January 29, 2016

January Loot Pets: Invasion

So you know, for a long time I wanted to try out a subscription box for Piri but never did end up getting them because Piri is restricted in what he can eat in terms of treats and snacks {needs to be low in protein -- and forget about chews}, and most of the subscription boxes seem to come with a couple of snacks inside each box. 

Then I saw something called Loot Pets and I immediately wanted to try it out. Geeky subscription box for geeky pets! And the January theme was invasion and included The X-Files, my favorite {next to The West Wing. Who's with me?!}. 

Piri got his box a few days ago and it included: 

 // X-Files t-shirt 
 // Pet tag in the shape of a flying bone-shaped saucer
 // Battlestar Galactica Silicone Flying Disc
 // Space Invaders Pet Leash 
 // Invasion of the Sweet Potato Crisps

The box also includes a Loot Pets magazine. 

Obviously, I love that shirt and he'll be wearing it while we watch the rest of The X-Files reboot. I have too many things on Piri's collar for that pet tag, but still cute nonetheless. The flying disc toy will be great for some of our younger guest dogs who come to Piri's Place/DogVacay as fabric and fleece toys don't seem to have a chance {plus stuffing everywhere...}. Leash will definitely come in handy. And the sweet potato treat is low enough in protein for Piri to eat. He hasn't had it yet though {his appetite has been in and out lately} but he does smell the bag out of interest. We are saving it for the day when he his appetite is ready for them. We also look forward to sharing with our guest dogs {with permission from their owners first, of course!}

I had originally planned on getting just one box {seriously just because of The X-Files} but then the February theme was announced -- dead. And it will include something from The Walking Dead theme {one of Yangkyu's favorite}. So, we'll be sticking with this subscription for one more month. 

Have a wonderful weekend everybody! 

January 28, 2016

Heart Check + a little something about life with (senior) dogs

Piri had his appointment with the cardiologist yesterday. Frankly, it was an appointment I was dreading. And while I didn't think I was, I am pretty sure I was nervous the entire time there because as soon as the doctor told us the good news that Piri's heart isn't all that bad, I let out a huge sigh of relief and gently collapsed on to my chair and the examining table. That sounded pretty dramatic. It wasn't. I promise. 

So what does this mean? 

Well, we still have to monitor his breathing. We also have to bring him in to our primary vet so that he can get blood work done to re-check his kidney levels. 

This is our second hurdle. 

We are just hoping that his kidneys will be able to withstand and filter out all the anesthesia so that he can get work done in his mouth to remove the lump and also his infected tooth. 

I can't imagine what more I could want or expect from Piri after this is over. He has proven time and time again to be resilient against his kidney disease, has come around and proved that his heart isn't all that bad (we found out that his hacking cough isn't because of his heart but his lungs, but it isn't a bad sign at this point) and is hanging in there despite what is happening inside his mouth. All at the age of 16. Who needs all this crap happening when you're old. Poor guy. 

Yangkyu and I were talking about our retirement on our way back home from Piri's appointment - our current savings, although small and humble, will be used when we are old and grey. Piri was in that narrative. Yes, Piri the Zombie Dog. 

Around this time of year, for the past couple of years, we have been afforded the chance to get away to a resort - two years ago it was to Jamaica, and last year to Punta Cana. This year it was to Cancun but I passed on the opportunity to go as I have decided to not go on international travel or travel domestically (unless it is to a dog friendly place) for the time being. I just can't leave Piri and leave. So instead Yangkyu went with his friend. He brought back a colorful blanket and yummy treats. I wasn't sure how people would take my giving up travel for Piri but when I shared on Instagram, so many folks resonated and agreed and have done the same. Sometimes I get scared of the judgement people may pass at the things I do for Piri (like Jane goes way too overboard.. you need to live your life too.. he's just a dog...). But I find myself wanting to spend more and more time with me rather than away. Not that I am asking for permission, but I hope it's something that people will understand. 

January 26, 2016

A Girl and Her Dogs: Pip + her hounds, Humphrey, Maude, Ralph, Ethel, Wally and Daphne


We took a little break from our "A Girl and Her Dog" series, but I wanted to make sure to bring it back in the new year. And I'm pretty excited to be kicking it back off with one of my absolute favorite pack on Instagram right now - Pip and her hounds, Humphrey, Maude, Ralph, Ethel, Wally and Daphne. 

Aren't they the cutest bunch? 

I am always looking forward to the daily shenanigans and adventures they all find themselves in, as well as their awesome huddle and cuddle sessions {here, here and here}. And those ears - you can't look at Pip's Instagram and not fall in love with all those flappy floppy long ears. Oh, and there is an added bonus -- Pip crochets. She crochets cute things for her pups {sweater? check. mermaid tail? no problem}. 

Each pup has his and her own story and Pip is here to tell us a little bit about it. From when Pip and her partner, Steve, decided to bring home a pup but ended up with two, to another that was just there, to one that has Pip still waiting for her kitchen renovation and little offsprings, this family knows what it's like to go through trials and overcome them {with the help of wonderful strangers and friends}, have fun even when it's raining out {I mean literally.. fun walkies on rainy days out} and have each other's backs no matter what. 

Here is all about Pip and her hounds.

The Girl: Pip 
The Dogs:
 // Humphrey and Maude - Basset siblings
 // Ralph - Half Basset and Maude's son
 // Ethel (mummy), Wally (daddy) and Daphne (their daughter) - Miniature Dachshunds 
Pip's favorite snack: Peanut Butter M&M's. Thankfully they aren't available in France or I'd have Kardashian thighs! 
Dogs' favorite snack: Homemade chicken soup on their biscuits and homemade doggy treats 
From: Originally from London and moved to Rural Southern France in 2010 
Find them on Instagram: @Philpush

I was never allowed dogs as a kid. My dad "just didn't like them" so I never thought of having a dog as a pet. When my partner Steve and I got together 14 years ago, we already had a brood of five kids between us and decided that rather than add to that, a dog would be a good idea. He'd always had bassets as a child so naturally that led to our choice. Evidently better the devil you know, so they say. We researched and found a reputable breeder, spoke to him about a girl, went to see her and came home with two, as you do, you could call me "impulsive" and Steve "easily led." Well, we couldn't split siblings could we? That's where it started. 

Maude is very vocal. She sounds like Chewbacca. She cannot sit still if food is around. She has "ants in her pants." She will have her face in anything that is available. She can get really grumpy and grizzles. 

Humphrey is the total opposite. He always sits patiently and being the gentleman, he always waits for the others to finish or take before accepting anything. 

I have a degenerative spinal condition and use a wheelchair on long days. Holding the bassets and steering my wheelchair along became a challenge. I found Ethel on a dreadful winter day whilst browsing on a whim for puppies advertised via the British Kennel Club. I hadn't been looking for another dog but she was just there. I called, named and sent the deposit that day. She was 5 days old. I waited impatiently whilst she could get her passport so we could bring her back to France.

During this time, Maude had taken a stroll, gotten fat over a period of time. After visiting the local vet she evidently had taken advantage of the advances of the local French lotharios, tipping a beret and offering their services. In February 2011, she had a litter of 8 puppies. My daughter whose birthday was approaching asked if she could keep a pup - the biggest, heaviest and fattest. Ralph. 

Ralph is our trigger barker - causes Mexican Waves of terror amongst the others. A car, the postman, the growing and barking in the front, then peeing himself with happiness when you greet him. He loves to snuggle and always goes to Maude for ear licks and warmth. He is the heaviest at 35kg and will happily crush your lap if allowed. 

Ethel arrives and instantly fits in with Ralph due to similar age. 

Ethel is the matriarch. She is the protector and the schmoozer but primarily the boss. She stands her ground with everything, giving a twinkle of her pearly white teeth. Soft like velvet and pig tracking extraordinaire. If we don't call her she will stay out in the garden barking at "PIG" all day. Her batteries never run out and she exhausts me watching her! 

At this point we have 4 dogs. We are going to Toulouse on a day out to buy our kitchen units for a revamp. We passed via the pet store, the kids ran out and told me there was a chocolate long hair sausage pup in the window. You know, when you just know that he won't be staying there or you'll worry about him? Wally came home. I still await a kitchen 3 years later. 

Velcro Wally. Loves everyone and has to find the crack in-between the cushions on the sofa to put himself snug into. Barks behind Ralph as he is smaller. We call it the "little man syndrome." Whenever he has been outside and we call him, he comes in at high speed from the front door all the way throughout the house twice. Always like a blur and is a constant by the preparation table in the kitchen "just in case." 

April 2014, Maude takes a walk off of our lands whilst I'm in the UK with my kids. Steve cannot find her and then early in the morning gets a call from the local vet. They were called to a road accident and had to euthanize the dog at the scene. They immediately recognize Maude and took her to surgery. I returned 24 hours later fraught. I put the post on Instagram for some moral support and started getting direct messages. I never knew people really cared, like genuinely. 

Within a space of 24 hours, we were donated over 3.5k euros. Maude was saved. We could never have afforded it. I was humbled beyond words. I still am and when I recollect the story, people are truly amazed by the generosity of strangers. Strangers that became friends. Maude had a privileged road to recovery due to the kindness of people via Instagram, with CT scans, physio and all manner of therapies. It's been a challenge with her, she sustained a loss of hearing in the left side, loss of sight in one eye and frontal lobe damage to her brain. But to be fair, I played a small part in her recovery, as the rest of the pack looked out for her, guarding, sitting, waiting and most of all, their patience during the recovery was amazing to watch. She had 24 hour cover. They had her back. 

Ethel and Wally reproduced in May of 2014. Ethel delivered on my bed. On my pillow. She obviously felt at home there, so when the last pup was a girl and was dappled so beautifully, she wasn't going anywhere. The puppies were the most wonderful times in my pet ownership to date. The Spanish Inquisition was given to every person that showed interest in them. They are now with two of my IG followers that are now like family. 

And then there was 6 for us. 

Daphne is the most ridiculous dog. She licks every surface EVERYWHERE. When she wags, her body almost folds in half. She is the longest of our sausages and the only one that fetches and brings back. She is the one that loves everyone all the time. 

So I sit here surrounded. Surrounded by my furry family, my confidants, their intuition to lick the tears on bad days and just be there. That love is immeasurable. When I began Instagram, I just wanted to share a few pics with a few friends that were still in the UK. I'm truly humbled and flattered by the other awesome human beings that IG has brought into my life. Instagram has changed my little world. For the better. 

Thank you Pip, Humphrey, Maude, Ralph, Ethel, Wally and Daphne!
You can see more of the life they share on Instagram at @Philpush

Photos via Pip. 

January 25, 2016

Our weekend with Jonas

I can't remember the last time I experienced this much snow. We weren't yet in the DC area when the 2010 storm hit, so maybe around 9 years ago in Rego Park? Piri went crazy in the snow and I have a faint memory of finding our car parked out in the street, buried. We made snow angels and built a snowman. 

I went to college in Syracuse, NY, and winters and snow storms were brutal. It's like... you'll be walking to class and by the time you make it to your building you look like a snowman. And they never canceled classes. Ever. 

Even with these memories of snow storm experiences, I feel like Jonas, as they call this blizzard, was the worst I've experienced. 

It's like you shovel but realize a couple of hours later the snow has accumulated at an alarmingly rapid rate and makes you feel like all the work you've done was for nothing, your car just looks like a big lump of snow and you kind of wonder if you didn't take this blizzard so seriously and worry if you didn't buy enough food {mainly junk food} to last you through the worst of it. 

Thankfully though, by yesterday the snow stopped, people were out and about shoveling {even our wonderful neighbors who cleared away the fire hydrant - you are awesome!} and the sun was out. 

The sun is out today. We got our driveway all cleared up and Yangkyu was able to take the car for a super short drive just within our street. This is very hopeful because we did indeed sort of run out of {junk} food.

For the past three days, Piri and Nala were able to enjoy the snow. Piri used to love playing in the snow but not so much now, just a little. Although after a few minutes he asked to go back inside. But Nala, she went completely bonkers - trying to eat the snow that was coming down, jumping on top of piles of snow, snow surfing, running and sliding. It's like she is part Westie and part snow bunny.

We may go out again today or tomorrow and make ourselves a snowman. There isn't much room now as our backyard just has a short path and a small clearing {Yangkyu said that's the dogs' bathroom} and the rest is just piles and piles of snow. 

Yangkyu is working from home today and I'm trying to get back on schedule with things - kind of hard when everyone else is on snow day schedule. 

Anyway, if you like snow and dogs, then this is definitely a post for you. Hope you enjoy some snippets from our weekend with Jonas.

  // LOL - don't mind Yangkyu's pants. It's actually mine and my sister-in-law gifted it to me for Christmas. We found that it didn't get as wet, or feel as wet, and so Yangkyu put it on while shoveling. // 

January 24, 2016

Digging ourselves out


We are in knee-deep, no thigh-deep in snow. I think our area logged around 30 inches. It's been crazy these past two days but this morning we woke up and the snow stopped coming down and the sun was out. We shoveled and the dogs played in the snow and we've been eating a bit too much junk food than normally but, hey, that's what blizzards are for right? Junk food! 

I took a bunch of photos of the snow, well no.. dogs playing in the snow, which I'll probably spam share tomorrow on the blog, but in the meantime here is a picture of Nala and Piri channeling their inner snow bunny.

We're getting ready for some warm dinner and then we're breaking out normal bed time to watch the X-Files premiere. Oh my gee! I can't wait! 

January 22, 2016


We're expecting a terrible blizzard this weekend. It has actually started - began to snow a couple of hours ago and is steadily accumulating. We went grocery shopping a couple of days ago to prepare -- although preparing for an emergency always seem to include lots and lots of junk food. Oops. 

I think we are expected to get 12+ inches of snow and an additional 8-12 inches tomorrow. We'll be knee deep for sure. 

We plan on getting snuggly under our heat blankets tonight and tomorrow we hope to build a snowman and romp around in the snow. I think Nala, our current guest dog, will have a blast {we went out for a little bit today and she ran around like she was in doggy Disney World}. Piri too, hopefully. 

For anyone else experiencing the blizzard, please stay warm and safe. 

Among other things, please have handy emergency information and phone numbers, including a number to call if you happen to see homeless people {for Fairfax County - 703-691-2131}. And considering your safety always, please also help homeless animals as well. Oh, I can't bear the thought of them having to keep shelter in these weather conditions. 

January 18, 2016

Making: Valentine's Day Themed Dog Toys

I'm usually really terrible at planning ahead to make themed DIYs, but I had lots of stuffing laying around and I wanted to play around with my sewing machine more. So I thought that making Valentine's Day themed dog toys would be just the perfect solution. 

Some DIYs turn out really great. Others turn out ok but there are some learning lessons that come out of it. This is more the latter. But I had a great time making these and now have a few handmade toys to add to Piri's toy bin for him and our dog guests to play with it. 

But first, a couple of things I would've done differently: 
1. Different fabric. Most of Piri's toys are actually made from fleece type of material so perhaps fleece would've been a better choice. Perhaps they would feel a bit more familiar for dogs's mouths as well. 
2. Add fringes. Dogs love dangly things, don't they? It would've been nice to add them around the borders. 
3. Have a little more patience. This is a big one. a) I am pretty much a beginner when it comes to sewing, and I am fine doing straight lines, but curves are a whole different ball game (at least to me). While I do sometimes like the semi messy finishes {looks more homemade and I like that look}, I wish I was a bit more patient instead of running the fabric through my machine and losing control. b) Also, learn and practice invisible stitches by hand {eecks!}. I quickly looked up how to do it while doing this DIY and somewhere I ran out of patience and didn't do a clean job.  c) Finally, washing the fabric and maybe ironing them beforehand. I ended up tossing them in the washer and dryer {thank goodness I had a bunch that needed washing} after they were made. Sometimes I forget that I need to do more pre-leg work before actually starting DIYs.

Keeping these lessons learned in mind, shall we go through materials needed for this project? 

01 // Fabric. I got mine at half yard length {should be plenty} from Joann's. 
02 // Squeakers
03 // Scissors
04 // Thread and needle
05 // Pencil
06 // Stuffing

Not pictured here is a sewing machine. Mine is Janome 2206

If you don't have a sewing machine, then you can sew by hand using a needle and thread. 

With my pink fabric, I drew a heart shape right on the fabric and cut it out {making sure that I cut out the pencil trace. I wouldn't want Piri or our guest dogs to chew on that part}. I then placed the two pieces with the wrong side facing out and sewed them together. But don't sew all the way since we'll need to put int he stuffing and squeaker in. 

Using the little un-sewed part of the toy, I flipped the fabric inside out so that the right side of the fabric is now showing {your hem line should also be hidden}. After putting in some stuffing and the squeaker I used the invisible stitch technique to sew up the rest of the toy. 

I didn't want to be bothered with the invisible stitch so with my remaining two fabrics I simply sewed showing the hem line. I do wish I had a little bit more patience when going along the curves but I am not totally disappointed in the way the toys turned out. 

I had originally chosen these three fabrics because the patterns were fun but as I mentioned before, perhaps fleece would've been the better choice to make dog toys. I'll have to play around with that and see how it turns out in the near future. 

And that's it! Heart shaped dog toys, with squeakers that dogs go crazy for, just in time for Valentine's Day. 

Nala, our most recent Piri's Place guest was by my side the entire time I was making these. She goes bonkers for toys and every time I accidentally squeezed the squeaker her ears perked up a bit more and her eyes twinkled as well. 

These toys are Nala approved! 

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