Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween 2012!

Happy Halloween!  Tonight was a great night for our little family!  Cooper and June had a blast helping Ben and me hand out candy to the trick or treaters.  Cooper was Eeyore and Junie was Minnie Mouse! 

Cooper was our greeter.  He is a very good boy off the leash and listens to voice commands.  He had an absolute blast greeting the kids as they walked up.  He would walk out to them and let them pet him.  He even sneaked in a kiss or two!  

June hung out on her leash with me.  She was a little nervous with all the commotion, but overall she was a happy girl.  She loved being able to sniff the trick or treaters and say hi.  It was good for her to get out and be social. 

It was great to see the kids interact with the dogs!  (I would have taken pictures, but I didn't want any of the parents to get weirded out.)  Some of the kids were a little apprehensive at first, especially since Coop is a big boy, but we held him and almost all of them wanted to pet Cooper and June even if they were a little scared at first.  Dogs have such a great effect on others!


My absolute favorite interaction between the dogs and trick or treaters was with a brother and sister.  They were both dressed up as Spiderman, but the girl was lady Spiderman.  They were super cute.  They were so excited to see the dogs that they forgot about the candy at first.  The brother asked what Cooper's name was and if he could pet him.  Oh of course!  He even asked for kisses!  Adorable!  Then his little sister wanted to pet Cooper and June.  The brother must not have seen June at first because he came running back when he saw his sister petting her.  "Oh I didn't see her!  What is her name?"  He was too cute!  Then both the kids grabbed their candy and ran back to their mom.  They yelled thank you as they went followed by, "Bye, Cooper! Bye, June!"  Oh these kids were after my own heart....they cared more about the dogs than the candy!  Absolutely adorable!

I hope you all had a wonderful and safe Halloween!

Thanks for stopping by!


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Monday, October 29, 2012

Cooper's Little Sister

Ben and I had been married for about four months.  We had moved into our new place in North Carolina and settled in to our new routine.  Ben was loving his normal schedule at his new command and I had finally found a job.  Cooper was settled in to our new place as well.  This was his fourth move since I adopted him so he is a pro at adjusting.  As long as he is with us, he is a happy brown dog.  It was now time for Cooper to make one more adjustment:  a sibling.

It was September 30, 2011.  Ben and I had finally decided to get our second four legged baby!  Oh I was so excited I just couldn't contain myself.  We were going to save another life and give that dog a second chance at life.  We were 100% sure we were going to adopt.  Other than that decision, we had no idea what type of dog we wanted.  We were just going to see which dog picked us...and oh she certainly did!

We packed up Cooper and went to the local SPCA of Northeastern North Carolina.  We took Coop so we could make sure he would get along with his prospective sibling.  (Don't worry...we called and got permission first to bring him!)  We pulled up to the SPCA and saw all of the dogs in the pens.  I couldn't help but smile.  Somewhere in there was our new baby!

The three of us got out of the car and headed toward the office.  One of the volunteers saw us coming and asked if we were surrendering.  Oh NO!! We came to adopt!!  We just wanted to make sure our dog got along with our new adoptee.  You could literally see the happiness spread across this man's face.  The volunteers and workers at this shelter love the animals so much!  It is a great thing to see so many wonderful people helping animals.

We walk into the office and talk to the ladies at the counter, Hope and Sabrenna.  They were wonderful!  We told them we had no idea what we were looking for, but that we just wanted to look around.  The shelter manager, John, (who is also awesome!) took us for a guided tour of the dogs. 

The ladies at the desk kept Cooper with them while we went on our tour of the dogs.  As we walked around, Ben and I commented on which dogs we thought were cute and I made a note of about ten names on piece of paper.  We then headed back to the front desk where we went through our list of names.  One of the many wonderful things about adopting is that the people at the shelter or rescue group get to know their dogs and can guide you towards a dog with a personality that will fit in with your lifestyle. Some of the dogs we thought were cute ended up not being a great energy level fit for us or Coop, who is a pretty mellow lab.

The first dog Ben and I both liked and wanted to meet was a hound named June.  We both had commented on how cute she was lounging like a sweet little girl.  We asked the ladies if Cooper could meet June to see how they got along.  They took us to the side of the building to a run where the dogs could be off leash and greet each other.  June was super cute!  She was so excited to meet Ben and me, but Cooper was too interested in the new smells to act one way or another.  We thought she was cute, but wanted to meet some other dogs to see if Cooper took to another one any differently.

The ladies brought us another small hound mix to meet.  Cooper wasn't such a fan of him.  He had a bit too much energy I think.  So we decided to meet dog number three.  Then all of a sudden, June came running over to our area and pounced on the fence!  She had escaped her pen and came back to us!  She was practically yelling at us, "ME! Pick ME! Look how adorable I am!"  Oh that made my heart melt!

Ben and I took that as a sign and ended up picking June.  She was adorable and Cooper seemed to like her just fine.  We headed back to the office to fill out the paperwork.  They suggested we foster her at first to make sure she blended well with Cooper and our family before adopting her for good.  We filled out the paperwork while June got her microchip and some heart worm medicine.  We picked out a purple collar for her and hooked her up to her new leash.  Now it was time to go home!  Home to get to know our new little girl.  What a wonderful feeling! 

As you can imagine, we decided to make June officially ours within the same day.  She was sweet and wonderful.  Badly behaved at times, but wonderful just the same!  I headed back to the shelter with her a couple of days later to officially adopt her! 

The staff at the shelter had filled us in on June's background.  She had been at the shelter for nine months.  Almost a whole year!  And since she was estimated to be three at the time, that means she had two years before the shelter took her in.  She was found as a stray and taken to the shelter by a man.  They believe she was a hunting dog that wouldn't hunt, so she was abandoned.  My poor sweet girl didn't have the best start in life, but I guarantee you that the rest of her life will be filled with love, happiness, and lots of snuggles!

We were thanked for considering a hound as a family pet.  Why wouldn't we?  They are so sweet and full of love.  They are truly great pets.  The staff at the shelter informed us that if dogs need to be put down for space, they go by breed after aggressive or ill dogs.  Hounds unfortunately are usually the first to go since there are so many.  We were truly glad to be able to go outside of the doggy box and take home a hound.  June is a life we are very grateful to have saved.

And so begins our next adventure!  June the foxhound!  We love our little girl so much.  Ben and I couldn't imagine life without her.  Please take the time to consider adopting outside of the box.  You never know who your next best friend might be! 

Thanks for stopping by!


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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hurricane Safety

Cooper in Raleigh, NC hiding out from hurricane Irene

News is buzzing here on the east coast about hurricane Sandy.  It is rated a category one at the moment, but you never know with mother nature.  It's always good to be prepared just in case, and don't forget about preparing for your dogs' safety as well!

I was browsing some pet blogs today, and I came across this great post from a blog called Leftovers 4 Dinner about preparing for your pets' safety in the event of a hurricane.  Please read her post at the following link:

Reading this post reminded me of last August when hurricane Irene made her appearance.  Ben and I only had Cooper at the time, and we wanted to ensure the safety of all three of us.  Hurricane Irene was a category three hurricane, but luckily it lost strength before hitting North Carolina and was a category one when it hit here.  Just in case it maintained or gained strength, Ben and I came up with a game plan.
We live right on the coast here in North Carolina since Ben is in the Navy.  After hearing all of the horrible stories of pets being left behind during hurricane Katrina's rescue efforts, I wanted to make sure Cooper was safe no matter what.  Ben and I decided it would be best to head a couple of hours inland for a few days.
Raleigh, North Carolina was our choice.  It was far enough off the shore to not be too dangerous, but close enough that it wouldn't take all day to get there.  I made a reservation at a pet friendly hotel. Please make sure to follow all rules and guidelines while travelling with your pets to ensure their safety.  For example, never leave them alone in your hotel room while you go out.  Anyone can get in your room, not to mention the anxiety your pet can go through in strange surroundings without you.
We packed up for a few days.  Cooper got all of the essentials: food, bowls, toys, collar, leash, seat belt, treats, medicine, a towel for when it rained, and a comforter to lay on the bed for him.  We also made sure to pack plenty of doggie bags to pick up after Cooper when he went to the bathroom.  Businesses and other guests appreciate responsible pet owners who clean up after themselves.  It is also a sanitary necessity to keep disease from spreading.  I also travel with a small first aid book for dogs just in case.  It always feels good to be prepared.
Cooper had a nice trip to Raleigh even though it was rainy.  We went to a local dog park; it was awesome!  That is where we took the picture of Coop at the beginning of this post.  Most of the weekend though we hung out in the hotel room together snuggling and having snacks.  I am pretty sure I brought the Kong and some peanut butter for Cooper, too.  He loves that!
Luckily, hurricane Irene was not very bad.  We headed back home and only saw minimal damage and standing water on the way.  Although we could have stayed home and been just fine, it felt good to have Cooper out of harm's way....just in case.
This year we have two doggies to think of.  We have been following the news coverage pretty closely, and Ben and I have decided to stay home this time.  We will leave if we have to, but we are hoping the news coverage is accurate. 
We do have plenty of water, food, and supplies in case we need them.  I am also going to fill up an extra pitcher or two of water (we have five gallons in the closet already) because Cooper loves his water!  Just make sure you are adding your pets' water and food consumption into your emergency plan so there is enough for everyone!
Another good thing to do before a hurricane, is to locate the nearest evacuation shelter that accepts pets.  Most shelters do not allow you to bring your pets, so please plan accordingly.  It is also wise to write down a list of emergency numbers, including your vet and emergency vet in case you need them.  You may want to physically write down the numbers in case you are unable to charge your cell phone and need to use a land line.  You never know what could happen!
If you have questions about what to pack in your emergency kit or where local evacuation shelters will be, contact your local SPCA or animal shelter.  They will be able to give you information that could end up saving your pet's life.  They are there to help! 
And keep your dogs close.  I am sure they will be scared with the strong winds and rain.  Snuggle time should help you all feel better.  I know snuggle time always makes me feel a million times better!
Be safe everyone!

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Separation Anxiety : Part 1

Anxiety isn't a good feeling for any of us.  There are so many things in life for us humans to be anxious about.  When we do get anxious, however, we can rationalize things, talk to a friend, or do any number of things to make us feel better.  Well, dogs can't talk it out, so they find other means to express their anxiety.  For example:

That just so happens to be my living room covered in shredded toilet paper.  Silly Mommy (me) didn't put away the brand new 16 pack double rolls of toilet paper before leaving for work.  And wouldn't you know that not a single roll out of 16 was left unscathed.  Boy oh boy my little girl had a field day while we were gone.  Now that you've seen what anxiety can do to your house, let me tell you how we solved the problem at our house.
Enter the crate: one of the most valuable tools you can have for training your dog, in my humble opinion.  Little miss June was crated everyday after this little toilet paper incident until we got her anxiety under control.  Three words for you: ROUTINE, ROUTINE, ROUTINE.  Dogs are creatures of habit, which I am sure you may already know.  They most certainly know when it is time for breakfast as well as dinner.  I would guess most of you don't even need an alarm clock.  "Excuse me, Mom, but it's 6:00am on the dot.....Could we have breakfast now?", they politely ask while laying on your head.  Aren't they lucky they are so darn cute?
The key for my husband and I to breaking June of her anxiety while we were at work was our routine.  We kept the dogs' schedule as rigid as our work schedules would allow.  We would feed them at the same time each day, let them outside at the same time each day, and put June in the crate at the same time each day.  One thing that is bad about routine, however, is that dogs are smart.  Pretty soon June didn't want to fall for the cookie in the crate routine anymore.  She still got crated; it was just a little more effort to get her in there.  She got used to her routine though, and she knew we would always be coming back to let her out at about the same time each day.  Having reliable parents will help put any dog at ease, but that is just the beginning.
There are other tools you can use to help your dog overcome separation anxiety.  One that is my personal favorite is the Kong.  The Kong is a durable rubber toy you can get at any pet store.  It is a great chew toy, but I have always used it to treat anxiety.  Here are your new best friends:

Now just take a dollop of peanut butter on a knife or a spoon and spread it inside the Kong like this:
You would probably need to use a little more than this.  I just used a little for effect because my model didn't need to eat too much peanut butter.  Also, you can freeze it overnight to make it last a little bit longer while you are gone.  Luckily, I found a willing model to show you how it works:
Oh, Cooper!  Ben and I think he looks like a bear with a beehive when he licks the Kong.  Adorable!  And don't worry, June got a spoon of peanut butter, too!
The Kong is a great tool.  Just drop it in the crate when you leave and your pup will be so excited about peanut butter that he/she will hardly notice you are gone! 
These few simple steps are just the beginning.  Stay tuned for Part 2!  If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions before I post Part 2, I would be happy to address them in my next post. 
Thanks for stopping by!

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My First Adoptee

The year was 2008.  I had just graduated from college earlier in May.  I was beginning my grown-up life working a full time job figuring out which path to take in life, but one thing was missing in my life since I had moved away from home to start college: a dog. 

I had always been around dogs.  It was so very hard for me to live at school for four years without the family dogs, Elwood and Hunter.  Every chance I got, I would go home to visit my parents and get some quality dog time.  I also visited my brother and sister-in-law and my four legged nephew, Toby.  As much as I loved all of these dogs, I wanted one of my own more than anything.  And that dog was much closer than I thought.

One day, I was talking to my sister-in-law when she asked me what I thought about the chocolate lab my mom found for adoption.  WHAT?!?!?!  Why was I not told about this?  Oh my goodness!  There is a lab for adoption?  Who? Where?  Well, my mom had refrained from telling me because she knew I wouldn't be able to say no.  She was worried I might not be quite ready since I was working a full time job and living alone.  Well, my dear sister-in-law didn't know I was in the dark, and I was so grateful she had filled me in.  I immediately went to my mom and wanted information.  A lady my mom knew through work was looking for a new home for her one year old chocolate lab, Cooper.  She and her husband had a small child and another one on the way.  With two full time jobs and two children, Cooper didn't get much attention.  Although he had the basics of food and shelter, Cooper needed more.  His family was good enough to see this and set out to find Cooper a better home and a more fulfilling life.

I immediately sat down at the computer and started e-mailing this lady as to exactly why I would be the perfect mom to Cooper.  I told her all about my love for dogs.  I went through all of our family dogs as well as the dogs I had taken care of for others while on vacation.  I went through my job history and assured her Cooper would have the best care and more love than any other dog.  I also told her how my wonderful brother and sister-in-law had agreed to help watch Cooper on the days I had to work late, so he wouldn't be in his crate all of the time.  I of course sent her photos of me with all of my beloved family dogs.  I must have impressed her because I got a response that Cooper was mine!!!  I can't even begin to tell you how exciting it was to get that e-mail!  Now all I had to do was set up a date to pick up my new dog.

The date was December, 29, 2008.  I will never forget this day.  I had on jeans and a yellow Purdue sweatshirt.  I grabbed an old Scooby Doo blanket for the backseat of my car and the leash, collar, and toys I had bought a week earlier.  My brother had agreed to go with me to help bring Cooper home.  Home!!  To my home!!  Oh, what a wonderful thought!  It was a two hour drive to pick up Cooper.  I was a bundle of smiles the whole way.  We finally made it to Cooper.  We pulled up and knocked on the door.  A very nice family greeted us.  And then a dirty Cooper jumped on us and greeted us!  Oh he was adorable.  The lady asked us if we were still interested after meeting Cooper.  YES!!  Oh of course I still want him!  He is adorable, muddy pawprints and all.  So we loaded Cooper's crate into my car, put the blanket down for him, and opened the door for Cooper.  He jumped right in, happy as a clam.  He was just going for a car ride.  He had no idea he was headed to his new life with his new mom.  My brother drove my car for me so I could pay attention to Cooper.  I gave him his new toy I had bought him.  What a happy dog!  He was in the back playing with it when I heard a squeak from the toy.  Oh, my baby squeaked his first toy!  I am not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that squeak brought tears to my eyes!  Cooper was mine now.  My boy.  My dog.

My brother was wonderful enough to stay with us long enough when we got back home to help give Cooper a bath.  Cooper was not used to baths at the time and was 76 pounds of "no thank you, I do not want a bath!"  It is amazing how much dirt can hide on a brown dog.  Fully washed and dried off, my brother left us to get to know one another.  Cooper of course had no problem worming his way into my heart.  It took about two seconds.  We watched some tv on the couch and then headed to bed.  He of course slept in bed with me.  I imagine it was the first night he had ever spent outside of his crate.  And what a wonderful ending to a perfect day! 

That was the beginning of our wonderful life together.  Adopting Cooper was the most wonderful feeling.  I can't even describe it.  Sharing your home with a dog in need of your love and affection is the greatest thing you can do for that dog.  Please, adopt your next best friend today from your local shelter or rescue group!  You won't regret it!


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