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Farmer’s Tan. It’s not just for summer anymore.

What do you get when you cross a Golden with a Labrador?

This, people.  You get a photobomb that you didn’t notice in the tiny viewfinder of your Canon. A cursory glance at the image might even net you that warm feeling that accompanies the camera’s promise of a rather nice shot.

Then you download the memory card onto your laptop and you now find yourself gifted with the pale, almost not there, but yep, there she is, that’s not a ghost photo bomb.

My handsome golden retriever appears to have developed a white-ish rear end. Perhaps one of them stylin’ Lion Cuts. With the unfortunate result of exposing a farmer’s tan.

In winter. Go fig.

Take a sec here and place your thumb over the tip of plume tail creeping above Micron’s noggin.

There. Now do you see it too?

It’s not just me, right?


With the wind at our backs

Things are looking good here at the Sheraton.
No sign of Irene yet

Well, we’ve heeded the dire warnings and changed the flight back to Dayton to an earlier time. Hurricane Irene has successfully chased us out of town.

It’s the right thing to do for me and Yax, but I can’t get past the disappointment of missing the second day of BlogPaws ’11.

We have time to fit in one more networking breakfast and have the serendipitous luck to share a table with the founders of the PetWiki website – what a treat. Then back to the room to perform the magical act of fitting everything from the generous BlogPaws swag bag contents into my humble little carry-on suitcase.

It’s not like I had the wisdom to travel light to begin with and now I’m stuffing literature, dog treat samples and squeaky toys in there. Oh, why did I bring those extra shoes? I didn’t even wear them. In fact, I don’t even like them that much. Vexations.

This rolling carry-on is a veteran and has survived many an adventure with me. A trusted protector of my essentials of life. Don’t fail me now, rolly bag. Lay on your back and suck in your gut now, here goes the zipper. Laptop and and a handful of dog treats go in the shoulder bag and we’re on our way.

An uneventful shuttle ride to Dulles where we print off our boarding pass and head to TSA.  Now the security check went rather smoothly when we departed Dayton. I was hoping for a similar experience at Dulles, but this was not to be our destiny this day.

Yaxley and I step through the metal detector together. Beep. Ok, go back through one at a time. I’m clear, but Yax’s bling sets it off again. It would be crazy talk to remove his collar, just not gonna happen. So what to do?

Doggy pat down, that’s what. Yax gets a quick, but efficient pat down by a TSA agent. Really, it’s true. And you know, he sat there like he gets a body massage with latex gloves every day of the week. Good dog, Yax. The only things in his cape pockets are spare poop bags and a ziplock baggie of damp papers towels. These are not identified as a risk to national security, so we are released to pick up my rolly bag and other stuff on the belt.

Ruh-roh. It’s not there. My shoes, my laptop and cell phone – there they are in the plastic tote.  But where’s rolly bag?  Still being examined apparently. I see the agent there, squinting her eyes at the screen. Ugh, I wonder what countless bags of dog treats and a half dozen squeaky toys look like on an x-ray anyway.  Please don’t make me open the thing, I think. Rolly bag somewhat resembles a tapestry version of a well-fed tick. I have a very real fear that once all goodies are exposed to the light of day, I may not be able to zip it back up again.

The TSA agent either figures out the contents or simply just gives up and I get my rolly bag back. And we’re off on our quest to find the United gate. Not quite like Frodo’s trek to Mount Doom, but Yax, rolly bag and I are still challenged with one-floor-at-a-time elevators, trains, a moving walkway and a lot of just plain old-fashioned power walking.

While Yaxley sits for a photo shoot at the train, I get to talk to a fella who knows another CCI puppy raiser in Florida – small world. As we walk through the terminal, I overhear the occasional  look at the dog. It’s just like traveling with a celebrity, it is.

I kinda wanted all those ice cubes

And there’s our gate! Woo-hoo and all that. Between the Odyssean journey to get here, the overstuffed bag, and my anxiety about the flight being cancelled due to the hurricane, I’m now sweating like a hot house tomato. But good luck is ours and there’s a Wendy’s where I can grab an iced tea for me and cup of ice for Yax.

We sit, set our drinks on the carpet and situate the bags. As I’m digging in the shoulder bag for a dog toy for Yax to entertain himself with during the wait, the rolly bag tips over like a new pledge on frat night. And lands on my Wendy’s Large Iced Tea.

Crushed! Aargh, iced tea and ice cubes all over the carpet. Really, rolly bag?  After everything we’ve been through together, you would go and do me like this? Well, Yax. Looks like you’re gonna be sharing your ice cubes, thanks very much.

A kind and thoughtful fellow passenger brings some paper towels from the ladies room. Ah, thanks. It’s nice to know that not only can I count on someone to lend a hand in my klutzy moments, but I also have the comfort of knowing there was a credible eyewitness to this lack of grace.

It begins to rain outside, the cue that it’s time to drag our luggage outside to get on the pencil plane. I’ve already lost my street cred with my fellow passengers over the iced tea incident.  Now here I am, faced with:

  • Rain
  • Wet metal stairs to get to the tarmac
  • Overstuffed suitcase that is surely over the weight limit for carry-on, but no one checked on it
  • A dog
Kinda reminds me of your driving, Food Lady

I’m standing at the top of the stairs as the plane idles on the tarmac. I may as well just throw the rolly bag down to the tarmac, because I sure as heck can’t get down the stairs with it and the dog. I would, actually, do that. But I only have one hand due to the dog leash and can’t even lift the bloated thing to throw it. I mean the rolly bag, of course. Not the dog. Although, I can’t lift him with one hand either.

No shortage of kind passengers on this trip. A fellow notices that I’m about to either seriously harm myself or take out the poor lady in front of me as I tumble down the stairs. He asks if he can of help. Oh yes! Thank you my knight in a white t-shirt. Please!

I leave the rolly bag where it squats like a little tapestry covered troll. Give Yaxley a let’s go and we tromp down the steps; a vision of grace and confidence. Behind me I hear a grunt and Holy [bad word], this is heavy!  Yeah, no kidding, cowboy. But thanks.

From here, things start to look up. It seems most folk had the sense to skip town already, so the pencil with a jet engine is only half full. Yaxley and I can have two seats together. He curls up to recharge his batteries over the next hour.

The pilot announces that we’re leaving two hours ahead of Irene’s landfall in the DC area. So I guess we timed this pretty well after all. But still – I’m missing BlogPaws Day Two. Blast that instinctual need for self-preservation. 

Good-bye Irene

Back in the small but mighty Dayton Airport (one elevator, no trains!), we are met with sunshine and puffy clouds. A gorgeous afternoon here at home with two feet and four paws back on Ohio soil. My car is stored at Westwind Limo’s lot, so I give them a call  to come pick up the chick with dog.

Ridin’ in style in the Westwind Limo.
Nothing but the best for this yellow dog.

And our BlogPaws ’11 adventure is done.

New friends and new memories – the stuff of life. Now to plan for next year and you know, I can’t wait.  I hear they don’t have hurricanes in Salt Lake City.

So. Where y’all from?

Yaxley defends his adorableness

There’s some buzz going around about Hurricane Irene. I’m hearing about impending cancelled flights and folk are scrambling to change their travel plans.

Oh [bad word here].  I just got to DC yesterday afternoon after struggling with United and their cancelled flights and there’s still a whole nuther action packed day of BlogPaws ’11 tomorrow.  Word on the street is that if you don’t get out of DC by noon tomorrow, then you’re in it for the long haul.

I have absolutely no plans to change my flight, I say. We’re going to skip out of here on a 10ish flight tomorrow night. And it’s that simple.  Don’t be jazzing me up with all this hurricane talk.  I’ve been looking forward to this whole conference for months and it was just way too much like work just to get here yesterday.

So yeah. During a break in my hotel room, I turn on the news channel. See the projected hurricane path in all its glory. The Husband calls with his concerns. My resolve starts to melt.  ugh.

My peripheral vision catches a paper as it’s slipped under my door. The hotel bill, I think. But no, it’s the emergency procedures in case of a power outage in the hotel.

Power outage? I’m on the 17th floor of the Sheraton.

With a dog.

Being a deep thinker, here are my options as I see things:

Plan A 

Keep my late night flight tomorrow and risk it being cancelled. I could finish the conference. But I could also be stranded at the airport. For who knows how long. With a dog.

Plan B

Change my flight to a Sunday departure and risk it being delayed until Monday. That means I’m toileting a dog in 70 mph hurricane winds (aim downwind, Yax honey).  And let’s not forget the power outage warning. 

Plan C

Leave DC tomorrow afternoon to get Yaxley and me home safe and sound.

Alrighty then., here we come.  Fine, we’ll catch a flight out tomorrow early afternoon, darn it all.

But tonight is ours. Yaxley and I decide to make the most of it.  We’re going to the movies!

Yax and I are off to see a premiere showing of Disney’s Spooky Buddies. Five golden retriever puppies in a Halloween adventure. Dressed in costumes! Score!

Spooky Buddies is the latest in a series of puppy adventures. Now how did this get past me? How could I not have known about the Buddies franchise?

(Image courtesy of Disney)

These are talking golden retriever puppies, for goodness sakes. Check your glucose levels, folk. We’re headin’ for a sugar rush.

B-Dawg, Budderball, Rosebud, Buddha, and Mudbud. Ridiculously adorable, the whole lot of them.

(Image courtesy of Disney)
(Image courtesy of  Disney)

Now I’ve survived sitting through some rather horrific kid movies (any Pokemon moms out there?) and have even taken a CCI pup to see a film.

But I’ve never been to a movie where the audience interacted by barking at the on-screen action. Now people, that’s what I call a good time. While Yaxley and his new corgi friends were sharing a nylabone, other dogs were watching the pups on screen and wanting to join in on the chase. Silly and fun. No thoughts of Hurricane Irene for a couple of fully entertaining hours.

The writer/director, Robert Vince, was on hand afterwards for a Q&A.  Ah, I’m in. I think I’m in  love with these Buddies. Nieces and nephews be forewarned; guess what you’re getting for Christmas? No, not a puppy. DVD’s, kids.

As if things couldn’t get any better, the Disney folk brought in a golden retriever pup in B-Dawg’s character. Live and in fur and available for a photo op. Completely jazzed, Yax and I took a number and stood in line only to find out that the photos are with people only. Sadly, no dogs allowed in with B-Dawg.  And since the camera insists on adding fifty pounds on me in every photo, we gave our regrets.

But you guys have to see this puppy. Just look at this, let your mind drift. You can almost smell the puppy breath from here.

Animal handler, Mark Forbes, with B-Dawg.
(photo courtesy Brad Smith Photography)

Oh, and yeah, that guy is the animal coordinator for the Buddies. That’s Mark Forbes, a much in demand animal handler in the film industry (Dr. Doolittle, 101 Dalmatians). Sure, he’s a famous guy and a pretty nice fellow, too. And that’s why I won’t hold the no-dogs-near-the-puppy rule against him.

But still.  Yaxley is just a bit unhinged about all the cooing over the bunny ears and all. He is insistent on maintaining his honor as the best looking dog in the room.  Any room, he says, it doesn’t matter. He needed the photo op to prove his point.

So we get one better. Yax puts his good looks up against all five golden retriever pups, plus a ghost beagle.

Hello, ladies. Look at the puppies, now back to me, now back
at the puppies, now back to me.

Sadly, they aren’t me, but if they were just outside
in the rain,  they could smell like they’re me.

Next post – chased home by a hurricane.

ADDENDUM Sept 16 2011

Ok, so it’s come to my attention that not everyone gets my Old Spice Guy reference in the Yaxley photo caption above. This, my friends, is where I was going with thought.

Hello, ladies. Look at your man. Now back to me . . 

Well played, Old Spice ad people. Still makes me laugh.

Dog Pawty by Martha

You had me at cheesecake

So Yax and I get a lunch invitation to the PetSmart Suite Pawty at BlogPaws. Not sure how we scored this prestigious invitation. Because of my influential blogging style? Of how I reach out to my modest yet dedicated readership (thanks, Mom!)?  My good looks? My dog’s good looks? Nah, all unlikely. Best guess is that Yax and I were just picked at random.

But another person’s randomness is our good fortune, cuz we had a blast. We rubbed noses with other celebrity pet bloggers, like the adorable Preston (of Preston Speaks). We, of course, means Yaxley. Being a supporter of appropriate personal space, I stuck with the more socially acceptable handshake among my peers.

The famous and photogenic Preston.
Check his blog out at Preston Speaks
Sure, I’m cute. It’s not like I can just
turn it off or something.

And the PetSmart folk showed us the new line of Martha Stewart branded stuff. We were among the first to see the new cat toys and bedding, and we got a great look at the dog toys for Fall.

Dog toys for what? Pay attention, now.  This is Martha Stewart stuff.  Of course there’s a Fall line. And it’s some cute and clever dogs toys, too.

Martha has Halloween covered as well, with not just dog costumes, but matching toys to go with the theme of things.  A witch costume can be matched with a frog squeaky toy; the vampire has a fanged bat companion, the skeleton, a skull ball. I think you see where this is going. Cleverly played, Martha.

Monster dog costume. Or maybe it’s a myopic dragon. I dunno.

Being a professional victim, Jager suffers the annual Halloween dress-up.  Sometimes it’s absolutely wrong, and still ridiculously funny, like Halloween 2009’s Banana Dog.

Aw, come on. It could’ve been worse.
Not sure how, though. Give me a minute
to think of something.

Other years, I may experience a change of heart and allow him a costume where he doesn’t have to carry his dignity on a stick. Halloween 2010 brought us the fearsome Jager Warg. (any LOTR fans out there?)

On to Gondor, you ferocious and smelly warg,
I’ve a craving for hobbit stew.

Apparently Martha knows me better than I thought with her snappy little dog costumes. I chose the devil costume from the selection available and, being the rebel that I am, picked a fanged bat dog toy to go with it.

Sadly, the thing doesn’t fit Jager. So a heads up on sizes, folk. Looks like a Large is really a Medium.  Because Jager looks like he’s wearing a red sock with wings.  It’s just a little bit too tight, kinda like an evil bloated tick.

Keeping in mind the poor dog’s dignity, I’m not even going to post a photo of it.  Yeah, that’s how bad it is.  Worse than Banana Dog.  But here’s a shot from PetSmart’s website. If you got a pug, this would be pretty cute.

To promote the Martha Stewart Fall line, PetSmart was generous in offering some of their dog toys to the bloggers at the Suite Pawty.  Yaxley picked out his favorites and we’ll run through a review of them here.

Scored me some squeaky toys
Goggles the Raccoon

Goggles’ info tag claims this round headed fella as a fleece tug toy for healthy teeth and gums. Of the toys we brought home, this was the paws down favorite for Yaxley and Micron. And the critter lasted through some energetic playtime fully intact.

Downside: not a good toy for the office. Apparently the robust squeak can be heard at about a hundred yards away. So says a co-worker through an instant message.

Otherwise, the raccoon critter gets a Thumbs Up from me.

Squeak that thing, Yax!

The Bull Rope Toy

A cow says [squeaky squeaky squeaky]

This one was more my choice than Yaxley’s. I liked the rope legs and pictured my dogs grabbing a rope each and playing tug with each other.

What I didn’t picture was the two of them dressing the thing for the butcher shop.
A cow says [ow]
Darn that squeaker. After they dehorned the hapless bovine, the dogs eviscerated the thing looking for the elusive squeaker. And I don’t think it’s a bull anymore, know what I mean?
On the plus side, the legs are still securely on it.
If you have aggressive chewers, then this one gets a Thumbs Down.
Squirrel and Acorns

So after the unfortunate cow disembowelment, I’m feeling a little cautious with this guy.

A couple of reasons, one being that the acorns look small enough for my big dogs to choke on.  And the other concern is that my immature mind can’t get past the removable acorn thing.  Sure, it’s a clever idea, that the dog can pull the acorns from the tree rat’s belly.

Those are his acorns, people.

 But honestly, and you may not really need to know this about me, when I had the squirrel in one hand and those two acorns in the other, my brain went south. [Insert random middle school joke here.]

Sorry, Martha. It’s just how I roll.  So points for the “added strength for aggressive chewers,” but we’ll have to pass this one on to a smaller dog that won’t choke on the squirrel’s, um, acorns.

Ok really. It’s not just me, is it?

Mugsie the Hedgehog
Another winner here with Mugsie. Like the squirrel, Mugsie is identified as a toy for aggressive chewers, a “plush toy for chewing and teething.”  A close second favorite of the dogs, right after the raccoon.  Even Jager likes this thing.

Instead of a squeaker, Mugsie has a sound chip that makes a chirring, chirping kinda sound that the dogs find interesting to engage. Over and over.  

Make it chirp again, Yaxley.
Yea! Again!  
Chirp it, Yax!

And so it goes for the evening. In spite of the rapt attention it garners, this critter makes it fully intact through the night. The sound chip had them so mystified, the hedgehog saw the next sunrise with ears and nose still in place. Just a bit stiff from the lab slobber mousse job.

A Thumbs Up for Mugsie and his sound chip.

Takes a licking and keep on chirping.

Now I’m sure it didn’t escape your attention that I went all out for the Fall line photo shoot. I found some dead leaves in the yard and set these toys up on our rustic (read: rotting) back porch steps. Martha would be so proud of me, doncha think? When I’m done here, I’m off to knit a table runner out of dryer lint or something.

Next BlogPaws post will be on a movie screening just for us bloggers. Puppies and a Halloween theme. How did I not know about this before?  And why did I not get down there earlier for the open bar?

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