One year with Gravy

Gravy, a small black and white speckled Australian Cattle Dog, resting on a backyard ottoman

Today we’re celebrating Gravy’s adoption day. It’s been a hard, joyful, and fulfilling year with this little dude.

The first few months were admittedly hard for me. I didn’t realize how my grief from losing Boomer and Helo would present and I struggled with puppy blues for weeks. It was a weird mix of sadness, guilt, and regret and it was rough.

Gravy is a sweetheart, but definitely a different type of personality than we were used to. A sensitive and scared boy, he needed extra time and especially space to learn to trust us. He’s firm with his boundaries and doesn’t like to be held or showered with affection. You don’t realize how often you kiss your dog on the head until you have a dog that doesn’t like it. 😅

But with the help of a local dog behaviorist and with lots of time, we’ve built a strong connection and he’s blossoming into such a curious, loving, and happy guy. It took 11 months, but he now wants to sleep in the bed with us. Every day he gets braver, more excitable, and more affectionate and it’s been really wonderful watching that happen.

Gravy lounging in the grass; Gravy resting his head on my leg on the couch

From day one he was a really good walker. Very calm and polite and it’s been a joy to take him on hikes and through the horse trails in the neighborhood next to ours.

Clay and Gravy walking on a dirt trail; Gravy walking along a cement wall in some dirt

He loves playing tug and catching a lure, wrapping his foot around it to keep us from taking it again.

Gravy biting a lure on a rope wrapping his leg around it; Gravy on his back in the grass holding a fabric pull rope in his mouth

He hates the rain, but loves being outside as much as possible.

Gravy laying on a backyard couch; Clay holding an umbrella above Gravy on a rainy walk

His favorite thing is to help you with a task, inspecting every weed you pull or supervising as you put together IKEA furniture. And of course he loves to nip at your heels as you run, herding you around the backyard.

He’s becoming more of a cuddler with time, but we first really noticed him connecting with us by laying on our feet outside. He keeps close in his own way. I have a hundred pictures just like this. Excuse my socks and sandals.

Gravy laying on my feet; Gravy upside down on his back on my feet more photos of Gravy laying across my feet outside more photos of Gravy laying across my feet outside more photos of Gravy laying across my feet outside

Things with Gravy feel so comfortable and routine now that I can’t believe I was ever worried. We are loving life with Mr. Boat and we can’t wait to see how he continues to grow and change.

Bingo! Doggo DNA

When we adopted Gravy last April, the shelter suggested we get a DNA breed test for him. Maricopa County guessed he was Australian cattle dog mixed with chihuahua, but the shelter wasn’t so sure.

It took a bit for him to get comfortable with a mouth swab, but we finally sent one in. Turns out it’s not chihuahua, but rat terrier! Our sweet girl Boomer was also part rat terrier and this news made us feel really happy. We’ve seen some of her joyful energy in him since he’s been getting more and more comfortable with us.

Gravy DNA results showing 43.9% Rat Terrier, 33.1% Australian Cattle Dog, 10.6% Supermutt, 9.4% Shih Tzu, and 3% American Pit Bull Terrier

I don’t know how accurate these tests are, but folks of the internet seem to think Embark is the best one. Adopting a stray at 4 years old with no known history can be tough, so it’s nice to feel like we know a bit more about him.

They also showed us another dog in the Phoenix area that has sibling-level DNA similarities with Gravy. Fun to think about our little guy having a brother nearby.

Gravy, a little cattle dog mix, next to Mr. DNA from Jurassic Park who is saying “Bingo! Doggo DNA!”

Life with Gravy is so good and hopefully soon we’ll be finding another pup for him to hang with.

My quick thoughts on chips

Eleanor from The Good Place on the couch eating tortilla chips and a glob of salsa falls off her chip before it reaches her mouth

Just joining the chip conversation that Dave Rupert, Jonathan Snook, and Peter Mullen have been bloggin’ on their own blogs.

I am not very opinionated on what gets called a chip, so covering “snacks” here too.

1. Tortilla chips should be as thin as possible. Some chip breakage is just expected. Blue corn > white corn > yellow corn.

2. Ruffles are made for dip. Any non-nacho dip should be eaten with Ruffles. Wavy Lays not accepted.

3. Salsa Verde Doritos are best. Pair with (Diet) Dr. Pepper.

4. Pretzels are good if classic Snyder’s of Hanover. Others accepted if covered in yogurt or milk chocolate. The only flavored pretzels are Dot’s honey mustard.

5. Burgers should not be served with chips. Sandwiches should be served with kettle-style chips. Unless a Subway sandwich, then crunchy Cheetos.

6. Pringles are for eating on a boat on a lake. Fits perfectly in a cup holder and floats.

7. All chips taste better in the car. Road trip meal.

My favorite series of 2023

This year I questioned why I only include debuts on this list! Some of my favorite television this year was from returning shows including The Afterparty, Mythic Quest, and a brilliant season 2 of The Bear. That Forks episode, sheesh. I loved the endings for Succession, Never Have I Ever, and Loki (which really stuck the landing). And of course LEGO Masters is always a bright spot.

Maybe next year I will include returning series, but for now, here are my fave miniseries and series debuts from 2023.

Diane Morgan as Philomena Cunk standing behind foliage and in front of some ruins 10. Cunk on Earth

comic book style characters including Scott Pilgrim and pink-haired Ramona Flowers 9. Scott Pilgrim Takes Off

characters in gold tinted monochrome including Rebecca Ferguson, Tim Robbins, Common, David Oyelowo, and Rashida Jones 8. Silo

illustrated collage of fantasy characters featuring Warwick Davis as Willow 7. Willow

Rose Byrne and Seth Rogen laughing at a party 6. Platonic

Brie Larson in 1950s hairstyle and dress with a pencil behind her ear 5. Lessons in Chemistry

Harrison Ford using his fingers to make Jason Segel smile 4. Shrinking

Ali Wong and Steven Yeun angry with gritted teeth, sticking their heads out of their car windows 3. Beef

Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey look back at the camera before a post-apocalyptic, overgrown city 2. The Last of Us

close-up of Natasha Lyonne lowering her sunglasses, a vintage blue car and open road are reflected in the lenses 1. Poker Face

My favorite movies of 2023

This list was harder to narrow down than past years. I saw a lot of good movies, but they all seemed to be the same level of good? No major standouts for me! Because of a difficult first half of the year emotionally, I really gravitated towards comfort films and comedies.

Some honorable mentions include Bottoms, Barbenheimer, Missing (a spiritual sequel to 2018’s Searching), Across the Spider-Verse, Killers of the Flower Moon, and Godzilla Minus One (which was a surprise for me). I’ve also been really enjoying the Wonka soundtrack. Also Benny Safdie in Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret.

bearded Nicolas Cage in a pullover sweater and holding a rake looks up at the sky with mouth open 10. Dream Scenario

Mike Faist with a 1970s mustache and tinted glasses in front of a 70s patterned background and a kid playing pinball 9. Pinball: The Man Who Saved the Game

a basically dressed Awkwafina looks concerned next to a pigtailed Sandra Oh who is excitedly raising her arm in the air 8. Quiz Lady

collage of cast members including Tom Cruise, Hayley Atwell, Pom Klementieff, and Rebecca Ferguson 7. Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part 1

four young Asian women sit on their luggage and look exhausted; one is holding a small pig 6. Joy Ride

Jennifer Lawrence squeezes the face of Andrew Barth Feldman 5. No Hard Feelings

Rocket the raccoon walking in front of the Guardians (whose legs can be seen) 4. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Paul Giamatti in a sweater vest and bowtie, Dominic Sessa in an arm sling, and Da'Vine Joy Randolph in a winter coat 3. The Holdovers

collage of cast members including Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, and Regé-Jean Page all in their DnD garb 2. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Greta Lee and Teo Yoo look at each other on a train 1. Past Lives