Tag Archives: dog

She got the way to move me, Cherry

24 May

Remember how I posted 3 weeks ago that my parents’ dog, Cherry, didn’t like me?

Well, now we have a different problem. She likes me. A lot. And I like her a little too much too.

Before, she used to give a “does SHE have to come?” look on our family walks. Now she hesitates to walk unless I come too. It’s amazing how something finally clicked in her little head and she realized I was someone she could trust. I can understand why she was apprehensive at first — she got attached to her original owner and she dropped her off at a shelter, then she got attached to her foster mom and she dropped her off with my parents. But now my parents have had her for two months and I’ve been with her exactly one month, and she’s finally starting to feel like she has a real home with some stability. Which I’m afraid will only make it harder on her when I go back to London in a week. Will she still recognize me the next time I’m home? Will it take her over a week to acclimate to me being around again?

I say I’m afraid it will be hard on her when I go, but I also mean it’ll be hard on me. I told myself I wasn’t going to fall for her, which was easy when she didn’t care for me. After all, she’s not “my dog” in the same way that Squirt was. But she’s just so adorable, cuddly and friendly, I couldn’t help myself. I’ve fallen pretty hard for the little girl and her cute corgi butt. So for now I’m trying not to think about how much time we have left together and am just enjoying the time we have.

cherry dog.png

Just because it’s your namesake doesn’t mean you can have any!

braxton tap room dog.png

We took her to a local dog-friendly tap room. (Don’t worry, she’s drinking water!)

chihuahua corgi.png

Cherry went on a playdate with her birth mom who’s still recovering from surgery. Here she is imparting some motherly advice!

cherry and elle.png

They were both vying for my attention!

chihuahua corgi mix.png

Cherry loves being with us — even if that means climbing onto the kitchen table while we play Mexican Train Dominoes! I love her little back legs subtly lounging.

corgi chihuahua sploot.png

Fact: It is really hard to get work done when someone is splooting on you! (Splooting refers to the way she’s sitting with her back legs kicked out. It’s a classic corgi move, which makes me think she has some corgi blood in her. Squirt never splooted.)


Baby [doesn’t] love me, Cherry, Cherry

3 May

It’s hard to believe it’s been 2 1/2 year since Squirt crossed over the rainbow bridge. My parents were adamant about not getting another dog. The loss was too fresh and too strong to imagine ever going through it again. But there’s that ol’ phrase about time and wounds, and ever since they returned from Europe at the end of last year, they began to throw around the idea of opening their home once more to a furry friend.

Last month they were out shopping and noticed the new dog bakery next door to the Dollar Store was having an adoption event.

“Let’s just go in to look,” my dad suggested, seeming to forget that every time my mother goes out to “look” at furniture, clothes or electronics, she comes home with a new couch, dress or TV.

All the dogs available for adoption were large breeds, so my parents asked the adoption coordinator if they ever got any small dogs in — a chihuahua mix, perhaps. There was no harm in asking, right?

It turned out the rescue had just pulled a chihuahua mix from the shelter. Her name was Cherry.

cherry chihuahua

And — as you probably guessed — she’s now sitting right next to me.

OK, that’s a lie — not that my parents adopted her, but that she’s sitting near me. She’s sitting on the floor a few feet from me, because she refuses to jump on the couch with me. Because even though I’ve been home for over a week now and take her out for walks every afternoon, she’s terrified of me.

After my parents picked me up from the Megabus stop, I was eager to meet Cherry. I knew she wouldn’t greet me like Squirt used to (he’d get so excited he’d nearly wee himself!), but I expected a little curiosity and joy. After all, Cherry was described as the anti-Squirt. He was a barking, biting, little butthead Alpha Dog, while she’s sweet, affectionate, submissive and quiet. She didn’t bark the entire first month my parents had her. But she’s also a rescue, and rescue dogs often come with a little baggage. She was surrendered by an elderly woman to the local animal shelter, spent several weeks there before the rescue pulled her and placed her with a foster home, then finally made her way to my parents. My dad took timeĀ off from work the first few days to make her feel welcome, but she ended up imprinting on him like a baby duck. She followed him everywhere and took a month to get comfortable with my mom.

Which brings me to my relationship with Cherry. When I walked in the door that first day, she immediately bolted out of the room. She didn’t bark or snarl like Squirt would have, she simply wanted absolutely nothing to do with me. When I went with my parents on her walk, she constantly turned around, unhappy I was tagging along, and would sidestep or backup if I got too close to her. She wouldn’t accept a treat from my hand or sit on the couch with me. When I was out of sight, she was her normal, cuddly, happy self, but the minute I walked in, she would back up, run or avoid eye contact. She’d give my dad a “dear god, why is she still here?” look. Getting her just to stay in the same room as me was a milestone. Now that it’s been a week, she’ll walk with me alone on the lead well, but still won’t sit with me. This is the face she made when I tried to cuddle with her on the couch a few days ago.

cherry scared

It’s hard not to take it personally when a dog doesn’t like you. Part of me wants to just grab her, squeeze her, and scream “love me!” But maybe softly singing Bonnie Raitt/George Michael’sĀ “I Can’t Make You Love Me” would be more appropriate. At first I was chasing her around, making her feel even more uncomfortable, but now I’m just trying to coexist, giving her time to adjust to my presence. It could be worse — she could have a barking attack every time she sees me (like Squirt did with my friends), or be so enamored with me she falls into a deep depression when I suddenly vanish at the end of my visit.

…I am now typing one handed. Because the minute I typed “enamored with me,” a certain someone finally worked up the courage to jump onto the couch and sit next to me, and licks my hand the minute I stop petting her. It’s like she could read what I was writing, or I somehow willed it to come true by typing “she’s now sitting right next to me” above. Or I finally did it right — I gave her some time and she finally warmed up to me. Now hopefully we can have a wonderful month together and she won’t be too gutted when I leave. Or at least she remembers who I am tomorrow and we don’t have to go through this all over again…

Ode to Churchill the Corgi

8 Apr

As you may have noticed with posts like this, I really, really love corgis. But unfortunately my current living situation does not allow me to have a dog. While I enjoy scouting for them on runs through the park, the next best thing to having a dog is having a family member get a dog. Though it’s been over a year since we lost Squirt, my parents are still not ready for another dog. Late last year Stephen’s family’s chihuahua Xiao Bei crossed over the rainbow bridge, which gave Stephen and me a new mission: get his family a corgi.

We started by slyly sending them photos of my favorite Instagram corgis, like Super Corgi JOJO. Then we upped the cute factor with puppy photos. They were sold. His cousin began researching breeders and sent us photos of prospects. We vetoed a few before Stephen sent me this photo followed by “Yes?”

china corgi breeder

He was perfect. I couldn’t wait to meet him, even if he was halfway across the world. The day they brought him home I begged Stephen to ask them for more pictures.

corgi puppy eyes.png

His cuteness was addicting — I couldn’t get enough. I watched him play fetch over Facetime. I saved every photo of him Stephen’s family sent.

“What’s his name?” I asked Stephen.

“He doesn’t have one yet,” he replied. Then he said we could help name him. After he vetoed my Chinese translations of “little butthead” and “short legs,” he said we should pick an English name. We wanted a human name that was stately and English and easy to pronounce.

“Churchill,” I suggested, conjuring the great British statesman and first person to be made an honorary citizen of the United States… and also the adorable bulldog from the insurance commercials. (Source of this photo: an article stating that more British children can identify the Churchill Insurance dog than the wartime prime minister)

churchill dog

And just like that the little corgi had a name. Churchill. I watched Churchill eat his dinner over Facetime and promptly pass out in his bed. I treasured every sweet photo.

corgi puppy passed out.png

Stephen said even his uncle, who is not a dog person, was falling for Churchill. How could anyone not? I wanted so badly to go to China to visit Churchill in person. I knew the chances of me being able to cuddle him as a puppy were slim, but I looked forward to meeting him someday.

And then Stephen got off the phone with his cousin and dropped this bomb:

“Churchill’s dead.”

I thought it was an April Fools joke. Apparently so did his cousin, not realizing that April Fools’ Day has been banned in China.

Stephen’s family was so in love with Churchill that they took him on an adventure in the mountains. He likely ate something that was poisonous and died the next day.

I was heartbroken. We were all just getting to know Churchill. I never even got a chance to properly meet him, and now I never will. The little guy was supposed to have his whole life ahead of him. I always knew someday he’d cross the rainbow bridge and frolic with Squirt and Xiao Bei, I just didn’t expect it to be so soon.

corgi puppy toy

Goodnight, sweet prince.

Lumiere London: Or, Black Friday-style crowds outside in the cold looking at cool art

16 Jan

In an effort to mix things up and take advantage of this great city we live in, Stephen and I decided to go to Lumiere London. According to the official website, we would get to “experience installations from the world’s most exciting artists working with light” and “see the city transformed into an extraordinary nocturnal delight” — all for free! Cool, right?

Just look at this:

lumiere london oxford st


And this:

lumiere london building
Photos courtesy Time Out London


We had to see it! So we hopped on the Tube a little before the event started at 6:30pm. We figured it might be a little crowded, but many of the roads were closed so there’d be plenty of space… right? I downloaded the Lumiere map on my phone and we made a game plan: start at Oxford Circus, then work our way down Regent Street and Carnaby, cut through to Piccadilly, then head over to Trafalgar Square before going back to Chinatown to get some of our beloved roast duck as takeaway for dinner. We honestly thought we’d be able to just speed by each installation and pick up dinner, in the same way my brother and I once thought we could just pick up some other necessities while we just happened to be at Wal-Mart on Black Friday a few years back. Ha! Hahahaha!

Lumiere London is beautiful, I’ll give it that. But Lumiere London is also Black Friday Wal-Mart crowded, which takes away from its beauty a bit. Imagine Black Friday Wal-Mart crowds so thick you can barely push your way through to the next aisle, except those crowds begin at the Oxford Street Tube station and spill out into all of Oxford and Regents streets.

“I immediately regret this decision,” I told Stephen the moment we pushed our way out of the Tube exit, only to be met with hordes of people pointing their phones to the sky.

“I just want to get out of here safely,” he replied. We both innately like to avoid crowds, but in light of recent news events, crowded spaces have become even less desirable.

We moved in the amoeba-like crowd down Regent Street until we were able to break off onto a side street. As we made our way towards Piccadilly, we heard the elephant before we saw it.

lumiere elephant.jpg
Photo courtesy BBC

And then we were once again forced to join the amoeba as we hit a wall of tourists and slow as molasses passed by Piccadilly. Looking down it was quite a sight:

lumiere-london fish.jpg
Photo courtesy Harper’s Bazaar

But we didn’t dare face the crowds and go down the road further.

“I’m done,” Stephen declared.

“I just want to see the dogs,” I said, referring to the glowing wiener dog balloons just down the Strand. “We’ll see the dogs, then hop on the Charring Cross Tube and be done.” At this point getting the duck was out of the question. One can only take so much amoeba crowd traveling in a night, and there was no way we were going to fight against the amoeba to go in the opposite direction.

We passed a real live dog on the side of the street wearing a glowing collar.

“Can he count?” Stephen asked.

“We’re almost there, I just want to see the dogs,” I replied. As we neared the site of the wiener dog balloons I saw a crowd at least 20 people thick. If we did manage to get through, there would be no getting out.

I no longer needed to see the dogs. The real live dog was probably cooler anyway. This online photo would have to suffice.

lumiere london wiener dogs.jpg
Photos courtesy Time Out London

I didn’t take any photos of my own the entire time because I wanted to fully live in the moment and use my brain as a camera. …Actually, that’s a lie. I just didn’t want to be a contributing clog in the artery of Lumiere pedestrian traffic or get my phone stolen. That, and no photo I took would be as good as all the professionals’ I procured for this post.

Although a part of me does wish I had photographed the real live glowing collar dog.


Choking on the sweet taste of high fructose freedom

21 May

A weird thing is happening. The other day my friend asked me what American foods I miss when I’m in London and I struggled to think of something. My usual answers are sweet gherkin pickles, neon orange cheese, tater tots, Twizzlers and Good ‘N Plenties. But I’ve been back in the U.S. for almost a month now and I have not eaten a single tater tot dipped in neon orange cheese, and worse, never felt the need to. A couple days ago we went to Cici’s Pizza buffet for lunch and then I ate half a box of Good ‘N Plenties and half a bag of Twizzler Bites while at the movies and woke up in the middle of the night feeling sick.

“Your stomach isn’t American anymore!” my friend joked when I texted her. I laughed and made a freedom joke, but couldn’t help but wonder (a la Carrie Bradshaw) — was it true? Can my body no longer handle immense amounts of high fructose corn syrup and bacon ranch pizza? I stocked up on Quest and Pure Protein bars to bring back to London since they’re so much cheaper here, but that may be the only American food I bring back.

I’ve also noticed things taste different here — the butter, cottage cheese, Cadbury eggs. Shouldn’t it be the other way around — American is normal and British food is “weird”? Between my stomach issues, resistance to make small talk with neighbors and fellow grocery shoppers, and the fact that I understood that “cheeky Nandos” post that made the rounds on Tumblr and Buzzfeed, I fear I’m becoming more British than I ever thought. I almost feel like I need to go buy a gun at Walmart and take it to the shooting range that just opened up on Mall Road or they may take my U.S. citizenship away. (I’m kidding, if I die having never shot a gun I think I’ll be OK with that, even if it makes me less ‘Murican.)

You know what else I miss about London? Toilet paper. Yes, this is a real issue I’m choosing to blog about. I cannot find a brand of American toilet paper I like. They’re all either too flimsy or too cushiony. In the UK I like several generic brands as well as Andrex. Andrex is the sister company of Cottonelle — they both advertise with those adorable puppies. Yet Cottonelle here has these weird stupid “clean ripples.” I don’t want ripples, quilts, or flower designs, I want simple TP with the perfect balance of softness and strength. This, basically:

andrex toilet paperI may just have to throw some Andrex in my suitcase next to the Cadbury and tea on my next trip back.

And just in case you get the wrong idea, I am really enjoying my time in the US. If the only things I can complain about are toilet paper and ODing on candy, things are going pretty swell. I’ll close things out with a dog floating in space:

space dog

Kudos to Kaan Malkoc and Groupon UK

31 Mar

In school I was told time and time again that Wikipedia is not a reputable source.

“Anyone can edit it!” professors would insist.

I’ve used Wikipedia for years, and I still don’t know how to edit an article (though to be honest I’ve never really tried). I had also never noticed an article edited with incorrect information. Until last week.

The other day I happened to find myself on the One Direction Wikipedia page (Don’t ask, it was for work. Really.) Zayn Malik had just announced he was leaving the band, so I glanced over at the list of members.

one direction kaan malkocThat was fast, I thought — they already replaced him! …With Kaan Malkoc? I found it curious he didn’t have his own Wiki page, so I googled him. And almost nothing came up. Turns out he is not a world-renowned pop star, he’s some Turkish kid who’s a ninja at Wikipedia editing. Well done, Kaan Malkoc, you just proved all my professors right. However, Wikipedia did correct the edit, so maybe it’s not that unreliable.

one direction wikipediaIn unrelated news, I noticed a bizarre Groupon today. UK Groupons are often a little bizarre — I’ve seen ones for a decorative Lord or Lady title, as well as a 6-month supply of allergy pills (I totally just bought that one). But this one was something else:

groupon dog barkAnd then I realized what day tomorrow is and clicked on the link.

groupon april fools pug
Well done, Groupon, for kicking off April Fool’s Day early.

A Portrait of the Chihuahua as an Old Man

5 Dec

Sometime circa 1998 my brother and I started pestering my parents for a dog, as all kids tend to do at some point. We watched every dog show and special on Animal Planet and started brainstorming names.

“We are not getting a dog!” my mom said each time we asked. “You know I’m allergic!”

But that didn’t stop us. We laid subtle hints and I even went to the extent of convincing my dad to tell his coworker that I would dog-sit her Chihuahuas. So when a little (OK, big) 1-year-old black Chihuahua named Squirt was dropped off at the local animal hospital in need of a home, the receptionist (the wife of one of my dad’s coworkers) called his other coworker, who said she already had enough Chihuahuas, but she knew just the person — Bob’s daughter loves Chihuahuas!

So in late July 2000 I came home from my gymnastics class to find my mom on the phone with the animal hospital receptionist who was convincing her that a little Allerpet and plenty of baths would subdue her allergies.

“Don’t freak out, but we might be getting a dog!” my brother told me. Of course I freaked out.

Just hours later an SUV pulled into our driveway and out came a giant bag of dog food, a crate smaller than our guinea pig’s cage, and a timid 9.8-pound Chihuahua named Squirt.

“Does he bark? I want to hear him bark!” my brother said.

“Oh, he barks…” said his current owner.

And he hasn’t stopped barking 13 years later.

(Squirt would like me to pause here to clarify that this is not a eulogy, he is not dead yet, nor does he plan on kicking the bucket any time soon.)

He was there for me throughout high school and welcomed me back each time I came home from college, working life in Chicago and now London. Although I’m pretty sure he thinks I live at the airport now since he comes along to pick me up and drop me off. He battled obesity, tipping the scales at 18 pounds in 2007, but eventually swapped caloric dog treats for his new favorite treats — carrots, green beans and radishes. At 14 1/2 years old he’s definitely slowed down, rusted out and is going deaf, but he’s still a tough little squirt.

My Christmas present to myself arrived yesterday, a 35mm prime lens for my DLSR. I could think of no better subject to test it out with than my favorite crotchety old Chihuahua who wanted nothing more than for me to get the big black thing out of his face so he could go sleep in his crate.

old black chihuahua

(It turns out the shallow depth of field blurred background effect I favor is called bokeh, and prime lens capture it well.)

squirt profile

The poor old guy had most of his teeth pulled, so sometimes his tongue won’t stay in his mouth.

chihuahua tongue

chihuahua lick

squirt smile

chihuahua yawn

senior chihuahua

squirt portrait

Eventually he decided he had enough of this portrait session and retreated to his crate.

squirt crate

And since I know you’re curious, here is what 1-year-old Squirt looked like when we got him in 2000. He was so black, shiny and skinny!

baby squirt

(Excuse the photo quality, these are both photos of photos — that’s how old Squirt is, pre-digital age!)

chihuahua puppyI guess even then he had a hard time keeping his tongue in his mouth!

So here’s to you, old gray Chihuahua who used to be black — may you have many more years of radishes in your future and may you get your hearing back, but not so much that you can hear me preparing lunch and continue to bark until I’m done eating.