Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Hikes with Dogs are Good for the Body and Soul

Sammi romping through the woods,
with Franki close behind.
The arrival of Fall brings cooler weather and beautiful Autumn colors.  If the heat of summer kept you inside in the air conditioning, it's time to get outside, get moving, and enjoy the season!  Having larger dogs, I tend to stay active all year round, for their benefit as well as mine. We're lucky, I suppose, because the woods are just outside the back gate and the dogs are always ready, willing, and able to go roaming and romping through the trees.

Hiking with dogs is the perfect way to spend time together, as well as getting the exercise that we all need to stay healthy. And, as I've experienced, hikes with dogs are good for the body AND the soul. Nothing makes me happier than watching them enjoying the freedom to run, sniff and dig. It doesn't matter how many times we hike the same trails, they are always excited and eager. It's always new and wonderful.

Cookie trots down the middle of this 
small stream in the woods.
Late last winter, we ended up wandering in a different direction than usual and came across a lovely, quiet spot with a small stream rippling through the trees. The dogs immediately began splashing around, drinking the cold, clear water, and cooling their warm bellies. 

Having a new place to explore, they were noticeably excited, even more than usual, and began running through the trees, their noses to the ground.  I sat down on a large rock next to the stream to watch them, knowing they wouldn't go far and would come back to check on me every couple of minutes.  Except for Shasta, the old, white hound, they don't need to be leashed in our woods.  They are the epitome of pack animals and never wander too far away from me.

Franki takes a drink while cooling her 
belly in the cold mountain stream.
Being the youngest, Franki tends to wander farther and faster than the others, but sooner or later, I hear the jingle bells attached to her collar and know she's on her way back to rejoin us and cool off for a bit in the water, before taking off again to explore some more.

Despite being nearly 11-years-old, Cookie is usually right behind Franki, not wanting to miss anything exciting. Sometimes I hear them barking frantically, as they tree a squirrel or some other wild critter.  On rare occasions, they catch a deer or rabbit unaware and I can hear them chasing the poor creature through the forest; except for Franki, however, the dogs are too old to be interested in long chases, and Franki's arthritic knee and strong attachment to me prevent her from running for too long.  I call for her two or three times and within a few minutes, I hear the leaves crunching, her bells jingling, and soon she comes running up, her tongue lolling and chest heaving from the excitement and effort of her race.

Cookie and Franki, facing off. 
More often than not, her excitement spreads to Cookie, who promptly engages her in a bit of wrestling and play biting until they're both ready for a short rest and a cool drink.

Andie and Sammi (and poor Shasta, who is limited by her leash) tend to stick closer by me during our hikes, although they, too, take advantage of the freedom to run, roam and sniff.  But Shasta and I are rarely left alone.  Even when Cookie and Franki are out wandering and exploring, Sammi and Andie are never far away and usually within sight, or are sitting or standing nearby, enjoying the quiet, eating shoots of green sprouting from the rotting leaves, listening for Cookie and Franki, or just sniffing the air.

Even in late winter, Andie enjoys the 
cold water as she waits for 
Cookie and Franki's return.
The dogs and I are very fortunate to have access to woods and trails where it's safe for them to roam and wander, and where we can all enjoy the fresh air while we exercise. But even if you don't have walking or hiking trails as close as we do, more and more dog parks and dog-friendly trails are opening up or are already available across the country.

Even if you have to travel a bit to get there, the benefits of exercising with your dogs are many:  stress-reduction, weight loss, disease prevention, and just plain ol' fun and enjoyment are all good reasons to bond with your dog while you walk, run, hike, swim, or play fetch.  There are many resources available to help you find dog-friendly trails and parks.  Use your favorite search engine or contact your local chamber of commerce for ideas.

Happy Sammi
(and Shasta, up in the right corner)

Ever wonder where you'd end up if you took your dog for a walk and never once pulled back on the leash? 
~Robert Brault

Monday, June 23, 2014

Black Dogs with Blue Eyes are Amazing

Franki ... a black dog with amazing blue eyes.
I get so many comments about my beautiful Franki.  Black dogs with blue eyes are amazing to look at, and she is also such a beautiful spirit. She loves people and has a very sweet personality.  She's also a bit of a goof and likes to clown around.

There are several breeds of dogs that often have blue eyes:  Alaskan and Siberian Huskies, Australian Shepherds, Alaskan Malamutes, Border Collies, Catahoula Leopard Dogs, and Dalmatians are the most likely to have blue eyes. Since I started this blog and also from the videos I've posted of Franki on YouTube, I've heard from several people who have black lab mixes with blue eyes.  So Franki isn't absolutely unique, but she is rare.  Most blue-eyed dogs are white or are multi-colored or merle.
On the Move!

I never tire of taking photos of Franki, although with the stark contrast between her black fur and light blue eyes, sometimes it's difficult to capture good shots of her. Plus, if she's outside, she's usually on the move.

Soon after adopting Franki, I noticed she had a limp.  It's only noticeable when she's walking, and if you saw her running around the front yard or out in the woods, you'd never know she has a bum leg. X-rays revealed that she has rather significant arthritis in her back right knee. Our vet believes it's most likely due to getting hit by a car when she was a puppy and not getting proper veterinary care for the injury. Franki was rescued when she was barely a year old and was often seen limping around a rural community, alone and hungry.

Since she was injured so young, she has obviously adapted well to the somewhat limited use of her leg.  I give her a joint supplement, and the occasional anti-inflammatory when she seems especially stiff, but she is otherwise very happy, very active and very healthy.

Taunting Ripley into a Chase

With her boundless energy, Franki is one of those dogs who enjoys sprinting around the yard at top speed, hoping one of the other dogs will chase her.  She often taunts the other dogs by grabbing a toy and dangling it just out of their reach.  When they try to take it from her, off she goes!

If we're on a hike in the woods, it's almost impossible to get a good picture of her.  Franki has a bit of a wild streak and runs through the woods like a deer. She's graceful, sleek, and very fast.  And, as you can see in this photo, she usually looks a bit crazy as her ears are caught in the wind as she runs, her eyes wide with the excitement of being out in the wild.


Did you know that black dogs are the least likely to be adopted from rescues and shelters?  It's referred to as "Black Dog Syndrome" or "Black Dog Bias" by animal rescue workers.  For whatever reasons, some people have an unreasonable fear of black dogs (and other black animals).  But anyone who has ever lived with a black dog can attest to the fact that they are just as wonderful and loving as a dog of any other color. 

Photographer Fred Levy recently launched the Black Dogs Project, a photo series of black dogs against a dark background. Levy's photos are beautiful and truly capture the sweet nature of his subjects.  His project was recently the topic of a widely read article in the The Huffington Post, which you can read HERE

Franki Blue
His series doesn't feature any black dogs with blue eyes, but you can always come back here, where I'll be posting more photos of my blue-eyed wonder dog, Franki, in the near future.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Gift Ideas for Dad

My dad with my little brother and our
dog, Mugger, in 1971.
Whether you're looking for ideas for Father's Day, dad's birthday, or "just because," it seems that men are often much harder to shop for than women.  And if your dad is one of those guys who already "has everything" ... well, it's just that much harder to think of some unique gift ideas for dad.

Today, I'll try to help with a few ideas, whether your father is a dog-lover or not.

If your dad or someone else in the family is a camera bug, you may have a lot of old home movies, photographs, or slides sitting around.  If they're in VHS, film reel, prints, or slide form, you may be concerned that, over time, those memories will degrade or you may no longer have the equipment to even watch or view them anymore.  

In that case, you have a few options. You can buy a DVD recorder that will allow you to transfer VHS to DVD; you can take your photos, slides, video tapes or film reels to Walgreens, Walmart, or other photo service business and have them transferred to DVD; or you can use a service like and have your old movies and photos available both online and on DVD, if you choose.
My older brother, a puppy, and I in 1967.

When you place an order with YesVideo, you get:
  • A private, online account with unlimited video storage
  • Editing & trimming tools that make it easy to create custom DVDs
  • Free iPhone & iPad apps so you can access your movies anywhere
  • Online sharing via email & Facebook
Your videos will be online & your originals will be shipped back to you, usually within 14 business days, depending on the size of your order and the quality of the original medium.

124x124 YesVideo 20% Off Coupon Special
You can also order copies of the new digital video on DVD.  Until the end of 2014, Get 20% Off your entire first order by using Coupon Code: 20TR at

Another unique gift, perfect for Father's Day, or dad's birthday is the Jacob Bromwell Original Popcorn Popper.  Made in the U.S.A. for 195 years, this American classic pops corn over an open fire or kitchen stove top.  With just a bit of oil and some salt, you can create new family memories together, whether it's movie night or during summer camping trips.

The Bromwell high-quality popcorn popper's 3.5 quart capacity lets you evenly pop popcorn over an open fire, as well as a stove top (gas, wood, or electric).
  • Unlike microwave popcorn with low popping ratio, their popcorn popper features automatic steam venting and promises super fast and consistent popcorn every time.
  • Durable, non-electric, and fun for the entire family.
  • A wood handle keeps your hands cool.
  • Free instruction & recipe pamphlet included.
  • Built out of quality stainless steel and guaranteed not to rust.
  • Backed by Jacob Bromwell's 100% Lifetime Guarantee, so you can buy with confidence.
  • Still Made in the USA, even after all these years. Buy American and save jobs.

Original Popcorn Popper Original Popcorn Popper
Works over a campfire or the kitchen stove. You're not still making popcorn in the microwave, are you? Ahh, the sweet smell of freshly popped popcorn over the open fire. With the kiddos crunching and laughing away, there's no better way to bring family and friends together than the good ol' fashioned way. Our Original Popcorn Popper is a durable customer favorite, especially with families. Kids love watching the kernels magically transform into fluffy popcorn, whether it's used over an open fire or kitchen stovetop. You'll love knowing that it's still 100% made in America and now in its 195th year of production, having maintained its original design since it was given the gift of life in the early 1800s. So for movie night at home, or ghost stories around the campfire, make your popcorn the original way, with a bit of oil, a pinch of salt, and a dash of nostalgia.

Another great source for gifts for dad is Smoky Mountain Knife Works. Don't let the name mislead you.  They offer much more than just knives ... 
Winchester Camper's Kit
Winchester Camper's Kit

Smoky Mountain Knife Works carries Sporting Goods; Martial Arts and Self-Defense products; Movie Memorabilia; Collectibles; Kitchen items, including over 100 types of sauces, jams, honey, and relishes; Tactical gear; Hunting, Fishing, Camping, and Outdoor gear; Pocket Knives; Apparel and Accessories; Books and Video; Lighters; Flashlights; Fantasy items, and more.  

Their prices range from under $24.00 to $300 and up, so you're apt to find the perfect gift for the special man in your life.

*Disclaimer:  I may earn a small commission from any purchase you make through any of the links within this article or anywhere else on this blog.  Be assured, however, that my commission does not affect (increase) the prices you pay.*

Monday, April 21, 2014

Oh, How Time Flies! We Brought Franki Blue Eyes Home Two Years Ago.

Franki ... Just Chillin'
She was barely a year old when my rescue group, COLARS, took Franki in just over two years ago.  She was pregnant and had been abandoned next to a dumpster behind a closed-up, rural bar-and-grill.  A kind woman saw her and fed her for a couple of days until she learned about COLARS.  Just two days after rescuing her, Franki gave birth to three puppies.  After the pups were weaned and transferred to another rescue shelter for adoption, I went to visit her at her foster home.

At first, I hesitated about adopting her ... she was a bit wild and I was concerned that my older and partially disabled pooch, Ripley, might get hurt with such a rambunctious kid running around.  So I went home without her, knowing that our rescue group would be careful about placing her in a new home.  But I couldn't stop thinking about her.  Not just because she was beautiful and unique-looking with those crystal blue eyes ... there was something special about Franki beyond her outward appearance.  Even though she was unfocused and hyperactive during my visit with her, something kept tugging at my heart.

Franki and Ripley, August 2012.
Cooling off after a hike in the woods.
Two days later, I went back to her foster home and told her foster mom that I'd like to take Franki back to my house for a few hours to see how she'd do with my five dogs.  I introduced her to them, one-by-one, in the front yard, waiting until both dogs had enough time to sniff each other out and calm down enough to get acquainted. Since Ripley was the oldest and most dominant dog, I introduced Franki to her first. Despite being very excited, Franki seemed to understand that Ripley's physical body was fragile and she kept a respectful distance.

Things continued to go well, and despite feeling cautious about a new, younger and very active dog trespassing on their turf, my dogs were generally accepting of Franki running around the yard.  I was still unsure about whether this would be a good fit for everyone; but after watching Franki and the rest of the pack for a while outside, I decided to take her inside to see how she acted indoors.

Morning Playtime, November 2012
Franki and Andie
I was more than surprised. The instant Franki entered the house, she calmed down.  I had expected her to become overly excited about being in another new environment, but she seemed to know intuitively that acting like a wild dog inside was unacceptable.  I wondered if she had cued into the other dogs' relative calm and realized that this is how she was also expected to behave.

Waiting for a Birthday Treat
To make a long story short, as the saying goes, I never took Franki back to her foster home. This was her new, forever home.  She's been a blessing; pure joy! ... mixed with some occasional naughtiness, of course ... she's still a kid, after all.

Although I don't know her actual birth day, I decided that her homecoming date, would also be her birthday.  So, yesterday, we celebrated Franki's third birthday and her second year of being Home. 

Sammi, Cookie, Andie and Franki
As a special treat, I shared some of my mother's homemade, world famous chocolate chip oatmeal cookies with her and the rest of the gang ... the dogs got none of the chocolate, of course; just the bites around the chips.  

"I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive." ~Gilda Radner

Friday, April 18, 2014

Mother's Day Gift Ideas for Under $30

Beagle Bobble Head
Beagle Bobble Head
Mother's Day is just around the corner ... May 11th ... so you are likely thinking about getting your mother something special this year. But maybe you don't have a lot to spend.

No worries!  If your mom is a dog (or cat) lover, I've happened upon an online store called the, that has some really great dog- (and cat) related Mother's Day gift ideas for under $30. Not only for Mom's day, of course.  Any time you need a gift for someone who loves their dog or cat, you're likely to find the perfect gift.  They have everything from bobble-heads, like the adorable Beagle pictured to the left, to iPhone covers, calendars, wind chimes, puzzles, bumper stickers, umbrellas, dog toys, leash hooks, stationery, magnets, coffee and travel mugs, sleep shirts, socks, doormats, wall art and signs, frames, leashes ... pretty much any kind of gift you're looking for, most under $30. Free shipping starts at only $25.00; otherwise, standard shipping is a flat rate $5.00.

Beagle Bobble Head Beagle Bobble Head
This adorable Beagle will wiggle his way into your heart. The wobbly-headed pup is made of high quality, hand painted resin and stands approximately 4.25" tall. Great for home, office, or dash! The perfect gift for any dog lover! Does not include adhesive.

Happy Sammi
My best boy, Sammi, a Beagle-mix, has made me rather partial to Beagles, so some of the ideas I'll share with you here today are Beagle-themed, but you'll find the has a large variety of breeds to choose from: Australian Shepherds, Basset Hounds, Boston Terriers, Border Collies, Labs, Boxers, Bulldogs, Pit Bulls, German Shepherds, Chihuahuas, Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, French Bulldogs, Golden Retrievers, Puggles, Poodles, Heelers, Doodles ... the list goes on.  

The store features plenty of more generic and general dog-themed gifts, and if you're partial to Rescues, they have some products that are rescue-themed, as well, including iPhone covers, an air freshener, and magnet.

Dog Wisdom Wall Sign
They have a very large assortment of decorative wall signs and plaques (over 100) that would make great gifts. All of the decorative wall plaques are made from a printed page that is encapsulated between a UV blocking sheet of vinyl and a 3/8 inch thick sheet of medium density fiberboard. They're finished off with a decorative beveled edge and a keyhole hanging system, so they're ready to hang in any room indoors, including bathrooms.

The wall plaques are among my favorites ... it's hard to choose ... but the Dog Wisdom, and Golden Retriever Conversation Quote wall signs, featured to the left and below, especially caught my eye.  Each one is priced at under $25.00.  If you'd like to purchase one, or take a closer look, just click on the caption/link under each photo.  You'll be taken to's website, where you can see every product they have available.   

Golden Retriever Conversation Quote Wall Sign

The gorgeous wall plaque to the right features a Golden Retriever, but the quote is something every dog lover can relate to: "No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as the dog does."  ~Christopher Morley

One of my favorite Beagle-themed gifts is the beautiful wall hanging below.  They also have them for German Shepherds and Golden Labs. They measure 12 inches x 12 inches, and are only $19.99.

I Heart My Beagle Wall Sign I Heart My Beagle Wall Sign
Decorative Plaques are a ready-to-hang version of printed art. We take the printed page and encapsulate it between a UV blocking sheet of vinyl and a 3/8 inch thick sheet of MDF wood. We then finish it off with a decorative beveled edge and a keyhole hanging system. Once finished, this decorative plaque can hang in any indoor environment—from kitchens and baths to man caves!

I've given you just a very small taste of what the has to offer.  Take a look for yourself ... you'll see that they have quality dog and cat-themed gifts at great prices.  And their shipping rates are so reasonable.  Even if you don't purchase the minimum to qualify for free shipping (only $25), standard shipping is a flat-rate $5.00. 

Please share the love by sharing this post on your Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest page, or in an email.  Just click any of the sharing options below.  The Pack says, Thanks!

*Disclaimer:  I may earn a small commission from any purchase you make through any of the links to within this article or anywhere else on this blog.  Be assured, however, that my commission does not affect (increase) the prices you pay.*

Friday, April 11, 2014

Dying Woman Desperate to Find a Home for Her Beloved Dog

Family photo, contributed to National Dog News Examiner
I first saw this article on Facebook along with a plea to share the information to help this woman find her sweet Pittie mix, Sherlock, a new, loving home. Anyone who loves their pets like family can understand her anguish at the idea of her dog being homeless after she is forced into hospice care or dies.

The article, Dying Woman Desperate to Find a Home for Her Beloved Dog, appears on and includes the following contact information for anyone who might be able adopt Sherlock or help find him a home in some other way:

Sherlock is in Fort Collins, Colorado, is fully vetted, and heartworm negative. Contact Jess for more information at: or phone 970-775-0797.

Sherlock's human guardian, Pat, has end-stage cancer and will soon be going into hospice. "Sherlock has basic obedience training and is housebroken. He loves people but has never been around young children. He loves long walks and cuddling on the couch. He is such a sweetheart. Sherlock would do best in a home with no other pets. A well mannered, sweetheart of a boy who can't comprehend that soon his human will be gone."

Can you help this woman fulfill her dying wish?  Please share this far and wide so that Sherlock can find a new forever home and loving family!

Update from the Saving Sherlock Facebook page:  "We found a wonderful local family for Sherlock, who we spoke with several times, we did reference checks and had scheduled a home visit for yesterday in the evening. We told Pat about this family several days ago and she was very excited to meet with them, especially since they want her to continue to be a part of Sherlocks life as long as she can. Pat was not feeling well yesterday and began having some difficulty with the thought of placing Sherlock. This is completely understandable and we all feel for her. The adoptive family is wonderful and very understanding of her situation. They said to me this morning "we don't want Pat to look at it like she is losing Sherlock, we want her to look at it like she is gaining a family". ... April 22, 2014

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Best Price for Bully Sticks

Bully sticks, bull pizzles, and steer sticks ... whatever you call them, they have perhaps become the most popular dog treats around.  Especially since all the bad press on treats from China, bully sticks have become THE trusted treat for dogs.  But they can be very expensive with price tags of $3.00 - 5.00 per stick being very common.  And if your dogs are anything like mine, even a single 6-inch, thick bully doesn't last longer than an hour or so.  

So where can you find the best price for bully sticks? Unless you can afford to buy in bulk at the wholesale level, the lowest prices for standard thickness, 6-inch bully sticks ranges from about $1.25 - $1.80 per stick.  One of the very best sources I've found online is  They specialize in bully sticks and offer a large variety of sizes and quantities.  The more you buy, the lower the price per stick.

Not all bully sticks are made in the U.S.A.  In fact, most of them are not.  Most likely, that's because the American beef industry isn't interested in the investment it would take to raise free-range, grass-fed cattle. Most bullies come from either Brazil or India, where there are more organic ranchers than in the United States.

Most of the bully sticks sold by come from free-ranging, grass-fed Brazilian cattle, none of which are fed hormones or antibiotics.  They are a single-ingredient treat with no added chemicals, coloring, preservatives, or flavorings.  They are USDA/FDA inspected and approved.

Some of the bullies sells are made in the U.S.A.; but from the research and looking around I've done, it's very difficult to find American-made dog treats that come from free-range, grass-fed cattle that have not been given hormones and/or antibiotics.  I prefer the bullies from Brazil because they are thicker and more uniform in size. The bullies from the U.S. are thinner, and I'm not 100% sure they are from organically-raised cattle (free-range and grass-fed; although they appear to be chemical-free).  All of the bully sticks sold by come from cattle raised with NO added chemicals, coloring, preservatives, or flavorings.  

Bull pizzles (basically, dehydrated bull penis) are "left overs" of the beef industry.  But as far as dogs are concerned, these "left overs" are one of the best-tasting things on Earth!

Sammi is always happy to "demonstrate"
the proper way to eat a bully stick.
Bully sticks become chewy when moistened by your dog's saliva and naturally help clean their teeth while providing dogs with a satisfying chew. They're a great way to reduce tartar build-up while satisfying your dog's instinct to chew.

They're a much better treat than rawhide:  bullies are easily digested, and won't break or splinter so are a safe and healthy treat for dogs. They're naturally high in protein and low in fat. ... It's just hard to find a better, longer-lasting treat for your canine!

These are the same bullies I give to my own dogs.  I trust and have had no problems giving these treats to my furkids.

*Disclaimer:  I may earn a small commission from any purchase you make through any of the links to within this article or anywhere else on this blog.  Be assured, however, that my commission does not affect (increase) the prices you pay.*