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Summer is for The Dogs

You’ve heard it said before: our pets are loving quarantine. The only thing Stevie Nicks likes better than us staying home with her, is her going on vacation with us.

For the fourth of July weekend, we travelled up north to one of our fave places, Madeline Island, WI.

It was a different trip than usual: no dining inside restaurants, no bar hopping, no hanging by the pool. So it was take the dogs to beaches, day after day.

They loved it.

This was Stevie’s second trip to the island, but it was the first for her friend Lyle, and the umpteenth for old man Monte. At first Stevie was swimming laps around Lye-Lyle corocdile, butt after a day or so Lyle was kicking her doodle butt at stick fetching!

Lyle, the black doodle above, has a neat trick: he likes to dive for rocks. We didn’t understand at first, but as you’ll see in the following slideshow, he likes to sort through the rocks underwater with his paws, and pull one where he can get it, then sticks his head underwater!

Monte is the handsomest boy, but he has never been a big stick chaser. He’d rather catch water in the air, or the occasional rock. He’s 14 now, and fighting cancer, so we were happy to see him enjoy himself!

Lyle and Monte are brothers, and they tried to play together a bit, but Lyle is a puppy and his crazy speed revs a bit higher than Monte’s.

Oh yes: there were humans on the trip as well!

Goof balls. They managed it, but man they looked silly!

We head back up in a month or so. I think the dogs are already in the car, waiting to go!

Holding On to the Date Nights

So what did we do on date nights in February?

We did things on our own, as well as with groups. I do enjoy having “date nights” with other couples, as we find we are inspiring others to branch out and do new things. Any time we can encourage others to step outside of their box, it doubles the fun!

The first weekend we went to Vegas, so no one-on-one date nights, but lots of fun with two of our fave couples! We do Vegas every year with these guys and always have a blast.

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Highlights included seeing Santana at the House of Blues — I love a concert, and especially when I have room to dance!

We visited  Lisa Van derPump’s new place at Caesar’s for lunch beforehand, As expected: drinks were delish, ambiance was OTT, and the food yummy (of course we had the goat cheese balls!).

We happened to be in town for Super Bowl (never again), and we rented a cabana where our group got to enjoy drinks, food, and sun while watching the wrong team win.

img_1309That night was a great dinner at a new-for-us restaurant, Catch at Aria.

 

The next weekend was my turn to plan, and HWSNBN was left in the dark as long as possible That was a long time indeed, as we had to pack a suitcase and drive more than 2 hours into the frozen tundra. He could not figure out where we were going, which was really fun for me.

Can I just give you a suggestion?

If you ever get a chance to attend a concert by the guy who wrote the soundtrack to your early love life as a couple, do it!

Richard Marx was playing at a casino and we hoofed it up north to see. he was so fantastic! I knew he had a huge catalog of songs and had written and collaborated with many, many famous performers. Hearing him tell the stories and sing the songs was so cool! He is a very funny guy. After the show, we hit the casino floor. ‘Twas a mite bit different than the Vegas casinos of the previous weekend, but it was fun feeling like a high roller, lol! Chicken strips and fries for dinner were also a far cry from the Haute cuisine of seven days prior, but that’s ok. This was our date, and it even reminded me of when we would run away for a night in college to Lake Tahoe, stay up all night then drive back.

 

This was one of those dates that never would’ve happened if we had planned it together. HWSNBN hates car trips — 30 minutes to St Paul makes him lose his mind. And he would’ve rolled his eyes at the idea of this concert. But he was wowed, and we really had a blast.

We had another sort of date that weekend. I mean, not really, but it was such a fun thing to do I wanted to share it. That Sunday, there was a huge dog-sled race called the Klondike Dog Derby on frozen Lake Minnetonka. we didn’t make all the pre-game festivities, of the days before, but we grabbed our dog, piled on the clothing layers, and trudged through the snow out onto the lake. I am excited to see that they will be doing this race again next year, because it was a very fun experience. I hope it is as sunny and gorgeous as it was this year. I would love to make it a “block party” event!

The following weekend was a double-date night with our friends’ Beth and Cory. Beth had reached out to me a couple of months prior, having found a Groupon she wanted to try. The outing had been on my date-night list already, so I agreed, and we surprised the guys with an evening of glass blowing at Foci! We each made colorful paperweights, and the whole process was super interesting. I’d love to try it again!

Afterward, we went out to dinner, and I have to say it was an epic fail. I was in charge of the dinner reservations, and I picked a place I would NEVER go to again. That stinks. Beth and Cory were polite, but it was embarrassing on my end.

The next week we had a double date and a single date planned. I have learned that when you miss someone and want to hang out, you should do so. So often we run into people places and say “we should get together!” Then, you never do? So now I try to reach out the next day and schedule something. Like, hey, what are you guys free on these dates?” I never regret it — there is a reason you say that whole “let’s get together sometime” thing. You like those people!

So earlier in the week, I had reached out a couple we enjoy, Matt and Kristy, whom we hadn’t hung out with in a while. We were miraculously both free, so Friday night we met for dinner and an activity. First up was a fantastic meal at Borough (we had tried to go to Parlour, but it was a madhouse. Another time!). Dinner was great and inventive, and the cocktails were the same.

We hung out a really long time chatting, then hopped into the car and went to the next locale: Modist brewery. they were having an indoor golf event, which sounded like something new and fun to try. But I read it wrong: it wasn’t the whole putting green deal. It was frisbee golf from TC Putts and Pints!

We had a ball — even if we did suck. I mean, I definitely sucked more than the others. But none of us was gonna be in the Masters.

Our last date night of February was planned by HWSNBN. It was on the calendar as “awesome date night,” and he was very excited to share it with me. This was a Tuesday night, date, showing that fun can be had on even the most basic of days!

Off we went to Badger Hill Brewing Company in Shakopee, where we participated in a Paint Your Pet Night by Gray Duck Art. HWSNBN had sent pics of our dog Stevie Nicks and our foster pup, Weeble, and we had a fancy paint by numbers kit waiting for us! Throw in a great beer and a Heggie’s frozen pizza and we had a ball!

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The March date report will be abbreviated, I fear — and April’s will likely be so as well. Social distancing is tough on our adventures, but we get it. It just gives me time to map out new things in a healthier future!

Thanks A Lot

(Meant to post this last week. What a shocker: my blog is late…)

In November I do “the Thankful Project.” That means that every day of the month I post on Facebook something I am thankful for. Some days it’s easy to come up with something that makes me genuinely grateful. Other days, its a struggle. But I think that’s the point of the exercise: no matter what is going on in your life, you need to know that there is good in your life.

Here’s a day to day account of this month’s project!

Thankful project day 1: HWSNBN is home from his European trip, and so tonight: we date!

Thankful project day 2: spending the day with my friend Anna learning travel secrets at the Thrifty Traveler University. My head is reeling with all the info, but I can’t wait to put it to use!

Thankful project day 3: In a few hours I will see my girlie!!! Been more than 2 months since I’ve seen Singer Girl!

Thankful project day 4: the amazing volunteers at Secondhand Hounds. Every week it seems I have a puppy party staffing crisis. But somehow, all the dogs, drivers and wranglers come together in the end. And I can breathe, even when a time Zone away!(I was visiting Singer Girl at school in Ann Arbor)

Thankful project day 6: that Singer Girl discovered this fascinating big school in such a cute little town! @uofmichigan #goblue #college #annarbor #thankfulproject @University of Michigan

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Thankful project day 7: Kate at Peak Life Clinic! Who knew getting voluntarily suck with dozens of little needles would make me feel so good? Headache? What headache?http://peaklifeclinic.com/?fbclid=IwAR1YVaK83QYe5YDXO60UBos4vDClXTXjQpYoFS2fP1f1mzysPjhf3CC9D4A

Thankful project day 8: that I am able to spend fun days with my mom! Thanks for planning our outing! (we went to a huge craft fair/Christmas boutique event at US Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Vikings) 74365739_10220359545409009_362196215569317888_n

Thankful project day 9: tears and heartache. Today I said goodbye to the last of the sub pups. Stickball Special was my favorite from day one, and I’d be lying if I wasn’t a tiny bit grateful every time the vet said he needed more time before he could go to his forever home. So today I cried. And my heart hurts. But when I see the smile on his adopter’s face, I know it’s okay. Lots of highs fostering this group (like having folks call them fat when I know how hard we worked to feed them) and lows (I still miss sweet Phyllis). My heart hurts, but I am grateful for the opportunity to help them survive and thrive. @shhfostersmn #StickballSpecial #Styx #neonatal #givetothemaxday #adopted #yellowlab @ Lake Minnetonka 73224770_10220370101952916_7802760665390645248_o

Thankful project day 10: that I live in a place that has so much character and variety and fun (and that I have cool friends who want to explore it with me!). Today’s calories brought to you from @kegandcasemn , @truckparkusa, #cosettasstpaul #sundayfunday #thankfulproject #food #stpaul #minnevangelist @ Saint Paul, Minnesota 74915057_10220383104917982_5047409986750119936_o

Thankful project day 11: my dad, my son, my nephew, my father in law, my uncle, my brother in law, my grandfathers, and all my ancestors who have served in all the wars of this country. Thank you for your service. (Veterans’ Day post) 318417_2564603604658_1340499554_n

Thankful project day 12 (yesterday!): that I have found the Skipper salute community, where we hold each other’s hands while we hand over kleenex and pour the wine. This weekend I get to help make holiday care packages for military men and women deployed all over the globe through the valiant efforts of Semper Fi Flo. If you want to help, she is still accepting donations!

Thankful project day 13: I am FINALLY getting around to getting the Spooktacular pics published! (this referenced my Halloween Party blog post)

Thankful project day 14: thanks to everyone who has donated today to their favorite charities! Give to the Max Day is THE BIGGEST day of the year for many. It certainly is for Secondhand Hounds! What happens today determines the course of the next year — who we can save. We have a benefactor who has pledged to match your donations, so please contribute something. ANYTHING will help! Donate before midnight tonight!

Thankful project day 15: yesterday I kinda chilled, as the day before had been pretty darn crazy! Two puppy parties, and lots of online stalking watching the G2theMax numbers changing.  At the end, we did it. Actually, YOU did it! Secondhand Hounds brought in $400,000 in donations! That. Is Amazing. Every dollar will count — whether it’s $10 to microchip a dog, or $5000 to save a sick litter of puppies with parvo or distemper (we have THREE such litters right now, two with parvo, one with distemper. So far we have lost about six puppies, but we are working hard to save the rest. Vaccinate your pets, people!!!). Thank you to all!

Thankful project day 16: Stevie Nicks! Happy gotcha day, Miss Stevie. The Stevester has been with us officially for one year today, and we couldn’t be more grateful. She is still a bit of a hot mess at times (some people have dogs who defend their homes against strangers. Ours pees.). And yet again we find ourselves dog proofing when we leave the house — but not against food, as we did for Penny Torres, but for anything miss neurotic can destroy during her fear we won’t return. Like tissues. Or baking soda. Or scrub brushes. But she is bombproof with puppies, a hilarious goofball, and makes coming home a joy. I recommend everyone feather their empty nest with a touch of fur! 75486070_10220434757809272_3258653513529425920_o

Thankful project day 17: cooking. I am grateful that having food is a given for me and those I love. I am grateful that I get joy from cooking. I am grateful that I have people with whom to share a meal. Tonight’s meal includes wild rice given to me as a gift from the lovely gal who adopted my last foster. Food brings us together! 74188269_10220449173729661_555894013643718656_n

Thankful project day 18: the Power of 100. This amazing group of like-minded women meets quarterly to choose a locally-based charity to support. Each time three people present worthy options and the group votes who to support. After many tries on my part, they picked the neonatal program at Secondhand Hounds.

Some folks have questioned why I kept presenting. Well, every time I got up and spoke, a few people stopped me afterwards. Either to hand me a separate check, or to ask questions. I met wonderful women who were genuinely I trigger about fostering, adoption, rescue, and how they could help. So yes: the meant is amazing. But the chance to bring awareness is invaluable.

If you would like to learn more about the Power of 100, come with me next time! It’s a fun, quick, casual gathering, and the group has donated more than $100,000 to local charities!

 

Thankful project day 19: going clubbing in my 50s. Wine club, meet book club. #thankful #thankfulproject #bookclub #wineclub @pejuwinery #pinotnoir @calmereestatewinery @annpatchett #thedutchhouse #wine

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Thankful project day 20 (yesterday): Etsy! I can shop online and still support small business people!!

Thankful project day 21: the moments I have left with my dad. 75081232_10220484626055947_3101722198876880896_n

 

Thankful project day 22: a quiet night at home. Dinner will likely be popcorn and wine, and I’m okay with that. Busy (but fun) weeks ahead!

Thankful project day 23: new friends who enjoy doing fun things! @mn_arb #lights #holiday #doubledatenight #tistheseason @ Minnesota Landscape Arboretum 76911049_10220512657756722_2248418798249967616_o

Thankful project day 24: that my brother Trevor found Sarah and married her 6 years ago today. She’s a keeper. Him? Jury’s still out. Happy anniversary you crazy kids!

Thankful project day 25: bubble baths, books, and wine! (yeah, I’ve mentioned 2 of the 3 of those before. But I am on my third book since that post, and well, like more than that bottles of wine since then)

Thankful project day 26 (again, a day late): the girl is home! And thank goodness Singer Girl arrived before the storm!

Thankful project day 27: (I posted a link to my blog post, “Merry Thanksvgivmas”)

Thankful project day 28: the Melly-dallys and their infinite hospitality. Thank you, Mike, Erika, Lucy, Joey and Paige for another fun, delicious Thanksgiving. Fat and happy, signing off!

Thankful project day 29: When you are ready to snuggle in for the night before 7pm, and Netflix drops an almost 4 hour movie that you’ve been excited to see. I mean, I know we’ll never finish it in one sitting, but at least we have a fighting chance to get it more than halfway done! (NOTE: we watched “The Irishman.” So good!)

Thankful project day 30: the tree is up, and my girl Is home for one last night. It has been an emotional few days, and I will miss her again when she is gone.

We all need to concentrate on what we have in this life, and not worry so much about what we lack. I am thankful for all of you!

The Results Are In

So just a quick follow up from yesterday (betcha didn’t think I’d post again this fast!)

As soon as Stevie Nicks (fka as Sissy) arrived, I did her DNA and sent it out,  The results came in this morning!

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve heard all sorts of thoughts on what she was — a doodle (my bet), an Irish Wolfhound (my daughter’s dream), a wheaten terrier (I was worried about that one, as they are notoriously hyper) and the latest: a Tibetan terrier.  had to google that one: she does look like it! So, what is she?

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Reading about the various breeds, as described by the good folks at Wisdo Panel, I can see it:

Great Pyrenees: “Can be standoffish and wary with strangers and has a tendency to bark.”  Yeah, that sounds like her.  She is a tad nervous when new folks arrive, but quickly warms up (the submissive peeing is getting better, thankfully). She is, unfortunately, much barkier than I am used to.  Hoping to get some training ricks to work on that.  Like a Great Pyr, she is so soft and fluffy! She has a white streak down her chest that I just love to pet! People often comment on how mellow she is for a puppy, and the Great Pyr litters I have been around are kinda dopey, sweet, chill animals.

Standard Poodle: “Have a sensitive nature and respond well to motivational tools such as treats or favorite toys in a reward-based approach to training.” Yeah, she is so into the food.  All the food.  She learned sit too quickly: when she goes outside to potty, she knows which pocket my treats are in and sits, rather than potties, to get food.  We are working on that, too.

Golden Retriever: “Happy-go-lucky, calm, or easy-going dogs, although some can be energetic or nervous. Usually friendly and are generally good family dogs.” Sounds about right.  Also food motivated, like the Great Pyr and poodle.  We have already caught her stealing food, pantry surfing like her predecessor.  Not good. Working on the food whore-dom.

Terrier group: this one they don’t know which terrier, just that some scruffy business is in there.

Her family tree:

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So basically she has purebred grandparents and great grandparents.  Then someone created a goldendoodle (my guess!), and a pure bred Great Pyr slummed it with a third-generation mutt.  Then their kids hooked up, and we got Stevie.

My fave thing about this is that, most likely, we got the good genes from all the breeds.  They also did her health history, and she genetically only carries markers to sightly increase her chances of two illnesses, both that we can all work with. Her adult size is estimated to get to 40-70 pounds, which is just fine with us.  I mean, let’s be honest: we’d be fine with whatever she ends up being!46302869_10217480512714991_792672863432736768_n

Dogs are like Glass Slippers

Once again I take too long between blog posts.  I just haven’t had any big doings in my life to report on — no trips, no big changes, no crazy silly stories.  We’ve just been kinda settling in to empty nesting.  It’s going well.  Trying to do date nights every week, but life sometimes gets in the way.  HWSNBN has been travelling, I spent October getting ready for our annual Halloween bash. Oh: and we got back into fostering.

As you know, we have had a gigantic hole in our hearts and lives since we lost Penny.  Fostering was just too much.  But before we went on our Greece and Croatia trip, there was a dog languishing in the office, waiting for a foster with no kids, no dogs, no cats.  That was us.  I told the family if Sirius was still looking when we got back, we were taking him.  So we did.

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He wasn’t an especially easy foster, but so sweet. He had become increasingly aggressive in his adoptive home.  The owners tried everything they could, but he was just too afraid of the world.  Interestingly enough, this was from birth.  He had been the most skittish puppy in the litter, but everyone assumed he would grow out of t with love.  But he didn’t.  Just like some people are naturally shy or hesitant, Sirius needed to learn how to control his environment.  Moving him into a kidless, dogless environment would be a good way to reset to factory settings as it were.  There were a few days when I was worried he would never be adoptable, but Second Hand Hounds believed in him, and footed the bill for an in home trainer, leash aggression classes, and a doggy behavioralist.

With time and training and medication, he became a happy dog.  The cutest couple ever applied for him, and we all took a chance.  Would he be OK in their urban yard with a short, see-through chain link fence? With dogs and humans and cars and critters and kids everywhere?  He was.  He is now renamed Pico de Gallo, and is well loved.

We are often asked “are you going to keep this one? How do you let them go?”  We loved Sirius, but he was not our dog.  We entertain too much, and want a dog that likes to party at home and go out in public, not to mention one that will welcome other dogs into his home so we can continue to foster.  Our life would’ve been awful for him.  And I often say the best part of fostering IS the letting go: it’s when you get to complete a family circuit.  My favorite moment is taking and  sharing that photo of the once-lost dog going home with his new family.  Best feeling in the world.

But what about us?

After Sirius, we took in Goober, a temp foster.  Goober was a silly, intensely lovable pit bull that seriously wanted to be with us 24-7.  And by with us, I mean physically a part of us.  When I showered, he stood with his nose pressed up against the glass, as if fearful I would wash down the drain.  HWSNBN thought Goober was great, but couldn’t commit to a pitty.  “Too affectionate,” he said.  “I need my personal space.”

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So Goober was not our dog.

Next came Lady.  On paper, Lady seemed very much like what we would want.  House trained, crate trained, god with kids and dogs.  She was some sort of greyhound mix we thought, so probably a good running partner.

We brought her home and set about getting to know her.  She was easy: slept through the night, didn’t steal food, didn’t bark when folks came to the door, etc.  Very sweet, but not overly clingy.  But there was something missing.  We just didn’t feel it.  I asked my husband what he thought. “About adopting her? I mean, she’s great and all.  But shouldn’t she go to someone who is excited about her?” He made an excellent point.

Lady

So she went on the website, and shortly we received an application from a veterinarian.  She, her husband and their two young daughters had lost their two dogs a few months back, and were looking for a new one to fill their family’s dog-shaped hole.  They met lady, and loved her.  They were giddy about her.  The little girls couldn’t stop talking about her.  She was THEIR dog.

Shortly after Lady left us, I got an email from her adopters.  They had renamed her, as most do.  Her new name was going to be Penny.

They did not know about the sweet beast that left us in April.  They had picked her name for the color of her fur — the exact same reason we had named ours Penny.

It was a sign to me that our Penny had moved on, and now it was time for us to welcome a new furry family member.

Meanwhile, I had seen a picture of a dog on the Facebook page of one of our partner rescues in Kentucky.  Something hit me in the heart, and I immediately asked if she was coming to Minnesota.  If so, she was mine.

And she is!

She came to us as Sissy, but has now been renamed Stevie Nicks.  We don’t know what she is (DNA pending) so not sure how big she will grow to be.  Some say she is done at 6 months old, others think he will get bigger.  She’s only about 26 pounds, which is small for us.  She is a complete ragamuffin thing.  She is not house broken.  She may never be a runner.  She is not a late sleeper (we’re hoping she grows out of that quickly).  But we love her. On paper, she is very wrong for us.

My kids think it’s weird that she is so similar to our Penny, but most folks adopt a type.  I mean, if we always did yellow labs, or chihuahuas, or boxers, wouldn’t they all be similar? But they are all different.  And they are all perfect.

Over the years I have had to say no to many adopters, not because they weren’t great but because  simply can’t share a dog between applicants.  Often they come back to me later and thank me for saying no — because they had since adopted THEIR dog.  Had they taken the other, they would never have known this one.  I feel that way about Stevie.  I am grossly infatuated with her, and can’t keep my eyes and hands off her.

The perfect dog is a fairy tale — or, as I called it when I told folks we were “fostering with intent,” looking for our unicorn.  But they are like glass slippers.  They don’t fit everyone.  But they fit the right one.

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