Thursday, December 14, 2017

Paws to Remember- a tearful and joyful celebration

I was leafing through the local Advertiser newspaper when I saw this notice. The event was one I knew well, but there was something else:

This is an annual event held at Nassau Vet--a night to remember the pets lost that year. I'd been to this event before, sadly, a few too many times. But what caught my eye was the dog in the picture. Our Brooks. Our first senior rescue, the one who started us on the journey of adopting senior goldens, and changed our life. The angel ornament pictured was our ornament we'd hung on the tree five years ago to remember him. Seeing his angel wings again was like a gift from heaven.

And now it was time to make another ornament--two more, in fact.

We'd lost our senior golden Ike this past March, and then our 16 year old spaniel Kelly 5 days later. We think of them every day, but most people know, the holidays are always especially emotional. Having a special night to remember and honor them at this time of year is comforting. We decorated our new ornaments and hung them on the tree in the veterinarian's lobby.

Ornaments we made for Ike and Kelly this year.
As we walked in the door, we were each given a bell on a ribbon. The room was dark with candle light and a beautiful Christmas tree adorned with angel wing ornaments. Before long, the room filled to overflowing. So many others missing a pet, just like us.

 It began with a reading from Dr. Lisa Dietrich, called If he wakes in Your arms about when it's time for a much-loved pet to go to heaven. Then other veterinarians read poems and short essays about loving and losing a pet. I was already having trouble keeping back the tears.

Next, the names of the pets lost this year were announced, and when each pet's name was read the families rang their bell. At each soft jingle I felt the depth of someone else's loss.

Finally, pet parents and family members stood up and shared stories and fond memories of their pets. Mike shared about Kelly's dementia, and how Ike became like a therapy dog to her in her final months. Some people told funny stories, most shared about the end, and each and every story showed how much we are all connected to the cats and dogs in our lives.

I think of Kelly and Ike all the time, but the evening helped me share and connect with other pet parents. It felt comforting to observe such understanding from the veterinarians at Nassau Vet who knew and cared for our pets so well over the years, and in many cases helped us gently say goodbye.

As we left, we drove past beautiful luminaria lining the long winding driveway.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Santa Snacks for Dogs #ChewyInfluencer

Do you get a stocking for your dog?
We do!
What do you think of this one?

I couldn't resist this one for Ernest and Pete!

Perfect for any good dog!

As a Chewy Influencer, we were excited to receive a sample of Blue Buffalo Santa Snacks. I thought they make the perfect stocking stuffer for Ernest and Pete.

Good doggy treats!

These Kringle cookies are baked with oatmeal and cinnamon, barley, carrots, pumpkin and flaxseed. There's no corn, wheat or soy. No chicken or poultry either--perfect for pets prone to food allergies.  Ernest and Petey give them a five jingle bell rating!

Okay, can I eat them NOW?!

Has your dog been a Good Dog? Stuff his stocking with Blue Buffalo Santa Snacks!

Full Disclosure: We were provided with one 8 oz. bag of Blue Buffalo Santa Snacks for our honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion. Opinions expressed here are 100% my own.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Wordless Wednesday. Love from #ChewyInfluencer

I'm so grateful to be a #ChewyInfluencer. Not only because I get to sample and review great products, from, but also because they continually make their bloggers feel appreciated. Just look at these amazing portraits of Ernest and Petey they sent us? We love you Chewy! Thank you!

Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop!

Monday, November 27, 2017

All Creation Waits book giveaway

Are you looking for a book to help you connect more to nature AND get more out of the holiday season? Then check out All Creation Waits by Gayle Boss ...I'm giving away two copies of All Creation Waits here today, so you too can enjoy this wonderful book.

All Creation Waits is a unique and thought-provoking book about the advent season which depicts how wild animals of North America adapt when cold and darkness descend. Each day for 24 days you'll discover how the Painted Turtle, Whitetail Deer, Chipmunk, Raccoon and many other woodland animals endure the long, dark days of winter. At the end, the author helps us to see how these winter preparations can help us prepare our hearts for the spiritual gift of Christmas.

Today I'm pleased to have the author, Gayle Boss, join us here at The Writer's Dog:

 TWD: Your book is about animals and the Advent season. What does Advent mean to wild animals?

GB: Now is a time in the Northern Hemisphere when it is getting very dark and very cold. Animals' food sources are becoming depleted and they need more energy. They don't deny the dark and the cold--they've adapted to get through the season. There are 24 different animals in the book, and 24 different ways they adapt.

TWD: How can this help us prepare for Christmas?

GB: All the pressure to shop, decorate, turn up the music, and keep busy can make us physically sick. The animals are a metaphor--they can provide guides to handle the season in a healthy way by learning how the animals adapt.

TWD: What are some specific ways we can adapt?

GB: We can resist what the marketplace wants us to do (shop, get busy, do, do do). In response we can be more quiet. We're not always connected to nature, but nature still affects us. There are things we can do in our technology-ridden life to reconnect. For example, I go shopping and get everything done before Advent so that I can focus on the season. Instead of stringing multiple Christmas lights, we have just four advent candles, and we gather around them every night.  We spend more time being quiet and reflecting.

TWD: What do you want readers to take away from your book?

GB: Enjoy and embrace quiet. Match your own rhythms to the rhythms of all creation.

TWD: That is wonderful. Thank you for sharing about your book. Now I'd like to know a little bit about your pets. You have a dog. How do you celebrate the holiday season with your dog?

GB: We have a 15 year old Corgi, Jessie. She has a big, thick coat and she loves the snow. I don't like the cold, but because she loves it, I go out. I bundle up and three times a day we go out for a 30-45 minute walk.
TWD: One last thing. How can we help our wild animal friends in the winter?

GB:  I feed the birds and the squirrels in the winter, but just enough to supplement. I want to make it easier for them but I don't want them to become dependent on me, so I put out a small amount each day. I'll put out more when it's very cold out. In especially hard weather I put out corn or apples in the woods for the deer. I also make a brush pile in the back and possums, rabbits and other animals take shelter there.

 TWD: Thank you, Gayle, for this enlightening interview, and for sharing your wonderful book with us. Two lucky winners will also get a copy of your book to enjoy!

I absolutely love this book, and highly recommend you add it to your holidays. Prepare for Christmas this year with with muskrats, chickadees, black bears, raccoons and other wild animals of North America. Lyrical and unique, this is an adult book that you can also share with children.

You can also order All Creation Waits in e-subscription. What a wonderful way to enjoy the holiday season. When you subscribe, you'll get one animal reflection in your inbox each day of Advent, starting December 1st. 

Every year I say I'm going to put more meaning into Christmas, and every year I end up caught up in the hustle and bustle of shopping and decorating and my endless To-Do list...and all that "meaning" I'm searching for is lost. This year I read All Creation Waits helped me discover exactly what I've been missing.

Enter here to win. I'm giving away two copies of All Creation Waits!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
"Each of the beautiful creatures in this little book is a unique word of God, its own metaphor. . . they announce the Good News of Advent: that through every dark door the creating Love of the universe waits." — Richard Rohr, OFM

 All Creation Waits   ISBN 978-1-61261-785-5   $18.99

Full Disclosure: I was provided with one copy of All Creation Waits to review, and two to give away. This in no way influenced my opinions. Opinions expressed here are 100% my own.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Monday, November 6, 2017

Stray Magic review and book giveaway!

If only finding true love was as easy as falling for a stray dog. That's what Cara Snow thought. She worked in a specialty pet boutique, and always seemed to go crazy for some homeless pooch at their adoption clinics. But her love life was a disaster!

In her new book, Stray Magic, Jackie Bouchard blends her trademark humor with a passel of pups and a sprinkling of fairy dust. All I can say is I bet you've never met anyone quite like Vincent, Cara's matchmaker and fairy godfather. (Did I mention he was about 3 feet tall and wears a velour track suit?) And wait til you read what happens to Llewellyn, Cara's adorable corgi. He certainly comes to her rescue in a unique way!

If you're looking for a great story about dogs, love, magic spells that often spell trouble, and a lot of fun, be sure to pick up Stray Magic. And, enter our giveaway here!

Entering is easy! Simply leave a comment telling us one quality in a dog that you'd like to see in your significant other! Contest ends Monday 11/143 at midnight. Good luck!

Note: Contest open to U.S. residents only. Winner will receive your choice of one e-book or paperback copy of Stray Magic.

Be sure to visit Jackie Bouchard on Facebook or twitter to check out all her great fiction books for dog lovers! Get your copy of Stray Magic on amazon.

 *Full disclosure: I was given one copy to review and one copy to give away in exchange for my honest review. This in no way influenced my decision. Opinions expressed here are 100% my own.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Busy Dog or Lazy Pooch? Your Pet's Activity Level and GIVEAWAY

Do you wear a FitBit or other activity tracker? You know they're helpful in managing your activity goals. But have you ever wondered if your pet is getting enough exercise?

Petey, photo by Roy Gumpell

Are your walks together long enough? Is he running around in the yard or just laying in the sun? When you leave the house, is she actively playing or is she sleeping on your bed? If only you could have a FitBit for your dog!

Now you can, with the Poof activity tracker. AND, we're Giving Away Two Poof Activity Trackers at the end of the blog!!

Poof sent us two activity trackers to sample and review, and two to give away. We tried out the blue Bean for Petey, and the green Pea for Ernest.

Setting Up
At first I was a little intimidated because there seemed like a lot of parts. But the instructions are really clear and simple, and the parts are very straightforward.

THE BEAN- uses a USB cable to charge.
THE PEA- uses a battery

So the first step would be to determine which you would prefer, to charge or change the battery. Also, the Pea is a little bigger than the bean. The pea battery lasts up to 6 months and then you need to purchase a new battery. The bean charge lasts  6-8 weeks, then you need to recharge, which takes 4 hours to get a full charge--but you don't need to purchase anything additional. So, Question #1- would you rather have the convenience of a battery that lasts longer? Or, the cost-efficiency of recharging, but you have to remember to do it more frequently?

Getting Started
Once I put the pieces into the holders and attached them to the collar, it was time to download the app. You simply sign into the app, then hold the phone near the Poof on your dog's collar, and it connects! Easy peasy!


Reading the Data
Checking the data is quick and easy. I was able to enter multiple dogs on the same app, and could easily toggle back and forth between Ernest and Petey.  At the top was the activity level for that day, broken into hours, and a graph to show light, moderate and high activity levels. Below that was a graph to show light and deep sleep.  Then there as a bar graph showing calories. You can even enter feeding information to determine calories consumed and calories burned.

Uses for Poof
Poof is a great tool for
*helping manage your pet's weight.
*monitoring sleep patterns
*determining if they're active or sleeping when you're out of the house
*discerning if the pet sitter/walker exercised your pet for the appropriate time
* realizing if your pet is active at day care
*understanding changing activity/sleep patterns that can indicate health concerns
 *In addition, Poof has a cool feature that maps your pet's location. Plus, Poof can send out alerts for your lost pet.
 Question #2- Which way would you find Poof most helpful with your pet?

The Results
I've been having fun observing the difference in my senior dog Ernest's activity, vs. my puppy Petey's activity level! As you can imagine, Ernest has many periods of deep sleep, and mostly light activity. Petey, on the other hand, has fewer periods of sleep and a majority of high intensity activity! So far I have enjoyed seeing that my dogs basically sleep the whole time I'm out of the house, and sometimes they are awake and active in the middle of the night when I think they're sleeping. lol. It's a lot of fun to check the Poof app at the end of the day and see how they're doing!


 Would you like a Poof  activity tracker for your pet? I'm giving away one Poof bean and one Poof pea! Just enter the Rafflecoptor below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

FULL DISCLOSURE: Poof sent me two Poof trackers to review and two to give away. This in no way influenced my review. Opinions expressed here are 100% my own. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Oh, the Mistakes we Make

To err is human, to forgive canine
In raising and training our dogs, we are likely to make some mistakes. I feel like I still have so much to learn in training especially. (Perhaps Petey and Ernest are training me!)

Ernest thinking, "How can I make her understand what I want?" I look clueless.

Recently, Pet Wellness Advisor asked two dozen pet bloggers "What is the biggest mistake dog owners make, and how can they fix/help this issue?"
The responses are well thought-out and reflect the experiences and expertise of a wise and diverse group. I was honored to be included in the panel. Of course, after I read each response I thought, "I wish I'd said that!"

You may be surprised by some of the answers. Here is a link to the article Pet Wellness Advisor Ask the Experts Round Up.

What are your thoughts? What do you think the biggest mistake pet parents make, and how can we help the issue?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Remembering Kelly

Recently I found myself thinking more about my dogs Ernest and Petey, and less about the ones I'd lost six months ago, and it shocked me.

Maybe it's only natural to focus on the ones who are here day in and day out. Maybe it's because Ernest has cancer and we spend a great deal of time making sure we're caring for his health and comfort. Or because Petey is a puppy and so very consuming of time and energy. Maybe it's just the way it should be. But it feels wrong.

Especially with Kelly. I don't feel this same melancholy about Ike, the 10-year old golden retriever we lost in March. Ike is still with me in many ways. I think of Ike every time I look at Ernest and Petey, and feel a deep appreciation for this wonderful breed. Ever since Brooks, the dog we adopted when he was 11-years-old, we fell in love with golden retrievers. Especially the seniors. Maybe it's still having golden retrievers that helps me keep Ike's spirit alive.

But Kelly. Sometimes Kelly feels...gone. It seems like years, decades ago that we had Kelly. Yet we lost her in March, just after losing Ike. And we'd had her longest of any dog...15 years.

The last year with Kelly had been bad. Pacing. Loss of continence. Loss of mental faculties. She didn't like to be held anymore. She fell. Panted. She stared with eyes that barely recognized me anymore. That's not the Kelly I'm remembering today.

Kelly was a good dog. She used to be joyful. She ran, wagging her tail like a helicopter, springing from bush to bush in the yard. She loved to swim. She loved to jump. She jumped up on the back of my big green chair and curled around my neck like a scarf. She cuddled. She was smart. She could solve any puzzle or problem. She was in charge, that was for sure.

 With any other dogs in the house, she was the boss. She controlled them with just a look. All our golden retrievers were respectful of her, and deferred to her leadership. But what I remember most is her empathy. She was always there beside me if ever I was down or not feeling well. There were many times when I was going through some challenge, and she just intuitively crept up and tucked herself in by my side. She was almost human, I thought. She understood me, and sometimes it seemed as though she read my thoughts.

It makes me happy to think of Kelly and how special she was, but it also makes me sad because I miss her all the more.

There once was a dog named Kelly, and we adopted her, and she was a part of the family and she loved us with everything she had. We played with her when she was young and we cared for her when she was suffering from dementia. And in March we said goodbye to her. And I love her. And I miss her.

Kelly was a good dog.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Pet Parent's Guide to a Clean and Odor Free Ride and #Meguiar's Giveaway!

To be a pet parent is to have a car with:
Smudgy nose prints all over the windows.
Muddy footprints on the upholstery.
Drool down the back of the seats.
Dog hair flying everywhere.
And that ewwwww stinky dog odor.

Does this describe your vehicle? It does mine! Ernest and Petey have lent a paw or two to make sure our car has that lived-in look and smell!

It's time for a total car clean-up. Luckily, I was sent a set of high performance car care products to review....and because I think they're so fantastic, I'm giving you a chance (below) to win  a set of five  Meguiar's car care products!

We take Ernest and Petey in the car to go to the vet's, the park, training classes, visiting Grandma, and we recently took them with us on vacation. So they've certainly left their mark on (and all over!) our CRV. The trouble is, actual human beings have to ride in that car too. Most of them prefer not to sit in a rolling dog bed. It would be nice, just once, not to exit the car with dog hair all over the seat of my pants too. So we sampled and tested five items to shape up our car inside and out, and I can tell you that it's never been cleaner or fresher, except for the day it rolled off the lot. Best of all---usually you need a lot of elbow grease to make a dent in the gross dog muck, but I was pleasently suprised at how easy these prodcuts were to use, and how effective they were with very little effort from me.

Here's what we got:

Ultimate Interior Detailer -- Helped clean up mats and interior surfaces such as dashboard, vinyl handles, and seats. It really only took a swipe of the cloth to see a noticeable improvement.

Meguiar’s ®Perfect Clarity Glass Cleaner--  What do you know, I can see out the windows again! Quite helpful when driving! No streaks and smudges, either. This is my favorite of all the products.

Ultimate Waterless Wash and Wax --  For touch-ups and a quick cleaning on the exterior, no need to get out the hose and bucket. Simply mist on this product and wipe away with a microfiber towel to remove drool and road grime. It also adds a layer of protection to your finish. What's not to love?

Meguiar’s ® Whole Car Air Re-Freshers-- I notice that Ernest and Petey's doggy smell lingers, even after my pups have left the car. This great air freshener's "odor-eliminating technology" took care of that. Scents include sparkling berry, spiced wood, spring blossom citrus grove, summer breeze, and new car.  
Meguiar’s ® supreme shine microfiber towels--  These are the softest, car clean-up towels ever! Why use quality cleaners if you don't use a quality towel too?

Now for the fun part. You can win a set of Meguiars products too-  Just fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter. Good luck!
Prize consists of:
1 3-pk microfiber towels
15.2 oz Ultimate Interior Detailer
24 oz Perfect Clarity Glass Cleaner
26 oz  Waterless Wash and Wax
1 whole car air re-fresher

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Full Disclosure: Meguiar's sent me these five car care products in exchange for my  honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion. All opinions expressed here are 100% my own.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A Special Prayer at the Western Wall

This month my dear friend Lori took a birthday vacation to the Holy Land. One day while she was there, I received a Facebook message from her. "I went to the Western Wall today."

I thought of pictures I'd seen of the Western Wall, also known by some as the Wailing Wall, a 1601-foot long limestone wall in Old City of Jerusalem.

"It's a custom to stick notes in the cracks between the stones to ask God to grant requests," she continued. "I wrote a special one for Ernest."

So tiny!
 Ernest was just diagnosed with cancer.

"There is very little space in that wall, and it's difficult to stuff the notes in the cracks, so that's why the paper is so small!" Over a million notes are placed in the Western Wall each year!

I was so touched that my friend brought such a special request across so many miles to a place so far away.

Here is the note tucked in the stones:

Ernest's note.

Thank you Lori for praying for Ernest, and for bringing this request to God in such a special way.

My friend Lori at the Western Wall.
Thank you God for hearing this prayer. We pray Ernest will be healed of his cancer. Amen.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Petting your Dog may Save His Life

Petting your dog may save his life.

Ernest is a good boy.
 A few weeks ago Ernest was at his therapy dog prep class. In between exercises my husband was petting him, stroking his fur like we both do numerous times a day. I'm sure you do with your dog, too. But this time he felt something different. A small bump near Ernest's shoulder.

Later that night he showed me. It looked like a mosquito bite. I didn't think anything of it at all.

Mike shows me the lump.

It's barely the size of a mosquito bite.
 A few days later we were at a vet appointment for our puppy. Ernest was with us. Mike happened to mention the bump to the vet. She looked, taking more interest in it than I thought, which surprised me. "I'll aspirate it and take a look," she said, inserting a small needle into the area. To be honest, my only thought at the time was, here goes our bill up, up, up!

The next night we received a phone call about 9pm. The vet.  "It's not benign," she said. I listened, barely believing her words. I thought Ernest was fine. He had no symptoms. And the bump was so small. But now the bump had a name: mast cell tumor.

Monday Ernest had surgery to remove the tumor.

Ernest's scar on his right shoulder.
 Tissue was sent for a biopsy. Stage 1 is a pretty good prognosis. Stage 2 could go either way. Stage 3 means it has already spread. The biopsy shows it is a stage 2 tumor.

None of us know how long we have. It's no different for Ernest. We're just going to give Ernest the best, happiest, most loving life we can, and the best health care within our means. We have a wonderful veterinarian we trust and we know that she'll take good care of us. We plan to continue with therapy dog classes (only one left and then he'll take his test!) and if he passes, Ernest will fulfill his destiny (we believe) to be a therapy dog.

Paw Power!

He's recovering from surgery well. The tumor has been removed. And all because my husband was petting him one night.

So petting your dog can save his life.

And you can bet, we'll be petting Ernest a lot.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Back to School Treats #ChewyInfluencer

Hi there, Petey here. Wednesday I told you that I was going to school. Well, every good dog who goes to school knows that means one thing:  TREATS!!  And where does Mom get my treats? Can you guess? I spelled it out for you on Mom's refrigerator.

Mom and I and Ernest are Chewy Influencers. Chewy sent us this awesome bag of Natural Balance mini rewards treats. Whenever I do something good, Mom gives me one. They're mini size, so I don't have to worry about my figure--less than 5 calories each.

They're made with high quality proteins. The first ingredient is duck, and they also contain sweet potatoes. Other flavors available are chicken and lamb. Can I just say that learning is delicious?!

Check out these and other yummy treats on Chewy.

What flavor treats do you like when you are learning new things? Hot dogs? Cheese? Bacon?

Full Disclosure: Chewy sent us one 4oz bag mini rewards in exchange for our honest review. Opinions expressed here are 100% my own.