Sunday, November 23, 2014

Bliss loves her Sportz-Vibe!

Being the guardian of two busy Australian Shepherd dogs, I am always looking for natural products to improve the well-being of Bliss and Parker. At ten years old, I really have to be carefully with my Bliss. She wants to keep up with two-year-old Parker but her body is just not as agile as it used to be and I worry that she could get hurt.

I know about all the health benefits of massage for canines (and for humans too). In the past, when I had the cash, I spent lots of money to have my dogs professionally massaged. After all, she was a professional athlete, excelling in dog agility, dock diving, canine freestyle and sheep herding. In recent years, she has slowed down but still loves to live an active life. So when I learned about Sports-Vibe, a lightweight portable massage blanket, I just had to have one for Bliss.

I've tried other doggie massage products but what I like about this one is how easy it is to use. All I have to do is plug in the rechargeable battery, put the vest on Bliss, turn on the switch and voila: the perfect doggie massage! Bliss can lie down or walk around while getting massaged and she seems to really enjoy it.

It took me a few times to get Bliss comfortable with the massage blanket but now that she has felt the healing vibe, she actually helps me put it on her! I am happy too knowing that the Sportz-Vibe massage blanket increases the circulation to her back and hips. The increase in blood flow makes tendons and ligaments more elastic and helps bring oxygen and nutrients to the areas. Massage also helps reduce what I believe is the root of all problems for canines and humans alike: the dreaded inflammation. It does this by stimulating the lymphatic system and remove toxins.

I am letting all my friends know that the benefits of the Sportz-Vibe for their high-performance dogs. Imagine using this as a warm up blanket before you enter the agility ring. Or, for anyone who's precious canine has undergone surgery, this is the perfect recovery blanket to help ease soreness and stiffness. It can also naturally relax the sore muscles of older dogs like Bliss. The bottom line is that dogs of any age can suffer from back or hip problems. Why wouldn't  you want to help ease their pain with this natural product?

Perfect Christmas gift for any dog lover! Just go to www.sportzvibe.com/dogs.php to order one today! Also available for horses.





Just visit you want to

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Finally, An Alternative To The E-Collar!!!!


I don't know about you but whenever either of my dogs need to be protected from scratching and licking a wound,  or are recovering from surgery, the drama is overwhelming. I had my boy Parker fixed last year and literally tried every collar on the market. Being a smart Australian Shepherd, Parker figured out how to get out of each one. Had I known about the Cover Me by Tui, my life would have been much more pleasant for those ten days of recovery. 

Cover Me by Tui is the most comfortable and effective alternative to the E-Collar. The post-surgical pet garment comes in a range of colors, options and sizes to fit any dog’s needs. A perfect alternative to the “Lamp Shade” style Elizabethan Collars that cause your pet to be uncomfortable, the garment also acts in a calming way to keep your pet from licking or chewing. 

"Working in a veterinary clinic for years, i was continually asked by clients what could be used in place of an e-collar, and i would recommend they go to a local retail store to get  onesie for infants," explains Stephanie Syberg, creator of the Cover Me by Tui. "Unfortunately, if their pet was larger than a Chihuahua I didn't have an answer, so I started developing the concept."

This brilliant new product prevents licking and chewing at surgical sutures and hot spots; is adjustable and comes in seven sizes with your choice of short or long sleeves; is made of soft, breathable, machine washable cotton; includes a built-in "Potty Cover" for quick and convenient trips outside; and comes in two styles: the Step Into and the Pullover.
The cost runs anywhere from $10.98 to $39.95, depending on size and style. For more information and to order online, please visit their website.



Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bliss Says You've Got To Visit Dog Friendly Morro Bay, California

My BFFs, Kim Ostrovsky and Bliss in Morro Bay.
Dog lovers traveling to the beautiful city of Morro Bay along the coast of Central California can bring their canine along for the trip. Not only are there several dog friendly places to stay, there are also 11 dog-friendly restaurants in this quaint seaside village, not to mention the many pet-friendly places and activities to discover.

The restaurants on the waterfront offer great bayside views and delicious meals for owners and their pups. Bliss came with me recently on a girlfriend's getaway to this picture-perfect destination. 
Here are a couple of our favorite places to eat:

Waiting to eat at Bayside Cafe!
Dorn’s Breakers Cafe serves only the freshest seafood primarily from local waters with amazing views of the famous Morro Rock. A local favorite, Dorn's has quite a history that dates back to 1942. The night we ate there, it was too windy to sit outside on the dog-friendly patio so Bliss waited in the car and took a much needed nap after a busy day exploring while we dined and had a great time. The next morning, we went back to try out the dog friendly patio (and the delicious breakfast). Dorn's is also open for lunch and although we considered eating all three meals there, we decided to try another spot. What impressed us most was the wonderful, fresh cuisine and friendly service for both two legged and four legged guests.

Then there's the Bayside CafĂ© located in the back bay on the Marina. Bliss joined us on the patio for a delicious meal on a lovely sunny afternoon. The cafe was originally opened in 1986 by Cal Poly graduate Dawn Borst as a "walk up" serving her own personal recipes. It became so popular so quickly that Dawn had to expand. Try the California Chowder, burritos, fish tacos and albacore skewers. You may have to wait for your table but the view makes it go by quickly. Don't forget to order the Mud Pie for desert but don't give any to your dog!

While you're in Morro Bay, Bliss recommends you take your dog to one of the off leash dog beaches along the Central Coast of California. The one she enjoyed is just north of Morro Bay on the way to Cayucos. This two mile stretch of sandy shoreline is a great place for a playful afternoon or a full beach day with your BFFs.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Bliss in Redding, California!





In the majestic mountain and lake filled region in the north eastern corner of California lies Redding and Shasta Cascade, one of America’s most spectacular, pristine and DOG FRIENDLY regional destinations. Boasting 300+ days of beautiful weather a year, this area is rich in culture and heritage offering boundless outdoor recreation with magnificent landscapes and breathtaking vistas. From towering volcanoes, alpine ranges and glaciers to endless waterfalls, lush forests, pristine lakes and roaring rivers, this travel destination is one of a kind.
Known as the trail capital of California with over 200 miles of hiking, (many dog friendly), Redding is an outdoor adventurers dream. Not only are they known for endless trails, but with an abundance of nearby lakes, rivers and streams, everything from kayaking and paddle boarding to boating and fishing is available here. On top of the trials and the rivers, California’s Shasta Cascade contains seven national forests, eight national and state parks, and several mountain ranges including the Trinity Alps, the northern Sierra Nevada and the California Cascade range. Not to mention two massive glaciated volcanoes: the dormant 14,162 foot Mt. Shasta and the still-active 10,457 foot Lassen Peak.
Among the first cities covered by DogTrekker.com, this breath-taking region is brimming with dog-friendly hotels, resorts, restaurants, shops, tours, historic sites, dog parks, cabins and vacation rentals. There are plenty of areas for dogs and their owners to explore where rivers, mountains, wildlife and spectacular scenery collide. There are also dog-friendly events including the annual Ducky Derby, Art in the Park and the Bark, Wine and Brew celebration.
On a recent visit, Bliss had a blast! She went paddle boarding, kayaking, hiking and Whiskeytown National Recreation area where beautiful sapphire-blue waters are surrounded by mountain peaks. At the end of the day, Bliss fell right to sleep at TownPlace Suites, a dog friendly hotel that is convenient to Turtle Bay Exploration Park and Redding Civic Auditorium, within close proximity of Sundial Bridge, Whiskey Town and Lake Redding. We stopped for lunch at Buddha Bowl, a dog friendly low-key restaurant that is a locals favorite, featuring gluten-free (highly addictive) concoction of brown rice, red beans, chicken or tofu, avocado, shredded cabbage, jalapenos, cilantro and two sauces (a sesame and soy-based dressing and a spicy garlic chili aouli). YUM!
Check out this slide show of Bliss in Redding!


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sleeping Doggie Beauty!

Being the guardian of a busy Australian Shepherd who loves to be the center of attention keeps me on my toes. Considering I like to take Bliss everywhere with me, and she's a therapy dog who visits children in the hospital, I had to come up with a way for her to show off her talents in any situation. Being a writer, I started to string tricks together into little vignettes in the form of Fairy Tails. The first was “Sleeping Doggie Beauty,” starring Bliss, of course. Now you and your dog can entertain and amaze humans wherever you go!


“Sleeping Doggie Beauty”

Props: Tiara, Feather Boa
Behaviors: Shake, Sit up, Speak, Weave through legs, Hide (behind your back), Roll over, Play dead (Go to sleep), Jump in the air.
Level: Intermediate

Sleeping Doggie Beauty
Once upon a time, there was a Princess named ___________
Have dog give you its paw
She liked to sit pretty on her throne
Dog sits up on hind quarters
She liked to speak to her constituents
Cue dog to speak
And she liked to walk through the forest
Dog weaves through legs
One day, she was walking through the forest and she saw a scary witch so she hid
Dog hides behind your back
But the witch saw her and placed a spell on her
Dog rolls over
So she fell asleep
Dog lies on side with head down
Until her handsome prince came and woke her up to dance all night!
Dog jumps in the air for cookie

Step-by-step instructions:

The Sit
·      Hold treat above nose
·      Guide dog by raising treat slightly above its nose
·      When he sits, give verbal command, “Sit”
·      Keep food close to the nose the entire time
·      Praise and reward in position
·      Say the command only once
Hand Signal: Hold hand palm up facing toward you at waist level.

Give Paw (Shake, High Five and Wave)
·      Kneel in front of your dog and pick up its paw
·      Place dog’s pad on your open palm about dog’s shoulder height
·      Reward (Fine Dining) as long as dog’s paw is in your palm
·      If dog removes paw, remove treat
·      If you run out of treats, release paw
·      Cue verbal command, “Shake,” as long as dog holds position
Tip: Reward only while in position
Hand Signal: Hold hand palm forward at waist level.

Sit up (Beg, Pretty Please, etc.)
·      Start with dog sitting in front of you
·      Lure into sit by holding treat over dog’s nose, slightly out of reach
·      Let dog stretch up for treat while sitting
·      Help it raise front feet by gently lifting them
·      Say command, “Sit Pretty”
·      Reward dog in position.
Tip: This position requires the dog to have a strong core to support its spine. While training, position dog against a support such as a couch or wall to build up core muscles.
Hand Signal: Hand above dog’s head, palm facing toward floor.

Speak (Start training by capturing dog’s natural behavior)
·      Have someone knock on the door
·      When dog barks, cue verbal command, “Speak”
·      Reward
Hand gesture: Finger on side of your face

Weave through legs
·      Start with dog in heel position (on your left side)
·      Place your feet a little more than shoulder width apart
·      With treats in both hands, lure dog with left hand to turn into you
·      With right hand, lure dog through your legs to your right side
·      Repeat from right to left, luring dog from left hand
·      Reward dog each time
Hand gesture: Hands at both sides of your legs.

Dog hides behind back
·      Lure dog to hide behind you
·      Reward while in position behind your back
·      Cue verbal command, “Hide”
Hand gesture: Hand behind your back.

Roll over (From down position)
·      Lure dog’s head to middle of his body until he transfers weight to one hip.
·      Lure into rolling onto his back and onto other side.
Tip: Luring is helpful while dog has its paws in the air.
Hand gesture: Hand in circular motion in front of dog.

Sleep/Play Dead (This is one of the more difficult to train)
·      Put dog in down position
·      With treat in hand, get dog to transfer weight to one hip until lying on its side
·      Lure head to floor
·      Keep treat close to dog’s nose to keep its head down
·      Fine Dine, then quickly slide treat away and instantly back along floor
·      Reward, while repeating verbal cue, “Sleep”
·      Repeat and lengthen time away from dog’s nose
Hand gesture: Circle wrist, then open palm

Dance
·      Lure dog on hind legs with a treat
·      Use command “Dance” when dog is up on hind legs
·      Add seconds to time and lure in a circle
·      Use treats or toys
Hand gesture: Hand above head.

The Down
From Sitting Position
  1. Stand in front of your dog.
  2. With your dog sitting, place a treat in your fingers and lure his head down between his front paws. Pull lure (toy or treat) forward until his elbows are on the ground and he has settled into the down position. Applying gentle pressure or stroking over his shoulders will encourage him to lower his body and keep his hind end on the floor.
Hand Signal: Point finger towards floor.

From Standing Position
  1. Stand in front of your dog.
  2. With your dog standing, lure him by lowering food or a toy straight down between his front paws until he lowers his elbows to the ground and folds back on his haunches. (This is faster than Down from a Sit.)
Hand Signal: Point finger towards floor.

The Stay
Note: The most important part of the Stay is the Release. “OK!” “Finish!” “Release!” are some verbal release commands to choose from.
  1. Work your dog on a 6-foot leash
  2. Ask for a sit
  3. Facing your dog, say the command, “Stay,” once.
  4. Combine verbal command with hand signal: Open palm facing dog.
  5. Step back one step, count two seconds (silently), return to your original position and reward. If your dog does not break, try stepping back two steps, then three, etc., until you can go to the end of your leash without him breaking the sit.
  6. Remember to quickly return and reward after each sequence of steps.
  7. Your job is to smile and repeat in a calm, low, encouraging voice, “Good Stay.”
  8. If he breaks, move in quickly, put him back in the position and request the “Stay” again. Smile.
  9. As he becomes confident in the behavior, add more time and distance.
Tip: It is essential not to rush the process. Do not add distance or time until you know your dog will not break.
Hand gesture: Open palm facing dog. If dog is in heel position, fingers are facing toward floor; if facing your dog, fingers face up as in the “Stop” signal.

The End





Thursday, August 14, 2014

5 tip for Senior Pets


"Blessed is the person who has earned the love of an old dog" Sydney Jeanne Seward

I can't believe my Australian Shepherd Bliss is 10 years old and my cat Cyd is turning 18! According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), that's not so unusual. In fact, pets are living longer and healthier lives thanks to developments in veterinary care and dietary habits. However, that doesn’t change the fact that their health begins to decline in their senior years at around the ages of six or seven.
“Pets age at a much faster rate than humans. For every one human year, a pet ages seven,” says Dr. Mitsie Vargas a veterinarian based in Winter Haven, Florida. “When you think about that and put that into perspective, then you realize how important taking your pet for a checkup twice a year is… that is when a lot of situations can be found out earlier and treated cheaper and with a better outcomes,” added Vargas.
Follow these simple tips to ensure a pet’s senior years are also its golden years:
1) Increase veterinary visits
Senior pets should be taken to the veterinarian twice a year, instead of only once a year. Semi-annual visits allow veterinarians to detect and treat any signs of illness early. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA.org) has a few tips to make veterinary visits a little better for everyone click HERE for more.
2) Look out for changes in behavior
Before any medical symptoms appear, behavioral changes can provide signs that something is wrong. Examples of behavior changes include confusion, decreased interaction with humans, house soiling, changes in sleep cycles, and more. Also watch for weight changes because those can be a sign that something's wrong.
3. Consider modifying diet and nutrition
As pets age, their dietary needs change. Senior pets may need easily digestible foods or foods with different calorie levels and ingredients that include anti-aging nutrients.
4. Keep pets physically active
Just as with older humans, it is very important to keep senior pets moving. Maintaining mobility through appropriate exercise will help keep them healthier. Bliss just went swimming this morning at the beach. Swimming is a great physical activity for senior dogs. Make sure you also play stimulating games with your senior pets.
5. Be aware of pet health risks and symptoms.
Some pet breeds and lifestyles have increased risks associated with them. For instance, dogs and cats that have not been neutered or spayed have a higher risk of developing mammary, testicular, and prostate cancers. As pets get older they develop many of the same illnesses that are present in humans such as cancer, heart disease, kidney and urinary tract diseases, diabetes, and even senility. 
These five tips will help maximize a pet’s senior years, but always check with veterinarians for specific guidelines on pet care.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Bliss gets a brother!

A few months ago, Bliss and I met a woman at the Ventura Pier who told us about a young Blue Merle Aussie male possibly looking for a new home. I told her I have had terrific luck getting Aussies re-homed through Aussie Rescue SoCal and would be happy to meet with the owner and discuss options. It took a couple months but I finally got the call and that very same day, met the dog.

His name was Chunky because he was the chunkiest little guy in the litter. When I first met him at a little over a year old, he was sleek and thin, in perfect shape. I brought him out to the beach to introduce him to Bliss and learn his back story. Bliss seemed to like him as they romped in the waves.

His original owner's girlfriend had a litter of puppies with her adult Aussie to share "the beauty of childbirth" with her special needs daughter. So much for the lesson. The mama dog hid under their house and gave birth there.

The puppies were beautiful, a litter of eight, and easily found forever homes. The breeder's boyfriend fell in love with little Chunky and decided to keep him for himself.

Chunky had a good childhood...was not abused or neglected...but his owner worked in the entertainment industry and had to leave the little guy in his condo, alone, for hours a day. The situation just wasn't working any longer so he decided to do what a responsible pet owner should do -- find the pup a more suitable home. I discussed several options with him like doggie daycare but as the morning went on, it was clear that he had tried everything and just wanted what was best for his dog.

I had lost my boy Baldwin a couple years earlier. Bliss and I went though the grief and agony of his loss together but I was feeling like it might be time to start thinking about getting Bliss a sibling. I wanted Bliss to help me train whatever dog I brought into our pack. It had to be a special dog, one that would not challenge my girls' spot as alpha. Watching them play at the beach made me question if this was the dog and if now was the time. When Parker ran to me and sat on my foot, I knew he would be staying with me and Bliss.

I renamed him Parker after Peter Parker. He's a superhero dog, his special power: love. Here's where this story gets interesting. His original owner and I worked out an arrangement where he still gets to spend time with Parker while Bliss and I get to enjoy day-to-day life with this bundle of energy! At least once a month, Parker spends the night with his original owner. It is so heart warming to see them together. There is so much joy and love between the two of them.

For my end of the deal, his original owner is paying for everything -- from food and vet to training and treats. Plus, when I have to go out of town on business, I can leave both dogs with him and his girlfriend!

I wanted to share this adoption success story in case there's anyone out there who reluctantly needs to re-home their dog. Parker gets to go to the beach 2-3 times a day and has so many doggie friends! I am currently training him to join Bliss as a Therapy Dog and visit children in the hospital. Today, we're going out to a ranch where Parker will get to herd sheep! He has definitely made a difference for Bliss because she has to make sure he's not doing anything wrong. He takes her corrections in stride, just happy to be the lucky dog that he is...