Dog Selfies – Crazy or Brilliant?

Dog Selfies – Crazy or Brilliant?

Do you avoid traveling because you hate leaving your dog? Don’t want to seem crazy to your petsitter by asking for pictures while you’re gone? Let your dog take the pictures herself with the Dog Selfie camera.

OK, let me back up a bit.

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I prefer to take Bitsy everywhere with me as you can see above at the beach. We travel together when possible, but every once in awhile I am forced to head out alone. Occasionally my dog is not invited to weddings, family reunions, or group excursions. Keep in mind, I sometimes decline invitations that exclude my canine companion because she loves an adventure as much as the next dog…but every once in awhile I hire a pet sitter.

I stumbled across this awesome video from Mashable that shows you how to set up a pet selfie contraption. While the mechanics seem pretty straight forward, training my little Cavalier King Charles Spaniel to press the red button may be a bit more of a challenge.

I can totally picture crazy dog owners like myself setting something like this up in the dog pen so that Bitsy can send me an occasional selfie when I’m on the road!

This got me to thinking that maybe I should set up a webcam while I’m away too. I would get my Bitsy-fix and make certain she is doing OK — killing two birds with one stone! I will need to discuss it first with my trusty pet sitter though. I trust and respect her and would not want to give her the impression that I suspect her of neglect. Fortunately she knows that when it comes to my dog I am a bit of a nut!

So, what do you think about dog selfies or a nanny-cam for your pet? Over the top or a good idea? Leave your comments below!

DIY Dog Treats

DIY Dog Treats

You all know how much I love home baked dog treats for Bitsy. Not only are they healthier because you can control every ingredient, but I feel like Bitsy likes them more because they are made with love. I’v shared my own recipe before, but here are a few more of my favorites:

Homemade Frosty Paws
Healthy Flaky Carrot Biscuits
Chicken and Rice Treats
Soft and Chewy PB Bones
Salmon and Sweet Potato Squares

The chicken and salmon varieties are for special occasions only in our house. I don’t want Bitsy to get too spoiled! I do make the other ones quite often so we always have a supply. Making dog treats is a regular occurrence in my house. Bitsy loves when I bake, she can’t stay out of the kitchen. I’m sure your dog will love it too. Enjoy!

You’re Never Too Old to Love a Dog

You’re Never Too Old to Love a Dog

I live in a big neighborhood and like so many other people who live in the suburbs, I know neighbors by their dogs. Lately, I’d noticed the absence of an older retired Army veteran and his Lhasa Apso while out walking Bitsy.  I would always see them a couple of streets over.

At first I assumed it was the heat since this summer has been a scorcher. Then I thought perhaps the gentleman was on vacation. But when I saw him last weekend he was walking a different dog, a little mixed fluffy breed, and I asked him about his Lhasa. I was sorry to hear the little dog had passed away earlier in the summer. What surprised me was his response when I asked about his new dog.

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Charlie is the fluffy little new dog. The gentleman does not know Charlie’s breed or age. He was paired with the little guy by an organization that matches senior rescue dogs with senior people.

After the loss of his previous dog my neighbor had started to sink into depression. He lives alone and his social life pivots around walking his dog. I’ve seen him at all times of morning, afternoon, and evening. He can usually be spotted on the side of the road, dog in toe, talking with one neighbor or another…anyone who has the time to chat!

After the loss of his Lhasa, another neighbor recommended the gentleman adopt a senior dog. Older shelter dogs are not as easy to place as puppies. But for an older adult, a calm, trained dog is the perfect companion.

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I’ve passed Charlie and his new owner 20 times since last weekend. Most of the time Bitsy and I keep walking. We’re out to get our exercise. But Charlie is out with his Army Vet to meet and greet, providing companionship and a reason to get out of the house to someone who thrives on the socialization.

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It makes me smile every time Bitsy and I pass them. I am adding a few links to organizations which pair senior dogs with seniors. I hope you’ll share the story with your elders. Who knows, maybe one of these organizations can provide a happy ending to someone else’s story!

Senior Dogs 4 Seniors
Paws Seniors for Seniors
Senior Pets for Senior People
The Senior Dogs Project
The Sanctuary for Senior Dogs
The Pets for the Elderly Foundation
Pets for Seniors

If you know of other similar organizations and would like them added, please leave a comment below!

Note: None of these images are of my neighbor or Charlie. I want to respect their privacy.

How Much Vocabulary Do Dogs Really Understand?

Turns out our dogs can understand us better than we think. This article goes more in depth into the research and science, but all I needed to hear was that dogs can understand the meanings of words and intonations in very much the same way that humans do. I’ve known for years that Bitsy has a vast vocabulary. Ask her to go for a walk or say dinner time and you can see her visibly perk up and head for the door or her dish. I’m just glad there’s some research now that shows me I’m not crazy to think my dog understands me! What words does your dog know best? A friend of mine’s dog actually knew her four family members by name. I always thought she was just very well trained, but now we know she knows them!

Can Social Media Help Save More Dogs?

Can Social Media Help Save More Dogs?

I happened across an older blog post recently that sparked some controversy over how people should or should not use Facebook for pet rescue. Heather, of Dog Hair & Bourbon, shared some very valid points in her article, The Love/Hate Relationship of Social Media and Rescue.  The article was picked up on Petful and garnered an equal response of opposing views arguing for and against the points Heather made.

Will Anyone Act on Your Social Plea?

The comments made me remember a really interesting interview I heard a couple years ago on NPR with social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam on supporting a cause. Research by psychologist Paul Slovic of the University of Oregon showed that people reduce giving when they feel like their contribution would not make any difference in the long run. According to the research, you are more likely to help one starving child rather than contribute toward feeding a much larger population.

Understanding how the brain responds to giving, pet rescuers can use social media to paint a picture that illustrates their cause, but doing it one dog or cat at a time. Those same rescue organizations can harness social media best practices to help boost their visibility, but in a way that supports their end goal and does not dilute efforts.

Craft Social Messages that Prompt Action

Individual stories about each foster pet could include suggestions on how the general social population can help. For example, “Fido is a 5 year old lab/chihuahua mix who is in Omaha. We cannot afford to transport Fido, but if you have connections in Omaha, please share this post.” Fido is heartworm positive, but will live a long, healthy life with heartworm treatment. The treatment cost is only $xx. If you cannot adopt Fido, please pay for his treatment. Email …”

Social media is a powerful tool, but you need to tailor it to meet your goals. That said, if you are using social media as a rescue organization, make sure you establish your goals, define your target audiences, and create your social plan accordingly. And remember, research shows we humans are more likely to contribute if we think it will make an actual difference, so don’t overwhelm us with huge statistics or seemingly unsolvable problems.

10 Vital Things to Check Before You Back Out of the Driveway with Your Dog

If you’re a new dog owner, you may not be sure what the protocol is for riding in the car with your pet. Things have changed since you were a kid and it was normal for people to throw Fido in the back seat or even ride with your beloved pooch on your lap. Take a look at this simple checklist to minimize risk for your dog and maximize comfort, too!

Image Credit: FreeImages.com/Danijel Juricev

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  1. Buy and use a good, safety-rated harness. The Center for Pet Safety tested several harnesses and the Sleepypod Clickit Sport was approved with very high ratings, so I would start there. I’ve included the repot so you can check it out.
  2. Make sure your dog is wearing a collar with identification tags. If for some crazy reason your dog breaks away from you during a rest stop, tags will be vital. This brings me to number three, which should actually be number 1 for new pet owners…
  3. Microchip your pet, dog or cat, and register the microchip with a reputable monitoring company. There are many. Pet*ID and PetLink are just two. That way if your dog runs off and someone finds him/her, then they can contact the company and it will reconnect you with your missing pet.
  4. Bring water and a dish or dispenser. Car rides, especially in summer, dehydrate people and pets. Take breaks during long car trips and make sure Fido drinks plenty of water.
  5. Keep a leash in the car. One time I forgot Bitsy’s leash since she usually hops right into the car from the garage. I ended up having to carry her around rather than walk her until I could get back home for the leash. I was grateful she was a lap dog. Had she been a medium or large dog it would have meant either buying a new leash on the road or heading back home.
  6. Close the car windows or put riding goggles on your dog. If you prefer to drive with windows rolled down or you own a convertible, it is important to protect your pet’s eyes from flying dust and debris.
  7. Carry some extra food and snacks. This is a no-brainer for long trips, but what happens if you are out running errands or on a short excursion and your car breaks down? Snacks and food will prove an invaluable supply to help keep your pet happy while waiting for a tow truck.
  8. First aid kit for dogs. Again, you never know, so be prepared! This website Pet Education provides an extensive list. While I personally do not travel with all the items they include, I agree you will want to keep a few of these items in the car in the event of an emergency.
  9. Grab a few chew toys or favorite items. I do not recommend giving anything to your pet that could potentially pose a choking hazard or a distraction for the driver, but it never hurts to have a few tricks up your sleeve to keep your pet happy once you are at your new destination. That means if you do decide to give her something to gnaw on during the road trip it had better not squeak. And, if it falls to the floor, you had better be prepared to make a few stops to retrieve it or deal with the whining or yipping!
  10. Music. I love to sing with and to Bitsy when we are on the road. She seems to enjoy it so I always grab a few CDs to play. I had a friend whose dog would howl whenever it heard the friend sing opera. It was pretty funny. My dog can’t sing, but I wish she could!

Boost Your Health and Happiness – Adopt a Dog

Overcrowded animal shelters kill about 1.2 million dogs a year in the U.S. That’s roughly 60 percent of all dogs that enter a shelter. Why?

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Don’t even get me started. Just read the news any day of the week and you will see why. Humans are irresponsible to say the least. If we as a species practiced the same unconditional love as dogs do, the news would be filled with happy stories.

You can read more sickening statistics about unwanted dogs and cats on the ASPCA website. I just wanted to get your attention with a doozy opener.

There are millions of unwanted dogs across the nation representing every breed, age, size, health, and temperament. If you already own a dog, you already know the benefits of dog ownership. If you are holding back, let me share with you a few compelling reasons to find yourself a dog today!

Dog Ownership Improves Physical and Mental Health

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I am not a doctor or scientist. But there are plenty of smart people out there who have been studying the relationship between dog ownership and its health benefits.

Did you know:

  • Babies who grow up with dogs are less likely to develop allergies.
  • Dogs help people meet other people more easily. They help you socialize. They can even improve your chances of getting a date!
  • Dog owners tend to exercise more often and more rigorously than non dog owners.
  • Dogs provide companionship for the elderly and give them a reason to stay active.
  • The calm and steady presence of a dog can help reduce stress.
  • Dogs are good for the heart. In fact, the National Institute of health funded a study that looked at 421 adults who’d suffered heart attacks. One year later, they discovered dog owners were more likely to still be alive than the non dog owners, regardless of the severity of the heart attack. You can read more about the study here.

Find Your Perfect Dog

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The right dog for me may not be the right dog for you. I chose Bitsy because the personality and traits of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was a great match for my lifestyle. Every family has its own set of circumstances. There was a time when adopting a shelter dog was like shooting dice – you had no idea what you were getting. But so many shelters in the U.S. today take the time to really evaluate each dog, that you can find exactly what you are looking for. Even better, most no-kill shelters use a network of foster families to help these unwanted dogs adjust to family life before they go to a forever home. And unlike buying a pet from a breeder, you can adopt a dog on a trial basis to make sure it is the right fit.

There are a number of online resources for finding a shelter dog. I’ve listed three of the main ones. List your location and preferences, then patiently wait for your ideal dog to show up in search! Or you can attend a local pet adoption event and see adoptable dogs in person.

https://www.petfinder.com/
http://www.adoptapet.com/
http://bestfriends.org/

If you want to support a local no kill shelter in your area, you can find it here. http://www.nokillnetwork.org/

Still not sure you are ready to commit to a dog? You can always apply to be a foster family. This provides temporary homes to unwanted dogs and gives you a taste of ownership.

Please leave a comment below if you have a heart-warming dog adoption story to share. Make sure you include a photo of your new best pal!