Happy Birthday Blog

Happy_Birthday!

My baby turns two years old today. What should I give my blog for its birthday? A spiffy new theme? It’s had the same basic look for as long as it’s been in existence. The overall format is pleasing to the eye, easy to navigate and read. A new widget? No, I don’t think there’s room for anything else and I don’t want things to get crowded. I have already spent money on it, enough to give it my own domain name, and it also doesn’t suffer the indignity of random advertisements. I haven’t spent a hefty sum, just enough to show it some love and keep it professional.

How about a name change? The name is so long, and it’s obvious I’m a fan of alliteration. I’ve thought about shortening it to Mirth and Madness, but is it wise to rename your kid? That would also mean a trip to Vistaprint for updated business cards.

How about a focus? No, that would belie mirth and madness. My blog is about anything that strikes my fancy any given week. Writing weekly on a specific topic would be too restrictive. I would prefer more freedom.

I don’t think what my kid wants is a shiny new theme, widget or a specific topic. A name change? Perhaps. I’ll ponder it. What does a two year old really want from their parent? The gift of time and attention.

When I started my blog in 2013, I promised myself I would attempt to post once a week. Barring vacations and life getting in the way, I kept my promise. My blog is one of the pages my browser automatically opens, alongside my email and Google, so it’s at least open when I’m using my laptop.

My blog has come a long way since my very first post. I had wanted to start writing again after many years. Mirth and Madness gave me an outlet for my creativity, and sometimes the lack of it. My vow to post consistently helped get me into the habit of writing again. I enjoyed my trips to my site and, even if no one else read it, I was creating something.

Blogging led me to join a writers’ group. From there I started writing newsletter articles and short stories. I’ve even submitted some of my work, something I never thought I would do.

My little blog that’s not about anything in particular has revived my passion for writing and led me to exciting opportunities I never before would have thought available to me. No matter how hectic the days may be, I still strive to write on my blog once a week. If I’m unable to do that, I will at least check in.

While I gave life to my blog, it gave new life to me. Happy Birthday.

To Red, with Love

When our first Italian Greyhound was about three years old, we decided he needed a playmate. Moose enjoyed the playdates we attended, so we thought he might like a canine companion at home, as he had formed a close bond with our chronically ill cat.

By now we knew about the evil puppy mills behind the cute pet shop puppies. We opted to rescue our next dog. Through Petfinder we found an Italian Greyhound in the care of a central New Jersey animal welfare society. His profile told one story, but the organization told us quite a different tale once we arrived to meet the dog.

The pup was being held at a private home. It was a noisy environment; we were greeted by barking dogs and screaming kids. Knowing this sensitive breed, it wasn’t a good place for an Italian Greyhound.

His name was Red, and he had zero interest in meeting us. In fact, he was under a table and wouldn’t come out. Even the lure of meatballs wasn’t enough to convince him to greet us. The table had to be moved, and he needed to be grabbed and brought to us.

No kisses, no asking to be petted, nothing. Just shaking. I thought I heard his teeth chattering. The foster mom gave us a leash and invited us to take Red for a walk. Why would he want to do that when he couldn’t stand being near us?

Out on the front lawn we walked, my husband holding the leash. A funny thing about this little dog, he couldn’t walk, at least not the way he should. He didn’t stand upright, he walked low to the ground like a crab. He wasn’t in the best condition. His teeth were an interesting shade of green, you could almost smell him before you saw him. He was skinny, even by Italian Greyhound standards. One of his front legs bowed due to a previous broken leg. Red was in poor shape, both physically and mentally. The foster mom told us the real story behind the cute Petfinder photo. Red was “rescued” from a puppy mill by an animal hoarder, so he went from one sad situation to another.

We knew Red was more than we could deal with, and not the right dog for us. However, we couldn’t leave him in that chaotic house, worsening his fragile condition. To make matters worse, he had been neutered just the day before and was recovering from that.

We paid the adoption fee, the foster mom administered some vaccines, and off we went with a dog who really didn’t seem to care for us at all. We brought Moose on the trip to meet his potential sibling and they got on well.

Red was more than we bargained for. I never thought he wouldn’t know about grass, which is why he walked low to the ground like a crab. I don’t think he was anywhere other than a cage in the beginning of his life. He learned from Moose how to play in the yard. Our other dog also taught him how to use stairs, because Red didn’t know how to get in our house when we brought him home.

First Day Home (2005)

Red had an upsetting habit of growling at my husband, complete with raised hackles. He would also follow him and bark whenever Ted moved about the house. Sometimes he nipped the back of his legs, drawing blood a time or two. If Ted tried to put a leash on him, Red would launch himself into a wall to get away.

I had taken three days off from work to get Red acclimated to the family. All Red did was growl and bark, which brought me to tears. I wanted to love him, but I didn’t like him at all.

We took Red to our vet, a fellow Italian Greyhound owner. Red was red fawn in color with a black mask, approximately 1 to 2 years old. I was surprised he was so fancy, I just thought he was brown. We got him microchipped because who wouldn’t want a miserable little creature returned to them? He was in bad need of a dental, and needed to gain weight. The vet confirmed his leg issue, it was broken at one point and was never set. The bones fused together to form the irregular shape. Tests showed he had a parasite called giardia, which meant both dogs needed to be treated.

Once Red was repaired medically, we attempted to fix his damaged mental state. We tried trainers, behaviorists, and even a pet psychic to get to the bottom of Red’s issues.

Red has been a member of our family for 10 years this April. He still follows his daddy around the house barking. He only does this when my husband is standing or walking. If he’s sitting down, Red is curled up beside him. If we’re out of the house, Red acts normally toward him with no barking. It’s the strangest thing.

As annoying as Red’s barking is, this bad habit saved his life. When his voice changed to a muffle we knew something was wrong. He was also having difficulty breathing. Another trip to our vet diagnosed a salivary mucocele, a benign growth so far back in his throat that it blocked his airway. Red had surgery to remove the salivary gland at an out-of-state veterinary hospital and his voice returned to normal.

At first Red was a mistake, but over time he turned into a loving little dog. He does go for walks and playdates although I know he prefers to stay home. He and Moose love each other, and Moose taught him how to be a dog. It took Red a while to play with toys, but now he carries one wherever he goes.

Red is more crazy than Moose. He’s always doing something to make us smile. His exact age and birthdate are unknown but, as with Moose, we hope we have many more years together, and forever wouldn’t be long enough. Red also answers to Reddy, Reddywhip, Whips, Whippers, Snips, and Reddywhippersnapper. Whatever we call him, he is considered family. I love you, Red.

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To Moose, with Love

Photo Credit The Studio

Photo Credit The Studio

He goes by his given name of Moose, sometimes Moo, Mooey, Moo Man, Moose Papoose, Mooey Papooee, Moo Pants, and if he’s in trouble (which is rare), it’s Mussolini. He has a lot of names, but he is also called my heart dog and the four legged love of my life.

When we bought a house the last thing I wanted was a dog. I like dogs, I even had a biting Basset Hound named George growing up. Because of his disposition, George only left the house for vet appointments, so he didn’t have much of a fun factor.

One day I stopped in a now defunct pet store in search of a particular cat toy our kitties favored. I like to say I came in for a cat toy and left with a dog, but that’s not entirely true.

The store didn’t have the toy I wanted but I always looked at the puppies for sale. (This was before I became educated on puppy mills and before volunteering at the shelter). Of course they were all adorable, but one melted by heart. A tiny blue puppy was standing on the wire floor of his cage, staring at me, wagging his tail. His tag read, “Male. Greyhound.” I had never seen a Greyhound puppy before. As it turned out, I still haven’t. My mom, who tagged along on the shopping trip, asked the clerk about the dog. His cage wasn’t labeled correctly. He was an Italian Greyhound, a breed that stays smaller than a Whippet. I never heard of them, and knew nothing about them.

Knowing that holding him would seal the deal, my mom and I left the store. I told my husband about him, which led to a night spent researching the breed. After giving it some thought, we decided to get a dog.

The next morning couldn’t come soon enough. I’m not sure which of us were more excited. Hubby wanted a Great Dane or English Bulldog, but I think he would have been happy with anything I was willing to get.

We reached the store, relieved to see our puppy hadn’t been sold. The sales associate handed him to me and he immediately started cleaning my ears. I was in love. He was so young he hadn’t developed the signature tucked belly of a Greyhound. He looked like a rectangle with stick legs. It wasn’t long before he grew to look like his breed.

Moose Puppy (crop)

Puppy Love

Moose was our first Italian Greyhound. We adopted his brother Red from a rescue a few years later. I joined an Italian Greyhound website, and through that we’ve made great friends, both human and canine.

Moose is a laid back kind of guy, he loves people, dogs, and cats. He craves attention and enjoys exploring the world around him. He has his quirks, but in my eyes he’s perfect and can do no wrong. He’s an absolute angel until you move him from the couch and he turns into a 17 pound Cujo.

We just celebrated 12 years together, and he will turn 13 on Veteran’s Day. I pray we have many more years to come but, truth be told, forever wouldn’t be long enough. I love you, Moose.

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Age 11

It’s All in the Wrist(let)

I took the plunge and bought a black Simply Vera Wang wristlet from Kohl’s. It amounts to little more than a purse on a string. Not even a string, more like a loop.

Simply Vera Wang

Simply Vera Wang

Wristlets are cute, but I wasn’t sure I would have practical use for this accessory. I envied the girls who could carry these things with confidence. To be free from a bagful of unnecessary crap must be liberating.

A man must have invented the wristlet, because I felt like one when I recently went to the movies with my hubby and male friend. American Sniper was a long movie, so I opted for the wristlet over my normal bag so I wasn’t weighted down in my seat. It worked well, but if you sneak food or drinks into the theater, be sure to wear something with pockets because nothing will fit in these little suckers.

When I walked out of the movie with this thing dangling from my wrist, I couldn’t help but feel like I left something behind. How do guys manage with just a wallet? Do their noses never run? Don’t get me started on handkerchiefs, the gross washable snot rags.

I decided I could use my wristlet when I had meetings, because any items I felt lost without could always go in my laptop bag. It would be easier to carry those two things over a laptop bag and purse.

I imagine they are handy when walking the dog. Be forewarned that due to its size you will need a poop bag holder that clips onto something. I haven’t taken my wristlet on a dog walking adventure yet, but maybe I’ll give it a shot when winter is over.

I think my wristlet is small, but I bought the largest size I could get my hands on. I am anticipating the purchase of an even larger smartphone at the end of the year. My hubby’s Samsung Galaxy Note 4 fits in both the black wristlet and this cutie:

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Juicy Couture

This is a Juicy Couture wristlet that I scored for $2.00 after a few discounts, also at Kohl’s. It’s large for what it is, and it’s pink! It also has two zippered sections instead of one.

The first wristlet I bought is a small Vera Bradley, mainly because I love the raisin color and it’s being retired. It will hold my current Motorola Maxx, so I’ll enjoy our time together until I get a new phone later this year.

Vera Bradley

Vera Bradley

I figured I have my seasons covered with these guys, the black for the fall/winter, and the pink for the spring/summer.

While wristlets will never replace a purse (at least for me anyway), I do see their value. If you want to take a lighter load with you somewhere, they’re perfect.

Like Linus with his blanket, I feel naked without my purse. What if I get stopped for an impromptu game of Let’s Make a Deal? What if I need to wield it as a weapon? Wristlets just wouldn’t be as effective as a purse would be.

One cool thing about wristlets is that no one asks you to carry their crap. After all, it’s not big enough to hold my crap, how could it hold yours?

I prefer to use medium-sized bags, but it seems purses are only available in micro and gigantic sizes with nothing in between. Are you a fan of the wristlet?