Our pups saw their adoptable interwebz friend Moby doing some pond cleaning in his spare time, and they realized that perhaps they should be more environmentally conscious as well. Except where Moby was retrieving sticks, our pups felt the need to rid the waters of flowers. So, it’s either that, or they were trying to bring me a belated Mother’s Day gift… not sure.
Some of you may know that I spent some of my childhood growing up in a suburb of Pittsburgh. However, life threw me a few curve balls, and I ended up living in a variety of places during my late teenage years. While I enjoyed where I grew up, I never had the opportunity to fully appreciate all that the city had to offer. One of the many things I love about Foster Dad is that he is equal parts country boy and city slicker. He is just as comfortable baling hay, driving his lifted pickup truck, and helping me at a horse show, as he is dressing to the nines and enjoying an elegant dinner in the city, followed by a show at the Benedum or a romantic ride on the incline. In falling in love with him, he has helped me to fall more in love with the beautiful city of Pittsburgh!
I once envied other cities for the plethora of dog-friendly locations and activities, but in spending more time in the Steel City, I have discovered an endless array of canine adventures. Whether you are a ‘Burgh native, planning to visit (please do!) or just curious, here are a few of the top pup spots in town.
Groceries for Grover
- Healthy Pet Products : A pet food store that specializes in organic, natural diets and raw food! Their slogan: “Our pets can survive on most anything, but don’t we want them to thrive?” They do all of the research, scrupulously reviewing the brands that they carry, so that you don’t have to!
- Petagogy: Not only does this store carry premium, all-natural foods for your pets, but they also provide fun and innovative toys, beds, and other products. Their name comes from the word “pedagogy,” meaning the art of teaching, as they pride themselves on learning about the best products out there, and hope to pass on that information to their customers.
- Animal Nature: This store caters to dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens, rats, guinea pigs AND other small animals! They take an active role in the community, and are strong supporters of rescue efforts. They know that quality food makes a difference in the lives, behaviors, and dispositions of our pets, and take this responsibility seriously.
Food WITH Fido
- Big Dog Cafe: They serve delicious coffee and light food, while welcoming pets to their outdoor patio. That’s my kind of meal!
- Cappy’s Restaurant: This is my favorite stop for people-watching, outdoor seating, and a delicious burger! But then again, maybe it just tastes better to have Tonka by my side while enjoying a night on the town! They have great nightly specials, making this a popular spot for locals.
- Jergel’s Rhythm Grille: This is a must-see! They are a live-music venue with outstanding food to boot. Not only do they allow your dog to accompany you on their outdoor patio, but they boast an actual doggie-menu for chowing down!
- Redfin Blues: Aside from their fido-friendliness, the best thing about this spot has got to be the outstanding river views from the docks of Washington’s Landing. (OH, and all you can eat crab legs! YUM!)
- Dozen Bake Shop: If you know me, you know that I have a serious problem when it comes to sweets. I love this spot because of their delectable delicacies, but they also offer ways to satisfy Fluffy’s sweet tooth, via dog-safe cupcakes!
The Sweet Tooth’s connected to the Dog Bone…
While we haven’t (yet…) personally experienced any of these, I found three bakeries that SPECIALIZE in sweet treats for your pets. Check them out!
Hot Dog HotelsWhile we do not choose to board our dogs when we travel, we have visited all of the places below for a variety of reasons, and can vouch for their reliability, attention to detail, and pet-centered approach. It is safe to say that if you choose any of them, you had better be prepared to come home jealous, as your dog may enjoy more fun and pampering than you!
- Lucky Paws Pet Resort: Rather than blab on and on about them, I will simply let their offerings speak for themselves… they boast a swimming pool, spa treatments including blueberry facials and fur butter deep hair conditioning, indoor/outdoor dog parks, luxury suites (complete with heated floors, cable TV, and sound systems) a multilevel cat condo that features a fish tank, and on, and on, and on…
- Misty Pines: Set back in a beautifully wooded area, Misty Pines is what I call a doggie adventure park. They possess numerous outdoor enclosures for separation of dogs via play style, size, or age, each complete with various obstacles and agility courses. They offer doggie yoga classes, a swimming pool, spa treatments, agility classes, and obedience training. My favorite part? Miles of winding wooded trails, which lead to an amazing lake and dock, perfect for dock-diving training and retrievals.
- K9 Kingdom: While you will be hard pressed to find a nicer exclusively indoors pet boarding and doggie daycare business, perhaps more impressive is their amazing staff, who put their heart and soul into caring for your pets. They boast a huge play space and lots of opportunities for socialization, all under the watchful eye of a caring staff member. After a day of treadmill workouts and loving attention, overnight guests are treated to a frozen peanut butter Kong at bedtime… and you know how we feel about Kongs around here!
- McConnells Mill State Park: I had been begging Foster Dad to go here with me for literally YEARS. Once I finally convinced him to visit, he couldn’t stop talking about our return. Shaded by giant trees, their trails wind along a rapidly cascading river (flanked by giant waterfalls, and of course, an old mill!) and boast occasional sandy beaches… perfect for throwing sticks into the water for the dog that loves to swim, or to relax with a picnic lunch. You can take it easy on a leisurely walk with your dog, but for the more adventurous, there are white rapid kayak spots and intimidating climbing areas.
- Rails to Trails- Butler-Freeport Community: This is a scenic trail that is dog-friendly. There are numerous parking spots along its 20 miles stretch, meaning that you can start and end at a different location each time. It boarders the Buffalo Creek, providing ample water access.
- Frick Park: Located just outside of downtown, this parks offers a creek with a dam, perfect for swimming, as well as a popular off-leash area with doggie water fountains.
- Hartwood Acres: This is on of the area’s most beautiful locations, and with 200 acres, it is not uncommon to leave without seeing another soul! Romp around the mansion and its gardens, visit the off-leash dog park, explore the wooded trails, or venture out to the barns and stables…
- Animal Friends: Though known for their animal shelter and rescuing efforts, they also rent out their off-leash area for private frolicking.
So we wanna know… are you planning a visit? Or perhaps you have already been to some of these great businesses. Any you would add to the list? As always, we want to hear from you :O)
Here in the “S” household, we have two very sad puppies. Our boats are without rudders. That is to say, Tonka & Gaige may have overdone it with their water adventures yesterday. Both dogs seem to have sprained their tails, giving them extra paw-thetic body language.
Have your dogs ever sprained their tails? The first time I noticed it was when Tonka was just a puppy, and we brought him on our family vacation to the beach. He loved every second of jumping in the waves, trying to catch them as they rushed to shore and then were sucked back into the open. After a long evening nap, he woke up to the smells of dinner wafting from the grill on the back deck. We noticed as he lazily wondered out to join us, that there was no customary tail wag in greeting. His tail hung low at his hocks, not varying its angle or movement.
My only explanation for this is that when dogs swim, their tails move somewhat like rudders. They also may use their tails for balance when on dry land, and when jumping onto furniture or maneuvering up and down stairs.
Of course, dogs use their tails as one of their most obvious forms of communication. When they are guarding their homes or their people, and notice potential danger, their tails may elevate in warning. This warning may notify their fellow home-dwellers of imminent threats (typically of the chipmunk and bunny variety, in our home), but it can also be a sign to the challenger, of potential aggression. A dog that is dog-aggressive may often lift their tail, a typical indicator of dominance. Most of us know that a fearful dog will tuck their tail between their legs. A happy, confident dog will often maintain a level tail with a quick wag. However, a wagging tail does not always indicate a pawsitive pooch. A dog with threatening body posture may elevate their tail and wag it slowly, and this can be a sign that he or she is threatening aggression.
Our home has been quieter than normal as far as body-communication goes. There are no wiggly tails in anticipation of breakfast goodies, or waggly tails high in the air during play bows at play time. The pups have been lying low, acting extra cuddly, and avoiding jumping onto furniture or negotiating the stairs. Poor babies!
In other news…
Introducing Miss Georgia!
Georgia is a little lady that has had a hard life, which is unfortunately so typical of so many dogs that are unlucky enough to look like her. Our rescue pulled Georgia and her six puppies from a high kill shelter in Georgia. They were all set to be euthanized. Worse still, this particular shelter still utilized the heart stick* procedure of euthanasia. Once she was safely pulled from the shelter, it was found that she was also infected by heart worms. The process for treating this is long, risky, and painful for the animal. She is now free from parasites, and her puppies have all found homes, so now it is finally Georgia’s turn! She was a wonderfully caring and attentive mother. Her nurturing nature is evident in her interactions with humans and animals, as she loves other dogs, large and small, and also adores children. We will be posting additional pictures of her in the coming days. She will be joining us in early October, and we are so excited! We are slowly acquiring the necessary supplies to keep her happy and healthy in our home. Stay tuned for more!Heart stick euthanasia: A syringe filled with sodium pentobarbitol is plunged through the animal’s chest wall, passing through layers of muscle and nerves, until it reaches the heart. This can be a difficult process for those that are not properly trained, and the medication will cause a searing pain and produce acid-like burns. A statement from the American Veterinary Medicine Association says “Intracardiac injection is acceptable only when performed on heavily sedated, anesthetized or comatose animals, owing to the difficulty and unpredictability of performing the injection accurately.”
Hope everyone has been enjoying a beautiful and relaxing weekend! At least here in PA, the weather has been perfect. So perfect, in fact, that we decided to head out on a new adventure with our darling pups. We took Tonka and Gaige about 45 minutes away to Misty Pines Dog Park. We had never been there before, but were impressed by their website and wanted to check it out.
The dog park is a full service facility that includes a dog park, dock diving and pond, agility courses, training classes, boarding, and a retail store, to name a few! They are vigilant in requiring every visitor to bring updated proof of vaccines, including bordatella. Additionally, they welcome dogs that are working on socialization issues, simply requiring that they be fitted with a Gentle Lead halter that prevents biting.
We pulled in to a beautiful 25 acre wooded property, complete with safety fencing and many trails. Much of the doggie play areas are set in heavily shaded areas, allowing for fun to be had even in inclement weather. Sunday is the only day of the week that Misty Pines is open by appointment only, which allowed us to enjoy the facility with limited traffic by other visitors. We registered at the main office, and were checked in by a very friendly and helpful staff member. We then walked down to the pond area, which was complete with a covered pavilion and multi-level diving dock! Of course, Tonka was in doggie heaven! He showed off his skills, making impressive leaps and dives to catch toys off of the dock. Gaige watched in appreciation, and tried her best to copy her big brother. There were only two other dogs at the lake, and they politely kept their distance from ours.
Once the dogs had their fill of the water (or, more accurately, once we were soaked and decided we had had enough), we followed the trails to the fenced-in agility area. Although Tonka has been properly socialized from a young age, he has been twice attacked by an intact yellow lab, so he can have some fear issues with other dogs. We let Gaige watch from the sidelines, as this was her first time in an area with many other unfamiliar, unleashed dogs. Tonka entered the area confidently, and was greeted by a young yellow lab. This dog was boisterous and untrained, but harmless, and perceptive to the body language of the other dogs. They played well together. After a few minutes of introductions, we brought Gaige in, leashed. Things went well for a while, until an older woman came in with her aged shepherd mix dog. This dog was unleashed and also harmless, but a bit of an instigator. Gaige, who was still leashed, was working on an agility obstacle with Jonathan. The shepherd rushed up to her from behind, and began barking and nipping at her sides. Gaige turned away multiple times, and let out a low growl. The woman saw all of this, but never once called her dog away. Neither did the dog hear Gaige’s signals, and back off. He kept barking at her and pushing into her space. Jonathan pulled the dogs apart, looked pointedly at the owner, and went to another obstacle. The shepherd lost interest for a short period of time, and then came rushing back to bark and nip at Gaige. She growled again, and when the other dog still would not back off, she did try to bite. Although she never made contact, and calmed down as soon as the other dog backed away, we ended up taking her out of the park to cool off.
We really need some help here from our readers. What are your reactions? We need to take Gaige somewhere to improve her social skills. She has never had an issue with other dogs, and my instinct is that this dog was a bit of a bully. If someone got in my space and refused to back off when I made repeated requests, I can only imagine that I would react similarly. My new worry is that her only association with a dog park is now a negative one. I know that many responsible dog owners swear off of dog parks entirely, due to issues such as these. Do you feel that we could have done something differently? What do you suggest for socializing our dogs in the future? Do you take your own dogs to dog parks? Why, or why not?
I do NOT think that this was a situation of an ‘aggressive’ dog, or a terrible owner. Rather, I think she lacked the control over her animal, and worse, lacked the acknowledgement of this fact. Tonka listens well, and so he has the privilege to go off-leash in safe areas. Gaige, however, has a much shorter attention span, and sometimes lets her own free will over-ride her obedience. Because of that, we do not allow her off-leash in areas other than our own property. She has never displayed aggression with other dogs, but has not been exposed to a large variety of new animals. I am really anxious to hear what some of you might suggest for us.
In other news, we will unveil our foster dog on Monday! Please tune-in then 🙂 Enjoy some pictures of our pups until then. Thanks for stopping by!