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Dog Books

6 Dog Books You’ll Love…Even if You Hate Reading

We all know that reading can sometimes be more of a chore than a pleasure.  So here are 6 highly rated dog books that are so enjoyable even the most hardened book hater won’t be able to put them down.  Please feel free to share your own as well!

Marley and Me by John Grogan

Even if you have seen the movie, the book is still a must-read.  I cry and laugh every time, and it really makes you appreciate your own dog’s quirks.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Author Jodi Picoult said this about The Art of Racing in the Rain: “The perfect book for anyone who knows that some of our best friends walk beside us on four legs. That compassion isn’t only for humans. And that the relationship between two souls meant for each other, never really comes to an end.”

James Herriot series by James Herriot

These books are not strictly about dogs. They are nonfiction collections of short stories about an English vet’s animal adventures in the countryside.  Dogs feature prominently, and they are so amusing and well written that I had to include them.  I highly recommend them.  This link will bring you to a collection of solely dog stories. I encourage you to read all his books though.

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

Your kids may have been required to read this book.  The depth of the characters and the quality of the writing is superb.  Like so many other books on this list, it never fails to make me cry, and I think we can all relate to dealing with a thunder-fearing canine!

Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero by Michael Hingson and Susy Flory

This is a simply incredible read.  I couldn’t put it down, and it opened my eyes to the incredible bond between guide dogs and their handlers, and the strength of the trust between them.

Dog On It: the Chet and Bernie series by Spencer Quinn

A series of books told from a failed police dog’s point of view, these mysteries are both fun and thought provoking.

 

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Fun Accessories for Dog People

Fun Accessories for Dog People

What fun accessories do you have that you love? There are so many options! It’s never the wrong time to be thinking about fun accessories for the dogs and dog people in your life. Or for yourself!  Below is a list of some accessories that might make your life a little easier:

 For the Hikers

fun accessories for hiking with your dogDo you take your dog hiking? This adorable doggy water bottle is available on chewy.com. Though advertised for car rides, they are also great for taking on hikes.  Yes, it is a little more to carry but all will appreciate the extra water, particularly in the North Carolina heat of the late spring and summer.  The best part?  It comes in three colors and retails for only $12.49.

fun accessories for dog walkers

Collapsible dog bowls are also a great option.  Made of an easy to wash rubber and available in several bright colors, they’re also fun accessories.  Great for road trips, they take up almost no space. They are perfect to stick into the pocket on the back of the car seat. Most come with a clip (carabiner.) It is super easy to clip onto a backpack or your own water bottle, and it is extremely light weight.  Most know the difficulty of trying to let a dog drink from cupped hands, and this inexpensive product spares you and the poor canine from the whole ordeal.

And last but not least, be sure to bring your pick up bags. These bags are earth friendly and available at REI. As a dog walker, I beg everyone to please pick up after your pet. These may not be fun accessories but they certainly are important!

What are your favorite items you take on hikes with your dog? Share them with me. Perhaps we will write another blog on this topic.

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How Not To Lose Your Dog

How not to lose your dog is an important topic and one that strikes fear in many of us dog lovers. This is one nightmare many dog owners have and if you ever have experienced it, you know what I’m talking about. Here are some precautions you can take to ensure you don’t lose track of yours AND how to be reunited with your dog as soon as possible in case he or she does go missing.

Tip #1 – MICROCHIP MICROCHIP MICROCHIP

 

how not to lose your dog

Microchip your pet

I cannot emphasize this enough.  Microchip your dog, cat, etc.  It is one of the best and surest ways that someone will be able to identify your animal in the event that you do lose track of him or her. This is really important too: make sure the microchip company has your UPDATED contact information. You need to contact them, give them your pet’s microchip number, your name, cell phone and all contact information so if your dog is lost, they know who the dog belongs to and how to contact you. You’ll get a tag from the microchip company that you can attach to your dog’s collar that will help identify him if he ever gets lost. Here is a link to one of the microchip companies.

 

Tip #2 – USE TAGS

Make certain your dog has a tag on his collar with your correct contact information.

Have a tag on your dog’s collar with updated contact information for you makes it much easier for someone to contact you if they find your dog. Only vets, shelters and animal control officers are able to check for a microchip, so the average person who finds your dog will be unable to reach you.  Additionally, who knows how long it will take said person to get your pet checked out by a vet or brought to a shelter to check and see if he has a microchip.  Having a tag allows you to get your pet back quicker with less trauma for both of you.

Tip #3 – STAY ON LEASH

How not to lose your dog

Keeping your dog leashed is important for dogs that don’t have a good recall.

You know your dog best, but if you  have any hesitancy about his or her recall ability, I suggest your dog remain on leash.  The world is incredibly interesting to our canine friends, and a fascinating smell could cause them to wander off and ignore your frenzied calls.

Tip #4 – CLOSE CAR WINDOWS

I completely understand how much dogs love open car windows.  However, there is always the chance that your dog may jump out at the sight of some enticing animal or other smell or sight and you don’t want to lose your dog this way.  The jump could injure him. It also means your dog is loose, often in an unknown area. Even worse if this were to happen in traffic, it could have a tragic ending.

Tip #5 – BE PROACTIVE

One of the biggest things you can do  to prevent your dog from getting out is to be proactive.  This means looking over your yard. Being careful at doors and other exits, and, most importantly, knowing your dog.

Tip #6 – SPAY AND NEUTER

Though this may not seem like an obvious way to stop your pet from getting lost. However neutering your pet prevents him from wandering around looking for a female.

Tip #7 – TECHNOLOGY

There are some awesome GPS trackers available that keep track of your dog’s location at all times.  While it is crucial to also microchip and tag your pet, these can give you great peace of mind. It is important to note that these should not be considered replacements for preventative measures like microchipping and tags.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts or other suggestions on how not to lose your dog.

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Dog Toys

dog walker and dog toysDog Toys for Tough Chewers

If anyone has had the opportunity to share their house with a tough chewer (ie. can destroy ANYTHING you put in front of them), then you share my pain.  Here is a comment from someone I know: My Chesapeake Bay Retriever has the jaws of a crocodile and can eat through pretty much any dog toy, whether it be rubber, rope, plush, etc. that we give her.  In fact, she is NEVER left unsupervised with any dog toy whatsoever because of her incredible ability to reduce anything to shreds and her tendency to then devour aforementioned shreds as a light snack.  As such, I wanted to share with you her two most indestructible and long-lasting dog toys. (Spoiler: not one of them is a stuffed toy – I have yet to find one that is a match for her). Moose pictured here is also a tough chewer and I can attest to the strength of the Kong Classic Shape Extreme X-Large. He has one!

  1. KONG Classic Shape Extreme X-Large

Not only is this toy one of the longest lasting, but it is also my dog’s absolute favorite.  She loves to carry it around in her mouth and will happily chew on it without any food inserts.  My one criticism is that my dog has recently started to chew bits off from the edge around the hollow part where food is inserted, simply because it is slightly thinner at this point.  However, this product has lasted significantly longer than any other KONG toys, and still lasts for several months.

Dog walker in Charlotte NC

  1. Dog Jolly Ball

So far, these dog jolly balls have stood up to the test.  The shape makes it impossible for her to chew through it like other toys, and she likes to knock it around with her paws.  Like the KONG, it is made of rubber and some dogs may not want to chew it because it has little taste.  However, I have found that the most voracious chewers will often gnaw on anything.

I did not include any bones or antlers in the list; although I have given them to my dogs in the past, I try not to now because of the risk of broken or splintered teeth that come from very hard chews.  If you would like to learn more about this issue, click on the following link:

https://www.drmartybecker.com/petconnection/deer-antlers-safe-dogs-chew/

I would love to hear about your favorite dog toys for voracious chewers, and any tips you might have for satisfying them.

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Pet Safety

pet safety

rescue dog Moose

Pet safety is something most of us don’t think about until we are forced to think about it. Hurricane Harvey striking the Texas coast has me thinking about it.

After Hurricane Katrina came ashore in New Orleans and the aftermath of destruction from all of the flooding, I joined an online group of volunteers trying to track down the displaced owners to help reunite them with their pets. In 2005, facebook didn’t exist. Many people didn’t use cell phones yet. Trying to track down people when their homes are flooded, the electricity is out and you have no idea where they went was a challenge. Our group was responsible for helping to reunite over 1000 pets with their owners.

Hurricane Harvey just struck the Houston area. The flooding after the storm reminds me so much of Katrina. People were caught off guard. Many had to abandon their homes in the middle of the night to save their lives and to save their kids lives. Some may have been forced to leave their pets. Some may have thought it wouldn’t be that bad and they’d be able to return soon. Just like Katrina, some Houston pet owners ended up leaving their pets behind.

I am not here to judge. I think until you are in that situation, you don’t know what you’d really do. I don’t have children whose safety I need to ensure so I’d like to think I would rescue my own dogs. But do you know what? My dogs weigh 80 and 90 lbs. I can’t carry either one of them and I certainly can’t carry them both. I can’t imagine if something happened in the middle of the night, there was no power so I couldn’t see and the water was rising. My heart breaks for the people forced to make these decisions. Instead of judging, we should say a prayer for them. Pray that their souls have peace because I know if I were ever forced to make these types of decisions, I don’t know that I could live with the guilt if I left.

Sadly some of the pets that died in Harvey were being rescued. They were in boats on their way to safety but some got washed overboard. Some got scared and jumped. What I would hope is that I would have enough warning to know if I might be in danger so that I could leave in advance with my dog. I don’t live in a flood zone but if I did, I would be one of the first ones out. I’d load up my car and hit the road to safe, higher ground.

pet safety in a storm

Moose and his dog walker 

So, what can we do to try and ensure our pet’s safety, follow these tips:

  1. Make certain your pet’s collars are on and that the information on the tags is up to date
  2. Microchip your pet. Make sure you contact the microchip company and register the chip to you. This is a free service. If you’ve moved or changed cell phones, contact the chip company and update your information.
  3. Have current copies of your pet’s vaccines. You might need them if you go to a shelter or hotel.
  4. Have enough water, food and medicine for you and your pet for several  days.
  5. Charge your cell phone.
  6. Fill your car with gas.

The biggest tip I have is to plan in advance. My thoughts are with everyone in the path of Hurricane Irma and I hope these pet safety tips help.

pet safety during a hurricane

My lab Moose

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Dog Photography in Charlotte NC

 

dog photography in Charlotte NC

Dog Photography is something I have grown to love. I started See Spot Run Dog Walking in 2009 and in 2016 I launched BARKography my dog photography company here in Charlotte. Here is a link to my dog photography website: BARKography.  I write at least one blog post / week on the site.  You can see some of my latest work there and read about my journey to become a dog photographer.

When I got my first camera, I knew next to nothing about dog photography. I actually didn’t even realize there was much to learn about photography. Early on I got really frustrated with myself and my camera. I didn’t understand why my photos weren’t any good and why they were frequently blurry. For those of you who try to take photos of your moving dogs with your phone, you know it’s hard. If they’re sitting still it’s easier (still hard but easier) but when they’re moving, it’s almost impossible to get a cell phone photo.

local dog photography

This is the image description

Fast forward to today and I am in love with dog photography. I love my camera. I love learning new things about photography and I love trying out new lenses. For my birthday, I got a lens that allows me to take really close up shots that are super sharp and clear. I love those types of photos: close ups of their eyes or their fur. I feel like I can see my dog’s soul through his eyes. I know I’ll cherish the photos that I’m taking of them forever.

I think cell phone photos are great. They’re great for capturing the moment but if you want to ever print out your photos, your cell phone photos aren’t going to look very nice. I’m a big advocate for printing your photos. Even before I got into photography, I’d print my photos. I have a zillion photos of my first 2 dogs Sam and Sloan but none of them are very good. I’m so glad that the photos I have of Willow and Moose are nice quality, printable photos.

I saw a stat recently that 20-30 year olds are the most photographed generation ever but their kids and grandkids won’t ever see photos of them in their younger years because all the photos are cell phone shots – the ones people never print.  There’s a hashtag #printyourphotos (I’m not making that up!)

If you’d like photos of your dog, contact me. Don’t wait. Time goes by too fast and you don’t want to have any regrets about not having decent photos of your furry kids.

local dog photographer

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Should You Hire a Dog Walker

dog walker

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Should you hire a dog walker? Have you asked yourself that question before? Perhaps you’ve not thought about it but my asking the question makes you wonder about it. My answer would be if you work during the day and you’re gone for more than 5-6 hours, then yes you should hire a dog walker. I’ll bet your dog would agree.

Certainly the younger, higher energy dogs benefit from getting walked. It’s good for them to burn some energy, stretch their legs and be mentally stimulated. Have you ever wondered if your dog gets bored when he’s inside the house? I do. I wonder if mine are and I’ll bet the answer is yes, there are times when they are bored. I”ll bet my dog Moose would prefer that I’d take him for a walk right now as a matter of fact and as soon as I’m done here I believe I will do just that!

In looking out for the well-being of our dogs, I think exercise is important. As a dog walker, I always take the weather into consideration and in the middle of the summer when it is hot and humid, I don’t recommend going on a long power walk with your dog but some exercise is still important. As a dog walker, I always assess each individual dog and take things into consideration such as his age and his health when I’m hired to walk him. I report back to the owner after each visit.

We always need to be aware of our dog’s health too and that’s something else your dog walker can assist with. As our dogs age, they might not be able to walk as far or as fast. Some might think they can so as their owner/dog walker we need to know when enough is enough. This time of year we need to watch out for hot pavement too. If the pavement is too hot for you to walk on barefoot, it’s too hot for your dog. If the sand on the beach is too hot for your bare feet, it’s too hot for your dog. These are all things that I think about when I’m out walking dogs.

Patricia McConnel wrote a blog post about “What Your Dog Walker Needs to Know.” She did extensive resarch on the subject. You can find her article here.

All of these things are things responsible, professional dog walkers should consider. Your dog’s well being is our #1 priority. We want to help keep your dog healthy and happy with daily exercise and fresh air! After all, a tired dog is a happy dog! Your dog and I think you should hire a dog walker. 🙂

hire a dog walker

 

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Snow Days

Snow Days

Buster and Buddy are two BARKography clients sporting their coats during our session.

Snow days in Charlotte are a big deal. The famous Charlotte weatherman Brad Panovich has starting making his #snOMG forecasts and that means the bread and milk aisles at the stores are already empty.  The following is a true story and personal testament about keeping your dogs warm when it is so cold outside.

Many of you have read stories about my previous yellow lab Sam. Sam was a dog that loved life. She was always happy, wasn’t fearful of much and generally was just a pretty balanced, happy go lucky dog. He LOVED the snow. He’d get the zoomies. If I leashed him and took him for a walk, he’d walk with his nose to the ground. His nose was literally plowing the snow as he walked along.

As he aged, he starting losing his muscle mass and he got skinnier. He reminded me of a frail elder man. He still loved the snow but I’d always put his coat on him whenever we went out because he would shiver. One particular snow day, he zoomed around and then rolled around on his back like he always did. We didn’t stay outside too terribly long but it was too long for Sam.

When we got back inside, he wouldn’t stop shivering. To the point that it scared me so I called the vet. They said that his internal body temperature had gotten too low and I needed to SLOWLY warm him up. They suggested putting a dry coat or sweater on him (which I had) and wrapping him in blankets. They suggested warming up some water with a little bit of broth in it so he’d drink it.

I did that and it worked but it scared me.

Please be careful with your pets in during snow days or even just in cold weather. They don’t know when enough is enough. You need to know that for them. Dry them off. Get any packed snow out of their paws. Clean off their paws if they’ve been on any salt.

Have fun in the snow but be safe. #dogsincoats

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Halloween and your Pet

This weekend many of us will celebrate Halloween and many of us will include our pets. I am photographing a dog Halloween contest and parade on Saturday at Social Pet in Pineville from 11-2pm. Come on out. I photographed the event last year and had a great time.

puppy in Halloween costume

Her name is Wash and she was a puppy when I met her last year. I’ll get to see her again on Saturday and I’m sure she’ll be a lot bigger!

However, keep in mind that not all pets like to wear costumes. My yellow lab Willow doesn’t like to wear anything. If it is raining and I put a coat on her, she freezes and won’t move. She doesn’t like the rain either but apparently she’d rather get wet than wear a raincoat.

If you try to dress up your pet for Halloween and you get a similar reaction from your dog, perhaps you should forgo the costume. My other dog Moose could care less about having a costume or coat on. However if he is around other dogs who have on costumes that even remotely resemble something he’d like to put in his mouth, he will. That’s another thing to think about if you have a crazy dog like my Moose.

Something else to remember: make sure your dog can’t get in the Halloween candy. Chocolate isn’t good for dogs – it can be fatal if enough of it is consumed and the wrapping that is on a lot of the candy can cause blockages. Keep the trick-or-treat bowl and your kids’ stash out of your dog’s reach. Your kids will be happier about that too, right? 🙂

On Monday evening my neighborhood will have a Halloween party in the cul-de-sac. There will probably be a few dogs there although I’m not sure if they’ll be dressed in costumes. This is our 2nd Halloween with Moose. This year we are forgoing handing out candy because Moose is a lot to handle with all that candy around and the doorbell constantly ringing. We’ll give out our candy at the neighborhood party. Have a safe and happy Halloween!

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Do Dogs Remember Each Other?

I’d love to know if dogs remember each other. I did a BARKography photo session earlier this week with Baxter, a dog that used to live in Charlotte and now he lives in Florida. I was introduced to Baxter and his family through my neighbor Tiffany. I’d done a photo session with Tiffany’s dog Jack and when Baxter’s parents saw the photos, they wanted to have a session with Baxter and they wanted to have photos of the 2 dogs together. The dogs used to play together all the time when they both lived in Charlotte.

I did an early morning session with just Baxter and later that day, I met up with Baxter at the Mint Museum and Jack joined us there. Seeing the two of them run around and play was a lot of fun.

do dogs remember each other

I’ve been thinking about it a lot since then and I wonder, do dogs remember each other? I have no scientific reasoning behind this but I think they do.

I know there are studies about a dog’s memory and many say dogs don’t remember things but I tend to question that. I think they remember certain things or events. When we rescued our black lab Buddy, he cowered if you lifted your hand over his head. I feel pretty certain he’d been hit in the past – he had to remember that and seeing a hand raised over his head made him remember being hit in the past, right? I can tell you over the last 6 years of his life, he was never hit again.

When Baxter and Jack saw each other, the first thing they did was sniff each other. There were a few other dogs around so they sniffed them all too but then they ran around together and played. I even captured a quick pic of Baxter giving Jack a little lick on his nose.

BARKography dog photography

I do think dogs remember each other. Perhaps it has something to do with their sense of smell. Perhaps they remember the dog’s scent. Seeing Baxter and Jack together was really sweet. I’m so glad I was there to witness it.

If you want to see more photos of Baxter, head over to my BARKography blog where I wrote a post about our time together.

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