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Book Review: Things Your Dog Doesn’t Want You To Know

This blog started off as a diary to chronicle our adventures as we navigated our way through our first experiences fostering dogs.  We also wanted to get our foster dogs as much exposure as possible, so we talked about their personalities, quirks and funny habits.  Over the past year, our blog has morphed to include tips on dog training, social etiquette, and news about large-scale rescues.  And now we can add “book reviewer” to our résumé!

TLC Book Tours  is a virtual book tour website – not to be confused with the television network home of one Miss Honey Boo Boo. Over the summer, Trish Collins (the “T” in TLC Book Tours) contacted me about writing a review on our blog for a new book of short stories from a dog’s point of view. So wait a minute, I thought, you’re going to send me a free advanced copy of this book about dogs (!!) and all I have to do is tell my wonderful blog readers if I liked it?  Well score one for Foster Mom, because what Trish didn’t know about me was that in addition to being just a little bit dog crazy, I also happen to be a huge book nerd.  And books about dogs? Let’s just say, the last three books I read were A Dog’s Purpose, A Dog’s Journey, and The Art of Racing in the Rain.  Loved and highly recommend them all, by the way, but they are not the subject of this review…

Last month I finally got my paws (har) on the book in question, Things Your Dog Doesn’t Want You To Know by Hy Conrad and Jeff Johnson.  I already knew (by doing some advanced cyber-stalking research) the description of the book as listed on their website:

In this book, 11 courageous canines reveal the secrets they have kept for centuries.  A series of 115 short essays written by eleven different dogs who are willing to tell the truth — every last dirty, hairy, bit of it. Why they always dash to a rug when they have to throw up. Why they eat furniture when endless chew toys are nearby. And why they’re always absolutely starving.

Well that sounded promising.  As I started flipping through the book, I noticed that the pages were filled with bright graphics and adorable photos and doodles of our heroes and heroines depicting their adventures. Every page included an individual short essay by one of our eleven narrators.  Though “essay” seems to be the wrong word – these musings are written out in letter form, that might as well start with the words “Dear Human.” These dogs are, after all, breaking rank from their fellow canines and divulging the deepest of secrets to their guardians.  And I am so glad they did!

We’ve all wondered what our pups were thinking with an inquisitive head tilt or a guilty look. Well wonder no more, because it’s all here – “why do we eat grass, why do we circle, why do we bark?”  Each dog has their own personality and writing style as they discus everything from how they feel about dressing up in clothing to the circle of life.

You’ve got Moonbeam, who “accidentally” tricks her hippie Person into thinking her dead life coach is haunting their guest house.  There’s Sarge, the German Shepherd who just can’t seem to hold down a steady job until he finally learns to enjoy retirement.  Darling Sophie, an elderly Cocker Spaniel, spends her pages reflecting on all the special moments she and her Person experienced together as she nears the end of her life.  But far and away, my favorite narrator was Tinkerbell, the high maintenance Chihuahua with a Great Dane sized attitude and her own Facebook page.  Hilarious!

Now, for the negative…in the animal rescue world, we all know how essential it is to spread the importance of spay/neuter.  With four million dogs and cats put down every day (that’s one every 8 seconds), pet overpopulation is a huge problem.  While I chuckled at Bandana the Border Collie lamenting that after being left at the vet, he awoke to find that his favorite balls were gone, I didn’t care for the light tone the authors took with poor Gabby, a long-haired Dachshund who found herself knocked up by her first birthday, or with Rufus, the Bloodhound who tracked down a bitch in heat and had his way with her in a parked van. Those bits left me feeling a little icky. While I get that not everyone gets their dogs fixed, I would have liked to at least see the pet overpopulation theme addressed in the same approachable way the authors dealt with other serious topics in the book, like dogs being abandoned on the side of the road, and moving on after the death of a beloved pet.

The only other bummer for me was that there were no pit bulls represented among the narrators.  However, with the hundreds of breeds of dogs in the world and these authors only picking 11 of them to feature, I can hardly fault them for that.  Still, it would have been nice to see the hilarious antics of a pit bull portrayed from his or her own point of view. Maybe in a sequel?

All in all, would I recommend this book? YES. Any dog lover who can look past the “puppies having puppies”  parts and take this book for what it is – a lighthearted fun read that at times is laugh-out-loud funny – will surely enjoy this book.

Thank you, TLC Book Tours, for including our humble little blog on your virtual book tour for Things Your Dog Doesn’t Want You to Know. We loved the book, and we had a blast!

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the tour…

October 2nd: Peppermint PhD
October 3rd: 4 The Love of Animals
October 4th: Kritters Ramblings
October 8th: Mockingbird Hill Cottage
October 11th: notes from a dog walker
October 15th: The Written World
October 16th: Dog is God in Reverse
October 17th: Book Hooked Blog
October 18th: Book Dilettante
October 22nd: Our Waldo Bungie
October 23rd: Savvy Verse & Wit
October 24th: Something Wagging This Way Comes
October 25th: 24 Paws of Love
October 26th: A blog from the dog house…
October 29th: Dog Foster Mom
October 30th: Reading on a Rainy Day
October 31st: Rescued Insanity
November 1st: Books & Things
November 2nd: Mr. & Mrs. & Nola Kisses
November 5th: Proud Book Nerd
November 6th: Tiffany’s Bookshelf

Hey, don’t forget about this guy –  Cooper is running for president AND is available for adoption!  If you’d like to add Coop to your family or cast your vote for him, visit Agape Animal Rescue.



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Bean Town

Last week, Foster Dad & I took an extended Memorial Day trip out to Boston.  Though it’s always a bummer being away from the pups, we were excited to stick another pin in our travel map, do some sight-seeing and spend some time with friends and family who live out that way.

We made a stop at Fenway to catch a Red Sox game…

…and even made it out to Cape Cod to wriggle our toes in the sand and wade bravely into the ice cold Atlantic.

And what would a trip to the East Coast be without some fresh sea food?  Bought live and cooked at my sister’s place, these souls sacrificed their lives for our dinner and boy were they delicious.  I choose to believe they didn’t suffer.

Luckily we didn’t have to go too long without a four-legged furry friend fix, even if the stand-ins were feline. 

Poor Oscar, stuck in his cone, spent the week with friends, pouting that he couldn’t come with us.  At least he got to sleep on the bed!

Meanwhile, Molly Tamale and Cooper spent the week playing with all their buddies at Camp Bow Wow

Photo courtesy of Camp Bow Wow

Photo courtesy of Camp Bow Wow

This is yet another wonderful perk of fostering with Agape Animal Rescue – they make all the arrangements to take care of our foster dogs while we’re out-of-town, if we give them plenty of notice.  They’ll either arrange for them to stay temporarily with another family, or pay for their boarding.  Since it was a holiday weekend and lots of people in Agape’s network weren’t available, and since Molly and Coop go to Camp Bow Wow on occasion for day care anyway, we knew they’d be perfectly comfortable there. 

Photo courtesy of Camp Bow Wow

After a week away, Foster Dad and I were ready to get back to real life again.  And we couldn’t WAIT to be reunited with our fur-babies! 

It was a great little vacation, but everyone was happy to be home.



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Operation Sweethearts

If you follow us on Facebook, you may have seen me posting links to articles about a recent bust in Kentucky, that liberated close to 100 dogs from a life of unimaginable abuse and neglect.  Animal Rescue Corps had been working for months off of tips, gathering enough information to serve a seizure warrant on the property, which had been opearating under the guise of a “rescue organization.” 

On Valentine’s Day of this year, these dogs finally were able to start their new life.  They were taken from the property to an emergency shelter here in Nashville.  They were groomed, vetted, fed, and loved.  Last weekend, the majority of them were placed into foster homes with local rescue organizations – and wouldn’t you just know that our super awesome rescue was one of them?  They jumped up to the plate and volunteered to take not three, not ten, but seventeen of the these sweet babies! 

**WARNING** video contains some graphic content.

So now, without further ado, I’m thrilled to formally introduce you to a handful of the newest members of the Agape family:

Don’t you just wanna smooch and love on all of their little faces??  There are five more dogs that we don’t have pictures of at this time, but all of them will be on the Adoptable Pets page of Agape’s website once they are socialized and healthy enough to begin looking for their furever homes. 

As you can probably imagine, some of these dogs are going to need some very expensive care in the near future, to get them into tip-top adoptable shape.  Many of them needs medications, treatment for broken bones or bite wounds, and some are even going to need surgery. If you can sacrifice one morning latte this week, even $5 would help towards putting a dent in some of the medical bills that Agape has taken on with these Sweethearts.  If you would like to  donate, or sponsor one of these dogs, you can do so here: Agape Animal Rescue Wish List.

So WELCOME to the Agape Family, Sweethearts!  You’re safe now, the worst is behind you – and the best is yet to come.



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To Knox

Today we’re dedicating the blog to Knox – a loyal foster brother, a devoted friend, and an amazing ambassadog for all pit bulls.  On Friday, our friends over at Pittieful Love made the heartbreakingly impossible decision to end Knox’s suffering, after an unexpected illness took over his body in a matter of weeks. 

We never had the honor of meeting Knox in person, but his People’s beautifully written stories about him and his foster siblings made Knox a popular guy in the foster blogosphere.  His stunning good looks may have been a factor, as well.

To Jess and Brian – I know that there are no words that can take away the pain you’re feeling right now.  But I know that Knox will be waiting at the door for you on the Other Side when you’re ready to greet him again.  And boy will his tail be waggin’ when he sees you!

And to Knox…Thank you for making the world a better place while you were here.  In your memory, we’ll all continue to carry on your message of love and acceptance.  You will be missed, and forever in our hearts.

“What we have once enjoyed, we can never lose;
All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.”
Helen Keller (pit bull owner)


In lieu of comments here, please consider stopping by and leaving some encouraging words for Pittieful Love.  All these beautiful photos are from their blog.



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Happy Birthday, Oscar!

Our little boy is growing up so fast!  Today he turns two – well, today is the day we picked anyway.  When we adopted Oscar at the beginning of April 2010, the shelter said he was about 8 weeks old.  We counted back and picked February 1st as his birthday.  Since we have unfortunately completely dropped the ball on any kind of official celebration, we wanted to share some pictures from last year, his first birthday.  OK, we went a little overboard, but your first dog only turns 1 once!

You might recognize the hat from another recent birthday celebration – yes, we recycle.  We got the cake from an awesome doggie bakery here in Nashville, See Spot Eat.  They’re locally owned (yea!) and use all natural ingredients, organic when available.  Their treats and cakes are all human quality edible, and as you can see – the dogs love ’em!  Oscar invited his buddy Dexter over to share his cake, and even got a bear to un-stuff.  It was a good day.

Happy Birthday, Oscar!  We love you!



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In Memoriam

I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
~Alfred, Lord Tennyson

I cannot think of anything harder than making the decision to end the suffering of someone you love.  Today, our good friends had to do exactly that, as they said farewell to their beloved companion, Bailey. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Bailey is survived by his People, Mike and Ashley, and his fur-sister, Libby.  He will be missed, but never forgotten.  We love you, Bailey.

Rest in peace.


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Oh, Hay There!

When you have dogs, your yard takes a beating.  Especially when it’s a northern facing exposure with a very specific path the dogs must travel in order to conduct their business.  On this day of stay-cation, and in preparations of a new house guest, we decided to do something about it.  And as I am a sucker for a good “before and after” reveal, I bring you:  Hay Day.*


No sun hits this spot, ever. Grass or ground cover has absolutely zero chance of growing here...I'm thinking rock garden?


Oscar is demonstrating proper use of The Path to the backyard.


This is the spot where the water drains off the roof into a nice little puddle every time it rains.


Just, yuck. I'm sure I don't have to explain what paws look like coming inside after a rainy day.



Ta da!


Oscar approves.

Much better.  This should help eliminate some muddy paws, at least until spring when we can come up with a more permanent solution.  What do some of you guys do to help with mud in the backyard?  I’m open to suggestions!

*Remember MTPRC?  They’re the heroes who rescued Kaylee off her chain.  They host a “Hay Day” every year as the weather starts to get cold, in which they travel around the Nashville area delivering hay, shelters and  cold weather supplies to dogs in need. Love those people!



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Break These Chains

Stick your arm straight out in front of you.  What’s that, about two feet?  That’s how long a chain Kaylee was padlocked to when she was found.  Her entire existence consisted of small circle, no bigger than four feet across, with nothing but a rotting dog house to shelter her from the blazing Nashville sun, beating rain and relentless insects.  She did everything in this tiny space – slept, ate (when she was fed), went to the bathroom, paced…and waited.

Kaylee waited every day for the first seven months of her life for someone to come and save her from the hell she was living in.  When Kaylee’s “owner” surrendered her to Dogs Deserve Better the Middle Tennessee Pet Resource Center, she was utterly defeated.  At only seven months old, she had no life in her beautiful honey colored eyes.  She was filthy and covered in bug bites.  She had never felt the warm touch of a loving hand.  She had never gotten the chance to run, never had her ears scratched or belly rubbed, never played with a toy.

She didn’t even have a name.

Keeping a dog on a chain, or “tethering,” is a widely accepted practice in some parts of the country.  In the South, it is especially prevalent.  There are plenty of reasons why tethering a dog is a bad idea.  Here are three:

It’s cruel…all you have to do is look through these pictures – or maybe out your own window – and look into the sad eyes of a dog on a chain. As pack animals, dogs are social creatures.  They long for the companionship of their pack, their family.  Since dogs have been domesticated, their “People” have become their “Pack.” Over hundreds and hundreds of years, the desire to please their pack leader (that’s you, by the way) has been bred into them, so that it is now among their most basic instincts – to please their master.  Being separated from their master, being able to see them through the window but not be with them, is torture.

It’s dangerous…A dog that’s lived its life on a chain hasn’t been socialized, and don’t know what their Pack wants from them.  They bark, they get yelled at to shut up.  They whine, they get ignored.  With no clue how to behave, they turn to destructive or neurotic behavior, like obsessive chewing, barking, scratching, or pacing.  They have such a small “territory” to call their own, that they can become extremely territorial and aggressive to anything that gets too close to them. This could include a neighbor’s dog who got out of the house, or a child who wandered into the back yard.

It probably doesn’t have the desired effect…Ask people why they chain their dogs outside, and I’d bet you a years supply of dog treats that 99 out of 100 people would say “for protection.”  Um, OK….these dogs are chained.  Meaning they can only chase an intruder as far as the end of their chain.  How is that going to stop someone breaking into your house?  Personally, I think that you’ve got a much better chance of your dog “protecting you” from an intruder if you bring him  into your home and show him unconditional love and compassion – just like he has for you already.  Kinda like this.

The pictures included in this post show a small sampling of dogs that live their entire lives on chains.  They have been documented by Dogs Deserve Better all around the Nashville area, in effort to help gather ammunition to request an anti-tethering ordinance be enacted in our county (for more information on this initiative, click here, or click here to sign the petition.)



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