Monday, June 30, 2014

Here Comes the Fun Police

Kelly is the fun police.
She watches Ike and Zeke playing and decides when they've had too much fun and steps in to break things up. She usually finds a comfy spot away from all the action. Ike and Zeke are very rough in their play. If either Ike or Zeke yelp or bark, Kelly runs over and pushes the offender away.

Overall, she's accepting Zeke better than expected. She doesn't want to play with him, she makes that clear, but he sometimes tries. She usually is pretty tolerant but he doesn't always get the message. Then, a scuffle breaks out and sometimes I have to step in and call them apart. So far there haven't been any injuries. I'm hoping that continues. I give Kelly plenty of quiet time, in a separate room with a stuffed Kong, so she can relax and not feel stressed by all the testosterone.

Zeke wants to get along with everyone. I'm not sure if he'll win Kelly over or not. Last night he tried his best to make friends. Do you think it worked?

*Thanks to Carrie Noar of Tales and Tails  for coming up with the title for this post.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Welcome To K9Kamp Backyard Fun and Games

Okay Kampers. Line up. Big dogs on the right. Little dogs on the left. Any cats or bunnies? You can join K9Kamp too! This is a fitness event that is fun for everyone. So Let's Goooooooo!! (*and keep reading to learn how to enter our big giveaway, valued at more than $350!)

Welcome to Kamp!

Our theme this session is: Backyard Fun and Fitness Games

Your Kamp coaches are
Kelly and Ike from Peggy's Pet Place
Jack and Maggie from Slimdoggy
Rocco from To Dog With Love

How To Participate:
1. Leave a comment here and bark at us to tell us you're here at Kamp!
2. Commit to playing some backyard games with your dog.
3. Blog about your experience- Share a blog post once, or as often as you want, during Kamp. FitDog Friday is always a great time to post about how you're doing with K9Kamp.
4. Link up at the K9Kamp Around the Kampfire blog hop on JULY 25. (Kamp ends on July 18. This will give you one week to prepare your post and post about your experience.)

Play as much or as little as your schedule allows. Kamp runs for 3 weeks, today through July 18. Can you and your dog participate every day after work? Great! Only have time for once a week? That's great too! Just think of some games to play with your dog and join in. If you don't have a yard, a park or friend's yard or even sidewalk will do. Just as long as you get outside and have fun with your dog. Because when you're active together, you're both getting fit.

Here are some backyard games to get you started.

Grab a tennis ball

Play a game of fetch

Challenge someone to football

Gather the kids and play tag.

Tug o war

Get out your fitness gear

Find something to crawl under.

Do some laps.

Now for the prize package. This session we're offering a great canine water fountain, fitness gear including a backyard agility course, bone-shaped balancer, and a weighted vest, a cool bandana, snacks, and for you a handmade bone-shaped pendant.  Thanks to our K9Kamp sponsors for donating these prizes for giveaway. Enter here for your chance to win anytime now until the end of Kamp (July 16).

1. Drinkwell Pagoda fountain (donated by PetSafe)
2. Collarific dog bandana (donated by Collarific Dog Bandanas)
3. Kyjen dog agility obstacle course starter kit (donated by Petco)
4. K9FITbone balance gear (donated by DogTread)
5. 1 pkg 100% natural Omega dog treats (donated by SmartCookee)
6. 7 inch center bone (donated by Jones Chews)
7. handmade porcelain dog bone pendant (donated by For Love of a Dog)
8. K9FITvest weighted canine workout gear (donated by DogTread)

Okay ready? Roll Call! Bark and tell us you're here!!

FitDog Friday is co-hosted by Peggy's Pet Place, Slimdoggy, and To Dog with Love. Join our hop!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My Clothespin Bag Bird

We have a cloth clothespin bag hanging outside our back door. A little wren decided this would be the perfect place to build her nest. This is her second year building a nest there.

Clothespin bag with nesting material.

I like to think of this tiny bird, finding a place to call home in an ordinary household object. I like that she came to us and feels safe here. I'm surprised she feels safe with the back door opening and closing, and three dogs barreling in and out a bazillion times a day.  People coming in and out. But this is where she built her nest.

For the longest time, I wasn't sure if she'd laid any eggs or not, and if she did, if any hatched. But try as I may, I haven't been able to see any. I took this view, but only saw a nice snug hole in there.

But lately she's been busy going back and forth, with a worm or bug in her mouth. In and out of the clothespin bag. I hear tiny peeps. Babies! Here she is, skittering across the roof of the garage and then flying down to her nest.

Sometimes Ike hears tiny peeps and stops and stares at the clothespin bag. Kelly and Zeke don't seem to notice, but Ike knows she's there, and her babies.

Some day before too long, the baby birds will grow up, get stronger, and fledge the nest. And then the clothespin bag bird will leave.
I like to think she'll come back again next year.

Mama wren on the peak of the garage.

Now she's jumped down to the little table.

Here she is, perched atop the bag.

Can you see her feet and tail? She's in there, feeding the baby birds.

Monday, June 23, 2014

One Dog, Two Dog. Three Dog?

Should we get another dog? That has been a question I've grappled with many times over. Dogs are sweet, dogs are loving, dogs are cute, and oftentimes dogs are in need. The temptation to add to our pack is great. Here's what I've discovered so far--in my experience!

One Dog--Kelly (now 13)

1. gets all the love and attention
2. food and vet bills x1
3. no worries about getting along with others
4. fairly easy to bring along
5. sometimes seems lonely. Is she missing out on playing with others? Or is that just a guilty human emotion I'm pinning on my dog?
6. Days are easy. I know her routine. I know her likes and dislikes. I can come and go and know what she needs. Ahhhhhh.

Two Dogs--adding 8 year old IKE

1. lots of jealousy issues.When I pat Ike, Kelly comes running over for attention. Kelly doesn't like Ike playing with toys.
2. need for supervision- what will happen when I give Ike a toy? who will get to sleep in what bed?
3. need to separate during feeding--at first this was the biggest point of contention.
4. walking became a bit more difficult. It's easier when my husband can come along and walk one dog while I walk the other. This becomes a nice family bonding time.
5. food and vet bills x2.
6. Finally we've gotten to the point where the two of them like each other. I never thought it would happen. Kelly licks Ike's face. They exist together nicely. No fighting. Ike can even walk up to her food bowl while she's eating and she doesn't growl at all. She knows she can trust him. And Ike is dependable at deferring to her bossy butt every time. I can leave them home alone when I have to go out with no worries. Ahhhhh.
7. But...Kelly and Ike don't really play. Sometimes Ike initiates play and Kelly tries a little bit, but she's not used to this play thing and it bothers her. After a few seconds, she walks away and the play is over. Clearly Kelly (especially now that she's a senior) is not missing playtime. But now that I know that Ike wants to play, is he missing having a playmate??

Three Dogs--enter 8 week old puppy Zeke

granted, Zeke is my son's puppy and my son is a young adult with his own apartment. But I babysit Zeke 9-5 every day, and adding a third, albeit part time, dog to our pack has been  a challenge!
1. Three is an odd number. Kelly and Ike had things worked out, now everyone has to work out how they all interact together and in various groups.
2. I only have two hands. Three dogs. Walking with a puppy, a medium sized dog and a large dog, all of different ages and energy levels, is a challenge. Again, when my husband can join in, the challenge becomes a lovely family pack time.
3. Remember Kelly doesn't like to play? Well Zeke does! A lot. Attempts to engage Kelly in play have been less than successful.
4. And while we're on the topic of play, I do not like bitey face. At all. Ike is extremely gentle with Zeke, but still, watching them bitey bitey bitey is tough. It does not look like a fun game. Every once in awhile I separate them because I worry it will go too far. I'm not worried about Zeke. He is bold and tough. I worry that as Zeke grows bigger, he'll be too much for old Ike, who is gentle and laid back. For now I monitor the game and if it seems like either one is getting carried away or has had too much, I give a time out.
5. Fortunately, in my case, Zeke is my son's dog so I don't have food and vet bills x3. yay!
6. Kelly gets anxious at times, but I give her a quiet place with a nice Kong. Is she suffering? I don't think so. She's learning that she can be the queen, and sometimes you have to deal with visits from loud, rude, obnoxious relatives.
7. Ike loves having a playmate. He seems younger with Zeke around. But he's also picking up on Zeke's puppy bad habits--getting into things he's not supposed to. Chewing on things he's not supposed to. Digging in the yard.
8. I'm tired. I'm waking up early, I'm always on guard, always supervising. And I expect I will be for some time as Zeke grows and changes and his hormones kick in, etc. I'm not getting much work done, and I work full time from home! But is this the best thing for Zeke? Without a doubt. He has company while his dad's at work all day, he has friends to play with, and even a bossy girl Kelly to keep him in line!

Whenever I had just one dog, I worried that she'd want a friend. I think in many situations, two can be great pals. Especially if you have a big fenced yard where they can run together, and have room to be apart as well. If they're left home, it's probably nice to have another dog there to keep them company. I don't think there's a right or a wrong way. Each dog is different. But I'm thinking, when the time is right, I'd go back to just one dog.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ike's world revolves around Planet Dog

If there's anything Ike loves more than me (if that's even possible!) it's his Planet Dog balls. He got a Planet Dog snowball for Christmas, and now, presented us with the opportunity for Ike to review the Planet Dog tennis ball!


 This is no regular tennis ball. It's squishy and durable. It's mint flavored. It holds up to strong chewing. And Ike absolutely adores it. It's the perfect toy for a Fit Dog!

"Since incorporating in 1997, we have been known as the industry's leading socially responsible, values-based design house, bringing people and dogs together for fun and mutual support."- Planet Dog

BEST OF ALL this ball would be the perfect toy to use in our next K9Kamp, upcoming next Friday--because, the theme of our next K9Kamp is BACKYARD FUN AND GAMES!

We're so excited about this session of Kamp and want to invite you ALL to participate. All you have to do is to visit the hosts Peggy's Pet Place, Slimdoggy and To Dog with Love on Friday June 27. Or click this link to learn more about K9Kamp. We have a great prize package for you too, valued at more than #350! So check back next week, and become a K9Kamper too!

Full Disclosure: provided me with one Planet Dog tennis ball to review. This in no way affected my opinions. Opinions expressed here are 100% my own.

FitDog Friday is co-hosted by Peggy's Pet Place, Slimdoggy, and To Dog with Love. Join our hop!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My Writing Process Blog tour

I bet many of you have written about your pets, and thought you'd like to write a book starring that furry, lovable, sweet creature who's close to your heart. If so, you'll enjoy visiting the blogs in this new blog tour, #mywritingprocess, where you'll connect with authors, magazine writers, and others who have made their dreams of writing about their dogs (ok, and lots of other topics, too!) come true.

My books begin here, at my messy but beloved rolltop.

 I'm honored to be invited to join in this tour. I was asked by Barbara Techel, whose books about her beloved Frankie the Walk 'n Roll Dog have inspired many children. Her most recent book is a memoir, Through Frankie's Eyes. Please stop by Joyful Paws and visit her blog, and learn what she's up to now.

To participate in the hop, I'm supposed to answer the following three questions.

1. What am I working on?

2. Why do I write what I do?

3. How does my writing process work?

You might be surprised by some of my answers. AND I'll reveal the title of my new book for the first time!

1. What am I working on?
Okay, well this one won't surprise you that much. It's a book about dogs. And cats, and horses, and monkeys, and pot bellied pigs, and rabbits. Here's the big reveal. I haven't told anyone the title of my new book yet. Why? I don't know, I guess I just didn't want to give it away until it was closer. But now seemed like the right time, and anyone faithful enough to read through this post to learn more about my writing process deserves the inside scoop. The title of my fourth book is, Greetings at the Front Door: The amazing power of the human animal bond. I'm so excited about this book, it's filled with true stories about why we love animals, and how animals love us back. The book is being published by Paraclete Press, due to be released in fall 2015. I hope you look for it then!

2. Why do I write what I do?
This is the one that might surprise you. I bet you're thinking I'm going to say I write what I do because I love the topic so much. That's only partly true. I do love the topic of dogs, pets, and animals. There's nothing I love to write about more. But there's an incredibly wide range of books that can be written within that broad topic. If you've ever scanned the Amazon listings under "animals" you know what I mean. The book topics I've written about so far have come to me. Here's the picture-I've set out to write one thing: fiction. I love writing fiction. I love creating characters and settings as exciting and deep as my imagination can go. But every time I get geared up to start a new novel, some intriguing non-fiction opportunity comes my way, and the opportunity is too good to be ignored. I write what I do because, to the best of my knowledge, it seems to be what people want to read, and what a publisher wants to buy. But, I won't give up on writing fiction. Some day the right opportunity will appear!

3. How does my writing process work?
Geez, this might be a little too simple, but I wake up, I grab a banana and a Diet Coke (sorry, I know it's not a healthy breakfast) and I sit down and write. My house is small, and my office is in a corner of the dining room. I write on a laptop on my great, great uncle's old rolltop desk. I write and write and write until about noon, when my dogs insist that I stop tapping away at the keyboard and give them some attention. So they force me away from my desk and we go outside and walk, and play in the backyard. Then I come back inside and make lunch (a little healthier this time. I generally like a turkey sandwich and cucumber slices.). Then I write and write and write until about 5pm. The evening is for my family. Sometimes, however, I have been known to sneak in some writing time around midnight. Shhhh don't tell the family.

Part of my writing time is spent on marketing. So time consuming, this marketing! But to be an author, it's important to keep up with developing a platform, connecting with your social network, and going out on speaking engagements. This could take up 598 of your 24 hours in a day. I try to do about two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. There is no end to the amount of time you can spend, and the creativity you could  invest, in marketing. When it reflects in book sales, I want to reach out and hug those readers through the computer! And getting emails and responses from readers is also very humbling and makes me feel happy and connected. Thank you!

Although writing is done on my laptop, I still prize my old Underwood.

Now, the last part of the tour is to pass the torch along to 3 more writers. Here are the writers who will be blogging on the #mywritingprocess tour next week. Please stop by and visit them next week.

*Dorothy Wills-Raftery- writes about her Siberian Huskies. You might know her from her blog, Five Sibes. Her special focus is on canine epilepsy and canine health.

* Kristin Avery - blogs at Keeping it Real. Her first book is a tribute to the absolutely adorable and lovable yorkie, Mr. Pip.

J.P. Choquette, author of Green Mountain Thrillers. If you like on the edge of your seat fiction, be sure to check her out!

Thank you for stopping by the tour!

*Winners of the book Saved by Gracie, chosen at random by Rafflecopter: Edna Patterson, Kate Voltz, Josh Hoberman, Karen Lyons and Shelley P.  Congratulations! Send me your postal address and we'll get the books right out to you.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Heat is a Killer: Water is a Lifesaver

If you've got an active Fit Dog, you know how important it is to provide plenty of fresh clean water. Especially in the summer heat.

Here are some sobering facts from Field and Stream:

*80% of a dog is water.  In a 50 lb dog, 40 lbs is water.

* If a dog loses only 10% of his water, he can be at risk of dying.

* An average 50 lb dog needs 5 cups of water a day. An active sporting dog needs as much as 12 cups/day.

* Make sure your dog's water is clean. You can cause dehydration by not keeping your dog's water bowl clean and algae-free.

What can you do? In order to prevent dehydration, keep your dog's water bowls clean and full. When you go out, always bring fresh water and a travel bowl.

Recently, PetSafe provided me with a Drinkwell fountain to test. The idea of the fountain is to keep the water fresh, flowing, filtered and circulated. This will create safe, clean (and presumably delicious) water for your pets.

I got to choose any fountain on their site. There are many fountains to choose from-- an attractive red ceramic fountain, an outdoor fountain, and a zen-like multi tiered fountain. Since we have two dogs, including one big dog, and also a puppy that we're babysitting, we needed a BIG fountain. We chose the Drinkwell 360 Stainless Steel Fountain. This fountain holds 1 gallon of water. I could have chosen the Big Dog fountain, which holds more than 2 gallons of water, but I liked the stainless steel material best.

Ease of Assembly- The fountain had quite a few parts, but it went together well. The instructions were clear.

Noise: I was pleasantly surprised that the motor was virtually noiseless. The only sound is the gentle trickle of water, which I enjoy.

Size: This fountain is a good size. It's big enough for my two dogs to drink from. I wanted to get a picture of them drinking from it, but they were wary of it at first. I hope with time they will feel more comfortable drinking from a fountain.

Would you like to win a Drinkwell Fountain of your own? We're giving one away at our upcoming K9Kamp, starting June 27! Be sure to check back to enter our great Rafflecopter, valued at more than $300!

Full Disclosure: PetSafe provided me with one Drinkwell fountain for my review, and one for giveaway during K9Kamp. This in no way influenced my review. Opinions expressed here are 100% my own.

 FitDog Friday is co-hosted by Peggy's Pet Place, Slimdoggy, and To Dog with Love. Join our hop!


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

How to Bring Home a Puppy

What's yellow and furry and cute all over?

Welcome to my adventures babysitting a new puppy. It's been a long time since I've had a puppy in my house--I've been adopting senior dogs. They're more my speed! But my son, who live on his own, decided it was time to get a puppy. He researched crate training and housebreaking, located the nearest dog park, listened to long lectures about how he'd never sleep again and how his life would now be totally changed, and was good to go!

Here's son, holding 5 week old puppy Zeke on the day he chose his pup at the breeder.

Here's son holding 8 week old Zeke on the day he brought him home!

How much did he grow in 3 weeks! What do the next weeks have in store for him?!! How much more will Zeke grow?!

Here is Zeke's first day with his new dad-

Discussing the paperwork.


Getting ready for the car ride home.

A romp in the yard before going inside his new home.

Checking out the new digs.

Playing with a new toy.

Having dinner.

Resting after a long day.

Next time- how will Kelly and Ike get along with baby Zeke?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Brooks Books- Review: Saved by Gracie


Saved by Gracie
How a Rough-and-Tumble Rescue Dog Dragged me Back to Health, Happiness and God
by Jan Dunlap
(c) 2014 Authentic Publishers

I really wanted to review this book because it covers all of my favorite topics- dogs, rescue dogs, living with dogs, learning from dogs, dogs making us healthy, dogs making us happy, dogs helping us see God's goodness.

But a part of me worried--there are a lot of books out there about how someone discovers, "Not only did I rescue the dog...the dog rescued me." I've read them. Lots of them. And I suppose I'd be remiss if I didn't include my own book about how my rescue dog  inspired me to lose weight and get healthy, in that category too. So I worried, would I find anything new in this book?

Happily, yes! The good news--this is a subject that can't really be overdone. Because everyone, and every rescue dog, has a story.

Saved by Gracie is an light and breezy romp with a black lab who loves nothing more than a light and breezy romp. Or  a wild and crazy drag through the ravine. Whichever.

Jan doesn't really want a dog. She's afraid of dogs. In addition, she suffers from anxiety and panic attacks. That's when Gracie comes into her life. When her teenage daughter (who promised she'd take care of the dog) becomes too busy, it is up to Jan to take care of Gracie. Due to her anxieties, even taking a Gracie out on a walk is a frightening adventure...and an opportunity to learn that she could do something difficult and come through it stronger.

A big step forward is made when the owner takes Gracie to the dog park, and discovers that Gracie has jumped over the five-foot fence and run off. Still unsure that she's all that keen about having a dog in the house, the author momentrily considers that maybe NOT finding Gracie would be a fortuitous outcome. However, she searches for Gracie along the park's 27 acres, only to discover that at some point Gracie has jumped back over the fence in order to find her! "She must really love you to jump back into the park," someone comments. And Jan is amazed it's true.

Kelly and Ike say "Hello Gracie!"

I might add that not all readers will agree with all her pet-parenting methods--reading advice from Cesar Millan, sending her dog to boot camp, or using a shock collar for training--and I think the author understands that we might feel this way. She writes, "Go ahead and accuse me of turning a blind eye to a barbaric method of imposing human will on a helpless animal, but in this situation the end totally justified the means. The end being that Gracie will never have to see the inside of another shelter for as long as she lives, because I can now--thanks to her training--manage her behavior on a daily basis and guarantee her physical safety." In the end, this is not a dog training manual, but one woman's story. I don't use shock collars, but I have no problem reading a book about a woman who does and listen to her reasons for doing so.
Jan reads everything she can to learn how to take care of her new companion. As Jan navigates pet parenthood, she grapples with her own issues of trust, faith and fear, and slowly comes to realize that Gracie is a gift from God, sent to teach her, by example, that life is for living, and not for dreading.

And Jan realizes that not only could a dog love her, but she could come to love a dog. Even a big, messy, naughty, food-scavenging dog named Gracie. Especially a dog named Gracie.

We're giving away 5 copies of Saved by Gracie. Enter here to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Full Disclosure: I was provided with one copy of the book and 5 copies to give away in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed here are 100% my own. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Balance Bone and Weight Vests- Fun Dog Exercise Equipment

I used to think that walking was the only form of exercise I could do with our dogs. So we walked, and walked. But the walks became a bit routine. Boring even. How much better would it be to mix it up and do some activities that are really fun? I was so excited to find that DogTread has a great solution! Not only do they have treadmills designed especially for dogs to supplement your dog's outside walking regimen, but they also have fantastic Canine Gym Gear! They sent us a K9FITbone and two K9FITvests to try out.

 The K9FITbone is great for working on balance, which helps tone your dog's core muscles. Kelly and Ike have never worked with any equipment before. The K9FITbone is a bone-shaped inflatable balance tool for dogs. When I first saw the K9FITbone I thought, no way would they get on that. It did take a little getting used to, but they gamely tried it out. I could see how they worked their bodies to balance. Kelly was more comfortable with the K9FITbone than Ike. But I think Ike will get used to it as we use it more. I had to inflate the K9FITbone a bit more after I took the photos. It takes just a bit of practice to know how much to inflate it. I'm very happy to have this to use in our fitness routine.

Again, I thought that my dogs would want no part of putting on a heavy bulky vest and moving around. I predicted that Kelly would just lie down and Ike would try to pull it off. Not so! First, the vest slides on easily, the super stretchy sides pull over their heads and legs. Then you just zip it up and connect the velcro. Super Easy! Both dogs also enjoyed wearing the vest and walking and running. I kept it short for the first time. These are fantastic for dogs who need more burn in their workout.

 Like what you see? Be sure to check back during K9Kamp, because we're including a K9FITbone and K9FITvest in our super prize package this month. You won't want to miss your chance to win! K9Kamp begins June 27. EVERYONE is invited to join in the fun. We all had a blast in January, and can't wait to get all you Kampers running and shaking and panting along with us!

Full Disclosure: I was provided with one K9FITbone and two K9FITvests, with accessories, for my honest review. Opinions expressed here are 100% my own.

FitDog Friday is co-hosted by Peggy's Pet Place, Slimdoggy, and To Dog with Love. Join our hop!