Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Puppy Training 101

Hurghada is such a gorgeous place to live. With the sand, and the sea breeze, and the fresh air, it really invigorates your soul. Just one more reason to leave Cairo, was losing our German Shepherd Sookie near Shell shop in Maadi. It's a heart-wrenching experience to lose an animal, especially if you don't know what has happened to them. And Sookie would have loved Hurghada, much more quiet than Cairo.

It was in my heart to get a dog here, it just felt right. So after settling in and finding a nice apartment, it was time to find a dog. We did with Orien, told he was St. Bernard Cross Baladi. Basically a Mutt, my kind of dog :D. We now know his real background, but that's a different story.

So Orien comes to his new home, and starts settling in immediately. He wasn't too naughty at first, but of course that was part of his settling in. Now he is affectionately referred to as the "monster" and really is only as cute as he looks when he's asleep.

I've grown up with dogs, and have experience with puppies. Or so I thought. Never had I gotten a puppy 2 months old, and even the puppies I did have in the past, I wasn't responsible for raising them. As children, we all holler and scream for puppies, to have that perfect playmate around all the time. Of course it's our parents that are generally the ones taking care of the puppy, cleaning up the poo, replacing the chewed up furniture, puppy proofing necessary areas in the house to hide any potential chewables. And this in itself is a feat, just when you think there's nothing for the puppy to chew on, you come back to shredded pieces of "WTF" everywhere all over the floor. So far, Orien has developed a taste for toilet paper, think the little yellow lab puppy in those comfort adds. Yeah. Snow covering the floor, and the puppy sitting in the middle looking up at you like "YES! you're home! FEED ME!!!"

I've read up on a lot of different puppy training techniques, and one commonly mentioned one is the crate training method. Essentially, this becomes your dogs home when it's not out, it stays in there when you're not at home, sleeps in it, etc etc. I've had experience with other dogs that hate the crate, and in Egypt dog supplies are ridiculously expensive (Think over 300 dollars for a SMALL crate...not even one that would fit Orien later on down the line). So, rather than leave Orien completely unattended and come back to matchsticks on the floor from what used to be furniture, he gets tied up in the bathroom. Figuring that would be safe, and everything was out of his reach, but no, we ended up with a houdini dog, and his love for toilet paper only grows. :p

House training a puppy is another matter itself. Newspaper is the commonly preferred method for accidents inside the house. Orien finds this just as tasty as toilet paper, and shredded newspaper is far more common than newspaper used for its purpose. He's gradually getting better, but the puppy bladder leaves you a 30 second window of noticing he asked to go out, and actually getting him outside of the door. Not to mention once he's outside, the ADD of everything going on around him is farrrr too much more interesting than peeing, why waste time doing that?! Often he prefers to wait until we're almost back inside, then right outside the door pee, all the while looking at you as though "hey, it's outside right? Don't look at me like I'm in the wrong here!"

Orien also loves the sound of his own voice. In fact, he loves it so much, he feels like everyone else around him would love it too. Cats, dogs, children, people, cars, anything that passes even remotely near to the balcony gets a "woof...woof woof woof woof woof" greeting. Our landlord was not impressed, and it's led to more than one stubbed toe while scrambling out of bed to get him to shut up.

Needless to say, it's quite an experience. A puppy in his terrible twos stage...I am sure he'll give me lots of things to update with! lol.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

P.S. niff naff

So I just found this out this weekend. But it's such a good piece of information I had to share it.

Basil. The herb that adds delicious tang to any meal your cooking. Is also a fantastic mozzie repellent. So next time you're sitting outside on your patio, dreaming of a mozzie free environment, whip out some fresh basil. The citric tang that it emits is enough to keep all the mozzies away.


So, for me, clumps of fresh basil hanging around the house sound just perfect.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Niff naff and trivia

It seems that summer is finally on the way! (of course I complain as though I've been sitting in mountains of snow all two weeks in DC really count? :p). The weather is finally warming up, and yes! I can finally head to the beach on the weekends! Of course, with the warmer weather come some additional, and uninvited, house guests.

I decided to write the perfect desperate housewives blog, with a number of random pieces of niff naff and trivia that I have picked up along the way. I promise that these are tried and tested, and have worked for me!

Beasties are the bane of my existence. I can't stand them. Flies, mosquitoes, ants, roaches, BLECH! Naturally most of us are the same way, so we are all always looking for ways of getting rid of them and keeping them out of the house. Now unless you're like May in the Secret life of Bees, you're not going to lay out graham cracker crumbs to "lure" the beasties outside of your house...And on a sidenote I never understood that part, wouldn't that inevitably attract more beasties inside? Anyhow, I digress. Back to the nifty beastie tricks.


Considered by some as the "national bird of Egypt" purely because of their abundance in this country, flies are everyyyyywhere. I dread opening my window lest I let millions of these beasties inside. Fortunately, thanks to riding buddies, I picked up this nifty little trick that does actually keep flies out. Take a clear plastic bag (or ziplock) and fill it half way with water. Add four or five copper pennies, and hang next to any window that you want to leave open. For some reason this tricks the flies with the light reflections, and they don't realise there's an open window. Voila! Fresh air in the summer, sans flies! (Because lets be honest, fly screens don't let the same breeze through :p).


These little feckers are sneaky. They are the ninja's of the insect world if you will. I feel that almost no matter what I do, somehow they find a way BACK into the kitchen, living room, whereever they may have originally inhabited. As another side note...ants in Egypt prefer carby foods over

I have a few tricks that I use for ants. One is to spray raid or a similar insect repellant on every entrance into your house along the ground. If you're like me at the moment, that is raid-less, another simple trick is to use bleach. Because ants will follow the scent trails left by their fellow ant-friends, water alone won't remove the scent trail. Using bleach and cleaning with hot water along the path that they have chosen will eliminate the scent trail, and stop the ants getting in. Problem here, your house smells like a pool :p. Another trick that I like to use is to add a few sprays of raid to the water when I am mopping. This way you get into all the nooks and crannies, as well as all across your floor.

Finally, if you've found the source of ants coming into your house, or even better their colony, boiling water on top of their entrance will kill the ants inside. But here again rises another problem, if you don't kill the queen ant, you won't have eliminated your problem. It is however, a good quick fix, hopefully you'll burn off enough of the feckers to cause them to seek less warm real estate.


Ech. I have yet to find a perfect solution for getting rid of roaches. The raid along the floor works, but unfortunately, roaches are one of the most adaptable animals in the world. It's disgusting that they are one of the few animals/creatures that would survive a nuclear fallout. I've found that the most effective method seems to be investing in a roach-hunting canine extraordinaire.

Trained to respond to the slightest roach movement, this guy will be sure to keep your house roach free. Side effects may include abandoned roach body parts :S.


So for this one, there's the obvious mozzie vanishing candles, burning incense thingies, or the little tablets that are heated throughout the night that emit a mozzie-repelling smell. Apparently there's an old wives remedy I heard of the other day, I've yet to find out what it is, but that has become my new mission. :p

For now, these are my niff naff and trivia tips on beasties. I'm sure there will be more to follow! Until then, happy beastie free house! ;)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Hurghada lesson one

After making the move out of Cairo and deciding finally to move to Hurghada, there are always a lot of things that need to be taken care of, as with any move. Shuffling through your belongings, wondering where the eff you've managed to acquire all the new things, questioning how you'll get all your boxes in the car (which I didn't manage), and how long will it take to settle in your new place.

Moving here was easy. Hurghada has many places available to rent, it took no more than a day to find somewhere nice to live, in a nice location, close to the necessities. Of course transportation here is just as easy as in Cairo, although the taxi's are certainly of a higher standard. Clean taxis with AC! Wooo hooo!!!

My new place is in a great location, I'm very fortunate to have found it. It's within walking distance of no less than four supermarkets, pharmacies, shopping areas, and importantly for me, Western Union, as I seem to be in there more often than not haha. Having dollars doesn't bother me, it was always easy to change in Cairo. Either with a CBS automated machine, or at the Nile Exchange across from Golds Gym in Maadi. I never had a problem with the place at all, I always got a fair exchange rate, and it was open at all hours of the night - perfect for the night owl :p.

My first Western Union transfer came through to Hurghada last week. No problems picking it up, the office is just down the road from me too. While walking back, I noticed a Nile Exchange here too. I popped in to change 200 dollars, and was shocked when the guy returned to me 1008 LE. I asked for a receipt, and he pointed to the exchange board which had the dollar at a rate of 5.04 LE to the dollar. Much much lower than I remembered, but I hadn't checked the exchange rate earlier that day. I figured that the dollar was suffering from a horrible drop, and I'd wait to change the rest of my dollars until the dollar strengthened.

As luck would have it, later on that day I was walking down the main tourist strip, and passed another exchange place. I figured I'd pop in and see if the exchange rate had changed. To my surprise, it had. By four points. Miraculously, the exchange rate was at 5.47. I had to ask the cashier if the dollar had jumped astronomically throughout the day. He looked at me comically, asking why I ask. Once I mentioned I'd changed money earlier in the day, he immediately asked if I'd gone to the Nile Exchange.

Turns out I'm not the first one to be duped by them, and I probably won't be the last. What these douchebags do, is add a 0 to the rate, for all currencies they exchange. Thankfully I only changed 200 dollars, but it still cost me close to 100 LE in an unfair rate. So, for anybody thinking of coming to Hurghada, or even just visiting, please learn from my first mistake, and don't change at the Nile Exchange!