Sunday, July 24, 2016

Cracus Loves Playgrounds

Earlier this year Cracus completed an intro circus class at Canine Circus School in Oakland. It was obvious to everyone in the class that Cracus has two speeds - running fast and stop. He did all the training as fast as he could. He was impatient when he had to wait for his classmates to take their turns. He is a natural for doing circus tricks, so I continue to do the routines and make new ones with him at home.

Recently my "sidekick" Katie from next door has been going on walks with me and the pups. As we pass by different playgrounds, Katie always wants to go on the slides. Cracus is always eager to join Katie. He'd run up the stairs as fast as he can and also run down the slides!

We have played on the slide and the swing behind El Cerrito Library. Katie wanted to go to Cerrito Vista Park . I didn't know which park until we arrived. I used to pass by this park everyday on my way to junior high school. It didn't have these fancy play structures back then.  Cracus ran up and down the slides with Katie.  I wish I could get a slide for our backyard!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Garbage Warrior

I walk around the neighborhood a lot with the pups. While I walk, I often find pleasant surprises that I would not otherwise discover. I know where the vegetable patches and good fruit trees are. I can basically do an edible walking tour in the neighborhood. I also tend to get the first dibs on many curbside freebies. A few days ago I came upon a box of free stuff while I was walking Cracus. In the box, there was a copy of Garbage Warrior. By looking at the photos on the back cover of the DVD, I could tell the guy on the front cover, Michael Reynolds, uses garbage such as used tires and bottles to build houses. Wow!  He uses things people throw away and turns them into something everyone needs. This is a movie that is right up my alley! I was very excited to take the movie home with me.

When people think of garbage, it's often something ugly, dirty, and useless. The houses Michael Reynolds built are beautiful and functional. I didn't even realize the colored glass balls embedded in the walls are actually used glass bottles! 

After watching the movie, I Googled more about Michael Reynolds.  I realized this movie was released in 2008, so there had to be more progress on his projects in the last 8 years.  I found out that people can rent one of his "Earthships"  to experience living in a fully sustainable house, which provides food and electricity. Some of these nightly rentals are even dog friendly!  People can also attend Earthship Academy to learn to build these sustainable off-grid homes. This is just incredible. I knew there are a lot more fascinating sights and inspirational creations for me to explore and experience. The movie is available on Youtube and Vimeo for free. I am happy to share this movie below with anyone who is open minded. Enjoy!

Garbage Warrior Full Length from Louis Stamatelos on Vimeo

Monday, June 27, 2016

Albany Bulb!

For years I have heard of Albany Bulb as the other awesome dog park that is comparable to Point Isabel, where I am a regular for the last seven years.   I didn't really think any other dog park would be as great as Point Isabel, so I never drove the extra two miles to check out Albany Bulb. Since foxtails have been quite a problem at Pt. Isabel this summer, I have not been going there as much. Last Saturday, while 4 other dogs were under my care, I wanted to take the whole pack somewhere fun.  My little helper from next door volunteered to hang out with us for the day, which made it easier to pack up the car with all six dogs for an adventure. 

We arrived Albany Bulb around 10 a.m. on Saturday. We had to park all the way at the end of the trail leading to the beach. It was a little difficult for Kelsey who is now about 14 years old.  For her size, she is equivalent to a person in late 80 to 90 years old. When we finally got to the beach, we were all excited. I had no idea that Albany Bulb is a sandy beach that you can walk into the ocean.  Since it was on a Saturday, it was very crowded. We stayed for only about 45 minutes. 

First trip to Albany Bulb on a crowded Saturday

I took Cracus and Kelsey back to Albany Bulb on Monday morning, and we were able to park very close to the beach entrance. There were only a handful of people and dogs at the beach, so everyone had a lot of room to roam. Kelsey enjoyed dipping her paws in the bay while Cracus ran back and forth near the water. Kelsey even attempted to chase a ball next to a young hound. This time I brought fresh water with me, which proved to be a good idea as both Cracus and Kelsey got really thirsty.

We have found our new favorite dog park!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Roli Roti Delivered!

Momo's first day at Paws Up Dog Care 

In early May, I received a doggie daycare request for a tiny Maltese puppy named Momo.  Momo means peach in Japanese. As soon as I saw the name, I knew there was some kind of Japanese connection. Momo's entire family came to the dog park to meet Cracus and me.  I learned that Cracus behaves better when he meets other dogs on mutual ground first. However, when I saw how small Momo was, I was a bit concerned.  Cracus is usually a bit rough and plays like a boy with whoever plays the same way.  He often plays with dogs who are either a little bigger or much bigger than he is. Momo looked like a little gentle girl. She rolled on her back with her belly exposed as soon as Cracus approached her.  I was worried that Cracus would be too rough. He also tends to grunt a lot when he is excited or just playing. Momo's mom, who is Japanese, didn't seem too concerned. Momo's dad, who has an European accent, was amused with the way Cracus walked on his hind legs. They were excited to talk to me about dogs since Momo is their first dog. Shortly after their visit, they confirmed Momo's daycare for the month of June. To my surprise, Momo plays just as wild as Cracus. Even though she is small, she is fast, fearless, and has even more energy than Cracus! I realized that Cracus has met his match on the first day Momo spent with us. Here is a short video clip of how crazy they played with each other!

Momo's dad has been dropping off and picking up Momo everyday.  One day he mentioned how Off the Grid was holding up the traffic so he couldn't pick up Momo sooner. We started chatting about how expensive food trucks are selling their food. It's almost as much as going to a restaurant. He asked me if I have heard of Roli Roti. Yes, of course!  I used to see Roli Roti all the time at farmers' markets!  He was pleased that I knew of his food truck. It has been a while since I visited a farmers' market but how can anyone forget the sight of a truck full of rotisserie chickens?  I remember how good it smelled. I was stoked to learn that Momo's dad is the owner of Roli Roti! Wow, suddenly I felt that I have met a celebrity!

Needless to say, he is a busy man. Momo ended up staying with us overnight a few times. He was going to pay me extra for all the late pickups and overnight stay, but I was more interested in tasting Roli Roti again after all these years. He brought me a chicken last week.  Tonight he brought me a big chunk of porchetta.  It suddenly felt like Thanksgiving. After taking a few photos, I cut off 1/3 of it to give to my next door neighbors. They have been mowing my front lawn ever since we moved in and helped us with all kinds of repairs. I will be sure to share any goodies with them. Tomorrow I will bring another 1/3 of it to my parents. There is still a lot of porchetta after cutting 2/3 off. I wonder if I could freeze some for later?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Dog Proofing the Fence Again

Cracus likes to explore along the fence looking for any place that he can dig and slip under. He enjoys visiting the neighbors on his terms. One of my constant tasks is to walk along the fence and make sure that all the weak spots are patched up or blocked.  As you can see from the video above, Cracus is vigorously scratching the fence. Luckily I just picked up a few more free bricks on the sidewalk this morning.  I knew exactly what to do with them.

I placed the bricks against the fence, so Cracus can no longer scratch the base of the fence. There are other areas of the fence that are blocked off by various bricks and other objects.  I have a collection of free bricks just for this purpose. Cracus was disappointed after the bricks got in his way, but I am sure he will come up with something else to keep me on my toes.