Wednesday, July 23, 2008


I love fried foods but I hate actually frying things. The snap-crackle of hot oil strikes terror into my very soul. My husband generally gets assigned to any sort of frying that must be done for dinner.

So when I saw a small deep fryer--with a LID!!--at the grocery store, I bought it. The lid goes over the oil while things are cooking, so the oil can't pop out and hurt me. Consequently, I've become a lot less fearful of frying things, and have made delicious calamari and fried shrimp in it so far. Byrd has also enjoyed the deep fryer because he gets to show off his fryer knowledge; apparently when he was a youngster he spent a little time as a fry cook at a fast food restaurant.

And I didn't know this, but according to the deep fryer manual, the oil can be kept in the fryer and reused over and over. However, the instructions also said that to keep the oil in best condition, I should strain out the food particles.

The deep fryer manual said to use a paper filter to strain the oil, but we'd already been to several stores and turned up nothing paper-like except coffee filters. So Byrd and I went to a local kitchen store and got a metal strainer with teeny tiny holes. I agonized quite a bit over the purchase because I wasn't convinced that the strainer would really clean the oil.

Byrd, who had been the proponent of this particular strainer (I'd been considering a smaller one), was apparently intensely curious to see if it would work--to have his purchase choice vindicated. I think that's why, when I asked if he would help me strain the oil, a potentially messy chore that he would ordinarily turn down, he readily agreed. He wanted to receive praise for his good choice if it worked out.

So we were both excited to make dirty oil into clean oil and see how well the strainer would work. I put the strainer over the sink and Byrd poured, and we were both pleased to see that all the little chunks of fried dough from the shrimp and calamari got caught by the strainer.

"Wow, that strainer works great! The oil is so clean!" I exclaimed as we watched the oil slide through the strainer.

Then Byrd and I both realized simultaneously that we'd forgotten to put a container under the strainer to catch the cleaned oil. The clean oil we were admiring snaked across the bottom of our sink and oozed down the drain--leaving us with a strainer full of greasy fried crumbles.

I don't think we've laughed that hard in quite a while.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Time flies when you're procrastinating

Attention, Public:
I am going to sit down and write one webpage per day until the entire Stop BSL site rework is complete.
This is a project I have been picking at for months without making headway, so I'm just going to make this public commitment right here and now, in hopes that fear of public humiliation will keep me on track.
The site has needed a facelift for a long time. Today I was checking links, and half of them didn't work. Oh, the shame! Anyway, I've never liked the design and I know how to do better now, not to mention all the new resources I need to add in.
On top of that, recently my sad site has gotten some extra attention (you know who you are, and I thank you for your kindness, and apologize for the state of the site). And I just noticed today that the AVMA links to my site! Holy cow, the AVMA! I'm so embarrassed!
Yes, it's time. I'm doing it. ETA end of August.
Sincerely yours,

Friday, July 18, 2008

Memories of early days

Yesterday while housecleaning I found old home movies on VHS tapes, so I popped them in to see what they were about.

Lo and behold, there was a very young, fit, agile Felanie prancing on the TV. For a minute, it hurt, but then I laughed because she was being chased around and bitten by our rescued duck, Fred, another family member that has since left us.

Fred was a tiny yellow duckling that got dumped at a pet store some time after Easter; the pet store gave him to me, and until he was full-grown, he lived in our house--we had just moved in and we were remodeling it while living there, another event fully covered by the home movies--and he hung out with two pit bulls, two prairie dogs, and a rabbit. While he was little, he swam in our bathtub.

After he became full-sized, we transferred Fred to the backyard and provided him with a baby pool for his swimming pleasure. Fred also matured in other ways; he became a large, intimidating fellow that, frankly, everyone preferred to admire from afar--because if he was able to get close enough, he would bite and nip anything that moved. We never had stray cats in our yard with Fred guarding it. He also honked very loudly if he saw an unfamiliar person or animal in the yard--a great watchduck. I often considered replacing the "Beware of Dog" sign on the fence with "Beware of Duck."

His love of biting is fully evident on the tape, and it's quite funny now that the painful memories have been muted by time. He bites Taz (my ex-roommate's pit bull, also no longer with us) and Felanie, and attacks my toes with dozens of sharp pecks. I pry his beak off my toes with my hands, or kick at him to knock him loose. The dogs are much nicer to him. Even when he clamps onto the loose skin on Felanie's throat and twists hard, she just stands there and waits for him to get bored. It obviously hurts, but Fel accepts it. Taz play-bows and dances around Fred, then runs in terror when he launches an assault on her paws. A few times, he chases the dogs as they play with a stick, and even attacks Felanie, apparently for control of the stick; Felanie drops the stick and flees without qualms, though she later steals it back while Fred is preening himself.

My precious Felanie looks good on the tape. This is very soon after she became my dog. She's young, and all her fur is a beautiful tan/red color that matches her nose. No gray hair, no scars from surgeries--and her natural long tail. She looks naked; the color and detail in the video is off just enough that her fur looks like skin.

There's a long segment where the dogs are playing in the hose. Felanie jumps and leaps and races around, chasing the water stream, and now I remember what inspired me to start us in agility classes. She was really lithe and athletic until she started having hip problems some years later. At some other point she races around a pile of debris in the yard (from the remodeling project) and in her enthusiasm, she crashes into a particularly sharp-looking piece of something; now I reflect on the events leading up to her tail crop some years later.

At one point I'm on film--the camera is on a tripod--and I'm having Taz and Felanie do tricks on the living room floor (oh, the horrors of pre-remodel salmon pink carpet!). After the tricks are done, I kneel down on the floor, Felanie comes to sit in front of me, and I embrace her entire body against my chest in a bear hug. She's almost as big as I am.

Watching the video, I can almost feel my old dog in my arms again, like a phantom limb. At this moment I am painfully jealous of my on-screen counterpart. She doesn't know how lucky she is. To the TV, I whisper: "Don't let her go."

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


I have a daily tear-away calendar on my desk called "Pooped Puppies" that shows one picture of a pooped puppy per day. Aside from my disappointment with these sorts of all-breed calendars because pit bulls are rarely featured--they mostly show Golden Retrievers and fluffy dogs of various sorts--I'm particularly disappointed by this one because, based on the title of the calendar, one would expect to see lots of tired, sleepy, adorable widdle puppies.

Yet every few weeks, I see a picture like the one for today--what appears to be a tired, sleepy, not-so-adorable adult black Lab mix. Or the one a few weeks ago which was a tired, sleepy, adult Bloodhound (besides, don't most Bloodhounds look sleepy even when they're not?). Or one which featured a cute little puppy that was decidedly not pooped. And then of course there are photos of toy dogs. Sure, they're small, but that doesn't make them puppies.

Oh well, the calendar was a gift anyway. All the calendars I've bought for myself are pit bull rescue calendars. That way, I get my fill of cute pit bulls, and my money supports a worthy cause.

Other recent events:

One of Dozer's innocuous skin tumors bled everywhere, prompting a rushed trip to the vet for a giant bandage (he's okay and the tiny hole healed up on its own, no worries, but my carpet is stained, sigh).

I got something the doctor thinks is tracheitis--an infection of the trachea--which involves difficulty breathing, fever, swollen throat, and all that fun stuff. So I'm on antibiotics, steroids, and some sort of throat-numbing lozenge. And I actually feel great. In your face, germ or virus!

We discovered that Byrd has a serious fear of flying. When we attempted to take a short flight (45 minutes) to Houston this weekend, he couldn't even get on the plane. We were planning to go to New Zealand/Australia in September, but that has been called off because of this new development. It's a 17 hour flight and the trip itself is about $5K per person, and I don't want to risk that much money if Byrd can't even make it past the gate. We'll probably substitute with a different sort of vacation that won't require flying. That's not to say we won't go to NZ/Aus in the future, but first Byrd will need to overcome his anxiety issues and take some short flights.

BSL is stirring in Texas. Several cities are trying to (or have) passed BSL in spite of Texas state law, which prohibits BSL. And several more cities plan to ask the legislature to remove that particular state law so they can pass BSL legally. Cities in the Dallas area seem to be pushing the hardest. Makes me sick to think about the consequences if the anti-BSL clause gets dropped out of state law. It'll be like Ohio or Iowa before we know it.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Dozer on YouTube

Happy Pit Bull has its own YouTube channel now, which means... videos of Dozer!

No, don't groan loudly and roll your eyes! (At least, not until you've seen the video...)

Now I just need to recruit some friends or family members to help me get some more footage. Stay tuned for planned episodes like "Dozer Makes a Mess," "Dozer Helps Put Away Groceries," and "Dozer Plays Until He Drops."

Happy 4th!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Evidence of insanity

My dog is looney-tunes. The proof is irrefutable and I have pictures to prove it.

The heat here is unbearable; well over twenty days above 100 degrees, only just this week dropping to a slightly-less-unbearable mid-90s. Our backyard grass passed away quietly some time ago (since the front yard grass was just planted, we are actually watering that every other day, causing our water bill to be upwards of $100 this month). The resulting savannah in the back swirls with the occasional hot dust storm. It feels like being inside a clothes dryer, minus the tossing part. I would not be shocked to see flying birds burst into flames at any moment.

Sensible humans (and animals) spend the day indoors, and failing the ability to be indoors, any shady spot will do. All the neighborhood outdoor dogs have common sense and stay in the shade.

My poor dumb dog demands to go outside every day at noon. He wants it, he loves it, he expects it. I get up to make a sandwich and he dashes for the back door. I let him out and he strolls out, like a white tiger surveying his domain, and sinks down regally into the crackling yellow grass in the sunniest possible spot, basking like a giant Sphinx. Sometimes he even sits on the porch, which I find utterly insane, because during the day, the porch is so hot I can't touch it barefoot without screaming in agony. Dozer might as well have a relaxing nap on hot coals.

There he sits, gazing into space, or I should say squinting into space because the sun is blinding, until I force him to come back in (about ten minutes later) before he gets overheated or sunburned. I mean, the dog's white as can be. I've seen him sunburned; he looks rather like a moldy tomato, with his bright red skin glowing through the white fur.

But I suppose the daily baking incinerates any fleas that are foolish enough to hang on him...