Herding Dogs

After a ton of research yesterday and this morning, I’ve deduced, what many have already suggested both here and while out walking Bella, that she is part herding dog. More specifically, I believe she is part border collie. Her quirks, behavior at the park, behavior while we’re out walking—the way she acts is very common among border collies and other herding dogs.

One example: whenever we’re out and we see another dog approaching, she will crouch down in a stalking position, almost like a lion. It never amounts to any sort of aggression, and once the dog approaches, she stands up, wags her tail and begins to play (or sniff its ass, naturally). This is very common, I am told, with border collies.

We know she is at least a small part corgi, so I will research those dogs as well. But her personality seems to be more border collie-like and I think that will help me train her.

I’m writing (AGAIN!) today to ask for any assistance. Do you have a herding dog? Do you have a border collie? If so, maybe you can give me some pointers or send me some links to books that worked for you. Today I plan on immersing myself in information about border collies and other herding dogs. I think if I can approach her in a way she understands, we’ll attain success at a much quicker rate.

However, if you think I’m crazy, do let me know. I’m ok with that as well. :]

Lastly, thanks for calming me down yesterday. Her behavior, if she is indeed a herding dog (and I really think she is), makes much more sense to me today. I think she sees Em as her sheep. If I can teach her that he is not indeed livestock, we will be able to move from there. However, she also plays with him more than any of us, and seems to like him the most so maybe I’m wrong about how she sees him. I’m learning!

(It just now occurs to me, that I am becoming a “Doggie Blogger”? But that’s just because it’s all so new to me, much like being a mom used to be. I will return to some cat nonsense shortly. Because Murray USED THE TOILET Y’ALL! ON HIS OWN ACCORD! I MUST SHARE.)

Eating Crow. More Help Needed.

I’m freaking out a bit. I start with that. I just took Bella to the dog park. I took Em too. (The calm one. Six people there, four dogs.) Things were going well and then Bella got a bit crazy, started running in circles. Fairly normal, or so I was told by a kind man at the park. She went around once, Em was in the middle, she tapped him with her paw. Came around again and this time basically attacked him. I mean, it wasn’t like a tear your face off sort of thing, but she grabbed his shirt with her teeth and tore it. She didn’t break the skin, but she scared him to pieces. I of course ran over to stop her, held her down and said, “NO!” She immediately bellied up. Done. No wildness left at all.

I don’t want to make it sound terrible, but I don’t want to make it sound OK either.

I don’t know what to do. This is not OK. I know this much. But we do NOT have a lot of money right now to pay a trainer. I am kind of freaking out here.

I called BARC to let them know. I also left a message with their dog trainer. I get one free session for adopting her. I will do that.

I really wish I knew more about dogs. I am eating crow here, people. I believed I could do this on my own. I feel very irresponsible. I just feel awful. What was I thinking? I know nothing about dogs.

Is this normal? I haven’t any idea. Bella is currently snoozing next to me, calm and sweet as can be. I feel like I fucked up, people.

Puppy Bites. Help?

I need your help, dog people. Living with Bella has been great. Things are going really well with the potty training, walks, routine. She is a sweet dog. There are a few things I could use help with, however. I know I should probably hire a dog trainer or something, but money is a bit tight right now so I am trying to do some of this on my own.


Sometimes she bites. It’s not aggressive, I don’t think. But honestly, I can’t be sure. I haven’t ever lived with a dog. I know nothing about dogs. But I am pretty sure it’s a puppy thing. And a few other dog owners have reassured me that she’s not aggressive. It’s that she goes too far because she just doesn’t know. Twice now, she’s been playing with another pup and that puppy has let out a squeal. I know this is the way they say, “TOO HARD!” but what can I do to curb this? Can I? Is she too old for that type of lesson? (She’s about 10 months old. We think.) Is this because of her past? Will she overcome that? Can she?

She does it with Em as well. Em is her absolute favorite person. He is her playmate. She is happiest with Em. And he adores her too. They play together. But sometimes she gets TOO excited and she’ll nip at him. And he gets freaked out and scared and runs off. And that makes her chase him more because she thinks he’s playing.

I’m told that no biting is OK when training a puppy and you need to bark and she’ll lick your “wound” letting you know she’s sorry. So we’re working on that. But I don’t know how this works with other dogs and their walkers. I am such a newb. I don’t want to piss anyone off. I also want EVERYONE to like my dog! :]

I seriously doubt she’s an aggressive dog. You would never see her and think, MEAN DOG! BEWARE! but I do want her to stop biting. I’m not sure how to go about this. Is it normal? Will other dog owners get mad at me if she bites? She’s been bitten several times and has let out a squeal. (On one occasion she was attacked by another dog and that dog went for her throat. She screamed, fell to the ground belly-up and cowered. I almost peed my pants. The guy was very apologetic, but I was pissed because he said the dog was friendly. DOG POLITICS!)

But I digress.

There are a few other things as well. Like, how weird she is with Toby. But I’ll get into that at a later date when I have more time to write. Anyway, any insight on puppy biting, curbing this and other dog owners, all of this is welcome.

Consider me an absolute dog novice. I have intuition and google and the energy, but I don’t know what’s right and wrong when it comes to dogs. Cats! Cats I get. Not dogs.

Bella’s First Roadtrip

We’re heading to Jersey tomorrow for the weekend, taking the dog. My parents are tickled pink about having the dog visit! OK, not really. But they like to see their grandkids, so I didn’t give them much of a choice. Anyway, we’re driving. It’s not a long trip, tops two hours. What do I need to know about driving with a dog? I know this may seem like a silly question, but she’s afraid of everything. Like, the air conditioner in our apartment makes her tremble. She runs and hides in the closet. Is she going to cower the whole drive?

I found out more about Bella this week. She’s from Tennessee. She was born in someone’s backyard and lived there with her mom and her sister until someone started shooting at them. Then they were dropped off a the pound. In June, they were rescued by a woman in Brooklyn and transported up to BARC. So, she’s a bit of a scaredy cat. I hope she learns to relax. It makes us sad.

I also hope that she doesn’t freak out and think we’re giving her away or something. I’m hoping that since she’ll be with Em and me, things will be OK. She’s really taken to Em and I’m her main provider, so she likes me a lot too.

Am I over-thinking this?

Dogs can’t eat chocolate, so feeding her M&Ms like I do with Elliot isn’t the answer. Duh.

Any suggestions welcome. Or just tell me I’m crazy and to shut up. I’m ok with that as well.

City Kid Calls 87 Percent Of Americans “Crazy”

Twice a week Emory, Elliot and I head into the city for classes at Chelsea Piers. It’s the only time we drive, except for when we visit grandma and grandpa. Elliot hates driving and has since the day he was born. He screams uncontrollably. It’s gotten better. But he still has a limit, and a lot of time I bribe him with treats to shut him up. I am not proud of this, but a screaming child isn’t something I can tolerate while maneuvering through crosstown traffic.

But yesterday he started screaming right as we exited the Williamsburg bridge, which is a couple of blocks from our home. Instead of throwing some M&Ms into his pie-hole, I decided to try and reason with the kid.

“You know, Elliot. You should realize how lucky you are. You rarely ever drive. You drive, what? Once a week? Sometimes twice? And for maybe 30 minutes. So stop your fussin’, kid!”

“Yeah, Elliot!” Emory agreed. “Stop your screaming!”

And oddly enough, he did.

“You want to hear a CRAZY story, mom?” Em went on. “I have a crazy story. This story is just crazy. My friend Nell told us this story in school. She said, ‘you want to hear a crazy story?’ And we all said ‘YES!’ So she told us this crazy story about a kid she met. You know what that kid did? That kid drove in a car EVERY SINGLE DAY OF HIS LIFE! Isn’t that a crazy story, mom? We all thought so. We told Nell we didn’t believe her. Because that’s crazy.”


This is Bella. Bella is 8 months old, maybe a year. She’s a corgi/terrier mix (they think). She’s a shelter dog. We’ve been fostering her for the last couple of days, wondering if we want a dog, wondering if she could get along with our cats. Tomorrow we have to decide if we want to keep her. This decision is making me sick to my stomach.

I’m a cat person. I have always been a cat person. My eldest son is a dog person. Well, he’s an animal person. But he loves dogs. He’ll often pet dogs while we’re out. This is how we ended up with Bella.

Last Friday while we were out waiting for Toby to get off the ferry, we ran into a dog named Sauerkraut. Sauerkraut is a weiner dog. The boys really wanted to pet him and his walker let them.

Well, we got to talking and found out that Sauerkraut was from Barc. Em asked the walker what that meant and she explained that it was a shelter. I told him that’s where Murray came from and that it’s where homeless animals live. I guess I should have lied or something, because immediately Em wanted to give Sauerkraut a home. He could not FATHOM that this dog was homeless. In order to appease him (Em gets very emotional) I promised to take him to Barc the next morning to see the dog. I also thought it might be a nice learning experience. Why not teach the child about volunteering?

So Saturday we took him to Barc. We talked about fostering Sauerkraut for a couple of days. But while there, we and learned that Sauerkraut doesn’t like cats at all. That’s how we met Bella.

I am not sure why I did this. (Unconsciously, maybe I wanted to see if I wanted a dog?) I wanted to show him how much work dogs are. I wanted to show him how you have to walk them at least three times a day and pick up their poop. Thus far he’s loved every moment of it, even the poop part. He loves caring for the dog. He loves getting up early with me and walking her. He loves taking her out at night.

Yes. I know that if we kept the dog the chances of him continuing this are basically zero. I know all of this. But I also know that he’s loved her companionship and has cried three times over having to return her. And this makes me the worst mother ever. Why did I foster a dog? What is wrong with me? What was I thinking? WHY?

These are rhetorical questions. I don’t want an answer. I know the answers. I wanted to teach my kids about dog ownership and now I’m paying the price. Because we have two choices now and both are extremely difficult: we can keep the dog, which is a great deal of work and I know NOTHING about dogs and how to care for them; or we can return the dog and listen to a VERY emotional Em cry himself to sleep for a week or so. Plus, where will she end up?

Many people have asked us about the cats. Murray is fine with the dog. He’s getting to know Bella better every day. They have spent the night in the same room twice now. No problems at all. Murray was who I was worried most about.

Pookum (she’s 16 or 17) couldn’t care less about the dog and likes to eat Bella’s food. But Tucker? Tucker is mean as hell to her. Hahaha! I can’t believe it’s the cat who’s mean to the dog. But Bella hides and runs from Tucker. He’s definitely Alpha Cat. Tucker does the same thing to Pookum and has since we got him.

Bella is a sweet dog. She’s not at all aggressive and wants to play and run. She sleeps whenever I sleep—all night long on the floor at the foot of our bed. She is fixed. She has all her shots and she’s really great with the boys. She has only peed once while not on a walk and that was on our balcony.

I’m so completely unsure of what to do. A dog is a lot of work, work I know NOTHING (and I mean nothing!) about how to do. I know all of this. I really, truly have thought all that through. I’m ok with work even though I don’t know how to do it yet. But can I be a dog person? Do we want another animal? And if I return her, how will Em handle it? And most importantly, who will adopt her? She’s a great dog. The thought of her going back to a cage kills me. But I am not sure we can handle another animal right now.

I’m dying over here, people. Dying.

On Losing Weight.

According to RunKeeper, I have run (at least) 526 miles this year. I have completed two half marathons. I have burned (at least) 68,797 calories. And I did not lose an ounce of weight. I worked out at least 4 times each week, sometimes for two hours straight and I didn’t drop a pound. I worked hard, yet I actually gained weight. (A hearty appetite will do that!) Don’t get me wrong, I felt great. I’m definitely stronger. My cardiovascular system is thankful for it. But I didn’t shed a pound. This isn’t a complaint. I’m just pointing something out here, something a lot of people don’t want to admit.

(Or maybe just me?)

I have often complained about not being able to lose weight in spite of working out a lot. And usually it’s Toby Joe who will point out that running isn’t the best way for a person to lose weight, especially a woman. Weight lifting and cutting calories is the way to go.

Back up… I used to see this woman at the gym. She had a great body. She was there every time I was there, which means she was there all the time. With a body like that, she had to be. She was roughly my age, size and stature, without the extra weight, of course. One day I finally got up the nerve to ask her how she does it. What does she do? What’s her workout routine? Because she looks great and I wanted to try and emulate whatever it was that she was doing so well.

She told me she works out for at least an hour every other day. She does the bike, jogs, lifts weights. But after all that she said, “Honestly though? I never lost a pound until I started watching what I ate.”

I didn’t want to believe her. Certainly all that work would pay off, no? If I could just work out every other day, run a lot more, certainly I’d lose weight, right?


On July 10th, while we were in Disney, I just got really fed up with the extra weight. I’m not obese; I’m far from it. I’m considered a healthy weight, average even. That’s fine. But I could stand to shed 10 pounds, 20 if you ask me. And it’s been that way for years. And I am sick of it. I am not happy about my extra 15-20 pounds. I used to be very thin, dangerously so. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking for that again. But I’d like to be able to shop my closet.

I’m just sick of it.

So: I quit Weight Watchers. The new points system wasn’t doing it for me. And it was costly, $18.00 a month, if I recall correctly. Instead, I decided to count calories, keep a diary of what I consume and figure out what I should cut out, or eat more of. I downloaded MyNetDiary for the iPhone. I think it ran me 7 or 8 bucks, a one-time fee. I started keeping track. At first, loosely so. Then a bit more militantly. I got an idea of what an ounce of cheese looks like. I paid attention to portion size. I just kept track.

I’m quite pleased to say that I have lost 6 pounds since I started. I have 7 more to reach my goal. If I could get rid of five after that, I’d buy myself something really awesome.

I feel much better getting on the scale and my pants fit again, even the ones I’d hid way, way in the back of the closet. I feel better. Running is easier as well.

This has been an eyeopener for me. I had no idea how much shit I consume, how many empty calories I was eating day-in, day-out. It’s been enlightening, to say the least.

I’m writing this today to say that I hope in one month from right now, I can say I’m down another 5 pounds. And I hope that I’ll feel even better. I’d like to be done with this weight once and for all, and then just simply maintain it.

Veggie Sloppy Joe!

About a year ago, I was looking for healthy, vegetarian dinner ideas. This was one of the recipes I came up with. I am really excited to share it and I do hope folks give it a try, particularly meat eaters. You may be pleasantly surprised by this dish. It has a great deal of flavor, it’s super filling and it’s meat-free!

What you will need:

  • Skillet
  • Knife
  • Cutting board

You may notice I haven’t listed many quantities below. That’s because you don’t really need to measure anything. This dish has yet to fail. For example, I added too much vinegar today so I cut it with molasses. It evened everything out.

Man, I love this dish. And it’s great for those of you (like myself) who are dieting.


  • Olive oil
  • Some type of veggie crumble. I use Morning Star Crumbles
  • Peppers, both hot and bell, any type you want!
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • Molasses (maybe a tablespoon? I usually just pour some in.)
  • 12 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cupe ketchup
  • Splash of white vinegar
  • Salt

Coat the bottom of a skillet with olive oil. Heat onions, peppers and then crumbles. If the crumbles are frozen (mine usually are) just heat it until they no longer are.

Add everything else. Cover and let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. YOU ARE DONE.

And it is awesome.


I have omitted the ketchup. If you don’t have molasses, you can add another sweetener such as brown sugar. You simply can’t go wrong. Today I added cherry tomatoes for an extra pop. They were perfect. In the past we used to add a dollop of sour cream to the top as well as shredded cheddar cheese, but I’m counting calories these days, so I skipped the sour cream and added an ounce of cheese.

You can serve yours on a toasted bun if you wish.

Go forth and veggie! :]

Three Years Ago Today.

Three years ago today I lost a baby, and then this happened and a door opened up into what would become the worst year of my life. I stopped speaking to people. I ruined friendships. I stopped writing. I quit doing the things I loved. I became the Un-Me, someone I no longer recognized. I was living in grief 24/7, grief and failure. I was no longer the person I’d known all those years.

If you’ve suffered from infertility, you probably know what I’m talking about to some degree. If you haven’t, you probably think I sound dramatic. That’s OK. I probably would have agreed with you prior experiencing it firsthand.

Anyway, I’ve been meaning to write about 2009—about my infertility—for a long time. I should have written about the ordeal while it was happening. And I have a number of regrets for not doing so. But I was ashamed. I felt like a failure. I was broken. Writing about it meant having to publicly admit all of that. I was too ashamed (proud?) to do that. And I’m sorry about that. Because I think many of you could have helped me.

Anyway, now I know. So I plan on writing about my experience because it’s a huge part of who I am today. I’ve changed a great deal specifically because of my infertility. And I suffered silently and didn’t need to. I need to set that straight, come clean, and possibly help somebody else.

I wrote for a long time tonight and wanted to post my story, but I realized it needs more attention and so I’m going to wait. However, today is an anniversary, not necessarily a positive one, but an important one so I needed to write something. Consider this a promise and a space-holder.

And forgive me for my silence.

Disney World!

We went to Disney World last week. Toby took two weeks off rather suddenly. At first we were going to just sit back and relax, but then I got this hankering to go somewhere. We talked about renting an expensive hotel room in Manhattan overlooking the Hudson for the 4th of July fireworks, one with a pool and great views. But many were all booked up. Others would not guarantee us a room with a view.

I then suggested DC. We looked into renting a hotel room and taking the train down. You would not believe the cost of that. Or maybe you would. I was surprised. The cost was nearing Disney prices, a realization Toby Joe muttered out loud.

“Hey! Why don’t we go to Disney World?” I asked, only I think I spelled it out or said it in Pig Latin.

This was out of character for me. I have had a fear of flying for over a decade. Toby is well aware of this fear. I am often hopped up on Xanax when we fly, except for the one time I was pregnant and took a (DOCTOR APPROVED) sleeping pill instead. I am a terrible, no good, nervous flyer. (This fear started before 9/11 and then after 9/11 it just became 10 times worse. I became one of those folks who literally threw tickets away right before the trip. I flaked on an amazing vacation in Thailand two months after 9/11. I’m that guy.)

Anyway, it’s been getting better lately. The last time I flew I did OK. My palms didn’t soak a napkin or Toby’s leg. When we got off the plane I said, “Is this how it usually is?” Toby looked at me like I was crazy and said, “Yes. It’s usually dreadfully uneventful.”

Now I want to go everywhere. My fear of flying has kept me from going so many places, seeing so much. It pains me realizing this now. So I have a lot of catching up to do. Japan for my 40th? Yes! Hawaii with the kids? Definitely. We’re going to go everywhere.

But I digress. After a few clicks and one large credit card transaction, we were taking the kids to Disney World and we were leaving in less than a week.

And it was awesome. The whole trip was awesome. We booked a room at The Wilderness Lodge (shown above) which is where my extended family stays every year for our reunion of sorts. It has a great pool; a nice running/walking trail; bike and boat rentals; a gym; and lots of awesome scenery. It’s just nice being there. And we’re lucky we can afford to. I’m very grateful.

The flights went off without a hitch, both ways. Elliot was shockingly well-behaved; I was worried about that. When we flew last year, he was still a wee one and was still nursing. I nursed him for almost the entire flight. And Emory is possibly the best kid traveler ever, he is amazing.

(He got his hair done in The Magic Kingdom. I love this kid.)

Here are a few things that made this trip awesome:

  • We decided ahead of time we’d only visit two parks the entire week: The Magic Kingdom and Epcot.
  • We got to each park before it opened.
  • We got Quick Passes for the really popular rides (Big Thunder Mountain, Splashdown Mountain, Buzz Lightyear, Soarin’) and visited the less popular ones using the nonexistent morning lines (Teacups, Peter Pan, It’s A Small World).
  • I got the Quick Passes by running to each one ahead of the family, which was awesome for me. (UTILITARIAN EXERCISE!) Also: Quick Passes aren’t printed for the opening hour, always an hour or so later giving us plenty of time to hit other rides.
  • We left each park between 1 and 2 PM and headed back to the hotel (pool) to relax, eat and nap.
  • We took one day off entirely and just sat around at the hotel, playing games and relaxing by the pool.

I know this schedule isn’t for everyone, but the lines went from 0 to 15 minutes long during the morning hours to over 75 minutes in the afternoon! No way I’m waiting in line for 75 minutes in the blazing hot sun, not with a toddler.

One thing we will definitely do in the future is buy a Disney Dining Plan. It’s worth it, we’ve discovered. But beware! You have to do it at least three days before you arrive. We tried adding it on there, to no avail.

Lastly: HOLY HUGE NUMBER OF BRAZILIAN TOURISTS! I guess July is “Brazilian Tours” month because there were literally thousands them. They all wore the same shirt and each group held anywhere from 25 to 75 people. There were orange shirts, red ones, blue, green, white. Seriously, there were thousands.

Damn, I originally set out just to post a few pictures, and here I am rambling on and on. I’ll shut up.

Emory on the carousel.

A woman gave Elliot a few stickers while we on line for Peter Pan, so he tried to eat them. Of course.

Elliot and Emory outside Italy in Epcot. We had lunch there during a torrential downpour.

God, I love The Wilderness Lodge. Check out this scenery!

Up before the sun on most days. I’m such a morning person, more so while on vacation.

Along the running trail.

This was my running buddy. Scared the SHIT out of me at first. At least it wasn’t a gator!

Lastly, isn’t this the cutest picture ever? I love my boys.

Have you ever been to Disney? Where did you stay? Did you enjoy yourself? Let me know! I’m always curious to hear where others stay. If you haven’t been, why not? Would you like to? Or do you hate all things Disney. (I know many families in Brooklyn who agree with you!)