June 30, 2017

Dog Safety Tips for the 4th of July Independence Day Holiday

The 4th of July Holiday can be a deadly time for dogs as they become very frightened and may attempt to flee from loud firework noises.  Here are a few tips on how to keep your Faithful Canine Companion safe during Independence Day festivities:

Stay safe inside.  Keep your pets safe and secure inside of your home.  Close windows, lower blinds, and turn on music or the TV to help drown out the sound of fireworks and firecrackers.

Lexi says:   "I am scared of loud firework noises.
My Daddy and Mommy always make sure I am calm and safe
inside the house, away from 4th of July firework sounds."

Do not leave your dog outside.  If leaving home - even for a short period of time - do not leave your dogs outside if there is a possibility of firework or firecracker noise.  Dogs can become very frightened at the loud sounds, and may attempt to dig out of the yard, or tear down fencing to escape.

Potty time?  Use a leash.  If your dog needs to go outside to potty and firework sounds are possible, do not let your dog go outside unattended.  Keep your dog on a leash, and bring him or her back inside after potty time.

Current identification, including a microchip.  Be sure your pets have proper identification on at all times, as well as current microchip information.  Check ID tags to be sure they are readable (not all scratched up from wear), and have current phone and address information.  Also check your microchip online to be certain it is activated, and that all information is complete and accurate, including a current photo of your pet.

If your pet is not microchipped, get him or her microchipped, and make sure the chip is activated, and that all information is complete and current.  A lost pet can also slip from a collar with his or her identification tag.  In this event, no chip = no identification.

Scared pet?  Talk with your vet about a sedative for your pet.  If your pet is very scared by loud noises, talk with your vet about the use of a sedative.  Give any sedative to the pet before fireworks start, leaving enough time for the sedative to start working before loud noises start booming.
Happy Independence Day, Everyone.  Stay safe.

Mary Rae Fouts

June 28, 2017

New York Times Cooking Website: No Longer Free for Non-NY Times Subscribers

The wildly-popular New York Times Cooking website portal has a wealth of  18,000 plus recipes.   Its 10 million monthly readers .... Yes, 10 million.  Who said people no longer cook? 😊 ....  all have enjoyed free access to the entire site.

Until now.

This morning, Food Editor Sam Silton announced that access to most of the the NY Times Cooking website will require a paid subscription of $5 per month for non-NY Times subscribers.  NY Times subscribers will continue to have access as part of the newspaper subscription.

Credit:  https://cooking.nytimes.com

I am an avid cook and baker, with particular emphasis on seasonal fresh ingredients and my passion for my homemade all-sourdough breads, cinnamon rolls, and pizzas.   Many of my recipes are my own creations.  I have been a daily subscriber to the NY Times for years, and enjoy visiting the Cooking site for ideas.

Confession:  my husband Jim would most likely tell you that I am obsessed about sourdough baking; that our home typically smells like bread; and that he finds bits of sourdough starter in some unusual places in the house!

On Charging for Access to the NY Times Cooking Website

And what do I think about this change?

I could not agree with it more.  

Studies consistently show people place less value on something that is free versus a paid-for item.  Whether the item is financial advice, a companion pet, or in this case recipes and related items, the same outcome applies.

If a person refuses to pay $5 a month for access to the Cooking site, or refuses to subscribe to the New York Times newspaper, what value does the person place on the Cooking site or the newspaper?  Free = No Cost = Zero, doesn't it?

Happy Cooking and Baking, Everyone!

Mary Rae Fouts

June 27, 2017

Life Jackets in California: Want to live? Always wear a life jacket when participating in boating-related water activities.

Entirely preventable.

Completely avoidable.

Yet another Summer drowning, due to the simple reason of not wearing a life jacket.

Please, please, please:  When partaking in boating and similar water activities, always ... ALWAYS ... wear a life jacket.  A 40-year-old father drown Sunday in 50-feet deep waters in nearby Rio Vista when the kayak he and his 5-year old daughter were in overturned.

And yep, you guessed it:  Neither the father nor the 5-year-old daughter was wearing a life jacket.

The 5-year-old daughter survived.  The father drowned.

A tragedy that was completely avoidable simply by wearing a life jacket.

Life Jacket Usage:  Laws in California as of June 2017

Wearing a life jacket is simply common sense. But in many cases, it is also the law in California. California law requires that:
  1.  Children under 13-years-old must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket while on board a moving water vessel that is 26 feet or less in length. 
  2.  Any person being towed behind a boat or similar water vessel (such as skiing), and any person riding a personal watercraft (jet ski) must wear a life jacket regardless of age.
The only exceptions to the law requiring life jackets for children 13-years-old and younger are when a child is:
  1.  On a sailboat and is restrained by a harness tethered to the sailboat;
  2.  In an enclosed cabin; or
  3.  On a vessel engaged in an emergency rescue situation.

No excuse not to be smart on the water.  

Be safe.  Be smart.  Respect the water and wear a life jacket.

June 22, 2017

San Francisco Giants: No Fair Weather Baseball Fans Here

Gotta say one thing about the San Francisco Giants baseball team:

Win or lose, the Giants have some of the
most loyal fans in baseball.

Yep, I am a baseball fan, and a Giants' fan in particular.  And also a fan of any team playing the Dodgers!  😉  Looking solely at wins and losses, this year's season pretty much, well, sucks for the Giants.  The Giants currently have the 2nd worst record in Major League Baseball, and have retained this dismal statistic for a while this season.  A snapshot of division statistics pretty much shows it all for the Giants.  20.5 games back as of this morning, and clearly "out of it" for the season as far as autumn playoffs are concerned:

National League West Baseball Standings as of the Morning of Thursday, June 22, 2017.

But don't tell that to the ever-loyal San Francisco Giants' fans.  No Fair Weather Fans for this major league baseball team.  Attendance at the Giants' AT&T Park has averaged 42,622 per game this season, just shy of a 42,915 sell out.  The Giants' average home attendance this season is the 3rd highest in major league baseball's 30 teams; this in spite of the team's overall dismal performance.

And how about neighboring baseball team Oakland A's attendance?  Well, the A's are also in last place in their league, although they currently have a better win-loss record than the Giants.  Well, the A's fans aren't so keen on this losing thing.  Plus the A's more-than-crappy stadium likely has something to do with lack of attendance, too.  Attendance at the Oakland A's home games this season has averaged a pitiful 17,988 seats per game, leaving the A's near dead bottom in average attendance per home game:  29 out of 30 teams.  Only lowly Tampa Bay is worse, with an average home game attendance this season of 14,589.

Baseball is Just Plain Good Fun

To me, baseball is a game to be enjoyed not only for the actual play of the game, but for the statistics, trivia, and history of the game.  Hey, and AT&T Park ... Well, I happen to think it is the most fan friendly stadium in major league baseball.  Probably one of the best things San Francisco has going for it, along with the Golden State Warriors basketball stadium that recently started construction.  The Giants and AT&T Park are truly the only reason I make a trip into San Francisco, other than for business purposes.

AT&T Park
Home of the San Francisco Giants Baseball Team

Go Giants, and Go Giants' Baseball Fans!

Mary Rae Fouts

June 20, 2017

Heat and Pets: Please DO NOT Leave Pets in the Car When it is Hot Outside

Heat can kill and does not discriminate.  Both humans and companion animals suffer and die from heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

We are in the midst of a heat wave her in the San Francisco Bay area.  High so far this week on my backyard weather station in Pleasant Hill, California?  113.1 sizzling degrees.


Dogs in Hot Cars = Death!!

Which reminds me:  Do not ever,  ever leave pets in cars when it is hot, even warm outside.  You may think you trip into the store will "only take a couple minutes", when actually it will take you 20 minutes.  The inside temperature of a care rapidly climbs, creating great risk of injury or death from heat exhaustion or heat stroke to the enclosed pets.  Take a look at the chart below:

And yep, I was in my local grocer Lunardi's Sunday at 11:30 AM.  90 plus degrees outside, and over the intercom comes an announcement that 2 distressed dogs are in a blue sedan car in the parking lot.  Luckily in California, people can break vehicle windows to removed distressed dogs in situations such as this without criminal prosecution.  Yes, it is a state law.  However, how sad such a law should have to exist.

Stay cool and hydrated everyone.  And that includes our Faithful Canine Companions and other Companion Animals.

Mary Rae Fouts

June 19, 2017

Police K9 Hancock Recovering from Pit Bull Attack During SWAT Raid in Oakley, CA

K9 Hancock, a canine member of Concord, California Police Department's K9 Team as well as the Central Contra Costa County SWAT Team, was injured will assisting in a search and arrest warrant in Oakley, California on Saturday, June 17.

The warrant pertained to a home connected to a suspect wanted for a murder earlier that day in Concord, California.  Hancock was injured when the Oakley home's resident Pit Bull broke loose from his collar, charged officers, and attacked K9 Hancock.  The Pit Bull first bit Hancock on a front leg, then clamped onto Hancock's neck, at which time an officer shot and killed the pit bull.

Thankfully, K( Hancock is expected to make a full recovery and is comfortably resting at home.

Thank you for your community service, K9 Hancock!
Rest up and get well soon!

Photos from the Concord Police Department are posted below.  Also, read Concord PD's Facebook post about the event.

K9 Hancock received Emergency Vet care after attack by Pit Bull.
Note bite wounds on right front leg and left neck area.
Poor Doggy!

K9 Hancock recuperating comfortably at home.  Good Boy!

Mary Rae Fouts

June 13, 2017

Mountain View Cemetery: Lack of decorum sparks complaints and public discussion.


de·co·rum:  Etiquette. behavior in keeping with good taste and propriety.

Regretfully, not by some visitors to Oakland, California's historic Mountain View Cemetery.
Oakland's Mountain View Cemetery
Photo credit:  mountainviewcemetery.org

223-acre Mountain View Cemetery was established in 1863 by a group of East Bay pioneers under the California Rural Cemetery Act of 1859. It provides stunning views of the East San Francisco Bay Area.  Mountain View was designed by the renown landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed New York City's Central Park and much of UC Berkeley and Stanford University's landscape.

Mountain View Cemetery has  been promoted as a place for the public to enjoy for its beauty, along with its function as a cemetery.   But, regretfully, a few people ... Idiots ... are treating Mountain View with great disrespect, and possibly jeopardizing public access to this beautiful and serene location.

The miscreants? They seem to generally fall into 2 categories: (1) Hell raising teens who are drinking alcohol, playing basketball on grave site areas, and setting up impromptu band "jam" sessions in the cemetery, and (2) dog owners and walkers who are walking dogs off leash, and walking dogs in prohibited areas.  Read more about this issue in this East Bay Times article.

I have always believed that most people try to be generous and good.  But here a select group of people ... likely a small minority of all who visit Mountain View Cemetery .... are acting disrespectfully, with no decorum, in a place of rest that demands respect from all visitors.  Where are the teens' parents?  And as for the dog owners and walkers?  They are likely the same ones who walk their dogs off leash in public parks and trails where off leash dogs are prohibited, while leaving their dog poop behind.

Decorum, Rotary Phones, and The Good Old Days

Decorum.  So said when people fail to observe simple etiquette.  Sometimes I miss the Good Old Days of suits and dresses at baseball games, men always opening doors for ladies, TVs with antennas and 3 channels (an no remote), bacon and eggs every day for breakfast without worrying about cholesterol and fat, and rotary dial phones that always worked. 

June 12, 2017

Arianna Huffington: Can you say H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-T-E?

Hypocrite.  A person who acts in contraction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.

Yep, that’s Arianna Huffington.  Self-avowed feminist and co-founder of the progressive and politically liberal (aka lefty) opinion and news website The Huffington Post, now known simply as HuffPost.

Huffington’s current project Thrive calls for a "third women's revolution" to end male-dominated workplaces which consider burnout "a badge of honour".

Sounds impressive, doesn’t it?  But what does Arianna do in real life?

You guessed it ...
Just the opposite. 

As reported in this morning’s print editions of the New York Times and my local East Bay Times (read the articles here and here), Arianna Huffington, who sits on the Board of Directors for crisis-filled Uber, has been a consistent fan and likely the board’s biggest supporter of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.  Yep, Arianna Huffington has been the head cheerleader for worse-then-a-bad-frat-boy Travis Kalanick.  Yep again, Kalanick, the Uber top executive who sat idly by as scores of Uber female employees complained of sexual harassment, retaliation, and sexual propositions in the workplace, in addition to sexual assaults/rapes upon paying female Uber passengers by male Uber auto drivers.

"Hypocrite" aka Arianna Huffington

Did Huffington come out condemning Travis Kalanick’s abhorrent lack of leadership and toxic management style?  Nope.  Huffington only continued to offer support.  With a smile.

So much for living your own “third women’s revolution”, Arianna.  NOT!

If you are a woman, would you feel safe taking 
Uber for transportation, or working at Uber today?

As of right now, I would not.

Pathetic.  Amazing how so many public figures – Arianna Huffington included - willingly choose to not walk the talk that dribbles daily from their mouths.

Hypocrites all.  Sickening.

No one I would look up to as a roll model.  Ever.  Would you?

Mary Rae Fouts

June 8, 2017

Pet Food: Is your pet food safe? Maybe not, even if it is an ultra-premium brand.

As the old saying goes, "You are what you eat."  One could argue the same holds true for our companion pets.

So, what are you feeding your pets?  If you are feeding your pets an ultra-premium commercially-made pet food, the food must be safe .... Right?

Uh, may not.
Contaminated Pet Food and Treats:
Beef Thyroid Hormone, Anyone?

Each year, thousands of dogs and cats become sickened, some die, due to consuming contaminated commercially-made pet food and treats.  And the problem is not just with "cheap" brands.  The ultra-premium Blue Buffalo dog food brand recently recalled its  BLUE Wilderness, Rocky Mount Recipe dog food because it was found to be contaminated with beef thyroid hormone.

And as far as the word "natural" used to describe some pet food, including the Blue Buffalo brand, there is no regulatory definition of what "natural" means for pet food.   Your guess is as good as mine.

The FDA maintains this database of Animal and Veterinary Recalls (screenshot above), including those related to pet food and treats.  Visit the site to view recalls and sign up for email alerts.

Are Bones Safe for Dogs?

Now let's talk bones.  I know some dog owners will disagree with me on this issue, but ...  As for bones, in my opinion, they are a BIG BIG NO for your dog.  Just say no to bones.  Bones can splinter and lodge in a dog's airway passage or intestine.  In fact, this happened to a dog in my neighborhood last summer, who ingested part of a pork sparerib bone he was chewing on.  The bone became lodged in his intestine and splintered, requiring emergency surgery.  The poor dog was never the same afterward and appeared to never recover; his health appeared to greatly declined after the bone event.  As of a few weeks ago, his human owner told me the dog's life was on a day-to-day basis.

And What About a Raw Food Diet for Your Pet?

And how about the raw food diet fad that some pet owners embrace?  Not me.  (Yes, I know I will likely take some flack for this opinion, too.)  I still remember the discussion about dog food  I had with my primary vet some years ago.  My vet's opinion of raw food?  One word:  "Gross".  He went on to state that today's domesticated animals do not have the GI tracts and digestive abilities to property digest raw food like wild animals do.  Also, there is great risk for food poisoning for humans and dogs alike.  According to WebMD, general risks when feeding raw food to your pet include:
Sid's and Lexi's Food Mats
and Food Bowls.
  • Threats to human and dog health from bacteria in raw meat;
  • An unbalanced diet that may damage the health of dogs if given for an extended period; and
  • Potential for whole bones to choke an animal, break teeth or cause an internal puncture.
With those risks, no way I'd ever consider a raw food diet for my dogs.  Would you?

What Do I Feed My Dogs?

I cook for my dogs Sid and Lexi, a meal my husband Jim and I call "Canine Unfried Rice".  I posted about Sid and Lexi's meals last year.   I'll re-post again soon on this topic, including my recipe for 24 hour slow -cooked turkey and broth that I am currently using in the Canine Unfried Rice.  Easy to make, nutritious, and delicious!

Unconditional love.  And I am reminded daily that some of the most important things in life, I have learned from my dogs.

Mary Rae Fouts

June 6, 2017

HUMAN Project: Would you turn over all of your life to researchers? I say hell no.

Would you allow researchers to track every single aspect of your life for ... well ... 20 years?  Maybe longer.  And I mean everything ... every minute detail ... about you and your life, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  Then allow every bit of your data and personal information to be retained, studied, and stored by researchers?

We're talking all of your smartphone activity.   All of your financial transactions.  Website browsing and shopping.  All health information and records.  All of your daily activities, including sleep activity and what you eat and drink.  Heck, the project is even going to track and study your poop.

And for what reason? Well, a group of stalkers researchers from the University of New York decided they want to know “everything there is to know about a group of people,” in an attempt to "try to answer fundamental questions about why we make the decisions we make and how they affect our lives."  The project is known as the HUMAN Project.  You can learn more by visiting the HUMAN Project website.

The project plans to only accept New Yorkers for its subjects.  That's kind of discriminatory, isn't it?  Ohioans or Texas no good enough?  And what happens if a New York project participant moves out of state to some foreign place, say the  Oil and Petrochemical Refinery State Garden State New Jersey?  Kind of messes with this so-called project, doesn't it?

Maybe it's just me, but are these researchers just bored to death, or what? Don't they have enough work to do without starting some Fantasy Island-like science fiction project that will be the treasure trove delight of hackers everywhere?

Or perhaps using research efforts and funding to find a cure for breast cancer, lung cancer, Alzheimer's disease, type 1 diabetes, and Lou Gehrig's disease is just too passé today.  

Is the HUMAN Project truly science, or some researcher-obsessed form of stalking?

To read more about this crazy, ding bat, nonsensical ... ok, I'll put on my diplomatic hat and just label it an outlandish project, read the recent New York Times article:   10,000 New Yorkers. 2 Decades. A Data Trove About ‘Everything’.  And check out last year's article in nymag.com here. 

Science, or perhaps Franken-Science, at your service.

Mary Rae Fouts

June 5, 2017

NYC Subway: Travel in Style with your Faithful Canine Companion

Once again, New Yorkers show their resourcefulness when complying with New York City Subway regulations.

Specifically, regulations regarding traveling on the subway with a dog.

Need to take the subway with your Faithful Canine Companion?  With a bit of ingenuity .... and perhaps a bit of New York City style ... no problem.

You see, NYC Subway regulations state that a dog may ride the subway provided the dog is “enclosed in a container.”

But the regulation does not define "container".
Nor does it define "enclosed".
And that's when things get interesting.
And well, simply downright cute.

Photo credit:  Pinterest at https://goo.gl/images/ujgRC1

Check out these sure-to-put-a-smile-on-your-face picture-filled articles (here and here) that capture New York City's subway-riding dogs.  And prepare to smile.  A lot.

Another life lesson learned with help from our Faithful Canine Companions!

Mary Rae Fouts

June 2, 2017

Dogs: Once again, a dog steals the show. Or a Russian Newscast, that is!

Sid enjoying the beach at Carmel, California.
The past 7 days have been absolute Hell, or perhaps Hell and back.   Our beloved Husky-mix Sid became critically ill,  requiring life-saving emergency vet care and hospitalization.  We didn't know if Sid would make it for a while, but he is a strong dog, is home, and on the mend.

More on those horrid events later, but thanks to Sage Emergency and Specialty Vets in Concord, California for saving Sid's life, and for the collaborative vet work from our primary vets at Hillcrest Veterinary Hospital in Pleasant Hill, California.

So today's post warrants something fun!

And, of course, Dog related!

I have not a clue as to what the Russian news anchor is saying, but that's not necessary.

Once again, a dog steals the show.  Or in this case, a Black Lab steals the newscast!

Watch the video below, and read about this hilarious incident here.

Photo credit:  today.com
Mary Rae Fouts