Saturday, February 13, 2016

A Dog's Life

Yesterday, I took a "mental health" day at work and wanted to do some things that I don't ordinarily get time to do anymore. I spent a quiet morning reading and walking the dogs, had lunch with a friend and later, I pulled out my camera and took some pictures of the dogs.

We've had Princess for almost three years now. We adopted her at one of Jacksonville's mega-adoption events (about a thousand animals in the fairgrounds, hoping to get adopted in a highly advertised weekend). We almost left, but went back for one more look at the one dog in the whole place who was sleeping in her cage. They took her out of the cage so we could have a look and she was so sweet and laid-back, we all fell in love with her right then and there.

She had obviously had a litter of puppies recently and was being treated for heartworms and kennel cough. What a little sickie she was, but she was bright -eyed and had a happy tail wag for us, so we paid our twenty bucks for this spayed and chipped little girl.

Her name was Widget because, the people at the shelter explained, when she came in her name was "Patches," but she didn't have any patches. Not liking either of those names, we took a few days to decide what to call her. She didn't seem to respond strongly to Patches or Widget, but it soon became apparent that she was truly a "Princess." She's been the love of our lives ever since. The best dog anyone could ever have.

I'm not exactly sure how I ended up browsing the dog adoption sites a couple of months ago, but I stumbled on a dog who was the spitting image of our Princess. His name is Rugby and he was being cared for by a rescue organization in Putnam county, called Their Lives, Our Voices. It just happened that they were bringing some dogs to the Old Navy store in Orange Park just across the river that very day, so I hustled over to see him. He was smaller than Princess, but in almost every other way, just as beautiful. It took us a few weeks to get him due to the holidays and our vacation, but finally, we were able to have a meet and greet with Princess to see if the two dogs would be compatible. They sniffed a little and both dogs seemed more interested in everything else than in each other. We all talked about it and decided we wanted Rugby to be part of our family.

Here's what the owner of TLOV had to say when after we took him home:

Oh Rugby.... 
Rugby was challenging to show at adoption events, he just didn't show well at all. We original thought he wouldn't do well with other canines, and small children were not his favorite.  
Turns out he just need a little time and rescue Schnauzer had to help him to overcome that silliness of acting like he didn't need or want any friends. I decided to pair the little Schnauzer and Rugby together, turns out that's what he needed, she just wouldn't give up. "You are going to like me!" Rugby finally gave in and he tolerated her at first then eventually they became friends. 
Rugby is a particular one, there was no rhyme or reason why he either liked or didn't like anyone or any other canine. He always had us guessing...Turns out he just need a little time and rescue Schnauzer had to help him to overcome that silliness of acting like he didn't need or want any friends. I decided to pair the little Schnauzer and Rugby together, turns out that's what he needed, she just wouldn't give up. "You are going to like me!" Rugby finally gave in and he tolerated her at first then eventually they became friends. 
Rugby is a particular one, there was no rhyme or reason why he either liked or didn't like anyone or any other canine. He always had us guessing...It was heartwarming to see how he reacted to the rest of the Whipple family today. You would have thought he knew them very well, and for Princess his new canine family member which happens to look exactly, and I mean exactly like Rugby. Not only did they look alike but their behavior is the exactly the same. The only difference is Princess is a little bigger in size, and Rugby acted as if he knew her too...amazing. 
I believe this is the family he was waiting for, he knew they were out there.
Thank you Inez for looking past his nonsense and seeing the goodness in his heart. Thank you for choosing to adopt!

The first few weeks were a little nerve wracking. Rugby was nervous and seemed scared every time Princess moved. Of course, Princess just wanted to play with him and couldn't understand all his growling and teeth baring. I kept them in separate rooms when we were away because I couldn't trust them together, but eventually, they warmed up and are really coming to be good friends. There's still some jostling for the position of dominance and I honestly can't say, at this point, who is gaining in that department, but life is relatively quiet and we have two beautiful dogs.

Yesterday, we got the new bed I had ordered for Rugby. It's a cave bed and I thought since he loves to tunnel into the covers, he would love this bed. So far, he's ignored it and resisted my attempts to get him to curl up inside, but Princess got it right away. While I was taking pictures of her, Rugby was busy keep watch outside on the balcony.

Now, here are the pictures:

Princess (AKA Pookums, Doggos)

Rugby (AKA Rugger bugger, Squirt)

I hope you enjoyed these as much as I enjoyed taking them. Hopefully soon, I'll get some pictures of the two of them together!

Update: 2/27/2016

This afternoon I found them lounging together in the sun on the balcony AND they let me take a picture! Actually, this morning they were laying side-by-side on the bed which is the closest I've ever seen them together :)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Nomads Go West: Part III

Leaving California

Black-necked Stilt and Gull at the Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR
With Tucson less than 500 miles away, we decided to make our first stop one of our favorite places, Indio, California and Shield's Date Garden. Man, that place gets more and more popular every time we stop, but they have absolutely fabulous fresh dates in almost a dozen varieties plus fresh and dried fruits. David loves him a date shake when we stop there and I always pick up some super soft Medjools for super raw desserts (process a few pitted dates with some pecans or walnuts and serve over fresh raw fruit or mix the dates, an avocado and cocoa for a smooth, creamy chocolate pudding. OK, so I never actually got to make any of those great raw desserts since we ate them all in just a few days!) Somehow we always come away refreshed and ready to roll on.

Instead of heading back to the I-10 super highway, we headed south along State Route 111 to the Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR for a little late year birding. We stopped at four different stops along 111. The first three yielded only Eared Grebes as additions to the year list, but after a 1/4 mile walk at the fourth spot we hit birdy pay dirt: Snowy Plover, Bonaparte's Gull, and Least Sandpiper. These put me at 262 species for the year...just 3 shy of beating the 2007 record and still 3 days left in the year.

Sandpiper sp. Western? Least?
A typical multi-species pond scene at the Salton Sea
We had to cut off one final stop at the refuge because we were just running out of time. It was almost 4 p.m. until we hit I-8 and around 5 until we got to Yuma. We stopped off for gas, a potty break and a snack in Yuma. Apparently, there's a new In-N-Out there which, except for some really fresh french fries, holds nothing for me, but Kara loves it and was missing it, so we stopped one last time. While she and David were ordering, I stayed in the car with the Princess. I still had half of a banana left and, opening the back door to sit with her, I offered her some of it. She took one sniff, lifted her head to smell the In-N-Out burgers through the open door, and threw that banana the most disgusted look! There was no way she was eating that while there were burgers around! Lucky her, David shared his with her.


It seemed to take forever to get to Tucson. I-8 seemed like such a mistake. We didn't get into town until almost 9 p.m., but little did we know that it was actually a very fortunate choice as there was a huge accident on I-10 above Casa Grande that had traffic backed up for hours almost into Phoenix, so yay for us! We headed directly for Yoshimatsu for some veg curry noodles and house ramen. They almost didn't serve us, but let us stay and I was so thankful they did. That warm, soupy noodles was just the thing I needed.

In Tucson, we stayed at the Windmill Suites at the corner of Campbell and River. What a wonderful place! The rooms were big, bright and beautiful. It was great having just that little suggestion of a kitchen to make it more homey. We also had access to washers and dryers so we got to freshen up our clothes. I'm sure our Tucson friends and family were thankful for that!

The next day, Sunday, I walked Sabino Canyon with some of my friends who I miss terribly. There was water under the bridges and we walked up to the 2 mile mark and turned around mainly due to the fact that everyone's stomach was growling. Of course, we went to the Eclectic Cafe. Oh yes! Beans and tortillas for breakfast - how I miss Tucson! It always feels like going home. After over two weeks on the road, it was good just to be able to want to go somewhere and NOT have to set the danged GPS!
There was water in Sabino Creek!

Sabino Canyon is always even lovelier with friends!
Sandra and Shoko were waaaayyyy ahead of us!

Jonas and I made it 2 miles up

Sunday afternoon and evening David and I spent with his mom (while Kara nursed a sinus infection that she caught from her sister). She made us rice and beans and taught me her secret recipe for Adobe salad dressing (yummers!). We also had chocolates and a fabulous cream cake that David's brother made (non-vegan I'm sure, but delicious anyway). We were so stuffed we couldn't move. While David visited his brother, I showed David's mom all our pictures from Puerto Rico earlier this year and then when he came back, David had a ball taking pictures on my iPhone of all his baby pictures (haha! Here's my revenge for all the space he used):

Our lil' Jibaro
Gotta love that little denim bell bottom jumpsuit! 

Not much has changed!

Monday we left the hotel early to chase down some birds Tucson-style. We headed straight for Tubac to find the Sinaloa Wren which would have been not only a year bird, but a lifer as well. We hiked in and then suck around for about an hour or so, but the bird was a no-show. We did see some other good birds while we were there: Chihuahuan Raven; Bewick's Wren; Bridled Titmouse; and Ladder-backed Woodpecker. Yes, those four put me over the top of my 2007 year bird list by 2 species. :) If only I had felt better to celebrate, but I thought I was starting to get Kat/Kara's sinus thing. I was sneezing like crazy and I felt like a well-wrung dishrag, so while David visiting more with his mom and brother, Kara and I took naps and ate some Ramen noodle soup that we made in the rice cooker. Wahhhhh! I didn't want to be sick :(


Cactus Wren
Gila woodpecker

Ladderback Woodpecker

Bewick's Wren (dang!) 
Hermit Thrush

Dark-eyed Juncos 

Our buddy, the Black Phoebe, waiting with us for the Sinoloa Wren
Amazing, on Tuesday, I woke up feeling like I was never sick which was a good thing because I had a long-anticipated run planned with my my friends. We had the walkingest run ever at Julington Creek trail with just one minor casualty. Our dear ever-competitive, Princess "I always have to be the leader" Whipple-Cheng pulled over to cut Todd off and get her leash wrapped around his legs tripping him to the ground resulting in a nasty case of road rash for Todd :( Still feeling bad about that one!

New Year's Eve Day "run" with a few friends
Todd had a run-in with Princess and end up falling for her. OUCH! 
Afterward, we headed over to Tania's Dos Mundos for some real tortillas!

New year's eve was quiet for us. we met our good friends Len and Carloyn at Guadalajara Grill at Mountain and Prince. I was really delighted to see their new vegan options! It was hard to choose, but I ended up having the Portobella Fiesta (Large portobello mushrooms stuffed with red bell peppers, zucchini, onions and diced tomatoes, served with black beans and white rice veracruzano). Len picked the serenade, the title of which escapes me know). We left early and headed back to the hotel before the roads got too crazy. Besides we had an early start the next day. Homeward bound...

Portobello Fiesta

Carolyn and Len enjoying the serenade