Beastie BESTIES!

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Another week has passed of Germany’s lockdown. I do my best to get my entertainment wherever I can find it. Nowadays, it seems my best chances for live entertainment are in the backyard. As you can see, Tommi the lab puppy still enjoys being a “peeping Tom”. He looks in on Noyzi and Arran all the time.

A few days ago, we ran into my neighbor’s mom, who also lives in the neighborhood. She looks after Tommi while my neighbor works. Noyzi and Tommi had an adorable meeting. It was obvious they wanted to play. Arran, of course, was very cranky and wanted no part of the shenanigans.

Below is a video of a couple of Tommi’s visits. People seem to like the Noyzi videos, even though they’re pretty similar. I would like to make some music videos soon. I just have to decide what I want to try. I’ll have plenty of time undisturbed, since Bill has to work TDY for three weeks. I hate it when he goes away for long stretches, but it does give me the opportunity to do some creative stuff without interruption. I’ll probably practice more guitar while he’s gone, too.

Noyzi and Tommi are confirmed pals… and Tommi still loves to visit under the fence.

I might also add some travel posts, since this lockdown just HAS to end soon. I read a really sad story about German hoteliers trying to keep going while people aren’t allowed to stay for leisure purposes. They must be very scared about the future and trying to survive. Bill is giving the hotel in Grafenwoehr three weeks worth of business, but it sure as hell isn’t a pleasure trip.

Meanwhile, I’ll be trying to keep Arran going as I also try to teach Noyzi that he doesn’t have to be afraid of everything… like the television. Today’s featured photo is of Noyzi, who until a few days ago, had never been to that part of the bedroom. In fact, I don’t think he’d ever really come into the room. He’s afraid of the TV. He seems to think the people in them will get him. Meanwhile, Arran has had some tummy troubles lately, so he went to the vet the other day. I have to drop off a sample of his poop on Monday so we can see if he picked up a parasite. The joys of mundane, monotony… and I get to do it all alone throughout March. I’ve already told Bill I’m probably going to buy some new toys while he’s gone.

Hopefully, it won’t be much longer before we get vaccinated and things might be a bit more normal. I am so ready to travel. My poor car keeps dying because I never drive anywhere.

Tommi is about to break on through to the other side…

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Here’s a quick post to update my last one about how our neighbor’s puppy has discovered a breach in the fence. A couple of days ago, we had a glorious and rare sunny day. I let the dogs out, and sure enough, we soon saw Tommi the lab puppy sticking his head under the fence. He’s very determined! He’s still growing, though, so I don’t know how much longer he’ll be able to do this.

I’m actually surprised Noyzi isn’t standing right by the fence to greet him. He actually backed away a bit as Tommi continued to engage. I suppose it’s time we got some cinder blocks or something. In other news, Noyzi just let Bill his harness on without any help from me, whatsoever! This may seem like a small thing, but he’s been terrified of Bill ever since we brought him home and until very recently, there was no hope of putting him on a leash without my assistance. So that’s another breakthrough. We’ve really been enjoying his personality, lately. He’s starting to show us who he is.

The last forty seconds of this video show Tommi, the cute Lab puppy, trying so hard to visit. It almost feels like a metaphor for the whole COVID-19 nightmare. We all want to visit, Tommi.

Aside from the cold, rainy, depressing weather and Noyzi’s antics, not much else is going on. The crappy weather continues. The lockdown continues. My beer gut keeps expanding. I watch more bad TV and dream of the day when I can post some more adventures that involve actual travel. The one consolation is that I know we’re all pretty much in this shitty boat right now. I’m just grateful I had the opportunity to see a lot of Europe before the pandemic started. I would hate to be a young bride coming here for the first time, eager to travel, and forced to stay at home for months on end. It sucks. At least the weather is bad enough that I probably wouldn’t want to go anywhere anyway, even if we weren’t locked down.

Here are a few more photos of Noyzi, who is learning that the iPad won’t kill him. He’s learned to strike a pose and is quite handsome. I think he knows it, too… and uses his charms to score people food. I love giving him bites of food. It’s like dropping letters in a mailbox. His mouth is so big, and he opens it like a maw!

And here are a couple of photos I took on our most recent walk together. As you can see, the water is HIGH! It’s gross in the backyard… totally sloppy and messy.

I look forward to drying out.

Noyzi’s savior… a sunflower planted in the right place

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By savior, I mean the man who saved Noyzi’s life when he was unceremoniously dumped on a street in Pristina one day in 2018. Noyzi’s very first rescuer is a young man named Florent who has a habit of taking care of street dogs. There are many homeless dogs in Kosovo, and a lot of people don’t like them. So Florent does what he can to help them. He gets some help from others who like dogs, like my American friend Meg, who was responsible for bringing Noyzi into our lives. Meg used to live in Kosovo and has many contacts in the countries that were once collectively known as Yugoslavia.

Kosovo’s population is mostly Muslim. On the whole, the Muslim culture doesn’t value canine companionship. There are also many poor people living in Kosovo. Many of the dogs that have value in Kosovo are working dogs, rather than pets. At the same time, spaying and neutering pets is not a popular practice.

Just last week, someone dumped three female puppies near Florent’s house. Meg has told me it’s because females get pregnant and people don’t want to deal with pregnant dogs. I saw a picture of the female puppies that were rescued in another part of Pristina last week. They look like could be Noyzi’s sisters, and they are just as young and tiny as he was when he was found… about four weeks old. They’re lucky they were simply dumped. I read a horrifying account of what regularly happens in nearby Albania, when it’s time to cull street dogs. A woman from New Zealand who lives in Albania rescued a street dog and blogged about it, as well as the plight of beautiful Albanian dogs who roam the street and are horribly abused or killed in very inhumane ways. Parvo virus is also a constant threat to puppies in Kosovo.

This is Noyzi’s namesake!

So there I was last night, newly friends with Florent, and he was telling me about Noyzi, and how he got his name. Kosovo is a “brother nation” to Albania. The people who live there are mostly ethnically Albanian and speak Albanian. There is a rapper in Albania whose name is Noizy. Florent says he likes Noizy’s music, and the dog, Noyzi, was kind of noisy when he was found. He’s not very noisy anymore. I did change the spelling of Noyzi’s name for a couple of reasons. First off, I’m a spelling nerd, and kept wanting to write Noisy instead of Noizy. And secondly, on his paperwork, it’s spelled Noyzi. I figured it would be easier to keep it spelled as it is on his documents. I had originally meant to change Noyzi’s name, but I could not think of an appropriate new name for him. Now that I know that the name has a connection to his homeland, I’m glad we kept it.

Around the time we first got Noyzi, Meg told me a bit about how she came to take him into her rescue. I wrote about that on my original blog. It was back in October, just a few days after we finally had him in our home, when I was thinking about how the stars aligned for us to have this dog from Kosovo in our family. We’d been waiting a long time for a new dog to come into our lives after we lost our sweet beagle, Zane, on August 31, 2019. We tried to adopt another beagle in March of 2020, but that experience ended in senseless tragedy. About a month later, April of last year, I saw Noyzi’s picture for the first time. There was something about his face that touched my heart. I wanted to know more about him. Before I knew it, I was agreeing to adopt him.

It took six months until we were finally able to get Noyzi and bring him home. That adventure, which happened in early October, involved going to Slovenia to pick him up. That was the last time I left our neighborhood… and the last time I was in a car. COVID-19 has really altered my lifestyle in so many ways. A year ago, we were planning trips to France. Now, we’re waiting until it’s safe to travel… and instead of writing about our adventures in other countries, I’m writing about this big, sweet, skittish, and shy dog from a country not everyone even recognizes. And I literally haven’t been anywhere in months since we brought him home. Surprisingly enough, it doesn’t bother me that much.

Last night, while many of my friends and loved ones were reeling from the drama happening in our country, I was sitting in Germany, and Florent was telling me about what it’s like to live in Kosovo. According to Florent, Kosovo is kind of like a “jail”, which is only good for people who are wealthy or politically affiliated. Maybe Donald Trump ought to look into moving there, since it seems like no one else wants him. On the other hand, Florent makes it sound like Kosovo has more than enough problems. I got the sense that maybe he’d like to move somewhere else. I understand how that feels. I was ready to leave the United States in 2014, and that was before I knew what was on the horizon.

Florent shared a couple of videos of the tiny puppy version of Noyzi, greedily eating kibble and yogurt. I can see that he’s always loved food, although it took him awhile to learn the concept of treats and “people food” in our house. He will let Bill pet him and give him a treat, but only if he’s in his bed. The bed seems to be his safe zone, and he stays there almost all the time. But he will come to me for treats and snacks, and to be walked. He loves taking walks, though I had to teach him about leashes and show him that they aren’t meant to hurt him. He will let Bill walk him, but only if I put the harness on him. He won’t let Bill do it.

Although his savior was a man, Noyzi doesn’t like men. When he sees male strangers on the street, he panics, and will backpedal or try to bolt. When we first got Noyzi, he used to get so scared that he’d pee involuntarily. Some things would literally scare the piss out of him. That behavior has stopped, which is a blessing. However, I have never needed to house train him. He naturally goes outside to do his business. Noyzi also doesn’t like sudden movements or noises. It’s like he has PTSD. And yet he’s so sweet and basically well-behaved. He doesn’t have an aggressive bone in his body. He keeps himself clean, and even takes care of the dog toys, “saving” them from our other dog, Arran, who likes to destroy them. Noyzi will grab them when Arran isn’t looking and stack them in his bed, like they’re his friend.

Noyzi has been acting more like a normal dog lately. He loves to run around the yard, especially before and after a dump or a walk. He loves being brushed, and although he’s so far only had one bath, he does enjoy being bathed. Once he realized that warm water feels good and being scrubbed is a pleasant experience, he was happy to sit in the shower and get clean. Florent told me that street dogs are very smart. They know what it’s like to have no food or water or love… so when they find a home, they adapt fast. Florent also told me that he had rescued a dog that ended up going to one of our soon to be President Joe Biden’s friends. I can believe it, since there are Americans who work in Kosovo. It wouldn’t surprise me if one of them, working in government service, took one of Florent’s rescues.

Our conversation went on for about an hour or so, and then Florent said something that was very profound to me. He told me that he rescues dogs because “they are angels, and God is testing us with them. And if we help them, God will love us.” I remember being a senior in high school, when the Eastern Bloc was falling apart. My government teacher, Mr. Jim Eccleston, was talking about the fall of the Iron Curtain, and described Albania as the “Iron Lampshade”, since all of the other countries were opening up and Albania was the one holdout. At one time, it was the site of the harshest and most repressive Communist regime in Europe. When I lived in Armenia in the 1990s, there was a violent uprising in Albania that became the Albanian Civil War. The Peace Corps program there was suspended and the Volunteers had to be evacuated. They later reopened the program. I have always been curious about Albania, and I’ve seen that parts of it are very beautiful. I would like to visit sometime… but hopefully at a time when the street dog problem is handled more humanely.

Florent says Kosovo isn’t such a great place right now. A lot of people don’t have anywhere to go. He described himself as “a sunflower planted in the wrong place”. But then he told me about how he and Meg once rescued six puppies stuck in a hole at a train station. One by one, they pulled them out… and if Florent hadn’t been there with Meg, those puppies would not have survived. I can’t help but think that this young man, who obviously has faith in God and a love for animals, is a sunflower planted in the right place. He brings light, beauty, hope, and humanity to dogs who just want to find loving homes. They just want a safe, warm, dry place to sleep, enough food, walks in the sun, and someone to shower them with love in the form of kind words, loving pets, and treats. And every time one of Florent’s dogs finds a new home, the sunflowers are planted anew… in Germany or the United States, or Poland… or any of the other places where they find themselves with people who want them and are committed to loving them forever.

An example of the good work Florent has done.

It’s been such a privilege to have Noyzi in our lives, especially during this endless pandemic. He’s given us something to focus on besides all of the bad stuff. And every day, he surprises us with something new and adorable. By saving Noyzi’s life, Florent gave us an amazing gift… and a permanent bond to a country where there are still many sunflowers waiting to be harvested. Florent may not know it, but what he’s done has had ripple effects way beyond Kosovo.

Crosspost: Hugo and Viva put things in perspective

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This post also appears on my main blog, The Overeducated Housewife.

I was really struggling for something to write about today. I wanted to write something nice… something non-depressing. I wanted to write something different than my usual stuff. As I was enjoying lunch with Bill, I happened across a new video posted about a disabled dog I’ve been following on Facebook. His name is Hugo, and he has a Facebook page all of his own.

I first became aware of Hugo when my German friend, Susanne, shared his story with me. Hugo was born in Romania, where there is a big problem with stray dogs. Someone very cruel wanted Hugo dead, and decided he should die in an incredibly inhumane way. This person took Hugo to a pile of snow, tied up his legs with wire, and left him there to suffer as he waited to die in agony. No one knows how long he was left like that. Although the dog did manage to free himself, unfortunately, when he was found, all four of his feet were necrotic. The vets in Romania could see that Hugo was a fighter, so they decided not to euthanize him. But all four of his paws had to be amputated, leaving him with stumps that didn’t want to heal too easily.

Hugo’s story… in German.

For six months, Hugo was unable to stand up, and he lost a lot of muscle. He was eventually adopted by a German woman who lives in Baden-Württemberg. Unfortunately, the stumps were miserable for Hugo. His new “mom” tried everything she could think of to help him. One day, she asked for ideas about how to cover his stumps on Facebook. A local shoemaker named Daniel came to the rescue and made custom shoes for Hugo. The shoes made all the difference. Hugo can now walk and run, although the shoes have to be repaired occasionally. Daniel did this work for free– unless you count the chocolate he was given by Hugo’s grateful family, who make it a habit to adopt special needs dogs.

On December 12, Hugo’s family visited the Tierheim (animal shelter) in Heilbronn, where they found a little dog named Viva who has no hind legs and gets around using a “wheelchair”. Hugo came along for the ride so he could meet Viva. Apparently Hugo liked Viva just fine and was happy to have a new “sister”. Viva became part of Hugo’s family, along with an existing blind dog named Bertl. Another dog, still in Romania, will soon be joining these three. And how are Hugo and Viva getting along? See for yourself! Bertl is also in the video, but plays a supporting role.

When I saw the video I linked above, my heart just melted. These two dogs don’t seem to realize that they’re in any way “handicapped”. They’re happy as they can be to be able to play together in a loving home. And they’re able to play pretty much as if they were both completely normal dogs.

Maybe I should think about Hugo and his friends next time I’m feeling depressed and incompetent. A lot of people would have euthanized Hugo when they saw how badly injured he was when he was found in Romania. But he was given a chance and he’s risen to the occasion. The same goes for little Viva, who is certainly living up to her name. Both of these dogs have indomitable spirits, and they have been able to thrive thanks to the loving care of good people who were willing to find a way to surmount what must have seemed like insurmountable problems.

There are some really terrible people in the world. People who have no qualms about screwing over their neighbors to get what they want. People who would resort to violence and threats to get their way. People who are abusive and mean, who lie, cheat, and steal, or commit violent acts against innocents.

But there are also people who would help dogs like Viva and Hugo, and do whatever it takes to give them a good and loving home with an excellent quality of life. And there are kind people like Daniel who want to help, and create special shoes that not only helped Hugo, but also provide a precedent for another animal who might be in the same predicament. My heart is so full after watching these two beautiful animals play together, so happy and carefree, and really wishing for nothing more than what they already have. We could all learn a lot from them.

Incidentally, our own rescue dogs are doing great, too. Noyzi, our pooch from Kosovo, is getting more and more acclimated by the day. This morning, I let him out to pee and he got a sudden burst of crazy dog and went tearing around the garden at top speed. You’d have to see him in person to understand what that looks like. Noyzi is a big boy, so he can cross our backyard in just a few strides. But he’s quick and agile and can turn on a dime. He was especially animated this morning, and kept dive bombing Bill’s empty garden plot, which is still full of soil. When he was finished getting the tickles out of his feet, he came back inside and relaxed, very contented and happy.

Noyzi has discovered people food. He’s a fan.

I have never once regretted adopting any of the dogs we’ve had. Noyzi has been especially rewarding to get to know. He’s come so far in just under three months. He’s still afraid of Bill, but every day, he’s a little bit less so. It’s obvious that he loves having a family and a nice warm bed of his own. It’s an honor to be able to provide that for him.

Our pandemic dog rescue story… part one

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As of yesterday, our home became a two dog household again. I never thought we’d get there, but we have. This series is about our quest to adopt a dog in Germany, which took us all the way to Slovenia and back over the weekend. Before I write about our travels, I want to offer a quick backstory about our experiences with dogs as a married couple. Please bear with me! It’s all about preserving history.

Bill and I have been dedicated dog rescuers since 2002. I grew up with dogs in rural Gloucester, Virginia, but mostly focused on horses until I went to college. Bill never had dogs, but his mom had many cats when he was growing up. Bill can’t have cats because he’s allergic to them. But he can have dogs, and he is a natural dog “parent”. In May of 2002, I had just finished graduate school at the University of South Carolina and it was time I had a dog in my life again. I told Bill I wanted a beagle. He agreed that sharing our home with a dog would be most acceptable, and beagles have been in our lives ever since.

All of our previous dogs have been beagle mixes of some sort. The first one, blue-eyed CuCullain (CC) was a beagle mixed with husky and he had incredible ice blue eyes. We adopted him in May 2002 and lost him after sixteen months when he contracted Mycobacterium Avium, an extremely rare and fatal disease in dogs.

All the dogs we’ve loved before– CC, MacGregor and Flea, Zane and MacGregor, Zane and Arran, and Jonny, whom we never got to pet.

Next, in November 2003, we adopted a dog named Flea, probably the closest we ever had to a purebred beagle. He was found on the side of a road in Chester County, Virginia, starving, covered with fleas and ticks, and heartworm and Lyme Disease positive. We had Flea for six years, and along with our third rescue, MacGregor, Flea came to Germany with us the first time. We lost him to prostate cancer when he was about twelve years old, two months after we moved to Georgia from Germany.

MacGregor, Flea’s sidekick, was a beagle-basset hound mix who was incredibly smart and funny, but terrified of people he didn’t know. He adored Bill and loved performing on camera. We adopted him in 2004, mainly because Flea badly needed a “second banana”. After a few weeks of “working it out”, Flea and MacGregor became best friends. We loved him for 8.5 years, until he developed a spinal tumor. We said goodbye to MacGregor in Raleigh, North Carolina a week before Christmas 2012, when he was about ten years old. CuCullain, Flea, and MacGregor all came to us from BREW in northern Virginia.

Zane, who was my very special friend, came into our lives a month after after we lost Flea in November 2009. We had just moved to Georgia and he was handed over to Atlanta Beagle Rescue. His first owner had bought him at Petland and said she didn’t have the money to take care of him. Personally, I think she gave him up because she was too busy and he was in his destructive “teen puppy” phase. It took us about six months to turn him into a civilized pet, but once we did, he was an amazing gentleman. Zane was with us for almost ten years until we lost him on August 31, 2019 to lymphoma. He was almost eleven years old when he died. I think Zane was mostly beagle with a dash of Labrador Retriever. He never met a stranger and loved to play. I adored him and was crushed when we lost him.

We got Arran in January 2013, when MacGregor passed. He came from Triangle Beagle Rescue out of Raleigh, North Carolina, and appears to be a mix of beagle and German Shorthaired Pointer. He’s about eleven years old, and he’s sweet, cuddly, emotional, soulful, and very jealous. Bill is his favorite person, as evidenced by the many pictures I’ve shared of him on social media. Arran is a wonderful dog who doesn’t need a “second banana”. But I needed one.

We usually adopt a new dog within a month of losing one. Since we live in Germany now, it’s not as easy for us to adopt dogs. There are a lot of reasons for this. One of the main reasons is because local pet shelters don’t like to allow Americans to have dogs. Too many military folks have abandoned animals in the shelters here, to the point at which they don’t trust us anymore. Some rescues also don’t want to adopt to Americans because there have been cases of adopted animals being abused, abandoned, or neglected. Certainly, not all Americans are abusive to animals, but unfortunately enough of them have been that we all get painted with that broad brush in some parts of Germany. I didn’t want to buy a dog from a breeder, because I know there are so many dogs who need homes. So we waited about six months after losing Zane to try to adopt from a German rescue organization. That attempt to adopt was successful in that the rescue didn’t mind that we were Americans. Unfortunately, it ended with a needless tragedy.

Our brand new canine family member, currently named Noizy, was a much anticipated arrival. Noizy came into our lives in April 2020, a couple of weeks after a dog we tried to adopt escaped before he made it into our house. We were absolutely devastated about what happened to Jonny, the dog who was supposed to join us last March. You might say that, in a weird way, Jonny was a casualty of COVID-19 and extreme negligence. But when he died, he also helped save two canine lives– Noizy, and Max, an elderly cocker spaniel who found himself abandoned at our Tierpension when his owner died. The proprietor offered him to us, but since we had already committed to Noizy, I ended up sharing his story in a local Facebook group and Max was adopted by a teacher at the American school in Wiesbaden. I take comfort in knowing that losing Jonny meant that two dogs got new homes. Still, it was horrible what happened to him.

We were approved to adopt Jonny, a beautiful beagle mix from Sardinia, in mid March 2020, right around the time COVID-19 was getting really bad in Europe. Originally, we planned to drive up to northern Germany to pick him up from his foster family’s house. But before we could make travel plans, the local command issued General Order #1, which forbade us from leaving the Wiesbaden area. We let the rescue know that we couldn’t travel and offered to pay Jonny’s expenses until we could go get him. The rescue wouldn’t agree to that, but proposed that we could pay for a pet taxi to have him brought to us. Long story short, Bill ended up agreeing, and after hasty arrangements were made, Jonny was picked up by a pet taxi and driven to Wiesbaden overnight.

The woman who had brought Jonny to us had driven all night from northern Germany. She was exhausted, having told Bill that she had been driving for seventeen hours. For some reason, she had not properly secured Jonny with so much as a collar and a leash before she took him out of her pet taxi. She put him down on the ground, completely naked, and tried to use a lasso leash on him. The dog backed out of the lasso before it tightened, took off running, and soon found his way to the Autobahn, where he eventually got hit by a car. We were given the terrible news about it the morning after we lost him. The pet rescue found out first, because Jonny had a microchip. I also got contacted by a club in Germany that helps the police inform people of their pets’ deaths. That was weird. Especially since he wasn’t really our pet yet. There’s a club for almost everything in Germany.

Complicating matters was the fact that a couple of people in Bill’s office were sick with COVID-19, and we found out about that the morning Jonny ran away from us. Bill was forced to quarantine just a couple of hours after Jonny escaped. We couldn’t look for him ourselves, but even if we could, he didn’t know us at all. He’d never even so much as sniffed us. We never petted him. I don’t think we would have been able to catch him, even if we could have found him. It was just heartbreaking; he was only about ten feet from our front door when he escaped.

I will never forgot how absolutely horrible that experience was… I definitely learned some lessons from it. In fact, as I type this, Bill is heading to court to testify about what happened to Jonny. The rescue sued the pet taxi driver, who refused to take any responsibility for what happened. (Edited to add: I just learned that at the last minute, the pet taxi driver decided to settle and Bill didn’t even have to be at the courthouse today… so basically, we rushed back to Germany for nothing. Oh well. At least she finally took responsibility. Wish they’d told us sooner.)

Anyway, last spring, I was feeling distraught about the Jonny’s sudden death. Bill and I don’t know how much longer we’ll live in Germany, and it seemed impossible to get another dog. I’d had my heart set on Jonny. Thanks to COVID, my reluctance to buy from a breeder, and German prejudice against Americans adopting dogs from Tierheims (even if it is justified), it seemed like we’d be a single dog household until we eventually depart Germany, and I have no idea when that will be. One day, I posted on Facebook that I really wanted another dog.

Within minutes of my post, my friend Mary sent me a message. She said she could put me in contact with an American woman who rescues dogs. Before I knew it, I was chatting on Facebook with Meg, who had lived in Kosovo, a tiny breakaway nation that was once part of Yugoslavia and is not recognized as its own country everywhere. Meg now lives in Germany, but still has many dogs in Kosovo who need homes. She is very committed to seeing that the dogs she rescues all get the sweet life off of the streets of Kosovo.

My heart was already kind of leaning toward adopting a dog from the East, even before we lost Zane. I have another Facebook friend named Trish who used to live in Stuttgart and was also living there when we had our latest Stuttgart stint. Trish adopted a beautiful female dog from a shelter near Dubrovnik, Croatia. Trish had said her dog, Phoebe, was the “best souvenir ever”. I had watched in delight as she posted pictures of Phoebe, who went from homeless Croatian street dog to beloved canine family member. I was inspired, even if I’m really used to beagles.

Anyway, after establishing contact, Meg sent me pictures of the dogs she had… and when I saw Noizy’s face, he made an immediate impression on my heart. I asked Meg about Noizy and she gave me some of his details. I told Bill about him and shared his story and photos. But we knew it would take awhile before Noizy would be part of our household.

First, he’d need to pass a blood test. Then there would be a four month waiting period after the test. There was also COVID-19 to consider, with borders opening and closing at varying intervals on a weekly basis. COVID-19 also made it temporarily impossible to export Noizy’s blood sample to a veterinary school in Germany, where it would be tested. Planes weren’t flying for awhile in the spring, and that was the only way to get the sample out of Kosovo. I think that logistical hassle added a month to the wait. Then the transportation had to be arranged.

All told, we’ve waited almost six months to bring Noizy home. There were times when it seemed like he’d never get here. Sometimes, I wondered how we were going to coordinate everything to get him to Germany, especially given the COVID-19 situation and the grim news reports about how there will be a second wave.

Noizy arrived last night after a very long, yet whirlwind, two day journey from his homeland. This series I’m going to start today is about that journey. I’m going to include the usual hotel details, as well as what little I got to see of the places we stayed, but this trip wasn’t about sightseeing. It was about expanding our family to a very special dog whom I hope will have a long and happy life with us. I’m sure this is just the first of many stories I’ll have about our new family member, a big dog from a tiny country… who came to us all the way from Kosovo and has already made a home in our hearts.

Post pandemic trip number two– Eagles and wolves and goats, oh my!

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Saturday morning, we decided that after breakfast, we would visit Gerolstein, the land of famous bubbly water that drew me to the Eifel in the first place. After taking the slow elevator to the reception area of the hotel, we walked into the hotel’s restaurant/bar area and found our assigned table, still with its personalized ceramic nameplate. I ripped off my mask, and Bill fetched some Brötchen. A lady came around to take our preferred hot beverage order. We got a Kännchen of coffee, and I put the mask back on for a trip to the buffet. I was actually kind of surprised that they were doing a buffet breakfast, given that so many practices have been altered due to the virus. I did notice that the staff was rather strict about the mask use. One guy was kindly but firmly reminded as he approached the buffet. He dutifully put the mask on and went looking for his morning Wurst.

Besides the usual breads, cheeses, sausages, smoked salmon, and fruit offered for breakfast at a lot of German hotels, the Hotel Zur Post in Meerfeld also offers hard boiled eggs. Bill and I had them all three mornings and they were perfectly done. Bravo to them for that. When we were in Strasbourg, France back in February, I was served an almost raw egg at breakfast. I was pretty grossed out by it. But that place made up for the egg fiasco by also having really excellent brownies at breakfast.

We weren’t totally sure what we were going to end up doing after we visited Gerolstein, so Bill and I took along our bathing suits. I knew that I wanted to visit the Vulkaneifel Therme in Bad Bertrich at some point, and I wasn’t sure when we’d do that. The trip to Gerolstein took us in the opposite direction of where we’d need to go to get to the Therme, but you never know when you’ll run into a good swimming hole.

The drive to Gerolstein from Meerfeld was extremely pretty. We even pulled over so I could take a few pictures of the stunning countryside. I also played around a bit with the features on my digital camera, which doesn’t get used as often as my iPhone camera does.

As we were heading toward our destination, I read a news article about a German “Rambo” who was on the loose in Oppenau last week. I mentioned in a previous post that we were once in Oppenau and needed to call for help, but were unable to get a cell signal. We had just visited the Allerheiligen Wasserfälle (All Saints Waterfalls), which are located in the Black Forest near Oppenau, when we came upon a motorcycle accident. A group of bikers had come around a sharp corner too fast and one of them went over the side of the road. It must have happened literally minutes before we encountered it. One of the bikers asked if he could use my phone to call an ambulance. Unfortunately, there was absolutely no cell signal whatsoever.

I was reminded of that lack of cell coverage when we were in the Eifel, but I was reminded of Oppenau because my German friend told me about the German Rambo guy… a heavily armed reclusive man named Yves Rausch who was running amok near Oppenau after having held up four German police officers and stolen their weapons several days prior. As we were headed toward Gerolstein, I read about how he’d been “rolled up” by the police… Oppenau would not have been a bad place to visit over the weekend. It’s very beautiful there, too… but no longer so close to get to as it was when we lived near Stuttgart.

We found a public parking lot near Gerolstein’s Kyllpark, which is notably good for kids. We didn’t plan to visit this park; it’s just where we happened to land. I was kind of delighted by it and got some pictures on a walk Bill and I took. It’s been too long since we took a walk in nature, although if I were going to plan a nature walk, I probably wouldn’t necessarily start with the Kyllpark, unless I had children with me. Bill, of course, has a big kid with him at all times… 😉 Here are some photos.

After our walk, we headed into town and walked around a bit. I needed to pee and did see a sign for a WC, but never ended up finding it. It was close to lunchtime, so I thought maybe we’d have lunch in Gerolstein. But we ended up just walking around some more, taking in the sights. At one point, we stopped for a rest and social media break and I started talking to Bill… then got off on a ranting tangent. He gave me this face…

I finally said, “Let’s move along, so you can recover your dignity…” I am very lucky to have a husband who indulges me so much.

I got some more photos of Gerolstein, which is, in fact, a nice little town with plenty of things to do… but I’m kind of glad we stayed in Meerfeld, because it was a lot prettier and its location forced us to move around the area more. Staying in a town like Gerolstein would have been very convenient. Maybe too convenient… There’s a lot to do in and around Gerolstein, though, and we would come back for another visit.

I never did manage to find a toilet before we got back in the car. Luckily, we picked a direction that took us right past the Gerolsteiner water plant… and up the hill to the Eagle and Wolf Park at Kasselburg Castle. I was pretty glad to see it, since this was another place we’d hoped to encounter during our trip. We were lucky enough to run into it by chance, and wonder of wonders, it had a place for me to pee in private. An added bonus was the amazing castle, as well as seeing animals. I love going to animal parks, especially if I get to feed the animals, too. This particular park is very well kept and offers stunning views as well as fun animals!

The Eagle and Wolf park costs 9 euros per adult and 6,50 euros per child over age 4. However, they do offer family cards for 35,00 euros, as well as group rates and special admissions fees for people in certain categories, such as the disabled. Dogs are not allowed, and there is a snack bar in the park, as well as an adjacent restaurant that one can visit before or after visiting.

We weren’t allowed to go into the imposing tower on the grounds, which suited me fine, since I can guarantee many steps were involved. However, we did walk around the castle ruins and visit the birds of prey/raptors. Some of them were a little depressing to look at, if I’m honest. They were completely still in their cages with lanyards attached to their legs. I was prepared for that, having read reviews on TripAdvisor about a similar place in Kintzheim, France. Some reviewers commented on the birds being attached to lanyards and the people who run the French Eagle Park explained that after eating, raptors sit motionless on their perches for hours. I also know that the birds are trained and do flight shows almost every day, so they do get to fly… and some of the birds were a little more animated, too. I got a kick out of a pair of randy owls in the palais area who kept flirting and cleaning each other’s feathers. The owls were not attached to lanyards, as they don’t tolerate them. They were aviaries and were more active. They all looked healthy.

Although my stomach was growling a little, we ended up walking the long way through the park, visiting the wolves. This Kasselburg park has Timber wolves and a couple of Arctic wolves. I saw the Timber wolves napping and I caught sight of one of the Arctic wolves, who was on the move, so I didn’t get a good picture. They also had wild boars, who were clustered together rooting around and eating something…. probably worms.

I was pretty grateful when we finally encountered the deer, which visitors are welcome to feed. You can buy a box of food from the machines at just one euro each. It’s worth it to interact with the very friendly and adorable goats, deer, ponies, and geese. Here are some photos of our visit to the park… which took us on a six mile hike. Been awhile since I last did that, and I must admit, it wore me out.

Just after we left the woods, we heard what sounded a little like donkeys braying… but I knew they weren’t donkeys. It wasn;t until we rounded the corner that I saw the source of the hubbub. A small group of deer were standing in the shade. I’m not sure if they were fighting or fucking, but they were sure making some noise! I think it might have been the first time I have ever heard deer making animal noises. I didn’t have much time to think about that, though, because I was soon met by my first beggar of many…

By the time we were finished feeding the animals, we were definitely ready for refreshment. So we went next door to the Restaurant Forsthaus Kasselburg, which offers traditional German food and beautiful views. It was a good place to stop for refueling. In fact, we were so well fed that we managed to skip dinner on Saturday night…

The restaurant offered reasonable prices, as well as a fun “sprinkler show” in the dining room, complete with cheesy Muzak. That’s really the only way I can describe it. It looked like the indoor dining room had a stage, and there were sprinklers in front of it, along with lights. I’m sure when the weather is less beautiful, the inside is nice to dine in. No one was eating inside, though… better for virus protection. I noticed that besides contact tracing (leaving your name, address, and phone number) and wearing masks, this restaurant also routed access to the bathrooms so you go in and out through different doors, thereby lessening the chance of exposure to the virus or other people.

By the time we were finished with lunch, it was mid afternoon, and we were pretty tired. I wanted to go swimming in the hotel’s awesome spa pool and visit the Meerfelder Maar close up. More on that in the next post.

New toy causes odd reaction in Arran…

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Since we’re stuck inside for the time being, Bill and I have been doing a lot of shopping. German businesses have predictably adapted to stay afloat during this challenging time. For some reason, Bill has been getting lots of ads on Facebook for meat. Pork, beef, and other butchered delights are being offered by local Metzgereien, complete with free delivery. He’s also getting ads for coffee. We’ve now fully stocked our liquor supply… which maybe we shouldn’t have done, but our mint plant has really taken off and maybe I’ll want to have a mojito or something.

I figured now was a good time to try new kitchen gadgets, so I decided to get us a pizza stone and an air fryer. The air fryer is an appliance I’d been wanting to purchase for a long time. I bought a Philips model, XXL, which is bigger than the basic, and one can also purchase baking and pizza attachments for it.

A new toy… takes up a lot of counter space, so it must live downstairs in the basement.

We tried it out last night. Bill cooked chicken leg quarters. They turned out deliciously, but after we ate dinner, we noticed a strange adverse effect on our dog, Arran. As Bill was clearing the table, I noticed that Arran didn’t seem to be feeling very well. He looked almost like he was about to have a seizure. He has had a couple of seizure like “spells” in the past, although they have been years apart. It looked like he was going to have another one last night.

Poor Arran had a frightened, confused, and sickened look on his face, like he might vomit. His tail was tucked between his legs, and he moved very slowly, as if he was off balance and on the verge of collapse. He started trembling, which automatically made me think of awful reasons why dogs suddenly start to shake. A friend of mine recently lost her dog to kidney failure, and trembling was her dog’s most prominent symptom. I worried that maybe Arran was trying to tell us something awful… He’s ten years old and seems very healthy, but I know all too well that dogs can have silent diseases that suddenly take them. Our dog, Zane, was diagnosed with lymphoma and died a week later.

Then I wondered if maybe the air fryer had something toxic in it that had poisoned Arran. I even looked up xylitol, which is a sweetener that is deadly to dogs. I wondered if he’d somehow gotten ahold of some. We even considered calling the emergency vet, then wondered if they’d be open during this cursed coronavirus crisis. I was very worried that we might experience another tragic canine loss.

But then I went Googling, and I came across this fascinating Reddit thread. About a year or two ago, many people posted about their dogs’ strange reactions to air fryers. The behavior they were describing was very much like what Bill and I witnessed in Arran last night.

Evidently, what Arran experienced after dinner is not uncommon in dogs when their humans start using new appliances. The air fryer was very quiet to us, but as a dog, Arran can hear things that we can’t. After reading the Reddit thread, it occurred to me that the high, whirring, fan sound of the fryer must have disturbed Arran’s inner ear, which would have affected his balance and probably made him feel sick. For him, it must have been like he was trapped at a super loud disco or something, and it just took awhile for his ears to quit ringing. That would explain his odd behavior last night. Thankfully, about an hour after we were finished eating and after lots of hugs and reassurance from Bill, Arran was back to his normal self. He’s just fine this morning.

People commenting on the Reddit thread wrote about their dogs not liking the Instant Pot, smoke detectors that beep, or other appliances that make a high pitched noises. We do have an Instant Pot, and Arran doesn’t seem to have a problem with it. In fact, he loves it when Bill gets it out, since he uses it to make homemade dog food. But clearly the air fryer is a problem. Fortunately, we have a fenced backyard Arran can hang out in, as well as a large house with distant rooms we can take put him in when we use the fryer. Or, I can just take him for an extended walk… which he loves and I desperately need to do more of for my health’s sake. According to the Reddit thread, just getting the pet away from the appliance when it’s operating is enough to prevent this odd attack.

For more reading about how our latest technology drives pets insane, click here.

Feeding frenzy at Wildpark Pforzheim…

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Today, Bill and I discovered yet another kid friendly local attraction that we should have discovered years ago.  I am not sure how we missed it after being in this area for a total of five years.  Nevertheless, this afternoon we visited Wildpark Pforzheim for the very first time and we both had a blast.

The Wildpark Pforzheim is a really cool park full of wild animals, many of whom are no longer all that wild.  Quite a few animals at the park can be fed zoo feed, which you can purchase at the park.  A few animals can also be petted in the petting zoo.

Amazingly enough, there is no entrance fee for this park.  You just pay for parking– five euros for three hours (ETA: I’m told it’s only two euros on weekdays).  And, if you want to feed the animals, that’s another two euros.  Naturally, there’s also a biergarten.  I think we spent a grand total of 21 euros for parking, one little bucket of food, and a snack of wurst, fries, and beer.  We did pay six euros total as a pfand for the beer glasses, but that was refunded after we returned them.

Anyway… here are some photos I took today, along with some lightweight commentary.  I think this will go down as another great weekend activity, especially if you have kids who love animals.  Dogs are also allowed at the park, as long as they are on a leash (though I did see a couple who weren’t).

This is the entrance to the park.  It’s a surprisingly big place.  Several parking areas are available, but it was still a bit crowded today.

The first thing Bill did was buy some food.  You can buy it at a stand near the biergarten, or at one of the many machines scattered around the park.  The animals that get this food are quite ready for you to offer it to them.

 

The animals that can be fed will have green signs on their enclosures.

The ones that aren’t allowed to be fed will have red signs.  Be careful with this.  If you get caught feeding animals that aren’t supposed to be fed, you will be stuck with the vet bill and kicked out the park.

 

Bill being the good provider…

There are cool carvings all over the park.

These two alpacas were very keen to be fed.  They stuck their heads out in an attempt to vacuum some food from my outstretched palm.  

A honey exhibit.  We stopped in on the way out of the park.  They show you how they collect it and sell some products there.

A very friendly creature… followed me eagerly down the fence line begging for food.

This one was not quite as eager.

I love donkeys and they had several lovable ones at the park.

The Highland cow was a little bit tricky.  Basically, the mouth opens, the tongue sticks out, and you dump some food on it.  

In the honey bee exhibit…

There were also a couple of aquariums.

 

A fish otter… sleek and shiny slips out of the water.

This deer got the last of my food.  She was working it.

So was he!  

A cooperative owl.

Wild cats…

The Wildpark Pforzheim also has a small ropes course, complete with ziplining, rope bridges, and climbing walls.  

I wish I were more athletic.  Parts of this really looked like fun!  

Smaller kids also have lots of activities to occupy them.  I took notice of several play areas for kids under age twelve.  The equipment was very sturdy looking and was well attended by happy children.

Kissing geese.  The animals in this area had signs on their enclosures showing the people sponsoring their care.

Donkeys grooming each other.

These two started butting antlers after I gave them a snack.

I’m not certain, but I think these pacifiers are left by people looking to have kids.  Someone can correct me if I got the wrong idea.  They were over by the chickens.  ETA:  My German friend Susanne has corrected me about the pacifiers.  Here’s her explanation…

 

LOL – I have to correct you, because you got the wrong idea about the pacifiers.  You even have the answer written on one of your photos. It’s a so called Schnullerbaum. An idea born in Denmark (1920’s). It’s for the children to help them to say goodbye to their pacifier often combined with a nice ceremony. ‘Ich bin jetzt ja schon groß und lasse meinen Schnuller los. Dem Taubenhaus geb ich ihn her, jetzt hab ich keinen Schnuller mehr! Die Tauben haben ihren Spaß: und ich geb jetzt ohne Schnuller Gas! – oder so ähnlich, couldn’t read the whole text because of the pacifiers. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schnullerbaum

Ein Schnullerbaum dient der einfacheren Schnuller-Entwöhnung eines Kleinkinds. Es kann sich sowohl um…
DE.WIKIPEDIA.ORG

I loved the owls.  They were so majestic!

There was one mini horse…

A good snack for after our walk.  They also had ice cream, soft drinks, and wine.  The nearby bathrooms were clean and ample and there was no Klofrau looking for 50 cents.

Another play area for small kids.  

I do love animals very much, but even I was surprised by how much fun I had interacting with all of them at the Wildpark today.  Most of them were really tame and happy to take food gently.  A few were bonafide hams in front of my camera.

Bill and I were marveling at how many awesome things there are to do in Germany… and how little they cost to do.  I was telling him that in America, it would probably cost $40 a person to attend a place like this, plus parking, overpriced food, and constant encouragement to buy souvenirs.  Also, there would be a lot less animal feeding going on and constant supervision by bored minders.  I love that here in Germany, there are places like the Wildpark where people are trusted not to be stupid… and you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to have a good time.

So… I highly recommend the Wildpark Pforzheim, especially if you have youngsters who love animals.  It’s a really good time!  I think I liked it even more than Monkey Hill.

I found my thrill at Monkey Hill– Affenberg Salem

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Bill made friends with a monkey today!

Sometimes I see people suggesting fun activities for people with kids.  Then I feel sad because I don’t have kids, even though I am a big kid myself.  I kept seeing people referring to a place called Monkey Hill down near the Bodensee and commenting on how much fun it is to visit there and feed monkeys.  It sounded like something I’d love, even though I don’t have any wee ones.  Luckily, I have a very indulgent husband.

Although the weather was a little chilly this morning and there were clouds in the sky, we decided we were going to go see some primates come hell or high water.  We left the house at about 11:30am and headed down 81.  After driving past the lake and through a few quaint towns, we arrived at Affenberg Salem at a couple of minutes past one o’clock.  The parking lot was full of cars.  Some guy gave us a dirty look because Bill accidentally turned a way he wasn’t supposed to.  I returned the dirty look and laughed hysterically when the guy saw me glaring at him and reacted with surprise.

You gotta finish your smokes, food, and drinks before you enter.

We found a parking spot and paid nine euros each for admission.  Then we set off into the park, where ducks, swans, fish, water bats, and other water fowl cavort in a large lake.  Not having been to Monkey Hill before, I wasn’t sure when we’d be seeing the monkeys, but I had a good time feeding the huge fish with the free food provided.

One handful, please!

Loads of huge carp in this lake.

Feeding frenzy!

Stork nests are everywhere!

They have bats, too.

I was getting a kick out of the territorial swans.

Ever present rapeseed will soon turn my nose into a faucet.

 

As we approached the area where the monkeys were, a lady announced the rules in German.  Somehow she knew we weren’t German and offered us a book with the rules translated in English.  It was good to read them, since the monkeys are smart and engaging with them improperly can lead to disaster.  She said her trusty book had the rules translated into about 30 languages.  I guess they get people from all over the place, although I didn’t think the park was super commercial the way Apenheul in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands was.  Although Apenheul is larger and has more types of monkeys than Monkey Hill does, it’s also more expensive and not as interactive.  Apenheul felt more like a theme park.

The signage in the park is translated into German, French, and English.  They also use a lot of illustrations.  

This dude was sitting at the beginning of the route.  I guess he was the boss.  He got a lot of attention.

These monkeys were all sitting on the route, waiting for people to hand them pieces of the free popcorn the handlers pass out.  When you give it to them, they take it very gently.  I felt like I was handing popcorn to a small child.  

Touching family portrait.

Spot the monkey in the photo!

It’s not a bad life.

This was an interesting graphic showing everybody typical monkey behaviors.  Bill got a kick out of #9.

I had only one piece of popcorn left.  It was small and one of the employees told me in German, then English, that the monkeys don’t like the small pieces.  Oh well.  If you visit, I recommend rationing your popcorn.  You will run into monkeys along the trail who will be hoping for a treat and aren’t at the top of the pecking order.  Also, if you understand German, you can stop and listen to the keepers talk about the care and feeding of the monkeys.  I found myself understanding snippets of things I heard.  It reminded me of tuning in to a staticky radio station.  I’d catch bits and pieces of things and the rest was all distorted.

Welcome to the Monkey House.

I didn’t see any snakes.  I’m glad.

There are deer here, living a nice lifestyle.

So many storks!

After you stroll around the monkey park, you can stop by the biergarten for lunch.  There are brats, schnitzels, pretzels, cakes, and all manner of beverages.  There’s also a play area for kids aged 3 to 12.

I was intrigued by the trees.

Parking and bathrooms are free of charge, too!

 

We had a great time at Monkey Hill, though we didn’t spend too long there.  They have a few indoor activities to include a film room.  There’s also a large gift shop, though we skipped it.  Obviously, this activity is very popular with kids and we saw a lot of them today, although it’s also fun for big kids.  I did see some people with strollers, too, though I don’t think you’re supposed to take them into the monkey enclosure.  This activity doesn’t have to take long, either.  We were there for less than two hours, although we could have taken more time to enjoy the park.  Afterwards, if you’re not ready to head back to Stuttgart, you can always go check out the lake.  Monkey Hill is very close to the Bodensee.

It was fairly crowded today; I imagine it gets packed in warm weather.  The park is a great activity for Sundays and holidays.  Below is a video I took of some monkeys playing.  I could have stood there all day and filmed their antics.

These monkeys were a lot of fun!

Making dog food with the Instant Pot…

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Arran

Zane

 

Here’s a non-travel related post that I’m putting up because I know many of my readers have an Instant Pot and/or dog(s).  Making homemade dog food is one way to put that gadget to good use.  If you just want to see the way we made the food, skip past the first seven paragraphs of this post.  😉

At the end of October 2016, my eight year old dog Zane had a mast cell tumor removed.  In July 2015, my other dog, seven year old Arran, also had one removed.  Neither tumor was particularly aggressive, although Zane has shown signs of being more affected by mast cell cancer than Arran has.  Mast cell tumors are a sign that a dog’s immune system has gone a bit haywire.  Some dogs only get one tumor and that’s it.  Others can get very sick from mast cell tumors and die within weeks.  I realize that not everyone has heard of mast cell tumors, so here’s a link to an article offering a basic explanation of what mast cell cancer is.  Mast cell tumors are extremely common in dogs, so all dog owners should know something about them.  Some breeds are more susceptible to mast cell tumors than others are.

Before Bill and I had Zane and Arran, we had two other beagles, Flea and MacGregor.  Both of them died of different cancers.  Flea had prostate cancer and MacGregor had a very malignant spinal tumor.  Although neither Zane nor Arran are anywhere near as sick as either Flea or MacGregor were, I have about had my fill of canine cancer.  I have recently made some changes in my dogs’ diets to help them live as long and as well as possible.

MacGregor (left) and Flea (right) when we lived in Germany the first time.  Both were claimed too young by canine cancers.

When Arran got his mast cell tumor in 2015, the first thing I did was switch dog foods.  I stopped buying any grocery store brand food and got them the senior formula of Orijen, which is an expensive grain free, high protein food made in Canada.  I order it from Amazon.de, but I have heard it’s also available at local pet stores here in Germany.  There are other good quality commercial foods available, too, and they are a better bet than cheap grocery store brands.  That being said, it’s a good idea to stay away from kibble if you can.  Although feeding kibble is very convenient, it’s not the best thing to give dogs who have cancer, even if it’s really high quality stuff.

Next, I put the dogs on what is known as Cleo’s Diet.  It’s a high protein, low carb diet for dogs who have mast cell cancer.  Basically, it consists of mixing a little bit of ricotta (or cottage cheese, if you prefer) with either fish or krill oil and feeding it twice a day with high protein dog food.  I give Zane Tagamet (an antacid for humans that I get from Amazon) at each meal and both dogs get daily Benadryl (an antihistamine), although Zane gets more than Arran does.  The Tagamet is important for Zane because mast cell disease gives him an upset stomach.  Both Tagamet and Benadryl block histamine.  Dogs with mast cell disease release too much histamine, which can cause tumors and make them feel sick.  The medications help block some of the excess histamine and heparin that can make the cancer worse.  Tagamet also has some anti-cancer properties that can help prevent cancer cells from attaching to internal organs.

I also give my dogs CBD oil (made from hemp).  Zane, in particular, has really done well on the CBD oil.  It obviously makes him feel much better by reducing inflammation and pain.  I have also used CBD oil on myself to rather amazing results.  It helped me get rid of a stubborn skin lesion I’ve had for months.  I get my CBD oil off of Amazon.de.  Anyone who wants to know which one is welcome to hit me up on my blog’s Facebook page or on my personal page if you know me on Facebook.

A lot of people swear by raw food diets for their dogs.  I do not give my dogs raw diets because they are not recommended for dogs with mast cell disease.  Mast cell cancer screws up the dog’s immune system, so raw diets can expose them to pathogens that might make the condition worse.  Instead, for us, the focus will be on not overcooking the food.  Homemade dog food isn’t just for dogs who are sick.  A lot of people feed raw or homemade diets to preserve their dogs’ health.

There are a lot of great groups on Facebook for people who have dogs with cancer or other illnesses.  There are also groups for making homemade food.  Since I got us an Instant Pot at Christmas, Bill and I decided to use it to make some homemade dog food yesterday.  At some point, I may take my dogs off commercial food altogether.  I bought our Instant Pot on Amazon.de, but it’s also available on Amazon.com.  It costs about $100 and you can get one with either 110 or 220 voltage.  I think there are two versions now.  I would opt for the higher speed one, as it also makes yogurt.

I thought some readers might be interested in seeing how we made the food.  It turned out well; the dogs love it and we can even try it ourselves.

The ingredients we used:  Fresh turkey breast, kale, spinach, broccoli, brown rice, lentils, water, salt, turmeric, and black pepper.

Bill prepares the ingredients.  We chose turkey as our protein source because Zane is allergic to a lot of things, including beef.  He seems to do okay with chicken, but we decided that since chicken is also a common allergen in dogs, we’d try a more exotic meat source.  We also have some rabbit that we’ll use at a later date.

The Instant Pot.  I was inspired to buy this handy appliance after reading rave reviews from one of my local Facebook friends who is a mom of three young kids.  Bill loves it for a lot of reasons, including the fact that it makes perfect hard boiled eggs.  The Instant Pot also makes yogurt.  I don’t eat yogurt, but it is a very good thing to have on hand for dogs with sensitive stomachs.  Bill likes yogurt, too.  Next Instant Pot project will probably be yogurt making.

Green vegetables are very important for a cancer fighting diet.  I picked up broccoli, spinach, and kale.  As you can see, they are of the frozen variety for now.

Arran was curious about what was going on.

One pound of turkey breast from the commissary, along with 1-1/3 cups of brown rice, 1/4 cup lentils (which we bought at a vending machine), 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric, and handfuls of the greens.  We could have also added a sweet potato and a regular potato.  Because we’re trying to avoid excessive starch, we omitted those ingredients.

We put the lentils and rice in the pot.

Bill cuts up the turkey.

Spoons out the turmeric, which is another powerful weapon against cancer.

A little salt.

Added to the pot, along with black pepper.

Next we added handfuls of the kale, spinach, and broccoli.

We added 3 1/2 cups of water…

and the turkey…

All set now.

I had made a video to go here, but the sound on it didn’t turn out very well.  I’ll have to try making one the next time we do this.  Bill set up the Instant Pot to run for 25 minutes on high pressure.  It actually takes a bit longer than 25 minutes because the pressure has to build and release.

This is what the food looked like after it had been pressure cooked for the allotted time.

It was a little bit soupy at first, probably because we used frozen veggies.  The rice eventually absorbed all of the extra liquid.

The end result was six cups of dog food.  We have already given the dogs a couple of very small servings to see how they react to it.  So far, they love the taste.

I am going to add links to a few great books for those of you who may be facing the same dog cancer battle we are, as well as links to some good Facebook groups.

Edited to add: Zane and Arran are still with us on February 8. 2018.  They still love this food and are as healthy as ever!

The Dog Diet Answer Book by Greg Martinez, DVM

The Dog Cancer Survival Guide by Dr. Damian Dressler

The two above books are good guides to learning about canine cancer.  The book below is a great book for learning about canine nutrition and homemade dog food.  The vet who wrote the book below also has some fabulous YouTube videos.  I recommend looking him up.

Canine diet and cancer Facebook groups I’m in…  All four have been helpful, but I recommend following them sparingly, because some of the stories and pictures are really sad.  On the other hand, there are also some great uplifting stories about dogs who have been helped naturally.

Holistic Help for Dogs with Mast Cell Cancer

Homemade Hope/Holistic Healing for Dogs with Cancer and Illness

Home Cooked Diets For Dogs

CBD Dog’s (for dogs with cancer) in honor of Crixus James Slygo Smith

Edited to add: I have left all but the first group: Holistic Help for Dogs with Mast Cell Cancer and the third group, Home Cooked Diets for Dogs.  The other groups were helpful, but my Facebook feed was getting clogged with sad stories about sick dogs.  Those two groups work best for us at this time.

Hopefully, this post will be helpful to readers who are also dealing with canine cancer.  My next post will be back to food and travel, as we are heading to France today!  And yes, Zane and Arran are coming with us!  Stay tuned!