I grew up with cats.
As I was raised somewhat like an only child, with a half-brother almost a decade older, cats made sense because they like to be alone, they are quiet, cranky, a lot like I was.
When I met my partner, he was all DOGS DOGS DOGS. He had one, back in Calgary, but having grown up with them, talked about having more. All I could think about was hair and slobber and claws on your legs and climbing on you while you are trying to enjoy a tea on the sofa.
But he loves to teach. So he taught me about dogs.
When we lived in Calgary, we also lived with his daschund-jack russell mix, so I learned about dogs through him, with sort of a test-run dog.
We looked at French Bulldog rescue sites for months, the idea of a dog had become okay, I was happy to talk about adoption. On a whim one day I looked up an SPCA in Quebec, not expecting to find anything because most abandoned dogs are large breeds or chihuahuas. They had a puggle. We weren’t sure what that was, but we decided to go out and meet her.
She came running out of the back, pulling on her leash in all directions. They handed it to us and told us to take her for a walk, that she had just been posted that morning, that we were her first visitors as she’d only been there a week, that she was two, and that her name was said to be Summer, but that she didn’t respond to it. No one thought she had any training, or even if she understood French or English. She’d been left there, the man who dropped her off tried to run off without filling out the forms.
We didn’t say anything about it until we got home. The Canadian said “I really liked her.”
“So did I.” We drove back to Quebec, paid 600.00 and filed the paperwork. She came with a bed and a leash.
He was working nights when we first got her. “I don’t know what to do with her. She just looks at me.” I watched hours of Caesar Milan, but it didn’t seem any amount of dog whispering would calm her. She had boundless energy, despite being walked 75km every week for three weeks. She barked or howled at everything, dogs, loud noises, squirrels, cats, people on bikes. I had no ability to control her, she saw the Canadian as an alpha but viewed me as her competition.
I tried being assertive, but my assertion comes across as anger or intollerance. It didn’t work. It became clear to us that she had lived with children, because she is drawn to them and very patient with them, and that she had been hit, and probably tied up outside alone. She had never played fetch. She knows basic commands, like sit, stay, no, and that she understands English. She is also younger than we’d thought.
The Canadian taught me how to teach her. The weeks of making her sit at street corners, turning her away from other dogs as she screamed for friends, or walking her in circles when she wouldn’t listen paid off. She still doesn’t understand drop, and every time we put her harness on she tries stick her head in it. In time we could pick her up, and eventually she learned to cuddle with us, as she didn’t understand what that was. And after we took her camping, let her play in the dirt, hike in the woods, chew sticks, play at the beach (she’d never been swimming either), and reassured her when we figured out she was afraid of the dark, she realized we weren’t going to send her away.
Peanut Butter and Ginger Cookies – Makes 24
I love PB cookies. I’m a sucker for those with the fork prints. For the uneven edges. For a slight saltiness. Long ago I fell for the combo of peanuts and ginger when I had a Ginger Chime ginger chew of the same combo. Since then I’ve tried to convince people the two work outside of savoury applications of asian style noodles or salad dressing. It’s a tough fight. I’ve updated the classic PB cookie with fresh ginger and a touch of sesame oil, to help enhance the peanut flavour, which I find is often fighting with the sugar and butter.
225g Butter, soft but still cold, cubed
250g Brown Sugar
175g Peanut Butter, freshly ground if possible, or Chunky Natural
2 tbsp Ginger, Freshly grated
1.5 tsp Sesame Oil
275g All Purpose Flour
5g Baking Soda*
3g Kosher Salt, or 2 big pinches
Preheat your oven to 350F (if non-convection, 325 with convection)
Cream butter and sugar on med-high in your mixer, just until smooth but not aerated. Add egg and combine well, then add peanut butter, ginger, and sesame oil fully. Add sifted dry in three batches, on low. Do not overmix. I prefer to under mix in the mixer and finish by hand to keep the cookies tender.
Dough should be soft and cold, not sticky. Weigh them to 40g, shape lightly, squash with a wet fork. Bake for 17 minutes.
*Baking soda is needed in cookies not for leavening (this is done by the egg) but for colour. Depending on how you like your cookie, adjust the baking soda to your liking. These cookies are done when they are golden just around the outer edge and just set looking on top. They are soft with a slight crispness when cooled.
The Puggle would eat the whole jar of these if she could.