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Play Outside: The Remote Control

13 Jun

Unconditional love. Parents say to their children, “I love you no matter what.”  Then later clarify, typically following a bout of bad behavior, “I love you, I don’t love your behavior.”  At one point or another during childhood (and lets face it…adulthood), everyone tests the spectrum of that statement.

You may have been caught clutching the Sharpie amidst your reenactment of Harold and The Purple Crayon, testing the limits of the mysterious porcelain fixture that consumes dead goldfish and whatever else you could toss down there, or tossing a few of those “big kid” words you gathered from eavesdropping on late-night television.

It may be a distant memory now, and whether you tested your ninja skills on the metal blinds or thought your little sister looked better with bangs, we all can remember that one moment when your handful of years flashed before your eyes and left us with the thought…will they still love me?  To a five-year-old this is a legitimate fear; and, if you were like me, classified as having a “wonderful” or “overactive” imagination-depending on what kind of adult you are, this fear involved an artful conglomeration of every fairytale involving wayward child, mixed with a Radio Flyer and setting up camp in the twisty slide at the playground.

If you have been reading my posts about Hank, and knowing that we haven’t passed him off on some unsuspecting dog-lover, it’s obvious that we love him unconditionally.  And up until this incident, most of his mischief has been easily forgivable and typically laughable.  Knock on wood.  

You see, when Michael picked Hank out of a litter of eleven, they developed some kind of secret code…

…that they still use all the time.


And despite Hank’s love of destruction, we still love him no matter what.  But if Hank could talk, he might recall the moment Michael came through the front door, as when his stretch of memories flashed before his eyes.


This was a rather intricate demolition.

More specifically this is the remote for the BluRay player.  We don’t have cable, so Netflix, watching movies and streaming from is solely the purpose of having a TV.  I came  home to find Michael, a devoted movie lover, camped on the floor next to the fallen entertainment soldier and researching a replacement remote…and furious that Sony did not offer an overnight shipping option.

Hank, who had already been scolded, was sulking in his bed.

He may have been sulking for the “bad dog” talk, but I’m pretty confident that this particular prey was not without premeditation.  The remote sits on the coffee table or above the TV, within a paws reach, as it has for Hank’s entire life.  But on this day he decided the remote was just too smug: lounging there on the table, casually awaiting when Michael would come home and it would lure his attention with it’s glowing blue buttons.  Aided by the comfy couch and squishy pillows, a long day at work and narrow window of daylight; the fleeting hours of playtime outside could be lost if the right cocktail of comfiness won out.

Hank, with images of swimming holes, hiking trails and the dog park, decided to destroy the plastic lynchpin of his nemesis.  And as an added bonus, rubber buttons and electronic motherboards make for a very interactive toy.

But, like you were forgiven for playing DaVinci with your Mother’s lipstick, or when crystal was tagged “out” during a harmless game of indoor dodgeball…Hank was forgiven for destroying the remote.  Hank and Michael: unconditionally in love, and back to normal in no time…

Human Translation:  Play outside.  Computers, iPads, smartphones, Netflix and more, are all fun toys that keep us inside on the couch.   And although we are good at getting outdoors to hike, swim and play…sometimes after a long day at work a little fresh air may take a little more motivation, but bring a bigger payoff.  We are lucky to be surrounded by so many fun outdoor activities, getting outside and enjoying them can be just as relaxing as lounging around with movies.

As for Hank, his list of favorite things makes it so difficult to pinpoint one favorite: eating food containing “sweet potato & fish,” being petted by four hands at once, playing with Alta, sleeping in a fleece nest, treats, toys and everything in between…but something tells me if he had the capacity for logic & reasoning, Hank’s favorite thing would look like this:















Archives: Peanut Butter, Part 2

10 May

Woo! That took awhile.  Thank you for waiting for the conclusion of Hank’s (rather, my) peanut butter fiasco of 2010.  So to recap, the night before Hank had consumed an entire jar of peanut butter, including: retrieving it from the counter, popping the top off, peeling back the freshness seal and helping himself to a salty snack.  The next day, Hank was still visibly bloated, very gassy and groaning as he rolled back and forth on the floor.  Sure, we felt bad…but it he wasn’t violently ill (unless you count the violent smell coming from the backyard) and even if he didn’t know any better, even if Alta egged him on or pushed the peanut butter off the counter for him…Hank brought this on himself.

Picture the furry, dog version of a kid wanting to stay home from school: the one that empties his arsenal of every pitiful woe-is-me trick, in order to get that magical home-sick call in to the attendance office.  We expected the grumpy, uncomfortable dog, the pouty face and puppy-eyes hoping to gain our sympathy and be allowed to sit on the couch all day.  But we didn’t expect that Hank, especially in his state of discomfort, would take his cure into his own paws…

This is what we found after dinner out that night.

A picture really is worth a thousand words; because in this picture, there are actually two stories being told.

The first: the tale of a curious, chronically hungry and determined little puppy dog-who, after suffering the wrath of 2400 mg of sodium in one salty sitting, was gassy, bloated, and if I had to guess, suffering heartburn, stomach ache and all the other fun stuff you could think of incurring after eating a tub of peanut butter.  So what is the only logical solution to these intestinal infirmities? TUMS!

Yes. Hank followed in the footsteps of his human role models: spicy food lovers, fans of fried everything, and patrons of sketchy and/or mobile eateries…he washed his poor food choice down with a bottle of TUMS.  We couldn’t help but appreciate the irony of Hank’s latest destruction; and it remains a mystery whether or not they actually helped with his sore tummy, or just distracted him with the task of shaming yet another packaging design and chasing around colorful discs that melted on his tongue.

The second story this picture tells is the one of us returning home from eating at a local Thai restaurant.  More specifically, that Michael has a particular penchant for extra spicy Thai food, and was counting on the extra large bottle of TUMS waiting for him…to ward off any miserable heart burn.  Notice the sad, concerned (about looming and inevitable discomfort) face holding up the bottle of destroyed and consumed TUMS.  Michael isn’t sad about cleaning up the rainbow of half chewed calcium carbonate tablets strewn all over the floor…but instead for the fact that it was now too late to make a trip to the the store, and his dog had beaten him to the mixed-berry goodness that wards off the fiery debt you pay for asking for a “9” on the spicy scale.

HUMAN TRANSLATION: Be proactive.  One of the many “mom lessons” that I’ve learned over the years is that as soon as you start feeling the tickle of a sore throat…whip out the hot salt water and gargle.  Yes, I spent most of my childhood warding off this lesson by swearing up and down that I wasn’t getting sick: no, I didn’t need extra sleep to prevent the flu from taking over; and yes, I was positive that the chills and sore throat were allergies so keep that nasty purple syrup away from me!  What Hank’s TUMS solution is telling us is something all of us already know: if you start feeling sick, do something about it.  Don’t pretend it’s allergies or that  it must be a dry time of the year.  No need to raid the drugstore for everything over the counter stamped with the word “cold” on it, but you can: sleep more, drink more water, take a few vitamins and try and get better before it gets the best of you.

Be well!

Love, Hank

Archives: Peanut Butter, Part One.

6 Apr

This is the first Stuff Hank Eats archive post.  These are all the crazy instances where we were like, “He ate what?! …we should really write these down.”  The plan is to scatter these posts during bouts of good behavior, because those can’t last long, and times when we just can’t resist sharing Hank’s stomach’s war stories.

This is how the story goes…

I had left Hank and Alta home alone while I was at work one day.  I had recently moved into my studio apartment and still had an Aero bed inflated, serving as a makeshift couch/extra seating.  Hank had taken a liking to this bouncy flat bed, it didn’t require the effort it took to jump on the real bed, and was much bigger than his dog bed.

I walk in the door and the first piece of shrapnel I come across is a peanut butter jar, licked clean, wrapper shredded and the top chewed to oblivion.  The further I travel into the 500 square feet, I see a lovely (not pictured for your own good) puddle of liquid peanut butter barf on the aero bed.  Completely grossed out, I look to my two lovely companions for a guilty party.  Nothing.  Totally stoic, they both sat there staring at me, as if there are empty peanut butter jars laying around all the time…and I am crazy to look so surprised.

Disclaimer: The peanut butter jar was not left on a low coffee table or cupboard, but had just been bought at the grocery store and was sitting on the countertop with the rest of the non-perishables that I had hastily unloaded.  In order to get to the jar, the guilty party had to pull it down from the counter; proceed to pop the lid off (a task frequently simulated while holding a stuffed toy and removing it’s stuffing through an ear or ripped seam); peel back the paper/aluminum “freshness” seal and reveal 18oz of delicious, salty, nutty goodness.  Yes, you read correctly…the paper seal was peeled back, and we found it whole, and detached from the jar, not ripped or shredded. Apparently, a workday was more than enough time to accomplish these feats.

I begrudgingly cleaned up the disgusting regurgitated peanut butter from the cracks of the Aero bed, almost getting sick myself…as Alta and Hank sat perched, staring at me.  I decided to leave the two furry suspects at home, get away from the stinky peanut smell and go get some dinner out…convinced that I would figure out the guilty party later.

It was easy.

There are about 16 servings in an 18oz jar of peanut butter.  That’s about 256 grams of fat and more importantly… 2,400mg of sodium.  To put it in perspective for us with thumbs, think about sitting down with a spoon and eating two jars of peanut butter.  How would you feel?  Bloated? Gassy? Sick? Uncomfortable?

Check. Check. Check.

When I got home after dinner it was easy to tell which dog had committed the salty crime.  Alta was snoozing away in her bed, her conscience seemingly clear, unaware (or apathetic) of Hank’s uncomfortable situation.

Hank on the other hand, was in rough shape…

He was sprawled out on the bed, then slowly moved between the floor and his bed.  Visibly bloated, Hank would lay on one side, passing gas from both ends, then flip over to the other side, groan, and repeat.  It should have been a doggie Pepto commercial, minus the catchy tune.  It was pretty clear Hank wasn’t in any medical danger, but it was also clear that he was super uncomfortable.  I imagine it would be like that feeling after a particularly gluttonous Thanksgiving dinner, then polishing off all the leftovers, maybe stopping by the store for a few extra fixings that went on sale the day after.

Picture the saddest, fat, puffy puppy face you could imagine on this already cute (in a pitiful sort of way) dog and that’s what face we were looking at for the next two days.  The bloating went down, the bathroom antics (not pictured for everyone’s visual safety) lasted for a few days, and because we learned our lesson about leaving the peanut butter within paws reach…we’re not sure if Hank learned his about leaving it alone.

Stay tuned for the perfectly rational conclusion of Hank vs. Peanut Butter…cheers!

HUMAN TRANSLATION: Learn to reach.  Ordinarily, you wouldn’t think a dog – lacking thumbs, reasoning and long-term memory – would have a tough time getting into a peanut butter jar so gracefully.  Sure, any strong-jawed dog could chew a hole in the soft plastic and proceeding to create a giant mess of chewed plastic, gooey peanut butter and dog saliva.  But Hank not only popped the lid off the jar (turning it into a tiny red frisbee and then chewing it to oblivion afterwards) then peeled the paper seal away, revealing what he had been after.  Besides keeping peanut butter far, far away from our furry friends, we can learn a lesson from Hank and his stomach suffering.  Whatever goal is seemingly out of reach, high up on the counter (or in a toy box on a tall shelf), keeping focused and breaking down a large goal into smaller ones will make it easier to achieve.  To us, getting a scoop (or entire jar) of peanut butter is a no brainer;  but to Hank, with no thumbs, standing three feet below the edible target and never having screwed off a lid in his long two years…breaking it down into smaller tasks made his ultimate goal a reality, along with the following internal (and for us, external) agony.  So whatever your big goals may be: 5-year-plan, emotional growth, physical fitness, career achievements, lifestyle changes or financial benchmarks; make a list, draw a diagram, read your tarot cards, talk it out…whatever works for you, break it down into smaller, easier to manage goals and they’ll be yours sooner than you think.