Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend: Milly's Trip

Word on the street is Milly had a great time at Kitty Hawk. With the exception of an upset tummy on day one, she was happy as a clam, and active the whole time. I still haven't seen her yet, but here are some of the pictures from her trip! Aren't you jealous?? I wish I could go to the OBX!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Trolling Dogs

About a month ago I received an email from a guy I am sort of seeing (it's not very serious). Anyways, the subject of said email was, "This is what I do to your dogs" and in the body of the email was this video. A week later, this video was all over the internet, so you may have seen it, but if not, here you go. This guy, quite the jokester, loves to get a rise out of people, and that is true with my dogs, as well. He will wave their toys in the air and encourage them to prance about and bark, there is just constant fun and lighthearted play whenever he comes around. Last time he came over he put their favorite toys in their food bowls... needless to say, they started salivating as soon as they saw the stainless steel bowls, and were confused, but still happy when they realized there was no food in them, but instead stuffed animal ducks and elephants.

And yes, if my dogs could talk, I would not be surprised if they had this conversation with him!

If you haven't checked out the "making of" this video, it's pretty cool. This is such an expressive dog!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Milly's Beach Getaway (without moi)...

I’ve often joked that my dogs live better than I do, and I now think this is actually true! Milly has a surprise in store for her this weekend – a trip to Kitty Hawk! I am green with envy that she’ll be spending the weekend on the beach, playing in the surf and sand, and having attention fawned on her, while I’ll be in sticky, hot, old DC.

As you know, I sometimes let my ex-boyfriend keep Milly for anywhere from a couple of days to a few weeks at a time. Whenever he has her I use the time to focus on organizing my life, and training Hush. Two dogs can be a lot of work at times, especially while living in a small apartment, working full time, and trying to maintain a social life in a bustling city as a single 26-year old with a tendency of over-committing herself. Add into the mix that one of those dogs is in heat, and training to be a show dog, and sometimes it’s enough to make me want to rip my hair out. Of course, I adore my dogs, and I would not trade them for the world, but there are moments where it is stressful trying to manage everything.

Each year my friend Tina, you might remember her from some posts about apple picking, or know her from Love, Tina Marie, organizes a trip to the Outer Banks over Memorial Day Weekend. My ex and I have many of the same friends, and Tina is one of the many friends we share. The OBX trip is always planned many, many, many months in advance, and when the invitations went out I was not sure what sort of terms I would be on with my ex, he RSVP’d first, so I opted out. Next year, however, I plan on going on the trip! :)

When I got a gchat from the ex today asking if he could see Milly for an afternoon or a couple of days, I said sure. He asked when he could see her, and I told him I’d have to figure it out. Then, he asked if she could go to Kitty Hawk this weekend. Well, I couldn’t think of a single reason why I should say no. She’ll get exercise, she loves the beach, and everyone going on the trip loves her. Of course, I couldn’t make it that easy for my ex, so I promised he could take her with him under one condition… he return her with some wonderful portraits of her at the beach. The ex is a great photographer, and he was happy to oblige with my terms. So, tonight I’ll be packing Milly’s beach bag, and he’ll pick her up tomorrow night, then at noon on Friday they’ll hit the road.

Of course, I sure do wish I had some fun locale to escape to for the weekend. Oh the irony, my Golden Retriever lives and vacations better than I do.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Animal Lovers and Animal Haters

For the most part, I have found the people I hold dearest to my heart share my love of animals. While I don’t expect them to be as animal obsessed as I am, I tend to be attracted to those who also love and respect animals, whether or not they own them themselves. When I tried eHarmony for a few months, I would only respond to “matches” that also loved animals. In fact, one seemed like Mr. Right (or as right as you can seem on an online dating profile), but when he responded to my short answers saying he is okay with pets if they sleep outside… I immediately deleted him, and muttered under my breath he might be a serial killer in the making. Perhaps I was a bit cynical about dating at that point in time.

I often joke that a person who doesn’t like animals is a person I don’t want to be friends with, and is probably heartless. Okay, extreme, I know. To me, the love and compassion a person displays for animals is often reflected in the love and compassion they display for humans. With all this in mind, I was shocked my freshman year of college when I found myself befriending a girl who absolutely hates animals. Okay, she likes to go to the zoo, and enjoys animals in cages, and she likes horses (if she doesn’t have to go near them and can watch them from a distance). This friend, we’ll call her A, absolutely despises animals, though. She sees pictures of cute, cuddly kittens and she talks about how gross they are. She sees a little puppy, and mutters how ugly it is, or how it is football shaped. I’ll never forget when I first learned of her hatred of animals, taking a walk around campus, we strolled passed faculty housing and a professor’s pet cat walked in front of us… A took off running and screaming. But, despite her hatred of animals, she is the most selfless, loving, kind-hearted person, and has the best sense of humor ever! We quickly realized we were incredible friends, and she would laugh at my love of animals, while I would make fun of her hatred of animals. This is the girl who will order a steak and joke, “I eat animals, because I hate them.” This is also the girl who the only negative thing I have ever heard someone gossip behind her back about was, “Ugh, I hate how A always has nice things to say and finds something to compliment everyone on.” I wish that was the worst thing someone would say behind my back.

A while ago, A changed her Facebook profile picture to this. Please note, in posting this, I do not condone animal abuse. Please also note, that while A hates animals and never wants to have a pet, she too, would never condone hurting them in anyway. In the same way that I am conservative politically, and still laugh as Tina Fey says, “I can see Russia from my house,” I find humor in this... especially in the context that I came to see it… posted as my dear friend’s Facebook profile picture on my newsfeed.

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Milly and Hush Update

I wanted to give you a few quick updates on the pups. First, Hush is in season. This is her first heat cycle, and so far we’re doing well. She went into season on Monday, May 16, 2011 (putting that on the blog, as I’m sure I’ll have to refer back to it at some point!). I had a feeling this was approaching, I’ve blogged about it in the past, but last week there were more and more symptoms. First, when grooming her she transformed from sweet puppy into common street walker when the high powered dog dryer came near her tail. Second, while drying her after her bath I noticed a smell – not an infection smell, or a dirty smell, just a distinct musky odor. So, it was no surprise on Monday when I saw some blood on her fur. All of the signs are there – bleeding, swollen vulva, enlarged nipples, change in personality, interest in other dogs, etc. Now, I have the joyous task of keeping her away from males for the next 4 weeks, and making sure she doesn’t leave blood on my white carpeting. Did you know that even neutered males still try to mate females when they are in heat? I didn’t. They can even get tied like an intact male would during breeding, crazy, isn’t it? So, it’s just us girls for the next month. Mind you, since males can smell her from up to 6 miles away, we have to be insanely careful in everything we do. To be extra safe, I keep a diaper on her when outdoors. And of course, she is always on a leash.

Milly is scheduled for her semi-annual senior exam today. I always get a little nervous, since the later years in life are so critical for preventative care. Milly is 11ish, and it might be time to make her 12, and in great health and extremely fit and active. But, I won’t feel at ease until all of her blood panels come back after today’s exam. I worry. I noticed what I think might be tape worms in both dogs’ stools two weeks ago, and so we’ll also be doing stool samples on them. Neither dog has fleas, but they did get into a few dead animals, which is another way to contract tape worms. I am confident in the ophthalmologist I have been using with Hush, but because the specialist is out of town, I’m going to let my general vet take a look at Hush’s eyes to see if we can put her on something until our next ophthalmologist appointment.

Finally, this weekend I will be going to the dog shows in Manassas, VA to watch. While there, I will be meeting with a very well-known dog show handler to discuss Hush. I have decided, while I do want to do some showing with her myself, I feel I need to improve more in my handling abilities before taking her in the ring. I want her first few times to be very positive, and a professional can guarantee that. He will be doing an informal evaluation of Hush, and if he deems her show quality, which we know she is, we’ll then discuss a schedule. Because of her age, she isn’t likely to win that much at this point in the game, so we will be very selective in what shows we enter her in. This handler lives about 2.5 hours from me, so relatively close, and Hush will be boarded with him and his wife (also a well-known handler) leading up to any shows for training and conditioning.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

One Product To Always Have On Hand

There are a few items all dog owners should always have in-stock, and one of them is Benadryl. While I am not a veterinarian, I have found this to be very handy. Of course, with any medication, consult your vet before giving it. While Benadryl is not approved by the FDA for use in dogs and cats, it is commonly accepted by the veterinary community.

The type of Benadryl I use is the regular old normal kind, the original hot pink tablets. Generic works just fine, too. I keep it handy for all sorts of allergic reactions that may crop up from general itchiness to insect bites and bee stings, and you can also use it for travel anxiety and coughs. As far as dosage goes, my veterinarian recommends one 25mg pill for every 25 pounds. This is a higher dosage than a human would take, and my vet has said up to 4-pills can be given to my dogs per day, but make sure to evenly space it with 2 pills in the AM and 2 pills in the PM – my dogs weigh 50 and 58lbs.

Of course, there are things to watch out for. Never give a pregnant or nursing dog Benadryl. Also, do not use Benadryl in animals that are allergic to it or other antihistamines. Do not use in animals with glaucoma, prostate disease, urinary obstruction, and high blood pressure. Do not use in pregnant or nursing animals. Use with caution when given with other CNS (central nervous system)-depressant drugs such as tranquilizers or barbiturates. Always tell your veterinarian and pharmacist what other medications your pet is taking. To learn more about Benadryl and dogs, talk to your veterinarian, also, this 1-800-Pet-Meds page has some good info.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Eye Exam

I’ve been so busy lately that I rarely have time to post. A few months ago Hush had an encounter with an insect on a hike and her face swelled up like a balloon. It was incredibly scary, and the normal Benedryl routine did not work. Her face continued to swell, her lips were so puffy I measured them at 1.5 inches wide, and we rushed to the vet.

That afternoon, I had taken Hush and Milly on a short hike in the woods at lunch, as I do almost every day. After our hour long wooded jaunt, I gave her water, brushed her coat, and put her back in her crate and returned to my office. When I came home after work, about 2 hours later, I noticed her eyes seemed red and funny looking, almost droopy. I gave her Benedryl, and kept an eye on her, but when I noticed she was getting much worse and her face was rapidly swelling I headed to the vet. At the vet, I was told it was a good thing I brought Hush in, because if the swelling had continued her airway may have become obstructed. The vet gave her more a Benedryl injection, some steroids, and sent us home with instructions to give her Benedryl (2 pills x2 daily for one week). The swelling immediately went down. Within two days the only trace of the reaction was her red and droopy eyes.

Fast forward a few weeks, and the eyes still had not cleared up. Because Hush is a show dog, and I plan on breeding her at some point (after she has passed her clearances), I did not want to mess around with vision and made an appointment with a veterinary ophthalmologist. She had a complete eye exam – they dilated her eyes and examined them just like a human retina specialist would – and was given a clean bill of health. Her eye problem is a non-contagious form of conjunctivitis, and not at all serious. Hush was prescribed a month of eye drops, and we left the vet relieved this was not a major health problem. The vet assured me this will in no way hurt Hush's vision, thank heavens!

Well, that was 6 weeks ago, and her eyes have not changed at all. So, it is time to head back to the ophthalmologist. Unfortunately, she is out of town for the next few weeks so we won’t be seen until June 2nd, and now I need to decide if I should take her to a regular vet in the meantime, or just wait it out. I’m eager to get this taken care of, first off, because conjunctivitis can’t be comfortable, though Hush doesn’t seem to notice. And secondly, the red droopy eyes are unattractive, so our dog showing is on-hold until this has cleared up.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Until Death Do Us Bark!

Invitations and Save the Dates are an excellent way to incorporate your love of animals into your wedding. Whether you want a silhouette of the entire wedding party, canines included, or an artful montage of your life and your pets - there are classy and unique ways to make it work.

I love the idea of the silhouette here. You could take this a step further and have place card holders include silhouettes of all of your pets! I like when people carry a theme throughout the wedding, so this could easily be done on numerous levels.

There are all sorts of great things on Etsy, like this floral Golden Retriever made by Pop Dog Press. To carry the theme of the silhouette you could include something like this at the wedding. This would look very cute on place card holders, and you could name the tables after childhood pets of you and your spouse. I was at a wedding where many of the tables were named after horses the bride owned growing up, and it really gave the wedding a very special touch!

A more detailed wedding invitation including dogs is this one. There are elements to this I really enjoy, and elements I am not as much of a fan of. I do love the details though, the glitter I could do with out. The facial details on the dogs are simply amazing, however! This would be great for a small garden wedding or a wedding at your house! If I used this, I would pair it with place card holders cut out in the shapes of leaves, or use large purple flowers in my center pieces.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Heroic Dog Used in Bin Laden Compound Raid

With Bin Laden's death, many people are praising the brave Navy Seals who risked their lives for our freedom. But, it's important not to forget the brave canines who took part in this historical event.

I encourage you all to read this incredible article about a Military Dog used in the Bin Laden compound raid. If I wear a Seal, I'd be proud to have this dog serving alongside me! The respect and trust he shares with his handlers is incredible!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Let's Eat Cake!

I have seen so many different wedding cakes. From extremely formal, to a fake cake (one slice was real, and there was sheet cake in the back that was served – this saved the couple a small fortune, and no one knew the “wedding cake” was faux), cupcakes, ice cream sundaes, and every traditional tiered cake you can think of in between.

Cakes are a great way to include your love of animals in your wedding. I love the wire crafted cake toppers found on Etsy, and they can be personalized with your dog’s breed, and all sorts of activities. While I’ve never attended a wedding that used the dog cake topper, I have attended a wedding with a wire cake topper signifying a different activity the couple enjoyed.

Has the bride been a bridezilla leading up to the ceremony? While it might lead to a cake in the face, the groom can show how he has felt about wedding planning by surprising her and guests with this cake topper! I’m sure many men feel more like the dog on a short leash, than the groom in the middle of wedding planning!

Cake topper possibilities are endless! There are those with sculpted dogs, like these.

Or, if you compete with your dog, why not use one of your silver bowls or trophies as the wedding cake topper? You could fill it with flowers. I have seen this with antique silver bowls. Many trophies I have been awarded through showing horses are Mint Julep cups, and wouldn't one displayed on top of the cake look very nice? I know many dog shows also award Mint Julep cups as trophies!

A grooms cake would be another great way to display a love for dogs. Of course, if you want to get graphic you could have a dog shaped red-velvet cake, much like the armadillo cake in Steel Magnolias!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Wedding Favors Have Gone to the Dogs!

Wedding favors are sometimes big hits, and sometimes big misses. Right now, Koozies are really in with the 20-something crowd as a wedding favor. Also in are wine and or champagne glasses. The beauty of koozies and wine glasses is they can be personalized with any logo or artwork the couple wants used to commemorate their special day. It would be very easy to have a sketch of the couple and their dog printed or etched on the koozie or glass.

The drawback to stemware as a wedding favor is out-of-town guests may have a hard time flying home with it. As a result, some guests may take more than their share of favors, while others, who may have really enjoyed the wine glasses if they were not flying, must leave them behind. An alternative would be a wine charm. These are great because they can be used during the reception, and then simply removed from the glass and taken home as a memento. While companies do make them, finding dog charms in bulk is easy, and this could be a great do-it-yourself project to save money!

When I attended Annie’s wedding they gave guests hand-painted wooden coasters. They are absolutely beautiful, and I use mine daily. While hers were not dog related, if you have an artist in the family, something similar would be easy to make! I saw these coasters in a dog boutique recently, and thought they just looked so happy!

Dog breed gourmet lollipops are also a neat and fun favor.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Wedding Bells

Love is in the air right now! With the Royal Wedding having just taken place, girls (and even some guys) are chatting about what they want, what’s in, what works, and what really doesn’t. It’s wedding season! I'm 26, and will admit a large portion of my savings and nearly all of my vacation time goes to weddings and events related to weddings, I've become a bridesmaid guru! I must admit, I was really hoping to see the Queen with her corgis at some wedding related event, obviously not the wedding or reception, but perhaps even a stroll with the happy couple and her pack of corgis would've just made my heart melt!

Source: Google Images

This scene from You’ve Got Mail is one of the sweetest dog romance scenes (Embedding is disabled on it, so use the link). Of course, being a romantic comedy, would this ever really happen? No. Brinkley would probably be stopped, and Tom Hanks reprimanded or ticketed, for disobeying leash laws.

Source: AllMoviePhoto.com

And of course, who doesn’t immediately think of Meet the Parents and Jinxy the cat when it comes to pets and weddings? But, the odds of me marrying Prince Harry are pretty slim, too, so here’s to our romantic dreams.

Image source: Google Images

I’ve been asked a lot about including your favorite pets in your wedding. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it goes terribly wrong. Ultimately, whenever you add a new element to your wedding that is one more thing to plan and coordinate, so keep that in mind!

Phoenix Bride and Groom did a blog post in January on pets and weddings, and anyone considering it should read this post. In the post, the author speaks with Heidi Ganahl, CEO and Founder of Camp Bow Wow and Home Buddies by Camp Bow Wow. Animal expert Heidi had this to say about the pros and cons of including your canine in your wedding:

The image of Fido walking down the aisle as a ring bearer is a memorable occasion for pet lovers. Before proceeding, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of having your pet at your wedding. Unfortunately, very few religious and indoor venues will allow dogs on location other than service animals. If you are open to an outdoor wedding, including your pet is more realistic.

Additionally, it is important to consider your pet’s personality. If you have a free-spirited animal, he may not abide to walk down the aisle on his own. Also, be cautious of guests with pet allergies; warn them in advance that your dog will be attending.

However, the benefits are endless. Since proud pet owners consider their dog as part of the family, Fido’s attendance will add a special touch to your day.

With lots of training, socialization, practice, coordination and planning, and rehearsals a pet can be a part of your wedding. Carrie Underwood used her dog as her ring bearer! Some tips to make it run smoothly: make sure there is a safe quiet place for your pet to go should he or she get stage fright. As we know from holidays, people food is not usually good for dogs to eat, so make sure there is some dog-friendly cuisine at the wedding, and plenty of water. Also, instruct guests not to feed Fido if he will be off-leash at the reception. As for allergies, a well groomed dog groomed dog is rarely a problem for allergy sufferers. With most breeds (there are exceptions) it is completely safe, and actually healthy for the coat, to be bathed and blown dry 1-2 times a week – if you bathe this frequently, make sure to use a high quality dog shampoo. This, paired with daily brushing will drastically cut back on allergens.

Image source: Google Images

But, if you don’t feel up to the planning and coordinating including pets in a wedding takes here are some great ideas. Include your beloved pets in your bridal portraits or engagement photos. You can display these at the ceremony. Is your dog a major part of your relationship? Why not showcase this with a customized cake topper? Your save the dates or invitations could even include your love of animals. If you have a send-off brunch the morning after the wedding, and it is at someone’s house, this would be a great time to bring the dogs! Look for more ways of incorporating your dog into your big day in my upcoming posts!