Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Confessions of a Brew Hound

You might be asking yourself, huh, what? A dog writing on a brewery blog? Hey, technically I am the brains behind this operation. When my human dad, Paul, was playing around with the idea of opening up a brewery, me and my sister Marmalade were right there, working with him to come up with a sound idea. 

Marmalade was an interesting lass, full of energy, confidant to a fault, and a bit of an opera singer. Not bad for a lady who was pushing 64 in dog years. She had faults, sure, don’t we all? She was a bit of a nag, often pushing both me and Dad out the door to the backyard. I wasn't too happy with that, but boy . . . could she run! She seemed to run across the yard in what seemed like blinding speed. Dad would work tirelessly on his recipes, it got to the point where I just went to bed, I knew he was in good hands with my bloodhound sister. She would get into trouble though, see, when Dad wasn't looking after emptying out his mash tun, Marmalade was right there to, uhmmm . . . ” clean it up.” She meant well, but she ended up making two messes, one on the floor, and well, okay it went out the other end and onto the floor. Dad wasn't all too happy.

 Marmalade, or as Mom liked to call her, “Marmie,” I suspected her of having a drinking problem. It’s one thing to drink out of the toilet (not me, ewww that’s where humans squat and lift their legs), but to blatantly go out of her way when Dad wasn't looking, and drink his freshly poured beer??? She always left a little gift behind, too, her special signature of a pint full of slobber. I eat and sniff some pretty disgusting things, but wow, that was pretty nasty even for me. I was the good boy, Dad rarely got cross with me. He’s really patient and I've done things that would piss off your average human.

Like this one time, I had just moved into my new home, I had a little too much to drink and really needed to go. Dad was outside and I had no way of opening the door, okay I might be able to type, but open doors? That’s a whole different thing, I wait for them to be opened for me. Anyway, I couldn't hold it any longer, so I went right on the living room floor. I heard the key in the door, “Oh no!” I thought to myself, “I have to do something about this really quick or Dad might send me away!” With split second thinking, I went upstairs into that chamber of horrors known as the bathroom, the very place that thing … a bathtub resides. Oh the horror! Just when you work up the perfect stink, the humans have to wash it all off. So, my humans are obsessed with washing their hairless bodies, I don’t understand why they can't just lick themselves clean like me. They use this special mint soap, Eureka! This will clean that spill right up! I grabbed it in my mouth and just as Dad comes in, he catches me spraying the soap all over the puddle of pee. I had no idea how much to use, so I used it all. Oh I thought I was going to get it, but instead he was impressed that I had made the effort to attempt to clean up my own mess. Sure he hated the aftermath, but he told me later that he couldn't get mad at me for trying to solve my own problem. So there you go, I’m the brains of this operation.

I have a double coat, so I take a bit of a vacation during the summer and relax in the AC at home while Dad and his brewers steam the place up with bubbling wort. When it gets colder, I love going with him, even at the dog awful 4 AM hour. All he has to say is, “Hey Bernie, let’s go to work.” I yank my special seat belt harness off it’s hook in the kitchen and try to put it on myself with not a lot of luck. I can get it around my head, but Dad has to do the rest. I love the peace and quiet that early in the morning, I enjoy my kibble while he drinks his coffee and fills up the hot liquor tank. Dad commended me once from keeping him from going crazy. We had gone to work as usual, his other brewer couldn't make it in on account of some snow. It wasn't a lot, but traffic really slowed down to a grinding halt. We were stuck in the car for around 8 hours. Dad let me sit on the passenger front seat so he could talk to me better, and even gave me his coat when he noticed me shivering. We made it home, Mom was relieved to see us and she gave me a special treat and something for Dad too. His food looked better, so I tried to buy it off of him from the little stash of Milkbones I had put away for a rainy day. It didn't work.

 One more story and then I'm going to sign off, recently I supervised my Dad harvesting his homegrown hops. We wasn't around too long because he was going to run back to the brewery and do something called “Wet Hopping.” That was actually my idea . . . and he knew it. He even named it after me and called it “Bernie’s Backyard Harvest Ale.” I hear it was delicious. If they still have some, you should try it. If not, there’s always next year.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Munch: From Feral to Forever Home

Hi everyone, Ilonka the human here. Long time no blog, I know. Apologies for the long absence. It's been a busy few months with hound and cats, but everyone is well.

I saw the story of Meatie the feral cat online the other day and it prompted me to share the full story of our newest family member, Munch. http://lovemeow.com/2010/05/from-fear-to-trust-story-of-a-feral-cat/

Munch was born outside to a Maine Coon mother (our Mrs. Emma Peel) who was dumped outside while young and pregnant. She did her best with her two kittens. We think one is being taken care of by someone nearby, but Munch stayed close to our house, even after we managed to trap his Mom and get her spayed and vaccinated. (She decided at that point that she likes humans and came inside.) We tried in vain for two years to trap young Munch, but he was a smart one and got the tuna out every time without springing the trap.

I worried about him and fed him twice a day for two years. He survived the biggest snow storm in decades under our porch. I dug out paths for him to get to his food and water, boiled water for him so it wouldn't freeze, and tried to keep him healthy. I tried trapping him again last July and FINALLY succeeded! He was not amused and let us know it. Off he went for his neuter appointment at the feral cat clinic. We agonized over what to do the day we went to pick him up--we wanted to adopt him and keep him indoors, but would he adjust? We couldn't bear to put him back out into the hundred degree heat or freezing cold, in constant fear for his safety. Paul, the other human in the household, agreed to try to bring Munch in and give him a good life.

It was a difficult first few weeks. We took him up to my office upstairs and he hid in the closet for over a month. I would go in and sit with him, work on the computer, play classical music, watch movies sitting on the floor with him--I tried everything. He would inhale his food, hiss and spit at me, and go back to hiding. It was the hardest and most discouraging time. I really wasn't sure if he would ever overcome his fear. Happily he was relatively healthy--just needed to gain weight and fill out, which he did quite successfully.

As the summer progressed, Munch started getting braver. He came out to eat, sometimes attacking my feet in the process. He also started engaging in play with cat toys. September came and he seemed a bit more confident. Then, one day he stood next to me and rubbed up against my legs. I was overjoyed! I decided to reach down and stroke his back, thinking that I might lose my hand in the process... to my surprise, he responded with more rubbing and nuzzling. We took it slow--he was still fearful, but would come and sit on my desk. He also learned to purr again--I guess he never purred while he was outside by himself. It was sweet--he sounded like he was wheezing at first, then he put his voice into it. Happily, he now purrs like a jet engine.

I moved him to the guest room after a while and stayed with him for a few months. He started off under the bed, then slowly got comfortable on the bed. Now, on the nights that Paul gets up before dawn, I bunk with Munch--he loves to snuggle and is up as soon as the alarm clock goes off, demanding his breakfast. He loves to be brushed and has gotten used to being held and kissed--that took a while. We had a real test in January with his first vet visit. He passed with flying colors. He was quiet and cooperated, and when the tech gave him back to me, he clung to me and would not let go.

Munch is getting used to living with Bernie hound as well. They have moments of hiss and growl, but they are fewer and fewer. His mother, Emma Peel, was not amused to have to share her domain with another cat. They're slowly working it out--it's a process. Bottom line--both cats and safe indoors, are recovered from their difficult lives, have regained their health, and know love every single day. He still has fearful moments, but they are few and far between. One day this winter, he sat on the window seat watching the snow flakes fall with a smug grin on his big Tom-cat face. He knew he was warm and safe and will never be cold and scared again.

They say when a feral comes around and finds his person, it's a bond for life. I have no doubt about that. I have loved many cats over the years, but this one is truly special. I hope to share many many years with my big guy, who has me wrapped around his massive paws.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Munch Chronicles

Hi everyone,
Bernie and Emma's human here. Just wanted to update you on our newest family member, Munch. He is doing very well. He's gained some weight and is adjusting to life as an indoor puss. He hissed a lot in the beginning and spent a few weeks in my office closet, but slowly he began to discover that humans aren't that scary and they do provide good food and treats. I also got him the "cat dancer"--the best cat toy ever. It drew him out of his shell like nothing else.

I even managed to film him in action.

Anyway, I will write more and I'm sure Bernie and E-kitty will have more updates soon. They're very curious about the new addition and might be meeting him in the next few weeks.
Happy fall!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A new addition

The humans finally succeeded in trapping E-kitty's not-so-small kitten. He's been living outside for the last year or so and has been a regular visitor to our porch feeding station. The humans kept trying to trap him, but he'd just swipe the tuna and take off. We finally got him Sunday night and off he went on Monday for his neuter and vaccination session. He came home on Monday night and has been recovering downstairs in a big dog crate. While not thrilled to be inside and confined, he is loving the regular meals. He's still quite scared and probably a bit cheesed off about losing the family jewels, but we think he'll come around. His name is Munch (after the Law and Order character). We have a detective theme going with the cats in the house. Anyway, there is always something going on at Hound & Coon HQ. Must nap to recover from all the activity. Happily, the morning Coon-cat smack-downs have stopped for the moment. Paws crossed.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Morning conversations

Hi everyone. Bernie and E-kitty here. Hope you're enjoying the summer. We've been really busy--lots of visitors and good times. It's been awfully hot out but we're hanging in there. Hope you like the pic of us lounging in bed--we wish the humans would get the hint and just sleep on the sofa--more room for everyone! Anyway, we just wanted to share this morning's conversation with you (the humans, once fully awake, thought it was hilarious).

E-kitty: Meowwww! Chirp! Mrrrr-row! It's breakfast time! Let's get up, people!

B-hound: Snore... (One eye opens) Leave me alone. Need to sleep. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

E-kitty: Niaoouuuuuuuuuu! Chirp! (Swats Bernie's head). Come on--feed me!

B-hound: (Eyes both open, lifts head slowly) Grrrrr. Leave. Me. Alone. Zzzzzzzzzz...

E-kitty: (Pounces onto the bed, yowls, and continues swatting Bernie's head) Feed me! I'm starving! It's 6:30! Seriously people!

B-hound: Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! Do NOT disturb!

E-kitty: Hmmm... teeth showing might not be a good thing. Will dive onto humans and see what they do. (Chorus of ouches follows)

As you can see, E is a morning person, while B is definitely NOT.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, the humans and Bernie had a little cat follow them home during a late night walk. He had a tag (his name was Midnight), but nobody answered when the humans called, so they decided to keep him in the bedroom. B thought Midnight was really cute, E did not and wanted the invader out of her house. Happily his family came for him the next day, but he certainly did not hesitate to make himself comfy while he was with us.

Monday, June 13, 2011

E-GAD--what a week!

Hi all,
Bernie here. What a week it's been... Hundred degree temperatures, no rain in sight, and poor E coming down with an infection. She was really sick--you know you have to worry when E won't eat. Anyway, the human took her to the vet and they discovered a really high fever and kept her there for a few hours. She was amazingly cooperative (a miracle given the fuss she makes when being groomed) but was very happy to see the human and come home later that evening. I did my happy dance and offered her my toys when she arrived home. She was definitely happy to be back.

I'm also helping her out by finishing her leftovers. The humans get really mad, but waste not, want not, I say!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Snoozing our way into spring

Hi everyone. Bernie here. Our apologies for the lack of updates. E-kitty and I have been busy keeping the humans in line. In addition, we have spent the last few months snoozing and waiting for the weather to get better. We didn't really have a "snowpocalypse" this year, but it was cold and yucky and although E is an indoor cat, she loves sleeping in front of open windows and listening to the birds. As for me, my favorite thing, winter or spring, is sneaking upstairs and sleeping on the humans' pillows. I've recently figured out how to wedge open the gate at the bottom of the steps and have had long, satisfying naps on the bed. On my way to the bedroom, I usually stop and finish whatever is left in E-kitty's bowl. Waste not, want not, I say. The humans are not amused, but how can they get mad at a face like this? It's not possible!

The big gray Maine Coon may not snore like a hound, but she can nap with the best of them. She seems to be getting a bit big for her cat bed. I will have to alert the humans to put her on a diet--more cat food for me!