Wednesday, March 20, 2013

To The Dogs

In a recent post, I wrote about my experiences in Baghdad. After that deployment, I requested to attend the Military Working Dog Handler course at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. At the graduation ceremony, I was honored with the Top Dog award for obedience. I was then assigned to Fort Richardson, Alaska. When I arrived, I was paired up with Lux, a 2 year old German Shepherd. Lux and I were the only certified drug detection team on the base, so we stayed pretty busy. I worked with Lux until I was discharged from the Army, and I was sad that I had to leave him.

When I became a civilian again, I drove from Alaska to my hometown - Chardon, Ohio. At this point of my life, I was confused, sad, frustrated, and unsure of my future. To remedy my situation, I decided to get a puppy! I called Geauga Humane Society's Rescue Village until they told me that they had 10 puppies I could choose from. I drove to the animal shelter, and by the time I arrived, all but 2 of the puppies had found a home. The lady at the shelter told me that the puppies were found by a couple walking through a local park. The rescue shelter raised the puppies until they were old enough to have the necessary immunizations, at which point someone could adopt them. The shelter was able to feed the puppies only what food was donated. Rescue Village fed them baby bottle formula, and the puppies did not receive the nutrients and minerals that are essential for development. This caused the puppies to develop cataracts. So, I had 2 blind puppies to choose from. I put them both on a couch, one on each side of me. One of the pups wandered away from me, and the other walked towards me, bumped into me, and started licking my hand. I wanted to take them both, but I decided to take the one that was more curious about me. I named him Jude, and he's been my best friend ever since!

When I first brought Jude home he was pretty much blind - he ran into a barn, countless trees, picnic tables, chairs, people, and anything else that was in his way. The veterinarian recommended that I feed him Purina ONE® SMARTBLEND® Lamb & Rice Formula, to help with his vision. As Jude grew older, his vision got better. He still bumps into things, but not nearly as much as he did when he was a puppy. He is very much like the superhero Daredevil. Although his vision is impaired, Jude's remaining four senses function with high levels of sensitivity and accuracy; few know that he cannot see

Jude and I moved to Alabama so that I could start my education at Jacksonville State University. During the summer of my sophomore year, I visited my friends in Albertville, Alabama. Joe and Sherry's dogs (Sasha - a German Shepherd & Bama - a Chocolate Lab) had a litter of puppies, and they told me that I could take one home if I wanted to. I did! While I was driving home, I glanced down at this beautiful, 1-week-old puppy and decided that her name would be April. 

The nice, quiet life that Jude and I had been living, ended when April arrived. If Jude were to be a Jedi Knight, then April would have to be considered a Sith Lord. As a puppy, April destroyed my golf shoes, a textbook, the carpeting in my house, and most of my flowers, shrubs, and trees.

Even if I came home from school and my house, personal possessions, and plants were decimated, I was still happy that the dogs had each other to play with. It took some time, but I eventually got April under control. We were now one big happy family!

Dogs need love. So, give them as much of it as possible! Here are a few other tips on how to do be a good dog owner:
  1. Provide the best veterinarian care available. This includes: regular checkups, receiving all the necessary shots and medicines, nail trims, and flea and tick prevention.
  2. Teach your dogs to do what you want them to do. I've taught April and Jude how to sit, shake (shake with right paw), paw (shake with left paw), lay down, jump up, stay, get back, heel, and I taught them both how to retrieve golf balls, too.
  3. Praise your dogs every time they do what you tell them to do. There are 2 types of praise - physical praise (rubbing, petting, massaging, etc.) and verbal praise (clapping your hands, whistling, "good boy/good girl," etc.). To be more effective, use both types of praise at the same time.
  4. Correct your dog every time they don't do what you tell them to do. There are 2 types of corrections physical correction (pulling back on a leash hooked up to the collar or choke chain) and verbal correction ("NO"). To be more effective, use both types of corrections at the same time. Then, restate the original command. Praise the dog if it does what it's told to do. Correct the dog if it disobeys, and start this process over.
  5. Keep your dog clean. My dogs take a shower with me every Friday morning; they know it as "tub-tub time." I wash them with Pantene Pro-V shampoo and conditioner.
  6. Feed your dog. April and Jude are fed 2 meals per day; breakfast is served at 6:00 am, and dinner is served at 6:00 pm.

April and Jude love human food, too! When I cook for myself at home, I always prepare a little something extra to share with them. Some of their favorite foods are: steak, chicken, fish, pasta, peas, tomato sauce, and peanut butter crackers. We all enjoyed a nice steak lunch this afternoon!

In closing, here's a quote from the book I'm reading. James Herriot wrote, "It is always said that however many wonderful and happy years a dog lives, you know that one day, the day he dies, your dog will break your heart." He continues, "I have always advised people to get a replacement as soon as possible after their dog has died: a new and endearing pup helps enormously to fill the gaping void one always experiences after a much-loved dog has gone." I agree wholeheartedly with his philosophy. And I'll be taking his advice, when the time comes. Until then, I am quite content with my 2 big, black, beautiful dogs - April and Jude.

 To The Dogs

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Cooked To Perfection

Four years ago, I had my car's oil changed. A commercial for the NuWave Oven came on the television. I stopped what I was reading, and I began to watch. Before my car was ready to go, I had ordered 2 NuWaves. I've been cooking with them ever since! Here's how they work:


I love the NuWave Oven because the food comes out perfectly cooked, every time. The NuWave comes with a recipe book, and it contains the Quick and Easy Cooking Guide. All you need to do to get your food right is check the cooking guide for the rack level and cooking time. There are three levels that you can cook on: the 4" rack, the 1" rack, and the liner pan. The 4" rack is the highest, and closest to the heat. I use this level for cooking beef, lamb, chicken, pork, fish, shellfish, fruits, and vegetables. I cook turkey and duck on the 1" rack, and I bake cookies on the liner pan. As you may notice, I've used my recipe book quite a bit over the past 4 years.

I'm a huge fan of NuWave Ovens because they're so easy to transport. I take mine with me when I travel; it fits nicely on the front passenger-side floorboard of my car. On one of my trips to Fort Drum, I was cooking for my brother, his wife, their daughter, and my brother's best friend. My brother's friend had recently returned from an overseas deployment, but he was familiar with the NuWave Oven. He told me that the Special Forces soldiers he was working with loved their NuWave so much that they had cutoff the electrical plug and rewired the power cord to fit in the outlet of a HMMWV. NuWaves really do get around!

photo credit: jenelleconner via photopin cc

If either of my NuWave Ovens break, I will purchase a replacement immediately! So far, I have not had any problems with them. In my opinion, the NuWave Oven is a durable product, it's easy to use, and it's easy to clean. The food that I make in it is healthy for me, too. Lastly, most importantly, the food I prepare is cooked to perfection every time I use my NuWave.

Are interested in preparing great tasting, healthy meals? If so, I recommend the NuWave Oven to you. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

For All Things Are Possible With Q

Did you happen to read about the recent cargo delivery to the International Space Station? (view story) After I read it, I began to think that it's expensive to ship the supplies, the delivery takes a long time, and there's limited space and weight restrictions on the cargo being transported. But it's the best way we (those remaining on planet Earth) can give the brightest and most capable minds that our planet has to offer, a nice taste of home - "SpaceX also sent the crew a gift of fresh fruit from an employee's father's orchard," company president Gwynne Shotwell said.

Gene Roddenberry created the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. The introduction is: "Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before." 

Set in the 24th century, the crew of the Enterprise sometimes travels great distances from Earth. Roddenberry imagined that by this time the people of Earth would've created the technology necessary to avoid the above mentioned cost, delivery time, and limited space and weight restrictions that we in the 21st century are posed with. So, he created a future without money, and one with a machine that would eliminate the need for transporting air, water, clothing, spare parts, and food to a ship in space - a replicator. To order their most sought after foods and beverages, the crew of the Enterprise tells the replicator what they want to eat or drink, and that item materlializes on the replicator shelf.

photo credit: angie k via photopin cc

If I were stationed aboard the Enterprise, I would be compelled to program some of my favorite breakfast recipes into the replicator database - The Topper and the Wake Up Wowser.

The Topper

A sandwich made with a toasted, buttered bagel; 1 fried egg; 1 thick slice of ham, fried; 1 hash brown, hot; and 2 pieces of American cheese. Stack everything on to the bagel, and enjoy! WARNING I asked my doctor if it was OK for me to make this for breakfast every day. He laughed and said, "Sure, go ahead if you want to live a short, unhealthy life."

Wake Up Wowser

A drink made by juicing 1 pear, 1 apple, 2 oranges, and 1 sweet potato. Give it a good stir, and enjoy! This is a healthy drink that tastes great! Your kids will love it, too! My niece and nephew are my "juicing assistants," and the Wake Up Wowser is one of their favorites.
If programmed into the replicator correctly, I'm sure that my fellow crew members on-board the Enterprise would enjoy my meals! Listed below are some of the crew's most ordered beverages and signature dishes:

photo credit: saxarocks via photopin cc

William Riker - Gagh (a serpent worm that's eaten while still alive)

photo credit: DatarkNZ via photopin cc
 photo credit: Reggie Rachuba via photopin cc

photo credit: striatic via photopin cc

photo credit: DatarkNZ via photopin cc

photo credit: jainaj via photopin cc 

Ten Forward


I hope I live to see the day when it's possible for someone to get a job as a cook in space. That's where I'd want to be - exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new life and new civilizations, and all along enjoying the best food our world has to offer! We have a long way to go before we can travel through space and time, as those of the starship Enterprise do, but if we commit ourselves to becoming healthier, more educated, and more technologically advanced, we'll get there someday.