These Boots Are Made for Walking

25 02 2010

While we haven’t gotten an unmanageable amount of snow in Denver this winter, we have gotten enough to interfere with Hamlet’s exercise routine.  The winter months have reduced his outdoor excursions to just bathroom breaks while exercise takes place indoors in the form of fetch or other running around Boston Terrorist activities.

Even if there isn’t a lot of snow on the ground (and at our oft-shoveled apartment complex, the sidewalks are usually clear), Hamlet just gets too cold.  He then resorts to minimizing his contact with the cold concrete or snow by picking up one paw at a time so only three paws are touching the ground.

I knew this couldn’t continue so I looked into getting him some boots.  Yes, dog boots.  Not silly little sneakers for “fashion” purposes but real boots to keep his paws warm and safe from the salt.  After doing some research, I settled on Muttluks.  I seriously considered the Ruffwear Bark’n Boots Skyliner but couldn’t find them locally and didn’t want to pay for shipping so the Muttluks won out.

Lately, Ham wishes it were warmer weather.  He hangs out by the pool gate trying to get a read on when the warm weather will return.

"Remind me again, how many months until summer when I can stop wearing these ridiculous boots?"

I don’t think Hamlet is crazy about the boots but he is getting used to them.  Hurried bathroom breaks are a thing of the past.

Take your time, Hamlet, your feet sure won't get cold.

Hamlet is getting better at walking around in the boots and not flopping his legs around like a prancing horse.  The key is to put the boots on and take him right outside for a walk.  He is still getting used to the idea that he can go for a longer walk with the boots on without getting cold.  I am hoping eventually we can build up to real walks so he can get more outdoor exercise in the winter.  Until then, he’s pretty content to stand in the snow without having to act like a tripod.

Four paws in the snow = success.

That’s how this Boston Terrier beats cold feet.  We’ll keep at this cold weather clothing stuff and let you know how it all turns out.

What does your dog do to stay warm when the temperature drops?  Have you purchased clothing for your dog (whether for a practical purpose of just for fun)?  Do you ever take pictures of your dog during a bathroom break?  Just tossing ideas out there so feel free to respond to whatever strikes your fancy.





Happy International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day!

23 02 2010

Today is International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day, always celebrated on February 23rd.  Don’t ask me how this holiday came into being or why it’s celebrated on February 23rd (perhaps every other day was already taken by celebrations such as Talk Like a Pirate Day?).  I just know that it’s a day for the dogs and therefore it is celebrated at my house.

Obviously you’ll want to give your dog a biscuit (or two or three) but the method (or madness) is up to you.  Here’s how it went down at our house.

Here’s Ham’s Corner in our kitchen.  It is really just a section of countertop next to the stove where we keep Ham-related items.  For those of you who are grossed out by keeping dog food items next to the human food prep and cooking area, fear not.  We only keep sealed items in this area so as not to contaminate the human stuff with Boston Terrier-ness (stray hairs, etc.).

Jars of treats, poop bag refills, baby Benadryl, and peanut butter.

I laid out a variety of treats from the big cookie jar.  Bones, soft heart-shaped ones, hot dog-looking ones, Teddy Graham-looking ones – everyone was invited to the party.  Unfortunately we were out of Greenies Pill Pockets, his favorite kind of treat.

Dog treats a-go-go.

Then the celebration really got started because I gave some treats to Hamlet.

"Eating them off the carpet gives it a little something extra. Mmmm..."

I made him do a little bit of work, like “shake.”

"Shake" is still a work in progress, this is as good as it gets so far.

We also worked on “leave it.”  According to Victoria Stilwell (my personal favorite dog trainer), the trick is to place the treat with one hand, have the dog leave it, and then give the reward with your other hand.  Also, use a separate treat than the one you left on their paw so that the dog doesn’t get confused.

What conviction - a treat on his paw and he doesn't even bat an eye.

The celebration concluded by lying down and smiling big, a good way to close out the holiday, in my opinion.

"After a few treats, I enjoy a soft bed and a good blanket."

Did you and your dog celebrate International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day?  Have you ever heard of such a holiday?  Are you pro- or anti-dog treat?  Does your dog have a favorite brand or flavor?  Anything is game here so biscuit away and enjoy the holiday.





These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

19 02 2010

To cap off this week’s love fest, I’m writing a post about a few of the things Hamlet loves best – his favorites.  I call them his loves because they are the things that, as of late, seem to give him the greatest joy (other than just hanging out with me all the time, of course).

Fellow Boston Terrier owners will recognize some of these as tried and true favorites while others may be new to the pack.  In no particular order, I give you Hamlet’s favorites.

1.  Snoozin’ in the sunshine.  Indoors or outdoors, this is a perennial favorite.

Sunning on the balcony.

2.  Foot fighting and foot hunting.  This involves attacking human feet on a whim.  Feet in fuzzy leopard slippers – yes, please!  Feet that just came home after being at work for 10 hours – check!  Feet under a blanket or covering of any kind – he’ll stalk them like a lion on the savannah and pounce on them just the same.

Going in for the kill.

Putting his back into it.

Under the covers? All the better to dig at.

Devil dog never stops!

3.  The blue blanket at the foot of the bed.

Obi-Ham Kenobi

4.  Sleeping under a blanket or any cover (pillows, laundry, he’s not choosy) available.  Yes, I realize the blue blanket is being used twice but Hamlet reeeeeally loves it so it should count double.

Where's Waldo, I mean, the Boston Terrier?

5.  Licking whatever human appendages come within a foot of his face, especially my fingers and – weird alert! – elbows.  Because of this another nickname has been added to the list – Lickyloo.

"How many licks does it take to get to the tootsie roll center of a human finger?"

Really concentrating on his form.

Reckless abandon!

6.  Playing with his stuffed animal dog, Black Dog.  We came up with the incredibly creative and original name Black Dog because Hamlet’s original stuffed dog was red and was appropriately dubbed Red Dog.  I believe Black Dog is a Rottweiler and most of the time Hamlet throws him around, tries to tear out his eyes, and shakes him violently in what I can only assume is an attempt to break his neck.  However, during this photo opportunity they were nothing but best buddies.

Good sit, Black Dog.

Getting a little more comfortable...

Potentially the cutest thing you've ever seen.

It doesn't get much more snuggly than this.

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens Playing with Black Dog and fighting with feet.  Blankets and sleeping in each sun patch I meet.  Snuggling blue blanket, licking fingers with rings.  These are a Boston’s favorite things!

Gather round, it’s sharing time.  What are some of your dog’s favorite things?  They can be activities, toys, sleeping positions, or whatever comes to mind.  So spill the kibble.





Let Me Count the Ways I Love You

18 02 2010

I’ll warn you, this post is going to get mushy.  The kind of mushy where people talk about love to a point that either makes you want to eat a pound of mini Reese’s peanut butter cups or gag or both.  However, hopefully none of those happen to you while reading this because it’s my little love ode to Hamlet.

Don’t start thinking I am some kind of psycho (weird yes, psycho no).  I am talking about the loving friendship and companionship that comes from a human-canine connection.  I love Hamlet.  I just do.  Now let me count the ways.

1. I love when he hides under the bed and peeks out from under the dust ruffle.

I see you.

2. I love that he could care less when I trim his nails and even falls into an almost-asleep-trance.

No restraints or sleep aids necessary.

3. I love the looks he gives me while I’m on the computer.

"You've been on that computer a while. Why don't you take a break and pet me?"

"What's so special about these things anyway?"

"Look! I'm a webcam."

4. I love the spot on his head.

Push black button on top of head to turn Boston Terrier on or off. Note: off position does not work.

5. I love how he can do taco tongue.

"All the better to learn how to use a straw."

6. I love the face he makes when he’s sleepy.

"What? I'm not tired."

7. I love that he listens to me even if he has no idea what I’m talking about.

"Mm hmm, yes, and then what happened?"

There you have it – seven reasons of about one million why I love Hamlet.  As the “Golden Girls” theme song goes, “[his] heart is true, [he’s] a pal and a confidant.”

In the spirit of love and sharing, tell me your thoughts.  What are some of the reasons you love your dog?





Mom and Grammy’s Banana Bread

17 02 2010

Continuing the week of love, today I’m doing Green Eggs and sharing one of my favorite recipes.  “How does it fit in with the love theme?” you might ask.  It’s my mother’s and her mother’s recipe, two people whom I love very much.  I say it’s both of theirs because my Grammy originally made it but I always think of it as my mom’s since she often made it for my brothers and I when we were growing up.

It’s a recipe that I love because it’s easy and I always seem to have the ingredients on hand.  What does it say about me that I usually have butter, sugar, flour, and bananas  on hand but rarely have ingredients at the ready for a salad?  Well, moving on…I think most people enjoy banana bread and if you’re the type who doesn’t make things from scratch or is afraid to bake, this is for you because it doesn’t get much simpler.  It’s a great recipe to make and share with the ones you love.

Mom and Grammy’s Banana Bread

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening or 1 stick butter, softened
3 medium bananas, mashed
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda, dissolved in 3 tablespoons milk or buttermilk
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
Blueberries (optional)
Chocolate chips (optional)
Chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350° F.  Cream together butter and sugar.

Sugar + butter = sutter

2. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Now is also the time for walnuts, chocolate chips, or blueberries if you wish.  Toss any of these extras in a tablespoon of flour before adding to the mixture to ensure they’ll be evenly dispersed throughout the bread and don’t just fall to the bottom.

What I did: forgot to take a picture of ingredients added after sugar and butter.  Instead, got distracted and took pictures of Hamlet.  Decided to use the photo of ingredients laid on the counter as substitute.

Tip: frozen bananas work great, a trick from my mama.  At my house one or two bananas always seem to go brown before I can eat them.  I throw them in the freezer to save for banana bread (part of the reason I always have banana bread ingredients on hand).  The riper the bananas, the better the bread so if yours are totally black, score one for you!

Frozen bananas are a bit more difficult to peel.  With the peel still on, run them under warm water, making the peel easier to remove.  Be mindful of the stringy inner peel parts that stick to the banana even more when it’s frozen.  Feel free to microwave your bowl of bananas to make it easier to mash before adding to the bread batter.

Banana bread ingredients, ready for the party in the bowl.

Hamlet wanting in on the banana bread action.

4. Grease and flour a loaf pan or muffin tin and pour in batter. I used a 12-cup large muffin tin and I had exactly the right amount of batter.  Feel free to use a large loaf pan, a few smaller loaf pans, or whatever strikes your fancy.  I made half plain banana bread and half with blueberries.  For the blueberry kind, I filled the muffin cup halfway, added a few blueberries, filled the rest of the cup with batter, and put a blueberry on top (so once baked, I could tell the difference between plain and regular).

I sprinkled the tops of my muffins with sugar for extra deliciousness.

5. Bake at 350° F for one hour* (if in one loaf pan).  Adjust time for smaller loaf pans or muffins. I baked mine for 40 minutes and they turned out pretty well, maybe a bit more brown than I would have liked but still really yummy.  Just keep checking yours until they are the desired level of brown (probably golden brown) and a fork or toothpick inserted comes out clean or with just a few crumbs (no batter).  *Also keep in mind that I’m at high altitude so may require longer cooking time than those of you at sea level.

The finished product.

5. Taste test your muffins and share as desired. Give a treat to your dog in lieu of banana bread since butter and sugar are canine no-no’s.





Love, Hamlet

16 02 2010

Since I didn’t wish you all a happy Valentine’s Day on February 14th, I am making the love last all week to make up for it.  This doesn’t mean that I will be pushing romance, red roses, and conversation hearts like a used car salesman in need of his next deal.  It does mean that each day this week we’ll be celebrating love, loving friendship, things we love and anything else that strikes our fancy as loving.

Yesterday you saw the valentine Hamlet received from his cousins Mary Kate (human) and Munson (fellow Boston Terrier).  Today I’m showing you how Hamlet sends his Valentines.  The process breaks down as this: I create the cards, and write the message in each (while Hamlet watches adoringly), then Hamlet signs them.

The result is a little something like this (made on http://www.Shutterfly.com):

Hamlet's valentine to his human cousin, Mary Kate.

I included Hamlet and Mike on my valentine to my grandparents.

Hamlet's paw print signature.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little e-valentine from Hamlet.  Consider it a hug with a big lick on the face from ol’ Ham.  His blog readers hold a special place in his heart so he wanted to make sure you all knew that you’re very loved.  Woof xoxo woof.  Love, Hamlet

*Shutterfly did not request that I write this post or reward me in any way for it.  I am simply listing Shutterfly as the source of these particular cards in case you are interested in creating your own and because I personally enjoy Shutterfly and have had great results with their products and services.





Special Delivery

15 02 2010

A few weeks ago Hamlet got his first piece of mail.  Apparently people just can’t express their loving sentiments enough for this little guy because this week he got his second postal delivery.  While Hamlet has been talked about in many an email, these are the first pieces of correspondence where he is the recipient and not just the subject.  I think Hamlet feels pretty special, since snail mail seems to be less and less common these days.  Everybody loves getting mail, right?  Dogs included.

This second piece of mail came from my fellow Boston Terrier lover, Mary.  She is the boy’s sister-in-law and my partner in crime.  Let’s just say Mary and I go together like me and cereal.  Not comfortable with me and cereal?  Then we’ll use a more tried and true analogy – think peanut butter and jelly.  Mary is probably the peanut butter since my name rhymes with jelly.  Back to the mail…

Technically the mail isn’t from Mary; it’s from a couple of really special creatures in this world.  I’ll let the picture speak for itself.  Just be sure to pause and do the necessary “awwwwwww…”  I know you can’t hold back, go ahead.

Mary Kate & Munson live in Ohio so they have never met Hamlet.

Those two little beauties are Mary Kate (Mary’s daughter) and their Boston Terrier, Munson.  Mary Kate and Munson are the best of friends – don’t they make the most adorable team?  They’re stellar valentine makers to boot!

Precious little Mary Kate is on the front of the card.

In Ham’s opinion, this card was super special because it was addressed solely to him.  (Mike and I were simply the intermediaries blessed with opposable thumbs who opened the envelope.)  Plus, he’s two for two in 2010 for receiving mail for major holidays (first New Year’s and now Valentine’s Day).

That’s the latest from Hamlet’s mail bag.  Two pieces of mail and counting.  Before I know it, he’ll be getting his own credit card applications and coupon flyers.

Are you interested in sending Ham a letter but are fresh out of stamps?  Check out the Woof! section in the column at right and send him an email.  It will definitely make his day.