A transplanted Southern Californian living in North Dakota, with some insights on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.



Friday, December 27, 2013

A Gnome-y, Doggie Christmas

Merry Belated Christmas to all of our faithful readers. John is taking the night off so I thought I'd post a few photos of some of our awesome presents.

I have a fairly extensive t-shirt collection, thanks in large part to John's diligence. I got 4 t-shirts this year: an In-N-Out shirt (I still love California and all it has to offer), a Wallace shirt (he looks shockingly like Shadowfax on the shirt), a fluffy (not fat) sheep shirt.
and quite fittingly for this blog, a gnome taxi t-shirt.
All of them are awesome and I look forward to sporting them on a regular basis. I really look forward to the day when I have tenure. Then, I might start wearing them to school...

Also in support of the gnome theme, John's brother and sister-in-law sent me some excellent gnome knee socks - let's count the silent letters there. And, they also sent us a homemade gnome. Here he is resting quietly on our new plant stand.
If you look closely on his bag, she painted a fairly good likeness of Shadowfax (complete with a pink collar).
And finally, possibly one of the most awesome presents ever, I got a dachshund lamp. Not quite the leg lamp from the Christmas Story, but quite close. I new what it was when it arrived, as the box said white dachshund, but I held off until Christmas. I eagerly opened the box.
I was appropriately amazed when it came out.
Some assembly was required, which John assisted with.
And now it has a place of honor on our TV stand - next to the dog toys.
All of us here at Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes hope that you had a fabulous Christmas. More to come soon, including the yearly news letter.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Buoy Found!!!

Last month Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes helped raise awareness on behalf of a UND professor friend of ours who had lost his scientific data-gathering buoy.  See Have You Seen This Buoy? for the full back story.

We're happy to pass along the joyous news (via the Grand Forks Herald) that the buoy has been found.  Granted it's a bit of a bummer that it's current status can best be described as "intact, but stuck in frozen mud along the shoreline".  No word on what, if any, punishment is in store for the buoy for staying out past its curfew without calling and making us worry so much. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sleepy Slumber Time

It's sleepy time here at the homestead.  Pups are snuggled in their slumber balls, covered with cozy blankets, warm and drifting off to dreamland. Sub-zero temperatures outside don't have much of an effect on you when you're as snug as a pug in a rug. 
It was a long day of braving the cold outside, playing tug-of-war, and barking at bunnies from the upstairs window. 
In case you're wondering what pit bulls really look like, this is it.  They're huge sleepy lumps.  They'd rather snuggle than do just about anything else in the world. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

I Have Diseases

Huh?  Well I do have diseases, but that's not what this is about.  This is about Alycia's diseases.  Don't worry, I won't get too graphic or too personal or embarrass Alycia.  Well not much. 

Last winter Alycia was diagnosed with Raynaud's Phenomenon, which is essentially poor circulation in the fingers and toes during the cold months.  This wouldn't be a big deal if we lived in say...San Diego, but here in North Dakota, it gets surprisingly chilly.  She had spent the previous three winters with undiagnosed poor circulation in her fingers and toes and had essentially low grade frostbite for months at a time.  It had to have been painful and uncomfortable and we're both glad that now she has medication to help mitigate the poor circulation. 

Quick tangent - don't worry I'll tie everything together.  Last year Alycia's Dad had separate successive surgeries on both his thumbs and during the months of recovery he was unable to play golf up to his previous high level of performance.  Partly out of need and partly as a joke, he got his surgeon to write (on an official prescription form) "Due to recent medical procedures, please grant Tom Cummings an extra stroke per golf hole and extend to him every possible courtesy on the golf course".  Alycia's Dad is quite proud of this doctors note and shows it off to just about anybody. Alycia quickly realized the importance of having a doctor's note.
Figure A shows arteries in the fingers (digital arteries) with normal blood flow. The inset image shows a cross-section of a digital artery. Figure B shows fingertips that have turned white due to blocked blood flow. Figure C shows narrowed digital arteries, causing blocked blood flow and blue fingertips. The inset image shows a cross-section of a narrowed digital artery.
How Raynaud's Syndrome affects blood flow.
After her diagnosis Alycia spent a few months reminding me how special she was (having a "Phenomenon" and all), then quickly realized that she could play this card to her advantage.  Along with medication to help improve circulation, any and all clothes/shoes/accessories are now also considered a "medical necessity".  She no longer sees a pair of shoes or boots and remarks how cute they are, but rather how well they could help her manage the symptoms of her legitimate medical condition.  Sigh.  This leads to endless derivations of the following exchange:

Alycia - "Look at these SmartWool socks, they sure look warm.  I bet they would really help mitigate the terrible effects of my officially diagnosed condition."
John -  Sigh.

Alycia - "This homespun alpaca yarn would be perfect for me to knit into a nice warm scarf that could alleviate the symptoms of my legitimate medical syndrome."
John -  Sigh.

Alycia - "Oooh, look at these boots, they're cute!!  I mean, I bet they could sure help with my cold feet, which are brought about by a genuine medically diagnosed syndrome and for which I have a doctors note."
John - "Those are pretty expensive."
Alycia - (Sad puppy dog eyes) "But I have diseases" (continued sad face and a sniffle for good measure).
John -  Sigh.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

7 Day Weather Forecast

Here's the 7 day weather forecast for our little corner of Northeast North Dakota, courtesy of the Grand Forks Herald:
Chilly!!!  It's always rough when the high temperature doesn't even get above 0, as it's forecast to do for 4 out of the next 7 days.  And this is just the air temp, with wind chills factored in there are going to be some -30 and -40 degree wind chill evenings.  It will take all of our persuasive powers to convince the pups to go outside and do their business.  I hope you're warm wherever you are.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Assassination of Angel Bear by the Coward Shadowfax the Puppy


Our recent Thanksgiving trip to Cavalier, North Dakota to spend the holiday with Alycia's parents was a relaxing and food filled weekend.  As always we brought along the three pooches to share in the holiday festivities. Tito and Shaak Ti are pretty well behaved and are allowed to mingle in the kitchen and living room, but Shadowfax gets a bit too excited in the free-for-all doggie snacking environment that happens during meal preparation and mealtimes.  So Shadowfax stays behind a baby gate in the hallway where she can see all the action and get pets/treats without the danger of an altercation over a scrap of turkey.

Shadowfax is very well behaved and usually lays in her dog bed behind the baby gate, watching the action. During lunch on Friday I was trapped at the far corner of the table and couldn't see Shadowfax, but I suddenly realized that she had been quiet for several minutes.  Very quiet.  This quiet stretch was immediately followed by some odd thrashing and bonking noises.  Alycia was closest to the hallway and I told her that shenanigans were afoot.  She jumped up and found Shadowfax the puppy in the process of mauling her Mom's beloved Angel Bear, the Beanie Baby.  Not since the demise of Tourist Dog (see A Wake For Tourist Dog) has there been such a wanton, deliberate act of stuffed animal carnage. 

Shadowfax has only mangled two things at Alycia's parents house, a Bible (King James edition) and Angel Bear.  I try to play this off as the puppy having interest in religious matters, but Alycia parents instead see it as a sign of Shadowfax being rasied in a non-religious and immoral manner. 

Alycia brought Angel Bear home and offered to repair him.  I think this might be tough since he no longer has a face, and any repair will leave him with a large, jagged facial scar and may necessitate a name change to Prison Angel Bear, which doesn't quite have the same warm and fuzzy connotation.

We were also only able to recover one of Angel Bears' eyes.  There is probably another eye rattling around somewhere in Shadowfaxs' digestive tract, which should have taken care of itself by now.  Though it will be unsettling when I have to scoop up a poop in the backyard that is starting back at me with a single beady eye, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. 
Shadowfax obviously enjoyed the soft, delicious texture of Angel Bear and seemed quite intent on finishing the job.  She was convinced that Alycia was being extraordinarily cruel by not letting her finish the disemboweling and disassembling process.  Even though he has no eyes and may have a rough time navigating the journey, we're hoping that if repairs don't work, that Angel Bear can spread his wings fly up to stuffed animal heaven. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Deaf Dog Indoor Playtime

It's winter here in North Dakota.  It's been cold for the past few weeks and there's snow on the ground with (possibly much) more on the way this week.  When it gets cold outside, doggie playtime moves indoors and we have to get creative to come up with adequate adventures for the pups.  Luckily sometimes they do the work for us and just wrestle and chase each other. 

So maybe it isn't the most compelling video, but it's been a while since we posted a video of the dogs playing.  I mean...this is Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes after all! 

You may notice in the video that Shaak Ti always jumps over the section of hardwood floor between the two carpets in the living room/dining room.  We became aware a few years ago that this section of floor is actually is hot lava, never to be touched. It would have been nice for the real estate agent to disclose to us that we had hot lava in the house before we bought it, but apparently that's not a mandatory disclosure here in North Dakota.