December 14, 2016

Purple Chair Sessions

My aunt moved into a new house that they are fixing up, and it's filled with her usual sense of style and beautiful light, so I took the oppportunity over Thanksgiving to snap some pictures of the Ginger Sisters with their new cousin, Mozzie.

December 10, 2016

Love, Trust and Communication: The Gifts of Positive Training

When I adopted Ruby in 2013 I didn't exactly have a training philosophy, and I had no idea how essential training and management would be to our life together. By the time I adopted Boca (as a foster failure), I knew that positive reinforcement was my goal and I've tried to employ it every step of the way with my two wonderful girls.

Aside from trick training and enrichment like crate games, I don't do a lot of formal or obedience training, but my background in horses taught me that every interaction is training. Day to day life with The Ginger Sisters is a constant dialog, and sometimes lessons are learned - for good or bad - before I even realize it. My dogs are far from perfect, but my relationship with them is one of the most important and treasured in my life, and I would never sacrifice it for a shortcut. My adherence to positive training is non-negotiable and a value I won't compromise on. Its gifts aren't quantifiable, but among its greatest are love, trust and communication.

November 30, 2016

Unique In All The World

But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. 
To me, you will be unique in all the world. 
To you, I shall be unique in all the world.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

November 23, 2016

Sweeter Than Soap

I have a little dog who likes to nap with me.
He climbs on my body and puts his face in my neck.
He is sweeter than soap.
He is more wonderful than a diamond necklace,
which can't even bark... 
Mary Oliver 

November 18, 2016

On Reactivity and The Election

It's been a hard week for many of us. The world which previously felt safe, secure and predictable feels suddenly less so. We are on edge, our skin prickles with the anticipation of what might happen or what bogeyman is around the next bend. We gnaw on the bones of history, our thoughts run in tail-chasing circles. I don't know if I've ever felt a closer kinship with my reactive dog.

November 13, 2016

Creative Crate Training

Although the unseasonably warm weather in Colorado continues, with shorter days come shorter after-work dog walks and I'm left with two dogs who need more activity in the evening. There are a variety of indoor games you can play with your dogs, even better if they have a practical application.

October 20, 2016

Trick or Treat Giveaway: Roll Out the Red Carpet with Ruby!

We're so excited to once again be a part of the Trick or Treat Giveaway Hop, hosted by Kol's Notes, and Beagles & Bargains and generously sponsored by Caru, Nature's Logic and The Honest Kitchen. From today until October 30th, hop around the participating blogs for fun trick tutorials and enter the giveaway for a chance to win incredible prizes, including a $300.00 PetSmart gift card and some huge treat assortments!

October 12, 2016

Potcake Ready to Pounce

I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it.
Mae West

October 9, 2016

Fall Trick Training Progress

With winter close on the heels of this beautiful fall weather, I'm breaking out the props and the clicker in preparation for trick training to keep The Ginger Sisters occupied when the nights get cold and dark. Ruby has been working hard on several new tricks and Boca will try anything if it means she gets more food! I'm so proud of how far Ruby's 'hold' trick has come. The last time we shared our progress, she was ever-so-patiently persevering through my klutziness and through trial and error I found the toys that are easiest for her to hold. The fact that one of them happens to be a bouquet of flowers is just too adorable for words.

October 5, 2016

A New Look

If I want to knock a story off the front page, I just change my hairstyle. 
Hillary Rodham Clinton

September 21, 2016

Laughing by the Lake

Red and white dog in the sunlight by the lake at the Sheraton Wild Horse Grand wearing her Frida Kahlo collar

Nothing is worth more than laughter. It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light.
Frida Kahlo 

September 20, 2016

Positive Training Was A No-Brainer For Me

As dog lovers, we often feel like science is way behind when it finally proves that dogs understand what we're saying or that dogs recognize human facial expressions. We knew that already! It's obvious when our dogs seem to instinctively know when we need some extra comfort after a bad day, or when we have to spell certain words (it's w-a-l-k and t-u-g and f-r-i-s-b-e-e around here). As an advocate for positive training, I am constantly referencing the science and studies that back up my training philosophy, but the truth is, science had nothing to do with my choice.

September 17, 2016

Choosing a Quality Canned Dog Food with Nature's Logic

I use canned food as part of the Ginger Sisters' rotation diet, and we were already fans of this post's sponsor, Nature's Logic, with their commitment to whole, natural foods. I was happy to spread the word about their food while discussing the benefits of a high quality canned diet. Ruby and Boca enjoyed Nature's Logic Canine Venison Feast for breakfast for the past month, and not only did they both love it, but I'm confident through my research that it is an absolutely top-notch food.

September 7, 2016

Simple Serenity

There is no happiness like that of being loved by your fellow creatures, and feeling that your presence is an addition to their comfort.
Charlotte Brontë, from Jane Eyre

August 25, 2016

On Dogs and Authenticity

It's a complicated, confusing world out there. I've been doing a lot of introspection about trust and honesty lately, about living my life authentically and presenting myself as nothing but wholly me in whatever circles I inhabit. I'd like that to extend to this blog, whether that means expanding its topics or writing more posts like this one which astonished and touched me with its responses and shares far and wide. This doesn't mean I'm going to be oversharing here on my dog blog, but I was reminded that what people are affected by are personal stories. While I'm dog-obsessed, I have far more diverse interests than just dogs, although I notice that dogs inform and influence unexpected aspects of my life.

August 17, 2016

Warrior for Love

proud dog standing on a rock

You will learn a lot about yourself if you stretch in the direction of goodness, of bigness, of kindness, of forgiveness, of emotional bravery. Be a warrior for love.
Cheryl Strayed

August 12, 2016

Botanical Healing with Natural Paws + Giveaway

Whenever possible, I try to use natural products for The Ginger Sisters, whether that is shampoo or supplements. I was already a fan of the Natural Paws line since winning a sampler of their paw care, so I was happy to try out a couple more products and take part in this great giveaway along with Keep the Tail Wagging, Some Pets and Groovy Goldendoodles.

August 10, 2016

Amethyst Harvest

But always, to her, red and green cabbages were to be jade and burgundy, chrysoprase and prophyry. Life has no weapons against a woman like that.
Edna Ferber 

July 31, 2016

Bedroom Eyes

Her life was okay. Sometimes she wished she were sleeping with the right man instead of with her dog, but she never felt she was sleeping with the wrong dog.
 Judith Collas, from Change of Life

July 26, 2016

On Dogs, Dating and Heartbreak

Because they have always been an integral part of my life, dogs have always inhabited the spaces around, in between, and in the absence of relationships. My decision to foster fail with Boca was in no small part because my long term relationship ended shortly after she arrived from her tropical island, and I couldn't bear another goodbye. In those days she spent a lot of time laying directly on my chest - a balm to my heartache - something she rarely does anymore. Make of that what you will...

July 20, 2016

A Walk in the Woods

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.
Rachel Carson 

July 13, 2016


two red and white dogs smiling in a field

A blade of grass is the journeywork of the stars.
Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

July 11, 2016

A Kid Needs to Pet a Strange Dog Like a Reactive Dog Needs a Bicycle

Last week I had the funniest incident to date involving a child wishing to pet my dogs but it also brings up something serious: dog bite prevention. Kids are cute, dogs are cute, together they are cuteness squared, but that temptation to capture the perfect picture or upload the next viral video often overrides good judgment. Children are the most at risk of dog bites, and it is up to us as responsible owners to mitigate that risk. One of the easiest ways to do so is not to allow random kids to pet our dogs if we have the slightest hesitation about how they might handle it. 

July 6, 2016

Sugar and Spice

I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort, where we overlap.

I loved being on the road with Boca, but I was so happy to be reunited with Ruby, the wild to her calm, the snap to her ginger, the other half of my heart. These two are the perfect balance of tart and sweet and by the way, did you know they have their own signature tea, with 5% of sales donated to Paws on the Ground Colorado

July 5, 2016

Positive Reinforcement at BlogPaws

I have so many stories and pictures to share from BlogPaws, which was fun, educational, exhausting and amazing all at once. My trip was generously sponsored by Open Farm, and Boca and I even got to meet our wonderful contact, Amy, in Phoenix. For this week's Positive Pet Training Blog Hop, I wanted to illuminate how positive reinforcement helped make Boca's first big event in a strange, chaotic place a success.

June 29, 2016

Sparkly Girls


Boca and I are home from our southwestern road trip to BlogPaws! It was an incredible experience and I could not be more proud of my little potcake. This picture was taken before the red carpet event on the last evening - it was so fun to share some sparkle with Boca. Much more to come!

June 20, 2016

Packing for A Summer Road Trip with My Dog

One year ago I posted on Facebook that I "really really want to take Boca to BlogPaws next year." Talk about manifesting my reality! Here it is just one sleep away from #bocasbigadventure, where we'll visit some old friends, make new ones, and learn more about this wonderful medium that has truly changed my life. Our trip is being generously sponsored by Open Farm - a perfect partnership since they are the first certified humane kibble and we share a concern for animal welfare. This is my first road trip with Boca, and the longest I've been on the road with a dog! I wanted to share my packing tips as we venture through the southwest during an extreme heatwave.

June 14, 2016

From Point A to Point B with Open Farm Ingredient Traceabilty + Giveaway

One week from today, Boca and I will embark on our 1700 mile road trip to BlogPaws. Our trip is being generously sponsored by Open Farm, a pet food I can proudly promote due to their dedication to humane farming practices and sustainable fishing standards. They recently added one more layer to my confidence with an ingredient traceability function on their website, which makes following the path of the food's ingredients to The Ginger Sisters' bowls as simple as mapping my route to BlogPaws. 

June 12, 2016

Sun Seeker

Though closer still the blinds we pull 
To keep the shady parlour cool, 
Yet he will find a chink or two 

To slip his golden fingers through. 
from "Summer Sun" by Robert Louis Stevenson

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June 11, 2016

Trick Training Helped Lessen the Stress of a Vet Visit for My Reactive Dog

I wasn't expecting to write about a trip to the vet for this week's Positive Pet Training Blog Hop, but Ruby had a rather sudden onset of digestive distress following a strong thunderstorm this week and although I suspected it was stress related, I wasn't taking any chances when blood showed up in her stool. I made an appointment with our wonderful veterinarian the following afternoon and loaded Ruby up in her travel den, which has made drives far less taxing for both of us.

May 31, 2016

Cool Treats, a Fashion Show and a Potcake Playdate

It's hard to believe that Boca and I will be leaving for BlogPaws - a three-day pet blogging conference in Phoenix, AZ - exactly three weeks from today. Our trip is being generously sponsored by Open Farm, the first Certified Humane kibble. I've been reading several books about pets, ethics and animal welfare recently, and I'm glad there is a pet food option that has these things in mind.

May 24, 2016

Patio Weather

Winter lingered into May, and then summer arrived seemingly overnight. 

May 22, 2016

Ginger Gardens

You get very independent when you live alone. You get to be a real individual.

~ "Big Edie" Beale, Grey Gardens 

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May 20, 2016

Boca Goes Shopping to Benefit Animal Welfare

With BlogPaws fast approaching, I've been taking Boca on as many outings as possible to prepare for our road trip next month. We'll be driving over 1500 miles through the southwest, and our trip to the conference is being generously sponsored by Open Farm. Many of my choices in life are made with animal welfare in mind, and what I feed my dogs is no exception. Open Farm is the first Certified Humane dry dog food on the market, which means the standards of care for the animals are much higher than a typical factory farm. As someone who tried to reduce the number of animal products in my own life through a mainly vegetarian diet, these standards are important to me. 

May 11, 2016

Quality Testers

dog sleeping on pillow

My friend gave me some new throw pillows for my purple sofa, so of course the first order of business was making sure they passed muster with The Ginger Sisters. 

May 9, 2016

Pet-Friendly Spring Cleaning Giveaway with PL360

Spring was slow to arrive in Colorado, but now that warm and sunny has taken over cold and snowy, I felt motivated to shake out the cobwebs and freshen up my house, and was happy to partner with PL360 to promote an awesome spring cleaning giveaway.  I've been using plant-based, pet-safe PL360 products regularly myself since winning a similar giveaway myself about a year ago.

May 8, 2016

Rosie: Tribute to a Rescued Mother

Rosie is dog I transported for Paws on the Ground a few weeks ago - we were rear-ended at the start of our journey so our fearless leader came to pick us up as we were both quite shaken and the three of us continued to her new foster home. We've saved 60 dogs since becoming a non-profit at the beginning of the year, and most of the dogs and puppies aren't with us for long. Many I haven't even met, but some capture your heart almost instantly, and Rosie was one of those. Puppies are not really my thing - I've always adopted adult dogs. For that reason, it's funny that I've ended up deeply involved with a primarily puppy rescue, but all of those puppies have mothers, and we help the mothers needing homes whenever we can. 

May 5, 2016

Ruby Reviews: The Honest Kitchen Proper Toppers

This month, The Ginger Sisters were excited to try Proper Toppers, the newest offering from The Honest Kitchen. I know I wasn't imagining them looking longingly at the package on the counter when I told them we couldn't open it until we got pictures... 

May 2, 2016

Staying to Play - A Surprising Training Discovery

Although this weekend's outdoor activites were thwarted by yet another spring snowstorm (I referred to yesterday as Gray the First), I was able to get in a fun Frisbee game with Ruby before the green was whited-out again. I've been incorporating the long line and flying disc into any outdoor training with Ruby, because it's the one thing I've found that she finds highly motivating, even in the presence of her many triggers. Recently, we even had a great experience with two different dogs being walked around the perimeter of the lawn we play on, where Ruby briefly looked at the dogs and then returned to obsessing over her Frisbee. For a dog so reactive she knows the sound of the doors of the places where dogs live opening from inside our house, this is huge. It was around that time I decided I needed to order the things (Booda's TailSpin Flyer if we're being specific) in bulk from our favorite online retailer. They are magic!

April 28, 2016

Announcing My First Road Trip with Boca

I'm thrilled to announce that in a sponsored partnership with Open Farm, Boca and I will be traveling to Phoenix, AZ in June for the 2016 BlogPaws Conference! There are so many reasons I'm excited about this. Firstly, I can't think of a pet food brand I'm more proud to promote; Open Farm is committed not only to the health and well-being of dogs and cats with transparent sourcing and high-quality ingredients, but as the first Certified Humane kibble, they are concerned with the treatment of farm animals. As a lifelong animal advocate and mostly-vegetarian, these factors are closely in line with my own values. The Ginger Sisters love the food and I regularly include it in their rotation diet. Boca wants me to be sure I remember to pack some! 

April 25, 2016

From Holding Protest Signs to Holding Rescue Puppies

This weekend I helped transport four adorable puppies with Paws on the Ground after spending the rest of the day mailing items from our recent fundraising auction, picking up a donation of supplies, and cleaning and readying crates for transport. Since the beginning of the year we have been working to help a local retail pet store offer rescue puppies for adoption. Here in Colorado we have a licensing and inspection program that oversees all aspects of pet care, both retail and rescue, and we have to be sure that we comply with their requirements. We had a total of thirteen puppies arriving from New Mexico, four going to foster and nine going to the store we are working with. The transport would not be possible without From Forgotten to Forever whose volunteers devote every weekend to long-distance driving with a van full of precious spared lives. The van has designated drop-off points and they have the process down to a science. A Facebook message thread keeps everyone up-to-date on their estimated arrival times, dogs are transfered, pictures are taken, and they are on to their next stop. Between our own volunteers and those from other organizations, we formed a small tribe of animal lovers in the parking lot, sharing stories, appreciation, and excitement about the adorable cargo soon arriving. Mostly, we can't wait to get our hands on those puppies!

April 20, 2016

Heartbeats at my Feet

Denver was buried in heavy, wet spring snow this weekend - all of the eagerly blooming flowers and trees suffered and my townhome grounds are strewn with fallen branches. The remaining snow is now littered with pink crabapple petals, a strange sight of delicate decimation. It snowed for 36 hours straight and even though the ground was warm and much melted immediately, we still had around 18" of accumulation.

I was in a minor non-weather-related car accident while driving a rescue dog to a foster home on Friday evening (I was the front car in a three-car rear-end accident at a traffic light), and while I am okay, I was more than happy to be snowed in with The Ginger Sisters for some enforced relaxation the remainder of the weekend. They are such dear companions, and it fills my heart with love and contentment to see them sleeping at my feet.

April 17, 2016

Protesting is the Easy Part

Carrying "Herbie" from a long transport into the store where he would be adopted several days later. 

Last August I started joining a weekly protest in front of a pet store here in the Denver area that sells puppies from commercial breeders. That's the nice way to say puppy mill. I'm someone who does her research, so I looked up the USDA reports from some known suppliers to this store. The numbers of adult dogs and puppies on the premises at times of inspection told me all I needed to know. These dogs were not frolicking in green meadows and sleeping in warm, comfortable beds. They were spending their lives in cages, producing puppies as fast as their bodies were able. I bought some poster board and my dad helped me make some protest signs. I showed up a few times a month at first, started making some friends and becoming more comfortable standing up for what I believed. As the holiday season approached, momentum built and we organized some all-day protests in shifts. Groups of dedicated volunteers stood on snow and ice in freezing temperatures for hours, holding signs in gloved hands. We didn't see very many puppies leave the store on those days, and the pet store was growing increasingly agitated by us.

April 3, 2016

Practical and Playful Trick Training

My post for Positive Pet Training Week is only very loosely based on the theme of training for first aid and emergencies. Ruby has never worn a muzzle, nor do I have one, but with a fearful/reactive dog I thought that integrating a cue that could lay the groundwork for muzzle training would be a good idea. You just never know when a situation might arise that might be too overwhelming for the anxious dog's taxed inhibition. With an unpredictable reactive dog, a muzzle helps make dog introductions safer. Sara over at Two Blockheads has a wonderful post about muzzle training that I recommend. I introduced the "muzzle" behavior with a plastic cup that we use for the shell game. It was fairly easy to capture since it was just another form of touch, although I was surprised how comfortable Ruby was with shoving her whole face in. The video we took earlier today is probably only the third time at most that we've worked on this. I did some free-shaping to break things up, and I really liked the nose pushing behavior with the cup. Our next step would be adding duration, and later on build acceptance/comfort with a basket-type muzzle being fastened and worn.

March 30, 2016

Gingers In Repose

Learn from yesterday, live for today, look to tomorrow, rest this afternoon. 
Charles M. Schulz