Wordless Wednesday: If they were yours…

So this won’t be super wordless, but it is shorter than usual. You’re welcome, in advance. 😉

It has come to my attention that there are some pups missing from our area (Freeport, PA to be specific. About 1/2 hour North of Pittsburgh). I don’t know the dogs or their owner personally, but we have many mutual friends who have implored me to help. Apparently the owner just moved to the area from South Carolina, so there is some talk or concern that they may be disoriented and trying to head ‘home’. They are said to be incredibly sweet, and while both have collars, they are unfortunately not labeled with contact information. They have been missing for over a week, and it goes without saying that the owners are beside themselves.

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Please, please share this. This could so easily be your dogs, or your friends’, or your family members’, etc. Let’s help to get Buck and Reggie home safely. We live near many major highways, and so we don’t know who may have spotted them or picked them up with good intentions. Even if you aren’t in the area, please consider sharing this post and/or their photos. If your dogs were missing, how grateful would you be to others who got involved in helping them get back to you? Not to mention, there are enough unwanted and homeless animals in all of our communities… the least we can do is help return these guys to their loving owner and keep them off the streets and out of the shelters!

How to Vacation with Your Dog…

And live to tell the tail tale!

Rule #1: Don't have your parents take your family photos. Just don't...

Rule #1: Don’t have your parents take your family photos. Just don’t…

Thank you to our readers for being so patient last week while we were vacationing with family in the Outer Banks! I had hoped to sneak in a few posts throughout our time away, but a lack of consistent internet access made that goal almost impossible. Nevertheless, the blog and our readers were never far from my mind!

We so enjoyed our time away, but more than that, we relished the opportunity to enjoy it with our best boy, Tonka. Having our dog on vacation brought an added level of enjoyment to our trip. However, we also saw lots of owners and pups on the beach that maybe hadn’t taken the time to fully think through their plans. Because of that, we want to share with you our tips for a vacation that is enjoyable for both you, and your pups!

1) Put yourself in their… er, paws.

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Is your dog a seasoned traveler, or a vehicle vomiter? Is he or she able to be comfortable in new environments, or do they prefer their home and regular routine? Are they a dog that prefers your companionship to all else, or do you have a regular dog sitter or boarding facility that your pup adores?

Rather than thinking about what is most enjoyable or convenient for you, take time to consider your dog’s preferences. If he or she is not going to fully enjoy the vacation, then you can bet that it will be more stressful for the rest of the family as well.

Tonka is a dog that will never be as content without me as he is when he is in my presence. He loves traveling, but makes it easy on me by sleeping the whole trip. Conversely, Gaige is pretty much the same dog regardless of who is around or where she is, while Georgia feels most comfortable in her home environment. Because of all of that, it was simple for us to decide which dog came along for the ride, and which stayed in the safety of our home.

2) Consider your destination

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The OBX beaches are notoriously dog-friendly. Many local stores even welcome dogs into their buildings! It is also a fairly easy drive for us, which made it easier on Tonka, as well. If we had been considering a flight, there is no way we would have put any of our dogs through that stress for a short vacation.

Furthermore, we were sure to do our homework up front. Our beach house rental was dog-friendly, and we researched the local beach and leash-laws as they applied to dogs. We also had the number and location of the local vet on-hand, in case of any emergency. Finally, we were sure to check Tonka’s tags and licenses in order to keep him safe in case of unforeseen circumstances that might separate him from us.

3) How easy is it for you to manage your dog?

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If your dog is a hand-full at home, expect for their behavior to be dramatized while in a novel environment. Things will be hectic at times, and there will be lots of new sights and smells. If you have difficulty handling your dog at home, chances are that those issues will only be exacerbated on your vacation. You are going away to decompress and relax… if bringing your dog along will only increase your anxiety, then it isn’t worth it for either of you! In that case, he or she will have a much more enjoyable time at home with a friend or at a boarding facility.

Tonka will stop on a dime at the sound of my voice, and will never venture more than a few feet from my side, even when off-leash or in hot pursuit of a sandpiper! Because of that, I knew it would be stress-free to have him join us. On the other hand, Gaige is notoriously naughty, and I knew that if we brought her along, some sort of comical troubles would ensue!

4) Be prepared to make new friends!

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While we were mindful of leash laws and appropriate dog interactions, remember that others, both tourists and locals, may not be so respectful. It is important that your dog be well-socialized in order to justify a trip to the beach, or you may risk an ugly situation. From our experience, the beach during vacation season is probably not the best place for a reactive or defensive dog, only because there are so many elements that are outside of your control. Keeping such a pup in the safety of their own home is probably the best option.

If your dog is friendly with other pups, then he will have a blast at the Outer Banks beaches! Many of them turn in to rowdy dog parks, with dogs frolicking and chasing each other through the sand and waves. Conversely, be sure to respect local leash laws and other dogs (or humans!) who may not feel comfortable in such an environment by maintaining appropriate control of your dog at all times.

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5) Embrace the mess

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Water + Sand = Mud. Rinse. Repeat. (x100…)

That was essentially the theme of our vacation! We couldn’t get enough of seeing Tonka revert back to his puppy-like antics on the beach. We enjoyed it so much in fact, that we didn’t really mind having to bathe him after every jaunt out to the water. However, it helped that we packed lots of extra towels, casual clothes, and spare collars and leashes.

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6) Be Mindful of the Weather and All that it Entails

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It was very difficult for me to see owners who drug their dogs out onto the beaches on the hottest days, and didn’t provide them with any shelter or fresh water. You know that sand and black pavement that are too hot for you to step on without shoes? Remember that it is just as painful for your pups. No dog will enjoy the beach during the hottest days, so be sure to have adequate accommodations at your rental to keep him or her safely secured and entertained while you lay out or enjoy the surf. Tonka enjoyed every second of his early morning and evening romps in the water, and snoozed soundly while we were away during the heat of the day. That way, we didn’t have to worry about lugging jugs of water or having burned paw pads.

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When all else fails... bury your head in the sand!

When all else fails… bury your head in the sand!

As for vacationing with your pet goat? Sorry, you’re on your own. But maybe this guy can help…

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Animal Farm Foundation: The Experience

I’ve had a hard time getting started on the posts revolving around my experience at the Animal Farm Foundation Language and Advocacy Internship. There is just so much important information, some of which I haven’t even fully wrapped my head around! I will be splitting it into a few parts, for those of you interested in applying in the future, or at least improving your advocacy abilities.

I left my house in Pittsburgh early Wednesday morning, as I had 7.5 hour drive before I had to be in New York at the Animal Farm at 5:00. I was also planning to stop along the way for some puppy snuggles with some of the dogs in our rescue!

This is what the drive looked like…

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We were having torrential downpours and flash flooding! But I still looked like this:

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Because I was so excited for what the next few days would hold.

Fast forward a few hours later, and this is what I was surrounded by…

Pictures just don't do it justice

Pictures just don’t do it justice

Even though I was in a hurry and anxious to reach my destination, I couldn’t resist stopping every few miles to capture some photos of the breath-taking scenery. The area was dotted with stunning estates, farmland and horse farms.

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This was the lane pulling into the farm

This was the lane pulling into the farm

The next few pictures are of the Animal Farm Foundation property

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Agility Field

Agility Field

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All of the interns were split up between a few different houses. I was lucky enough to stay in the lake house, which was just a short drive (or long walk) from where our meetings were held each day.

This was the view from the porch on the front of our house

This was the view from the porch on the front of our house

The best part about the trip?! This adorable face!!

DSC_0006Her name is Marilyn. She is an absolute snuggle-bug with a slight giant ball obsession, and exceptional house manners. She was our house dog for the time we were there. She slept with us, and we were responsible for her care. It was so hard to say goodbye to her!

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The other interns came from all over the country. There were local visitors that drove in each day from a No-Kill shelter in Duchess County. There were rescue advocates from Cincinnati Pit Crew in OH, Pets Alive Sanctuary in NY and Pit Bull Crew in FL, as well as an education and advocacy group in Las Vegas called Incred-a-bull. Finally, there were women from municipal shelters in VA and NJ.

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It was inspiring to meet so many bright, driven, compassionate, and competent women who were passionate about the same cause as I. However, it was also at times difficult to hear the challenges and struggles they face in their endeavors with advocating and rescuing pit bull dogs… as much as I feel that I put myself in the midst of the issues in our area, it was disturbing to learn that there are so many locations where pit bull dogs face much worse discrimination and difficulty.

However, if there is one thing I learned during my time at Animal Farm Foundation, it is that we must always focus on the positive. If this is just a small sampling of the individuals who are advocating for pit bull dogs, then it is just a matter of time before discriminatory tendencies are a thing of the past!

This post has highlighted the overview of the experience, but in the next few posts I will paraphrase the actual content and information that Caitlin from AFF shared with us. This trip was immensely educational, and part of my goal was to be able to convey the things I learned to all of you. So please stay tuned!

Blazing New Trails with Animal Farm Foundation

I first became aware of the Animal Farm Foundation internship program through my blogging idols at Love and a 6-Foot Leash, and Peace, Love, & Fostering. Each of the bloggers participated in one of AFF’s informative and life-changing week-long internships, and I was so moved by the experiences that they graciously shared. Prior to that, I of course had heard about all of the great things AFF is doing to advocate for ‘pit bull-type dogs’. I just knew that if I got involved, it would forever change my perspective on all things dog… from training, to rescue, to adoption, and more.

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Photo from Peace, Love, & Fostering

I don’t want to give too much away up front, but I will say this… I am attending the AFF Language and Advocacy session next week. You can read more about what I can expect, here. I am so excited! I am also nervous. And, I am a little bit bummed that my experience will only be the 3-day version, as opposed to the week-long. However, I anticipate that this will be a great way for me to get my feet wet, and maybe even have the opportunity for a longer experience next year.

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I will be attending as a representative of LCPO, the rescue group where I volunteer. They are also the ones that pulled Georgia and eventually placed her with us as a foster. I hope to soak up as much knowledge as possible, in order to bring everything back to our hard-working team of leaders and volunteers. I am sure that there will be so many others in attendance that possess infinitely more knowledge and experience than I. I can only hope that some of theirs will rub off on me!

Surround yourself with the dreamers the doers the belivers the thinkers

 

Remember that I started this week discussing adventure, and my goal was to put myself in environments and with people that made me reach for more… I would say that this endeavor is going to be just that! I can’t wait to share it with all of you on here.

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Another great photo from Peace, Love, & Fostering’s AFF Internship experience

OH! And Happy 4th 🙂 I hope you all enjoy it (safely!) with your pups!

Photo source: Pinterest.com

Photo source: Pinterest.com

 

Wordless Wednesday: Luca Gets Around

Do you remember the sweet CharlieDog & Friends pups we gave away? Well, Little Luca was my favorite. I have always had a soft spot for white-faced pitties, and just because she’s stuffed, doesn’t mean she is any exception to that rule. So, it was really difficult for me to part with her. However, I know a special little girl who could use some extra love in her life. You can read more about her story, here. It turned out to be a match made in heaven. This little lady has never been one to hold onto toys, but Luca goes along with her on all of her adventures. Every. Where. Talk about positive pittie publicity!

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Welcome Home

If you read yesterday’s post, you know that we traveled out of town this weekend. You also know that we took Tonka & Gaige. Thankfully, my parents are dog lovers, and always treat our pooches like their grandchildren. (Read: Spoiled. Rotten.) However, in their brand new house in a gated community (without a fenced-in yard!) it isn’t the best place for all THREE of their grandpuppies. On top of that, neither of our vehicles are quite large enough to comfortably accommodate three dogs, two people, and all of our belongings, on a 6+ hour drive. Out of the three dogs, Gia is the one that can become most stressed out in new situations, so we have always felt that she would be most comfortable staying in her normal surroundings here at her home with our close friends.

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

A snuggly puppy makes cramped quarters less comfy... but exponentially more adorable!

A snuggly puppy makes cramped quarters less comfy… but exponentially more adorable!

All of that has always been true, until this trip… poor girl lost. her. mind. when we left without her. 😦 She was barking and crying and scratching at her kennel after seeing us loading up the truck with our bags and being left in her kennel without Gaige in the one right beside her. Babygirl was not happy… and of course, then neither was I. We’re talking crocodile tears here… how could I leave her when she was so visibly upset?

Unfortunately, I didn’t feel comfortable leaving more than one dog here for our friends to watch. The girls have had a tendency to try to wander off lately, even when I’m right there calling them to come back… we need to work on our recalls! The spring bunnies in the yard are just more tempting than anything that I can offer. Because of that, I have been leashing them more often than not, and I just feel like two dogs with shakey recalls is too much to ask of a friend/pet-sitter. We are getting closer to being able to purchase and install a fence, but that hasn’t happened yet. So I left Gia content with a delicious frozen Kong, and made my way hesitantly out the door… armed with constant contact from my friend, who offered regular photos and updates to keep me from feeling too guilty or heart sick.

These are a few of the photos they sent me <3

These are a few of the photos they sent me ❤

0516132030As hard as it was for all of us to be away from our girl, it was all worth it when we came home… when I came to her kennel, little lady just stared out at me in disbelief! It was like she hadn’t thought we were ever coming back 😦 Once she realized that it was really me, she gave me the most enthusiastic welcome home that I’ve ever received… wags and kisses and paws were all flying!

Life has returned to normal here in the AFM5 household (aside from the flu bug I brought home as a souvenir from our trip. Ugh!) All of this has left me with a lot of thoughts, and a driving passion to start something that has been on my mind and heart for a little while… I know that I sound a bit cryptic, but I promise I will share more with all of you as the process continues! Until then, I want to know:

1) What do you do with your pets when you travel? Do they go along with you, stay in their own home, or visit a fun place?

2) If you opt to have someone else stay with your dog, what are your non-negotiables? What requirements do you have?

3) What are some services, skills, or experiences that you wish your dog sitter or kennel offered?

4) What is your budget for your pet’s care when you are away?

5) What is the best experience you have had with trusting someone to care for your pet, and why? Did it keep you coming back?

6) What is the worst experience you have had in trusting someone to watch your pet, and why? How did you handle it?

I really appreciate any and all input that you can share with me!

Dog Pack

“If you don’t own a dog, there is not necessarily anything wrong with you, but there may be something wrong with your life.”

I have always said that people come into our lives for different reasons. Oftentimes if we look at the people we choose to surround ourselves with, they may represent a spectrum of personalities. Maybe these people encourage us to display varying aspects of our identity, or simply serve distinctive purposes in our lives.

For example, most of us have that friend from our childhood. The person with whom you share early memories and silly stories, inside jokes that no one else understands. You grow up spending as much time with their family as your own, and maybe even become something like siblings.

Some of us have friends from college, the people that are there to support us and help us grow, as we go through one of the biggest life transitions. You cram for exams, spend late nights together, and hold each other during heartbreak.

We have friends that are there for the fun times, to grab drinks or go for manicures. They are our good time friends, with whom we share wild stories and lots of laughs, but maybe nothing deeper. And that’s okay!

Then there are the friends that hold a part of our soul. For me, this person shares a passion for the same sport, but she is also always there to pick me up when times are hard. She never hesitates to set aside her own issues when I need her. She is the epitome of selfless. Her advice is boundless and always offered without criticism or judgement. She always offers me the benefit of the doubt, and knows that although I certainly don’t always get it right, my heart is full of the best of intentions for others.

While all of these people hold a vital place in my heart, as well as in the story of my life, today’s post is about a different type of person. A person that I bet all of you know, and value… the person we trust to watch our dogs when we are away.

It must be someone who will treat our dogs with tenderness and compassion, yet maintain our structure and discipline. This person must understand our neurotic tendencies as pet parents the canine nature, and have an idea about training. You must trust that they are good under pressure, and can stick to a routine. Finally, and perhaps most hard to come by, this person must be willing to give up a portion of their time, usually sacred nights and weekends. For me, these people are almost as scarce as working squeaker toys in our home, but I am lucky to know a few. From my perspective, no amount of compensation or thanks will ever truly portray my appreciation.

I met Ellie when I was working as a manager at an equine veterinary clinic. After a stellar interview, I recommended that she be hired for a position as a veterinary technician. Ellie was the person who always showed up on time, if not early, and consistently stayed late. She was willing to do any job, from monotonous stall cleaning to assisting with complex medical cases. She completed every task with a willing attitude and a smile on her face, and was always seeking out new projects to fill idle hours. She could manage criticism from her superiors, even when it was not necessarily constructive, without letting it negatively affect her performance. Perhaps most importantly, Ellie maintained an understanding for our clients, while handling the horses with the perfect combination of skill and compassion. As she embarks on her path to vet school, I know that she will make an incredible veterinarian. Not only do I feel safe when she is watching our pets, but I feel blessed to have such a trustworthy, caring, and responsible person that is willing to devote her time to allow us some freedom.

Foster Dad indulged me this weekend by taking me on a trip to Ohio for a large annual horse show. While we took our two perma-dogs along with us for the ride, we left Georgia and our cat, Bella, home with Ellie. We are so happy to share Ellie’s account of her weekend with Georgia. Enjoy!

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Georgia got to make a new friend this weekend! In order to let foster mom and dad take a weekend trip, I was called in as backup.  An avid animal lover as well, I jumped at the opportunity to meet this sweet girl that I had been reading about.
I was super excited to meet her, but nervous at the same time, as I was worried she would be anxious with foster mom and dad leaving. She was quick to prove my worries wrong, greeting me with hundreds and hundreds of kisses. (Yes, hundreds. I’m not exaggerating or complaining!) She was an all star the entire weekend and was up for whatever it was I wanted to do,
whether that be long walks on the farm…
watching TV… (Bella too!)
studying…
playing tug of war…
or sun-bathing.
Overall I was pleasantly surprised with her patience and willingness, as well as how quiet she is (no whining or barking from this girl, not even after being kenneled for bedtime!!) and I think we had a pretty great weekend together.  Hands down, anyone would be lucky to have a dog as great as she is.

Georgia (and her ears!) napping after a long day of fun!

 

If you think you might know someone who would be interested in adopting our sweet girl Georgia, please share her story! Any questions about Georgia or the adoption process can be directed to me (Stephanie!) at sel1490@gmail.com.