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Jackson and the Tissue and the Angel Dogs in Our Life

Jackson, the Tissue and the Angel Dogs in Our Life

Jackson,  the Tissue and the Angel Dogs in Our Life

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Jackson and the Tissue and the Angel Dogs in Our LifeFriday was a hard day for my dog loving friends. For one friend it was the one year anniversary of the passing of her beloved Golden Retriever who passed away at just ten years old after a battle with hemangiosarcoma, a type of cancer. While I talked on the phone with her on Friday afternoon, one of my best friends was saying goodbye to her fourteen year old Labrador Retriever. That friend had spent at least a year agonizing over how her dog was feeling, if she was living a good quality of life or in pain, and when she would know that the time was right to make the hardest decision that any dog owner has to make.

Unfortunately I have been in both situations, I lost my Dutchdog to hemangiosarcoma and was in a similar decision-making process to my friend’s senior Labrador with my late Babe, so I could empathize with both of my friends. I had never met my friend’s Golden Retriever, but I felt like I knew him because of her posts, photos and videos of him on Facebook. I have laughed at his antics, cried when she shared with us that he was sick, prayed for him when he was going through treatment, cried again when he passed, and watched her share her memories of him in the year since she said goodbye.

With my other friend’s Labrador, I remember when she and her husband got her as a puppy, before they were married, before they owned a home, before they added human kids and another Lab to their family. We had all lived in Indiana, and around the same time they moved to Michigan and I moved to Illinois, so although I did not get to see her often, once again, I had fallen in love with her sweet dog through photos and social media posts and my friend’s stories of their life together. I have laughed and cried as I’ve followed her dog’s life, and I cried a great deal on Friday.

Yesterday, two days after her dog’s passing, I was sitting on my living room floor messaging back and forth with my friend and talking about how she, her husband, her kids and their other dog were all doing. I gave some suggestions on how to help the surviving dog through this time and I also mentioned that some of my friends referred to their late dogs as an angel and referred to them with that in their name, like Angel Dutch or Angel Babe, and how that might help her kids still remember their dog and understand that while she was no longer on earth, that their memories could live on.

We talked about the story of the Rainbow Bridge and how we both hoped it was real, and that over the course of our lifetime we might both have a small pack waiting for us. I mentioned how I picture all of my dogs, Babe, Dutch, and Maggie, all reunited as angels, pain free, and playing together. Maybe my Mom and our other late dogs Snoop, Cinder, Jake, and Beau are there, too, everyone reunited and happy, their bodies healthy again.  

Of course this conversation put me in tears again, and as I sat on the floor and typed in my phone and cried, I realized I had a tissue in the pocket of my hoodie, and I used it to wipe away my tears. Jackson and Tinkerbell had noticed that I was upset, and Tinkerbell had come and laid next to me, her beautiful head resting on my lap, her brown eyes looking up as if to say, “Momma, don’t be upset!”

Jackson came over to me and licked my face and nuzzled me, and just as I was in the middle of telling him that he was the sweetest boy in the world, he reached over and grabbed the tissue with his mouth, ripping it in half and stepping out of my reach. Before I could wrestle it from his mouth, he chewed and ate it.

“Jackson! You little sneak! I thought you were coming to comfort me, and instead you wanted my tissue,” I exclaimed, laughing at the whole situation as I looked at the half of the tissue still in my hand. He stood nearby, his ears perked up, head tilted, and his thick otter tail wagging playfully, as if he was laughing at the joke with me.

That simple moment was one of the hundreds of thousands of reasons why we love dogs so much, why they make the most magnificent friends and companions, and why it is so devastating when we have to say goodbye to them. You see, I actually think that it was all a plan to make me feel better.

Experts might say I am wrong, that dogs do not think like that, but I have seen the mind of Jackson at work. As my breeder said about him when we were trying to decide which puppy to take, “I think this puppy is going to grow into a very special dog,” and I can tell you that Jackson is one heck of a smart dog to the point where we call him the Sheldon Cooper of dogs.

I have seen him outsmart Tinkerbell hundreds of times with his wit and problem solving skills. I have watched him work hard to get some alone time for a tummy rub by luring her away with her favorite toy or moose antler, waiting for her to become involved in playing with it, and then laying back down next to me for a tummy rub without his kid sister interrupting him. I have watched him try to get her to come back inside the house so he can poop without his sister following less than six inches behind him. And I have watched him come when I called him, stop halfway to the house, turn around to go potty, and then resume obeying the recall command. So it is not out of the realm of possibility that he stole that tissue to make me laugh and stop the weird human crying thing that they know means we are sad.

God sent angels down to earth in the form of dogs with notes saying, "Don't judge... just love." The dogs ate the notes... but they keep trying to deliver the message.When I sat down to write this blog, I thought of a saying that I’ve seen from time to time across social media. It says, “God sent angels down to earth in the form of dogs with notes saying, “Don’t judge… just love.” The dogs ate the notes… but they keep trying to deliver the message.”

I love that quote, not just because of Jackson’s love of eating paper, but because it completely captures the essence of dogs and why we love them. Dogs love with their whole hearts. They don’t hold back their love, they just love us without judgement, in the purest and most gentle and honest way. But they are silly and playful, too, and they just seem to know what we need, like a gentle, loving nuzzle followed by stealing and eating the very tissue that I was using to wipe my eyes. Jackson’s antics did exactly what I believe he intended: I stopped crying and started laughing in that exact moment.

I think about the losses of Babe and then Dutch. Losing both of them broke my heart; in my book I talk about the devastation I felt and how each time I did not want to face the world for several days because of the agonizing pain. And then, by opening my heart and home again, I welcomed first Jackson and then Tinkerbell into my heart.

The “new” dogs never replace the dogs who have passed on to be angels; instead they simply join the ranks of the “heart” dogs who have come before them because the heart can hold as much love as you can feel. It is the reason they are so easy to love, such natural companions for humans, and also the reason that it is so devastating every time we have to say goodbye to them.

In the last several years I’ve been learning a lot about energy, the universe, and how even though our loved ones may not be in their physical bodies anymore, that their energy still remains with us. Although I do not want to get in a religious discussion or offend anyone who believes differently, I like this idea. It is soothing and positive.

I like the idea that my Mom’s energy is with me as I go through my day, giving me her strength and support even if she cannot be with me physically. I like the idea that the energy of my late dogs is also with me, so that not only do I get to live side by side with Jackson and Tinkerbell on this earth, but with Angel Babe, Angel Dutch, Angel Maggie, Angel Snoop, Angel Cinder, Angel Jake, and Angel Beau. They may not be here in the form that I want, so that I can touch and hug them, play fetch with them or get doggie kisses from them, but they are with me all the same.

In loving memory of Angel Chesney and Angel Shooter

 

 

 

Why Should I Take Classes on Dog Care?

Why Should I Take Classes on Dog Care?

Why Should I Take Classes on Dog Care? Dogs and humans have been living together for as long as 14,000 years. Whether dogs originally befriended us or vice versa is a topic that is heavily researched and discussed among scientists, but one thing is certain: dogs have come to rely on us more and more for every single one of their needs. Today, in our modern society and culture, our dogs depend on us for 100% of their care.

Even in the last few years, providing a healthy, happy life for our dogs has become more and more complex. From developments in food and nutrition, to new training methods and mindsets, to how we transport them in cars or prepare for emergencies, we have evolved for the better from the old days of “toss some food in a bowl and let them outside sometimes” as a dog care philosophy.

In fact, for new dog owners or for veteran dog owners who want to insure that they are providing the best care possible for their dogs and staying on top of the most recent knowledge, the amount of information online can be overwhelming and even downright terrifying!

Trust me, I know. I have been there.

I remember looking at young Jackson when he came home to us as an eight week old puppy, and thinking that I was responsible for his entire life, for every single one of his needs, from that day forward until he was a senior dog and would take his last breath with me by my side. Having lost two beloved dogs to cancer prior to getting him, I vowed at that moment to work nonstop to create the healthiest lifestyle that I could in order to keep him healthy and happy for as many years as possible. And so, a veteran dog owner with a brand new little life under my care, I created the Love, Laugh, Woof happy, healthy, holistic lifestyle for first Jackson and then Tinkerbell.

Now you can learn how to create a happy and healthy lifestyle for your dogs through my Love, Laugh, Woof, Learn educational sessions. Choose from one-on-one dog owner coaching, online educational webinars or group workshops to learn how to be the best possible owner, caretaker and companion to your dogs.

I combine my history as a corporate mentor and trainer with my lifelong expertise as a dog owner to guide you through the noise and the information overload that plagues so many people who are trying to learn about caring for their canine best friends.

Watch my video with 7 Reasons to Take Dog Care Classes with Love, Laugh, Woof:

Click on the photos below to learn more about each class:

 

Why Should I Take Classes on Dog Care?
Why Should I Take Classes on Dog Care?
Why Should I Take Classes on Dog Care? Dogs and humans have been living together for as long as 14,000 years. Whether dogs originally befriended us or vice versa is a topic that is heavily researched and discussed among scientists, but one thing is certain: dogs have come to rely on us more and more for every single one of their needs. Today, in our modern society and culture, our dogs depend on us for 100% of their care. Even in the last few years, providing a healthy, happy life for our dogs has become more and more complex. From developments in food and nutrition, to new training methods and mindsets, to how we transport them in cars or prepare for emergencies, we have evolved for the better from the old days of “toss some food in a bowl and let them outside sometimes” as a dog care philosophy. In fact, for new dog owners or for veteran dog owners who want to insure that they are providing the best care possible for their dogs and staying on top of the most recent knowledge, the amount of information online can be overwhelming and even downright terrifying! Trust me, I know. I have been there. I remember looking at young Jackson when he came home to us as an eight week old puppy, and thinking that I was responsible for his entire life, for every single one of his needs, from that day forward until he was a senior dog and would take his last breath with me by my side. Having lost two beloved dogs to cancer prior to getting him, I vowed at that moment to work nonstop to create the healthiest lifestyle that I could in order to keep him healthy and happy for as many years as possible. And so, a veteran dog owner with a brand new little life under my care, I created the Love, Laugh, Woof happy, healthy, holistic lifestyle for first Jackson and then Tinkerbell. Now you can learn how to create a happy and healthy lifestyle for your dogs through my Love, Laugh, Woof, Learn educational sessions. Choose from one-on-one dog owner coaching, online educational webinars or group workshops to learn how to be the best possible owner, caretaker and companion to your dogs. I combine my history as a corporate mentor and trainer with my lifelong expertise as a dog owner to guide you through the noise and the information overload that plagues so many people who are trying to learn about caring for their canine best friends. Watch my video with 7 Reasons to Take Dog Care Classes with Love, Laugh, Woof: Click on the photos below to learn more about each class:   [post_grid id="4026"]
creating a pet care binder
Workshop: Creating a Pet Care Binder
creating a pet care binderThis mini-course teaches you how to create a pet care binder in case someone else needs to take care of your dog, how to find a reliable dog care provider, and a list of people to keep in your life in case you need to travel or are unable to care for your dog for awhile.
compassionate pet owner
Workshop: The Compassionate Pet Owner
compassionate pet ownerLearn about ways to bond with your dog, understand how they think and learn, and put yourself in their proverbial paws. Leave this class with ten ways to bond with your dog. Click here to view scheduled classes Click here to schedule a FREE one-on-one coaching discovery call with Lynn
senior dog workshop
Workshop: Senior Dog Special Considerations
senior dog workshop Just like with aging humans, senior dogs need special care. Learn about changing dietary needs, the importance of more frequent vet visits, lifestyle adjustments, and keeping a sense of compassion as their bodies and minds change. Click here to view scheduled classes Click here to schedule a FREE one-on-one coaching discovery call with Lynn
food and nutrition basics
Workshop: Food & Nutrition Basics
food and nutrition basicsCut through the noise and hype that is out there about pet food, and learn about proteins, grains, K-cals, allergies and other basic information to help you easily understand what to feed your canine best friend. Click here to view scheduled classes Click here to schedule a FREE one-on-one coaching discovery call with Lynn
Creating a holistic lifestyle for your dog
Workshop: Creating a Happy, Healthy Lifestyle for Your Dog
This workshop focuses on providing a healthy lifestyle for dogs in three areas: mind, body, and environment. Topics include physical versus mental activities, food and nutrition, treats, lawn care considerations, cleaning products, and bedding and toy recommendations.   Click here to view scheduled classes Click here to schedule a FREE one-on-one coaching discovery call with Lynn Check out the video below to find out what it means to create a "holistic" lifestyle for your dog.   .
Safety and emergency prepping for dogs
Workshop: Safety and Emergency Prepping for Dogs
Safety and emergency prepping for dogsThis course focuses on safety around the house, toxic substances to avoid, collar safety, car safety, identifying and preparing for natural disasters, emergency supplies to have on-hand, and preventing lost/stolen dogs. Click here to view scheduled classes Click here to schedule a FREE one-on-one coaching discovery call with Lynn
Dog Care Basics
Workshop: Dog Care Basics
Dog Care BasicsLearn about teaching kids how to act around dogs, what to feed your dog, grooming, the importance of training, games to play with your dog, pet insurance and a variety of basic dog care topics. Perfect for the new dog owner or anyone who simply wants a refresher course on creating a happy, healthy lifestyle for their dog. Click here to view scheduled classes Click here to schedule a FREE one-on-one coaching discovery call with Lynn
Surviving Puppyhood
Workshop: Surviving Puppyhood
Surviving PuppyhoodPuppies are adorable, sweet, and a blessing to their owners. They are also mischievous, full of energy, and often downright crazy! This class offers tips and suggestions on puppy rearing without losing your mind or your patience, with a focus on being compassionate to what your puppy is experiencing. Topics include house training, puppy’s first night home, teaching bite inhibition, how to use crates, chewing, socialization, the importance of training, and puppy safety. Click here to view scheduled classes Click here to schedule a FREE one-on-one coaching discovery call with Lynn    
Planning for a new puppy or dog
Workshop: Planning for a New Puppy or Dog
Planning for a new puppy or dogLearn what to expect when adopting a new puppy or dog and what you will need before their gotcha date, including training your human children to be around a dog, the importance of training, and the dog professionals you need in your life. This class is an in-depth look at what life with a dog is really, truly like, and whether it is right for you. Click here to view scheduled classes Click here to schedule a FREE one-on-one coaching discovery call with Lynn
creating a pet care binder

Workshop: Creating a Pet Care Binder

creating a pet care binderThis mini-course teaches you how to create a pet care binder in case someone else needs to take care of your dog, how to find a reliable dog care provider, and a list of people to keep in your life in case you need to travel or are unable to care for your dog for awhile.

compassionate pet owner

Workshop: The Compassionate Pet Owner

compassionate pet ownerLearn about ways to bond with your dog, understand how they think and learn, and put yourself in their proverbial paws. Leave this class with ten ways to bond with your dog.

Click here to view scheduled classes

Click here to schedule a FREE one-on-one coaching discovery call with Lynn

senior dog workshop

Workshop: Senior Dog Special Considerations

senior dog workshop

Just like with aging humans, senior dogs need special care. Learn about changing dietary needs, the importance of more frequent vet visits, lifestyle adjustments, and keeping a sense of compassion as their bodies and minds change.

Click here to view scheduled classes

Click here to schedule a FREE one-on-one coaching discovery call with Lynn

food and nutrition basics

Workshop: Food & Nutrition Basics

food and nutrition basicsCut through the noise and hype that is out there about pet food, and learn about proteins, grains, K-cals, allergies and other basic information to help you easily understand what to feed your canine best friend.

Click here to view scheduled classes

Click here to schedule a FREE one-on-one coaching discovery call with Lynn

Creating a holistic lifestyle for your dog

Workshop: Creating a Happy, Healthy Lifestyle for Your Dog

This workshop focuses on providing a healthy lifestyle for dogs in three areas: mind, body, and environment. Topics include physical versus mental activities, food and nutrition, treats, lawn care considerations, cleaning products, and bedding and toy recommendations.

 

Click here to view scheduled classes

Click here to schedule a FREE one-on-one coaching discovery call with Lynn

Check out the video below to find out what it means to create a “holistic” lifestyle for your dog.

 

.

Safety and emergency prepping for dogs

Workshop: Safety and Emergency Prepping for Dogs

Safety and emergency prepping for dogsThis course focuses on safety around the house, toxic substances to avoid, collar safety, car safety, identifying and preparing for natural disasters, emergency supplies to have on-hand, and preventing lost/stolen dogs.

Click here to view scheduled classes

Click here to schedule a FREE one-on-one coaching discovery call with Lynn

Dog Care Basics

Workshop: Dog Care Basics

Dog Care BasicsLearn about teaching kids how to act around dogs, what to feed your dog, grooming, the importance of training, games to play with your dog, pet insurance and a variety of basic dog care topics. Perfect for the new dog owner or anyone who simply wants a refresher course on creating a happy, healthy lifestyle for their dog.

Click here to view scheduled classes

Click here to schedule a FREE one-on-one coaching discovery call with Lynn

Surviving Puppyhood

Workshop: Surviving Puppyhood

Surviving PuppyhoodPuppies are adorable, sweet, and a blessing to their owners. They are also mischievous, full of energy, and often downright crazy! This class offers tips and suggestions on puppy rearing without losing your mind or your patience, with a focus on being compassionate to what your puppy is experiencing. Topics include house training, puppy’s first night home, teaching bite inhibition, how to use crates, chewing, socialization, the importance of training, and puppy safety.

Click here to view scheduled classes

Click here to schedule a FREE one-on-one coaching discovery call with Lynn

 

 

Planning for a new puppy or dog

Workshop: Planning for a New Puppy or Dog

Planning for a new puppy or dogLearn what to expect when adopting a new puppy or dog and what you will need before their gotcha date, including training your human children to be around a dog, the importance of training, and the dog professionals you need in your life. This class is an in-depth look at what life with a dog is really, truly like, and whether it is right for you.

Click here to view scheduled classes

Click here to schedule a FREE one-on-one coaching discovery call with Lynn

Christmas Puppies & Winter House Training Tips

Christmas Puppies & Winter House Training Tips

Christmas Puppies & Winter House Training Tips

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Christmas Puppies & Winter House Training Tips As I stood outside with Jackson and Tinkerbell today in the 2 degree weather, waiting for them to do their bathroom business, I thought about the puppies who found new homes over the holidays and the owners who are hopefully going through the extremely important house training process right now as I type this post. It’s hard enough to make sure everyone is warm and safe in this weather with adult dogs who are neither puppies nor senior dogs, who have the ability to hold their bowels and bladders for fairly long periods of time. I do not envy those new puppy owners who will be inside and outside, inside and outside, inside and outside, over and over as they teach their puppy that they need to “hurry up, go potty” outside.

Jackson is great about finding a spot quickly when it gets this cold outside. He runs out, picks a spot, does his thing, and then runs back to the house. There is no sniffing around for rabbit droppings, no lazy rambling around to look for a few blades of grass to eat. Out and back before the bitter cold starts to hurt his feet and he tries to walk without touching the ground.

Tinkerbell, in true Tinkerbell fashion, still tries to dilly-dally and take her time, roaming the yard, sniffing every square inch of the snow. This usually results in me hurrying her along as soon she starts to pick up her feet with a pained expression on her face. Unlike her big brother, she has not figured out that she has a limited amount of time before her feet start to hurt and that she’d better hurry up.

Christmas Puppies & Winter House Training Tips When house training a new puppy, the first few days I like to limit their outdoor time anyway, to teach them first and foremost that outside is for potty time. After they start to catch on to the fact that outdoors is the appropriate place to alleviate their bowels and bladders, you can start to play more with them outside, but for at least the first few days, the outside is strictly for learning where to go to the bathroom. Temperatures in single digits or below zero at least means that you are not missing out on a beautiful day for walking or playing with your dog outside.

In addition to the steps that I provide for house training in my post, “Puppy House Training: Best Practices & Tips”, here are some winter weather considerations for puppy owners who are working on house training in a cold environment, whether it is a frozen tundra or a winter wonderland. 

  1. Shovel or brush off an area of the grass so that your puppy can still smell and see it and associate the grass with going potty. Make it sizeable enough that your puppy can choose which spot she prefers.
  2. Keep a pair of shoes or boots by the door at all times. Choose a style that slips on easily and quickly without a lot of work.
  3. Use a leash, even if you have a fenced yard, to ensure that your puppy does not wander off and get distracted.
  4. Keep a coat with gloves in the pockets by the back door.
  5. As soon as your puppy pees or poops, praise him with substantial praise and then promptly take him inside.
  6. Pay close attention to your puppy’s body language; walking gingerly or trying to pick some or all of his or her paws up off the ground is a sign that the cold is hurting their feet.
  7. Avoid using ice melting products where your puppy is walking; traditional products can damage paw pads in grown dogs, so you definitely do not want corrosive agents near a puppy’s gentle little feet. If your puppy does walk through ice melting products, rinse them in warm water once you are inside.

Dogs are most susceptible to frostbite on their paws, ears, and tails. If you have a puppy with short hair or a sparse coat, you can purchase a coat and booties for planned walks, although you may not have a chance to put all of these things on your puppy if you catch her in the act of peeing or pooping in your house. The secret to successful house training is to be extremely observant of your puppy and catch her sniffing for a spot to go potty and moving her outside before she actually does the act.

Christmas Puppies & Winter House Training Tips Christmas Puppies & Winter House Training Tips Christmas Puppies & Winter House Training Tips If you are concerned that it might be too cold for your specific breed of puppy to go outside during extremely cold weather, check with your breeder, rescue organization or veterinarian. Of course a Newfoundland puppy will do better in winter weather than a Chihuahua puppy, but extreme winter temperatures can be dangerous for all puppies and dogs.

If it is too cold for your puppy to safely go outside, you can use puppy potty pads for house training. With Labrador Retrievers who were all born in the spring, I have never used these, so I do not have personal experience with how to utilize them. You can find instructions on the American Kennel Club website at this link: http://www.akc.org/content/dog-training/articles/the-ins-and-outs-of-potty-pad-training. I prefer to teach the dogs to go outside from the very start to give them just one thing to master, rather than learning one thing and then learning a second part of it, but not at the sake of subjecting them to subzero temperatures.

Read more about raising puppies in my book, Love, Laugh, Woof: A Guide to Being Your Dog’s Forever Human, available at Amazon.com in print or Kindle.


This blog contains affiliate links for products that I use or recommend. I will receive a small commission for any sales resulting from clicks on my affiliate links. I do not receive customer information and the retail price of your item is not affected. Affiliate links help bloggers earn revenue from their posts in exchange for product recommendations. I only refer products that I truly love and use or strongly recommend after research and careful consideration.
The Problem with "Rescuing" Pet Store Puppies: Saving a Life or Creating Open to Buy?

The Problem with “Rescuing” Pet Store Puppies: Saving a Life or Creating Open to Buy?

The Problem with “Rescuing” Pet Store Puppies: Saving a Life or Creating Open to Buy?

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

The Problem with "Rescuing" Pet Store Puppies: Saving a Life or Creating Open to Buy? Sometimes it seems unbelievable that I am still writing anti-puppy mill content in my mid-forties, since I first learned about the horrific practice of commercially breeding dogs in puppy “mills” all the way back in high school in the 1980s. With the speed at which information is relayed today through the internet and social media, and the number of people we can reach through a single post, it seems like certainly we dog advocates would have successfully gotten the word out about the hell that is commercial dog breeding.

Yet at this very moment, as I am typing this, someone who is doing some Christmas shopping at your local mall has stopped in the pet store and is falling in love with a puppy in a baby crib, making a purchase, and creating an economic demand for a new puppy to be born at a commercial puppy mill.

Before I was a dog blogger, I was employed at the home office of a large retailer. As a result, I understand very well how retail inventory works. And so, when a fellow dog lover with a big heart tells me that they just purchased a puppy from a pet store because their heart was breaking at the thought of that puppy not finding a home, I know that what that purchase did was to open up what is known as “open to buy” in the world of retail.

So why am I talking about retail practices in a dog blog?

Here’s the deal: retail stores have sales goals. In order to meet those sales goals, they need to have sufficient inventory to sell to their customers. There is a lot of analysis that is done to figure out how much inventory they need, and how much money they need to budget to purchase that inventory. That budget is called their Open to Buy. The easiest way to define Open to Buy is this: “Open-To-Buy (OTB) is merchandise budgeted for purchase by a retail store during a certain time period that has not yet been ordered.” 

When a store sells something that’s in their inventory, they need to replace that inventory with more products that they can sell to keep meeting their sales goals. For example, if you buy 8 cans of soup from the grocery store, they need to bring in 8 more cans of soup so that they can keep selling soup to the next customer that comes into the store.

Understand where I am going with this?

Pet store puppies are viewed as inventory for resale, and puppy mills are the manufacturer creating that inventory. To you and me, to refer to puppies as being manufactured  sounds awful, and it is awful

Buying a puppy from a pet store is not like buying a can of soup from the grocery store. The grocery store simply orders more cans of soup from their supplier and puts into motion a whole series of events that creates jobs for a variety of people, from the people growing the vegetables to the person driving the delivery truck. Buying a puppy from a pet store is a purchase that kicks off a series of events that perpetuates the miserable life of puppy mill breeding dogs, and that is why we are still pleading and begging with people to stop buying puppies from retail stores. 

You and I  know that a puppy is a living, breathing, sentient, intelligent animal that deserves to be born into a loving environment, not mass-produced by unfeeling humans from dog parents who are tortured, miserable, riddled with genetic defects that they pass on en masse to their offspring, and who never lead a regular life as a healthy or even remotely happy dog.

For the puppy mill operator point of view, they are simply creating a supply of puppies to be sold on a purchase order to a pet store or puppy broker. As long as there is a demand for their puppies, they will keep producing puppies.

Having the conversation with someone who has purchased a puppy from a pet store or other source supplied by puppy mills is not an easy task. They feel attacked, as if they did something wrong or that they are being told that their puppy is not as worthy of love or is as valuable as a rescue puppy or one from a very responsible professional/hobby breeder. I know, because I have offended more than one friend in this way.

While many puppy mill puppies have substantial medical issues, whether infectious diseases or genetic defects, they are still worthy of love, they still could grow into great dogs with patience and training, and they will still be beloved family members. The reason I beg these owners not to get any additional puppies from a pet store is not that their dog is “bad” in any way, shape or form, and not that the dog owner is a bad person, but simply because their purchase will perpetuate the cycle of misery by creating an economic demand for more puppies from the puppy mill operator. 

To dog owners who have their dogs for the right reasons, to rescue and adoption advocates, and to responsible breeders, dogs are a miracle with paws and a wet nose. They are our lifeline, our therapists, our exercise buddies, our best friends, our constant companions, our heart dogs.

To puppy mill operators and the more unscrupulous backyard breeders, they are simply a product to be sold for income, and the easiest way for the average citizen to help stop them and their cycle of misery for the breeding dogs is to minimize or eliminate the demand for their puppies by not shopping at pet stores and from puppy brokers who sell mass-produced puppy mill puppies.

 

 

This blog contains affiliate links for products that I use or recommend. I will receive a small commission for any sales resulting from clicks on my affiliate links. I do not receive customer information and the retail price of your item is not affected. Affiliate links help bloggers earn revenue from their posts in exchange for product recommendations. I only refer products that I truly love and use or strongly recommend after research and careful consideration.

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The Right Way to Add a Dog to Your Home at Christmas

The Right Way to Add a Dog to Your Home at Christmas

The Right Way to Add a Dog to Your Home at Christmas

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

The Right Way to Add a Dog to Your Home at ChristmasIn our last blog, The Christmas Puppy Problem, we talked about the problem with Christmas puppies that are purchased on a whim by humans who have not considered the lifetime commitment and the work involved. We discussed how the adorable puppy in a baby crib in that mall pet store can end up being euthanized at a shelter or living a dismal and lonely life because a family or individual has realized too late that they were not prepared for that puppy to grow into an adult dog that depends them for its very survival and happiness. And finally, we talked about the Christmas puppy in our society and how the concept is promoted through photos, films, and even catalogs from merchants. As I continue to focus on this important topic all throughout the month of December, today we are going to present the flip side to that scenario and explore how to bring home a puppy or adult dog the right way during the holidays.

Taking Advantage of School and Office Closures

As much as people seem to be super busy at Christmas time, some people find themselves with extra time off of work, which puts them at an advantage in terms of puppy rearing. In my book, Love, Laugh, Woof: A Guide to Being Your Dog’s Forever Owner, I write, “I strongly recommend taking vacation time from work the first week of your dog or puppy’s arrival home, like a canine maternity leave.”

When Jackson was a puppy I was able to take some time off the first few days he was home and then either work from home or take additional days off whenever my husband had to also work, to ensure that someone was always home with him the first two weeks. By the time we had to have a dog sitter start coming to let him out, he was essentially house trained and able to hold his bladder a bit longer than when he first arrived. Once Tinkerbell joined the family, I was already working from home, so I was able to be with her all the time. She was house trained even faster than Jackson, and her puppyhood was much easier as a result.

For the simple purpose of house training alone, being with your dog 24 hours a day, seven days a week the first week or so should shorten your puppy’s learning curve dramatically. In addition to helping speed up the house training process, you will appreciate being able to nap during the day when the puppy sleeps. After all, they are infants and they usually wake up several times a night to go outside which of course means that you are also awake and heading outside. Finally, the first few days of a puppy’s life in their new home should be as calm and positive as possible with essentially just the immediate family. They are figuring things out, getting comfortable with you and with their surroundings, and there is a considerable amount of bonding happening. It is good for you to be with them instead of having them left alone in the house just days after leaving their mother, their litter mates and everything they ever knew in their young life.

If you have been planning on getting a puppy or a rescued dog, you know what you are getting into and the lifelong commitment, you are not traveling or hosting any huge gatherings for the holidays, and you work for an office or school that closes for all or most of the time between Christmas and New Year’s Day, then over the Christmas holiday might be a great time to get a dog, particularly from a rescue organization or shelter.

Most responsible breeders will not plan a litter of puppies around the holidays so are set on a certain breed you may not be able to find an available dog from a top breeder at Christmas time, but the sad fact is that rescues and shelters take in pregnant females on a regular basis and those puppies are desperately in need of homes. A purebred puppy is not necessarily the right choice for everyone, so unless you are set on a particular breed, you can find amazing mixed breed puppies at shelters and rescues who are ready to grow up and be your best friend. 

Rescuing an Adult Dog

Puppy rearing is not for everyone, and adult dogs will bond with you just as much as puppies. My late Babe became my dog when she was two, and she was my best friend and constant companion. She and I had the same exact type of love and emotional bond as I do with Jax and Tink, who both came home to me at eight weeks old. Our late Basset Hound, Maggie, had been abused before my husband rescued her, and she was the most affectionate and snuggly of any of our dogs.

In fact, I have a theory based on my own personal observation and experience that some rescued dogs are often more affectionate and attached to their owners because they know what it is like to not have a safe and loving home, to be scared and alone, and they are so happy to finally feel love that they want to be near you all the time. Some people will say that dogs do not think about the past, and although it is true that for training purposes they live in the moment, I believe that they still remember their old lives.

It was not just Maggie who showed this behavior, but also my fosters Kodiak and Destiny. Kodiak had been found as a stray and while I was fostering him he would not leave my side. At night we would watch TV as a family and I essentially had a giant Labrador/Great Dane mix as a living, breathing blanket as he napped completely on top of me, his back paws down by my feet, his front paws and head on my chest. Destiny had been tied to a tree in the woods and left to die before a good Samaritan found her and saved her. Even while she was learning to trust me, she was virtually attached to me, and within weeks was snuggling with me as if she’d known me her entire life.

With Christmas as a time of love and giving, what better gift to give than to give a dog a safe haven and forever home to live out the rest of its years. There are so many amazing adult dogs that are waiting at shelters to be your best friend, particularly if you do not care about finding a specific breed. If you simply want a best friend, you can spare yourself the part-time job of puppy rearing (because it is indeed a part-time if not full-time job) and find an amazing best friend in an adult dog. And if you do want a specific breed, there are breed specific rescues in every part of the country with dogs who need homes. Giving one of them a home will open up a spot in that foster’s house for a shelter dog to make it further through the adoption process. And just like with puppies, to have extra time off of work while your new dog is adapting to his or her new home will only help the bonding process and help your dog become more secure in his or her surroundings.

Involving the Kids

No matter the age, it is never too young to start teaching children about the fact that dogs are living breathing creatures that rely on us for their survival. Instead of surprising the child with a puppy under the Christmas tree and reinforcing the belief that the puppy is a toy like a doll or basketball or some other inanimate object, consider wrapping the supplies that you will need for the puppy or dog and unwrapping them as a family.

After the gifts are unwrapped, you can explain that you have thought about it for a long time and that it’s the right time to bring a dog into the family and that you bought the puppy’s gifts in advance so that he or she has everything they need when it comes home. You can tell them that after Christmas is over, you are going to all pick out the puppy or go get a puppy that you have pre-selected, and that everyone in the family is going to need to work together to make sure that the puppy grows into a nice, well-behaved adult dog.

By fulfilling your child’s wish for a dog this way, you avoid the mindset that the puppy is a toy. If you have experienced Christmas with kids, you know that often they receive so many new toys and gifts that they are overwhelmed by the bounty, and some things get pushed to the side and never played with. The last thing you want to do is to include a puppy in that category. By introducing the puppy as a family member after the excitement of the holidays is over, you start your child’s view of animals off to a healthier start that will carry through their adult lives and in turn help them be responsible pet owners when they are grown.

It is extremely important to add that if your child wants a dog, but the adults do not really want a dog, you should not get a dog. Period. I also cover this in my book, and it may sound harsh, but it needs to be harsh because a dog’s life is at stake, and at the end of the day it is going to be the parents who are responsible for the dog for its entire life.

Kids can learn to be responsible dog owners by watching their parents and by helping their parents under close supervision. I have spent probably as much time teaching our kids how to act around the dogs as I have spent teaching the dogs how to act around the kids. As a result, now that they are teens, I can trust them to check the gates when they take the dogs outside and to stay out there with them and ensure that they are not getting into mischief.

I do not believe in putting kids in charge of a dog no matter how responsible they are. Between school, activities, friends, and all of the things on their minds, it is too easy to forget a feeding or to give medicine or how long it has been since the dog went outside. They will learn to be responsible pet owners by watching you and by you explaining what you are doing and why you are doing something, but it is too early in their lives to be in charge of an animal’s life.

Watch for the next blog, in which we address winter weather considerations when caring for puppies.

Travel With Your Dog!

The Christmas Puppy Problem

The Christmas Puppy Problem

The Christmas Puppy Problem

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

The Christmas Puppy ProblemI was browsing through Facebook several days ago when I came across a video from our local Fox affiliate, Fox 32. The first sentence of the story was, “If a dog or puppy is on your holiday shopping list – be careful.”

“Are you kidding me?” I said out loud in horror.

“Let’s just go ahead and promote the notion of puppies as Christmas gifts to all of the Chicagoland area!!!!” I fumed some more. 

I promptly sent a message to their Facebook page that read, “As a dog blogger who is on a mission to help prevent owner surrenders of dogs, the lead into your article about the puppy FB scam is disheartening. Puppies are never gifts, those of us who promote responsible pet ownership work hard to get this message through to the people who buy puppies as gifts with as much thought as they give a sweater or handbag. Please don’t undo our work as you report the news!”

To date I have not received a response or have any evidence that they’ve read my message.

The rest of their story was warning potential puppy buyers not to fall for scams involving puppies for sale, which is definitely important. Of course, they did not go into detail on how to successfully find a reputable breeder or look at rescue or shelter pups or grown dogs, but the advice to not purchase puppies from random strangers in a Facebook group is certainly something that many people need to know.

Let me explain why I was, and still am, so upset by that one short sentence that was broadcast to their entire viewing area: puppies are living breathing creatures that require a lot of time, patience, training and work. They do not belong on a “shopping list” like a cashmere sweater, a toolbox and an X-box game.

Unfortunately every year these living breathing, feeling creatures do indeed make it onto a Christmas list.  Puppies are then purchased through pet stores or backyard/amateur breeders as gifts either on a whim or to fulfill heartfelt requests to Santa from children who want a puppy.

In other scenarios they are an impulse buy as holiday shoppers wander through the mall pet stores and are wooed by the siren like pull of the adorable, fluffy puppies in baby cribs that downplay the fact that puppies are a different species with different needs than a human and that there is a learning curve for novice dog owners who are tackling puppyhood for the first time. The shoppers fall in love at first sight with these puppies with designer “breed” names like Cavachon and Huskimo, and take them home without thinking about the fact that they have just committed to anywhere from ten to fifteen years of caring for an animal that will need them for every aspect of their survival.

Many of these puppies are then abandoned at shelters just days, weeks, or months later after the adults realize that a puppy was not on their list of responsibilities that they were ready to handle. Other puppies end up living the majority of life in crates or in the back yards of owners who feel too much guilt for what they’ve done to abandon or re-home the dog but have no idea how to handle a dog that quickly went from adorable fluff ball to a wild, untrained, and seemingly unmanageable dog. That life is almost as tragic as landing in a shelter; it is in fact no life at all for a dog to suffer like that, alone and unloved.

As a culture, we love Christmas and we love puppies, and so it is understandable that when you put them both together, the idea of a Christmas puppy seems genius. I mean, seriously, what is cuter than a puppy with a bow around its neck under the Christmas tree? And when you are the person presenting this gift, either to your children, to your significant other, or to a parent, in that moment you are the hero of gift giving. You are like a rock star only better! You are not handing over a new gaming system or some piece of jewelry that every other person has bought, you are literally bestowing new life and the promise of unconditional love on the recipient…whether they want the accompanying responsibility of that new life or not.

Movies, TV shows, catalogs, all show endless photos of happy Christmas puppies. These images are all over our culture. Google “Christmas puppies” and you will receive pages upon pages of results. Do the same search with “movies about Christmas puppies” and you will receive another robust list of results. It is no wonder children ask Santa for a puppy or parents finally concede to their child’s pleas to get them a dog over the Christmas holiday. Our culture is full of the idea of puppies at Christmas time, under trees, in boxes, in Christmas stockings, complete with bright red bows to make the gift complete.

Just today I received a catalog from my beloved retailer L.L. Bean with a fluffy Golden Retriever puppy on the front, snoozing away under the Christmas tree with the other holiday presents with a red bow around its neck. The puppy looks perfectly angelic in the photo, but as a lifelong Labrador owner, I can tell you that it takes one hell of a lot of work to achieve a sleepy puppy for a photo shoot, and the moment that puppy wakes up, a human will be telling him “NO” and removing his little razor-sharp puppy teeth from the lights on the tree, the bow wrapped around the box, and even the box itself.

I can forgive L.L.Bean for this, because their products at least promote the outdoor, active lifestyle that is suited for a Labrador or a Golden Retriever, so their customers are slightly more likely to own the boots, hats, gloves, and parkas that will be needed to house train the puppy in the middle of December and into January. But that is one photo among thousands of other images and sources that glamorize the puppy as a holiday gift.

Personally, I obviously love dogs and I definitely love Christmas, and I love them together, in real life and in photos. I adore puppies, and I loved raising my own puppies into big sturdy dogs, even the moments that had me close to tears because Jax was a hard sell on the “no bite” concept or when his energy level was at a 14 on a scale of 1 to 10 and my own was a 3 from lack of sleep. I love looking at them now and thinking about how tiny they were, how I could pick them up and they would fall asleep on my chest, and how I taught them day in and day out all of the things that they would need to know as dogs in our household.

I equally love to look at them and think about all of the things that they have taught me in return, about dog ownership and about life. I love how I raised them from puppies to adults and how close we are as two separate species who went from being total strangers to sharing a special bond. So when I talk about the work that lies ahead for puppy owners, it is with the firm belief that the work is worth it, but I would be doing a disservice to other puppy owners to minimize the work that it takes to go from puppyhood to adulthood, because trust me. There is a lot of work ahead.

Before I had my own dogs, I helped my parents with their dogs. My freshman year of college, my parents acquired our Labrador Retriever Jake the weekend of Thanksgiving, so we have tons of adorable puppy pictures of him around the Christmas tree. Jake’s puppyhood is also how I know that the adorable puppy under the tree will also be the same puppy who is trying to eat the lights, steal the ornaments, and chew on all of the gifts immediately after peeing on the carpet and trying to drink the tree water. I don’t make these things up when I am blogging, I’ve lived life with many puppies and know that that’s what puppies do. One minute they are adorable balls of fluff with liverwurst-meets-Starbucks scented puppy breath; the next they are like a tiny little ball of destruction wreaking havoc in your home. 

Are all Christmas puppies abandoned at shelters or destined to living life in a crate or a back yard in an unprepared owner’s home? No, of course not. I have personal friends who have brought home puppies at Christmas and who would never dream of abandoning them; those dogs are as beloved and well cared for as my own dogs.

As someone once told me when they were attending a training class where I used to work, “We don’t know what we don’t know.” That applies 100% to new puppy owners who have big hearts and great expectations but simply have no idea what they are getting into with an eight week old puppy and the work that lies ahead for at least the next few months to go from adorable Christmas puppy to well-behaved, socialized dog.

As a result, during the month of December, the Love, Laugh, Woof blog will focus on the idea of puppies and Christmas, to help reach people who are contemplating getting a puppy as a holiday addition to their families. From winter specific considerations, to how to do a holiday puppy or grown dog the right way, conversations to have with the kids, and other important topics, we will focus entirely on spreading the word that dogs are a lifelong commitment, not something to be bought on a whim.

 

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Jax, Tink and Canine Standard Time

Jax, Tink and Canine Standard Time

Jax, Tink and Canine Standard Time

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Jax, Tink and Canine Standard TimeAlthough Daylight Savings Time ended over three weeks ago, for Jackson and Tinkerbell the time change just happened two weeks ago when my husband and I returned home from two weeks out-of-town.

It has not been an easy transition.

To say that Jax and Tink are creatures of habit is a massive understatement. If all watches and clocks were to malfunction from some sort of electrical pulse, we would know when it was 6 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m. each and every day. Jax and Tink would be certain of that.

Our dog sitter who stays with them when we travel takes amazing care of our dogs, but as a college student she has a much different schedule than I do. She is not always able to get meals and potty breaks in at the exact time that the dogs expect them, so their time with her is on a much more random schedule. It is this way every time she watches them, though, and they do not seem to keep her to their schedule the way they do me. In fact since I get an alert to my phone any time someone disarms our security system, I could see that they were not getting her up before 6 a.m. either before or after Daylight Savings Time ended.

As soon as we returned home, both dogs immediately went back on their Daylight Savings Time schedule. No more “we’re living like a college student’s dogs, eating dinner sometime in the evening and being super chilled out about it!” Nope, it was as if they thought, “Momma is home, back to our strict routine!”

Of course since dogs cannot understand our human time keeping and how we could jump forward or fall back in time, to them, this meant that their biological clocks said that 5 a.m. was the time for them to wake me up for their morning potty break and breakfast. And since they start to get excited about this favorite part of their day at least a half an hour to an hour early, this meant that I felt the first cold nose in my face anytime between 4 and 4:30 a.m.

“No, go lay down, it’s not time yet!” I told Jax on our first morning home. He was sitting upright next to the bed like he always does when it’s time to wake me, his face right in front of mine without actually touching me. As he groaned a doggie groan of displeasure, I repeated, “Go lay down, Jax, it’s not time yet!”

We do this a lot, so I picked up my bottle of Lavender oil, opened the lid and wafted it around the air above me, something both dogs have learned means “It’s not time yet, go back to sleep!”

Jax didn’t budge.

He did another groan/whimper and I stuck my head out and kissed his nose. “I’m going to kiss your nose again if you don’t go lay back down,” I told him. He turned his head to the side to avoid me but didn’t move.

At this point Tinkerbell took matters into her own paws. Much less subtle than her big brother, she leapt onto the bed, stood with all four legs straddling me, and began licking my face and pawing at the covers to pull them off of me. When she became so animated (aka crazy) that she began to nibble my chin, I admitted defeat and got up.

We repeated this for the next week, making slight progress toward the 6 a.m. goal. We finally reached that over Thanksgiving weekend, and we are now working on the evening schedule, too. Now, it’s important to know that I know my dogs and the messages they are giving me, and I can tell when they truly need to go outside versus simply wanting me to get up to start our day. They hold their tails differently or run over to the door instead of sitting by the bed and nudging me or licking me. On days when they truly have a pending potty problem, we are up no matter the time on the human clock.

Please feed me my supper!

We have a similar struggle in the evening, too. Currently it is 4:18 p.m., so prior to the end of Daylight Savings Time, we would have been a mere 45 minutes away from Puppy Supper. Except now Daylight Savings Time has ended and they are both staring at me from across the room. I could go ahead and feed them now, but to get them to wait until 6 a.m. to wake me up, Puppy Supper cannot be early or the rumbling of empty stomachs gets them moving far earlier in the morning than this human momma is ready.

Part of me has considered going onto what I call Canine Standard Time, aka The Dog Schedule. I’ve thought through all of the things I could get done by getting up at 4 a.m. in a house full of non-morning people. I would have the house entirely to myself. Coffee could be consumed, blogs could be written, social media posts created, all before the girls headed off to school for the day.

The intense stare of the Tinkerbell.

Except then I remember that my brain works best in the evening, that midnight blogs are far more frequent than morning blogs in my self-employed world, and I could easily get a role as an extra in The Walking Dead as I shuffle toward the yard to take the dogs outside each day in my under caffeinated state. I am not the type to be productive at 4 in the morning unless perhaps it is because I am still awake from the night before.

As a lifelong dog owner, I have mastered the art of the “second sleep” a very, very long time ago. While I thought this was something only dog owners and parents of young children embraced, it turns out that sleeping in two different time periods was actually the practice of many of our ancestors from around the world many centuries ago. According to an article in Slumberwise, humans went to go to bed for twelve hours, with an initial period of sleep that lasted three to four hours, followed by a few hours of being awake, and then another period of sleep until morning. In an interesting article on Science Alert, the writers make the point that humans might do better resuming this practice.

So what did people do during these hours of awake time? According to both articles, they read, prayed, thought about their dreams or sometimes worked on creating new humans (you know what I mean). This sounds rather familiar, as I often check my social media or my email or watch a bit of TV in the time between Jax and Tink get me up before dawn and when I go back to sleep for a few hours after their bowels and bladders are emptied and their stomachs are full.

Perhaps Jax and Tink are onto something and I should try to truly embrace having sleep broken up into two parts. Perhaps they have some sort of special wisdom and knowledge of better health and a more refreshed body as a result of getting me up only three or four hours after I go to sleep, keeping me awake for an hour, and then letting me go back to sleep for that second time frame. I mean, I do comment on a regular basis that I wished I had their energy, and dogs are known for splitting up their own sleep times. Or perhaps they are hungry Labradors who like to eat and cannot fathom why I am suddenly making them wait when just a few weeks ago I did what they wanted when they wanted. Either way, we will get through the time change adjustment as we get through all things, with patience and training; just in time for the clocks to leap forward again in the spring.

 

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Disney Vacations and Epic Labrador Greetings

Disney Vacations and Epic Labrador Greetings

Disney Vacations and Epic Labrador Greetings

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Disney Vacations and Epic Labrador GreetingsWalt Disney World in Florida is known as The Most Magical Place on Earth, while Disneyland in California is famously referred to as The Happiest Place on Earth. For those of you who love dogs and Disney like I do, we all know that the happiest and most magical place on earth for us is anywhere our dogs are with us, with the Disney parks and the fun waiting inside of them taking second place to time spent with our real life furry best friends.

Twice a year, or as much as we can afford to, my husband and I put Jackson and Tinkerbell in the capable hands of our most trusted and responsible dog sitter and head to Orlando, Florida to indulge our love of all things Disney. At home we are complete home bodies, preferring to save our entertainment budget for trips to see the famous mouse and his friends. In fact if I had to list my favorite restaurants, they would all be in the parks and hotels of Disney World.

When we do Disney, we do it with great intensity, which is why you haven’t seen a blog since we headed to Florida. Alarms are set so that we can be ready and waiting when the parks open, ready to race-walk to our favorite attractions. Some days we will stay at the parks from open until close, which sometimes means 8 am until 2 am. We are experts at avoiding lines, and when we get the chance to do so, we are like kids, getting off of one attraction and getting right back on to ride it again and again, or crossing the park to get to an attraction with a short wait time. According to my husband’s Garmin, we walked 100 miles over eight days during this most recent vacation.

Of course, like they say in the fairy tale inspired show Once Upon a Time, “magic always comes with a price” and for me that price is that I miss my dogs like crazy whenever I am away from them! Having a few trusted pet sitters in my life makes it easier to leave them in capable hands, but that does not take away the “dog withdrawal” feelings that inevitably strike.

To make up for not having my dogs with me, I try to enjoy the novelty of a short break from daily 6 a.m. wake up calls and laugh with my husband about how odd it feels to have the entire bed to ourselves and be able to stretch our legs out straight. Usually on the first night I have a moment of panic when I think about how long we’ve been away from our hotel because 90 percent of the time, being away from home for more than eight or so hours means our beautiful dogs are waiting on us to go outside and go potty. Being the afore mentioned home bodies, though, I cannot remember the last time we were both away from the house for more than eight hours.

Of course I text my dog sitter at least once a day. “How’s everything going?” I ask, trying to appear casual. Since I am hopeless at covering up my emotions,  I am sure she knows that what my text really means is, “How are my sweet babies who are literally my heart and soul and who I have trusted you to care for according to my super strict rules and standards in my absence…no pressure!”

Although Disney recently announced a pilot program in which dogs are allowed at select resorts, we stay in Disney Vacation Club properties, which are not part of the dog program. Dogs in the parks are of course limited to service dogs or police dogs in the parking lots, and even if pets were allowed, I would never take Jax and Tink there. Between blazing hot pavement and large crowds, theme parks are not exactly dog friendly.

As a result, there are not a lot of dogs anywhere on property to help ease the dog withdrawal pains, and not any who you can touch or pet. In fact, someone could probably operate a service where vacationers who miss their dogs could drop in and play with dogs for an hour to get a much-needed dose of puppy love, maybe with rescued dogs with the funds going to charity.

This year I was elated to come across a gorgeous Golden Retriever service dog that was owned by a Disney cast member (employee) who was working in one of the shops in one of the parks. I saw him as we rounded the corner out of the attraction and into the gift shop and at first glance I thought it was another guest’s dog, until I saw that he had his very own Disney name tag. My heart melted as I watched him get up and help his human carry stuffed toys over to a rack to help stock the shelves. Of course service dogs cannot interact with people other than their owners, but it felt good to simply be in the presence of a dog.

Usually by the end of a trip I am so desperate to see a dog that I am praying that the police dogs will want to sniff me at the airport. I think my husband has visions of me throwing myself at the feet of an officer, begging to pet the dog, because he often issues a preemptive warning, “You can’t pet the police or TSA dogs!” to which my reply is, “I’m aware of that, although I wouldn’t mind if they thought I looked shady and they just let him sniff me, I’ve got nothing to hide!”

Some people claim that dogs cannot tell the passing of time and whether or not their owner is gone for one day or two weeks. I am not a scientist, I have not done official research on this, but I can tell you that our greetings after a long vacation are epic compared to a run to the post office or even an overnight trip.

Disney Vacations and Epic Labrador Greetings
Reunited with my loves!

This year we arrived home late in the evening and seemed to catch the dogs completely off guard. Our dog sitter was there waiting for us, watching TV in the living room while the dogs snoozed on the sofa like they do each night. Of course usually these evening activities happen with us already home.

I opened the door and Tinkerbell trotted around the corner into the hallway, not in a big hurry.  She quickly realized it was me and she raced forward and jumped nearly into my arms, showering me with kisses. Jackson ran into the hallway behind her, his massive otter tail wagging furiously, his entire body wiggling with joy. We went into the living room and I sat on the floor and let them climb all over me.  My entire face was covered in slobber, my clothes covered in fur, and I was back in my own personal, ultimate happy place, full of magic and Labrador love.

 

National Pit Bull Awareness Month: A Celebration of “Pit Bull” Type Dogs

National Pit Bull Awareness Month: A Celebration of “Pit Bull” Type  Dogs

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

I had so much fun celebrating black dogs and cats on Friday, October 13 and featuring the awesome dogs of my readers, that I could not let National Pit Bull Awareness Month come to an end without a celebration of the beloved “pit bull” type dogs who share their lives with some of the readers and friends from the Love, Laugh, Woof community.

According to the National Pit Bull Awareness Month website, the goal of this month is to change misconceptions and stereotypes about “pit bull” type dogs. Originally celebrated on a single day before being extended to a full month, the website explains, “NPBAD was established to educate and foster positive communications and experiences in the communities in which we and our dogs live, and it is an initiative dedicated to restoring the image of the American Pit Bull Terrier.”

Another organization that works extremely hard to change the perception of “pit bull” type breeds is the Bryan & Amanda Bickell Foundation.  I learned of this former Chicago Blackhawks player’s foundation while my husband and I were lunching at a Meatheads restaurant a few years ago. At that time a special hot dog was on the menu that earned the foundation 10% of the price of the hot dog each time one was sold. After lunch we went home and I read about his foundation, and he promptly became my favorite Blackhawks player.

According to the Bryan & Amanda Bickell Foundation website,

“Here’s the thing about “pit bulls” – the “breed” doesn’t exist. In fact, the American Kennel Club does not recognize “pit bull” as a breed because it is a mixture of breeds. “Pit bull” is a slang term that has been used loosely and taken advantage of by the media to describe a dog with a big head and muscular build. When a dog has been labeled a “pit bull” it is based simply on their look and not on; personality, traits or DNA. Even we at the Bickell Foundation are guilty of calling a dog a “pit bull,” but we are ready to stop.”

Source: http://www.bickellfoundation.org/stop-the-pit-label

I remember one day a few years ago when I was volunteering for Chicagoland Lab Rescue and I went to the local animal shelter to pick up a yellow Labrador who was being pulled for rescue. I was his transport, aka freedom ride from the shelter to the veterinarian who would check him out before he continued his journey to his foster home. While I waited for the shelter to gather the paperwork and bring him out to me, they told me, “You can go ahead and walk around and see if there are any other dogs you want to pull for the rescue.”

I did not want to walk through the shelter because I knew my head was about to see things that would break my heart, but I told myself that to not take that walk was weak compared to what the actual dogs were going through. As I walked down row after row of kennels, “pit bull” type dog after dog stared up at me with anticipation, as if they wondered what my role in their life was going to be. There were dozens of them and I stopped to visit with as many as I could before going back out to pick up the dog who the rescue had sent me to get, hoping to provide just a tiny bit of human love.

Having grown up entirely with sporting breeds like Labradors and German Shorthaired Pointers, I was not as familiar back then with the heart wrenching “pit bull” overpopulation problem. “Do you have a pittie specific rescue group that pulls dogs like the Lab rescue does?” I asked the woman at the front desk. She answered that there were several organizations that came through every week, particularly anytime they started to near the capacity of the shelter, and my heart broke even more at the thought of so many dogs either dumped off, no longer wanted or lost as strays and never claimed. Regardless of how they had ended up in the shelter, the result was the same: they had been failed by their humans and now needed a different type of human to come and save them.

So why are there so many “pit bull” type dogs in shelters and in dire need of rescue?

According to the Best Friends site, on the page All About Pit Bulls, “Because pit bull terriers have become so popular, some people are over breeding them. Others neglect to have their dogs spayed or neutered, resulting in unwanted litters. These two factors have led to an influx of pit bull terrier–like dogs in shelters. When there are a lot of the same types of pets available for adoption, people can easily get overwhelmed when trying to choose one to bring home, and they often end up leaving the shelter without a pet.

There are many ways to help these misunderstood dogs, even if you are not ready to add another dog into your home at this time. Foster based dog rescue organizations depend on volunteers to provide transportation to dogs and to foster them with the goal of helping them find their forever home. Unfortunately, I have never found a dog rescue organization with enough money to cover all of the work that they want to do so monetary donations are always needed. Please consider donating to any of the groups that I have mentioned in this blog, to your local animal shelter, or to your local “pit bull type dog ” rescue organizations.

On a happy note, many of these once discarded dogs are living their happily ever after stories with their forever owners in loving homes, where they receive good food, plenty of treats, training and guidance, and most importantly: tons of love and a lifelong committment. Some of these dogs are the best friends and constant companions of my own friends and readers. Here is what they had to say about their canine cohorts.

Kona & Renny

Here’s what Kona and Renny’s Momma had to say, “Kona (the fawn colored pup) was rescued from a dog fighting ring after the FBI & ASPCA did a raid on the property and removed approximately 70 dogs. Despite her beginnings, she is the most loving dog & wants to meet every person she sees from babies on up. Kisses for everyone!

She is extremely intelligent & requires A LOT of physical & mental stimulation otherwise she will make a toy out of whatever she finds. Lol. All of her quirks makes me love her more than I thought it possible to love anything. Kona does have some fear issues but we had hoped to adopt another dog (another pittie/pittie mix pup) and after introductions we found she drew comfort from the other so we adopted Renny (the black brindle).

Renny is our quiet little shadow that is content to just lay next to you all day & get belly rubs & give kisses too! The two have developed a bond that melts your heart. We are the luckiest people to get to share our home & life with these two.”

Chase

Love Laugh Woof Blog
Meagan and Chase

Meagan Giarratano, founder and owner of Au Pair for Paws Dog Training in Ocean Beach, New York, shared this story, “I have two pit mixes that keep me laughing all day. I spend a lot of time with my dogs and if it weren’t for them I don’t know where I would be. The love of my first pit, Chase (pictured below) was what started my business endeavor to become a dog trainer. The challenging start we had caused the respect and love for each other to grow from there. Training actually saved his life. That love turned into a lot of laughs and a lot of woofs throughout the last few years thanks to amazing clients I have met. He is my best friend and I don’t know what I would do without him.”

 

 

Jax

Love Laugh Woof blog Jax
Jax

Not to be confused with my own handsome Jax, this boy is special in his own right. His Momma says, “This is Jax…pit-mix and major lover-boy. He spends more time licking the faces of his pack-mates than you could imagine. He was chained up on a 3 foot leash in the yard & forgotten when his former owners grew bored with him and got a different dog. All this boy wants is to give & receive love every moment of every day.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sammy

Sammy is a rescued Jack Russell Terrier/”pit bull” mix whose mom says, “Sammy is a classic ‘mama’s boy’. The look in his eyes is the only proof I need that dogs feel love and emotional connection. He is my heart dog in every sense possible.”

Jake

“This is my handsome boy, Jake. He’s 7 years old and has brought more love, laughter and plenty of woofs than I ever would have thought possible. This pup has brought more amazing people into my life and is the reason I joined the board of Live, Love, Bark dog rescue.”

Beau

Beau’s human mom shared the story of her sweet boy, “This is Beau, my 2-year-old pittie mix. He’s a lover with a loud bark. He loves his ‘sissy’ and protects her all of the time! He sleeps under the covers every night with his nose sticking out! People are terrified of him but he would only lick them to death. My pittie!”

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Jax and Tink Prove How Quickly Your Dog Can Get into Trouble 

Jax and Tink Prove How Quickly Your Dog Can Get into Trouble 

Jax and Tink Prove How Quickly Your Dog Can Get into Trouble

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Jax and Tink Prove How Quickly Your Dog Can Get into Trouble If you’ve followed my blog or read my book, you know that I have a very firm rule about never allowing Jackson and Tinkerbell to go outside without a human present at all times. This rule is in place for a variety of reasons, including making certain that the gates are shut and latched, that nobody (like a utility worker or neighborhood child) comes into the yard while we are out there, and to make sure that the dogs stay out of the type of mischief that a curious dog can easily create.

Jax and Tink Prove How Quickly Your Dog Can Get into Trouble 
Chilling in the yard

As the dogs have grown from puppies to adults, the fear of them getting into something that they shouldn’t be eating or touching has diminished somewhat, but they are still dogs, and dogs explore the world with their noses and mouths. Most days, though, I stand outside with them while the most exciting thing that they do is sniff their world and search for treasures of rabbit poop or the certain type of grass on which they love to graze like adorable, small black cows. At four and six years old they get into fewer and fewer situations that would require my intervention, but the “humans outside with dogs at all times” rule will stand for the their entire lives, no exceptions.

Last week I had grand plans of filming a product demo for the KeepSafe Breakaway Safety Collar as promised in the blog in which I reviewed this amazing collar. The first part of the video went great, I sat on my deck steps and recorded an introduction to the product, and both dogs came over to give me kisses and “say hello” to the audience, without being told to do so. They were well-behaved as I showed the features of the collar using Jackson as my model, how you hook it to the metal loops if you want to take your dog for a walk and how that acts as an “override” for the breakaway function, since you don’t want a collar that breaks apart if your dog pulls on a walk, you only want that breakaway functionality when your dog is wearing it off leash.

After I watched the video, there were some changes in lighting I wanted to make and a few edits to my comments, so I set about the task of doing a few more versions, as well as recording demonstrations without the dogs so that I could show the collar around the slats of our fence and deck. Jax and Tink were happy to come and duplicate the “giving kisses” part of the intro and be my model to show how to hook the leash to the collar and override the breakaway function, but when it was time for me to record without them, I swear they knew that they did not have my attention like normal and set about being intentionally naughty.

I had expected them to do their normal thing and sniff around the yard, calm and mellow like normal adult dogs. Instead they chose to “exceed” my expectations by getting into every single thing that they could in our yard. Many experts will say that dogs don’t think this way, but it was like they were working together and doing “bad” things on purpose.

Over the summer our decorative bird house had gone crashing onto our deck during a storm, breaking it apart. It seemed as though it could be put back together, though, and since it was a gift that my husband had brought back to me from a motorcycle trip the first year we knew each other, I did not want to just throw it out. I had carefully placed all of the pieces on top of a deck box on our deck for him to try to fix when he got a chance, and the dogs had not noticed it or touched it since it happened in June.

Also over the summer, my husband had purchased a hammock for himself and set it up it on the deck. Because it is so windy in our back yard, instead of leaving it set up, he took one side down so that both ends of the hammock hung from the same side of the metal stand and the hammock stayed folded in half until we wanted to use it. This has also been in the same spot on the deck since June and except for Jax trying to pee on it once, both dogs have also left this item alone.

Jax and Tink Prove How Quickly Your Dog Can Get into Trouble 
Jax proving that a human should always be watching

As I filmed a few versions of the demonstration of the collar’s breakaway feature, I saw Tinkerbell race across the yard out of my peripheral vision. I know my dogs very well, and I could tell immediately that she had her “I’ve got something and I’m not going to give it to you” posture as she ran across the yard, her athletic body tucked down low and fast so that she could take corners with ease and play “keep away from Momma” with her contraband item.

“WHOA!” I called out to her, “Stop!!”

She stopped and went down into a play stance, a huge piece of cardboard hanging from her mouth.

“Drop it!” I told her and approached her slowly. She took off at top speed and raced around me, stopping behind me and dropping into her play stance again.

Tinkerbell, I’m not playing,” I said in my deepest, most stern dog training voice, “DROP IT.”

That did the trick and she let me take the cardboard, her tail wagging furiously as if saying, “But Momma, that was FUN!”

I walked up onto the deck to put the cardboard on our table, gave Jax (who was just standing on the deck waiting to go inside) a scratch under the chin and told him that he was a good dog, and went back over to our fence to try to get another video recorded. Less than a minute passed and I glanced over to make sure that Tinkerbell had not grabbed anything else, and I saw Jackson tangled completely in the ropes that attach the hammock to the stand.

“Jackson, what are you doing, crazy dog?” I called, and ran over to free him. “Buddy, what the heck are you doing?” I asked him. He had his head tangled up in the ropes, one was double wrapped around his leg, and as I walked up he tried to free himself and became even more entangled. “Whoa!” I told him, feeling thankful twice in literally a few minutes that we had taught that command to both dogs.

As I freed him, I turned around to see Tinkerbell snatch a long black strip of wood from the bird house, leap off the deck, and run top speed across the yard as far as she could.

“Tinkerbell, STOP!” I called again, “What the hell is wrong with you dogs??” I asked to the air, both frustrated and laughing at the same time. This time she gave up her treasure without any fuss, standing there while I came over and took it from her.

“Ok, I think we’re going to stop making this video for the day,” I told her as she trotted along happily next to me. As I reached the deck I saw Jackson trying to make his way behind our gas grill to get to the fat trap that was full of rainwater and disgusting grease from a summer of grilling. “Jackson, OFF!” I told him just in time and body blocked him before he could take a lick of watery grease. I had blocked the access to this doggie delicacy with deck chairs because he had tried this on many other occasions.

We headed inside the house and I sat on the floor with them and played like we normally do every day at 4 pm and I laughed to myself about their behavior. “What on earth were you guys doing, Momma has to work to buy you food and cookies!” I told them as they brought me bones to hold and engaged me in our favorite game of 3-way-tug-o-war.

My video attempt was most definitely the epitome of the “laugh” of Love, Laugh, Woof. Sure they were going out of their way to be “bad” but I could not help but laugh at their timing and how it really seemed intentional to get my attention back to them. Since I was losing daylight, instead of filming my own video, I found an excellent video featuring the creator of the collar and shared that instead.

I thought about how Jax and Tink had done an excellent job of proving my point that you should always go outside with your dogs and pay attention to what they are doing no matter how old they are, because they can find themselves in a dangerous position within a matter of seconds. Jax’s escapades with the ropes of the hammock could have become a deadly choking hazard within minutes, and Tink could have easily swallowed shards of wood or perhaps nails or staples had she snatched up a piece with those in it if I had not been there to make her give it up.

I will also be checking to see how dog proofed our yard is and not assume that because I am outside with them all the time or that they are grown adult dogs that certain items will not become hazardous on any given day.

While this was intended to be a somewhat humorous story of how they were naughty on purpose to get my attention and that I will be recruiting a helper for videos going forward, it is dual purpose as it points out the very serious matter that it only takes a few seconds for your dog to end up in danger in your own yard or inside your home with everyday objects, with or without a collar on. The KeepSafe Breakaway Collar definitely helps alleviate some of the risks involving choking by a collar, but I also strongly recommend always supervising your dog in the yard whether on their own or when playing with the other dog(s) in your home.

 

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Collar Safety Awareness Week: The KeepSafe Break-Away Collar

Collar Safety Awareness Week: The KeepSafe Break-Away Collar

Collar Safety Awareness Week: The KeepSafe Break-Away Collar

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

 

Collar Safety Awareness Week: The KeepSafe Break-Away Collar Earlier this year, I shared with you the importance of ensuring that the information on your dog’s identification tags is up to date in case he or she is lost. Later in the summer I also shared some important information on pet collar safety, common dog collar and dog tag hazards, and my own approach to when my dogs should wear their collars and when they should not wear them, in the post Dog Collar Safety: When to Let Your Dog Go Naked. 

A few weeks ago I was thrilled when PetSafe contacted me and told me about their upcoming Collar Safety Awareness Week and asked if they could send me one of the KeepSafe Break-Away Collars for me to test. PetSafe is known for products including wireless and in-ground fences, automatic self-cleaning litter boxes for cats (something else I would happily test), digital feeders, electronic pet doors, and a variety of other products for cats and dogs. Of course I replied that I was happy to test out a collar, given my obsession with pet safety and my recent post about collar safety in particular. I was thrilled when not one but two collars arrived last week. 

Tinkerbell looks stunning in the pawprint KeepSafe Break-Away collar!
Tinkerbell looks stunning in the pawprint KeepSafe Break-Away colla

According to the PetSafe website, over 19 million dogs wear collars every day, and more than 26,000 collar related injuries happen each year. There are 71 incidents a day and over 50% of pet professionals have experienced a collar related incident. In my own blogs I have shared the personal stories of Jackson and Tinkerbell, both of whom have gotten their tags stuck in the wires of the dishwasher while sneaking a lick off the plates, and the story of when Tinkerbell’s tags became caught in the heating/cooling vent one night as she enjoyed her habit of snoozing on top of the air conditioning vent. 

Last summer we had a scary incident in the middle of the night when Tinkerbell woke me up by standing and whimpering next to my side of the bed. She had a habit of sleeping on top of the air conditioning vent and her tag had gone down through the slats while she was laying down and twisted. As a result, the entire metal vent cover came off of the vent when she stood up and was dangling awkwardly from her collar, the corner of the metal poking her in the neck slightly.

Since I was sound asleep it took me a minute to figure out what was attached to her and I quickly released her collar. Free from the metal grate, she jumped up into our bed and squirmed into my lap, her tail wagging furiously in fear and relief. After that I began to remove both dogs’ collars at night, although I have not seen her sleeping on top of the vent since.

In my post Dog Collar Safety: When to Let Your Pet Go Naked, I mention a variety of collar hazards including playtime between two or more dogs, crates/kennels, the dishwasher, and heating/cooling vents. In addition to those, the PetSafe also lists the slats of your deck, fences, and shrubs and bushes as potential choking hazards. Both the tags on the collar and the collar itself pose a risk that can turn deadly quickly, particularly as the dog begins to panic and try to pull or run away even more. 

Dog owner Tenney Mudge invented the KeepSafe Break-Away Safety Collar after the tragic death of her beloved Samoyed/Australian Shepherd named Chinook, who she lost to a collar strangulation accident. In order to prevent similar tragedies, Tenney developed and patented the special safety buckle on the KeepSafe Break-Away Safety Collar that releases when pressure is applied. The safety buckle is designed so that it will release, the collar will fall off, and the dog will be free of the hazard. 

Photo source: https://store.petsafe.net/keepsafe-collar

I could not wait to try this out on Jackson and Tinkerbell. The collar is excellent quality, made of a strong but silky polyester fabric. I received the limited edition Bones/Paws pattern which has brightly colored bones on a black background on one side and paw prints on the other, so that when you size the collar to fit your dog, you can see both prints. I love the way the aqua, coral and yellow print pops against their black fur but will also look adorable on any color fur. It also comes in a nylon fabric in black, orange, red, blue and purple. 

There is a regular heavy plastic buckle for regular use as well as the special breakaway buckle. There is also a small plastic tag holder to which you can attach your dog’s tags. 

Photo source: http://www.breakawaycollar.com/pics/collarclosed2.jpg

So how do you keep this collar on if you have a dog who pulls on the leash? That is where the genius of the two metal rings comes in!

The emergency release buckle is located behind the rings, so to attach a leash you just need to hook the leash to both rings, taking the pressure off the buckle and making it so that it will not release if your dog pulls on the leash.

It is important to note that you should never leave a leash or tie-out attached to your dog when you are not present and awake regardless of which collar you use. 

Photo source: http://www.breakawaycollar.com/pics/leash2.jpg

I definitely love this collar, the ingenious design, the nice quality materials, and I am extremely happy that PetSafe reached out to me to test it. I will also share my review of it via video so that you can see it with a leash attached and show you the safety release by pulling on it. Of course I will not put Jackson or Tinkerbell in harm’s way for a demo, so I will also try to recreate the situations in which they became entangled to the extent possible without their involvement. 

Even with this great safety feature, I will still continue to recommend that you remove all collars when putting your dog into their crate or kennel or if your dogs are about to start a game of what we call Zoomies or Bitey Face. However, this collar offers a  potentially lifesaving release in case someone forgets to remove a collar before the dogs go into their crates or if they become entangled while their humans are asleep, in the shower, or simply elsewhere in the house. 

 

You can shop for the KeepSafe Breakaway Safety Collar from Petsafe at my affiliate link below.

KeepSafe® Collars

Designed to prevent dogs from getting entangled by their collars; the KeepSafe® Break-A… [More]

Price: $9.99
This blog contains affiliate links for products that I use or recommend.

I will receive a small commission for any sales resulting from clicks on my affiliate links. I do not receive customer information and the retail price of your item is not affected. Affiliate links help bloggers earn revenue from their posts in exchange for product recommendations. I only refer products that I truly love and use or strongly recommend after research and careful consideration.