Sunday, April 28, 2019

Maggie Mae Has Something To Say

Maggie Mae here! I decided to help my owner and tell my story for her. It is not a long one because I am not quite 10 weeks old. When two humans, called Steve and DJ and their doodle came to my home, I knew that they were the ones for me. They each had soft voices and loving hands when they picked me up. Their dog, Davis, just let me nuzzle up to him and his tail was wagging as if he were so happy to have me giving him doggie kisses.

The drive to my forever home was exciting. Davis sat in the back seat while I was wrapped in my special blanket that Kim, my human Mom, aka breeder, gave to me. It smelled of all my litter mates and parents. I felt so safe in my new owner's lap.

Once we were at our home, I got to explore the outside and learned fast that this was the place that I need to take care of my business, if you know what I mean? They all 3 showed me these jingle bells hanging on the doors to ring and they said in a sing-song voice, "Time to go to the potty." I think I can remember that. Well, most of the time I have been able to. The good news is that my forever people seem to know that a puppy my age sleeps, plays, eats and drinks and poops and pees a lot!

Especially when I sneak amounts of water and food from my brother's tall water and food bowls. I have my own but his is so much better. At least it seems that way to me.

Steve and DJ are writers. When they are not busy taking Davis and me out (especially me) they are playing with us, although we do a pretty good job of that ourselves. We let them join in for the fun now and then.

Davis is like a giant play toy to me. He lets me jump over him and we share everything. He does seem to understand the golden rule that says what is mine is mine and what is his is mine. Our humans give us each an Oinksie or a bully stick and we are happy for a few moments, then it is time for me to go after what he has. Of course, that means that he will go over and get what I dropped out of my mouth to take his. We can go on for an hour like this. It is just so much fun!

We do eventually wear ourselves out and our humans also. Davis goes upstairs with Steve, to his office. I stay with DJ in her study. Usually, this is nap time for me. Some days, DJ likes to take a nap with me. There are days I just am not quite in the mood for a nap and I try to show her through doggie body language that a nap is not in the picture. I ask you, does this face tell the story that I am not in the mood for a nap?

Sometimes, I get this look back from DJ:

I do learn a lot from my big brother. I overheard DJ talking to Steve that Davis did not learn to jump up on the ottoman and then to the sofa for a couple of weeks after they brought him home. Plus he was older than I was when they did bring him home. All I do is watch him and follow his lead. When he is upstairs with Steve, I take his place on the back of the sofa. Just guarding the house and making sure that everything is okay!

He shows me how to sit, come, go home (to our crates) and that following those commands we get rewarded with little treats. They are especially worth listening to DJ and Steve. My favorite one is the little round sweet potato treat in the Doggie Trail Mix. We do everything together.

We get Steve and DJ up early and they are definitely getting lots of steps in on these little things on their wrists that they keep checking by taking us out all the time. Since 5:50 A.M. today, they have taken me outside 9 times and Davis out 4 times. It seems that if we go out together, Steve figured out that we distract each other. Maybe that will change when I get a bit older. 

Today, we finally crashed for our morning nap at about 8:30. My favorite spot is just to the left of DJ's study chair. That way, if she gets up for any reason, I will know it and be alerted to help her. That will in turn get Davis up to help us. We actually love helping her to write. I believe that we give her inspiration.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Davis Speaking Here!

Just so we have this clear, I am perfectly fine to write DJ's blog in my own voice. I believe that I have earned that right based on what my last week has been like. It has had ups and downs. Mostly ups. I just need to talk about it and share it with others.

Everything started when my Lola and Smiley started talking about getting me a sister or brother. I listened to them and I thought that maybe this would be a good thing. First of all, I know how much they love on me and I love them to the moon and back. And I thought to myself, what about another doodle in this family? How would that work? I believe that we all three have enough love in us to share it together.

On the positive side, I would have a sibling to play with, even when Lola and Smiley are all played out. Another positive note is that when they decided to go and check out the possibility, they went to where I was born at Goldendoodles by Kim's Design. Kim does know her stuff, so I was very happy to see her again. She took very good care of me while I was there before I found my forever home. Lola and Smiley were the ones that I chose to be with, even though one little sister kept butting in on my time with them while they were making their choice. Lucky for me, they picked me. I made very sure of that.

It has been wonderful ever since. A beautiful home, a special yard, lots of toys and special treats. I also have a vet, Dr. Taylor and her assistants, who love me madly. (saying this modestly, of course) Plus unbelievable fun in WGAC Doggie Day Care with Chris, Chaney, Michelle and Jessica. They encourage me to jump high toward them, plus as the weather gets warmer they put out my favorite thing in the whole world. Doggie swimming pools! I love this place. There is also a groomer, Amber, who takes good care of me and treats me with such care and respect. Only once did I come out looking more like a poodle than a doodle.  I forgave her. My Lola and Smiley did not make it clear to her what I liked to look like. She has more than made up for that one time. Nothing against poodles, it is just that I prefer to have more of the doodle look. Definitely it fits my personality. 

Now, let's move forward to going to Kim's kennel. Lola and Smiley took me with them. Imagine that? They took me to help in making the decision if there was a goldendoodle that would make a good little sister. I heard them talking that some owners thought that a sister may be better than a brother, simply based on the alpha male syndrome. (Whatever that is.)

Let me tell you something. This little sister seems to think that she is in charge. And, bless her heart, I just let her think that. I know that I am almost 60 pounds more than she is now. Probably will still be 20 pounds more when she is fully grown. So just let her believe her size matters. I can tell you that she is brutal. That is not being harsh. Just look at her pulling on my tail. 

This picture is when we went to pick up Maggie Mae. It had been only two weeks yet she seems to think that it is okay for her to come up to me and pull on my tail, which by the way is a very distinctive question mark shape. I just let her play. She runs all around my legs when I am standing and makes figure 8's. When we do rest, she loves to cuddle in to me and I must admit, this little sister is very loving and I will do my best to show her the way and teach her all the tricks of the trade. She is one smart little cookie and has already learned several in just a week.

I am truly happy being the big brother of a beautiful little sister. I know that she looks up to me. She follows me everywhere and although this can be annoying, it is a special compliment, also.

This was once only my roost. Just for me. Until:

One day while I was away at Doggie Day Care, Maggie Mae found my spot. Aggghhhh. I will learn to share. She is too cute not to share some. I really do love her. I feel like I need to show her the ropes. How to get to Lola and Smiley's hearts. This is important and vital information.

We do share. We share everything. I know exactly how much larger and stronger that I am than she is. I will admit that she is a bit rough on me though. Even when I am resting and not bothering her, she will come and try her best to rile me up. All in the name of puppy play.

Look at those eyes. I am totally taken my little sister. We play well together and when Lola and Smiley have to administer slurry meds to her for a parasite that was found, she does not like it. I just want to be there for her. She is not happy getting those meds, even though Lola and Smiley do it gently. 

When it is time to go out, and oh boy, does she need to go out to pee and poop a lot, I just wait patiently for her. On the other hand, she is such a little babe, that she does not wait as quietly as I do. She barks and howls for me because she misses me. I think that she will learn. I am her teacher. It is my job to show her the way.

She is in a loving home, with two owners who adore both of us and take good care of us and she has an awesome big brother who will never let her down. 

I am now signing off and handing over to Lola ( Back to my wonderful Lola who has the same hair color as Maggie Mae. (Who knew?)

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Puppy Love X Two

Just to let you know that for sure getting our new puppy, Maggie Mae, for a little sister to our 2 1/2 year old was the right decision. She has already made her way into all of our hearts. She is a roly poly bouncing little bundle of joy, not only to Steve and me, but to Davis. Plus, as you can see, she believes that she is a writer also. Her thought bubble is saying, "Just let me get my paws on that keyboard and I will have a best seller."

The day before we picked her up, Steve told me that he wanted to ask me a serious question. He asked if I truly thought that we were doing the right thing by Davis. He had been number one and here we were bringing in another puppy. With all that I had read, two doodles are supposedly better than one. They entertain each other and give you twice the laughter with their entertaining antics. We discussed that we would always be very aware of keeping Davis as the number one older brother and he would continue to get all the love that he needed. As you can see from the picture on the first day we were home, they were inseparable. Davis seemed to be very protective of his little sister and Maggie Mae followed him everywhere. 

We had Davis involved from the get go. He went with us to his birthplace and to see his breeder and all of her new pups. We had one out at a time to see if we witnessed any bonding whatsoever. Maggie Mae immediately responded with a wagging tail, as did Davis. They even nestled their heads together. That cinched the deal. We had to wait almost two weeks before she would be old enough to come home with us.

On this occasion we had time to prepare. We were so not prepared for Davis when we picked him up. We had to stop off with him at Hollywood Feed to get some of the necessities for having a puppy. Like a water and food dish, a collar, a leash, and some little treats. Our daughter happened to be in the general area and brought our granddaughter into the store to meet Davis. Bailey Grace picked out a toy for him and it remains his favorite toy. All we had was the blankie that Kim gave us which had his parents and siblings scent on it and a small bag of the food that she had been feeding him. Since we had decided to crate train him, we had to take a wild guess at what size to get. Luckily, we did guess the right size. 

Now we were able to go into Hollywood and pick out the things that we would be able to have in place for when we went back to pick up Maggie Mae. Again, for the crate size we had to guess. We went one size down due to the fact that she is female and based on her mother's size, only time will tell. One of Davis' sisters surpassed not only their mother's weight, but the father's weight as well. She is a whopping 95 pounds, without an ounce of it fat. Davis is just 65. Our hopes are that this new pup will stay in the 40ish range. 

We ordered the chew-proof crate bed pad that was the only crate bed pad that our chewing Davis has not torn to shreds in 2 years now. So we do have experience and we knew that we would be ready to handle this. The hard days are in the very beginning. Some sleep deprivation, going outside with her every hour or sometimes even half hour. They tend to train their owners on when to get them out. It is "Puppy Owner: Beware."

New items for Maggie Mae were put out slowly to let Davis adjust to it all. The time had finally come to drive down the road and pick up our new bundle of joy. She and Davis continued their bonding. He was down on the floor and just let Maggie play with his long curly tail.

The drive home with Davis was so different than the drive home with Davis and Maggie Mae. Davis was of course, the only pup in the car and he slept all the way on his blankie in my lap. Maggie Mae, on the other hand, used me as a mountain to try to climb over to get to the back seat to see Davis. She really gave my arms a work out. Such an inquisitive little girl. Given her age, she did take a break and rest on the hour drive home ever so often.

She has only been with us starting on Day 4 and even through some trying times that we never expected, we know that we made the right decision. When you bring a puppy home, hopefully you know there will be some accidents now and then until totally house-trained. We were prepared. Trying to be vigilant on the timing to take her out, we avoided many accidents. After one night she slept through the night. In fact, Steve woke up at 5:30 to check on her. She had not had an accident and only woke when she saw and heard him. Smart man that he is...he got her out, along with Davis. Finally, the rain was not coming down in buckets like it was most of yesterday. 

Today, we can have a sense of humor about the major accident that took place yesterday. I will start just by saying that we RARELY take our eyes off Maggie and she is where we are. Somehow at one point she went into the kitchen and did a little puppy poo right at the gate that leads outside. Steve went up to do his workout time and passed by on the other side of the gate, never seeing it. I took advantage of no one in the kitchen and switched on our Roomba vacuum and kept the puppys with me in the Study. 

Steve came down and called me in while telling me that we had a problem. A problem!?!? We had poop tracked all over the floor. It was one of those moments that happen, and your mind is racing, what do you do first? 

  • get dogs out of the area and safely crated 
  • turn off the Roomba
  • go out to get the Swifter wet mop with throw away cleanser pads
  • in fact, get two boxes of them
  • pick up the Roomba and turn it over to check it out
  • wonder to yourself, "How in the hell will all of that poop clean off
  • roll up your sleeves and get to work
  • clean the floor first (and it did take two boxes)
  • take one last mop around all of the places that Roomba could get to until I had a clean throw away pad and I then walked behind the mop skating on two tea towels
  • start by wiping what I could off the bottom of the machine
  • work on taking apart the brush guard, brush mechanisms, and the front wheel and running water over them and spraying and wiping disinfectanting everything
  • having Steve take care of keeping the dogs was a huge help and he came in to take care of holding the bag to drop in all of the dirty paper towels and getting them out to the trash bin
Next step was to take the Roomba out to a neutral location to dry out. I would deal with trying to put it all back together tomorrow. 

The good news of this day was that our precious puppy rewarded us by sleeping through the night with no bathroom incidents. For now, our fingers are crossed that the Roomba, after me piecing all the parts back into their locations, will charge and work.

The deal is that we must remember those first few weeks of having Davis and to remain patient and keep our sense of humor. Really? Think about it...puppy poo and a Roomba. I am sure it is not the first time this has happened. We are just hoping that it will never occur again in this household.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

To Instant Pot or Not, That Is the Question

 Want to get a hot debate going? Ask people how they feel about the Instant Pot. Most are not ambiguous about their feelings. It is either, "Yeah, this is the best thing since sliced bread," or "What's the deal?"

As many people did, they heard about the wonders of the Instant Pot and after a while you start to question why in the world don't I own one? That was me. Basically, which is really not like me, I did not do much research. Just put it on my Christmas wish list.

Sure enough. There it was for me to open on Christmas Day. After the holidays were over and we were sorting our gifts, I sat down and took the time to read about my wonderful Instant Pot that was going to put dinner on the table in record time. The more that I read, the more fearful that I became of using it.

One of the papers that came with it was neon yellow so that the potential user would not miss it. It read like this:

Please pay attention to all WARNING LABELS before removing them from the pressure cooker. Read IMPORTANT SAFEGUARDS in the manual before using the pressure cooker. DO NOT place hands, face or unprotected skin over the steam release handle while cooker is in operation. DO NO force the lip open when the float valve is still up.

Now, I feel like I an a half-way intelligent human being, it is now time for me to go to the User Manual and find the illustrations that will tell me what and where the steam release handle is and also what the hell is a float valve? 

Found it, only after reading 4 more pages about the safeguards in more detail, plus an overview of how to install the "anti-block shield." This was like a whole new language of how to cook for me. As I looked over the picture of the Control Panel and all of the cooking program keys I was even more confused. "Have patience," is what I continued to tell myself.

It was not until page 15 that the manual talked about positioning the steam release handle to Sealing, as well as talking about using a natural release or a quick release. Let me add that on this page there is a picture of a man leaning over the cooker to try to find the dang steam release button and his face his beet red. There is a box on this picture with a red line drawn through it and a hand held up to indicate STOP. Also, it states that the quick release valve should always be closely attended.

I continued to read and continued to become more and more aggravated with myself for jumping on the bandwagon of wanting one of these small appliances. I found a place in the cupboard to store it until...Really, I was not sure when it would get used. At least it was out of sight for now. I am one that does not like a lot of clutter on the counter tops. Only what is necessary and used daily. The Instant Pot did not fit in this category. 

It was closely thereafter that I decided to try the Low-Carb/High Fat Program and as I started looking on line I was finding lots of recipes and many of them were for the Instant Pot. The ones that appealed to me and my husband were placed in a folder labeled Instant Pot Recipes. 

Finally, in April I came across a recipe that was a Cajun Gumbo, one of my husband's favorites. It was low carb. PERFECT. It looked easy enough. We had all of the ingredients. It stated Prep Time 15 minutes, Cook Time 10 minutes for a Total Time of 25 minutes. A serving was 340 calories and it had a total of 8.5 net carbs.

We followed the recipe to the letter. Aha! After the 10 minutes is up, the cooker goes automatically to Keep Warm. Then the recipe said to manually release the pressure by turning the release knob to its venting position.  When finished we were to uncover and transfer the chicken to a large plate and shred the meat using 2 forks, then add back into the pot and let the meat soak up all of the sauce. If we wanted it thicker, we were to press saute for 5 - 10 minutes. The venting went on for 20 more minutes. 

Because of the fact that there was not much sauce to thicken we opted to not saute. However, the chicken did not shred. It was most definitely cooked but the texture was not one that was going to be shredded. Get a knife and cut it. It was like rubber. The andouille sausage was not much better. 

Bless Steve's heart, he ate it. I told him that he did not have to. I would make him a piece of zero carb bread toast to spread peanut butter on if he so desired, but he remained a trooper. 

Just for the heck of it, I put on my FaceBook page all of my frustrations with the Instant Pot and our meal. I had no idea that I would get so many comments. It pretty much came out 50/50. Fifty percent said they had one too and were terrified of it and had not used it yet or did not even go buy one. While the other fifty percent could have been in the sales department for the company. It was entertaining. Others told me that I needed to give it time and get used to it. If I spend time cooking, then I want to be able to eat the results. The texture of what I cooked was not edible in my opinion.

So I researched some and I found out some interesting facts. Things that no one, much less the manual tells you. 
  • You must cook the meat longer than it tells you to or else the meat will turn out tough. In fact, one article said to double the time at the minimum.
  • Let it depressurize itself.
  • You need liquid, no matter what the recipe says. You can always use the saute button.
  • This is not the same as steaming your food. (Although, for me, this is what it tasted like.)
  • Never put milk or dairy products in because they will curdle. hmmmmm
Then I found a section on the pros and cons of using the Instant Pot.

PROS                                          CONS

saves you time, apparently     bubble buster: you will
is like a slow cooker on           not have dinner on the
steroids                                 table in 10 minutes

you can put frozen meat         using the microwave
straight in the Instant Pot       will work, just a few
                                            more minutes
you can make hard boiled       the pan or oven is so 
eggs in it                               easy to use instead 

There were many, many more. Why would I want to get my step stool out to drag out the Instant Pot to cook hard boiled eggs when I cook them so easily in the oven and the shells peel off like magic? 

In conclusion, we each have to cook the way that we are most comfortable with. My husband and I love to cook and love to try new recipes out. And, many we are walking into blindly, such as the tried and failed attempt at the Instant Pot. We know that we have great cookware and plan our meals to suit the time that we have available to cook.

The Instant Pot will be boxed up just in case our daughter or daughter in law needs to replace theirs. Or else, eventually it will go to Goodwill or a yard sale. Maybe, I am not being fair by not giving it another chance, but I know what we are comfortable with and the fact that we love to try new recipes. We will just keep on keeping on...