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Walking dogs in the dark? Get a headlamp.

November 8, 2015 8 comments

CoastHL7After the big FALL BACK, I’ve been trying to find ways to keep walking the dogs (in the dark). It’s not easy walking three leashed dogs on a street without any sidewalks, especially when one has to deal with speeding cars. Add walking in the dark to the mix and… well, now you see why we walk at the dog park most nights.

Unfortunately, the great FALL BACK has also made the dog park too dark for walking dogs, unless of course, you have a head lamp.

I’ve tried head lamps before, but none of them seemed to offer much in the way of illumination. I am not keen on tripping over tree roots or twisting my ankle in a hole, so I often ended up supplementing my headlamp with my iPhone, or relying on my friend Sara’s light, to make up for from my measly one. (She got hers at Kohl’s just like I did, but for some reason, hers was ten times brighter than mine.)

This year I wanted a headlamp that would give me enough light on my own, whether Sara was with or not. So, I went looking online. (What did we ever do without Google?)

Fortunately, a great little website called Outdoor Gear Lab had already done some detailed research and testing on headlamps and had come up with the best and worst. They tested 28 headlamps in both the field and the lab. Each one was rated on such specifics as beam strength, length and endurance, and price and value. The side-by-side images comparing the beams of comparable headlamps was especially helpful in making my decision.

In the end, I decided to get the Coast HL7. It was the best value for the size and weight of the device, and the beam was especially good (196 lumens). An added bonus was that  I was able to find it at a store close by (Walmart).

I thought about going to REI to get the Black Diamond ReVolt (2nd best on Outdoor Gear Lab’s s list), but that would have required a separate side trip and I was impatient to get started walking. I also found the price a little more than I wanted to pay. The HL7 was only $34 at Walmart. I may still go get the Black Diamond ReVolt, but for now I’m going to give the HL7 a try.

HL7 compare

The HL7 has an adjusting lever on the battery pack that allows you to go from complete darkness to bright beam or something in-between.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that when I got to Walmart, the only one they had in stock was the Coast HL7 with 285 lumens. It is even brighter than the one in the review, but the downside is it lasts only 1 1/2 hours at full strength. I have yet to change the batteries, butI am not using it at full-strength most of the time, so we’ll see how long it really lasts. Who knows? Maybe that ReVolt may be in my future after all.

So do you have a favorite headlamp for walking in the dark? If not, what do you use to guide your way?

My new favorite product – The Tick Lasso

October 8, 2015 6 comments

The Tick LassoQuite a while ago, I saw a product I had never heard of before at my vet’s office. It is called the Trix TickLasso.

What??? A lasso for ticks? Yup. It’s a real thing. And, the veterinarian staff wholeheartedly endorsed it. When they showed me how it worked, I was sold. I purchased it immediately.The Lasso

Of course, since I regularly use Frontline on the dogs, I have never had the chance to use it. It sat in my junk drawer for months. I had completely forgotten I had it.

But recently, I was a little late in applying Frontline on the dogs and Daisy got a tick. (I hate those damn little buggers.)

I was upset that my lapse in memory had allowed one to attach to her. Damn ticks.

I was also really worried about removing it and not getting the head out. In the past, I have tried to remove a rock using a tweezers. Getting the head out was usually futile. But, this time I had the TickLasso! So, I thought I would give it a try.

It was money well spent.It was really easy to use, and unlike a pair tweezers, it removed the tick intact, head and all. What a great product.

So how does it work?

  1. Like a ballpoint pen, you push the button on top of the applicator and a small lasso appears at the other end.
  2. You loop the lasso over the tick (down where the head is attached).
  3. Release the button and the lasso tightens around the tick (just like lassoing a bull).
  4. Twist the applicator and pull.

That’s it! The whole tick comes out and you’re done.

The lassoed tickJust make sure to dispose of the tick. (If you use a lit match to kill the tick, like me, make sure you let the tick out of the lasso before burning him otherwise you will ruin your lasso.)

You can see a video of how it works below.

If you want to purchase one for yourself, they are pretty much everywhere, including Amazon.

Note: I purchased this product myself and used it. I was not approached by anyone to endorse this product.

Unsaid – A Book Review

April 6, 2015 5 comments

Reading a book on dogs.

I’m a little behind the curve when it comes to my book reading list. I didn’t read Gone Girl when everyone else did (I watched the movie instead). I missed the whole Divergent series when it originally came out. And, all the dog books everyone else has been raving about for months have been sitting on my night stand for months.

However, I did get around to reading one book that was making the rounds last year (at least I think it was last year). The book is “Unsaid,” written by Neil Abramson, and it has been occupying my mind for a while now.

Bare bones, the book is about a dead woman, Helena, and her relationship with those she loves. It’s also a story about coping with life after you lose the love of your life, friendship, and fighting for those who don’t have a voice in our legal system. Woven through the story (and various storylines), there are dogs, cats, horses, a pig, a chimp named Cindy, and a boy named Clifford.

At the beginning of the book we learn that Helena, a veterinarian, has died from cancer. She lingers on in the lives of her husband and beloved animals, unable to move on and unable to help them in their grief. She feels for her animals, for whom she was the prime caregiver, and her husband who is trying to care for them while still dealing with his debilitating grief at losing her.

Reading her words and her feelings in this early part of the book was difficult. I imagined myself in her position and having to watch my own animals struggling to deal losing me. It was painful. I couldn’t help but wonder how they would cope with the loss and with being split up. How scary would it be for them to suddenly be living in a new home or in a rescue? How confused would they be? Would they thrive? Would they struggle? Yeah. Not pleasant thoughts to be thinking.

But soon, the book has you heading in different directions and off on a journey that explores the relationship between her husband, a veterinarian friend, a woman and her son and the pets she leaves behind. Each person is someone you come to care about. Each is struggling with loss and trust and change. Even Helena’s animals become personalities that you root for or worry about.

When Helena’s husband (a lawyer), takes on a case involving a chimpanzee, named Cindy, and the woman who has raised and studied her, the story takes turn. At the center of the court battle is the argument that Cindy, a chimp who communicates using sign language and has been shown to have the capacity to think like a child, should be saved from experimental testing because she is a sentient being. The battle takes many twists and turns but in the end leaves one thinking about the value of an animal life and the value each animal brings to our own lives.

As Helena says near the end of the book:

“I’ve been so foolish, running through the forest searching for some profound and eclipsing life meaning when it is the trees themselves that were bejeweled the whole time: Skippy, Brutus, Arthur, Alice, Chip, Bernie, Smokey, Prince, Collette, Charlie, Cindy, hundreds of cats, dogs and other creatures whom I treated, made better, eased into death, or simply had the privilege to know. Each was worthy in his or her own right for being valued, each was instrumental in connecting us and then moving us onward in our own lives, and each gave more than he or she got in return.”

This is a book worth reading. It leaves you thinking and it makes you appreciate the time you have with the animals in your life. I think I only had two disappointments in reading this book: 1) that I never got to experience Helena being reunited with any of her animals, and 2) that it ended way before I was ready for it to do so.

Dog games to buy for your dog this Christmas

December 7, 2014 18 comments

A few people have sent me notes and private messages inquiring about the games I play with my dogs. They wanted to know what game or games would for their dog(s). I know Christmas is coming up, so I thought I would at least share my own experience with some of the games I have and tell you which ones I want to get next.

Trixie Chess Game

UntitledThe Chess Game by Trixie was the first game I ever purchased for my dogs. I thought it would be a difficult one  for them to figure out (it was labeled Level 3), and it was, but only for a short time. Cupcake was the first to figure out that there were treats under those golden cups, but it wasn’t long before Jasper and Daisy did too.

It was also Cupcake (Master Puzzle-solver) who first figured out that the red blocks slid sideways, and that they hid even more treats. She loves this puzzle, but mostly because it is so easy for her now.

I love this toy because it got my dogs started on puzzles. I also love it because it helped Daisy to gain confidence. When I first tried this puzzle with Daisy she was skittish and jumpy and nervous. She needed a lot of encouragement to keep trying, but she never stopped trying. Now she is a quick as Cupcake at solving it and she loves it just as much as Cupcake does.

My opinion? A great puzzle to start out on. If your dogs are a little more shy or tentative, this is a great one to start on. It’s also a great game for beginner dog gamers.

 

He is not going to let the game beat him. 😄Nina Ottosson Dog Tornado 

The next game I purchased for the dogs was the Nina Ottosson Dog Tornado Interactive Dog Toy. I was lucky this time because I was able to let my dogs try it out before I purchased it. The toy has 3 levels, with each containing 4 spots in which to place a treat. Each level spins around to reveal the treat. Dogs can nudge or paw each level to get it to move. The game also has 4 bone-shaped cups that can cover any one of the treat spots and prevent them from moving on to the next level until the cups are removed.

I love this toy because it allows me to increase or decrease the complexity of the puzzle based on which dog is doing it. For Maggie, I can leave it at its easiest level (no cups) and help encourage her to solve it on her own. For Daisy Game night!and Cupcake, I increase the difficulty by placing the bone cups on the higher levels so they can get them out. Jasper seems to have become more of a pro at this one, so I put the cups in the middle level and on the bottom so he really has to work to remove them and get to the treats.

There is only one thing I don’t like about this toy and that is the bone cups themselves. They are smooth and difficult to get out (especially for Cupcake with her limited teeth) because they slip out of their mouths so easily. If they had groves in them it would be easier but I still love this game a lot. I just put them upside down for Cupcake, so they are not a deterrent to the fun.

My opinion? A great game for beginners and intermediate dog gamers. The ability to make it easy or more difficult is fun for me and my dogs. They love this game.

 

The best way to solve a puzzle is to chew it up until the chicken falls out. 😄 #doggamesNina Ottosson Dog Twister

The most recent game I purchased for Jasper, Daisy and Cupcake is the Nina Ottosson Dog Twister Interactive game. By far, this is the hardest dog game we have in the house. I know for sure this is true because more than once Daisy has given up and tried to chew it apart just so she can get to the treats!

The Dog Twister is made up of ten sliding pie pieces within a circle frame. Each pie piece hides a spot in which to hide treats. A dog must slide each pie piece in order to reveal the treat hidden underneath.Can you help me mom? This one is hard! #doggames

Sounds easy right? Not quite. The game also comes with twelve bone inserts that can be used to prevent a dog from moving the pie pieces. The only way to move a pie piece after that is to remove the bone(s).  As the game master, you can put in one to two bones or all twelve and increase the difficulty of the game.

My dog love this one, but are also easily frustrated by it, so I help them out on this one quite a bit. So far, the only one to figure out that the bone pieces need to be removed is Daisy, and even she is hit or miss on this. I started all four dogs out with no bone pieces and have now worked up to two, with help from mom.

My opinion? This game might be a better choice for a more experienced dog gamer. If you want a game that your dog can grow into over time, this might be the game for you, but I think I would start with an easier one for dogs who are new to dog games.

Future game purchases

There are quite a few other dog games out there ranging from easy to more difficult. Amazon has quite a few of them. I already have my eye on a few more that I want to try out with my dogs.

Trixie Mad Scientist

Tribe Mad Scientist for Dogs

Number one on my list is the Trixie Mad Scientist for Dogs. This one requires that treats are placed in the beaker-shaped modules suspended above the game’s base. In order for a dog to get the treats out, he must spin the bottles with his nose. I think Jasper would really love this one. They say it is a Level Two game, but I have a feeling it will be more difficult for all my dogs.

Trixie Gambling TowerThe other game I am looking to buy is the Trixie Gambling Tower. This one requires a dog to pull pieces out with their teeth and to remove cups to get to the treats. This game is labeled Level 1 (Easy), but I still think it would be a fun one to do with my dogs. This is a great one for beginning dog gamers too.

Whatever toy you decide to get your pet, make sure it is fun for them and you. Give your dog time to figure it out on her own, but if you see her becoming frustrated, help her out.  I promise you, you won’t be giving her the solution to the whole puzzle. I have shown my dogs how to do something on each of their puzzles and they rarely take that information and use it again the next time.

I hope you all have a great time! Let me know how it goes!

(Side note: I was in Petco this weekend to get new leashes and they had a whole wall dedicated to dog toys! You don’t have to wait for it to be delivered. You can go get one now. )

A Pet Sitter’s Review: Dynamo Dog Treats

November 5, 2013 11 comments

IMG_9468Back when I was a pet sitter, I was known for carrying a treat pouch with me everywhere I went. The dogs knew it, their humans knew it, even the neighborhood dogs knew it.

There were several reason I did this:

  1. To mark a desired behavior (like loose-leash walking) in one of my doggie clients while out on our walks.
  2. To train new dog tricks to some of my doggie clients (like the adorable Teddy) as a way to add a little variety to our walks.
  3. To toss to an oncoming dog who may be a threat to my client. (I even threw the whole pouch at a dog just to slow her down!)

I always felt like I was prepared when I had my treat pouch with me.

One of the treats I used to use most often (and still use) was Cloud Star Soft and Chewy Buddy Biscuits. I originally hose them because they are a high quality treat that is made in the U.S.A. by a family owned business and because they are grain-free (no corn!) and do not include artificial preservatives, but I soon realized that they were also a high-value treat for almost all my doggie clients. Dogs love them, including my own dogs.Dynamo dog hip and joint

So when I was asked if I would be interested in reviewing the latest Cloud Star dog treats, I (of course) said yes.  I don’t often do product reviews, but this one I was happy to do because they are a company I trust and one I have purchased from many times before.

Our dog park friend. He loved them so much he tried to get some from me a week later.

Our dog park friend. He loved them so much he tried to get some from me a week later.

Our box of treats arrived on the same day I purchased a new bag of Soft and Chewy Buddy Biscuits at the pet food store. It made me laugh. What are the chances?

I opened the box to see a new line Cloud Star dog treats called Dynamo Dog. All the bags were clearly labeled and indicated they were grain free on the package. They also clearly identified a specific dog need they were designed to meet. The four bags in the box were:

  • Hip and Jointmade with Bacon and Cheese, contains Glucosamine HCL and Chondroitin Sulfate.
  • Hip and Jointmade with Chicken, contains Glucosamine HCL and Chondroitin Sulfate.
  • Tummy treats, made with Pumpkin and Ginger (both of which are great for dogs), contain several types of probiotics to help create good bacteria in a dog’s tummy.
  • Skin and Coatmade with Salmon, contains Vitamin E to help with the skin and coat.

I started my dogs off with the Tummy treats the first night. They were an absolute hit!  I laughed as my dogs offered me all sorts of behaviors (downs, sit, watch me, turn, etc.) just so they could get a treat. They loved them.

Dynamo Dog Body and coatWe tried them again at the dog park the next day. They were a hit there as well. I was starting to feel like the Pied Piper after a while because I had so many dogs coming back to me for more! One dog actually came back to me today (several times) looking for more treats! Clearly, the dogs loved them.

We have since tried the Hip and Joint and the Skin and Coat. All have been popular with my dogs and the dogs at the dog park. I even used them in the dog’s chess game to see if they could find them quicker. They did.

We’ll be buying these treats again.

Update: I came home yesterday to torn up packages of Dynamo Dog Treats. The bags were already empty, but clearly the dogs love them. 🙂

IMG_9469

My Summer Book Pick – A Stolen Dog (A True Story)

June 17, 2013 9 comments

51NtI68FMELShortly after Cupcake returned home from her 12 day hiatus a friend suggested that maybe I should write a book about our experience. I took it as a very kind suggestion, but shrugged it off. I didn’t think I could ever encompass our experience in mere words. To some degree, I still don’t. It truly was one of the most emotionally charged, inspiring, scary, disturbing and frustrating experience of my life. You just can’t know what a dog owner goes through when they lose their dog unless you have been through it yourself.

That’s why I was surprised when Tricia O’Malley contacted me to offer me the chance to read and review her book The Stolen Dog. Why? Because it was a true story. HER true story about how her Boston Terrier, Briggs, was stolen and how she got him back.

How was she able to write about something that must have been so difficult to go through?

I sat down to read it on Sunday afternoon and didn’t put it down until I was finished. It reads like a suspense novel. When Briggs first goes missing, Tricia and her husband are at a loss of what to do. They run through the streets calling Brigg’s name – thinking maybe he just got out of their yard somehow. But when a neighbor informs them that a man took their dog right off their deck, they are forced to face the new reality – their dog was stolen and he could be anywhere AND he could be in serious danger.

Tricia and her husband comb their city, Milwaukee, looking for Briggs. At every turn in their story, you wonder if the next person is the dognapper or if they will be harmed as they navigate through some of the darkest and most dangerous neighborhoods of Milwaukee. It’s intense and scary. It also captures every emotion, every experience, every frustration and every bit of hope I felt when Cupcake was missing.

I laughed. I cried. I expressed outrage on her behalf. But mostly, I nodded my head as she shared stories about all of the kind people who entered her life to help her find Briggs. Complete strangers. People just motivated to help because they too, loved dogs. Sometimes from the most unexpected corners too.

I couldn’t wait to get to the end to find out if Briggs was found. I won’t give away the ending, but I will say that it was well worth waiting for.

If you are looking for a good summer read while on the beach this summer, I highly recommend Tricia’s book. Trust me. You won’t be able to put it down either. Plus, she shares a lot of great info along the way on how they got Briggs back. There’s also a little surprise that happens along the way. Let’s just say that if he had a long tail he would be wagging it wildly. 🙂

I’m going to be reading it again. Slowly. It is worthy of a second go-around.

I’ll leave you with Tricia’s own words from the last page of her book…

“What I do know is that from now on, I’ll pay more attention to people who ask for help. Why? Because I know what it’s like to feel helpless. Because ultimately, that is what saved Briggs, a community of people who decided to care about a small dog, stolen from a porch, on a sunny day in May.”

I can completely relate.

Twin City Dog: Where Rescue and Art Come Together

May 8, 2013 9 comments

Maybe this is the case everywhere, but I am often amazed at how wonderful the animal rescue community is in my great state of Minnesota. I have met some amazing people over the past few years, many of them people who have (and continue to) go above and beyond what is expected, just to save an animal in need. But, every once in a while I meet someone who just stands out in the rescue community.

That is exactly how I would describe Chuck Heubach, a man with a very big heart and a desire to help animals in need.

Chuck is the owner and creator  of TwinCityDog.com, an artistic online studio specializing in the creation of animal friendly children’s books emphasizing the humane treatment of dogs.

Franco

Franco

I came across Chuck’s work after a friend (in rescue) shared one of his images on her Facebook page. It was a picture of Franco, a dog that had recently appeared on our local news station after he was abused by some kids in Blaine, MN. It was beautiful work and I was intrigued. I immediately went to investigate who had done it and where I could possibly get some images done of my own dogs. Following the Facebook page, I found many other images and a webpage.  And that’s when I met Chuck, the owner of Twin City Dog.

After conversing over email, I found out that Chuck is not only active in several out-of-state Collie rescues, but he is also connected to people I know in Sheltie rescue. In addition, he volunteers his time (and his images) to help dogs who need a little extra help getting adopted. He offers his pictures for free to rescues and shelters with hard to place dogs. .

You will find his images to be unlike anything you have ever seen before. I have shared a few of my favorites below, but I encourage you to take a stroll through his gallery to get a real sense of his talent.

If you are interested in having Chuck do a print of your own pet, just send him an email at Twin City Dog. You can also upload a photo on his website here. There are two pricing options – $50 per image or $30 plus $10 to your favorite shelter in the name of Twin City Dog. Prints are not included, but you do receive a high quality pdf file that you can get printed.

I wrote this post because I love Chuck’s work and because I wanted to recognize him for all the great work he does for dogs.

If you have a moment, please leave a comment and tell him how much you love his work. Thanks!

Waiting-for-the-Mail

Waiting for the Mail

Couch Potato

Couch Potato

Daisy

Daisy

A Therapy Dog at Work

A Therapy Dog at Work

Here is one he did of Jasper. Isn’t it incredible?

921547_456410167777307_203001957_o

All images are the property of Twin City Dog and used in compliance with Twin City Dog sharing guidelines.

Book Review: As Bright as the Sun

March 20, 2013 13 comments

As Bright as the SunJust before Christmas, a friend recommended a book to me. Being a sucker for a good book, I immediately checked it out on Amazon. It didn’t take much for me to know that I needed to add it to my Christmas list. I am so glad I did.

The book is called “As Bright as the Sun” by Cynthia Schlichting, and is about a strong but vulnerable victim of the dog fighting world, Bella.

I can hardly explain some of the emotions I felt as Cynthia wove the tale of Bella’s life, as told from her perspective. Some of the details are true and some of them are based on Cynthia’s imaginings of what happened to Bella prior to coming to live with them. It works. I found myself smiling at times and crying at others as I followed Bella on her treacherous journey. If Cynthia wanted to place the reader in Bella’s shoes, then she did a good job.

The book starts out with Bella as a puppy and follows her as she is kidnapped from her loving family and forced into the dark, cruel and sick world of dog fighting. For years, Bella is used and abused by her captors. She is bred over and over again for her puppies – all forced into the dog fighting ring, and she is also forced to fight. It was during her last fight (more of an assassination than a fight) that Bella faces her worst moment. She is tossed into a ring with a fighting dog with her legs tied together, unable to defend herself. Her captors intended for her to die there. Instead, she survived. So they tossed her into a roadside ditch – pregnant, bleeding, skin and ears ripped up, she lay there in that ditch all but giving up on life until a good samaritan comes along and saves her. A guardian angel was looking over Bella that day and the days to come.

By all odds, Bella ends up at the now infamous Chesterfield County Animal Shelter, where employees shot and killed 22 of their dogs and buried them in a landfill. Thank goodness she was pulled by a rescue before she could suffer that fate. The rescue cares for Bella’s wounded body and soul and shares her story on Facebook, where it is passed on by many.

It is there that Cynthia and her husband, Brian, read Bella’s story and decide they are the ones to give her a new home. What follows is their, and Bella’s, journey to bring her home (to Minnesota) and to give her a chance at a new life. She meets her new doggie siblings, Foster and Jane, and learns what being a dog really is when you live in a home where people love you.

It’s a powerful story and one worth reading

If I had but one wish it would have been that Cynthia had shared more about Bella’s life after she was rescued. For those of us with dogs who have suffered a horrible beginning in life, we want to know how she, and her husband, Brian, helped Bella to assimilate into her new world. But, I think I know why Cynthia chose to focus more of her time and attention on Bella’s story. It’s because Bella’s story is not just a story about Bella, it’s a story about every fighting dog still living in that world. It’s the story of those who try to help these dogs and what really happens in that cruel sadistic world that some consider a sport. If you didn’t know much about dog fighting before, you will after reading Bella’s story. You can even follow the work Cynthia continues to do to bring attention to this issue on her Facebook page.

Reading Bella’s story opened my eyes even more to the horrible world Bella lived in for so many years. She is a symbol for those who have come before her, and all those who will, no doubt, come after her. If you get a chance, I would encourage you to read her story. It’s one worth reading.

The Top 12 Dog Blog Posts of 2012

December 30, 2012 29 comments

FD004740Here we are, looking at the last day of the year, December 31st, 2012. It’s hard to believe it is almost over isn’t it?

What will the new year bring? Only time will tell. I guess if you believe in numerology, then maybe there is some good news to be found in numerologist, Glynnis McCants’,  prediction for the new year. According to her, 2013 is a “6” year (2+0+1+3 = 6) which means a focus on family and business – “I see it as a good cycle for everybody who felt this year they couldn’t get it together…they have another chance.”  Pretty good news if you felt a little out of sorts (like me) in 2012. We shall have to see if it really comes true.

In the meantime, I thought I would use this last day of the year to share my annual list of favorite blog posts.

As with every year,  I had a hard time whittling my list down to just 12, but I think I did it.

Please note: These are blog posts I selected myself because they had an impact on me. I also thought they might be of interest to you. If you have others you think qualify, please do share them in the comment section below. I love finding new ones to read. I would love to know what blog post(s) touched you most this year.

So, without further ado, here are My Top 12 Blog Posts for 2012…

1.  Pondering Poppies In January – My friend Jenny Pavlovic is probably the most fearless person I know. She tackles the biggest problems as if they were merely a pebble in her path. She helps animals and humans, and tries to make a difference in all that she does. To be honest, I am a little in awe of her ability to just barrel ahead – fearless, dedicated, committed and kind. Earlier this year she wrote a blog post that pretty much summed up her philosophy on life. I admit I have a personal connection to this blog post, but it wasn’t why I chose it.

2.  A Perfect Storm – This blog post made the rounds in February after a news reporter was bitten in the face by a dog that had been rescued from a reservoir the day before. I am sure many of you recall the discussions that went on at that time – who was to blame, what people could learn from it, how to prevent a dog bite like this in the future, etc. What struck me most about Kari Bastyr’s words were both the measured way she discussed the issue and how she highlighted the need for us humans to better understand our dogs. In her own words, “Going forward, I would like everyone to take a step back and think about all the things your dog is trying to tell you. Do away with everything you ‘think’ you know about dogs, everything you have learned from your dogs growing up, and everything you try to do to ‘make’ your dogs listen. Watch and learn because your dog is trying to tell you things every single second.” Powerful stuff. I hope you will give it a read. It is well worth your time.

3.  Tread lightly – My friend Debbie Jacobs is probably one of the smartest people I know, and that doesn’t just apply to her knowledge of dogs. Her wisdom about fearful dogs, however is quite amazing (and helpful!). I thought this particular post was quite powerful. I could not agree with her more. As she says in the post, “When interacting with a fearful, shy or anxious dog, tread lightly, you may not be able to see the cracks in the ice.”

4. A Dog Park is No Place for a DuckKristine Tonks from Rescued Insanity is a thoughtful and thought-provoking type of blogger. I always know that she will leave me thinking (and in this case, laughing). This post had me not only laughing out loud, but doing so while riding on the train, during rush hour. I even made a point and going back to read it when I got home that evening. I knew then it just had to be on my 2012 list of favorite blog posts. Need a laugh? Read on!

5.  How I Failed as a Rescuer: Lessons from a Sanctuary – This post from Notes From a Dog Walker is pretty powerful stuff. The number of comments (629) should tell you enough about it’s impact. I think it’s a good example of what we as dog bloggers do best – share the raw emotional truth of our experiences with our pets, and the pets we care for, whether in rescue or a shelter. I guarantee it will leave you thinking.

6.  Chix-A-Lot Friday: Let’s be gentle, not judgmental – I have to admit, I love Aleksandra’s blog, Love and a Six-Foot Leash, for two reasons: 1) She is a fantastic photographer and I love looking at her pictures of her dogs and the dogs she has fostered, and 2) she is another blogger who is wise, thoughtful and thought-provoking. This post is one of her more thought-provoking posts and one that I think every dog trainer, dog blogger and dog “expert” should read. I know that I am still learning the lessons shared in this post.

7.  Exploding Dog Butts and Ill-Fitting Clothes – An Experiment in Looking on the Bright Side – If you haven’t been following Elizabeth’s dog blog, The Chronicles of Cardigan, you really should. She is about as funny as any standup comedian. I love her humor and I love her Corgiis. How could I not? They’re adorable and they provide fodder for Elizabeth’s humor. This one in particular had me in stitches. The title says it all. 🙂

8.  There’s A Sucker Born Every Minute and Things Dogs Brag About – I appreciate a lot of things about my friend Kevin Myers, among them are his knowledge of dogs and his love of coffee, but perhaps it is his sense of humor about us and our dogs that I love the most. These two posts are perfect examples of how well Kevin knows us and our dogs. See if you don’t agree. I guarantee you will at least laugh.

9.  Will in December – I highlighted Tom Ryan and his dog, Atticus, back in September, but what I didn’t know then was that he had since taken in another dog, one that very much-needed his loving care. To say that Will is a special needs dog would not be that far off. Neglected, unwanted, and in pain, Will was the older dog that everyone passes by. Thankfully, Tom was not everyone. This loving tribute to Will is so worth reading, although I warn you, you may need a tissue by the time you are through.

10.  An apology to Jehan and Farouk – Georgia Little Pea is normally a quite funny person. In fact, she is more than funny. She is talented. This past year she has been sharing all sorts of interesting stories about her life as she cleans house and considers moving to new locales. This particular post has stuck with me since she wrote it. If you have ever had a dog and felt the guilt of not being the dog owner you had once envisioned yourself being, then this post will resonate with you. I hope Georgia won’t mind me sharing it, but I thought it was worthy of sharing. Maybe read this one first and then read Aleksandra’s (#6).

11.  The Puppiness Project – Trust the Universe; Trust Yourself – Pamela often uses her dog, Honey, to help her, and her readers, better understand our complicated human emotions. It might seem a bit cliché to say that we should be more like our dogs, but I think Pamela has demonstrated that we can certainly learn a lot about ourselves through them. I think this particular post resonated with me because, like Pamela, I’m not much on trusting the universe either. That’s where Honey comes in. See what Pamela has to say on learning trust from her dog Honey.

12.  #20 ~ saved from a life of doglessness – This post just might be one of my favorites for the year. Maybe it’s the beauty of Eleanore MacDonald’s words or maybe it’s the fact that she has had the chance to watch as “the dark shroud of trauma began to wear away” from her dog Lovie (like I did with Daisy), but either way, I found her post powerful and touching enough to want to share it with all of you. There is something about Lovie’s story that hit me at my core. Maybe Eleanore’s talent with music has woven its way into her blog? She certainly has a beautiful voice, and after listening to her music, I already know that she is one amazing woman. I hope you will check out her blog post AND her music.

A Following Atticus follow up – What fills your soul?

September 11, 2012 18 comments

Reading Tom Ryan’s book Following Atticus was just supposed to be a book review. I would read it, review it, and be done. Instead, I have found myself thinking about it a lot these past two weeks.

Why? What was it about this book that resonated so with me?

The answer came to me slowly, but when it did I was left thinking about it and my life and what I was missing.

When I was a pet sitter there were two things I loved most – the dogs and cats I cared for AND being outside with the animals and nature. While most people were at work, I was outside walking a dog. When people were heading to bed, I was heading out into the still of the night to care for a pet. When people were driving to work and stuck in the mindlessly frustrating gridlock, I was enjoying the sun rise, or the rise of a flock of birds from the Minnesota river, or taking in the beauty of the newly fallen snow. When I was a pet sitter my soul was fulfilled by the beauty that surrounded me. I was in awe and wonder most of the time.

The woman who hated winters in Minnesota grew to love them. The sparkling snowflakes falling on my nose, the crunch of my boots on the packed snow and the sound of my own breath as I walked in the quiet mornings were all that I needed. They fulfilled me more than any desk job could.

I got to see and experience so many things as a pet sitter, but above all the ones I treasure most are the quiet moments with just me, a dog, and mother nature. That’s why Tom Ryan’s book resonated with me. He got it. For me, and for him, it is being in nature that fills our souls. It’s a sense of connectedness and completeness.

In Following Atticus, Ryan wrote: “For the first time that day, all the clouds shifted and completely lifted out of the way, revealing a vibrant blue sky that stretched over the mountains, which were now a brilliant white, glowing under the sun. It was so stunningly astonishing, so striking, I was left speechless. It was so beyond definition or description that my heart ached and tears welled up in my eyes. Man and dog, connected in adventure and solitude, stood together, gazing at the world few had ever seen before. Something changed when those clouds lifted. Not ‘out there,’ but inside us. Our lives would never be the same again.” (Following Atticus, Pp. 138-139)

This one moment stuck with me long after I had closed the book. It reawakened something in me that had been lost when I went back to the corporate world – a realization that I am happiest when I am in nature. I am most fulfilled when I take in all that surrounds me with all 5 of my senses – a sunset, a light breeze, a snowflake on my tongue, a cardinal singing, the essence of lilacs. Those are the things that fill my soul.

So what about you? What fills your soul? What rejuvenates you? What inspires you?

 

 

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