Friday, August 31, 2012

Picturing the Pups

     Several years ago, on one of our many trips to the dog mall, Annie, Paul, and I found a photo studio had moved in.  Over the years, we've stopped in at least once a week to chat with Wolfgang, Beth, Crystal, Ann, and the rest of the staff and admire the art on the walls.  I'd mentioned several times to the Hubbs that before we leave Richmond, I'd like to have our pictures taken at Wolfgang Jaspers with the pups.  Last spring, the Hubbs surprised me by walking into Wolfgang's and booking the appointments for a family photo shoot.
     The appointments are done as a set of 3.  The first one is a get together where everyone talks about what they expect to get out of the photo shoot (for us, we had eloped and have never had pictures taken of us at all).  We were thinking of fancy pics of us and family pictures with A&P.  What to bring as far as clothing for all 4 of us was discussed.
     The 2nd appointment was the actual photo shoot.  Beth and Wolfgang blocked off the photo studio so that Annie and Paul could be off leash without worrying where are they and what are they getting into.  There's a huge changing room to the side that Annie and Paul could wonder in and out of without revealing our clothing changes.  Beth and Wolfgang have thought of everything including a vanity that you can sit at to do your make-up, a chez lounge to sit on, and lots of hooks to hang up all of your stuff.  There's also a big fluffy rug that's comfy to stand on while you're changing.  (I'm not coordinated enough to stand in heals and change clothes.)
This pic's on their website!
     The 3rd appointment is when you come back to the studio to choose what pictures you want and how you want them.  The room you get to choose the photos in is pretty cool and comfy too!  Sit back and chill out on the couch as your pictures are projected onto the screen in front of you in 2 forms.  Both as a movie and as the photos themselves.  Did you like that family picture, but there was just something a little bit off?  No problem, Beth and Wolfgang can pull up all of the pictures like it and show them to you on the screen so you can find the one that's perfect.  Trying to figure out what your pictures will look like on the wall and you just can't picture the size right?   The picture you pick out gets projected onto the wall so that you can really see what you're ordering in the size your ordering it.  (sooo helpful!)  We also ordered 2 panels with 3 pictures in each panel.  The fact that the photos were projected onto the wall so we could see what we were ordering was fabulous!
     Both Wolfgang and Beth are wonderful to work with and make you feel comfortable and easy to smile for the shots.  They also both have lots of patients when it comes to working with both Hubbs and I and especially with Annie and Paul.  (Annie has a history of running from us when we turn on the camera).    The Hubbs and I also made the horrible choice of shaving his head that morning (his "normal" hair cut), but the freshly shaved head reflected light like crazy.  Not a problem for Wolfgang, in about 30 seconds he reset the lights so that we didn't get HUGE GLARES coming from the Hubbs head.  
      Annie and Paul even got dressed up for the event!  Annie had on her pearls (don't worry, they're fake ones I found at JoAnn Fabric) and Paul had his neck tie on.  There are a few shots taken of them without their collars or dress clothes on, but they just weren't feeling it/acting themselves.  So after a few moments, their normal collars went back on and they went back to being themselves.    
     Another really nice thing about Wolfgang Jasper Photography is that they guarantee their photos.  That may sound really weird, but let me explain.  Both Beth and Wolfgang will tell you that these photos are an investment, and they understand that life happens.  Roofs leak, hurricanes come through, homes catch fire, and pets chew on things.  If for any of these reasons (or any other ones) your photos get destroyed, simply notify Wolfgang Jaspers and they will replace your family photos in a timely fashion.  This is possible because everything from the photos to what you ordered in what size is kept on file.  
     Wolfgang and Beth bring their family pets with them to work and encourage the rest of the staff to do the same.  No animal is off limits when photographing.   On their webpage, there's pictures of dogs, cats, horses, and even a parrot!  

Monday, August 27, 2012


There's an old saying, never work with animals or children.  On a daily basis, I'm out of luck just by that saying.  Each day, I start out working with Annie and Paul, move on to working with children, and come home to Annie and Paul.
Blurry Annie with shinny eyes.
     Trying to take pictures of Annie most days is like pulling teeth.  She hears the camera even turn on and she bolts from where she's at, trying to find a hiding place.  She'll move from room to room turning her butt to the camera.  Hence, the reason you'll usually see more pictures of Paul on here than Annie.  Paul cheerfully sits for the camera especially if he thinks he'll get treats.  As a result, we have 2 different cameras for picture taking.

Blurry Paul with shinny eyes.

   At one point in time, the Hubbs was in the Navy.  While enlisted, he purchased a Pentax digital camera.  At the time, it was top of the line and quite snazy.  Now, I've got a 50/50 chance of the picture coming out blurry, or dark, or someone's eyes glowing (mine and the dogs both glow, and red eye reduction only works sometimes).   My biggest temptation to toss it into a river occurred during and after his college graduation.  Below is a picture of him receiving his diplomas.  Sadly, this is one of the better pictures we have of this event.
Hubbs is on the right.  

     My other present option is the camera in my MacBook Pro.  The one that goes along with the photobooth.  The good news is, if I put the computer on mute, Annie usually doesn't run from me when I take her picture.  There's also no red eye, and for the most part, no blurriness.  The downside is that it's a bit grainy depending on the light.  

Grainy, but it's Annie letting me snuggle on her. 

     So if you ever look at one of the pictures on here and wonder, "What where they thinking when they took that one?"  Now you know why.  Hopefully between now and the next college graduation, we'll purchase another camera that takes better pictures.  

Friday, August 24, 2012

Walking the pups

     Ready or not, our school years are here.  (And contrary to the Staples commercial, it's not the most wonderful time of the year).  The Hubbs has moved on to working on his masters in economics (and you'll hear from him some about this later this semester), and I'm back to teaching elementary school kids.  Annie and Paul are back to getting up early, hanging out in their room all day, and being walked in the evening.  Sometime's there are 2 of us, sometime's there's 1 of us.
     If I'm by myself, I've got a bit of unique way of walking them using my old rock climbing harness.

Rock climbing harness on.  I've got the dogs leashes connected to the harness with a carabiner.  If they lunge after something at the same time (stray cats, squirrels, and bunnies; beware), they pull from below my center of gravity.   

Annie with her lupine harness on.  I've got her leash connected to her harness and my harness.

Paul with his lupine harness on.  He's more likely to lunge at a squirrel.  Once with hand held leashes, A&P both lunged at the same time and I went through the snow on my back.  

Not the best picture, but it's what I look like with the harness on.  Like I said, it's my old rock climbing harness, so it looks a bit dorky.  

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Last day of summer

     Today is my last day of summer break.  So, what have Annie, Paul, and I done today?  Started out with an early morning walk through Carytown.  After the 2 miles we went to Stoney Point (the dog mall) to do 2 more miles of walking.  I think I firmly exhausted Annie & Paul though, the fell asleep on the floors of 2 Friends and took a nap on the floor of Tiffanies.  I'll make sure they get a nice long nap this afternoon while I run a few errands.
     My 2 legged kids (aka, my students) will be back at school on the 3rd, so I'll be in starting tomorrow to try and get the place ready.  Ready or not, here they come.
     Annie and Paul will go back to their school year routine of chilling in their room and listening to NPR all day.

Annie & Paul half way through a walk.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Annie and Paul's Room

     You know that curse your mother put on you as a kid, "May you have a child just like you one day."  I swear it comes true even if your kids are furry and 4 legged.  I wasn't a tidy kid, and more times than not, I remember my parents going into my room to clean it for me (Not what I'd recommend to any young readers out there, no matter how good it sounds).  Obviously, Annie and Paul aren't going to clean their own room.  They'll clean up the kibble on the floor they haven't eaten, but that's about it.  We went away for a few days a while ago, and I hate to leave the house a mess when I'm out of town.  (I like coming home and not feeling like I need to clean right away)  At the top of the list "to be cleaned" was Annie and Paul's room.
I'm sure this wasn't what my great aunt had in mind when she said I could have this dresser, but it's what works for us.  All of Annie and Paul's no sew fleece blankets are in here (after being washed of course).  The top drawer also has a window fan that we put in the window during mild weather to pull fresh air into the room.  The TV on top is unplugged, but at one time, we'd leave the weather channel on all day for Annie and Paul to listen to while we were away.  

I picked up the thing to elevate their feeding bowls at IKEA on a whim a few years ago, and when I went back they weren't sold any more.  The big green container was from packing for college freshman year, now it holds Annie and Paul's food.

Paul doing his no look pose.  The mattress and box spring were my bed when I moved to VA after college, now A&P have taken it as their bed.  The good news is when I sleep with them, it's pretty comfy.  It's also a warm place for them to sleep in the winter.

The pile of dog beds is usually where Paul sleeps.  Different ones have been collected at different times, but they've all stood up to Paul so far.  It's another comfy place for the pups to crash out.  

When I went back to IKEA a year after getting the food dish risers, I was dismayed to find they stopped carrying them.  I took a collection of old encyclopedias (from the 1960's) and used them to elevate Annie and Paul's water dishes.  In close the window weather, they sit under the window, but in open window weather we move them.  Otherwise they tend to become a dead bug collection.  

Not the best picture, but one of my favorite new things in their room.  I've walked into A&P's room to feed/water/ ask "what are you barking at" several times in the dark.  And I'm always afraid of, "What am I about to walk into?"  This night light is from IKEA and it's got a little light sensor on the top of it.  So in the day time, it turns itself off and turns itself on at night.  It's tucked between the food and the dresser and I now know what's where in their room when I walk in at midnight.
PS- Here's an earlier look into Annie and Paul's room on how we "crate" them when we're gone.  

Friday, August 17, 2012

Carytown: Part 3: Vets

     There are lots of regular normal family vets all over the place just like there are all over America, but the thing that really makes Carytown stand out are the unique vets the area has.
An easy way to spot Helping Hands at any area festival are these hands.
      Helping Hands is one of the newer vets in the area (2 years that I know of).  Their entire way of thinking is how to make surgery for your pet affordable.  Too many times, Dr. Lori Pasternak and nurse Jacqueline Morasco saw people have to choose between surgery for their pet and food on the table for the kids.  HH does it's best to prevent "economic euthanasia" in this rocky economy.  Part of how this can be done is by providing surgery as out patient services and by volunteers that help the business run smoothly.  The medical staff is fully licensed, but pay attention the next time you're at your doctors office as to how many people do things that aren't the doctor that you see. (think: chart pulling, phone answering, showing you where to walk to get to your exam room, front desk workers, the cleaning staff)  Annie & Paul had their teeth cleaned here last summer and they did a fabulous job.  We had them  do blood work to make sure they'd be ok from the anesthesia, and everything went smoothly.  The nail trims were free (done while under anesthesia).  They are located next to the McDonalds in Carytown and have their prices (with medical terms and explanations)  on their website.

       Across the street from Helping Hands is Prevent a Litter (PAL).  They do not only spays and neutering, but they do the "normal" shots and tests as well for a really low prices!  I've met several people who take there pets there for their yearly check ups and shot updates and have heard only good things about them.  They do lots of fund raisers each year to help keep their costs low.  In the picture above, the sign is on the left side of the picture, but the white building on the right is Prevent a Litter.

     A block down from HH and PAL is the Veterinary Emergency and Surgery Center in Carytown.  They are open 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  Being an Emergency vet, they can run a bit more on the expensive side, but they are worth every penny when you're worried about your furiend.  They also provide cancer treatments and work with Fetch a Cure to help families get these needed services.  We have family friends who have used the services of VESC for their family dogs, "The biggest thing the VESC brought us was hope. When Cooper was diagnosed [with cancer] he was given 4-6 months. After losing Snowball [to cancer] last year, this was beyond devastating, we felt there was no hope.  When Dr. Fulmer sat down with us and outlined treatment options, we were suddenly given hope. Hope for more time; Hope for a year or perhaps two, or maybe even Cooper's natural lifespan. I still get beyond nervous for check ups, but Dr. Fulmer and the staff keep providing hope and treat our boy and us with love and care. We're almost 8 months post-diagnosis now.... we pray we will have years to come."

     We're also lucky to have Fetch a Cure in Richmond.  I spoke yesterday about the metal dog on the roof of Nacho Mama's.  Each year, one of the fund raisers that Fetch a Cure does is sell these metal dogs to different business around town to be decorated.  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Carytown: Part 2 Food (version 2.5)

     At the far end of Carytown, across the street from Martins is Montana Gold Bread Company.  Fresh baked bread is the name of the game each and every day from Challah to Ukrainian Black Bread to Cheddar Garlic.  To be honest, I have yet to find a bread here that I don't like.  They've got a very nice staff as well.  If you show up with pups early in the morning while the bread is baking, wait for a slow moment in the store, and they will come out to wait on you.  If you're there later in the day after the bread is baked and everything is covered, you can bring fido into Montana Gold with you.  Either way, the staff is supper nice and the food is yummy!  Oh, and they have a club card too!

A few blocks up from Montana is Nacho Mama's.  (In the picture, Nacho Mama's is on the right half of the duplex with the sunshine at the top of their roof)  They've got a front porch for dining there, or you can eat inside if you'd rather.  If you look closely at the photo, you'll also see a painted dog by the yellow window shutters on the 2nd floor.  There will be more about the painted dogs tomorrow.   Once again, I've never eaten here, but I know they support Fetch a Cure.  If you're ever in RVA, give them a shot and let me know how they are.

     Obviously, this isn't a store that I take Annie and Paul into.  Their minds would go nuts in about 2 seconds and I know I'd be charging down the street carrying one and dragging the other to the emergency vet soon after.  That's not how anyone wants to spend the day or several hundred dollars.  I've been inside of For the Love of Chocolate before and it's heavenly.  I'm not a huge fan of chocolate, but when I get in the mood for it, this is one of the few places that will satisfy my sweet tooth.  In the summer, they try to keep the energy bills low by asking customers to pay attention to the signs on the doors and only use 1 side of their double doors.  They are next door to:

Jean-Jacques Bakery! (both are in the same plaza as Can Can)  Once again, I can't take Annie and Paul into the bakery.  (There is fresh bread out all over the place).  But they have a set of chairs and tables outside all the time for dining alfresco with fido.  The shops around them are friendly to the pups (The lady who was setting up the outside display of Janet Brown came over, petted, and talked to A&P the day we took these pictures.)  I showed up at 7ish one Saturday morning back in the spring.  While I was talking to the woman at the counter about shouting in an order and having it brought to me, the owners wife came over and held the leashes for me so i could run in and do the order.  She said that they had 2 dogs at home and that she understood what it was like to try to walk 2 dogs at the same time.  (While A&P are about the same size, her pups have a huge difference (great dane and a little pup that I can't think of the name of)).
     Ok, that should wrap up the tour of food in Carytown.  Not everything is dog friendly, but for the most part, they know they have customers with dogs, so they try to be accommodating.    Tomorrow's post will wrap up the rest of Carytown with the vet stuff (and this is the place has a lot of vet stuff in it).

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Storms Part 2

We're presently under a Tornado Warning for the next half hour.  I know I've always been told go to the interior room of your house, but just short of a closet, we don't have one.  So Annie, Paul, and I are chilling in the bathroom (their least favorite room because they think they're getting a bath).  Paul keeps licking the cold tile floor (dear 1979, please tell me you didn't put anything in the tiles that would hurt Paul 30 some years later!)  I've got both of them wrapped in their thundershirts (and for dealing with a tornado, I wish I had one of my own).  According to the radar, we're only half way through this storm.  Some of the thunder has been awfully weird sounding (I can hear it through the pipes of our elevated ranch)
Please excuse the horrible picture, it was taken with Photo Booth on my MacBook Pro.  But eh, it works.

What does everyone else do with their pups when they're under sever weather warnings?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Wordless Wednesday on Monday: Carytown Pics

Ok, so Life kind of got in the way this weekend, and I didn't have the chance to write the blog post.  So  I'll do wordless Wednesday today, and I'll have a blog post that explains the pictures on Wednesday.  Friday will finish all of the Carytown stuff with the vet offices that are in Richmond (including the emergency vet and Helping Hands)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Carytown: Part 2: Food! (2.0)

     As I wrote about here, Carytown has lots of great food.  And I must admit, I love good and unique food.  Some of it is dog friendly and some of it isn't.  There are places that your pup is more than welcome, and there are other places that are defiantly for people only.
     Basilis I wrote about last Friday on our Lunch post.  It's not quite fast food, but it's good Greek food served fast (our gyro and spanakopita were out in less than 5 minutes).  You can eat indoors (not dog friendly, but air conditioned) or you can eat at one of their 2 out door tables placed just at the front of the restaurant (dog friendly option).  The staff was also very cool about Annie and Paul.  They just went on about their business of bringing out Greek food and didn't freek out at all when they encountered 2 big dogs at one of the tables.

     Carytown Bistro & Coffee House I wrote about briefly on Monday's post Carytown Part 1. I've never eaten there myself, but every time I walk past there's at least 1 pup on their patio just hanging out with his person.  They've got a bowl of water out by the opening from the patio into the sidewalk.  When I googled it, Yelp had good things to say about it.

     Mom's Siam is one of the Tai restaurants in Carytown.  It's got great food, alcohol if you'd like, patio seating, 2 floors inside, and a friendly wait staff.  But if you're thinking of bringing your pups along for lunch or dinner, think again.  This is one of those places you can't bring your dog onto the patio.  Even though it's at the far end of Carytown, there's still enough foot, bike, stroller traffic to distract fido while he's waiting on the sidewalk for you to eat.  Like I said, it's great food, just leave your pup at home.

Remember how a few weeks ago I wrote about being excited for Carytowns 2.5 bakeries?  They've expanded to 4.5 bakeries and I'm even more excited now when I go there!  Dixie Donuts is one of the expansions.  They've got great donuts and it's usually busy.  So if you're planning on eating there, make sure you go with 2 people (one to hold the pups, one to grab the donuts.)  They are just across the street from Mom's Siam and you can park in their parking lot.

EEEKKK!!! ok, I have 3 more places to write about for the food, so I'm only half way through.  So I hate to do this, but watch Monday for part 2.5 of Carytown food!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Annie leaving the scene of the "crime"

The "crime scene" the remains of my burrito bowl.  

Who me, no I'm not licking out mom's dishes.

I was just eating puppy food, I'm being a good boy?