Thursday, September 28, 2017

Bliss Asks: Did You Know National Walk Your Dog Week Begins This Sunday?

This Sunday, October 1st kicks-off an annual celebration that motivates pet owners to get moving: National Walk Your Dog Week! Established in 2010 by Pet Lifestyle Expert and Animal Behaviorist, Colleen Paige, National Walk Your Dog Week was created in an effort to promote health and wellness in pets and their owners while encouraging people to adopt.  

Statistics show that 40% of dogs in the US are overweight, Bliss included. I have a bad habit of giving her bits of food from my plate, a real no-no. I’m better about it today but still forget sometimes. I know it’s bad for her for several reasons and now at the ripe old age of 14, she has stomach issues. My fault.

I’ve found that just a 20-minute walk can make a huge difference in Bliss’ life and improve my health, too. In addition to helping your dog maintain a healthy weight, walking can release endorphins, lower blood pressure, and reduce troublesome behaviors.

There’s no doubt that the health benefits of walking are endless for both you and your canine, but finding the time and motivation to do so can sometimes be a challenge. As we gear up for National Walk Your Dog Week keep this in mind: dogs thrive on established routine. Here are some good reasons to start your own walking routine, all are Bliss approved:

1)    Take Time To Embrace Nature: Fall is very scenic, however, every season brings a beauty of its own. A great outdoor escapade with your pooch allows for you to take in nature and the fresh air. Whether you’re walking in a neighborhood, park, or hiking trail; take time to observe what is going on around you. Admire the birds chirping, leaves blowing in the wind or the sun setting on another day. Allowing your pup to sniff and explore the grounds is extremely beneficial to his mental stimulation as well. It’s the perfect time to enjoy the great outdoors together.

2)    Walking Strengthens Your Bond: Daily walks provide much-needed quality time for you and your pup. This time is extremely important to your dog’s behavioral development and will provide the foundation for a trusting relationship. It’s also a good time to work on training and socialization skills. As you stroll through the neighborhood, you’re bound to run into other people and pets. Dog walking will help you and your canine make friends and feel like part of the community.

3)    Cherish The Moment: Walking is a great opportunity for you both to clear your mind and be in the moment with each other. Unfortunately, a dog’s life is short and every day spent with them is a gift. Why not partake in an activity that contributes to better health and happiness for you both? Walking with your dog is one of the most enjoyable parts of being a pet parent. Be sure to love and treasure these precious moments! Woof!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Bliss and Seven Give Dog Friendly Carpinteria Two Paws Up!

If you like beautiful beaches, breathtaking mountains and lots of dog-friendly things to see and do, then don’t miss the city of Carpinteria, CA! Just ask Bliss and Seven. They love to visit the beach community with a small-town feel.

Rincon Park is beautiful, located on top of the bluffs, with picnic areas and a dog-friendly hiking trail. There is another trail with a separate set of stairs that leads dogs and their owners down to the beach. Dogs are allowed on the beach North of Rincon Creek. Your pet is welcome to join you at this fun park, as long as they remain on-leash. Dogs are not allowed on the beach South of Rincon Creek.

Rincon County Beach is dog-friendly. Bliss and Seven love to explore the little tide pools and sniff out some wildlife. Don’t worry, they’d never hurt another creature! The beach is located next to a private gated community on the Santa Barbara County line. The shape of the point makes this beach a catch for driftwood and seaweed that can be piled up onshore sometimes during the year. Lifeguards are not present, but swimming for both canines and humans is common.

Bliss and Seven enjoy strolling the town, especially when mommy’s in the mood to buy them presents. (And, when isn’t she?)  The whole city is filled with wonderful things to buy and most of the stores are dog-friendly. Bliss and Seven have to take mommy’s word that Robitaille’s Candies is not to be missed, but it’s the vintage and antique treasures that Bliss howls about. She’s so hip. There’s also a cool pet store, Lemos Feed & Pet Supplies, with huge boxes of cookies right at doggie nose level. Seven loves to hang out there with his head in one of the boxes, liver flavored hearts being his favorite.

Many of Carpentaria’s restaurants are dog-friendly. Bliss recommends dogs and their owners try Crushcakes & Cafe, especially if you like baked goods like she does. Everything is freshly made with love and that smell could drive a dog wild! Bliss and Seven are thrilled when mommy’s writing group, Tea With Toni, meets there because they get to lay on the cool patio cement and sometimes, mommy shares her eggs. Bliss and Seven are particularly fond of the group's pack leader Tony Lopopolo, a self-proclaimed dog lover and former New York Executive Editor who’s working with mommy on her memoir, Sleeps With Dogs

The story mommy got the PAWlizer for comes from the book. Toni’s helping her expand her knowledge and learn what's required of 21st Century memoirs. We’re all hoping when all is said and done, the book will “bow-wow” editors and agents and get mommy a publisher’s contract. Paws crossed.

For those who don't live within driving distance, BringFido says there’re four pet-friendly hotels in Carpinteria. Need help deciding where to stay with your dog? You can call 877‑411‑FIDO to have a Canine Concierge help you choose the perfect spot. All pet policy information is guaranteed and there are no booking fees! Woof!


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Bliss and Seven Visit the Golden Heart Ranch

Bliss and Seven brought their special kind of canine love to the Golden Heart Ranch in Agoura Hills. Golden Heart Ranch (GHR) provides young adults with intellectual and development disabilities opportunities to reach their full potential and enjoy meaningful, satisfying and joyful lives.

GHR was started by Rose van Wier Hein after learning that her youngest son Justin was Autistic. In the years that followed, Rose and her family learned to live a different life from the one they envisioned. It took some time to come to terms with the fact that Justin could not be “cured.”

Like so many children with special needs, Justin depended entirely upon his family for his care, love, and safety. And like so many special children Justin had never spent a night away from his home except on family vacations. Therefore when the time came for Rose to secure Justin’s future, she got to work.

First, Rose visited an incredible farm in the Netherlands. For the first time, the knot of fear regarding Justin’s future loosened. Parents, volunteers, and staff dotted the property providing guidance when needed. It was a community of harmony and peace. Rose left the farm that day knowing it was the answer to Justin’s future.

Together with a dedicated group of volunteers, parents and a very supportive community, Rose created a non-profit and built an exceptional ranch for young adults like Justin. GHR is a community that provides on and off site jobs, organic gardening, ranch style homes where, in the future, “Ranch Hands” can live permanently, equestrian therapy, recreation, friendships and opportunities for our young adults with special needs to reach their fullest potential in an environment that is physically and emotionally safe.

Golden Heart is the name Rose's mother calls Justin. It’s true that the young adults that visit GHR all have golden and innocent hearts. Rose's mission in life is to give these special kids a home that keeps their hearts golden and their belief in the goodness of people and life intact.

If this story touches your heart like it did mine, there are many ways you can get involved. Volunteer like Bliss and Seven, join the mailing list, donate your vehicle, become a sponsor, or shop GHR. It feels good to do something for someone else. Just ask Bliss and Seven.

Monday, September 18, 2017

I'm a PAWlizer Prize Winner!!!!!!

Bliss, Seven and I will be taking a road trip to Carmel CA next month to pick up my PAWlizer Prize for a short story I wrote about my beloved Baldwin. What's the PAWlizer Prize you ask? It's America’s 1st annual prize for the Best Dogged LITTERature.

Here's my winning story:

Disciples Of God
by Susan Hartzler

Before she died, mom bought me a rescue dog, a living memorial of her eternal love for me. This wasn’t just any rescue dog. Baldwin turned out to be a Puli, part of the herding group, a high-octane ball of fluff.

After I brought him home I realized he needed a job. I learned Pulix are sheepherders from their native Hungary, marveled at pictures of them driving hundreds of sheep from one spot to the other, their dreadlocks flying. I immediately signed up for sheep herding lessons, agility classes, canine freestyle, obedience training and just about every dog sport I could find but my little black mop of a dog needed more. That’s when I discovered Therapy Dogs International.

Baldwin turned out to be an ace student in the classes we took to get certified. When we completed the training to become a therapy dog team, I couldn’t wait to see what we could do.

Groomed and dressed in his new doctor’s scrubs costume, Baldwin squealed when we entered the parking lot at County USC Medical Center. He wiggled in the back seat, ready to get to work. Before we even got out of the car something changed. I could tell Baldwin knew therapy work would become my sweet dog’s life mission. Now I knew too.

Baldwin’s first assignment? To visit a special little girl recovering in the playroom from a round of chemo earlier that day. She sat there alone, couldn’t be around any other kids because of vulnerability to germs. The seven-year-old looked gaunt and tired, her complexion pale, almost transparent. With a frame so thin from her treatments, her cheekbones stood out, her eyes sunk in.

When Maria saw Baldwin, she took a deep breath and laughed out loud at my Muppet dog which brought some color back into her face. Before I could stop him, Baldwin hopped on the couch next to her and stretched his entire body across her lap. Maria loved it. She rubbed under his chin, he sighed, put his head down then closed his eyes, his breath a steady cadence. Maria inhaled deeply with him, looked better, healthier with every breath.

Baldwin spent an hour in that playroom on that little girl’s lap. Maria stroked him the entire time. Her boney hands moved over him in perfect rhythm, like someone praying the rosary: Hail Mary Full of Grace.

I realized later I witnessed a miracle. This high-energy dog who ran agility courses herded sheep and played ball for hours lay still doing exactly what this little girl needed. I thanked God for showing me grace in action, combined with mercy, awe, gratitude and unconditional love all wrapped up in Baldwin, my little black rescue dog. At that moment, I understood life is a gift.