Why Dogs and Food?



Why Dogs and Food?

It's simple. Write about what you love. And what is better than dogs and food? If you are anything like me - and millions of other people - you will relate to and understand the unwavering love I have for my dogs and my passion for cooking - and eating - great food. I hope you will enjoy reading about my day to day experiences with good food and a couple of very special dogs.

Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Loving Henry

"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." ~ Anatole France

In loving memory of my sweet Henry.

Loving Henry
George Bernard Shaw said: "Heartbreak is life educating us."  I'm all for education; I just wish it didn't have to hurt so much sometimes.

I lost my beloved Henry on June 24, 2014.  It's been a month already since that sweet boy closed his eyes and soared to the rainbow bridge and still, I grieve.  I still look for that happy smile and those big, bright, brown exotic eyes.  I still wait to hear his 'woo-woo' howl when I walk through the door in the evenings.  But it doesn't come.  He isn't at the door, wagging his whole body, and he isn't even around the corner, lying in his hammock bed, wiggling and woo-wooing because he just can't get up anymore to greet me at the door.  Even Walter, his big brother, lies quietly on the floor next to the place where Henry's bed used to be.  I had to take it away because Walter wouldn't use it and it was a painful, empty reminder - like Tiny's Tim's lonely crutch standing solemnly in the corner by the fireplace.  I would rather look at all the smily, happy photographs all over the house to give me glimpses of Henry's beautiful spirit.

Henry loves his hammock bed
I swear, I have cried so many buckets of tears in my lifetime, I could fill the Pacific Ocean.  I have dealt with a lot of loss in the past year.  I was divorced in September of 2013; I lost Macky, my 22-year old kitty (and my longest companion), on February 14th of this year; and now Henry is gone, too.  It's a lot to wrap my head around and I find myself floating in a deep sea of thoughts and emotions so often lately. I have been donating to many animal rescue causes with Henry in mind, because he had such a generous spirit; and perhaps I can help ease the pain of an animal in need.  I think about getting another dog.  Not to replace Henry, and not because I must have another dog - but for a companion to Walter, who has deeply experienced all these losses, too.  He is such a soulful creature and he seems to be a little lost and lonely after losing almost all his family members and best buddies.  Walter is getting on in age as well, and he doesn't have a lot of energy anymore.  But he is true blue and my devoted companion.  We spend a lot of quiet time together these days.  

It's summer time and I can't help but think about Henry running into the bay to paddle around with that look of pure concentration and rapture!  He really loved to swim!  I think it also helped his joints feel better.  Henry loved life so much.  Every walk we took was an adventure for him.  Every nook and every cranny was sniffed and inspected and every sound was captured and pondered.  He was such a joy to watch; and to be around Henry, was to be truly happy and at peace.

Henry loved to swim.  Smooth as silk.
Henry might have been serious about swimming but he also had a comedic side. Check him out in his Halloween costume here:

Henry as a Mad Scientist.  What a good sport!
When I went to the Denver International airport to pick up Henry after being flown to me from Canada's Kyon Kennels in April of 2003, I could hear his yelps echoing in back of the cargo area before they even brought out his crate.  Everyone was laughing because he had so much energy and made it very clear that he wanted out of that crate right away!  I was more than happy to take him out and hold that little ball of white fluff while I signed the retrieval documents.  He was licking my face and squirming in my arms; and I knew from that moment, that I was going to love him forever.

Look at that sweet, baby face!
As a baby, Henry liked to sleep on his back.  Silly dilly.
I know there are many people who say they will never get another pet because they could not bear to go through the grief of losing another one.  I get that - I really do.  The grief is excruciating.  But if we didn't have the sorrow, we would have never known the joy.  That's the deal, isn't it?

So, I say: Here's to the joy! Here's to knowing that my soul has certainly been awakened because I have definitely known the unconditional love and devotion of an animal.

Here's to loving Henry.

Always watchful and caring
My beautiful boy.

Forever, Henry 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

For the Love of Old Dogs

"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion."


Having senior pets can be challenging. Having three senior pets at one time can be extremely challenging. But I will tell you why I will be there every step of the way, whenever they need me, for as long as they need me. Our pets are our family members. For me, mine are my kids. I raised my cat, Mac, since he was only hours old - found abandoned in a garbage dumpster shortly after his birth. I have raised my dogs from 8 weeks old. Yes, they are my kids. They are part of me - deep inside my heart and forever in my soul.

In the past year, my little family has had to face a good deal of change. My husband moved out of our home and the boys had to tackle some major adjustments - as did I. It's hard to explain to your pups why their dad is gone and never coming back. He played a big part in their daily routines and I know it was a confusing time for them. With the help of an animal communicator friend, I have come to learn that they are more concerned about me and how I am feeling than they are for their own well-being. How so truly "golden" of them! Golden Retrievers are known for their relentless mission to please everyone. And lucky me - I get to be their mom – top dog, and their True North.

My boys have been loyally by my side like Velcro pillows - every step of the way through my pain - and through my joy. Anyone that has lived with a dog cannot deny that dogs have feelings. I am a believer that their feelings go beyond human emotions. They are bona fide empaths. Walter and Henry are like sponges - literally soaking up my sorrow, selflessly making it their own cross to bear; and yet, in a heartbeat, they so effortlessly rejoice in every single, little delight.

The boys are getting older now and I know I have to confront the inevitable decline in the way-too-short lives of our dear, animal friends. They don't move as comfortably as before. They need a little boost from me when they stand up or climb the stairs. We make more visits to the Vet than we did before. But, no matter how tired or how stiff they seem to be, when I walk through that door in the evenings, somehow - and believe me, I know it must take a great deal of effort - they hoist themselves up off the floor just so they can greet me at the door with that exuberance only a dog can exhibit. Seriously, I don’t know any human that would exert themselves to that extent without complaint. To me, it is the most genuine and truest love. It’s that completely pure, unconditional love that we humans are either not capable of giving or just not willing to show.

In all the years I have lived with these fiercely devoted animals, I have come to believe that a dog’s feelings are far more intense than human feelings. We humans are capable of loving and hating the same person (sometimes at the same time!) where I believe that once dogs love a human, they will always love that human, no matter what. And each time they see the ones they love, they simply can’t help but show how truly happy they are. How fortunate are those who have lived with dogs and have known that kind of devotion!

So, as they grow older, and may not be as “easy” as they were when they were younger and could easily get up off the floor on their own, climb stairs without a boost, run around the dog park with boundless energy, effortlessly jump up into the bed and cuddle every night…I will be by their sides through every ache, every pain and every thrill they experience - not just because I know they would do no less for me….but because I want them to know I would never do less for them.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Dinner for One



“We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink, for dining alone is leading the life of a lion or a wolf.” ~ Epicurus







I have been remiss in posting to my blog. Actually, for the past six months or so, I have been remiss in doing most things I did before the recent changes in my life. Changes can be good and for the most part, I welcome change; but the changes that occur because they have been forced upon me due to significant and unfortunate life events, sometimes take a little extra effort to embrace. But here I am, surrendering to the inescapable, relentless changes that inevitably come with divorce. For all of you who have gone through the break-up of a marriage – or any long-term human relationship – the realization of it all is like jumping into ice cold water. It shocks and paralyzes. Thawing out takes some time.



Thank goodness my boys have been by my side to see me through some of the darker days.







I have been working hard and trying to get through all the emotional stuff that goes with the territory. Finally, I decided to take a little trip in an attempt to leave the daily grind behind, lick my wounds and soothe my soul. I wasn’t up to venturing too far away and where everyone was a stranger so I rented a little beach house in Florida, complete with a pool, a gourmet kitchen and a good friend within an hour’s drive. I figured I would laze by the pool and get some sun, read novels on my Kindle, walk on the beach and maybe cook a few yummy meals in the grand gourmet kitchen. It all sounded perfect as I played it out in my mind’s eye: a whole week of doing nothing but sunning and reading and cooking.

I have been to Florida several times in my lifetime and have always enjoyed bright, sunshiny days, sandy beaches lined with seashells and the sweet scent of gardenias in the air. So, I was excited to to pack my bag and take my worn out, pale, chilly San Franciscan self and head for warmer and sunnier shores.  I had expectations of returning suntanned, healthy, relaxed, and well, recharged. As much as I love my boys and would miss them to the point of pain, I was going to do this, it would be good for me, and I was going to love it!

What I didn't anticipate was bad weather, and, ultimate boredom.

I arrived late on a Friday evening. My flight was comfortable and enjoyable. I rented a little car in Orlando and drove to the luxury beach cottage awaiting my arrival in Cocoa Beach. It was a breeze so far. Actually, warm, soft breezes rustled the palm tree leaves as I stepped out of my car and carried my suitcase across the threshold of my little escape haven. I thought to myself: I am here! This is gonna be great!

The gourmet kitchen was pretty impressive for a rental. Shiny, upscale appliances; a big refrigerator filled with condiments, a jug of fresh Florida orange juice and a chilled bottle of white wine. Lovely! I explored the house, checked out the pool, cracked open the bottle of wine and munched on some cheese and crackers before getting into bed. I couldn’t wait to wake up to Paradise.

I woke up very early on Saturday morning. Traveling through time zones does weird stuff to one’s inner clock. No matter – I could do what I wanted - I could take a nap or stay up all night every night of the week if I wanted! I was on vacation!

I looked out the window and noticed it looked a little cloudy. Overcast morning, I murmured to myself, it will burn off. I took my morning coffee out to the patio and searched for some sign of the sun.  I mean, Florida is the sunshine state, right? Then, I decided to hop in my little rental car and drive to the nearest grocery store and stock up on food and wine. Surely the sun would come out by the time I finished shopping. 

When I got back to the cottage, I noticed the tiniest bit of sunshine trying desperately (or was it me desperately seeking the sun?) to push through the clouds.  I was actually rooting for it – out loud! Finally, at around 11:00 am, the sun started peeking through the cloud cover and I took my opportunity to test the water in the sparkling salt-water pool out back. I was only in the pool for a few minutes when those pesky clouds started closing in again and that’s when I felt the first raindrops. Oh, crap. Rain on my first day? I thought to myself that it's common to have rain showers in these tropical climates, isn't it?  So I wasn't too worried.  Back to the covered patio I went. And there I sat for hours, watching the rain come down harder and harder while I waited for sunny skies that would never come. I read my book, made a sandwich, dabbled on Facebook, looked at email, listened to music.... and still the rain was torrential. Paradise lost on my very first day.  What crappy luck.

Then I did the stupidest thing.

I grabbed my iPhone and looked up the weekly weather forecast for Cocoa Beach. Big mistake! There were little pictures of dark, grey clouds – some accompanied by cute little yellow lightning bolts – for every single day of the entire week of my stay! As I scrolled through each day, I clung to the word “chance” as in “chance of rain”, “chance of thunderstorms”…didn't that also mean there was a chance there wouldn't be rain or thunderstorms?  The outlook got gloomier and gloomier as I read there was a 50%, 70%, 80% chance of rain as the week went on.

This must be a mistake, I thought to myself. (I think I actually said that out loud.)

This could not be! This was my vacation! This was Florida! This was the sunshine state! Nowhere does Florida advertise with little, dark grey clouds and yellow lightning bolts! I started to panic a little. What was I supposed to do with myself on my beach vacation when there was now a pretty slim chance I would ever even get to the beach?

Grasping to find a silver lining, I thought of the kitchen. I could spend time cooking on that fantastic gas cook top and in the high-tech oven - and that would take my mind off the weather.  And so I resigned myself to the fact that it was not going to stop raining and went inside to see if I could keep myself busy for a little while.  And so I cooked.  Dinner for one.


After six months, you would think that cooking for myself and dining alone would be comfortable for me by now. Most of the time, it is fine. Actually most of the time, I don’t even cook for myself until I miss cooking so much that I spend an entire day preparing enough food that could feed me for two weeks. I cook because I enjoy it but eating food alone is a whole different can of beans.


With the limited selection of groceries I picked up, I managed to make a few tasty meals.  Here, I made garlic chicken with penne pasta and sauteed green beans.

 

When the sun finally came out on Monday, I rejoiced and spent as many hours outside as I could; swam in the pool and walked on the beach.  Maybe the weather forecast was changing! Then, on Tuesday morning, those thoughtless clouds had the nerve to show up again!  I mean, seriously?  They were going to steal my Monday bliss so soon?  I was patient, though.  I still had the Monday glow of hope that the "chances" of sun were on my side.  And I was right.  At approximately 12:30, the clouds parted like the Red Sea and the glorious sun was shining bright right smack in the middle of the sky.  And I had another glorious half day.

By Wednesday morning, I was convinced the clouds were just a tease and regardless of the forecast, they just visited for awhile and would leave sometime around mid-day.  Alas, I was wrong.  Wednesday was the day they were here to stay and brought their friends rain, thunder and lightning along for the party. 

I kept myself busy with reading and watching TV. I slept in. I whined to my friend via text message and Facebook. I felt sorry for myself.  I truly thought this vacation would be a peaceful getaway and I would enjoy being by myself while I slowly unloaded the stress from life back home.  Instead, it made me feel even more alone and melancholy than ever. I admitted to myself that I would rather be back home hanging out with Walter and Henry and Mac. To make things worse, I looked up the weather back home in California and the forecast showed a week’s worth of big, bright suns and the words “clear” with temperatures in the 80’s. I was convinced there was some kind of curse on me. 

The saving grace of this visit to Florida was having my dear friend Brenda close by.  I did get to spend some time with her for dinner and catching up on each other's lives. Spending time with her helped soothe the sting of the disastrous weather and my unsuccessful attempt at a divine week at the beach.  We actually ventured out to a restaurant on the pier (despite the ocean view of dark clouds and windy rain) and dined on lobster and shrimp and drank tropical drinks as if we were on a warm Caribbean island.  We laughed and enjoyed our time together.  Just look at our feast:


Friday could not have come soon enough.  I was tired of the past three days of rain and thunder and lightning.  I was ready to go home.  As I was packing up the car to head to the airport, the sun came out.  At that point, I was just grateful I didn't have to drive to the airport in the rain.  Well, shame on me for being so optimistic.  As soon as I was on the main highway to the airport, Mother Nature decided to stick it me one last time by dumping a tsunami of rain on my windshield. 

~
The lion and the wolf are independent, self-sufficient, brave and strong. I guess it's sometimes necessary to be like the lion or the wolf in order to survive. If had my preference, I would sooner be the very social and pleasure-seeking Golden Retriever than the lone wolf; and I would much rather dine surrounded by friends.  Epicurus was definitely on to something.