Category: Pet Ownership

An Open Letter To Trayse On National Dog Day

Dear Trayse,

When I first met you, I thought you were bizarre, but, after walking you to the park, I knew our hearts were on par.


Our first selfie.

Jeni, Jake, and Trayse. Together, we are a little family.


Your are our dog baby. We wish we could claim you as a dependent, but U.S. Law says this can not be.

You keep watch over our living spaces with pride and protect us from squirrels and bunnies who run away and try to hide.

Trayse out front watch

We notice how you try to help us with household projects and blog posts. Obviously, you can’t actually help us put together furniture or bake cookies since you are a canine, but your efforts are never asinine.


You keep us accountable for getting lots of exercise and together we absorb vitamin D sunbathing on the sidewalk or curling up in the grass underneath a tree.


Jeni and Trayse

Life’s changed a lot within the past two years and we’ve moved two times. From Minnesota to Iowa to Missouri, you’ve handled it in stride.


Moving day in Mason City.

It’s true that you stole Jake’s grilled cheese sandwich that one day and make all of our blankets and pillows smell weird.


Trayse pillow

But you make us laugh each day with your silly ways and are very much revered.


We’ll be there to comfort you again, should we ever live in a city that’s eligible to host one of those weeklong, house-shaking at 2 a.m. PGI Firework Conventions that makes you shudder and puke.


We’ll protect you from the thunderstorms, keep your feet warm on winter walks, and let you mangle our winter hats, because that’s just what we do.


Life’s not easier or more convenient now that you’re in our life, but it’s all for the best.

Trayse couch hot

Life’s much happier with dog, more than we could have ever guessed.



Celebrating The Small Victories: A Dog In Boots

If this isn’t success, then I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about how my dog wouldn’t wear boots.  
The weather had begun to sour and the roads were covered in snow and slush. If we were going to make it through the winter, he just had to wear his boots. I tried a puffy pair of boots from Petco and rubbery Pawz without success. Once I slipped a boot on his foot, he’d alternate between keeping that leg raised up in the air or attacking his foot. I thought all was lost.
Yesterday, I tried again. 
After a handful of treats, I got the dog to wear all FOUR boots. We made it to the end of our cul-de-sac. 

Trayse was so unhappy with his boots that he kept throwing himself, head-first, into every snowbank we passed.

This continued the entire block and a half home. His feet were nice and dry but his jacket was packed with snow. But, no matter.  Four boots a small victory that I’ll take.

Now, if only I could replicate it!

My Dog Won’t Wear Boots: A Really Silly Give Away

This might be one of the silliest give-aways you’ll see.

My dog needs a long walk everyday, but he hates wearing boots.

When the first snow hit North Iowa, it turned to slush. I ran to the nearest pet store and bought my dog cushy boots. Neither the small or medium size fit him and he kept kicking them off not matter how tightly I wound the Velcro straps, so I returned them.

I conducted some Internet research and ordered a product called Pawz which are thin, waterproof rubber boots that are meant to slide onto a dog’s feet without clips or Velcro. They’re also disposable (though you can utilize them multiple times), biodegradable, and endorsed by Cesar Millan.

Supposedly, dogs have an easier time wearing Pawz because they aren’t padded and allow them to feel the ground beneath their feet. They’re like little red balloons or feet condoms.

Yup. I still can’t get my dog to wear Pawz, despite all of their accolades.

Trayse the dog suffers through short winter walks after which he gingerly licks the snow from between his paws. If only he’d understand why he needs to wear Pawz. Silly dogs. They have no complex reasoning skills.

I spent $20 on three pairs of red Pawz and now I can’t use them. The first two boots ever so slightly worn, as they were the ones I chased him around the house with. I managed to put them on his back feet, but quickly removed them when started walking around on his front two paws and attacking his own feet.

In order not to waste $20, I would love to give the Pawz away to a reader with a small dog. The package says the size small will fit a dog with paws up to 2.5 inches long.

If you want to enter this ridiculous giveaway, leave me a comment at the bottom of this post or my Jeni Eats page on Facebook and include your best winter dog exercising or walking tip. Even if you don’t want to boots, feel free to leave a tip anyway. I will randomly pick a winner and mail the boots anywhere within the continental US free of charge.

What do you have to lose?

Life With Dog: Ups & Downs

We’re adjusting to life with dog.

Smoother Sailing

  • Walks: Trayse is improving on his walks. He still lurches at the occasional passerbyer or dog, but I can keep him moving forward more often than not. He practices stopping behind me when I stop and is not allowed to mark his territory along the way. 
At Lime Creek Nature Center, Mason City, IA

  • Potty trained: Except for one isolated incident, Trayse is well potty trained. The previous owners of our house had two dogs and a cat. We replaced all of the flooring, and, even though I’ve been cleaning for weeks, I still find dog hair. We were concerned that Trayse would want to spray where the other dogs may have marked their territories along the baseboards or in the vents, but fortunately this has not been the case.
  • Kenneling: Trayse won’t willingly enter his kennel, but can be easily bribed with a treat. On the first day and night, he whined when he had to go to his kennel, but now he seems fine. He sleeps in the kennel through the night without a peep. 
  • Barking: Trayse generally doesn’t bark unless someone knocks on the door, he’s playing, or he hears loud or high pitched noises. 
  • Energy level: I take Trayse on long walks in the mornings which helps him settle during the day. Then, he gets a short walk in the late afternoon to get the jitters out before bedtime. We’re trying to follow Cesar Millan’s rule of providing exercise, discipline and affection in that order. 
What dog doesn’t enjoy lounging in the sun?
  • Baths: Loves them.
  • Car Rides: Also loves them and is obedient about laying or sitting down in the car which makes it easy to take him places. 


  • Stranger Danger: Trayse has a lot of work to do regarding socialization. He doesn’t respond well to strangers who enter our house so we will do what it takes to make sure he’s friendly to guests. He’s done better when I’ve lead him around by the leash and allowed him to sniff people while they ignore him. Then, he seems to relax. Our pet insurance covers a certain amount of dog training. 
  • The “No Touch, No Talk, No Eye Contact” Rule. We hope guests won’t take offense to this rule. Most of all, we hope it will encourage Trayse to get used to strangers without being defensive. We also don’t want to encourage him to get excited when people come and leave, including ourselves. 
  • Commands: We’re working hard to learn sit, lay down and stay. 
  • Meal times: Since we brought Trayse home, he hasn’t eaten at regular meal times, though he drinks water. He hardly ate during the first two days, but I attribute this to having recently received vaccinations. Now, he still doesn’t want to eat more than one meal a day and picks at his food bowl like a cat. I’m trying to offer it to him at consistent times and then take it away until the next meal time if he doesn’t eat it. 
  • Nail Clipping: It’s impossible without a tranquilizer. I’ve tried everything. 

Homemade Dog Treats
Recipe from Cesar’s Way

2 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour, unbleached flour or oats, depending on if your dog has sensitivities to wheat (I made the recipe with about 2/3 oats and the rest a mixture of whole wheat and unbleached flour).
1/2 cup of warm chicken stock-low sodium
1 egg


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients into the warm stock until it forms a ball. Over-mixing will over-develop the gluten.
  3. Roll the dough to about 1/2 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut into desired shapes.
  4. Place on a lightly greased sheet pan and bake for 25-30 minutes.
  5. I divided the biscuits into plastic bags and placed in the freezer. I bring out one bag at a time and let it thaw in the fridge.

My Life In Pictures & Dogs


Jake and I are having a Trayce the dog.

Trayce says, “Thanks for the walk.”

On Thursday, I’ll pick up Trayce, the dog from Saint Paul, MN. Jake bought Trayce as a puppy when he was a bachelor four years ago. He gave the puppy to his parents to care for since he worked too many hours to adequately care for the dog and promised to take him back when he was able. Trayce is an energetic Rat Terrier mix with bad manners. Sometimes he spins in circles when he gets excited and you have to tranquilize him to cut his nails. But he does well on walks, sits on command, and loves baths. Cesar Millan’s dog psychology theories have already proven helpful.

I can’t wait to take Trayce with me on road trips. We shall explore Iowa together.

Growing up, my family was never without a family dog. First, we had Reggie the sweet but dopey, blond Cocker Spaniel who was euthanized when he developed a giant tumor at age 13.

Celebrating my third birthday.

Then, we had Otis the Boston Terrier. My little brother and I basically got into a fistfight over who got to hold him on the car ride back from picking him up from the breeder’s. While my mom was in hospice, the vet botched a procedure that made him incontinent. The vet adopted him because my dad was too overwhelmed to care for him and I lived in an apartment that did not allow pets.

Otis’s second day home. 

Some girls play house, collect dolls and dream of caring for their own babies. I played spaceship, collected seashells, and read books about cooking and extraterrestrials.

And I always wanted a dog.

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