Always something to see at Albany Bulb

View of the Bay Bridge and downtown San Francisco from the southern edge of Albany Bulb

img_2439I’ve written about the Albany Bulb before and probably will again. There are multiple paths to take and many views to appreciate, which is why I maintain that it’s a quirky Bay Area treasure.

My troop on Wednesday morning consisted of our big old red coon hound, Rufus; our 65-pound fur ball with boundless energy, Ruby; and our little schnauzer/ terrier mix foster, whom we renamed Zazzie because her original name was the same as our daughter’s best friend, which would have been too confusing.

img_2440Dogs have their own reasons for loving the Bulb: the puddles after it rains, the rocky terrain, the refreshingly cold bay water, and the network of interesting trails. (Rufus also enjoys a variety of smells that I’m not even aware of.) I love it for the artwork that appears out of nowhere; for the gorgeous views; and for the opportunity to experience this unique combination of nature, cultivated park, and dumping ground for interesting and colorful refuse.



It was rather quiet. Lone shore birds skimmed the water’s surface or posed on rocks in lagoons. Single snails made their own trails perpendicular to the ones created by the park service, crossing our path more than once. A few other dogs and their human companions greeted us with nods and smiles. A dedicated jogger and a cyclist each made cameo appearances.


Ruby could not resist bounding over the rocky shore to go for a swim in the bay, while Zazzie watched from her perch img_2438beside the walkway and Rufus kept a respectful distance. It did not feel as if we were just off a major freeway, but we were. I knew the cars and semis were close by, but I couldn’t hear them. The bay glistened, silver on blue, between the Bulb and Golden Gate Fields racetracks. To the south was downtown Oakland, and off to the southwest stood the Bay Bridge and San Francisco, the City by the Bay. Such busy places all around us but far enough away to be scenic rather than noisy.


After taking in a few moments of serenity, we piled into Red Emma (my husband’s Rav 4) and headed east back to Berkeley, where we would resume the rest of our day. But for just an hour, my compatriots and I were explorers.


My name is Tanya, and I’m a foster fail…

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Several weeks ago I was extolling the benefits of fostering dogs. After all, it’s noble to house poor homeless creatures while they await adoption; and it’s fun getting to know lots of different types of dogs. It’s a win-win, right?

Many friends asked how I could invest time and love into puppies when I knew they would be going to live with other families. I simply smiled and said I was lucky because I got to enjoy their company for the time they were with us and I knew that because they were all going to loving homes, I didn’t mind giving them up. That worked well for Chappie, Fitz, and Lola.

But then I cast my eyes on Ruby, and all that was thrown out the window.

I picked up this tiny furball at Hopalong in Oakland and placed her in the carrier for the ride home. You wouldn’t believe how much sound can be produced from such a tiny creature. All the  way to Berkeley, it sounded like parrots being strangled. I was frankly surprised that she was actually in one piece when I let her out. Immediately upon release, she romped around with no apparent memory of the screeching horror of the previous half hour.

Ruby wasn’t always Ruby. She came to us as Frida, probably because of her tell-tale Rottweiler eyebrows that suggested Frida Kahlo. But after a week of living with her, she never felt like a Frida to me. After week two, her pictures were going up on the Hopalong site to introduce her to the world. I had no doubt that hordes of people would see those eyes and want to take her home with them, so I knew she’d be placed quickly.

So that wasn’t the reason we decided to keep her.

Because she was the youngest foster we’d cared for, she was the most work. Not yet housebroken, Ruby has peed and pooped in every room of our house except the downstairs bathroom. She’s also chewed up the bill of Dave’s favorite cap. And our skin is covered with teeny bite marks where we have become her personal chew toys.

So we didn’t decide to keep her because she was the easiest pet to care for.

Our old hound dog Rufus is less than thrilled that we brought a slobbering pooping machine into his territory, especially when she tries to play with him or share his food. And as chill as our cat Cartwheel is, he was not exactly welcoming of this new addition to the family.

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Ruby at rest

So our decision to keep Ruby had nothing to do with her potential as a companion for our other pets.

So why did we keep Ruby? Well, one reason for me is that I never got to see any of our other dogs as young puppies, and I always wished we had. Because we got Ruby when she was only 8 weeks old–and pups aren’t adopted out until they’re at least three months old–we would have had her for at least a month before we’d have to give her away. That’s a lot of time to get attached. And to tell the truth, it doesn’t take any time at all to get attached to Ruby.

The other reason? We fell in love. And who can explain why we fall in love?  So we are now officially among those dubbed as “foster fails.” There are worse things we could be…

Fostering rescue dogs is a win/win

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Chappie snuggles with Mr. Pumpkin.

I used to think I was just a big-dog kind of person—Labradors, golden retrievers, German shepherds, Rottweilers, huskies, hound dogs, or any mutt over 60 pounds caught my eye. But we have been fostering rescue dogs for two different organizations, Hopalong and Paw Fund, and so far we’ve had only small dogs. And I have to admit—they’re cute!Chappie was so affectionate and jumped up and hung out with me on the daybed where I have set up my “home office” (as opposed to my work office at my real desk eight feet away). He liked to chew things, but other than one misplaced ball-point pen, which thankfully did not leak, he concentrated on the toys that came with him from Hopalong. We had Chappie for a week before he found a forever home, and I have to admit, it was somewhat difficult to leave him at the adoption event, knowing it was likely that he’d be adopted. (He was really too cute not to be.) But it was great being able to give him a loving temporary home until the right one presented itself.

Our second charge came with the name Coleman, but that didn’t work for us, and he didn’t know that name anyway, so we renamed him Fitz. Fitz is a 5-month old tiny puppy. He likes to carry his toys around with him, and even though some are bigger than his head, he still manages to jump up on the bed with one in his mouth. He likes to climb onto the back of the couch and look down on Rufus, our red coon hound who spends most of his time there.

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Rufus relaxes after a hard day of eating and napping.


Cartwheel yawning

Rufus wasn’t exactly thrilled to become a big brother to these pups, but he didn’t seem too annoyed. As long as they don’t touch his food, he’ll look the other way.

Our cat Cartwheel has been quite tolerant—he’s the perfect cat to be around dogs because he’s so chill, and we suspect that he thinks he’s part canine. He did look a bit put out when Fitz first arrived after Chappie had been gone for four days. He probably thought he’d already done his good deed by leaving Chappie alone, and here we were bringing home another.

One of the greatest things about small dogs is that they are so easy to pick up. There’s no need to coax and cajole them to go anywhere because if you want them on your lap or off the cat, you can just lift them up and carry them away!

Fitz hangin'
Fitz watches me exercise.

I could say we’re being altruistic by housing these pups, but they are giving back at least as much as we’re providing. They love us so unconditionally even though they don’t stay with us very long. Officially Fitz already has a permanent home, but his new companion will be out of the country for two weeks, so we get to have him for that time. I got to meet the woman who is adopting him, and she seems wonderful. I think it would be much harder to give him up if I didn’t know he’d be in a happy home. But apparently during his trial visit, he played with his new sibling dog quite well and got along with the whole family.

So I can’t say that I’m ever going to be one of those ladies who carries miniature dogs in their purses a la Legally Blonde, but I’m definitely warming up to these little critters. How could I not?

Sometimes you’ve just gotta look at cute cat photos…

Sorry, I couldn’t resist reposting this cute photo of two cats creating a heart.








Or this photo of a cat in a toilet…










Or this photo of a baby reading to a cat…



But that’s absolutely the last photo of a cat that I’m putting in this post, except…

for a photo of my own cat.