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7 shareable links about lawn care herbicides
Blogs, Happy, Healthy, Holistic Dogs, Uncategorized

7 Sharable Links About Lawn Care Herbicides and Dogs

In my most recent post, The White Flags of Springtime, I wrote about lawn care chemicals, dogs,  the studies that several universities have done linking lawn care chemicals like 2,4-D to dogs, and some measures that I take on a daily basis to try to minimize Jackson and Tinkerbell’s exposure to these chemicals. I also promised a blog with links that you could share via social media or to start conversations with neighbors who you know use these chemicals.

Let’s face it, we all want to yell, “Stop, are you crazy, don’t you know what you are doing!?!?” when you see the lawn care companies out en masse, or stop and glare angrily every time you see someone outside spraying grass that is far too close to home for you.  However, it is not going to go over well with your neighbors to boldly accuse them of poisoning the earth and its creatures, even if those creatures are us, our kids, and our animals. So what can we do instead?

Social media is a powerful tool, and Facebook is a perfect platform for you to share articles on things about which you are passionate. You can help raise awareness by sharing posts like this:

  1. There are more and more studies pointing to the dangers of lawn care chemicals. I say why chance it when we don’t need to use this stuff! https://www.nrdc.org/stories/24-d-most-dangerous-pesticide-youve-never-heard 
  2. I just read an interesting article on lawn care products. You might find it really interesting, too. https://www.rd.com/home/gardening/lawn-fertilizer-dangers/
  3. Check this out, there is some concerning information about lawn care products and kids at this link: https://www.ewg.org/research/24D/risks-to-children-from-24D#.WtjNIdPwZsM.
  4. Hey animal lover friends, this might interest you. There is some alarming information on how lawn care products may be harming animals, from pets to butterflies and bees! https://www.ewg.org/research/24D/pets-wildlife-24D#.WtjjzdPwZsM
  5. So basically this says that lawn care chemicals might not cause cancer in dogs, but do we really want to use something that was tested by being fed to beagles for a year???? https://www.24d.org/PDF/Scientific_Backgrounders/The%20Myth%20of%20Cancer%20in%20Dogs.pdf
  6. Honestly, if there’s even a chance that this stuff causes cancer in dogs or in anyone, I don’t want it on my grass! https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/15_4/features/Canine-Malignant-Lymphoma-and-Lawn-Pesticides_20494-1.html
  7. I just read a concerning post from a professional beekeeper whose bee colonies were sprayed with 2,4-D, one of the chemicals in lawn care products. Check it out! http://saulcreekapiary.com/honeybees-2-4-d/

Is this a little passive aggressive? Maybe, but it’s a good start to increasing the level of awareness that these products may not be as safe as the people who make them want us to believe. Just because it has been used for over six decades does not mean that it is safe for our day-to-day lives or that we need it right in our actual back yards. We have banned other substances created after WWII because they were unsafe, like DDT and aldicarb. If you change just one homeowners lawn care practices, it is definitely worth learning about this topic and sharing your knowledge on the topic.

 

 

 

 

 

Beware the Little White Flags of Springtime (1)
Blogs, Happy, Healthy, Holistic Dogs

The White Flags of Springtime: Being a Dog Owner in a World of Chemically Treated Lawns

The white flags are back, a sign of spring here in suburbia. I saw them yesterday as I walked with Jackson and Tinkerbell through our neighborhood, and I felt the annual flood of stress, frustration and disappointment that I feel every spring when so many homeowners in our neighborhood hire traditional lawn care companies to spray their yards with chemicals in pursuit of the perfect expanse of green grass. You know the chemicals that I mean, the ones that the industry says are so safe that they fed it to beagles as part of their testing and did not see any negative results, but that still require little white warning flags to let the world know that the products have been applied so that we do not walk or frolic in that grass for 48 hours.

This is not the first time I’ve written about this topic, and it won’t be the last. In the past I have written several blogs on the topic of dogs, lawn care products, and studies that link increased rates of cancer in dogs on chemically treated grass. You can read more about this topic at: Lawn Care Chemicals Linked to Cancer in Dogs and No Dogs on the Grass: Studies on Canine Cancer and Lawn Care Products. 

I have to admit, I dream of a world in which all homeowners realize the benefits of using an organic lawn care company that relies on all natural lawn care techniques instead of broadleaf weedkillers. A world in which we can watch our kids and dogs rolling around on the grass and not have to worry about whether or not the study done by veterinary team at Purdue University or the task force created to promote the use of 2,4-D had the accurate study. A world in which we can reduce the amount of plant waste that we send to landfills because we are using compost and grass clippings to achieve the American dream of a lush, green lawn.

I will also admit that after losing two dogs in row to cancer, the fear of any unseen toxins that my dogs are walking through sometimes makes me want to avoid walks in our neighborhood entirely. Just the other day I did not see the white flags in a neighbor’s yard until long after Jackson and Tinkerbell had thoroughly sniffed a large portion of his treated grass. But I cannot keep them in a protective bubble, simply because it is not fair to them to deny them the simple canine joy of going out and exploring the world with me.

Until we live in a world that embraces natural lawn care, here are the things that I do for my own dogs in an effort to minimize the effects of these chemicals in our lives.

Avoid Treated Lawns

Depending where you live, this can be extremely hard. Like I mentioned above, just the other day we the dogs and I walked through a yard in which some of the flags were missing at one end of the property, so I did not see them until we had walked the full length of the yard.

Try to avoid treated lawns and know that Purdue University determined in 2013 that lawn care products drift substantially from the area in which they are actually applied. As you see lawn care flags, make notes so that you can adjust your walking route and avoid those lawns on your daily walks. Shorten your dog’s leash when walking through affected yards and stick to the sidewalk or cross the street if possible.

You can also contact your local park department to inquire about what products are used in your municipal parks and if they have a routine schedule for when they apply pesticides. Look for natural areas that are not treated for weeds and take your dog on fun adventures to those locations, using an all natural tick preventative since the more natural the terrain, the more likely you are to encounter pests like ticks.

Post Walk Paw Wash & Wipe

1. Wash all paws in a foot soak using water with apple cider vinegar (1/2 cup vinegar per gallon of water) or an organic pet shampoo. Swoosh the paw through the water and use your fingers to massage the paws for a few second while in the soak. Rinse thoroughly in a second container of plain water and then dry well, including between the toe pads and webbing for breeds with webbed feet.

2. Wipe the entire dog from nose to tail with a damp cloth, including their legs, belly, nose and jowls. You can also use the same ratio of apple cider vinegar to water to soak the cloth or spray on them with a spray bottle, avoiding the eyes.

3. Wash my own feet (if wearing sandals or flip flops), ankles and calves to keep from spreading toxins on the floor, furniture and bedding that the dogs lay upon. This is also a good idea for owners whose dogs like to lick human toes or feet.

Dietary Supplements

Note: this is not intended as veterinary advice. Always consult with your veterinarian before adding any food or supplement to your dog’s diet. 

MicroFlora Plus or other probiotic for dogs: many experts believe that digestive health has a positive impact on an animal’s immune system. Although the food that I feed has a prebiotic and probiotic in it, I also add MicroFlora Plus to my dog’s bowls.

Wholistic Pet Organics diatomaceous earth: Scientific research has indicated that diatomaceous earth has a detoxifying property to it, so I add food grade diatomaceous earth from Wholistic Pet. Just make sure you purchase food grade diatomaceous earth, not the variety that is sold for outdoor use.

Watch for our next blog in which we talk about positive links to share with friends and family to encourage all natural lawn care practices. 

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.

a sick dog on a sunday
Blogs, Life with Jackson & Tinkerbell, Uncategorized

A Sick Dog on a Sunday

A Sick Dog on a Sunday

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Jax enjoying the sun

I hate Murphy’s Law. I prefer to follow the more positive, manifesting-good-stuff-from-the-universe mindset that everything is going to be awesome and work out. But then Murphy’s Law strikes…you know, the whole “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong” nonsense. As far as dogs are concerned, Murphy’s Law is most definitely that “if your dog is going to get sick or injured, it is going to be on a weekend!” If you, too are a dog owner, I know that you understand.

Jackson had a bad case of colitis a few months ago, right after the start of the new year. I knew things were bad when he turned his nose up at food, something Labrador Retrievers simply do not do. Ever. After a trip to the vet, a prescription for Flagyl and some other antibiotics, he was on the mend and back to his normal happy, healthy, food loving self.

Until yesterday afternoon…after the vet’s office had closed.

Normally I don’t take the dogs to the vet right away for some run of the mill loose stools. I will give them some Perfect Form from The Honest Kitchen or a dose of a probiotic and wait a day or two to see if things firm up. Usually they do and we go on with our lives.

Unfortunately, this time, Jackson’s stomach woes moved from diarrhea to vomiting around bedtime last night and he and I were up for most of the night until around 4 a.m. The first two trips outside, within an hour of us going to bed, were to eliminate his bowels. I appreciated the urgency with which he woke me and literally ran to the door in order to not poop in our home, and I felt bad for the stress that he must be feeling since his ability to get outside depends entirely on me.

Around midnight, diarrhea changed to vomiting and he whined and cried to go outside, at which point he ate grass until I made him stop and come back inside, then puked up the grass and bile immediately, and then whined and cried to go back outside to repeat the process. It was not a good night as I dealt with exhaustion and worried about him, and we both tried to figure out how to make him feel better.

Because we have had a few incidents over the years of “empty tummy syndrome” with both dogs in the middle of the night, I decided to give him a tiny bit of food, which had the desired effect of temporarily settling his stomach so we could both get a bit of sleep. Miraculously, we did ok from 4 a.m. until 8 a.m. at which point he woke me to resume the grass-eating/grass-puking cycle.

After considering all of my options this morning, I decided to mix a teaspoon of baking soda with a half a cup of water while I also prepared some plain white rice for him. The baking soda and water would essentially be the dog version of a homemade Tums and help decrease the stomach acid that seemed to be bothering him and causing him seek out the grass. I added a few spoonfuls of the baking soda water to a cup or so of rice and added a little dollop of canned pumpkin. He was not interested at first, but eventually he ate it, and we have not had any vomiting since, and it is now almost dinner. In a few hours, I will repeat this meal, only I will give him the baking soda mixture in a clean syringe that I kept from when we had a liquid medicine at some point before, since the pumpkin did not cover up the taste of the baking soda water like I had hoped.

Needless to say, it has been a stressful twelve hours for me, between losing sleep, worrying about my beloved dog, cleaning up vomit in various spots on the carpet, trying to keep Tinkerbell from eating the vomit or trying to rough-house with her under-the-weather big brother. I gave up trying to sleep in my bed last night in favor of the sofa, so that I would be closer to a door to the outside when he nudged me with his beautiful black nose and gave the urgent “Mom, Mom, Mom gotta get out RIGHT now, this is NOT a drill” message to me. I am hoping we can move back up to our bedroom tonight if this combination of baking soda water, rice and pumpkin continues to do the trick.

I’ve thought longingly that I just need a black market Flagyl dealer for these times when stomach and intestinal woes come at a time the vet clinic is not open, as I am pretty confident we have a week or so of that magical elixir in our future. Although in reality I would  never give my dogs something illegally obtained and not from my trusted vet, such a situation is just a silly daydream as I pick pieces of kibble and grass out of my carpet and then squirt the area with vinegar and water. I know, though, there are many dog owners who would understand a cartoon or meme of a shady back alley deal between a desperate dog mom and someone with the ability to get their dog to stop vomiting.

Of course, I will be setting an alarm for the moment the vet’s office opens tomorrow morning to try to get a same day appointment for him. One of the benefits of staying with the same doctor and clinic for so many years is that they know me and are great at trying to get me in for these last minute things. I feel confident that the vet can fix him up, but I also worry about why he is going through this so soon after the last time.

Is this a sign of what’s to come now that my big boy is a middle aged dog, or is this simply because I have to keep switching to our backup brand of food due to the venison shortage in New Zealand that is likely impacting the availability of our regular food? His regular food has prebiotics, probiotics, and all sorts of ingredients that promote healthy digestion, so it could make sense that to put him on our second choice for food could be wreaking havoc without those special ingredients that he has eaten literally his entire life, even if the protein and binding agent are similar or identical.

As a dog blogger, or any sort of blogger, I feel like I should try to share the best parts of dog ownership, the helpful tricks and tips, the funny stories, the heartwarming moments. But sometimes, dog ownership is hard and stressful, we lose sleep, we clean grass and bile out of our carpets, we sit on our deck at 3 a.m. on the verge of tears while our dogs eat grass that we know they are going to puke back up, we count down the hours until the vet’s office opens, and we worry about why our babies are so under the weather. I know that we have all wanted our dogs to be able to just tell us what is the matter and what they need to feel better, and at the same time have them understand that if they just moved a few inches to the left that they could puke on the tile floor instead of the carpet.

At the end of the day, this is what we signed up for. The good, the bad, and the yucky. I wouldn’t give up a single moment of time with my dogs or wish away any of our experiences, although if you know anyone who wants to give a blogger a nice massage and maybe a nap under a warm blanket, I will happily write about that experience, too.

 

Jackson's Awkward Snuggling
Blogs, Life with Jackson & Tinkerbell

Jackson’s Awkward Snuggling

Jackson’s Awkward Snuggling

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

If you’ve read my book or followed my blogs, you know that when Jackson was just two and a half weeks old, he sustained a broken leg. It was a freak accident in which his mother must have leaned on him in just the wrong way with her elbow while Jax was nursing with his legs stretched out behind him, breaking a small bone in one of his back legs.

Because our breeder is the epitome of what a loving and responsible breeder should be, she was able to get him into the veterinarian for x-rays right away. She learned that it was a clean break, not near a growth plate, that would heal on its own without a cast and most likely never bother him again, which it has not. However, in order for this healing to occur, it meant that his three brothers would have to stay off of him, but also that special measures would have to be taken to ensure that he did not miss out on the critical social aspects of being in the whelping pen with his siblings. There are so many important developmental phases in those eight weeks that puppies and their mother spend together that there was no way he could miss out on being in the whelping pen.

In order to keep Jackson with his mother and brothers in the whelping pen but also protect his leg, she used a small puppy sized travel crate for him to sleep in at night when the humans in the house were sleeping and not able to supervise things.  During the day, someone was always there to watch things, so he had plenty of time with his mother and litter mates, so he was only in there at night, and I remember her saying that she would wake in the morning to find the other three boys snuggled up against the crate door to be near him, something so sweet and endearing that I tear up thinking about their instinct to be near each other, to be touching each other. And so, by the time we picked him up at eight weeks old, he was a happy, healthy, chunky Labrador pup, normal in every way, just like his brothers, but with the added bonus of already being used to sleeping in a crate.

This made our lives much easier when he came home to us, because it was one less thing for him to get used to. He still had us up four times a night the first few weeks, he still gave a few little whimpers before settling down and going to sleep like any puppy the first few nights, but all in all he had already learned that sleep and a crate went together. This was fabulous at human bedtime but it had one negative side effect: we had a dog with zero interest in snuggling with us while he slept. None. Nada. Not happening.

No matter how tired he was, no matter how much time he had played and frolicked and run puppy zoomies with his Basset Hound sister, he would not fall asleep on us, near us, or anywhere outside of his crate. Believe me, I tried to encourage him to snuggle up in a ball of sleeping puppy on my lap. He would sit sweetly next to me, he loved to receive affection, but he would never fall asleep. When he was a very small puppy I figured out that when he went from “energetic puppy” to “maniac puppy” that I needed to go and put him in his crate, at which point he would flop down as if he was grateful for the break.

As he grew older, anytime he grew tired, he would literally walk away in the middle of what we were doing, trot over to his living room crate (we had two, one in our bedroom, one in our main living area) and plop down. Every. Single. Time. Every now and then he will still do this, so that I’m in the middle of giving him an ear scratch and he just walks away and lays down in his kennel.

I tried my hardest to show him the joy in snuggling, I encouraged him to become a giant lap dog who doesn’t know his own size like every single other Labrador I had ever had in my life. If he was drifting off to sleep in his crate I even went so far as to pick him up and put him on the sofa next to me, but he would hop right back down, and go back into his crate. I used training treats and taught him “up” and that he was not only permitted but encouraged to get on all of the furniture. He would lay on the sofa and chew on an antler or nibble on a toy, or lay next to us without touching, but still no snuggling.

Fortunately, he has become more snuggly over the years. He’s always been a sweet, loyal and loving dog, he just is a solo sleeper. It’s kind of like he’s saying, “I’ll take that tummy rub and you can scratch behind my ears…ok, that’s plenty, now I’m going to go nap over here on my own. Love you, mean it!”

Jackson Awkward Snuggling
Awkward Snuggling with a Labrador Lean throw in.

Out of nowhere in the last year or so, Jackson has realized he loves to join my husband on the sofa. We have “his and her” spots on our sofa, and when my husband is in his spot, Jax jumps up, leans all of his 78 pounds of body weight on my husband’s chest in what is known among Labrador lovers as the “Labrador Lean” and then slowly slides down until his head is on the sofa cushion next to my husband’s leg and his butt and tail are up in the air up by my hubby’s armpit before sliding all the way down on his back, legs up in the air and ready for a tummy rub.

The first few times Jackson did this, my husband laughed and said, “Oh, Jackson, you are learning to snuggle but you sure are an awkward dog!”

Jax started to do this behavior more and more and my husband would tell him, “Come on up, buddy, come on and awkwardly snuggle with me.” One day I was home alone and Tinkerbell was snoozing comfortably in my spot on the sofa, so I sat in my husband’s normal spot. Jax came over to me and laid his head on the sofa and looked up at me.

“Awkward snuggle with Momma?” I asked him hopefully.

To my elated surprise, he jumped up, threw all of his weight up against my chest, and went into his usual position. “Good boy, awkward snuggle, good boy, awkward snuggle, good boy,” I told him to reinforce the language to him.

Since then Jackson has learned that Awkward Snuggle is indeed fun, he now responds to just the word “awkward” as an invitation to jump up with us, and he has extended the amount of time that he spends on the sofa with us, even napping sweetly next to us for as long as an hour.

We have learned that he will do this behavior with any human who is sitting in that spot, but will not do Awkward Snuggling on any other piece of furniture in the room or at the other end of the same sofa. It must be that exact spot. However, Awkward Snuggling has led to some other new and pleasantly surprising snuggling opportunities, like the day he napped sweetly next to me like a “normal” dog with his head on my lap, stretched out sideways on the cushion next to me.

Our big boy just turned seven yesterday, and while I kinda miss the insanity that comes along with two young Labrador Retrievers, I adore the big chilled-out, mature boy that he has become. He is nowhere close to acting like a senior dog or slowing down physically, and he definitely gets mischief in his mind from time to time, but he has a soothing, calm vibe to him. We have our unspoken language that we share, and our bond just gets better and better daily. His snuggling may be a little awkward, but his place as a special heart dog comes quite naturally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Healthy Dogs Group Mighty Networks platform Love Laugh Woof
Blogs, Dog Owner Education Center, Uncategorized

The Happy, Healthy Dogs Group

The Happy, Healthy Dogs Group

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

We dog owners understand each other. We understand the joy that a dog can bring by doing even the simplest thing, whether it’s nudging us with their nose every morning as a wake-up call or putting their paw on their face, an act that is like human kryptonite. We understand the worry and anguish when our dog is not feeling well or acting right. We understand the connection that pulls us home when our non-dog owner friends want to stay out for just one more drink or sit and linger over coffee. And we understand the heartbreak when we have to say goodbye to our dog, and the prayer that we will indeed see him or her again at the rainbow bridge.

Happy Healthy Dogs Group on Mighty NetworksLast November, I came down with some sort of nasty flu. I slept quite fitfully for several days straight while I battled a fever. You know the type: freezing for ten minutes, roasting for ten minutes, back and forth. I was delirious, too, and so thankful that my husband was home for most of that time to care for the dogs, and equally thankful when he was working that the dogs are so nicely trained and easy to care for that I could do it while sick. Tinkerbell, in particular, stayed glued to me in bed the entire time, and Jax came over to give me his signature wet nosed nudge from time to time.

At some point during that feverish haze, I had a clear picture, almost like a vision, of where I wanted to take Love, Laugh, Woof in the future. Maybe it was because I felt so guilty that I was in bed and not being productive, or maybe it was because my mind was not able to obsess on the day to day tasks like normal, allowing it to open up and think big, but for whatever reason, I had an epiphany that I managed to scribble down in one of the many notebooks that are always by my side before falling back into a flu-ridden sleep.

That note said:

Love, Laugh, Woof is an entire world for dog owners to come and learn about dogs, to celebrate dogs, and to get to bond with other dog owners who love dogs like I love dogs! It’s a place for people to return to, over and over, to hang out, make friends, and to feel free to talk about their dog as much as they want while learning how to make the best life possible for them!!

There were underscores, stars, arrows, and all sorts of other drawings to remind myself that I meant what I was writing, that this was the real deal!

I had just spent over a week at Walt Disney World, and maybe I was motivated by Walt’s dream of creating a magical place where families could come together, maybe I was encouraged by his gift of imagining how to achieve the impossible, or maybe I was just imagining the type of place where I would want to hang out…but after my fever broke and my brain started to function again, I re-read that note. And then I read it again. I kinda laughed at first at the thought of finding millions of dollars in funding to build a dog theme park, a canine sort of Disney, but then I realized that I could create a virtual world and everything just clicked!

You see, Love, Laugh, Woof has never been “just” a blog to me. It has always been about making a difference in the lives of dogs everywhere. Your dog, my dog, other people’s dogs, and dogs that are nobody’s dogs, I want to help them all live happy, healthy lives. Thankfully, the universe sent me a way to make this happen in a much faster timeframe than I believed to ever be possible, and I am thrilled to have launched the Happy, Healthy Dogs Group on February 20!

The Happy, Healthy Dog Group is a new way for dog lovers to come together, celebrate our forever dogs, get to know fellow like-minded dog lovers, while also learning about how to create a happier, healthier lifestyle for their dogs in the areas of mind, body and environment as well as other topics. 

In addition to the social networking aspect of the group in a dedicated site, away from the noise and the manipulative algorithms of Facebook that control what you see or don’t seemembership includes access to exclusive content that consists of educational articlescurated content written by other pet professionalsmonthly courses that you can take in small, manageable chunks instead of all at once, weekly QA callsplus interviews with other pet experts in their areas of expertise.

As we really get rolling and build a large base of members, my vision is to also offer live, in-person events, whether it’s free seminars, getting together to walk our dogs, or just having coffee or lunch with fellow dog lovers! And if I’m not physically in your part of the country, that’s ok, because it’s my hope that you will make friends with other members!

I am of course bark-out-loud, tail-waggingly happy to introduce this group into the world of dog owners, and I hope that you will join me and tell your friends about it! If you’re ready to experience it, membership is literally less than the price of a single latte per month, and you can click on this link: Join the Happy, Healthy Dogs Group. PLUS, you can earn free swag for you and your dog for referring other members!

I wanted to create the exact type of group that I would want to join myself, which means lots of value at a low price and the opportunity to earn free stuff! Four. Paws. UP! Our first mini-course will launch next week on the topic of being prepared for someone else to care for your dog if you are traveling away from home or in the event of an emergency, and I hope to see you there!

 

 

 

Springsteen Lyrics, Dog Training, and What They Have in Common
Blogs, Life with Jackson & Tinkerbell, Uncategorized

Springsteen Lyrics, Dog Training, and What They Have in Common

Springsteen Lyrics, Dog Training, and What They Have in Common

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Springsteen Lyrics, Dog Training, and What They Have in CommonThe other day I was driving in my car, and I turned on the radio. Of course it was set to its usual position on Sirius XM’s EStreet Radio, which is where it remains whether I’m running down the backstreets, if I’m going to drive all night, and especially when the highway’s jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive

In fact, I’ve been listening almost exclusively to Springsteen ever since my parents bought me my first Springsteen record in 1986. And before you think it was Born in the USA that set this obsession in motion, it was actually the Live 1975-1985 boxed set that swept me up into this thirty plus year love of all things Bruce. I am an old soul and a creature of habit musically, happily jamming out to concerts that were recorded when I was just a young Jerseygirl, playing on the swing set in Sparta, New Jersey with our dog Snoop by my side.Basically I have been living with a Labrador Retriever by my side and a Bruce Springsteen song on the radio for the majority of my life.

The other day I was cruising home after a meeting, music cranked up as loud as it could go (the dogs were waiting at home for me) and singing my heart out to one song after another, with all of their complicated lyrics flowing from my brain and voice without a single mistake. This is of course a regular occurrence that happens literally every time I go somewhere, but in the middle of singing I started laughing as I realized I had cruised right past the healthy pet food store and I desperately needed to replenish our supply of dog treats.

“How on earth can I remember every single word to a massive catalog of songs with super complicated lyrics yet I cannot remember to stop at the store for one single thing that’s been on my to-do list for a week,” I mused to myself.

Then it occurred to me. The same reason I knew the words to nearly every single Springsteen song is the same reason my dogs know that when I put certain shoes on my feet it means that I am taking them outside versus going somewhere without them. The same reason I know all of the special nuances I am listening to the live version of a song is the same reason the dogs know where to turn to head for home when we go for a walk.

That reason is repetition, repetition, repetition.

Nearly every training article you will read about dogs mentions the importance of repetition anytime you want to teach your dog something. It is through this exact method that I can sing you the complicated lyrics of a song like Jungleland but I cannot repeat the directions my husband just told me on how to get from location A to location B or remember to pick up some Fruitables for the dogs. I have sung that song hundreds of times in the last thirty or more years, correcting myself when I made a mistake; I have only heard the driving directions from my hubby once. As for the dog treats, I suppose that is an outlier from these examples  because dog treats are on my shopping list all the time.

Repetition is what has those lyrics stuck in my head when the directions were gone the moment my husband spoke them. Repetition is the reason why my dogs know that the act of me checking to make sure the back door is locked does not necessarily mean that I want them to do anything, but the act of me checking to make sure the back door is locked paired with grabbing a dog treat from the counter means that they are going into their crates.

Now this is the important part: your dog is watching your actions and learning from repetition whether you want him to or not. This means that you might be teaching your dog to do things that you do not want her to do, entirely by accident. The best example of this in our own home is Jackson’s “bad” habit of stealing things from our living room side tables when he wants to play with me. It goes all the way back to puppyhood when he was in the puppy version of the terrible twos.

If you’ve ever raised a Labrador Retriever puppy, you know the age that I mean. It’s that time when your puppy has become comfortable in his or her new home and is getting into everything with their razor-sharp puppy teeth and a seemingly endless amount of energy. It’s that portion of puppy rearing when in one short minute they might do things like bite down on your Achilles tendon with the force of a velociraptor, chew on the leg of your favorite table, attack your throw pillows, grab onto your shirt sleeve with all their might, and then stare you in the face as they pee on the floor just five minutes after their last potty break outside.

Jackson was particularly crazy and brazen at this age, and I spent hours each day redirecting his attention, telling him “no” when he tried to destroy our worldly possessions, thrusting a toy or antler into his mouth telling him “yessssss, good boy” whenever he had a dog friendly item in his mouth, and then engaging him in a play session for as long as his attention span would allow it until he went on to locate the next contraband item to test with his mouth.

Eventually Jackson figured out through repetition and a lot of trial and error that he was not in fact allowed to destroy our home and that he had his own toys and chewy things always available whenever he wanted to play or chew. Now, if you’ve read my blogs before, you know that I refer to Jackson as being “Sheldon Cooper smart” and that if he was a human he would probably have a PhD, studying string theory or dark matter somewhere. But, he is a dog, and instead of figuring out the universe, he has used his magnificent brain to figure out that any time he wants to play with me or get my attention, all he has to do is be naughty. And if you guessed that he learned through repetition, you are correct!

In retrospect, I probably should have removed myself from the play session when he needed to be corrected during those formative puppy rearing days, more like what a mother dog would do, but redirecting his attention from the contraband item and engaging him in play with an appropriate toy worked so well that I never questioned what I was doing. Plus, I’ve never had a dog so freakishly smart as this one. We used the same method with Tinkerbell and she has not developed this knowledge of how to get my attention. She just walks up to me and drops a toy in my lap if she wants to play.

Jackson, though, at six years old, still jumps onto the sofa, grabs the nearest thing he can, and starts to destroy it as he watches me with a side eye to see if I am going to come and stop him. He’s snatched up pens, books, magazines, catalogs, bottles of hand lotion, several remote controls, and even a picture frame. Of course I’ve tried to outsmart him by removing all objects from the side tables, but when I did that he grabbed a table lamp and tried to steal it. He also only does this when he wants me to play with him. He has never once done this when my husband is with him or to get the attention of any of our teens. Only me.

Of course I take full credit for accidentally teaching this to him and I am working hard to un-teach this behavior. Whenever he jumps up onto the sofa to grab something from the side tables, I tell him a firm no and force myself to not engage in fun playtime with him as a result of his demands. It is not easy, though, as he throws himself onto the ground with his legs in the air and his big otter tail wagging, waiting for me to rub his tummy as if he’s saying, “Ok, momma, I stole the stuff, now it’s your turn to come play with me!”

Now I wait fifteen or twenty minutes after he’s given up and then invite him back over for a tummy rub and some Jackson/Momma time. It breaks my heart to ignore him, but he seems to be catching on bit by bit that I do not react favorably anymore. He is learning that all he needs to do to get my attention is to roll upside down for a tummy rub or offer me a toy without being destructo-dog.

I know that many dog owners struggle with bad habits that their dogs have picked up, but they do not realize that they have accidentally helped their dog learn the behavior. In the same way you know all of the lyrics to your favorite songs, your dog is learning from you and the actions that you are doing, whether you want them to learn that behavior or not. Just like with Jackson, some of those behaviors are favorable and some of them probably drive you nuts.

Fortunately you can change these behaviors with additional training so that they will stop doing the things that you accidentally taught them. As for myself and my love of Springsteen music, I am not as easy to retrain, much to the dismay of the non-Springsteen loving humans of my house who would probably give me all of the treats and cookies they could find if I would just stop the behavior that I learned so many years ago as I listened to my first Springsteen album with a Labrador Retriever by my side.

I have included a free printable worksheet for you to think through and identify some of those behaviors. If you are not sure about how to remedy an issue and if it is more serious than an annoying habit, always partner with a professional dog trainer. My favorite resource for finding a trainer is to start with the Association of Professional Dog Trainers website: APDT Trainer Search. Click here to download your worksheet: Worksheet for Springsteen Lyrics, Dog Training and What they Have in Common

 

 

 

CONSULT YOUR VETERINARIAN, NOT YOUR FACEBOOK FRIENDS
Blogs

Consult Your Veterinarian, Not Your Facebook Friends

Consult Your Veterinarian, Not Your Facebook Friends

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

CONSULT YOUR VETERINARIAN,  NOT YOUR FACEBOOK FRIENDSJackson has not been feeling well this week and I have been a worried dog parent. After two trips to the vet and several medications later, he seems to be getting back to his normal self. I was elated to see happy tail wagging and some interest in playtime with Tinkerbell, particularly after a rough day yesterday.

It all started with some very loose stools, but I was not too alarmed because he was on a different food than our normal Canine Caviar because I had been tardy in placing our online order. When he vomited a few times over a five-day period, I grew more concerned but decided to wait and see if it would pass on his own. He had been eating grass and I wondered if that too was a result of being on a different food. But when Jackson turned up his nose at breakfast on Monday, I called the vet immediately. He is a dog who loves to eat, and he has only turned down food once in his entire life. After a thorough exam, blood work, and my vet’s analysis of his fecal sample under her microscope, we had a diagnosis: colitis.

On Tuesday I could see significant improvement and was excited that the vomiting stopped, his voracious appetite was back, his poop slightly more firm, and he was acting more like his normal self. On Wednesday, though, he was listless and only wanted to curl up on the sofa in the smallest ball that a 75 pound Labrador Retriever can morph into. I noticed as I petted him and checked on him that he would not fully open one of his eyes. You could see it in his face and body language that he felt awful. Once again, we headed to the vet and this time he was diagnosed with uveitis, an inflammation of the eye.

Jackson’s swollen eye

Today is Thursday and his eye is already open again after just two doses of prescription steroidal eye drops. His spunk and energy is returning and he engaged Tinkerbell in some playtime this afternoon. Of course as his energy returns, my own stress level recedes. I am relieved and thankful that we went to the vet for both issues and that we have medicine that worked so quickly to help him feel better.

As a dog owner it can often be confusing about when to run to the vet and when to wait to see if an issue will resolve itself. Some dog owners are afraid of being the type of human to run their dogs to the doctor for every sneeze or loose stool, but the fact that our dogs cannot speak to us with words makes it tricky to try to figure out how they feel. For other dog owners it is the cost involved, particularly if an issue turns out to be something that could just pass naturally on its own.

As their caretakers, we have to rely on our knowledge of how they usually act to determine if they are not feeling good. For many dogs, taking a moment to decide if they want to eat or not when given their food is quite normal behavior. My late Babe was a grazer, even as a Labrador, and did not always eat at first. For Jackson, it was a huge red flag that it was time to consult my veterinarian to see what was wrong.

One day later, already much better!

Personally, I will always “err” on the side of caution with my dogs and go to the vet. I don’t consider it an error at all, in fact I would rather go on a false alarm than not know what is happening. I will try to fix some things on my own, like treating loose stools with a probiotic or a serving of Perfect Form by The Honest Kitchen for a few days before taking them into the veterinary clinic. If I see or smell the start of an ear infection, I will treat it with Panalog for a day or two that I have on hand from past ear issues. I have some holistic essential oil mixtures for things like hot spots or minor skin irritations. Anything more than those situations, though, and I want an expert opinion.

As a dog lover and dog blogger, I am in quite a few dog related groups on various social media platforms, and I always cringe when I see photographs of various issues and the question of, “What do you think this is?” It is interesting and sometimes alarming to see the types of questions that people will ask their peers in Facebook groups expecting an educated answer.

Around 80% of the replies to these medical advice inquiries consist of other owners telling stories of how their own dog had a rash or lump or whatever is being asked about and how they dealt with it. The other 20% of the replies are fellow dog owners whose comment is the same as what I am thinking in my own head, “Stop asking on here and just take your dog to the vet!”

Don’t get me wrong, I have made some amazing friends on Facebook and many of those have vast knowledge of dogs, dog behavior, and dog health. But none of them are veterinarians except for my actual veterinarian, and I try my hardest not to abuse our friendship by asking her medical questions outside of the office.

As someone who has lived the last four decades with dogs, I have seen and dealt with a lot of medical issues. I have tended to my dogs’ medical needs for everything from a bloody tail worn raw by wagging across a cement floor in the boarding kennel to providing physical therapy three times a day for four months to our Basset Hound following spinal surgery. I have applied every type of ointment, eye drop, ear drop, slurry, or pill you can imagine. Through all of that, I am not a veterinarian and I never will be.

Neither I nor the hundreds of thousands of fellow dog owners on Facebook can correctly diagnose a growth, rash, pulled muscle, virus, or other illness through a photograph of a dog who is miles away. In fact, by asking, all you are doing is freaking yourself out and wasting valuable time when you could be setting up an appointment with the one person in your life who can tell you what’s wrong. Trust me, I know about the freaking yourself out part!

I used to be the type of person to immediately Google any symptom that the dogs or I were having. My husband was only half-joking when he used to tell me that he was going to figure out how to block sites like WebMD because I would find a whole array of things that “could” be the issue and I would worry myself into a frenzy before ever getting to the human doctor or veterinarian. Over time he has rubbed off on me and I have mostly figured out to stay calm and not panic until all of the information is available and we have seen an actual medical professional who has done an exam, any necessary tests, and given a diagnosis and possible treatments.

Sharing a photo to social media for all of the armchair veterinarians to analyze can have the same result: driving you crazy and causing major stress until you can see the actual vet. Since dogs can sense our stress levels and will react to them, by stressing yourself out worrying, you could be causing your dog to be tense at a time when you want them to be as relaxed as possible in order to promote healing. As a reformed Google-er and worrier, I can tell you that you will be happy that you did and the money you spent getting an actual answer (instead of amateur speculation) is well worth the mental peace that goes hand in paw as you get her or him back to feeling their happy, healthy self.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jackson and the Tissue and the Angel Dogs in Our Life
Blogs, Life with Jackson & Tinkerbell

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?
Dog Owner Education Center, Planning for a New Dog, Workshops

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"]
Finding reliable pet care worksheet cover
Workshop: Finding Reliable Pet Care for Those Times You Cannot Be There
This course teaches you how to create a pet care binder in case someone else needs to take care of your dog, how to determine if a pet sitter, boarding kennel or other option is right for 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. Also includes an interview with an estate planning attorney who provides tips on how to include your dog in your will in the event of accidental death of an owner.

This course is included in the Happy, Healthy Dogs Group as part of the membership fee. Click here to join: The Happy, Healthy Dogs Group.

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
Workshop: Surviving Puppyhood
Puppies 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
Finding reliable pet care worksheet cover
Safety & Emergency Prepping, Workshops

Workshop: Finding Reliable Pet Care for Those Times You Cannot Be There

This course teaches you how to create a pet care binder in case someone else needs to take care of your dog, how to determine if a pet sitter, boarding kennel or other option is right for 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. Also includes an interview with an estate planning attorney who provides tips on how to include your dog in your will in the event of accidental death of an owner.

This course is included in the Happy, Healthy Dogs Group as part of the membership fee. Click here to join: The Happy, Healthy Dogs Group.

compassionate pet owner
Compassionate Pet Owner, Workshops

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
Senior Dogs, Workshops

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
Food & Nutrition, Workshops

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
Happy, Healthy, Holistic Dogs, Workshops

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
Safety & Emergency Prepping, Workshops

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
Workshops

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

Workshops

Workshop: Surviving Puppyhood

Puppies 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

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Planning for a new puppy or dog
Planning for a New Dog, Workshops

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
Blogs, Surviving Puppyhood

Christmas Puppies & Winter House Training Tips

Christmas Puppies & Winter House Training Tips

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Christmas Puppies & Winter House Training TipsAs 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?
Blogs, Planning for a New Dog

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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