Leroy Found a Home!

leroy smiling

Thank you all for your support, I just wanted to update everyone that Leroy has found a forever home! After posting the blog, we were contacted by a few interested people. Leroy went on some “dates” with potential adopters and they were all really kind people. We felt the best match was with some of my dog walking clients, Abby & Mike, who already have 10-year-old female shepherd mix named Max.

Abby, Mike, Max, & Leroy

Abby, Mike, Max, & Leroy

Abby & Mike live on the 2nd floor of an elevator building in Prospect Heights. I felt they understood the needs and responsibilities an older dog can present. Stairs are an issue for senior dogs, especial large ones that can’t be carried so their living situation is ideal. It is also wonderful that Max who is sometimes anxious will now have a calm companion dog her own age. They can nap & chew on squeaky toys together and enjoy their retirement. Abby & Mike promise to spoil the hell out of both of them.

Our dog Phoebe begging for bagels with Leroy

Our dog Phoebe begging for bagels with Leroy

My husband and I are sad to see Leroy go as he’s become a goofy part of our family but our cat and dog couldn’t be happier to their house and our attention back on them. I’m grateful I’ll still get to walk and visit Leroy since he’s so close by.

If anyone is still interested in adopting a pit mix, I do know a wonderful female named Loretta who is being fostered by a friend of mine. She’s a bit younger and loves to play fetch, snuggle, and is great with other dogs. I’ve posted her info below.

LorettaFlier

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Filed under Brooklyn, dog training, Dogs

Sweet Found Dog Needs a Good Home!

On Monday 8/4/2014 I took my dog, Phoebe, up to Fort Greene Park for off leash hours around 8:30am. When I arrived at the park, I saw my friend Anna Holmes sitting by a large brindle pit bull mix who was tied by a thin yellow rope to the bench. I asked what was going on and she said she and others had been sitting with him since 6:30am that morning. People brought him water and food and someone went to get an old collar to put on him so the rope wouldn’t hurt his neck. He was panting and nervous but friendly. He had a cough and was pretty dirty, with lots of loose shed hair on his smooth coat. Anna Holmes was calling the no kill shelters to see if they could take him but none opened until 11am. She said she’d take him there in a car service. I didn’t have to start work until 1130 so I offered to take them in my car.

Leroy en route to vet on his first day.

Leroy en route to vet on his first day.

We took him to Sean Casey but they had 30 pit mixes they were trying to adopt out already and couldn’t take him. They scanned him for a microchip but of course he didn’t have one. We took him to the vet to get him checked out and get medicine for his cough. I had to run to work for a while so Anna Holmes stayed with him. She wanted to take him home after but her dog T-bone doesn’t do well with intact male dogs.

photo 2-2

I called my husband to see if the dog could come to our house for a few days until we could figure out what to do with him. If the dog wound up at a kill shelter he would certainly be put down due to his breed, the cough, and the fact that he was probably between 9-10 years old. My husband agreed that we could bring him home temporarily. I called one of my dog walking clients who has large dogs and asked to borrow his crate. He agreed so I ran by to pick it up en route to get Anna Holmes and the dog we were now calling “Leroy.”

panting

Leroy could’ve been scared and aggressive towards me, Anna Holmes, the vet, or any of the people or dogs we’d encountered that morning but he was sweet and goofy with all of us. He was probably nicer than my little terrier Phoebe who sometimes meets strange dogs and people showing her teeth or growling if they are too forward with her.

walking

It’s been a week and a half and Leroy is still at my house. Lots of people volunteered to help out with vet bills but no one could take him to their house. We have a few leads on homes but because of his possible kennel cough we’re waiting to introduce him in case he’s contagious. We plan on getting him neutered as soon as his lungs have healed from the cough and he can handle anesthesia.

leroy napping

Leroy mostly wants to lie around and be with people and dogs. He’s housebroken and loves squeaky toys. In fact we got him a few and now he tries to carry them both around in his mouth, which is ridiculous. He’s a bit dopey, sees his reflection and thinks it’s another dog to say hello to. We did a full senior panel on him at the vet and he’s parasite & heartworm free. His cough is starting to get better and I’m working on training him the basics. He has a lot of calluses on his arms so the vet thought he might have laid on concrete a lot. We gave him a bed but he mostly lies on the floor.

He gets along well with my dog despite her sulking about not being the center of attention. Phoebe occasionally growls at him when he crowds her space and he just walks away apologetically like he can’t help that he’s a big oaf. I actually used him in a training session with a small reactive (barky) dog, and he handled it beautifully. He simply moved away from the dog and turned away so we could work with him. He didn’t get nasty back at all.

toys

I wonder often what his story is, someone must have cared for him at one point because he’s so friendly and he’s a little overweight. Perhaps his owner died and the family or neighbors watching him couldn’t afford to care for him.

We are hoping someone will want to adopt this sweet old timer. He doesn’t need much just a few walks a day and some squeaky toys. He’s so mellow that he’d be an easy dog to care for. We can’t keep him due to our building’s pet policy. Please pass this post along to anyone who might be able to foster or adopt him. Leroy and I greatly appreciate it. Anyone interested in helping please contact me, Susie DeFord at Susie’s Pet Care 718-415-7880 susiespetcare<AT>gmail.com

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Hudson Valley Dog Boarding

Dennis with Phoebe, Marco, Penny, Charley

Dennis with Phoebe, Marco, Penny, Charley

Since November 2012, we’ve been bringing dogs up to our cottage near the Catskills on weekends and occasionally weekdays depending on our availability/ability to get away! Here are some highlights!

3 stooges

Mo, Qwerty, and Phoebe walk by the lake

country

Hike at Falling Waters on the Hudson River Susie with Penny, Zeke, Phoebe

field

Qwerty & Mo enjoying the back yard

goob comet

Comet & Phoebe frolicking

mo & qwerty creek

Mo & Qwerty in the Kaaterskill Creek behind our cottage

pile on

Christmas weekend pile on Susie Phoebe, Oscar, Willis, Sampson

Falling waters hike

Hike at Falling Waters with Zeke, Penny, Phoebe

For more fun photos please check our facebook page!

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Filed under Brooklyn, dog training, Dogs, Upstate

The Catch of Marrakech

Djemma El Fna

Djemma El Fna

“Why do you want to go to Morocco?” was a question I was asked a lot leading up to my recent April 2013 trip there. The short answer is: curiosity. The longer answer is: As a musician who’d played in bands for years, I started getting really into world music field recordings in 2007. I was disillusioned with the hyped & moneyed nature of the American music scene, and found these recordings of street musicians who had made their own instruments and were just playing for the joy of it really inspiring. Plus an Oud played through a crappy amplifier sounds like an extra awesome electric guitar. So much so that I’ve been using effects pedals etc. trying to add this element to my guitar sounds.

Ever since I saw Sublime Frequencies film “Musical Brotherhoods from the Trans-Saharan Highway”

I have wanted to go to Marrakech, Morocco. I wanted desperately to see the street musicians play in the Djemma El Fna,  a public square full of magicians, snake charmers, storytellers and musicians. This square is so historical and unique that it has become a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage site to protect it from development.

Finally, 6 years later I started my own music project called NEON GRLZ  using drum machines, world music samples, and my guitar and vocals. I began recording my own samples of various street musicians and sounds. I decided I wanted to make videos as well, it seemed like it was finally time to go to Morocco.

NEON GRLZ

NEON GRLZ

My husband and I booked tickets to go to Marrakech for a week. He did Middle Eastern Studies for his first Masters Degree, lived in Rabaat for 3 months in college, and speaks a little Arabic so I thought I’d be in good hands traveling with him. The first day in Marrakech we spent an hour trying to hunt down our luggage at the airport. It had been shrink wrapped into unrecognizable shapes by the airline but we finally found it. We were taken by cab to the winding streets of the Medina, within the walls of the old city of Marrakech.

A man from our Riad (Moroccan version of a Bed and Breakfast or as I called it a Bed and Bread- since Bread was our breakfast for 7 days) came and met us at the car and led us through a maze of narrow streets to our Riad. We managed not to get run over by scooters with whole families crammed on them. The Riad was nice but, we were traveling pretty budget and our room was fine but had no real windows only some small ones by the floor of our room for ventilation. I guess staying in a bunker wasn’t so bad as it was a quiet den away from the busy streets of Marrakech.

Once we were settled they served us mint tea in the courtyard. We trekked through the Souks (think crazy big mazelike flea market) with men calling out trying to sell things to you. Haggling is a big thing here. They will tell you a price 6x or more than the worth of an object and it’s up to you to try to haggle them down to a reasonable price. I am a great haggler in America and have haggled my way through Mexico, Russia, and Europe so I thought I’d be fine when I was ready to buy things. Nope; these guys are pros. I walked away from every purchase during the week feeling I’d been ripped off to the point I just stopped trying to buy anything. The extent of the stories they will tell you to get your money is pretty remarkable.

Minaret

Minaret

We made our way to the Djemma El Fna. Finally, I was here but it was day and only the snake charmers and orange juice sellers were out. Upon closer view/proximity of the snake charmers they start asking for money. You give them money and they say they want more which is kind of a turn off. Not to mention most of the snakes look either dead or half dead. I shrugged this, the miserable monkeys on leash, and sad shriveled donkeys off determined not to let my dreams of this place be shattered. See I felt like going to Morocco with all their sacred music and calls to prayer echoing would be a Yatra or a pilgrimage to a holy place. But I had a sneaking suspicion I’d been a bit mislead in my thinking. We ate the first of many tagines walked around some more.

We got lost trying to get back to our Riad and a little kid helped lead us back. We gave him what we thought was a respectable tip and he yelled at us that it was not enough. My husband told him if it was not enough he could give it back and the kid ran off. We both felt frazzled.

That night we went back to the Djemma El Fna to take some sound and video samples. The Gnawan and other musicians were amazing. But again we gave money and were almost always asked for more even though we’d given a good amount. The Djemma El Fna was overwhelming in good and bad ways. I had trouble making sense of my feelings and was beginning to feel serious culture shock. We ate at one of the food sellers and my husband had Pastilla, which was unclear whether it was chicken or pigeon, but I suppose it was safer than the goat and Sheep heads some people were bravely eating.  On our way back to the Riad/Bunker a woman grabbed my hand and began painting on it with henna before I could say no. I finally gave her some money to let me go and stupidly wondered back to our bunker feeling as though I’d been mugged.

Henna Mugged

Henna Mugged

The next day we wandered into the New City (built by the French during their occupation) and went to the Jardin Marjorelle and Berber Museum. The garden and wide streets leading there were a nice change from the crowded, small, winding streets of the Medina. Never had I been so happy to walk by the familiar golden arches of McDonalds. We went to the Djemma again that night for footage and sound and found a few musicians that were cool with what we gave them. But the constant harassment by others in the square sent us back to the Riad early.

Jardin Marjorelle

Jardin Marjorelle

We had scheduled a Moroccan cooking class and tour of the Souks the 3nd day. I asked our guide, a Dutch woman, who had moved to Marrakech several years before about what was appropriate to give to musicians and she told us an amount smaller than we were even giving. I had immense respect for her as an expat who had been able to make her way in this strange place that seemed so into ripping off foreigners. Say what you want about NYC but if you ask someone directions they will just tell you, not try to purposely mislead you to get your money. If you ask a price they will start with a pretty fair one. I get it, I’m American and probably a lot more well off than many of these folks, but I’m not rich by any means so I got pretty offended when I was trying to be kind and respectful adn was told it wasn’t enough.

Souks

Souks

I started having intestinal issues probably from eating in the Djemma and a few days of eating things my body wasn’t used to. This led to nausea and other unpleasant things the rest of the weak. By day 4 were ready to go on our day trip to the coastal town of Essaouira.

As opposed to the Pink City of Marrakech, Essaouira is a blue and white port town. It had a much more chill feeling, though I got ripped off there too when I bought a bracelet I was told was old silver but turned out to be something that left green band on my arm. I did however wander in to Bob’s music (named for Bob Marley) and got a castanet lesson from the kind proprietor there. Essaouira holds a Gnawa Music Festival there every year and its laid back atmosphere brings many hippies and musicians there. I bought some castanets, which are actually harder to play than you would think. I got carsick on the two hour drive back to Marrakech.

Essaouira

Essaouira

This led to my first ever travel meltdown where I felt I’d seen/done enough and wanted to go home early. My husband convinced me it would be more difficult to change our tickets and we should just stick it out. I felt ashamed that I was crazy spoiled American as we went to McDonalds the next day and mostly hung out in the New City which had a more European feel. My husband tried to console me by telling horror stories about his time in Morocco in college. I couldn’t believe he’d lasted 3 months there. It was just so radically different, which at times was beautiful and at times really, really frustrating.

Our final few days we spent mostly in the New City eating a Fast Croke and other French inspired places. We went on another day trip to the High Atlas Mountains and Berber villages but it was pouring rain and again I got carsick on the winding mountain roads.

Berber village in High Atlas

Berber village in High Atlas

I was really relieved when it was finally our day of departure back to America. I appreciate my cushy American life so much more. The odd thing is looking through pictures I’m glad I went although I wish I’d only done a few days in Marrakech and more days in Agadir or Essaouria or Spain.

Perhaps, now in my 30’s I’m less adventurous than I was in my 20’s. I place a higher value on being comfortable. I was so uncomfortable all the time in my teens and twenties that a trip to an uncomfortable place didn’t faze me much. Now I like my routines, my husband, apartment, neighborhood, and my pain in the ass dog. I am humbled by this, as I used to think I was so adventurous. I guess my home in New York City is all the adventure I really need for the time being.

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Filed under God, Music, NY, Spirituality, Travel

When One Door Closes, Break a F*ing Window! The Future of Music…

Recently, after 6 months of collaborating with another female musician, she informed me that she no longer wanted to collaborate and wanted to do her own project. I was totally bummed–band break ups suck. You spend all this time and energy on a project and put your faith in someone just to have it all disappear. I moped around for a few days then I had this idea to create a new “band” structure:

NEON GRLZ is an experiment in collaboration with other musicians, writers, filmmakers, and video artists. As opposed to a traditional set band, Susie DeFord collaborates with multiple artists of varying backgrounds in order to empower creation regardless of time, life constraints, and responsibilities that seem to always work against the creative process particularly as artists age. The idea is that while some artists and musicians may not be able to commit to one “band” for a variety of reasons, they can still exercise the creative impulse and unite with other artists by contributing to a song. NEON GRLZ celebrates technology that allows artists to swap tracks in a collaborative process regardless of location. Contributing artists will be invited to perform live at NEON GRLZ shows should they desire. For more info contact neongrlz<at>gmail.com

I am currently working on some basic tracks using drum machines, loops, vocals, guitar, etc. and will be soliciting contributions in the New Year. Until then you can check out some of the songs created so far here:

https://soundcloud.com/neongrlz

Ain't no joke

Ain’t no joke

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Filed under Art, Brooklyn, Music, NY, Poetry, Writing

Cidiots take Saugerties/Catskill!

Our new rental cottage in Catskill, near Saugerties!

We finally did it! After years of browsing, dreaming, and scheming on Craigslist and Upstater we finally rented a cottage upstate from a nice couple in Catskill, NY near our favorite upstate town Saugerties! Catskill is about 30 minutes from the great towns of Hudson & Kingston, NY. 20 Minutes from Woodstock, and 40 minutes to Phoenicia. I have been treking 2-3 hours upstate from Brooklyn for the past 5 years on occasional weekends and loving everything about it except the ticks! I’d love to move up there full time but unfortunately the job situation isn’t is good up there as in the city. So for now we are weekenders.

Cottage from road

After sitting out Hurricane Sandy in Brooklyn last week on Friday we packed our car full of stuff and drove up to move in. Sleepy’s Kingston (highly recommend they were great!) delivered our bed and a futon for guests/couch and we were set. I was having a ton of financial fear after losing a week of income due to the storm but, I’ve always worked hard and been okay at the end of the day so why lose faith now?

Bedroom

Living Room with new Quilt and Rug from Ronnie at Saugerties Antique Center

Kitchen

We took a break from moving and drove a few miles away to Palenville, NY where we grabbed a sandwich at the great general store/eatery the Circle W Market.

First meal by the propane fire!

I hope to bring Brooklyn dogs up there on weekends in the near future to help pay for the cottage and give them some country time. I also hope to do some writing and making music up there without the distraction of the busy city.

View from Writing Nook/Back Porch of the Yard

Yard

The large property leads down to the Kaaterskill creek.

Kaatersill Creek/ summer swimming

Over this weekend in addition to moving in we went to Saugerties First Friday and said hello to our friend Raye at Lucky Chocolates and Bill at Rock Star Rodeo. This month First Friday had a Day of the Dead theme since it was so close to Halloween. Lucky Chocolates had free hot chocolate and sugar skull decorating! I’d love to open a pet store/ dog training/ boarding place up there someday….

We saw Argo for $8 (Instead of $12-14 in the city) at the cute old Orpheum Theater downtown Saugerties. We purchased a rug and quilt at the Saugerties Antique Center which has great stuff for reasonable prices.

On Sunday we took a long walk near the new cottage and saw this:

Nearby walk

Fields Nearby

We feel so lucky to be able to do this and can’t wait to head back up this Friday! I’m so grateful to have an escape from crazy NYC. We truly are living the dream….

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Filed under Dogs, NY, Travel, Upstate

Neon Grlz go to Woodstock…

Me in Terset circa 2005

There’s that cheesy old saying “If you love something set it free, if it comes back it’s meant to be.” Or something like that. Anyways, I grew up loving and playing music despite the dark places it took me. Music has really saved and almost destroyed me.

In middle school in the early nineties, when I first got into Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr and all the other great bands of that era, there was a sense of finally hearing what I was feeling inside. It made me feel less alone and connected to something bigger than myself. Then high school came and in the underground music scene in Florida I got really into drugs and alcohol. This lead to me running away, getting locked up, finding and losing love, hurting people and myself, friends dying, and then me almost dying. I had various attempts at getting sober throughout my teen years and a brief stint in the Hardcore Straight Edge scene. I also got into writing zines and feminism mid nineties with the whole riot girl movement listening to Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, and later Spitboy. Through my struggles music was there for me in various forms putting words and sounds to the complicated feelings I was having growing up until I finally got clean for good in 1996. I’m currently working on a Young Adult novel about all of this (more on that later)

I played in a few bands, Miss July in college in Florida (1999), and then Terset (2005-6) and Wu Wei (2007-8) in New York. While it felt amazing to work creatively on music with other people, it was also rife with difficulty. I’ve always been a super independent person so working with others can be really challenging for me. As anyone knows playing in a band is like being in a romantic relationship with 3 or 4 other people, schedule conflicts and different ideas and ambitions are just the tip of the iceberg. One of my favorite music documentaries is Some Kind of Monster about Metallica’s relationship problems. It’s kinda funny to see a bunch of tough metal guys talking to a therapist about their feelings, but I’m sure that movie is something any band can relate to.

Wu Wei circa 2007

So I quit playing in 2008 after Wu Wei broke up. It was just too depressing to invest so much time and energy in something and then have it fall apart. The truth was I really had a lot to do with things going awry. See, I needed music to fix things, to make my life better, to be my everything. It wasn’t just fun to me, I needed it to go somewhere or it felt like I wasn’t going to be okay. I alienated my bandmates and it was like watching a car crash that I couldn’t stop ’cause I new I was out of line. I’ve never been so close to losing my sobriety  Walking away sent me back to therapy. I was so confused about what my life was without music at the forefront. So much of my identity was invested in it, it was like losing a limb. I stopped going to shows because they just made me sad. It was heartbreaking, but the hiatus turned out to be a good thing. It made room for other things in my life.

I focused back on my writing, interviewed and bunch of poets, and wrote Dogs of Brooklyn. I built a dog walking business and got certified as a dog trainer. I traveled to Prague, Berlin, Mexico, upstate NY, and France. I fell in love and got married to a wonderful non-musician. None of this would have happened had I still been so hyper-focused on playing music. There just wasn’t room for anything else. But I still listened to and missed it a lot.

About a year ago, I started fooling around with world music loops and my guitar and started recording things in Garage Band on my computer. It felt good to play again but it was hard to motivate without anyone else involved. Then a few months ago I reconnected with a girl I knew from another band in New York, Kelly Irene Corson from The Art of Shooting and Sleepwalker. She was in a similar place with music as I was so we started talking and playing together using loops, drum machines, guitars, and vocals. It feels so good to be playing again. I don’t know where it will go but I’m finally at a place in my life where I can just enjoy playing and not need it to save me. I have a great life with or without music.

Neon Grlz circa 2012

We’re in various stages with several songs and have started calling ourselves Neon Grlz. Hopefully, we’ll have some recordings up soon and maybe even start performing again. But its so good to be in the creative cave just writing again. We just got back from a few days upstate in Woodstock playing music all day in a house up there. Don’t worry it’s not any wimpy folk stuff, we haven’t lost our angst! I am so grateful there’s more to come…..

Store hours Woodstock style

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