My 100th Post

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As I sit here at the computer I cannot believe I am writing my 100th and last post for dogstwentyfourseven. This blog means so much to me and has been a labour of love. I decided that I would like to conclude my blog by briefly summing up my blogging adventure.

In December 2011 I attended a Christmas party. Great friends remained as the party wound down, and the conversation turned to dogs. I told my friends that I had so many dog-related stories to tell, and one of them suggested that I should start a blog. I vaguely knew about blogs and was not convinced. My friend told me that her daughter was a successful blogger and that I should chat with her. Being an extrovert I connected with Lori Rossi the next day and was delighted to find a wonderful mentor. My daughter Emily was instrumental in helping me set up my new blog on WordPress which was foreign territory for me. She has continued to be awesome with editing and tech help for which I will be forever grateful.

In April 2012 I began to share my posts on a Facebook page that I created for my blog; I was thrilled to see followers in the United States and other countries reading and commenting on my stories. One of my favourite phrases is that “dogs are great connectors.” They instantly draw people together, whether friends or strangers. I was so excited to see that my Facebook page, too, acted as a connector – allowing dog enthusiasts to connect worldwide. I never expected my blog to be read in twenty-eight countries in under two years. It has received 32,809 views and 457 people have commented on posts that have touched them.

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I have really enjoyed the creative writing process and would constantly get ideas running through my head for future posts. The fun part was seeing which topics were of interest to, or touched dog lover’s emotions after publishing them.

One post about Golden Retrievers received over five hundred views in under twenty-four hours; the majority of this energy was in the United States. With the city tracking feature on Word Press I watched as it spread from state to state, from one Golden lover to another.

The internet was a wealth of information when finding interesting dog people to write about. One of the best things I found was a blog about Clive and Murray.

I loved interviewing other dog lovers about their lives. A local friend of mine fostered a guide dog puppy and it was incredible speaking with her about her family’s experience. Fostering a guide dog puppy takes a special type of person.

I have written about very magical moments, too, for example about dogs and seniors and dog siblings reuniting.

The blog has seen my through the addition of a second dog to our family, which has been such a blessing. Ember is a senior dog who we adopted, and she has added double the love to our family. We can’t imagine being without her. The process of adopting Ember inspired me to write about the joys of adopting senior dogs, a cause that is now dear to my heart.

Having been a dog walker for many years I have sadly said goodbye to half a dozen canine pals as they were in their golden years or tragically succumbed to cancers/serious illnesses far too young. I have covered grief and losing a dog in a number of posts. However, being around dogs 24/7 gives me plenty of funny things to write about, such as canine love and dog names.Dog tricks, habits and quirks were great things to write about, as were children and dogs.

Rescue dogs became of interest to me while writing my blog; I covered some heartwarming stories of local dogs finding forever homes. It was also inspirational writing about dogs with special needs. It was so interesting writing about how they adapted and people’s reactions to them.

I have covered veterinary care in a variety of posts. Although we are all well aware of the importance of regular veterinary care, dog ownership often entails accidents and spontaneous vet bills. In these circumstances the emotional side of loving our dogs becomes even more evident.

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I have decided to continue with connecting with other dog lovers on Facebook and on Twitter. My blog will remain up for others to discover. I dream of rolling my most popular posts from this blog into a book one day and writing some children stories with dogs as the main characters. My father has Parkinson’s disease and dementia and I am carving out some time to be supportive to both of my parents who have lovingly given me so much.
As a final thought I want to encourage my readers to step outside their comfort zones; you might be just as pleasantly surprised as I have been by starting a blog etc. With dogs being great connectors you are off to a running start!

Thank you for your support and encouragement along the way, with much appreciation Becky White.

Posted in Adding a Second Dog to Your Home, Death of a dog, Dog and Owner Pet Peeves, Dog Blogs, Dog Names, Dog Siblings Reuniting, Dog Tricks, Dog walker Job Description, Dog with Special Needs, Dogs and Their Routines, Golden Retrievers, Guide Dogs, Rescue Dog, Senior Dogs, Shelter Dogs, Sick Dogs, The Vet, Your Dog Gene, Your Dog's Love Interest/Type | Tagged , , | 13 Comments

CAAT- Canadian Animal Assistance Team

My blog is winding down as I approach 100 posts. As I reflect on what I’ve written, I’ve realized that a theme of my blog has been how dogs are wonderful connectors. For example, when meeting on the street or at the dog park, dog owners can often instantly strike up a conversation and connect over their mutual love of dogs. I learned about the Canadian Animal Assistance Team – CAAT – through a fellow dog walker named Darcy. She has worked at my vets in the past and is an avid canine enthusiast like myself. Our chat took a unique turn one day when I mentioned that I was eager to collect dog collars and leashes used in great condition, or new for a charity. I have done this before for a group headed to Mexico and told Darcy that I was interested in finding somewhere in Canada to donate to this time around. She mentioned that she was going in to Nunavut September with CAAT. She has had experience as a vet tech at my vet plus has worked at the Toronto Humane Society. I asked if she could connect me with the Executive Director of CAAT to see if I could help out with another collar/leash drive. Chris Robinson – CAAT’s Executive Director – was happy with my suggestion, and with excitement I began to spread the word throughout my community. My first collection was short notice – I only had four days to gather what I could – but amazingly almost 200 items were donated by my friends, contacts, and fellow dog walkers. My goal for my second collection is to collect almost 500 collars. I asked Chris if he would tell me more about CAAT; I hoped to be able to educate myself and other dog lovers about CAAT and write a post about it for my blog. Below is his wonderful piece on CAAT.

“It is difficult to imagine having no access to veterinary care but there are countless communities in Canada (and internationally) where this is a reality. Those communities (along with ones with limited access) are where the Canadian Animal Assistance Team (CAAT) steps in to assist. CAAT is a registered Canadian charity that works with communities in need on animal welfare concerns, overpopulation issues and humane education. CAAT members consist of veterinarians, veterinary technicians and assistants as well as people from many other walks of life that just love animals!

Many remote and/or underserved communities deal with the common issue of dog overpopulation. Overwhelming numbers of unwanted puppies and dogs create welfare issues. Dogs that are not owned or are allowed to roam without regular care may become malnourished, unhealthy animals due to limited resources, lack of shelter, challenges from other animals, etc. Many remote communities, with no other options for control, resort to dog culling practices to reduce the unwanted population.

CAAT’s goal is to work with the community to provide the solution through a preventative, long term plan. Sterilization programs vs. culling programs result in a vastly different long-term outcome. For example, one unsterilized female dog can, on average, produce 16 puppies in a year and if even half of those 16 puppies survive and become reproductive adults, you have 8 dogs raising 8 puppies, 64 pups total that year, then those 64 each have 8 each, 512 pups, then those 512 have 8 each, 4,096 and so on annually! These numbers cannot be sustained and the pups and dogs that are not wanted, often suffer from starvation, freezing, or culling. If twenty unwanted dogs are culled from the population in a year and you repeat the culling for six years you will have culled 120 dogs. The remaining dogs (each year) are stronger, healthier, and have less competition therefore are more successful at reproducing and the cycle continues. If you spay 20 female dogs in one year, the number of puppies NOT produced by those dogs and their potential puppies is in the hundreds and the welfare of the remaining dogs is improved! Sterilization is much more effective than culling for a long-term effect on population control. CAAT’s goal is to make the option of sterilization a reality for our remote community partners.

CAAT veterinary teams work in Canadian communities as well as assisting with similar programs internationally. An example of our work in remote communities is in the village of Burns Lake, Northwest British Columbia. The team travelled to the remote communities in June 2013 (team members pay their own airfare) for the third annual CAAT Animal Health Care Clinic in the community. It was evident that the efforts over the first two years have started to pay off. The team was able to see 582 animals come through the clinic for vaccinations, deworming and health checks. Owners have begun to understand the importance of these basic health care components and are eager to continue them. 293 of these animals were also spayed and neutered. This is a new record for spay/neuter events in BC and a tremendous step toward controlling pet overpopulation.

The education opportunities of the event included lots of one-on-one discussions between the Team, volunteers and community members, as well as school and student visits. The local community members have been instrumental in making these clinics a success. The benefits have reached beyond healthy and happy animals and families. After the first two years of joint efforts, the Village of Burns Lake impoundments are about a third of what they were before the first event. One local shelter, Turtle Gardens Animal Rescue, reported that statistics show that surrenders from the Burns Lake area have declined to less than half of previous levels.

CAAT’s Animal Health Care Clinics are made a reality through the veterinary volunteer membership that provides the expertise and services in the communities and the support of members through assistance with fundraising, organization, etc. Also the general public donations and corporate sponsorship, without whose generosity, these clinics would not be possible.

To become a member go to our website (listed below) and go to the “Become a Member” section. As a member you will receive any updates on upcoming projects as well as our newsletter to keep up to date on new information and post project reports. If you are unable to participate in a travelling project, we still need you. Our members work on committees, fundraising, and raising awareness of CAAT; others simply become a member to show support for our work.”

For more information visit our website, email info@caat-canada@gmail.com or phone 1-888-500-3330.

I encourage all of my dogstwentyfourseven readers to volunteer for a charity/organization close to their hearts, as “many hands make great work.” Take a chance on doing a collection of items a charity needs. Ask others if they will participate. I will be asking at my vet’s office if they will collect some leashes/collars needed by CAAT. So many dog owners have duplicate items that are never used or their dog has grown out of. I will also be asking the local pet stores in my area to climb on board. My local community paper was interested in writing about the second drive, as they covered the first I did months ago. No matter how much time you can offer, the gesture gives back tenfold.

Have you ever helped out an animal charity?

Dogstwentyfourseven has a Facebook page. Interesting articles and links are posted every week. Please click on “Like” if you are enjoying my posts and page. I am on Twitter, too.

If you would like to receive my blog posts by email as soon as they are published, click on “Follow” on my main page. You will automatically receive them immediately after publication. Thank you for your support! Becky White

Posted in Adding a Second Dog to Your Home, Care of the dog, Dog Collar, Dog Walker Helping others, Mixed Breed Dogs, Rescue Dog, Sick Dogs, The Vet, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

R-U-My Litter

Recently, I saw a comment on my Facebook page from R-U-My Litter. I had never heard of R-U-My Litter before and instantly became curious. I decided to check them out and get more details. I found their website and realized that R-U-My Litter was located in my home town of Toronto. It is a networking service that offers dog owners the opportunity to match their dogs with their litter; it’s cofounded by Wendy Margolis and Maria Ongaro. I contacted them to see if I could interview them about their interesting concept. Below are their answers to my questions.

Q: Do you own dogs yourselves?

Maria: I currently own three dogs – Diamond, Snowflake, and Charlie.

Wendy: I am the proud owner of my very first dog, Bentley. He is a three-year-old Shorkie and has become an important member of our family. He is also my seventeen-year-old daughter’s therapy dog.

Q: Please tell me a bit about yourself.

Maria: I love animals! I have three dogs, three cats and a few reptiles. I have two great kids, eight and ten, and enjoy spending time with them. I work as a realtor in York region and enjoy having been invited to take part in R-U-My Litter as my first entrepreneurial project. It has taught me and continues to teach me many aspects of running a small business and it’s fun if you don’t take yourself too seriously.

Wendy: I am the proud Mother of three daughters – Kylee, Jennifer and Stephanie. I graduated from the SEB program from Seneca College last year. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to learn all about becoming an entrepreneur which led to the creation of R-U-My Litter.

A: Tell us about how the concept of R-U-My Litter was created.

Wendy: After years of my daughters begging me for a dog they finally convinced me to join them to see a litter of Shorkie puppies. Before I knew it we were making the difficult decision of choosing one puppy from a litter of four. As we were leaving we noticed his identical twin brother standing up in his cage crying because he knew that they were being separated forever. Months later we still couldn’t get the image out of our head and started to wonder what ever happened to his litter. We had no success finding out through the breeder so we turned to the internet to see if there was a website that offered the connection. After researching I realized that there was nothing yet created so I approached my good friend and fellow dog lover Maria and together we created R-U-My Litter.

Q: What are the advantages of knowing your dog’s litter mates?

There are several amazing advantages such as medical necessity, genetic predisposition, dog sitting exchanges, play dates, curiosity and sheer pleasure when socializing with the siblings.

Q: What have you learned with this unique idea?

We are the very first litter connector in the world and we are delighted to learn that many people welcome the opportunity and are eager to make connections. Sometimes you stumble upon a problem that turns out that you literally have the solution for. Through our personal research we connected to one of the leading veterinarians – Dr. Steven Suter from the University of North Carolina – who specializes in performing dog marrow transplants. The greatest opportunity that any dog with cancer in need of a BMT is being connected to their own genetic match. Dr. Suter was looking for a method to create a data base and R-U-My Litter was exactly what he was seeking. It is thrilling to know that you can actually become a part of helping a dog survive a life threatening illness. We have also learned that being unique offers the opportunity to educate people on what we are doing and knowing that we are a part of heartwarming reunions makes all the hard work worth it.

Q: What is involved when a person registers their dog with you?

It’s simple, free and takes less than a minute to complete. All you need is your dog breed, date of birth, breeder location, and your email. Then – bingo – it goes straight into our database. Once a match and in many cases matches is found you will be contacted. We pride ourselves on keeping contact information confidential and we do not share personal information other than the email address that a dog owner gives us in order to make the connection with their dog’s sibling(s).

Q: Please share some of your success stories.

We do not have an exact number as we are getting new submissions and connections each day. We encourage people to share their heartwarming stories and we anticipate we will be getting many pictures and videos in the near future. We look forward to posting pictures/videos on our website as well as our Facebook page and YouTube Channel.

Q: Where are the majority of dogs registered from geographically?

We have a strong data base from the United States and we are seeing a strong increase from Canada, Brazil and France.

Q: What else does R-U-My Litter offer?

We write blogs posts and are in the midst of creating a weekly newsletter. We also offer pet owners an opportunity to share their memories of their beloved pets, or to share a picture and information about a lost dog. We also work with rescue organizations and share pictures of dogs available for adoption. We also have a Twitter Account, Facebook Page and YouTube Channel.

Q: Do you have any goals in the future for your website?

In the very near future we will be launching our Marketplace where we will feature unique dog items that are handcrafted by local artisans. We will continue to strengthen our ties with dog rescue organizations in Canada and worldwide in the hope that we can help to make a difference; we believe that all dogs deserve to have a loving family.

Q: Do you have any advice for dog owners?

Register on R-U-My Litter and join our fans worldwide who strongly believe that making a connection to their beloved family dog’s litter mate(s) is an extraordinary opportunity for both yourself and your dog. Register “Fur Fun, Fur Love, Fur Health Reasons.” We encourage all dog owners to share our website with their friends and family and fellow dog enthusiasts. If dogs could talk we guarantee you that they would be begging you to register them and be a part of their favourite new website!

Q: How can someone contact R-U-My Litter?

We can be contacted through our website, Facebook page and by email at info@rumylitter.com.

Two weeks after adopting our Labrador Ember – at eight years of age – last year she recognized her sister at an off-leash park. I wrote about this magical event here. Her reaction is something that I will never forget.

Other dog owners have told me stories of their pooch “bumping into” a litter mate while out on a walk. For example, a few years ago I walked a fun-loving dog named Sunny on a regular basis. He had a distinctive look as he was a mix of three different breeds. A dog walker friend of mine mentioned to me one day that Sunny looked like a dog she cared for occasionally named Valentine. I told her to ask the owner where Valentine came from. I asked Sunny’s owners too. Both were litter mates and were bought at a pet store years ago before restrictions forbidding the sale of dogs in pet stores came into law here in Toronto. Sunny and Valentine were born around Valentine’s Day and they were happily reunited for a play date. I believe that their temperaments were similar and certainly their look.

All of this has me thinking. Has your dog met any of its litter? Will you be checking out R-U-My Litter?

Dogstwentyfourseven has a Facebook page. Interesting articles and links are posted every week. Please click on “Like” if you are enjoying my posts and page. I am on Twitter, too.

If you would like to receive my blog posts by email as soon as they are published, click on “Follow” on my main page. You will automatically receive them immediately after publication. Thank you for your support! Becky White

Posted in Dog Siblings Reuniting, People at the Off Leash Park, Pet Stores | Tagged , | 1 Comment

It’s a Dog’s Life

Recently I got to thinking about what an ideal day for Abby and Ember would consist of; a day when they could make the rules, and when they could have anything their heart desired.

First things first, you must know that Abby and Ember are extremely early risers. They wake us up – at a minimum –half an hour before our alarm goes off. Each and every day their enthusiasm for their breakfast does not wane. If it were up to them, I am sure that they would choose to eat before sunrise. In their fantasy I believe that instead of me carefully measuring their allotted food, the food bucket’s lid would be left off so that they could gorge themselves.

After their breakfast, we always let them out into our garden to do their business. Whereas Ember is always eager to come back inside, I imagine that if left up to her Abby would stay outside much longer than usual. She would have time to slowly explore every inch of the garden, and to bark at raccoons without being hushed. I also think that on their ideal day Abby and Ember would choose not to have their paws wiped upon coming back inside – they don’t mind wet or dirty paws, after all.

In their fantasy the dog treat jar would be opened many more times than it usually is, and only their most favourite dried liver treats would be stored inside. Additionally, Irene – our elderly neighbour and the dog’s “fairy dog mother” – would visit multiple times and bring with her the extra-large cheeseburger flavoured dog cookies that they adore. Or, better yet, there would be no fences and Abby and Ember could walk on over to Irene’s house whenever they liked, instead of waiting for her to make an appearance.

I know that in Abby’s fantasy our old mailman would return from his retirement; he loved dogs and would give Abby a cookie and have a chat with her over the fence for years.

Upon reflection I recognize that much of what I think would occur in Abby and Ember’s fantasies is food-related. However, keep in mind that they are Labradors. Both enjoy seeing food prepared and supervising any clean up in our kitchen. I bet that if it was up to them the dishwasher would be left open and constantly replenished with dirty dishes – delicious plates of food smears to them – available for taste testing.

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However, their dream day would involve more than just food. Ember would choose to have a ball thrown for her – but only her most favourite orange ball. The ball would be thrown for as long as she liked, instead of a family member deciding when to stop the activity. Ember would choose to go to the off-leash park many times, and to explore by the river. Abby, on the other hand, would be content in her old age to walk around our block a few times, but would be able to sniff any scents for as long as she liked. Additionally, the dog that lives in a house up our street would not be in her garden, jumping at Abby from behind her fence. Also, in Abby’s fantasy, all her favourite “lovies” would be scattered around the house for her to choose from; she could pick any she liked as a pillow to sleep on or to gently gum – a favourite pastime of hers for years.

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As dog owners it is our responsibility to keep our pets healthy, for example by ensuring they get enough nutrition and exercise, and that their vaccinations are up to date. It is also our responsibility to keep our pets safe, for example by making sure our backyard is fenced in or that our dogs are micro chipped and are wearing proper identification. It would not be practical for our dog’s wishes to come true on many occasions. But, although I’ve mentioned the importance of routine and consistency in the past, I also believe that once in a while every owner should think about what their dog would choose to do on their ideal day and do it. Take your pet for a longer walk or to visit someone that they love, or give them extra pats or treats. After all, for all the joy and love they bring to our lives, they deserve a fantasy moment every now and again.

What would your dog do given a day of freedom or free wishes?

Dogstwentyfourseven has a Facebook page. Interesting articles and links are posted every week. Please click on “Like” if you are enjoying my posts and page. I am on Twitter, too.

If you would like to receive my blog posts by email as soon as they are published, click on “Follow” on my main page. You will automatically receive them immediately after publication. Thank you for your support! Becky White

Posted in Dogs and Their Routines, Owners with Two of the Same Breed, Senior Dogs | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Laton Lore: Guide Dogs and Other Stories

I live one block away from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. When out dog-walking, I often see guide dogs with their owners going to and from this amazing facility. A few times in the past I spotted one particular man and his Labrador, and when the opportunity presented itself I decided to say hello. After I introduced myself, I learned that his name was Martin Courcelles and that his dog is named Laton. After talking for a while Martin explained that he often walked this route to get a coffee at the local Tim Horton’s and that he worked at the CNIB. Those who have been following my blog realize that I am curious by nature and am always after a person’s “story.” I asked if Martin would be interested in answering some questions for my blog; when he said he wouldn’t mind I was thrilled. The following is Martin’s awesome write-up based on my questions.

Martin Courcelles with Laton smaller size (2)

“I was raised in a small town in Manitoba called Ste. Anne. My claim to fame is having acquired a gene-based childhood cancer called Retinoblastoma. Nowadays, this type of cancer is potentially curable. Back then, not so much. I lost my first eye at 2 and the second one was removed when I was four-years-old. I still have memories of seeing. These are incorporated into my imagination. It helps me picture what is happening around me at all times. My mother especially liked the fact that I still pictured her as a young woman.

Regardless of my disability, as a blind child, my family enabled me to try all sorts of things that I may have otherwise not done in the big city. For example, I had my own mountain bike. I would either ride it around on my own, or follow my sighted peers in order to go further afield. I utilized an ability we all have called Echolocation. It’s essentially the same sort of things that bats use to locate themselves in the dark.

I also built wood projects with my father’s power tools, despite my mother’s misgivings. I still have all of my fingers. I even tried what some people might think of crazy things such as rock climbing and skydiving. One of the lessons I’ve learned throughout my life is never to lose faith in the capacities that I possess.

While navigating through the small town, I also used echo location, because I didn’t want to look (blind). After a series of tripping over lawn mowers, bikes and the like, I knew it was time to admit my disability and started using the white cane. It was adequate for quickly navigating the rudimentary sidewalks and trails.

My first encounter with a trained dog guide was when I had been living in Winnipeg for a few years. A friend kept telling me about the benefits of a guide dog; greater speeds, no more finding all of the street furniture and no more bumping your head on overhanging obstacles. She asked me to touch her legs. Being an amicable fellow I followed suit and found out the biggest reason to have a dog – no more bumped up shins! I could wear shorts again! So off we went for a long walk through one of Winnipeg’s many parks. The trail was circuitous with many turn-offs. Even with practice, I don’t think I would have been successful with my cane. The dog knew the route and without too much effort, got us through a 5 KM walk. That’s when I decided to go for the plunge. At 22, I went off to California for a 4 week training program and got my first of many guide dogs; a shepherd by the name of Halsey. I am presently on my fourth dog; a black lab by the name of Laton, pictured here on this blog.

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I moved to Toronto in 1998 after filling two of my moving criteria: a job and a girlfriend; I still have the job, thankfully. This is a very busy city and I applaud those who navigate it with a cane. I just couldn’t be bothered, but this is simply my preference. Laton is presently 6-years-old. I acquired him in January 2007. People ask me why not apply to a Canadian guide dog school, as there are a few here in Canada; the closest being in Oakville Ontario. It was simply convenience. The school in California had a dog ready for me way back in 1995 and I would have had to wait for the Canadian applications. The dog I received was amazing, so I figured I’d stay with them. Besides, being in sunny California in January is very tough to pass up!

Encountering your guide dog for the very first time is an amazing experience. Laton seemed timid to me. Boy, was I wrong. The trainer gave me the leash and a few minutes alone in order to get acquainted. The weeks before you get to school, you are put through a fairly rigorous series of interviews. The trainers want to figure out what your day to day life is. What sort of person you are and the like. This is in order to make the best match possible. I sometimes wonder what this reflects about me, as Laton is quite the jumper and loves to play. His guide work is impeccable. I guess I’m a good, fun loving guy who loves life and has good work ethics? We’ll go with that then.

Over the years, the training program and training schedule has changed in order to accommodate life and social pressures. For example, school training is now an intensive 2 weeks, with an optional at home 1 week training. The dog is always learning new things due to life changes and learning new routes. Guide dogs do not always know where you want to go. The handler needs to know where he/she is at all times as well. The dog’s job is to lead you through the environment in a safe fashion. Dogs also cannot detect color changes, and therefore they do not understand traffic lights. Nor can they read maps, although that would be really handy.

Despite the amount of training and preparation a dog guide might receive, partnerships may not always work. My second dog Jobe, a yellow lab, for example, worked okay at the school. The big city was too much for him however and I had to retire him after 2 years of work. He was placed with a family and was much happier.

Where does Laton go when I go to work? Well, he comes with me and lies under my desk. I need him for my Timmy’s runs. Speaking of running, he helps me with that too. Nothing over 5 KM however, that would be too hard on the little guy. Under the Canadian Human Rights Code, he is allowed wherever I go. There are some places, like the zoo, where I find alternatives for him. I wouldn’t want him to be picked off by a giraffe, or something worse.

Laton has been featured in a few videos which I have participated in while working at the CNIB. You can find them here.

Dog guides try their best in order to keep you safe, but there are even times when they cannot stop the inevitable. Read more about such a situation that happened to me recently on the CNIB blog http://tinyurl.com/cy3yjkn. And if you’re interest in more information on guide dog etiquette and laws around them, visit this website.”

In the past I wrote about a friend here in Leaside and her experience raising a puppy for the Lions Club Foundation of Canada Guide Dogs. Meeting Martin and Laton recently only confirmed to me once again what an incredible partnership these dogs bring, and how they can help their owners’ achieve wonderful independence in a busy city like Toronto. For more on Martin, check out his contributions to a blog at the CNIB. As you can see – he is both intelligent and witty!

Dogstwentyfourseven has a Facebook page. Interesting articles and links are posted every week. Please click on “Like” if you are enjoying my posts and page. I am on Twitter, too.

If you would like to receive my blog posts by email as soon as they are published, click on “Follow” on my main page. You will automatically receive them immediately after publication. Thank you for your support! Becky White

Posted in Guide Dogs, Service Dogs | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Big Dog or Little Dog

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I have been around dogs most of my life. My grandmother Ruth Allen was a huge dog person and passed on what I like to call the Dog Gene. Dogs of all sizes have brought me much joy over the years.

I think around the age of nine I discovered that I was more of a big dog person. My parents had a farm where my family would go on the weekends and during the summer. Our neighbours had a daughter my age who shared my love of dogs and horses. Maureen had two large Great Danes – huge, majestic beasts, really – and I loved to see them when visiting. One was all black and the other a tawny colour. We would take the dogs outside and run, shrieking as they ran after us; we were barely able to keep ahead of their long running gaits. I look back on these memories fondly. These days we are advised not to let our kids do this, but in the mid 1970’s things were different.

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Another farm up the road had a black Newfoundland named Heathcliffe. I would wander over to see this handsome boy, who could certainly win contests for drooling! He loved lazing in the sunshine and being patted. Heathcliffe was a special dog; he was so gentle with his owner’s barn cats that would have kittens – a true feat due to his massive frame!

My family had a Black Spaniel named Freddy for a few years, followed by a Black Labrador. Over my twenty-five year marriage my husband and I have owned four Labradors – a chocolate, a black, and two yellows. Looking back it seems we got comfortable with having a medium- to large-size dog around the house.

I have had the pleasure of walking all different sized dogs. The smallest I have walked are two Mini Yorkies named Mitzi and Zoey, while the largest has been a Landseer Newfoundland named Rudder. His tail would clear a table with one flick, hence his name (coupled with his family’s love for all things nautical). His owner – a single man in his 30s – claimed that Rudder was a chick magnet!

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Sunny is another small mixed-breed I walked for many years. He is quite a fire cracker and popular at the park. He could run like the wind and was the best referee barking at dogs wrestling and running with others to join in. If a dog veered-off he knew it and would fly back to herd them my way. He was extremely intelligent, too. I had to carry an extra set of car keys as in his excitement would lock all the doors in my van by pressing down on the locks!

One of the largest dogs I’ve walked was Socrates – a distinguished large black Goldie-poo who I walked for years. His eyes were the most expressive I have ever seen in a dog. He generated lots of attention by his big frame and the bounce in his step. He had a silly side, too, and could also be vocal which made him seem quite human at times.

I have lots of questions that would be interesting to research. Do people tend to get a dog that was the approximate size of the dog they grew up with? What factors besides the obvious determine the size dog that you prefer? For example, the size of your dwelling, the amount of exercise a dog needs, and your lifestyle.

I also wonder if we subconsciously make a statement with the size dog we hang out with. Smaller dogs certainly get instant approval from strangers on the street, especially those with children. The majority of the time a dog’s size can put people either at ease or unease. I’ve noticed that people always raise their voice an octave when talking to a small dog – similar to the voice they’d use when conversing with a baby or a small child. On the other hand, big dogs often have the “wow factor.” With bigger dogs passers-by ask questions galore e.g. “How much does your dog eat?”

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The fun part is that the world provides us with every shape and size of dog. What I enjoy is the delight any dog’s size can bring and the strong bond between the two and four-legged. The health benefits of owning any size dog have been proven; research has shown that owning a dog extends your life. For me, the smiles and laughter dogs bring and their connection to their human counterparts is pure magic, no matter the size.

What is your size preference and why? Is your dog’s size something you have considered or did your dog “choose” you?

Dogstwentyfourseven has a Facebook page. Interesting articles and links are posted every week. Please click on “Like” if you are enjoying my posts and page. I am on Twitter, too.

If you would like to receive my blog posts by email as soon as they are published, click on “Follow” on my main page. You will automatically receive them immediately after publication. Thank you for your support! Becky White

Posted in Children and Dogs, Owners with Two of the Same Breed, Your Dog Gene | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Motherhood and Dogs

Today’s post is a tribute to mothers of both the two- and four-legged in honour of Mother’s Day. My daughter Emily suggested that I write about the similarities of raising a dog and a child. After giving this topic some thought, I can honestly say that the parallels are remarkable and that I fully understand how some refer to their dogs and their “children.”

I’ll start from the beginning. Whether you have experienced parenthood or not, the arrival of a new dog is much like the arrival of a baby; in both circumstances, there is a lot of fanfare.

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I remember my husband and I getting our first dog together, a chocolate lab puppy we named Chip (he was the colour of chocolate chips)! Choosing his name was a matter of creativity and required the agreement of both spouses. For a pair of young newlyweds, getting a puppy was a wonderful thing to before having children. On the drive home I cradled Chip in my arms. I could not stop looking at him; he was a small creature who had already melted my heart. I have a huge collection of pictures of him which encompass many stages of his development. I took pictures of him sleeping, at play, eating, swimming etc. After we purchased a video camera – a big deal in the 80s – we took many videos of Chip, too. Looking back at the pictures is really fun for us – especially seeing how “crazy” in love we were for our dog. Documenting our journey with Chip seemed totally natural.

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I love that today social media has given people the option to spread their pride in their families, dogs included. I know dogs that even have their own Facebook pages! I’ve heard of dogs that “chat” on Twitter or proud owners that post YouTube videos of their precious canine for others to enjoy.

The similarities to raising dogs and children are boundless. Another similarity I’ve thought of is the “potty-training” stage. For all parents, “potty-training” is no easy task. A great deal of patience is required and every “child” learns at a different pace. Additionally, there are often “accidents” and a lot of clean-up is necessary.

Both dogs and children go through teething and the “terrible twos.” I can easily remember both our daughters being cranky when their teeth began to come in. I also remember the sharp nips from our puppies when they were teething; in both cases I hoped that this stage would pass quickly.

hannah and chip

Let’s face it – we as Mothers shop for our children and our dogs. Food is researched with care given to issues such as food allergies and other dietary concerns. Special meals are often prepared when necessitated, as are favourite treats when the spirit moves. Many are delighted to buy toys for their children and dogs knowing what they like. We often tell our friends what toy is our “child’s” favourite toy and pack it for trips or vacations.

Mothers enjoy showing off their children’s talents and take great pride in talking about them e.g. bragging about their child’s musical ability. In my mind this is no different than at the dog parks when owners talk about the tricks their dogs have mastered and their dog’s intelligence level.

Mothers drive their kids to the doctors for checkups and worry about the outcome. Accidents happen with children and dogs or surgeries are required. I wonder how many hours I have spent at doctor’s offices and at the vets over the years.

We rejoice at our child’s birthday, and many dog owners also celebrate their dog’s birthday. I was invited to Marlo’s second birthday. It was a fun party with the party girl loving the attention bestowed on her and the presents she was given; we loved the company of good friends, food, and drink.

We as Mothers also decide on when haircuts or grooming is due and manage medications when our kids or dogs get sick. We aim to instill manners in both the two- and four-legged. We set routines – and hopefully follow through – because consistency is a must for children and dogs alike. Both rely on our lead and intuition.

emily and abby

The best part of mothering is sharing our love 24/7 – hence part of my blog name. We celebrate the uniqueness of our children and dogs and treasure years of memories. The most important piece is the spot in our hearts that we hold for our loved ones. They teach us so much and life would never be the same without their presence, and for that I have been truly blessed. Happy Mother’s Day Ladies!

Dogstwentyfourseven has a Facebook page. Interesting articles and links are posted every week. Please click on “Like” if you are enjoying my posts and page. I am on Twitter, too.

If you would like to receive my blog posts by email as soon as they are published, click on “Follow” on my main page. You will automatically receive them immediately after publication. Thank you for your support! Becky White

Posted in Children and Dogs, Dog Names, Dog Sleeping, Dog Tricks, Dogs and Their Routines, The Vet | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Waking Up With Munchkin

Quincee

Yesterday at my local dog off-leash park I chatted with Frank Abrams .Over the last few years we have gotten to know each other; as I’ve mentioned before, dogs are wonderful connectors.The picture above is his dog Quincee, at the off leash park. Frank asked about my blog and what I’ve written about lately. Then, to my delight, he mentioned that he had a great story to share.

As I listened I became drawn into the story and realized that this was a wonderful tale to share. It is a heartwarming story of a dog making a difference in a senior’s life.

The following is Munchkin’s story told by Frank.

“Munchkin is a little 11-year-old white poodle. The story begins with my mother-in-law Oshie, her live-in caregiver Bing, and my wife Bonnie. Up at the retirement residence where Oshie and Bing live, Munchkin lived for many years with another resident. Bing helped out by walking Munchkin and taking her outside to do her business. It was the only time the dog left the apartment, except when Bing took Munchkin to the vet.

Bing and Munchkin

When the other resident was being packed up to leave the residence, Bing took Munchkin in for a few days so that she would be out of the way. Wow there was new excitement for Oshie and Bing! It was apparent for a while that Munchkin needed an “owner” who could look after her, but as things went, the offer to take care of Munchkin was declined, and everyone said their goodbyes. Bye Bye Munchkin!

As it happens, Bonnie has a strange hobby of checking out Petfinder. Usually it’s to find a live-in partner for our own dog Quincee. Why? I’m not quite sure, maybe so I will have two dogs to walk, and Quincee will have non-stop entertainment. Sounds good in theory, but I’ve never been sure that Quincee is the kind of dog that would like that. We’re always looking at pictures of dogs needing a new home; little dogs, big dogs, dogs that “nip” just a little, dogs with health issues and on and on. We’ve tried a few times to adopt another dog, but it never went through, and it seemed like it just wasn’t meant to be.

After the experience of Munchkin’s short stay with Oshie, Bonnie was back on Petfinder. And wouldn’t you know it — within a week of Munchkin leaving the residence… There she was. Up for adoption!

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Bonnie contacted Carol at Happy Tails Rescue and asked whether the dog was Munchkin? We love Munchkin! We want Munchkin! We all thought this would be a great thing for Oshie and Bing. Having a dog around like Munchkin brings fun and activities. Oshie doesn’t remember names, and is very quiet these days.

When Carol at Happy Tails Rescue heard the story behind Munchkin, Bing and Oshie, and saw some pictures of the happy group, it was only a matter of days before Munchkin walked back into the residence with a spring in her step, happy to be home again in a place that she knew. To hear Oshie say “Cmon Munchkin, let’s go” is truly remarkable since she doesn’t remember names.

Oshie and M

A special thank you to Carol and Sue from Happy Tails who did a great job doing what’s best for little Munchkin!

P.S. I’m still only walking one dog.”
Frank Abrams http://zenpeak.com/

I found Munchkin’s story magical. The relationship this tiny little dog had with many was quite special. Bing had a little place in this dog’s heart for her devotion getting it out for walks and giving it TLC. She obviously saw the potential this canine had for lifting Oshie’s spirits and others in the Retirement Home.

Bonnie was instrumental in her search for a second family dog; she actually “won the lottery” discovering Munchkin on the adoption site and made the connection. Her perseverance ultimately created the happy ending to this story. All were amazed when Oshie remembered the dog’s name despite forgetting the names of family members and other loved ones. They are hopeful Oshie may regain recognition with her time spent with Munchkin. Miracles come in all sizes and forms – miracle took canine form.

If you have enjoyed this story about a dog and a senior check out some other of my tales on this topic.

This one is about a senior encounter at a local park. It spread across the United States with great speed a month after I published it.

I also wrote about visiting my father in his long-term care facility with one of my dogs. We continue to visit on a regular basis.

Do you know of a dog that has made a profound difference in a person’s life? Please share in the comments section.

Dogstwentyfourseven has a Facebook page. Interesting articles and links are posted every week. Please click on “Like” if you are enjoying my posts and page. I am on Twitter, too.

If you would like to receive my blog posts by email as soon as they are published, click on “Follow” on my main page. You will automatically receive them immediately after publication. Thank you for your support! Becky White

Posted in Adding a Second Dog to Your Home, Dog Favorite Place | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pack of Paws – Doggie Daycare

I have always wondered what it would be like to own and run a dog daycare business in an environment other than in home-style boarding. How do people find great locations for doggie daycare? What are the things to take into consideration for a successful business? What is a typical day like?

I offer dog boarding in our home; my business is on the smaller-scale. If you live in Toronto, like I do, there are restrictions with dog numbers in your home unless you are a breeder. I love that I can be at home and enjoy the canines that visit, providing a “dogcation” for people’s pets while they are away.

I pre-screen dogs prior to a visit and require that clients fill out forms similar to those parents would fill out for a child heading off to summer camp. Lots of questions are asked and dates get booked. I take into consideration the age of the dogs and their individual needs when scheduling visits.

A few weeks ago I was delighted to discover a dog daycare facility in Toronto that I had never heard of. They are not located in my area, which explains why I hadn’t heard of them. I loved their name – Pack of Paws. I became immediately curious after reading about their business on Facebook and online.

The couple who run the business – Diana and Jeff – obviously love dogs and I approached them to see if I could interview them for my blog. Their professionalism and love of dogs are very evident. The following are my questions and Diana’s answers.

Q: Have you both been around dogs all of your lives?

A: Yes I have! Part of growing up in Canada means having a dog as a family member for a lot of people. This was no exception for me. I’ve had dogs on and off all throughout my childhood and when I was old enough (post-university life) to get a place of my own and started working, I got Dante, who is now the mascot/ training assistant and greeter at Pack of Paws. I think most Canadian communities can attest to having dogs around because we view them as members of our society and associate having a dog with having a family/ pack experience.

Q: What made you decide to open Pack Of Paws?

A: I was sick of slaving away at my job and I always knew deep down I would own my own business as I come from a family of entrepreneurs. When I moved to Parkdale (next door to Liberty Village) I got to know the area and saw all the dogs; I realized that there were no dog services other than dog walkers in the area. I wanted it to feel very boutique and personal. I really believed that Jeff and I had some valuable dog knowledge to share with other fellow dog owners.

Q: How did you find the location?

A: I only looked for about 2 weeks and saw the posting on MLS, called the agent and went to see it the next day. I made an offer the day after that. It was the perfect location as it was across from a green space. The space was run down so the landlord didn’t really care what we wanted to do with it either. There is also a fair amount of foot traffic which passes by the space, as it is really close to some of the bigger business buildings in Liberty Village.

Q: What was important to you regarding the design for the dogs?

A: Open concept was key! I wanted to keep it simple but still feel modern and approachable, not like those stuffy froo-froo places. I knew I had to have rubberized flooring as the dogs can really play hard and I knew that rough-play on concrete would be really hard on their joints day after day.

Q: What elements were important for the owners to experience?

A: We wanted to provide dogs and their owners a holistic service where dropping their pups off at the day care so that they wouldn’t bored during the day was just one part of their experience. We offer dogs and their owners proper training in their areas of concern as well as a place for all our dogs and owners to feel good coming to. This is why we believe in including dogs of all sizes, breeds and condition into our pack. We want to remove the stigma associated with certain breeds and sizes; dogs don’t judge us, so why should we judge them? It’s very important to us and to the owners of our pack members that they feel included and that they have a community for support, balance and love. Our philosophy on inclusion and acceptance is something that keeps Pack of Paws such a positive and strong community.

Q: There are many other dog day care facilities in Toronto. What makes you unique?

A: Location: We are located in the heart of liberty village where a unique mix of business and residential clients mingle. There are tons of parks and grass around the neighbourhood; the neighbourhood is extremely dog centric where dogs are welcome. Most businesses put out water bowls in the summer months, which shows you how accepted and welcomed dogs are in the area.

Exercise: Regular bathroom breaks? Sure! Of course! But how about rollerblade rides? Or swimming trips to the lake? We load them up and show them around the city. Bad weather? No worries, we even have an indoor dog treadmill for light jogging for our high energy dogs so that they can go home happy, satisfied and tired.
We try to set Pack of Paws aside from other dog day care facilities in Toronto by creating a sense of family life. When some of our owners go away, we’ll board their dogs in our home where they become “our” dogs; we’ll work on any issues of concern and of course eat, sleep and live together.

Jeff – my partner – is also a dog behaviourist as well as the main caretaker of the daycare. Our daycare dogs are not only being taking care of by dog lovers but people who truly understand dog behaviour and dog dynamics.

Q: Describe the routine on a typical day at Pack Of Paws.

A: We open at 7am because we want to accommodate clients who want to drop their dogs before they have to go to work. And we close at 6:30. We usually stay in the daycare between 7am and 10am to wait for our daily pack members to arrive. After that we usually go to the park in groups of 6-7 and Jeff will take our high energy breeds for a rollerblade around the grounds at the CNE – he usually take anywhere from 6 to 8 dogs at a time. From noon to 1:30 we have rest period and wait for our afternoon dogs to arrive and will then prepare to go for shorter pack walks in smaller groups. Also throughout the day the dogs get about 2-3 bathroom breaks. After the dogs usually settle down around 3pm, we do some daily clean up like vacuum or mop dust while the dogs sleep. Then we will start preparing for pick-ups which happens between 4-6:30pm. The dogs are never crated at our daycare and are always controlled and given structure and stimulation.

Q: How many dogs come on a regular basis during the business week?

A: We’re busy! On any given day, we have around 25-30 dogs. This is fantastic because we now have such an amazing diversity of dogs. It’s also been overwhelmingly heartwarming to know that we’re a place dogs and owners call “second home.”

Q: Do some of the dogs have special friendships with each other?

A: Oh yes! They sure do. Dogs are very social beings, and they’ll gravitate towards other dogs with similar energy as they do. It has nothing to do with size or breed. We have best friends and boyfriend/girlfriend relationships between so many dogs. Some of them may even get jealous when their best friend plays with another new exciting member! Dogs are so emotionally honest and some of their special friendships are just so heart-meltingly cute. They’re sure to put a smile on the grumpiest person’s face. All our regulars even know the names of their dog’s friends, and because of our open concept design the owner usually will see who their dog’s friends are – they love it!

Q: What are your dreams for your business?

A: We dream of expansion and offering more training services within the Greater Toronto Area. We also hope to open up a training/boarding facility outside of Toronto where Jeff can concentrate on providing an environment where he can rehab dogs with more challenging behavioural issues.

Q: Tell us about some of the challenges since first opening.

A: We were lucky. We picked a really good location and I honestly think Liberty Village had a craving for a dog daycare. I did a lot of research before opening up and with my marketing background business picked up very rapidly. We did struggle with inconsistent clients and it was hard to predict revenue but as we got busier we now have a rule that any new member has to commit to attending at least once a week. This also helped in an operational standpoint because owners don’t realize the challenges that can occur bringing a new dog into a setting like a daycare.

Q: What are some of the regulations doggie day care facilities must follow?

A: There really isn’t anything. As of now it is a pretty much unregulated industry. The only thing I would consider mandatory is having business liability insurance and also getting trained in pet first aid. Everything else we choose to do for the betterment of our dogs/environment. We use environmentally friendly product to clean, we use biodegradable poop bags and we obsessively clean the place all the time. We really strive to hear our clients come in and say “wow it never stinks in here!”

Q: Do you have your own dog?

A: Yes we have an 8-year-old German Shorthair Pointer who brings so much inspiration to our lives.

Q: How do you screen new dogs?

A: To be honest we usually can tell within 10 seconds of meeting a dog whether it is suitable for daycare. Their approach and response to us tell us a lot, and because we don’t always take “perfect” dogs we like to screen them for their potential to become more well-adjusted and socialized. The biggest factor is talking to owners and finding out what they want out of our daycare and their previous experience with dog ownership.

Q: What demographic are your clients?

A: This is also another aspect of my business that I love. The demographic for clients is so diverse and interesting and they’re all here for one common interest: the love of their dog. Being in Liberty Village, we get our fair share of clients in the creative field. We never get a dull response when we ask “so how was your day?” We have clients that are architects, business owners, lawyers, bankers, photographers, waiters, students and even an animation artist! We have learned that it not about how much money our clients have but how much they believe in fulfilling their dog’s life and in the value of our service that make them such loyal clients of POP.

Q: Please share any links to your business.
A: Website, Facebook, Twitter.

Dogstwentyfourseven has a Facebook page. Interesting articles and links are posted every week. Please click on “Like” if you are enjoying my posts and page. I am on Twitter, too.

If you would like to receive my blog posts by email as soon as they are published, click on “Follow” on my main page. You will automatically receive them immediately after publication. Thank you for your support! Becky White

Posted in Care of the dog, Dog Boarding in Home, Dogs and Their Routines | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Packing for a Dog’s Holiday

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Just recently I was packing for Abby and Ember’s – my two Labradors – nine day visit to their Grandma and Grandpa’s house. I mentioned to my daughter Emily, who’s in her early twenties, that I had clearly gone “overboard” with packing. She agreed with me. It was one of those moments were your child is brutally frank and it had me giggling.

I board dogs when owners go away and see all different levels of organization when clients drop off their dogs. I look forward to the “hand-off” as each and every family has their own style. Some dogs arrive with food in plastic shopping bags. Sometimes it has not been pre-measured and the food runs out part way through the board. Other families are the polar opposite and bring meals in individual packed baggies or Tupperware container – one per meal – so I can easily dump them into a bowl at mealtime. Some dogs bring their own embroidered canvas bag with their things; often, their names are stitched onto their bag. I wish I had one of those as a child going to a sleep over!

Anyways, recently I have been preparing our “twins” to head away to a wonderful time in the country. They could not be in better hands. Our dogs get up early because they are adjusted to my husband Ken’s work schedule. My in-laws are in the seventies and early risers so it is the perfect fit!

I found myself creating a list on a sticky note of items to not forget. Pack their favorite dog toys, their dog beds and store-bought treats. Then the sticky notes started to multiply. For example, one note told me to get Ember a dog-tag with their address. She has only been with us eleven months; we adopted her at the age of eight last May. Since then, she has never been away without us. I like to tell myself that that’s the only reason I’ve been a hyper-diligent packer; however, I might just be a crazy dog lady. Another note told me to wash Abby’s bed, pack her pills, buy gifts for the Grandparents as a thank-you, and to pack Dowton Abbey for Grandma (Season 1 and 2).

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I also looked at the notes I had written my mother-in-law outlining Abby’s recent surgery. I did not want to forget anything regarding their care.

Once things were organized I found that I had accumulated a pile of things to go “up North.” Again, the thought occurred to me that I was being crazy and that they couldn’t possibly need all this stuff.

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My brother-in-law Kevin pulled up to transport our “girls” on the three hour drive to Wiarton, Ontario. I found myself explaining things to him all over again so as not to forget anything for my nonverbal senior gals. Our ladies were happy to drive off with him in his car. They adore him and it shows. In the minutes after he left I had panicky moment where I wondered if I had forgotten anything. I breathed a sigh of relief once I realized I hadn’t – knock on wood – and started to prep for dinner.

The house seems so quiet without dogs in it. Emily returned from the gym and said it was so weird not being greeted by our dogs at the door as they always do. I noticed the lack of their presence when I was vacuuming – the dogs really hate the noise and often flee to our basement.

The lesson to take from all of this I think is how much our family loves our dogs. Our home is not the same without them. I realized that, after all, being a crazy dog lady is fine with me.

Dogstwentyfourseven has a Facebook page. Interesting articles and links are posted every week. Please click on “Like” if you are enjoying my posts and page. I am on Twitter, too.

If you would like to receive my blog posts by email as soon as they are published, click on “Follow” on my main page. You will automatically receive them immediately after publication. Thank you for your support! Becky White

Posted in Care of the dog, Dog Boarding in Home, Senior Dogs | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments