Friday, August 31, 2012

All Dogs Go to Cuzco

One of the days we were in Peru, I asked the boo (for blog purposes of course) to take a picture of me with every dog we saw, just for one day, in Cuzco.  He followed through taking pictures of about 80% of the dogs we saw, and I ended up looking like the star of American Dog Creepers.  So before I entertain all ten of you readers with our five day trek to Machu Picchu, here is the rest of Cuzco summarized by dog greetings.
After a long first half of the day riding horses through Saqsayhuaman, we took our hostel's recommended walking tour of Cuzco.  Basically, we looked at our free map and followed the yellow path to the sites of Cuzco.  This dude above was laying in the Plaza de Armas of Cuzco as we started our tour.  He's seen better days, in my opinion.
Typical Peruvian dog fashion
We continued along and found ourselves in front of the Cuzco Chocolate Museum.  A dude was outside handing out brochures and we went into a courtyard and up the steps to the small museum which took up about three decent sized rooms.  Inside we were able to learn about chocolate for free, drink complementary chocolate tea (SO good), and try some coco beans for free.  We purchased coca infused chocolate (more about coca leaves on the trek) and watched a group make chocolate.  We could have purchased chocolate making lessons there, but it didn't work with our schedule since we were meeting a man from our tour company that would brief us on our trek.  

Continuing along, we walked step after step up to an opening that presented a couple of museums and a restaurant.  In hindsight, I wish we had seen just one museum in Cuzco because our trekking guides highly recommended it.  Plus the museums featured mummies.  This dude above, literally sat there watching us walk our way up to him and then chilled while I pet his head.  Dogs in Cuzco live the dream.

Doesn't this one look like Lady from Lady & the Tramp?  Anywho, our walking tour took us to an ancient Incan wall where you could see a puma and a python hidden in the wall.  There were shops lining that area and the shopkeepers gave us postcards with the puma pictured so we could find it for ourselves. 

This big black lab greeted us as we came back into the plaza where the Cathedral de Cuzco sat.  He was the most lively pup I met, who trotted along merrily and appreciated a good butt scratch.  I'm pretty sure I also met his girlfriend below.

We were able to see most of the city although the parts of Peru surrounding Cuzco are worth spending an extra few days in Cuzco.  Pretty much everybody we met (except for Americans) were spending months in South America seeing the entire continent.  I'm extremely jealous of everyone else's cojones (that's Español for balls) to just drop everything and travel for who knows how long.  It makes me get philosophical about life.  If I have 50 or 60 years left who cares if I just drop everything and go where I want when I'm young?  Ahhhh life QUESTIONS. 

After our walking tour we headed back to our hostel for BBQ night and a briefing from our trekking company.  This little fellow above slept on the corner of the street our hostel was on and looks exactly like my parents' dog Boomer.  He shared in our BBQ leftovers when we went back out on the town to find long underwear for our trek.  I was super sad to leave Cuzco and nervous about our trek.  But the sights we saw later on blew our minds.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Llamas, Horses and Pups, Oh My!

The second day we spent in Cuzco, I was on a mission to ride horses.  "Donde esta monto un caballo?" I asked everyone.  The resounding answer was Saqsayhuaman (pronounced almost like "sexy woman").  We woke up too late to take the hostel tour, but we could take a cab for 10 soles and walk to the caballos from there.  So the boo and I found a cab told him "sexy woman" and off we went.  He dropped us off at Cristo Blanco and we didn't speak enough Spanish to have him fully explain where the horses were.  Obviously, we took the opportunity to have a llama photo shoot.

We made our way down the hill that Cristo Blanco stands on to see if we could find out where the horses were.  All of the sudden a Peruvian boy started to speak to us and we immediately asked, "Donde estan los caballos?".  This was what he was selling!  We were thrilled that we found our way...until we realized that we were about to go on an all Spanish tour guided by this 12 year old boy.  It didn't really matter to us, because we really just wanted to ride horses for a few hours.  Our tour followed the map below:

We rode around to different archaeological sites (we didn't buy the tourist ticket for 70 soles...instead we saw the free ones) until we got to the Temple de la Lunanot to be confused with the one that sits at Machu Picchu.  We met Sassy, the Temple de la Luna dog who just had a puppy and we toured the temple by following a Peruvian stranger who just happened to know everything about the Temple.  He pointed out all the carvings within the temple: snake, puma, llama, condor, that were apparently carved solely by rain water hitting it.  He also said that the temple was a strong point of magnetism because of its location.  We had to take our shoes off to go into the offering area.

Sassy the Temple de la Luna dog

Temple de la Luna
We rode the horses, whose names by the way were Poncho Rojo, Diamante, and Cara Blanca, back to our beginning and left Saqsayhuaman via cab to return to our hostel.  Of course, we said our goodbyes to our guide, our horses, and the little guys that came out to say goodbye as we left.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Peruvian Lambs - Cuzco

Our second day of vacation, the boo and I flew from Lima to Cuzco via Star Peru.  Just a tip for you travelers out there who might be considering mimicking our journey, book your inter-country flight with the airline.  The flight booking sites you can see in the US bump up the rates by as much as $250.  Boo and I paid a measly $70 for a round trip flight from Lima to Cuzco.  Anywho, we landed early morning Saturday but had to wait until 1pm to be checked into our hostel.  We ignored the rules for avoiding altitude sickness and headed straight into the ruins of the Sacred Valley.

Our journey began walking to find a mysterious bus station in Lima where we supposedly would pay 2.50 soles to get to Pisac, one of the hot spots for Inca ruins.  On our way, two little girls approached me with a baby lamb.  I have never been presented with a baby lamb to hold and immediately took them up on their offer, cuddling the lamb and trying to communicate with the girls about his name (Pepito) his age (2 months) and if he was their baby (no...but they are not as parental about their animals in Peru as I am).  

Pisac was about 40 minutes away on a crowded, hot bus that wound it's way up and around the mountains.  I felt sick going up and the boo felt sick going down.  After grabbing a taxi in the town of Pisac, we were able to go to the top of the ruins and climb around.  It would have been much better with a guide, but we had a good time exploring.  Check out the view!
The trip home caused some serious car sickness for the boo, combined with a bit of "soroche" or altitude sickness to us English speakers.  So we spent the night at the hostel, ready to spend a fur filled next day with LOTS of Peruvian fur babies.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Peruvian Pups - Lima

Monday, the boo and I returned from a 10 day vacation in Peru.  We decided back in May that we would hike all the way to Machu Picchu doing one of the 5 day treks offered for a variety of trails in Cuzco.  Having never hiked and camped before, this was a drastic choice to make.  But I felt strongly that this was something I had to do in my lifetime.  So we did it!

I would love to blog about my entire trip, but seeing as this is a HARRY blog, and not a travel blog, I needed to find a creative way to tie my travels back to life with my fur-baby.  It just so happens, that Peru is a lot like Greece (where I spent a month the summer of my junior year in college), in that it has a large population of community dogs that roam the streets.  Therefore, I shall update you on my vacation via the fur-friends I met along my way.

Our first full day we spent in Lima City, Peru.  Although we stayed in a hostel in Miraflores, we took the bus downtown to see the cathedrals and centers that the city is known for.  The city is not full of skyscrapers and modern technology.  It's crowded, but the tallest buildings are the ancient churches that sit amongst modern buildings and stores.  We chomped on churros, took lots of pictures, and made our way into the Plaza de Armas and enjoyed a tour (albeit all in Spanish) of the Cathedral de San Francisco and the Catacombs below.

I noticed on our walk that the dogs I saw were wearing clothes.  Most dogs in Lima, were wearing human t-shirts or fleece dog outfits.  I asked a shop owner, the mom of little Nikita below, whether that meant they belonged to somebody.  She said that they put shirts on the dogs so that they don't get "frio" aka cold in Español.  Nikita was her dog, but there were strays with shirts on as well.  When in Cuzco I went on a mad shopping hunt for an authentic Peruvian dog sweater for Harry, but the ones I found at a random veterinarian were just fleece with polka dot patterns.  Nobody knits llama sweaters for the household dog in Peru...maybe I should start a business.

After a long day of sight seeing, the boo and I were starving and wanted to check out "La Lucha", the sandwich shop that our hostel raved about.  We made our way back to Miraflores after gasping at the serious amount of bones in the "Catacoombas" in the Cathedral de San Francisco and met this chill dog on our way.  He was pretty much sleeping in that position all dressed up with nowhere to go.  His owner didn't speak a bit of English so I had no idea what the gig was for or whether I was supposed to pay him for snapping a shot of me and his ridiculously dressed son. 

La Lucha ended up being super good.  So good that the line queued a good distance out of the shop.  I think it was comparable to some of the best Philly sandwich places like Paesano's or Dinic's.  Alas, there is no Peruvian Yelp for me to write a raving review.  Guess I'll have to invent that too and make a page for my Peruvian Dog Sweater business.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pretty In-Tents Camping

After our long trip down river, we had another night of camping to do with Harry.  Our first night, he behaved until it was time for bed.  Boo and I did not get any sleep.  Harry was confused by the tent.  When we opened the tent windows to the screen, Harry didn't understand why he couldn't get out that way and would proceed to scratch the windows of the tent.  That was going to tear the tent down.  So we spent a solid 8 hours waking up and wrestling Harry off the tent walls.  Even a walk at 4am didn't tire Harry.  Our second night after that long rafting trip and no sleep the first night, Harry worked like a dog and slept like a log.

I´m a dog, are you a dog?
Camping consisted of dressing Harry up in his life vest, eating roasted marshmallows and smores, and singing obnoxiously loud to Disney songs.  Harry probably thought we were crazy but we think he enjoyed himself.  Our second night we turned in much earlier than our first, exhausted by the hours spent in a raft on the Delaware River.

Thankfully we weren´t faced with the issues of Harry´s car sickness on the drive home.  The trick is not feeding him...yea it´s not rocket science.  However, the drive to NY definitely made us paranoid and we constantly turned around to check on Harry.  This is what he did the entire time:

All in all, camping with our fur-child was more fun than camping without him.  We had a snuggle buddy on night two, a stoic Captain, and a mobile garbage dispenser (Harry found all the dropped marshmallows, hot dogs, and pretzel pieces).  If you know of any more pet-friendly campgrounds in the tri-state area send them my way!

Harry poses in front of the Delaware

Monday, August 13, 2012

Captain Harry

A group of ten or so of us spent this past weekend camping and rafting in North West New York.  The boo and I (by the time this posts) are in Peru and we couldn't fathom finding Harry a sitter for two vacations albeit camping was only a weekend.  After some phone calls and a confirmation from our friends, we were told we could bring Harry along!  Best, he could even come along on our rafting trip.  Which of course, provoked me to immediately buy this.  A huge un-blogworthy photo shoot accompanied the purchase once shipped. 

We traveled three hours up to Barryville, NY which sits nicely along the Delaware River.  After dealing with some car sickness and clean up we made it to our destination, Indian Head Canoes for some in-tents camping!  I can't help myself.

The first morning we suited up and got ready to spend 4 hours cruising down the Delaware.  More like 8 hours.  But that's what happens when you put beer in a raft...nobody paddles.  Harry behaved like the river captain gentleman he is throughout our journey. 
"Mommmmm STOP"
Harry wore his newest addition to the wardrobe and sat calmly in our raft.  After about 30 minutes on the river we tested out the life jacket by putting Harry in the river for a swim.  We can't tell if his expression is one of sheer terror or river captain focus, but we got scared and pulled him back into the boat, hoping for another opportunity to test Harry's open water swimming skills.
After hours of observing Harry, I came to the conclusion that perhaps to Mommy's disappointment, he doesn't like water.  He scratched and grumbled in frustration on the life jackets we laid down for him to snooze on until he found the driest place to sit.  Eventually he found the perfect position and shook snoozed until the sun dried him. 
Eventually Harry found the driest place to sit, which was on top of the cooler.  He stayed there for most of the trip down river keeping a sick first mate company. 

Although the trip itself was borderline torture after 7 hours of flat, non-rapid rowing, the sights were beautiful and I got some awesome framers out of our adventure.  Harry didn't cause any damage to the sturdy rafts and he was a laid back captain.  He saw a few other dog captains on the river but being that he wasn't a fan of the water separating them he didn't go overboard to say hello.  If you ever get the opportunity, rafting is probably one of the coolest activities you can do with your dog that's fun for all!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Let's Take This Outside

It's been a long time coming, but I finally got the opportunity to take Harry to the dog park.  Schuylkill Banks dog park is a ways away but it seems that as Harry gets older his endurance grows.  We were able to walk to the dog park, play, and walk back in an evening.

We entered the large dog park first.  I assumed that the basset hound mix inside was just the right size to handle Harry's energy.  Dudley, the basset mix, started off friendly enough until he started racing, charging, and running Harry over.  Harry got his butt kicked so hard that he hopped up onto a bench to avoid Dudley.  Dudley parents were on their phones, so I moved Harry into a pen where dogs of his own size could pick on him...the small dogs park.
There's nothing wrong with having to play with dogs your own size so you don't get beat up at the dog park.  Harry met a bunch more friends with attentive and talkative parents.  A lot of the dogs were older (one was 16!) and had been around the park a few times.  Milo, a cairn terrier mix, knew exactly who had treats and who didn't, and positioned himself accordingly.  Harry got a treat from the treat man and played keep away with a new bestie. 
Can we stop and take a look at Harry's form above?  This guy HAS to be a runner deep down right?  I need a training partner for my marathon coming up and he doesn't exhibit this style of running on a normal basis.  I think trips to the dog park are necessary in order to capitalize on Harry's form.
The nice thing about this dog park are that there is plenty of space to run around, and then there's also places to be secluded.  Harry wore himself out running after his friends.  He took a time out to lay down and chew a stick for a while solo style.  The park also has water available for the dogs via a hose that originates in the large dog park, meaning you have to either go over there or ask someone to turn the water on in order for it to flow to the small dog park.  There are already tennis balls that lay in the dog park so you don't even have to worry about bringing your own toys. 

There aren't any patches of grass in the parks, just dusty dirt.  A bath was necessary for a rowdy pup like Harry post dog park.  You can't tell from pictures but his harness was caked in dirt after tussling with Dudley.  Harry had so much adrenaline from playing with the others that I think it was the only thing that got him home.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Living in Sin

When I filled out applications to adopt a new puppy, I felt like I was adopting a child from another country.  The questions about my lifestyle, relationships, hobbies, professional life went from normal to borderline nutty.  During the week before we knew we had Harry (we got Harry! <--the boo and I re-enacted this entire scene when found out) I was preparing to take pictures of every room in my house to send to a foster mom and was making promises of virtual tours and future reunions.

One of the most trying things for me to explain to foster moms was that I was living with my boyfriend.    If we break up who will get the dog?  Then I'd explain that we'd been together for a significantly long time (agh ahem 10 years hack) and that we probably wouldn't be breaking up soon.  And then the judgement ensued.  Why aren't you married?  While I think it's important to ask good questions of future dog parents, the critical perceptions were unwarranted.
Harry judges our relationship status
The judgement inspired me to craft myself a granny chic sign that described my relationship situation in colorful embroidery.  I made up the pattern myself using an alphabet font from here and a standard Germanic border and zig zag that I did free hand.

After I got my laughs out of it, I made one for my sister.  I used sticky mounting cardboard and got an awesome frame on clearance from A.C. Moore.  I used an exacto knife to cut away some of the matting so that my Germanic border wasn't covered up.  I think it looks ironically lovely in my foyer.  Hate on me haters.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Brotherly Love

I have been wanting a sign for our roof deck for about 3 years now and I haven't found anything that wasn't overly cheesy or too Jimmy Buffett-y.  Don't get me wrong, I love Jimmy.  I just wanted something more personal and less depressing than seeing a reminder that Jimmy is floating around in tropical waters off an island and I've got to be at work in half an hour.

I like the vintage looking wooden signs that I've been seeing all over Pinterest and two that caught my eye were these awesomely colorful signs from Beyond the Picket Fence and the rustic but girly LOVE sign from Shanty 2 Chic.  I didn't think I could pass a sign that straight up said LOVE over the's not manly or even unisex enough to be hung in our house.  After a tailgate for the Phillies and a conversation with a new crafty friend, the compromise of "Brotherly Love" was formed.  The following weekend I got to work.

Utilizing Shanty 2 Chic's tutorial, I bought firring strips at Home Depot, along with Gorilla Wood Glue, a saw (yea I bought that one), and Dark Walnut MinWax stain.  I spent Sunday afternoon obsessing over the Olympics and sawing like a boss on the deck.  I sawed each firring strip in half and lined them up horizontally with each other - just like the tutorial.  Then I measured the width which ended up being 18" and sawed my last thin firring strip into 18" pieces.  I glued the 18" strips and adhered them to the back of my sign and then drilled in some screws on the tops and bottoms of the strips.  The back looks like this:

I flipped my sign and followed the instructions on the stain to figure out how to do that step.  The drying time was 4-6 hours so I left painting until the following day.

To paint the letters onto the sign, I went into Microsoft Word and used Arial Black in size 650 to get my letters big enough to cover the sign.  In hindsight I feel like I could've gone even bigger had I had bigger paper.  I used French Script for my "Brotherly" in size 250.  Using an exacto knife, I cut out my letters and placed them on the sign.  After taping down my corners, I got to work filling in the lines.
Leftover paint was great for this project.  I used some extra white paint I had leftover from another craft and applied with a foam brush.  Make sure to dab and not drag, as computer paper can tear easily.  Any mistakes can be touched up with a q-tip and some nail polish remover. 

For my heart I mixed some of the white and an acrylic red that I have hoarded for 5 years since my painting days at Saint Joe's (Art Minor ladies and gents).  I used a hoarded turquoise for my "Brotherly".  I found that I couldnt' make the O's or H's or L's in Brotherly without having to cut out a piece of paper and stick it onto the wood with tape so that I could paint around it.  Once I exacto'd that out from my original stencil, I was fine.  I removed the tacky paper pieces with tweezers when it was dry.

After paint dried, I needed to figure out how I was going to hang this massive, heavy sign on the wall.  I measured down from the top and marked two spots on each side for screws to go into.  I did this into the firring strips on the back so that the screw wouldn't make its way through to the front of my sign.  I even measured how far down I screwed those bad boys in to make sure I wasn't bumping one sign out off the wall more than the other.  I wound string back and forth between the two screws so I could hang the sign on something.  In hindsight, I'd have used wire, but once I start something I am pretty insane until I finish it.

The last step before hanging was going over the sign with a sanding block to wear down the paint for a weathered look.  Harry was pretty proud of me for my hard work.  Even though the sawing sounds were scary, he respectfully laid in front so Mom could take a picture....after being fed 4 hot dog pieces.