My attempt to move from Southern California and create a happy and sustainable urban homestead in North Dakota, with some musings on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.



Thursday, June 26, 2008

13th Place!!!

In the Glamor Shots post I detailed the trials and tribulations of photographing Shaak Ti in all her glory. Well all the time, effort, and nose lickings (from being down at her level) finally paid off.

She finished in 13th place in the Doctors Foster and Smith catalog monthly contest for the month of May. Here's the link to the Doctors Foster and Smith website and you can see 13th place belongs to our wonderful dog!!!!

www.drsfostersmith.com/general.cfm?gid=723#nogo">

So maybe 13th place isn't the greatest, but heck it's a start, possibly to an international modeling career that can bring us in some big big money! Please stay tuned for further developments on our now famous dog.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Family Unit Day

As a people prone to celebrations, the Gluten Free Girlfriend and I have carved out another day to celebrate from whence before there was none. Shaak Ti joined our family a year ago on this day, and given her bouncing around the doggie foster care system (people have so many misconceptions about deaf dogs), we weren't entirely sure when her birthday occurred. Since we weren't sure of the exact date of her birthday, we knew she'd be sad if we didn't somehow have a day of celebration for her. So we created "Family Unit Day", the day we got Shaak Ti and our family unit - yours truly, Gluten Free Girlfriend, Tito the Bad Dog, and Jedi Master Shaak Ti, became a happy family.

Family Unit Day started with an early trip to dog beach on Coronado so the dogs could scamper around, chase birds, and pee on anything and everything. Being that it was still 7:00am, there wasn't much activity on the beach save the lone lifeguard truck that made an appearance and caused us to have to sprint and grab Shaak Ti, and hold her until it left. She enjoys chasing cars/trucks and running in circles around them. Sadly this will probably shorten her life expectancy, but I've accepted this. After an hour of having the beach to ourselves for quiet people and doggie introspection time, we moseyed back home, breakfasted on kibble and eggs & toast respectively.

After breakfast we all had a nice, long family nap and then set about our errands. Our errands really only consisted of taking Gluten Free Girlfriends vehicle into the shop for a new set of tires, lunching, then going to PetSmart for some Family Unit Day presents. Shaak Ti got a new rope toy that's three feet long and essentially too big for her to chew on (she loves a challenge) and Tito got a tiny stuffed frog (he like to exert his dominion over smaller toys). The toys were presented upon our return to the house, and the critters happily flounced around with their new treasures.

OK so Family Unit Day wasn't much more than an excuse to skip work, go to the beach, have lunch out, run some errands, buy a new toy for the dogs, and play with the dogs, but heck, isn't that what life is all about? We're hoping a national public awareness campaign about Family Unit Day will start catching on, starting with the blog and then circling the globe. Though Canada does already have "Family Day" as a national holiday, hmmm..... Now, my next holiday to create will likely involve golf or In N Out burger, but either way will consist of not going to work and being a slacker.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Skunkles the Dog

Just when we had fallen into a nice rhythm of calling Shaak Ti "Lumpy" (she had a weird growth on her neck and is on antibiotics to get rid of it) she had to go and undergo another traumatic event that has caused her to get a new nickname. Now when I say traumatic, I don't mean traumatic for her since every experience so far, even the ones that leave her exhausted and bloody are fun. Even a trip to the vet is fun. When taken to the vet last week to have the lump examined she was so nervous and scared that she was playing and wrestling with another doggy patient in the waiting room. So when I say there was a traumatic event in the household, I usually mean one that caused me and the Gluten Free Girlfriend to jump out of bed at some Gawdawful hour and lose significant amounts of sleep. Yes, sleep loss is traumatic indeed.

Around 4:45 in the morning she gets up and charges, charges out of the bedroom, out the doggie door and goes crashing through some bushes in the yard, barking at full volume. I'm only slightly conscious of the barking as I'm still in the throes of warm sleepy time. It's only when I hear her come back in the doggie door and begin rolling/clunking around on the living room carpet that I become fully awake. And upon hearing the commotion, my first conscious thought is "crap!!!". Now after a late night mouse chasing episode of a few weeks ago, I make the assumption that she's actually somehow managed to catch a mouse, and is now in the living room, playing with the mouse, throwing it back and forth and generally spraying mouse parts all over the living room. In retrospect, that would have been a pretty good alternative.

I spring out of bed and into action, running to the living room hoping to get there before the Gluten Free Girlfriend awakens and finds her precious pooch mangling a mouse carcass in the house. As I get to the hallway and turn into the living room, Shaak Ti is bounding happily towards me, and that's when the smell hits me. Fully hits me. Nutty, a bit garlicy, overwhelming, in your face, in your nostrils skunky goodness. I grab Shaak Ti (now I've got skunky goodness all over me) who thinks this is some sort of cool new game, haul her into the bathroom, and put her in the bath tub. By now Gluten Free Girlfriend is also awake and realizes the situation, though she wasn't fully awake enough to curse about it. Strangely she's surprisingly coherent and effective during these early morning dramas.

The Gluten Free Girlfriend starts bathing Shaak Ti, I grab some tomato soup from the kitchen and bring it to her so she can start bathing her in tomoatoey goodness and hop on the computer to research skunk smell removal. After a bit of looking I find the following formula
- 1 quart hydrogen peroxide
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 1 tablespoon of dish soap
which ended up working very well. You just have to make sure not to get it in the dogs eyes, which was difficult considering she got sprayed right on the head. I scaled down the formula a bit as this would have made a lot of stuff, and brought it in to the bathroom to help in the bathing process.

As Gluten Free Girlfriend repeatedly bathed Shaak Ti, I set to fixing the house, lighting every scented candle we had, setting out bowls of baking soda, opening all the windows, washing the rugs she had rolled on, and putting down carpet cleaner powder. After an hour or so, the house smells terrible (really really terrible), Shaak Ti has had multiple consecutive baths, and it's almost 6:00, time for us to get up anyways. Except for the fact that she's had to be bathed for the last hour, Shaak Ti is almost completely oblivious, and would probably chase that same skunk this minute if she had the opportunity.

My internet research also turned up the following statement from a veterinary website: "In regard to skunk and porcupine encounters, there are two types of dogs. Those who learn the first time, and those who never learn". Sigh. Guess which type of dog I have?

Friday, June 6, 2008

A Birthday Treasure Hunt

This week was Gluten Free Girlfriend's 30th Birthday!!! She took it very well and there was nary a "I'm getting old" outburst to be found in the run up to, or the day of the birthday. The family unit (the two dogs and myself) took it upon ourselves to brainstorm and purchase some gifts worthy of such a milestone birthday. A couple of neat t-shirts, one that publicly proclaimed her love for pancakes, and a DVD were well received, but it was the big gift that necessitated a treasure hunt that was the highlight of the day.

There were a handful of clues, and I busted out my lyrical stylings to create a short rhyming poem for each clue that was uniquely tailored to each member of the family unit. Each member of the family unit plus a special guest (Frederick the Garden Gnome) "contributed" a clue that lead to another clue, that lead to another clue and so on a so forth, until the prize was finally found, neatly hidden in out television stand. The treasure hunt went pretty quickly, as she was keen on several clues and only got slightly sidetracked a couple of times. The prize was a new iPod Touch and was immediately tinkered with even though delicious mud pie ice cream cake was brought out. The iPod will hopefully last many years and always remind the Gluten Free Girlfriend of her 30th birthday and the fun treasure hunt she had to undertake in order to find it.

I also took it upon myself to sit down with a colored pencil and help Shaak Ti and Tito each compose a nice note to the Gluten Free Girlfriend wishing her a happy birthday and continued good fortune and success in the coming year. Shaak Ti was more gracious in her writing and had fun with the process, while Tito could barely be convinced to sign the card and write "Happy Birthday". But well, that's Tito. And to answer your question, yes, yes I've become one of those people who writes notes to their significant other on behalf of their dogs. Sad, but true.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Camp Katie

For the last few months I've actually been working a schedule that resembles a normal working person, gone for most of the day in an office somewhere, typing on a computer and manipulating papers in exchange for hard currency. And the gluten free girlfriend has also been busy and away for long stretches of the day doing her magical doctoral stuff. As such we opted to send Shaak Ti to doggie day care twice a week in order to make sure that she was getting the required amount of exercise, socialization, and play time. Mind you we still run her twice a week, take her to the beach once or twice a week, and she has two daily walks, but unless she's had an hour or so of run around or wrestle with other doggies time, trouble can ensue. It's not that she's bad, it's just simple math. Excess energy = mischievous shenanigans.

Luckily for us Katie (she fostered Shaak Ti and adopted her out to us) also runs a Doggie Day care operation and training facility www.collared-scholar.com and is a co-owner of a facility in downtown San Diego - Metropawliatn Dog - Website - http://www.metropawlitandog.com She charges us well below market rate since she knows Shaak Ti so well, and if we ever need to board her, she has free run of the the house with her other dogs since they're old pals. This may seem like a shameless plug, and indeed it is, we're just so grateful to have an awesome place to send Shaak Ti. So every Tuesday and Thursday we get our little girl all ready to go to "Camp Katie" for the day and our energetic bundle furry, wiggling goodness is miraculously transformed into a tired, sleepy dog when she returns in the afternoon. I don't think that I could ask for a better arrangement.

If you're in the San Diego area and are looking for a dog sitter, or doggie daycare, or even a person to train your pooch, I would highly recommend her. Katie also fosters and adopts out all sorts of dogs, but truly specializes in deaf ones. So if you happen to be looking to adopt a dog, or wouldn't mind if your dog is hearing impaired, please contact her via one of her websites.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Election Day

Today was primary day in San Diego and like a good citizen I exercised my right to vote. Too many people in the world don't have the basic right to have their voice heard and their ballot counted to take for granted the right to vote. Anyone who complains about their elected officials, local laws, or anything that is influenced by politics should vote. My first question to someone in a conversation of that nature is "Did you vote?", and if the answer is anything but an unqualified "sure" or "of course" their right to complain is instantly lost. Like it or not, it the only political process we have, and if you don't participate you forfeit your right to bitch about the results.

So the gluten free girlfriend and I leashed up the dogs and hiked up to our polling place, which is a nice little church not more than half a mile away. The dogs were a big hit at the polling station as the poll workers seemed desperately bored and looking for any excuse to get up and chat, pet a pooch, or otherwise stretch their legs. The dogs even each got an "I voted" sticker to wear, so if anyone asks, yes they participated in the electoral process. Surprisingly I'd trust my dogs to vote in a wiser fashion than 85% of the average folks here in town.

It wasn't until a few minutes ago as I went online that I realized that this was indeed a general election and if no one candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, there's a run off election in November. Arrghhh!! I can't take another 5 months of incessant mailers and signs everywhere. The City Council seat in our district alone (District 7) was contested by two main candidates - Marty Emerald and April Boling, and caused literally four to five pieces of mail per day, every day for the last month. I can only imagine the number of trees that will need to be sacrificed in order to contiunue to pepper us with propaganda. Uggh.