Monday Mischief 18: Christmas Recap

If I had to make an alliterative list to quickly sum up the last week it would include Christmas, kilometres, and, of course, canines.

Lots of pups in Osoyoos, BC for  the holidays! Moses, my parents' dog Joshua, Crosby (who's hanging out over the break), and Alma.

Lots of pups in Osoyoos, BC for the holidays! Moses, my parents’ dog Joshua, Crosby (who’s hanging out with us over the break and got to come on our road trip), and Alma.

And I can’t mention Christmas 2013 without a HUGE shout-out to Cindy at Bird Brains & Dog Tales. For those who don’t know, Cindy has an awesome Etsy shop where she makes personalized dog toys (among other things).

Presents under the tree.

Presents under the tree.

They were a big hit and I’m even able to report they’re all still fully intact, which is both amazing and unlikely given Alma and Joshua’s reputations as toy destroyers.

Dogs and their new toys. Moses really was happy - that's just his default face. Kind of like RBF, but for dogs.

Dogs and their new toys. Moses really was happy – that’s just his default face. Kind of like RBF, but for dogs.

Crosby may not have received one, but trust me, she had fun playing with everyone else’s and was certainly not left out at the dog park!

Crosby, the fetch superstar

Crosby, the fetch superstar

Action shot!

Action shot!

Alma, trying to keep up with the fast dogs

Alma, keeping up with the fast dogs

Moses beats out the competition for the frisbee in an unexpected plot twist

Moses beats out the competition for the frisbee in an unexpected plot twist

Post-park nap time. Crosby likes to cuddle up to Moses.

Post-park nap time.

We’re back home in Calgary now – and Alma and the Husband have already made the journey back up north for work. But I still have a few more days of mischief until I need to report back to the office myself.

Hope everyone else is enjoying their holiday breaks, too!

This post is part of the Mischief Monday blog hop – to see what everyone else has been up to, click herehere, or here.

Monday Mischief

Meet the Blogger

You may find the odd picture of me on the Soapbox, but even more odd is a picture that would make me recognizable if you saw me on the street.

Me & Alma hiking in Kananaskis

Me & Alma hiking in Kananaskis

That’s because, like most other pet bloggers, I’m usually behind the camera and focussed on the dogs for the blog. Sure, we write openly about our pets, our opinions, and our experiences, but we remain in the back ground often as secondary characters. We know a lot about each other, but the communication is pretty indirect.

For me, it’s pretty intentional. I don’t write this to be recognized. Unless I already know you, I’m very uninterested in being approached by strangers on the street. This may sound like a delusional worry, but I once wore an Actions Speak Louder t-shirt to a recreational dogdeball game with friends and someone on the opposing team said “Hey! Are you Jen K from Back Alley Soapbox?!” and it totally freaked me out. (I’m a pretty strong introvert, as you may have recently read.)

But, when I heard about the Meet the Bloggers day, I thought it was a great idea and am looking forward to meeting the other bloggers behind their pets that I read about so often. And it seemed unfair to just creep on their posts without participating myself.

The rules of the hop are to post a photo and answer some questions about yourself.

So here we go.

Hey, I’m Jen. With one N because I don’t like superfluous consonants. Nice to meet you!

Who needs a pool when you've got a canoe?

Who needs a pool when you’ve got a canoe?

Ohhhh… a RECENT picture. Gotcha.

In a pinch, turn to the selfie

In a pinch, turn to the selfie

Now that the pictures taken care of, here come the questions.

Jen & Moses selfie

Jen & Moses selfie

Question 1: What’s your favourite (non-animal related) movie?

I don’t have one favourite movie – I have 23. I’m talking about the James Bond franchise. I am a total nerd for Bond films and will defend Roger Moore as the best Bond to all who challenge me. Daniel Craig is earning his spot as a close second place. But c’mon, Moore is in some of the best movies: The Man With the Golden Gun, Live and Let Die. But Skyfall was pretty great, too, and I cannot wait for the next one in October 2015.

Guys! I met Jay Ingram this summer! (I'm just a nerd in general.)

Guys! I met Jay Ingram this summer! (I’m just a nerd in general.)

Question 2: What do you like to do in your free time?

Aside from walking the dogs and blogging, scuba diving has also shown up here on the Soapbox a couple of times. We don’t get out as much as we like, and the June floods put a dent in local diving this year, but the Husband and I have been able to get away to places like Hawaii, Cuba, Costa Rica, and Victoria, BC to dive. Our favourite place so far has definitely been Bonaire – of course, there was a hurricane that cut into our diving when we went, so we’d definitely like to go back!

Me, diving on the Hilma Hooker wreck in Bonaire

Me, diving on the Hilma Hooker wreck in Bonaire back in 2008

Question 3: What’s your favourite (non-animal related) book?

A favourite book is hard to pin down, but when pressed, I would have to say Persuasion by Jane Austen. I recently got myself an awesome scarf with text from the book from Etsy. But even though I love the classics, I’ll pretty much read anything. Except fantasy. That’s just not my preference. It took me forever to get through the Hobbit.

Check out the awesome Etsy shop storiarts

Check out the awesome Etsy shop storiarts for scarves with all sorts of classics displayed.

Question 4: What’s your favourite meal?

Well, it’s certainly not anything I make myself because I can’t cook. Well, I can, but I don’t particularly enjoy it and it never turns out better than mediocre. Baking, I enjoy and execute successfully, but I have no creativity when it comes to cooking and I have to follow recipes precisely. Good thing the Husband makes up for my deficiencies in that area; he’s got this incredible skill to be able to just look in our fridge and cupboards and come up with something delicious.

The whole family

The whole family (from last year’s Christmas card)

But, if you’re looking for where to eat out in Calgary, I’m happy to provide great recommendations! Today my Top 5 favourites in the city are (in no particular order, thus alphabetically): BrasserieCatchFarmFleur de Sel, and Una.

Snow faces on the dogs vs. me. I think they carry it better (and are happier about it, too!)

Snow faces on the dogs vs. me. I think they carry it better (and are happier about it, too!)

Question 5: What’s your favourite most recent holiday?

Last month I went to Las Vegas for a few days with a group of awesome girls who I’ve known for 20 years. We’re spread around Alberta now, but we all turned 30 this year and had to celebrate! We had some delicious food and drink and we saw Tim Allen do some stand-up. Does it get much better than that? I don’t think so, Tim!

A bunch of pasty Canadians in Vegas

A bunch of pasty Canadians in Vegas

Well, that’s enough about me. Go meet everyone else!

This Meet the Blogger Blog Hop has 13 – yes, thirteen – co-hosts! To meet the hosts and other bloggers, visit them:

We've created the 'delfie' - a selfie at the Hoover Dam

We’ve created the ‘delfie’ – a selfie at the Hoover Dam

Black & White Sunday 14: Snow Faces





Mo & Al

Mo & Al

The Black & White Sunday bloghop is brought to you by Dachshund Nola and Sugar the Golden Retriever. Click here to visit the host and check out everyone else’s photos.


Newfoundland Dogs & The Introvert

This won’t come as a shock to anyone who’s met me, but it may be harder to determine in the blogosphere, so here’s today’s confession: I am an introvert.


Between employers and undergrad psychology classes, I’ve done Meyers Briggs, the DISC test, and Insights. (For those unfamiliar, DISC and Insights are nearly identical, but one groups you into letters and one into colours.)

Each time, the results are similar, predictable, and accurate.

My Insights blocks on display on my desk. This order translates to CDSI for the DISC assessment.

My Insights blocks on display on my desk – in order. This translates to a CDSI for the DISC assessment.

But I don’t really need a personality test to tell me about myself; I’ve long known that a book can be better company than most people.


I’m a “Reforming Observer”

My results don’t bother me and their exactness means I’m not hesitant to share them. I know some people are a bit wary of discussing personality assessments, but I’ve found them pretty on-point when identifying strengths (thorough, organized, logical, problem-solver, reliable) and weaknesses (critical, lacks empathy, avoids social interaction, impatient) – at least for myself.


Some assessments are better than others, and it may be difficult to try to box all people into one of 4, 12, or 16 different types, but they have some use, even if it’s just introspective or an oft-needed reinforcement of the obvious fact that people experience the world differently.

INTJ jumble

For example, I have a coworker who nearly daily pokes her head into my office to ask me “what’s wrong?” or commands me to “smile!” This baffled me for a long time. Nothing is wrong. I’m just working. But thanks to the internet, a term that plagues many other unexpressive INTJs has become a common phrase; I suffer from RBF. Resting Bitch Face.


Being an introvert doesn’t mean you “hate people”. It also doesn’t necessarily mean you’re shy, stuck up, or lack confidence. Lots of introverts love spending time with other people (like people I know and like) and may even be considered confident and outgoing by those who spend time with them.

This is because the introvert/extrovert scale is about energy: social interaction is tiring to introverts and energizing to extroverts. Someone isn’t one or the other as if there are two buckets, either. Introversion and extroversion is a scale where you can fall anywhere along it with varying degrees one way or another, and you can be different things in different situations (at work vs. as home, for example), and also be different things when tired or stressed (e.g., often introverts will be naturally more introverted under pressure).

Extrovert v Introvert

As far as social interaction is concerned, introverts and extroverts approach it and value it differently. As an introvert, I’m much more comfortable hanging out in small groups of people I already know and having conversations of substance. Talking about the weather or what day of the week it is just seems pointless to me.

This means blogging is right up my alley; I’m able to prepare and process information carefully before sharing it – though I also understand how extroverts would be attracted to blogging as another way to interact with lots of different people.

A networking event with strangers or mere acquaintances where you’re forced to small talk is my personal hell. I’d rather public speak in front of a room of 300 hundred strangers than have to mingle with those same people at a cocktail party. And there’s hardly a thing such as “awkward silence” to me, since I’m perfectly happy not to speak if there’s nothing worth saying. Morning elevator chit-chat? Shooting the breeze with the hair stylist? Someone who answers more than “well, thank you” to a polite “how’s it going?” THE. WORST.


And I’m certainly lucky I landed The Husband long ago, since my INTJ results astutely identify that I have “little patience and less understanding of such things as small talk and flirtation”.

So what does this have to do with Moses and Alma?

In retrospect, Newfoundlands are interesting dog choices for introverts.

Walking 280 pounds of dog around the city daily is not inconspicuous. In fact, you are a spectacle. You draw attention, comments, and queries.

Me walking Moses, Alma, and pal Juniper. What's normal for me can be quite the sight for others.

Me walking Moses, Alma, and pal Juniper. What’s normal for me can be quite the sight for others.

This is something I certainly never considered when we were looking for the right dog for us. Newfoundlands seemed like the perfect choice as far a size, temperament and lifestyle goes. But no one warned me that simply owning Moses (and then Alma) would challenge my comfort zone as an introvert.

Don’t like small talk? Well, prepare yourself for having the exact same conversation every dog walk:

No, they’re not ‘black St. Bernards,’ they’re Newfoundlands.

180 and 100 pounds.

Yes, he’s big for a male and she’s smaller for a female.

No, they’re not related.

He’s from a breeder, she’s from a rescue.

Yes, they drool.

Yes, they shed.

No, our house/yard isn’t huge.

Yes, they eat 5+ pounds of food per day between them.

If they eat that much, how much do you THINK they poop?

He walks a bit funny because he’s had spinal surgery.

Yes, it gets old. But it’s part of the gig as a Newf owner. You literally stop traffic from time to time.

I admit I’m not always interested in entertaining a typical exchange – I’m out enjoying fresh air and free time with my dog and I don’t do it to meet people.

But Moses and Alma bring me lots of joy. They’re great dogs! They’re funny and social and stinking adorable. I think they’re awesome, so it should be no surprise to me when other people do, too.

Why should I stand in the way of them providing random passersby with a little joy, too?

So rather than always being a dog walk Grinch (sometimes I still am), I do suck it up and frequently engage in the boilerplate conversation with strangers about my dogs.

Grinch and Max
 Look at me being social and acknowledging the feelings of others!

colbert high five

And besides, socialization and practicing polite greetings (with people and dogs) is always good for Moses and Alma.

Sure, being an INTJ or a Reforming Observer may mean I’m impatient with small talk, but it also means I’ll go on endlessly about things I like and think are interesting, and I think this blog is Exhibit A to my dogs being one of those very topics! And if I’m being honest, dog-walk-small-talk (say that ten times fast) is far less painful than “chilly out there, eh?”

Moses and Alma definitely mean I talk to more strangers (and neighbours) than I normally would, but your comfort zone won’t expand if you don’t push it from time to time.

And now any extroverts reading know that if they plan to train, like big dogs, and can handle the drool… well, then a Newf might just be the perfect dog for you!

Curious about what your Meyers Briggs results might be? This test is free and not too shabby. Once you have your results, you can search lots of resources for information (, for example, is pretty detailed).