Saturday, April 27, 2013

Book Review - Wedding Dogs: A Celebration of Holy Muttrimony

Who doesn't love a dog at a wedding???

Oh ... You don't love the idea of a dog being part of a wedding? 

Well, I suggest you just go hang out with Grumpy Cat and leave the rest of us alone with our dogs in little tuxedos. I'm fine with that. This relationship can't possibly work out long-term.

Know what else I'm fine with? Weddings! I'm more than fine with weddings. I freakin LOVE weddings. It's a big party celebrating love! I love love! And it's officially wedding season now, how exciting!! And you know I freakin love dogs, too--putting these things together sounds like my idea of a good time.

So when I was offered an advance copy of Wedding Dogs: A Celebration of Holy Muttrimony for review, I was way more excited than I should have been. But I was also kind of really depressed. 

You see, when Joey and I got married, we didn't have a dog. We were living in an apartment that was not dog friendly--and that's the only reason we didn't have a dog. So many missed opportunities and incredible photos! So many cubes of cheese that could have been comically stolen!

But, hey, I get to live vicariously through this fantastic book. Loads of couples submitted their stories and photos--all of which are equally sweet, awesome, and hilarious (some of those dogs weren't even supposed to be there!)--to make what I think is a truly beautiful book. 

You will not believe me when I tell you that some of these photos get me a little choked up, but it's true. I'm a sucker for this stuff, big time. I'm one of the four people in America who was watching Ready for Love (I cannot believe they canceled it--I'm devastated. Devastated!). 

I wish I knew a crazy dog lady planning a wedding, because I'd be gifting her my copy. It would make a great addition to her home as a coffee table book and could be fun to have on display at a bridal shower, especially if the couple is planning on including their pup in the festivities.

I don't know what more I can say without starting to continuing to sound like a 14-year-old girl, so I will leave you with some cover shots and my very favorite photos. I took all these pix with my phone--they are nothing like the quality you'll see in the book in person, I promise!

Back of the book jacket
The front cover, under the jacket 
A dog who looks like a grumpy old man!!!!
So much love
Freakin awesome in every way
This one almost made me cry
Hilarious. Just hilarious.
And this is a gorgeous shot. I'm so jealous.
Wedding Dogs: A Celebration of Holy Muttrimony came out on April 16th and is available now in various bookstores and online retailers. I highly recommend you check it out.

[disclaimer]: I was provided with one copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Hurricane Update Part 7: Progress, Prozac, and Playing Fetch in the Hay

Three updates for you today in regards to our Hurricane/Superstorm/Jerkface Sandy status. And I'm going to try not to be too wordy about it. It's your lucky day.

164 days after evacuating my home because of Sandy, WORK HAS FINALLY STARTED! Last Tuesday, things got rolling and there's already been impressive progress. Are we still likely going to be out of our home until August? I don't know. I'm going with that, though, because maybe we'll get in earlier--and then I'll be overjoyed. (For anyone who's playing along at home, today is the 173rd day of our displacement. It's almost time to replace my toothbrush.)

Guess who's on Prozac now? No, no. It's not me. It's Desmond! Desmond is now on both Xanax and Prozac. He's still on 4mg a day of Xanax, and he is now also taking 30mg of Prozac. We won't know if the Prozac is "working" for about 6 weeks, but we do know that the Xanax alone is not the answer. Behavior modification along with the meds is definitely in Desmond's future, but we aren't able to incorporate it until things get back to normal. We'll get there, one day, Des. Don't worry. For now, unless I'm just making things up, I do feel like Desmond is a little tired since being on the Prozac.

Playing Fetch in the Hay:
OK, OK, so it's not actually hay. It's just our hurricane-ravaged grass that seems to get worse every time we visit the house. Nonetheless, Desmond enjoyed himself. We have photographic evidence. 

Happiness is a mouth full of dirt.

Desmond loves his daddy, and I love this pic. 
Resting in the one spot he always wanted to but was never allowed when we had plants. And I'm so disheartened by this whole experience that I refuse to plant another damn thing out there. Those rocks are all yours, Des.  


Hey there! Have you entered our giveaway of the book Buddy: How a Rooster Made Me a Family Man? The giveaway closes tomorrow (Friday) at 11:59pm. Enter here.

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Monday, April 15, 2013

Book Review & Giveaway - BUDDY: How a Rooster Made Me a Family Man

(image from Random House's website)
BUDDY: How a Rooster Made Me a Family Man is a book I'm still having trouble formulating an opinion about. I enjoyed reading it--the story flowed along nicely (I always wanted to keep going), the writing was great (I'm curious about the author's other work), and Buddy the rooster is a hilarious creature who was captured well on paper. But I just don't know what to think of the whole thing. 

I feel a bit awkward about it, because the book is not a novel. So my criticism of the characters is actually a criticism of real people, Brian and Pam--and that makes me feel like a jerk. Especially after watching the book's preview video. Brian and Pam both seem so nice. And I would recommend the book to others. It really was a cute story; I wanted to find out what would happen with Buddy. And I guess you don't have to like every aspect of a book to have enjoyed reading it. Alas, I am confused.

Here are my sticking points: 

1) The coupling seemed ingenuine.

I didn't think the two people who make up the couple in this book had much of a clue what the other was feeling. While I was reading it, I felt like if I were Pam reading the book, I would have been learning a lot of things for the first time, and I would have been pissed off. There's no way of knowing what these two people actually did discuss in real life or not, but the book feels like a secret diary at some points, where Brian is expressing how he really feels. 

Some of the feelings I'm referring to are in regards to Buddy the rooster; Brian is not a fan of Buddy at all.  This is not a spoiler for you guys--it's the basis for the whole book--but I almost think it was for Pam. I have no idea if she knew how Brian felt about the rooster. And Brian also seemed to have a lot of doubts about their relationship in general and his change from living the single life in the city to living the family life in the suburbs. 

While I was reading it, I kind of kept yelling in my head, "Would you just talk to her about this stuff?" I couldn't help but feel like Pam was being duped. Brian was spending a long time trying to talk himself into this new life. I can only hope that he and Pam were on the same page about all these things at some point, and the book is not Pam's first indication of any of this stuff. In the book, she comes off kind of oblivious and exhausted, more concerned about her kids and animals than about Brian. I really could not figure out why these two people were trying to make a life together when neither seemed fully invested in that idea. I realize the story was supposed to be more about the rooster and Brian, so there are likely a lot of details missing about the Pam & Brian relationship, but I had a hard time getting past this. 

2) Yet again, I'm reading a book that glorifies purebred dogs from breeders and brushes off adoptable dogs from shelters and rescues as being too problematic. 

Look, y'all know I'm 100% an Adopt, Don't Shop kind of gal. I will always try to sway someone to rescue a dog before buying one. But I do--I really do--understand the reasons why some people will choose a breeder. But this is not the point. The point is that it seems like all the books about rescued pets are these overly dramatic stories of tragedy and hope and overcoming having one eye or three legs or whatever. Where is the book that's just a normal book that happens to have some dogs in it, or maybe even does focus on the dog, but the dog came from a shelter instead of a breeder? Where is the book that has people deciding to get a dog and getting that dog from a local rescue organization and not making a big deal about it but just doing it?

There are two points in the book where this comes up. 

The first is a story from the author's childhood involving the family bringing home a dog from the "Weymouth dog pound", the family leaving the dog alone in the house the very next day, and the family returning to the home to find it destroyed by the dog. They brought the dog back the following day. The author also made a point of describing the dog as "vacant", "gangly", and "mangy." 

What's my problem with this? The dog's physical appearance and the fact that he was from the pound have very little--if anything--to do with the fact that he destroyed the family's house. You cannot get a dog and then just leave it alone the next day and expect to come back to the pup greeting you at the door with your slippers and pipe. This would have happened with any number of dogs, regardless of where the dog came from. The story could have been told without those details and not lost any of its effect. 

The second time this comes up is in a story from later in Brian's life. As an adult, he got a puppy from a breeder and, after that dog had passed, when he was ready to get a new dog, he just immediately called up the same breeder. There is no mention in the book of any possible consideration of adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue. Other than the negative experience with the dog from Weymouth, there's no explanation of why he chose a breeder.

3) There's a scene with a compulsion trainer--and zero discussion regarding the pitfalls of that particular training method. 

Pam is a highly intelligent vet who loves animals a whole heck of a lot. Brian is a smart man who is a newspaper reporter and seems to know a lot about the world in general. It's odd to me that at no point would this come up as something to maybe use a little care with in the retelling of the story. Perhaps I'm being overly sensitive. It's a touchy subject for me. 

So those are the things that upset me. But then I read the author Q&A on the Random House site and came across this gem:
Buddy showed me that, when it comes to kids, mates, people you love, being there is critical, whether it’s convenient or not. And not just being there in physical presence but investing yourself in the moment. Buddy was always there, watching his flock. He didn’t care about what happened outside of our yard, because everything he ever wanted in his life, everything that mattered, was right there.
And, dammit, that almost made me cry. Because I completely agree with the sentiment. 

Do you see where my dilemma comes in? I have these specific qualms with the people in the book (real people who would probably hate me if they read this), but the story is well told, the chapters well written, the point extremely well intentioned.  

Maybe you should decide for yourself. Chances are, you are far more normal than I am. 

Thanks to Crown Publishing and Random House, we're giving away one free copy of Buddy: How a Rooster Made Me a Family Man. Want to check out an excerpt first? No problem: Click here.

Enter the giveaway via the Rafflecopter widget below. U.S. residents 18 & older only please. 
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Disclaimer: I was given one copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion. I bet they're sorry they did that. ;-)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Dog Product Review & Giveaway: Zuke's Z-Bones

Folks, we are big fans of Zuke's treats for dogs. We've tried every kind of treat they offer except the "energy bars," (that's just asking for trouble) and have almost always had success with them. But you know what I've never bothered with? The dental chews. 

Zuke's Z-Bones are natural, grain-free chews, with vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals, that are meant to be used as a dental supplement to freshen breath and clean teeth. They are, like the rest of the Zuke's line, made in the USA (hooray!) and come in potato-based formulas in flavors that make me want to eat them--Clean Apple Crisp, Clean Berry Crisp, and Clean Carrot Crisp are the flavors they sent us. 

Now, there are two main reasons we don't really use a dental chew on a regular basis. 

1) They are expensive/I am cheap
2) They don't last long enough because Desmond is a gluttonous monster when he's in the mood. If he's gonna chew on something, I want it to keep him quiet/occupied for a while.

But I see no harm in trying them when the opportunity arises, because you never know what you'll find.
Zuke's also sent us all these treats samples, which is awesome--as I said, we know we love these already. Desmond immediately went for the jerky. He knows the good stuff when he smells it!
A quick Google search tells me that Z-Bones are generally a little bit cheaper than Greenies (which is another brand of dental chew we've reviewed here previously), and I do like that they come in different flavors. Desmond gets tired of everything he eats after a few weeks, so we're constantly trying to switch things around or supplement with add-ons. Having options would certainly help with that. 

So, let's see how Desmond felt. 

Desmond, wait...
OK, go!
A sniff, sniff here...
A sniff, sniff there...

"I think I'll take that one, thankyouverymuch"
Des, it's not open yet, you have to wait 
I held it up to get a pic and he just went for it
But then he did his typical Desmond thing where he kept putting it down, sniffing it, picking it up, and generally being uncertain whether or not it is edible 

He event chose the wrapper over the bone at one point #notarhodesscholar
But eventually he claimed his prize, pranced into the other room, and chowed down on it before I realized what was happening. Don't worry though--he got those crumbs, too.
And then he took a post-bone nap. Being a product tester is hard work.

But maybe he was so tired because I made him "review" the treats first and take a million stupid pictures. 

In any case, I'd say this went pretty well. He figured out that the bone was a bone sooner than I thought he would, and then he actually sat down and ate it. Some other bones/chews, he will just carry around or totally ignore for weeks on end. He clearly doesn't appreciate all that he has. There are dogs in shelters who would roll over for those bones, Desmond! Show some respect!

There are two things I like about these bones that have nothing to do with what Desmond thinks. 

1) They don't stink like crap. Always a plus in my book. 
2) The weight ranges for the different sizes makes them more affordable for us. 

Z-Bones comes in four sizes: Mini, Regular, Large, and Giant. At the moment, Desmond is a tubby little 60 pounds. That means that he falls into two of the size categories for Z-Bones--Regular (25-60 pounds) and Large (60-90 pounds).

(image provided by Zuke's)

The Zuke's rep cautioned me that when you're not sure or are in between, you should go smaller--which is why they sent us both sizes--but I like to live on the edge, so I gave Desmond the large size bone. I actually think that the regular size is a bit small to give him as a chew. The weight range makes more sense for us, especially when life gets back to normal, and we're all exercising regularly (he'll go back down to 55 pounds no problem), but I feel like he would bite it in two and swallow. Frankly, I don't think he's ever tasted a thing in his life. I mean, geez dog, freaking chew something once in a while. Savor it. You only live once. 

I'll be giving him the smaller one later today to see how that goes, because using the smaller ones would be better--you get more of them in a package for the same price as the larger size. Saving money = happy dog mom.

In the meantime, now it's your turn to test out the Zuke's Z-Bones! Enter our giveaway below via the Rafflecopter widget for a chance to win Z-Bones for your dog. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents 18 & older only. If you have any trouble with the widget, let me know!

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