April 30, 2012

A Giveaway & Guest Blogging

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I'd come across a blog with the same name as my book: What the Dog Ate. I introduced myself to Donna, the blog owner who uses it to post very yummy looking recipes, and sent her a copy of my book. Well, yesterday I found out that she not only posted a great review of my book on her blog (hooray!), she's also hosting a giveaway of 3 copies! So, visit her post here to see the review, and if you leave a comment you'll be entered to win. If you've already read/bought the book, you could always enter and win a copy for a friend. But wait - there's more... She's also posted a dog biscuit recipe that includes bacon! (There's a lot of bacon-talk in the book, so this is a perfect recipe to include!) Rita is after me to get with it and make a batch.

In other news, I mentioned in my last post that I'd be guest-blogging at Miss Mae's Doggy Tales, and that post is up today and you can read it here. It includes one of my favorite stories about our beautiful angel beagle, Bailey -- plus lots of cute photos of her.

In other pooch-related news, I'm off to my usual Monday volunteer gig at Helen Woodward today where I play with/walk the dogs that are up for adoption. I was checking out the pups on the website this morning
and there are so many cute ones I can't wait to meet:
Aggggh! So cute!

This one looks like Rita!

And this looks like a pointy-eared Abby!!

Speaking of our beautiful angel Abby, I'm looking forward to turning the calendar page tomorrow, because it's time for "Miss May"!:

Are you jealous that I am off to kiss/play with/handle all those cute pups??? You should be!

April 26, 2012

Inside the Dog's Head

Will as James
Have you ever watched "Inside the Actor's Studio"? Even if you haven't, you've probably seen Will Ferrel do his James Lipton impression. [Although he seems a bit pompous at times, I think James is probably a good guy. Anyone willing to play him/herself on the Simpsons probably doesn't take him/herself too seriously.]

Anyway, if you haven't seen the show, he always ends by asking the interviewee 10 questions, originally from a French TV show hosted by Bernard Pivot (whoever he is/was). Mr. Lipton likes to say Pivot's name with a snooty French flair. Today, I thought I'd ask Rita the "Pivot" [insert snooty French accent here] questions.

Me: Question1. What is your favorite word?
Rita: Treat! Or dinner. Geez, I didn't know this was going to be hard. Can I get a little something to eat?
Me: When we're done.
Rita: Are we done yet? Come over here. [sidles toward pantry] The treats are in this special little room over here. 
Me: Yes, I know where the treats are. Thanks. Can we move on?
Rita: Can I get a treat first?
Me: Fine, ok. Here's a treat. NOW can we move on?
Rita: nomnomnom

Getting a treat on a hike
Me: Q2. What is your least favorite word?
Rita: [swallows] Well, it's not just a single word--it's a phrase: "Leave it!" I do not like to leave it. If I wanted to leave it, I would not have picked it up in the first place.

Me: Q3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Rita: Walks out in nature. Especially the beach, but a park or even the neighborhood will do. The smells! Oh, the smells that are just outside your door! You have no idea. You should really get outside and smell some s**t. I don't mean that literally. Well, no, actually I do. But, you know, not just s**t. You should smell everything! Big rush!

Me: Q4. What turns you off?
Rita: Rain, because it makes you wet and it washes away the smells.

Me: Q5. What is your favorite curse word?
Rita: S**t. Because it's so much more than just a curse word. 

Me: Q6. What sound or noise do you love?
Rita: It starts with the whirr & chug of the garage door, and then Mama yells, "Daddy's home!" That is a great sound! 

Me: Q7. What sound or noise do you hate?
Rita: The gardener! He makes a lot of scary noises. Plus he is in MY yard. (There are actually a lot of noises I hate, but I think that one is the worst.) Can you please make him stop coming?
Me: No, we need the gardener. Mama doesn't like to garden.
Rita: [mutters under her breath]
Me: I'll give you lots of treats next time he comes. Like we did last time, with the Frosty Paw.
Rita: Now you're talkin'! Ok. Keep him comin'!

Me: Q8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Rita: Oh gosh. My own job (guardian and protector of our house and property and street and anything at the other end of my leash) is really great, so I have to think about this... Um, I guess taste-tester of some sort. Maybe at like a hotdog factory or something. Or I would be a really good contraband-food-sniffer-outer. I mean, as long as you get to eat what you find. You get to eat that stuff, right? Like, I don't want to find some sausages in someone's luggage and then they just go in the bin. That's not right!

Me. Q9. What profession would you not like to do?
Rita: My daddy's. I don't know what the heck he does, but he's gone for a long time. And he comes home tired and hungry. I don't know what the heck they do him there, but, I mean, well tired is ok, but hungry is not good!  

Me. Q10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God/Dog say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
Rita: "Dogs are welcome!! The park is on the left, the beach is on the right, and the buffet's in the back!" Are we done? Can I get a treat? [scampers off to the pantry]
Me: Fine. But wait up! I need a treat too!

Thanks for reading. 

Next week I'm going to be guest-blogging on Doggy Tales about our first pup, Bailey, and about beagles in general and their crazy voracious appetites. (Rita definitely is half-beagle. Maybe even 95% beagle when food is involved!) I'll remind you when it's up next week.

April 20, 2012

Gopher It!

After the last week or so, I think "gopher it!" is Rita's new motto. Let me explain. A really unfortunate number of dead gophers have appeared at Fiesta Island lately. I've lost count of how many she's found/picked up/carried around--but not of how many she's eaten. That count stands at 2 1/2 (over the course of a week).

The beagle in her can smell them at 200 paces, and she'll suddenly veer off into the bushes straight for the little buggers. She usually proudly brings them back to me. "Look, Mama! Dinner's on me tonight!" For the most part, I've been able to get her to "Leave it" (command often shrieked...) and trade her for a jerky treat (100% made in the USA!*), but today she wasn't buying what I was selling. She brings it right to me, I offer her the jerky treat in exchange, and then she wolfed it down. No amount of "Leave it" yelling or jerky treat waving would help. I tried to pry her jaws open (not easy when you are also trying to not touch the dead gopher sections that are hanging out of her mouth...like the little tiny, creepy feet...) but was unsuccessful.

"It's all ... SQUISHY!!!!"
In other horrifying dead gopher news, I had to stand on one (!) to keep her from eating it. I'm sure you'll be happy to hear I have no pictures of any of this madness, but I do have a depiction of what my face probably looked like when I stood on the gopher. (And, yes, it's always a Bad Hair Day at the beach.)

The beagle/former-beach-scanvenger combo is just not a good one. I'm guessing this was probably her M.O. when she lived on the beach, which makes me sad. At any rate, I guess it's a good thing she's not a kisser!

I called the vet's office and asked if I should be worry. A woman at the park said the reason there are so many DEAD gophers (Rita's definitely finding them already dead -- ex-gophers, as it were -- and not hunting them down/killing them) is because there was an exterminator at the beach protecting the Least Tern nesting area. She said they use coumadin/warfarin to "bleed out" the rats/gophers, but supposedly the dose is low enough to not hurt the dogs. The vet said to just keep an eye on her for any signs she's not feeling well, but she's been her usual spunky, constantly hungry self.

I guess the moral is that I need to start bringing higher-value treats along to the beach. The jerky is not cutting it! My friend helpfully suggested dead birds. Since I don't really want to carry a dead bird in my pocket, I might try a bully stick. She had her first one the other day (well, half of one anyway) and loved it. (If you don't know what a bully stick is, here is what is says on the package: "Ingredients - bull pizzle." Yes, bull pizzle. That kinda cracked me up. But I guess it's about the nicest way to put it!)
"My first bully stick!"
"Mm-mmm good! Two dew-claws up!"

Two Other Quick/Amusing Bits of News

Quick news: My website is up! Go to www.jackiebouchard.com and check it out if you have a minute. My friend did the logo for me. She's so talented!

Amusing News: When you have a blog, you get stats about how many visitors you've had and how/where they came to your site from. For me, it's mostly from Tripawds or Facebook, but sometimes there's an amusing Google search that brings someone to my site. Well, today it was a search on "very dirty smooches." Yep, guess what comes up when you search that -- two pages from my blog are the first hits! Lovely. :) One was the "Our Dirty Little Secret" post I did about when we first got Rita and another was a post with a picture of a "very dirty" Rita. Guess I should try to not use the word dirty anymore. Filthy's probably no good either! Will have to go with sandy or muddy from now on!

Thanks for reading! (Or at least looking at the pictures.)

* Don't buy any treats/food for your pet with ingredients from China!!!

April 11, 2012

Hoppy Belated Easter

Hope everyone had a lovely Easter. We didn't do a whole lot, but we did take Rita down to Fiesta Island, which is nice at this time of year when all the daisies are blooming. We tried to recreate the famous Abby lifeguard photo, but Rita wasn't playing along. She was willing to sit next to the lifeguard stand for treats, but wouldn't strike that "lifeguard at the ready pose" that Abby had. (I included the old Abby picture at the bottom, just cuz it's a classic...)
One of the MANY dogs she played with Sunday
Rita loves Fiesta Island and tries to play with every single dog. A lot of people are shocked when their dogs play with her and will say, "My dog never plays with other dogs," which is causing her to start to be well known there. On Tuesday when we went back, I heard a woman yell, "There's Rita!" which was kind of fun as it reminded me of how people would recognize Abby and call out her name. (They never recognize me. It's funny how folks that loved Abby have no idea who I am. But I'm the same - I mostly just know the dogs and the dogs' names!)

We saw three tripawds on Easter Sunday, which was pretty special--and which really made it a hoppy Easter. Unfortunately I was not quick enough to get photos, and they were all heading opposite directions or were too far away so we didn't even get a chance to talk to any of them.

In other Eastery news, my sis and I took a break from felting little wooly pups to felt little wooly bunnies, complete with nests full of colored eggs. It was fun to use some bright colors for a change! We might try doing some birds at some point, just to have fun with some of our colored wool.

Happy Spring everyone!

April 4, 2012

What the Dog Ate - Nonfiction Version

With my book, What the Dog Ate, now available, I thought I'd do a post on dogs and their real life eating adventures. If you've been following, you know Rita recently ate a bird. (In fact, all our dogs wrapped their lips around birds at one point or another.) Well, then just the other day, I brought home a new bag of dog food and dumped it in the big plastic storage bin. I got distracted (oh, something shiny!) and walked off, not realizing I hadn't put the lid on. I'm sure you can see where this is going... but luckily I found Rita with her head in the bin before she had a chance to blow up like the Goodyear blimp. (Like our beagle, Bailey, did once when she let herself into the closet where her food bag was not-so-well-hidden when we didn't come home by her 5.30 dinner time!)

My friend sent Tastykakes! Luckily Rita did NOT eat them.
Rita is actually pretty good about not eating things she shouldn't (well, other than that bird, and there was also a dead gopher incident at the beach). We were a little worried about what she might eat/destroy since her foster mom told us Rita ate an arm chair at her house. (!) Luckily, we've never had a dog that would eat everything that isn't nailed down - but then we've never owned a Lab, like Kona, the dog in my book. Bailey did chew the corner of a coffee table once as a puppy, and Abby tried to work her way through our speaker wire, but other than that we haven't had too many losses to the pups.

A while back on the Tripawds' community site, someone started a topic about "things your dog has eaten with no ill effect." I had nuthin' even close to comparing with what some folks posted. For your enjoyment, here's a partial list. (Remember, these are all with "no ill effects" as the dog either threw up later or things went right on through, so no pups were harmed in the making of this post.)  
  • Raccoon paw
  • Road flair
  • A bunch of dog treats (no big deal, right?) along with the knit Christmas stocking they were in!
  • Typewriter keys
  • A zipper (What would even possess a pup to want to eat a zipper?)
  • Barbie doll legs
  • Tea lights
  • Diapers (Yes. Plural.)
Helpful tip: Did you know if your pup swallows something bad you can give him a teaspoon (or tablespoon if you have a large dog) of hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting? I learned this handy trick from Charley's mom. Charley is my gorgeous cover model, and his mom used this trick to get him to "return" a sock he'd stolen. Read more about how to do it here. Remember, though, in an emergency, call the vet first!

In other What the Dog Ate news - things are going pretty well with book sales. I'm working on getting some book review sites to read it as reviews are a big deal for helping sell books! I've also been working on my web site and will let you know when it's 100% ready to reveal.While working on some marketing ideas for the book, I came across a blog of the same title! It's written by Donna (Hi Donna!), a wife, mother and fellow Californian/dog-pawrent and it features lots of yummy recipes (for humans, not dogs). Check it out, but I don't recommend looking at it while you're hungry as the pictures are drool-worthy. (Personally, I'm thinking of trying the eclairs recipe.... although I should probably be combing the vegetable ones for ideas....)

Finally in some non-eating related news, we felted another little woolen pup. This time it was Tri-pug, Maggie:

Maggie's mom, Karen, was the one that made me the hysterical "lung mints" video. She was very supportive during our journey with Abby's cancer and even though we never got to "meet" Maggie, we love her spirit, which Karen keeps alive on the Tripawds site.

Feel free to share any odd things your dog has eaten in the comments. Thanks for reading!

March 22, 2012

Canine-related Creative Endeavors

As you know from previous pics I've posted of our felted wool creations, we generally like to felt dogs, such as Casanova, pictured here in his "gladiator suit":

In fact, here is our latest project: spirit Gayle, a beautiful, inspirational Tripawd who was "sister" to my friend Charon. We miss you, Gayle! As Charon said, we know Gayle and Abby are together having a great time at the bridge, gossiping over margaritas.

In other endeavors, when I draw, I generally like to draw dogs, like Lou or Abby.

The other day, I even made a sculpture out of dogs. (My Facebook friend, who is a creativity muse, posted a challenge to quickly craft a "sculpture" from things around the house.)
"Plethora of Pups Pyramid"

And when I write, well, I don't always write about dogs, but I do include them in my stories quite often. Which brings me to my big news (which most of you already know), that I e-published my book, What the Dog Ate, this week! It's available via these links on Amazon and Smashwords.

I'm very excited about the book finally getting out to readers. That is my friend Ellen's tripawd Charley on the cover. Isn't he handsome??

Now, just so you don't think I am a crazy dog-obsessed lady, I also like margaritas and professional cycling, and neither of those things involve dogs. (Although those things aren't "creative endeavors"... well, unless you feel more creative after a couple of margs...)

Of course, having said that, I remember several times when dogs have been involved with the Tour de France, such as this instance below. It's usually not pretty when a dog gets involved--at least for the rider who goes down--but this time wasn't too bad:

That led me to wondering about dogs and margaritas and a little search turned up this:
Yep, it's the Bark-a-rita dog food bowl...
Rest assured that I am not ordering one of those for our own little 'Rita! But I hope you will consider ordering What the Dog Ate -- it costs less than a box of dog biscuits!

March 13, 2012

Dog Spa!

Those of you who know how lax the rules for pups are at our house know that this has earned our house the nickname "the dog spa." (Conversely, my sister's house, where our pups always stay when we go away, is known as "the doggy gulag." There are a lotta rules over there. Silly rules - like dogs can't lick the dirty dishes in the dishwasher! Rita says, "Wh...What???")

View from the "lounge" area
But this post is not about our "dog spa" - no, it's about the Dog Spa and Wellness Resort in Desert Hot Springs, which is where we went last week with Rita for vacation. It's a little embarrassing to tell anyone who's not a dog person that you are going to "the Dog Spa" for your vacation. They look at you like they want to ask, "You mean you're going to stay at a kennel?" But I know you dog-loving types will understand. The Dog Spa is a fun spot and the most dog-friendly place we've ever stayed. Once you are inside the gate your pup can go leash free; your dog can sleep with you in the bed (or in the provided dog-bed if your pup prefers); and the dogs are even allowed in the pool (although Rita wanted none of that).

We heard of it because our friends from Tripawds pointed out a photo of the resort in Sunset magazine -- a photo that just happened to have a photograph of their beloved Tripawd, Max, hanging in the background.
That is Max in the photo hanging over "Wrestlemania"

I took a ton of books and magazines with me, thinking I'd get a lot of reading done pool-side, but mostly I just ended up watching Rita have fun. Rita played a lot with the owner's dog, Brad Pit. (She also played with the other guests' dogs but I never managed to have my camera around then!)
Snuggling with Brad Pit
Sharing a drink
More wrestling in the lounge

"Come on, Brad!"

Our vacation exhausted Rita and she's needed another vacation to recover since we got home. It started with the car ride there. Luckily Desert Hot Springs is only ~2 1/2 hours from San Diego, but Rita was on high alert the entire time. She vigilantly watched out the window, turning and looking around at each intersection. We joked that she was memorizing the route in case we dumped her; she wanted to be able to find her way home - but really that's probably what the poor thing was doing. We kept reassuring her that we would not leave her in the desert. After that, we exhausted her some more by walking around the shops in Palm Springs (about 20 min from the Dog Spa) and taking her along to a dog friendly restaurant. Here she is being oh-so-good on her first ever visit to a restaurant.
"Where's my quesadilla??"

We took her along every night when we went out to eat. She was mostly good, but the last night we went to the fanciest of the places we'd been to yet - and of course that was the night she decided to bark at people across the patio when they stood up to leave. So embarrassing! We thought the old couple near us was giving us dirty looks, but they came by on their way out later, all smiles, and actyually thanked us (?!) for bringing Rita to the restaurant. Funny, and cute.

We also wore her out taking her on several hikes, which were generally pretty warm - it being the desert and all.
"It'th too hot! My tongue'th never been thith long before!"
With her pop at the top.

The best hike we did was ~7.2 miles at Mission Creek Preserve. It was breezy that day, so not as hot and it was also fairly flat. The best part for Rita was the creek, where she could lay down and cool off on the way out/back.

These were about the only wildflowers we saw.
Rita & me at the turn-around point
All in all, it was a fun vacation and hopefully we'll get to take Rita there again some time. Now that she knows we won't leave her there, she might enjoy it even more!