Monday, November 25, 2013

DIY No-Sew Snood Pajamas

Traditionally, a snood is one of those old school nets that women would use to hold the back of their hair. Fugly. Nowadays, a snood is a kind of head scarf thingy, like if a knit cap and a scarf had a baby. It's not uncommon to see sighthounds wearing snoods since those breeds tend to get cold very easily. Well, guess who else is temperature sensitive. Yup, Princess Zainey and Sir Bolt. While Zainey is just a high-maintenance diva, Bolt actually has very little fur on his precious neck. They both like to be covered with blankets when they are cold - the only problem with this is that every time they get up, the blanket falls off. Problem solved - enter the DIY fleece snooded-jammies!
DIY victims 
Super easy to make (see lame instructions below), these can be as simple as you like (just cut and wear), or made fancier by adding a fringe edge, seems, or embellishments. Right now, ours are the cut and wear variety, but a quick trip to the craft store will fix that. Either way, you already get one bonus finished edge since the pant cuff is now the top of the snood.

I love it! These are lightweight enough to wear around the house and warm enough for naps. It's perfect for the dog that likes to burrow - just pull the snood up around the muzzle and voila ... instant coverage!

Materials Needed: old pajama pants, scissors, and a glass of wine. Seriously. That's it.
(Make sure the pant legs are big enough to accommodate your dog's girth and that the material has some give for comfort and is visually forgiving for a raw cut edge - fleece is best.)
(Click to enlarge)
A couple of notes: 

'I don't thinks we iz in focus'
~ Cut the body length first and fit the former pant leg/now pajama body on your dog before you decide on arm hole placement - that way you can see how much 'snood' you want coming over the head and then mark the arm holes. Even though I did this, I still managed to screw up and put the arm holes on Bolt's PJ's too close to the head hole (I apologize for using such technical terms) and now his snood is really just a super tall collar.

~ If your dog is long like Z, you can include part of the waistline elastic in your design which adds a little 'grip' to the hind end area of the material.

'WHAT?! I can't hear anything'

~ Don't expect a flawless piece. These aren't going to be perfect, but they will be FREE. The snood portion fits well on Z, but the body is a little more form fitting than I'd like. The opposite is true for little B - his snood is very loose and airy, but the body fits well, like a little nightgown.

~ Start larger and trim from there. You can always cut more, but you can't glue it back together. Keep the PJ's big and then re-cut and re-size as fittings indicate. I cut a damn arm hole too big, so I ended up doing some sewing.

~ Boy dogs have a penis! I've always had girl dogs so I forget that boys need special accommodations for their potty sticks. I wanted to leave Bolt's gown longer for more warmth, but a wet tummy area after a trip to the backyard reminded me that boy dogs can't have their tummies covered. Whooopsy...pee-peed PJ's!

~ Don't leave dogs unattended in clothing. They can twist, get limbs caught, panic and injure themselves. I forgot to take these off of them last night and woke up with Burrito-Bolt! Ha! Of course, it's only funny because I was there to fix it. (It really was cute though  - like a fleece chimichanga with ears!).
'I iz seriously so cozeeee in here'
So, there you have it! Cold weather DIY for you and your dog! Now, go grab your favorite sh*t stained pajama pants that you were gonna toss out and re-purpose them into wintertime snooded-jammies for your dog!

Voted Most Romantic - Bolt
p.s. The best part...I still have the pajama top, so now the dogs and I have matching family PJ's! Fancy!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

(Thank you interwebs for all the Ryan Gosling memes that get me through my days!)

Friday, November 8, 2013

Girls Gone Wild!

This is my idea of a girl's day out. No spas or shoe shopping or talk about relationships and feelings. Ugh - yuck - no! For me it's all about dogs, open trails, stickers in my hiking shoes, and a good friend who get's it (Wuddup, Patty!). It's been a while since we've been able to have one of these somewhat strenuous, but completely awesome, off-trail, off-leash, dirty days with our girls, and Z and I have both missed it! Just the sight of our friends waiting in the parking lot last Sunday brought uncontrollable whining from the backseat (Z, not me - I was the one driving this time). Sure, there was the usual snarky moment from Z toward Soph when we got out of the car, but that's only because she loves her soooo much; she just has a weird way of showing it!

Get outta my way, slow poke!

Conflicting schedules and 'second children' (our bratty-blonde-bimbo-boy dogs) have kept us from doing much of the girl thing, but when we do, there's something we've both noticed - our 'little girls' are mature dogs! They've grown up. Of course I can't speak for Patty, I'm mainly speaking to my own situation, and this is how I see it... Yes, the girls both have a quirk or two, but their awareness level and demeanor are just so different from the boys. And wow - they have actual attention spans! Is it age? Gender? Probably both. Sorry for being sexist (not really, but I think I'm supposed to pretend like I am), but while the girls can be a bit bitchy (I'm looking at you, Z), the boys can be flighty air-heads and just a little dense at times.

You know how, let's say two people in a relationship are leaving to go to a friend's place for dinner... while the woman is getting everything together and talking on the phone and grabbing a bottle of wine and putting on lip balm and feeding the cats and yet (annoyingly) still has to remind the guy that's just standing there to grab a jacket???.... Well, the differences are kinda like that. One's quick, in control of the situation, and tuned in to everything going on. The other one - not so much.

It's a generalization, so what. I'm not saying it's like that all of the time with people or our dogs. Here's more on that though - while the above scenario is unfolding the energies of both parties are very different. While one might seem to have a higher anxiety level, the other might as well be watching cartoons somewhere in the back of his head. Neither is better, just different ways of processing, I suppose - just like our girl vs. boy dogs. I appreciate Z's cunning brain, intelligence, and nowadays - just her general awareness of what is going on. I also appreciate Bolt's softness, innocence, and wonderment of all that is new to him.
I'm fine here - just leave me...I'll live off the land.
This must be what it's like when other people have human babies - you think you know what you've got and then that second child comes in and throws highlights all over the things you never noticed before. The only real difference I can see is that my kind of kid can poop in the woods - Yea for me, I win again!

[Side note: Google the above subject and you'll find plenty of opinions on male vs female dog personalities, temperament, and learning. Here's a 2009 article by Patricia McConnell that basically sums up some random beliefs and ends with 'we don't really know until there's more science' (remember, no stamp from a guy in a lab coat = no proof, either way), but it does start with this well known gem - “If you want a good dog, get a male. If you want a great dog, get a female and cross your fingers.”]

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Man in the Middle

in·ter·me·di·ate (adjective) \ˌin-tər-ˈmē-dē-ət\
: occurring in the middle of a process or series
: relating to or having the knowledge or skill of someone who is more advanced than a beginner but not yet an expert

Bolt 'graduated' from Intermediate Obedience this week. Yea! Despite missing three weeks of class and practice and having to cram some make-up in at the end, they let him pass. I thought we might have to repeat the level for obvious reasons, but not only did we pass - the instructor told us we could skip Intermediate II and go straight to Advanced. Wow and Ha Ha! That comment was made after we performed well last Saturday. Since then, we have had two more classes that confirmed for me that we will not be skipping any levels, but will continue to lay the most solid foundation we can. While it's not impossible to go back and work on things at a later time that aren't as solid as you'd like, it's just better if you take the time to get it right the first time. A dog that knows it's doing the right thing when being given a command is more confident and therefore easier to train in the long run. It's a deliciously tempting offer to 'skip a grade' and I can see the allure, but I've seen too many people drooling over what an instructor's dog can do that don't seem to want to make the investment (time and money) to get the same results with their own pups. I don't want to be that student.
Also, I know the reality of our situation - we may have a break before the next class starts, but I just don't practice with Bolt as much as I did with Z when she was going through similar classes. (Isn't that the way it always goes with the second child!?)
Maybe the teacher's offer was just a test to see if I'd take the bait ... sooooo many trainers over the years have pounded it into my head time after time - take as much time as you need to get SOLID and RELIABLE results before moving on. I guess I was the one being trained all along! Yea - I pass, too!
Celebration Beer for Bolt! (not really, don't turn me in)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Crappy Hallowieners!!!

Happy Halloween, Y'all!

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I can't help it, candy corn is my favorite vegetable and zombies are my favorite people! This year's Halloween however will not go into my memoir as my best Halloween ever. More of a snoozefest than a frightfest. Whatevs' - No biggie!

That being said, I promised someone photo's of the pups in costume and who am I to disappoint. I took a trip down to the basement for outfits, grabbed a BUNCH of treats from the fridge for bribing, and snapped some iPhone pix. Here are the most wonderful results ...
The Masked Weirdo (??)
Village People Construction Worker
Magnun P.I. (sans moustache)
Aging Rockstar (and her only contribution - she was NOT feelin' it)

(For the record, Bolt did surprisingly well with all of this. Z on the other hand ..argh! She's too smart, I believe she's learned that photo sessions end much more quickly when she refuses to play along. Smart dog!)

We don't put the 'fun' in dysfunctional. Oh no, no - we put the 'FUNK' in it!...
(not the merriam-websters 'strong, offensive odor' kinda funk, this kind of funk...)


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Live Love Derek

I think at one point I intended for this blog to be a place where I would share my rambling thoughts about other things in addition to dogs, but up until now that has not been the case.

Dogs teach us to live for each moment, that there is no other way to be than honest and true, that appreciation feels good for both the giver and receiver, and that humans make love and life way too complicated. Life would be so much simpler if I wrote the rules.

You know who does write his own rules? Ricky Gervais. ...Wha...?! Yep, he's today's subject, my first non-dog post, and here's why - He makes me laugh. A LOT. Just his laugh makes me laugh and my laugh makes my dogs happy, so really, this post does tie into life with my dogs. He's also warmhearted, intelligent and a huge animal rights advocate. ...I might marry him, if he's lucky.

[end animal testing]

"Most people I've met who weren't kind to animals weren't kind to people either. Kindness is kindness. Simple as that."

"Some people are threatened by other peoples' empathy for things they don't share. They lash out and deem it wrong to comfort themselves."

"Dear intelligent people of the world, don't get shampoo in your eyes. It really stings. There. Done. Now f*#ing stop torturing animals."

(He's back-that-ass-up-and-make-me-a-sandwich awesome, right!??!)

A little over a month ago, the series Derek premiered on Netflix (written, directed, and starring Gervais). It's a program about a special man with simple needs who works at a nursing home. He loves the old people he cares for, his friends and animals.
It's bittersweet to say the least. Timing is everything - as silly as it may seem, this series has helped me through what has been a tough time, the subject matter has some relevancy for me right now, and I just love that it was created by a fellow animal lover. The message is clear - live simply, care for those you love, feel everything, and have fun where you can. Kindness is magic. Want to laugh and cry? Watch it.

Don't think you have enough heart to watch it? Well, then you and I probably shouldn't be friends. ;-)
At least watch these two animal videos that Derek absolutely loves. Only watch if you have sound though - it's all about the great songs that will worm into your brain and create happiness where there once was none!

'He can't believe his luck. He loves picnics and he loves ice cream. I love him.' -Derek Noakes

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Really Science?!?!...I Coulda' Told You That!

I'm sorry in advance for my rant, but being someone who is pretty tuned in to dogs I've always had a tough time with how easy it is for people to dismiss both the awareness and emotional intelligence of our domesticated canine companions. From time to time, I come across articles like this one about new research suggesting that "dogs have rich emotional lives and acute levels of awareness" and all I can say is...duh. Of course I mean no disrespect to the subject of the article, the work of neuroscientist Dr. Gregory Berns. Quite the opposite - it's great work on his part, he did a baller job and seems like a cool dude that I'd want to 'talk dog' with, but DUH to the people who embrace this as a new idea.

So, why is it so common for people to dismiss or doubt some facts about Rover's mental and emotional capacities? Maybe it's because many people aren't aware of the scientific research that supports what many of us dog-laypeople have 'studied' in our own homes and known for years and they need the stamp of approval from 'science' to believe us lame non-lab-coat-wearers. Maybe it's because once we all face the fact that dogs are sentient beings with the ability to experience "human emotions" (I just love how we're so arrogant as to group a bunch of emotions as 'belonging' to humans) and connect to the world in a manner that is similar to that of a young child, we will have to take a long hard look at how we've treated some of our 'best friends' and quite possibly end up feeling like turds in the end.

This subject seems to find people primarily lumped into two group- those that believe there is something more to our dogs than fur, drool and tennis balls, and those that accuse the rest of us of anthropomorphizing. Ugh - I'm so sick of that word. Yes, there are a lot of people who incorrectly attribute human personality traits to dogs - we've all seen the videos of the 'guilty' dogs that people believe have the look of an admission of guilt on their faces (example here), but what most people don't realize is that those dogs are exhibiting what is called a submissive grin and they are attempting to appease their person and/or increase distance from a possible conflict. It has nothing to do with guilt! It's just one example of canine communication that most people don't understand. (Check out Patricia McConnell's explanation here, she's much more eloquent, respected, and a lot nicer than I am.)
So, circling back around - there are actually three groups we can lump people into here...
1.) Those that believe there is something more to our dogs than fur, drool and tennis balls, but completely miss the mark with their interpretation of what a dog may be thinking or feeling.
2.) Those that accuse anyone who attributes any thought, emotion, or awareness to dogs of anthropomorphizing.
3.) And finally, those that know there is something more to our dogs then fur, drool and tennis balls, and have it right! (See my list of recommended reading for some real awesome sources of knowledgeable folks.)

Let's break this down into something simple that even you can understand and can't argue with...
We'll look at the triune brain and what our canine companions share with us biped goons:

(The triune model shows three parts of the brain [or actually brains within brains as the brain has developed over a few bopzillion years, but that's too complicated for you])---
The 'reptilian brain': Responsible for the basics - survival, hunger, fight or flight, etc. Humans have it, so do dogs, and it works the same in both species.
The 'mammalian brain': Responsible for mood, memory, happiness, pride, depression, surprise, affection etc. Humans have it, so do dogs, and it works the same in both species.
The 'primate brain': Responsible for higher thinking, language, advance planning, crap like geometry, etc. Humans have it (some more than others - yes, I'm looking at you), dogs do NOT. 

Now do you get it? Your dog has the exact same parts of the brain that you do that are responsible for feelings, emotions, needs, and wants. Period! No further explanation/proof should be needed. 
...Seriously, are we clear on this yet?

I spend a lot of time connecting to my own dogs (training, playing, feeding, caring, observing, staring, obsessing), reading about dogs, and just spending time around dogs. Yes, I put sweaters on my dogs and wrap their gifts as if they really give a hoot, but I am fully aware of what dogs do and don't understand and what they do and don't feel and I haven't needed a scientific study to know that I am fairly accurate in my assessments. For me, most of this stuff is a no-brainer. That being said, I am so very grateful that there are more and more accredited, respected, and published scientists that I can site as a source when naysayers think I'm crazy for believing my dog has the ability to negotiate, manipulate, or experience 'human' emotions. Not for my sake, but for the dogs of today and the future, so that some day society as a whole might wake up and realize that when we assume guardianship of a dog we are taking on the responsibility of an intelligent animal that requires mental stimulus, physical and emotional care.

Finally, because this guy seems to be as smart as I am when it comes to doggy brains (ha! I'm kidding, he's probably only a little more than half as smart as me), I think I'll buy his book.

And... why oh why oh why does the person who wrote the piece I linked to at the start of this Kanye-esque tirade of mine insist on titling the article "Are dogs more human than we realize" and adding the line "are dogs people too"?! Really, writer lady?!?! Did you not research your subject at all??!?! Let's appreciate and understand dogs as DOGS and people as people. Besides, what a horrible insult to the canine world!

...Wait! I'm not quite done after all. I'll take this all one step further and challenge you to consider this... It's understood that if you take away one of the five senses, the others become heightened. I might go so far as to contemplate the idea that without the more advanced 'primate brain', the functions or output from the other two are more intense. Hmmmmm.   ....Daaanng, I'm gonna go get me one of them white lab coats now!

Now will you believe me?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Traveling WithOUT Dogs

Traveling with dogs can be a challenge, especially when one of those dogs comes with her own set of special needs, but this time, traveling without dogs is proving to be a major challenge.
Maybe that is partly due to the nature of my trip (looking after family health and trying to figure out some pretty big life issues while hemorrhaging cash) and maybe it's because every time I do miss the dogs and start to think "I just want to be back home with my pups"...I stop and realize that right now my pups pretty much are my 'home', my little anchors.
As much as I knew before this journey that my puppy-kids were #1 in my life, I know it even more now. Yes, they drive my crazy somedays (you try having my life right now), but I feel that after four months with the new addition, we are finally settling into some routines that I can both manage and enjoy (most days). It's killing me to be away from those two nutjobs that keep my little heart from completely shutting down, but right now I only have two options...
1.) Sit immobilized and cry.
2.) Bust out my inspiration and plug it in when I can find the right moments...
Go for a walk...

eat something warm and yummy...
and meet new friends.
For the record, I am doing both option 1 and 2 and I try my best to remember everyday to be grateful that I have option 2.

Home is the safety zone and place where you refill your energy reserves after a hard day or an extended time away. Home for me is Bolt and Zainey - I can't wait to see them again and after this month, I hope to only blog about travels that include my precious, pain-in-the-butt, sweet, crazy dogs. It'll be so great to go back to moaning and complaining about known issues!!!

"Hey momma, don't forget to stop an' smell da' roses"

Thursday, September 19, 2013

We're Moving to Hollywood!!!

...Not really, but Bolt is officially a star, so maybe we should consider it. Okay, when I say 'star', I really mean AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy. Sure, the 20-step puppy test is pretty darn basic, but that's not the point. The point is, my little man earned his first certificate and medal this summer and is well on his way to real stardom!

Oooh, I can't wait until he gets a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame one day... and his first Oscar... and maybe we'll try the Olympics, but I really should book him an agent first. So much to do! ...

For now, I think I'll just continue to take him to intermediate obedience classes and hope he can eventually master a simple 'stand for exam'. Argh!!! Why is that so tough!?!?!?!?