I’m a Bad Dog Parent!

Dogs Don't Know What is Lurking in the Grass.
Dogs Don’t Know What is Lurking in the Grass.

I’m failing as a dog parent was my first thought. My second thought was- how do I get that thing off my dog. That thing was a tick that had firmly planted itself just above Willa’s front left leg.

We were snuggled in watching one of our favorite TV shows, Willa sprawled between myself and my husband. My husband was idly stroking Willa, when he jolted up exclaiming “What is that?” Willa will be thirteen in July, and we had lost our twelve year old mutt to cancer last July. Naturally the thought racing through our minds was that it was a lump, that it would be determined to be cancer. We were both relieved and disturbed to discover it was a tick.

Once the “lump” was identified my mind jolted back to an article I had read recently regarding the bad medical advice that was floating around the internet. One of the things cited was that you should not use Vaseline to remove ticks. When reading the article I wasn’t concerned. Now my mind chased itself in circles. For years we had followed what we thought was sound wisdom and had smothered ticks with Vaseline to get them to drop off. Now what were we going to do?

I searched the – you guessed it – the now untrustworthy internet to find out how to remove the tick. One of the first articles I saw was from a surely reliable source – The Humane Society. We followed their guide, found here. Willa is doing great, the tick not so well.

Number one on our to do list today is getting flea and tick repellant for our dogs.


Moe the Slapstick King

Moe with Food Bag
Moe making sure not a morsel of food is wasted.

During the night, the cold November winds had swept over the Sierra Nevada Mountains, sliding down the eastern slopes and marching across the valley floor. They were more mischievous than damaging. Glancing out the French Doors that framed the expanse of our yard, I noticed that the yard was now decorated with broken branches and debris.

With a heavy sigh, I left the warm embrace of the house to pick up after mother nature. While I was outside I would undertake the least favored duty of a dog owner and pick up after our four dogs as well. I often found it comforting that my dogs would keep me company during this duty. Tasha, Willa and Taz would meander around the yard lending me moral support. Moe would prance around the yard, executing vigorous inspections in various areas to ensure the task was completed to his high standards.

As I methodically crisscrossed the yard, a rustling noise off to my right drew my attention. I looked up catching sight of Moe as he was thrusting his head into an empty dog food bag, one of the winds contribution to our lawn decorations. Concerned about Moe’s food allergies and what he might find in this abandoned item, I sternly said his name, hoping to distract him from his mission. Startled Moe planted his feet and lifted his head, like a deer sniffing the air to detect the presence of danger. I stared at him. The food bag stared back. I struggled not to laugh at Moe’s predicament. The food bag continued to stare me down. I took a few steps forward. Moe panicked. The flight reflex kicked in and he bolted. Head down he took two strides into the wooden fence that enclosed the yard. The bag flew in one direction. Unhurt, Moe reeled in confusion. Unhinged, I reeled in laughter.

If I had been 30 years younger, I would have had an iPhone and I’m sure the ensuing video would have trended on YouTube. But alas I was not younger. The only video I have is the one I replay over and over in my mind. I shake with laughter at the antics of my slapstick king every time.

Help Spread the Adopt Don’t Shop Word

As you saunter through my posts or pages you will find that I am passionate in my belief that we can all play a role in helping shelter animals. If you haven’t read my post/page on the astonishing number of animals euthanized every year, please do so.

My passion lead me to create the design below. I hope you agree that it could be a used to help spread the message.

Save a Life 5 wide

If you choose to support just cats or just dogs, here are more designs. All of these design are available on T-Shirts, Pins and Key Fobs at Zazzle.com in my bigbrowndoggifts store.

Save a Cat 5 Wide

Please note that I normally make a 5% royalty on anything sold with one of my designs. For Adopt Don’t Shop that royalty will be donated to the ASPCA. If you are interested in purchasing any of these products, simply click on the image and it will take you to the store.

Save a Dog 5 wide

By encouraging people to adopt from shelters, we can save lives. Together we can spread the word.  If we can raise a little money at the same time, well that would be the cherry on top!


Take A Walk

DogsatWindow2Taking your dog for a walk – sometimes it is just another chore, something you’d really rather not do. Often you can convince your self not to do it. Maybe you are really good at the walks. Donning the comfortable shoes, grabbing the leash and heading out the door with Fido is a daily occurrence for you. I wish that was true of me. More often then I would like to admit, inertia sets in. I formulate just the right excuses and the walk is skipped for another day. We all know the rhetoric, all the health benefits for you and your dog. However, just in case you have forgotten here they are again.  According to the American Heart Association, for you the benefits of walking are:

  • Reduced risk of coronary heart disease
  • Improved blood pressure and blood sugar levels
  • Improved blood lipid profile
  • Stable body weight and lowered the risk of obesity
  • Enhanced mental well being
  • Reduced risk of osteoporosis
  • Reduced risk of breast and colon cancer
  • Reduced risk of non-insulin dependent (type 2) diabetes

According to the ASPCA, for your dog daily exercise helps to:

  • Reduce or eliminate the common behavior problems, such as digging, excessive barking, chewing and hyperactivity
  • Keep them healthy, agile and limber
  • Reduce digestive problems and constipation
  • Build confidence and trust in timid or fearful dogs
  • Reduce restlessness and increase sleepiness at bedtime or when you’re relaxing
  • Keep their weight under control

Well if all that is not enough here is a way that walking your dog every day will not only help you and your dog, it can help countless shelter pets. Walk for a Dog is a smartphone app for Android and iPhone. Once you set up the app, including selecting the shelter you wish to sponsor, every time you click on it at the start of your walk, contributions towards a donation are calculated. According to Walk for a Dog’s parent organization, WoofTrax, donations are funded via sponsorship deals and advertising. The donations vary from 11 to 25 cents per mile, depending on the number of people who have signed up to walk in benefit of a particular animal organization. This information is based on a Huffington Post article. Not training for a marathon or cross country hike? It doesn’t matter. The number of walks you take is more important that the distance you walk. Below is a quote from Doug Hexter one of WoofTrax founding partners taken from a SFGate article.

Every funding period is going to be different,” Hexter said. “About twice a year, we send donations to organizations with active walkers. The donation pool is divided based upon the number of people walking for a particular organization and the number of times they walked.

Don’t have a dog, or know someone who may not have a dog, and would like to support shelter animals? There’s an app for that. Actually in the Walk For A Dog app there is an option, “Walk With Cassie”, named after Hexter’s rescued foxhound mix. If your going to take a walk anyway, why not support shelter animals at the same time? You will have to tolerate some ads in your app. These are the people making the cash donations. There are no other catches, it costs you nothing and shelter pets benefit. Can it get any better? PSST! Spread the word.

The idea for this post originally came from one done by livingonadimeanddogs on April 18th titled WalkForADog.

Blog the Change: please consider adopting an older pet!

I am hoping by re-blogging your post more people will get a chance to read your article. Thank you for becoming a champion for adopting older pets. I would like to add one additional reason for adopting old pets. Although I don’t like to think of myself as a senior yet, that time is coming. We recently lost two of our dogs and are starting to think about adding another member to our pack. Because we are getting older ourselves I don’t think it would be wise to adopt a puppy, which may actually outlive us or our ability to take care of them.

The Pet Mom


(Photo courtesy of the Humane Society of North Iowa)

Today is “Blog the Change for Animals” – a posting challenge to write about a cause near and dear to your heart, and to make a fresh commitment to that cause.

I have been nuts about animals my whole life. All critters, really. I started trying to “save them all” even as a small child. I swear every stray in the vicinity knew my address, because they knew a little girl lived there who would give them food, water and love. I wasn’t able to do much back then, but I tried.

The ones that needed me weren’t puppies and kittens. They were older, street-smart if you will. They didn’t have that adorable kitten/puppy aspect – they didn’t roll over and act cute and sweet. They were tired, hungry, and most of all, wary.  Most didn’t come near me. But…

View original post 1,690 more words

Black Dog Syndrome

training-lab-puppies You be the judge.

Based on initial reaction, were you drawn to the Yellow Lab, more than the Chocolate or Black Lab.

For years the theory has been circulating that black dogs who enter shelters languish unwanted longer than dogs with lighter coats. Just ask a rescue worker and they will be able to tell many tales of black dogs left behind in their kennels after their lighter furred companions have been taken to new homes. There is Wikipedia page devoted to this phenomenon (here’s the link Black Dog Syndrome), and Petfinders talks about it in an article that can be found here.

According to the Petfinder article BDS may be caused by a combination of the following factors with black dogs –

  • Size
  • Unclear facial features
  • Dimly lit kennels
  • The “genericness” of black pets
  • Negative portrayals of black pets in books, movies and other popular media. A big, frightening black dog can be seen in The Hound of the Baskervilles, the Harry Potter series, both movie versions of The Omen, and even on the common “Beware of Dog” sign.

Added to the above is the fact that black dogs do not photograph well, giving the advantage to light-colored dogs on adoptions websites that depend heavily on heart stirring photographs to seal the deal.

Just as there are numerous articles written discussing BDS, there are articles that debunk Black Dog Syndrome as an urban myth. Dr Emily Weiss from the ASPCA discusses the BDS phenomenon in “Black is the New White”. Her results, based on analysis of data from 2013, that included 300,00 dogs and cats, concluded that although 30% of dogs entering shelters were black, they made up 32% of the dogs that were adopted.

Myth or fact, a cautionary note is that the larger number of black dogs entering shelters means there are a larger number of black dogs that need to find a home.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Moe at 3 months could be best described as stumbling mass of ears, paws and elongated tail. He lived by the adage “why walk when I can run”. The world was vast and full of new experiences.

Moe was the first dog I had gotten during the “puppy” years. As such house training was a new experience to both of us. When he came home with us he was, chocolate-labrador-four-month-256x300thankfully, paper trained. Great, I thought, it’s just a matter of blocking him in the kitchen, where a section lined with training pads waited for the inevitable. Well done, I congratulated myself as I went to bed the first night. I’ve got the hang of this puppy thing, I thought, crossing my fingers that Moe did as well. With trepidation I looked into the kitchen the next morning. Moe hearing my arrival was clamoring at the gate to get to me. A scan of the room showed no signs of accidents, however the very important training pads floated in a large lake of urine. I think I had not fully understood the ratio of input vs output.

Much to Moe’s delight we had plenty of snow that first winter. Unfortunately it was also an extremely cold winter. I would wait anxiously by the door when I let him out to do his business. On more than one occasion I would have to don my coat and boots to go into our small yard and retrieve him. There he would be, romping like a dolphin through the snow, which was deeper than he was high. He would stop occasionally to bury his nose in the snow, then flip it up tossing a ball of snow into the air which he would attempt to catch in his mouth. Despite the cold temperatures his walks never took a direct path, each snow bank had to be climbed, every bush examined and every smell investigated. I hadn’t realized that dogs didn’t know the rule “the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.”

Visits to my soon to be husband created a new wonderland. There he could romp and play with the 6-year-old Tasha and Willa. I know that Moe enjoyed this new endeavor, I’m not sure about the other dogs. The biggest challenge came on his daily walks. We didn’t realize how hard it would be for this energetic puppy to keep up with the older dogs. Often he would fall behind while investigating the world, however, he was a trooper and would come crashing down the path, ears flapping, tongue and tail looking like they were dragging on the ground.

When we left the dogs alone in the house, we would put up the usual baby gates to block Moe in the kitchen, just in case he felt the need to relieve himself when we were gone. Tasha and Willa, the sage adults they were, roamed the house freely. We came home one time to be greeted by Tasha running down the stairs, followed quickly by Willa and then, not to be out done, came Moe. We were further confused when we found the two gates in the doorways to the kitchen standing just as we had left them. It became obvious that Moe had climbed them – where there is a will, there is a way.

Our puppy is now a stately 7 years old. He has, thankfully grown into his ears and tail, but regretfully he also grew into his saucer like Moe in Bath Tub  Renopaws. The world needs less investigation by this seasoned warrior, however, he still out smarts us just like he did with the baby gates. For some reason he likes to sleep in bath tubs.

Full disclosure – the puppy picture is not actually one of Moe, however is very close to what he looked like. The guy in the bath tub is very much Moe.