House Broken

My fondness for the four-legged creatures in my home has been severely tested the last few weeks. The short of it is, I started a crazy hobby…. gardening. Yup, I built boxes with my birthday drill, added dirt and seeds and just let nature do its thing. What I didn’t count on? Gunnar thinking he’s a rabbit and Ellie… well, I should have seen that coming to be honest.

Catching some sun... in the dirt

Catching some sun… in the dirt

Gunnar is not a destructive dog by nature. He’s more of a lazy, ambling type of guy. Unless you mention the P-A-R-K, in which case he tilts his head, perks up his ears and looks at you like “is this a trick? Did you say PARK!?”. It’s really cute. He learned that water is fun at the park, and the Mister even had to wade out and force Gunnar back to shore he was having so much fun.

Ready to go back in!!!

Ready to go back in!!!

Gunnar has been Mr. Plaid’s since he was 10 months old and I came into his world in the last few years. Now at seven, Gunnar is slowing down a bit. He used to run for miles with us, but we don’t take him more than a couple of miles a few times a week now. We got lost near Cougar Mountain in Issaquah, WA  once and ended up going nearly 18 miles. Gunnar? Took it like a champ. He would chase bunnies if given the chance, but probably to only love and snuggle them. He’s a gentle dog and was a great mommy to little Ellie when she first arrived. He really is one of a kind, and despite his recent foraging for greens in my garden, I couldn’t imagine a day without him.

All you need is a few treats and he won't move!

All you need is a few treats and he won’t move!

Gunnar and Ellie roam about the house together, she being his shadow and he probably trying to have some alone time and nap. But every now and again you’ll see them outside playing chase and wrestling.



Ellie antagonizing Gunnar into play by running full steam into him with a toy. Ya, I don’t think he enjoys that. Ellie doesn’t seem to care.

Gunnar put up with a lot when Ellie first came home

Gunnar put up with a lot when Ellie first came home

Best of Friends?

So many moments for these two

So many moments for these two

Ellie. What is there to say about her. She is…. unique. Ellie holds a special place in my heart, but that girl is Cray-Cray!!! I don’t even know how to explain it. I can’t really. Come spend a day with her. Well, you’d know what I mean in your first five minutes of her barking a greeting at you to know what I mean. Oh, Ellie. Chews on everything and destroyed, to some variable degree, every throw rug and runner in the house. Every single one has her mark. Why? What did they do to her?? No clue.

She is leary of me and the camera sometimes...

She is leery of me and the camera sometimes…

As I demonstrated earlier, sometimes a little crafting goes a long way. As I was trying to force positive feelings towards my animals the last few weeks, I decided what better way than with art, right?

Since Ellie and Gunnar are the closest things to children in our home I thought I would do something you see parents do all the time.

Final Look, Framed and ready

Final Look, Framed and ready

Commemorative hand/foot prints!!! This was actually the most simple thing to do, I have a mini arsenal of empty frames on hand as well as several canvas and heavy-duty paper stock. All that was missing was the paints and the paws.

– Water-based paint (I used something non-toxic… think “could this go in a toddler’s mouth??)
– Art Boards or Heavy Paper (like seen HERE or HERE)
– Baby Wipes (for quick clean-up)
– Willing dog paws (this was the trickiest – bring treats!)

It really is a quick process, I only used one paw and made the print in four places, giving the  impression of all four paws. Set everything up before allowing your first subject to come into the room, being careful they don’t walk through the paint before you’re ready.



I simply brushed a quick thick coat of the paint on the paw while the dogs were enjoying a few long-chew treats (dried mango or sweet potato are favorites in my house). I then did a quick dab on a scrap piece of paper to remove any blobs or uneven paint areas. I found it easiest working with a harder surface (like the art board) since I had Gunnar and Ellie lay on their sides and I pressed their paw against the surface rather than have them step on it. This way I also had better control of the pressure, making sure they didn’t smoosh or smudge their print. Trial and Error. Have that extra paper on hand and test it out.

Then press. Re-apply the paint after the second impression, blot again, give another treat, and press. Ta-Da!! Seriously, it took longer to set up and pick colors for each then it was to actually do the prints.

Wipe off their paws with baby wipes and then dry them with a clean paper towel. This is the best measure to ensure they won’t track paint elsewhere in the house on accident.

Prep is Key

Prep is Key

I thought Ellie would be the toughest to work with, but she actually was easy. She just let whatever happen as long as she had a treat. Gunnar was a bit squirmy and you can see his prints aren’t as clean.


Gunnar 2014


Ellie 2014

Ellie 2014


They now have a place of honor on my semi-accomplished “gallery wall” on our stair landing.

"Gallery Wall"

“Gallery Wall”

Everything is in a various form of progress, and I’m ok with it. This was such a success I’m considering using this technique for Christmas Cards this year. How cute would little red and green paw prints be?

Either way, these pups have stolen my heart and I would do anything for them. Even build a higher fence so they can’t ruin my garden. Yes, I did that… for them!



gone to the dogs

True fact: if you know, or have ever known, someone who had both a dog and a generally clean-ish, nice-ish home and/or yard, I need you to stop reading right now, call them, and tell them you’re awed by their work. Better still, go to them and give them a hug. Step back from the hug, look them in the face, tell them you understand, no really, you UNDERSTAND. Hug them again. Ask if there’s anything they can do. Fix them a drink, maybe.

We can talk all we want about the challenges we face in trying to make our homes happy, create culinary and cocktail nirvana, or piece together perfect projects. The biggest obstacles between us and magazine-ready lives aren’t our busy schedules and big dreams. No, they’re 4-legged juggernauts of destruction who meet us at our doors, with feathers and drywall caked in their smiling teeth, totally oblivious to the mangled mess they’ve made for us to clean up. Again. And again. And again.

You think I’m exaggerating? My dogs have been around for just shy of 8 years, and I’m on my 6th couch. SIX. COUCHES. Why?


Yeah. That’s couch #2. Admittedly, it was a hand-me-down, but it was in damned good shape – certainly good enough to replace couch #1, which lost its will to live courtesy of Profoundly Destructive Puppyhood And A Weird Phase Of Malicious Pooping.

No joke, I switched my dogs to senior food this year when I realized that my current couch and loveseat are over a year old and only have one small tear.

There’s something magical about upholstery, I think. Personally, I’ve given up and accepted that the dogs believe a pillow’s place is on the floor in FRONT of the couch, at least until it is called home to the Great Couch in the Sky.


But Jenn…well, her dogs are only just discovering the magic of throw pillows:

The insides of two Ikea throw pillows.

And hey! This is growth! Because usually, they specialize in rugs.


They also really like to help with seasonal decoration by bringing the outdoors in:


sod it

And heaven help you if you try and help them on that quest. They’ll bring in plants themselves, damn you, and tell you EXACTLY what they think about your unscheduled interference in their plans:


No, really. They will TELL you:


My dogs aren’t super-invested in house-plant-destruction – I have a cat, and if there’s one thing that herding-breed and livestock-type dogs respect, it’s a business model. They are, however, social reformers, which is to say, turn your back on them for a second, and they want to open doors and break down walls. Literally.



Admit it, you thought I was kidding about the drywall, didn’t you.

As much as they may drive us to distraction – and by “distraction,” obviously, I mean “drinking” – we love them. Of COURSE we do. We love them for the memories of their squishy little puppy faces, sure, and yes, we love them for the whole companionship thing. But we also revel in their ridiculousness, like barking at their own fats, or thinking a car ride to a coffee kiosk is pretty much Disneyland wrapped up in rainbows and unicorn sparkles. So really, we don’t love them DESPITE the fact that they ruin our homes daily and our lives occasionally, we almost love ’em more because of it.


We realize that “the dog days of summer” generally usually references those sticky-hot awful days in mid to late summer, when all of a sudden, strategic napping, panting, and resenting people who come to your door and make you wear pants all start to make TOTAL sense.

Right now, weather is mild enough to be universally appealing, and winter’s drudgery is still recent enough a memory that sunny days feel stolen and magical. Our yards are still fresh from springtime clean-up, and flower and vegetable gardens haven’t kicked into harvest overdrives. The big dirty projects are still easily dismissed for future consideration – plenty of summer left for that nonsense!

And that leaves us with blessedly little to do, except enjoy the outdoors with those members of our family who would happily pack up and live in the backyards if they could. This month? This temperate, relaxing month? These are OUR dog days of summer.

Clearly, I think, we’ve earned the reprieve.