Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding-The Royal Family and Dogs

I doubtless have a tendency to treat my dogs like royalty.   As evidenced by this picture of Bob on his first birthday:

Click here to view these pictures larger
In addition to my love of my own royal dogs, I am also a big fan of the royal family and England in general.  What I love about England is the centrality of dogs to the culture.   The first dog shows began in England in the 1800s and by the 1900s dog shows where a very popular national pastime.

From the beginning of dog shows the Royal family was very involved in breeding and showing.  One wonderful book that highlights the importance of dogs to the Royal family is:  Of Noble Hounds and Dear Companions.

Note the adorable pug on the cover.  The Duke of York (pictured above) was clearly a man after my own heart to dress his pug in such a charming head kerchief.

  My favorite pictures in this book are those of the royal pugs.
I particularly like this picture Royal Group at Balmoral, 1887 of Basco, a favored pug, shown with  Queen Victoria and members of her family.   

I was also moved by the story of Dash

Queen Victoria's Cavalier King Charles Spaniel whom she owned as a young woman and who likely inspired her life long devotion to dogs.  When Dash died Victoria had this written on his tomb. 

"Here lies 'Dash'
The favorite spaniel of Her Majesty, Queen Victoria,
By whose command this Memorial was erected.
He died on the 20th December 1840, in his 9th year.
His attachment was without selfishness,
His playfulness without malice,
His fidelity without deceit.
Reader, if you would live beloved and die regretted,
profit by the example of 'Dash'."

England's current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, is no less a dog lover then Victoria and spends her time surrounded by her charming Corgis.  Most of her dogs are descended from Susan, a Corgi she was given when she was 18, pictured below in a photo from  Noble Hounds and Dear Companions

HM The Queen with Susan, her corgi

Here is a more recent picture of the Queen with some Corgis from the Daily Mail.  

 Queen Elizabeth

  The paper reports that the Queen currently has 7 Corgis.

I hope that Prince William and Kate continue to uphold the Royal Families devotion to dogs.   Perhaps a puppy would make a good wedding gift!

  The Perfect thing to eat in honor of the Royal Wedding is clearly scones.   Usually I make cream scones  but as they don't keep well, this time I decided to try buttermilk scones from the book 150 Best American Recipes.
            Buttermilk Scones
  • 4 1/2 c flour
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 sticks cold butter, cut in small pieces
  • 1 1/4 c buttermilk (plus a few tablespoons more)
  • 1 egg, beaten with 2 tbsp milk
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl.  Mix flour in food processor and add small pieces of butter and pulse 10 to 12 times.  
  •  Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
  •  Add buttermilk and stir with a fork until dough comes together.   If dough is too dry and a few extra tablespoons of buttermilk.
  • Transfer dough to a flowered surface and pat into two 6 inch rounds.  
  • Cut each round in half and then cut each half in three pie shaped wedges.
  • Transfer wedges to lined baking sheets.
  • Beat 1 egg with 2 tbsp milk to make an egg wash and brush the egg wash on the scones.
  • Bake scones 25 to 30 minutes.
The perfect thing to watch is the 1951 Fred Astaire movie  Royal Wedding which is about a brother and sister dance act from New York who go to London to perform at the same time as Queen Elizabeth's wedding to Prince Phillip.  Here is a clip of a famous dance from the movie.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Animals of Harry Potter

I LOVE the Harry Potter books  and movies (complete obsessive fan, and yes I know I am a grown woman, but everyone needs a bit of magic) so I was very lucky to be able to go the Harry Potter Exhibition at the Discovery Center in Times Square.  The exhibition was pricey (for two adults it cost 65$!), but I still really enjoyed it.  I got to see Ron Weasleys dress robes and sweater and his spello tape fixed  wand and Hagrid's hut.  (If you are a fan of the books or movies you will know what these things are).  

Lately, I have been reading the books again for about the fifth time (I got the  complete set for Christmas, as well as the Harry Potter Book of Film Wizardry ).  I think the hounds enjoy story time (my husband took these pictures) and Baby the cat seems interested in my various Harry Potter knick knacks.

Since I can connect anything to animals and pets, I have decided to make a list, in honor of the exhibition, of 13 important animals and pets in the Harry Potter books.  (There are many more animals in the book).

1) Hedwig-  Harry Potter's snowy owl.   Harry gets the owl as a gift from Hagrid in book one.  He seems to be a fairly low maintenance pet, as are most of the owls.  Sadly, Hedwig is killed by the death eaters in book/movie 7.

2) Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback Dragon-  The namesake for my own precious Norbert.

I had just bought the first movie the weekend we adopted Norbert.  Originally, I was going to name him Hagrid but then I thought the name of Hagrid's pet dragon would be cuter.   In the book Norbert is a pretty destructive pet, almost destroying Hagrid's hut, and our Norbert may have taken a cue from his name sake because he ate our couch and chair a few months after coming to live with us.   In the books a dragon doesn't make a very good pet (not like my perfect Norbert) and Hagrid is forced to send him to live in Romania at a dragon preserve looked after by Ron Weasley brother, Charlie.   Norbert and I got a shock when we read book seven and found out that Norbert is actually a girl, and has been rechristened Norberta!

3) Fang-Hagrid's boar hound.  In the book Fang doesn't appear to be magic, he is just a sweet, drooly hound.   In the movies Fang is portrayed by a Neapolitan Mastiff.  So far Fang has been played by three dogs named Hugo, Monkey and Uno.

4) Fluffy Fluffy.jpg  A three headed dog belonging to Hagrid that guards the Sorcer's (Philosopher's) Stone in book and movie 1.  Fluffy falls asleep if you play him some music.

5) FawkesPhoenix.jpg Fawkes is the Phoenix who lives in Dumbledore's office.  His tail feathers make up the core of the wands of Harry and Lord Voldermort.   Fawkes's tears have magical powers and heal Harry after he is bitten by the Basilisk in the second book.

6) Scabbers-   Scabbers is Ron's pet rat that he gets as hand me down from his brother Percy.  Scabbers is actually Peter Pettrigew a death eater who betrayed Harry's Parents to Lord Voldermort.

7) Crookshanks: Crookshanks4.jpg Hermione's magical cat, who is half Kneazle.  Crookshanks is very clever and discovers that Ron's rat Scabbers is actually the Animagus, Peter Petigrew.   He also helps Harry's godfather Sirius in book three.   In the films Crookshanks is played by a male Persian cat named Crackerjack.

8) Buckbeak (aka Witherwings) Buckbeack.jpeg Is a Hippogriff who belongs to Hagrid.  In the third book Buckbeak is baited into biting Harry's nemesis Draco and is sentenced to death (a victim of breed specific legislation!).   Dumbledore and Harry, Ron, and Hermione help him to escape along with Harry's godfather, Sirius.  After Sirius is killed Buckbeak returns to the school to live with Hagrid under the new name of Witherwings.

9) Errol-Errol 2.jpg Is a grey owl who belongs to the Weasley family.   He is very old and sometimes crashes and makes mistakes during deliveries.

10) Pigwidgeon (Pig)  Is Ron's owl given to him in book three by Sirius Black.   He is a tiny little owl that enjoys playing tricks and is very eager and hyperactive.

11) Thestrals Thestrals.gif  are winged horses that live on the Hogwarts' grounds and pull the carriages.  They are invisible unless you have seen death.  In the books and movies the Thestrals are very loyal and help out the characters in several situations, by allowing them to ride on them.

12) Ron Weasley's Patronus    Ron is my favorite character so I was very happy when in the fifth book it was revealed that his Patronus takes the form of a dog, a Jack Russel terrier.

13) Nagini- Is Lord Voldermort's snake and a Horcrux which means she contains a peace of his soul and has to be destroyed in order to allow Harry to deaft Voldermort.  In the seventh book she is killed by Neville Longbottom.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Puppy Easter

We had fun celebrating Easter here this year.  I made the hounds a basket

It had a bunny ear headband from pet smart in it that Bob didn't seem to mind wearing at all, two neck scrunchies and a Bunny Rabbit hat from All You Need is Pug, two Bonzees boiled wool bones, some treats, and five hard boiled eggs (one for each hound).   The hounds really enjoyed the basket (particularly the treats).

Then we went for a walk in the park

We watched some TV.   The best Easter movie is definitely Easter Parade because it has one of Fred Astaire's best dances in it.   Here is the you tube link

The rest of the movie kind of pales in comparison, but the dance is amazing.

For dinner I made my favorite hard boiled eggs.  I got the recipe from a really cute cookbook Babe' Country Cookbook Babe's Country Cookbook : 80 Complete Meat-Free Recipes from the Farmthat I bought used years ago.

Here is the recipe

Deviled Eggs from Babe's Country Cookbook

6  hard boiled eggs
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp sliced scallions (green onions)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Paprika for garnish

Slice the eggs in half and remove the yolks to a bowl.  Mash them up and add the mayonnaise, scallions, mustard, salt, pepper and stir.  Spoon the filling bag in the eggs and garnish with Paprika.

I also made the layered salad from the wonderful Pioneer Woman website.   It was delicious, and some corn muffins.

For dessert I made white chocolate coconut cream pie from one of my favorite cookbooks Chocolate American Style.   


For the crust
5 ounces (40 cookies) vanilla wafer
cookies, crumbled
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted
butter, melted
1/4 cup (2 ounces) sugar
For the filling
1/2 cup (4 ounces) sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups (16 ounces) heavy cream
1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsweetened
coconut milk
3 extra-large egg yolks
4 ounces white chocolate,
coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) sweetened
shredded coconut, toasted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with the rack in the center position.
To make the crust, place the crumbled cookies in the work bowl of a
food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse until the cookie pieces
are reduced to small crumbs, then add the melted butter and sugar.
Pulse until the butter is evenly dispersed among the crumbs. Press the
crust mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate.
Bake the crust for 18 to 20 minutes, or until it is fragrant and light
brown, and it is slightly firm to the touch. Remove the plate to a wire
rack to cool. Turn off the oven. (The crust can be made up to 2 days
ahead. Cover well with plastic wrap and store at room temperature.)

To make the filling, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a 2-quart, heavy saucepan. Whisk the mixture together, then whisk in 1 cup of the cream and the coconut milk. Add the egg yolks and whisk vigorously to combine. Set the saucepan over medium heat. Whisk constantly, making sure to reach into the corners of the pan, as the mixture thickens
and comes to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and stir or whisk the mixture very well, then return the pan to the heat. Simmer the mixture, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Remove the custard from the heat and
stir in the white chocolate and vanilla. Stir until the chocolate melts. The mixture will be very thick and slightly oily looking. Transfer the mixture
to a large metal bowl, press a piece of plastic wrap onto the top, and refrigerate until cold.
When the custard is cold, beat it with an electric mixer on high speed for
1 minute, until it is smooth. Add the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream
and beat on high speed until the mixture is thick and fluffy like whipped cream. Fold in 1 cup of the toasted coconut. Pour and scrape the filling
into the prepared crust. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/4 cup
toasted coconut. Refrigerate the pie until ready to serve.
The pie can be stored in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 4 days.

For the toasted Coconut

To toast coconut in the oven, spread it on a shallow, rimmed baking sheet and place
it in a preheated 350-degree F oven for 10 minutes. Use a metal spatula to stir the
shreds, then bake for another 5 minutes, or until the coconut is a very light
golden brown.

We should probably start post Easter diets but it was delicious.  I hope everyone else had a wonderful time as well!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day

Earth day is an important day for any dog lover, after all dogs are the ultimate nature lovers.  Anyone who owns a dog is given a close appreciation of nature as they watch their dog revel in the grass or the woods on a morning walk. Even living in the city there are many opportunities for dogs to appreciate nature, as long as their owners make an effort.  My dogs love walking in local parks and taking care trips to beaches or wooded hiking areas.  When we lived in Manhattan we had no car, but we walked them in Central Park regularly.   Their favorite section of the park, the bramble, was pretty wooded.  Here is a picture from google images.

There is a great organization Central Park Paws that I still belong too even after moving from Manhattan to Jersey City.  It advocates for the interests of dog owners and makes sure that there are plenty of wonderful places to take dogs in the park.

Here is my favorite picture of Norbert, taken with his Dad in Central Park about five or 6 years ago.

We plan to drive into the city to take a day trip to Central Park with Norbert and Bob soon, luckily the little guys can get there in the carriers or strollers.

One place my dogs love to walk these days is the Palisades.  It has a small beach area that is very nice.  We went there a few days ago, but unfortunately due to the heavy rain it was a bit difficult to get around.  Here are some pictures

The bottom picture is actually an old picture from a previous visit, but it is so cute I had to include it. 

Since dogs are such nature lovers, I think its important for their human guardians to be as eco-conscious as possible.  I try to do this by buying earth friendly dog supplies.  My current favorite source is the eco-conscious dog store Olive Green Dog, and as a bonus they have free shipping for earth day!  

I also recently read the book Eco Dog.   Its a very cute book with a lot of simple, fun, earth friendly dog projects.   Some are definitely beyond my ability (all of the sewing projects) but the recipes are very simple.   Today, I made the easiest dog cookies from the book.   Here is the recipe

Easy Earth Friendly Dog Biscuits

1 cup wheat germ
2 small jars organic baby food (I used natures best chicken and sweet potato)

Preheat oven to 350.  Stir together all ingredients in a bowl.  Roll dough in small balls and place on greased baking sheet.  Flatten slightly.  Bake 20-25 minutes.

That's it!  You have easy yummy dog cookies.  The hounds really enjoyed them.   The only thing I would do differently next time is double the batch. 

Happy Earth day everyone!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Doggie Dining-Shake Shack

Ping at Shake Shack

I am the Queen of Staycations because I wont go anywhere without my fur kids.   So for the week and a half I have off I will be hanging out in the city with my hounds.   One of the nice things about spring and summer in the city for dog lovers is all of the dog friendly outdoor restaurants.   Today, I took Ping to Shake Shack in Madison Square Park.   Ping traveled on the Path Train in her Pet Trex Doggie Stroller.  Its a nice way to take a larger small dog like  a pug around and pretty comfortable for her.   Shake Shack always has a huge line but it wasn't to bad on a Monday afternoon.   Ping had a great time enjoying her Shake Shack Pooch-ini treat

She also had a good time hanging out with my friend Pat.

Pat took this picture of me and Ping

Shake Shack is a terrific place to take dogs if you can stand the long lines because its very dog friendly and the food is delicious and for the city very inexpensive.  

We are also very excited today because are friends Archie and Melissa at Life is Art..Art is Life featured the littler urban hounds (Tubby, Ping, and Dr. Zira) in their Pug Note sweaters on their blog today.  Melissa makes the best small dog sweaters and sells them in her Etsy shop Pug Notes.

Today we also got accepted into the Pets Blogroll a great place to find some wonderful pet blogs.  We hope all of our friends are enjoying as wonderful a week as we are!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Bob's Birthday Party

Yesterday Bob celebrated his fourth birthday.   Unfortunately the whether was very bad so he didn't get to go on a walk in Palisades ,   but since I  have a week and a half of from work (Spring Vacation) I have promised to take him another day.   Bob's party went well.  He enjoyed his cake:

 I made him Humming bird cupcakes from the recipe on the Cupcake Bake Shop Blog
Hummingbird Cupcakes
makes 24 cupcakes

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
1 8oz can crushed pineapple, with liquid
2 mashed bananas
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1. Mix flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, salt with a whisk in a good sized bowl.
2. Beat eggs.
3. Add oil and vanilla to beaten eggs and mix until somewhat combined.
4. Add egg/oil/vanilla mixture to flour/sugar/baking soda/cinnamon/salt mixture.
5. Mix together pineapple, bananas, pecans until combined.
6. Add to the rest of ingredients and stir to combine.

Bake at 350 degrees for ~25 minutes until golden and a cake tester comes out clean.

This is a people recipe but nothing in it is bad for dogs.   For the dogs I frost them with vanilla yogurt but for people I use the Cream Cheese Icing recipe from the Magnolia Bakery cookbook.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 lb (1 eight oz packages) cream cheese,softened slightly,cut into small pieces
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter,softened slightly,cut into small pieces
1 tsp vanilla extract 

3 cups sifted confectioner's sugar

Beat cream cheese and the butter with mixer until smooth,about 3 minutes.Add the vanilla extract.Gradually add the sugar and beat until well incorporated.

Bob seemed to enjoy his gifts.   

His Dad got him a bag of Elvis dog treats from Bocce's Bakery.   He also got a very cute bow tie collar from Pecan Pie Puppies, a Planet Dog Sol Ball and a  Mini Mr. Frog Toy   Bob's toys came from my absolute favorite online dog shop Olive Green Dog.

Bob had a great birthday.  The only downside was that his sister Ping seems to have hurt her leg.  She has a luxating patella and something must have aggravated it because she is limping. Sadly, we had to miss today's NNJPE 
Easter meetup because she was still not right this morning and without supervision she jumps on and off the furniture, very bad for the knee.   Now she seems to be doing better. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Happy Birthday to Bob-A Saturday Pet Bloggers Hop Post

 Today is the Saturday Pet Bloggers Hop hosted by Two Little Cavaliers, Life with Dogs, and Confessions of Plume.  If you look above you see lots of adorable blogs to follow

 It is also a big day for us:

The baby of the family is a baby no more, Bob celebrates his fourth birthday today.  Time has passed so fast.  Four years ago when we brought him home from his wonderful breeder at Red Brick Bulldogs  he was so small that he almost fit into the palm of my husbands hand.  Our breeder picked Bob out for us after interviewing us and introducing us to her dogs and for me it was love at first sight.  He truly was the cutest puppy ever (here is the photographic evidence)

Bob at 8 weeks old on a bench in central park
Bob in his crate on his first night with us, surrounded by his new toys
I had always wanted a bulldog and driving him home from PA was one of the happiest days in my life.  Here is a picture I took of Bob and his Dad at a rest stop between PA and NYC

Bob and his dad at the rest stop between PA and NYC
We were still living in Manhattan, in the process of moving to our new house in Jersey City, when Bob first came to live with us.   He was a big hit in the city and attracted many admirers.  Here are some pictures we took at an outdoor cafe we used to frequent
Bob and Tubby at cafe Bacio on the Upper East Side of Manhattan
Again at Cafe Baccio
Bob adjusted to our home very well, even amidst all the chaos of moving.  He was a good boy from the get go
Since I made a list for  his brother Tubby's 10th birthday here is a list of four fun facts about Bob.
1) Bob is very smart.  He must not have read Stanley Coren's The Intelligence of Dogs  (the dreadful book rates bulldogs as lowest on the intelligence scale)  because he picks things up very quickly.   Bob knows play dead, shake, spin, jump, high five, go to your place, and crawl.  I am sure he would no many more tricks if I was a better and more diligent trainer.  
2) He hasn't read all of the articles or listened to the media hype about bulldogs being lazy and sickly.   He wrestles with his brother Norbert daily and loves long walks and racing around our small yard.   Of course, he also loves a snooze on the couch.    Bob has also been (knock on wood) very healthy despite the many dire predictions I heard regarding bulldog health.  In my opinion when they are bred responsibly bulldogs can be as healthy and happy as other breeds.  Here is a shot of him running in the snow
Bob running in the snow at Lincoln Park in Jersey City
3) He can be a bit of a scaredy cat.  Bob's a big guy, 60 lbs, with a deep bark he rarely  uses.   Still Bob's not really a tough guy.   The list of things that make him a bit nervous include: plastic bags, boxes, my husbands folding bicycle, and passing buses.   Bob is also afraid of sleeping near the edge of the bed, when he sleeps in our  bed (some nights he stays on the couch) he insists on sleeping squarely in the middle with his bulldog head facing the bottom of the bed and his bulldog bottom facing the top of the bed. 
4) He is a Daddy's boy

Bob swimming with his Dad in my friend Sara's pool in Batavia New York
But even more of a momma's boy
Bob and his me in our Manhattan apartment.
And he LOVES his brother Norbert
Bob and Norbert napping on the living room floor in our house in Jersey City
Over all Bob is a family man
Bob on his third birthday
Bob may be getting older but he will always be our baby.