Beach Bums

Have you ever followed people on Instagram who post beautiful photos of their dogs in lush forests or on towering mountains? No, I’m not self-promoting. My Florida dog has never seen a mountain. And if we want to avoid death by mosquito, we steer clear of forests, too. Which is really a shame. However, we do follow some of these lovely dogs online, and get major wanderlust. Thanks a lot, guys!

Brady (former foster dog) and Lana (personal dog) go hikingSee how deep that ‘forest’ is? It’s just a swamp lined with trees. Still pretty but not the same. I am getting major vacation blues. The cure?

Loki and Lana playingCute pictures of dogs on the beach, of course! Specifically, our (mini) photo session from Gulf Shores, Alabama!

Lana at the beachLana and Loki pose for a photoLoki's beach portraitLoki's beach photo seshLoki's close upHappy weekend, everyone!

Work Hard, Play Hard

If you’ve been following either on the blog or on Facebook, you’ve probably noticed I talk a lot about playgroups at the Tallahassee shelter. I love them and they are a blast, not to mention a nice throwback to my days working at a dog daycare.

Cookie and Domino playingDingo and Bella Playgroups make life more bearable for shelter dogs. Even if just for 30 minutes a day, they get to escape the confines of their small kennels and stretch their legs. They make friends, exhaust themselves, and work their brains. And when it’s all said and done and they’ve joined a family of their own, they’re more socially adept than they would have been without play time. This is a huge deal, even if it just means walking by another dog on leash is easier for the new owner.

Domino, Cookie, and Peaches playing

Domino the goofiestShelters around the country are implementing playgroups. I’m sure the same people who taught us are responsible for a good number of the other shelters, too. I’d like to thank Dogs Playing For Life! for taking the time to demonstrate to the staff and volunteers at our local shelter how to lead safe, efficient playgroups to benefit our pups. (In fact, last week was their second year presenting in Tallahassee, so many people were soaking up their advice again.) They are great at what they do and have helped so many shelters provide enrichment without tons of added costs.

Dingo, Venus, Steve-o, and Thumper playingCookie and Domino having a blastI highly recommend checking out their website if you’re interested in learning more! They have many helpful and entertaining resources. Want to help them provide shelters in need with no-cost training seminars? They are a 501(c)3 non-profit and always appreciate donations. (Not at all a sponsored post y’all, I truly believe they do wonders for shelter dogs!)

Thumper and Venus

Thumper, Dingo, and Steve-oWant to see more photos of the Tallahassee shelter dogs playing? Because I sorely need practice in fast moving photography, I’ve created a ‘Playgroup’ Facebook album on our official fanpage. Feel free to peruse, maybe you’ll even fall in love with a dog you see!

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?

Tips For First Time Dog Owners

A reader asked me about tips for first time dog owners. While I can’t predict every problem a dog owner may face, I have compiled a list of suggestions and reminders for people who have decided to become dog owners.

Tips For First Time Dog OwnersBefore you get a dog: If you know you want a dog, but don’t have one yet, there are several things you should do before getting one.  Continue reading

A Dog Themed “Social Sunday”

I’ve spent weeks drilling my boyfriend, my mother, and anyone else who will cooperate, trying to make Dream Big more enjoyable. The feedback I got isn’t all that surprising. Basically, they’ve reminded me that this is a blog, not a novel. And while there are some topics than need lots of words, I should occasionally give myself and my readers a break by shutting up once in a while. 😉  Of course it was said nicer than that.

So, as my way of sharing without as many words, I’ve decided to participate in “The Sunday Social with Neely and Ashley”. However, since this is an animal blog, I’ll try to keep in theme. In fact, my twist is these answers will only include animal themed Pins. I mean, Pinterest is like my second home and I have actual favorites, but dogs is what you’re here for, right?

This Weeks Questions:

1. What is your favorite outfit pin?

A Dog Themed Social SundaySo stinking cute! Continue reading

“So, What Are Ya In For?”

Why do dogs and cats commonly end up in shelters? Are they ‘damaged goods’? Have they all been abused? Here are the top 10 reasons animals are surrendered as well as resources and practical advice for people who feel as though they need to re-home their animals. Please consider sharing it if you or someone you know is in this unfortunate position.

There is a common belief that animals in shelters are there because they were bad. Or perhaps because the previous owner saw signs of an expensive illness in the near future and dumped them so someone else could pay for them.

"So, What Are Ya In For?"  How animals really wind up in shelters and practical advice for the owner who feels like they have no other option than to give up their pet.I understand the thought process, I really do. I mean, why else would someone give up their companions? As it turns out, there are many reasons higher on the list than poor behavior or medical issues. A study by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy evaluated the top reasons dogs and cats are surrendered to shelters. They found that the top 7 reasons for dog and cat relinquishment were the same. Continue reading