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A New Toy & A New Video

A New Toy & A New Video

Before my sister’s wedding in 2010, I bought a flip cam on a whim. Mike thought it was silly and we’d never use it. The video I made for our honeymoon changed his mind and he LOVED taking video from then on.

But with the last big video I made for our Spain/Andorra/France Vacation, we were at times less than thrilled with the quality of the flip cam. It didn’t “walk” well with us, meaning while I held it and walked, it just wasn’t very steady and bounced everywhere. Annoying. Also, the battery life was pretty short and took a ridiculous amount of time to charge.

So we were ready to upgrade. After a bunch of research and looking at a million and a half reviews of cameras, we settled on the Panasonic HDC-TM900 HD camera.

via amazon

On Panasonic’s website, it retailed for $1099, but the price was knocked down to $989. On Amazon, it was $758. BUT, I decided to look at slightly used cameras to see if there were any practically new ones listed for less. There were. There were a TON of cameras with “slight cosmetic imperfections” listed for only $468. I scooped one up with one of those listed cosmetic imperfections and sent it to the parents of one of Mike’s coworkers in California. That coworker was going home the next week, so he picked up the camera for us and brought it back in his luggage…yay for no ridiculous shipping fees! It felt like a risky purchase since we wouldn’t be able to return the camera if there was something wrong with it, but we took the chance.

This camera with the “slight cosmetic imperfection” is BRAND NEW. I can’t find a single cosmetic imperfection on it. It was wrapped up in all of the original packaging and all of the parts were still sealed in little baggies. Great. Deal. I can’t even TELL you how happy we were to save so much money on such a high-quality camera.

To supplement this awesome new toy, I also bought Final Cut Pro X and a Vimeo Plus membership. It’s interesting to feel like I’m actually putting my film major to some use at this point…I had forgotten how much I truly enjoy film. I don’t think I’ll be ready to go pro any time soon though 😉

So, since we’re mainly using this for our travels and trips and other adventures, we thought we’d give it a test run when we gave the dogs a bath yesterday. They never fail to crack us up when we give them a bath because they have such extreme emotions–complete misery at being in the bath, and then elation at getting to run around outside to dry themselves off.

We found it funny enough to document, anyway. So enjoy the short video of Wrigley and Zoe getting a bath!

Bath Time from Mandy Weger on Vimeo.

Wire Fox Terriers Wrigley and Zoe hate taking baths, but love running outside to dry themselves afterward! Shot with the Panasonic HDC-TM900. Music by Yonderboi.

Have you ever bought something used and gotten such a great deal? Would you have taken the risk to buy a used model?

Tired, but Good

Tired, but Good

Well, we made it through the night last night. Zoe’s pain seemed to get worse before it got better, but when she finally did feel better, she got some restful sleep. More sleep than Mike or I got last night, in fact. I just feel bad that he is working today out at sea and is out of cell/email range. I want him to know that she’s okay.

So here’s what seems to have happened. She might have eaten too fast. She had excess gas in her stomach. If the gas wasn’t released, it could have caused her stomach to flip.

Let me tell you, I’ve never been happier to sit in stinky dog farts than I was this morning as she was toot tooting away.

She’s back to walking around normally, but she’s very tired as she didn’t get a lot of sleep last night. Wrigley didn’t either. None of us did. I forgot to eat dinner last night in the midst of everything, so I’m battling either taking a nap or grabbing some food. But either way, I’m just SO HAPPY that she’s okay. SO HAPPY.

Since I’ve been living in Spain especially, my dogs have become the main source of comfort and happiness in my life (besides Mike of course). I always loved them deeply, but since moving here I depend on them much more for their companionship. I was inconsolable last night as I contemplated losing that companionship. It’s just unbearable.

And I know that I will lose her some day. And it could be over similar circumstances for all I know. And it will just be horrible. These dogs have made such a permanent impression on my heart. They are not just dogs to me, they are family. They are always happy and loving and willing to lick my nose to cheer me up. My heart and life feels full with them in it.

So here’s what I learned through this, that way if this ever happens to your dog, you can recognize the symptoms:

  1. Make sure your pup eats slowly. I never considered Zoe a fast eater, but sometimes the size of kibble can have an impact on this too. We feed them relatively large kibble pieces, so we will be changing to smaller pieces.
  2. Don’t let your pup drink too much water after running. Like, a ridiculous amount of water, basically. Again, I’ve never seen Zoe consume what I considered to be waaay too much water, but I will be monitoring her more carefully.
  3. Don’t feed the dog a lot of fermented cheeses. Okay, I admit I give Zoe little pieces of cheese here and there, but the amount that the vet indicated was WAY more than I’ve probably ever given her in her lifetime. But again, I will not be giving her fermented cheese anymore to prevent this.

Symptoms that she had:

  1. A curved back, which looked like she was hunched over. Holding her head toward the ground.
  2. A distended stomach
  3. Walking stiffly
  4. Excess drool

If these symptoms occur in your dog, please please take him/her to the vet. Pablo told me that the curved back with the head to the ground means that she is in a lot of pain. Thank goodness that she was laying down most of the night and was only in that position for a few heartbreaking moments.

I just can’t tell you how relieved and happy that I am that she’s okay. Reading your comments a million and a half times last night as I stroked her made me feel so much better, so thank you to each and every one of you who reached out, and to everyone else who still kept her in your thoughts. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

This little girl thanks you too.

Dear Zoe,

Dear Zoe,

I am sitting on the floor by your side right now. You are in a lot of pain…you’re shaking and whimpering, which you never do. Your vet from back in the States said you were one of the toughest dogs he’d seen, so I know this must be terrible for you.

I’m not sure what happened today. You were a happy, wonderfully playful dog today, and then you accidentally got out of the yard while I was cleaning the house. I didn’t notice you were gone and I have no idea how long you were outside of the gate. 1 hour? More?

When I found you, you ran back inside the yard, as playful as ever and very very dirty. I gave you and Wrigley baths because your big adventure apparently involved a lot of dirt. I toweled you down, and that’s when I first noticed something might be wrong. Usually after a bath, you run around like crazy, rolling on the floor to try to get dry. This afternoon, you didn’t do that. I thought maybe you were tired, but about a half an hour later when I fed you dinner, you were shaking and ate slowly. Your back was arched a little bit and it seemed like you were in pain.

When I let you outside to do your business, I got alarmed. You weren’t walking right. Your back legs were stiff, you were shaking and you looked scared. I tried calling Mike, but he was on the ship out at sea without any cell phone service.

I called our good friend Maria and told her you weren’t well. She was over with her boys within 5 minutes. She called the vet for us and brought you and Wrigley in to see him. I cried in the car on the way as I held you in my lap. I felt like a horrible person for not doing something sooner.

Pablo, the vet, was very kind and looked you over. He said that you had pain in your intestines. I didn’t know what that meant. He said it could have been something you ate, but I don’t recall you eating anything very unusual lately. You had a bandage on your foot last week that you ate some of it off, and perhaps you ate some sticks, but maybe you got into something bad while you were out of the yard today. I might not know.

But Pablo said that we should monitor you tonight and make sure your mouth stays pink. If it turns purple-to-blue, that means there is an emergency with your stomach and it might have flipped. If that happens, you will need surgery. I’m trying not to think of the outcome of Marley at the end of Marley and Me when I contemplate this issue. My tears flowed very freely while Pablo told me of that possibility.

I’m very scared. I think you are too and I wish I could take that away for you. I wish I could make you feel better, but you seem to be laying down as comfortably as possible on your pillow, which Pablo said was the best thing for you tonight. Your beard is slick with excess drool, but I’m trying to keep it clean for you. I’m trying to give you gentle scratches and rubs on your head and shoulders to let you know that I’m here. I’m checking your gums and tongue often for any signs of purple or blue discoloration. I’m worried because your gums have never been *just pink* but I’m keeping a close eye on any changes. Your twitching and shaking is just killing me.

I love you so, so much. It’s really impossible how much I love you, honestly. You have become one of the best companions of my life, and I never thought that I would have to go through something so scary with you in only your third year of life. I don’t feel prepared enough for this. I feel like I should be doing more. I can’t imagine losing you while I’m so far away from home and in a country that isn’t mine. What would I do? What would your dad do? What would your brother do?

I am very, very scared. All I can hope is that you make it through the night as well as possible, and that tomorrow Pablo will declare you all better, or at least on the road to it. I hope you won’t need any surgery, and I hope that whatever it is that is causing you pain is expelled from your system soon.

I love you so, so much. Get well soon.

Fragas do Eume

Fragas do Eume

Gosh, it’s probably been more than a month since we went to Fragas do Eume, but I absolutely love the photos we took from this adventure, so I wanted to share them with you. Apologies for two posts about my dogs back-to-back, but they’re so freakin’ cute that I’m sure you don’t mind.



Well, regardless, I think the photos are pretty cool. Fragas do Eume is a natural park about 10-15 minutes from our home, and it has the Eume river running through it. The North of Spain has some very different vegetation than the south, and is probably not what most people expect. We have pine trees, we have palm trees, we have rolling green hills and pastures…and we have eucalyptus. Lots and lots of eucalyptus trees.

Eucalyptus trees aren’t necessarily a good thing. They aren’t good for the soil as they require a lot of water, and so it can affect crops in the area if there are too many eucalyptus. And eucalyptus also affects the atmosphere…because of the oil the tree produces, it can give off a distinct blueish haze into the air, which looks like fog or steam. It also makes the Eume river BRIGHT turquiose because of this oil.

The forest itself is largely protected from the invasive eucalyptus, but since it surrounds the park, we still got to see the bright blue water.

I did not photoshop or enhance these photos in any way, so the colors really are that vivid!

Doesn’t really look like Spain, huh? All of the trees are covered in squishy, bright green moss. I almost felt like I was on another planet, especially with that turquoise river we hiked along. Also, if you look closely at the river, you’ll be able to see that it is still incredibly clear–We could see to the bottom even in the middle of the river when we were on the bank.

Why yes, I did make my dog sit on a tree stump just to get the right photo moment.

And yes, we have groomed their faces since these photos were taken, so we can see Zoe’s eyes now.


We’ll definitely be going back to Fragas do Eume–we had a great time and it was so beautiful. We’d love to explore more of the trails and maybe indulge in a picnic.

Speaking of picnics, we are very excited to be going on one tomorrow in another location!! I’ll be sure to write about that next week 🙂

Have a good weekend!


Dog’s Day at the Beach

Dog’s Day at the Beach

Wrigley and Zoe were in for QUITE a treat when we took them to the beach down the street from us…we let them off leash for the first time!

I was terrified. They ran EVERYWHERE. They jumped off of high rocks. They ran out of the one and only exit and we had to chase them down again. It was definitely a fun experience for all though, and I was very happy to be able to get these photos of their awesome day.

This beach has no idea what’s about to hit it.

Then Zoe decided she didn’t like being wet and rolled around in the sand for about 5 minutes…

Then I had to worry about Wrigley jumping to his death…

Wrigley was then a bad role model for Zoe, who decided to climb the rocks and jump too…

After a little while, the stunts got more and more extreme, so we leashed them back up and took them home.

I think we will do it again because I do want to try to work with them on recall when they are off-leash. Wrigley is much better at coming when called than Zoe is, and I’d like to eventually get to a point where she would come to me even if she accidentally got away. She IS a Wire Fox Terrier though, so we’ll see. 🙂

I just love seeing them have so much fun. Have you let your dogs off-leash? How do they handle it?

Getting Settled

Getting Settled

Well, we’re here. It seemed like the longest travel day of my life, but we made it in to our new home Monday evening. So far, we’ve been on a crazy schedule, trying to get the things we need, forgetting a few items, and then going back to the store for the things we forgot, only to make it home and realize we need something else.

The dogs made it in today! They had an even longer travel schedule than we did, and honestly, I wouldn’t do that to them again. When they arrived, they were dehydrated and hadn’t been given hardly any of the food that we had packed with them. Their cages were filthy and smelly, and they were badly in need of a bath.

But as soon as they were let out into their big, new yard, they acted like the dogs we know and love. And when they reached the pool, without a second’s hesitation, Wrigley leaped in and started swimming!! They’ve never even seen a swimming pool before, much less had ever swam before, so I was certain I’d have to jump in the pool to rescue him. He paddled right to the side though and tried to lift himself out, but I had to pull him.

Not much later, Zoe did the same thing, and Wrigley repeated himself not long after that. We’re going to have to give them swimming lessons fast so they’ll know what to do if they jump in the pool and so we don’t have to fish them out every time.

I do think that they’ve been traumatized by the trip though…this evening when we put them to bed, they cried and howled and it broke our hearts to hear it, but we figure it’ll just take time for them to get used to their new home. It’s an incredible amount to take in at once for them, and I’m just hoping that they’ll make the transition quickly so they’re more comfortable. It’s times like these that make me want to let them in the bed with us, but I definitely wouldn’t want to make a habit of it, so I’ll let them adjust on their own time. Any tips from dog owners who moved & had a stressed out dog?

On top of their stress, Mike and I have quite a bit more stress at a close call we had this evening…apparently, some neighbor cats are used to coming and going as they please on our property. One very friendly cat happened to be inside the walls when the dogs were let out, and it was verrry close to becoming a heartbreaking mess we want to avoid like the plague. I mean, cats are fast and can jump high, but our dogs are hunters and we have no doubt would kill any cat that they came in contact with. It’s not a good feeling thinking we have to check the property for cats before we let the dogs out. Will the cats learn to stay out? I hope they do before it’s too late.

I’ll upload more pictures soon, I promise! Our internet isn’t connected yet, so we’re using our phones as a wireless hotspot, and pictures take foreeeverrr to load if they even load at all.

Drywall Devils

Drywall Devils

I’ve mentioned before that my dogs are very high-energy. I’ve also mentioned before that if they don’t get enough exercise/stimulation/attention that they eat drywall.

I’m not joking.

Today, while Mike was in the basement working out and while I was sleeping, the dogs did this:

Need a closer look?

Yeah. Our walls really are that dirty. Trust me, I’ve cleaned them many, many times but the dogs are determined to wipe their almost constantly dirty paws/faces/bodies all over the walls.

So. We have quite a hole in the wall. Not that this is the ONLY one in the house.

Both of these are on the same wall leading to our hallway.

That white area used to be covered by more molding. Ate that off.

And can you see that small strip of wall between the moldings? That’s actually a strip of cardboard used to cover this:

It’s MAJOR. Two feet in height major.

Majorly embarrassing to show you guys too, because seriously, our house has looked like this for a long. time.

We’ve spackled many other holes around the house that the dogs have created, including the one above. Doesn’t matter. They’ll pick a spot on the wall and go at it like there’s buried treasure underneath. No amount of “bitter” spray can hold them at bay.

Now, they don’t do this often. It’s rare anymore that they’ll chew at drywall and wood moldings, but…it still happens, like this morning.

And we have to fix it before we leave. So I’m gonna get my spackle and sander out and get to work.

Ugh. These dogs. Does anyone else’s dog tend to eat drywall?

Poor Wriggles

Poor Wriggles

So much for scheduling posts and writing while we were tripping through the Midwest while visiting family. Oops. In my defense, we were pretty busy. Not much of a defense, but I’m back, nevertheless.

Anyway, when we went to pick up the dogs from the Best Friends kennel yesterday, I checked Wrigley’s eyes because he has always had very goopy eyes and I requested that the kennel check them and clean them when they needed to be cleaned. I specifically told the front desk THREE times to check his eyes regularly before I released the dogs to them to keep.

Well, Wrigley’s left eye looked AWFUL.

Some of the hair is missing, it’s a bit swollen, his skin is purple, and his eyes were extremely goopy.

I was NOT happy. I asked why this issue hadn’t concerned the people there at the kennel, and they said that because he already had eye issues, they thought it was normal. In the nearly three years that Wrigley has been alive, I’ve NEVER seen his eyes look like that, so I knew that it was abnormal. He’s also been a regular dog at this kennel…once every few months at least, and the kennel knows us and our dogs. I was extremely upset that this issue hadn’t given them the least bit of concern, but again, they repeated that since he already had eye issues, they didn’t think anything of it. Pardon me, but if a person specifically asks you to check their dog’s eyes, and then something WEIRD happens to the dog’s eye, it doesn’t give you a free pass–it probably means you weren’t cleaning the dog’s eyes enough.

Personally, I think that if a dog’s eye changes DRASTICALLY in the 6 days that you have him, a red flag or two should be raised. Maybe just a yellow flag. A flag of some color, right? I took him to the vet immediately, and it seems as if 1) they didn’t clear out his eyes often enough and 2) he has a dry eye issue, which is causing an overproduction of mucus. We had previously been told by the vet that since his eyes were just set back far in his head, THAT was the only issue and if we just cleaned out his eyes regularly, he’d be fine.

Now, it looks like it was something a bit bigger.

Wrigley has had medical issues since we brought him home from his rescuer (they were puppy mill dogs)–he has a pretty severe overbite, which caused his lower canines to puncture his upper soft pallet. He had to have both baby and both adult teeth removed.

Wrigley’s overbite (left) is pretty obvious in this photo of him as a 5 month old puppy

He’s had these eye issues as well, and the vet seems to think that his head just might not have developed quite right, and his tear ducts could be deformed, or just too small. It could mean a lot of eye drops in his lifetime. A lot. We have to wait 30 days to see how he responds to the eyedrops the vet gave us before we know how to proceed throughout his life.

And so I feel like I’ve been hit with a double-whammy here: my dog isn’t at top health, and the people who watch them while we’re out of town just aren’t giving him the attention and care that he needs.

It brings up a lot of fears about his future–will he be as healthy as Zoe? Will he live as long? Will we discover more issues later in his life? More presently, we are travelers. Will kenneling him be worse for his health? How can we find a kennel who will love him like we do without spending a fortune? Should we just spend a fortune because he’s our dog and we love him, and isn’t that better than the alternative of him getting sick?

They aren’t fun questions, and I’m primarily just concerned with how deep this issue is and how it will effect his future, as well as who to trust the dogs with while we’re traveling. In the meantime, he’s an extremely happy-go-lucky dog and doesn’t seem to be bothered by his issues, which makes me feel better. I think he’s still recovering though, because he’s definitely not as chipper as his usual self.

He’s a very special boy–he gets TWO pillows on the couch.

Hopefully once he sleeps off his excessive drowsiness (he’s always tired after a stay at the kennel) and his eye turns back to a better color, he’ll be back to normal. Poor guy.

For those of you with pets-do you leave them at a kennel while traveling? How did you choose your kennel & how happy are you with your experiences? I’ll be looking for another kennel to see if there are any better ones in this area. Leaving them with family/traveling with them isn’t a possibility and I’m afraid hiring someone to come and stay with them in our home would be too expensive. Any tips/advice/well wishes for poor little Wriggles?