Tag Archives: miniature schnauzer

Mulberries sweeten breakfast (check out this smoothie recipe … and cute dog pic)

mulberry treeThe mulberry tree is heavy with berries again. I’m tellin’ ya, that thing grows berries overnight. I swear, there were no berries on it two weeks ago. Sunday, I picked a bowl full, which I promptly used in my recipe for Mulberry Crisp or As Good As Cocaine to Marion Berry If He Were Named Mull Cobbler). This morning, I had a yen for a smoothie, and so many more berries had ripened, I picked enough for six smoothies!

Unfortunately, the mulberry season ends as quickly as it begins, so I’ve got to enjoy my berries while the enjoyin’ is good.

She's just gotta be in every picture, doesn't she?

She’s just gotta be in every picture, doesn’t she?

To the dog’s everlasting sorrow, the mulberry tree is outside the backyard fence. Here’s a shot of the dog standing guard against mosquitoes while I picked berries. She didn’t do a very good job because I got eaten up. But it was worth it!

I flash froze my berries while I was on my morning run because I prefer frozen fruit in my smoothies. Better texture, to my thinking.

A few other notes, before I share the recipe …

Remember, if you don’t have fresh mulberries, feel free to substitute blueberries or blackberries.

I can’t resist adding healthy stuff to my smoothies because you’d never know it was there! It’s that whole spoonful-of-sugar thing (Mary Poppins, anyone?). So I added chia seeds and spinach. Seriously, you’ll never taste it. And as for the sugar, some readers might prefer a teaspoon of honey or stevia; I’ve become accustomed to unsweetened Greek yogurt and I think pomegranate juice (the real stuff, not that pretender blueberry juice junk) is plenty sweet, but others might disagree. Be sure to add the sugar and blend again before you dump the smoothie in your glass.

I almost named this “Mulberry Protein Smoothie” because it has 22 grams of protein (thank you, Greek yogurt). That’s almost as much as four eggs, and for only 400 calories. I don’t really love the flavor of protein powder, but that would make it even more protein-y.

Talk about a healthy breakfast! Enjoy.

mulberry smoothie

Mulberry Smoothie


  • 1 c. mulberries, washed and frozen
  • 1/2 banana, peeled (do I really need to mention the “peeled” part?)
  • 2/3 c. Greek yogurt
  • 10 whole almonds
  • 1/3 c. spinach (pack that cup measure!)
  • 1 T. chia seeds, ground
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. pomegranate juice


  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend to your satisfaction.
  2. Pour in a glass and enjoy.

‘Loss aversion’ as it relates to pet ownership

My tolerance for loss might be lower than most people.

And most people have low tolerance for loss.

It’s called “loss aversion,” and it’s a powerful motivator, according to Brigitte Madrian, a Harvard professor who appeared recently on NPR’s All Things Considered. “The literature suggests that people are twice as sensitive to losses as they are to gains.”

NPR was examining loss aversion as it relates to investing for retirement, but since I heard the story I’ve been examining my life in terms of my loss aversion.

People who know me well would describe me as competitive. For example, while playing a simple card game with my 6-year-old nephew last week, I actually weighed in my mind the relative benefits of winning. Really? Beating a 6-year-old was somehow important to me? (Just to prove I’m empathetic as well as competitive, I’m compelled to tell you my nephew won the game. Fair and square. Mostly.)

Am I competitive because I want to win? Or am I competitive because I don’t like losing even more? “Loss aversion” would suggest it’s the fear of losing that drives my impulses.

My aversion for loss explains a lot. Why did I get straight A grades in high school? Because I hated Bs more. Why do I hate weight lifting so much? Because as an ectomorph, I’ll never be good at it. Why did I tolerate bad behavior for 16 years in my first marriage? I did it not because I wanted to stay married but because I didn’t. Want. To get. A divorce.

I’m particularly conscious of my inclination toward loss aversion this week as I’ve attended to a health crisis in my sweet little dog.

chloe epilepsyRegular readers will remember the seizures experienced two months ago by my 6-year-old miniature schnauzer, Chloe (read that story here). We thought the incident was caused by a pain medication prescribed to her after a dental procedure. We thought Chloe was healed of her seizures. We were wrong.

On Wednesday, she started seizing again, and in the period of 22 hours, she had nine seizures. I’ll spare you the description of the sleeplessness, hand-wringing, financial repercussions and sorrow. Here’s the short version: We consulted our hometown veterinarian who referred us to an animal neurologist (!), who administered Valium to stop the seizures, diagnosed her as having idiopathic epilepsy (read: seizures of unknown cause), recommended hospitalizing Chloe overnight and prescribed Keppra, an anti-seizure medicine. Chloe will have to take anti-seizure meds forever.

Chloe is back home this afternoon. She’s not having convulsions, but she’s not herself.

Only time will tell if Keppra is the solution to Chloe’s epilepsy.

In the meantime, I’m left to question: Am I trying to save my dog (to win?) or am I trying to avoid losing my dog? Am I properly motivated to look out for Chloe’s health and, too, make sound financial decisions? Or am I willing to spend any amount to avoid my own emotional pain? If the medication causes permanent personality change in my little dog, am I willing to embrace a new normal or will I forever be mired in the grief of losing the sweet, healthy little dog I used to have?

I don’t know, and to be honest, not knowing feels like losing, too. Given my loss aversion, I need to remind myself that closed doors mean opened windows. And other bits of wisdom.

“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

~ Winston Churchill

A story about canines (both the species and the teeth), Rimadyl and patience

Caregiving is stressful.

By telling the story below, I don’t mean to minimize caregivers of human patients who I realize most certainly are far more invested in their patients and the stakes are far higher. I can’t even imagine the stress of a someone whose wife has dementia or whose child is battling cancer.

The past 48 hours around here were tough in a much smaller, 8.4-pound way.

My dog (yes, this is a pet story — if you don’t like domestic animals, you’re hereby excused) had her teeth cleaned Friday.

Apparently, dogs bite when strangers stick their hands in their mouths (who knew?), so veterinarians anesthetize dogs in order to clean their teeth.

(Seriously? Dogs require dental care? Yes, I was incredulous, too. My miniature schnauzer had bad breath for years — literally years — and I came to love her stinky mouth. Yellow teeth? Who cares? She’s a dog, right? That’s what I thought until one of her teeth literally fell out of her mouth in my Beloved’s gentle fingers. It was so decayed, it was rotten. Rotten teeth, as it turns out, not only cause bad breath, they cause gum disease which can lead to terrible things like organ failure and death. It was clear my lame tooth-brushing routine was doing no good, and my sweet dog’s teeth required professional intervention. And so, D-Day, that is, Dental Day, came on Friday.)

She remained at the veterinary clinic all day. Anesthesia is serious business, you know. As this was the first time my dear Chloe was undergoing such a procedure, you can imagine the mess the technician found. Five teeth were so rotten they had to be extracted.

“How will she eat?” I lamented. Even toothless dogs figure out how to consume hard dog food pellets, I was told. Survival instinct, I guess. These creatures sometimes eat rabbit turds and lap up muddy puddles, so they’re not too discerning, I guess.

She was ready for pick-up at 5 p.m. and though she was generally listless, she looked OK. And her teeth were sparkling. I’m not kidding. They’re whiter than my teeth now.

I carefully listened to the after-care instructions, which included doses of pain killer and antibiotics and took her home. She sat on the couch with my Beloved and though she acted weird once, gacking strangely, we simply took her to bed as usual.

Then the horror began.

She started experiencing a seizure every two hours all night long. After the first one, I took her off the bed and put her in her kennel next to the bed, but I woke up every time her little legs violently pummeled the kennel from the inside.

You can’t stop a seizure. You can only speak softly and gently hold the victim (or, if they’re bigger than my little dog, get out of the way) while you wait for the gagging and the foaming and wide eyes and open mouth and kicking to subside. Forty seconds feels like 5 minutes. In the moments after the seizure, the victim still isn’t really there, looking spacy and stumbling around in a haze. I could only hold her sweaty body, feeling her racing heartbeat.

I’ve never had babies, so I don’t know what it’s like caring for a sick child through the night. But I can tell you caring for a sick pet is no walk in the park. Every moment waiting for another seizure was torture.

We stupidly followed the dosing instructions the following morning, giving her 25 mg of the antibiotic Clindamycin and 6.25 mg of Rimadyl, a pain reliever. The seizures occurred less frequently but did not abate.

I finally got in touch with the vet who assured me neither the anesthesia nor the medications could be causing seizures. She wanted to examine her and do more blood work (which they did only 24 hours previously before surgery), and she suggested maybe injecting an anti-seizure medication.

Great. I’d already paid $461 for the tooth cleaning surgery and $343 for the extractions. For that, my sweet little dog with bad breath had turned into a convulsing mess with sparkling teeth.

I should mention my dog continued to eat, drink, pee and poop as usual, so her systems seemed to operating normally except for the occasional brain reboot in the form of an ugly seizure. Seizures are caused by many real ailments and should not be left untreated (I am not a vet and I don’t play one on TV), but they also occur for unknown reasons, and it seemed clear the vet knew no more than I did. Like a lot of doctors, she wanted to do more tests and administer more drugs. Ugh.

Like all modern patients, we resorted to internet diagnosis, and we didn’t like what found online about Rimadyl. Correlation does not imply causation, but what’s the variable here? Chloe was perfectly healthy and seizure-free before surgery.

So we stopped the meds.

And Chloe slept peacefully through the night.

chloe closeupThis morning, we gave her half the antibiotic and no pain medication. She was back to her frisky self, galloping around the house, bounding down the stairs and barking her obnoxious-but-joyful-to-hear bark.

She clearly was not in pain.

I share this story both as a warning (beware of Rimadyl) and as a lesson.

As I waited those long moments through Chloe’s convulsions, I reminded myself of the body’s power to heal, that time heals all wounds, that patience is a virtue. There was no other balm for this chaos and stress but to accept it and embrace it and move through it. My prayers were answered (yes, I wasted God’s time with the health of a dog — what’s time to an eternal being?). And I’m so grateful.

Only a mother could love

Six years of observation have led me to the conclusion that my dog is a bitch.

In both senses of the word.

Chloe is a female dog, yes, but she also does not work and play well with others.

Oh, she’s just fine in our “pack,” where she gives orders and my Beloved and I obey. We have to read her mind, but she’s generally pretty transparent. “You want to go outside?” “You’re hungry? Here’s your yummies.” “You want me to play with you? OK, I’ll throw your toy.”

But when she’s with more refined dogs (read: obedient), she’s pushy and demanding.

Imported Photos 00047-EditedEarlier this summer, she nipped a friend’s dog when the friend’s dog made the mistake of nosing around in Chloe’s food dish. Today, Chloe’s clearly defined her alpha female status with a visiting relative’s dog by hounding her at every opportunity. Not very welcoming or accommodating, let’s just say.

Bear in mind, Chloe weighs 8 pounds and her primary weapon is a screechy bark that makes even me jump after having tolerated it for six years. When she gets bossy, you know it.

It’s like having a toddler who vehemently demands candy in the checkout line. I cover because I’m such a pushover who’s trained her so poorly.

But, like a mother, I love her even when she embarrasses me. Oh, do I love her.

The grass is always greener

Who's that little doggie in the back yard? The one with the waggly tail?

Who’s that little doggie in the back yard? The one with the waggly tail?

It seems we gotta a Houdini here at Minnesota Transplant’s house.

My 8-pound schnauzer has discovered the fence around the back yard is not impenetrable. She escaped one morning this week, and we were none the wiser until we got a phone call from a passersby two blocks away who found her and called my Beloved’s phone number on her collar.

What’s so appealing in the wide, wide world?

Not sure how we’re going to seal up the two-inch gap that’s opened up between the bottom of the fence and the apparently settling ground, but Chloe has figured out the contortions required to traverse it. In an attempt to recreate the feat, I caught her on film:

escape in progress

“We feel free when we escape — even if it be but from the frying pan to the fire.”

~ Eric Hoffer

My pretty little dog has a grizzly side

I think my miniature schnauzer was a grizzly bear in a past life.

Besides the fact she snores (it’s the cutest little wheezy snore ever!), she really goes for any of Blue Buffalo’s dog food containing salmon.

I am morally against feeding my 8-pound canine beef since my dog could never take down a cow in the natural world, so I tend toward the chicken and turkey varieties when I’m hunting in the dog food aisle at Petco. But I decided to give salmon a try with my picky little dog, and it turns out she’s quite a pescetarian. In fact, she doesn’t just like salmon, she loves it!

little dog

They way she digs into her food bowl reminds me of a hungry grizzly chowing down on a river full of floppy fish during a salmon run.

We’ll need her grizzly aggression about now. My Beloved set our bikes free today from their winter storage, hanging from the ceiling of the garage. Chloe’s bark might come in handy should we encounter any witches on our bike rides.

“I’ll get you, my pretty! And your little dog, too!”

~ Miss Gulch, aka
the Wicked Witch of the West


Bath day

Bath day for my baby!

Bath day for my baby!

The most affectionate creature in the world
is a wet dog.

~ Ambrose Bierce