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I’ve Been Avoiding You

And for good reason. Well, not good. Tragic. Unfortunate. Devastating. Reason. The worst kind of reason. But, I have to get it out there. Off my chest. Into the open. Make it all finally officially, official, so we can have our good cry and move on, right? As if. Thus far, it’s a strategy not actually working for me.

We lost our pug. Read more

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Dog Training: Essential Equipment

I have a lot of dog paraphernalia. Which makes sense. I have a lot of dogs. And have for years. Over the course of those years, I’ve amassed quite the collection of leashes, collars, beds (of course), bowls, jackets, toys, chews, and uncategorizable detritus. Alas, now my dogs are older. A lot older in some cases. We aren’t doing the training, the walking, the dog parking, even the playing that we once did. Yet, I still have this closet (yes, an entire closet) full of well, crap. Useful crap, up until recently. Now, it is crap in need of some downsizing. That causes me to reevaluate these items. If I had to do it all over again (which I suppose I will eventually), knowing what I know now, 13+ years into this dog journey, what would I hold on to? I’m not talking about the items integrated into my home. Not the beds (love those!), not the feeding stands, not the Crypton Throvers (worth their weight in gold). No. What would I need to be out and about and functional with my dog. To train them. To travel with them. To accomplish that A-1 goal of having a dog who doesn’t embarrass me in public. Couldn’t we all use a little help there? Read more

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Gratitude for a Canine Lifetime

We’ve embarked on a new dog chapter. With the addition of our progeny, my relationship with my dogs has changed. It has. I denied it would happen. I rally against it. But, its true. The addition of kids changes how you feel about dogs.

In our case, it doesn’t involve a trip to the shelter, emails to a rescue, or very sad craigslist ads. Fear not! My band of senior misfits are still and forever firmly ensconced into the landscape of my life. I’m distracted these days. By diapers and feeding and crying and snuggling. As much as I am still in awe of this new life in my lap (Who gave me a baby anyway!?), I am equally enthralled with my dogs. How far we’ve all come together. To get here. Read more

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Orijen Freeze Dried Treats: A Review

Every once in a while, every once in a great, long while this little blog gets me something for free. Not much, mind you, and primarily it comes from the dog world, which is fitting. Whenever it happens, I can’t help but squee with excitement. Especially when that free stuff is something I’ve been looking forward to for what seems like forever.

It’s no secret I’m a big fan of Champion Pet Foods. I’ve sung their praises from the very beginning (here and here) and given them every honorable mention I can get away with (including in my dog food manifesto). As kibbles go, they are way ahead of the pack, in my not so humble opinion. Locally sourced ingredients, full disclosure, never outsourced, biologically appropriate. They set the bar for the industry, and not a lot of other companies can even come close. However, this high standard has left them with some ‘limitations’ shall we say, in their product lines. If you insist on owning all your own equipment (as opposed to co-packing at a facility you can never completely control), it can be difficult to offer things like cans or frozen foods or… treats. Read more

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In Memorium

I’ve neglected to write this post. Not because it’s not worthy of sharing. Quite the opposite, actually. These stories should be told. But, because it didn’t feel shareable. It felt like our own. A family decision. A personal journey. For each of us. And it always is. A sad day. A long goodbye. Then relief, for all of us, I hope.

I’ve got a thing about commemorating the dogs that pass through our lives. Paintings, figures, photos. Something that remains with us when they have passed. A conversation starter about them. Once they leave us, these old dogs are not to be forgotten. They become part of our story. Their chapter in our family, short or long, it’s important. And so a cute picture of an unassuming little dog. Our littlest dog actually. And our oldest. Six pounds of 20 year old Maltese appreciation. Read more

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Baby Proof your Dogs

Dogs before children, chronologically speaking. It’s a common arrangement. Dogs are easier, cheaper, and less commitment than your own progeny. People are prone to have bliss-full, canine centric lives, before Junior shows up. People like me, who give dogs a 13 year head start on procreation. Over a decade of their lives, kid-free, let alone infant, baby, toddler free, which is a whole special subset if you ask the dog. Squirmy, loud, with poor impulse control, and developing motor skills. Sort of like dogs, but they grow out of it. Eventually.

Yet we expect our dogs to accept these new beings without question. Not just the new noises and smells from something they recognize as only vaguely humanoid, but a major shift in the pack and their lifestyle. Changed priorities. Newly unnaceptable behaviors, parts of the house off limits. Maybe they don’t get to sleep in the bed anymore. Maybe a bleary eyed new Mom or Dad pushes off or forgets the standard meal time. Maybe their spot on the couch is shifted slightly, if not gone altogether. We completely change the game. And if they don’t comply, we send them packing. Read more

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The Pet Gene

Some people do not have pets. For many of us, this may be a difficult concept to grasp. Let me explain.

There are people who do not have dogs or cats. Or horses. Or chickens. Or even that whole foreign land of guinea pigs, rabbits, lizards, and fish. They do exist. These pet-less individuals are amazing. Baffling, and amazing. No animal husbandry, of any kind. What must that be like? I bet their lives involve a lot less poop than mine does. Poop and responsibility. With an increase in money. And more room on the couch. That doesn’t sound so bad.

Of course, there’s also less warm dog. Warm dog with wet nose and contented sigh. Maybe a stray snore here or there. Ever-ready companions, whether it be for adventure or just to hang out in the yard. Non-human creatures that know me, communicate with me, rely on me, and are a distinct part of my life.

How do you quantify their value to people without ‘The Pet Gene’? Read more

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Knowing When Its Time

The most difficult part of owning a dog isn’t potty training. It isn’t having your couch eaten. It isn’t making food decisions. Or big vet bills. It isn’t the first year. But, the last. And knowing when your time has come to an end. They don’t live forever, these creatures. Not even close. Really only long enough for us to take them for granted. To completely incorporate them into our lives. To make them firmly and officially family. How long is that? It varies, and I dont think it really matters. Years or months. Its never easy.

Which brings us to a certain little dog. I’ll say up front he’s still with us. We just don’t know for how long. Read more

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Animal Advocacy at the Vet

Many of us will happily wear a t-shirt declaring our strong feelings on spay and neuter policies, animal adoption, breed legislation, and a variety of other animal related topics. We will shout to the world our opinions and declare our unconditional love for a specific breed, dog, or activity. But, will you stand up to your Veterinarian?

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Grizzled, old, immune compromised Springer lady or rabid bite risk? Who makes that call?

Educated animal types tend to know a little about food, about general health, about the dangers inherent in over vaccination. Maybe we haven’t done all our own research, but at least we’ve heard about it. We know the world exists. Some people have those opinions. Opinions that are brushed off by your local vet as ‘inconclusive’, perhaps ‘dangerous’. They use phrases like ‘to be on the safe side’. They are all too eager to sell you a prescription diet that you shudder to read the ingredients label on. Believe me, it’s best you don’t. The alternatives are expensive at best and incredibly labor intensive at the outside. Or at least that’s how we are made to feel. We cave. We aren’t experts. We don’t have the pile of student loans and certificates to prove we went to vet school. Sigh.

Despite my lack of qualifications, I don’t always do what my vet says. Look at me and my rebel self. Read more

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A Good Dog Is A Tired Dog

That is one of my favorite adages of dog training and management. Funnily enough, as I type it, I listen to a cacophony of sighs and snores coming from all corners of my office. Sacked out, as they usually are, at 11:00am. This is one of the benefits of owning senior dogs. They come with a whole raft of concerns too. Gargantuan amounts of exercise just isn’t one of them. Our life wasn’t always this way though. My old dogs are of high energy roots. Dalmatians, Springer Spaniels, and the bottom-less pit of energy that is a Jack Russel Terrier.

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Rocco and the true love of his life. The Ball.

Exercise needs vary by age (I’m looking at my misfits here), breed (the pug at only 3, is not much of a go-getter), individual dog (his soul mate J.J. never was), and lifestyle. Us, with our pack of physically fit, highly trainable, too smart for their own good, very bad if left to their own devices, young dogs, well, we had to develop a whole lifestyle of energy expending activities. And use them. Frequently. Read more

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