow them to sleep with me some of the nights but not all.  When they start to demand it or Sadie "misunderstands" me talking to her as permission to jump aboard, they get the reward less often.  I make them sit politely before asking them to come up.  In the event that they jump up without my permission, I make them get off immediately.  Sometimes, I allow access after proper permission-seeking behavior.  Sometimes, I tell them to go lay down on their own beds.  I hope to someday convince TJ that it won't be the end of the world, the beginning of major behavior issues and the destruction of all of our belongings to allow them this reward.   But I have a feeling this is an area where we will continue to agree to disagree and compromise somewhere in the couch...sometimes, and sparingly, bed access. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Food Experiment: Wellness

We're several months into the Great Food Experiment of 2010/2011.  To recap, I am searching out a handful of high quality foods to give my pups variety, help Sadie lose those last 5 pesky lbs and most importantly, to reduce Maggie's allergy/itchiness problems. 

First on the list was the Wellness brand.  I selected Wellness for a variety of reasons:

 - They are a popular brand in small, independent pet stores in the Portland area.  While the availability of a food is not one of my criteria, I have faith in the dog community here in Portland.  It's one that promotes high quality, holistic, grain-free and raw diets so I trust what's on the shelves of several highly respected small specialty stores here.

- I love the fact that they have an extensive line of foods.  In addition to their "regular" formulas (which are the only ones I tried with my girls), they have grain-free, allergy and canned formulas.

 - The quality of information on their website.  You can tell a lot regarding the quality of a pet food from the level of transparency on their website.  I look for a couple things.
      First, a full list of product ingredients.
      Second, a nutritional analysis that includes more than what is simply required - Wellness posts the caloric content of their food, which is usually information that is more difficult to get your hands on.
     Third, the quality of the About Us section and how easily it can be found is the first thing I look at when researching a new product.  I want to know who I'm buying from and what their philosophy/mission is.

-They give back through their Wellness Foundation and most of that giving back is to local organizations.  It's icing on the cake when I find products made by companies who believe in social responsibility.  I do wish there were more specific details in this section but it's definitely a start!

- They use many whole food ingredients and their formulas are free from artificial preservatives, corn, wheat, soy and animal by-products.

But the #1 reason I selected Wellness first was the Ingredients Dictionary page of their website.  They describe each ingredient and its purpose in their formulas.  This. Is. Seriously. Awesome!  I don't know about you but I pretty much understand the first five or so ingredients and then the list tends to lose me.  No, I have no idea what Cassia Gum is or what it is used for.  Thank you Wellness!  I feel like a much more empowered consumer and can utilize the information they provide on their website in analyzing the contents of other kinds of dog food.

So that's why I chose Wellness.  We started out with a few bags of the Complete Health Lamb, Barley & Salmon recipe then switched to the Whitefish & Sweet Potato recipe.  The girls were on Wellness for about 2 1/2 months.  (I changed the rules here - initially, it was going to be one new food per month but I think it takes longer than a month to see how they are truly doing on it so we go through at least two bags of one brand or at least 2 months)

Sadie seemed to lose a bit of weight.  I haven't weighed her yet - we'll do that later this month when I have to pick up Maggie's prescription from the vet.  But I'm starting to see her sides come in at the hip again - decreasing the sausage effect.

I do want to point out that the change in food occurred right before I quit working for the man.  Now that I'm home all day, she's a bit more active than before simply by following me around.  She gets more walks now that I'm not working 60-80 hours per week.  I can't with 100% confidence say that it was the change in food that caused the perceived weight loss.  But I can say that either way, she is happy and looks healthier!  Her farts did get a bit stinky at first but settled down after a few weeks on the new food (thank god - the LAST thing I need is stinky Sadie farts - they are truly the most awful.  Ever.)  And she has completely stopped the food bag guarding habit.  As cute as that was, it always worried me a bit that she would forsake all interaction with her family to sit by a bag of food.  I won't be missing that habit one bit.  Though getting her head stuck in the Iams bag was always a good laugh.

Maggie's coat saw some pretty immediate benefits.  Within a week or two, I noticed that it was significantly softer and shinier.  However, I can't say that it helped with her itchiness.  I didn't notice any change in her scratching and the scratching actually increased when I switched her to the Whitefish formula (only for the first week or so, then it calmed back down).  I am keeping a list of everything she gets through this process and hopefully, a pattern will emerge and I can identify the problem ingredients.  Keepin' my fingers crossed on that one!

All in all, I was really happy with Wellness.  This is a brand I will be carrying in my store and I commend them for their commitment to quality and transparency with their customers.   I'd like to try their allergy (Core) formulas later in the Great Food Experiment to see if a smaller list of ingredients and single protein sources may help Maggie.  Even though they weren't the miracle solution to her allergies with their regular formulas, I did see noticeable improvements in Sadie's weight and Maggie's coat.

Did I mention they have a section of their website devoted to defining their ingredients?  Seriously awesome, folks!

PS - No, I did not receive any free products or compensation for this postie post.  It's just me, trying to do best by my dogs and sharing it all with you :)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Years Goals

I'm usually not a person to set New Years resolutions.  Mostly because past resolutions have involved losing the 10 lbs I've gained since college.  Around each February, I manage to convince myself that gaining only 10 lbs is pretty damn good for a decade of good eating and drinking and, since I've maintained that weight for the last 5 years, that resolution to work out more takes a back seat to my busy life.  So I'd much rather set goals.  Set my target and implement a strategy to achieve it.  For some reason, resolutions and goals seem very different beasts to me.  Probably because I've never successfully kept a resolution but I'm pretty good about reaching my goals.

So here are my goals for 2011:

1.  Open up NoPo Paws.  With my business plan done, products and vendors sourced and the search for funding well under way, I am confident 2011 is THE YEAR for NoPo Paws.  Stay tuned as I get closer to my goal!

2.  Learn some web stuff so that my blog can be all that it can be.  Already ordered a couple books on the subject.  My strategy will be to identify cool stuff I find on other blogs that I'd like to use on mine.    The good news here is that there are so many resources on the web to help first-time bloggers like myself.  If you're an old blog pro, let me know what you found to help you on your way.  I'd sure appreciate it!

3.  Start to share the cool products I've found for my awesome new store with you - I have been thrilled to find responsible companies, products and artisans all committed to preserving our planet and saving animals.  I knew they were out there and it's been a bit easier sourcing products for my store than I expected.  I look forward to sharing my "finds" with all of you.

4.  Teach my girls some new tricks.  I've toyed around with getting some basic agility gear for our backyard.  When we took Maggie to her behavior class last year, she surprisingly took to the jumps.  It would be a great way to strengthen the bond I have with them, challenge them and give them exercise.  Perhaps a certain someone will treat me on my birthday to a basic set...hint! hint!

I think those four goals will keep me active and busy enough that there's no need for silly losing weight, getting in shape resolutions.  I hope 2011 is as exciting and fruitful for all of you as I know it will be for me! 

Puppy Fever

Two puppies will be easier...they play together...comfort each other at night...less crying and whining.  That's what they told me at the rescue so I plucked two puppies up and took them home.  "They" were wrong.  Two puppies are exponentially more evil active.  This is how things go in the Fullone Home:

Gena wakes up from her nap first.  I can usually distract her from biting me with a bone, Sadie, or the myriad other toys.  For about 5 seconds.  Then Maggie clues in to the puppy being awake and gets psyched for her favorite new game - Steal the Toy.  It goes something like this. 

Puppy bites the crap out of Mommy...Mommy grabs nearest toy in desperate attempt to distract the puppy from the yumminess of her socks and waves toy in front of puppy's mouth.  Puppy takes the bait and pounces on the new toy.  Maggie, who has been lurking over the puppy the entire time, promptly snatches toy from puppy's mouth...Puppy returns to biting, tugging, pulling and otherwise terrorizing Mom.  Repeat. It's a really awesome game.  The game can be fun for all which I mean me...until JoJo wakes up.  Then it becomes a circus and I'm pretty sure I've been cast as the clown.  When two puppies are involved, Steal the Toy becomes a juggling match.  Juggling to keep a toy in all 3 dogs' mouths while keeping myself, my clothes and especially my toes out of the reach of sharp puppy teeth.  Like I said, a truly awesome game.

But then moments like this happen.  When the pups tire of Steal the Toy game, they curl up on the nearest body...most times this is my lap but sometimes Sadie gets the tired puppy action too.  She loves it.  So does Maggie.  I mean, who doesn't love puppies when they're all tired and snuggly??

TJ has been spectacular with the two puppy thing.  I kind of forgot to officially clear the more than one foster dog scenario with him but he takes a few nights with them to give me sleep and sometimes naps with them himself.

It hasn't been all fun torment Mom games...the puppies have been busy growing - they've nearly doubled in size in the two weeks we've had them.  They can now successfully navigate the stairs though Gena usually demands requests a little help going down them.  They are starting to learn not to bite hard on flesh though all bets are off when said flesh is covered by yummy socks or sweaters.  And Gena is starting to signal when she needs to go potty by whining at the bottom of the stairs.  But JoJo has her beat - she actually tackles the stairs and does her whining at the back door. once in five accidents.  Hey, that's progress!

Puppies are definitely going to stay in the foster rotation.  Even with all the work they are, there is still nothing sweeter than puppy cuddling.  They were a good way to enter the world of fostering and I've enjoyed seeing them grow and start to develop their personalities.  But I'm looking forward to helping a less adoptable adult dog next time around.  Just need to get these rambunctious sweeties adopted out first!