Monday, December 11, 2017

Nola in NOLA - Little Dog, Big Adventures

For those that either don't know or haven't guessed, Miss Nola is named after New Orleans, Louisiana, and I have always wanted to take her to her namesake city.  Back in September, in an effort to flee from Hurricane Irma (and let's be real here and admit that we'll take any excuse to travel, no matter how flimsy), we did just that. Our Crescent City adventure was such an experience, and I'm excited to share it with you guys!

First, New Orleans has been the only place where I never once had to explain Nola's name. Everyone we spoke to instantly made the connection and got a huge kick out of it. Freaking finally. ;)


New Orleans is a very unique city, with a vibe and sort of grungy, ragtag beauty all its own. It's absolutely stunning in so many ways, and is a highly stimulating place to be. Architecture that's grand and gothic on once street, then delicate and undeniably French on the next, all kinds of restaurants and hole in the wall eateries for every palate imaginable, enough bars to keep everyone happy, and art around every corner. I spent hours wandering the French Quarter with Nola and still didn't get my fill.

I loved these best of all. The the plants and massive ferns gave me life!

It's also fucking filthy. Absolutely disgusting in several place. It still hasn't recovered from Katrina, and you get the sense that the residents are okay with that when you hear people speak and watch the way they treat their city. Trash is everywhere, both in the literal and metaphorical sense. So many places are not maintained in the slightest, and tourists and locals alike treat the place with zero respect. It left me with an odd sense of sadness to see such a beautiful, historic place left in shambles.

One of the few intact and non-vandalized old horse hitch ups.

Usually I am very pro-pet travel, and encourage taking your dog with you if it's at all possible, but let me give you fair warning if you're considering visiting The Crescent City with your dog in tow. Unless your dog is impeccably trained, socialized and stable, they need to stay home or at whatever place you're staying while you explore the more bustling parts of the city. The place is relatively dog friendly for the south (not that our standards are very high....), but if it's stimulating for people, it is a circus for a dog. Be an advocate for your dog and really consider if what I describe below is something they'd be okay with and enjoy.

Waiting at each curb until release to pass. People don't pay attention at all when they drive through the quarter.

Tulane is behind her

Nola blew me away with how well she did. She was flawless with the dozens and dozens of people that came up to interact with us, ignored the hundreds of other dogs (even when they came up quite rudely to her), perfectly obeyed every leave it no matter how tempting the food someone tossed was, stopped and waited at every curb and doorway. Was sweet and gentle with children of all ages and never hesitated to follow a cue. Was alert but non-confronational when we were approached by hustlers, and carefully avoided and ignored the many drunks that called out or stumbled by.
She didn't bat an eye at the horse drawn carriages passing mere feet from her, strutted through throngs of people, calmly watched a cacophony of street performers in Jackson Square, didn't so much as flinch at construction and freaking thrived on the energy of the place. This was the biggest city she'd ever been to, and she took it all in stride.

Technically this one's a mule drawn carriage. 

I have never been more proud to be an ambassador for the dachshund breed than I was on that weekend. Everyone complimented her and gushed about how sweet, quiet and well behaved she was. The best compliment I can get is when someone tells me she's made them see the breed in a different light. We met people from England, Australia, the Philippines and all over the states, and she charmed every single one of them. She is truly the best little thing ever. #ProudDogMomAF

We visited Audubon Park, Tulane College, The French Quarter. Saw Jackson Square, the St. Lois Cathedral, had a banging salad with duck on it, and even visited a voodoo shop.

Small dog friendly! Total tourist trap though. You'll have to dig deeper if you want to find the legit places. 

The park in Jackson Square is definitely not dog friendly, but I may or may not have snuck Nola in for a minute for shits and giggles. ;) Oddly enough, it's not marked at all that it isn't dog friendly, and there were at least 20 dogs that passed through while we were there. If I hadn't googled the city extensively before the trip, I wouldn't have known that park didn't allow dogs. Poor signage on the city's part, for sure.
The cemeteries and little trollies are also not dog friendly, and the cemeteries have very odd hours.

There was very, very creative art featuring genitalia just out of frame on the right. You definitely don't run out of things to look at here. ;)

The live music can't be beat, especially in Jackson Square. Everything from impromptu bands and dances, to solo performers and just people enjoying themselves. One older gentleman did a perfect rendition of Lois Armstrong Dream a Little Dream. You can literally just sit and have every kind of entertainment imaginable.

The place is beautiful, if disgusting at many points, and I'd love to go back there. Just not in September. Maybe January next time. ;)

Stay hydrated!

After a long day of trekking around, we drove back around 45 minutes from the city to our hotel. Sunburnt, satisfied, and happy.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Anxiety, Perspective, and My Heart Dog is 7 - Nola's Gotcha Day

Disclaimer: I wrote this at basically midnight while hopped up on caffeine and more PMS hormones than my body could handle. That is literally the only excuse I have for this lovechild of smarmy purple prose and a thesaurus. I swear I'm not usually such an obnoxious asshole. 
So...yeah. Read at your own risk? 
And note to self: stick to writing at normal people hours.

In just a few days (Saturday, to be exact), it will be my little heart dog's 7th Gotcha Day. 7 years with this crazy, joyful, loving, mischievous, whip smart little dog. That blows my mind.

The day she came home was one of the brightest and happiest of my life. It always has been and always will be one of the most precious moments I've experienced, and she still continues to be one of the brightest bits of my life.

Trite as it sounds, Nola came to me exactly when I needed her. Exactly when. That time was so...dark. Dark, terrifying, completely out of my control, full of uncertainty, emotional abuse and so much loneliness 
My anxiety, which has always sort of pressed around me even from early childhood, took over my every thought and action, leaving me physically sick, exhausted in every way, and plagued by multiple panic attacks each day. I can't begin to describe how hard it is when your mental state is so shaky that you lose control of the most basic physical function of breathing. It leaves you feeling utterly powerless.
I was lonely and broken. My family, torn apart by abuse from the get go, imploded in such a dramatic and traumatizing fashion that I still have the vast majority of memories from that time blocked. Well, except for those pesky abandonment issues and inability to consume any book, movie, tv show, ect that has a plot or subplot of depression, suicide (it didn't happen in this case, just very explicit musings about what it'd be like and things along that nature...told to me at 14 years old. Jesus, how have I not needed more therapy than I've had?), or abuse. Thanks, God-I-Wish-You-Were-Just-a-Sperm-Donor-Father. 
I was spiraling and locked into a constant state of panic, stress and completely unable to help myself. It was a mess.

Enter Nola. No, a dog can't fix everything, and there isn't some magical thing that cures all that ails you in one fell swoop.
But...she gave me something to hold on to, something that was all mine. She gave me stability, purpose, constant companionship and undying love. 
No matter how rocky things got, I had Nola. No matter how stuck in my head I was, I had to be there to guide a very hard headed and rambunctious puppy into becoming a confident, stable dog. No matter how lonely I was, I had Nola. 
I got out of the house, logging miles and miles of outside time that soothed me as much as it did her. 
I dove into researching every facet of dog ownership and found a real passion learning that I still have today (I'm currently taking a Bioethics course from Harvard online...for fun).
I started this blog, picked up my phone and started photographing everything she did, fell madly in love with photography, and got my first DLSR. That opened so many doors for me and it's still something I do everyday, and it never fails to bring me joy.

She gave me comfort. Security. I felt needed by her, and taking care of her helped me get out of my head and start the arduous healing process. She's been with me for every single step of that process, every triumph and setback, every panic attack, every moment of peace. I've now had Nola for a third of my life, and she's helped to shape me into the person I am today. She's helped me built myself up from a broken child to to an adult that is scarred, but whole.

She helped me build a relationship with the man I consider my dad, not the piece of shit that sired me. She helped me get closer to my mom, the strongest person I know and my safe place. She's helped me with social anxiety, broadened my horizons and given me opportunities I wouldn't have if not for her.

Don't take this as me throwing you all my sob story and daddy issues. ;) I'm...well, not exactly glad for the way things went, but I am content with it now.
Now I'm grateful for the way things worked out. I wouldn't be where or who I am without it. I wouldn't be as close to my mother as  I am, wouldn't have my dad, wouldn't have my youngest siblings if things didn't happen the way they did. I wouldn't have the strength that I have now, the confidence in myself, the ability to learn and heal and succeed past my own head. I wouldn't have my baby sister, the person I love most in the world.

I wouldn't have my scars, but I also wouldn't have this life now, and I wouldn't trade that for the world.

I am who I am because of my past, and while it hurt like a bitch for a long, long time... - and sometimes it still stings, not going to lie - I am happy. For how it happened, for how it is now, for how it is going forward. I am happy, and that makes every last thing worth it. 

Because of Nola's help, I know calm. Peace. Safety. Belonging. Love. I know strength, and while I can be one cold bitch, I also know compassion. I know my limits and when to push them. I know control and growth and passion and adventure. All because this tiny, mischievous little dog came when I needed her and broke me out of my darkness, shoving me into a world of light.

So I thank the universe for her everyday, hold her tight and whisper my gratitude. She's never just a dog in my eyes. She's my everything.

Happy Gotcha Day, Nola. I love you.


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Taking A Break

Hey guys!

Today's post is about something I've been waffling back and forth on for months. I've debated, hmm'ed and haww'ed and have given myself a massive headache, and now I've reached a conclusion.

I need to take a break from blogging.

I've been hitting publish on several posts every week here for the past six years. Nola herself was just six months old when I started Dachshund Nola, and it's been an incredible experience. The growth and knowledge I've obtained from blogging is something I treasure deeply, and has helped shaped me into the person I am today. I am incredibly thankful for the community, the friendship and the opportunities that have come out of this.

But...I'm at a standstill with blogging. I'm at the point where it's becoming an extremely unpleasant task to sit and schedule the three posts a week I've scaled down to, and I breathe a sigh of relief when it's done. I don't know what to post about, and when I try to get out something of any value, absolutely nothing gets put down on paper.

The community has changed and shifted, with microblogging edging classic blogging out of its place. I'll be the first to admit that I've found a great little niche with Instagram, while plenty of others love Facebook or Twitter, Snapchat or YouTube.

I'm tired of constant sponsored posts, both reading and producing. I'm weary of reviews. I'm sick of the drama and the cliques. I'm frustrated with my numbers being high, but my engagement being low. I'm frazzled with blog upkeep.

I'm not a writer. I never have been, and I never will be. Writing does not come naturally to me, and 99% of the time I give into the frustration of it and just spam you with photos.
The last post I've been really proud of and happy with? It was "Is She a Rescue?" An Open Letter to Breeder Hate. I wrote that last July, and did it in under 30 minutes. It went wild overnight, skyrocketing to my most popular post of all time, and landed me hundreds of shares and a radio interview. While I love it and am thrilled with how it went down, it's almost more frustrating to me that no matter what I try, I can't write anything close to that again. Nothing comes out when I try, and I've tried a lot.

This is turning into a bitch fest, and while I'm definitely frustrated with blogging, I'm strangely satisfied as well. I've hit every goal I've ever wanted to with blogging. I've made friends. I've been paid. I've attended BlogPaws as a sponsored blogger. I've gotten a hell of a lot smarter. I made an impact.
My photography is now something I'm proud of, and petty as it may sound, I can look at some of the photos I admired when I first started out, and I now know I can do it better. #SorryNotSorry
Even Nola's nails have hit my goal, haha.

So...that's where I am now. I need a break. Right now, I'm aiming to take the month of May off from blogging. I may look into rebranding when I get back, and I'll likely pull back to one or two posts a week, because I don't want to lose my original core blog goal, which is tracking Miss Nola's life and adventures.
In the mean time, feel free to follow us on social media, especially on Instagram here.

I thank you all for reading, and for sticking with us.

- Amanda

Bye for now!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Checking In With Pets Deli - Final Thoughts

Hey guys!

Disclaimer: I am being compensated to share this product. I only share products and services I feel good about recommending to my readers, and all opinions are my own. 

Remember a few weeks ago when I talked about Pets Deli dog food? If not, that post is right here, but I'll share a little snippet of our previous post below.

Pets Deli is a European company that just became available in the US. They ship customizable frozen food right to your door, made with all USA sourced ingredients that are 100% human grade. They currently offer three different, single source protein meal options: chicken, turkey and beef. All are available in either with or without carb options, and chicken and beef are grain free carb options.

At this moment, Pets Deli is intended to be used as supplemental feeding only. That could be as a meal every couple days, an afternoon snack, or as a kibble topper. However, Pets Deli will be putting out a supplement powder that will ship with every box of food, and makes the food a complete and balanced diet that can be fed on its own.

The first thing I have to say about Pets Deli is how kind and caring their staff was. As you all know, Nola was sick nearly all of April, and I had to push this post back at least once because she either wasn't eating, or her stomach couldn't handle anything but the most bland of foods; not once did I ever feel irritation or pressure from the wonderful Pets Deli rep. Quite the opposite, actually! They were caring, considerate, and incredibly accommodating. They even sent Miss Nola a card! I really can't say enough good things about their customer service.

Yes, she prefers a glass bowl. Not spoiled, not at all. 

Due to the aforementioned sickness (and how long a certain vet dragged it out for....), Nola's digestive  tract took a serious beating and is still healing up. Because of that, she's been put on a kibble based diet while her system sets itself back in order. 
However, I still want to give her the benefits of raw food, and Pets Deli has been the perfect topper for her. A couple spoonfuls on top of her breakfast each morning gives her variety and flavor, and me the pleasure of knowing I'm giving her something so healthy. 

As for improvements, I'd still like to see more protein options added. I'm starting to wonder if Nola is developing an allergy to chicken, and I know a lot of dogs have allergies or sensitivities to beef or chicken, which are two Pets Deli's main meats.

I'd also like to see a smaller delivery size option. We were sent a 6 pack, which is 12lbs, and it's a lot of food for a dog as small as Nola is. My freezer is minuscule, and if there wasn't an additional one in the shed, I'd have no where to put the food, especially not at the rate she eats. That's definitely #SmallDogProblems, though!

The website is still clean and user-friendly, as is the "my account" section. I poked around in there a bit, and was able to quickly and seamlessly make adjustments and changes to my account and orders. 

Its current use as a topper. This is the turkey variety. 

Nola hasn't had any negative side effects from Pets Deli, and is always eager to eat each morning - so much so that she dances around my legs and makes navigating the kitchen each morning (without stepping on her!) quite the feat. 
Probably the best way I know of telling if a food is working for Miss Nola is whether or not her eyes start to get a little gunky. Eye funk = this isn't working. I'm happy to say her eyes are as clear and bright as ever on Pets Deli.

Overall, I'm very impressed with Pets Deli, and would definitely recommend them, especially if you have a smaller dog. You can use the code NOLA50 for 50% off your first order.

Thank you for working with us, Pets Deli!