Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

School Girl Tonka is the Winner!

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

Announcing our winner:

Adorable and photogenic School Girl Tonka!!!!  With a whopping 30% of all votes, School Girl Tonka will receive a custom party dress, made to order by Carolyn’s Originals! 

Thanks to all the beautiful pups who participated in Raja’s Costume Contest.  You are great sports and you all are winners in our book!

Special mention of William, the US Fighter Pilot.  William missed the contest entry date, but he’s got one of the most amazing costumes ever and Raja and I want to give him his chance to show it off.  William is a very laid back Chihuahua.  He never barks or protests when he wears his many costume accessories and he’s always ready to strike a pose!  Every year William gets a brand new, hand made costume. 

So please put your paws together for all our contestants, Tonka our winner and William!  And a happy and safe Halloween to everyone this year!

Helping Dogs Cope with Disaster: Like Travel Minus the Fun

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Why are travel and disaster similar?  In both circumstances, shifting timetables make for enormous irregularity in normal routines.  Yes, that’s one beauty of travel- a vacation from boring, quotidian patterns.  But, that’s one of the many horrors of disaster, nothing whatsoever can be taken for granted.  (By “disaster” we mean any physical, medical, emotional or financial trauma that negatively displaces normal life.)

Raja says, “I’ll choose travel, please.  As long as we’re having fun adventures, I don’t mind not doing anything the usual way.” 

Disaster, on the other paw, creates special dangers for people-centric pets who share the anguish and discomfort, but are the most powerless of all to create solutions.  Hardship takes a toll on canine health. 

Caring for dogs during disaster and hardship:

Maintain high quality food as much as possible and do not skip feedings.  Encourage eating.  Dogs drink more when worried because they hyperventilate.  Maintain clean, abundant water. 

Continue the schedule of regular meds and vitamins. 

Remember to check ears and paws and to clean eyes and teeth.  Don’t forget baths and comb-outs, if possible.  (Grooming your dog will make you feel better too.  Just try it.) 

Think ahead and hire reputable pet nannies to keep your pet’s anxiety as low as possible because anxiety is very bad for health. 

Remember to play. (Tugging on a stuffed animal makes everybody smile.) 

Now, let’s acknowledge the awesome power of dogs to mitigate against disastrous circumstances with their almost magical sense of optimism, patience and acceptance.  Dogs greet each new moment expecting positive outcomes. (How do they do it?)  Their ability to wait is legendary.  Dogs never ask why.  It’s not in their mental vocabulary. 

Finally, natural therapy dogs are almost supernatural.  Nothing makes a person feel better than a furry companion, nonjudgementally sharing every rut and bump on the journey back to the beautiful state of normal. 

Endless thanks to the LA County Fire Dept. EMTs and the LA County + USC Hospital Trauma Team Doctors and ICU Nurses.   Finer people do not exist.   

(Please scroll down and read about Raja’s Halloween Costume Contest and Prize.  The contest is still on!)

Raja’s Pet Halloween Costume Contest

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Having been to two pet fashion events, Raja and I felt we must get in on couture… albeit at the least serious level. Announcing Travel Dog’s Very First Ever………… Pet Halloween Costume Contest!

The costume contest is open to all pets all over the world, between now and October 31!

Here’s how it works:

* Between now and October 23 entrants will please send jpegs of their pets in costume to us at helenfazio@traveldogbooks.com . Be sure to include your pet’s name. Multiple family homes may enter multiple pets separately, or they may enter as a cluster- such as The Three Little Pigs (we’re talking costumes here, not real pigs); or Lady Gaga and Elton John… see what I mean?

* On Monday, October 22, we will blog post a smashing video of all entrants, with a link to an online survey, where you will vote for the best pet costume. (Yes it is legal to spam your friends to support your pet. How else can you win?)

* The winner will be announced on the afternoon of Halloween, October 31st.

* The prize: What’s the prize? A CUSTOM OUTFIT by the brilliant designers at Carolyn’s Originals: a dress for a girl or a shirt and visor for a boy. Clusters get matching visors. Pets of all sizes are invited to participate. (Yes, a camel is OK, but a fish is hard to costume humanely. Fish only must enter au natural. I don’t know what we’ll give you if your fish wins, but we’ll figure it out.)

And while you’re doing that… Raja and I will slip away for a little walkabout that we can blogabout later.

Couture here… made to measure! http://carolynsoriginals.weebly.com/

Snacking in Seattle: Walk your dog to dinner!

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010
This week, Raja is proud to feature a guest blog by Mary-Alice Pomputius .  Her two blogs are: Dog  Jaunt   http://www.dogjaunt.com/  , which offers advice about traveling with a small dog and Pet Carrier Reviews   http://www.pet-carrier-reviews.com/ , which offers unbiased reviews of carriers and crates for dogs, cats and other pets.  Mary Alice and her adorable King Charles Spaniel Chloe are snackssperts (see left) on the Seattle street “vendors.”  Follow their lead and you’ll never sit down to eat in Seattle again!  —

Portland and Seattle are often mentioned in the same breath, and there are a lot of similarities between the two cities, but one place where they differ — greatly — is in their attitude towards street food. Portland has lots of food trucks, typically gathered together in groups on city lots, and they’re a wonderful source of delicious, quick meals. Seattle, by contrast, has moved slowly to accommodate food trucks, and the ones that exist are meeting resistance from local restaurateurs.
That’s a shame, because food trucks and walk-up windows are the perfect solution for travelers with dogs looking for a quick bite. Happily, I have good news for you. Seattle’s current line-up of food trucks is varied and growing — I started out thinking that I’d visit every existing food truck and tell you a bit about each, but I’ve realized that the best I can do is tell you about several, and point you to new ones that have rolled out over the past few weeks. Please note that only some of these trucks take credit cards; be safe and make sure you have enough cash on hand.
Lunch trucks
Probably the best-known of the Seattle food trucks is Skillet   http://www.skilletstreetfood.com/ , actually a handful of customized Airstream trailers that serve outstanding gourmet burgers, an exotic alternative like this week’s banh mi, and poutine. One thing that makes their burgers so divine? Their “bacon jam,” which they’ll also sell to you in pots. Buy yourself a pot of bacon jam. Golly, it’s good. Skillet does not provide any place to sit down and eat, but typically parks its Airstreams near someplace pleasant, so you can find a seat within a couple of blocks.
Also well known is Tacos El Asadero  http://www.seattleweekly.com/locations/tacos-el-asadero-173980/  , a taco truck in a converted school bus parked more or less permanently in the Rainier Valley neighborhood. El Asadero serves delicious food, and they have a covered seating area, but it’s not an option for diners with dogs, since you need to board the bus to place your order.
A newer entry on the Seattle food truck scene is the Marination Mobile   http://www.marinationmobile.com/ , featuring a menu that combines “Korean heat and aloha love.” They offer several pork and chicken options, but also have vegetarian options (tacos, rice bowls, kalbi tofu). We are far from vegetarian, so we wrapped ourselves around their Aloho and Spam sliders (yes, Spam! and I don’t even like Spam!) and their quesadillas with kalua pork, kimchi and cheese. Like Skillet, the Marination Mobile does not provide any tables, but typically parks within walking distance of someplace where you can sit down and give your sliders the attention they deserve.
The most eye-catching food truck in Seattle has to be the Maximus/Minimus  http://www.maximus-minimus.com/   pig truck, owned by the same folks who make Beecher’s Handmade Cheese in Pike Place Market (which is, no surprise, the cheese that appears on the Maximus/Minimus sandwiches). Here’s how it works: They have a menu of options (sandwiches, slaw, dessert, drinks), all of which (except the dessert) can be ordered either “maximus” (i.e., hot and spicy) or “minimus” (sweet and tangy). You can also add a jolt of “hurt,” if you like. We ordered the pulled-pork sandwiches, both minimus (my husband feels that a splash of hurt would have been a good thing), minimus slaw (unusual, with fennel and cranberries, and very tasty), and both kinds of drinks (my maximus lemonade had a fine gingery bite; my husband’s minimus hibiscus nectar was sweet without being cloying). My husband ordered, and approved of, the Sugar High Pie, kind of like a chess pie but with an oaty crust and almonds on top. The truck provides a couple of tall tables to rest your food on while you stand and eat.
The following three trucks are not as well known, but deserve to be. We had outstanding — outstanding, I tell you! — meals at each one. Let’s start with the one that’s farthest away from downtown. Hallava Falafal  http://www.myspace.com/hallava   is located in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood, at the corner of S. Doris and Airport Way South, and dear heaven, it’s good. We tried the entire menu — one each of the falafel, the schwarma and the fries — and each was excellent. I liked the falafel better than the schwarma, but I will always like falafel better than schwarma. The French fries were the surprise hit — fries, covered in special spices, and accompanied by tahini and tzatziki? Um, yes. Absolutely. Two orders, please (in actuality, one order is big enough for two people). Choose Vimto as your beverage — it’s the classic Middle Eastern accompaniment for falafel, and it’s strangely perfect. A large umbrella shelters a couple of chairs that you can sit in while you wait, but you’ll likely end up eating in your car.
El Camion  http://elcamionseattle.com/El_Camion/Home.html   is located in SoDo, just south of Rejuve (there is a second El Camion on North Aurora). The food was tasty and the portions were generous — we had the gorditas carne asada and huevos con jamon (there was a bit too much jamon, if you can imagine that). A large tent contains four big tables, as well as a foosball table.
Kaosamai    http://www.kaosamai.com/mobile-lunch-cuisine serves Thai food from two trucks, one on the back side of Queen Anne, next to Seattle Pacific University, and the other in South Lake Union. When we visited, the South Lake Union truck was located on Eastlake Avenue, just across from Zymogenetics, but it appears to have moved since then to the Center for Wooden Boats. My husband’s family spent several years in Thailand and he demands a lot from Thai restaurants in the U.S.; he tells me that his Panang Curry Beef and Ba Mee Hang were just like the street food he enjoyed in Bangkok. Kaosamai does not provide any tables, but the location you’re most likely to visit — near the Center for Wooden Boats — is right on Lake Union and you’ll easily find a place to sit down.
The newest entrant on the scene is Where Ya At  http://www.whereyaatmatt.com/  , a “Creole soul food” truck that just started rolling last week. I tried to find it on the first day it served food (po boys, muffuletta, beignets), but failed to figure out where it was at. Believe me, I’ll keep trying.
Please note that until recently, there was a truck at 90th and Aurora that sold excellent Cuban sandwiches (RIP Paladar Cubano)  http://www.pedritovargas.com/paladarcubano.html  .
Dessert trucks
Until this week, I knew of only two dessert trucks, both offering ice cream. We found the Parfait    http://www.parfait-icecream.com/about.html truck in the Golden Gardens neighborhood, but it travels all over Seattle. My husband had the butter toffee crunch and I had the Meyer lemon, both in Parfait’s homemade cones. Both were excellent (please note that a “petite” is two scoops), with a homemade ice cream mouth-feel (very fresh-tasting, not particularly creamy).
Molly Moon’s truck (nicknamed “Leo”)   http://www.mollymoonicecream.com/truck  started rolling this summer, and we finally cornered it in the Madrona neighborhood. My husband had the Theo chocolate flavor (Theo Chocolate    http://www.theochocolate.com/ is located in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, so it couldn’t be more local) and my mother-in-law had salted caramel. Both flavors were delicious. Molly Moon’s uses a pasteurized base from a local dairy provider, resulting in a creamier product than Parfait’s.
I now know that there’s another dessert truck in town, called Street Treats  http://streettreatswa.com/  . We haven’t found it yet, but it’s on our list.
Walk-up stands
Another good option for people traveling with dogs are walk-up stands, and Seattle has several you should know about. The best coffee in Seattle — and that’s saying something — is served by Vivace    http://www.espressovivace.com/retail.html. They have cafés on Capitol Hill and in South Lake Union, but they also have a sidewalk bar on Broadway, in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. The day we visited was rainy, so Chloe and I took shelter under an umbrella while Walter, waiting in line, photographed another patron and her dog.
Ivar’s   http://www.ivars.com/  has been feeding Seattleites seafood since 1938. Their fish bar at Pier 54 (just in front of their Acres of Clams restaurant) would be an excellent stop for people visiting the waterfront. Consider the fish and chips, consider the excellent clam chowder, but also consider the crowds — we recommend picking up your dog before you insert yourself into the mob thronging the counter. You’ll also want to consult this article    http://www.ehow.com/how_2037327_order-ivars-seafood-bar-seattle.html for tips on how to order like a pro.
The shoppers among you will want to visit University Village   http://www.uvillage.com/info.htm , an attractive outdoor mall with a variety of big-name and local stores. Several of the businesses are pet-friendly, and it’s an appealing place to stroll. If you’re visiting with a canine companion, grab a 100% beef hot dog with all the fixings at Dante’s Inferno Dogs  http://dantesinfernodogs.com/ (you’ll find the cart next to the children’s play area), and then walk over to Tokyo Sweets (right next to Boom Noodle) for a dessert crêpe. You could make it an all-crêpe meal, since Tokyo Sweets also offers savory crêpes, but the dessert options are the most interesting.

Thanks so much Mary-Alice and Chloe!  Raja and I (well maybe “I”) can’t wait to get back to Seattle!

Poor Little Rich Dog

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Have you read the recent Wall Street Journal news feature about late Miami heiress Gail Posner (a daughter of the corporate takeover magician Victor Posner), her lucky (possibly scheming) servants, her criminal son (Brett Carr) and her poor little rich Chihuahua, Conchita?  Seems Gail Posner left her estate to her dog and his caretakers.  Her son is cut off.  Reading his history of smarmy crimes, it’s easy to see why he’s on the outs and Cochita is the favorite child.  

Given the fact that the thimble sized dog is now the owner of numerous vehicles, a mansion, various diamond ornaments and mini-wigs and is the mistress of all she surveys- including servants who have each inherited several million- we can imagine that she’s in a very precarious position.  “Toss the mutt and we’ll have it all,” says the Butler to the Upstairs Maid.  “You’ll look great in her tiaras because you also have a tiny little head.” 

Why do people do things like this?… well because nobody loves you as much as your dog, ever.  But seriously, why do people do things like this?  On the good side, there are few people this rich and this imbalanced in the world.  On the bad side, the wealth distribution solution is flawed.  Giving Conchita to a gentle, level headed person who values a pet and willing all the estate to charity would have made for happiness in all the right places.  As it is, a few charities benefit somewhat, the son is wasting the court’s time (he’s wasted enough already), and Conchita’s diminutive neck is safe only for as long as the trial lasts.  Poor Conchita! 

Aren’t you glad you’re relatively poor and relatively sane? 

Some updates: 

Rufus the Pekingese has not yet been recovered, so please keep an eye open if you are involved with rescue dogs from Florida.  Please comment in should you have any leads.  We’d love to see him get back home.

May thanks to Buttercup for sharing her story and inspiring readers to be proactive about canine heart health.  

Raja and I are off to have some adventures…….

Oh…. you can read the full story of Conchita here, but my version’s better:  

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703513604575311020555877854.html