Monthly Archives: March 2015

Paws before feeding

Source: Woofipedia


Shortly after my recent post (and in keeping our family luck firmly intact-that is, a day late and a dollar short), I came across this graphic which I thought made a heckuva lotta of sense to share. Similar to that list of important numbers/contacts you put on the frig for the babysitter on the one night a year you actually can get out of the house alone, this one could live on the bulletin board or wherever it is that you prefer stash important stuff that you don’t want lying around cluttering up counters but which is equally as important. Then again if you’re a Pinterest junkie fan, you can always frame it as kitchen art-just saying.

Consider this a quick and friendly reminder for keeping those precious fur babies safe on the last day of Poison Prevention Awareness Month. But don’t let ‘out of sight, out of mind’ flummox you and especially remember to keep ALL gum away from curious busy-body noses. Xylitol, the sweetener in gum is quite toxic and can be fatal. I know from past experience about those ‘busy’ noses; my last dog was a master thief at finding this stuff probably because the scent of gum is so enticing (and I’m still convinced she probably taught Sam all his bad habits of getting that nose in places where it shouldn’t be). Where dogs (and cats) are concerned, if it isn’t one thing, it’s something else. 🙂

And now…let’s bring on April and warmer temps, baby!

Live, love, bark! <3


Reflections on a year

There was an elaborate idea to write a commemoration story on the actual anniversary of my first post but then the nice folks at WordPress reminded me in a lovely message that today is the anniversary date of when I actually joined the blogosphere despite it being another month before I could finally be able to hit that scary “PUBLISH” button.

I had wanted to start a blog for a few years but couldn’t wrap my head around how to go about it and was inspired by my good friend, Anna who actually has two blogs (be sure to check out this one if you ever need a groovy hip place to stay in when you’re in Vail, CO-that condo is fabulous). We talked about our mutual desire to start a blog for months though little did I know she’d already launched DesignPunk. We both agreed that snarky comments had the potential to crush your spirit (you’d be surprised how cruel people can be in their comments on design blogs) and the fear factor was more than just a figment of our imagination. Like her, I sooooo wanted to launch a cool design blog. Anna and I share similar tastes when it comes to design, but then reality appeared, tapped me on the shoulder and pointed out that (a) my design sense actually sucks and (b) I have no DIY abilities beyond wielding a semi-mean paintbrush-not exactly the kind of treasure trove needed for that kind of blog. Talk about humbling. But I still couldn’t shake the idea that I really wanted to be part of Blogville; I knew there were things to say, even though there was no demonstrable design skills to share. Sigh. 🙁

_MG_4770-(ZF-2552-28389-2-002)-2And then it hit me, the one thing that I possibly could blog about was right at the end of the leash. Sam became the inspiration behind this blog–he’s goofy, sweet and the perfect companion to bring smiles to people, sick or well and with my desire to make a difference in people’s lives, I got this idea that I could blog about our experiences as a pet therapy team. I still had that whole ‘gee, have no clue how to set this thing up’ minor detail going on, but I just decided to wing it. There are what, 20 million + blogs out there, surely it couldn’t be too hard. Luckily, the stars aligned themselves and a college near the ‘ranch’ offered an abbreviated class on social media for neophytes like me and I enthusiastically signed up. I was paired with a freshly scrubbed young college student who gleefully told me it would be a piece of cake and we could knock out a blog in no time. Yay! I thought. Little did I know that an accident and injury would prevent her from completing the project with me which had barely begun to be set up. So with fear in my heart, I plunged on in the dark. I think it took me two weeks before I could even decide on a theme and that was with non-stop thinking about it. I tried several out, couldn’t decide on a final one and nearly threw up my hands in despair and quit. Still I couldn’t shake that nagging desire to be part of this amazing community of incredibly talented people, adorable pooches, kitties, dare I say even kangaroos. 🙂 I wish I could list every single one of you here; you have all been so remarkably welcoming, supportive and kind to us and have given me far more than I could have possibly imagined.

Boy, am I happy I didn’t give up. A trip to the bookstore and countless hours of reading WordPress for Dummies (over and over) later, I played around and practiced (over and over) trying to set it all up (still not sure everything is the way it should be/could be, but I’m dealing with those details when they pop up and tweaking it all the time). I remember crying, moaning and groaning but I kept plugging away determined not to let it get the best of me. I figured, sheesh, how hard can it be? I mean, I work for lawyers for crying out loud and have managed to survive them all these years, surely I can figure this out. There were some nights and weekends where I thought I’d either set my hair on fire, slit my wrists or throw the laptop away. Those were some dark times I’ll admit, when I was convinced that I’d never make it but ultimately after taking lots of little bitty, tiny, baby steps, came to realize this dream. And while that was hard enough in and of itself, it was nothing compared to actually publishing that first post of which I agonized over for weeks. I still l suffer from ‘publishing anxiety” and figure that will probably never go away, as it’s more than likely an ongoing continual process, right?

But then you dear readers rescued me. At first only friends and family were bullied invited to take a look. Then lo and behold, you started checking us out. Can I just say, I. was. over. the. moon. with my first ‘like’ and beyond giddy with the first comment? That day was so incredibly exciting ad special. And since then I have been touched and buoyed by your support, cleverness, unfettered brilliant humor and welcoming over this past year. How can I ever repay your generous spirit of community, your pithy observations, or the way you can always make me smile and reflect on issues surrounding our mutual passion about our fur babies? I shall always be in your debt. Thank you from the bottom of my heart–you made the first year totally ‘pawsome.’ Here’s to more laughs and heartfelt posts from both sides of the keyboard. I know I look forward to reading all of your posts and hope you’ll continue to drop by and see ours.

Live, love, bark! <3

Nose Prints

Nose prints…no not the kid of ‘artwork’ you see on windows and glass doors.  It’s way too easy to say “my windows aren’t dirty, that’s  just my dog’s nose art.”  🐾  No, what I’m talking about are all those ridges on his nose.

Have you ever look at your dog’s nose? I mean really look at your dog’s nose. Every dog has different ridges, lines, swirls, even scales that are unique to him on that nose. I had never really noticed with Sam until I spotted a small white-ish soul patch on his chin over the weekend (I guess age isn’t quite as relative as previously thought). The angle that showed the small white-ish patch of fur allowed me to really notice all the ridges.IMG_1522

That kind of baffled and freaked me out. First, there was that whole ‘soul patch’ thing going on (the freak out part) and then there were all these swirls and ridges that suddenly seemed so foreign to me (the baffling part). What I hadn’t realized was that those ridges are the equivalent to a human fingerprint…unique only to Sam and no other dog’s nose is just like it.

I discovered that the Canadian Kennel Club has accepted nose prints as proof of identity since 1938. Who’d have thought? More recently of course, microchip technology has been the identification du jour that most people think of for keeping track of their pet’s identity but nose printing is even more useful than chipping or tagging. Chips can become dislodged, in effect lost within the dog and it is a painful and invasive process. There is a US company that uses an inkless device and has the owner make an impression of the dog’s nose as a permanent record of its identity. Once the impression and a photo of the dog are taken, both are sent to the company along with contact info and scanned into a proprietary database. A collar tag is provided with the dog’s ID number, owner’s phone number and the company’s toll-free number. Should the dog become missing, the owner can either notify the company on its website or call to let them know the dog is missing whereby the nose print is then faxed to every known vet and animal shelter within the owner’s area. If someone calls to say they picked up a dog matching the description, the owner can verify with the shelter and the nose print is compared with the original. The company touts the ID is more reliable than dog tags, and is certainly a lot less invasive than tattooing or micro-chipping.

Because I’m a safety first kind of gal, Sam was micro-chipped the week I brought him home. He also has a tag on his collar indicating that he’s micro-chipped, along with contact info on his Canine Good Citizen tag but the idea of a nose print is kind of interesting. That white soul patch thing on the other hand, is just flat cool. But it does make me think I need to watch him more closely as the “real” senior he obviously is and see if he starts acting more like a 9-year-old than the punk kid he acts like currently. 🙂

Live, love, bark <3

Wordless Wednesday

Lessons from my dog

Lessons from my dog

Live, love, bark! <3

Is age just a relative thing?


IMG_1219Sam here…mom’s busy doing heaven only know what tonight so I thought I’d take over the blog (it being Thursday and all so she’s probably watching Scandal, the slacker). We recently had our semi-annual checkup/evaluation at the hospital where we get tested twice a year to make sure we’re still good and can handle the whole hospital vibe thing-it’s good to measure the dogs regularly so everyone knows they will continue to do well with the patients. But I think sometimes they need to check the humans more often than us but that’s a story for another time.

I was patiently waiting for my turn when I spied Truffles! No not the yummy treat kind, the chocolate-brown Newfoundland dog kind. I have such a crush on Truffles though most of the time she doesn’t pay much attention to me. Any-who…there I was, there she was and my name was called and I started bouncing up and down to go see her and her mom, Lyn. The volunteer vet was a nice enough lady, she smiled and giggled at my bouncing and her and Lyn both were ooh-ing and ah-ing about me. I love Lyn almost as much as I love Truffles because she always has a nice word for me and some great treats. So the vet was checking my heartbeat (it must have been going pitter-patter like crazy!) and I could barely contain my enthusiasm. I was focusing all my attention on that gorgeous brown girl. Hubba-bubba! When all of a sudden, I hear: “So I see that Sam is a senior, any problems?” Wait. What?! Senior? Are you kidding me, I’m the spriest 9-year-old she’ll ever see! WTH does that mean? I mean here I am bouncing like a cotton-picking jack rabbit to impress my girl and the vet’s calling me a senior? Oh puleez. I’m as young as any 4-year-old and I can bounce and hop with the best of them. Truffles kind of rolled her eyes and turned her back toward me.

Wait-no, don’t listen to that stupid vet. I’m a real dandy, in fact a super catch. Just look at this handsome dog! I got my poms all groomed, my toes nice and trimmed, nice conformation, even my whiskers are all waxed into place. I’m a mean, clean, fighting machine! How could she not be taken in by me?

DSC00065Apparently Truffles listened more to the vet than to my whining and pining over her. She kept her back to me and laid down. Egad–noooo, not the cold shoulder! My little heart was crushed. I couldn’t understand why the vet would sabotage my chances with Truffles. I’m trim (no spare tire on this killer bod), sharp as a tack (well ok, sharp as an ADD pup can be), why I’m a veritable stud muffin with no health issues. What is this senior thing? It sounded so derisive and judging from Truffles’ reaction, not a good thing. 🙁

The vet finished checking me out and gave me a clean bill of health saying I was good for another 6 months so I pranced and danced around trying to impress the Truffles girl. But alas, she wanted no part of me. But I’m not giving up just yet; there’s always the next exam or the summer get-together when I’ll see her and boy, I’ll totally be all ‘Rico Sua-ve’ when she does. Meanwhile, I think I’ll practice on a couple of the ladies in the ‘hood,’ just to keep in practice. Wouldn’t want to get rusty like a senior now, right?

So what exactly does ‘being a senior mean’ when you act like a teenager all the time? Is age a relative thing with us dogs?

Live, love, bark! <3

Danger Will Robinson

Lost in Space, the series 1965-68, IMDB

Lost in Space, the series 1965-68, IMDB

Nope, this isn’t gonna be a review or comment on either the old campy series or the 1998 movie Lost in Space though that phrase is often heard in my house followed by peals of laughter-it’s just hard not to burst out laughing at that cheesy line, but I digress.

No, what I want to make you aware of is Poison Prevention Week, March 15-22. Although it was originally created to raise awareness with parents with small children, vets are calling attention to the public for keeping pets safe as well. You’ve probably seen those toxic plant lists and you can view an infographic here to refresh your memory on common toxic substances. But what I want to share is far more insidious that more and more pet parents are engaging in because it’s thought of as “cute behavior.”

One thing that is becoming more and more common is that many dogs and cats will lick your skin after you’ve applied lotions or medicated creams. Personally, it grosses me out, I know where that tongue has been and frankly don’t want it licking my skin but more importantly, I want my fur-baby to stay safe. There are many types of lotions and ointments, creams and topical medications that can potentially make your pet very sick if ingested. Obviously it’s better to discourage licking you following application of creams or lotions. Often times, a yummy smell such as vanilla or coconut oil based products seem to draw pets to lick you. If your pet has ingested a potentially toxic topical product, you should contact your vet or emergency facility right away.

Here are some over the counter topical products that are dangerous to pets include:

  • Personal care products that contain dioxane, parabens, phthalates, metholisothiaolinone, toluene, triclosan, sodium laurel sulfate, and propylene glycol. Found in toothpastes, body washes, moisturizers, make-up/cosmetics, antiperspirants, shampoos, conditioners, deodorants, sunscreens. If you can’t pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t use it. Instead use: emu and coconut oil, oregano oil, mild soap without triclosan, water or water mixed with baking soda.
  • Creams containing hydrocortisone which is often used to control itching. Can increase thirst and urination, panting, vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Ointments & lotions containing antibiotics often called ‘triple antibiotic” and applied to cuts, scratches, etc. Can cause stomach upset.
  • Antifungal creams can cause vomiting and diarrhea if ingested.
  • Products containing zinc oxide can cause vomiting and diarrhea if ingested.
  • Muscle rub creams – many of these contain salicylate, aspirin-like compounds that can cause vomiting  or stomach ulcers. Other potential ingredients include menthol or capsaicin.
  • Prescription topical products including steroid based creams, hormone creams, anti-inflammatory pain med creams (i.e. Flurbiprofen for topical relief of arthritis), vitamin A compounds (retinoids).
  • Minoxidil – aka Rograine. Hair regrowth product originally used as a blood pressure medication. Upon ingestion, symptoms displayed are vomiting, lethargy, progression to fluid build up in lungs and eventually heart failure.
  • Calcipotiene (Dovonex) – used to treat psoriasis. Even a small amount can cause death in dogs and cats; it also causes vomiting and kidney failure-yikes.
  • 5-flurouracil (5-FU and Efudex) – treats solar keratosis (precancerous sun damage and skin cancer in humans). If ingested by pets, can cause seizures, bloody vomiting, diarrhea, bone marrow suppression. Extremely dangerous to use around animals, ingestion almost always results in death. Don’t mess around with this one.

Tips for Keeping your Pet Safe from Topical Products.

Prevent your pet from licking you after you’e applied products to your skin, even non-toxic products. Allow all topical products to soak in thoroughly or cover before contact with your pet. Never apply a topical meant for human use on your pet without consulting a vet. After applying a topical product, OTC product or prescription, thoroughly wash your hands before touching your pet. Store all products away from pets, and contact your vet or emergency veterinary clinic immediately if you believe your fur-kid may have come into contact with any potentially harmful products. Remember…be alert and keep your fur babies safe.

Live, love, bark! <3

A wee post

Kiss me, I'm Irish (today)!

Kiss me, I’m Irish (today)!

May your thoughts be as glad as the shamrocks
May your heart be as light as a song
May each day bring you bright
Happy hours that stay with you all the year long.
~Irish Blessing

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day.

Live, love, bark! <3


Et tu, Brute? [Source Wikipedia]

Et tu, Brute? [Source Wikipedia]

The Ides of March is most well-known as the anniversary of the assassination of Julius Caesar though it marked other less notorious events as well at the time. In the Roman calendar, the Ides of March marked the first full moon of the year (while March was the 3rd month in the Julian calendar, it was the first month in the oldest Roman calendar) as well as the religious festival of Anna Perenna which culminated the ‘new year’ celebrations. We know Marcus Brutus betrayed Caesar as predicted by the soothsayer earlier that month and stabbed him at a meeting of the senate at the Theatre of Pompey on March 15, 44 BC.

Was it political in nature or a question of loyalty? Sure Caesar had declared himself a dictator in perpetuity and was increasingly alienating the political elite at the time. The Ides of March is a day about loyalty in my books. It is the birthday of my son’s best friend and I thought about that this morning as I walked Sam. They’ve been friends for 30 years, since walking the halls of junior high. Seth and his family befriended Kevin and our family when we first moved to the city and we’ve stayed in touch over the years, through graduations, moves, marriages, births of babies and passing of family members. Our families are intertwined and long connected; Seth is godfather to my first grandchild and he’s called me “Mom-ika” for years as an homage.

While walking Sam, it struck me with everything that’s happened over the past 30 years, I had to only look at the end of the leash to witness an example of loyalty. Yesterday afternoon we ran into a neighbor who lives a couple blocks away. I first became acquainted with Colleen years ago when she owned a stately black Standard at the same time I did (McKenzie was my previous Standard, a super sweet and fabulously smart dog who was rescued from the Dumb Friends League as a pup and my faithful companion for 13 years). We began chatting when she’d walk past me in the front garden. When Sam joined me, she was taken with his sweetness and good looks and she always commented on how she’d love to get another Standard. After Ziggy passed and since there weren’t any Standards available through local rescue or shelters at the time, Colleen adopted a sweet pound pup, Norman, a  lovely and laid back Jack Russell mix. Norman was always the business end of the leash when they walked by, but was willing to patiently linger when they’d stop. Some time later, she rescued another JR-Skye, the three of them would walk by and Sam loved their visits. He’s so gregarious and all about pups stopping with their owners for visits though I’m convinced he’s more about the humans stopping then any of the dogs. Last Autumn, Norman passed away which was very hard on his fur-mom. As often happens after grieving, she adopted rescued another dog, Theona, a Chihuahua mix, who captivated her with cuddly sweetness a mere two weeks ago. In addition to being quite the cuddler, T-girl dances adorably on her hind legs in front of you much like a ballerina. After the initial greet and sniff, as usual Sam was more interested with the biped than the canines. While she’s very enamoured with little Theona, Colleen has remarked more than once, how she’d love to have another Standard who was like Sam. We chatted for a very long time catching up on various neighborhood topics and the future of the local Standard Poodle Rescue.  Theona, perhaps a little jealous of the attention given Sam at one point growled at him. Little dogs flummox Sam. He’s not sure whether they are a wind-up toy, a force to be reckoned with or some combination of the two. While he will defend himself, he’s not aggressive (unless you count this) and backed off expressing interest in either Skye or Theona but sat directly in front of me with his attention ready to be directed toward Colleen if she expressed any interest and Theona ‘allowed’ it.

It occurred to me that although Sam loves the attention of EVERYONE, he’s really my devoted loyal companion, through and through. He always comes back to me waiting for our next adventure and on this day about loyalty, I know where his lies. Happy Ides of March; here’s to you and your loyal companion. How does your loyal companion show loyalty toward you?

Live, love, bark! <3

Fun Fursday


I hate to continue to whine about the whole DST thing, but both Sam and I are struggling to get going every morning and we’re morning people! 

Are you and your pup adjusting to DST?  Any evidence of Spring in your neck of the woods? I saw the first daffodil of the season yesterday in a neighbor’s yard.  Squee!

Live, love, bark! <3

Guilty as Charged

imageWith tons of dog shaming photos and videos buzzing around social media these days, it got me to wondering, do dogs feel shame or guilt? Everyone will tell you their dog ‘knows’ when he’s done something bad; he’ll hang his head or go to another room out of shame, but is it really shame or remorse that he’s feeling? I thought maybe for just a nanosecond it might be in Sam’s case, but research suggests otherwise.

Oh, you know that look and exactly what it looks like: pathetic, hangdog look often times with lowered head, ears back and a soulful “I’m so sorry, it won’t happen again” pleading from his eyes. It’s next to impossible to catch Sam on the sofa though I know he’s been on it due to the obvious indents on the pillows (despite the rule that dog must be invited in order to lounge on furniture–whether it’s on the sofa or the bed). I can’t decide if he’s actually sorry for disobeying the rule or so excited to see me or some combination of heaven only knows with that dog because he always jumps down before I can whip out a camera and photographically bust him.

A 2009 study suggested that ‘guilty’ look is in response to being scolded and not from any real feelings of shame. A Barnard College psychology professor put a number of dogs through a series of trials to see how they reacted when their owner told them not to eat a treat and then left the room. Naturally some ate the treat, others did not which lead Professor Horowitz to observe that the dogs assumed the “look” most often when the owners reprimanded them. While she didn’t rule out the possibility that dogs may feel guilt, she pointed out that ‘look’ isn’t necessary an indication of it. Of course, dogs (hopefully) learn from bad behavior but probably only based upon our reaction to what occurred which underscores the importance of catching them in the act so they will make the connection between good and bad behavior. All this prompted me to try a couple tests myself to confirm.

Recently I was able to bust Sam getting into something he shouldn’t have, I raised my voice and said “Oh Sam, what did you do?” spoken with a stern voice but with a slow cadence with pauses between each words and heavy emphasis on each word as well. Immediately that hangdog look took over. It was so pitiful, I actually chuckled inside because it was hilarious. I shooed him away knowing full well he’d back in a moment to investigate since he really hadn’t had enough time to quench his curiosity. And just as predictable as if he were some pre-teen, he was back in a few minutes sniffing and checking it out again. When I ‘caught’ him in the act again, I said nothing. He was a little confused and then followed me out of the room with his tail happily swishing as if I’d bestowed some awesome gift on this goofball. Of course I removed the curiosity so avoid this again.

Clearly my non-reaction was a better outcome for Sam and he proved it by being his usual goofy self, tossing his head, wagging his tail and trying to engage me in play. I guess the real take-away for me here is to make sure the house is completely baby’ proofed so that the opportunity for mischief is removed. We’ll both be happier and that’s the bottom line, right?

Do your dogs show you that ‘guilty’ look when you found they’ve committed some bad behavior? Did it make you secretly smile or be obviously cranky?

Live, love, bark! <3