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Archive for January, 2011

A New Job for Pearl – Recommended Book!

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

A New Job for Pearl is a delightful book created by a group of talented, second grade students in Alamo, California to tell the story of Pearl, a Black Labrador rescued from an animal shelter, who has a new job in search and rescue, thanks to the Search Dog Foundation. This organization works with shelters and rescue groups to identify search dog candidates, who are often the high energy, bounce off the walls type of dog that are hard to place. As the book explains, these dogs need a job! After eight months of training costing approximately $10,000, the dog is placed with a firefighter trained in disaster response, and is deployed to disaster sites worldwide.  For her work in rescuing 12 people trapped in the Haiti earthquake, Pearl was honored as the “Dog of the Year” by the ASPCA. Proceeds from book sales benefit the Search Dog Foundation. Copies can be purchased for $10 at A New Job for Pearl. Congratulations to this enterprising group of students, who not only created an uplifting book, but are helping to save lives of shelter dogs and the people they will eventually rescue.

Baking with Baker

Monday, January 10th, 2011

Today we are in the midst of a snow storm, so it’s a good day to bake. As his birthday is this week, Baker wanted to make dog cupcakes. We tried a new cupcake mix for dogs from High Hopes For Pets, a company that donates a percentage of each sale to shelters and rescues, to help homeless pets.

The mix is packaged in a box with fun, colorful graphics of two dogs at a table, looking at a stand of cupcakes. The box contains re-usable silicon baking cups, cupcake mix, frosting mix, and directions. The directions include suggestions for adding peanut butter, banana slices, and other decorations.

The first step is to make the frosting mix by adding a few tablespoons of milk or water, so it has a chance to harden. The frosting is sugar-free and is made from yogurt, egg whites, and natural food coloring.

Next step is to add water or milk to the cake mix.

Then, fill each silicone cup with batter and bake for 10 minutes. Alex and Baker got to lick the whisk, and they loved the batter!

Add the frosting after the cupcakes have cooled for a few minutes. This batch turned out a little crumbly as I think I should have left them in the oven a minute or two longer. They need to be pretty firm to remove them from the silicone cups without crumbling. As I was taking this picture of the finished cupcakes, Alex counter-surfed and cleaned up the crumbs. Alex and Baker give a high five to these dog cupcakes!

My springer angels

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Every year, as I open the boxes of holiday decorations, certain ornaments bring back a flood of memories of Christmases past. A few are vintage ornaments in the bright, shiny red, teal, green, or silver of the 1950s, carefully boxed with their wire ornament hooks and passed down by my mother. I see these same ornaments in childhood Christmas photos, with our family dogs Sheba, and later Sherry, posing in front of the tree, looking mortified at wearing a Christmas bow. But the ornaments that always give me pause are those connected to my dogs. Carefully, I open the small white box labeled “dog bone ornaments” and remove the three handcrafted, Milk bone-shaped ornaments with a loop of red yarn for hanging, personalized with Marmaduke, Molly, and Chester’s names, a gift from their groomer. I hold the ornaments in my hand and remember Christmases in Santa Fe, and later in California, with them. Chester was my first springer, a chance encounter at a shelter that over the years showed me the depths of devotion. After Marmaduke and Molly died, I adopted Dixie, an older springer, to keep him company, and then Byron, my first Welsh springer, joined our family. The year that Chester and Dixie died, both of cancer and within weeks of each other, I found these springer angel Christmas tree toppers at a craft fair. The one in the plaid dress represents Dixie; the white-robed angel is Chester. As I set out the Christmas decorations each year, I display them together, in memory and in gratitude for the joy they brought me every day. This week, as I carefully wrap tissue paper around them and store the ornaments for another year, I am comforted by this ritual, these objects that still connect me to my dogs, long gone but not forgotten. What about you? Do you have special ornaments representing your dogs? Or Christmas traditions with your dogs?