They like me, they really, really like me!

Let me begin (with a shout out to Sally Fields for the intro) by offering abject apologies for my delayed response to a series of wonderful blogging awards that have been bestowed upon me of late.  The tardiness of my response is by no means a measure of my gratitude, but rather a reflection of the fear that I will not be able to adequately fulfill the mandates of accepting said awards.  And now, with that disclaimer issued, I will get to the meat of the matter…

In order to accept the “Very Inspiring Blogger Award,” I must do the following:

Link back to the person who nominated you:

Thank you very much for deeming me worthy of this award, Maureen @  Magnolia Beginnings is itself a wonderfully inspiring little corner of the web, and if you haven’t had occasion to mosy on by and check it out yet, I would strongly encourage you to rectify that immediately.  Ya never know what little insight or spiritual boost you’ll come away with!

Post the award image to your page: Check!

Tell seven facts about yourself: Wow, this is tough (these sorts of lists are one of the primary reasons I’ve been procrastinating about my ‘acceptance speech’). That said, here goes….

  1.  In high school, I was an active member of the Latin Club.  My teacher was beyond amazing and was always coming up with inventive methods for stimulating our minds and making learning more interesting.  To wit: one of the coolest projects we ever did was translate instructions on the mummification process and then carry them out on a cornish game hen.  Girlfriend was tough as an old leather shoe by the time we were done with her, that’s all I’m sayin’, and she was most *definitely* not deteriorating….At the end of the exercise, she even had a custom made sarcophagus…
  2. For my 16th birthday, my parents gave me a cherry red 1966 Mustang convertible.  (One of the perks of being a Ford dealer’s daughter, thank you very much!)
  3. I have always loved languages and have been blessed with a certain facility for same–as a kid, my heart’s desire was to be a translator at the U.N.  (a desire viewed as decidedly bizarre by many  inhabitants of the little Midwestern farming community where I grew up).
  4. I graduated in the top 2% of my undergraduate class at the University of Illinois and have my name engraved on a bronze tablet in the library. (Yikes, I’m sounding increasingly nerdy here, aren’t I?!)
  5. I LOVE to travel.
  6. I’ve been to Tasmania and seen those little devils with my own eyes (no, they are not just cartoon characters :-))
  7. I love working out and feel odd if I don’t head for the gym each morning.

Nominate 10 other blogs (I”m sorry, but this is where I fall down.  Having excluded several of my absolute, ‘go-to’ blogs because they’ve already been honored with many awards (‘Waiting for the Karma Truck‘; “Lead.Learn.Live“; and “Help Me Rhonda“, I have 7 others that I’d like to highlight. N.B.: I know that some bloggers don’t ‘go in’ for the awards process.  If I have unwittingly gone against your wishes for recognition with awards such as these, my apologies in advance!!  Please feel free to disregard this award if it’s just “not your thing.”)

  • Charming Trinity: I adore the simplicity of this blog–each post features a triptych of photos based on a certain theme.  I look forward to seeing what Daniela has posted each morning!
  • Photo Botos: This blog boasts that it supplies viewers with “one spectacular image every day and the story behind it.”  ‘Nuf said.
  • The Book of Alice: Christine may well have the coolest Kidling on the planet–at the very least Alice is one of the most precocious I’ve encountered.  You *never* know what is going to come out of this child’s mouth, but thankfully The Mama is there to capture it for us.
  • Anake Goodall:Anake delivers a constantly inventive and provocative stream of images and videos.  I am always delighted when I see a post from him in my in-box.
  • Only Here Only Now: I’ve only recently begun following Tom’s blog, but it is AMAZING.  You owe it to yourself to stop by….
  • Jane Balshaw: This blog was recently started by an incredibly talented friend–Jane is a textile artist, an aesthetician, and a *wise soul.*  She has just begun her blogging journey, but I know it’s going to be a rich one….
  • Simon Marsh: Simon is an Anglican priest from England and, as they say at home, “a real piece of bread.”  He’s kind and warm and wise and I always feel uplifted after reading one of his posts.

Let them know they are nominated:  Will take care of this momentarily!

Link back to the person who nominated you:

I was recently nominated for the “One Lovely Blog Award” by David Kanigan of “Lead.Learn.Live.” David’s was the first blog I followed when I entered this amazing world, and I continue to be startled by his ingenuity, insight and instinctive ability to post something incredibly helpful, heartening or humorous at *just* the moment it’s needed.  If you are one of the lonely few who hasn’t discovered David’s little corner of the world, DO NOT wait any longer.  You owe it to yourself.

Post the award image to your page. Done.  🙂

Tell seven facts about yourself:

  1. I can make a chocolate bar last for weeks–I like to eat one square at a time.
  2. I do “Jacob’s Ladder” for an hour at a time at the gym.  (cf. #7 above–it’s a bizarre quirk, but there are worse addictions, right?  😉 )
  3. I’ve been all over the world, from Turkey to Tasmania, Spain to South Africa, and I’ve never visited the Grand Canyon. 😦
  4. I’m totally addicted to detective shows–‘Burn Notice,’ ‘Covert Affairs,’ ‘NCIS,’ ‘The Closer,’ ‘Major Crimes,’ — can’t get enough of them.
  5. I’m a voracious reader and especially love books that force me to consult a dictionary at least once every couple of chapters. (As fate would have it, my dear friend Mimi, the gal drivin’ the Karma Truck, recently nominated me for “The {Booker} Award.”  I’ll be fulfilling the obligations of that honor in a future post.)
  6. I adore dogs and love reading about different breeds, their special traits, their genetic background, etc.
  7. For many years, I’ve owned big dogs–German Shepherds, Dobes, Labs–but I’m afraid of cats.

Nominate 10 other blogs

I’m afraid that I don’t have another 10 blogs to nominate–I just don’t follow that many, and I’ve already tipped you off to most of the ones that I *do* keep track of.  That said, here are several that I’d like to recognize.  As I said above, should I have unwittingly gone against your wishes for recognition with awards such as these, my apologies and please feel free to disregard the notice.:

  • Momentum of Joy: Joanna is an amazing, warm, inspiring individual and a lovely blogger indeed….
  • Kizzylee: Kizzylee’s blog is so refreshing–always heartfelt.
  • Analyfe: Erin is a delightful young woman–intelligent, insightful and wise beyond her years.

Let them know they are nominated:  Will do!

Thank you again, Maureen & David, for acknowledging my blog in this kind way and THANK YOU ALL  for allowing me into your lives through this forum–it is truly a privilege….

The joy of ‘woofs’ in your workplace…

“Scratch a dog and you’ll find a permanent job.” 

-Franklin P. Jones

First off, full disclosure.  I work out of my home, so I’m spoiled.  I have Bug and Beau with me every day…and I love it.  If I’m having an ‘off’ day, there’s nothing like a good work break cuddle with my crew to remind me of what’s really important.  When I’m lonely, the gentle whistle and buzz of Miss Thing’s snores (which she would vehemently deny exist, I might add) remind me that I’m not alone.  When writer’s block sets in and my muse, like Elvis, has officially ‘left the building,’ a quick stroll around the neighborhood with the Bug or a raucous game of ball with the Beau man can be just the break I need to get my creative juices flowing once more.

I also experienced the joy and stress relief that dogs can bring to the workplace in my previous life as an employee at Harvard Business Publishing.  We were allowed to bring our dogs to work, provided they were well-behaved, and I have to tell you it really made a difference in the overall feel of the place.  You come to know your co-workers in a new way when, for example, your cube mate’s 140 lb. English Mastiff begins to {ahem} experience the after effects of a treat gone bad. (Yes, the scent is heavier than air….) Or you hear a noise in your cubicle and turn around to discover a distinguished colleague on all fours playing hide-n-seek with your 90 lb. male Dobe.

I was reminded of how lucky I am to share my workplace with my furry crew just yesterday, when NPR weighed in with a story on how ‘punching in with Fido’ can go a long way towards pushing the happiness and productivity meter up at the office.  Let’s face it–it’s hard to be grumpy when the soundtrack to your workday is the soft thwack of a tail on the floor, gentle snoring, or the occasional yip of a dreaming dog.  It doesn’t get much better than that….

Cool items for your pet!

I don’t know about you, but I am always on the prowl for cool new toys, pet accessories, puppy ‘bling,’ in short anything that’s going to keep my crew happy, healthy, safe and sassy!  🙂

My friend Kathy recently alerted me to a great new ID tag for dogs from a little company called Boomerang Pet Tags.  Kath purchased the stainless ‘Collar Tags‘ for her active Lab crew, and I can certainly see why.  They look extremely well built, lay flat on the collar so you don’t have to worry about them catching on anything, and are guaranteed to remain legible for the life of the pet!

The Nite Ize Spotlit is a *great* device for keeping track of your dog in the dark!

Here at Chez Feinberg, we have two very dark dogs, so it’s easy to lose track of them at night when they head out for that last of the night piddle.  To keep track of our little band, we’ve outfitted them with blinking beacons from a neat little Company called NiteIze that makes a product called ‘Spotlit.’  This small device attaches to their collars and will either blink intermittently or emit a solid, beam of light so you always know where they are.

Another device that I like very much for Beau is a piece of grooming equipment called the Zoom Groom.  This handy device is*great* for pulling out dead hair and stimulating oil production in a dog’s coat.  It also seems to give the dog a little massage as you use it–my Dobes always loved being brushed with this device and Beau likes it too.

Lastly, with black fly and mosquito season on the way, I wanted to share a great locally made product that’s perfect for us when spending time outdoors with our four-legged friends.  It’s called “Bug Off Insect Repellant” and it comes from Jenness Farm in Nottingham, NH.  This stuff is ALL NATURAL, which I love (just hate fumigating myself with DEET) and it really works!  It also smells wonderful, which is an added bonus.  (And even though it’s ‘off-label,’ I’ve also been known to give the dogs a spritz before heading out for an evening walk.  It seems to give them relief as well, and to date I’ve seen no negative side effects.  I *am* careful to avoid their heads–just spritz their backs and bums….

Any great finds you’d like to share?  Would love to hear about them!!

Scary smart

Our star student

“This dog is SCARY SMART!” announced our trainer at the outset of this week’s obedience class.  “You guys just need to focus on channeling this energy and intelligence in the service of good.”  Understood, Obi-Wan Kenobi. 😉

The thing is, she’s right.  Beau is smart as a whip and catches on to new concepts in NO time.  He frequently ends up being the class ‘demo dog’, which is both a good thing and a bad thing–good because he gets whatever new concept the teacher is introducing in mere minutes, but bad because he’s usually selected because he’s exhibiting a behavior that we’re trying to {ahem} modify.

This week was a case in point.  Our little Beau Man is a lover par excellence.  He’s also nurturing a burgeoning talent as a puller and a jumper.  His jumping is impressive.  I’m not talking a few bunny hops around the arena, I’m talking a “full-on, body tackle, Oh my God I’m so glad to see you that I’m going to jump up and tell you so *eye-to-eye*!” jumper.  🙂

And the pulling, well, this is a newer issue.  He does quite well walking on a loose lead when it’s just the two of us cruising around the neighborhood.  But let us get to the obedience facility where there are SO many dogs and people to greet and, well, imagine a smallish woman waterskiing behind a 60-pound Lab and you’ll have just about the right visual. I’m quite keen on curtailing both of these behaviors, but especially the pulling, as I LOVE to go out for a nice walk with the dog, and it is NO fun if you’re being pulled from pillar to post.  Believe me, I know–I’ve been through this before.

My Chancellor Man

Chance, my first Doberman (may he rest in peace), was a prodigious puller in his youth.  Once, when taking him for a walk, he spied a baby rabbit in the yard and took off in hot pursuit.  I was bound and determined to hang on, as I knew the little rabbit didn’t have a prayer if Chance got loose, and hang on I did.  All the way through the front yard and around the house to the back.  Throughout the course of this “adventure” I mumbled a silent prayer that none of my neighbors happened to be looking out their windows, and when I finally managed to get back on my feet, I was sporting a grass stain that stretched from my bum to my shoulder blades.  But the bunny was safe and I still had the lead in my hands.  But I digress….

And “What of Miss Thing?,” you ask?  Not to be outdone, Lola Bug has begun showing Beau her “obedience chops” anytime she sees the bag of string cheese and poached chicken emerge from the fridge.  While Beau is working to execute the down stay that’s just been requested, Bug has already dropped to the floor (from 2″ above  it) and is eagerly imploring me to hand over the goods.  Or running a circle around Beau and quickly skidding to a sit.  Or rolling over or executing a pirouette while batting her lashes at me alluringly.  As her idol, Mae West, once remarked, “I’m a woman of very few words, but lots of action.”

Dogs–ya gotta love ’em…..

Making their debut

Hello and welcome to my blog, “Donna & Diablo,” a daily chronicle of life with my canine companions. Before going much further, allow me to introduce you to the stars of our show:

LOLA, a.k.a. Miss Thing, Bug, Bugga, the Buggster and, on occasion, Donna.

Lola is a three-year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  She’s a diminutive 12 lbs., but in her mind’s eye she’s a Doberman.

Lola with her Doberman buddy Chance, may he rest in peace....

Now don’t get me wrong, Lola is a sweetheart–quite simply the easiest dog I have ever owned (and I’ve owned quite a few–including three Dobermans who are also incredibly sweet animals).

She’s sweet, funny, flexible, EXTREMELY tolerant and, unlike her mother, not the least bit neurotic.   😉  She loves everyone she meets ,and I daresay most love her back.

She is my snuggler, travel partner and steadfast companion.  Wherever I am, Lola’s not far, indeed oftentimes no farther than my lap.  Cavaliers were originally bred  in the 16th century to warm the laps of well-to-do women, and it’s a duty they take very seriously.

Lola lives a rather charmed life, which led to her being dubbed ‘Donna,’ as in Prima Donna.  While she would argue vociferously that this is NOT true, I must confess her nose gets a bit {ahem} “out of joint” if her schedule is disrupted.  Ahhhh, disruption, a perfect segue for introducing the man of the house: BEAU.

BEAU, a.k.a. The Beaumeister, Bubba, Mr. Man, Handsome Boy and, not infrequently, El Diablo.

Beau is a six-month old Labrador Retriever, and he is a 51 lb. (and growing, seemingly by the hour) happy, funny, rambunctious, goofy, TOTALLY food-motivated bundle of joy.
I have always heard that retrievers were incredibly oral dogs, and I get that.  Their mouths are their main business tool.  Bred to “hunt waterfowl or upland game for long hours under difficult conditions,” these dogs are serious about having something close at hand to mouth or chew at all times.  And right now, while he’s teething, Beau is NOT picky about what that chew toy is.  Recent items extracted from his mouth include a kitchen towel, a magazine, a book, a sports bra, a stick, Dad’s smart phone, a rock, a piece of mortar, Dad’s wallet, a bar of soap, and Lola.

Another thing about Beau–he’s wicked smart.  Among his current repertoire of tricks–bringing us his food bowl when he wants a meal, bringing us his water bowl when he needs a refill, banging the Venetian blind when he needs to go out, (and opening the door if we don’t get there fast enough to suit him).

Beau is a born comedian.  He loves to play (he and Dad have particularly great games of chase and keep away) that leave them both spent.

Beau & Dad share an afternoon snooze.

As charming as he is, though, Beau also has his moments when his alter ego, El Diablo, appears.  Not as in a nasty, aggressive ‘Diablo,’ but rather as in a “Why you little devil, when I get ahold of you I’m gonna…..”   You get the idea.

This is their story, and mine.  We hope you’ll join us now and again.