We’re Moving! AGAIN!

It’s finally happened. The Pie and I have joined the impoverished proud ranks of people who are horribly in debt forever first-time homeowners. And we couldn’t be more terrified happier.

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We close on the 14th of January, so we’re on a tight timeline to pack up the Tower and get ourselves over to the new place. So in the meantime, please excuse the mess you see in the background at Ali Does It, and possibly more cheater posts than normal in the next few weeks. I promise you that we will be back to regularly scheduled programming – and more! – by the end of January. We bought a house that is almost 60 years old and came with a good many of its own quirks – which we will, in true Ali Does It style, make our own.  And we will make sure to fill you in on all the craziness while we’re at it. Crazy corgi included, of course.

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Plus the house has way more space for making stuff and doing things (it. has. a. WORKSHOP. and. COLD STORAGE. I am so excited), a bigger, brighter kitchen, more light in general, and NO MORE BLUE CARPET. So things are only going to get better from here on out, on the blog and otherwise. Stay tuned!

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Introducing our New Little Ball of Chaos to our Older Bigger Ball of Chaos

Indy's First Weekend
You may have seen this on my instagram feed.

Some big news: last weekend the Pie and I went on a little drive and came back with THIS furry friend. His name is Indiana Jones (named after my idol) and he’s 8 weeks old – well, almost 9 by the time you read this.

Indy's First Weekend

We got him as a companion to Gren, who can be rather jealous of the attention that I give to other small animals and babies. So the plan was to get him a friend to keep him distracted and to divert the amount of spoiling he gets so that we can start thinking about maybe having kids without dealing with the angst of a 40lb furbaby.

Indy's First Weekend

But that’s a way in the distance. This baby corgi is enough to deal with at the moment and needs some training. And he needs to establish a relationship with Gren. I did a lot of research before bringing Indy into the house and I will present here a few tips and tricks I learned from doing my research and from trying it out on the two fiends, interspersed with pretty puppy pictures. Make sure to do your own research when getting a puppy, including whether a puppy is even really suited to your home life and activities.

Indy's First Weekend

Plan it out: you’re going to need to set up some things when Puppy comes home, and one of those things is going to need to be some kind of crate or pen for Puppy to go into when Dog has had enough of its shenanigans and you don’t want Dog to EAT Puppy.

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Puppy penitentiary. The rug has a rubber backing to prevent accidents from seeping through to the carpet. So far Indy has been mostly accident-free.

And if you have a super neurotic dog who is really into his routine like I do, you are going to want to set up the pen a little in advance, just so he can get used to it being there. I moved things around in increments for a few weeks leading up to Indy’s arrival so Gren wouldn’t freak out about too much change at once. One day I set up the pen, and another I rearranged the kitchen to allow for a second set of doggie dishes.

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You also want Dog to sleep on a couple blankets in advance, to get the puppy familiar with his scent. This is a good thing to bring with you when you pick Puppy up so he’ll have advance notice of what he’s getting himself into. Not a bad thing to chuck into Puppy’s bed, either.

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Gren obliged when asked to shed his dog hair all over a blanket for Indy.

When you go to pick up Puppy, leave Dog at home. You have enough to deal with. Take Dog for a really really good walk before you leave so he’s nice and calm and tuckered out for when you come back.

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Something is definitely up.

Meet and greet: the first introduction between Puppy and Dog is very important because you need to let them establish their own hierarchy without any issues. You may think that Dog will be the boss because he’s oldest and has been there the longest but that might not be the case. And it’s not up to you to figure that out – this is the job of Dog and Puppy to figure it out on their own. Your job is to make it as easy as possible.

When you arrive home with Puppy, don’t go inside. Put Puppy on a leash (even if he’s not really all that leash-trained at the moment) and take him down the block or to the park. Have a friend or family member get Dog, put him on a leash, and meet you at the park. This is neutral territory.

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Gren is highly suspicious.

DO NOT. Just DON’T introduce Puppy to dog by holding Puppy and bringing him close to Dog. This puts Puppy on a different physical level than Dog and can make them both very uncomfortable as Puppy will feel vulnerable not being in control of getting away if necessary and Dog will feel that you have elevated Puppy to a different status.

Make sure both Puppy and Dog are firmly on the ground when they meet for the first time. Keep hold of both their leashes so you can pull them apart if necessary, but don’t pick Puppy up if you can at all avoid it.

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The sheer size difference between the two means we have to be extra careful.

Now that they’ve had a chance to sniff, take them for a walk. It doesn’t have to be a long one (Puppy will likely not have the stamina of Dog nor the leash training). This will just give them a chance to get used to each other still on neutral territory but also in doing a normal daily activity.

Bringing home baby: when it’s time to come home, make sure that Dog gets to go through the door first, before Puppy. This reinforces to Dog that you are aware of his place in the household and you are not replacing him with Puppy.

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In the house, you can take Dog off the leash and let him go and do whatever it is that he wants to. Chances are he’s going to follow you around because Puppy is a new thing. Keep Puppy on the leash and slowly walk Puppy from room to room, letting him sniff around a bit but not letting him go everywhere. Keeping him on the leash establishes boundaries for Puppy, so that he knows that this is your house, not his, and that he can’t just go anywhere he wants and pee on anything he wants.

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As you can see from his nose, Gren was never far behind in this tour.

Still on leash, walk Puppy to his water bowl (for the first bit, keep food and water bowls separate between Dog and Puppy to avoid fights), and show him places that he can pee (like the backyard or puppy pee pads).  Show him the place where he will be sleeping and introduce him to his toys.

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Once you’ve done the tour, you can take Puppy off leash and see what he will do in the territory that you have allowed.

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Keep an eye on Dog to make sure he’s not getting too stressed out by Puppy. If he starts panting and his eyes go wide he’s getting anxious. If he starts growling and showing his teeth to Puppy you should put Puppy away in his place for now.

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Because Gren doesn’t have a tail and his ears always stick up, you have to be really good at reading his facial expressions. He pretty much never smiles, and usually only does so when he’s stressed out. So this is a stressed face for him.

A little bit of tension is expected and allowed if Dog is to establish a relationship with Puppy, but you don’t want full-scale hostility that could damage either animal in the long term. You know your Dog enough to know when he’s had enough and you need to respect his boundaries in that way by putting Puppy away for a while until they’re both calm again.

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Another stressed face. He got upset when Indy cried from his pen.

In the days to come: don’t under any circumstances leave Dog and Puppy alone together for several weeks, until their relationship is firmly established. If you aren’t there to break up potential fights then who knows what might happen? Keep Puppy in a separate area from Dog when you are not around to supervise.

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Dogs in motion are hard to capture in photography.

Show some respectremember that Dog was there first and until Puppy arrived he thought he was the only one in the world for you. When this fuzzy interloper comes around and everyone falls all over themselves to smoosh him, Dog can feel jealous, and like he’s being replaced. This can result in tension and aggression towards Puppy. So until they sort their stuff out, make sure to give Dog preference in all things. If you’re petting Puppy and Dog comes up and pushes Puppy out of the way so he can get petted, listen to Dog.

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Give him the attention he needs to show him that you haven’t forsaken him. Keep letting him eat first, go through doors first, whatever needs to be done, until the two of them figure out who goes where in the family hierarchy.

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We’ve got an uneasy truce after the first few days. Gren is constantly checking to see where Indy is, and he gets worried when Indy cries. But he also doesn’t like it when we pick Indy up to bring him up and down our stairs (small corgis are not allowed to jump until they get a bit bigger), and after 7PM he turns into a grumpy old man who wants nothing to do with the pup he was playing with just a moment before and will snap at him if he gets too close.

Indy's First Weekend

It’s a work in progress, but progress is being made!

Indy's First Weekend
Most expensive foot warmers ever.

 

Happy Hallowe’en! Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

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Cheerio, all!  My costume this year is Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.  I found this blue Shetland wool suit in a second-hand store last winter, bought the vintage hat from Vintage Me & Mom on Etsy, and, well, I already have the matching corgi!

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So I will be sweltering in this itchy and unflattering getup (the suit is super bulky) all day at the office, but it’s worth it because it means I get to enjoy the office Hallowe’en lunch!

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Did you say LUNCH?

Until then, we’ve been snacking on roasted pumpkin seeds leftover from our pumpkin-off the other day.

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The first thing you need to do is separate the stringy orange stuff from the seeds themselves. You can leave it on, and it will add to the flavour, but it tends to burn. The easiest way to do this is to put them in a strainer and run water over them.  Or fill the bowl they’re in with water and filter them out with your fingers. Then dump the seeds into a towel and dry them off.

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Preheat your oven to 350°F and haul out a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan. In a large bowl, toss your pumpkin seeds with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Then add whatever spices or herbs or what have you that you’d like. I went with a sprinkle of sea salt, some freshly ground black pepper, and some grated parmesan I had left over in the fridge. Make sure all those lovely ingredients get all over everything.

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Spread them out on your baking sheet so they’re in a single layer and roast for about 30 minutes. I made sure to stir them around about every 10 minutes.

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If you find them a little oily when they come out of the oven, dump them on some paper towels to absorb some of the butter before serving.

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Here they are, fresh from the oven and ready for snacking!

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I challenge you to a pumpkin-off!

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Or, to be more precise, I challenged the Pie to a pumpkin-off.  You see, we don’t really get trick-or-treaters on our street.  Like, at all.  So we long ago gave up on decorating for Hallowe’en.  But carving pumpkins is just so much fun.  I used to get really elaborate with mine as a kid, using those tiny knives to get tiny details and scraping away layers of pumpkin to create a translucent layer of orange pulp.  The Pie, on the other hand, says that traditionally he had two pumpkin styles: one with two pointy teeth, and one with one snaggle-tooth.  And in eight years together we have only carved pumpkins together once.  So why not do so now?  We won’t have anyone to show them to, as we don’t get trick-or-treaters here on Elizabeth, but at least we’ll get to enjoy them.

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Some tips for happy carving:

Give your pumpkin a good scrub to loosen dirt and other unmentionables (they come from farms, people), especially if you’re planning to eat the contents.

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Cut your “lid” just slightly larger than your fist, and cut the sides at an angle so it stays in place.

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Incorrect angle. Don’t worry, he fixed it on the next stab.
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The correct angle.

Scrape the inside flesh as thin as possible, leaving maybe 1/2″ behind.  This means that you get to keep most of the flesh for cooking without having it left out to spoil.  It also makes it easier to do more detailed carving.  And to add to that, if you’re going to go for the translucent look, where the light shines through the pumpkin flesh, it’s a good starting point for thinning the flesh to where you want it. I find a metal spoon works really well for good scrape-age.

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We had three separate bowls going while we were carving, to save us time later on. One was for the pumpkin seeds, another for usable/eatable flesh, and the third for scraps and bits of skin we couldn’t eat. Gren thought all of them were for his personal consumption and was quite put out when we wouldn’t let him have more than a few pieces to himself. I guess after a puppyhood of digestive issues where we gave him pumpkin on a regular basis, he’s developed a taste for it.

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Also, it’s a good idea to go into pumpkin carving with a plan. The Pie and I took two different routes: he went with a stencil of Spider-Man, and I free-handed an approximation of Grenadier. So he was going to scoop out all the black stuff on his, and on mine, the black stuff is untouched pumpkin skin, the gray is scooped out but not cut pumpkin flesh, and the white is entirely cut out pumpkin.

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The Pie taped his design to his pumpkin, making sure to cut darts in the sides so it would fit on the curve.

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Then he set to work with a wee punch, poking holes around the edges of his design to use as a guide for cutting later on.

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Then he started peeling off the skin of his design with a sharp knife. You’ll note he kept a copy of his stencil by his side so he could remember which parts he was supposed to cut and which parts were negative space.

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I drew my design directly onto my pumpkin skin with a pencil. It doesn’t leave a huge mark, which is good if you decide to change your mind later on. Which I did.

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Then I started peeling and cutting, according to my plan, which I kept at my side.

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Can’t say the finished product looks much like the subject, though.

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When we got to a certain stage we started testing the translucence of our pumpkin with LED tea lights stuffed inside. It’s a simple matter to scrape away more of the flesh from the inside and out. I went with a bit of texture on mine to emphasize the fuzziness of my hound. It does show up when you look at the lit pumpkin up close.

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So here’s my finished pumpkin, from the ears angle:

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And from the tongue angle:

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And the Pie’s, from one angle:

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And a bit closer:

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I made Gren pose with the finished version of him. He was not amused.

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And who won the pumpkin-off? Well, Gren seemed to like mine best, as he kept licking it. So I’m going to take that as a vote for my side.

Pumpkin-Off 2012

Plus we definitely plan to have some posts in the days following Hallowe’en about the things you can do with your carved pumpkin.  Stay tuned!

Corgi Fun Time

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I don’t have a DIY post for you today.  But I think that corgis make every Friday a bit better.

Traveler has been a friend of ours for over a decade.  He went to high school with the Pie, and then I met him when I met Stef back in our first year of university in 2001.  And he’s probably wanted a dog since then.  But with school and work and his jet-setting lifestyle, having a pet wasn’t feasible.  Until now.

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Recently, Traveler began his search for a pet in earnest.  He was looking for an adult dog, so he could skip the puppy stage that would require him to be a helicopter parent.  And, having met Grenadier and fallen in love with him (because no one is immune to Gren’s charm — NO ONE), he wanted a corgi.  I put him in touch with the man who bred Gren, thinking that he might know a retired breeding bitch in need of a home.

It was serendipity, really.  The breeder wrote back that the one girl from Gren’s litter, Bahkita, was available.

The pups at 6 weeks. Bahkita is on the left, Gren is the big lug next to her. Photo by Ben Lobo.

Every dog in that litter had come out with huge ears (you’ve seen Gren’s, right?), and Bahkita’s were a little on the floppy side, so he couldn’t in good conscience breed her knowing her pups might not conform to the champion standard.  And as much as he would have liked to keep her, city by-laws prevented him from having more than three dogs at any given time, so she needed a home.

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Gren’s ears at six months.

On the Friday night after I arrived in Ottawa last week, Traveler and I (and Gren) drove out to the breeder’s house for a meet and greet.  In-residence were Patty (Gren and Bahkita’s sire), Bahkita (Gren’s sister), and a three-month-old puppy.  Add Gren to the mix and there was a party in the making.  I apologize in advance for the blurriness of these photos.  It’s hard to take decent shots of animals who will not sit still.

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Ganging up on Gren.

It was shocking to see how large Gren had turned out.  We had always known he’d be big for a corgi, and at his last weigh-in at the vet’s he clocked in at 34.4lb, which is at the extreme high end of the corgi weight scale.  I had thought that Patty, his dad, would be the same size but I was so very wrong.

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This is Patty. He likes to climb people to get kisses.

All the other dogs present were pretty much half his size, with shorter coats and narrower shoulders.  Patty, whom I’d always thought was big, weighs about 26lb.  Bahkita weighs about 22lb.  These are normal ranges for Pembroke corgis.  Turns out I just have a gigantor corgi on my hands.

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Don’t be fooled by the puppy on the ground. She was in control the whole time.

Despite being the biggest in the bunch, Gren’s natural submissiveness meant that he was dominated at every turn, even by the puppy.  It was pretty cute to see him getting beaten up time and time again.  He needs a blow to his ego every once in a while, the spoiled jerk.

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More ganging up on Gren.

After playing like mad with three other dogs for an hour and a half, Gren came home and promptly fell asleep on my brother’s feet.

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And outright refused to get out of bed the next day.

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Traveler ended up taking Bahkita home on Saturday morning, and on Sunday night, after she’d had a chance to settle in and get to know her new family, Traveler brought her over for a short playtime with her big brother.  My pictures here are a little better, because they were both tired and therefore slower.

Bahkita and Friends

Bahkita and Friends
Already very attached to her new dad.

Bahkita and Friends

We look forward to having many more play dates like this in the future.  Stay tuned for Christmas when we will be featuring Corgis in the Snow!

Newest Member

My Valentine to you is puppy love ♥.

I’d like to introduce you to someone.  The chick with the Justin Beiber haircut?  No, no, that’s just me.  You know me.  I want to introduce you to the little guy on the right.  That’s our future puppy, Grenadier St. James.

At the time of this post little Gren is only 6 weeks old and not quite ready to leave his mum, but he’s already cemented himself into our hearts.  Cait’s heart too.  The Pie is jealous that he doesn’t get to meet him until April, but what can you do …So anyway, in about two weeks a small furry sausage of a corgi will be running around wreaking havoc in our household and I’m sure will be the inspiration for many a blog post to come.Stay tuned.  Chaos will reign.