Category Archives: Poodles

We Have Holidays for Everything … Even a Day to Dress Up Our Pets

I’m not even kidding.

Is it animal abuse, or just an excuse to give your pet a killer outfit?

Tomorrow (January 14) happens to be National Dress Your Pet Up Day. No, Simon is not getting a new outfit.

Why not? Because he is an animal, and the only animal I know of that’s actually comfortable in clothing is Winnie the Pooh, and that’s only because he isn’t wearing pants.

I did a little bit of digging to find out how one may dress his or her pet for this national holiday.

An eHow article gives tips on how to celebrate the holiday cheaply. The author’s first suggestion is to drape the dog in a pillow case. He could look like a cowboy or a princess or like he’s wearing a toga or a cape.

Continue celebrating by giving your pet a treat and a new toy, which should be more like a token or apology for putting your pet through so much torment and embarrassment.

I don’t mean to be a hater here, people, and I like the enthusiasm, but let’s give our pets a break in 2010 and not dress them up. How about giving them some extra love instead.

However, if you absolutely need to participate, why not dress little Sparky in a snazzy new bandana, or get your boy Buster a shiny new collar.

I was thinking something like this:

Simon with bandanasimon poodle

See? Cute. Simple. Comfortable.

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Filed under Austin, Crazy Ideas Unrelated to Austin, Poodles

Second Annual Dogtoberfest at the Domain – Saturday 10/24

I’m posting this a wee bit late, but if you were planning on being a couch potato tomorrow morning/early afternoon with your dog, scratch that plan and go to Dogtoberfest at the Domain from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sure this may seem like a family fun-filled event, but really it’s a chance to oogle at cute dogs and puppies.

dogtoberfest2009_logo_FINAL

The event is free, but all proceeds from food and activities go to Austin area dog rescue groups.

Activities include a costume contest, grooming demonstrations by Groomingdales, dog portraits in the Neiman Marcus dog photo booth (what they hay?), a silent auction, and much more.

Now as for Simon’s costume, we were thinking of letting him go as a few different things – a panda bear, Snoopy, or a sausage – and entering him in the cutest/most versatile costume category. Which do you think?

simon

simon1

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Austin Old Pecan Street Festival: A Weekend of Art, Crafts, and Fair Food

The Austin Old Pecan Street Festival is a free, bi-annual arts and crafts fair showcasing hundreds of Texas artists, charity groups, food vendors, and musicians on Sixth Street. So why isn’t is called the “Sixth Street Festival?” That’s because back in the early days when the street plans for the city were laid out, the east-west streets were named after trees. Eventually numbers replaced the street names, and festival goers have continued to celebrate and honor the street’s original name and the core of Austin’s live music scene for more than 30 years.

Vendors at the Pecan Street Festival

Vendors at the Pecan Street Festival

The city puts on the festival in the fall and the spring, and I usually attend one of the events each year. Last weekend I took poodle and we waltzed around the street vendors and music, drenched in heat and sweat (a typical Texas fall). While the tents full of tie-dye t-shirts and custom-fitted toe rings were intriguing and delightful to see, the fair food and fresh-squeezed lemonade were where it was at. Continue reading

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Sit, Lay Down, and Be Quiet: Teaching Poodle to Obey

Poodle is learning to be more obedient. However, I don’t necessarily think we have a disobedient poodle. In fact, most of the time he does what I want even before I have a chance to say it out loud. So he’s more like a mind-reading poodle. For example, I don’t have to tell him to eat because he is all over the dog bowl when I serve him, I don’t have to say “outside” because he is already halfway out the door when I am in the middle of opening it, and I don’t have to ask for hugs and kisses when I get home because he’s already in attack, scratch, and slobber mode when I walk through the door.

It’s all very loving and I don’t think Simon has actually hurt anyone or anything during his extreme fits of excitement, but others may think differently and we want our poodle to be as sweet and tolerable as possible.

I must say, Simon is looking pretty sweet and tolerable in this photo.

I must say, Simon is looking pretty sweet and tolerable in this photo.

Last week we began a six-week puppy obedience training course at Buddy’s Chance off North Lamar Blvd. Two experienced dog trainers and enthusiasts run the place and do a great job offering a variety of classes for dogs with all kinds of issues like separation anxiety, littermate issues, aggression, and food guarding. Read more about the types of training classes.

Our class consists of five puppies and their owners: a mix from the shelter, a mini dachshund, a maltese, an Airedale terrier, and Simon. All the dogs are sweet, but I sort of favor the Airedale terrier named Abby because she’s the sweetest and prettiest thing next to Simon.

The session begins with 10 minutes of puppy play, which looks more like a game of cowboys and Indians between Simon and the large mix while the Airedale terrier prances around aimlessly and the maltese and dachshund quiver furiously under their owners’ chairs until the madness stops. With about 20 to 25 minutes left in the class, we manage to quickly and efficiently cover the “sit” and “here” commands. This involves a lot of treats and patience, but it’s pretty easy to get your dog to do what you want when you have delicious chicken-flavored bits or string cheese particles as bait.

As a first-time pet owner, obedience training has taught me a lot, like not to coddle and pet a puppy when he is jumping and licking all over you. I can’t help that I love the excited panting and squealing when a new person gives the pup attention. It would take me two hands to count the number of times the lead trainer told me not to pet one of the dogs during the training exercises. “I can’t help it if they like me!” I kept repeating back at her. I guess it is just as much human training as it is for puppies.

We spend the week after each class doing homework. This involves going through each of the exercises every day and introducing our pets to 15 new people a week. So I literally started taking Simon everywhere to interact with folks: the video store, to get ice cream – almost anywhere I could wiggle him into we went. All in all, my poodle gets around Austin.

Simon looks pretty handsome in his signature pose.

Simon looks pretty handsome in his signature pose.

That face makes me melt.

That face makes me melt.

This week we are working on “down” and “don’t run after people when they walk away from you.” Can you whittle that down to a one-word command for me? Thanks.

Share your puppy training stories with me. The more people I know who’ve gone through this same kind of thing, the merrier I will be.

Buddy’s Chance
5501 N Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78751
(512) 636-3793

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We’re Always Happy When It Rains

It’s true. Texas has some of the most unpredictable weather known to mankind. Actually, the weatherman can predict the random cold fronts, the sudden spurts of ice and freezing rain, oh, and the hail in the spring/almost summertime. But where is this stuff coming from? It’s completely bizarre how we will be enduring months of 95+ degree days and then bam! Three solid days of rain and flash flood warnings. Maybe it’s like this in all major cities, where the unpredictable happens and then the entire population can’t seem to get over how their town has craaaazy weather patterns.

Whatever the real story is, no one can deny that for last 10 months, Texas has been under the worst drought in 50 years. Record-high heat and record-low rainfall have caused losses of more than $3.5 billion in crops and livestock and some hardcore water restrictions all over the state. Last month, the City of Austin entered Stage 2 water restrictions with a list of serious no-no’s.

Just to summarize:
1. You can water your lawn once per week, but you can water by hand or bucket anytime
2. You can wash your car on certain days and at certain times with a hand-held bucket or a shut-off nozzle on a hose
3. You may not conduct or participate in a charity car wash
4. You cannot add water to your fancy indoor or outdoor fountains
5. No automatic fill valves are allowed for pools or ponds
6. A restaurant may not serve water to a customer unless requested by the customer

Whoa. At least we still have the option to order water. But the whole thing is just sad – burnt ears of corn, dying daisies, keeled over cattle, and the fact that the USDA designated 70 Texas counties as primary natural disaster areas due to severe drought.

That’s why weekends like this, when the forecast predicts an 100 percent chance of rain and flash flood warnings, people are joyous and up in arms that it may actually rain enough for things to grow around here.

I’m not much for growing things. I’ve killed plenty of house and office plants, even an Eggling or two. But I can see how the rain transforms the sodden Earth and the things that grow naturally in our background. The ground isn’t just brown dirt anymore. The rain has made cute, little blades of grass and even a few mushroom caps start to sprout from the belly of our yard. And every time the rain stops, the sky looks and the air feels just slightly sweeter.

Green grass grows.

Green grass grows.

Flower attacked by rain.

Flower attacked by rain.

Poodles are supposed to like the rain. Not this one.

Poodles are supposed to like the rain. Not this one.

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Eating Beyond Oblivion: The Grove Wine Bar and Kitchen

Last night was another successful date night. Success equals delicious food, perfect wine, and enough dessert to make the seams of my stomach burst. We went to one of our favorite restaurants in Austin called The Grove Wine Bar and Kitchen, or just “The Grove.” The first time we went there we got the impression that The Grove was kind of an upscale restaurant with a slightly casual feel. Shelves of wine line the walls, silver boat-like drapes hang from the ceiling, candles light the tables, and a large contemporary painting of an abstract wine bottle boasts itself at the entrance. I felt kind of fancy being there, all dressed up in my heels and lipstick. Then I looked around and noticed a lot of people dressed in casual outfits: shorts, caps, tennis skirts, I kid you not. Even the waiters were cute and casual in simple cotton t-shirts with The Grove logo. I thought maybe we were dressed a bit on the fancy side, but it didn’t feel awkward because I think The Grove allows you to wear whatever you want. This must go back to the Keep Austin Weird, and then tag on Casual and Comfortable, mantra that Austinites choose to live by.

But I did just mention tennis skirts, and here’s why: The Grove is located right off 360 and Bee Caves Road, sort of out in the heart of West Lake Hills. So I get the impression that with the moderate prices, abundance of wine, and lunch specials, The Grove is the everyday eatery for the more posh west side dwellers of Austin. I envision these women stopping by for a glass and a slice after a slamming workout on the courts. And that’s okay because the food and the wine are delicious. I just don’t have the disposable income to eat at places like The Grove every week and after my own workouts.

The Grove

The Grove

Onto the food:

Kyle tends to order the same thing, but I have tried to spice it up every time I visit The Grove. We usually always begin by sharing the sesame seared Ahi tuna salad with sambai-ginger vinaigrette, Asian mixed greens, mandarin oranges, avocado, and wonton crispies. This salad is the just the perfect mix of tart and lush flavors. I feel like the greens are always flawlessly dressed with the beautiful sambai-ginger vinaigrette, and the seared Ahi dipped in the jalapeno soy sauce is something I always look forward to at The Grove. This is definitely one of my favorite salads in town and I was so eager to eat it that I forgot to take a photo. I will tell you now, though – it was a very pretty salad.

Kyle's Spaghetti Bolognese with Baby Calf and Pork

Kyle's Spaghetti Bolognese with Baby Calf and Pork

Kyle religiously orders the spaghetti Bolognese: slow-simmered veal and pork ragu with tomatoes and a touch of cream. He loves this recipe and he says the Bolognese sauce is what makes the dish. He shared a bite with me and I agree, the sauce is divine and flavorful, but I don’t really have experience with Bolognese because I am not really one for veal.

But apparently I have no problems with ham anymore. I used to say no to pork like it was a drug, but I am back to eating yummy ham when it is cooked in sort of a delicate, delicious way. So I ordered the fettuccine with prosciutto, wild mushrooms, and fresh peas in a spicy garlic cream. A coworker recommended this dish and I am trying to spread my wings beyond ordering the delicious Don’t Have a Cow … Man! pizza with eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms, and roasted peppers with mozzarella, pesto, and marinara.

My Fettuncine with Prosciutto and Peas

My Fettuccine with Prosciutto and Peas

The prosciutto was amazing mixed with the cream sauce and peas. I never would have thought to put peas with pasta, but it works and gives the bowl of fettuccine some more color. It was incredible and I probably ate about three quarters of it, but I still felt like I had enough room in me for some dessert. My absolute favorite, no way around it, dessert is the chocolate bread pudding with whipped cream and strawberries. The serving could be meant for four, no doubt, but we ate as much as we could between the two of us. We did a pretty good job and devoured most of it. I just love the warm, gooey chocolate and the thicker, fuller texture of bread pudding. Like with the salad, I was also too eager to eat it before snapping a photo. You’ll just have to order this one for yourself.

I am glad I wore one of my fancy dresses with some extra eating room because I took full advantage of it after we left The Grove. We went to Stubb’s on Red River to check out Michael Kingcaid from What Made Milwaukee Famous in one of his solo gigs. This is one rockin’ choirboy, meaning his voice is incredible and that he rocks. You take a first glance at the longhaired, mustached musician and think the show may be kind of to really good because most musicians in Austin are kind of to really good. Michael Kingcaid is really, really, oh so good. He rocks his own tunes hard and throws a couple of covers into the mix that he rocks and plays like they were his own.

I apologize for the lack of photos this time around. I am trying to get better at this. But here is a recent photo of poodle for grins:

Simon

Simon

The Grove
6317 Bee Caves
Austin, TX78746
(512) 327-8822

Stubb’s
801 Red River St
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 480-8341

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Vacation Recap Part 3: I will miss you, Philly

I feel like I met my match in Philadelphia, or one of my many matches. I fall in love with a lot of places, usually because of the food, culture, things to do, places to see, friendly dogs, and then the people. I like to think that I’m a people person, so when I feel accepted into a new group or community I just smile with delight and fall in love with everyone, unless you are a mean cheese steak vendor. Then we have issues.

Big Friendly Dog on South Street

We met this insanely huge dog and her owners on South Street. She was a real sweetie.

Lindsay and I spent the last day of our trip trying to forget that I’d be going back to Austin and she back to State College the next day. We tried to fill our brains with as much historical knowledge about the city and our Founding Fathers as possible in attempts to forget about the separation that would soon ensue. But we felt we needed to fill our stomachs first.

We found an adorable little bistro called FARMiCiA in Old City. It was glorious watching all the little couples eating their omelets and drinking their perfect Sunday brunch Bloody Marys. We sat by the bar and pondered over the menu for a while. It was full of wholesome, local, and organic ingredients with a variety of sweet and savory breakfast items like grilled brie and assorted cheeses as appetizers; pancakes, grilled cheese, and paninis as griddle dishes; and various omeletes, frittatas, and eggs benedict options for breakfast-like items.

I fought with myself for five minutes before I ordered the brioche French toast with peach compote. Lindsay’s dish was another piece of perfection, the vegan and salty kind: scrambled tofu and vegan chorizo sausage on top of a vegan sopapilla with refried black beans and avocado salsa. I stuck with black coffee because I don’t particularly care for Bloody Marys, but Lindsay had to try one and her only complaint was that it wasn’t spicy enough. But I don’t know how she does it. Vegetables processed into liquid and then mixed with pepper and alcohol just does not sound appealing to me.

FARMiCiA decor consisted of cute Granny Apples.

FARMiCiA decor consisted of cute Granny Smith apples.

Brioche french toast with peach compote. Mmm yea.

Brioche French toast with peach compote. Mmm yea.

After a successful brunch, we made our way to one of the biggest attractions in the city, the Liberty Bell. I can hear bells ringing as I type. Also, it was a lot smaller than anticipated and the entire experience was kind of like a joke because there were hoards of people surrounding the bell trying to have family members or whoever take a photo of them in front of the side with the crack. It seemed silly. I walked the circumference and that was about it. Then we walked by a few more historical sites like the first insurance building, but I think I was more interested in the architecture and the cute cobblestone roads.

The last item on our list was visiting South Street, which is like the hip, bohemian part of town with vintage shops and stellar murals in the alleyways. It reminded me a lot of The Haight in San Francisco, California, and flooded with tourists on the weekends.  The best cheese steak place in Philly is supposed to be on South Street, Jim’s Steaks, and I think word gets around because the line was out the door. We didn’t even stop because enough of our new local friends had already told us that the place was overrated, but maybe they are just bitter because it’s always too packed with tourists to eat there themselves. I pryed for more cheese steak recommendations, but no one seemed completely satisfied with the cheese steak vendors around town. One place had weird bread while another place didn’t use enough cheese, etc. I ended up trying a place called Tony Jr’s because it was nearby and I needed to eat, and because I am a meat eater again I wanted to take full advantage of the authentic Philly cheese steak. All in all, I was disappointed. I had a regular cheese steak with grilled onions and sharp provolone and it was too dry. Big hairy cheese steak vendor skimped on the cheese and I became sad. Most people say to get the famous Cheese Whiz, this disgusting processed cheese goo made by Kraft. Blah, don’t do it.

Waiting outside Jim's Steaks ... we decided to leave after seeing the line inside

Waiting outside Jim's Steaks ... we decided to leave after seeing the line inside

For our final evening rendezvous in Philadelphia, we drank $1 Pabst Blue Ribbon and ended up at a local club called Fast Cheap & Out of Control. We were told Sunday nights at FC&OOC used to be cool, but now not so much, with random ‘80s and new wave music and a sad go-go dancer. She was sad and there weren’t many people there, but we ended up having a lot of fun! Our new Philly friends danced with us and felt embarrassed with us, but it was a damn good time. Six hours later I was back on a plane to Austin to reunite with Kyle and my poodle.

Kyle and Poodle

Kyle and Poodle

Right before I got on the airplane I wrote a message to Philadelphia through a little Facebook update. It was something along the lines of, “Dear Philly, This was fun. Let’s do it again sometime. Love, Jen.”

FARMiCiA
15 S. 3rd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 627-6274

Liberty Bell Center
526 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Tony Jr’s
118 S 18th St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 568-4630

Fast Cheap & Out of Control
613 S. 4th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147

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