My Furry Valentine

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Do you have a Furry Valentine?

Does your Valentine have four legs, fur and cute little black nose?  For many of us, our dogs are our Valentines.  Who else loves us so unconditionally and is always there, no matter what?  While your dog needs to stay far away from the V-day chocolates, there are many other ways to show your furry Valentine you care.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Go for a special walk together and allow your dog to take his time, smelling deep and as often as he wants.  Smells are absolute delights to your dog, so don’t rush his joy.
  • Knit matching pink and red scarves.
  • Bake heart-shaped liver treats.  Pan fry some chicken or beef liver, allow it to cool then place in a food processor with a tablespoon plain yogurt and blend until smooth.  Fill a silicone heart tray up with the treats, cover and place in the freezer.  After a day, pop the heart shaped treats out and put them in a ziplock bag.  Take one out as a special treat a few times a week.  Your dog will love them!
  • Write a poem for your dog and read it to him by candlelight.

    Register your dog on one of the many lost pet registries.  All you need is your dog’s microchip number and you can tie your contact info to your pet.  If you’ve already done this, Valentine’s Day is a great time to make sure all of your contact info is up to date. In the scary case of your dog getting lost, you want to do everything you possibly can to get him back to you as quickly as possible.  Here are a few of the pet registries:

  • Find a Professional Animal Bodyworker in your area and schedule a 30-minute massage for your dog.  Their muscles get sore too!
  • If you are lucky enough to live in an area with a canine aquatic center, schedule a time for a swim.
  • Sign up for a refresher obedience class.  Taking a class together is a great way to renew the bond you share with your dog.
  • If your dog doesn’t go to doggie daycare on a regular basis, treat him to a few days!  He will love the attention and play time while you are at work or running errands. You might even find you want to incorporate it into your regular routine.

Celebrate your love shared!  Valentine’s Day isn’t just for humans.  Love comes in all shapes and sizes and nothing beats that happy dance and tail wags when the two of you are together.  Happy Valentine’s Day!






Finding a Doggie Daycare or Boarder You Can Trust

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Finding a great doggie daycare is an important part of being a dog parent.

For most of us pet parents, sooner or later we need the services of a doggie daycare or boarding facility.  Even for those of us who try to include our dogs in everything we do, situations come up where are in need of having someone we trust take care of our dog.  Whether it’s for a few hours, a few days or a few weeks, it’s important to know what to look for in a facility so your dog is safe and comfortable.



For a lot of people, the cost is the bottom line.  Be sure you understand what is included in the cost.  Some places charge extra for things like belly rubs or individual attention.  When you compare total services, you might be surprised at what some places consider extras and other places consider a staple of good service.



Around the Clock Supervision

Problems occur at every hour of the day and night, not just during business hours.  It’s important that someone be on site 24/7 in case of an emergency of any kind.  Many places have someone on site only during business hours.  Too much can go wrong after 6pm to have your dog left alone waiting for someone to show up at 7am.  Find a place that has someone on site at every hour and who is trained to handle emergencies of all types.



What kind of play will your dog engage in during the day?  Will someone interact with your dog if he isn’t so interested playing with the other dogs?  What if your dog is shy and just in need of some cuddle time.  How much time will your dog have during the day to exercise? What is the staff to dog ratio?


Air Quality

Does the kennel have a good air filtration system?  When you visit the kennel, does it smell doggy?  Is there a smell of cleaning chemicals?  What about a fragrance?  Chemical smells and perfumes can be harmful to your dog.  Look for a place that has a good filtration system.  You shouldn’t smell anything when you walk in.



What type of security and fencing is in place?  You want to see at least two gates or doors between the dogs and the street. Do they use cameras to monitor the dogs and that you can log into and watch your dog?

Quality Staff

What type of people work at the facility? What is the average employee tenure?  Do they seem happy and like they are treated well?  Are they trained in dog behavior? Do they know how to respond if something goes wrong?  Is the facility licensed and bonded?


Parking Lot Observation

You might want to consider pulling into the parking lot and watching how dogs respond during drop off and pick up.  Do they seem happy and excited to arrive?


Trial Run

Before leaving your dog for a week while you go on vacation, do a trial run.  Drop your dog off for a few hours while you do some errands and see how your dog responds.  If that goes well, try leaving him for a day.  It’s a good idea to get your dog used to the environment so it’s easier for him to adapt to being there for a longer time.


Finding a daycare/kennel that you trust is worth the extra effort.  Asking for referrals is always a good place to start.  Read online reviews and pay attention to how the management responds to criticism.  Visit a few different places in person and compare how they look, smell and feel.  Talk to the staff and watch how they interact with your dog.  It can take a little work to find a good boarder, but the peace of mind of knowing your dog is safe is very much worth it. Start early and establish a relationship so when you are truly in need, you have a go-to place that you and your dog are comfortable with.

Keeping your dog safe this Halloween

Keeping your dog safe at Halloween image
Halloween Safety Tips for Your Dog

Halloween is one of our favorite times of the year.  There are so many cute costumes to dress your dog up in, fun events to attend and scary yard decorations.  But Halloween can be downright frightful for your dog.  Here are some tips to keep your dog comfortable and safe this Halloween.

Candy is for the kids with two legs, never for those with four.

Most people know chocolate can be deadly for dogs, but other candy is also very dangerous. Be aware that half-eaten candy bars can end up on your lawn on Halloween night. Keep your eyes open and do a good look over in areas where something might have been dropped.  Also, be sure to keep the candy bowl out of your dog’s reach.

Door bell ringing and knocking can be stressful for your dog and pose a risk for your dog running out when you answer the door.

Consider sitting on your front porch or at the end of your driveway to hand out candy to lessen the chaos and eliminate the risk of your dog getting out of the door when you answer it. In any case, be sure your dog is wearing an ID tag, just in case an accident happens and he gets out of the door.

Dressing your dog up this Halloween

Be sure the costume does not restrict your dog’s movement or make it hard for him to breathe.  Not all dogs enjoy playing dress, but others love it.  Know what makes your dog happy.

Jack-O-Lanterns are a great festive decoration, but use caution.

If you are using a real candle, make sure your dog cannot tip the pumpkin over or get his nose burnt while sniffing.  Dry ice inside of jack-o-lanterns can also pose a danger to dogs.

Out and about with your dog on Halloween night

Use a collar that lights up or a put a reflective vest on your dog to make sure your dog can be seen. Never take your dog out without a leash.  Even dogs who are used to being off-leash and under voice command can get spooked on Halloween night and run off or into danger.  Dogs are best left and home on Halloween night, but for those who insist on taking their dogs out, please do not go out without a leash.

Participating in Halloween festivities with your dog

Remember your dog might not enjoy being dressed up and having all of the attention.  Respect what your dog enjoys and is comfortable with.  Never put your dog in a situation that is unfair to him and causes stress that could result in him nipping or biting someone.  Use common sense and keenly observe what your dog is comfortable with.  Keeping your dog and others safe means respecting boundaries.

Dog Travel Tips and What to Bring Along on Your Next Pet Friendly Vacation

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My dog and I love to travel together and are always looking for ways to make it easier and have more fun!

I’m a big fan on traveling with my dog, and know first hand that a few dog travel tips can help you make it a great experience.  In my opinion, it’s all in the planning and making sure you do your research ahead of time. You will have a much more successful and fun trip if you know in advance what activities you can participate in together, and what your dog will do if there are things you want to do, but that are not pet friendly.

Doggie daycare at your Travel Destination


An important dog travel tip to remember is that most hotels do not want your dog to be left in the room alone if you are not there. This is for your dogs safety as well as the cleaning staff, not to mention to help reduce the risk of any damage to the room while you are away.

Think about alternatives to leaving your dog alone if the day doesn’t include something he can do with you. First of all, staying in the car is not an option, even if the weather is cool. There are too many things that can go wrong and it’s simply not safe and should not be considered an option.

Another dog travel tip to consider is a day or afternoon at doggie daycare.  Research the area and see what is available that you are comfortable with.  Remember that many daycare facilities require a short test visit to make sure your dog plays well with others. Plan for this visit in your trip and make sure you’ve called ahead of time to learn their policies and see if they have room for your dog.

What to Take with You


You probably have your own checklist (or at least a mental checklist) of things to include in your own suitcase.  Have one for your dog too. Bringing the right items with you on your trip can help reduce stress.

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When traveling by air, an airline approved carrier is essential.
Dog Travel Tips List:  things to pack along


  • Sturdy carrier – A good carrier is helpful even when you are going on a road trip.
  • Carrier ID – Make sure that you have an ID tag on the carrier with your dog’s name and your phone number. This dog travel tip is very helpful in the case of an emergency.  You might also want to include your vet’s name and number on the ID tag and list any medications that your dog is currently on.  In the case of an auto accident, it is also helpful to have the name and number of someone who is not traveling with you, who could care for your dog in an emergency situation.  If the tag does not have enough room, clearly mark “in case of emergency, see back of card” and write the info on the backside.
  • Current vaccine records
  • Health certificate, if it is required at your destination (these must be issued within 10 days of departure).
  • Food/water dishes – Soft sided or pop-up dishes are great for travel.
  • Food – Be sure to pack enough for the whole trip. I always enough for take two days extra.  If you feed a raw diet, think about what you want to use as an alternative. Consider dehydrated or freeze-dried dog food.
  • Treats – these can be very helpful when you are trying to encourage good behavior in a new environment.
  • Medications/Vitamins– If your dog is currently taking any medication or supplements, be sure to bring them along.
  • Chew toy or bone – Something to keep your dog busy and distracted can be very helpful.
  • Harness or Collar with ID tag – Make sure it has your cell phone number on it. You can also create a temporary ID, in addition to the permanent one, by looping some masking tape around the collar with the hotel name and phone number on it.
  • Leash + 1.  It’s always a good idea to bring an extra leash.  You never know when you might need it.
  • Favorite toy or ball – Bring a few!  Consider bringing one that already has the squeaker pulled out.  Your hotel neighbors will appreciate it.
  • Favorite blanket –  Don’t wash it before you leave home. The familiar smell will help your dog feel more secure and comfortable.
  • Bachs Rescue Remedy or homemade lavender mist  – This dog travel tip helps calm your dog in the car, the plane or the hotel room. Fill an 8 ounce mister bottle with water. Add 20-30 drops of essential lavender oil. Shake well before misting.
  • Cooling jacket and or mat – Especially helpful if you are going to the beach or any hot location where your dog is going to be exposed to the elements. Remember that even with a cooling jacket/mat, never leave your dog in a hot car. Even in the shade with the window cracked open, a car can heat up to 160 degrees in just a few minutes, potentially causing your pet heat stroke, brain damage and even death.
  • Doggie Life jacket – If your trip involves boating, be sure to pack your dog’s own life jacket.
  • Travel seatbelt – A harness attached to your car’s seatbelt is essential for doggie safety. If you are traveling by air, make sure you take one to use in the rental car. If you are taking a road trip, consider a special seat for your dog that allows him to lookout. The Lookout Car Seat is great for small dogs and works well with a VestHarness.
  • Dog Toothbrush/toothpaste – Even on vacation, your dog’s teeth should be brushed daily.
  • Housebreaking/training pads – Helpful for hotel rooms that your dog is not familiar with. Just in case…
  • Flea/Tick comb
  • Flea/Tick herbal remedy
  • Grooming Brush
  • Poop bags – you can never pack too many.  This is an important dog travel tip – when you take your dog out to potty, the chance you’ll only need one bag is slim. Have three on you at all times. You’ll be happy you did.
  • Dog First aid kit
  • Day bag to carry essential items on an outing.
  • Music to calm your dog in the car.
  • Clear and up-to-date photo of your dog  – This is a very important dog travel tip.  If your dog gets lost, you will want to have quick access to a current photo to create flyers and show people. Hopefully you won’t need this, but it’s always best to be prepared.  You might even want to go the extra step and make up flyers in advance with your cell phone number on it.  You don’t want to waste time going to the copy store in an emergency situation.
  • List of a few doggie daycare facilities and vets where you are visiting. It’s helpful to have planned in advance should the occasion arise that you need it.
  • List of pet-friendly establishments at your destination. You don’t want  to want to wait until you get to your destination to search your phone app for places you might want to visit. Know ahead of time where you want to go that are pet friendly.

It’s great that you are planning a trip with your dog!  Have fun together and get out there and explore.  The memories you create are ones you will cherish forever.

Taking Great Photos of Your Dog


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Taking Great Photos of your Dog

There is nothing I love more than taking great photos of my dog.  This isn’t always as easy as the end result makes it look.  Dogs don’t have the longest attention spans, are often quick to give into distractions and very rarely hold still.  Even harder than getting a great shot of a dog, is taking a great shot of a person with a dog.  The person wants to look at the dog, is making a face or is in mid-sentence of telling the dog to “stay”.

Here are some key points to help you get the most beautiful photo of your dog.


  • Get down on the ground with the dog. You don’t want to be shooting down at the dog, but rather be down at his height.  Lie all the way down on the ground, don’t just stoop down.
  • Take really good, high value treats like lamb lung or beef liver. They are aromatic, break into small pieces easily and dogs love them. Make sure you give little tiny pieces so your dog doesn’t get sick from too many treats during a photo shoot.
  • Take a squeaky toy that you can use to get your dog’s attention. You might want to try several different sounds.  It’s nice to have a new sound that your dog isn’t used to just yet.  That way they are curious, but not necessarily expecting something like a ball toss.  A duck whistle is a good tool for getting a cute head tilt.
  • If a person is in the photo with the dog, ask them to not pay attention to the dog, but just focus on you. That way you can do your job of getting a great dog shot and not have to worry too much about the person wrecking it for you by trying to help.
  • The flip side of having the person not pay attention to the dog is having the person totally interacting with the dog. You can get great candid photos of dog and parent playing together, looking into each other’s eyes and being natural together.  Be sure to take both kinds of photos when you are doing a person/pet photo.
  • Pick a setting that is nice, but where you aren’t going to be worried about your dog running away from you. It’s very possible that your own backyard is the best place to photograph your dog.
  • Make sure the area is free of debris and clutter.
  • Have your dog groomed a day or two before the photos, but not clipped too short.
  • Collar free is always nice for a few images if you are working in the safety of your own yard.
  • If you are doing a person/pet photo, ask the person to wear solid colors that do not distract.
  • A slightly overcast day is always better than a cloud free one. Watch out for strong shadows.
  • Be patient. It might take several shots to get the perfect image.  In the photo world, we used to always say “film is cheap”.  Shoot lots of pictures and most importantly, have fun.

Car Safety for your Dog – Keeping your Dog Safe while you Drive

Car Safety for your Dog Image
This car seat inflates to help create a barrier between your dog and the seat in front of him. It also acts as a catcher mitt in a crash.

Keeping your dog safe while driving in the car is one of the most important things you do as a pet parent.  We’ve all see the cute image of  a dog enjoying the breeze as  his parent drives happily along.  The reality however, is that your dog needs to be restrained for his safety as well as yours. A dog who is going back and forth from the floor to the seat or the front to the back, is a big distraction to you while you are driving.  Even if your dog sits calmly with his head out the window, he could easily be distracted by something you are driving past and jump out or could have something harmful blow in his face.

The little dog that jumped out of a moving truck ran across the freeway


I’ll never forget the day that we were driving to Jackson Hole and saw a truck as it hurriedly stopped in its lane on I-15.  A man and son jumped out and ran across the highway chasing their small chihuahua that had fallen out the window while the truck was moving.

The dog was running as fast as he could, crossing over four lanes of traffic and then over the medium and into another four lanes of oncoming traffic.  He made it to the other side and kept running and running.  The man pulled his son, who wanted to continue to run after his dog, from the highway and they got back into their truck.  It was a ways still to the next exit where they could turn around and try to go after their dog on the other side.

We stopped, but there was nothing we could do other than try to keep the other cars behind us from hitting them.  I never stopped thinking about that little dog and wondering if his parents found him safe.

It was a scene that made a huge impact on me.  I don’t know exactly what happened, but my guess is that the dog was hanging his head out the window and either fell out or jumped out.  It’s amazing he survived the fall on a freeway where the speed limit was 70 MPH. It’s been a few years since I saw this happen and tears still fall from my eyes as I write about it. I can understand the terror and pain that family must have been going through.  I hope they were safely reunited.  It’s something I’ll never know.  It did strongly reinforce what I already knew, your dog needs to be restrained in the car while you are driving.

What car safety product is best for your dog?

There are a lot of different products on the market for car safety.  Over the years, the one product that we have consistently liked and used is a Padded Car VestHarness.  It’s easy to use and the seatbelt slides right through the back of the harness providing restraint.  We’ve also used a variety of car seats from the LookOut Booster Seat to the PupSaver inflatable car seat that acts like a pitchers glove with forward motion that might come from a crash.

We were involved in a crash a few years ago.  We were on our way to doggie day when it happened.  My dog was sitting in her Lookout Booster Seat.  She fell forward between the booster seat and the back seat and was suspended for a minute. I was glad she was restrained and did not hit the ground, but she was propelled forward.  Luckily, she was not hurt.  I still have the Booster Seat and its part of our rotation of products that we use at various time.  Like anything else, it’s not perfect, but it does have its place.  For years we swore by it, now it’s one of many things that we use from time to time depending on the situation.

Keeping them safe is showing them love

I love my little girl so much and always want her next to me.  It’s so tempting for me to have her in my lap when I’m a passenger or have her next to me in the passenger seat if I’m driving.  But the reality is, it’s not safe.  And quite honestly my dog feels more secure if she’s in the back and has less car anxiety.

I wish there were a perfect product.  We’ve tried everything out there and all I can say is that whatever you use, please use something.  The concept of the PupSaver is great.  It’s not perfect for my dog, but I know a lot of people love it and it is a good product. The best solution for us is the Padded Car VestHarness.  Keep trying to find the right thing for you and your dog.  If your small child put up a fuss about wearing a seat belt, would you let him go without?  My guess is of course not.  The same should go for your dog.  Keep them safe!

Cookies for your dog that you can eat too!


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One batch for the two of you!

Making cookies for you and your dog need not be two separate events. With this recipe, you can make something for the two of you with just a few simple modifications. This is a small batch recipe, making just enough for a few fresh cookies for both of you as a special treat. The cookies stay fresh for about 3 days. You can also double the recipe if desired.


1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup amaranth flour

1/8 tsp sea salt

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup olive oil

3 Tbsp pure maple syrup (be sure to not use maple flavored syrup that is full of high fructose corn syrup and artificial ingredients)

1 Tbsp plain sparkling water like Perrier or club soda (do not use flavored waters with artificial flavoring ingredients. You can also use plain water, but carbonation makes the cookies more fluffy)

1 tsp herbs de provence

1 egg

1/2 tsp milk

raspberry fruit preserves  (to be used only in the cookies for YOU, not the ones for your dog)

Mix the flour, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the olive oil, maple syrup and water. Add the liquid mixture to the flour and form a dough. The dough should be soft but not sticky. Let dough rest in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For you:

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/2 inch thick. With a small circular cookie cutter (or the top of a small juice glass), cut into 8-10 rounds and place on a cookie sheet. With your thumb press the center to make a dent. Fill with dab of fruit preserve.

For your dog:

Take the remaining dough and roll a little thinner, to about 1/4 inch thick. Cut into small flower shapes. Mix egg with milk. Brush the tops of the flowers with the egg mixture. Sprinkle with Herbs de Provence.

Bake on the same cookie tray for about 20-25 minutes. The thinner dog cookies will be crisp and your jam cookies will be more soft.

The small amount of pure maple syrup in these cookies is safe for your dog as an occasional special treat. That is also part of the reasoning for the small batch. Do be careful to not give your dog your fruit preserve cookies, especially if you are using preserves which may contain xylitol, which is very toxic to dogs. Use common sense and keep your cookies for you, but you can eat your dog’s cookies if he will let you share!

This is a fun and easy way for both of you to have a fresh-baked treat with minimal effort.

Homemade Chicken Jerky for your Dog

image of jerky treats
These tasty treats are easy to make and nutritious


These simple homemade chicken jerky treats for your dog are a snap to make and take worry away from buying jerky from the store.

2 Tbsp local wild honey
2 Tbsp unsulphured blackstrap molasses
4 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp dried rosemary
1 lb chicken (stir-fry cut)

Grind the rosemary by hand or in a food processor. Combine molasses, honey, rosemary and water in a bowl. Add the chicken and stir to cover all pieces. Cover and marinade in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours.

Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Line a roast pan with foil and place a wire rack on top. Twist and lay the marinated chicken on the rack. Brush any remaining marinade on top.

Bake for about 5 hours and let cool before serving.

These will stay fresh in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

For longer shelf life, pre-cook the marinated chicken strips on the stove top before placing in the oven to dehydrate, still baking at 225 degrees for 2-4 hours.


Wheatgrass for Dogs

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a tiny amount of wheatgrass goes a long way.

Wheatgrass is one of the best living sources of chlorophyll available.  It’s has over 100 elements that are needed by our bodies.  It’s loaded with amino acids, enzymes, protein, vitamins and minerals.  It is a wonderful detoxifier and rebuilds the blood stream. Chlorophyll washes away drug deposits in the body and neutralizes toxins.  It also helps in purifying the liver. On top of all that, it neutralizes odors and gives your dog fresh breath.

As soon as I get the wheatgrass juicer out, Tashi goes crazy for her favorite healthy treat of the day.  We grow our own wheatgrass and grind it daily with a HandyPantry macerating juicer.  It only takes a few minutes and is easy to clean up.  The benefits of wheatgrass are highest if you drink it within 20 minutes of juicing, but you can keep some in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days or freeze it in small amounts in baby ice cube trays.  I generally juice about 2 ounces of grass a day for myself and give Tashi about 1/4 tsp which she enjoys straight.  If your dog is not so keen on wheatgrass, you can also add it to food or water.

Powdered wheat or barley grass is a good option as well if you are short on time.  Just make sure you are buying a product that does not have other stuff added to it that may be harmful to your dog.

The key to using wheatgrass for your dog is to use it in small amounts.  Too much wheatgrass too soon can be too detoxifying and cause vomiting, diarrhea and dizziness.  Tashi weighs 14 lbs so she gets 1/4 a tsp, but we started with a tiny drop and built up from there over time.  A 50 lb dog can build up to 1 tsp a day.

Happy juicing!

Healthy Homemade Dog Biscuits


Choosing the ingredients of what your dog eats is essential to good health.  Tashi loves fresh baked cookies in a variety of assortments!  These biscuits are very simple to make and are a bit hit at our house.

2 cups whole wheat flour (we use Bob’s Red Mill)
1/4 cup wheat bran
1/8 cup rolled barley oats
2 Tablespoons virgin coconut oil (melted)
1 cup water
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 Tablespoon pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine flour, wheat bran, barley oats, parsley and pumpkin seeds.  Add water and oil to dry ingredients.  Knead for 2-3 minutes.  Roll dough to 1/4″ thick and cut with a bone shaped cookie cutter.  Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 25-30 minutes.