Not sure what to get the pets for the holidays this year?  If you're anything like me, you probably end up with a bag full of irresistibly adorable dog toys and maybe a giant chew stick, but not much else.  When it comes to the humans on my Christmas gift list I put a lot of thought and planning into it.  For my dogs, not so much. I tend to impulse buy cute items, going overboard and over budget!

This Christmas, I'm going to follow the 4 Gifts Rule to buy gifts for Icy and Phoebe.  The 4 Gifts Rule was created to help parents select great holiday gifts for their children without breaking the bank.

Here's how the 4 Gifts rule works. When thinking about what presents to buy you select 4 gifts, broken into the following categories: SOMETHING THEY WANT, SOMETHING THEY NEED, SOMETHING TO WEAR, and SOMETHING TO READ (OR EAT).

I'm joining several of my fellow bloggers for the 4 Gifts For Pets blog hop and GIVEAWAY!!  


The 4 Gifts for Pets Giveaway Hop is sponsored by CleverPet. The opinions and ideas in this post are my own and are uninfluenced by any other person or business. The individual sponsors are responsible for their giveaway prizes including shipping

One Lucky GRAND PRIZE WINNER will receive a  CLEVERPET HUB gaming console for dogs!
Three SECONDARY PRIZE WINNERS will receive their choice of an Amazon, PetSmart OR Etsy Gift Card as follows:
One Winner will be awarded a $200 GIFT CARD
One Winner will be awarded a $100 GIFT CARD
One Winner will be awarded a  $50 GIFT CARD



4 Gifts for Pets Giveaway - DLU

GET EXTRA CONTEST ENTRIES every day! As a THANK YOU to our followers, Every Day we’ll be sharing a DAILY BONUS word or phrase on social media. Find the DAILY BONUS word/phrase on social media, then come back to this post and claim FIVE extra contest entries! A bonus word or phrase will be posted on Twitter, Facebook, and/or Instagram every day. Make sure you’re following Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them on social media to get all the extra Daily Bonus Entries starting by noon (ET) on 11/27!

The 4 Gifts Rule made it easy to choose the 4 gifts I put on Icy and Phoebe's Holiday Wish List.  Note: PetSmart images contain Affiliate Links as noted, which may earn me a small commission, at no extra cost to you.

Icy and Phoebe's 4 Gifts For Pets Holiday Wish List!
The CLEVERPET HUB, the world's first game console for dogs!

The CleverPet Hub gaming console for dogs.
The CleverPet Hub has games designed by animal-loving cognitive scientists to provide hours of mental stimulation for dogs.  Mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise!  I won't have to feel guilty when I leave them home, or if it rains for days. They'll stay busy and challenged.

A Fleece Sweater for Phoebe and a new Backpack for Icy!
Phoebe gets cold in the Winter, so she needs something that will keep her toasty warm.  She has a fleece sweater but it's getting a bit ratty!  This adorable fleece vest in a classic red plaid print will be perfect for her.

Icy is rugged and athletic.  She loves going on long hikes with us but her backpack has seen more than it's share of trails.  It's pretty worn, and it's time for a new one!   A new backpack like this one is definitely on our list for Icy!


Matching holiday Dog Pajamas for Icy and Phoebe!
I got Phoebe a pair of human pajamas a few years ago, but they didn't work out very well. This year I decided to get Icy and Phoebe matching holiday themed pajamas made specifically for dogs.  They look so adorable in their holiday pj's, I'm thinking they'll be great for our holiday photo shoot!  I got these cute Fa La La Red Plaid Dog Pajamas at Target.

🎄 SOMETHING TO EAT (they're really not that into books so I chose EAT over READ!)

Box of Assorted Holiday themed dog treats!
I bake holiday cookies for us, but I often don't have extra time to make homemade dog treats.  This year I'm giving the dogs their own delicious specialty holiday treats too!

It's sure to be a Merry Christmas For Icy and Phoebe with these gifts under our tree!!

The 4 GIFTS FOR PETS BLOG HOP is Hosted by:
Kol's Notes & A Dog Walks Into a bar - like a crime fighting duo, only ridiculous.

K9s For Warriors Rescues Dogs, So Dogs Can Rescue Warriors

I had the pleasure and privilege of  visiting K9s For Warriors in Ponte Vedra, Florida.  They are the nation's largest provider of service dogs to Military Veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disability (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and/or Military Sexual Trauma as a result of military service post - 9/11.

Tragically, every day at least 22 Veterans commit suicide in America

Since 9/11, there have been over 130,000 Veteran suicides.  That is not acceptable on any level!  These Veterans risked their lives and made huge sacrifices so the rest of us can enjoy the safety and freedom our great country provides.  K9s For Warriors Mission is to STOP these daily suicides from PTSD altogether.  They developed a program that pairs Veterans with trained service dogs, most of whom are shelter rescues, that enables Veterans to return to civilian life with dignity and independence, while reducing their risk for suicide.

K9s For Warriors is helping Veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disability, Traumatic Brain Injury and/or Military Sexual Trauma through Service Dogs, many of whom are animal shelter rescues.
The welcoming front porch at K9s For Warriors in Ponte Vedre, Florida
My travel expenses to visit K9's For Warriors were paid for by Bayer Animal Health. I believe in the work K9s For Warriors is doing to help Veterans, and I want to share information about this amazing organization.


💔 20% of post-9/11 Veterans suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disability).

💔 10% of post -9/11 combat Veterans, 338,514 men and women, have been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

💔 Tragically, every day at least 22 Veterans,  many of whom suffer from PTSD, commit suicide in America.

💜 The average Veteran is taking 10 - 15 medications when he/she begins the K9's For Warriors program.  92% of these Veterans have eliminated or reduced prescription medications after they graduate from K9's For Warriors!

"When doctors kept giving me medication, K9s For Warriors gave me a spectacular service dog who has given me a second chance at living" -  Tiffany, a 2015 K9s For Warriors program Graduate

💜 There are over 3.5 million dogs euthanized in shelters every year!  Many of these are great dogs that can be trained to be service dogs to help Veterans.  The majority of the dogs in the K9s For Warriors program are shelter rescues.


🐶 Dogs must be Under 2 years of age and weigh at least 50 lbs.   A senior dog may not have enough years of service to give to a Veteran.  A lighter weight dog may not be strong enough to pull a wheelchair or assist in "bracing", which is helping the Veteran if s/he needs help getting up.

🐶 No bully breeds are accepted, mainly because of the potential for members of the public to have negative reactions to them.  I know, that sounds so unfair right!  But it's critical that a Veteran and service dog be welcomed and not potentially feared due to negative public reaction - fair or not, real or imagined.

🐶 K9's For Warriors maintains approximately 52 dogs on property that are in training.

🐶 As of last month, 367 dogs have been placed with Veterans in need!

🐶 The K9s For Warriors program saves two lives - the life of the dog that is rescued and trained for service, and the life of the Veteran who receives the trained service dog.  I like those numbers a lot!

🐶 The majority of the dogs trained for service in the program are rescued from shelters.  Most are adopted directly from shelters by K9s For Warriors, some have been obtained from prison programs, where select prisoners spend their days training dogs to become service dogs.

K9s For Warriors rescues dogs and trains them so they can rescue Veterans.  Service Dog, Service Canine,
There's a swimming pool shaped like a dog bone at the K9s For Warriors facility!

🐶 When selecting dogs from a shelter or rescue, K9s For Warriors does an assessment to see if they will be a good fit for the program.  They test the dog to assess their ability to cope with loud noises,  how they react meeting strangers and other dogs.  They are also assessed for food aggression.

🐶 We spoke with the staff member who works with local shelters and rescues to recruit dogs for the program.  She explained that being food motivated was also an important trait for a dog to enter their program.  They need to be motivated by food or treats in order to fit well into their training program.

🐶 Once at the facility, K9s For Warriors quarantines the dogs for 10 days to ensure they show no signs for rabies or other diseases.  They perform blood work as well, testing for heartworm and other ailments.

🐶 If a rescue dog doesn't make it through the program successfully, K9s For Warriors works to ensure the dog finds a loving home.  They never send a dog back to the shelter!  They will work to find a good home for any dog that doesn't work out, which rarely happens according to the organization.


💜 Once accepted into the 3 week program and given a start date, the Veteran lives at the facility for 3 weeks.  Note: there is a waiting list to get into this wonderful program.  As of October 2017 the waiting list is about 11 months long.  The program is provided at NO COST to the Veteran.  

💜 Veterans are provided with a trained service K9, housing, meals, equipment, veterinary care and 120 hours of training with their new service dog.  As of October, 2017 367 Veteran-K9 teams have graduated from the program!

💜 The facility in Florida is beautiful, it has a genuine homey feel.  The grounds are lovely and the staff is warm and welcoming.  Many community volunteers cook meals for the Veterans and deliver them to the facility!

"I found the program through the NJ State Police and Troopers Assisting Troops where I met K9s For warriors founder, Shari Duval.  I had attempted suicide a few months prior and Troopers recommended I call Shari and get a service dog.  My dog Bernie has given me the security to leave my comfort zone.  Going through the program has given me peace of mind, and Bernie helps to mitigate my PTSD and Operational Stress" - James, a 2016 K9s For Warriors program graduate

💜 When they graduate from the program the Veteran gets a trained service dog for rest of his/her life no matter what happens!  When a dog retires, dies, or becomes too old to perform his duties the Veteran can choose to keep their dog as a pet.   K9s for Warriors would help them find a new home for the dog if needed.   A service dog is usually retired at approximately 8 years old, but that depends on the individual dog and their abilities.  

💜 K9s For Warriors stays in touch with their graduates long term, after they graduate from the program.

The beautiful K9s For Warriors facility where rescue dogs are trained to become service dogs for Veterans of war.
K9s For Warriors facility, where Veterans live and train with their service dog while in the program.  Pictured is the living room with TV, and kitchen and dining room in the background.

💜 K9s For Warriors also help Veterans with veterinary bills for the dogs placed with them.  They partner with local Veterinarians, and there are even mobile veterinary units available.   They work to obtain discounts or free services for the Veterans. 

💕 💕 💕 💕 💕 💕

K9s for Warriors was created in 2011 out of a mother's love and concern for her son.  Shari Duval's son Brett returned home as a contractor from Iraq with Post Traumatic Stress Disability (PTSD).  Because Brett was a K9 Police Officer, Shari wanted to find a way to help him, through his love for canines.  After researching service dogs and PTSD she knew she had found an amazing way to improve Brett's life that could also help other Veterans.  We had the pleasure of meeting Brett while at the facility, where he now works to help other Veterans just as his Mom helped him!

I'm so impressed by all the great work K9s For Warriors is doing to help Veterans suffering from PTSD, TBI, and Military Sexual Trauma as a result of military service post - 9/11.  I loved visiting their facility, meeting their passionate staff, and seeing some of the dogs in training.  

Watch this video, called Dear Captain, to see first hand how a  K9s For Warriors service dog helped a Veteran in desperate need.  Grab a tissue folks, it's a tear-jerker for sure.


I want to thank Bayer Animal Health for inviting us along on this inspiring and insightful visit to see how K9s For Warriors is helping Veterans in need!  Thanks to Bayer for being such a great supporter of K9's For Warriors.  Their sponsorship helps K9s For Warriors continue providing this valuable service to Veterans suffering from PTSD.  Here's what Bayer Animal Health had to say about their partnership:

"Our partnership with K9s For Warriors was incredibly impactful to our employees, our customers and pet owners.  Because the partnership demonstrates Bayer Animal Health's mission of passionately caring for animals, our employee's rallied behind the cause, as it adds meaning to why we come to work every day.  Their engagement was genuine and inspiring.  They embraced Bayer, and supported the K9s For Warriors cause through in-store merchandising and promotions.  But more importantly, we were able to do well while doing good for others, and likely help save precious lives."

Proud member of the Bayer Animal Health Pet Influencer Team

K9s For Warriors is in 43 states & Puerto Rico.   They have been working to get food and supplies to their Veterans in Puerto Rico. 

I hope you enjoyed learning about this incredible program that helps Veterans in need!  Please leave us a comment, we'd love to know your thoughts!

High Tech Veterinary Care

I recently had the pleasure of visiting a state of the art Veterinary Clinic in Florida.  

Do you know what this weird looking piece of equipment is?

Blog Hops.  3D Printers used for Veterinary care.  Dogs, Dog blogs
I was really impressed that this Veterinary clinic is using 3D printing to help repair leg injuries in pets!

I was pretty impressed when I learned that it's a 3D printer used to help Veterinarians caring for pets with leg injuries.  I find that pretty fascinating!

Join us on the BlogPaws Wordless Wednesday blog hop.
Phoebe is reading up on how 3D printing is used in Vet care!

Check back with us in a few days when I share more about the high tech Veterinary care pets are getting at this new state of the art clinic!


Questions to Ask Before You Adopt A Dog

Thinking about adopting a shelter or rescue dog?  Congratulations!  Your decision to Adopt Don't Shop will save a life.  Actually, it will save two lives.  You'll be saving the dog you adopt, and by getting one dog out of the shelter you've made room for another dog that needs to be saved as well!

Before you bring your new best friend home though, you'll want to find out as much as you can about the shelter dog, or rescue dog, you'll be adopting.  

When you go to a shelter and see all those cute adoptable dogs, you can't help but want to save them all!  You can't take them all home, but here are the questions you should ask to help you make the best decision on which dog is right for YOU. 

Important Questions to ask before you adopt a shelter or rescue dog.     #dogs #adoptabledogs
It's important to ensure the dog you adopt is the right fit for you and your family


As an Adoption Counselor at an animal shelter, one of the first things people often ask is "How Big will this dog get?"  It's an important question.  Considering the breed/mix and current age and size of the dog, shelter staff can estimate fairly well how big a dog will be when full grown.  If the dog is a young puppy, it's not as easy.  Sometimes you can only guesstimate how big they'll get.  

Most dogs will be full grown by the age of 18 months.  Giant breeds such as Great Danes can continue growing for 2 years.  It's important to know how large a dog could get in case there are size restrictions for dogs in the apartment or the HOA (Home Owners Association) where you live.  

If you have small children it could be a concern that a large dog could jump on the kids and knock them over.  It may not ever become a concern, but it's something you should be prepared for.  You may need some additional training to Stop the Dog from Jumping up on people.


Ask about the attributes of the breed(s) so you know what to expect.  Energy level and tendencies of the breed are import.  If you’re looking for a hiking or running companion then a high energy dog like a Siberian Husky or Border Collie might be a great companion for you.  If you prefer a mellow dog that doesn't need much exercise, a Husky or Border collie may not be a great fit!  A dog with a less intense energy level like a Shih Tzu, Boston Terrier, or Basset Hound  may be a better fit for your lifestyle.


Will a dog that sheds a lot be an issue for you?  Just because a dog has a smooth coat or very thin hair that doesn't mean she won’t shed.  My sister has a Pug and the shedding drives her crazy!  

If your tolerance for shedding is low, look for non-shedding breeds or dogs that are mixed with a non shedding breed such as the Poodle, Maltese, Shih Tzu, Goldendoodle, or Bichon Frise.   By all means DON'T get a Siberian Husky!  It "snows" indoors at least twice a year!

Questions to ask before you adopt a dog.  How big the dog will get, if he sheds a lot and other attributes may be of concern to you.  #dog #pets
If shedding is a concern for you, look for a dog that is a non-shedding breed or mixed with non-shedding breeds.


It's important to find out if a dog is friendly.  Not just friendly towards people but friendly towards other dogs as well, or at least not aggressive towards other dogs.  Shelter staff and volunteers don't always know for sure, but at most shelters and rescues they can tell if a dog likes people and other dogs.  They behavior assess the dog upon intake and they interact with him on a regular basis.  If they have play groups for the dogs they’ll be able to tell if he’s dog friendly or if he dislikes being around other dogs. 


Sometimes people who already have a dog(s) worry about bringing another dog into their home.  Ask the shelter to arrange a meeting with your current dog and the one you want to adopt to see if they get along.  If they can’t accommodate a meeting, make sure you can bring the dog back if he doesn't get along with your current dog(s).  Ask for guidance on how to properly introduce the dog to your current pets.  Set the dogs up for success, don't just throw them together and hope it works out!

Before you adopt a new dog, ask these important questions.
I wasn't sure how Icy and Phoebe would get along, but  with the right introduction they became close sisters!


Ask what’s included in the adoption fee and what additional costs you might have to pay.  Most shelters and many rescues will have the dog spayed/neutered and include that in the adoption fee.  Vaccinations required up to the dog’s current age, such as Rabies, may also be included.  If you’re adopting a puppy, vaccinations and spay/neuter may need to be done later, at your cost.


Ask if the dog has been treated for any illness or injury at the shelter, or if they are aware of any medical  issues.  If so, ask about follow-up care, prognosis, and potential costs.  Kennel Cough and other respiratory illnesses are common in a shelter environment.   Some shelters will send you home with necessary medications for minor ailments.   Ask if the dog's illness is contagious and what precautions may be needed if you have other dogs at home.  Ask about known behavioral concerns as well and how best to address them.


Ask whether the dog was a stray picked up on the street, an owner surrender, puppy mill or hoarder rescue.  Most will probably be strays with little background information, but ask if there is any information on the dog’s history that might be helpful.

Ask how long the dog has been in the shelter.  Sometimes, long term shelter pets may have become fearful or withdrawn to some degree.  They've been living much of their lives in a cage and may need some extra TLC and time to re-adjust to having space and being a pet again!  I recently shared a blog post about a beautiful long term shelter dog who had been at the shelter for over 2 years!  I just found out she's been adopted.  I'm so happy for her and I'm grateful to whomever adopted her.

If the dog was an owner surrender, ask why the owner gave him up.  Know that sometimes owners lie.  They have
been known to say that a dog is a "bad dog" when in reality they just didn't put the time in to train or had unrealistic expectations. 

Before you adopt a dog, ask these important questions!  #dogs #adoptadog
My foster dog Rudy was the Best dog!  I wanted to adopt him so badly, but it wasn't the right time for us.


There may be little known about the dog's history, but try to find out whatever you can.  Any information they can provide is helpful. 

Ask if the dog has ever bitten anyone that they know of, or if he displays aggression during feeding or playing with toys.  "Resource Guarding" can be a potentially dangerous behavior if it's not dealt with properly.  This type of behavior should have been detected on intake of the dog, but ask to be sure.

Ask if they know whether or not the dog has any fear of, or issues with; kids, cats or other pets, men, people wearing hats, etc.

You can ask if the dog is potty trained.  Puppies almost never are, older dogs often are.  One good indication that shelter staff and volunteers see is if a dog "holds it in" for a long time, not wanting to soil their kennel.  It often means they've been potty trained at some point, they're trying to hold it in until someone takes them outside.  

Dogs who defecate in their kennels, stepping in or laying in their poo, are often not house-broken at all.  They can certainly be trained, it just takes more time.   Any dog brought into a new home environment needs to be shown when and how they are expected to potty.  You can't expect them to figure out where the doors are or when and where they're expected to potty all on their own.

Asking these questions can help you make the best decision about which dog is right for your family, and will give you an idea of what to expect as you bring your new best friend home.  Avoid the heartbreak of finding out that you can't handle the dog you've adopted or that that dog isn't a good fit.  No one should have to go through the pain of returning their adopted dog to the shelter, especially the dog.  

Other blog posts you may like:
If you've adopted a dog with fear issues, find tips on how to Help your Fearful Dog.

Is your heart set on a particular breed of dog?  No need to shop, there are Breed Specific Resuce Organizations for nearly every breed of dog

I know it's tempting, especially during the holidays, but Please Don't get someone else a puppy as a gift! Getting a puppy for someone else could turn out to be the worst "gift" you ever give.

Leave us a comment and tell us what other questions you think are important to ask when adopting a new pet?