Thursday, July 31, 2014

Writing Process Tour

The very sweet Kelsie over at It's Dog or Nothing has invited me on this blog tour, which is all about the writing process I use!  Lots of pet bloggers have been participating - it's not only fun and interesting to learn more about my blogging friends, but it's incredibly informative as well.  Let's face it; we've all hit those road blocks when writing, and we could all use an extra dose of inspiration once in a while.  The writing process blog tour has definitely helped me in my writing - lots of great ideas on how to organize your time and thoughts!

1.  What am I working on?
In between working, volunteering, and blogging, my husband and I have been working on getting much more involved in the "behind the scenes" action of animal rescue.  We have participated in several dog transports, and we are definitely looking to do more of those (at least one a month!).  We have also started to get some plans together for several fundraisers...rescues are always in need, and we're excited to raise some much-needed money and supplies for our local shelters!

Besides that, I always have plenty of blogging ideas in the works.  My list of "things to blog about" is currently just over 4 pages long in an MS Word document. :)  I have also been working on a novel, although I have been slacking terribly - I don't think I have even looked at it for about two months.  It is something I'd like to finish, though for now I can't look at it without thinking "bad writing."  One day! :)

2.  Why do I write what I do?
The reason I started this blog was simple:  I wanted to help animals.  After leaving my job at the local humane society due to health issues, I felt rather helpless; I also had a lot of spare time on my hands and wanted something constructive to do with it.  So, Second Chances was born!  Although I share funny stories and photos sometimes, as well as information about dogs and animal rescue, the main goal of this blog is to help animals in need and inspire others to do the same.

I am absolutely thrilled with the community I have been a part of for close to 6 months now!  I have connected with many wonderful people across the globe, and I love the kind home I have found here on the Internet! <3

3.  How does my writing process work?
LOL writing process?  What writing process?!  No, but seriously, I don't think I have one.  So many great bloggers talk about having a schedule and writing at a certain time of day, etc.  I always think, Wow, that's a great idea!  And then I never follow through.

While I have a long list of ideas, I never stick to a schedule of what to write about.  I choose a subject almost at whim, though I try to always stick to the "Tuesday's Tails" Blog Hop for animals in need.  Lately, I have been writing posts the night before, putting them up at midnight for the next day - I'm a night owl!

This isn't the most productive or effective way to do things - I am sure I would be better off scheduling my posts beforehand.  But I've never been much of a planner.  It works for me, anyway, for now :)

The two blogs I am inviting to continue the writing process blog tour are Waggy Tales and Let's Go Dog.  I have been admiring both bloggers for a while now, and I'd love to learn more about their writing process!  I encourage you to check them out, as well as It's Dog or Nothing - thank you, Kelsie, for inviting me on the tour!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Funny Face: (Mostly) Wordless Wednesday

Check out this handsome mug!
(If it's not obvious by now...I love my new job!)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Tuesday's Tails: Xander's Story

Before I kick off this week's Tuesday's Tails, I want to say thank you all so much for all of your kind words regarding my embarrassing incident at my new job.  It meant more to me than you know, and I love being a part of this blogosphere full of kind, caring animal lovers!

Now, I'm sure everyone remembers Goldie, the stubby-tailed Golden with a tragic backstory.  She's been a recurring "guest" on my blog (I've talked about Goldie here, here, and here).  Recently, thanks to the Executive Director of the HSNI, Goldie was featured on Susie's Senior Dogs!  If you're not familiar, Susie's Senior Dogs is an organization that works their tails off to promote the adoption of senior dogs.  They have had amazing success in the past of helping find elderly animals in need their forever homes.  Goldie's story brought in a lot of comments, shares, and likes...but no forever home.  :(  Many people's responses tend to be..."I wish I could take her, but..."  Though Goldie's special person hasn't shown himself yet, I am crossing my fingers that Susie's Senior Dogs can still help this sweet, playful girl!

The adoptable dog I am sharing with you today should also be familiar if you've been following the blog.  His name is Xander, a pittie puppy who came into the shelter at a heartbreaking 11 pounds.

Xander at his thinnest (photos courtesy of HSNI)

Discovered to have a problem with his esophagus that caused him to regurgitate everything he ate, Xander required an expensive and serious surgery.  7 months later, he is fully recovered and almost up to normal weight!  As you can imagine, Xander's tale got a lot of attention - but, for whatever reason, he is still without a home!

Almost a year old, Xander is one of the most well-behaved dogs I've ever come across!  His manners are impeccable, and his charming personality has made him a staff favorite at the shelter.  He is only a puppy still, yet Xander knows how to sit, stay, wait, and shake!  Xander, while still small for his age, is also growing like a weed - every time I see him, it amazes me how much he's grown...which, to be honest, breaks my heart.  No dog should have to grow up inside a kennel.  

Xander today! (photo courtesy of Southern Belle Photography)

I can't even imagine what kind of horrors may have gone on in Xander's life before he was found wandering in an alley.  But through it all, he remained the same charming, loving, sweet guy we know today.  And seriously?  How can anyone resist those gorgeous gray eyes, his cute little tongue (which is out just a tiny bit whenever he is offered a treat!), and those silly ears?!  If you'd like to give Xander a forever home, or maybe you know someone who could, please contact the HSNI.  Honestly, I envy whoever is lucky enough to adopt this guy - he is one of the sweetest and smartest dogs ever!

Thank you so much for reading and sharing <3

Sunday, July 27, 2014

One Sloppy Eater!

Riley is a very spoiled guy, preferring to enjoy his treats and bones on our bed.  As soon as he's got a treat clenched in his jaws, he races from the kitchen, sprints to the bedroom, and plops himself on the bed.  The usual outcome is...

A great big gloppy mess!

Here Riley is trying to get himself a belly rub after making a mess of our new sheets!  Notice the saliva-soaked paws...

But truth be told, I care about my adorable pup a whole lot more than I care about any bedding.  :)  I can never resist this face!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

As It Turns Out, Everything Happens for a Reason

Not so long ago, I shared a little humblebrag post about how I had just gotten the job of my dreams at an animal hospital.  I don't know if any of my readers have noticed, but I've been awfully quiet about that job ever since.  I am rather ashamed to admit that I only lasted a day there.  My face is turning red as I type this - what an embarrassment.  Up until now, the only people who know this are my husband and family.

I have a condition that can cause me to go into these episodes of extreme nausea and dizziness, that often result in my passing out.  (Please click the link if you'd like further explanation.)  It can be exacerbated by things like heat, dehydration, stress, exercise, and, apparently, gluten.  Since cutting gluten out of my diet six months ago and adjusting some medications, I have it under control.  However, I am still sort of an easy fainter - but never at the sight of blood.

I'm adding some cute photos of Riley to make this post more tolerable.  Here is Riley choosing to eat his bone on my bra.  Sigh...

I was having a wonderful first day at the animal hospital.  A very nervous senior dog had just come in for some dental work, and I was assisting the vet while he drew the trembling dog's blood to test for any negative reactions to anesthesia.  As I watched the vial fill slowly up with dark red blood, I glanced down and saw that the poor dog had lost control of her bowels due to nervousness.  I thought, Oh, the poor thing, and got back to the task at hand.  Then stars passed suddenly in front of my eyes, and my hearing changed slightly.  You're going to faint, a small voice in the back of my head told me.

No...I'm not!  I never get queasy about needles or blood!  That's ridiculous.

Maybe so...but you're definitely going to faint.  I knew the symptoms all too well - the ringing ears, tunneling vision, nausea.  My nose filled with the metallicky smell of blood as I backed up to try to sit down, and the last thought I had was, You're smelling the dog's fear.  Then I hit the floor, eventually waking up in a cold sweat with the vet rubbing my back.

"I don't know why this happened," I told him, trying to laugh it off.  "I never get like this about blood and needles."  But he sent me home anyway, and I felt so sick with embarrassment that I wanted to sink through the floor - I'm sure this is more than my readers want to know, but sometimes, for whatever reason, I lose control of my bladder when I pass out...and of course that had happened too.  On my first day at the job.  Of course.  I felt nothing but humiliation as I drove home.

LOL look at this stud-muffin!!

Curious to see if it was, in fact, the dog's blood and vulnerability that had made me faint, I watched some videos of medical procedures being done on dogs later on that night.  Sure enough...the feeling came back and I was on the verge of passing out before I quickly closed the browser.  I felt sure that it would happen again.  And, at the risk of being judged and thought a wuss, I didn't go back.  I couldn't imagine facing the coworkers that I had fainted in front of (not to mention peed my pants in front of...) and possibly run the risk of it happening again.  The vet was a very good sport about the whole thing, which I so appreciated.

Still in need of a job (and wanting one that dealt with animals), I decided to take a chance and fill out an application at a local luxury hotel for dogs, though they weren't advertising an opening.  At the same time, I had been emailing back and forth with a new rescue in the area called Wags to Riches.  After an interview, I got an email from the founder of the rescue...turns out, she works at the hotel as well!  I had been corresponding with her for weeks without realizing!  After that promising sign, I got the job and have been working at the Bark Break Hotel since.

My two guys <3

To make things even more strange, an entry about the Bark Break Hotel was one of my very first blog posts here...AND we found out that one of the owners had randomly been present at the humane society when a Pekingese bit me - in fact, he had been holding the leash of the dog!  Too many odd coincidences for it to be anything other than fate :)  The founder of Wags to Riches has since put me on the Board of Directors for her new rescue, and while I am not yet quite sure what that position will entail, I sure am excited to find out. :)

If the passing-out-and-peeing incident had never happened...well, I would have been spared the humiliation...but I never would have applied at Bark Break Hotel.  As it is, I love my new job.  It's very refreshing to see a dog excited to be boarded or arrive at "doggie day care" wagging their tail and playing.  Don't get me wrong, some of the work is tough and physically exhausting...but basically, I play with dogs (of all sizes and breeds) all day - how many people can say that?!  I'm so lucky <3 (but hey, let's all knock on wood for me, yes?  No more fainting :) )

The Thug Life

Thank you so much for reading this tiresomely long post! :D  Have a great weekend.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Dirty White Dog Hits Instagram!

We are all very pleased to announce that this dapper gentleman is now on Instagram!

Expect to see lots of adorable outfits...

some videos of Riley's silly quirks and habits...


and some pics of us, too! :)  Follow @dirty_white_dog on Instagram to see more!  The username comes from the nickname my dad calls Riley :)  Follow us, and we will follow you back!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Seriously Great Book: Travels with Casey

I was seriously flattered and pumped when Leah over at Let's Go Dog put me in touch with a publisher, who sent me an advance copy of Benoit Denizet-Lewis' book:  Travels with Casey.  This easy-to-read memoir/travelogue revolves around all things dog, and it is available for purchase on July 22.

(photo from Goodreads)

Most books about animals that I've read tend to fall prey to sentimentality, sappiness, or an unnecessarily heartbreaking ending.  Happily, Travels with Casey did none of these, and I gave it a rare 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads!  I am not exaggerating when I say I loved just about everything about this book:  the chapter titles ("In which Casey and I encounter cats, cows, PETA, and the 'dog-poop lady'"), the places the author ventured to, and the author's way with words.

The book started off on a rather sad note:  the author is under the impression that his dog doesn't like him, worrying that Casey would rather be elsewhere..."By elsewhere, I didn't mean in a different house or in a different neighborhood.  I meant with a different human."  To try and bridge the gap in the bond between human and dog, Lewis goes off on an RV adventure with Casey, traveling across the country to learn more about his canine companion and others like him.

The pair travels to a well-known dog park, the Westminster Dog Show, a pet expo, even to visit Cesar Milan!  A stop that was of particular interest to me was a visit to the PETA founder, Ingrid Newkirk.  Now, I knew that PETA had some rather radical ways of going about things.  Turns out there are some dirty little secrets about the organization that I was completely unaware of - I found this portion of the book fascinating and also rather horrifying!  I also appreciated that Lewis made a stop at Utah's Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, a magical-sounding place that I have wanted to visit for some time now.

A map of some of the places the pair visited (via the author's Facebook page)

One place where the author and I did not agree?   The tendency of dog-lovers to compare their love for their pet with their love for a child.  "Although I adore dogs, I'm surprised when I hear people equate their love for their pets with their love for their kids," Lewis writes.  He goes on to imply that such a thought is a "sign of insanity", that it is ridiculous to compare the two kinds of love.  I understand where this comes from, but I have no children - I have my dog.  And I love my dog, if not as much as I could love a child, certainly as a pampered and beloved companion and friend.  I don't know - what are my fellow bloggers' thoughts on this?

I would highly recommend this book to anyone, though of course dog-lovers might appreciate it most.  Travels with Casey reminded me quite a bit of A. J. Jacobs' book Drop Dead Healthy, in which the author makes it his goal to learn about and experience all sorts of different trends in dieting and exercise.  In both memoirs, it was clear that there had been a LOT of research; however, the writing is so easy and fun to read that it doesn't seem like a research-heavy book.  It is a rare find - both informative and entertaining.  Although, readers be warned:  Don't pick this book up if you're easily offended by a couple of F-bombs.  (In my case, I say the more the merrier, so I had no issue!) :)

Before I go, I want to share with you one of my favorite passages from Travels with Casey, in which the author is learning to do "doga" (yoga with your dog) on the beach:  "I watched as she effortlessly incorporated Curli...into many of her poses, including lifting him high into the air for her Warrior Pose.  Curli looked like he'd been there before, and he almost seemed to smile as the wind rustled through his shaggy white fur."  So cute. :)

Fun fact:  Riley's name was once Casey! :)

My request to the author:  A sequel to Travels with Casey in which you travel around the world and learn about how other cultures treat dogs differently?!

A huge THANK YOU to Benoit Denizet-Lewis, Simon & Schuster, and Leah at Let's Go Dog for my advance copy of this wonderful book!  Disclaimer:  I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.  I received no other compensation, and all opinions are my own.

Visit the author at:
Facebook:  Travels With Casey
Instagram:  travelswithcasey
Twitter:  @BenoitDLewis #TravelsWithCasey

You can also visit
Happy reading! :)

Monday, July 14, 2014

True (Dog) Life: Frozen Things Terrify Me

Mom tells me today is something called "Tasty Tuesday", and that means she is going to make me some yummy homemade treats!  I'm so excited!  Can every day be Tasty Tuesday?

Mom and Dad are banging around the kitchen and making lots of noise.  I do not care so much for the loud noises, but I would like to stay because of all the good smells in this room!  Also, I love my dad and never want to leave his side.  Dad is the best.

(Editor's note:  Riley is ALWAYS underfoot in the kitchen!)

Mom tells my dad that she ordered this thing called a Kong tray...I do not know what a Kong tray could be, but it comes with little packets full of delicious-smelling powder.  So I think maybe a Kong tray belongs in my tummy?

Dad plugged his nose while Mom dumped the chicken-flavored packet into a big bowl and mixed it with a cup of water.  He said that it smells gross.  Dad is crazy!!

Mom had Dad cut up some apples into teeeeeny, tiny pieces.  A chunk fell on the floor, and they didn't seem to I ate it.  Shh, don't tell!  

Dad wanted to take a picture once the apple pieces were mixed with the chicken soup stuff, but Mom said no because it looked like vomit and wouldn't be pretty on the blog.  (What is a blog?)  So it all just got dumped into the white tray.

Why the white tray and not my mouth??  :(

Then Mom got out a new bowl and a jar full of brown sticky stuff that smelled like what dreams are made of.  I got in trouble because I kept jumping up to see what was in there.  :(  

Then Dad ate half of a banana and dumped the rest in the bowl.  Then they put more water in there and mushed it all up.  I even saw Mom stick her finger in the bowl and lick it!  Not fair.  It all got dumped into another side of the white tray.  (That white tray is stealing all my treats?)

(Editor's note:  Left side peanut butter, right side chicken/apple)

(Editor's note:  To make the chicken soup-flavored frozen treats, mix the Kong powder, a cup of water, and a single apple slice cut into tiny pieces.  For the peanut butter treats, mix a big spoonful of peanut butter, a cup of water, and half of a mashed up, overripe banana.  Super easy stuff!)

They opened the Mean Freezer, and I ran to hide.  The Mean Freezer is where something they call the "ice maker" lives.  The Ice Maker is a mean man who lives inside the Mean Freezer - he makes loud clunking sounds that make me shiver and tremble.  I hate the Mean Freezer!  

They told me my treats would be "ready later," and they gave me one of my new lamb-flavored chewy treats instead.  I was mad at first, but...a treat is a treat.

Hours later, the white tray got taken out of the freezer, and Dad popped out this hard, cold blob and tried to give it to me.  It smelled really good, but it was so cold on my tongue!  I just wasn't sure.  Mom and Dad put the good-smelling hard things in my food bowl and stared at me...and then Dad picked up the bowl, and I heard it.  A noise like the Mean Freezer makes.  Every time he moved the bowl, the noise came again!  


Nope.  Nope.  Nope. 

After that, I wanted nothing to do with those "frozen treats."  I shook and tried to hide under the bed.  I think Mom felt sorry for me, and she tried to get me to come out using little pieces of cheese.  But Dad said, "All that work for nothing!"  I do not think he was happy with me.  I came out from under the bed after that; I had to protect my parents from the Ice Maker man inside the Mean Freezer.  Especially my dad.  Who I love.  

Don't worry, Dad.  I got you.  Lemme just snuggle a little further into your armpit...

Friday, July 11, 2014

Cyber Saturday

This week, BlogPaws put up two great and very helpful posts:  the first was another list of blog prompts - great ideas to get you inspired for the whole month of July!  My personal favorite?  Describe your house from your pet's perspective - so fun!  The second was called "Five Ways Your Pet Blog Can Soar".  Very motivating, as usual!

(Photo from here)
BarkPost featured a great little list of stores that are pet-friendly, featuring the always adorable Instagram pups, Henry and Penny.  Some of the stores were surprising - for example, did you know Bed Bath & Beyond allows dogs?  I sure didn't!!

(Photo from here)
I LOVE the Monday Miracles feature on Dogster, and this week's superstar was Nubbles!  Nubbles is a chihuahua born with only two legs; he sometimes uses a wheelchair, but he often just hops around on his back legs!  I just love him; Nubbles seems to live a normal life despite the missing limbs - what an inspiration!

Dogster also posted an article all about how to combat seasonal allergies.  Riley has environmental allergies, and his paws are constantly pink due to all his licking and nibbling.  I always feel so bad for the poor guy, so these tips were much appreciated!

(Photo from here)
Dog Milk is one of my favorite sites, and this week, they introduced me to Jesse Freidin, a doggie photographer who has turned his camera on something new...shelter volunteers!  His photos strive to show off the special relationship between volunteers and shelter animals.  Being a volunteer myself, I absolutely love this - and I'm pretty sure I need that "Rescue is the new black" tee! :)

Have an amazing weekend!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Walking Dogs to Lose Weight

For the past 6 months or so, I have been the biggest couch potato you've ever seen.  I'm not kidding.  Don't get me wrong - I do things in between all the Netflix and Internet-surfing.  I write (I am currently working on a novel, though I realize it's kind of a long shot), volunteer, and blog.  Blogging eats up quite a bit of my time.  There's just so much involved in it:  writing your posts, planning your posts, promoting your posts, commenting and promoting others' posts, reading and researching other blogs, and the list goes on.  Though it's quite a bit of work, it's work that's primarily done sitting down.

Throughout these months, I have been slowly but steadily gaining weight...and so has my dog.  Plenty of research shows that how you care for yourself is basically the same way you care for your dog, and the habits that I am forcing Riley into are not healthy.  I reward myself for finishing a project with treats; I reward Riley after going potty with treats.  I am lazy; therefore, Riley is lazy too.  Our lifestyle needs to change.  Besides changing my own diet and trying to cut back on treats for the both of us, I want to get outside and exercise together!

"Seriously, Mom?  The Kardashians can wait until after our walk!"

I am terribly, horribly out of shape.  I was a cheerleader/dancer in college, but haven't done much in the way of exercise since (awful, I know).  Though I generally dislike exercise, I love walking...and I love dogs.  So what better way to get exercise than sticking to a schedule of walking Riley and volunteering at various shelters?  Here's how I plan to do this:

Get checkups!  Before getting into a more intense walking schedule, I'd like to get both myself and Riley to the doctor.  I have a heart condition that can cause me to pass out frequently, so I want to see what my cardiologist has to say.  Riley, at 8 years old, is considered a senior dog, so it's important to make sure that everything is in tip-top shape.

"C'mon, Mom, I wanna go pee on that mailbox!"

Make a schedule!  I'm thinking at least an hour spent walking with Riley daily, plus three days a week walking shelter dogs and playing fetch.  What do my readers think?  Is there an app for keeping track of this?

Check with neighbors and see if they'd like Fido walked!  We live in a small town that is absolutely full of dogs, and besides one very energetic Beagle, they very rarely get walked.  I'd love to at least offer!

Be smart and safe!  I hate to say it, but just like his Mama, Riley is very out of shape as well and gets tired fast.  Cold water will be a necessity on these walks, as will a harness for Riley and comfy shoes for me.

I'd also like to direct you to this website, which is a great movement all about the importance of walking shelter dogs.  It's an easy, fun way to get exercise, and the dogs appreciate it more than we know.  In some shelters, the only time those dogs get outside is when a volunteer walks them.  There really is nothing more rewarding than seeing the "grin" on a shelter pup's face after you've walked them!

Shelter dogs like Tipper LOVE to play fetch! :)

Are there any bloggers that would like to challenge themselves along with me?  I need to make some changes, and I'd love to be able to give one another encouragement and support, as well as hold each other accountable! :)  Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

National Geographic's Dogtown

I'm sure I am years behind on this, but have you guys seen the show Dogtown?!  It was a pretty short-lived documentary series (2008-2010) on National Geographic, featuring the stories of dogs in need at Utah's Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.  Since reading an issue of the Best Friends magazine a year ago and checking out the Dogtown book from the library - which was an amazing read, by the way - the show has been on my Amazon Wishlist.

Well, as you all know, I celebrated my birthday last weekend, and without realizing it, my husband gave me ALL animal-related gifts!  The Diagram of Dogs I have been wanting, a gorgeous pit bull print by Dean Russo, Tiny Confessions (a cute little coffee-table-type book), Dancing Dogs (a book of stories which I reviewed back when the blog first started), and a DVD set of Dogtown!  Sneaky Jared must have spotted it on my wishlist and decided to surprise me with it!

(Photo from here)

The show films at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, which is deep in the heart of the Utah canyons.  Generally, three dogs and their stories are featured per episode - including some of the Michael Vick dogs, a Bloodhound with a history of aggression, and a Shih Tzu with multiple health problems due to her life in a puppy mill.  The trainers and staff at Best Friends make it their goal to make the dog adoptable; this includes daily training and socialization, various tests, vet work, and fostering...and if, in the end, the dog is unable to find a forever home, it will still live a long, happy life at Dogtown.

That's the best thing about Best Friends:  the many dogs, cats, birds, farm animals, and "pocket pets" all have a home for life once they've arrived.  Even if they are deemed unadoptable, as some of the Michael Vick dogs were, they are still cared for and doted upon by staff members.  In my eyes, if animal shelters could be a bit more like Best Friends, the world would be a better place.

Jared and I cannot wait to make a trip to the sanctuary one day - the scenery is gorgeous, they always welcome volunteers, and there are multiple cabins in the area for guests to stay in.  Get this:  you can also take a dog or cat on a "sleepover," bringing them to your cabin to spend the night.  Not only is this a treat for you and the animal, it's also super helpful to the staff members, as you can update them on the animal's behavior and reactions to things.  There are several other things that make Best Friends seem like an incredible place:  their Guardian Angels program for special needs animals, the amazing adoption promotions, and Angels Rest, the final resting place for hundreds of animals who have crossed the Rainbow Bridge.  

The gates leading into this very special place (photo from here)

So far, I have tried to keep myself from binge-watching the entire series.  We have watched three episodes, and each was as heart-wrenching and inspiring as the last.  (Yeah, you need tissues to watch this show, but it's definitely worth it!)  The story that really broke my heart was the story of Aristotle, a terrier mix with the worst skin condition I have ever seen.  Happily, though, Aristotle has since found his forever home! :)

This is Aristotle after treatment (photo from here)

For more information about Dogtown, visit the Best Friends website.  Have any of my readers visited the Best Friends Sanctuary?  Leave me a comment; I'd love to hear about it!  Thanks for reading :)