Tag Archives: california

26Apr/17

Stormy weather sickness

Happy Spring everybody!

(P.S. I proposed … .and she accepted!)

Rainy enough for ya? (Another version of, “hot enough for ya?” but somehow even more annoying.) Please excuse me – I’m a little grouchy. I’m tired of the rain! (As I write this – right now – guess what – it’s raining!)

I’m pretty sure I’ve been wearing a beanie for six solid months.

Having said that, us Californians are grateful for this (relentless) rain. Battling our drought is more important than our comfort and good hair days.

Water is life and we are thankful.

But what we’re not so thankful for, and what has pulled me out of my blog exile, is a very real health concern that has been affecting local dogs and their owners recently because of all this rainfall.

Water-borne illnesses. (See a comprehensive slide-show of them here.)

(Lady, showing harmful bacteria her true feelings.)

Leptospirosis, Giardia and other Nasty Critters have been thriving in the standing water that never gets to dry up because of all this (relentless/wonderful) rain.

Waste from wild life is the real culprit here – a deer or raccoon pees or poos, it runs downhill with the water, and thrives for weeks or months in a puddle, creek or mud.

You know – all the places your dog loves to drink from and splash around in.Those kinds of places.

This recent article cited a Bay Area dog who died earlier this year due to complications from Lepto from playing in a park. A San Francisco vet is quoted as witnessing five documented cases of Lepto-positive dogs in early 2017 in her practice alone.

Besides this one article, I’ve heard through the grapevine from my veterinary friends that Lepto is on the rise and I need to pay attention.

An artistic rendering of me and my vet friends hating everything that hurts and kills dogs. Grrrrrr.

In addition, a wonderful, healthy and happy WOOF dog had to be euthanized recently due to a bacteria he encountered playing outdoors that didn’t respond to antibiotics and hospitalization.

So I felt a public service announcement was in order: please be aware of waterborne illnesses! Especially right now while everything is still very wet out there.

Some important tips:

Don’t allow your dog to drink water from puddles or creeks – EVER.

Wash your dog thoroughly if he/she has been frolicking in mud/puddles, etc. (Or keep them on a leash and don’t let them do it until the ground dries out.)

Ask your vet about the Lepto vaccine – it is a series of two vaccines spaced 2 to 4 weeks apart (if your dog has never been vaccinated for it) and is sometimes included in the Distemper vaccine (DHLPP instead of DHPP – the L stands for Lepto) *Note the vaccine is not 100 percent effective, but certainly increases the odds of your dog not becoming seriously ill from exposure

Some facts about Lepto:

It’s more common in warmer climates

It’s transmitted through urine (think of urine settling into puddles and mud)

It’s a spiral-shaped bacteria that can live in a favorable environment for weeks or even months

It is zoonotic, which means that you CAN get it from your dog (again, from direct contact with urine from an infected animal or infected water, soil or food – so wash your hands after outdoor activities and cleaning up after your pet!)

If caught in time, it has about a 75 percent survival rate

Symptoms to look for:

lethargy

decreased appetite

increased water consumption

increased urination

vomiting

diarrhea

fever

muscle pain

red eyes

blood in urine

red-speckled gums

The toughest part is realizing something is wrong with your dog in time to start a successful course of fluids and antibiotics. The symptoms can be so subtle – not to mention general and symptoms of countless other serious and not-so-serious conditions.

Pay close attention to your dog and his/her habits. When in doubt, go to your vet and get that bloodwork or Xrays. It could truly save your dog’s life.

In the article referenced above, for example, the dog was 13 years old, so the owner, understandably, thought her lethargy and other symptoms were just signs of an older dog slowing down. By the time she went to the vet, the bacteria had spread and affected her organs too much to save her. Sadly, most of these dogs go into renal failure when their kidneys stop working and euthanasia is really the only humane option.

As for me and Lady, we are squarely in the danger zone. We hike almost every morning (very early, in the dark, before work), splashing through water and mud.

We love our early-morning hikes and take selfies to document our adventures.

Lady is older (10) and is having typical old-dog symptoms. Some days she’s tired. Some days she’s achy. Some days she doesn’t feel like eating. I have to pay close attention to what’s “normal” and what could be something serious like Lepto.

I’m sure you all feel my pain here.

So what are my choices? I can hike without Lady and break her heart. I can stop hiking altogether and break everyone’s hearts.

We can just all stop doing everything we love because there are dangers involved in living.

I say no to that.

Instead, I’ve decided to continue doing what we all love, but doing it more thoughtfully and with some key precautions.

I’ve vaccinated Lady for Lepto. I keep her on leash during the hike, and am vigilant about not allowing her to drink water off the ground. I rinse and clean her legs and underside every morning post-hike (yes, every morning, when it is still dark outside and we are all tired, which sucks for both of us, but makes me feel a whole lot better when I see her “cleaning” her legs as she rests in her doggie bed.)

We will live informed, but we will not live in fear.

I urge you all to do the same.

(I am not a veterinarian nor an expert on waterborne illnesses – please consult your veterinarian about your dogs’ lifestyle and best health choices.)

 

13Apr/15

5 Tips: Bringing Your Dog on Vacation

Can I just say right up front that you don’t have to take your dog on vacation. DON’T TAKE YOUR DOG ON VACATION. That’s what WOOF is for! So, go ahead. Go on vacation. Leave your dog with us.¬†We got this.

2 Boarding reception tour

Welcome to WOOF – may we take care of your dog today? ūüôā

But let me pose a hypothetical situation. Say you adopt a dog. Say that dog is crazy adorable.

lady stump

(And this is just the back view.)

Say this crazy adorable dog also has separation anxiety. And say, even though you may work at a boarding facility, and get free boarding, you never leave her at work. Like ever. And maybe in order to actually be able to relax without constantly worrying about your dog, you have to take Miss Crazy Adorable with you on vacation.

Maybe that person is me.

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Hi, my name is Vickie and I am with my dog all the time.

(Hi Vickie!)

Let’s just say I have a lot of practice taking my dog everywhere, even on vacation. Let me share my insanity wisdom.

1. Find a good dog-friendly hotel.

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The emphasis being on the word “good.” Just because a hotel will accept your dog doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to you. Remember, this is your vacation so find a place you would like regardless of its pet policy.

I drove across country with my dog twice and was able to find a decent spot just about everywhere we stopped. Most chain hotels accept dogs – just call ahead and check. It’s becoming more and more trendy to accept pets, so you have that going for you.There are books and web sites listing pet-friendly hotels, like this one. If they’re pros, they’ll only charge you an additional $20-$30 a day for your dog. If it’s more, or they want a hefty “dog deposit,” shop around. A pet fee shouldn’t be more than 15-20% of what your room costs per night.

Some hotels won’t allow a dog over a certain weight. This always confused me because little dogs can be just as destructive as big dogs. I’ve heard hotels prefer small dogs because if the dog pees or poops in the room, the mess is smaller. There’s no point in arguing with the front desk, especially with a chain that operates by corporate rules. (And don’t start your vacation being angry – it’s not worth it.)

But sometimes if I just say, “okay, I’ll call the hotel down the street,” they want your business so badly they’ll accept your big dog. Same goes for the pet fee – if you think it’s too expensive, politely decline and tell them why. They’ll either lower the price to get your business, or they’ll make a note for management.

lady halloween

I am very clean, thank you very much.

Make sure you understand the rules – the main ones being don’t make a mess (easily done if your dog is potty trained and you take care not to let food and hair get everywhere) and don’t leave your dog unattended in the room. (I couldn’t leave Lady in the room even if I wanted to, so my plan includes bringing her along everywhere we go.)

Luckily for me, my favorite place in the world is also famously dog-friendly. We most often vacation in Carmel, Calif.¬†because it has everything we like: beaches, hikes, great food and it’s just plain beautiful. Neighboring city Monterey also has the amazing¬†¬†aquarium, which is worth going to more than once. Up picturesque Highway One is the coastal majesty known as¬†Big Sur. (If you haven’t been up this way, you really should go!)

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This is just a picture I took from the car. I mean, come on.

I love the Carmel River Inn because it’s clean, quiet and my kind of charming. There is a main motel-like hotel but tucked in the back is the good stuff: sprawling gardens peppered with quaint little cottages. We like the John Steinbeck cottage (room 24, king bed, whirlpool tub, little patio). Rates per night are around $150-$200, depending on the season, and the dog fee per night is $20. It’s very reasonable considering you get your own space plus acres of Bambi-esque meadows to wander around in.

If Disney designed these cottages, they couldn’t have been cuter. (And I did not get any discounts for mentioning this inn – I just really like it!)

Some photos, proving my point:

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Gurgling fountains.

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Flowers, flowers everywhere.

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(Oh, hi Lady!)

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Our cottage duplex.

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Part of our room (I moved the couch around.)

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The rest.

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Big, ol’ tub!

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Our patio.

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Swing for swinging.

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… my magical place….

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… where I swung my head back, looking at the trees.

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An actual hammock.

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A leafy heart right outside our room.

Not every dog-friendly hotel is the Carmel River Inn, but if you do a little research, you’ll find a good place.

2. No hot weather (sorry sun-worshippers!)

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It’s essential that the place you’re visiting doesn’t get much hotter than 70 degrees because it’s likely you’ll have to leave your dog in your car sometimes. (Make sure your dog doesn’t mind hanging in the car!)

Generally, it’s cool enough to leave your dog in the car if the temperature outside is under 70 degrees. Finding shade is best but not essential if the temperature is low enough. (If it was over 70 degrees and we couldn’t find a shady spot, we’d change our plans to include Lady.)

A sandwich on the beach instead of dining in a restaurant is not that much of a letdown when the view looks like this.

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(Carmel Beach is 100 percent dog-friendly!)

3. Pack only the essentials.

Just like with your own packing, you don’t need to totally relocate all the creature comforts of home for your creature abroad. We take food (meals in sandwich bags are easy), leash, bowls, brush and bed. That’s it. Anything else that comes up, like a bee sting or wound,¬†you can buy what you need at the drug store. Read my blog about home healthcare here.

(The bed is optional but Lady loves hers and knows immediately where her “spot” in the room is. But most dog-friendly hotels will provide a doggy blanket.)

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Bed in car!

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Bed in room!

Bonus tip: If you’re ever travelling and run out of dog food, white rice mixed with scrambled eggs or boneless, skinless chicken is a good alternative (and your dog will love it!)

4. Have a game plan.

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Dogs are pretty basic. They need food, exercise and sleep. (And love, yes, yes.) They’re like humans without all the added cerebral BS – they know what they like, and they don’t over think things. Following their lead actually leads to a pretty awesome vacation day.

Here’s what worked for us:

We had breakfast in the room. A french press and fruit is a little piece of heaven. Lady ate her breakfast and got pieces of toast. We showered. Lady did not.

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We went on our Big Morning Outing – I’m talking at least a couple hours. It was either a hike in the forest or a long beach walk. This was Lady’s favorite part (and mine too!)

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Bonus tip: have water and a bowl in your car at all times. It’s important to hydrate your dog (and yourself) frequently.

The next thing was our people-only time. This is when we found the shady parking spot, Lady took a nap and we had some human fun.

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One of my fancy meals.

 Then a siesta was in order. We all went back to the room, cleaned up a little and rested.

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Sometimes we’d nap on the beach.

Refreshed, we’d venture out for our Nighttime Activity. We’d go out to dinner, we’d sit on the sand and look at the stars, we’d marvel at the weirdness that is Carmel.

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This is their gas station sign, for example.

5. Decide if your vacation can realistically involve a dog.

Figure out what a great vacation is for you. Mine is pretty simple: to walk, to eat, to sleep, to read. That’s all I want. Lady fits in with our ambitious plans just fine.

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Like peas and carrots.

 But if your idea of a good vacation is more involved, like flying to a faraway land or exploring the ruins of an ancient civilization, you might have to leave your dog at home.

And “by home,” I mean at¬†WOOF, of course!

staff

Staff are standing by.

Much love,

Vickie Jean

 

 

 

 

 

21Feb/14

Daycare snapshots

Oh, hello.

close up pup

Where the heck have I been on this blog? Wasn’t November just yesterday?

It’s a deep thought, I know.

deep thoughts

Well, all I can muster is that it’s been busy, busy, busy! Business is booming, we’re meeting a lot of new faces all the time and it’s just staggering how many incredible dogs and dog families there are out there in the world!

little and ready

Yes, our enthusiasm is positively UNBRIDLED at this news as well. (She gets it.)

So here we are, catching our breath from all the holiday boarding, and find we are now in the midst of a very healthy daycare turnout. Our old-timers are showing the new-timers how it’s done.

chair stoughton

(It’s okay Stoughton – don’t get up.)

So many dogs, so many days, so many moments. We get to share them all with your pups while you are away. And I thought, hey, here we have all these great moments captured in photos.

I struck upon the best blog idea of all – The Quick & Dirty Photo Barrage.

So here goes nothing – a few of our favorite daycare snapshots!

It’s been chilly, so we’ve enjoyed a doggie fashion show each day.

cold pups

This is Maisy and her fabulous pink plaid jacket. You know she knows she looks good.

 

jacket maisy

I look good too! (You do.)

another coat

There has been lots of tennis ball action, of course.

 

running with ball

And some tennis ball hoarding.

 

lets play

We saw double.

double trouble one

double trouble two

double trouble three

And sometimes quintuple. (Quadruple? Let’s just say lots and lots of black labs.)

black dog meeting

There has been some igloo-sittin’.

igloo sitting

And some stolen kisses.

stolen kisses

Some massive babying. (Which we enjoy.)

rockabye doggie

Some interesting choices to rest.

denali trash can

(Denali! Get off the trash can! Denali? Okay. Never mind…)

And, of course, lots of RUNNING, RUNNING, RUNNING!

active pup

Okay, have to go back to work. It’s busy, you know. Did I tell you that?

Bye!

bye

 

11Nov/13

I don’t know why you say goodbye

One night last summer, I opened the door after work to find my dog dying on my kitchen floor.

beautiful Desi

This was my dog, Desi.

My husband and I had Desi for five wonderful years. We rescued her from a family who got new hardwood floors and didn’t want to risk her nails ruining it. She was missing half of all her canine teeth from chewing on a cage they kept her in.

I’m so thankful that they got those floors.

Desi lake

Before us, Desi had a tough life and she was, in response, a tough girl: intense with a nervous disposition. She was so tough, in fact, that we didn’t know she had a tumor growing on her spleen for quite some time. Up until the day it burst, she ate, drank and acted pretty much as if nothing was wrong.

On that July evening – a Wednesday that my husband and I both had to work unexpectedly late – I drove home thinking about how I would give her some dinner and then walk her around the neighborhood. It was getting dark already and I was tired, but she had been alone all day and I owed her a walk.

She lived for her walks.

Hans and Desi

walking Desi at the lake

And truth be told, we lived for them too.

That afternoon was a long and painful one for Desi. She bled out for over three hours, crawling to all the doors in the house, onto all the furniture, and finally settling in the entryway of the kitchen, sides heaving, struggling for air. We know all this because we could trace her movements from the blood. We also know this because our security camera captured every minute of it.

My husband watched some of the footage to see what time she began to struggle. I couldn’t watch any, but made him promise not to delete it. I’m not sure I’ll ever watch it, but I still need it to be there.

Desi butt

Sometimes when I used to lay in bed with Desi, I would think of how I would do anything to keep her safe. I imagined snatching her leash back just in time in front of an oncoming car. Turning the hose on a strange dog running to attack her. Helping her veterinarian identify and treat a rare disease that I happened to know all about.

In my fantasies, I was her hero and protector.

me and desi in carmel better

That night, I was not exactly a hero. I stood there, frozen, my purse over my shoulder, clutching a handful of mail. She looked up at me, eyes bulging, struggling for air as her insides flooded with blood.

I said, “OK, baby. OK.” I thought about calling hospitals, calling my husband, calling a friend – but everyone was so far away and my phone seemed useless. The closest emergency vet was eight miles away, through heavy traffic. I was losing time with all this thinking.

I tried to comfort her, but there was no comforting that would help. She was struggling to breathe, absolutely terrified. I tried to lift her, but she was too heavy. I was afraid of hurting her even more.

“Ok baby. Ok,” I ran around the house, grabbing things I thought I needed. My phone. A blanket. Her eyes followed me.¬†I came back to her, wrapped her up and ran out the front door.

“Hold on!” I yelled back. I didn’t want her to think I was leaving her.

Desi Marissa

For the longest time, Desi would throw up any time we took her in the car. We had our theories as to why: she feared car trips because she thought we were taking her somewhere else to live and she’d have to get used to a new family all over again. Or she had car sickness due to her “German Shepherd belly,” a very sensitive digestive system common to the breed that couldn’t handle strange foods and acted up with motion sickness.

But one day, we threw caution to the wind and took her to the beach in Point Reyes. We knew we were taking a big chance because the road there is so curvy and the trip is long. We opened all the windows and let the ocean air rush through the car. We piled blankets underneath her just in case and petted her, which sometimes distracted her from the nausea.

Desi stuck her head out of the window and sniffed. The strong ocean breeze blew her ears flat against her head. She had to close her eyes, the wind was so strong. She kept her head out of the window the entire trip, sniffing and squinting away.

I swear, she was smiling.

Me and Desi

From that day on, just like that, car rides became one of her favorite things. Just when you thought you had her figured out, Desi could surprise you like that.

Desi enjoying car ride

Tearing down the sidewalk, I saw a man parking his car on the corner. I waved at him as I ran, practically opening his door for him.

“My dog is hurt. I need you to help me get her in the car.”

“Ok,” he said. I have no idea what my face looked like in that moment, but he didn’t even hesitate.

We ran together back to my house, scooped Desi up and put her in the back seat of my car.

Desi party

 

The next half hour was spent breaking every traffic violation I could break, chanting to Desi from the front seat.

“I know, sweetie. Hold on. We’re almost there. Hold on.”

My husband called the hospital while I was on the road. Two techs met me in the parking lot and carried her in on a gurney. I was told to wait in the waiting room. I sat next to a family with their puppy and their little girl looked at me with curiosity. I smiled but I was tearing up, so I moved to an abandoned corner. Shortly after, my husband arrived in his work clothes, looking freaked out. He sat in the corner next to me.

I cried for the first time, telling him, “It’s bad. It’s bad.”

And it was bad. They could do an emergency, $8000 surgery, support her with blood transfusions all night, but the prognosis wasn’t good. I didn’t want my girl spending her last days in a hospital, alone again, in pain again. My husband and I agreed we had to help her go.

We held her while the needle went in and her heart stopped. We held each other after.

goodbye Desi

The next few days played out like a bunch of pictures in a photo album I wish I could throw away. Kissing Desi’s still, grey muzzle for the last time. Driving home, tears making a smear of the road, thinking, “I shouldn’t be driving.”. Sitting on the chair in my blood-soaked living room. Saying to my husband over and over again, “is she really gone?”

“Did this really happen?”

An hour and a half had passed since I put my key in the side door, entering my kitchen after work, thinking of taking my dog on a walk.

 

Desi last Sunday

This picture was taken the Sunday before she died. She hung out with me all afternoon in the backyard while I read. I stare at it a lot, wondering how big the tumor was in her stomach on that day. It had a few more days to grow – a 3-day ticking time bomb. I imagine its trajectory as it moved and got read to explode, on its way to changing not only my plans for one Wednesday night, but my life.

I’ve had many dogs and I’ve lost many dogs. In theory, I’ve gotten better at accepting that they are temporary, that I should love them as much as I can because they will always be gone sooner than I want them to.

my first dog

It makes me think of my mom, who is in her seventies now. I visit her a lot and try to ask her all the questions I’ll think of later, when I can’t ask. I tell her I love her every time I see her.

me and desi on the beach

It makes me think of my husband, and how I can’t imagine living without him. The pain I felt from Desi was so bad, it makes me wonder how people survive losing a spouse, or losing a child. It seems un-survivable.

husband Desi button

Desi knows what lies beyond this life. I wish I could ask her what to expect. I hope her answer would be something magical, something more than I ever imagined.

I think of all the pain she endured in this life, with owners who didn’t take good care of her, locked her up in a cage when she was inconvenient for them, built a dog who sized strangers up as if asking, “are you going to do bad things to me?”

I think of our time with Desi, us teaching her to relax, we got you. Her teaching us that even if people hurt you in your past, you can still get ridiculously excited at the sight of a squirrel in a tree. (And we did!)

Even though, between those bouts of joy and excitement, her everyday moments were shadowed with ghosts from her past. I think about her last moments on this earth, where her body betrayed her and the people she loved and trusted most weren’t there. I hate that she had to be afraid once again,alone.

 

love Desi

And then we were there, and we took her to a place where we paid someone to give her a pain injection that brought her relief, and then paid them some more to give her a shot that took her away, to somewhere else we’re not even sure of.

Because, ultimately, that was the best we could do.

Having dogs has taught me a lot. To get up on some mornings when I don’t feel like doing anything until I see that little face, telling me, “come on, come on. There’s lots of fun stuff out there. Come with me and I’ll show you.”

And I go, and there is, and I wonder, “what was I so sad about?”

But I think the biggest lesson comes when they leave. And you’re left alone to wonder, “what happened? Are they really gone? Did that really happen?”

Because dogs live such a short life. And with each one we get, then lose, we remember that everything, and everyone, is temporary. That they should be savored and hugged and loved to within an inch of their life every waking moment of yours.

showing Desi the world

Because, even though there is so much to be sad about, there’s really not enough time to waste being sad.

desi is gone

Dogs can surprise you like that sometimes.

 

16Aug/13

Off to college

We lost a good one yesterday.

Max dog wrangling

Max, one of our long-time dog handlers, is leaving us for college.

Max graduated

Here he is with his sister at graduation. (Yes, Max, I lifted a few of your personal photos off Facebook for the purpose of this blog.)

We are so happy for him. He’s going to Montana State University to major in mechanical engineering. Smart kid, good major – we know he is going to make everyone proud.

We’ve known Max through most of his high school career. He got a job at WOOF because of several e-mails he sent asking to work for us. He was tenacious – so much so that owner Jacque gave him a chance.¬†And we are so glad that she did because Max was a keeper.

His true love of dogs, maturity, work ethic and just plain sweet-natured personality has made it a pleasure to work with him over the years.

Max smiley bulldog

We know he’s about to embark on an important journey – one where he is going to begin to grow into an adult (and decide what kind of adult he wants to be.)

Max little dog

But can I confess something?

His absence is going to be a huge loss to the WOOF family and we are more than a little sad.

Max deep love

The job of a dog handler is not easy. You’re on your feet for hours, cleaning up countless messes. And after all that cleaning, yep, there’s more cleaning – you clean the entire building after the dogs have gone home. (Read about all of our amazing staff here.)

It really requires someone who can tolerate all the dirty work because they just like being around the dogs. And it requires someone who the dogs like being around too.

Max more deep love

Max is one of those people.

In honor of Max’s legacy, and to give him a proper send-off, let’s enjoy some Max moments.

There are the endless shots of him doing our famous Cuddle Times:

Max big shaggy dog

Max border collie

Max lab

Max Christmas

(Christmas cuddle!)

Here he is hanging out with his WOOF crew off hours:

max and kwon

Max and Andrew

woof friends

Max, Alex and Lauren

Can you spot him in the Little Dog Lounge?

max the lounge

And one of my personal favorites, Max in the Little Dog Chair, giving a little thug life flavor:

Max in little dog chair

So with that, let us just say goodbye and good luck Max.We look forward to seeing you on all of your school breaks, filling in for us where you can.

We’ll save your drink for you.

Max kwon

xoxo,

Vickie Jean @ WOOF

03Jul/13

Heat wave

We’re finally nearing the end of this record-breaking heat wave. And let me tell ya – ¬†it’s not a day too soon!

hot

So. Very. Hot.

 im hot

Hey! Hey! It’s hot outside!

hot too

Hey, um…

bulldog german shep

Hot enough for ya?

Yes, kids. I know. It’s hot.

With the temperatures hovering in the high nineties (and sometimes hitting three digits!) for about a solid week now, we’ve gotten the same question from our WOOF parents:

How on earth do you keep them cool?

Well, for those guests who are staying in our luxurious, air-conditioned suites overnight, staying cool and comfortable is not a problem.

suite

(If I could fit on that bed, I would have slept in there. My house has no air conditioning!)

But during the day, the dogs want to play outside so we have to improvise. We use the typical anti-heat weapons, of course.

Shade…

tarp shade

(We love our new sail shades!)

Rest…

Licorice

Water…

water

Fans…

fans

Heck, we even have movie days.

movie day shade

But our biggest secret weapon against the summer heat?

pool 7

pool 4

pool 2

WADING POOLS! Yeah, baby!

Dogs are funny about pools. They don’t approach them like us human folk. Their first thought is typically: why, this is a giant water bowl! How fun. I’m gonna drink all this water.

pool 1

pool 9

 

Then, inevitably, there the splashing begins.

pool 8

pool 6

Cool! Giant water bowl to splash in!

And then, finally, when drinking and the splashing is over, there’s the sitting.

pool 3

Ah. Sittin’ in my giant water bowl.

This explains, WOOF parents, why your dogs may be slightly damp when you pick them up at the end of a hot day.

pool 5

Mom’s here?

Because we know one thing to be true in the battle of keeping your dog safe in the summer heat:

wet dog

A wet dog is a happy dog.

Happy summer and stay cool out there –

Vickie @ WOOF

19Jun/13

Fireworks and dogs

Oh dear. It’s coming.

out the window

It’s the countdown to the big 4th of July celebration. To humans this means big fun: barbecues, friends and – the best part – fireworks!

And to dogs?¬†It’s the countdown to RANDOM AND UNEXPLAINED EXPLOSIONS from outside.

whitney

We get a lot of calls around this time of year from worried owners about fireworks. I hear the same stories:

“My dog races around the house and hides in the bathtub.”

“She just goes crazy – and I can’t do anything to console her.”

“I tried getting sedatives but it only made it worse.”

Many of them who live near big celebratory areas want to board their dogs with us until the smoke clears.¬†(And you can too! But I’d recommend you request your reservation now – we book up quickly.)

Since we’ve confronted this question so many times (and I’ve had the problem myself with my hyper-sensitive German Shepherd), here are a few tips on what you can do to make the fireworks seasons a little less stressful on you and your dog.

I want to say upfront though – there’s no guarantee that anything works 100% of the time. But these tips are worth trying and – depending on your particular dog and what she responds to – you might just find the magic bullet that really works for you.

pug fireworks

Sorry sweetie. I didn’t mean to say bullet!

1. Don’t baby them through it.

Contrary to what seems the most natural thing to do – hold your scared dog tight and speak softly and pet them – don’t do this! The extra coddling reinforces to them that SOMETHING IS VERY WRONG and, yes, they do NEED TO BE VERY AFRAID. Why else is mom or dad acting so concerned?

2. Act as if everything is normal.

You know how Cesar Milan says to use “calm, assertive” energy? It totally works. Your dog is very sensitive to how you feel. So make sure, even if you are freaking out a bit, keep yourself calm and act naturally to show your dog nothing is wrong. I have trouble with this all the time with my dog, who is leash aggressive. But every time an off-leash dogs comes running up, I take a deep breath and talk to both dogs with a calm, normal voice – and it does really help not escalate the situation.

3. Close the doors and windows and turn up the radio.

Drowning out (or at least lessening) the firework noise can take your dog down from Level 10 Freak out to a more manageable Level 6.

4. Let them cope how they choose.

If your dog likes to hide under the bed, jump into the bathtub, or wedge themselves behind the couch – LET THEM. If they go into their crate, leave the door open in case they want to run somewhere else. One of the saddest things I’ve heard owners doing is locking their dog in a crate while they go out and the dog chews her way out in a panic. (My dog has broken all her canine teeth in half from doing this before I adopted her.)

5. Do a medication practice run.

There are several things your vet can prescribe as sedatives but please always try dosing your dog prior to the big day. You never know when a med is going to make your dog feel weird and therefore, react more frenetically to stress. It’s important to remember that they don’t understand when they feel different and sometimes it scares them.

6. Over the counter sedatives.

Dogs can usually take the supplement  melatonin or the allergy medication Benadryl (diphenhydramine) safely and it helps them become a little sleepy and more relaxed. Consult your veterinarian for dosages and if your dog is okay to try it. (And again, try it on a calm day first to see how your dog reacts.)

7. Tire them out first.

A big, long hike or run right before showtime can really help take the edge off anxiety.

8. Distract them.

Use toys, food, smells – anything your dog typically responds to – to calm them during the height of their freak out. Dogs are in the moment so if you become a BIGGER MOMENT than the firework noise, they’ll relax.

9. Keep them inside.

So many dogs will try to escape and bolt once the noise kicks in. Make sure your dog is in the house, safe and secure. And microchips are always a great idea in case they do run off – at least you’ll have another hope of them being returned to you.

10. The leash umbilical cord.

Some dogs respond to being on their leash, “connected” to their owners. It works for some people to tie the leash to their belt loop and let their dogs walk around with them while they go about their normal business.

Your veterinarian may have some more tips for you. Don’t give up – with a little preparation and thought, you can get through the holiday even with the most anxious of dogs.

And – of course – we always have a nice, quiet refuge at WOOF if need be.

family stays XOXO and be safe out there!

Vickie Jean @ WOOF

01Apr/13

Dog on-the-job training

We take our roles as guardians to your dogs very seriously. Our priorities stay steadfast:

* Be safe

* Play hard

* Have fun

However, we would be remiss if we didn’t also teach one of life’s most important lessons:

* Have marketable skills

receptionist

Sure, the economy is slowly improving. But things aren’t the way they used to be. Every penny counts. And we figure, since you’ve invested in WOOF as clients, we want to invest in your financial future.

It’s time to put our dogs to work.

Who couldn’t use an extra income? And don’t let these dogs fool you – they are quite capable.

So we brought everyone together and explained the WOOF Dog Training Program. Every dog took an intensive job profile personality test. Sure, there were some eye rolls. And sure, we had to repeat ourselves several times to those who lost focus when a ball flew by.

But overall, we are off to a very promising start.

handyman

(Handyman training)

It is probably not surprising that many of our trainees gravitated toward food and hospitality.

Travis, for example, volunteered to be a Taste Tester.

taste tester

Pig ears? Bully sticks? Bully sticks? Pig ears?

He described an alluring gamey/piquant quality of the pig ear. Good information because they both smell equally disgusting to us. Thanks Travis!

Some dogs tested more on the artistic, creative level. More left-brained, more emotional. Fiercely fashion-conscious.

artist

Sadie, La Artiste

buyer

A future in retail?

cruise director

Party Planner

cruise director and guest

Party Planner, plus Socialite

stylist

Stylist to the stars

Other dogs really just wanted a good, old-fashioned trade. They are not afraid of getting a little dirty, getting up a little early, and seemed to respond to wearing uniforms.

valet

Dog Valet

valet in full uniform

Whoops, forgot the hat

valet safety coordinator

Dog Valet Safety Coordinator

Other dogs seemed to really value being a leader. They weren’t afraid to rattle a few cages, be large-and-in-charge. (To be honest, they were a bit power-hungry.)

Jake jumped at the chance to become Human Resources Director. He sat Dog Handler Frankie down for her annual review.

human resources director 1

He didn’t mince words

human resources director 3

It was pretty intense

human resources director

NEXT?

Unfortunately, not everyone took their training seriously. Olive, for example, refused to do anything that was too mentally or physically taxing. She stuck to her strongest skill:

office gossip

Total Office Gossip

Oh well.

Interestingly enough, there was one job that every dog was perfectly suited to do.

counselor

Mental Health Counselor

It doesn’t pay that much but the benefits are immense.

xoxo,

Vickie Jean @ WOOF

06Mar/13

New dogs at WOOF

Each WOOF client has been through what we call the¬†“doggie interview“.

The White House Debuts The Obamas' New Dog Bo, A Portuguese Water Dog

You found us, came in for the first time, got the tour, and dropped your dog off.

Luckily, we both had the same goal: that you could go about your day resting easy and your dog would love being at WOOF! That while you work or vacation, he or she would have a safe, rewarding experience playing with other dogs.

We¬†know it was hard –¬†essentially leaving your baby with strangers. Walking out that door can be scary. We know how much trust that takes.

And we work very hard to keep it!

meet your handler

Although we have viewing windows, and we try to keep you in the loop of how your dog does, we realize that nothing can replace seeing things for yourself.

So in order to give you the full picture we thought we’d share some real pictures¬†from a recent REAL LIFE DOGGIE INTERVIEW at WOOF.

Meet sweet little Rocky.

rocky

Rocky is a French Bulldog puppy.

rocky meet handler

Look, he’s still teething!

He is seriously little and came onto this earth a mere few months ago. As a puppy, he has no idea how to politely interact with the other dogs. Puppies charge, mouth and wrestle first Рand ask questions later.

So keeping him safe – but letting him learn, make friends and have fun – was (and always is) our mission.

rocky and vickie

(That’s me making my “widdle¬†iddy biddy puppy” face.)

Safely introducing Rocky into group was¬†relatively easy¬†–¬†with a few precautions we have perfected over the years. The first thing we do is let the dogs smell him through the chute. Nor surprisingly, Rocky had no fear and was ready to go.

Everyone else was excited to meet him too.

toy window

everybody is happy

dog with handlers leg

To protect Rocky from his own devil-may-care puppy-tude, we thinned out the group so he could check out the surroundings without being bombarded by dogs (or bombarding dogs, as puppies are known to do!)

rocky inspection

He smelled the K9 Grass. So many smells to smell.

rocky here is the water

We showed him where to get a drink. So much water to drink.

We supervised the introductions. So many dogs to meet.

rocky and friend

rocky and another friend

Rocky did great. He played and played and then – as puppies are also known to do – his little puppy eyes began to flutter and his little puppy body began to droop.

rocky considers

He had fun! He was safe! We tired him out! Mission accomplished!

Needless to say, Rocky passed his doggie interview.¬†He¬†continues to be a spirited member of Little Dog Playland and the socialization he’s receiving now will prepare him for many years of being a well-adjusted member of the canine community at large.

Bigger dog running at me? No problem.

Little dog pinning me down and smelling my butt? Okay.

Having to share this bowl of water? Whatevs.

So hey WOOF doggies, young and old: wherever you go, know that we are always behind you.

pup

xoxoxo,

Vickie Jean @ WOOF

 

 

28Dec/12

Sparkly Hat Alert

The busy holiday season is ALMOST over at WOOF and we are happy to say we have enjoyed every minute caring for your babies!

There was ball time with festive winter coats.

ball time coat

(Lookin’ good, Apollo!)

There was kissing and cuddling by the fireplace.

cuddling and kisses

And sometimes there was a combination of both!

cuddle ball time combo

But even though we were quite busy caring for all these little holiday angels, we had tome for some good, old-fashioned tom foolery.

Of course, in the form of hats.

One Walgreens silver-sequined Santa Hat later, and the rest was WOOF Christmas history.

Enjoy our greatest hits:

 AileyAiley!

Beckham

Beckham!

Buster

Buster!

Dakota

Dakota!

Denali

Oh, Denali.

Dukee

Dukee!

Ellie Mae & Fletcher

Ellie Mae and Fletcher!

Ginger

Sweet ol’ Ginger!

Logan

Logan!

Princess

Ah, the Princess

So until next year, we promise to restrain ourselves from accessorizing your dogs while they are in our care.

Or will we?

vickie hat

pancho hat

xoxo,

Vickie Jean @ WOOF