Thursday, January 31, 2013

reactions to snow

we got the first dusting of snow here last night. the 3 dogs have very different reactions to it. 

eli is standing guard, checking things out, making sure nothing is missing or gained.

sentry eli

nacho is waddling along next to me with gullet flapping, looking like the sweet gentle father chrismas of dogs.

and pouncey? well pouncey and his icicle whiskers are PLAYING! WHEEEEEEEEEEEE!

snow pouncey

Monday, January 28, 2013

more snuggling dogs

for the first time in almost 7 years, i changed the header on this blog.

i'm not big on change!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

pouncey panorama

photo by kevin!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

what breeds make up your dog?

last year kevin's sister did the DNA dog test to figure out what her "lab mix" birdie was really made of.

turns out she is not a labrador retriever whatsoever, but she is a fox terrier and american bull dog. that explains a lot of her behavior. poor little birdie.

birdie wants to play frisbee

after being asked by a man in the woods "is that dog mostly lab with a little pit?" about pouncey, we decided to test all 3 dogs and see if pouncey is in fact a pit bull.

they send you a swab kit, with 2 swabs, you rub each one in between the dog's gum and cheek, send them back, and in 2 weeks your results are ready.

something went wrong

nacho was the control. nacho has his papers. even though he was massively discounted due to his labrador overbite, and looks a little funny, he's a full blooded lab from decoy labs in oxnard california.

DNA test - confirmed!

next up, eli. kevin got eli from a litter down the street in charlotte. he doesn't have papers. he was supposed to be all lab, and he pretty much looks like a lab and acts like a lab. but he has a white 'star' on his chest, so something doesn't quite add up.

eli's star

turns out eli is MOSTLY lab.

but hellloooo otterhound!

please meet elidoggy, our little doberman spaniel. he is happy to be related to his cousin henry the king charles spaniel.

last but not least was pouncey the potential pit bull. unfortunately they were unable to get clear results from pouncey's swabs. they are sending another kit for a re-test.

stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

dogs in cuba

dont touch the animalsthere were many sweet dogs in the streets in havana. most of them looked like a 10-20 lb mutt combination of dachshund wiener dog, papillon, terrier, and/or cocker spaniel.

puppy snuggles

there were certain dogs who lived in certain city squares. some had paper tags around their neck saying that they lived in that square and had been neutered.

every day i saw cuban people giving food to street dogs. styrofoam platters of yellow rice sat on the sidewalks next to hotels. a woman brought steaming rice in wet newspaper to this pup in the park, and then walked away. it seemed like even the mangy ones were being taken care of.

mangy dog with free lunch

our cuban tour guide lived in a small apartment by himself and had a dog. he said the dog was 19 years old (maybe another cuban myth) and he fed the dog the same food as he fed himself. not his scraps, he made extra of everything he cooked and fed his dog at the same time.

the main adjective i would use to describe the dogs i met is MELLOW. they weren't friendly, as in coming up to greet a stranger friendly, but if you went up to them, they didn't mind, and wagged their tails. there was no jumping or freaking out, like pouncey puppy perrito would have been doing. no chasing, not much barking. just kind of sitting around. this was the cutest dog gang in havana.

cutest dog gang in havana

their fur felt like steel wool.

i saw one and only one labrador retriever who looked like nacho. he was being walked on a leash.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

service dog puppy live cam

the cutest site on the internet:

Misty's Pups - Nursery Cam

Meet Misty's litter of future service puppies. These five Labrador Retriever pups were born on December 28th and have already begun very important work — helping to heal the invisible wounds of our Nation’s Combat Veterans. Recovering Service Members at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the National Intrepid Center of Excellence in Bethesda, MD are engaged in the critical task of socializing the pups through puppy petting. The litter will spend the next two years lifting the spirits of Wounded Warriors and giving them a therapeutic and purposeful mission. By volunteering to train the pups through the Warrior Canine Connection program, these Warriors will both address their symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress and prepare the pups for future lives as service dogs for their disabled comrades.

baseball in cuba


baseball is the national pastime in cuba. there were pick up games going on all day in every park.

baseball game white vs. white

in the middle of the havana streets, little boys played "taco" - stickball using a cut off broomstick for a bat and plastic water bottle cap for a ball.

kids baseball team

i never saw a girl playing.

on friday night kevin, his parents, and i went to a baseball game. without internet it was hard to determine if there was a game, and what time. we heard it might be cancelled because the stadium lights were broken. the stadium (estadio latino americano) is located in a rougher, darker, part of town. we got in a taxi and said "beisbol? pelota? estadio?" and the cab driver started yelling "beisbol! beisbol!" and was pretty sure there was no game that night and the stadium would be dark.

latino americano bench

we drove up and the floodlights were on and the game was on and starting at 8pm and excited fans were going inside. we were (nicely) directed by police to go buy tickets at a window charging $3 instead of $1 that locals paid, and ushered to seats on the visitors side through the farthest gate away.

el leon azul (blue lion)

the local havana team is called the industriales. their mascot is a blue lion, and they are like the yankees of the cuban league. they were playing the cigar makers from pinar del rio.

fired up crowd

the stadium was big. and clean. and full of energy. and people. and people blowing vuvuzelas. air horns. there were drummers. non-stop. we walked around the entire stadium, and it was on the verge of out of control going through the home team side. they did not serve beer, which kept it from having a hooligan feel.  it was exciting.

kevin was impressed with the pitching. 

30 second video of the scene:

we had to meet people in old havana at 930, so after the 3rd inning the 4 of us left and went into the street and kind of wandered looking for non-existent taxis. a few older men were sitting on a corner stoop, saw us and said "taxi?"  we hesitantly followed him down a dark alley and got into his small old honda civic-like car after he shooed a cat out of the front seat. he was not a taxi driver, he was a man with a car looking for some tourist cash. the gas light was flashing and his brights were on as he drove us over potholes back to town. we gave him $10.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

8 days in havana cuba

if it seems i have been off the map lately, it's true. i spent 8 days in havana, cuba, where US cell phones and credit cards do not work, and the internet is sparse and difficult to access.

feliz año 2013

it was the first time since 1994 that i have gone an entire week without checking email. slightly refreshing, slightly alienating.

kevin's dad has wanted to go to cuba for decades, and online research led him to a cuban arts and culture tour run by a US college professor, they booked it, invited us along, and there we were 2 days after christmas in the miami airport boarding an unmarked charter plane for a communist country.

unmarked plane back to the USA

the weather was endlessly perfecto. 70-80 degrees and not a drop of rain.

the air was deplorable. many of the cars driving around the streets are from the 40's and 50's and have no catalytic converters, the newer cars and buses were just as bad, and the smell of carbon monoxide exhaust was omnipresent and overpowering. everything was covered in a dingy gray film.

horse & buggy vs. autobus
we were on a tour (and tourbus) with 20 other americans. the group tour thing can be tough, especially for people used to having control, but we really lucked out and everybody was flexible and positive and intelligent. the bus was newer and comfortable, though it smelled of stale cigarettes and urinal cakes. i may be overly sensitive to air quality. i would not recommend an extended trip to havana to anybody with respiratory illness.

agua potable
potable water. our tour bus in the background.

we were told not to drink the water, or eat produce washed in the water. for somebody who would be thrilled to have salad and only salad to eat every day, this was a challenge. most of my meals were chicken and rice, most of my vitamins came from the peppermint in the mojitos.

the buildings are made of concrete because it is cheap and resistant to hurricanes. many buildings are in ruins. the ones not in ruins are painted vibrantly and kept neat. the streets are treated like a garbage can. littering was rampant. there were also many street cleaners so it didn't accumulate, but it's still jarring to see people throwing trash on the ground 4 feet from a dumpster.

tidy mint green

the people in havana are not aggressive or hostile. i did not see one person who seemed strung out on drugs. didn't even catch a whiff of weed. (sad face). seems like rum, rum, rum is the drug of choice. 

mojitos at el nacional

the street dogs were awesome.

dreaming dog

more stories and photos to come.

(found this cuban woman's blog last night: which speaks out against the human rights violations, repression, and censorship cubans are experiencing under the castro regime. not surprisingly, we were exposed to very little of this sentiment on our state-sponsored tour.)