Posted by: Dennis | August 21, 2009

A weekend at the Coast

Everyone makes it out to be such a tough decision- one filled with such doubt and tentativeness. But, for me- for us- it was so natural, so comfortable. Even when we had only been together  for a few months, it made such sense to be thinking about our future. After all, we had already been great friends that spent all of our time together for so long before we had begun dating.

Do I somehow remind you of a ring?

Do I somehow remind you of a ring?

At first, we would make light of it. We even got caught by a co-worker at the jewelry case in a local CostCo, who interpreted the sighting as a genuine search for a ring. (This is Jenn, to bring your dose of snarky/less-germane comments, such as: Really? CostCo for a ring? That’s definitely…unromantic…at best.) A few months later, we were doing some browsing at Fashion Island in Newport Beach (a much sexier locale) while visiting SoCal for Thanksgiving. We walked into one particular studio and immediately loved the unique design of the engagement rings. (I spent a lot of time browsing around that website. A lot.) In the spring, we came back to look again with the intent to choose one together. (Dennis was already in LA for work, but I actually went down with the express purpose of ring shopping. Best travel reason ever.) We were both thrilled with our choice, which we colloquially call ‘Stewie.’

So the engagement was not a surprise. Nor was the timing. Jenn had been accepted into her first-choice MD-PhD program and had planned to take some time off before starting. Her quasi-parents were coming to visit the week after she quit her job, and we wanted to be able to share our excitement with them. We planned a weekend trip to the Surf Sand Resort in Cannon Beach, which we were particularly drawn to because of the dog-friendly features (of course Crawford was going to have to be included in such an important event).

Sure I love sports, but...

Sure I love sports, but...

As the ring and the timing were set, I was left with the details of the proposal itself. Feeling like I knew Jenn pretty well by this point (or so one would hope), I decided that an extravagant public spectacle wouldn’t be the best choice. There would be no sky-writing and fireworks, no Jumbotron. Even a public display in a small restaurant seemed beyond her (and my) comfort level. So I secretly made reservations at what seemed would be the nicest restaurant in Cannon Beach, and ordered up one of the romance packages available at the resort: rose petals in the room and on the bed, champagne, breakfast in bed (I was actively trying to not know about the details, but I found the hotel and knew the romance options, even if I wasn’t sure what Dennis would choose.) And I specifically requested that they set it up while we were out at dinner- and not before we checked in- hoping that might throw her off (Actually, this did throw me off. I expected maybe something, but then nope! Very tricky, this one). The plan was simple. Check-in, get settled, take Crawford out for a stroll on the beach, get a nice dinner together, come back to the room, surprise! and then the actual proposal. (Alas, if only it had gone that way. So simple, elegant. But definitely wouldn’t make as good a story as what you’re about to read.)

The trip could not have started off any better. As typical after his Saturday puppy classes, Crawford was exhausted. Perfect set-up for a long drive out to the coast, during which he was zonked out in his crate. The sea breeze was refreshing after an uncomfortable stretch of unseasonably warm weather in town, and the hotel was all we could have hoped for. As we checked in, I was a little anxious that the staff would let it slip about the romance package, but thankfully they were professional and discrete. Our third floor room had full glass doors that opened onto a patio overlooking the ocean, with Haystack Rock maybe a quarter mile south. (It was perfect. So amazing waking up to a new life together with such a breathtaking view.) We had plenty of time before our dinner reservations, so we unloaded our belongings and then headed out for some exploring. (One of the things I was most looking forward to was Crawf having his first serious beach adventure.)

As we headed out, we clarified with the hotel staff about dog-leash rules on the beach. We got a shrug- there really aren’t any rules other than common courtesy, such as clean up after your dog. If your dog is safe and not a danger to others, he’s free to roam. (Cue the ominous music.) Once out on the beach, Crawf was in heaven. I’m not sure if it was the texture of the sand, the sound of the waves, or some doggie-pleasing scents, but he literally had a spring in his step. He’d prance to-and-fro, making big circles around us as we walked along the surf. Others took notice, too. One lady deliberately followed us for a couple minutes to tell us how watching our puppy run around with such joy made her smile. Crawford would greet other dogs excitedly, as if looking for another dog to share how great this place was.

I think he first spotted the Great Dane- I feel like calling him Hamlet. They tend to be rather large, and he’s had fun with a few at the parks on different occasions. And then there was Hamlet’s brother- staying with the Shakespearean theme, let’s call him Iago- a black lab, curiously still on-lead (again with the music). A nice-looking family sat with them. As we made our way over, we started up with the usual small talk, the usual ‘How old is your Vizsla?’ icebreaker. Crawford had gotten a grumble from Iago and decided it better to spend his energy playing with Hamlet instead.

I might break into a soliloqy about my guilt for aiding and abetting.

I might break into a soliloqy about my guilt for aiding and abetting.

It all happened so quickly. In the spirit of play, Hamlet lunged at Crawford, who misinterpreted the giant dog’s overtures and tried to find the nearest escape route. This took him right into the path of Iago, yes that Iago (MUSIC CRESCENDOS). In one quick movement, Iago’s jaws locked onto our little guy’s chest and proceeded to lift him into the air, then slam him onto his back in the sand. The owners were quick to free Crawford from Iago’s canines, and even though he looked okay at first, a closer examination revealed a dribble of blood and a deep gash on his right chest. (I’ll never forget the family’s 5 year old boy, “I”m so sorry my dog hurt your puppy.” You could hear the shock in his voice.) In general, I’m one to let nature takes its course with cuts and scrapes, as an inspection of the many old scars on my arms and legs will tell you. But, in this case it was at once obvious that Crawford’s wound needed stitches. (There were a few minutes of lag between the attack and when we found the wound, which we spent pretending to be 100 times more upbeat and happy than we truly felt- all in the hopes of preventing lasting emotional repercussions for Crawf. The gash was just well-enough hidden; we only caught it when the bleeding became too hard to miss. Then we got moving, and quickly.)

Cannon Beach can get crowded on weekends in the summer, but it’s never a bustling metropolis. It seemed doubtful that we would be able to find a vet on a Saturday evening, but Jenn started working her new iPhone to figure out our options. With the help of the hotel staff, she determined our best bet was up the coast 25 miles in Astoria. (I also had directions mapped out, all before we even got off the beach.) Dinner reservations were cancelled, especially since the restaurant offered only a single seating time for its four-course meal. After getting Funkle cleaned up in the hotel shower, (and driving 40 minutes on painfully slow speed limited “highways”), we arrived to find a large waiting room out of the 70’s that was unstaffed. After a call, a kindly older man emerged from the back, “Yep, he’ll need stitches, but he shouldn’t need to stay overnight. You can pick him up in an hour and a half.” If not for clumping Crawf’s injury as another dog fight (Our dude did not fight back! It was an attack, pure and simple), we could not have hoped for more. (For some reason I was expecting us to be with him while he got stitched up. Zero dice. The door closed, and I totally lost it. We’re talking loud sobs and unfettered tears. Dennis looked rather alarmed- I had been keeping it all in for the puppy’s sake, and I don’t think either of us realized how much we were shaken until that moment.)

Whatever happened to Chunk or Shorty from the Temple of Doom?

Whatever happened to Chunk or Shorty from the Temple of Doom?

Rather than try to find the house from The Goonies, (Dear Reader, this confused me too. Don’t worry about it. It’s probably a generational thing.) we decided to spend the time on the ocean overlook. There wasn’t a lot of activity, but we had a great view of the Pacific. Jenn played a mix of romantic songs (on my iPhone- volume was an issue) and we slow-danced together while the sun set, even as Crawford endured a set of stitches a few hundred yards away. Being together and able to make the best of an emergency vet visit that spoiled our engagement plans- yeah, I’m pretty sure I want to spend the rest of my life with this one (if you haven’t gathered from previous posts, I can be prone to understatement at times). (And what can I say? Random Shakespeare references, sentences like the previous one, and being so supportive when I’m a post-dog-attack emotional wreck…I can’t be anything but completely sure.)

We picked up our dude with his five new stitches, along with a course of prophylactic antibiotics, and some painkillers (all for $75, plus Hamlet’s family kicked in for half), and went back to our vacation. The hotel room was now in its romance-package state, but Jenn acted like it didn’t spoil a surprise (she’s really great, isn’t she?). Crawford recovered in his crate, while we scrambled together some dinner plans. Afterwards, our  little one came out with us on a moonlit walk on the coast. (It was so sad watching him try to walk at first- he looked so uncomfortably drugged.) Finding a little more privacy from the bonfire enthusiasts as we walked further south, we stopped near the shadows of Haystack Rock where I got on a knee and proposed. (Point of fact, he got on both knees, which rested on his flip flops. No sandy pants for my Dennis.) As we embraced with her reply (read: I got on my knees as well, which were thereafter sandy), Crawford put his paws on our shoulders and furiously licked our faces.

Altogether, it was a wonderful weekend. The worst outcomes from the experience: missing out on a nicer dinner (I refused to look at the menu of what we missed- the replacement dinner wasn’t great), a bit of alopecia at Crawford’s wound site, and the activity restrictions he was still under when his q-grandparents visited. (They didn’t get to see him run! A Vizsla is not a Vizsla without running.) The best: being able to share with everyone we love how happy we are to have one another.

Finally (the real) photographs in chronological order (click to make enormous):

DSC02144

Sunset from our room.

DSC02146

Haystack Rock, the local land (sea?) mark.

Crawford's stitched wound. It's healed very nicely now :)

Crawford's stitched wound. It's healed very nicely now 🙂

Artsy, romantic.

Artsy, romantic.

Our Stewie. Simple, elegant, architechtural. Perfect for us.

Our Stewie. Simple, elegant, architechtural. Perfect for us.

The morning after we got engaged! So, so happy.

The morning after we got engaged! So, so happy.

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Posted by: Dennis | July 30, 2009

Father’s Day 2009

To get my resolution off on a bang, I’m going with a quick post that really just centers on super cute Crawford delivering my Father’s Day present. It was my first Father’s Day as a recipient, but Jenn and I did attend a memorable Dads & Grads Party together last year 🙂 kudos to Meg and Mladen!

Happy Daddy's Day!

I am taking my delivery responsibility very seriously, indeed.

I think his mommy might have helped with the design and execution, but he did a great job walking over to me card in tow. It reads, “Happy Father’s Day! From the one puppy that worships the ground you walk on… and tries (really hard) not to pee on it!” (And in the spirit of full disclosure, Jenn admits that she borrowed the thought, if not the exact words, from a card she had seen.)

Speaking of peeing, Crawford has really made a giant transformation in the past few weeks. Having been raised by his doggie-mother and aunt, while his dad Kirby was doing his thing in Colorado (more Father’s Day theme here), Crawford never really grasped the concept of peeing like a boy. Instead of aiming and getting up on three legs, he’d squat whenever the time came. In our home, his only male role model would use a two legged-style that I’m afraid Crawford could never quite grasp.

Whether it was enough trips to the dog park with careful observation or getting some hints from his brother Patriot on one of his stay-overs at Grandma Z’s, he’s now picked it up… and has he ever. He’s obsessed with marking trees and telephone poles, seemingly always holding some extra in his bladder lest he be caught unprepared with an opportunity for a spray. Worse yet, he’s taken aim at other dogs at least twice now, and even thought he’d try to get an owner once. We’re hoping the novelty will wear off soon, and it will be seen for what it is- a basic biological function.

Funny how this post about a holiday has devolved to pee. That’s little boys for you, I guess!

Posted by: Dennis | July 23, 2009

A resolution

As our last post was titled ‘The Big Oh-Point-Five’ and Crawford’s about to turn nine months, it’s pretty obvious we’ve been terribly delinquent in keeping up with the blog. One could imagine several explanations: (1) We’re lazy. True enough, but it’s not as if we suddenly became lazy in the past three months. Not a great explanation. (2) Nothing newsworthy to report. Quite the opposite in fact. (3) We’ve been too busy to prioritize blogging. Bingo! So, yeah, a ton of things have been happening recently, and, frankly, Jenn and I were more interested in spending time together than trying to be creative and entertaining on the web.

Honk-shu puppy

Honk-shu puppy

So I’m going for an ambitious task. I’m going to try to catch the audience up on major events from the past three months in a series of posts centered on Crawford and his family (which, I suppose is the theme of this blog as a whole). Sneak preview: Crawford’s emergency vet visit (and a side note, our engagement weekend), a vacation to Hawaii and LA (sans little guy, sadly), and Crawford’s routine adventures, including his most recent class, buddies at Irving Park, and first encounter with a member of the feline species.

A tough thing for our family has been that the Puppy Momma, aka Jenn, has moved to The City (that’s New York City) ahead of us, as the timing for starting her MD-PhD program was too hard to match up with my time to identify an appropriate position, interview, negotiate a good offer, and move my lab and settle things outside of work. We’re hoping to be reunited soon. Meanwhile, this gives us an opportunity to work on a bi-coastal blog. First, I’ll put together the rough drafts. Then Jenn will come in and edit [she’s used brackets in the past], and most importantly for the entertainment value, upload the accompanying pictures.

So think of this as my mid-year resolution (hopefully followed better than most people do with their New Year’s resolutions): more blogging.

Posted by: Jenn | April 20, 2009

The big oh-point-five!

Crawford Milahus Russell C-Surname, 6 months

Crawford Milahus Russell C-Surname, 6 months

Saturday was Crawford, Jasper, Loki, Paloma, Patriot, and Ziggi’s collective sixth month day! They’re half a year old, and it’s almost 4 months to the day Crawf has been home with us. It sounds like a very short time, but we can’t imagine our lives without his happy puppy bounce & swagger.

The Pupcake

The Pupcake

To celebrate, we took Crawfie rollerblading for the first time. He did better than I expected, actually, with not pulling his dad along. All this despite the distractions of bikers, children and elderly strolling couples that crowded the East Waterfront.

We also treated him to a Pupcake and got him a new chewie–mmm, beef tendon. Mostly, though, we enjoyed spending the day together, as we’ve both been travelling on and off for the past coule of months.

...and gone!

...and gone!

Posted by: Jenn | April 9, 2009

The past months in food

Firstly, eating out.

One of our new favorites: Wayne’s Chicago Red Hots 3901 N.E. Martin Luther King Blvd

These are our two favorite dog orders, but man are their fries good, too! Douse the regular ones with malted vinegar, or order a Solider Field–fries smothered in cheese and peppers. Yums!

Maxwell Street: Polish with kraut and grilled onions

Maxwell Street: Polish with spicy mustard and grilled onions

Combo Pups: Chicago style keeps the chili n' cheese company

Combo Pups: Chicago style keeps the chili n' cheese company

An utter disappointment: Saburo’s Sushi 1667 SE Bybee Boulevard

This place is constantly overflowing, and we’ve been trying to make time to wait out the line for awhile. But I can easily say I’ll never go back. The miso and tempura were quite good, but the sushi left me entirely underwhelmed. I coined it “lazy sushi” because the pieces were gargantuan. We’re talking sashimi over 1.5cm thick! Are a couple extra knife strokes really that onerous!? I strongly prefer small pieces that easily comprise a single bite–all the better to enjoy flavors and textures melding together. Oh, and the serivce was pretty crappy, too.

Sashimi the size of Texas!

Sashimi the size of Texas!

My beloved Unagi. Yet, I cannot finish half an eel. Well, maybe if I'd passed on the tempura.

My beloved Unagi. Yet, I cannot finish half an eel. Well, maybe if I'd passed on the tempura.

I feel like his name should be Geoff. Hello, Geoff, tasty waistcoast you're wearing!

I feel like his name should be Geoff. Hello, Geoff, tasty waistcoast you're wearing!

Secondly, the domestic preparations.

New Year's Day: Ham, roast potatoes and ricotta mint peas.

New Year's Day: Ham, roast potatoes and ricotta mint peas.

Lemon almond ricotta muffins. Ridiculously amazing texture!

Lemon almond ricotta muffins. Ridiculously amazing texture!

Mediterranean Feast: cous cous, tumeric chicken, tomato olive salad, and dolmas

Mediterranean Feast: cous cous, tumeric chicken, tomato olive salad, and dolmas

Soda Farls I: English breakfast for dinner, but with American bacon

Soda Farls I: English breakfast for dinner, but with American bacon

Soda Farls I: Roasted tomatoes, it's your time to shine!

Soda Farls I: Roasted tomatoes, it's your time to shine!

Soda Farls II: Playing back up to some soothing chicken noodle soup.

Soda Farls II: Playing back up to some soothing chicken noodle soup (sorry this pictures sucks)

Unbaked raspberry macadamia white chocolate blondies. Gone too fast to get a picture once they emerged from the oven.

Unbaked raspberry macadamia white chocolate blondies. Gone too fast to get a picture once they emerged from the oven!

The unpictured kids are:

  • two iterations of the yummiest buttermilk biscuits ever
  • maple macadamia blondies
  • creme brulee with fresh vanilla beans (sans the brulee–we had a blow torch FAIL)
  • doubtless, other things that just didn’t make that much of an impression; there was definitely one with chopped bacon…

Finally, Crawford’s diet

Evo Red Meat Small Bites

Evo Red Meat Small Bites

…and occasionally puppeh treats, peanut butter, and the highest bribe- string cheese. I wonder if he knows what he’s missing?

Posted by: Jenn | March 23, 2009

This Just In: Soak Wrongfully Accused!

Reports circulated last week that Soak, a well-loved wool wash, had wreaked havoc on the sweater of a Portland local. Jenn, knitter of the victimized sweater-to-be, propagated the accusation during an afternoon visit to the yarn shop Dublin Bay, where she originally acquired her sample size Soak. In conversation with the proprietress and a staff member, both experienced Soak users, Jenn claimed that the product severely desaturated the hue of the yarn used for her Climbing Vines Pullover (Interweave Knits, 2008). She found this particularly vexing since the collar of the sweater was knit after the rest had been washed with Soak–so there now exists an abrupt color change between the two.

Exhibit 1: Sweater, pre-Soaking

Exhibit 1: Sweater, pre-Soaking

Her claim was met with shock and alarm by both parties, neither of whom had experienced such a phenomenon with the beloved wool wash.

After hearing of this great controversy, I contacted Jenn, the disillusioned knitter herself. This is her story, as was told to me:

Illustrious Reporter: So, how did you begin to suspect that Soak was not the actual  culprit in this sad story?
Jenn, Disillusioned Knitter: Because I liken myself to a bastion of truth, and because I really, really wanted to finish this sweater, I tried Soaking only the collar in the same wool wash as I used for the body. But there was no observable color change. I had a Myth Busted! moment.

IR: Jamie and Adam would be proud. But were you ready to give up, or were you still holding on to some hope?
J, DK: I was kind of on autopilot, actually. I took my partially soaked piece to my blocking board (really the guest bed), and laid it down to dry. And that’s when I had my epiphany.

Exhibit 2: A green collar vs yellow-green sweater. Soak lurks in the background.

Exhibit 2: A green collar vs yellow-green sweater. Soak lurks in the background.

IR: Epiphany, huh? I think even James Joyce would consider that a little strong in this context.
J, DK: I might agree had not a sizable incandescent bulb popped into a glaringly bright and flashy existence above my head. Plus, I thrive on hyperbole. But this totally is within the normal limits.
…The blinds were open. The sun was streaming in. I thought, “What the hell?! Isn’t this Portland? In the winter!?!” And several seconds later, “Mother of god.” The sun rays across the sweater where breathtaking–you know, in a horrifying, world-crashing-around-you kind of way. And I knew what had happend. Sunlight bleaches wool. The yarn is 80% cotton & 20% wool. Mother of god.

IR: Wow. It sounds like Soak is definitely off the metaphorical meat hook, then?
J, DK: Yeah, absolutely, since the sweater sat there for a week of similarly sunny days. My first theory, “Soak desaturated my sweater,” is out. Instead I’m forced to acknowledge the alternate, “Jenn UV bleached her own sweater, the silly woman.”

IR: That is a pivoting story, and I, for one, feel very glad to have the reputation of one wool wash restored. Do you have any final thoughts?
J, DK: Just one– Does it count as slander if I really thought it was true?

Posted by: Dennis | March 23, 2009

Rx for Rest

A few years ago, in the locker room of the local 24 Hour Fitness, a fellow gym-goer watched as I pulled out my cell phone to answer a page for a typical mommy-call.

Hi Janet, this is Dr. C-surname, I was paged…  Hi, this is Dr. C-surname.  What’s going on with Freddie?…  Uh, huh… okay… so, he doesn’t seem to be feeling well at all today.  is Freddie eating okay?  has he thrown up at all?…

Hearing the one-side telephone exchange (in the pre-HIPPA days) where my questions were directed at a third party, the guy commented, ‘You must be a vet.”  Actually not, but as a pediatrician, I guess I’m a vet of the human world and have some background to approach a puppy’s health issues.

Crawford has been thriving at home, continuing to bond with us, gaining confidence with an array of dogs, and getting bigger himself (hovering at the 30 lb mark!)  We first noticed that he had been scratching at his ears several weeks ago, but did not make too much of it.  But it seemed to become more of distraction for him.  When we let him out of his crate to potty in the backyard, he would spend the first minute or so only taking a few steps before stopping to scratch.  Sometimes, even in mid-stream, he’d have the urge to try and scratch.  The insides of his ears were red and inflamed with superficial marks from his scratches, but without any drainage or foul smell.  We decided it was time for a visit to the vet.

At our visit to Dr. E, she took a swab from each of Crawford’s ears to have a look under the microscope (for hyphae?).  Dr E’s DDx: yeast infection, allergy, or both, and to cover the bases prescribed a 5 day course of a topical ear solution containing the combination of an antibacterial/antifungal/mild steroid and a 3 week trial of the antihistamine Benadryl 25 mg po (by mouth) bid (twice a day).

The sedating properties of Benadryl are pretty well-known, and have created a market for the second-generation antihistamines like Claritin, Allegra, Alavert, etc.  Some docs specifically warn against driving after taking Benadryl.  On the other hand, sometimes a little sedation is not a bad thing.  Muahahahahahaha (evil laugh)!  Which brings us to another issue- Crawford still isn’t getting through the night in his crate.  Typically, besides barking to indicate a need to potty around 4 or so, to our dismay he’s usually up by 5:30 and refuses to settle.  After dosing him with Benadryl, I felt a little like the moms we read about who sneak a vodka shot into the baby bottle (or worse, ether fumes) so that the baby will sleep longer and they can get some rest.  Plus, the Benadryl dose is about twice what I’d prescribe for a human baby of Crawford’s size.  Oh well, Dr. E’s the professional.  Who am I to go against her plan?

Floppy, happy ears.

Floppy, happy ears.

Anyway, about a week later, Crawford’s ears look great and he rarely scratches at them.  We still have him on Benadryl, but, alas, it hasn’t had any obvious change on his sleeping habits.  Problem solved… or at least one of them.  Maybe a little something from the liquor cabinet?

Posted by: Jenn | March 20, 2009

Overhearing the boys

Dennis and Crawford were hanging out after dinner and I overheard this one-sided quippage:

Crawford, sit. Yes, good boy. [treat]

Watch me [motion to eyes]. No, that’s my chest. I won’t be objectified [no treat].

My guys are just too funny! And also cute, here’s a new one of Crawf:

Ahn, so tie tie. Must nap under the covies!

Ahn, so tie tie. Must nap under the covies!

Posted by: Jenn | March 5, 2009

Crawford makes a friend

Crawford enjoyed many, many hours of playtime with Mombasa, a 10 month old Basset Hound, when we were in Seattle recently. Here are our favorite pictures (hint: click “read more”)

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Read More…

Posted by: Crawford | February 8, 2009

Bling?

Lookies!! I has new stuffs! Dad calls it bling-bling.

C is for Crawford! And for C-surname.

C is for Crawford! And for C-surname.

So I looked up “bling” and “dog” on Mum’s computer and this is whats I founds:

Baroo?

Baroo?

But I am nots knowing whats that is. Ohs wells!!! Lookit me! I is the mostest handsomes!!!!!

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