Thursday, March 29, 2012

Letter from Palm Springs: Welcome to Our Family, Pixie! & A Dog-Friendly Oasis in the Desert

As many of you know, my 16-year-old Bichon gal, Casey Jane, passed away on December 19th, 2011. It was a very painful decision for me and one that I was not ready for, even though my gal was. It was very peaceful for her and although my heart shattered into a million pieces that day, nearly four months later it is very slowly starting to heal.

This leads me to my next topic: the introduction of Pixie to our little family. After Casey was gone, our home felt very empty with just Finnigan all by his lonesome, but I wasn’t ready to get another dog right away. At that time I felt like I was replacing Casey and couldn’t bear the thought of forgetting her.

As the weeks went by I realized that nothing would ever make me forget her and although I was broken-hearted, we had room in our home and our hearts to love another little Bichon Frise in need. Thus began my search for another “mature” Bichon gal to join our family. We put in an application with Small Paws Bichon Rescue and waited...

On February 7th, 9-year-old, Pixie flew all the way from Chicago, by herself, direct to Palm Springs where we were waiting to bring her home to her new life. It was very emotional for me to meet this Bichon girl for the first time. She was sweet and friendly and even after hour upon hour in a crate all by herself, her tail was wagging. We opened the door and out she popped, happy as could be!

Pixie became part of the family from the moment she arrived and has also started to steal a piece of my heart. I still cry over the loss of my Casey, sometimes every day, but Pixie is helping me heal and has become a wonderful companion to our boy, Finnigan who was lonely and anxious without Casey.

We are fortunate to spend our winters in Palm Springs which is extremely dog-friendly. Dogs are allowed in many restaurants which is wonderful. There are many events that are dog-friendly with the purpose of raising funds for causes from animal adoptions to guide dog services.

This past few weeks saw Pixie and Finnigan attend two such wonderful events with me:

The first was “Yappy Hour,” on the patio of the delightful Aqua Pazza Restaurant in Rancho Mirage. Leslie Kennedy, editor of B.C’s Pet Connection Magazine and her little dog, Baby Jazz, were our companions for the afternoon. Yappy Hour’s theme for March was The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party raising funds for the organization “Loving all Animals.”

Loving all Animal’s president, Lindi Biggi, works tirelessly encouraging people to adopt animals in order to decrease the number of homeless animal companions languishing in shelters. Sadly, thousands of adoptable animals are euthanized in local shelters here in the Palm Springs area alone. The mission of Loving all Animals is simple: To bring the beautiful shelter dogs and cats out of the shelters and into loving homes!

The afternoon was a delight for the people and dogs attending. An afternoon of socializing on a gorgeous patio, sipping wine and nibbling on great eats with your best pal at your feet, plus wonderful raffle prizes and fun gifts for the winners of the best “hat” contest.

Loving all Animals hosts “Yappy Hour” on the third Thursday of every month. We will be sure to attend and support April’s Yappy Hour at Augusta Restaurant on El Paseo Drive before heading home to Vancouver. Go to for further information as well as upcoming events on this amazing organization.

The second event we attended was the Grand Opening of Cold Nose Warm Heart, a fabulous gift store for pet lovers, which opened their second location on El Paseo. A portion of all purchases from their March 17th opening were generously donated to several animal rescue organizations. Naturally I had to buy these adorable his’n’hers sailor tees for the kidlets!

March 17th also marks the start of Fashion Week on El Paseo and Cold Nose Warm Heart got into the spirit of it all by sponsoring “Le Chien ~ A Celebration of Dogs and Fashion” under the big white tent. Pooch pampering, kibbles and champagne, runway fashion and special performances by stunt dog trainer and author Kyra Sundance were the big draws here.

The Grand Opening, within their lovely dog-friendly new store, saw Pixie, Finnigan and I entertained by glass artist, Janice Osborne, creating beautiful fused glass pet sculptures, animal communicator Terri Steuben, and chatting in great depth with author Maggie Espinosa about her book The Privileged Pooch: Luxury Travel with your Pet in Southern California. Maggie and her Bichon dog Marcel, personally signed a copy of their book for us. The Privileged Pooch is chock-full of tips on where to stay with your dog, as well as great dog-friendly places to eat and shop and fun things to do throughout Southern California. This little book will be part of all our future travel plans. You can follow Maggie and her dog Marcel at

Pixie, Finnigan and I do appreciate how truly dog-friendly it is here in warm, sunny Palm Springs and hope that some of our archaic rules and bylaws back home in Vancouver can be updated to allow our pets to accompany us on the many restaurant patios throughout our fair city.

The Three Biggest Puppy Training Mistakes

Getting a puppy is a big responsibility. It’s up to you to bring him up right, all the way from a tiny little ball of fur into a loving and well-behaved adult dog. This means taking care of them, raising them right, and making sure they are healthy and happy. That’s why the biggest worry we hear when someone is planning on getting a puppy is “What if I make a mistake?”

If you ask yourself this question, let all of us at Love on a Leash congratulate you: you are already taking a huge step towards being a good dog owner! If you care enough to worry about making mistakes, then you are on the road to doing the right thing. It shows that you really care about raising your new family member in the right way. The more you know about your puppy, the better you will be able to deal with any situation that comes your way. And the better behaved pooch you will have down the road.

To help you have a well-adjusted, social and well-behaved dog, following are three common mistakes that we see puppy owners make:

Beginning the potty training in the home.

Many dog owners start potty training their puppies in the home using pads and newspapers. This is sometimes necessary while the pup is still too young to go outside, but if at all possible, all bathroom training should be done outdoors rather than anywhere inside your home. Why? Because your puppy will not carry the training information outdoors into a new environment. Many pet owners assume that once their puppy grows up he will begin to go outside on his own. This is NOT the case! If you teach your dog to go inside the house, he will go inside the house -- and more than likely, all over your house -- forever! Train your puppy to go outdoors where you will expect him to go when he’s older, and he will learn faster and easier.

You might have heard about crate training. This is a very humane, safe, and effective way to train your dog and reduce potty accidents. Dogs do not like to potty inside their personal space which is what a crate represents to them: a safe haven, that is all their own. Remember that a dog who has been taught to use the indoors as his bathroom will be socially unacceptable in other people’s homes and probably won’t be much fun to live with, either.

Letting your puppy do things you won’t want him to do as an adult.

This one can be hard to do because puppies are so adorable. Anything they do is cute, from biting your hand or pant leg to pouncing on people. But think it through: an adult dog biting and pouncing on people is not fun, especially if it’s a large breed. This is often the result when dogs are allowed to display unwanted behaviors when they are puppies. No matter how cute their gnawing on your finger may be, you need to step back and tell your pup “no.” If you don’t want your dog to sleep on your bed, sit on the furniture or bark at passing cars, don’t let him do it when he’s little. Your puppy will carry into adulthood everything you teach him now, so make sure you set clear boundaries.

Changing your puppy's food the day you get him home.
Many new puppy owners experience dismay when their puppy displays signs of sickness on their first days home. More often than not, the puppy is feeling sick because it was fed a new food. If you want to avoid this mistake, ask the previous owner of your puppy what kind of food he is feeding the puppy, and make sure to have the same kind of food on hand at least for the first while. If you want to switch your puppy’s food to something else, you will need to do so gradually or your puppy may feel sick, will likely throw up or end up with a nasty case of diarrhea which is no fun for anyone.

To change the brand of dog food your puppy (or adult dog) eats, first feed him only the old food. Then begin mixing more and more of the new food in with the old food until only the new food is left. If your dog does get diarrhea that does not clear up after a few days, change the food again as no dog, either puppy or adult, should have runny stool ever. It is a clear indication that what you are feeding is not agreeing with their digestive system.

In the end, just remember: you can’t be prepared for everything, however knowing the biggest blunders pet owners make is the best way to avoid them. Keep asking questions, and keep being a great dog owner.

We at Love on a Leash Trusted Dog Care have years of experience as dog owners and have taken many classes in canine psychology, dog behavior and training, as well as canine nutrition and canine first aid. We strive to help our clients ensure their dogs are happy and healthy not only in our care, but when they return home to you, too!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Dogs and People: What is the Age Comparison?

If your dog is five years old, that means he is the same physiologic age as a 35-year-old person, right? Well, actually not. The theory that every year in a dog’s life is the same as seven years in ours is commonly known but unfortunately not very accurate.

For example, a one-year-old beagle has passed puberty. A seven-year-old child likely has not. A seven-year-old Mastiff is considered geriatric, but a 49-year-old person is not.

For a more accurate comparison between physiologic age of dogs, follow this formula:

A one-year-old small or medium-sized dog is about 15 human years old. When the dog reaches two, he is the equivalent of a 24-year-old person. After that, each year is about four human years. This means that a nine-year-old dog is about the same as a 52-year-old person.

Large and giant breed dogs initially age slower but then age quickly. At one year of age, he is about the same physiologically as a 12-year-old child. After that, each year follows the standard seven human years.

Life expectancy in dogs depends on many things. Just as in humans, no one can predict how long an individual person or pet may live. Smaller dogs typically live longer than large breed dogs. Dogs under 20 pounds live to be around 15-18 years of age. Giant breed dogs have the shortest life span, ranging from 6-9 years.

The average canine life span is around 12 years but differs from breed to breed. By the time most dogs reach seven years of age, they are entering their senior years. For giant breed dogs, five years old is considered the beginning of old age. The record for the longest canine life span is 29 years.

How to Help your Dog Adjust to a Divorce

Sometimes relationships don’t work. The family dog is often affected by tension, sadness, and chaos that may exist in their home and all of these emotions can be present when a divorce is inevitable. Remember that your dog is used to everyone in the house and may still be extremely bonded to both adults. Both adults may also be tightly bonded to the dog. When ties are disrupted it can stress your dog and while there is no perfect solution to help your dog adjust, there are steps that can be taken to ease the transition.

Here are a few tips to help your dog adjust:
  • When leaving the house, don’t make a big deal out of it. Simply say goodbye and close the front door calmly. This will help your dog remember that separation is not something to be anxious about.
  • Keep your dog on a good schedule that is fairly consistent. Routines ease anxiety in pets and also help you manage your own time better.
  • If you share custody of the dog, keep a schedule that works for both of you, and try to stick with it as best as possible. Once again, when meeting and departing, keep calm so your dog need not become anxious over one of you going the other way.
  • If your pet seems bored, is becoming destructive or could use more exercise than you’re able to accommodate, consider enrolling them in doggie daycare. It will change the routine if your dog has never done this before, but will likely change it for the better. Your dog can spend the day playing and socializing rather than being home alone. If the divorce was tense, this may also help ease that tension because you could drop the dog off in the morning and your ex can pick the dog up in the evening or vice versa. Alternatively, a daily dog walker can come into your home and get your dog out walking each day to help alleviate any boredom they may be experiencing while you are at work. The exercise is great for your dog and you don’t have to panic about getting home if you get caught up a little later at work.
Remember to try and keep your dog’s well-being first and foremost. Break ups are tough and so is sharing a dog. If your relationship with your ex remains amicable then it can work, but if that is not possible, seriously consider who is best able to care for your dog full-time, even if that person is not you, and let the best caregiver retain permanent custody.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Figgy’s Custom Chicken, Rice and Cheese Dog Treats

My darling senior bichon, Figgy, has a problem with bladder stones and is on a severely restricted diet. I wrote to the always fantastically helpful Jodi of Kol’s Notes and asked her for help coming up with treats that Figgy can both handle and enjoy.

Here’s a link to our exchange, as well as the recipe Jodi cooked up, on the Kolchak Puggle blog though with Jodi’s kind permission, we’re running the recipe and her photos here, as well.

Thanks, Jodi! Figgy is ever so happy with his healthful and delicious treats!

Chicken, Rice and Cheese Dog Treats

1 cup cooked, chopped chicken chunks or other lean meat, like pork loin or fish
1 cup cooked white rice or cooked peas
1 cup shredded cheese or other flavour booster, like asparagus
3 tablespoons white rice flour or pea flour
1/3 - 1/2 cup low-fat, low sodium chicken stock
1 tablespoon dry cilantro or basil (optional)
Preheat oven to 350F.

Place chicken and rice into a blender, food processor or Magic Bullet. Add chicken stock a little a time until it forms a very thick paste. (You might not need all the stock.)

Stir in cheese and rice flour.

Spread mixture into a 9x9 silicone cake pan or a wax paper lined regular pan.

Score the treats into one-inch squares using a pizza cutter or a knife. (This will make it much easier to break them into bites later.)

Bake the treats for 45 minutes. If you like a soft treat, remove from oven and allow to cool. If you prefer a crunchy treat, flip them and bake them for another 30 - 45 minutes.

Oh, Figgy, I hope this helps. We’re going to keep you in mind when we make new treats and we'll make sure we mention if they’re Figgy-Friendly!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Move over, Winter… Spring Has Sprung at Bow Wow Haus!

This just in from our good pals at Bow Wow Haus:
Spring might not officially arrive until later this month, but at Bow Wow Haus, it’s already here!

Made of organic cotton and in gorgeous pastel-y prints, these beautiful handmade collars and leashes from the USA scream “Bye Bye Winter!”

Attention four-legged fashionistas -- these cute graphic tanks and bold, blingy tees will chase away the winter blues!

Come and visit any of our three locations and check out what else we’ve got in store for Spring!