Traveling Dog Lady

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Traveling Dog Lady Reports from BlogPaws 2017

When I first booked my ticket for BlogPaws 2017 in Myrtle Beach, the plan was to bring both dogs on a road trip to Myrtle Beach. I booked my ticket the day the Myrtle Beach location was announced for two reasons: 1) there's a discount if you book right away after the announcement; and 2) I have family that lives in Myrtle Beach. It just so happens that my human brother lives in the Myrtle Beach area; and my dogs' canine brother (Copper, not to be confused with COOPER), also lives in Myrtle Beach. The original plan was a reunion with both the human bro, and the canine bro. By the way, the canine bro does NOT own my human bro! It's just a funky coincidence that they both happen to live in Myrtle Beach.... but as I all too well know... There are NO coincidences!

My view of the ocean from the Sheraton ha ha.

Since I had made that booking 11 months before the conference, life got in the way. The very day I was supposed to start driving the 14-hour trip, happened to be the exact same day that the new owners were taking possession of a piece of real estate I had been dealing with as part of my late boyfriend's estate (by the way, I use the term boyfriend and husband interchangeably to describe Gil, the man I was with for 30 years -- it's just one guy. We really weren't married, but that's a whole other story.)  Anyhoo! I figured it would not be smart to leave on a trip the very same day that the closing was happening. I could have done it, since the lawyers were in charge, but I didn't feel comfortable. Alas, I changed my plans, convinced my friends to watch the dogs and cats, and booked an airline ticket. Yuck. Even though I have been working in the travel industry for 32 years, I hate flying. Hate it. Did I mention how much I hate flying? Oh. Yeah. I'd choose a road trip any day. This meant I had to leave my dogs at home.

My trusty stuffed travel companion, Stuffy Douglas, who has been on basically every trip with me because my dogs aren't exactly well-behaved, made the journey with me. Along the way, I "adopted" three more stuffed animals!

Stuffy Douglas (center) surrounded by the new stuffed pets

It was lonesome in the hotel without my hounds, but I'll tell ya, after observing everyone else with their pets, I realized that my boys are too rough around the edges to be trusted at such an event. For instance, when I ate dinner with the rat blogger, I kept envisioning Charlie with me. Charles is obsessed with squirrels, chipmunks, mice, moles. He would have attacked that rat, I just know it. Charlie is huge, so... well, just let your imagination figure it out. Not a good idea. Glad I didn't bring him. Another reason they wouldn't have done well is because I made a vow to myself to go to the beach each day. Not realizing that getting to the beach was a three-block walk, and required crossing two humongous boulevards, and it's already HOT in South Carolina in May.  It turns out I wouldn't have been able to bring Charlie to the beach in the afternoons. Bringing Cooper on such a walk would be absolutely out of the question. Finally, I had lunch plans with my family on Friday, and while BlogPaws had built-in pet sitting accommodations, I just didn't feel right about doing that. Again, because my dogs are country bumpkins who don't spend a lot of time in social situations -- never mind the city.

My boys are rescue dogs. Most, but not all, of the other dogs at BlogPaws are purebreds. Not that that matters, but my guys are obnoxious, and I know it.  In the end, while I missed having the experience of traveling with them, I'm glad I left them at home.

What a fabulous time I had meeting everyone I had known online for nearly 10 years! Some I'd met earlier in the year at the Dog Writers Association luncheon in New York during Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

With Carol Bryant of Fidose of Reality!  Say, Carol, we have great taste in jewelry!

The thrill of the weekend, for me, was meeting Kenn Bell and Remi of The Dog Files. I admit I was a little star struck, but somehow managed to introduce myself, congratulate them on winning a BlogPaws award, and say a few nonsensical words. I've been a huge fan ever since forever -- especially because Kenn's dogs, Max and Remi, resembled my dog, the late, great, Hector Huge. I like to think maybe Max and Hector are together, somewhere in doggie heaven.

I was also honored to be a part of the surprise baby shower for Maggie Marton of BlogPaws and the Oh My Dog! blog. We connected at Dog Writers Association in February as well, and of course our mutual love of dogs named Cooper, made us fast friends. I was so pleased to be included in the planning and execution of such a fun late-night bash. Congrats to Maggie and John on the expansion of their family!

Squeeeeeee! Diaper cake!!

It was not possible for me to attend all of the workshops I wanted to -- I had hoped to partake in all of them! I managed to weed out the ones that were most important. Had to squeeze in time with the fam besides; and I didn't get to meet Charlie and Cooper's brother, Copper, either. The workshops I did attend were informative, educational, fun, and it was great getting to know all the other folks in the workshop. Except for stepping on that poor beagle when he was asleep -- Kathy the Klutz strikes again! I STILL feel bad about it, weeks later! Poor little guy. :(  I felt badly that I had to duck out of the Friday afternoon festivities, and am grateful that most of it was either videotaped, or people took excellent notes, and I was able to catch up.

My workshop set-up! Stuffy Douglas in full residence. Charlie on the screensaver. Hobie on the pen!

I am not an artsy-craftsy person, but I attended Red Roof Inn's sip 'n' paint (I didn't paint, I just used a coloring book off to the side!); and I made an honor flag in memory of Hobie and Hector.



I did make it to the beach every day, and realized it is the same beach as the one I went to for many years on Cape Cod, just hundreds of miles south LOL! Myrtle Beach is "on my list" of potential places to relocate to (read = retire) in a few years, so it was good for me to explore and get to know my way around. I really liked it a lot. We had one great pack walk with several "newbies" (first-time attendees of BlogPaws); and I took another great beach walk with Susan Nation of Talent Hounds. Unbeknownst to me until later that night, she was up for an award!! And of course, she won!!



During the Cat Writers Association awards dinner and banquet, I won third runner up for a free ticket to CWA's 2018 conference (location, dates, etc. to be announced). I was so shocked to hear that I had actually won something, sort of!

A fortuitous meeting was that of Ellen Zucker, astrologer extraordinaire. We were at the same table during the first night's dinner, and really struck up a great conversation. As luck would have it, on the return trip, we were on the same flight out of Myrtle Beach! We had breakfast together and a lovely long chat at the airport while waiting for boarding time. I hope to remain in contact with Ellen, she is a delightful human being!

After I got back home from Myrtle Beach, I rearranged some duties in my day job, so I can manage my company's blog and social media in addition to my regular duties as treasurer and secretary of the business. It's great that I can apply some of what I learned at BlogPaws to my 9-5er as well! I also got my certificate of completion for module two of my dog behaviorist education -- if I ever finish it'll be a miracle. And, I am also about to start working on a book (or series) about a military dog named Silver who served in Japan during WWII.

One of the coolest things that happened was that we all got to see a sneak preview of the movie, "Megan Leavey". Of course, I started crying about 10 seconds in to the trailer, and each time I see the trailer on TV now, I start crying again. Powerful stuff! I'm looking forward to seeing the movie.

All of us made sure to sign the petition for the #PAWSAct, and boy was I ever proud to put that little pin in the middle of Massachusetts on Bayer's map. After I signed the petition, I got a personal email from Senator Elizabeth Warren. Like, for real, she even told me about her dog! As a victim of teenage dating violence  a lifetime ago, when I was a teenager) this legislation is particularly important to me. Want to know more about the PAWSAct? Check it out, here. 

My #PAWSact pin right smack in the middle of Massachusetts! 

Next year, BlogPaws is going to be in Kansas City. I'm not sure if I'll be able to go, although it is during my birthday week.  It's an interesting thought to do something different for my b-day. So, perhaps I'll see you at BlogPaws in 2018!

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Tribute to My Dog on his Gotcha Day

Today marks 17 years since Hobie's "gotcha day" (the day I adopted him).


Gotcha Day!

Of course, he's been gone two years now, and I miss him every day. He was the canine love of my life. Charlie and Cooper fill Hobie and Hector's "shoes" (paws) as well as they can, but there will never be another Hobie and Hector. They were the dynamic dog duo!

Best friends for ever!


Tails entwined in love! 

When I met Hobie, it was truly love at first sight. I had to make it look good, so I told the people who brought him to see me that I needed to take him for a walk before deciding. Of course, I had decided the moment we locked eyes -- he was my dog. I had waited a lifetime for him. I was 40 years old, and had somehow not given birth to human children. I had imagined a little girl with blonde hair would be my kid, but the universe had other plans. Hobie got plopped in front of me. He wasn't a female, but he sure was blond! For some reason, I felt that he was my canine soul mate. I still feel that way today, about him. I loved him so much, it was almost inappropriate! He filled a void in my life, and I am forever grateful to him for not only filling up my empty heart, but also leading me on this journey of writing about my dogs.

On the bed in Cape Cod!

Asleep on my lap!

In the yard on Cape Cod!

I'm still waiting for the rain and cold to subside before putting the little garden plaque I bought to memorialize him in our back yard, which we dubbed "The Timba Memorial Park" after my black Lab, Timba, who passed away in the back yard in 2001.

Timba at her favorite place: Thompson Pond. She taught Hobie how to swim and "go fishin'"!

Hector at Thompson Pond. I always said he was Timba, reincarnated!

Timba, "fishing" in Thompson Pond



Hobie "fishing" in Thompson Pond





















Timba was 17 years old (ironically!) when I adopted Hobie, who would be 17 today if he had lived that long. Timba taught Hobie many things, and Hobie himself passed those things along to Charlie Brown and Cooper (and of course, Hector, who left us too soon).

Hobie and Timba in the then-un-named Timba Memorial Park (our back yard). This was Hobie's first day with us!
Timba showed Hobie the ropes, on how to be a Mueller family dog.


And, in turn, Hobie showed Charlie Brown the ropes!

One of the first things I did after I said yes to Hobie's original owners was take him to Petco and get a bunch of supplies. I kept the receipt, all these years! He was so cute in the car with me. He always loved going for car rides after that! All my dogs have been car riders. I wouldn't have it any other way.




"They take a piece of your heart, and never let go."


Monday, May 15, 2017

Remembering Anabelle

Our grand-dog, Anabelle, crossed over the Rainbow Bridge this past weekend.

Following here are some pictures of Ana from when she was a young dog, so full of Australian Shepherd life, on Nauset Light Beach on Cape Cod; and a few pics from when she visited us in 2014.

It was my honor and privilege to place my hand on her and witness her final moments. Dogs are a member of the family, and while she only lived here in Mass for a short time, I always called her my grand-dog. I'm happy she got to live out her final days at the little cottage, and hang out with Charlie and Cooper.

That afternoon, after we were done sobbing and crying, Nancy (Ana's other grandmother) and I ran some errands, just to keep our minds occupied. As we were leaving the church, after dropping off some raffle items, a young Dalmatian puppy -- with with BROWN, not black, spots -- came running into the church parking lot. He looked so excited, and we could tell he belonged to someone because he was wearing a collar and license tag. He ran up to us, and we both touched him as he zoomed past. In hot pursuit was his teenage owner, running stocking-footed through the church parking lot. The church being on a busy roadway, we all were worried. But the Dalmatian stopped and touched each of us, then ran around in circles. Nancy grabbed the dog's collar, and the teenage girl got her bearings and took the dog from Nancy, just as her sister turned up in their car. Dalmatian went home, safely with his family.  After they drove away, I said to Nancy.... "That was a message from Ana. Telling us she is ok."  Call me crazy dog lady, but I felt that the puppy was delivering a message to us that Ana had made it safely to doggie heaven, across that rainbow bridge, where I believe Hobie, Hector and "grandpa" Gil met up with her.

Goodbye, Ana. We will never, ever forget you.









The little lighthouse pole on top of the dune!
Long ago washed away!
The pole represented where Nauset Lighthouse used to stand before it was moved inland by the preservation society.
















From a visit to the Pink House in 2014


Ana always got along with the boys. They adored her. I hope Hobie was there to greet her in doggie heaven. 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

How to Evaluate Your Senior Pet's Quality of Life

A question I get all the time from friends, family and on social media is "How Will I Know...." (when my senior pet is ready to go). We've all heard those with experience say "You will just know." Well, in my personal experience, I have only had to euthanize one pet -- my beloved Hobie -- and believe me, I did not "just know". I spent at least two years riding the roller coaster of watching my dear dog suffer, then rally. At times, he appeared to be on death's door. The next morning, he would be running and playing with my two younger dogs, me, and the cats, or swimming in the lake. So, will you "just know"? Maybe. Maybe not.

Gee, I'm helpful!

In my journey with all the senior pets I've had the pleasure to know (I am so grateful for those experiences), one thing I learned about is the Quality of Life Scale For Pets. Sometimes this is called The HHHHHMM Scale.  I strongly recommend that you bookmark one of these links, and keep it handy if you have a senior dog or cat that is nearing the end of its life.**

Filkin, lived to be 17
Maggie, the last of the "Connie Cats" lived to be 21

Mr. Kitty, whose life we saved, lived to be 16

Love Kitty, who was hit by a car, and her daughter, Filkin, ca. 1985

The HHHHHMM Scale, or Quality of Life Scale For Pets was created by veterinary oncologist Alice Villalobos, DVM and is designed to give the average pet parent the information they need to continue assessing any dog or cat's general quality of life. The criteria is simple, and you can review each item on the list quickly and easily every day. It basically goes like this:

HURT
HUNGER
HYDRATION
HYGIENE
HAPPINESS
MOBILITY
MORE GOOD DAYS THAN BAD

You rate each item on a scale of Zero to Ten, with zero being "awful" and ten being "ideal".

Here's an example I would have used with Hobie at any point in 2014 (when he was having more and more bad days):  Hurt = 7, Hunger = 10, Hydration = 5, Hygiene= 2, Happiness = 4, Mobility = 4, More Good Days Than Bad = 9 for a total score of 41. Note that a total of more than 35 points means the pet's quality of life is acceptable.  Pretty good, right? Easy for anyone to figure out, and comforting for you and your family when you're feeling stressed out because Fifi is having a bad day.

Timba, in her later years (she was 18!) and the first Charlie (Charlie the cat) 

So, even though Hobie smelled bad (hygiene), seemed somewhat unhappy and was having major mobility issues, he was still having, overall, more good days than bad, and scoring high on each of those days. Even though, WITHIN those days there was bad stuff...mainly, arthritis, difficulty standing and walking, peeing and pooping and then falling down in it (ugh) and trouble staying hydrated.... he was still more happy than not, and having more good days than bad. Eventually, that all flipped, and he began having many bad days. And I guess, you might say, it was then that I "knew".

Good day!!

Good day! Tongue out!

Another method I've heard of is a little easier to remember and much more simplified: Eating, Drinking, Pooping, Peeing.  If your pet is eating, drinking, pooping and peeing normally, on more days than not (maybe with an occasional day that seems "off") then life is still good. I would add to the list: "Moving". If the pet has severe trouble moving, that's a huge indicator of a less than ideal quality of life.  Remember, we all have sick days -- dogs and cats are no exception.

Hobie on a "sick day". He had just gotten home from the hospital
and was confined to the kitchen to keep the other pets form bugging him.

I've borrowed a phrase for the later years of a pet's life (age 12 and higher): "doggie hospice" or "kitty hospice". Some veterinarians are coming around to actually providing hospice for dogs and cats. All this really means is that, with the vet's help, you learn how to assess your dog's or cat's situation on a daily basis, and you make him or her as comfortable as possible during this time. It also means spending as much quality time together as possible -- because an animal's life is short enough already, and I guarantee that you will regret if you don't spend as much fun and loving time as possible with your pet during this phase of his or her life. That doesn't mean that you call in sick to work, shirk your responsibilities to family, or anything drastic like that -- it just means, try to make your time together truly memorable for yourself, and comforting for your pet.  It also doesn't mean playing ball, running, taking long walks, or anything that will cause your pet distress or pain. Gentle, loving time together. Maybe your dog sits beside you, snoozing, while you work in the garden; your cat sleeps on your lap (or keyboard!) while you work at your computer or surf the web -- that sort of activity. (And don't forget to take pictures!! Lots, and lots of pictures).

One thing that I did (and yeah, I'm a crazy pet lady, remember!) is that I moved my bedroom downstairs to our walk-out basement. That meant Hobie did not have to climb stairs during the last seven months of his life. The photo below is him walking on the basement floor, which I covered with doggy-safe non-slip rugs that can easily be thrown in the washing machine if an (oops!) accident occurs (as happened quite frequently).  Yeah, I'd do just about anything for my dogs and cats!

Hobie, on one of his last days. Still plugging along, but with difficulty.
One of my favorite memes circulating on the interwebs is the one that says something about the dog or cat being dependent on you, the human, for everything. You are his everything. Pets, especially dogs, crave your companionship above almost everything else other than eating and sleeping. Dogs are pack animals and need to know their pack is nearby. Whether that's one human, six humans, four other dogs, 19 barn cats, a parrot, a bunny rabbit, or a combination of critters. The pack is the pack. Reassure your dog as much as possible by providing her with human or animal companionship whenever possible. It's great if you have other pets in the household, because then the company is built-in!

Take pictures! Take pictures!
All the pets loved Hobie!


So, go ahead and bookmark, save, or print a copy of the Quality of Life Scale for Pets and keep it handy for your pets senior years. The scale applies to both dogs and cats.

Got a question about your senior pet? Drop me an email at k2k9dogs@gmail.com, or pose your question in the comments below. I'd love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading!

**This is NOT a sponsored or paid post!**

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Naked Dog Box

This post is sponsored by The Naked Dog Box. The pack was compensated with a box of food, treats, and a measuring scoop. All opinions written here are just that: my opinions. This post also includes affiliate links. If you buy something by clicking on a link (you are NOT obligated to, by any means!), the pets and I get a tiny bit of Moolah for Mueller off to the side, and it doesn't cost you anything extra. Not only that, it's much appreciated. 


My dog, Charlie Brown, received a big box last week, addressed to him! The Naked Dog Box arrived in great condition, and was waiting at my doorstep when I got home from work the other day. I have to say, I immediately fell in love with just the box itself, never mind what was inside!








When we opened it up, we literally got a treat (well, a bag of treats). Inside was, like I said, a bag of treats as well as a stainless steel measuring scoop, which was selected just for my dog, based on the profile I had submitted for him. Since Charlie and Cooper are twins, I didn't have to submit two profiles, their profiles are pretty much identical (hah, see what I did there?!).




Facebook Live video of us opening up the Naked Dog Box.


Also inside was a HUGE bag of The Naked Dog salmon and chickpea premium dog formula. It's grain-free and potato free. I don't know why potato free is an issue... I guess because of carbs and weight gain, maybe? I will have to educate myself on that, perhaps some of you reading this could weigh in (oooo, I did it again, sorry! Me 'n' my puns!).  

We eat only grain-free dog food in our house, ever since Hobie developed a terrible allergy to wheat years ago. Therefore, I was thrilled when The Naked Dog asked me to try out their grain-free product.

The company recommends feeding one scoop in the morning, and one in the evening. I usually feed my dogs just once a day, in the evening, so I had to make some adjustments to follow this recommendation, mix it together with our current food to avoid tummy problems, and be sure my dogs don't gain extra weight. 


A perfectly-measured scoop of The Naked Dog salmon & chickpea formula.
Measured specifically for my dogs based on the profile I set up online.

Let me say that the dogs absolutely went ape over this food! That made me feel confident that I am feeding them something really good tasting, as well as good quality. I have to admit, when I opened the bag, and got a whiff of the fish it was pretty strong-smelling. I remarked, "Woo! Smells like FISH!" You can only imagine what two hound dogs thought of that. "Gimme!"


Charlie and Cooper are like, "Mom, that smells so good, we're going to sit perfectly still until you feed us!"

Since we should always be careful when changing our dogs' food, I mixed some of their current brand with the Naked Dog brand. Funny enough, the other brand ALSO sent me a free bag of food in exchange for a blog post this week! Dog food doesn't pay the bills, but getting two free bags of food that I already use and endorse saves me money. So, it's a win-win. You'll be hearing about the other dog food (our regular brand) in a few days.


Nom, nom, nom
Nom, nom, nom, right out of the scoop itself!


Back to The Naked Dog food. Like I said, it's grain-free and potato-free. It's also free of soy and corn. No bad stuff. The large, unmarked bag we received has enough food to feed one of my dogs, two scoops per day, for two weeks. 





The Naked Dog prides themselves on having a small carbon footprint, thus the plain, brown wrapper on their bag, and minimal packing materials inside the box (which I LOVE -- can't stand bubble wrap, air-filled baggies or packing corn!).


The dog food is packaged in a plain, brown wrapper.
Charlie Brown says, "It smells so gooood!"

I just might consider signing up for the regular deliveries. The dogs like this food so much. The company claims you can skip going to your local pet store and shop on their site to include other items like treats, toys and other add-ons.


 


I've taken a picture of the guaranteed analysis and ingredients list for you to check out the salmon and chickpea formula.

They even sent me a cute little cardboard bow tie cutout with instructions and a video! I will have to find a few minutes to cut out the bow tie and put it on one of the dogs. Maybe Cooper.







You can find more details about The Naked Dog Box here.

As a special promotion just for my readers, you can get your first box for just $10 - regardless of the size of your dog! 
Just use the code travelingdoglady10 when you sign up.

First time using The Naked Dog Box? Get $10 off your order with code travelingdoglady10 now!


Have you tried the Naked Dog Box, or any other pet-related "box" service? I'd like to know how it works with your schedule. Tell me about it in the comments, or send me an email at k2k9dogs@gmail.com  

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