Saturday, August 29, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

Senator Ted Kennedy - A Dog Lover and Animal Advocate

Photo: Kennedy with wife Victoria Reggie Kennedy, walking with their dogs in 2008, shortly after Kennedy was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Credit: Steven Senne / Associated Press

As the media and individuals remember and pay tribute to “The Lion of the Senate,” Senator Ted Kennedy much focus is on his dedication to healthcare reform, yet it is important to also remember that he was a true advocate for animals and a dog lover. Though known for spearheading many liberal issues, Kennedy was able to cross the partisan line when it came to issues he believed in. Kennedy connected with conservatives on one issue – his love of animals – particularly his love of his Portuguese Water Dogs – four-legged and free of part affiliation.

Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, recently spoke about Senator Kennedy’s dedication to animals and promoting animal welfare. Pacelle referred to Kennedy as, “a stalwart ally over the years on a wide range of legislation to protect companion animals, farm animals, animals in research and wildlife,” and The Lion of the Senate was a key player in the passage of animal welfare legislation including laws that cracked down on dog fighting and cockfighting, protected horses and other farm animals, and sent chimpanzees once used in medical research to sanctuaries, Pacelle also noted. Senator Kennedy received a score of an 83 from the Humane Society Legislative Fund in their latest scorecard, which is an annual report on the voting records of lawmakers on animal protection issues.

Of course, while some did not agree with all of the animal issues Kennedy supported, it is hard not to smile when you think of his love and devotion to Sunny and Splash his two Portuguese Water Dogs – that is an issue even the most conservatives are sure to support. If Kennedy was “The Lion of the Senate” than Splash is surely “The Dog of the Senate,” Senator Kennedy noted in an interview with the Boston Globe some of Splash’s many accomplishments including, meeting Elton John, a visit to the Oval Office, and a Presidential Bone – a rawhide given to Splash from President Bush, inscribed with the message, “From Barney to Splash.’ Senator Kennedy confided in the Boston Globe that Splash accompanied him to all of the hearings, where he would sit under the table. It wasn’t just Senate hearings where Splash was present, but press conferences, too. When not being a Legislative Lassie, and faithful companion to Senator Kennedy, Splash could be found at the Cape, often enjoying long trips on the boat, he was a dog that could sail all day, Kennedy told the Boston Globe.

Splash was not only Kennedy’s dog, but Kennedy was also faithfully devoted to his canine companion. The Lion of the Senate was so devoted that Splash was the inspiration for Kennedy to pen a children’s book with Splash as its “narrator” or “woofator.” The story, "My Senator and Me: A Dog's Eye View of Washington, D.C.," is aimed at elementary-aged children, and gives them an introduction to the political process through the words of Splash. The School Library Journal praised the book by saying, "This canine bundle of friendly, panting fun takes readers on a tour of monuments and then describes a typical day: staff discussion of an education bill, a ride in the underground tram between the Senate and the Capitol, a press conference, a committee meeting, and a floor vote. Children will appreciate Splash's joy at the snacks and time for outdoor catch along the way, as well as the strategic Woof when the committee reaches an impasse on the bill."

As I blogged about in the past, recently Kennedy helped the Obama’s with the acquisition of their Portuguese Water Dog, Bo – and now America can thank the now-departed Lion of the Senate for the friendly, panting, fetching, tuxedo-clad bundle of joy that is the First Dog.

Whether or not you supported Senator Ted Kennedy – like all humans he had his share of faults, and his image was tainted by past indiscretions – he truly loved and cared about animals. He did not just leave behind his human family with his passing, but also his beloved dogs Sunny and Splash, who surely are faced with an incomprehensible amount of grief as they wonder where their master has gone.

Sources: LA Times, Lindsay Barnett

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Protect Your Senior Dog From Injury with a Dog Ramp!!

One of the challenges I am starting to have with Milly is her difficulty getting in and out of trucks or SUV’s and on and off my bed. Milly is 10ish, and as she has aged I have fed her Cosequin, a joint supplement, as a daily preventative, but accessing high objects has become more difficult for her. This worries me, because I have read that jumping on and off high objects like a truck, high bed or grooming table can lead to serious injuries and really damage joints, especially in large breeds.

Last spring Milly and I took a ride in the bed of a truck – normally I would never allow her to ride lose in a truck bed, but in this instance we were going no more than 5mph and I was riding with her – when I asked her to “kennel up” (her command to jump into a car) she jumped and then started to fall. I immediately wrapped my arms around her to catch her, but in my haste and worry forgot that two years ago I had shoulder surgery and could no longer lift her, she came crashing into my face and I fell onto the ground with 68 lbs of Golden Retriever on top of me. Milly was fine, and apart from a very swollen, bruised and bloody nose, I was too. This was the first instance where I thought, “she’s really aging.”

Since our truck incident I have been extremely cautious with Milly jumping in-and-out of vehicles or onto high furniture. I often make my boyfriend lift her into any SUV, and even then I’m still worried. I have thought a lot about dog ramps, as they seem like the logical choice in addressing Milly’s aging body and enabling her, a geriatric dog, to safely get in-and-out or off-and-on cars and furniture without Bill or I having to lift her, and with no stress to her joints. What intrigues me most about a dog ramp is it will work for Milly to safely go on-and-off the bed as well as in-and-out of the car – so it is versatile.

I stumbled upon this YouTube video that shows a senior dog trying out two different dog ramps from Pet Gear.

In this video you see a senior dog getting used to the Pet Gear Tri-Fold ramp as well as a smaller indoor ramp. The tri-fold ramp gives the dog easy access in and out of an SUV, while the indoor ramp will help him climb onto his owner’s bed.

Overall, I would recommend that anyone with a large breed dog use a ramp as a preventative to injury, but this is especially critical with senior dogs. I am going to look into how hard it would be to build my own ramp, and if that proves too difficult I will either be purchasing pet stairs or a ramp for Milly to help protect her from injury when accessing a vehicle or furniture. I have no desire to take and chances when I know there are safe alternatives available.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


You might recall I mentioned a while back that there are going to be some MAJOR changes taking place at The Wet Nose over the next few months. The changes are well underway, and I can't wait to reveal them to you, but there is much work yet to be done. One of my favorite parts of these very important changes is that I will have the ability to provide my readers with wonderful recipes for baking and feeding your dog from home! Some of you may know that I dabbled in the idea of opening a gourmet dog bakery, and spent months coming up with recipes and testing all sorts of different homemade treats, but have put that idea on hold for the time being. I do still love to bake for Milly, and I think sharing these recipes with you, the reader, will be a great way to spread my love of dogs and baking with the world. So without further ado, here's a great one to start with from my seeds and nuts category, especially if you don't have much experience in the kitchen!


4 cups whole-wheat flour

2 cups quick-cooking oats

2½ cups warm water

½ cup all-natural peanut butter (use the natural kind, or make sure it is no-sugar or no-salt added)

¼ cup carob chips (available at fine grocery stores and health food stores)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients and mix well.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until it has a firm texture. If the dough is too sticky and grabs to your fingers, add warm water, in 1 teaspoon intervals, while continuing to knead.
  3. Roll the dough to a ¼ inch thickness. Cut with the cookie cutter of your choice (I love using dog-related cookie cutters!) Transfer biscuits to a baking sheet.
  4. Bake the biscuits for 40 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the biscuits stand in the oven until hard, 1 to 2 hours.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Pet Stain & Odor Removers

Since owning Milly I have had a lot of experience with pet stain & odor removers. She was incredibly difficult to house train, and as she was terrified of her crate when I adopted her crate-training was not a viable option. Milly is now perfectly house trained, but it took a stained carpet in my apartment, and lots of experimenting with various products until I discovered what works, and more importantly, what does not. This morning Milly vomited three times - I was going to take her to the vet but she seemed fine and no more vomiting so I'm monitoring her - and I was able to try a new pet stain and odor remover to clean my beau's vomit coated car mats.

If your pet soils in the house it is important to not only clean the area to remove the stain, but also to thoroughly remove the odor. Dogs possess an incredibly strong sense of smell and like to urinate and defecate in the same place. Simply using household cleaners rarely removes the smell so the dog can no longer smell it, and thus there is a great market for cleaners made specifically for this purpose.

I had great experiences with Simple Solution Stain & Odor Remover when I first got Milly, and she enjoyed peeing in front of my roommate's bedroom door on a regular basis. This was the only cleaning product I tried at the time (and I tried many) that both removed the stain and the smell from my white carpets. I couldn't smell the accidents, but neither could Milly. When I would use different products she would soil in the carpet in the same area, and more frequently, but with Simple Solution the repeat accidents stopped. I am not sure about the chemicals in this product, as I do not have a bottle in front of me right now, but it does work. I will say it has a slightly chemically smell though.

After Milly's vomit in the beau's vehicle we rushed home to clean it up, give Milly water and monitor her. She ended up being fine, but then the task of cleaning the car mats well enough so we don't smell dog vomit (and removing the stains) whenever we ride in the car became our priority. Bill offered to stay at home with Milly and sit with a bowl on his lap to get her to drink (she is so funny about drinking when I'm not around), and I was to run to the local pet supply store for pet stain and odor remover.

I planned on picking up a bottle of Simple Solutions since I have had great success with it in the past, but they did not carry it. I settled on Nature's Miracle, and I am thrilled! It is non-toxic, and works extremely well. I simply shook the bottle, poured on the carpet mats, waited a few minutes and wiped clean with a paper towel. The smell is completely gone, and you'd never know the disaster we had this morning in the car! I like that Nature's Miracle comes in a larger bottle than Simple Solution, and it also worked better. Usually I have to saturate a stain with Simple Solution two or three times to remove the stain, but the Nature's Miracle was fast acting and worked on the first try! It also did not stain the gray mats which is always a bonus! I give Simple Solution three paws and three stars, but I give Nature's Miracle FOUR PAWS; FOUR STARS!

Friday, August 14, 2009


As a former dancer, I have an odd admiration and fascination with K9 Freestyle! This Britain's Got Talent video of Gin is amazing! Even if you have no love of dance you can still enjoy the obedience and great rhythm this incredible dog has! :)



Obesity is an extremely common problem in dogs and, just like humans, being overweight or obese can be very harmful to your dog’s health. I’ve noticed when I personally put on a few pounds my knees hurt more, well that’s just a few pounds on me, but think of if Milly (who is less than half my weight) packed on a few extra pounds – the pressure to her joints would be much greater. I have read that one pound of excess weight is 5-10 pounds of added pressure to your dog’s joints, but I have not yet found a concrete statistic for this. Being overweight is not just a stress on your dog’s joints, but it can also be a stress on the dog’s overall body and puts your dog at an increased risk of diabetes, liver problems and joint pain.

People frequently comment to me, “Oh my, Milly is soooooooooo skinny!” or “I can’t believe how little you feed Milly! or “I can feel her ribs when I pet her!” as if inferring I keep Milly underweight, which I do not. I keep Milly at her ideal weight, and she is not at all overweight. At one point, I let Milly get overweight – she was up to 84 lbs – and I saw the detrimental effects this had on her health. Ironically, little had changed in my care of Milly to cause her to gain so much weight. However, at the time, I was only feeding her one meal a day (this can slow their metabolism, so she now gets two small meals), I measured her food, but I was feeding her a little bit more than I should have, I fed a diet containing corn, after my shoulder surgery Milly’s exercise time decreased and finally, Milly aged, and just like us humans, she hit a point where her metabolism slowed way down, and she no longer needed the food she once did. I saw the detrimental effects weight gain had on her – she was more lethargic and tired easily, she could not jump on to the bed (she now has no problems), and had trouble jumping into the back of the car.

When I took her to the vet for her annual checkup and learned of her weight (she had put on 12 pounds) I was very concerned. What surprised me was the vet did not even acknowledge Milly was overweight until I probed her about what would be the ideal weight. After learning great pointers on dieting I immediately went out and bought a measuring cup to keep in Milly’s food storage bin. I started measuring her food. ¾ of a cup in the morning and ¾ of a cup in the evening with two tablespoons of canned food split between the two meals. I felt bad for feeding Milly so little and started mixing in canned green beans (no salt added), fresh carrots, non-fat yogurt, and 100% canned pumpkin. I limited Milly’s treats – and even put her on a low-fat treat at first. If your dog is very overweight, you can measure out the daily food each morning, and use the kibble as treats throughout the day, whatever is left over in the bowl at feeding time is dinner.

I was a bit concerned that the vet did not even acknowledge Milly’s weight, but when I walked out there was another Golden Retriever in the waiting room who I can only describe as morbidly obese. This Golden looked like a rectangular coffee table with a head and tail. His back was literally flat, and he was three times as wide as Milly.

It did not take long for the weight to come off of Milly, and I saw major differences in her personality, happiness, and health as five pound increments seemed to fly off of her. She is now 63 pounds! Yes, she has lost 21 pounds in a year and a half! She could lose another 1-2 pounds, but at her age my vet and I agree it probably is best to leave her at 63 pounds. Most people I encounter say she is too skinny, but she is not. She is simply at an ideal weight, and so many people are used to seeing overweight dogs. Milly has a nice tuck, when you touch her sides you can feel her rib cage but her ribs are by no means protruding. She now is totally capable of going jogging with me, jumps on the bed with ease (though I am planning on building her stairs as this can be a strain on her hips), leaps into the car as if it is nothing, and has so much more energy! I feel like a horrible dog owner that I ever let her get over weight, but I am not lying when I said the weight gain really did creep up quickly.

Having seen what it was like to own an over weight dog, and the transformation in her quality of life and health to being at an ideal weight I see the great disservice many people do to their pets by keeping them overweight. I believe that many people give human characteristics to their animals, and enjoy giving them (often high fat) treats because it “makes them happy”. Well, a nice walk also makes a dog happy. A slice of an apple makes a dog happy. You don’t have to do away with dog treats, but think about portions. I used to give Milly the entire dog biscuit for each good thing she did. Now I break it up into at least 4 servings. She doesn’t seem to notice that the treats are smaller, and I can spread out the amount of times I give her treats by doing this so I have more opportunities to “make her happy”.

One of the most beautiful photos ever taken of Milly I have never posted, because I am ashamed of her weight. I still feel a lot of guilt and remorse that I did such a disservice to her, and in a way, neglected her health and well being. I have come to realize that a lot of times allowing your dog to get very obese can be almost as detrimental as under-feeding them and allowing them to get too thin.

Well, now here you have it. The photo of her at the barn was taken at her heaviest, and this is her now.

Even though she is sitting you can see that she is clearly overweight, and lacks definition. She does not have the "tuck" and her rib cage seems to flow evenly into her back end. She is between 82-84 pounds in this photo taken a year and a half ago.

Sorry this isn't the best angle, but here you can see she is more slender, and has definition.
You can somewhat see the "tuck" I described, but the angle is not the best. She is 63 pounds in this photo, taken last week.

Here you can very clearly see how the "tuck" and that she is at an ideal weight. She is not too skinny, is not at all overweight and is a very trim and fit 10 year old senior citizen. This photo was also taken last week.

Here info on dog obesity from the ASPCA website!

  1. Obesity develops when energy intake exceeds energy requirements. The excess energy is then stored as fat. Once a pet is obese, he may remain obese even after excessive caloric intake stops. The majority of cases of obesity are related to simple overfeeding coupled with lack of exercise.
  2. Certain groups of dogs appear more prone to obesity than others. Specific breeds (Labrador retrievers and pugs, for example) and older dogs are particularly prone.
  3. Is your dog a hog? As a subjective assessment of body condition, you should be able to feel the backbone and palpate the ribs in an animal of healthy weight. If you cannot feel your pet’s ribs without pressing, there is too much fat.
  4. Also, you should see a noticeable "waist" between the back of the rib cage and the hips when looking at your pet from above. Viewed from the side, there should be a "tuck" in the tummy—the abdomen should go up from the bottom of the rib cage to inside the thighs. Dogs who fail these simple tests may be overweight.

    5, 6, & 7. We recommend that you consult your pet’s vet before starting on a weight loss program, which should include these major areas:
  5. Correct Diet
    Overweight animals consume more calories than they require. Work with your veterinarian to determine your pet’s caloric requirements, select a suitable food and calculate how much to feed. The diet should contain a normal level of a moderately fermentable fiber and the type of fat that prevents the skin and coat from deteriorating during weight loss. Diets that dilute calories with high fiber lead to increased stool volumes, frequent urges to defecate and variable decreases in nutrient digestibility.
  6. Exercise
    Increasing physical activity can be a valuable contributor to both weight loss and maintenance. Regular exercise burns more calories, reduces appetite, changes body composition and will increase your pet’s resting metabolic rate.
  7. Owner Behavior Modification
    A successful weight management program requires permanent changes in the behaviors that have allowed the pet to become overweight. Perhaps you are giving your pet too many treats, for example, or not giving him enough opportunities to exercise.
  8. Are you committed to your pet’s weight loss? Here are some important things you can do:
    - Remove the pet from the room when the family eats.
    - Feed your pet several small meals throughout the day.
    - Feed all meals and treats in the pet's bowl only.
    - Reduce snacks or treats.
    - Provide non-food related attention.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

New look

Do you like the new template? Let me know your thoughts/feelings. In the next few months there will be a lot of big changes at The Wet Nose, but in the meantime I wanted to make a few minor, temporary adjustments. What do you think? If you liked the old look more please let me know. My only big concern is I wish "The Wet Nose" was easier to read in the header. I'll see if I can figure out how to change this.

Guest Blogger: The Adventures of Yuppie Puppy & Super (Dog) Mommy

One of my favorite things about being a blogger is making friends with other bloggers! If it wasn't for blogging I never would have [virtually] met Lea Munley, and connected over our absolute infatuation/love of animals, particularly dogs. I have had so much fun reading Lea's creative writings, and have really enjoyed her dog Riley's blog. I'm sure you can identify with what it is like to own a Yuppie Puppy after reading her guest blogging post... I know I sure can! I say this after having bought a new set of ceramic handmade food and water dishes (yes, they even are hand painted with "Food" and "Water")... I'm justifying this purchase because they were 1) At T.J. Maxx 2) Milly's current bowls are a bit too small and she makes a mess when she drinks out of them. Without further ado, I would like to present to you The Adventures of Yuppie Puppy & Super (Dog) Mommy! ENJOY!!! :)

The Adventures of Yuppie Puppy & Super (Dog) Mommy

A specialty pet store?!

Salmon?! I don’t even eat salmon!

Beds made of recycled soda bottles?! For a dog?!

Dog parks that have secret codes to get in?!

Doggy daycare?!

WHO AM I?! What happened to the girl who wore cut off jeans from Goodwill & made tuna mac for dinner? I make fun of suburban moms with their pimp-my-ride, celebrity-crib strollers and organic baby food, toys, & clothes. Herds of women with strollers scare me, frankly!

I am the dog-owner equivalent! Much to my shock, amazement, and now acceptance.

I get up early and take Riley to the dog park. We walk around to the playground and visit with the young moms and their beautiful babies. I chat with the other dog moms and dads about doggy things--behavior, training, food choices, and funny things the dogs do. We all call each other “Fido’s mom/dad” because we don’t know each other’s name. But we know their dog’s names (& life history including health records). Or if there are multiple dogs or children, they are “Fido’s sister/brother”.

Riley & I go on adventures. This means I drive around and discover new neighborhoods while Riley hangs out the window or sleeps. He seems to really like this & it‘s not uncommon for me to keep driving as if he‘s a sleeping baby.

These trips usually end at the super-duper, organic, all-natural, holistic, hard-wood-floored, big-windowed pet store. I always go in for “just 1 thing”; but then there are new treats to try, funny toys to play with, and cute clothes to browse. Usually several dollars more than I intended later, Riley has new treats, a new toy, and a special Turkey Patty for the car. He expects these now!

Riley is Allergy Boy. He’s allergic to chicken, beef, pork, duck, lamb, turkey (we won’t talk about that turkey patty), eggs, wheat, soy, corn, and I’m sure preservatives of all kinds. He needs special food, special treats, hypoallergenic beds, free & clear detergent for bedding, and frequent bathing with special prescription anti-allergen-something-or-another shampoo.

In spite of these issues, Riley almost always gets a doggy treat (usually a veggie bone or doggy frozen yogurt) in the afternoon when I eat lunch--he gets a couple nibbles of this too). I packed a bone for him to have during “quiet time” at doggy daycare. I put his name and when to give it on the bag in Sharpie.

I forgot to give it to him, felt guilty, and gave it immediately when he got in the car at the end of the day.

Dinner is gourmet all-protein, no-grain fish & potato kibble. Said kibble is served in a Break-fast bowl so as to prevent bloat. I’ve added enzyme to his water to make his digestive and urinary systems happier. Once in a while, salmon dust (otherwise known as the end of the bag of freeze-dried, wild-caught salmon pieces that serve as training treats) get sprinkled over his kibble.

Riley loves training time because it means more treats! These treats are often salmon bits. The last box was Pumpkin & Quinoa Crunchies. He’ll do anything for food! He has learned the basic tricks like shake & roll over. He has also learned fun things like backing up, and nodding. This prevents boredom on both of our parts.

This dog has an immense amount of toys, and they are strewn far & wide! These toys are super safe, non-toxic, often all-natural and of course varied & fun. Wouldn’t want the lad to run out of choices!

I travel to pet stores far and wide, always in search of buffalo, venison, salmon or veggie treats & kibble. I seek out different dog parks and neighborhoods so that Riley & I don’t get bored.

I clip his toenails, trim the fur between his pads & whiskers on his face, clean his ears with special anti-whatever solution and brush his teeth. No groomer for him! He freaked out the first time, & I’ve never been back.

We go on road trips together. He’s been to my family’s 30-person Thanksgiving, my old haunts in western Mass, and several hotels. I wish I could bring Riley with me everywhere. I, of course, think he’s perfect and capable of going anywhere. No one agrees with me. But I don’t care.

I love every minute of spoiling my “Yuppie Puppy” speckled mutt & now understand all those super mommies. Right on, ladies!!

Visit Riley’s Dog Blog @

© Lea H. Munley 2009

Back from Vermont

Everything about my trip to Vermont was amazing. The state has been bombarded all spring and summer with rain, but the sun came out and we had beautiful days my entire vacation. The plants are growing like crazy – my parent’s lilies are literally over 6’5” tall! I spoke with a local farmer who said crops are actually really hurting, because the rains have caused a 4-6 week delay in harvesting, and while plants are tall and green, the slow fruit protection is throwing a real curve ball in many locals’ incomes. But the easy going, friendly Vermonters just seemed happy the rain had subsided and the sun was shining.

The water levels in rivers are also insanely high, and all the rain has caused a lot of erosion of dams creating dangerous water conditions in many areas. My very first day of the trip I left Milly with her Polish Lowland Sheepdog (PONS) cousin Minka, her human aunt Amanda and human cousin Cecelia and went tubing with my boyfriend Bill and my brother Drew for a few hours. The river was insane! We hit many rapids, and in one spot Bill was actually stranded on debris in the river, with the cooler caught in rocks. The river was moving way too quickly for Drew and me to stop – we would grab onto low hanging branches that would 1) break off or 2) we’d get a hold of a large branch, only to have our tubes swept out from under us! It took us almost 30 minutes to get down stream to a safe beach to pull off on and wait for Bill. I use the word beach loosely as the place we pulled off on was actually someone’s yard, as their entire beach was submerged in 4’ of water! There were definitely moments where Drew and I were really worried that Bill would lose his tube in his efforts to get back on the river, and to make matters worse, the keys to both Bill and Drew’s cars were in our cooler, which was stranded along with Bill! Despite the rapid filled river and somewhat frightening water conditions, we were able to enjoy our tubing trip, and this is just proof to how relaxed and easy going Vermonters are. The rains have really caused a lot of problems for them, but the river was filled with locals (by filled I mean we passed three sets of people – so nothing like the “filled with tubers” my DC area readers can identify with from tubing excursions) and lots of smiles.

Minka has been great about sharing the house with new baby Cecelia!

If you have never been to Vermont you must go! It is a very dog friendly state, and there are so many wonderful outdoor activities to do with your four-legged friend. With the exception of mud-season, Vermont really makes you want to just get out and walk/hike! In February, Milly and I spent an entire day (with some indoor thawing sessions mixed in) hiking through the deep snow and across the frozen lake. She had a blast! But, she had just as much fun during our recent summer trip! She was able to run across grass filled fields, romp with neighborhood dogs, hike a small mountain and even go for a canoe ride. At one point she decided to apply her selective hearing, stop listening to me and darted to the local resort’s beach to frolic with the children catching minnows and crayfish! It was impossible to be mad at her for not listening when she was clearly having so much fun!

You can really see Milly's age in this photo, but she acted like a young puppy the entire trip! I think there is something very regal and wise about her expression in this shot.

We spent one day running errands in Burlington, a very dog friendly city, and I believe home of one of my favorite bloggers – Life with Dogs (correct me if I’m wrong). If you’ve never been to Burlington there is a lot to do! First, I suggest going to Church Street, a street with traffic blocked off that creates a large walking precinct filled with shops, restaurants, food carts, crafts, musicians and lots of dogs! I stopped counting at 30 dogs. You’ll also want to make sure you at the very least drive by Lake Champlain, but if you can make a day on this should-be Great Lake, I highly recommend it! We then hit up the Girlington Garage (owned by an old family friend), so if you make the trip to VT and have car trouble, this is the garage to go to! When we arrived at the Girlington Garage we were greeted by two adorable, friendly and blissfully happy toy breeds (I know one was a Yorkie, but I’m not sure what the other was). The Girlington Garage is wonderful – the vision is to have a six bay garage with all female auto mechanics, and it is well on the way to being a reality.

I am sure I will fill you in on so much more about my trip, but with out further ado, here are some photos taken by Bill for you to enjoy!

Beautiful sky in Greensboro, VT

Red barns are all over Greensboro, VT

We spent a large chunk of our time on Caspian Lake, here you can see the picturesque water, and the amazing horizon filled with wild-flower filled pastures.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Guest Blogger: Taming the Ankle Biter

Kate Devine and I have known each other for over a decade, and were even roommates the year after we graduated from our respective colleges. Kate has a tiny Chihuahua named Madeline who once was quite the ankle biter (I know first hand, as I lived with little Madeline and Kate for a year). I hope you enjoy this guest blogger post as much as I do. It is so important to train small toy breeds just as well as you would an extremely large breed. All too often people over look important training with toy breeds, because they can simply scoop up their dog and carry it when it misbehaves - this is one of my biggest pet peeves! Toy breeds in particular are very appealing to small children and toddlers because of their petite stature, and as a result it is just as important, if not more so, to have an exceptionally well-trained dog, with no-vices if you own a toy breed.

Taming the Ankle Biter

-Little Miss Madi

We’ve all heard the term “ankle biter,” and I’m sure we all have a pretty good image in our minds of what an ankle biter might look like—a tiny, possibly fluffy, and deceivingly cute little dog. They look so sweet until the yapping and snapping starts. So why are so many tiny dogs ankle biters? And is it possible to have a sweet tiny dog; even a tiny dog who, heavens, LIKES children? The answer is… YES!

Meet Madeline:

4 ½ lbs, tan, tiny, adorably alien looking, and incredibly loving, even with tiny kids

How did a Chihuahua, a breed notorious for cranky bad behavior, turn out so sweet and patient?

The art of socializing a teeny pooch:

Pulling from some psychological attachment theory originally developed to postulate human attachment, I decided when I got this insanely tiny dog two years ago (barely 2 lbs at 10 weeks) to attempt to socialize her as best I could in hopes of her one day becoming a children’s therapy dog for my future psychology practice (or at least in hopes of her being social and safe).

A little quick psych lesson:

Mary Ainsworth, a well-known attachment theorist in the psychology community, theorized that there are three types of attachment: Secure, Ambivalent-Insecure, and Avoidant-Insecure. She tested her theory in her famous experiment entitled “The Strange Situation” in the 1970s (definitely Google worthy if you have some free time). Overall she found that kids with secure attachment are rarely distressed when their parents leave because they are sure their parents will eventually return. They feel sure that they can seek comfort, reassurance and safety with their parents, leading them to feel more comfortable in strange situations. Ambivalent kids are very upset when their parents leave and generally feel like they can’t depend on their parents to be there when they need them for safety, reassurance, etc. Avoidant kids tend to avoid their parents altogether, which could be the result of a lack of care and possibly even a sense of punishment when they seek help or reassurance.

Who’s to say dogs don’t feel this way too? We’ve all seen pets that freak out when their caregiver leaves, who become overwhelmingly excited when their caregiver returns, or who frankly couldn’t care less if their caregiver disappeared. We’ve all also seen pets who are happy to make friends with people and other animals, and who gladly return to their owner when called. We also know that scared dogs are dangerous dogs.

Now I’m sure there are human and animal exceptions to this theory, but it’s worth a shot, right? So my aim was to have a securely attached and happy little Chihuahua who breaks the stereotype of the traditional tiny ankle biter. The day I got her I put her in her car carrier and took her to my mom’s office, letting every employee hold her and play with her. When I got her home I took her to coffee shops and tied her to my chair, letting everyone who wanted to, even tiny toddlers, come up and pet her, pull her ears and her tail (not violently though, and always under my watchful eye). I introduced her to all sizes of dogs, and she actually grew up with a very sweet-tempered golden retriever approximately 40 times her size. She got to play by herself during the day when I wasn’t home, but got to sleep right next to my bed at night, and then in my bed with me when she was “big” enough and not quite so fragile. She walked on a leash instead of being carried everywhere and generally learned to fend for herself, but also learned that mommy would come to her rescue if her giant buddy got too rough or if she got scared.

The results of this socializing were clear last Thanksgiving when my cousin’s 18 month old son immediately grabbed her leash and dragged her around the house and yard all day (which worked surprisingly well to teach her to follow her leash-holder). Not only did she follow that toddler everywhere, allowing him to tug her leash, her tail, and her ears, she would jump up and lick his little face every time he fell down. The final proof came when, at the end of the day, exhausted and napping in her car carrier, the toddler decided it was time to play again and. With no adults within an arm’s reach, but with all of us watching in shock, the toddler reached into Madi’s carrier, grabbed her by her nose, and pulled her out of her lovely sleep and safe haven. I think even I might have snapped at that point, but Little Miss Madi peeped open her adorably gigantic eyes, yawned, and licked that little boys hands, letting the games begin again.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Guest Blogger: Bissell Revolution Lift-Off Pet Hair Vacuum

Enjoy this wonderful guest blogger post by Anndy, and perhaps you too will want this vacuum! I know with all of Milly's hair in our house I'm dying to get one of these! Great product review!!! :)

Bissell Revolution Lift-Off Pet Hair Vacuum

One of the many joys of getting married is making a list of presents for people to give you. This does seem incredibly self centered, but I have to say it’s really nice when you are on the receiving end of it. My absolute favorite item on our Lowes gift registry was a Bissell Revolution Lift-Off Pet Hair Vacuum. With two big dogs (an Australian cattle dog and a black lab mix) living in a very small house, the pet hair adds up dramatically in a short amount of time. I had never been able to afford a nice vacuum to deal with all of the hair accumulation so I was really happy when my husband’s fellow teachers all chipped in and bought us our vacuum. This product is amazing.

We are currently living in a rental house with wall to wall carpeting. I am not a fan of carpet. I much prefer hard wood floors with a few throw rugs on top. I also really hated vacuuming with a bad model because it just took so long, even in our tiny house. Since we got the Bissell, I must say that my attitude towards vacuuming has definitely changed! Vacuuming takes half the time it used to. The brush feature of the vacuum gets up every bit of hair. Our cattle dog has fairly long hair and the lab mix has short hair and all if it gets vacuumed up. Every time I vacuum, the hair and dust builds up in the container (which either means my house is truly disgusting most of the time or the vacuum really works…or maybe both!) It’s so easy to clean out. The canister that catches the hair and dirt just lifts out and you can dump it in the trash. No bags are necessary. There is a light on the body of the machine that lights up when the filter needs to be cleaned. I haven’t had this happen yet and the vacuum has been used quite a bit.

The only probably I have with the vacuums is that long hair (which I have and I almost shed as badly as the dogs do) and string or whatever else is on the floor gets wrapped around the rotating brush of the vacuum. I don’t think there is anything that can be done about this though, and it is easy to clean out. I have also heard some bad things about Bissells. Some friends of mine have said that they don’t last very long. Since we’ve only had ours a couple of months, I can’t comment on that personally. I do think that this vacuum is great and I highly recommend it to anyone with pets, long or short haired.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Guest Blogger: Rachel & Hershey

I wanted to share a guest blogger post written by my dear friend Rachel. She was one of my very first blog followers, and it is so much fun having a local friend with a retriever too! I've dog sat Hershey, and she is just an amazing, spunky, dog that is still in that seems like forever Labrador puppy stage! I hope you enjoy reading her post!

I was asked to guest blog and I didn’t know exactly what to write about. I have learned so much from reading all of the posts and knew that I wouldn’t be able to provide such an informative, helpful post. Instead, I am going to share with you my dog, Hershey, and what I have taken away from the blog to help with Hershey.

First, let me introduce you to my pride and joy, Hershey! Hershey will be one years old on August 20th. I first met Hershey while I was visiting my family in Idaho for Thanksgiving last year. My cousin had bought her for $50 outside of a grocery store, so we don’t know too much about her. Obviously she has some Lab in her and we are guessing she is part German Short-Haired Pointer as well. I loved her instantly and my cousin said I could have her if I wanted. After a brief discussion with Dave, I agreed to take her and arrangements were made to have her flown out to Maryland the day after we moved into our new house, December 31st, 2008. I have been working on training her since we got her and will go over our progress to date.

Luckily for us, Hershey was practically housebroken and only needed some reinforcement to end that stage of puppyhood. Additionally, she knew to sit when told. I have her now trained to sit when I snap. To train her for this, every time I told her to sit I would snap my left hand and raise it slightly. She will now sit whenever I snap; ultimately I want to get her to sit when I just raise my left hand up. Occasionally I still need to verbally tell her to sit, but I highly recommend training your dog non-verbal commands. It was very easy for me to do and she picked up on it rather quickly.

Since her previous home was in the country, she was HORRIBLE on a leash. She just didn’t get it at all. We started off with retractable leash, a body harness, and a typical lead. We found that the harness resulted in less pulling. I think Hershey felt we had more control over her (which we did) and that resulted in less pulling. Key word is less. She still pulled quite a bit. After reading Lydia’s post on training your dog to walk properly, I decided to stop using the retractable leash and the harness. I took Hershey out for a walk on the lead and when she started to pull I used the “Lose it” method. I immediately yelled “no pull!” and lightly slapped the leash on her back. This may seem extreme, but it got her attention. After doing that a few times, she stopped pulling whenever I said “no pull!” Because I believe in positive reinforcement as well, whenever she was walking next to me and not pulling I would tell her what a good girl she was being and pet her occasionally. We had a few more walks where I was constantly saying “no pull” but it eventually sank in and we can now walk without pulling. Occasionally I still need to remind her with the “no pull” command, but things are MUCH better than before. We still have the occasional pulling when she spots something to chase, but she is learning that chasing is for when she is at the park and not on the leash.

Speaking of chasing and the park, Hershey has a lot of energy. Though we have a yard and she is not crated during the day, she still needs to go to the park to run and get some energy out. Annapolis has an excellent dog park at Quiet Waters. In addition to the fenced dog park, it has a dog beach for them to swim, but the beach area is not fenced in. This park has a $5 daily admission fee or a yearly pass for $30. We go there a few times a week and love it. For the days I don’t feel like driving there, I take Hershey for a run or go to the school down the street. We are so fortunate the Annapolis is such a dog friendly town!

Chewing. Puppies love to chew. Especially Labs. From day one I knew that this may be a huge issue for us. I didn’t want to set Hershey up for failure, so I purchased a lot of toys and continue to purchase new ones frequently. I figured if she had things of her own, with a little reinforcement, she would leave our stuff alone. Though there have been some instances where she has chewed our stuff, I stand behind this method. Hershey LOVES her toys. We have an excessive amount I am sure (well over 30), but she loves them and plays with them daily. Without them I think we would have had a lot more damage done to our stuff and the house. We have not had a problem with her chewing the wrong thing in the last couple of months and I am hoping we have conquered this (knock on wood). When she did chew something she shouldn’t have, I would show it to her, lightly tap her butt and yell, “No!! Bad girl!!!” Most time she would walk/run away and then crawl over to me and want to sit in my lap and give kisses to apologize. It didn’t take her long to learn the word “bad” and I can now apply it to other situations besides chewing with no physical correction.

A few days ago I decided it was time to teach Hershey to lay down on command. My verbal command for this is “down” and I move my right hand down towards the floor. To begin the training, I did my combo command and had to physically make her lay on the floor. Once she was down I repeated “down” and praised her. After three or four times of that, she got the point and would lay down on command. I plan on working on this every evening for 30 minutes for the next few weeks until she really gets it. I eventually want her to lay down when I lower my right hand, so this will take a lot of time.

We are very fortunate that Hershey aims to please us and has trained pretty easily. She is truly a joy to be around and I can’t imagine not having her. She loves to play and be active, but yet other times she is content to cuddle up with us on the couch or bed. Since she is such a lovable, fun dog and loves to get out of the house and meet other dogs and people, we are going to join the Pets on Wheels Volunteer Program in Annapolis. After I attend orientation in September, we will visit residents in long-term care facilities or the hospital. I cannot wait to start that with her. Not only will we be giving back to the community, but I think Hershey will enjoy it as well.

I cannot end this post without mentioning the Furminator. I absolutely LOVE this grooming tool and am so grateful that Lydia posted about it. Hershey’s coat isn’t too thick and she doesn’t shed that much, but this brush has definitely helped with what she did have. She did not love being brushed at first, so we started slowly and gave lot so praise and some treats. Though she doesn’t love it yet, she will let me brush her without running away. I have passed along the Furminator tip to others as well who find it amazing. If you missed her post on it, click here. I highly recommend it as well!