Pet Care

How My Dog Taught Me to Walk

He’s Got Legs – He Knows How to Use ‘Em.

I am not, by nature, a physically “active” person. If I make it to the gym, it’s more out of guilt than interest, and the idea of hiking has always struck me as more of a punishment than a pastime. Nor am I particularly “outdoorsy” – if I had my way, entire summers would be spent in an air-conditioned mall, winters in cozy restaurants. It was only  a year and half ago, when I adopted Ringo, that I truly experienced the beauty outside my front door, the neighborhood, and others who embraced their dog walks with the same pleasure that I now know.

That’s right. I actually walk around now. Outside. Like, for a while, not just to the mailbox and back. Sometimes I even journey uphill, without using my car. How did this happen? Life is different now. I have company.

I never expected to become someone who walks. In fact, when I first made the decision to get a dog, I asked my sister (a long-time pack leader) if I really had to do the walking thing or if I could just let the dog out in a yard for relief a few times a day.

“No, you should walk your dog at least twice a day. Somewhere around a half an hour at a time, depending on the kind of dog.”

Honestly, I think my reaction was, “Ugh.”

My tune changed after my first meeting with Ringo. Our introduction included a one-on-one walk around the block, at the advice of his foster mom. I remember vividly looking down at how little he was, and how unsure he seemed of me. I held the leash firmly as he moved in a wiggly line, never looking at me but looking everywhere else.

I don’t think he cared for me at all, but I had fallen in love with him. The next evening, he was delivered to me for a week of trial adoption. That following Sunday morning marked the longest voluntary walk I had ever taken up to that point in my life. Ringo and I walked for forty-five minutes, up and down the hills of Glendale, California in the warm spring sun, and when we returned to my couch, he fell asleep on my chest. There would be more occasions to win his trust, but I can honestly say that our first long walk was also our first truly bonding experience.

These days, Ringo and I still walk twice a day. Schedule permitting, the duration varies, but I know we really get our health benefits when we stay out close to half an hour. I’m still human, and I’m still me; I’ve been known to dread having to take Ringo out but, just like when I go to the gym, I’m fine once we’re there.

In addition to giving us the outdoors and the world around us, the walk itself continues to define who we are to each other. I’ve never believed in owning an animal just because it’s cute, or just as a companion, or just to have something to feed and pet once in a while. I believe having a dog is a chance to create a relationship that serves both of us. I’ve spent countless hours training him to walk beside me, to stay calm when we stop at crosswalks, to not freak out when we encounter other dogs, as well as countless hours training myself to manage him correctly.

The air and flowers and grass and sunshine are a bonus (and yes, he does have a raincoat). I now actually know people in my neighborhood who smile and wave at me and Ringo as we walk by their houses. We’ve met other dogs who like to play and say Hello with a friendly sniff. And as Ringo gets good, hearty exercise, so do I. Over the years, the gym has seemed to migrate farther and farther out of my consciousness, and now the walks do their part to address my fitness. Significantly.

No matter how many walks we take, he never tires of them. As soon as I grab the leash off of its peg in the kitchen, Ringo’s tail wags excitedly. He just can’t wait to get out there. He sees a beautiful world when we venture beyond our front door.

I’m so grateful he showed it to me.


Japan’s missing animals – Best pet pics

Japan earthquake and tsunamiDue to Friday’s 9.0-magnitude earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent after shocks, Japan is suffering from what its prime minister is calling the “worst crisis since WWII.” The country’s northern coast has been totally devastated, leaving the land, the people and their pets in ruins. We want to share with you some pics and videos from Japan.

Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated, have fled or are missing, leaving their beloved animals to fend for themselves. Some people are reunited with their dogs and cats after the earthquake and tsunami hit, but many are still missing and trying to survive. The shelters and rescues are full of capacity and without volunteers and donations, many of these organizations won’t have the resources available to rescue these pets, leaving many with no hope for a new future.

Check out latest pet pics from Japan here!

Tsunami dogs stick together video.

World Vets’s are helping in Japan.

Help Japan’s people and animals to recover from this dramatic environmental catastrophe and tragedy in donating 5$ to the American Red Cross here. Thank you!


Breeds Pet Care Uncategorized

Spaying and Neutering

The Fix is In.

Forgive me if I get a little passionate about this… but at what point will people realize that spaying and neutering may be one of the kindest things they can do for their dogs, for all dogs, and possibly for our planet?

Around our neighborhood and at the dog park, I see a lot of “intact” dogs. Male, non-neutered ones, anyway; I have no sixth sense about the non-spayed females running around. I can only assume that neither are in short supply. It takes just one look at any animal shelter (I would say any “overcrowded” animal shelter but when was the last time you saw one that wasn’t overcrowded?) to see that pet overpopulation is a serious problem.

The sad fact is this: there is no real need to bring more dogs into the world. There is a need to find homes for all the dogs we’ve already got. There is also a need to educate people as to why spaying and neutering are humane ways to welcome these loving animals into our domesticated way of life. After all, if we wanted our dogs to live as they do in the wild, why would we adopt them into our lives in the first place?

First, let’s cross-examine some of those doggone MYTHS about spaying and neutering that keep people from taking this important step in pet ownership:

It’s unnatural to take away a dog’s ability to reproduce. To that I ask, “Piling up unwanted dogs in shelters, only to have approximately half of them wait for their inevitable death by euthanasia… is that so natural?”

It’ll harm a dog’s true personality. If anything, it will curb a dog’s more aggressive and roaming tendencies.

It’ll make a dog fat. No. Overfeeding and lack of exercise make a dog fat. So walk your dog, lazybones.

And GUYS… I’m begging you. As a fellow “guy” I assure you that neutering your male dog in no way affects his masculinity, or yours. Because there’s a lot of that insecurity going around (I once heard a guy at a dog park say he wanted his obviously non-neutered dog to stay a “real man”). Get off your testosterone-heavy high horse and think about the most generous gift you can give to the animals you say you care about, the right to find homes and warmth and caring.

Some excellent, life-affirming ADVANTAGES with spaying and neutering include:

Higher chances of longer, healthier lives. Spaying and neutering are the most preventative methods of combating uterine infections and breast and testicular cancer.

Better behavior. Neutered pets are much more trainable, obedient and considerate of their owners and families. Territory aggression, marking, all of that bull-in-a-china-shop behavior is significantly lessened with spaying and neutering.

Fewer homeless dogs in the world! That would be so wonderful… if every animal found a rightful and loving home.

There are a lot of resources you can take advantage of when you are taking this step in pet ownership or if you need to point someone else in this direction. Shelters will have information, your local community will feature information online, and details about low-cost spay/neuter programs figure prominently on the ASPCA website.

Whether you or someone else is making this inquiry, remember that each spayed/neutered animal not only benefits from the procedure but also prevents countless of unwanted lives being born into sad, unhealthy, futile conditions on streets and in shelters.

Love your dog; care for all of them. No dog should suffer from neglect. That’s up to us.

Pet Care

2nd week of Eukanuba food challenge

Hey packpeople out there,

the Eukanuba challenge weeks are not over and Lilly (French Bulldog) seems to be very happy with my new food choice (Naturally Wild, Venison & Potato). She always finishes her bowl very accurately. Samson checked the food as well, but he doesn’t want to eat it (he is very picky with food). I also feed a cup to the neighbors dog and he can’t wait till I put the bowl down (he gets bad food from Pedigree).

Here are Lilly’s results end of the 2nd week.
The food smells good when I open the very stylish designed 30 lbs. bag.
Her defecation is smaller than before we started and it has a good texture and a dark brown color, which is good. She had no diarrhea after the food change and I’m feeding her just the dry food at the moment.
I can’t see any other changes yet. Her coat is the same (she could use a bath), no allergic reactions (thank god) and her energy is the same.
She is the same old Silly-Lilly.

Let’s see, if we can notice something end of week 3.

Pet Care Uncategorized

Dogs and Dental Hygiene

Brushing Up the Pup!

Ringo and I are fairly social animals – and by that I mean that we are around other people, as well as each other, much of the time. This requires a healthy adherence to certain social graces; we clean up our messes, we don’t jump on people (unless invited) and teeth and breath must always be maintained to a pleasant standard.

That’s right, I want Ringo to have a clean mouth at all times. He snuggles with a lot of people (when not aloof, he’s a snuggler), and who among us has not regretted getting too close to a dog whose breath reeks of old kibble and salmon oil? That won’t play in our house. We brush and freshen.

Before I got a dog, I hadn’t given a thought to brushing a pet’s teeth. Then Ringo’s foster mom shared with me that his teeth had been badly neglected before his rescue, and that he required brushing and dental treats on a regular basis. I’m happy to say that his teeth are in great shape today (the vet said so), due in no small measure to regular brushing.

Some people recommend brushing your dog’s teeth every day, some say at least once a week. For some unknown reason, history has proven that smaller dogs are generally more susceptible to teeth and gum problems than larger breeds, and require more frequent brushing; in any case, ask your vet what’s appropriate for your dog. Whatever the routine, finding a toothpaste that your dog will appreciate is key, as is the fact that most products are available with flavors dogs love.

Ringo’s been quite happy with Four Paws Pet Dental toothpaste in Beef flavor. As soon as I pull it out of the cupboard, his tail wags and he sits patiently – I can’t tell you how easy this makes brushing his teeth. We use a finger toothbrush, a rubbery, bristle-textured piece that slips over the tip of my finger and gently cleans his teeth as I brush them in a back-and-forth motion; sides, front, uppers and lowers (a dog’s tongue naturally takes care of the inside surfaces of their teeth). You and your dog may prefer a more traditional-style toothbrush; we use the finger toothbrush because it’s easy to use for his small size.

I just now got really curious and tasted the toothpaste. To me it tastes less like beef than cake frosting, neither of which displease me. I can see why Ringo likes it.

Toys, chews and treats play an important part in a dog’s dental health and hygiene. In addition to the occasional rawhide and bone, Ringo really enjoys something called Ark Naturals Breath-Less Brushless Toothpaste. It’s not a paste, but a chewable, rice-based treat shaped with ridges and formulated with breath-friendly ingredients like cinnamon and cloves. He loves the flavor, and I love that they can be easily broken into smaller pieces. This makes them ideal for use in his treat ball, and I can get the most use out of each bag.

So while it’s rare that anyone wants to be surprised by a dog baring teeth (“nice doggy… NICE doggy…!”), you do want to make sure that yours is properly guarded from excess bacteria, tartar, plaque and gum disease. Make dental care a priority for your pet, complementing your home routine with veterinary exams and cleaning. This is just one of the responsibilities a PackPerson should feel honored to handle. Remember, they’re depending on us to do what’s best for them.

And if fresh breath comes along for the ride, that’s a bonus!

Adoption Pit Bulls

Video: Misperception and misunderstanding of bully breeds:

Look beyond the breed and give Pit bulls and Pit bull mixes a chance. Discover a dog with a fantastic disposition. Watch the video Pit proud provided by

Adoption Uncategorized

Shedding Light on Black Dog Syndrome

It’s not a myth. It’s a problem!

Being a PackPerson doesn’t mean I’m a dog expert. I may even be behind the pack in certain areas, but I’m learning new things all the time. It’s important to share that with you because we at PackPeople want you to share with us your discoveries and insights, one of the best ways to strengthen our community of fellow dog-owners and appreciators. So let me blab a little about something I only recently learned about: Black Dog Syndrome.

Okay, everyone else in the world may have already heard about this, but pardon me… this is Seriously. Freaking. Me. Out.

There is an actual stigma attached to black dogs! So much so that they are the least adopted color from shelters and suffer the highest rate of euthanasia. It already astounds me that color lines should still exist among people; but among people in regard to animals as well?

C’mon, people. What are we? Animals?

I found out about this while browsing through pet adoption sites, with a couple of ads urging potential adopters to sidestep the dreaded “Black Dog Syndrome” and give homes to the adorable dark-hued doggies who needed love just as much as their fair-furred shelter mates. It surprised me that this was a problem, perhaps because I’d known several well-loved black dogs throughout my life, so I did a little research on it (thanks, Google – man’s other best friend), a few highlights of which I’ll share with you right now:

Superstition can play a part. For many people, black dogs, like black cats, evoke impressions of bad luck.

Negative stereotypes also label black dogs as evil; large black dogs are often portrayed as aggressive and dangerous in movies, helping to feed the interrelated prejudice against “BBD”s (Big Black Dogs).

Facial features/expressions of black dogs do not register well in photographs, nor are they showcased in dimly lit shelters, causing them to be tragically, often fatally, overlooked.

Black dogs are often considered plain, ordinary-looking, which to me is a big doggy bag full of bunk. My little Ringo is black, and cuter than a cartoon bunny rabbit driving a toy car. So there.

So many dogs are in need of homes that its important we consider all of them, and to tell our friends when looking to adopt a dog to do the same. Fortunately, there are several Web sites devoted to the fight against Black Dog Syndrome. One site in particular,, does a beautiful, passionate and highly detailed job of sharing information and enlightenment in this area.

Sadly, the most black dogs I’ve ever seen in any given place were at the various shelters I visited when I was looking for a pet, something I’d completely forgotten until writing this entry. It’s only now that I, someone with a black dog, can recall the scarcity of other black dogs when I’m out and about, at the dog park, at the groomer, at the pet store. Now I know where they are: in shelters, waiting for homes.

Spread the word and help shed some light on the world’s many homeless black dogs. They just need a little more of it to be seen, and once they are, they’ll get the chance to show just how loving, loyal and beautiful they can be. As much as a dog of any color.


Dry food challenge: Lilly’s Eukanuba 28 Days challenge

Hey packpeople out there,

Lilly is attending the 28 – DAY Eukanuba Challenge from today on. Lilly is 2 years old, healthy, very active and happy french bulldog and she is ready to try this food and let you know on a weekly basis. DAY – 1 is today, Friday 25-02-2011. Our food arrived yesterday and we’re excited to give Eukanuba a chance. Usually I feed Blue Buffalo for dogs.

The mailman dropped the box in front of our house, yelled something to me and disappeared in his van. There is this big box in front of our house and I knew what’s in it, so I dragged it into the house and my dogs came by to inspect the invader. They sniffed the box and they already knew that, there is food in it. Yes, I saw the sign on the top of the box “Do not open with sharp object”, but I pulled out my sharp knife and cut the box, of course I cut to deep and I cut a little of the food package.

I was surprised how nice and appealing the design of the food package was. One point for the packaging, but how is the product? With Samson and Lilly we opened the 30lb bag of dry food. I choose Wild New Zealand Venison and Potato formula, because I wanted to stick to my principles to feed my dogs natural balanced or holistic food and I thought this is the best choice of what Eukanuba was offering on their website. I’m always a little skeptic with new food. First ingredient is Vension, but what about the others…let’s see what we have. This is how Eukanuba is advertising on their website, I couldn’t find the detailed list of ingredients on the website first:), but I found them on the back of the package:

Venison, Potato, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, Brewers Rice, Ground Whole Grain Barley, Chicken Meal, Fish Meal, Dried Egg Product, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), Dried Beet Pulp, Natural Flavor, Brewers Dried Yeast, Potassium Chloride, Fish Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), Dicalcium Phosphate, Salt, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Ascorbic Acid, Beta-Carotene, Vitamin A Acetate, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (source of vitamin B1), Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement (source of vitamin B2), Inositol, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (source of vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Choline Chloride, Fructooligosaccharides, Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Carbonate), DL-Methionine, Rosemary Extract.

And this is how Eukanuba is advertising for this food on the website:

  • Venison as the #1 Ingredient: 100% Real venison provides an excellent source of protein that helps promote strong, lean muscles. That’s why it’s the #1 ingredient.
  • Healthy Carbohydrates: Potatoes are rich in minerals and are an excellent source of highly digestible carbohydrates that help maintain healthy energy levels.
  • Natural Prebiotics: Natural FOS (fructooligosaccharides) works in your dog’s digestive tract to support strong defenses.
  • Antioxidants:Made with a unique antioxidant blend including vitamin E to help dogs stay healthy and live long lives.
  • Only the Good: No Fillers, corn, or artificial preservatives.
  • DentaDefense®: Clinically Proven to reduce tartar by up to 55%.

I opened the bag and a nice and pleasant smell came out of it, the dogs sniffed more excited and started to beg for it. I heard that this food is very new on the market and couldn’t find reviews about it. Small sized kibbles and a nice texture, not very different from the other foods I know. The appearance is nice as well (a dark brown). What does Lilly think about this food? For the first 3 days I’m going to add just a cup of it to her food to let her digestive system get prepared for the new food. After day 3 I’m going to feed her only the Eukanuba food. I gave her a handful after I made my opinion and had my first impression, she ate it right away and liked it. I poured a half cup in her bowl added her normal food and the fish oil…she sniffed and ate it without any kind of prudential complaints. I like the feeling when my dogs finish their bowls and look at me satisfied. I’m always feeding once a day in the evening and I add Omega 3 fish oil.

Adoption Pet Care Uncategorized

Senior Dog Care

In Praise of Adopting Older Dogs.

I want another dog! Not instead of my little Ringo, I mean in addition to him. To be honest, I don’t know when this will happen, I just know that one day it will. And like any happy daydream, I think about it deeply, and often.

I’d thought a lot about the dog I wanted before I found Ringo, not yet a year old, online in a rescue ad. I was immediately drawn to him, even if he was quite different from what I’d had in mind (and isn’t the love of your life always a little different from what you’d imagined?). He wasn’t at all the fluffy, friendly little Norwich Terrier I’d pictured (I was incredibly fixated on those little Ewoks); instead, he’s a sleek, long, black-and-tan thing that sheds like crazy and regards strangers with skepticism, if not downright suspicion. But he is my best little friend, and I wouldn’t trade him for any other dog in the world. It’s the experience of our finding each other that has taught me the beauty of staying open-minded when seeking a pet, as with anything.

A couple of years ago, my sister adopted a neglected, overweight, unhealthy 10-year-old German Shepherd. She was found tied with a rope to the back of an abandoned car. As I’m fairly new to the dog owning world, and I hadn’t yet adopted Ringo at that time, I only viewed the experience in poignant terms. At worst, Bella had a few short years left. At best, Bella had a few short years left. Remember, I wasn’t familiar with the total joy of having a dog at that time. I just saw a hundred pounds of grim mortality.

Two years later, Bella is as content to be in my sister’s care as my sister is to have her. They walk everywhere; Bella comes to work with her. Bella is markedly healthier and trimmer now, and kind and gentle to all she meets. There is a universal beauty to this; of living a new and happy life while experiencing its second half. To participate in giving this joy to a dog is a true example of loving an animal.

So, when the time comes I will truly consider adopting an older dog. There are dogs of every age who need homes, and as dog lovers, we need to embrace the merits of the seniors among the canine homeless just as we recognize the cuteness and energy of their puppy brethren.

A few of the known advantages of adopting an older dog are:

  • A likelihood of having some house/behavioral training
  • A likelihood of prior socialization
  • Temperament is more predictable than in a puppy
  • Lesser chance of indiscriminate chewing
  • Greater chance of a calmer household (if that’s what you want)

Maybe some of you Packpeople out there have your own thoughts and experiences to share on the subject. We here at the home offices urge you all to spread the word of the positive experiences you’ve had in this area, so that more people are aware of the joys and benefits of adopting a canine who’s already seen a few years. If any of you have experience in adopting a retired service dog, we’d enjoy hearing your comments on that as well.

We all need love, no matter how old we are… and the best way to get it is to give it!

News Pet Care

Lost Dog – Simi Valley, CA – Search Troop on this weekend




I was hiking with my dogs this morning in Porter Ranch area off the 118 Freeway and saw a lost dog flyer.
Cracker got lost on Sunday, she is a 10 year old curly coated brown Retriever.
NEEDS SPECIAL FOOD! She got lost on a hike from her owner Don.
The owner is COMPLETELY heartbroken and has been out there every day to look for her.

Cracker was wearing a collar/tags and is microchipped.


Please let me know and I will put you in touch with the owner. If you can’t come out, please pray or send positive energy for Cracker!!!

Thank you,

Ingrid – Pacific Coast Rescue
310 480 6030