Is Your Dog Ball-Obsessed?
Here's a Helpful Tip!

A lot of older dogs that I have known have had worn down teeth, especially the tips of their upper and lower canines. We all know how important dental care is for general health, and if you've ever had a problem with a tooth, you likely know how sensitive teeth can be when the nerves are exposed!

I never really thought about why this might happen in domesticated dogs, until my friend Suzanne casually mentioned something one day. "Axel is obsessed with balls, so I only give him rubber ones. That way his teeth won't wear down." 

Axel is as ball-obsessed as a dog could be. He spends several hours a day vigorously chewing on a ball. Miles loves a good game of fetch, but would rather save his chewing energy for thick dry bullysticks or frozen raw bones. Between the two of them, both dogs do a LOT of vigorous chewing on tough objects. Yet, they both have perfect teeth. Miles and Axel may have different chewing preferences (obsessions), but, they do have one major thing in common: neither one has spent time any time chewing felt-covered tennis balls.

So, thank you Suzanne, for the clever and invaluable tip.

Dogs We Know

When we hopped off the plane on the night of Friday July 4th, instead of rushing home and crashing (which would have been appropriate given how tired we were from our cross country festivities), we hit the ground running and scrambled to run some errands, to unpack, and then pack some more! Why? Because we and our agility friends had a busy weekend planned! We were all doing a 2-day agility competition (the same outdoor one we did last year). Despite the fact the event is called "Fun in the Sun," the weekend was filled with torrential downpours. Thankfully it was warm out, and everyone did really well competitively, despite the weather, racking up the Qs! Miles and I hosted a on-site BBQ on the Saturday night. The attendees all had so much fun that we stayed until quite late. You know it is a good party when people that have been there since 7am (and are coming back the next day at 7am) stay several hours after the event, and well into the evening! Below are a snapshots I took of some of our closest classmates and friends over the weekend:

{ Mia is going to be in a documentary about agility Pit Bulls!  }

This post is dedicated to Kohl, Miles and my agility instructor's 8 year old rescue Belgian Shepherd. Nicole and Kohl joined us all at the Saturday night BBQ. Kohl sat beside me as I grilled burgers, quietly and politely observing. Kohl is in all of our BBQ photos, a relaxed black wolf-like shadow. Its funny when you look back at those sorts of candid personal photos... Realizing that they are the last you have of a loved one. It is funny how an otherwise unspectacular snapshot can suddenly can make your eyes water and your chest tighten. Kohl suddenly and sadly passed away last Monday. He will be greatly missed by all of the dogs and the people that we know.

The Party of all Parties

A few weeks ago Miles and I flew to the East Coast of Canada for a very special celebration. My mother's mum, my Nana, turned 90 years old! Friends and family from all over came to celebrate! The party was held in the town my Nana lives in, Windsor Ontario (right across from Detroit). The party went on for days!

Miles and I arrived a week early to help with party preparations. Nana and Miles had lots of fun together greeting friends and family as they began to trickle in!

My uncle drove up in style in a rented Charger. He mistakenly called it "The Cougar" and that made me laugh so much that the name stuck. What a beast!

The afternoon before the party, we all talked to my sister in Scotland on FaceTime. It felt really funny carrying my sister's face around! It was really special that she could be part of the festivities from so far away. Her voice caused a lot of curious head-tilting from Miles -- who stuck close to whoever had the iPad.

Once my Nana's close family had all arrived, we feasted on a deluxe Costo dinner the night before the big day.

And then we shared stories on the front porch.

Miles was the first to fall asleep on the eve of the big day.

The next day, my mom, dad, cousins, aunt, Nana and uncles arrived early at the party venue to set up. The party was held at a beautiful Nature Center that my Nana chose.

The party room had great views of the Nature Reserve. The black lines on the windows prevent the big variety of native birds from hurting themselves on the glass.

My cousins, my parents, and my aunt and uncles got to work right away setting up the party room, while the guest of honor observed.

The staff at the Nature Center were very nice and allowed Miles to join us in both the set up, and the party. Miles got to be loose until the food arrived. (Although he still managed to discreetly consume about five sandwiches somehow throughout the course of the festivities)

My dad and my uncles rented instruments and a sound system so that anyone who wanted to play music could play at the party.

Since my big job was the cake, which being a homemade ice-cream cake couldn't be set up until directly before unveiling time, I had some free time in the morning to wander the Nature Center with Miles. The displays were wonderful, although Miles was a tad disturbed by the taxidermy fox.

We moved on to prettier things like butterflies and birds.

My dad and I got a kick out of comparing Miles' canines to those of the predator skulls on display (the one on the left is a Black bear skull, and the one on the right is a Coyote skull).

Miles wanted to eat the live snakes they had on display. Especially the Eastern Fox Snake.

Soon enough the setup was complete, and I had a little time for a few family pictures. Above is my mum, my uncles, and my Nana. My mom handmade the linen dress my Nana wore to the party, and my sister handmade the delicate lace necklace that my Nana wore.

I made customized t-shirts available to anyone who wanted to order them ahead of time with the party logo on it, which I designed and hand drew. I love how they look on my aunt, cousins and uncle! I ordered ones for my other uncle and my dad that had "SECURITY" printed on the back for fun.

The beginning of any big party is so strange... One minute, you are setting up, and it seems so quiet. The next, bam, the floodgates of smiling faces bursts open! And sure enough, soon the guests poured in! The large room was instantly packed. This is my mum's best friend Didi. Didi and my mom grew up across the street from each other and have been friends ever since. Didi is family.

Miles was very well-behaved at the party. Of course he reserved the right to smother anyone who gave him invitation to do so, which included my mom's cousin (above) and another cousin's husband  (below), whose family recently lost their beloved Airedale.

The food was plentiful and amazing. The coconut shrimp started an internet recipe search frenzy over the following days among guests. A few of us at the party were long-term celiacs, and to our surprise, the caterers brought gluten-free sandwiches and pasta for us.

We needed something to keep the drinks cold in, so the day before, I bought this inflatable boat. We filled it with drinks, ice and water. I thought it was quite the centrepiece. I did however get outvoted about my idea to have it situated in the middle of the room.

Lots of friends and family played music at the event. My mom's cousin is quite the singer.

My ice-cream cakes were a huge hit. Somehow I managed to construct them on the site, without any tools to spread the icing, and without the ice-cream melting! I served them with hand piped chocolate trees surrounding the vanilla frosted outside (to look like a forest in the winter). Can you tell by now that my Nana is passionate about nature? I love the above picture of the cakes and my beautiful cousin Celia, and the below picture of my mom's cousin's husband David with his slice of cake.

My Nana's best friend Joanne has a special fondness for Miles, because she and her husband used to have a Welsh terrier named TJ. Joanne's stories of TJ sound so familiar...

Joanne and Sharon (my Nana's best friends) both wore their party shirts with pride.

My Nana and my cousins' Nana shared a special moment, which in turn made for quite the cute picture.

When the party was over, my family packed up everything and moved it all back to my Nana's house.

The heat was sweltering, so Didi offered to carry Miles to the car.

It didn't take long once the first load of us got back to my Nana's house for the party to re-propogate!

Soon every part of the house, including the front and back yards, were filled with people.

Watching and listening to my various family members relaxedly jam together and cut loose was my favourite part of the after party.

The backyard was pretty hopping too.

Look at those beautiful ladies. My mom's cousins.

How did my uncle find "90" balloons?

Miles enjoyed the music inside for a while, and then joined the outdoor gang. Since he can't talk, he made sure to bring his treasured squeaky ball as an entertainment offering.

Later that night, as the party guests began to dissipate off to their hotels or corners of the house for bed, Miles began napping wherever the clusters of people hugging goodbye were.

Finall,y we made it to our spot in the basement, and before I had even brushed my teeth, Miles crashed (hard!) in the spare bed beside mine.

The next day my Nana, dad, Didi and uncles shared a legendary Franco's pizza for brunch before one of my uncles had to hit the road back to the airport.

While the people feasted on pizza, Miles watched the neighbour's dogs swimming from the window.

In the days after the party, those of us that were left did a LOT of lounging and napping. Nana and Miles particularly.

Miles was thankful of my Nana's hospitality, and after a few days, settled into his new go-to napping/sunning/observatory spot. This window has the perfect view of the neighbour's backyard, and of my Nana's driveway. Miles sleeping up there provided us all with endless amusement. He looks somewhat cat-like up there!

In the evenings, Miles and I sat on the front porch with Nana, and we occasionally ran into the front yard to chase fireflies. I can't get enough of fireflies when I am on the East Coast. Miles was pretty taken with them too.

Miles and I both heartily agree that time spent with Nana is the best.

My Nana's 90th birthday party was such a huge success. A few days afterwards, she pulled me aside to thank me for bringing Miles. "I am so thankful that you brought Miles with you. Miles really added to the party." A wonderful time was had by all.

Happy Ninetieth Nana.

{below: random M&E moments from the party:}