It’s Puppies! Austin Dog Rescue on Make a Difference Monday

Lindsay and a PuppyAustin Dog Rescue and a puppy to hug…gotta love it!

Over the past few days, Austin Dog Rescue has been offering a Puppy Kissing Booth in honor of Valentine’s Day. It’s a great way to celebrate the holiday (raise your hand if your pets give you more love than most people!), and a fun way to show off the puppies looking for their forever homes in Austin.

Mimi, one of the adorable dogs at Austin Dog Rescue

But as much as I loved the cuddles (as you can see in that first shot, where she snuggled up against my neck, and fell asleep!), I really enjoyed learning more about this wonderful group.

Austin is known for its focus on animal rescue and no-kill shelters, but that’s not an easy thing to pull off. Caring for dogs until the right home is found is expensive, and requires a committed group of volunteers who will work with the pups until they’re adopted.

Pile of Valentines puppies

And when it comes to Austin Dog Rescue, that also means finding the right foster home for each and every dog accepted into the group. Unlike rescues based in shelters, which are another essential piece of the animal rescue puzzle, these puppies and adult dogs are cared for in private homes where they can spend time socializing with people and other pets.

That home-based care was the goal when the group was founded in 2006. And since that start, it has worked to help them place over 1,000 homeless pups in loving homes in and around Austin. But they’re not done. Even after all those forever homes were found, there are still so many wonderful dogs waiting for their own home. And new homeless dogs appear every day.

Austin Dog Rescue event

The pups are great, but it all comes down to the volunteers

At Sunday’s event, I loved meeting the amazing rescue volunteers almost as much as playing with the dogs. There were teens and there were seniors, and all ages in between.  Some were foster moms and dads. Others were event volunteers. But you could see that each and every one of them loved these pups.

If you’re thinking about adding a pup to your family, please celebrate one of the best aspects of Austin and head to a rescue group like Austin Dog Rescue, Austin Pets Alive, Austin Cats’ Angels instead of a breeder or a pet shop. The love — and the chance to save a life —  is there waiting for you!

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Dogtoberfest comes to the Domain

Dogtober Fest Austin 2012

Dogtoberfest is one of Austin’s most popular annual canine festivals, featuring costume contests, breed rescue groups, and booths from the areas best dog care services and products.

When the Domain goes to the dogs, Halloween can’t be far behind. That’s because Dogtoberfest, one of the area’s most popular annual dog festivals is held there each October.

Sure,. the Domain is always dog-friendly.  But during Dogtoberfest, the upscale shopping and dining center is transformed into dog and dog-people heaven.

I lost count of the wonderful rescue groups there, each working to bring together people and pups (including my personal favorite, Austin Boxer Rescue (we have a rescued boxer mix, so we’re biased!)  Add to that dozens of booths offering information on training and boarding, another dozen or so more for gourmet dog treats and healthy pet food, and a bunch of places to buy really cool dog toys, collars and other accessories, and you have the perfect day for spoiling your four-footed family members.

And because Dogtoberfest is around Halloween, you even get to dress your pups up for the festivities, and compete for prizes. I saw everything from simple sweaters to elaborate team costumes complete with movable sets!  The “I Love Lucy” group won this year, but sadly my photo of that team didn’t come out

If you missed the festival this year, take heart!  There’s always next year’s festival — and now you have plenty of time to plan that perfect costume!

Yes, Austin loves its dogs…and this festival is just one more fun, silly piece of that!

 

How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You

Stepping away from my format for a few minutes.,..this was too good to pass up! I have always suspected that look in my cat’s eye meant she was planning my demise. On October 24th at BookPeople, I will get to find out from the expert!

BookPeople

He gets high on catnip and then looks at me like this. It can’t end well.

(Meg’s plotting cat, Cash)

For more tips on how to spot a feline with a sinister plot, be here Wednesday, October 24 at 7pm when Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal) talks about his new book, How to Tell If Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You.

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Irish pub food and a punk band? Why not? It’s Austin!

Fado Irish Pub Austin TexasWe’re starting to explore some of the downtown restaurants (getting out of our North Austin world!), and the other night that meant a light dinner at Fado Irish Pub on 4th Street.

As we walked nearby, we heard the band…The Video Stars, a punk rock-clad group performing an excellent rendition of “Sweet Child of Mine”. Then we looked at the menu which promised traditional pub fare in their courtyard.

For me, the fact that they offered “boxty“, a tasty potato concoction I seldom see on menus, and the song the band was playing were enough. For Lance, the promise of a corned beef sandwich was enough to draw him in.

And we were not disappointed by any of it. The boxty I chose were crisp and hot, and were accompanied by a red pepper humus dip. Lance’s sandwich came stuffed high with corned beef, with a big pile of chips on the side (that’s fries, not potato chips.) We’ll have to return again to try a full dinner sometime soon…our light meal was a good introduction to their offerings!

The band played a variety of music, although the punk/KISS look was kind of funny when they launched into a Lady Gaga set! The courtyard was breezy, the crowd was a perfect mix of ages, and the service was excellent.

Although we don’t drink, we did see that Fado has an extensive selection of beers, ales, wines, whiskeys and single-malt Scotches, which makes it a good place to head for a few drinks, too.

Fado also has inside dining, although the music is outdoors only. The courtyard/patio is pet friendly, so our pup will probably join us the next time around.

Dogs enjoy freedom at Austin off-leash parks

Auditorium Shores  Dog Park in Austin TexasMoving from South Florida where dogs were either on a leash or in a fenced dog park or yard, it was surprising to discover the number of off-leash parks here in Austin.

We were hesitant at first.  Our dog is friendly, but what if others weren’t?  What if she took off?  (She did, but didn’t go far…only to Great Outdogs to get more treats!)  But finally we gave in, and headed to Auditorium Shores for a gathering of Austin Boxer Meetup…and some off-leash, unfenced playtime.

Maya seemed surprised when we took her leash off, but she quickly found some new friends to play with, and was off.  She played with other big dogs, and some adorable tiny ones, too. There were no aggressive dogs — just lots of playmates and dips in the river — and a few unfortunate rolls in the dirt (lovely when a wet dog rolls in the dust!  Next time the bath will be AFTER the dog park! Good thing we had an extra blanket to cover the car seat!)

Auditorium Shores (near the Long Center) isn’t Austin’s only off leash park.  There are also play areas for pups at Zilker Park and eight other Austin-area parks and recreation areas. Just make sure your dog is good about coming on command, and likes playing with canine companions of all sizes.  Then grab your pup, a water bottle and some toys and head on out.  Oh, and take along something to cover your car seat,,,just in case!

Have Frisbee, will travel!

Dog-friendly Austin welcomes Great Outdogs, a mobile dog supply truck

Great Outdogs Austin Texas Mobile Dog Supply Truck

In the land of food trucks and pet-friendly businesses, I probably shouldn’t be surprised that someone decided to combine the two to create Austin’s first mobile dog supply truck.  After all, we all love Austin’s food trucks, so why should our pups be left out of the fun?

So I was happy when I discovered Great Outdogs, the brain-child of Austin entrepreneur Matt Edwards.  “I had the website for awhile,” he said, “and this was the dream, to take outdoor dog supplies to the places where dogs play.”  Then a serendipitous discovery of the perfect truck made it possible.  “I found the truck, spent a few weeks making it over, and here I am.”

We met Matt at the off-leash dog park across from the Long Center while we were waiting for the Boxer Meetup to start. The truck really is a one-stop shop for dog lovers who enjoy Austin’s outdoors with their pets.  There were leashes, collars, toys, treats, water bowls, and of course, a good selection of dog waste bags ( a must-have for all of us owned by a dog or two!)  He even had safety flotation vests in all dog sizes for people planning on taking their pups out on the river. In fact, his truck offers over 1,300 eco-friendly, pet-friendly and budget-friendly dog items.

Matt’s truck can be found most days at the Auditorium Shores off-leash park, although he said he has plans to create a schedule for visiting several dog parks in the future.

This unique truck may be destined for great things…Matt told me the Statesman had just published a story on  his business, and he had been interviewed by local Austin TV station KVUE.   That’s great for his fledgling mobile business — and for dogs like mine who are already enjoying some of his great products.

Wildseed Farms brings wild beauty to home gardens

Wildseed Farm Texas

In the middle of wildflower season in Texas, it might be hard to think about planting and tending a garden.  After all, incredible blossoms are everywhere, from the center of 183 to the patch of dirt in front of the local strip mall.

But the fact is, most of the Technicolor flowers that are native to the Austin area are also a great choice for local gardens and landscapes, too.  That’s what I learned from our visit to Wildseed Farms, located near Fredricksburg.

But lest you think this is just a seed store, or even a nursery, I need to tell you about the unbelievable fields of flowers.  There were acres and acres of bright red, yellow and orange poppies.  Unfortunately, it seems that fields of poppies photograph about as well as they survive once cut — so you’ll have to see that amazing display for yourself.

There were also several smaller fields of larkspur — we picked enough of them to fill one large and several small vases at home for only $5.00.  And visitors can walk around through the growing gardens and see dozens of other wildflowers in bloom (and there are even clear tags identifying the flowers in each row…perfect for a new Texas resident like me who was worried about having to go into the store and ask for “those yellow flowers with the red bits near the center”.)

The shops at Wildseed Farms do have seeds…lots and lots and lots of them.  There are even wildflower mixes for other parts of the country, so visitors or people who want to send garden gifts can get the right kind for each region.

Add in the selection of garden decor, wind chimes, garden-themed gifts and beautiful cotton women’s clothing (yes, a surprise for me, too!) and you have a great place to stop on the way to Fredricksburg, or a relaxing destination all its own.

And as if that wasn’t enough, there was live music in an outdoor venue, with tables for enjoying the view, the sounds and something from the ice cream shop or snack bar.

Pets on leash are welcome here, even in the shops as long as they are well-behaved.