A Beautiful Blessing From Bentley's Pet Stuff
Blogs, Life with Jackson & Tinkerbell, Products & Places I Love For Dogs, Uncategorized

A Beautiful Blessing From Bentley’s Pet Stuff

Last week our country observed the seventeenth anniversary of the horrific September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. I had intentionally stayed away from social media that day because I am adamant that I never want to profit in any way from the murder of 2,996 innocent people, even if it is from an increase in clicks and engagement because I posted something. That is how seriously I take that solemn and important day. However, I cannot help but share the beautiful “thank you” gift that we received from Bentley’s Pet Stuff because of my husband’s work in the fire service. 

Late that afternoon I realized that I had forgotten to purchase food for Jackson and Tinkerbell, and I ran out to our local Bentley’s Pet Stuff. Because I am a regular customer there, I knew both of the women working and we chatted for a while after I had paid for the food. Somehow the topic came up that my husband is a professional full-time firefighter, and they surprised me by telling me that they were going to refund my purchase. The owner of Bentley’s Pet Stuff had sent out an email that morning that they would be covering up to $100 of any purchases made by police officers or firefighters that day as a way of saying thank you for their service.

I was shocked and nearly started to cry right then and there in the store, completely overwhelmed with gratitude at this gesture. They told me to grab some treats and more food, then refunded my cash purchase. I held back the tears and said thank you about a dozen times before one of them said, “Don’t thank us, we are saying thank you to you and your husband for what he does for the community!” After I left, I made it all the way to the car, put my items in the back, and then started to cry for real, big hot tears of gratitude flowing down my face.

I know I don’t write about my husband much, and the reason for that is that he is very private, and this is a blog about dogs, not my life as a fire-wife. There are blogs out there written by other fire wives about being married to a firefighter, because it’s definitely not your normal 9-5 job.

Firefighters are a unique personality type and each call puts them right in the middle of the worst day of someone else’s life. They see things that other humans cannot fathom, and every day is entirely different from the last with zero ability to predict what might happen on any given shift.

Most of them honor a very long tradition of never bringing the job home to their spouse, so I rarely hear about any calls. They handle life and stress quite differently, and over time I have learned that the best thing I can do in terms of moral support and understanding is to simply be there without pressing for information. I know very little what his day is like except for the times he does fire inspections at the no-kill shelter near his firehouse and he sends me a photo of a dog that he is tempted to add to our canine family. 

Tinkerbell Loves to Snuggle with Daddy
Tinkerbell Loves to Snuggle with Daddy

Jackson and Tinkerbell can always get a smile out of him no matter how hard of a shift he has had. They will hear his truck pull up, the garage door open and their ears perk up. I say, “Daddy’s home! Go find Daddy!” and they run to the inside garage door, big otter tails wagging like crazy to greet their beloved Daddy.

Our non-snuggle pup Jackson is drawn to his daddy and will do his “awkward snuggling” routine with him because they share a dog-human bond of not enjoying people hanging on them or showering them with kisses and over the top attention like Tinkerbell and I both enjoy. And Tinkerbell’s lack of personal space, endless puppy kisses and insistence on climbing on top of his chest like a 65 pound baby can blast through any bad mood because she has him wrapped around her dew claw.

As I sat down to write this blog, I realized that this gift of food and treats from Bentley’s Pet Stuff was more than simply a financial gift. It was a way to nourish and fuel the dogs who do such a good job of loving their firefighter daddy in a pure, unselfish way in which their lack of words is a bonus instead of a detriment. Thank you, Bentley’s Pet Stuff, for supporting your first responders and the dogs who love them. 

Jax napping with his Dad
Jax napping with his Dad

If you read this blog, please consider donating to a reputable fire service related organization like the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance: https://www.ifsa.org/

Blogs, Life with Jackson & Tinkerbell, Love, Laugh, Woof Life

Vows, Comfort and Familiarity

My husband and I celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary earlier this week, and I was thinking about the vows that we took on that day in 2009. Like most couples these days we wrote our own personal vows that we spoke to each other and exchanged rings to the traditional words, "in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, forsaking all others, for as long as we both shall live." VOWS, COMFORT & FAMILIARITY

Of course, since we were in our mid-thirties when we met, we had each seen our share of both sides of that proverbial equation before we met, so we were not naive that life could throw some crazy stuff at anyone without warning. But, I still hoped that maybe we would be lucky and be spared the negatives even though I knew that we would be fully capable of handling anything together.

I also thought about how some things have changed and others stayed gloriously the same from our wedding day. Yeah, we've become old-married-homebodies in some ways, like watching The Big Bang Theory on TLC literally every night, but I can say that I still get that same feeling of excitement when he comes through the door after work as I did when my Dad and I walked out of the bride's room of our wedding venue and I saw him at the end of the aisle waiting for me.

This same feeling strikes me when we are at Disney and I have to use the ladies room and come out to see him standing off to the side, looking up ride times on his phone and planning our next activity. My heart skips a beat, I am overcome love, and I think " That's MY husband, I am the luckiest girl in the world!!!" I know his body language, his way of standing, his facial expressions, his mannerisms so well that I can always pick him out of a crowd in a matter of seconds. It doesn't hurt that he's 6'4" with a shaved head, but still, it's a feeling of joy to me that even though that newness of our first few dates or even our wedding day is long gone, and that the familiarity in its place is even better.

So, if you have read my blogs long enough, you know where I am going with this, right?

As I sat and thought about married love on my anniversary, I thought about the similarities with my relationships with my dogs. I did spend the day with just Jackson and Tinkerbell because my husband was at work, so instead of romance, I was doling out Labrador tummy rubs and ruining Jackson's day with some Panalog in a gunky ear, so it's not that weird that I was thinking about the dogs on a day that marks the joining of our lives together.

Comparing the lifelong commitment of a dog to a marriage is not new for me. It is in my blog, and I also have talked about it in my book, Love, Laugh, Woof: A Guide to Being Your Dog's Forever Owner. Obviously, this comparison is not to try to turn your dog into a furry human or to suggest that you have romantic dates with your dog.

It is about enjoying the familiarity when the newness fades, it is about being adaptable and working through problems and issues together. It is about not tossing them aside when someone younger and more fun comes along, someone who maybe doesn't puke on the rug at three in the morning because she ate part of a fleece toy (Tinkerbell) or ask for the 1000th night in a row if both dogs pooped and the ADT is set before bed (me).  It is about not leaving them cast aside when you want to make changes to other parts of your life. Both a successful marriage and a forever dog mean that you don't turn your back or let your love fade when shit gets real, literally and figuratively. 

I was thinking about this a few weeks ago as I hugged Jackson after being around a friend's puppy who was still small enough to pick up. In the same way that many mothers want to hold other people's babies because their kids are now too old enough to carry, I am the first person to ask a new puppy owner if I can pick up their puppy. So, I held my friend's little gray Staffy pup with the hazel eyes that seem to see right into your soul and nuzzled him and buried my face in his silky puppy coat, before going home to the Labrador Inquisition from Jackson and Tinkerbell.

VOWS, COMFORT & FAMILIARITYLater, at home, Jackson was laying on the sofa napping, almost in the fox sleeping position but not quite as tightly curled up as Tinkerbell likes to sleep. When Jax lays like that I love to kneel down on the sofa in front of him and lay my head on his shoulder. I wrap my arms around his body in a big circular hug, one arm embracing his rear end, the other circling around his head and front legs. I will stay like that, breathing in his Jackson smell, feeling his smooth black fur against my cheek, hoping that he can feel my energy flowing into him and that it is full of love and light. I do this until he gives a big doggie sigh and I give him his space again.

That night I thought about how he had once been such a small puppy, just fourteen pounds when he came home, so young and new and full of puppy firsts. His homecoming was one of the best days of my life, especially as he literally licked away the tears of pain I had cried with my late Babe and Dutch had passed away.  But no matter how much excitement there had been when he first arrived here in our home, it was nothing compared to the feeling I get now, of wrapping my arms around his big sturdy body and the closeness that comes after years and years of a beautiful dog-human bond.

And on my anniversary I realized that this feeling of snuggling Jax is quite similar to the feeling of laying my head on my husband's shoulder twelve years after our first date. I mean, it's different in the sense that my love with my husband is a romantic love, and with my dog, it is a maternal love. But the point is that neither is new, neither have that "wow is this really happening" feeling anymore like at the start of each relationship, but the feeling I have is even better than that. It is a feeling of comfort, of familiarity, and it is made possible by making those lifelong vows to not give up no matter what you face in life, whether it's to your spouse or your dog. I feel blessed beyond belief that I can feel that, no matter if it is with my husband, our dogs, our kids, all because none of us have given up on our vows.

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Jackson's 7 Year Gotchaversary
Blogs, Life with Jackson & Tinkerbell

Jax’s 7 Year Gotchaversary

Jax on his Gotcha dateSeven years ago today I met one of the great loves of my life. I had already fallen in love with him through email and photos and stories of how special he was, and meeting him in real life for the first time just sealed the deal. His first kisses solidified in my heart that he would spend the rest of his life with me, and my heart was full of love and hope as I signed the papers to make his place in my life official.

Of course you’ve already figured out that I am talking about Jackson, my beloved male Labrador Retriever. I mean, this is a blog about dogs not human stuff.

Jackson is the dog who showed me that you can have multiple heart dogs in your life, that you can have more than one soul dog. If you have read my book, Love, Laugh, Woof: A Guide to Being Your Dog’s Forever Owner, or my blog on a regular basis, you know that Jackson came home to us as an eight-week old puppy not too long after I lost both of my beloved dogs, Babe and Dutch. Little Jax licked away the tears that I had cried for them and filled up the hole in my heart with his own unique personality and quirks.

There is no doubt that Jackson and I have a special bond. He is different in every way from every other Labrador Retriever who I have ever had. He may meet all of the breed standards for looks and personality, but Jax is his very own unique dog, and I feel a very special connection to him that is hard to put into words. He has such a serious, intense look to him, and at the same time is silly and sweet and has an actual sense of humor like I’ve never seen in a dog. He thinks things through and works things out to the point where we joke that we should have named him Sheldon Cooper instead of Jackson.

I suppose not only is he a much different dog than Babe was, but I am a different version of myself. Babe was with me during my 20s and 30s, and Jax was born just a few days after I turned 40, and yet the mature, settled adult version of me needs him just as much as the young woman figuring out life needed Babe.

Jax has no idea that it his Gotchaversary, since he is a dog and doesn’t think like that. I did tell him the whole story earlier today, but I am pretty sure that he just cared that he was getting a nice long tummy rub.

The thing I have learned about a day like this is that even though I was just playing around when I started off writing as if today was a wedding anniversary instead of the day that we picked up Jax, your dog’s Gotcha date is very similar to a wedding date in a very special way. Not only is it the start of a lifelong vow and commitment, but when you choose the right spouse or the right puppy, your big day turns into a happy day in a lifetime of happy days. Jackson 7 years old

When you get married, it is the happiest day of your life up until that point. And of course it is usually a memorable day with fabulous attire, great food, a huge cake and all of your loved ones surrounding you. But despite all of those things, you keep adding extraordinarily happy days with that person, whether it is the birth of a child or another life event, or everyday pleasures like laughing at a private joke or a simple afternoon spent together just the two of you.

Whether you are picking your puppy up or adopting a grown dog, the Gotcha date is just the start of a life together. It may be the happiest day of your life with that dog at that point, but it is just the start. So no matter how special of a memory it is to remember the day we picked Jackson up from our breeder, and got those first puppy breath kisses all over my face, or made his name official, this time with him as a big, sturdy grown up dog are also the happiest days of my life with him. Whether I am watching him sniff his way along a favorite walking trail, do his signature “upside down puppy” maneuver to flip over for a belly rub, or learn new habits like “awkward snuggling” with his Daddy, life with Jackson just gets better and better.

 

 

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

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Jax, Tink and Canine Standard Time
Blogs, Life with Jackson & Tinkerbell

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
Blogs, Life with Jackson & Tinkerbell

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.

 

Jax and Tink Prove How Quickly Your Dog Can Get into Trouble 
Blogs, Creating a Happy, Healthy Life, Life with Jackson & Tinkerbell, Safety & Emergency Prepping

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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Networking With Your Dog: Tinkerbell's First Restaurant Trip
Blogs, Life with Jackson & Tinkerbell

Networking With Your Dog: Tinkerbell’s First Restaurant Trip

Networking With Your Dog: Tinkerbell’s First Restaurant Trip

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Networking With Your Dog: Tinkerbell's First Restaurant TripEvery June lucky dogs throughout the country are able to go to work with their humans to celebrate Take Your Dog to Work Day. With a self-employed dog blogger as their dog mom, for Jackson and Tinkerbell, every day is Take Your Dog to Work Day. This year, however, a friend of mine from my all-time favorite networking group, Women Entrepreneur’s Secrets of Success (WESOS) decided to make up her own Take Your Dog to Network Day and arranged a meeting for any of her self-employed dog owner contacts to meet for a networking lunch with our furry best friends.

When the actual Take Your Dog to Network Day came around we had inclement weather, so the meet up was rescheduled for Friday, July 14. Since July is normally extremely warm here in the Chicagoland area, I chose to take Tinkerbell with me since she does a bit better in warmer temperatures.

Tinkerbell enjoying her walk along the Dupage River

A friend asked how I can take just one of them with me at a time, and the answer is that although I feel horrible taking one dog on a fun adventure and leaving the other home, I make sure I alternate who goes with me to make it fair in my own mind. They don’t remember, but I do, and so Jackson will get the next big adventure out into public or that consists of more than just a walk around the neighborhood.

Although they walk well on a leash together and we take the majority of our walks together, it is still easier for me to enjoy our time out on a big adventure with one dog at a time. Otherwise instead of enjoying that time with that particular dog and seeing his or her personality shine through, I am worried that one is snarfing up something from the ground like a piece of random food or animal waste while the other is sniffing something in another direction.

The day of the networking lunch we also received a spur of the moment invitation to be interviewed for a friend’s new webcast in the morning, so Tinkerbell and I headed out around 9:30 am. Part of my friend’s webcast includes her giving her guest a professional blowout in her home based hair salon, so this was Tinkerbell’s first experience in a hair salon. She was so excited to be in this new situation that she kept forgetting that she is not allowed to jump on people, so she jumped a bit on my friend before calming down to sniff every inch of the salon and then chilled by my feet while I had my hair dried.

Tinkerbell in front of the Naperville Carillon

We did the interview outside and Tinkerbell was elated to sniff around the yard and explore a heavily wooded yard which is the complete opposite of our house on what used to be a cornfield. I was elated that although both Jackson and Tinkerbell sometimes have selective hearing in our own yard, that in this strange yard as soon as I said her name or gave her the “come” command that she immediately turned to look at me or ran straight to me.

Tinkerbell at the Riverwalk Cafe
Tinkerbell at the Riverwalk Cafe

After we left our friend’s salon we headed to the Naperville, Illinois Riverwalk, which is a beautiful walking trail and park along the West Branch of the Dupage River. In fact my husband and I had part of our first date there as well as our engagement photos a few years later, so it is definitely a happy place for me. Tinkerbell loved it too and happily trotted along sniffing the smells and wagging her tail at other people as we headed to meet our fellow dog-owning business owners for lunch at the Riverwalk Cafe.

My WESOS sister Mary and her Collie Quincy were already there at an outdoor table so Tinkerbell and I joined them. Quincy was adopted by her family as a senior dog just last fall and it is believed that she lived as an outdoor dog her whole life. She was originally rescued by a horse rescue before she found her way to her forever family who loves her and dotes on her like every senior dog should be loved.

The beautiful Quincy saying hello across the table

A bit later we were joined by another WESOS sister, Cathy, and her one year old Golden Retriever Tucker. It was interesting to me that the dogs did not interact much other than to sniff each other in an introductory fashion. Of course there were a lot of other patrons and people walking around and all three dogs really focused

Tucker gets a drink of water

on us, their humans.

Tinkerbell is so social that I had worried that she might spend the entire lunch trying to get to all of the other humans or engage the other dogs in games of bitey face and zoomies, but she was pretty content to hang out with me. Of course that might have been because I bought Tink her very own side salad, without dressings or croutons of course. And I know, I know what you’re thinking, that I write all the time about the fact that dogs are not small furry people, but I did it on a whim to make the experience even more fun for her. I fed most of it to her well away from the table.

Tink’s salad

While I am an expert on creating a happy, healthy life for dogs, I won’t say that I’m never a pushover for my own dogs. They are well-behaved and trained, but they may or may not have had a piece of cucumber or some sort of treat slipped to them from the table at various times throughout their lives.

I am looking forward to our next Networking With Your Dog meeting so that Jackson can have his first restaurant experience and so that I can share the love of dogs with other female business owners and see how he reacts to dining al fresco with me. Although they are a bonded pair, Jax and Tinkerbell have such different personalities that it is fun to spend one-on-one time with each of them.

Sleepy Tinkerbell on the drive home

I find being out in public around other people and other dogs is a great bonding experience for our own human/dog bond because it confirms the fact that I am their human, their caretaker, and their trusted leader, and that they can and should check in with me for further instructions when they are in a strange place or situation. Well, for further instructions and perhaps a nibble of cucumber and some lettuce.

 

Happy Tails | PupJoy

Our Search for a Labrador Friendly Camping Trailer
Blogs, Life with Jackson & Tinkerbell

Our Search for a Labrador Friendly Camping Trailer

Our Search for a Labrador Friendly Camping Trailer

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Our Search for a Labrador Friendly Camping TrailerMy husband and I have been searching for a camper all spring and summer. We have looked at everything from a luxury fifth wheel (too heavy and too expensive for now) to a teeny tiny 8 foot pop-up camper and everything in between. Well, everything under 4,200 pounds, at least. Throughout our search one thing has remained constant: there must be room for the dogs, a way to kennel them should we need to, and air conditioning to keep them cool.

Camping is a fairly new thing for me. In the past I have gone on a handful of weekend camping trips back in my twenties and thirties with groups of friends, a cheap tent, some hot dogs and chips, and more of the cooler space dedicated to beer than to food. I have never done family style camping or taken any of my dogs except for one night when Babe and I stayed in a tent at a festival style party in a friend’s yard. Even in my younger days I always had the policy of no drinking allowed when responsible for dogs, period.

Growing up in rural New Jersey my family was extremely outdoorsy. We lived lakefront and had a canoe and rowboat at our disposal, went on tons of hikes, went downhill skiing all winter. We fished, rode horses, went ice skating, ice fishing, river rafting down the Delaware, took bicycle trips. My brothers and I played in the stream and the lake and the woods every waking moment that we were not at school until our parents made us come inside around 9 pm each night. But we never once went camping because all of those activities were either right in our yard or just a day trip away, or we went to our beloved Ridin Hy Ranch in upstate New York and stayed in cabins. Of course our black Labrador Retriever Snoop accompanied us on as many of these adventures as she could.

Fast forward to adulthood and although I still love the outdoors and would like to resume most of these things that I did as a kid with my own family, with Jackson and Tinkerbell by our side, I won’t pretend that my idea of camping is more glamping. I love to be outdoors by day and in a nice clean modern room to shower and sleep. If that room happened to have four or five stars, even better! Enter the need for a camper or RV!

With each version that we have viewed we have had the same criteria: room for us and at least two of the three teens, and sufficient room for two seventy pound Labradors. Floor plans with long, narrow areas are out because there is nowhere for a dog bed and for them to snuggle up comfortably. Slide outs to expand the living area or hybrid travel trailers in which the beds are located in tent like areas that extend past the camper walls give more floor space. Even square pop-up units seem to give more floor space for the dogs than a long, narrow travel trailer without slide outs.

I feel like we are on the HGTV show Tiny House Hunters as we contemplate each option and how it fits our life and family. “We can fold the dinette table down to a platform and toss dog beds up there at night, I bet Tinkerbell would sleep up there and Jax will probably prefer a bed on the floor” are among the things that we say. Or, “We could keep their travel crates in the back of the pickup when they aren’t in them and put them on top of the folded down dinette if we want to go somewhere that they are not allowed, like to the pool or a restaurant, as long as the air conditioning is functional and we have some way to monitor the temperature!”

Our Search for a Labrador Friendly Camping TrailerI have learned that 57% of RV owners bring their pets along with them on camping trips, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association. In fact we were recently shopping for campers at a Camping World location and I was happy to see that their selection of food and treats for dogs consisted of healthier, organic and grain free options and brands instead of the mainstream lower quality items that many stores that do not specialize in pets sell.

In fact their dog aisles were stocked nicely with plenty of options for dog beds, bowls, steps and ramps, toys, tie outs*, moveable fences, and a huge selection of Dog is Good clothing and housewares. In fact once we start to camp I will definitely be purchasing the cute hoodie sweatshirt with a black Labrador holding a hot dog roasting stick in her mouth! Since these stores are located near popular camping areas around the country, their selection of products gave me the idea that they are a go-to resource for pet owners who live a RV lifestyle. It was nice to know that as a customer we could look for one of their stores if we needed anything for our own dogs.

Although we began the summer about to purchase a brand new travel trailer with a toilet, a shower and a sofa, a veritable home on wheels, we decided to start small and inexpensively to make sure that we are indeed a family who even likes to camp. With this in mind, we have finally decided on the right option for us and are purchasing a vintage 1965 pop-up camper that we will gut and rehab from top to bottom. It may not have the amenities that I want, and right now it smells the way I imagine 1965 smelled, but we will make it so that it is cute and clean and dog friendly and has a place to go to the bathroom at 3 in the morning if needed.

Of course it had to meet the criteria of having a nice space for Jackson and Tinkerbell to comfortably sleep at night as well as in the event of inclement weather if we are all stuck inside. My husband is designing a table that can act as a platform for them with dog beds that will match the rest of the decor, although I have an idea that the same sleeping arrangement will happen as does at home with Tinkerbell on the bed and Jackson on the floor next to me. Regardless of where they choose to sleep in the camper, they will be right there with us on adventures, which is exactly where a dog should be.

*It is important to note that while I am not in favor of tie outs for dogs at home, I understand their purpose at a campsite to give the dog a bit more freedom as long as the owner is right there with the dog at all times. 


Jackson and the tall, wet grass
Blogs, Life with Jackson & Tinkerbell

Jackson vs. The Tall, Wet Grass

Jackson vs. The Tall, Wet Grass

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Jackson and the tall, wet grassNeither of my black Labrador Retrievers like to walk on our grass when it gets past a certain length.  Jackson objects to this type of surface more than Tinkerbell. While she will run through it, Jackson stubbornly refuses to step foot on it, which is creating quite an issue right now since the entire stairway from our deck is bordered with some very long grass.

We use more water at the edge of our deck than we do in the rest of the yard, between emptying and cleaning out the dog pool, watering the flowers on the deck, and washing off where Jackson insists on peeing on the last step of the wooden deck. As a result, the grass all along the bottom step grows much faster and longer than the rest of the yard.

My husband usually mows at least once a week, but it was rather dry and hot here during the early portion of the month, so the rest of the yard has not needed to be mowed for at least a week and a half, while the area all along the steps to the deck is long, dark green, lush, and growing like crazy. It is the best grass in the yard, unless you are a Labrador who does not like to walk through it. For the last several days, the temperatures have been excessively humid and we have had a lot of rain, so not only is that grass long, but it is now wet. Jackson’s reaction to this grass reminds me of the “hot lava” game that children play, where the floor is lava and you have to jump from furniture to furniture to avoid being burned.

Before I tell the rest of this story, let me backtrack a bit. Last year I attended a fantastic event down in Florida at the Southeastern Guide Dog School in which you get to learn about (and play with) puppies who may grow up to be guide dogs or other service dogs. One of the most interesting things that I learned during this activity was that dogs who make it all the way to being actual guide dogs for the blind have to have a special quality that allows them to think through a situation and consciously disobey their human even when given a command that they would normally obey. The best example of this is a situation in which a human gives the forward command to cross the street and the dog knows that a car is coming and intentionally disobeys to keep the human safe. Not all dogs have this ability, which is why some of the puppies will go to do other jobs and some will be adopted out to families without special needs to be a pet instead of a working dog.

As soon as the presenter told us this, I immediately thought of Jackson and thought that if he had been in such a program as a puppy, that he might have had what it takes to go all the way to actual guide dog. Of course I am glad he was not in the program because I am quite happy having him as my family member and best friend.

I have Jackson go through this type of thought process on many occasions, with the best example being times that I have called him to come inside the house and he has not yet pooped. There have been many times when he started to run to me when I said, “Jax, come,” and then stopped midway to me. Each time he looked at me, looked back into the yard, looked back at me, and then ran the opposite direction to quickly find a spot, do his business, and then race to the door to come inside. I have stood there and watched this and thought, “he is actually thinking through this predicament, he’s being called to come inside but he knows he has to poop and should do it now instead of asking to come outside again.”

I have watched him problem solve on other occasions and can say 100% that he is paws-down the most intelligent dog I have ever had, whether he is outsmarting Tinkerbell to get a toy away from her, or waiting for her to go inside before doing his potty business because she follows him so closely no matter what he is doing and he just wants to poop in peace sometimes without his sister sniffing his rear as he goes. And now, with the tall grass predicament, I am watching him work out this issue with the same intellect.

I assume that it is his sense of smell that alerts him to the fact that it is humid or raining outside. AFter all, that is their strongest sense, with a special part of their brain dedicated to analyzing scents in a way that humans could never dream of doing. He does not even need to go outside to know that the conditions are not to his liking; I can see his nose moving around, nostrils quivering, his snout tilted up before I even open the door. Sometimes he waits until the door opens, takes one whiff of humid air, and backs up as if saying, “Nope, not gonna happen!”

To some extent, this is driving me crazy. He is of course fully house trained and neither a puppy nor a senior, so I can trust him to wait until close to the last-minute to let me know he has to go outside, assuming I am home. However the times that I have had to go somewhere are a challenge.

I have tried every technique, from stern commanding human with a deep voice saying, “Jackson, come here now” to happy silly human with a treat in hand “good boy, come, come on Jax, good boy!” He knows the term, “off the deck” as well as “hurry up, go potty” but is simply not having anything to do with my requests. In addition to not wanting him to have an accident in his kennel when I am not home, I also do not want him to get a UTI from holding in his urine or be uncomfortable. I just want him to pee and find relief and get over this grass aversion.

I am sure my friends who are professional trainers will want to scold me, as well as any old school “your dog must obey you at every command” dog owners, but so far the best method of getting him off the deck and onto the grass when I need him to pee at that moment is to give Tinkerbell a treat in the middle of the yard and then hold up his own treat before giving him the “come” command. I know, I know, I write all the time about training your dog, how the “come” command can save lives, how it’s the most important one for them to know along with “stay”, but when I have to go to a meeting, am starting to run late, and just want my dog to pee, I am not above simple bribery.

Seeing Tinkerbell get a treat has been enough of an incentive for him to run through the awful, long, lush, wet grass to get his own treat, and once he’s beyond the “hot lava” portion of the yard he’s happy to roam around the shorter less offensive blades of grass. Once he is past that area, the grass is short enough that he will sniff around and relieve both his bladder and his bowels.

Yesterday I tried putting an old blanket down over the grass to make a path into the longer grass. He was not falling for it even though Tinkerbell happily trotted on and off the deck with the blanket and I gave him a demo to show him what I wanted.

He did, however, realize that he could leap off the side of the deck, which is fortunately just a foot or so off the ground, to a spot with much shorter grass. Once again, I applaud his problem solving skills and intelligence. It is better than another option that he tried, which was peeing on my husband’s brand new hammock on the deck. That did not go over well; I knew the moment my husband asked, “Do you know what your dog did?” that it was not something good.

Since he will not just get over it on his own, and I want him to be able to walk through surfaces that he does not like in the event of an emergency, I will double down on my training, using positive methods and a bit of creativity and work on getting him over this aversion in a way that is not too traumatic and maybe even a bit fun. If nothing else, fall will come and the grass will go dormant and we won’t have to worry about it until next spring.

 

 

 

 




Love, Laugh, Woof Celebrates All American Pet Photo Day
Blogs, Life with Jackson & Tinkerbell

Love, Laugh, Woof Celebrates All American Pet Photo Day

Love, Laugh, Woof Celebrates All American Pet Photo Day

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Today is All American Pet Photo Day and here at Love, Laugh, Woof I am all for a celebration of photos of Jackson, Tinkerbell. After all, they are the biggest “why” behind what I do! Here are some photos of our summer so far:

 

 

 

 

Jackson, Tinkerbell & Their Obsession with Rice
Blogs, Life with Jackson & Tinkerbell

Jackson, Tinkerbell & Their Obsession with Rice

Jackson, Tinkerbell & Their Obsession with Rice

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Jackson, Tinkerbell & Their Obsession with Rice Jackson and Tinkerbell love to see who is the door. Is it a human friend who will come in and love up on them? Is it the nice UPS or FedEx people coming to bring them their Canine Caviar or treats? Is it a service person here to fix something who will say, “Oh, that’s ok, I love dogs, you can leave them out of their crates” so that they can sniff them all over and get ear rubs and then watch their every move while they work on the furnace or security system or whatever they’re here to fix? Or is it their ultimate favorite person…the person who delivers the food from our local Chinese restaurant?

We used to tell the person taking our order to not even worry about the white rice, that we didn’t eat it so why waste it. Then one time we forgot to tell them, and so we had a small container of plain white rice untouched after dinner. Of course white rice is the go-to food item for dogs with an upset stomach, so it is on the carefully crafted list of human foods that my dogs are allowed to have. Although neither of them were sick, I decided to give it to them just as a special treat, and they gobbled it up happily.

Jackson, Tinkerbell and Chinese Food Delivery
Sticky white rice, a Jax and Tink favorite

The next time we ordered we let them bring the white rice so that we could give it to the dogs. As we ate, Jackson and Tinkerbell snoozed close by, completely unaware that the delivery contained something just for them. When I got up, took care of our dishes and leftovers and picked up their bowls to divvy up the rice, they raced into the kitchen like children checking out the tree on Christmas morning.

As we went about our life we started to realize that the dogs were becoming very animated whenever we ordered Chinese food. They got so few things from our human dinners that they are not particularly bad beggars, so we laughed and pondered, “how on earth do they know that there is rice for them??” Pizza delivery did nothing for them, Jimmy Johns delivery did nothing for them, the Mexican restaurant delivery did nothing for them, just when we ordered Chinese food. And by the way, yes, sometimes we get busy or the kids go on vacation with their mother and we eat like college students for a bit, don’t judge.

Jackson, Tinkerbell and Chinese Food Delivery
Waiting for it to cool a bit more is so hard!

I started to realize that it was their magnificent sense of smell that let them know that their rice was here. Over the years they have started to get pushy and have upped their begging game when we open the little boxes and cartons. Of course we have to let the incredibly hot white rice to cool, so I usually open it and set it aside all the way at the back of the counter to cool until we are done so that they don’t burn their mouths or throats as they wolf it down.

One day we pulled the items out of the bag and found that the restaurant had forgotten the white rice. “Uh oh,” my husband said, “No white rice!”

The dogs stood and stared up at us expectantly. “Should we call and tell them they forgot out dogs’ rice?” I laughed, although I was only half-joking. In the end, we did not call and I figured the dogs would forget about it since the white rice was not there so there was no rice to smell.

We were wrong.

Both dogs laid on the sofa across the room with their heads on their paws and their eyes closed. If either of we humans moved an inch, their eyes opened. If we got up to fill our glasses or grab another crab rangoon, they raised their heads, ears perked up in the classic “I’m interested” way of the Labrador Retriever.

As we cleaned up our dishes and put things away, both of them followed us into the kitchen. “Nothing for puppies this time,” I said, clapping my hands together and showing them my empty palms like a blackjack dealer. They continued to stare at me as though they didn’t believe me. “Nothing for puppies, let’s go,” I said and left the kitchen, thinking they would follow me out. They continued to stand and stare up at the counter longingly.

Eventually both dogs gave a huge sigh and lowered their heads and walked out of the kitchen. They stopped in front of the sofa where we were watching TV and sat and stared at us for a while, two sets of deep brown Labrador Retriever eyes going back and forth between us as if they were watching a tennis match, hoping that one of us would produce their rice, only we were just sitting there doing nothing. Finally Jackson gave another huge sigh, walked into the other room, walked into his empty kennel and flopped down on his kennel mat. Tinkerbell looked at us and did the same.

My husband and I looked at each other in disbelief but also somewhat amused. “They’re pissed at us!” I said, marveling at their intelligence and overly dramatic reaction to not getting rice.  “How on earth did they know that there should have been rice but wasn’t, I assumed they could smell the rice and that’s how they knew?”

After doing much research on how a dog’s nose works for other blogs, like Why Your Dog is So Crazy and How to Put It to Use, I have come to the conclusion that they must know the scents of our other frequently ordered items and associate them with the rice being given to them, so when sesame chicken and crab rangoon show up in our home, their memories of those scents remind them that this means they are going to get something too.

Watching my dogs use their noses is one of my favorite things about having dogs, and I often watch in amazement and tell them, “We need to put those noses to work,” and so I am actively looking for a beginner nosework class in our area. Neither of them showed any interest in bird hunting or hunt tests, a sport in which both of their mothers excel, so I hope that one or both of them enjoy learning to find specific items so we can put those beautiful black noses and brilliant minds to work sniffing out more than just our sticky white rice from Chinese food delivery.

On the night the restaurant forgot the white rice,  I did get out the box of Minute Rice that we keep on hand for emergency dog diarrhea situations and made them each a small serving of rice, which made them both extremely happy. I am not ashamed to admit that although I have strict rules on their nutrition and care, I’m a bit of a pushover. After all, isn’t the whole point of having dogs to make them as happy as they make us? I most definitely think that it is.

Tinkerbell's Fourth Birthday
Blogs, Life with Jackson & Tinkerbell

Tinkerbell’s Fourth Birthday

Tinkerbell’s Fourth Birthday

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Tinkerbell's Fourth BirthdayOur Tinkerbell turned four yesterday. Of course she doesn’t know that four years ago she was experiencing the world from her whelping pen for the first time. She has no idea that we were anxiously waiting for the email from the breeder saying that there were “puppies on the ground” or that I cried happy tears as I looked at the photos of the newborn pups and wondered which one would become ours. And of course she has no idea what I am saying when I say, “Happy Birthday” except that the tone is joyful and good things like new treats and toys appear when those words are spoken.

Since our favorite pet product store is right next to where crowds were gathered for the local wine festival yesterday, I decided to wait until today to take Tinkerbell on her birthday outing. Today we also had her annual veterinary appointment for her heart worm test so I decided to do her birthday trip right after that. That would also mean I only got one sad look from Jackson as we left the house without him.

Of course I needed gas in my car, and if you’ve been reading this blog long enough you’ll remember that Tinkerbell is not a fan of me getting out of the car without her. This time I thought I had her outsmarted; I was ready. She was secured in her harness and doggie seat belt in the front passenger seat to keep her from trying to follow me out of the vehicle, which worked until she stepped on the seat belt release button, but at least I had gotten out without the same dramatic struggle as the last time or a fear of her running loose through a crowded gas station.

After I had paid at the pump, put the pump into the gas tank, and selected the type of gas, I looked up to see her staring at me accusingly from the back seat, her face pressed up against the glass and her distinctive brown eyes practically glaring at me as if to say, “you left me in here again!” If only Illinois would embrace the full service gas station like my home state of New Jersey, filling up with a velcro dog in the car would be much easier.

Once I got back into the car she wrapped her front paws around my arm and laid her head on me as if to say, “No, Momma, do not do that again!” It had never occurred to me that we needed to train this during puppyhood, since I don’t leave the dogs alone in the car. The gas station was the one situation that had completely slipped my mind.

Tinkerbell's Fourth Birthday
Puppy Tinkerbell, photo by Colleen Nedrow, Payton’s Photography

We arrived at Go Dog Go, our favorite local pet product store. It is now part of the growing Chicago based Bentley’s chains of stores, but in my mind it is still Go Dog Go, with the same awesome staff and the same small business atmosphere. Tink recognized where she was and could barely contain her excitement as I gathered my purse, keys and got a secure grip on her leash before exiting my SUV.

For all of her massive amounts of energy at home, she is hands down the best dog I have had in a store. She politely sniffed all of the baskets of pigs ears and bully sticks on the lower shelves, systematically moving down the row but never trying to snatch something on her own. Those baskets always remind me of the rows of candy at the grocery store at child height; of course the goal is for the parents to not be able to say no.

We moved along and she sniffed all of the toys, first the Planet Dog Orbee Tuff options, then the West Paw Designs choices. Since we have most of those and I know her love of stuffed squeaky toys, I directed her to the Fluff n’Tuff section. Her tail wagged furiously as she checked out the options. I showed her the giraffe because of my love of April the Giraffe, but she snubbed it in favor of a giant stuffed bear that she grabbed off the shelf herself. I looked at the price sticker and put it back, “Let’s look for a less expensive toy for you to rip to shreds,” I told her and she wagged her tail happily as she grabbed an alligator off the slat board display. “Do you want another alligator?” I asked her, and she wagged her big thick otter tail even faster. “Ok, let’s take the alligator home!”

Birthday cookies! Just do not tell them I picked up the wrong pink one!

Before checking out I grabbed three birthday cookies and a pink and white dog birthday cake. One of the cookies was for her to eat in the car without Jax trying to snatch up her crumbs, and the other two were to let Jackson join the celebration, just like we had done for his birthday in March. Although a 2008 study showed that dogs do have a sense of fairness and understand if one dog is getting treated better than they are, in this situation Jax probably would have never have known if Tink was dining on cookies while out on her adventure, but let’s face it, I just love to spoil them. After all, isn’t that the whole point of having a dog, to make them happy and do fun things with them?

Playing with the new alligator toy

At the end of the day, this whole birthday celebration is 100% a human thing. I would spoil them every day if my budget would allow. We would have doggie cake daily if I had not made a “no fat Labs” promise to my breeder to keep my dogs at a healthy weight. Later tonight I am going to cut the cake in half and maybe even sing a bit of “Happy Birthday” as we celebrate the day that this sweet girl was born. And while I write about how dogs are not furry humans, that we need to honor the fact that they are dogs, I’m pretty sure picking out a new toys and wolfing down some cake are concessions that my dogs are willing to make.

 

Dogs are Simply the Best Stress Busters
Blogs, Life with Jackson & Tinkerbell

Dogs are Simply the Best Stress Busters

Dogs are Simply the Best Stress Busters

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Dogs are Simply the Best Stress BustersI’ve been super stressed out lately. I cannot tell you why because I honestly cannot pinpoint exactly why I feel this way, whether it’s the never ending political commentary on the news and on social media (and no giraffe cam to which we can escape) or the fact that the end of the school year is always crazy as a parent or whether I am simply overwhelmed with all of the various goals that I have set for myself. I can tell you that it is severely affecting my ability to blog and work on new books and projects and I am trying desperately to shift my energy back to being positive.

Last night I was talking about this with my husband and he said, “Well, maybe you should write a blog about not being able to write a blog!” I told him that I guessed that wouldn’t be the worst idea, only it would be more appropriate if my audience was fellow bloggers and not other dog owners.

Then I realized that not every post has to be educational or fabulous. If you are following me it is because first and foremost you are a dog lover. And at the end of the day, it is our love for our dogs that makes us seek out knowledge and information about how to care for our dogs in the best way possible. And who better to understand how much comfort our dogs are in times of stress than other dog lovers?

So today I am simply celebrating the fabulous creature that is the dog!

Every now and then I am asked, “Lynn, what is your favorite thing about dogs?” That question is extremely hard to answer without simply saying, “Everything!”

As I write about in my book, Love, Laugh, Woof, dogs have been integral to my life since I was five years old. I just had a birthday in March, which means that for the last forty one years of my life, dogs have been as important to me as air, water, food. I don’t know if I have a “favorite” thing about dogs or if dogs are just simply a part of my soul, my energy. The love of dogs is now as much a part of me as much as my hair color, my height.

In fact I like to tell the story of an allergy test that I had a few years ago in which the sample of  “dog allergen” was first scratched and later injected into my skin in a second test. It seems that I’ve lived so closely with dogs that they are literally part of me. Not only did those test spots not swell or itch, they did not even turn red like all of the other allergens that they tested.

Dogs are Simply the Best Stress Busters
Hanging out with Jackson

So when stressful times come, the dogs are my biggest source of comfort. In fact I cannot fathom the amount of money the dogs I’ve loved throughout my life have saved me by being my furry therapists. They are truly the answer to all of life’s emotional woes.

Sad? Snuggle with the dogs.

Frustrated? Take the dogs on a walk to clear your head.

Bored? Play with the dogs.

Stressed? Pet the dogs.

Confused? Talk to the dogs.

Tearful? Let the dogs lick away the tears.

A 2016 study confirmed what we dog lovers have understood for a long time: dogs can understand our emotions. When you add in the notion that dogs want to please us, along with the extremely important fact that they cannot speak English (part of their appeal), it is easy to see why our dogs become our most trusted confidants.

Then there is the science behind what is going on in our own bodies. In 2008/2009 researchers concluded that more of the hormone oxytocin is released when we pet our dogs. According to Psychology Today, “Oxytocin is the hormone that underlies trust. It is also an antidote to depressive feelings.”

While I am a writer, not a doctor, when I put all of this information together it just proves the point that dogs are simply the best stress busters that we have in our lives! Not that we needed scientific proof versus decades of personal experience. All our dogs need to do is just be their normal canine selves and they help us lead better, happier lives, whether it’s laying their head on you when they detect that you are sad or trotting along silently next to you on a walk in a mind meld that melts away all of the stress of your day.

 

 

 

 

Even the Best Dogs Are Not Always Perfect Dogs
Blogs, Life with Jackson & Tinkerbell

Even the Best Dogs Are Not Always Perfect

Even the Best Dogs Are Not Always Perfect

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Even the Best Dogs Are Not Always Perfect DogsAs much as I write about the importance of training, as much as I work with my own dogs in a “continuing education” sort of way, and pride myself on well-behaved they are, every now and then one of them just isn’t having any part of following the rules they’ve been taught. Yesterday was one of those days.

Jackson was a hard sell on loose-leash walking as a young dog and was not easy to train, but eventually I was able to teach him that if he’s pulling, we aren’t walking. We’ve since earned his Canine Good Citizen and he and I now have a nice mind-meld when we are walking that is one of my favorite things about having dogs as companions. All of this stopped yesterday when he discovered his love of goose poop.

This is the dog who I often tell, “Jax, be a dog, do dog things, live a little!” because he does so few gross dog things. He has zero prey drive, doesn’t have a taste for gross things, avoids mud and puddles and only rarely scents himself on yucky things. Trust me, I don’t mind that he is not the type of dog to ever bring me dead animals or smell bad, but sometimes I wonder if he’s missing out on some part of life as a dog.

Apparently he took my words to heart this spring, because out of nowhere my neat, tidy, non-disgusting dog is obsessed with eating goose poop. Not just mildly interested or sneakily trying to get to some. He is straight up obsessed.

In the park by our house where we take our walks there is no end to this disgusting dog delicacy. Last night Jackson lost his mind over the piles of goose poop everywhere and yanked and pulled with all his might, putting all 70 muscular pounds of force into his efforts. Not one to give up easily, I decided to proceed with the walk and work on correcting his behavior. It did not go well and our walk was horrible.

I finally gave up and turned around on the trail, cutting our walk short, but we still had to go back the way we had come and it turned into frustrating comedy of errors: Jackson lunging and trying to pull me, (even with a short leash in a heeling position) followed by me holding firm and stopping my forward progress until he sat next to me. We would walk nicely for a few steps, he smelled more goose poop, lunged again, I corrected him again.

“JACKSON, NO! OFF!” I exclaimed loudly to him. Not one to yell at my dogs, I raised my voice intentionally, hoping that maybe because I don’t yell, that the unexpected sound would get through to his goose poop obsessed brain, as he was not paying the slightest bit of attention to me every time he smelled or saw another pile.

I came across another dog owner and her dog (who trotted along quite nicely next to her) as she watched me holding back 70 pounds of lunging, desperate dog with one arm as he dove toward the poop with all four paws dug into the ground for leverage. Of course it was at that same time that Tink, who had trotted along happily next to me while I dealt with her brother, decided to see what Jax was so interested in and wrapped her leash around a nearby tree.

“You’ve got your hands full with those two,” she said.

“Yeah, not normally! He’s obsessed with eating this damn goose poop, normally we walk along quite nicely” I answered, completely embarrassed that my dog appeared to be so bad on the leash that she would say something.

Finally we got out of the part of the park where the geese had been and Jax immediately turned back into my well-mannered boy. I am sure he could sense the negative energy coming from me as we headed for home, but he turned and looked up at me with his beautiful head and a huge doggie smile on his face as if saying, “You love me, Momma, you can’t stay mad at me!”

“You are quite pleased with yourself, aren’t you?” I asked him, some of my annoyance fading as I looked at this face I loved so much. Of course I was upset and frustrated, embarrassed to be a dog blogger and writer with my beloved boy acting like a crazy beast, but more than anything I was scared for his health because of all of the germs and diseases that can be spread through goose poop.

Since he was worn out from all of the goose poop lunging and pulling from the first part of our walk and because there didn’t seem to be any of it where we were walking, I gave him a bit more leash and he trotted along next to Tinkerbell, both of them about a foot in front of me with plenty of slack in their leashes.

“See, look at her, she walks both of her big dogs at the same time and they are so good!” I heard a neighbor say to someone as we walked by her yard.

“Oh, you missed the first part of our walk,” I thought to myself, “Jax is just worn out now!”

As we arrived home and I removed the harnesses and leashes from the dogs, my husband greeted me in the kitchen as I went to fill the paw washing buckets. “How was your walk?” he asked.

“Horrific! Do not accept any kisses from YOUR dog, he has a mouth full of goose poop ” I said.

“Uh, oh, Jax, it’s not good when she calls you my dog,” he said to Jax.

Good Dogs Don't Have to Be Perfect Dogs
But momma, I’m so cute!

With paws washed, faces wiped down and their post-walk game of zoomies complete, both dogs crashed on the tile kitchen floor with their tongues happily lolling out of their mouths, and my stress from the walk started to fade. I picked up their food bowls and mixed a probiotic powder with water to give their immune systems a little boost and try to proactively thwart any upset stomach that Jax might get from his goose poop buffet.

Today is a brand new day and I’ve decided that while the geese are around I simply cannot walk both dogs through the park at the same time. I will walk them together elsewhere or I will walk them one at a time through the park.

At the end of the day, Jax is a dog, doing gross dog things. Of course it is my job to protect him from some of those dog instincts and figure out how to handle the situation better next time, but I shouldn’t be embarrassed because he went into some weird dog brain zone and stopped listening and following my rules.

No matter how much training you do, no matter how experienced of a dog owner you are, sometimes they just are going to do things in line with their instincts instead of their training. Jackson is most definitely amazing dog, in fact he is one of the best behaved dogs I have ever known. He is insanely smart with a beautiful disposition that I love unconditionally. If I wanted a perfect dog I could have bought a stuffed animal; good dogs can be the best dogs in the world without being perfect dogs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funny Puppy Stories, the Laugh in Love Laugh Woof
Blogs, Compassionate Pet Owner, Life with Jackson & Tinkerbell, Love, Laugh, Woof Life

Funny Puppy Stories: The “Laugh” in Love, Laugh, Woof

Funny Puppy Stories: The “Laugh” in Love, Laugh, Woof

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Funny Puppy Stories, the Laugh in Love Laugh WoofThe Laugh in Love, Laugh, Woof is all about including laughter and fun in your life with your dog. Whether it is laughing at the funny things dogs do, understanding that dogs enjoy the sound of our laughter and realize it is a fun and happy sound, or wryly laughing at something naughty or frustrating that your dog has done, laughing is important in life and with dogs.

Sometimes laughter falls into the category best described by my favorite songwriter Bruce Springsteen, like the lyric from Rosalita that says, “someday we’ll look back on this and it will all seem funny.”  Stories like the one I wrote about earlier this week in The Big Black Dog and the Cherry Tree  fall into this category. That day was terrifying and stressful when it happened, but now I can tell it with a type of self-deprecating humor about how I tore the cherry tree right out of the ground and whisked Jax off to the vet only to later learn that it wasn’t the harmful type of cherry tree, as well with some laughter about what a naughty puppy Jackson often was when he was little.

As we continue our theme of puppies for the next week, here are two of my favorite puppy stories from each of my dogs. 

Jax Mistakes Inside for Outside

Jackson came home to us on May 5, 2011, and like most summers in the Midwest the temperatures stayed consistently in the 80s and 90s from Memorial Day until after Labor Day. Because we have zero shade trees and it feels like we are living on the sun, our air conditioning runs pretty much non-stop. The front of our house gets so hot for most of the day that you literally cannot touch the metal door knob without burning yourself and I’m afraid to hang a decorative wreath for fear of it combusting! As a result, virtually all of Jackson’s first four months with us were spent with the windows closed and the lined drapes in the front of the house closed to help keep the house cool.

Funny Puppy Stories, the Laugh in Love, Laugh, Woof
Sorry, Mom, I thought I was outside!

As we headed into fall that first year of his life, Jackson was 100% house trained. In fact he had not had an accident for about two months, a major accomplishment that we are actually going to talk about in my next blog. As a fully house trained dog I no longer followed him around watching to see if he would squat, and he had not yet started to lift his leg. We were keeping him intact until his first birthday for health considerations and thankfully he did not have any obnoxious boy dog behavior yet.

On the first day that the temperatures dropped we turned off the air conditioning and opened all of the windows. In the front room of our house we have large picture windows that are quite low to the floor.

That afternoon I was sitting in the front room reading a magazine and Jax started to explore the world through the picture windows, his black nose pushed up against the screen while he sniffed the outside air. I watched and smiled as he moved along the length of the window, pausing periodically to sniff some more. “Whatcha smelling, sweet boy, do you like having the windows open?” I asked him and he wagged his tail in response, nose still smushed up against the screen.

My warm fuzzy feeling came to a screeching halt when he got to the bushes at the far side of the window. They were planted outside but tall enough that they actually touched the screen and he sniffed with great interest before squatting and peeing a little right where he stood sniffing.

“NO!” I exclaimed loudly and told him, “Outside, outside!” I grabbed his leash and snapped it onto his collar and took him out the front door, praising him heartily as he finished urinating near the same bush only outside the house.

Once inside he watched with great interest as I sopped up the pee with paper towels and then squirted it heavily with a mixture of white vinegar and water. I pointed to the violated area and calmly said, “no” while his eyes searched my face as if he understood. I didn’t say another word, not wanting to do anything to accidentally reinforce this behavior.

Note: It is important to reinforce that you have to correct your dog while they’re doing the behavior but since he was looking at the pee I took the chance that he’d understand. Remember to never punish your dog by rubbing their nose in a potty accident. 

Later on I shared the story with my husband. “So you know how Jackson hasn’t gone potty inside in a few months? He was sniffing out the front screens and when he got to the bush he peed on the floor! I swear he got confused and thought he was outside!”

That was the last accident we ever had and five and a half years later he’s never even had an accident when sick. We still joke about it anytime the weather is right for open windows. “Ok, Jaxy boy, you are inside the house, ok?” we laugh as he wags his big otter tail and nuzzles us lovingly. Part of me thinks he understands and is laughing along with us.

Tinkerbell vs. The Dishwasher 
Funny Puppy Stories, the Laugh in Love Laugh Woof
Tink at obedience school with plenty of homework to work on the “off” command!

It is quite normal for a dog to be interested in the dirty dishes in the dishwasher. I mean, come on, it’s at their level and all of the dishes have remnants of actual food or at least the scents of human delicacies that are usually off-limits to dogs. They cannot resist trying to take a little lick as you turn to grab the next dish to put on the racks.

Tinkerbell was particularly persistent in her obsession with licking the dirty dishes. She was around five months old and we had been working on the “off” command, blocking her from licking the plates and silverware and telling her off. In typical puppy rearing fashion this process was done over, and over, and over, and over. Her desire to get a taste of our dinner kept winning over her desire to please us by following our instructions. After all, dogs want to please their humans, unless it involves a young Labrador and their mutated gene that gives them their love of food.

One night I was cleaning up after dinner and Tinkerbell was in her normal spot, watching me and waiting for her chance to get a lick of a semi-dirty plate. The door was open and the bottom rack pulled out all the way.  I turned to the sink to rinse out a pan and swiveled back to the dishwasher just in time to see the bottom rack go flying off of the door, bouncing and clattering across the kitchen floor with plates and silverware flying out of it and Tinkerbell racing at top speed in front of it as if she was being chased.

Funny Puppy Stories, the Laugh in Love Laugh Woof
Helpful appliance or terrifying contraption?

I ran after Tinkerbell and the dishwasher rack and caught up to her in our family room. She was panicked as I caught her and quickly removed her collar from her neck. One of the tags on her collar had somehow gotten caught in the narrow side portions of the wire rack and attached her to the rack, startling her. When she tried to pull away she had jerked the wire rack off its channel, which scared her even more, and she took off with the entire dishwasher rack “chasing” her. It all happened so fast that it was like a scene out of a cartoon, her paws slipping on the tile floor as she tried to run faster than she could with dishes flying out all around her. You could have substituted Pluto for Tinkerbell and animated it for a surefire Disney hit!

These days at three and a half years old, Tinkerbell still loves to stand by the dishwasher and watch me. She embraces the “off” concept, though, but every now and then she darts in to try to get a lick. I tell her a stern “off” and she backs up and looks at me like they are trained to do with that command, waiting for further direction. Sometimes I ask her, “Don’t you remember what happened the day the dishes chased you, sweet girl?” as she wags her tail sweetly, “Now, out of the room!” With a big doggie sigh she heeds the “out” command and goes to join Jackson in the living room, away from the potential attack of the dishwasher.

Do you have funny puppy stories? Join the Love, Laugh, Woof Forever Owners Facebook group and share your best “laugh” stories of life with your forever dog! 

Click here to request membership! 

 

 

 

The Big Black Dog and the Cherry Tree (1)
Blogs, Life with Jackson & Tinkerbell

The Big Black Dog and the Cherry Tree

The Big Black Dog and the Cherry Tree

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

This post was originally published June 2012 on www.jacksonandtinkerbell.com

The Big Black Dog and the Cherry Tree (1)I woke this morning with great expectations of a few relaxing hours with the dogs. I had a doctor appointment for myself at 10:45 so I was using half a sick day from work. As a result I was going to have a few extra hours to let the dogs stay out of their kennels and play. They have had a few long days of more than normal crate time as my husband has been out-of-town and as the only dog parent home they were living on my schedule. The dog walker at noon helped, but I was happy they would get some more play time.

As always I went outside with the dogs. Jackson is fifteen months old and still explores the world by putting everything into his mouth instead of just smelling it with his nose. Because of this I tend to stay close to him to make sure he is not consuming something that could hurt him.

Over the last few days Jackson has been obsessed with our fairly new Bing Cherry tree. A month or so ago we planted an apple, pear and a cherry tree in our back yard. He was doing a great job of staying off of the trees, not killing them with his urine, and not chewing them. I knew exactly what was going on in his mind each time he looked at those trees: Best. Stick. EVER!

This morning Jackson was intent on removing all of the leaves off of several branches and eating them. Not just chewing and spitting out, but actually eating and swallowing. He did this in record time. I body blocked him, I used the “off” command that I know he knows very well. I circled the tree, trying to keep my own body between the pup and the tree.

I failed miserably. The more I blocked him, the more of a game it became. I raised my voice. NO! I even broke out the dreaded b-a-d-d-o-g. He darted in and out around me to get to the tree to eat more leaves with speed that should not have been possible with that stocky body.

Finally I grabbed his collar and led him to the back door in what was probably a violation of all of our positive reinforcement training that we had done in the last year. It was old school training. It did not hurt him, was not cruel, and gave him the reminder that he must listen to me.

Once inside he drank the entire bowl of water and flopped on top of the central air vent. In the meantime I decided on a whim to check my pet poison app on my phone. I was not too concerned as many of the dog treats I bought contained cherries so I knew the fruit was safe for canine consumption.

My heart skipped a beat as I read that cherry tree leaves contain cyanide and were deadly when consumed in toxic amounts. But what was a toxic amount?? How many leaves had he had? He had been gobbling them up them like it was his mission in life!

Our veterinarian is on my speed dial so I called the their office. None of the doctors would be in for an hour. I started to panic and I phoned the pet poison control line, paid $40.00 to open a case and spoke to one of their vets about the issue. She eased my mind that Jackson had not consumed many leaves in terms of being toxic and that the issue was usually with horses and cattle that grazed and ate a lot of leaves in fields where cherry trees grew in groves.

My mind was somewhat eased but there was no way I wanted that tree in my yard anymore. I knew my dog and knew he would immediately go right back to it the next time we went outside, so I walked out into the yard and yanked the tree out of the ground. It came out easily and I put it in our front yard to deal with it later. The pet sitter was coming today and I wanted to make sure Jackson did not get to any more leaves.

I sat with him and watched him, trying to see if he was acting funny or breathing weird. As I sat with him, I kept imagining leaves full of cyanide sitting in my puppy’s stomach while I was thirty miles away all afternoon. I called the vet’s office again and arranged for Jackson to stay in their medical day care area under observation. There was no way I was leaving my baby in his crate, helpless, while I left and went to my doctor and to work. No way. If they could not have taken him, I would have cancelled the doctor and skipped work today without even a second thought.

Now, fourteen hours later, we have learned for sure that the number of leaves he ingested would not have been a toxic amount. The pet poison hotline also told my vet that the dried leaves contain a higher concentration and these were straight off of the tree and still green. The most important information, though, came from my husband, who ironically was attending a hazardous materials training class and spoke to one of his instructors who told him that the Bing Cherry tree is a different type of tree than the Black Cherry tree and the leaves are not toxic at all.

I will always go with the “better safe than sorry” mindset. An $80 fee for a checkup and daycare stay at the vet’s office is nothing compared to peace of mind of having a safe and healthy puppy. Racing to the vet in pajamas, unbrushed teeth, and wild bed head is nothing compared to the peace of mind of having a safe and healthy puppy. Arriving late at my own appointment and forgetting to eat is nothing compared to peace of mind of having a safe and healthy puppy. These are the moments you sign up for when you take on a dog. It is part of the commitment to them that you keep them safe.

Now at the end of the day, as I watch him sleep peacefully, I flash forward to ten years from now, when his muzzle will turn white and he will sleep more than he plays. I imagine stroking his beautiful face, telling him the story of how he scared momma half to death one summer morning when he started to chow down on Bing Cherry tree leaves, and how it was a false alarm. I imagine him picking up his big blocky head, giving me a lick on the face, as if to say “Momma, I have no idea what you are saying, but I’m glad I am here with you”.

Seek Our Your Dog For a Happiness Reboot
Blogs, Life with Jackson & Tinkerbell, Love, Laugh, Woof Life

When Life Gets a Glitch, Seek Our Your Dog For a Happiness Reboot

When Life Gets a Glitch, Seek Our Your Dog For a Happiness Reboot

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Seek Our Your Dog For a Happiness Reboot Being a blogger and a writer for a living is a profession that can be impacted by emotions in a way that is unlike any other career I’ve had. I guess it is because you put your heart and soul into your work instead of just going through the motions of mindless tasks.

Yesterday was just one of those “bad” days. Trust me, I’ve had truly hideous, heartbreaking days over the course of life; yesterday was more of a frustrating or annoying day. I find life precious and don’t like to get sidetracked by that type of day at all, let alone when I’m trying to write as much as I wanted to write.

I had the entire day blocked out for blogging and working on a new mini e-book that I will be offering to my readers, I had the house to myself as my husband was working and the teens were elsewhere. Instead of my regularly scheduled day, I ended up with so many other distractions, plus a bit of very hurt feelings and parenting stress thrown in that I could not shake, along with other things pulling me away from those tasks that the only thing I managed to accomplish was vacuuming up two Dyson canisters of Labrador hair. That was at 9 pm.

The sense of accomplishment from doing something productive (especially taking care of the Lab hair tumbleweeds that were forming) was enough that I sat down with my laptop and started to write today’s blog. I had written a few sentences earlier in the day and the topic just seemed stale, nothing was coming out of my brain, and I was just going through the motions. By 11 pm I had a few lame paragraphs and I decided to call it a night. Normally I love to write late at night when my husband is working, it’s often my best thinking and creative time as I am not an early morning person.

I shut my laptop and sighed in frustration. I heard the heavy thump, thump of a Labrador tail and looked down from my favorite writing chair and saw Tinkerbell  laying on her side next to my chair, peering up at me with her tail slowly thumping on the ground. “Hi baby girl,” I said, and put my laptop on the side table before sliding onto the floor next to her.

Tink rolled onto her stomach with her paws stretched out in front and gave a huge full body dog stretch before reaching out to lick my face. I laid on my stomach in front of her and stretched too, and a day’s worth of frustration started to melt away. I kissed her nose and she licked my face and we alternated this several times before she rolled onto her side and pulled my hand toward her stomach with her paw. We laid like that for awhile, dog and dog momma sharing a moment on the floor while I scratched her tummy.

Shortly after, Jackson came over and laid down next to me and put his face near ours, and I laid on the floor like that, my two dogs and I face to face, for the next forty five minutes before taking them outside and then up to bed. Mentally and emotionally, that time on the floor with them was like setting the reset button, like a control-alt-delete to make the glitches of the day magically go away and for my system to start the rebooting process to its normal positive, happy, creative and productive self.

The dogs and I went to bed, I put on my favorite guilty pleasure TV show that the DVR had recorded, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. I adore Erika Girardi and love, love, love the work that Lisa Vanderpump is doing to help dogs and end the atrocities in Yulin and the episode happened to focus on a trip that Lisa Vanderpump took to Hong Kong to continue her work to stop the Yulin slaughter.

As I watched, Jax snored on the dog bed next to me and Tink slept next to me in the human bed, growling softly in her sleep. I have never once heard her growl in real life and I stroked her face, wondering what type of dream was making my sweet girl growl. When the show was over I turned off the TV, turned on the sleep meditation app on my phone and snuggled my sweet girl dog as I fell asleep. I woke in the morning to their customary canine wakeup service feeling refreshed, yesterday’s nonsense no longer plaguing me.

It’s funny or ironic, or something along those lines, that my entire passion is writing about dogs, sharing the reasons why they are amazing, educating dog owners on how to create a happy, healthy, holistic life for their forever dogs, teaching people that dogs are sentient, loving creatures who should be treated with nothing but love, and yet I forgot on that very stressful day that by doing nothing and simply laying close to them and feeling their healing presence, that I could get back to my normal mindset. All they had to do was to be dogs and my spirits were boosted and I my negative mindset was turned back to positive, simply from some Tinkerbell kisses and laying face to face with both of my dogs on the freshly vacuumed carpet.