Traveling Dog Lady: January 2014

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Happy anniversary, Charlie Brown

Two years ago today, I took a long drive in the afternoon and met this little rascal; signed the adoption papers, and brought him home.  Happy "anniversary" Charlie Brown!

Grainy iPhone photo

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Dogs in advertising

I've been wanting to write this post for a long, long time.  This morning, I spent about five minutes on Facebook and of course the Super Bowl ads are already out (makes people like me NOT watch the game, since the only reason I watch is for the ads!  Technology, greed, and instant gratification strike again.)

Have you ever noticed how many advertisements on TV utilize the family dog (or, better yet, puppies)?
So, on Facebook this morning, TWO of the regular Super Bowl ads are promoting their 2014 product using a dog.

Not to mention the Subaru ads which have been using their famous Subaru-driving dogs for several years now, to promote the dog lover's alternative to the Super Bowl.... The Puppy Bowl!  [This year in its 10th year!]

A year ago, I was pushy enough.... er, I mean FORTUNATE enough to be chosen as one of the bloggers to work with Subaru on their Dog Tested-Dog Approved Puppy Bowl campaign.  A huge fan of Subaru for nearly 30 years (I have lost count, but I've owned, leased and driven many Subarus in that time period), and a dog owner since I was a child, I just had to get in on that campaign.  It was a no-brainer.  Thankfully, they let me join them after much begging.  Hey, hanging around dogs, you learn how to beg like a champ.

My favorite Subaru of them all... my '09 Forester.
With Hobie and Charlie standing guard.

So anyway, back to the two Super Bowl ads:  The first one is from Audi -- another car manufacturer.  I will not spoil the ad because it is hilarious and there is someone famous in the ad which was totally unexpected and just cracked me up!! That's all I'm going to say.  You can find it yourself. I'm sure it's going viral as we speak... or be conventional and wait for the GAME, dagnabbit!

The second one is Budweiser's Super Bowl ad.  Now, anyone who knows me knows I'm a sap and I cry at all Hallmark and Budweiser ads.  This year's Bud ad is no exception.  It features a dog.  That's all I'm gonna say.  See above.

But this brings me back to the original observance, that of using dogs or puppies in advertising.  I'm not the first guy to write about this.  There are many blogs out there on this subject, and one person is even writing a book about the topic!  Cats are used in ads, too, but it's the family dog that seems to appear in more ads on TV, it is pretty amazing.  From insurance companies to investment banking, to automobiles and those annoying medication commercials.  Dogs in advertising are everywhere.  Does including a cute canine in a commercial bring in more business?  It must, right?

American corporations have been using dogs in advertising since before television was invented (and continue to use canines to advertise in magazines and newspapers for as long as those publications last).

Let's refresh our memories, shall we?

Who, of a certain age, can forget Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon's famous Alpo lead-ins to commercial break! (two links there, because, you can't only watch just one!)

So, on behalf of Super Bowl fans everywhere..... Go!!! whichever team wins!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Do you know a cat that loves water?

Our Newman is one. He goes outside in the rain, he follows us to the lake and gets his paws wet, he goes into the bathtub or shower when it's running, and he prefers to drink from a running tap. Here he is, tonight, thirsty after having regurgitated an entire can of cat food onto the carpet!  One minute I'm furious, running for paper towels and yelling at the dogs "Get away from that!" (Ewww); the next minute I'm running for the camera, giggling. Never a dull one in this house!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Puerto Rico is lovely, too...

It's been almost a week since we returned from our convention in Puerto Rico, and I'm just now having time to sit down and write about it here.  These trips are sponsored by the company I work for, Passports Educational Travel, and they're work assignments meaning even though you have a great opportunity to be in a fun and gorgeous place that people dream of, you have to be "on duty" 24/7 and your schedule gets way messed up.  Anyhow, it was gorgeous and fun, and here's my report about Puerto Rico.

View of Castillo San Felipe, from Castillo de San Cristobal

When I first arrived, I couldn't believe what a huge, Americanized, metropolis Puerto Rico was. Having spent most of my Caribbean time on very small islands, I just assumed....  but no, it was like flying into San Jose (California)!!  Eight-lane highways, mountains, ocean and warmth.  I instantly fell in love with this place. Once I got on the ground, met our tour manager at the airport, and got a ride into the city of Old San Juan for our evening welcome reception, I had already decided that I was going to retire HERE some day!  This was like the Caribbean and American rolled into one.  Anyone who knows me, knows I'm so American it is ridiculous.  I've always disliked the idea of living in another country.  This would be the best of both worlds -- summers on Cape Cod, winters in Puerto Rico.  It was all but decided...

The decision would be short-lived (well, I should say, the jury is still out).  This was because, directly across the street from our hotel (and I mean, I could see the building from my hotel room) was a cock-fighting arena.  Once the group stopped making male anatomy jokes, I had to wonder exactly where our chicken dinners were coming from -- dinner was at the restaurant next door!  (Oh, being a vegetarian there is a bit difficult as well, so add another check box to the "cons" column.) Evidently this "sport" of cock-fighting is as popular here as bullfighting is in Spain.  I get the cultural significance, but I know I can't endorse it.  As one of my traveling companions said, "Well, you don't have to GO there!"  I said, "It doesn't matter, I know it is happening, and that is enough for me." Disappointing, and such a paradoxical contrast to the beauty of the island.  

As per my previous post-travel post, "Ireland is Lovely, but where are the dogs?", I knew there would be stray animals around.  I know people who've rescued dogs from Puerto Rico.  Happily, I didn't see any stray dogs.  But cats?  Different story.  There were dozens.  At our hotel, and on the beach, there were a few, and on our sightseeing tour of the old city, there was an entire cat-infested street that basically amounted to a tourist attraction (yea, I took a photo of every cat on that street, and there were a bunch!!). 


There was very little free time, but a week ago, on the Sunday when my colleagues were rapt at attention to the NFL teams who were playing off for their final championship games, this non-fan took a long walk on the beach.  Often admonished by my fellow photography buffs ("Always bring a camera!") I forgot my camera. Wouldn't you know it, I found one of those Hobie boats and figured it was my Hobie sending telepathic hellos from home.  I walked ALL the way back to the hotel, got my camera, and walked ALL the way back to the Hobie boat, just so I could take a selfie of "me and Hobie".  I'm not good at selfies, my arms are too short and I always make "ugly photographer face" trying to focus and aim the darned thing!  Nevertheless, here 'tis.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Dogs rescued from freezing Sturbridge park

Emaciated, infected, and way too skinny; a mama and papa dog and three puppies were dumped at Westville Lake in Sturbridge, and rescued on the coldest night of the year!

Great job Second Chance Animal Shelter and the good samaritan that saved these dogs!  Here is the video report from channel 5 WCVB.

You can help out, go to Second Chance Animal Shelter's web site and make a donation.

Or, here at the gofundme page for these specific animals.

Do you know someone who has found themselves in a situation like this, where they've gotten in way over their heads with either too many dogs, the inability to afford medical care for their pets, or both?  There are options, many in fact.

Right here in Massachusetts is one of the only organizations of its kind, Fairy DogParents, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose only goal is to prevent the surrender of dogs to Massachusetts shelters if the family cannot afford to feed or medically care for their pet pooch.  This unique organization was founded by Marlo Manning in tribute to her dog, Ladybug.  Manning wanted to do something different to remember her dog, who passed away several years ago.  The organization has since gone on to be featured on NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams, and Manning was nominated as a CNN Hero in 2012.  I am pleased to be a volunteer for "FDP" (I contribute to their blog, and work at their booth sometimes at local events).  I have had the pleasure of spending time with Marlo Manning and her seemingly inexhaustible energy!  If you can't afford to care for your dog, FDP is there to help.  Just fill out an application and see if you qualify.

In addition, many area shelters and veterinarians offer low-cost, subsidized and even FREE health care. From inexpensive vaccination clinics and spay/neuter services, to nail trims and dental care, you can almost always find a bargain.  These folks want to help families keep their pets.

Finally, if you feel you have to surrender your pet, do so the right way... contact a shelter.  There is usually a small donation or fee requested, but if you ask friends and family to pitch in, you'd be surprised how easy it would be to collect the necessary money.  Dumping and abandoning pets is illegal, and just plain wrong.  Just don't do it!

So, guess what.... once their medical issues are resolved, all five of the dogs found in Sturbridge already have adoptive homes lined up!  Yay!  Here's a picture of one of the dogs, and a video of all five of them romping around, and some more pictures "just in" from Channel 5.  What could have turned out to be a tragedy, ended up having a happy ending.

More pictures, here:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Dog fact number 5: The Guilty Dog Look

Photo courtesy of ForTheLoveofTheDog and GratefulDog on Facebook.  Instead of clicking "share" on FB or posting on Twitter, I post stuff here and it goes to all of my social networking accounts automatically.  Thanks.  KSM

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

#WordlessWednesday Top 10 Cat Rules

 equal time for the kitties!

Photo courtesy of and Catty Cat's Corner on Facebook.  Instead of clicking "share" on FB or posting on Twitter, I post stuff here and it goes to all of my social networking accounts automatically.  Thanks.  KSM

#WordlessWednesday How NOT to Greet a Dog!

And I would add one more thing.... "Let the dog smell you!"  Humans who aren't dog-savvy always freak out at the smelling thing.  It is necessary for a dog to smell you, first!!  Dogs greet with nose first, then eyes, then ears.

Photo courtesy of and GratefulDog on Facebook.  Instead of clicking "share" on FB or posting on Twitter, I post stuff here and it goes to all of my social networking accounts automatically.  Thanks.  KSM

Thursday, January 16, 2014

8 Steps to Walking Your Dog in the Winter

8 Steps to Walking the Dog in the Winter
8 Steps to Walking the Dog in the Winter
by Vetstreet

Photo courtesy of VetStreet.  Instead of clicking "share" on FB or posting on Twitter, I post stuff here and it goes to all of my social networking accounts automatically.  Thanks.  KSM

Monday, January 6, 2014

Millennium Dog turns 14!

A big happy birthday shout out to Hobie, who turns 14 today!

Hobie is the inspiration for this blog, and my web site Millennium Dog Productions.  Of course, I found out there is a park called Millennium Dog Park in Florida, and there's a video game called Millennium Dog.  But we've had the name for 14 years now, so I think we were first.

Some folks have remarked that it is amazing how lucky we are to have Hobie at 14 years of age.  And, we are, of course, but we've also had a remarkable track record of pets who've grown old with us.

Here's the list:  (and some pictures below*)

Beagle, Samantha ("Sam"),16
Labrador Retriever, Timba, 18
Gray tabby cat, Filkin, 17
Orange tabby cat, Maggie, 20
Black cat, Mr. Kitty, 19
Border Collie Mix, Annie, 15
Orange tabby cat, Pointy, unknown, but old!!!
Hound extraordinaire, Hector, 10
(with the exception of Sam, and Annie, each of whom were in the custody of relatives at the time, and THEY made the decision to euthanize, we have never had to euthanize any of our pets!  They all died of natural causes!)

If anyone ever asked what's our secret, I would have to say that we provide a safe, loving home and we are fortunate enough to be able to afford high-quality food and the best in veterinary care.  I never really thought about it, though, to be honest.  We just love them and keep them safe and happy.  We don't give a lot of treats, no table scraps, and a good amount of exercise.

It's hard to see them grow old.  Hobie was once the vibrant, trouble-making, hot-shot male who would take off at a moment's notice and run the entire neighborhood.  He never went far, thank goodness.  He would hold his tail high and prance around like he was the king!  He needed at least 2 hours of exercise (long walks) every day or he would be bouncing off the walls.  He could jump all four feet off the floor and look me straight in the eye (I'm about 5-feet tall).  He did "small dog tricks" such as "sit pretty". His fur is the softest I've ever felt.  People always remark on how soft he is when they ask if they can touch him.  "oooooh, he's so soft!"  All that jumping and carrying on probably contributed to his very bad arthritis.  But Timba had arthritis, too, and she trudged forward until age 18.

2013 was rough for Hobie.  He was in the hospital twice, and we really thought we were going to lose him.  Thankfully, the vets were awesome and he pulled through and is as feisty as ever.  He even reminds me when it's time for his pain medication every 12 hours.  Never underestimate the ability of a companion pet to tell time!

So, happy 14th birthday to our Millennium Dog!

Filkin at LVF
Timba in Truro


Maggie May
Mr. Kitty 
Hobie and Hector


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Ireland is lovely, but where are the dogs?

I'm back from ten days in Ireland and England, and very happy to be home.  I missed my dogs and cats so much.

Charlie watching me eat on my first night home

Cali happy to have me back, basking in the morning sun

Ireland is lovely.  No, it's more than lovely, it's out-and-out gorgeous, stunning and breathtaking.  The people are friendly, fun-loving, kind and attractive.  But where are all the dogs?

We took a day trip through the countryside to the farming community of Armagh, and I looked and looked and looked, and didn't see one dog.  We even visited friends way, way out in the country.  For sure we'd see a dog, right?  At one point, someone said two dogs were cutting through the yard.  I leapt out of my chair, but they disappeared behind a hedgerow before I could see them.  I felt like a lost soul asking, "Did you say there were two dogs?  Where?!"  I'm sure these people thought I was nuts.

There were plenty of sheep, but where's the iconic, stereotypical collie that might be herding them?  Absent.

Sheep in a field in the Irish countryside, on our way to Northern Ireland

We all know the story of poor Lennox and his family from Belfast -- they were ordered to give up Lennox because of his resemblance to a bully breed.  The story went worldwide, and millions of people were up in arms about Lennox, signing petitions and so forth.  Ok, they were from Belfast, since we were going to Belfast the next day, I figured for sure...  Again, no dogs.

One of the famous political murals in Belfast, depicting "The Troubles"

Well, I stand corrected, we saw three dogs in Ulster when we stopped at the American Folk Museum on our way back from Belfast. The people who had a border collie attached to the baby stroller must have thought me insane as I kept smiling and gawking at the lovely creature, trying to take a picture of it (I gave up and didn't even ask).  The man with the Golden Retriever service dog must have been equally skeeved at my behavior towards his faithful companion as I grinned from ear-to-ear but did not approach since he was a service animal.  The little gray dog that I saw immediately upon disembarking from the bus couldn't wait to hop into his owner's car to gain a safe distance from the smiling American lady.  I couldn't help myself, it had been days since I'd seen a live canine!  We saw sheep, we saw burros, but only those three dogs.

Burros in Ulster

England wasn't much different, although I have been there umpteen times, and spent most of my time in the city, I know for a fact that dogs are not absent from England... but they were this time.  Perhaps it was all that rain.  After all, the Queen herself is often seen with her beautiful corgis in tow.

Sheep in Stonehenge (and traffic)

I know the complete opposite is going to happen on my next trip, which will take me to Puerto Rico. I'm prepared for it to be quite like Tobago, with too many stray, un-neutered dogs running loose. Perhaps I will be pleasantly surprised.  Stay tuned.

Stray dog in Tobago