Senior Pets are Easy to Love!


senior pets


Every time I look at the adoption photos for our local shelter I see at least 2 or 3 senior dogs up for adoption.

They’re at the shelter for a lot of reasons: sometimes their owners have passed away, which is tragic of course, but not nearly as tragic as the ones who’ve been abandoned or surrendered to the shelter. I can’t imagine the pain that a family or individual must feel when their circumstances are so horribly altered that they have to give up a member of their family. I know we can easily judge someone in this position, but I’m sure that most of them are at their wit’s end. Yes, there are those people who should never own a pet and just give one up because they’re moving somewhere that pets aren’t allowed, and don’t even get me started on people who just abandon their animals on the street or even locked up in a house.  Jail is too good for them.

However, November is adopt a senior pet month and I would challenge anyone who loves pets to make room in their hearts and home for a senior pet. They’re awesome for anyone who isn’t as active as they used to be as well as a great companion for someone who should maybe get out a little more often. I’ve seen the amazing change that an easier to care for senior pet has made in the life of many a senior person; it’s astounding how they can lift a mild depression and bring light into someone’s life, cat and dog people alike.

Of course, you have to be willing to visit the vet regularly and make some little changes to ease some aches and pains; sometimes a lifted feed and water bowl and a soothing orthopedic dog bed are all they’ll need to make everyday a little brighter for both of you.

Adopt a senior pet this month and enjoy the best Thanksgiving ever!






Safe Dog Treats


In light of the recent national attention to the problem of toxic dog treats,  (discussed in this blog well over a year ago), we though it would be beneficial to review some of the issues surrounding pet product safety.

The first thing that you need to be aware of is that while the FDA does regulate all animal foods, their regulation only goes so far as to require that all animal foods, like human foods, be safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances, and be truthfully labeled. They regulate labeling which includes weight, ingredients and name & place of business of the manufacturer OR the distributer. Note that the country of origin isn’t included. Also note that they have no requirements that the food products have pre-market approval, they consider some foods to be assumed safe (like meat, poultry and grains) and others are considered G.R.A.S. (generally recognized as safe), such as vitamins, minerals etc.

What does this mean to you as a pet owner? It means that you have to be diligent in picking out treats for your dog or cat, it means that you need to be aware of recalls and country of origin and, as if that’s not enough, you also need to monitor your pets while they’re enjoying those treats.

Just take a look at the list of treat manufacturers finally released to the public. This list contains the brands that are suspected in the illnesses and deaths of over 1,000 pets and they al have one thing in common; they were all made in China.

Waggin Train, Canyon Creek Ranch, Dogswell, Hartz, Snausages, Booda Bones, Aspen Pet, Milo’s Kitchen, American Kennel Club, Dingo’s, Beefeaters, Cadet, Sargents, Ever Pet (Dollar General), Home pet 360, Walgreen’s Simple, The Kingdom’s Pets, Benefuk, Beggin Strips, Pupperoni and Canine Carryout.

A lot of those names look familiar don’t they? They’re brands you may have used for years.

So, what can you do?

  1. Read the label. If it doesn’t clearly state “a product of the USA” or “Made entirely with ingredients from America) or any thing similar, DON’T BUY IT!
  2. Realize that a lot of treats are choking hazards, particularly rawhide, and never leave your pet unsupervised while they have them and be careful with bones too; they can splinter into very sharp pisces.
  3. Notice your pet, their normal activity level, affect and general demeanor. If you want to be objective, make a note of their resting heart rate, respiratory rate and gum color.
  4. Call your vet if you have any concerns and learn pet CPR and Heimlich maneuvers.

If you can be mindful of what your pet eats and plays with, you can keep them safe, so pick dog treats that are locally made, that are made solely with American made ingredients and try organic while you’re at it; it’s better for everyone.

Antlers need supervision too.



Feeding the Always Hungry Dog

Best dog beds

May I?


Do you have a dog that just loves his food, I mean really, really loves to eat? I’ve only met a few dogs in my life who actually didn’t, one, my Doberman Khazmo, would only eat if I stood by his bowl; if I left, he did too. Not to mention that any one of my cats could come up and intimidate him from eating any more and then settle down and finish up the poor guys’ dinner.

No, I’d say most dogs do love their food, but some dogs, well some dogs worship food, they live for the bowl; the rattle of kibble, the creak of the can lid, everything that portends a meal or for that matter, a crumb. Chow hounds they’re called and I know that many a pet owner has failed their pet by giving in to the pleading, desperate eyes over and over again, until one day they wake up and their pet is obese.  Of course so many of their owners have the same problem, it’s easy to see how they would transfer that need for food to their dogs. I’m here to beg you to learn to honor your responsibility to our pet and to feed them only the best food that you can afford. Talk to your vet and then research your little head off. One of the best references I’ve found is a book by the original dog whisperer, Paul Owens. His knowledge of pet nutrition will blow your thoughts about commercial pet foods out of the water.

Don’t panic, it’s not only simpler than you think; it’s affordable too. Avoiding corn, wheat and any grains is a great start as well as only buying food with human grade ingredients; absolutely no “animal or meat by products”. Many people do the research and end up making their own pet food, but I’ve found that by adding fresh produce that’s been shredded in my food processor into the grain-free kibble and organic, human grade canned dog food that I feed our dogs daily, they stay full and are vibrantly energetic and of excellent weight. Of course I have to measure out their food, or they could still get fat, but the produce (broccoli, carrots, zucchini, apples etc) really helps to them fill up. You owe it to your dog to help prevent so many debilitating diseases that plague overweight animals; from arthritis to heart failure.

A dear friend allows us to dog sit their ridiculously cute rescue puppy Diesel on a pretty regular basis, and this sweet guy is a true chowhound. The good news is that being food motivated is a great training aid, (it doesn’t hurt that he’s clever and willing to learn), but his talent for inhaling whatever is in his bowl is astounding! Luckily for him, his owners weigh him, measure out his meals and feed him a truly high quality food, which has helped him become a sleek, shiny coated model of health, and all of this in just the 2 short months they’ve had him. Diesel’s penchant for meals can leave him hiccupping though, along with a few other digestive problems, so we’ve come up with the home version of the “maze bowl” that people use to slow down a dogs’ mealtime; we simply add two of his favorite bones to the bowl and it works like a charm to control his feeding time and allow him to actually chew his food before he swallows it.

Now we all sleep a little better (and longer) and I like to think that he feels like he actually had a full meal. Although I have to admit, it was awfully funny to watch him hiccup in his sleep, his little nose bouncing in time on the bolster of his lounge dog bed.

The Dog Finds a Home

Well fate is a funny thing I’ll tell you, I was at work at the fire station the other day, just me and the new guy on our shift, when one of our police officers walked in with the most adorable little dog; black and white, definitely part Heeler and as sweet as can be. He looked like he could be Rhylee’s little brother! The new guy just bought a house with his girlfriend and I’ve been threatening them with a house warming dog, because lets face it, what’s a house without a dog? Our friend the officer explained that the poor little guy had been found a week earlier wandering around town and in spite of an enormous effort on their part, they’d been unable to find his owners. The funny thing about this dear pup is that he has just about the most irresistible personality in the history of dogdom and everyone at the police station had been taking him home at night just to keep him out of the pound; he’s just that adorable. To make a long story short, my work partner was pretty much a lost cause from the first minute and his girl friend was at the station just a few hours later giving her stamp of approval.

Now these two people aren’t exactly your typical 9-5ers; they’re both world champion bike riders and firefighters who manage very busy, successful careers AND are renovating a house and still, they’ve swept this little lost dog into their lives, filled his world with love and care and attention and everyone is a lot better for it. Don’t you just love a great story like that?

And one of the best things about it is that my husband and I get to dog sit when they’re traveling, so I get to be a part of this happy puppy’s life too. And Juno and Rhylee adore him as much as he loves them. He’s had a few sleepovers at the fire station with us and I can’t tell you how lucky we all feel watching him snooze away in his cozy pet cave bed under the desk. All hail the dog indeed!

Best dog beds

Sleepy Station Dog

Be Prepared for your Pet

Dogs observing the evacuee squrrel

Dogs and evacuee squirrel

Be prepared.

While we were away on our annual trip to the Oregon coast (awesome dog friendly trip by the way), we found out that our county was in the path of yet another raging western state wild fire. Since my husband and I are both firefighters, we headed home with more than a little dread. By the time we were home it was apparent that this was the new breed of wild fire and we’d all be lucky to get out with a house standing, much less a town to work for. For an interesting change from the usual back -breaking work, we had to work really, really hard to keep our house safe as the fire roared at us from three sides. In the midst of work and yard mitigation, I evacuated our animals.

On a side note, a friend mentioned later that it was interesting to see people’s priorities so clearly laid out for all to see, as evacuees advertised to their neighbors just what exactly they held precious in life i.e. what you saw packed into their trucks and cars as they fled the danger zone.

I moved the animals several days before I had to, simply because I needed to be able to think clearly while on shift at the Fire Department, and I wanted to get  the best accommodations’ for them as well. It occurred to me, as I gathered cats and chickens while watching the air tankers drop retardant, that the best advice that I could give anyone facing this type of situation was this: always move the animals that don’t come when they’re called first. Seriously, we have all hopefully learned from disasters like hurricane Katrina, that not being prepared can put your pets in harms way, if not kill them outright and that it is your responsibility to those animals, pets or livestock, to be prepared. But if you want it all to go smoothly, remember what I just said, move the difficult ones first. Yes, I kept the dogs with me while doing all this moving, on the of chance that things went bad fast, but the chickens, cats, horses and yes, the squirrel, all needed a calm head, a steady hand and a lot of patience. If the fire is licking at your heels, patience is not always readily available. We had some great people helping out in the most generous ways of all; with their time, their barns, their coops and their hearts. Because of them we were able to to our jobs with clear heads and in a small but significant way, they helped keep our valley from burning down.

Do you want to have important papers, photos and medical supplies on hand? Yes. Would you like your pet to have their regular food, their cozy, soft pet bed and a safe place to sleep? Absolutely, so I’ll say it once more; be prepared.

Missing Dogs; Dognapped?

Over the past year, our state has experienced a record number of dogs lost in an area covering several counties. Dogs were disappearing from their fenced in yards as well as apparently being taken right off of their owner’s lawns. While losing a pet under any circumstances is heartbreaking at the very least, having one kidnapped is even more so. Keep in mind, they are probably not being taken as potential pets, but far more likely they’re being sold as bait dogs for dog fighting rings or to laboratories for research.

None of us could begin to imagine the despair we would feel in this situation,  but sadly,  two people I know were recently put in that position. One friend let her 3 dogs out first thing in the morning as was their routine, but only one came back. This all took place in only a matter of minutes and without anyone; neighbors, law enforcement or animal control ever seeing anything. She put up posters all over the county without a single call back.

Another friend was gardening with her puppy in a very quiet neighborhood without any through traffic, when the pup just disappeared. She noticed right away and did all the right things; called law enforcement and animal control as well as notified all her neighbors immediately. Her dog was found by law enforcement in the middle of a town, several miles from her home and only minutes after having disappeared; dirty and banged up and with her tags ripped off of her collar. ( Much later, we were able to figure out that she must have jumped from the vehicle, as she could have never made it that far, that quickly). Due to a series of communication errors, the dog was impounded (oddly enough, in her vet’s kennel and without being recognized) for 4 days before she was notified. Apparently the officer who picked up the dog never passed that information along to anyone else, so in spite of my friend’s daily calls, she wasn’t  getting the correct information. The vets also said that the dogs’ microchip failed, something that isn’t entirely unheard of and that they weren’t able to identify her. I also had an experience where the chip had slipped down the dog’s leg, so be aware that there’s also room for human error as well.

Dog fighting rings are rampant across the country and support the abuse of animals on a widespread basis; from the fighting dogs themselves, to the bait dogs & to the helpless litters of puppies and kittens the owners use to teach the dogs to kill. It’s disgusting and illegal but it requires that everyone be just a little suspicious and nosy about the goings on around them and to report any activity that raises questions; that’s the only way citizens can help eradicate this cruel practice.

So what can we learn from this information and most importantly, how can we keep our pets safe?

Micro-chip your pet

Always have current information on collars and tags

Keep you pet under supervision as much as humanly possible; that includes people who tie their dogs up when they go into a store or those who leave them in an unlocked car.

And lastly, don’t ever assume that you’re pet is safe, just because you live in a “good” neighborhood.

I hope that you can take away something constructive from this article and I really hope you and your pets stay safe. Please click on this link and help save the pittie in the photo below..

Bait Dog




A Hero to Dogs, A Hero to Us

This Independence Day make sure to take the time to appreciate all that you have; to absorb the importance of not only the freedoms you may take for granted but also, the responsibilities that I hope you cherish as well. To understand the sacrifices that our military makes in order to allow us to live the way we do, you only need to look at the photo on this page. To be thousands of miles away from home and family, to risk your life every single minute of your time in a foreign land and yet to still show the compassion and caring that this man is showing, this is the life of a hero. If you were to take a moment today as you go about your business, you would see how many opportunities are missed for us to commit a simple act of kindness; even though we are home every night with our families and most of us don’t have jobs where someone is trying to kill us on a regular basis.  That’s what makes this soldiers’ generosity so special and that’s what raises the bar for us to act as everyday heroes. I don’t care if you visit with an elderly neighbor, volunteer at an animal shelter or stop and pick up a lost cat or dog. I just care that you take the time to give back a little for all that you have received. Happy 4th.

Dog Sitting (and Staying)

best dog beds


Quite unintentionally, my husband and I have become the dog sitters of choice amongst our friends. I just fine with this because it’s a barter system whereupon we get cat and chicken sitting for when we travel. Yes, I said chicken, but that’s a story for another day (or maybe another blog).

Because of a constantly rotating cast of characters I’ve noticed some interesting habits and behavioral traits in different dogs. On a side note, I’ve also noticed that I have what are probably the Worlds’ Most Tolerant cats.  I thought I should capitalize that phrase, it’s the very least I can do seeing as they can very often be found eating their little kitty dinners on top of the table, or even the refrigerator. And even the sanctity of the table dining area was recently violated (see the photo above).

As dog owners, you may be blissfully unaware of the seamlessness that is your daily pack life and make no mistake, if you’re the kind of dog owner I know you are, you do live in a pack. Every day thousands of activities go on in your household with the precision of an expert ballet company or orchestra, you just might not be all that aware of it; breakfast for pets, breakfast for humans, outdoor time, quiet time, kids to school, dogs in car, dogs out of car and so on, ad infinitum. You and your pack waltz through life pretty smoothly, until a new cog in the wheel appears; enter the visiting pooch. Some owners supply their own dog crates and dog crate accessories, fancy pet beds, and even toys. Some just show up with a dog; no leash, no food.  Feeding time can get interesting, especially for the dogs used to being only dogs. In our pack. we have a pretty controlled atmosphere at feeding time; everyone has to sit and wait to be told to eat, and for some dogs that’s a complete mystery, especially for the poor Labs who are more likely to be rather excited about food. On the other end of the spectrum and referring back to the World’s Most Tolerant cats, the visiting herding dogs will usually attach themselves to a cat as a sort of an entourage. HBO should really consider this as a pilot, it’s pretty amusing to watch and oddly enough, on the very rare occasion that a Border Collie’s O.C.D. slips up, the cat will actually turn around to look for “their” dog as if to say “hello, we’re walking now, keep up”.

No matter who visits, low or high maintenance, it’s always interesting around here and when we wave goodbye, it’s always with a calm sense of our pack returning to normal once again. Sigh….

Animal Welfare; What You Can Do


Charity, donations and good causes; we all have ones that are closest to our hearts. I have always been an animal charity person, but I know a lot of people who split their charity money evenly among causes.  I’m always interested to speak to people about the charities and organizations that they support. Whichever ones your money or time donations go to, it’s always smart to research them to ensure your investment works the hardest. This is especially true in light of the numerous fraudulent organizations around these days, with scams that are, sorry to say, a lot easier to perpetrate via the Internet.  A great resource for anyone to use is Charity Watch. They have stringent analysis system for rating all different kinds of charitable organizations. In order to get a top rating from them a group needs to meet certain criteria; spend 75% or more of their budget on programs, spend $25 or less to raise $100 in public support, receive an “open book status” for basic financial disclosure to name just a few. Since I write a dog blog and you’re reading it, I thought you might be just the person to be interested in animal welfare/rescue charities, just guessing.

I’ve listed only the top ten, according to CharityWatch at the bottom of the page. All of this is great information to help you me make sound decisions, however, it doesn’t in anyway mean that other charitable organizations aren’t worthy, There are 90 more in the top 100 that do amazing work on local and national levels, not to mention thousands of local animal shelters and rescue societies across the country, just check them out first. And remember, in many cases, your time and effort can be even more valuable than money.

You can never underestimate the infinite value of your kind acts; Adopting a pet instead of buying one, helping catch a stray dog or cat, assisting a neighbor in spaying their fruitful pet, spending time raising money for your local shelter, attending city council meetings and joining political committees where important decisions are made, ones that could impact animals an many levels. Even if just donating your gently used pet beds

Best dog beds

Rescue dogs are part of the family

or surplus pet food to shelters, every act of charity pays back to our world exponentially.

Animal Welfare Institute  A+

Best Friends Animal Society  A-

D.E.L.T.A. Rescue  A-

Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International  A

Farm Sanctuary   B+

Friends of Animals  A

Humane Farming Association  B+

Marine Mammal Center  A-

Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS)  A

PetSmart Charities   A

United Animal Nations/Red Rover  B+

Wildlife Conservation Society  A



Are your dogs “spoiled’? How would you describe a spoiled dog anyway? I know that my dogs most definitely enjoy more privileges than a lot of other dogs, they’re allowed on the furniture (and before you ask, I’m a clean freak), they come along on family vacations and frankly, we’ve made more than a few detours on those vacations just because there was something I thought the dogs would enjoy seeing or doing.

Excessive? I’m sure many of you would say so, but for us, it’s just a part of the norm. However, and this is a big however, my dogs are trained, polite and almost unfailingly obedient. They eat the best quality food that I can afford, they have regular veterinary care, I groom them regularly and, as I’ve written about before, brush their teeth every night. While this also may seem excessive to some, it is in fact merely what I consider my responsibility to them; to keep them healthy. If your dog only sleeps on the floor or maybe has a cozy dog bed in your kitchen, as well as everything he or she needs to be a happy, healthy member of your family, are you neglecting them? No more than I am spoiling mine. Some might like to buy the finest in designer dog accessories; some might only have an old rope for a leash. As long as you make them a part of our pack, as long as they have what they need physically and emotionally, it doesn’t matter if they have a fancy dog bowl or not. Just as long as it’s regularly filled, you are your dog’s person and they are your very best friend; spoiled or not.

Best dog beds

Tres and the pony Imp, waiting for treats.