Category Archives: pets

Pets on Parade

Olympia has some really special traditions. We don’t take part in all of them, but I like having the option. This past weekend marked the 81st Annual Pet Parade through downtown Olympia. For those of you who do math, that means they were holding pet parades in Olympia during WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and the (first) Gulf War. I wonder if the pets wore costumes during the Great Depression? What did the dogs wear during the 1960s, before they could dress like hippies?

Levi & I were waiting in line for a table at our favorite breakfast joint, so we accidentally saw the entire parade. This parade is entirely unlike big mainstream parades. While the local credit union & radio station do sponsor the parade, you would never know it. There are not sponsoring floats from banks, beer companies and radio stations. There are no giant vinyl banners featuring company names. There are no free samples handed out along the parade route, and the ground is not littered with postcard advertisements. The parade is just a bunch of kids, some parents, and a lot of animals. Altogether, there are hundreds of them, stumbling, toddling, wagging, marching and wandering through downtown streets like they accidentally converged at the same place at the same time and happened to all be wearing costumes. If it were not for the police vehicles escorting the parade, it would have seemed just like my best vision of total anarchy. “Whose streets?” “Dogs in dresses!” and “Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Being cute is the way to go!” and “What do we want? Treats! When do we want them? NOW!” or “Gay, Straight, Black, White, Dress Up Your Pets & Do it Right!”

Ahem. Anyway. Let’s move onto the photos.

I really like the people who dress their kids and pets in corresponding costumes.

I also like the “livestock as pets.” We have to figure out a way to get composting worms or a beehive in this parade.

People in Olympia really love their pet chickens. Chickens in a castle on wheels:

A goat wearing a shirt:

There were some beautiful pups in dresses and skirts, too. This dog looks really familiar, but I can’t quite put my finger on where I’ve seen her before….

Levi was concerned about this tutu. He said, “That is not how you’re supposed to wear a tutu!” But I’m pretty sure that German Shepherds wearing tutus get a free pass on proper tutu etiquette. They can wear it like a necklace if they want to because, seriously, it’s a german shepherd in a tutu, you guys.

This little dog really wanted to be at the front of the parade. The pup was very offended to be somewhere around the middle of the line, and tried to drag its person forward. Unfortunately (for the dog), she was too small to get very far. I’ve been dragged around by a tiny dog often enough that I sympathized with the person — Clementine would act just like this if we walked her in the parade.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get any photos of the disgruntled cats being pushed in baby strollers or glaring from pet crates on top of floats. We also saw a really funny aquarium with a small rodent running on a wheel on a float. It was impossible to photograph, but please use your imagination. I heard that a guinea pig escaped at one point, but was rescued by a Great Dane.

Next year, if you happen to be around Olympia in August, check out the 82nd pet parade. There’s something deliriously wonderful about so many people building floats and costumes for their animals, and then marching them around downtown. Officials estimate that 500-700 kids take part in the parade with several hundred pets. Next year, we might even plan and go intentionally.


Filed under pets, summer

Seed Starting

This weekend we started the seeds for our 6-8 week before-last-frost (BLF) crowd. This includes things like kale, artichokes, brussels sprouts, tomatoes, peppers, borage, and other things. In 2-3 weeks, we’ll start a few flats of seeds that need to start closer to the last frost date, and maybe some extras of the 6-8 wks BLF crowd, so we have a staggered harvest.

(Three kinds of kale)

It occurred to me that I never wrote about what we’re planting this year. My plan and hope is to spend this week discussing some of the stuff we’re growing this year, assuming that plant biology, the weather, the wildlife, and the universe don’t conspire against us. I feel like we’re doing our part to grow this stuff – sunny windowsill, coconut coir seedling pots, quality organic potting soil, supplemental fluorescent lighting on a timer. I know we need a cat-deterrent system, but since nothing has sprouted yet, there’s not a lot of urgency.

Related to the dogs and the microclimates of the yard — the best places to start seedlings (sunny windowsills) also tend to be the best places for cat naps. Unfortunately for our seedlings, our warmest, sunniest windowsill faces the bird feeder. I may fly into a fit of rage if I find cat hair on my crushed seedlings, and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right?

Let me go on record here and say that cats have no respect for vegetables and actual disdain for humans who garden. Elsa actually likes to chew on plants. You should see the mangled leaves of my blueberry bush. Look at the force of destruction:


Filed under food, garden, pets, urban farming

Are we there yet?

Less than two weeks until spring (technically) arrives! Temperatures might dip down to freezing nearly every night, but the hyacinth blooms are keeping the dream alive. I didn’t plant them, but I’m appreciating them.

I feel like this:


In all honesty, we need about another month to get some major work done, but I’d like to hit fast forward & have the extra daylight now.

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Filed under pets, spring

Putting the pups to work

Your garden might seem like it’s all the same climate, and the USDA Hardiness Map doesn’t give any insight on this matter, but there are a lot of factors that affect how a plant will do in a particular spot. Proximity/distance to buildings, foundations, pavement, slopes, types of soil, larger plants (esp trees), fences, and so on can all affect the microclimates of your yard. Some areas are exposed to drafts and breezes. A south-facing wall with a reflecting foundation and an adjacent heat-sinking driveway might be good for an early springtime start, but brutally scorching in the summer. If everyone cuts across the yard at the same point, your soil is going to quickly become brutally compacted. Dryer vents, downspouts, and temperature fluctuations can cause major Life Events for your plants, so it’s important to identify areas where you can get a little boost or avoid something gnarly. Moisture, temperatures and wind can vary wildly within the same small yard. Microclimates are an important idea in permaculture, which is the subject of at least eight books on my bedside table.

Since we haven’t lived here for a year, most of the microclimates of our yard are a mystery. Mostly, we are looking for the least shady areas with maximum heat — because our yard is in Olympia & has some mature trees – so we don’t really have enough sun or heat. What does our yard look like in the summer? The sun will move, the trees will leaf out, there will be a lot less rain, and I have no idea what to expect. This is a year that I anticipate we’ll do a lot of learning. Not to imply that I’m totally a lazy farmer, but if I can get microclimates to reduce my workload at all, it’s worth it to me.

While I often exclaim about the relative worthlessness of our pets, I have occasionally found a use for the dogs in the garden. Last summer, they did a remarkably good job of chasing the birds, squirrels and wildlife that would try to steal our garden’s bounty. This year, so far, they have dug up some plants I probably didn’t want to keep anyway, and helped me identify some of the most important microclimates in our backyard.

You see, we have two small, shivering, heat-seeking, under-the-blankets, “Get me a sweater PLEASE” kind of dogs. If you need to find the warmest spot in the house, unleash the hounds. The same principle applies to the backyard. From about 10am to 2pm, this corner is THE place to be.

Surrounded on two sides by heat-reflecting fences, this corner is sheltered from the wind, gets a lot of light and warmth, and would be a really great place to grow heat-loving plants…. if the dogs weren’t likely to kill anything I plant there by sleeping on top of them.

Clementine is giving me the look that says, “Yes, I HAVE always dreamed of napping on top of a watermelon vine, thank you for asking.”


Filed under garden, pets, urban farming

this dog called Cash

Despite all the demeaning nicknames we can possibly come up with, this dog is happy. Why, just last night I forced him to put on a dance show to Lady Gaga. We laughed so hard our bellies ached, and I thought he just tolerated it. But look at him!

He’s not just smiling, he’s SMIZING. Oh, I’m sorry, do you not watch America’s Next Top Model? Tyra Banks invented a new word for smiling with your eyes. You see, models have to do it. And so do happy dogs.

What I was really trying capture here was his snaggle tooth. Is this an Italian Greyhound thing? He tends to get his lips stuck up above his teeth on a pretty regular basis. Again we laugh so hard we cry and our bellies hurt. This doesn’t ever get old. And look at him, smizing and being a giant snaggle-toothed doofus all at once. Impressive.

Well now he’s just showing off.

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Filed under pets

Live Together in Perfect Harmony

Something has shifted in our household, not quite overnight, but almost. Now, when Cash & Elsa are near each other, he tries to lick her and she likes it. I would never, in my wildest dreams, want to lick a cat. Can you see his tongue sticking out of his mouth in this picture?

Occasionally she bats him with her claws so that she can maintain her image.

Please tell me they are going to cuddle some day. I need to see it so badly.

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Filed under pets

trial tracking

It’s finally Tuesday! You may be sad that your long holiday weekend has come to an end, but my weekend has just begun. Your weekend being over means that the Prop 8 trial is back on. I can now resume refreshing the Prop 8 Trial Tracker every ten minutes. While the trial and its outcome are serious business, those Prop 8 supporters are good for some laughs. Who knew homophobia could be so funny? Sure, it might be better live on TV or YouTube, but since they did everything they could to keep this trial top secret, we will have to settle for reading the live blog account of what is going on.

Oh, and allegedly there is now a Shiba Inu Five puppy cam, featuring the new litter from the mom of the Shiba Inu Six. I haven’t been able to catch any live puppy action yet.


Filed under marriage, pets

a very special birthday

Today is the birthday of our precious land shark disguised as a chihuahua, our dog-shaped vacuum cleaner, my little squirrel-chasin’, compost-snackin’, foot-warmin’ princess. For her birthday, we spent the day at Grandma’s house, and she probably ate too many treats. Happy birthday, Clementine. I hope your next year is the best yet.

(p.s. we are not the only people who remember/celebrate pet birthdays, right?)

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Filed under pets


Did you know that it snowed in Olympia on Sunday? Yes, it did. My coworkers tell me that it did not snow in Seattle, but it snowed most of the day in Olympia. The roads were pretty treacherous, but we did get to see our house in the snow for the first time ever.

And I was also reminded of how very, very much tiny dogs hate the snow. Cash has been wearing his new sweater, which was purchased locally and handmade from organic wool. Clementine, however, refuses to wear any sweaters, even if they are organic, handmade wool. So she’s very cold.

Speaking of people who refuse to dress weather-appropriately, Levi insists that wearing a blazer is good enough for wintertime temperatures. He is quick to point out that winter does not even technically start until December 21, and a blazer is perfectly adequate for the fall. Fortunately, the snow melted the next morning and heavy rains set in, and a blazer is adequate for that.


Filed under home, pets, winter

2009 halloween

Oh, look, it’s our belated Halloween post! Finally!

Levi’s costume was Black Spy, from the comic strip Spy Versus Spy. Krista made the mask, which turned out fantastic, and assembled the costume. When Levi got home from trick or treating, I asked him the mandatory questions, “Did you get a lot of candy? Did you have fun? Did people like your costume?” Yes, yes, yes, of course, yes. Then I asked, “Did you see any cool costumes?” He thought about it for a minute, then answered, “No… I think my costume was the best.” You may be wondering how he could see through this mask. The answer is, well, mostly he couldn’t except through the space at the end of the nose. He wouldn’t let me cut eye holes in it! He liked the mask so much, he didn’t want to mess it up at all. He came home without any broken bones, so all’s well that ends well.

The animals, of course, enjoyed their holiday as well.

Elsa stole all the candy.

Cash dressed up as a diva. Okay, maybe that’s not much of a costume for him, since he acts that way all the time.

Then we ate some pumpkin food (pumpkin lasagna, pumpkin spice cake with honey cream cheese icing). Happy Halloween!

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Filed under fall, family, pets