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January 2016

Year of the Üter

  Utey

We adopted this guy a year ago, on Super Bowl Sunday. I remember because we didn't watch the game but we did make chili, and he just sat and watched us with his big, heartbreaking brown eyes.

Things were a little rocky at first, and sometimes still are. Willa, it turns out, probably should have been an only dog. But she has gradually accepted her lot, and the house is mostly peaceful, if occasionally snappish.

Snoozin

Üter is pretty chill--most of the time. When he gets wound up, it's hard to shut him down, and he can look and sound pretty threatening. (BORK! BORK! BORK!) He's still learning to walk nicely on a leash and to greet friends when they come over. I don't know if he'll ever be cool with bigger dogs, which is a bummer since one of my favorite things is inviting people to bring their dogs over to tear up our backyard together.

Still, through a mix of training and management, we've been able to give them both a life full of exercise, fun, and sociability. I feel pretty good about that. Sometimes we get a little lazy and fall short, but they're dogs. They forgive us. 

Car pal

If you know you like dogs but are on the fence about getting one because you're afraid it's going to be disruptive or a lot of work--just go for it. I mean, if you work 90 hours a week or are about to go on a six-week trip to Europe then it's probably not the time. But if you want it and you're able to, do yourself a favor and get a dog. It's so worth it; the work, the expense, all of it. They will make you happy every single day, and you will make them happy too, and there are not a lot of things in life that pay off so handsomely.  

And now...we celebrate!


Degrees of dogging

The other day I was walking home from the track when a man and his little dog approached. The dog wasn't on a leash but was sticking to the man like glue. The dog was on the man's left and so would have passed next to me, except the man said "switch" a few feet before we passed. The dog looped over to the man's right and continued to trot along, face upturned, awaiting further transmissions. After they passed me, he said "switch" again, and the dog resumed his spot at the man's left side, wagging all the while. 

I actually said, "damn," out loud because it was that cool, and also because I was amused. The day previous I had nearly burst with pride--I'm talking high kicks, effusive praise, exuberant Instagram post--because I had dragged Üter through a park full of dogs and he never once had his usual full-bore hellhound freakout at the sight of one, just a little whimpering and a few easily quelled woofs. We've been working on that for a long time, and it seems like maybe he is finally, finally getting the idea.

I'll never have a dog as obedient as Mr. Switchy's, which is very sad, but I'll take my training success where I can find it.


Redbud buddy

I was puttering around the front yard this afternoon when I noticed the profusion of seed pods hanging from the leafless redbud tree. I'd had moderate luck in getting mountain laurel* seeds to grow and stunning success in planting the red yucca**, *** seeds my coworker Sarah gave me. So hell, let's plant some redbuds!

According the the Wildflower Center, you can conduct a test to see which seeds are capable of sprouting.

As in a witch trial, the ones that sink are good and the ones that float are bad.

IMG_7945

"And this isn't my nose; it's a false one!"

Unlike in witch trials, the good ones were then carefully pulled out of the water and roughed up with a piece of sandpaper.

I have them in the freezer now and will wallop them with boiling water and a long soak before I go to bed.

I really hope these sprout. I want to plant a bunch of these so I can have pretty little redbud trees all over the yard, and I want to give some away, and I just might plant some more on a neglected strip of dirt here and there.

420045023_ef6d94acb9_z

Photo by Marcia Cirillo, Creative Commons

They are great little trees for Austin--drought tolerant and attractive. They like a range of light conditions, and of course their hazy pink blooms light up the city for about two weeks every spring. The blooms and the immature seed pods are edible too, although I haven't tried that beyond popping an exploratory flower into my mouth last spring. I don't remember it tasting like much, maybe a little fruity and a little perfume-y.

*AKA the grape Kool-Aid tree, for its fragrant spring blossoms that just smell...purple.

**Not really a yucca, I just learned.

***I should really give the Wildflower Center some scratch one of these days. Their plant database is indispensable.