Sunday, March 22, 2015

Tales: A Review of the Movie WILD

Wild with Reese Witherspoon
I love watching movies but I don't always love going to the theater. However, Wild was too tempting to wait until it was released on Blu-ray. I went to see Wild at the theater and am so glad I did. Wild is a gritty, dramatic, beautiful, and stark telling of a women's journey to healing.  I find myself becoming excited that the Blu-ray/DVD release is coming soon.

The movie Wild

The movie was based on the memoir written by Cheryl Strayed.  I had not read the book and went in with no real expectations. I half expected a "how-to" do a thru-hike from a woman's perspective. As someone who has been interested thru-hike tales, I was drawn to this movie. As it turns out, it was closer to a how-not-to thru hike. 

Reese Witherspoon plays Cheryl Strayed.  I forgot that I was watching an actress on the screen as I watched a woman begin a long hike with little preparation. I cringed over and over as I expected this to become a story of physical survival on the trail; battling heat, snow, and rough terrain.  Instead, the story unfolded as a tale of emotional survival and of finding a purpose in life.  

The gritty flashbacks of sex, drugs, and traumatic events were uncomfortable at times, but I never felt they were gratuitous nude scenes. (After all, sex sells and I feel that nudity is usually just thrown in for good measure.) The scenes in Wild were glimpses into a hard life that is made more difficult by bad choices. It seemed to me that this woman jumped into the hike in a similar way as she jumped into some life decisions; not fully prepared.  However, while on the trail she seems to begin to find that she can survive and can do so peacefully and happily.

Laura Dern plays Bobbi, Cheryl's mother.  I loved her character and could relate to her struggle to balance being a good mom while living in uneasy circumstances while on her own journey in life. And her too soon journey through dying. Again, I forgot that I was watching an actress and felt immersed in her life.

The Book - Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

I occasionally see a movie that intrigues me so much that I go back and look for the book. I plan to do that in this case. I want more details about Cheryl Strayed's life and journey.

It seems that everyone has heard of the Cheryl Strayed story. After all, the book has nearly 9,000 reviews on Amazon and has been an Oprah book club choice. Wild is an award-winning book and is not Ms. Strayed's first published work.  I'm not sure why I was so unaware of this story. But I am aware now and I'm doing my best to make sure anyone else who has been left out is aware also.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Wild is a gritty portrayal of grief and what women sometimes do to themselves. And how many women react to life circumstances.   Some of the scenes weren't comfortable but they were pertinent to the story.  Life is not always pretty and neither is this story. But it has beautiful scenes along the way and an uplifting ending.

The movie will be released on blu-ray/DVD on March 31, 2015.  I can't wait to get a copy and watch it. I am sure this will be one of those movies in my collection that I watch over and over.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Chew Treats for Finicky Dogs

I have never had a dog that was a fussy eater. Until now. Willy is choosy with his food and his treats. I know that a happy dog is one that gets plenty of playtime and exercise but it has been a challenge to find appropriate chew toys for him. Then I found Hartz Oinkies and one problem is solved.

Dog toys that are too soft

Willy LOVES to chew. He loves to shred things. If I don't keep him occupied, he will chew my socks, underwear, or towels.  He especially loves to shred towels.  I would give him old towels to play with but he ingests the strings. I am concerned that he will have digestive problems if he eats the strings. 

There are dog toys that he shreds in a similar manner. I've had dogs that can peel tennis balls or shred the tug ropes, but not as quickly as he can.  I've stopped giving him tug ropes due to the same concern I have about the strings from towels. 

Dog toys that are too hard

Willy's teeth are incredibly sharp and strong. I have never met a dog with such sharp teeth. He can bite through a thin leash in just a few moments.  Because of my concerns with soft toys, I opted to give him very hard toys. I've given him antlers, rib bones, and hooves.  He loves them!  But it doesn't take long until he is somehow chiseling off very sharp pieces.  I can't imagine that ingesting the bone or hoof shards is good for his digestive tract either.  So I give bones or hooves to him only when I'm supervising.

Treat dispensers

He likes large rubber treat dispensers and they like him. But finding a treat that keeps his interest, to put in the treat dispenser, is the problem. I have purchased bags of treats that he won't even eat from my hand.  Have I mentioned that he's a fussy dog?

Chew treats that are just right

Hartz Oinkies
Rejoice!  I have finally found a chew treat that seems to be just right. The Hartz Oinkies have a flavor that interests him (a rare thing).  He does chew and eventually eat the Oinkies pig skins, but he does so slowly. And unlike some rawhides, they don't seem to irritate his stomach.  

I was very hesitant about giving him yet another rawhide, since he has thrown up after eating previous rawhides. But for whatever reason, the Oinkies don't come back up.

If you are looking for a chew toy for a finicky dog, I highly recommend the Hartz Oinkies. 

Disclaimer: In affiliation with, Dawn Rae is a content writer who may earn compensation from the sale of these products

Monday, March 2, 2015

Solving Litter Box Woes

Cat Box Furniture
My dear Mittens the kitten was adopted and moved in with us a month ago today. There was a bit of
excitement that delayed her adoption and I knew that she was going to be a challenging kitten.  I knew that she may cause some excitement in my home. And she has. The first problem I've had to address is the disgusting litter box problem.

Mittens, despite all of her extreme naughtiness, is great with the litter box.  There have been no accidents. And even though I have moved the box several times during this month - which is not something I wanted to do - she doesn't hesitate to use it. Thank goodness for that small favor!

The problem is the dog. Willy, my young dog, used the litter box as a snack buffet at the very first opportunity. There are two things I cannot stomach about being a cat owner. One is the cat walking on the counter where I prepare food (all I can imagine are dirty litter box footprints) and dogs snacking in the box. So Willy's sneakiness has to be the very first thing I address. 
Mittens and Willy getting acquainted

Small Living Limits Litter Box Placement

I live in very small apartment with little extra space. And no extra room or closet to turn into the "cat" room. All of my past options are not an option in this small space. 

  • Bedroom - In days gone by, I would use a baby gate and block one room off from the dogs, and place the litter box in that spare room. But I don't have that luxury here. 
  • Closet - Due to creative space-saving issues for my belongings, my bedroom closet doors are permanently open, so keeping the litter box in the closet, behind a partially open closet door is not an option either. 
  • Bathroom - My bathroom is barely big enough for me. Not an option.  

Litter Box in a Crate

Dog Crate with Side Door

On the first evening that Mittens was out of her crate and roaming the house, Willy was found in the crate helping himself.  We had transitioned Mittens slowly, letting her out of the crate for small periods of time and she was doing well settling in. I didn't want to move backwards by keeping her crated more in order to guard the litter box.  A very good friend suggested that I turn the crate so that the door opens from the top of the cage.

I did exactly that. I turned the crate so that the side door opened on the top side of the crate. Mittens, the spirited kitten, had no qualms about entering the crate and accessing the litter box through the top. Because it is a dog crate, it was solid and held her weight. I just placed a towel on top to protect her little feet. The crate kept the litter box safe from the dog. However, that left a large crate in the middle of my bedroom. A perfect way to break a toe in the middle of the night and a complete eyesore.  It was a fantastic temporary solution but clearly not a good permanent solution.

Cat Bathroom Furniture

Are you aware that furniture is made specifically for hiding a litter box? Until I had started looking for solutions I had not known this bit if information. There are very beautiful pieces of furniture than can be used to hide the litter box. I looked at them all.  The only problem with the pre-built furniture was that it all looked as though the entry hole for the cats would also be large enough for Willy's head. It seemed unlikely that the cabinets would be dog-proof.     

I also found a wonderful article, with step-by-step photographs, about building your own furniture to hide the litter box. So I had decided to make my own.  I planned on going to used furniture stores to find the perfect end table to re-purpose.
Cat Box Furniture in Brown or White

Thump Thump Thump

As the days passed and I was stubbing my toe on the crate in the middle of my tiny bedroom, I was waiting for the opportunity to go to the used furniture stores, and wondering who I'd borrow a saw from, I realized the answer was right before my eyes.  Thump, thump, as the kitten was playing in the aquarium stand and was batting the door open.  Our aquarium, sits on a stand that is backless, but wooden, with a hinged door. Viola, the perfect solution to the cat bathroom problem.  Mittens clearly already entered and exited this cabinet freely.
Bowfront Aquarium and Stand

I moved the empty Aqueon brand aquarium and stand (I haven't had fish in it since moving to this apartment) to the bedroom. I will be using the aquarium as a miniature seed starting greenhouse. The lid on it will keep that cat from spilling the tiny plants. The cabinet is backless, so she enters it easily but it is close enough to the wall that the dog can't get in. And the large front door of the cabinet makes cleaning the litter box easy. 

If you have a cat and are looking for a litter box solution, I highly recommend that you get a cat litter box piece of furniture. Whether you buy one or re-purpose an existing piece of furniture, it is a great way to store that litter box.  Now, on to solving the other Mittens issues!

Disclaimer: In affiliation with, Dawn Rae is a content writer who may earn compensation from the sale of these products - at no additional cost to you.