Tuesday, November 25, 2014

#ShareGratitude: A Countdown of the Things Riley is Thankful For

10.  Being an only "child".  Riley + any other pet = trouble.  He wants us all to himselves, thankyouverymuch, and he's not afraid to show it!

9.  A nice warm bath on a chilly day.  Or maybe he merely tolerates the baths...he's happiest afterward, when he does joyful zoomies and shakes water everywhere.

8.  Mama.  I am okay with admitting that I'm second best in Riley's eyes - or, in this case, 8th best.  He shows his affection toward me only in private, when Jared has gone to work and no one is in the house to see him snuggle up in my lap.

7.  Fuzzy blankets, especially the faux-fur one at the foot of the bed.  Blankets for snuggling under when it's cold.  Blankets for digging in to build the perfect "nest".  Blankets to soil with saliva and little bits of treats.  All the blankets!

6.  Plush toys that squeak.  Bonus points if they have noses or eyes that can be torn off!  Or, even better, material that's easily ripped apart so as to get to the enticing stuffing inside!

Riley and his latest "victim"

5.  Walks, glorious walks!  In Riley's opinion, we are terribly negligent when it comes to walks.  He can never get enough!

4.  Curling up in his kennel.  Riley actually loves his kennel; it's not a punishment when we make him go in - he actually seems to see it as a reward.  He goes in there voluntarily quite often and drags a beloved toy in with him.  It's pretty adorable :)

3.  Long, luxurious naps.  Our boy can nap with the best of 'em.  He especially enjoys it when one of stays home from work sick, so he can have some company while he's curled up on the bed.

Riley and I on a sick day

2.  Treats, preferably soft and meat-flavored.  He could take or leave the biscuits - what a treat snob! :)

1.  Daddy.  Such a Daddy's boy, our Riley...and the feeling is definitely mutual!

"I love my daddy, guys."

And what are we thankful for?  Well, other than Riley, of course...Jared claims to be most thankful for family, video games, and baseball.  (Typical dude response, right?)  As for me, there are far too many things to list, but a few things that I absolutely would not be able to live without are family, books, and dogs.  And my BlogPaws pals, duh! ;)

What are you (and your pet) thankful for this year?
Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm joining Kitty Cat Chronicles, Cascadian Nomads, Oz the Terrier, Loved by a Collie, and many more in the #ShareGratitude Blog Hop!  Click the link above for more great blogs!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

5 Ways to Exercise Your Dog in the Winter

Baby, it's cold outside...but that doesn't mean you and your dog should laze around inside all day!  That snug bed might look tempting on a chilly day, but in the winter, your pup needs exercise more than ever.  Preparing your dog for cold weather is a necessity, and regular walks are encouraged if they're wearing the proper gear (coats, booties, etc.).  But there are also some great ways to exercise your pet inside, when those bitter winds are just too much to bear.

Bundle up that pup! (from here)

1.  Indoor games
Tug, fetch, and hide & seek can all be a good form of exercise for dogs.  Hide your pet's favorite toys and have him track them down.  Or, if your dog likes to scavenge, hiding his meals in different places around the house can be a fun challenge for him - both mentally and physically.

2.  Training 
Use the time indoors as an opportunity to teach!  Whether your dog struggles with "leave it", "come", or just basic tricks, practice makes perfect.  You can also use mentally stimulating toys (like a Kong) or a food puzzle to help your dog eat more slowly and keep himself entertained.

3.  Agility
If spending too much time in your own house is getting you down, consider scheduling a class for your dog.  Though you can sign up for things like obedience, dog yoga, or swimming, agility is perhaps the most popular activity for dogs lately.  (And don't think you can only sign up for agility if you own a large and energetic breed - even breeds like the Shih Tzu can participate; just ask Christine over at Oh My Shih Tzu!)  If you're lacking the funds or time to participate in a class, you can set up a homemade agility course in your own home, using things like chairs, cushions, and hula hoops to give your dog obstacles.

"Look, Ma!  Papillons can do agility, too!" (from here)

4.  Involve your dog in day-to-day activities
Have some errands to run in this snowy weather?  Take your dog along with you!  Take him along to the bank drive-through, a dog-friendly coffee shop, or the pet store to pick out a new bag of treats.  It will be a nice break from your dog's typical activities, especially if he likes riding in the car.

5.  Play date or doggy daycare
Got a pup who's a bit of a social butterfly?  Think about taking him for a play date with a friend's dog or signing him up for a fun day of doggy daycare, which is often offered at local boarding facilities.  I work in a hotel for dogs that offers daycare, and it's loads of fun - we get the same dogs nearly every day, and they have an absolutely blast playing together!  I'm not a fan of dog parks, but it seems like daycare is much more organized and better supervised...most responsible facilities will also make sure all dogs are friendly and play nice before they are allowed into the general play area.

I can't believe this daycare managed such a great photo! (from here)

Psst!  Please keep in mind that as long as your dog is healthy, outdoor walks are still a great idea in the winter!  Just know your pet's limits - if you can barely stand the temperature, your dog can't either.  Also, a recent post from It's Dog or Nothing reminded me that lots of double-coated large breeds (like her gorgeous Pyrs!) actually don't like being indoors in the winter...it gets too hot inside for them.  So if that's the case for your pet, let them romp in that snow! :)

This gal doesn't look like she minds the cold at all!  (from here)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


My niece and her fur-sister Tia, both belly-up for the camera! :D

I'm participating in the BlogPaws Wordless Wednesday hop...click on the link above to check out more great blogs!

Monday, November 17, 2014

This is Why We Rescue

My Tuesday's Tails posts are so often filled with sad stories and animals who continue to sit in a shelter after years.  Today's post is different.  Today's post is packed with wonderful news.

Do you remember Rico?

Rico had been at the HSNI for close to a year...worse yet, it was his second time around in a shelter.  A few weeks ago, he found his forever family!  He doesn't have to wait behind bars anymore.  He has a home to call his own!  

Now, I know you remember Beau and Chachi, the sweet senior couple who everyone loved but no one seemed to want.  (Photos courtesy of HSNI and Arickx Photography)


I cried tears of joy when I found out that these little loves had found a home.  After over a year of waiting, Beau and Chachi finally got to meet their new family, an older couple with lots of love to spare.  I am definitely going to miss these two, but I'm overjoyed at their good fortune - I can't wait for updates!  

This is why we work so hard in rescue, isn't it?  This is why we bust our asses sorting through applications, driving across the state, shoveling poop, etc.  Happy endings like these make it all so worth it, am I right?  There's really nothing like a good rescue story to put a smile on your face :)  Thank you all so much for sharing Rico, Beau, and Chachi.  It's people like you that make all the difference.

Also, Goldie is still looking for a home.  Please share her story as much as you can <3

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Riley's in Doggy Jail...

Picture the following:  A husband and wife come home from a celebratory dinner, feeling happy and bloated from too much food.  "Don't forget to let the dog out!" the wife calls as she hangs up her coat.  (She says it nicely and not at all in a nagging way.  Just so you know.)

"Okay!" the husband yells back cheerfully.  But the wife notices that he heads into the bathroom first, then lingers in front of the mirror, then wanders into the laundry room.  "Honey?  Dog," she reminds him helpfully as she empties the dishwasher.  (See?  Still not nagging.)

The wife watches her husband dab some Tide To Go on a small barbecue sauce stain on his shirt, not at all in a rush, then heads to the bedroom to let the dog out herself.  "I got it!  I got it!" her husband shouts, rushing past her to open the dog's kennel.

As he reaches for the dog's leash, the dog jumps up onto the middle of the bed.  "C'mon, now," the husband says, laughing, and he heads toward the dog.  As if on cue, the dog casually lifts his leg...


Who was this naughty dog, you ask?

Need I say more?

(You may also ask why the wife didn't just take out the damn dog herself.  Well, this is because the wife makes her living letting dogs in and out, out and in, and sometimes she gets tired of doing it all over again when she gets home. :)  The wife also never nags her husband.  Never ever!)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Why Should I Adopt a Senior Dog?

One of the most heartbreaking things to see is a senior dog sitting behind bars in a shelter.  And it happens so often.  I am ashamed to admit that sometimes I scroll fast past a photo of an elderly dog with the caption reading "To be destroyed", because the sadness of it all can be overwhelming.  There are, after all, so many homeless senior dogs, and so few of those who can appreciate how wonderful old pets are.  I have met many senior pets within the past few years, and each has been more sweet and loving than the last.  Here's why you should consider adding an older dog to your family.

Fewer surprises - One of the top reasons for people returning a dog to a shelter is because they adopted the dog when it was a puppy and "didn't realize how big he was going to get."  Another reason is not doing enough research into the breed; for example, Australian Shepherd or Border Collie puppies will get adopted then returned because the family hadn't realized how much energy they'd have.  When you adopt a senior dog, what you see is basically what you get:  for the most part, their personalities are already formed, and their size isn't going to change.

Susie, of Susie's Senior Dogs (photo by The Dogist)

Less training - In general, adoptable senior dogs are fairly well-trained.  When I worked in a shelter, it was the older dogs who kept the cleanest kennels and seemed to be the most reliable in terms of "holding it."  Besides some training to work on his barking, our 8-year-old Riley came to us fully house-broken and even knew a few tricks when we adopted him.  Seniors are also calmer than puppies or young dogs, so chances are, they're easier to train.  In shelters, people tend to gravitate towards the adorable puppies, but older dogs don't come with the crazy energy and tendency to chew that puppies have!

Of course, everyone knows and loves Sugar of Golden Woofs (photo from this post)

ALL THE NAPS! - I won't deny it:  I'm a total couch potato.  It would be unrealistic for me to adopt a high energy dog or puppy.  And that's the beauty of a senior dog - in general, they are very chill and make the best nap partners!  Though there are many seniors out there who still act years younger, my dog is the perfect mix of play and sleep.  If you're used to livin' the lazy life, consider a senior dog to keep you company!

A 16-year-old Cairn Terrier mix, photographed by Pete Thorne (photo from here)

They're adorable! - Let's face it, dogs only get cuter with age.  Nothing is sweeter than a furry face with a greying muzzle, and I think society (or at least social media) is starting to embrace that.  Sites like Buzzfeed are constantly sharing photos or stories about senior pets, and often the Instagram pets that get the most "likes" are older animals.  Even better, organizations like Susie's Senior Dogs are popping up everywhere, aiming to find perfect homes for senior adoptables.

This sweet older girl is a frequent guest at our doggie hotel!

Save a life - Senior dogs are often the first ones to be euthanized if a shelter is short on space.  They are constantly looked over in favor of dogs who are younger, healthier, cuter, etc.  Saving an old dog feels good, and it's highly rewarding.  The bond you and your dog will form after you have saved his life is an amazing thing, and he'll be devoted to you for the rest of his days.

What do you love about senior dogs?  Share in the comments! :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

On the Road Again: (Mostly) Wordless Wednesday


Check out these three cuties!  Over the weekend, Jared and I helped transport Scruffy the Schnauzer mix, Presley the Boxer, and Precious the Chihuahua to a rescue in Wisconsin.  We were pretty lucky with who we got for passengers, because they were three of the sweetest dogs I've ever met - super loving and cuddly.  For those of you looking for different ways to volunteer, I highly recommend getting involved in transports.  They're so much fun!

I'm participating in the BlogPaws Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop.  For more great pet blogs, click on the photo above!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Tuesday's Tails: Adopt Talea and Suchin

As you probably already know, November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month.  I am the proud owner of a senior pet, and I can honestly say they are some of the best companions out there!  Riley is a perfect mix of playfulness and couch potato, as are most senior pets, and we can't wait to add more senior pets to our home one day.  In honor of this special month, I'm featuring all senior adoptable pets on the Tuesday's Tails Blog Hop.

This week's pair of adoptable animals comes from Utah's Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.  Best Friends always has wonderful adoption promotions depending on the season or month, and November is no exception - this month, the sanctuary is offering senior adoptions for free!  That's right:  if your adoption is approved and you've applied for a senior pet, the sweetheart can be yours for no cost!  (Photos from Best Friends)

Take a look at this face!!  This precious gal is Talea, a senior Beagle at Best Friends.  Talea doesn't like cats very much, but other than that, she would fit great into any home.  Here's what the staff has to say about her:

"Talea will draw you in with her unusual and beautiful eyes.  But this girl is all Beagle; she loves scouting new smells and going for walks.  She also really loves food.  Born in 2005, Talea came to Best Friends from a rescue group in Tennessee.  She is wiggly and happy, and gets along great with other dogs.  She knows her perfect home is out there, and she'll keep wagging until she finds it."

And this here is Suchin, a senior Siamese with a sweet disposition.  Don't be fooled by that grumpy face - she is super friendly and loves people!  Here's what Best Friends said about Suchin:

"Suchin is a shy and beautiful Siamese cat.  She was born in 2002 and came from a feral colony.  Surprisingly, she's interested in people and in receiving affection.  She enjoys being petted and kissed on the head.  She is fine around other cats and the cats in her room here are very friendly and kind to her.  She's an older girl who'd love to be able to live out her days in a home of her own."

Adorable, right?  And if you're the right home for Suchin or Talea, you could adopt them (with no fee!) during the month of November!  If you're interested, please contact the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

5 Ways to Keep Your Dog Healthy and Warm This Winter

Guess what the forecast is in Iowa this week?  Snow.  And not just a light dusting...a whole lotta snow.  

Needless to say, we are kind of dreading it.  The first few days are always very pretty and peaceful, and it's fun to step out into a glittering, white flurry of flakes the first day of the season.  And who doesn't love a white Christmas?  But then the snow stays.  And stays and stays.  And along with the snow comes problems:  Shoveling.  The flu.  Icy roads.  But also painful paw pads, dry itchy skin, and changes in diet and grooming.

It can be tough for your pet to adjust to a new season, but you can help winter-proof your dog by following these five tips.

1.  Protect those paws.  That frozen ground is painful for your dog's sensitive paws!  Frostbite, ice melt irritation, and cracking/drying are just a few of the risks involved when your dog steps out into the snow.  Think ahead by buying some booties for your dog to wear outside.  You can also treat dry and cracked paws, nose, and skin with soothing balms.  More info can be found here.

2.  Update your dog's wardrobe.  Besides the protective booties, think about dressing your dog in a warm coat or sweater when he goes outside.  Senior, underweight, or small dogs are particularly sensitive to cold weather.  A dog's fur coat alone isn't enough to protect them from bitter winds, especially if they spend a lot of time outside.

3.  Stay smart when outside.  Know your dog's limits - if your teeth are chattering, chances are that your dog's are too.  If you have an elderly or very young dog, consider keeping a pee pad inside for the very coldest of days.  Keep your walks short and brisk, and always watch your pup closely - more dogs go missing in the winter than any other time of year.  Don't let your dog eat too much snow, since it can cause stomach upset in large amounts.  And whatever you do:  Keep your dog nice and dry!  A dog's coat retains water, and once it's wet it takes a very long time to dry; this is especially dangerous in the winter because of the risk of hypothermia.

4.  Winterize your dog's grooming habits.  A longer fur length than usual can help protect against cold temperatures.  Embrace the shaggy! :)  Trim nails and groom paws more often to keep an eye out for irritated pads.  Be sure your dog is completely dry after bathing before taking him outside.  Also, consider your dog's diet:  Since he will be spending more time indoors and most likely getting much less exercise, adjust their food accordingly.  

5.  Know the symptoms of winter-related illnesses.  Hypothermia, frostbite, ice melt irritation, and antifreeze poisoning are all things to watch out for during the winter season.  It's also important to pay attention to your pet during the holidays - with all of the ribbon, gift wrap, and Christmas candies around, your dog might be tempted to ingest something harmful.  For more information on winter-related health conditions, click here.

Stay warm out there! <3

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Secret Language of Dogs

I work in a dog hotel, so I have heard a lot of different types of barks.  The scream.  The howl.  The yip.  The "woof".  I've heard them all...so many times, in fact, that I've learned which noise belongs to which dog.  They have a language all their own - the Jack Russell's yips mean Take me out and throw a ball for me, please, while the Beagle's whines mean Get in here and rub my belly!

This made me think about Riley's "language" and what his different sounds might mean.  Though I'm sure there are others, here are Riley's top 8 sounds, translations included:

Ruh!  Ruh!  Ruh! - "You left me alone at home for way! too! long! and I am soooo excited to see you!" or "Stop kissing/hugging/tapping each other on the shoulder, Mom and Dad!  I am the only one in this house who gets physical affection!"

Rrrrrr... - "Oooohh, rubbing my head into the couch cushions feels so good!" or "I want to play and you are ignoring me!  Throw my toy immediately!"

Roorooroo! - "I just heard the words 'go for walk' come out of your mouth and I am just! too! excited!"

What?  Did you just say the magic 'W' word?!

Ack. - "Whoops.  I drank too much water too quickly...and some came back out onto the carpet.  Sorry..."

Yip! - "Dammit, Dad!  You stepped on my paw again!" or "I am asleep and having a very exciting dream so please don't disturb me, okay?"

Jingle, jingle... - "Excuse me.  Excuse me?  It is very late at night and you guys are sleeping...but I really need to go pee.  So I will just sit here and scratch at my collar."

Soooo...is anyone going to take me outside?  Anyone?

Snuffle snuffle... - "Why is the door shut?  I know you're in there..." or "You came home from work smelling like other dogs!  How dare you?!"

Burrrrp. - "Thank you for the delicious treat." (Seriously, Riley's burps could win a contest.  I've never heard anything like that from a dog.  They sound like a human man's belch - it's crazy.)

What about you?  Does your dog have a language all his own?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I'm All Packed and Ready to Go, Mom!: (Mostly) Wordless Wednesday

This is a take from our travel-themed photo shoot for the BlogPaws contest.  Riley is always a willing model, especially when there's treats involved!  I think at this point in the shoot, we kept repeating, "Treat?  Treat?!" to get him to cock his head.  Pretty cute result though, no? :)

Click the link above to check out more blogs participating in the BlogPaws Wordless Wednesday hop!