Category Archives: Dog ownership

Stuff my dog has eaten

The first in what I hope will be a brief series chronicling items that my 9-lb Chihuahua-terrier mix has chewed or eaten.

  • Lamp cord (floor lamp, thankfully not plugged in)
  • Pashmina scarf
  • Xbox ear bud cover
  • PlayStation earpiece
  • Various receipts
  • ABC (already been chewed) gum found on walks
  • Glass – found on a walk, but I quickly traded her for a training treat and averted disaster

We’re back in obedience class, so hopefully we’ll find some new techniques to reinforce the command “Leave it.” I read that it is a common Chihuahua trait to steal things and to snatch anything that falls on the ground. “Leave it” works when we place her food on the floor or if we play a game with a treat. But if we drop anything (edible or otherwise), she’s quick to snatch it and run. She’s responding well to the class so far, so I’m hopeful that we’ll make progress for her own safety’s sake.

It’s kind of funny to guess what the colorful blob is in her poop (there was an incident with crayons left on the ground outside our apartment), but I could certainly live without that game. It’s also really gross and sad when you have to help pull the poop out of her butt because the string she ate is still partially inside her. I’ve developed quick reflexes when it comes to spotting and blocking wrappers, string, gum, and other delicious garbage on our walks.


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We took two weekend trips on September. In addition to our Big Bear adventure, we had a quick trip into the nearby San Jacinto Mountains for a night of camping. Hurkey Creek Park is just an hour from home, but the weather is much cooler. It was a great respite from the relentless heat of late summer in the desert. Some locals had recommended it as a pet-friendly place, so we decided to give it a try.

Armed with Pierogi’s sweater that we bought on a previous trip to the mountains, we headed out to escape the heat and test our pup’s mettle. Since it was so close to home, it was a great way to see how the dog would react to a night in a campground. Turns out she did well, but we did not. She was warm in her fuzzy purple sweater and loved sniffing around the park and paths.

I, however, apparently forgot how to pack for a car camping trip. Knowing the pup would want to snuggle up with us for warmth, I decided to leave the sleeping bags at home and sleep on the air mattresses with blankets. We could all sleep under one blanket instead of being zipped up like mummies. But I only brought two blankets; one went between us and the air mattresses, leaving one thin blanket to cover us. Coupled with the fact that I left my sweatshirt on the stairs at home and wore just my hot-weather t-shirt and shorts, it was a bad move. I didn’t bring my hat, either. We two humans shivered all night while our pup kept warm. At least part of my leg was warmed by her little body.

Additionally, I forgot a few cookout staples. We’re pretty adaptable, so dinner and breakfast weren’t a complete wash. But bringing a coffee-pot and no coffee made the chilly morning less comfortable. There were other oversights, too, including a cool new grilling tool I found at Goodwill recently. As a result I have now created a camping checklist. Once it is finalized, I’ll print it and laminate it so that we can check items off as we pack them. It might sound a bit extreme, but it will keep us from freezing or missing out on meals when we camp.

I’m looking forward to another camping trip with the pup in some local parks, as well as a pup-less night under the stars in Joshua Tree National Park.

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Filed under Dog ownership, Life in Coachella Valley

The pup-mobile

With both of us working, and with the days getting shorter, walking the dog poses some challenges. One of the reasons we chose our apartment is that it is within walking distance of a terrific dog park. I’d been taking the dog to the park daily over the summer, getting up early before the heat settled in. Now that the weather is cooling, we can go in the evening after work without burning our pup’s paws on the hot sidewalk. But dog walks now happen in the dark. I wake up at 5:45 AM to walk her before work, but I stick to our complex and the people park next door. Both are well-lit and have people milling about so I feel rather safe. I bring along a flashlight since the walks are now entirely before sunrise.

At night, the bf and I have been walking to and from the dog park together. I won’t walk alone, as the stretch between my complex and the dog park is undeveloped land surrounded by fencing. Since the day we moved in, I’ve noted a few areas that appear to be perfect for a homeless encampment. (Years as a single woman living alone leave me predisposed to notice all areas where there might be people or dangers hiding.) One evening, as I pointed out one such area to the bf, we both saw a little light flicker. It seems that there is indeed some activity there, whether it be a homeless person living there, kids hiding out doing something they shouldn’t, or some other activity best left to the dark night. So we have agreed that walking the dog alone in the dark is a bad idea.

It seems so lazy to drive to the dog park, though. Plus, there are not enough parking spaces for everyone as it is. Driving feels safer, and it saves time otherwise spent walking (the walk is about 15 minutes each way, making dog park time 1/2 hour longer each night). Some nights I can get to the dog park during the light, and I can text the bf to drive past and pick us up on the way home. But most nights our schedules don’t work that way.

Enter the pup-mobile.

Yes, we bought a dog carrier. Actually, we bought a child carrier for the bf’s bike, and we use it to shuttle the dog to the dog park. It saves time, gives us exercise, keeps us from using gas, and eliminates the parking issue. I was quite skeptical and didn’t really like the one the bf chose. But since he is the one using it, I let him choose it and buy it. And I am so happy to say I was wrong about the pup-mobile. It’s terrific.

Despite my fears about it, the dog sits calmly in the pup-mobile, strapped into the seat with her car restraint. We took it slowly, and we’ve only gone the short distance to the dog park so far. She even let us put the waterproof cover over it when it rained as we left the park. She sat calmly inside it as we rode home. Amazing! We can’t wait to take the pup-mobile on longer rides. We can bike to PetSmart with her or take her to other parks. We can bring our bikes on trips if there is a trail available, and we can bring the dog along. It’s pretty exciting stuff in our household.

The only downside is that, like the car, she can get a little motion sick. When she rode with the cover on the trailer, she got out after our ride and got a bit sick. I think that as long as we can keep the cover off so that she can see the road ahead, she won’t get sick again.

Pics coming soon! Lately we ride at night, so I don’t have any photos of the pup-mobile.

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Filed under Dog ownership, Life in Coachella Valley, Productivity

Big Bear adventure

Last month, we finally used our online daily deal for a weekend at Big Bear Lake. We rented a house and escaped the desert heat. Our package included golf balls at the nearby driving range, so we brought along our thrift-store drivers and had fun hitting the balls for a bit. We also got a free trip on the ski lift to the top of a peak. We enjoyed gorgeous views of the lake and took a short hike at 8000 feet.

It was Oktoberfest, so we walked to the nearby festival and enjoyed some German food. The festival was fun; we got commemorative beer mugs, watched people take part in beer-drinking contests, and listened to the lederhosen-clad band. They played German music, including modern German hits like Falco’s “Der Komissar” (in German, of course). I learned that the chicken dance, that old staple of wedding DJs, is a German tradition. I think we saw folks dance to that more than once while we were there.We didn’t stay long enough to find out if they played Nena’s “99 Luftballoons,” but I hope they did. We hitched a ride with the free “don’t drink and drive” shuttle at the end of the night.

Our rental was pet-friendly, so we brought the dog with us. She was well-behaved, though driving through curvy mountain roads at altitude make her car sick. She’d likely never been out of the desert, so she was fascinated with all the new things to see and sniff up in the cool mountains. We also learned that our desert pup gets cold when the temperature dips to 64 degrees.

We were in our rentals fenced yard, where I let the dog sniff around while we grilled dinner. The sun had set, and it was a lovely cool evening. I turned around to find our pup staring at me and shivering. We hurried her inside to warm up, but the night was a rough one for her. She doesn’t really know how to use the comforter in her crate to cover herself up, so we broke the rules and let her sleep in our bed. She was beside herself with glee and nestled in to get warm. The next day we bought her a sweater, which she was happy to wear. We chose the softest and cheapest one, and it’s ridiculous. We’ve decided that when she wears the sweater, Pierogi becomes Sylvia. She just looks more like a Sylvia in her fuzzy purple outfit.

We can’t wait to get back to Big Bear for outdoor fun, though we’ll probably board the pup so we can do a little bit more without worrying about her being crated in a strange house or feeling queasy on the long ride up or down the mountain.

Here’s a shot of “Sylvia”:

Pierogi as 'Sylvia'


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What about the pup?

As I discussed last week, I started a temp job about 2 1/2 weeks ago. I got the call on Monday, interviewed Tuesday, and started the job Wednesday morning. As new pet owners (we adopted our dog in May) and new residents of the desert, we have few resources to take care of our dog outside the home. Since I hadn’t been working, the pup was never left for more than a few hours at a time, except for one day when we left her at a boarding kennel while we visited San Diego. We’d been practicing leaving her out of her crate, but she learned to jump the baby gate we’d bought. Now we needed a solution for weekdays.

Not only is doggie day care expensive, but our commutes are such that we each have to leave the house before day cares open. So that was not an option even if we wanted to pay for it. We don’t know many people here, so there’s no one whom we trust to enter our home and walk our dog midday. So the night before I started my job (hours after the interview), I headed to Lowe’s for an extra-tall baby gate that didn’t have a pattern that made it easy to climb. This one is metal with bars like a prison cell (sorry, Pierogi), which means she can’t climb it. The bars are also close enough together that she can’t wedge her head in there, which she did when we met her at the pound. The gate gives her access to a bathroom, our spare room (actually the master bedroom–we have my desk, a sofa bed, and an entertainment center in there), and a tiny hallway. Each day we put her crate in there, along with her favorite doggy bed, water, and some snacks. I turn on the radio for some noise (and to drown out any other sounds that might bother her) and let her settle in for the day.

We’re still looking for someone we trust to come walk her midday and give her a little attention. But she’s incredibly well-behaved and has never tried to get on the couch. There’s no white dog hair on the dark upholstery, and the newspaper we put on it to discourage her (dogs hate the crinkle of the newspaper under them) has been unmoved. When I was home, she preferred to sleep all day and disliked going out even for potty breaks, so I don’t feel so bad. Well, maybe I feel a little bad. She likes to have us nearby, even if she’s just sleeping.  But right now, she’s only in this situation for three days per week, as I have a half day once per week, and the bf has one weekday off.

The other adjustment for the dog was her walk schedule. Instead of a morning trip to the dog park, I get up early (though not as early as the bf), walk her for 20-30 minutes, then start my day. Whoever gets home first gives her a potty break. Then we have to go to the gym on property, prepare and eat dinner, and walk Pierogi to the dog park. Somehow, that ends up taking up most of our evening. For the first week, we were eating late or eating crap that was easy to prepare–but at least it wasn’t fast food, right? I can only imagine how lost I’d be if I was trying to raise a child. It reminded me of just how difficult it can be for working couples with children. I can’t complain, really. But I do need to work out a better schedule.

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Filed under Dog ownership, life changes, Life in Coachella Valley, Productivity

Three Things (well, two things and a rant)

Huh. It’s a tough week. I feel like I’ve been walking in waist-deep mud the last seven days. I’m not absorbing much info, and I’m napping a lot. So I’m not going to number things this week since there wasn’t a lot of concrete learning happening.

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Weekend recap

Happy Monday to my lone remaining reader!

The weekend was a quiet one, unless you count the excitement I experience over the latest version of the Evernote program. For a listmaker/notetaker like I am, it’s an amazing tool. The latest incarnation is a vast improvement, and it rocked my world. I use it mostly to copy recipes instead of saving them as pdfs or bookmarking them. Bookmarks fail when a blog closes up or the page moves. PDF files are just not as convenient, since I have to print them or use my laptop in the kitchen.  Until I get the old iMac back in the kitchen (as I did in my previous apartments), Evernote is incredibly handy. I can cut and paste recipes from the web, then access them in Evernote on my phone. I can shop for ingredients using the recipe from my phone or reference the instructions while in the kitchen.

I used Evernote to shop for and to create a recipe for franks and beans, which I left simmering in my Crockpot all day. It was an attempt to make use of the Wagyu beef hot dogs I bought on a whim. They were incredibly salty, so I made the franks and beans without salt knowing the dogs would provide all the necessary salt. Put over some brown rice, it was…just like any franks and beans. For me, that is not a good thing. I hate franks and beans. The sweetness is too much, not to mention the fact that I hate hot dogs.

In other news, the pupster was a master pupil in obedience class this weekend. The command we worked on was “settle,” which requires dogs to do nothing but relax, which is opposite what most commands require. That makes it rather confusing to some dogs. Not to Pierogi. She is a master a chillin’ out.  She needed no learning curve. Here’s an example of her in chill-out mode. Note that she is not rolling around in the pic; she is frozen in that position, sleeping.


Not much else occurred this weekend, other than a dinner out for mediocre Thai food. I’ll have to work to make this week blog-worthy. I’ll do my best!


Filed under Dog ownership, Life in Coachella Valley, Productivity