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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!



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Pet Craft: Pet Themed Banners

Pet Craft: Pet Themed Banners

love banner

I recently moved in to a new home in KY.  Our new house has seven fireplaces, two of which are in my art studio.  I decided that I needed some cute pet themed banners to hang over my fireplaces.  I made all three of these with supplies I had laying around my studio.  Here is how I made them:

woof banner upclosegot rescue 2

Supplies: burlap (any color will work), Stiff felt (any color you like), craft paint, mod podge, stencil brushes or sponges, hot glue/gun, ribbon, Archival Stamp pad, paw print stamps, twine

I made my white WOOF banner first. woof banner

The first step is make a pattern shape for your banner.  I make my patterns on my computer (in powerpoint), cut them out and pin them to my banner fabric and cut each one.  Here is a pdf file of the template for this banner : WOOF Banner.  Particularly when you are cutting burlap you are going to want to pin your pattern securely to the burlap. 20140914_160333 Line the top edge of the pattern up with a strand of the burlap when you pin.  Once you cut your burlap piece, iron it and be gentle with it as you work so it will not fray (we will address stopping the fray shortly).

To create my letter stencils I printed out WOOF in the size and font I wanted in Microsoft Word and carefully cut out my letters. 20140914_185532

When I put the stencils down I tape them in place, and use a flat brush or sponge to dab the paint on (I use a minimal amount of paint and dab lightly).  Let the stencil sit for a few minutes to dry.  After I pull the stencil off I touch up the letter with a pointed brush to make it a darker and cleaner paint job.  If you use too much paint or press to hard with the initial stenciling you risk bleeding under the stencil.  I used a large paw print stamp to make my end banners. I stamped the paw prints with archival ink and then went back over the stamped image with paint.

20140916_183805When my banners were dry I flipped them upside down on my craft mat (important to use a craft mat underneath).  I ran my twine across the back and covered the crevice behind the twine with hot glue, folded the burlap over the twine and held it down until the glue was cooled.

20140916_143813 Measure the space between each flag as you glue it to the twine for an even look to your finished project.  Once your glue is cool, trim your folded edges so they look neat and tidy.20140916_184556

To address the fraying of the burlap and make this a lasting project I used Mod Podge.20140916_184819  For this project I used Matte but you could use Gloss if you want.  I set my banner on my craft mat (important to reduce the mess).  20140916_185336  I used a very generous amount of mod podge applied with sponge to each banner and then I hung it to dry over night.  It is only necessary to apply the mod podge to one side with burlap.  The flags of the banner may curl a bit after the mod podge dries.   To reflatten the banners I set them on my ironing board, put a piece of card stock over them (important) and gave them a quick iron.

To finish off this banner I added some paw print bows; I tied them first and then hot glued them on.

love banner 2  My second banner was my love banner.  Here is the template I used to make the pattern: LOVE Banner Template.20140916_160115  The banners are made from stiff felt that I purchased at JoAnne’s, it comes in a variety of tie die color themes.  I just love this pink and orange…so girly!  I did the same process with letter stenciling on these banners.20140917_142134  I used a smaller paw print stamp but followed the same process as the WOOF banner; stamp with archival ink and then paint over it with craft paint.  I added some pink gem stones to the banner and some orange bows to finish it off.

got rescue 2  My last banner is my Got Rescue Banner.  Here are the templates I used to cut the banners: Got Rescue Banner.  The back piece of the banner is made from stiff black felt and the front from brown burlap.20140917_151730  I cut both my banner shapes and then hot glued my burlap to the felt right away (I did each one as I cut) to keep my burlap from fraying.  Before I glued each piece of burlap down I ran an iron over it to make it nice and flat.  I used a paw print stamp and archival stamp pad to make my paw prints (again going over them with paint) 20140917_152327.  To make my “Got Rescue” letters I used some wood letters that I purchased at Walmart and painted them with red glossy craft paint.  20140917_151456.  To make the question mark I flipped an “S” backward and cut part of it off.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and found it helpful.  For more tutorials check out my Craft Page and/or sign up to follow my blog.  Here is a picture of what my sweet labs were doing while I was working on this tutorial:


If you are an animal lover consider following my blog for pet news, Pet Rescue Art and free tutorials for fun projects for you and your pet.  I post 1-3 times per week on my blog and daily on my Facebook and Pinterest pages.


Rescue On!




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Confessions of an imperfect pet mom: Stem Cell Procedures for dogs with arthritis…

Stem Cell Procedures for dogs with arthritis…

sam up
Our Sweet Sam!

This is a picture of one of our dogs, Sam.  Sam is somewhere between 10 and 12 years old; he is a rescue so we really aren’t sure of his age.  Sam has terrible arthritis.  He has been to many vets and each has said the same thing…Sam has the worst elbows they have ever seen.  Sam’s has never walked like a normal dog; his elbows are so bowed that he walks with his legs locked straight (and even goes up and down steps like that).  Sam’s health problems though have never inhibited him for doing a lot of walking or from being an incredibly happy dog.  However, in the last few months the pain Sam was experiencing in his front legs was enough that he could only walk for about  5-10 feet at a time before he needed to lay down.  Since we have recently moved we took Sam to a new vet here in Kentucky.  Our new vet suggested we try stem cell injections in Sam’s joints.  We felt we had to do something to try to ease his pain or we had to start thinking about letting him go.  Because Sam is a very healthy dog (and crazy happy) other than his horrible arthritis pain we wanted to look at any option we had to find some comfort for him.  We started doing some research on stem cell procedures until we were comfortable that we understood exactly what the vet was suggesting.  We decided to go ahead with the procedure several weeks ago.  We had the injections done in both Sam’s hips and elbows.

I write about this because I know how hard it is to make these kind of decisions for our pets and the first thing I do when considering something aggressive for my dogs is read what other pet owners have had to say about the procedure in question.

The procedure required Sam to be anesthetized so the stem cells could be harvested from his belly.  Our Sam is so skinny (he’s always been skinny) that the vet had to make a larger incision in his belly than he would have liked to.  They did get enough stem cells and we were lucky the stem cell counts were very high.  We ended up with extra stem cells and had them banked so that if the injections were successful we had the option to do it again in the future without having his abdomen cut open again.

After the stem cells are harvested they are processed (takes about four hours) and then Sam was given a lower level of anesthesia to have the stem cells injected into his joints.  Sam came through the two procedures (both done in one day) fine.  It was really nice that this was a one day procedure (we had him back home by 4:00 the same day).  (Bret and I are a bit pathetic; we can hardly stand for any of our pets to be gone for even a day).  Sam was very sore for a few days after the surgery.  I will admit it was really hard to see him so sore when we already knew he had so much pain in his joints.  Like any pet parent we were questioning our judgment and feeling like crap for putting him in any additional discomfort.  We gave him anti-inflamitories, pain meds, antibiotics and did a lot of icing of his joints.  The extreme soreness lasted about three days and all we could do was give him meds and ice packs and spoil him (which he completely took advantage of :)).

Its been a about three weeks now and Sam is showing signs of improving each day.  Sam now walks all the around the block (a long block) twice a day without having to lay down and rest.  He still walks with a bit of limp as his right elbow (as you can see in the picture) is really rough.  Sam even trots for a good part of his walks and he is trotting around the house.  He still shows the typical signs of arthritis when he first gets up from laying down, I don’t expect that will ever go away, but once he gets moving he is significantly better.  We know this isn’t a cure but only a way to manage his pain so he can continue living in comfort.  We don’t know how long the improvements we are seeing will last.  We also know that given the severity of Sam’s arthritis he will continue to need meds and other therapies (ice, laser treatments, etc.) for the rest of his life…but that is ok with us.

We are anxious to see how things go the next few weeks as stem cells take some time to work so there is room for more improvement yet.  But it certainly appears we are going to have some more time with our sweet Sam in which he can enjoy life in comfort and continue to do his favorite thing…go for walks and pee on stuff.   So far, we are happy with our results and Sam, of course, is the happiest of all us!

I am certainly not trying to recommend a stem cell procedure to anyone, just sharing our experience with it so far. Making these kinds of choices are so tough and is really specific to each dog’s situation but I know I look to others to hear about their experiences first hand…so here is ours.  I will post another update on Sam in a month or so.

Rescue On!



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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,



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Pet Sympathy Card

big frontHandmade card for loss of pet.

I am pleased with how this one turned out, what do you think?.  Death does not break the bond of love with our pets and I hope this card brings comfort to those grieving the loss of a beloved pet.

The front of the card reads…”Love…it is the shortest distance between two hearts.”

The inside reads…”May time heal your heart and memories comfort your soul.  With Sympathy”

Feel free to write to me if you have questions on any techniques I use to make my cards.  If you are interested in purchasing them, most of my cards are available at my ETSY Shop.  I do offer discounts for veterinarians and other pet professionals buying multiple cards at one time.

Rescue On!



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Gift tags for the pet lover

Hand made gift tags for the pet lover!

good imprint

I love making packages pretty and personal, don’t you?

What do you think of these gift tags?

I made a set for myself and put three sets up for sale on my shop.  I am charging $6.99 for four – does that seem like a fair price?

Rescue On,


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Sparky says………

WTF imprintSnarky Card

Ok, this one might be a little too snarky for some.  This is another new card in my “Sparky says” line.  Sometimes there are occasions when all we can say is “WTF?” and this card will make them smile.  The  inside of the card reads:  “sometimes that is all we can say…:”

What do you think of this one?

WTF imprintwtf Checkers imprint

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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,


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Pet Rescue Art: A Rescue Dog’s Prayer

Original Painting – A Rescue Dog’s Prayer

A Shelter Dog's Prayer

What do you think of my painting?

This is a pastel on velvet paper.  I just love working in pastels and despite what many people think, they are a permanent paint.  This sweet dog praying in his shelter “cell”  with graffiti behind him has a special prayer for anyone looking for a dog.  Most of my pastel paintings have a dimension item to them, in this case its wire for the effect of his cage.   The poem was written by me.

shelter prayer 005 shelter prayer 003

This painting is on file with the US Copyright Office.

Check out my Art Gallery for other Pet Rescue Art I have done.  Many of my paintings and cards are available for purchase at my ETSY shop use the coupon code “NEWCUSTOMER” for 10% off your first purchase.  Are you a pet rescue advocate and just love all things pets?  Follow my blog for pet news, art and ideas for handmade gifts for the pet and pet lover!  I post 1-3 times per week to my blog and daily on Facebook and Pinterest.

Rescue On!


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Handmade Pet Sympathy Card

Handmade card for loss of dog

Sympathy poemThis is one of my original designs for a sympathy card.  This card starts with a base card stock of recycled paper.  I stain it (all sides) and then heavily emboss the front.  There is a distressed, stained and embossed piece of cream cards stock that is largely covered with the poem and embellishments but it creates a lovely accent behind the poem.  All of the embellishments are stained to match and some of them are stamped with designs.

This is one of my favorite cards, what do you think?

Sympathy cards 015(inside of card)

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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!


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Cold weather ideas for dog play!

Well, here we go with another multi-day cold snap in Minnesota – thought it made sense to re-post my cold weather play ideas…stay warm!

Keeping dogs busy in cold weather

I am a stay at home dog mom so fun and exercise are a big part of our day.  We love our walks at the park but living in Minnesota means there are times (in winter and summer) when it just isn’t safe to take the dogs outside for any extended period of time.  Because a cold snap in Minnesota can last for many days (ok, it can be weeks) I have to get creative to keep the dogs busy inside.    Given we have already had an incredibly cold start to the winter it seemed like a good idea to share some of our ideas!  I don’t know about your dogs but mine will only get as excited about an activity as I am …the more fun I seem to be having the more they want to participate in activities with me.

#1)  We play HIDE and SEEK

This is hands down the most fun and the best exercise.   Hide and Seek is also a great way to be practicing basic commands (stay and come).  Because we have a four dog household right now it really takes both of us (me and husband) to play this game.  One of us hides and the other seeks with the dogs.    The hider always has really small size rewards for everyone when they finish a game.   The one who seeks with the dogs keeps them in a “sit, stay” until the hider yells “come”.   We can play just four or five rounds of hide and seek and the dogs will be pooped out.  We even have one cat who always joins in when we play this.  We use the whole house when we play and get them really excited – it is so fun to see their excitement when they find daddy!  The dogs all crash for a nap after this game.  We usually play for about 20 minutes at a time.

#2) We make dinner a game

When we have long days cooped in the house I make meal time an activity for the dogs.  I use food puzzles ( pictured below) to make their dinner a physical and mental excercise.  My favorite food game is the Buster Cube because it gets them moving around so much.  I have used these with all of my dogs with success.  Some of my dogs figure out food puzzles right away (the labs) others I have to patiently help them along until they figure it out on their own.  When I give my dogs food games – I SUPERVISE.  I make a cup of coffee and sit in the room to make sure no one’s food puzzle gets stuck anywhere and to manage any misunderstandings about who is supposed to playing with what game.

december 16 2013 001december 16 2013 002december 16 2013 003december 16 2013 005Dec 30 006Dec 30 004Dec 30 001

#3) Indoor Agility

I have agility equipment for my dogs.  It is just for fun as none of them are/were competitive agility dogs.  The equipment I have is inexpensive, light weight and easy to use.  I bring it in the house for the winter (and in the summer heat) and we play; jumping through hoops, running through the tunnel, etc.  This does require a big room and/or furniture moving but it is worth it to see them having fun.  My dogs don’t interact with the equipment unless I do.  I get excited and use their basic commands to achieve little things with the equipment.  I try to keep the equipment in a room that is carpeted (or put down area rugs while we play) to avoid any slipping incidents on hard surface floors.

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#4) Train them to do activities that give them exercise

My favorite game to get the dogs moving is called “In the basket”.   I came up with this years ago when I got really tired of picking toys up after my dogs.  I have a lab whose idea of fun is to just pull every toy out of the toy box and scatter it around the house for me to clean up later.  Since my dogs have a lot of toys picking up after them gets old quick.  To combat this I trained them to pick up their own scattered toys and place them “in the basket” (I use a laundry basket).  They get a reward for putting them in the “basket”.   This can go on for quite some time, I just keep re-tossing the toys out of the basket.  I train my dogs with a clicker (my labs and my pom when he could still hear).  To train activities like this I will use the clicker to capture a behavior that I want them to repeat, even if I have to manipulate it, in this case putting a basket right under their noses when they have a toy and marking the exact moment they drop the toy in the basket with my clicker.  My Lhasa has no patience for training with a clicker (or otherwise).  She figures out activities like this (eventually) by watching the other dogs.

#5) Long lasting snacks

My dogs get a snack every afternoon.  When we are cooped up I prepare packed full frozen Kongs for snack time.  I pack them with items like peanut butter, applesauce, bananas, mashed sweet potatoes, meatballs, cooked oatmeal, etc. and stick them in the freezer in the morning – Kongsicles can keep the dogs busy for an hour.

#6) DIY Grooming

I do all my own dog grooming.  With a seven pet household I would be broke if I had to pay a groomer.  Grooming takes energy for the dogs.  For my small dogs – they go what we call the “wet crazies” when they get out of the bath – sprinting around the house all crazy like – we of course egg them on and have a good time with them – but they are pooped after a bath.  My pets are used to grooming enough that they don’t fuss too badly but it still takes time and energy for them.  When its cold out grooming takes particularly long because they need to be dried with a pet drier.  It is a nice way for them to get a lot of attention from me and they usually lay down and nap for a few hours after it’s all over.  I learned grooming techniques from books and videos and by asking lots of questions at the vet.  Grooming my own dogs takes a lot of patience and work on my part but it is very rewarding and I love the one on one time with each dog.  I pasted pictures of the three books I used to learn about grooming, they were all still available on Amazon but are certainly not new releases.  Their are also a lot of free resources available online to learn about grooming.   I have a lot of links to sites and videos for grooming on my Pet Grooming Pinterest Board.


#7) Trick training or something they like

I have some dogs that love trick training and some that have absolutely no interest (my Lhasa).  For those that like it, we have a blast learning silly tricks.  I use a clicker to train behaviors – there are endless books available on different tricks you can teach your dogs.  For my Lhasa, I play tug tug with her as she seems to see trick training as beneath her.

#8)  Fetch/Keep Away

I have some dogs that love fetch and some that have no interest.  In the house it can be a risk to household damage so we usually play keep away instead.  My husband and I will toss the ball back and forth to each other, the dogs may get the balls but we don’t let it go uncontrolled around the house.

#9) Practice the stuff that matters

I am the type of person that likes to see my dogs just being dogs.  It’s not important to me that they are perfectly groomed, are sport champs or know fancy tricks, etc.  But there are a few things that are really important to me; 1) that they have  solid recall (“come” command)  and 2) that they know better than to walk out a door with out me.  We practice these two skills a lot and I use the days we are stuck inside to take advantage of this.  My dogs tend to follow me around the house all day.  When I leave the room, not all the time of course but sometimes, I leave them in a “stay” until I reach another part of the house and give them the “come” command.   It gives us a chance to practice the command that can save their lives and for them to do a little running around the house.  The other thing we practice is doorbell etiquette.  I have no problem with my dogs getting all excited when the door bell rings, in fact  I like it.  However, once the door is opened they need to be able to hold a “sit stay” no matter what.  This keeps them from jumping on guests and more importantly from bolting out the door.  I have adopted two rescues that were runners so this has been a particularly important skill for us to master.  Control at the doorbell doesn’t happen by magic but only with a lot of practice (particularly when you have four dogs).  I have a remote control door bell that I use for practice so I can ring the doorbell from anywhere in the house.  We practice going to the door and having manners (staying in a sit) when the door is open.  They get a lot of praise and a small treat for good behavior at the door.  They seem to have fun and appreciate the attention and excitement.

#10)  Massages

My dogs line up for their massages.  It is a good way to get them calmed down at night and it is also a good way for me to be aware of any changes; lumps and bumps or sores, that may be occurring on their body.  They all have their favorite spots for a rub down.


My dogs love field trips.  They know either they are going to the park or they are going to get a special treat.  When I take my dogs on field trips I usually only take one of them – it’s their turn for one on one time with me.  I do not leave my dogs in the car under any circumstances when I take them with me.  Besides the weather risks of being too hot or too cold in a car, my dogs simply do not like to be left alone in the car so I don’t do it.  So when I say I take them on a field trip it means that I am taking them somewhere that either doesn’t involve us getting out of the car – say a bank deposit (drive thru) which always means they get a treat from the teller or it means I am taking them somewhere they can go – like a friends house, park, vet clinic (a supply run) or pet stores.  When the weather is inclement I make a point of taking special trips that are more for their sake then mine.  A walk around the pet store is a whirl of scent stimulation for a dog- it doesn’t have to cost much (I always buy something – usually just a few treats from the treat bar or a few cans of kitty food for the shelter collection basket).

A lot of our activities in the house will include using tiny size treats for the dogs to reward them for a job well done (not always – sometimes praise is good enough) but given the increased amount of food rewards we cut down the size of their dinners a bit to compensate.  Particularly with our senior dogs we try to be diligent about keeping them at a healthy weight.  I hope some of these ideas are helpful for you!

On the journey,

Nancy H., The Rescue Mama

tips for bad weather

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Satisfying a dogs need to chew – BEST DEALS – CET Enzymatic Chews

My first dog was a Rottweiler named Hercules; he was an awesome dog but his need to chew was no joking matter.  If I didn’t provide him with an appropriate item for his chewing enjoyment at least once a day he would chew other things – like the walls of my house (no kidding).

Herc in the pool

I took the chewing issue to my vet as I didn’t feel informed about all the items sold in pet stores for chewing and we had a few bad experiences with some of them.

I wanted a dog chew that was (1) safe for my dog to chew (well as a safe as a chew can be) (2) wouldn’t make a big mess when the dog chewed it (or smell bad) and (3) was affordable.

cet chews

My vet introduced me to the CET Enzymatic chews by Virbac.    CET’s are beefhide that is treated with an enzyme that helps with plaque build up on the dogs teeth.  For our immediate needs at the time, a Rottie with a chew fettish,  the benefit for Hercules’ dental hygiene was a side-perk – we were just looking for a decent “chew” option.   Over 10 years later CET chews are the only chews I use with all of my dogs (they have been a good tool for all my dogs …Rottweiler to the Pomeranian).

For a chew, keeping in mind all chewing items carry risk for a dog, I have had minimal issues with my dogs choking or digesting these chews.  I do have a 12 year old black lab that is a really aggressive chewer that will sometimes gag a little on the chew (gross I know but he manages it himself – it has never turned in to a choking incident).  I will say, even after all these years, I supervise my dogs when they have chews – there is always the possibility of a choking incident with any chew.   My dogs have not have experienced any digestive upset from the CET chews – even my chocolate lab with a hyper-sensitive stomach.  The upside is that these chews also really do seem to help keep the dogs teeth clean.

My second criteria for a chew was that it didn’t make a mess all over the house when it was soaked with doggy saliva.  (I learned the hard way that some dog chews will stain your carpet – sure makes ya wonder what it’s doing to the dogs tummy too).   I will notice tiny little wads of the CET chew stuck to the carpet after the labs finish their chews.  The little wads do clean up easy (manual pick up – even my Dyson doesn’t get them) but there is no staining or discoloration of my carpet from the chews.  The CET chews don’t smell bad either.

The final criteria for a chew was that it was affordable.  CET Chews are actually quite expensive – especially if you have multiple dogs like we do.  Historically, I had always purchased the CET Chews at the vet office and would subsequently have a nose bleed after I wrote the check for them.  The good news is that they are becoming more widely available and the price is coming down.

The purpose for this post is to share the history I have had with these chews and to highlight the best deal I have found on them which is on the American Diabetes Wholesale website.   I pasted the link to the site here .  I purchase the chews in 5 Packs which gets me 56% off the retail price.  If your order is over $100.00 the shipping from them is free.  This works for well for us as I typically order multiple 5 packs and the Virbac toothpaste at the same time to take advantage of the free shipping.  My experience with their service so far has been good – they process the order the same day and the shipping is fast and free.  I have recently noticed a slightly better price for the CET Chews on another site,  They have a sale price that is almost $1/bag lower than American Diabetes Wholesale (as of 4/24) and they offer free shipping on orders over $85.00.  I did call them to see if this was a permanent sale price or temporary sales price and they did say it was probably a temporary sale price but its worth checking this site out too.  I  do not have any experience ordering from this company yet.

I hope you find this “BEST DEAL” post helpful.  I am NOT a paid spokesman for any product or website mentioned on this page and I don’t write product reviews on any pet items unless I have had years of experience with multiple breeds interacting with the product.  I am simply sharing our experiences in the hope we can help others with the learning curve on caring for their pets.  I will close this post with a reminder that all chew items carry a risk for a dog – when I hand out  chews to our dogs I make a cup of coffee or tea and sit down and relax with the dogs while they enjoy their treat.

As always, the first stop for any questions about a pet’s care for us will always be our veterinarian.