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

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Django Looking For Spring

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! 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Snacktime: New Milk-Bone Farmer's Medley Dog Biscuits

I've always given my dogs treats. Usually it's an occasional thing, like when Django just will not come in because she's trying to get the attention of the cat next door. I taught her early on to always come when I say 'Get in" and she always does, no matter how excited or insane she is with the cat outside. That deserves a treat because I always want to reward her for important things and coming when I call her is a safety issue.

However, as many of you know, Django is now our model for our shop, BKLYN Handmade. Several times week, she models dog snoods and scarves, and she does so quite happily. I put the snood over her head and she runs right up to the stairs in the yard, takes a seat and looks incredibly cute while I snap photos.

She models in all kinds of weather and is so obedient and compliant, and I am so lucky she is — plus she looks imply adorable! So after every single photo shoot, I give her a treat or two.

Since it's become such a regular occurrence, I wanted to make sure that what I was giving her is healthy. I recently partnered with Milk-Bone to try out their new Farmer's Medley dog treats. They are full of great ingredients! Below are some of the questions I think about before I buy treats for my dog.

Will my dog like them?
They contain real meat and vegetables which Django loves and even though she is a picky eater at times, she very eagerly consumes bite-sized cute biscuits.

Does this treat have quality ingredients?
Milk-Bone's Farmer's Medley treats contain simple ingredients, so I can rest assured that I am giving the best product to Django. The treats are made with real US-sourced beef, chicken, turkey, or lamb and vegetables. And I am excited about the grain-free options (though Django loves the whole-grain treats, too)! I feel good about feeding these biscuits to my dog everyday.

Does it fit my budget?
Many quality dog treats can be pricey and can have you guessing if your choice was worth the big bucks.  Milk-Bone Farmer's Medley dog treats provide the same quality ingredients found in premium dog biscuits, but at an affordable price. So you don't have to worry about breaking the bank by spending a lot on premium treat options for your dog.

I would love to hear how many times you give your dogs treats, and how you go about selecting which treats to buy in the comments below.

To learn more about Milk-Bone Farmer's Medley dog treats (and where you can find them near you), head over to .