Black Acorn Dogs

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Did I Actually Just Say That?

I've decided today that I want to go back to school to become an animal behaviorist. This idea gelled after I was reading through a site with little behavior quizzes and I came across the term allelomimetic and I actually cared to learn more about what it meant. I spend enough free time in such pursuits that it would actually make sense to try to get paid for it.

My next thing I plan to do is become independently wealthy so I would be able to actually pay for tuition. If this doesn't work out, maybe I'll look into my cousin Karey's childhood dream occupation, being a bird. Hey, we all need dreams, right?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Of Course It's My Turn!

Ben is such a goofball. He's been with us for five months now, and despite the fact that he should know the routines well, he still gets excited when it's Walk Time and his walk is over. He sees us getting the next dog ready, and he's still right at the door, all excited as if it were his turn... again. You just got back, ya nut! We're convinced that he thinks we might forget and take him an extra time.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

It's Beginning to Smell a Lot Like Christmas

No Christmas tree again this year, because for the third year in a row, we have a new dog in the house. (Actually might be just the second, but three years ago we were moving during Christmas, literally speaking, as in we got to have a moving truck for an extra day because the U-haul place is closed on Christmas Day). I think we could swing doing a tree this year, but Ben is still a bit of a crazy puppy, so easier to just skip and we'll do one next year. I don't want to have to chase ornaments around the house or worry that someone will get a hook through their tongue.

We bought a balsam wreath last weekend and hung it on the front door. That does the trick more nicely than I'd expected. Every time we come in or out the door, we get a breathful of evergreen. We already have a new tradition, which is that every time Diane or I comes through the door, we say "It smells like Christmas!"

We also have one of those little ceramic trees on top of the television set -- the kind with little plastic "bulbs" that light up when you plug in the tree. It came from Diane's mother (I think she made it), but Grandma Jean used to always have one when we were a kid too, so at least it feels like Real Christmas Decoration.

(An example, though I can't imagine that these usually go for this much money:

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I guess it's been a month now since we switched all of the dogs from kibble to raw diet. Indie has been on for an extra month since he was on the pre-packaged rolls of raw meat mix to start out. There was no way all three dogs were going to eat that though, if for no other reason than it would have been crazy expensive. I'm much happier with their current diet anyway. This week they've been eating chicken and beef. Chicken days mean that everyone gets a half chicken (yes, bone and all). Beef days, they're getting 1 to 1 1/2 pound chunks of sirloin tip. Believe it or not, it costs the same or less to feed them now than when they were on kibble and canned food. It's funny to think how intimidated I was to switch them to raw diet. It's quite easy, it's not that expensive, and they eat in their crates, so it's not messy, either.

I can't imagine ever going back to kibble, no matter how "premium". All of Indie's skin problems have cleared right up, although they will kick back in if he eats one piece of anything with grain (like a crouton I dropped the other night). I suspect that once he's off kibble for 6-12 months he won't be so hypersensitive. It's also fitting to note that Katie's health was only better after we got her off the kibble too, although in her case we were doing home cooked meals. For anyone that didn't know Kate, she passed away at age 15 nearly one year ago exactly, and the last four years of her life were chock full of health challenges that we, amazingly, were able to get under a great deal of control. Boy, would she have liked raw diet.

One of the fun things about going to raw is shopping for sales. I am not a shopper by nature, but it has become almost a game to see what kind of interesting cuts of meat and what kind of bargains we can find. In the kibble days, it used to cost $2 per day per dog, so the game is to try to buy meat that will be that price or cheaper. If each dog eats roughly 2 pounds a day, that puts the target at $1 a pound or better, although all three dogs eat less than 2 pounds a day and some meats go farther than others, for example a pound of sirloin tip goes farther than a pound of whole chicken because the chicken has more bone and I guess the beef is just more rich. And it averages out, where we almost always buy chicken for less than $1/lb but the sirloin tip was purchased at a killer price of $1.55/lb (killer for beef, that is). That one was fun because it was sold in huge 15 pound hunks (we bought three, and yes, we have a big chest freezer now).

But the other fun thing is that we, Diane and I, have been eating much better since putting the dogs on raw. As we run around looking at meat, meat, and more meat, we find great cuts that just call out for us to eat them. It's given me a massive creative boost for coming up with ideas of new things to make, which has been a challenge since I tried to start eating healthy over the summer. And even more, we're eating things that I would have never thought of before. We've had liver and onions twice now. I'd never in my adult life tried it (or wished to), but wouldn't ya know I really enjoyed it. And it's healthy, cheap, and simple as heck. We've been cooking up whole chickens, which I've never done either, but in different and creative ways. Previously, my idea of cooking a whole chicken would have been just to roast it... whole.

The last whole chicken we made, Sunday night, created a story that strikes me as hilarious. We've been on a rawfeeding Yahoo! group, and someone posted a question about whether they should buy a whole chicken, remove the breasts for their family, and feed the dog the rest. Well, the answer is no, you really need to feed the whole thing because chicken is quite bony already, and you need the meat to be in there. Well, as we've been playing around with meat in new and creative ways, Diane and I have discovered that we actually prefer some of the odd cuts and scraps, like the backs and necks, and we've always preferred legs and thighs to the breasts. For dinner on Sunday night, I hacked up two whole chickens, removed 3 of the 4 breasts, gave them to the dogs for dinner, and we cooked the rest for ourselves. It cracks me up that we basically took the most expensive cuts to feed the dogs and ate all the "leftover junk". Hey, we'll probably do it again... we had to fight over who got stuck with the fourth breast. (Well, not really fought over, but it did get left until last).

Other things we've made in the last month:
* Pork roast with ginger and squash and apples -- mmmm... so yummy
* Flat roasted chicken with lemon and rosemary where I split the chicken at the underside and laid it flat with salted lemons under the chicken and under the skin -- holy cow, that meat got flavored through and through
* Gizzards, chicken necks, smoked turkey necks (tasted just like the turkey legs at the renaissance faire), and chicken liver with onions -- I never would have expected to place all that on the "exciting things" list
* Whole chicken hacked up into parts with a rub of sage, rosemary, and thyme with coarse kosher salt and roasted with sweet potatoes and purple potatoes also coated with the same herbs but oil instead of salt

On deck in the freezer are racks of pork ribs that we haven't worked up to yet, but I can't wait until we're ready to feed those. They come in packs of 2, so that means that two packages equal one each for the dogs and one for us. Yay!

We feed chicken feet as evening snacks now. There's one case where I have no desire to sample. I'll certainly let you know if that changes.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Landscaping Company Turns Away Gay Couple

This makes me very sad. A landscaping company refused to provide service for a couple on the grounds that they were gay. Came right out and said so when the couple requested an estimate. "I need to tell you that we cannot meet with you because we choose not to work for homosexuals."

The couple that asked for the estimate forwarded the refusal email on to 200 friends, urging them not to patronize the business. Pretty reasonable response, in my book. They want to be picky-choosy about who they do business with, well, right back atcha.

But then the Internet got a hold of it, and the couple that runs the company were attacked pretty heavily to the point that there were threats made against them and their family. I'm sure I can imagine the basic Net flaming in action, which carries to extreme when you're talking about impact to your real life business.

Somehow I doubt that this little "life lesson" has taught them anything about being more open to dealing with homosexuals. To quote from this article, "The crowd of tolerance and diversity is not so tolerant."

There's a little poll on the page "Should businesses be able to reject clients based on sexual orientation." I stared at it for a little bit before clicking Yes. I could change my tune in the next hour (I actually did by the time I was done typing this), but frankly, I don't like either answer. Should businesses reject people based on orientation? Hell no. But nor am I comfortable forcing a small business to work with anyone. Granted, I chose that answer because we're talking about a small family business. If we were talking about Wal-mart, or let's say, Denny's, I feel unequivocably different. I feel it would be outright unacceptable for a larger company to turn away, or poorly treat, a customer based on race, religion, sexual orientaion, gender, etc. I suppose I might set the difference in my mind as a standard of "retail business" versus "client business". I think it would also be outrageous to walk into a public garden center and have the Farber's ask me to leave for being gay. If that had been the scenario in the article, then yeah, I'd have voted No. I suppose that really, the Farbers should be expected to lie about why they won't work with the homos just like they would have to lie about their reasoning if they refused to work with a black family or a Muslim family. Yeah, I definitely already changed my mind on the poll question.

Don't get me wrong. I absolutely think there should be a penalty for discrimination. I think that Mr. Lord and Mr. Lackey had the right of it when they decided to publicize the discrimination and call for a boycott. That's a very appropriate way to handle things when a business makes poor decisions. The subsequent hate mail and threats though... that helps nobody. Looks like all it did was confirm to the Farbers that they made the right choice by not working with "those people". Woo woo... big win for the advancement of social causes.

And then again, it does feel good to know that people cared enough to raise a big stink and express that such behavior is not okay. Mostly heterosexual people, from what I can gather. That's not meaningless.

The whole thing is just sad.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Vote Early, Vote Often!

Make sure to get out and vote!

I like to go first thing in the morning when we don't have to stand in any line. We did 6:30 again this morning, and we didn't have to wait for anything.

There's also still time to vote for Joe (link in my previous entry).

Friday, November 03, 2006

Important Survey

If you take only ONE survey, this should be it: