Thanksgiving 2020…

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A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that Cem Klein Mediterrané, a local restaurant, was offering a takeout Thanksgiving deal. Bill and I were lucky enough to get to try Cem Klein in July of last year, before they changed locations. They used to be located in the Sonnenberg area of Wiesbaden. They are now at the Rheinblick German/American golf course. I guess, since they are now dealing with Americans all the time, they were prompted to offer a special pandemic deal for our Thanksgiving holiday. I noticed in their Facebook ad that they were willing to accept dollars or euros and, in fact, would not charge Americans tax on the meal.

Bill and I like to cook, but there are only two of us and we only have so much refrigerator space. We decided to try the restaurant’s deal, which included turkey, stuffing, yams, green beans wrapped in bacon, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, and cranberry gravy. The price was $55 for enough food for two, and it was super easy to order, pick up and clean up afterwards. We also have leftovers. Here are some photos:

Cem Klein did a fine job on this meal and the price was right! If we’re still here in 2021 and they offer another Thanksgiving deal, we may have to order it again. It was nice not to have a huge mess to clean up.

The dogs enjoyed hanging out with us all day, listening to music and drinking wine… especially Noyzi, who is slowly getting used to being a pet and being friends with Bill. Every day, more and more of his personality comes out. Yesterday, Arran decided to play fetch with his new toys. He left one unattended while he ran around the house being silly. Noyzi casually got up from his bed, picked up the toy, and put it in his bed, then snuggled up next to it. It’s such an endearing habit, watching him hoard toys as if they’re his buddies.

I really do miss getting to travel and enjoy Europe, but the weather has been pretty gloomy lately. Yesterday, it was foggy, damp, and cold all day. Bill said when he picked up our food, there were people playing golf. I don’t know how or why. It was pea soup thick yesterday! I kind of like this weather in November, though. It’s weird seeing people back home wearing shorts and t-shirts. It didn’t used to be that way, even in the South. The warmer temperatures worry me.

My German friend, Susanne, asked us if we’d ever used a Romertopf, which is a German version of a Tajine (clay pot). I had, but Bill had, and he used to own a Romertopf when he was in Germany back in the 1980s. I decided to get us a new one so we can try our hands at clay pot cooking. It arrived yesterday.

Anyway… that’s our Thanksgiving. It was low key and pleasant. Bill will work this morning, then take the rest of the day off. Then it’s time to prepare for Christmas, which means I’ll be shopping online. Whoopee!

Noyzi’s new walking skills! And booze free treats!

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Here’s another update about Noyzi, the street dog from Kosovo. He’s really come such a long way since four weeks ago. For the first couple of weeks in our home, Noyzi was terrified of leashes and harnesses. He was so scared he’d actually submissively pee and run away in fright. But, as you can see from the video below, he’s come around.

He loves to explore the neighborhood and is probably calmer than ever when he’s walking on a leash.

A month ago, prior to his adoption, his rescuer, Meg, sent me videos of Noizy’s first stabs at leash training. She described him as a big child and sent me a couple of videos showing him lying down while on the leash, completely shut down from the concept of being led. When we got him to our house, I spent about a week leading him around the fenced backyard. He didn’t like the leash at all and would rear up or backpedal.

I started taking a few minutes to brush him before our lessons. He liked being brushed. I’m sure it felt good, both because of the personal attention and because it scratched his itches. Noyzi had never had a bath before and was shedding something fierce. The brushing helped with that, too.

As you can see at the end of the video, Noyzi now walks like a champ, although he still needs the harness because he startles easily. I have a feeling it won’t be long before walks are old hat. I took a walk with him and Arran alone, too. It wasn’t as easy to walk them together without Bill, but we’ll work on it. Below are a few fall photos from our area. It’s not quite as pretty as Jettingen is, but it’s not bad.

I sure do miss traveling, but having Noyzi around is very rewarding and fun. It’s been great to see him progress over the last month. Every day, he gets more confident and adorable. Below is a video of him almost playing with Arran. Arran is still trying to get used to sharing us, but I notice that Arran has already taught his little brother a lot. For example, Arran taught Noyzi that treats are a good thing.

They aren’t too rowdy yet.

Moving on…

This week, Bill ordered a couple of alcohol free treats he saw advertised on Facebook. One product he ordered is called Lyre’s Dry London Spirit, a type of alcohol free gin. Lyre’s is an Australian company, but they have an outlet in Europe and specialize in producing alcohol free versions of libations. Bill likes gin, but is wanting to cut back on alcohol for health reasons.

We tried the gin, and while it didn’t taste exactly like the leaded version, it wasn’t bad at all. It has no burn, but it does have sort of a citrusy flavor– bitter orange peel and a hint of lemon. There is no taste of juniper.

He also ordered a bottle of Gimber, which is an alcohol free cold pressed ginger based mixer. It consists of ginger, lemon, herbs and spices and can be mixed with spirits or alcohol free beverages like sparkling mineral water. The Gimber is very spicy, but you can dilute it until it suits your tastes. Gimber also has a classic dream story behind it. Its inventor, Dmitri, was tired of sugary sodas and bad wine. He sank his last euros into buying a ginger press. Now he’s got a product he can sell on Facebook to bored Americans like us!

And finally, last night, I took a few photos of the “blue moon” as it appeared in Germany. This was supposed to be an especially rare moon, since it was visible across all time zones. I took several of these pictures with my digital camera, which I don’t get to use very often these days. For some projects, it’s better than my iPhone.

Well, that about does it for today. We don’t have much going on, thanks to the pandemic. I miss going on trips, eating in restaurants, and hanging out at naked spas. But maybe someday we can get back to it. For now, we have new products to try and a new dog to teach how to enjoy being a pet. Things could be worse!

Noyzi’s first bath!

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We took Noyzi and Arran for another walk this morning. Afterwards, we gave them treats, and then it was time for the moment we were dreading. Time to give Noyzi his first bath!

I don’t know if he ever had a bath before he came to our house. Truth be told, though he was a bit stinky when we brought him home, he seems to prefer being clean. I noticed the worst of the doggy odor went away after a few days of being a house dog. Still, he is shedding a lot and we needed to see how he’d do in the shower. Fortunately, our laundry room has a shower we never use for ourselves. It’s open on two sides, making it perfect for a big boy like Noyzi.

With some effort, we wrangled him into the stall. It wasn’t easy. He went belly to the floor, so we had to pick him up. I couldn’t have done that by myself, because I’m not as strong as I used to be and Noyzi is pretty heavy, though he’s not fat at all. But we finally got him into the shower…

At first, he panicked a bit and tried to escape. But then, once I started rubbing the shampoo into his coat, he relaxed. Obviously, it feels good to get a back scratch and lose some of that undercoat that is currently littering my rugs. After a minute or two of struggling, he relaxed. Pretty soon, I was able to drop the leash and film him. Here’s a video of my metrosexual street dog!

The secret is out. Noyzi is a metro! And I’m really a mom at heart.

He was, by the way, completely perfect on his walk, too. I picked up the harness and leash. After a minute of nervous dancing, he came over and sat on command. I put the harness on him and he took a perfectly calm walk around the neighborhood. Then, he gently accepted a treat afterwards. Arran, on the other hand, demanded one! Arran could learn a few things from our street dog.

Arran at the breakfast table this morning. He was impatiently waiting for us to finish eating so he could lick the bowls…

I continue to be amazed at the leaps Noyzi has made since three weeks ago. Last night, he was even hanging out with us in the living room! It really is rewarding to watch him grow every day. I knew Noyzi was going to be special when I first saw him in a picture. He’s proving me right!

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.

Our first French Christmas, part eight…

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Our hosts at Au Miracle du Pain Doré were out in the vineyards when we arrived at their gite the second time, so they left the front gate unlocked and the keys by the front door. Checking in was simple, especially since we’d been there the week prior. Bill was pretty rattled about the car and even worried the people who punctured our tire might have even put something on the car to track it. Fortunately, they were complete amateurs. We found nothing on the car and it was totally safe outside of the gite, under a streetlamp.

Bill went to the supermarket, which was within walking distance of the gite, and picked up essentials for Friday night’s dinner and Saturday’s breakfast. The next morning, he got to work on reporting the crime. First, he called USAA to tell them about the tires, which apparently weren’t covered on our policy. Even if they had been, we have a $500 deductible, and today is New Year’s Eve. USAA took down our info and Bill later got a call from the German USAA liaison working out of Frankfurt, who was sympathetic.

Next, he called ADAC (German auto club) to ask about where to locate tires. He went to two places on Saturday. One couldn’t help at all. The other “fixed” the tire by patching the sidewall and advising us not to go further than 100 kilometers. Germany is, of course, much further than 100 kilometers from Beaune. Still, he made it so we could at least drive around the city if we needed to. The hole in the tire was near the tread, but still in the sidewall. We learned that driving on a patched sidewall, especially at high speeds, is a recipe for disaster. Bill is usually super safety conscious, but I think he was worried about getting home for work. Fortunately, good sense prevailed and he axed the idea of trying to drive on the patched tire.

Our poor tire.

ADAC was very communicative and helpful. They called us a few times to coordinate where to find tires. Yes, that’s right. We had to buy two of them, because French law dictates that unless you find the exact same brand of tire, you must buy two tires that match per axle. We couldn’t find a single Pirelli brand tire that was damaged on the Volvo, so we had to buy a pair of Bridgestone tires. That was 470 euros yesterday, when we finally found a place that had them in stock.

Bill then went to the local police station in Beaune, where he was told by the one English speaker working there that he’d have to go to the Gendarmerie, since the crime hadn’t happened in Beaune proper. So Bill drove the Volvo to the Gendarmerie office and spoke to two sympathetic but non English speaking ladies who used Google Translate to take his statement. They seemed shocked and relieved that we weren’t robbed and told Bill that there are gangs of people doing this… not just in France, but in places all around Europe. Hell, I think it happens in the States sometimes, too. It’s a well-known crime that probably doesn’t get reported as often as it happens.

Since it was clear we weren’t going to be able to leave Beaune on Sunday, as we’d planned, we asked the owners of the gite if we could extend our reservation. Much to our surprise, they let us stay Sunday night free of charge! That was really nice of them and completely unexpected.

Unfortunately, due to all the time spent running around Beaune trying to get the tire mess sorted out, our plans to shop were thwarted. But France doesn’t totally close down on Sundays the way Germany does, so we were able to get a few bottles on the “Lord’s day”. We walked into downtown Beaune and Bill bought a few nice bottles from one of many wine shops in Beaune. Then we stopped at a cafe and had a glass as the sun went down. Yes, it was cold, but they had outdoor heaters going… and Arran was mostly good until he met a female bulldog in a pink jacket who apparently said something he didn’t like. He raised a little ruckus, but everybody just laughed at him and kept drinking their wine or coffee. It was kind of nice not to be scowled at. Here are some pictures from the weekend.

We just got a visit from the “ghost” of Zane…

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It’s been two weeks since we lost our beloved beagle, Zane, to canine lymphoma. I’ve really missed him a lot. It’s been hard getting used to not having him with me all the time, as I have for the last ten years.

I usually get “signs” when I lose a pet. Often, the signs come in the form of vivid dreams about the recently deceased animal. For years, I have had dreams about my long deceased pony, Rusty, who was my best friend in high school. I also get other “signs” that trigger memories. A lot of times, the visits seem to come in the form of unusual behaviors in surviving pets. For instance, Arran was never a particularly gentle dog when we had Zane– or especially compared to Zane, who was extremely gentle– but lately, he’s been a little more Zane-like. Unfortunately, Zane hasn’t influenced Arran to be as well behaved as Zane was, but Arran seems to be trying harder lately. I took him to the vet yesterday and, for once, he was a perfect gentleman who didn’t shriek the whole time.

This morning, the doorbell rang unexpectedly. It was the Jehovah’s Witnesses. We get them no matter where we are. The only place we’ve ever lived and missed out on JWs was when we lived on Fort Belvoir. And that was because it is a military installation, and JWs aren’t supposed to serve in the military. Religious proselytizing is also not allowed on military installations.

A very confident woman who spoke perfect UK accented English announced to Bill that she wanted to “talk about the Bible”. Bill interrupted her and launched into a diatribe about an angry conversation he’d had with God regarding Zane’s recent death. Without giving her a moment to collect herself, Bill told our unexpected and uninvited German religion peddling visitor a story that probably rattled her sensibilities. I don’t know this for sure, but I have a feeling that even religious Germans have a hard time swallowing “Rainbow Bridge” talk about animals and their souls. Most Germans strike me as being much too practical to believe in animals having that kind of a connection to God… but, of course, I could be wrong about that.

Bill told the JW that when it became clear Zane was going to die, he’d told God that he was pissed off that, once again, we were going to be forced to euthanize a much beloved family member. But then, Bill got an “answer” from God, reminding him that euthanasia is ultimately a gift. We would have some time to make sure Zane was comfortable. I could take many pictures of his last days. We’d be there to ensure that he didn’t suffer, and he would not be alone as he took his last breath.

As Bill was relating that story, I could hear his voice raw with emotion. I knew he also had tears in his eyes, because I’ve seen and heard him like that before. I could hear the JW lady trying and failing to steer the conversation back to her pitch for the JWs. But Bill resolutely continued on with his thoughts on God and our dog’s recent demise. The JW’s male partner was silent the whole time, probably thinking they’d run into a nut.

The JW finally broke in and asked if we had a Bible in the house. Bill said we did. But then she concluded, “But you’re probably in a hurry, aren’t you? You’re too busy to talk to us, right?”

“No, actually, I’m not.” Bill said.

So they spent a few more uncomfortable minutes talking, and I could tell the JW was non-plussed about how to deal with this man who was controlling the conversation, talking about his recently deceased dog. It was pretty funny, and I could just picture the ghost of Zane defending the family, just as he always has, in his noisy, but offbeat, way.

Finally, she said, “Thank you.” and took off. I have a feeling she won’t be back. Although Bill might have gotten the same results if he’d just told her he was a Mormon and offered her a Book of Mormon and a stimulating discussion about religion, I am tickled that Zane’s spirit showed up just in the nick of time. He always was a very faithful and loyal dog who would protect us and the home with his life… or, in this case, his death.

Thanks for “visiting”, Zaneykins… Mama misses you. <3

A duller week than usual…

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Well, I don’t have much to write about today, since I’ve been alone all week and I’ve been writing about what I’ve been up to on my main blog.  I just wanted to write a quick blurb on this blog for those who keep up with it regularly and look for new posts on the weekends.  Also, I wanted to update everyone on Arran.

After a couple of days of waiting to see if the meds we got from the local vet would work, I started to realize that Arran was acting a bit like a dog suffering from a worm infestation.  He did seem a little better after the stomach meds, but he wasn’t getting back to normal.

Intestinal worms are not something I’ve had to deal with extensively in recent years, with the notable exception of a time in 2017, when I actually saw worms coming out of Arran’s ass before he had any symptoms.  As I’ve learned this week, you don’t have to see the worms to have an infestation.  In fact, it’s lucky that I saw the worms the last time.  Oftentimes, roundworms and hookworms stay in the body and just deposit their microscopic eggs to the outside world.

In the United States, we usually give our dogs heartworm preventative, which usually also contains medicine that keeps intestinal worms at bay.  Here in Germany, vets don’t routinely prescribe heartworm preventative, so our dogs have been going without that broad spectrum worm protection.  Heartworms do exist in Germany, but they are much less prevalent because there aren’t as many infectious mosquitos here due to the colder weather.  I imagine that will change as the planet heats up, though.

Since our dogs are normally protected from worms when they’re stateside, and the last time intestinal worms were a routine thing for me was back in the 1980s, I didn’t really think of parasites when Arran was blowing up the house with gas and diarrhea.  However, before we left Stuttgart, we went to our former vets in Herrenberg, who were just great to work with for four years (and for the two years we were in Stuttgart before).  As I was settling up our affairs with them, one of the vets recommended that we buy some flea and tick pills and single doses of dewormers for the road.  I took her advice.  I’m so glad I did that.

By the way… for the Americans who are reading this– you can get heartworm preventative here, especially if you are affiliated with the military.  When we were here from 07-09, we mostly used the Panzer vet for everything our dogs needed, which wasn’t much until one of our dogs got prostate cancer.  The vets on the installations are American, and they practice like American vets do.  That means the usual U.S. style vaccines and heartworm preventative protocol.  But if you use local vets, expect that business will be a bit different.  German vets typically don’t prescribe heartworm preventative as a matter of course.  European vets, in general, also aren’t as spay and neuter focused as American vets are, and they tend to do those operations later.  But that’s a topic for a different post.

In any case, Tuesday night, as Arran was looking more miserable, I determined that Wednesday morning, I’d slip him a pill.  I decided to wait until the morning in case something went wrong.  I wanted to be awake to deal with the aftermath and/or get Arran to the local vet, although we are now fortunate enough to live about twenty minutes away from Germany’s largest “Tierklinik”.  Our former vet in Herrenberg had even mentioned Tierklinik Hofheim to us back in 2016, when I was regularly freaking out about Zane’s mast cell tumor.  Arran looked sad enough that I thought I might even need to take him to that clinic, which is a 24 hour full scale emergency vet hospital.  However, if I could help it, I preferred to take him to the clinic just up the road from us.  It’s easier to do that during working hours.

Milprazon, a deworming drug used here in Europe, was what the Herrenberg vet had sent with us to Wiesbaden.  After consulting trusty Google, I determined that even if Arran’s problems were not due to worms, the dewormer wouldn’t harm him.  So Wednesday morning, I gave him the pill, said a prayer, cleaned up a cheesy smelling watery accident on the ugly rug we bought at Ramstein, and waited.  I gave Zane a pill too, just in case, although he has been fine all week.

The Milprazon made Arran sleepy, so he spent the day napping on his freshly laundered bedding in my office.  By mid afternoon, he was looking a bit perkier.  He went outside, enjoyed a somewhat normal dump, and came back in and had his dinner.  By Wednesday night, he and Zane were playing in the living room.  By Thursday, he was pretty much entirely back to normal.  He’s now his usually adorable, friendly, funny self.  In a playful mood yesterday, he even brought me a roll of toilet paper from the bathroom!  Hopefully, that one dose will be enough to kill all of the parasites for now.

I’m still a little concerned about the bump on his head.  Maybe I’ve been watching too much Dr. Pimple Popper on iTunes…  We’ll get that sorted out soon.  Bill is supposed to be home tomorrow morning and he’s promised me dinner at a nice place.  I don’t know if it’ll happen tomorrow, since he’s probably going to be exhausted.  We are planning a trip to France next weekend, though, so there will soon be more love on this blog.  We’re also going to be car shopping soon.  It’s time to retire our 13 year old RAV 4 and get something fancier.  That may involve a trip to Sweden or Munich, depending on which brand Bill decides on.

I’m looking forward to better weather.  Up here in Wiesbaden, there’s less snow because there’s less altitude.  It just looks grey and ugly all the time at this time of year.  I mean, it looks like that in Stuttgart, too, but it snows more often.  At our old house, I had pretty views and could watch the weather.  I can watch it here, too, but our house is in a less country setting.

Anyway, that about does it for today’s blog.  I wish I had an idea for something more interesting to write about today.  Maybe something will come to me later.  For now, I’m signing off until next time, and reminding all of my Germany based readers with dogs to make sure they’re worm free.  Deworming is essential!  😉

A look of pure relief on Arran’s face as he stops hosting nematodes.

Thanks to Ruine Mandelberg, our Sunday wasn’t ruined!

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This morning, Bill called my attention to a swollen cut on my dog, Zane’s, face.  He and our other dog, Arran, had a fight last night.  After Bill broke them up, he thought both dogs were okay.  Neither appeared to have a scratch.  In fact, Zane had actually come out the victor, having scored a rare rawhide treat that Arran had momentarily let out of his sight.  We were marveling at that, since Zane is not really a fighter and tends to be the less aggressive of our dogs.  But then this morning, there was that swollen place on his face.

Zane enjoyed the freshly mowed grass yesterday, before he and Arran had their little spat.  He’s going to be ten in November and both he and Arran have had cancerous mast cell tumors that have had to be surgically removed.  But they’re still plugging along and at each other.  

Bill and I don’t have kids together, so we tend to be neurotic about our dogs.  Because puncture wounds can get infected quickly, Bill decided to take Zane to the on duty vet, a gruff guy in Herrenberg named Dr. Katz.  Dr. Katz took a look at Zane, said he was fine, and told Bill to keep the spot clean.  Then he said goodbye without even bothering to charge Bill for the visit.

Since Zane seemed to be okay, Bill and I decided to go out to lunch in Nagold.  Afterwards, we had plans to visit Ruine Mandelberg, another one of my highway finds during our many recent trips to the Black Forest.  I had noticed the sign for it as we passed the turnoff for the little hamlet of Bösingen, a true one horse district if I’ve ever seen one.  I had looked up Ruine Mandelberg on the Internet and I wasn’t sure if it was something that would excite me, but since it’s pretty close to where we live, we decided today was the day to see it.

We started in Nagold, where parking is free on Sundays and you never know what’s going to happen. Lunch was at Provenciale, a little Italian restaurant near the main square.  We had eaten there before, but it had been awhile.  For some reason, this restaurant does not get good reviews on Trip Advisor.  I don’t know why.  Our experiences there have been good.  In fact, today we both enjoyed our pasta dishes.  I especially liked mine.

We enjoyed malty hefeweizens.  Sometimes, when I drink one of these, I taste Ovaltine.  That sounds strange until you realize that beer is malty and so is Ovaltine.  Bill had to move as the sun did.


Bill enjoyed cheese filled tortellini with spinach, ham, and gorgonzola cheese sauce.  He said it was delicious, even if he preferred yesterday’s mushroom extravaganza more.  Personally, I preferred his choice for today, if only because it didn’t smell of fungus!  Sigh– if I only liked mushrooms, my life would be so much easier!


I went with the very safe Tagliatelli Salmone, made with cream sauce and very tender, delicious pieces of salmon.  I loved it.  What can I say?  I like comfort food.  It shows… especially on my ass.  

 

This particular restaurant also specializes in ice cream and we saw plenty of people enjoying fancy Italian/German style ice cream treats today.  I think many people were substituting ice cream for lunch!  Our bill came to 27 euros, which Bill rounded up to 30.  Before we left, we caught the Albanian cultural/dance club Shota marching by.  My German friend says they were performing at Kinderfest today.  I caught a short video clip of them parading by.  I’ll have to see if I can upload it to YouTube.

After lunch, we got back on B28 and headed for Ruine Mandelberg.  We drove through tiny Bösingen, which has an interesting looking antique shop, a gasthaus, a church, and lots of pretty scenery.  There’s a road where cars are not supposed to go unless they are going to the ruins.  There’s a small parking area near a park/picnic area.  It’s free to park there and, as you can see below, there’s playground equipment for kids.

A map of the sights in the area.  If you wanted to, you could take a nice hike here.  There are lots of trails.

It looked like a group was having a picnic today.

 

We parked the car and started walking.  It was about 1.5 kilometers to the ruins themselves, though there were a couple of other trails and roads that made Bill nervous we weren’t going the right way.  

 

But then we rounded a corner and easily found the ruins, which date from the 12th century.  Actually, according to Wikipedia, the 11th century ruins predeceased what is there now.  The first time the castle was mentioned in documents was in 1287.  The castle burned down during the peasant revolts in 1525 and was never rebuilt.

A sign offering a brief history… in German, naturally!

The community of Pflazgrafenweiler purchased the property in 1970 and renovated what was left of the ruins.  In 1975, they renovated the keep, which is 35 meters high and offers nice views of the surrounding countryside.  Below are some pictures I took during our visit.


First glance of the tower.  A family of four was at the top when we first arrived.  They met us at the bottom as I was wondering whether or not I really wanted to climb up the extremely tight spiral staircases.  The parents were encouraging us in German, telling us it wasn’t unlike climbing the church spires in Ulm!

 

The first steps seem narrow…

 

And the tower seems high…  You do get two opportunities to pause on the way up and down.

 

But those steps are extremely narrow.  You must hold on to the railing and the center or risk falling.  Bill got dizzy going up the tight spiral.

 

But then you reach the top…  Thank GOD!  It’s very well fortified, so there’s no need to worry about falling.  Unfortunately, some people left trash up there.

 

At the top of the keep, we were rewarded with some very beautiful views.  Below are some pictures from the top of the tower.


This isn’t a great shot, mainly because the barrier prevented me from getting more of the grounds in the picture.  You can see the cistern on the left, which is unfortunately full of trash.

A couple of closer pictures of the cistern from the ground.

After a few minutes, we decided to climb back down.  Going down was less strenuous, but a bit scarier.  You can see how far down it is as you climb down.  I am very cautious about climbing, so I tend to go slowly.  The last thing I need is to faceplant in a tower.  When we got to the outside steps, I realized that might have been the best spot for picture taking, especially within the ruins.  Here is a 360 tour of the ruins.

Directions for other areas of interest.  I was too sweaty and dirty to hike more.

 

One last look at the tower.

Bill gazes at the view.

A cave?

With a friendly ghost?

Bars on the window…  wonder what for!

Auf wiedersehen, Ruine Mandelberg!

I couldn’t resist taking pictures of this pretty church we passed going in and out of the little hamlet.

I think these ruins are worth seeing if you’re interested in old castle ruins dating from the 12th century.  It might also make an okay stop on the way to Freudenstadt or some of the other attractions in the Black Forest.  It doesn’t take long to see the ruins, but if you wanted to hike longer, you certainly could, and the area is pretty and offers good picnic/play opportunities.  I’m glad we stopped by.  I was also considering visiting Herrenberg’s new Schönbuchturm, but figured it would be crowded, since it just opened yesterday.  Maybe we’ll do that next week!

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!

Bonding with our German vet over cannabis…

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Since Bill and I returned to Germany, I have been spending a lot of time in the veterinarian’s office.  The vet we currently use is the same one we used last time we lived here.  That vet diagnosed our dog, Flea, with prostate cancer back in 2009.  I never met her last time we lived here.  Bill took Flea to his vet appointments because we only had one car.  We also used the vet on Panzer Kaserne for routine stuff, but that proved to be a real pain in the butt since appointments were hard to come by.

These two dogs are Flea and MacGregor, the dogs we had during our first Germany tour.  Flea is the one standing behind MacGregor.

Flea survived Germany and we took him with us to our next duty station in Georgia.  He lasted another two months in the States before we sent him to the Rainbow Bridge.  About a month after we lost Flea, Bill and I adopted our dog, Zane, from Atlanta Beagle Rescue.  Zane is pretty much a bigger, sweeter version of Flea.

Zane, the tri-colored beagle… and adopted “brother” Arran.

When we got back to Germany and rented a house near Herrenberg again, we decided to use the same vets we did last time.  Because we now have two cars, the duty of taking the dogs to the vet often falls to me.  Zane gets allergy shots every month.  I could learn to give him the shots myself, but I’m a bit squeamish.  So every month, I take Zane (and often Arran) with me to the vet.  She gives Zane his shot and any other treatment he needs.  We’ve been in this routine for about two years now.

Many Americans who live in Germany comment that it can take awhile to get to know Germans well.  Germans seem to be fairly private people, especially in a professional setting.  That has definitely been the case for our German vet.  Our visits have been mostly all business.  In fact, until a couple of months ago, I was calling her by her colleague’s name.  I made this mistake because Bill got their names mixed up last time we lived here and passed his mistake to me.  Our vet didn’t introduce herself when I came in the first time, so I was assuming her name was her colleague’s name.  For two years!  It wasn’t until I mixed the names up in the vet’s presence that she corrected me.

Most of our visits have not been particularly friendly.  There’s been a minimum of small talk.  The vet has been very matter-of-fact about most things.  I actually found her kind of hard to talk to, although she seemed very competent.

Both of my dogs have had cancerous mast cell tumors removed by our German vet.  Arran had one taken off in July 2015.  It was a very low grade bump that, so far, has caused no more issues.  Zane had one taken off in October of 2016.  Zane’s tumor was a little bit higher grade and it was larger.

In the weeks since his surgery, Zane has also not really been acting like himself.  For several weeks after his surgery, he seemed lethargic and less social.  I suspected that he was in pain.  Thanks to the mast cell tumor’s presence, I started becoming obsessive about looking for new lumps.  I would mention them to the vet, who was astonished that I found them.  They weren’t exactly big and noticeable.  One was buried deep beneath some muscle.

After Zane was diagnosed with a mast cell tumor, Bill stopped by to talk to the vet and she said, “Your wife is really good at finding lumps on Zane.  She seems really knowledgable about diseases.  Is she a nurse or something?”

Bill explained my education and work background to the vet.  He later told me that when he explained my public health experience, it was like a lightbulb went off over the vet’s head.  Suddenly, she started becoming a lot friendlier toward me.  I went in to see her in late November to talk to her about changing Zane’s diet, putting him on Benadryl and Tagamet for the mast cell disease, and avoiding unnecessary vaccines.  She also asked me about my background and I told her.  I also used to work for a vet and spent most of my childhood working in a barn.  With that knowledge, it seemed like the vet started seeing me in a different light.  It was as if I wasn’t just some American hausfrau anymore.

Last month, I asked the vet about having Zane tested for tick-borne illnesses.  I knew that Zane would come up positive for ehrlichiosis, because he had it when we lived in North Carolina.  Ehrlichiosis can cause some of the symptoms Zane has been exhibiting.  Also, Zane was bitten by a number of ticks last summer, despite my efforts to keep them at bay.  He’s been chewing and licking his paws a lot.  I thought it was due to the allergies, but now I think he’s been doing it because he’s been in pain.  It was not enough to make him limp noticeably, but it was enough to make him not want to play or hang out with Bill and me.  I remembered Zane’s previous bout with ehrlichiosis, told the vet about it, and she agreed that he should be screened.

I also told the vet that Zane was having issues with his paws.  He would lick and chew the pads until they were raw.  Then he would have pain when trying to walk on the frosty grass because the raw paws would be in contact with the grass.  The vet had sent me home with medicated shampoo that was supposed to help heal Zane’s paws.  Having used this remedy a few times on both of my dogs, I didn’t have much faith that it would be that helpful.

Coincidentally, the day after our visit, I made a big change in Zane’s regimen.  I started giving him 5% CBD hemp oil.  Hemp oil is rapidly becoming well-known for improving the quality of life for dogs with a variety of ailments.

Yesterday, I took Zane in for a blood test.  We had a tick panel done in December and Zane came up positive for ehrlichiosis.  The vet wanted to do a more sensitive test to determine if the infection was active.  Over the past few weeks, I’ve been giving Zane the hemp oil and I’ve watched him become more energetic and social.  He seems to have less pain.  He’s stopped licking and chewing his paws as much.  Now he confines the licking to one paw, rather than all four, and he doesn’t chew the pad until the skin becomes raw.  It’s been nothing short of astonishing.

Prior to yesterday, I had not seen the vet since I made this change.  While she was drawing Zane’s blood, we started chatting.  She was friendlier than ever.  I told her about the CBD oil I’ve been using and how amazed I was by it.  She started telling me about other essential oils that we could use for Zane’s allergies.  So far, I’ve noticed that the oil seems to make Zane feel better overall and perhaps helps him with pain and inflammation.  While he’s still not quite 100%, he’s probably now at 85% or even 90% as opposed to 65% or 70%.

She asked if I was using the CBD oil for myself and I said I’d tried it.  I mostly give it to Zane, though, because it tastes like hay.  She laughed and I ended up telling her about how I tried marijuana for the first time in The Netherlands.  She laughed and asked if we visited a coffee shop.  I told her about how it was my 43rd birthday and we got a space cake from a coffee shop near our hotel in Haarlem.  Then she told me about how she and the other vet went to Amsterdam with their husbands and the husbands wanted to visit a coffee shop.  It may seem silly to mention this, but remember, I’ve been visiting this lady for the past two years, often more than once a month.  And this was very close to a friendly conversation!  In fact, it was probably the longest chat we’ve ever had.

Having lived in Germany for a total of about four and a half years, I have come to realize that Germans, by and large, can take awhile to warm up.  But once they do, you start to see a very appealing side of them.  As we continued chatting, we started talking about politics and the vet amazed me by showing that she knows as much or more about American politics than I do.  I would be hard pressed to know much about German politics, although I did read yesterday that Germany has just loosened up the regulations on the use of medical cannabis.  So we chatted a bit about that… and I would not be surprised if she was surprised that I knew about the new medical cannabis legislation in Germany (which I think is a great thing).

Another thing I’ve learned during the two times I’ve lived here is that dogs can be excellent ambassadors.  I have met more Germans because of my dogs than I have in any other circumstance.  That was true when we were living here last time, too.  Our dog, Flea, actually got our first German neighbors talking to us after we’d lived next to them for over six months.  And when Bill and I ran into them last spring, they asked about our dogs (we have different ones this time).

I don’t know how long we’ll have with either Zane or Arran.  But I can see that the vet really likes my dogs and is particularly fond of Zane.  I could be wrong, but I think her opinion of me has changed a bit, too.  Our frequent visits are now a lot less awkward than they were even just a few weeks ago.  Who knew we’d bond over pot?