Saturday, March 31, 2012

FURFACE and Cleo

I wanted to say a few things about FURFACE and Cleo.

 Like I said before they were the two original cats in the house when Gypsy Gal came home. Thankfully there was no problem with the introductions and Gypsy and Cats got along fine. Sandi pulled kitten FURFACE out from under a trailer many years ago and they have been together everyday since then. He was with her through many trials and tribulations, and his affection for her was endless.  I used to joke how FURFACE was always the #1 man in the house. I think this was evident on a trip we took to her Dad's mountain house. We took FURFACE with us for the weekend and he was tucked away in his little cat kennel. We had only gone a few miles when, of course, FURFACE gets car sick. Sandi had some towels so, a quick clean up and off we go again. A few more miles and there he goes again, except from BOTH ends. Not a pleasant sight. Sandi quickly ran out of towels and without hesitation demanded the shirt off my back to clean poor FURFACE. So I guess I can say that I gave the shirt off my back for the cat right? By the time we got to the mountains I was in my boxers.

Cleo was a rescue cat. We walked into a pet shop on a Saturday morning and they had an adoption thing going on. Sandi has to say hi to every kitten/cat in the place. We weren't looking to adopt at that time either. This is back when Sandi felt one cat was enough. (THOSE WERE THE DAYS!) I was walking by and this tiny black and white kitten reaches out a grabs my arm. This was Cleo, although at the time the rescue group called her Smudge because of the back spot on her nose. Anyway, Cleo had me from that point on. She was more my cat than Sandi's. If I was sitting down, Cleo was usually on my lap. She followed FURFACE around and they were always side by side.

After many great years we finally lost FURFACE one sad day. He had a great life. I believe better than the majority of the cats in this world. Thanks to Sandi that is. Not only did Sandi and I take it hard but Cleo was also in a state of depression. Jon Katz is an author I read all the time. He has written many terrific novels about dogs, and his life on Bedlam Farm in upstate New York. He also has a great blog at  Check it out. He lost his dog Rose recently and wrote about how he did not observe any of the other dogs grieve for the loss. He says we try to invoke human emotions into our animals. This is a very controversial topic with animal lovers. I used to agree with him until we had these turn of events. When we lost FURFACE, Cleo went into a state of depression. That is the only way I can explain it. She went up and hid under the bed. Not coming out. Not for food or water.  I would take food up to her and lie on the floor and she would come out for one or two bits of food and then back under the bed. This went on for weeks.  I finally took her to the Vet and she thought Cleo might have cancer or perhaps something else that we could only determine after more testing. The opinion was that she was in poor shape and we had to put her down, In one short summer we lost both FURFACE and Cleo. So sad. I believe to this day that whatever it was that brought Cleo down, probably cancer, was accelerated by her extreme depression over FURFACE.

Loosing these two guys have made me appreciate Gypsy, and the time we will have together, more than ever.

Friday, March 30, 2012


We are finally on our way home with Gypsy!

It seemed liked we discussed having a puppy for so long and now we are on are way home! Very exciting indeed. Gypsy was great on the way back from Virginia. Sandi drove, as usual, and Gypsy sat on my lap looking out the window for the majority of the ride. Very calm. Car rides are great! She was so good in the car. Then the closer we get to home, the more reality starts to sink in. I think I mentioned Sandi is a cat person. That is putting it mildly. She is a major cat person. I like the little things too.  The first thing we have to do is introduce Gypsy to our two cats. FURFACE and Cleo. FURFACE is Sandi's cat and has been with her since before we met. His original name was Velcro but somehow I called him FURFACE (in capitals) and it stuck. FURFACE and I had a love/hate relationship. I loved him and he hated me. I could pet him twice and then he would turn around and bite me. FURFACE had some major fangs going on too. After all these years he would still take a piece out of my hand after two pets. In bed he slept with his back against Sandi and his feet pushing me away. FURFACE was a very important part or Sandi's life. Cleo was a rescue cat and still very young at that time. Cleo loved FURFACE. These two cats were very special to Sandi and me as well. So, if it is not obvious, the first matter at hand is to introduce Gyp to the cats. But first thing upon our arrival, we let Gypsy out in the back yard to take a pee before the cat introduction. I open the back door from the garage that leads into the backyard. Gypsy, a little black fluff ball, takes a look, and then springs out the door into the yard. When I say spring, I mean like three feet in the air, major air time. And it was a picture perfect spring too with feet neatly tucked, tail vertical, ears flopping, and a big smile on her face. And when she landed she hopped around in circles and stood and stared at us. This yard is great! Sandi and I just looked at each other and were like, what was that? This would begin years of leaping out the back door of the garage. No matter what time it is or rain or snow, she is going to take a major leap out the door into the back yard. It's all about the entrance! Anyway, after a short pit stop, we come inside with her and make the introductions. I don't think I ever told Sandi that it was at this point that I was a bit nervous, I know one growl or snap at the cats and Gypsy would be walking on thin ice. FURFACE did some sniffing but continued to be the alpha male as if he owned the place, Cleo just followed FURFACE around, and Gypsy really could care less about the cats. Those things stink! So while Cleo was following FURFACE around, I followed Gypsy around worried about potty training. Bringing a puppy home is a major thing. They are ready to pee or poop at any given moment. I wanted so badly for Gypsy to do well that I followed her around and every time she went to sit down, I would swoop down, grap her, and put her int he back yard. This was like every 10 minutes. This is when the "go pee" thing started. You know how puppies can mill around when you want them to pee? Like three in the morning and the puppy wants to play in the back yard instead of taking a squat? Every time Gyp would go outside and pee, we would say "go pee" and soon, she was taking a pee on comand. This is a very useful training tip I believe. That is until one day I come home and Sandi is telling me how Gypsy is "fake" peeing now. She would leap out of the garage and upon Sandi telling her to "go pee" she would take the position and just fake it. I don't have to go now Mom... I don't remember Gypsy having one accident in the house. I'd like to say that it was superior training on our part but, I think it was Gypsy wanting to do good.

Potty training was a breeze with Gypsy. No problem at all.

 Another thing we had ready for her when we got home was, a variety of toys. The only thing worse that Gypsy could do besides eat a cat would be to, chew on the furniture, shoe, sock, you name it. So, off we go to the pet store and load up on chew toys, fluffy toys, kongs, balls, squeekee toys, chew ropes, pig ears, Pig ears, how gross is that? and anything else that might keep Gypsy occupied and busy from getting in trouble. Puppies like toys right? Last I checked they played with toys to a state of exhaustion. Gypsy looked at the pile of toys in front of her, a pile larger than she, and picked out one toy, a stuffed dinosaur named Dino to play with. That is it. No playing with stupid balls, kongs, or other toys. Only Dino. This was the beginning of a life long love affair between Gypsy and Dino. I love Dino!
Here is Gypsy with the original Dino. She is about 6 months in this photo. Aren't we cute?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

St. Patricks Day

Growing up in Cleveland St. Patricks day was always a big event. My Mom is a Donovan and always looked forward to the day. Even after I left the house she would always call on the morning of St. Patricks day to wish me well and remind me to wear green. Cleveland always had a huge parade downtown with plenty of green. But, being Cleveland, it was always a cold, wet, or snowy day. This year Maryland, like most of the country was warm and sunny on the big day. Plus, it fell on a Saturday making it even more convenient to go out and wear the green. Gypsy loves going out with us. When we reach for the car keys she gets happy feet and spins in circles like a crazy dog. We had every intention of going downtown and have some lunch outside somewhere and enjoy the day with Gyp. Yard work however, took over. We worked in the yard like crazy people all day long. This was OK for Gypsy too as she loves being in the backyard with us. Actually, she loves being anywhere with us come to think of it. So we dug, trimmed, mowed, raked, did I say dig yet? By the end of the day we were exhausted and decided to chill out at home and enjoy our hard work. Gypsy too was exhausted from a full day of playing. I've never seen a 7(almost) year old dog that likes to play as much as she does.

Gypsy did enjoy a cold Half n Half in honor of my little Irish Mother, Donovan. Have you ever seen a dog smile at a cold beer before?

Friday, March 16, 2012


This being the eve of St. Patricks day I thought I'd share the way I do my corned beef. It's about as easy as it gets.

  • I always buy the flat cut corned beef from the store. I think they are more tender.
  • Take it out of the package and rinse it really good to get all the yuck off it. then pat it dry.
  • Rub the meat down with a good amount of brown sugar. I use Splenda.
  • Add 1 can of Guinness and 1 bottle of Harp. These beers are essential!
  • You can add the little packet of seasoning if you want but you don't have to.
  • I cook mine in the slow cooker for about 6 hours. You can also do it on the stove top.
  • You might have to add a little water after a few hours.

It turns out as tender as it can get. Gypsy isn't a big fan of Corned Beef. She prefers chicken.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

So, we had talked about getting a puppy for some time. I am the dog person and Sandi is the ultimate cat person. I was leaning towards getting a rescue dog from the pound and then we actually started talking about getting a rescue grey hound. That is until Sandi figured out they are trained to run after little furry things like cats. Our good friends had a big standard poodle, Gabe. Until then I never had given a thought of owning a Standard. I always considered them a wimpy dog. Gabe was anything but wimpy. He was a BIG guy, and very athletic known for chasing deer for hours or, taking ownership of a near by golf couse. So, we narrowed our talks on puppy hood down to those that didn't shed. (Cats shed enough) about this stage of the negotiations, off we go to wine country.

I didn't realize that Sandi had called the DC Poodle Club for breeder referals and had put a deposit down on a puppy with a breeder in Northern Virginia. And here we are, pulling into the driveway and I see what turned out to be the Father in a pen in the back with a few other black/tall Standards. Beautiful dogs. I can't believe Sandi was able to pull this off. She even had lengthy talks with the breeder about our life style and the breeder did testing on the puppies to match us with the one that would fit us best. Not sure if I believe all of that but it sounds good. So, I'm kind of in shock and she opens the door and out pour all the puppies. How cute are poodle puppies anyway? We had decided on a female up front and there were two females in the litter. One of them came to me right away, a big, fat, bundle of joy. Licking non stop. This, of course was not the puppy the breeder had selected for us. The other female was not as fat, actually kind of thin with long legs and very calm. She basically sat and stared at me. This was the one the breeder felt fit us best.
Pick me please!!!!!
I don't know if the breeder knew what she was doing matching this particular pup with us but, I knew it was right from the beginning.
Here I am with the new pup

Off the three of us go, headed for home. One big happy family. First we had to celebrate our new family member and we stop at a local winery in Northern Va. and have a bottle of white out in a field with this little black bundle of joy. I was afraid she would take off but, she sat and just watched us drink our wine. Very laid back I'm thinking.
While we were sipping the wine we started the all important name selection process. This turned out to be a pretty easy choice. Sandi has been a BIG Fleetwood Mac fan and here most favorite song is "Gypsy." So here she is:

Don't you think I'm cute???

Saturday, March 10, 2012

I suppose I should start from the beginning.

Seven years ago, Sandi and I went on a great wine tasting vacation to California. A full week of sipping Pinot and seeing some great sites. You know how vacations go though, by the end of the week I was ready to get home and have a nice, relaxing weekend before getting back to reality on Monday morning. So what is the first thing I hear on Saturday morning? "Lets go wine tasting in Virginia today!" Huh?? You have to be kidding me. First off, I want to hang out around the house and secondly, my liver cant take any more abuse. But, being the nice guy I am, I reluctantly agree and off we go on a 2 1/2 hour drive to the beautiful wine country of northern Va. Little did I know that Sandi had something else on her mind besides wine. She had planned a little surprise for me on my birthday!