Miles to Go Before I Sleep

Recently my good friend, sous chef (she hates it when I call her that), and the princess of pastries –  Valerie – her dog Sydney went from seemingly happy, healthy, full of life and love to lethargic with loss of appetite. 
An ultrasound Tuesday revealed a 17 cm mass in her spleen with possible liver involvement.  Valerie had to make the heartwrenching decision most of us have had to make but in a fraction of a moment.  Once hemangiosarcoma is suspected, time is of the absolute essence.  
For Sydney, 13 years old though a spirited lass by all accounts, the clock was ticking.  Valerie opted to spare no effort to save her life.  
Her surgeon, Dr. Taylor, successfully performed the splenectomy and a liver lobectomy as well as removing an intestinal tumor that wasn’t evident through the ultrasound and I’m happy to report that Sydney has made it to Day 2 of postoperative care.  Though her status still guarded, hopefully Sydney can go home today and be with her mother.  
Three times I’ve gone through this personally with Malcolm, Murphy, and Hudson and I’ve been by the side of many friends with dogs with cancer.  That is one of my jobs. I awakened early this morning relieved by the promising news of Sydney’s condition but reminded of a poem by Robert Frost.
“Whose woods these are I think I know.   
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow.   
My little horse must think it queer   
To stop without a farmhouse near   
Between the woods and frozen lake   
The darkest evening of the year.   
He gives his harness bells a shake   
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.   
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.”
——–
YBD’s Notes 1: I want to thank Valerie for her courage in not only fighting to save her girl’s life against all odds but for allowing me to share Sydney’s story.  She just isn’t able to speak about it yet but she knows I must.  
YBD’s Notes 2:  Nearby is a pic of Sydney with my Puppy Up neck gaiter I gave her to keep her warm.  Isn’t she a beaut?  
YBD’s Notes 3: Perhaps the main reason we got Sydney into the vet before her spleen ruptured is by noticing her distended belly which will be added to our list of early warning signs of cancer.  
YBD’s Notes 4: BTW Sydney is NOT a boy (inside joke).

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES

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Win Pro Pet Works Natural Oatmeal Pet Wash Shampoo + Conditioner (2 winners!)

Are you ready to make a clean start in the new year? Pro Pet Works offers natural solutions for pet families including the Oatmeal Pet Shampoo and Conditioner, recommended by veterinarians. Featuring…



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DogTipper

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The Adventures of Chef Big Dog

Now that our Puppy Up events have winded down for the season, I’m up in CT helping out a friend with her food truck and it’s been quite an experience so far.
I’ve cooked for farmer’s markets, festivals, and for hundreds of families and friends I’ve stayed with throughout our journey but the food truck thing is a whole nother level. 
I’ll be sharing my culinary adventures, how and why YBD became CBD, and what’s next in 2016 at www.chefbigdog.com   

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES

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Make Your Dog a Toy with this #BestFriends Video!

OK, the big day is here. Feeling bad because your dog doesn’t have a toy under the tree? Have no worries: Best Friends Animal Society has got you covered! Regardless of your DIY skills,…



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DogTipper

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Peanut butter stew

The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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Clumber

This is a Clumber spaniel at the Monaco Dog Show earlier in the year.  Clumbers are, I believe, the heaviest of all the spaniels.

Not a breed we see often n the south of France although there is one who lives in Menton.
RIVIERA DOGS

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Great article! It's somewhat funny to me becau…

Great article! It's somewhat funny to me because our pit got sprayed by a skunk, tore a nail, and broke out in hives all within a two-week span. I will be trying the benadryl for the hives. Have you ever run into severe dry skin issues with your pits? Ours scratches her face until she bleeds. She also gets something similar to diaper rash between her legs and belly during the winter/spring. And she just started licking her paws CONSTANTLY over the past year. I found an aloe spray for dogs that seems to keep the dry skin under control, but I have to apply multiple times a day, every day. It starts all over again if I miss a day.
BAD RAP Blog

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TRACIE HOTCHNER: SHELTER DOGS HELP PROTECT ENDANGERED SPECIES

2016-1-ConservationDogs_ph1-WBThere is a detection-dog program called Conservation Canines (CK9), part of the University of Washington’s Center for Conservation Biology, that is putting to a brand new use the amazing sense of smell that dogs possess.

These CK9 dogs are trained to help conservationists detect the presence of endangered animals by sniffing out their poop.

Unlike scent dogs trained to find drugs or explosives, the CK9 dogs’ talents are put to use for scientific studies around the world: sniffing out the scat of endangered species — among them black bear, grizzly bear, lynx, wolf, bobcat, coyote, and cougar.

DFF-logo-ProudSponsor175x166Genetic tests on the scat can identify individual animals – hormone-level testing shows if they’re stressed, pregnant – and toxicology tests reveal if they’re being poisoned. Experts have found that no other wildlife sampling method can acquire so much information so quickly, without disturbing the environment.

And best of all, the CK9 dogs are rescued from shelters, where the trainers seek out those animals which were considered unadoptable because they were super high energy with an obsession about playing with a ball – a single-minded drive which can also lead to destructive behavior if the energy is not put to use.

But when that energy is trained and harnessed to a task like this, the dogs are rock stars. Or poop stars. But in any case, it’s a win-win all around.

For the full story on this fascinating program benefiting shelter dogs in need of the right homes as well as species of animals in danger, Click here on “Conservation Dogs Sniff Out Endangered Species“.
RPLN-NewLogo-ProudSponsor175x197
Tracie Hotchner is the author of THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know.

She is also a renowned pet radio host and producer, having spent 7 years on the Martha Stewart Channel of Sirius/XM with CAT CHAT® and even longer with her award-winning NPR radio show DOG TALK® (and Kitties, Too!) that continues to broadcast in the Hamptons and the Berkshires. Her most recent accomplishment is the pet talk radio network she has created on the Internet called The Radio Pet Lady Network.

Halo

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Pet Food Recall: MARS Petcare Nutro Chewy Treats Apple 4 oz.

MARS Petcare has issued a voluntary recall of its Nutro Chewy Treats Apple 4 oz.  The recall information is below.  It was found at PetSmart.

Dear Valued PetSmart® Customer,

MARS Petcare has issued a voluntary recall of the following Nutro dog treat due to potential mold.

 

Product Description

 

PetSmart SKU

 

Product UPC

 

Impacted Lot Codes

Nutro CHEWY TREATS APPLE 4OZ

5229600

7910511344

Lots codes beginning with ‘4 50’, ‘5 02’, ‘5 03’, OR ‘5 05’ (regardless of best by date).

 

The Lot Codes are located on the bottom of the bag under the Best By date as shown below:

 

 

Please stop feeding this product to your pet and bring any remaining Nutro 4 oz. Apple Chewy Treats affected by this recall to your nearest PetSmart for a full refund. PetSmart sells a wide variety of treats from many brands, and our associates can help you find the right item for you and your pet.

If you have questions about this voluntary recall, please contact Nutro Customer Service at 1-800-833-5330.


PetsitUSA Blog

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Life is a macaron

My mother was not a great cook. I think she would happily cop to that. She made spaghetti, burnt steak, and stuck underseasoned chicken breasts in the oven until they turned rubbery. Her mother was not a great cook either. She was Irish, so I guess that was part of her legacy to boil everything until it fell apart and all the taste seeped out, or so she claimed.

However, her father was French, so she inherited a different type of culinary genius: boy could she bake. If I had to choose one of the two to excel in, it’s pastry chef every time. Banana bread. Cranberry muffins. Christmas sugar cookies with just the right frosting:cookie ratio. And her New England birthright, the whoopie pie.

Whoopiepies1

Every Christmas, she would bake piles of these little crack blobs and send them to every corner of the States, where otherwise mild-mannered humans would turn into ravenous wolves and tear into them until nothing was left but a small pile of chocolate crumbs and the satisfied groans of bellies bloated with marshmallow creme. And when my kids were older, they took my place up at the counter to learn the great tradition of cookie decorating:

Christmas2013 29 12 2013

They weren’t bakery perfect, but that’s what made them fun.

Mom would also on occasion bake macaroons, those pasty, blobby coconut things that stick to your teeth and cling to the insides of your esophagus like phlegm. I was not a fan. But one fateful day I wandered into a French bakery and admired the little pastel rows of goodness and light known as French macarons, and everything changed. I picked up a rose flavored one and a lavender one, and I was hooked.

By MachineKeebler (talk).MachineKeebler at en.wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], from Wikimedia Commons

By MachineKeebler (talk).MachineKeebler at en.wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], from Wikimedia Commons

Before they became wildly popular a year or two ago, they were nearly impossible to find, and I decided that the easiest thing to do would be just to learn how to make them myself. Mom was on board too, ready to add a new treat to her repertoire.

Unfortunately, macarons are known as one of the granddaddies of pastry making, a confection as temperamental as an 80s hair band vocalist. Beat the meringue too long? Ruined. Not long enough? Ruined. Also able to ruin them: temperature too high, too low, overmixing, undermixing, high humidity, Mercury in retrograde, wrong rack in oven, playing country music while baking, etc, etc.

It only made me more determined to unlock their secrets, so last year I procured a cookbook, 5 bags of almond flour, and spent an afternoon in the kitchen with my mother ruining macarons.

After 3 or so batches, we were able to get a cookie sheet out of the oven with at least half of them edible, and we considered this a great success.

“Next year,” she said, “We’ll have this down.”

We never did get to practice together after that.

So a couple of weeks ago, with this echoing in my mind, I realized I needed to finish what we started and make some damn macarons. They are not like making a batch of chocolate chip cookies where you screw it up a little, meh, still fine.

Macarons are an event. You need to prepare. You need to think about things. You need to time everything just so, knowing the difference between firm meringue and soft, how many folds it takes before the stiff batter melts into pipable lava, make sure to bang the tray on the counter a few times,  you need to rest the cookie before you bake it so you get those little crusty feet. Getting it right is like finding the keyhole into the Misty Mountain, a perfect meeting of all the right tiny details.

And even when you do all of this right, they still get messed up. Sometimes they slant to the left like a manhole askew, sometimes the foot sticks to the pan and all you get is the top half, or they’re overdone and crunchy all the way through. Piles wind up in the trash. And every once in a while you hit the jackpot and get a perfectly done shell, and then- then, it’s magic. Crunchy and chewy and delicate and unlike any other thing out there, and you think to yourself, I have reached nirvana.

Manic Pixie Baker

I went into manic baking mode this week. Between the 3 dozen macarons I took to a cookie exchange (and lost the contest to a BROWNIE, what the heck is that about?), the teacher gifts, the ones my husband wants to bring into work, I can’t keep them in the fridge before they get carted out. Biscoff gingerbread. Pistachio. Cherry cordial. Eggnog. Nutella. I was a macaron machine.

I could have just gone and bought them, I suppose, or picked one of any thousands of easier cookies to make. But there is something special about giving someone a perfectly tied teensy box of macarons that makes a recipient light up- even when the cookies are imperfect, which most of them are. Because you are basically presenting a box that says, “I wasted 40 hours of my life swearing at a bowl of egg whites in order to bring you this,” and when the person squees in delight, you realize it’s not a waste after all.

In the hours I spent in meditative contemplation over a tray of almond meal, it really started to sink in as to why I felt such a need to get it right, to fulfill this promise to my mom that I would nail this cookie in a manner befitting my birthright. Whether or not they came out perfectly was completely beside the point, an added bonus but not necessary.

They are, simply put, a confectionary metaphor for life itself. They’re never going to be perfect. There’s always going to be one more way you can make them better. It takes time and effort and patience to get to the end and it still may not be what you wanted, but oh, even then, it was worth it.

macaron

What you bring to the party, and what you give to others from your own heart and hands- it is worth it. Never stop giving.

 

Pawcurious: With Veterinarian and Author Dr. V

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