Moving!

Hey All!

I’m excited to announce the start-up of my new site, thanks to Eric!

Eric has bought me a dot com address, and the blog will be moving to:

WhenNorthIsSouth.COM

I appreciate all of the readers that I have gained already and value all of the comments and opinions of my posts. I hope that all of you will continue reading and keep in touch on my latest adventures!

Please visit: http://www.whennorthissouth.com to read all of my latest posts and subscribe to my (newly) official blog.

Thank you all for all of your support, and look forward to conversing with you on the new site!

 

Cheers and Fluff!
Xo Anna

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Where I wanted to go.

Home. Home is where I wanted to go.  I may be well on my way into growing up and starting a new life on my own, but I sometimes feel like I am still in the  mindset of my undergraduate college years. Without fail, when something particularly bad happens, I want to go home. Home is an interesting word. Can a person truly have more than one home? In the “house” sense I suppose, but home naturally has such a rooted meaning; it is where one grows up and starts embedding their roots into the world around them.

Home [hohm] :noun
1. a house, apartment, or other shelter that is the usual residence of a person, family, or household.
2.the place in which one’s domestic affections are centered.
3.the dwelling place or retreat of an animal.
4. the place or region where something is native or most common.

Boca Grande, FL

The third definition caught my eye. Retreat of an animal.  If I want to “get away from it all,” I retreat, and go home. “LUNA! We’re headin’ home!!” …Maybe we’re not as grown-up and off on our own as we may have thought! It seems whenever a three day weekend presents itself, or a weekend that is not completely homework laden, we go home. I think that as of my past year, the one love (besides Eric of course) that has kept me from returning home, is Luna. Every day that I left for a week to visit my mom in celebration of her Birthday this summer,r Luna was sick. She has unpronounced diarrhea, her eating habits changed, and (according to Eric) she was always looking out of the one large window my 500 sq ft apartment had to offer. Who would want to leave such a bundle of fluff?

It’s all about that darn nesting effect! You can only fly so far away from the nest before you must fly back again sooner than later…just to make sure the nest is still there and to snag some home-cooked meals while back of course.Nothing can compare to my mama’s cooking. There’s just something about going home and eating one of your favorite meals that has been cooked with love and cherished throughout your childhood. For me, it’s my mama’s Cold-Clearing Chicken Noodle Soup.

When I’m sick, the first thing I want is my mama’s famous Chicken Noodle Soup. I can attest from the multitude of times it has helped me get up and running from a cold that it simply must have magical properties. No need for Campbell’s with this recipe in your kitchen!

Here is the recipe, from my mama’s home to yours:

1 large container of Swanson or College Inn chicken broth (low sodium of course).

Boneless chicken breasts pack of 4-8 depending on how much chicken you want, I usually use 8.  Remove grissle and fat. (Keeps you from picking out bones.)

1 package parsnips (scraped and cleaned then sliced/cubed.) (these have all the good vitamins in them, yum!)

1 package carrots (prepare same as parsnips)

1 package leaks (rinse well (they grow in sand)  and cut one of them as they usually come 2 tied together, cut some of the green and then down to the base).

1 pack celery, cleaned and cubed.

Add a little garlic bottled fresh, pepper corns, and a few bay leaves.

Put chicken in broth with 2 cups of water  in a large pot and “simmer” never boil, for about 1 hour to start cooking chicken breasts.  Then put in the rest of the ingredients and simmer again for bout 2-3 hours until chicken falls apart.  Remove chicken, cut in pieces, and return to soup and you will have yummy chicken soup for a week!!  Make noodles on the side if you want….good with brown rice too!!

Manasota Beach, FL

One of the things I miss the most is the added comfort and convenience of being back home. Home entails nothing surprising, and that’s a nice feeling. When everything in your life starts to get in disarray, home is how it has and always will be, a place of refuge and guidance. What I miss most about Florida in particularly (since now home is indeed too far for a quick drive to!) next to my mother and the two fluffs of her own, are the beaches. Columbia is without a doubt the Gainesville of South Carolina. One our away from the beaches on the Atlantic, and two hours away from the mountains (hey, it’s the closest adventure-filled trip to Disney World we’ve got!) Not to mention that Columbia is technically a college town to boot.

Summer may be the hardest time when adjusting to the “real world.” Oh Undergrad summers, when working was done part-time, if at all, and tanning happened 4-5 times a week. When the beach was a short run (yes, running to the beach I surely miss.) Did you know that the last beach to allow alcohol in South Carolina just recently made it prohibited? Indian givers! A friend of a coworker of mine received a $140 fine from having a six-pack (and not the Brad Pitt Kind) on the beach. Now that is an expensive case of beer!

Growing up in Florida, summer is directly equated with the beach. I wonder what summer equates with for anyone that’s not from the Sunshine State? Summer is idealized as freedom to many. Time to rest up and enjoy some play time before the upcoming semester! About that party in Miami…

But I? Full-time job, what seems like a million miles away from the beach, and medical issues rounding the bend. It’s hard being a grown up sometimes, when home is no longer a short couple hours, but rather state’s away.

Summer comes in many forms. What does it mean for you?

“Au milieu de l’hiver, j’apprenais enfin qu’il y avait en moi un été invincible.”



What Sharp Teeth You Have!

Teething. It can already be a nightmare for babies, let alone pups with almost knife sharp incisors! Key words here are acceptable items.  Luna tended to get this term confused, and thought it meant she was able to chew on anything her mouth could get a hold of. And add in another puppy just getting into the teething stage? Dun Dun Dun! Destructo Duo! Training, initiated.

Riku and Luna love peanut butter.

Puppies begin teething at the age of 12 weeks old when their teeth begin to grow in. When the new teeth are putting pressure on a puppy’s gums, chewing is a natural reaction. You did it at some point also! We just don’t remember it.  I’ve heard of babies that start gnawing on their crib, leaving forever teeth marks ingrained in the wood. Babies or puppies’, growing in the chompers is a fact of life.

If you don’t provide a chew toy, your puppy will look for something else to chew, including furniture, shoes and other things you value. Luna just loved Eric’s insoles. Maybe our little girl has a foot fetish? Puppies and shoes seem to be a common understanding, leave your shoes out and you’ll find they’ve been torn amuck! We started hiding them behind the couch, and she still found where they were, the smartie! “Daddy can’t hide these gems from me, wahaha!” So we made an investment. Eric and I are both organizational minded individuals, so it was an investment we’ve wanted to make for quite some time anyhow.

We bought a shoe rack. And do you know what Luna still did? She knew exactly which shoes out of the 12 on the rack contained his one pair of insoles, would pluck the shoe right off the rack (and they even faced backwards so the insoles could not be seen!) and take for her capture the insole! All the while leaving the shoe intact. It must have been the texture, the rubber of the Dr. Scholl’s massaged and soothed her tender gums. The lesson here is to take the knowledge that your puppy gives you and use it to find him or her an appropriate toy that parallels the item they go after to teethe.

Riku with his Peanut Butter Hoof.

I subscribe to a couple dog-centered magazines, such as Dogs USA, and have read countless articles on teething both in the magazines I subscribe to as well as in training books and online. (One more hint to do your research before adopting a puppy J ) Many people have the issue that their puppy will chew anything it gets its mouth on. Well, of course! They can’t differentiate what is “ours” and what is a toy. That must be taught. Don’t scold the puppy for doing what they would do instinctually and naturally, rather partake in positive reinforcement methods and get the puppy some chew-acceptable items to gnaw on.

If you own a larger breed puppy, or a wolf dog like Luna, it’s hard to find something that they won’t demolish in a matter of hours. There are toys that claim right on the package, that are designated for “teething,” to “last a month!” Well, this company must have tested it on a Toy Dog Breed, as Luna’s sharp teeth demolish a large, supposedly one-month investment sized bone in a matter of two hours! Why spend over $10.00 on a chew toy that is only going to have a lifespan of a mere couple hours, right? Not to fear! There are numerous inexpensive tricksto help your puppy through the teething stage.

There are five tricks I suggest when it comes to training, and together they will provide your puppy with a new HABIT.

H. Hoof– This is the brightest gem of them all! They LOVE them! Luna’s trainer (and Riku’s mom!) handed us this idea that we use on a weekly basis. They love cow hoofs. Rawhide is a big No-No when it comes to something to chew on. A larger breed puppy or dog can chew it into tiny pieces that splinter and get caught in their intestine, puncturing and rupturing the intestine that is fatal. Since this does happen more than one might think, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. But if not rawhide, is there another cheap option? Hooves are where it’s at! Since Luna loves peanut  butter, (as most dogs do!) we simply put peanut butter in the hoof and freeze it. It will take a while for her to get through the hoof, weeks actually, and will provide a cool, soothing effect for her gums. At $1.00 a hoof, it’s a definite WIN!
You can see the pups in action and can tell how much they love their hoof in my video HERE. 🙂

A. Antler- These are perfect. They can be quite pricey but last forever. Luna still has her large one we bought four months ago! They are safe, and have a texture of their own naturally that puppies love to chew on. What’s even better is that they are yet another 100% way to calm your puppies gums.  As shown in the picture, you can buy ones that are quite large for larger breed puppies. Luna still loves hers to this day, and brings it with her into her crate each and every night to chew on.

B. Bone- To recapitulate, I never suggest using rawhide, Rather there are natural bones with flavoring on them that Luna loves. We buy her the biggest one possible and she’ll have it for about two weeks, and they are only about $8.00 a piece! The coating breaks apart however, so I suggest them for an outside chew toy.

I. Ice- Easiest and cheapest teething remedy you may find! How expensive are ice trays and water? They go crazy for them! Kong just recently put out a toy that is just this, but why pay for what is essentially an ice cube tray and flavorings to freeze? You can simply fill the ice trays with your own flavor, such as chicken or beef broth, and freeze them for a delectable teething treat. The ice helps to numb their gums for the time being, and is crunchy fun to-boot!

T. Teething Toys- Like I said, there are other less expensive options than buying toys geared for teething puppies. But some can be quite fun for the pups! Given the option of all five HABIT’s, Luna will always pick an actual chew toy last, but every so often she does enjoy playing with them, preferably ones with various textures and strings.

There are many ways to help your puppy through their tormenting teething stage, but with these simple tricks I have learned along the way, it doesn’t have to be such a nightmarish experience as described by many, and your shoes can be saved!

“Love is represented by a rose not only because of it’s eternal beauty,
but also because of it’s destructive thorns.”

Veels Geluk met jou verjaarsdaq!

What the f*ck, right? It’s a greeting in Ghana said to a birthday celebrant. Say it to the celebrant at the next birthday party you attend, you’ll be just oh-so-worldly!

More people have their birthdays in August than any other month (Holllaaaa to my peridot peeps!) A total of 6% of the population has their birth date in the month of August.  Over 18 million people share my actual birth day. And we are told that we’re supposed to be “unique?!”

Have you ever looked up celebrities or famous individuals in history that share your same birth date? There’s an interesting site called Celebrity Cafe if you ever care to check it out. I found four individuals of interest.
1. Anna of Bradenburg, Queen of Denmark (1487)
2. Tom Ford, Fashion Designer
3. Anne Marie of Orleans, Queen of Italy (1669)
4. Lyndon B. Johnson, 6th US President.

I know. Two queens, both with my name within theirs?! Coincidence? I think not. No wonder why Eric treats me like such 😉

My birthday is exactly one month away. I will be turning 22 years old. Not as momentous as the raging 21! …Does this mean I should drink even more since I’ll have aged more? “Bartender, pour me another, I’m 22 after all, goddammit!” This upcoming birthday feels like my 20th birthday…not that significant. A 21st birthday is full of fun, surprises, and legality. It’s all about the alcohol, babay! This birthday?? All I want is some peace of mind and homework to not be assigned for the first week of class. Not too much to ask! Not only does my birthday fall within the first week of class, but a Monday none the less! I can already foresee Tuesday being blurry…

31,536,000. The number of seconds that pass between ones birthday to the next. In the past year, my hair will have grown ~12 cm, my heart will have beaten a powerful and healthy 42,075,900 times, I will have taken approximately 41,075,900  life sustaining breaths, and will have had 1,460 drastically various dreams…approximately.

But what’s in a year?
A person can accomplish so much with a year. I certainly have. I’ve graduated from the University of Florida after 3 1/2 years of dedicated work, gotten into an MSW program within a prestigious graduate school, have kept myself healthy through all of my medical issues, have progressed my relationship with the man I love, have added yet another entirely loved and cherished new fluffy addition to our family, and have acclimated to an untrodden and improved way of living in Columbia, SC. I’ve grown to know more about myself than ever before. I don’t think many people realize how much one accomplishes in a year. So, I ask you, how much have you accomplished? When you think about it, you’ll find that you’ve accomplished more than you may have thought, quite a self-esteem booster!

In China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, noodles are eaten in honor of a person’s birthday. “But you’re gluten-free, you can’t eat no noodles!” Oh but can I? For this upcoming birthday, I want some quality brown rice noodles for dinner, just to test the theory out. They say that the longer the noodle, the longer the life. I assume every male wishes for a long noodle ay?.. 😉

Everyone wants to live a long, healthy life. But so many of us have the fear of getting older. Wrinkles, sagging skin, and hair loss, oh my! I feel like one should relish in their age. Yes, I will be turning 22, and proud of it! Do I wish I was 16 again? No. do I wish I was 40? Obvious answer, but no. I’m exactly where I am supposed to be, and that’s how I always want to feel.

Have you ever seen those ‘elderly’ ladies in Victoria Secret wearing the PINK! sweatsuits? Every time I witness this, I only think to myself that when I’m their age, at 50 to 70 years old, I want to embrace my age, not make it even more known by trying to act an age that I’m not. Granted that I will hopefully be well happily married at that age, I understand the necessity for Victoria Secret, at any age. But wearing what is the new fad for 16 year old’s at the time? No, thank you. I think the term I’m thinking of here is elegance and age appropriate. When I get to that point in my life, I’m going to go out with class, pearls and all. I personally think I’d look exquisite in a red hat and purple dress,purple has always been my color, but that’s just my opinion.

In England, when you reach the age of 80, 90, or 100 years old, you receive a telegram from the Queen herself! ..or her secretary who prints out all those letters…But just think! They are making the point that aging gracefully is something to be proud of! I’m grateful for each and every day I am alive. But I  do have to say that f you reach the age of 100 you should  be able to parade around in pride, if not at the least be able to access your social security.

Did you know that the Birthday Cake tradition goes all the way back to Medieval Times…and not just the amusement park!  Bakers would put coins, rings, and thimbles right into the cake, choking hazard I say! I could see myself partaking in my last birthday celebration while choking on a thimble. People were well aware of this tradition however, and looked forward to it. With each slice, a person gained a prophecy of some sort. If you received a slice with a ring hidden within, it was told that wedding bells would be ringing for you sometime soon. If a thimble was found in the slice, it meant that you would be unmarried for the rest of your life. And if you found coins in your slice, it symbolized you being wealthy within your life. I’ll have to tell the baker to put in some coins… many, many coins…

Maybe the reason for discontinuing the medieval tradition, if not for choking on your own birthday cake on a thimble no less, was to give way to an array of birthday wishes. Why limit the outcome of a wish to three determined intentions? It only seems right to let the birthday celebrant decide his or her fate and the one wish we chose to make each year.

“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

What’s in your bucket?

Bucket List.

I find it either a glass half-full or half-empty kind of activity. It’s kind of like buying a cemetery plot in many instances, you aren’t going to do so unless the moment presents itself upon you all at once. I’d like to look at it as a kind of insurance, the glass being half full. I didn’t decide to create a bucket list in looking at it as tasks to do before I die, but as activities to accomplish along my entirely long and fulfilling life. I don’t want to find myself at age 70 and suddenly have the urge to create one, with minimal time left to accomplish it. No, I want ALL the things to be able to get crossed off of my list. I think no matter what stage, what age, and where you are in this journey called life, it’s a great way to catalog your goals and ambitions in a clear and focused manner. What have you got to lose? All it costs is some paper, a pen, and a little time.

You’re probably thinking that there are just too many things you would like to put on your list, it’d would simply take forever! The idea to create a bucket list of my own was sprung from a site that listed “101 Things To Do Before You Die.” Sure, there are thousands of things I would like to do before I die, but I don’t have all day Sir! I have a life you know.. 😉

Ten. Ten unique and utterly on-the-dot pinned goals should suffice. I personally know that narrowing down your goals can seem quite painstaking, especially for those who certainly would list 101 things! But in the end, I want to be able to accomplish, as I’ve said, ALL of my goals…so I will make the number more manageable and simply give each goal a tidge more tenor, without being the least bit ambiguous.

I’ll start of with the easiest.

1. Feel Healthy. To be clear, 100%, walking on sunshine, singing with the birds, dancing in the rain happy and healthy. It’s been a bit since I’ve felt completely healthy. Now, I do believe that there will always be little ailments and medical issues here and there, and even ones that make a profound impact in your life. But at some point, I want to feel completely energized and medically sound like I have before, and stay that way. One month without a medical appointment? Yes, please!

2. Grow a Garden. One that will house both the flowering and fruit/vegetable producing sorts. Have you ever seen Jamie Oliver’s show on the Food Network? Every episode, he goes out his back door into his garden, and picks something fresh and organic right off the stem to use in his recipes. Want. I would like to someday not to have to pay so much for vegetables and fruit and rather eat what it in season by what is seasonally and readily available to pluck right out of my own soil. The Farmer’s Market in Gainesville may have gotten me into it more than ever, but back in High School my mother and I had a garden of our own. With wildflowers we picked, tomatoes, beans, and CORN. Sadly, Florida soil is too sandy for the deep roots, but they grew around 4 feet tall!

3. Dye My Hair Dark Brown. Easiest to hardest and it’s put at third? Oh yeah, I’ve been saying I was going to do this “next semester” for over 4 years now! Everyone has their fears haha. My mother and father both have a rich, dark brown hair color. My mother had blonde hair and it slowly turned darker as she aged, and mine is too. Although blondes dooo have more fun, I believe my hair color should match my intelligence 😉 In all seriousness though, my hair will be dark brown by the time I’m 30; it is already a light brown, naturally. I think it will make my green eyes pop, don’t you think?

4. Own a Home With a Fireplace. I’ve always found it a luxury to have a cozy space to warm up in and cuddle with the one you love most. And lets not forget the S’mores. There’s something just so memorable about sipping steamy hot chocolate topped with marshmallows by a warm fire in Winter, while being in the convenience of the inside of your own home. Or drinking wine by the flickering light, it’s light keeping you warm and toasty. Santa will appreciate it too! 😉 You don’t really see those in Florida…

5. Marry My Own “Mr. Darcy.” And live Happily Ever After. Simply said. Word of the day ladies, Romance. Which leads me to my next item..
6. Read all of Jane Austin’s Novels. More importantly, read MORE. And no, weekends full of peer-reviewed journals and educational textbooks do not count. regretfully. I have so many books still awaiting for me to curl up, open them up, and enjoy. Because we all know that the movies just don’t turn out the same.

7. See Yellowstone Park. As you may know, I’m fond of wolves. I would love to see wild wolves up close as well as the numerous other animals that live and thrive in the park. As of 2011, at least 98 wolves resided in yellowstone, in 10 different packs. The wolf pack has declined 60% in the Northern Range since 2007. Part of the declination of the population is due to Distemper. If you’ve ever had a puppy you know that they usually receive 4 rounds of distemper. But what IS distemper? It’s a mental illness, which can effect how a wolf hunts, and what it is susceptible to. Symptoms parallel a combination of the flu and rabies, and is highly contagious.  On a brighter note, Yellowstone has the world’s largest collection of Geysers! I’m amazed every day by nature’s beauty.

8. Climb a Mountain. No, not the usually stated Mt. Everest. I would like to hike a mountain closer to where I live now. Possibly somewhere in South Carolina? Sassafras I say! There is a gorgeous waterfall that can be seen while on the Foothills Trail, an 80-mile hiking/backpacking trail that runs from Oconee State Park to Table Rock State Park. I would also love to see the Appalachian Mountains, which is pretty close at less than two hours away!

9. Drink Champage in Champage, France. Only sparkling white wine that comes from the Champagne region of France, in the northeastern part of the country, can actually be called champagne. That’s why here in the US you see so many bubbly white wines called “Sparkling Wine.” In Europe, it’s  actually the law! It has been illegal for non-Champaignois vineyards to call their lot of wine champagne ever since 1891. It is so important that such a claim be made that it was reaffirmed in the 1919’s Treaty of Versailles—the one that ended World War I. Traveling is without question on most people’s bucket lists.  I’ve always adored the Parisian lifestyle, and since I love wine, well, this simply makes sense.

10. Last, and certainly not least, Visit Croatia. My dad’s side of the family is from there, and they also have absolutely gorgeous beaches. (The beaches are always on travel.com’s Top Ten Beach Vacation Spots for the wealthy. What is less known is that there has been quite a long-stand of genocide in the former Yogoslavian nations, particularly in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It’s tragic. And even more so that we as Americans are rarely informed on crisis that our US army isn’t in direct conflict with. A good movie that showcases some of the reality taking place is The Whistle Blower, a movie that is set in post-war Bosnia. If you like suspenseful, yet informational movies, I suggest it.

What’s On YOUR Bucket List???

Wordfind anyone?

GAME TIME!

The FIRST three words in the cross word are what describe you. Whatever your eyes land on first, oh the possibilities.

Mine were LOVELY, BEAUTIFUL, and BROKEN. ….I’m scratching the later 😉

For a while when we first moved up to Columbia, Eric and had to find activities that were on the cheap while we were still looking for jobs, and with gas prices even taking trips were out of the question for the moment! Hard life right?

Think back to your 5-year old days. If you didn’t have a Sega or Nintendo (I was a HUGE fan of Mario) then board games were where it’s at. And lets not forget the Lego’s! Yes, it all started when Eric and I were traveling through Walmart looking by the gardening section, and came across a clearance rack of toys. Clearance $2 Harry Potter Lego set? Done. Instead of World of Warcraft, have you ever played Heroica? It’s pretty fun, as you have to actually build the game set before you can even play. Lego fun times two!

Eric and I are more of the video-game players. Addiction is the hallmark to any fellow video gamers story. Prior to moving, we had quite a few. And why not mix one addiction with another, say wine and Final Fantasy XIII? So moving here we wanted to change it up a bit. And with my recent illness slowly progressing, I can’t look at a television for more than an hour or two before I start to get entirely nauseous and a good headache, so back to the old days it was!

Trouble, Star Wars edition. The Pop! in the middle makes a R2D2 sound every time you press it. The little runt runt, Riku goes NUTS over this. It almost makes the game even more enjoyable with him being so interested in it. Clue is also another good one, did you know they make a Harry Potter Clue? It’s pretty wicked! I just got Eric into Harry Potter after I suggested a Harry Potter A-Thon, over a good two weeks of time that is. He never saw past the third one!Blasphemy  :O! I dare say that I made him into quite the HP junkie.

Another activity most our age don’t do anymore? Puzzling! I honestly haven’t puzzled since I was, oh, maybe ten. I think you tend to remember the nightmare of the 300 pieces never quite fitting together than the fun times it brought during and after completion. One word of advice, do NOT buy a lenticular puzzle. Even puzzles have been brought into the 21st century now. But is 3D truly necessary for a puzzle?

Lenticular is a word that describes the shape of a double-convex lens. A lenticular puzzle is a puzzle that takes advantage of this type of lens to create an illusion. The illusion works by showing you a different image depending on the angle at which you view the image on the puzzle. The image may show depth, or a completely different image as you change your viewing angle. If you want to try one, I seriously suggest starting out with one of the little 25 Disney Lenticular puzzles. It’s more challenging than it looks, and you’ll find yourself looking for a puzzle piece with your head constantly cocked to one side, since you could be looking for the piece to fit in either one of two actual scenes, depending on the angle. The first one we bought was a 1,000 piece Thomas Kinkade Cottage Scene lenticular puzzle. Curse the day we bought it! We got half way in and decided to burn it!…or trash it. For a puzzle to be lenticular the pieces have to be thicker to have the 3D material on them. The thicker pieces don’t quite fit together easily, you literally must snap them together, and most of the time that doesn’t go smoothly either. We’ve learned that with any puzzle over 50 pieces, you should stick with the old school versions.

Another timeless game is Chess. Although I myself get the mental image of A.) A wealthy individual playing a game in their study with their monocle, or B.)Elderly playing chess in the park on Tuesday mornings, I’ve found that there are ways to adapt the game to the college lifestyle. Yes, you CAN make it into a drinking game! Every time a piece of yours goes down, down that shot! To make it easier, you can actually buy a chess set made fir for a drinking game, with different shot glasses for the kind of pieces. Fun nights ahead yes? It’d make a great gift, I reckon that’s a way to anyone’s heart who enjoys chess (or liver, at least)?

My two-sense for the day!Go and grab a game, one that isn’t of the virtual sort, and get playing! It’s quite fun being able to transport yourself into a time when things were relatively worry-free and your most present thought was if the player next to you was cheating and stealing your pieces.

I’ll end this post with a little game that has been treasured in my family for quite some time…

WHERE’S WALDO?!

The Big Bad Wolf.

Remember the childhood story of Little Red Riding Hood? In this story, the big bad wolf is getting a revamp.

I own a hybrid. A Red Wolf/ German Shepherd mix. She’s now 9 months old and has grown to look like a complete wolf! Hybrid’s many times get a bad rap for owners that do not care for them PROPERLY. If you do not do your research and just want a Wolfdog for it’s popularity, then you should indeed reconsider. They are not half as obedient as domestic dogs as they have a mind of their own (it’s truly like owning a five year old who already can open doors!) and will learn obedience training and tricks remarkably quickly, though will not always do them right on command as they have a “on my time” attitude.

That said, not all breeders are legitimate, so that you have to know if the breeder is selling actual Wolfdog/hybrid puppies and not just a Husky/Malamute, or is claiming that they are greater than 70% wolf. First time owners should never buy a dog from a breeder who sells puppies as “High Content.” When buying a hybrid (meaning half wolf half dog for both parents,) it’s like mixing a bag of marbles and picking two. You might end up with a dog that is mostly wolf, mostly dog, or something anywhere in between the continuum.  Luna? Well, she’s more on the wolf side..

My Wolfdog, Luna, is the sweetest girl. She has completed her Petsmart training and is incredibly affectionate and responsive. She does however have quite the mind of her own, and continually tries to assert herself as the alpha on a daily basis  Owning a wolf hybrid is not to be taken lightly, but with the right knowledge, love for the animal, and compassionate training and proper care, they can truly become a best friend.

One thing I’ve learned? DON’T Google search hybrid without knowing what you may find. The horrific stories of wolf hybrids attacking children, are just that, horrific events stemming from either, A. The owners neglect and lack of knowledge on how to properly care for and train a hybrid, or B. A mentally off-centered dog. There’s been news stories of even golden retrievers having attacked children too. Wolf hybrid rescues are created for that specific reason. Many people deem hybrid’s to be “confused, not knowing if they’re a wolf or dog.” It’s like saying a person is transgendered when they simply have two parents with different racial backgrounds. Make more sense? In that, they are used to different “cultural habits” lets say, in the case of hybrids, dominance is one distinct habit.

Wolves do not have a single behavior not found in dogs as a whole. Don’t believe that? Try to find one. 😉

  • If you lean over a shy or dominant hybrid (any variety), he feels threatened.
  • If you avert your eyes or make yourself smaller and slower, it has a calming effect.
  • If something runs by quickly, it catches their attention. Anyone have cats in the house??
  • If you reward them with high value treats for acting on command, they will do it reliably. Petsmart training is highly recommended!
  • If you condition them to enjoy being leash walked as a runt, they’ll look forward to it eagerly.

*One note is that it took WEEKS to completely leash train Luna. She now jogs on the right side of me on command, knowing when to stop, wait, increase/decrease speed, etc. She wouldn’t move at first, it was like dragging her on ski’s. But with patience and persistence, they CAN and WILL learn, it just takes a little time and effort.

  • If your hybrid has gotten a “big head”, a No Free Lunch rank reduction program (SIT!– then the reward) will return them to the guidance of your leadership. And on, and on…regardless of the shape, size or color, it’s all a matter of proper ownership.

100% Leash Trained.

It’s instinct for them to have a hierarchy, and fight their way to the top. Therefore, one must know the signals and physical behavior of dominance, making sure to differentiate dominance from plain aggression, as they are quite different.Food aggression is a result of your dog’s individual temperament, plus how much effort you put into training him otherwise. We’ve trained Luna quite repetitively using the dominance theory and making it known that we can touch her mouth, her food, and her toys at any time, even if she’s in the middle of eating or playing, without her acting on it. Plenty of Wolfdogs are fine about food/possessions. Plenty of dogs are not. If you have a food-aggressive hybrid, then somewhere along the way, there was human error involved.  As a wolf dog owner, you simply have to be knowledgeable on the different instinctual behaviors that Wolfdogs have from domestic dogs, and train accordingly. Wolfdogs just aren’t going to head or comply to your every command as a domestic dog might, and that is  quite alright.

When it comes down to it, you, as the owner, need to know what you can handle. There are no such things as “bad dogs,” but there ARE bad owners. If you do your research and dedicate time to your new family member, you’ll have wonderful memories to last a lifetime. If you want to know how to successfully raise, handle, and manage Wolfdogs, talk to those who have done it—and have great animals to show for it.

If you want to fly, study those who are doing it—not those who say it can’t be done.

HOLD IT!

Medical Appointments. All who think they are a dread say I! They should be called waiting appointments instead. During the past few months I’ve had my fair share of them, some better than others. Finding a new doctor in the Midlands area near my home in Columbia was exorbitantly harder than it would seem! More so, finding a specialist, such as a gynecologist? Might as well not even try. I’m not a pessimist, but after calling over ten OB/GYNs in the area, all I was able to get were appointments a month away. Hospital it was, if anything were to go drastically wrong in the time between. Since I wasn’t getting in an office anytime soon, I made an appointment for the most renowned OB/GYN office in Columbia. Go big or go home right?  Where do people go around here for a specialist?

When it came to family doctors, I called around and was able to get an appointment the next week with a doctor close by with a decent reputation (score!). I was told that I had to get a kidney ultrasound. The ultrasound is to see that your kidneys are working in tip-top-shape. After attending UF for four years and embracing the part-time alcoholism afforded to me during such ;), I was in betwixt and in between if anything may be a tidge off. I was told that one hour prior to the ultrasound, you have to “drink at LEAST 32 oz of water…and HOLD IT!” by the nurse that I spoke with over the phone. Yes Ma’am!

At the site, the lady doing the ultrasound on me was very…unsociable. Whether or not she was trained to be like that in order to come off professional is unknown to me, but having an ultrasound previously I know that I have indeed had friendlier. She pressed down on my kidneys,  so hard it hurt. Needed or not, it wasn’t pleasant. The bladder part of the ultrasound was just downright uncomfortable! As they press down on it you just about think you’ll pee yourself! (As I did not have a bladder infection at the time, I now wonder how bad it is for those who do..)

Now, you know what is most dreaded? The look I term as the “Sourpuss Face”. When the technician looks at something they’ve found to be unsatisfactory. In my case, and by law, the technicians aren’t allowed to tell you if they have found anything, good or bad. Hogwash I say! Would they rather I die of a stroke in anticipation? Now as I am Mrs. Super Sleuth, I was watching her notes as she typed from shot to shot on the wee little screen. Psh, and I need glasses!
If only I knew Morris code, as much of it looked as such. What was readily apparent was her consistent typing of “left ovary” or “LT OVARY.” This visit was for a kidney and bladder ultrasound. My anatomy may need some brushing up but lets face it, ovaries aren’t what she was intending to look at, or so I should only assume by the reason I was sent to get the ultrasound.

Ovary…left…left ovary…it kept repeating over and over in my mind, and on her damn keyboard! Does it really need to be repeated so many times in multiple shots? ..Am I missing a left ovary? Is that even anatomically possible, to be born with only one ovary?  Wouldn’t my OB/GYN have told me if something was wrong? I could have sworn I just had a pap smear with negative results…LIES! …or…is my ovary interfering with my bladder performance, stealin’ the spotlight are we? Is THAT even possible? Do ovaries correlate with bladder effectiveness and I just didn’t know it? I should get out the anatomy book when I get home…

All of this ran through my mind as the ultrasound went on. Not to worry I told myself, she simply could have just been noting what side the picture was taken on..using the ovaries as a baseline. Possible. Not probable. Until proven otherwise, I’m going with that, since to my knowledge my kidneys are lookin’ fiiiiiine.

The only need for looking at my kidneys via the ultrasound was a preliminary check before sending me off to a urologist, due to recurrent UTIs in the past years. New doctor, new inquiries, and having medical insurance I figured it wouldn’t hurt to see how the ‘ol kidneys are doing. (Writing this after getting feedback from the results, I know that this specific ultrasound may have eventually saved my life in the long run.) Any woman who has ever experienced a UTI will tell you that, quite possibly next to labor, it is the most pain a female may have to deal with in her life. As NOTHING, I mean prescription strength or non, can help alleviate the symptoms until you strangle a doctor for some antibiotics; nothing is just strong enough to get directly into the Urinary Tract and Bladder to stop the infection, or at least calm it down enough to still the symptoms. Some medications lessen it but let me tell you, not well enough by any means.

Waiting two days for the results, even if you are 99.99% sure that there is nothing wrong with your kidneys, is borderline excruciating. Never to fear however, I have ALL of the fluff to keep my mind off of the medical for now. =D

“Fear is a part of life. It’s a warning mechanism. That’s all. It tells you when there’s danger around. Its job is to help you survive. Not cripple you into being unable to do it.”

What Life Revolves Around.

No, it isn’t love. Dollas ladies and gents, and lots of ’em! When it comes to owning a puppy, the expense can be exorbitant, let alone two! Now with Luna Eric and I luckily got somewhat of a deal with a local vet offices puppy package and no cost spaying, so all of the distemper combos and medications were at a relatively low cost. Riku however is not as fortunate to acquire such a deal in the Palmetto State. This is primarily due to the belief in South Carolina that a $200 puppy package, for one round of distemper and a regular vet checkup with that,is discounted! As Eric says, “we already have the puppy, we don’t need to buy a new one, just the shots!” So, I did some research and found that a local non profit animal adoption agency called PETS INC. offered affordable vaccinations. We didn’t half expect it to be as cheap as it was though, $8 for the little guy’s round of distemper. Subtract that from $200 and you have yourself the best savings a girl could ask for! We couldn’t believe the affordable pricing, shots that cheap you’d think there was a black market we got them off of.

The Pets Inc. adoption site had over three litters of puppies up for adoption when we went.  None as cute as Riku, of course. Not only were the shots wicked cheap, but it was done in lightening speed. Now, the guy administering the shots was a Seminole, FSU student. And he can successfully administer shots? Yah, likely story. 😉 But all kidding aside, he was lickity split quick! There was no line, no waiting outside a Petco in the wee hours of the AM for a shot clinic van to come driving up and eventually set up so you can form an even longer line inside the shop to wait for your pet to receive their shots. Oh no, went, received, and drove home. wasn’t even a long enough trip for Riku to use the loo during! (And if you don’t know, puppies at his age pee about every 1 to 2 hours..) This may all sound sketchy to you, after all, if you’re not waiting, are you actually receiving quality care? We thought so, as there were vets on staff at the facility and everything, and all of the staff or volunteers were friendly and welcoming to any questions you had.

An added bonus was that each pet when given vaccinations is given an identification number. That number is on an ID tag that you put on his collar, so that if found it states that the pet must be returned to Pets Inc., where they then look you up as the owner. Better than an ID chip if you ask me in that the Humane Society isn’t needed as the middle-man (for the scanning of the chip.) It’s fail safe, no Lost Dog posting around town needed! (I always think that if Luna ever gets out, and she CAN jump 10.5 feet when she’s old enough, that i’ll have to put up signs saying: “Lost Wolf, PLEASE DON’T SHOOT! Return to the lovely couple in the red door house.” Oh, the South..

On topic, the couple times a year shots aren’t the big spender as most people may believe. Think less small picture and more big picture, every day needs.  Know what it is? Puppy owners may eagerly say it’s the paper towel expense, as cleaning up puppy messes all day may seem like it might be, but it’s the grub! If only they were at their maxed weight so the amount needed wouldn’t keep increasing! Do they EVER stop growing it seems? You will begin to think about looking up stocks in Purina for how much you buy!

Since Eric and I are on a gluten-free diet, can you guess what the pups are on? And they always say the dogs resemble the owners, why not follow a similiar diet? We have them on the Large Breed Puppy Wellness food. It’s gluten-free, no added junk ingredients, and even has whole foods such as spinach, blueberries, and carrot even added to it. It’s like the Superman dog food. Now, I know the big question, how much is it? Do I have to take out a second mortgage, forfeit my child’s educational savings? No, it’s a supreme food at a moderate price for the quality food it is. Not only did we get it for the quality wholesome ingredients, but due to Luna’s “special” nutritional needs, as a Canis Lupus.

Too much to drink 😉

Red wolves, and all wolves in general, have an adverse reaction to soy (plainly stated as IBS…the elephant in the room will be readily smelled.) Eating a diet that includes soy product, even minimal amounts, will lead to blindness in later years. That said, almost ALL dog foods, treats, and products, are made with Lecithin, which is soy based. Picking out items for Luna? Harder than it seems!  Especially since wolves are not only unable to process and digest soy, but also corn and wheat. It’s the doggie Celiac and allergy sufferer extraordinaire! Makes sense when you think that wild wolves have no means of accessing such products, just the vegetation and fresh, lean meat. They’re on the new Caveman Diet fad already. A dog that molds to our diet, who would have known!  Wellness puppy food is ideal since it is wheat, corn, and soy free. Which is beneficial to every puppy’s digestive system and not just for dogs with wolf heredity.

As stated, most dog treats contain lecithin, and more fearsome, rawhide. Rawhide has been used for ages but can be deathly for larger dogs. Larger dogs, with sharper teeth (such as Luna) can break the rawhide into tiny slivers, that when swallowed, puncture the intestine and is fatal. To avoid such, we get Luna actual real bones coated in flavor. When it comes to snacks, both of the pups LOVE peanut butter. It’s like crack to them, slap some on some celery and she’ll rob a bank for you if you’ll give her some! Same goes for boiled chicken, cantaloupe, and papaya. Papaya I highly recommend since papaya enzymes are highly beneficial to digesting..and we did just talk about her back-end smokehouse…

Speaking of feeding, ever eat your dogs food before they do? Sounds kinky right?  In simple terms, it all boils down to the dominance theory and portraying yourself as Alpha in the pack. If you own a dog, or are interested in learning more about dominance theory I highly recommend reading this page, it has detailed information with corresponding visuals, HERE.

Many people use this approach with all dogs, but as it can be kind of too-too in my eyes, I do believe it is necessary when owning a wolf hybrid as the social hierarchy is instinct and will always be with them. To show that Eric and I are alpha to Luna, we pretend to eat her food before giving the bowl to her, after she sits before of course. Luna is more wolf than dog we have found, and responds to our dominant behavior quite accordingly! Where as Riku just looks at us like were nuts. Another move we do is the ‘say please’, which we use on both. It’s having them sit before granting them anything, be it setting the food down, giving them a treat, presenting them a toy (Luna LOVES anything that squeeks, though with her teeth, a soft toy such as the pink elephant below will only last a good week..), going outside, etc.

Luna showing her dominance over Riku by putting a paw over him.

You can tell Luna sees Eric and I as alpha in many ways. One of the main cues is how she comes up to us. As she approaches, her whole body cowers down (not in fear, but in submission, sort of like in a mid-bow), her ears go back, yet all the while excitedly wagging her tail level to her body.  If she’s entirely excited to see me, say I just came home, she’ll try to jump up by my face, right by my mouth. If you’ve ever seen a wolf’s teeth, it can seem quite frightening!  She’s simply trying to lick your teeth, a kind of “wolf kiss.” There is the cutest VIDEO on youtube showing this. When watching the video, first thought is “wow, the lady is going dowwwnnn” to “awww.”

Wolves go through phases. Luna is just a Pre-Teen in her time, and we won’t know her level of dominance and need to be high in the hierarchy (and her possible aggression towards us to become such) until she is around two to three years old. Might as well play it safe we say and get on pretending to eat that puppy food!

I am not a wolf in sheep’s clothing, I am a wolf in wolf’s clothing.

First time for everything they say.

Visiting Columbia for the first time, Eric and I decide to do some snooping. With our little miss Scooby Doo in hand, we embarked on our own Mystery of the Forgotten Lake. Not as forgotten as thought but certainly barely populated with people and pretty darn hard to find.

Lake Murray, the most serene lake that you can sort-off (key words) swim in. We had visited Sequicentennial State Park, located only 25 minutes away from us, prior to going to the Lake since the state park offered a lake as well, but went only to find out that out bathingsuits would not be used that day, as swimming in the lake was not allowed. Lake Monster? We’ll never know. After learning that swimming was prohibited, we decided to look elsewhere and with a quick swish of the mouse and google’s help we found Lake Murray, swimming and dogs both allowed and only a 35 minute drive away. Sounded like a plan!

If you’ve never been, the lake itself is settled in a very high-pigment red clay. That said, don’t wear your best swimsuit as it is likely to turn red! Eric’s swim trunks were gonners from the first dip.. Unexpectedly, I found out that it was literally Eric’s first time in a lake.  Not too many lakes to be found in South Florida I’ve been told, but then again with the beaches is there a need? Making the best with what we have, and not wanting to drive an hour to the coast of S. Carolina, we made due, and found a little piece of paradise in the middle of the state.

There were two lake amateurs in my car that day, as it was Luna’s first time ever in a lake. Now, with the breeder that had her before we adopted her, they would take all of the pups to the Indian Reservation close to Hawthorne, FL, so she may have experienced something there, but as she was so young this might as well have been her first! And boy was she not that excited about that less than clear water! She was thrilled!…to swim ashore that is. Maybe if there was only some salmon swimming about… To her defense we could not see below two feel deep once w were in the water as the red clay would ge turned up and pollute the water around us that was just a moment before clear

It ended up being quite the adventurous day! Eric and I were proud puppy parents , filming all of Luna’s first swim. When it came to snapping photos, we bought a one-use waterproof Kodak camera, more expensive but I highly advise it for any water fun that you wish to catch on film. Luna seemed to fit in perfectly with the scenery of the forest laden Lakeside, a wolf in her natural habitat! Luna is part wolf, as you may know prior to this blog, and the wolf in her is Red Wolf, which most of the population of actually reside in North and South Carolina! An island off of South Carolina was actually used as a captive-breeding plan when there numbers became extremely low, you can read more about it in HERE.

The amount of pines in the wooded area of the park (in other words, what wasn’t the actual Lake,) seemed to stretch on for miles. It reminded me of Twilight. Yes, twilight. No Vampires jumping from tree to three though I assure you. There were about four different trails throughout the park, and the three of us embarked on the longest trail that day, which took over an hour and a half! Luna seemed to like the land more than the sea, so much sniffing to do on those trails!

When it came to Luna and the water, one would think, “wolves, wolves like water…Luna will like water.” Oh no, not this lady. She loved to splish and splash in the water within a two-foot radius of the shoreline, but any farther and the only direction the wet-rat looking pup would swim in would be towards shore. Scaredy cat? Or wolf instinct I’m not picking up on? I’ll never know.

What I did find out that day was thought provoking in itself.  I never knew how much Luna actually cared to be around us, or simply cared for us in that matter. Hybrids by many people are said to be shy, unattached and more or less disinterested in their owners overall safety in comparison to that of a domestic dog.

Driving to the Lake, we got a little lost. The path to the location is pretty much off in a very country setting, with long roads and big houses. Money to live by the lake, that we surely picked up on! Once we found the park, there were no designated dog area signs, and as I do not want to get a ticket, I wanted to make sure they were allowed where we were going. As I saw a woman with two golden retrievers by the tack shop near the entrance, I quickly jumped out of the car to catch her before she walked away, all the while as Eric was slowing the car to a stop still. As I got out so that I may ask her what areas she takes her dogs in the park, and as we have the windows half down, if unknowingly half-haphazardly, Luna jumps right out of the car that is still in motion! Talk about Pupppppy Poweerrr! Have you ever seen those safety belts for dogs used in vehicles? We may need to invest. Did she jump because she saw the other dogs a bit away? Was she wanting to get out due to boredom? Or did she just want to jump ship to follow mom?

Like a new shell hitting the shore, the tide comes up, today as before.

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Inspiration

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If you are a weightlifter, strongman, exercise enthusiast, or just looking for a good read, do head over to Eric's blog RIGHT HERE..
He is my inspiration in more ways than one, especailly when it comes to pursuing my writing.

Oh, you know you want to be stronger, doesn't everyone? ;)

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