Friday, October 30, 2009



Get out your pumpkin carving tools, because with these stencils it's hard not to want to carve a pumpkin!

Better Homes and Gardens online has a big selection of dog breed pumpkin carving stencils. You can just download the PDFs. There's everything from Pug to Golden Retriever to Poodle and Scottish Terrier! There are 13 breeds to choose from, and with a few simple edits you could easily transform one of these stencils into a different breed - think, extend the ears on the Beagle for a Basset.

There are even some tips on how to design your own.

Last night I carved the Golden Retriever, baked some pumpkin seeds, and whipped up a batch of homemade dog bones. Here's my pumpkin all lit up!

As a Halloween treat here is my top secret pumpkin seed recipe:

Ingredients: Italian seasoning, Garlic Salt, Mrs. Dash, Sea Salt, Fresh Ground Black Pepper, Butter, Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions: Remove seeds from pumpkin, rinse in collander and remove most of the pumpkin guts. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Thinly slice 1.5-2 tablespoons of butter and lay on baking sheet, spread out pumpkin seeds on cookie sheet, and sprinkle all of the seasonings (do the salt and pepper last) across seeds, lightly, lightly, lightly drizzle olive oil on seeds, gently stir and spred back out on baking sheet. Bake for 45-mins to 1 hour, removing every 10-15 minutes to stir and flip the seeds. Bake until light golden brown and crispy. If you like extra seasoning you can taste the seeds raw or mid bake and add another drizzle of olive oil and more seasonings and stir.


This gives **Dancing with the Stars** a run for its money!!!

I came across this video and all I can say is WOW!!! I've mentioned before I'm not a big fan of putting clothes on dogs, and I think this Salsa dog costume is kind of over the top, but this dog and its trainer have an incredible routine. Canine freestyle, what this form of "dog dancing" is called in the U.S., requires a lot of training, and I really admire the training that goes into a great performance. Canine free style is a great form of entertainment, and this performance is incredible. The dog seems to really be having a great time - watch that expression and the tail wags - which really makes me enjoy this performance that much more! While this routine would put a lot of stress on the hips from standing on the hind legs for so long, this dog seems to have great hips, and is clearly happy and not uncomfortable, so I don't think this would be much of a problem.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

BAXTER: The World's Oldest End Of Life Therapy Dog Passes Away

Baxter, the World’s oldest end of life therapy dog, has passed away. Baxter has become famous with his own Facebook page and a book, Moments With Baxter. Baxter died on Friday, October 16th, at the ripe old age of 19. Having spent 16 years of his life comforting patients at the end of their lives by volunteering at the San Diego Hospice, Baxter will be missed by many, and remembered by all the lives he touched.

Like many aging dogs, in the last three years of Baxter’s life he became very arthritic, but that did not stop him from volunteering. He was very adaptable, and spent the last three years being pushed into the hospital rooms on a cart and gently placed into the arms of the dying, where he was able to comfort them. In his old age, there was a sense of vulnerability in Baxter, that helped create a tight bond between him and the patients he helped let go of life.

I hope you enjoy this beautiful tribute to an amazing animal in the video posted below. Baxter truly was man’s best friend.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

My new obsession with grooming...

Over the past 1.5 years, I have become somewhat obsessed with Golden Retrievers, and dogs in general. I have always grown up with animals, but it seems recently this obsession has taken on a whole new level.

I spend most of my spare time researching dog facts. I want to know the insides and outs to everything. Part of my motivation is because I want to purchase a puppy, and become involved in showing. Right now I'm out to learn whatever I can, and I feel I've learned A LOT! I'm starting to figure out what to look for in a pedigree, I know the criteria to have when selecting a reputable breeder, and I am slowly learning what makes a good conformation dog. I also want to learn how to give Milly, my Golden Retriever rescue, the best care possible.

In my attempts of giving her fantastic care, I have become very interested in grooming. I've always loved brushing Milly, and taking care of her coat, but now I really am striving to groom her myself. For years I groomed my show horses myself, and rode them to top national rankings, and the bond between owner and animal during grooming is amazing! In a way, I am using my dog obsession to replace the bond I once had with my horses (I no longer own horses, though continue to ride). With Milly's grooming, I strive to bathe her (I've done lots of research on what shampoos are appropriate for her coat type, and to work with her skin allergies), the right way to dry her, how to get her coat to lay just-so, how to trim her paws, how to clip (or dremel) her nails, how to trim ears, and yes, I've even researched (though yet to attempt, because I am still researching, and would like my vet to go over it with me first) how to expel her anal glands myself.

In many ways, Milly is my Golden Retriever grooming guinea pig, and when I groom her, I tend to spend hours doing the entire process - from the bath to the ear trimming - Milly loves it. She really thrives on human touch, and for her, grooming is Heaven.

I know my grooming abilities have a long way to go, but I'd say I'm pretty darn close to being able to do exactly what the groomers in the DC area do and charge $65 for. It might take me three hours to do so, but I can get her coat to lay just so, not show ring grooming, but still very nice and tidy for regular maintenance groomings. I spend a lot of the grooming getting her coat to lie just so, and afterwards I really hate putting her collar back on.

The past two weeks Milly has spent collarless, and I really like the way her coat is lying. I do worry, because afterall, identification tags are pretty critical in reuniting a dog with their owner if ever seperated, but I've noticed the hair on her neck is really growing in nicely, and thickening.

Many show dog owners and top breeders would never leave a collar on their dog at all times, but for most pet owners this is standard. There are many merits to having a collar on a dog, and the safety factor is paramount, but it has been intereting for me to do this collarless experiment with Milly's grooming for the past two weeks. I've seen big changes in her coat not wearing the collar, I don't think this trend will last long, but it has been neat to see. All in all, with lots of supervision, and very secure fencing, I see no reason why a dog would need a collar on at all times. Yes, it's a precaution, but right now I want to prepare myself in many little day-to-day ways for owning a show dog, and I've surprisingly loved what I've seen in Milly not wearing one.

A year ago, I bought a harness when Milly had a hot spot that interfered with her collar, because I was so worried about not having all of her tags on her at all times. While there are great reasons behind doing that... I am really enjoying being open minded, and absorbing all I can about a side of the dog world that I knew little about a year and a half ago.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

How Much Do You Trust Your Dog???

I had a very interesting conversation with my boyfriend last night, and it got me thinking... do you trust your dog? If so, just how much?

I trust Milly completely, but I do know that she has claws and teeth, and while I don't think she would ever be destructive in the house, or bite a person, I know that she is completely capable of these things. I usually plan my life around this knowledge, and don't take chances, even though I trust her.

As many of you already know, I firmly believe in crate training. Not only is this, in my opinion, the optimum way to housebreak a dog, but it also provides a safe haven for your pup. Dogs sleep in dens, they like to have their own space, and feel secure in their crate if you crate train them. A crate trained dog makes life much easier should you ever go out-of-town and have a pet sitter. If your dog is crate trained, and ever is injured and activity levels need to be limited time in the crate is ideal. 

I also believe that at least as puppies it can be very helpful to keep the crate not in your bedroom. There are two reasons for this - first, you'll get more sleep... just set your alarm for some middle of the night potty breaks for a very young puppy, and secondly, keeping the crate not in your bedroom makes your puppy less dependent on you, and can help separation anxiety problems from developing. 

When I got Milly she was petrified of her crate, but she has come along way, and now happily walks in when asked. I doubt she'll ever walk in it on her own (like a dog crate trained from puppyhood would), but she does not mind her time in the crate. When I am not home, Milly either is outside with access to the sun room, in her crate, or in my bedroom with the door shut, TV on, and the door leading into my bathroom closed as well. One thing I never do is leave her with free range of the house. She'd probably be fine, and not do anything naughty... okay, I know her, she'd probably jump on the sofa while I was out, and she isn't allowed on furniture. She might even get into the trash if something tasty was in it, and she's been known to do a little bit of counter surfing, especially if there is a loaf of bread on the counter. I don't want to be mad at her, and I don't want to set myself up for disappointment, so I just avoid the instances that could be potential problems. I find she is happier, and feels much more secure when left in my bedroom with all of the doors closed than she would if I left her alone with free range of the house.

When it comes to behavior in other situations, and my trust of Milly, I work very hard to have a positive relationship with her, and a lot of this comes from her feeling secure. When we go to the dog part I work on her recall (this needs a lot of work, especially when at the dog park) from the very beginning. I don't just let her play and then start calling her when I want to leave, because this is counter productive. Why would she want to listen to me calling her if I've ignored her for 45 minutes as she played? She should respond whenever I call, and she should feel secure that I am there for her. So I'll take the time and call her over every few minutes. While I want her to have fun at the dog park, I also want her to feel secure. If there was ever a fight at the dog park, or something I didn't want her near, I want her recall to be strong enough that she comes when called with distractions, and knows "leave it" if she shows interest in something I don't want her to have, or something that could be dangerous for her. I've noticed a lot of dog park conflicts come from dogs whose masters are not working on their dog's recalls, and instead are talking on their phones, reading the paper, or simply not paying attention to where their dog is, their dog's body language, and the relationship to other dogs around their dog. 

I recently dog sat two toy breed dogs. The dogs had a lot of fear of new people, new dogs, new houses, and were filled with anxiety. Both were rescues, adopted together, and still had a long way to go before they felt secure. I wanted their time with me to be as positive as possible, and really worked on emphasizing their security. To meet Milly they were in their crate, and Milly was leashed on the other side of the room. Eventually Milly walked around the room, but the little dogs still were in their crate. I took them out, and they were introduced (obviously, all dogs on leashes), and things went okay, not great, but okay. When it came to them being outside I kept them in a large pen for the first three days, and let them get used to seeing Milly, and smelling her from the security of their play pen. By the time I removed the play pen the toy dogs were totally confident, and realized the play pen was their safe place, just like their crate is their safe place when inside. They were free to come and go as they pleased from the playpen, but they really seemed to enjoy having this security.

When it comes to feeding, I firmly believe in giving your dogs meals, and not free-feeding. This is my personal opinion, but I want my dog to eat on a schedule, and I'd like to know exactly how much my dog is consuming. I want her to eat when I feed her, and I practice the 15 minute rule: the bowl of food goes down at meal time for 15 minutes, if she doesn't eat it in 15 minutes the bowl is removed until the next feeding. Eventually, and usually pretty quickly, your dog will start to eat at meal times, and appreciate the structure of a schedule. If Milly needs medication in her food I want her to eat it at meal time. I really appreciate the structure of meal times, if I have to go somewhere, I know exactly how much time it will take to feed Milly. If I have to board Milly, I know that she will eat at meal times. Having a structured feeding schedule helps with your dog's overall sense of security.

In short, sometimes it's good to think about how much we trust our pets. I don't want to set my dog up for failure, and I really want her to feel safe and secure. I work hard to always be aware of her surroundings, and put her in situations where she is safe, and the amount of destruction she could cause is left to a minimum. When I introduce her to new people I always tell them the best way to pet her or approach her (especially with small children). I even practice taking her bowl away mid-feeding every few weeks. She's totally fine with this, and always has been, but I want her to know that we work on this. If ever I had to remove her food mid-feeding for a reason, I want her to not get upset or aggressive about this. If a child ever stuck their hand in her food bowl, I want her to not bite a hand. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

This is ridiculous

First came the Snuggie, but now there's one for your dog too... I couldn't help but laugh when I saw this commercial on TV tonight!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


My childhood dog, VT (named for Vermont, where he adopted us), had thunderstorm and fireworks anxiety, and Milly has fireworks anxiety and mild thunderstorm anxiety, too.

With so much experience with anxiety associated with loud, I have developed a system that helped to lessen VT and now Milly’s nervousness.

First, do not wait until the storm arrives to address the anxiety. If you know bad weather is coming your way, start early. Milly responds very well to taking Bach’s Rescue Remedy before a stressful event (she is also terrified of vacuum cleaners, so we give her Rescue Remedy before our annual spring cleaning day too). You can also you’re your dog pure Chamomile Tea Leaves with a little bit of food – the Chamomile can relax them. Speak with your veterinarian before doing this, and test it ahead of time to ensure your dog reacts safely to it. Turn on the radio or TV. I like to use stations with people talking in soothing voices – HGTV or NPR are channels and stations where the voices in the background sooth Milly.

Next, turn on a floor fan to medium or high, and tilt it toward the floor of the room where your dog is (it doesn’t need to be directly on your dog, but you want it in the general direction of your dog). This creates white noise that will help drown out the thunder or fireworks. If your dog lies near the fan, the wind of the fan will feel good to the dog and the fan will create slight floor vibrations that will be relaxing for your dog. If you have a white noise sleep machine you can turn this on to drown out the thunder as well.

Because lightning is not nearly as scary or thrilling if you cannot see it, you’ll want to close all of the curtains in the room and turn on some lights.

Thunderstorms are not a safe time to be outside, especially for dogs with thunderstorm anxiety, who may run away out of fear if left outside. If you have a doggie door, close it and lock it before the storm.

Many dogs will head for their favorite safe place in the house when stressed about thunder or fireworks. Whether it is the bathroom, a closet, under a table, or your bedroom make it available to your dog. This is not the time to scold your dog for not going in the bathroom – if they feel safe there, let them be there (and bring the TV or radio, fan, and Rescue Remedy to their safe place). If your dog does not have “a safe place” you can create a den for them by draping a sheet or blanket across a table or chair to give them a place to hide. With VT we would place his dog bed under the table, and then drape the blanket over it for added comfort. Milly’s safe place is my bedroom, preferably with her head on my lap for added security.

When the storm or fireworks arrive you’ll notice your dog’s reactions. Some dogs, like Milly, will stick to you like glue, others will pace or bark or whimper.

Next, you’ll want to sit down. When the anxiety is setting in, it is a good time to stay in one place, and act unimpressed by the event (if you are also scared of thunderstorms, you should take some Bach’s Rescue Remedy yourself, so that you remain calm for your dog). You need to let your dog get a sense of calmness from you.

Tell your dog to “Settle Down,” but know that every hair on your dog’s body feels like things are not OK, and you won’t be able to convince him that they are. A confident, but not aggressive or mean, “Settle Down” will be reassuring for your dog. When anxiety is setting in this is not the time for baby talk or coddling your dog. That will make him/her feel even needier. Instead, a firm and confident tone of voice, a quick pat on the head or a brief scratch is better than baby talk and soft stroking.

If problems continue, please speak with your veterinarian about other alternatives and ways to address your dog’s thunderstorm or fireworks anxiety.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

This video makes me sick!

This video makes me sick!! I'm actually thinking about reporting them, because that treadmill will hold up in court as dog fighting evidence/dog fighting paraphernalia.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Product Review: Triple Crown Everlasting Treat Ball

After picking up the Twist n' Treat simply because the store did not carry the Triple Crown Everlasting Treat Ball, I was a happy consumer, but I still really wanted to get my hands on my original intended purchase, and decided I’d hit up Petsmart to see if they carried it in Large (it seems the pet industry caters to small and medium sized dogs in the same way women’s shoe stores cater to the size 7). Petsmart had two left, and I eagerly pulled one off the shelf. When I had arrived at the store, I had no idea how much the Everlasting Treat Ball would cost (I’d checked it out on Amazon at ridiculously low prices), and I was a bit taken aback when I saw the price, but I wanted the instant gratification, and was succumbed to forking over the $24 to have a toy to amuse Milly while I’m at work, and something to blog about. While there, I went ahead and purchased the Everlasting Treat Refills (a two pack) for $9.99, because the ball only comes with one treat (making it not really a ball that rolls if you only use one).

About the ball:

It is a large ball (smaller than a kickball, but much bigger than a softball) making it an ideal toy to use unsupervised because there is little to no risk of swallowing it. The ball is made of a very firm rubber, and has two flat ends with holes to insert the everlasting treats. With both treats inserted it will bounce a little, and easily rolls around to keep your dog more engaged.

About the treats:

While I contemplated this purchase the only thing that was holding me back were the treats. The ball says you can stuff it with your own treats, but the build of it makes it more appropriate and much more convenient to buy the ones the company makes. I am going to work on stuffing it with my own, and I’d like to find a way to create treats that are healthy and fit in it better.

The ingredients in the treats leave much to be desired, and are in no way healthy - wheat gluten, gelatin, water, glycerin, natural flavoring, corn gluten meal, garlic powder, brewer's yeast, lecithin, sodium diacetate, vegetable gum, titanium dioxide, natural coloring – and they’re made in China (normally a deal breaker for me).

My Experience:

I presented Milly with the Everlasting treat ball with two different treats on either end (the chicken it came with, and the lamb I purchased). She was totally engrossed in this ball for HOURS! She would not even look up when I called her name, and licked, pushed, and pawed at it all evening. While the treats, made in China, and lacking any wholesome ingredients, do not fit into her normal diet, I found it takes her a very long time to make any dents in them at all, so while the treats aren’t great, she is only ingesting them in very minute quantities.

The ball itself is ingenious, very Kong like in theory, but much more interactive, and really caught her attention. I’d say she enjoys this even more than the Twist and Treat, but I only let her play with it every now and then to limit her ingestion of unhealthy treats.

The rubber is very well made, and I think this toy would be appropriate for a dog that is prone to destroying most toys (obviously, supervise to make sure it is indestructible). If you don’t mind the bad ingredients, and have a dog that quickly figures out how to remove the treats they even make a treat that screws into a screw (made from treat, of course) and ensures a longer lasting treat/experience. This will be ideal for preventing her from digging in the yard when I’m not home.

I look forward to playing around with filling the ball with my own treats, and seeing what results I have.

All in all, I’d say it’s an awesome toy, but be cautious because the treats are lacking in nutrition, so only use it sparingly.

Anyone else see a HUGE MARKET for wholesome treats for all of these toys? From the Kong spray to the Everlasting Treat (and all the others) there really is a market for holistic alternatives!