Monday, December 23, 2013

Do with your Dog: Paw Print Ornament

We have been pretty busy prepping for Christmas and dealing with yet another allergic reaction from Harry.  It turns out he is severely allergic to Blue Buffalo dog food and has rubbed off most of the fur on his neck as a result.  Cone dog for Christmas!  Before Harry's body revolted, we had a chance to make some Christmas memories by making a paw print ornament for our tree.  I purchased a kit at the end of the season last year at Bed Bath & Beyond for $2!
Someone is in my bed, Mom!
The kit came with mold-able dough, a mini rolling pin, ribbon, a straw to poke a hole with, and a circular cookie cutter.  To start, knead the dough a for about a minute, and then roll it flat onto a hard flat surface covered with foil.  I used a hardcover book.

When you've got it at an even thickness, clean your dog's paw and attempt to press a print into the dough.  If at first you don't succeed, try and try again.  It took us about three tries and lots of treats.

Once you've got a good paw print, center the cookie cutter around it and press down.  Remove any excess from the sides.  

I took this time to write in Harry's name and the year with a toothpick.  Then you can take the straw and poke a hole for your ribbon to go through.

Remove the cookie cutter, and let it air dry for a day.  Then peel it off the foil and let that part air dry for a day as well.  It might take up to three days for the ornament to dry completely.  Once it's dry you can thread ribbon through and hang it on the tree!

This is our only ornament that Harry made himself, but we were gifted a bunch last year that Harry helped hang on the tree.  He loves Christmastime!

Friday, December 6, 2013

First Day of School

There's a thing that's sprouted in Philadelphia.  It's called "Dog School".  It makes me want to clap my hands Molly Shannon style and do a Dog School chant it's so fantastic.  For $30 your dog is in daycare and can be there from as early as 7:30am to as late as 7pm.  They sold a Groupon a little while ago that we promptly bought so we could treat Harry to a fun day with new friends...while we got the house painted.
Walking to school!
Because it was Harry's first visit, he had to be one of the first dogs there so he wouldn't be overwhelmed.  None of us were nervous, we were all really excited...especially Harry who immediately made friends with the arriving dogs.  Dog School extends as far back as the first floor in a row home and has some stairs and platforms for your pooch to climb up, jump from, use as base, or command their clique.  

It also features (at least the one on 2nd street) a street level window where you can see them playing from outside.  Harry watched us walk away from said window. 

Throughout the day, Harry played and we received updates via text or through the Dog School Instagram account.  These were the two we found of Harry:

From their second post of Harry yawning, we knew he was having a good time.  He probably didn't know when to stop playing!  During the day the Dog School employees will take the pooches out for walks with a buddy and they also take that time to text Mommys & Daddys to let them know that everything is ok.  No snacks or meals are served at Dog School which was fine for us since Harry's diet is all specialty hypo-allergenic for now.  Apparently classmates can get jealous over treats, so all special treats and even toys need to be left at home.  The employees keep track of dogs, leashes, and collars on the chalkboard by the wall.  It reminded me of cubbies from pre-school.
Mom?  Dad?  Is that you?  Are you picking me up already?

We know Harry had a wonderful time because when we picked him up his tail was wagging and by the time we started the car he was already laying down.  After his dinner he promptly got himself into a proper Sound of Music Live viewing station, and passed out.

Dog School is tested and approved by us!  They have three locations in Philly with the same business model and hours.  Definitely treat your dog to a few days!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Dogs in Weddings

A funny thing happened while we were in Europe.  Something life changing, momentous, thoughtful, and what I consistently refer to as being so weird.

Harry proposed!  

No just kidding.  His Dad did.  However my niece has proposed to Harry and we are considering a dual wedding even though their relationship is incestual.  

But in all seriousness, now that I'm in this stage of engaged, I have to direct a lot of free time towards this activity called planning.  A lot of the wedding websites recommend coming up with an overall theme to help you make decisions and weave every aspect of the day together.  In my opinion, what would be a better theme than Harry?

I'll probably be teased for being obsessed, but I think that including our fur baby in our "special day" could be done tastefully.  I found this website that gave the when to include and when not to include your dog on your day:

We've already inquired about Harry being allowed on premises at a few of the venues we've visited.  Worst case scenario, Harry can't make a physical appearance.  And in that case you know he'll be featured in just about everything...

Plus, you can't deny he looks good in a tux.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Cone of Shame

Since June Harry has been battling back to back skin, ear, and paw infections.  He was prescribed soothing shampoos, omega-3 supplements, and steroids but once finished he would begin itching and scratching himself to the point of creating visible bleeding scratches on his face and under his body.  

In September we called our vet asking for an accompanying antibiotic to fight any infections that were going on due to Harry's scratching and as Harry weaned off the antibiotics and steroid (while we were in Europe) his skin and even his eyes began to inflame which resulted in a trip to Penn Dermatology.
Still snuggles, even with a cone on
Penn Dermatology so far has been so good.  They studied Harry in teams of students and gave us so much information it was actually overwhelming.  Then they sent us home with a packet which covered everything we talked about and more plus a crapload of drugs, treatments, ointments, soaks, and shampoo.  They also recommended Harry wear a t-shirt, and we took it a step further by also having him wear socks.
Harry's "frosted corn pops with marshmallows" aka drugs

So what's eating Harry?  It's not scabies (what we originally thought) and is likely allergies to something unknown.  Right now we're trying to figure out exactly what that is.  Harry's on a Purina diet of Hypoallergenic food which also comes with special treats called "Gentle Snackers" which is probably the worst name for a treat ever.  His food is prescribed and is super expensive.  And all the treats, peanut butters, toothpastes, even nylabones at home had to be put away as they could have an ingredient that Harry's allergic to.  Essentially, by putting Harry on this diet we're conducting an experiment.  The food is the constant, and we're supposed to clear Harry's infections and then observe to see if any scratching or licking occurs.  

After 8 weeks of food trialing, we need to reintroduce Harry to his old food, which for us was Blue Buffalo in Chicken flavor.  If he reacts with extreme scratching and paw licking then we know for sure he is allergic to his food.  At that point we can begin a food trial where we put him back on his special prescribed food and test him on a bi-weekly basis with a different kind of food.  We then observe his reactions and note whether or not he's allergic to it.  Just like scientists!  Harry's food test is the following:

1.  Cooked Ground Beef
2.  Cooked Chicken
3.  Cottage Cheese (or any other cheese)
4.  Soy (yea, we literally give Harry tofu!)
5.  Cooked Lamb (ok classy...)
6.  Hard Boiled Eggs (can't wait for the farts)
7.  Wheat (pasta, cereal, wheat germ)
8.  Corn
9.  Cooked Pork

After the testing is all done - which I feel will take 6 months - we'll have a list of what Harry is and isn't allergic to.  Then we can read ingredients and buy a cheaper food that won't irritate him.  However, if Harry is STILL itching after the food tests it may be due to seasonal or environmental allergies.  Harry's cousin Jager has been blessed with both and has to receive a shot every week.  Luckily his Mommy is a nurse.  I'm not sure how well the Foo and I are going to handle shooting up Harry every week.
So miserable.
We're really happy and Harry's really happy that he's feeling better.  It's been a pricey process, but it is seriously no fun at all having a sick puppy.  Cone of shame has been put away and now we just monitor Harry when we're home.  It'll be exciting to document all the food trials along the way - hope you're looking forward to it!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Happy Halloween Harry 2013

For the second year in a row Harry participated in the best holiday of the year.  Halloween is by far our favorite holiday as we're always looking for an excuse to dress up as something other than ourselves.  It's also super fun to imagine Harry dressed up as pretty much anything and I am more than happy to make it myself.  You may remember last year when our little family dressed up as Hall & Oates featuring Keyboard Cat (Harry).  This year we were a family of Potato Heads.

I made our costumes with felt, a sewing machine, and a hot glue gun....but the sewing machine wasn't even necessary.  The whole costume could be no sew if you're a non-sewer.  For Harry's costume, I cut out a potato shape and measured how big it should be by putting a scrap of felt over his body and cutting it where it should end.  Then I shaped this into the pear-like shape the Potato-Heads tend to have.  At first, it looked like a piece of toast, but with some shaping with my scissors it became potato.

In order to keep the potato on I had to add a strap under Harry's belly.  Again I took a scrap of felt and put it around his belly to see how long it needed to be.  I sewed this onto the inside of the potato, but could have easily used a glue gun.  On the opposite side I glued down velcro and I glued a piece of velcro to the strap so that I could easily secure his costume.  

The potato was still sliding down Harry's body and onto the floor so I decided to make a neck loop across Harry's chest.  I did this by gluing a scrap of felt on the inside of the potato and across Harry's chest.  No sew - just hot glue!  

Harry's facial features were made with felt and secured with velcro.  I didn't have time to make as many faces as I made for Harry's Dad's costume, but if ever there's a Toy Story party Harry will surely be prepared.  For Halloween, Dad let Harry borrow his bowler hat.  We couldn't get a shot of him as full on Mr. Potato Head, but you can use your imagination.  Maybe somebody should start selling mini dog bowler hats, because from the looks below, this hat was meant for Harry's scruffy sophistication.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Harry's Green Thumb Part II

By now you've noticed that the weather is making a turn for the worse.  These past few weekends we've enjoyed the best days ever...highs of 70s and sunny days.  If you remember back in May Harry helped me create a roof deck garden.  This October, he helped me rip it all out and replant for a winter garden.

Some pretty fascinating stuff happened while we were up there.  We found all the evil squirrels' hiding places for the tomatoes they steal from me.  Exhibit A (this pot was on top of a high shelf...sneaky squirrels):

And we also noticed some plants growing that we hadn't planted.  Exhibit B:

When squirrels were eating our ripened tomatoes I chucked the bits they leftover into a pot full of dirt hoping they'd compost or something.  Turns out that they turned into tomato plants.  We assumed it was a weed and after inspection saw that it was growing through a tomato that was tossed.  Seriously...we were fascinated.

We picked everything that had grown and we ripped out the plants we knew wouldn't be able to produce fully grown fruit before it got too cold.  Then we fed the dirt, raked it around, and planted our fall/winter garden of radishes, beets, carrots, and garlic.  

We also planted tulips that I brought over from Amsterdam on my Eurotrip.  The squirrels have taken a few hostage.  It's fun to keep up the habits instead of waiting around until May and we've never tried growing root vegetables, so it'll be cool to see how things turn out!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Rescue Run 2013

One of the first things Harry and I did together upon returning from vacation (besides snuggling) was participate in the first annual Rescue Run benefiting the Monster Milers, a charity organization dedicated to volunteering at animal shelters across Philadelphia.  

Harry was ecstatic about going to the race.  He briefly saw me off at the Philadelphia Marathon in the morning, but this time he was able to see me start, finish, and celebrate post race.  Unfortunately Harry couldn't run the race with me, and I'm ok with that.  When Harry runs with a group, aka one other person besides me, it takes him at least 10 minutes of spastic shouty (I'm the one who's shouty) running to realize that he can't jump all over the person joining our run.  And it's not really any fun for our third party either...getting jumped on that is, running is hard enough on its own.

The Rescue Run was an out and back style 5k where everyone started together and ended whenever.  It was pretty casual but also timed for the serious runners.  The race maxed out at 500 runners - a sell out for year one, yahoo!  Since dogs weren't allowed to run on the course, they spectated, making it a very exciting day for Harry as he thrust himself forward to greet any and all fur-beasts in sight.  

As far as human spectators go, there weren't many.  Since the race was in the Navy Yard, most spectators were cheering racers on at the start/finish line rather than outside of their houses like they do for bigger races in the city.  One sign stood out that read along the lines of "Run faster!  There are puppies waiting for you at the finish!".  If only every race could give me this kind of motivation.  

The 5k was harder than I planned on, likely due to me not running a single mile over the two weeks I was in Europe.  But I think for me I got a respectable time that I will not share with the blogosphere because I prefer not to be judged.  We wrapped up the race by attempting to take a picture in front of the sweet logo wall.  Unfortunately all we really did there was embarrass ourselves in front of the well behaved pooches.  Perhaps next year Harry will be a bit more mellow.

Races benefiting dogs are amazing and this one in particular sponsors an awesome group of volunteers that I actually used to be a part of a couple years ago.  It's where I got my Harry-fix pre-Harry.  Consider joining or adopting from one of the many shelters in Philadelphia they volunteer in:  PAWS Wellness Clinic, PAWS Adoption Center, and Street Tails Animal Rescue!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Harry's Summer Vacation

Sorry for the lack of posting these past three weeks.  I just returned for a 2 week vacation in Europe and Harry returned from a 2 week vacation in cousinworld.  We are still struggling with Harry's health situation and the cone of shame came back earlier this week.  For 3 months we thought Harry was suffering from scabies, but now that he's had three treatments of Revolution and a crapload of antibiotics and steroids he's back to being really irritated, sad, and red.  Hopefully our appointment with Penn Dermatology sheds some light to the situation.  Cross your fingers (and paws) for us!

Back to vacation...Harry had so much fun with his fur-cousin Jager and his human cousin Kiera over the two weeks the boo (the foo now?) and I were in Europe.  Harry knew we were going away and refused to give us kisses goodbye or any kind of affection since he was mad at us, but his attitude completely changed when he arrived at his cousin Jager's house.  

First thing was first, him and his babysitter would need to discuss who was in charge.  Harry quickly established that.

After some compromise the roles were adjusted.

While we were biking through the green-green grass in Hyde Park, Harry buried himself in the yard with Jager effectively tiring out his cousin every single night of the week.

And while we indulged in Belgian chocolates, Harry and Jager indulged in vanilla ice cream to celebrate Jager's birthday...

Harry spent quality time with his cousins, and we spent quality time with each other...

But we didn't get as much time to snuggle and nap as Harry did...even though we were just as tired.

But even though all of us had an amazing time on our vacations...we were still ecstatic to see each other when we came home!

Harry slept for two days after his vacation while we had to go straight back to work.  Must be nice to live a dog's life!  He can't wait to visit with his cousins again soon!