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, 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

·      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