The Puppy Pack’s newest member, Galileo

A smiling Galileo at our first meeting. I suspect he knows he's going to his forever home.

A smiling Galileo at our first meeting. I suspect he knows he’s going to his forever home.

Tomorrow, we’re picking up a new member of the family. He’s a 2-year-old schnoodle (schnauzer-poodle mix) named Galileo. He’s a bit of a mess, with dingleberries and mats, crusty eyes, epilepsy, and a weight problem, but a heart of gold.

I admit we didn’t have the most positive first impression. He didn’t look anything like his pictures. (Doesn’t that figure? It felt like online dating!) Galileo was much bigger than I thought he’d be. He wasn’t white, and he was clearly not a schnauzer. He was also younger (the posting on Petfinder said he was five) and very neglected. Ben shrieked, “What’s wrong with his butt!” and was convinced the poor guy was unable to poop normally. It was a dire dingleberry situation. We attempted to pull off some of them, but they were cemented on. He clearly hadn’t been groomed in a long time.

And, he barked. He was a stressed out little man and, as chaos erupted around him (we met at Petsmart at an adoption event hosted by the rescue group), he responded vocally. Bark! Bark! Bark! I looked at Ben and made a face. But, we committed to taking him around the block for a test drive.

Galileo immediately quieted down. Once he was out of the chaos, he didn’t make a peep. Even after we brought him back to the store, he was silent. Whew!

He was good on a leash and happily met Hank and Dougal. They got along great and acted like old friends. There was none of the usual puffing up or acting macho; the three settled into an odd familiarity. It felt like Galileo was already part of the family.

We tested him on some basic commands and he did pretty well.

Turns out, Galileo has been to shelters twice in his short life. He was first picked up as a stray in Los Angeles. He was adopted out to a family, but, when the mom got terminally ill, her kids returned him to the shelter. The local rescue transported him to Oregon six weeks ago for a better chance at adoption.

He only seems to have one bad (and funny) habit. After he pees, he grunts and kicks dirt everywhere! He goes absolutely bonko! It was hilarious, but something we definitely want to stop.  He also has epilepsy, which seems to be well controlled with medication. We’ll be taking him to our vet soon to make sure his meds are at the right dosage and to learn how to care for a dog with his condition.

I’m nervous about bringing in a new pack member, but it’s a happy nervousness. Barley has been gone six months now and I’m finally at the point when I don’t think it would be an insult to him to bring in another family member. Barley had a great life. I loved him more than anything. If I can pass on a bit of that to another dog, give it a good, long life, then I’m honoring Barley the best way I know how.

Our first order of business will be a hot bath and a grooming. After that, we’ll settle on a name change. Right now, we’re thinking Otis, but we’ll let the little guy tell us what name he’d like.

Sauerkraut Saturday (aka What’s That Smell?)

Our 'Kraut Master

Our ‘Kraut Master

A few weeks ago, I spent a foggy Saturday morning at a local farm learning how to make sauerkraut. The class was taught by a white-haired, bearded gentleman from the local extension service. Apparently, it’s an annual event that draws a standing room only crowd (trust me, I was standing).

Using an ancient, wooden ‘kraut cutter, our ‘kraut master made quick work of five huge heads of green cabbage, shredding it while managing to maintain a conversation with the crowd. No fingers were lost, though he noted he now wore a metal mesh glove when shredding. He lost a bit of finger previously. He was exceptionally fast. The resulting cabbage was mixed with salt and stuffed tightly into a glass jar, which was then topped with a sealed plastic bag full of brine (a fancy word for saltwater).

My two jars the day they were made. So pretty!

My two jars the day they were made. So pretty!

The whole thing was extraordinarily fast and very unscientific. When asked how we would know the ‘kraut was ready, he muttered a vague answer about it looking transparent, but not transparent. Then he quickly added that any pink or purple ‘kraut should be trashed without sampling. That’s the bad stuff, apparently.

After the lecture portion of the class, we were released to make our own ‘kraut, using tubs of pre-shredded cabbage. We had to bring our own jars, but everything else was provided. It was very cold and I wondered if blood would ever return to my fingers, but I salted and stuffed my cabbage into two half-gallon iced tea jars and tried to make small talk with my classmates. There were no takers. Apparently, sauerkraut class is very serious. No one laughed at my jokes.

Thankfully, I had my cabbage to cry into. More brine, anyone?

My jars of wannabe sauerkraut have been in my laundry room ever since. They are hidden in paper bags to keep out the light and, initially, there were pie pans underneath the jars to catch ‘kraut water runoff. They warned us of mold and fruitflies, but so far I’ve had problems with neither. The runoff water got pretty funky in the pie pans, but the jars themselves have been surprisingly clean.

I’m not sure if my ‘kraut is “transparent but not transparent,” but it’s definitely changing. It was green before, then white, and now it’s a kind of beige. There were a few smelly days, when Ben lovingly suggested we move it out to the garage, but it’s odorless now. (Or it’s just been around long enough I no longer notice the stink.)

I’ve never actually eaten sauerkraut before, so I’m not even sure if it’s delicious. I just made it because sauerkraut class sounded like a damn fine way to spend a Saturday. Plus, think of all the good bacteria I’m growing!