Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy (Be-Lated) Birthday Bosco-(Queen Victoria's Pug)            

Thursday, April 24, marked the birthday of Queen Victoria's pug, Bosco.   Actually the Queen owned many pugs, as many as thirty six during her life time (now thats a life well lived!). Bosco was a particular favorite, however, and was Prince Alexander's special pet.   In the above picture you can see that though pugs had longer noses in the past, the adorable cobby body and tummy has stayed much the same, as has the pugs fondness for humans and furniture.       Bosco really reminds me of my Tubby

You can read about Bosco in the wonderful book Noble Hounds and Dear Companions.  There are some pictures of other charming pugs in there as well.

As any history buff knows, Queen Victoria was like me and loved all dogs, not just pugs.   Bosco shared his home with Greyhounds, Spaniels, Labs, Pomeranian, etc.   (as well as cats and birds)

Below is  Queen Victoria's Dogs and Parrot by Sir Edwin Landseer, RA 1802-1873. c.1833-1834.  It depicts two grey hounds, a parrot, and a cavalier on cushion.

So Bosco lived in a true menagerie, just like my own dogs (albeit in less luxurious digs). 

The hounds in their back yard (and the late lamented Bingo being petted by me) This picture is from about 2 years ago.

In honor of Bosco's belated birthday I decided to celebrate with an English Pudding (that's British for dessert).  I cheated though and used a recipe from an American cook, my favorite TV Cook Ina Garten, in my humble opinion she can do no wrong.

Summer Pudding with Rum Whipped Cream

  • 1 pint strawberries , cored and sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 pints raspberries , plus additional for garnish
  • 1 pint blueberries , plus additional for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons framboise (or other raspberry liqueur)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds brioche or other egg bread (I used Challah)
  • 1 cup (1/2 pint) heavy cream , cold
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
Combine strawberries, sugar and 1/4 cup water in a large (6- to 8-quart) saucepan and cook uncovered over medium-low heat 5 minutes. Add 2 cups raspberries and all blueberries and cook 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture simmers. Continue cooking 1 minute. Remove from heat and add remaining raspberries and framboise.

Slice bread into 1/2-inch-thick slices and remove crusts. Ladle about 1/2 cup cooked berry mixture into bottom of souffle dish (approximately 7 1/2 inches across by 3 inches high). Arrange one layer of bread slices side by side in a circular pattern (this will become the top when pudding is unmolded); add more berry mixture to saturate. Continue adding bread, slicing to fit mold, and berry mixture. Finish with bread, and top with any remaining berry mixture.

Cover pudding loosely with plastic wrap and place a plate (with approximately the same diameter as inside of mold) on top. Weight with a heavy can and refrigerate. Remove weight after 6 to 8 hours. Continue to refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.

To make topping:
In a small bowl, whip cream until it starts to thicken. Add sugar, vanilla and rum. Continue to whip until stiff peaks form.

Run a knife around outside of pudding; unmold upside down onto a serving plate. Garnish with fresh fruit. Serve in wedges with whipped cream.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Pug Pignic

On Saturday the Urban  Hound puggies got to attend the Delaware Valley Pug Club picnic at Challenge Grove Park in Cherry Hill NJ. It was a long drive, an hour and a half, but we rarely use our car and the hounds love rides.  We made sure to take the non-pugs, for a good long walk in Liberty state park, and then Tubby and Ping got buckled into their safety harnesses for the drive.  The picnic wasn't very crowded but there were nice people there and cute pugs, of course.  We met a little rescue girl pug for adoption, only a year old, and a few very cute show pugs.   There was also a Chinese auction to benefit pug rescue but we had to leave before the items were raffled off.   The best park according to Tubs and Ping were the hot dogs!

More Hot Dogs Please

Walking in Challenge Grove Park

Ping and Dad

Tubby and Mom

On the way home we had to stop at Canis Minor, the local doggie boutique, to get some treats for Dr. Zira and some toys for Norbert  and Bob since they didn't get to go on the picnic and thus needed extra spoiling.  Tubby waited in the car with Dad while mom and Ping went inside to shop.

Get something for me!
When we got home everyone enjoyed the treats.  Norbert loved his new Bad Cuz toy, they are his favorite toy, here he is with an older one:

Bob was having a great time too, playing with his Planet Dog ball, but now we can't seem to find it!  Guess we will be buying another one next week.  We hope everyone else had a great weekend too.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tornado Dog

May 15  marked L Frank Baum's birthday.  As probably nearly everyone knows, L Frank Baum is the author is the author of the children's classic The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and the creator of Toto one of the best and most enduring canine characters in literature.  In the story Toto and his mistress Dorothy get picked up by a tornado and transplanted to the magical land of Oz.   Dorothy and Toto remain loyal to each other throughout their adventures and finally make their way back home to Kansas.  I think reading the book as a child, and seeing the movie repeatedly, is what started my initial fascination with dogs.  

Sadly, many of the dogs who are victims of the terrible tornadoes in the southern and western states are not as lucky as Toto.  The latest story is about a dog named Mason who was picked up by a tornado in Alabama.    After the twister Mason's family looked for him in the debris, but they couldn't find him.

  Two weeks later he crawled home on two broken legs and when his owners came to look through the debris of their demolished home, they found Mason sitting on the front porch.  Sadly, Mason's owners cannot care for him right now and have asked the local shelter to take him.   The plan is for Mason to return to his original family after they get their lives back together or to be adopted to a new loving family.  I understand Mason's family is going through a truly terrible time, that I cant even comprehend.  However, I truly hope they can take Mason back soon.  Dogs are members of our families and our responsibility and should not be set aside any more easily then we would set aside our human relatives.    If Mason's family cant take him back I hope the shelter will find a wonderful loving forever home for him and all the other dogs and cats who lost their homes in the tornado.  For a dog, to show such loyalty and bravery in trying to get back to his family, and then to wind up in the shelter is truly heart breaking.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ping's 8th birthday Tea Party-God Save Princess Ping

8 years ago I got this picture in my hot mail inbox and learned that love at first sight is possible.   I decided right away that she was the girl pug for me and a few weeks later she flew to New York from Montana. 

Today is Ping's guesstimated 8th birthday.  She is definitely quite a bit greyer now but still cute as a button

Here she is in her Anthropologie dress, one of her birthday gifts that I bought months ago and saved for the big day, with her other presents
A pint sweatshirt, Snout Soother and Coco therapy chips, all from from Olive Green Dog.  
Here she is with the opened presents
Ping also got a bike basket from Cynthias twigs so that she can join us on rides, but unfortunately it rained all day so we couldn't take it for a spin.
Instead we stayed in and had a nice Sunday afternoon tea party.  I made Ping an Oatmeal Raspberry Tea Bread Dog Birthday Cake
Here is the recipe:

Ping's Oatmeal Raspberry Tea Break Cake 
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1 cup quick cooking oats
    • 1 egg
    • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/4 cup honey
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 bag frozen raspberries or 1 ping fresh raspberries


  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F  and line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
  • In a small bowl, combine milk and oats; let soak for 15 minutes.
  • In a separate bowl, beat together egg and oil, add the honey and stir into the oatmeal mixture.
  •  Sift the flour, baking powder and salt directly into the oatmeal mixture and stir, add the bag of frozen raspberries or the pint of fresh raspberries and stir again.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
  • I frosted Ping's cake with low fat cottage cheese.
Ping definitely seemed to enjoy her cake (as did her siblings)

For the human guests at Ping's party (just her mom and dad)

I made Scones from a recipe from one of the best restaurants in New York Tea and Sympathy.  They are definitely the most delicious scones ever, and easy to make, but they don't keep well.  Here is the recipe:

Tea and Sympathy Cream Scones
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 table.spoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups heavy cream

1. Preheat the oven to 375"F.
2. Sift all the dry ingredients into a large bowl.
3. Add the heavy cream and mix gently. Do not over mix. If the mixture is very
sloppy, add a little more flour.
4. By hand spread out the dough on a floured surface to 1-inch thickness.
5. Cut out scones with a two-inch cookie cutter and place them on an ungreased
baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes.
6. Cool on a wire rack

You need to serve these with Raspberry Jam and clotted cream for the real experience.

After you make these scones you must brew up a pot of loose leaf tea following carefully the instruction for a proper cup of tea.  

Then you can settle down with a nice British book to read to your hounds while you listen to the rain outside, I recommend Life with Jeeves by PG Wodehouse  or The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

That makes for a good birthday, even if it rains.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Happy Birthday Fred Astaire!

Today marks the 112 birthday of Fred Astaire (May 10, 1899 – June 22, 1987), my favorite film star who had an incredible career that spanned 76 years.  
 Here is a clip of what I think is his best dance from Broadway Melody of 1940 with Elanor Powell.

  Fred was an animal lover and particularly fond of horses.   As the following image from Wikipedia illustrates. 
 He writes about his horses in his autobiography Steps in TimeAstaire also shared his home with at least one pit bull terrier, but I can't find any photographs.   There is also this scene from Shall We Dance in which he walks a succession of dogs in order to get Ginger Roger's  attention.  

 In testament to Astaire's ongoing fame and popularity even twenty five years after his death.  I found several dogs and cats listed on pet finder that are named after him.     Here is one kitty

and one dog.

Lets hope the both find wonderful homes that make them feel like dancing!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day
If you are reading this blog you could probably wear one of these shirts from Cafe Press or if you are feeling a bit irreverent and don't have any human children, these ones:

I do think the observation that anyone who dotes on their dog or cat wants a baby is wrong, that is one reason that I love this essay by Ann Patchett.  Pet parenthood is obviously an idea that is catching on,  Seattle and San Francisco are two large cities that have more dogs then kids under the age of eighteen.  For the record, even though I don't plan on having children I do not think dogs or cats are better then kids or  vice-versa, they are just completely different.   I do think that all dog and cat moms, whether they have human children or not,  should spend some extra time with their fur babies on Mother's Day.   Maybe a nice long walk or brunch at an outdoor cafe.

 Here are some pictures of us enjoying mother's day:
Bob in his  Mommy's Boy Shirt

It is harder to see then Bob's Shirt, but Tubby's shirt says I heart Mom

Bob and Mom

Norbert and Mom

    Tubby and Zira outside Tommy Two Scoops where we had Mother's Day Lunch
Dad give me some food!

Ping among the Spring blossoms
                                          We hope everyone else had a wonderful day too!