Thursday, June 19, 2014

He's Allergic, Harry Doggy Woggy

All week long I've sang the "Harrified" version of the electric slide.  This time last year Harry started itching, and we visited the vet several times and dosed Harry with a multitude of antihistamines, steroids, and antibiotics.  We then put Harry on a strict hypo-allergenic diet of what looked like corn pops and cost more than our monthly grocery bill.  After a while we introduced new foods to the hypo diet and watched for reactions.  Aside from a horrible explosion after the egg series, Harry didn't react to anything except his former Blue Buffalo dog food and cream cheese.  We went two months on a venison and sweet potato diet which was significantly cheaper than corn pops and at the start of this month Harry started itching again, developing two major hot spots.

Before Harry had a chance to completely inflate with an allergic reaction we reached out to our dermatologist at UPenn.  It seemed as though Harry was displaying strong signs that he had been suffering from environmental allergies all along.  We scheduled a skin test only two days later.  
His bad side (side where he had swelling from itching)
Harry's skin test consisted of him being put under sedation (not completely knocked out, but drugged), shaved in a patch, and pricked with 74 different allergens.  After each allergen was injected, the doctor recorded a reaction.  It only lasted about 20 minutes and we were called to pick Harry up only an hour and a half after we dropped him off.  
Harry's patch and all the dots are his allergy injections :(

Upon arrival we were given a packet of what Harry had gone through and a long list of Harry's allergies.  Harry is highly allergic to grass, yeast, dust, and mites.  But then he's also slightly allergic to a slew of other things, humans included.  My dog is allergic to me.  Here's the list:

On the bright side, we finally figured out what Harry's allergic to.  From now on we have to dose Harry for the rest of his life with allergy drops.  We opted for drops instead of shots because neither of us are comfortable with injections....but the drops are kind of a pain.  Harry doesn't like me sticking anything but treats in his mouth so this is a process he's going to have to get used to.  The first set of drops are diluted so that Harry's body starts to adapt to them.  Then as we move on he'll be put on a stronger solution.  In high season we'll likely have to pair it with a zyrtec.

Only a week or so of steroids left and then we'll see if the drops are working.  I'm so happy we went ahead and did the test.  It was a little expensive but I can't imagine having another year of breakouts, panicking about Harry's health.  If you're thinking about doing this test, I highly recommend it!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

DIY Tutorial: Souvenir Style Sign

When the foo and I travel I become a hoarder.  Any paper product be it a ticket, receipt, brochure, or sometimes even a decorative bag I stash it in a corner of my suitcase.  My bag is like the wallet of Leonardo DiCaprio in Catch me if you Can.  Then when we come home the hoarder's pile of paper treasure sits in craft storage until I think of something to do with it.  Our Peru travels inspired me to to decoupage a frame with travel mementos.  It's taken me up until this past weekend to do something with the paper collection from our Eurotrip of September 2013.

On said Eurotrop, foo and I hit up four countries:  England, Netherlands, Belgium, and France.  As you can imagine, I collected a decent amount of "treasures".  I tried to make a point of getting a newspaper from every country, but failed in Belgium.  However, because it was absolutely necessary, we did end up with a map from each country.  I decided to use this as a backdrop for a letter sign that we'll be hanging in our new home (yea more on that later) and also at our upcoming wedding (whattttt).  It just so happened that visiting four countries gave me the perfect number of maps to spell a special four letter word.  

To start, I needed four frames - one for each of my letters.  I bought Ikea RIBBA frames particularly for their ability to stand if set on a table (dual purpose people - wedding & home decor).  I printed out the word LOVE using Arial Bold font in size 350 and used them as a stencil on my maps.


I used the frame matting to make sure I got all map and no ads in my end result.  Most of the maps we got were fo frizzle!  Measuring on all sides of the letters, I ensured I was centered.  Above is Amsterdam.  When I positioned my matting I tried to get some cool landmarks in sight.  Above you'll see Centraal Station in the upper right and in the bottom right is the famous church, Zuiderkerk, known for being a subject in a number of Monet paintings.  The O is surrounded by the many canals of Amsterdam.


Once I got my letters centered I taped them in place.  Using an exacto knife (on top of a cutting mat) I cut out each letter carefully.  Above is letter E, ending the word LOVE and also our Eurotrip as Paris was our final stop and the location of our super romantic engagement on the Ponte de Artes bridge.


Once cutting was complete, I layered the map over white paper and secured it inside the frame.  I actually just flipped the grey paper that came inside the IKEA frame.  


Final product!  It's not hanging on the wall yet, as we're not officially moved in.  Our wedding has a bit of a travel theme in our cocktail hour and I'm hoping we can use this as decor somewhere on site or set up on a table.  I love how each letter is unique but still cohesive.  Also, I'm ecstatic that the letters go in the exact order of our trip.  L is a map of London, O is a map of Amsterdam, V is a map of Brussels, and E is a map of Paris.  Plus Paris has the Eiffel Tower in the bottom right corner.  Once we've got it hanging I'll add more pics.  But for now I'm super jazzed!






Thursday, May 15, 2014

Pickle Sitting

It's about time we returned the favor.  After multiple Harry-sittings acquiesced by my sister, the foo and I took it upon ourselves to do the same with Harry's newest fur-cousin, Pickle.  As Pickle is only six months old and only in his forever home for two months, he was a bit shaky when we picked him up.  A few belly rubs, lots of hugs and kisses, and a house tour lightened him up.

During his week-long stay, Pickle got a little broken in.  His shrieking yelp responses to slight noises outside our city condo decreased over time and he walked outside with more confidence each day.  Being a city dog is a tough attitude to succumb to and unlike Harry, Pickle wouldn't settle for peeing on anything other than plush grass (aside from plush carpets).  It was funny to watch the two of them walk together:  Harry with an intense determined stride and Pickle keeping up with quick feet.  On their leashed walks, Pickle would sometimes run underneath Harry giving the city of Philadelphia an amusing show of a harried sweating woman (me) untangling two excited and oblivious dogs.

We did experience some puppy behavior the first day which resulted in social media dog shaming.  Pickle seems to suffer from anxiety when left alone and during his first four hours of unsupervised crate time he managed to dig a hole directly through our carpet.  He was eerily silent as I opened the door to his destruction, as if he knew he had done something bad.  We ended up tossing the rug and replacing it with a rubber mat so Pickle couldn't do the same on hardwood.  I imagine he could dig his way to China with those thick front paws of his.


Speaking of front paws, I decided that these were Pickle's most endearing feature.  Soft but thick, unlike his rear paws which are akin to a typical toy size dog, Pickle's fat puppy paws were my favorite part of him.  They seemed like they belonged to a bigger dog.  Pickle was happy to have me obsess over them.

Having a small dog is nice in that you can easily take them wherever you want to go.  Though we didn't get a chance to dine out with Pickle, he hopped in the car with us for a few errands - something that we generally leave Harry out of.  The scary part of having a small dog is constantly worrying about stepping on them and stressing about them falling down the stairs.  Pickle's famous paws often slipped on our hardwood stairs but he usually caught himself before sliding all the way down.  Pickle's long body slides and rolls while his little feet scramble.  It sounds so horrible, but since he was safe it was kind of funny to watch him excitedly get himself together.


Pickle and Harry got along quite nicely.  Harry forgets how small Pickle is sometimes and how one swipe of his paw can take Pickle down, so we had to supervise their playtime.  The two of them would play with their toys separately or engage in some sort of tag.  If we had more room in our place I think the game would've gotten extremely intense.  On Saturday, we took the two of them to the Schuylkill Banks dog park.  Pickle had never been, but after spending a little while in the small dogs park he was introduced to the big dogs park and shown around by Harry.
 

Despite their normal jolliness with each other, Pickle and Harry suffered one disagreement over a bone.  Bone time was meant to be a let's relax and get our aggression out on this rawhide type hour.  Unfortunately it turned into no sharing no caring hour.  A few snarls and a scary bark led us to a separation for the rest of the evening.  Pickle held a grudge that night and wouldn't let Harry into our room without freaking out.  Apparently dog memory doesn't necessarily last 20 minutes.  
This didn't happen after the bone fight...
Now that Pickle has happily returned to his family, Harry's been sleeping.  He's literally been groggy and sleepy for two days.  I expect he'll be back to normal tomorrow, but for now he's enjoying some peace and quiet before he starts missing his cousin.  It was fun being a Mom to two dogs for a week, but I think that we're ok having an only child for now.  That's the nice thing about nieces and nephews - you enjoy them and then you give them back!






Thursday, May 8, 2014

Pet Friendly Portland

The past three weeks have felt increasingly crazy.  Wedding planning, house hunting, and general life make for a stressed out soul.  We did manage to fit a vacation in, cramming a West coast adventure into less than a week.  Our recent trip to Portland and Seattle fit the criteria of our "Cities of America Tour" and it was a great time to experience spring in the West.

First off, Portland is a supremely dog friendly city.  It was the first place I've been where a majority of lodging was advertising pet friendly.  The foo and I are super users of the website AirBnB for our vacations and most hosts had a house dog or were open to you bringing yours for the stay.  If flying wasn't so traumatic, we'd have loved to bring Harry with us!

The city itself is very walkable but if you're not into walking, Portland boasts one of the easiest public transit systems around.  They weren't advertised pet-friendly but there were certainly transit dog sightings on our short stay.  Portland is also integrated with public parks and surrounded by the ethereal view of Mt. Hood.  A stroll through Washington Park is perfectly ok to do with your dog beside you, and in May the rose gardens (which are huge and free by the way) are in bloom.  Forest Park is another free dog friendly adventure and a must see in the Western city.  

My compulsion to visit Portland was driven by the fact that the city is home to 53 individual brewers operating 73 breweries in the metro area alone.  I am a big fan of beer, and a big fan of dogs (obviously) and there's a brewery in Portland that combines both:  Lucky Lab Brewery.  While you taste all of their craft beers on tap, your dog can play outside on the canine patio with other brew loving pooches.
Photo courtesy Neighborhood Notes
One of the most memorable sights on our trip was the Columbia River Gorge.  That area of Portland itself is home to 90+ waterfalls, 77 of which are on Oregon's coast, the rest on Washington.  Of these the biggest one of all is famous Multnomah Falls, the third highest year round waterfall in the world at a drop of 627 feet.  The Gorge is surrounded by a public "highway" which feels more like a country road.  You can spend the day biking, hiking, or driving from waterfall to waterfall and of course, you're welcome to bring your dog.   

All in all, if you're thinking of vacationing with your pet via a road trip, Portland is a great place to spend a few days!


  


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Harry on the Red Carpet

Maybe it's a little late for Oscar buzz (ok yea, it's really really late), but Harry and I went crazy again for Oscars 2014.  Last year, we hosted a pajama party, while this year the theme was based on Ellen DeGeneres - in that some guests dressed like Ellen and wore Ellen underwear.

Every year I try to theme food off of the best picture nominees.  Apparently, so does the rest of the internet, so I didn't have a hard time coming up with ideas when I was in a jam.  And the Oscar nominees are:
  1. 12 Hours a Marinated Chicken Wing
  2. Dallas Cowboy Pulled Pork Sliders served with a syringe of BBQ sauce
  3. Philomena's Chocolate Stout Cake
  4. Somalian Chicken Skewers
  5. Gravity Defying Popcorn Bar
  6. Wolf of Wall Street Classic Champagne Cocktails
  7. Carmine's Homemade Limoncello
  8. Nebraska style Beer (yea that was creative)
  9. "Her" Mini-Pizzas

We spent the evening stuffing our faces, drinking too many champagne cocktails because we thought there would be a snow day on Monday, and playing inter-missionary games of Ellen's hit game Heads Up.  

While Harry schmoozed with our friends, some of us walked the red carpet and took a pic on the "Red Carpet Selfie Wall" which tied in nicely with Ellen's most re-tweeted selfie of all time.  Studious friends took a time-out to complete their Oscar picks on their ballots while pop culture enthusiasts made their way around our condo playing the "Guess that Oscar Winning Best Picture" game.

All in all it was a fabulous night, and an exciting way to spend a Sunday--however I highly suggest the Academy move the glamorous award show to a Saturday night so those champagne cocktails don't hurt so much the next day.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

New Fur-Cousin!

Last weekend Harry met our newest fur-cousin, Pickle.  Named by my 5 year old niece, Pickle was adopted a few weeks ago from a family where he wasn't adapting well to the new boyfriend.  Timid and a little shy, it took a couple of hours for him to really warm up to Harry.  On the other hand it took less than 10 seconds for Harry to warm up to Pickle, but Harry did a good job of backing off and giving him space.



Pickle is a lot smaller than his family's former fur-baby, Jager.  About 90 pounds smaller being that Jager was a German Shepherd.  They do, however, share the same German heritage and long snout as Pickle is a purebred dachshund.  With his silky wavy hair and fast feet, Pickle is swift yet graceful - something that Harry had to get used to since his fur-cousin Jager was easier to catch.




At first Pickle kept his distance from Harry and stayed close to his mom.  Then when Harry wasn't looking or got too close, Pickle would pounce out and bark then quickly return to Mom-Base.  Eventually the two of them found that they had a lot in common.  Their moms kind of looked the same, and they both wanted whatever their family was eating.  It was when Harry got tired from racing around the backyard that the two of them enjoyed each others company quietly.


Having a new pooch, especially a puppy, is always an exciting time.  We're hoping that by spending more time together with Harry, Pickle will come out of his jar (see what I did there) and stop cherry picking Mom-Base.  We're so happy to welcome Pickle to the family!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Doggy Dining: Jimmy G's Steaks

Two polar vortices ago, our fam needed to cure some pretty bad hangovers.  A night of friends and too much wine was forcing us into the kind of misery that can only be cured by grease.  It comes along only once in a while, and that Saturday the craving for a cheesesteak was there.

When a new cheesesteak joint pops up, it's met with skepticism in Philadelphia.  The greatest cheesesteaks in Philly are legendary and have staked (see what I did there) their claim on the city decades ago.  That said, in times of distress convenience trumps reputation and so our venture to Jimmy G's steaks began.

An order of a cheesesteak (American w/ onions) and french fries was placed.  While we waited for our food we helped ourselves to sides of the array of peppers and pickles available to all customers no charge. After a short time our food was ready, our names were called, and we were ready to indulge.  

Despite the chilly weather, we were able to dine outside which meant that Harry was able to join us.  The outdoor area is enclosed during the winter months and kept warm with portable heaters.  The foo and I sat across from each other on red picnic tables while Harry sat at the head enamored of our spread.

Jimmy G's steak was up to par.  Featuring chopped steak rather than the tear through it with your teeth type at Pat's, it was easy to eat with just enough grease and cheese melted throughout.  The french fries were hot, crispy, and thick cut graced with perfect saltiness.  Normally a cheesesteak lunch isn't about decadence, but facing the hangover and the stomach bug I was about to get in just 4 hours, this was the most decadent experience I had the entire week.  Happily I engorged myself while Harry stared.

The cheeseteak cured my hangover, but it couldn't cure nor was it the cause of the GI fury that was took over the rest of my weekend.  Jimmy G's was not only a steak to be revisited, it was the gleaming, radioactive, surging highlight of a terrible 48 hours.