Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Junior the French Bulldog Sings You Raise Me Up

Nothing makes me smile bigger that watching the little bulldog sing his heart out, in our latest video of the week.  He is actually singing!

My Dog Buffy is a long-haired Chihuahua. Her big trick is singing “Happy Birthday”.  Of course only  I know what shes’s doing and  she gets stage fright so  she won’t sing alone!  Everytime someone sings “Happy Birthday”, she lifts up her chin and starts singing (ok – it might be more of a howl) in the loudest voice she can muster!  After watching this little bulldog actually sing, I wondered if we could tame Buffy’s song a little so she actually fits in instead of taking over.

So how can you develop your dog’s vocal talent?  Liza Blau of Demand Media says that there are four steps to getting your dog to sing First, identify a song that inspires them.
Once they start singing to a song, reward their vocals with a treat or lots of love. 

Second, pay attention to the instruments they respond to and, again, reward and praise them for their attempts to sing.  Make sure you associate the word “sing” to the behavior. Third, sing along!  No one likes to sing alone, even your dog and forth: practice.  You need to practice rewarding and identify the “singing” behavior.  

What song would you like your dog to sing?

Monday, December 8, 2014

"How to Overcome Your Fears" by Queso

Queso is a fearful little guy that has created a move that is truly unique to protect himself from the horrible door frames and I just can’t quit giggling. Although Queso has found a really cute way of conquering his fear, dog’s fears should be taken seriously and we can help ease or relieve them.

I spoke with my vet about pet’s fears and she shared that puppies can be exposed to traumas and not have the trauma manifest as a fear until adulthood.  It is important to give a puppy lots of experiences with people, places and things.  Good experiences and challenging experiences, both help animals build confidence in their ability to handle different environments successfully.  

My vet was quick to say that a dog that has experienced trauma can develop a phobia, and traumas can include situations that are confusing or create stress for the pet.  A good
example is 
vacuuming: to a dog, it must seem there is absolutely no point in the noise-making machine that moves randomly and quickly.  To a sensitive animal, this could create confusion, stress and fear.

I consulted my trainer to find out how to help a pet live with their fears. His advice was to
create positive emotions with the phobia trigger. 
Offer them their favorite treat as they approach the object of their fear.  Then as the pet becomes comfortable by being near the object of their fear, you can move them closer to actually experiencing the fear.  He said that by being patient and proceeding slowly, you can help your pet begin their journey to becoming confident and happy around the thing they fear the most.

In the meantime, I hope that all pets that are scared can create a coping skill as funny and endearing as Queso’s unique safety move. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Building Bonds and Trusting Relationships with Your Pets

There isnt a relationship around that can survive without trust.  My relationship with my dog Peyton is deep enough that he will trust me most of the time, but there are still those moments when he looks at me and runs the other way.  Often time when pets dont obey they put themselves in harms way by running in the street or chewing something hazardous.

Peyton and I have been working with a trainer to help us form a deeper bond based on trust.  She explained that there are some other things I need to do beyond the daily walks to earn that trust.  For example, taking him with me on errands or playing fetch, which will  help him feel connected to me and special.  Ive been working hard to take the extra time to be with Peyton and one of our new favorite things to do are puppy massages!

I love massages and I know that they release hormones that help humans heal and relax.  So I decided to give Peyton a massage and he loves it just as much as I do!  He took a deep sigh and relaxed, feeling safe and trusting me to care for him while he took a nap.
Another way to help your pet feel special is to make their food more enjoyable.  I know that Peyton loves to eat and he loves it when I put little treats in with his feedings.  I spoke with our vet to see which treats would be safe and healthy and, now I take an extra minute to add some meat, egg, or broth to his kibble!

Our pets learn by playing, just like children, so Ive started playing games with Peyton to engage both his brain and his body.  We started agility classes, have upgraded the ball to a Frisbee, and I play hide and seek games with his treats.  We found some other games for dogs that we are going to try soon.  I also found these fun games for cats, because they need just as much playtime as dogs.

Consistency is very important for animals, so reinforcing all of these activities is key to really building your bond.  I want Peyton to know that he can always expect his walks and his dinner at the same time.  Our trainers approach to behavior and attention seeking is that: dogs seek attention and if they dont get enough good attention, they will seek bad attention.  So you want to set up your pet to seek good attention and want him to try hard for the praise.

It turns out that my efforts to bond with my pet are rewarded with a lot of benefits. Studies now show that beyond the obvious cure for loneliness, having the companionship of a pet has proven medically beneficial.  For elderly owners that own pets, there are fewer doctor visits and less depression. People that are chronically ill find that caring for pets is a motivator to continue to be engaged in life.  In fact, people that have heart attacks are more likely to survive that important first year if they have a pet.  Finally, pets help smooth the effects of the life related setbacks that happen to everyone.  But all of this is depending on you and your pet having a strong bond.

Peyton already sits at my feet while I work, and climbs on my lap when its available. With a bit more focus from me, Peyton and I will have an even tighter bond. I look forward to him listening to me all the time and our long, healthy life together!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Lexi and her pups: A Happy Tale

It is always surprising how much can happen in two months. In two short months, just about nine weeks, ten little puppies were born to Momma Lexi. The surviving eight grew into beautiful puppies and six of those are now in homes. Momma Lexi is all safe and happy in her new home.

The puppies were named for the characters on Criminal Minds; Reid, Prentiss, Hotch, Garcia, Morgan, JJ, Erin.

The puppies got a little messy on their way to the adoption event, so this wonderful family that adopted two gave them baths so the staff could set up for the adoption event.

Here are some of the puppies new families...

The final two puppies will be going home after Thanksgiving Day.  The volunteers deserve kudos for all their hard work in taking care of the puppies. The families deserve congratulations for their new family member. Here’s to lots of years of laughter and love!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

I Took 11 Dogs And A Cat To The Beach… And Their Reactions Were PRICELESS!

Trending on YouTube with over 8 million views, this gem is one that leaves you feeling the warm fuzzies. Practically any video made with Pharrell Williams’ International hit ‘Happy’
will have that effect, however, add in eleven happy-go-lucky dogs AND a cat to the mix? We’re sold.

Author, CATMANTOO, a dog trainer out of Australia and his feline companion, Diga, took a GoPro to the beach one afternoon and captured this footage of their pet friends having a
ball (no pun intended). Diga enjoys Stand Up Paddle Boarding and swimming – just a couple of her daily beach-going activities.

Have media of your pet(s) at the
beach you’d like to share? Send them to us at

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Adopt a Senior Dog and Adopt Everlasting Love

Walking through the kennels at animal control is one of the saddest things Ive ever done. It is so difficult knowing that you are choosing one sweet dog over another, while knowing the possible outcome for the other dog.

We walked kennel after kennel looking for a dog that would fit in perfectly with our family. We were looking for a dog that was calm,would be fine being alone while we were working, that knew basic commands and that would love evening walks!

The kennel worker thought that a senior dog would fit the bill.  We were a little shocked that dogs are considered seniors at five years old.  For a dog that may live 15 to 20 years, that seems pretty young to have the senior label.

While talking to the kennel worker we asked why the dogs were in the shelter had they done bad things causing their families to abandon them? Dogs are usually brought to the shelter when owners dont have enough time for the pet or the owner is moving and couldnt take the dog to their new home. Senior dogs are also less likely to be adopted over puppies.
After some discussion we decided that wed consider a senior dog. We knew the puppies would easily find homes. We were surprised by how many different breeds there were to choose from, even pure breed. We choose three senior dogs that we wanted to meet and, one by one, we spent some time with them in the meet and greet area. We finally decided we wanted to adopt a beautiful golden retriever with the soulful eyes, named Harold!

Harold has been in our home now for almost a month. Hes been the perfect addition since the moment he arrived, already potty trained, and he seems to know that we saved him. He is so loving and grateful. We giggle every time he asks to sleep with us because he is so polite and he is so excited when he is given permission to jump up on the bed for a snuggle. We have had to learn to sleep on half a bed so he has room to stretch out which we never thought we could love anyone enough to give up half of our bed!

Our family is so grateful that we found Harold and we love the way he fits in.  If you are considering adopting a now family member, may we suggest that you consider a senior dog, too?

November is Adopt-a-Senior-Pet Month and we hope, with your help, to improved the adoption rate by spreading awareness about how great senior pets can be. Click here to find a senior dog near you.