July 30, 2014

WW 7.30.14: Let Me Take You On A Magic Dog Bed Ride

This video, taken in the first few weeks after Boca's arrival, perfectly illustrates the personalities and energy levels of my two dogs.

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July 29, 2014

A Corgi/Uncorgi Playdate

This weekend my mother's horse was adopted to a beautiful and loving new home, and I moved my horse Coro to his new location, which just happens to be where Ruby's corgi friends live! I took the ginger sisters with me for the day on Saturday and they had so much fun running, barking and digging.  

Both corgis are also rescues - Walter is from Wyoming Dachshund and Corgi Rescue and Preacher came from Texas.  Preacher and Ruby engaged in some very polite play (coy tail wags instead of play bows) while Walter prefers to quack and grumble from the sidelines. 

Preacher egged Boca on as she contributed to this shady excavation and she joyfully relaxed in the cool resulting hole. My dogs don't often get the opportunity to play outside all day long, so this was a real treat for them.

Did your dog(s) do anything fun this weekend?

July 24, 2014

TbT: Soulful Girl

Lasya - 2005

Last Thursday marked one year since I said goodbye to my first dog, Lasya. She was a Chow/GSD mix with a wonderfully calm and intuitive disposition. She had a wild heart and loved being outside. At my parents' mountain property she would have slept on the porch through a snow-storm if we'd let her. She was an incredible dog, and I was so lucky to share my life with her.

It struck me that while I think of Ruby and Boca as my second set of dogs, they are my third and fourth as an adult. It's hard to believe, how the time speeds swiftly by. Despite my misgivings about having two again, and especially two females, I realize how they complement each other, and me, and how we are a family. I have Lasya to thank for starting me on a path flanked by a canine duo.

July 23, 2014

WW 7.23.14: Potcake Starter Kit

This was one of Boca's very first clicker-training sessions. 

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July 22, 2014

Boca Participates in the Woof Pack Insight Group at Kyjen

After writing my trick training guest post for their blog,  Ruby and I were invited to a product testing event at the Kyjen offices here in Centennial, CO. Due to Ruby's reactivity, I had to regretfully decline. After adopting Boca I could tell that her temperament was suited to such social events, and let my contact there know that we would like to attend the next one. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for Boca to meet some other dogs and people before our group obedience class starts at the end of the month. 

Last Wednesday, Boca donned her palm tree collar and we joined about ten other dogs and their parents for a fun evening of toy testing, sizing demos and packaging input. Boca was a little nervous at first, but soon settled in and relaxed. She greeted all of the other dogs appropriately and was very focused on me if I asked her to sit or lie down. By the time we moved to our last station, she was wagging her tail excitedly, as if to say "Oh, boy - what are we going to do next?" I was so proud of her! 

We were placed in a small group with a massive yellow lab who was a dock dog, and a petite blue curly dog (maybe a Portuguese Water Dog mix?) and rotated through three stations. The first was size-testing for an Outward Hound day pack. Having just measured Boca, I chose a size medium and it fit perfectly. She didn't mind wearing it at all! Next we moved to some unreleased toys and puzzles and were asked to complete a survey. Boca seemed to enjoy the puzzle toy. Finally, we provided input for a packaging re-design. Even though I majored in science, my advertising elective in college was one of my favorite classes and so I loved this part. 

Kyjen sent everyone home with an awesome gift bag, and Ruby and Boca had a great time playing tug with their Invincibles frog when we got home. Both girls have also tried out the Slo Bowl - it is great for Boca to eat from if I'm doing training with Ruby, and Ruby seems to be more interested in her food if she has to work for it! 

Thanks so much to Kyjen for the opportunity to be involved with their great product line! Click the picture below if you are interested in signing up for the Woof Pack:


July 16, 2014

WW 7.16.14: Yawn

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July 15, 2014

Be the Change for Animals: We Add Up - An Interview with Ruby's Rescuer

As the quarterly Blog the Change for Animals event approached, I knew I wanted to feature Ruby's angel: the woman who spotted her, posted her to a rescue network and pulled her from a dismal southern shelter. 

Photo credit Angie V. Heringer

Angie Heringer is the one-woman force behind Arkansas Angels for Animals and her job is one many of us would struggle to stomach. Day after day she visits what can only be called dog pounds, scours the dark, dank, dirty runs and posts their inhabitants to a network of rescues - casting a line out for hope - securing a foster, adopt or rescue commitment so she can return to bail the animals out. They don't have long.

Photo Credit Angie V. Heringer

Below Angie answers my questions about her work: 

Please describe a typical day in rescue: Every day is so different. Today there is a little girl with a broken leg, found on the highway. She will be put down (she's in a vet office) if no rescue is found. There is a momma and babies that need rescue. They will go to the pound if no rescue is found. There is a kennel with six dogs. One kennel has two beagles. The momma beagle has a huge, basketball-sized tumor. She needs rescue. We rescued a beagle from a pound - no one knew he was blind, so we pulled him. He's in a temporary foster and we are trying to raise funds for surgery. We have 27 dogs that live in a trailer. We've pulled 12 so far and there are 15 left. We did a fundraiser and raised enough to buy 130 beds (animal rescue aid) that we provided to the pounds that needed beds - my heart really goes out to those, because that is the worst environment. I have over 20 dogs in foster, so it's continuous to juggling keeping up with all. We have an adoption event this weekend, so there is preparation for that. Someone called and said they had some dog houses, (which we desperately need) but it's over hour away. I had two calls this morning, dogs that need rescue. People call me everyday needing rescue for their dogs. Rescue is juggling and trying to save who we can.

What is the specific plight of animals in your region of the country? The hounds in the pounds. So many sit there, sight unseen. Never heard. Never touched, never to get out of those pounds. Only two ways out: life or death, rescue or euthaniasia. It breaks my heart that this was almost Ruby's fate. 

Why should people consider adopting a rescue dog? Because we know that for every dog you "buy" one (or more) dies. If you adopt, you save that ONE, and open space up for another one that would have died if no space. So it's a 2-for-1: save a life, and really, 3-for-1, because they come into your life and save your life!

Photo credit Angie V. Heringer

What is the hardest thing about working in rescue? Sadly, the people. Angie sees the worst-case-scenarios, the most unimaginable cases of abuse and neglect, and yet she carries on and maintains a goodness in her heart that spills over in obvious delight when she unites an animal with its foster, adoptive, or rescue home. 

What is the most rewarding thing about working in rescue? The dogs. Seeing them change from lifeless to FULL of love. Amazing to see how appreciative, how loving, how giving, how "forgiving" these sweet fursouls are - amazing angels.

What are three things that people can do to help animals in need?
1. foster
2. transport
3. adopt (if you cannot adopt, sponsor)

Photo credit Angie V. Heringer

What do you remember about rescuing "Foxy Roxy" aka Ruby? The shelter where Ruby was at was one of the worst I've ever seen. Her eyes pleaded to please please get her out. Sometimes people will take the ones the sit in back and seem to have given up, but I also look at the ones crying, barking, pleading...please get me out. They see the ones who pass down that hall, they are not being adopted. Worse, some of the pounds I visit euthanize right there in front of the others - in the kennel, or right outside the door. Then they lay there. These dogs know. .. they are next. Ruby/Roxy was one of the Plain Janes - so many like her, jumpy - look! look! Luckily, she was a med/small and we had space for that size that day. We pull in hopes a  rescue will step up or if one has stepped up. We (Ruby) got lucky. Lisa with CAWL saw that love in her eyes, that something special and said "We'll take her." Ruby, a Plain Jane? THANK YOU Angie, THANK YOU Lisa. 

Photo credit Colorado Animal Welfare League

Here in Colorado we boast a 90% live-release rate overall from shelters, and that is what enables local rescues to bring in dogs from areas of higher need, which is just what happened with Ruby. Colorado Animal Welfare League saw her picture among the many desperate, pleading, endearing faces and had her transported to Colorado where she was fostered by a loving family and listed on their website. 

What can just one person do? Angie emphasizes that we add up and encourages spay/neuter, rescue and adoption. I can't thank her enough for what she does every single day, and especially for the day that was the first step on Ruby's journey to her forever home with me. 

If you would like to sponsor Arkansas Angels for Animals, PayPal donations may be made to spayneuteradoptrescue@gmail.com

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July 9, 2014

WW 7.09.14 This Moment

"What if all this that has happened in the last two dog years was all about 
these two having this moment?" ~ Anna Blake 


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July 8, 2014

Runaway Ruby

Spoiler Alert: Safe & Sound

If I hadn't waited a few days to make this post, it would have started out a lot differently, with dramatic self-deprecating statements such as "I don't deserve to have a dog" and "I have no business being a dog blogger" but time and reason have calmed me down enough to write about it from the standpoint of (more) lessons learned and the fact that mistakes and accidents happen in life and in dog life. One of the most valuable aspects of the dog blogging realm for me is feeling that I'm not alone, that others have shared an experience and that we can learn from one another. Rebekah from My Rotten Dogs recently posted about Faolan's Great Escape, not long after my own experience with Boca slipping her harness on a hike.

Having the statistics of pet loss on the Fourth on July drilled into my head for the past week, I was not so surprised to grab a runaway dog (on a Flexi-lead, with a collar so loose it came off in my hand when I reached for it) outside of the ball field early Friday morning, but I didn't expect to lose my own dog the very next day. It wasn't the first time Ruby has gotten away from me after a rabbit. Twice she has pulled the leash out of my hand and run off after a single rabbit in my townhome complex, and come back. Dragging the leash makes recovering her a bit easier. This time was different.

We were on our morning sniffabout, which is normally a fairly leisurely stroll around the complex lawn with lots of grazing and rabbit-spotting on the girls' part. I've always been hesitant to lump "rabbits" in to Ruby's reactivity triggers because, well...the list is so long already, and I chalk it up to prey drive rather than fear or anxiety. This year the rabbit population has exploded, and we see probably no less than twenty on any given walk. This morning they were out in full force. Ruby spun and lunged toward one and instead of feeling the leash go taut and snap back when she hit the end, she was gone. I was left holding the leash, snap intact. 

I started calling her immediately, trying to keep the panic out of my voice, and ran after her with Boca at my side attempting to keep Ruby in view as she raced after a seemingly endless succession of rabbits. Just as she would lose one into a shrub, she would see another. Twice I lost sight of her but due to her "hunting screech" - a high-pitched yelp she makes in pursuit - I was able to keep on her tail. At one point I thought I would just try running home to see if she'd follow, and she did start to, but then another damn rabbit would appear. I was finally able to gain on her and grab her harness as she backed out of some flowers. 

The whole episode lasted probably no more than two minutes but it seemed like an eternity. Ruby was thrilled and unaware of the many dangers she faced. Luckily, no other people were out - although her dog reactivity is frustration-based and what she wants most is to meet/jump on/play with other dogs, the feeling isn't always mutual. Luckily, she stayed within the perimeter of the complex - we are not far from several very busy streets. Luckily, I was able to snatch her up - and once I did, I did not let go. I carried her halfway home, then stopped to examine the leash before clipping it and knotting it to her harness. It seemed fine, the snap functional, and I still can't explain what happened, but I will not use that leash again. It was one of my favorites and the first one I bought for her - the lightweight snap was nice because it didn't bang against Ruby's chest on her front-clip harness - but I can't take any chances. 

I spent the rest of the morning near tears, hugging and kissing Ruby, shaking, and chastising myself for all the ways I'd failed as a dog owner. Later I shook it off, knowing it wasn't productive, and started focusing on the things I can change. First: equipment check and re-check, as well as utilizing gear with sturdy hardware, since I know Ruby is a puller and puts things to the test. Second: recall work. I know without a doubt that this is the single most important thing for a dog to know, and Ruby's 25+ tricks are useless when it comes to saving her life. It is also one of the most challenging things to teach to a dog with high prey drive, little focus, and limited access to safely-fenced areas to practice. I don't believe I can ever be more interesting than ten rabbits. One rabbit? Maybe. Third: Since I know the recall will always be a work in progress, I need to concentrate on at least redirecting Ruby's attention and lessening her reaction to the rabbits. I've tried using chasing them as a reward, and it works to some extent in that I can get her to lay down and wait when she spots one, but the chase itself is so exciting that she can't calm down after that. For now I am practicing asking for a sit or down when she alerts to one, and then we walk on. I'm keeping the leash shorter as we're going through the Rabbit Convention Zone, so she can't race to the end.

I love this little dog so much, and for every challenge she presents me with, I love her that much more. I'm charged with keeping her safe, even when that means saving her from her own rocket-speed, rabbit-crazed, terrier-brained self. 

July 7, 2014

Ruby Reviews: Sojo's Simply Meat Treats

I'm a big supporter of smaller companies with an obvious dedication to happier, healthier pets, and I believe that Sojos is just such a company. When I found out they had released a new, single-ingredient treat I knew that we had to try some!

There really isn't anything not to love about these Simply Meat freeze-dried treats. They are exactly what they say there are: nothing but morsels of raw, freeze-dried turkey, beef or lamb in cheery, resealable packaging.

Since they are all natural, the treats are an assortment of sizes which make them perfect for my multi-dog household. When I grab a handful for training, I can give the larger pieces to Boca and the smaller ones to Ruby.

The girls both went bonkers for these, and they are perfect for working on new behaviors since they are without a doubt a high-value treat. I can feel good about feeding the Simply Meat treats knowing that they are nutritious and all-natural. They would be great for dogs with food sensitivities, too, since there are no guessing games with their ingredients. These will surely be a staple at my house.

DISCLAIMER: I was provided Simply Meat treats from Sojos in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own and I only publish reviews for a products I feel comfortable using in the day to day life of my pets.

July 4, 2014

Just a Spoonful of Easy Cheese Makes the Medicine Go Down

Following Boca's tooth extraction, she was prescribed a seven-day course of Amoxycillin. Because my dad was visiting I had a product in my house that I wouldn't normally: Easy Cheese. This orange processed wonder has proven to be one of the best ways I have found to give a pill to a dog. I placed the capsule in a spoon, covered it with a swirly dollop of spray cheese and offered the spoon to Boca. She happily licked the spoon clean and smacked her chops appreciatively. Even Ruby, who is suspicious of silverware, had to give it a try. I don't fully trust a dairy product that does not require refrigeration, and it isn't something I'll give my dogs on a regular basis, but it sure beats picking gummed-up, spat-out pills off the floor!

July 3, 2014

Ruby Reviews: Pet Naturals Flea + Tick Repellent

We don't have much of a flea problem in Colorado, but both of my rescue dogs arrived from elsewhere with some unwelcome hitchhikers (ticks) and depending on the weather patterns and area, ticks can be an issue here. For this reason, and because I avoid using chemical flea/tick products for my dogs, I was excited to try the natural Flea + Tick spray and wipes from Pet Naturals of Vermont.

Both the wipes and spray are made with natural lemongrass, cinnamon, sesame and castor oils that disguise the dogs' scent, making them less attractive to blood-sucking pests.  The products can be safely applied to skin, fur, bedding and collars.

My dogs are not huge fans of the spray sound/sensation, so the wipes are a better fit for us. The wipes are generously sized and perfect for getting the ears and face (avoiding the eye area of course). They do have quite a strong citrus and cinnamon smell, but I found it very pleasant.

I applied the repellent before taking my dogs into a field of tall grass near my house, and we returned from our walk bug-free. The spray and wipes also repel flies and mosquitoes, so I think they will be a great natural summertime essential.

DISCLAIMER: I was provided Flea + Tick wipes and spray from Pet Naturals of Vermont in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own and I will not publish reviews for a product I will not use myself in the day to day life of my pets.

July 2, 2014

WW 7.2.14: Reasons To Smile


New bed from Mully Mutt

Street dog turned spoiled dog 

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July 1, 2014

Getting My Dogs In A Row

There was a lot of this going on at my house over the weekend. Boca had dental work on Friday morning - a cleaning and double-rooted tooth extraction - and both dogs received their 3-year rabies vaccinations. Ruby was very glum while her sister was at the vet clinic, though I tried to cheer her up with getting her assistance on some upcoming product reviews and a little trick training. Once we were all together again, everyone relaxed and soaked up the sun.

Ruby's last two experiences at the vet were quite stressful and we have a lot of work to do. Even the jingle of another dog's tags or their shadow visible under the door sent her into a frenzy, which did not bode well for a very thorough exam. I tried the Calming Cap for the car ride and waiting room, but it is clear from Ruby's behavior that this aid is getting into aversive territory for her: I want a calm dog, not a shut-down dog. I don't think it's something that is going to work for us. 

Boca was pleased to see me when I picked her up that afternoon, but was not herself the rest of the weekend. She was extra-cautious about my dad and seemed listless and depressed. I'm happy to report that as of yesterday she was back to herself, and I hope we are finished with vet visits until next year. I think that general anesthesia is so hard on them, and although the tooth extraction was necessary, I may look into the cleanings without anesthesia in the future, especially for Boca who is so cooperative. Has anyone tried it for their pets?

Due to her stitches and the big gap in her smile, Boca's chewing/playing activity must be limited for the week. This has proven to be quite a challenge since even if I separate them and let Ruby play with toys, Boca is not happy to be kept away from the action!  I did let her have her plush purple dragon for a few minutes last night while I played tug with Ruby and she was so cute about it, bringing the dragon to the gate and waiting for me to put Ruby in a down-stay and throw it again. 

The girls were lucky to have my dad's company all last week, and now we are back to our normal schedule with the dog walker. It's a holiday weekend and I'm considering getting a kiddie pool for the ginger sisters to splash around in on the patio. I've also been gathering up some tropical props for a fun summery shoot with Boca, so stay tuned for those pictures! 

I've updated my Facebook cover page for July and hope you'll like us there, too, if you haven't already:

Additionally, I've created a Facebook group for Potcake fans, and have been astounded by the fast-growing membership!