Shouting out a very, very HaPpY Birthday to Crazy Mazie and Hooch aka Husker Du, our Mutt puppies. They turn one year old tomorrow.

On November 6, Trampled Rose Rescue & Rehab (aka TRR, an amazing organization, run by seemingly indefatigable, generous people) hosted an adoption fair in the Bywater and we were looking for a young female to join our existing brood of F.S. Fannie, now 3 1/2, and Penny Lane, now 15 1/2. Fannie has frontal lobe damage due to being pitched from a moving vehicle in New Iberia with her littermates when she was 10 weeks old. She spent a year knocking around in foster care and being rejected repeatedly by potential adopters who just could not deal with her traumatized, gloomy nature. With love and patience, she has become trusting and affectionate but other dogs are very much her comfort zone. She needs a leader, even if said leader is 11 pounds and elderly. Though Pen shows no signs of her age we know the dreaded day will one day come.

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Getting another dog was a pre-emptive move to waylay retraumatizing Fannie. We knew we wanted another female because Andrew doesn’t really like male dogs. He thinks females are more affectionate. It was a cold day November 6, and we immediately fell in love with the not-quite-eight-week-old, four-pound runt of a litter of nine. The feeling was mutual. She crawled into my sweater and fell asleep. Her given name was Bell Pepper. She seemed timid. This would pass.

We renamed her Mazie. She has unusual markings (“eyebrows,” what looks like the belly of a male crab on the back of her neck, four white socks, and a high, curled, white-tipped tail), and coloration (honey with amber eyes), as well as a deep chest and long, sleek, muscular legs. She is beautiful. Children begged to cuddle her, Cecilia demanded constant video updates, and people stopped and marveled at her in the park, inquiring as to her “breed.”

Another of her littermates was tested to determine which breeds contributed to the gene pool. Among other things they are Shar-Pei, Beagle, Rat Terrier, German Shepherd, Toy Poodle, and Jack Russel Terrier.

Just before Mardi Gras I learned Mazie’s brother, Carrot, had been ghosted by the person who had paid a hefty fee to adopt him. He needed a foster home. There’s a sucker born every minute…

“That’s a big boy,” Andrew grumbled as we collected our new charge. He has the same coloration as Mazie but, at 50 pounds, is twice her size. His distinguishing characteristics are a white marking shaped like a hatchet on the back of his neck, and ears that resemble those of Shrek. They are small and lumpy with scar tissue due to an early life case of aural hematomas. He is built like a cinder block. If Mazie is a super model Mutt, this is her Ric Ocasek.

The Best Life is With Puppies, Cake and Cocktails
Model and actress Paulina Porizkova with her husband, singer Ric Ocasek, circa 1990. (Photo by Kypros/Getty Images)

Despite his adoration of Mazie and our other girls, Andrew was determined to keep his distance from this character who did not respond to his name. The dog had other ideas. He started forcing his big blocky body into Andrew’s lap and crawling under the covers and spooning himself around him as he tried to sleep. He would reach out a paw to touch Andrew as he tried to read. He gazed lovingly at him with his amber eyes. Within a few weeks it was obvious he was not going anywhere. He and Mazie were hopelessly attached. We named him Hooch for the slobbering ogre that played alongside Tom Hanks in Turner & Hooch. He responded instantly to this name. I sometimes call him Husker Du for a punk band I favored as a teen. He responds to this, too.

Mazie and Hooch are excavators. We live a block from the river so attempts to unearth items from our yard are fruitful. As I work at my desk with the door open to the yard, I am frequently presented with sticks, bricks, rocks, bits of vintage pottery and bottles, railroad spikes, and tools. We have no idea where they are getting the tools, but we have intercepted the destruction of hammers, chisels, scrapers, and boxes of roofing nails. They hunt lizards and chase squirrels.

On a recent trip to Birmingham Hooch learned the joys of yelping and screeching while out on a walk with cousin Bonzo, Cecilia’s ogre of a Catahoula/Chocolate Lab who has perfected this art.

If we were not enough of a spectacle when we head out on our evening “walkie-poos” with our foursome—Mazie and Hooch in choke collars because Hooch will pull you down the street with brute force and Mazie is simply bananas— we now do so to a loud, incessant head-turning chorus from Hooch.

It’s a happy scene and I am grateful, so grateful, to the rescuers at TRR. My cup runneth over. If you have never known the unconditional love of a pet, consider this gift for yourself and a dog or cat in need.

I am making this cake for my puppers’ birthday. We will have a little party with cousins Oliver, Tiffany, and Baschi the Burner.

The Best Life is With Puppies, Cake and Cocktails
Photo from lovefromtheoven.com

Dog-Safe Birthday Cake

Adapted from lovefromtheoven.com

Makes one 8″ round cake to serve 8. Recipe com can be doubled to make a layer cake, as shown. Of course, I am going to do this.

For the Cake:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter (Do NOT use a peanut butter with Xylitol. It is
  •  deadly to dogs)
  • 1/2 cup plain, unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup pure pumpkin puree (Not canned pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 egg

For the Frosting

  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup nature peanut butter (see note above)
  • Dog biscuits for garnish, optional

Make the Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour and baking soda.
  3. In a separate bowl mix together vegetable oil, peanut butter, applesauce, and pumpkin puree. Once combined, add the egg, and mix until combined.
  4. Combine wet and dry ingredients and stir until combined.
  5. Pour mixture into an 8″ round pan (a square pan can also be used) that has been greased with oil.
  6. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly, 25-30 minutes.

Make the Frosting:

  1. Mix Greek yogurt and peanut butter until well combined.
  2. Spread over cake.
  3. If not serving immediately, store in refrigerator.

Finish the Cake:

  1. Allow to cool on a wire rack prior to removing from pan.
  2. After cooling, add frosting and adorn with dog biscuits.
The Best Life is With Puppies, Cake and Cocktails
Garden Fresh Cocktails | Credit: National WWII Museum

In celebration of Victory Gardens, next Wednesday from 6-8 p.m., the National WWII Museum and the Eat Local Challenge ( a project of the NOLA Food Policy Action Council) will present Garden to Glass: The Art of the Cocktail  in the US Freedom Pavilion in The Boeing Center. The event will feature distillers who will be competing for the best garden-fresh cocktail with the theme Picture Perfect. Guests will sample garden-fresh libations, learn how to make them at home, and vote for their favorite. The American Sector Restaurant & Bar will be serving heavy hors d’oeuvres made with local ingredients.

The museum’s newest special exhibition, The Real Image of War: Steichen and Ford in the Pacific, will be open in the John C. Alario Special Exhibition Gallery will be open throughout the event. Tickets are $30 for Eat Local Challengers, Master Gardeners, and museum members; $35 for General Public. Admission includes unlimited cocktail samples and heavy hors d’oeuvres. Tickets are available here.