Monday, June 29, 2015

Therapy Dogs Visit the Library

In addition to blogging, volunteering, pet sitting, and substitute teaching, I am also director of our local public library.  (Yes, I wear many hats.  Though I am not nearly as busy as you might think.  I still have time for entirely too much Netflix.)  It's a fairly new job, though my mom is a librarian, so it's a familiar, comfortable environment for me.  One of the most enjoyable parts of being library director is planning fun programs to bring patrons in; this week will be our fourth session of the Summer Reading program for children.

This summer's theme is "Every Hero has a Story", and so far we have focused on superheroes, community heroes like policemen and firefighters, and, my favorite, animal heroes!  For this session, I really wanted to bring in someone with a therapy animal - I knew the kids would love it.  Well, I tracked down a lovely woman named Joyce, and she did me one better - she brought three therapy Shelties named Quick, Pete, and Eve!  I was a little nervous about this program.  I made sure to emphasize staying calm and relaxed, not grabbing for the dogs, and taking turns.  There was a bit of "I want to hold the dog, me!" and one fast movement that startled one of the pups, but overall they did very well.  The Shelties were gorgeous and SO turned out to be an awesome day!  

Joyce had a little presentation all planned out, with tricks and props and everything!  And I was proud of the kids, who came up with some great questions for her.  They also asked Joyce if she knew that dogs could "save people when they are drownding", which made me feel kind of proud since we had read a book earlier in the morning about a dog who did just that. :)  At the end of the session, I mentioned something about next week's program being "the last one" (our library does the program for 4 weeks at the beginning of summer), and one of the boys said, "The last one?!  NO!  Can't you make it go all summer?"  :)  Made the hard work all worth it!

This is Eve, who was by far the most petite of the trio!  She was also the most shy - Joyce explained that while she's wonderful with the elderly, kids are not Eve's favorite.  She did awesome, though...even with all these hands grabbing for her :)

Pete was all about the treats - and he used his sniffer on these tennis balls in a muffin tin... find the treats hidden under a few of them!

Our board president captured this awkward photo of me - I seem to be maniacally grinning about the fact that there's 3 dogs in my library.  I loved Eve so much - she sat beside me so prettily.  (And yes, my shirt does indeed say "Crazy Dog Lady".)

Quick was an expert - only two years old and starting his clicker training, he was on top of all his tricks!  Like sniffing out which box contained a small packet of cloves lightning-fast.  Quick also learned to put both front paws up onto a chair on command, though he had never done that particular trick before that day!

The kids colored, made animal masks, and created their own dog/cat art - I was quite proud of my rainbow French Bulldog collage ;)

Such beautiful and well-trained dogs - we loved having them!

And in keeping with the Sheltie theme today...

This beautiful girl is Prissy.  She is located at Underdog Rescue Minnesota and is 4 years old.  Prissy is sweet but very timid, particularly around strangers; however, she LOVES the outdoors and does great playing with other dogs.  Though she needs a bit of time to get used to someone, she is definitely worth getting to know :)  Please share Prissy's pretty mug on social media and help her find a forever home!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

How to Human, According to Riley

Do you know how to Human?  Well, I do, and I can teach you!  It is very important that us dogs can Human, because one day we will take over.  (It's going to happen for sure.  Have you seen how they go Potty?  They collect it.  In a giant porcelain water bowl - what's up with that?!)  There are many ways for us to Human - sitting upright on the couch (best to save that for when They aren't home), getting to know the neighbors, giving Them meaningful looks when we want something...the list goes on.  But today I'm going to teach you the art of Human Sleep.

Step 1:  Wait until your Mom or Dad gets up to go to the bathroom.  This might take some patience.
Step 2:  When you hear the bathroom door shut, make your move!  Creep up to take the empty place they left behind.  Be careful to move slowly, or you'll wake up whoever else is in the bed!
Step 3:  Carefully place your head onto the pillow.  They will have left behind a warm spot, which can be quite nice.  But I myself prefer a cooler spot just to the side of where they were laying.
Step 4:  Fidget and kick until the blankets cover you to your liking.
Step 5:  When you hear Them coming back, quickly close your eyes and make a satisfied, sleepy sound.  I tend to go with the, "snort, Snort, SNORT, sigggghhhhhhh..."  It's an old favorite, and it never fails to win Mom and Dad over.
Step 6:  Enjoy your Human Sleep!  If you've followed the steps correctly, They won't want to disturb you from such a comfy position.  You might even get some scritches behind the ears if you're being extra cute and convincing!

Remember, this is only one part of learning how to Human - there's lots more to learn, but practice makes perfect!  So go ahead - steal Their pillows!  (Let's face it, they're basically just rectangle-shaped dog beds anyway.)

Does your dog know how to Human?

xoxo Love Riley

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

It's Taco Time!: (Mostly) Wordless Wednesday

Since I missed Tuesday's Tails this week, I'm featuring an adoptable animal today instead.

I mentioned Taco in one of last week's posts, but I figured I'd share his photos again since I can't believe he is still at the HSNI!  He is just about as awesome as a dog can get!  Why, you ask?

Reasons to Adopt Taco:

1.  Who doesn't love a "Pocket Pittie"?  
2.  Those eyes, though.
3.  Leash-walking skills that cannot be beat (seriously, we were impressed)
4.  He's a leaner - you know the type.  Taco loves to snuggle into your legs if you're standing near him!
5.  Sits pretty for treats
6.  SO well-mannered for only 2 years old
7.  Um, photogenic much?!
8.  His petite body makes him the perfect size for doggie clothing/accessories!  Somebody get this guy a bow-tie, stat!
9.  ...Did I mention those eyes?
10.  Taco's got lots of personality... As you can see from his photos!  Clockwise from top left:  Happy-go-lucky; focused/"Give me dat treat, human"; "I want to lick your face please"; mid-woof!

What do you think?  Which face of Taco's is your favorite?  (My personal fave is the bottom right - that little tongue sticking out!) :)

Please share Taco with your friends to help find him a forever home <3

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

"Designer Dogs"...or Mutts?

Edited to add:  Please don't be offended by my use of the word "mutt".  I don't mean to use it in a negative way whatsoever.  I say it the same way I refer to myself as a "crazy dog lady" - happily and with pride!

During the first few months of my venture into pet blogging, I was just starting to dip my toes into the community.  I hadn't yet made any connections with brands - in fact, I'm pretty sure I didn't yet know that was possible!  I was in the phase where I was desperate for blogging buddies and more pageviews.  A new friend had just posted about the differences between reputable and backyard breeders.  In response to the article, I posted a comment about how I had purchased a puppy from a breeder before knowing anything about rescue, and how I was "so thankful" that looking back, the breeder was a very reputable one.

"We bought a Mal-Shi, and the breeder was wonderful!" is what I think my comment said.  

Sigh.  You guys, I didn't know.  When I posted that comment last year, I had NO idea that deliberately breeding mixed-breed dogs was not a good thing.  But I was in for a rather rude awakening.  Let's just say there were some emails.  "A breeder who sells mutts for a living shouldn't call himself a breeder at all!" one woman hissed.  (Okay, it was an email, so I don't know if she actually hissed...but the tone was definitely a "hissing" one.)  "I don't know what a "Mal-Shi" is even supposed to be, but I certainly hope you didn't spend hundreds of dollars on a mixed breed!  That would be a huge error in judgment!" another email announced.

(Photo found here; this link actually promotes "hybrid" dogs, calling them healthier than purebreds and more hypoallergenic.  Please note that I do not agree with this.)

I was hurt.  I was unpleasantly surprised.  I didn't know.  That's all I could say.  

I was 20 years old, and my now-husband had just proposed to me.  We were young, and silly, and eager to start a little family.  We wanted a puppy to complete that picture.  I had never set foot inside an animal shelter, and I don't think I had ever even heard the words "puppy mill" or "backyard breeder."  A family friend had just bought what she called a "Yorkie-Poo," and I thought it was the cutest thing ever.  I didn't think about unhealthy genetic traits...I didn't think about the cost.  (Which was...a lot.  *Hides under chair in shame*)

I didn't think, period.

Oh goodness, it's a "Boxbulliehuahua"!  (Photo from here)

The truth is, designer breeds are just mutts (which, in my mind, is not a negative word - I love all dogs, mixed or purebred) with fancy names.  Reputable breeders focus on breeding purebred dogs and passing down only the best genetic traits.  They don't focus on putting an $800 price tag on a breed that ends in "Poo" or "Oodle".  You can read here about the original creator of the Labradoodle, who regrets what he did (beginning the designer breed craze) and says, "I released a Frankenstein."  Purposefully cross-breeding, in all honesty, is irresponsible - it opens the dog up to a myriad of possible future health issues.  

The designer dog craze is only made crazier due to celebrities and their adorable pups, like Ashley Tisdale here with her "Maltipoo" (Photo from here)

Her name is Bella.  Jared was allergic to her, and the breeder (who, I will say, was a very nice man) told us we could bring her back.  Instead, Bella now lives with Jared's parents, my in-laws, and is devoted to picking on her big brother and barking at the neighbor dog.  She is a great dog and is so loved, and for that reason, I don't regret what I did.  But I know it's something I would never do again.  Mixed breed dogs who are just as cute and cuddly can be found at a rescue or shelter; plus, instead of spending a fortune, you'll be saving a life.  

This is Bella.  Hell yeah, she's cute!  ...So are the mixed breed dogs at your local shelter.

What do you think about "designer breeds"?  I'd love to know.

If you'd like to read more about this topic, the following links are great sources:

Monday, June 8, 2015

BlogPaws 2015: What I Learned

1.  Time management is super important at a conference like BlogPaws.  Ice cream socials, networking with brands, keynote speakers, one-on-one meetings, Yappy Hours, meals, workshops, Pawject Runway, awards ceremonies, and TONS of socializing and networking - that is just a portion of the BlogPaws experience.  The conference was 3 days long, and I still found myself missing out on things I wanted to learn about and people I wanted to connect with.

We did manage to connect with The Honest Kitchen, who we love!

I made it to most of the things I wanted to attend:  the Nose-to-Nose Awards Ceremony, the Rescue & Shelter Workshop, and the Photography with your Smart Phone session.  But I missed out on tons of stuff, mostly because I have poor time management skills.  (The irony of there being a session about time management and organization...which I slept through...does not escape me.)  Part of our problem was also that we were trying to squeeze in some sightseeing and shopping in addition to the conference.  If you aren't great at keeping to a schedule, BlogPaws might be a bit tougher for you.  It's a lot, and it can be overwhelming - though I hear it gets much easier once you're no longer a newbie. :)

It was due to this BOOKSTORE OF MY DREAMS (called BookMan BookWoman) that we didn't make it to the Pawject Runway. :(  But I'm gonna be may have been worth it.  I could have lived there.

2.  Positivity is key when it comes to blogging about animal rescue.  The Rescue & Shelter Workshop, featuring speaker Caroline Golon, was incredibly inspiring.  Caroline has raised more than $80,000 for animals in need, just from making good use of her blogs and social media - how amazing is that?!  What she focused on most was the importance of making posts that could be depressing into happy ones.  For example, instead of saying, "Buddy needs a home right away!!!", post something like, "Watch adorable Buddy dance for treats!" and include cute photos or videos.  If people suspect something might make them feel sad or upset, chances are, they'll scroll right past your post.  But let's face it - nobody can pass up a cat video.

Silly outdoor photos like these are easier to look at than depressing photos of animals behind bars.  (P.S:  This is Taco, one of the cutest "Pocket Pitties" I've ever seen!  He's available for adoption at the HSNI!)

3.  The PhotoShop Express app (free for iPhone and Android!) can turn a good photo into a great one.  Let me start off by saying that Alana Grelyak, the presenter at the Photography with your Smart Phone session, is an awesome speaker.  This session could have easily been boring, but she made it super fun and even used some attendees' photos as examples.  I did not even realize that a free PhotoShop app existed for my Android, but it does...and it's basically life-changing.

I used my Android to take this photo of Oh My ShihTzu's Riley, then used Photoshop Express to make it even better!

4.  BlogPaws is a great place for not only meeting friends, potential brands to work with, and adorable animals...but also finding new blogs to follow!  When I was planning for the conference, I anticipated meeting lovely people, cuddling with pets I had only ever met through a screen, and maybe finding a few brands to work with on the blog.  (And of course, all of this happened!  I seriously don't know if you could find a nicer group of people - even my husband kept commenting on the kindness of everyone we met!)  What I didn't necessarily think about was how much new reading material I would get!  I love finding new blogs with interesting, fresh content, and I found tons in Nashville.  My list of daily reads gets longer by the day.  Some standouts:  Amanda and Wynston's Dog Mom Days, Rachael and Kevin's My Dog Likes, and the very sweet Tiffany's Diamond Dogs were all added to my list during the conference.

We also got to meet Chilly - isn't he handsome?

I had also not been aware of Alana Grelyak's YouTube channel and blog "Cat in the Fridge" before attending her photography session.  I thought I'd check it out because she said she focused mostly on special-needs kitties.  The blog is, of course, fantastic and has such a neat design.  Before I clicked over to her YouTube channel, silly me had the thought, "Well, once you've seen one cat video, you've seen them all, right?"  Wrong!  Her videos are absolutely amazing and HILARIOUS!  If you haven't watched before, I suggest you do it immediately!  Definitely worth the click!

5.  Pet bloggers can change the world.  I say this without exaggeration.  I was blown away by all the good that the conference did for animals in need.  There were booths set up specifically to showcase adoptable animals.  Still other booths donated food to a rescue with each purchase or donated all proceeds to a shelter.  Each Nose-to-Nose Award winner received $500 to the organization of their choice.  During a lunch, 2,000 pounds of food was donated to a local shelter. In all, more than $18,000 cash and over 27,000 pounds of food was donated to animal shelters.  I mean...these aren't small numbers, people!  I find this so inspiring, and I feel pretty special to be a part of it all.


BONUS:  What did my husband learn?  Jared came into this fully expecting to be bored.  He thought it would be "all about me" and he wouldn't be interested in the sessions.  He admits today that he could not have been more wrong.  Jared was just as inspired by the sessions as I was, and he especially loved some of the creative ideas tossed around during the Rescue Workshop - he is now determined to start drawing cartoons/comics in order to promote adoptable animals!  He also kissed more dogs on the lips than I did...but I kissed a ferret and he refused :)  PLUS we got two bags full of swag, so one of them was donated to our local shelter!  If you're on the fence about bringing your significant other to BlogPaws next year, definitely bring 'em along - it's a good time for everyone!  We already bought our tickets for 2016!  :)  Phoenix, here we come!  Will you be joining us there??

Of course we had to pose with the adorable Cesar pup!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

BlogPaws 2015: (Mostly) Wordless Wednesday

Holy crap.  BlogPaws was so much fun, y'all.  (Can you hear my Nashville accent?!)  Lots of learning, lots of amazing people, and TONS of inspiration!  More pics to come...