Tag Archives: dog

Embassy Days Part 2: Shortcut to Europe

12 May

After last week’s awesome meanderings around the world, I couldn’t wait for this weekend’s adventure: Europe. We started early and on the outskirts so we beat the crowds. Our itinerary centered around food and dogs – the two most important things in life


Egg artists

At our first stop we were greeted with tiny cups of delicious food and wine. At first we were leery of the sauerkraut, potatoes and bacon but it was perfect. As we pined for more, we wandered around the airy rooms admiring the tables of glossy travel brochures and displays of traditional costumes and modern art.

I really enjoyed looking at the decorated eggs. One woman used a technique, which my family had actually tried at Easter this year, where she used a razor to etch a continuous design around the egg. The woman said she had learned from her parents and practiced for years (seven?).


Austria was chosen because the promotional materials promised apple strudel demonstration. We didn’t see the demonstration by sampled some nice flaky pastry and juice from an Austrian fruit that I can’t remember – Red Bull and coffee were also available.

Live musicians played and little girls in dresses twirled around the room. Keeping with the food theme of the day, we tasted cold-pressed pumpkin seed oil.

Sugared and caffeinated, we boarded a shuttle and traveled to our next country.

Czech Republic

The Czech Republic had the most extensive and detailed presentation,  all centered around the theme of movie. Apparently, many films —including big Hollywood blockbusters such as the “Bourne Identity” and “Mission Impossible”— have been filmed in the Czech Republic. I was excited to recognize “Closely Watched Trains,” a film from my European cinema class, on a poster.

As we walked up to the embassy, a youth choir was singing (some of them had been on the Metro with us). Then, a comedic Renaissance stage combat team demonstrated different types of fighting including swordsmanship.

And, of course, I must tell you about the food we sampled: The Bohemian spa wafers reminded me of a flat, fancy sugar ice cream cone (but in a good way – there were flavors like hazelnut). We also tried kolaches, traditional Czech pastries, from Bistro Bohem, the only Czech restaurant in DC. Mine was kind of like a pudding, but again, in a good way.


Cute summary of embassy days: younger generations carrying on traditions and teaching others

So my favorite stop of the day was of course Hungary because of the kutya – dogs! I was so excited that as soon as I chomped my way through a pretzel-type thing and made my way through security, I strode determinedly through to the embassy and didn’t stop until I found a dog.

In a room across the patio, I man had a friendly long-haired dachshund and I asked if I could pet it. Content, though slightly disappointed that that was the extent of the dog experience,  I continued down the steps and out into the embassy’s backyard and saw the most glorious sight: dogs, several of them, running around. Before I had asked a random guest to pet his dog but now I had found the real deal.

I had seen vizslas , the Hungarian hunting dog, on Animal Planet but never in person.  Their playful energy and rust-golden coat and matching eyes hooked me instantly. One super friendly sweetie covered my face in wet-tongue kisses and then tried to sit in my lap.

Talking to the dog’s owner, she told me the butt-to-owner position is a common stance for vizslas. She thought it was unique to her dog but at an event with other vizslas she saw dozens of other dogs doing it as well. They like to see what’s going on around them while staying close to you.

In addition to the vizsla, Hungary is known for the puli, a herding breed that bears a remarkable resemblance to a mop (or, as you might remember from the beer commercial, a head full of dreadlocks).


After I had fulfilled my doggie needs, my friends and I headed down to the most concentrated cluster of embassies in DC. We wanted to go to Belgium for the chocolate, but the line was too long. We wanted to go to Finland, but the line was too long. All of the embassies had lines that rivaled those of popular Disney rides during peak tourist season.

At that point, I gave up. My feet were tired and it was hot. There’s always next year.


She’s leaving home

27 Oct

Here’s the song of the day: “She’s Leaving Home” by The Beatles.

Well, hopefully my parents are not as depressed as the parents in this song. I want them to be happy and excited for me and this opportunity, but appropriately sad that they won’t see my shinning face every day.

I do, however, expect my poor puppy to be distraught. He suffers from separation anxiety, which means he cries when I go to the mailbox. I won’t see him until Christmas, and I don’t think I’ve ever gone that long without seeing him. Since May — and especially since August when my sister went back to school — Reiley and I have spent so much time together.  I’ve been his primary walker, feeder, groomer, doctor, player, chauffeur, cuddler, etc. — a two-member wolf pack, if you will. He’s probably devastated to have lost his pack… Or he’s taken over my room and claimed my bed as his own.

My parents can come visit me and talk to me on the phone. The dog? Not so much. Hopefully he’ll learn how to appreciate Skype so I can see at least see his cute little face.

Anyway, check back for updates on the move to Washington DC!

National Dog Day

26 Aug

Happy National Dog Day!

Founded in 2004, the holiday is dedicated to raising awareness about the dogs that need adopting, as well as to celebrate the contributions of dogs. A good example for this year would be  the trained dog accompanied the Navy SEALS team which killed Osama bin Laden.

My own canine companion was briefly a shelter dog before he padded his was into the Higginbotham house and hearts. Eight years later, he is still adorable and hilarious and I can’t imagine life without him.

Reiley Dude is, however, probably one of the world’s most expensive shelter dogs.  The first day we had him he sneezed more than 100 times (my sister and I had a tally going on the refrigerator).  After a trip to the doggy dermatologist, we learned he was allergic to grass…among other things. So the puppy was on allergy shots for a while. A few years ago his constant drinking and urinating led to a trip to the vet and diagnosis of diabetes which may have been encouraged by the steroids in the shots. Last summer he surgery to removed the cataracts caused by the diabetes.

Reiley after his surgery

And these are just the medical expenses.

It doesn’t even cover the damage he’s caused to the house or the cost of [attempting to] train him. Apparently he has separation anxiety so he used to get very upset when we left the house. One time he was so upset he jumped up on the dinning room table and peed. How many people come home to find a puppy puddle there? The next day my mom had the table pads hanging over the edge to dry, so Reiley decided to chew them up.

He once got into the garage, found a bag of organic fertilizer, dragged it through the house to my parents’ bedroom, and then threw up on their white carpet. He was lucky it was organic. The handle on the door from the house to the garage has since been replaced so he cannot jump on the leaver and push his way out again.

Yesterday during my hair cut, my hairdresser Grace told my mother and me how her sister’s dog used to eat rocks.  So my mother serenely looked at the hairdresser and said, “Our dog eats feminine products.”

Through the damp strands of hair in my face I could see Grace double over and let out a raspy howl of a laugh. She couldn’t believe it. The bathroom trash cans at my parents’ house are pretty much just for show — we can’t really use them because the dog will just chew up whatever he find in there. He’s also been known to enjoy a nice crotch of underwear or a ripe sock.

We went on to tell her how if Reiley steals a loaf of bread or a package of cookies, he will hide the food under couch pillows as if he’s saving them for later. The first time it happened, my mom walked in to find him him chewing on a cookie. She took it away from him, scolded him and went about her today. A little while later, she found him with another cookie and the whole process repeated itself.

Despite his antics, he is a good dog. He loves to spend the evenings sharing the love seat with Mommy.  As the sign on our wall says, “My dog’s not spoiled, I’m just well trained!”

Reiley on loveseat

Camera phone image of Reiley with my mom one night.

If your life could use a little excitement, consider adopting a dog. They’re not necessarily cheap, but I think they’re worth every penny.

Dog theif

25 May

He’s a persistent little stinker. No matter how many times this toy gets put in this pile of things to give away, Reiley digs it out and trots off to play with it on the floor of my parents’ room.

Lazy Sunday afternoon

6 Mar

Reiley bed