dog rescue, dogs, Germany, pets

A “doggone” vent about certain types of people…

We woke up to a light dusting of snow today…

I usually try to keep the subject matter on my travel blog confined to posts about German living, light topics, and actual travel. However, as you might have read recently, even though some Christmas markets are still going, Germany is reeling from increased COVID-19 infections. It’s getting tougher to enjoy going out in public, thanks to increased rules about wearing masks and being fully vaccinated.

I’ve got no quarrel with vaccines. I am fully vaccinated and am scheduled to get a booster shot soon. And while I hate the face masks, I will wear them if I have to. But I don’t enjoy going out in a mask or having to show my certifications everywhere I go, especially since there is a risk that I’ll get the virus anyway. The weather also sucks. So lately, I’ve focused more on staying home, and that leads me to hang out on social media more than I should.

When we moved from Stuttgart, I made a conscious decision not to join a bunch of military Facebook groups. The reason for that is because joining them in Stuttgart led to my involvement in, and exposure to, a lot of unnecessary social media dramas. I also feel like I don’t mesh that well with a lot of people in military communities, even though I’ve been a military brat my whole life and was an Army wife for years. I do run a wine and food group, but I try to keep it low key. I don’t even care if people lose interest and leave the group because, quite frankly, running it is kind of a thankless job. But I am still in a couple of local Facebook groups. One of the groups I am in is the pet group.

The pet group is usually pretty helpful. Most people who participate are genuinely interested in finding the best local veterinarians, dog walking areas, and pet food. There’s usually not too much drama, and it’s a friendly bunch of people. But, every once in awhile, someone posts something that gets people riled up. A lot of times, the posts that piss people off are ones about rehoming animals. Last night, someone posted this, along with a picture that I am omitting…

Good Evening All,

Looking to rehome my 11 year old Chocolate Lab (although he is greying a bit) named Sugar(because he is a sweet boy). He has been in my life the last 9 years and deeply loved, but not getting the love he needs and deserves. His walks are getting to be shorter and shorter becoming simple potty breaks and back inside. And time between walks sometimes too long to be fair. He doesn’t get incorporated into our weekend plans anymore, and needs to be a bigger part of his new families life. The adjustment to stairwell living and no longer having a yard to run around and play means his level of activity is next to none now. We used to go on runs up to five miles together when he was younger, so he does enjoy getting out and moving. I had planned to have my mother take him this summer but things didn’t work out.

He just had his Rabies shot in September, is microchipped, and had his flea/tic prevention applied two weeks ago. He is in great health, his teeth and nails are upkept regularly, needs ears cleaned about every two-four weeks (probably more if his new family takes him outside more). He is excellent with children, and all other animals. Please PM me if you think you could be the new loving family this guy needs and deserves.

I usually don’t comment on these kinds of posts. I understand that sometimes people have legitimate reasons to rehome their animals. I would rather see a pet in need go to a loving home where he or she can be properly cared for, than stay in an environment where there is neglect or abuse. But this was the second rehoming post I’d seen recently that reeked of bullshit. The first one involved a beautiful German Shepherd who was offered up after the woman who took him in, suddenly determined, after about three months, that her husband was “allergic” to dogs, even though they already had a smaller dog. The woman also said she’s expecting a baby and feared the baby would be allergic, too.

The person who had originally rehomed her dog with the lady who was offering him up again is still in the group, even though she’s in the United States. She commented on the post, and was pissed. The German/American breeders also commented, upset at this change of events. And there was this beautiful animal, in real need of a good and loving home. Obviously, the dog needed to be somewhere else, but I didn’t appreciate the clearly bullshit excuses offered for the reasons why rehoming was needed.

I had the same irritated reaction to the above post, only it irritated me even more, because this dog is being rehomed after having spent nine years with his owner. So anyway, I decided to leave a response. Below is what I wrote.

I really try not to judge people who need to rehome their animals. I know sometimes stuff happens, and every single one of my dogs came to me because they didn’t work out in someone else’s home. But you have had this dog for nine years! How do you think he’s going to react to new people? He’s getting older, as we all do, and he has needs. How would you like it if your family rehomed you when you get older and have more needs? And why should someone else take the responsibility?

You live in a military community. There are plenty of older kids and teens who would be happy to help you out for a little spending money. Please reconsider this decision, if you can. That poor dog deserves better. He’s obviously been a great companion to you. You should try harder to return the favor. But if it will mean he will suffer, then maybe someone else should take him… but I hope that will mean you don’t adopt another animal.

Mine was just one of many similar comments. Some people were “nicer”, some were much less nice. The original poster commented to me thusly: “a lot of questions, but I didn’t see a PM?”

Someone else commented that people shouldn’t be offering comments or “advices” on this situation if they couldn’t help. I decided to respond to that, too. I wrote this:

If there is a compelling reason why this man, who has had this dog for nine years and brought him to Germany, can’t continue to care for him, I would love to know what it is. But as it stands now, it sounds like the dog has simply become old and inconvenient and he wants to pass off the responsibility of caring for him to someone else. That’s not kind to the dog, and it’s not really fair to the people who might adopt him, get attached, and lose him soon to old age. Rehoming is better if he really can’t take care of him. I just wouldn’t want to see him looking for a new dog.

Moreover, a post like this going to get honest feedback. That’s how the Internet works.

Mmmm’kay… here’s the deal. If a person decides to post something in a Facebook group and doesn’t turn off commenting, there will be comments made. The guy had jut asked for PMs only from people who can “help”, as in take in his dog. But sorry, people are going to react negatively to a post about an eleven year old Lab who has lived with someone for nine years and suddenly needs a new home. And people who decide to write such a post in a group full of animal lovers should be prepared to explain themselves.

I think it’s kind of sketchy to post something publicly in a group, but then demand that responses be made in private. It raises a lot of red flags. And while I get that no one likes to be scorned publicly, or responded to in a holier than thou way, I have personally been burned more than once in this country because I was “nice”, didn’t ask questions, and took someone at face value. The last time we did that, it led to a lawsuit.

Secondly, no one should be expected to engage in a private chat with a person they don’t know. In general, I don’t even like PMs from people I know well. I don’t mind PMs if the subject is important, but I don’t like them from strangers, and I don’t want to chat with people who aren’t friends. I don’t know this guy from Adam. Moreover, I can’t take his dog, because I already have two dogs, including one who is about twelve years old and is slowing down. I can’t even fathom the thought of giving him away, although I do realize that sometimes shit happens. But I think if one’s motives are pure and honest, one should be willing to explain. Especially when one is essentially asking people to do them a huge favor.

I noticed that the guy came back and left shaming and sarcastic comments to those who questioned him. That’s another huge red flag. If he really cares about his dog’s welfare, he should welcome questions, and be friendly and willing about answering them honestly. Being snarky and sarcastic, and shaming me for not PMing, is not a good look.

I didn’t PM this guy because I can’t take his dog. But I think I have the right to comment on his post, which was visible to everyone in the group. If his reason for needing to rehome is valid and doesn’t involve high pressure tactics, lies, or manipulation, he should be willing to be transparent. I get that nobody likes to be judged or shamed, but honestly, where has this guy been? He got treated the same way a lot of people who post rehoming requests get treated. In his case, it might have been more intense because he’s evidently had the dog for so long. But again, what the fuck did he expect?

I would have liked to have posted all of this to the guy when he asked me why I didn’t PM him, but he cowardly turned off the ability to comment. So that’s why he is the subject of my blog post today. I do wish him luck in finding an appropriate home for his dog. It sounds like the dog really would be better off with people who actually care and can commit to their pets for life.

Americans already have a terrible reputation among Germans for ditching their animals. It’s the main reason why I, as an American, can’t go to a local shelter and adopt a dog. I am discriminated against simply due to the fact that so many American servicemembers have abandoned their pets. And I think most people who know us will agree, Bill and I are excellent pet owners. It pisses me off that we are lumped in with people who pull this crap, and then get pissy when they are called out on it. We have a dog from Kosovo, mostly because of people who want to pass off their responsibility to their pets to other people. I don’t regret taking in Noyzi for a minute, but I do resent the hell out of being discriminated against simply due to the fact that I happen to share citizenship with irresponsible jerks.

I honestly don’t know if the man who inspired this post actually is an “irresponsible jerk”, but I’ve gotta say, based on my years of experience dealing with jerks, the signs are there. It seems to me that if the dog means that much to him, he should want him to go to a great home. He should have as many questions for potential adopters as they would have for him, because ultimately, giving someone the chance to adopt a wonderful dog is a great thing to do. I just wasn’t seeing that sentiment in this man’s post. He was more focused on people’s reactions to him and his ego, than the welfare of a chocolate Lab he claims he loves.

Now… I am a bit calmer. Below is a cute video from yesterday, starring my two boys, Noyzi and Arran,… both of whom are dogs we took in from rescues and have committed to caring for until it’s time for them to cross the Rainbow Bridge. Unfortunately, due to the snow and all the recent rain we’ve had, the backyard now looks like a slop pit.

I like to capture these moments when I can. And now that I finally have a new phone, so much the better.
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anecdotes, dogs, friends

Make new friends, lose the old…

This weekend has been a bust in terms of fun stuff. Although Christmas markets in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg have been canceled, the one is Wiesbaden is apparently still on. We got some sun yesterday, but I was waiting for a package that didn’t arrive until late afternoon. Also, I had a feeling that attending the Christmas market would be more of a hassle than I cared to experience. Even before COVID-19 was an issue, I was never one to enjoy crowded fests. We did attend a lot of them in the past, but I am not a freak about them, like some people are.

A lot of places in Germany are now employing 2G plus measures, meaning that a person has to be either fully vaccinated or proven recovered from the virus, and even then, they have to get tested. I am fully vaccinated, but it’s about time for a booster. So we stayed home yesterday. Today, the weather is crappy, so I don’t feel like walking around outside, and I don’t feel like dealing with face masks indoors. I don’t know if we’ll go out today, but I tend to think we won’t. It’s already two o’clock, and it’s dark and cloudy outside. I can stay in my warm house, listen to cheesy soundtracks from 80s animated films, and write blog posts… no need for vaccine certs or face masks… or a bra.

Last night, a topic entered my head that I thought might be a good one for this blog. Originally, this blog was supposed to be a travel blog, but COVID-19 has made traveling harder. So now, it’s more of an American’s “life abroad” blog. And there’s something I’ve noticed after living abroad a few times. It’s that friendships don’t always survive the move back stateside.

At this point, Bill and I have lived in Germany this time for just over seven years. During that time, I’ve only been “home” once. Because we’re here with the U.S. government/military, I’ve seen a lot of people come and go. I sort of made “friends” with some people. And the vast majority of those friendships have now ended as those people have moved on with their lives.

I noticed the same thing happened in Armenia. I made friends with people there– other Americans– and once we no longer had Armenia in common, the friendship fizzled. Now that I think about it, this happens a lot even if you don’t live abroad. How many people were you once friends with at a job or in school that you never talk to anymore? Before social media existed, it happened all the time. Then, when we had Facebook, or its predecessor, MySpace (which I rarely used), suddenly we were “friends” again with people we hadn’t seen since 4th grade. Gradually, some of those connections faded for any number of reasons.

I guess it seems stranger that it happens when you meet people while living abroad. For many people, it’s a life changing event to move to another country. I know that every time I’ve done it, I’ve changed and grown in immeasurable ways. In some cases, it’s made it hard for me to relate to people with whom I used to identify a lot more strongly. For instance, there are certain friends and relatives with whom I probably can no longer discuss politics or religion. In the case of my relatives, they’ll always be family. There’s always a chance we’ll meet again… maybe at a funeral or a wedding or something. Friends, on the other hand, are more likely to fade away permanently.

I’m always a little bit sad when I lose contact with someone I once called a “friend”, even if they were just a social media friend. Maybe younger people have less of a problem with it than I do. I grew up at a time when friendships meant more. Or maybe it just seemed that way. We had fewer friends, because those relationships had to be cultivated in person. Now, you can be “friends” with anyone, anywhere in the world. In some ways, that’s a great thing. I have some dear friends that I have never met offline. And I have other friends I used to party with who are now in my past.

I decided to write about this today because I realized, with some sorrow, that I don’t even really want to try to make friends with people anymore. I don’t want to connect with someone, only to have the relationship eventually fizzle out. That’s kind of a bleak way to look at things. I’d rather not be so cynical. But I also really try to be a good friend, even if I can sometimes be a bit slow to trust people. That comes from being burned multiple times. It also comes from the idea that a lot of people don’t know how to take my personality. Maybe that’s why I’m so much more comfortable with dogs and horses.

Speaking of dogs… our Noyzi has really started to integrate into the family now. He likes to hang out with me on a little rug by our bed. I had originally put it there for Zane, to give him traction when he jumped on the bed. Now, it’s Noyzi’s little spot when I watch TV, as you can see in the featured photo. Sadly, the man who rescued him got angry with me a couple of months ago, because I didn’t want to get involved in a fundraiser he was trying to organize. I felt it was not a wise thing for me to do, because he didn’t seem to have the fundraiser set up completely, and some of his practices seemed kind of sketchy to me. He got angry with me and blocked me on Facebook, which makes me sad.

Even today, I was thinking about what a miracle it is that Noyzi was found by this man in Kosovo. If it wasn’t for him, Noyzi would, at best, still be living on the streets in Pristina. But he’s here in Germany, giving and receiving a lot of love. He was even named by this young man in Kosovo and I kept the name, though I would have made a different choice if I had been the one to name him originally. I would have liked to have been actual friends with this man, who gave us such a gift. But it didn’t work out, because I didn’t want to bend to his will. He accused me of “playing games”.

I realize I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, but I truly don’t go out of my way to screw over anyone. I don’t try to annoy or offend people. I’m just who I am, which is apparently too much for some people.

Lately, I’ve realized that living over here can be kind of lonely. I do miss some of my family members, although I doubt most of them miss me. I don’t know if or when we’ll be going back to our roots, but even if we did, I don’t think it would be the same… and I would probably just want to move again. Moving to the States with Noyzi would be quite a project, so I am hoping we can put it off for awhile.

Anyway… this turned out to be more of an introspective and joyless post than I intended it to be. I guess I’ll close this post and go hang out with Bill, who has already been in here twice to talk to me, even though he knows I’m writing. We have chicken and homemade rolls to eat. Last night’s dinner was definitely a better effort than our Thanksgiving dinner was. Hopefully, the holiday spirit will kick in… maybe I will even be arsed to go to a Christmas market before they all get canceled.

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advice, airlines, dog rescue, dogs, pets, rants

A rant about the CDC’s new rule about importing pets…

If you are a regular reader of my blogs, you know that I have two adorable furry family members. At this writing, our dogs are Arran and Noyzi. Prior to our acquisition of Noyzi, we had another dog named Zane, who sadly died of lymphoma on August 31, 2019. The featured photo today is of Zane and Arran on August 2, 2014, when we flew from Houston, Texas to Frankfurt, Germany on a Lufthansa flight.

Bill and I have always had dogs. Next month, we will celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary. Our dogs have been our family members, because we were not able to have children. Although I don’t require an emotional support animal, I do rely on my dogs to keep my company when Bill travels. Prior to the pandemic and, more specifically, the new CDC restriction on bringing animals into the United States, it was a pain in the butt to move abroad with pets. Now, it’s become a real hassle for people who have to return home from living overseas. I fear that this new rule may cause a lot of pets to be abandoned. Here in Germany, that is bad news, since Americans already have a terrible reputation for abandoning their pets when it’s time to move. It really sucks for those of us who are dedicated pet owners.

This morning, The New York Times ran an article about the new rule and how it affects people who travel with their pets, or Americans who live abroad. I am a subscriber to The New York Times and have gifted this article, so you should be able to click the link and read it for free. I am a member of a Facebook group for people who are “PCSing” with pets, and there’s been a lot of worry about how to get dogs and cats safely to places abroad. Many of the people traveling with pets are young folks who don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on hiring pet shippers. And many of the people in Germany or other countries with pets brought their animals before this new rule suddenly went into effect. I have noticed that the government has, sort of, been trying to gradually phase in the most draconian parts of this new rule. But they still pose a huge problem for a lot of people who make their living abroad.

My dogs have always flown as “excess baggage”, which means they flew on our flights in the hold of the aircraft. That is the most economical way to transport pets. When Bill was still in the Army, our dogs flew on United Airlines and Delta Airlines respectively. Last time we flew with dogs, back in 2014, they flew on Lufthansa, which is a wonderful airline for pets. The luggage hold on Lufthansa is light and temperature controlled, and the animals are loaded at the last minute, so they don’t have to sit on the tarmac. But the United States government has a rule that makes using pet friendly airlines tricky for people who are flying on the government’s dime.

Because of the Fly America Act, people who are flying on taxpayer funds must use an American carrier for as far as possible. At this writing, only a handful of American carriers are still allowing pets to fly. Some people can get around that rule by booking their flights on a codeshared flight. Say you’re flying to Germany. To comply with the Fly America Act, you should be booking your flight on United or Delta. But you can book a Lufthansa flight through United and still be in compliance. Of course, thanks to COVID-19 and the new CDC rule, it’s gotten much harder to book flights. Some airlines won’t fly animals in the baggage hold anymore. Some will only fly small animals in the cabin, which can be problematic for those who have pets who are too big. Military servicemembers can sometimes use the rotator (Patriot Express) to fly their pets, but spots are limited and book up very quickly. I have read a lot of horror stories from stressed out servicemembers trying to figure out how to get their pets home.

Many people have used pet shippers to fly their pets. I suspect that if and when Bill and I have to move to the States with pets, we will have to use a shipper. Noyzi is a big dog, and he will probably need a special crate. He isn’t very heavy, but he’s tall and long bodied, and there are very specific rules on the sizes of the carriers that can be used. I have been saving money, because I’m sure he’s going to need to go cargo with a pet shipper, and that costs several thousand dollars, as opposed to the couple hundred per pet charged when flying them as excess baggage. Flying with a shipper is also a hassle, since it involves the dog going through a different part of the airport and possibly not coming on the same flight. We are currently fortunate enough to be able to afford a shipper, but not everyone is.

All of this is a real pain for anyone with pets and living abroad, but what is actually prompting me to write this morning are the negative, ignorant, and dismissive attitudes I’ve seen in some of the comment sections on the articles I’ve seen about this new CDC rule. I get that a lot of pet owners have done some “crazy” things, like bringing their emotional support kangaroos or peacocks on planes. I also understand that there’s been some very bad press about animals dying because they were transported in weather that was too hot or cold, or because someone put them in the overhead bin (which is just plain stupid). But there really must be a safe, affordable, and accessible way for people to travel with animals. Especially if we’re serious about not abandoning pets at shelters. This new rule is going to cause issues from negative troop morale to hostile host country relations. It will probably also result in a lot of wonderful pets dying or being abandoned.

So many comments on The New York Times article were from people who wrote things like, “It’s just an animal” or “Good! I hate flying with pets!” or “Americans who live overseas shouldn’t have pets.” This self-centered attitude is really distressing to me. I don’t have a problem with my dogs flying under the cabin, but it should be safe and affordable. And people should not be so narrow-minded and shitty about people who need to move their pets. A lot of these self-entitled twits are the same ones who condemn other people for needing to rehome their pets. It would be nice if people, in general, would have more empathy and understanding for those who aren’t like them. I get that some people have allergies or don’t like animals. I don’t like dealing with some people or their kids… some of them give me a rash or a pain in the ass. It is what it is. Flying is a hassle for everybody.

One lady kept writing about how when she was a “military kid living overseas”, her parents didn’t allow her to have pets. She implied that those of us in that situation should “suck it up” and live without pets. I finally had to offer her a cookie and a reminder that as a military “brat”, she should know that military families are diverse. To some military families, pets are beloved companions who make life easier and more worthwhile. And while it may not be practical to have pets when there’s a chance one could move overseas, life happens to everyone. Sometimes people in civilian jobs get the opportunity or find that they must move abroad. There should be a solution for those people, too.

In my case, I was not able to have children, and I’ve followed my husband to several different states and twice to Germany for his career. The career I planned for in public health and social work, back when I was single, has turned into blogging. I know a lot of people don’t think my blogs are worth anything, but they give me a reason to get up in the morning. My dogs help keep me sane and happy, especially when he travels. I don’t have a lot of human friends. We rescued Noyzi from Kosovo, where he lived outside with a bunch of other dogs. He wasn’t being abused in that environment, but he’s much happier having a family. Every day, we get to see him evolve and become more loving and trusting toward us. It’s very rewarding for us, and, I imagine, for him.

When we moved to Germany with Zane and Arran in 2014, the rules were already stricter than they had been in 2007 and 2009, when we flew with our previous dogs. Now, they have become downright oppressive. We made the choice to move here in 2014 because we wanted to live in Germany, but it was also the only place where Bill had a firm job offer after his Army retirement. It was either move to Germany, or be unemployed and soon land in dire financial straits. The move was a good one for us, but thanks to this new rule from the CDC, we’re going to have to do what we can to stay here for as long as possible. Abandoning our dogs isn’t an option, and it shouldn’t be something people are forced to do over well-intended, but impractical, rules imposed by the CDC.

At this point, Germany is not on the list of high risk rabies countries, nor are other countries in the European Union. But because of the CDC’s new rule, a lot of European airlines are not wanting to transport animals. They don’t want to deal with the hassle. And who can blame them for that? After January 2022, it’s going to be a lot harder to bring animals into the United States, because only three “ports” will allow them to enter– Atlanta, JFK in New York City, and Los Angeles. That will cause backups for sure. I truly hope this rule will be amended or abolished at some point soon. Otherwise, Bill and I will have to stay here until Noyzi crosses the Rainbow Bridge. At twelve years old, we may not have to worry about Arran for too many more years… although he’s proving to be a real scrapper in his old age.

Rant over for now… tomorrow, we go on vacation, and the boys go to the Hundepension. Hopefully, it will go off without a hitch, and I can write some new content about actual travel.

Edited to add: Here’s a link to a book review I wrote about a lady in Virginia who, along with her mom, adopted dogs from Turkey. Military and government employees aren’t the only ones affected by this ruling. She rants about the new rule in her book, too.

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dogs, German culture, Germany, pets

A family trip to the pool…

We had more beautiful weather today, so Bill really wanted to get out and do something fun. Yesterday, someone in the local pets group on Facebook posted that a Freibad (public pool) in Mainz was going to allow dogs to come hang out and swim. Bill and I had experienced this very German custom in Nagold back in 2018, a few months before we moved to Wiesbaden. At that time, we had Zane and Arran. Neither were fond of swimming and both were kind of old, so we opted to go without them. It was a lot of fun watching all the athletic dogs enjoying the water. You can see some of the photos from that outing by clicking here.

This activity is fun for many, but not all, dogs… I wondered how Noyzi would do.

This year, we have Noyzi and Arran. I was curious about how Noyzi would like the pool/dog park like environment. But Noyzi hasn’t yet been with us a year, and Bill still has trauma from our unsuccessful bid to adopt a more local dog. Initially, he wasn’t too keen on going to Mainz with the boys. So we were going to come up with an alternative plan. I suggested we visit either the Mainz or Kastel “beaches” (Strand), which are Biergartens on either side of the Rhein. Bill was okay with that… but Noyzi had other plans.

As we tried to exit the house, he made it very plain that he wanted to go with us. He even parked his big, lumbering body, right by the door! I took it as a sign that we should take the boys to the pool. Bill was still worried about accidents or potential tragedies, but I wore him down and he finally relented. So that’s what we did! We loaded the boys into the car and headed off to Mainz. Noyzi even jumped into the back of the Volvo all by himself, and parked himself in the back like a canine gentleman. Every day, I am amazed by how naturally well behaved he is, and how quickly he learns. It’s hard to believe he was born on the streets of Pristina. He is living proof that street dogs can make wonderful family members.

Below is a video I made. I put in a couple of my previously unreleased songs… they maybe aren’t the best I can do, but without them, you just get seven minutes of dogs running around and some shaky footage. It was all recorded on my iPhone. I had to be careful, too, as this is Germany, and not everyone at the pool was wearing a bathing suit. Didn’t want to catch anyone in the buff!

Next time, I’ll bring a better camera!

This event ran from 10am until 4pm. We left right at the end. I kind of wish we had come a bit earlier, although the weather was perfect, and everyone seemed to be having a blast. Our dogs didn’t seem too interested in leaving us, so we kept them on their leashes most of the time. If we hadn’t, I don’t think it would have mattered much. They were stuck to us like glue.

As it was the end of the season, they didn’t have much in the way of food… Just beer and pretzels and, I think, maybe some ice cream. Consequently, I’m pretty hungry now. I’m glad we went, though, because it was so much fun to watch all the dogs playing and swimming, as well as their owners. I didn’t see any bad behavior at all! And I was so proud of Noyzi, who even followed me into the kiddie pool. He wasn’t interested in the big pool, though. Maybe next year, if we’re still here, we’ll try again.

Below are some photos for those who’d rather see those. It was a nice way to spend a Sunday. These kinds of activities are pretty much why I love living in Germany. I think it’s great that they let dogs swim in the pool on the last day of the summer season! But I am sad that the weather will soon be schlecht.

One thing I love about Germany is that people here relish outdoor activities when the weather permits. There’s always something fun going on. And if you can bring your dogs, so much the better. Dogs are treated very well in this country!

I’m glad we opted to go to the pool with the boys today. We can go to the “beaches” in Mainz or Kastel some other time!

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anecdotes, dogs, Germany, pets, poop

Shit and run… now with poop flags! There could be a market for this.

A few days ago, someone in the local Wiesbaden pet group posted this…

Naturally, I found this hysterical and had to rip it off. This was something that needed sharing with my own demented friends.

I was reminded of something that happened a few years ago. Naturally, I had to post about it. Some local Germans got fed up with all of the people leaving their dog shit that they collected about 250 kilos of it and hung it around the neck of a statue. There have also been incidences of people getting in physical fights over dog crap. I think the above solution is much kindler and gentler, not to mention funnier. I would almost applaud the person who came up with this idea, except I’d be afraid of someone getting hurt by the sharp toothpicks. Plus, when it comes down to it, leaving “poop flags” is still littering. At least dog crap eventually biodegrades.

Guess this is a real problem in my neighborhood.

Still… I always admire German style passive aggression. This stunt is particularly funny. I almost wonder if the person or persons doing this are German. This seems more like the kind of thing a snarky Brit might do.

And since this is a pitifully short post, here are a few photos from the neighborhood I took this morning. I didn’t leave any landmines for my neighbors, either. In fact, I got too close to a nettle and ended up with prickly irritation, all because I did the right thing and cleaned up Arran’s shit.

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dogs, Germany, road trips, Switzerland

Our time in Die Schweiz was definitely not Scheißig… part two

First thing’s first. I have to write a disclaimer about the title of this series. I kind of made up the word scheißig– which kind of translates to “shitty”. I use the word “shitty” a lot in my daily language. Instead of looking up the actual German word for “shitty”, I decided to add “ig” to the German word for shit and hope it worked. My German friend tells me the German word for “shitty” is actually “beschissen”. However, apparently the word “scheißig” is used in slang situations, especially in Hesse. As luck would have it, I live in Hesse… and this slang bastardization of the word “shitty” works a lot better with “die Schweiz”.

With that explained, on with the tale of our trip. We planned to leave Wiesbaden on July 22nd. I had noticed our older dog, Arran, was having some dental issues. He yawned and I saw a black spot. His last dental cleaning was a year ago, but he’s getting to be an old codger. I asked Bill to take him to the vet to have him checked and schedule a dental cleaning. Bill took him in, got some antibiotics which Arran will start tonight, and an appointment for this Thursday, the 29th, for a dental.

Then, on Thursday the 22nd, we packed everything up and headed south, stopping by the Birkenhof Tierpension on the way, to drop off Arran and Noyzi. All seemed fine as we handed them over. Noyzi and Arran were wagging their tails and very excited to go into their “hotel room”, then out to play. (I promise, this part of the story is relevant…)

We headed down A5, which is also the route we now take when we want to go to France. At lunchtime, we stopped in Baden-Baden for lunch. Regular readers might remember that Bill and I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary in Baden-Baden back in 2018. We enjoyed a spectacular four nights in an upgraded junior suite at Brenner’s Park Hotel and experienced the famous nude Irish-Roman baths at Friedrichsbad. It was a little weird to be stopping there just for lunch on the way to Switzerland. Baden-Baden is a very beautiful town. I would have been happy to have just stayed there. But we were just there for a quick break. We found an excellent Asian restaurant called Vinami Asia Grill and Bar

Baden-Baden is such a lovely city. We probably should go back for a short break sometime soon. But, like Switzerland, it’s the kind of place where you need to bring lots of money! It’s not cheap!

After lunch, we got back on the road, noticing that there were many “Staus” (traffic jams). Fortunately, they were on the northbound side of the road, so we weren’t troubled as we made our way south. Bill stopped near the border to pick up a 2021 Swiss vignette (toll sticker). I’ve explained this a number of times on this blog. To use Swiss Autobahns, you have to have a special sticker, which costs 40 Swiss Francs. The sticker is good until January 31, 2022. The Swiss issue new ones every year, and you can get them at ADAC stores (or online), at rest stops near the border, or at the border itself. Most other countries that use the vignette system offer them for shorter stints and cheaper prices. Not the Swiss, though… so it pays to make use of the sticker if you live close.

The rest of the drive was pretty uneventful. We arrived in Zürich just in time for traffic/rush hour. Unbeknownst to us, our hotel was also near what would become a construction zone over the weekend. On the way to the B2 Boutique Hotel, we were able to drive straight through, although that took some time, thanks to all the traffic. But by Friday, the area we had come through to reach the hotel was completely blocked off. This caused some stress for Bill, even with the GPS going. I’ve never been a fan of using GPS… the voice always interrupts conversations and music. But Bill likes to use it.

Anyway, we drove up a hillside to get to the B2 Boutique Hotel. As usual, what I had pictured in my head was not what the reality was. Not that I was disappointed at all, mind you… It’s a beautiful hotel, and they’ve done a great job of turning what was a brewery into a nice place to stay– especially if you’re into spas, as I am. A year ago, Switzerland was very laid back about COVID-19 rules. I noticed that no one wore masks indoors in 2020. This year, there were signs everywhere demanding mask use.

I don’t like the masks, but I always cooperate… and yes, I have been vaccinated. Count me among those, however, who hope the mask mandates go away at some point. I really do hate the fucking things. In any case, everyone wore them at the hotel, and most everywhere else we went that was indoors. They had lots of hand sanitizer, too.

I booked us in a junior suite. I usually use travel sites like Expedia or Booking when I make reservations. This time, I booked directly with the hotel, because for some reason, the travel sites wouldn’t let me reserve for two people. They would only let me reserve for one. But, I did get a reward for booking directly… they gave us a free drink. Below are some photos of our room, which was rather unusual but comfortable. For about 500 francs a night, it should have been!

After we settled our bags and got cleaned up, we headed down to the wine library for food and beverages. We decided to try the locally produced Hürlimann lagers, as the hotel was once the Hürlimann brewery. The guy who waited on us for our first two nights was friendly enough, but not the most attentive. Still, the food was pretty good, and although our round of “free drinks” were puny, they were still free. And there was Swiss wine and lots of ethereal jazzy music, mostly performed by people like Diana Krall and Karen Souza… The wine list at this hotel features mostly wines made in Switzerland. We had the chance to try several of them during our stay.

Bill tells me dinner is ready, so I’ll continue with part three tomorrow!

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anecdotes, animals, dog rescue, dogs, emergencies

Pet pandemonium pauses our promenade!

Today is Bill’s birthday, and we have wonderful weather this morning. Yesterday, it rained most of the day, and the dogs didn’t get their walk until the afternoon. I was going to take them for a walk this morning and actually got underway. But our plans were abruptly thwarted by other people’s pets.

It started with an unusually brave white cat, who was loitering on our path. I saw the cat first, as it was big as life clinging to the wall. The cat saw Arran and Noyzi, but didn’t seem to be afraid. Cats usually run when they see my dogs, but this one was pretty defiant. He or she pinned their ears, arched their back, and probably hissed. I couldn’t tell, because Noyzi had just noticed. Arran, super hound cat buster that he is, was a bit like Barney Fife this morning. He was the last to see the white feline, who was warily watching the boys.

And then, just as I thought we might make it down the hill, along comes our neighbor dog, Tommi, the friendly Labrador. He charged up to Arran and Noyzi, completely unattended, although he was at least wearing a collar. Hot on his heels was our neighbor’s mother, a slim lady I’ll call Oma. I’m guessing she’s in her 70s. She speaks English well and is very nice, but she’s probably not strong enough to be walking a rambunctious young Lab. And, in fact, she wasn’t walking him. She had treats with her, but no leash.

Naturally, the dogs went nuts. The cat did not go nuts. I kept waiting for it to run away, but it just kept staring down the dogs. Noyzi was facing the wrong way as I tried to lead him away from the tantalizing pussycat…

The funny thing is, I have been using two regular nylon leashes and a harness with Noyzi because he’s a rescue from Kosovo and still pretty afraid of a lot of things. I attach one leash to his collar and one to his harness, in case I drop one. I might then have a prayer of stopping Noyzi before he bolts for the Autobahn.

Noyzi’s walking manners have improved a lot; he’s become much less fearful and wants to run more. Last week, on two occasions, he tried the retractable tape leash I currently use with Arran and used to use with Zane. I waited a long time to try the retractable leash with Noyzi because he’s so much bigger and stronger than were either Arran or Zane, or both of them together.

We did have some success with the tape leash last week. Noyzi seemed to get the concept of running just a little bit ahead and not charging off so fast that he pulls me over. I was going to try the tape leash again today, but a little voice in my head told me to use the two leash system instead. It might have just been sheer laziness, since I already had the nylon leashes out and ready to use.

Well… that second leash was a God send this morning, because Tommi was completely out of control! First, he greeted my dogs with boisterous jumps, crotch sniffing, and tail wags, and Noyzi, of course returned the favor. Then he ran over to some guy working on his car. Oma grabbed for Tommi’s collar, but it somehow slipped off. She finally got it back on him and started trying to drag him away, yelling at him and spanking him all the while. Tommi was not at all fazed by the corporal punishment.

Meanwhile, that damned white cat was STILL defiantly sitting there, watching everything unfold, completely unbothered! A lady with a baby carriage was about to come down the hill, but thought better of it when she saw and heard all of the commotion. Arran was braying like a seal/donkey hybrid. Noyzi was yipping excitedly, dancing around like a whirling dervish. And Tommi, who has developed a full on Labrador bark, was telling off the cat and trying to give chase. He ran behind the bushes and Oma went after him, shouting in German, trying to grab his collar.

I suddenly realized I had that second leash, so I quickly unsnapped it and handed it to Oma, who thanked me profusely as she attached it to Tommi’s collar. The whole lot of us then turned toward home, because I had worked up a sweat and wanted the dogs to calm down a bit, and Oma wanted to get Tommi back to a place where he wasn’t running amok. I also obviously needed that second leash back! Arran helpfully took a big dump at the top of the hill, so he probably feels better. Oma was showing off Tommi to a group of school kids who had heard and witnessed some of the show.

Oma explained to me that her 18 year old granddaughter (whom Noyzi LOVES) has to study for exams. And the man and the lady of the house are on vacation. Oma’s son told her not to walk Tommi because he’s so strong, but she said there’s no one else who can do it. I don’t actually think she was trying to walk him this morning. I think he snuck out of the house.

Just like his Labrador predecessor, Levi, used to do, sometimes Tommi comes over to our house. We can see him through the glass. The dogs go nuts! It might do them all well to have a play session and wear each other out a little! Tommi is very sweet, but I think he might need a trainer. But I’m not about to suggest it, because I’m sure they don’t need me to tell them that… I did notice that Oma petted Arran, who was the calmest of the lot, which is really saying something, if you know him. On the other hand, Arran is old and rather petite, so it’s not too hard to keep him in line.

Anyway, I guess that incident was a sign from God to keep using the two leash system on Noyzi for a bit longer… if only so Oma can wrangle Tommi when he gets loose! And you’ll be proud to know that I managed to get some video footage of all of this, too.

And now that I’ve cooled off and calmed down, maybe we’ll try again.

Edited to add: We just had our walk. It was much less chaotic.

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animals, dogs, drugs, Germany, veterinary care

Arran’s recovery is a bit rocky…

Poor Arran has had a rough week. A few days ago, after we came home from Heidelberg, he gashed himself after running under a bush with low branches. That encounter led to an hours long ordeal at the Tierklinik Hofheim, which is a really good veterinary hospital near us. He wasn’t that badly hurt, but there were a lot of sick animals that night, and Bill had to wait for them to be treated first.

Bill got to the emergency clinic at 9:30pm and got home at 4:30am, armed with antibiotics and painkillers. Arran had to have five stitches on his left shoulder, right near where he has a lipoma. He tore a big gash through all of his skin layers, so the emergency vet had to remove a flap of skin and debride the wound.

Arran was basically fine on Monday and Tuesday. He was eating, drinking, and demanding his walk. Then yesterday, at about noon, he vomited all over Bill’s side of our bed. Luckily, I managed to push him to the edge, so the mess wasn’t as bad as it could have been. When he had his dinner last night, he threw up again, although he never lost his appetite or his crankiness toward Noyzi.

Bill and I figured maybe the antibiotic was affecting him, since I had read that vomiting and diarrhea are side effects of Kesium, which is what he was taking, along with Metacam for the pain. Then this morning, after an uneventful night, Bill gave Arran a little bit of food. And yes, you guessed it, a couple of hours later, he puked again.

We already had an 8:30am appointment for him to visit the vet to have his stitches checked. Bill took him in and was back home very quickly. I was feeling dread, given that Arran is about 12 years old. But Arran surprised us by romping into the house, obviously feeling great. He did a play bow and smiled at me as he ran into the living room.

The vet gave him an injection of antibiotics, an injection of painkillers, and something for his stomach. It’s obviously all kicked in. Bill says the vet thinks the nausea is caused by the last of the sedation Arran had on Monday morning, exiting his system. I don’t know why it wouldn’t have bothered him on Monday and Tuesday, but hell, I’m not a vet. Anyway, the antibiotic was directly injected into his bloodstream, so it’s not sitting in his stomach. He’s had that drug before and it didn’t bother him. Maybe he’s developed an intolerance.

We’ll bring him back to the vet on Saturday for another shot. Hopefully the stitches can come out a few days after that. The wound seems to be healing nicely.

Meanwhile, Noyzi seems to have a touch of diarrhea today, and it’s raining pretty steadily. He came upstairs at about 4:00am, obviously eager to go outside. Bill let him out and he was quick to do his business. This morning, I see a little residual diarrhea. I’m not sure why he has the runs, but I’m grateful that he came to tell us that he needed to go outside. He’s such a good dog!

This was when I noticed the gash Sunday night.
His “walk dance” on Tuesday.

I suspect it will be a cozy day today, once I do my dreaded and hated Thursday chore of vacuuming.

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dogs, Germany, staying home

There’s a lot of work that goes into being lazy… part two.

Bill and I enjoyed an unusually busy Saturday. Ever since we pulled out our robotic lawnmower a few weeks ago, the damned thing has confounded us. I bought the machine in late March 2019 and wrote a post, complete with video, about our new toy. I joked about how there is a lot of work that goes into being lazy as I watched Bill laying down the boundary wire that would allow the robot to work. We used it in 2019 and 2020 to great success. But in 2021, it was apparently “kaput”.

Bill laid down new wire in April, but the mower wouldn’t work. He tried again a couple of weeks later, but we were still getting the dreaded flashing blue light and fault loop error. Then he had to go away for almost three weeks, so I was stuck cutting the grass with the weed trimmer, which is really loud and doesn’t do a great job on the whole lawn. I tried replacing the power supply, hoping that would be a simple (but expensive) fix. It was a no go.

So today, Bill put down brand new wire all the way around the yard. He did about 2/3rds of the yard, but the mower still wouldn’t respond. I watched my usually sweet natured husband get grumpy as he bent down to tear out the not so old wire he had installed weeks ago and put in virgin wire. It took all afternoon. During that time, I washed clothes, washed the dogs, washed Noyzi’s bedding, put away the clean dishes, and wet vacuumed the floor. I also wrote another blog post on my main blog and practiced guitar. When I washed Noyzi’s bedding, the front loading washing machine malfunctioned, and the plug for the rubber hose came off in the machine. So I ended up having to take the panel off of the machine and rescue the part. I quipped to Bill that I’m weirdly handy. He agreed.

Once he laid the last bit of the wire, he tried to get the mower going. This time, he got a green light on the base, but a message reported that there was “no fault loop”. I watched Bill get pissed anew; then I went to Reddit, where someone who had the same problem mentioned recalibrating the mower and letting it capture a new loop. So while Bill recovered from his labors, I went and messed with the settings on the mower, finally telling it to find a new fault loop. Then I pressed the start button and…

VOILA!!!

Boy, was this a welcome sight! Our backyard has looked shitty all spring! We let the mower do its work and relaxed for a bit. The dogs enjoyed the newly groomed lawn and their nice, clean coats. After I washed them, I took the brush to them to see if I couldn’t get some of the loose shedding hair to come off. I was very excited to see the mower going. It’s cleaner and more efficient than the trimmer is, and makes much less noise. It also does a much better job.

Last night, Noyzi and Arran had a couple of playful moments. Considering how cranky Arran is when his authority is threatened, I’d say these were successful encounters. We also enjoyed the sunshine and temperatures warm enough to have wine outside last night. As much as I appreciate the nicer looking backyard, though, I do look forward to spending time outside of Breckenheim very soon. Bill has completely recovered from Moderna shot number two. I’m hoping that maybe I can get mine a week early, so we can go back to being mobile. I am so ready to break out of this perpetually homebound bullshit.

Nice to see Arran playing…
They really had fun in this video. I had to sit in Bill’s seat, because the sun was killing my eyes. Noyzi is really settling in to being a pet.

Here are a few more photos from our weekend. I am SO jealous of my friends who got to travel for the holiday. Ordinarily, that’s certainly what we would be doing, too. But we’re not quite “street legal” yet.

Well… it’s hard to tell what the immediate future holds. I’d sure like to be able to get away soon, though. Even if it’s just to the dentist for a cleaning down in Stuttgart. Hopefully, we can arrange it soon… Wish us luck.

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disasters, dogs, veterinary care

The waiting is the hardest part…

Today’s featured photo was taken at our neighborhood Rewe, which appears to be very gay friendly… The Rewe could use an Apoteke.

A week from now, barring any disasters, Bill will be home from his latest TDY. For some reason, this one has been harder for me than the previous ones have been. I think it’s a combination of the many months we’ve been locked down, bored, and the many weeks he’s had to travel on business. This time, he’s half vaccinated. At the end of the month, he’ll get his second injection. I’ll get mine on June 9th. Then, maybe we can start doing some normal stuff again. As Tom Petty used to sing, “the waiting is the hardest part”…

One of many great singers from my youth who have died since I’ve lived in Germany. I always seem to be in Europe when icons die. I was even in Europe when Princess Diana was killed, back in 1997. It seems to be my destiny to spend time here.

I had a bit of unexpected drama last night. On Friday, we got some new toys for the dogs. Arran had recently destroyed a little blue gorilla that he loved. It was a Kong toy, so it had lasted awhile, though not as long as some of the others we’ve had. I try to cycle the really damaged toys out, even if they are much beloved. I don’t want the boys chewing on toys that are raggedy because they can end up swallowing things they shouldn’t. That seems to be especially true in Noyzi’s case. A few months ago, he swallowed part of an old toy that had been three pieces. Arran had long ago shredded the other parts of the monkey– the toy part had come from– but there was still a leg with squeakers in it. Arran would play with it.

At the time that happened, Bill was at home. He took Noyzi to our vet; they gave him a shot to make him vomit; and he puked up the part of the toy he’d swallowed. It was an old toy, though, so I have been careful to get rid of the ones that get too torn up. Friday, I gave the boys four brand new Kong toys. Kong toys are known for being very tough. But the raccoon toy I got the other day was not as sturdy as the other rope toys I’ve been giving them.

Last night, I came downstairs at about 6:00pm to find that Noyzi had “skinned” the toy raccoon, leaving the head and tail, and the rope innards. I was glad he hadn’t destroyed the head, since that was where the squeaker was. But he had apparently swallowed the “fur”. Fortunately, this particular toy, by design, didn’t have a lot of polyester batting in it.

Immediately, I started thinking I’d need to get him to the emergency vet– Tierklinik Hofheim, specifically, since our vet wasn’t open. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get him into Bill’s Volvo. He’s too big and cumbersome for me to get him into the car by myself. I don’t think he’s too heavy… he’s about 63 pounds, and I can lift that. But he’s long and tall and not very cooperative. After a few minutes of trying to wrestle with him, I gave up.

Then I went looking for hydrogen peroxide, which can be used as an emetic in dogs. I thought we had some on hand, but it turned out we didn’t have any. And Germany, unlike the United States, doesn’t dispense things like hydrogen peroxide at the grocery store. You have to get it at the Apotheke. It also costs a lot more there than it does at US stores. So I went looking to see if any nearby drug stores were open. The one at the nearby Globus was open, but when I tried to get there, I got turned around and wound up in a strange neighborhood. I’m not used to driving Bill’s car… I would have driven mine, but it’s in the garage, and the Volvo was in the driveway. Then, when I got back, I couldn’t get the car parked in the driveway again. I know I should have been able. The Volvo has cameras and park assist, and of course, GPS… I can’t get used to using those things. I don’t trust them.

So I worried all night, although Noyzi was pretty much normal. I came down in the middle of the night to check on him, and he greeted me sweetly each time. I obsessively read a bunch of articles on the signs of a blockage, and finally got ahold of Bill, who said if I needed help with Noyzi, someone from the office could come over. This morning, I found Noyzi lying on his back with his legs in the air. When he saw me, he rolled onto his side and wagged his tail. I kept hoping he’d poop… because again, “the waiting is the hardest part.” A good poop is a good start on the way to recovery from something like this.

I just took the boys for a short walk. It was a short walk because it’s raining. Just afterwards, I let Noyzi in the backyard. For some reason, he doesn’t like to go potty when he’s taking a walk. Arran is just the opposite. Anyway, after a few minutes, he came out, took a whiz, then took a fairly normal looking poop with bits of toy in it. I suspect there might be more bits in his next constitutional, but at this point, I’m not too worried about him needing emergency vet care. He seems to feel better, too, even though he wasn’t that distressed in the first place.

I guess I’ve learned a few things from this experience. The first thing is that we need to train Noyzi to get in the car by himself. If it had been Arran (or the late Zane), it wouldn’t have been a problem getting the dog loaded. Both Zane and Arran fit in the Mini, too. But Noyzi needs the Volvo and has to ride in the cargo area. He needs to learn to get in by himself, because I’m not getting any younger or stronger.

Next– I need to buy some hydrogen peroxide to keep around for these kinds of emergencies. Noyzi has proven that he likes to eat toys. All of the new ones are out of reach, for now.

Next– I need to stop being such a luddite. I have yet to embrace GPS technology because I find the voice prompts distracting and annoying. But the GPS could have gotten me to Globus last night. And the park assist could have gotten the Volvo into the driveway. I have been able to park in the driveway before, by the way, but I was not in the right frame of mind for it last night.

I need to drive more, too… I just don’t enjoy driving if I have nowhere specific to be. Hopefully, with the availability of the vaccines, that won’t be so much of a problem for too much longer.

I was feeling pretty frustrated, though. I’ve been in Germany for years and I know how most things work here. But I’m still getting to know this area where we live, mainly due to the COVID-19 nightmare. I don’t know a lot of people up here, so being here alone is pretty stressful. I have fewer people to call in case of emergency. And I’m really tired of Bill’s constant business trips. The good news is, he thinks they’ll be done after this one… at least for the time being. I hope he’s right.

He’s perfectly happy. This was what he looked like last night, as I was fretting.

Anyway, I think Noyzi is going to be just fine. I guess I need to watch him more closely when there are toys around. At least until he learns that toys are for playing with, not eating. Sometimes, though, I do miss how things are in the United States… not that I’m hankering to move yet. I just want Bill to come home and fix me a martini and tell me it’s all gonna be okay. Just a few more days to go.

Edited to add: Two more dumps littered with toy debris have appeared… and they were both perfect. After each one, Noyzi seemed even happier and more energetic.

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