National Puppy Day

In honor of today, March 23, National Puppy Day, I thought that it was a great time to go over the basic needs of a puppy. As a new owner, your responsibilities may not be as clear to you as they should be, maybe you researched the size and type of dog that would fit in with you and your family, maybe you thought out the long term arrangements like budget and whether your home was stable enough for a dog, or maybe you were just overcome by the desire for a furry companion and you acted on impulse. Either way, you are now the proud owner of a new dog (puppy or adult) and your life just got a whole lot better, but it also just got a little more complicated as well. I hope you adopted a rescue dog or puppy, if not I hope you purchased your dog from a reputable breeder, whatever you do, please never by a dog from a store supplied by puppy mills.

So to help keep you and your new family member on the right track let’s review the basic  “Rights of a dog”

Good food- Try to be smart about the ingredients in your dogs food and if you do indeed have a puppy, make sure your food is age appropriate and that you can feed on the right schedule for your dog’s age.

Playing and socializing- Be present for your pet, in the first days and for always, they need to be a part of a pack; to feel valued and loved. To have interaction with you while playing is valuable as exercise and as socialization as well as training. If you are getting a dog to tie up in the back yard and forget about, PLEASE DO NOT GET A DOG.

Rest- make sure you puppy has time to sleep; a lot of younger children want the new dog’s attention and they have no idea that it needs to rest and have some quiet time to itself. A pet cave area or a crate with a comfy dog crate bed are great options for your dog’s “me” place.

Training and a “job”- Train your dog consistently and with gentleness and patience, you’ll be rewarded with an awesome family member. Give them a “job”; agility, playing fetch, finding lost toys, obedience training. All of these are excellent examples of showing your dog that they have value in your life and there are so many other ways to find them a job to do.

Veterinary care- A must do within the first week of ownership is a trip to the vet. Whether your dog is a rescue or a puppy from a reputable breeder, you MUST see your vet within the first week and then keep your scheduled appointments throughout the year. This is one of those planning things I mentioned earlier; be prepared for all of the costs, monetary and time wise, before you accept the responsibility of pet ownership.

And lastly; enjoy! You are now a part of the best pack ever, the family pack.

Rhylee with a friend

Spring Water Danger for Dogs

So it’s almost spring or, it already is, depending on where you live. Additionally, like those of us in the northwest, it’s spring as we know it. And while that means more fun; more walks, agility OUTSIDE (woohoo), trail rides, dog soccer etc. it also means some increase in dangerous conditions. For my area, that means melting snow making rivers much, much faster with enough ice still around them to make them even more dangerous.

Many of us are well aware of the danger of frozen water; who hasn’t seen the news stories with the daring rescues or devastating losses of life, both animal and human? Only last year, a young woman from our area lost her life when she jumped in a rushing, springtime river to rescue her dog. The dog died as well, and I know full well, that even though I’m armed with all the facts and water rescue trained from my job on the fire department, I would jump in to save my dogs too. Kind of a bad thing all around, so what can we do?

Well I would have to say that prevention is the key action here; for all the training or swimming ability one might have, our best bet is to keep our dogs from getting into danger in the first place. You need to know your area, you have to have sufficiently trained your dogs and you need to be aware of the conditions near you at all times.

While we usually know our “spot” where we walk or hike with our dogs, we can also get a little complacent, especially if it’s an after work walk or you’re in a rush. Situational awareness is something we firefighters are always trying to maintain, but everyone can benefit from it; keep aware, read up on weather alerts, water levels and just pay attention.

The training issue is another matter entirely. I could, (and will, some other time), go on and on about how a trained dog is happier, has a better life and has happier owners. However, for the purpose of this article, let me just say that at the very least, a recall command is the simplest lifesavers around, literally. One of my training trademarks is the “this way” command. Accompanied with a wave of the arm, it’s such an easy command and can teach dogs to dramatically alter their course; sometimes all they need to stay out of trouble. “This way” is not a substitute for a recall command, but instead a quick alternative. It’s also very beneficial because when you’re teaching it, it’s incorporated into a fun activity; as in “hey, lets go up this path” or “look, I’m throwing a ball for you” vs. being put back on the leash (not always super enticing).

One more, oft repeated word; know your dog CPR.  To find a class near you, ask your vet or go to  or any of the great site you can Google Any way you look at it, for us to stay safe and keep our pets safe, we need to take a little time to focus on safety, not just

cute dog accessories, dog treats and the latest toys. Have a happy spring day!


How Dogs Work (people too)

snowplayThere’s something funny that I’ve noticed about dogs and humans; some just float through life, others need to take charge. I’m not kidding, I mean I’m sure you know people like that but have you ever noticed those traits in your pets? I have, Rhylee my Border Collie/Heeler mix is the master of The Reigning in of the Unruly; whether it’s rowdy retrievers, furniture scratching cats or barking barn corgis (you thought I was going for the alliteration awards didn’t you)? Rhylee just can’t tolerate unruliness.

Juno, on the other hand, (the puppy) takes life a little easier, actually, a lot easier. For instance, “commands” (I’m pretty sure she thinks of them in quotes) are really just suggestions; she’ll absolutely obey them, however the time frame in which she does so might not be what the human had originally planned. She’s more of a happy-go-lucky type. Now, as the youngest of three sisters and the designated “free spirit” in terms of rule abiding , I must take a moment and apologize to my family-sorry!

As an example, when I walk with my dear friend Karly and her two Golden Retrievers, Rhylee feels the need to break up their rambunctious plays fights in his true herding dog style; he heels them. Juno will then go up to one of the recently chastised offenders and start the whole thing up again with a few playful nibbles and yaps, you see where I’m going with this right?

I was tossing a Frisbee around the other day for both of my dear pets and took a minute to hold Rhylee so Juno could catch it a few times. I have to do this because she is a lot smaller and (passive-aggressively) the submissive one. As much as Juno obviously enjoys this game, she doesn’t always manage to return the toy to me, so I end up cajoling her to “bring it here”. Well, Rhylee is waiting somewhat patiently in the car for us and he finally couldn’t take it anymore. He jumped out, ran up to Juno, grabbed the Frisbee and pulled her and the toy into the car for me.

Then he put himself in his favorite driving spot on his car pet bed and gave me the “ready to go” look.