Merry Christmas, Baby!

Merry Christmas to all you pooches & puppies out there!  Go to sleep tonight w/ visions of chew toys & raw hide dancing in your heads.  When you wake up, Santa Paws will have brought you lots of toys and goodies from his sleigh… if you’ve been GOOD of course! 

Who DOESN'T Want a Puppy for Christmas?! But WAIT, not so fast!

Puppies and Christmas, they just seem to go together, don’t they?  At the shelter, people often want to adopt dogs for others.  Romantic boyfriends want to surprise the girl of their dreams with the puppy of her dreams, parents delight in the idea of lighting up their child’s face on Christmas morning with a new puppy, or a dutiful son thinks getting a dog for Mom at Christmas will be the perfect gift of companionship and prevent her from feeling lonely. 

My favorite foster dog, named Rudy because he came into the shelter around Christmas.  Read Rudy's heartwarming story.

Although this is a wonderful ideal, sometimes it doesn’t work out so well.  The couple breaks up by New Years Eve, the puppy the parents chose gets huge, scares the kid and knocks him down, and Mom becomes overwhelmed at the prospect of caring for a dog.  

I suggest people forgo the element of surprise for a well thought out adoption or purchase of a puppy or older dog.  It can be just as wonderful and surprising to thoughtfully gift wrap an animal shelter gift card, photo of a cute puppy, a leash, or a stuffed animal dog.  Tell the recipient that right after Christmas you’ll be taking them to pick out the pet of their dreams together!

Wrap the package beautifully, concealing your surprise, then make a day (or two, or five!) of searching for the right puppy or dog together.  The time you spend searching for their new best friend together will be a gift in itself and a great memory!

Before you decide that a dog is the perfect gift for someone else, be sure their lifestyle will support the lifelong commitment of owning a dog. 

🐾 If the recipient is your child, make sure responsibilities for caring for the puppy are well thought out and that it’s the right time to add a pet to your family.  Everyone in the house should be on board.

🐾 If the person you are gifting travels frequently be sure that won’t become an issue.  Who will care for the dog while they are away?

🐾 Is there an apartment complex or Homeowners Association with restrictions that may impact dog ownership or the size and breed of dog they can have?


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Is a Puppy or Dog the right Christmas gift?

🐾 Do they live with someone else that should be consulted before bringing a new pet into the home? Are there other animals in the home already? 

🐾 Assess the ability to afford vet bills every year; annual vaccinations, checkups, and visits to the vet for occasional illness or injury.  They may need to spay or neuter the dog themselves.  Training, especially for puppies, is critical.  Including a gift card towards training is an excellent addition to your gift!

Once you determine that a canine companion is definitely the right gift, help them make the right decision about whether to get a puppy or an older dog, and what type of dog would best fit their lifestyle.

Puppies are irresistible, but they are a lot of work.  House training is the first order of business, and it takes time.  Some puppies learn within a couple of days, others can take weeks.  

Basic obedience commands and good behavior must be taught.  No one wants to come home to find potty accidents all over the house and a ripped up couch.   

Puppies are delightful but the first few months can be a lot of work.  An older dog may already be house trained and well behaved, or at least calmer and easier to train. 

The next question is what type of dog would be best.  What breed of dog, how big, will they shed a lot, what is the dog’s level of activity, do they slobber, is the dog likely to howl (Beagles, Blood Hounds, & Huskies are breeds that like to howl)?  

These are important questions to answer before deciding on what type of dog will fit their lifestyle.  Check out Purina's Dog Breed Selector quiz. It's a lot of fun and it can help you decide which breeds of dog might be a good fit.

Would a small dog that doesn't shed be the right fit, or a larger more active dog?
At animal shelters, Adoption Counselors help customers select a pet that fits their lifestyle.  Don’t choose a dog based solely on looks, find the right breed (or breed mix) that fits the person’s lifestyle.  Whether you work with a shelter, reputable breeder, or rescue to find the right dog ask a lot of questions about the breed to be sure it’s a good fit.   

A dog is a lifelong commitment.  Do the planning up front and the gift of the right dog will be the gift that never stops giving!

Check out more of our dog tips & information in these posts:

Dog Theft Is Increasing! How To Prevent Dog Theft

Have you ever given or received a dog as a surprise gift?  Tell us about it in the comments!  We Love hearing from you.

Serve Up A Healthy Canine Crudites Platter

Dogs love special treats.  We love to give them treats as a token of our love & affection, as training incentive, or just because we’re snacking in front of the TV ourselves, and really, what’s the fun of snacking alone!?  

As the holiday season begins we indulge ourselves with reckless abandon, eating and drinking our way through November and December, just in time to renew the New Year’s weight loss resolutions we’ll promptly break by March. 

For some reason, we extend these indulgences to our dogs as well.  We share turkey with gravy, meatballs, all matter of cheese products, chips, pretzels and occasionally lasagna (my Mom is guilty of that one!) from our holiday table.   

As much as they love us for it, some holiday treats can be downright dangerous to our dogs.  Chocolate is at the top of the list, which also includes onion, garlic, grapes & raisins, macadamia nuts and alcohol.  Many of these things are included in stuffing, cookies, and food gift baskets. 

Healthy snacks for your dog you probably already have in your kitchen
A healthy Canine Crudites platter can prevent guests from sneaking your dog unhealthy foods from the table

We can’t always control, or even remember, which foods our dogs should avoid.  Even if we know not to give our pets these foods, our guests may not have a clue as to what can be harmful to dogs.  Guests seem to get a kick out of giving a dog treats from the table, and they may not ask if it’s ok.  At our last New Year’s Eve party, one of our guests fed little Phoebe what seemed like a pound of Jarlsberg cheese.  Fortunately, the only negative side effect she suffered was gas…. all night long!

Preparing a Canine Crudites Platter can curb the temptation to sneak your dog foods that may be harmful to her.  The platter contains foods that are safe and healthy for your dog, and they’ll devour these treats with as much gusto as a handful of chips or a wad of pepperoni. 

Make this healthy Canine Crudites Platter

The platter can include slices of banana, apple, boiled sweet potato, or pumpkin - still have that Halloween pumpkin outside?   You can add carrots, snap peas, pineapple, or broccoli.   Top a few of these with a dollop of peanut butter or organic applesauce and a small biscuit to make it pawsitively irresistible to your dog.   You can also mash up tuna fish or cooked chicken, mix with peanut butter and roll into peanut butter balls.  

If guests want to give your dog some treats encourage them to offer doggie safe treats from the platter.  You can give your dogs these special treats without an ounce of guilt!

A  Canine Crudites platter is so easy to prepare, you probably have many of the ingredients in your kitchen already.  It’s no-bake, inexpensive, and healthy.  Best of all, your dog will love you for it! 

My dogs love healthy treats right from my kitchen
My girls love these healthy snacks!

What healthy vegetables do your pets like to eat?  Leave us a comment and share!


ROAD TRIP WITH THE DOG!  Sounds simple right?  It is!  Well, it can be with some smart planning.

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My dogs, Icy and Phoebe love road trips!

Over the river and through the woods.. and barreling down the Interstate.. to Grandmother’s house we go!

Should You Take a Road Trip With The Dog?

For a successful road trip with your dog, first decide whether you should bring your dog with you on a road trip at all. A very lengthy car trip isn’t for every canine.  If your dog hates the car or has a tendency to puke, pee, or poop in the car it may not be a good idea to take her on the road.  Find out beforehand if your dog gets car sick.  A road trip with a dog that's car sick is no fun!   

If she isn’t used to car rides, spend some time acclimating her to the car.  Use treats to create a positive association with the car.  Take a few weeks to accomplish this, starting off with the car still parked in the driveway.  Gradually work up time spent next to the car, and then time spent in the car from 5 minutes to about 40 minutes.   

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Stopping at the Arkansas Welcome Center along Interstate 40

Plan Ahead For A Successful Road Trip With Your Dog

If you decide a road trip is a great vacation with the dog, a critical part of road trip planning is to make sure she stays safe and calm during the trip and ensure you have everything you need.  

On our first long road trip with Icy and Phoebe I packed everything but the kitchen sink into the car!  I was so stressed out about finding dog friendly places to stay along the way that I was a ball of nerves, which in turn made the dogs anxious.  I have since gotten into the groove, finding dog friendly lodgings in advance and culling down the stuff I need to bring.   Here are some tips that make for a smooth road trip with dogs.

** Consider what the environment will be like for your dog at your destination.  Make sure she'll be welcome, not merely tolerated.  There should be an adequate place for your dog to sleep, eat, potty, go for walks or run around in a yard or dog park.  Are other pets living there or visiting as well?  If it's a trip to visit family, you don’t want Fido to eat your Mom’s parakeet, that’ll put a damper on things for sure!

** I always visit AAA, either in person or online for up to date maps, TripTiks and travel books.  I use the AAA PetBook, which is a Godsend.  It lists, by state, dog friendly lodgings, recreational areas & parks, dog parks, emergency veterinary care, travel and safety tips. AAA has the best coverage across the US and Canada but it doesn’t include every type of lodging, mostly those that are “AAA approved” hotels and campgrounds.  I love getting the AAA discount on hotels, usually 10%!  AAA also has lots of information and resources about pet travel online.

Other good resources are GoPetFriendly and BringFido.

Finding Pet Friendly Hotels and Other Places

** We travel across the country a few times a year with our dogs.  I map out and time our route using AAA trip tiks and Google maps.  That way I can book all the dog friendly lodgings we’ll need in advance.  This alleviates the stress of trying to find a dog friendly place as we roll into each city.   I’ve had great experience with Red Roof Inn, La Quinta, Comfort Inn, and my favorite, Hyatt Place hotels which are all very dog friendly.  

** Many places charge a pet fee per night or per stay, and sometimes per dog. Some only allow one dog, some allow only small dogs, and some charge a cleaning fee.  Sadly, some hotels have dog breed restrictions. Some won’t allow you to leave a dog unattended in the room at all.  Make sure you know all the fees, restrictions and policies before booking.  I have found places that don’t charge a pet fee at all, places that charge up to $150 per night per dog, and everything in between so do your homework!

I used to lug the dogs beds and blankets around until I realized they love to just lay on the rug in the hotel room!

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My dogs relaxing in one of our favorite pet friendly hotels, the Hyatt Place  

** Make sure your dog is up to date with any required vaccinations, especially Rabies.  I bring my dogs’ Rabies certificates and proof of other vaccinations along when we travel.  You never know when you might need to bathe or board your dog, or put her in doggie daycamp, both of which often require both Rabies and Bordetella vaccinations. 

** We stop every 2 to 4 hours for water and potty breaks and to stretch everyone’s legs.  Some rest stops have a Pet Area where you can walk your dog around for awhile, which is really nice.


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Icy enjoyed a cool dip in the water on one of our trips to gorgeous Sedona, Arizona

** I look online for Starbucks, Crackerbarrel, Panera Bread or Paradise Bakery Café locations to get a break from all the fast food along the way.  Starbucks, Panera, and Paradise Bakery Cafe are usually dog friendly on the patio.  It’s a nice break for all of us, weather permitting.  The rest of the way it’s usually quick stops at Chipoltle, Wendy’s or McDonalds.

** Check out the AAA Pet Travel,,, and for recommended dog friendly activities and destinations in the area you’re traveling to.  You’ll also find lodging reviews from other travelers and helpful travel tips and information on these sites.

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Phoebe is so comfy in her hotel bed, she won't get up!

Pack the Essentials for Yourself and Your Pet

** Pack extra dog waste bags, making sure you’ll have enough for the round trip.  Bring a towel and some paper towels so dirty or wet paws don’t soil your car.  Better yet, get a pet car seat cover. I got a fabulous 4Knines car seat cover  and it's the Best thing we could have done for doggie car messes! I love it.

Doggie wipes are a great idea in case you need to do a quickie dog bath or clean-up pet messes.   Once in New Mexico, we walked our dogs in the hotel’s grassy potty area.  I don’t know what was in that grass, but both dogs rolled in it and came out stinking worse than a skunk!   We bathed them in the hotel tub, but they still stunk.  We used the wipes a few times the next day until we found a PetSmart off the Interstate, where they got scrubbed up thoroughly.  We were SO grateful, I never gave a groomer such a big tip!

** Pack a cooler with plenty of water for both you & your dog in case you don’t want to drink the available water at places along your route - some water can be questionable.  

Pack extra food for your dog, both ways, so you don’t end up scrambling around looking for pet food along the way.  Don’t forget food & water bowls and any medications your dog takes.  Pack some plastic utensils and napkins as well.   I bring crackers, Jiff to go peanut butter cups, cereal bars, or fruit cups for us and plenty of chew sticks and treats for the dogs.

** A first aid kit is a must!  You never think you’ll need it, but accidents happen.  On the last night of a 5 day trip, we took Icy out for a late night potty break and she somehow cut her paw open.  We used our first aid kit to cleanse the wound, stop the bleeding, apply triple antibiotic ointment and bandage her paw until we could get to a vet the next day.  You can buy a pet first aid kit at most pet stores, or assemble one yourself.  

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Pack a few of your dog's favorite chew toys and snacks to calm nervousness or boredom.  An extra collar and leash is a good idea just in case.  

Using a travel harness or a crate is the safest way to travel with your dog.  I’ll be honest with you though, I don’t crate my dogs. I do try to always use their travel harnesses.  Icy weighs 56 lbs and likes to stretch out on a blanket in the back seat and Phoebe likes to sleep in her dog bed or on a blanket right behind the passenger sear.   If your dog isn’t calm or won’t stay still in the car then you must always use a crate or travel harness.

If you’re travelling with your dog soon, start preparing now so you have a fun, stress free vacation with the dog. Enjoy the time travelling and bonding with your dog!     

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