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




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



Wildlife and Dog LIfe

Best dog beds

I See You


How many of us can’t wait for the warmer weather to take our dogs on a hike or even just a quick walk in the sunshine? As much as we try in the winter, it just doesn’t happen as often. In my area, we’re lucky to have bike/ski trails where we can stroll in the winter; a nice and quick alternative to snowshoes and a lot of clothes.

Still, come spring, we’re all glad to get out and really stretch our legs. This can be very exhilarating for the dogs and we have to remember to be on the look out for seasonal dangers like wild animals and swift water.

I get such a kick out of seeing the abundant wildlife in my area and obviously my dogs do too, however I certainly don’t want them getting too up close and personal since this could be bad for all parties involved. No matter where you live, the chance of your pets coming into contact with wildlife is pretty high, even if that only means squirrels, mice and rabbits. My neighborhood has an abundance of elk, deer, raccoons, skunk, song birds, hawks, owls, eagles, fox, coyote, wolves, bear, moose and mountain lions. As you can probably figure; mixing up with any of these could be bad for either party, whether it’s my cats, dogs or chickens. And don’t think that it only matters one way or another, I have to disagree; we have a responsibility to our pets and our wildlife equally.

So how do we keep everyone safe and separate? Good question, start with some forethought. If I’m keeping chickens in a rural area, I have to be as prepared as possible for the animals that could eat them, so their fencing and housing have to be as raid-proof as possible. I have to keep bell collars (safety release of course) on my cats because the depredation of songbirds by domestic cats alone is devastating. And my dogs, well they have to be trained to recall on command, no matter what is running by and if they can’t be trusted, then they can’t be loose, period. Chasing deer and elk can stress out the herds as well as put them and the dogs in danger from vehicle traffic. Moose, mountain lions and coyotes can easily kill a dog, whether I’m out hiking or they’re passing through our yard, so again, I have to be careful. For instance, I never leave my dogs out in the yard unattended for more than a minute or two and I don’t let my cats out at night; they’re just not equipped to deal with the predators out there. I’ve heard of several pet owners in my community who acted very irresponsibly and left their pets out to fend for themselves, with tragic results. Not only for the pet, but also for the wild animal that was only doing what comes naturally as a way to survive and then was killed because of that. So you see how everyone was harmed by one person’s inattention? And anyway, who doesn’t sleep a little better at night knowing their beloved pets are right where they belong, snuggled in a cozy pet bed…… inside?

Make Animal Welfare Go Viral

Give me love and shelter, cherish me and I will love you forever.

Give me love and shelter, cherish me and I will love you forever.

How about we make animal welfare viral?

Did you ever notice how some things, ideas or events spread like wildfire? Have you ever asked yourself why they do that? I just read an interesting article talking about the things that trigger peoples’ need to share. After all sharing is as simple as pushing a button nowadays.

The article spoke about social currency, emotions and other things that trigger the viral movement of, well, just about anything. That got me thinking about how we can make animal adoption viral, I mean, why not right? What more could you ask for? It’s a subject with emotions, and it tells millions of stories; two of the five things the author, Jonah Berger, writes about. When Berger talks about “social currency” he’s talking about the things that make people look like they’re in the know, that there’s a value in the mere act of knowing them. What could have more value than saving the lives of millions of animals every year? Saving them from the horrible situation into which we’ve placed them; by neglect, abuse and ignorance, humans have made the problem of homeless pets, why don’t we become the ones to fix that problem?

I know I’m asking a lot of questions today, but it seems appropriate, because I can’t figure out why; why we haven’t been able to stop puppy mills, why we haven’t been able to spay and neuter more pets. Why we haven’t been able to change an ignorant culture that allows people to abandon those in their care. Why every pet doesn’t have a safe, loving and warm place to sleep at night, a bowl of food and a cozy bed.

How about we make animal welfare viral? Go ahead, you can do it, just hit “share”.

A Dog Day



Does My Butt Look Big in This Bed?

Does My Butt Look Big in This Bed?

I know that this is a funny picture; I mean look at this sweet guy parking his butt in that tiny, little bed. However, what he could be showing me is that he would really like a comfortable place to settle in for a long day at the barn and that as far as he’s concerned, his choices are limited. A lot of us go about our day, some of us are lucky enough to be able to share our days with our dogs, but do we actually go far enough to provide a safe and comfortable environment for our dogs while we are doing so?

Now since this dear dog Sego is one of our regulars at the barn, I happen to know the answer to that question is “yes”. What you can’t see in this picture is that Sego has his own comfy dog bed in another corner of the barn; he’s just occupying someone else’s (for his own personal reasons). All of the dogs also have access to fresh water throughout the day. Sego’s owner also works hard to get him home “on time’ for his supper as he is somewhat demanding about schedules. This really isn’t overdoing the pet care thing; it’s really just being a caring, responsible owner and doing what’s best for your pet.

Doing what’s right can look a little different depending on the dog and it’s family, but the minimum is insuring that physical, emotional and environmental needs of your animal are met regularly and not begrudgingly.  I brush my dog’s teeth every night, some people would call that excessive, however they not only stay healthier, (as do humans with good oral hygiene), and I also haven’t had to pay for a tooth cleaning in over 14 years. That actually sounds pretty reasonable now doesn’t it?  I try to feed them as close to their normal feeding times as possible, keep water always on hand, not exercise them too long in extreme weather and so on.

None of this is rocket science, it’s not time consuming and it’s not inconvenient, it’s just responsible.

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!