Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Puppy mills...ugh!

Someone on the pet board I visit bought a "lab" puppy from Rush Kennel. This kennel breeds around 7 breeds of dog and has around 100 dogs...there is definitely no regard to the advancement of any breed or care to any particular dog (the general rule of thumb is if a breeder breeds more than 2, maaaybe 3 breeds of dog, they are most likely a puppy mil). Needless to say, this is a puppy mill, but the person who had bought their lab puppy did not realize this as she had not done enough research into buying her first pup. The puppy she received did not look like a Labrador, but instead like some weird white giant wire-haired Schnauzer thing. Crazy huh? What's even crazier is that Sheila Rush, the lady who owns Rush Kennel was on ABC's Wife Swap. The wives apparently have to fill out a "manual"/interview form for the show and the other wife to see. All I have to say is, if you ever thought that puppy mill owners might be sane, caring people, you may want to reconsider after reading Sheila's manual (it's long, but well worth the read):


I'm THE top dog breeder in North Carolina and dogs are my life. They are what makes me happy. And in our house if momma's happy everyone is happy.

I have over 100 dogs, not counting my six adorable little babies that live in the house with me: Tess, Mighty Max, Lady Black Diamond, Baby Girl, LeAnna, and my favorite, Phyllis. They are my babies and are NOT for sale. They each have 24 designer outfits which I put on them daily and little doggie diapers that I put on them at night before we snuggle up in bed for a bedtime story.

I spend over $100,000 a year on my doggies just to make sure they get the best of everything: the best food, the best manicures and the best clothes. They eat dinner off china dishes while we all eat off of paper plates. I won't leave the house without my darlings because I worry too much about them when I'm gone.

My son Tyler is a star athlete and honor roll student. It's very important that a man has a backbone and isn't a sissy so I'm raising Tyler to be a manly man. The best way to do that is through full contact sports. He wrestles, which is a very manly aggressive sport, and plays football. I insist he does sports so I know where he is at all times. Once a month, I give him a random drug test to be sure that he's not doing anything that would get him kicked off of his teams.

Ray is an electrician and owns his own business. He also services heating and cooling systems. He works 80 hours a week to pay for the house and expenses. I work hard too, but the money from my business goes on the dogs. The only other thing I contribute to is Tyler's $200 a week allowance and his presents like his shiny new $50,000 SUV which he will soon be able to drive.

Ray and I have nothing in common and I see our relationship as more of a business deal than a marriage. He does everything I tell him to. We spend very little time together. When he's not working he spends time with his cars or his civil war stuff. We haven't slept together in over a year. Because I sleep with my dogs, there's no room for Ray so I moved him into the store room downstairs.

We are the Rush family: Sheila (50), Ray (51), Tyler (15)


What are your views on cleaning?
Between taking care of my six little indoor doggies and running my business, I really just don't have time to clean. But someone has to. Tyler's only responsibility is to play manly sports and get good grades so he doesn't have to do anything. I pay a maid to come and clean once a week and Ray has to lay out and pick up the doggie wee-wee pads all over the living room floor. Ray thinks I should clean this up because they're my dogs. But I'm too busy. Ray always does what I tell him to anyway. He knows that keeping me happy is best for everyone.


What are the kids forbidden to do?
Tyler is forbidden to use drugs or anything which could disqualify him from being on the football team or be bad for his athletic body. To be absolutely sure he isn't messing up, I give him a random drug test once a month. My son does all kinds of aggressive sports and activities that help make him a real man. I don't let him do sissy-feminine stuff like dancing or artsy type things. That stuff is senseless. Ray bought him a guitar behind my back which was a pointless thing to do. Tyler is way too busy with football and wrestling to touch a musical instrument.

How do you discipline the kids?
If Tyler did mess up, maybe I'd take his cell phone away. But Tyler never gets in trouble. I give him everything he needs here at home: A $50,000 SUV, a $1,500 computer, a $1,500 big screen TV, a $200 a week allowance and he can have his girlfriend over whenever he wants. Tyler is happy and he has everything. So why would he ever need to get in trouble?


What rooms(s) do you eat your meals in?
We never use the dining room table because the dogs like to sit on it, and I don't have the heart to make them get off. We never eat anything substantial so it's not worth sitting down together anyway. We never eat together. Everyone just grabs whatever's around in the kitchen. I eat standing at the counter while tending to my babies. Ray and Tyler eat in the family room in front of the TV.

Does your partner ever cook?
Ray likes to cook steaks on the grill, but since we don't ever eat together, he usually just brings home a pizza or heats up a can of soup. Sunday mornings he makes pancakes which my babies love.

Do you all eat the same meals? If not, explain.
I fix up gourmet canned doggie meals for my babies. Filet mignon, lamb, and sirloin. I heat it up in the microwave and mash it up with a fork so it's easier for them to eat. I only eat next to my doggies so we never eat as a family because Ray and Tyler just grab something and go off to watch TV. We keep plenty of canned, boxed, and frozen foods in the house.

How often do you eat fast food? What kind do you eat?
We eat fast food four times a week pizza, fried chicken, or whatever Ray brings home. Otherwise it's whatever's in the freezer.

How often do you eat fast food? What kind do you eat?
Ray and I almost never eat out because I can't stand to leave my babies alone. When I go out, I'm just miserable wondering if my babies need me and I'm just wanting to get back home to them. I don't know if it's a phobia, but I just have to be with my dogs all the time. They give me everything I need to be happy.

How often do you eat out at restaurants? Where do you go? Do you take the kids?
Ray and Tyler go out to dinner on the nights that Ray doesn't bring home fast food. They always ask me if I want to go but I'd rather stay home and love my babies.


How often do you go grocery shopping? When do you go?
I go grocery shopping with Tyler in our SUV once a week at the wholesale bulk store. We take two shopping carts and split up. I stock up on all the things my doggies need, (we go through tons of doggie wee wee pads), plus toilet paper, paper plates, cups, paper towels, and garbage bags. Tyler goes off on his own to pick out whatever he wants, which is usually junk food like chips and cookies. We come out with two overflowing shopping carts; One for the family and one for the dogs. I never worry about how much we buy because I have plenty of room in the SUV to get it all home.

Does your partner help with the grocery shopping?
Ray picks up any odds and ends we need between my weekly shopping trips but I know what we need so I do the main shopping.



What time do you usually get up?
I get up at 6:30AM.

Tyler gets up at 7:00AM. I see him for a second as he grabs a toaster pastry on his way out the door for school.

Ray gets up at 5:00AM and leaves for work at 6:00AM but we never see each other in the morning. Ray sleeps downstairs in a separate room. It's actually a spare room where I keep a lot of dog supplies. Ray and I haven't slept in the same bed in over a year. He would always complain that the bed was too crowded with all of the dogs I had in there. Well, my doggies aren't going anywhere so I asked him to move out of my room. He agreed because he knows how important my dogs are to me.

What is your morning routine, including breakfast?
The first thing I do when I get up is take off all the doggie diapers and throw them out. My babies put on diapers at night before they snuggle into bed with me. Next, I wipe them down with baby wipes. I think it helps refresh them and get them ready for the day. Phyllis, my favorite doggie, gets lotion before I dress her because her skin is so dry. Then all my babies get dressed in their designer outfits; Silk jackets, blue jeans Whatever I feel like putting on them that day. I make sure they also get little doggie necklaces to match their outfits.

I feed them breakfast and a pepperoni flavoured treat. My babies have to have their morning treat!! While they eat their treat, I grab a cup of coffee for my own breakfast.

Ray wakes up at 5:00AM. He showers and is out the door by 6:00AM. He doesn't drink coffee or eat breakfast.

Tyler wakes up at 7:00AM. He takes an hour to get ready before running out the door to catch the bus for school.

Do you ever get to sleep in?
When my babies and I stay up late watching our favorite animal channel on TV, we sleep in until 8:00AM.


What do you do during the day?
As the number one dog breeder in my state, I keep very busy breeding Italian Greyhounds, Weimaraners, Labrador Retrievers, Labradoodles, Great Danes, Standard Poodles, Toy Poodles, and Yorkshire Terriers. I meet with seven or eight potential customers each day. I keep a very tight appointments schedule so I can hurry back into the house to my babies.

I have a secretary who helps with the emails and phone calls. I'd never be able to handle my business alone because my babies require so much of my attention.

My babies and I have playtime together at 9:00AM. I rarely let them go outside because it's too cold in the winter and in the summer I'm afraid that they will get too hot in the sun. I love taking photos of them in the mini-photography studio I have in the house. They just love to get dressed up and get their picture taken. To keep them looking their best, I've put a state of the art grooming center in the basement complete with bathing area, nail clippers, combs and brushes.

All that primping really wears my doggies out so at 11:00AM, they have naptime. This is when I try to get some work done for my dog breeding business. My secretary handles most of the emails and phone calls but she forwards some on to me. I get a lot of phone calls from new owners with questions about why the puppy won't go on the wee-wee pad or how to teach them to sit. Even after the puppies have left here, I still feel like they are a part of my family.

Every other week LeAnna, Phyllis and I get manicures at the local nail salon. We get matching pink polish! They just look so precious with their little nails painted.

A couple of times a week I take my babies shopping at the local pet store and they get to pick out anything they want. They just love to go shopping for new treats and clothes.

Ray works two jobs. He has to so we can pay for our enormous property, and all the utilities we use to operate. It takes a lot of electricity to run a kennel! Plus, we spend a lot of money on Tyler because he gets whatever he wants. Ray is an electrician and owns his own company. He also works for another company installing heating systems and air conditioners. He works 70 hours a week which is fine by me because it means that I can have more time with my dogs.

Do they have any extra classes or activities after school? Who takes them and picks them up?
I want Tyler to do things that will make him a real man. I have him involved in three sports football, wrestling, and track. He claims he doesn't like playing football, but I push him to play for his own good. Later in life he'll be glad he did because aggressive sports are the best way to make a man. I like to go to Tyler's sporting matches, he's the best on his team! Tyler wanted to run cross-country like his father did in high school, but I won't let him because that's a sissy sport and I don't want him to turn out like his father.

Tyler has a guitar that Ray bought him and he wants to learn to play, but I make sure Tyler's schedule is too packed with sports and training for him to spend time with his guitar. Besides, sports keep him busy and out of trouble. It also allows me to monitor him. When he's at sports I know where he is and what he's doing. That means I can have a better time with my dogs because I'm not worried about my son.

Because I'm usually busy, Robert, my kennel manager, picks Tyler up after all his sports practices. But If Tyler has a game or a match, I pick him up.

How often do you speak to your children during the day?
I don't speak to Tyler while he is in school. When he comes home he grabs some chips or a sweet roll and goes up to his room and gets on the phone with his girlfriend, Melissa. He spends most of his time with her but I don't mind because it gives him something to do while I'm busy with my dogs.

Do you spend time without the children?
I know Tyler wishes I could spend more time with him but my babies and my business take up all my time. When Tyler's home from school and sports, I'm busy with my dogs, and I let him be busy with his girlfriend. Plus, my babies need my attention more than Tyler does. He's old enough to fend for himself, but my babies aren't.


What time do you get home from work?
I work from home, so I'm never more than a few steps away from my dogs.

What time do you eat dinner and who prepares it?
There is no set dinner time in this house dinner happens when people get hungry. I never cook so Ray and Tyler fix their own food like microwaving soup or a frozen dinner. Ray will sometimes bring home a pizza or he'll take Tyler out to get fast food burgers or tacos.

I do prepare meals for my eight little doggie babies. I buy them gourmet dog food in flavors like filet mignon and lamb, and heat it for them in the microwave. I mash up all the dogs' food for them so they don't have to chew it. Then I serve it to them on real dishes! The rest of the family eats off of paper plates because real plates for the family isn't worth the extra trouble. Tess is such a prima-donna she refuses to eat dinner on the floor and insists on eating on the counter top. I have to stay close to her so she doesn't fall off. I pull her ears up in a hair tie so they don't get food on them. She doesn't mind it one bit. In fact, I think she likes it, the little diva.

Spending time with my dogs is what I do for supper--I only eat half a sandwich or pick at some fast food myself.

When do the kids do their homework and who helps them?
Tyler does his homework whenever he wants. He's a good student and makes good grades. If he needs help, his girlfriend Melissa helps him.

Do your kids have set bedtimes, and if you have teens, do they have curfews?
Tyler has no set bedtime. He goes to bed when he wants, usually between 11:00PM and midnight. He has no curfew either. I like to give Tyler every freedom inside the home. It's only when he's outside that I need to monitor him. I give him whatever he wants though, so I'm not worried that he'll abuse these privileges.

What is the bedtime routine with the kids?
Before Tyler goes to bed he comes to find me and gives me a hug. I love Tyler and try to give him as much affection as I give my dogs, but he wishes I gave him more. I just don't have the time, though. I have so much to do to get my babies ready for bed. They have a very big bedtime routine. After they have their evening snack, I rock them in the rocking chair while I read doggie books to them and show them the pictures. My baby Phyllis has very sensitive skin, so I have to put lotion on her before bed. Tyler knows my primary responsibility is taking care of my dogs and that's what makes me happiest. And when mommy's happy, everyone's happy.

What else do you do in the evenings from Monday through Friday?
Every evening is spent catering to my babies. Three to four times a week, Tess and Baby Girl take a pampering bubble bath with me. We just love our time in the tub. I keep their towels in an electric warmer so they don't get cold after their baths. They just love the spa treatment! After bath time, I put little doggie diapers on them so there are no accidents at night. I have mediums for the Phyllis, Lady Diamond and LeAnna and smalls for Mighty Max and Tess. Baby Girl, or BG for short, is too tiny for diapers so she doesn't get one. But I have Ray lay wee-wee pads all over the living room floor so she can go down there. All my doggies have designer pyjamas that I put on them every night. They look so cute I can hardly stand it!

Once we are all in our PJ's, I clean their teeth with $75 tooth spray to prevent plaque. Money is no object when it comes to taking care of them. Then we all cuddle up in bed to watch our favorite animal channel. My dogs just love to watch TV before bed!

What time do you go to bed?
I love to stay up late watching TV with my babies. We don't go to sleep until 2:00AM. Ray goes to sleep in his own bedroom downstairs at 11:00PM.

6) WEEKENDS What do you do Saturday afternoon?
Saturday afternoons I have a lot of appointments with clients. I schedule them all in a short block of time so I can get back to my babies. I don't like to leave the dogs alone too long because they have separation anxiety. Ray would like us to do things as a family on Saturdays, but the dogs come first. Ray and Tyler will do things together like hunting, fishing, and go-carting. I don't pay attention; it's their thing, not mine.

What do you do Saturday evening?
I spend Saturday evenings at home alone with my babies. Ray and Tyler like to go out to eat or to see a movie. If I'm out without the dogs, I worry and I can't relax. I'm just happier at home with Phyllis and the others.

What do you do Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon?
Sunday morning Ray cooks breakfast. The babies just love when he makes pancakes so I always share mine with them. It's the most time that we spend as a family and it's enough for me to get through the week.

We don't attend church, but if I could take the dogs with me, I would go. I was raised a Baptist and think anything else is just devil worship. I think people who believe in Buddhism or meditation or any of those outside the box religions have some kind of mental disorder. They need to get their priorities straight.

On Sunday afternoons, Ray and Tyler do something boring like going to a museum. I think that artsy stuff is just a senseless waste of time.

What do you do Sunday evening?
On Sunday evenings, Ray and Tyler go out to dinner while I stay home and eat with my dogs.

7) LEISURE AND SOCIAL LIFE What kinds of things do you like to do when you go out as a couple?
Ray and I never go out or do anything as a couple. It's been at least 6 months since we were out in public together. I don't remember the time before that. We've been married 16 years, but romance with my husband is like being out in the desert without a bucket of water. We have no romance whatsoever. When we first got married, I had one dog and Ray wouldn't let her sleep in the bed. He wouldn't even let her sleep in the room she had to sleep downstairs. I was not happy with that. And so progressively, as we stayed married, I got more and more dogs, and now I'm just happier with my dogs.

What kinds of things do you like to do when you go out as a family?
Ray and Tyler like to go hunting or fishing. They like to go to Civil war museums and learn about history, and Ray loves Civil War memorabilia. I think that stuff is boring and just a waste of time. I can't remember that last time that we went out as a family. I'm happiest at home with my dogs. I'm happiest never going out.


How would you describe your relationship?
Our relationship is more like a business arrangement than a marriage. We don't have anything in common except our son Tyler and we don't agree on everything with him! I am completely consumed by my dogs. Ray doesn't care for them at all. We don't really connect; everyone just does their own thing. The fact is, I find my dogs much better company than my husband. They are very therapeutic and comforting and they always know how to make me feel good.

What tips can you give for coping with your other half?
TAKE CHARGE! Ray has no backbone and will not speak his mind, let alone go against you. He's a man of few words and needs someone to tell him what to do. Don't be afraid to bark orders at him.

How do you like to be treated?
I am the leader of the pack and what I say goes. I like it when people do what I say because I'm a take-charge kind of girl. I'm the alpha dog and that's the way I like it!

What happens when you and your partner disagree on something?
Ray and I rarely disagree. It's not that we don't see eye to eye, it's that he has no backbone and he hates conflict. He's submissive and I'm a go-getter. I always win because he's afraid to stand up to me, so he just gives in. Really, there's no discussion about it.

What subject do you and your partner disagree on the most?
Ray and I disagree about my babies. He thinks they should live outside the house but I'd sooner put him in a doghouse than one of my babies! My babies are my life and I respect them more than I do him.


How much of a role does family play in your life?
My babies and my son are my first priority. They are number one in my life. I spoil Tyler rotten and he knows it. I give him a good life here so that he won't run away. My father was too strict with me so I left home when I was 15 years old. I don't want Tyler running away.

10) PETS How many pets do you have and what do they require?
I have eight babies that live in the house with me. They require all of my attention day and night. They need to be fed, cleaned, and dressed adorably every day. They need to be read to and snuggled every night. Everything I do is for them. I also own my own dog breeding business and have 100 dogs, which I breed and then sell their puppies. I have my kennel manager Robert to help me take care of all of them. I know all of their names and treat them like part of the family. In addition to all my dogs, Robert also takes care of our 50 guineas, 30 chickens, 12 pigs, 10 goats, 2 peacocks, 1 llama, and a jackass. I love having the animals around because it's very therapeutic for me.

11) FINANCES Who controls the money?
Ray and I have separate accounts. I'm a very independent woman and I think it's important that I have control of the money that I make. My money is my money and I use it to spoil my babies and Tyler rotten!

Ray's money is the family's money, and is used for household expenses.

Are you spenders or savers?
Ray is a saver but I say "you can't take it with you!" We work hard for our money and it makes no sense not to enjoy it. Nothing is too expensive for my doggies or Tyler. If I see a doggie outfit that costs $50 and I love it, I just have to buy it. If Tyler wants three new pairs of shoes or the latest electronic toy or some kind of snack, I can't say no.

Cater to my babies 24/7! They are the reason I live and require a lot of attention. They must be tended to around the clock. Tyler has no responsibilities and is used to being spoiled. If he wants something, he gets it. He's not used to hearing the word no.

Sooo...I guess her 100 dogs are just an army of money machines so she can get mani-pedis with her 6 indoor dogs. And, isn't it great that "THE top dog breeder of North Carolina" hasn't even housebroken them? Gee, I'd love to call this lady up for some dog advice. I also think it's great that she acknowledges the fact that her son wishes she were more there for him, yet still denies him any extra affection. Classy. If this doesn't convince you to do all your research into finding a good breeder, or adopting a shelter pup, I don't know what will!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Broccoli Ocarina

I found this on someone's Facebook page a while back, and thought it needed to be seen by all *my* friends too. It's definitely one of my favorites--I love this guy! Enjoy! (I've already forced some of you to sit through this already)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Crock Pot Recipes!

One of the message boards I frequent has a forum for recipes. I found this GREAT crock pot recipe thread, and copied and pasted all the recipes into a word document. Since these aren't my recipes, I'm not going to put them out for the public to see here (plus, the document's abut 19 pages) but I will surely e-mail them to you by request.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Weekend in Review

John and I had a great weekend. The weather was beautiful, so we spent most of our Saturday afternoon at the lakes eating lunch, and watching people play with their dogs. The cutest part was when this ENORMOUS great dane decided to engage in a game of chase with a black labrador, who was dwarfed by the great dane's stature. Scratch that...the cutest part was when John and I went for a walk around the lakes, and a little dachshund puppy ran up to me and begged for tummy rubs!

Sunday, we went to John's grandmother's house. His aunt and uncle were there, as well as his second cousin and his wife--all the way from Arkansas. It was really good to see everyone, and most of all, to enjoy a grandmother cooked meal (ham baked with pineapple rings, eggplant AND apple stuffing, asparagus spears, garlic bread, rum cake, mm mm mm!).

Speaking of food (when am I not?), I've been continuing my cooking experiments with squash. We bought a gigantic butternut squash. I split it in half, and brushed both halves with butter. On one of the halves, I also sprinkled thyme, sage, and salt. I have to say that the savory side was my favorite, though I think I will be cubing it and tossing it with the butter/sage/thyme/salt mixture next time.

Also, I made baked "fried" fish for the second time. The recipe is from my Cooking Light cookbook, and is surprisingly satisfying and good. After I made it for the first time a few weeks ago, I found myself craving it again. I thought I'd post the recipe in case anyone else wanted to try it out!

Crisp-Crusted Catfish (From Cooking Light Weeknight)
2 tablespoons light ranch dressing
2 large egg whites
6 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup (1 oz.) grated fresh Parmesan cheese (I find that higher quality parmesan really makes a difference)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 (6-ounce) farm-raised catfish fillets (I used tilapia, and I'm sure whatever other flaky white fish you have on hand would work too)
Cooking Spray
Lemon wedges

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Combine dressing and egg whites in a small bowl, and stir well with a whisk. Combine cornmeal and next 4 ingredients in a shallow dish (I added different herbs to the cornmeal mixture, I'm sure you could be creative here). Dip fillets in egg white mixture; dredge in cornmeal mixture.
3. Place fillets on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray; bake at 425 degrees for 10-12 minutes on each side or until lightly browned and fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve with lemon wedges.

I served it with coucous tossed with cubed cucumber, halved grape tomatoes, chopped dill, lemon juice, and feta, but I'm sure it would be good with a multitude of things.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

First post

I wanted to start a new blog to keep track of various things in my life, and to keep up with my friends and family back at home (hi everyone!). That said, why not start off this first blog post with my favorite thing in the

John and I got a cast iron grill pan this weekend. This, coupled with fresh, cheap zucchini at the farmer's market inspired me to make some grilled zucchini (my favorite thing to throw on the grill, besides corn) to go with our dinner Sunday night. I sliced the zucchini into large rounds, tossed it with olive oil and coarse salt, and put it on the grill. It was delicious! I can't wait to try more things, but am a little bothered by the lack of ventilation in my apartment. It became smoky after a little bit--I have this problem when trying to grill/fry anything in a pan if I am doing more than just a tiny bit, be it grilled cheese sandwiches or bacon. If anyone has any tips, please do share!

Another find at the farmer's market was acorn squash. I added that as a side to boring meat loaf tonight, simply prepared--cut into wedges, brushed with a little butter, and baked in the oven. This too is something I will be eating again very soon, before the season for yellowy/orangey squashy things is truly over.