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Underdog Blog

Best Treats for a Dog Party Day

Sabrina Ortiz

By Amber Kingsley


When you are throwing a dog party, the food you serve needs to be a little different than for a normal party. You have to take your four-legged friends into account and make sure there are treats they can eat. You can buy these treats from the our friends at Howl to the Chief or if you're more crafty, you can make your own. In this article, we will provide you with a list that will show you which treats to buy and how to make dog treats at home!

Before you buy or make treats, check with your guests to see if their dogs have any dietary restrictions. You don’t want anyone to be left out, so take allergies and diet into consideration. Even if your guests don’t need special food considerations, try to keep your snack choices healthy. Treats that contain peanut butter, yogurt, berries, or dog safe meat are good to look for. Remember, dogs can’t have specific foods like onions, grapes, or chocolate, so avoid those ingredients.


Store Bought

When shopping for dog treats at the store look for all natural, grain free, and preservative free treats. Look for treats without filers that are generally made from a single ingredient. These chews, bones, crunchies, and jerkies are great for dog and will keep them occupied for hours. Some dental chews even help keep your dogs teeth healthy and clean.


Homemade dog treats are a great way to celebrate at a dog party. Making the treats yourself adds a nice flair to the party. If you are going to make your own dog treats, you can add color to make the treat more festive. However, be sure to use natural colorants to keep the treats safe for your dogs. Coloring can be added to any of the treat recipes listed below.

Oatmeal Banana

This first doggy treat comes from A Magical Mess and only calls for 4 ingredients!


●     1 Tablespoon peanut butter

●     1 Tablespoon fat-free plain Greek yogurt

●     1 Overripe banana

●     1 Cup oatmeal


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

  3. Mash overripe banana in a bowl.

  4. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

  5. Let the mixture rest for about 10 minutes.

  6. Roll mixture into 1″ balls and place on your cookie sheet.

  7. Flatten them just a tiny bit.

  8. Bake for 15 minutes.

  9. Let cool completely before serving.

Chicken Pops

These next treats include meat, sure to make your dog happy. However, if your dog prefers a different meat, ingredients can be swapped to their liking!


●     1 Chicken Breast, cooked and chopped

●     2 cups chopped berries (blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries)

●     1 cup water


  1. Mix all ingredients and puree in a blender until smooth.

  2. Pour into molds and place in the freezer.

  3. Freeze for 8 hours.

  4. Run warm water around the mold to remove.

Apple Crunch

When you want a crunchy treat for your dog, look no further than this concoction from Pawsh.


●     1 or 2 moderately sized apples .

●     1/2 cup of plain, unsweetened yogurt

●     2 tbsp Brewer’s yeast

●     An ice cube tray


  1. Wash apples and cut into pieces.

  2. Stir Brewer’s yeast into yogurt.

  3. Spoon yogurt mixture into an ice cube tray.

  4. Press one piece of apple into each section.

  5. Leave overnight to freeze.

  6. Once frozen solid, pop out a frozen cube.

  7. Feed to your furry friend!

Baby Food Dog Treats

If you happen to have extra baby food lying around, here is a great way to repurpose it for your pup. However, make sure there aren’t any harmful dog ingredients within the food.


●     2 cups 100% whole wheat flour

●     2 4 oz. jars of any flavor pureed baby food


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°.

  2. Mix the flour with the pureed veggies (or baby food) to form a stiff dough. If it's too sticky add flour. If it's too stiff, add some water.

  3. Roll out the dough until it's about 1/4" thick.

  4. Use a cookie cutter to cut out the cookies.

  5. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.

  6. Place the treats about 1/4" inch apart on the cookie sheet.

  7. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes.

  8. We store ours in a dog cookie canister and it sometimes makes the cookies softer but the dogs like them that way.

  9. They keep for up to two weeks.


Become an RDR Volunteer During National Volunteer Week

Sabrina Ortiz

By Katie Walsh

So, it’s three months post-holidays, the weather is slowly getting warmer, and you’re feeling restless after a long winter in the house. Well, I have good news for you: Did you know April 7-13 is National Volunteer Week, a week designed to highlight the various opportunities for volunteering all across the country? And even luckier for you, Rural Dog Rescue has a ton of fun, easy opportunities for volunteering. You can find an outlet for your restlessness AND rack up some good karma points, all while helping some adorable pups find forever homes.

Opportunity 1: Hold leashes at adoption events.

This is probably the lowest commitment level out of any of the opportunities, and one of the most fun! Every weekend (weather permitting), Rural Dog Rescue’s adoptable pups gather outside the Howl to the Chief pet store in an adoption sidewalk show, and RDR always needs some folks to hold the dogs’ leashes.


It’s fairly easy to do and is only an hour or two out of your weekend. And you get to snuggle a dog for that time -- what could be better than that!

Opportunity 2: Help staff Rural Dog Rescue fundraising events.

This past weekend, Rural Dog Rescue sponsored a scavenger hunt and photoshoot that raised money to help continue their work. It’s one of many events they put on throughout the year, and they always need people willing to help out!


There are happy hours, 5Ks, photo shoots and more -- my favorite being the costume contest at Halloween -- that you can participate in. Just check the events calendar and sign up!

Opportunity 3: Be a foster for an adoptable dog.

If you want to do a little more for Rural Dog Rescue, then you can apply to foster a dog and help it adjust to family life ahead of being adopted. Often, this means teaching the dog to walk on a leash, house training, and other activities that help dogs learn, well, how to be a dog! You’ll also be required to bring the dog to adoption events and provide summaries about his/her behavior to potential adopters.


**Disclaimer: Fostering a dog may result in becoming a foster fail/adopting the dog yourself. Take it from me -- this is how I ended up with two dogs! Don’t say you haven’t been warned!

Opportunity 4: Volunteer digitally.

Can’t have a dog in your home for whatever reason? Rural Dog Rescue also needs people to help with their social media, graphics, website and blogging (hey, that’s what I’m doing here!). It’s a great way to put your talents to work on your own schedule/in your own environment while still helping dogs get adopted!

So if you’ve been hesitant to get involved because you’re not sure there’s an opportunity that fits you, I hope you can see the many ways you can help. Check out the volunteer link and sign up to help the Underdogs today!

Keep Dogs Safe During the Polar Vortex

Sabrina Ortiz


By Katie Walsh

The Midwest is currently experiencing a historic, deadly cold, with temperatures diving far below zero. It’s so cold, in fact, that many colleges, schools and other organizations have shuttered for the duration. And with that, the dog lover in me can’t help but worry about all the poor pups who are being left outside for even a minute too long.

Many folks don’t make a distinction between dogs and wild animals. Dog sweaters and coats are seen as a vanity purchase by silly people. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say, “It’s a dog! It’s supposed to be outside.”

But that attitude is incorrect. The truth is, if it’s too cold for you outside, it’s too cold for your dog.

It’s not quite as bone-chilling in the D.C.-area as it is in Chicago, but it’s still pretty miserable out there. While your dogs have to go out at some point, it’s important to take the proper precautions so they stay safe and healthy.

For starters, if you have hang-ups about dog sweaters and coats, it’s time to get over it. Dogs have fur, but that won’t automatically protect them from extreme temperatures. Certain breeds such as huskies or malamutes fare better in the cold, but most other breeds need some extra coverage. Dogs can get frostbite, particularly on areas like their ears, tails and underbellies. With my short-hair mixes, I always bundle them up in weather like what we’re experiencing now. You might even consider getting your dogs boots to help prevent frostbite on their paws.

If your dogs are like mine and refuse to wear boots, you could also invest in some paw protection. We use Musher’s Secret wax, which helps protect puppy paws against sidewalk salt. We also make sure to wipe the salt off their paws as soon as we get back inside.

And probably most importantly, when it’s a truly bitter winter day, you simply should limit your dogs’ time outside. Let them out long enough to do their business, and get them back inside. If you have the ability to do so, it might be a good idea to send your dogs to doggie daycare, even for a single day, to allow them to burn off some energy in a warm environment.

My dogs mean everything to me, and thinking about them or other dogs like them suffering makes me unbelievably sad. Please, do what you can to keep your dog safe while we hunker down and get through this polar vortex.

What You Need to Know About Adopting a Pet for the First Time

Sabrina Ortiz

By Jessica Brody


Few things are as exciting as getting a pet. Just the thought of owning one, and you can already imagine yourself playing with them on the floor and cuddling with them on the couch. But before you take steps toward adopting a new companion, you need to make sure you are ready for the ups and downs of pet parenting.


Find Your Pet Soul Mate

Choosing a pet that’s best for you is more complicated than picking out the first cute kitten or puppy you come across. You need to find a pet that works best for your lifestyle. This means taking into consideration your available time, physical ability, allergies and location.

If you work long hours and cannot be home regularly to walk a dog, make sure you can hire a dog walker or opt for a cat instead. Maybe you’re looking for a new jogging partner and a Greyhound or Labrador is what you need. Do not forget to take into account your location. Large dog breeds require plenty of space, but small dogs and cats can be happy in apartments.


Pet-Proof Your Home

Once you’ve picked out your perfect pet you can’t bring them home just yet. First, you need to pet-proof your home. PetMD recommends taping up any electrical cords that they may chew on, storing chemicals away and removing any floor plants. Whether you are getting a puppy or an adult dog, it is a smart idea to restrict them to a section of the house while they get acclimated. Set up a baby gate to restrict their movement and minimize hazards during this time. The goal is to reduce any potential harm and accidents. You cannot be there to watch them 24/7.

When you’re preparing for the arrival of your furry bundle of joy, keep in that these little guys and gals aren’t perfect — they’re going to make messes in the house at some point, regardless of how well you plan. In addition to the floors, your pet might leave a mess on your furniture, which can be a little trickier to clean depending on the material. In some instances, you might need to call in a professional to do the job, but make sure you have enough money in the bank for this kind of service. For example, the average price of upholstery and furniture cleaning in Washington, DC, is between $127 and $222. Nobody said owning a pet was cheap.


Acclimating Your Pet to Their New Home

Entering a new home can be incredibly stressful and overwhelming for new pets. Though you want to play with them right away, keep this in mind, especially if they are shy at first.  Be patient with them and give them space to take it all in. Petfinder says not to be surprised if it takes a couple weeks before your pet’s true personality starts to show.

When they first enter your home, let them explore. Supervise them by following closely behind as they go from room to room because training starts on day one. Do not be shy about rewarding them for good behavior and redirecting their attention away from actions you’d rather they not take. Now is also the time to introduce to them their schedule. At first, you want to stick to it strictly so that they can learn what to expect from you in terms of walks, feeding time, and attention.


Pile on the Love

Bonding is incredibly important with a new pet. Rework your schedule to prioritize spending time with them. You want them to learn to be comfortable and trust you. If your pet is shy and timid, don’t be afraid to get down on the floor with them. Try to entice them with treats or show them how to play fetch. Pamper them with tummy rubs and cuddle with them up on the couch. These are great ways to bond that you’ll both enjoy.


The Positive Impact of Pets

Kids perhaps have the most to gain from introducing a pet into the family. You can enlist their help in walking and feeding to teach them responsibility and how to care for another living thing. Pets also have a positive impact on their growth and development according to Psychology Today.

Those recovering from addiction can also greatly benefit from pet ownership. Having a pet can create the same stimulation their addiction caused. Not only that, it helps those recovering from addiction establish new and healthy routines. Companion pets provide loyal support and encourage healthy bonds, which can decrease anxiety and depression.


Welcome Home

Pets quickly become members of the family. They’re a great source of joy but also a lot of work. Before you commit to bringing home a new friend, make sure you can handle the responsibilities. If you can, the rewards of raising a pet are more than worth it.


Fall means pumpkin patches, piles of leaves, and… walking your dog!

Sabrina Ortiz

By Loryn Baughman


Fall is the perfect time of year to bond outdoors with your favorite four-legged friend. The heavy DC humidity has subsided and there's a crispness in the air. It's the best time of year to enjoy a long neighborhood stroll and hear the leaves crunch beneath your feet (or paws). Plus, it's good for more than just your dog - it's good for you too! So, it makes sense that National Walk Your Dog Week would be the first week of October. But that’s just the start of the season. The leaves begin their color palette evolution as the month goes on – enjoying those leaves should be at the top of the to-do list for pet owners. So grab an apple cider and a fully charged phone – you’re going to want to document your precious pooch among the Instagram-worthy shades of oranges, reds and yellows. The peak colors are forecasted to be the last week of October in the greater DC area.

Going for a long walk is good for dogs and owners alike. Experts suggest that the average person should walk a minimum of 10,000 steps a day. Reaching that step goal has been shown to minimize blood pressure, reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and decrease stress. But sometimes forcing yourself to head outside at dusk to hit your walking goals can seem like a drag. But having a tail-wagging walking companion can make the evening outing both a necessary habit and fun!

Not to mention that the Washington, DC area is full of spectacular dog parks. Here’s some local favorites to check out:

·       Bark and Go Park, Capitol Riverfront – this park just opened in September and has garnered paws-itively great reviews.

·       The S Street Dog Park by Dupont Circle is a crowd favorite. What it lacks in space, it makes up for in fun! There are always playful dogs ready to romp at the S Street Park.

·       Lincoln Park on Capitol Hill isn’t technically a dog park, however it’s hard to find somewhere else in DC that has a higher concentration of dogs and trees with changing leaves. Lincoln Park is the place to head for a stroll, a run, or a doggy meet-up.

·       For those who live in Northern Virginia, don’t miss the Shirlington Dog Park! The Shirlington park is a spacious oasis for pups with an extra pep in their step.

No matter which park you go to this fall, one thing is certain – autumn is the very best season to head outdoors with your dog(s). Enjoy the leaves and the wagging tails!

How to handle the aftermath of your dog’s prey drive

Sabrina Ortiz

By Katie Walsh

The minute I heard her bark, I knew something bad had happened.

It was around 9 p.m., and my beagle mix Ginger was out in our backyard for her nightly bathroom break before bedtime. This potty routine is generally unremarkable — we rouse our dogs from snoozing on the couch, send them out for about five minutes to do their business, then scoot them upstairs for a good night’s slumber.

However, for about a week prior to this particular night, something had been bothering Ginger whenever we’d put her outside. From the moment she set a paw pad on our deck, she would run amok back and forth across our parking pad, from one end of our deck to the other, whimpering and snarling and barking. And every time she did this, my brow would furrow and I’d say to my husband, “There’s something under our deck.”

My husband was nonplussed. “Just mice,” he assured me.

But that night, a bark unlike any other I had ever heard her make, a combination of a threatening growl and a shriek, pierced the night air. My husband was closest to the back door, so he immediately set about investigating.

What he found shocked us both: “She killed something out there.”

As it turns out, it wasn’t mice under our deck; it was an opossum. And somehow Ginger had dispatched it.

In all my years of dog ownership, this was not something I had ever experienced, and it totally freaked me out. A million questions whizzed through my brain: Who attacked whom first? Did Ginger get hurt at all in the scuffle? Did the opossum have rabies? What exactly do you do when you’re living in the concrete jungle of a city and you tangle with the wildlife?

I decided to examine Ginger first. I pushed her fur all around so I could see down to her skin. She didn’t appear to have sustained any scratches or bite marks from the opossum, nor did she appear to be in any sort of distress. (Frankly, she seemed proud of herself.) My husband and I cleaned her off with some doggie bath wipes and sent her upstairs.

I called Animal Control next for advice. Even though I was worried, the gentleman who fielded my call was not. He indicated that opossums are not “rabies vectors,” aka species most likely to transmit rabies to other animals and people, but it would be a good idea to follow up with our vet just in case. He also wasn’t concerned about needing to set traps or collect the opossum’s body — in fact, he told us that since the incident happened on private property, we should just put it out with the trash!

So, we cleaned up our parking pad and went to bed, and the next morning I spoke with Dr. Miller at AtlasVet. He had two questions for me: “Did Ginger get scratched or bitten?” and “Did she eat the opossum?” The former was important because she would need an antibiotic if so, and the latter was important because of the possibility the opossum had eaten some type of poison. Luckily, the answer to both questions was no. Dr. Miller said he thought we had nothing to worry about, and told us to keep an eye on her for a few days just in case anything changed.

I tell this story because I think it’s a pretty good case study for what to do if your dog kills a small wild animal. I’m glad we talked to both Animal Control and a vet — had it been any other kind of animal, Animal Control may have told us to do something differently. Had Ginger had any sort of open wound, we would have immediately hopped in the car and booked it to the emergency vet. If she’d eaten it, I’m sure we’d have gone to the emergency vet for that too. I’m happy none of those things took place, but I’ve definitely tucked all this information away on the off-chance something like this ever happens again.

As for us, things have largely gone back to normal around here. Ginger has been back to her old self in the backyard, indicating to me that there are no other opossums living there. But I’d be lying if I told you that when we put her out at night, I don’t stand by the door, waiting to see what other shenanigans she gets into.

I just hope she never gets to a stray cat.

6 Ways to Get Your Dog More Active

Sabrina Ortiz

By Abby Drexler

Getting your dog more active doesn't always come easy. There are days when downpours or heatwaves prevent you and your dog from enjoying a nice relaxing walk outdoors. And even when the weather is fantastic, your pupper might spend it lying on the ground, refusing to move a muscle. If this level of inactivity continues over a protracted period of time, it could lead to health complications and a shorter lifespan. Fortunately, all it takes is a bit of planning and patience to develop a more active lifestyle and routine for your dogs. Here are six ways to do just that: 


Visit Your Vet

Although there is usually no cause for alarm if your dog has been lazy for the past couple of days, it's prudent to rule out any health complications first before forcing Fido to exercise. Bring your dog to the vet for a full checkup. They may be able to pinpoint the specific reason/s for the decrease in energy level. You can also get your dog weighed, have his/her blood tested for heartworms, and get dietary recommendations if necessary. Vets can also do a full body inspection to identify any joint injuries, bites, or skin infections that could've escaped your eye. 


Start Your Day Early

Dogs become particularly lethargic in the peak months of the summer season. The extreme heat can wear them out from playtime much faster compared to cooler days of the year. This is especially true for dogs who have thicker coats and are used to colder temperatures, such as Siberian Huskies and Newfinlanders. The sidewalk pavements also get hot and unbearable for them to walk on with their bare paws thus cutting short any planned long walks. By starting your day early, say 6 AM, you can avoid these extreme temperatures. 


Go For a Hike

If you live in a very busy city, you'll know that it's not exactly the most dog-friendly environment. There is not enough space to go for jogs or hikes. The parks are usually built for people and children while fenced-in dog runs are incredibly compact. Sidewalks are way too narrow and too close to car and bike lanes. Rent a car and bring your dog out of the city and into acres of green space where he/she can run around in or play fetch on. For instance, if you live in NYC, you can drive upstate and hike Bear Mountain State Park, which features hundreds of acres of natural preserve plus dozens of miles worth of hiking trails. 


Get Your Dog a Partner

If your dog has someone to play with, indoors and outdoors, they tire out faster. They can encourage each other to play and move more rather than just lie down on the bed or couch all day. That being said, make sure to undergo the transition of adding a new pup into your household slowly. You need to pick a dog who gets along well with your current one. If the two dogs don't get along well, it can create a negative environment or, worse, a dangerous one wherein fights break out every day or so. 


Enroll Your Dog in an Agility Training Course

Agility training programs have several benefits for your dog/s, one of which is that it fulfills their natural instincts. Before being domesticated, dogs in the wild were natural hunters, stalking and chasing after prey for survival. They are trained to move around the territory where they live, blazing through fields, jumping over rocks, and crawling under mud and logs. This helps them maintain physical and mental health. An agility training course is designed to mimic the same challenging environment. 


Have People Around More Often

Dogs are social animals; they crave attention. If you live alone with your dog, you'll find that he/she can act sluggish with just you two in the apartment. But when the doorbell rings and your friends and relatives come for a visit, a new energy revitalizes your dog into a fun, happy, and tail-wagging pupper. In addition to having people around more often, go out and let your dog socialize with people. 


Final Thoughts

Getting your dog more active is a good way to ensure his/her health. Of course, lifestyle changes in a dog's life start with changes in his/her owner's. Find time to exercise more in between your work and personal obligations.


Abby Drexler is a contributing writer and media specialist for Pop Your Pup. She regularly produces content for pet blogs dealing with how to care for and love your pet.

The Perks of Pet Insurance

Sabrina Ortiz

By Savanna Mitchell

Let me start by introducing Ruby, the star of the show. After a year of fostering many wonderful pups through Rural Dog Rescue (RDR), Ruby wormed her way into our hearts and we officially adopted her in May.


With that, Ruby was by far my most difficult pup. When we first started fostering her way back in January, she came with happy tail (trust me, the name is very deceiving), which meant the tip of it was essentially an open wound and would regularly bleed all over our house. After months of keeping it bandaged, forcing her to wear the cone of shame, and many vet visits, she made a full recovery!


(Not impressed)


(Pay attention to tail here)

Through this process RDR did an amazing job of covering all vet expenses but it made me realize how quickly costs can add up for someone paying for vet care out of pocket. When my boyfriend and I decided to pull the trigger and adopt Ruby, one of our first conversations was about pet insurance. We learned that our company offered discounted pet insurance as an employee benefit and within days of adoption we had a plan set up for Ruby!

Similar to your own health insurance, it helps decrease care costs and protects you when serious accidents occur. Many people assume that insurance isn’t needed for the average healthy pup or that it only works in extreme situations like surgery, but keep in mind, it can also help cover things like annual exams, blood work, prescriptions, and more.

As the daughter of a veterinarian, I asked my mom what her thoughts were on pet insurance. She has definitely noticed a spike in insured pets in recent years and shared her list of recommended pet insurance companies and why (note, there are many other great options out there!).

HealthyPaws: Great for full coverage and even supports alternative medicine if you decide to go that route.

Trupanion: A great option for someone looking for chronic illness coverage (i.e. cancer or allergies) or owners with elderly pets.

PetPlan: Comprehensive coverage with 24/7 customer service and includes vet exam fees!

Embrace: Strong illness and accident coverage with plan options based on your needs. Also includes birds and exotic pets.

While we have not had to use our pet insurance yet, I would highly recommend it. As I’m sure many of you can relate, Ruby is notorious for eating mystery objects and we are constantly on the lookout for her next snack attempt. For me, it brings peace of mind knowing that in the case of an emergency, we are protected and would never have to made hard decisions about her health.


Keeping Canines Even Safer From Outdoor Threats

Sabrina Ortiz

By Amber Kingsley

In a recent post, we looked at some practical ways we provide a protected space for our mostly outdoor four-legged friends, especially given a rural environment. Everything from great ground cover and drought-resistant grasses in our garden to substantial, sustainable shrubbery and insect-repellent flora and flowers in our yards.

At the same time, we should also consider a long list of plants and flowers that are potentially poisonous to our pets. Often found both indoors and out, sometimes traditional plants considered safe or even healing for humans can be extremely harmful to pets.


For example, most of us are already aware about the dangers of mistletoe and poinsettias can present to our pets, plants like aloe vera cause animals severe discomfort. While their soothing gel can soothe burns and help with skin issues for humans and animals, if ingested by dogs it can lead to:

●     Abdominal pain

●     Anorexia

●     Depression

●     Diarrhea and/or

●     Vomiting


Seasonal Situations

Gardening is often something many of us enjoy more during spring and autumn months when planting and harvesting literally become the fruits of our labor. But both of these pleasant, more temperate times of the year pose additional problems for our pets.

On a completely different platform, this is also the time of year many people take extra care and concern for their cars. Many DIY automobile owners take advantage of this time to change out their engine oil, transmission fluid and most dangerous of all these liquids, antifreeze.



Problematic Puddles

Watching a dog drink from a puddle may seem like a common occurrence, but given these dangerous chemicals, it can quickly turn deadly. Again, the worst of these offenders is an active ingredient found in most engine coolant formulas known as ethylene glycol. In some cases, even a few drops can turn toxic in a very short amount of time.

This ingredient can also found in hydraulic brake fluid, motor oil, certain types of windshield wiper agents, paints, solvents and photographic solutions. Not only do we need to keep these products safe and secure, we also need to be on the lookout for standing water that has an oily, rainbow-esque surface and keep pets far away from these puddles.


Recognizing Important Signs

It’s also important to be aware of certain signs your dog could be in danger from drinking any amount of these toxic liquids. Usually it appears as though they’re intoxicated, disoriented and stumbling. But other symptoms include drooling, excessive thirst, panting, frequent urination and overall lethargy.

Time is of the essence so don’t wait for more severe symptoms appear before seeking professional help. While “There’s no need to fear, Underdog is here!” it’s also up to us as dog owners to protect them from perils that could be found all around them in everyday life scenarios.

So wear your superhero cape proudly and do your best to protect your pet from outdoor threats with the “speed of lightning and roar of thunder,.” We’ll make sure our best friends stay with us longer and lead happy, healthy lives.

How to Create a Dog-Friendly Garden

Sabrina Ortiz

By Amber Kingsley

Before you pick up your adopted rescue dog and introduce it to its forever home, you should ensure that your garden and backyard area are dog-friendly. The amount of activity your dog needs to be healthy and happy will depend on factors such as its age and its breed. But make no mistake -- all dogs need some time outdoors to romp around and play, so it will make things easier for you and your adopted pet if you consider its needs when designing a garden.

What follows are some recommendations for creating a dog-friendly garden that you and your pet can enjoy for years to come.



Ground Cover

There are many suitable plant varieties that your dog will enjoy. One classification of plants that you should have in your dog-friendly garden is the ground cover variety. These types of plants, such as elfin thyme, Irish moss, and snow in summer, will provide the durable ground cover that will stand up to your dog's running, turning, and rolling. Ground cover plants will also benefit you by providing a layer that naturally chokes out weeds, so you'll be able to spend more time playing with your pet and lounging on the back deck than in the garden pulling weeds.


Plant the Right Grass

Planting the right kind of grass is important. Dog's can damage a lawn with their digging and running as well as with their peeing and pooing. So, what sort of grass should you use? Kentucky Bluegrass is deemed to be a good choice. One of the good things about it is that it spreads to fill in areas that have been damaged by things like urine. Kentucky Bluegrass, as a drought-resistant variety of grass, is also tolerant of low moisture. This will allow you to conserve on water use while maintaining a garden that can hold up to your dog's various activities.



Red-twig dogwood, lilac, and smoke tree are just some of the shrubs that would be a good addition to your dog-friendly garden. Shrubs won't only make your garden look great, but also will be able to withstand substantial foot, or paw, traffic.


Flowers that Repel Fleas & Ticks

What's a garden without some beautiful flowers? When it comes to your pet, however, there are some flowers that will do more than look pretty. In fact, there are flowers of various types that will actually help to keep ticks and fleas away naturally. Here are some examples:

●       Chamomile: This type of yellow-and-white flower looks great, can be used to make herbal tea, and can keep fleas and ticks at bay. So it's the perfect addition to your dog-friendly garden.

●       Lavender: This plant has a nice fragrant smell and looks great. Like camomile, it will repel fleas and ticks as well as mosquitoes and moths, so that your garden is a safe space for your dog.

●       Rosemary: Rosemary is a great addition to a pet-friendly garden. It not only will fend off ticks and fleas, but also will repel flies and mosquitoes. As you know, the plant will also make a great herb when the time comes to season anything from beef to lamb.


With the right strategy and the determination to follow through, you can have a dog-friendly garden and lawn for you and your four-legged bundle of love to enjoy.



Feeling feverish? Your pup knows when you’re sick as a dog

Sabrina Ortiz

By Katie Walsh


As I sit down to write this, I’m the sickest I’ve been in a good long while. I’ve got an upper respiratory infection, ear infections in BOTH ears, and pink eye -- basically, every hole in my head is clogged with something nasty. I’ve been tearfully and dramatically begging my husband to provide me with the sweet release of death. Thus far, he has not obliged.

“Why are you telling us all this on a dog rescue’s website?” you may be asking.

I don’t fault you for the question. I’d be wondering the same thing. The answer, dear reader, is this:


That’s my pup Ginger, all snuggled up on my lap. While she’s normally happy to snooze next to me, it’s highly unusual for her to actually be IN my lap. In fact, ever since I came down with The Plague a few days ago, she’s been particularly attached to me. It started to occur to me: Hey, this dog knows I’m sick!

I’ve heard dogs can be trained to detect cancers and send an alert when their owner is about to have a seizure. But I wasn’t expecting my pup, who hasn’t had any formal disease-detecting education, to realize there was anything going on with me. I decided to do a little research to see if what I was seeing with Ginger while I’ve been under the weather was all in my head. What I found out was truly incredible and all the more proof that dogs are absolutely the BEST.

For starters, Ginger is likely keying into my body language. It makes total sense when you think about it -- dogs can’t talk, and the main way they communicate with each other is through physical motions. When there is a lack of pep in my step, she sees it and adapts to it. I even found some sources that indicate dogs can read the facial expressions of their owners, so while I’ve been an absolute weepy mess -- and make no mistake, I’ve cried A LOT -- she’s been quietly comforting me through my ailments.

But perhaps the most compelling piece of information I found out there about why Ginger has been such a good nurse for me this past week comes down to a very important doggie part:

Yes, this little gal’s sniffer is very likely the thing that has made her aware that I am infirm. Obviously, we all know that dogs have better senses of smell than people do, but I’m not sure I realized just HOW much better they are until I started looking into it for this blog. Dogs’ senses of smell are anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000 times as acute as that of humans. They even have separate pathways in their noses for smelling and breathing, as shown in this graphic:


So, while I’ve been sick and my body chemistry has changed, Ginger has most certainly smelled it. In fact, I can tell you -- no lie -- that she’s specifically stuck her nose right under my nose in an apparent attempt to smell my snot. There is no doubt in my mind that she was getting a whiff of the infection that was raging in my sinuses, before I even had a chance to go to the doctor for an official diagnosis.

Would you look at that -- my little dog is a regular Florence Nightingale. Good girl, indeed.

In a few days, my antibiotics will have done their work and life will return to normal, meaning I won’t be able to look forward to having Ginger all curled up on my lap anymore. But until then, I’m going to sit back, relax, and enjoy some puppy TLC -- truly the best medicine of all.

Celebrate National Walk Your Dog Month

Sabrina Ortiz

By Katie Walsh

Check out my awesome Fitbit stats from yesterday:

No, I didn’t go for a run. I will concede that I worked out, but that’s not why I totally schooled my family members in our weekly Fitbit step competition. The bulk of that 18,875 came from the simplest of places: walking my dogs!


As it turns out, January is National Walk Your Pet Month, so I’m here to tell you all the wonderful reasons why you should lace up your sneakers and take your pooch for a stroll.


1. Your dog will be healthier

I’m not the only one in my family who blasted through her step goals yesterday:


(Yes, our dogs have activity trackers too! This one is the Whistle, which also provides their GPS location in case they get lost.)

Getting on the scale is the first thing your dog is going to have to do any time he or she goes to the vet, just like you when you go to your doctor. Chubby dogs may be cute, but the reality is that letting your dog become overweight is pretty unhealthy for them. Walking them regularly will help them offset the calories they get from eating treats when they’re being good (and let’s be honest -- they’re all good dogs).

Walking them will help their mental health, too. When dogs aren’t exercised enough, they can go a little crazy in your house. If you’ve ever had a dog totally destroy your place while you’re gone, it may be because they’ve not been given a place to get their energy out. Think of them like toddlers who need to run around on a playground in order to settle down enough at night.

And going for a walk helps their mental health, too! When your dog is outside with you, you will be able to provide instruction on leash manners as well as let your pup sniff all the wonderful aromas of the great outdoors. You know how you feel mentally exhausted after a long day at work? The same thing will happen for your dog after a good hike.


2. You will be healthier

I started off this post with my Fitbit stats, and I will tell you for a fact that hit my daily step goal way more often now that I have dogs to walk than when I didn’t. That part may be anecdotal, but this next bit from the Mayo Clinic isn’t: According to the Mayo Clinic, walking can help you maintain your weight, prevent or manage conditions such as high blood pressure, strengthen your bones and muscles, improve your mood and improve your balance and coordination, among other benefits.

When you take your dog for regular walks, you’re ensuring both you and the dog will be around for as long as possible. That’s really what we all want, right?


3. You can donate to Rural Dog Rescue!!!

Have you downloaded the Wooftrax app yet??? If not, do it now and select Rural Dog Rescue as your shelter choice! With Wooftrax, you click a button every time you’re about to go for a walk to track your mileage. The app, which is funded through sponsorships and advertising, will donate money per mile to RDR. It’s just about the easiest way you could raise money for a great cause -- the more money RDR gets, the more dogs they can save. And who doesn’t want to save all those dogs?!


4. You will strengthen the bond between you and your dog

The minute I say, “You guys wanna go for a walkies?” my girls FLIP OUT. It’s literally the best thing I could say to them at any given moment of the day. My pups love being outside, smelling the city, looking out for squirrels and exploring new places. They seriously could not be happier than the moment every day that I grab their leashes.

And seeing them happy makes me happy! I’m by no means a perfect person, but I’ve given them a loving home environment, and they’re doing great. I think of all the other places they could be right now if Rural Dog Rescue hadn’t plucked them from their overcrowded shelters in North Carolina… **shudder**. In any case, our daily walks keep all of us in a very happy place.


5. Be honest: Would you get ANY fresh air right now otherwise?

I don’t have to tell you how cold it is outside right now. Nor do I have to tell you that all I really want to do is curl up in a blanket with a mug of hot cocoa. But fresh air is good for you, and if you lack any and all other motivation to go out and get some, do it for your dog, at least.


6. You can explore new places

I live over near H Street Northeast, so we’re within a stone’s throw of Kingman Island. We walk the trails there regularly. Other places my dogs and I have explored together include the U.S. National Arboretum, Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, Theodore Roosevelt Island, Lincoln Park, Anacostia Park and so many, many more!

You’ve gotta let your dog outside the house at some point, so you might as well do it in a scenic setting, right?

I know that walking your dog isn’t always the easiest venture. This is D.C., after all. We work long hours, we have social lives, we have family obligations. The weather is searingly hot in the summer and blisteringly cold in the winter. It may seem like there are just not enough hours in the day to make walking your dog a reality.

But, I’m asking you, this National Walk Your Pet Month and every month, make walking your pup a priority. There are just so many benefits, I can promise that you won’t regret it.

A few less years, a lot more love: The case for adopting a senior dog

Sabrina Ortiz

By Katie Walsh

Are you following Marnie the dog on Instagram? If not, you should be. Check it out at She’s a pint-sized NYC socialite whose momma dresses her up in costumes and takes her out hobnobbing with celebrities. This goofy little shih tzu is a total hoot.


(Courtesy @marniethedog)


But before Marnie became an Instagram celebrity (seriously, she has 2 million followers, which is approximately 1,999,900 followers more than I have), she was doing time in an animal shelter. And statistically, she shouldn’t have made it out alive -- at the time of her adoption, Marnie was nearly 10 years old, which for many dogs would have been an automatic death sentence. Typically, older dogs don’t generate much adoption interest and have to spend their twilight years in the confusing din of a shelter instead of curled up on their person’s lap.

As someone who gets some real chuckles out of Marnie’s floppy tongue and tilted noggin, my life would certainly be a little less bright without her Instagram posts. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg for the joy that a would-be pet owner can get out of adopting a senior dog.

November is Adopt a Senior Pet month, and there are a ton of reasons why you should consider taking home a dog who has been around for a few presidential administrations. I’d like to tell you some of those reasons today, as well as to dispel a few myths.

Reason 1: Ease of ownership. In our house, we adopted one of our dogs as a puppy and the other as an adult. Guess which one spent the first six months peeing on literally everything we owned, including IN OUR BED on a $300 comforter we had just bought from Restoration Hardware?!? Hint: It wasn’t the older dog. One of the major benefits of adopting an older dog is that since the dogs have previously lived with people, they tend to already be housebroken. More than that, a lot of the time they know commands and are calmer than dogs half their age. Yes, puppies are cute, but the puppy havoc-wreaking stage is anything but. You’ll be happy you adopted an older dog when your stuff is still in tact at the end of the day.

Reason 2: Their personality is set.  When you adopt a younger dog, you have no idea what you’re getting into. Will they be sweet and social, or totally neurotic? Will they like playing with other dogs or view approaching pups as the biggest threat this country has ever known? You can make some guesses based on breed, and you can put in the work for training, but ultimately a puppy is a bit of a wild card. With an older dog, what you get is what you get. That doesn’t necessarily mean the dog will be perfect, but it does mean you are fully aware of their quirks.

Reason 3: You get to save a life! As I mentioned above, in high kill shelters, older dogs are usually the first to be put to sleep for lack of space. When you rescue an older pup, you are definitely doing a little bit of good in the world, especially since that dog likely had a home until very recently.

And now, let’s talk about the myths.

Myth 1: When an older dog is in a shelter, it’s because they’re badly behaved. I will concede that that is occasionally true… BUT, most times these older pups end up homeless through no real fault of their own.

Far too often, humans do NOT do right by the animals they’ve brought into their homes. Dogs will end up in shelters because they’ve been removed from their homes due to neglect or abuse. Families will decide that they weren’t up to the task of taking care of a dog and send it on its way. Hardships like divorces, illnesses or deaths in the family often result in a dog being given up. It’s really sad all around, and it breaks my heart when I think of how confusing this must be for an older pup who is losing the only life it has ever known.

Myth 2: A senior dog is going to die soon. This was one of the discussions I had with my husband when we were adopting our first dog. I was in favor of getting a senior; he wanted a much younger dog. “I just don’t want us to get attached to it and then be sad soon,” he said.

It’s the terrible truth of pet ownership that dogs just don’t live as long as we do. I’ve now lived through the passings of two family dogs; every once in awhile I think about losing the dogs I have now and I get totally choked up.

But here’s the thing: The “senior” designation actually has a lot of wiggle room. Dogs are generally considered seniors somewhere between age 7 and 9 -- it varies by the breed. At those ages, they can still have a lot of livin’ to do!

Smaller dogs live an average of 15-16 years; larger dogs live somewhere between 10-13. Note also that that’s the AVERAGE. My family’s 80-pound golden retriever defied all odds and lived to be nearly 16! Had we adopted him at age 7, say, that would have still been eight solid years of companionship. That’s 5,840 cups of dog food. It’s 1,460 hours of walking. It’s 2,290 poops picked up!!! That’s some serious dog ownership, my friend.

But honestly, you don’t have to take my word for it. My friend/co-worker Tina has made it a mission to adopt senior greyhounds, so I asked her about it for this blog. She confirmed everything I’ve written is true... and she gave me something else, something entirely special that I hadn’t considered before:

“The best part of adopting a senior dog is that they are so happy to be in a house where they get lots of love,” Tina said. “That may sound cheesy. They just seem to sense immediately that they're home -- that they're loved.”

The love -- that’s what life is about, right? Hearing about her experiences, my heart was full.

So, the next time you’re considering an adoption, don’t automatically skip over the dog who is a few years older than you’d like. It will all be worth it when you feel the love.

How to Keep Your Dog Safe and Avoid a Scary Situation on Halloween

Sabrina Ortiz

By Jessica Brody



Halloween is a magical time full of excitement, and it’s natural for a dog-lover to want their canine friends to be included in the fun. Unfortunately, Halloween can also create some hazards to dogs so it’s important to protect your furry friends. This doesn’t mean we can’t include them in our Halloween celebrations. As long as you get a little creative and put in place some safety guidelines, there’s no reason you and your pooch can’t have a safe and fun Halloween together.



Trick-or-treaters will expect yummy treats, but these need to be kept well away from Fido. All candy can be toxic and very dangerous to dogs, but be especially careful with chocolate and any artificial sweeteners. Even some alternatives to candy that are healthy for humans, like raisins, are toxic to dogs. If trick-or-treaters will be coming to your house, keep the candy bowl up where your dog can’t get to it. If you have kids who will be trick-or-treating, make sure to keep their treat bags out of your dog’s reach when they return. You also need to be careful about candy wrappers because they may be tempting to dogs but can cause intestinal blockages if ingested. If you feel bad that your dog is left out, make one of these pumpkin dog treats so they get their very own special Halloween treat.



Halloween decorations can be dangerous to dogs too, especially wires or cords for decorative lights if your dog tends to chew. Glow sticks are a favorite of trick-or-treaters, but they can make your dog sick if they are chewed and ingested. Be careful about lit pumpkins as well because a dog won’t understand fire hazard and can easily knock over a pumpkin with a candle inside. You can opt for battery powered candles instead and avoid this risk. Dog costumes also pose a hazard to your furry friend. Of course they look adorable, but your pup’s safety must take priority. If you put them in costume, make sure they are completely comfortable in it, and check that it doesn’t impair their airways or vision.

You know your dog and how they react to crowds, but Reader’s Digest suggests it’s best not to take dogs trick-or-treating with you at all. Even at your home, the general noise and flow of people in and out can be problematic for dogs. You can minimize noise by sitting on the porch to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters or putting a note on the door asking people not to ring the bell. You don’t want anyone getting spooked, and this can go both ways - dogs may be afraid of people in costume and some kids may be afraid of dogs. Along with the anxiety caused by excess noise, this fear may lead dogs to run outside.

As Redfin notes in their Halloween prep guide, in many situations it’s best to simply keep your dog safe in a room of your house where they’re insulated from the noise and are unable to dash. If your dog uses a crate they may feel safer in there. You may choose to secure your dog in the backyard, although the American Animal Hospital Association warns this can be potentially dangerous because they could be at risk of practical jokes or theft. Prevention of any safety concern is best, but make sure you also have a plan in place in case they accidentally ingest something they shouldn’t or dash out the door. Look up the number for a local after hours vet and have poison control numbers handy too.

Involving your dog in your Halloween celebrations is possible as long as you keep their safety in mind first. If you decide it’s best to keep your dog closed up in a room in your home on Halloween night, take them along for some other fun Halloween activities like pumpkin picking or corn mazes. Their safety is most important, so be sure to work other Halloween plans around these tips so everyone has a fun and safe Halloween.


Photo credit: Pixabay

Approaching a pooch? Practice proper petiquette!

Sabrina Ortiz

By Katie Walsh




I don’t blame the neighborhood kids, really. I’d do the same thing if I were them and a dog as beautiful as my Ginger were approaching us.

She really is the Platonic ideal of a dog, isn’t she? Just an absolute stunner, from her ginger (thus her name) hair to her perfectly applied eyeliner. And because of her beauty, whenever we’re out on a walk, a scenario continually plays out: We come across a group of kids playing in the street, and their eyes fix upon her. They approach us, hands outstretched, desperate for a pat of her gorgeous red fur.

But, alas, much like the beautiful women who end up as contestants on The Bachelor, Ginger is not here to make friends. She is especially suspicious of the tiny, sticky hands attached to beings under 18 years of age. Get too close, and she’ll let you know her displeasure with a snarl and a visible canine tooth. It’s a problem that has the most simple of solutions: Just ask. Ask if you can pet the dog. Engage in proper pet etiquette -- petiquette, if you will.

I think because of dogs in popular culture like Lassie, Wishbone or Beethoven, we just expect dogs to be a bounty of love and affection for everyone they meet. But the reality is -- and perhaps I’m anthropomorphizing, but stay with me -- that dogs aren’t that different from people. Some are extroverts and love attention from all comers, and some prefer the company of just a few close confidants. Some can be friendly if you take the time to get to know them but are wary of strangers and new situations.

When a stranger’s desire to pet Ginger becomes clear, I always have to say, “Sorry, she’s not very friendly,” and then direct their pats to my other dog, Ren, who will gladly lap up any attention she’s given.

While it’s true of my dogs, you should also note that adhering to proper petiquette is not always an all-or-nothing scenario! I volunteered at one of the Rural Dog Rescue adoption events this weekend and held Juice, a delightfully rambunctious 18-month-old pit bull. Juice gets scared if you come at him with two hands, so we instructed all would-be adopters to pet him with one hand only.

One-hand petting, skittish of men, not good with children -- it’s stuff like that that you would only know if you made sure to ask the pet owner first. I cannot stress enough how important it is to just have the conversation before you go in for the scratch.

Of course, when you have the conversation, you also have to LISTEN to the answer you’re given. A man once said, “It’s OK, I speak dog” and tousled her ears anyway when I told him he couldn’t pet Ginger. She immediately snapped at him, so apparently he’s not as fluent as he thinks he is and should bone up on his dog lessons.

Petiquette is not just limited to human touches -- it’s also important for dog owners to help their pups with petiquette. Not every dog likes other dogs, so ask if it’s OK before you allow your dog to sniff or play with the random other pooches out for a walk.

And on that note, please, I beg of you, unless you’re in an area that is clearly demarcated as being leash-free, keep your dog on a leash! Unless you have an extremely well-trained dog who sprints to you every time you say their name, shouting, “Don’t worry, he’s friendly!” when your dog runs up on us doesn’t do a bit of good. YOURS may be friendly with other pups, but that doesn’t guarantee that MINE is friendly. Moreover, even the friendliest of dogs can get freaked out by a sudden charge from a strange mutt. It can end up being a really dangerous situation for everyone involved.

When you engage in proper petiquette, you create a safer environment for both yourself, your dog, other dog owners and children/people in general. By just being cognizant of your surroundings and courteous to other dog owners, you are guaranteeing a much happier life for you and your pup. So, the next time cute pooch approaches and the urge to pet strikes, you now know what to do. Just ask!

Adopting Your First Rescue Pet

Sabrina Ortiz

By Jessica Brody


Adoption is a wonderful way to bring a new pet into your family, but with so many options, how do you find the right fit for your family? Here’s what to consider when you decide to rescue a pet.

Why Adopt?

Some first-time pet owners think that purchasing from a breeder is the best way to get the pet they want, but the reality is that good breeders are expensive, and there are a lot of bad breeders out there. Even if you use a reputable breeder, there’s no guarantee your pet will fit with your family. Many breeders reserve litters before they’re even born, leaving you to commit to a pet you’ve never met.

When you adopt, you can spend time with different animals until you find the one for you. Since most rescue pets have had previous owner issues, not behavioral problems, you’ll have a selection of well-behaved dogs and cats of every age. You can even find purebred pets to adopt, although it may take a little patience or a wider geographical scope if you have a specific breed in mind.

Rescue pets are often already vaccinated and spayed or neutered, saving you money. On top of that, adopting is much cheaper than buying: Adoption fees generally range from $50 to $100, whereas purchasing a purebred pet can easily run over $1,000.

The best reason to adopt, not shop? You save the life of one of 6-8 million pets every year.


How to Find the Right Match

Start by considering what kind of pet you’d like. For most pet owners, the obvious question is a dog or a cat. But you’ll need to dig deeper if you want to find a pet that’s compatible with your family.

Start by deciding what age of pet you’d prefer. Kittens and puppies are cute, but they have a lot of energy and require extensive training. Young adult cats and dogs are more settled into their personality, but may still have a few bad habits to break. Adult and senior pets are mellow, easygoing companions, but you’ll have fewer years to spend with your pet and may face higher vet care costs.

Next, consider what activities you want to do with your pet. Are you seeking an indoor companion to give affection to, or do you want a pet you can take on adventures? Do you lead an active lifestyle, or is a leisurely walk with your new dog your idea of a good time? Cats and dogs have a wide range of personalities, and deciding what sort of companion you want will help narrow your options.

Once you have a basic conception of your ideal pet, it’s time to start visiting. Many animal rescues list adoptable pets online, but a picture is no substitute for getting to know an animal in person. Visit every few weeks to see new residents. While you’re there, ask staff what they know about the pets that catch your eye. An animal’s background can tell you a lot about what kind of pet it will be.

As you’re visiting the animals, keep in mind that a dog or cat’s personality at the rescue may not match how it will behave in a home. Some animals that seem fearful or stressed may open up after adoption. If you can’t commit a lot of time to training or are bringing a pet into a home with other animals or young children, adopting through a foster program is a good way to get peace of mind regarding a dog or cat’s behavior. If you take the plunge but know that you’re going to be gone a lot for work, plan to use a dog walking or pet sitter service so that your new furry friend is given plenty of attention and/or exercise.

Whatever you do, keep an open mind about your perfect pet. You may think you want a calico kitten and fall in love with a sweet older tabby or dream of a Golden Retriever only to find your dream dog in a black Lab mix. When you’re flexible on less important traits like sex and color, you’re more likely to find the pet you’ve always imagined.


Image via Pixabay

Doggie CSI: Tracking down a canine criminal

Sabrina Ortiz

By Katie Walsh

My house is a crime scene. And not just any crime scene -- there’s a serial killer on the loose. 

A serial cotton killer, that is. At nighttime, when I’m least expecting it, I’ll stumble upon it: Various pieces of cotton, wet and shredded to bits. The victims of some sharp canine incisors. Stealthily stolen away from laundry baskets under cover of darkness, because we turn the upstairs hallway light off when we’re hanging out downstairs.

Someone in this house is eating my dirty clothes and dumping the remains in the upstairs hallway. And I’m determined to figure out the perpetrator.

Welcome to DOGGIE CSI. 


This week’s episode: The Cotton Clothes Killer.

Let’s first discuss the possible “perps”:




CRIMINAL HISTORY: Prolific destroyer of plush toys. Also chewed through a computer cord once. 

POSSIBLE ALIBI: She’s a good girl.


SUSPECT 2: Ginger



CRIMINAL HISTORY: Moderate leash aggression. Loud barker. Digs holes in the backyard.

POSSIBLE ALIBI: She’s also a good girl.




SPECIES: Husband

CRIMINAL HISTORY: Does not change the toilet paper roll EVER. Steals pillows in the middle of the night.

POSSIBLE ALIBI: We lived together for two years before we adopted Ren and Ginger, and he never ate my clothes.

I’ve watched enough crime dramas to know it’s always the husband or the boyfriend. However, in initial questioning, Ryan gave me a look that can only be described as “considering divorce,” so I think I’ll scrap him from the list. 

That leaves us with Ren and Ginger as our primary suspects, which means we should move on to discussing the “vics” and the possible motive. 

According to some research I’ve conducted, there are several possible reasons why dogs chew clothes:

1. On the dangerous/scary end, it could be a sign of something called “pica,” which is a drive to eat non-food items. If your dog is habitually eating clothes, blankets, etc., they could suffer some deadly problems, including choking, intestinal blockages and even poisoning depending on the material they’ve ingested.

Luckily for me, my puppy perp isn’t actually ingesting the clothes. Neither Ren nor Ginger has displayed signs of intestinal distress, which is a good thing. (However, if your dog does ingest something they shouldn’t, take him or her to the emergency vet immediately!)

So, the canine criminal is just chewing clothes up and spitting them out, which brings me to my next possible motive:

2. Boredom. Many dogs destroy things when they’re bored. I’ve also seen research that suggests that puppies destroy things for the same reason human kids do -- to get your attention. 

In the case of the Canine Cotton Killer, I don’t think she’s in the business of shredding because she’s bored. These pups get pretty long walks every single day, and they have literally a million toys that we play with, including toys that dole out treats. 

The perp is also exclusively eating dirty clothes, which suggests one final possible motive:

3. The dog just wants to be close to me. Apparently, dogs tend to eat their owner’s dirty clothes because they’ve been marked with the owner’s scent, and that’s enticing to a little pooch. So, the perp is chewing my clothes likely because she just loves me so much, and anything with my scent is determined to be a prized possession.

AWWW, I LOVE YOU TOO, BABY. But you’re gonna need to stop eating my clothes. This isn’t Game of Thrones -- you don’t have to kill something in order to show your allegiance to me. (Also: Where were you back when we had mice?!?) I can’t afford to keep making trips to Target to replace my ripped apart items.

So, it was time to set a trap. I placed laundry baskets in three different rooms, hoping to catch a glimpse of the perpetrator…




Yes, a criminal mastermind in the arts of chewing, Ren just couldn’t ignore the allure of the dirty laundry basket. From here on out, I will be dropping all of my clothes straight into the washing machine so she can’t reach them. 

And for her sentence for this heinous crime? 

A lifetime of snuggling with Mama. What can I say -- I can’t stay mad! A few trips to Target for new clothes never hurt anyone. 

Just don’t start on the shoes, girl, or we’ll have to have a talk.

6 Simple Tips On How To Be A More Eco-Friendly Dog Owner

Sabrina Ortiz

By Amber Kingsley

Being green and reducing our carbon footprint can be challenging at times, but often the simplest of changes in our lifestyle or alterations in our daily routine can make a big difference when it comes to caring for Mother Earth. With a little bit of help, together with caring for our own underdogs and us as their masters, we can become champions for the planet when it comes to conservation, recycling and reduction to our troubled environment.

Let’s look at six simple ways we can help to protect our planet and the environment when it comes to interacting and caring for our favorite, four-legged friends:

#1 - Using Technology

Some of today’s tech has offered many ways to protect and play with our pets more efficiently like GPS technology and automatic fetch machines. For dogs who come in and outside of our homes almost constantly, an automatic pet door is the answer to this type of dilemma. Instead of standing there with the door wide open waiting for our pet to come inside (wasting HVAC on the outside world), the entrance and exit of our animals is monitored and controlled.


#2 - Reuse and Recycle

Often we don’t think of reusing materials when it comes to our pets, but there’s at least one way we can do a type of recycling when it comes to potty patrol. As responsible dog walkers, we’re often required by law (and common decency) to pick up after our pets. Instead of purchasing new products for this daily chore, think about reusing other commonly tossed products like:

●     Sandwich bags or quart-size bags

●     Plastic produce bags from the grocery store

●     Any type of container or bag you’re about to discard, even aluminum

Depending upon the size of your pet, instead of throwing these once-used items away after a single use, we can put them aside and give them another task before they become trash in our already overcrowded landfills.


#3 - Comfort In Composting

Disposing of waste and reusing this natural resource is a vital part of the the green and eco-friendly movement, but does it work with canine castoffs? According to a government study, from the USDA, biological dog waste can be combined with other pet-friendly ingredients to make an effective and successful compost.

Reduce, renew, and repurpose, who would have thought all three of these three components could come together to involve a way to deal with dog poop?


#4 - Making Treats And Food

Inside of the plastic, canned or cardboard containers of these many pet treats and food products that are produced, manufactured and distributed around the world, causes more waste into our already stressed environment. Try searching the internet for healthier, safer, greener goods and various recipes we can make for our pets that lose the middle-manufacturer.


#5 - Buying Earth Friendly Toys

Again, instead of purchasing new items found in traditional plastic packaging, pet toys come in many different forms and presentations. Some of these furry favorites that we find in pet store shelves are just as attractive and playful as used stuffed animals we come across in thrift stores, garage and yard sales at a fraction of the cost.

Especially if you have a dog that shreds these types of toys in a very short amount of time, you’ll save a bundle when it comes to buying these playthings in a retail environment. You’ll need to arm yourself with a couple of tips when it comes to purchasing these items just like when you’re buying toys for a child. Beware of choking or ingestion hazards like plastic, pull-away buttons or other accoutrements that can be removed quickly and then digested.


#6 - Water, Water Everywhere

For those of us who drink plenty of water in our household and have either bottles or glasses of this liquid laying around at the end of day, don’t pour them down the drain. Instead, top off your pet’s water bowl instead of wasting this precious resource.

You shouldn’t reuse H₂O that’s been sitting around in the heat, like those found outdoors or baking inside a hot car, just those that are lying around the house after just a few hours. Paying attention to what we’re carelessly discarding everyday can help us and our four-legged friends to protect the environment.

Mutts Need Love Too

Sabrina Ortiz

By Katie Walsh

The ears of a Boston terrier. The snout of a pit bull. The body of a Jack Russell terrier. The tail of a hound. And the coat of all of the above.

That’s how I’d describe our beloved mutt Ren, whom we adopted from Rural Dog Rescue nearly two years ago. A DNA test (which cost about $80 and was TOTALLY WORTH IT, in my opinion) confirmed as much:

The other pup we adopted from RDR, Ginger, is also a mutt -- very clearly a beagle with just a hint of some other random hound breed. So with that, aside from their Gotcha Days, there is one other day my husband and I can celebrate our fur babies: July 31, National Mutt Day.

According to the National Mutt Day website, 80 percent of all shelter dogs are mutts, and of the purebreds that end up in shelters, most are adopted very quickly. It’s the mutts that languish in crowded shelters, more likely to face being put to sleep solely because their pedigree isn’t recognized by the AKC. But as the owner of two such mutts, I’m here to tell you they are just as worthy of love and affection as any purebred pup. Here are some of the top reasons why:


1. Mixed breed dogs are an instant conversation starter.

I outlined my dog Ren at the beginning of this blog post. She really is a looker:

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out on walkies with her and people stop me to ask what kind of dog she is. I’ve even had people yell out the window of their cars after her!

It happens with Ginger, too… just a little less frequently since she’s such a beagle baby:

In any case, I would talk to the folks in my neighborhood a whole lot less if I didn’t have these two babies with me traipsing up and down the street. People always want to know what they are, and I benefit from that by making new friends every day.


2. Mixed breed dogs are healthier than purebreds.

I had heard this statistic thrown around anecdotally before, but turns out there is actual science behind this! A study conducted through vet records at the University of California, Davis found that purebred dogs tend to suffer from hereditary disorders more frequently than mixed breed dogs. In fact, the researchers found 10 disorders that occurred 42 percent more frequently in purebreds than in mutts!

My family just lost their 15-year-old dog, and I didn’t even live with him but I bawled my eyes out when I found out. I love my rescue dogs so, so much, and I want to spend as much time with them as possible, so it’s a huge comfort to me to know that their mixed breed background is likely to help them stay on this earth just a little bit longer.


3. It costs less to get a mutt.

While dogs are expensive no matter what way you slice it (and that should be something every would-be dog owner should know -- food, toys, vet bills, doggie daycare, dog walkers and vacation boarding really add up!), the price of a purebred pup at the outset eclipses the price of a rescue mutt. For example, a golden retriever from a reputable breeder can range well into the thousands. Compare that with RDR’s low, low price of $300 -- that’s a bargain by anyone’s standards.

4. Saving a mutt doesn’t contribute to the puppy mill problem.

The desire for certain purebreds or designer breeds gives way to a seedy underbelly of irresponsible breeders. Puppy mills churn out dogs as fast as a mother can have them, generally without regard as to whether it’s even healthy for her to do so. Even more than that, the puppies tend to live in poor, overcrowded conditions, which causes them to have serious illnesses. They also tend to be separated from their mothers at extremely early ages, so they end up developing behavioral problems.

It’s just a horrible situation that no dog deserves to be in. If the demand for purebred dogs decreases, so will the demand for puppy mills. Rescuing a mutt will definitely give you some good karma points.

So, today, if you’ve been thinking about pulling the trigger on becoming a dog parent, please please please consider rescuing a pup instead of seeking out a breeder. I think I’ve offered some pretty compelling reasons to invest in a mutt, but if you need one more, here’s a picture of my Ren snuggling under a blanket:

Happy National Mutt Day!

10 Tips for Introducing Children To New Dogs

Sabrina Ortiz

By Amber Kingsley

We have all heard the saying that “dog is man’s best friend”. Generally, this mantra rings true. Most of us can recall heartwarming stories or remember times spent with our favorite pets. Time and time again, dogs have become valuable members of our families, helping teach our children love, respect, responsibility, and gentleness. This bond between our families and four legged pals last lifetimes and earns our pups a special place in our hearts.

This time honored love between pooches and people can find many of our families looking to bring a furbaby into our homes or to visit with the neighbor dog. This process can be wonderful and exciting, but we should proceed with caution when introducing our children to new dogs. Unfortunately, for all the good, there are times when dogs bite or react in an unfriendly manner. Everyday around 1,000 people seek emergency treatment for dog bite injuries. As parents, we need to do everything we can to prevent our children and beloved pets from ending up another statistic.

Thankfully, by teaching our sons and daughters the appropriate way to approach new dogs, handle pets, and remain calm around animals we can greatly reduce the chance something bad will happen. Listed below is a compilation of ideas to help introduce our children and dogs safely:

Teach children how to gently touch and pet animals. Children love animals, but they often don’t realize they are squeezing or pulling a dog’s coat. Far too often, children unintentionally hurt dogs which can result in bites or aggressive behaviors. Avoid these problems by showing the proper way to pet a dog.

Have a child calmly approach the dog from the side and stop with enough room to allow the dog to willingly come to the child. This allows the animal to watch the child without feeling overwhelmed and greet the kid on his or her own terms.

Experts recommend using a leash or commands to keep the dog under control at first. Have the dog “sit” and make introductions calmly. By using the leash, you will be able to regain control if things get a little wild.

Avoid giving treats or using toys on the first greeting. Some dogs get excited at the sight of a treat and might snatch it roughly from tiny fingers. Also, toys are great ways to play with dogs, but it can cause territorial issues or rough housing that might not leave a great first impression on young ones.

Before petting, let the dog sniff the child.  Dogs use their sense of smell to say “hello” and find out who you are. Stand still, allowing the dog to sniff around you and the child. As an added caution, you should be careful about offering your hand to smell. Have a child curl in their fingers and avoid pushing it into the dog’s face. Let the animal come to you. If you are introducing a new baby to a dog, bring the little one’s blankets home to let the dog smell before the big introduction.

Avoid wild movements or loud sounds. Many children initially want to hug and squeeze dogs, but they need to remain calm. Sudden body movements can easily frighten a pooch and cause them to protect themselves by biting or nipping.

Don’t interrupt a dog that is eating or sleeping. Startling a dog is a sure fire way to cause an issue. Tell children to give them space and you can make introductions later.

Always ask permission before approaching a dog that doesn’t belong to you. Children need to learn that not all animals are friendly and cuddly. This simple gesture can prevent unsafe situations from developing. Growling and nipping are sure fire ways to grow a fear of dogs in children.

Watch the dog’s tails and body expressions. If you notice his tail is rigid, his ears are back, and the fur on his back is sticking up, then you should approach with extreme caution. He is telling you he’s not sure if he is ready to greet you.

Never leave a child and pet unattended. Even the nicest and most well-mannered dogs have been known to bite when their fur gets pulled, a leg gets bent the wrong way, a child sits on him, and more. To protect both the kid and the dog, it’s best to always be nearby and watching the two together.

meet our child-friendly dogs: