The Year in Review



-figuring out she’s allergic to 8 foods

-finding out she has hypothyroidism (we can help her now!)

-having food that is healthy which she can eat without getting sick (for 2 years she was constantly sick)

-having a pillow/bed she doesn’t destroy

-moving on from reactive training class

-finding peace/calmness

-being able to clean her ears, paws and giving her haircuts myself

Looking back, this year has been one of great progression. It started off with more months of training to get used to other people and dogs. The early months continued with working on being able to clean Oreo’s ears without aggression and fear. Next we moved on to more ear infections, yeast, and throwing up. As the year went by I tried different foods. I tried raw, which she seemed to be okay with at first, but didn’t particularly enjoy after a while. I tried many different foods and even made her gluten-free pumpkin treats.

However, her allergies got to the point where she was itching, itching, itching! It got so bad she would itch her eyes until she scratched the skin around them, causing them to bleed. We ended up taking a trip all the way to Smith Ridge Vet Center, all the way in Connecticut (and I live in PA). That was the best decision I made that year. Although Oreo didn’t enjoy hanging out with new people who were going to prod her (okay she doesn’t like it when I’m there-she gets defensive), we came out of there much healthier.

We found out she’s allergic to 8 different foods: chicken, alfalfa, eggs, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, salmon, corn and soybean. Also, we found out she has hypothyroidism. All of these allergies and issues definitely contributed to her behavior. She was MISERABLE. I don’t blame her, I would be too!

During the year we reached a point where we felt reactive training was not working, and opted for helping her health first, then if training was needed we would go back.

I’m happy to say Oreo has reached a place I never though or imagined would be possible, especially not in the beginning. She can greet her friends (dogs she has met before being attacked by another dog). We do not even let her approach other dogs, even if she seems to want to (it’s not worth the risk). She is fine around my family and people who understand she needs space and time to warm up. We don’t invite stranger or friends over she isn’t familiar with, or we bring her to my parents.

I learned about relaxation protocol which has helped her stay calm and relaxed in many situations and at home. Oreo has reached a place of relaxation. She will still panic in certain events but it is a rare occurence. My family has learned to manage, to train, and to avoid scary situations for her.

It may not seem like a big deal-but she has a bed she loves!!! She has always destroyed beds in the past.

We still work on her allergies and do some training. I almost feel like training stressed her out and now that we don’t do ask much she is calmer.

She also took another big step-she can roam free around the house while we are at work (NEVER thought that would happen either). She use to be gated in the kitchen because she would destroy things. I believe now that she is feeling better, calmer, and gets more exercise she is fine at home now.

We don’t hear her growl much and haven’t seen her snap at us in a LONG time. She will only growl usually if she is sick since we have learned calming signals and more about each other. I hope everyone else had a productive year, if not I hope the next year is better!!!



The Most Dangerous Time of Year…For Your Pet

Dog_Christmas_cartoonAccording to vets, Christmas is the most dangerous time  of year for pets.

Whether you are celebrating at home or at a family member’s house, there are some things to remember to have a jolly jubilation:

  1. Holiday plants can be poisonous: holly, mistletoe, and poinsettia.
  2. If you have a real tree, don’t let your dog drink the water. You may think it’s okay or funny, but it’s not. The trees usually contain chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers. These chemicals go into the water and can poison your pet!
  3. Don’t let your dad, your favorite uncle, or even your child feed the dog too much fatty food. This food can cause to stomach upset. It could be a little bit of a problem where it’s bothersome, but could also turn out much worse.
  4. Decorations: If you have a christmas tree hang ornaments and lights higher, so your dog won’t chew them or think they’re a toy. Also watch out for broken ornaments, especially if they are glass. Tinsel and ribbon can cause LOTS of problems. I have a friend whose dog ate tinsel and had to get surgery to remove it from their intestines. **GROSS ALERT: If your dog happens to eat ribbon or tinsel and tries to poop it out, but it gets stuck-DO NOT PULL IT. This can cut slit the intestines open. The only reason I know this is because this is what happened to my friend’s pup.
  5. Hide your presents…from your dog. Don’t leave the house with presents around. Dogs can smell chocolates or other food or candy wrapped up. Countless dogs get rushed to the emergency vet due to “finding” chocolates and candy, eating them all, and some of the wrappers.
  6. Keep the routine-Don’t stress out your pet. If you are busy continue to feed, walk and play with your pet around the same times if possible. Stress can lead to many health problems or behavior issues. A bored dog might find those presents, or rip up and eat those decorations.
  7. Have an escape plan…for your dog. If you are planning on having a holiday party at your house or brining your dog to another house, have a plan. Your dog may become overwhelmed. You might think, “Oh he’ll/she’ll be okay,”  but it’s always important to have a place your dog can relax or escape to if they become nervous or tired. Many kids/adults/other dogs may not want to leave your dog alone-be prepared to stand up for them. But really-if you think your dog may have a problem..DON’T even take them. Flooding them with too much at a time can create lifelong lasting problems…trust me.

There are many other things to think about such as keeping your tree anchored, keeping tree needles out of your dogs paws, not using flashing lights if your dog is scared, and keeping your dog away from loud noises.

As always avoid giving your dog foods they are allergic too and make sure no one else does. Avoid common foods that are toxic to them such as alcohol, chocolate, onions, grapes, coffee, caffeine, avocado, raisins, xylitol (sweetener used in gum, candy, baked goods, and toothpaste) and large amounts of salt.

Most of these things are commonsense to many people, but it’s always important to refresh your memory during such a busy time. Enjoy your holidays, keep your pup calm and happy and enjoy the time with your furry friends!


                                                                              Oreo and I wish you a happy holiday!574765_10150698253903348_1034283633_n


3 Years Old!!

Happy Birthday to Oreo! She is officially 3 years old (or so we think)!

Oreo when we got her.

Oreo when we got her.

Oreo was adopted from another couple at what we think was 8 weeks old-they couldn’t keep her. Although the people were polite, they claimed she was a king charles spaniel/west highland terrier mix adopted from a breeder. However, she is neither of those. When we picked her up she had no collar, no leash, no bed or toys, and was eating adult dog food. She always loved to sleep, even when we picked her up she was cuddled up to a heater in the house. However, she was also fearful, even as a puppy. We noticed as we put on her frontline tick medicine she hated it. She hated it so much it was horrible trying to get it onto her. She would back into a corner and snarl at us. We figured out she is reactive. She reacts to things she is scared of instead of running away.

She has made wonderful progress. She is still scared of new things and will never be comfortable with strangers in the house, but loves her family and friends intensely. She has learned to take things in stride, enjoy chewing on her bone, playing with close family & friends, and has finally learned the “Art of Relaxing”. Thanks to Ali Brown for wonderful reactive dog classes and my family and friends for being so patient and helpful. It’s not always about changing the dog, it’s more about changing your attitude, your outlook, and building a relationship with your dog. As I type this she is cuddling with her new stuffed gingerbread toy (or should I say unstuffed), laying against my legs napping. There was a time where we couldn’t even pet her she was so fearful.

I got her a new toy, which she gingerly tore apart, and filled her kong with extra yummy treats this morning. In the past I’ve taken her to places she loves like parks and my parents house to romp around. What do you do for your doggie’s birthday?

“The Perfect Stuffed Dog”


The custom pup that looks just like Oreo!

I am a fan of pinterest. Recently I stumbled upon a post with a picture of a pup that looks JUST LIKE Oreo. We always wondered where she came from and have never seen a dog like her. The first picture is of Oreo, and the bottom pictures are the pictures from the custom-made shelter pup someone else submitted (the dog looks just like her..especially when Oreo grows her hair out more, do you agree?) Okay, the dog on the buttom picture has more white, but same eyes, everything else, and the dog even has hair that browns like Oreo does around her face! I was immediately drawn in. I clicked the link ( ) , and saw a wonderful cause!

The main deal: The site offers custom-made stuffed dogs made from natural wool, handmade, and MADE IN AMERICA! You can send a picture in and get a stuffed dog that looks just like your pup! I have to admit, they are a bit expensive, but the money goes to a very high quality item, and money goes to help shelters, they are handmade, and made in America. They also have “shelter pups” which are a great gift for any dog lover or child (especially one that might really want to adopt a dog, but at the time you just can’t). They describe the dog’s activity level and give a story about the dog just like they are from a real shelter. After reading the description if you think you are interested you can click to rescue the dog (they each have a name).

The background: Theodora wanted a stuffed animal dog that looked like her dog. She couldn’t find anything like her dogs since they came from local shelters and were mostly mutts. She loves how mutts are so adorable, different, and lovable. She also wanted to help shelters. The site encourages people to volunteer at local shelters and donates money from your purchases.

I encourage all of you to look into the site especially if you have someone who would like it. I love it and I’m *hoping* Santa will bring me a shelter pup!

Urine Samples & How to Get Them From Your Pup


Getting urine samples isn’t the best table talk. However, many people don’t know how or why. I recently had to get a urine sample from Oreo for the first time. I thought “Oh no, this is going to be a big issue, with lots of training needed.” Luckily, my fearful dog was perfectly fine with it. The first thing I did when I realized Oreo had to get a urine sample was to explore advice on the internet.

Here is what I’ve found about different types of containers:

-Try using a container like a cleaned plastic container (such as a margarine container).

-Use a soup ladle and put the urine in a plastic bag.

-Use a small cup

-Ask your vet if they provide a container

-Use a saucer or small plate

-Use a coffee can

-Attach a long stick to a cup or container

-Use a jam jar

-Aluminum pie pan with a yard stick attached

There is an endless amount of creative examples. I went with the soup ladle and she didn’t seem to mind at all. I recommend getting the urine sample in the morning when the dog has lots of urine to get rid of! I also recommend wearing gloves.


There are many reasons your dog might need a urine sample. Most often dogs will tend to urinate often or will have trouble urinating and you will be asked to getthe urine sample. Urine samples can tell your vet lots of information about bladder issues, kidney problems, liver, pancreas, and other organs. In my case, we were checking the urine after getting over a UTI. We wanted to make sure it was gone. Vets check the color, cloudiness, and specific gravity of the sample. Additionally, they perform a chemical analysis. Sometimes they will do this at the vet office, while other times it will be sent away for further analysis. They will also sometimes examine heavier pieces of urine under the microscope. Never hesitate to get your dog the help he or she needs!