Monday, March 29, 2010

Dogs are idiots

So this entry is side stepping the weird things about me for a moment so I can wax poetic about my idiot dog.

We adopted our dog over a year ago from the local humane society. She's a mix of a variety of breeds; when we visit the pet store many people like to guess what she is. In my opinion she definitely has some boxer in her, as she has the characteristic brindle coat with white paws and a white chest. However she's missing the square face typically seen in that breed. The humane society believed her to be a mix with pit bull, however it's hard to say. Plus most people, even professionals, cannot successfully identify a pit bull. (

Our dog is a sweetheart and is easy going in most cases except one: when we leave the house. When we first adopted her, we let her roam the house with no problems. One day we came home and she had ate an entire white cake off the counter. She also had a stomach of steel since she didn't even throw any of it up or was even seriously affected by it.

We figured, our bad, so we made sure to keep cakes off the counters and any other foods. Then she got into the dirty dishes, a lunchbox, and the recycling bin... We locked her in the bedroom to chill. Again, she was fine, until one random day she decided to rip up the comforter. She also did something similar at my parent's house. Left her all day in their bedroom for some holiday and she was fine. The next day we left for an hour to go to the grocery? She obliterated the down comforter, feathers were everywhere.

After that we started confining her to her crate which she HATES. Absolutely detests. She will run as far away as possible to avoid the crate. We've smeared peanut butter in there, thrown in treats, even tried to get her in there when we weren't leaving and she would have none of it. It was a bit of a hassle to go get her and carry her to the crate. Also, since she hated it so much, I felt bad putting her in there to begin with.

Eventually we decided to give the bedroom another go, but this time leave the radio on (NPR, lots of voices). Things seemed to be going well. No ripping anything up, she didn't mind that much getting put in there, etc.

Of course, all good things must come to an end. One day we came home after work and she was sleeping on the couch, rather than being safely ensconced in our bedroom. ??? Somehow she figured out how to get out of the bedroom. We have doors with the lever handles, but the door opens into the room. Very mysterious. Perhaps it was a fluke, so I put her in there again when I went off to pilates for an hour.

Came home and found her at the door, waiting to greet me. What the?! So far, all of her escapes had led to no destruction, she was just chilling out in the living room.

The next time we left, we barricaded her in the room, using a bin in front of the door. We were gone for about 7 hours and she was still in the room when we came back. Success!

Yesterday we went out for a couple of hours, did the same set up, and came home to find DISASTER!

The previous day I had made a couple of batches of delicious chocolate chocolate chip cookies. We packed them in tupperware and left them on the counter. There was also a half pan of brownies covered with tin foil on the counter.

We came home to find our happily wagging dog at the door and annihilated cookies all over the floor. She pulled down all four containers of cookies and ripped them all open (thanks for ruining the tupperware) and went to town on them. Ate about a complete batch and there were still some in their mangled containers, suggesting that we may have caught her in mid-chow down. I also noticed a piece of tin foil on the floor, which reminded me of the brownies. Mysteriously, the brownie pan was completely missing. It took us a while to find it, but it had gotten wedged under the couch, of course, completely empty.

We called up the emergency vet for advice (it was a Sunday). This is not the first time she has inhaled large quantities of chocolate. About 6 months or so ago she also ate an entire bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips, though for that quantity we didn't need to bring her in. This time, due to the unsweetened bakers chocolate found in both the cookies and the brownies, on top of the chocolate chips also in the cookies and brownies, we decided to take her in.

Luckily, the office visit was 79 dollars, which could have been a lot worse. Our reg vet charges about 50 dollars. They induced vomiting for $90. She puked up 3.5 pounds of chocolate goo. I think the vet was impressed. They also gave her some charcoal stuff that binds to any poison remaining to help her pass it for about $55 dollars. Long story short, she's fine. She woke us up a few times to pee and poop last night, but no throwing up (unlike the chocolate chip incident) and she's fine this morning.

Our dog is an idiot with a craving for chocolate. What is with dogs consuming very dangerous things? We leave all types of food on the counter. There's bananas, cuties, a big container of granola, dirty dishes, oils, etc. and she ignores them. She ignores them for days, but as soon as she smells chocolate, she goes nuts. Not only that, but when we took her to the vet, nothing bad had happened yet. So my dog just inhaled a bunch of delicious chocolate, got to go for a car ride (which she loves), and meet new people (which she loves). I feel like if I have to spend large quantities of money and take you to the hospital, you should look miserable, not like you're having the time of your life!!

My parents' dog is equally ridiculous. When she gets upset she eats carpet. Not only is that very weird, but you'd think after the first or second time of trying to pass carpet and being induced to vomit it up, she'd learn not to eat it. But no, inexplicably, they keep consuming it. I can't even smell raspberry vodka after a drinking binge left me vomiting all night, but the dogs of the world seem to have no problems in that area.

That being said, my dog has to just look at me with her cute eyes and her wagging tail and I remember why I got the dog in the first place.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

But their tails are so gross!

2) I have pet rats

Over the years I've had a variety of pets. I started out with fish, my Chinese Fighting fish was BA. I also had an aquarium with a slew of fish. Moved up to a gerbil, Skippy. Had family dogs. Had a pet, wild snake for a bit (had to release him when he wouldn't eat). Had a couple of anoles (wee lizards), Tarzan and Jane. Had a gold fish and fiddler crabs.

However, once I was living in an apartment in college, I really missed the pets you could play and interact with. While Cucumber and Asparagus (the fiddler crabs) were entertaining to watch, doing their little mating dances, trying to have babies, eating brine shrimp, it's not like you're going to pick one up.

After doing an immense amount of research on all sorts of animals, I decided on getting pet rats (a corn snake was close second). Before you get all "eww" on me, rats are super clean. Even though they are often portrayed as pest ridden, garbage lurkers, they are obsessed with cleaning themselves, very similar to a cat.

They are far, far more intelligent than gerbils and hamsters. Not only will they learn their names, minor tricks, and who you are (ie human treat dispenser), they can problem solve and know where the loo is.

We ended up adopting Noam and Jean, two sister rats, from the locally owned pet store. If I were to do it again, I would have checked out the local humane society. You should almost never adopt pets from a pet store, especially not those big box stores. Not only are they gross and typically don't have the right environment for the animal, you're also indirectly supporting companies that breed the crap out of small animals. Blech. Many small animals sit day after day, week after week at local humane societies without homes.

We brought them home and they grew up fast. I got them a huge cage and we let them run around all over the couch when we were watching TV or doing homework. When they got a little older we let them roam around the floor. We brought them in the bathroom while we showered. They liked to lick the water off our toes when we got out, which is a little alarming. My boyfriend accidentally left the cage open when we went to bed and we woke up to find them hiding under a desk. Seemed okay, so we put them back. Later we found out they chewed half the electrical cables to hell (especially the TV connection and an ethernet one).

I ended up finding a cool site ( which showed other rat owners doing crazy awesome stuff. Using fleece for liners for the cage floors. Creating little fleece cubes for the rats to snuggle in. Items in the cage color coordinated, and these cages were huge! I wanted to make sure my rats were living in just as plushy environment, so I searched Craigslist for a sowing machine and got to business. These days my cages have fleece floor liners, cubes, hammocks, tubes, etc. for the ratties to play in. (Probably should call this weird thing, number 2.5...)

I also got my rats medical treatment when necessary. Unfortunately, Noam kept getting reoccurring mammary tumors, which is very common in female rats. I kept getting them removed at about 250 a pop, but after a while it was getting too hard on her and we had to put her down. Her sister was put to sleep earlier due to an apparent pituitary tumor.

There was a bit of time where Noam was still alive, by herself. I ended up adopting another pair of girl rats, this time from a local breeder. I didn't want to have to deal with the emotional and financial trouble of pituitary and mammary tumors, and a responsible breeder is one way to accomplish that. They all hung out together until Noam passed away. Now it's just Volt and Nimbus.

The only problem now is that we have a dog. A rather small animal aggressive dog. It took her awhile to get used to the rats (there's a dent in the cage where she charged it one time), however, we can no longer let them run about unsupervised. This is really a shame since it's cut back on the amount of time they are handled. These two are not as well socialized as Noam and Jean were, and honestly, it's all my fault. Volt does fine with me, but she has a tendency to bite others. She also likes to climb up my pants or get into my slippers and nibble on my toes.

Long story short, rats are the best. If I have kids and they want a pet, it's going to be rats, not stupid gerbils or hamsters. They are way cooler and loads of fun! A great pet option, they've been referred as mini dogs by some people. If you aren't in a position to get a cat or dog, rats are a good alternative pet.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Beginning of the End

There are many strange sorts of things about me, at least, if you're taking a typical American viewpoint they are. In my next few posts I'll cover some of them.

1) I am a vegan.

I originally became a vegetarian (lacto-ovo) during college after a speech communications class where I gave a persuasive speech on the benefits of a vegetarian diet. My boyfriend was a vegetarian at the time and thought it was rather hypocritical for me to spout such claims and then go home to eat a nasty, dorm hamburger. So I took up the challenge and went vegetarian for a month. It wasn't as hard as people seem to think it is. Once you get out of the mindset that every meal needs to include meat, it isn't hard to go without. Most omnivores I encounter believe that by becoming veg*n you must now consume mass quantities of tofu. Tofu looks weird and blobby, kind of like a dense, white jello when uncooked. Not exactly appetizing.

That is not the case though. Many meals can easily be made without meat. Burritos, pizza, pasta, most "ethnic" dishes like Chinese, Thai (watch out for fish sauce!), Indian, etc. etc. After a month, I got my free trip to the Shedd Aquarium and decided to stick with it. It was even easier in a dorm setting at a large state university where they were obligated to provide veg dishes.

But alas, come November I realized I'd have to go without the sacred turkey! Gasp! No! So I got back on the bandwagon for the most part, however I decided to stick with shunning red meat.

During the following year I mostly ate seafood and the occasional piece of chicken, which really saved me when I went on a school sponsored trip to China. Since most of the meals were decided ahead of time and were done family style, I'm pretty sure I would have wasted away eating only steamed rice and horrendously overcooked veggies.

My veg boyfriend and I moved in together towards the end of college and it got more difficult to make separate dishes, so I decided to go the full shebang again. I was finally able to find some vegetarian cookbooks that had ingredients I recognize and could get at the local Meijer. It was the best for both of us as he was primarily subsisting on yogurt, boxed mac and cheese, grilled cheese, and the occasional tofu and pasta dish.

The only other major lapse was eating some lobster. I really loved seafood back in the day and decided to eat some on a cruise, especially since it was already included in the price. What I found though was that it didn't taste as good as I remembered. Perhaps I got a sub-par batch of lobster, maybe my taste buds had changed, or maybe since it had been so long since I had it, I had bolstered its memory. Either way, I abandoned the lobster and yearned for more broccoli.

Recently I became a vegan (about 5 months ago) after reading more and more about the atrocities committed by the meat, dairy, egg industries (both the treatment of animals and the environmental impacts) and the health issues associated from consuming dairy. I have always believed that if you're a veg for the animals you should really be a vegan. Dairy cows and egg laying chickens can be treated far worse than the beef cattle.

Veganism turned out to be very accessible. I initially started out trying to just cook at home vegan. No more mac and cheese from scratch, no more homemade cheese pizza, no scrambled eggs for breakfast, but what about cookies? Muffins? Pancakes?

Turns out that it's really not that difficult to go from veg to vegan, especially if you're willing to try new things. My pancakes today taste just as good as the ones with eggs and butter, but are much healthier without the cholesterol. I have a new favorite cookie (Rocky Road from Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar). My grocery bill went down, so I can try new foods without worrying about the extra expense. It really wasn't too difficult.

The only challenges, which aren't all that different from vegetarianism, is eating out. Restaurants are getting better at providing vegetarian options, but vegan meals can still be tricky to find. Calling ahead to find out if they can serve you is one way to avoid this issue. Many times chefs are willing to throw something animal free together. Eating at a friend's/family's home isn't too hard if you're willing to bring a dish to pass.

There are other, sort of strange, benefits of going vegan. Not having to obsess over cleaning. No raw meat, no raw eggs, no problem. You can finally ignore that sage advice from mom and lick that brownie bowl clean!

You end up trying meals you never thought of before. My current favorite food is not something I ever had while I was vegetarian: grilled avocado sandwiches. Make it like a grilled cheese, but mash up avocado, top with a slice of tomato and bean sprouts, sooooooo good! Pizza without cheese seemed like a terrible prospect, but top a crust with pesto and tomatoes, or tomato sauce and a slew of roasted veggies? Yum! Milkshakes made out of frozen banana, peanut butter, and chocolate sauce or chips? Delicious!

You stop going to fast food places. While some places have vegan options (Taco Bell is pretty vegan friendly, if you like that sort of thing), many don't. Why bother going to McDonald's, Wendy's, or BK? If I do want a quick meal out, these days I hit up Thai, Chinese, Chipotle, or Noodles. Saves you money, since you probably eat out less, and no one ever said McDonald's is good for you.

(Just saw this article today: )

Anywho, that's the first weird thing about me. More to come!