That time that Ralphie managed to dig himself under the back steps in Stilwell and got stuck there.

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

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Saying Goodbye (The Ralphie and Kaylee Post)

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

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4/30/08 – The pack (at the time), reunited after Kaylee’s surgery.

The Power of the Dog

by Rudyard Kipling

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie–
Perfect passsion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart to a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find–it’s your own affair–
But … you’ve given your heart to a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!)
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone–wherever it goes–for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we’ve kept ’em, the more do we grieve:
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-term loan is as bad as a long–
So why in–Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

* * * * * * *

2006-09-24 - RevisitingFairport-0049 [modified-square1]

9/24/06 – When Shane and I (with Ralphie, Peedee, and O-Ren in tow) visited our family in New York, we took Ralphie on a special trip (just us three!) to our old haunts in Fairport: old house, hiking trails, community center, Lollypop Farm. I’ll cherish these memories forever.

The year that Shane, Ralphie, Ozzy, and I relocated from New York to the Midwest (then Kansas, now Missouri), I did some work on a pet loss website. In addition to graphics, I scoured books and the web for public domain poetry and whatnot for use on the site. While the whole project was rather maudlin and depressing, it’s the latter task that took the greatest toll on me. Oftentimes I’d find myself bawling at the computer screen, imagining as the subject of this essay or that poem Ralphie – my first-born, my baby, my little man – placing myself in the author’s shoes, contemplating just how utterly awful my dog kid’s passing would be. Sleepless nights spent crying into his gorgeous red fur, willing him to live forever; arms wrapped in a veritable death grip.

Rudyard Kipling’s “The Power of the Dog” and “Where To Bury A Dog,” by Ben Hur Lampman, were two of my favorites. Even though I’ve since realized that Kipling was a racist asshat, I still adore much of his animal-centric poetry. (As always, the speciesism is taken with a grain of salt. I don’t, for example, consider myself anyone’s “master,” nor would I ever buy a dog, puppy or otherwise.) Even today, I start to tear up over the titles alone – the feelings associated with each are that visceral and powerful.

Regrettably, my love for Ralphie carried with it a long shadow of sadness, colored by unhappiness and anxiety over the grief this love was sure to one day cause. Not any time soon, mind you; this was in 2002, when Ralphie was a wee little pup of four or five. Obsessing over a future hurt still a decade away – this just goes to show how utterly illogical it all was.

In retrospect, I was most likely suffering from depression. I’d just moved to a new state, more than 1,000 miles away from the friends and family I’d known for the first 24 years of my life, accompanied only by a man, a dog, and a cat. I didn’t know a soul aside from our landlords, who were perfectly pleasant people – except for the fact that they exploited nonhuman animals (cows and dogs) for a living. I’ve never suffered from a glut of social skills, and complicating matters was my budding vegetarianism and feminism, which slowly gave rise to a sense of alienation from others. I’d put graduate school on hold because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life (still don’t a decade plus later). Ralphie was my best friend, my responsibility, my reason for being; it’s no surprise that the inevitability of losing him, no matter how far off, exacerbated the depression and anxiety I was already feeling.

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4/9/03 – Ralphie, Peedee, and I taking one of our famous midday naps.

Things got better when Peedee came into the picture. From the day we started planning our move to Kansas, we knew that we’d adopt a second dog so that Ralphie wouldn’t be alone. We even wrote it into our lease! (Luckily, Karla and Larry were nice enough to allow dogs three through five, even though they were not previously agreed upon.) Peedee took some of the pressure and focus off of Ralphie, allowing me to relax a little. Ditto Rennie, Kaylee, and Jayne, who came later (March 2005 and September 2006, respectively). While my dog kids’ mortality has been and will forever be a source of dread for me, it’s something that I’ve learned not to linger on. Whatever comes, we’ll all face it together.

* * * * * * *

(More below the fold…)

One step forward, two steps back.

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

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On Tuesday and I Shane traveled south of the city, to donate Ralphie and Kaylee’s unused medications to Wayside Waifs. While we were out, we also ran some errands and hit up a few used book stores, in a halfhearted attempt to fill the dog-shaped hole in my heart. Also because I love books and we’ve neither a library (it keeps getting voted down! even though KCMO preemptively extended us borrowing privileges! boooooo!) nor a book store (used or otherwise) in my town.

It was a rather emotional day, to say the least…especially considering that, the last time I went shopping in the Leawood/Overland Park area, it was when we still lived in the area. Circa 2008 or so, back when Ralphie and Kaylee were alive and kicking. We stopped in the same Sam’s Club store we frequented when we lived in Stilwell, and visited the used book store in the JoCo library branch closest to our old place. It was trippy enough, revisiting out old haunts, without thinking about how much things have changed. How much our family has changed. New members added, old friends lost. I wish I could go back in time and relive it all again…but even if that were possible, the ending would always be the same. Pain and death and misery. And yet I’d do it a million times over.

(More below the fold…)

Organizational Therapy

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Spoiler alert: this is one of those long and rambling posts that’s mostly for my own benefit. There will be others! You have been warned!

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In the days and weeks after Kaylee’s death – and once I was finally able to get out of bed – I tried to bury my grief in busy work. I’ve always loved cleaning; not the dirty, repetitive kind requiring vacuum cleaners and dust rags, the kind that’s gross at best and a tedious weekly chore at worst, but the type that involves organizing and reorganizing things: rearranging closets, purging my life of unwanted possessions, finding the perfect homes for even the tiniest of items. You know, FUN cleaning. There’s something refreshing about the whole process: putting your life back in order. Plus, it’s something I’m actually quite good at – more than once I’ve though about making a job of it.

(And then I remember my utter lack of people skills. Years spent trying to help my younger sister organize her room, most sessions devolving into me arguing with her about what to toss and what not to toss, and lectures about what a slob she was/is. Me working with the public? Probably not the best idea ever. Still, among friends and family I am universally recognized as THE BEST trunk packer ever. Second only to my father. Maybe. Just between us, he wishes he had my skills.)

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Kaylee, Ralphie, and I during happier times.

So after Ralphie and Kaylee passed, Shane and I tackled a few projects around the house: moving knickknacks, hanging new posters, reorganizing the bookshelves. (I should say “library,” seeing as we have an entire room filled with shelves, but that sounds pretentious, no?) Nothing radical like a kitchen remodel; mostly just redecorating here and there. Or rather adding to the existing decor.

I had this crazy idea that, the more different I could make the house look, the less conspicuous Ralphie and Kaylee’s absences would feel in comparison. So many new things to distract my attention from the holes left by their departure; baubles and frivolities and states of being that never coexisted with them. Does that make sense? It sounds totally reasonable in my head, but less so when spoken from my lips or written on a page. But it has helped…a little. And at this point I’ll take whatever I can get.

(More below the fold…)


Sunday, July 14th, 2013

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Twelve years ago today, Shane and I adopted our first dog together. Ralphie was terribly well-behaved on the (long) ride home, even politely letting us know when he needed us to stop the car so he could go to the bathroom. But the first thing he did upon arriving at his new home? Take a dump in the kitchen.

I don’t really have anything poignant to say…I just miss my two old dogs so, so much. And it pains my heart to know that Peedee is now the senior in the house. Just last year he was an excitable, 7-month-old ball of energy wrapped up in younger brother angst. How can this be?

professor butts

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

So hey I did a thing.

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In case it isn’t plainly obvious, I filled a collage frame with pictures of my dogs in various stages of bathroom-related activities: peeing, pooping, eating poop

(Peedee I’m looking at you! Sadly, I have more than enough pictures of Peedee eating feces to fill one of those ginormous, wall-shaped collage frames. Possibly his poo habit is why he’s nearly toothless, though the vet will neither confirm nor deny this theory.),

and in Ralphie’s case, just plain strutting his butt (it’s so cute!). And then I hung it in the bathroom. Genius, right? Don’t all go copying me at once. By which I mean do, because it’s awesome and you will be the talk of your neighborhood. (Though not necessarily in a good way, but who cares? You’re a rebel and a trendsetter, you do what you want.)

The hardest part was finding a frame; the ones at the craft stores tend to be big and pricey, so I opted for a mid-sized cheapo plastic one and then gussied it up with some metallic spray paint. I was actually going for a weathered, two-tone look, with some of the original black peaking through, but the paint I chose would have none of that. If I were a craftier type, I probably would have picked something more suitable for the task. Oh well. I don’t love it, but the color’s not bad, it matches the walls, and I can always change it later.

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I hung it right over the toilet (classy!), and on the wall adjacent I put up this adorable plaque my mom gave me on my last trip to New York (which was much, much too long ago, I might add). It used to hang next to the toilet in our upstairs bathroom, and as a wee little one I sometimes spent hours (tmi!) staring at it. I didn’t understand the significance of the prunes until I was well into my teens; when I was younger, I thought it was a reference to poo-shaped items: “think about pushing out a prune.” True story.

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Here are the photos that made the cut; the outtakes are over on flickr. (There’s an album! OF COURSE there’s an album.) As you can see, Peedee’s overrepresented, and Jayne and Finnick are nowhere to be found. They hate having their pictures taken enough without being chased down while dropping a dookie.

On that note.

(More below the fold…)

Forget Freddy. Pet theft is where it’s at.

Friday, June 21st, 2013

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I had the most terrifying dream in recent memory last night. Usually I find my “nightmares” – dreams of being pursued by zombies, serial killers, and the like – more entertaining than scary, but last night? Oy.

There was some kind of emergency going on – a hurricane, maybe; or perhaps it was a celebration or big shopping day – but anyway, everyone was gathered at the the local high school (Eastridge, in my mind), which was supposed to be a shopping center, I think. idk, the details are hazy. But I was walking Rennie in the parking lot – along with a bunch of other “pet” “owners”; off-leash, for some strange reason – and, as she rounded a shrub I lost sight of her temporarily. And she vanished. Was snatched. Dog-napped.

Naturally, I panicked. Apparently there was a dog smuggling ring operating in the area and Rennie wasn’t the only dog missing. There were also several rescue groups holding adoption events at the time, trying to place recently rescued animals. On second though, I think it was a natural disaster type situation and everyone was holed up at the high school. Anyway, I got a little sympathy, but not a whole lot of help: everyone was just too damned busy with their own problems.

(More below the fold…)

my spotted heaven

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

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Often I found myself desiring simple things and I would get them. Riches in furry packages. Dogs.

Every day in my heaven tiny dogs and big dogs, dogs of every kind, ran through the park outside my room. When I opened the door I saw them fat and happy, skinny and hairy, lean and hairless even. Pitbulls rolled on their backs, the nipples of the females distended and dark, begging for their pups to come and suckle them, happy in the sun. Bassets tripped over their ears, ambling forward, nudging the rumps of the dachshunds, the ankles of greyhounds, and the heads of the Pekingese. And when Holly took her tenor sax, set herself up outside the door that looked onto the park, and played the blues, the hounds all ran to form her chorus. On their haunches they say wailing. Other doors opened then, and women stepped out from where they lived alone or with roommates. I would step outside, Holly would go into an endless encore, the sun going down, and we would dance with the dogs – all of us together. We chased them, they chased us. We circled tail to tail. We wore spotted gowns, flowered gowns, striped gowns, plain. When the moon was high the music would stop. The dancing stopped. We froze.

Mrs. Bethel Utemeyer, the oldest resident of my heaven, would bring out her violin. Holly trod lightly on her horn. They would do a duet. One woman old and silent, one woman not past girl yet. Back and forth, a crazy schizoid solace they’d create.

All the dancers would go slowly inside. The song reverberated until Holly, for a final time, passed the tune over, and Mrs. Utemeyer, quiet, upright, historical, finished with a jig.

The house asleep by then; this was my Evensong.

– Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones (pp. 34-35)

So I just started reading The Lovely Bones, and am right now looking at a copy of Year of the Dog newly arrived from Netflix. Apparently I’m not depressed enough already? (On tap for tomorrow: vigorous self-flagellation.)

My heaven – if I believed in heaven, and I wish desperately at times like this that I did believe, or could will myself to – would look something like this: acres upon acres of greenery, home to dogs (and cats and rats and cows and pigs) of all shapes and sizes. Dogs I’d loved and lost, and dogs I never had the pleasure of meeting. Dogs I couldn’t save, but wanted to. Millions upon millions of them. Dogs who never received the love and care they deserved in the physical world. And – because heaven is forever and infinite – I’d finally be able to show them all the kindness and compassion I’d wanted to all along. A lifetime’s worth, and then some.

Same for the cats and rats and cows and pigs.

Ralphie 927

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Now that May 2013 – otherwise known as the worst month of my life – is finally drawing to a close, I suppose it’s time to stop hiding – in alcohol (strawberry daiquiris), food (peanut chews and Daiya & french fry soup), and sitcoms (Modern Family) – and work through the traumatic events of the past month. I have a number of projects planned – to help me process what happened, I guess, and remember both the good and the bad: journaling, photo albums, collages. Tributes in words and images. My mind’s still a little fuzzy – as in, the consistency of a jellyfish – but that’s why I’ve decided to start out small, with photos.

First up: sorting, editing, and uploading the nearly 1300 photos (give or take) Shane and I shot this month. Most of these are of Ralphie,* whose death we had the privilege of planning. And that’s genuine gratitude, not sarcasm, that you hear in my voice: just twelve days later, Kaylee’s end came unexpectedly and with little of the fanfare Ralphie received. My baby girl slipped away in the night without me even knowing it.

I’ll write more – much more – about Ralphie and Kaylee later. In fact, a long, rambling blog post is one of the final steps, I think, before I’ll be able to let go – of the nightmare that was May, of Ralphie and Kaylee – not to mention their bodies, which are currently stacked one one top of the other** in our laundry room chest freezer. We plan to have them cremated, eventually, but I’m not quite ready yet. As perverse as it is, there’s something comforting about having them nearby – even if I dare not touch or even look at their cold, frozen corpses. They’re not here – the things that made them the unique and special creatures I so loved have long since departed – and yet I can still pretend.

For today, I have a selection of my favorite photos from Ralphie’s last week. They looked prettier as photosets on tumblr, but I tried to dress them up as best I could. I wasn’t particularly judicious in paring down photos, so (warning!) the post might take a little time to load.

Next up: Kaylee’s folder, which is painfully slim compared to her older brother’s. I wish we’d been able to give her the same, (semi-) joyful sendoff Ralphie had.


* 927 refers to the number of pictures we took during Ralphie’s last three days with us. Ridiculous right?

** How awful is that?

4/30/13 – Ralphie

This was taken when Ralphie first became ill, but before we knew it was the big bad. (For the first few days, we mistook it for a simple tummy ache.) I had just applied their flea and tick treatment – hence the spiky line of fur down his back – and we were all gathered outside on the blanket, sunbathing and (in my case) reading. Ralphie lasted a good hour or two before going back in the house, which was unusual – in his later years he only wanted to be outdoors when he had business there (walking, digging, hunting critters).

Oh, to have those days back…

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5/4/13 – The Grumpy Patient

When Ralphie still wasn’t feeling well come Thursday, we took him back to our regular vet, who did some blood work and promptly referred us to the specialists at BluePearl in North Kansas City, a good 45 minutes away. His phosphorus and creatinine levels indicated that he was in renal failure. He ended up being hospitalized for four days, where the doctors tried to flush out his kidneys with fluids. Naturally we visited every day, sometimes for hours at a time. The staff was pretty chill about that. We only took pictures on this one occasion, though, on accounta we were convinced right up until the end that he’d be fine.
Ralphie is always fine, dammit.

Unfortunately, and even under their care, his kidney function continued to deteriorate, and on Monday we were advised to bring him home to die. We scheduled an in-home euthanasia for Thursday and tried to give our little bugger the best 76 hours of his life.

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(More below the fold…)

tweets for 2013-05-29

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

tweets for 2013-05-28

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

tweets for 2013-05-13

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

filed under “2013 you suck a bag of dicks”

Monday, May 13th, 2013

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Ralphie the dachshund, Kaylee the rat terrier,
and your fully clothed (for real!) blogger during happier days.

Those of you who are friends with me on Facebook or in real life are already hip to the meaning of this post’s title, but for those who aren’t a quick update.

A few weeks ago my eldest dog kid Ralphie went into renal failure; after a 4-day hospital stay, it was determined that there was nothing we could do to save him. We brought him home last Monday afternoon and, after giving him 76 wonderful, pampered hours, he was euthanized on Thursday (incidentally, my birthday).

Two days later we rushed our second-eldest dog Kaylee to the same ER for a snake bite, which turned out to be the least of our problems. The vet ran her bloodwork “just in case” and found that she, too, is in renal failure. She’s currently undergoing the same treatment as Ralphie, which will hopefully lead to a slightly better outcome – a few weeks or months vs. a few days. Currently they’re trying to flush out her kidneys with IV fluids, which should get her values down; after that, they’ll try to wean her off the fluids to see if/how her kidneys function under more normal circumstances. Complicating matters is her heart murmur; push the fluids too hard and they could send her into congestive heart failure. Luckily that hasn’t happened – she’s got a strong heart, that one! – but it does mean that her treatment is more conservative and will take longer. We should know more tomorrow morning.

last one

Our very last photo of Ralphie. We somehow managed to take over 900 in the last three days of his life, but I haven’t the heart to look at any of them yet.

(We had our other dogs checked out in case there was some weird environmental cause – they all managed to walk through a puddle of antifreeze at the park and lick their paws clean without my noticing, for example – but the five youngest are all in great health. The vets are fairly positive that the timing is just a coincidence. A horrible, horrible coincidence.)

Anyway, I had a bunch of posts scheduled in advance – everything published last week was written well before Ralphie fell ill, and the twitter digests are generated automatically – but the queue has mostly run dry. Probably you won’t hear from me in a while.

I plan on writing more – much, much more – after the crises have passed. Until then, hit me up on Facebook if you’d like to follow Kaylee’s progress; I’ve been more active there this week than in the first four months of 2013 combined. If you could, please send positive thoughts/prayers/positive energy/good vibes my way. These dogs mean the world to me; to lose one is difficult enough, but two in as many weeks? Unthinkable. I could use all the extra strength you can spare.




A few of the many photos we took during today’s two-hour visit with Kaylee. We were able to take her outside, which was awesome. We spread a blanket out in the shade (next to a vacant office building – you take what you can get) and got some quality cuddle time in. While we were gone the staff set up a “buffet” for her in Exam 2, where I tried to coax her into eating. I got her to lick the tongue depressor a few times, but mostly I had to trick her into eating by plastering baby food to the roof of her mouth.
She was pretty annoyed with me by the time we left.

tweets for 2013-05-09

Friday, May 10th, 2013

Fifteen and still kickin’ it!

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

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Also: biting, scratching, digging, spitting, and at times choking on. Wiener dogs, man.

Oh, Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun*

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

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This has been the scene come four o’clock the past few days. I’ve been getting in more reading when time allows, and this is pretty much the perfect reading spot in the house most afternoons. As the sun makes its way west, it travels from the left side of the office to right, until it’s slowly warming the spare couch. Drag the ottoman and some blankets over there, and there’s room enough for everyone. Still, at least one dog always ends up on my person. Everyone has to be closest to mommy!

The sun often sends me off into dreamland along with the dogs, usually in the most ridiculous and uncomfortable positions. (I’ve turned into my own mother; I can fall asleep anytime, anywhere. She once dozed off on a class trip she was chaperoning, to one of those old-timey schoolhouses. Drooling on a log table!) It’s not super-obvious in the photo, but Rennie’s draped atop my legs, length-wise, and my body’s bent sideways at the waist at a 45 degree angle. I have no idea how I drifted off like this, but I sure felt it a half hour later. Gonna pay for that in yoga tomorrow.

Only six of the seven dogs are represented here. Jayne started off with us but after five minutes of too much closeness, she retreated to the dog beds on the other side of the office. Lemmy’s over there too, sunning himself on his new cardboard scratching lounge thingie.

Thanks to Shane for taking this pic – one can never have too many photos of oneself sleeping, don’t you know!; at first sight of the camera, Fin fled to my side of the couch, where he promptly stole my pillow. Back to my book, I guess?

(More below the fold…)

"That it will never come again / Is what makes life so sweet." *

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

After last year’s elaborate space pirates fsmas theme – complete with canine Firefly cosplay and a tree full of handmade pirate ornaments – I decided to take it easy(ier) this time around. (At least with the decorating. The baking is another story!) So this year’s fsmas card theme was a little rushed and last-minute, but awesome just the same: Carl Sagan. More specifically, Carl Sagan quotes.

Truthfully I just really, really wanted to use the starstuff quote on a holiday card. It’s my favorite and I get choked up and leak strange, salty liquid from my eyes every time I think of it. To think that our bodies – hearts, hands, heads – are constructed of the remnants of long-dead alien stars. Such a strange and beautiful and wondrous idea. Yay science! (Adam’s rib or fallen stars? No contest!)

This year, Mags served as our coverdog, both because she’s never been and, perhaps more importantly, her pictures came out quite nicely. This main card is the one I sent to friends and family but, as per usual, I made “alternates” for each of the dogs (and Lemmy too!). I can’t stand to leave anyone out and besides, I welcome the thinnest of justifications for spending the day with Photoshop. For each of the animals, I chose a different Sagan quote – mainly for consistency, but also because he’s an eminently quotable guy.

As much as I love how the main card came out, I think Kaylee’s is my favorite of the bunch. There’s just something about her face and the way she’s addressing the camera. And the apples and the apron! It’s all just too perfect. Like she’s ready to bake a motherfucking apple pie and you’d better get the hell out of her way. NOW PASS THE EARTH BALANCE PLEASE! and thankyouverymuch.

Finnick was surprisingly well-behaved during the photo-taking; turns out his fear of the camera almost dissipates when there’s food around. We dressed him in a pirate tie that we originally bought for the cat (OH THE SHAME!); it was the only piece of clothing we thought he’d tolerate. And he did! I might make him wear it 24/7 now, just for my own amusement. His look is reminiscent of Cartman the fetus salesman, I think.

And for Lemmy, I couldn’t help but make an extra-snarky version of his card, just because. (By which I mean, just because he’s been snacking on the garland and batting my ornaments off the tree all month. CATS.)

Unfortunately, I forgot to include each dog’s name on the card (doh! me) – but if you hover over the image or click through to flickr, they’re right there in the file names. Easy peasy!


2012 Holiday Card - Mags (Main)

“The nitrogen in our DNA,
The calcium in our teeth,
The iron in our blood,
The carbon in our apple pies
Were made in the interiors
Of collapsing stars.
We are made of starstuff.”

2012 Message Label

(Against the backdrop of the aurora borealis:)

May your star shine bright this holiday season!
Best wishes from all of us in the Garbato-Brady Pack:
Kelly, Shane, Ralphie, Peedee, O-Ren Ishii, Kaylee, Jayne,
Mags, Finnick, and Lemmy (otherwise known as “The Cat”).

I printed these out on 4×6″ sticky labels and affixed them to the back of the main card.
Way easier than handwriting on 50+ cards!

(More below the fold…)

Eat to the Beat: Peanut Butter Dog Treats & Queen

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012


The song: “You’re My Best Friend” by Queen (lyrics)

The foodstuff: Peanut Butter Dog Treats from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur

The connection: Ralphie turns the big ONE-FIVE today!


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Veteran mofoers! Maybe you remember Ralphie the wiener dog? Since his birthday almost always falls during Vegan MoFo, he’s made at least one appearance every year since I started participating five years ago. And the one year Vegan MoFo was observed in November? He had his eye removed that month! Naturally, mom plied him with delicious foods to ease the pain.

(For those not in the know: Ralphie had what turned out to be a benign melanoma in his right eye; as it grew it obscured his vision and would eventually start to cause him pain, so we made the decision to have his eye removed. While he did pretty awesome in the year following the surgery, he’s unfortunately experienced age-related degeneration in the remaining eye and is not-so-slowly going blind. He gets around okay considering, but a bout of vertigo earlier in the year kind of sapped him of his confidence. He’s a happy guy, in great health otherwise, but also much more dependent on his humans than he used to be. But still, he’s 15 and loves to dig for critters and go on hour-long walks! Focusing on the positive over here!)


Peanut Butter Dog Treats from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur (0020)


In honor of my little guy, this edition of Eat to the Beat is dedicated to Sir Ralphie. With a serenade by Queen, ’cause he and the other dogs are totes my BFFs, and a batch of Peanut Butter Dog Treats from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur because birthdays are for spoiling! (I actually considered making him a full-on cake, but thought it might be too messy and difficult to divvy out. I mean yeesh, some of the smaller dogs can’t even down a biscuit without trailing crumbs on the freshly vacuumed floor!)

Though The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur is 99.999% people treats, Kelly Peloza was thoughtful enough to provide a recipe for our canine friends too! These Peanut Butter Dog Treats are super-easy to make and consist of just a few wholesome ingredients (namely, whole wheat flour, oats, peanut butter, and water).


Peanut Butter Dog Treats from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur (0001)


The dough isn’t really meant to be rolled out for cookie cutters – it’s kind of thick and not very stretchy – but I just bought a few new sets that I was dying to use, so I gave it a try anyway and guess what? SUCCESS! For three go-rounds, then I threw in my rolling pin and shaped the rest into little discs by hand. Which is really better for tiny dog mouths, but not nearly as pretty for pictures.


Peanut Butter Dog Treats from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur (0008)


I mean, look! I was able to spell out Ralphie’s name and his age, throw in a few hugs and kisses (xoxo), and even make some hearts, stars, and bones. Adorable right?


Ralphie, enjoying some early birthday treats (0010)


I tried taking some pictures of Ralph with his giant platter o’ biscuits, but he wasn’t in an especially cooperative mood. Not surprising, since there was food on the table. I snapped a few quick shots before he grabbed the one and only “H,” effectively ending the photo shoot.


Ralphie, enjoying some early birthday treats (0027)


I mean, “Ralpie?” Who the eff is that?

In keeping with our new birthday tradition, here are Fifteen Little Ralphie Things, one for each year of his life on this marble we call Earth. There are so many more things I love about him – try kajillions – but these are just the first fifteen to come to mind.

I love you, little guy. Now and forever.

You, you’re my best friend.

(More below the fold…)

year fourteen, more difficult than year thirteen

Monday, September 10th, 2012

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Oh, Ralphie. Just last week you spent the entire afternoon digging for critters in the field by the pond while I read, walking home alongside me – no leash or lead required – once the sun started to disappear beyond the horizon. This morning I had to carry you down the hall because you couldn’t see well enough to navigate through the throng of dogs on your own. Even if there were no other dogs, I might have had to carry you anyway; you seemed so confused and directionless. Unable to get your bearings.

And it happened so suddenly! I mean, I know that your vision is slowly going – normal age-related degeneration, fuck that! – and I’ve always expected that you’d be totally blind in the last months or even years of your life (particularly since you’re in otherwise excellent health and will most likely live a good long time, even for a dachshund; praise dog for that). But this! This was so fast and unexpected, like a tidal wave. One moment you can see (well enough, anyway); the next, nada.

I hope it’s something fixable, like a slipped lens or whatnot. It has to be, right? Because I’m not ready for you to be completely blind, not yet. Of course we can make you feel comfortable and secure and loved; that’s not it, not it at all. We just have so much more to do together, you and I. Lazy afternoon digging and sunny walks in the park. Staring into your eyes, cuddling and petting you, and knowing that you’re looking right back at me, seeing the love in my eyes.

You’re on your way to the ophthalmologist with dad right now. I hope you’re calm and comfortable and not disliking the car ride too much. Don’t be scared. Don’t ever be scared; dad and I are frightened enough for the three of us. We’ll be here for you though, always, doing the best we can.

Good luck, my little man.


(More below the fold…)

The Mags & Finnick Post

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

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To date, this is the only picture we have of all seven dogs. Left to right: Jayne, Kaylee (back), Mags, O-Ren, Finnick, Ralphie (back), and Peedee.

I have seven dogs.

I have seven dogs.

Saucy FSM help me, I can’t help but feel like a hoarder every time I say that.

We – Shane and I – we were going to stop at five. Kaylee and Jayne were “planned,” in a manner of speaking: when we adopted them, we specifically set out to find a bonded pair of dogs who might be considered hard to place – not just because they came as a packaged deal, but preferably due to additional “special needs,” such as advanced age, ongoing medical issues, etc.

In Kaylee and Jayne, we found all of these and more: though her age was anyone’s guess, Kaylee seemed to fall into the senior category, and her sad, sorry teeth demanded a small fortune in repairs. Jayne was just recovering from heartworm. Though much younger than Kaylee, she was (is!) rather aloof, difficult to get close to, and more interested in chasing small animals than tennis balls. Unlike most dogs, Jayne isn’t a much of a people person. Both girls have issues with anxiety, possibly due to past neglect or abuse. (Of the neglect, we can be sure: along with a third dog, Kaylee and Jayne – or Grace and Penelope, as their foster mom named them – were abandoned in a rental until when their owners moved out. It was three weeks before the landlord found them.)


2012-08-31 - 2006 Kaylee & Jayne Mosaic

A few early pictures of Kaylee (top) and Jayne (bottom).
The pictures on the left are from their Petfinder listings.

All of these factors conspired against them – that is, until we showed up. We who viewed these hardships as reasons (just a few of many) why Kaylee and Jayne should be given a second chance at happiness, rather passed over as damaged goods. Damaged souls. I guess it was our way on atoning for all the highly adoptable dogs we’d taken in up to that point: young, healthy, wanted. Relatively speaking, that is. (The rep we worked with at DRNA – whose name, more than a decade later, escapes me – joked that she’d love to adopt Ralphie herself: “He’s the most well-behaved dachshund I’ve ever met!” This after just a four-hour transport ride with him.)

I could go on and on (trust me!), but suffice it to say that our decision to adopt Kaylee and Jayne – and O-Ren, Peedee, and Ralphie before them – was not taken lightly. We pondered, we discussed, we researched. Renting at the time, we ran it by our landlord and even had her sign a contract agreeing to the increase in canine tenants. (In exchange for a heftier deposit, of course!) We searched for months before finding Kaylee and Jayne – and then had to wait another month+ before bringing them home due to a previously scheduled trip.

In contrast, Mags and Finnick were spur of the moment; a complete accident. They started out as (unofficial, wishful) fosters and quickly became family members.

(More below the fold…)