A Retirement Home For Dogs?

My first reaction to a Japanese pet company opening the world’s first pet retirement home (see article here) was confusion. I imagined that most people willing to support their old dog financially would also be willing to take care of it physically. But, now that I’ve had a couple of days to mull it over, I’m pretty bummed I didn’t think of the idea first. And pretty sad I don’t live in Japan.

Desi Senior Dog Mutt

Of course there are people who work all day, maybe even juggle multiple jobs or have to travel for work. Of course there are dogs with crazy medical needs the average owner feels incapable of meeting. So no, this idea may not save the old dogs who are dumped at the pound when their age becomes an ‘inconvenience’. But it may still be the best option for many loving families. At least those willing to shell out a pretty penny. It looks like the average cost is expected to be about $1,000 per month for the fancy new facility.

Like a nursing home for humans, visitors are welcome to come spend time with their beloved old friends as often as they want. Evidently, dogs in the senior care center have access to a special doggie gym, a pool, and of course round-the-clock veterinary care.

Dogs Window MuttsBut it turns out, this isn’t actually the first retirement home for dogs, as the original article led me to believe. Another retirement home in Japan opened back in 2007. The original also has access to veterinarians all day long and someone to give the dogs a little bit of exercise and love. Additionally, I’m ecstatic to see that they utilize “puppy therapy” with the elderly dogs. They bring young rescue dogs to act as therapy dogs to the seniors! I love everything about this! I’d probably even sponsor an elderly stray if only I had the money to do so.

While I’d feel guilty leaving my senior pooch in her golden years, it must also be somewhat comforting to leave your dog in the hands of professionals who have all day long to monitor health and love on them. I want my girl to know I’m there for her no matter what. But after seeing how much Desi desired constant company when she was close to the end, I image any person who has the time to pet and cuddle is good for them. Even better that the owner can still come visit daily.

Desi Senior Dog MuttIn fact, I think I’d love to work in one of these retirement homes. Wouldn’t every dog lover? But I am curious: Would you ever leave your elderly pet in a retirement home? Would you sponsor a homeless senior so they could enjoy the last chapter of their life?

No More Dirty Dogs! Part 2 – Stink (Shouldn’t) Happen

I know your woes, stranger. I know you love that furry animal-child of yours. But unless you lack of sense of smell or have an awesome odor-free pooch, I know you don’t love their stink. In fact, I bet you’re even worried guests will think your house smells bad. It’s okay! We can demolish those fears.

Behold, how to fight the power(ful odor that follows your dog like a shadow).

Part Two Of The No More Dirty Dogs Series - How To Fight Dog Odor Continue reading

Tips For Financially Challenged (Or Just Frugal) Pet Owners

I’m young. I’m a recent graduate. And I’m unemployed. I do my best to live as frugally as I can. That includes how I take care of Lana. I aim to be, if I’m being honest, “cheap” while not sacrificing her health or happiness. I certainly don’t have a perfect system, but I’ve noticed some tricks that help me save money on pet care.

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1. I buy food in bulk. Lana gets a pretty good brand of food, but I buy 40 pounds at a time, bringing the price down to about a dollar a pound. Then I store the leftovers in airtight containers in a closet. I use a charcoal container, but I’ve seen people use tins and garbage cans.

2. I splurge on an all in one flea/tick/worm preventative. This, I also buy in bulk. Trifexis is the biggest chunk of Lana’s vet bills (normally), but I just feel like it does a better job than if I bought separate preventative medications. It’s worth a little extra up front. And don’t forget the rebate!

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Lana takes Trifexis, Desi takes Sentinel. Talk to your vet about which prescriptions are best for your dog!

3. Don’t assume 1800petmeds is the cheapest place to get prescriptions. I’ve used them before, but by the time you added in shipping and handling it was about the same price as going through my vet. Plus, it takes longer. Instead, do your research. Check their site, your vet, and even your local pharmacy. Some, like Target, even carry generic versions of many pet medications.

4. Whether or not you need something right now, always keep an eye on sales. (Petsmart has a sale going on right now!) After holiday sales are especially convenient – your dog will never realize they got a brand new Jack-o-Lantern toy in April. If you stockpile items on sale, you never have to pay full price because you need something immediately.

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I stock up on Nylabones, Dentastix, a racket balls any chance I get.

5. Groupon sometimes has pet stuff too! I mentioned this on the Facebook Fanpage earlier last week, but I’ll just remind y’all.

6. You could make dog treats yourself or treat your dog to bites of dog-safe human food. Is this actually cheaper than traditional dog treats? Probably not. Is it cheaper than the super healthful, really aromatic dog treats you can buy? Probably. (Unless you bought a bunch on sale like I suggested!) Either way, it’s easy enough to do. You can check out my doggie ice cream recipe here! (And of course I’ll post more recipes soon.)

7. Remember, continuous upkeep is cheaper than quick fixes later. This can be your dog’s weight, their dental health, their grooming, etc. Better to brush their teeth a few times a week than pay the vet to put them under to do a deep clean. Better to brush your dog’s gorgeous coat than wait until it’s matted and you have to turn to a professional groomer. And it is way better to watch your dog’s weight than wait until it has a negative effect on their joints and overall health.

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Another option for cheap toys is empty pill bottles or coke bottles. (Under supervision only!)

8. There is no shame in buying used when possible. I bought Lana’s nail clippers from a friend who decided she’d rather just have her vet trim her dog’s nails. (I might do the same if Lana had black nails, so no judgment here, even from a frugal mom!) More realistically, big purchases like outgrown crates and even FURminators can easily be sanitized and reused. It might not be easy to find someone selling one of these things right when you need it, so you might have another item to add to the stockpile when you find it.

9. If your dog is as crazy destructive as some of mine are, you could make your own toys. My father made Lana a rope that has help up pretty well – I definitely need to pin him down on how he did it. Another option is one I shared on the Facebook page recently. Take a muffin tin and put a treat in one of the cups. Then cover all the cups with tennis balls. The cup with the treat could have a different colored tennis ball, but it’s probably not necessary. Dogs will have to use their heads (or at least their noses) to find the treat. It’s a good way to keep them busy and quell that boredom-based, destructive urge.

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We always buy the girls’ costumes in November, when they’re on sale.

10. Rather than buying cheap toys all the time, if you don’t want to make them all yourself, invest in a more expensive but more durable toy. It saves money because you don’t have to buy 80 plushies, and because your dog can’t rip them to shreds and eat the pieces and require surgery. Like some dogs we know.

11. Do as much grooming as you can yourself. I’m lucky to have a fairly clean, not overly fluffy dog with a good deal of white nails. I don’t usually have to go to the groomer. Anything you can do yourself to eliminate trips to the groomer, or at least make them fewer and farther between, could really save you money.

12. Training saves you money! Training can eliminate destructive behaviors, keep your dog safe (yay fewer vet bills), and might even save you money on insurance. Ask your home insurance provider if Canine Good Citizen could lower your premium. At the very least, some companies have lifted their ban on certain breeds if the dogs pass the Canine Good Citizen evaluation.

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Training can save you the cost of a good pair of work heels, among other things.

13. Speaking of insurance, think about pet health insurance. I can in no way promise this saves you money. It could save you crazy amounts of money. Think boatloads. Or, it could cost you. It’s a complete gamble. But for some of us with accident-prone pooches, it’s probably best to bite the bullet and buy insurance.

14. Consider mobile vets for shots. I shouldn’t even have to remind you that it is definitely better than going without. Also, consider picking up a free or discounted spay or neuter voucher. Want more? Follow your local shelter on Facebook. That’s how I found out about their discount microchipping days. Lana and I waited in line to get some very reasonably priced peace of mind. Worth every penny, and way cheaper than going through a vet.

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This blue mess was once a rope.

Dogs are expensive, and not a spur of the moment investment anyone should make. But, like anything else in life, a little bit of planning can make your pet care budget go further. What do you do to save money on pet care?

We Want That (Wednesday?)

I like alliteration. I’ve noticed lots of bloggers do Wordless Wednesday, and that’s awesome. I just don’t want anyone to think I’m stealing their thunder. So today I have “We Want That Wednesday”! We being… me and… Lana? Just roll with it.

I can’t guarantee we (again? what a weird habit) will do this every Wednesday. I just happened to run across a really cool thing on Pinterest (where else?!) and just HAD to share it with you all!

It’s a list of the top ten must have smartphone apps for dog owners! While I think all the apps are really cool, I don’t want to take any credit away from whoever it was who compiled the list, so I’ll pick out the ones I think are the coolest and/or most useful to share with you. Just a quick note: I’ve never personally tried any of these apps. My phone is a good 8+ years old, but the MOMENT I get a smartphone (soon please?!), most if not all of these are going straight on it. Enjoy!

Smartphone Apps for Dog Lovers | Dream Big, Bark Loudly

First we have “Tagg – The Pet Tracker” by SnapTracs, Inc. It is available for free on iOS and Android. Tagg tracks your dogs’ activity and location via GPS. I’ve seen so many “lost pet” posts, I’m thinking everyone should consider something like this. Check out the following review a user left on iTunes:

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Another handy app is iCam, a sort of nanny cam marketed to pet owners. This app is a whopping $4.99, but that’s a pretty small price to pay for peace of mind, if you think about it. Or if you think your neighbor is crazy and that your dogs never bark while your gone, proof is worth five bucks. Unless you’re wrong. Just trust me on this one…

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Pet First Aid is another fantastic app available for both iOS and Android. This one is a little bit cheaper at just $3.99 on iOS and $2.99 on Android. I don’t know why there’s a price difference, but there is. Sorry iPhone users! Anyway, this app includes both videos and articles on animal first aid ranging from minor injuries to CPR and fractures.

Smartphone Apps for Dog Lovers | Dream Big, Bark Loudly

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The last app I’ll feature is called DoggyDatez. It’s great for sociable dog owners who are looking for new friends! DoggyDatez lets you ‘mark your territory’ and see if any other dog owners live or walk their dogs within or near your ‘territory’. It is free for Android and iOS. Just remember to be safe if you meet strangers!

Smartphone Apps for Dog Lovers | Dream Big, Bark Loudly——————————————————————————————————————–

There are plenty of other cool apps that do everything from list pet toxins to remind forgetful owners like myself whether they’ve fed their beloved pets yet or not (because they’ll always say you haven’t fed them yet). To see the rest, give the original list maker some love and check them out!

The Benefits of Daycare for the Destructive Dog

As far as I know, the beautiful girl from my last post is still in need of a foster or adopter.

Why do her current owners want to re-home her? They are working long hours and fear she doesn’t get the attention she needs. She has regressed in her training and become destructive.

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Don’t let that description scare you, she can easily be trained again.

Do people not watch The Dog Whisperer?! That is totally a fixable problem! Even if you don’t have time to wake up at sunrise and take your dog on a run, there is another option. Let me take this opportunity to hop aboard my soapbox. This time, I’m actually somewhat qualified to speak.

I may or may not have mentioned on this site, but I spent nearly three years working for a dog daycare and training facility. First off, best first job ever. Secondly, I got to learn a lot and help socialize, train, and tucker out tons of dogs. My boss was an expert, and I was lucky to receive the guidance I did under her wing.

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You see, when a dog is ignored or neglected, he or she often becomes destructive. Like children, they seem to be seeking attention; and negative attention is better than none. Doggie daycare does a couple of things to combat the destructive drive that forms in dogs whose owners are overworked and struggling to find the proper time to care for their dog.

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Daycares most obviously help by getting the dog out of the house! If you feel guilty crating your dog while you’re gone, but fear for walls, carpet, furniture, and basically everything you own when you leave, daycare is your best solution. After all, your dog can’t destroy your home if he or she isn’t at home. So far so good, right?

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It’s also not such a stretch of the imagination to realize dog daycare is a great way to tire out your dog. At least at Doggie Dayz, dogs were given toys and tons of room to run around, as well as a couple of structured walks per day. The dogs would usually play until they were exhausted, nap, and then play some more. It’s way more fun than being in a crate, and instead of a burst of pent up energy greeting you when you get home, you get a dog who is content to eat dinner and then sleep until morning.

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There is another little trick that helps the average daycare dog stay out of trouble at home. Remember when I specified dogs went on “structured” walks? That means the walkers (people like me) are making the dogs show off their good manners. This actually serves to mentally stimulate the dogs by giving them a job to do. (If you watch The Dog Whisperer, you know this is a pretty big deal.)

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Being told to “sit” during their walk emphasizes to Maddie and Ralphie that their walk is working time, not playing time

Daycare is also extremely helpful for socializing dogs of all ages. While there is a “window of socialization” when it is best to introduce a puppy to new stimuli, no dog is “too old” to be socialized. (Please note, full-out aggressive dogs will not be allowed in daycares, for the safety of the other dogs and employees.) Dogs are pack animals, whether their packs consist of people or other dogs. Dog daycare allows dogs to meet other dogs and new people as well, from other customers to the daycare employees.

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Dogs have the opportunity to play with each other as well as the employees.

Dog daycare is more expensive than just going to the dog park, but it is nice to know there are trained employees on the property who understand body language, know CPR, and genuinely care about all of the dogs present. The fact that all dogs are required to be up to date on shots and fixed is a huge plus to me, too. I actually took Lana to the dog park this past weekend and I witnessed a doggie brawl. I’m not saying dog parks are terrible places, but they have their good points and their bad, just like anything else.

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Despite Hannah’s bared teeth, Lana and I knew this was all play. Tail curled up, Lana is displaying her normal, playful body language.

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Here we see Lana’s body language changing as she observes some more dominant dogs. Luckily, Lana learned from daycare to keep a distance from dogs that don’t play very well with others.

Naturally, as a former employee of a doggie daycare, I’m biased, but I am also more educated on this matter than the average person. I was fortunate that Lana was able to be raised in a daycare, and between her and the fosters I’ve taken to daycare (who have made huge improvements since they were first rescued), I’m convinced. Dog daycare is a great solution if you’re “too busy” to give your dog the attention they need. Rather than give your dog to the shelter or an already full rescue (like poor Molly), try something creative. Maybe it feels selfish to have someone else take care of your dog all day while you’re at work, but I can attest that the dogs who go to daycare love it. They don’t hate their owners for being busy and they don’t love them any less just because they love the daycare employees, too. They are given all of the affection, attention, and exercise they need, and they still get to keep their home.

Two of the most tuckered out (and cutest!) dogs I've ever seen.

Two of the most tuckered out (and cutest!) dogs I’ve ever seen.