Wednesday, January 27, 2016

My Red Bandana- wordless Wednesday

Here is my red bandana. Mom says it's special because it identifies me as a Therapy Dog. I passed my Therapy Dog Test, submitted all my paperwork, and now I'm ready to work. Anyone need a hug?

Blogpaws Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Ike's Birthday Party!

Last Friday Ike turned nine. We had a little celebration at home with Ike, Kelly and Zeke. We didn't have hats and balloons, but I baked carob and peanut butter PetCakes. To my surprise, everyone used their birthday party manners and didn't squabble over the cake. But Ike's cake disappeared too fast!
Where's the cake, Mom?

Nom nom nom!

Uhhh Zeke...need some help?

Wanna share, Kelly?

Here's the video of all the action!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Happy Birthday Ike!

Today is a very special day!

It's not often that we are able to know the exact date of birth of our rescue dogs, but Ike happened to come to us with his veterinary records when we adopted him two years ago. His name was Buddy when we adopted him, but to us he is Ike. We couldn't be happier or more blessed to share our home and our lives with this sweet, laid back, loving boy. He's 9 years old today (although all last year I thought he was already 9! Even with records, I get mixed up!)  Happy Birthday Ike!

P.S. There is still time to enter to win a free Petzi pet cam that has video, sound, and allows you to launch treats to your pet from your phone!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Spoil Your Dog with Nutro Crunchy Mixed Berry Treats

As a #ChewyInfluencer, Kelly and Ike get the opportunity to sample a treat or toy each month, and we report back to you what we think. This month, Miss Sydney sent us an awesome bag of Nutro Crunchy Treats.

I'd been looking for just the right cookie to treat my dogs, without giving them too many calories. Because Kelly is strong-willed and refused to come in from the back yard when I called, I got into the habit of giving her a small treat every time she came inside. This has been going on for more than a decade, and of course Ike expects a treat too. When I open the back door, they run inside, sit in front of the treat jar, and look up at me patiently.

I need a small cookie that is big enough for Ike, but not so much that I'm going to make either dog fat. I also prefer crunchy treats for this job, since I like to keep them in a big jar on the counter, and soft treats would dry out.

Nutro Crunchy treats turn out to be just the ticket! They are healthy, no wheat, (which is great for Ike's allergies), 100% natural, and made with fruits and vegetables. We got mixed berry flavor. My dogs love the taste, and they are only 6 calories per treat. Although it may seem silly to treat them just for walking in the door, this way I don't feel guilty for piling on extra unhealthy calories.

*Full Disclosure: We were provided one 10 oz bag of Nutro crunchy treats in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed here are 100% my own.

We're excited to join the first Blog Hop, hosted by Golden Woofs and Oz the Terrier.  If you're interested in pet product reviews, check out the links here:

Monday, January 18, 2016

Petzi Treat Cam review and GIVEAWAY

Have you ever wanted to peek in on your dogs when you're not at home? See if they're barking, throwing a party, or napping comfortably? The good news is, you can! Petcams are great for checking in on your pet while on vacation or at work. My son uses one, and even had to rush out of the office once because he saw his new puppy eating its way through his living room couch. (He was able to get home before the whole couch was ruined!)

We are excited to have the opportunity to review the Petzi Treat Cam, AND I have one to give away to a lucky reader, too!

The Petzi Treat Cam allows you to ('see') video, ('speak') audio, (‘snap’) take pictures and (‘treat’) dispense treats to your pets remotely using any internet enabled device at anytime from anywhere. I was especially excited about the interactive features and couldn't wait to give it a try.
Petzi unit and plug, with tiny dog treat.

To be honest, I put off setting up the Petzi Treat Cam for quite some time, because I was worried it would be complicated and glitchy, like some tech products I've tried in the past. When I finally set to it, I was pleasantly surprised. Petzi is simple and quick, and you need no special technical skill to do it. Just set it up, download the app, plug it in and you're good to go.

Now let's look at the four features of Petzi:
1. SEE:
Video Quality: The camera has a GREAT wide angle lens. From where I set it up, it takes in the whole hall and part of the living room. This is where my dogs spend most of their time when no one is home (staring at the front door) so there's a good chance of seeing them whenever we check in. The picture is clear, the color bright. The night vision feature is a little grainy, but good enough to see your pet in the dark.

2. SPEAK: 
The microphone works quite well. It's loud and responsive. There is a delay- you hit the microphone button, speak, release the button, wait a second, and then it plays in your home. The dogs don't seem to recognize the voice as mine or respond to it very much though.

Ike is taking in the chime, but hasn't yet learned what to make of it.

3. SNAP:
Picture Capture Quality: The images are a bit fuzzy. I think stationary items come out quite well, but if your pets are moving they come out blurry. But I don't expect to use this camera for sharing  images as much as for viewing my pets when I'm away.

Here is an image capture from the camera. Wide view.

The treat launcher is a lot of fun. Once you press the treat button, the camera mechanism whirls and clicks, and before long a couple mini treats are launched out onto the floor to the surprise of unsuspecting canines (and felines!). A bell chimes when the machine turns on, and the dogs quickly learned that the noises meant a treat would soon be launched. They waited, ears cocked, until the Petzi spat out the goods. (Ike did better at this, as Kelly is 14 and her hearing is not what it used to be.) Sometimes one treat came out, sometimes three or four. You can use different miniature treats, and crunchy treats work best.

Kelly and Ike definitely enjoyed the treat launcher.


A Few Treat Considerations:
*The noise of the launcher is quite loud. If you have a skittish pet they may be frightened. Have them get used to the sound while you are home. Also, the treats come out with some force. If a pet gets too close, they will get hit, although I doubt it will really hurt them.

*Multiple pet families will have to judge if their pets can share or will squabble over food tossed on the ground. I was skeptical, because Kelly is bossy and we feed them in separate rooms. But I also know that Ike defers to her without fail, so that if there was an issue it wouldn't escalate. Well, the first few times we launched (while home to supervise) they did fine. But then the next launch, they were going for the same treat and Kelly went into her frenzy and barked her bossy "It's mine!" warning. As predicted, Ike just walked away. But I wouldn't want to set them up for a skirmish like that, especially when no one was home to monitor. When we are home, I would never throw food on the floor between them and have them go at it! One option is to only use the food launcher when we see just one dog in view. Or just use the camera and not the food launcher. Although that is the most fun of the Petzi.

Here is when Kelly decided the food was "MINE ALL MINE."

*Food Motivated Dogs- You will have to think carefully about where you place this. Kelly wasn't so curious, but Ike was VERY interested in this camera. Once he connects that there is food inside, it is likely that he will attempt to get at it. I wouldn't leave this camera anywhere he could reach or jump to.  Also, I could see him staring at it all day, awaiting the whirs that signify a treat launch!

Ike waiting for a launch.

Petzi Treat Cam features:
- EZ-PZ set up and intuitive interface
- Multiple mounting options (attach to wall, velcro to furniture, etc)
- A treat dispensing system that holds an ample amount, and allows you to use your choice of treats (providing they are small enough)

The food hopper full of treats.

- Treat level notification that alerts you when treats are running low so your never out
- HD camera delivers up to 720p video
- Low-light IR video capture
- Wide angle viewing with Pet motion detection
- extended range audio

We like the Petzi Treat Cam very much. It does just what you need it to do: provides a way to check in on your dog while your not home, with a broad view and decent video and audio quality. Plus, adds the unique and fun feature of launching treats to your pet from anywhere in the world!

-The Petzi is priced at $169.99 and is available on Amazon or at PetSmart stores.

And now, here it is! We're giving away one Petzi Treat Cam to a lucky winner. Enter here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Full Disclosure: I was given one Petzi Treat Cam to review and one to give away in exchange for my honest review. This in no way influenced my review, and opinions expressed here are 100% my own.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

When I See Sugar Smile...

This is a blog hop for a sweet dog, Sugar the Golden Retriever. She's having surgery this Friday to have a mass removed from her spleen. Oz the Terrier organized this blog hop to show support for Sugar and her mom and dad. The theme is “When I See Sugar Smile…” to tell her family how much Sugar’s smile means to each of us.

Sugar has a beautiful golden retriever smile, and WHEN I SEE SUGAR SMILE I think of how lucky she is to have a loving family who cares for her and her needs. It makes me happy that so many of Sugar's friends are dogs who have happy, loving homes with caring pet parents.  Every dog deserves love, and Sugar's smile radiates love.

I'm praying for a successful surgery and swift recovery. And here is a smile for you from IKE!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Wordless Wednesday- Snow or nooooooooo!

This year we haven't had much snow in New York. Here is a picture of Ike from last January. Does this picture make you wish for snow? Or does it make you want to run and scream, NOOOOOO!!
What about your dogs--do they enjoy playing in the snow, or is it just too cold on their paws?

Join the BlogPaws Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop

Monday, January 11, 2016

Quiet Times- with Uncle Ike and Zeke

Paws for Thought

Last night Zeke and Ike were playing rough, and I had to get out one of my favorite pictures of them together to remind myself of quieter times.

Yup, this is one of my favorite pictures. Young and old. Ike was so accepting of puppy Zeke, and Zeke loved his Uncle Ike. Even though Zeke lives with my son Andy in their own place, we babysat him during the day for nearly a year, and he still comes to play often. 

I love seeing the dogs interact when Zeke was a puppy. Ike was tolerant, and Zeke was rambunctious. Ike may have let him get away with more than he should, but when necessary Ike taught the whippersnapper the boundaries. But what was most interesting was the way Zeke liked to cuddle with Ike. What a blessing to see the bond between them.

It can be that way with family. We're all different. We have different personalities and temperaments. But there are those times, when it's quiet and easy, that we know we're truly grateful to be together. 

Later last night Ike and Zeke quieted down, and sure enough, they curled up near each other peacefully. Only now, Zeke is bigger than Ike. Yeah, that's another thing about families. At some point the younger brother may sprout up and grow taller than the older. Or the kids become teenagers and are bigger than Mom. (That definitely happened here!).  Things change. But that's okay. They always settle down after a while.

And then it all changes again.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Pet Blogger Challenge 2016

Last year 71 bloggers participated in the Pet Blogger Challenge. I learned so much reading the goals and setbacks of fellow pet bloggers. Now it's time for us all to gather our thoughts again. So here we are, the 6th annual Pet Blogger Challenge hosted by Take Paws!

2016 Pet Blogger Challenge:
1. How long have you been blogging? This is my 10 year anniversary! Or is that blogaversary?

2. What is the one thing that you accomplished during 2015, either on your blog or because of it, that made you most proud? I ran a Blog Book Tour with 12 other blogs sharing highlights about my new book, Faithfully Yours. I'm very proud that as a result, you all have helped make Faithfully Yours successful, and the book has gone into its second printing!

3. Which of your blog posts was your favorite this year and why? (Please include a link.)
My favorite was probably my tribute to a therapy dog, Gabriel, who passed away. I liked it because he made a big impact on my life and influenced Ike and I to get into therapy dog work this year. The post was my way of thanking him and paying respect.

4. A common theme from last year’s challenge was that many of us wanted to increase the size of our audiences. Whether or not we intend to monetize our blogs, it seems we’d all like to reach more people. It feels good to know that we’re connecting with others, sharing a laugh or supporting a cause, and it’s motivating to see those numbers grow! What is one thing you’ve done in the past year that has brought more traffic to your blog?
Contests and giveaways always bring a lot of traffic to my blog.
5. Which of your blog posts got the most traffic this year? Why do you think it was so popular? (Please include a link.)
My most popular post was We Did It! Ike's a Therapy Dog!  I think it was popular because readers enjoy a success story.
6. What is one blog that you read religiously – other than your own – and what makes you such a devoted reader? (Please include a link.)
I wish I had time to read more blogs regularly, there are so many wonderful and worthy posts. One blog that i always read is Something Wagging this Way Comes. Pamela is honest, funny, real and deep. Her adventures sailing with her husband and her dog Honey share both the positives and negatives about their brave decision.

7. What resources do you rely on to enhance your technical, writing, photography, social media, or other skills that improve your blog?
I learn from the best resource, communicating with other bloggers!

8. What is the best piece of advice you can offer other bloggers?
This isn't very original, but write about something you love, and don't be afraid to change when it's no longer working.

9. What is your vision for your blog in 2016? Do you have specific goals?
My content felt like it was getting stale, so I've decided to focus on more personal and uplifting, inspirational stories like I write for Guideposts magazine and in my books. Sort of like short, mini devotionals and observations, and lessons learned from my dogs.

10. You have the attention of the pet blogging community – is there one blogging challenge you’d like help with, or one aspect of your blog that you’d like input on?
How do you find time to do it all? Write interesting posts, visit other blogs, make relevant comments, evaluate your stats, engage on FB, twitter, Instagram and who knows what else? All in addition to a paying job, family, caring for pets, and well,! If you can't do it ALL, how do you prioritize?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Get Fit with Your Pet

Wordless Wednesday

Kelly reminded me that it's time to get fit! She might dare to put her paw on the scale, but do I?

Join BlogPaws Wordless Wednesday!

Monday, January 4, 2016

A Comfortable Fit

Pawsitive Thoughts-- Reflections and inspiration for your day.  

Last summer, stepping out of our everyday, hectic, gotta-get-it-done routine, we were treated to a visit at a charming bed and breakfast in Vermont. Although at times I felt I should still be at home working, or getting something accomplished, I tried to relax and take in the serene setting. "What a beautiful room," I said as we stepped into our suite. Every corner was detailed with antiques, and the bed was spread with navy and red Laura Ashley linens and plump feather pillows.

We'd brought Kelly and Ike to the pet-friendly hotel, and we'd brought along their own beds so they'd have someplace familiar and comfortable to sleep--Kelly's small round bed, and Ike's big rectangular bed. We set them out on the floor beside our own bed.

That night when we all settled in, we were surprised to see Kelly sprawl across Ike's big bed, and Ike curl up tight, spilling over Kelly's small bed. I looked at them, and started to move them to the proper locations. But then, they seemed quite comfortable and content in the wrong beds. Why bother them? They were fine.

Maybe they were on to something. I thought about plans for the day ahead--maybe we'd go explore a museum or tourist site, and forget about the work waiting at home. I guess it's good for all of us to step out our comfortable routine now and then. Sometimes the fit is better than we expect.