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.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Petey's First Day of School

The first day of school is here for Petey. He's ready to start his training to eventually become a therapy dog.

Here he is  at 12 weeks old and ready to learn. He's enrolled in puppy kindergarten with trainer Teri. I like Teri because she emphasizes a positive learning environment. No pushing and tugging and jerking. She has lots of lessons for little puppies. Here Pete's learning "sit."

There is even recess! The pups get to zoom around and play together. If one gets to be a bit bossy or possessive with a toy, Teri intervenes, scoops the puppy up and gently holds him for a little time out. This way Petey will learn about positive interactions with other dogs. Here he's playing with Luna. And yes, Petey got a time out too.

We had a fun obstacle course too. Pete went through a tunnel and hula hoop.

Pete loves school! I hope he graduates!
 What tips do you have for Pete as he goes through puppy kindergarten?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Personalized Books About YOUR Pet

I love books about dogs--partly because I write books about dogs and the human-animal bond. But I also love reading books about dogs, and I read a lot of them. In addition, I love reading books about dogs to my granddaughters. And personalized books about my own dogs? What's not to love?!

 Look! Here are some adorable books about Ernest and Petey.

I See Me! Books released a series of illustrated, personalized rhyming storybooks narrated from YOUR dog's perspective. If My Dog Could Talk. They offered me a chance to review the books, and sent me one for Petey, Ernest, and even one as a memorial for our spaniel Kelly.

My name, other family members' names and my dog's names were incorporated into the artwork. We enjoyed seeing Petey's name on his dog bed, Ernest's name on a dog bowl, and my name on a picture on the wall. The cute little rhyme expressed our dogs' devotion to their family and the book ended with a loving message.

The books are bright and fun, well-made, with great attention to detail and personalization in multiple places, not just once or twice. 

You simply submit information such as your dog's name, and choose from 12 dog "styles" and several color options that make it easy to select a dog that looks like yours--big dogs, little furry dogs, poodley dogs, long-eared dogs, terriers, dachshunds, shepherds, hounds, etc. You can also send photographs of your dog which are printed in the front and back of the book.

You can also get the book with a gift set which includes these adorable bandanas and a dog food place mat. The bandana is happily a nice quality with the name embroidered on, not a flimsy iron-on.

I See Me! If My Dog Could Talk would be an adorable gift for a child with a new dog, to celebrate your own dog's adoption, to memorialize the loss of a pet, for a veterinarian or pet sitter, or just for yourself to enjoy. Read it to someone you love...or maybe even a dog you love!

Check out the dog illustrations on this page. Which dog looks closest to your dog? Which color would you choose?

Your purchase will help an animal organization. This month, I See Me! will donate proceeds to Minnesota's Secondhand Hounds. If you order this month, use the code HOUND and you'll get 10% off your purchase, good through the month of August.

I See Me! also makes books for children to celebrate birthdays, baptisms, and other occasions, and other personalized products such as puzzles, lunchboxes and stickers.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I was sent 2 gift sets and one additional book in exchange for my honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion. Opinions expressed on this blog are 100% my own.

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Tale of Socializing Petey

One of the most important things we can do with a new puppy, I learned, is to socialize him. And I nearly broke into a cold sweat when I read that the age a pup needs to be socialized is from about 3 weeks until 16 weeks, and after that the window is shut, permanently. Oh my gosh!  What if I blow it. Am I doing enough? Am I doing it right?

I'm cute, right? Why do I need anything else?
If we expose our puppies during this time to a wide variety of sights, sounds, smells, people and other dogs, we can help them learn not to be fearful or anxious when faced with something new.
Well-socialized dogs are less likely to react with fear or aggression. I must admit I think often about what Petey's temperament will be like when he's older. Sure, he's adorable now, and funny and sweet and playful. But what about when he is a puppy adolescent? And adult? I feel a huge responsibility to do everything I can to help ensure Petey is a friendly and happy and well behaved dog, and one who gets along with Ernest too. We've been adopting senior dogs, who come to us pretty much as they are (and as a side note, I've been amazed that after all they've gone through, they're almost always well behaved and loving,). A puppy is different. We play a significant role in his developmental process. Oh Petey, the pressure!

So we've enrolled him in puppy manners class, a kind of puppy Kindergarten. (More about that in future posts.) There are also puppy playgroups where the pups can learn to interact in a safe, supervised environment. And then there's the socializing. We walk Ernest and Petey in our urban neighborhood a couple times a day. Because of this, Petey is exposed to cats, squirrels, dogs, people, children, buses, birds, cars whizzing by, sirens, fallen crab apples, puddles, sewer grates, trash cans, motorcycles, blowing leaves, garbage trucks and more. With Ernest's gentle lead, Petey trots along confidently.

Side by side. Ernest is a good calming presence.
We also take him out almost every day. To Great-grandma's. To friend's houses. To parks. And sometimes he gets to help me do the shopping. Wheeling him around in a cart at the pet food store, we attract many other shoppers who squeal at his puppiness and can't resist patting him. I welcome their attention, because they're helping me socialize him. Petey enjoys the outing because I usually can't resist letting him pick out a toy.

I like shopping with Mom.

Socialize-schmocialize. Let me at these toys!
Pretty soon Petey will be entering the next stage of puppyhood.
We'll get through it together.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Great photos with your dog? Try the Pooch Selfie.

Have you ever wanted to take better pictures with your dog? But your dog gets distracted and is looking everywhere but the camera? Have you ever thought you could get a good picture, if only you could stick your dog's favorite toy on top of the phone? Well, that's the theory behind the Pooch Selfie!

Smile! sent us a Pooch Selfie smartphone attachment so we could try for ourselves. Basically, it's a clip that snaps onto your smartphone or phone case, and easily holds a tennis ball. (retail $12.99).

You can insert your own tennis ball if this one gets demolished!

I don't know what they did to this tennis ball, but Ernest went crazy! All he wanted to do was to EAT TENNIS BALL NOW! He is generally a mellow dog, so his excitement surprised me.

Tastes good to me, Mom.

You wanted a picture of my canines, didn't you?

Petey didn't even seem to notice the ball at first, but when he did, he took a nibble. With his miniscule puppy attention span, nothing keeps his interest for more than a split second. He can't stay still either, so a posed picture is still hit or miss.

I'm teething, you can't blame me.

Here are our selfies we managed to get:

Close up with Ernest.

Close up with Petey. Very close up!

Petey noticed the tennis ball.

I love you Mom. (Tennis Ball!)
PROS: The product is sturdy and easy to use. Dogs in my experience were excited by the presence of the tennis ball.
CONS: If your dog loves tennis balls, he might become too excited and do anything BUT sit still and pose for a picture.

CONCLUSION: Pooch Selfie is a great idea for any dog who would be interested enough to look at the tennis ball, but not so excited by it that he has to play with it. The dogs definitely did look at it. With training, I think they would learn to stay calm. It's definitely worth trying!

P.S. I found it amusing that the package states: "Not liable for damage to phones or actions of dogs while device is being used."

FULL DISCLOSURE: provided us with one Pooch Selfie in exchange for our honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion. Opinions expressed here are 100% my own.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Hello, My Name is Petey Introducing the new puppy.

Even before we brought home new puppy Petey, our first thought was how would we make sure it goes well between him and Ernest?

"I'm so cute. How could anyone not adore me?"
Ernest is almost 9 years old. Petey was almost 9 weeks old. Would they like each other? Would Pete be too much for Ernest? Would Ernest be too rough on Petey?

The first thing we did was walk them together in a neutral area. Ernest gets along well with other dogs so I didn't feel too concerned that he'd have a problem. He and the puppy walked well, mostly doing their own thing. Then we let them loose in the fenced yard together. When all went well we brought them inside. Luckily Ernest is a very mellow older guy.

In the house, we supervise all interactions. At first Ernest was mildly interested, then he seemed to say, "Okay, he's small, he's cute I take him back." The puppy enjoyed following Ernest around and biting his tail. Sometimes we interpreted Ernest's sad looks up at us as if to say "Help me!" I'm not sure if that's really what he was thinking or not, but in the very beginning it was really hard not to feel guilty for bringing in this tiny needle-toothed competitor for attention.

"Okay, he's cute. But I'm not so sure I want to keep him."

When Ernest needs a rest, sometimes we use a puppy corral. We put it in the middle of the living room so Petey would feel in the middle of the activity, throw a bunch of toys inside, and let him play.  If he barks or whines to get out, we just ignore him and because he had so many exciting toys to play with, he soon forgets to whine and just has fun. We give him a tiny training treat when he's being quiet. This works well, when used sparingly, as a great time out--I know Ernest is glad to have a break from the puppy chewing on his ears, biting his tail and pouncing on his back.

"I love to playyyyyyyy!"

Ernest chews on a nylabone occasionally.
Petey pounces, tugs, and chews and attempts to destroy everything he sees.

Since Ernest is a laid-back dog, he isn't very assertive at correcting the puppy when he's pushed too far. Sometimes we step in so Ernest won't be too tired or gnawed to shreds. 
Most adult dogs will growl to teach a puppy that he's gone too far. A puppy usually learns the rules well from the older dog. We think Ernest could be a little more bossy!

I think most important of all we give lots of encouragement and attention. We spend time cuddling with each dog, and other times playing and running with each dog. Lots of walks, too. We've already come together as a family. And I think Ernest and Petey like being brothers.


What about you? Have you introduced a puppy to your resident dog? How did it go?

Monday, July 3, 2017

Did you Guess? Our Family has Grown!

Something exciting is happening at The Writer's Dog...Friday I asked you to guess what it might be. Some of you guessed that I was under contract for a new series of dog books, and that my first book is being made into a movie. Wow I'd love that! Both of those would be awesome but it's not happening (yet!). Others guessed that Ernest got his TDI (therapy dog) certificate. Not yet, but he will be attending classes and  heading toward that goal. So the correct answer is....

Petey in a bucket
We got a puppy!
Can you believe it?
As you know we've been adopting senior dogs, and sadly, in March we lost both Ike and Kelly. Then two months ago we adopted 8 1/2 year old Ernest. He's an awesome sweet boy and we sure got lucky when our rescue group found him for us. Then, something totally surprising happened! We got a wonderful opportunity to bring an adorable golden retriever puppy into the family and...well, Ernest now has a little brother.
Our first day together.
Family portrait. Does Ernest look a little worried? Don't worry Ernest, it will be okay.
 After all the sadness we've gone through the last few months, we think a little puppy energy is just what we all need. Of course, we plan to keep on rescuing senior goldens, too. For sure for sure.

So please welcome Petey!

Welcome to the family, Petey!
Check back later to see how Petey is transitioning into the family, the first few days/nights, housetraining, and how Ernest is doing with the new addition.

p.s. Since no one guessed the correct answer, I will randomly draw a winner from all the guesses.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Can you guess my secret?

I've got a secret. Something's changed here at The Writer's Dog. Something exciting, a little bit different, a little scary, and I can't wait to tell you. But first, I thought we'd play a little game.
Can you guess my secret?

1. We're opening a retirement home for senior golden retrievers.
2.  I'm under contract for a series of exciting books about dogs.
3. My first book, Dieting with my Dog, is being made into a movie.
4. We rescued a family of cats, so I'll be blogging about cats too.
5. Ernest earned his TDI to become a therapy dog.
6. The blog is undergoing a fantastic new redesign.
7. We're moving to the country.
8. We got a new puppy.

Leave your guess in the comments.
Only one answer is right. What do you think it is? One winner will be drawn from everyone who guesses the right answer. Winner will receive this Life is Good sticker.

(Please provide an email address so I'll have a way to contact you if you win.)
**Sorry, those who already know the answer please don't tell and spoil the game! Thanks!
Have fun guessing!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Cover Dogs- Kelly and Ike Forever

Have you seen Guidepost's new All Creatures magazine? If you love--or ever have been loved by--a dog, cat or other special creature, you'll want to read this magazine. And this month, I'm especially honored that my dogs Kelly and Ike are featured on the cover (July/August issue).

Here's how it happened. A little more than 3 months ago we were preparing to say goodbye to Kelly. She was 16 years old, and had been suffering from CCD (Canine Cognitive Disorder) for quite some time. I'd written a story for All Creatures about how our 10 year old golden retriever, Ike, became her therapy dog and helped her navigate through this illness. Even more touching was that Kelly had always been the bossy one, but Ike never held it against her. He gently guided her when all her senses and cognitive functions failed.

A wonderful magazine photographer came and took photos of Kelly and Ike together. Then, 5 days later, Ike unexpectedly passed away. He had hemangiosarcoma. A mass on his spleen ruptured. Without Ike, Kelly was lost and only a week later, we lost her too.

The story in the magazine, however, is not about their passing, but instead about how I dealt with Kelly's illness and about two dogs who loved and needed each other. It really was quite beautiful to see them together. I'll never forget them. I miss them.

It's not all sad though. A month ago we adopted 8 1/2 year old Ernest and he proudly shows off the magazine cover!

I'm very happy that Kelly and Ike's story is included in the magazine. For those who get the magazine, I hope you'll enjoy it.  (You'll also find my monthly column in each issue with pet care tips.) If you're interested, here's information on where you can subscribe to All Creatures.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Old Gold in my Life- 3 Before and After

I never intended to adopt senior dogs. Never planned to have my heart broken over and over again. But then again, I wasn't prepared for the amazing joys either. I never sought out senior dogs. But they keep finding me.

First there was Brooks. He was 11 yrs old when we adopted him. Someone had apparently dumped the old guy and left him to survive on his own.
This was sad Brooks before we rescued him:

Brooks Before
This was Brooks a few months later, after a little love:

Brooks After

I thought I could never love a dog, or be loved by a dog, the way it was with Brooks. Then came Ike. Here's goofy Ike in the rescue group's photo:

Ike Before
  Here's Ike after we got him, and he became a certified therapy dog. He was so loving.

Ike After
 Recently my husband and I decided to rescue a younger dog. But a month ago Ernest found us. He's 8 1/2 years old. Here he is the day we adopted him. He was scared.

Ernest Before

And here he is one month later. He's happy, relaxed, full of energy and nonstop love.

Ernest After

Why do I love senior goldens? They fit my lifestyle. They're pretty mellow most of the time. And mostly, there is a gentle wisdom about senior dogs. They've learned about life, sometimes the hard way, and they understand what they need. Mostly, my senior goldens have just wanted to be loved. 

Other dogs may come into our life. But we'll always have a place for senior dogs. My husband told me recently that when he retires, he'd like to open a retirement home for senior goldens. I can't think of a better way to spend our golden years.