Category Archives: Wayward Living

Monday is for Molly Mutt

Here’s how far behind I am in posting:

My birthday happened way back on February 17. Around that time, I received a super awesome gift in the mail from my friend Miranda.

I’m writing about it today because it’s Monday. And Miranda, the gift and her new dog Moby all start with the letter M…

Although I loved it from first sight, I had no idea how useful Miranda’s gift would become to me. I use it every single day.

It’s a Molly Mutt tote bag, embroidered with my name.

persolnalized Molly Mutt tote bag

persolnalized Molly Mutt tote bag

Let’s be honest: Like a lot of contemporary consumers, I have a lot of reusable totes. Too many, in fact.

They clog up the coat rack and don’t always make it to the grocery store with me. I don’t use them often enough and yet I can’t bring myself to throw them away. They are functional, but they aren’t fun to use. They are made of weird fabrics and only offer that one big compartment, which isn’t so convenient if you are doing anything but transporting groceries.

The Molly Mutt tote on the other hand is a tote-ally different story.

Rather than that stiff laminated fabric that a lot of freebie totes are made of, the Molly Mutt bag is soft to the touch yet durable. Looking at the stitching, I can’t ever imagine a handle breaking. And although I’ve had the bag very full, the straps never seem to cut into my shoulder.

The bag itself is roomy but not oversized. I’ve stuck the elderpin inside it a time or two and more lately have been using it to transport my laptop. Of course, the bag is ideal for any shopping excursion or for carrying a dog’s supplies for a trip.

In addition to the main compartment, the Molly Mutt bag has a flat front pocket and two small ones inside.

A lot of my dog mom friends have been fans of Molly Mutt for a while. This is the first time I have ever used one of the brand’s products. I now understand their devotion.

What’s your favorite bag? Leave your answer in the comments.

While you’re online, go check out Miranda’s blog!

This post is in no way sponsored by Molly Mutt – it’s 100% my opinion.

Birthday Reflections: Life Flows On

A significant day in my life passed yesterday with very little fanfare.

My 32nd birthday was overshadowed by a series of unfortunate personal events.

On Saturday, our house flooded due to a plumbing problem. On Sunday, I dropped my phone in the toilet. On Monday, I fell down in a snowdrift.

The third incident actually had very little bearing on anything, other than it caused me to re-enter my workplace on the afternoon of my birthday with a wet behind. And it makes for a kind of funny detail.

But the first events – especially number 1 – were disappointing, costly and inconvenient, to say the least.

crystal at 32

As I type tonight, a 32-years-and-1-day-year-old dog mom, industrial fans and  dehumidifiers surround me, humming loudly, slowly drawing the excess moisture from our floorboards. The constant noise is soothing to Zach but sets me on edge.

I don’t know what it is about white noise, but it’s always bothered me. Even the modest motor in our bedroom fan sometimes delays my sleep or startles me in the night.

The motors in these monsters are way louder. But I think I’ll live.

They’ve done an amazing job so far of evaporating the thousands of gallons that poured through our kitchen, gathered in the subflooring and rained down hard on some of our most prized but little used musical gadgetry. The sight in our basement Saturday night was so sad I let the professional clean-up crew take the pictures.

For their safety, we sent Scooby and Blind Willie to the kennel through the first couple days of the drying. As we drug all manner of items from our basement to strew across our main floor to air out, it was just too dangerous to let a totally blind and a half-blind, half-deaf dog stumble around.

Fortunately, Luke’s senses are strong enough that could get around OK. He even seems to enjoy napping in front of the big fans in the daytime.

I brought the little guys back home today. They don’t seem perturbed by the loud machines, other than they don’t seem to like the fans blowing on their fur. Mostly, all three of the dogs snooze. I envy them their ability to tune out the incessant whirring.

miniature pinscher and jack russell terrier

But I’m not really complaining.

We are lucky to have these fans. We are lucky our house was not damaged worse. Considering at the time I discovered the flooding, water was shooting into an electrical outlet, we are lucky our house didn’t burn up with three sweet dogs inside it.

I don’t know quite what to make of the rash of frustrating, water-related events that occurred within 32 hours of my 32nd birthday.  I think I’m going to look at it all as some kind of cleansing, dictated by the universe.

Maybe it means my year 32 is going to be really good.

I’ll do what I can to make it so.

Brew Paws: Boomer the Black and Tan


Today the Brew Paws series returns with Brittany and Boomer, a homebrewing, roadtripping duo who chart their adventures over at the Paws for Beer blog

Why did you start homebrewing?

I love going on brewery tours and visiting tap rooms but what actually inspired me to start home-brewing was President Obama.   I know that may sound kind of odd – but he was what got me to buy my first home-brewing kit.  I was watching the news and there was a story about how the White House was home-brewing beer.  Home-brewing was gaining in popularity a few years ago and Obama wanted to know more about it, so they bought a kit and started brewing beer at the White House.  I thought it was really cool that someone who is that busy took the time to learn how to brew beer.  I also felt that someone, like me, who was a heck of a lot less busy could find some time to brew up a few batches of beer!  I ordered a starter kit and I’ve been brewing for about a year now.  I just brewed up the White House Honey Amber recipe, which you can now buy online, and it is quite delicious!  They also have a White House Honey Porter that I am wanting to try.


Does Boomer help you in the homebrewing process?

Boomer would probably love to help me brew but I usually let him play outside while I’m brewing.  He’s got a lot of hair and the potential for contamination is higher if he is in the room with me.  He is also a pretty big dog and for him to get under foot while I’m lugging around a 5 gallon brew kettle of hot water probably would not end well for either of us!

What is your favorite type of beer?

I rotate around a bit on what I like but right now I am really into India Pale Ales.  Black IPA’s specifically.  I live in the Pacific Northwest – an area that is well known for growing flavorful hops.  I like the nice crisp bite of a hoppy citrus beer – which that sort of flavoring lends itself to an IPA. IPA’s give you your most bang for your buck with bold flavors and a slightly higher alcohol content so you can drink less beer … not that I do!  If I am not drinking my own home-brew I can usually be found with some sort of Oregon or Washington brewery’s beer in my hand!


If Boomer was a beer, what kind would he be?

Because of Boomer’s coat coloring I always joke that he would be a black and tan.  So a Guinness with a little Harp beer!

What kind of beers do you brew?

I brew mainly Amber and Pale Ales.  They are pretty easy and do not require refrigeration during the fermentation process like a Lager does.  I throw a lot of beer tasting parties for my friends at my house and find that ambers and pales are the easiest to share.  Although  I like ambers and pales I am going to slowly work my way towards brewing more beers I prefer, like the IPA’s and some darker beers such as porters and see what my friends think of those.  There’s such a wide array of beers out there to try you should never limit yourself to just one kind!


What makes Boomer a super awesome dog?

Boomer does have a lot of awesomeness but what I like best about him is that I can take him anywhere, to a friend’s house or on a 10 day road trip and he is always excited to be where ever we are going.  We also have a really great bond between us which I have never had that with any other dog before.  He’s a great friend to have and an excellent co-pilot!


If you like dogs and beer, head over to to learn more about my company and how to make your dog a better drinking buddy.

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Baked with Love on St. Simon’s Island

Look what Luke and Scooby munched on all weekend!

dog cookies made by The Island Baker Miranda Loehle

These beautiful treats were a surprise gift, sent by our good friend Miranda Loehle, aka The Island Baker.

The round, dark cookies are carob chip, a safe and healthy alternative to chocolate for dogs. The cute cut outs are peanut butter biscuits.

Miranda also makes delectable cakes and cupcakes for people. Unfortunately, because she lives about 1,500 miles away in St. Simon’s Island, Georgia, the dogs and I are used to admiring her works of edible art from afar.

I can assure you if we lived in her delivery area, I would have two plumper pups!

Thank you, Miranda, for the wonderful surprise!!

For more mouth-watering images of Miranda’s delicious creations for people and canines, check out!

What’s Been Going On

I’ve been a bad blogger lately.

Overstacking my plate is a natural tendency of mine that reached new levels in the past few months.

But I don’t want to whine about my self-inflicted busy daze. I want to share some things I haven’t had time to write about. This could take a few days.

Let’s be honest.

After Charlie Machete, I wasn’t sure if we’d ever foster a dog again at Wayward House. Too much emotion and self-doubt surrounded the whole concept. What if we didn’t pay enough attention to our own aging forever dogs? What if we got too attached? What if we failed another dog?

I’m not kidding here. This stuff is heavy.

But I am so tied into the rescue community and have such a heart for dogs that I could not help myself from helping.

The opportunity to contribute to animal rescue was most definitely a motivating factor in the establishment of my business Beer Paws, which gives back a portion of all sales to the cause.

So was the creation of the Wayward Dog Foundation a few months later.

WD logo

Yet from spring to December, I only ever brought one adoptable home for the night.

That was Razzy, on the night before he was adopted.

long-haired dachshund

Through the rest of the summer and fall, I kept helping. I raised money. I networked.

Then, in November, I technically had a foster dog again.

He was black.

His name was Charlie.

He never made it to my house.

Charlie the poodle

Charlie the miniature poodle went straight from KC Pet Project to boarding at Kennel Creek Pet Resort, as a guest of the Wayward Dog Foundation.

He barely lasted a week before bewitching my friend, Kennel Creek owner and Foundation co-founder Chris Sailors. (I think PJ Ruth of MOSH Pit KC must have somehow known that would happen when she called me about the poodle she encountered mid-surrender in the shelter lobby.)

Although a far cry from the challenge we faced before, this rescue win – and the successful rehoming of Foundation dogs Buckshot, Penny and Razzy – emboldened me.

So, a few weeks later I got real brave.

I told Zach I wanted to bring a Wayward Dog Foundation adoptable home “just for the night.”

You will never believe what happened next (unless you follow me on Instagram or Facebook and have already seen the evidence).

Come back tomorrow for the full story.

Reflecting on a Really Weird Year

Looking back is what people do at the end of a year.

We review in our minds the awesome, awful and weird things (because that’s the kind of stuff that sticks out in our memories) we’ve done or that have happened to us over the past 12 months.


Maybe we try to make sense of it all, or maybe we just catalog the incidents as individual souvenirs from a moment in time. Maybe we even let Facebook or Instagram do this all for us through an automatically generated montage of “significant” posts.

I’m no different than any of you.

The biggest moments of my 2013 have been on a constant loop in my head lately. And I don’t know about you, but for me 2013 was intense.

I really can’t remember another year in my life that has been so extreme.

Because this blog is about a little more than just dogs, if you’ve been following, you know 2013 brought death and disappearance to my human family. The dynamics of my canine pack also changed in an unhappy way.

I am not special for having experienced these things. Everyone on the earth experiences loss.

I can only imagine that they, too, experience it as a series of permanent holes in the heart, dark tunnels you ought to be mindful of exploring too late in the night or even too often during the day.

the lost playmate

And yet, you can’t just forget these loved ones even though you can’t hug them anymore. You have to figure out how to carry them with you, to feel their influence but not their weight.

Because your life, your responsibilities – none of that stops.

In fact, if you are like me, you probably forge ahead while creating more responsibilities for yourself. That’s the other half of the reason my year was so intense.

In 2013, I accomplished things I never expected to do.

I started a business.

I co-founded a non-profit organization that helps save dogs.

And through it all, most miraculously, I got to celebrate another round of holidays with my impossibly ancient and beloved elderpin Scooby.

miniature pinscher with Beer Paws koozie

Cheers to 2014. I don’t know what’s in store, but I’m ready for the new year. Are you?

Thanks for reading this blog, and being part of my life in 2013. The community of kind souls who follow this blog and related social media channels make every day better.

Lady Esther: The Cat that Was Not a Cat

woman in holiday poinsettia sweater

Last night I met a remarkable woman at a downtown Christmas party in Kansas City.

Her name is Betty.

She has always lived in Kansas City. When she was a young girl, she lived on Country Club Plaza.

She really wanted a pet cat. However, her mother did not like cats. So her father brought Betty the next best thing.

A pet skunk.

vintage photo of girl with pet skunk

Lady Esther’s scent glands had been removed, but she was still named for the perfume Betty’s mother wore and that her father didn’t like.

When Betty put a harness on Lady Esther and walked her around the neighborhood, people crossed the street to avoid them.

“She walked with her tail straight up!” Betty says.

When she wasn’t walking or cuddling with Betty, Lady Esther lived in their use. She used a litter box.

“She was just like a cat,” Betty says.

When Betty went to college, Lady Esther was given to a man who ran a barbecue restaurant. Unfortunately, Betty says Lady Esther must have eaten too much barbecue, for she didn’t live long after that.

After college, Betty went on to do work at a local nature center, helping orphaned squirrels and other creatures get strong enough to go back out in the wild. She also spent many years serving lunch to students in a Parkville, Missouri, cafeteria.

Sometimes she runs into them, when she’s out hunting hedge apples for craft projects.

Thanks for the lovely conversation, Betty! I wish you a very happy holiday season!

Readers: What’s the most unusual pet you have ever had or encountered?


Quote of the Day: What a Dog Wants

golden retriever in reindeer antlers

“The dog’s agenda is simple, fathomable, overt: I want. ‘I want to go out, come in, eat something, lie here, play with that, kiss you.’ There are no ulterior motives with a dog, no mind games, no second-guessing, no complicated negotiations or bargains, and no guilt trips or grudges if a request is denied.”

- Caroline Knapp

Don’t forget to enter my #DiamondNaturals grain-free dog food giveaway!

Putting Your Dog in a Pooch Pouch

Outward Hound Pooch Pounc

Have you ever put your dog in a pooch pouch?

I used to carry Scooby in over-the-shoulder, purse-style carriers.

We did that to the point that he still sometimes tries to hop in purses left open on the floor.

Over the past few years, though, Scooby has mostly traveled on leash or under my arm.

However, in the span of one recent week, he received two of the same Outward Hound Pet-a-Roo carriers from friends.

I call them pooch pouches because they are backpacks you wear in the front, and your dog sticks out of the little pouch.

Outward Hound Pet-a-Roo pooch pouch navy

The Pet-a-Roos we got are identical except in color.

One is black, one is blue.

I’m not an ace at adjusting straps on products like this, so I waited to try out the pouches until Zach was home and could properly fit them to me. There are a lot of straps.

You have two adjustable shoulder straps, plus one strap that threads through those and goes around your waist. There is also an optional strap you can clip to your dog’s collar or harness.

Other than that, the only way to secure him into the pouch is by tightening the mesh top of the pouch – you just pull the strings and tighten like you would a cinch style bag.

Outward Hound Pet-a-Roo

Note to self: Don’t wear a shirt with a drape-y neck during a pooch pouch photo session.

The idea is for these pooch pouches to make the person able to have their little pet close without tying up your hands.

While I wouldn’t put enough faith in that cinch-to-secure mechanism to actually bend over without a hand on Scooby, I can see how the Pet-a-Roo would make walks with Scooby more ergonomic for me once he hits the point of tired feet.

From his perspective, though, I think the Pet-a-Roo could have an ergonomic improvement.

The base of the bag, on which the dog perches is not as wide as my body. It makes a great seating pad, but the design does not allow for a dog Scooby’s size to lay down.

Outward Hound Pet-a-Roo

From experience with an improvised knap sack-turned-pooch pouch, I know that while Scooby enjoys sniffing the air (and seeing as much as his cataract-filled eyes will permit), there comes a time on every walk, when he would rather duck down and snooze. This is especially true in cold weather.

With that said, my evaluation of the Pet-a-Roo is this. It’s a novel item that I would consider taking on warm weather walks with KC Pittie Pack, as an alternative to holding Scooby under my arm when he wears out. In these cases, the Pet-a-Roo would actually be far preferable to his wool knapsack. Also, the front-carry design is more comfortable for me than over-the-shoulder messenger-style pet carrier.

Big thanks to my friends Kathy and Heather who gave us the Pet-a-Roos!

Now, if I can figure out how to convert one into a secure doggy seat for the car, we will really be in business!

How do you carry your pet around when he or she doesn’t walk?

If you haven’t already, go enter my #DiamondNaturals grain-free kibble giveaway!


The Illustrious Career of an Elderpin

As a toy breed, Scooby the elderpin is not classified as a working type of dog.

But he has almost always had a job.

What's a retirement fund?

What’s a retirement fund?

In fact, he’s worked in a wide variety of industries. You might call the old miniature pinscher a pup of all trades.

Here are a few of the things Scooby the elderpin could put on a resume.

Security Guard (2006-2007)

Back when he worked in a screen printing office, Scooby performed the very important task of guarding the office, including the proprietors’ stash of potato chips. OK, maybe he stole some lunches, but that was his way of showing everyone that he was a tough guy who meant business. And you can bet he made a big point of demonstrating his intimidation power to delivery guys.

Newshound (2006-2009)

As the most prominent canine in a newsroom, Scooby fulfilled a variety of duties. Perhaps most importantly, he comforted young journalists who had stayed out too late the night before chasing down stories.

Scooby at work 2

Home Office Assistant (2009-2012)

This position, which Scooby performed from the comfort of his own home, was not unlike his role as a security guard. He made sure to alert all members of Reliant Media Systems of the arrival of any delivery personnel. He also ensured that the facility’s carpets were regularly cleaned – by giving the business owner a reason to clean up. (Can you guess what that was?)

Product Tester & Professional Model (2011-present)

As my constant companion, Scooby is not only expected to bring joy to my life. He has to earn his keep! Scooby is an eager worker when it comes to trying out the treats, food, clothes and general pet supplies we review here at He is also a photogenic model for other companies, including my brand Beer Paws.

Scooby at work

Pet Resort Greeter (Present)

Scooby goes to daycare at Kennel Creek Pet Resort nearly every day. And he is such an eager beaver that he recently offered to assist the staff at the front desk. From his perch on the counter, he monitors the phone, helps check in guests and keeps the employees company between tasks. He has been caught sleeping on the job, however.

Although I have told the elderpin that he is free to retire at any time, I think he will be one of those guys who always has a job.

Is there anything special on your pet’s resume? Share your story in the comments!

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