Ten Tips for Going Green With Your Dog

Shame My HumanBeing shown how to recycle by your pup may well be something to be ashamed of, but perhaps not if you consider the many enjoyable activities you can do with your dog while trying to reduce you and your pet’s carbon footprint. Let’s explore ways to “go green” that benefit not only the health of the Earth but the health of your pet as well.

10 ways you can go green with your dog:

  1. Giving your dog biodegradable or recycled toys with which to play. Old towels, sheets, clothes and shoes make great chew toys for growing puppies. Tie several rags together and have a tug-fest with an older dog or make a rag ball and go outside for a fun afternoon of playing fetch with your favorite pal.
  2. Embrace your green side by ditching the plastic bags and scooping your dog’s poop into biodegradable poop sacks that can be buried in your garden or compost pile. They also contribute to keeping sewage systems clean and free of bacteria.
  3. All dog owners have had aggravating encounters with flea circuses deciding to put on a show using your dog’s body. Go green when fighting these high-wire pests by using organic shampoos instead of pesticides. An example of a homemade flea treatment involves mixing essential oils like eucalyptus and peppermint with warm water, white vinegar and citronella oil.
  4. Make your own dog food instead of buying food that often contains hormones and antibiotics. Search for tasty recipes on the Internet or purchase a grinder and give your dog fresh chicken, turkey and beef instead of packaged food.
  5. Most dogs love to play in water but those streams and rivers that attract him like a magnet may contain chemically-laced run-off from farms and treatment plants. Go green with your dog by investing in an appropriately-sized swimming pool and letting him practice his dog-paddling in your backyard.
  6. Before treating your lawn this spring and summer, go green with alternative methods that can naturally stimulate your lawn’s growth. Use oganic fertilizer made with fish, bone and kelp meal and organic pesticides containing dishwashing soap and canola oil.
  7. Make homemade dog treats that are free of preservatives, artificial flavors and additives. Dogs love chewy, natural treats made from honey, yogurt, dried fruits and peanut butter.
  8. Bathtime for some dogs is an experience more frightening than having a nightmare about the neighbor’s Doberman getting loose. You can soothe your pet’s fears and go green at the same time by using a dry dog shampoo that cleans his coat without using soap and water. Warm some oatmeal or bran in your oven, rub the grains into the dog’s coat using a soft towel and then brush the dog afterwards with his favorite brush.
  9. Use cleaning solutions powered by enzymes instead of chemicals to clean up pet accidents.
  10. Don’t forget about your local animal shelter. Instead of throwing away old pet toys or bedding, clean them with bleach and water and donate the items to the shelter.

Do you have ideas of how you and your pet could make the earth a better place? Be creative and start today! It would be a real shame if Earth Day was the only day of the year we did anything about it!

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Choose a Veterinarian Who Doesn’t Make You Feel Like Crap!

Female veterinarian and young boy petting kittens

I chose a veterinarian who made me feel like crap.  Actually, I made me feel like crap.

A secret about me is that I’m crazy insecure when I’m stressed.  It has a little to do with (probably a lot) my upbringing.  I want people to like me so it sucks when someone doesn’t share my enthusiasm for the topic of the day.  It’s a little pathetic, but I bet a lot of people can relate.

One day I took our dogs to the veterinarian and wanted to discuss something I’d read while researching an article.  That’s the cool thing about being a pet blogger, we’re always learning new things and a trip to the veterinarian is a great time to get clarification on a topic; or so I thought.

My veterinarian showed no interest in the discussion; I imagine that he was sighing internally at another Google diagnosis.  He may have been busy that day, but this attitude wasn’t new with him and I decided that he wasn’t the vet for us.  I paid the bill and went home.  That was our last visit.  I knew that I needed to choose a veterinarian who would listen to me.

I Want a Vet Who I Can Talk To

Our dogs and cats can’t tell us what’s wrong so I think it’s only natural that we’re going to race to Google to try and figure out what’s going on.  Having lost a pet this past year, I’m a little sensitive when we have a sick pet at home and try to learn as much as possible so that I can…

  • be prepared
  • know what to look for
  • speak intelligently to our vet about their symptoms

Veterinarians Don’t Know Everything

I think that most vets keep up on the advances of veterinarian medicine, but there are hundreds of dog breeds out there and a fellow blogger (Amanda, A Mastiff Blog) taught me that “Vet schools teach our Veterinarians about dogs, not specific breeds and these 161+ breeds are all a little bit different.”  So I try not to be too hard on veterinarians.  I don’t expect them to know it all, but I do expect them to help me understand our dogs better.  Give me a little peace of mind please.

When a Vet Won’t Speak to Pet Owners

If you have a vet that won’t speak with you about your pet’s health – Run.  This is not the vet for you.  In my opinion, the best way to help us raise happy, healthy dogs is to arm us with information.  So when I was speaking with our new vet, I asked her for 10 minutes of her time (yep, made an appointment) to ask her some questions that she was only too happy to answer.  Both my boyfriend and I love to ask questions and she has been nothing but patient and we couldn’t be happier.

If You Don’t Have the Option to Change Vets

We’re lucky.  We live in a town of pet lovers and I can think of 5 veterinarians as I type this and I know that there are several more within 10-15 minutes of our home.  Not everyone has this luxury.  So if you have a vet who won’t speak to you and you don’t have the option of running, then explain what you need.  Explain that you would like to better understand your pet’s health so that you can give them a good life.  And keep explaining this until they hear you.

I’m not a fan of conflict and sometimes being a little pushy can feel uncomfortable.  But, it’s not about confrontation; we’re just asking for clarification.  So find a vet that you feel comfortable talking to; our pets count on us to speak for them – so speak up! Loudly!!!  Choose a veterinarian who will listen.

What do you love about your vet?

Kimberly Gauthier is a dog mom to three herding mix dogs and two tolerant cats. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her boyfriend where she’s the Editor in Chief of Keep the Tail Wagging magazine. Kimberly shares dog care tips from the perspective of a woman who lives in a multi-dog household.

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Best Friends Forever – Tips on Caring for Your Aging Dog

A life-long friendship

There’s nothing quite as captivating as a new puppy. Who could resist those big, trusting eyes, that wiggly bottom and those wonderful, wet kisses? But, while puppy charms may fade, the relationship between pet and pet parent only deepens with the passing of time. Charm quickly grows into love, trust and loyalty. A dog can be both a friend and a companion: someone who will listen when no one else is there. Even the worst day is suddenly brighter when you walk through the door at night and are greeted by an exuberant ball of fur who loves you without reservation.

Your aging pet

Old Labrador retriever.

Eventually, though, every dog starts to show its age. Now it’s time to give back a little of the undying devotion they have showered on us over the years. Just as a puppy needs house-training pads and its first set of shots, older dogs have their own set of physical and emotional requirements. Here are a few things to keep in mind while helping your devoted companion through his or her golden years.

  1. Diet – Many things affect the dietary needs of dogs as they age. They may have tooth and gum problems that require softer food, for instance. They may also have some loss of smell which can affect their appetite. Elderly dogs may not absorb as many nutrients from their diet as they once did. You can help your pet by choosing a well-balanced dog food that is designed for older animals. Offer wet food if your dog has trouble chewing kibble. Supplements are also available for pets now. A once-daily chewable vitamin can help ensure that your older dog is getting all the nutrients they need.
  2. Vaccinations – In the past, it was thought that dogs needed to be vaccinated at regular intervals throughout their lives to maintain their immunity to illness. Recently, it has been learned that older dogs can now safely go longer between vaccinations. Not only will their immunity not be compromised, they will also be spared the physical stresses that accompany vaccinations. Of course, you should always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s vaccination schedule.
  3. Exercise – Physical activity is as important for an old dog as it is for a pup. Health problems, however, can make exercise more challenging as pets age. They may be more sensitive to heat and cold, for instance, or they may have joint problems that make it more difficult to get around. Talk with your vet about safe ways for your dog to continue being active. Swimming may be a good choice because it takes the stress off of old joints. Walking your dog in the early morning might be one way to avoid the heat of the day. Your vet might also recommend medications that can make your pet more comfortable while on the move.
  4. Accidents – Many older dogs develop incontinence. Sometimes they have lost the cognitive ability to remember their house training, other times they simply have aging bladder muscles. You can minimize clean-up time by purchasing a waterproof bed for your pet and simply tossing it in the washer as needed. You can also buy cheap, disposable under-pads and place them on your couch or anywhere else your dog likes to sleep. Keeping a good enzyme-based cleaner on hand is a good idea, as well.

These few simple steps can help make your pet’s golden years the truly enjoyable time they deserve.

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The Best TV Shows For Dog Lovers

TV Dog

Animal lovers can attest: There’s no such thing as too many puppies. According to HumaneSociety.org, more than 78 million dogs have homes in the United States. For this legion of puppy-possessed owners and the ranks of wanna-be pet parents comes a growing collection of dog-specific TV programming. From behavior tips to dog contests to highly trained canines, these shows offer an intimate look dogs from all angles.

If you love man’s best friend, enjoy the entertainment provided by these best puppy-loving programs:

‘The Dog Whisperer’

No bark is too loud for renowned dog trainer Cesar Millan. On National Geographic’s “Dog Whisperer,” Millan travels around the world rehabilitating dogs and demonstrating effective training tactics for owners. In a recent episode, Millan described why a couple’s dog goes into a frenzy when its owners kiss. Hungry for attention, the dog responds to Millan’s snaps and quiets down. Millan’s list of celebrity students includes Jillian Michaels, Kelsey Grammer and Hugh Hefner.

Owners looking to foster better relationships with their dogs can learn tips and tricks from Millan. Even if your dog is well behaved, Millan’s uncanny ability to connect with man’s best friend is a sight to behold.

‘Puppy Bowl’

A long NFL season culminates with the Super Bowl, America’s most-watched television event. Die-hard animal lovers aren’t focused on football, halftime or commercials, however, because over on Animal Planet there’s an even more exciting competition: “Puppy Bowl.” Watch puppies of every shape and size in a miniature football field as they wrestle for toys. This annual event uses slow motion cameras to capture the cuteness. Forgive the pups if they don’t play by the rules.

For dog enthusiasts, the chance to gather so many different breeds in one place is an elusive dream. “Puppy Bowl” is the next best thing.

‘Alpha Dogs’

Some dogs are destined for greatness. “Alpha Dogs” chronicles the development of police and military dogs from around the world. Physically gifted canines need training and practice to master skills like finding illegal substances, pursuing criminals and scaling walls. These dogs go through boot camp just like regular soldiers. Soldiers and dogs compete in challenges that test the strength of their bonds. Lead trainer Ken Licklider demands excellence from his dogs. “Alpha Dogs” airs on National Geographic Fridays at 9 p.m.

Watch “Alpha Dog” to see dogs perform at the highest level. The next time you see a police dog, you’ll appreciate the hard work that goes into its training.

‘Dogs 101′

If you’re ready to own a dog, but you’re not sure what kind, “Dogs 101″ is a good place to start. Highlighting a different breed each episode, “Dogs 101″ reveals the personalities, temperaments, likes and dislikes of dogs. Learn whether a certain breed would fit in with your lifestyle, and get to know more about dogs in general. Episodes that highlighted the affenpinscher, the English bulldog and the golden retriever have garnered the most attention so far. If your passion is pups, “Dogs 101″ will be your favorite class.

Catch “Dogs 101″ every weekday morning at 8 a.m. on Animal Planet.

by: Maren Krauss
The two things Maren loves most is traveling the world and hanging out with her dog, Maxine. She writes about both of these subjects often.

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Dog Spotlight – Maxwell: Beauty Tips

Maxwell Playing

When Bianca got Maxwell, her two year Labradoodle in 2011, she didn’t realize that her cosmetology license would come in handy in keeping her puppy at his most handsome. After working at a hair salon for years, Bianca realized that she could use skills on her own pet.
Although Maxwell goes to the dog groomer on a regular basis, sometimes his fur grows so long that it covers his eyes, and impedes his vision. So every four to six weeks, Bianca will trim the fur around Maxwell’s face with a buzzer.

Bianca is quick to say that her skills don’t replace Maxwell’s regular trips to the groomer, but it’s not impossible for any pet owner to keep his or her dog looking great and feeling comfortable. Wahl makes a pet clipper kit that allows pet owners to give their pets “touchups.” Note, however, the pet clipper is no different than a human clipper, so use what is most comfortable to you.
Maxwell on the Fountain

Bianca believes that Maxwell belongs on the cover of “GQ for dogs,” and doesn’t stop at the a fur trim to keep him looking camera ready. Maxwell has his eyes wiped with pet-friendly “baby wipes” to keep his eyes clean, and his ears cleaned with cotton swabs and warm water. To keep Maxwell’s coat looking shiny and soft, Bianca uses a pet friendly conditioner. Bianca makes sure to brush Maxwell on a regular basis, so that his curly fur doesn’t get matted and knotty.

The finishing touch for any grooming touch-up? A snazzy collar, of course! Right now, I’m loving the Tailbow Swarovski Crystal Heart Collar; it’ll stand out even amongst the chicest collars in all of Manhattan. With all of these basic grooming tips, who knows? Maybe your dog could be scouted to be a puppy model!

By Madalena, a recent graduate from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. By day, she works on the corporate side of the beauty industry in NYC, working for one of the largest beauty trade shows in North America. Madalena’s passion outside of work is fitness- she recently became licensed as a Zumba(R) instructor, and aims to compete in both a triathlon and half-marathon this year. Madalena loves animals and enjoys meeting dogs and their owners.

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Banana Joe Wins Best of Breed at Westminster Kennels Dog Show

Best in Show Banana Joe

If you follow the major dog shows, you will know that Banana Joe took top honors at the 137th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show . Banana Joe, a cute, gremlin-faced breed, is the first affenpinscher to win! Attending Madison Square Garden arena on Tuesday, February 12th, let me see all the action!

The Westminster Dog Show is the most competitive canine contest in the Western Hemisphere, and the second longest continuously held sporting event in the United States, second only to the Kentucky Derby. With over a century of tradition and the highest honor in dog showmanship at stake, each dog from the 177 breeds had to give its best performance.

With the judging broken up over two nights, I was able to watch three of the seven groups compete (Sporting, Working, and Terrier), and then watch the final judging for Best in Show- the overall winner of the entire show.

Who were my picks for winners of the Westminster Dog Show? I thought that the fluffiest dogs should win, partly because grooming them for a show seems like a lot of work, and partly because they seem so cuddly! The Golden Retriever gets my blue ribbon for the sporting group, the Samoyed and the Tibetan Mastiff win for the working group, and the Norwich Terrier for the terrier group. Although it’s not a conventional way to spend a night out in NYC, visiting a dog show is a new experience that any dog lover should try at least once.

At the beginning of each group, the announcer gave a brief introduction about how breeds are separated into groups. For example, terriers are grouped together because they were all originally used to hunt vermin with their exceptional digging skills. All the dogs of this group entered the ring and lined up. Each dog was then examined individually: handlers would “stack,” or pose their dog while the judge examined its bone and muscle structure, coat, and teeth. The dogs would then run down the ring and back in order for the judge to analyze its gait compared to breed standards.

The short version shown on television highlights the most notable breeds and crowd favorites, but watching the show in real life is much longer. Each judge (there’s a separate one for each group) makes sure to examine each breed closely so that he or she can make the fairest assessment. A judge is assisted by a steward: a person who doesn’t get much recognition, but is responsible for keeping each group judging running smoothly. Even though the audience had clear favorites—the golden retriever from the Working Group being one of them—the judges made their own decisions, and picked the dog that they preferred best to be the winner.

What did I observe while I was there? For one thing, watching a dog show can be a great drinking game, just ask the gentleman sitting in my section (he seemed to take a drink every time he heard the word “terrier!”). Seriously though, there is a giant following for dog shows. Those interested in the sport actively track a dog’s career, and will have a pretty good idea about how their favorite dogs will place, based on their performances throughout the year.

Sporting winner German Shorthair pointer

Surprise sporting winner German Shorthaired pointer

Many dogs took top honors as expected, but there were still surprises when the winners were chosen, even for the seasoned dog show aficionado. The Doberman “Fifi” was expected to easily win the Working Group, but was out-showed by the German Shorthaired Pointer.

Dog showing isn’t a cheap hobby that any pet lover can pick up, either. Handlers can spend upwards of $100,000 each year in the grooming, training, and competing of a show dog. The high costs of showing a dog makes a win all the more worthwhile, be it “Best in Breed,” “Best in Group,” or “Best in Show.”

It was an exciting Best in Show win for Banana Joe, since it was the first time an Affenpinscher has won top honors at Westminster, and also Banana Joe’s last time in the ring, as he will be retiring. Most dogs only show for a few years- the oldest dog to ever win a Best in Show at Westminster was ten years old, which is not common. Banana Joe beat out the likes of hometown hero the Portuguese Water Dog, and crowd favorite the Old English Sheepdog. Even though he’s finished in dog show business, Banana Joe has a bright future ahead of him.

Did you watch the Westminster Dog Show? Who were your favorites to win?

Do you and your dog live in the New York City/Long Island area, and want to be featured by the New York Roving Dog Reporter? Send an email to madalena (at) dogcollarsboutique.com and we’ll be in touch! Be sure to like Dog Collar Boutique on Facebook to stay up to date with all of the Roving New York Dog Reporter’s adventures!

Madalena is a recent graduate from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. By day, she works on the corporate side of the beauty industry in NYC, working for one of the largest beauty trade shows in North America. Madalena’s passion outside of work is fitness- she recently became licensed as a Zumba(R) instructor, and aims to compete in both a triathlon and half-marathon this year. Madalena loves animals and enjoys meeting dogs and their owners.

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Stella Stutters – Chapter 4

< Stella Staggers - Chapter 3
Puppy Play Date

The word is out: “Stella … got a dog? Are you serious?!

I’ve been inundated with a steady stream of incredulous, giggly, sarcastic and mostly wisenheimer e-mails from people who assumed – probably because I reinforced the idea at least 6 zillion times – that I would never, under any circumstances, come hell or high water OR another pitiful “but-the-puppy-needs-a-good-home” story take care of another dog in my lifetime.

“So tell me about this dog of yours,” one e-mail began. “Is it a stuffed lab, a stuffed beagle or a stuffed collie? What kind of stuffed animal did you get?”

Very funny.

Now that I’ve relented – the pleading pitch did me in this time – amazement has given way to widespread encouragement, which is nice, and invitations from people I don’t even know to a social phenomenon called “puppy play dates,” which I’ve never heard of.

Puppy play dates? Excuse me? What do I do? Sit out in the car – with the windows cracked open – while the puppy cavorts with his fellow fuzzballs, devours puppy treats and slurps down ice-cold bowls of water? Do I serve as the designated driver as he slumps in the back seat, passed out after a fun-loving cocker spaniel spikes his water with sweetened sugar granules? Or does the invitation extend to me, too?

“Oh, we definitely want you join the fun, too!” an eager but unknown puppy owner said in response to my inquiry. And when I say “eager,” I mean eager. She tracked down my phone number through a friend of a friend’s former co-worker’s sister. “Once you see how much fun they have, you’ll definitely understand why puppies need socialization time. You definitely have to put it on your calendar.”

I was so lost for words that I could barely stutter. All those “definitelys” made me nervous: What is this? A form of puppy peer pressure?

I recovered long enough to ask two reasonable questions – or at least what I thought were reasonable questions: What do the puppies “do” at these play dates? And if puppies need socialization – and OK, I get that, to a point – why can’t our little Havenese “get his needs fulfilled” through me and my daughter?

I can’t believe I actually said that, but I did: “get his needs fulfilled.” Five minutes on the phone and already I was babbling like a puppy psychologist.

“This is like … quality time for puppies to interact with other puppies. You just definitely have to show up and see for yourself. It’s definitely hard to explain.”

All I know is, I’d like somebody to explain this phenomenon. Puppy play dates. Socialization for puppies. Quality time for them to “interact.” What am I missing here? Will he “grow up” to be a misfit if I skip this step in his, um, maturation process?

I mean, I’m not sustaining this little Havenese to become a productive, well-adjusted member of society. It’s not like he’s going to one day leave my care and stake his claim in the world, remembering all the upstanding lessons I tried to teach him about interacting with his peers. He will not have to compromise with a domineering German shepherd, ask his dog boss to reconsider firing a lazy basset hound or make only gentleman-like comments when a newly shaven poodle struts by with her new ‘do and painted nails.

Puppies are not people; they’re animals. So aren’t puppy owners a bit misguided to ascribe human tendencies to fuzzballs who – let’s be honest – cannot even differentiate between puppy food and a skuzzy garden shoe?

One puppy owner doesn’t seem to think so. “Mom! I want to go, I want to go, I want to go!” said my sweet, blue-eyed girl when I told her about the invitation. “Can we? Can we? Can we go?”

Another pleading pitch. What else could I say?

Definitely. Grrrrrr…..

< Stella Staggers - Chapter 3

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Central Park Winter Jam Includes Doggie Snow Zone

Winter Jam - Central Park

When the Parks and Recreation Department of New York City put together this year’s Winter Jam, they made sure that dogs could be a part of the fun, too. While humans could learn how to ski, snowboard, and snowshoe in Central Park, there were plenty of pup-friendly activities, as well. Dogs let loose in the Doggie Snow Zone, which included a dog run, and an agility course where urban dogs could stretch their legs with other canines without the confines of a leash.

After playing, dogs and their owners could enjoy refreshments, shopping, and have their pet care questions answered by celebrity dog stylist Jorge Bendersky, pet behavior experts, and animal nutritionists. The Doggie Snow Zone was possible due to the sponsorship of Unleashed by Petco, as well as Biscuits and Bath; thank you for making this event a success for NYC pets!

For those NYC dogs that didn’t get a chance to play, the snow, made by Gore Mountain will be in the park for days to come, so be sure to head over to Central Park to enjoy it before it melts! Don’t forget to keep your pooch warm in colder winter temperatures- a doggie jacket and bootie will help your pet stay cozy and dry against the elements.

Does your community have any special events just for pets? Let us know in the comments!

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Long Island Princess

Princess

It’s not often that a dog embodies his or her name as well as Princess, 3, does. The little mutt is an “old soul” who joined her family at six weeks old. We sat down with Princess’ owner, Joanne, to find out more about the pooch:

  1. How did Princess join your family?
  2. A family friend of ours had a female dog, and then acquired a male dog who they only thought was spayed. Princess was a part of their litter, and needed a home. Since my three daughters played at their house, and loved the dog, my friend encouraged me to take her home. At first, I wasn’t thrilled, but she’s become a member of the family. Princess is very sweet and loving. She’ll know when someone is sick or hurting, and she’ll lay on that body part, as if she can make it better. It’s great to have her here with us.

  3. Walk us through a day in the life of Princess.
  4. Princess is actually the most reluctant to wake up out of all of my girls in the morning- she doesn’t want to get out of bed, and she doesn’t want my daughters to leave her to go to school. Once the girls leave for school, she’ll follow me around the house, but she gets excited around 1:30, when she knows that it’s time to go pick up the girls from school. Sometimes, I’ll take her with me to the school, and she really loves that.

  5. What are Princess’ favorite things?
  6. Princess loves to run around outside, and she especially loves the snow! Inside, she plays with her stuffed animals- she has a koala that is her favorite. Out of all the treats we give her, she prefers Purina T-Bonz (http://www.purinatbonz.com/).

  7. What’s something about Princess that her friends may not know about her?
  8. Princess is a Certified Therapy Dog! She earned her certificate through the Bideawee Learning Center for Pets and People (http://www.bideawee.org/Learning-Centers), in Wantagh, New York. This means that she’s qualified to go into hospitals to work with the sick and elderly.

Do you and your dog live in the New York City/Long Island area, and want to be featured by the New York Roving Dog Reporter? Leave your details in the comments, and we’ll be in touch! Be sure to like Dog Collar Boutique on Facebook to stay up to date with all of the Roving New York Dog Reporter’s adventures!

Madalena is a recent graduate from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. By day, she works on the corporate side of the beauty industry in NYC, working for one of the largest beauty trade shows in North America. Madalena’s passion outside of work is fitness- she recently became licensed as a Zumba(R) instructor, and aims to compete in both a triathlon and half-marathon this year. Madalena loves animals and enjoys meeting dogs and their owners.

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Stella Staggers! – Chapter 3

< Stella Slides - Chapter 2 | Stella Staggers – Chapter 4 >

Chow Chow

I’m on a roll. Ever since my daughter brought a little Havanese into our home, it seems that I cannot go anywhere without encountering dogs – and primarily big dogs who sleep in cages that are bigger than those in the gorilla house at Brookfield Zoo.

Go to a friend’s house for dinner? Two guests bring a pair of fierce-looking Doberman Pinschers, who spent the night gnawing on the heel of my boot while I braced myself against the back of the chair, afraid to move as they vibrated with a steady growl under the table. “Oh, they’re just singing at you,” said the female owner. Yeah, right. My boot is just a warm-up for what they really want: my foot, for dinner.

Stop at a colleague’s business to drop off a flash drive? Two bulky German shepherds lulled me into thinking that they were well-behaved – until I got a whiff of tuna and saw them with their noses dug deep inside my book bag, devouring what was left of a half-eaten sandwich that I had wrapped in several layers of paper. “Oh, you shouldn’t leave food in your bag, no matter how well you wrap it,” my friend cautioned me. How reckless of me! I should always plan ahead for kamikaze attacks.

Even Christmas Eve dinner brought the unexpected delight of coming face to face with my cousin’s Chow Chow, a dog with a soggy tongue the length of a yardstick. I know, because (sorry, Aunt Tonie) I kept flapping at that tongue with a linen napkin to stop him from slobbering on my hand and wrist. “Oh, he’s just so happy not to spend the holiday alone,” my cousin said. Aww. Ain’t that sweet! Too bad I can’t use that napkin to wipe the tears from my sentimental eyes.

By this time, I was beginning to ferment some new thoughts about dogs and dog ownership: What is it about the owners of large, brawny dogs that seem to make the owners explain away the dogs’ behavior? I don’t see these owners reprimanding the dogs; in fact, they seem to be alternately defensive and charmed by the dogs’ rogue behavior.

Does the dogs’ girth grant them the gift of entitlement, sort of like those drivers of large SUVs, who seem to be telling the rest of us: “Look out there, sugar. I rule the road. You can toot your squeaky horn in protest, but I will merely laugh at you before slicing off your fender as I cut you off in traffic.”

I was still mulling these thoughts when my little Havanese – now affectionately known as “the pee machine,” “the pee-meister” and “Bud Light” — greeted me at the door, running so hard in my direction that he ran head-first into my ankle. Afraid that he had hurt his little mop head, I scooped him up and looked at him closely. What a cute little fuzzball. And how wonderful it is that he is so small.

Swept away by this revelation, I twirled him around. Eat your hearts out, gorilla owners everywhere!

Just then, Bud began to squirm, so I put him back on the floor. He paused and looked up at me – a rather guilty look that instantly broke the spell of our bonding moment. I know that squat!

Another benefit to his diminutive stature is that he can zip around the house like a rabbit on amphetamines. You can almost never catch him.

I wouldn’t have that problem with a big dog, now would I?

< Stella Slides - Chapter 2 | Stella Staggers – Chapter 4 >

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