Sunday, December 29, 2013

Belated Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays!
Hoping you all had a wonderful holiday and wishing everyone a happy and healthy new year!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Piper Update

We have an update!  Physical exam went well last week. Doc was pleased with his activity level and behavior. In other words, Piper is behaving like his normal, healthy, crazy self. Doc can no longer feel the inflammation in his stomach. Yay! Blood results show most all liver levels normal. A couple still elevated a little bit. We will continue to support with liver enzymes and monitor...but this is good news and he appears to be recovering. Thank you for everyone's thoughts and good wishes. He's a tough guy  Many thanks to Dr. Smith and staff at Galway Veterinary Hospital. Piper is forevermore your patient.

waiting to see the doc

Monday, December 2, 2013


Thanksgiving day took a bad turn when Piper started getting very sick.  He couldn't keep anything down, and even when he didn't eat, he would vomit bile.  We were very thankful and lucky to find a somewhat local, excellent vet willing to come in and examine Piper on Thanksgiving day.  Long story short, Piper was admitted and his blood work showed extremely high liver levels.  "Off the charts" high according to the vet.  Surprisingly in his overnight stay he bounced back quite well.  By Friday he had had two injections of antibiotics and was keeping food and water down again.  He came home with a liver enzyme supplement and antibiotics to help support his liver in hopes it would recover.  We will return in two weeks for another blood draw to find out his status.  Worst case, he has liver disease and we will manage it as long as we can.  Best case would be he somehow took in a toxin and just had a bacterial or viral type infection and with time he will completely heal.  Until then, we wait and are thankful he is feeling well right now and enjoying life.

The Boys

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Turkey Day!

Gobble Gobble

We would like to wish a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING to you and yours.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Easing Into Double Digits

Murray’s big brother Piper turned 10 last week.  It was quite a celebration because there was a time during his early years that we didn’t think we would survive him.  He was a high maintenance puppy
and young dog to say the least.  He chewed everything in sight, was very high strung and a tad aggressive at times. We did a lot of work over the early years with Piper and he slowly adjusted into a well behaved, disciplined dog.  It amazes me that 10 years have passed! Now that he is in double digits and Murray is middle aged at 6, I have taken a closer look at everyday things to help make the aging process a bit easier on them.  Here are a few things we’ve done:

High Quality Dog Food with Glucosamine/Chondroitin

I spent a lot of time researching the dog food I felt was best for my guys last year.  Prior to my investigating I did feel I was feeding a well-known, high quality food, but I hadn’t done any looking into what levels of protein and fats etc would be best for MY particular dogs and THEIR needs.  I also felt I needed to consider other things, like grain vs grain free, flavor varieties (Murray is picky) and where the food is produced (USA) and distributed.  I also wanted to know any and all recall history.  When I looked deeper, I saw the food I was feeding at the time, while a good food, just seemed too high in protein for my dogs. It also had a high number of past recalls.  I knew it was time for a switch.  After comparisons, searches and many trips to the store, I settled on Nutri Source Pure Vita.   It’s a grain free, holistic food with protein levels within my comfort level.  I didn’t find any recalls, it is produced in the USA and I could find it locally (although I do have my food auto-shipped from  An added bonus…it contains  glucosamine/chondroitin along with many antioxidants which is a benefit to any dog but especially aging ones.

Throw Rugs

Sounds funny, but if you have rooms in your house with hard floors (like the kitchen) throw rugs make a huge difference to aging dogs. Piper spends a lot of time in our bathroom (it’s his safe spot from noise) and our kitchen.  We have scattered small throw rugs around these rooms to make sure he has a good grip to get up and down. Luckily he doesn’t show any signs of stiffness yet, but hopefully
aiding in his getting up and down in this way will keep that at bay longer.

Bed Steps

Piper doesn’t get on our bed too often, but Murray does, every night. It’s hard to get him to choose to use the bed steps my husband made for him to get on the bed, but he always chooses to use them getting off the bed.  I am pleased with that for now since most injuries can happen jumping down from high areas as opposed to up.

Dog Bed

We have several dog beds in our house.  Two in the living room and a few upstairs.  I try to make sure they are supportive and comfortable.  We have a bean bag style one, a stuffed one, beds with bolsters and egg crate beds.  No matter what I do though, Piper seems to ball his bed all up and sleep in the mess.

Car Ramp

Our latest change has been purchasing a dog ramp for the guys to get in and out of our Jeep.  It took a few practice sessions, but I think they both have it down now!  Again, I try to use it every time they get out of the car but sometimes they beat me jumping in before I get the ramp out.  This ramp is especially helpful when we're on vacation and in and out of the car multiple times in a day.  I was finding Piper was tiring quickly and ending the day sore.  Since we've had the ramp, that has changed completely.

Happy 10th Birthday, Piper!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Dog Insurance

Tonight I have more of a question for all of you than any tid bits of information or cute pics from me.  I am wondering what information you all can share with me regarding pet insurance.  Our Golden just turned 10 this week, and while he is in seemingly great health, I can't help but look to the future and contemplate the costs that could be involved in his healthcare.  Economic euthanasia is very real for so many people, but I just can't bare the thought.  I want to be able to tend to my dogs' needs, whatever they may be.  We have been lucky thus far and believe me we are grateful.  We have a very reasonable vet when it comes to cost, and our guys have been fortunate with their good health.  So, just thinking and planning any of you have advice or experience about the different kinds of pet insurance out there and what are your thoughts on the whole topic?  Thanks in advance!  You have the floor...

Murray waiting to see his doc

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Vaccine Update

Our vet appointment to discuss our core vaccine schedule went well.  I am very pleased.  I was listened to and we had a useful, detailed conversation.  My vet was comfortable with me choosing to reduce how often we vaccinate for distemper and parvo.  Murray is now 6, and I feel he has been WELL vaccinated at this point.  My vet was open to simply vaccinating every few years or I could choose to titer every few years.  At this point we have not titered.  He was very open and comfortable with how I wanted to proceed.  He didn't think anything I was suggesting was unsafe.  We decided for Piper, he will likely not ever need a core vaccine again.  He will be 10 in a few weeks.  We did do the lymes vaccine because ticks are a very serious problem in our area.  While nothing provides 100% protection from lymes, we agreed as much protection as possible is a good idea.

He did explain why he vaccinates annually as a rule of thumb.  He feels with the clientele he has, he only feels completely comfortable when he's keeping his pet clients covered with their vaccines.  He cannot always be guaranteed he will see a dog or cat on a yearly basis or that they are all being cared for as he feels they should be, so to insure their proper protection, he vaccinates annually.  I was happy he felt reassured in my care for my dogs and therefor entrusted me with my vaccine decisions.  I, in turn, respect that HE is the professional and I thoroughly appreciated his candid thoughts and advice. Seems we have a good doctor patient relationship after-all :)

I hope all of you have veterinarians you can have such informative and helpful conversations with.  I'm grateful I do!

**If you have any specific questions I can answer, please leave a comment below.  There were far too many details from our meeting to include in this update** 


Friday, October 25, 2013

Clicker Practice

In this clip we practice "touch the cup".  Murray must, in some way, touch the red cup on the floor to receive a click and a treat.  My treats should be delivered faster, but clicker and camera in hand was tough.  I think he's got this one down!  :)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Some Tasty Treats- Etta Says

We wanted to share a company we have recently taken notice of.  We LOVE the chews and treats from "fairly" new to us "Etta Says".  We have received several items from this company in our monthly BarkBox, and each one has been a hit.  Most recently we enjoyed the Etta Says Deer Chew, but we have had their bite size treats and other chews as well.  I am pretty picky with what I allow the boys to eat, and I am pleased that their products are made in the USA and natural.  The prices are reasonable too, considering you are getting above average quality treats.  Both Murray and Piper have suffered with allergies over the years.  We feed predominantly grain free and these chews do not cause any flare ups.  We used to feed plain Milk Bones as treats, but since switching from those, their weight, coats and overall health seems improved.  Their energy levels are up as well.  I couldn't be happier!  We highly recommend Etta Says products.   

Etta Says

Friday, October 4, 2013

Vaccines Vaccines Vaccines-OMG!!!

I have been a bit upset recently regarding vaccines.  I have been upset with myself for not doing the proper research (because after all I am my dog's advocate), and also upset with my vet because I'm concerned he's not giving me the best advice.  Over the years I have slowly looked into raising and handling my dogs in the best possible manner.  From choosing high quality food that suits their needs, to leaning into more natural products for bathing and grooming...I have been doing my due diligence trying to keep my boys happy and healthy for as long as possible.  It's terrible enough our pups have such short lifespans, I certainly don't want to be doing anything to make them even shorter!  This is why I am currently on a crusade (as I have called it) to now make adjustments in my vaccinating schedule.  They say when you know better you do better... well that's me in this very moment.  About a year ago in conversation with a fellow dog lover and rescue worker (my cousin), it was mentioned to me that core dog vaccines "should" be given every three years.  A little bell went off in my head.  Three years??  I didn't think that's what my vet was doing.  I was fairly sure I was going in for those core shots far more often than every three years.  So, when I met with my vet this past spring (not to get any vaccines for Murray but to get them for Piper) I asked what schedule he had Murray on as far as his vaccines and I mentioned I was growing concerned do to his lifelong skin issues pointing to an auto-immune disorder and I didn't want any more stress to his system, and he told me every two years was Murray's schedule.  So, off to research some more I went!  Two years didn't jive with what I heard but it was better then yearly!  Now, today my eyes are pretty wide open...or I might say bugging out in shock!  The American Animal Hospital Association (aka AAHA) changed over their core vaccine schedule guidelines in 2006 from annual administration to every three years.  WHAT?!?!  2006?!?!  How had I missed the boat the past 7 years?  Worse, how was my vet missing the boat???  After calming myself down, I called my vet to discuss.  I spoke to one of his assistants. I explained I was calling to make my wellness appointment  but I had a few questions first.  I asked them to specifically check Murray's vaccine schedule.  I was told he received DHP-PV (distemper,hepatitis, parainfluenza and parvo) annually.  Always had.  Then I asked if I could refuse that vaccine.  I was told yes, if I titer him annually.  I then questioned why I couldn't titer him every three years if in fact the AAHA's own guidelines don't even recommend vaccines until three years have passed.  I was again told titers must be done annually.  So, I thanked her for her help, set up the appointment with my vet but explained I would have to discuss this at the appointment further and I wanted no shots and no titers at that point.  I will go on October 26 to see where this all ends up.  In the meantime I have also found out the two other local vets in my area are also vaccinating yearly.  I have, however, found a very reputable vet a little further away who does follow the AAHA guidelines.  If my current vet (whom I like a great deal) refuses to be flexible, I might have to switch.  I, of course want my dogs fully protected through their vaccines, but I do think there are serious risks to over vaccination as well.  I also realize where I live a current rabies vaccine is required by law.  I am strictly referring to the distemper/parvovirus combo shots.  So, my questions for anyone reading this is...Am I making sense?  Do you vaccinate every three years?  Do you titer?  Were you in the dark and totally trusting your vet like me?  So very frustrated!!!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

We Did It!

TA DA!  Murray and I completed our first training course!  It was awesome!  In a matter of minutes we started to learn new skills (or some might say tricks) that we spent several weeks adding to and strengthening.  We now know "go to mat", "targeting my hand" and "targeting a cup", with even more in the works!  I am completely amazed at how effective clicker training is.  I'm sold!  Now lets see...what will be next???  Hmmm


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Canned Food

Feeding my dogs a small amount of canned dog food each day has always been a part of my routine.  My guys love it!  I might even go so far as to say I think they would totally boycott their hard food if I stopped giving them their night feeding with a scoop some meaty recipe a can.  Of course I am careful as to which brand/kind of can food a use (I currently use Merrick), but I do in fact use it everyday.  I think I might be in the minority though.  Seems more and more dog people I speak to tell me they only feed dry food, day in and day out.  Maybe I'm missing the boat here, but I see some definite benefits to feeding wet food moderation.

-adds water to the diet
-increases interest through stronger taste and smell
-easy to chew and swallow for older dogs or dogs with health/mouth issues

What are your thoughts???


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

We Remember

One of more than 300 dogs sent to Ground Zero following September 11, 2001.  You and your humans will not be forgotten.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Scrub A Dub Dub!

Woo Hoo!  End of August/ beginning of September means fewer clippings and baths of the dog variety in our household.  Instead of every few weeks, we now cut back to every other month or so.  Of course we do maintenance trims and clean ups when we find matted fur or the occasional mud pile, but the full on shave down and outside baths under the hose will now be put on hold until next spring.  Murray (and I) are pretty excited about the break!  It's no easy task for he and I!  We did however discover a wonderful little tool for bath time this year that I have to share...a bath scrub brush for dogs!  Now I realize these have probably been around a long while, but in my mind, I didn't see the point of using a brush instead of my hands to scrub him up.  Well, for dogs with dry, itchy skin issues, there is a huge benefit!  Murray has always had allergy skin that much of the time gets dry, flaky and even from time to time a bit inflamed.  At the recommendation of our vet, we purchased a rubber brush specifically for dog baths.  Not only does he LOVE the feeling of the gentle scrubbing on his skin while I'm working the shampoo in, (which makes bath time much easier) but it has helped keep his skin clearer too!  It sloughs off the dead, dried up skin and really helps clean everything up!  With each bath this summer his skin was looking healthier and healthier.  Finally a brushing tool he doesn't run from! 

Bath Brush

Friday, August 30, 2013

I Have a New Cousin!

 She's my new cousin (Mom's aunt's pup)! 
 Isn't she just the sweetest?

I let her borrow my toy

I think she might be taunting me!


I think we like her!

Yep...buddies :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Few Words Wednesday

We are back home safe and sound.  We had a wonderful vacation.  Perfect weather, tasty food and lots of fun!  Always nice to come home after being away too.  Can't wait to get reading your blogs.  Missed everyone!  Here are some favorite vacation pics! 

I wanted to dive in!

A new friend!  He's a schnoodle!

Dog art at the dog park



A LOT of wind!

Some put their toes in the sand, I prefer my nose...

...and my toes.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Cape Cod

A few vacation pics in case you're missing me ;)

Wish you were here!!!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Vacation and a Contest!

A quick post (I'm actually trying out the blogger app for the first time) to let everyone know I will be catching up with YOUR blogs after we return from vacation.  Today we bounced around Boston and tomorrow we head into Cape Cod!  We can almost smell the ocean :). The boys are busy busy! Lots to see today in Boston!  ***Oh I almost forgot!...while the boys and I waited in the car for Jamie to grab take out lunch, Murray climbed into the drivers seat as he always does (for a better look out the windshield).  Next thing I know, a construction worker on his lunch break is snapping a pic as he walked by us of the driving doodle!  BOL

On another note, Murray entered a local contest.  Any of you on Facebook that would be willing to vote for him, we would greatly appreciate it! You would search and then like "Harvey's Home, Garden and Pet Center".  Under the contest link you should recognize Murray, but if not, he's the "lifedog on duty".  Thanks so much!  Off to the dog park!  WOOF!!  Have a great weekend everyone :)

Monday, July 22, 2013

When Stress Attacks

Murray is a pretty happy go lucky, relaxed dog, but when something stresses him, you sure know it!  Things like sudden separation anxiety when he has not been without me for a long period of time, some strange people, when he feels sick, the exam room at his vet's office, and water that is deep enough to require him to swim (he can't) are some of the things Murray stresses about when faced.  I have luckily learned that distracting him from his stressor as much as possible helps a ton!  Talking to him, or asking him to give a paw shake can sometimes be enough to break his nervous focus on whatever is plaguing him. Sometimes it's just not enough though.  Something I have started doing that has become more useful than anything else is a little "dog massage".  Now I realize it's not always convenient to stop and start massaging you dog on the spot, so I often use it at the end of a particularly stressful day.  If we had a vet visit, grooming (Murray hates being clipped and bathed) or maybe after we've had company, a massage is a great way to end Murray's day on a positive note.  I find if we do a few minutes of massaging before bed, his body relaxes, he sleeps soundly and it helps keep his nerves at bay a bit more with future stress.  An added bonus is there are several more benefits to massaging your dog aside from just stress relief.  I printed out a copy of an infographic Life and Dog put together a long while ago and thought I'd share it here too.  Take a look and print one for yourself.  Some great information here.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Beating the Heat

In our neck of the woods we are in a major heat wave.  High humidity and temperatures in the mid 90's daily.  Needless to say, it is very uncomfortable!  Dog owners must remember if is uncomfortable for them, it is uncomfortable for their dogs.  Since dogs can't speak to us, (at least not in our human language) we need to recognize their signals of discomfort and distress and have techniques and products in place to help cool our pups.

Let me start with a giant reminder...DO NOT LEAVE YOUR DOG IN A PARKED CAR FOR ANY LENGTH OF TIME DURING WARM MONTHS OF THE YEAR!!!  Please look online at the multitude of information to teach yourself about just how fast your car heats up (even with windows cracked) and how quickly this can kill a dog.  Also, PLEASE TEST GROUND SURFACE TEMPERATURE WITH YOUR OWN FEET BEFORE WALKING YOUR DOG ON IT. IT CAN AND DOES BURN THEIR PAW PADS!  Sorry for the caps, but as a dog lover, these two issues are especially concerning to me.  That all being said, let me move on.  The "cool" people over at The Uncommon Dog designed an awesome infographic to give you quick, helpful tips and information with just a simple glance.

Kiddie pools are becoming ever more popular to dog owners.  Maybe soon someone will actually market "doggie pools"!  Until then, kid pools do the job.  Whether you have a "soaker" like my Piper or a "splasher" like Murray, kiddie pools do the trick for a quickie cool down.  Piper plops himself right in and stays a while.  You can almost hear the "ahhh" this week when he plunks himself down sending much of the pool water cascading out and down my yard.  Murray is not a soaker.  He likes to play in the pool.  Dunking his head for a ball, kicking his paws, and running and jumping in are his pool time preferneces.  Either way, the result is the cool dog!

Does your pup have a favorite spot to lay in your yard?  Piper likes our patio.  Murray likes to be under our pool deck.  Sometimes all I do is wet them and our patio/ground down for a refreshing spot to nap in the shade.  Wetting down your dog and a shady spot in your yard can do just the trick!

Make sure plenty of fresh, cool water is readily available at all times in the heat.  One fill of a big bowl a day is not sufficient.  Would YOU want to drink water that has been sitting out in the heat all day?  No!  Neither does your dog.  Refresh it with a refill a few times a day.  I even add ice!

Don't be an AC hog.  If you have air conditioning in only one room of your house, make sure your dog gets to spend some time in their with you!  We're all in need of need a cool break, even your dog.

A couple other items that I have found to prolong their cooling off period are "cool collars" and "cool beds".  There are several styles and brand of each of these on the market, so research one that fits you specifically.  Both the collars and the beds are designed to remain cool for a length of time to help keep your dog at a more comfortable temperature.  I have found mine both work very well, and I would recommend looking into both of these.

So, please make sure you are keeping a close eye on your furry friends.  They depend completely on you to keep them safe.  Please don't let them down.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

An Award!

We received the Versatile Blogger award from All Things Collie! Thank you so very much!  These collies are some beautiful dogs and their mom writes awesome posts! I really enjoy following them.  Please stop by their blog and say hey!   Now the Versatile Blogger Rules:

Add the Versatile Blogger award photo on a blog post.  

Thank the person who presented you with the award and link back to him or her in your post.  

Pass the award along to some favorite bloggers.  Contact the chosen bloggers and let them know about the award. 

Share Seven Things About Yourself.  

Seven things about us:
1. I have been blogging for one whole year now!
2. We travel as a family.  Dogs and humans together.
3. I (Murray) have one dog brother (Piper) and two cat brothers.
4. We just found a beehive in our yard!  Ut Oh!
5. We got a new "cool bed" for the summer!
6. This is our 4th award in our blogging lifetime :)
7. I (Murray's mom) am taking a clicker training course online and loving it!  :)

 I would like to give the Versatile Blogger award to the following blogs:

Small Tales
Jo's World
A Tail of Two Cardis
The Legacy Chronicles
Mollie & Alfie
Dachshund Nola
Urban Hounds
The Hailey and Zaphod Chronicles
Murphy & Stanley
FRANKly and ERNESTly Speaking
Molly The Wally
Furries of Whisppy
Sugar The Golden Retriever Dog Blog

I could go on and on as I follow so many amazing bloggers.  I made myself stop at 15.   

Friday, July 5, 2013

Our First Trip of the Summer!

A few pics of our first camping trip of the season!  Good food, some splashing around in the river and we even visited my alma mater!  We had lots of fun!

Are we there yet?
Mom's college

This posing stuff is BORING!
Piper, where you goin?

Out for a stroll

She Deserves Better