Tag Archives: Sweet Ideas

Cooper-proof Holiday Decorating

Foster Dad and I have never done a ton of holiday decorating, but we do enjoy a live tree and hanging our stockings with care, even though we don’t have a chimney.  Last year, we were a little Scroogey and skipped all of it.  After a year off, I decided come hell or high water destructive foster dogs, I was going to decorate for Christmas, dang it! Especially since Emily at Our Waldo Bungie got me into the holiday spirit way back in October when she invited me to be a part of this year’s Pittie Posse Secret Santa gift exchange! By the way, don’t forget to check back on December 21st for the big reveal!

We’ve already shared our tactics for introducing a live Christmas tree to Cooper. Since this will be his first Christmas at our house, and he has a certain “history,” we weren’t quite sure how he would react to a change in his environment. Since a lot of our holiday decor is sentimental, we wanted to be sure to keep it as safe from Cooper’s vicious chompers as we possibly could. Here’s how we did it…

Fake Presents

I love a tree with presents under it. But after all pounding the pavement and hitting the stores searching high and low for the perfect gifts for our loved ones, there’s no way we were going to leave them to chance under the tree.  Solution: fake presents.

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I just took some empty boxes and wrapped ’em up. This actually solves three problems: 1) Our real presents are stowed safely away until Christmas morning 2) I get to use up some of the wrapping paper I don’t like and 3) you caught me – I’m actually nowhere near done Christmas shopping. I only have two gifts in my possession, which would look pretty pathetic if they were the only things under the tree.

Raising the Bar Roof Decor

Since we are human-munchkin free, and Oscar has never given our Christmas stuff a second thought, we have always had the freedom of placing our holiday decorations wherever we wanted.  Since that’s not the case this year, we looked up – literally. Instead of hanging our stockings on our stocking hooks where we usually do, here:

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…we busted out some Command strips and hung them here:

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Again, multiple problems being solved here…1) obviously the stockings are out of reach of any curious pups and 2) I still get to use my stocking hooks, and display some of the ornaments that didn’t make it to the tree.

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Move it.

I am a creature of habit and I tend to find a “good spot” for things and not move them, ever. This includes holiday decorations – they usually end up in the same place every year.  We have a console that sits under or TV that is usually a great spot for some of our Christmas trinkets, but it also happens to be dog-nose height.

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Too tempting for the pooches. I did set our little Christmas tree music box out, but the rest of my little Christmas friends got moved down the hall this year.  This part of the house is closed off from where the dogs spend their days while we’re at work.

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These guys resemble stuffies a little too much to hang out with the pooches unattended during the day.

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There you have it, just a few simple fixes to keep our holiday decorations pooch-proof, but still make the house feel festive. What do you do to keep your holidays dog-friendly? Have you had to alter any of your traditions?

Cooper is still searching for his Furever Home! If you’d like to add Cooper to your family, please visit Agape Animal Rescue and fill out an adoption application.

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Lost Dog

I don’t know if there’s anything more terrifying as a pet owner than coming home to find that your pet isn’t where he should be.  When the unthinkable happens, a million emotions will hit you all at once – fear, denial, terror, guilt, and panic.   I remember these feelings well, as I went through all of them when Tucker went on his Great Adventure, and again when I came home to find this:

…and no Cooper in the house! Thankfully, Cooper had only “escaped” into our fenced in backyard, but for several terrifying seconds, I thought he was Gone.

As difficult as it might be, it will be very important to keep a clear head and have a plan in place to get your loved one home, safe and sound, as quickly as possible.  Here are some things you can do in advance so you can be prepared if you find yourself in such a scary situation.

Keep a pre-made LOST flyer on your computer.   If Oscar were to go missing, my first instinct would be tear around the neighborhood like a crazy lady looking for him.  The last thing I’d want to do is sit down in front of a computer, looking through pictures trying to pick the perfect one to put on a flyer, and trying to remember what kind of information I’m supposed to include.  So instead, I laid it all out in advance.  If that horrible day comes, I can simply fill in a few last-minute details like “last seen” location/date/time, print out (color!) copies and start posting them around town.   When you’re making your own LOST flyer, make sure to include:

  • Your dog’s name
  • Weight and size
  • Color, description, distinguishing characteristics
  • Where he went missing
  • The date and time you last saw him
  • What he was wearing (collar, tag, harness, etc)
  • Your contact information – list multiple phone numbers, including your vet.
  • Offer a reward.  Hey, money talks.  Oscar’s LOST flyer doesn’t even use the word “LOST,” instead it says “$$ REWARD $$” in big bold print right at the top, and underneath it says “…for safe return!”  It probably would not hurt to add the phrase “No questions asked.”

You can also look online and find templates for creating a LOST flyer.  One good one I’ve found is PetBond.com.  All you do is fill out some information about your pet, add your contact information and upload a photo, and it will generate a .PDF of a flier for you that you can print out yourself.  PetBond even gives you the option to include little tear off strips at the bottom with your contact info.  Oh, and it’s free, which is always a bonus.

Chosing the right photo.  I cannot stress enough how important a clear, up-to-date, color photograph of your pet is on a LOST poster.  Take a look at these photos of lost dogs that I pulled off Craigslist:

I don’t even know what’s going on in this picture.

Those dogs could walk right past me on the street and I couldn’t recognize them from these pictures.  How big are they? Are they male or female?  Do they have a collar on?  Even if this information is listed elsewhere on the flyer, a picture is worth a thousand words.  Now compare the photos above with these:

These pictures are clear and in focus.  The second one even has a person in the photo with the dog, so you can easily tell how big the dogs is.  Some people might not be able to recognize a dog that running down the street is 40 lbs, but they will be able to tell if the dog comes up to their knee or the bumper of a truck. 

If you don’t have any good clear current pictures of your pet, stop reading right now and go snap a few. Go ahead, we’ll be here when you get back. 

Oscar’s photo for his LOST flyer.

Microchip, and register!  We all know how important and easy it is to microchip your pet.  However, just as important is making sure that the chip is registered and up to date with your current contact information.  Earlier this summer, a dog got picked up as a stray and taken to the Nashville Humane Association.  The dog had a microchip, but it wasn’t registered.  After the dog had been in the slammer for a month, a man showed up with his two daughters to search the rows for their family pet.  When they came upon this dog’s cage, the man started screaming, “My dog is here! You have Irene!”  Irene is now home safe and sound, but she could have been home a month sooner if her microchip had been registered. 

Oscar has a HomeAgain microchip. They send us e-mail reminders every few months to make sure our information is current.

Dress for success.  We all make sure our pups are sporting a collar and ID tag when we take them out on the town, but what about right now – look at your pup snoozing at your feet, is he wearing his collar and tag?  What about when he goes out in your fenced in back yard?  Your dog has an astronomically higher chance of coming home if he is wearing a collar and tag.  As cute and cuddly as our pups are when they’re au naturale, what if someone breaks into your home and lets your dog out?  What if there’s a fire and your pet escapes with his life, but without identification?  If your dog is in the backyard after a bath, what if there’s a loose board in your fence and he wriggles his way to freedom, or what if your meter reader didn’t latch your gate all the way?  Your pet should always wear visual identification, even when he is safe at home – just in case.

Make a sign for your front yard.  This next tip I can’t take credit for.  I saw this posted on Facebook by fellow foster blogger and pit bull advocate Our Waldo Bungie.  Talk about a forehead slap moment, I can’t believe this had never occurred to me before!  

Even as I, after finding lost dogs in my neighborhood, drive around looking for someone who may be out and about looking for their dog or posting signs, I never thought of putting a sign in my own yard if I lost my furbaby.  I suppose you could do the same thing if you find a dog, as folks who’ve lost their pets will probably be driving around the neighborhood searching.

Use the Internet.  Get together a list of websites that help find lost dogs.  Does your local online paper have a lost/found section?  Does your neighborhood group have a e-message board or list serve?  How about Facebook?  In Nashville, there is a Nashville Lost & Found Pets group that has helped reunite many pets with their owners.  Learn about what online resources are available to you in advance, so you’re not wasting time scrambling to sign up for accounts and join groups when your pet goes missing.  Petfinder.com no longer offers a classified section, but they do have links to articles offering many more tips and steps to take if you lose your pet.  Of course, there is also Craigslist, but…

Beware of phishing.  It’s sad that people would take advantage of someone who is clearly in an emotional state, but it does happen.  If you choose to list your e-mail address on your Craigslist ad, be careful of e-mails you might get with vague information or odd wording, such as “I have information about your pet!” or “I’d like to pray for your pet.”  Chances are, these are less-than-legitimate, and these people are betting that you are letting your emotions overrule your better judgement. Responding to them could get your e-mail account hacked.

“I like my home and my couch, I don’t ever wanna be lost!”

Hopefully we will never have to go through the nightmare of losing Oscar or one of our foster dogs.  But if it does happen someday, I know that we are as prepared as we can be to deal with it.  What other steps would you or have you taken to find a lost pet?  What’s worked well for you?  Is there anything you would add to this list or do differently?  Please share your thoughts in the Comments below!

Remember, our foster pup Cooper is still looking for his furever home!  If it’s you, please fill out an application with Agape Animal Rescue.

 ~

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Let Me See That Kong

Awhile back I had a stroke of brilliance to smush up veggies and other yummy bits, stuff them in Kongs and freeze them as special treats for the pups.  Cooper got his first experience with Veggie Kongs the other day…I think he liked them.

Of course we couldn’t leave Oscar out….

They even enjoyed their Kongs together for awhile before Cooper retreated with his to the kitchen.

And with full happy tummies, they promptly passed out.  I guess sucking a frozen veggie/yogurt/peanut butter mixture out of a Kong is exhausting work!

If you want to make Veggie Kongs for Cooper, please contact
Agape Animal Rescue.

~

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Kaylee and the Egg

We’ve gotten a lot of good advice over the few years we’ve been dog owners, and the few months we’ve been fosters.  When Oscar was young and in his Puppy Kindergarten class, our instructor introduced us to the idea of feeding him meals out of interactive treat/food dispenser toys, so we used to feed Oscar all of his meals out of “the egg.”   For some reason or another we’ve gotten away from it recently, but we decided to bust it out again with Kaylee because she just…Eats.  So.  Fast! 

These toys are great for a lot of reasons.   They help the dog eat slower, which obviously keeps them occupied longer (and gives you more time to do the laundry or cook diner undisturbed).  They also help exercise Kaylee’s mind as she tries to figure out how to gain access to her breakfast. 

Dogs need to practice their problem solving skills just like we do.  When their mind gets a work out, it mentally wears them out, just like a good walk physically wears them out.  This helps keep them engaged, sharp, and most importantly, not bored.  Because I think we all know what can happen when dogs get bored.

Kaylee is demonstrating “the egg” (as we call it, it’s actually called a Busy Buddy Kibble Nibble) here.  After Oscar got too good at it, it was no longer a challenge for him, so we added a Buster Cube to the rotation.  We’ll have to see how long it takes Kaylee to master it and move on to the Cube.

She’s pretty good at it so far, I don’t think it will be too long!

For more information on adopting Kaylee, please contact Agape Animal Rescue.

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Veggie Kongs

We had some friends and their dogs (these friends & dogs) over to our house a few weeks ago for Thanksgiving.  One of their dogs is of the senior persuasion and they have taken to feeding him as healthy as they can – this includes raw meat and lots of healthy veggies.  All the dogs got a very special Thanksgiving plate with scraps of beef, fish, potatoes celery and carrots.  We usually have a very strict “no people food” rule at Foster House (except for peanut butter Kongs, of course).  However, since it was a special occasion, and the treat would be given to him in his regular doggie dish, we couldn’t let Oscar be left out. 

Ashley is preparing the doggie's Thanksgiving feast, while Oscar drools in anticipation!

Oscar enjoying his Thanksgiving meal.

"Hmm, I'm not sure I like carrots."

All the dogs loved their Thanksgiving treat, especially Oscar, who doesn’t ever get people food (except when we’re not looking and our friends decide to defy our rules – you know who you are!!)  Ashley was telling us how it’s actually very healthy for dogs to get veggies in their diet every once in a while.  It makes sense – in the wild, dogs are foragers and hunters.  They eat animal as well as plant protein. 

This got me thinking about how much “junk” we feed our dogs.  I’m not talking about just dog food – to be honest, we spend a crap ton (probably more than we need to) on very good, healthy dog food for Oscar.  Especially now, since we’re having to keep Kaylee and Oscar separated and re-introduce them slowly, we’re giving more treats and stuffed Kongs to keep one busy while the other gets People Time.  Our go-to Kong stuffin’ is usually peanut butter, which isn’t necessarily bad for dogs on it’s own, but I don’t want to over-load them with a lot of unneccessary fat if I don’t have to.

So I thought to myself, what’s healthier than peanut butter that I could stuff in a Kong, that the dogs will love just as much?  I immediately thought of the pup’s Thanksgiving feast – veggies, of course!  But how to go about it? 

**WARNING** You are about to join in me in my official decent into “crazy-dog-lady-ness,” but since you are reading this blog you are probably half way there yourself, if not there already.  So here we go…

I bring you: The Veggie Kong!

Step 1: Identify veggies for use.  I had some celery, carrots and spinach salad mix that was about to go bad (but not quite).  You could also use green beans, asparagus, squash, potatoes, or peas.  Check out this Modern Dog article for more ideas on healthy food that’s safe for dogs.

Step 2: cut up into pieces & microwave to soften.  Add to food processor and chop into itty bitty pieces.

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3: mix all the itty bitty pieces together and put into plastic baggie.  Cut the corner off of the baggie for ease of Kong-filling (this is also the only way to make deviled eggs, by the way).

 

 

 

 

 

Step 4: spread small amount of peanut butter around inside of Kong.  This may turn out to be an optional step depending on how the dogs take to the Veggie Kong, but since this was a first attempt the peanut butter is for bribery. 

Step 5: fill Kong with veggie mixture.

 And voilà!  The finished product: A Veggie Kong

Now doesn’t that just look delicious?  With bonus of being healthy and affordable!  The dogs still get the yummy of peanut butter that they love, without an entire Kong full of it.  I ended up just chopping up all the veggies I had, so I have a good deal extra.  Tonight I’m going to try mixing in some yogurt or more peanut butter and rolling them into balls and freezing them. 

It wasn’t until I was finished that I even thought to think of the financial aspect of this alternative to regular treats…a 17.5 oz tub of freeze-dried liver treats (ie, heaven on earth if you’re our dogs) costs us nearly $30.  Thirty dollars!  For dog treats!  This wasn’t a big deal when it was just Oscar, we didn’t go through them all that fast.  But with two dogs in the house we amp up the training, and therefore the rewards, we’re flying through that stuff!  This whole batch, while a little more time-consuming, only cost a couple bucks.  And they were a hit!

What are some of your dogs’ favorite healthy treats?  Do you splurge, or make them anything special?  Go ahead and spill with the dog-crazy, you’re among friends!

Don’t forget, Kaylee is still looking for her furever home!  To adopt Kaylee, contact Agape Animal Rescue

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Rainy Day Blues

If you’re paying attention, you’ve already caught on that the title of this post is a plug for Jackalope Brewery’s rotating tap, of which a percentage of proceeds will go to Agape Animal Rescue the entire month of November.  Hey Nashville, go get you some! 

Rain rain, go away.  Or at least teach Tucker that rainy Sundays are supposed to mean lazy Sundays at Foster House.  I guess Tucker didn’t get that memo.

Our dear Oscar prides himself on being a certified and accomplished lazy bones. 

Tucker on the other hand, has an energy supply that never seems to deplete, so he was BUMMED that we were stuck inside all day.

When he wasn’t bouncing off the walls, he was pouting.

Finally, a stroke of sheer genius struck Foster Mom.  I hear my friends who have 2-legged kids talk about putting half of their toys away after Christmas, then one rainy day when they need a distraction whip out a “new” toy to create hours of entertainment.  Well, I was NOT going out in that torrential downpour yesterday just to get a new toy for Tucker, so my version: tennis ball in an old sock. 

And voila, I had two occupied dogs for the rest of the day.  Best.  Idea.  Ever.

 

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