Game Face

If this name sounds familiar, it might be because you took part in our giveaway at the beginning of this year. We featured some amazing SquishyFace Studio products, and talked a little bit about some of the reasons that this company and its founders are so near and dear to our hearts.

Unfortunately, until now we were not able to add any of their toys to the toy-treasure-chest in our home, and I had placed them on the dogs’ Christmas Lists as something we may be able to order at the end of this year. However, luck was smiling down on me because I happened to win an awesome giveaway from SquishyFace just a few weeks ago! I wasted little time and used the generous gift certificate to order a toy bundle, which contains a flirt pole and super tug.

Photo courtesy of SquishyFace Studio

Photo courtesy of SquishyFace Studio

We have our mail delivered to the local post office, and when J. picked up our mail, he said that our friend who works behind the counter was very curious as to what was inside this package. I’m not really sure that I want to know what her guesses may have been!

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As you can see, the dogs were equally as inquisitive. How is it that our dogs always seem to know when something is designated for them?!

DSC_0070 DSC_0071 DSC_0073This is when the fun really began. I have to be honest and say that one reason I’m such a fan of SquishyFace toys, is because TONKA seemed to be enthralled by them. Of course, both girls loved them as well, but they love anything that we get them excited about. Tonka loves to play, but is also the most mature of our group, so he sometimes doesn’t get as worked up for things. However, he could not have been more pumped about these toys. He would. not. stop. playing with them, and even after I put them away, my always-obedient boy climbed up on the counter to get them down. He then slunk over to me, toy in his mouth, with a tiny wag of his tail, like ‘I know I’m not supposed to do that, but can we please keep playing?’ If you can resist his ways, you are a meaner stronger person than I!

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I think I will just let most of the pictures speak for themselves. Except to say, you should really, really add some of these toys to your home! We just love how they not only work your pup’s mind & body, but they also encourage owners to get out and play with their pets, instead of just watching from the sidelines.

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Dating to Find Your Doggy Daddy

As an old, married woman, it is safe to say that my ‘dating’ years are behind me, along with those wild nights out with all my single ladies…. actually, I don’t think it quite makes sense to say that they are behind me, because I never really experienced them. I turned 21 right around the time I started dating J, and let’s just say that at that time I had no interest in meeting my future husband, so you could argue that I don’t know much about dating. I have officially only been hit on in a bar one point five times. One of those times, J came to the rescue, and I experienced my first bar fight! The other, I was playing mom at my friend’s bachelorette party, and so I don’t think it really counts. He probably thought I was a wealthy old cougar or something. However, I have lots of gorgeous, single friends who are wading the dating waters, and I am lucky enough to be the first person they call to bail them out of an awful date, strategize the second date proposal, and compare the benefits of SITC living to domesticated bliss. I’m like a dating therapist, people.

Nevertheless, I wonder what life would be like if I were dating with dogs. I can only compare it with what I imagine life would be like when dating with children. There is that tricky dilemma of how much to talk about your dog on the first few dates, lest you appear to be a CDL (crazy dog lady, obviously). Then there is that important question, useful to predict your compatibility: admitting each of your ‘numbers’ (of course I mean max number of dogs people, get your minds out of the gutter!) Oh, and then, how long should you wait? I mean, you don’t want to rush things before introducing your potential mate to your four-legged partner-in-crime. Too soon, and you might appear easy, but wait too long, and it might seem as though you are playing hard to get!

Then there is the looming obstacle: what if your new beau and your pup don’t hit it off? What if he just isn’t “doggy-daddy” material? Maybe he is more of a ‘cat-person,’ or perhaps he believes that dogs belong outside (I wrote a post about one of those crazy guys, here). Rather, it might be your dog that doesn’t take kindly to having his or her relationship infringed upon… either way, what would you do? You need to think about it… is this a person that can handle dog hair on the furniture? Cold noses and wet kisses? Post-coital cuddles with Princess? If not, I’m sure you have already determined that they simply are not romantic material.

If you’re reading this post, you probably look at your social circle in a way that is similar to my own perspective: there are two types of people – animal lovers, and then there is everyone else. Or further, dog people and cat people. Now, maybe you have a severe feline allergy, or perhaps it’s just your dog that has an issue with kitties. Either way, my advice is to seek out the dudes you know will be dog-friendly… two dogs, one ball and all of that. I’m sure you’re sitting there thinking that you’ve already met all of the humans at the local dog park. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably pretty proud of the fact that you’ve finally managed to remember some of their names, as opposed to only memorizing the names, lineage, and social status of their dogs’. But in today’s society, where one in five couples meet online, why not take your search for a doggy daddy to the interwebz? Nowadays, there are plenty of online dating options out there for the dog-obsessed, and a simple google search may land you a ‘tall, dark, and handsome,’ four paws included: You Must Love Dogs, Date My Pet, Pet People Meet, Love me Love my Pets, just to name a few. Here, you can use your dog to your advantage, as either the ultimate wing-man, or the cock-blocker. For example, on a fabulous date with a fellow dog lover, and not ready for the night to end? Suggest that he bring over his cock…er spaniel, for a little late-night play date. Conversely, on an awful date and need a swift exit strategy? Of course, any dog lover would understand your need for haste if your pup is sick!

When you think about it, it makes sense. We’ve been spoiled by Fido’s unconditional love, and we needs someone who understands that level of devotion. Some might say that we’ve developed high standards, but if you’re amazing enough to deserve those standards, then why not?

What I mean by that, is that if finding a fellow single, attractive, sane, dog lover isn’t working out for you, you could just establish your online dating profile at a more ‘normal’ dating site like Match.com or eHarmony. There, you could highlight all of the reasons any man would be lucky to end up with a fetch catch like you:

1) Easy-going: As evidenced by the dog hair and slobber covering every surface of your apartment. No OCD, neat-freaks here! Not to mention all of the chewed shoes, destroyed remotes, and scratched floors… no one could accuse you of being materialistic!

2) Selfless: Comfortable putting your own needs aside for the sake of others. For proof, just reference your calendar, with a plethora of Sophia’s grooming, nail-trimming, training, agility, and veterinary appointments. (On second thought, maybe don’t admit this one.)

3)Outdoorsy: Basically, you just spend a lot of time at the dog park.

4) Reliable: You know, as in your commonalities with the United State Postal Service. “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays this courier dog owner from the swift completion of their appointed rounds potty duties.” Come to think of it, the regular 5 am wake up calls for Sam’s walks? Why, you’re a prompt and pleasant morning person! No lazy mornings spent in bed for you!

5) Generous: $100 bags of organic dog food, $200 monthly Nylabone and Kong budget, $50/day at doggy daycare… you are a giving person who would never place the value of financial security over the way you make your loved ones feel!

www.glasbergen.com Randy Glasbergen

http://www.glasbergen.com Randy Glasbergen

And if you’re still unsuccessful, there’s always dog dating sites. No, not like I mentioned above. I’m talking about dating sites FOR your dog. I mean, just because you’re not getting lucky, doesn’t mean that Ginger shouldn’t either, right? There are now a variety of websites created to accommodate the needs of your picky pup, whether you are searching for a pooch play mate or a breeding pair. (Just make sure your dogs are practicing safe sex, people!)

Disclaimer: These suggestions and tips are offered in jest. They are meant to make you smile as you wade the murky dating waters. In truth, the age old advice applies – be yourself, and you will find someone who will love you for it! (Unless you are a cat person. Then you’re screwed.)

Helping an Angel Find her Wings

One of our concerns when we made the decision to adopt Georgia, was that we wouldn’t be able to make our mark in the world of animal rescue. However, that couldn’t have been further from the truth! Without all of the time I was devoting to her training and ‘rehabilitation’, as well as marketing her and working to find her perfect adoptive family, I am able to spend that much time volunteering in the rescue in other capacities.

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A few weeks ago, J and I were able to assist this sweet little angel on her path to a forever home!

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And when I say ‘angel,’ I mean spit-shined halo, fluffy wings, and stars in her eyes… this girl was about as close to perfect as I’ve seen! She was totally house-trained, mellow yet affectionate, and incredibly obedient. She was friendly with our cat and gently curious with the dogs (we chose not to allow them to meet face-to-face).

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She came from a shelter in Tennessee, along with the name Darcy, and 8 adorable puppies! They had been in the shelter since May, and the shelter workers and volunteers were desperate to get the little family out.

4Thankfully our rescue, A Positive Promise, stepped up to bring her and the pups to safety. She made sure that we were able to feel the full effects of her gratitude!

1We picked her up on a Saturday in State College (We are!) and brought her home for the evening. She snuggled right in bed with me, slept soundly through the night, and was ready to go only once I’d gotten out of bed the next morning. We loaded her up in the truck and made the trek toward OH, where her foster (to-adopt!) family would be meeting us!

Darcy's puppies, with their fosters!

Darcy’s puppies, with their fosters!

She has been in their home for a few weeks now, and after a little bit of a bumpy start, the future is looking bright for all involved! I have been counseling her foster family on the benefits of the two-week de-stress, as well as positive reinforcement training, slow introductions to their other dog (another APP alum, Ringo, a handsome deaf pittie!), and issues with mild leash-reactivity. They are so dedicated to helping make Darcy (now Ruby!) a happy member of their family. She is truly in ‘heaven’ and definitely seems to be in love with her brother. I call it a match made in heaven!

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6Let’s send lots of positive thoughts and warm-wishes their way!

 

Common Sense Dog Training (+ video)

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We interrupt the regularly scheduled blog post to bring you much wiser, much more insightful, and much more interesting content 😉 I began watching this and was instantly hooked. If only all dog owners would take the time to learn this information! Enjoy. I would love to hear your thoughts!

“Is (S)He friendly?”

(Disclaimer: This topic was first discussed here, at Doggerel. All inspiration for this post goes to them, but the thoughts and opinions expressed here are our own.)

Whenever we are out walking the dogs, or just out in public with them in general, we are often approached by people who ask us this question: “Is he/she friendly?”

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I should start with the positive. I certainly appreciate the respect of checking in with the owner, as opposed to rushing up to a dog hands-first. I recognize that this is the average-person’s way of asking for permission before they begin interacting with the dog. I should also say that at least in our area, we do not see a ton of breed discrimination. While I know other people have opposite experiences, I do not think that the majority of the times this question has been posed to us, it had anything to do with our dogs breeding or physical characteristics. And that is awesome!

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On to the negative… what in the heck is my response supposed to be to such a question?! Of course, my dogs are polite, well-adjusted members of the canine society. They are certainly not mean or aggressive. The problem with such a question, is that the speaker is typically looking for a brief yes or no answer, and unfortunately for most dogs and their responsible owners, that is not a satisfying option. What does “friendly” mean to you?

In that small window of time when they are quickly advancing on my dog(s), potentially with a child or other animal in their immediate vicinity, how am I supposed to get across to them the specifics of my dog(s)’ personality(s)?

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For example, Gaige is incredibly friendly, to a fault. So much so, that if not properly exercised and managed, she may accidentally enthusiastically knock over your small child. She may also cover it in kisses… is that something you are comfortable with? In more dramatic scenarios, she may overwhelm another dog and instigate it, oblivious to its warning signs. So while she is not at all aggressive with other dogs, she is not a dog I feel comfortable allowing to greet another dog on-leash, face-to-face without a slow introduction. So how would you answer that question with Gaige at the end of your leash?

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As for Tonka, he loves people of all kinds. He will sit quietly and obediently for your child to visit. He is generally great with other dogs, but has had some bad experiences and can be a bit guarded or grumpy with new dogs, especially males, and especially when on-leash. However, I certainly don’t want to label him as being “un-friendly,” because that isn’t him at all!

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Finally there is Georgia. Most of you know that she isn’t consistent in her reactions to other dogs, so it is easy to ask handlers of strange dogs to keep their distance. But again, I do not necessarily want her to be labeled as “un-friendly” just because she takes a little time to warm up. Further, she is as sweet as can be with people, and will happily lean up against you for a rub or snuggle. However, new people sometimes make her nervous. While I have never seen her act inappropriately with strangers, I never want to put my dogs in an uncomfortable position just because I believe that they will not react negatively. Conversely, when overexcited, Georgia may try to jump. As comfortable as some people say they may be with this behavior, it is not behavior that I want to condone or reward in my dogs. Just because she is “friendly” does not necessarily mean I want someone running up to her and loving all over her when she is jumping on them.

Aside from the difficulty in defining the term ‘friendly,’ as well as striving to quickly sum up the behaviors and preferences of our dogs’ interactions, it is important to note that this question is essentially asking for a guarantee as to your pets’ predicted reaction. NEWSFLASH: whether or not my dog is ‘friendly,’ that is not permission for you to advance and throw caution to the wind, with the assurance that this dog will react appropriately to your every action. It is important for us to remember that just because we have a thorough understanding of canine body language and appropriate behavior around dogs, does not mean that everyone does. So how do we quickly sum up the appropriate ways to approach our dogs, without sounding like a crazy dog person, or making our dogs look bad? Add into the mix that I am often walking multiple dogs at once, and you can understand why this question makes me bristle.

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Fellow dog owners, do you get this question? If so, do you have a kind and succinct response to it? What do you prefer to be asked before someone approaches your dog?

One-Year Anniversary

It’s official.. we have been blogging here at And Foster Makes Five for a full year! Can you believe it? Georgia has become such an integral part of our lives, that it is difficult to remember what life was like before her. I love to read back to old posts, and the memories come flooding back. Like when we first met her, finding her flaw, and her best trait. Then there was the time we discovered her talents as a housewife, her beauty marks, and her Halloween costume. Ohh, and what about the time we shared everything we were thankful for? Some might say that was the beginning of the end… Of course, there is the letter to Tonk, one of my favorites. Then we begin the journey into the shadows, when we have our first meet and greet, and that result.  I begged Santa for a home for our girl (he is a trickster, that guy), and showcased the bond I share with her. And what about our friend Charlie, do you remember him?! We helped to save him from NYC death row! As the new year rolled in, we shared the Top 10 Reasons to adopt Georgia, and our tips and tricks for integrating a new dog into your home. Then we talked about The Vow that we as adopters make to our pets… we should have known then that it was all over! And what about the day we finally integrated all of the pups into the house! That was cause for celebration. Finally, by the end of February, after lots of back and forth discussion, we’d done it… we adopted our girl!

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Of course, those are only a few of the highlights. What is your favorite post? Do you like the fun, photo-filled adventures, or do you come here to hear advice and insight that we may share on dog ownership? Maybe you like to hear our perspectives on rescuing, overpopulation and other animal welfare issues, or instead want to know about the latest trends in pet products. Or maybe it’s the contests you are here for. Perhaps you are more interested in daily updates, or instead our philosophical ponderings (ha!) or the times we stray off subject… I want to know what brought you here, what brings you back, and what you look forward to!

Thanks to Sweeter Side Mom for the photo shoot!

Thanks to Sweeter Side Mom for the photo shoot!

In this past year, we have officially become a 3 dog household. We have focused on training and thereby improved communication with our dogs (and each other!) We have celebrated our first anniversary as a married couple. I have tried on a few different job hats, and J. has excelled in his field. We have traveled, laughed, learned, cried, hurt, and healed. We have celebrated and sympathized. We have saved and spent. We have grown and regressed. We have met new people and new animals… sometimes even at the same time! We have tried to help our communities to become better places, in the little ways that matter to us individually. Mostly, we have supported one another in getting one step closer to the people we strive to become.

Genevieve Stewart Photography

Genevieve Stewart Photography

In the past year, our blog has had over 21,000 views and 987 comments. Our most popular post was in August, and received 545 views. The most astounding fact? We have readers in over SEVENTY-FOUR countries! The top ‘clicks’ on our blog (meaning, the links that our readers clicked on which took them outside of our blog) go to some of our favorite bloggers: Temporary Home, Permanent Love (our BBF, no surprise there!) and Peace, Love, & Fostering (that girl is wise beyond her years, and always has something insightful to share.) Conversely, aside from facebook and google, our readers most often found us via our friends at Two Kitties, One Pittie and Pitlandia (thanks, guys!). We have made 164 posts and generated just under 200 followers. Our most regular commenter was our friend Emily from Adventures of a Dog Mom (she is just the sweetest!).

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Thank you to all of you who have made us feel so welcomed over the past year. I have a lot of goals in mind, personally, professionally, creatively, and in my many diverse relationships. The only constant is that in each of my endeavors, I look forward to growth and change. This is a big step for me! As someone who embraces organization and consistency, I have a difficult time appreciating where I am and enjoying the journey. Nevertheless, I cannot wait to see what the next year has in store for all of us, and more than that, I feel so grateful to have so many friends and loved ones along for the ride. If you know me in real life, you know that I am not a big hugger, but I am all about words of affirmation. So I am not afraid to say that I truly love you all and this space we have created together. I hope I am the first person you come to if you need some words of advice, a helping hand, or someone to cheer for you on your way to victory, because that is exactly what all of you have done for me.

 

LOTS and lots of love, and a little bit of slobbery kisses… (from the dogs, of course!)

Stephanie

(and Jonathan, Tonka, Gaige, Georgia, and even little Bella!)

And Foster Makes Five