-vladivostok Feed

What's a Central Asian Village Dog?

Turns out, that's what Lucia is.  I sent in her DNA to a research company (Embark)  to see if she had any breeds that stand out.

The results confirmed what I assumed, but wasn't 100% sure about.  She was adopted as a puppy while I was in Vladivostok, so I knew her heritage would be mostly a mix of breeds.  But I guessed she had traits of German shepherd and some kind of terrier.  Embark's results verified what I was thinking.  You can see all their details here.



28 days left

Probably the biggest urge I have to smoke is when I start seeing people smoking in a movie.  It hits when you're relaxed, comfortable and always surprise.  It's been almost a year and I feel those instances will carry on the longest.  I can be in public places where smoking is allowed without feeling anything.  I can hear someone say their going out for a smoke without needing to reminisce.  But when I see someone in a movie smoking it's as if the film attempts to portray the inhaling and exhaling in its best cinematic way.  When that happens I just grab some more popcorn and eventually they'll cast the butt away.

I've said it before and I'll say it again.  Quitting nicotine cold turkey was the only way for me to finally be successful.  Using a nicotine aid just prolonged the process for me.  Using aids were a daily reminder of what a slow withdrawal feels like.  Every fresh hit of a nicotine patch gave me a chemical high.  By the end of the day I would drag myself to bed on the fading effects of the patch.  Only to start the day anew with a fresh patch.  Who can really quit after weeks of doing that?

When I went cold turkey, I started on a Friday night.  I woke up Saturday and didn't do anything stressful.  I remember the whole weekend was a blur of watching movies, eating, sleeping, and walking the dog.  By Sunday night, I was a bit disoriented and facing the final hours of my physical withdrawal.  The next morning was the hard part, I began the work week while fighting the psychological urge for nicotine.  Work kept me business more than I thought it would.  When I came home, I kept busy with chores, hobbies and friends.  It was tough, but each day was a little bit better.

There were times when I was at home with nothing to do and the urge hit.  When that happened, I had one place I could go on-line that helped take my mind off lighting up a cigarette- www.WhyQuit.com and their visitor forum.  I specifically recall reading their benefits timetable to see how I would feel after certain quitting milestones.  It gave me the motivation I needed.

If you're considering quitting nicotine then I'd suggest having as many supporters as you can find, in person or on-line.  It really makes it easier.  People do care about your health.  Tell them you need their help and ask them to check in with you.  Don't just contact them when you need support.  After awhile, you'll realize you're not thinking about smoking every hour, and hours become days, days become weeks, and so on.  

1st year back

  Lucia shade

One year has passed since Lucia and I left Russia.  The months passed quickly, as they often do, and leave me to wonder what I really accomplished during my first year back.  Most of it was spent with friends (old and new), working on home projects, and getting use to the new assignment in DC.

Now that one year has passed, I have to start thinking about what I want to do for my next assignment.  I'm still enjoying my time back in the U.S. so staying in DC may be in my future for a few more years at least.

Lucia has adapted to her new life in the U.S.  So much so that she's finally more relaxed around groups of people.  The first few years in Vladivostok were tough for trying to walk a dog everyday.  So it was mainly my fault for not getting her acclimated faster to other people.  As a watchdog, she does a fantastic job if a stranger comes through the yard.  But out in public I've had to work with her on what's acceptable behavior around other dogs and new humans.  

A year ago she wouldn't allow a strange child to come up and pet her.  Thankfully, she never bit anyone, instead she just moved away and stayed clear of new people.  But over the last few months she started allowing children to pet her without moving away.  Definitely easier to deal with now than trying to explain to a child why a dog doesn't want to be touched.

She adapting to riding in my car more now.  In Vlad, car trips were akin to see the Vet.  Now she knows a car ride will usually take her to a new place.  She's learned where her spot is in the car also. The FJ's suicide doors confused her originally but now she's figuring out which door opens to the back seat.   

Scarabeo's new milestone


My Aprilia scooter hit the 10,000km mark on it's odometer, amid the hwy 50 commuter traffic this morning.  No celebratory fanfare was given except for me taking a moment to pull over at the next light to take a picture.  

The scooter's seen it's share of bumps, potholes, close-calls, and bad weather to last me a lifetime.  But the good days outweigh the bad and it still better to ride than being stuck in a car or a bus.  I don't know if I'll take it overseas again though.  If the country is "cycle-friendly" I probably would consider it.  If not, than the enjoyment is reduced significantly since all my sensory inputs are focused on keeping me safe rather than enjoying any portion of the ride.

I've gotten use to converting my speed from Km/hr to Mph also.  As you can tell from the photo above, the speedo only has Kmh.  I've gotten it up to 120Kmh (75mph) overseas on large highways, but never pegged it out at 160Kmh (99mph).  And I don't plan on trying it anytime soon.  Something about feeling like I'm sitting in a chair while the slightest highway bump can lift you out of your seat.  At least on a motorcycle you able to grip the sides more with your legs.

Anyway, I'm hoping I'll be able to post again when it hits the 10,000 mile mark. 

Partner in crime


Giz and Lucia


Lucia's buddy Gizmo (left) during his stay last month

Being a pet owner in DC has been a bit easier when it comes to finding others with pets.  When I'm overseas, finding someone to look after a pet when you're on R&R or traveling is always tricky.  Since you tend to travel farther away and for longer periods you want to make sure the pet sitter is prepared in the event something happens.  A kind friend in Vladivostok was my backup for pet emergencies if a temporary pet sitter had to  take Lucia to the clinic.   

Transporting pets can take a while to prepare for depending on how you need to travel.  I was fortunate during my last trip overseas.  Some airlines restrict what months of the year they allow a dog to fly in the cargo section, due to the risk of heat exhaustion.  It's no problem if your dog meets the maximum weight limit, they can reside caged in the cabin space with you.  

Quarantine is also another issue.  I flew through Seoul during my last trip.  The Customs/Quarantine office at the airport needed an International Vet certificate saying my dog was approved and cleared for transport.  I picked it up a couple days prior to leaving my place of departure and arriving in Seoul.  They had me fill out a Quarantine form and then stamped my papers so I could fly out the next day.  I had a reservation at a pet friendly hotel near the airport so we were able to spend the rest of the time getting plenty of exercise and resting up for the big flight from Seoul to the US.  

Coming into DC was not a problem either.  I had the blessing of the Vet certificate and my shot records from my Russian vet, which showed which vaccinations she had in English also.  There was a bit of a delay waiting for them to unload all the cargo out of the plane.  So by the time I got her through the baggage claim and through Customs she was ready to break out of her kennel.  The only trouble I had was bringing a couple foreign "canned" dog food products in my carry on.  Dulles Customs officials made me dispose of them on the spot.  But after that we were free to go and I introduced Lucia to her new home.

My best advice to pet owners is to contact as many people as you can to find out what the requirements are for airports, customs, quarantine, and any special country restrictions you need to be aware of.  Even though it's not the GSO's responsibility, they might be able to provide some names or numbers of contacts if you ask them nicely.