Posted on Leave a comment

Dog Dental Products We Can’t Live Without!

Dog Dental Acre

Our dogs dental care is one of the most important contributions we can make as pet parents to our dog’s overall health. It can also be a really big challenge as dog’s are not always on board with getting their teeth brushed. I have a mix of super cooperative dogs and also a few that absolutely won’t let me near their little choppers at all. My preference is always to do dental care at home but the reality is that some dogs have to dog to vet for a dental every year.

Over the years I have tried just about every pet dental product on the market for home dental care; here are a few of my favorites.

Dog Dental Toothbrushes

Ok, don’t laugh. My favorite toothbrush to use on my dogs is the Oral B Spin Brush. Getting a dog used to an electric tooth brush takes a little time but it is totally worth it. Electric tooth brushes do a far better job of cleaning teeth and are so much easier on the gums. Training dogs to tolerate the spin brush takes only a few simple steps. Introduce them to being brushed with the tooth brush off…no biggie…if they accept a regular tooth brush they probably won’t be bothered by a spin brush that is off. Brush their teeth with the brush off for several sessions but also turn the brush on and off over and over right next to them and reward them every time the brush goes on (I use teeny tiny training treats for rewards). Use your cheery voice to make the sound of the toothbrush very exciting. Keep moving the brush closer to their mouth turning it on and off. Eventually put it in their mouth for a second or so. Slowly work up to actually touching it to their teeth. If you stick with it they will accept it eventually. Some of my dogs have no problem with the spin brush except for the very front smaller teeth which are more sensitive so I turn the brush off for those teeth. Training my dogs to get brushed with a spin brush has paid big dividends in keeping their teeth healthy and we don’t have bleeding gums like you often get with a regular brush.

Many of the dogs that arrive here at the Manor have had a lifetime of little to no dental care and suffer from what I call “trench mouth”. A lot of rotten, smelly and very sore teeth. When they are healthy enough they get a professional dental treatment. But to get them started with home dental care I use disposable dental sponges. I buy these in bulk off of Amazon. The sponges are a really great way to brush without hurting already sensitive gums. I also them on my teeny tiny breed dogs whose mouths are so small that that it almost impossible to get a tooth brush in.

Dog Dental Toothpaste

I am huge fan of Virbac products. I have been using their dog toothpaste for over 20 years. It comes in a variety of flavors but we always order the poultry flavor. My dogs love it. Virbac products are NOT cheap. I order mine in 6 packs from American Diabetes Wholesale as this is the best price I have found for all of Virbac products. There are less expensive options for dog toothpaste on the market; perhaps even check with your vet as they may offer some. Please don’t use human toothpaste on your dogs though. Dogs don’t spit…they have to swallow the toothpaste you use on them so it needs to be safe for dogs to ingest.

I have written in the past about Virbac dental chews. I am really strict about what my dogs are allowed for snacks and chews. These are the only chews I allow my dogs and I have used them for over 20 years. I purchase these at American Diabetes Wholesale as well. Again, they are not cheap but they do really help with dental health and I have never had a choking or digestion issue with them. Their chews come in sizes; XL to very small.

Dog Dental Tatar Control

Even with regular brushing my dogs still get some tartar on their teeth. I use both a hand held scaler and an electric scaler to remove tartar. If its a tartar spot that is small and easy to scrape off I use a small hand held scaler. On tougher spots I use an electric scaler (you can get fairly inexpensive scalers these days on Amazon). The electric scaler takes a while. I don’t press the scaler on their teeth rather I just run it along the tough tartar several times…usually over several sessions. Eventually the tartar will break loose. If I’m working on removing tartar I do very small amounts of work at a time. This is not a fun event for any dog so I keep sessions really short and always reward them for working with me.

When I get a new dog that doesn’t have “trench mouth” requiring a professional dental but definitely needs some tartar removal I also use an Oral Care gel. There are a lot of gels and sprays on the market for helping to remove tartar. I would ask your vet before using any of them to make sure the ingredients are safe. I would also caution you that most of them (including the one I use) have alcohol in them so this is not something you want to use a lot and you really should read the dosing instructions carefully. The gels can help loosen up some tough tartar spots but they are definitely not something I would use as part of a daily dog dental routine (no matter what the packaging says).

One last product that I absolutely love to use (on both me and the dogs) is BR Rinse. Its an all natural rinse that keeps breath fresh and teeth white. For the dogs I pour a small amount of the rinse over the toothpaste on their toothbrush. It helps keep their choppers sparkly and their breath fresh.


I have two dogs at the Manor that cannot be anesthetized so they cannot ever have a professional dental treatment; Snoopy is one of them. So dog dental care really is no joke around here and we brush teeth every day. The only way to completely avoid ever needing a professional dental is daily brushing…that is straight from the vet. My Mountain Cur, Buster, is almost 10 years old and he has never had to have a dental because we brush daily. I am not being judgey…believe me…I have several senior small breed females that have to get professional dentals every single year…they will absolutely not have any part of daily tooth brushing. But with most dogs it really can be done if you really work at it and make it fun for them.

Thanks for reading our post! I wish you happy at home dog dental care! Sign up for our blog if you would like future posts. We blog about life at Misfit Manor about once per week. Our happy pack of Misfits love sharing their adventures and stories.

We are super excited about the new line of Dog Mom Planner Accessories we have added to our shop! Dog mom life is a busy life but being organized can still be fun and look pretty! Our planner accessories make great dog mom gifts too!

Pawty On!

Nancy & The Misfits

Posted on Leave a comment

Misfit Manor Diary….laser therapy for dogs

Misfit Manor Laser therapy for dogs
Misfit Manor, Nancy Halverson
Miss Allie

The magic of laser therapy for dogs. A few weeks ago our sweet little Allie broke out in screams of pain while we were handing out breakfast plates to all the Misfits. Her body became stiff and as she has a really bad heart condition we feared the worst and raced her to our vet. It turned out that her heart was fine; but she experiencing horrible disc pain in her back. Our vets gave her a steroid shot and sent us home with some meds and instructions to laser her at least 2x per day.

Luckily, we have our own veterinary laser at home. We have a unique household in that the majority of the pets here are either very senior or handicap. Our vets introduced us to laser therapy years ago with our dog Sam and we became instant fans. Laser treatments provide immediate relief for dogs that have arthritis as well as speed up healing for injuries such as surgical wounds or hot spots. Laser treatments at the veterinarians office are quick and easy albeit a little spendy when you have a lot of pets who need therapy.

As our Misfit head count of arthritic dogs grew it became unrealistic from both a time and expense standpoint for us to rely solely on trips to the vet for laser therapy. We started researching purchasing our own laser to treat the Misfits at home.

laser therapy for dogs

I invested a lot of time and energy into figuring out which laser made the most sense and fit in our budget. We settled on the Multiradiance My Pet Laser. We have had this laser for almost two years now and love it. It is definitely the best investment we have made in our pet’s health.

Rosie gets daily laser treatments.

We have five girls in the household now that get daily laser treatments multiple times per day. I call them the laserettes! Four of them have arthritic back and/or hip issues. Rosie has a genetic disorder that prevents her muscle development and storage of fat on her body. Rosie gets her legs lasered as well as her chest and jaw. The benefits of having my own laser at home are immense. While the initial investment in the equipment was bit of a financial pinch the time and money we save has paid us back very quickly. Having our own equipment at home also allows me to laser the girls as often as necessary. Petunia’s back issues can cause temporary weakness in her back legs and she will actually lose control and drag her back legs. Regular lasering has kept the leg weakness largely at bay and when she has a bad day I can laser her several times in one day and get her back up and running.

The process of purchasing the laser was fairly easy. I contacted the company directly. It shipped quickly and I was given training sessions over the phone and advice on how to treat the range of issues that my dogs have. The laser is small, light weight, durable and obviously super portable.

laser therapy for dogs

The added benefit is that we use the laser on ourselves too! Neither of us our young anymore and it is really nice to have a tool at home to ease arthritic pain in our own joints!

If you are thinking of purchasing your own laser I recommend doing a lot of research. There are so many different technologies on the market now and in a wide price range as well. This laser was the best fit for us. (I am in no way endorsing or being paid to endorse this laser…just sharing my experience to help other dog moms). Just to be clear; laser therapy is a treatment for arthritis…it is not a cure. It is something that we do for our dogs every single day. The laser is also not the only tool in our tool kit for fighting arthritis pain. We also utilize vibration therapy (theraplate), swim therapy and a variety of supplements.

To finish Miss Allie’s story…we were able to get her disc issues back on track within a week and she is running around being sassy and bossy again!

Dog Crown, Dog Birthday Hat, Dog Wedding Attire, Misfit Manor Shop

Life isn’t just lasers and vet visits here though. We have a lot of fun too! Maddie and I are having a blast designing a new line of dog crowns for our shop! Between getting our own online shop up and running (we are hoping to not have to use Etsy at some point) and designing new products we have been working like dervishes around here!

We have a newly revamped Misfit Manor Pawty Page on Pinterest…check it out when you have time for some really fun Pawty and dog lover content! And our Instagram page is steadily growing!

Thanks for taking a few minutes from your day to read our post! If you have time… check out our sweet little Misfit Manor Shop!

Blessings from our pack to yours!

Nancy & The Misfits

Posted on Leave a comment

Misfit Manor Diary – Trudy’s Halo

Trudy arrived here in one of the more difficult circumstances…at least in terms of adjusting to her new life at Misfit Manor. Being both blind and deaf she had so much to get used too…large yard and house…and lots of dogs.

In the house Trudy adjusted really quickly! She memorized the lay out of the house really fast…impressive! She runs around this house like she owns it…and she does not run in to anything (unless I stupidly leave something out of place).

Outside of the house though is a different story…its a big scary world for a pint sized blind and deaf dog. I am perfectly fine if Trudy is happy living her life going no where but Misfit Manor….she can have a full life here. But I also felt like I owed it to her to see if she has a flair for adventure.

I saw on ad on Facebook for a “halo” for blind dogs and thought we have to give this a try. I have been working with Trudy for several days getting her acclimated to her new halo.

I only worked with her when we were outside of the house. I want her to know that putting on her halo means its time for an adventure.

The halo comes in 3 pieces; the harness, the padded wings and the actual halo.

I took time to let her adjust to wearing each piece in small steps.

Step 1 was the harness…would seem easy but I am not sure Trudy has ever had a harness on because she had a bit of fit initially. I put it on and took it off her several times in a row…treating her profusely every time it went on. I did this several times a day for several days…she now could care less if she has a harness on.

Step 2 was the wings (that the halo itself actually attaches too). That was pretty smooth…she really didn’t mind the addition of the wings. They are super light so I am not sure she really noticed them much. I only introduced either piece when we were outside of the house.

Step 3 was the actual halo. I attached the halo to the wings before I put the wings on her. The halo is so light that I highly doubt she knew it was there until it actually functioned for her. I had to bend her halo to make it longer to be a good fit for the longer snout of a dachshund…it came more rounded for a flatter faced dog.

It did not take long for Trudy to figure out that there was a halo there to protect her…initially she barked a lot every time the halo hit something in front of her…but as she ran around the yard…a yard that is full of large toys…other dogs….rock walls and more… she quickly figured out she now had something keeping her from doing a face plant into objects. As I worked with Trudy with her halo I only did it for really short periods of time at first. Trudy very quickly figured out that she can now run safely…she is “hell in a halo” in the yard now.

Trudy’s first walk with her Halo!

Once Trudy was comfortable in the backyard with her halo I started taking her out of the yard. It did not dawn on me until the first try at a walk that Trudy has probably never been walked on leash. She had no clue what to do. I gave her as much slack as I could and let her rip. Typically when Trudy is in unfamiliar territory she is pretty cautious and moves really you can see in her video she was trotting around like she owned it.

I am super happy with the halo product. It will give sweet Trudy the opportunity to have adventure outside of her familiar territory without fear of getting hurt.

Trudy is such a blessing. I am the luckiest dog mom alive!

Blessings from our pack to yours!


Posted on Leave a comment

Misfit Manor Diary – Products I can’t live without!

With so many dogs in my house and four vacation rental properties I feel like I spend half of my life cleaning.  Believe it or not even with so many dogs my house is really clean…and I have a few secrets!

As much as I love pets…I can’t stand for my house to smell like pet.  I also allow pets in one of my vacation rentals and there is no way I can let that apartment ever smell like pet.  I have tried pretty much every cleaning product on the market and I have a few that I absolutely can’t live with out.

The first (and definitely my favorite product) is Angry Orange.  Angry Orange is the best cleaning deodorizing product I have found and trust me I have tried almost everything.  I add it to my bucket of mop water.  I keep a spray bottle of water and Angry Orange for dusting.  I sprinkle it on my steam mop.  I also use it to clean and deodorize the outdoor pet yard.  If I find I spot where someone has had an accident I clean it up with clorox first and then let Angry Orange sit on the spot for about 30 minutes and then wipe it up.

Besides the effectiveness of this product being really good it is non-toxic to pets and it is safe for tile and wood floors (which is all I have in my house).

The second product I cannot live with out is Zep Wall Cleaner Foam.   Let’s face it…dogs shake slobber, water, food, boogies and other unmentionables off of themselves and on

to the walls.  Wiping your walls with most products ruins the paint job on the wall.  I use this wall cleaner in the house and in my vacation rentals and I LOVE IT.  It doesn’t take the paint off and it cleans most marks off the wall.  My vacation rentals constantly get scuffs on the walls from people dragging in suitcases, dog crates, etc….this product makes the walls look clean again.  For the record I use really high quality paint from Sherwin Williams.  I don’t know how this would work with a lower quality paint so if you have cheap paint on your walls I would spot test it first.  In general I like all of ZEP’s products.  I use their shower cleaner in my rentals (it is fabulous) and their glass cleaner works far better than say a product like Windex.

The third product I can’t live without is my steam mop.  Because I don’t want harsh chemicals on my floors that are dangerous to my dogs I don’t use any product on the floors but Angry Orange.  But Angry Orange really isn’t, at least for me, sanitizing enough.  I vacuum and steam mop my floors every morning.   Let’s face it…dogs scooch their buts across the floor, they drool, they drag lord knows what in on their feet…the floors just have to be sanitary.  I use a Shark Steamer.   Its the only steamer I’ve tried so I don’t have any opinion on how it works relative to others.  It does last quite a long time though and it does the job.  I have a weeks worth of pads for it and toss them in the washer with hot water to get them clean.  I do sprinkle Angry Orange on the pads when I use them.

The last tool I use is my diffuser.  I buy the Innogear diffusers.   I usually don’t need it in the house but sometimes in my rentals someone will have cooked something that smells horrid or they have a dog in there that smells like it hasn’t bathed in a year.  I run my diffusers in the apartments while I’m cleaning with a mix of orange oil and lavender oil.  I’ll run them for a day if necessary.  Along with a good cleaning the diffuser will eliminate most odors pretty quickly.  A tip on using diffusers…they need to be cleaned.  About every 10 times or so that I use them I empty them and put a little vinegar in the chamber for a few hours to clean the residue off from the oils.

For all the dog moms out there fighting the good fight on keeping your house clean I hope you find this helpful!

Don’t forget our Pawty Shop of you are planning a special day for you pups!

Rescue On!



Posted on Leave a comment

Misfit Manor Diary – the dog that won’t eat.

Misfit Manor, The Rescue Mama, Feeding a difficult dog
Rosie eating in her booster seat!

Each dog that comes to Misfit Manor teaches me something new.  Rosie’s role is to teach me all about how to feed a dog that has difficulty eating.

Misfit Manor
This one day’s worth of homemade dog food. I make a fresh batch every day.

Rosie has been with me for almost two months and she has a complex set of issues surrounding eating so I have had to learn fast. Rosie often gags and chokes when she eats.  I figured out pretty quickly that she needs to eat sitting up (she also has no ability to bark).  She has some sort of partial paralysis/neuromuscular issue with her mouth and throat.   

Rosie also has difficulty masticating her food (chewing).  I feed her very small bites of food…one at a time.  I don’t give her anything that would be really difficult to chew.  I also push her food back on her tongue slightly so she can chew it with her back teeth.

Rosie is absolutely gorgeous!

She also gets very tired during eating.  Sometimes she is just a few bites into her meal and she is exhausted….her jaw muscles just seem to stop cooperating.  She will try to eat but the food just falls out the side of her mouth.  

Sometimes Rosie just seems to get bored with eating and refuses to pay attention to me or the food.  She will actually bury her head in her booster seat to intentionally ignore me and her dinner.

She is also INSANELY PICKY.  A dish she seemingly loved for breakfast…a few hours later she spits right back at me.

I love a challenge…especially when it comes in the form of such a sweet and beautiful dog.  I have pulled everything I have out of my dog mom bag of tricks.  Here are some of the ways I am handling getting enough calories in Rosie every day…

  1. I feed her sitting up in a high chair and I hand feed her small bites of food one at a time.  It’s time consuming…but it works.  The gagging on food rarely happens and I can be certain just exactly what she is eating (rather than assuming she ate it but one of the other dogs actually ate it).
  2.  I feed her 4-5 several small meals per day.  Because she seems to fatigue so fast from eating the small meals seem to work better.  My goal is to get at least a cup of food in her each day (not including treats).
  3. I add vitamins.  Twice a day I crush a multi-vitamin into a spoonful of peanut butter. (I use PetMD multi-vitamins).  Most days she is really enthusiastic about the peanut butter.  When she is not cooperating I gently open her mouth and put the peanut butter on the roof of her mouth with my finger.
  4. I added Lixotinic (an iron and B12 supplement) to raise her energy and appetite.  While it took a few days so see an impact from the Lixotinic it has had a very noticeable impact on her appetite.
  5. I break the dog mom rules.  I am fairly militant about what my dogs eat.  I cook their food from scratch…organic, fresh and homemade.  With Rosie I have had to let that go sometimes.  Rosie gets sick of food fairly quickly.  There have been some days when I have cooked her three different meals before I could find something she would eat.  If the only thing I can get her to eat is Macaroni & Cheese (true story)…then for that day I will concede and let her eat that.
  6. I warm her food up.  For some reason Rosie likes her food slightly warm.  
  7. I trick her!  Rosie is always interested in what I am eating when I sit down at the kitchen table.  On days when she is refusing to eat her meals.  I let it go for awhile.  I later pull her food out…warm it up and then sit down at my kitchen table and pretend I am eating it.  She comes over to see what I have and I pretend I am giving her table scraps.  What she refused to eat 1 hour ago…she is now gobbling down. I will also start giving some of her food to my other dogs if she is being difficult.  That usually perks her interest in her food.
Sleeping Beauty

I couldn’t adore Rosie more than I do.  I am learning a lot about working with a difficult eater.  Rosie is very young (about 1 year old) so I am determined to work at finding the best solutions as this will be a lifelong struggle for her.  If you have any dog mom magic tricks for getting difficult dogs to eat…please share!

Rescue On,


Check out my Pinterest Page for loads of fun dog ideas (crafts, recipes, pawties, etc)!


Posted on Leave a comment

Misfit Manor Diary..and then there was Rosie…

There is no such thing as a dull moment at Misfit Manor.  While so many of my days seem filled with routine…routine is pretty crucial to juggling a large family of dogs…nothing about life here is ever dull. 

Several weeks ago I took in a new Misfit. Her name is Rosie.  She has some issues that are yet medically unidentified.  Perhaps they will never be identified.

She cannot bark.  She struggles with swallowing her food.  When she first arrived she was walking very little.  The vets believe she has some sort of neuro-muscular disorder…but no hard diagnosis as of yet.    We recently had a muscle biopsy done…no results yet.  Initially I had to carry her everywhere in the house…she had no strength to get up and walk (despite being on steroids).

.., if I left the room without her she would pant and whine and I would go running back for her. She was making little to no effort to get and up walk on her own.

Feeding Rosie is a daily battle.  I quickly figured out that she needs to eat sitting up or she gags and chokes on her food.  I feed her in a little doggie booster seat I have…one small bit of food at a time. She also gets bored with eating…or perhaps just tired…and we have have to take a lot of breaks.   She is also incredibly fussy.  There are days where I  have to cook her 3 different breakfasts just to find something she wants to eat.  I will not give up finding the best solutions for her.

But things are also changing a lot in the last few weeks.  She has morphed from rarely getting up and walking on her own at all to walking on her own most of the day.  She still has moments where her legs just give out and she plops on her belly.  But she gets right back up and tries again.  She has gained quite a bit of weight as well.  The last two days I have taken her on very short walks.

She loves wagon riding!  Initially she would just lay down in the wagon the whole time.  Now she is stronger and she sits up or stands while she is in the stroller.  I’m guessing she has covered more ground in the last few weeks than she has in her whole life.

Rosie has blended perfectly in to our broader family of Misfits.  Her initial introductions went very smoothly and she continues to play nicely with her housemates.  I am always grateful (and frankly fairly amazed) at how well all my Misfits do together…there is an energy level in this house that I do not understand…but am eternally grateful for.   All of my Misfits come from difficult backgrounds…yet once they are here they are very gracious about welcoming new family and helping each other grow.

Rosie has been a lovely addition….Betty adores her (and so does Buster).  Betty continues to amaze me…she remains so strong and determined yet she is the gentlest creature I have ever met.   She shadows Rosie…wherever Rosie goes Betty follows.

Betty continues to do fabulously.  We have pulled out all the stops for her…acupuncture, laser treatment, plasma injections…it is working…she loves going to the park…she would wander in a field all day if I let her.  She struggles sometimes with getting up…but that is what mommy is for.   Once I lift her up…she is off!

The Manor is a busy place…I run two businesses to keep my fur family going and thank the gods both of my business are thriving.  We are currently working hard to save money to buy our own laser machine…old dogs with sore joints is the norm here and it would be so much more economical to have our own laser machine…hopefully soon!

While there are days it seems like a live in a very narrow tunnel…I don’t leave the Manor unless I absolutely have too…I’m not oblivious to the world either….I watched the elections…the coverage of the fires in CA…my heart aches for our broken world…there are always rays of hope though…I find solace in doing my part right here…taking care of my band of Misfits that had no where else to go…I wish for everyone that you may find your hearts calling…because when you do…nothing can jar you from your path.

The holiday selling season is a critical time for my online stores.  If you need a gift item for a dog mom/dog dad in your life please browse my Etsy shop.  I have a lot of really cute affordable items for dog lovers.

Rescue on!




Posted on Leave a comment

The Misfit Manor Diary

bettyisamazin1I believe there are very few things in life that are certain…besides death  and change.  I am not one who fears death and the older get the easier it is for me to embrace change.   My own life has traveled so many different paths…professionally, spiritually, geographically…its been quite a ride   I also believe that one of the luxuries of getting older is that we can look back at all the vagaries of our lives and appreciate them and welcome new opportunities to evolve as a person.

I’ve also learned to listen much more closely to what my body and spirit are telling me… to tune out things like fear, expectations, social norms and the demands of people who really don’t have my best interest in mind.

The day Betty was sprung from the shelter.

I recently took on a new girl here at the manor; Betty.  This picture is the day she was pulled from the shelter by Paws4theCause.  She came here to the manor as a hospice case…and I use the word hospice loosely…she is doing quite well despite the fact she has some issues ambulating.  I expect Betty will be here for quite awhile.  The moment of Betty’s arrival was like a massive tail wind to my spirit.  She is joy…she brings 20170625_204746out the very best in me.  I love every minute of caring for this special girl.

20170625_205627My days with Betty have solidified what is next for me.   This month I am going to officially apply for my 5013c status and become a formal rescue focused solely on special needs dogs.   I will have the time and resources to focus on these dogs without distraction as a 5013c.  Much will stay the same here at the Manor…but some things will change.  I already have a good support system for my life with rescue dogs.  I run my online shops solely for their benefit (I will roll them in to the non-profit) and I am blessed by a lot of kind-hearted people who have supported my work with dogs in many ways (including financially).   Once I finish the process of getting my status I will be able to give tax deduction receipts to my supporters instead of just expressing my gratitude.  I will get some tax advantages that will help me allocate more resources to the dogs.  I will also be able to apply for grants for necessities like laser therapy machines and other (crazy expensive) physical therapy tools we could use here in the house as well building a special needs nursery for them in my home.

Betty’s first acupuncture treatment

I have zero aspirations to be a large rescue…I will continue to focus on a handful of cases at a time but they will all be special needs…and as we all know that gets really expensive.  For a long time I felt fear about taking on dogs that I knew were going to have big vet bills…but every single time it works out.  Every time there is a new bill…the money we need shows up…every. single. time.  I believe the universe has the backs of me and these very special dogs.

I will start changing how I communicate with people; less social media and more blogging and direct networking with donors and volunteers.  I don’t believe that general broadcasting of my work on social media is actually a benefit to the work I do but rather a significant distraction.

I have scattered pictures of Betty throughout this post.  She is lovely…she will be face of this major decision for me forever.  I have so much to do to make this change happen…but I am so excited I could burst!

I wish that everyone finds the time to discover the work that makes their soul sing…because when you do…nothing else matters.

Rescue On!




Posted on Leave a comment

Confessions of an imperfect dog mom: Preparing to Nest

My spirit animal!

There is something about this time of year that fosters an organic ability for me to relax.  Relaxing does not typically come naturally for me.  But the air is cooler in the morning, the spiders are huge, my spice garden is ready to harvest, and the days are getting noticeably shorter…change is in the air.

spider web
This amazing piece of arachnidart hangs above my main gate and below my Hemlock tree…its absolutely stunning.

This year there seems to be an urgency about getting ready for fall and winter.  The squirrels on my property are working at a dervish pace, there are wooly worms everywhere and trees seem to be turning pre-maturely.  There was a time when I dreaded fall for what comes after it.  I hated the shorter days and without a daily energy boost from the sun all winter I would slip in to some pretty deep winter blues. download But I’m in a different season of life and now I look forward to burrowing in for the winter.  My work load on the property slows down considerably and I can allow myself more time for art, play, cooking and spiritual pursuits…perhaps even a vacation this year.  I can’t wait to have this time to slow down and re-charge.  The older I get the more clarity I have into the relevance of the cycles and spirals of all life; the agricultural seasons, the cycle of birth and death and the constant sprials of evolving as an older woman.  I find the this latest cycle to be one of the most empowering times in my life.

Each season inspires a specific basket of dominant feelings/emotions in me…in spring its hope…but in fall its gratitude.  I love the colors, smells, sounds of fall..they make me feel grounded and quiet.  I feel grateful for the income that my businesses have provided all summer.  And I feel grateful knowing that an extended period of rest is near on the horizon.

I had not realized how much I resemble a squirrel until I started writing this post…perhaps they are my spirit animals.  All summer I feel like a squirrel while I’m hard (but joyfully) at work squirreling away my nuts for the winter.  And with the addition of Heloise to my family it seems like I sleep in a literal “nest” every night.  She is terribly shy and still won’t stand for being picked up or carried around.  Since I can’t convince her to go up to my bedroom at night I’ve been sleeping on an air bed in my den for over two months so she can be with the whole family at night.  She, and the other 8 dogs, pile on the airbed with me.

My babies piled on the air bed with me….love.

Heloise loves being in the mix; some nights she sleeps right on my belly.

I know she appreciates that we all stay close to her.  She tells me often that she “belongs”…that seems to be her word.  She is a very happy and playful girl despite her strong boundaries with touching…I am patient and I feel incredibly grateful for the trust she has already shown in me.  I posted a video of her playing with Snoopy at the bottom of this post.  She is joy.

Me and my fur family live a life where we try for the most part to keep to

Banishing Spray

ourselves…that is not always possible and there have been some uncomfortable incidents and lingering negative energy on one side of my property at Misfit Manor. I’ve been pulling out my full arsenal of prayers, blessings and tricks to put a stop to it.  Today I harvested a variety of sage, rosemary and lavender from my herb garden.

Making a banishing spray from herbs from my garden.

I am steeping them in charged rain water to make a protection spray to keep clear that corner of the property of any lingering nefarious energy and also work with in the house when I don’t want to burn my herbs.  The smell of steeping fresh herbs is so earthy and comforting.  I posted a cheat sheet on my banishing spray (though if you are interested I would encourage you to really craft your own with ingredients and intention that flows from your heart and intuition).



Snoopy’s 2nd Birthday Pawty!

The Pawty business continues to grow for me.  I appreciate everyone who supports my shop.  Vet bills on 9 dogs and 2 cats are no joke and my shop is a big source of how I fund it.  Petunia continues to get laser therapy several times a week for her back; as well as acupuncture treatments.   Millie and Petunia just had dentals…it adds up fast.

Millie & Petunia resting after their dentals.

Every time I realize that the “pet account” is running low I take a deep breath and trust that what I need will come….and it always does.  Every time I hear the Etsy “register ring” sound on my phone I feel a profound sense of gratitude.

Blessings to you and yours as we enter the fall season… may you find gratitude, renewal and peace in this beautiful season.

Rescue On!



Posted on 1 Comment

She doesn’t respond because she has never had a name…why I consult with Pet Mediums.

I am aware that people are all over the board in regards to their views on consulting psychics/mediums.   I have worked with several mediums over the last decade and have found it to be a great tool when working with my rescue dogs.   All of the dogs that come to Misfit Manor come from rotten circumstances…sometimes I know

from their rescuers what the details of their lives were.  Others I can only look at the physical and emotional condition they are in when they arrive and make assumptions.   Using a medium when I am working with an unknown past has proved beneficial not just to me but even more so for the dog.

We recently took in a small senior mixed breed dog that was in the worst condition (physically and emotionally) of any animal that has come to our home.  Beside the obvious issues; emaciated, anemic, flea bitten and infected skin, she was very aloof…almost seemed slightly feral…like she had absolutely no idea what to do with a human.  She was not at all aggressive just simply overwhelmed by her new life circumstances.  She did not bark, she was uncomfortable with eye contact and seemed generally uncomfortable.   I began to think she was totally deaf because she didn’t seem to hear me call her unless I spoke really loud.

I consulted a medium to try to find out more about her and to help her understand that her new circumstances were in fact her new life.  She began her session with first asking us if she was “in trouble”.  We assured her she was not.  She then made us both promise to never send her back to where she came from…that was her condition for communicating with us.  Petunia described living conditions that were typical of a puppy mill.  There is no need to dwell on the depressing things she told us about her life.  We wanted to work with her to help her understand her new life.  She told us she didn’t bark because she has never had a reason to.  There was no one to hear her.  She would like to bark if it was ok to bark.   She told us that she understood she had a name now, Petunia, and she liked it.  But the reason she does not always respond when I call her name is that she has never had a name before.  Someone wanting her attention was new to Petunia as was someone calling her by a name.  She was thrilled with her new circumstances but she was afraid they weren’t permanent and she asked for patience and time to learn to be a normal dog.  She was oozing with gratitude and love for us she just wasn’t sure how to show it yet.

We explained to Petunia that she never had to worry about food, safety or love again.  She was home, we love her and no one would ever harm her or neglect her again.

Within a few minutes of the session being over Petunia started barking.  Her bark is darling…it sounds crackly and rough…and it sound more like “woo woo” than “woof”.  I am guessing a barker that has never been used will take some time to sound more normal.  I took Petunia out in the yard after her session to potty…she began to run and jump in a very large circle around the yard…like she was having her own celebration of the permanent change in her circumstances.  It was the first showing of physical energy since she arrived.  My heart overflowed with love and gratitude for her.

I have consulted mediums to get more information about health issues and to explain medical procedures to my pets; to explain when I am taking a trip (that I will be back) and to make better decisions about which pets live here permanently or which fosters want something different for a home.

Probably one of the most profound experiences we have had was with Snoopy.  Post his let amputation Snoopy was in agony.  Even with maximum pain medication Snoopy would wake from a deep sleep and scream (like really scream).   He hadn’t moved or been bumped when these episodes happened and there was nothing we could do to comfort him.  I posted on Facebook during one of his incidents about his crying and how my husband and I felt so helpless.  A few minutes later, Snoopy sat up and his demeanor completely changed.  I looked at my Facebook, one of the mediums we use regularly had read my post and communicated with Snoopy.  She messaged me their conversation right away.  Snoopy thought the pain was permanent and that he wouldn’t be able to walk again.  He was very scared that this was it for him.  She assured him the pain would go away and he would walk soon.  Apparently he believed her because the screaming incidents never happened again after she spoke to him.

We have done both in-person and over the phone sessions; I find them equally good experiences.  We have also done sessions with pets that have already crossed over.

The two ladies we consult with here in Kentucky are Carrie Kenady and Lateefa Mina.  We highly recommend them both.

Rescue On!



Posted on 1 Comment

Confessions of an imperfect dog mom…”In the shadow of the tripod there is no empty space”.

Every pet in our home has a background story…none of them are pleasant…some are much worse than others.    But, for the most part, our pets are “over it” in regards to things that happened to them in the past.  They live happy and carefree lives.  Even Turnip, who has deep emotional scars, has come so far and embraced joy.  Mom though, being the flawed human that I am, doesn’t always “get over it” as quickly as they do.  I have moments, when I am reminded of their painful stories and I quickly retreat to feelings of anger and heart break.

Snoopy came here with a badly broken leg…we were told he was kicked down a flight of stairs…he was just 3 months old.  His leg was broken so badly there was no choice but to amputate it.  Unfortunately, he died under anesthesia when the vet attempted his amputation.  The vet resuscitated him but he woke up blind and of course still having a badly broken leg.  This is when Bret and I started fostering him.  He stayed with us in an understandably hastily applied splint that caused him a lot of discomfort for weeks.  We waited for a strengthening of his health to undergo a second attempt at amputation.  With his vision restored and health stabilized Snoopy made it through a second attempt to amputate his leg.  Bret and I officially adopted Snoopy the day before his amputation.  We wanted him going in to his surgery knowing he had a huge family pulling for him.  Waiting for his surgery to end was agony and we learned a new level of compassion for our veterinary team.

Buster stayed at Snoopy’s side while he recovered.

Make no bones about it…a puppy suffers CRUELLY after an amputation.   Snoopy screamed…and I mean SCREAMED with pain for weeks.  He was confused and he was frustrated.  He would wake up from a dead sleep and start screaming…sometimes 10+ times in a night…nothing we did comforted him.  Only Buster could bring him any level of comfort.  Buster would run to him and lick his head when he cried.  The entire scenario was horrible.  But slowly…Snoopy regained his strength and his courage and definitely his joy.

Today…Snoopy (now 8 months old) is SO OVER IT..he is UNSTOPPABLE on three legs.  He is the happiest and most playful puppy I have ever met…and frankly…he can be pretty naughty.  Remarkably…he just loves people….all of them. Humanity does not deserve him.  He is pure joy.

Unlike Snoopy, Bret and I will never forget his suffering.  We didn’t leave his side after his amputation…we learned a lot about what it means to be both heart broken and madly angry at the same time.

When I had that moment the other day when I saw his “tripod shadow”…a poignant reminder of the cruelty he suffered…I became angry all over again…”he shouldn’t have to live as a tripod”…”he shouldn’t’ have had to suffer through an amputation”…I was wishing again I could get my hands on the S.O.B. who did this to him.

But while I am thinking all these toxic thoughts…Snoopy just turned, looked at back at me and shamed me with this smile.  He’s over it and I need to get over it too.

Snoopy is fine…he can run fast, he can wrestle with his siblings, he can dig…he can snuggle fabulously…he certainly eats like a little piggy…he is a perfectly happy dog.  I need to just get busy loving him and let go of his past.

The moral of the story is this…which again…I didn’t realize it until I finished this post…there is no “empty space” in life.    When I was in seminary…one of the most powerful lessons I learned was from my favorite Old Testatment professor, Dr. Howard.  I worked for him as his TA my last year…it was the year Bret and I lost our baby boy…I was completely crushed…probably the lowest I have ever felt in my life.  He told me this very important truth when I expressed my despair to him…he said “just like it is in the physical world…so is it in the spiritual world…there is no “empty space”…you can fill your life with joy and gratitude and love or you can fill it with sadness, resentment and pain…there is no room for both…regardless of the difficulty of your circumstances …you must choose what you will fill your life with.”    Not only will I remember Dr. Howard’s insightful words always…but I will forever remember Snoopy’s smile as a reminder of this wisdom…I will remember how easy it is for Snoopy to live this truth…Snoopy will remind me always that we must choose what we fill our lives with…no matter the circumstances.

I’m with Snoopy…I choose joy and gratitude and love.  Snoopy and I wish that for everyone else too.

Rescue On!


If you would like to follow my crazy life with pets more closely…friend me on Facebook or follow me on Pinterest..  I also sell my art and cards at my ETSY shop.

The Rescue Mama, Nancy Halverson, dog rescue art, pet rescue art, political art
Snoopy’s first Pawffiti… it was auctioned for $375.00 for the animals of Scott County, KY.

This is Snoopy’s first Pawffiti.  It was auctioned in February for $375.00 to raise money for animals in Scott County (Snoopy’s home town).  Prints are available at my ETSY shop.

Posted on 1 Comment

Confessions of an imperfect dog mom…anything to make them comfortable.

Vibration Therapy for Pets…our experience as pet parents.

theraplate, stem cell therapy, the rescue mama, nancy halverson, senior dog care,
Sam on his Theraplate

I have written about our Sam in the past, particularly the success we have had treating him with stem cell therapy.  Bret and I know very little about the first 4+ years of Sam’s life…in fact all we know is that he clearly didn’t have enough to eat and for some reason the majority of his joints are badly deformed (perhaps Rickets when he was a puppy but who knows for sure).  He has been ours for over 10 years now and he is a wonderful companion.

Sam and Luna snuggled on the Theraplate

Sam’s arthritis has been an issue since we adopted him.   Three years ago we thought we were at the end…he could no longer walk more than a few steps.  Stem Cell Therapy changed that and gave Sam renewed legs.  In the last year he has started to slow down again.  We heard about vibration therapy for arthritis and decided to give it try.   Vibration therapy is just what it sounds like…sitting still on a metal plate that vibrates.

We tried it the first time at our veterinarians office and Sam instantly laid down and fell asleep on the plate (so did Luna).  I did some reading on this form of therapy and ordered our own Theraplate.    I am not an expert on canine physiology so I won’t attempt to explain the science of how vibration therapy works.  I can only tell you what we have experienced and direct you to the research on the Theraplate website.

Sam was the reason we purchased the Theraplate…when Luna was alive she was on it every day as well.  After the first few sessions on the plate…Sam started going to the plate on his own…he would lie down and bark for me to come turn the plate on for him.  Certainly…vibration therapy is not a cure for a dog in Sam’s condition…but clearly it has provided comfort for Sam’s terrible arthritis.  When I tell him…”time for therapy”…he gets up and trots over to his plate.   After Luna passed away I started curling up on the Theraplate with Sam…it has become our time together to relax. Sam loves to be brushed and get belly rubs while he does therapy…these are moments I will cherish forever.

The model we purchased…2 feet x 3 feet

I have bulging discs in my neck…for years they have been a nagging source of discomfort.  So I thought…why not try…its helping Sam.  I started on the Theraplate at least once a day.  It has provided significant relief from chronic neck pain for me.  It also afforded me the ability to start running again last fall.  As soon as I finish a run I lay down on it for 10-15 minutes…the therapy helps keep the aching of my old lady hips and knees at bay.

gorgeous-sam1We also put Snoopy on the Theraplate while he was recovering from his amputation.  Snoopy would doze off and relax almost immediately…not bad for a rambunctious puppy.

We purchased our Theraplate directly from the company.  It was just under $2,000 with shipping and arrived within a week of ordering.  There are other versions of the Theraplate on the market. My parents ordered a small device from and I know Nordic Trac makes a version too.  We are pleased with the investment we made in ours…I will always have at least a few older dogs in my home…it will never be unused.

All of our pets like the Theraplate (even the cats).  With the exception of Sam…who immediately got on the plate on his own with no concern…I introduce my pets to it by laying them on my belly while I am laying on the Theraplate.  I move them directly on to the plate after a few sessions and only for a short time until they are acclimated.

Vibration therapy started its popularity in the equine industry…to help horses heal faster from injuries.   It quickly spread to small animal therapy and also for humans.   Vibration therapy has many claims; increasing bone density, soothing pain, reducing inflammation, improving balance and more.  For us…(us being me and the dogs) it has provided significant relief from pain and has been well worth the investment.

If you would like to read more about our experience with stem cell therapy…follow this link:  Sam’s Stem Cell Therapy.

I am a full time rescue mom and artist.  My art helps support my family of pets and allows me to do something more for other animals still waiting for their forever homes.  I sell my art and cards at my ETSY shop.

Rescue On!



Posted on Leave a comment

Pet Rescue: Warning…Dogs can die in hot cars!

Warning:  Dogs can die in hot cars!  There is something we can do about it.

dogsincarsGiven I have five dogs…I do a lot of walking.  My dogs and I walk through our adorable little town (Georgetown, KY) every day…sometimes twice a day.  Summer has barely had its start here and already we are seeing dogs left in hot cars…NOT OK.  In fact it really pisses me off!  I can’t walk by a dog in a hot car.  While I am not the type to go directly to smashing out a car window…I would if I had to.  I am the one though who doesn’t hesitate to call the the police…and no cracking the window an inch is not good enough…I will still call the police and let them smash the window!

Two weeks ago we (well me…my dogs just witnessed) had a verbal altercation with an older couple who stopped me to ask what the parking time limit was in our town…because they were going to go have lunch and leave their dog in the car.  I couldn’t believe they were looking me straight in the face with that idiotic statement.  I suggested to them the names of several ALDF-dogs-in-hot-cars-flyerrestaurants in town that had patio seating that welcomed dogs.  They weren’t interested.  I dug in my heels and told them if they leave the dog in the car I am calling the police.  (It was an 80 degree day).  They called me a dirty name and told me to mind my own business…I didn’t mind my own business and stood my ground until they drove away.  It blew me away that an elderly couple could be so boorish and irresponsible.

That same day I was browsing my Facebook feed and saw this poster from the Animal Legal Defense Fund…with a statement encouraging people to download the sign and hang it. I thought…we need these signs in downtown Georgetown…then I thought…well…perhaps I am supposed to be the one to go hang them.  So I did.use this one

I downloaded their art file…sent it to the local print shop for printing…and Lacey Mae and I hit the road.  We started going door to door to the business of Georgetown asking them to hang this sign in their shop window.  We have gone to over 20 business so far…all but one was more than happy to hang the sign.  When we ran out of our first 20 signs the local print shop made a whole bag of them for us for free!  We will be back out next week and will keep going until we get as many businesses as we can to hang our sign.  It is already abundantly clear on our Main Street (given all the obvious signs in business windows) that we are a town that is not ok with knuckleheads leaving a dog in a hot car.  Hopefully it will both make careless people think twice before trapping their dog in a car oven and also encourage citizens to speak out and call the police if necessary for a trapped dog.

There is a saying that goes something like this…whenever we say “someone should do something about that”…that someone might be ourselves.   Lacey and I had a lot of fun going door to door in town…she behaved like an angel in every business we went to (she didn’t pee on a single carpet!!!!).  We met a lot of great folks…and found out that they all want to see dogs safe…and when asked…they are willing to help out.

I have been taking pictures of every shop that hangs our sign and posting them on our Facebook Page.  If you want to do something like this in your town the copy for this poster is available for download at this link on the Animal Legal Defense Fund website.  It was a lot easier than I thought to approach business owners with my sign…in fact the response was overwhelmingly positive.

Rescue On!



Posted on 5 Comments

Confessions of an imperfect dog mom: The Cadillac of dog strollers…yes I take my dog out in a stroller!

The best dog stroller on the market…

Pet Gear Stroller Review
Pet Gear Stroller The Cadillac of Dog Wagons

Yes, I am one of those “crazy ladies” who takes her dog trolling around the neighborhood in a stroller.  Kringles, my 16+year old pomeranian has an enlarged heart.   He can no longer go for walks…he tires within a minute or two…but Kringles does not want to get left behind either…so I am not leaving him behind!  I am sure that there are plenty of neighbors and passers by that laugh or poke fun at the crazy lady with her dog in the stroller…good thing I am not one to care what anyone thinks…especially when it comes to taking care of my dogs.  Kringles and I proudly troll the hood and will continue to do so every day that Kringles still can.20140906_113130

Dog Stroller
The old stroller

The first stroller I purchased for Kringles was rickety and uncomfortable…the cheap plastic wheels made for a bumpy ride and I really could only use it on flat paths at the park…no chance of navigating curbs.  Bret, (my wonderful husband) picked out a stroller fit for a king so Kringles could cruise in style.  We ordered the “Pet Gear: stroller from wasn’t cheap…it was $366.00 (shipping was free because we are Prime members) but it is now listed on Amazon at $329.00.  I have subsequently noticed this stroller on sale in a few catalogs for considerably less as well.

But was it worth it?  We’ve been using the stroller for months now and it was worth every penny! We use it daily for Kringles and we often use it with foster dogs we take in as well.   Here are my thoughts on the value of this stroller:

1) While it did require some assembly…Bret assembled it in less than 30 minutes…I am sure it would have taken longer if I had to do it but not bad.

Take one of our foster dogs out in the stroller.
Taking one of our foster dogs out in the stroller.

2) The basket of the stroller is incredibly roomy…we could fit two dogs in it if necessary.   There are times when my Jack Russell, who walks with me and Kringles, tires out.  I just add him in the stroller and he rides comfortable with Kringles.  The stated capacity of the stroller is 90 lbs…I can’t imagine pushing 90 lbs worth of dog in  stroller, can you?  When Kringles and Turnip are in the stroller together (combined weight of 35 lbs) I can comfortably push the stroller.  There are tethers on the inside of the stroller basket as well to keep a dog that might jump out from running away.

3)  The tripod frame and air wheels make it very stable (no tipping even if Kringles is jumping around).  The front wheel has two positions, locked and unlocked.  If it is unlocked you can turn the stroller with ease but if you speed up in this mode the stroller will wobble (not comfortable for the dogs).  I use with the front wheels in the locked position because I power walk.  In locked mode the ride is very smooth for the dogs no matter how fast I am walking.  The turns are bit more difficult however I have find that if I make my turns wide they are much easier.

Pet Gear Stroller4) It has a reliable brake.  The brake is a foot bar.  It is easy to lift “on” and “off”.

5) There are plenty of storage pockets for my phone, keys, poop bags, etc.  It has a cup holder on the handle bars.  It comes with a rain cover (how cool is that).  There is also storage space under the basket.

6) The bottom half of the basket stands high enough and is sturdy enough that I don’t have to worry about Kringles falling out even if have to stop fast.

7) The cushion in the basket is thick and soft.   It is lined with a black plush fabric.  I add a cool pad to the bottom of the basket on hot days.

8) The air wheels make it a very smooth and comfortable ride for Kringles.  They also make it easy to turn and go up and down curbs without Kringles being bounced around.  Because of the air wheels and the sturdy frame I can power walk with this stroller while still maintaining a comfortable ride for Kringles.  It is really helpful to have the tires properly inflated.  My husband keeps our wheels at 40lbs of pressure.

9)The stroller does collapse down nicely to fit in the car. The only downside I could find with this stroller is that it is a bit heavy for me to get in and out of the car…I can lift it but it is a bit of a struggle for me by myself.

10) This is a no zip stroller.  The hood comes down and snaps securely with one clip in the front.  Anyone who has used a pet stroller for awhile knows that zippers and furry creatures are not a good mix!

Hands down …this wagon was worth every penny.   This truly is the Cadillac of dog strollers.

cat rescue art, cat rescue, cat art, cat wall art
Rescue defined….

My dogs, like most all dogs, are lovers of routine…we have a daily schedule which makes managing an eight pet household pleasant for everyone…part of that routine is our daily exercise..which now, thanks to the Pet Gear stoller, Kringles can participate in again.

I added a picture of a painting I finished recently.  It is inspired by the spring and summer need for cats to be rescued from shelters.  The original painting is sold but prints will be available shortly at The Rescue Mama ETSY shop.  For other product reviews check out my Parent Resource Page.  If you are interested in all things pet, pet rescue and pet art follow my blog for weekly articles, my Facebook Page and my Pinterest Page.  If you are in need of pet sympathy cards, pet rescue art or pet adoption cards check out my items at The Rescue Mama ETSY Shop.

Rescue On!




Posted on 5 Comments

GPS tracking for your pet: practical parenting or helicopter mom?

TAGG GPS tracker for pets


I recently purchased a TAGG GPS system for our newest adopted family member; Turnip.  We have not had problems with our pets ever going “missing” but 10 million pets are lost or stolen every year.   The newest addition to our family, Turnip, is afraid of everything and runs for a place to hide when he gets scared.  We decided to try a GPS tracking system on Turnip as an extra precaution against losing him.  We chose the TAGG GPS system.  I have to admit; initially I thought putting a tracker on my dog was leaning to far in to the “helicopter mom” paradigm…but now that I see how practical the system is I believe the additional safety it provides is a “no brainer”.

The reasons I chose the TAGG system over other systems:


1) The TAGG range and battery life are the best available.   The entire point of the tracker is preventing a worst case scenario.  The TAGG tracker has the longest battery life on the market (it claims 10 days is possible) but I read reviews that had significantly longer battery life.  The only limit to the range within which your pet can be tracked is the range of Verizon service coverage in your area.  The battery life and range make for the maximum safety provision of all available trackers on the market in my opinion.

2) TAGG works with any internet enabled device.  The tracking system is run with GPS (through Verizon) and software. I don’t have to use a receiver to track my dog.  Systems such as Marc Polo, Loc8tor, Romeo and Garmin need receivers to track the dog.  If I lose my phone I could track my dog from any internet enabled device.  If I lose a receiver I am out of luck.

3) The hardware component for the dog is not intrusive.  The TAGG is small enough and light enough (it weighs 1.1 ounces) that it does not bother my dogs to wear it.  One specification worth noting is that is recommended for dogs (or cats) that weigh over 10 lbs.  Supposedly the TAGG is waterproof (I didn’t test that out but we have walked in the rain with no issues).

4) The system is a good value for a multi-pet household.  The initial hardware cost per device is $100.  The monthly service fee is $7.95/month if you pay for the entire year upfront.  It is $9.95/month if you pay monthly.  At first I thought the monthly service was expensive…until I realized that the trade off having to use a receiver.  The monthly service means I can track my pet from any internet enabled device.  If I just had a receiver and no monthly service I run the risk of losing or breaking the receiver and not being able to track the dog.  Adding additional pets to the service is only $0.95/month/pet.  You can add up to 9 animals to one subscription.  (Each animal needs its own hardware though).

unnamedEase of Set Up and Use:

The TAGG was super easy to set up…if I can do it anyone can.  All I used to get going was the Quick Start Set Up Manual that comes with the hardware and the web software (activate at  I didn’t need any additional support but TAGG does have a support phone line and videos on their website for help.  The monitor requires an initial charging period.  While the TAGG was completing its initial charge I set up my system online.  It only took about 15-20 minutes to get the tracking system running on my computer. All you have to do is enter your pets data, your contact data and set your “safe zone”.  Once it was running on my computer I set up the phone app.  The TAGG system has both iphone and Android apps.  It only took a few minutes to get TAGG running on my Galaxy S5 (downloaded right from the Playstore). You can set the TAGG software up to alert you via text messages.   It can be set up to text messages to you anytime the dog is out of your pre-set range, when the dog returns to the safe zone, if the battery is low and when the battery is fully charged.  You can set up multiple people to receive the alerts.  (My husband likes this feature because he says he can track me from work!)

How it works:

When you do your initial set up at you will define a “safe zone” for your dog.  I chose the smallest radius of space around our house that I could (which is what the software defaults to).  That smallest “safe zone” is about a 3 acre range around your home.   If your pet is out of the “safe zone” you will get a text message (or email).  At the time of the alert you would then ask the software to track your dog to get the dogs location.  The TAGG system is not a “real time” tracker on your device..  You need to ask the software to track the dog’s location (which only takes seconds) once the dog has left its pre-determined safety zone.  tagg size

The Activity Monitoring Feature:

One of the features of the TAGG is that it can monitor your pets activity levels.  Unfortunately, the TAGG needs to be attached to a collar around the neck to do function as an activity monitor  None of our dogs wear neck collars but rather all wear harnesses so this is a feature that we cannot use.

I have ordered two more TAGG systems for Buster and Lacey.  The new systems will be the TAGG Plus.   The TAGG Plus is an upgrade in battery life and will have a temperature sensor.  New purchases of TAGG Plus are now not shipping until April/May.  When I ordered two more TAGG’s back in December the ship date was February…so expect at least a 3 month lag to get your product.  TAGG also recently merged with Whistle.  Whistle is a product that focuses more on pet activity monitoring.  I am sure that will mean some platform changes in the future.

look at that face

Our Turnip is such a sweety…we are grateful for technology that can help us keep him safe.

I hope this was helpful!

Rescue On!


Posted on 1 Comment

Pet Parent Resources: Do slow feeder bowls really work?

Slow feeder bowls for dogs who eat too fast…

Most dogs are speed eaters…but Turnip was the first time I had a dog in the house who ate so fast that he vomited his food right back up within minutes.

look at that faceTurnip came here as a foster dog.  Given Turnip spent most of his life outside on a chain and terribly neglected I can understand why he eats while the eatin’ is good.  But we had to find a solution to help him keep his food down as he was a very thin dog with looming health issues.

I feed my dogs a mix of premium kibble and homemade doggie casserole (fresh chicken, veggies and fruit).   My own four dogs are used to eatin’ yummy food but for Turnip it was such a bonanza that his food disappeared in seconds.  For weeks I was hand feeding Turnip tiny bits of his meals at a time to keep him from vomiting or gagging.  But with six dogs and three cats in the house I really needed to find a long term solution to help him keep his food down that was a little more time efficient for me than hand feeding.

I had certainly heard of slow feeder bowls but never used one before.  I picked up the Martha Stewart slow feeder bowl at Pet Smart (it was about $20).   It worked remarkably well in terms of slowing Turnip down.  Turnip always gets served his bowl of food last (out of six dogs) when he was speed eating he would always be the first one of the six dogs eating (unless I hand fed him).  With the Martha Stewart bowl Turnip now is munching his meal long after the other dogs are finished and he has not vomited up a meal since we started using it.  pPETNA-5209436_main_t300x300

I chose this particular slow feeder bowl because it has a no slip bottom and the three feeder lumps in the middle seemed more likely to slow down food consumption (which is exactly what they did).  The only thing missing about this bowl is that it not on a pedestal or riser; we had to make a small riser for Turnip to eat comfortably at the appropriate level.   We give this bowl a rating of four out of five paws.

The only reason this bowl didn’t get a five paw rating is that it is made of melamine.  Melamine has long been used for dishes and has been deemed safe.  Howe41pOWoWDNVLver, if you remember back in 2007/2008 there were pet poisonings related to melamine that was used as a filler in pet food.  So melamine in any form needs to be used with caution.  Tableware made of melamine is deemed safe by the FDA (click here to see the guidelines and comments by the FDA).  However, when using anything made of melamine it should NOT be put in a microwave or a dishwasher (if you do this by accident I would throw the bowl away even if it says it is dishwasher safe).

Because of the melamine issue I also tried out a stainless steel slow feeder.  We tried the Durapet Stainless Steel Slo Feeder (Small).  I ordered it off of Amazon for $12.00.  This bowl gets one out of five paws…and only because its the only stainless steel option do I rate it at all.  I prefer to use stainless steel dog bowls from a safety and sanitary perspective but from the perspective of slowing down Turnip’s eating pace…it made little to no difference at all.  I don’t recommend this bowl.

We also tridownloaded the Kyjen Slo-Bowl Slow Feeder Slow Feed Interactive Bloat Stop Dog Bowl.  I ordered it off of Amazon for $13.00.  This bowl gets four out of five paws as well.  It did a great job of slowing down Turnip’s eating…just as good as the Martha Stewart bowl.  However, it is a little more challenging for me to keep clean.  Again, this one is made of plastic and while it is BPH free, etc. it is still plastic…so no microwave or dishwasher action.

Turnip is rotating between eating out of the Martha Stewart bowl and the Kyjen bowl and we no longer have issues with him vomiting up his food.


What if your dog just lifts the slow feeder bowl and dumps it?   While he is a fast eater Turnip was not impatient enough to lift up the slow feeder bowl and dump his food.  I have watched several video reviews of slow feeder bowls being picked up and dumped over by larger breeds who were frustrated with having to work to get their food out of the bowl.  Clever dogs…but not helpful if you are trying to slow down the dog’s eating pace.  If this were the situation with Turnip I would still have worked with the slow feeder bowls.  However,I would have integrated the bowl more slowly and trained him to use it.  I would have done this by only putting a small amount food at a time in the bowl and rewarding (him) with more food in the bowl for working  at getting the food out of the bowl without dumping it.   This would be a great time to bring out the clicker!

turnip 2I hope this was helpful!  Check out my Pet Parent Resource Guide for other reviews and tips I have written for pet parents!  Also keep in mind that I sell my Pet Rescue Art and Pet Adoption and Pet Sympathy Cards at my Rescue Mama ETSY Shop!
Rescue On!


Posted on 8 Comments

Confessions of an imperfect dog mom: Stem Cell procedures in dogs – part 2

Stem Cell Procedures for Dogs: the miracle we were looking for…

in the grassAbout a month a go I published a post regarding a stem cell procedure that we had done for our chocolate lab, Sam.  I said I would post an update on how this procedure has impacted Sam in another 30 days.  Here it is…

In the last month Sam’s quality of life has changed dramatically.  For context; prior to his stem cell injections Sam was at the point where he could only walk for about 5-10 feet before he had to lay down and rest due to pain from the arthritis in his elbows and hips.  Sam has never had normal legs.  His front legs are bowed to the point that he can not bend them  – he never has been able to bend his legs in the time we have known him (we rescued him 8 years ago).  Every vet that has examined Sam has always told us the same thing…it is the worst case of arthritis they have ever seen in a dog (especially to see a dog afflicted as young as he was with arthritis).

sam up

We are now about 7+ weeks out from the stem cell procedure and Sam is doing better than we could have hoped.  Sam isn’t just going on nice long walks (twice a day) but he has taken up running on his has been so long since he has been able to run.  My husband and I couldn’t be happier with the progress Sam has made.  When we had the final sit down with our vet 8 weeks ago to talk about Sam’s legs…knowing we were at a point where we had to either do something dramatic for Sam or let him go…. we told our vet (Central Kentucky Vets) that what we were looking for was a miracle…it appears we have received it.

Here is some video of Sam in the park with us earlier this week…not only is he running and fetching but as you can see he is one happy dog.  It was just about 8 weeks ago that we never could have imagined Sam fetching a ball again (well chasing a ball, he has never quite gotten the fetch and return part :)).

Here is a recap of how things have progressed since Sam’s stem cell procedure:

  • First week after the procedure:  Sam was terribly sore.  The first few days after procedure, other than to get up to eat and potty, Sam did not want to move much.   We were advised to get him walking as much as possible and as soon as possible.  This was hard, certainly for him but also for us as we felt horrible for adding to his joint pain, but he did it…our Sam is one tough cookie.  Basically, the first week after the procedure completely sucked.
  • Second week after the procedure:  Sam started wanting to move around more than the first week.  He volunteered for his walks as opposed to us having to goad him.  He was going on short walks a few times per day, longer than the week prior, but very slow and with a lot of resting.  Sam remained very stiff when he first got up from resting.
  • 30 days in: Sam’s walking started improving a lot.  His walks were getting longer, faster and he was not having to stop to rest nearly as much.  We noticed Sam trotting around the house instead of just walking (and not just trotting after food).  He could walk longer distances and was trotting a lot on his outings instead of just walking slow.  His stiffness seemed to improve quite a bit when transitioning from a resting position to movement.
  • 7 weeks out:  Sam’s walking has continued to improve and he has started running on his outings…. a lot.  Sam literally runs from one thing he wants to pee on to the next thing he wants to pee on.  The walks that Sam goes on (which he runs for a good portion of now) are considerably longer than the distances he has been able to walk for a very, very long time.  Sam still has stiffness when he gets up from resting but nothing like it was before.  Most of the time he hops up from laying down and within a very short period of time he is at his normal gait. (A normal gait for Sam is still quite akward but it works for him).  We have been able to reduce Sam’s pain meds and he is still feeling good.  Prior to the procedure Sam was unable to do the traditional “dog stretch” –  where the dog stretches out his front legs and lifts his backend up in the air.   Now Sam does the “dog stretch” quite often.  Sam has always been a happy dog despite his health issues. Lately though he is the happiest we have seen him in a very long time.

We are not trying to convince anyone that they should do a stem cell procedure on a pet.  When we are making tough decisions for our pet’s health one of the first things we do is start reading up on what other’s pet parents have experienced.  Stem cell procedures for dogs are still very, very new.  We don’t know how long we will continue to see improvements in Sam’s mobility and comfort level nor how long this will last.   We did have extra stem cells banked for Sam so we can do the procedure again in the future if we need to.

If you are interested in reading more on stem cell procedures in animals here are some links to informative materials that I read to learn more about the treatment;

St. Louis Vet on Stem Cells

Stem Cell testimonies (with before and after videos) by patients in Hawaii

Article in Tulsa Pet Magazine that explains the what and why of stem cells

Article from the American Veterinary Medical Association on stem cells in theory and practice

Stem Cell article in BARK magazine

USA Today article on canine stem cell therapy

Arthritis Foundation Article on Stem Cells in pets

Vet Stem Website  (this site is full of information, just keep in mind stem cells are their business)

If you didn’t catch my first post on Sam’s stem cells click here: Sam’s Stem Cells.  I will continue to post on his progress in the future.

If you are anything like us there is little you won’t do for your pets but making the big decisions for them can be so hard.  I hope you find this post helpful.

If you like pet news, rescue advocacy, pet art and fun crafts for you and your pet consider following my blog.  I post 1-3 times per week on my blog and daily on my Facebook and Pinterest page.  Check out my Art Gallery, Parent Resources and Free Tutorials for all sorts of great pet art and ideas.  Please keep me in mind when you are shopping for Pet Rescue Art and Pet Adoption Cards and Pet Sympathy Cards….I sell my items at my Rescue Mama ETSY shop. I donate a portion of all of my sales to pet rescue organizations.

Update: July 10, 2015.  We are now nearly one year from Sam’s Stem Cell procedure.  Sam continues to do very well.  He goes on nice walks everyday, he still runs (in his own goofy sort of way) and he can still jump on furniture and in to his pool.  Sam’s quality of life continues to be very high.  His right elbow is his most difficult joint.  We did bank Sam’s Stem Cells after his first procedure.  We are currently contemplating another injection in to his right elbow.

Rescue On!

Nancy (and Sam)

Sam and Sparky snoozin’ in the office.

Posted on 3 Comments

Confessions of an imperfect dog mom: FLEAS

Confessions of an imperfect dog mom:  MY DOG HAS FLEAS

yard shot

My husband and I work really hard to take the best possible care of our house full of dogs and cats.  This is a picture of our Pomeranian, Kringles, he is as sweet as he is cute.  A few weeks ago I picked up this sweet little guy to start brushing him out for a bath and realized, to my horror, he was full of fleas.  In all the years I have had pets I have never had problems with fleas.  Now we have learned the hard way what a menace fleas can be and wanted to share what we experienced so hopefully you don’t have to.

We are from Minnesota, fleas, while they are an issue in Minnesota are no where near as prolific as they are here in our new home in KY.  In Minnesota, traditional monthly flea and tick treatment did the trick – never once saw a flea in the house or on our pets.  Living a bit farther south fleas are much more of a menace and the season lasts much longer than one would think.  Here is what I have learned in the last few weeks.  20140906_113130

  •  September is the worst month for fleas here and it was the month of  September when they struck Kringles.
  • Some flea and tick treatments work well for some pets and not well for others.  We have always used Frontline with success for our pets and even here it was working for our other three dogs.  For some reason, it was not effective (or effective enough) for Kringles.  We had to switch to using an oral flea treatment for Kringles. (I stick to purchasing flea and tick treatment products from my vet, I know they are more a bit more spendy but I am not thrilled about using chemicals on my pets as it is so I stick to products that have been vetted out by a vet I trust.)
  • Our dog that spends the least amount of time outdoors was the one who got the fleas.  Fleas can hitch a ride in to the house on any pets (or on you) so it pays to be on higher alert during the times of year that fleas are most active.
  • If you see one flea in your home you probably have hundreds, maybe thousands of fleas in your home.   Once I found the fleas on Kringles I went in to Commando Dog Mom mode.  I have a seven pet household; a flea infestation in our home would be a disaster.    I put flea traps in the areas of highest risk for infestation (like our bedroom) to assess how bad the flea problem was.  You can get flea traps at Walmart.  The flea traps helped me assess where in the house I had flea activity if any.  I am leaving the flea traps out (and I will for many weeks to ensure I am immediately aware if any new eggs are not hatching).
  • I gave all of my pets flea baths whether I could find any fleas on them or not.  I also went over them with flea combs.  Fleas are so small (and so disgusting) I wanted to error on the side of caution and get those suckers off my babies.
  • I treated our cats with flea treatments (something I never historically did for our indoor cats) but once fleas are in the house the cats could become a meal for the fleas as well.  It is important to remember that flea and tick treatments for dogs CANNOT be used on cats.
  • I cut the hair on both Kringles and my Lhasa Lacey Mae pretty short so I could assess for fleas more easily.
  • I treated the carpet in the house (once a week for three weeks) with Virbac KnockOut Spray.  I purchased the Virbac spray from my vet.  I put a link  where you can find it online. virbac We did not spray our yard because we have so much wildlife in our area (it is one thing to keep our pets off the yard until the spray dries but it is impossible to protect the wildlife so we chose not to spray the yard).  I washed all of our hard flooring in hot water and then went over them again with a steamer to kill off any possible flea activity or eggs.
  • I have been washing our bedding, all the dog beds and any towels, blankets or rugs that the pets have access to every week in HOT water.  Unfortunately, for every flea you see there are potentially thousands of eggs that could hatch later so preventing an infestation is something that has to go on for weeks.  I have also been running the vacuum across hard floors, furniture and carpet as often as I can.

laundry basketWe were fortunate that we caught the fleas on Kringles pretty quick and we had a helpful vet who gave us a lot of advice and prevented an infestation in our home.  I was horrified when I found the fleas on our sweet little Kringles and I felt like a big fat failure for letting it happen.  Its not just that fleas are disgusting (and they are really disgusting) but its the discomfort for our dog and the risk of disease for all of us that they pose.  The more I  read and the more people I talked to about flea problems the more I realized how common this problem is for pet owners…guess I was not alone.

Here are some links I found helpful for learning about dealing with fleas:

ASPCA on fleas

WebMD on fleas

CAPC (Companion Animal Parasite Council)

University of Kentucky College of Agriculture (flea control article)

We seemed to have nipped this problem so far but next year we will be extra vigilant so we hopefully don’t face this again.  I hope you never have to deal with fleas but if you do I hope this post was helpful. Check out my Parent Resources page for other articles I have written on pet care issues.   If you are a dog lover (or a cat lover) consider following my blog for pet news, Pet Rescue Art, free tutorials and more.  I post 1-3 times per week on my blog and daily on my Facebook and Pinterest pages.

Rescue On!


Posted on Leave a comment

Prevent Cruelty to Animals

April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month!

real men 002Please don’t turn a blind eye to something that doesn’t look right!  If an animal looks neglected, abused or you see something suspicious…REPORT IT!

Here is a link to the ASPCA’s resource page on reporting animal cruelty:  REPORT CRUELTY

The ASPCA has great information on how to recognize cruelty, abuse and neglect.  They also have detailed information on the laws and reporting agencies by state.

We must be the voice for animals!

Rescue On,



Posted on 1 Comment

Prevent Pet Poisoning

March is Poison Prevention Awareness Monthmr yukc

Pet poisonings are far more common than we think and usually come from household items that we tend to believe would be harmless to our pets (things like sugarless gum).  I am attaching an article I wrote last year about how my husband and I poison proof our home, garage and yard.  We also talk about what the experts recommend you do (or not do) if your pet is poisoned; we had our own poison incident many years ago, it turned out fine but we went in to panic mode and missed some key actions we should have taken.

Article: Prevent Pet Poisoning

Rescue On,


Posted on 3 Comments

The reality of pet theft

kringles in car seatPet Theft

Who wants to think about pet theft?  I sure don’t and frankly in the past I never thought much about it…that is until one day we got an alert via our local newspaper…a home, not too far from ours had been robbed.  What was the only thing the robbers took?  The family dog.  This news story really started me thinking more about this topic more and given that February 14th is National Pet Theft Awareness Day I thought I should do my part to spread some awareness.  Pet theft is real and it can happen to any of us.

According to PetFinder at least 5 million pets are reported missing each year.  Of that 5 million it is believed that 2 million are stolen and only 10% of those of stolen are recovered.  According to the AKC the top five breeds that are stolen are Yorkies, Chihuahaus, Pomeranians, Labs and Frenchies.    The AKC also reports that the number of pet thefts has been increasing every year since 2008.  Ok, here is the rough part and the big reason why we all need to think about protecting our pets from thieves…the pernicious reasons why these creepy people steal our pets.  This is a tough list to stomach but here are the leading reasons pets are stolen;

  • to be sold to laboratories for experiments
  • to be held until the thief can collect a reward from you
  • to be used as bait dogs to train fighters
  • to be used as breeders
  • to be used as meat to feed exotics (i.e. snakes, etc)
  • to be used as meat for human consumption
  • to be used as fur
  • to be sold in pet stores
  • to be used in satanic rituals (black dogs and cats especially)
  • to be used in sadistic acts

source:Pet Finder

dealing dogsIf your interested in more information on this nefarious underworld of stealing and using pets there is an HBO Documentary that focuses on the topic.  It is available on Amazon for $19.95.

I know for most of us it is almost to much to process.  How can anyone even think of a sweet pet being used in such ways but the reality is that it does happen and it can happen to any of us in an instant.

So what can we do as pet parents to protect our pets?

The absolute Golden Rule for protecting your pet from theft is simply to never leave your pet unattended.  Pets are routinely stolen from yards (especially dogs that are tied in the front yard unattended), when unattended in cars or tied up outside a shop where the owner is just running in for a minute or two.  I have a six foot fenced back yard and I still won’t leave my pets out unattended.

Other really important things you can do are;

  • Microchip your pet – I can’t emphasize this enough.  Your odds of recovering your pet are so much higher if your pet is micro-chipped.  There are many, many stories of lost micro-chipped pets being returned to their families even years after they had originally went missing. The Microchip is also undeniable proof that the pet is your if there is a dispute.  If you want to learn more about micro-chipping talk to your vet or check out Home Again or AVID.
  • Spay/neuter your pet. It’s obvious, your pet is less likely to be taken for breeding purposes if it can’t breed.  A pet that is spayed/neutered is also less likely to wander.
  • Have plenty of pictures of your pet handy and know any special identifying physical marks on your pet (moles, missing teeth, the color of the wick on their claws, etc.). The burden will be on you to prove that a cat or dog is yours if someone has stolen it and is claiming it as their own.
  • Be part of a community effort to help recover lost or stolen pets.  You can sign up on Home Again to get an email alert anytime a pet is missing in your area.
  • Don’t turn a blind eye when something doesn’t look right.  If you think a pet theft is in process call the police immediately.

What if the unthinkable happens and our pet is stolen?  Well, thankfully there is a lot we can do but it is important to act fast.

  • Call the police and your local animal control to report your pet missing (and any shelter/rescue groups in the area).  Check with your local animal control/pound daily.
  • Call the local vet clinics and animal hospitals in your area and let them know your pet is missing (give them a picture if you can).
  • Start with your neighborhood and move out from there canvasing with fliers to let people know your pet is missing.
  • Contact your local news outlets and ask them if they do alerts for missing pets (many of them will).
  • Get information out about your lost pet via social media – good people will spread the word fast to help find a pet (watch out for scam artists who will claim to have your pet and want a reward).
  • Watch for any local ads that are advertising the sale of a pet that matches the description of yours.

There are web resources you can use.  You can get a pet amber alert at  They do charge for their service but it is worth contacting their pet detectives to find out about the service (1-877-875-7387).  You can also post information about your lost or stolen pet on the following sites Pet Finder, Missing Pet and Findfido.   There is also a facebook page; StopPetTheft that you can post to.

I realize this is a dark subject that none of us likes to think about but pet theft is real and it can happen to any of us.  The more aware and prepared we are the less the likely we ever face such a terrible situation.  I hope you found this helpful.

Rescue On!