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!
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12 Ways You Know You Are a True Dog Lover

12 Ways You Know You Are a True Dog Lover

My dog is my family. A few of my friends would probably say I go a little overboard. But honestly, Bitsy gives me so much love in return, that a little overboard is warranted, don’t you think? There is a fine line between being a dog lover and being doggone crazy! I am positive I am the former. But which one are you?

1. You’ve provided for your dog’s lifelong care in your will.

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Actually, shame on you if you have not established plans for your pet in the event you go first. In many cases, surviving family members choose to euthanize their loved one’s dog or cat. What a horrible way to honor the memory of your dearly departed!

Seriously, ask friends or family members if they would take your pet into their home in the event of your untimely demise and then get it in writing! Create a folder with all the pertinent details about your furry friend like name of caregiver and contact info, diet, vet, shot records, license, etc. Contact your lawyer and update your Will to name the caregiver and set aside the money needed to undertake that duty. (Just make sure you include that the money is to be used for your pet and not their vacation to Hawaii.)

2. You can name every hotel chain that accepts pets.

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There are countless websites that list pet-friendly hotels. One of my very favorite ways to search for pet-friendly travel  is the TripAdvisor website. I have the app on my phone. Simply type “pet friendly” into your search and you’ll see restaurants, hotels, and attractions where my little Bitsy is welcomed at any destination. It’s a great app!

Many hotels take up to two pets. A few of the chains that are most accommodating to our four-legged companions are LaQuinta, Wyndham, and most Hilton properties (you’ll need to check each location for their policy). But there are tons more out there. A few of the pricier options where pets are really pampered include Kimpton Hotels, Loews, W Hotels Worldwide, and The Ritz-Carlton.

3. You took your dog on your honeymoon.

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Okay, this is bordering obsession! But I know there are people out there who do. If you are one of them, please post a photo! After all, while I’m not married, I know many friends who wouldn’t be happy without their furry friend in tow.

4. You refuse invitations that do not include your dog.

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I do this sometimes. If someone invites me away for a weekend, I’m either taking Bitsy or staying home. I’m at work five days a week. I’m not leaving my dog in a kennel over the weekend. Period.

5. You host a neighborhood pet party each year for your dog’s birthday.

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Bitsy and I have been to a few birthday parties so I feel qualified to offer some advice here. First, don’t have it at a dog park unless you bring enough treats for any uninvited guests that happen to be at the park that day. Really, it’s just rude!

Second, make sure those treats are actually dog-friendly. You can make your own using wholesome ingredients. (I’ll include a recipe or two of my own below.)

Third, bring extra water bowls and clean water.

Fourth, paper birthday hats are fun for your memory book, but some dogs find them humiliating. If you see a party guest’s tail go between her legs as soon as the hat is plopped on, don’t force the issue!

Fifth, know your guests. Though your dog might be on friendly terms with your neighbor’s pooch, make sure all invited canines are dog friendly with all others. There’s nothing worse than a playground bully at a dog party.

6. The only dog biscuits in your pantry are home baked.

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I like to make Bitsy her biscuits because that way I know they are not loaded with fillers, plus it is way cheaper. Her faves are the peanut butter ones, though she likes the sweet potato too. One word of caution when making your own doggy treats…keep them wholesome. Bacon is loaded with sodium, so skip it. When is brown sugar ever recommended for a doggy diet? Skip it. Actually, the ASPCA has a great list on their website of people foods you should not feed you pet. If you see something on the list, keep it out of your dog cookies!

Bitsy’s Peanut Butter Biscuits
2 cups whole wheat flour (or other if Fido has an allergy to wheat)
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup natural peanut butter
1 1/4 cups hot water
1 Tablespoon flaxseed
Mix dough. Roll out to ¼” thickness. Use cookie cutter.

(Here’s a link in case you don’t already own a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel cookie cutter.)

Lay out on cookie sheet using parchment paper. Base at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until golden around the edges. Cool completely. Store in airtight container for up to a week.

Tip:  You can turn this basic recipe into pumpkin or sweet potato treats by switching out the peanut butter, cutting back on the water to about a cup, and adding an egg. Make sure you use pure organic pumpkin or bake your own sweet potato.

7. You have more posts featuring your dog on your social media accounts than any other member of your family.

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8. Your dog is included in all your professional family portraits.

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9. Dog toys have their own line on your annual household budget.

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I can’t help myself. Every time I walk through a pet supply store like PetSmart, or even a regular store that happens to carry dog paraphernalia like Target, I pick up another toy for Bitsy to try out. I’ve ordered my share of “stuff” from Amazon too! I am eyeing this new pet camera in a ball as we speak! Please, could someone talk me out of this one! 

10. You bought a bigger bed to accommodate your dog.

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I am wondering if there is anyone out there who hasn’t done this? I finally succumbed to a king sized bed so that my tiny (but expansive while sleeping) Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has room to kick her paws while dreaming. Full disclosure: This is not Bitsy. I do NOT sleep on polka dot sheets!

And two bonus clues I nearly forgot:

11. Your veterinarian is on your Christmas card list.
12. All the clerks at PetSmart and PetCo know you by name (first and last).

Yes, and yes. Guilty as charged!

So, are you a dog lover or dog obsessed? Maybe I am somewhere in between! What qualities would you add to my dog lover list? Leave a comment below. Pictures welcome!

Brad Nierenberg Wants to Travel

I want to travel. There. I said it. Now that I’ve said it, I don’t feel better about not traveling, but perhaps this wanderlust will subside a little.

Lately I’ve been really up and down. The weather totally spazzing isn’t helping. Bitsy is finally recovered from her Easter upset. But I’m in a weird state of mind.

I’ve been thinking about a road trip. I keep wondering where I’d go. There’s nothing really for me to get into. A friend said Mercury would be in retrograde soon… if you think 3 weeks is soon… but apparently that might be affecting my mood.

Dogs are always the best medicine – except when they’re not. Bitsy seems to understand I’m feeling off my game, but she’s been acting up a bit. I feel guilty that I’ve been wishing for another dog lately to keep her occupied. It’s these times when depression kicks my ass and I just don’t want to do anything but sit and watch Netflix. I think she is going stir crazy.

I feel paralyzed in some ways – wanting to get away, explore – leave family drama behind – abandon all responsibilities… but then I remember I promised to take care of this ball of fluff and it wouldn’t be fair to her if I totally bailed on my duties to her. So I think I’ll get off my ass and actually throw the tennis ball for a while.

Does anyone have some suggestions for driveable getaways from the Delaware?

 

 

Spring, is that you?

I have been spending some time traveling as of late — it’s that spring time buzz that gets me going. The idea of snow being done and the critters coming back out makes me get excited. The trees start to bud, the birds come back, and I saw a bunny in my back yard yesterday. The one thing I can say for sure is that snow can be fun, but I’ll take sun any day.

Bitsy has been a great road warrior with me. Something that I wish she’d do is hang her head out the window of the car. But I’m guessing that the wind bothers her eyes. She has very wet eyes, and though my vet tells me that this is normal for the breed, I think that the wet fur mixed with wind is why she doesn’t like it.

I’ve considered doggy goggles, but I feel like she’s too dignified for that… now if Ray Bans made them, then she could ride in style, but the ones I’ve found are just goofy looking.

Over the past 3 weeks, we’ve traveled to New York, New Jersey, Maryland, DC, Philadelphia and Ohio. We’ve been taking in the sites and sounds before I settle into a new, more permanent job.

I want to head back to DC for their Cherry Blossom festival. I met some cool people when I visited – not at all like House of Cards… then again, I didn’t visit the White House. I’m sure it’s different there.

I’ve been feeling kind of lonely lately, and I think Bitsy can sense it, so she’s been getting closer and more underfoot. I accidentally stepped on her tail while she was wagging it – (a feat might I add) and nearly killed myself trying to get off it without hurting her. But, as always, she just shook it off and acted like nothing happened… I was very relieved. How do you keep smaller dogs from getting under foot? Also, if you have any tips for the extra wet eyes, I’d be all ears.