Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Book Review-A Girl's Best Friend

Today, is the first day of Women's History Month in the USA and it is also World Book Day   in the UK.   So its the perfect day for a dog blogger to read a book about women and dogs.  These days everyone knows the phrase "man's best friend" needs to be changed to "person's best friend", or some other non-gender specific label.  After all, 87% of female pet owners consider their dogs and cats their family (I can't imagine what the heck is wrong with the other 13%!) and women make up 78% of the students in Veterinary Schools. 

There are scores of books about women and their dogs, look it up on Amazon and it will make you dizzy!  As a known pet lover I am frequent recipient of dog and cat books.  A few years ago I was gifted this little book  




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A Girl's Best Friend  byJoanna Sandsmark.   The book has lots of cute vintage photos and illustrations which is right up my alley.

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 The author is clearly in favor of spoiling dogs.  Ping  was particularly impressed with this line refering to a canine companion: "Indulge her.  If she starts to put on a little more weight walk her more often."   
"Mom it says in here you should give me more treats!"

There are also anecdotes about famous dog lovers like Queen Victoria, movie dogs like Rin-Tin-Tin, and stories about heroic or particularly caring dogs.  Such as one about a Chihuahua owned by a pregnant women.  According to the book the chihuahua observed his human was extra hungry due to her expectant condition and after watching her wake up repeatedly in the night to get a snack, he took to fetching a dog treat and placing it under her pillow.   



The book  has sections on small, medium, large, and sporting dogs with pictures and illustrations.  The book repeatedly discusses how your dog reflects your personality, I wonder how all five of my dogs reflect mine?  (I guess I have multiple personality disorder or am simply crazy)

With a brief entry on "the new single mother" and lots of advice to spoil your dog, the book is very pro "dog as your baby."  My husband and I have decided not to have children for various reasons and I admit fully that we call the dogs (and cats) our  babies, but I don't like dogs to be put forth as baby substitutes, even in a cutesy book like this.   Dogs deserve better then to be seen as a replacement for something that is missing, whether a child or a romantic partner.   After all, it may be the dog as baby substitute attitude that leads so many pet owners to abandon  their dog when they have a human baby.  Which is really sad since dogs and babies can go together so well.  Just take a look at this adorable video






Overall the book is pretty cute and we would recommend it as a cutesy coffee table accoutrement, especially since you can get it for 40 cents on Amazon!




Leap Year!

In honor of leap year:  Flash back photos of our Norbert leaping away.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Banana Bread for the Peeps

On Saturday I posted a recipe for pooch friendly Banana Bread but people have to eat to and there where sill a lot of bananas.   So I made some tropical banana bread for myself (and the hounds' dad of course).   This bread is based on a recipe from the Kona Inn in Hawaii.  So why I may never get to Hawaii, too much money for doggie hotels, I can at least enjoy the flavors of this banan bread.   By the way if you are a dog owner interested in arm chair travel, like I am, the BBC documentary series Steven Fry's America is very good I am addicted and its available for instant viewing on netflix.

Tropical Banana Bread



1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup sugar
3 mashed bananas
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped (I used roasted and salted)

Preheat oven to 350 and line a loaf pan with baking parchment paper.

Stir the flor and salt and baking soda together in a small bowl and set aside.   Beat the shortening and sugar in an electric mixer until fluffy, then beat in the bananas and eggs.   Add the flour mixture and stir just until well blended, do not over mix.  Fold in the nuts. 

Bake one hour until a tester comes out clean.  Serve with marmalade.


Note: Make sure you never give anything with Macadamia Nuts to Your Furry Friends, they are highly toxic to dogs.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Mischief-Good Morning

Bob always sleeps wedged between me and his dad.   Nearly every morning I wake up to this:

or this!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

City Critters-Whiskers Holistic Pet Care

As long time urbanites residing a mere 30 minutes from Manhattan we literally have The Big Apple, and all it has to offer, at our feet.


So, we've decided to start a new feature on our blog: City Critters.   We will highlight some of our favorite dog friendly stores and spots in NYC.  Maybe if some of you live in the area or decide to visit the big city you will want to check 'em out.

The first place we want to highlight is Whiskers Holistic Pet Products.

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Whiskers was founded in 1988 before  Holistic pet care was de rigeur. Located in the East Village its a very helpful, and for the area, large pet store carrying tons of natural pet products.

The best thing about Whiskers is the personal attention.  These days you can buy natural pet products of every variety on-line, and I often do, but at Whiskers the staff will listen to your pets problems and offer you advice.  If you live outside of the city they also offer consultations.  The owner of the store Phil Klein referred to as the "dog father" in this article, from The Village Beat, is always willing to talk to and advice pet lovers.

Whiskers also offers cat adoptions and they have a large and comfortable cat kennel 
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and walls festooned with dog adoption fliers.

Whiskers also offers its own line of liquid herbal formulas.  I recently purchased Whiskers Own Crystals Away to help Norbert deal with his Struvite Crystals. 

 They must be doing something right because as you can read in this article
from the New York Times Phil and Randy Klein have two 25 year old cats!  An inspiration for any pet owner.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Happy Belated Banana Bread Day-Banana Bread for Dogs

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Plenty of us know that a lot of people foods are beneficial to our canine companions.  In fact fresh raw or cooked foods are a lot healthier then the over-processed kibbles on the market.   The healthiest option for pet guardians is to serve raw or cooked foods, but its not always the most practical option.  First off, its a lot of work to make sure a home-made diet meets all of your dogs nutritional needs and the preparation and storage is not necessarily a snap, particularly for those of us with big dogs or multiple dogs, or both! A good compromise, and the method we use in our home, is to supplement quality kibbles with home cooked food and treats and other healthy add ons.  One food I regularly give the hounds is bananas.  The dogs love them, they are high in fiber, and they help alleviate stress (a banana before a trip to the vet may be a good idea).  Our friend Bunk has a great post on the benefits of bananas here.


So why all the talk of bananas?  Because Thursday February 23 was National Banana Bread Day.   I bought a big bunch of bananas and planned to make the hounds some tasty dog friendly Banana bread in honor of the day, but come Thursday I was feeling staycation lazy and the bananas where still not quite ripe enough.  So I put it off until this morning.   I decided to use coconut flour since its wheat free and high in protein, the one draw back is it's pricey!  Luckily my babies are well worth it.   The only other changes I made to a human friendly banana bread recipe where to replace sugar with molasses, add peanut butter, and use dog treats in place of nuts.   

Banana Bread for Dogs


1 1/3 cup Coconut Flour 
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup molasses, preferably Black Strap Molasses 
1/4 cup canola oil
2 heaping tbsp. of peanut butter
2 eggs beaten
3 mashed ripe bananas
1/4 cup of broken up high quality dog treats, I used  Plato Duck Strips


Preheat the oven to 350.   Spray a loaf pan or an 8 x 8 inch cake pan with non-stick spray.  Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a small bowl.   In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the wet ingredients and the bananas together.    Stir in the flour mixture and fold in the treats.   Pour in the pan and bake half hour to 45 minutes, watch closely!  I burned mine but then the dogs didn't mind one plus of cooking for hounds vs. humans, all your efforts are appreciated!


"Hey Ma, Gimme  Some!"


Friday, February 24, 2012

Norbert and the Struvite Crystalline Entity





Poor Norbert, his urinalysus did not go as well as his blood test and unfortunately he is now facinga Crystaline Entity, or more specifically Struvite Crystals.  (If you are a Star Trek fan you will get 

the reference to the Crystalline Entity,

http://images.wikia.com/memoryalpha/en/images/e/e0/Crystalline_entity-enterprise_d.jpg


otherwise just bear with me at times like this it cheers me up to mention one of my favorite shows.  Anyway, back to Earth and the 21st century.  Norbert's problem is that he has Struvite Crystals in his urine.  The good news is this may mean nothing, up to 40% of dogs have these crystals with no problems, also Norbert's kidney's are functioning perfectly.  The bad news is that he may have a bladder infection and/or bladder stones.   So this means more tests, a urine culture and an X-Ray.  So send some good Ju-Ju Norbert's way to help him defeat these nasty crystals,  just like they did on Star Trek!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Book Review-Travels with Charley


"A dog is a bond between strangers."
John Steinbeck


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Today marks the birthday of famed author John Steinbeck (February 27, 1902-December 20, 1968) creator of three of my favorite novels East of Eden, 
The Red Pony, and Of Mice and Men.    Steinbeck also wrote another lesser known book, Travels with Charley, which somehow I never got around to reading.   Since the book is a dog lover classic I decided it was past time I read it.   

 The book details a 1960 road trip that Steinbeck took with his beloved poodle, Charley.  He was in ill health at the time, suffering from a serious heart condition, and decided he need to make the trip so he could see America, perhaps for the last time.  Charley too, is older, at ten years old Steinbeck refers to him as "an older gentleman."  Though still clearly in robust shape and able to enjoy the adventure, he suffers some health problems along the journey.  Reading one definitely gets the sense that the trip is the last hurrah of two old men.

Charley and Steinbeck travel 10,000 miles from Long, Island NY through Maine, The Pacific Northwest, California, Texas, and the South.   They make the voyage in their camper which Steinbeck calls Rocinante after Don Quixote's horse.   

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 Along the way they stops to talk to a variety of people meant to represent a cross section of "ordinary" Americans.  Steinbeck is always somewhat of a chauvinistic author and nearly everyone he speaks to is a man.   His political opinions and perspective are also clear in the text.  Steinbeck crafts a very harsh portrait of a Canadian border official highlighting the man's pompous devotion to protocol and romanticizes the freedom of a family of migrant workers.    In some cases he seems to admire advances in technology,  for example he marvels over mobile homes which were evidently a new thing in 1960.  Steinbeck seems to relish the freedom they provide their owners.   On the other hand he is baffled by the various food dispensing machines he encounters in rest stops and mourns for the lost art of home cooking and the sort of food he enjoyed years ago in Europe.

Of course I was more interested in Steinbeck's relationship with Charley then his descriptions of the people and the country side.  Its clear he adores his dog and admires his intelligence, regularly assigning to Charley human levels of understanding.    Steinbeck's conversations with Charley are used as a literacy device to express his feelings about what he sees on the trip and his understanding of America.   He also uses Charlie to reach out to people around him, regularly commenting on Charley's friendliness and ability to make people comfortable.   The encounter with the migrant workers that Steinbeck so admires is prompted by Charley.   Steinbeck's flares of temper at officious bureaucrats are nearly all the result of their attempts to stop Charley from doing something, such as when the Canadian Border guard does not want to let Charley across the border because he doesn't have his rabies certificate.


In all the book is rather dated, it simply does not stand the test of time as well as Steinbeck's novels and today seems to exist mostly as a relic of a lost period in American history.   The writing too, though good enough, is not on-par with his other works.   Still for a dog lover it is a nice story and certainly motivation to take your own dog on a journey, whether around the country or to the local park.  Here are my own little Charley's preparing for a trip in their "Rocinante" or more accurately our Honda.


Tubby the Goof


A bath nearly always has Tubby feeling his oats and reclaiming his lost youth with a romp and a play session.  Here he is after today's bath playing with one of his toys, in the ridiculous butt up position he favors.  




Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Stamp Collectors

Late at night and scouring E-bay I made a recent snap purchase  a  vintage Golden Book of Dog Stamps 
 
for a whomping four bucks.   The book is very cute and though not in the best condition a long-ago child lovingly pasted the stamps on each page.

There is a whole section on the pug:

 It is quite interesting




 The bulldog is also represented (though sadly not the Brussels Griffon)


The best part of all is that the last page of the book praises the "mongrel dog" or just plain dog as the text calls him (or her)




My sweet Norbert, who as the text says is "nothing in particular, but everything" to me
I find it so touching that this child's book praised the "just plain" dog, likely owned by many of its young readers, along with his pure bred brethren.  I have placed the book in my vintage book display in my living room and there I plan to keep it!






Tuesday, February 21, 2012

P is for Pancake

Today is Shrove Tuesday, also known as Pancake day.  The day traditionally precedes ash Wednesday and the idea is that house wives would make pancakes in order to use up all the butter, flour, sugar, and eggs that the Church forbids them during lent.






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In England, there is even a tradition of pancake races, reaching all the way back to the 12th century.   Participants race with their skillets, flipping their pancakes as they go, in honor of a house wife who legend has it was so busy making pancakes that she was late for church.  She raced to the chapel with her frying pan in her hand.

Well we aren't the type to pass up a holiday here, and certainly not a holiday focused on pancakes.  See mom is a pancake fiend.  In college when other students where stock piling beer money, mom was saving up for her Sunday pancake feast at The Original Pancake House in Auburn New York.

We say why should mom have all the fun!  Pancakes for pups sounded pretty good to us.  Usually mom tries to avoid grains in our food and its a little hard to eliminate grains from pancakes but she decided that as long as it was just a bit and if she loaded them up with some healthy fruits and veggies then pancakes would be OK.   

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Thinking about Pawcakes makes Tubby's tongue do this!


Pear and Carrot Pawcakes



2 cups Arrowhead Mills Multigrain Pancake Mix 
2 pears diced
2 carrots diced
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 to 1 cup of milk.
vegetable oil

Measure the pancake mix into a large  bowl.  Using the food processor grind the pears and carrots to mushy paste and this to the pancake mix.   Stir in the eggs and then the milk.  Add enough milk to make good consistency.   Heat about 2 tbsp vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat.   Drop the batter by tablespoons into the skillet and fry about 2 min until bubbles form, then flip and cook one minute more.  Repeat with the remaining batter.  Cool and serve as a kibble topper.

Note: This makes a ton of pawcakes (remember there are five of us) so you may want to  half the recipe.


Our kibble topped of with Pawcakes

"Are they ready yet?"


"Yummy!"



The peeps got to eat to so......For the humans:

Dutch Baby (Oven Pancake)  with Strawberries


Pancake:
4 tbsp unsalted butter
4 eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup half and half

Topping:
2 tbsp melted butter
juice of 1 lemon
powdered sugar
1 pint of strawberries, sliced


Preheat oven to 425 and melt 4tbsp of butter in a cast iron skillet over low heat.   Meanwhile, combine the eggs, flour, and half and half in a blender.   Take the skillet off the heat and pour the batter in.   Put the skillet in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.


Remove from the oven and top immediately with the melted butter and lemon juice.  Serve with powdered sugar and strawberries on the side.


 Oh and Norbert update: His bloodwork was good.  My wonderful vet got it back the same day.   We will know about his urine test soon.






Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday Mischeif-Hippie Dippie

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Tubby in Hippie gear 3 years ago before a Woofstock Meet-Up


Confession: Our mom is a little bit of a hippie.  She rides a Bike Friday to work and frets over the environment, is politically liberal, has all of Bob Dylan's CDs, and loves those boho style clothes from Anthropologie.  The biggest hippie-dippie thing about mom though is her choice of breakfast cereal, granola.  Since her favorite store bought granola from Le Pain Quotidien costs about 12 dollars for a small bag, a price mom would only pay for high quality organic dog treats! She makes like a real hippie and whips up her own granola.

Granola


  
4 cups of old fashioned oats
1 cup almond slices
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (the big chunky flakes, not the little skinny ones)
3/4 cup of unsalted sunflower seeds (not roasted)
3/4 cup of unsalted pumpkin seeds (not roasted) 
1/2 cup of chopped pecans
1 tbsp wheat germ
1 tbsp cinnamon
3 tbsp vegetable oil
generous 1/2 cup of Maple Syrup (preferably Grade B)
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries
 1/2 cup diced dried apricots


Preheat the oven to 350 and stir all of the above ingredients (except the dried fruit) together in large bowl.  Line two rimmed sheet pans with parchment paper and spread the granola out in one layer.  Bake until golden brown, 30-45 minutes (watch carefully to prevent burning)


Cool the granola and stir in the dried fruit.  Obviously you can customize this granola anyway you want by adding whatever fruits and nuts are to your liking.


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Ping in her Hippie Dress

Oh and on another note today is Norbert's 6 month senior vet exam so send him some pawsitive vibes, these exams always freak mom out as she is afraid the vet will find something wrong and  Norbert has had some health issues lately with lyme disease and bloat.   Then on a happy note, today is the first official day of mom and dad's week long staycation!



  
Snoopy's Dog Blog

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Super Pet Expo

Last Sunday, Tubby and Norbert went to the Super Pet Expo in Edison NJ.  We have gone every February for the last four years, ever since moving to Jersey City, and its always packed to the gills with people, pets, and great deals on products for pet lovers.

The crowds are a bit much for Bob and Dr. Zira who prefer a more sedate environment, but they where nothing to Norbert and Tubby who have braved Manhattan crowds, (Ping would have been fine too, but we decided two dogs would be easier to handle at the Expo then three). 

We saw lots of cute dogs (as well as birds, cats, and pigs!)



There were treats galore and lots of free samples.




Tons of people where selling home accessories for pet lovers.  Last year mom bought a pug sign for our front door from this vendor:




 Other stands had all sorts of toys and clothes.



 We had so much fun shopping.




 It was hard to decide what to buy, but we settled on a bag of Duck Strips from Plato Pets that is as big as Dr. Z!



Mom also got a shirt for Tubby with a T on it from NJ based Diva Dog Designs. They make such cute stuff and have a shop on Etsy!

For a toy mom and dad selected Kyjen Star Spinner puzzle toy.  

"Can I eat this mom?"

"Oh I get it there are treats inside!"

 Norbert and Bob solved the star puzzle quickly, though Bob was a bit handicapped by his lack of a nose.


Tubby did a respectable job and was clever enough to use his paw when his nose proved to short to properly turn the puzzle.


Ping and Dr. Zira where a bit baffled by the toy.  They seem to think all treats should be hand delivered.  Classic diva behavior.





All in all the Pet Expo was a big success!