Life with Dogs / 10

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Tip # 10: On dealing with “good samaritans”.

When we raise dogs, it means we swear an imaginary oath to care for them. Over time, our dogs grow and become our best friends. And when someone assumes we are breaking that oath we’ve made to our best friend, it makes us go bat-shit. Personally, I think dealing with rude people should be seen as an art form.

I remember the deer-in-the-headlight days when I used to just stand there and listen while people would tell me my dogs needed water/food/were tired/hot/whatever in order to keep the peace. Living in a really liberal area where everyone likes to share their opinions (this is a good and bad thing) means dealing with situations like this frequently. But you know what? I take care of my dogs. They don’t need water because they just had some. They aren’t hungry because they’ve been fed. They aren’t hot because I would never leave them in the car on a hot day. I got tired of people thinking they could say whatever they wanted to me, so now I talk back.

The other day, while driving back from Lagunitas, we stopped to get some juice at this natural grocery store. The truck was parked but running. I’m sitting in the passenger’s seat and the dogs are in the back, all the windows are down. They’ve just been swimming in cold creek water for the last few hours, and Keeper was shivering. Trey has ran inside to get the drinks.

Middle-aged woman: (walks over to our truck, says to me) “I think your dogs are hot”.
Me: (ignoring middle age woman who has walked over to my truck to tell me how to take care of my dogs).
Middle-aged woman: : “Hellooooo (peers into the driver’s seat window), I said I think your dogs are hot.”
Me: (Starts to explain creek, cold water, swimming… aborts idea, decides to tell her to get the fu*k out of here instead).
Me: No they aren’t, and I don’t need you to tell me how to care for my dogs…
Middle-aged woman: (cutting me off) “You’re ignorant and don’t deserve to have dogs!” (walks back to her silver Prius thinking she has done her civic duty for the day).
Me: Ohgetthafuckouttahere (suddenly, a Boston accent emerges).
Middle-aged woman: (turns around and says) “You’re a bitch. I have your license plate”.
Me: That’s great lady, shove it up your ass (makes dramatic ass shoving gesture with arm).
Me: (sits in passenger’s seat, mulling over what just happened. gets pissed on behalf of all good dog owners everywhere. gets out of passenger’s seat and walks over to woman).
Me: HEY!
Middle-aged woman: (gets into Prius quickly).
Me: (knocks on her window loudly) IT’S ME, FROM OVER THERE (points flamboyantly to the truck).
Middle-aged woman: (locks doors).
Me: Yeah, TOTALLY intrusive when someone comes over to your car, right? While I’m here, don’t EVER tell me how to care for my dogs or assume you know what I or anyone else needs to be doing.
Middle-aged bitch: (puts car in reverse).
Me: (Follows car, flicking off rearview mirror with both hands until Prius leaves the parking lot. Turns to see people eating lunch outside of store. Snarls for added effect).

You might be thinking “wow Nicole, you really went there“. I did. I’d do it again. They can go tell all their friends what happened so every one of them thinks twice about approaching someone random and thinking they know more about their dogs than they do.

If throwing the wild card isn’t your thing, here’s a less in-your-face approach:

Turn the conversation. Ask them this instead:
Do you feed this dog every morning and night?
Do you pick up this dog’s poop 3 times a day?
Did this dog sleep in the bed with you last night?
Do you take this dog to the dog park every day?
Does this dog go hiking, swimming, and on a million road trips with you?

No? Well then don’t tell me how to take care of my dog.

Lastly (and somewhat effective, yet least satisfying): ignore them. Engaging with strangers is always a gamble and you never know who is waiting around the corner. I usually listen long enough to hear what they have to say, and if the person obviously has no clue what’s going on, it’s better to just treat them as if they are crazy for even approaching you. A good death stare works wonders. I tend to go all bulge-y eyed in these situations because I have a lot of repressed childhood anger. I’m just kidding. Kind of.

Hopefully this provides a few entertaining options for your next encounter with a “good samaritan”. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. Got any good stories of someone telling you you’re not taking proper care of your dog? How did you deal with it? I’d love to hear!

Getting waffles with Mohinders

This post really has nothing to do with waffles, except for the fact that it was what I was doing on the morning when I decided to make this video. Sometimes when blogging, it can all start to seem kind of disingenuous if you let it (this scene from Wayne’s World reflects my sentiments) so, you have to do really normal things in order to really get back to your OG vibe. And the reality was, I woke up wanting a waffle from the restaurant across the street and needed to put shoes on to go and get it. So I wore my Mohinders, the shoes I’ve been living in ever since being given a pair to wear around the Philippines, and decided it would be a good time to share about them. Here’s an island dog on the beach in Palawan checking them out:

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Mohinders are a new favorite of mine for a lot of reasons. For one, their founder is a really nice guy that’s local to the San Francisco Bay area and believes in doing good. Another reason is their leather shoes are ethically sourced and made by an artisan collaborative in rural Karnataka, India. This means they believe in preserving the cultural practice of shoemaking in India as well as helping the artisans break-free from the “cycle of poverty” that commonly comes with products mass-produced outside of the US. Workers are paid a fair wage for the work they do. What’s also great about these shoes is that the entire product is natural and made from the earth. The leather is vegetable-tanned by hand in small batches using vegetable tannins extracted from the myrobalan nut and the bark of babul trees. The result is a casually cool, stylish shoe that will last through walks across sandy beaches, motor bike rides through foreign towns, and walking down the street to get waffles in your ‘hood.

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This post somewhat sponsored by Mohinders. Sometimes I exchange my marginal photography and writing skills for really well-crafted goods that I care about. And then make waffle videos about it. But thanks for reading the italics, you’re really great.

Lagunitas, CA

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It was beautiful all weekend here. The temperatures were in the high 70s and 80s both days so we practically lived outside. On Saturday we went on a bike ride around Berkeley and Oakland, then on Sunday we went to a swimming hole up north.

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A tiny office

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Before leaving on our trip, I turned our closet into an office. Yeah! Most of the stuff we already had, with the exception of some Ikea cubicle shelves and a few office supplies. What do you think of the bike chandelier? I thought it really tied the room together, haha. I decided to hang it to maximize floor space. It’s neat how simple solutions can make a room feel bigger than it really is. It’s pretty sweet having a dedicated office to work in. Up until now I had been alternating between laying on the bed, sitting in the hammock, or going to coffee shops to work.

The thing with writing in coffee shops is it’s actually the worst place in the world to write. That women with the beret, what’s her story? I wonder if the barista’s shift is ending or just beginning. This coffee is good. Are everyone’s glasses in here prescription, or do they just wear them to look smarter? That guy at 3′ o clock keeps making eye contact with me. I should have showered. Do they do wine night here?

Anyway, it’s nice to have my own space to be creative in. Even if it is just a closet. Keeper approves. Really she just wants me to throw her new orange frisbee. She makes it real hard to say no with that smile.

Around Here

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We’re home and peeling like snakes from the equatorial sun. Tomorrow we’re taking Lola for a spin. She’s been parked for a few weeks so hopefully she still runs, ha! I joke, but at the same time I’m really meaning it (story of my life).

I’m so excited to share stories, photos and videos from our time in Hong Kong and the Philippines over the next couple of weeks. It’s hard to choose where to begin. It was sunny and internet-less and we left with so many memories we’re already talking about. On Palawan, the island we stayed on in the Philippines, there were lots of dogs. And Hong Kong had the best eggs! For now though, my still somewhat jet-lagged self is going to get some rest. I’m almost too tired for Indian take out and Dateline (almost). Here are a few photos around here since we’ve been back.

1./ Mila and a new book 2./ Keeper, happy to be reunited with her favorite human in the hammock 3./ A wooden mask we brought back from Palawan. 4./ This vintage tee was screaming my name 5./ Jack thinking we’re leaving him behind again 6./Sometimes it feels like someone is watching you

Northern California, from the sky

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This past weekend we got to see San Francisco Bay from the sky. It was incredible. We took off from Sausalito (just north of the Golden Gate Bridge), then flew over the city, circled around Alcatraz and the east bay, before heading north along the coastline up to Point Reyes. It was so cool to look down and see the giant redwood trees in Muir Woods, and take turns spotting gray whales off the coast. Trey capitalized on the opportunity to look for drained swimming pools in the area from up above (for riding bmx/skating). Jack was our co-pilot. Well, actually, we decided at the last minute that it would be too loud for him in the plane (preserving his hearing was more important) – so he stayed back on the dock with Ava, the woman who wrangles the plane in after it lands (thanks Ava!). Once we landed, Jack jumped inside the plane so he could see what we had been up to! It was so much fun. We were reminded just how beautiful this place we call home really is.

I’d probably have to say my favorite parts were flying close to the Golden Gate Bridge and seeing the huge cliffs on the coastline. It was so cool to see another perspective of the San Francisco Bay. That, and seeing Jack on the dock doing his happy dance when we returned. When we were leaving the dock and about to go home, Jack tried to take a short cut and stepped (front paws only) into a foot of ebb tide mud and got stuck up to his shoulders. Trey had to pull him out like a cork stuck in a bottle of merlot (I use this analogy far too often when describing our dogs, come to think of it)…

As you know, we’re into living life to the fullest. Experiences rank higher than any material good could to us. For this experience, we used IfOnly, a company that specializes in “Experiences For Good”- extraordinary experiences that give back to charities. We loved it – and it’s great if you’re looking for something local to do while visiting a new city, or even doing something extravagant like meeting The Weeknd backstage or that hunky Australian actor Chris Hemsworth. IfOnly is a great marketplace for incredible experiences. Not to mention an awesome way to give the gift of adventure to your friends and family.

Thank you IfOnly and Sea Plane Adventures for this awesome experience we won’t forget!

IfOnly is offering $50 off a unique experience of your own using code: wildlandia! Check them out here. This post was sponsored by IfOnly. All content and opinions expressed here are my own. Thank you for supporting those who support Wildlandia!

Outer Sunset & Ocean Beach, SF

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This weekend was sunny and clear (thanks for gettin’ lost, @Karlthefog!), so on Sunday we headed over to the Outer Sunset to spend some time at Ocean Beach.

On the way, we popped into The General Store (same one that’s in LA’s Venice neighborhood) and Mollusk Surf Shop to pick up a few goodies, then checked out Outerlands for a bite to eat but it was closed (the place is always poppin’ – we’ll have to come back), and grabbed a coffee and a lavender + honey shortbread cookie at Trouble coffee before heading to Ocean Beach.

Ocean Beach is a popular surf spot for the brave. San Francisco’s beaches are notoriously cold here…52-56 degree water! Then it’s usually also blanketed with a thick marine layer, making for a pretty chilly experience. Living in San Diego and Florida really spoiled me with warm water. Here you’re lucky if you get away with anything less than a 5/4 mm full wetsuit year round. It was really windy and Trey joked that he was “naturally exfoliating his skin” by standing into the wind and letting the sand hit him in the face. The dogs loved it so much. The beach, not Trey getting hit in the face. Ha! I never get tired of seeing them run wild on the beach. After that, we drove through the Haight where we used to live and made a stop at our favorite vintage shop Wasteland, then gave our old pink building a wave as we drove by on the way home. Janis Joplin lived on the top floor in the sixties. We lived in the garden apartment a few years back. There used to be these ghost tours that tourists would take in the Haight. Our building was one of the stops and the group would congregate right outside our window on the street while the tour guide would talk about how the ghost of Janis haunted the building. Sometimes we’d play along and flash the lights just to hear the “Agh! Omg!” reactions.

Then it was over the bridge and back to sunny Berkeley. Just before arriving home WE SAW IT. The weiner dog in a backpack on a bike. It was so cute I could hardly keep it together. Bay area people are the coolest. I’ve been snapping our trips on Snapchat. We get pretty silly…we’re @wildlandia, wanna be friends?

Happy Monday!

Packing For A Tropical Island


In a few weeks we’re heading to the Philippines for some sun, diving, and island hopping. I’m so stoked! Visions of fresh local seafood, fruity drinks with slivers of citrus, and limestone cliffs that fall into turquoise waters have been dancing in my head. I’m excited about the marine wildlife too, of course. Dolphins! Sea turtles! Sharks! Nudibranchs! Dugongs! Well, those are extremely rare where we’ll be from what I’ve heard – they are a relative of the manatee, which we swam with while living in Florida. But, who knows. Whale sharks are also around, which we free-dived with in Mexico. Anyway, Here are a few things that will be in my backpack/carry-on:

1. A few good tanks
2. Some polarized shades
3. A bandana for keeping my hair back
4. Coconut lip balm
5. A pair of old Levis jeans I made into shorts – “jorts!”
6. My trusty sandals
7. Reef-safe sunscreen for exploring coral reefs and leaving no finprint behind.

Other things I’ll take:
A gauzy dress I’ve had forever
A swimsuit
The backpack I always carry

Has anyone been to the Philippines and have recommendations? What do you usually pack when you go somewhere tropical? I’d love to hear about it!

On confidence.


I can remember exactly when it clicked for me that I was important. That’s what true confidence is anyway, realizing you’re important. That your thoughts are important, that what you feel is important, and that your ideas matter. It happens at different times, and in different ways for everyone – that moment in life when you reach a breaking point and say “f*ck it” to your insecurities and decide to be 100% yourself.

For me, it happened when I was 27 and sitting on the platform of a research boat off the gulf coast of Florida looking down at a female bottlenose dolphin we had brought onboard to examine. The boat was filled with aquatic vets who had come from various research institutions from around the country to accompany our research efforts. Everyone onboard was busy tending to their assigned tasks, moving about the platform to perform blood work, urine and fecal sampling, ultra sounds, etc. It was my job as resident biologist of the lab leading the research mission to monitor every dolphin we brought onboard. Whenever their oxygen level dropped too low, or there were signs of stress, I would call for a bucket of water so we could splash it over the blowhole to initiate breathing. While others took samples, it was my job (and the lab’s) to ensure she stayed alive.

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