Happy National Dog Day to You and Birthday to Me!

26 08 2009

Today is August 26th, also known as National Dog Day as well as my birthday.  I can’t help but think that it is uber-appropriate that dog-loving me shares a birthday with National Dog Day.  For the record, it is also Shirley Manson’s (born 1966, singer for the band Garbage), John Wilkes Booth’s (born 1838, assassin of President Abraham Lincoln), and Macaulay Culkin’s (born 1980, actor in Home Alone movies) birthday.  August 26, 1920 was also the day that the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution took effect, granting women the right to vote.  I’d say all in all it’s a heck of a day to be born!

The National Dog Day was created “to honor dogs more than we currently do , to give them “a day,” to show deep appreciation for our long connection to each other – for their endearing patience, unquestioning loyalty, for their work, their capacity for love and their ability to impact our lives everyday in the most miraculous ways” (Source: NationalDogDay.com).  The holiday serves as a sort of “K-9 Independence Day” to honor dogs and help support, rescue, and protect dogs in need.  In that spirit, I’d like to share with you some of my favorite dog organizations.  Just so you know that I’m too legit to quit, I am not paid or endorsed by any of these organizations or companies; I simply like the work that they do and want to spread the word.

Petfinder holds a special place in my heart because it is how we found our little Hamlet.  The website offers a searchable database of animals in need of adoption.  It is also a directory of over 12,500 animal shelters and rescue groups across the USA, Canada, and Mexico.  Their goals are to “increase public awareness of the availability of high-quality adoptable pets and increase the overall effectiveness of pet adoption programs across North America to the extent that the euthanasia of adoptable pets is eliminated.”  Hamlet is living proof!

Freekibble is a website where visitors answer the daily trivia question and kibble is then donated to 13 different animal shelters from Oregon to Florida.  Don’t worry, the kibble is still donated whether you get the trivia question correct or not.  The site was started by 12 year old Mimi Ausland because she “wanted to help feed the hungry animals at her local animal shelter.”  Go Mimi!  Click over today and donate some yum yums to those pooches in need.

Play trivia, donate dog food, everybody wins!

Play trivia, donate dog food, everybody wins!

MaxFund is an animal shelter in my hometown of Denver, Colorado.  I love MaxFund because they are truly a no-kill shelter (no sorting of animals into “adoptable” and “not adoptable”) and will house or foster the animals until they have found a new home, no matter how long it takes.  They make sure the dogs and cats are in tip-top medical condition thanks to the MaxFund Wellness Center, which also offers low cost health care to local dogs and cats.

Ruff Wear is an amazing dog gear company based out of Bend, Oregon.  They produce everything your own Hamlet needs, from dog boots to dog first aid kits.  Each product goes through a rigorous testing process, completed by the Ruff Wear staff and their canine companions so you know that everything is dog-tested and dog-approved.  Hamlet and I have our eyes on the Skyliner Bark’n Boots as well as the K-9 Overcoat for our outdoor adventures in the Colorado winter.

A Ruff Wear dog sporting a Float Coat life jacket and a Hover Craft frisbee.

A Ruff Wear dog sporting a Float Coat life jacket and a Hover Craft frisbee.

And if you’re in the mood for something fun, head over to Crayola where they have coloring pages, crafts, and e-cards for National Dog Day.

An e-card from Crayola honoring National Dog Day.

An e-card from Crayola honoring National Dog Day.

It truly is the dog days of summer, now that we know it’s National Dog Day.  How will you celebrate? Or, feel free to share your favorite birthday celebration tactics.

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A Hamlet By Any Other Name…

21 08 2009

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” -William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Act II Scene II

1968 Romeo and Juliet movie poster. Image from teachwithmovies.org

1968 Romeo and Juliet movie poster. Image from teachwithmovies.org

No, this isn’t a post about love, romance, soul mates, or undying devotion; it is about Hamlet’s many nicknames.  Shakespeare simply said it better than anyone: with a different name, he would still be the same adorable, funny, carrot-loving, snoring, black and white little bundle of joy.  This post is dedicated to his many nicknames.  I haven’t used any of them previously on the blog to avoid confusion and annoyance.  However, I can’t resist sharing his nicknames with you any longer and after this it will probably be open season on nicknames in blog posts.

During the Great Boston Terrier Search of 2009 (a.k.a. when Mike and I were checking Petfinder every day for a suitable Boston Terrier), we often contemplated what we’d name the little beast.  Many names were thrown out as ideas and a list was even compiled one afternoon over beer, hot pretzels with cream cheese, and burgers at My Brother’s Bar.  One day we came up with Hamlet and fell in love with it.  When we visited Hamlet while he was being fostered by MidAmerica Boston Terrier Rescue, his foster mother Jami referred to him as “a real ham” and that sealed the deal.  With the name Hamlet in mind, we already knew we would probably often refer to him as Ham.  I had no idea how many nicknames would be concocted from his simple Shakespearean beginnings:

The Ham Man

Hambone

Ham Hock

Haminator

Hamster

Hammer

Ham and Cheese

Hammy

Hammakin Skywalker

Hammo

Hampson

Monkey (Courtesy of my friend Melissa, don’t ask me the relevance to “Hamlet” but it sure is cute to hear her call him this.)

Froggy (Mike coined this one after a certain face Hamlet makes – ears back against his head, eyes wide, and a pleadingly sweet look on his face.)

Ham Sandwich

Hamley

Ham-a-lama-lama-ding-dong

I’m sure there are more to come.  I thought with this series of nicknames it was only appropriate to share a series of photos.

Hamlet Sleeping in Blue Bed

Sleeping

Squinting

Squinting

Sniffing

Sniffing (The red and white Boston was Hamlet's foster brother Dylan.)

No, all of the photos are not going to have captions beginning with “s.”  Ok, maybe one more:

Sunning on the balcony.

Sunning on the balcony.

Eating.

Eating.

Doing the rope dance.

Doing the rope dance.

Goofing off with me. (I am obviously an amateur photographer, hence his creepy blue-cast eyes!)

Goofing off with me. (I am obviously an amateur photographer, hence his creepy blue-cast eyes!)

A little bit Froggy.

A little bit Froggy.

Good sit, now lick...

Good sit, now lick...

"Huh?"

"Huh?"

"No, seriously, what did you say?"

"No, seriously, what did you say?"

Do you have any more nicknames for Hamlet?  Did I miss any?  What is your dog’s name and does she/he have a nickname?





Look Out, Smokey the Bear

20 08 2009

Eric, a good friend of mine and Mike’s, organized a camping trip for Labor Day weekend – I’m so excited for three days in the Colorado wilderness.  We’re going to Blue Mesa Reservoir in Curecanti National Recreation Area near Gunnison, CO.  Blue Mesa Res is Colorado’s largest body of water (we’re a dry state, people, don’t hate) and is about four and a half hours southwest of Denver.  Hamlet will be an honored guest (by “honored,” I mean four-legged and likes to scent mark on things).  This will be his first camping trip with us and I expect he’ll love it.  Eating food cooked on a campfire (although Ham will be on a dog food only diet after his weekend with Gabe and Kari), sleeping outdoors, running around all day outside – what’s not to love?

About a month ago Mike, Hamlet, some friends, and I went out on Eric and his wife Kelly’s boat on Cherry Creek Reservoir in Denver.  I was so excited to see Hamlet at a big body of water and out on the boat doing his nautical thing.  I knew he would probably be ho-hum about the water part because our previous walks near creeks and ponds, urging him to wade in were not so successful.  I still thought a day at the reservoir would be fun for him and while it was, he was even more ho-hum while riding in the motor boat.  While I had visions of him in a little doggie life vest (not sure where this vision of a vest came from as we don’t own one), sitting on my lap, tongue flapping in the wind, he preferred to lay at Eric’s feet and nap.

This was as lively as Hamlet got while boat riding.
This was as lively as Hamlet got while boat riding.

Good thing our friends Teresa and Steve were there with their yellow Labrador, Gunner, and jazzed things up on shore.

Teresa, Steve, and Gunner.

Teresa, Steve, and Gunner.

Hamlet would wait for Gunner to fetch his buoy and then would try to steal it and take all of the fetching credit.  The buoy was about half the size of Ham so it was quite entertaining.

Gunner Hamlet Cherry Creek Res
Hamlet, ready to steal the glory from Gunner.

Anyway, I am eager to see Hamlet at another, larger reservoir and for an extended period of time to see what he does.  This time I am envisioning some sort of Hamlet versus Smokey the Bear fire extinguishing competition.  Smokey could use his 65 years of knowledge and expertise and Hamlet could use his penchant for peeing outdoors.

A 1940s poster featuring Smokey the Bear. Image from SmokeyBear.com
A 1940s poster featuring Smokey the Bear. Image from SmokeyBear.com
Hamlet Pit Stop
Hamlet showing off his peeing prowess.

I’ll be busy boating, hiking, eating, drinking, sleeping, and sunning so there won’t be any blogging over Labor Day weekend but you can bet I’ll give you the post-camping rundown when I return.  I’m gathering tips for camping with a dog so if you have any good ones or stories, do share!





Book Review: The Art of Racing In the Rain

13 08 2009

I recently read The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein and I wanted to share it with all of you fellow dog lovers.  It tells the story of Enzo, a wonderfully insightful mixed breed dog and his owner, Denny, an aspiring professional race car driver.

Art of Racing In the Rain CoverThe book is written entirely from Enzo’s point of view, which not only gives it a fun twist but provides the reader with an unusual and fresh perspective on the human experience.  Enzo is a fiercely persistent observer and the epitome of man’s best friend.  While Denny struggles to live up to his own expectations professionally, Enzo practices becoming civilized and mourns the fact that he does not have opposable thumbs.

Enzo is a bit of a philosopher and while I was afraid I would become bored with his musings or find them unbelievable, I found myself amused  and even cheered up by Enzo’s reflections.  If they had come from a human perspective I think they would have come across as trite or contrived. Thankfully Enzo’s canine outlook was conveyed as delightfully simple instead.  For those familiar with The Art of Racing in the Rain or intrigued by these “Enzo-isms,” Garth Stein’s website offers merchandise in the Enzo Store.

The Art of Racing In the Rain was a very quick read for me but also very enjoyable.  I think you’ll enjoy Enzo’s observations and sense of humor and find yourself logging away his phrases to remind yourself of later.  While it is what I consider a light read, it tells an approachable yet varied story in a steady and warm tone.

After the boy and I see movies, he always asks me to rate it with a system unique to that movie (similar to the four star rating system often used for movies, books, or restaurants).  For example, since I enjoy Star Wars I would give it four out of four light sabers (where a light saber is equal to a star) while my dislike of horror films would be evident in giving The Exorcist a half of a vomiting, spinning head.  The idea is to use something more interesting and unique than simple stars and that I pick something from the book that intrigues you, my dear readers (all three of you), into reading the book for yourselves.  Without further ado, Hamlet and I give The Art of Racing In the Rain three out of four dancing zebras.

Do you have any dog books that you’d like to recommend?  If you give me a goodie, I may just review it right here on GE&H!

Special thanks to my friend Priscilla for gifting this book to me the minute that I told her the boy and I were adopting a dog.





Old Blog, New Tricks

12 08 2009

I don’t know if one month and 19 days (but only four previous posts) counts this blog as “old” (I would say no) but it definitely has a new trick: a new custom header!  You may remember the original header, courtesy of the wonderful Amanda from modernation.

Old_Blog_Appearance

However, after the great Hamlet-got-into-some-human-food email thread, my brother Gabe said, “Since I feel bad about the human food, here is some help with your blog. Love, Gabe” and sent me a couple of options for new custom headers.  I didn’t even ask him – what a great bro I have!  So, you now see the new and improved, black and red, Shakespeare’s Hamlet meets Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham custom header.  A hearty, Hamlet-y thank you goes out to Gabe and his photoshop skills.  I couldn’t have done it without him.  No, literally, I couldn’t have.  I don’t know how to edit photos and don’t own a copy of Photoshop or any other photo editing tools.  Why do you think Amanda created the first one?

Another option Gabe created for the custom header.

Another option Gabe created for the custom header.

You may wonder how I blog without knowing how to edit photos.  The truth is, I fake it.  I use screen shots from Jing for some things and others I just do my best by cropping or resizing.  Other than that (like how Gabe neatly separated Hamlet’s head from his body to create a creepy-but-cool little floating Hamlet head for the header), I have no idea.  The blog was the first step and the photo editing is the next.  Wish me luck.

In the meantime, any tips you’d like to provide regarding custom headers or photo editing?  Comments about the new header and how great my friends and brother are are also welcomed.





Hamlet the Houseguest

11 08 2009

Last weekend I was in Boulder, CO for a very close friend’s wedding.  The wedding was absolutely beautiful and it was a raucous time to get to see all of my friends from college, a sort of reunion and wedding all rolled into one.  While I spent last Wednesday through Friday at various wedding-related events, the boy and Hamlet held down the fort at home.

The bride walks down the aisle with her dad.

The bride walks down the aisle with her dad.

On Saturday, however, the boy and I stayed overnight in Boulder for the wedding.  Since we were going to be gone most of the day Saturday and not returning until later Sunday afternoon, it was only logical to leave Hamlet with someone.  My mom and stepdad did a great job of watching him while we spent five days in Ohio in July but my parents were also invited to this wedding and were also staying overnight in Boulder so they were not an option.  Most of my friends whom I would trust to watch Hamlet were also going to the wedding so I asked my brother Gabe and his girlfriend Kari if they would petsit Hamlet while we were gone.  After a warning from Kari that Hamlet shalt not “drop any deuces on the floor” while at their house, the plans were made.

Mike dropped Hamlet off at Wash Park with Gabe and Kari while they were playing kegball (I assume this is some combination of kickball and drinking from a keg, although I can’t say for sure, having never participated myself) with his basic care instructions (walks, bathroom breaks, no human food).  As pet parents are prone to do, throughout the weekend the boy and I wondered how he was getting along and if he was behaving well.  Then while coordinating Hamlet’s pickup on Sunday afternoon, I received the following text message from Gabe: “Call me that is fine may keep him though sorry.”  My parents had had the same reaction (threatened not to return him) after watching Hamlet for five days – he must really be a good houseguest!

Hamlet’s pickup went off without a hitch and while Gabe had to hurry off to a photo shoot for his clothing company, I asked him if Hamlet was well behaved.  Amazed, he replied, “He didn’t even pick up a sock off the floor or anything!”  Back at home, the boy and I and our friends Amanda and Aaron were enjoying some post-wedding rest on the couch when Hamlet filled the room with a no-bones-about-it dog fart.  Several more came after that.  Then the boy took a nap in the bedroom for a while and when he woke up searched for five minutes for where Hamlet had pooped in the house because it smelled so foul.  Amanda, Aaron and I explained that he had been hanging out with us the whole time and had not pooped, only dropped his farts on us like Napalm on the Vietnam jungle.

Yesterday a few emails went around about Hamlet’s stay at their house.  Here’s a great one from Kari:

Kari_Email_1

Kari_Email_2

Kari_Email_3

Yes, the image quality is not the greatest but focus your eyes on the gastronomic wonder that is “some human food (meat, cupcakes, etc.)!”  Apparently meat and cupcakes are only the least of Hamlet’s problems since “etc.” could entail anything.  Kegball probably includes potato and/or macaroni salad but what about watermelon…our friendly intestinal nightmare, corn…or – horror of horrors – baked beans!  I was attributing Hamlet’s upset stomach to nerves or getting into a few morsels at the kegball bbq but then find out that he had been hanging out in the lap of meat, cupcakes, and etc. luxury.  What a weekend for him and what a Sunday night for us, gagging and fanning in fresh air through the sliding glass door.

I think we can all agree that dog farts are the worst; they seem so much more potent than their human counterparts.  Or, as Aaron put it, “dog farts are sticky, they hang around for a while.”  Does anyone have a nightmare dog fart story to share?