A Crafty Treat for Dogs

I love owning Bichons. My groomer, Pam, says that Bichons are the only breed capable of real love. (Don’t throw things at me! I’m quoting her!)
But Bichons are also prone to a variety of problems, and poor teeth are right up there at the top of the list. They are also very emotionally sensitive. Leaving them behind really makes them upset.
To combat both problems, I’ve come up with this treat. Using Easy Cheese (otherwise know as Cheese Whiz), I squirt a little of the cheesy goo into a Kong, a rubber treat that’s red and reminds me of the Michelin Man.
After I’ve filled all my Kongs (I keep four of them on hand), I pop them into a zipper top plastic bag. These go into the freezer.

Why are these such a great idea? First of all, gnawing on the Kong helps remove dental plaque. Second, because the treat is frozen inside, it takes a long time for Rafferty to get to the good stuff. And third, there’s a small amount of treat per Kong, so it doesn’t upset his tummy or add inches to his svelte waist line. Best of all, I can give one to Raffi when I leave the house so he’s busy and happy while I’m gone.

I love the convenience of reaching into the bag, grabbing a cold Kong, and sharing it with my pet. Let me know if your dog enjoys this, too!

Of Mice and Men and Pigs

A couple of weeks ago I visited the local family-owned hardware store for mouse traps. It’s not that I saw any mice, but I saw a few droppings and I heard the chewing in the walls. We’ve learned the hard way that mice travel in troops, and when the weather changes, they find their way indoors for shelter. David is a masterful mouse-trap setter, but he has one type of trap he prefers, so I’m a picky buyer. While I hate killing the little rodents, they do carry fleas and ticks that harbor Lime Disease, so I feel I must keep my family and my dogs safe. Spring loaded traps kill quickly and humanely, whereas poison can be eaten by dogs or kids. For a week thereafter, we caught a mouse a day.

I love hardware stores, and this one is particularly wondrous, full of nuts, bolts, tools, small appliances, fertilizer, and most delightfully, an indoor farmers’ market. That day there was a special treat: the owner brought his pet pot-belly pig. I’ve never “met” a pig before, so I asked permission to scratch her behind her ears. When I did, she had a surprise for me–she fell over on her side as if dead.

Of course, I was appalled. I thought I’d killed her. Turns out she just loves to be scratched and that’s her way of showing her enthusiasm. Her owner explained that she is very smart, smarter than a dog, and very clean.

Which brings to mind another neighborhood pig. This one is made of concrete. The story is that one brother gave the other a silly gift. The second brother, wishing to “get back” at his sibling, retaliated with this concrete pig, thinking that he was really “pimping” his brother by giving him something so hard to move. But the second brother had a playful streak, so instead of moving the pig and getting rid of it, he set it out in his front yard. Now he changes the pig’s wardrobe and setting to match the seasons.

I love this pig. I’ve forgotten it’s name, but I take my dogs on daily walks around the pig to see its seasonal changes. I’ve told the family how much joy they have given me.

That’s something I love, the unintended positive consequences of living an interesting life. I’m sure that Brother #2 wasn’t thinking, “Boy, will I make Joanna Slan’s day.” He was just doing this thing. But he has made my day. I enjoy his sense of humor.

As they say in the South, “I’m with the pig.”

The Return on Our Investment

I love this photo. My new pal Donna Manz took it for the Vienna (VA) Connection. You can read the entire article here.

That’s Vicky, on the left. You can’t see her harness, but of course, it is pink. She’s a girly-girl of a dog. We “adopted” Victoria in England, so she’s a British Bichon and a little smaller than the American breed. Since her father was an English champion, Vicky is a bit of a princess. Sarah, one of the adorable little girls who lives down the street, told me (with a look of total sincerity on her face), “When I die, if I come back, I want to come back as Victoria.”

Sarah also said, “I’m not sure if Vicky’s very smart or not.”

I said, “Oh, she’s plenty smart. Let me ask you, does Vicky get you to do exactly what she wants?”

“Hmm. You’re right!” said Sarah.

Believe me, Vicky knows her loyal subjects. She only does what she wants, when she wants.

And that’s Rafferty on the right with the blue harness. He’s a Bichon-Poodle mix. Would you call that a Bi-Poo? (You might if you knew Raffi!) He’s only got three legs, but golly, he certainly makes the most of all three. He can jump up on furniture, a trick Vicky only recently mastered. (Actually, I think she was simply accustomed to having us, her humble servants, lift Her Majesty.)

They’re my posse. When I’m hard at work writing, they keep me company by sitting in my office. Raffi whines unless I get him his own cushion because Vicky does NOT like to share. At night, Raffi jumps from sofa to chair to my lap. He doesn’t know he’s too big to be a lap dog!

Yeah, it’s a bit of a hassle to plan for letting them out or getting dog sitters, but you know, I’d be so very, very lonely all day without them. When they’re at the groomers, I feel a bit lost.

David and I were talking the other day about traveling, and we decided that we want to go places where we can bring the dogs along, too. It’s just hard on all of us to leave them in a kennel or with sitters.

I realize that a lot of folks decide that once their children leave the nest, it’s best not to be encumbered by a pet. But, our dogs own our hearts. They’ve made our new house a home. They’re my posse, my small, furry personal herd of friends.

So if we have to open a wallets a bit more frequently, if we have to work a little harder at planning our lives, and if we have to glance at our watches and race home to let them out…it’s really such a small price to pay for all the love we get in return.