Ham Burrito

29 01 2010

This is the first installment of A Day in the Ham.  Consider it a spin on “a day in the life” in which we’ll examine the many facets of Hamlet’s everyday life.  A photo or two, a sentence or two, hopefully providing you with a small break from your everyday life to laugh, “oooh,” “ahhh,” ponder, and boost your hamminess happiness.

So, without further ado, I give you the Ham burrito (a.k.a. hung over Ham after too much tequila):

Roll 20 pounds of ham in a tortilla, I mean Mexican blanket, and serve warm inside a blue crate.

Hamlet loves to burrow under blankets and pillows.  He rarely goes inside his crate but on this night a few weeks ago found it particularly alluring.  All he had to do was ball up his blanket in there, burrow underneath it and voilà! – cozy as the Four Seasons (or should I say Cuatro Estaciones?).


Removing the Bark from the Bite

27 01 2010

A couple of weeks ago while I was up in Hamlet’s face snuggling Hamlet on the couch I noticed that his breath smelled.  Not the horrible, awful, no good, very bad dog breath that some dogs get.  Just a little more stinky than his otherwise neutral breath.  His breath hasn’t ever smelled in the six months that we’ve had him so far but I now consider this to be by the grace of the Dog God because we haven’t ever brushed his teeth.

I know – I’m a horrible dog owner!  The training DVD that came with the training book we bought when we adopted Hamlet said you should brush your dog’s teeth once a day.  Once!  A!  Day!  I’m sorry but that seemed excessive to me so I made it my goal to brush Ham’s once per week.  I did really well, too, brushing his teeth all of zero times in the first six months we had him.  What was my excuse, you ask?  As previously stated, I’m a horrible dog owner.  I almost completely forgot. I hadn’t purchased his toothbrush and toothpaste yet.

In any case, the smelly breath was the catalyst to Ham getting his teeth brushed.  After purchasing this canine toothbrush kit at Target, we were in business.  The kit includes a toothbrush, canine toothpaste, and a fingertip toothbrush.  The fingertip brush fits over the top of your finger so you don’t have to wrangle your dog’s mouth open and dexterously maneuver a traditional toothbrush at the same time.   Hamlet is very patient about most things (getting his harness or t-shirt on and off, getting his nails trimmed) but I don’t know many dogs that like to have their mouths opened by humans so the finger brush is my new best friend.

ProPet Dental Oral Care Starter Kit (image courtesy of Target)

The kit says to feed the dog a bit of toothpaste so they can get used to it and then proceed with brushing.  I thought Ham would be gung-ho (is it “gung-ho” or “gun-ho”? I’m using “gung” as “gun” sounds a bit aggressive for the Ham) for toothpaste.  He LOVES human toothpaste, after all.  I know this because he smells it when I brush my teeth and comes a-runnin’ to the bathroom, sits down on the bath mat, and patiently waits and hopes for toothpaste-foamy drool to drop on the floor.  Or he will lick it off my face if I make the mistake of sitting on the bed while brushing my teeth.  Or sometimes I feed him a small dollop off my finger.  I don’t feel bad about the feeding part as a) I reason that it’s minty and helps with his breath, b) he loves the taste, c) it’s probably low-cal, and d) after purchasing the dog stuff, I discovered it’s essentially the same ingredients.

Back to the task at hand – dog tooth brushing!  As directed, I fed him some canine toothpaste so he’d get used to it, thinking he would die and go to heaven over the wonderful taste.

Hamlet's first taste of dog toothpaste.

He was less than impressed and kept making a weird face.  It was hard to capture on camera because the little guy moves pretty fast but Mike did his best with this one:

"You lied. This tastes nothing like human toothpaste."

I waited a minute or two for him to settle down and not suspect I was up to something.  Then I loaded up the finger brush with about half a dime sized amount of paste and peeled back his lips to scrub his pearly whites.

Getting his front teeth with the fingertip brush.

As I expected, this was less than successful.  Hamlet’s main goal was to get my fingers out of his mouth and secondarily to close his mouth and get it away from my wiley grip.  My grip on his mouth/head wasn’t so wiley after all because peeling back his lips sort of covers up his nose because he is snub-faced.  I have to be careful that he can still breathe while I brush.  I may have waited six months to brush his teeth but I’m not going to have him pass out for lack of oxygen during the first go-round!

"I said get that thing away from me!"

I did my best and reasoned that I would keep at it (once a week) so that he gets used to it and it becomes easier with each brushing.

Your teeth look grrrrreat, Ham.

It’s been two weeks since I last brushed his teeth.  So…any recommendations for dog breath fixers?  Treats?  Mints?  Pick your poison and pass them along to a girl in need.

*My apologies for the sub-par quality of the photos.  We have a very hard time capturing photos where Hamlet’s eyes are not blue. We’re obviously amateur photogs!

Dear Cash

18 01 2010

Dear Cash,

I know you’ve already been officially introduced to the blog world but I want to be the first dog to welcome you to your new life in which my mom’s best friend Amanda and her beau Aaron will take care of you no matter what.

Amanda's new Labrador puppy, Cash.

I welcome you with especially open paws, as up until now they have only had a cat (Trigger, we’ll discuss him some other time).  And you know should learn this old saying – Dogs Rule, Cats Drool!  Cats simply can’t do the work of dogs.  Now, I know you may be a bit worried at the mention of “work,” being that you’re only 11 weeks old.  Well, take it from me (a wiser and more handsome 17 month old), this work is the best kind because you get stuff in return.  All you have to do is unquestionably love and be loyal to Amanda and Aaron, your humans.  Be kind and polite to other humans too but A & A are always your first priority.

"Pay attention, this is important."

You may be asking, “but what do I get in return for all of this hard work?”  Well, you’ll feel happier than you ever have before.  (“Happy” is that warm, fuzzy feeling that you get when good stuff happens.)  First, you’ll learn new things like sit, stay, come, down, and anything else A & A can cram into that always-on-the-go puppy brain of yours.  Second, I know you’re a baby so you may not remember everything, but coming from a shelter and a foster home you must be confused as to why you keep moving around.  Well, worry no more because you’re here to stay.  Aaron and Amanda are your humans and they are always on your side, are always looking out for you, and will always do so.

"Make yourself at home because you are."

Finally, have fun.  This is the beginning of your new life – it’s awesome!  I’m doing the rope dance in celebration.

"Jumping up and down and rearing up on your hind legs shows the humans that you're excited."

Oh, and one more thing, in addition to your standard food, water, and shelter, you get all kinds of great extras like treats, the occasional scrap of human food (just wait – you’ll love it!) and toys.  I highly recommend squeaky rubber cats as the best toys but that football you’ve got looks like a pretty good start.

Hopefully Shelley will soon spring for my first plane ticket so I can come out to Sacramento and meet you dog-to-dog.  I’ll be the handsome Boston Terrier wearing the tuxedo.  Until then, have fun and don’t go to the bathroom anywhere indoors (for some reason the humans don’t like it and then they cut down on your treats).

Dogs Rule,


Great Christmas Wrap-Up of 2009

5 01 2010

The wrapping and unwrapping of gifts is all done but the story of Hamlet’s and my Christmas isn’t so without further ado (I’m already eleven days late!), I give you the great Christmas wrap-up of 2009.  And if you’re completely out of holiday spirit and resent the “wrap” pun, then just consider it a summary of what Ham and I did over Christmas.

We’re Christmas Eve people in my family.  What does this mean, you ask?  It means that all the action takes place on Christmas Eve: we have our big dinner on Christmas Eve, we open ALL of our gifts (except stockings from Santa) on Christmas Eve, and my brothers and their significant others and the boy and I spend the night at my mom and stepdad’s house.  The sleepover allows us to maximize playing Wii and drinking Maker’s and Coke family time together.  The great bonus for me this year was that Hamlet also got to spend the night.  He loves my family and my family loves him so there was lots of canine Christmas merriment.

A group photo by the tree is a must every year. Thank goodness for auto timers on cameras.

We ate our traditional Christmas dinner of lasagna (my parents started this tradition a million years ago so there was little time spent on cooking and cleanup and lots of emphasis on playing with new toys and celebrating).  No, we’re not Italian, we just happen to like easy-to-make dishes of baked pasta, delicious sauce, and warm, gooey cheese.

Hamlet wore his red t-shirt for the occasion so he was sure to look festive.  I tried finding him some Christmasy pajamas for the sleepover.  I envisioned bright red long johns with a trap door but could only find this weird tank top, elastic anklet onesie thing at PetsMart that the boy deemed “grandma’s nightgown” so no pajamas were had. Sorry, no pictures of “Grandma’s nightgown” because my camera battery died in PetsMart right as I whipped it out to capture Ham’s humiliation.

Hamlet getting in the Christmas spirit. Don't ask why the stuffed animals are wrapped in plastic; it's a long story.

After Christmas dinner we always celebrate with a chocolate shot.  A chocolate shot (or a “chocolate cordial glass” if you’re fancy) is just that – a shot glass made of chocolate.  We fill ours with our liquor of choice (this year it was Kahlua) and down them after dinner (drink the liquor, eat the shot glass).  No, we’re not boozehounds.  No, we’re still not Italian.  My mom found the chocolate shots a few years ago and purchased them as a joke and they’ve been a tradition ever since.  There was a close call this year where we could find no chocolate shots and us boozehounds were in a total depression we thought we might have to go without but thankfully my stepdad came to the rescue and found some last minute.  Thanks Steve!  It wouldn’t have been Christmas without chocolate-Kahlua-y goodness.

My brother and his fiance enjoying their shots.

The boy in the chewing phase of his chocolate shot.

Gift opening was next – it’s the best part because it’s when we make the most jokes.  My niece was just shy of one year old this year but she got in on some unwrapping with help from her dad (my brother).  Of course the tissue paper was much more interesting to her than any of her presents.

My brother, my niece, and her beloved tissue paper.

My mom hugging her present. I think she reeeally liked it.

My stepdad in his brand new Broncos hoodie.

My brother acting fancy in his new cardigan.

My soon to be sister-in-law showing off her new tortillera (tortilla holder).

My boy testing out his new golf shoes.

My sister-in-law, mom, and niece checking out my niece's gifts.

One of my favorite parts of gift opening was when I realized I hadn’t seen The Ham in a while and said to everyone, “where’s Hamlet?”  Everyone looked around for a second and then my stepdad said, “he’s under the tree.”  As soon as we had moved some gifts out of the way he had snuggled under the tree.  We guessed that he liked the heat from the Christmas lights.  Since I know my Ham, I also know that any blanket (read: tree skirt) on the floor is fair game for him to burrow into and make a Ham-nest.

No Snuggie necessary.

The boy then said, “can you imagine if you had found Ham under the tree last year as one of your gifts?”  Yes, it would have been great to see little Hamlet last year as a gift under the tree (he would have been about 4 months old in Christmas of 2008 and I’m sure the cutest Boston Terrier puppy you’d ever seen).  I’m just glad we have him period and seeing him under the tree just made my heart melt.  I’m sure the laughter of my niece playing with tissue paper, being surrounded by family, and drinking and eating for eight hours straight helped with the heart melting too.

What is your favorite Christmas memory of 2009?

New Year’s Greetings

5 01 2010

I know I’m a bit late in sending out glad tidings for the New Year but I blame it on my utter lack of blogging and on spending the weekend skiing – my apologies.  However, in the mail today I found a great little greeting card for New Year’s that my mom and stepdad sent to Hamlet, the boy, and me.  Taking a cue from this Hamburger’s House post, I couldn’t help posing Hamlet with the card.

Hamlet takes a more relaxed pose than his regal New Year's-reveling friend.

Don’t believe that my mom would write a card to Hamlet?  The envelope was addressed to me and the boy but on the inside you can see who is most important in my mother’s eyes:

The card is addressed to "Hamlet, Mike, and Shelley*" Mom indicates that the asterisk (*) signifies she listed us in alphabetical order. She is ever the fair one, that Mama o' mine.

Did you also note how she refers to herself as “Grammy”?  Yep, she’s head over heels for Hamlet.  But how can I blame her?  🙂

Belated best wishes for a wonderful 2010 to you and your canine friends from Hamlet, the boy, and me!