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.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Giving Thanks

Henry, asleep on the big bed on Thanksgiving morning.
 He's obviously in no rush to face the day!

"If the only prayer you said in your lifetime was 'thank you', that would suffice." ~ Meister Eckhart

The San Francisco Bay area had seen rain for many days before Thanksgiving Day.  I was hoping that the sun would make an appearance so I and my Thanksgiving visitor would be able to get outside and enjoy the beauty.

Luckily, on Thanksgiving Day, Kerry showed up  - and so did the sun!  It turned out to be a chilly, but sunshiny day... and so was the next day and the next day!  Picture perfect!  

Thanksgiving dinner this year consisted of all organic foods from Whole Foods, one of my most favorite places to shop for food.  I ordered  an organic young turkey and prepared it the traditional way -  stuffed with fresh rosemary, sage and thyme and roasted in the oven until it turned a warm, golden brown.

A lovely, golden brown roasted turkey with fresh herbs was one of the highlights

My sides consisted of  a mashed combo of new potatoes and butternut squash; roasted yams with pecans; sauteed green beans with almonds; crusty french bread stuffing with herbs, apples and walnuts and fresh cranberry relish.   Everything tasted flavorful and delicious.  It was so nice to be able to share Thanksgiving dinner with a good friend.  We gave thanks for our health, family, friends, work and the unconditional love of our dogs.  We drank Grey Goose martinis and shared some wonderful California wines.  It was a lovely Thanksgiving Day.

What a sweet treat!
I didn't bake this year.  Instead, I ordered an assortment of delectable pastries from the Whole Foods bakery:  mini fruit tarts, little cheesecakes, chocolate mousse and eclairs, cream puffs and cannolis!  Yum!

On Friday, we ate pulled pork sandwiches and garlic fries at the Buckeye Roadhouse in Mill Valley for lunch.  It was packed with people indulging in non-turkey treats.  I love that restaurant and I am always happy to introduce its ambiance and splendid smokehouse specialties to my visiting guests.  

We took advantage of the lovely weather and took the boys for a leisurely walk around Richard Bay Cove.  The ducks were gathering in the pond off the wildlife preserve. They looked delighted as they perched on the rocks and swam with their friends and family in the protected waters.

Duck families gather for the holiday

We spotted a lone, winter white egret, walking on the sand bar at low tide.  Further out you can see the divine diversity of bird life in the bay.  Seagulls, ducks, pelicans, egrets and sandpipers prance along the sandbars in harmony.  I wish humans would learn to share the world as well as these birds do!

Kerry and the boys enjoyed their walk and the views of the San Francisco skyline and the wildlife on the water.    

Kerry takes hold of  the boys while they stop and pose for a photo
So much to be thankful for during this special time of year.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

No Dogs Allowed?

"I'm thankful for waking up to another beautiful day.  If you're living and breathing, then there's nothing to be depressed about." ~ Unknown

Mystical beauty

It was the first day of Fall.  Cool morning and warming up toward noon.  A great day for a drive out to Point Reyes.

The winding road of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard is quite lovely.  Heading west toward Point Reyes brings us to some unusual territory.  Despite the sunny weather, the closer we got to the shore, the fog hung low and enveloped us and it felt as if we were driving high up in the mountains, through the clouds.  A long road with old, historical ranches lines the road and one would never feel as if they were heading for a beach.  But, once we hit the end of the road, there was an oasis at Drakes Beach.  It is an, open, white sand beach surrounded by jagged rock cliffs.  It looked like the shores of Hawaii.  I was mesmerized.  We live here!  The tide was low and there was a sand bar that separated the surf and formed a pool of water on the sand.  Sea birds strutted along the shore, leaving their little bird-feet impressions in the wet sand.   It was peaceful and magical.

Other-worldly, is it not?

Dogs were not allowed on this beach.  Bummer.  To have these guys with us and see the water and not be allowed to run down and jump in was excruciating.  So Brian distracted and walked the boys around the parking lot  for a break after our long ride and I was able to walk down to sand, take some photos and soak in the magnificent scenery.  Truly breathtaking.  It was a bit chilly and I wasn't dressed for the cold air so the boys didn't have to wait too long before I returned to take the leash and take my turn walking them around for a bit.

Look at the mist over the cliffs

We left Drakes Beach in search of a dog-friendly beach and ended up at Stinson Beach which, unfortunately, did not allow dogs on this particular section of Stinson Beach.  But it was okay because there was a great, grassy park where dogs were finally allowed!  YAY!  Brian and I took turns walking down the path to the sandy beach to take some photos.  I could not believe that this beach, which looked so much like the Long Island beaches of my youth - it was surrounded by pine trees and cypress trees and hillsides....never saw anything like it.  What a cool place.  The boys stayed on leash for awhile and when I returned from the beach, Brian was seated at a picnic table and the boys were just leisurely exploring the park.  They didn't wander off but just hung out and watched the activity.

Sunbathers enjoying the warm Fall weather

When do you get to see this scene at a beach?
After the low clouds at Drakes Beach in Point Reyes, the skies here were cloudless and stark, azure blue. There was no wind yet it wasn't too hot.  It was one of those days when you say:  "What a perfect day!"  Fall in San Francisco is really its best season so its no wonder.  Even though we struck out in finding dog-friendly beaches, the boys did get to go off leash and play and we had a glorious day.

The boys

Walter hanging with his dad

Walty having a moment

Henry rockin' some shade

I must say,  I feel blessed to live in a place where the natural beauty takes my breath away on a regular basis.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

A Hike with the Boys in Baltimore Canyon

The boys resting on the trail in Baltimore Canyon

"After a day's walk, everything has twice its usual value." ~ George Macauly Trevelyan

We took a great hike in a magical place called Baltimore Canyon, a 193-acre preserve located at the headwaters of Larkspur Creek in Marin County, California. Walking along the wooded trails, we were surrounded by Redwood, California Bay, Madrone, Fir and Big-Leaf Maple trees.  The sunshine literally seeps through the cracks in the top branches of the trees and spills its white light on to the dark paths, creating the most exquisite shadows.

Henry on the trail

We saw only a few others on our hike which made our walk particularly serene and special. Being virtually alone in the raw, crisp, coolness of the woods made me feel so small and quiet and peaceful as we stepped along the footpaths among the giant redwoods and their giant shadows.  The dogs loved it, too.

Shadows on the footpath


There are little foot bridges that are there to cross over the creek when the water is high in the winter months.  Right now, the creek is dry, but the forest is still alive with trees and plants and flowers and the songs of the birds that live there.  I can't wait to come back in the wet, winter months to see the waterfall from the storm runoff.

I know we have only discovered a tiny percentage of the incredible beauty that exists in this part of California.  Each time we come across something new, it just about takes my breath away and gives me a renewed respect for the power of nature.

Mossy Trees

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Tribute to Walter: a Spiritual Empath

Sweet Walter

"A dog is the only thing on this earth that loves you more than he loves himself." ~ Josh Billings

Over the past few months, since Henry has been going through his pain treatments and has been under the weather, I have noticed a change in Walter's behavior.  He is more alert and protective than usual, and seems to be carrying a little more weight on his shoulders and a little more heaviness in his heart.  He has started turning back to head home early on our walks, as if to tell us that Henry should not be pushing himself too hard.

Walter is a gentle soul. When Henry came into our home in Colorado in April of 2003, it was clear that he was the Alpha Dog.  Even though Walter was there first and was 8 months older than Henry, he willingly allowed Henry take the top dog spot.  Henry had boundless energy and Walter seemed happy to just let him lead.

I met this wonderful woman named Terri O'Hara, owner of Animalwize, and who is, what some may call, an animal whisperer.  She is one of those rare and special  humans who has the ability to communicate with animals at a much deeper level than the average human.  She was born with a gift.  Now, I am sure there are some of you out there that don't believe in this kind of thing, but you must take my word for it - she is amazing.  She has the ability to connect with animals on such a spiritual level, it will astonish even the most skeptical critics.

The first time she met our boys was in our home in Colorado.  She sat in our family room and quietly communicated with each of our guys, including Mac.  It was an incredible experience.  Walter sat attentively on the floor in front of her while Henry was perched in his spot on the couch and Mac stood above her on the back of the couch.  They seemed drawn to her from the moment she stepped foot in our home.  I was fascinated.  Her gentle touch and almost magical presence certainly captured our boys' attention.  Henry was impatient and kept butting into Walter's time with Terri and all she said to Henry was this:  "Henry, I am talking to Walter right now and you need to go back on the couch and wait your turn."  Obediently, Henry did an about face and hopped back up to his perch.  I was impressed.  She would telepathically communicate with Walter and pass along his thoughts and feelings to me.  I was in awe.  She told me things that Walter was telling her and they were spot on.  She could not have known these things.  Psychic?  Maybe.  But somehow I knew these thoughts were coming from Walter.  He was the "worrier" in our little family and he was telling this woman about all the things he worried about and all of her comments were so Walter-like, there was no doubt in my mind: he was communicating with her!

Walter is what I call an emotional and spiritual empath.  He feels what others are feeling - be it pain or be it joy.  It is his burden and it is his rapture.  When I am ill, Walter will not leave my side.  He will lie on the floor next to my bed for days on end or sometimes come up on the bed and gently lay his nose on my arm or on my chest and look at me with his big, brown, soulful eyes -  as if to absorb my pain and make it his own instead.  When I am happy and listening to music and dancing around the room, he puts his paws in the air to say to me: "dance with me, mama!"  Walter radiates his delight and yet saddles himself with  the anguish of others.  Our boy lives in his own over-sized heart and carries around the feelings of others with the tenderest of care.  So, when Henry's pain began to escalate and he was not at the top of his game, Walter stepped right in to do his tremendous and selfless job of striving to snuff out and soak up Henry's sorrow.

I have to tell you, it is a noble and beautiful thing to behold.

Walter, sharing the bed with his younger bro and best buddy

If you ever want to learn more about what and how your animals think and feel, and can't seem to quite get there on your own, visit Terri O'Hara at http://www.animalwize.com/ or visit her facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/terri.ohara.7  She holds communication classes, gives tips on animal behaviors  and does private consultations - even over the phone!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Henry, the Cool Dude!

"If having a soul means to be able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans." ~ James Herriot

Henry sporting his cool shades during laser therapy
Henry goes to the Vet twice a week for shots of Adequan to help manage his pain.  Adequan is a joint pain treatment that is injected into the muscle and helps with inflammation and hopefully relieves some of the pain from his arthritis.  We have also started him on laser therapy treatments that also help with joint inflammation.  He had his first treatment this week and is seen here sporting some very groovy goggles and a big smile.  The technicians were giving him kisses the entire time he went through the treatment and I think he was digging the attention!  Henry is a very cool dude.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Henry Goes to the Doctor

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

Taking one's dog to the Vet for his routine shots and check-up is one thing.  Taking one's dog to the Vet when he needs an x-ray to determine how far gone his hips are and at the same time finding out that his liver has shrunk and is probably due to a side effect from the pain killers you have been giving him over the past couple of years, is another.

Henry has always had funky hips.  We called him "Lead Butt" when he was just a couple of months old because his back end seemed to weigh a ton.  We'd lift him up on the couch (a habit that has forever kept  him on the furniture) and he always seemed to take a little extra effort when lifting his butt off the ground.  Later, we would find out his hip joints were out of whack and he had arthritis on his backbone.  He also had low thyroid function and was gaining weight which was putting additional pressure on his joints.  So, we put him on a diet, fed him thyroid pills and helped him get more exercise. He lost 27 pounds (and still hs a little more to lose.)  He had a tendency to limp after a good, long walk or after a good, long nap.  Still, he was a happy boy. I started feeding him Glucosamine tablets and Glucosamine treats and eventually, started him on Rimadyl - a doggie painkiller.  He needed it every day. He started to have more energy and seemed to be pain-free.  He was doing great.

Unfortunately, after a check-up and a blood test, the doc noticed his liver enzymes were on the rise and the asked me to cut back on the pain pills.  So I did.  Finally, I stopped them altogether.  But Henry started limping again and had such difficulty getting up from the floor that we knew we had to start a new treatment.  He is now going into the doctor twice a week for Adequan shots to help reduce the inflammation in his joints and reduce the pain.  After 4 weeks of this twice-a-week treatment, we will learn to do it ourselves and administer the shot once a month.  There are also other treatment options - laser therapy and hip-replacement surgery.  We are having consultations about all the available non-liver-hurting options to determine which one will be the most beneficial to Henry.  Even if we have to eat Top Ramen for awhile in order to afford the operation (if that is determined to be the best option), then so be it.  It shall be done.
He is, after all, our baby boy.

Henry - always smiling.
We want to keep it that way.

We are waiting to hear the results of Henry's ultrasound to understand the condition of his liver.  It's killing me.

Post Note:  Henry had a mass on his liver and  biopsy which turned out to be benign, thank goodness.  We are giving him shots of Adequan and laser therapy treatments for his joint pain so hopefully he is on his way to feeling better.  He is being such a trooper throughout this.  We love our darling boy.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Vacation without the boys

We came across this wonderful  hidden beach

"Hawaii is not a state of mind, but a state of grace." ~ Paul Theroux

Brian and I recently took a trip to Hawaii sans dogs (or cat for that matter). We spent a glorious week on the island of Kauai - the Garden Isle and the Island of Beauty.  We have been to the Big Island and to Maui but this was our first visit to Kauai.  Kauai was spectacular.

We rented a little condo right at the edge of Lawai Beach, where the surfers jump off the lava rocks onto their boards to do their dances on the waves.  It was quite the show every day as we sat in our yard or on the patio, watching the ocean.

View form our backyard
Surfers push off the lava rocks

They put on a show every day

Lawai Beach is a favorite spot for surfers and snorkelers and sea turtles make their home here.  It is a great spot to watch the sunsets from the Beach House Restaurant.

Sunset view from the Beach House
We ate dinner at the Beach House one night and it was delicious.  I had the biggest Mai-Tai I've ever seen.  We ordered a watermelon salad served with caramelized red onions, Gorgonzola cheese, toasted macadamia nuts and drizzled with a raspberry vinaigrette.  I ate Macadamia-crusted Mahi-Mahi (lots of Macadamia nut recipes in Hawaii!) and Brian enjoyed an excellent Angus Filet Minion steak.  For dessert, we shared a yummy banana-puff pastry dessert.

Puff pastry with bananas, caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream
(Oh my!)

Coconut Shrimp from the Shrimp Station
Because we had the condo, I would prepare eggs for breakfast and sandwiches to go when we headed out for day trip the beach or park.  A couple of times we stopped and picked up some coconut or garlic shrimp to go from the local restaurants.  Everything tasted so fresh and delicious.

Garlic Shrimp from the local Food Truck in Koloa

We also had a lovely dinner of fresh fish and roasted vegetables at the Tidepools restaurant in Poipu Beach.  The restaurant overlooked a lagoon filled with Koi fish.  I was naughty and tossed a piece of bread in the water and the fish went into a frenzy.  Bad Lizzie.  But Brian got a bunch of really cool shots of the fish with the iphone!  Check it out:

Colorful Koi in the lagoon 

We took an amazing sunset sail along the Na Pali coast.  They served us spinach lasagna and beer and wine but we didn't care what we ate.  The coast was so incredibly stunning, it was mesmerizing.  Check out some of these photos:

Jurassic Park Location

Have you seen this in movies?

Water fall inside the cave

Romantic cave

Gorgeous coastline

The sunset part of the sail!

I could post hundreds and hundreds of photos from this trip.  It's hard not to be camera-crazy!

We sure missed our boys while we were gone.  I would awaken in the middle of the night and imagine them lying on the floor next to the bed.  It's strange how they seem to be with us even when they are 2500 miles away!  

When we got home, we took them for a swim in the bay and all at once, everything was back to normal for all of us.

Henry back in the bay

Even Walty goes in!

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Henry Loses his Couch

Bye, Bye Stinky Couch!

Well, the time finally arrived.  I called 1-800-Got-Junk? and surrendered Henry's couch.

I actually fretted over this decision for a long time and the guilt I felt was overwhelming.  That couch was Henry's favorite perch.  I had a feeling he was going to deeply mourn its disappearance.  I purchased a cool bed for him months before so he could transition to a new sleeping arrangement.  Even though he uses the new bed from time to time, he eventually would end up back in his spot on the couch.

The couch was getting so dirty and stinky, it just had to go.  After all, it was an eyesore positioned right in the middle of my living room.  I tried to imagine that ridding ourselves of the stinky couch would be similar to a parent having to take away a favorite, disintegrating blanket from a child who should have outgrown it long ago.  The kid gets over it, doesn't he?

So, Brian and the boys headed out for ride in the car while I waited alone for the junk-removal guys to come and haul the couch away.  I figured if Henry did not have to witness his beloved bed being hauled off and dismantled by the recyclers, the impact would be softer.

When they came back home, I acted as if nothing had changed, gave Henry a pat on the head and a handed him a bone, hoping it would distract him.  Fat chance.  He walked around in circles in the empty space where his couch stood invitingly only a couple of hours before.  He looked at me with big, brown, inquisitive eyes and I could swear I heard him ask:   "Where is it, Mom?"  Gulp.

I encouraged him to get in his fancy L.L. Bean bed and, reluctantly, he did.

Okay,I guess I will try it

I don't know if I like it
I want my couch back

After about a minute or so, he got up and headed back to his ghost-couch.  He walked around in circles and laid his disappointed and defeated little body down on the floor. Hmmmph.

I have seen doggie-sofas for sale.  I just might have to look into that.  Call me crazy, but I just can't bear to see my little boy so sad.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Walter’s Magic Garden

Soft, colorful Gerbera Daisies

“Earth laughs in flowers.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Spring is in all its glory here in Tiburon.  Fluffy green leaves flutter in the breeze and explosions of color splatter the canvas of this Northern California landscape.  We have so many different types of trees in our little neighborhood and flowering plants spring up at every turn.  It is a sight to behold.

Lucky for all of us, Brian has taken up a new hobby:  patio gardening.  We have a large deck on the back of our little abode with enough room for a fabulous array of flowers and trees.  Last year, we started off with some big potted Japanese privet trees and a couple of small fruit trees.  But this year, Brian decided to adorn our deck with colorful pots of flowers.  He has become quite the planter.  I am very impressed. His goal to is to fill the deck with decorative planters and flowers and lattice so not only will it be a place of beauty, it will provide some privacy for us as well.  I have enclosed some photos of the new garden which delights me every day.  In the mornings when I wake up and open the doors to the deck to the evening when I return home from work, I am greeted by happy little flowers and showered with their fragrant aromas.  We have petunias and daisies, chrysanthemums and roses, gerberas and even fragrant jasmine. 

Privet Trees and Potted Plants
Trees surrounded by colorful arrangements

Lovely yellow begonias pop with color in front of the fragrant jasmine 
Our little corner of color!

Walter is particularly enchanted with this little flower garden on our patio.  Every evening, when I return from work and round the corner to our back deck, I know I will spot Walter sprawled out on the deck surrounded by bursts of color.   It does my heart good to see Walter so relaxed and at peace.  

A very peaceful Walter, looking at his magic garden

And take a look at Henry sleeping soundly in his hammock bed by the garden.  He will stay out there for hours and hours at the end of the day.  
Henry is relaxed in the garden

Even Mac gets in on the action in Henry's bed on the deck

Evenings on the deck are glorious and serene this time of year.  The late-day sunshine saturates the leaves on the backyard trees and gently spills its hazy light onto the deck boards, while bathing us and the flowers in warmth and tenderness.  

Wow.  This little flower garden has worked its magic and calmed the beast in us all.  Cheers!

A Colorful Collage of Flowers