Thursday, October 5, 2017

House Hunting and Moving With Your Dog

Photo via Pixabay
Finding a new place to live when you have a dog can be quite an undertaking. It's definitely doable, but requires some  work. And moving is stressful, no matter when or how you do it. 

Moving with a dog can certainly add to the day's hassles but a little preparation can make the transition a little more smoother. 

Here is a guest post from Bernie The Boxer filled with tips on finding a home and prepping for moving day!

Your lovable, tail-wagging, slobbery dog might not look like a human, but she’s a member of your family. 

Until you perfect your Doggese, you’ll have to do your best anticipating her needs when house hunting, and especially on moving day itself.

Here are some tips for what to look for in a new home and how to keep your dog calm on moving day:

When Home Hunting:

1. Check Local Ordinances

When mulling the purchase of a potential home, get acquainted with county and city ordinances and regulations that guard the health and safety of pets and humans alike. Typically, under threat of a fine, they will require you to keep your dog on a leash and to clean up after your furry pal in public areas.

Fortunately, it’s becoming standard for communities to create and maintain pet-friendly parks. Check with your local parks and recreation department for information on where pet playgrounds and parks are located in the neighborhood of a potential home.

2. Find Out HOA or Apartment Building Rules

A house with a backyard is the ideal layout for a dog, but when an apartment or townhouse is what fits the budget, you make do. When the latter is the option, check the condo board or townhouse rules regarding pets. FYI: Homeowners associations (HOAs) usually dictate the rules and bylaws for what is tolerated and required of the animal.

3. Consider the Home Layout

Check the layout of the properties you evaluate and think about creature comforts inside and outside the house or apartment. Will your dog have enough yard or living room space? Would tiled floors or carpeting be better for your animal? Consider the difficulties that may arise in the future. Today, your spry puppy dog may have no problem climbing stairs but as the years go by, she might not be able to. Take her age and health status into account. 

Inspect the outside of the property as well. Is there proper fencing of the yard? Is there space for a dog house? Will the neighbor’s dogs be a problem? These are all questions you should find answers for before moving forward with purchasing the house.

How to Prepare for Moving Day:

Dogs are sensitive to changes in their routine or environment, so as you prepare to move, make sure you’ve given a lot of thought to how the dog will be treated before and during your move to your new home.

Follow these guidelines for stress-free results:

Before the Move

If you have a puppy, make sure the new home is puppy-proofed before it arrives. The last thing you want is chew marks on your new furniture, or it trampling on your new garden’s flowers. With a clean bill of health, per the veterinarian, work on sticking to the dog’s routine as much as possible before moving. Consider finding a pet sitter (friend or hired) to take in your dog while you move for a moving day with few dog-related hassles.

During the Move

On moving day, make sure you have taken your dog out for an extra-long walk so that she is more tired than usual. This will help reduce her anxiety level when she is transported to the new home. Once you reach the place, keep your dog in a reserved room for her as you move forward with the unpacking. Keep familiar treats and toys near her at all times so that she is reminded of your old home’s scents.

Let a day or two go by until you feel she is ready to explore your new digs. If she is adjusting well to the new space, then congratulations! You’ve found a home that she can live in with apparent canine contentment. What a treat for her and your family. 

Click here to learn more about Bernie The Boxer!

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Benefits of Companion Animals for Assisted Living Residents

It’s important for people to continue to share bonds with animals as they enter their golden years. For over thirty years, cats and dogs have been an integral part of Sunrise Senior Living communities, allowing seniors to maintain the comfort and companionship of a pet. Community animals encourage residents to stay physically active, promote socialization and even offer health benefits.

Residents decide how involved they want to be. Many take turns sharing walking, feeding and play time responsibilities with fellow residents, and in some communities, residents become the official dog walkers. Pets help make socializing easier for residents — they promote interaction with other people by helping them leave their rooms or homes.

Besides providing comfort and companionship, community animals also offer health benefits. Studies have shown that pets provide benefits including: lower blood pressure; lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as healthier heart rates; increased physical activity that helps promote healthier joints and flexibility; reduced stress levels. Even talking or cuddling with a pet helps ease chronic pain from arthritis or migraines. In fact, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, seniors with companion animals are more active, cope better with stress and are healthier overall than their pet-less counterparts.

Monday, August 7, 2017

We Love You Hayley Girl

Our sweet Hayley girl
We lost our Hayley girl yesterday.

Many of you know the trials that Hayley has gone through over the years: her diabetes diagnosis, Cushing's disease, canine blindness. She also had a severe hypoglycemic attack a few months ago and extreme pancreatitis two years before that.

Each time we were warned that her prognosis was not good and she may never come out of the hospital. Each time, we worried and prayed, and each time, she recovered.

She was the amazing Hayley, and literally nothing would keep her down. She would come home with her energy renewed and right back to her old self, lapping up her food with delight. Even after she lost most of her teeth, she still loved her food. Always in a happy mood, always running around in a quick pace, Hayley was the literal example of living life to its fullest.

At the park
This past spring sporting new products for the shop

This time everything was different. She started displaying neurological symptoms and all signs pointed to a brain tumor. And still, she tried her absolute best to push through and eat and walk, and there came a point when we had to let her go because Hayley, the incredibly strong and incredibly sweet girl deserved to be happy again and pain free.

I can't begin to explain how empty the house feels without her. Django is acting quite sullen and slightly nervous. She knows something is just not quite right.

Django stayed by her side...

for the last few days

All of you who have ever cared for a senior or a chronically dog knows how much work goes into their daily routine. For three years, I have given her twice daily insulin injections, oral medication, and special meals (with her always storing a kibble or two in her cheek for late night snacks!). We have put her out in the yard countless times a day carefully watching so didn't get hurt since losing her sight, cleaning up after her potty accidents indoors. The past few months she even sported doggie diapers —  rather proudly I might add — nothing got Hayley down!

Hayley girl was with us for 11 years. We adopted her from a North Shore Adoption van that conveniently parked outside our building in 2003. She was matted, not potty trained (although she was 3 or 4 years old), and was completely afraid of everything and everyone. She has an inch long scar at the top of her head and I shudder to think of what she lived through before we found her. In the beginning, we couldn't even scratch our heads without her screeching in fear thinking we were going to hit her.  She locked eyes with Kate inside that van and that was the start of our lives together. She and Kate had an unbreakable, sustaining bond, and I know they always will.

Being a clown

Hayley valued her sleep time!

This past weekend, we spoiled her with everything we could, special meals, stroking and cuddling sessions, and tons of love. I had a conversation with her last week and told her she had been a very good girl and it was OK, she could go, she had done so well here with us but it was time for her to be free.

Making this decision was the most difficult one I have ever had to make but I know it was the right thing to do for her.

I told the kids how there would be a point when we would get a sign from her telling us she was OK. I don't know when but I firmly believe it will happen, and maybe it already has. We got two small and funny indications yesterday. We stayed with her until the very end and the vet gave us some time with her afterwards. I wrapped her in the blankie, gave her a final kiss and moved her head toward the side, and then I noticed one solitary kibble that fell out of her mouth (even at the end she took one for the road!). Later on in the day, we noticed a small puddle in the dining room, a place we had walked by several times earlier that day. but not noticed.... one last and final 'gift' from Hayley! Is that a sign from her that she's OK up there, and happy? I can't say for sure but I do know bigger signs will come.

In the meantime, I hope she is running around up there, super fast the way she did years ago, with full sight and strong legs, no pain and no constraints. I hope she is eating everything that there is — and has a full set of teeth to chomp down with. As I sat in the vet office yesterday, I told my late uncle Richard yesterday to be waiting, ready to catch her, and I know he would.

The pain runs so deep that we almost question ever getting another dog. But then we consider how these beautiful furry beings will be here on earth anyway, so if we can help them live a good life and take care of them while they are here, it is not only our duty but an incredible privilege. Living with Hayley was an absolute privilege. She taught us so much about strength and unbreakable love.

Thank you to all of you who got to know her. While we are heartbroken, we are relieved that she is now pain free in heaven.

We love you Hayley girl — be free and fly high!

Best friends forever



Beautiful Hayley

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Discovering A Lump On Your Pup

Django knows something is up
My daughter, Kate is an animal whisperer. Every since she was little she has always intuitively known when something was wrong with one of our pets. She always knows when Hayley's blood sugar is dipping low and she can use a snack. She knew when our Lily was feeling ill. She even knows when one of the dogs has to use the yard. 

So, of course it was Kate who discovered a smallish, golfball sized lump on Django's neck. It isn't exactly the top of her neck as much as it is the side, close to her eft shoulder.

All the times that Django sprawls all over me on the couch and I pet her, I never noticed it. Kate asked me to feel and I immediately felt a sense of dread. No one wants to find a lump on their dog ... ever.

She gets more nervous before the exam
The writer and researched in me immediately ran to Google and I read all about how lipomas (fatty tumors) are very common on dogs, especially once they hit a certain age. Django is 6, far from elderly, but still no spring chicken. Even before I Googled it, I was hoping it was a lipoma. Lipomas are innocent and don't even necessarily need to be removed as long as they don't bother the dog.

Django gripped the edges of the table 
We went the vet yesterday who said while he didn't like where it was (near a lymph node), he didn't think it was anything to worry about but he wanted to do a biopsy right then and there to make sure. He felt all her other lymph nodes and noticed nothing out of the ordinary. She is in no noticeable pain, the lump is palpable and it moves, isn't attached to the bone or muscle — all good signs.

The doctor stuck a needle straight into Django's lump and swished it back and forth, in and out to collect enough cells to confirm a diagnose. A stoic Django didn't even move or make a peep, despite panting and whining for about a half hour prior to that as we sat in the waiting room.

The vet said the cells looked meatier than he expected, which I did not want to hear, but said it could also be a cyst. He did not want to give her any shots just in case something came back wrong, explaining he did not want to stress her immune system in that circumstance.

Gradually she began calming down and you can bet that she ran straight out of the office on the way home, and enjoyed a good and long sleep in the afternoon!
I am less stressed than I expect for one simple reason: I cannot fathom anything happening to my sweet Django and I think I am intentionally choosing to put a positive spin on this situation. 

The vet says he will let me know by Tuesday or Wednesday the latest. Until then, I am trying my best to maintain a level headed least that's what I'm telling myself!


Django's lump is ALL CLEAR! It's a lipoma (fatty tumor), completely benign and doesn't even need to be removed! Thank you all SO MUCH for all your good wishes and kind messages! It means so much to us! We are so happy that our Djangy is healthy!