Thursday, February 26, 2009

Frugal Living

The past couple of months I've been staying in a lot more - less going out to the pub with friends, less dining out, less entertainment.
I wish I could be virtuous and say that this was all in an attempt to save money, or to curb the extravagances. I am not that virtuous.
All of this started when Cooper went missing, I was coming home in the evenings because I didn't feel like being out with friends while he was missing - I wanted to be near home in case anyone called saying that he'd been found, I wanted to drive around my area to check on all of the flyers I'd put up to ensure that they were still there.
This had a domino effect in that it resulted in me staying in and cooking the household meals more often, spending less on dining out, less on going to the pub, less on entertainment.
Theres been a couple of byproducts of this. The first is that I'm exploring my culinary skills more than I have in the past, and with some pretty good results. I've discovered the slow cooker. I can not believe that I have never cooked with a slow cooker before - its like magic! I put some stuff in the pot in the mornings, and when I get home from work that night, VOILA! Dinner is ready and the house smells heavenly.
Since its been chilly, grey, rainy and dreary for what feels like well over a month now, I've been doing some comfort foods - chicken breasts with stuffing, beef stew, chicken and dumplings (not in the slow cooker). I've been looking up various slow cooker recipes, getting tips from friends and coworkers, and experimenting a little on my own.
I've gotten some good results, and I've gotten some "eh" results. Thankfully, I haven't gotten any horribly disgusting results.
I've been able to catch up on a few long neglected chores around the house, I've read some good books, watched some good movies. Its nice to be a homebody for a while.
My newest experiment? I'm making my own laundry detergent.
Thats right, bitches. I'm making my own laundry detergent.
I'd seen this about a year or so ago and was curious to make my own laundry detergent at that time, but just never got around to it. Why would I want to sit at home and grate a bar of laundry soap when I could be out doing stuff with friends?
Tonight, I started the process. I had finally found all of the ingredients (bar laundry soap, Borax, washing soda, oxy clean) so this evening I sat down to watch Survivor with a cheese grater and a bar of soap - only took about 10 minutes. Totally worth it to save the amount of money, and phosphates, that this is supposed to.
The hardest ingredient to find was the washing soda. I couldn't find it at my normal grocery store, it wasn't at Walmart (and they carry everything!). I finally found it at my local Food Maxx, but I imagine that it would probably be at similar non-unionized discount grocers - possibly Food 4 Less or WinCo. The other item I had a little trouble locating was the bar soap - I found bar soap everywhere, it was just the specific brand, Fels Naptha, that was indicated. After reading a few other sites about making your own detergent, I went with Zote brand - that I was able to find EVERYWHERE. I also read sites that indicated the Fels Naptha brand is sometimes found with body soaps despite it being labeled as a laundry soap, and I also read that castile soaps, such as Dr. Bronners, works well too.
The recipe indicates that one bar of Fels Naptha is supposed to yield about 2 cups when grated. I got a considerable amount more - SIX cups. I don't know if the Zote bar is larger than the Fels Naptha, or what - but this allowed me to triple the recipe.
The cost savings is amazingly cheap. A box of Borax was about $3, the box of washing soda was around $2, the bar of Zote was about $1.50, and I was able to pick up the Oxy Clean at a local $1 store. Total cost - roughly $7.50, plus I have enough Borax, washing detergent, and Oxy Clean left for at least another triple batch. Estimating I can buy another bar of soap for $1.50 and make another triple batch, that brings total costs up to $9 - lets say $10 when you factor in the sales tax.
Another perk is that a light load of laundry uses only 1 Tbsp, a large or heavy load takes 2 Tbsp. That means that ONE batch will give you enough detergent for approximately 35 large or heavy loads, so six batches will accommodate 210 large or heavy loads... I'll round down to 200 for easy math.
200 loads of laundry for a total cost of $10 - thats only 5 cents per load. Much cheaper than Tide or Arm & Hammer.
I haven't actually tried this just yet - I only finished mixing it all together about 30 minutes ago. However, as soon as I finish my first load, I'll let you know how it turns out. Just from looking at it I would suggest that you keep it in an airtight container, obviously, but would also suggest that you shake the container before each use. From what I can tell already, it seems as though the powder ingredients (Borax, washing soda and oxy clean) have a tendency to settle to the bottom.
Reading through the comments on the original recipe that I followed, people seem to indicate that this formula is great for HE washers because it generates less suds, and that it is ideal for hot temperature washes. However, if you need to do a load in a cold wash, users seemed to have good results when they ran the washer on warm or hot for the first 30-45 seconds or so, then switched to cold water.
Users also said that this worked perfectly for those with ultra-sensitive skin, ideal for babies, and much better for the environment than standard commercial detergents. When I make the next batch, I think I will consdier using a Dr Bronners castile soap rather than the Zote. I would definitely use a castile soap if I were using this on laundry for an infant - more natural ingredients since the Zote or Fels Naptha do still contain some petro-chemicals.
I've been told that there is a way to use these same ingredients and by boiling them down you can make a liquid laundry detergent... I just didn't feel like "cooking" laundry detergent and thought I'd go with the powder formula first. However, here is the liquid version in case you're interested, I may try this next time rather than another powder version.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Dog Days

It wasn't that long ago that Cooper spent a week at the vets, being treated for parvovirus. At that time, I was worried that he wouldn't make it through the illness, or that if he did, he would never be the same energetic pup that he had been just days before.
Then, he managed to escape from my yard. Twice. The first time was just for 3 days, but the second time was for three entire weeks. Thankfully, I was able to bring him home where he has remained ever since.
Once he was neutered, microchipped, fully vaccinated, and had healed from the neutering, I wanted to take him to the dog park. I wanted to get him out with other dogs so that he could play off some of his excess energy and socialize with other dogs. Unfortunately, the weather the past couple of weeks has prevented a trip to the dog park. Saturday, there was a break in rain so Cooper and I went.
It was fantastic to watch him play with everyone. Hilarious because you could tell that he was a little overwhelmed at first... so many butts to sniff, where to start?
It was wonderful to see him running and playing with all of the other dogs -- he was especially interested in a Miniature Australian Shepherd and a Pug mix. He was also intrigued by the big dogs (he thinks he is one) on the other side of the fence.

An hour at the dog park works up quite a thirst.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

"So, thats what it takes to get Vanessa to exercise"

Yesterday I came home from work and as I pulled into my driveway, I saw a woman down the street trying to get a hold of a small black dog that was running down the road.
Initially, my heart skipped about a dozen beats. My very first thought was that Cooper had somehow managed to get out of the yard, again. Thankfully, that was not the case. I ran up a little ways to ask the woman if she needed help catching her dog. The dog wasn't hers, but we could see that the dog had a collar with tags so we wanted to grab him so that, one, he wouldn't get hit, and two, we could call his owner.
The dog was being INCREDIBLY evasive, so I ran into my house to grab some milk bones, hoping to lure him close enough for me to get a grip on his collar. He did come up for the milk bone, but snatched it out of my hand and took off before I could grab him. This woman (who's name I never got) and I walked/jogged/ran this dog for over 40 minutes. Two more women in the neighborhood joined us in our efforts.
Collectively, were getting really concerned for this little guy. It was getting dark and our street is not well lit in addition to having a lot of trees, so it gets pretty dark, and this dog is solid black. On top of that, people have a tendency to drive down our street way too fast. One man in particular came flying down the street as we're standing in the middle of it, waving flashlights at him and waving our arms for him to slow down. He sees the dog at the last minute and slams on his brakes, barely missing this dog. He was suddenly ambushed by four women cursing him out to "Slow the F down when you drive on our street!"
For 40 minutes we followed this dog, circling back, venturing down different driveways in the attempt to get him out of harms way and back to his home.
In the end he ran into someones front yard where there were two children, a boy and a girl. When he allowed the little girl to hold on to him, we thought he'd found his home. Not so, he lives in the house across the street. The little boy started walking over to the dogs home, telling me that he had been trying to bring the dog home since he got out of school that afternoon and had chased him about 2 miles down the road, but stopped when they got to a busy intersection because he was afraid that the dog would run out into traffic and get hit.
When the boy went up to the door of the owner and told her that her dog was over in her yard but that he didn't bring him over because he didn't have a leash and was afraid that the dog would get away again.
Now, if I go back to last month, and if a neighbor had come over to tell me that Cooper was in their yard across the street, I would have been pounding pavement to get my behind over there to bring him home. This dog had been out at least since that boy had gotten out of school that afternoon - about 4 hours - and this woman was not out looking for him.
Do you want to know what he said to the boy who had her dog over in his yard?
A flat toned "oh, do you want his leash so you can bring him over?".
I was outraged that she showed so little concern over her pet. Add that lack of concern to how obvious it was that the dog was not well socialized around people, and I would be willing to bet money that the poor thing is put out in a yard and left there, alone, given very little interaction with people. At that point, I just walked away because I knew that if I started to say anything to this woman, it would not go well and that I would probably be less than kind - not a good example to set in front of the boy that was there. So, I walked back home.
I was sweaty, out of breath, and realized that considering I had just had more exercise in those 40 minutes that I have had in several months, that I am in the worst physical shape that I have ever been. When I got home and sat down, I started coughing... a very productive cough. Not. Good. Smoking. Bad.
So, what did I do? I sent the following text message to a couple of friends:
Omg. Just spent 40 mins running trying to catch a lost dog in my neighborhood. fat + smoker = not meant for running. So going to pub

Because what do you do after coming to the realization that you're in incredibly poor physical shape? You go drink and smoke.
Cooper and I get to the pub and as I walk in to the bar, one of my friends looks at me and starts laughing.
"Can I tell you what my first thought was when I got your text?"
"So, thats what it takes to get Vanessa to exercise. Just dangle a poor lost animal in front of you."
I looked at her and said, "yep, you're about right."
So, if I could just find a lost animal to chase for about 40-45 minutes, twice a week, then that could save me from some monthly gym fees. Or, I could just join that gym.

Monday, February 16, 2009

It's Time To Reclaim My Position

As the master of the house that is.
Before Cooper went missing, he was no where near perfectly trained. He would sit the majority of the time, occaisionally it took more than one time of saying "sit", he would sometimes "stay" but most of the time not, he would occaisionally "heel", and he had gotten past the chewing stage. He definitely needed training. Then, he went missing for 3 weeks and everything regressed.
He will not "stay".
He will not "heel".
He will "sit"... when he thinks theres a treat coming his way.
He is back to chewing on things. He hasn't destroyed anything of worth. Yet, but if he can get something out of the trash, such as an empty treat container, he will chew it up and will chew on USB and power cords that hang off the back of my computer desk. Also, he has started chewing on my hands and arms and on Sams ears and legs.
Like I said, what little training I had accomplished was undone those weeks that he was missing, and I take full responsibility in not correcting it the minute he returned. I've spent the past 2 weeks since he's been home being overindulgent and letting him get away with all of this poor behavior. Now, I'm paying the price in that he does not listen.
It's time for obedience school or training classes of some sort. It is time for me to reclaim my position as the alpha dog in this pack... as his master.
What I need help with is finding classes. Can anyone suggest affordable and effective training? Any opinions on PetSmart or Petco? I think he would do better with a smaller class since he does get very excited whenever he sees other dogs (he wants to play and make friends!!!) but I do think a class setting would be better than private training since we do need to work on his behavior around other dogs.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

It Runs In the Family

Overall, my family is a fairly intelligent group of people. Of course there are certain areas where this is more prevalent than others... as a whole, we tend to pick up languages easily, there a couple very gifted writers, we tend to be ahead of the curve when learning new topics. For some of us, this translates to very practical purposes, for others it applies to more abstract topics.
Despite this, we are all prone to moments of extreme.... dippyness. We all do things that make a person look at us and want to pat us on the head while saying "you're pretty". The one who does this the most frequently is my aunt, Gloria.
A few years ago Gloria was over one day and used my shower. This is something that her and her daughters love to do - use my shower - because one of my self indulgences is bath products. In my shower you are guaranteed to find at least 2 different types of shampoo & conditioner, 3 body washes, and a variety of loofahs and loofah type products.
Anyways, Gloria used my shower and when she came out she said "Hey Ness, I LOVE your new exfoliating glove. Its fanastic! I hope you don't mind that I used it".
Vanessa: No prob... what?
Gloria: Your exfoliating glove.
V: What exfoliating glove?
G: The one in your bathroom. It was on top of the toilet.
V: I don't have an exfoliating glove.
G: Yeah you do - the blue rubbery one.
V: ... :::blinking:::....
G: Hang on, I'll get it.

and she comes back out with this

I busted up laughing.
G: Whats so funny?
V: hahahahaha..snort...hahaha
G; What?
V: Take a good look at that.. hahahaha
G: What?
V: Thats not an exfoliating glove. Thats a grooming glove. I bathe the dogs with it... you're so pretty.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Nessacery Tutorial

Last week news broke that a mortgage company located in Sacramento turned out to be a Ponzi scheme. As this news was about to be broadcast and published, one of the key players chartered a private jet and fled the country. Then it came to light that there were actually three key players and all three had fled the country within the past year.
I've been following this story because the mortgage company in question spent the past year leasing one of the suites in the office building where I work.
The further things unraveled, it turned out that this mortgage company was not actually a Ponzi scheme, but allegedly was purchasing real estate and selling the properties to "straw buyers".
A "straw buyer" is someone whose credit is used to purchase a property and secure financing. Sometimes they cooperate willingly and sometimes they are victims of identity theft, but it's always illegal.

This scheme has allegedly resulted in the fraud of about $100 million from lenders.
On Tuesday, two of these men were detained. One was arrested in Spain where he is being held, and is currently fighting extradition to the US. A second, the one who chartered the private jet, had flown from Las Vegas to Ireland, then from Ireland to Lebanon, then from Lebanon to Canada. In Canada he was attempting to take a taxi across the border where he was arrested.
What have we learned about attempting to flee the US?
1. Research what countries have extradition treaties with the US. Then don't go there.
2. Once you've fled the country, DON'T COME BACK.
3. Criminals are dumb.

Read the whole story here.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Pork 'n Pasta

A couple days ago I mentioned my compulsion for stocking my pantry with canned beans and tomato products. In an attempt to use up some of those items, I prepared dinner with a couple of them this evening.
I didn't want to go with the obvious chili or stew, so I took a peek at what else I had in the fridge and pantry to see what else I could come up with. I have no idea of what I should call the resulting dish. I'll try to write it up as much like a real recipe as I can.

1 lb gemelli pasta, or similar
1 lb ground pork
1/2 of a yellow onion, chopped
2 heaping Tbsp minced garlic
2 14.5 oz cans Italian style stewed tomatoes
1 15.5 oz can canelini beans, rinsed & drained
1 bag spinach, rinsed and torn into pieces
16 oz package sliced mushrooms
Italian seasoning
olive oil
shredded parmesan (the kind in the little tub, not in a can. Cheese should never come in a can)

Prepare pasta according to package directions (see! already sounding like real recipe). As a standard rule, I always add a little bit of olive oil and garlic salt with parsley to the water that I prepare the pasta in.

In a large pot, pour in a little bit of olive oil. Add in the garlic, onion, and pork and brown all 3 together. Once the pork has been adequately browned, add in the beans and tomatoes (do not drain the tomatoes). Stir in the mushrooms. Allow this mixture to simmer for approximately 20 minutes. At this point, it should look like this:

Rinse, drain and tear the spinach into pieces

Gradually add the spinach to the pork mixture, stirring as you go to allow the spinach to wilt into the sauce. Once you've added in all of the spinach, season to taste with pepper and Italian seasoning. I use the Italian seasoning that comes in one of those grinder bottles.

Serve with shredded parmesan cheese.

I'll probably make this dish again, but do some alterations to it. I think the sauce could have used some tomato past, not much though, maybe just one small can. OR, if I do it again, I may drain the tomatoes completely and add some cream and allow it to cook down some. I'll continue to experiment with it and see what develops.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

This. Is. WAR.

Last week, before Cooper came home, I went out back to feed Sam on our patio one evening. Rather than eat, Sam wanted to stay inside. So, I left the bowl of food on the patio thinking that he would eat it when I let him out to go to the bathroom later.

Later, when I let him outside, his dish was empty. What?
So, after he'd gone to the bathroom I put him back in the house, put a little more food in his dish on the patio, and then watched out the window. Within 2-3 minutes, a couple of rats come up and start eating out of the dish. RATS. Mother effing rats! I know that I have to do something about this so I start asking around at work for advise on how to deal with this.

Of course, a number of people suggest that I get d-con, but after what I went through with Maddie last year I am beyond hesitant to use d-con.
I consider the traditional spring action traps, like what you would see on an old episode of Tom & Jerry. But, I'm sure that just like happened to Tom, I would set the trap on myself and only succeed in breaking a finger which in true cartoon fashion would immediately swell to 5 times the size of any other finger and visibly throb a glowing red.
So, I decide to go with glue traps. The last time I went to the store, I did not take a list so of course I forgot to get them. Today I went back to the store. With a list. With the glue traps on the list.
I decided that the only sure way to put the glue traps in a path that the rats would take, would be to put them near food. So, tonight I filled a small bowl with food and completely surrounded it with the traps. An hour later I go to look out the window to see what kind of progress has been made. When I go to the window, what do you think I saw?
Thats right, they moved the traps out of the way so that they could get to the food.

I have no clue what step I will take next, but I WILL win this challenge. I WILL come out the victor.

Any tips or suggestions?

Friday, February 06, 2009

What I Love About Cooper

I am SO incredibly overjoyed to have Cooper back. overwhelmingly filled with joy. The first 24 hours after I got him back, I don't think I stopped smiling once. I was giddy, over the moon, words can not possibly describe how happy I was.

The first morning he was home, he was so effing cute and adorable, it was hard to go to work. I really wanted to call in sick and spend the day with him, and he was pulling every trick in his hat to try to make that happen.
First, he would dance around me as I was walking around the house and then he would make his way back towards my bedroom, stopping every couple of feet to make certain that I was following him. Once he got to the bedroom, he hopped up on my bed and snuggled into the blankets as if to say "Look, we could just stay in bed all day. We could cuddle, you could give me belly rubs, I could give you kisses, and we could eat fauxreos! It would be the perfect day!" It was tempting, very very tempting, but I continued to get ready for work. At that point he tried one of his old tricks... he tried to prevent me from getting dressed. As I am putting on my pants, he jumps up, gently grabs my pants with his mouth, and pulls them back down. It is hilarious. I missed this little trick of his SO much while he was gone. At one point during the 3 weeks that he was missing, I made a list of all of the things he did that I missed. At the time, I was afraid that if he never came back home that I would eventually forget all of his little quirks that I find so endearing. These are the things I love about Cooper.
How much he loves Sam. Any time they are reunited after being separated, the first thing Cooper does is jump up and give Sam kisses on his face.
In the mornings, Cooper wakes me up by covering my face with kisses. If he is hungry, thirsty, or needs to go outside, and I don't get up quickly enough for him, he will gently grab my hand with his mouth and try to pull me up and out of bed.
In the mornings that he wants me to stay in bed with him, he will lay on me to try to prevent me from getting out of bed.
He can be a fairly picky eater. If I've gotten some treats for him that he doesn't particularly care for, rather than eating them he will take them and drop them in my purse. It can be annoying to be looking through my purse for my car keys or something like that and instead find crumbled up bits of a dog biscuit, but I missed it while he was gone.
He knows my morning routine and herds me through it. He knows that I go from my bed, to the bathroom, then to the kitchen for a cup of coffee, and he walks right alongside my feet herding me through this routine. If I deviate from that route at all he is momentarily confused.
The way he reacts whenever I bring the leash out. He knows that means we're going somewhere and he starts jumping and dancing and racing towards the door. He gets SO excited that it can be challenging to clip the leash to his collar.
He knows the route to the pub, recognizes when we're getting close and knows that it means he's going to see friends who will give him love and attention. He LOVES being out in public - a true social butterfly.
Sometimes, he lays down on his belly with his legs stretched out behind him. Like a frog.
When I'm at the computer he lays on his side at my feet.

His eyelashes. I know that sounds weird, to love a dogs eyelashes, but his are amazing. He has got the longest eyelashes I have ever seen on anyone or anything. Seriously, a drag queen would not wear eyelashes like this because they are too long and outrageous.

His lack of a face. His hair gets so fluffy, and is so thick, that at times it looks as though he doesn't have eyes or a mouth. At least thats what my friend Phil has always said. Actually, when Cooper was sick with Parvovirus back in December, Phil claimed that it wasn't parvo that was making him sick at all but the lack of a mouth because how can a puppy possibly stay healthy without a mouth with which to eat and drink?


He lets me know when he's ready to go to bed. If I'm sitting here on the computer and its what he has decided is bedtime (midnight, by the way... which really should be my bedtime anyways). Right around midnight, he will come up to me and first STARE at me, if that doesn't work then he will start talking to me.
The way he eats fauxreos - licking out all of the cream filling first.
He prefers to drink running water. When I go into the bathroom, he will jump into the tub and wait for me to turn the faucet on to a rapid drip.
When he's been recently groomed (with a cut, not just bathing), his hair looks, and feels, like plush velvet.
The way his tail curls up and over his back end.
I love taking photos of him and playing with them in Photoshop.


I've told you about Sam, now you can know what he looks like.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

I Don't Know What My Issue Is

As any one of my friends can attest, I have plenty of strange little quirks:
I can't go #2 in public bathrooms (it has to be a real urgent situation in order for me to do so).
No matter how messy my environment is, all books have to be facing in the same direction on the bookshelf.
I will buy any bath product that says it contains minerals or salts from the Dead Sea.
The list goes on, but you get the idea. Recently, I realized that I have another quirk. Almost every single time I go to the grocery store, I buy some variety of canned tomatoes and beans. Even if its not on my list and I am fairly certain I have some at home. As a result, my pantry is overflowing with both:

I do use both a lot in pasta sauces, soups, stews, chilis, etc, but I don't know why I buy them so compulsively.
Keep in mind that these photos do not show the dried beans and lentils that I have as well. Seriously, I have practically every variety of dried beans and lentils. Its as though I'm preparing for some sort of natural disaster.

I'm formulating a recipe to prepare for tomorrow night that will at least use up some of the tomato cans and possibly some beans as well. Hopefully it will turn out well, if so I'll post the recipe here.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

But, I Never Gave Up Hope

This morning I woke up, knowing that today marks 3 weeks since Cooper went missing.
Over the past week I've been rationalizing with myself that I will probably never see him again. Last Tuesday, which marked 2 weeks missing, I started trying to accept the fact that someone had most likely taken him in and made him a part of their family and was with someone who would give him as much love and care as I would.

Even though I was trying to rationalize this concept with myself, and accept the fact that he was gone, I still help on to the hope that I'd bring him home soon -- an overwhelming hope at times.

While I was at work this afternoon, my cell phone rang. When I answered it, a woman asked "Vanessa?"
"This is she"
"I think I have Cooper in my yard"

As soon as I got her address I flew out of work at went straight to her house.

Yes, it is Cooper. He is back at home, and doing fairly well considering he'd been missing for 3 weeks.
So, heres the story about how he was found.
The woman who found him, Zinny, had seen the flyers I'd put up throughout the neighborhood - there was one right in front of her house. Since she'd seen the flyer everyday, she knew what he looked like and his name.
This afternoon as she's in her kitchen, she hears a big commotion with the chickens in her backyard. Thinking that they were maybe laying eggs, she peeks out and sees Cooper chasing her chickens. Thinking that he looked like the dog on the flyer in front of her house, she called out "Cooper! Stop!" and he came running right up to her.

She thought he resembled the dog on the flyer, aside from him currently being in desperate need of a haircut, so she walked outside to the flyer to get my phone number and call me.

There is one thing that disturbed me about the condition he was in when I picked him up, that he's still in now. He has lost a considerable amount of weight - I would estimate he's lost about 3 lbs, and with how small he is thats quite a bit. I can feel his spine, and its really obvious when I bathe him. When he's dry, his fluffiness hides how thin he currently is.
Also, someone definitely had taken him in. His collar was off and in its place was a metal link collar that had practically been BOLTED on him.

Its hard to tell in the photo, but that is basically an eye hook type closure that had been twisted shut. Here I've highlighted the closure:

A side-by-side comparison

I had to hold him while a friend took a pair of pliers to the closure in order to get it off of him. Between the weightloss, and the fact that he was fairly skittish when I tried to put his leash on him (COMPLETELY out of the norm for him usual behavior), and skittish while we were trying to get that nasty collar off of him, I have to wonder what happened to him while he was missing... who the hell had him and what on earth did they do to him?

When I brought him home this afternoon, the first thing I did was reunite him and Sam. Sam is ecstatic to have him home!
The second thing I did was call our vet and reschedule his appointment to be neutered and microchipped for this Friday.
After that, I gave him a MUCH needed bath. He still needs to get to the groomers, though. He has a considerable amount of matts and dreadlocks going on right now.
Then, he got a heroes welcome down at the pub. I had texted a few friends to let them know that he'd been found and they wanted to see it to believe it. He got lots of love, got the nasty collar removed, and had bar sausages bought for him.

When I got home tonight, I ordered a Together Tag for him ( ).

Currently, he is full of good food, snacks, and treats, and he and Sam are sleeping at my feet.

OH, and the big question...
I don't know exactly where he'd been for the past 3 weeks, but the woman who called me lives behind my next door neighbor.