Sunday, December 28, 2008

Kelly says Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!


We had very Merry Christmas here at the Frezon household. My father in law recovered from his pneumonia just in time for the holidays, our son Andy's ruptured eardrum healed nicely, and the only other holiday health issue was our daughter Kate's badly burned eyelid resulting from a holiday fondue mishap. Fortunately, all is well...merry and bright, even.

So we're now looking ahead to the new year. I'll be blogging a lot about goals and resolutions. I love setting goals, but my follow through needs work. I'll be interested to hear what you all have to say about New Years Resolutions.

Also, I'm excited to announce this blog will soon be featured as one of several bloggers on the Guideposts website (New bloggers will be added after January 1st). Visit Guideposts online for many inspiring stories throughout the year, and be sure to check out the blogs on many topics, including living green, Texas flora, and many others. And of course Kelly looks forward to meeting you all there.

Happy New Year!
Peggy and Kelly

Paws for Reflection: Keep your New Year's Resolutions simple. It's good to set a goal, but sometimes it is counterproductive to pressure yourself to attain unrealistic accomplishments. One goal, with gentle steps toward achieving that goal, is a great start!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Playing in the Snow


Snow bunny Kelly loves playing outside in the winter. But I have to take care that she doesn't get too cold. I keep her outside for shorter periods of time, and make sure it's not too windy. I think the biggest problem is that the pads on her feet and between her toes get covered with little ice balls if she's out in the snow for too long. I try to dry them off with a towel when she comes in.
Here are some cold-weather tips from blog reader friends:
1. One reader advises to keep the hair between the pads well trimmed so the snow and ice won't stick to it.
2. A friend told me that you can rub baby oil on the dog's pads to help protect them from the winter weather. It seems to me that this would make it slippery to walk. But maybe you should do this after they come inside. Some dogs pads get cracked and dry, so this would help.
3. Only use rock salt on your steps that is safe for pets. Other rock salt can burn and irritate your dog's sensitive feet.
4. I've never used them, but there are dog coats, sweaters and even booties available if your dog will wear them. Better than a shivering pup. One reader's chihuahuas wouldn't dream of going outside without their coats.
5. You've probably all heard this already, but keep your dog away from antifreeze that may be puddled in the driveway or on the street where you walk. It smells good to dogs, but it's poisonous.
6. Although it doesn't relate specifically to dogs, here's a great point from the Humane Society of the United States. Cats and small animals are attracted to warm engines of parked cars. In case a small animal has climbed up under your hood, bang on the hood to scare them away before getting in your car and driving off.
7. Here's a great article from eHow on "How to Protect your Pet from Winter Cold."
8. Most dogs still enjoy playing outside in the snow, just like kids! Have fun!




Paws for Reflection: The changing seasons are beautiful. While I respect the power of frigid weather and icy conditions, I give thanks for this winter with the beautiful white snow formaking snow angels, snowball fights, and playing outside with Kelly.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Tis the Season


If ever I was dreaming of a white Christmas, my dreams would be coming true this year. Last week we had a major ice storm in the northeast, dusting the ground with a little snow, and covering the roads, trees and power lines with thick ice. 240,000 homes (just in our area of the state) lost power (and heat!) It made me feel good to hear about neighbors checking on other neighbors, taking care of the seniors, offering their homes to anyone in need. My in-laws lost power for 5 days, so they stayed with us. But not before my father-in-law ended up in the hospital with pneumonia. Fortunately, he's home and feeling better now.

Today we received our second major storm, with more than 14 inches of snow falling today and guess what--another 8 to 10 inches expected tomorrow. Okay, enough already!
Good thing it's beautiful. The photos today are of the ice storm, courtesy of Merry Kraft of Averill Park, NY.

Paws for Reflection: Love Your Neighbor by checking in on them in times of severe weather.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Kelly's Holiday Classic Look-Alike











(illustration courtesy of TV Guide.com http://www.tvguide.com/Home.aspx)

While watching the classic How The Grinch Stole Christmas, I noticed a resemblance between the Grinch's dog, Max, and a certain spaniel-mix I happen to know! What do you think? Kelly is certainly no grinch when it comes to Christmas. She sports her reindeer antlers proudly. Does your pet have a holiday celebrity look-alike?


And, this is Max from the cover of the Jim Carey movie:




Paws for Reflection: Celebrate the season with a classic holiday movie. It really puts you in the spirit. In addition to Grinch, I recommend "A Christmas Carol."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Top Dogs #1







I love to share photos of my friends' dogs with you, so that everyone can get to know these cute, crazy or cunning creatures.
Today we're featuring two dogs belonging to faithful reader Ellen: Marley the German Shepherd and Milo the Pug, all decked out for the holidays. Besides decorating themselves in holiday lights, Ellen says Marley and Milo enjoy marrow bones stuffed with peanut butter and frozen. Yum! Milo is definitely top dog, and will steal any toy he wants from Marley. They enjoy long walks with their mom at the local park, although Milo does occasionally appreciate a ride in the stroller when his little legs get tired. Happy Holidays, Marley and Milo!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Holiday Cards with a Plus



The other day I wrote about putting our pets' photos on holiday cards. Another option is purchasing holiday cards that benefit pet programs and organizations. Here are a few. You may not support or agree with all these organizations, but you can pick and choose the ones you like. If you know of an organization offering dog or pet holiday cards that I left off the list, let us know! I'm sure there are oodles. Thanks and Happy Holidays!


Best Friends Animal Society features cute pups playing with wrapped gifts in the snow. Best Friends aids abused and abandoned animals.
http://www.goodcausegreetings.com/products.aspx?CategoryID=11

Aunt Mary's Doghouse is a not-for-profit organization that provides help for abandoned and homeless dogs. These cards feature photos of your own dog, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit Aunt Mary's Doghouse.
http://www.petfinder.com/shelters/NJ209.html

The Guide Dog Foundation has a selection of absolutely charming photographs of Golden Retriever puppies "nestled all snug in their bed" and illustrations of noble Black Labs in winter scenes.
http://guidedog.stores.yahoo.net/holidaycards2.html

A photograph of a yellow puppy kissing a kitty, or a drawing of cats and dogs looking out into the night sky at Santa's sleigh.
The American Humane Association
http://www.holidaycardcenter.org/aha?r=AH084727&s=AH084727&p=08123&t=AHAHome_1

These cards feature a photo of two adorable rescued pets--the cutest white terrier, and a pretty orange tabby--on a sled in the snow. Benefits the Animal Protective Association of Missouri
http://www.apamo.org/holidaycard08.aspx

Featuring an Old English Sheepdog in Santa's sleigh, these cards benefit the Old English Sheepdog Resuce
http://www.oesrescue.com/htmls_oes/cards.html

A drawing of joyful, dancing yellow dogs. A message on the back of the card promotes "unchained" dogs. Dogs Deserve Better is a not-for-profit organization.
To order:
http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/2008cards.html

Paws for Thought: A donation of any size to an organization you support makes a great gift for the pet lover who has everything!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Presents for Pooches


This is Kelly when she came to our house, Christmas Eve 2002. She looked a bit worried, but she still liked to give my son, then 12, a Christmas kiss.

Last time, I talked about including your dogs in photo Christmas cards. In this post I'll talk about presents. Do you buy your dog Christmas gifts? Of course you do! Look at those big, pleading eyes and even contemplate otherwise.

We've always wrapped a few gifts for the dog. Before kids, we even filled a stocking for our Dalmatian. My grandfather used to wrap individual Milkbones for his black lab, Dinah. He'd settle them among the branches of the beautiful, decorated Christmas tree. Dinah never bothered the tree to reach her goodies, but for some dogs this could be a disastrous suggestion.

We usually select a new toy for Kelly. Just as with little kids, sometimes the toy is a hit, and sometimes the packaging is much more appealing. Although she loves stuffed toys, I've stopped buying them because she has even the most durable ones unstuffed and de-squeaked in a matter of seconds, and I'm left cleaning fuzz for hours. (Amazing how much stuffing fuzz can come out of one little toy.) Her favorite toy is still a tennis ball.

What do you plan on getting your dog for Christmas?

Tail's End: A great gift for your dog can be anything from a fancy new toy, to a special outing at the park. (Kelly says a little Snausage never hurt, too.)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Holiday Greetings from the Hound



Do you put your dog in your photo Christmas and holiday cards? Or at the very least, sign their name(s)? Why not, they're part of the family.
Our tradition of sending out photo Christmas cards has recently ended, a direct result of the empty nest. Of course, Kelly would be more than willing to have her face adorn our yearly greetings, but I figured it was enough she was on the blog and website. But every year since she joined our family, up until the last few, she was included--along with the kids-- in the big production known as the creation of THE Perfect Picture to create our card.
This was never a simple procedure. We only have two kids and one dog, but try getting them all to stand in the same place with happy expressions. Andy generally wanted no part of the whole deal. I usually fussed with Kate's long, curly red hair until I'd about brushed it off her head. And whatever dog we had (first a Dalmatian, then a Yellow Lab, then came Kelly) could sit still for about a nanosecond before foraging for Snausages. We usually went through about 4 rolls of film, none of which were satisfactory, and the entire procedure had to be repeated. We got a good quality digital camera about at the point when the kids started outgrowing this "happy" holiday tradition. I can hardly think of a year that this session didn't end in tears.

Do you have any funny stories about your holiday photo card? Share them here!

Diva dogs always like to have their pictures on Christmas cards!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

From the Heart




I've been thinking a lot about Christmas presents. Those from the heart gifts. Handmade gifts that are useful and appreciated.

Times are tough, everyone's cutting back. I've been kind of moping around about our need to spend less on gifts for loved ones this year, when I suddenly realized; this is not a negative. This is an opportunity. A chance to put some real thought into coming up with creative ideas that are personal and special. So that's what I've been doing.
Let me tell you, it's not easy.

I was thinking about those coupons, you know for a back rub, a special dinner, shoveling the driveway. But no one ever redeems them! My friend Sue writes little notes and funny sayings on the squares of a calendar. Maybe I could do that for some people.

I also like theme packages. Ones that call for buying a few smaller items, but putting them together creatively. I sometimes make cooking baskets with some teas, or crackers and jam. My friend Joy gave me the idea of a movie night gift set. Put some movie candy or healthy snacks in a microwave popcorn bucket, and write a coupon for a cozy night together on the couch in front of a movie of his/her choice.

I'm not real crafty, and I am not fond of making nic nacs that just take up space and cause clutter. But some decorations are appreciated. Every year when we decorate the tree, I enjoy the many handmade Christmas ornaments friends and relatives have given me over the years. It's like getting a present every year. So I just recently thought of these wonderful aromatic ornaments the kids made in nursery school. They are made with a cinnamony dough. After all these years (One kid's in college, one is married) the ornaments still look nice and smell Christmassy. Here is the recipe:

1/2 cup cinnamon
1/2 cup applesauce

Mix together. Roll out dough to about 1/4 inch thick.
Cut with cookie cutters. Use a straw to make a hole in the top for hanging.
Let dry for 24 hours.
Use pretty ribbon, yarn, raffia, twine or etc. for a hanging loop.

What are your ideas for "from the heart Christmas gifts?" I'd love to hear!


Christmas like a dog: Give unconditional love!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Best in Show is a Matter of Opinion

(photo courtesy of http://www.nationaldogshow.com/)


I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Reporting on our diet, I did have too much to eat (yum!) but the good news: I had only one small slice of pumpkin pie. Given my sweet tooth that's an accomplishment. And I do plan to double up on the exercise. Kelly received a treat in her doggy bowl, but it was only turkey scraps...no gravy! yay!

Speaking of dogs, after the parade we often watch parts of the National Dog Show in Philadelphia. I love seeing the different beautifully groomed breeds strut around the ring. This year, I couldn't help smile at what wins my vote for a "best in show moment." An adorable 7 month old Shih Tzu was being shown for the first time. Handlers are supposed to walk their dog away from the judge, take a little spin around the ring, and return to the judge so that he can observe the dog's structure and carriage in motion. Well, this cutie didn't want any part of it. Instead of walking along, she just plopped down with her head between her little paws and refused to budge. Dog shows are very formal, but everyone burst out laughing. I was happy to see that even the judge smiled, seemingly charmed by the pup. He finally instructed the poor handler, who was tempting the dog with liver and every trick she had up her sleeve, to pick up the dog and carry her out of the ring. The handler smiled and gave the puppy a kiss. Here is the video clip from NBC sports.





Tail's End: Don't take life too seriously. It's okay if you're always not Top Dog.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Blessings


Happy Thanksgiving!

Pies, pies, pies, pies! Every year I get myself practically sick on seconds and thirds of ooey gooey syrupy pecan pie. So, as a measure of preventative action, I asked my mother-in-law not to make pecan pie this year. Perhaps she could whip up a nice rhubarb pie, or mincemeat--two options that wouldn't tempt me in the least.

In keeping with her diet, I'll also have to remember not to pour gravy over Kelly's dry dog food. (C'mon, tell me you haven't done this too!)

Things I'm thankful for:

My family

Good health and compassionate medical professionals to take care of us

Praying friends

Cell phones--I'm serious. I feel so thankful that I can keep in touch with my daughter and still feel like a part of her life, even though she's far away. And to know that Andy, in college, can get in touch with me any time he needs. It's such a comfort and yes, a blessing.

Books and a fleece blanket to curl up with

If you're wondering, Kelly was included up in "family"

Warmth--both physical and emotional

Green--my favorite color. Green grass, trees, mountains, Vermont, and Granny Smith apples

Baseball. I know it's a football day, but mine is a baseball family. The only hitch is that Mike is a Red Sox fan and Andy is a Yankees fan, and they're both very passionate about their teams. I refuse to play favorites.

Pecan pie. Maybe my mother-in-law will ignore my request and make it anyway.

p.s. The picture is not of Thanksgiving, but one of the tables at Kate's wedding reception. We had an elegant English tea theme. I think it came out rather pretty.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Doggy Diet

Say hello to the new, svelte Kelly!

First, I wanted to say WELCOME to all who are visiting here after reading my December Guideposts article. I'm glad you stopped by, and hope you visit often. For those who haven't seen the story, you can read The Doggy Diet here. The story is about Kelly and my struggles to lose weight. And our ultimate success, when we did it together.

As the story hits the presses, Kelly and I continue to do well on our diets. Okay, I have to admit to a few slip ups. I started sneaking her table scraps again. Just a little bit. What is it about her big, pleading eyes that turns me into a bucket of sap? Also, I figure if I'm eating something healthy, then the scraps must be healthy too, right? But deep down I know I need to stop. This is not a way to love her. As I wrote in the article, I'm showing her love when I take care of her health. And mine.

We're still walking almost every day, but it's getting cold here in New York. On a positive note, the cold helps increase our pace. A brisk walk (on one particularly chilly day this turned into a trot!) sure helps create body heat. Hopefully you will all motivate me to continue, even in the snow and ice, because I know Kelly needs it just as much as I. Just so I don't forget, here is a picture of us before. Yikes!

BEFORE:


Since then, Kelly's lost 6 lbs, and I've lost more than 41. I'm so happy that we've come so far together. For great pictures of us "after" check out the Guideposts website. Kelly's reached her goal, but I'm still hoping to lose about 20 lbs. Can I make it through the holidays?!

Most importantly, I'd love to hear from you! How do you manage to keep off the weight and stay motivated? As we know, maintaining the loss is probably the most difficult part. What tips do you have for Kelly? I'd love to hear from you, my new friends! Oh, and Kelly says thanks for all the nice comments about her hairdo. She was so exhausted when that "after" picture was taken, because the photographer had her out running in the park. She could barely stand up on her own four feet.

Tail's End: Good habits are more fun to maintain when you're in it with a friend...or a furry friend!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Update--Pups Going Home

Time for one last look. The puppies are going home!

Free Webcam Chat at Ustream

They're bigger. They don't sleep as much as they did a few weeks ago. They bark, howl, and yap with vigor. And they're almost old enough to leave their mommy.

Nearly 4 million viewers have followed these Shiba Inu puppies, broadcast on Upstream video. The pups are so popular, one Texas hospital even shows the live video to patients. Now the puppies are going off to new homes. But the good news: Upstream is sending Web cams with the pups, so the new owners can continue broadcasting their adventures.

The pups names are Autumn, Amaya, Aymui, Aki, Akoni and Ando.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Kelly's Autumn Walk, Part Two

























































As Kelly and I walked through the city, we came to a large church. She checked out the big, heavy doors, just in case she could get inside. We found the steps a good resting place before we continued our walk.



































Tail's End: Find beauty everywhere

Thursday, November 13, 2008

How Much Do I Care?



How much do I care about my teenage son away at school? According to his college, I don't care much, unless I send him one of their special pre-packaged student care packages.

A recent letter sent home to parents opened with a cheery story about two students who arrived at the campus center to pick up their care packages. "One beamed when she received her package," read the letter, "while the other, whose family had not reserved a package, immediately called her mother on her cell with a plaintive "You didn't send me a care package?" (cue the melancholy music)

I understand the concept of advertising, but I thought this was a shameless use of guilt. Moms already feel guilty enough. Imagine the parent struggling to make ends meet in addition to the high cost of tuition (topping $50,000/year at many universities) feeling like she was letting her child down, especially one away from home for the very first time.

The letter continued, "Because so many students receive care packages...it can hurt if a student is left out." They enclosed a small black and white computer print out "thinking of you" card that you could send to your child on your own, and added "Of course, (the card) would be more appreciated if it comes with food." Then they went on to list the various different packages you could purchase, increasing in size and degree of caring.

It's not that I don't believe in care packages. I think they're great. And, the school sponsored prices may even be reasonable (From an exam survival kit which includes microwave popcorn, granola bars, gummy bears and cookies for $20, to the deluxe spirit basket with Ramen noodles, Pop Tarts, oatmeal, M&Ms, chips, cookies and crackers, gourmet teas and coffees and a mug for $55.) But I hate to think of anyone feeling like they don't love their child enough because they can't send one.

I rarely send the school care packages, mainly because my kid is finicky and I know he wouldn't eat half the contents offered. But I often make my own care packages for very reasonable prices. Just don't forget you have to take into account the cost of mailing.

Making your own care packages is fun, and you can include only the foods you know your child enjoys. This can be anything from a simple box of favorite cookies (Andy's been begging for home-baked chocolate chips) to something more elaborate with several favorite treats. I generally go for a theme. When my daughter got a bad cold, I sent her a care package of tissues, cough medicine, microwavable soup and crackers. Since Andy needs a lot of quick energy for all his sports (and he isn't prone to gaining the freshman 15) I sent him a big box of candy purchased on clearance the day after Halloween. For holidays, you can send simple decorations to make the dorm room more fun, along with seasonal snacks and treats.

Those college kids need a lot of food! They also need a lot of love and support. A phone call, a letter, a hug. Maybe even a basket of goodies. No guilt.


Kelly says love like a dog: unconditionally.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Kelly-cam Part One



Today Kelly is taking you along on a visual journey as we traipse along the city streets on one of our walks. See what she sees, feel the crisp autumn air, as you join us today. I always love company on my walks!



































































































Tail's End: See the world from a different angle.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Puppies--Too Cute!

I'm going to show you something that is going to distract you from your blog-reading, your writing, your work, your chores, your daily life. It's a puppy cam with LIVE feed! Once you click on it, there's no way you can tear yourself away. My daughter Kate send me this link and I keep it open on my desk top all day long!

Online video chat by Ustream
At times the feed is off air, so if you just see a slide show, keep trying. It's worth the effort! You can watch them play, eat, and sleep--a lot. Hear them bark, cry, slurp and whine.

These are Shiba Inu puppies. I know, I never heard of the breed before either. But they're really cute and fuzzy and beautiful. I think they are about 4 or 5 weeks old now. For more information on these puppies, visit this website.

And happy viewing. I'm sorry you wont' get any work done.

Tail's End: "Happiness is a warm puppy."

Monday, November 3, 2008

Cast Your Vote!















While Kelly was out exercising today, she took the opportunity to remind us all to exercise our right to vote!
(Excuse her tongue hanging out, she was tired after our long walk!)


Tail's End: Vote today!

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Dog Ate my Homework


What do dogs eat? If your dog is like Kelly, just about anything. Unfortunately, sometimes dogs get into things they shouldn't. Our year-old Dalmatian once got into an entire giant gift-sized Hershey's kiss. He was so sick afterwards, but recovered. We were lucky--even smaller amounts of chocolate are unhealthy for dogs.

My mom once baked a beautiful cake and, knowing her Black Lab could reach up onto the counter, she put the entire finished and frosted cake back inside the cold oven for safekeeping, and went out on an errand. When she returned, her dog was lying on the floor, belly bulging, with cake crumbs and the empty pan beside him. Somehow he'd figured out how to open the oven door.

It's not just food that tempts dogs either. A friend's German Shorthaired Pointer once ate a leather wallet, complete with cash and IDs. According to an article by Corky Siemaszko in the New York Daily News, a New York veterinarian has compiled a list of the top 10 items that dogs swallow (when they shouldn't):

1. socks
2. underwear
3. pantyhose
4. rocks
5. balls
6. chew toys
7. corn cobs
8. bones
9. hair ties
10. sticks

What has your dog swallowed?

Tail's End: My cooking isn't great, but it's got to taste better than a sock.

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